What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Cuba

The authenticity of a culture from another time, combined with the lure of being one of the first to visit, make Cuba one of the hottest destination topics for American travelers. How can we travel to Cuba? Can we visit now? Is it legal? How does it work?  What are the travel requirements? As Travel Specialists, we always look to share information to navigate the tricky restrictions of travel, such as those posed by the Cuban government. Here are some quick facts and tips about travel to Cuba, courtesy of the U.S. Department of State.

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Streets of Havana

REGULATIONS

Currency: U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. Bring cash to pay for any expenses incurred while you stay.

Passports: For any US citizen traveling outside the US, passports should have 2 blank pages and the passport should be valid at least 6 months AFTER your return date.

Tourist Visa:  You must obtain a license from the Department of Treasury or your travel must fall into one of 12 categories of authorized travel. These include family visits, official business of the US government, journalistic activity, professional research & meetings, educational activities, religious activities, public performances/competitions, support for the Cuban people, humanitarian projects, activities of private foundations/research/educational institutes, exportation/importation/transmission of information, certain authorized transactions.

If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution. See the Department of Treasury webpage. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Visit the Cuban Embassy website for visa requirements. Cuba also requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which can normally be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba. Questions about insurance should be directed to the Cuban Embassy.

THE MOST CONVENIENT WAY TO VISIT CUBA

Despite the fact that Cuba is now a bucket list destination for a lot of travelers, keep in mind that visiting Cuba is not a beach-style vacation! As per U.S. licensing requirements, the onshore excursion itineraries offered by our vendors are full-time, people-to-people programs with scheduled tours and activities. There will be little free time on most days.

Two preferred vendors we recommend that visit Cuba are Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. Experiencing Cuba as part of a cruise is one of the easiest ways to be compliant with travel regulations and gives you time on vacation to relax with optional experiences at other ports in the Caribbean. Plus Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International make it easy to obtain a visa. With Norwegian, download and submit a certification form and provide via email to Norwegian. On Royal Caribbean, the visa will be provided on embarkation (departure) day from port. Both charge a fee of $75.

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Norwegian Sky
Empress of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International Empress of the Seas

Cruising to Cuba offers you the security of the cruise ship at night while giving you the authentic Cuban experience during the day. Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean offer overnight stays in Cuba. Optional shore excursions include Hemingway’s Havana, Old Havana City Sightseeing, Havana by Classic American Car, Havana Heritage Walking Tour, Best of Havana, and more.

WEATHER & PACKING

cuba-1092372-pixabayHavana’s temperature ranges from an average low 66/high 78 in January, to an average low 75/high 89 in its warmest month, August. Cuba is known  for its casual, laid-back lifestyle and tourists are encouraged to dress casually. Pack breathable, lightweight clothing, rain gear (summer months can pour over 7″ of rain onto the island), comfortable shoes, sunglasses, bug spray, and hand sanitizer.

Cuba is sure to be a top travel destination for Americans for the next few years. We highly recommend using a Boscov’s Travel Specialist to navigate the travel restrictions before visiting this beautiful and authentic country. If you’re ready to raise a Cuba Libre and to step back in time to experience the culture of Cuba, visit your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist or call 800-755-8020. Our complete vacation-planning services are always free.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

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