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About VidaNaPraia

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Salvador (Bahia, Brazil)/Boston

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  1. For regular land based US travelers, that is likely true. The cruise lines, however, can do what they deem fit regarding their passengers, perhaps in anticipation of the new guidelines. It does look, though, like cruises might just get special dispensation, at least in order to offer group excursions (buses are mostly owned by the state tourism company under the military tourism agency). It's really all speculation right now.
  2. Example (using rates from March 2017): U$1000 bought 888 Euros. (at BofA, including 5% transaction fee) 888 Euros bought 910 CUC in Cuba. U$1000 would have bought 870 CUC directly "Savings" of 40 CUC on U$1000. Worth the effort? Maybe for U$1000 spent. Worth it for U$4.00 savings on U$100? -------------------------------------------------------- Note: rate for Euro to CUC currently is a bit better (Rate for USD to Euro currently, up or down???) ------------------ Relative values: 40 CUC buys a very nice dinner and drinks for 2 4 CUC doesn't even buy 1 mojito in a tourist bar ------------------- The best rate of all for USD cash, as noted previously, may be with your casa particular host (if on a land based trip).
  3. Let's not confuse the situation any further. There have been NO new guidelines published. Therefore, nothing has changed. 45 made an announcement on June 16. He did not sign an executive order, or rescind any executive order. His announcement included his wishes for changes he would like to see made to policy regarding Cuba. No fixed timeline for those changes was mandated, just suggested, for various government offices to work on. Apparently after the new guidelines are published, there will be a 90 day period for commentary before they take effect. Until the new guidelines are in place, there are no changes to policies for travel to Cuba.
  4. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g147270-i91-k7342442-All_you_need_to_know_about_Cuban_currency-Cuba.html More good info from one of the Cuba experts/long-time posters.
  5. The exchange issue has been treated on this forum several times previously, but mostly focusing on exchanging to Euros vs. using US dollars. The salient point for overnight cruisers and other short term stay visitors who earn in US dollars is that those who spend very little money may not find the time and effort of exchanging US dollars to Euros or CDN worthwhile for the small savings. If you have leftover Euro or CDN currency from a trip, do think about bringing it to exchange, though. If you are planning a longer land based trip, planning on spending closer to U$1000, you might save (depending on exchange rates which change daily) about U$40 or so by exchanging to Euros in the US and then to CUC in Cuba. You have to do the math, based on the exchange rates at the time of departure. Recently 1 Euro has gotten between 1.04 and 1.13 CUC (as the exchange rate fluctuated). The fee to exchange any exchangeable currency (not all are able to be exchanged in Cuba) to CUC is 3%. The penalty imposed on changing US dollars to CUC (because of the difficulty the embargo causes for Cuba to trade in dollars) is 10%. This is only on buying CUC with dollars. As pbenjamin points out, there is only the 3% fee to change CUC back to dollars. The official rate of exchange for US dollars in Cuba is fixed at banks, cadecas and hotels at 87CUC for U$100. Note: Land based travelers staying at a casa particular may be able to exchange US dollars with their host or a trusted family friend for between 90 and 97 CUC for U$100 in a private transaction. This has the potential to be the best value exchange rate for dollars, better than Euros or CDN.
  6. Enjoy what? The chaos in Brazil? The negative articles? Those two articles IMO are just more hot air from the media. When they were all upbeat, it was clear to anyone who knew Brazil that it was too good to be true. Now they're selling newspapers by sensationalizing the bad news. The government had their chance beefing up the police presence in the neighborhoods, but the drug traffickers were allowed to escape (there is even video showing them), and too many corrupt police subsequently didn't win the residents' trust. Then the traffickers moved back in. However, on the street, it's really no different for tourists than it was, but tourism seems down and tour guides' income is suffering.. There is a severe economic crisis in Brazil. And you can hardly find a politician at any level that is not corrupt and still stuffing his pockets. That's where the country's money is going. One is as bad as the next, and the next, and the next. And wow, even Carnaval (samba schools, LIESA) was threatening cancellation. Now THAT's a real disaster, when cariocas can't even party. rsrsrsrsrsrs
  7. Chichen Itza would make for a grueling day, and lots of time on the bus. Our favorite ruin is Ek Balam, with a pyramid to climb, quite nearby CI, but the same time restraints hold. Coba also has a pyramid to climb and may be slightly closer to the island/Playa del Carmen. Tulum would be the closest of those mentioned. The location is spectacular, the history very interesting, but the ruins themselves, not so impressive as the others mentioned. You might contact a private transport/tour company like Yucatreks to see if they can get you to your ruin of choice and back with time to board the ship without stress. Because of the ferry leg, I too would probably advise the cruise excursion if you are risk adverse about being back on the ship on time. Have a great trip.
