Important: The information contained on this page is crucial to ensuring a successful trip to Cuba. Please read it carefully before you travel so you can prepare properly. If you are an American please make sure to read all sections labeled “FOR AMERICANS”, you will find them in the topics listed below that are marked in yellow. There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about Cuba travel. Please read the information carefully regarding Cuba travel.
- FACEBOOK GROUP: “KRYON TOURS & EVENTS – SHALOHA PRODUCTIONS”
- WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING TO THE AIRPORT TO TRAVEL TO CUBA?
- BASIC ITINERARY SCHEDULE
- PRICE INCLUDES
- PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE
- TOUR COSTS
- HIGHLY RATED HOTELS & RELATED INFO
- ROOM SHARE
- PRE & POST NIGHTS
- TRAVEL INSURANCE
- PASSPORT & VISA
- AIRPORT TRANSFER TO OUR HOTEL
- TIPPPING & ETIQUETTE
- PACKING, CLOTHING & THINGS TO TAKE
- PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES
- TIPS TO REDUCE JET LAG
- TIPS FOR THE FLIGHT
- DAY TOUR DEPARTURE & RETURN
- LOST ITEMS
- WEATHER IN CUBA
- TIME IN CUBA
- SECURITY CHECK (UPON DEPARTING CUBA)
- MAP OF CUBA
- GIFTS & PURCHASES
- FOOD & WATER
- SPECIAL ASSISTANCE
- CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS
- EMERGENCY TREATMENT
- USE OF PARTICIPANT LIKENESS
- SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE PARTICIPATION
- TOUR DATES, DELAYS AND ROUTE CHANGES
- IMPORTANT NOTE
- UNUSED SERVICES & REFUNDS
- CONSUMER DISCLOSURE NOTICE
- RELEASE OF LIABILITY AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK
- SPECIAL NOTE
- AUDIO & VIDEO
- USEFUL PHRASES
If you have any health issues or special needs we must know before you register.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING TO THE AIRPORT TO TRAVEL TO CUBA?
- Passport and a photocopy of your passport
- Cuban visa filled out on both sides
- Flight confirmation number (for all commercial airlines)
- Copy of trip itinerary (final itinerary available 7-10 days prior to departure)
- FOR AMERICANS: Signed Certification of Travel to Cuba (Word file) or Certification of Travel to Cuba (PDF file)
- Cuban Tour leader phone number saved to phone (listed at end of final itinerary)
- Trip insurance policy information (if you purchased travel insurance)
- Sufficient cash (min $150/person/day; plan to use cash for everything! Credit/bank cards won’t work in Cuba)
- Recommended apps downloaded on phone (Google Translate, maps.me)
BASIC ITINERARY SCHEDULE: January 21 – 30, 2021
Day ONE: Thursday Jan 21, 2021 – ARRIVAL to Cuba – Havana
Hotel Check-in time from 15:00 (3:00 PM)
Day TWO: Friday Jan 22, 2021 – Havana (BLD)
Day THREE: Saturday Jan 23, 2021 – Havana (BL)
Day FOUR: Sunday, Jan 24, 2021 – Havana- Artemisa- Havana (BL)
Day FIVE: Monday, Jan 25, 2021 – Havana (BL)
Day SIX: Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021 – Havana -Trinidad (BL)
Day SEVEN: Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021 – Trinidad (BL)
Day EIGHT: Thursday, Jan 28, 2021 – Trinidad (BL)
Day NINE: Friday, Jan 29, 2021 – Trinidad – Bay of Pigs – Havana (BLD)
Day TEN: Saturday, Jan 30, 2021 – DEPARTURE from Cuba (B)
B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner
NOTE: It is really important to be flexible in Cuba. If there are any last minute changes to your itinerary, we make every effort to replace the activity with something similar. There are certain places that are government run such as museums and the Hemingway house. Although it does not happen often, any government-run place can close at any time – sometimes without notice. If this does happen your activity will be replaced with something as similar as possible. We have no control over government closings.
- Transportation on arrival/departure – to and from airport/hotel
- Air-conditioned ground transportation and buses during the tour
- Entry to sites, churches, museums and parks (as listed on the itinerary)
- All lectures, excursions, activities, meditations and channellings
- Coordination of all listed activities on the itinerary and admission to those activities (includes private music concerts, dance performances, artist visits, museums, public buildings, etc)
- Superior Accommodation in hotels for 9 nights (January 21-30, 2021)
- Meals per Itinerary: 9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 2 Dinners (all included meals include one beverage)
- Daily breakfast (at the hotels)
- All lunches during the tour at Cuba’s top paladares (privately run restaurants)
- Two dinners: welcome and farewell
- Concierge/reservation service for dinners and evening activities
- Expert, private tour leader and additional specialist guides
- Gratuities to tour leaders, guides, bus drivers.
