|Collette Vacations Rediscover Cuba - A Cultural Exploration
|Listed below is important information to assist you in preparing for your upcoming trip. This information provided will help you have a more enjoyable experience while you are on your tour.
|On some programs, there are a limited number of single and triple rooms. Double Rooms usually consist of 2 beds. Triple rooms are normally a standard double room with 2 beds. A cot or rollaway bed may be added to the double room at some hotels, based on room size and fire codes. When triples are not available, appropriate charges for single and twin accommodations will be assessed.
We make every effort to accommodate your specific requests and forward them to the hotels. These requests cannot be guaranteed as hotels may not always be able to honor them.
Check in times are set by individual hotel properties and vary by hotel. Depending on your arrival time, there may be a delay in gaining access to your room as most hotels offer afternoon check ins. We ask guests to observe check out times at all properties as designated by the hotel.
Some hotels will require your passport information upon check in in order to activate telephones in the rooms and for potential incidental charges. Most hotels charge an access fee for using phones in hotel rooms. Please check with the front desk personnel at each hotel for specific policies.
Hotel membership programs are not applicable. Remember that all charges must be paid for in cash upon check out.
In certain countries, hotel rooms tend to be smaller than standard U.S. accommodations. Please be assured that we use high quality properties throughout each country.
|Arrival Day Suggestions
|Miami is a great city with lots of exciting sightseeing to do. Here is a list of suggestions on how to spend your free time on arrival day, prior to meeting up with your fellow travelers:
Coconut Grove: great outdoor shopping areas with cafes, restaurants, shops and beautiful parks along the bay. While here you can also visit the Barnacle Historic State Park, featuring a late 19th century home and beautiful lush gardens. Coral Gables: head over to Miracle Mile for some shopping at its quaint boutique, great international restaurants and upscale atmosphere. Miami Beach: Here you can enjoy the rich Art Deco architecture along Ocean Drive, walk along the pedestrian only Lincoln Road Mall or spend some time in one of its fabulous beaches. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: beautiful architectural gem built in 1916 featuring gorgeous views of Biscayne Bay and some of Miami’s most beautiful formal gardens. Bayside Marketplace Downtown Miami: great outdoor shopping venue, great for souvenirs, views of Biscayne Bay and nice restaurants. They also offer bay cruises featuring the islands off the coast.
|Clothing & Packing Tips
|Packing Medication: If you are taking prescription medication, please be sure to take an adequate supply for your tour and a few additional days, in original prescription containers. Medication should be packed in your carry on baggage (never in checked luggage). You may want to carry an extra prescription in a separate bag in case medication is lost; filling prescriptions while in Cuba may be challenging. Over-the-counter drugs are also not easily purchased, so please bring additional supplies for your trip.
Because of Cuba’s semitropical climate, you may wish to pack light clothing, including shorts, short sleeved shirts and mostly casual summer apparel. Walking tours will take place on cobblestone streets or uneven pavement; therefore, comfortable walking shoes are advisable at all times. Bring hats and sun visors to protect yourself from the sun. There will be a few evenings on tour that will require “smart casual” clothing, where shorts are not appropriate, but suits and ties are not necessary.
|Your personal bank card, ATM card, and credit cards, if issued by an American bank, will not work while in Cuba; therefore, we suggest bringing an adequate amount of cash to cover all out-of-pocket expenses.
You may exchange your money at airports, banks, exchange bureaus, and at most hotels. In most cases, a commission charge will be assessed to exchange your money. At hotels or in the city you will usually get a better currency exchange rate than at airports.
For the Miami portion of your trip only, we recommend carrying only a few major credit cards. Credit card purchases often provide an extra guarantee on your purchase (check with your specific credit card company for details and fees). It is advisable to contact any credit card company you intend utilizing while on tour before you depart to notify them where you will be traveling, to avoid any rejection of services.
|Although Cuba also uses 110 voltage with standard American outlets, some hotels only offer 220 voltage. An adaptor (which changes the physical plug) and/or converter (which changes the electric current) may be necessary if you plan to use an appliance with voltage different from the standard within the country you are visiting. Please note, if your appliance has dual voltage you may still need an adaptor for the plug. When packing your electronic items for travel, please review the converter electric current level to make sure it the same or greater than the items you are planning on using.
If you plan on utilizing or transporting a sleep apnea machine, please remember to pack an extension cord & adapter plug to ensure proper function.
|Elevation on this tour will not exceed 1,000 feet.
|Bring a copy of your passport/identification and pack it separately from the original and carry it with you while on tour, leaving your original passport securely in your hotel safe.
