Colors of Cuba

9-Days Tour from Miami to Miami

June 2017: Revised USA Cuba Travel Rules
Bottom line is while independent travel to Cuba has been limited, our People-to-People group tours are still legal and operating! We hope we can help you explore and enjoy visiting Cuba. Departures often sell out, so please contact us early in your planning to help decide what type of tour may be best for you.

This tour explores Havana, Cojimar, the colonial treasure of Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus

After many years, Americans are again able to travel to Cuba under a "People-to-People" program authorized by the U.S. government, which provides an opportunity to interact with Cubans through educational exchanges concerning art, music, culture, and more.

el-capitolio-havana-big
  • Trip Highlights include:
  • Non-stop, round trip flights from Miami to Havana
  • U.S. Treasury Department license and letter of authorization
  • Cuba Entrance Visa
  • People-to-People interaction and meaningful exchanges with locals
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
  • 7 nights 5-star hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 18 meals: (8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 3 dinners)
  • Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees
  • Small group size with maximum of 24 participants
  • Local, English-speaking guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans
  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)
  • Explore Old Havana’s architectural treasure trove with a specialist from the Office of the City Historian
  • Tour the Rum Museum to trace the history (and taste) Cuba’s national drink
  • Learn how Cuban masters hand-roll cigars at a famous cigar factory
  • Visit the fascinating Afro-Cuban neighborhood of Regla
  • Experience the charming, Spanish Colonial town of Trinidad
  • Walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway at Finca Vigia

small line break
CUBA tour map
colors-of-cuba-spring-2014-big
Click here for a nice 6 minute video on Cuba Tourism:
potatoe plates

COLORS OF CUBA: 9-days Itinerary

Day 1: Miami Overnight & Introductory briefing.

Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami, Florida at the Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal, simply hail the driver as they pass. This evening at 7:30pm, participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers and review your documents and program itinerary. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning.

Day 2: Miami - Havana (B / L / D)

vintage-car-old-havana-big
Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba's capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bienvenidos a Havana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban people-to-people representative outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in as you head directly to your first destination in Cuba.

Enjoy your first lunch at a local restaurant in the center of Old Havana, followed by a leisurely orientation walk with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.

We then explore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.

Hotel Parque Central Havana
Now that you've had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it's time to check in to your hotel. After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy your first dinner at the hotel.

Hotel Parque Central is conveniently located in the heart of Old Havana facing Parque Central, within walking distance to Plaza de la Catedral, the Capitol building, Gran Teatro de La Habana, and Havana Harbor. The Hotel Parque Central has 427 rooms which combine the elegance of the Spanish colonial style with modern services and facilities. Each room has been decorated with warm colors and wooden furniture to create an intimate ambience. Standard rooms are equipped with soundproof walls, air conditioning, phone, satellite TV, safety deposit box, hairdryer, mini bar, and private bathroom.
swimming-pool-big
Its El Paseo is a specialized restaurant in the Hotel Parque Central that serves a variety of choice meats. You can chose from 11 certified meat cuts and pair it with some of the world's most exquisite wines. On the top floor next to the classic Greek style swimming pool, is the terrace which offers splendid views of Havana, including Parque Central and Paseo del Prado. There is also a bar and restaurant perfect for a refreshing cocktail or light snack. Amenities include Swimming pool, Wi-Fi Internet access, Buffet restaurant, A la Carte Restaurant, Lobby bar, Pool-side bar, Roof-top Terrace, Shop, Laundry service, Massage, Room service, Medical services, and Currency exchange.


Day 3: Old Havana (B / L)

angela-landa-elementary-students-big
Begin our day with a visit to a primary school (ages 5-12) located in Old Havana. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school’s administrators and teachers about Cuba’s education system and how it compares to that of the United States. Please note that should a school not be available or not in session, we will substitute the school visit with an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project in Havana.

Then continue on to the private studio of one of Cuba’s talented independent artists. During your visit you’ll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.

Continue to a local ration store. Your Cuban host will explain the system of rationing and the two-currency system as well as the difference between Ration Stores, Cuban Peso Stores, and CUC stores.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
ration-store-scale


This afternoon, visit the Vocal Leo, a group of 14 talented singers who perform under the direction of Corina Campos, general and musical director of this unique, award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. The group is named for the Cuban guitar virtuoso, composer and orchestra conductor, Leo Brower. After watching a performance or rehearsal, discuss the professional music scene in Cuba and the USA.

