Reviews & tips Viazul Bus Cuba
April 4 2016
Name: Victoria Larson
We booked online in Canada and paid for our Viazul bus tickets, received a computer printout. In Cuba at the various Viazul bus terminals, we had no problems at all. We were sent to an area where people with prepaid vouchers were directed, showed our receipts and in a few minutes we were processed, our luggage put in a secure area and we were seated until the bus arrived. Good service at several stops that we used in Cuba.
May 23 2015
Your country: USA
Poor service and disrespecful drivers on Viazul
Process of traveling from Baracoa to Guantanamo via Viazul (4/28/15 @ 10:38 am) started with the ONE person who sells the tickets not being in the office (due to her child being ill). They have no backup personnel. Luckily she was back in the office the morning we needed to travel. The bus is comfortable for the most part and the price is right but the drivers use it as their personal vehicle with no regard for the overall comfort of the paying customer. Stops along the way:
1)Left 15 minutes late.
2)to pick up friends/relatives at the front of the bus station to ride for free in the best seats up front.
3) To get a cup of coffee from a friend and chat awhile.
4)At family/friends to visit again and put a basket of bananas below and a bottle of batidos for their ride.
5)Stopped for lunch at someone's house and told us we could get out and take pictures while their friends/family sold chocolate and whatever. There was nothing but the house to take pictures of; no view. Yet 5 minutes down the road was a beautiful spot (where other's had stopped) to take view pictures; we didn't stop there!
6) Stopped again for a pick up of more refreshments and
7) in a non-smoking bus, the bus driver was smoking! So RUDE!
March 30 2015
Name: AMC Claessens
I have read horror stories about the Viazul bus services, but I have nothing but good experiences. I made my reservations online on their website and they were punctual and provided safe rides with two drivers. In Varadero changing to an earlier bus was no problem. In Cienfuegos and Trinidad the luggage carriers expected a little tip (propina).
The station in Havana is a little bit difficult to figure out, but if you know how it works, it's easy. The first desks where you get in are to make reservations for future days. If you need to check in or want to buy tickets for today, walk up the stairs into the big room and line up in the queue.
In Cienfuegos no need to go into the big chaotic waiting room for other transport, Viazul has separate waiting room/check in first office on the right hand when entering the station.
The buses are reasonably clean, depending on the age of the bus. Varadero-Havana was a very new one. I didn't need to use the toilet on the bus, would avoid that at any time. Most of the (longer) trips there is a stop provided for bathroom use or lunch at a parador.
Jan 22 2015
Name: Sven De Bruyne
Your country: Belgium
Your review: These Viazul buses are OK once you get on them (if you forget about the freezing cold airconditioning and many broken chairs). It's getting on them, however, that is a complete disaster. Even with a reservation that has already been paid for online, you have to line up in a queue that will take hours and hours even with only 15 people in front of you.
Communication in the Viazul stations is non-existent and every question you ask (even in Spanish) is answered with a rude reply like they were talking to a dog. Also, cuban people will ALWAYS be served first (like everywhere in Cuba), they just walk to the front of the queue and it seems they don't really care about tourists at all.
So be warned: if you want to get on one of these buses, make sure to arrive 2 HOURS beforehand in the Viazul station and try not to lose your patience. We have experienced this same sh*t over and over during our travel in at least 10 different Viazul stations.
I have been on the buses in Cuba so many times and from many different cities. One time in particular I was supposed to land at Veradero where my friends were waiting to pick me up at the terminal. However, my travel agent failed to tell me that my flight had to be changed to the day before and consequently no flight to Veradero. I was lucky enough to catch a last minute flight to Havana instead. The bus driver on Viazul took me from Havana all the way to Veradero and actually detoured to take me to the airport where my friends were still waiting for me to arrive even if I was almost 6 hours late. Other times I have had to fly into Holguin and get a ride to the bus station there and a bus takes you to Santiago de Cuba. Have never had a problem getting off where ever I needed to get off. However, I usually just go to the bus station anyway. As mentioned in some of the other posts - take a blanket, sweater or jacket, food and water as there are some long stretches with no stops and it can be quite cool (even cold) with the air conditioning. The price is very reasonable and no one ever asked for a tip or extra money to handle your luggage. One or 2 CUC's is all I ever give if I ask for help. One thing I will advise anyone that is travelling on any type of public transport do not flash your wealth. By that I mean - don't wear fancy jewellery or carry a wad of money around with you. Keep it in a money belt around your waist and just keep a little in your pocket. That way you won't temp anyone to try to rob you or take advantage of you. The penalty for that if they are caught doing it is very severe so why tempt them. It is rare that anyone would even try but it is better to be safe than sorry. Just enjoy the ride.
