Iberostar Daiquiri and Iberostar Mojito

2 Cuba Resort Comparisons

All information and pricing was effective as of January, 2016 and is subject to change. The 2 resorts are 37.2km or a 30 minute drive, apart and roughly 6-6.5hrs from Havana.  The Mojito is to the East on Cayo Coco and is listed as a 3.5* yet it consistently has  higher ratings than the Daiquiri, which is a 4* and is located to the West on Cayo Guillermo.


Depending on your check out time at either resort, consider paying the $18 pesos for the VIP lounge before your flight back home. They serve drinks, food and snacks available, which it is cheaper than purchasing them at the airport vendors. When you are doing your airport check in, ask the counter attendant if the lounge is available.

When in Cuba, you will need a voltage converter to reduce the voltage down from 220 volts to 110 volts. There normally is a 110 volt socket in the bathroom to use for low wattage items like shavers or battery chargers. If you try and use it for appliances that generate heat, like hairdryers, curling irons and flat irons, even though you can plug them into the sockets, the difference in the voltage means it WILL fry the appliance and render it ruined.

Most of the newer personal electronic items like; digital camera, camcorder battery chargers and laptops will work on both voltages, but you have to check the writing on the plug adapter. If it says: Input: AC 110V-240V; 50Hz/60Hz it will work in the 220 volt socket.

Surprisingly, a lot of electronic and electric devices in Canada and the USA dual voltage, but if the plug on it is polarized, with one pin wider than the other, you will still need an adapter in Cuba as their electrical wall sockets are NOT well grounded. Some of the newer Cuban resorts or ones which have undergone major renovations have been changing their hairdryers in the rooms and removing the shaver outlet because of guest misuse.

It is best to exchange your money at the reception desk or resort currency exchange desk at the resort for a slightly better deal than doing it at the airport.

Iberostar Mojito


Book the Superior Ocean view or Superior Sea view rooms as there is normally very little difference in price and a big difference in value. This resort is rated #3 of 11 in Cayo Coco on trip adviser. It is listed as a 3.5* but it has the highest ratings for resorts less than a under 5*.

Internet is available in 2016 for $5 CUPS for 60 minutes and has a relatively fast connection fast for Cuba

The resort is older but clean. It has great pools. It is NOT directly on the beach. It is a 2-4 minute walk along a series of boardwalks over a small lagoon, that while does not smell, does have green algae blooms depending on the time of year. The ambiance at the resort is quite laid back. The sand on the Mojito beach is the best of all nearby resorts. There are NO bathrooms within easy walking distance of the beach

Plan to visit the Cigar Lounge for it’s ambience and amazing guitar player who starts at 9:30 PM

Iberostar Daiquiri


It is listed as a 4* and a step up from Mojito. It has large rooms, is more compact and has had recent renovations to the Superior and Seaview rooms. The rooms in the lobby area have not been renovated.

The food can be mediocre, as it is in most of Cuba.  It is prepared well, there is lots available though it will be repetitive. The buffet tends to be better than the a la carte Mexican and Italian restaurants. Lobby bar serve fantastic espresso in the AM

Wifi available in Lobby only and costs 3 pesos ( $5.00 ) for 1 hour. Late check out can be arranged the day before you leave and costs $5 pesos an hour. The SAFE for a regular room is $12 pesos and included with a superior room.

The beach is very nice but also narrow. High tide will reach the front beach palapas. Wind is strong enough to support an active Kite surfing program with 20 new boards. There is a launch pad on the right side of the beach towards the Cojimar. Do NOT use the marina Kite vendors that will charge 20 USD as they are scam clients.

The Superior Room comes with 2 Twin beds and the Superior Oceanview room will have a King bed. Varadero Buiding is closet to beach and pool. Baracoa much quieter as it is furthest from pool activities. Camaguey building, close to everything and newly renovated. Trinidad block is right across from the theatre bar which does not close until 1 am. Holguin building is renovated.


Sand fleas are highly active after rainy season and through December. It changes with the season and weather; bring bug repellent with Deet. Beds will be very firm and not overly comfortable and do not improve with changing resorts. Limited Hot water supplies are common as is low water pressure, toilets are slow to flush, limited toilet paper. Resorts have an inability to provide condiments, limited laundry availability means beach or room towels may not be replaced often. Slow to repair damaged items at the resort depending on tools, material required. Red meats are often highly salted. Drinking water not regularly brought to your room and can be found in the restaurant or in the bars. Bring your empty water bottles for re-filling.


