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    by ibobi Fodor's Editor | Posted on Dec 4, 17 at 08:03 PM
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Never all inclusive again!

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Before I went on my first package, I was warned, but not enough. Here is what I hated about the all-inclusive:
- Dinner reservations for the a la carte restaurants, and reservations for the catamarans and banana boats, had to be made 3-4 days in advance... our package had been structured so we were only there 4 nights!
- Food sucked. Salads were all droopy and heavy with mayo (and looked like recycled from last nights hot veggie dishes), hot food was over-cooked and under-seasoned, fruit was not available except whole, pastas were sweet and soft, helado was melting... etc. But anyone who tells you that Cuban food sucks has never left Varadero, and probably never left the all inclusive. Cuban food can be quite good, properly cooked, well-seasoned, excellent variety, fresh un-dressed salads... outside of Varadero.
- If I wanted to have a holiday with Canadians, I would have stayed in Canada! Don't kid yourself about your Cuban "friends". They are part of the "factory" experience!
- No one told me I was going to be "branded" by having to wear a wrist band!
- A/C is either full blast so you freeze, or off so you cook.
- You can't phone from your room, even though there is a phone there. You have to go to the desk and a booth and get official paper work.
- The excursions cost twice what they were worth.
- Most wait staff are rude even if tipped. I can't believe the tips expected... you could buy the drink with that in town!

The good parts: the beach. Which cost half as much if you stayed in a hotel in town and ate at local restaurants and took excursions through Havanatur and the like. I will stick to independent travel, then I can afford to go twice as often.

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