This evening, we meet in our pre-reserved meeting room at our hotel and engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S./Cuban relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.

Afterwards, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provide or ask your guides for recommendations.

Day 4: Havana & Las Terrazas (B / L )

las-terrazas-big
Depart for the town of Las Terrazas in Artemisa Province, a "must see" in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty. Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, of living without electricity and of living without local schools or medical services.

First, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area's sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared. Note: When not possible to visit, an appropriate alternate visit will be included.

We then visit the kindergarten of the community. After a tour of the facility conducted by the director and teacher, discuss early childhood education in Cuba and the USA with school staff. Then, enjoy a brief presentation by the children.

cafe-maria-las-terrazas-big
At our next stop, we'll visit the town's only coffee shop, Café Maria. Café Maria is owned by the oldest member of the community, Maria. She and her family have been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the "best coffee in the country." Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction. Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons.

Next we visit the art studio of Lester Campa (when in residence).

Afterwards, you’re in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.

mosaic-fusterlandia-big
After lunch, we have the distinct pleasure of visiting "Fusterlandia", the home and surrounding neighborhood of "The Picasso of the Caribbean", Jose Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.

Return to Havana and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure and dinner on your own.

Day 5: Havana, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad (B / L / D)

Shortly after breakfast this morning, depart from Havana and drive along Cuba's "autopista" highway. Visit the town of Santa Clara and the Che Guevara Mausoleum.

musician-santa-clara-big
Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should this school not be available, or in session, during your trip, an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project will be substituted.

hotel_santa_clara_los_caneyes
Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara, whose architecture is modeled after a Tainos aboriginal village.

Sancti_Spiritus_01_anagoria
After lunch, we continue on to the picturesque town of Sancti Spíritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor. The city was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in 1514.

Continue the drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America.

exterior-iberostar trinidad
Check in to your hotel, the Iberostar, before dinner at the hotel this evening. The 5-star Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad is a true colonial treasure guaranteed to transport you back to the 16th century. The local architectural touches, carefully decorated spaces, and modern accents impart comfort and create a fascinating atmosphere. Nestled in the city of Trinidad, one of Cuba’s cultural and historical epicenters, the Iberostar offers guests a top choice in urban hotels while conveniently located only a few miles from the Caribbean Sea. The hotel has a total of 40 rooms (half of which are city-view balcony or terrace). Each room is fitted with full amenities, including a full bathroom, satellite TV, telephone, mini bar, safe, free wireless Internet connection, and clock radio with iPod docking station. During your stay at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad, seize the opportunity to sample the best local fare. Even the most discerning palates can be satisfied at the Gourmet Restaurant, which boasts a fine dining menu of vegetarian dishes, regional entrées, and an assortment of desserts that can be paired with a select wine or signature cocktail. Guests can also take advantage of the food and drink offerings at Fumoir and Lobby Bar, or countless other major restaurants in the area.

Day 6: Trinidad (B / L)

trinidad-rooftops-big
After breakfast this morning, visit the Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that was founded and has been managed by the Santander Family for generations. Today you'll learn the process of ceramic production and have the opportunity to create a piece of your own.

Continue to one of Trinidad's many "casas particulares" or bed and breakfasts, where you'll enjoy a tour and a discussion with the owners. Learn how bed and breakfasts are one of Cuba's new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Ask questions and share insights about U.S. businesses, including the ever popular bed and breakfasts that are ubiquitous in the U.S.

Continue to Templo de Yemaya, where a Santeria Practitioner along with some of the religion's devotees explains the basic principles of Santeria. Discuss the role of religion and religious organizations throughout both Cuba and the US.

manaca-iznaga-observation-tower-big
Lunch today is at the beautifully restored Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga, located in the heart of the Valley de los Ingenios, a series of valleys once known as a center for sugar production. Built in the late 1700s, the mansion displays an exhibition of paintings depicting the lives of slaves on sugar plantations.

After lunch, learn about the region's harsh past, where great fortunes were made on the backs of African slaves, and where many descendants of the Afro-Cuban slaves still reside.

After return to the hotel and time to rest, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a privately owned paladar. Feel free to ask your Cuban guide for recommendations.

After dinner, join Cubans at either Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the US.


