Traveltalkonline.com Forums



Travel and Vacation Forums >> General Caribbean

Pages: 1
SXMWendell
Traveler


Joined: 11/27/02
Posts: 6989
Pre Cuba trip report
      #1722731 - 02/11/17 11:43 AM (24.107.33.227)

This is a pre going to CUBA trip report.

I normally go the SXM this time of year for the Heineken Regatta. But with the crime and prices I have been looking at other venues. I will miss the camaraderie and friends I have at Regatta time.



GETTING THERE:

There are several airlines that service Cuba now. Many flights are not listed on internet based travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz. So Google can be your friend to find the airlines that service Cuba and then book directly on the airlines' site. Prices and adminities vary quite abit. I chose American as they had a sale for STL to HAV, $380 PP. This price does not include the Cuban Tourist Card. AA is in conjunction with Cuba Travel Service to buy these. CTS will call OR send you an link to purchase you AFTER you purchase the tickets. From the CTS site the price is $85 per person ( $50 for the tourist card + $35 fee). You can also wait and purchase on concourse D at a kiosk for $100 per person. The Cuba Travel card is pink. Other Cuba Travel Cards are different colors for other countries WITH different pricing. So if you see cheaper pricing for these cards it is because it is for another country. You will have to show your passport, Tourist card and boarding slip at the gate to get a stamp on the Tourist card to embark the flight.

Different airlines have different prices and ways to purchase for the Tourist card ranging from $50 to $100. So keep this in mind when shopping for your flight.

You will also have to declare one of the twelve reasons for your trip up front. Most travelers from the USA select Cultural person to person.

You will have to have health insurance with proof while visiting. Most airlines say this is included in the ticket price. And you have to have your arrival boarding pass with you at all times while visiting as proof of this. I have read you can purchase at the arrival airport health insurance for $3 a day per person. So I think I am going to pursue this on arrival as the cost is cheap and "probably" easier to prove in case something happens.



PLACES TO STAY:

The hotels can be expensive in Cuba upon researching. And a high price doesn't necessarily equate to luxury accommodations. So I booked an apartment through
airbnb.com . They had about 350 places to choose from in Havana. I chose one in Old Havana at $54 a night plus the airbnb $45 service fee. Prices range from $10 to $120 a night. Please do due diligence when searching for a place to stay. Some are on the 6th floor ( no elevator),some are on ground floor, some have breakfast included, some charge $5 per person. airbnb shows feedback from previous clients and has pictures of the units. If you find a place you like, email them through airbnb. Internet is very spotty in Cuba so you want a place that you can communicate with so this will be a test. Some places respond rapidly some a week later.

Payment and confirmation is made through Airbnb via credit card so you don't have to worry about money exchange or have to hassle with this on arrival. Also who you book with and who manages the room might be 2 different persons. But this is because a person is representing the room owner and the representative has a better web access. This is a normal thing. I asked the room representative if they had someone that could pick us up at the airport. Sure, no problem mon ( probably a relative). Was told it is $35 from the airport to the apartment in Old Havana and a 1/2 hour ride.

I was also told you can find representatives of places to stay at the airport when arriving. I am adventurous but not that adventurous anymore.



MONEY:

CREDIT CARDS from the USA are NOT accepted in Cuba. ATM's are scarce.

There are 2 currencies in Cuba. One for the locals and one for the tourists. The tourist currency is called the CUC peso. Make sure when spending money on the island you are conversing about the same currency. ALL tourists purchases are made in the CUC currency. So there are a lot of money exchanges available. Exchange rates are set by the government so no need to go shopping for the best rate. The US dollar when exchanged gets hit with an additional 10% government fee along with the normal 3% transaction fee for all currencies. So changing a dollar will get you $.87 CUC. Euros (and other currencies) are not hit with the 10% government fee. I am going to take some Euros and dollars to see how this plays out. You can order Euros from your local bank here in the USA. One bank had a $5 fee and had to know my travel dates ( they were told that is none of their business), another had a $14.50 shipping fee with 2 day lead time, there are online currency exchanges that over a certain amount will next day the Euros to you, AND there are currency exchanges in the airport ( in my case MIA). Some say that the best exchange rate is at the airport. So this will be a learning curve for me.

