Top 5 FAQs about travel to Cuba

We at CIT get calls every day from people unsure about how travel to Cuba works. See below for a quick rundown of our Top Five FAQs – please share!

Can Americans still travel to Cuba?

Yes! US citizens can still travel to Cuba legally as long as they are going under one of 12 legal categories as described by the US Treasury Department.

Most of the available categories don’t apply to the average person (i.e., you have a close family member who is a Cuban national) but there is still one broad category open to all US citizens: support for the Cuban people.

When you book your flight to Cuba you will need to declare your legal reason for traveling to Cuba, so it is important to make sure you know which category you’re traveling under, familiarize yourself with the requirements, and choose it accordingly.

What does “Support for the Cuban people” mean?

The basic idea behind “support for the Cuban people” is that your tourist dollars aren’t supposed to end up in the hands of the Cuban government.

So for starters, you cannot stay at certain hotels, eat at certain restaurants, or shop at certain stores, etc., if they are owned and operated by the Cuban government.

Also, there’s a reason this category is called “Support for the Cuban people” – you’re supposed to be engaging in a meaningful way with Cuban people every single day! This could mean visiting a local art gallery, taking a private dance class, attending a private musical concert, visiting a school, etc.

What documentation do I need to visit Cuba?

Everyone traveling to Cuba needs a passport, and your passport needs to be valid for up to six months after your travel date.

You will also need a visa, sometimes referred to as a tourist card. In order to qualify for the visa you need to declare your legal reason for traveling to Cuba under a general license (the 12 categories) and provide the necessary documentation.

As a courtesy for all of our travelers, we provide your visa and the Certificate of Travel, which declares your legal reason for traveling, as well as an official itinerary that demonstrates all of your “support for the Cuban people” activities.

What will be the process when I return from Cuba, how do I need to prove I did a “Support for the Cuban people” trip?

It depends. We have traveled to Cuba countless times and it’s always a different experience upon returning. Sometimes the authorities ask no questions; sometimes they want to see time stamped photos of every single day as proof of activities.

The safest and surest way to travel to Cuba is to do it through an agency such as CIT. We are well versed in the regulations on Cuba travel and will make sure you have a safe, legally compliant, and seamless trip!

Is Cuba safe to visit?

Yes! Cuba has very low levels of crime. You should just use common sense precautions like you would in any other place.

The Cuban economy relies heavily on tourism, too, so local people and authorities alike are invested in making sure that tourists feel safe and welcome.

Flights to Havana

Cultural Island Travel would like to reassure our clients that many major commercial airlines currently fly from the US to Havana.

We have prepared this map of non-stop flights to better assist in planning your travel dates.

Next stop…Mexico!

Discover the Magic of Mexico

Explore the legends and history of Mexico on this 7-day tour designed by CIT’s very own Irma Gonzalez! Immerse yourself in this colorful, ancient, and mystic culture and discover why Mexico City is considered the cultural capital of Latin America. 

You will enjoy some of the best Mexican food and try authentic tequila, pulque, and mezcal. You will sing with Mariachis, explore the ancient pyramids at Teotihuacán, and visit the magical towns of Puebla and Cholula. You will visit Frida Kahlo’s home and float down the canals at Xochimilco. Irma will show you everything she loves about Mexico in an authentic and personal way!

Don’t miss out on this incredible experience! Ask about our 2020 dates for CIT-Mexico today!

 

 

Somewhere over the rainbow in Ireland

Cultural Island Travel is excited to share some photos of our first Ireland tour taken by tour leader Ebony! Traveling with 12 lovely people, she shared some of the tour’s highlights. From authentic farm-to-table Irish meals to tours around a historic cemetery, an abbey, an actual castle and an island, this tour certainly delivered on all the points CIT is defined on – rich culture, lively music, history, beautiful and breathtaking landscapes, great food and lots of fun! We hope you’ll join us on our future Ireland tours in 2020!