Day 7: Cienfuegos & Havana (B / L)

city-hall-cienfuegos-big-1
After breakfast, we drive along the Caribbean coast and through small towns and villages en route to Cienfuegos, known as the “Pearl of the South” and the capital of Cienfuegos Province on the southern Caribbean side of the island.

Visit an interesting community project in Cienfuegos then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, explore the main square and the Punto Gordo peninsula.

Return to Havana for a short rest. Then, enjoy dinner on your own at one of Havana’s fantastic paladars, including many within walking distance of your hotel.

Day 8: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar (B / L / D)

hemingways-house-big
This morning, drive to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's Cuba retreat for a visit.

Then, drive to the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970's, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans.

Amongst the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called Organoponicos, where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.
callejon-de-hamel-murals-havana-big


Then, visit Cojimar, the fishing village that was the setting for Hemingway's book, The Old Man and the Sea, and enjoy lunch at a local paladar.

This afternoon, visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery, a miniature city of mausoleums, crypts, family chapels, vaults, sculptures and ornate gravestones. Continue to the Artisan Market, where you’ll find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.

dancers-havana
After some well-deserved 'down time' at the hotel, join your fellow travelers for your last dinner in Havana, served in a privately owned restaurant. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban Buena Vista-style music and salsa dancing.


Day 9: Havana - Miami (B )

cathedral-st-christopher-havana-big
This morning, we travel to one of Cuba’s well known dance companies to enjoy watching a rehearsal, followed by a discussion with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.

Then, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport and check-in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Havana!

While full participation in the scheduled program is required during the day, you are able to explore on your own during early morning hours or in the evenings.


potatoe plates


9-Days, COLORS OF CUBA

TOUR DATES & PRICES (per person in double occupancy )

** Check with us for early booking discounts**
Contact us to confirm availability or later dates.

Colors of Cuba $
NOTES:

1. A single room supplement may be available - contact for specific departure. Let us know if you are traveling solo, but would like a roommate and we will assist.

2.
The tour price includes: Roundtrip flights from Miami to Havana including taxes and fees, Cuba Visa Fee, Cuba Departure Tax, airport transfers, meals as listed, (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) all group transportation in Cuba, Cuban national tour director, and your group leader, baggage fee on your charter flight from Miami to Cuba (combined luggage cannot exceed 44 lbs), required Cuba Health Insurance, and applicable taxes.

3.
Not included are Gratuities and Baggage fees, which must be paid at airport for each flight: $25 for 1st checked bag / $40 for 2nd checked bag. (combined luggage cannot exceed 44 lbs), personal baggage & travel insurance, extra beverages, items or meals not specifically mentioned in the itinerary or "included features" list, and any items of a personal nature.

4. Optional post-tour overnights at the Crowne Plaza Miami are $140 - $170 for a double or single room.

5. Luggage: Baggage fees must be paid at airport for each flight: $25 for 1st checked bag / $40 for 2nd checked bag. Anything over 44 pounds will be subject to a $2.00 per pound overage fee. If you are checking a second bag there will be a $40 fee each way plus an additional charge of $2.00 per pound for its total weight. Your carry-on luggage should not exceed 22” x 14” x 9”. Your carry-on luggage should fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. In addition to your carry-on, you may also have one personal item, such as a camera or purse. You will receive specific baggage allowance information with your final documents, or you may review our Airline Baggage Allowances page, which has information for our various carriers. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges assessed by the airlines. We are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.

6. Once we have received your reservation and confirmed all components of your package, your package price is guaranteed with two exceptions:
Government-imposed taxes & fees: Foreign governments may (with little or no warning) institute new or increased taxes or fees on services within their countries. This includes but is not limited to national park fees and locally-paid hotel taxes. Such changes are rare and usually small, but you may be liable for the additional fees, even if you have already paid in full. If such an increase occurs, we will notify you immediately via email.
Airfare: Airfare is subject to change due to increases in air surcharges and/or government-imposed taxes and fees such as foreign departure taxes and airport fees, until we receive your final payment. If such an increase occurs, your package price will increase accordingly, and we will notify you immediately via email. After tickets have been issued or we receive your final payment, airfare and surcharges are no longer subject to change.

7. Tour operated under the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) authorized People to People programs to Friendly Planet, License No. CT-2014-309385-1. The itineraries provide a full-time schedule of people-to-people educational exchange activities designed to result in meaningful interactions between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. United States law requires that all participants in the Cuba programs adhere to the full-time schedule of people-to-people activities.

