Saturday, July 18, 2015

Travel to Cuba - What you need to know

Yesterday I spoke with Rob Williams at Fox 19 about traveling to Cuba now that some restrictions have been lifted. There is still a lot to know before you start planning your trip. Below are some important things we talked about in the segment.

Traveling to Cuba
Fox 19 Morning News July 17th 2015 8:10am

It’s important to know that although some restrictions have been lifted, it doesn’t mean US Citizens can travel there freely like they would to other Caribbean destinations. All travel to Cuba still has to meet one of the 12 pre-approved travel types. The difference now is that you don’t have to obtain the license that was once required prior to travel.  

The travel type that tour operators are able to plan itineraries for are “Educational   (People-to-People) Travel”

This means the itinerary and schedule is set and will involve activities relating to local life and cultural experiences. The tour companies offering trips to Cuba have specific required schedules every day. 

What you’ll need:
-          A valid US Passport that is valid for at least six months past your planned departure date.
-          A Visa
-          Signed affidavit stating that you are meeting the guidelines for approved travel
You will want to keep copies of your itinerary and travel documents for 5 years after travel in case you need to prove to the US government that your trip met the guidelines for approved travel.

Need to Know
-          US Cell Phones don’t work in Cuba (even if you have an international plan). Until this is resolved you will need to use your hotel phone or a calling card and pay phone

-          Wi-Fi is not readily available. While some hotels have it, it’s not as widespread or available in public areas, but they are currently adding hubs.

-          They are not set up to take credit cards yet. You will need to bring enough cash with you for your trip and exchange it. US Dollars are not accepted. The exchange rate is dollar to dollar, but there is a 13% commission due whenever you exchange money.

-          This destination can be challenging for those with physical disabilities. Without accessibility requirements you won’t find a lot of ramps or accessible rooms. A lot of the streets are cobblestone and can be hard to navigate with a wheel chair.

-          Visitors are able to bring back up to $400 in goods for personal use, $100 of which can be in tobacco or alcohol products.

How to Get There

Jetblue is offering flights out of New York beginning this month.

Fathom, a new cruise line from Carnival Corp is the first social impact cruise line and will visit Cuba, as well as a separate itinerary that will travel to the Dominican Republic. This will not be a typical cruise. It will focus on education and humanitarian activities instead of the typical cruise entertainment.

The best way to visit is with an experienced tour company who will make sure you have everything you need to meet the guidelines and travel legally.

Apple Vacations began a 7 day itinerary to Havana this month with a charter flight out of Miami that can be booked with your travel agent.  

For more information go to 

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