Cuba

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cuba-1

Cuba

Cuba is essentially virgin dive territory. There are two reasons for this. One: it is a “black hole” for American divers because of political reasons. Second: it is difficult for European and Asian divers to get to.

Avalon Fleet I is an intimate, comfortable and stylishly designed yacht, where each space is created to provide its guests with maximum comfort and safety. The atmosphere was conceived and designed to provide guests with an experience of a lifetime.

Its overall capacity is 20 passengers and 8 crew members. We suggest between 8 and 12 divers for optimum comfort. The design and interior decor give the yacht a touch of intimacy, refinement, a sense of warmth and simplicity. The boat has the perfect balance of substantial exploration capabilities and a unique style. It guarantees guests a pleasant, exciting and exclusive voyage through Jardines de la Reina.

The ship’s cabins have been built with extreme care, emphasizing the importance of comfort and safety above all else. You’ll also find a blend of exquisite décor and great taste, so you definitely won’t miss anything from home. You’ll also experience warm and attentive service during your trip.

Before You Go

ABOUT CUBA : What you need to know before traveling to Cuba

1 *ATM, Credit Cards & Traveler’s Checks
ATM, Credit Cards & Traveler’s Checks U.S. credit cards, checks, and currency are not accepted. You can exchange U.S. dollars or other currency at the hotel, airport or bank for CUCs. For traveler’s checks, you must go to the bank and sign the check in front of the teller. Your signature must exactly match what is on your passport or you will not be able to cash them.

*2 *Computers/Tablets
U.S. Citizens can take laptops and tablets as long as they are for personal use. Cuban-Americans have to register them with Customs in Cuba, and on the way back must prove that they still have the products.
Bringing any electronics is at your own risk since the government has a right to confiscate them.

3 *Currency
There are two currencies in Cuba: Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) -Travelers have a special currency called the Cuban Convertible Peso, and since November 8, 2004, the CUC must be used for all purchases of goods and services. While it is most convenient to exchange your money for CUCs at your hotel, you can also exchange dollars at the airport, bank and CADECA bureaus. Please be aware that there will be a tax and exchange rate which will result in approximately 20% devaluation in conversion. You can bring Canadian currency or Euros to exchange for CUCs for a smaller exchange fee.

* Cuban Pesos (Moneda Nacional)-This is the official national currency and the money that Cuban citizens are paid in for their work. The exchange rate is approximately 24 Cuban pesos for one CUC.

4 *Daily Allowance (per diem)
The U.S. State Department puts a daily allowance on expenditures related to licensed travel for hotel accommodations, meals, local transportation and goods personally used by the traveler in Cuba. There are some exceptions to this per diem allowance for Journalists and licensed travelers for expenditures directly related to the activities for which they received their license. The latest information can be found on the State Department website. (Cuba Per Diem Rates In U.S. Dollars)

5 *Departure Tax
Departure Tax Cuba requires a departure tax from each individual, that must be paid at the airport before you leave. The fee is $25 CUC per person, CASH ONLY. Make sure you set this money aside when you arrive in Cuba.

6 *Disabilities
Disabilities Cuba is very conscientious in their treatment of people with disabilities, however, the amenities have not caught up with their attitude. The streets are not easy to navigate and the transportation is not geared toward the disabled. There are a few hotels that are equipped for people with disabilities, and Marimar can help you locate the facility to fit your needs.

7 *Drugs
Drugs Cuba has a zero tolerance policy with regard to illegal drugs, and the penalties for possession, use, or trafficking are severe. Persons violating Cubas laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Travelers who have apparently brought in a personal amount of marijuana or other drugs have been in prison for years and have experienced long legal proceedings. Convicted offenders can expect a long jail sentence (as much as 30 years) and a heavy fine.

8 *Electricity
Electricity There are two types of electricity: 110V and 220V. The U.S. uses 110V, so you should bring a surge protector, a three-prong to two-prong adapter and a 110V/220V converter.