- For Americans: Compliance with U.S. Treasury Department regulations
PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Airfare to Cuba
- Travel Insurance (Cancellation and Medical Insurance)
- Visa and/or passport charges (optional add-on at $85 each including shipping for those traveling from US)
- Charges for personal services (ie laundry, mini-bar, room service, drinks, telephone calls, personal clothing)
- Extra meals not included in itinerary
- Gratuities to waiters, porters, hotel and restaurant staff – at your discretion
- Evening activities/transportation
- Any item that is not specified as being included
Our itinerary provides information as to the costs of the tour and the accommodations and services that are included. Unless otherwise explained in the tour itinerary, the fee includes: lodging and meals (usually drinks are on your own as indicated per day and other food or beverages may be purchased by you at your own cost). The tour price also includes all transportation during the tour, sightseeing as specified in the itinerary, entrance fees for parks and other areas that are designated in the itinerary, and services of a tour guide. We reserve the right to substitute lodging accommodations if necessary, and will endeavor to provide accommodations of similar quality. Tour costs are based on group rates and no refunds will be given for unutilized services.
HIGHLY RATED HOTELS & RELATED INFO
Hotels in Cuba:
We make every effort to accurately describe hotels, however, please note that Cuba does not have the same standards that we may be accustomed to elsewhere.
We must reserve the right to substitute hotels if absolutely necessary. Please note that it is standard policy that hotel rooms are not available for check-in before 3 p.m. Single rooms are often smaller than twin rooms. Triple rooms may not be available or may consist of a rollaway, cot, temporary bed or mattress in a twin room, and may not be comfortable for three adults.
When not traveling with a companion/partner/friend, we pair intuitively women with women, men with men. The Divine Spirit typically has a hand in those matters.
PRE & POST NIGHTS
If you need extra nights before and/or after the tour dates at our Hotel in Havana, cost with our group rate per room per night is listed below:
FOR AMERICANS: you must participate daily in Support for the Cuban People travel activities under the US legal requirements for visiting Cuba. These will be an added cost on any extra days you plan to stay. We highly recommend that you do not add more days to the already planned program tour itinerary unless you must arrive or depart on a different day due to flight availability.
Pre/Post-Night – Habana Riviera by Iberostar:
Single $190.00 per night
Double $135.00 per person/per night
Private Airport/Hotel Transfer cost: $35.00
To book, email: email@example.com
All group tipping to waiters, hotel and restaurant staff, baggage handlers, guides, bus drivers, etc. is included. The price does not include tipping for personal items: your room housekeeper, laundry service, drinks, health clubs tips for personal meals and other personal items.
We strongly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance (Cancellation and Medical Insurance) to protect against cancellation fees and additional travel expenses that may incur before, after or during the trip.
Please contact your medical provider, airline or travel agent to obtain a policy for this trip. This is important.
CANCELLATION AND REPLACEMENT POLICIES:
All payments are non-refundable beyond the cancelation dates advertised on the registration page. Please purchase trip cancellation insurance from a certified third party insurance vendor in case an emergency situation makes it impossible for you to travel.
FOR AMERICANS: What if there are changes to diplomatic relations that interrupt my ability to travel to Cuba?
In the unlikely event of extreme changes in policies and travel regulations between the US and Cuba, we will do our best to refund as much of your trip as possible minus any cancellation fees we incur. This will vary per individual situation and reservation details. Our general policy is strictly no refunds. Please purchase travel insurance if you think you may need to cancel your trip or may have a medical emergency.
FOR AMERICANS: Where can I purchase trip insurance?
There are two types of insurance you need to be thinking about when you travel to Cuba. One is the mandatory Cuban medical insurance, and the other is regular travel insurance, which could cover things such as emergency trip cancellation, lost luggage, or if you have a serious medical emergency and need to be evacuated.
All major commercial airlines from the US automatically include the Cuban medical insurance as part of your fare, so please hold on to your boarding pass as proof of insurance in case you become ill in Cuba.
PLEASE NOTE: The Cuban medical insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions and usually covers minor things like an upset stomach or if you fall and hurt yourself. If you are someone with a major pre-existing condition we strongly recommend purchasing additional medical insurance.
Highly Recommended Travel Insurance company:
If you would like to purchase additional travel/cancellation insurance, we highly recommend AIG/Travel Guard. You can call them at 866-375-2546 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about a Cuba policy; it’s important to mention Cultural Island Travel’s Account number: 333421.
Also, you may want to check with your credit card company if you are paying for the trip with your card. Some credit card programs may automatically include some travel insurance.
