Safety Guidelines

THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING GARDNER TOURS!

Gardner Tours invests an ample amount of time and resources in developing relationships and partnerships built on trust and excellence in order to provide the best possible experiences and opportunities for our travelers. We do this while striving to keep cost and risk as low as possible for you while maintaining a high quality experience throughout.

Traveling to Gardner Tours destinations is usually an amazingly rewarding and enjoyable experience. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that some of the risks you may face while traveling may be different to those encountered in your home country. While we cannot identify all of the risks you may face when traveling in our offered destinations, some of the key risks and recommendations are outlined below:

  • In the event that you need medical attention, know that local medical facilities and general public service infrastructure may not be up to the same standard as in developed countries.
  • Natural events such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes may occur anywhere in the world. In lesser developed countries, such as Cuba, local responses by government and non-government agencies and the availability of services following such a catastrophic event may not be the same as those you might expect in a developed country.
  • Road conditions, volume of traffic and respect for road rules is often not the same as those you might expect in a developed country.
  • While the great majority of all interactions you may have with local people in Cuba is positive, there is still a small risk that some people may prey on the vulnerability of travelers. One reason why we work with our specific trusted guides and partners is because they know their country well and what to look for or avoid as far as this type of risk goes and they also know how to help minimize these types of risks when possible.
  • Laws and their application may vary considerably in our countries of operation and may be quite different from those of your home country. Ignorance of a law is not usually accepted as a valid defense if you breach local laws.

Gardner Tours takes all reasonable steps to minimize the risk faced by our travelers, guides, and partners. Please read on to read just a few of the things we do to reduce risk and some of the things you can do to manage these risks yourself.

WHAT GARDNER TOURS DOES TO REDUCE RISKS

Gardner Tours takes its responsibilities to our travelers seriously and goes to every means possible to reduce the risks which our travelers, guides, and partners may face. A few of the key actions we take to reduce risk include:

  • We only partner with restaurants that have a good reputation for great hygiene, food, and service.
  • We recommend health care providers that have a good reputation for their level of care.
  • When applicable, we ask our clients to declare their health and fitness condition and any pre-existing issues prior to commencing a journey with us so we can tailor any tour activities to their appropriate fitness level.
  • We structure itineraries to allow for regular rest stops for drivers, appropriate levels of driving time in any one day and avoidance of road travel after dark when available. Sometimes this impacts the itinerary a small amount, but we strive to be safe as well as provide excellent services to our travelers.
  • We select partners or service providers not simply based on the best price and experience but with appropriate consideration to their approach to the care, health, and safety of our travelers.
  • We ensure that all of our partners and service providers in restaurants, accommodations, boat operators, drivers, guides, etc are correctly licensed and authorized to carry out their business according to local regulations where possible.

GARDNER TOURS BOOKING TERMS & CONDITIONS

These guidelines are for the information of travelers with Gardner Tours. If any statement in these guidelines conflict with or are inconsistent with Gardner Tours’ Booking Terms & Conditions, those terms and conditions take precedence.

GOVERNMENT ADVICE

Gardner Tours is a company in the United States and predominantly follows advisories issued by the United States Department of State. In addition to this, we rely heavily on our staff employed in the regions we operate and their network of contacts for information. We have a number of trusted contacts in Cuba who constantly being updated on developments within the country.

We will not operate tours in a region where theUnited States Department of State has their highest level warning in place ‘Do Not Travel’. We may also implement special amendment or cancellation policies when the warning level reaches ‘Reconsider Travel’. In a situation where such advice is current for a region we are scheduled to run tours, we will restructure tours to avoid that region, amend or delay tours, or cancel tours altogether based on each actual situation.

Please check the governmental travel advice websites in your home country to get the latest news or feel free to contact us to discuss any safety concerns you may have. Below you will find a list of governmental travel advice websites that our travelers often come from.

GENERAL SAFETY & SECURITY

Visiting Cuba is generally safe, however petty street crime may occur. Gardner Tours recommends you wear as little jewelry as possible and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place when out on the street. If you choose to utilize transportation not included in your tour, we further recommend that you take taxis and set a firm price before you start moving. Also, when available, we recommend using a taxi rather than walking at night. It is unwise to walk in deserted, dark streets at night in Cuba. Travelers should stick to well lit, busy areas at night, and walk with others at night if possible, to lessen any risk. We recommend you leave valuables in a safe when provided at your accommodations at all times (or at least locked in your room) and carry photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers, and airline tickets. These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is a requirement of travel with Gardner Tours that all travelers are adequately covered by comprehensive travel insurance prior to arrival to your chosen destination. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. Should you have an existing travel insurance policy, please take a moment to ensure it is up to date, and cover is adequate for your chosen destination and activity. Know that you are liable to purchase insurance on your own. In the event that an incident occurs and you are not covered by the proper travel insurance, Gardner Tours is not liable for you in any way.

*Ensure that your travel insurance covers, at minimum, the risks we have identified and that activities on your itinerary are included in coverage.*

IMPORTANT NOTES ON TRAVEL INSURANCE:

• Travel insurance ‘attached’ to credit cards is often limited in scope (e.g. not covering serious medical, repatriation or evacuation expenses or other risks mentioned earlier) and in any case is usually effective only if travel arrangements have been purchased with the card.
• Travel insurance associated to a United States issued credit card or bought from a United States owned company will not be recognized in Cuba.
• Government regulations in Cuba might not require or enforce the possession of liability or professional indemnity insurance by accommodations, transport and other suppliers. Even when insurance is in place, it can be for very limited coverage only.
• Please contact us if you wish to confirm if your policy complies.

