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Exchanging Money in Multiple Cuban Ports

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We are on an upcoming 10 day Intensive Cuban trip on the Journey.  We have been reading up on CUC conversion, but still have a question.

 

Our ship is making 3 stops, Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba.  We know about the conversion booths in the Havana pier, but no one seems to have mentioned the other two terminals.  We assume there are booths there as well, but wonder if anyone who has stopped in either Cienfuegos and/or Santago de Cuba, can assure us that we can change money there as well. 

 

In addition to the Journey making multiple stops, Azamara has been canceling/changing our excursions and the Azamazing evening location, which means the possibility oif more last minute changes from a ship-trip to a private or solo activity that may require additional CUCs from what we have planned.  

 

Thanks for the help.

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I exchanged usd for cuc in all three ports this past March. There is an official exchange house at each pier. 

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1 hour ago, BBMacLaird said:

I exchanged usd for cuc in all three ports this past March. There is an official exchange house at each pier. 


Bonnie thanks for this. I was going to just get all the cash I would need in Havana. Now I have options.

Norris

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I found lots to,spend money on. I had several meals out, taxi, classic car on my own. Plus I git rum. Toured the ballet, went to a show.  List was endless. But I eat local.

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Thanks for the useful info, all.  We are planning a combo of ship and private excursions, so need a bit more ready CUCs.  Also Azamara is making several last minute changes/ cancellations of excursions we had planned with them and we may need a bit more local money than we thought.  Both ours at the end of Nov and the one just prior have had this issue and we are not certain what may happen even after boarding.  But we plan to have a great trip and will roll with it! 

 

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Hi, we are on the journey right now and visited santiago, cienfuego and havana, in that order. Changing money was super easy, santiago’s booth was right after passport control and there was also a booth across the street. It took no more than literally one minute, but i am sure it depends on the number of people in port. We did not exchange money in cienfuego, because i had enough cucs. In havana, there are several counters in the terminal after passport control and it also was very quick. 

We also had a mix of ship and private excursions. To be honest, this time around the shore excursion desk seemed a bit discombobulated, there were a whole bunch of miscommunications due to changes/cancellations of tours. Letters sent to the cabin had wrong meeting places/times, as did messages left by shore excursions on our cabin phone. A couple we met was not informed of change in departure time and missed their excursion. Be on your toes and you will be fine with your ship excursions, read the letters sent to your cabin and compare to the tickets that are attached. You will  know that it is a mistake when they tell you that dinner will be served in the windows cafe on deck  5 before you depart for your evening excursion.  This cruise there were lots of these “small” mistakes in information put out, from typos to mix-ups, maybe due to lack of QA, we never had experienced this before.    We still had a great cruise,  we went with the flow and it worked out just fine. Cuba is a wonderful place, i hope you will have fun

 

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Thank you so much for all the current information. We board this Saturday.  Yes, there have been lots of changes, many last minute, and we figure more may come.  But we will be vigilant and follow your excellent advice.  It sounds as if you “ went with the flow” and I am so glad you had a great experience. 

 

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On 11/19/2018 at 3:13 PM, petsgalore said:

Hi, we are on the journey right now and visited santiago, cienfuego and havana, in that order.


Question- was that the originally scheduled port order? My cruise in January is the reverse and I wouldn't have it any other way as I have local excursions booked in each port.

Norris

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Bimmer09, it was when i booked, but i only booked approx 3 months before the cruise. I heard that there had been an itinerary change at some point but i don’t know what it was.

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9 hours ago, eyemd1 said:

Can anyone suggest good private shore excursion companies in the 3 ports?

The best sources of information are the CC Ports of Call -> Caribbean -> Cuba forum and Tripadvisor.

Blexie always seems to get most mentions on here for Havana, but there are lots of alternatives a few of whom are more highly rated on Tripadvisor.

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We exchanged money in each port.  Just be sure to request a receipt.  Our guide said there had been some shenanigans with tourists getting short changed at the conversion booths - their computer states the amounts and conversion rates and will print the receipt.  Tell then you want a receipt.

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Conversion is very easy.  Just have CLEAN newer bills with no writing or marking on it.  You will get CUC87.50 for US$100.00.  for US$ there is a 10% fee deducted when the conversion is done.  We actually found a lot of very nice souvenirs and gifts to bring back for family and friends.  We were very pleasantly surprised.  There is a nice market on Bishop Street and a huge market on a pier not too fare from where the ship is docked.  I actually had to exchange several times 🙂

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  • When exchanging money, I'm wondering if it's better to have larger USD denominations to exchange, meaning 100s, or are 20s just as acceptable.  I'm asking because when we tried to exchange money in the Buenos Aires airport they would not accept our $100 bills.  We then had to search out a "money exchange" in the city who would accommodate us. 

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2 minutes ago, IWillGoAnywhere26 said:
  • When exchanging money, I'm wondering if it's better to have larger USD denominations to exchange, meaning 100s, or are 20s just as acceptable.  I'm asking because when we tried to exchange money in the Buenos Aires airport they would not accept our $100 bills.  We then had to search out a "money exchange" in the city who would accommodate us. 

there is absolutely no problem changing US$100.00.  In fact, that is really what they prefer.  Again however, they MUST be clean crisp bills, no writing or any marks on them

 

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One more question regarding exchanging money.  On our first day in Havana we are doing an Azamara excursion, The Best of Havana.  Will we have time to exchange money before going on the ship's excursion? Thought someone who cruised to Cuba recently might know. Thanks!

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1 hour ago, IWillGoAnywhere26 said:

One more question regarding exchanging money.  On our first day in Havana we are doing an Azamara excursion, The Best of Havana.  Will we have time to exchange money before going on the ship's excursion? Thought someone who cruised to Cuba recently might know. Thanks!

 

As you walk through the Havana cruise terminal, on the way to your tour bus, the official exchange office is front and center. When I was there last March it was always manned with 2-4 tellers, but big enough for many more tellers, depending upon arrival #’s I suppose. The line always moved quickly.

Here are a couple snapshots...

330FAD8B-0AD3-407A-82AC-D6DCE895D241.jpeg

A3C064F7-952D-4E4C-ABF6-DD32F52DC6C6.jpeg

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If you are on a b2b cruise (or one with several stops in Cuba) is it permissible to change what you need for several days and bring the surplus back onboard with you

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9 minutes ago, uktog said:

If you are on a b2b cruise (or one with several stops in Cuba) is it permissible to change what you need for several days and bring the surplus back onboard with you

 

9 minutes ago, uktog said:

If you are on a b2b cruise (or one with several stops in Cuba) is it permissible to change what you need for several days and bring the surplus back onboard with you

Yes you can. I had left over money and used it for tips. The crew do not care as thry go out a lot at night. Ann, if I had left over money I can bring it home but no way to exchange it. Also you get less money back so better to spend it or  use as tips.

 

 

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I am looking to use it in the subsequent ports and I am looking to see if this is permissible as I know at the airport it can be confiscated.  I would never tip in local currencies that are restricted.

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you can definitely bring it on board.  We purchased it at our first stop and used it at all three stops.  We even brought some home as a souvenir since it cannot be used or converted anywhere outside of Cuba.

 

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6 hours ago, Phxazzcruisers said:

you can definitely bring it on board.  We purchased it at our first stop and used it at all three stops.  We even brought some home as a souvenir since it cannot be used or converted anywhere outside of Cuba.

 

Thanks that’s what I needed to know 

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