Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A few tips for visiting Cuba

A cruise to Cuba is different than ones to more traditional nations like Mexico and Jamaica.

So before setting sail for Havana, here are a few tips that can make your day there easier.

Exchange enough cash for all purchases

Three American credit cards are accepted in Cuba: Stonegate Bank, NatBank and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.

Not every establishment will take even those American credit cards. Bank service is spotty in Cuba and ATMs could be hard to find, or out of service or money.

You cannot use American dollars in Cuba. You will have to exchange it for the Cuban currency called the CUC. There is a 13 percent tariff charged to American dollars exchanged.

Don't skip your educational tour

The U.S. government has up to five years to ask you for proof that you fulfilled the educational obligation. If you go as part of a tour group with operations based out of the United States, it is up to the operator to keep a log of your activities.

If you are marked absent on your tour and the government asks the operator, the company is bound by law to tell the truth.

The civil penalty process is administered by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The maximum penalty is $84,000 but it is usually mitigated and settled, ranging from a warning letter to $1,000 to $2,000.

Bring back as many cigars as you want

The U.S. government once capped its citizens at $100 in Cuban cigars that could be brought back to the states. Those limits no longer exist.

Stores selling Cuban cigars are easy to find in Havana

Typically, a box ranges from $125 to $250, but some brands are even pricier.

Whatever you purchase is for recreational use only. Selling those cigars in the United States is against the law.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana can help

The contact number is (+53) 7839-4100 should you need the embassy's assistance. Its website lists the address as Calzada between L & M, Vedad. Most cab drivers should know where it is.

Don't expect air conditioning

Drink only bottled water.

Only a few places have air conditioning, so dress accordingly and bring a fan or mister if it expected to be extremely hot during your visit.

Cuban taxis do not have meters, so negotiate the fair before the drive starts.

Contact Paul Guzzo at Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

A few tips for visiting Cuba 02/19/17 [Last modified: Sunday, February 19, 2017 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour


    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

  2. Democrat Philip Levine won't attack Trump. Can he be Florida governor?


    If he decides to run, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will be the most enigmatic and unpredictable candidate for Florida governor in 2018.

    Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is introduced before speaking at a Tampa Tiger Bay Club meeting at the Ferguson Law Center in Tampa on May 19. (LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times)
  3. What you need to know for Friday, Aug. 18


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Read 'Hellfire from Above,' inside the Tampa Electric Co. power plant accident that left five people dead. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  4. Tampa is training ground for Team USA inline skating

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The United States once dominated the sport known as international outdoor inline speed skating.

    Cotton Yarborough is one of five people from the Tampa Bay area on the national inline speed skating team. The team is competing in the world championships Aug. 27 in China. [Courtesy of Frank Holland]
  5. Grocery and hotel deals in reach for Tampa Encore project

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — After failing to land both Publix and Walmart, the Tampa Housing Authority says it is close to a deal to bring another well-known grocer to its Encore project.

    The Tampa Housing Authority's Encore project has housing like The Reed, pictured, but no retail. It is in talks to bring a grocer and two hotels to the site on the west side of Nebraska Avenue close to downtown Tampa.