9 *Exports
Exports Due to the U.S. embargo, no goods of Cuban origin, other than information or informational materials, may be transported out of Cuba or brought into the United States. There are no limits on the import or export of informational materials. Such materials including books, films, posters, photographs, CDs are statutorily exempt from the prohibitions of the Regulations and may be purchased, sold, and transported freely. Blank tapes, CDs, and other media are not considered informational materials. Quality art requires a special permit. All passengers must pass through U.S. Immigration and Customs where all Cuban items will be confiscated, except those noted.

10 *Emergency in Cuba
Emergency in Cuba Please contact the U.S. Interests Section in Havana at (537) 833-3551 (3551 – 3559) during business hours, or (537) 833-2302 for after-hours emergencies.

11 *Gifts
Gifts Cuba is a poor nation, and donations of clothes, toys and toiletries are very much appreciated. These items can be donated during your stay, however, you should not feel obligated to bring anything. Please be aware that Customs may confiscate these items.

12 *Illegal Travel
It is illegal for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba without the proper license whether it is from the United States or from another country. Those traveling illegally are subject to a fine and do not have the option of seeking help from the U.S. Interests Section in times of emergency. Trading with Cuba illegally receives a penalty of up to a $55,000 fine under provisions of the Helms-Burton Bill, plus up to $250,000 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Individuals who choose to circumvent U.S. law do so at their own risk and have to accept responsibility for actions and suffer the consequences that may result from such travel. If OFAC believes the law has been broken, a pre-penalty notice listing the amount of the proposed fine will be sent to you.

13 *Internet
For the most part, Cubans don’t have internet access. Almost all hotels have a few old computers for foreigners to rent, but their software is not up-to-date. To access, you will either need to use an internet access ticket or you can pay when you are finished. The Cuban internet feels like dial-up since the top speeds are 56Kbs. You can’t use your USB and uploading pictures is almost impossible.

14 *Items to bring with you
Bring extra batteries for any battery-operated items
Clothing Shorts and sandals or walking shoes are ok to wear during the day. Bring a sweater or jacket for air conditioning and you may want to dress up for fine dining
Iodine tablets and portable water filters Bring iodine tablets and portable water filters as a precaution in case bottled water is not available where you are going
Kleenex and Antibacterial hand wipes Tissues, hand wipes and anti-bacterial gel are excellent sanitary additions as public bathrooms often don’t have toilet paper or soap
Medicine Be sure to bring meds for diarrhea, heartburn, aspirin and any other over-the-counter meds you may need along with a first aid kit
Mosquito repellant We recommend a repellant with a high DEET content
Passport photocopy Keep it in a separate place in case you lose the original
Prescription medicines It is important that you have enough to last during your trip, and we suggest you bring a little extra. Be sure to keep them in your carry-on bag in the original prescription bottle and that you follow airline security regulations if they include liquids
Sun block and sunglasses The UV index is high and Cuba gets 6-9 hours/day of sunshine, basically 365 days a year
Fold-up umbrella For those unexpected downpours during the rainy season

15*Language
Spanish is the language spoken on the island.

16 *Luggage
The number of pounds you can take and the charge for your luggage will vary by carrier and can often change on a daily/weekly basis. It is not unusual for a change to occur before your trip,
and your Marimar agent will inform you of the specific regulations for your flights, and will update you on any changes

17 *Medical Insurance
Cuban government requires that all travelers carry Cuban medical insurance. This is included with your airplane ticket and additional coverage is available for you to buy when you get to Cuba.
For more information http://www.asistur.cu/SEGOB_ENG.pdf

18 *Mobile Phones
U.S. phones don’t work in Cuba but you can rent one when you get there. If you are traveling with a group and not on a family visit, there is very little need for a cell phone

19 *Photography
There are basically no restrictions on photography, excepting that taking pictures of military and law-enforcement facilities is strictly prohibited. Museums and other places of interest may have other posted restrictions.

