Know Before You Go: Cuba | EF Ultimate Break
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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

Cuba Trip Information

Getting There

Passport & Visa Requirements

  • In order to enter Cuba, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
  • We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps.
  • EF Ultimate Break will provide U.S. citizens with a visa and all other documentation needed to enter Cuba. It is important to note that we will take care of all aspects of your Cuba visa application.
  • As part of federal requirements, you should keep a copy of your Cuban travel itinerary and airline ticket receipt on file for five years.
  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact your country’s consulate for specific entry requirements.
  • The Cuban government does not recognize the dual nationality of those who are Cuban-born or the children of Cuban parents.
  • Cuban-born citizens and the children of Cuban nationals may be required to hold a Cuban passport and/or HE-11 visa, and will be responsible for any additional costs incurred. If you were born in Cuba or are the child of Cuban nationals, please contact our Customer Experience Team at your earliest convenience.

Documents & Paperwork

You will receive all documents and paperwork necessary for travel to Cuba both through the mail. All forms must be completely filled out and returned to EF Ultimate Break at least 40 days prior to your departure date in order to participate on this tour. The forms that you will be receiving are:


  • Travel Affidavit
  • People-to-People Reservation Form and Operator-Participant Contract
  • Visa Application Form

You will receive finalized copies of your travel documents at your hotel in Miami, where a briefing will be conducted in the afternoon prior to your departure to Havana.


Please note: The Cuban visa forms will need to be filled out correctly and cannot be lost. Should you need a new Cuban visa form, a charge of $150USD will be assessed on tour.

Transportation & Arrival Information

  • Round-trip flights booked through EF Ultimate Break arrive in and depart from Miami International Airport. An EF Ultimate Break representative meet you at the airport and escort you to the shared shuttle service, which will bring you to your first hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the shuttle at the time of your arrival.
  • Your chartered flight to Cuba will depart from Miami and arrive in Havana, and your return chartered flight will depart from Santa Clara and arrive in Miami.
  • Once you arrive in Cuba, all included transportation is by private motor coach.
  • Using public transportation is not recommended. However, if you choose to take a taxi, please note that drivers will most likely speak only Spanish. Additionally, cab fare may be paid in USD.
  • Please note: If you are making your own flight reservations, you will need to be in Miami no later than 2pm and should plan to depart from Miami no earlier than 8pm.

Baggage Allowance

Commercial flights to and from Miami:


  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs.
  • Contact your airline for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that EF Ultimate Break travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
  • One carry-on bag of 45 total inches (length + width + height) is also permitted.
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Chartered flights to and from Cuba:


  • We recommend traveling with one suitcase and one small carry-on bag (such as purse or small backpack) per person.
  • Each passenger is allowed up to 44 total pounds of checked baggage. A fee of $2USD per additional pound will be charged for any baggage that exceeds this limit. Your small carry-on (a personal item or purse) will not count toward total baggage weight.
  • On your chartered flight from Cuba to Miami, there is no charge for baggage that is less than 50 total pounds per person.

Clothing & Packing Tips

Pack in layers, bring the essentials, and you’re golden. Like an onion, it’s all about the layers. We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.


  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.
  • In addition, we recommend packing insect repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, a bathing suit, a sun hat, hand sanitizer and wash cloths, as most hotels do not provide them. You may also want to bring your own toilet tissue for use in public restrooms.
  • Please note that it is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs or shoulders (entrance may be denied on this basis).

On The Ground

Trip Pace

  • You will walk for about 3 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including cobblestones and unpaved paths, with few hills or stairs.
  • Travelers should be in reasonable health to take our included walks.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at all times.
  • Please note that the summers can get very hot and this is a very full itinerary.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team at 1.800.766.2645 so that we can review all necessary information with you.

Cuisine

  • As a result of Spain’s historical colonization of the country, Cuban cuisine is known for its Spanish influences.
  • African and Caribbean flavors also play an important part in traditional dishes. Common foods often include pork, chicken, yucca, plantains, beans and rice. Cuban coffee is also popular and is known for being strongly brewed.

