Cruising to Cuba

There are requirements for authorized travel to Cuba


Thank you for following these posts of our Cuba travel.  You’ve not only been reading our blog, but also the journal which is a required component of Cuba travel and must be kept for 5 years.

All travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  Anyone, regardless of nationality, departing the U.S. for Cuba must comply.

We fell under the general license of a “self-guided people to people” program.  We attended a morning lecture sponsored by the cruise line and we were required to engage, full-time, in activities resulting in meaningful interaction with the Cuban people.  We had three goals for this trip:  view the historic architecture of Old Viejo and contrast the renovations of that area with the neglected buildings of Havana Centro; follow the history of both the rum and cigar industries; and experience the highlights of Ernest Hemingway’s time in Cuba where he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.  Because of the heavy rain on our only day in Cuba, we did not visit Cojimar or Finca Vigia (Hemingway’s home.)  We did, however, visit the home of a Cuban family in the Havana Centro district as well as the Rum Museum in Old Viejo.  We also had the opportunity to converse, in length, with our driver, Fabio, as we sat out the downpour on the covered terrace of the Hotel Nacional.  All the Cuban people we had the opportunity to interact with were warm, engaging and friendly.

The Cuban government required a visa and proof of non-U.S. medical insurance.  Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (for a $75.00 fee per person) arranged for both.

Interestingly, Cuba has two forms of currency:  one for tourists and one for the locals.  Not surprisingly, the tourist currency is a pricey 1 to 1 exchange rate with a 3% transaction fee (plus an additional 10% for U.S. dollars) and only available in-country!  Credit cards are not accepted in Cuba.  Cash only!

Upon our return, we were allowed to bring into the U.S., cigars and rum for personal consumption.  They had to be in our hand luggage and normal duty applied (up to 50 cigars and 2.5L alcohol duty free).

This was a very interesting trip.  We intend to return, sometime soon, to see more.  We will, quite definitely, do so by cruise ship.