Cuba Frequently Asked Questions
Q) What language do they speak in Cuba?
A) Spanish is the official language of Cuba. Our guide, Gelin, speaks English fluently but aside from those who work directly with tourists, many Cubans are not proficient in English. Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere and their education system is excellent, however English isn’t generally taught until the university level. You may want to use Duolingo or another method of learning some basic Spanish before going, but it’s not necessary.
Q) What types of accommodations will we be staying in?
A) We will be staying in locally owned “Casa Particulares” which are like a bed & breakfast in the US. They are quite comfortable, have air conditioning, and serve a full breakfast every morning. Most of the time, our rooms will have private baths, but we will have shared bathrooms in some places.
Q) What currency is used in Cuba, and can I use my credit/debit cards?
A) The Cuban currency is the peso and until recently, they had two different currencies – the Cuban peso, used by locals, and the Cuban Convertible or CUC, which was created to cater to tourism. As of last year, they no longer use the CUC and reverted to using just the peso. You cannot obtain Cuban pesos outside of Cuba, so plan to exchange US dollars when you arrive in Havana. This can be done at the airport but you will get a better rate by exchanging at a bank or through our guide so only get a minimal amount of pesos when arriving, perhaps $100 USD worth.
Q) Does this tour require a lot of walking?
A) Yes. We will be walking extensively around Havana as well as hiking to waterfalls and swimming holes in the national parks. Plan to walk/hike as much as much as 3-4 miles in a day, with some notably vertical sections and uneven footing near the waterfalls. Sturdy footwear is necessary, whether it be lightweight hiking shoes or sandals.
Q) What type of food is available?
A) Cuba has wonderful Caribbean Latin cuisine, including fresh seafood, pollo (chicken) and cerdo (pork), beans & rice, fried plantains, and many other traditional dishes. Fresh fruit is always served at breakfast, along with juice, Cuban coffee (muy fuerte – very strong!), and usually two eggs prepared to your choosing.
Q) Do I need a Passport and a visa to enter Cuba?
A) Yes, you will need a passport that is valid for at least six months before it expires, so please check your expiration date. The US Passport office has been very busy with slower than average turnaround so it would be wise to apply/renew soon if you need to. Additionally, you will obtain a Cuban Travel Visa from your airline at the last airport you depart from before arriving in Havana. Airlines have different procedures for issuing the Cuban Travel Visa, so check with your carrier after booking if they do not provide instructions. With Delta, it is issued at the ticket counter in Atlanta, but other airlines sell them at the departure gate. Please contact us prior to purchasing your airfare as there are a few questions you will need to answer when booking a flight to Cuba. We will instruct you on how to select a valid reason for visiting Cuba as approved by the US State Department.
Q) Do I need any special shots or vaccines
A) It’s best to consult your doctor’s office on any recommended inoculations for Cuba. You should have a current tetanus shot and it’s a good idea to receive vaccines for hepatitis A & B if you travel frequently to locales where it is prevalent, though Cuba is not considered high risk for this or other tropical diseases.
Q) What will we be traveling in?
A) We will be utilizing a variety of vehicles throughout the tour, including taxis, large passenger vans with hired drivers for the longer trips to Cienfuegos and Trinidad de Cuba, smaller cars into the mountains for day hikes, and we will take a tour of Havana in classic convertibles on Day 2. We will not be doing any of the driving, nor will our guide, Gelin.
Q) What type of electrical outlets do they use, and will I need a converter?
A) Cuba uses the same type of AC outlets that we have in the US, so you will be able to charge your devices without an adapter.
Q) What clothing and gear should I pack?
A) We will send out a detailed packing list prior to leaving but plan on bringing lightweight clothing for warm weather.
Q) Is Wifi or cell service available in Cuba?
A) To the best of our knowledge, no US carriers offer calling plans for Cuba. Cell phones will connect to the US intermittently, but the rates are usually high. Wifi will be available at some of our accommodations and in many restaurants. You will also be able to purchase Wifi cards for use in public parks where a signal is broadcast.
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