Name: Giuseppe Fristachi
Travel in Cuba
Unless you have your own (quite expensive)car, the most common way to travel in Cuba is by Viazul long distance (and long travel time!) buses.
- usually freezing temperatures in the bus;
- buses stop usually every 1,5-2 hours (at main bus stations)with additional 45min stops at restaurants if travelling at lunch/dinner time; not essential to bring own food during travel
- strongly recommended to pre-organize bus station pick up by Casa particular, to avoid the assault by jineteros
- not easy or, in some stations not feasible at all, to prebook locally or to be sure of place, in particular if getting the bus at intermediate stations; if feasible, strongly recommended, particularly during busy holiday periods, to buy in advance the tickets via internet (better from home country; note that internet is not simply accessible in cuba)
Via Azul Camaguey
The staff asked me: 1 CUC per luggage to pay. Do NOT PAY this!
You paid for the bus that includes baggage.
I have written to Via Azul, but you do NOT get any response.
So, be warned with this company!!
Name: Susan Quinn
When my husband and I were recently in Cuba, we travelled around by Viazul and never had a problem. We travelled from Veradero to Cienfuegos, then to Trinidad, later to Sancti Spiritus and later to Santa Clara. No problemo. People at the stations were helpful. Buses were clean. Cold, yes. Bring your own food. Yes. They stop for pit stops or have a toilet on board. And we don't have much Spanish at all. The bus leaves on time! Wow - they were always prompt and arrived as per schedule. If I were to travel long distances, I'd break it up though. But then I don't like sleeping on a bus. Split your trip and see the sights.
Hi lads. I agree with what you mentioned about the viazul busses. However, I would like to add that taking one from havana to Bayamo in May, 2008 I was attended by a rude black stocky lady in her 30s who scoffed at me when I enquired about the nearest bus to Bayamo. So, I had to peer at the shabby notice on the peeling wall to get some information. Then armed with patience I started waiting and when I caught a glimpse of a parking bus she hailed in a rude way. She was like "Come here, stupid turista. Here is your ticket". When I got that scrap of paper she started labelling my 2 suitcases charging additionally somewhat 30 CUC despite the fact the bus was only 10 meters away. To my question "Isn't the luggage included in the price of the ticket?" she mumbled something offensively to me. Then, inspite of being tired after a 9 hour flight from madrid I said straight into her face "Your workplace is in the fruitmarket.In Spain people like you last just 1 day in a job". You should have seen her long face. It is true the bus made too many stops during my night trip and on each station they unloaded mail and who knows what else. It is true it was absolutely freezing and noisy so when the bus stopped again this time with the sun shining I was among the first ones to come up to the bar to order a coffee. The bartender was so slow attending some cubans first, that I decided to poke at him saying "Are you bringing me some coffee or you lost your memory?" It worked perfectly. To crown it all, one must watch your CUCs there,because they think all of us kind of millonairs and should be happy with the service offered enjoying the landscapes of La isla de la Libertad.
In reply to Guennadi
Name: Travelling Girl
I have just seen your message on Cuba Junky. A few things I might suggest to you:
1. Why travel to the carribean if you are going to be this intolerant of their way of doing things
2. Why mentioned the Assistant's colour (you mentioned she was black.....#? Her colour has no impact on her behaviour. So, do us a favour: keep your racism for sunny Madrid.
3. Agression: Why be so aggressive to the locals? If you cannot cope with foreigners then don't go abroad.
The Cubans are people like me #and maybe you but I am not sure about that), some are nice, some are nasty, some clever and some stupid. Take that into consideration when you travel.
Perhaps you encountered problems because you are angry and intolerant. I expect all your trips are wretched and miserable but that is because you are making them so. Try easing up, accepting the wild ride to foreign places. I mean, you never know: you might actually be happy for five minutes.
