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I have been to Cuba a couple of times, staying at all inclusives and it is well known among Canadians that you don’t go empty handed. Both times we took a suitcase full of “stuff” that is in short supply.

You are right about the ball caps. Also many things that we take for granted are welcomed. Toothpaste, tooth brushes, lipstick, pens, pencils , paper, crayons, jeans, socks, chewing gum, balls, small toys——-I’m sure you get the picture.

We used to leave gifts on the bed for the maid each morning. I gave our waitress in the buffet a bag of school supplies and she broke into tears.

So any useful items that you can think of would be most welcome.

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Since I will be going only for 2 days on a cruise ship stopover, to whom would it be appropriate to give these items? I am thinking that the guides for sure, but do you have any idea whom else we might "bump" into while visiting? Thank you for the ideas.

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Why would you give a gift to a stranger in Cuba? Consider that their system is the best on earth (according to their government) and all their people have everything they could ever want. Giving them a handout would be a real insult. And given the wonderful Cuban Democratic process....giving a gift might even be considered a crime...or mark you as a spy.

 

Hank

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Not just in Cuba, but all over the world, service workers are paid very poorly. The best "gift" for them, is money. With that they can actually purchase the necessities for their life. Often that is food or medicine. Trinkets just don"t cut it in my mind.

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Why would you give a gift to a stranger in Cuba?

 

Hank

 

Maybe to enhance to feelings of working Cubans towards North Americans. I have no love for the Cuban government but see no reason not to offer token gifts to a society that is very economically deprived.

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We just returned from an Oceania cruise that overnighted in Havana and also stopped in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. It was an eye opening experience. IMO, not everyone in Cuba feels deprived and wants to change the system. My advice is to go without any pre-conceived opinions. An American baseball cap may or may not be welcome (since American teams "steal" their best players).

 

Oceania also warned us not to take large amounts of gifts (in a suitcase for instance) because the government feels all the needs of its citizens are being met by the government. In a warped way, It is viewed as insulting to the host country. Obviously someone on a previous cruise got into trouble.

 

You'll meet all kinds of people. Just don't expect everyone to think the way you do.

 

 

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We just returned from an Oceania cruise that overnighted in Havana and also stopped in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. It was an eye opening experience. IMO, not everyone in Cuba feels deprived and wants to change the system. My advice is to go without any pre-conceived opinions. An American baseball cap may or may not be welcome (since American teams "steal" their best players).

 

Oceania also warned us not to take large amounts of gifts (in a suitcase for instance) because the government feels all the needs of its citizens are being met by the government. In a warped way, It is viewed as insulting to the host country. Obviously someone on a previous cruise got into trouble.

 

You'll meet all kinds of people. Just don't expect everyone to think the way you do.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

You are quite correct that not all Cubans, perhaps not even the majority, want to change a system that avoids personal responsibility and relies on government handouts for their very existence. I would imagine these folks would also be very appreciative of "handouts" from tourists. I would also agree that taking a suitcase, e.g. large amounts of gifts, is also imprudent although Cuban Americans who visit Cuba typically do so for their friends and relatives. That being said, bringing a few token items to express appreciation for a service rendered will do no harm and most likely will foster better relations between our two countries. The Cuban government is not likely to have a problem with this whereas holding U.S. currency by native Cubans violates Cuban law. Bottom line: Use common sense.

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As a frequent traveller to Cuba(large cities.countryside,small towns,farms) I would like to share some of my experiences with tipping in Cuba. Some folk won't agree with me and my experiences are not your of course.Twenty years ago(my second of nine trips to Cuba) I met with a group of priests,educators,community workers and reps from three of the major hotels). All told me the country was awash with dollar store items, Canadian tire items,jewellery and various nic nacks. They did nothing to improve anyones way of life. They told me that some maids had literally thousands of like items. The hotel reps said that the garbage bins would be full of these donations as they were so commonplace back then. Now it is the US's turn to start bringing this stuff now. There was also concern if anything was truly valuable a black marker situation could develop.Hotel staff in particular are instructed to show great gratitude for these gifts.The priests and educators were very thankful for supplies but were adamant that these donations should go the schools or orphanages not directly to kids or even parents.They do not want tourists just showing up on their own. By all means give it to your guide as they know where to bring them.Giving Cubans foreign money is also an issue. It is very difficult to have the means to have this money exchanged by the locals. You probably wont have the time to change your money into CUCs.The rule of thumb encouraged by the people I met with was treat people you interact with in Cuba the same way you treat folk back home. Don't approach children, don'r bring junk food for the kids(sugar is horrible and you have no idea of allergies).When I first started travelling to Cuba there was no begging at all on the streets.Us well meaning tourists have created this.Another reason not to approach people on your own is that these gifts for one can create animosity from others who didn't get the soccer ball or whatever. So yes. be generous and get that warm feeling from helping others but please be cautious when doing so. Your guides that you establish a relationship will love anything to do with baseball.I truly hope I have not come across as offensive. Happy travelling.

