Question: My son and I arrive in Habana the night of Dec 26 and do not have a reservation at a casa or a hotel for that night. Can you suggest a good place for about $75? We plan to leave the next day for Santa Clara, Trinidad, Camaguey and on to Santiago via Viazul. Is it possible to reserve seats online? Or can we buy tickets the day we travel?
Answer: When arriving in Cuba on the night of December 26th, or on the evening of the 31st, which also happens, it is often difficult to make reservations “on the spot” either in hotels or in homestays, as this is the height of high season and a time when many overseas visitors arrive in the country. To avoid “walking the streets” at this time in search of available accommodation, you would be well advised to do either of two things:
- Consult your local travel agent to book a hotel for you in Havana. Often, bookings through overseas travel agents are less expensive than reserving a room once in Cuba.
- Consult some of the travel guide books to Cuba, as many are now listing homestay rentals including phone numbers, email addresses (when these exist) and even websites, as well as a small description of the accommodations.
As for Viazul, in Havana their address, phone number and email is as follows:
Avenida 26 y Zoológico
Nuevo Vedado, Ciudad de La Habana
Telephone (537) 881-1413 or (537) 881-5657
Fax (537) 883-6092
Tickets can be purchased, in person, in the Havana terminal, or you can call them and make a reservation by phone, including receiving your designated seat number. You would then have to get to the bus terminal one hour before departure to purchase your ticket. But again, keep in mind that you’re coming at high season when many people travel.
According to the Viazul website, reservations can also be made and paid for online by credit card. (Note: credit cards payable against US banks are not accepted in Cuba.) When paying online, Viazul uses an encryption system to protect your credit card number. The website says that reservations made online are guaranteed once payment is received, with a confirmation email then sent that must be printed out and presented, along with your passport, at the bus station. Online reservations must be made and paid for at least 72 hours before travel. The website also indicates that if, by chance, the receipt of payment is not received by email, you email Viazul firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information can be found on the Viazul website. At the present time, the Viazul website appears to exist only in Spanish. Some years ago, they used to have an English-language site, but this may no longer exist. However, you may want to try it, as perhaps it’s easier to access from outside the country than from within. The website is www.viazul.com/en/