Here's are some frequently asked questions regarding our Cuba Experience Tour. Please visit this FAQ page for general tour questions.
How do I get there?
Our Cuba tour suggests that all travelers fly to the Miami International Airport (MIA) first as our tour officially departs from there on Day 1 at approximately Noon. All travelers will be given the flight name and number they may purchase from Miami to Havana so all participants can arrive in Miami together. Some travelers may wish to spend the previous night in Miami to make things easier. The average round-trip ticket prices from Denver (DIA) to Miami (MIA) $200, from Dallas (DFW) $250, from Los Angeles (LAX) $238 and $150 from New York City (NYC). From Miami to Havana, the average ticket price is $150. Autentika Food Travel does not book airfare, but if you prefer help, we are happy to refer you to our preferred travel agent. *PLEASE DO NOT book your flight before obtaining Miami to Havana group flight information from our authorized USA Treasury Dept. travel partner Cultural Contrast, LLC, which will be sent 60 days prior to trip departure. At that point, all flights can be purchased directly by travelers in whatever manner they wish. Tours can be cancelled due to a variety of reasons including lack of participation. We highly recommend travelers purchase trip insurance to offset any undue circumstances that could lead to trip cancellation.
For those clients who wish to travel solo to Havana, as direct flights are available now from many major cities, you may do so. Please note, the tour will not begin until 2 p.m. of day one at our lodgings. You will be provided with our address in Havana and may take a taxi and meet us there. If your arrival is prior to 2 p.m. you may drop off your bags prior to check in and explore our beautiful neighborhood before meeting up with the group at 2 p.m.
Check-in begins at 9:40 at Miami International Airport (MIA) on Day one of the tour. Our flight typically departs Miami at 12:20 and arrives in Havana at 1:20.. An airport transfer (to and from) our Casa Particular is included in your tour.
All travelers will depart Havana together with provided airport transfer, as we will all be returning on the same flight to Miami.
Good Details to Know
- Cuba is a tropical island about 90 miles south of Key West (about 250 miles south of Miami) and as such, it is at sea level, humid and sunny. We recommend you pack lightly, bring your swimsuit, sunscreen and a hat. During the day you'll want comfortable walking shoes. At night you may wish to dress in casual nice clothing if you plan to head out to see some music or an event. Nothing in Cuba requires formal dress.
- The weather experience in November will be low temperatures in the mid 60's and high temperatures in the mid-80's. Rainy season is just ending but there may be an occasional day of intermittent showers.
- This tour is comprised of easy walks in town, albeit at times, on dirt paths while at farms and plantations . The Plazas have cobblestoned streets, and often times these are not maintained and are uneven and crumbling. Appropriate footwear for walking on uneven surfaces and for being on and off your feet for up to 4 hours is required. If you are unable to walk at least 1 mile and spend at least 1 hour on your feet without sitting, this tour may not be for you.
- This trip takes place on Eastern Time Zone (EST) which is 3 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST) and 2 hours ahead of Mountain Time Zone (MST).
Important Travel Information
Visas, Passports and Who Can Travel
As we are partnering with an legally authorized US Treasury Cuban travel provider, virtually anyone can travel to Cuba on this tour. All travelers MUST have a valid passport to enter Cuba and a Visa, which you will purchase at the Miami airport before departure to Havana. A birth certificate is not acceptable. A passport typically takes 6 weeks to obtain, 3 weeks if expedited and 8 days if expedited at an agency (all for additional fees). For anyone traveling, your passport must not expire for at least 6-months after the date of our return. If your passport is expired, or will expire in less than 6 months from the date of your return from Cuba, call our partner, Cultural Contrast, LLC's office at 1-888-978-5215. They offer a concierge expedited passport renewal service where we can have your renewed passport back in your hands in only 2 or 3 business days for a fee. Please review the U.S. Department of State's International Travel site for details about passports.
