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Practical information about Cuba

 

 

 

 

 

Practical information about Cuba
Practical information about Cuba

Practical information about Cuba

 

 

 

 

 

CLIMATE

Best time to travel

Cuba is a destination that can be visited at any time of the year.

Cuba has two seasons:

The dry season (la seca), which lasts from the end of November through April.

The rainy season (la lluvia), which is from May to October. The rain usually comes in the form of intense showers in the late afternoon, so you can easily still visit the country in this season.

Hurricanes, which are common in the Caribbean Sea, also affect Cuba at times. The riskiest months are August to October.

Cuba’s peak season for visits is December – February.

Weather statistics for Havana:

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Day temp. 26 26 28 29 30 31 31 32 31 29 28 27
Night temp. 19 19 20 21 22 23 24 24 24 23 21 20
Precipitation, mm 64 69 46 54 98 182 106 100 144 181 88 58

 

Weather statistics for Varadero:

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Day temp. 26 27 29 30 31 32 32 32 32 30 28 27
Night temp. 15 15 17 18 20 22 22 22 22 21 18 16
Precipitation, mm 39 37 50 72 166 212 155 165 178 172 63 36

 

Weather statistics for Santiago de Cuba:

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Day temp. 29 29 30 30 31 31 32 33 32 31 30 29
Night temp. 18 18 19 20 21 22 22 22 22 22 21 19
Precipitation, mm 39 39 50 97 206 153 115 138 164 191 87 39

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TOUR

Passport & visa

As a British citizen, you must be in possession of a valid British passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return home.

As a British citizen, you will need to obtain a visa to visit Cuba.
The visa is included in the tour price, and we will make sure to arrange it for you. For this reason, make sure that you submit a copy of your passport, ideally while booking the tour, as we will use this to complete your visa application.
We will send your Cuban visa to your physical address, so remember to check your mailbox before travelling.

Please note: It is your own responsibility to check whether you need a visa for transit airports en route.

Please note that if you have visited Cuba after 1 January 2021, and you plan on visiting the USA, then you must apply for an American visa at the American embassy (you can no longer apply via the ESTA visa waiver programme).

The rules on visas can be checked on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

 

If you are travelling via Canada, the following applies to British citizens:

To travel via Canada, you must apply for an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Without eTA, you will not be allowed to travel through Canada. Apply for the travel authorization in good time. eTA costs 7 CAD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.aspYou should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your eTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.

If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new eTA.

Travel documents

Prior to your departure, you can download our App here to find your travel documents and the contact details for TourCompass and our local partners.

The day after you arrive in Cuba, we will hold a brief information meeting at your accommodations where we review your tour and practical information.

Health and customs declaration form:

Prior to your arrival in Cuba, you must fill out a health and customs declaration form online. You can do this starting from 48 hours before your departure to Cuba. Follow this link: https://www.dviajeros.mitrans.gob.cu/inicio.

Once you have filled out the form, you will receive a PDF by e-mail with a QR code that you must bring with you on your tour and present on arrival in Cuba. We recommend that you also bring a physical copy of this code.

Guide for filling out the form:

Step 1: Enter personal information here.
Step 2: Enter your arrival details. This includes your flight and seat number, so we recommend that you fill out this sheet after you have checked in for your departure. The Havana airport is called: A.I. José Martí (La Habana/HAV). Institution – do not fill in this section.
Step 3: Enter information about where you will be staying, Province: La Habana, Municipality: Habana Vieja, Accommodations: Room for rent, Address: (Can be found on your confirmation from TourCompass).
Step 4: Write whether you have anything to declare in customs.

We recommend that you download the WhatsApp app to your smartphone and add the phone numbers of our business partners. You can send messages and call them for free using the app when you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Vaccinations

We recommend that you contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic for information about vaccinations. You can also read more about the rules regarding travel vaccinations here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another country where yellow fever is present. Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. Your vaccination certificate should therefore always be carried with you in your hand luggage when you travel.

 

Covid-19

There is currently no Covid-19 vaccination requirement for entry into Cuba. However, these rules may change at short notice. It is your responsibility to check these rules before departure.

Please note that certain Covid-19 rules may apply at the stopover airports on your way to/from Cuba. It is also your responsibility to check this before departure.

Some locations may have mask requirements, e.g., medical clinics and hospitals.
Remain up to date on the rules through your guide or ask the hotel’s staff.

