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Great questions.

1.  No health documents required, although, as I indicated, they may take your temperature when you get off the ship.  No need to drop trou.  They hold the thermometer up to your forehead.  Only takes a few seconds, and fortunately everyone passed.  I suppose they might haul you off to the infirmary if you have a fever.

 

2.  Because we entered Cuba on SeaDream, we could not buy tourist cards (visas) at the airport.  We could have purchased through a service before we left home, but for the first cruise only, SD offered to buy them for us.  It was available for advance purchase as a Land-Sea Adventure on the SD website.  You must have one, and you should be able to get it at at the airport at which you take your flight to Cuba.  You must take your passport with you when you are off the ship, and the visa must be in it.  It gets turned in when you fly out of Cuba.  If you don't have it, I guess you don't get to leave.

 

3.  CUCs are purchased at designated currency exchanges in certain cities.  I am sure you will have an opportunity to do so at the airport.  Theoretically, they are 1 to 1 for the US dollar, but they charge a 10% premium for dollars, that they do not charge for Euros.  We always have a bunch of Euros left over from previous trips, so that is what we used.  The 1 peso CUC was .87 Euros.  And the CUC is the only legal form of currency for tourists from any country.  All prices will be shown in CUCs.  You can also change back at the airport, but I think there is a fee for doing so.  We just spent what we had left at the duty free store.  We tipped guides and drivers in CUCs, although I think I saw some people doing it in dollars and euros.

 

4.  In some ports there is more than one tour that meets the requirement for US citizens.  Only one, however, is included in your cruise fare.  You are legally required to take a tour that satisfies the US requirement at each port.  You will be asked to sign a waiver that protects SD if you don't take a tour.  Nobody checked when we left to see if we did a tour, but it is a US requirement, and not a Cuban requirement.  It is suggested that you retain all records of your tours for 5 years, as well as the affidavit that you must complete on the SD website.  You keep the affidavit; SD did not ask for it.  It certifies you were on a People-to-People mission.  We didn't feel a need to pay extra for tours, although in Havana we did the afternoon vintage car tour and the after dinner cabaret trip to the Hotel Nacional.  My review of those will come soon.

 

5.  I think we had to buy the insurance because we arrived by boat.  If you have to buy it to get on the plane, I imagine that meets the requirement.

 

Best advice I have is that you should expect that things will not always go as planned.  We were the beta test group, and I expect that certain adjustments will be made for later sailings.  Again, details will be forthcoming.

 

Other advice is expect hot, sunny weather.  Hats and sunscreen are essential.  Streets, particularly in Trinidad, are really bad cobblestones.  Bring sturdy walking shoes.  We got by with no Spanish.  Everyone you meet will speak English.  They learn it in school every year from 4th grade on.  Plumbing is really second world.  Zimmy carried a roll of toilet paper in her bag.  In Havana, houses get water service for only 4 hours daily or every other day.  They all have water tanks on the roof, and you might see a person at the bano flushing the toilet with a pail of water when you exit.  Tip the attendant a CUC when you enter or leave.

 

Keep in mind that there is a lot of poverty, by our standards.  Doctors make $40 a month.  The government hands out food with ration cards.  Whatever you tip, it can really make a difference.  Be generous.

 

We were told that crime is not an issue.  You can see bars on all the windows, but it is because burglary is a problem.  We felt safe.  By the way, it is illegal to possess a gun in Cuba.

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Very helpful.  Many thanks for the thoughtful and helpful responses.  Much appreciated.

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The temperature scan is very common in Asia.  In China they use walk through devices that are also facial recognition.  We seem to be somewhat behind in the security screening in the US.  A shipmate who had travelled to China a lot said he was turned away for a 101F temp.  He went back through after putting rubbing alcohol all over his face and passed.  I guess most any system can be beaten at some point.  Glad you retained your trousers...😳🍸

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So, after Cayo Largo, we did Maria La Gorda, supposedly named after a fat lady who kept the pirates happy.  The compulsory tour was to a nature park and a small village.  The park "tour" consisted of a explanation at the visitor center of what they are doing as far as conservation.  We did not actually get to see the park, which was disappointing, but I was impressed with what we were told.  Sounded very environmentally progressive.  The village was interesting in that we saw how these people live without running water and other creature comforts.  They have electricity, and there were a couple of satellite dishes.  But otherwise very rustic.  One man has an apiary, and we went behind his house to see it.  He lit a cigarette and blew smoke on the hive to calm the bees, and then he pulled out a frame and cut up the honeycomb to pass around.  Really pure honey that was delicious.