Wendell


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Carol_HillAdministrator
Administrator


Joined: 08/01/00
Posts: 62785
Loc: Central Florida!
Re: Pre Cuba trip report [Re: SXMWendell]
      #1722743 - 02/11/17 02:05 PM (174.228.3.68)

Wendell--thanks so much for the 'pre' report! So looking forward to hearing about the actual trip!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
pat
Traveler


Joined: 04/18/01
Posts: 11139
Loc: Brookfield, CT.
Re: Pre Cuba trip report [Re: SXMWendell]
      #1722793 - 02/12/17 09:33 AM (75.133.113.202)

So much info here, Wendell, and being a diehard SXM visitor myself, so many things here I would never have thought of or considered as a possibility. I can't wait to hear about your trip after the fact and thoughts about the island visit in general.

--------------------
Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Todd
Traveler


Joined: 03/05/04
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver, WA
Re: Pre Cuba trip report [Re: SXMWendell]
      #1723039 - 02/14/17 01:25 PM (50.76.111.101)

Aloha,
We have booked a long weekend in Havana in early August, do not have a lot of time but wanted to at least get a taste of it. I have pondered if I should buy Canadian Dollars or some other currency to take with me. You would think that since it is in theory legal for the US to go there now that they would change their policy to allow our cards and currency to be used easier. I would love to hear from some Canadians on using their currency in Cuba.

We also found hotels to be pretty expensive, only going to be there for three nights with two other couples so we ponied up for a nicer hotel (Melia Cohiba) but more that we would pay normally but in August we wanted to make sure we had AC and a comfortable place to stay.

Looking forward to the follow up!

Cheers,
T


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
SXMWendell
Traveler


Joined: 11/27/02
Posts: 6989
Re: Pre Cuba trip report [Re: Todd]
      #1723105 - 02/14/17 10:29 PM (24.107.33.227)

The problem is not Cuba accepting credit cards from the USA. the USA still has an embargo with Cuba so USA credit card companys are not allowed to do business in Cuba. Luckily my wife's CC will work fine. I was told the Euro was more "exchange friendly" in Cuba. Also in 2017 there seem to be many Cuban salsa music festivals. Many at Parque Almendares just South of where you are staying.

Forgot to add. Don't drink the water. Guess I will have to brush my teeth in the morning with beer as I learned to do on my first Mardi Gras trip.

Wendell


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Carol_HillAdministrator
Administrator


Joined: 08/01/00
Posts: 62785
Loc: Central Florida!
Carnival starting regular cruises to Cuba [Re: SXMWendell]
      #1723145 - 02/15/17 09:36 AM (47.192.9.53)

Daily Herald story Unlike that other ship, prices on these cruises are not bad. It's an old ship, with very few balconies, and the time in Cuba seems awfully short, but it's a start.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Todd
Traveler


Joined: 03/05/04
Posts: 3659
Loc: Vancouver, WA
Re: Pre Cuba trip report [Re: SXMWendell]
      #1723262 - 02/16/17 02:15 PM (50.76.111.101)

I get that on the cards, note that Air BnB has ability to conduct business there starting I think last year. We are considering using them instead of staying at the Melia Cohiba. Arriving as three couples with the needed cash to check into the Melia Havana plus our spending money makes for a lot of green backs in our pockets when we arrive.

I am learning as I go, look forward to being there.

Thank you for the info so far, looking forward to hearing more.

Cheers!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1



Extra information
0 registered and 0 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Print Topic

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      TTOLCode is enabled

Topic views: 1043

Jump to

Contact Us Terms of Use Advertising on TTOL Traveltalkonline