art us cuba relations
Will It Affect Me?

New Cuba Policies

On November 8, 2017, The US Treasury Department amended some of the Cuba Travel policies that apply to US Citizens and residents. US Citizens & Resident are still permitted to travel to Cuba legally. Groups who are traveling on licensed people-to-people trip with Cuban Cultural Trips, must ensure they maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and the experiences should result in meaningful interaction between the traveler(s) and individuals in Cuba. All people-to-people groups should be accompanied by a US-based representative. For more information, you can follow the links below. If you are interested in traveling under one of the other 12 categories of legal travel to Cuba, please let us know and we will guide you through the process:

US Treasury FAQ - November 8, 2017

Cuba Restricted Entities 

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Is Cuba Safe?

Safety In Cuba

Cuba is a safe destination and crime rates are very low. However, Cuban Cultural Trips recommends being cautious when traveling in unfamiliar areas, especially at night, you may encounter uneven surfaces, open holes in sidewalks and other hazards. Besides these hazards, walking around Havana and other Cuban cities is safe and you will likely make new friends or even be invited into someone’s home. Always use common sense and take care of your personal items like cameras, purses, wallets and travel documents. We recommend leaving your passport at your hotel or casa particular and only bringing enough cash with you for that day’s activities.

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Are There Vaccinations Required?

Health Recommendations

While there are no vaccinations required for entry to Cuba, we recommend that you consult your physician for vaccination recommendations and specific health concerns based on your physical condition. We recommend visiting the CDC website for health recommendations related to traveling to Cuba.

For information about the presence of the Zika virus in Cuba, please visit the CDC website.

All travelers should be in good physical health and have the ability to walk for periods of one hour at a time, sometimes over uneven surfaces.

US commercial airlines are required to provide mandatory medical coverage valid in Cuba as part of the airline ticket price. Additionally, we recommend that each traveler purchase optional travel insurance that is valid for the duration of their trip to Cuba.

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Will Recent Diplomatic Events Impact My Trip?

Diplomatic Events

Between November 2016 and August 2017, there have been several incidents that have impacted the health of US and Canadian Diplomats stationed in Cuba. During that period, hundreds of thousands of US-based travelers have travelled to the island safely and without incident. The exact nature and origin of these incidents is still under investigation by Cuban, US and Canadian authorities. According to US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, there are “no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected” and it is clear that these incidents were isolated solely to diplomatic staff and their families.

As a result of these mysterious incidents, the US State Department has elected to reduce the staff at the US Embassy in Cuba by 60%. The US Embassy in Cuba will remain open and continue to serve US Citizens in cases of emergencies.

Cuban Cultural Trips understands that there are certain risks associated with traveling to Cuba, as there are with other destinations around the world (i.e. London, Paris, Las Vegas). However, we believe that continued exchange between US travelers and the Cuban People is the most effective way to create dialogue and understanding between the people of these two countries.

Cuban Cultural Trips remains dedicated to providing US Citizens with an opportunity to visit Cuba legally and all of our trips will continue to operate as usual. The safety of our participants’ will continue to be our number one priority. Despite these incidents, Cuba remains one of the safest travel destinations in the world and we are confident that you will be safe throughout your visit. If the situation changes, we will not hesitate to revisit this policy.

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How Much Money Do I Bring?

Money

US credit cards and ATM cards WILL NOT WORK anywhere in Cuba. You should bring cash in US Dollars for all expenses that are not included in your tour package. Cuba is more expensive than many travelers anticipate, so we recommend bringing more cash than you think you may need. Remember, once you arrive in Cuba, there is no way to make a withdrawal from your US bank account.

The CUC, or Convertible Peso is the currency for foreigners in Cuba. The exchange rate is $.0.87 CUC/Dollar. Upon exchanging $100 USD you will receive $87 CUCs. CUC’s have no value outside of Cuba you can use remaining CUCs as a gratuity for your guide/driver or exchange them in the airport for US dollars. US Dollars are generally accepted at the duty free store in the Havana airport. You can exchange money at most hotels and many other locations. Your guide will assist you in exchanging money as needed. Currencies such as Euros or Canadian Dollars can be exchanged for CUCs as well. However, US banks generally charge high fees to exchange USD for other currencies, so we simply recommend bringing US Dollars to exchange in Cuba.