 

Snorkeling and scuba were offered at this port, which is supposed to be a huge attraction.  There is a beautiful barrier reef and all diving must be with a guide and groups are limited in size.

 

Mostly if there were glitches, it was the Cuban bureaucracy, but there was one area where SD could have done better.  At both Cayo Largo and Maria La Gorda we were at anchor.  Because the waters were shallow, particularly at Cayo Largo, we were quite a distance from land and the tender ride was 20-30 minutes.  Compounding this was the fact that so many passengers were taking the complimentary tour that it became a logistical problem to get everyone ashore.  For one tour we used a life boat, which made it almost all the way to shore.  Almost.  We had to complete the trip by zodiac.  But the zodiac could not take everyone at once.  Coming back from Maria La Gorda after the tour, priority on the first tender was given to people who were then taking the dive or snorkel tours.  A small scene occurred when somebody was upset he had to wait for the second transfer.  To Matt's credit, he had the zodiac come out to get a second group back to the ship.

 

The life boat was repaired, and I expect that these logistical issues are being addressed on the subsequent cruises.

 

More later.  Adios for now.

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You are a tough taskmaster, Mr. Avery.  I thought I had weekends off.  I'm going to take this up with the union.

 

Havana - the highlight of the trip.  We arrived Sunday morning and we were one of two ships at the cruise terminal.  I believe that is all they can handle for now.  On Sunday, the other ship was the Viking we saw before.  A different ship on Monday, but can't remember what it was.  We did see a Pearl Seas ship when we were docked for Trinidad.  Although they say it is a luxury ship, I'm not so sure.  It looked like plastic balcony and deck furniture.  And the people on their excursion had to wear name tags.  One passenger from that ship was taken away by ambulance.  Hope she eventually made it back to the ship.

 

Oh, yeah, Havana.  Our compulsory tour was a bus/walking tour that really hit the highlights of the city.  Unfortunately, there is a lot to take in, and we couldn't stop at all the places we would have liked.  We did go to one alley that is the Community Cultural Project Callejon de Hamel.  It is a collection of small galleries with really off-beat art, mostly with themes reflecting the religions of Cuba.  We went to another gallery in a residential neighborhood.  It is Fusterlandia and is a wonderland of mosaics, using tiles salvaged from old buildings around the city.  Think of Gaudi, but on steroids.  We drove past the Museo de Revolucion, wishing we had hours to spend there.  Granma, the boat that Fidel and Che and 80 other revolutionaries came ashore on, is displayed in a glass enclosure you can see from the street.  Drove through what used to be the wealthy area of Havana.  The buildings look the same, just 60 years older with little maintenance.  You can imagine what the neighborhood looked like before the revolution.  Now, the buildings have mostly been taken over by the government.  Back to SD for lunch.

 

After lunch we took the Havana via Vintage Automobiles tour ($109/pp and not US compliant) which was really a thrill.  We had a convey of about 10 cars, two people per car) and had a two-hour drive through the city.  1951 Chevy convertible.  What a trip.  Our driver was our guide and you can tell he was proud of both his city and his car.  We saw several things we passed in the morning, but with the convertible I was able to take pictures.  We all got out at Revolution Square for pictures of the Jose Marti Memorial and surrounding buildings.  We stopped at the Hotel Malecon for mojitos and to see the beauty of the hotel that is still the crown jewel of the city.  The sun was shining and the wind blew through our hair as we drove along the Malecon, back to the ship.