Terms and conditions of travel

Please read our general travel terms and conditions carefully, as these are part of the agreement terms for tours purchased at TourCompass. Tours purchased from us are covered under the “Package Travel Act”.

Click here to read our travel terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it.
Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate click here.

Travel insurance

We always advise you to obtain comprehensive travel insurance when heading off on your dream holiday. It is also highly recommended to acquire cancellation insurance for extra protection. 

Click here to proceed to our page on insurance, where you can read more about our recommendations.

The Cuban government requires all travellers to Cuba to hold travel insurance. Travel insurance must be purchased from home before departure and must cover expenses for medical treatment and medication costs, etc.

Upon arrival in Cuba, travellers must be able to present a certificate or insurance voucher documenting that you hold insurance. Your travel insurance must be valid throughout your entire stay in Cuba.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

Currency, price level & tipping

The currency situation in Cuba is complicated, so it’s important that you read the information below carefully before departure to ensure that you’re well prepared.
At TourCompass, we recommend that you bring cash in USD, EUR, or GBP to cover your spending throughout the tour.

Cuba’s currency is called the peso (CUP).

You cannot exchange to pesos (CUP) until you arrive in Cuba. You can exchange money at the airport on arrival using an exhcange office called Caldeca, or at the banks. We recommend that you exchange no more than 100 EUR to Cuban pesos, as the local markets or supermarkets are the only place you’ll need them.

Pesos must not be taken out of the country. We therefore recommend that you spend all your pesos while you’re in Cuba. If you have any leftover pesos, you’ll need to exchange them before you travel home. There is a bureau de change at the airport. The exchange rate there is not all that great, and they don’t always have enough foreign currency to exchange.

If you opt to take out cash at a bureau de change, at the bank or from a cash machine (ATM), you will be charged a considerable fee for doing so. You can only take out pesos (CUP). You will be required to show your passport if you make a withdrawal at a bureau de change or at the bank.

Please note that the exchange rate may vary if you make a withdrawal at a bureau de change, at a bank, or from a cash machine, or you pay by credit card. The exchange rate when you make a withdrawal from an ATM or pay by credit card is currently very poor.

The Cuban peso is weak, and you’ll find that there is a big difference between the official exchange rate and the exchange rate offered at hotels and restaurants, for example. Most privately owned businesses, such as casa particulares, hotels and restaurants will therefore only accept foreign currency in cash EUR, USD, or GBP (no pesos and no credit cards).

The possibility of paying by credit card is very limited. Some state-owned companies may require you to pay by credit card, such as car hire companies and at petrol stations.
Please note that your credit cards must NEVER be issued by a US bank, as they will be rejected.
We recommend that you use your credit card as little as possible, due to the poor exchange rate.

At TourCompass, we therefore recommend that you bring cash in EUR, USD, or GBP for use during your stay in Cuba, as this will be most beneficial for you.
We recommend that you use the safe at your hotel or casa particular to store extra cash, and that you never carry a lot of cash around with you.

If you bring EUR, USD, or GBP in cash, you should have small notes with you (and no coins).

At our welcome meeting in Havana, our local partner will give you the most up-to-date information on currency in Cuba.

Click  here to get a general idea of price levels in the country.

It is a custom and appreciated to tip when you are in Latin American countries, but it is voluntary, and the amount you are willing to give is entirely at your discretion.

The guide below is indicative only.

  • Casa particulares: approx. 4 EUR per night
  • Guide: 2 to 5 EUR per person per day
  • Driver: 1 to 2 EUR per person per day
  • Maids: 1 EUR PPPD.
  • Porters: 1 EUR per item of luggage.
  • Waiter: 10 % of the bill At all-inclusives, you add 1 EUR PPPD.
  • Taxi: 1 EUR or round up the amount on shorter trips, or more if the taxi driver took you on an excursion.

Our above tipping guideline is in EUR, but tips can also be paid in the local currency at the destination (CUP).

Currency

Cuba’s currency is called the peso (CUP).

You cannot exchange to pesos (CUP) until you arrive in Cuba. You can exchange money at the airport on arrival using an exhcange office called Caldeca, or at the banks. We recommend that you exchange no more than 100 EUR to Cuban pesos, as the local markets or supermarkets are the only place you’ll need them.

Pesos must not be taken out of the country. We therefore recommend that you spend all your pesos while you’re in Cuba. If you have any leftover pesos, you’ll need to exchange them before you travel home. There is a bureau de change at the airport. The exchange rate there is not all that great, and they don’t always have enough foreign currency to exchange.

