In recent years, Cuba has been one of the most popular holiday destinations for British holidaymakers, with TUI, the UK’s largest tour operator, providing all-inclusive package holidays to popular resorts such as Varadero, as well as to smaller resorts like Jibacoa.
Cuba has a unique culture and is famous for its old American cars, its political history and for its rum and cigars. Holidaymakers are also of course equally drawn to the Island by the fact that it offers a chance to spend time in the sun on white sandy beaches during the dreariest months of UK weather.
Once the current travel restrictions allow, we are sure that package holidays to Cuba will be as popular as ever with British tourists.
Apprehension about Holiday Illness in Cuba
Whilst we are excited and optimistic about the prospect of tourists being able to resume their travels to Cuba later in the year, we sincerely hope that after such an extended period of hotels being ‘out of action’, TUI and others do everything possible to ensure that when they reopen, they are safe and that guests are protected and kept safe.
Hotels and tour operators must, quite obviously, take steps to keep guests safe from Covid-19, but not at the expense of allowing other illness-causing bugs including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora and E.Coli to thrive.
Our fear is that hotels, in going from a lockdown situation to a position whereby they are expected to accommodate and cater for potentially thousands of guests, will neglect the steps that they should be taking to reduce the risks of guests contacting bugs that cause symptoms of gastroenteritis.
Illness causing pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter can have a devastating impact on holidaymakers. They can cause short term sickness and discomfort, but can also lead to long term conditions including IBS, reactive arthritis, food aversions and a whole range of bowel issues.
Our fear is that once hotels begin to accept guests again on a large scale basis, there may be a lack of focus on food safety, hygiene standards and adherence with recognised systems designed to reduce the risk of such illnesses being contracted.
This includes Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point or “HACCP” systems, which require hotels to monitor where food is coming from, to ensure that food is stored in hygienic conditions and at correct temperatures, to properly cook and handle food and to make sure that any reheating food is limited and safe.
What can I do to avoid being ill in Cuba?
Holidaymakers will need to be vigilant when hotels start accommodating guests on an all-inclusive basis again.
Many holidaymakers place their trust in hotels and tour operators to get it right when it comes to the serving of food and reasonably expect the food to be safe. If, however, a dish does not taste right, there are signs of food being served undercooked or there are issues with the way that food is being prepared or handled, then our advice is not to eat and to raise your concerns with your holiday representative.
Of course, regular hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers before eating will also help.
Unfortunately though, holidaymakers are typically unaware of what is happening in the kitchens, in the food storage units and behind the scenes generally and so there is no way of truly knowing how hygienic the food being served actually is or whether it is likely to cause sickness.
What should I do if I suffer from a holiday illness in Cuba?
Eating contaminated food typically leads to symptoms of gastroenteritis presenting themselves within 1 to 3 days, although depending on the bug, there may be a longer period between the food being eaten and the symptoms presenting themselves.
Typical symptoms of gastroenteritis can include a combination of diarrhoea, sickness, stomach cramps, nausea and lethargy.
Our holiday law specialists have many years of experience of helping holidaymakers advance claims against tour operators on a No Win, No Fee basis and have secured hundreds of settlements for holidaymakers. The settlements in these claims range from hundreds to many thousands of pounds for genuine holidaymakers that have felt let down by their tour operator.
Most tour operators will deny that any such illness occurred or will say it was caused by something other than hotel food or drink. So it’s vital that if you become ill, you collate evidence so that you can prove that you were ill and that hotel food and drink was a likely cause.
We suggest that you report your illness to the holiday representative and ensure that a copy of your report is given to you or emailed to you. All too often, we have clients that are adamant that they reported being ill, but have no record of their complaint.
We also suggest that you take the names and contact details of others that are ill (as there could be an outbreak at the hotel) and capture photographic/video evidence of anything that concerns you about the hotel’s hygiene standards.
The law allows a holidaymaker that has become ill after consuming unsatisfactory food or drink served to them as part of a package holiday to claim compensation.
The amount of compensation will vary depending on the extent of the illness and the impact of the symptoms, so anyone that has fallen ill on an all-inclusive package holiday at one of the below hotels in Cuba (or indeed any package holiday) in the last 3 years should contact a specialist holiday law expert for legal advice.
Simpson Millar’s holiday claims team can be contacted via the enquiry form on this website or ringing 0808 239 4285.
- Iberostar Tainos
- Blau Varadero
- Iberostar Varadero
- Sol Palmeras
- Royalton Hicacos
- Ocean Vista Azul
- Havana and Varadero
- Iberostar Selection Bella Vista Varadero
- Melia Internacional Varadero
- Memories Jibacoa Hotel