8. All US citizens must have a passport and a visa to enter Cuba. If you hold a passport from another country or you were born in Cuba please contact us.

9. Due to the special requirements to visit Cuba, participants will be required to complete visa application and travel reservation forms and sign an affidavit confirming that they are traveling under a people-to-people license and are aware of the travel rules. Participants are also required to send a copy of their passport photo page. These items must be sent within 14 days of making a reservation. Please scan the photo and signature pages of valid passport and email them. If you are unable to scan your passports, please make clear, legible color photocopies instead and mail to our office address. If you do not presently have a valid passport, send a color copy of your most recent passport and let us know when your new one is expected, then send us a copy of the new passport upon receipt. Passports should contain at least 2 blank pages and be valid for at least 6 months after your return date. Passports expiring within six months may prevent entry and should be renewed as soon as possible. Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately, and any name changes after you complete your booking and any changes in passport information after you make your final payment may result in additional fees.

10. In Cuba, activities that have been scheduled far in advance can sometimes become unavailable for a number of different reasons. The purpose of the trip is to have meaningful interactions with the locals and if the planned people-to-people educational exchange isn’t available, rest assured that another that will be just as enriching will be substituted.

11. The program requires walking on cobblestone streets and uneven pathways, climbing stairs, and participating in a full-time schedule of people-to-people activities. The fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.

12. Infrastructure in Cuba, including even the best hotels, may not always be up to U.S. standards. The hotels really do try to maintain quality accommodations, and in the properties we select for our tours, they generally do a good job. However, Cuba's resources and climate do sometimes impact a hotel's ability to keep up with maintenance and indoor air quality. For example, in Cuba's tropical climate, you might notice musty odors in some buildings, including hotels. We do our best to select the highest quality hotels, restaurants and paladars that Cuba has to offer, but we appreciate your flexibility and understanding when you encounter a minor imperfection. Cuba has a long way to go before its hotels, highways, public restrooms and other features reach U.S. levels, but all in all, you will not suffer any major difficulties in tolerating the small issues that may occur. If you have any medical or dietary concerns, however, please inform us when you make your reservation, so we can take whatever special precautions are required to assure your comfort and well-being.

13. Traveler Age Restrictions: On this package, you must be 18 or older to make a booking. Your traveling companions must be 12 or older at the time of travel. Travelers under 18 years must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older.

14.
To make a reservation the deposit is $600 per person, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, PayPal, check or money order. Your final payment is due 75 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of your reservation, whichever is later. Final balance payment is due 90 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of your reservation if you book after this date. Late payments are subject to a $50 late fee and may result in cancellation of your reservation.

15.
Terms and conditions:
CHANGES: Prior to receipt of your final payment, we can generally make changes to your booking for a small per-person change fee, listed below. After we receive your final payment, we cannot make any changes to your booking except cancellation.
CANCELLATIONS: All cancellations must be made in writing and incur a per-person cancellation fee, listed below. Upon cancellation, you are liable for the fees noted below or any deposit(s) already paid, whichever amount is greater. (However, the total cancellation fees shall never exceed the total price of the package.) If you have already made payments in excess of your cancellation fee, we will refund you the difference.
CHANGE & CANCELLATION FEES (per person) for Discover Havana:
CHANGES
Prior to final payment $150
After final payment Not permitted
CANCELLATIONS
76+ days prior to departure $600
75 – 46 days prior to departure $1,000
45 – 30 days prior to departure $1,700
29 – 0 days prior to departure No refund
In addition to the fees listed above, changes and cancellations may also incur fees or penalties imposed by our vendors. This may include the cost of your airfare if we have already issued your tickets (read more about this below). Once issued, airline tickets become fully non-refundable, non-transferrable and unchangeable, and any requested changes that affect your flights (including change of passenger name, departure date, or return date) usually requires the purchase of new airfare, which will be added to your balance due. If you need to make a change or cancellation, please contact us and we will advise you of the total of such fees.
UNUSED SERVICES: Unused services cannot be refunded once the trip has begun. No refund can be made for absence by travelers from any part of the itinerary.

