What’s it going to be like to visit Cuba as an American?
Why do we want to visit Cuba? Frankly, because it’s there! And we really don’t know how long we’ll be able to visit from the US, the way politics are. There is just something fascinating about being able to visit a country that still lives somewhat in the past.
Empress of the Seas
We’ll be sailing to Cuba in April on Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas. I’ve never sailed on a ship as small as Empress before, but since the docks in Cuba are small, we need to sail on a small ship. Seriously…there is barely room for a bed and a bathroom in the interior cabin that we booked. But looking at the bright side, sleeping has to be great, between the ship rocking me to sleep and the darkness of the room. And think how it easy it will be to grab a nap in the afternoon with no window letting the light in. I’d imagine that we’ll spend a lot of the cruise up on deck.
I’d love to say that I’ll be blogging daily from the ship as usual, but sadly, my media rep at Royal Caribbean hasn’t gotten back to me concerning the internet. But, I will be blogging when we get home, so keep a lookout.
First off I want to let everyone know how the currency exchange goes. I’m a little intimidated by that, since there’s not a lot of info out there about the actual exchange. I’ll also let you know about Cuban money. I know that there are two separate forms of Cuban currency. There’s the CUP, which is the money that local Cubans use. And it’s worth a lot less than the CUC’s, Convertible Pesos. CUC’s are the currency that most tourists use, so I want to be careful not to get them confused. Even though there is an extra exchange fee on American money, we’ve decided not to change our dollars into Canadian dollars or Euros. We figure we’d have to pay for the exchange into those currencies here in the US, and then pay the fee again in Cuba. I don’t think that it will make a lot of difference which way we do it.
I’ll also go in-depth on what documentation you need to enter Cuba. At this point I know that we need a passport, (not a passport card or a birth certificate), and that it has to be good for at least six months past the visit date. We’ll also need a tourist visa, which costs $75. The ship will take care of that for us. We already had to fill out a form stating the purpose of our visit. HavanaCar.net told us to use the Support for the Cuban people box, so that’s what I did. Also included in our cruise fare is mandatory Cuban health insurance.
Cuba Vintage Car tour
While in Cuba we’re going on a six hour tour with HavanaCar.net. First we’ll go on a three hour classic convertible tour. We felt that the classic car tour was really mandatory for the real experience of Cuba. That will be followed by a three hour walking tour of Havana. We’ll have an English speaking guide with both parts of the tour. I want to do a review of HavanaCar.net when we get home. I’ll also do a blog about my impressions of Cuba, and how easy or hard it is for the common person to visit.
We don’t normally use a guide when we visit ports, but I’m really glad that this time we’ve decided to use one. We know very little about Cuba or where to go. And I’m comfortable with using a local tour, instead of a Royal Caribbean excursion. The cost is less than half, and they have wonderful reviews, plus we will be in Cuba from 8 am till 8 pm, so there’s lots of time. Stefano has been very good at getting back to me promptly when I had questions and when I booked the tour. They do ask for a $45 deposit payable by Paypal. The rest is due in CUC’s at the time of the tour. They did give me a small discount because I blog, but I’ll definitely give an honest review.
My new Fitbit Versa Lite!
I also got a Fitbit Versa Lite specifically for this cruise, and I can’t wait to use it to see how many steps I log during a cruise. I’ve had a Fitbit Flex before, but the Versa Lite does so much more. I am definitely one who loves gadgets, and I love that I can change watch faces. I’m also amazed at how good the sleep tracker is on the Versa Lite.
Check back often!
So, keep tuned to QuietCruiser.com for my Cuba and Cruise blogs. I’ll try to be as in-depth as possible on how hard or easy traveling to Cuba for an American is, and I’ll also include lots of pictures. So you don’t miss anything, be sure to like The Quiet Cruiser on Facebook or follow me on Bloglovin.