Take the opportunity to do a half day tour to the local town of Moron as an excursion which departs every Tuesday and Thursday. They provide non-alcoholic or alcoholic drinks and a Cuban lunch. If you visit on your own, then you could stop at Pozo de Los Deseos, which is a little restaurant just on the outskirts of Moron and serves lobster at an amazing price.

The 2 1/2 hours, double decker bus ride, costs $5CUC to Pilar beach, which is a stunning. As it is only a few kilometres from the resort, you could opt for a van which departs at your convenience and for 7 people will cost roughly $35.00 CUCs and they will pick you up at your pre-arranged time. The beach loungers cost $2.00 per person.



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New Leaf Airline

Canada has a new budget airline. New Leaf is a privately held company, headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba using aircraft operated by Flair Airlines, which has been operating since 2003 with a fleet of Boeing 737-400.

NewLeaf cannot guarantee that food served on board will free from peanuts, peanut by-products. They do NOT have vegan or gluten free snack options. They are a discount carrier with limited options or on-board services. If you do travel and need assistance, then they can be reached at their Special Needs Department in Winnipeg at (204) 888-HELP (4357)

Ages between 12 and 18 are allowed to travel by themselves without a parent or guardian

Ages between 8 and 11 can travel as an unaccompanied minor mandatory fee of $110 for this service, which includes a drink and a snack. It is not a service available to children with disabilities or children who could otherwise NOT successfully travel without a parent. Because an unaccompanied minor service must be booked by calling the Customer Service Department, there is an additional booking fee of $15, totaling $125.00 per unaccompanied child.

Personal Bag (under seat) – Items such as ID, travel documents, jewelry, keys, medication and mobile communications devices and must fit into the size device at the check in and departure counters which measure 16cm x 33cm x 43cm (6 in x 13 in x 17 in) 10kg (22 lb)

Children under age two at the time of departure are considered to be infants and may travel on a parents lap for free.


MUST be placed in the overhead storage as the  personal item must be placed below the seat in front of you. You can check up to 3 (three) bags maximum IN ADDITION TO your carry on baggage. The size limits are: 23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm (9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in)  and 10 kg (22 lb) per bag. There is a large price difference between checking the carry on bag option online and advising the counter attendant that you have a carry on bag when you check in.

AT THE GATE             $80 FEE + 13%tax

If no seat is selected in advance, a seat will be assigned at check-in

Selecting a seat in front half of the aircraft:    Rows 1 – 11
FEE $20 at AIRPORT CHECK-IN + 13%tax

Selecting a seat in rear half of the aircraft:    Rows 14 – 26
FEE $15 at AIRPORT CHECK-IN + 13%tax

Selecting An EXIT ROW seat:                      Rows 12 & 13
FEE $30 at AIRPORT CHECK-IN + 13%tax

FEE $15 at AIRPORT CHECK-IN + 13%tax

FEE $10 when boarding pass is printed at AIRPORT CHECK-IN + 13%tax

Up to four (total for each aircraft) small pets that are not considered dangerous and are secured in a suitable pet carrier can be housed in the cabin
FEE $75 + 13%tax

Add TravelFLEX FEE of $20 (plus applicable GST/HST) per person per segment and must be paid at the time of your initial booking on their website, which will incur no additional fee. If you phone the call centre there will be an additional FEE of $15 + 13%tax, for booking through the Call Centre.

The flex fee can be used ONCE to change flight date, destination or Travellers name, or any 1 or 2 of the total, at the same time. The new flight date must be within 90 days of the original booking flight date. Fare price differences are in addition to the change fee.

FEE of $75 + 13%tax for each separate time you make a change to the reservation up to three hours of the flight departure.

FEE of $100 + 13%tax if you make a change at the airport check-in counter up until 45 minutes prior to flight departure.



Abbotsford International Airport (YXX)
30440 Liberator Ave, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6H5 / (604) 855-1001

Kelowna International Airport (YLW)
5533 Airport Way, Kelowna, BC V1V 1S1 / (250) 765-5125

Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport (YXE)
2625 Airport Dr, Saskatoon, SK S7L 7L1 / (306) 975-8900

Regina International Airport (YQR)
5201 Regina Ave, Regina, SK S4W 1B3 / (306) 761-7555

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson  International Airport (YWG)
2000 Wellington Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3H 1C2 / (204) 987-9402

John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM)
9300 Airport W, Mount Hope, ON L0R 1W0 / (905) 679-1999

Halifax International Airport (YHZ)
1 Bell Blvd, Enfield, NS B2T 1K2 / (902) 873-4422

If you are going to compare pricing for the routes that New Leaf is going to fly, make sure that you add in the price of baggage plus their taxes, to the published fare as with Air Canada and West Jet, it is included inside the price structure.