 

After dinner we did the Cabaret by Classic Car tour ($139/pp and also not US compliant).  This time we had what our driver described at a 1950 Dodge, and I suppose there were probably a couple of pieces of it that at one time were attached to a 1950 Dodge.  But again, it was a convertible and a great ride.  Our destination was back at the Hotel Nacional for the cabaret show.  Dancing girls in colorful and scanty costumes with big headdresses, and dancing boys with the colorful ruffled sleeves.  Only thing missing was Ricky Riccardo.  The show ran for about two hours, which, as far as I was concerned, was about one hour and forty-five minutes too long.  Reminded me of sitting through the tango show in Buenos Aires.  After a while, it is just more of the same, just different music and costumes.  Nevertheless, the trip would not have been complete without it.

 

Left the ship Monday morning at 8:00 am to catch the 11:45 flight to Miami.  Allowed plenty of time because we weren't sure what we would have to do to get our painting our of the country.  Turns out we were directed to a desk along side the x-ray area where we bought an export permit for 6 CUCs.  No questions asked, and didn't have to open up the rolled up painting.  Getting to the airport, though, is not an easy matter.  No superhighways connecting downtown to the airport.  City streets with stoplights and traffic.  Rush hour, though, was going in the other direction, but it still took us 45 minutes to get there.  We had booked a car transfer through SD, but because of our many pieces of luggage (mostly Zimmy's; I travel in a backpack), we had to upgrade to a van.  They were right, though, we would have never gotten everything in one of the Peugeots.

 

Flights home were uneventful, but it was a shock being in Havana in the morning and Chicago in the evening.  But great to be back home.  Hope those who are on board after us have a great time.  Remember, expect the unexpected.

 

How's that, Jim?

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11 minutes ago, TrapperZimmy said:

You are a tough taskmaster, Mr. Avery.  I thought I had weekends off.  I'm going to take this up with the union.

 

Havana - the highlight of the trip.  We arrived Sunday morning and we were one of two ships at the cruise terminal.  I believe that is all they can handle for now.  On Sunday, the other ship was the Viking we saw before.  A different ship on Monday, but can't remember what it was.  We did see a Pearl Seas ship when we were docked for Trinidad.  Although they say it is a luxury ship, I'm not so sure.  It looked like plastic balcony and deck furniture.  And the people on their excursion had to wear name tags.  One passenger from that ship was taken away by ambulance.  Hope she eventually made it back to the ship.

 

Oh, yeah, Havana.  Our compulsory tour was a bus/walking tour that really hit the highlights of the city.  Unfortunately, there is a lot to take in, and we couldn't stop at all the places we would have liked.  We did go to one alley that is the Community Cultural Project Callejon de Hamel.  It is a collection of small galleries with really off-beat art, mostly with themes reflecting the religions of Cuba.  We went to another gallery in a residential neighborhood.  It is Fusterlandia and is a wonderland of mosaics, using tiles salvaged from old buildings around the city.  Think of Gaudi, but on steroids.  We drove past the Museo de Revolucion, wishing we had hours to spend there.  Granma, the boat that Fidel and Che and 80 other revolutionaries came ashore on, is displayed in a glass enclosure you can see from the street.  Drove through what used to be the wealthy area of Havana.  The buildings look the same, just 60 years older with little maintenance.  You can imagine what the neighborhood looked like before the revolution.  Now, the buildings have mostly been taken over by the government.  Back to SD for lunch.

 

After lunch we took the Havana via Vintage Automobiles tour ($109/pp and not US compliant) which was really a thrill.  We had a convey of about 10 cars, two people per car) and had a two-hour drive through the city.  1951 Chevy convertible.  What a trip.  Our driver was our guide and you can tell he was proud of both his city and his car.  We saw several things we passed in the morning, but with the convertible I was able to take pictures.  We all got out at Revolution Square for pictures of the Jose Marti Memorial and surrounding buildings.  We stopped at the Hotel Malecon for mojitos and to see the beauty of the hotel that is still the crown jewel of the city.  The sun was shining and the wind blew through our hair as we drove along the Malecon, back to the ship.

