General Orientation Info About Travel to Cuba
Flight Schedules & Baggage
We are using scheduled commercial flights to Havana with Southwest, American, Delta and Jet Blue.
Your tickets will be issued under the names you provide on your registration form. Please notify us immediately of any name changes or corrections. This will avoid possible airline charges for reissuing tickets to another name. Your airline tickets must be issued in the same formal name (no nicknames) as it is officially spelled on your passport in order to avoid any problems with either airline check-in or immigration officials. Cuban health insurance is included in your airline ticket.
.Please note the following special recommendations:
- Be sure to pack all personal medications and valuables, including cell phones, in your carry-on.
- Please only bring the clothing you will need during the trip. We have limited storage on our buses and you will be responsible for your luggage at airport and hotel check-ins. We are not responsible for lost luggage. If your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged en route, the airline will make every effort to recover it or make proper compensation if you can provide them with a complete list of the contents, but this will have to be done directly with them by you.
About Traveling in Cuba
- Be sure your S. Passport is current and valid beyond your return from Cuba.
- IMPORTANT: Guests born in Cuba must obtain a Cuban passport or special visa before traveling.
- Please include all valuables, medications and a change of clothing in your carry-on luggage. This will prevent difficulties in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
- You will purchase a Cuban Tourist Card/Visa upon check in at the airport in the US ($50-$100). Please keep the Cuban Tourist Card as you will be required to present it when you depart the island.
- Please do not wear any expensive jewelry, Havana is a major city so prepare accordingly.
- The Cuban people are warm and friendly and many speak English. We will do all in our power to make your visit a pleasant one, but please be understanding if you experience any inconveniences.
- Periodically we will travel with an English-speaking Cuban guide who can assist and help you communicate with and exchange ideas with the Cuban people.
- It is strongly recommended that you drink only bottled water while traveling in Cuba. Bottled drinks are safe, as well. The water used in the ice at the hotel and the restaurants on this program is safe to drink.
- You may want to bring small gifts for the children of pencils, pens, notebooks or any supplies a grade school child could use.
- Also appreciated are small soaps and shampoos often found at hotels. Visiting a “dollar” store and stocking up on small, light and inexpensive gifts would be great, too.
- We are safe and free to travel throughout the island.
Each passenger would receive a certification that they are authorized to travel under the United States Department of Treasury license for educational purposes (Support for the Cuban People).
A valid passport is required for travel to Cuba.. Visas and will be obtained by you at airport check-in. Passengers who were born in Cuba should contact us immediately, as they will need special documentation that must be secured prior to departure.
We recommend that you bring an adequate supply of the prescription medicines you use regularly to last throughout the program. Carry them in the original containers to identify them as legally obtained drugs and pack them in your carry-on bag. It is a wise idea to carry telephone numbers of immediate family as well as your physician’s name and telephone number.
Cuban Medical Insurance is included in your program by the airline. This policy covers major medical emergencies with the exception of pre-existing conditions. The policy is in effect throughout the country.
Cuba’s Climate & Weather
Cuba is subtropical with a mean temperature of 77 degrees with very little seasonal fluctuation. The wet season runs from May to October, and the dry season from November through April. The average high temperature in Cuba’s hottest month of July is 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Be prepared for hot weather and a chance for brief periods of rain with temperatures averaging 75-85F. You may want to take sunscreen, definitely sunglasses. Havana weather forecasts are available on the Internet at all news bureaus sites such as CNN.com.
Clothing and Packing Tips
During your daytime excursions, dress is casual with casual slacks, jeans, shorts and skirts being acceptable. Remember to bring comfortable, well-broken-in walking shoes. During the evening smart-casual attire, such as a button down-shirt with Khaki/casual slacks for men and a dress or blouse with skirt or pants for women is appropriate. Cuba is a casual destination. Expect the possibility of cooler temperatures and windy conditions to occur in the evenings. Havana has the same climate as Miami.
Pack your bags only with what you think you’ll actually wear or need. Try to keep non-essential garments to a minimum, thereby lightening your load and enhancing your own personal comfort while in transit.
At the very least, you’re going to have to carry what you pack to and through the airport to the airline check-in counter. It is suggested that you not bring or pack any expensive or sentimental jewelry. Opt instead for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that these items can’t be lost or stolen because they’re safe at home.
Layers are going to be key when packing. Look at the weather in Cuba just before the trip, but know that conditions change. You probably can’t be prepared for all conditions, but you can be prepared for most. Understand that in Cuba it may be difficult to purchase items that you forget, so try not to forget anything, but also keep in the mind that you’ll be responsible for your own luggage throughout the trip and packing light is always a good idea.
Please understand that deviations from the program itinerary are not possible.
Toilets in Cuba are plentiful, but depending on their location, they may be encountered in various states of cleanliness and conditions. Often there is an attendant at the entrance who will collect the equivalent of US 25 to 50 cents for entry, and he or she will usually give you a small section of toilet paper so it’s highly recommended that you carry your own at all time (I find that small packets of Kleenex pack nicely and work well). My recommendation is to use the restroom in your hotel just before leaving and then whenever you find one after that because you never know when the next one will be available.
Spanish is the official language in Cuba, although some people you encounter will speak English. Learning and using even a few basic words will be much appreciated by the locals. The DK Eyewitness Guide on Cuba I recommend provides quite an extensive “Phrase Book” in the back on Page 335.
Cuba is on the same time as the East Coast of the United States.
Currency & Credit Cards
One US Dollar equal 25 Cuban pesos, but now you can use US DOLLARS as well since they recently changed their currency.
We recommend that you do not exchange all your U.S. Dollars at once. Please exchange as you need throughout the week. Credit cards issued by U.S. banks will not be accepted in Cuba ..
Personal expenses such as telephone, mini-bar, room service and laundry services are not included in the program and will have to be settled with the hotel prior to check out.. Meals and beverages (including wines and liquors) not indicated in your itinerary are considered personal expenses as well. Please adjust the amount of cash you bring accordingly.
In Cuba, gratuities are not included in the bill and tipping is strictly voluntary. Tips are usually 10% of the bill. The recommended amounts are as follows:
Our Cuban Guide and driver share the tips: We recommend $ 6 - $ 10 per day.
It’s best to purchase all photography gear and other items necessary during the program in advance and carry it with you. Before you leave, supply your camera and flash with new batteries. Remember to carry extra batteries for every camera and flash unit. For your peace of mind, please plan to carry all of your camera equipment on the aircraft with you in your carry-on bag. X-rays at security check points will not damage your camera or memory cards.
Please also see my detailed Notes document for more information on photographing in Cuba, as well as suggested shot and packing lists.
The standard electric current in Cuba is 110 volt but some new places also have 220. North American
It is not possible to use calling cards or U.S.-issued cellular phones for calls within or outside Cuba, this includes Blackberrys, iPhones or other devices. In short, your mobile phone will not work in Cuba. It is possible to make direct calls to the U.S. from your hotel room. The price of the call will be charged to your room account. Please note that calls to the U.S. from your hotel room are very expensive (approximately $3 CUC per minute). We ask you to please bear in mind the phone service in Cuba is unreliable. Our hotel should have internet access for a fee, but it can be sporadic at best. In Cuba Internet service is slow and often unreliable.