I want to go on one of your trips but none of the dates listed will work for my schedule.
In addition to the open trips that are announced on our website, we can create custom designed trips for you and your friends or organization. We can plan ahead for the dates and itinerary that most interests you. To get started, please contact us.
I want to go to Cuba but I don’t want to go with a group. Is this possible?
We design custom trips and itineraries around your interests for you and a small group as long as the trip adheres to the professional research or people-to-people guidelines. These trips however tend to be more expensive given the nature of the many fixed costs of the trip.
How far in advance do I need to sign up for a trip?
To be guaranteed a hotel reservation, you must sign up for a trip at least three months before it starts. If you want to go on an upcoming trip that is less than three months away, it is not guaranteed that we will be able to create a reservation for you, but go ahead and sign up on the online link and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know. Usually we hold a few spots for last minute sign ups.
When do I receive my airplane ticket and legal travel documents for a trip?
Two weeks before your departure date, you will receive an official packet of travel documents in the mail. This will include your MIA-HAV airplane ticket, travel affidavit, hotel voucher, and your people-to-people educational travel license if you are going on a people-to-people license. It also comes with a little blue booklet called “Cuba Travel Tips” which has a lot of useful information to help prepare you for your trip. If you don’t receive this packet by 10 days prior to your departure date, please contact us at email@example.com. You will not be able to depart from Miami if you do not have these documents. We can send them electronically to you if necessary.
Why do I need a Cuban tourist visa if I am not going as a tourist?
The US and Cuban governments categorize US citizens differently. The US embargo prevents you from visiting Cuba as a tourist and requires strict qualification and adherence to professional research, people-to-people educational travel, and other authorized categories. Unless you are visiting for long-term work purposes, the Cuban government categorizes US citizens as tourists. It’s confusing but we guarantee to have the paper work handled on both sides of the border to ensure safe traveling.
Will my phone work in Cuba?
If you want to set up your phone with a local temporary Cuban line (Cubacel), you can bring an “unlocked” phone with a SIM card. You can buy a line at the airport for $3 CUC per day and buy minutes with phone cards at $10 CUC each. Your phone will need to have a SIM card slot and micro-SIM is not available (iPhone 5) but can be made by cutting a regular SIM card down with scissors (no guarantee). We recommend getting a local temporary line only if you plan on communicating frequently within Cuba.
If you happen to have a non-US carrier, you can also use your phone on roaming and use it sparingly. This allows you to text and make emergency phone calls because it is very expensive. It is very easy, all you have to do is have a tri-band or GSM900 phone and make sure your plan is set-up for international travel usage.
In any case, you will not be able to stream data from your smartphone via your Cubacel celular network, only via wifi.
Can I connect to the internet in Cuba?
Internet is available in Cuba but it is very slow and expensive. Depending on the hotel there is wifi as well as internet stations. We make sure that each place you stay you will have access to the internet. But because it is so slow and hard to send even a few KB of data, don’t plan on doing a lot of emailing.
What kind of money should I bring to Cuba?
Money is a very confusing situation in Cuba, especially for Americans. Almost everything you buy in Cuba will be in CUC (convertible pesos) which equals $1 USD = .873 CUC. Cuba has a second currency, CUP (pesos cubanos) but they are only for Cuban citizens so you most likely won’t ever use them. You will not be able to use or access any of your US credit cards or US bank accounts while in Cuba. Travelers checks are also not possible to use in Cuba. So U.S. citizens need to bring cash as the only way to have money there. Cuban currency is not worth anything outside of Cuba and cannot be acquired in the US so you need to change money once you arrive. Cash can be conveniently changed in small portions at the hotels that all have the same exchange rate as Cuban banks. People frequently ask if it’s better to bring euros instead of dollars but we recommend bringing US dollars. They are just as easy to change as euros are. There is an extra tax that is imposed on US dollars but it cancels out when you lose exchange rate from USD to euro to CUC. Especially when you come home with extra euros that needs to be changed back into dollars.
Since what you bring in cash is all you will have while you are on the island, we recommend you bring more than you’ll need to spend just in case of an emergency (or some art that you really want to buy). People naturally get nervous because we’re not used to carrying around so much cash and then getting completely stranded if anything happened to it. All the hotels have safes in them and furthermore, Cuba has one of the lowest crime rates of all countries in the world. We’ve never heard of anyone getting their money stolen of the hundreds of people we’ve met who have gone to Cuba.
Should I bring gifts to give away?
Yes! There is a huge scarcity of international products, equipment, and information in Cuba. Anything from pens to laptops to musical instruments and clothes will be very well appreciated and used for years. If you are going on a professional research delegation we recommend you bring the tools of your trade to give away to your professional counterparts. If you are on a people-to-people trip I recommend bringing USB flash drives, violin strings, external hard drives, books, magazines, music scores, smart phones, in addition to those items mentioned above. We will help you find the right people to give it to.
What kind of clothes should I bring?
Dress comfortably. Cuba is a casual country so you will only need one outfit that is dressy in case we go to a ballet or symphony concert. It will most likely be humid and in the 80s (during winter months) so you won’t need many warm clothes but bring one warm outfit in case there is a cold front. Cuba is a great country to wear the color white. And make sure you have good shoes as there will be a lot of walking on sidewalks that are in dire need of repair.
What is the food like?
Cuba has recently become a “foodie” town with the burgeoning paladar industry. We will be eating in Cuba’s best private and state run restaurants so be prepared for a great culinary creole experience. We also recommend you bring a stash of Cliff bars, granola bars, or other supplements because snacks are very hard to come by in Cuba. Vegetarians should be extra well prepared. The water in Cuba is much cleaner than most of Latin America but should not be drunk from the tap. Bottled water will be provided throughout the trip. Ice that comes in the drinks at the places we will be eating is purified and need not be avoided.
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.