Frequently Asked Questions
Return to Cuba Information
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 will participate to comply with the US Government rules for travel to Cuba.
Who and how do we pay for this trip?
All funds must be paid to 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.
The Foundation firmly believes that educating not only Americans and our international guests but also Cubans 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.
Cuban Alcohol & Tobacco? Effective September 24, 2020, authorized travelers may no longer return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use. Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption in Cuba.
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 1 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?
Aggressor Detours Travel Department provides our program with air travel. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Aggressor Adventures Reservations Office.
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 boat have it?
There is no internet 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.
Do you offer travel insurance to Cuba? AIG offers travel insurance and must be purchased directly through them.
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.
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.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Pages/default.aspx
Up until January 2017, the Jardines Aggressor I and II were 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.