Your travel experience in Cuba will be like none other you’ve experienced.

Perhaps you’re going for one of the many all-inclusive resorts – Italians flock to the famous ones in Varadero, Holguín, and beyond every year. In fact, Cuba is Italy’s fifth most travelled tourist destination, with around 800,000 travellers visiting each year.

Though known for the white sandy beaches that line the coast of the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is so much more than just resorts.

In the cities, especially the capital of Havana, you will find fine Spanish architecture and colourful vintage American cars from the 1940s and 50s. The old-timey cars come as a result of the long-time Communist party rule in the country and isolation from its neighbour, the United States. Cuba’s most famous politician, Fidel Castro, headed the revolution that led to torn relations with the United States during the Cold War. Now, after more than five decades, Cuba has remained mostly uninfluenced by Western culture. This could change soon. In 2015, American President Barack Obama announced restored diplomatic relations with Cuba. Known as the “Cuban Thaw” the US embargo on commercial and business interests could soon be lifted and American tourists and influence will slowly start to make its way into the Caribbean nation.

Many Italians visiting Cuba nowadays see the country at a turning point – a frozen-in-time nation whose people and culture could be greatly impacted by the recent diplomatic shift.

 

What Vaccines Do I Need For Cuba?

There are no vaccinations required to enter Cuba, howeer we strongly recommend to have your routine vaccinations are up-to-date. In addition, travellers to Cuba may be at risk of contracting the following diseases:

  • Hepatitis A: Italians are at risk of contracting this infection through contaminated food and water. You should always be cautious of what you are consuming, even if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort.
  • Hepatitis B: A serious liver disease commonly spread through sexual intercourse, exchange of body fluids, and use of an infected needle or piercing tools. Travellers are advised against getting tattooed or pierced while in Cuba.
  • Rabies: Travellers to Cuba should avoid contact with dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, bats, and birds as the Rabies infection has been found in parts of the Caribbean.

Cuba has also reported cases of cholera in recent years. The last confirmed Cholera case was a Italian traveller who returned from the country in January 2015. Further cases have been reported as recently as August 2015 in the province of Holguín. Travellers can take an oral vaccination called Dukoral which is effective against up to 85% of cases of this intestinal infection.

Dengue fever has also been found in Cuba. Since there is no vaccination against this mosquito-borne disease, proactive measures taken to protect yourself from bites are recommended. Another viral disease spread by mosquito is chikungunya. There is currently an outbreak of the disease in Cuba and like Dengue Fever, the best protection is through bite prevention, especially around sunrise and sunset.

For more details on any of the above vaccinations, visit our detailed vaccination pages or make an appointment with your local clinic by calling +39 392 0056499 or booking online today.

 

What Is The Climate Like In Cuba?

Cuba has a tropical climate with temperatures that remain fairly consistent throughout the year. There is only about a four degree range between the average temperature in January (23º Celsius) and July (27º Celsius).

Hurricane season in Cuba lasts from June until the end of November, with September and October being the most destructive months. November until April is the dry season, and is considered the best time of year to visit the island nation.

 

Is Cuba Safe For Travel?

Pickpocketing and theft does occur in Cuba, though much less frequently than in many Caribbean countries. Italians have reported crimes primarily around Havana and on the beaches of Playa del Este and Varadero. You should also keep a close eye on your bags at the airport, as luggage is frequently opened and items are either removed or added. There are drug sniffer dogs at the airport, so ensure you are only carrying goods you packed.

Scammers sometimes take advantage of the fact that Cuba uses two official currencies, the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the national peso (MN). Travellers frequently pay in CUC, and merchants may try to rip off foreigners by providing change in national pesos, which are worth substantially less.

If you ever report a crime to the local police, you should receive a document called Comprobante de Denuncia which is a formal police report.

Italian travellers should do their best to not break the law while in Cuba, as punishment can be firm. Drug trafficking and sexual assault can result in long prison sentences, and drinking and driving is against the law. Italians are frequently arrested and detained in Cuba as a result of traffic accidents. The onus is on the driver to prove themselves innocent and even the most minor of accidents can take up to a year to go to trial. At this time you are not allowed to leave the country. Most roads outside the cities are not lit at night, providing hazardous conditions for driving.

 

Cuba’s Casas Particulares

Perhaps you’ve come across the term casa particular when researching off-resort accommodation in Cuba. Casa Particulares are private accommodations where travellers can live with an individual or family in their home. The room rentals have been an important source of income for many Cubans since 1997 when the government first allowed this new form of lodging.

Each casa particular will have its own standard of health and safety, though most are generally clean.

If you plan to stay in a Casa Particulares or another private residence while you’re doing business in Cuba you must check in with the Cuban government office in Italy prior to departure.

 

What Should I Pack For Cuba?

Here are some key items you should not forget when packing your bag for Cuba:

      • Any prescription medication: Medication can be hard to find when you travel, but this is particularly true of Cuba, where herbal medicine is often the option of choice. Ensure you have any necessary prescription or travel medication before leaving home.
      • Sunscreen: Likewise, travellers have reported that it is difficult to find quality sunscreen while in Cuba. Anything you do find will likely be very expensive.
      • Travel insurance: This is essential. Ensure your travel insurance policy covers medical treatment in Cuba, since everything must be paid for before you leave the country. There have been reports of travellers having their insurance policy declined if it is affiliated with an American company. Since phone calls are very expensive in Cuba, make sure the policy you choose has a manned 24-hour emergency line so you do not need to be calling again and again.
      • A fleece jacket and warm clothes: It’s not all beach all the time, and Cuba’s evenings can get chilly. Bring your jacket along if you’ll be riding one of the ViAzul buses that cart travellers across the island. The drivers often set the air conditioning to freezing.
      • Baby diapers and food: If you’re travelling to Cuba with your young children, be aware that baby food and disposable diapers are only available at select spots in Havana, and rarely available in other parts of the island. The same goes for any medication your child may need – bringing it from home is best.
 