 

After dinner we did the Cabaret by Classic Car tour ($139/pp and also not US compliant).  This time we had what our driver described at a 1950 Dodge, and I suppose there were probably a couple of pieces of it that at one time were attached to a 1950 Dodge.  But again, it was a convertible and a great ride.  Our destination was back at the Hotel Nacional for the cabaret show.  Dancing girls in colorful and scanty costumes with big headdresses, and dancing boys with the colorful ruffled sleeves.  Only thing missing was Ricky Riccardo.  The show ran for about two hours, which, as far as I was concerned, was about one hour and forty-five minutes too long.  Reminded me of sitting through the tango show in Buenos Aires.  After a while, it is just more of the same, just different music and costumes.  Nevertheless, the trip would not have been complete without it.

 

Left the ship Monday morning at 8:00 am to catch the 11:45 flight to Miami.  Allowed plenty of time because we weren't sure what we would have to do to get our painting our of the country.  Turns out we were directed to a desk along side the x-ray area where we bought an export permit for 6 CUCs.  No questions asked, and didn't have to open up the rolled up painting.  Getting to the airport, though, is not an easy matter.  No superhighways connecting downtown to the airport.  City streets with stoplights and traffic.  Rush hour, though, was going in the other direction, but it still took us 45 minutes to get there.  We had booked a car transfer through SD, but because of our many pieces of luggage (mostly Zimmy's; I travel in a backpack), we had to upgrade to a van.  They were right, though, we would have never gotten everything in one of the Peugeots.

 

Flights home were uneventful, but it was a shock being in Havana in the morning and Chicago in the evening.  But great to be back home.  Hope those who are on board after us have a great time.  Remember, expect the unexpected.

 

How's that, Jim?

Haha, ok, I have cancelled your enrollment to the Ho-Hum Academy of Rapid Response Writing.  Sounds as if Havana was worth it.  Thanks for taking the time to culturally enrich the rest of us.🍸

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Ooops.  The stop in the afternoon for mojitos was at the Hotel Nacional.  Guess it was stronger than I thought.

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Trapper, thanks for taking the time to complete the trip summary.  A couple more questions:

 

1.  Are there compulsory excursions at each port?  Or once we do one are we good to go?  I assume we can do as many as we want but just not sure if we're looking at a requirement to do one or several.

 

2.  What is the disembarkation process like?  Is it like Europe or certain Caribbean ports where you can walk off the ship whenever you like (prior to 10 AM) and head to the airport?  Or is it like SJU or STT where passengers are summoned to the Main Salon at a specific time?  I assume the former since US CBP not involved but want to confirm.

 

Thanks.
 

Edited by ctbjr1309

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31 minutes ago, floridaag said:

Glad you hit Fusterlandia - that is amazing place

Thank goodness for digital cameras.  Would have shot roll after roll of film.  And it also had serviceable bathrooms. 😂

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1 hour ago, ctbjr1309 said:

Trapper, thanks for taking the time to complete the trip summary.  A couple more questions:

 

1.  Are there compulsory excursions at each port?  Or once we do one are we good to go?  I assume we can do as many as we want but just not sure if we're looking at a requirement to do one or several.

 

2.  What is the disembarkation process like?  Is it like Europe or certain Caribbean ports where you can walk off the ship whenever you like (prior to 10 AM) and head to the airport?  Or is it like SJU or STT where passengers are summoned to the Main Salon at a specific time?  I assume the former since US CBP not involved but want to confirm.

 

Thanks.
 

Compulsory excursion for each port. We took them, and we wanted to take them, but if you didn't, I think that SD made you sign something so they could show the US government that it wasn't SD's fault. They seem to be pretty serious about this. Almost all US passengers took the tours. By and large, the tours were good. I think the passengers were there to see Cuba. If they wanted to just sit on the ship (and nothing wrong with that) it would be easier and cheaper to go to SDI and take a more traditional Caribbean itinerary.

 

Disembarkation easy. Nothing like SJU or STT.

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1 hour ago, ctbjr1309 said:

Trapper, thanks for taking the time to complete the trip summary.  A couple more questions:

 

1.  Are there compulsory excursions at each port?  Or once we do one are we good to go?  I assume we can do as many as we want but just not sure if we're looking at a requirement to do one or several.

