+Do I need a Travel Visa?
Yes, but this is easy! Visit our Travel Logistics page for more info.
+ Is Traveling to Cuba Legal US and Cuban policy?
CAA trips are completely legal under US and Cuban policy (existing and projected) for travel to Cuba. You will travel under a General License consistent with OFAC Regulations Section CFR 515,565(b). On your US Travel Affidavit, this is a “person-to-person” purpose for travel, facilitated by our group. At the completion of your trip, CAA will provide you with an affidavit including a full itinerary of completed activities, demonstrating your compliance with these US legal regulations.
Cuban friends continue to depend on our tourism and good will, so it's important that we spread the word in the US that visits like ours are viable, welcomed, and meaningful. For our team, this is perhaps the most important point. Cuban-style resourcefulness and resiliency can be our teachers as we persevere to build positive connections with this special country and people.
+ Are there health risks associated with travel to Cuba, and do I need vaccines?
Cuba requires no special vaccines and has an impressive public health record compared with many other Latin American countries. Nonetheless, a visit to a travel doctor prior to your journey is a good idea.
Much more than crime, the biggest risks for most travelers in Cuba are the food, the sidewalks, and mosquitos. Food poisoning is not uncommon for visitors, so sticking to bottled or boiled water and bringing some simple remedies for diarrhea are advisable. Sidewalks are notoriously crumbling all over Havana, and the fascinating architecture and great people can be dangerous distractions from watching one's step. Havana is nonetheless meant to be seen by foot and has a vibrant pedestrian culture, so make sure to bring more than one pair of comfortable and versatile shoes. Zika, Dengue, and other tropical viruses are borne by mosquitoes (some can also be sexually transmitted) -- in most people these viruses pass in days with mild symptoms, but they can be dangerous especially for women who are pregnant or intending to become pregnant, so minimizing mosquito contact is wise. Mosquitos are not common in Havana -- travelers to rural and beach areas have more of a concern in general -- and most parts of the city where tourists stay are fumigated regularly to control the virus. More on Zika can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/
+ Is Cuba safe?
Cuba has an exceptionally safe, calm culture with a genuine spirit of respect and shared responsibility. As in any city, basic street-smarts should be applied — keep your bag closed and close to you, walk on well-lit streets at night, act respectfully towards others, etc. Penalties for Cuban people committing crimes against foreigners are extremely severe. Probably the greatest safety hazard in Cuba are the sidewalks, which are all broken crumbling — east to twist an ankle as you gaze at the architecture. Wear comfortable walking shoes and learn to walk like a Cuban, observing your steps!
Is Cuba safe for me?
Cuba is famously safe for visitors, with an extremely low crime rate and virtually no public violence or aggression. This is due in large part to the strict penalties — and their enforcement — against crime and public disruption. Cuban police, present in all major squares and thoroughfares, frequently stop Cubans appearing to over-interact, even in a friendly way, with foreigners. Crimes against foreigners are even more harshly punished than regular crimes in Cuba, and are therefore extremely rare. Drugs and guns are strictly forbidden by Cuban law.
Beyond the rule of law, visitors often comment that Cuban culture is impressively calm and peaceful — it's a communal society and the Revolutionary values of equality and collective good still remain influential. Tourists are an obvious source of money in this poor country, so it's very common for tourists to be approached by Cubans hoping to make a friend who will help them with some money or buy them a drink, but "no gracias" is widely effective. Pick pocketing and purse-snatching are risks in large crowds or on side streets late at night, so common city-sense of keeping your bag closed and near you, walking with others late at night, etc. will get travelers to Havana and back happily. In general, Cubans and visitors regard the US as a far more dangerous place than Cuba.
For people of color:
Cuba is a multi-ethic society covering the rainbow, and the great majority of Cubans in Havana are non-white, very many black. Dark-skinned travelers blend in enough to avoid the constant question by Cuban passersby "where are you from?" while still enjoying tourist benefits in interactions that are more in-depth.
For LGBTQ people:
Many LGBTQ travelers find an accepting and respectful, if traditional, culture that is now opening with a welcoming attitude to a broader range of international people. Tourists enjoy more social ease than most Cubans might experience. Restrooms are usually unisex one-stall arrangements, and in tourist locations where multiple restrooms are available there is typically commensurate tolerance for tourists as such and observance of national laws respecting LGBTQ rights. All visitors can look to current legislation, pushed by Raul Casto's daughter, covering surgeries for transgender people under the national healthcare system as a sign of Cuba's values that work in both government and among the community.