Other Recommended Travel Insurance companies:
For Americans and citizens of other countries
We suggest you call and speak with an agent about all options available
USI AFFINITY Travel Insurance Services
Insure My Trip
TIC (Travel Insurance Coordinators)
TIC (Travel Insurance Coordinators)
FOR AMERICANS: Has the US Embargo against Cuba been lifted and if so, can we travel on our own to Cuba?
The US Embargo and travel restrictions are still in effect. Regardless, companies like Cultural Island Travel are automatically authorized to send Americans to Cuba legally under a general license as part of Support for the Cuban People travel.
PASSPORT & VISA
All travelers are required to carry a valid passport and a Cuban visa (“tourist card”). If we are providing your visa (for those traveling from the US only), it will be mailed approximately 7-10 days prior to departure. Visas must be filled out carefully. Mistakes on visas will not be accepted. Should you make an error on your visa, you can purchase a new visa at check-in for your flight.
Those without a valid passport will not be allowed to enter. Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after departure date. Those traveling from the US with foreign passports must also carry a valid U.S. Resident Alien card (Green Card) or multiple entry US visa.
Important note: If you were born in Cuba please alert us immediately. Anyone born in Cuba and wanting to travel back to the island requires additional paperwork regardless of current nationality. He or she needs a special single entry visa called a PE-11 or an updated Cuban passport (for multiple entries) with proper stamps to travel to Cuba. This process takes at least 6-8 weeks for the PE-11 and up to four months for a Cuban Visa.
Cultural Island Travel and Shaloha Productions are not responsible for lost or stolen passports in Cuba. We recommend that you only carry a photocopy of your passport around with you in Cuba in case of loss (lock the original in your hotel safe).
FOR AMERICANS: When will I receive my visas and itinerary?
Please contact Shaloha Productions if you do not have your visa and itinerary seven days before your trip.
We suggest you fill out your visa the day you are flying in case you end up having to cancel the trip or need to have someone else take your place. Please fill out your visa very carefully as mistakes will not be accepted at Cuban customs. If you lose or need to replace your visa before your trip you may purchase another one at check in for your flight. Some airlines charge up to 100 dollars for the visa.
FOR ALL OTHER COUNTRIES worldwide: please consult your airline about obtaining a Cuban Tourist Visa from your country.
Note: If you are connecting via a US airport you can buy your Visa at check-in at the gateway for your flight to Cuba.
Keep your passport in your purse or a secure pocket where it cannot be seen; never pack your passport in your suitcase.
Leave a copy of the front inside information page at home, another copy in your suitcase, 2 more copies for hotel check-in and your original passport with you. If you use your hotel safe, remember to check your hotel safe before checking out of your room. Total 3 copies to bring with you and your original passport.
Do I need a photocopy of my passport for travel to Cuba?
Yes, it is very important to bring a photocopy of your passport to Cuba. In the event that you do lose your passport, a passport copy is extremely useful for obtaining a new one at your country’s embassy in Cuba.
In Cuba identification is not necessary for consumption of alcohol or entry into venues. We strongly recommend that you do not take your passport out of your hotel unless you are using it to change money.
How does Cuban Customs & Immigration work?
When you arrive in Cuba please have your passport and Cuban visa ready. The immigration officer will take your visa, stamp it and give it back to you. They may or may not keep one part of it. When you arrive at your lodging we recommend leaving your passport and visa in a safe place and not carrying them around to avoid losing them. Please also take a picture of your visa and passport in case you misplace them. On the plane to Cuba you will also receive a blue customs form and a white medical form to fill out. For the white form the reason for travel is tourism. The white form goes to the nurses when you pass security and the blue form should be handed to the customs agent right before you leave the airport.
It is a good idea to carry a copy of your passport around with you throughout your trip; you won’t need your actual passport in Cuba unless you are changing money.
What do I need to know when I go to the airport?
Please always check the status of your flight 24 hours before you travel. Airlines reserve the right to make changes any time to any destination.
Many airport terminals have a separate check-in area exclusively for Cuba flights. Please ask an airport employee upon arrival to your airline’s terminal for the Cuba check in area, or look for a section that says “Cuba flights.” Once you have your boarding pass you can check your ticket for the concourse or gate number.
What are the luggage restrictions on flights to Cuba?
Please check your respective airline’s website for information on baggage fee policies
AIRPORT TRANSFER TO OUR HOTEL
Where will I meet my Cuban tour leader?
PLEASE EMAIL US YOUR FLIGHT ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE DETAILS AS SOON AS YOU HAVE BOOKED YOUR FLIGHTS TO: email@example.com
One of our representatives will meet you at the airport when you arrive in Havana. He or she will be waiting for you either in the lobby (Terminal 3) or just outside the airport (Terminal 2). He or she will be holding a KRYON TOUR sign.
Please note that if you are arriving in Terminal 3, there are two airport exits (“oeste/este” or east/west) that spill into the lobby. If you do not see your guide right away, it could be that s/he is at the opposite exit waiting for you. There will always be someone there to pick you up, so if you don’t see somebody right away please do not panic, and please do not take a taxi on your own to the hotel.