 

2.  What is the disembarkation process like?  Is it like Europe or certain Caribbean ports where you can walk off the ship whenever you like (prior to 10 AM) and head to the airport?  Or is it like SJU or STT where passengers are summoned to the Main Salon at a specific time?  I assume the former since US CBP not involved but want to confirm.

 

Thanks.
 

Americans had to take one qualified tour at each Cuban port.  And SeaDream had a complimentary tour at each of them that met the qualifications.  As I indicated, some were better than others, but all had quality guides.  If we were in a port for more than one day, only one tour was required.  That was significant for those of us on the first cruise, which did Trindad twice.  We were able to go into town on our own when we went back to Trinidad for the second leg.  There were two other classes of excursions.  Both were for a fee, but some qualified for the Americans and some didn't.  For instance, diving or snorkeling at Maria Gorda did not meet the requirements for US citizens, but a visit to a village school and tobacco farmer did.  Most of the excursions you have to pay for are in the afternoon, while the complimentary are in the morning.  The village school and tobacco farm, though, was a 7 hour tour.  Hope that explains it.  You can look at all the excursions on the website.  If you want one of the fee excursions, there is a 10% discount for booking on-line.  Caution: for Cuba, every excursion had a 72-hour cancellation period instead of the usual 24-hour.  Apparently, this is a Cuban requirement.

 

Disembarkation was easier than anywhere else we have encountered.  Because we had to carry our passports with us, we just walked off the ship.  At the pier, we went through a metal detector (which we had to do every time we got on or off in Havana) and our van was waiting for us.  Toni led us right to it and we were off to the airport.  We left at 8:00, which is when they were first setting out the luggage that had been picked up from the hall the night before.  Also, since we didn't get back from the Hotel Nacional until after midnight, SD was flexible as to when we had to put out our luggage.  I think we finished around 2am.  And we still had time for breakfast before we disembarked.  We were informed that if you wanted to disembark on Sunday night, you could do so, but advance arrangements had to be made with SD.

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Finished up in Cienfuegos this morning.....

 

About CUC's and CUP's....

 

The CUC is the connectable Cuban Peso....the "expensive money".

The CUP is the local Cuban currency that is paid out to the people from their government. 

 

The CUC's are needed by tourists and cubans alike to purchase anything "nice", beyond basic necessities like flour, rice, bread, and food rations.   For those basics the Cubans pay in CUP. You might think of the CUP's as food-stamps.    If the Cubans want luxury items from outside Cuba they too pay in CUC or an equivalent rate of CUP's exchange at around 25 CUP to 1 CUC.  Thus a 100 CUC item would also be priced at 2500 CUP and also out of reach for the average Cuban. 

 

There are  a few food stalls and small stores that take CUP, but they really don't have anything you want to buy. 

 

The Cubans are taxed heavily on CUC transactions. Classic car drivers pay a 750 CUC tax each month for their tourist license. 

Thus you're lucky to get a ride for 20CUC per hour if you bargain hard. 

 

Havana Club Rum 7 Year.... 19 CUC. per larger bottle.

Monte Cristo #2 cigars (10) in a box 78 CUC.

1 Beer 3 CUC

A good meal in a nice restaurant 40 CUC per person starter, main, drink , dessert.

Mojito in a nice place... 6 CUC.  (More in a famous tourist place where Hemingway got drunk) 

Taxi bargained in advance from CienFuegos to Santa Clara airport 40CUC in an older taxi. 

Port Mafia New taxi from Cienfuegos to Santa Clara airport 70-90CUC. 

Havana Airport to Old Havana ...Taxi's are a flat rate 25 CUC.

 

Other stuff....

 

Make reservations for nice restaurants in Havana. 

I felt very safe despite the poor living conditions the country. 

Paid 150CUC for a 6 hour tour including 2 hours in a classic car, 3 hour walking tour, 1 hour lunch break for two of us

in Havana. 

Bring some gifts for your guides....luxury soaps, cookies, nutella for their kids, ec. There simply isn't anything nice to buy with a $20 tip . A nice item is greatly appreciated. Clothing, ball caps etc. 