If you were born in Cuba there are extra documents and different travel visas are required. Depending on our airline, they may help you with this purchase. If not, our partner will help you obtain your Cuban tourist card/visa. The fees for this card range from $85 - $100. The Cuban government will stamp every passport entering Cuba (in the past this was optional). You are traveling on a licensed trip, so having a Cuban stamp in your passport is not a problem.
Cell Phones/Electronics and Internet Services
Currently, the only US cell company with service in Cuba is Verizon and the rates are high. No other US phones will work in Cuba. However, you can purchase an inexpensive SIM card that will work if you have an unlocked phone, and you can also purchase an inexpensive unlocked global phone. Remember that you can always call home directly from your hotel room with no issues, and likewise people at home can call your hotel. Calls to/from the USA are approx. $2-3/min. Electricity in hotels can be 110v or 220v, and you often find both in the same room. Most electronic device chargers (all iPhone, iPad, laptops, etc.) will actually accept either 110v or 220v, you may just need an adapter. Hotel rooms all have hair dryers. You can bring your cell phone, iPad, laptop, and camera to Cuba (no more than one of each). You may not bring GPS navigation devices, or satellite phones of any type. Finally, WiFi access is available for purchase in most hotels. Rates can vary but are between $10-$20/day. WiFi access in Cuba is slow and they do not allow services such as Skype, FaceTime, or other video or audio calling
While changes have been proposed, at this time you cannot use any USA based credit or debit cards in Cuba. The only currency you should bring is US cash. We recommend bringing new style $100 bills. How much to bring is subjective and depends how much you shop or spend on yourself. We recommend you plan at least $200/day in spending money for each person traveling. Most people don't spend that much in Cuba, but remember - what you bring is all that you will have. You cannot use the ATM or get more money once you arrive in Cuba. When you arrive, you'll change your US dollars into Convertible Pesos, which are abbreviated as "CUC's" and often called "kooks.' Under the current exchange rate for every US$100 you exchange, you'll get about $87 in CUC (there is a 13% discount when you exchange your US Dollars). When you leave Cuba, you can exchange unused CUC's back to US Dollars at your hotel or even at the airport, and the exchange rate is 1:1. Don't bring CUC's back to the USA (unless as a souvenir), as they are not exchangeable outside of Cuba.
Airline Travel & Luggage
If you choose to fly on our chartered flight from Miami to Cuba, we will fly on a US based airline, not available to the public. The only people on the flight will be licensed travelers to Cuba. You will be given the flight number and time 60 days before the tour so you may book this flight directly, along with any other flights necessary to get you to Miami. The typical airlines are American Airlines or JetBlue, but the airline can vary. Airlines can change their schedules which can impact trip itineraries occasionally. When you check in, a $20 per-bag fee for checked bags normally applies. You can bring a maximum of 2 checked bags and one carry-on bag. Your total baggage including checked and carry-on will be weighed. There is no weight charge for total baggage weight up to 44 pounds. If your bags weigh over 44 pounds it is typical to pay $2/pound, payable in cash at the check-in counter. The airlines can change these policies from time to time. It is rare to have luggage lost when traveling to Cuba, but we still recommend that you pack any essentials (passport, medications, money, and a change of clothes) in your carry-on bag. Travel to Cuba is the same as any international flight. We check in, check our bags, go through security and then board the flight. Returning to the USA is the same as returning from any international flight. You first go to immigration, then retrieve your bags, then through customs. If you have a connecting flight to make after your return to the USA, we recommend you allow at least 2- to 3-hours between our scheduled arrival and your connection departure. Wait-times at US Customs can vary, and we cannot be responsible for missed connections.
If you choose to go directly to Cuba, please be aware of the travel requirements and luggage restrictions the airline may have.
What Can I Bring Back?