For women and female-presenting people:
Cuban men are vocal appreciators of female tourists, but they are very rarely antagonistic and do understand "no." Female tourists generally say they feel much safer walking at night in Cuba than they do at home in the US, though common-sense is always necessary.
For people with disabilities:
While Cuba is a warm and welcoming culture, its infrastructure is poor and those with physical disabilities should plan for very few elevators, uneven sidewalks, and basic plumbing. All are heartily welcome on this trip and we will do the best to make you comfortable, but we want to be realistic about the environment we're in.
+ What will the food be like?
Tourists in Cuba enjoy the widest range of foods available, and nearly all are locally-grown and organic. Restaurants typically have a range of meat and seafood offerings, pasta, soup, and salad depending on availability. Havana has a large and growing population of well-rated restaurants with innovative chefs building on Cuban traditions.
Vegetarians, vegans, and those with dietary restrictions admittedly have more of a challenge in Cuba, but most tourist restaurants have at least a couple of vegetarian offerings and are willing to make simple salads, stir-fried vegetables, or plates of rice and beans on request.
The traditional Cuban diet is simple and limited, largely because Cuba feeds itself with its own agricultural system and imports very little. The average Cuban diet involves a lot of rice and beans, with some bread, pork and tropical fruits. Fresh fruit juices are ubiquitous, as are croquettes, little pizzas, ham sandwiches, flan, and ice cream.
Packaged foods are almost non-existent in Cuba and snack foods in the American sense are extremely rare — if you need a favorite snack, bring it. Bottled water can be difficult to come by in Havana, so stocking up is advisable.
+ What kind of accommodation and amenities will we have?
We will stay at "casa particulars," which are Cuban-style bed-and-breakfasts run out of private homes by folks who rent several rooms in their homes and offer morning breakfasts for visitors. Our casas are well established and run by friends of our tour group who are eager to welcome you. These casas will give you a peaceful and interesting place to relax on your own, in the heart of the city, as well as an opportunity to get to know a Cuban family and enjoy a Cuban home.
Your room will have a private bathroom with hot and cold water; it will be cleaned daily. The room includes linens, towels and soap; other personal care products and things like hair dryers are not included.
As with B&Bs, it's important to understand that every room is different in a casa and that these are not hotels but private homes — the property and people in them belong to a family that is actively living in the casa. Our casa owners have become personal friends of your tour leaders, and we're confident you'll enjoy getting to know them. All of our casas have a living room space for guest use and guest access to the kitchen, if wanted. Laundry can be done at request. Some casas have roof decks where guests can enjoy breakfast or cocktails overlooking the city.
+ What type of currency do I need to bring, and roughly how much?
It's important for US travelers to know that US credit cards, debit cards, and traveler's checks are not accepted in Cuba, due to restrictions by US banks. It is also impossible to get Cuban currency outside of Cuba. Most travelers bring cash to exchange on arrival.
Money can be exchanged at banks and "cadeca" money-changing businesses, of which there are many throughout the city. There is a 10% transaction fee for exchanging USD.
Cuba has two currencies: CUC (pronounced "cook") — internationally convertible currency — used for most tourist restaurants, hotels, and large purchases. The CUC is pegged to the USD at $1 CUC = $1.17 USD. Many tourists do all of their transactions in CUC.
CUP (referred to as "national money") — Cuban traditional currency — used locally for food at market and in traditional Cuban establishments.
Many tourists find that they spend as much money per day on food, drink, and transportation as they would if they were on vacation in a US city.
+ What is internet access like in Cuba?
Internet access is limited to a few hot-spots throughout Havana, typically in and around major hotels and public parks. Internet cards can be purchased at most hotels for $5CUC/hr. Connections are very slow and some pages are inaccessible. In general, many visitors come to Cuba to leave the world behind and enjoy an internet-free experience. Getting online is possible if needed, but it can take a lot of time and patience that are better invested in enjoying the city, if possible.
+ What will the climate be like?
Cuba is tropical; bring sunscreen and a hat! In April, May and June temperatures are likely to be in the 80s and 90s most days. Cubans typically take multiple showers a day and change clothes (and do laundry) often, and travelers often end up wanting to do the same.
+ What if I need to cancel my trip?
Cancellations 30+ days before the start of the trip can be refunded for half of the deposit ($150) and package payments already made. Cancellations 15-29 days before the start of the trip will be refunded for trip cost but nor the $300 deposit. Cancellations 14 days or less before the start of the trip will be refunded for half of the total trip package.