The U.S. complaint about the health issues originated in 2016 during the Obama Administration when the two governments were working together toward rapprochement. As acknowledged by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Cuban government responded immediately and initiated an investigation, inviting the U.S. government to cooperate. The only people affected were a few US diplomats in Cuba, and it has been rumored that they were undercover CIA. Regardless, Cuba would have no reason to intentionally harm these embassy workers, as they had only to gain by the opening of diplomatic relations.
Despite what some media outlets have implied, none of the more than 500,000 U.S. visitors to Cuba this year have reported similar health issues. Tillerson said last October, “We have no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected…”.
At the invitation of Cuban authorities, the FBI went to Havana seeking evidence of what the U.S. described as “sonic attacks” resulting in hearing loss and other symptoms. However, its agents found no devices or other evidence to explain the mystery.
You can learn more about the issue by reading the following Snopes article, “Do ‘Sonic Weapons’ Adequately Explain ‘Health Attacks’ on Diplomats in Cuba?“
Yes, actually. The recent change to the US Treasury law that regulates travel to Cuba mainly affects individual travel to Cuba.We specialize in small-group tours. The new law explicitly states that US travelers must go with a licensed tour group when using the Educational People-to-People travel exception, and that the tour company carries the burden of evidence for you. There are other exceptions, but they are more complex and require travelers to prove that they led a “full schedule” of activities related to the rule exception.
Additionally, US citizens may not work with military-owned tour agencies in Cuba. Soltura Cuba Travel never has. While this does affect the large US tour companies who were contracting with military-owned tour agencies to organize their tours, we are unaffected by this change. Instead of staying in government-run hotels, we put our clients up in high-end bed-and-breakfasts, run by friendly Cuban families.
We’ve always preferred to keep things simple. We don’t believe that you can truly experience a culture through the window of a tour bus.
Traveling to Cuba with Soltura Cuba Travel will allow you to visit Cuba legally, as we are authorized to organize Educational People-to-People Travel, as defined by the OFAC 31 CFR § 515.565(b). We provide you with a document verifying that you traveled to Cuba legally with us, and we will save records of your travel itinerary for up to five years in case the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) requests proof of your legal travel to Cuba.
Unfortunately, it will legally take an act of Congress to end the US embargo against Cuba. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) continues to tightly regulate legal travel to Cuba. The maximum penalty for traveling to Cuba illegally is $84,000, but it usually mitigated and settled, ranging from a warning letter to between $1000-$10,000 fine. Additionally, a few banks are still freezing and investigating assets related to Cuba travel.
Verizon currently works in Cuba, and AT&T, Sprint, and TMobile may be available by the time you get there, as well. They have signed agreements. It will be expensive to use your phone in Cuba. Calls will typically cost $2 – $3 per minute, texts around 50 cents, and data around $2 – $3 per megabyte. Check with your provider.
Wi-fi is available in hotels and many parks. Most hotels will have computers that you can use, as well. Internet cards that come with a username and scratch-off password cost $2 – $3 for one hour of use, though some hotels charge as much as $10 per hour. Cards can be purchased from hotels or from licensed vendors in the park. You can log out and reuse the card again, until the one hour is exhausted, anywhere that offers the government-run internet service, called ETECSA. Internet is slower than you may be used to, but is currently more reliable than it was in years past.
Fortunately, Cuba is very proactive at controlling disease vectors, mobilizing the military to fumigate throughout the country at regular intervals. Currently there are many more cases of Zika in the U.S. than in Cuba.
There was a mild outbreak of Dengue a few years ago, but that is under control now.
Some travelers like to get up to date on Tetanus and Hepatitis A immunizations before they go to Cuba.
Contrary to popular belief, Cuban food is not spicy. Cubans detest spicy food. In fact, you will find that Cuban food may sometimes be on the salty side, mildly seasoned with cumin, coriander, and bay leaf.
Every morning before the group meets, you can start your day right with a generous breakfast of tropical fruit, eggs made to your preference, toast, juice, and coffee or tea.
We will eat at restaurants for most of our other meals, and years of experience has educated us on which restaurants are the best, and which are to be avoided. Pork is the most commonly eaten protein, followed by chicken, fish, shrimp, rock lobster, sometimes goat, and rarely beef, due to scarcity.
Dishes are usually accompanied by white rice, arroz congris, or morros y cristos, the latter two being complex rice and bean combinations. Fried plantains and bit of shredded cabbage garnish most dishes, as well.
Save room for flan!
You can find our trip itineraries here. Know that while we may follow this basic itinerary on your trip, we at Soltura Cuba Travel like to personalize things, and we may add items to your program if we see something on your Personal Information Form that stands out. Additionally, what is available once we are in Cuba might vary. Such is the nature of the island nation of Cuba. Flexibility is key.
