CUBA TRIP FAQ's
Updated: Mar 11
CUBA TRAVEL IN 2020 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We have updated our FAQ's and decided to post them as a blog FYI, here they are.
Can U.S. citizens and residents travel to Cuba in 2020?
Yes, they can, under the same twelve authorized Office of Foreign Assets Control categories, the most used of which is the educational category, and its’ support for the Cuban people sub-category. All travel from the U.S. to Cuba must comply with Treasury Department/OFAC regulations, even for persons who are otherwise not subject to U.S. regulations.
Is it safe for Americans to travel to Cuba?
Despite what you may have heard about the sonic attacks on U.S. Embassy personnel a couple of years ago, Cuba is extremely safe, with no serious crimes against American visitors reported in the past few years.
Do American cellular phones work in Cuba?
Yes, American cellular phones do work in Cuba, however, service is usually expensive, with text messages costing on average $.50 each and $2 for each minute of talk time. Service is spotty at best outside of Havana and is especially bad in rural and mountainous areas.
Can Americans SCUBA dive in Cuba?
Yes, Americans may SCUBA dive while they are in Cuba, and the waters around the island are probably the best in the Caribbean for diving. We are divers ourselves and one of the few tour operators in Cuba who can incorporate SCUBA diving into your trip, whether you are travelling to Cuba on a people to people tour or any of the other authorized travel categories. While facilities in general are lacking, the level of professionalism and knowledge of our Cuban dive leaders is high, and the underwater world and lack of development make for unforgettable dives.
Can Americans travel to Cuba on private boats or airplanes?
No, travel to the island on private boats and planes from the U.S. is illegal as of June 2019 when the restriction was once again put in place.
Do American credit cards work in Cuba?
No, they do not! Take more cash than you think you’ll need. You can not receive money in Cuba via Western Union if you are not a Cuban resident or citizen.
Can Americans import Cuban cigars and other goods?
Yes, you may bring back Cuban cigars. There is currently no limit on the number of cigars that you may import, however, they are subject to import duty. Other goods may be brought back, all subject to the payment of duty at your port of entry.
How much money can I spend in Cuba?
Under current regulations there are no limits on how much you can spend in Cuba, however, you should notify the U.S. Treasury Department if you are travelling anywhere with over $10,000 USD. Actually, this question is a little trickier, and some of the travel categories do place restrictions on the amount of money that you can spend while you are in Cuba, but not the support for the Cuban people one.
Where can Americans stay in Cuba?
Americans may stay at hotels and bed and breakfasts in Cuba, if the hotels are not on the Treasury Department/OFAC list of prohibited hotels. We usually accommodate our guests at B&Bs which we have inspected and vetted, and where we can guarantee a great experience.
Are you sure Americans can stay at hotels in Cuba?
Yes, Americans may stay at hotels throughout Cuba, if the hotels are not on the Treasury Department/OFAC list of prohibited hotels. All hotels in which the Cuban military has an ownership stake are off-limits to Americans, but others are OK. We only work with legal hotels and keep current on updates to the Treasury Department/OFAC list of prohibited hotels.
What’s the weather like in Cuba?
The central and western provinces of Cuba are very warm during the rainy season from April through November, with slightly cooler temperatures during the dry season from December through March. The entire island experiences heavy rains and sometimes torrential downpours during the rainy season, with significantly reduced rainfall during the dry season from December to March. Average rainy season temperatures range from 75 degrees to 95 degrees, and dry season temperatures from 60 degrees to 80 degrees. The far eastern end of the island has similar weather with slightly warmer temperatures year-round.
What is support for the Cuban people?
It is a strange, bureaucratic name that someone came up with years ago so that Americans would realize that going to Cuba is not like travelling anywhere else. The U.S. maintains an economic embargo against the island and limiting American tourism to Cuba helps to keep American dollars out of the Cuban government’s hands. Requiring Americans to travel to Cuba under one of twelve authorized categories is a convoluted way of keeping Americans from doing something they should have every right to do, which is vacation and travel wherever they want, including Cuba, since we’re not at war with the island, and communist China poses a far greater risk to us than Cuba ever will. Apparently the 10 million people who live in communist Cuba are a greater threat to our democracy than the over 1 billion people who live in communist China. Americans started travelling freely to China in 1972, and we still can’t hop on a plane to hang-out in Havana!
What will I be doing on a support for the Cuban people tour?