The Cuban peso is weak, and you’ll find that there is a big difference between the official exchange rate and the exchange rate offered at hotels and restaurants, for example. Due to the weak peso, most private companies, e.g., casa particulares, hotels and restaurants prefer payment in foreign currency such as EUR, USD and GBP.

At TourCompass, we therefore recommend that you bring cash in EUR, USD or GBP for use during your stay in Cuba, as this will be most beneficial for you.

If you bring EUR, USD or GBP in cash, you should have small notes with you (and no coins).

We recommend that you use the safe at your hotel or casa particular to store some extra cash, and that you never carry a lot of cash around with you.

If you opt to take out cash at a bureau de change, at the bank or from a cash machine (ATM), you will be charged a considerable fee for doing so. You can only take out pesos (CUP). You will be required to show your passport if you make a withdrawal at a bureau de change or at the bank.

Please note that the exchange rate may vary if you make a withdrawal at a bureau de change, at a bank, or from a cash machine, or you pay by credit card. The exchange rate when you make a withdrawal from an ATM or pay by credit card is currently very poor.

Some state-owned companies may require you to pay by credit card, such as car hire companies and at petrol stations. But we recommend that you use your credit card as little as possible.

Please note that your credit cards must NEVER have been issued by a US bank, as they will be rejected.

At our welcome meeting in Havana, our local partner will give you the most up-to-date information on currency in Cuba.

Food & allergies

At the vast majority of our destinations, we are able to take allergies, as well as allergens or preferences into account when it comes to food, however it is important that you inform us of this when you book the tour.

Telephones, Wi-Fi & electricity

Telephones & Wi-Fi:

It’s expensive to use data and roaming abroad if it’s not already included in your mobile subscription. Contact your mobile phone service provider to find out what services are included in your subscription and what prices apply to you at different destinations.

If data and roaming are not included in your mobile subscription when travelling abroad, we recommend that you make use of the free Wi-Fi at your hotel or in restaurants. That way, you can call and write home via various services such as Messenger or WhatsApp. Wi-Fi is not as widespread as back home, and your connection may also be very slow. Not all casa particulares offer Wi-Fi.

If you would like to remain online at all times, the cheapest option will be to purchase a local SIM card with data on arrival in Cuba.

Our local partner in Cuba can help you obtain a Cuban SIM card with 6 GB of data, 100 minutes of local talk time and 100 local SMS text messages. You can order this SIM card and pay in cash at the welcome meeting in Havana (approx. 50 USD/EUR). Our partner will obtain the SIM card for you and help install it on your phone (passport details required). If you have rented a car in Cuba, we always recommend that you purchase this SIM card as well, so that you can easily get hold of our partner or the car rental office if questions arise while you are out driving.

Electricity: Cuba does not have standardised power, and sockets may have 110 or 220 volts. The outlets are of the American type, with two “flat” pins. It is therefore important that you bring an adapter.

What to pack

Make sure you pack all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, vaccination cards, travel documents, insurance documents, credit cards, money, computers, mobile phones and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

Please note that in Cuba, there is limited access to buy certain things that are common back home, e.g., toiletries, sun cream, medications, etc.
For this reason, you should bring what you need from home.

Bringing plant products into the UK

Visitors are not permitted to bring plants, seeds, fruit and other plant products into the UK from their travels outside the UK, unless they are accompanied by a plant health (phytosanitary) certificate. These rules also apply to smaller quantities of plants and plant products.

Read more about the rules here.

Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

THE FLIGHT

Airline tickets

Most airlines have electronic tickets (e-tickets).
It is important that you check your name for spelling errors, as the name on the reservation must be exactly as it appears on your passport. If your name needs to be corrected, please contact us as soon as possible. Please note that this may incur a fee from the airline.

Seat reservation

The airline will assign you a seat on the plane at check-in. If you have specific wishes regarding where you sit on the plane, you can make a seat reservation yourself on the airline’s website or in their app. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation.

It varies when airlines open for seat reservations, but as a general rule, you can book seats from the time of booking and up to 48 hours before departure.

We also point out that the airline has complete control over all seats on the plane and that they are therefore entitled to make changes to the reservation at any time.
If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will assign you a seat at check-in.

Check-in

Your passport and your booking reference, which appears on your itinerary, are required to check in.