HEALTH

Travelers to Gardner Tours destinations should take the same precautions as they would elsewhere in developing countries. In remote areas, medical facilities can be particularly basic. We strongly recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimize your risk of exposure to these health risks. We are a tour company and we are not qualified to provide detailed medical information appropriate to your individual needs. We recommend you consult with your local doctor or a specialist travel medical center for current health information on vaccinations and medicines for your trip at least one month prior to departure.

Even if you have followed our guidelines, accidents may occur. Please note that in the often hot and humid conditions of Cuba, even minor abrasions can quickly become infected and almost certainly some level of medical aid will be required – another reason to have comprehensive travel insurance and to pack a basic medical kit.

As far as personal medical assistance goes, you know yourself best, but we suggest you bring:

  • Aspirin
  • Antihistamine
  • Cold & Flu tablets
  • Diarrhea Medication
  • Nausea Medication
  • Insect Repellent
  • Antiseptic & Bandages
  • Sunscreen & Lip Balm
  • Antibiotics (discuss with your doctor)
  • Medication/Prescriptions (we suggest carrying a doctor’s letter while traveling if you carry a large amount of meds)

TRANSPORTATION

On all tours with Gardner Tours, all included transportation is detailed on each tour page, but in the case that you choose to utilize transportation not included in your tour, we ask that you adhere to the following recommendations:

Taxis

All taxi transport is usually included in our tours (all included transportation is detailed on each tour page), but if you choose to utilize transportation not included in your tour, know that taxis are usually metered and inexpensive and we recommend their use for personal transport in cities where available. It is generally safer to ask your guide or hosts at your accommodations to call a taxi rather than hailing one on the street. To assist in successfully finding your way back to your accommodations, ensure you obtain an address and take a photo of the location to show drivers where you want to go.

Vehicles

On the road, we generally try to us use air-conditioned vehicles, but air-conditioner is not always available – depending on demand and available transportation, even with our partners in transport. Where transport is included in your tour, know that we partner with trusted drivers that drive vehicles in good working order. Buses are often utilized for transporting larger groups, and minibuses or passenger cars (sometimes they are classics, sometimes they are more modern) are used for transporting smaller numbers of travelers. Seat belts are not always present, particularly in the back seats of vehicles in Cuba, but where seat belts are present, we strongly recommend you use them. In the case that you choose to utilize vehicles not included in your tour, know that vehicles in more remote areas and lesser developed regions of Cuba may not be of the same standard as our partners or those in the bigger cities or more developed countries.

Flights

In the case that your Gardner Tours tour package includes domestic flights, know that local airlines in Cuba operate relatively modern, well-maintained fleets, however schedules frequently change or flights can be cancelled and this can sometimes result in alterations to your itinerary. Gardner Tours has no control over these situations, but we are conscious of these scenarios when we build our itineraries.

SCUBA DIVING, SWIMMING & OTHER ACTIVITIES

Scuba Diving

In some cases, scuba diving is an included option in our tours. Equipped and staffed dive centers in Cuba are located throughout the country. Bilingual dive instructors are certified by international agencies including the American Canadian Underwater Certification (ACUC), the Confederation Mondiale dÁctivites Subaquatiques (CMAS), Scuba Schools International (SSI) and more. PADI (US-based) does not operate in Cuba, but PADI certification is accepted in Cuba.

While dive centers do have equipment to rent, as in all developing countries there are occasions that the gear might be relatively old and worn (but in most cases, equipment still in perfectly good working order). Gardner Tours recommends that if you are traveling to Cuba to dive frequently, you should bring your own equipment where possible (dive computer, mask, fins, BCD and regulator).

If you are uncomfortable using any of the dive gear provided at any location, you should opt out of the dive and review other options.

Tips for a successful diving in Cuba:

• Bring your dive certification as it will be required by all dive centers.
• It is a good idea to bring your passport to all dive centers.
• Your first dive of the day should be the deepest.
• Eliminate or reduce alcoholic drinks.
• Drink as much water as possible before diving.
• Decrease the number of dives two days before flying.
• Do not fly (international flights) until 24 hours after your last dive.
• Always have travel insurance that includes diving in the policy.

*Always dive to the conditions and to your own comfort levels. Do not dive deeper than you are certified to, and signal to your dive leader and dive buddy immediately if you are feeling uncomfortable.*

Swimming

Swimming at the many beaches and bays in Cuba is usually safe. Know that beaches in Cuba are not patrolled by surf lifeguards as they are in many developed countries. Travelers should make their own decisions about the safety of swimming and the current surf conditions and swim at their own risk.

Optional Activities

At any moment during your tour, you are free to opt out of an included experience. In the case you choose to do so, know that you are liable to cover the costs of such experiences or tours. Gardner Tours does not take responsibility for any activity that one of our travelers participates in that involves scuba diving, is not part of our itinerary, or is not booked through Gardner Tours.

**Gardner Tours acts only as an agent for the owner and operators of various accommodations, facilities, and services, and carries nor assumes any responsibility or liability for service, transportation, or equipment made available by any resort, hotel, BnB, or other person or entity, either as to its availability or as to its safety, quality or condition.**

 

Again, thank you for choosing Gardner Tours! We hope you enjoy your holiday!