16.
Flights: Your roundtrip flight to Cuba is via a U.S. Government Licensed Charter service provider. The exact details of your flight will be provided to you shortly before your departure after we have received the details from the Charter carrier. Please note that the Charter company will not accept advanced seating requests, and seats will be assigned at the airport upon check-in. Because flight schedules are always subject to change without advance notice, even after they have been confirmed, and because Charter flight schedules change more frequently than scheduled air, we have included a pre-night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near the Miami International Airport in the cost of the package and highly suggest that you also purchase the optional post night stay in Miami the evening of your scheduled return from Cuba in order to avoid problems with domestic flight connections. Flight schedule changes are beyond our control and solely at the discretion of the airlines. By staying in Miami for a pre and post night, you will avoid the possibility of incurring costly change fees for your domestic flight. Also, please do not book domestic flights before you receive the final Charter flight schedules and final documents from us, unless you have a post night stay in Miami. Booking domestic flights without taking into account the aforementioned considerations is "at your own risk". Do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your tour package, until final payment is made and all is confirmed (normally 70 days prior). Regardless of how you have made your domestic flight arrangements to/from Miami, we recommend that you reconfirm your flight times 72 hours prior to departure for all flights.


potatoe plates

CUBA FAQ

PASSPORT & VISA

Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 3.11.19 PM
Each traveler must be in possession of a valid, signed passport that will remain valid for at least six months beyond completion of the entire trip. At this time visas ARE required for US citizens traveling to Cuba. We will obtain the visa required for you and provide to you. The cost of the visa is in the program price. Tape your visa inside your passport so you do not lose it. It is highly encouraged that you keep a photocopy of your passport or your driver’s license with you at all times. Upon arrival in Cuba, you should keep your passport and airline ticket in the hotel safe, along with all other valuables. You will only need to carry a copy of your passport on your person.

Previous to arriving in Miami you will be sent an application (with instructions) that is MANDATORY for ALL travelers to fill out. Once all travelers have filled out the application you will send them back to us with copies of your passports, to which we will forward to the Cuban ground operator to be processed. When you have sent back your completed visa application, your visa will be shipped to you.

Participants holding all other passports should check with the consulate for regulations and instructions.

Due to the special requirements to visit Cuba, after reserving you will be required to complete the following forms and return them within 7 days of making a reservation:
Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 3.12.26 PM

  • An affidavit confirming you are traveling under a people-to-people license and that you will participate in a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities
  • Travel Reservation Form
  • Visa Application Form
  • A color photocopy of the photo page of your valid passport

HEALTH REGULATIONS

No vaccinations are required for entry into Cuba or return to the USA. Before visiting Cuba, it is recommended that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines ( measles, mumps, tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine etc) You may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination: Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid and Rabies. Although there are pharmacies open 24 hours, they only give you the essential medicines, as most are scarce and the ones you can get will be expensive. Therefore it is desirable to take, in addition to the remedies prescribed by your doctor, a basic kit with analgesics, tablets for diarrhea, antacids, antihistamines, calamine lotion, sterile gauze, Band-Aids, insect repellent and sunscreen.

WEATHER

The Cuban climate is mild subtropical. Thanks to its proximity to the Tropic of Cancer and its narrow configuration, Cuba receives a refreshing action of trade winds and marine breezes. Average Fahrenheit temperatures are as follows:

Cuba Climate graph


PACKING

Please travel as lightly as possible so as not to restrict space in your cabin. Soft bags are more practical than hard suitcases. Sports or casual clothes are more useful. Swimwear for the pools. A pullover is recommended for cool evenings. Comfortable walking shoes are suggested.

Be sure not to pack sharp items in your hand luggage. Pack things such as scissors, nail clippers, pocketknives or knitting needles in your checked luggage.

Always carry your travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler's checks, keys and other valuables in your hand luggage. Items such as these should
NEVER be packed in luggage that you plan to check.

Bring all personal-care items with you. Many products can be bought, but purchasing them can be inconvenient. We suggest you carry toilet tissues with you on excursions.

CLOTHING
Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 3.10.26 PM


Dress is generally casual, however the “usual practice” for men is to wear long pants to meetings, exchanges and nicer restaurants. Ladies may want to bring a dress or pantsuit for dinners.

Special Note
: Monasteries and churches do not admit people in shorts or bathing suits, shirtless men, or even women wearing sleeveless blouses. For women rules may even be stricter, a skirt or dress is a must, as you may not be allowed to visit some of the monasteries and religious sites in shorts or pants. These rules are not always followed to the letter. Bathing suits are prohibited from being worn on all archaeological sites.