It is very important that you pick up your luggage and leave the baggage area of the airport instead of congregating inside. Customs will ask more questions if they see a group of people together and this will delay your exit from the airport. If a customs officer asks you questions, please answer honestly.
FOR AMERICANS: Remember, the reason for your trip is Support for the Cuban People travel, and they may ask other basic questions. This is most likely a random check and there is no reason to be nervous.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The month of January is considered high tourist season. Hence it is advisable to book your airfare ahead of time. Usually the air tickets go on sale about twelve months in advance. Please contact your travel agency for more information.
Your flight arrival to Cuba and departure should be to/from José Martí International Airport (Code: HAV)
Most international airlines operate flights to Cuba. You can also book your flights with your travel agent or Internet-based travel agencies companies such as:
www.orbitz.com www.expedia.com www.cheapoair.com www.travelocity.com www.cheaptickets.com
www.cheapflights.com www.onetravel.com www.travelzoo.com www.Kayak.com (within Kayak get pricing from: Priceline, WebJet, CheapOair, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Airfare, JustFly, FlightHub)
www.flightsfrom.com explores destination through non-stop flights from a specific airport.
How much money should I bring?
Please bring enough cash (bills, not coins) for your stay in Cuba. You will not be able to use credit cards or ATM cards, and if you run out of funds you cannot replenish them. We have had experiences where travelers run out of money because they wanted to buy a piece of art or due to another unplanned expense.
We suggest bringing a minimum of $150 US dollars per person per day. You may want to buy souvenirs and will need to pay for dinners and activities that are during your free time. Please bring extra money to cover these expenses. It is preferable to go home with extra money rather than run out of money in Cuba.
Please remember to change all CUCs back into your currency before you go through the airport to leave Cuba. You are not allowed to take them out of Cuba. If you are found to have CUCs on you as you go through security they may give you a hard time, take you aside for questioning, and/or confiscate your cash. You will be able to purchase souvenirs with other currencies in the departure area.
Can I use U.S. currency in Cuba?
You will not be able to use US dollars as currency in Cuba. When you arrive in Cuba you will convert your currency into the Cuban convertible currency called the CUC. There is a 10% tax on the US dollar in addition to the 3% exchange fee, therefore 1 CUC will exchange at 1.13 USD. When you are departing at the airport please change your CUCs back to US Dollars because you will not be able to change them once you get back to the United States. We can sometimes get you a better exchange rate if you bring $100 USD bills.
Other international currencies (e.g., Euros) do not face the 10% tax that the US dollar does, so if you live in the US and have any left over from a previous trip this is a great opportunity to use them. If you do not, you will have to pay a conversion fee to obtain these currencies. You can also special order them in advance from your bank for a delivery fee. If you plan to bring a currency other than the US dollar please familiarize yourself with current conversion rates. You can contact your local currency exchange house or bank for rates in order to determine the best currency to bring, and to calculate whether it is beneficial for you to exchange your money twice (you can also check online at xe.com).
Is there more than one official currency in Cuba?
Yes, there is more than one official currency in the country of Cuba. While Cuban locals use the Cuban Peso, tourists are given Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs, pronounced “kooks”) and are discouraged from using the Cuban Peso. It is essential that you have the right currency. Please only change money at hotels, banks, or Cadecas (authorized change house). An easy way to tell the difference between the currencies is to check for the word “convertible” on your bills. Never change money on the street, and always double-check that when you are given change that it is in the correct currency.
Will I be able to use my credit card or debit card in Cuba?
NO. US credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. Also, credit cards are not widely accepted in Cuba anyway, so it is still better to bring all cash. Please bring more than you think you need. You can always take home any unused cash.
TIPPPING & ETIQUETTE
Should I tip in Cuba?
Yes, tipping is expected in Cuba. It is a common and polite practice to tip your wait staff, tour leaders, local tour leaders, hotel staff, or bartenders for good service in Cuba by leaving a few Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs).
While tipping is highly personal, here are some tipping guidelines:
- A tip for a meal: 15% of the bill (Please note: at some restaurants there is a 10% tax or service charge added to your bill. This goes towards the restaurant and not your wait staff. Please make sure to leave the tip for your waiter separately.)
- Taxi rides, bell hops, and bartenders: 1 CUC
- Cleaning personnel for your room: 1-2 CUCs per day. Please try and leave this each day as cleaning personnel may change daily.
- Musicians or community projects: please feel free to tip according to your means.
- Please arrive with one (1) suitcase per person only and one carry-on!
- On tour buses in Cuba, luggage storage space is limited. Only one suitcase per person will be stored in the luggage compartment of the bus.
