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PC Skier

Can you walk around Havana on your own ?

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We are just wondering if we can walk around Havana on our own or do we need to  do a tour?  

     Thanks in advance for any help.

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You can walk around and do

whatever you like 

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yes you can walk off the boat & walk around Cuba all you want. There are lots of taxies and tours available all over if you decide to grab one once off the ship.

We went back on the ship for Dinner in the evening then walked back off again to walk around, this month

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10 hours ago, PC Skier said:

What is a general price for a taxi tour?

I'm wondering the same thing.  We'd like to hire a taxi to take us to some points further west (Fusterlandia, Cemeterio Cristobal Colon, Plaza de la Revolucion, Vedado, Hotel Nacional...) then explore la Habana Vieja on foot working our way back to the ship.

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Most of my time in Havana was spent wandering around on my own. I absolutely fell in love with the city. Never once did I feel unsafe, even while bar hopping and heading back to the ship at 1am. 

 

There are a few threads here on CC that have walking maps. I suggest doing a search and downloading a few of them. If nothing else, it will give you a readily available map of the city should you get turned around. Cell reception is spotty at best, but mostly non existent. 

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Our first trip to Havana was last November. Booked for this November but that is still questionable.

Havana is a great walking city. Never saw any crime only 1 or 2 hustlers and it was magic after dark.

the Cubans are friendly, want to engage with you to talk about there lives and your life. This trip we will take a 3 hr classic car tour and spend the rest of the time further exploring. Go back out again at dusk.

Getting off the ship is easy, Cadeca in the terminal is easy and out you go. Have fun and take pics because it may be a long time until you can go back.

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This can be done without a shore excursion? Royal told me when I booked that I had to take one of their excursions. (Booked cruise today, not booked an excursion)

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This can be done without a shore excursion? Royal told me when I booked that I had to take one of their excursions. (Booked cruise today, not booked an excursion)

What they told us is you need to take an excursion that meets the requirements of the category you select on your state department form that you fill out, and that all their excursions meet those requirements. We were just there couple weeks ago and they never told us we had to take their excursions. Actually they were very accommodating to those that were taking private excursions.

 

Once you get there, nobody is checking anything and you can do whatever you want.

 

To fully comply you need to do a full time itinerary consisting of activities that meet the requirements. (Whatever full time means, apparently it does not mean every minute you are there.)

 

For us, we took one of their excursions each day and did what we wanted to do the rest of the time.

 

We were happy with that, and I assume it met the requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, mac1_131 said:

What they told us is you need to take an excursion that meets the requirements of the category you select on your state department form that you fill out, and that all their excursions meet those requirements. We were just there couple weeks ago and they never told us we had to take their excursions. Actually they were very accommodating to those that were taking private excursions.

 

Once you get there, nobody is checking anything and you can do whatever you want.

 

To fully comply you need to do a full time itinerary consisting of activities that meet the requirements. (Whatever full time means, apparently it does not mean every minute you are there.)

 

For us, we took one of their excursions each day and did what we wanted to do the rest of the time.

 

We were happy with that, and I assume it met the requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

Great, thanks. I was thinking about getting the bus tour, and hoping I could walk around after. Sounds like I can. 

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Viking Ocean told us the US requirement is one cultural or person to person program per ship docking. Some private tours have excursions which they say meet the criteria. In Viking's case, a bus tour of highlights and visit to a government rum / cigar shop sufficed in each port.

 

But, this is Cuba. Nobody checks anything.

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We have been twice; June and November 2018 and intend to fly to Havana at the end of the year for a week or two. 

The first trip we used Blexie for a car and walking tour for 6 hours then went out on our own.  Purchased tickets at Hotel Nacional  for La Parisien for 1/3 the cruise price.  Took a 1960 red convertible to hotel that evening; returned in a taxi.

Next day toured on our own.

In November we walked everywhere - no tours.

 

Next trip staying in an AirBNB after flying direct from Houston.

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23 hours ago, Cienfuegos said:

Viking Ocean told us the US requirement is one cultural or person to person program per ship docking. Some private tours have excursions which they say meet the criteria. In Viking's case, a bus tour of highlights and visit to a government rum / cigar shop sufficed in each port.

 

But, this is Cuba. Nobody checks anything.

Boy Viking is making up things to sell their excursions. Too bad.

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  • Cuba does not care what you do -- it is the US government. "Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Anyone located in the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with these regulations."

    If you are traveling from the states and not on family or official business, you will probably be using the "educational activities" for your tours. The latest regulations (from 2017 although Trump is threatening to change them again) state that all educational travel "must be conducted under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction. In addition, travelers utilizing this authorization must be accompanied by a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who is a representative of the sponsoring organization." So sounds like independent travel or hiring locals for a tour is no longer allowed.  At the very least, verify your plans against the regulations so you don't have any unpleasant surprises down the line.

