It’s been well over a year since we posted our first Cuba 101 blog and we thought it was time to clarify some questions that so many of our friends and family keep asking. What are the policy changes under the Trump administration? Is it true that it’s harder now to visit Cuba? Are there less flights to Cuba? Is it still safe? There are still so many questions and concerns, rumors and here-say…meanwhile, here are the actual facts:
1. Can I still fly to Cuba?
Yes! Flights to Cuba from the US are still very much intact. Some airlines have cut back flight frequency due to decreased demand, while others have added flights to reach more people that may want to go from different areas of the country. Below are the most current airlines flying to Cuba.
JetBlue – Flys direct to Havana from Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and New York.
Delta – Flys direct from New York, Atlanta and Miami.
Southwest – Flys direct from Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa.
United – Flys direct from Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Boston, New York, Denver and Washington.
American Airlines – Flys direct from Miami and Charlotte.
For most of the world, travel to Cuba is fairly simple. Few restrictions, if any, apply to your travel there. You just need to check with your Consulate as to any specific requirements. For Americans, it’s a little different.
If you’re an American, there are twelve specific categories of approved travel to Cuba that you will need to choose from when you fly. Don’t worry or panic, it’s very simple and as long as you follow the plan, really easy. The Cuban government itself doesn’t really care about any of these…they simply want your tourist dollars. This paperwork is only required by the US government.
Of the twelve categories, there are two that are easiest and usually apply to most American visitors. The first is if you are “visiting family”. If this is your case, you just check the box on the provided form at the airport you’re flying out of in the US, and turn it in as you board. No other paperwork is required, besides the visa you purchased.
You can go with a tour group. There are many different groups from all over the world, including the US, this would also include cruises from multiple ports of destination. If you join a group, they will assist you with all the documentation you need. Very easy to do.
If you don’t have any family in Cuba, and you don’t want to be part of a tour group, then the following option is for you: “Support for the Cuban People”. This option allows you to travel on your own, as long as you have an itinerary of what you’re doing while you’re there, and you don’t stay in a government hotel (think…stay at an AirBnB or Casa Particular). The itinerary is only for when you return to the US, and just in case, you get questioned about what you did (never really happens). It’s that easy.
Yes. There are now many different cruise lines embarking from various ports around the world, including the US, with Cuba as their destination. Here is a list of a few of them:
Norwegian Cruise Line – Departs from Miami.
Carnival – Departs from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Charleston.
Viking Ocean Cruises – Departs from Miami.
Royal Caribbean – Departs from Miami, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale.
Very important, don’t forget to take cash. Cash is still king in Cuba, and basically still the only king. ATMs are pretty much non-existent. So bring cash and exchange at the airport for Cuban CUC. If you wait, and try to exchange in Central Havana, you will waste a good s,lung of your day in a very long line instead of enjoying the sites.
AirBnB is up and running, and everywhere. I have stayed at well over half a dozen different apartments and they are far superior, even the semi-sketchy ones, to the government run hotels. The AirBnB’s are more comfortable, quaint, fun and usually serviced by incredibly friendly families that are more than willing to go the extra mile to feed you, transport you or help you around the city. Plus, you are giving back to families that could really use the help and the money!
Finally, here’s a great article from Bloomberg on the current situation there that should also alleviate concerns and further answer questions: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-11/believe-it-or-not-now-is-the-best-time-to-visit-cuba
Travel to Cuba is safe, it’s wonderfully fun and incredibly culturally rich. Cuba is open for business!