Email, Cell Phones and Internet

Your cell phone will probably not work in Cuba – please contact your provider.

Verizon and Sprint may work in Cuba but you will need to contact your provider as to procedures and cost.

Access and web services (including Wi-Fi) are available at most hotels in Havana.

Email and web access at hotels outside of Havana is not good.

You can make and receive land line calls from the phones at your hotel. Land line rates from Cuba to the US are approximately $2.40 per minute.                                               

Currency

  • Only Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC) will be accepted as payment for goods and services in Cuba. You can only purchase CUC in Cuba.
  • Your foreign currency (Euros, Canadian Dollars, and US Dollars etc.) must be exchanged in CUBA for CUC at the current exchange rate.
  • For USD basically $ 1.00 = .87 CUC – Exchange $100 you receive 87 CUC.
  • Euros and Canadian Dollars will receive the current market exchange rate. This rate normally yields a better exchange than US dollars.
  • You can exchange your foreign currency to CUC ONLY at a CADECA in Cuba. They are located throughout Cuba including at the airport and at your hotel.
  • Foreign Currency Travelers Checks (including traveler’s checks in US Dollars) can also be brought, but they must be exchanged into CUC as well.
    • Traveler’s checks should be in one name only and you should bring the check receipts that you were given at the time of purchase.
    • Traveler’s checks denominated in US currency receive a better exchange rate than US Dollars in cash.
  • NOTE: YOU CANNOT USE US CREDIT CARDS IN CUBA.
  • There is a safe in your hotel room in Havana and at many hotels in Cuba (some for a fee).
  • THERE ARE NO ATMS IN CUBA THAT YOU CAN USE!
  • There is no fee charged upon leaving Cuba to exchange your CUC into US Dollars;

1 CUC = approximately $1 (usually a bit less)

Passport

You must have a passport valid for at least six months from your date of entry into Cuba. Secure it in your hotel room safe or locked in your suitcase.  Do NOT pack your passport in your luggage as you will be required to show it when you check-in for your flight to and from Cuba, and in Cuba for customs and immigration authorities (both entering and exiting). 
  • Make a copy of the picture/signature page of your passport and carry that with you in Cuba. Leave your passport in your room or hotel safe.
  • You must travel with the passport you submitted to obtain visa or your cuban visa will be void.

Insurance in Cuba

US medical insurance by law is not valid in Cuba, in case you need medical treatment, hospitals and clinics for tourists are conveniently located throughout the country. CUBAN MEDICAL INSURANCE IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF YOUR AIRFARE and covers 100% of medical expenses up to $25,000 and, if approved by the treating physician, re-partition or transportation due to illness, accident, or death (up to $7000) – except as noted below. Your hotel has first aid station and nurse for immediate attention to minor illnesses or injuries. Your insurance will cover treatment in the hotel and at a clinic if necessary. PLEASE NOTE: Cuban health insurance does not cover treatment for a pre-existing condition – you are liable for the costs incurred from the treatment of a preexisting condition. You may seek reimbursement for your US insurance company, if your US policy so provides.

Inoculations

None are required for travel to Cuba.

Food

  • No open food items may be brought into Cuba.
  • You may bring food in professionally sealed containers.
  • Drink only bottled water.
  • Use no ice except at tourist restaurants and at your hotel.
  • Do not buy open drinks from street vendors. Do not eat anything from street vendors.
  • Common afflictions for visitors are diarrhea and sunstroke. Dehydration is the most common “illness”.

What To Take

Be prepared for hot weather, with a chance of brief periods of rain.  From November to May the temperature averages 75-80 F.; from June to August, about 85-90 F.

  • In general, clothing should be on the informal
  • Bring a light jacket or sweater for cool evenings (and sometimes very cool air-conditioned restaurants!).
  • Dress for your comfort. Shorts during the day are great – be certain to have comfortable shoes.
  • One nice causal outfit will serve you well for any special evenings.
  • If you bring prescription drugs, be sure that the druggist’s identification label is on the container. Be your own drugstore (aspirin, Band-Aids, antacids etc.). Everything is in short supply. Bring a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
  • Bring sunscreen.
  • Bring packets of tissue – outside of your hotel toilet paper is rare.
  • Take a small flashlight. There are often blackouts. Bring an umbrella. Film. Swim suit. Extra digital flash cards – Cuba is a paradise for photographers!
  • Travel Alarm Clock or use your cellphone as an alarm clock.
  • Hotels generally do not have washcloths
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • DO NOT BRING EXPENSIVE JEWELRY. Though the crime rate in Cuba is very low; it is a poor country and we are not. Do not wear expensive necklaces while touring as they are particularly susceptible to theft.

Electronics

For your personal use you may bring into Cuba computers, DVD and CD players, I-Pads, I-Phones and cell phones; basically any electronic device. You may not bring in satellite phones.

Shopping

Under revised United States travel restrictions as of June 30, 2004,

You may bring back to the US ‘informational materials” for your own use. These include art, books, periodicals, paintings, sculpture, records, tapes, C.D.s, films, videocassettes, photographs, posters, etchings, lithographs, serigraphs, microfilm, microfiche, and other informational materials. As indicated above, these purchases must be made with Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC).

Note: Cuba is full of wonderful art at all prices levels. A Cuban export permit is required that should be provided by the vendor for each oil painting taken out of Cuba (not required for watercolors).

PLEASE NOTE: You may now bring back a reasonable amount of cigars and rum FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY.

Electricity

Current, as with most things in Cuba, is complex. There can be 110 and/or 220 in the same room. Bring plug adapters. Most wall sockets are for round two pronged plugs. Bring the plug adapter for use in the Caribbean and Europe. Note: most equipment today that requires charging can accept 110 – 220 volts – you would only require a plug adapter. As to whether the item you wish to bring requires a converter, please contact the manufacturer.

Time

Cuba will be on the same time as Florida. (Eastern Standard Time)

The best way to get “inside” Cuba is to talk to the people

  • Cuba is a ‘real’ country not just a beach resort.
  • It has a third world economy with a first world culture.
  • Cubanos are very proud of their island and its history.
  • Do not broach political topics.
  • Do not voice any negative opinions in public. Do not defame the Cuban government in any way.
  • Cubanos like Americans although they may not agree with our government’s decisions.
  • Jineteros /jineteras – Please do not encourage the few beggars one finds in Cuba. If someone seeking money for milk for their children approaches you, ignore them.
  • Be open to encounters but not naive. Remember the words for ‘no thank you’ is ‘no gracias’ and for ‘enough’ is “BASTA!”

The Pace of Life

  • Cubans do not rush through tasks
  • Meals are slow
  • Service is slow
  • There is no such thing as a “quick lunch”
  • The concept of “immediately” is American, not Cuban
  • Cuba is not a wealthy country but it has a rich and varied cultural life
  • Cubans are very proud of their country.

Cuban culture’s vibrancy and vitality is alive.

Cuba is old, some of it is destroyed, and it feels as though time has stopped.
But it is full of life from the aroma of cooking food, to the warmth of the
people, to the rhythm in the way people move, to the sound of music in the air.

Cuba is changing Rapidly; Now is the Time!

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