I checked the pricing on 2 routes which New Leaf will service, against what is available with air Canada and West Jet. The posted price includes travel with 1 personal bag, 1 checked bag and 1 carry on bag and calling a reservation agent, then printing your boarding pass at the airport.

The dates chosen were based on New Leaf flight schedule. No Seat selection or priority boarding were chosen. The prices change with the major airlines on a daily basis, so my comparison is only good for the time I looked at it and is not to be used as anything other than a snapshot of what there prices could be.


Toronto (yyz) or Hamilton (yhm) to Halifax (yhz)

New Leaf (Hamilton/Halifax)  $442.48

Air Canada (Toronto/Halifax)  $467.47

West Jet     (Toronto/Halifax)   $245.14


Toronto (yyz) or Hamilton (yhm) to Winnipeg (ywg)

New Leaf (Hamilton/Winnipeg)   $374.55

Air Canada (Toronto/ Winnipeg)  $382.24

West Jet     (Toronto/ Winnipeg)   $194.90


Buyer Beware
Ultimately, as a consumer purchasing Air Fare, if you want to get the most value for your money it is up to you, to do the research. When an Airline carrier breaks down their fees into components, it is easy to miscalculate your needs and then overpay for the service when faced with check in before your departure and you have no choice but to accept the prices you are given, or risk losing your seat on the plane.

The New Leaf  BUDGET airline which offers minimal services and if you are travelling between destinations and simply need transportation and are not concerned with bringing anything besides a purse or a briefcase,  their prices will be competitive. Once you factor in the need for luggage or a carry on of some sort, then the fees climb enough to ensure the need to compare the flight against other airlines, so you can see which one makes the financial sense to use.

The other Canadian airlines will do the math on what New Leaf is offering and the hope is that competition will drive pricing lower, to the consumer. The problem with Capitalism is that if their model is successful and their fee structure generates more revenue than anticipated, you can see other airlines choosing to follow their lead as well. Or the big players could drop rates and force the new guy out of business, like they’ve done to all the other regional airlines in the past.

Travel Agents do not have access to book flights using this airline, as their business model is to deal directly with the public. If there are any questions about the carrier, a Travel Agent can not assist you with it for this reason. If you want to check published Airline Fares, then during business hours, you can visit my Website to see the current pricing.

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American Airline passenger of size policy

When people book airline tickets online and without the assistance of a Travel Agent or Airline personnel, then they have to accept that they may miss pertinent information which might have been relayed by a professional who has more experience than they do, in regards to traveling.

There was a recent news article posted in November 2015, about a Passenger of Size, flying with American Airlines, who was upset about being asked to remove himself from his seat because he was taking up space in the adjoining seat, which prevented that passenger from sitting comfortably.

He was upset and felt violated and wanted compensation from the airlines. Yet American Airlines, as well as every other airline, have their policies on Special Assistance clearly printed and available on their consumer web sites, which provide guidance as well as the procedures in place to procure additional spacing for people of size.

AA Customers that need extra space

For the safety and comfort of all customers, if a customer’s body extends more than 1 inch beyond the outermost edge of the armrest and a seat belt extension is needed, another seat is required. We encourage customers to address all seating needs when booking.

As the man obviously did not read the company policy about clients who require extra space, the entire situation on the plane could have been avoided by having the Agent performing the check in for the guest, explain to the man what his options were, before he boarded to prevent his embarrassment and let him make the financial choice to pay for the seating he required for the flight.

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Moon Palace Jamaica Grande

You will depart Montego Bay Airport in an Air conditioned Motor Coach and drive 90 minutes East along the main coastal highway, past many other resorts and amazing scenery, to reach Ocho Rios. I highly recommend utilizing the Mo’Bay Arrival and Departure Lounge and Services as you are personally met and escorted past all line ups and into an air conditioned lounge with where snacks and beverages are included.

On arrival into Ocho Rios, on the left hand side ,is the bay. At the furthest point is the entire Moon Palace Jamaica Grande property. Access is through the fenced and gated property, which gives you immediate access to the middle of the town, local shopping and straw markets. One of the highlights of this prime location is that it is only a 4 minute drive away the main Tourist attractions of Dunn River Falls and Mystic Mountain, home of the Jamaican Bobsled ride.