Somewhere over the rainbow indeed! Truly a sight to behold.

This lovely Guinness chocolate cake is too beautiful to eat.

Everyone was excited to arrive in Carlow County to visit the Huntington Castle.

This was a day well spent in Galway City. The group went on a Claddagh ring tour learning about the history and the art that go into making these magnificent symbolic rings, and then ending the day in Katie’s Cottage where they had tea and scones as they listened to traditional Irish music.

As of this writing, the tour has not ended yet but looking at the smiles on their faces, they are having a great time!

 

How is Cuba travel legal?

With so many headlines talking about a “Cuba ban” and the discontinuation of cruises to Cuba, many Americans are – quite understandably – feeling confused about whether or not they can still travel to the island legally. 

In fact, there are still 12 legal categories for travel to Cuba. Most of these are very specific and wouldn’t apply to everyday citizens (visiting a close family member who is a Cuban national, educational travel as part of an official school program, etc.) but there is one broad category that allows regular US citizens to travel there: “support for the Cuban people.” 

There are two main components to the “support for the Cuban people” category. The first is making sure that your tourism dollars are not spent at government-run hotels, restaurants, and other blacklisted institutions, since the US does not want the Cuban government to profit off of US travelers. With over 20 years of experience in Cuba travel, we have consistently remained current with the regulations. We at CIT are well versed in exactly which places are legal for Americans, and we tailor our packages and itineraries so that your tourist dollars are going directly to the Cuban people.

The second part requires you to maintain a daily itinerary during which you are engaging in a meaningful way with the Cuban people. This means meeting Cuban artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, maybe taking a dance class, experiencing a cooking demonstration, etc. 

“But I’ve never been to Cuba. How am I supposed to plan all that in advance?” you might ask. That’s where CIT comes in! We have decades of experience in Cuba and have connections for everything and anything that you might want to see

The goal of our signature tours is to provide you with a broad introduction to Cuban culture and have you enjoy meaningful interactions with real Cuban people so that you can experience Cuba authentically. You might enjoy a private concert in a musician’s home, while his mom makes you a classic cafe cubano; or visit an antique car specialist at his workshop and take a ride in a classic car; or meet a 4th generation tobacco farmer and see, smell, and touch the leaves that go into making the world’s best cigars. 

Even if what you want to see isn’t already included in our regular tours, just ask! We take special requests seriously and always work hard to accommodate them. Want to meet a baseball player? Done. Want to take a Jewish tour of Havana? No problem. Want to meet a fashion designer? You got it.

Call or email us and tell us what your dream Cuba trip looks like! 

Is Cuba safe to visit?

Cuba was awarded the #1 safest country in the world to visit in 2018!

 

People are normally nervous about visiting any new place for the first time, but Cuba, off limits to US citizens for so long, somehow seems to stir up even more apprehension.

The good news is that Cuba has extremely low rates of violent crime. Gang and gun violence, drug-related crimes – these sorts of problems simply don’t exist in Cuba. The main issue to be aware of is one that plagues many travel destinations: petty theft.

To be on the safe side, leave your most expensive items (jewelry, designer bags, etc.) back home. We also recommend that you keep a close eye on your belongings in public places, and don’t venture into poorly lit areas late at night. In other words, just use common sense and you’ll be fine!

Americans are also pleasantly surprised by how friendly and welcoming the Cuban people are. You will quickly discover that Cubans do not hold grudges against the American people. In fact the opposite is true as most Cubans are quick to engage in good-natured conversation, wanting to tell you about their relatives that live in the States and eager to hear the latest international news.

“What about those sonic attacks?” is another question that keeps coming up. While seemingly out of a science fiction novel, still nothing conclusive has been determined, with released recordings of the “attacks” turning out to be the sound of crickets. Most importantly, regardless of what actually happened, no tourists or private citizens were affected.

