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Cuba Today: People and Society

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Road Scholar
Program #20437RJ
9 Days | 8 Nights
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EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
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Discussion Board

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Deirdre Mc Kee Sep 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Take American dollars. Changing to Canadian and then to CUC will not be a benefit. It would be good if Road Scholar would send these answers out well in advance to all that sign up because every group has the same questions. I went last December. And most likely you won't be spending a lot of money while there. Eventually all your questions will be answered but I, too, planned it out very early.
Natalie Maynor Sep 13, 2014 at 12:40 PM

I used British pounds and Japanese yen because I happened to have them on hand. That worked well (saved the surcharge for US$ -- this was in 2011), but I doubt that it would have been worth it if I hadn't already had them sitting around my house.
Natalie Maynor Sep 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM

PS: I *adored* the trip. I put four sets of pictures of it on Flickr. The first set is here (and from it you can get to the other three sets if you're interested):

Kendra Roth Sep 13, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Any suggestions on what type of currency to take--$US or $CDN?
Richard Hannegan Sep 13, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Well - a US $ will get you 87 centavos.Depending on which web site you use, a Canadian dollar will get you anywhere from 90 to 97 centavos. When I was there it was a straight 1-to-1 conversion. Maybe someone who has just returned can comment.

Elizabeth Fithian-Barrett Sep 11, 2014 at 06:16 PM

Hello travelers. I would appreciate any advice available regarding useful and needed donations, particularly for the women's choral group and the dance school. Going on the Nov. 4 departure . Thanks!
Jan Wolfe Sep 11, 2014 at 07:17 PM

I went on this fabulous trip in April! It is a life changer, and you will fall in love with the Cuban people. Next time I will pack more donations and simply pay the over 44 pounds charge. These people have so very little, and everything helps. Even if people might have the money to purchase items, those items often aren't available - for example, toothpaste was in short supply in April. Some things not listed in the materials which would be helpful would be latex gloves, sheet music (the adult choir in Cienfuegos would like some religious music by Mendelsohn or Verdi), guitar strings, dance attire, feminine hygiene products. The english bookstore Cuba Libro has a facebook page, so you might be able to ask if they have specific requests. Don't forget your own toilet paper, alcohol or alcohol wipes, facial wipes, extra Ziploc bags, hand sanitizer, and your flexibility cap. Also, an extension cord comes in handy. You might also want to do a few extra squats before you go - many toilets don't have seats - but don't worry because any inconveniences will pale in comparison to the enormous joy you will experience in Cuba.

Deirdre Mc Kee Sep 11, 2014 at 09:14 AM

True about the passport. Not true about the cell phone, though it most likely won't work in Cuba. I went in December 2013
Richard Hannegan Sep 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

A satphone wil work, and getting a Cuban sim card is always a possibility. Thats one of those things where you need to talk to your carrier.

Virginia Sawin Sep 11, 2014 at 08:28 AM

We are considering a trip to Cuba. I have heard a couple of rumors and wanted to check their validity. First, you must have a passport that is valid through six months after your scheduled return. And second, that you should not take a cell phone as they are confiscated by the Cuba authorities. Would appreciate any thoughts from someone who has made the trip. Thank you.
Richard Hannegan Sep 11, 2014 at 08:42 AM

I believe that's the case with passports, but you need to check with an authoritative source. There are no US cell providers in Cuba, so unless you're going to use your phone as a camera, it's not very useful. The Cubans do have problems with GPS equipped devices. Our group all had cell phones, cameras and laptops and none of us were challenged. Clearing customs -- in and out -- was a fairly painless process.
Road Scholar Sep 11, 2014 at 02:06 PM

Hi Virginia, the passport item in your post is essential. The six month passport requirement is a must, as well as additional paperwork to secure your spot on our pre-approved group visa. Before you arrive in Miami, we make sure all paperwork is in order for each traveler so no one is left stranded at the airport.

Joan Engelhaupt Sep 10, 2014 at 01:14 AM

To Richard Hannegan:

I read your trip blog with interest. I'm hoping that was not a Road Scholar tour. I took their Cuba tour in February of 2013, and had almost none of the problems you endured. It sounded like yours was some sort of railfans' tour, right?
Richard Hannegan Sep 10, 2014 at 08:48 AM

The trip was operated by a well-known rail tour operator on the West Coast. It the last of 8 tours of Cuba. They were unapologetic for the poor service and lack of due diligence. However -- it was a great opportunity to see the island.

Richard Hannegan Sep 08, 2014 at 02:59 PM

If you're looking for some editorial content and interesting pictures, you might want to look at

I visited the island in 2012, and am looking forward to returning. I can share the website detailing that trip if there's any interest -- particularly for first-time visitors.
Kira Dirlik Sep 09, 2014 at 11:51 AM

I would be interested in seeing the details of your trip. I'll be going on my first trip to Cuba. Thanks.
Richard Hannegan Sep 09, 2014 at 07:40 PM

As requested:
Velvet Dallesandro Sep 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Really enjoyed reading about your trip, thanks for sharing. I'm still laughing about your "village idiot" comment ("There are 12 of us.. One village has been kind enough to lend us their idiot for the duration")!

Sue Hobbs Sep 08, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Is anyone on the Dec 2nd tour?
Richard Hannegan Sep 08, 2014 at 02:56 PM

Alas no -- January 16th

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
8 nights of accommodations
21 meals: 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
4 Expert-led lectures
12 Field trips
14 Hands-on experiences
2 Flights during the program
Visas: 1(out of 1 required)


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