The lovely, protected and shallow beach has a security guard at the property line, preventing anyone but Guests of the hotel from walking to the point, which holds the Palace Dive shop, water excursion area and the Dolphinarium, home of 3 resident Dolphins and a Nurse Shark.

The Cruise Port is located directly opposite the Resort on the other side of the Bay and offers exciting views when ships call at the Ochi port and along with the Mountain, provide an excellent wind break to beach users. It is the perfect location to enjoy your Salt Fish and Ackee a the buffet where an entire station is devoted to traditional Jamaican foods.

Once inside, guests are treated to a choice of refreshing welcome cocktails and a damp, cold scented face towel to refresh themselves as their luggage is removed and processed for room delivery, before they complete their check in, inside at the very large front desk with 10 guest service stations. The resort gift shop is located directly across from it. There are 3 elevators, each with a 9 person capacity for the 14 floor South tower.

Once in your room, you will notice that the décor is modern, neutral and minimalist with a very large widow covering the expanse of an entire wall, affording you views of the ocean, the bay, the resort, the pools and the town of Ocho Rios itself. There is a small seating area for dinners or working and waiting on the table will be a welcome platter of fruit and wine.

There will be either a King sized bed or two double beds in your room and with the Family suites, there will be a connecting door between them to accommodate a total of 6 family members. The beds themselves are absolutely noteworthy because the comfort is completely unparalleled. Not only will you get good nights sleep, it will be hard to get out of bed, even knowing the beautiful surroundings which await you.

The closet is equipped with a laptop sized safe, a steamer for clothes, 2 housecoats and pairs of slippers to utilize during your stay. The bathroom has a massive stand up marble shower and all the bathroom amenities, like lotion, shampoo and conditioner are CHI products, including the blow dryer and flat iron. This saves valuable weight while considering what to pack for your vacation as all these high end luxury products will be waiting in your room.

jmpg amenities

The large 42 inch wall mounted TV is wired for internet and as a smart TV has the Room Service menu located under the “Palace” tab on screen. Of course your stay at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, comes with unlimited access to the free WIFI throughout the resort which has perfect reception no matter the location. You also have unlimited calling to Canada and the USA by dialing *92, the area code and phone number.

jmpg dresser tv area

The resort is a perfect mid size with a large variety of enclaves to tuck away into, which will provide areas for quiet reading, busy pool activities, music or sporting areas. There is a place for everyone at Palace to find contentment in the lifestyle which suits them best. The rooms with the higher numbers, located on the left as you depart 1 of the 3 elevators, have the best Ocean views. To the right side, the rooms face towards the Bay and over the town itself. As a result, the rooms at the front are much quieter at night time, as the building buffers the nightlife from the active Reggae nightclubs in Ocho Rios.

The resort has a natural and romantic ambiance but is also extremely child friendly; all of the children’s indoor daycare areas, outdoor playgrounds and water park features are located in front of the new building, just being finished and which will open in January 2016. This building is also closest to the water sports beach area and the beach volleyball court.

The area for teenagers, is located just down from the child’s area and can also be reached by paths in full sun or complete shade. There are multiple activities such as 2 ping pong tables, non motorized water sports, a flow rider and a teen lounge which has music, video arcade games and pizza. There is so much for them to do, it will be impossible for them to get bored with it.

The resort grounds are beautiful; from little bridges and river pools, the cement stamped cobble stone provides accessibility for people with limited mobility as well as for strollers.

The luxury pampering you expect from Palace Resorts in Mexico, is continued in Jamaica with their incredible AWE-SPA, which is the largest in the Caribbean with 34 treatment rooms. Not only does it house a salon for hair and nails, but a complete hydro therapy pool room, saunas, cold rooms and heated stone loungers.

This is an amazing location to explore the Ocho Rios area while surrounding yourself with luxury and pampering. The food throughout the resort is exceptional and the quality of service is exemplary. With the added bonus of a resort credit of $1500, this makes the all inclusive feature at the Jamaica Moon Palace Grande, the best value for your vacation dollar that is available in Jamaica. The best part is, you can actually book your vacation through TravelonywithJodi and I can make sure you get to experience the Moon Palace  Jamaica Grande resort this winter.