Currency

  • There are two currencies used in Cuba. The first is the Cuban Peso, which is used primarily by the locals for basic staple products. The second is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), mostly used by tourists. The currency you will be using for your tour is the CUC.
  • In Cuba, you can exchange USD or CAD for CUC at the Havana airport, hotels, exchange bureaus and in some banks. Currently, there is a 13% surcharge fee for exchanging USD to CUC.
  • When exchanging currency, your passport will be required at the time of transaction. It is also important to note that most places will not accept torn or marked bills when converting to CUC.
  • Credit cards, debit cards and ATM cards issued by U.S. banks are currently unusable in Cuba. As such, purchases and payments for services must be made in local currency. You should plan on bringing enough cash with you for meals that are not included and anything else you may wish to purchase.
  • Although some small businesses and taxi drivers will accept USD, paying in CUC is strongly encouraged.

Connectivity

  • Even with the purchase of an international service plan, U.S. cell phones will not currently work in Cuba.
  • If necessary, you may use the phone in your hotel room by arranging payment with the hotel front desk. However, placing a call to the U.S. can be expensive, sometimes costing more than 2.50CUC ($2.50USD) per minute. Connection charges may also apply.
  • While Cuba is a technologically developing country with Wi-Fi not readily available at all hotels, some hotels may have business centers where internet service is available. Charges for use may be up to 12CUC ($12USD) per hour.

Guides

  • In addition to your Tour Director, you will be accompanied by a Cuban National Guide for the duration of your trip. Your Cuban National Guide is there to assist with any and all matters, including emergencies, providing a local’s perspective and any issues that may arise.
  • Tips for the Cuban National Guide are not required and have already been covered by EF Ultimate Break.

Tipping

  • In Cuba, tipping is an important part of the local economy. Local salaries are extremely low and many Cubans depend on tips for their livelihood.
  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $7USD/CAD to $10USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director.
  • For your convenience, your Tour Director will collect tips in Miami for the following components of your tour in Cuba:
    • Local guides
    • Speakers
    • Community project staff
    • Musicians
    • Bus drivers
  • Please budget up to $134USD/CAD per person to cover these tips for this tour.
    • Tips can only be paid in cash

Items to Give or Trade

  • If you’d like, it is okay to bring small items such as pens, markers, coloring books or small toys to give out to local children.
  • It is very important to note: If you are asked at the Cuban customs area, these gifts are not to be called “donations.” A “donation” requires prior authorization and is usually given in large quantities and is not (and should not be) what you are bringing. Instead, you should refer to these items as “small gifts to hand out.”

Keep In Mind

Time Zones

  • Cuba is on the equivalent of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • When it’s noon in New York, it’s also noon in Cuba.

Health

  • Emergency medical insurance is included for those traveling from the U.S. to Cuba through our chartered flight service.
  • Coverage is limited to $25,000 medical and $500 dental. If you wish to increase your coverage, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
  • There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Cuba.
  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
  • We strongly recommend speaking with your doctor prior to your departure to review any medical concerns.
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • Bring a small first aid kit that includes antacids, anti-diarrhea medication and any other medications you regularly need.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify EF Ultimate Break at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to goaheadtours.com and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team at 1.800.766.2645.
  • Drink bottled water. Aside from the hotels where you will be staying and the restaurants you will be visiting, where water is purified, it is not advisable to drink tap water.

  • Bug spray—At least 15 Deet
  • Sunscreen—At least 40 SPF

Electricity & Air Conditioning

  • Cuba generally operates on 220 volts. However, there may be both 220- and 110-volt outlets in some hotels. The outlets will work with both North American plugs or European plugs and an adapter will be required.
  • The strength of the air conditioning in Cuban hotels is often not as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.

U.S. Customs

  • Per U.S. regulations, you are allowed to bring back $400USD worth of goods for personal use, of which $100 can be in tobacco and alcohol products.
  • Travelers returning from Cuba may be asked questions by Customs and Immigration officers. It is possible that you may need to provide a copy of the authorization letter provided to you and undergo additional screening in the Customs area.

Participation

  • As part of the people-to-people agreement, U.S. law requires that all travelers participate on all of the tour’s scheduled activities. Deviation from this itinerary, even in part, is not permitted.
  • Specific itinerary inclusions such as meetings with individuals and visits to organizations and homes are dependent on outside factors and may sometimes be substituted or changed while on tour.
  • It is important to go into this experience with a very open mind! Your guide will be good at swapping out activities for others when needed and your flexibility is appreciated.
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