1. I want to consult Diaspora for a Program/Project. What’s the process?
It depends! We have three types of programs: Diaspora Signature Programs, Diaspora Branded Programs, and Diaspora Curated Programs.
A Diaspora Signature Program is an open to the public program that is created and scheduled with dates by Diaspora; if you’re interested in our Signature Programs, choose the program you’re interested in, here, then complete the Program/Project Registration Packet which includes a non-refundable deposit payment. Diaspora Signature Programs include NYE En Habana, Diaspora Music Exchange, etc.
A Diaspora Branded Program is a type of program that we offer, but is not currently scheduled. If you’re interested in a Diaspora Branded Program, choose the type of program you’re interested in and complete the Program/Project Registration Packet. Diaspora Branded Programs include such as “Cuban Sticks & Classic Rides” Program, etc.
A Diaspora Curated Program is a program that we hand-craft for our clients based on their interests. This is perfect for universities, interest groups, professionals, etc. that are interested in creating a Program/Project around a specific subject. If you’re interested in a Diaspora Curated Program, you’ll fill out a Client Request Form, here, and tell us about what you’re interested in exploring in Cuba.
Our team will review your request and set up a consultation call to go into more detail about our services. We’ll present a program proposal including a break-down of day-to-day activities for your review. Once you approve the program, you’ll submit your deposit and we’ll get to work on finalizing your experience! Before you know it, you’ll be landing exactly where you always wanted to be.
2. What is included in your Programs/Projects?
Our programs are priced for Single or Double Occupancy Accommodations and may include:
- Commercial Flights to and from your Destination
- Airport Transfers
- US Travel Affidavit
- Casa Accommodations
- Daily Breakfast/Lunch & Orientation Dinner (Additional Dinners May Be Included)
- Cuban Health Insurance and Departure Tax (Mandatory)
- Full Program of Scheduled Activities
- Bilingual Program Guide(s)
- Daily Photographer
3. I want to focus on a specific subject in Cuba. What subjects does Diaspora curate Programs/Projects to?
We curate programs relating to Dance, Art, & Literature; Ecotourism & Sustainable Development, Education, Wellness & Holistic Living; Sports & Athletics; Law, Health Care,Architecture, Religion & Spirituality; International Business & Trade.
4. What type of accommodations do you offer?
You can choose from our selection of Contemporary, Colonial, or Luxury Style Hotels or Casa Particulares. Casa Particulares are similar to bed and breakfasts where Cubans turn their homes into private homestays. Casa particulares come in many forms: rooms in a shared apartment, an entire apartment, villas with swimming pools, or entire buildings converted to receive guests that look like boutique hotels. We recommend Casa Particulares because they offer a more local living arrangement, access to home-cooked Cuban meals, and an engaging and intimate experience with Cuban people. We choose the Accommodations Type based on your preference. See examples of our accommodation types below (Coming Soon).
5. How many people can you curate a program for? Is there a minimum or maximum?
No, there’s no minimum or maximum. We’ve worked with individuals and universities with over 30 students. Keep in mind, the larger the group, the more time we’ll need to curate the program. We can curate a program for any size.
6. How far in advance do I need to book my program?
We recommend booking your program within at least 1 month of departure. Many of clients book their programs 2-3 months in advance.
7. What if I need to cancel my trip?
Life happens. We get it. If for any reason you need to cancel your trip, please send your cancellation request in writing. Deposit fees are non-refundable. If necessary, you can cancel your trip within 90 days of your Program Start Date for a refund. We do not offer refunds if it less than 90 days from the Program Start Date. If you were sharing a room with someone, the cost of a single room will be deducted from the refund.
8. What does your name mean?
Diaspora - We specialize in curating experiences for and/or about Black and Indigenous communities. In this context, Black refers to folks whose ancestors came from Africa and Indigenous refers to those folks who are native to this land. Travel & Trade - We focus on travel, curating programs abroad, and encourage trade within Black and Indigenous communities. We assist business professionals interested in starting business(es) in Cuba and highlight Black and Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs in our monthly platform, Culture + Commerce.