VALUABLES

Jewelry, money, documents etc., should be deposited in the hotel safes. The company and its personnel bear no responsibility for valuables kept by passengers.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

For safety reasons it is requested that physical disabilities of any kind be advised at time of reservation. It is understood that participants requiring special attention or treatment will be traveling with their personal escorts. No vaccinations are required for entry into Cuba or return to the USA. Before visiting Cuba, it is recommended that you are up to date on all your routine vaccines ( measles, mumps, tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine etc) You may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination: Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid and Rabies. Although there are pharmacies open 24 hours, they only give you the essential medicines, as most are scarce and the ones you can get will be expensive. Therefore it is desirable to take, in addition to the remedies prescribed by your doctor, a basic kit with analgesics, tablets for diarrhea, antacids, antihistamines, calamine lotion, sterile gauze, Band-Aids, insect repellent and sunscreen.

LAUNDRY

Most of the hotels can provide service at additional costs.


CURRENCY

The currency in Cuba is Cuban Pesos. However US Dollars are widely accepted and used. It is possible to convert dollars to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs) at the airport. There is a kiosk before leaving the baggage area where money can be converted. The tour leader will assist in this as well. If you do not convert then, there are many places to convert money - for example, hotels, and the local Cuban guide will assist in this. In Cuba, the official currency is the Cuban Peso which is also known as the “Moneda Nacional" (MN). The Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) is the currency that tourists must use. You can exchange your money to convertible pesos at airports, hotels, banks, and exchange offices (subject to daily fluctuations). To exchange U.S. dollars into the CUC there is a 10% surcharge, while exchanges from Canadian dollars, Euros, UK pounds and Swiss Francs will not incur a surcharge.

You will be paying for most everything in dollars. Cubans want American dollars, so don’t change excess money to Cuban pesos unless you want to take the money home as a souvenir.

With regard to the use of Credit or Debit cards in Cuba the following applies: No card issued by a bank that has any connection with the United States will be accepted in Cuba, although MasterCard now say said it will lift a block on U.S. bank-card transactions in Cuba after March 1st 2015. Travelers are advised to check with their institution before traveling to Cuba to determine whether their institution has established the necessary mechanisms for its credit or debit cards to be used in Cuba.

Under the
new (Jan 16, 2015) regulations, American travelers to Cuba will be able to use an American credit card. However, it is not clear how long it will take for banks to begin offering the service. There are few ATMs in Cuba, and many establishments do not have the means to process credit card payments, so cash will be king for some time to come. You may also take pounds and euros, which get a better exchange rate in Cuba than the United States dollar.

You should plan to bring as much cash as you would normally spend on incidentals while traveling elsewhere.

LANGUAGE
Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 3.12.00 PM


Your local guides speak English! The primary language in Cuba is Spanish and your tour guide is fluent in both Spanish and English.

FOOD & DRINK

Most beverages, like bottled water or soft drinks, cost $1 although may be more in nice hotels. Alcoholic beverages are priced higher. Meal prices can vary from $5 for a ham and cheese sandwich with a drink to $35 for salad, bread, lobster, vegetables, rice, drink, and dinner at a finer restaurant. While chicken and black beans and rice are Cuban staples, you can also find comfort foods such as pizza, hamburgers, or a Snickers bar. Seafood is wonderful in Cuba and it is worthwhile splurging on lobster or shrimp. There are also many yummy ice cream and pastry shops, most of which also serve delicious coffee. Vegetarian food can be difficult to obtain. Rice and beans are readily available, but most are cooked in lard or animal fat. Most restaurants have salads (many times using cabbage in place of lettuce), but when eating uncooked and unpeeled vegetables washed in tap water you do run the risk of getting sick. Some restaurants will make a “vegetarian plate” if asked. Vegetarians who are not strict or eat fish should not have too much trouble finding something to eat. Strict vegetarians or vegans may be upset at the choices or lack thereof. It is advisable to bring food like peanut butter or other staples to supplement your diet. Eat moderate amounts of candy, ice cream, and sweets, because these products are made with larger quantities of pure cane sugar than Americans are accustomed to in their foods, which can cause stomach problems. There is little pepper or Tabasco sauce in Cuba. If you enjoy using these items, you might want to bring your own. The food is generally salty, not spicy. As in many places, you should only consume sealed, boiled, or peeled foods to avoid stomach problems when on your own. You may bring in granola bars, snacks, etc., for the plane and the trip. Fruits, seeds, and vegetables are not permissible.

