Just booked a trip from Miami to Cuba in January, 2015. Any general advise or comments from others who have gone to Cuba?
Where to in Cuba?
I had a lovely time there and would go back. Stunning beaches and friendly people.
Probably got a good deal, huh, what with rooms opening up down on the far southern coast ?
Probably not a good deal relative to our other travels. But there are no other deals since US citizens are prohibited from traveling independently to Cuba. Will spend five days in Havana and two in Trinidad with a bunch of daily side trips. It is a university sponsored "cultural exchange."
I did it as part of a sailing rally out of Tampa. Coming back, it was the only time that customs ever had a really good go at my boat, plus almost an interrogation on expenditures. Another guy on the same trip had a hidden box of cigars -- which was found and seized along with the whole damn boat. I saw him a couple years later and he didn't say much except that he never got it back.
After we booked the trip we receive some preliminary information. No credit/debit cards as expected. No internet. US currency must be converted to a special peso with a 13% surcharge. No surcharge for euro,pound, etc., so I am thinking I taking in euro since I have some from last trip. Purchases are limited to some art work. As part of the package all meals are include so am not sure if there is much need for additional cash beyond a few pesos. Need a $75 visa going in and there is a exit tax. I am sure it will be an experience.
Worth every penny I expect! Please post a trip report when you return...you'll have great stories I'm sure!
I've been to Cuba twice over New Year's. Loved it. Will return.
The currency advice you've been given is good. Take the Euros. Because of the embargo, US currency is of little use to the Cubans, hence the surcharge. Since you are on an organized tour, you will not need much spending money. Beverages perhaps? Read and follow the import/export rules and you should be fine.
Pack for a variety of temperatures. It is very humid and the sun sets about 6:00 pm. The days can be very hot and the nights cool. Most buildings have neither air conditioning nor heat. Many do not have glass in the windows.
Most of your activities are probably planned out for you, but if you have some choices...
In Havana, wander around Old Havana and walk the Malecon. Eat ice cream at Coppelia. Sip coffee in Plaza Vieja or the cathedral square. If you like European coffee, you'll love Cuban coffee. In Trinidad, enjoying the live music and dancing at the "steps" in the evening, or visit the disco in the cave. Walk up to the top of the hill for a great view and take a side trip into the nearby jungle. Cuba has the finest white sand beaches I've ever seen and the water is warm. And there's nothing like the taste of pineapple or oranges straight from the field! And tomatoes that taste like tomatoes!
Cuban people are friendly and gregarious with each other and with tourists. You can trust people and it is a safe place to travel.