Leave a copy of your tour itinerary at home with your emergency contact and a copy of your passport.
Remember when flying you can only take one quart size bag with no more than 3 ounces of any one liquid.
Liquids that do not fit in the one quart size bag and are larger than 3 ounces will be discarded by security.
Remember to hydrate and get up and stretch while flying.
Bring a camera, memory cards, film, and batteries and be sure to bring enough photography supplies for your entire trip.
If you have a video camera, bring an extra battery, plus proper recharging equipment. Due to security screening, we recommend storing your equipment in your carry on luggage.
Bring a travel alarm clock, travel sewing kit and an alcohol based gel hand sanitizer when soap and water is not accessible. It is also advisable to pack some tissue paper as not all public restrooms are equipped with toilet paper.
We also suggest bringing an adequate supply of insect repellent and sunscreen, as it is often difficult to purchase these items at local stores.
Pack items that may leak in plastic bags. Do not pack any articles of value in your checked luggage.
As a precaution, we suggest that you divide the contents of your suitcase with your traveling companion.
Avoid over packing and leave room for souvenirs that you plan to take back home.
Have small coins available for rest stop attendants.
|The following are included in your tour package: round trip charter flight from Miami, transportation via motorcoach, accommodations, hotel, luggage handling, meals, sightseeing, admission charges (as outlined in your itinerary), and applicable gratuities for bellmen, doormen and dining room wait staff. Customary gratuities for personnel, hotel housekeeping staff, local sightseeing guides, drivers and tour managers have not been included.
|Cuban food is extremely flavorful, using lots of herbs and spices, though not spicy hot. Local specialties include various seafood dishes featuring anything from lobster to local Caribbean fish often in sauces or served with rice. Pork and chicken are other favorites and can often be served with beans and rice. Local vegetables are somewhat limited to mostly root vegetables, such as varieties of potatoes or yams, though it is common to be served salads with fresh tomatoes, cabbage and cucumbers. Fried plantains (a type of sturdier banana) often accompany main dishes. Tropical fruits are delicious and include mangos, pineapples, small bananas and papayas, though rich desserts such as flan, rice pudding or other creamy desserts should also be sampled while in Cuba. The beverage of choice is either the local rum which come in many varieties, or a non-alcoholic malt-based drink known as malta. Don’t forget to try some of the local daiquiris or pina coladas, too. It is best to drink bottled water while in Cuba, and both sparkling and still are available at most restaurants and markets.
|Please consult with your domestic scheduled airline as luggage fees & restrictions vary by carrier and destination.
Due to charter airline restrictions on your Cuban roundtrip flight, you are limited to one carry on (less than 15lbs) and one checked luggage. A maximum of 44 pounds in combined weight is allowed. The charter airline fee is 20 USD for the 1st checked bag, which must be paid in cash upon check in at Miami airport. This charge is assessed outbound from Miami only. Anything over 44 pounds will be subject to excess baggage fees of 2 USD per pound. If you check a second bag, the fee is 65 USD.
Wheeled carry on is not suitable for coach tours.
If you exceed the limit of 2 bags, we cannot guarantee that your additional luggage will be able to fit in the touring vehicle. Storage or shipment of additional luggage will be at your own expense.
If we are able to accommodate your additional luggage, we will assess a fee of 4 USD per bag per hotel.
Please remember to label your luggage and important items with your name, home address and telephone number. We recommend labeling your luggage on both outside and inside of the bag.
Please attach only the plastic luggage tag included in this mailing to your checked luggage before checking in for your flight.
Your paper luggage tag is to be attached at the first hotel.
We cannot assume liability or accept claims for loss or damage to luggage and personal effects due to breakage, theft or normal wear and tear that results from hotel, airline and group carrier handling. It is in your best interest to have adequate insurance (such as our comprehensive “No Worries Travel Protection”) to cover these eventualities.
|Most meals are included as indicated in your document itinerary.
Guests with special dietary requirements must advise their travel counselor at the time of booking and also the tour manager upon joining the tour.
When information is provided, every effort will be made to accommodate these requests.
Please be advised that the average cost of meals (not inclusive of tax and gratuity) that are not included in your tour are as follows: breakfast 7 to 10 USD, lunch 10 to 15 USD and dinner 20 to 30 USD.
While in Cuba, all meals not included in the tour must be paid for in cash.
Customary tipping is 10-15% on all services.
|In order to fulfill OFAC’s (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury) licensing requirements on this tour, you will have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler, you, and individuals in Cuba. The itinerary has been designed with these requirements in mind and there will be no leisure time on this program as on other Collette tours.
You will receive a letter from Collette Vacations on Collette Vacations letterhead that authorizes you to travel under Collette Vacations’ travel license to Cuba (#CT 2012 – 299283 - 1). You must have this letter on you at all times and it is advisable that you also keep a copy in a separate piece of luggage and at home with your emergency contact. You will need this letter to travel to and from the United States and if any authorities request this document while in Cuba.
Record Keeping Requirements per OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury): Each passenger is required to keep a general written record of each day's activities in Cuba as to the various sites visited and transactions or activities engaged in. Such records shall be kept and retained by passenger to be made available for examination upon demand (by OFAC) for at least five (5) years from the date of each transaction.
|Itinerary is subject to modifications in order to fulfill the people-to-people requirements while on tour.
U.S. cell phones will not work while in Cuba.
Vaccines may be required for travel to Cuba. Consult your physician for further information on recommended vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can provide you with the most up-to-date information on current inoculation requirements. This information can be accessed via the international travelers' hotline (404) 332 4559 or via the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/vaccinat.htm.
|Interested in reading about your destination before you depart? We have pre-selected travel guides, novels and books on history, nature and art to help enhance your total vacation experience. You can access the complete list by typing the following into your web browser. Select the region of the world to find your tour: http://www.longitudebooks.com/find/d/129/r/CV/mcms.html
|According to U.S. government customs regulations, no traveler may import Cuban-made goods into the country, including Cuban cigars and rum. You may, however, bring information and informational materials — books, magazines, films, posters, photographs, microfilms, tapes, CDs, records, works of art, etc.
|You will be accompanied from Miami by a Collette employee representative who will remain with you throughout your entire trip to/from Cuba.
In order to further enhance your experience of this destination, a local Cuban National guide will be your tour manager for the duration of the trip within Cuba. This local tour manager will organize the educational exchange activities in Cuba, which will involve meaningful interaction between you and people in Cuba.
Gratuities should be extended on a voluntary basis and should be in direct proportion to the level of professionalism and personal service extended to you throughout the tour. Past experience has shown that a guideline of 4-6 CUC per person for each traveling day is a customary amount for your Cuban National tour manager. A customary amount of 3-5 CUC per person per day is suggested for the driver.
|Air Inclusive Vacations
Your air inclusive vacation to Cuba covers charter air transport to and from Miami. In order to comply with Homeland Security’s “Secure Flight” mandate, all passengers must provide full name, date of birth and gender at time of reservation. Your airline ticket must match the name on your valid, non expired, government issued photo ID to be shown at the airport (including middle name, first or middle initial).
Whenever possible, we will add charges for air departure taxes to your invoice. Some international arrival and departure fees are not included in your air ticket and must be paid by you on tour in local currency.
Due to the limited number of flights to Cuba, early or late flights may be necessary to fulfill all required components of the tour. Please note that a departure tax of 25 Cuban Pesos (CUC), approximately 30 USD, must be paid for in cash prior to boarding your flight back to Miami.
On your return to Miami from Cuba, you may need to allow additional time to clear customs and immigration, as further screening may be required. Please keep this in mind if booking your own return flight back to your final destination.
We are pleased to provide you with complimentary airport to hotel, and hotel to airport transfers at the beginning and end of an escorted tour when you purchase an air inclusive vacation.
Land only clients within the United States who have purchased round trip transfers will be accommodated at the same times as air inclusive clients.
Arrival meeting locations and transfer departure times are provided on your document booklets.
On some programs there may be a waiting period at the airport due to varying flight schedules of other arriving passengers.
If you have secured your own transfer, you may meet your tour manager at the hotel in Miami.
Motorcoach Information: We do not own or operate transportation vehicles. We charter quality coaches that are temperature controlled vehicles.
Coach size may vary based upon the number of tour patrons. In certain countries, lavatory equipped motorcoaches are not available or the lavatory is for emergency use only.
Frequent stops will be made en route for comfort and convenience.
Seat Rotation: Seats are rotated for the benefit of our tour guests, fosters communication, and enables our guests to enjoy a variety of vantage points on the motorcoach. Guests will rotate seats at least once a day, as directed by the tour manager. In fairness to all, there will be no exceptions to this policy.