- Inside the bus, storage space is limited to the under-seat space in front of you and the shallow space above your head.
- You are responsible for additional pieces at all times.
- Porters are tipped for all group transfers of luggage. For Private porter’s assistance the tip to the porter helping you is on you.
- Always pack fewer clothes than you think you need.
- Include a closable canvas bag inside your suitcase, in case you need extra luggage for items you have purchased.
PACKING, CLOTHING & THINGS TO TAKE
- Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses
- A few nice outfits for dining or concerts (in general Cuba is pretty casual, but some private restaurants do not allow shorts or sandals for dinner)
- Travel alarm clock – you don’t want to miss an early morning outing! (you shouldn’t count on group wake up calls at hotels in Cuba)
- We find that writing a journal deepens your experience and allows you to review your journey at a later date, refreshing your memory
- Check with your airline about luggage weight, and remember to leave some room for goodies you may want to take home
- Laptop, iPad/tablet, smartphone
- Extra film and batteries for camera with protective case for x-ray machines
- Casual daytime clothes (most hotels offer laundry service for a small fee) and comfortable walking shoes
- Bathing suit; some hotels have pools. Bring sandals and water shoes for the beach or pools.
- Transformers for any small appliances such as hair dryers or flat irons that may not be able to withstand higher voltage. Some electrical sockets in both B&Bs and hotels may be 220 volts.
- European style plug adapters. Some hotels will have a mix of different types of plugs available in the rooms. While there will always be at least one American style plug, if you are bringing multiple items to charge it’s a good idea to bring an adapter as a back up.
- Insect repellant
- Hand sanitizer
- Contact lens solution
- Feminine hygiene products
- All toiletries including toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss
- Tissues and toilet paper as some public bathrooms may not have them
- Bandages, creams and ointments
- Any over the counter medicines you may need (e.g., Tums and Pepto-Bismol)
- A light jacket for rain or chilly weather-please check the weather forecast in Cuba before your trip!
- Hair dryer – in case the hotel does not provide one
- Do not pack: valuables, including items of sentimental value. Leave them at home.
What NOT to bring to Cuba?
Cuban airport customs does not allow fresh fruit, or meat into the country. They also restrict the import of household electrical items such as toasters and hotplates.
There are no restrictions on camera gear, and you can bring a small video camera as long as it is not the larger professional variety used to make documentaries or films. Laptops, iPad/tablets, and smartphones are all permitted.
None are required for entry into Cuba.
- Be sure to pack enough of your prescription medications to last through the tour. Pack your medicine in the original bottle and bring some in your carry-on bag.
- Bring an extra week’s supply, your doctor’s phone number, and a copy of the generic names for each.
- If you have a life-dependent medication please consult your doctor. Not all prescriptions are interchangeable.
- If you are allergic to any medicines, please keep a list of these with your passport.
- You should also bring over the counter medicines such as Aspirin, Advil, Pepto Bismol, Immodium, vitamins etc. in case you need them. These brands are not available in Cuba.
- If you suffer from motion sickness, bring along any medication you use to prevent this on the bus and plane.
TIPS TO REDUCE JET LAG
- Get ample rest before your flight departure, and drink plenty of water and fluids.
- Go to bed and get up at normal times for the new time zone. Your body will adjust quicker if you do not stay up all night or sleep during the day.
TIPS FOR THE FLIGHT
- Wear comfortable clothing on the flight. Dress casually; wear loose-fitting clothes.
- Bring a jacket and inflatable neck pillow for long overseas flight.
- Drink plenty of fluids while traveling. Avoid coffee and alcohol.
- Stand up and stretch several times during long flights. Stretch and contract your calf muscles with frequent foot exercises.
Will I have Wi-Fi access for my laptop/phone?
To use Internet in Cuba you will need to purchase an Etecsa card with a limited time Wi-Fi password (Etecsa is the telecommunications company on the island). Most major hotels in Havana do offer Wi-Fi access and will sell you the Etecsa card for a small fee. Prices for these cards vary depending on where you buy them, but they should cost between 1-5CUC/hour. We suggest downloading your emails, logging off, and uploading the responses to maximize your connection time. You may log in and out as many times as you like. Viber, IMO, and WhatsApp work at times when connected to Wi-Fi for calls and video chatting.
Wi-Fi is now also available at hot spots throughout Havana, including major parks and boulevards. Your tour leader can point out hot spots located close to your lodging. The card that you purchased at your hotel to connect to the Internet should work in these places as well, or if you have run out of time you can always purchase a new card. There will always be somebody selling connection cards in these hot spots.
Also, a number of US wireless providers now offer roaming in Cuba, so please check with your cellular provider for details on setting that up and cost. Most calls average $3 a minute and data is extremely expensive so please be careful when using US cell phones.