No worries. After you have booked your trip, we will send you a packet of information at the address that you have provided us. This will include a recommended reading list, a list of great Cuban films, and some general information to help you to be more informed about Cuba before you go. For now, go ahead and pick up a copy of the newest edition of Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know by Julia Sweig or Tom Miller’s Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro’s Cuba. If you’re in the mood for a good flick, check out Fresia y Chocolate (Strawberry & Chocolate) and 7 Days in Havana.
Even though we have curated a specialized travel experience that includes more than what you might find in other Cuba travel programs, you will find that our prices fall within the inexpensive to average range. Quality doesn’t suffer because have a very small staff, and we only do Cuba.
We offer a few different travel themes to choose from that each have their own costs, ranging from $1790 – $3295. Single travelers who do not have a travel partner to share a room with will pay an additional single supplement fee. We can offer rooms with two beds upon request. We cover all costs for group activities, including all meals, ground transportation, lodging, entry fees into museums and entertainment venues, guides, translators, bottled water, and any other fees that may accrue for group activities.
Most of our itineraries include bed and breakfast stays. Called “casa particulares” in Cuba, these offer better accommodations than most Cuban hotels, and allow travelers a glimpse into Cuban life. Each room has A/C and a private bathroom.
We have carefully vetted all of the accommodations for quality, cleanliness, and friendliness, and we have worked with most of these lovely people for years. Every morning before the group meets, you can start your day right with a generous breakfast of tropical fruit, eggs made to your preference, toast, juice, and coffee or tea.
For those itineraries that do include hotel stay, accommodations are in world-class hotels that meet our high standards for quality.
The rainy season is in full effect from June through October. Fortunately, the rain storms are fairly predictable, occurring in the late afternoon or early evening, after we have completed the day’s activities.
Cuba from November through May is idyllic, and that’s the window in which our trips tend to fill up the fastest.
To keep our travelers safe, our trip dates and locations fall outside of the general risk of hurricane exposure. Additionally, most of our trips take place around Havana, which has historically been bypassed by nearly every hurricane that has ever hit the region.
Cuba has a robust internal security force, and cameras on many street corners. The penalty for committing crimes against tourists is very high. Cuba is quite safe. However, travelers should be aware of the potential for pickpockets in crowded areas, as is the case the world over.
Yes! The recent changes in US policy now allow you to bring back Cuban alcohol and tobacco products for personal use (not for resale). Many of our travelers find great deals on artwork, as well.
For that kind of fun you can go to any old beach around 23 degrees of the equator. What sets Cuba apart from other places is its unique social/cultural/historical place in time. Cuba shines because of the way its people interact. We will experience all of Cuba’s beauty – not just the beaches.
For our US travelers, we completely abide by OFAC regulations, and we ensure that what you do in Cuba is completely covered by the law. We will get to know Cuba through its people, and we will be inspired by Cuba’s artistic expression and social achievements by visiting community projects that we help support. Don’t worry – there will be also time for sun, beach, and sea. You will have the time of your life.
Upcoming trip dates can be found here. Note that because we keep group sizes small, popular trip dates can sometimes sell out quickly.
We are also happy to curate a personalized trip. For more information on that, please contact us at 1-888-833-8102 or email@example.com .
Never a bad idea to be able to speak some words of the place you are visiting. However, please do not let it be a matter of worry, as we will offer Spanish-English interpreters and guides with us nearly the entire time we are in Cuba.
You may have heard about Cuba’s fantastic health system. Due to their fame in public health access, tourists started inadvertently draining the system. We recommend purchasing travel insurance that will cover you in the event of a medical emergency. Cuba now requires visitors to have travel health insurance, and they randomly ask for proof of insurance at the airport. If you do not have travel health insurance, you can purchase it from Asistur upon arrival at the airport in Cuba for about $4/day.
Even without insurance, an ambulance trip to urgent care, x-rays, a visit with a specialist, and a prescription in total will cost less than $200 for foreign travelers in Cuba.
If you need to call the US while you are in Cuba, know that it will be expensive. If it is imperative that you call the US, the owner of your bed and breakfast will happily to assist you, or you can go to a hotel and ask the front desk to make the call for you. Additionally, I will provide you with a list of phone contacts in Cuba to share with anyone who might need to reach you immediately.
Email is the better option for communicating between Cuba and the US. Internet is expanding, but currently it is available primarily in hotels and a handful of public wi-fi hotspots. One can usually purchase a one-hour internet card, which can be broken up into different periods while you are in Cuba. The Cuban government recently reduced the price to $2/ hour, depending on the hotel you buy it from. Note that these can sometimes be difficult to obtain, so let us know in advance if internet access is important to you, and we’ll be sure to secure you some internet cards.