9. Is it legal to travel to Cuba as a US citizen?
Yes! However, US citizens are not allowed to travel to Cuba as tourists. The US Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issues 12 categories of general licenses that allow travel to Cuba. The 12 categories for general licenses are:
- Family travel
- Official government business
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, exhibitions and athletic competitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research for educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
We curate programs/projects for all OFAC general licenses which allow legal travel to Cuba.
10. What is the difference between a “general license" and a visa?
A “general license” is not the same as a “visa.” A license is an authorization from OFAC (The U.S.) that permits travel, while a visa is authorization from the other country’s government to enter their country.
11. Why should I choose your company?
We’ve been traveling to Cuba for over a decade and can take you to the places self-guided travelers can’t find. From adventurous globe trotters to universities—we curate private and public programs beyond tourist attractions and bring your ear to the heartbeat of Cuba.
We connect you to community leaders, students, scholars, artists, and workers, including non-public sector workers, cuentapropistas and cooperative owners. From landing to departure, we focus on the details—visas, accommodations, food, transportation, and more—so you can connect to the wonders of the island. We’re one of few consulting companies specializing in curating programs about Black and Indigenous communities in the Americas so you can unapologetically tap into the rich cultural legacy of beautiful brown people on the island.
12. Do you curate programs to other places than Cuba?
Yes! We curate programs focused on North America, South America, and The Caribbean. Contact us, here, and let us know what country you’re interested in traveling to.
13. Do I need to speak Spanish?
It helps! The national language in Cuba is Spanish and that is the language spoken in local areas. Although, there are some Cubans that speak English. You’ll have a bilingual (English and Spanish) Cuban Tour Guide during your program to help you get around. Also, we offer our clients a Diaspora English-Spanish Resource Guide to equip you with useful beginner phrases.
14. Is there still an embargo on Cuba?
Yes. An embargo is an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country. On October 19, 1960, the US Government placed an embargo (prohibition) on all exports to Cuba, except for food and medicine. Since then, the US Embargo Against Cuba, known in Cuba as el bloqueo ("the blockade”), has grown to consist of a number of Federal statutes and associated regulations that form a commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba. The Embargo is comprehensive, detailing all prohibited activity - almost all direct or indirect financial activity by any persons or entities subject to US Jurisdiction that involves the Cuban Government, Cuban property, or Cuban nationals – and any exceptions to these restrictions. Additionally, they are written so that the Executive Branch has the discretion to broaden or narrow certain areas.
With regard to travel by those subject to US jurisdiction, the Embargo prohibits transactions related to and necessary for travel (purchasing flights, accommodations, food, etc.), whether paid for by the person subject to US Jurisdiction, one subject to a third-party country, or for free. Those whose travel activities qualify for a “general license” or “specific license” as they are defined by the laws relevant to their travel dates, are exempted from these particular financial prohibitions. Over the years, various Administrations have changed the elements required to obtain and comply with general and specific license procedures.
15. I am a vegan or vegetarian. Will you be able to accommodate me in Cuba?
We will accommodate you to the best of our abilities considering the resources we have access to in Cuba. In Cuba, it is much easier now than it was 5 years ago to eat vegetarian or vegan. Prior to any trip, we’ll send you a detailed pre-trip questionnaire, where you can provide us information on your dietary preferences.
16. What type of drinks and food should I expect in Cuba?
Most Cuban dishes include a choice of fish, chicken, or pork for the main course, accompanied by rice, beans, plantains, yucca, or other root vegetables and a small salad. Flan (custard) and/or ice cream are the standard for desserts. Drinks often include fresh hugo (juice), soda, or water. We encourage our clients to drink bottled water while in Cuba.
17. What is the weather like in Cuba?
Cuba has a tropical climate with warm to hot weather. December, January, and February are the coolest months in Cuba; the average maximum daily temperature is around 77°F and the nighttime average is around 65°F. The summer months are from June through August with an average high around 85-90°F and an average low, in the low 70’s. The rainy season typically runs from May to November and the tropical storm season is from July to November.
