Here’s the first thing you should know about traveling to Cuba: it’s a little different than visiting other island destinations on a cruise. There are extra U.S. government requirements that need to be met when cruising to Cuba.
Passport Requirementsfor Cruise Vacations in Cuba
Everyone traveling to Cuba needs a valid passport. The Cuban government doesn’t accept passport cards. We recommend all travelers carry a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months after the date of the voyage.
U.S. Citizens Traveling to Cuba:
The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) oversees travel to Cuba. Currently, U.S. citizens can travel under 12 different categories. It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty simple, especially for clients who just want to visit Cuba on a cruise. We recommend booking a shore excursion offered through your cruise line (ex: Azamara, Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, etc) while in Cuba. This qualifies as a “People-to-People exchange program” which is one of the approved categories.
Everyone must complete an OFAC form:
Before cruising to Cuba, travelers need to complete a form to certify they’re traveling under an OFAC category. Your cruise line will have the OFAC form available as part of the Online Check-In process. Just make sure you fill the form out at least 3 days before the departure date. Guests can’t board the cruise ship without it.
Everyone must keep a log of their activities
While in Cuba, cruise lines like Norwegian will make sure guests have a full schedule of activities that comply with OFAC requirements. Guests should keep a log of their activities (and keep it for 5 years) in case they need to prove that a trip to Cuba complied with OFAC’s rules. Non-U.S. citizens should also keep records of their activities and sign affidavits confirming they’re doing so.
Visa Requirement for Cruise Vacations in Cuba
Everyone traveling to Cuba also needs a visa. (The exception? Travelers with valid Cuba passports.) Guests can’t board a cruise ship without proof of acquiring one. If you are traveling on Cruise Line like Norwegian or Carnival, U.S. residents can obtain a visa through them for a separate processing and procurement fee of $75.
The Cuban visa (or tourist card) is required to enter Cuba on a cruise. It’s valid for a single entry and allows the holder to stay in Cuba for up to 30 days. The visa is a two-part card, and immigration officials will take both parts upon arrival in Cuba.
For U.S. residents, the visa (or rosada) has a pink and blue background.
For non-U.S. residents, the Cuban embassy or consulate issues a visa with the background color for that country.
In rare instances, Cuban immigration officials won’t accept a visa issued by the Cuban embassy or consulate of a foreign country. If that happens, travelers will need to purchase a U.S. resident visa.
Travelers can also contact the Cuban embassy or consulate in their country of residency to obtain a visa or passport.
U.S. RESIDENTS SHOULD CONTACT:
Cuban-born guests need specific documents to enter and leave the country:
Travelers born in Cuba who are returning as U.S. citizens need to carry passports from Cuba and the U.S. The Cuban government treats Cuban-born U.S. citizens as Cuban citizens and requires travelers to enter and leave Cuba using a Cuba passport. This will not jeopardize anyone’s U.S. citizenship. Travelers must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.
Guests who emigrated before January 1, 1971
These travelers must carry either (a) or (b):
(a) A valid Cuba passport and a prórroga (a passport extension valid for 2 years). Cuba no longer requires a habilitación (entry permit).
(b) A valid passport from the country of citizenship and an HE-11 visa obtained from the Cuban embassy or consulate (except in cases where a country has a visa exemption agreement with Cuba). The estimated processing time for an HE-11 visa is up to 60 days.
Guests who emigrated on or after January 1, 1971
These travelers must carry a valid Cuba passport and prórroga. The estimated processing time for a Cuba passport is up to 6 months.