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Canadians have been travelling to Cuba for many, many years. Probably one of the top vacation destinations in the winter for Canadians. We always take things to give away to the staff of the resorts. Women love all cosmetics/hair products. For men, baseball caps, t-shirts, etc. These lovely people are so appreciative of anything you give them. We also slip them some cash (U.S.) on our departure. Cubans are wonderful people and so deserving of your kindness.

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Not just in Cuba, but all over the world, service workers are paid very poorly. The best "gift" for them, is money. With that they can actually purchase the necessities for their life. Often that is food or medicine. Trinkets just don"t cut it in my mind.

That’s just it. They can’t purchase the necessities of life because they aren’t available even if they have money That’s why they love to receive the stuff they can’t find in stores there.

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again your invaluable gifts at the All Inclusives are going to the same people over and over..Medical specialists are leaving their occupations and arel going to the resorts to work due to getting these over the top tips.The hard to get items need to be re=distributed to those who need it the most. You are not meeting these people on controlled excursions or staying at all inclusives. The myth of thinking you are really helping the needy is false. We all like to pat ourselves on the back but you should be giving to the ones who know their people the most. Lipstick, perfume t shirts are in abundance these days. I know I wont convince many on thus forum but I do know of what I speak of.

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My two cents.

 

Take a look at where the posters come from. We Canadians have been going to Cuba for years - so someone like sapper1 or LadyArwen or others from Canada offer good info from experience.

 

Now, are rules different because you are coming of a cruise ship? Maybe, but I doubt it. We ( as in a lot on the roll call) carried supplies for a school on our Panama cruise. There's a discreet, subtle way to do things and a bigger "showy way". (We didn't ask HAL for help other than extra HAL bags - which we were required to return) and walked off looking like typical tourists with a hat/towel disguising the "goodies". There were probably over 26 bags but my memory is short) We opted for the former, had no issues. And, if you could have seen the tears in the teacher's eyes, and the looks in the student's eyes, there was no question we got the gifts to the right place.

 

It's not hard to do really with a bit of research and unless things have changed dramatically, certain every day things we take for granted are still very appreciated in Cuba.

 

think basic and you will be amazed at the gratitude and appreciation.

 

 

 

.

Edited by kazu
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My two cents.

 

Take a look at where the posters come from. We Canadians have been going to Cuba for years - so someone like sapper1 or LadyArwen or others from Canada offer good info from experience.

 

Now, are rules different because you are coming of a cruise ship? Maybe, but I doubt it. We ( as in a lot on the roll call) carried supplies for a school on our Panama cruise. There's a discreet, subtle way to do things and a bigger "showy way". (We didn't ask HAL for help other than extra HAL bags - which we were required to return) and walked off looking like typical tourists with a hat/towel disguising the "goodies". There were probably over 26 bags but my memory is short) We opted for the former, had no issues. And, if you could have seen the tears in the teacher's eyes, and the looks in the student's eyes, there was no question we got the gifts to the right place.

 

It's not hard to do really with a bit of research and unless things have changed dramatically, certain every day things we take for granted are still very appreciated in Cuba.

 

think basic and you will be amazed at the gratitude and appreciation.

 

 

 

.

.As always, you say it much better than I can. Most people have no idea how little Cubans have and how much they appreciate receiving even the smallest gift. My father, many years ago, befriended a gentleman who was a car mechanic and he was in desperate need of tools. Next time my dad went to Cuba, he took some small tools that he could pack in his suitcase. His friend in Cuba cried, he was so happy because he could do more work and earn more money for his family.
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If you are visiting Havana on a cruise ship, you are pretty certain to have plenty of time to exchange your currency (whether dollars, euros, pounds, etc.) for CUCs. If you want to offer tips/gifts to Cubans with whom you come into contact, get a lot of CUCs. One things we found was the number of Cubans with whom we talked who could use help in converting foreign currency from visitors into CUCs which they can legally deal with without any problem. We heard that nice shampoos and other health/beauty products are appreciated but as always cash is king, especially if you can give CUCs.

