Visiting Cuba is different from visiting other Caribbean islands. You will find the Cuban people very friendly, open and welcoming, however the island nation does have some governmental regulations resulting from Cuba’s complicated diplomatic relationship with other countries. In this document we outline some frequently asked questions about travel to Cuba that you will want to keep in mind.
Important Documentation For Booked Guests:
|Preparing for your upcoming cruise; a reminder and reference list of what to bring:
Cuba Checklist (PDF)
|All you need to know about travel to Cuba:
Cuba General Guest FAQs (PDF)
|Every Seabourn guest must complete a travel affidavit prior to embarkation:|
|Guest Affidavit for travel to Cuba - English (PDF)||Guest Affidavit for travel to Cuba - German (PDF)|
EXPLORING CUBA WITH SEABOURN
Eligibility For Visiting Cuba
Visitors from most countries can visit Cuba, including those from the United States (including Cuban-born U.S. residents) during travel which meets one of two standards for eligibility:
- Eligible Travel for Approved Purposes:
- Visiting family in Cuba
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Approved journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities, including People-to-People exchange programs*
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Approved activities of private foundations, research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
- Certain authorized export transactions
- Licensed Travel authorized by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”)
You can apply for a license, but we definitely recommend #5 from the list above.
*Seabourn’s planned optional shore excursions in Cuban ports are designed to comply with the requirements for these educational and People-to-People exchange programs.
To find out more about government requirements for these 12 categories, click here.
A passport valid for not less than six months after your Cuba cruise is required for all Cuba cruises. Birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passport cards are NOT accepted.
The Cuban government requires a visa for all visitors. The type of visa required depends on factors including your reason for traveling to Cuba. For Seabourn guests using the optional shore excursions mentioned above, a simple targeta turistica is suitable, and Seabourn will obtain that for you on board for a $75 usd charge added to your shipboard account.
Cuban-born persons or those traveling for reasons other than Seabourn’s educational/People-to-People exchange:
Cuban-born guests must acquire a visa from a Cuban Embassy or use a Cuban passport to enter the country. Seabourn is not able to assist with this process. Cuban visa applications can take several months. You can request visas and passports directly from the Cuban Embassy (phone: 1-202-797-8518), or an authorized company like ABC Charters (1-877-817-1160) or VisaCentral (1-877-535-0688).
HOW TO EXPLORE CUBA
Seabourn’s Optional People-To-People Shore Excursions In Cuban Ports Of Call
Seabourn has created optional shore excursions carefully designed to comply with the government-mandated educational or people-to-people exchange categories for visiting Cuba, including “a full-time schedule of activities that will create educational interactions between guests and the Cuban people.” Each day and evening, after your scheduled people-to-people activities are finished, you are free to explore further on your own or on other excursions.
Purchasing in Cuba - restricted businesses
US visitors to Cuba are prohibited from engaging in direct financial transactions with certain entities in Cuba. Otherwise, guests are generally authorized to bring merchandise acquired in Cuba into the United States, for personal use and/or consumption (not for resale), as accompanied baggage. This includes rum and Cuban cigars, which are otherwise prohibited to import. The value of goods returned from Cuba for personal use is unlimited, subject to the U.S. customs value limits on duty and tax exemptions for imported merchandise.
Medical Care in Cuba
Cuba’s healthcare system is widely recognized for providing quality care. The Cuban government requires visitors to pay a small health insurance premium in case medical services are needed in Cuba. This amount is included in the taxes, fees, and port expenses added to your fare. No special vaccinations are required for visiting Cuba.
Wheelchair Use in Cuba
Wheelchair Accessibility in Cuba is somewhat limited due to lack of suitable infrastructure, which is not as common as in many other countries. While accessible facilities do exist, visitors using wheelchairs may be limited to the ground floor of buildings, since many lack elevators.
Cuba is a Cash Economy for Visitors
Cuba has two currencies: CUP (Cuban Peso) and CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso). CUP is used by locals, while visitors will generally use CUC. Guests can exchange other currencies for CUC at the cruise terminal, in hotels, banks and exchange offices (known as “CADECAs”). To make the most of your Cuba visit, we recommend starting each day with enough local currency to last.
The U.S. government allows travelers to use credit and debit cards in Cuba, though few U.S. banks have yet completed the necessary arrangements, so cards still may not work. (In fact, most businesses in Cuba still are cash-only.) Check with your card provider whether your card will work in Cuba, but we recommend that you not rely on using a credit card in Cuba.
Internet, Mobile Phone and Wi-Fi in Cuba
It’s difficult to say whether your cell phone will work off the ship. It’s best to check with your mobile phone provider about their coverage in Cuba. Wi-Fi internet service is available aboard the ship, but internet access is generally not available ashore in Cuba.
Safety in Cuba
Use the same sensible precautions you would in any other travel destination:
- Leave your valuables on board the ship in your locked stateroom safe.
- Avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry.
- Carry only as much cash as you think you’ll need for the day.
- Be discreet when handling cash in public.
- Keep your belongings secure and out of sight.
Remember these Cuba travel tips:
- Drink only bottled beverages.
- The climate is tropical. Wear loose-fitting airy clothes, comfortable shoes and a hat.
- Air conditioning is uncommon in Cuba; bring your own fan and/or misting device.
- Purchase items only from authorized sellers.
- Exchange money only at the cruise terminal, in hotels, banks and exchange offices (known as “CADECAs”).