  8. ToursByLocals has rates and policies that are not extortionate for the local service providers they list. Or for tourists. Prices of services like this in Cuba are not likely to put you in harm's way if you carry cash to directly pay the local Cuban provider. Cuba is a cash economy. You choose to go to Cuba. Adapt to conditions there. Tommui987, by the time you get back from your coming trip, building on your significant prior personal experience in Cuba, certainly you will be the reigning Cuba expert here. Meanwhile, I'm on my way again. Hopefully the Cyclops to Cyclops reason for travel is valid.
  9. Well, the latest rumors are that it* was the Russians, so maybe the only restaurant to stay away from is Nazdarovie. LOL (* US diplomats have apparently suffered hearing loss,supposedly from some device, somewhere.) The information is all over the internet, not hard to find. People did not do their due diligence, so did not bother to even find out if they were within the law or not. Cuba issues you a TOURIST CARD, You are a TOURIST in Cuba, just like most of the other foreign visitors. Cuba isn’t going to "herd" any tourists anywhere. You really have some odd notions of how things are there. The "support for the Cuban people" category is probably not applicable to cruise ship passengers. Likely they will be part of a group P2P specific license.
  10. ..being a US and not a Cuban company, which may not qualify as an entity to use after the regs change. Maybe....The port is so new that few CRUISERS on THIS forum even know what options are available other than the ships main organized tours. Most other tourists are getting one of the many available guidebooks and reading the other Cuba travel forums on the internet (like Trip Advisor). Because US tourists have only been going in droves since September 2916 when direct commercial flights started, do not forget that the rest of the world has been traveling to Cuba for years. There is a huge tourist infrastructure. Seems like half the population of Canada is down there when it's cold at home. ;-)
  11. It's simply not that clear cut. How can the US government monitor citizens (approved guides, etc.) from another country with which it does not yet have 'normal' relations.? How (in what manner) would the guide be "approved"? By whom? With what proofs, written/attested by whom? Is the US Embassy going to start investigating every guide, restaurant, classic car owner, etc, etc who would need to be certified somehow? Is there funding for this? ------ Here's an excerpt from an article that addresses some of the problem: " How do I know if I’m spending money with a state-run business while I’m there? One of the biggest question marks related to this new policy is how it will be enforced. Julia E. Sweig, Cuba expert and author of Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Knows said, “This is all just completely untenable. The porousness between the state-run and private economy is very significant. It’s very hard to go to Cuba and not touch something the state touches as well.” Sweig added, “The chilling effect [of this policy] is not so much in terms of how Americans go but what it is they’re allowed to do and not do and what kind of audits they have to provide to the Treasury Department. That’s the chilling effect. Will they impose a daily dollar per diem on how much you can spend? But not have restrictions on how many souvenirs like cigars and rum that you can bring back? They don’t know the answer.” In other words, Americans traveling to Cuba will have to be very mindful of where they’re spending their money, and definitely hold onto any receipts."
  12. This is a US based company. It may not qualify as an entity future travelers can use.
  13. Well, until OFAC or whoever puts out guidelines, and if indeed those guidelines give any additional information, no one can answer that question. Can it be assumed that 8 hours is full time? Can't know for sure until someone is audited, OFAC approves their itinerary, and that person publishes what happened. (Currently OFAC isn't funded for staff to do lots of audits. They audited one commercial company last year; no individuals.) "Herded off and on"? Isn't that the definition of a cruise line excursion?
  14. It seems the new era may mean that the cruise line is responsible for ensuring that passengers activities fall under the guidelines for a specific license. How would they do this if everyone is wandering around on their own? All the current guidelines for the OFAC categories state: " The traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.", without currently defining "full-time schedule".
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