BUSES & RESTROOMS
- The touring motor coaches are air-conditioned, and will accommodate approximately 50 passengers each.
- Be on time and be prepared to rotate seats on the bus.
- One bottled water available on the bus for free.
- There are no restrooms on the buses. However, restrooms are available in most sites that we will be visiting, and we will have stops when traveling.
DAY TOUR DEPARTURE & RETURN
Usually, we will depart the hotel after breakfast between 8:00-9:00AM. Your tour guide will announce the start time for each day’s tour.
- Double check your belongings before leaving the plane, hotels and buses. We cannot assume responsibility for lost items.
- Put your name and a contact number on your belongings. You can include our company information too.
- Please check your hotel safe for any valuables before your leave the room.
Daily high temperatures are around 78°F, rarely falling below 71°F or exceeding 84°F. The lowest daily average high temperature is 78°F on January 18.
Daily low temperatures are around 64°F, rarely falling below 55°F or exceeding 71°F. The lowest daily average low temperature is 64°F on January 30.
During the winter – the country switches to Cuba Standard Time or CST. Central Standard Time is six hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time standard, written as an offset of UTC – 6:00. That means to find the standard time in the zone you must subtract six hours from Coordinated Universal Time.
SECURITY CHECK (UPON DEPARTING CUBA)
Passengers must arrive at the airport 3 hours before departure time.
Passengers will check in their luggage and receive a boarding pass and seat number. All passengers will have to pass through security with their carry-on luggage.
- Have all travel documents readily available at check-in, placed in your carry-on or purse, NOT in your luggage. Keep 30 CUC with you if you need to check a bag.
- Be prepared to submit yourself to a body check by metal detector or by physical means if necessary.
- Be prepared to open all luggage for inspection at check-in. All packages, including gifts, may be opened at this time.
- Do not lock your CARRY-ON bag in any way, because they may check the carry-on in front of the passenger.
- Do not accept anything presented to you unless you have inspected the contents.
How can my loved ones contact me in Cuba in case of emergency?
Your tour leader’s phone number and instructions for calling him/her internationally will be printed at the end of your itinerary. Please provide your family and friends with that number in case they need to reach you. Itineraries will be available one week prior to your departure. The itinerary will also include hotel names and dates so they could call the front desk if necessary.
Who should I reach out to if I have an issue in Cuba?
Your tour leader should be your go-to person for any issues in Cuba. His/her phone number will be listed at the end of your itinerary. Any problem you may have in Cuba such as an issue with your hotel room or if you need to see a doctor—is best resolved by on-the-ground team members. Please save your tour leader and back up tour leader’s phone number to your phone immediately in case you have issues or questions while in Cuba. If you have a medical emergency in Havana while you are not on tour, please go to Cira Garcia clinic with your passport and visa.
MAP OF CUBA
Where can I find a good map of Cuba?
We highly recommend using the app maps.me for current and accurate maps. You will need to install the app to your phone and download the Cuba map prior to departure. Although Internet service will not always be available, the map will be saved on your phone so you can access it as needed. It allows you to zoom in to view streets in any city you are visiting in Cuba.
GIFTS & PURCHASES
Can I bring gifts for the Cuban people?
Cubans greatly appreciate basic gifts. Many people bring clothing and toiletries that they leave behind with Cubans. Some of our suggestions include crayons, colored chalk and pencils, acrylic paints, blank CD’s and DVD’s, bars of soap, shampoo/conditioner samples, toothbrushes/floss/toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, makeup, flip flops, socks, sewing supplies, children’s clothing, new or gently used adult clothing, flash drives, guitar strings, chocolate bars, spices, cooking supplies, vitamins (multi, children’s, C, etc), any over the counter medicines (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc), and school supplies. Cuban musicians and artists also take tips most of the time and sell CDs as a way to support their art. You will have many opportunities to give out your gifts throughout the tour. We recommend bringing a couple of items with you each day to give out or asking your tour leader for his/her recommendations as to where you can gift them.
Lastly, pack a smile. Cubans are friendly and love to exchange ideas with Americans!
What can I buy in Cuba?
You may buy art, souvenirs, music, posters, books and other educational materials. You are permitted to bring anything back from Cuba. If you buy a large or expensive piece of artwork you will need some special documentation from the artist that will be required at Cuban customs upon departure. This paperwork takes 1-2 days to prepare so please plan accordingly. You may also bring home cigars and rum (there are no longer any restrictions on how much you can bring back), however please make sure you save your receipt and that there is a date on your receipt. If there is no dated receipt, these items may be confiscated in the US.
Please note: there is a 3CUC tax per painting at the airport, so please leave yourself with enough Cuban currency to pay for this as you go through security.
Why do we believe that the Cuban arts are amazing?