Hola amigas/amigos! Gracias for the rebutal to the Spaniard! Been to Cuba many times..have a Cuban brother and have been adopted into his family!! Life doesn't get any better! Realize what most of the Cubans have...not much ,so show respect and charity please! It is all about family,friends and fun! And that is why this place is my home!!! Gracias
In reply to the Viazul scam
I have been in Cuba several times and traveled by various means of transport, also by Viazul bus. The one thing that is true about the story is that it is very cold on the bus and it's advisable to have a warm sweater and jeans rather than shorts. But other than that I found the 16-hour trip from Havana to Santiago quite agreeable and as I traveled mostly during the day it also gave me the opportunity to see parts of Cuba I would otherwise probably not have seen.
We stopped in several cities, about every 2 hours - but that was to be expected, as it was according to schedule. The stops were long enough to do whatever you needed to do, including eat something.
As for the food - whenever you travel a little off the beaten tracks you\'ll notice how difficult it is for Cubans to procure even the basics and I\'d think twice before complaining about the food. Only us - the spoilt tourists - get pretty much what they want. Also, as always it helps a lot if you speak the language. Even the slightest effort is well received, I always found the Cubans very helpful and was never ripped by anyone.
Viazul = great bang for your CUC buck! Everyone who has checked out Viazul online before heading to Cuba knows to ALWAYS bring a pullover. An overnight trip anywhere would find one in my pack.
As for my fellow countryman's take on the Cuban doctor: she could afford time away from her practice because Cuba has so many doctors. Cuba has one of the, if not the, highest doctor-patient ratio in the world and many Cuban doctors can be found spending time with family or indulging in a favorite pasttime that may afford them a little extra income. eg:painting and selling artwork. And if it was not his wife....who cares.
As for the scam, $10 CUC, wow you really got ripped off. A buck or two is fine but $10? A taxi would never cost that much.
As for bad roadside food...ya, your in Cuba. Again, ALWAYS pack for the trip. Food and water is a must, always. Crackers, peanutbutter and H2O is alwasy with me, as is fruit bought roadside and that will get you through until you hit your casa and a great local meal.
Can't stand the the music and the trip? Try bussing through Belize or Guatemala, among other places. Load up your smart phone or i-pod with a couple of thousand songs and you won't have to worry about it.
In response to Tim
I havent had the opportunity to catch a Viazul bus, but i will next month. Your story of woe sounds to me like you have not experienced much in the way of terrible transport in the past. You might want to try and catch a bus in Bolivia some time. Actually, probably best you don't bother. They make your version of Viazul to sound like its first class travel.
Date: June 1 2009
The Viazul Scam
The guide books tell you how great Viazul buses are. How comfortable etc.
However I have to disagree.
They're as cold as ice box for a start. Any polite request that they turn down the a/c is met with a very gruff... 'No Possible'.
So you sit throughout your 15 hour overnight journey shivering. Sleep is out of the question. They love their Scarface movies and DVD's of very loud salsa bands snakehipped charmers in glittery tuxedos circa 1978 and large ladies howling at the top of their voice prohibiting at possibility of sleep.
Viazul stops every hour in ever village and town in Cuba, throughout the night this slow torture continues.
There's no pint in getting off unless you are desper4ate for the men's room since all you will find in those desolate cafes is the ineitable stale cold white bun with a sliver of plastic cheese that will stick in your gut like a lead baloon all night.
Here comes the scam. As you pull into your destination, in our case it was Varadero, you ask politely if you can be dropped off 5 minutes past the terminus as it is closer to your hotel. Sure, no problem they tell you.
What they fail to say is that they will mug you for another 10CUC once they hop off to retrieve your bag.
The 10CUC is swiftly stashed in their pocket. A nice little earner when you consider how many they try this on with during the Santiago to Havana journey.
The charmer who drives the bus is usually accompanied by his wife who brags that her husband earns 5ive times her wage and she's a doctor in Havana. I can believe it if he pulls this scam each night. Little wonder his doctor wife can take time off work to accompany hubby on his long overnight journeys.
This little charmer can be spotted snogging in the front of the bus with his doctor wife when the other driver takes over. Not snogging like a married couple I might add.
If you can find an alernative method of transport throughout Cuba I would advise it. I would not recommend Viazul to my worst enemy. The overnight journey is a particular purgatory, and the scam at the end of your journey is all you need when you are low on cash and at the end of your holiday.