Jodi jmpg Nov 2015


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Gay LBT Friendly Resorts in Cuba

cuba rainbow flag

Varadero is one of the Gay Friendliest places to visit in the Caribbean. There is no gay “scene” in Varadero as it is a tourist enclave which is kept extremely family friendly by the government, while in comparison, Havana does have a gay scene which is the largest in the entire Caribbean. There are excursions available to Havana from any of the resorts in Varadero, which can be booked directly from the front desk. Another option for guests who are more budget minded, is take the Viazul bus to Havana for day trips.

Varadero itself is all about the beach and sunshine, not necessarily the night life, as the majority of  evening activities take place on the resorts so guests simply don’t often feel the need to venture out to look for things to do.

Quite often you see same sex couples walking hand in hand on the beaches and on resort properties showing normal levels of Public Displays of Affection. The entire community is quite Gay friendly and there are simply not many restrictions or considerations to worry about when choosing your resorts, as all GLBT travelers have not expressed any major concern when staying at them. Many people do develop a preference to their resort destination, in accordance to their own personal style preference and budget.

Caleta is at the beginning of the Peninsula and of Varadero, so it has easy access to shops, restaurants and clubs.  The beach at this end has courser shell type sand, compared to the other end which tends to be finer. All the resort beaches in Varadero are wonderful and you can literally walk for miles.


The first resort I would highly recommend is the Breezes Varadero. Others which are GLBT friendly and accepting are: Royal Hicacos, Breezes Bella Costa , Tuxpan, Be Live Turquesa, Sunscape, Willemsted Curacao, Cuatro Palmas, Barlovento, Arenas Blancas. Arenas Blancas is the higher end sister property of Solymar and guests share amenities between them.

The more lively end of town is near the resorts of Cuatro Palmas, Palma Real and Solymar.

Solymar seems to have a younger and louder clientelle. If you prefer a quieter area, away from larger crowds, then traveling by coach 90 minutes to Cayo Coco might be warranted and properties to consider would be the Iberostar Mojito or the NH Laguna.


The most well known and popular bar for Gay friendly guests is called “CALLE 62” which is at the corner of Calle 62 and Av 1ra; just down the street you will find the “Havana Club”, which is mostly tourists with a 5 or 10 CUC cover charge. The bar hosts lesbians, gays, trans and heteros. At the end of this street is the “HAVANA CLUB” which is also gay friendly. The “Comprisita” is a great club to be found near the 4 Palmas and hosts more locals then tourists.

For pertinent information when in destination, simply ask any of the animation teams from the resorts, who are very familiar with the area and all new clubs which may have recently opened.

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Americans: Book your cruise in Canadian dollars

One of the best ways right now for an American to save money when booking a cruise vacation, is to pay for the trip in Canadian funds. The Canadian dollar has dropped dramatically and quickly over the last few months and as a result, it means an almost 20-25% discount for Americans when they ask their Travel Agent to charge them for their cruise in Canadian instead of US dollars.

You can pay for your cruise fare, taxes and gratuities. You can also prepay for On-board credits, so you don’t pay in USD while on the ship. You can go onto your cruise website and pre-book and pre-pay for your excursions as well and in many instances you can also arrange for things such as spa passes, which you can buy online and in advance of your cruise. Just remember that the exchange rate you are given depends on the day you book your trip.

A little bit of planning can go a long way to make cruising a very affordable vacation option, especially when you take advantage of cruise promotions which can include things such as 3rd, 4th and 5th guest sharing a stateroom, sailing for free, other than just paying taxes which would be combineable with promotions which include all alcoholic beverages or all dining choices at the specialty restaurants or even free wifi or shore excursion credits. It all depends on the cruise line you book with and the promotion’s they have.

Visit my Travelonly page and sign up for my Wednesday email for Travel deals and tips.

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Unexpected change of Travel Plans

Travelling often does not make a person a ‘seasoned traveler’. Oftentimes, real and valuable experience comes from running into complications which must be overcome. This helps to create a person who is unafraid of roadblocks and teaches you to easily navigate changes to plans, not just with travel, but in life. It allows you to be creative in your approach to solving issues and enables you to gain confidence that you can overcome them. You create competence with tribulations and you become an expert at knowing you can manage anything that comes your way. So, don’t be upset if and when your travel plans change, treat it like the opportunity it is. Unexpected changes to your travel plans will eventually happen and they do not have to ruin your vacation or the experience you hoped for. It is simply a way for you to grow into a more seasoned traveler who can share your epic adventure with others; remember, no great story ever shared, started with, “Everything was uneventful.”

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