Support to the Cuban People Category
I booked my ticket to Cuba unaware of the new changes that individual travelers could no longer enter Cuba under the “People to People” category from the 12 categories of Authorized Travel to Cuba. After continuous research and reading a couple of blogs, I came across information that it was possible for individuals to go under the “Support to the Cuban People” category. Because of the new changes made by the new chief, many people believe that the only way to go to Cuba is with a travel group or by having a travel agency planning all your daily activities with proof to show that everything you did was to support the people only and not the government of Cuba. However, you can still make your own travel plans without having to pay the ridiculous travel agency prices. Make sure to keep tabs of what you do and the receipts as proof that you did in fact support the people only. Stay at a locally owned rooms, eat at locally owned restaurants and engage in daily activities with Cubans.
Obtaining a visa to Cuba is very easy, yes, US citizens do need a visa to travel to Cuba. There are two ways to purchase the visa: you can either purchase it online or purchase it at the airport. If you choose to purchase it online, which I suggest you do because it’s less expensive, make sure it’s a reliable website. Websites such as CUBAVISASERVICES.COM,VISACUBA.COM, PASSPORTANDVISAS.COM are reliable websites. There are also airlines that sell Cuban Visas online such as American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, Jet Blue and United Airlines, prices vary depending on which airline you purchase from and the visa can be picked up at the counter. If you choose to purchase it at the airport you can do so but the cost is higher than purchasing online. With online purchases, you should just allow enough time for the visa to arrive in the mail, three to four weeks just to be safe.
Vintage cars are all we see on social media posts and they grab everyone’s attention. Yes, you can ride the vintage cars and I did but only once on the way to the airport. They are a big part of Cuban culture, but I am not that into cars. The vintage car ride was to the airport and it was booked by my Airbnb host. But there are plenty of vintage cars for rental on the streets mainly parked next to hotels. When I arrived I took a yellow cab and it cost $20 which was a very reasonable for a ride from the airport to where I was staying. There are different types of transportation in Cuba: buses, taxes, bike taxi (cycle rickshaw), and more. I used the bike taxi on several occasions and only did a yellow taxi ride. Do your research on transportation and be aware of scammers while you are there, make sure the price is set before you get in a bike taxi.
There are hotels and casa particulares “private homes” all over Havana streets. I chose to book an Airbnb prior to my arrival, but from what I read you can just go and knock at any of the casa particulares around town and ask if there are any rooms available. As US citizens under the new government administration, it is not recommended to stay in hotels because it does not support the Cuban people.
There are two types of money in Cuba, the one used by the locals is called CUP (Cuban Peso) which is the national currency, and the convertible peso that can be used by the foreigners called CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso). There are extra fees when changing from the dollar to the CUC. To obtain better exchange rates, it is advised to convert the dollar into pound, euros or Canadian dollars in the States and then change it into CUC once you arrive to Cuba.
In my opinion, the food in Cuba was simply very salty and it did not have that Caribbean flavor you would expect in Caribbean food. My first meal was so disappointing, it tasted like I was having a spoon of salt. I had lamb, even though I would have preferred to have sea food but I was starving and I wanted something filling. I read on others posts that it is due to the restrictions from the government of Cuba that they are unable to obtain spices and ingredients for the meals. Even though the food was salty, the dessert and drinks made up for it. Some desserts I indulged in were flan and chocolate mousse cake, and for drinks I had a lot of pina colladas (they were that good). On my last night I decided to try a different drink and I had a really well-made mojito.
Return to the States
Once I was back in the states, going through customs was very easy. I flew to Charlotte and there were no issues at all. The agents did not ask any questions, I simply gave my passport along with the necessary paper work like any other international trip and that was it.
Are you planning to visit Cuba? Or have you visited Cuba? Comment down below if you plan to visit or how your experience was, if you have any questions feel free to ask as well.