How much cash do you need to bring? We recommend every traveler bring a at least $100 USD per day for additional cash expenses during the trip. This will be excessive for most, but everyone has different preferences and there is no way to make a withdrawal from your US bank account in Cuba. Extra cash can be re-deposited upon arrival in the US.

Spending Money

Some travelers choose to purchase Cuban art, souvenirs, snacks, drinks and participate in optional night-life activities. Transportation to nightlife activities is generally not included in your trip package. A typical taxi will cost between 10-15 CUC per care (up to 4 passengers) to most locations. According to US legislation, all passengers may now bring Cuban cigars or rum into the US for personal use only. Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption. Authorized travelers may also return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use.

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What are the Required Travel Documents?

Required Documents

A visa is required for entry to Cuba. Visas can be purchased on the date of departure directly from the airline. Visas will cost between $50-$100 per person depending on the airline you choose.

Travel to Cuba is limited to 12 categories for US Citizens and permanent residents. Most of our clients travel to Cuba under the “PEOPLE TO PEOPLE” OFAC (US Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Controls) general license, which requires a full time schedule of meaningful interactions in Cuba.

When you depart from the US, you will likely be asked to indicate your purpose of travel to Cuba by signing an affidavit on the date of departure either at airline check-in or at your departure gate.

When returing from Cuba to the US you will go through immigration screening upon arrival. We recommend using the Mobile Passport application for expedited entry to the US.

At immigration, you may be asked how you which category of travel you traveled under. Please remember that you traveled under a general “PEOPLE TO PEOPLE” license to Cuba. You should avoid the words “vacation, tourism and leisure”, since touristic travel to Cuba is prohibited.

They may ask you a few other questions (where do you work, what do you do, etc.). After your immigration screening, you will proceed into the baggage claim area, retrieve your luggage and proceed through the customs screening area. The typical options that are possible as you proceed through the CBP Customs area.

For more information on the legal categories of travel to Cuba, please visit the US Federal Register.

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Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance

Supplemental travel insurance is recommended for all of our participants. Please visit the website below for a quote from our preferred insurance provider. Our agency code is F2016110

https://www.allianztravelinsurance.com

 

water bottle
Can I Drink the Water?

Drinking Water

You will be provided two bottles of water daily by our team in Cuba. Additional bottled water is available for purchase at local stores, restaurants, hotels and at many casas particulares. While many locals do drink the tap water in Cuba, we do not recommended that our travels consume it. However, the ice used in drinks at the restaurant that we have arranged has filtration systems and drinking the mojitos and other drinks containing ice should not be an issue.

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What Should I Expect?

Adjusting Expectations

Traveling to Cuba requires a traveler adjusts all their expectations throughout the trip. The Cuban people are incredibly warm, generous and excited to welcome visitors from abroad with open hearts. However, some of the facilities and infrastructure are not to the same standard that most travelers are accustomed to in the US and other destinations. Traveling with an open mind will help each traveler enjoy their trip and to have a better understanding of the effects of decades of isolation as a result of political and economic policies of the US and Cuban Governments.

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Is Internet Available?

Internet

There is limited internet access in Cuba. In order to access a wifi network, you will need to buy an access card for the national telecommunications network (ETESCA) and use your own device. The ETECSA national wifi access card works at any network with the network name WIFI_ETECSA. Some hotels may have other networks that require login credentials that are specific to that hotel and may be purchased at the front desk or business center. The internet networks in Cuba are generally slow and video chat programs are often blocked or do not work due to limited bandwidth. Applications such as whatsapp, iMessage and other texting applications usually work for texts, but not phone calls or video chats. If internet access is a must, your guide will assist you in obtaining access cards. The price is usually 2 CUC per hour of access and you can log-in and out of the network.

phone
Can I Use My Cell Phone?