Not vacationing in Cuba! Support for the Cuban people travel is serious business, and if you travel with us, we’ll try to keep it as fun as possible while you learn about Cuban culture and history. It also requires Americans to maintain a full-schedule of activities that will enhance their understanding of Cuba and Cubans, our naughty neighbors to the south. Good luck understanding them and figuring out what’s going on in Cuba!
Why should I travel with Cuba Travel Trips? (www.cubatraveltrips.com)
Because we offer the most unique and entertaining tours and workshops that are available in Cuba, and our guides are the best on the island. We will never put you on a Cuban government tour bus or make you listen to a Cuban government tour guide go on-and-on about how wonderful life is on the island. We show you the real Cuba, so you can come to your own informed opinion about what’s really going on just a few miles from the U.S. You will learn about the island with the help of your young Cuban guide, and through encounters with other Cubans who will tell you what their life in Cuba is really like.
How much fun can I have on a support for the Cuban people tour?
So far, the U.S. government hasn’t placed any limitations on the quantity of fun Americans may have while they are in Cuba. That’s another reason to travel with us, because we know Cuba, and our guides and tours are the best, and you will enjoy your time in Cuba.
Can I buy a cheap 1957 Chevy in Cuba and ship it to the U.S?
No, the old American cars that you see all over Cuba are more expensive than the same models you will find in the U.S. The Cuban regime has a really hard time meeting the population’s basic needs, things like cooking oil, toilet paper, eggs… vanish from store shelves on a regular basis, so cars aren’t even on their to-do-list. All cars in Cuba are ridiculously expensive, even those American classics. Besides that, even if you found one worth buying, they wouldn’t let you ship it out, and the U.S. government probably wouldn’t let it in.
Do Cubans like Americans?
Yes, in general. Unless you happen to bump into a high-ranking military or intelligence officer or one of the original members of the ruling coalition, most of whom are in their late eighties and nineties, most Cubans enjoy interacting with Americans. They may not all be sincere, and a few may try to hustle you, but they’re usually harmless, and the ones that are genuine more than make up for the rest.
How’s the food in Cuba?
This is a tough question! If you want to eat genuine, old school, traditional Cuban food, the kind of dishes Cubans were eating one-hundred years ago, then I suggest you go to Miami, or the few genuine Cuban restaurants that can still be found in Tampa, New Jersey, and New York. The Cuban diet changed significantly after the revolution of 1959, and radically changed during the “special period” of the 1990’s that the island lived through after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Private restaurants around the island have greatly improved the dinning experience and great Cuban and international food is available, especially in Havana. But if you want to eat what regular Cubans eat then change some of your dollars into moneda nacional, and pop into one of the crowded cafeterias you walk past with your guide, the ones with no tourists in them, and order one of the two or three things that are on the menu. Make sure you have your stomach meds, and don’t drink the water, juice, or home-made soda!
How can I get to Cuba?
The easiest way to get to Cuba is on a direct flight from the U.S. As of this writing, February 2020, there are direct flights to Cuba from Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Miami, Newark, New York, Orlando, and Tampa. There used to be a daily flight from Los Angeles to Havana, but Alaska Air cancelled it in January 2018. All flights from the U.S. to Cuba arrive in Havana. Since the commencement of regular commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba in 2015, prices have decreased significantly, and it’s easier to fly to Cuba from the U.S. than at any time since 1962.
Is the beer good in Cuba?
Not really, but it is light, cheap, and refreshing! And a lot of places sell Heineken.
Is the rum good in Cuba?
Oh yeah! And cheap!
Would Hemingway be living in Cuba today?
No, he wouldn’t, Havana today is nothing like the Havana of the 40’s and 50’s that Hemingway loved!
How’s the nightlife in Cuba?
Outside of Havana it’s awful, with few exceptions. In Havana it’s hit-or-miss, and it’s best to have a guide to help you find your way. There’s loads of world-class Jazz almost every night and lots of live music, from Rumba and Timba to reggaetón and Son. There are great dance clubs like La Casa de la Musica Miramar where you’ll find locals and foreigners on the dance floor, and places like Bertolt Brecht where the crowd is mostly locals with different genres every night with music by Interactivo, David Torrens, or Cimafunk. Dozens of private bars and clubs have opened throughout Havana in the past four years, and there’s usually something going on somewhere. The bars and clubs usually start filling up after midnight and some go until dawn.
See you in Havana!