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HillBilly Bob

Cuba and confusion

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We are arriving Cuba via CCL Sunrise 01/20/20.  After reading CCL info, I see there are many different "qualifications" you must meet to disembark.  Since we are not taking a CCL sanctioned tour, can we disembark and enjoy Havana unassisted?   Also, I have reservations for the oldcartour.com for an afternoon 3 hour tour on our own.  Is this possible or do we need special release to do this tour.   Also, I would love to buy Dinner/Show tickets for the Tropicana.  I will buy my tickets on line beforehand, not at the door.   Has anyone done this and knowing that we will need taxi transportation when the show is over.   Sounds like this will be late.....1230am or later.   Any advice to this newcomer to Cuba.  

Edited by HillBilly Bob
add text...change date

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We did not do a tour through the cruise line on our trip to Cuba. You just have to make sure you complete the visa and they instruct you to keep your receipts for 5 years. On the visa we stated we were “supporting the Cuban people”. With a passport, you should have no trouble disembarking. When you get off the boat there are dozens for taxis waiting to take you on a tour of Cuba. We explored on our own and were completely fine. We stayed out quite late too. The taxi that took us to our destination gave us his business card. When we were ready to go back to the ship the doorman called him for us and he came back to get us. Worked perfectly. The people of Cuba are so friendly and thankful to have tourism! Have fun!

Edited by etopoleski12

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HillbillyBob, etopoleski12 is accurate on all counts. As long as you have your passport and visa (issued when you board the ship) when you get off the ship and pass through Cuban immigration, that is all you need. Once you are outside, you are able to move freely, take photos, etc. just as you would on any other Caribbean island.

 

We bought out Tropicana tickets on their website and grabbed a  taxi to get there (about 30 min ride). Like many other taxis, our driver waited outside for us and we easily met up with him for the ride back to the ship. Prior to our ride to the show, we agreed to a R/T fare of 50 CUCs, and paid him at the end of our return trip. No problems at all. Enjoy Cuba!

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3 hours ago, SteveGT3 said:

HillbillyBob, etopoleski12 is accurate on all counts.

 

Correct, but for a small clarification.

The visa is for the Cuban Gov't. Yes, you'll hand it in to them when you arrive and present them your passport. 

It just asks name, passport number, etc. 

 

The affidavit stating your reason for visiting is for the US treasury Dept, and the cruise lines require it. It's highly doubtful they'll check or even care. However, that's the document you keep for 5 years, along with any tour documentation / receipts,  in case they ever come knocking on your door.  

Check the box that says you are touring. but not with the cruise line. It's perfectly fine, most have discovered by now that the ship tours are inferior, crowded, and expensive.  

Excellent private guides are plentiful and very affordable in Havana, at least for now. 

 

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We just returned from Havana on a overnight NCCL Cruise. We filled out the affidavit online and simply checked off the "Support for the Cuban People" box. We also took a copy of this form with us, but it was not needed. The Cuban Visa was given to us when we checked in for our cruise. We took the Visa off the ship with us and gave it to the Immigrations. Entry into Cuba was simple and friendly.

 

Once we passed through Customs and Immigrations we simply walked to the Old Town Square located at Plaza Vieja where we had a great lunch on a balcony at a restaurant called Don Eduardo Alegre overlooking the square. Prices were very reasonable.

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The same process (get visa on ship, give visa to immigration, get tourist card) applies in Cienfuegos, too.  Once you hand over your visa and get the card, it's good for the rest of your visit, and is fine in subsequent ports.

 

While the "required excursion" is intended to meet the letter of US law. it serves to protect the cruise line as much as anything else. Any private tour which exposes you to the culture and people of Cuba, and isn't controlled by the government or military seems to be OK. Many people on our required excursion blew it off.

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On 2/24/2019 at 8:26 PM, Cienfuegos said:

The same process (get visa on ship, give visa to immigration, get tourist card)

We never were given a Tourist Card. It would have made a nice souvenir. Has anyone else gotten one? 

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Received it in Cienfuegos in exchange for the visa, we had to hand it in when leaving Santiago de Cuba.  Laminated card about the size of a credit card.

 

We were asked to show it when arriving in Santiago.  I'm guessing if a person chose not to go ashore, they would still have it

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In Cienfuegos, we didn't get a tourist card and, to be honest, there was virtually little security leaving or returning to the ship other than going thru metal detectors. In Santiago de Cuba, the authorities took our visa when we returned to the ship also.

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No. we were given our visas when we checked in for the cruise and we carried them and our passports whenever we were on shore. We had to return the visas to the Cuban authorities in Santiago de Cuba, which was our last Cuban port. 

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We went with Viking and where given are VISA right after we boarded in Maim.  We carried the VISA and PASSPORT whenever we want on shore and was checked by Cuban authorities.  In Santiago they took the VISA when going to the ship on this last port.  We retained nothing, they took the whole thing, both sides. 

 

 

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