Expert's Corner

Hello! My name is Jacqui Birchall. I am a retired Surrey (BC) high school teacher. My students and I travelled to Cuba with this wonderful people. It was an amazing experience for my students, students who cried as we left Cuba. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about how to organize your trip and any other questions you may have about Cuba. I have been lucky enough to have spent time teaching in Cuba and I have travelled extensively throughout the island. I invite you to take your classroom to Cuba with us!
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General Travel License

U.S. Cuba Legal Travel University & College faculty, staff & students, K-12 teachers are eligible to travel to Cuba under the General License, a process that can be completed by individuals & educational institutions without submitting the application to OFAC.

Cuba Legal Travel

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Your child will come home optimistic and inspired by fresh perspectives on what is possible not only personally but also socially. Your son or daughter’s Cuba educational tour will be a life changing experience for him or her as well as for the Cuban youth they will meet along the tour. Your son or daughter will make friends, establish relationships, and as essential components of life, your child will gain memorable experiences that he or she will treasure as long as they live.


Cuba, with its mix of Spanish and African roots, is the largest, least commercialized, and most exciting island in the Caribbean. It is also one of the world's last bastions of communism with a fascinating modern history. Cuba's relative political isolation has prevented it from being overrun by tourists, and locals are sincerely friendly to those who do venture in.

Why your son or daughter should go to Cuba?

Cuba is an archipelago of islands located in the northern Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Cuba is a paradise for beach lovers. There are few places in the world with as many beaches as Cuba and as beautiful as the ones in this amazing Caribbean Island.

Cuba has some of the biggest and better conserved Spanish colonial architecture cores in America. No wonder Cuba’s Architecture is one of the most significant attractions for foreign visitors to the largest island in the Caribbean.

Cuban culture is influenced by its melting pot of cultures, primarily those of Spain and Africa.

Sport is Cuba's national passion. Baseball is by far the most popular; other sports and pastimes include basketball, volleyball, and athletics. Cuba is a dominant force in amateur boxing, consistently achieving high medal tallies in major international competitions.

Cuban music is very rich and is the most commonly known expression of culture. The central form of this music is Son, which has been the basis of many other musical styles like salsa, rumba and mambo and an upbeat derivation of the rumba, the cha-cha-cha.

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. The traditional Cuban meal is not served in courses; all food items are served at the same time.

Animal life is varied in Cuba, with over 15,000 species of fauna, of which 10% could be on the verge of extinction: 250 vertebrate species are endangered, rare or have become extinct in the last 350 years. The total number includes 42 mammals, 350 species of birds, 121 reptiles, 46 amphibians, 2947 molluscs, 7493 insects and 1300 arachnids.

More than 6000 species of plants are present in Cuba, of which around 3000 are endemic, and 950 plant species that are endangered, rare, or have become extinct in the last 350 years.

Please, visit our Cuba Resources page for further details.

Learn more through authentic experiences

Authentic Cuba Travel's education tours are all about giving your son or daughter moments where they connect with Cuban culture, language and people through authentic peer to peer interaction, conversations, and activities.

We believe your child will also learn better the Cuban culture, language and people by sharing activities with peers through playing sports, dancing or simply sharing typical meals. All our Cuba education tours are designed with these principles in mind.

Safety comes first ALWAYS!

At Authentic Cuba Travel we know that safety always comes first. From performing rigorous safety checks, to providing constant on-tour safety expertise and immediate on-site assistance through our Cuba staff, our dedication to your child's safety is our top priority.

Our Cuba operation experienced staff visits each and every hotel to ensure it meets our safety and security guidelines. We won’t book your child in 4 or 5 bed share dormitories, like other companies do to reduce costs, but in clean, comfortable and safe double rooms at 3 and 4 star hotels and resorts.

Most important, the hotels we work with are used to and happy to receive our students. The hotel staff provides a level of attention, quality of service and friendliness to our students that are unparallel in the school travel industry.

Just an example, when your child’s school group overnights at all inclusive resorts, where all drinks are included (alcoholic and non alcoholic) all students are provided with a bracelet that identifies them as teenagers. This way, bar tenders know they can not serve alcoholic beverages (unless advised otherwise by the school board).

Authentic Cuba Travel has partnered exclusively with the best Cuba transportation company in Cuba: Transgaviota that operates the largest, newest, safest and most advanced fleet in Cuba. We only provide luxury air conditioning motor coaches with the most experienced drivers for our school Cuba education tours.

An expert Authentic Cuba Travel Cuban guide and bus driver will be with the school group every step of the way, providing constant and immediate guidance. They have been fully trained to handle any safety situations that may arise.

Your child behaviour in his/her Cuba education Tour

Unless otherwise advised by your child's school board, student tour participants are expected to maintain the highest standards of personal behaviour while abroad, as they are youth ambassadors for their school and nation.

As such, students who violate any of the following rules are subject to removal from the tour and immediate return home for the following actions:
  • Drinking of alcoholic beverages.
  • The possession or use of illegal drugs (except medicine prescribed by your physician). Note: Students caught with illegal drugs are subject to harsh local laws.
  • Displaying personal conduct adversely affecting the interests of the program or reputation of the school.
  • This includes, but is not limited to acts of physical violence, belligerence, verbal and abuse considered racist, sexist, homophobic (or that violates Canadian Charter rights).
  • Breaking of any laws of the host country and the student participant’s home country.