Where Is The Italian Embassy In Cuba?
All Italians visiting Cuba should register with the Embassy of Italy to Cuba before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.

The Embassy of Italy to Cuba

5 Avenida n. 402 – esq. Calle 4,
Miramar – Playa, Ciudad de La Habana

Tel. : (+53) 7204 5615

24/7 Emergency line: +53 5280 5417

Email: amb.lavana@cert.esteri.it 

Visit the Embassy of Italy to Cuba website prior to your departure to confirm correct contact details.

 

What Are The Entry And Exit Requirements For Cuba?

Italians require a visa when entering Cuba as a tourist, for business, or as a student. To apply for a tourist card or visa, your passport must be valid for up to one month past your intended date of departure. To enter the country you must have evidence of an onward or outward ticket and must meet the country’s minimum financial needs, which is 50 Cuban convertible pesos per day (about $70 CAD).

A tourist card is generally given by tour operators or airlines and can also be organized at a Cuban government office in Italy or at certain airports. You must carry this card with you at all times when in the country.

Italian-born tourists can stay in Cuba for up to six months if they apply for an extension before the 90-day mark. There have been reports of Italian tourists who were born outside of Italy being treated differently, despite travelling on a Italian passport. In these cases tourists were told by immigration they could only stay for 30 days.

Entry requirements to Cuba may change at any time, so it’s important to check in with the Embassy of Cuba in Italy or one of its Italian consulates to receive the most up-to-date information.

If you have any questions about travelling to Cuba or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your Passport Health travel medicine clinic today by calling +39 392 0056499 or booking online.


 

Health Alerts For Cuba

INFLUENZA Worldwide
May '16 – According to the CDC, annual vaccination against seasonal influenza is recommended for all people 6-months of age and older. Globally, influenza activity is low in most regions. In North America, influenza activity continues to decrease. In Europe, influenza activity continues to decrease in most countries. In northern Africa and the Middle East, influenza activity continues to decrease or remained low in most countries; however activity remained high in Jordan and Turkey. In the temperate countries of Asia, influenza activity continued to decrease, but continues to remain high in the Republic of Korea. In tropical countries of the Americas, influenza activity remains low in most countries. In tropical Asia, influenza activity began to decline in India but continued to decrease in southern China and Hong Kong SAR. In tropical Africa, influenza activity increased in western Africa, however Madagascar reported declining influenza activity. Lastly, in the southern hemisphere influenza activity remains at inter-seasonal levels.
Sources Include: International Society for Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization.

CHOLERA in Cuba
May '16 – Cholera is a bacterial disease that can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Cholera is most often spread through the ingestion of contaminated food or drinking water. Although cholera is preventable, an estimated 3 to 5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world. Cholera is common in many Sub-Saharan African countries. Passport Health offers products for water purification and electrolyte replacement; precautions for food and water are covered in the travel consultation.
During 2015, the following places have reported cases and/or deaths due to cholera:
In Africa: Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Tanzania alone has seen 4,835 cases, including 68 deaths in its most recent outbreak.
In Asia: India and Syria.
In the Americas: The last confirmed cholera case in Cuba was reported in a Italian Traveler returning from Cuba in January 2015. In the Dominican Republic, since the beginning of the epidemic (November 2010), more than 32,200 suspected cholera cases have been reported, including more than 480 deaths. Since the beginning of 2015, more than 180 suspected cases, including 9 deaths, have been reported; this is an increase of cases compared to the same period last year. In Haiti, since the beginning of the epidemic (October 2010), more than 734,000 cholera cases have been reported, of which more than 50% were hospitalized and more than 8,700 have died. Since the beginning of 2015, there have been more than 10,300 cases, including 106 fatalities; the number of cases and deaths reported in 2015 are already higher than those reported during the same period last year. In 2014, Mexico reported 14 cases from two states (Hidalgo and Querétaro). Since the beginning of 2015, there have been no new cholera cases registered.
Sources Include: International Society for Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control, Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization.

DENGUE FEVER in Cuba
May '16 - Dengue Fever cases have been on the rise worldwide. According to WHO, incidence of dengue has increased 30 fold in the past 50 years. WHO estimates over 2.5 billion people are now at risk of dengue and there are about 50-100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. According to the CDC, dengue fever is the most common cause of fever in travelers who return from South Central Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
Sources Include: International Society for Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization.

ZIKA VIRUS in Cuba
May '16 - Zika fever was originally detected in Africa, however an increasing number of cases have been detected in the Americas. Brazil, Colombia, and the Caribbean have been the hardest hit so far, but the disease is spreading rapidly. On Dec. 31 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first case of the disease in a resident who had not traveled outside of the island.
Some locally transmitted cases have been found in Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Vietnam.
Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to continue to change over time.
Zika fever is a viral illness similar to dengue fever, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis. It is spread though mosquito bites and mosquitoes carrying the virus can bite during the day and at night. Symptoms of zika fever include high temperature, headache, red eyes, skin rash, muscle aches, and joint pains.
Those traveling to the South or Central America or the Caribbean should take extra precautions in order to avoid the mosquito-borne disease including using mosquito repellents, mosquito netting and protective clothing.
Sources Include: International Society for Infectious Diseases, Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization.

For more information on notices, or to find out if where you are going may be affected, please see our Health Alerts map: