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#2 Cuba Liveaboard: TRIP FAQ & Answers to Member Questions


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#1 WreckWench

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Posted 15 September 2018 - 03:59 PM

Forums Menu: Orientation 2018-2019 Trips Topic Listing
Trip Topic Menu: Trip Details Trip FAQ Ask a Question Who's Going??? Book Now

 

WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CUBA...an a few unique ways of getting signed up for this epic trip!

 

(Also being sent via PM & email to those who requested to be on the notify list)

 

You are getting this message because you expressed interest in the SingleDivers.com trips to Garden of The Queens Cuba either Jun 29- July 6 or Jul 6-13, 2019.  While we are finalizing the Cuba trip opening set up in our systems we wanted to give you add'l TIME SENSITIVE information about this trip. It is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than anything you've ever done and has to be booked DIFFERENT than anything we've ever done.  Because its so different we have some added SAVINGS FOR YOU that will make going to CUBA EVEN BETTER!!!

For starters we need you to read the information below. This trip is NOT a commercial trip so every individual must sign up directly with the intermediary organization OCEANS FOR YOUTH who will then interface with the proper Cuban entities to make this trip happen. It is a PEOPLE  TO PEOPLE trip and NOT Business to Business so must be handled entirely different.

 

Notably...

  • No credit card payments for the trip...only personal checks (nitrox and misc fees can be paid via credit card but the trip must be paid for via a personal check)
  • No company checks...only PERSONAL CHECKS  (we are inquiring about cashier checks and will know that on Monday)
  • You will sign up directly via OCEANS FOR YOUTH (see directions in the trip details)
  • If they do not receive your money...you are not on the trip.
  • We are setting up a 'courtesy booking' in our system for $1 to hold a spot for 7 days. If Oceans for Youth have not rec'd your funds in 7 days we will release the spot in our system. (The spot in our system allows you to complete the necessary forms we need to manage the trip and help us manage the trip savings rebate you will enjoy for signing up early)

 

Please read the following from Oceans for Youth

What are the program requirements?
Under the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens for tourism is strictly prohibited. However, the US Government permits licensed "people-to-people" educational trips. Under this program, "each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba." Oceans For Youth has designed a full-time educational schedule in which travelers are required to participate in all activities, in compliance with the US Government rules for travel to Cuba.

Who and how do we pay for this trip?
All funds must be paid to the Oceans for Youth Foundation who will then forward your monies to the appropriate companies for your Cuba Travel Program. By U.S. law as the license holder for the People-to-People group program, all funds must be paid by the traveler directly to Oceans For Youth Foundation.

 

What travel documents will be provided by Oceans For Youth and required for travel to Cuba?
Oceans For Youth will provide you with an authorization letter that we issue under our license from the OFAC office of the US Treasury Department. This is available for you to print through the Guest Information System (GIS) to take with you. It is each travelers responsibility to ensure their passport information matches the authorization letter. Oceans For Youth Foundation is an IRS approved private foundation that is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

Does the OFAC take the place of a Visa? 
No, the OFAC letter is a letter of verification for you to present if asked, for legal travel to Cuba.

 

How does the People-to-People group travel program work and do I have to apply to the US government for a permit?
All travelers with us are traveling under the Oceans For Youth OFAC license and are required to strictly follow the program outlined that is detailed in the Oceans For Youth authorization letter. Travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens is different than travel to any other country due to the long-standing economic embargo. Tourism by U.S. citizens is not permitted, however, travel through specially licensed “People-to-People” educational programs is allowed.

Direct People-to-People interactions between Americans with Cubans (youths and their parents; local marine officials; and marine professionals) will provide a unique opportunity for U.S. travel participants to understand the setting in which Cubans experience their own marine environment. Individuals on the island – particularly Cuban professionals and Cuban youth (and their parents) who have limited opportunities to meet foreign counterparts – will acquire different perspectives on marine life, conservation, and stewardship. Travel participants with the Foundation who meet this slice of the Cuban population will experience a closeness with their Cuban counterparts where there had not been before.rn

The Foundation firmly believes that educating not only Americans but also Cuban youth about these very important aspects of the underwater world will strengthen both local (Cuban) and international preservation of Cuba’s natural marine environment for these youth’s own kids. The Foundation takes pride in the hope that these meetings between and among American and Cuban participants will vet out those youth who will someday be the guardians and defenders of the marine environment.

Who owns the Jardines Aggressor I & II?
The Jardines Aggressor I & II is owned by a Panamanian company that has a license to operate a liveaboard from the Cuban government. They have been operating liveaboards in Cuba since 1993. They are very excited about offering the same amenities as  Aggressor Liveaboards.

I thought Americans were not able to spend US dollars in Cuba?  Will I be spending any US dollars while in Cuba? Can I buy souvenirs? Effective October 17, 2016, the prior limitations on the value has been removed. Items remain subject to the normal limits on duty and tax exemptions for merchandise imported as accompanied baggage and for personal use.

 

Can I use my American Express, Visa or MasterCard when I go to Cuba?
US credit cards are not accepted in Cuba. It is highly recommended you confirm this information prior to traveling since it is subject to change without notice.