 

Both JetBlue and American have flights from Santa Clara.... 1:15 from Cienfuegos. You don't need to drive back to Havana. 

 

Santa Clara and Cienfuegos aren't all that nice. I'd stay in Havana rather than overnighting in those cities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Excellent explanation of the Cuban economic system, to the extent that anyone can explain it.  Maybe Orwell said it best.  All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.  They talk about unifying the two currencies, but I don't think anyone realistically expects that to happen.  Cuba really suffered from the fall of the Soviet Union.  A rich country could really turn Cuba around, and do itself some good at the same time, if it became the economic sponsor.  Right now, China is in the best position to do that.  We rode in tour buses that were as nice as any we've seen anywhere in the world, and they were all made in China.  One of the ironies is that Cuba was heavily populated by slaves brought from Africa to harvest the sugar cane.  Today, sugar is imported from France.  The only real exports from Cuba are minerals.  You see several freighters in the harbors, and they are not container ships.

 

Curious, Skysurfr, if any of the glitches we experienced on the maiden voyage were resolved by the following week.  Did you have a "splash?"  How were the tendering logistics?  And is the elevator still down, or is it going up yet?

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We skipped the Isl. Juventud stop as well. The official reason was that the pier wasn't ready. However, I suspect there's more to that story. 

 

When I told our guide in Havana about the Juventud stop, she frowned looked distressed and uneasy. Perhaps there's another issue on the island. government action? uprising? being used for something else?  Then again maybe it was just hard hit by weather. 

 

The Caviar Splash was done pool-side.  Thus far the cuban authorities aren't allowing any food off the boat. So, no beach bbq or caviar in the surf.  Also, no water toys brought to the beach.  With the extra time we had available after skipping a port, we enjoyed a nice at sea marina day, dinner topside, and dessert buffet by the pool.  We sat idle for about 7 hours just offshore of Trinidad. The weather was perfect and the sea was flat calm. 

 

I don't recall any real issues with the tenders. In Cayo Largo we tendered into one spot to do the tour. Then we took the local shuttle boat to the beach which was paid for by SeaDream .  From the beach, we were able to catch a SeaDream tender from a dock back to the boat. SeaDream also contracted with the beach bar for an open bar and also chairs and sun shades.  

 

Snorkeling:  

 

Maria la gorda- My self and a couple of others protested strongly and in fact refused to go on the snorkel / scuba excursion. The weather turned mean, the wind was upwards of 25 knots and rain was pouring down. The waves came up making for miserable and unsafe conditions.  If I was diving I might have tried to go, but snorkeling is miserable in rough conditions.  They finally cancelled it when the lightening started.  I'm a water sports instructor and love to snorkel, paddle, and kitesurf. I'm usually the last person out of the water. In this case I was the first person to say.... NO WAY!  We were not charged for the excursion. 

 

I. Junentud - Skipped the stop. 

 

Cayo Largo-  the beach is all sand as is the bottom and not really ideal to see coral or fish. I didn't see any rocky point or other areas that I wanted to explore. I asked the local beach guards and they told me the coral was far away.  

 

Trinidad- There is a snorkeling area on the ocean side of the bay. You can taxi around the bay in about 5 min or take the bikes and it's about a 20 min ride.  I found it too late to try but it looked great and I talked to a few people exiting the water and they said it was nice. Snorkeling Snack La Batea is the little road side restaurant and beach operations name.  If I went back I'd definitely give it a try. The owner charges 5 CUC for a chair and sun shade, will watch your bike, etc. 10 CUC and he will provide some snorkel gear. He told me that he's also wanting to trade beach time for hats clothing etc. It's marked on Google Maps. 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Snorkeling+Snack+"La+Batea"/@21.7710816,-80.0296013,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!1sAF1QipPLcZSi7FQYtPFvfCoTA1-VD6TNmfngzC52vuP_!2e10!3e12!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipPLcZSi7FQYtPFvfCoTA1-VD6TNmfngzC52vuP_%3Dw203-h152-k-no!7i3264!8i2448!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x8f2ae442eda9e0c5:0x67eb7506b2b15089!2sTrinidad,+Cuba!3b1!8m2!3d21.7960343!4d-79.9808143!3m4!1s0x8f2ae36aeadd6171:0xb314f3a05285fc89!8m2!3d21.7710816!4d-80.0296015

 

Sorry for that big link. 