Current regulations allow you to bring back literature, art, music, and souvenirs of the like. With recent changes, regulations now allow you to bring back and unlimited amount of Cuban cigars, Cuban rum and Cuban coffee, per person as long as it is for "personal use". You can bring back up to $400 per person worth of any other items such as artwork, which is prolific in Cuba, which is duty free and has no restrictions. Art can vary from inexpensive street art to high-end gallery pieces that can be sold at auction upon return. If you are a serious art buyer/collector, we can arranging viewings at private galleries in Cuba, please inquire.
This tour requires no specific fitness level other than being able to handle walking on varied surfaces throughout the day and being able to be on and off your feet for multiple hours at a time.
Health Concerns and Medical Emergencies
Travel to Cuba is not like traveling to other first-world destinations. While conditions can vary, things are generally very clean and well kept. However, we recommend that each traveler drink and use only bottled water (the water in Cuba is not unsafe, it is only that your digestive system is not accustomed to Cuban water). Water, ice and food at restaurants included in our itinerary are all monitored and safe. Ask your guide for recommendations if you are unsure about where to eat or drink when on your own. Regarding vaccinations, please direct any specific questions you may have with your doctor, but the CDC does not currently recommend or require any special vaccinations for travel to Cuba.
This tour price includes required health insurance coverage for any accident or illness that may develop in Cuba through our partner Cultural Contrast, llc. There are Western style clinics and hospitals open 24/7 in Cuba, if needed. The Cuban health insurance is only for accidents or illnesses that develop in Cuba (sickness, accidents, etc.), but it does not provide for treatment for any pre-existing conditions. If you have a complication from a preexisting condition while in Cuba, you may be required to pay for treatment in Cuba and seek reimbursement from your health insurance upon your return. Please check with your health insurance to confirm your coverage while in Cuba.
Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world to visit. Unlike many Central- or South American countries, there is little or no crime against tourists in Cuba. Most hotels have a safe in the room which can be activated for a small daily fee. We recommend you leave your valuables and passport in your hotel room or safe, and only travel with the daily cash you need. Beyond that, just relax and enjoy your trip.
In Case of Emergency
Every participant will be provided with a phone number to leave with relatives at home. This number will reach your group leader while you are in Cuba. Also, the US Government has an Embassy in Havana where any US citizen can request assistance.
What is not included in the tour?
Round Trip Airfare, Cuban Tourist Visa, approximately $85-100, Trip/travel insurance, Miami lodging should you wish to arrive the evening before tour departure, baggage fees, some tips and gratuities, any additional activities not stated in the final itinerary, any items or experiences of a personal nature such as souvenirs, spa treatments and personal expenses.
What's your cancellation policy?
We partner with an authorized US Treasury approved Cuban travel provider for this tour, Cultural Contrast, LLC. With over 25 years of taking travelers to Cuba we are in safe hands. Autentika Food Travel's standard trip cancellation policies do not apply for this tour. As such, all travelers on this tour are subject to Cultural Contrast's cancellation policy which is thus: Per the terms and conditions of your trip, your payments are not refundable regardless of the reason for your need to cancel. For that reason, we strongly encourage each participant to purchase travel insurance. Please call our office at 1-888-978-5215, and we can provide you with the necessary information to purchase an inexpensive trip cancellation insurance policy. We strongly recommend travelers purchase trip insurance.
About Group Travel
Group travel isn't for everyone but we find it to be one of the most enjoyable ways to explore a new place. Small group travel is different from larger group travel, allowing for more agility and even flexibility where necessary. You'll meet amazing, like-minded people on our tours, who love to explore and experience new things as much as you do. We allow for ample "non-group time" where you can be independent and have time to yourselves if you wish. This tour also requires a relaxed attitude, as not everything always goes to plan in a country like Mexico. We may need to be flexible due to circumstances out of our control, but you will always be taken care of and always be presented with the best options we have available to us.
We also ask that while we have a responsibility to make your experience our top priority, we ask that you too, be responsible for your own actions, by arriving on time to designated locations and not keep your other traveler friends waiting.