Please sign in to post.

Cuba

(not Europe, I know, but Rick Steves was there recently so...)

Hi all - the organization where I work is arranging a tour through Mejdi Tours to Cuba from December 6-16 for any interested employees. I'm finding that I have a lot of questions about the preliminary logistics so far, and Mejdi isn't answering them to my satisfaction. I'm hoping to get advice from any Americans on the Forum who have been to Cuba recently and might have dealt with the same issues I'm facing now.

With regard to charter flights: The rep said due to the changes in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Mejdi won't know about the charter flight information (round-trip Miami to Havana) until about 2 months to 2 weeks before our departure. She recommended the following:

  1. Buy refundable tickets- whether this is through the airline that you purchase from, or from travel Insurance
  2. Buy "cancel for any reason" insurance that includes coverage on flight cancellations and changes (this way you can buy your tickets and still be covered if you need to change them depending on when you will be leaving/returning to Miami
  3. Mejdi will be happy to help book any pre/post stay nights in Miami!

I’m considering flying to Miami a day early and staying in a hotel that night (booking these on my own), so that I’m available all day on the 6th for the charter flight. I don’t want to wait too long to buy tickets because the price may go up.

With regard to refundable tickets: I did a sample search on Delta.com (I picked a random airline for this purpose) for round-trip Dec. 5 – 16, STL – MIA, departing at 9:34am and arriving at 2:34pm with a change in Atlanta. One search was for refundable tickets and one search was for non-refundable (regular) tickets.

Refundable ticket price: $1,057.20
Regular: $365.20

The cost of staying in a hotel for a night is cheaper than the difference between non-refundable and refundable tickets.

Did anyone run into this issue of unknown charter flight times? If so, how did you deal with it?

Mejdi also recommended that we buy trip cancellation insurance. I asked the rep why Mejdi recommended this. I thought it had something to do with the relations between Cuba and the US.

The rep's answer was to supply a link to Roam Right insurance. I couldn't find anything on the site about travel to Cuba. The site mentions general reasons why it would be a good idea to buy cancellation insurance: death of a family member, illness, etc. I've never bought trip cancellation insurance but want to know if any of you think it's a good idea to do so for a trip to Cuba. I assume Mejdi gets a cut for each person they recommend Roam Right to, who buys their insurance.

Thank you for all your help! I'm sure there are questions I don't even know to ask at this point, so the more information you can give me, the better.

Posted by
5770 posts

You have other options which are much more predictable and reliable. Buy a ticket to Cancun. Buy another ticket from Cancun to Havana. Problem solved. This is what thousands of Americans do and have been doing for years. NOBODY CARES. Those flights are cheap and it's easy. There are other ways to get there, this is just one of the more obvious ones. I'm pretty sure Rick went via Cancun or some other unsanctioned stop. Upon return to the US, he told the US officials he was coming from Cuba, had cigars, and Che t-shirts. They just smiled and told him "welcome home." NOBODY CARES. There's a blogger who went a couple years ago, and has been trying to get prosecuted for violating the current "travel ban". He can't get the government to bother, even though he wants then to. NOBODY CARES.

Good luck and have fun.

Posted by
1976 posts

Thank you both for your advice. I know I can fly through Canada or Mexico but I would rather go with the tour from start to finish, which includes Miami to Havana. I just posted this in the hopes that others who have done this, would have some tips.

Posted by
4535 posts

Sarah - It seems the other posters missed the part about you being on a tour group.

The charter flights do indeed get scheduled closer to departure dates and even then are very subject to change. I learned the hard way to plan a night before and a night on return. Your charter flight might leave early in the day or late in the day. It might be delayed 2 hours or it might be delayed 11 hours. This is Cuba, don't expect things to run on time or smoothly.

I found staying in the hotel at the Miami airport very convenient as our charter flight back got in late evening and we had an early morning flight home. It wasn't cheap but we walked out the door and down a little ways to the security gate and it had running water.

Trip cancellation insurance is wise since you'll be a part of a group tour and will have paid your fees which are non-refundable after a certain time. If something does happen, you need to be able to cancel your trip and get refunded the group tour fees, as well as your domestic airline and hotels. Double check that the tour company includes insurance for your time in Cuba. You don't want to be stuck there injured or ill without a means to pay to get home.

I was there in February, so pretty recent. Feel free to PM me or ask more questions in the thread as you think of them. My main advice is to let yourself go with whatever happens and just enjoy the experiences whatever they may be.