    Trump did away with the people-to-people category in 2017 and banned us from staying in or doing business with any Cuban government-owned shop, hotel, restaurant, etc. -- the list we saw was very long. No one will check you there but you are required to keep a detailed log of time spent in country. You don't have to turn this in unless you are audited but you must keep the paperwork for 5 years and could be subject to a very large fine for violating the rules and up to 10 years in prison!  We intended to hire a private guide and could have easily gotten around on our own but decided after reading this to just pay the cruise line for their excursions and have them help us with the paperwork requirements. I just hope nothing else changes before our June sailing!

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Trump did not get rid of the people to people category. It was the self-guided people to people option that was removed. 

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Posted (edited)

We were told by RCI that the people-to-people category would not be used after the latest announcement and I could not find that option listed among the 12 categories on the Treasury.gov site. It seems like most of the excursions are the same but will just be called education or cultural tours. I think the main point is that independent travel is very limited as are our options when booking tours -- US ownership (or "subject to U.S. jurisdiction") supposedly required. You may never get caught but we still get paid by the US gov and won't take the chance since we were warned early on it could come back, even years later, to bite us in the butt.

Edited by BreconP

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It’s not clear what the rules are going to be going forward but the 2017 changes did not remove people to people which was what the cruise lines were pushing people to use in conjunction with ship-sponsored excursions. 

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We have a private tour in the morning, but then we want to return to cruise ship for dinner, and go back out again self-guided in the evening.

 

Couple questions

1.)  What would be the process to leave the cruise ship again in the evening?  Do we have to go through customs again?

2.)  What box should I check on the Visa form so as to raise the least number of questions when going out self-guided in the evening?

 

I'm on the fence about what to check.  for Royal Caribbean visa application seems my options would be

-Full Day Third Party Program (tours not sponsored by Royal Caribbean)

-Support for the Cuban People  (heard that as an option on other forums)

 

What do others recommend/ what has been your experience?

 

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The recent announcement about future changes rattled many people. Including Cubans. Which was the purpose.

 

What actually transpires will be interesting to see.

 

(My guess is the severe limits on money transfers will be a huge deal in Cuba.)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, truthseeker923 said:

We have a private tour in the morning, but then we want to return to cruise ship for dinner, and go back out again self-guided in the evening.

 

Couple questions

1.)  What would be the process to leave the cruise ship again in the evening?  Do we have to go through customs again?

2.)  What box should I check on the Visa form so as to raise the least number of questions when going out self-guided in the evening?

 

I'm on the fence about what to check.  for Royal Caribbean visa application seems my options would be

-Full Day Third Party Program (tours not sponsored by Royal Caribbean)

-Support for the Cuban People  (heard that as an option on other forums)

 

What do others recommend/ what has been your experience?

 

 

You have to decide what you will be comfortable with. There are no hard and fast rules. Each cruise line will provide their own guidance and some will even tell you that you cannot visit Cuba without taking one of their tours. 

 

I marked Support for the Cuban People and spent the majority of my time exploring Cuba on my own. I purchased souvenirs and food from local establishments, thus supporting the people. I also took a couple of free walking tours and tipped my guide, again supporting the people. 

 

The first time you leave the boat, you go through customs, submit your visa, they take your picture and stamp your passport and you are on your way. Each time after that you just show your passport and they wave you on. You will walk through the same customs lanes, but they will not be manned, other than one agent glancing at your passport. 

 

 

Edited by travelingtink

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3 hours ago, truthseeker923 said:

We have a private tour in the morning, but then we want to return to cruise ship for dinner, and go back out again self-guided in the evening.

 

Couple questions

1.)  What would be the process to leave the cruise ship again in the evening?  Do we have to go through customs again?

2.)  What box should I check on the Visa form so as to raise the least number of questions when going out self-guided in the evening?

 

I'm on the fence about what to check.  for Royal Caribbean visa application seems my options would be

-Full Day Third Party Program (tours not sponsored by Royal Caribbean)

-Support for the Cuban People  (heard that as an option on other forums)

 

What do others recommend/ what has been your experience?

 

 

The form has nothing to do with your visa.

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We are cruising to Havana on NCL at the end of the month.  I filled out the OFAC form and chose "support of the Cuban people" but am unsure of what comes next.  For ease I was planning on getting our Visas through NCL but don't know how that works.

The website said we had to have a tour booked in order to board.  

Do we get our Visa at boarding?

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  1. You do not need to book an excursion. People to people still on NCL form. It was not removed. Visa only used 1st time off ship. Next time off your stamped passport all you need. My family taking bus but there are many options out there. You will also change out money as you leave but be aware they charge a percentage to get back US currency so only really change out what you need. Credit and debit cards almost always do not work. But some will take US dollars. 

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https://legalcubatravel.com/ A travel related site but lots of info. Read thru travel advisor forum. Link at bottom of page. Also check to see if any change in requirements yet. Still 2017 rules.

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