Virgin Atlantic podcast guide to Havana

The Virgin Atlantic airline has launched their second travel podcast – a guide to Havana, Cuba.

Running at about eight and a half minutes, the story is narrated by Clive Anderson, familiar to British TV viewers as the host of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? stand-up comedy show.

‘Narrated’ is the right word as he sounds like he’s reading a script. He doesn’t actually introduce himself so if you’ve never heard his voice before, you’d have no clue as to who the speaker is. So his comment of “Having been there myself I can tell you there’s nothing quite like it” lacks that ring of authenticity if you don’t know who’s saying it (it could be anybody).

While the whole thing is quite pleasant listening, imagine how better it could have been had it carried a greater air of reality, with a flavour of the streets of Havana, perhaps, rather than the recording-studio air that it does have. So, for example, when talking about the streets full of 1950s Chevys, this hotel or that cigar shop, imagine how more powerful it would be for the listener to hear street sounds at least. As it is, the podcast starts with some salsa-esque music and then straight into Clive and a typically British mangled pronunciation of Spanish-language place names.

But it would be churlish to criticize it more than that. I think it’s great that Virgin Atlantic is using this medium. And as I haven’t been to Havana before, if I were flying there on a Virgin Atlantic 747 I’d listen to it to complement the printed guides and other written information I’d have about my trip.

As for someone who has been to Havana before, what would their reaction be to the content? Kindly or scathing? If one negative reaction from a native New Yorker to Virgin Atlantic’s first travel podcast on New York is any guide, the indicator isn’t too promising.