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As a frequent traveller to Cuba(large cities.countryside,small towns,farms) I would like to share some of my experiences with tipping in Cuba. Some folk won't agree with me and my experiences are not your of course.Twenty years ago(my second of nine trips to Cuba) I met with a group of priests,educators,community workers and reps from three of the major hotels). All told me the country was awash with dollar store items, Canadian tire items,jewellery and various nic nacks. They did nothing to improve anyones way of life. They told me that some maids had literally thousands of like items. The hotel reps said that the garbage bins would be full of these donations as they were so commonplace back then. Now it is the US's turn to start bringing this stuff now. There was also concern if anything was truly valuable a black marker situation could develop.Hotel staff in particular are instructed to show great gratitude for these gifts.The priests and educators were very thankful for supplies but were adamant that these donations should go the schools or orphanages not directly to kids or even parents.They do not want tourists just showing up on their own. By all means give it to your guide as they know where to bring them.Giving Cubans foreign money is also an issue. It is very difficult to have the means to have this money exchanged by the locals. You probably wont have the time to change your money into CUCs.The rule of thumb encouraged by the people I met with was treat people you interact with in Cuba the same way you treat folk back home. Don't approach children, don'r bring junk food for the kids(sugar is horrible and you have no idea of allergies).When I first started travelling to Cuba there was no begging at all on the streets.Us well meaning tourists have created this.Another reason not to approach people on your own is that these gifts for one can create animosity from others who didn't get the soccer ball or whatever. So yes. be generous and get that warm feeling from helping others but please be cautious when doing so. Your guides that you establish a relationship will love anything to do with baseball.I truly hope I have not come across as offensive. Happy travelling.

 

Very interesting. Your comments and first hand experience make a lot of sense. While we haven't been able to travel to Cuba we would love to go there. Someday.

 

Dan

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I heard that the Cuban people love American baseball caps and I was thinking of bringing a few for our tour guides as gifts. Does anyone else no anything about this or have any suggestions?

 

I was in Cuba in July (with Royal Caribbean). Tip your guides in cash, preferably CUC’s. You can exchange currency in the cruise ship terminal. Cash is always welcome. Don’t assume your guide wants or needs hats, toiletries or other gifts. I had two guides while in Cuba, one was a retired Cuban airline pilot and the other a retired university history professor. Both extremely knowledgeable and professional and I can’t imagine giving either toiletries or a hat as a tip or gift. Cash is always appropriate and the perfect thank you for good service.

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Not just in Cuba, but all over the world, service workers are paid very poorly. The best "gift" for them, is money. With that they can actually purchase the necessities for their life. Often that is food or medicine. Trinkets just don"t cut it in my mind.

 

The situation in Cuba may be different because there are 2 currencies circulating in Cuba - CUP (Cuban Peso) which is the currency used by most Cubans and CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) which is the currency used by tourists. The CUP is worth much less in purchasing power than the CUC. If you leave a service worker 5 USD as a tip, that is convertible to 5 CUCs because the exchange rate is artificially fixed at 1 USD = 1 CUC. The worker can then take then take the 1 CUC and convert it to 25 CUPs which is what they spend at the store.

 

Many professionals in Cuba take jobs in the tourist industry because they are then paid in CUCs. If they had a job in their profession such as teacher or doctor, they are paid in CUPs which are worth less.

 

Sounds complicated and it is but the basic point is that if you leave a service worker 5 USD as a tip, that is a lot of money to her in local currency purchasing power

 

DON

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I think an American Baseball Cap would be great.

Baseball is very popular in Cuba and what a nice way to also recognized the USA along with those who you give it to.

Very nice and very thoughtful.

Keith

You may want to do some quick research on which MLB team the players below last played for and get hats for those teams:

 

Major League Baseball Players born in Cuba

Active During the 2017 Season

Jose Abreu

Yonder Alonso

-Yonder Alonso

Yoenis Cespedes

Aroldis Chapman

Odrisamer Despaigne

Aledmys Diaz

Yandy Diaz

Roenis Elias

Yunel Escobar

Adonis Garcia

Onelki Garcia

Yasmani Grandal

Yuli Gurriel

Adeiny Hechavarria

Adeiny Hechavarria

Guillermo Heredia

Jose Iglesias

Raisel Iglesias

Leonys Martin

Leonys Martin

Ariel Miranda

Yoan Moncada

Kendrys Morales

Yasiel Puig

Jorge Soler

Yasmany Tomas

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I have only been to Cuba on land based vacations. However, both times, I left behind any over the counter medications that I had taken with me. I gave them to the hotel doctor who was very appreciative as these are in short supply. Small bottles of Tylenol or Advil would be easy to take ashore in your pocket.

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