A: With recent relaxation of the regulations to obtain required licenses for travel to Cuba, Apple Vacations can now sell tour programs to Cuba under one of the twelve pre-approved travel categories licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Tours are classified as "Educational Activities" known as "Support for the Cuban People". These itineraries are designed to give vacationers the opportunity to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, and to interact and engage with the people of Cuba. Escorted tours are operated by Cuba Travel Services. The Apple Vacations Cuba travel program is not a beach-style vacation! As per U.S. licensing requirements, the itineraries are full-time programs with scheduled tours and activities. There will be little free time on most days, except on some evenings when dinner is not included.
Q: How strict is the itinerary?
A: Deviation from the program is not permitted. Per U.S. law, participants in the program are required to follow a full-time itinerary with little down time, except on some evenings when dinner is not included. In Cuba, things work differently, and some activities that have been scheduled far in advance may become unavailable for a number of different reasons. Your guide will be good at swapping out activities for others when needed, so don't be disappointed if things change, because they will! Enjoy every moment of it and try to make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of visiting a country that has been off-limits for Americans for decades.
Q: Can I use my credit card in Cuba? What about U.S. dollars?
A: U.S. financial institutions and Cuban vendors are NOT set up to process credit card, debit card and ATM transactions. Travel with a sufficient amount of cash (prices are similar to those in the U.S.) to make purchases or pay for services. U.S. currency is NOT accepted in Cuba, and U.S. dollars must be exchanged on arrival. Traveler's Checks may also be difficult to cash while in Cuba and are not recommended. U.S. dollars will be exchanged for CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) at any airport, hotel, exchange bureau in town centers and some banks. The CUC is equal to the U.S. dollar, but there is a currency transaction fee of 13% (so for 100 USD you will get 87 CUC). The same fee applies regardless of where the money is exchanged, and you must present your passport to make the conversion. Bills that are torn or written will not be on accepted.
Q: What documentation do I need to travel to Cuba?
• U.S. passport valid for 6 months after completion of travel
• Visa for Cuba will be included on your airline ticket
• Completed Travel Affidavit Registration
• After receipt of your deposit, Apple Vacations will provide you with all of the necessary documentation, which must be completed and returned within 5 business days.
Q: What should I pack?
• Bug spray
• Sunscreen and sun hats
• Comfortable clothing, rain gear
• Walking shoes (casual attire)
• Medications and OTC drugs, bandages, etc.
• Cash, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, wash cloths (not provided at most hotels)
• Tissues and toilet paper (good to have your own at public restrooms)
Q: Can I drink the water?
A: It is best to drink bottled water while in Cuba. Water is purified in the hotels and restaurants on the tours, and it is okay to drink beverages with ice. It is also not necessary to use bottled water to brush your teeth, as the tap water has been purified at the hotels on the tour itineraries. Salads and fruits are also acceptable to eat at all included or recommended restaurants.
Q: Will my cell phone work in Cuba?
A: U.S. cell phones do not work in Cuba, even if you have an international plan. It is possible to call home from your hotel by visiting the business center or dialing direct from your room, however rates can be very expensive. Emergency contact numbers to leave with your relatives at home will be provided with your documentation.
Q: Is internet available in Cuba?
A: WiFi is not available throughout Cuba except at some hotels. Please keep in mind that because of the limited technology in Cuba, it is not uncommon to have slower service than you are used to or even full internet outages.
Q: Can I buy souvenirs?
A: Per U.S. regulations, you are allowed to bring back $400 worth of goods for personal use, of which $100 of that can be brought back in tobacco and alcohol products. Informational materials, such as books, art (including handicrafts, ceramics, sculptures), music and videos, are not included in this amount and do not count towards the $400 limit. You may be asked to show U.S. Customs officials your receipts or a copy of the authorization letter you are traveling on (located in your ticket jacket).
Q: I read/heard that the department of state issued a warning for US citizens traveling to Cuba. Why did they issue the warning?
A: The U.S State Department issued a Cuba Travel Warning as a result of some unidentified attacks incidents involving a "sonic attack" affecting against numerous US Embassy employees. These incidents appear to be isolated to specific certain residences and locations domiciled by where individual employees of the US Embassy are domiciled. The US Embassy in Havana remains open and services to US Citizens are still being continued to be provided. Cuba Travel Services facilitates travel for thousands of Americans each year and is not aware of travelers who have been affected by such incidents. Our select hotel partners are also unware of any of such occurrences at their properties.
Q: Will the announcement affect my future travel plans to go to Cuba?
A: The current regulations do not affect your travel through Apple Vacations.
Q: Is it still legal to travel to Cuba?
A: Yes, travel to Cuba is still legal within the twelve authorized categories.
Q: Am I able to get a visa/is my visa still valid?
A: The new regulations do not affect your ability to obtain a visa to Cuba under the twelve authorized categories.
Q: What happens if I want to cancel my trip because of the new travel warning? Will I receive a refund on hotel, flights, activities etc?
A: The cancellation penalties described in the Apple Vacations Fair Trade Contract apply.