We recommend that you download the airline’s app on your phone. In the app, there is an option for online check-in, which typically opens 24 to 48 hours before departure. The app also allows you to stay informed of any flight changes and other important information about your flight.

Please note that the flight times may have changed in relation to those listed on the travel itinerary you received when you booked your holiday. It is always the flight times in the airline’s app or on the airline’s website that apply.

At the airport

We recommend that you arrive at the airport to check in at least two hours before departure. It is a good idea to check the airport’s website for the latest updates.

Baggage

We use many different airlines for our destinations. You can check the exact rules for hand luggage and checked baggage on the airline’s website or in their app.

In Cuba, you travel by minibus and normal bus.

Buses in Cuba have a baggage allowance of 20 kg per person. If your baggage weighs more, an excess baggage fee will apply, which is paid locally.

Please note that your baggage must be divided into one suitcase and one backpack as carry-on (you are not permitted to bring a trolley bag as carry-on in the mini-buses).

Delayed baggage

If your baggage is delayed, please contact the staff in the baggage reclaim area to report your missing baggage.

It is important that you have your baggage receipt when completing your PIR (Property Irregularity Report).

Please note that you must not leave the baggage area at the airport until you have completed the report.

In the event of delayed baggage, we ask you to contact our partner, who will ensure that your guide/driver waits for you.

Flight delays or cancellations

Should any changes occur in connection with your flight reservation before departure, we will of course contact you to let you know.

Should your flight be delayed after check-in, the airline is responsible for rebooking your flight. They will typically book the next possible flight and arrange any meals and accommodation if necessary.

Our partner checks for any changes in arrival times and will naturally still wait for you, even if your flight is delayed.

If, due to a delay or cancellation, the airline books you on another flight number after you have arrived at the airport, please contact us on TourCompass’ emergency number.

AT THE DESTINATION

Immigration & Customs

Immigration:

When you arrive at your final destination, you will go through immigration, where your passport and any entry documents and visas are checked. In many places, you will be required to provide fingerprints, and a photo of your face will also be taken for biometric recognition. You may also be asked questions about your travel plans in the country and possibly where you are staying.

 

Customs:
Once you’ve cleared immigration and picked up your luggage, you will head through customs. If you have nothing to declare, you can go through “nothing to declare”. If, on the other hand, you have something to declare, it is important that you go through “declare”. It’s your own responsibility to check the customs regulations that apply in the country you are travelling to.

Arrival

On your arrival, you will be met by a guide/driver who will be ready to welcome you with a TourCompass sign.

In the unexpected event that you are unable to find your guide/driver, please contact our local partner using the emergency number provided in your travel documents.

Hotel check-in and check-out

Normal check-in is typically from 2 pm, and you cannot therefore count on getting your room earlier. If you’d like to check in early, this can be arranged for a fee when you book the tour.

When you check in, the receptionist will generally register your credit card and may reserve an amount. This is not an additional fee, but customary at hotels to ensure payment of any consumption from the minibar and the like. When you check out, the amount will be automatically released if you have not made use of this.

It is very normal for hotels to take a copy of your passport. In some places, this is a requirement of the local authorities.

Check-out is normally by 10 am. If you’re not travelling until the afternoon or evening, you can have your luggage stored until it’s time to leave. If you would like a late check-out instead, this can be arranged for a fee when you book the tour.

 

Casa Particulares:

Casa particulares, or casas, are a kind of private accommodation where you stay with a Cuban family at their house. They can best be described as being similar to bed & breakfast establishments.

Read more about staying at a casa particular here.

Type of tour and transport

In the event of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, blocked roads or otherwise, it may be necessary to change the order of sightseeing tours and attractions in your itinerary.

 

Need for help during the tour?

We have a 24-hour emergency hotline so that you can always get in touch with us should anything unforeseen occur during your tour. You will also be sent the telephone numbers and emergency telephone numbers of our partners at the destination. In some cases, it may be easiest and fastest to contact our partners due to time differences, if, for example, you find yourself in a situation where your pick-up for an excursion or transfer is more than 15 minutes delayed.

AFTER THE TOUR

Feedback/Contact

We rely on happy travellers, and we would therefore very much like to hear from you after your return home. Send us an email at info@tourcompass.co.uk or call us on tel.: 01279 704 135

Latin America
Emily Roper

Emily loves to travel and is extremely passionate about helping others achieve their travel dreams.

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Friday 9-13