ELECTRICITY

The power supply in most all of Cuba is 110 volts, the same as in the USA. Bring a flashlight with you. There frequently are random losses of power in Cuba.

COMPUTERS & WIFI

There is limited WIFI.

TIME ZONE

Cuba is on Eastern Standard Time. When it is noon in New York and Miami, it is also noon in Havana, Cuba.

OTHER QUESTIONS
cuba excursiones


1. Given the spending restrictions, how much money do you recommend bringing?
We suggest about $100 a day just in case, but of course, everyone is different. If you plan to purchase a lot of art, for example, the amount will be different. If not, you will mostly likely not spend that amount as many of the meals in the program are included. There are no longer daily spending limits while in Cuba for American travelers. Travelers are authorized to bring back $400 per person in merchandise, provided no more than $100 of the merchandise consists of alcohol or tobacco.

2. I have heard that "licensed U.S. travelers" are allowed to bring back from Cuba $400 of merchandise of which $100 can be tobacco/alcohol. Does this apply to us?
Under the new (Jan 16, 2015) regulations, American travelers to Cuba may now bring back up to $400 worth of souvenirs, including $100 worth of cigars.

3. Is the 44 lbs baggage limit for checked & carry-on combined or just checked?
Combined. Excess weight (above 44 pounds) is charged at $2 per pound and is payable in cash at the airport. Any additional checked bags are $20 per bag plus any excess weight fees. Carry-on bags should not exceed the dimensions of 12"x11"x6".

4. Is it like the USA?
Things are and do sometimes work differently in Cuba than here in the USA. Activities that have been scheduled far in advance can sometimes become unavailable for a number of different reasons. The purpose of the trip is to have meaningful interactions with the locals and if the planned people-to-people educational exchange isn’t available, rest assured that another that will be just as enriching will be substituted.

5. Are tips & service charges customary?
Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 3.11.01 PM

Yes, like with any service industry. In general one or more USD or CUC is fine for waitresses, barmen, maids, etc. with maybe five or more USD or CUC for a tour guide per day. You are not expected to tip after each drink, after every meal, or even every day for the maid - but all will appreciate tips. Please, do not hand out money, pencils, or other items to Cubans while we are traveling in a large group. In moments, you will have attracted a large crowd of Cubans who may hassle the rest of the group. If you want to bring items to hand out, please do so when exploring on your own.

6. What about trip insurance?
As required by Cuban government regulations, Cuban health insurance is included in the charter airline ticket cost. This protects you should you need medical assistance while in Cuba. The following coverage applies: $25,000 to cover emergency medical costs incurred in Cuba and a maximum of $7,000 evacuation insurance provided only if a Cuban doctor states that evacuation must happen in order to receive adequate treatment.
You should consider buying additional trip insurance for trip cancellation protection, lost luggage, etc. Contact us for details and quotes.

7. How are you able to offer trips to Cuba legally?
Friendly Planet Travel has been issued a license (#CT-2014-309385-1) by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) authorizing us to organize and operate People to People programs to Cuba. In order to comply with OFAC rules for visiting Cuba, travelers should keep a travel journal as a record of the trip. This journal will serve as proof that you have traveled to Cuba for educational purposes and should be kept for a period of five years as proof of the educational nature of your trip.

8. What is recommended to read before the trip?
Cuba: Travel Survival Kit, by David Stanley and Cuba: Handbook, by Christopher Baker

p-32.php

p-31.php

p-30.php

p-29.php

p-28.php

p-27.php

p-26.php

p-25.php

p-24.php

p-23.php

p-22.php

p-21.php

p-20.php

p-19.php

p-18.php

p-17.php

p-15.php

p-14.php

p-13.php

p-12.php

p-11.php

p-10.php

p-9.php



p-7.php

p-6.php

p-5.php

p-4.php

p-3.php

p.php

p-2.php
potatoe plates

You are welcome to call us anytime at 1-239-992-9660, or toll free at 800-446-9660 or email us at travel"at"GoExploring.com.
Return to the top of this webpage :)

Cuba people-to-people cultural exchange