Until 2015, Cuba was off-limits to U.S. travelers, but since the embargo was lifted, things are finally opening up. If you’re curious about exploring the island nation but still feeling a bit nervous, you’re not alone. One of the best ways to enjoy what Cuba has to offer while still bringing all the amenities of home is to book a cruise there.
How do you do it? What do you need to know?
Below, we answer five of the most frequently asked questions about taking a cruise to Cuba. With proper preparation and knowledge of the country’s expectations for travelers, you can make sure this is a trip you’ll never forget.
One note of caution: understand that since the embargo has been lifted recently, laws are constantly changing. Always check with the U.S. Department of State for the latest updates.
What You Need to Know about Cruising to Cuba
What Do I Need to Bring?
Your cruise line may ask you to get a special visa before your trip begins. If you don’t have a visa, however, you can enter Cuba with just your American passport and you will get a tourist card upon arriving. Hold on to that card throughout your stay in Cuba.
The country does require you to carry travel insurance. There have been instances of tourists attempting to enter the country without insurance and being denied.
Also, bring pounds or euros. ATMs aren’t readily available on the island, and many American debit or credit cards will get you nowhere. Exchanging U.S. dollars isn’t the best idea either, so convert your currency before you go.
When Should I Go?
Here’s a quick guide to the different seasons in Cuba:
Mid-November to March: coolest, driest, and busiest season
May-June: wet season (but carnival and tobacco harvesting occur during these months)
July-November: hurricane season (late August to early October is the peak of hurricane season in Cuba)
What Should I Do?
Cuba is a very unique place. American businesses, like Starbucks, haven’t been able to take over the country. Most signs are in Spanish. There isn’t a lot of internet access or technology throughout the country, so it gives you an opportunity to unplug and unwind.
You’ll also be encouraged to learn about Cuba. The country isn’t against you relaxing on the beach or exploring its exciting art scene, but their real goal is to educate people on the country’s history. If you obtain a people-to-people visa, you will have to attend educational lectures or activities before you leave. Cruise ships will have more information on what is available for passengers.
Finally, yes, you can go buy rum and cigars. Even better, you can now legally bring both of these items back into the United States.
Are There Health Concerns?
Do not drink the water. Bring bottled water from the cruise onto the island.
Make sure you are healthy before you hit the shore. There have been cases of Cuban officials taking the temperatures of passengers on cruise ships, and anyone who has a higher-than-normal reading is not let into the country.
In general, you should only depart on a cruise only when you are in tip-top shape, but you should take extra precautions when heading to Cuba.
Is It Safe?
Despite the murky history of our two countries, Cubans love Americans. While crimes like petty theft have risen in the past few months, Cuba is generally quite safe for Americans.
Things can get complicated, however, if you are injured while on an excursion in Cuba. If you suffer an injury while on a cruise excursion, talk to a Florida cruise line lawyer today.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented cruise victims who have suffered all kinds of injuries and illnesses due to negligence. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.