  • Safest destination: Cuba!

    All Cuban cities are quite safe as they are relatively free from the well-known street dangers encountered in other countries. The Cuban people themselves and travelers can equally walk the cities and streets day and night without having to be concerned about criminal behaviour.

    Purse snatching and mugging are not unknown but are rare in the extreme and pose no problem for anyone with minimal street smarts. In major cities a friendly police officer can be found fairly quickly, and in tourist areas there is probably one on the next corner.

    Cuba is extremely safe by any world standards, and the average visitor has no reason to worry about personal safety on the streets, in the hotels, at the beaches or any other place a traveler might visit.

    Your students will be 24/7 fully escorted by our experienced Cuban tour guide and bus driver from the moment you land in Cuba’s airport to the moment you leave. We will always be there for you!

    Meet Cuba education tour director before departure

    At the request of your school teacher, one of our Cuba educational tour directors will attend a parents’ meeting to do a presentation of the trip and answer all your Cuba related questions. Our tour directors will be available to you by telephone, by e-mail and other online resources to answer your questions ... and also in real life, face to face, in person at the school meeting!

    Parents updates while the school group is in Cuba

    At Authentic Cuba Travel we know you worry regardless. We also know that reporting back to you may not be your child’s main priority as he or she is having a great time in Cuba. For this reasons, while your son or daughter is in Cuba, we issue a brief e-mail “Parents’ Update” report every 48 hours (or less) in which we tell you how your child is doing, notices of interest or simply the latest Cuba tour developments.

    Arriving in Havana, your guide, bus driver and hotel

    Your child's Cuba education tour guide and bus driver will meet the school group at the very moment they arrive at the airport, and escort the group to the hotel.

    Money matters

    The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the only currency used by island visitors. All goods and services are priced and paid for in the CUC. The CUC floats in value against world currencies. Exchange rates vary daily. Today's rates are based on 1.10 USD equals one CUC.

    Participants should carefully evaluate daily spending needs prior to departure. A minimum of $50 per day is recommended. It is better to plan to take more money than to get caught short of funds.

    Change your money into CUC at a bank, your hotel, or at a CADECA (Casas de Cambio SA – exchange bureau). Never exchange your money on the street or through an individual Cuban (including your guide).

    Credit cards and travellers checks issued by Canadian and European banks are accepted (AMEX is never accepted!).

    But please confirm with your bank before you depart as regulations change constantly. Canadian travellers, if you have a MasterCard issued by a credit union or caisse populaire it won't work in Cuba. Contact your branch for more information.

    Cash advance and other transaction fees on credit cards in Cuba can run as high as 10% or more, plus the exchange fee. Credit cards and travellers checks issued by US banks are not accepted. Debit cards do not work in Cuba.

    A photocopy of your passport is sufficient identification. However, your actual passport is necessary when conducting banking transactions in Cuba.

    The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) can only be purchased in Cuba. Spend it or exchange it on the island before you return home.

    Follow your child's Cuba education tour on Facebook

    We know your son or daughter like using social networking to connect with each other, friends and family. As part of the “keep-in-touch” tools we put at your service for free, Authentic Cuba Travel will build and maintain a custom facebook (the largest of the networking sites) page for your child’s school Cuba education tour, in which your son or daughter can let you know about the tour and keep yourself updated on the latest events. This is also a good tool for you to maintain good level of communication with your child, teachers and us at all times before, during and after the trip.

    Health and safety

    Cuba is considered among the safest countries in the world with a very low crime rate. However precautions with personal belongings are necessary – do not leave things unattended. Don't wear expensive jewelry – it attracts pickpockets, which are a growing problem. Keep cameras and handbags secure to your person at all times.

    Participants should use a lockbox at hotels for valuables, travel documents, air tickets, passport and cash.

    Always carry some cash in small amounts each day, we suggest between 40.00 and 60.00 CUC. The rest of your money remains in your hotel lockbox, along with your travel documents, valuables and passport.

    While Cubans have no problems with the water, we recommend you drink bottled water at all times for peace of mind.

    A doctor or nurse is available to participants throughout the tour either at your hotel, nearby clinic or en route to destinations.


    Most experienced Cuban tour guides and staff

    Each one of us, from directors to tour leaders, guides and representatives in Canada and Cuba has lived and worked in the Cuba travel industry for a minimum of 10 years.

    Nobody knows Cuba as we do! Call us and you will find tour directors that are fluent in English and Spanish and who have lived and worked in Cuba Travel Industry for over 10 years minimum. Guaranteed! Your students can't be in better hands when it comes to Cuba Study Tours!

    Get Immediate, 24/7 Emergency Support

    Before your tour, our experienced Cuba education tour directors can answer any of your safety-related concerns. While on tour, our Cuba network enables us to react immediately to any situation requiring immediate on-site assistance. And our dedicated Emergency Contact Line is always staffed and ready to provide rapid response.


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