20 *Public Restrooms
These are very hard to find, and the few that are working generally charge a fee. They often don’t have toilet paper or water to wash your hands with, so we recommend that you bring tissues, hand wipes and anti-bacterial soaps.

21 *Room Safe
While these are in some hotel rooms, they are often broken. It is safer to lock your valuables in your suitcase at all times.

22 *Safety
Cuba is generally a very safe country, however normal safety precautions should be taken. As with any travel, it is best to keep your personal belongings in a secure location and do not leave your valuables unattended. When you leave your hotel room, be sure to lock your belongings in your room safe or suitcase and take your electronics with you. It is best to leave your expensive jewelry at home.

23 *Special Diet
Special Diet If you require a vegetarian, protein, high-fiber, or gluten-free diet, or if you need a therapeutic/modified diet due to illness, generally many restaurants and hotels are willing to meet these and other dietary requests.

Snacks-The kind you like are most likely not available so you may want to bring your favorites from home. No perishables are allowed, but you may bring items such as nuts, candy bars, gum and chocolate that are in wrappers

24 *Telephone Calls
Prepaid phone cards issued by U.S. companies are not accepted, however you can purchase phone cards from the Cuban phone company ETECSA. You can find these cards in hotels, conference centers and ETECSA telephone offices, but note that these can only be purchased with CUCs. All phone calls using the ETECSA card must be made from an ETECSA phone. To call Cuba from the U.S. 011 + 53 + City Code + Phone Number To call a mobile phone in Cuba from the U.S. 011 + 53 + 5 + City Code + Phone Number To call a mobile phone in Cuba while in Cuba 5 + Phone Number /City Codes:/ * * Bayamo 23 * * * Guantanamo Bay 99 * * * Matanzas 45 * * * Camaguey 322 * * * Havana 7 * * * Pinar del Rio 82 * * * Ciego de Avila 33 * * * Holguin 24 * * * Santa Clara 42 * * * Cienfuegos 432 * * * Las Tunas 31 * * * Santiago de Cuba 226 * * * Guantanamo 21 * * * Manzanillo 23 * * * Sancti Spiritus 41 * /To call the U.S. from Cuba / Dial one (1), followed by the area code and number. If you are unable to connect, try dialing 119-1 and then your area code and phone number. To place a call through an international operator to the U.S. dial 66-12-12. English-speaking international operators are available 24 hours. /Time Zone / Cuba is in the Eastern Time Zone (same as Miami and New York), and they observe Daylight Savings Time.

25 *Tipping
Tipping Restaurant and driver tipping is up to your discretion and the customary amount is 10-20%. Even if all (or some) of your meals are included in your package, it is customary to leave a few dollars for your server. It is a nice gesture to leave your hotel maid a couple of dollars each day rather than at the end of your stay since the housekeeping staff are rotated throughout the week.

26 *Vaccinations
While there are no required vaccinations for Cuba, the need will vary by individual. We recommend that you consult a Travel Doctor to see what vaccinations (if any) you may need.

27 *Water
We suggest that you limit yourself to bottled water only. We recommend that you purchase the bottled water at the local store, as your hotel will be much more expensive. You can also bring iodine tablets and/or portable water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available.

29* Weather
Cuba enjoys beautiful weather all year and is blessed with pleasant tropical trade winds. The average temperature is around 75°F, and it rarely falls below 70°F or gets above 90°F. May to October is Cuba’s summer and is considered the rainy season. It is very humid (as much as 80%) and brief showers often occur in the afternoon. The hurricane season is officially from June to November and Cuba is well-prepared for this. The dry season is considered Cuba’s winter, and it runs from November to April.

