Wondering just how hard it is to cruise to Cuba? Turns out, not so hard at all. Here are all the basics you need to know to experience Cuba with Royal Caribbean.
It’s time to start planning that bucket list trip. Because Royal Caribbean can now take
you to three one-of-a-kind destinations in Cuba: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de
Cuba. No other “mainstream” cruise line takes you this deep into Cuba’s culture,
breathtaking natural landscape, and compelling history. And you can sail from Miami,
Tampa and Fort Lauderdale onboard fleet favorites Majesty of the Seas and Empress of
With its grand avenues, quaint squares, centuries-old fortresses, and color-splashed beauty everywhere you look, it won’t take you long to realize that Cuba is an island unlike any other. Sure, there’s a couple additional travel requirements required to get there, but not to worry. Royal Caribbean has made the process pretty simple, so you can look forward to a stress-free visit. Here are a few things to consider when planning your Cuba adventure:
U.S. citizens can travel to Cuba, as long as you fulfill on one of the allowed reasons
for visiting. There are several ways you can do this, but the most common
reason cruise guests use is participation in educational activities, specifically
“people-to-people” programs. An easy way to meet this educational requirement is by
purchasing a Shore Excursion through Royal Caribbean, although you can also get your
tour from a third-party group that complies with U.S. requirements.
For a full list of eligible travel categories, visit our FAQ section. Before your cruise, you’ll receive a Travel Certification document, which will ask you to select one of these categories. Bring it with you to the pier (two printed, completed copies per person) and we’ll take care of processing it.
You’ll need your actual passport book if you’re traveling to Cuba — passport cards won’t cut it, and neither will birth certificates and driver’s licenses. This is true for every guest, even minors. Make sure you check the expiration date on your passport, too. It needs to be valid for six months after your sail date.
Anybody going ashore in Cuba needs a Cuban visa. You might also hear this called tarjeta turistica (“tourist card”), visitor card or entry card. Royal Caribbean can process the Cuban visa for you at the pier for $75 per person – easy as that. But you’re free to get your own too. Just be sure you have it ahead of your sailing. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen, or you were born in Cuba, we recommend checking out the FAQs as you may have other specific requirements.
This is one of the permitted educational categories for visiting Cuba, defined as a full schedule of activities that create educational interactions between visitors and the Cuban people. All Royal Caribbean Cuba Shore Excursions fulfill on this requirement, so if you tour with us, you’re all set. If your Cuba cruise stays overnight, you’ll want to make sure you have a tour booked for both days you’re in port.
Cuba is generally regarded as a safe place, with a very low crime rate. That being said, you should still follow the same common sense safety measures you would when traveling to any new place. Don’t wear flashy jewelry, keep track of your belongings, and bring only as much cash as you think you’ll need for the day.
If you need any medical attention while you’re onshore, you’re in good hands. Cuba’s
health care system is respected around the world, and your cruise fare includes a local
health insurance fee, so you’re covered while on the island.
Wheelchair users should note that accessibility is limited in Cuba. There is a lack of curb cuts, ramps, accessible vehicles and elevators. Doors may not be as wide and grab bars unavailable.
You’ll have to check with your mobile carrier about coverage in Cuba. Internet most likely won’t be available once you’re onshore, but rest assured — both our ships sailing to Cuba have high speed internet, so you can start posting your adventure as soon as you’re back onboard the ship.
In Cuba, the main currencies are the Cuban Peso (used by locals) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (used mostly by tourists). You can exchange small U.S. bills at the cruise terminal, in banks and exchange offices (ask for a “CADECA”), and in hotels. Know that most credit cards will not work in Cuba and most businesses are cash-only. For more information on using money in Cuba, visit our FAQ section.
Yes! There are a few specific entities you won’t be able to do direct business with, but for the most part you’re free to purchase goods to bring back and enjoy in the U.S. — even the world-renowned cigars and rum. Just make sure you only buy from authorized retailers – don’t buy cigars in the street.
Cuba has a tropical climate, so expect warm weather year-round. From December to May, the island gets plenty of sunshine and blue skies. Cuba’s wet season generally starts around June and lasts through the end of November.
Make sure you have your passport, your visa, and your SeaPass cruise card on you at all
times. Not all restrooms have toilet paper, so bring your own tissues just in case. And
because most buildings don’t have air conditioning, it doesn’t hurt to have a fan or
Comfortable walking shoes and light clothing are musts. Remember to bring plenty of sunscreen, too. Due to the weather and aforementioned lack of A/C, you’ll want to stay hydrated – stick only to bottled beverages while exploring the island.