Telephones

At this time, there are many US cell phone carriers offering phone service in Cuba. However, rates can be very high since the Cuban Telecommunications company has negotiated very high rates for roaming charges. Most US cell phone carriers charge $2 per MB of data (a typical cell phone photo is about 3MB) and around $.50 for text messages. Rates for phone calls are also around $2 per minute.By switching your phone to airplane mode, you can avoid excessive charges for roaming services from Cuba. If you choose to use your US-Based cell phone in Cuba, please contact your cellular carrier in prior to departure for pricing information and to determine coverage options specific to Cuba.

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Do I Need to Tip?

Gratuities

Your professional guide and driver receive a fair wage for their services, which is included in the price of your trip. Additional gratuities of $12-20 to your guide and $10 to your professional driver per-person, perp-day are customary. Gratuities to your room attendant of about 2 CUC per day are also the custom in Cuba. You can leave a tip at the end of your stay or daily on one of the tables in your room for your attendant Feel free to write a note making it clear that you are leaving a tip. (“Propina” is “tip” in Spanish :)).

Electronics
Can I Bring My Electronics?

Electronics

The majority of hotels and casas particulars in Cuba use US-Style 110V plugs. However, you may consider packing a simple, adapter to allow you to plug your chargers into European style, round prong, 220V outlets. Many locations have both 110V and 220V outlets and the 220V outlets are generally clearly marked. Many electronic devices can accept 110V or 220V and all that you will need is a simple adapter. We recommend checking your device before using it on a 220V outlet.

Personal Electronics
Bringing personal electronics to Cuba is fine. You may bring a cell phone, camera, iPad, laptop, etc. Some items such as drones, satellite phones and GPS Navigation devices are prohibited in Cuba.

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What Should I Pack?

Packing

Cuba is a Caribbean island and the weather is generally hot. Short rainstorms are common, especially between May and September. Shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, sun dresses and lightweight clothing is recommended during the day. Bring comfortable walking shoes, since you will be exploring Old Havana which has many uneven surfaces and cobble stone streets. We suggest bringing a change of clothes for dinners and evening activities. You will not need any formal attire, but Cubans are quite fashionable and normally dress to impress. Please be sure to pack your passport and any medications you may need while in Cuba in your carry-on bag. On your date of departure from the US, you will go through TSA security like any domestic or international flight departing from the US. Be sure to check any baggage containing liquids and gels over 3.4 oz. and any other items that must be checked. Claiming baggage in Cuba can be time consuming and we recommending carrying-on whenever possible. Delays of 2 hours at baggage claim upon arrival in Havana are not uncommon. Each airline has specific baggage fees for Cuba flights. Please consult the airline prior to departure for specific baggage fees for your flight to Cuba. Most airlines charge around $25 for the first checked bag and $40 for a second checked bag. Some airlines do not charge for baggage when departing from Cuba, while others have the same fees as the outbound flight.

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Are There Mobile Apps that I Should Download?

Apps To Download

Maps.me: (http://maps.me) is a state of the art offline mapping program with detailed maps of the entire Island of Cuba and the rest of the world. Once you have downloaded the app, simply zoom in to the map of Cuba and download the offline map. Your GPS enabled phone will find your location without having to connect to wi-fi or cellular networks. You can even search the map for addresses and specific locations like hotels in Havana and route directions offline by foot or by car.

Mobile Passport: The Mobile Passport App (http://www.mobilepassport.us) by Airside Mobile lets you skip the line at US airports for Custom and Border Protection (CBP). Just fill out your profile and answer CBP’s questions – then go straight to the “Mobile Passport Control” express lane at the airport! This is a great alternative to Global Entry.

Get in Touch

Drop us a line or give us a ring with any questions you may have for us. We are here to help!

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Contact
Cuban Cultural Trips
1100 Central Park Drive
Suite 800
Sanford, FL 32771
P: 1-800-891-5844
E: info@cctrips.com

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