*If you want to know more about Cuba*: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

*Travel provided by Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services, LLC (CCETS); a licensed provider of people-to-people travel. Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services, LLC has been issued a specific people-to-people license pursuant to the requirement that each traveler will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. In other words, People-to-people travel is purposeful travel and participants will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful exchange with the Cuban people. Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services, LLC is the sole organizer, packager and operator of the related transactions to Cuba described on this collateral. CCETS is licensed by the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to engage in the travel-related and other transactions incidental to the travel program described on this collateral, and to authorize United States persons to travel on those programs under People To People license, and let a TSP (Travel Service Provider) licensed by the United States Treasury department arrange and make all the lodging, documents and flights necessary for each traveler.

Trip Schedule & Pricing

Trip Month Trip Duration Cost (pp) Openings
April 3 – 13 10 Days/11 Nights $6995.00 closed
Check below for more trip info!

Reservations and bookings for the white shark trips can be made online by emailing us at: info@sdsharkdiving.com. You can also phone our office at 619-299-8560 – 7 days a week- 9am-5pm Pacific Time Zone (Pacific Daylight Time during the summer)

Note: occasionally we are offshore out of cell phone range and may be unavailable, but there is a voice mail feature on our phone line. Please leave your message and we will return your call when we return to shore.

Deposit: For the Cuba trip a $500 deposit per person will hold your spot aboard the Islander. The balance would be due 60 days prior to your departure date. We can arrange a payment schedule for you if you prefer.

Payment: We prefer a personal check , Cashier’s Check, or Money Order made out to San Diego Shark Diving and mailed to our office:

San Diego Shark Diving Expeditions, Inc.
6747 Friars Rd Ste 112
San Diego, CA 92108 USA

Payment can also be made using a credit card (Visa, Master card, American Express, or Discover Card). Many of our foreign white shark divers also like to make their payment via bank wire transfer. Please email or call us for the wire transfer details. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance to protect against unforseen situations.

If you cancel more than 90 days prior to your departure date, your deposit and any additional money you may have paid toward the balance of the trip price will be refunded, minus a $200 cancellation fee.

If you cancel 90 days or less prior to your departure date, your deposit and any additional money you may have paid toward the balance of the trip price will be refunded, minus a $300 cancellation fee, provided another person can be found to purchase your spot on the Bahamas trip. If another diver cannot be found in time to purchase your spot on that White Shark trip, no refund of your deposit, nor of any money paid toward the balance of the White Shark trip price will be issued.

Itinerary

Getting trip information, stay tuned for updates!

Boat Accommodations

There are 8 deluxe king cabins, with 7 private bathrooms, with air conditioning and heat controls, electricity plugs, as well as storage in drawers. Each room has panoramic windows to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Caribbean beaches.

There is a spacious and comfortable combination lounge, dining room and bar area on the boat deck. This is where you will do much of your socializing and dining. The setting is casual and filled with fun and entertainment. In this area you can find DVDs and music to add even more enjoyment to your stay.

In cabins and common areas there are electric sockets available for you to plug in your personal items (220 volts and 110 volts). We offer queen size beds, hot tub and a lounge to make you feel at home with excellent visual/audio equipment. and of course, amazing Cuban gastronomy that we will treat you to throughout your entire stay, served with international wines and local liquors and desserts.

After savouring each gastronomic adventure kick back and enjoy drinks of your choice, prepared by our bartenders. Trip includes:

  • R/T airfare Miami-Havana
  • Havana Hotel accommodations
  • 7-days Avalon dive liveaboard
  • Cuban Visa
  • Letter of Authorization & License to travel to Cuba
  • Medical insurance as required by the Cuban government
  • All entrance fees to events & sites for the program
  • air conditioned r/t transportation airport – hotel – boat
  • 24 hr emergency hotline
  • Bilingual guides
  • all meals included in the itinerary

Trip however, does not include:

  • alcoholic beverages unless it’s an all inclusive hotel
  • souvenirs, or crew gratuities
  • Cuban airport departure tax (approx. $30 USD)
  • Excess baggage fees

Cuba Information

Jardines De La Reina: is a remote and uninhabited part of southern Cuba about 50 miles offshore. It is a 150 mile long mangrove & coral island system forming what is the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world. In the middle is a 90 mile long and depending upon tides a 20 mile wide maine reserve protected by the Cuban government so only sucba diving and some “light” big game fishing is allowed. It is sometimes called “The Galapagos of the Caribbean”.

