What time zone is Cuba in? Cuba is in the Eastern Standard Time zone (EST).
What is the weather like? In general, it is sunny, hot, and humid with occasional rain. Havana is a coastal city so the weather there is more varied than other parts of Cuba. The average temperature range is 60 to 80 degrees in the winter and from 70 to 90 degrees in the summer. The rainy season is from May to October, and the dry season is from November to April. Registered Tesca Travelers will receive a recommended packing list.
Is it legal for Americans to travel to Cuba? YES, as long as that travel adheres to the licensed guidelines established by the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Permitted travel includes journalistic activity, humanitarian projects, family visits, etc. Tesca Travel operates ‘people-to-people’ programs, a subcategory of authorized educational travel. All Tesca Travel programs are 100% legal and in full compliance with all OFAC rules and regulations.
What documents will I need to travel to Cuba? You will need your passport and a tourist visa. You will provide the passport, Tesca Travel will obtain your tourist visa. IMPORTANT: Your passport must have an expiration date no less than six months beyond your travel dates.
How do I secure a tourist visa to enter Cuba? Securing a visa will be arranged by Tesca Travel. You will receive the actual visa via Delta Airlines personnel prior to boarding our connecting flight in Miami.
Will my passport be stamped? Yes (think of it as a souvenir!). Remember you are travelling completely legally, so there will be no issues upon reentry into the United States.
What should I expect when I check in at the airport? Departure from an American airport to Cuba is similar to travel to other international destinations.
How many bags should I check in? Check in ONE bag. Our flight provider Delta Airlines charges $30 for first bag of checked luggage. Travelers who are members of Delta’s Skymiles program may receive the first checked bag at no cost depending on Skymiles status.
Do I need to get vaccinated to travel to Cuba? According to the Center for Disease Control (LINK to page) regarding travel to Cuba you should be up to date on routine vaccines such as: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. Recommended is additional vaccine for Hepatis A for all travelers. Also Typhoid for those travelers (not us) spending extensive time in the countryside are advisable (LINK to article). Due to recorded cases of the Zika virus, women who are pregnant should not travel to Cuba. All travelers should exclusively drink bottled water in Cuba.
Will my health insurance work in Cuba? All travelers are covered by the Cuban medical system as part of a $25 fee included in price of an airline ticket. If there is an event that requires medical attention you would be taken to an excellent hospital that exclusively serves foreigners in Cuba. However, Cuban insurance does not extend to emergency medical evacuation back to the United States. You can purchase such coverage through Allianz Insurance.
Can I bring home rum, cigars, and coffee? Yes, it is legal to bring into the United States consumable goods home from Cuba. To avoid duty charges the goods should be for ‘personal consumption’ or gifts. You should be able to bring back rum and approximately 100 cigars (4 boxes, 25 per box) without paying the same duty charges applied to goods from other countries. Complete information is available from US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Does the Cuban government impose restrictions on Americans in Cuba? No. Moreover Cubans generally are very interested in talking with curious Americans, so chat it up.
Is the embargo over? Established in 1960 the United States economic embargo remains in effect. As a result Cuba cannot access credit markets and conduct normal commerce with its geographically natural trading partner the United States. However through policy changes initiated by President Obama in 2014 the United States now has diplomatic relations with Cuba. The U.S. Embassy in Havana has reopened, U.S. airlines offer regular flights to the island, and U.S. cell phone carriers now provide some service.
What if I don’t speak Spanish? If you don’t speak Spanish you will be fine. There will be bilingual guides and translators with you at all times. Additionally many people in Cuba speak some English. If you do speak Spanish – even the slightest amount – using it will be fun and enriching. Prior to your trip consider brushing up your skills with apps and programs such as duolingo.
Can I contact home while I’m in Cuba? Yes, you will be able to call or receive calls from home while in Cuba.
Will I have access to the Internet? Yes, but it will not be free, frequent, or convenient. To access the internet in Cuba, you must go to a particular hotel or wifi zone. Using data roaming on your smartphone to get online is also possible but extremely expensive. Anticipate using the internet only once or twice during your trip.
Is crime an issue? Cuba is a very safe country. Exercise normal caution such as casually leaving phones and cameras on cafe tables, openly carrying a lot of cash, etc.
How much walking will I be doing? Prepare to spend time on your feet walking, standing, or… dancing! Of course, there will also often be the opportunity to sit down, relax in the shade, and enjoy a cold beverage (mojito anyone?).
What will my meal-situation be like? A filling breakfast will be provided at our casa. For lunch and dinner will be eating a range of establishments that are a part of Cuba’s burgeoning food scene which has only emerged in the last few years with the privatization of restaurants. Some dietary restrictions may be difficult accommodate while in Cuba. Contact Tesca Travel to clarify what is possible and to ensure your needs can be met.