Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba have been reestablished for the first time in 50 years. Embassies have also been reopened in both countries. As a result, travel restrictions between the two countries have been loosened. Although citizens do not have complete freedom to travel back and forth, special arrangements can be made that make it possible for most American citizens to visit Cuba if they would like to vacation there. The video above will give tourists an idea of what they might expect to see when you get there.
Recently, I listened to a radio interview with a tour operator from Cuba Travel Services, which specializes in arranging trips for Americans who want to go to Cuba. This company is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department to arrange Cuban travel for American citizens. There are special requirements that tourists must meet in order to travel to Cuba, but they are not quite as strict as you may have thought, especially since we have re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Now that Cuba is more open, the tour company representative said that it is easier than ever to arrange travel for almost anyone who is interested in taking a trip to Cuba. If you have relatives there, you can make arrangements to see them on what is called a people-to-people visit. If you do not know anyone there, the company can arrange a guided tour designed to make sure that everyone they take to Cuba will fully comply with the U.S. government requirements for Cuban tourism.
Examples of Who Can Travel to Cuba:
People with relatives in the country
Those on official business of the U.S. government
Journalists and educators
For religious or humanitarian reasons
For support of the Cuban people (a very broad category)
For professional research
For competitions, business seminars or performances
For certain export activities, such as buying art and crafts
For the dissemination of information
How Do You Travel to Cuba?
Starting in December, special charter flights will be going from LAX in Southern California to Havana, Cuba. They already have charter flights to different locations in Cuba from Miami, Tampa and New York. The planes are provided by American Airlines. Eventually, American Airlines and the tour company hope there will be regularly scheduled commercial flights. Until then, they will continue to arrange for charter flights.
What Types of Accommodations are there for Cuba Vacation Travel?
While you can rent an old-fashioned car from the 1950’s in Cuba, tourists can also rent a wide variety of modern automobiles, including nearly new imported vehicles. There is also a nice selection of hotel accommodations, including 4 and 5 star resort hotels such as Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Camaguey, Santa Clara and others. There are both elegant and casual restaurants where tourists are welcome, as well.
What about Crime in Cuba?
Worried about crime? The tour operator said that the crime rate is very low in Cuba. If you are in Havana, you should be careful about petty theft, as you would be in any large city. Pick-pockets are also common. Most hotels have safe deposit boxes and it is a good idea to make use of them. On the other hand, violent crime is almost non-existent in the country, according to this tour operator. Before you leave for any foreign destination, it is always a good idea to check the U.S. State Department website for any specific alerts and warning. You can find it at:
In addition to your normal luggage, travelers to Cuba will want to bring along their own:
-Sunscreen and Sun Hats
-Comfortable Clothing, Walking Shoes
-Medications and OTC drugs, band-aids, and first-aid items
-CASH (You cannot rely on credit cards or getting money from an ATM)
-The cash must be exchanged for both Cuba pesos and Cuba Convertible pesos (two different forms of currency) when you arrive in Cuba.
What Should You Know About a Cuban Vacation?
-Tipping is a way of life in Cuba. Anyone who provides a service for you will expect a tip.
-Cell phones will not work in Cuba, even if you have an international plan. Making calls to the United States from your hotel is possible, although they can be expensive.
-You cannot count on internet service. Even in the hotels with a business center, internet connections can be spotty.
-You should bring a converter with you for the electricity. It is 120v in some places and 220 in others.
-According to US regulations, you may only bring back art (such as paintings, ceramics, crafts) or informational/educational items (such as books, music, or printed materials). You may NOT bring back Cuban cigars, rum or other souvenirs.
-It is highly recommended that you drink bottled water, not tap water. Better safe than sorry!
How to Get Additional Information about Cuba Vacation Travel
If you still have questions about planning a trip to Cuba, you should check out the Cuba Travel Services website, below. It contains additional information. I suggest that you read it thoroughly and then call the company with any additional questions you might have.
One thing is for sure … a vacation in Cuba would certainly be a fun and unique experience, in a place where very few of your friends and neighbors have been!
Deborah Dian is the Stock Market and California correspondent for The Daily Voice News, as well as following some entertainment news. She lives in Southern California where she is president of an investment club and an avid follower of the stock market. She is also the author of a retirement planning blog, Baby-Boomer-Retirement.com. She has a B.S. degree in Human Environmental Design from the University of Missouri, and enjoys travel, horseback riding, and the Southern California lifestyle. Contact her at [email protected]