The mangroves are a nursery for small fish which in turn provide the reefs with huge schoold of baitfish. This leads to great numbers of large fish such as sharks, Goliath Groupers, Turtles and other big predators. By law only 1000 divers a year are allowed in the reserve. Some of the shark species you may dive with here are Silky, Caribbean Reef, Hammerhead, Whale Sharks, Black Tip, and Bull.

We have teamed with Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services. LLC (CCETS) to offer this program which is approved for Ecology programs to Cuba under their People to People License. This program offers US Citizens and Permanent Residents the opportunity to participate in eco diving for the sake of conservency and scientific advances in understanding Cuba’s natural resources. CCETS is approved by the US Treasury Department to offer these trips.

FAQs

FAQ:

1 *U.S. American Citizens and Permanent Residents can travel to Cuba under the current restrictions?

A. Yes, The current U.S. restrictions on travel apply to all citizens and residents of the U.S. no matter from what country you travel to Cuba and no matter if you hold citizenship from another country as well. Only persons authorized by U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) may travel to Cuba. /For more information, go to:/ http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_tr_app.pdf http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg273.aspx

2 *What travel documents do I need for Cuba?

A.  In order to travel to Cuba, you must have a passport that is valid at least six-months from your date of travel to Cuba. Prior to the trip, CCETS will provide the following four (4) documents: * Cuban Visa (Tourist Card) * Copy of CCETS Cuba’s Specific “people-to-people” License from the Department of Treasury * Copy of the Letter of Authorization allowing you to travel to Cuba on our license *Travel Service Provider (TSP) working in conjunction with CCETS can provide R/T tickets on your charters flight to Cuba

*3 *Will my passport be stamped by Cuban immigration?

A. If you are a U.S. citizen, it is the general policy of Cuban immigration not to stamp your passport. If you want a stamp in your passport as a souvenir, it is perfectly fine to request, as you are traveling legally. However, you may have to verbally request it of the immigration officer.

4 *Do I need to apply for an extension of my visa if I want to stay one more week?

A. No, you don’t. The tourist card allows its holder to stay in Cuba for 90 days from the date of entry into the country, and is valid for 1 entry into Cuba. For a stay of more than 90 days, you can request an extension of another 3 months at any tourism office in Cuba, for a maximum stay of 6 months. Children, regardless of their age, also require a tourist card, even if they are registered on their parents’ passports.

*5 Do I need medical insurance to go on your tours?

A. Yes, Since April 2010, the Cuban government requires that all travelers to Cuba must have medical insurance under an approved plan. A mandatory Cuban Medical Insurance provided by Asistur S.A. is included in the cost of all our tours. ASISTUR is the official Cuban insurance agency providing medical coverage for island visitors. ASISTUR organizes medical services and support across the nation for travelers as needed. Emergency response is available 24 hours a day. ASISTUR coordinates services with many major medical and insurance companies globally.

*6 *Do I need travel insurance to go on your tours?

A. Travel insurance may not be needed but we strongly recommend it for our traveller’s own safety and peace of mind. By having cancellation and medical coverage you do not need to worry about emergencies that can happen anytime, anywhere, before or during your trip.

*7 *I have to take specific medications (syringes & needles) with me. Is that a problem?

A. Please, do bring adequate supplies of all medications in their original containers, clearly labeled. Carry a signed, dated letter from the primary physician describing all medical conditions and listing all medications, including generic names. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to carry a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. Pack all medications in hand luggage. Carry a duplicate supply in the checked luggage. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring an extra pair. If you have significant allergies or chronic medical problems, wear a medical alert bracelet.

*8 *Is it safe to drink tap water in Cuba?

