With all this rain and gloomy days around most of the states these past few weeks, it's a great time to think about warmth and blue skies. What better way than to learn about the new hottest trend... Cuba!
In 2016 the first cruise to Cuba was planned to set sail via Fathom Cruise Line. After a dispute as to whether or not a Cuban born person that became an American citizen could travel to Cuba, the Cuban government ultimately agreed to allow travel via a cruise ship to their country. Then, in May 2016 the inaugural cruise voyage to Cuba on Fathom set sail.
Finally, in December 2016, several other cruise ship companies — Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Azamara Club Cruises, Oceana Cruises, Regent Seven Cruises, and Pearl Sea Cruises—announced that they too would be offering cruises to Cuba from the United States in 2017.* This has made cruising to Cuba the hottest travel trend for 2017. If you too are considering a cruise to Cuba this year, below is what you need to know right now.
As it stands currently, traveling to Cuba is only permitted under 12 categories of travel. Learn more about that here. Cruise lines understand these requirements and have created itineraries and sailings that meet them. However, it may still be difficult to see people that you know in Cuba.
At one point you needed people-to-people documents for permission to see persons that you know in country, but now if you are seeing them via an excursion or while doing something with the cruise ship in port you can self-certify why you saw those people. You are required to document your visit and the people you saw, as well as, why you saw them in a journal. You must hang on to that journal for a few years just in case anything comes up though, as they can come back and request documentation (and may be asked to see the journal upon departure).
Cruise ships are supposed to give you a tourist card that acts as your tourist visa while you are off ship in port. It is critical you hang on to this card along with your passport while in port. You'll be required to return the visa when you get back on the ship.
If you board your ship in Miami you might be able to get a Cuban stamp on your passport. If you are the type of traveler who likes to collect country stamps, this is your chance to get a Cuban one.
You'll need to convert your US dollars to Cuban currency, but according to many travel websites, and news outlets, it's best to do it when you arrive in Cuba. And, you won't be able to get cash out of an ATM, or use your credit/debit card.
As of the time of this writing, you can only purchase rum and cigars in port, but not much else while you are in Cuba. You might be able to obtain hand made artifacts, but don't expect “typical tourist” souvenir shops like you have probably seen in most ports on other cruise ships.
Would you like to learn more about cruising to Cuba, and the other elements of your trip you will need to be aware of? Call Destinations HD at (913) 244-9195 to learn more!