 

Cienfuegos is a large port with industrial activity. 

 

 

Things to buy..... 

 

Not much is available.   Art work was very nice and for sale. Nick-nacks like key chains and other "junk".  There are no 7-11's etc. There are family operated shops, but you have to poke your head in the door to see what they have for sale. Bottled water is not used by the locals, so it's not so available outside the tourist areas. 

 

The prices on Rum and Cigars was the same at the airport on the way out as it was on shops in Havana etc.  

 

At the Santa Clara airport there are stores and a money exchange after security and passport control in the gate area. You can bring the rum you buy there onboard the airplane. You can't bring liquids through the security check point from outside. IF you are flying into the USA you won't be able to take your cabin bottles back in the cabin on the second flight. You will clear customs and have to go through security once again, so check the bottles in your luggage at that point. 

 

The Elevator was still inoperative. 

 

 

Finally on our taxi ride in an old russian car, we got a real taste of Cuba. We got into a horse drawn cart traffic jam. In one town along the way the horse carts easily outnumbered the cars. The taxi ride was as interesting as any tour. The driver graciously accepted our agreed price and was appreciative of a tip. I was so used to having Taxi arguments and scams  in other countries, it was pleasure to ride with an honest driver. 

 

:-)

 

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Great reporting, Skysurfr.  Guess the great weather that we experienced had to change at some point.  The only rain we got was a brief shower in the late afternoon of our sea day.  Sorry you didn't get to do the snorkeling at Maria la Gorda.  It sounded awesome.

 

We bought rum at the duty free store at the Havana airport to use up our remaining CUCs.  They put it in a sealed bag and we stuffed it into one of our carry-ons.  As you note, we expected we would have to put it in our checked luggage when we got to MIA, but our porter (remember, we had so many of Zimmy's suitcases that we needed a fifteen-passenger bus to the airport) told us we didn't have to.  Not trusting him, we asked again at the baggage re-check.  They pointed to a sign saying we could carry on sealed bags of liquids.  At TSA, we took out the bag with two bottles, the agent opened the bag, and then opened the cartons and took out the bottles.  She stuck them in some kind of machine, said they were okay, and then put them back in the bag and sealed it with TSA tape.  We then put it back in our carry-on.  We were very surprised at this.  I guess it only works if you have a sealed duty-free bag.

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20 hours ago, Skysurfr said:

Finally on our taxi ride in an old russian car, we got a real taste of Cuba. We got into a horse drawn cart traffic jam. In one town along the way the horse carts easily outnumbered the cars. The taxi ride was as interesting as any tour. The driver graciously accepted our agreed price and was appreciative of a tip. I was so used to having Taxi arguments and scams  in other countries, it was pleasure to ride with an honest driver. 

 

🙂

 

 

Sorry for the drift, but my favorite taxi episode was in Buenos Aires over 10 years ago I think.  My wife and I had taken probably 15 taxis over the course of 5 days - all in Spanish without incident.  Our final taxi driver, who had lived in Chicago and spoke perfect English tried to rip us off leading to a huge fight - us exiting, him threatening to call the police and us inviting him to do so.

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25 minutes ago, floridaag said:

 

Sorry for the drift, but my favorite taxi episode was in Buenos Aires over 10 years ago I think.  My wife and I had taken probably 15 taxis over the course of 5 days - all in Spanish without incident.  Our final taxi driver, who had lived in Chicago and spoke perfect English tried to rip us off leading to a huge fight - us exiting, him threatening to call the police and us inviting him to do so.

You may be suggesting that this was a result of his having lived in Chicago.  The tipoff that he really didn't was your statement that he spoke perfect English.  😀

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5 minutes ago, TrapperZimmy said:

You may be suggesting that this was a result of his having lived in Chicago.  The tipoff that he really didn't was your statement that he spoke perfect English.  😀

Hah, should just said lived in the US

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