A. Do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Do not drink un-bottled beverages or drinks with ice. Do not eat fruits or vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked. Avoid unpasteurized milk and any products that might have been made from unpasteurized milk, such as ice cream. Avoid food and beverages obtained from street vendors. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish, including ceviche. Some types of fish may contain poisonous biotoxins even when cooked. Barracuda in particular should never be eaten. Other fish that may contain toxins include red snapper, grouper, amberjack, sea bass, and a large number of tropical reef fish. Please, do notice that in our trips, all included meals are served in places that meet food and water precautions.

*9 *Do I need to take any vaccinations?

A. No vaccinations are required to enter or travel to Cuba at this moment. However, we advice you discuss vaccinations with your doctor or a travel clinic, as it could be a benefit both at home and abroad. Do review vaccinations and all other travel health concerns with your doctor or a travel health clinic at least 4 weeks in advance of day of travel.

*10 *What items are not allowed to bring into Cuba?

A. Prohibited: all kinds of seeds, fresh animal or vegetable products unless prior approval has been obtained from Ministry of Agriculture; * narcotics, drugs and psychotropic substances except those for personal use and provided holding medical prescription; * all kinds of hemoderivatives; * explosives, firearms and ammunition unless prior authorization has been obtained from the Ministry of Interior; * obscene and pornographic materials; printed matter directed against the public order and the morality of Cuba and its revolution; * household appliances (freezers with a capacity exceeding seven cubic feet, air conditioners, any type or model of electric accumulators and heating/cooking plates, electric and microwave ovens, any type or size of electric frying pans, electric water heaters and showers, electric irons and toasters). * Passengers importing to Cuba other articles in addition to their personal items must fill out a Customs Declaration providing all the information required in this document.

*11 *Are Cuban cities safe to walk on my own?

A. All Cuban cities are quite safe as they are relatively free from the well-known street dangers encountered in other countries. The Cuban people themselves and travelers can equally walk the cities and streets day and night without having to be concerned about criminal behavior. Care should be taken against pickpockets in crowded places like public buses, discos, bars and theatres. Still, few travelers to Cuba will likely experience anything more than the nuisance of an occasional peddler of artifacts or a young hustler wanting to be your guide. Cuba is extremely safe by any world standards, and the average visitor has no reason to worry about personal safety on the streets, in the hotels, at the beaches or any other place a traveler might visit.

*12 What do you use my personal information for?

A. We use your personal Information to:* * Identify and communicate with you. * Provide you with marketing, product, service and incentive offers and information from ourselves and our business partners. * Conduct market surveys, research and analysis. * Manage our relationship with you. * Comply with safety, security, legal and regulatory requirements. * Protect our reasonable and legitimate business interests. Back to Top * * *Is my personal information safe with you? * Your personal Information is stored at secured locations either at our offices or at the offices of tour authorized contractors. We retain your personal Information for as long as we require it to fulfill the purpose that it was collected for. To protect the confidentiality of your personal Information, we employ administrative and technological safeguards appropriate to sensitivity of your personal Information. For instance, we operate computer systems which are protected by industry standard firewall and password protection systems. Lastly, we take steps to ensure that your personal information is only accessible by personnel who have legitimate business need to have access to it.

*Travel provided by Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services, LLC (CCETS); a licensed provider of people-to-people travel. Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services, LLC has been issued a specific people-to-people license pursuant to the requirement that each traveler will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba. In other words, People-to-people travel is purposeful travel and participants will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful exchange with the Cuban people. Cuba Cultura & Eco Travel Services, LLC is the sole organizer, packager and operator of the related transactions to Cuba described on this collateral. CCETS is licensed by the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to engage in the travel-related and other transactions incidental to the travel program described on this collateral, and to authorize United States persons to travel on those programs under People To People license, and let a TSP (Travel Service Provider) licensed by the United States Treasury department arrange and make all the lodging, documents and flights necessary for each traveler. The travel programs described in this brochure provide a full-time schedule of educational exchanges.