cruise to cuba

From Customs to Cigars: Everything You Need to Know Before You Book Your Cruise to Cuba

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From Cuban cigars and Cuba Libres to Desi Arnaz, Cuba has given the world a lot over the years. It’s a beautiful place and it merits visiting if you ever get the chance. 

All the best trips need preparation, so we’ve compiled a list of a few things to keep in mind, should you decide to take a cruise to Cuba. 

1. You’ll Need to Record Your Activities

Technically, leisurely travel is not one of the reasons that you’re legally allowed to visit Cuba. The good news is that there is a loophole that American travelers have been exploiting for years. Some of the approved categories are charity and education.

A cruise to Cuba falls under the education category if you take the excursions because it is assumed you will learn about Cuba from your experience. You are also allowed to donate to charity, but you will need to call it a gift because the word ‘charity’ is not well-received in Cuba.

Either way, you’ll want to document your time in Cuba and what you did there. These writings probably won’t be examined, but the US government does have a right to question you about your activities in Cuba, so it’s best to be prepared. 

2. Documentation 

As with most destinations, you’ll need a passport and other travel documents to visit Cuba, but there are some added restrictions for visiting Cuba from certain countries, such as the United States, any country in the European Union and British Commonwealth countries.

You will also need some form of travel insurance that covers medical expenses because your health insurance will not work in Cuba. If you are American, your travel insurance will not work either, and you may need to buy it upon entering Cuba. 

You will also need a return ticket and proof that you’ve booked a hotel to stay at. These allow you to get the tourist visa. This permits you to be in-country for up to thirty days.

You will need a passport that is valid not just for the trip, but for five years after you return home.

3. Convert Your Cash

Once you get into Cuba, you will need to convert your US dollars to Cuban Pesos, and you should bring a lot of cash. The first reason for this is that the Cubans charge a fee for exchanging currency, so you’ll end up with a bit less money than you stepped off the boat with.

The second reason is that everything will be cash only. The Cubans don’t recognize any major American credit cards, nor do their ATMs. Non-American cards do work, but most places don’t have credit card machines anyways, so it’s easier to just bring cash.

4. Brands

Expect none of the brands you’re used to when you visit Cuba because this is one place where American goods haven’t taken off. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll completely miss home.

For instance, if you’re missing your Coca-Cola for the day, try the Cuban tuKola. tuKola is based on the recipe for Coke from the 1950’s. If anything positive came out of the embargo, it’s the fact that this recipe was preserved somewhere. Plus, unlike the U.S., Cubans sweeten their drinks with cane sugar and not corn syrup. 

Of course, this is not the only soda brand in Cuba, and the others are also worth sampling. You may even find some new flavors and concepts that aren’t produced in the US.

5. Cigars, Rum, and Coffee

Two things we associate with Cuba above all are cigars an rum, and there’s a reason for this. They’re Cuban staples, and you won’t find much that can compete with them in any other part of the world.

You can even buy a certain amount of each and bring them back home. The limits are usually up to 100 cigars and up to 1 liter of alcohol.  

Only slightly less noteworthy is Cuban coffee. Sure, the most famous coffee comes from Colombia, but pretty much the entirety of the Caribbean and Latin America makes great coffee.   

6. Cuban People

One of the biggest surprises you may get from the Cuban people is how friendly they are, especially towards Americans. In some cases, it seems that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, and this seems to be true for international relations.

Two of the places where Americans are most welcome in the world are Cuba and Russia. The topsy-turvy reality of foreign affairs means that we barely see Cubans and Russians outside of our TV. It may have something to do with that. Have you ever been in that situation where you meet somebody from a different situation for the first time and realize al the stereotypes you’ve heard about them are totally wrong?

Another thing that Americans and Cubans have in common is their love of classic American cars. You’ll be amazed at some of the cars they drive in Cuba and wish we still had them back home. As the United States and Cuba become more friendly towards each other, we can only hope that these cars don’t disappear. 

 7. Examine Your Cruise Deal Carefully

An interesting thing about Cuba is that each cruise company tends to have a different deal with Cuba. Some stop directly in Havana, while a few others dock outside Havana and take a bus there instead. 

Some cruises don’t stay in any one place for long, literally several hours even. This means that you may want to consider very carefully whether you want to experience Cuban nightlife. 

If you choose to, there are definitely things worth seeing, but you can still have a great trip without it. 

Cruise to Cuba 

There are a lot of amazing things to do and see in Cuba, but there’s also a lot of preparation that goes into it. You’ll need to have all your documents in order, and a good amount of cash in your pocket before leaving. After that, just look over the details of your cruise to Cuba and see what the trip entails.

If you want to know more about classic cars in Cuba and even want to book a tour in one, please visit our site. We can tell you all about what to expect from a Cuban shore excursion. We can also teach you about the cars in Cuba and the history behind them.