Natural events such as tropical storms have not generally been a risk to life in Cuba. However, they can cause interruption to travel plans. Cuba is very well organized and prepared for such natural events with evacuation procedures for citizens and visitors. During your trip, please keep in mind that it may rain at any time, so it is wise to have rain gear. It will be hot, so wear comfortable, cool clothing.
18. What should I pack to prepare for Cuba?
We know how easy it is to forget when traveling, so we offer our clients a Cuba Packing Checklist to help make sure that you don’t forget anything! Here are a few key items you should pack:
PERSONAL ITEMS: You should bring your personal items, such as prescription and OTC drugs, washcloths, toothbrush, toothpaste, insect repellant, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, razors, soap, sunscreen, etc. It can be difficult and expensive to purchase these items in Cuba. Make sure to pack clothes and shoes that are appropriate for all aspects of your program, including walking shoes/sneakers, rain gear, a bathing suit and a beach towel.
BATHROOMS: In Cuba, there is often no toilet paper available for free in the public restrooms. Usually, there is a person sitting by the restroom that sells sheets of toilet paper for a small fee. We encourage our clients to carry their own small, portable packages of toilet paper or be prepared with small coins to purchase toilet paper. You should also bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Due to flushing problems, instead of throwing paper into the toilet, it’s best to use the wastebasket next to the toilets.
19. Will I have access to internet in Cuba?
Yes! However, it is not like in the United States where you can access internet through your phone’s data plan. This is how it works in Cuba: you purchase a Wi-Fi card from Cuba’s National Telecommunications company, ETECSA (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A.) center and visit a telepunto (small Internet café) or Wi-Fi Zones/HotSpots that are located throughout the island. As of January 2016, ETECSA offers 65 public WiFi hotspots. The Wi-Fi zones are public places in the city where you can access the internet. The Wi-Fi card will provide you with a username and password, allowing you to log on and access the internet.
In Cuba, you purchase internet by the minute or hour and it cost about 2 CUC ($2 USD) per hour. Connection speeds vary widely and may not support voice or video calls. Also, many hotels also have a business center where you can purchase internet access at an average price of 4 to 8 CUC ($4 to $8 USD) per hour. During our programs, we create times specifically to go to Wi-fi zones and chat with friends and family.
20. I will need to charge my computer, laptop, or camera equipment. Do I need to bring a electric converter?
We recommend bringing a universal adapter to be safe. There are two voltages in Cuba – 110W and 220W. Most places have both plugs. You may just need an adapter to make your 3-prong plug into a 2-prong plug. Sometimes both European and American plugs can be used.
21. Will my U.S. mobile phone work in Cuba?
It’s possible. There are three options for using a mobile phone in Cuba: use your cell phone provider's roaming service, rent a SIMcard in Cuba for your mobile phone, or rent a mobile phone in Cuba.
Some U.S. carriers have or are beginning to make agreements with ETECSA (Cuba’s national telecommunications company) to provide roaming services in Cuba. If your carrier offers a roaming plan and your mobile phone is capable of roaming in Cuba, you should ask your carrier about any additional charges for voice calls, data, and text messages.
You can also use use your U.S. mobile phone in Cuba by renting a SIM card. If you have an unlocked GSM-capable mobile phone, you can rent a SIM card from Cubacel (ETECSA's mobile phone arm) that will allow you to use your mobile phone in Cuba. Cubatel's SIM cards come with prepaid minutes in amounts of 10, 20, or 40 CUC ($10, $20, or $40 USD), plus a daily rental fee for the SIM card of 3 CUC ($3 USD).
Also, you can rent a phone from Cubacel upon arrival in Cuba. There are Cubacel offices in Terminals #2 and #3 at José Martí International Airport in Havana. Cubacel charges a one-time refundable deposit of 100 CUC ($100 USD), plus a daily fee of 10 CUC ($10 USD). You’ll be charged 0.35 CUC ($0.35 USD) per minute for calls within Cuba and 1.85 CUC ($1.85 USD) per minute for calls to the United States. Outgoing text messages cost 0.16 CUC ($0.16 USD) to send within Cuba and 1 CUC ($1.00 USD) to send abroad. Data is not available.