“Wasn’t Cuba destroyed by a hurricane, though?” Nope. Hurricane Irma in 2017 did cause some flooding and damage parts of northern Cuba, but that is well in the past now. Any minor damage was cleaned up within weeks.

Our team at CIT has many combined years spent living in Cuba, and one of the things we say to our clients is that in many ways we actually feel safer in Cuba than we do here in the US. We even regularly take our young children to Cuba.

Still having doubts? Don’t take our word for it! Below are snippets of testimonials written by past CIT travelers:

“Cuba is very safe, in fact, safer than some cities in the USA. The Cuban people were courteous, friendly, and helpful at all times. If we wanted to know something, i.e. directions to a particular store while shopping, they ensured we knew the way. As a former Chief on a Police department, as well as [with my] education and experience in Criminal Justice, I believe my credibility in this arena is a backbone to my comments.”

“Cuba’s people were delightful. We never felt unsafe roaming the streets.”

“We felt completely safe wherever we went on foot – no matter what time of day – and there was none of the aggressive hustling or begging that often has one constantly on the defensive in other countries.”

“We walked all over and always felt safe.” 

“For any American hesitant about safety when considering a cultural vacation in Cuba, they shouldn’t worry as we felt secure on the streets and everywhere else.”

“We found the Cuban people to be friendly toward Americans.  We didn’t experience any incidents of dishonesty or being taking advantage of during our entire trip.  We took taxis in the evening and had no problems deciding on the fare with the drivers and even had taxis wait for us at the restaurants which were usually in quiet neighborhoods with few roaming taxis for hire.  For any American hesitant about safety when considering a cultural vacation in Cuba, they shouldn’t worry as we felt secure on the streets and everywhere else.”

Take a trip to Cuba now and you’ll experience firsthand the warmth and hospitality of the Cuban people, and you’ll see why Cuba was awarded the #1 safest country in the world to visit in 2018!

You can travel to Cuba legally

A day in paradise

Our lovely tour leaders – Ebony, Irma and Laura spent a day in the Viñales Valley to scout for new places to see and activities to add to our tours and came back with these amazing photos.

View from Finca Paraiso

found a nice spot to have lunch

The “Raices” project

The “Raices” project

Laura and Irma with our dependable head of transportation, Yordan

Amazing! Don’t think about it (ignore the news) and just go now!

One of our clients, Laura L., recently came back from her trip and left us with this review…

“Where to begin… I did some research online and came across CIT. From that moment on, I knew I found the perfect tour company. Kristen was easy and enthusiastic to work with and very responsive to any questions my friend and I had prior to our trip. She helped customize the tour to accommodate our requests. A big thumbs up on customer service.

Then from the moment we arrived in Havana, our tour guide Laura Gonzalez was fantastic. She was so pleasant, knowledgeable and fun to be around. She even added some fun little surprises for us along the way which we loved. We got the privilege to get to know Laura and made a friend along the way.

Cuba is a beautiful country with amazing people, culture, history, food, etc. I felt safer walking the streets of Havana than I do in my own city here in the US. The food (especially desserts) and drinks were delicious. All the guides that we met from the Revolution Museum to the Grand Teatro to old Havana were what made the tours fantastic, as well as the our drivers. Getting to visit community projects and private concerts is what really makes the trip special- along with how flexible the staff are to accommodating and customizing our visit.


As someone that has traveled extensively in different parts of the world, this by far was the best tour I’ve been on and exceeded all my expectations. Top notch all the way!

FYI – No one got sick or even an inkling of an upset stomach like what happens when you go to Mexico. CIT scouts out all the restaurants/paladars in advance and so it was great to feel like you could eat and order anything off the menus.”

Colors of Cuba : A Photo Album

Sharing these amazing photos that captured the beauty of Cuba. Photo credit to our guests and CIT staff.

Colors of Cuba!

Shabi in Trinidad, Cuba

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Fusterlandia

Dry house for tobacco leaves surrounded by a variety of palm trees

View of a little bit of the sunset from Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba