Cuba is one of the most travelled to destinations from Atlantic Canada with the most direct flights available with Sunwing & Transat than to any other sun destination. And with that much travel comes many questions so we are here to answer the most frequently asked ones.
1) What currency do you need in Cuba?
Cuba uses the Cuban Peso mostly for everyday purchases, but for tourists it is mostly the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) which is equivalent to $1 USD. This is the currency you will get when exchanging your Canadian money at the airport or resort. It can be used in shops in towns nearby the resorts for souvenirs and other purchases as well. For tips to bartenders, maids and other resort staff, many people like to bring US $1 bills for the convenience since the $1 CUC is a coin, kind of like our loonie. This is fine, the Cuban people don’t mind this. But keep in mind, if you bring US dollars and exchange it while there you will have to pay an additional exchange fee on top of the usual fees. This exchange fee is not applicable when exchanging Canadian to CUC.
2) What is required for entry? Do you need any special visas?
To enter Cuba, you need a valid passport that does not expire for at least one month from the date of departure. But be sure to check with your airline as they also have their own requirements for passport validity, some may ask for 3 months, others may want 6, but it’s always good to check. As for visas, in the US, visitors are required to apply for a “Support for the Cuban People” visa in order to be allowed entry. It costs approximately $75 USD and can take some time to process, as well as some other restrictions attached. Us Canadians don’t have to do that. When you book your vacation package, your visa is included and will be passed out to you on the plane. Be sure not to lose that paper though, as you will be required to pay for it if you need another.
3) What kind of insurance is required?
To enter Cuba, you may be asked to provide proof of health insurance. If you cannot provide proof you could be refused entry or they may require you to buy a tourist policy from their government. If you have health coverage through your work, bring your card with you. Provincial health coverage won’t cut it. If you do not have coverage, we have a number of options through our office for just a few dollars a day for up to $10million in emergency medical coverage. We also have cancellation & trip interruption policies should something arise to disrupt your travel plans.
4) Is Cuba safe?
Cuba is one of the safer sun destinations but just like anywhere else in the world, you can always come across bad people. Their government does a pretty good job of policing the streets and should a local be caught committing a crime, the repercussions are often severe. Even minor infractions can mean a resort employee can lose their job and would be unable to work for many years. But there is a darker side to this as well. Should you be victim of a crime and wish to report to police, you are required to stay in the country until the investigation is completed. Because of this, many crimes go unreported. Always take extra precautions when on or off the resort. Don’t travel alone anywhere especially for women, bring a flashlight as the paths are often poorly lit, and never carry large amounts of cash or expensive items that could be stolen and your vacation will go off without a hitch. A majority of Cubans are very friendly and helpful! Visit https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/cuba for travel advisories and advice for Canadians visiting Cuba. Should you become the victim of a minor crime or assault, you must report to the Canadian Consulate in Cuba and they will update their travel advisories on our government websites if necessary.
5) What can I bring in or take out of Cuba?
On the way to Cuba, you will receive a customs declaration form. It is pretty straight forward and just fill it out to the best of your ability. The flight attendants can answer any questions you may have. You can also bring in up to $250USD value of good to give as gifts to the Cuban people. Tourists often bring items that the locals enjoy receiving and are hard to come across in their country. Toiletries, clothing items, kids toys, fishing line, etc. For a list of what you can or cannot bring in, visit https://www.gocuba.ca/tips/clearing-customs/ for more details.
Other things to note about Cuba – you likely WILL get sick at some point so be prepared. Dukoral can help combat this as well. You can bring medications with you like Gravol, Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Tylenol, Benadryl and whatever else you think you might need. I would also suggest bringing a reusable straw as many resorts have banned single-use plastics. Always apply lots of sunscreen, the sun is much stronger there and you can burn very easily even if you are already tanned or naturally dark. Stay hydrated, the resorts have plenty of bottled water for you to drink. Bring your own facecloths and beach towels, towel clips are a great idea too. Bug spray is also a good idea. And don’t forget your Bubba Mug so you can limit the amount of times you have to go back for refills to the bar 😉 And last but not least, enjoy your Cuban vacation! The beaches alone make the trip worthwhile.
If you have any other questions or would like pricing on a trip, call our office at 506.778.8345 or toll free at 1.888.236.2747. You can also visit our website to book online at www.marlintravel.ca/1600
Your adventure awaits, get out there and seize the day!