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Frequently Asked Questions
Health and Safety

It is advisable to drink only bottled water. Tap water in Cuba is generally safe for hygiene in hotels. Bottled water can be purchased throughout the country.

When traveling to any international destination where you are not accustomed to the local water, it is advisable to be cautious of ice in soft drinks and alcoholic beverages outside of metropolitan hotels. 

 

InsightCuba is not able to provide medical or health recommendations to our participants. Regarding immunizations and current travel health information, we recommend that you contact the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention: www.cdc.gov or phone (404) 639-2888. Visitors to Cuba typically do not require special vaccinations. 

Embassy of the United States and Consular Services in Havana:

On July 20, 2015, after 54 years, the Embassy of the United States reopened in Havana. Any need that would normally be resolved by a visit to your embassy or consulate while traveling abroad should be directed to the American services unit.
Embassy of the United States, American Citizen Services Unit
Calzada, between L and M
Vedado, Havana, Cuba
Phone: 011-53-7-839-4100 • Fax: 011-53-7-839-4247
Hours: Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Closed on U.S. and Cuban federal holidays)
 
Emergency and after-hours phone: (53) (7) 839-4100; press 1
For the most up-to-date information, visit

One reality of Cuba’s dual currency system is that some items are subsidized by the government and sold in the Cuban Peso, but many much needed goods and services are sold in the Cuban Convertible Peso or the CUC$. 

Many Cubans who do not have the privilege of accessing the CUC$ through remittances sent from family members living abroad, or tips from the tourist industry, find creative ways to make ends meet. 

Travelers may encounter men and women, pejoratively known as jineteros,  who informally tap into the dollar economy by profitting off of relationships with foriegners. These encounters often arise as a “chance” meeting outside of hotels or tourist locations. As a general rule of travel, if a stranger approaches you with a deal that seem too good to be true… it almost certainly is. When dealing with Cuban hustlers, a simple shake of the head, "No" or a firm "Dejame en paz" are appropriate ways to respond.

Please understand that Cubans are very friendly and love making conversation with guests in their country. Therefore, do not shy away from conversation or dismiss all strangers who approach you.

Yes. Cuba is among the safest countries to visit. There are strict sentences on crimes committed against tourists, which is a large reason the crime rate is so low. However, petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, do sometimes occur. We advise against bringing any expensive or irreplaceable jewelry to Cuba. Also, recognize that hustlers on the street offering unbelievably cheap rum and cigars are not to be trusted, as their goods are often of lesser quality. As long as you take standard precautions to safeguard your possessions, you should feel at ease in Cuba.

Violent crime is virtually unheard of. If, for any reason, help is needed, police remain a visible and friendly resource for travelers.

Contrary to political differences between the U.S. and Cuba, the Cuban people receive Americans happily and with open arms.

 

Compared to most countries, crime in Cuba is quite rare. Petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and street hustling, do occasionally occur. Care should be taken against thieves or hustlers in crowded places, like tourist areas, public buses, discos, bars and theaters.

As a general rule of travel, carry only a copy of your passport and lock the original document and all other valuables in your hotel safe. Avoid carrying excessive sums of money with you (or wear a secure money belt if you do), try to avoid wearing showy jewelry, and keep an eye on any expensive items, like cameras. Always try to avoid leaving valuables in your luggage, especially in hotel rooms or airports. When flying, try to keep valuable items in your carry-on luggage.

Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world for women to travel in. Sexual assault of any kind is practically unheard of, and women are typically free to go wherever they want, whenever they want, without worry. That being said, always use good judgment and take standard precautions, such as taking a friend with you, if you’ll be out very late. Occasionally, women will receive unwanted attention or catcalling when walking by groups of local men. The best thing to do is walk by without engaging with them or making eye contact.

InsightCuba has a philosophy of inclusion and shared humanity and, as such, welcomes people of all races, ethnicity, beliefs, abilities, gender identities and sexual orientations.

It is of great importance that our participants be aware of cultural norms and perceptions in the country where they are traveling. Cuba is changing dramatically, in regards to popular opinion and national policy towards the LGBT community, although homophobia remains a reality of daily life.  It should also be noted, that despite a vibrant LGBT community, gay and lesbian establishments do not exist as they do in the states.  

If at any time during the program, LGBT travelers need support, they should not hesitate to call our U.S. office.

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