Cuba is a small island country paradise located on the Atlantic Ocean that has served as a place of revolutionary socialism since long. Back in the period of 1930s to 1950s, the country generated a lot of interest from tourists, travelers as well as globetrotters due to its beautiful sceneries and astounding culture. However, after the onset of the Cuban revolution and the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro becoming the President of Cuba, relations with the United States started to deteriorate. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea along with a huge incorporation of Spanish and Latin-American Culture, this country is undoubtedly one of the best tourist locations for any traveling enthusiast. Its rich fauna and flora along with the vintage essence of its cities, Cuba is a must-see for anyone who plans to experience authentic Latin American culture and the vintage vibe of the 50s.
However, we Americans are at a disadvantage when visiting Cuba catches our interest. Due to the regressive capitalist minds of certain American leaders, the Cuba-US relationship has deteriorated much. So much so that America has issued a travel ban to all Americans who wish to visit or tour Cuba. The Cubans are friendly folks who welcome their guests warmly and Americans are no different. However, due to the influence of baseless US laws that discourage and warn their citizens to be careful while traveling to Cuba and its various areas, a number of misconceptions and pointless fear has engulfed potential tourists. With the help of this article, we strive to clarify your essential doubt that whether it is safe for Americans to travel to Cuba or not.
The Latest Update on the US law Travel ban for traveling to Cuba.
Cuba –US Legacy of Ex- President Barack Obama
In the historic year 2016, President Barrack Obama took a gravity-defying step by becoming the first US president to visit Cuba. Under the Obama administration and in agreement with the Cuban president, Raul de Castro, the travel ban restrictions were loosened up to a certain extent. Americans could travel to Cuba for educational and academic purposes only while private vacations remained prohibited. The educational trips are required to be genuinely monitored as well as restricted to nature and some levels of historical trips around the island. Therefore, regardless of the media coverage of this historic occurrence, the Obama administration failed to implement any substantial change to the situation.
Cuba – US Open Policy of Current President Donald Trump
Amidst low expectation levels for a substantial change after his incongruous foreign policies, President Donald Trump became the one who tuned and loosened some of the unreasonable travel restrictions implemented on Americans traveling to Cuba. Both him and his Cuban counterpart, President Raul de Castro, agreed that Americans can freely visit the country for educational tours, private sabbaticals and business trips as long as they avoid establishing contacts or supporting hotels, restaurants and any other business and commercial establishment that has a direct or indirect connection with the Cuban Military. I believe that it is a fair and transparent agreement as long as it helps in boosting the country’s tourism industry.
However, President Trump has repeatedly emphasized the necessity of American travelers in staying away from restricted and unauthorized places in Cuba. You can easily find the places restricted for tourists in Cuba by researching on the internet while most places are entirely safe to visit.
A country with rich Spanish and Latin American culture courtesy to its discoverer, Christopher Columbus, it is a country with exotic land, beautiful beaches, shoreline, mountains and numerous UNESCO certified reserved sites although only a few of them are open for public visits. Cuban cities like Chrysler DeSotos and Ford Fairlane’s are classic cities with vintage vibe throughout the city streets and walls. You can still find old stone streets and brick walls in these cities transporting you back to a time when things were ancient and rustic yet amazingly beautiful.
A Friendly Yet Important Reminder for tourists traveling to Cuba:
On the grounds of certain political disagreements between the two countries and vigilante uprisings by certain Cuban nationals, American tourists are highly suggested to go through the below-mentioned points thoroughly in order to ensure maximum safety while visiting Cuba.
- Only visit Cuba for specific purposes like fun, educational, trips, government-funded business trips, and private holidays.
- Do your research and find out about the establishments and commercial outlets in Cuba that has a direct or indirect link with the Cuban military. Refrain from any kind of promoting or patronizing of their products or services.
- There are certain monetary restrictions for tourists visiting Cuba so consider that as well. We will be discussing this issue in further details below.
- Always keep the local laws and community guidelines in mind while traveling through Cuba for a safe and hassle-free experience.
- Keep in mind that most Cubans are unable to speak English and basic Spanish language will help you get through the day. However, most Cubans are approachable and thus, help is available in abundance.
Requirements for Traveling to Cuba
The good thing about traveling to Cuba is that US citizens don’t have to produce any kind of travel licenses while visiting the country. However, the purpose of the visit should be strictly indicated in order to ensure that it is not related to causing any kind of harm to the host country.
Americans can visit Cuba only for educational tours, family visits, legal and authority-approved business trips, government-to-government activities, religious activities, journalism, academic and educational trips, invitations, sports etc. In short, your activity or purpose should not have anything to do with extremist activities that may somehow affect the safety and security of the country.
In addition, you need to prepare and produce detailed itineraries of all of your activities in Cuba such as the hotels where you plan to stay, the restaurants that you plan to try and even the parks and beach resorts where you may plan to spend an afternoon or two. Therefore, it is of utmost necessity that you prepare a proper itinerary before you embark on your journey to Cuba.
Permitted Currency and the Modes of Payment in Cuba
Payment and Purchase Options:
- Cuban Currencies
- Cuban Peso (CUP) is the Local Currency used in the country. This is strictly for usage by the Cuban nationals only.
- Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC): This currency is for tourists visiting the country. For Americans, the conversion goes as 1 CUC $= 1 $
- The following are prohibited to be brought out of Cuba
- Debit Cards
- Any foreign Currencies (Euro, Pounds, Canadian Dollars and US Dollars – cash above USD 5,000 must be declared)
- A 10% fee will be charged on every currency exchange to local Cuban monetary, which is also available on airports, hotels and money exchange services shops)
Accommodations in Cuba
Homes and Guesthouses
There are primarily two types of accommodation for you to stay in Cuba. The Casas are home-stays that Cubans rent out in order to earn some extra money. Along with complimentary breakfast options, they are great places to stay if you want your accommodation to be local and cheap. If staying with the locals isn’t your thing then there are a host of hotels in the major cities to accommodate you in full comfort. And your favorite accommodation partner, Airbnb is present on the island as well!
Transportation Options for travelling to Cuba
By Air Plane
The cost of flight tickets is normally cheap for a round trip between USA and Cuba. The reason behind such pricing structure is the recent lifting of travel ban between the US and Cuba. Most American Airlines like American, JetBlue, and Delta among others have regular and routinely trips to Cuba. You can book your tickets directly from the airline’s website or visit Kayak.com for even better convenience.
If adventure is your thing, then traveling to Cuba on a luxurious cruise ship is one of the fanciest and most adventurous things that you can do!
Carnival provides both cruise ships and ferries to numerous islands, countries and others across the Americas and Europe. After Trump loosened the travel restrictions, it has initiated its services from the US to Cuba recently.
This entity is a European-based shipping and cruising company and provides sea travel options regularly.
One of the biggest cruise ship companies in the World, Cruises only provide frequent ships to Cuba as well as rest of the world.
Tours and Travel Companies that You’ll find in Cuba
You can hire the services of authentic Cuban tours and travel companies like Globus, Cuba Explorer and Insight Cuba for easier sightseeing and travel around the island. Hopefully, we were successful in providing you with the necessary information that is required for you to embark on an informed journey to the island paradise of Cuba and experience first-hand of living in a Socialist country.