In the United States most parents want their children to become doctors or lawyers. In Cuba doctors are respected, but every parent dreams that his/her children will become a musician. Being a musician is the most respected profession in Cuba and one that many aspire to. At an early age Cubans can audition for music conservatories. Once selected in a highly competitive environment, they go to conservatories through 18 years of age and then, if they choose to continue, they go to a masters or doctorate program at a school such as ISA (Institute of Superior arts). ISA is comparable to the Julliard School of music. All schooling is free in Cuba for Cubans. It is interesting to note that at ISA no salsa or jazz is taught. Students receive strict classical training and then learn these genres on their own. This really pays off and creates some of the best musicians worldwide. We have strong relationships with these musicians. We want to introduce you to them and show you their passion, talent and expertise. We work with young up and coming jazz artists like Jorge Luis Pacheco who sat in with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to seasoned musicians like Cesar Pedroso who co-founded arguably the best band in Cuba, Los Van Van over 40 years ago and now heads his own 15 piece salsa band. CIT also has in-depth connections with the best dancers and fine artists in Cuba, and they can’t wait to meet you!
FOOD & WATER
What is the food like in Cuba?
While Cuban food is relatively simple (they do not use many spices and do not cook spicy food), the dining scene in Havana has flourished in recent years. We only use paladares (privately run restaurants) because they offer superior food and more creative variety compared to the state run restaurants. If you like spicy foods please bring a small bottle of hot sauce with you. Restaurants are obligated to wash your food with filtered water. If you have a sensitive stomach, please refrain from eating salads and uncooked items.
How much it is to dine at a nice restaurant in Cuba?
We highly recommend paladares in Cuba and include as many in our program as possible. A paladar is a privately owned restaurant as opposed to restaurants that are owned and operated by the Cuban government. Paladares compete with each other, and some beautiful, creative and quality establishments are in operation. A meal at a quality paladar generally runs at about 20-40 CUCs per person. Eating at paladares also helps encourage private enterprise in Cuba.
Where should I eat dinner on the nights it isn’t included in the program?
We will provide a list of staff favorites near your hotels. The hotel concierge is a good resource and can make reservations if needed. Your tour leader is also available to assist with recommendations and reservations.
Is the water safe to drink?
We recommend drinking only bottled water in Cuba. The Cuban drinking water is not recommended because our system is not accustomed to it. Most Cubans even boil and filter the tap water before drinking it. Drinking Cuban tap water may cause digestive problems, diarrhea, and/or nausea. We recommend brushing your teeth with bottled water to be safe.
Any travelers with disability requiring special attention should be reported at the time the reservation is made. We will make reasonable attempts to accommodate the special needs of such travelers, but are not responsible for any denial of services by carriers, hotels, and other independent suppliers. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance to a tour member for walking, dining, getting on and off motor coaches, ships and other transportation vehicles, or other personal needs. Travelers who need such assistance must be accompanied by a qualified companion.
CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS
In addition, Cultural island Travel and Shaloha Productions are not responsible for any costs or loss that a Participant may incur because of any act or failure to act by any government entity, including any delay or change of travel plans caused by any action by any governmental entity including changes to the Cuban Asset Control travel regulations to Cuba which may prohibit travel.
Should any medical emergency arise which preludes Participant’s ability to consent to emergency treatment when such authorization is required, Cultural Island Travel and Shaloha Productions will endeavor to communicate with the person previously designated by Participant to request permission for any necessary treatment. If Cultural Island Travel and Shaloha Productions personnel believe, in their sole discretion, that time or circumstances do not permit such communication, Participant authorizes Cultural Island Travel and Shaloha Productions to consent on his or her behalf, to any medical treatment, including all types of medical examinations, diagnosis, medication, treatment, or physician or hospital care that is deemed advisable by, and is to be rendered under the general or specific supervision of any physician and surgeon. Participant agrees not to hold Cultural Island Travel and Shaloha Productions responsible for actions relating to any such medical or emergency treatment.
USE OF PARTICIPANT LIKENESS
Participant acknowledges and agrees that in the course of the Participant’s participation in the Cultural Island Travel program during and after the completion of the program, Cultural Island Travel may record Participant’s likeness or comments. Participant consents to the use of the Participant’s likeness (whether photographed, filmed, or videotaped, including, without limitation, portions of a film or videotape) and comments or any portion of such in any manner developed now or in the future, including, without limitation, fundraising and promotional materials, advertising for television, radio, print, or other media, and any other Cultural Island Travel presentations. Participant agrees that, in connection with such use, Cultural Island Travel and persons acting for or on behalf of Cultural Island Travel may identify Participant and may identify Participant’s name, age, city and state/territory/other district or country of residence. Participant releases, indemnifies and agrees to hold harmless Cultural Island Travel, and persons acting for or on behalf of Cultural Island Travel, from any liability for acts authorized under this section of this Agreement and Release.
SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE PARTICIPATION
This applies to Americans or anyone traveling from the US.
Cultural Island Travel, in compliance with OFAC regulations, requires that all participants adhere to a schedule of activities that will support individuals and private businesses in Cuba. Cultural Island Travel is authorized to provide an itinerary that ensures all travelers comply with Support for the Cuban People requirements under a general license. By taking part in this Support for the Cuban People program to Cuba with Cultural Island Travel, you agree to participate in all the activities unless sick or otherwise incapacitated and unable to do so.
TOUR DATES, DELAYS AND ROUTE CHANGES
The schedule is established as much as 1 year before the tour, so it is possible that route changes, delays or postponements may become necessary as the tour date approaches. Events beyond our control, such as unexpected weather conditions, political turmoil, and similar causes may require changes to the itinerary. We and our providers reserve the right to cancel the tour prior to departure, in which case any payment you have made to us will be refunded what you have paid minus 10%. You waive the right to any further claims for compensation or damages, for any loss, consequential damage, expenses, or loss of time or inconvenience which may result from such cancellation.
The services described herein, and in the itinerary, are organized by us and/or our providers. All arrangements made on behalf of you are made on the condition that we and our providers shall not be held responsible for any injury, death, accident, delay, loss or damages which may be caused in all or in part, by the acts or omissions of others. The information contained in this page is correct to the best of our knowledge, but we accept no liability for any inaccuracies herein.
We reserve the right to alter any itinerary or service at any time without penalty. Any additional expense or cancellation costs shall be borne solely by you. We reserve the right to withdraw or refuse any service to any customer in our sole discretion. Your payment of your deposit is your acknowledgment of, and agreement to, the terms herein.
UNUSED SERVICES & REFUNDS
No refund or adjustment can be made for any portion of the services not used, such as voluntary non-usage of hotel accommodations, scheduled meals or any planned activity described in your itinerary.
CONSUMER DISCLOSURE NOTICE
We and our agents act only in capacity as agents for our customers in all matters connected with lodging accommodations, tours and transportation by any means. You hold us free of responsibility or liability for any damages related to the tour, regardless of cause. We and our agents will not be responsible or liable for any damages, expenses or inconveniences caused by late departures, changes of schedule, strikes or work slowdowns, hostile acts, or any other events. We will not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage to baggage or any of your personal property. We and our affiliates, officers, employees, servants and agents shall not be responsible for personal injury, death, accident, delay, loss, damage, terrorist acts, natural catastrophe, irregularity or property damage as a result of force majeure or for any other losses or damages incurred by any person or tour participant caused by any delay or change of itinerary or arising out of any act, including, but not limited to, any act of negligence by any person acting for or on behalf of us.
RELEASE OF LIABILITY AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK
You understand and agree that during the course of the trip certain risks and dangers may occur, including but not limited to the hazards of traveling in Cuba. You agree to assume all risks associated with the journey and agree that no liability will attach to us or our outfitters, employees or agents, or to any member of the tour group in respect of death, personal injury, illness or delay, or for any loss of or damage to your property during the course of the trip, regardless of cause. You accept all risk of any walking, hikes, cable rides, motorcar, bus and boat trips. We reserve the right to withdraw a service or any part of it, to make alterations in the itineraries as we deem necessary or desirable. We reserve the right to decline, to accept, or to retain any person as a member of any party at any time. “Catch-up fees” are the responsibility of you in the event of missed transportation at any leg of the trip. You understand that neither traveler’s insurance nor medical insurance is provided by us, and it is your responsibility to obtain such insurance if it is desired.
We place great emphasis on harmony amongst the tour-goers and all other persons involved in the tour. We reserve the right to remove any disruptive attendee from the tour, without reimbursement of any fees. If an attendee chooses to leave the tour for any reason, there will be no reimbursement of any fees.
AUDIO & VIDEO
Audio & Video recording of the lectures and channelling is NOT permitted.
Though many Cubans speak English, knowing just a few words and phrases of Spanish can help you enjoy your experience in Cuba even more.
|English Phrase||Pronunciation in Spanish|
|Hello / Goodbye||Hola/Adios|
|Good morning||Buenos Dias|
|Good night||Buenas Noches|
|Please / You’re welcome / Excuse me?||Por Favor/De Nada/Perdon|
|What is this?||Quien es?|
|I want this||Yo quiero eso|
|I want to …||Yo quiero …|
|How much is this?||Cuanto es eso?|
|I want to go …||Yo quiero ir a …|
|How can I get to …||Como puedo llegar a …|
|Where is …||Donde esta …|
|How are you?||Como estas?|
|I don’t know||No se|
|Slower, please||Mas lento, por favor|
|What time is it?||Que hora es?|
|Excuse me, do you speak English?||Perdoname, habla ingles?|