 

What is the Cuban Money?
Cuba has two official currencies. The Peso or CUP, sometimes called the ‘national peso’ and the Convertible Peso or CUC, sometimes referred to as the ‘dollar’. Most travelers will only ever deal in CUC.

 

What is the exchange rate?
The exchange rate for  CUC to USD is .87 to 1.

 

How do you exchange money in Cuba?
The best rate will be at banks. The next best exchange rate is at any Cadeca. A Cadeca (Casa de Cambio which means House of Exchange) is a government exchange facility. They're located at airports, many resorts and hotels and at locations all over the Island. They are easily recognizable white containers on major roads and near major hotels, with a CADECA sign on top. You can also exchange at hotels or resorts but the rate is not regulated.

 

How do I make my travel arrangements?
SingleDivers.com will help with arrangements and/or Aggressor Travel provides the Ocean's For Youth program with air travel. Contact info@aggressortravel.com or call the Oceans For Youth Foundation Reservations numbers.

 

Can we use US money for tips?
Absolutely! The program you are on will accept USD and CUC for gratuities.

 

How do we answer US Customs questions when returning to the USA?
If you are asked by a US immigration or customs officer about your travel, please have your Oceans For Youth authorization letter with you to show them if necessary.

Is there internet in Cuba and will the hotel and boat have it?
There will be internet available to you at the hotel but not onboard the M/V Oceans For Youth and Jardines Aggressor I or II.

 

What if I need medical care in Cuba?
There are hospitals and clinics that treat tourists. Your program guide will be able to direct you to the nearest facility. Travelers are required to have proof of medical insurance while in Cuba if asked.

 

Does Cuba have a recompression chamber with qualified personel to operate it?
Yes, there are several recompression chambers in Cuba with qualified personel manning them should you have an issue.

Does Divers Alert Network and Diveassure cover dive accident insurance while in Cuba? Travelers will need to contact them direct.  NOTE: DIVEASSURE.COM covers dive and health ins in Cuba but NOT cancellation issues.

Do you offer travel insurance to Cuba? Several companies offer ins for Cuba. YOU MUST HAVE TRIP INSURANCE AS ALL RESERVATIONS ARE FINAL AND CAN NOT BE TRANSFERRED. AIG offers travel insurance and must be purchased directly through them. You can also get ins via Alianz for Cuba. If you have questions, please contact Aggressor Travel for more information at:  +1-706-993-2531 or emailing them at info@aggressortravel.com.

 

Do we need additional shots or vaccinations?
No, there are no required vaccinations for US citizens before traveling to Cuba.

 

Do we need to know how to speak Spanish?
No, most Cubans speak enough English to help you.

 

Will the OFY Cuba Travel Program be able to handle dietary restrictions?
Specialty food items are very limited and depending on your dietary restrictions, it may not be possible during your trip.

 

Will our travel insurance program work in Cuba, including our dive insurance policies?
Please check with your insurance company to ensure they have added Cuba to their program after the rule was lifted January 16, 2015. NOTE: DIVEASSURE.COM covers dive and health ins in Cuba but NOT cancellation issues.

What is the minimum age limit for the Cuba Travel Program?
The minimum age limit of the Cuba Travel Program is 10 years of age and older. The age limit to scuba dive by Cuban law is 15 years of age.

If I am a US citizen and wanting more information on traveling to Cuba, is there a website I can go to?
Following is the US Department of Treasury website providing more information: https://www.treasury...es/default.aspx
Up until January 2017, the Jardines Aggressor I and II are unable to accommodate Cuban born Americans due to Cuba Coast Guard restrictions, we suggest you research this further to see if regulations have changed. Foreign passport holders that were born in Cuba must also check with their embassy prior to traveling to see if any restrictions apply.

Am I able to write off any portion of my trip on my taxes for the charitable work I will be doing?  Travelers may download the tax letter after final payment has been made which will provide documentation of your charitable work on behalf of Oceans For Youth Foundation (501c3), and the Cuba Marine Conservation Program.  View Sample Letter.

 

 

ONGOING TRIP FAQ (QUESTIONS ASKED BY MEMBERS AND THE REPLIES IN ONE CONVENIENT LOCATION)

 

Location: Cuba
Dates:      June 29-July 6, 2019

 

Hello Cuba trip goers!

 

We will use this topic to manage all the questions asked about this trip. Please check back frequently to see what others have asked and how we have replied. This will be the ONLY ongoing TRIP FAQ for this trip so you'll only have to look in one place and can quickly see what has been added since the last time you checked. :thankyou:

CUBA TRIP FAQ:

  • What's Included
     

    Q. How do I find out what is included in this trip pkg?  3-21-18

    A. Please click on the #1 Topic with the Trip Name in it and read that topic. It will tell you what is included and what is not. Sometimes when we open a trip we are missing some information so as it is available we will add it below in this TRIP FAQ as well as add it to the  #1TRIP DETAILS POST.
     

     

  • Accommodations
     
  • Options & Extras
     
  • Discounts & Rebates
     
  • Payment Information
     
  • Travel Details
     
  • Diving & Itinerary
     
  • Experience Required, Training & Workshops
     
  • Insurance, Documentation, and T&C's
     
  • Other updates

Edited by dive_sail_etc, 18 September 2018 - 02:52 PM.


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