Visiting Cuba is an exciting albeit confusing proposition. There are lots of questions worth asking, and some answers are more complicated than others, but we’ve done our best to tackle them all here.
What does Support for the Cuban People (SCP) mean?
In a nutshell, SCP is one of twelve categories of travel Americans must undertake to visit Cuba. It means genuine interaction with real Cubans, with the activities you partake in supporting them and not the government. We’ve worked hard to ensure our activities are not typical cookie-cutter excursions.
What constitutes SCP travel?
To comply with travel regulations as of March 5, 2018, you must maintain records that show a full-time schedule of activities with meaningful interaction between yourself and Cuban locals. This is YOUR responsibility, but it simply means you should keep your itinerary of our adventure on record for five years (like keeping tax records for audit purposes), and make your own notes on the documents we provide to you.
Unfortunately, Americans are longer able to book pre- or post-tour days in Cuba. You must depart the country on the final day of your tour.
Why is OUT Adventures – a Canadian company – subject to US Jurisdiction?
We actually aren’t, but our operating partner is. We’ve run Gay Tours to Cuba together since 2009, but since our partner just opened a US office, and we have a full-time Support for the Cuban People schedule, our tour is legal. As an added bonus, the strength and length of our relationship means we won’t subject you to the hefty markups that other LGBT operators might.
How do I ensure the government knows the tour is legal?
We always recommend carrying a copy of your official itinerary in addition to your own notes from the tour – and your medical travel insurance (which we include).
Upon returning to the USA, US immigration seldom, if ever, asks to see documentation, but we recommend having the following handy:
- a copy of the aforementioned itinerary
- your notes from the trip (using a template OUT Adventures will provide)
- an affidavit or letter that clearly states which category you are traveling under (Support for the Cuban People). We’ll provide our passengers with an appropriate affidavit.
What kind of visa do I need?
You’ll require a tourist card, or visa as it’s been recently called. This card is purchased prior to arriving in Cuba, and most airlines include the card with your flight (Air Canada, Aeromexico), while others require you to purchase it at check-in (Cubana). Still others will require that you obtain the card on your own, and they’ll let you know if that’s the case at the time of booking. One of our team members will be happy to assist you if you have questions.
Can Cuban-born Americans use the same Tourist card?
No. There are specific visa requirements for Cuban-born Americans. Please contact one of our Adventure Specialists for more details.
Will I have free time during the tour?
Technically, no. You are required to maintain a full-time schedule (which we have planned for you), and there are no free days on our legal Support for the Cuban People Gay Tour, but we promise our activities will be meaningful, fun, and even relaxing.
Can I fly directly from the US to Cuba?
Yes, but there aren’t a ton of options. Houston, New York City, Atlanta, Miami and Charlotte enjoy direct daily flights courtesy of Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways among others. If you live elsewhere, you’ll likely have a layover in one of the aforementioned cities.
How do your prices compare to other tour operators?
We believe in value, but that doesn’t mean we’re cheap! Firstly, we stay at Casa Particulares, or Cuban homestays, rather than at government-managed hotels. Our trip also includes most meals, tours, some gratuities, and a full-time guide. And finally, we pay our partners and suppliers fairly, so it all adds up to saving you money while properly supporting the locals. All said and done, we have the most affordable Gay Cuba Tour out there that qualifies as legal for Americans.
Is your tour for everyone?
Definitely not, and we’re the first to admit it. We’re all for luxurious accommodations (and offer them in nearly every other country we visit), but as mentioned above, Cuba’s four-star hotels leave much to be desired.
What are accommodations like on this tour?
We stay at some of Cuba’s best homestays! Click here to read our blog post on where we eat and sleep.
What currency is used in Cuba?
There are two Cuban currencies: the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). For tourists, the CUC is used for nearly everything, and is on-par with the US Dollar. The CUP is used to pay locals, which buys them basic necessities at local bodegas.
Can I exchange US Dollars to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) in Cuba?
Yes, but unlike other currency exchanges with Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC), there’s a 10% fee. Some travelers choose to exchange USD for foreign currencies such as the Canadian Dollar (CAD) and then exchange that for free. Many Americans prefer to skip the hassle and prefer to eat the 10% fee to exchange USD on arrival.
Can I get CUC before arriving into Cuba?
No, as the CUC is not exchangeable in foreign markets.
Can I use my American credit card or debit card?
Currently not, so you’ll need to bring all the cash you need on the trip with you. Since all activities and most meals are included, you won’t spend much, but we recommend bringing the equivalent of at least $1000 USD in either CAD, MXN, GBP or EUR to ensure you have enough funds.
Are there any spending limits for authorized U.S. travelers while in Cuba?
There is no specific dollar limit on authorized expenses like living costs and goods purchased for personal consumption while on the island, but you can only bring merchandise totalling less than $400 into the United States – as accompanied baggage – provided no more than $100 of that merchandise is alcohol or tobacco products, and the merchandise is imported for personal use only. For more detailed information, review the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) website.
Can I purchase Cuban cigars, Cuban rum or other alcohol while in Cuba?
There is no limit on the amount of money you can spend in Cuba, but as mentioned, you can only bring merchandise totalling less than $400 into the United States – as accompanied baggage – provided no more than $100 of that merchandise is alcohol or tobacco products.
Are meal or food sensitivities a challenge?
Yes and no. While the country’s food supply is improving, the paladares (restaurants) in rural areas may not be able to meet dietary restrictions, mainly due to lack of education. However, your Group Leader will ensure your dietary restrictions are met, although it may translate into a basic meal in some cases. If you have specific dietary restrictions, it’s best to bring along supplements, just in case.
What should I pack?
We outline a detailed packing list on our Cultural Cuba Gay Tour Trip Notes page. Just click here, then select “What to Bring” from the menu.
Still have questions? Check out our trip notes on our Cuba Gay Tour page, or contact us at 1-866-360-1152. This post was last updated on March 5, 2018.