You can fly legally from the United States to Cuba only if you’re traveling with a licensed travel service provider. The tour companies arrange the charter flight. Either the fare is rolled into the total price or you pay for it on top of the land package fee. The short round-trip flight from Miami to Havana is about $500. The companies also procure the visa; you bring the passport.
The company offers two trips to Cuba: the eight-day Colors of Cuba and the five-day Discover Havana. The next Havana package departs April 25; pay $2,199 per person if you book by March 21. Includes round-trip air from Miami.
A number of trips to the capital and around the country, plus themed tours. The four-day Weekend in Havana starts at $1,695 per person double; next available departure, April 26. Air from Miami not included.
National Geographic Expeditions
The 10-day Cuba: Discovering Its People and Culture tours, from $5,095 per person double, are waiting list only through May. Air is extra. Sign up for advance notice of new dates.
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Eight-day tour to Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos, departing from Miami on March 25. Cost: $5,095 per person double, with airfare.
●Cuba imposes a high tax on exchanging U.S. dollars for the convertible peso (CUC). There is no tax on exchanging euros or Canadian dollars for CUC, or exchanging CUC back to U.S. dollars. (To avoid the surcharge, I changed my dollars into euros at the Miami airport for a $7.50 flat fee.)
●Because of the embargo, Americans may bring back only approved souvenirs, such as educational materials, art and books; rum and cigars are not allowed.
●Cuban businesses do not accept U.S. credit cards and ATM cards. Be sure to bring enough cash with you.
●Donations to schools, medical centers and other facilities are welcome. Pens, notebooks, toiletries, etc., are much appreciated.
●Bring extra toilet paper or tissues. Public bathroom stalls often have no stash. You can “buy” a square from an attendant.