22. How do I make calls from Cuba to the United States? How do I make calls in Cuba?
Calling the United States from a landline in Cuba
To make landline phone calls from Cuba, you can buy a prepaid calling card (available at certain hotels and resorts) for use at public payphones. Here’s how you can make a call to the United States using a pre-paid calling card:
1. Dial 166, then dial the card code, followed by the hash key (#).
2. Dial 119 (the international line access code), then 1 (the U.S. country code).
3. Enter the ten-digit area code and phone number you wish to call, followed by the hash key.
Calling the United States from a mobile phone in Cuba:
To call the United States from Cuba using a mobile phone, use the same dialing format as calling from a hotel landline – dial 119, then 1, followed by the ten-digit area code and phone number.
Making calls inside of Cuba:
All Cuban cell phone numbers begin with a (5). When making a call from a Cuban Landline to a Cuban Cell: Dial (0), then (5), then the rest of the cell phone number.
Havana Cell Phone > Havana Cell Phone: Dial (5), then the rest of the cell phone number.
Havana Landline OR Havana Cell > Havana Landline: Just Dial the landline number
23. How long is the trip to Cuba? When should I arrive to the airport?
If departing from the East Coast, flights to Cuba can be range between 3-4 hours. You should arrive 3 hours prior to your departure time to check in. Check-in closes 1.5 hours before departure time.
24. What type of transportation is available in Cuba?
Taxis are abundant in Cuba. Some taxis are licensed by the Government and others are independent. Most taxis charge in CUC, but there are other taxis that charge in local Pesos, referred to as CUP (Cuban Pesos). Cuban taxis do not have meters, so make sure to negotiate a fair that you both agree on!
25. What type of medical insurance do I need to travel to Cuba?
You must have Cuban health insurance to enter the country and usually this expense is included in your airline ticket, but be sure to confirm with your airline. If Diaspora pays for your flight, then we will obtain your Cuban Health Insurance for you.
26. What happens if I have a medical emergency in Cuba?
If you have an emergency in Cuba, with your airline ticket and passport, you will be admitted into a local clinic or hospital for coverage for non-pre-existing emergency medical coverage. It does not cover medical evacuation out of Cuba. If you want the option of med-vac services, you’ll have to purchase independent supplemental third-party travel insurance.
27. How can I contact the US Embassy in Cuba?
You may visit the the U.S Embassy which is located in the Vedado Neighborhood of the City of Havana and is across the street from a section of el Malecón (officially Avenida de Maceo) on Calzada, between L & M Streets, Vedado, Havana, Cuba. You may also call them at (53)(7) 839-4100 or visit their website.
28. What kind of gifts can I bring?
What you can bring TO Cuba - We suggest that you bring gifts for the people that you will meet in Cuba. Remember, this is simply a suggestion. You are not required to bring gifts. Here’s a list of potential gifts to warm someone’s heart:
- Soap is in high demand! It is expensive and hard to find in Cuba right now.
- Art Supplies (Canvas, oil paints, brushes, sketch pads, watercolors, etc.)
- School/ Writing Supplies (pencils, notepads, pens, envelopes, etc.)
- Medical Supplies
- Medicine (Tylenol, Advil, Vitamins, cold medicine, flu medicine, etc.)
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant
- AA batteries
- Clothes (old/new)
- Baby needs (baby clothes, disposable diapers, baby wipes, etc.)
- Sewing kits
- Mosquito repellent
- For women: Make-up, Perfume, costume jewelry, tampons, and nail polish and hair
- For men: Men’s cologne, disposable razors
- For children: Toys, books, chewing gum, backpacks with logos
- For musicians: guitar strings, reeds for woodwind instruments and drumsticks, CD’s of jazz, R&B, and hip hop music
- For dancers: tank tops, dance pants, sports bras, and ballet, jazz, split sole dance shoes
Another question on your mind? Reach out to us at INFO@DiasporaTT.com