Hand Crafted Sailing Experiences..

How to Start

     Contact your friends to find a total of 6 who want to join you on this amazing experience. Kia Ora has three cabins for guests, so three couples works best.

      We will then work together to define the itinerary and number of days visiting the marine sanctuaries and Cuba. During this time we will also define the food preferences for all of your guests and work up a menu. With these items defined, we can then lock down an price and we will then block the travel dates. During these initial meetings we will also touch on day tours and options while in Cuba.

      Documentation requirements are simple. We will need your passport and home address information. Your passport must not expire within 6 months of the charter, otherwise Cuba will not allow you to enter. There are still State Department restrictions on travelling to Cuba that require you to select one of 12 permissible purposes why you wish to travel to Cuba. We will complete the necessary documents and submit them to the State Department and Coast Guard 45 days before departure.

      As we complete the paperwork, you will also be selecting the day excursions that you wish to go on.

      Click HERE to download a travel affidavit that you must sign and return to us. DO NOT SELECT any of the purposes for the trip. Just sign, scan, and email to me the signed document. We will select the most appropriate purpose based upon the day excursions that you selected.

      When you are arranging your flights to/from Key West, please keep in mind that upon your return to Key West we need to check in with customs. We will arrange to arrive back in Key West later afternoon. This will allow us to go to customs the next morning for clearance in time for afternoon flight home.

What to Expect Upon Your Arrival In Cuba

Sailing time across the Florida Straits is from 12 to 18 hours. When we arrive, it should be mid to late afternoon. During the sail over we will serve breakfast and luch. We will then enter Hemingway Marina and tie up at a slip. The captain will go ashore with the ships papers, passports for customs and immigration. After meeting with the Dockmaster and the proper Cuban officials, a doctor will come to the boat and perform a brief medical exam on everyone. The boat wil also be searched for contraband. After  the medical exam, everyone will go to the immigration office to have a picture taken for the Cuban Visa. That's it. You are in!!

After the medical exam, we will work exchange US dollars for "CUC"s. This is Cuban convertible currency. There is a conversion fee of around 14%, so a US dollar is worth around 0.86 CUC. Expenses in Cuba are similar to the states, as lunches typically are $10/$15 and dinners run around $25.

Very few, if any, vendors will take US dollar directly. This is unlike other destinations in the Caribbean, where the dollar is king.

We suggest that you exchange your dollars for CUC's only as you need them. We may do this on a daily basis. Ideally you should spend the last of your CUC's as we sail out. It is possible to convert back to US dollar, but there is another 14% conversion fee.

US Credit Cards are now allowed to be used in Cuba yet, so bring enough cash for everything. Depending upon the day tours, estimate around $100 USD per day for meals and day trips.

Keep in mind, that while in Cuba, you will not have telephone, internet or TV.

Before we depart from Cuba, the vessel will be searched for any stowaways. However, they do want us to take as much rum and cigars as possible!! 

We can organize land excursions for you while in Cuba. We work with Harmony Yacht Vacations and Government approved tour guides. Click here to download a PDF of typical tours. If something is not listed, we can always arrange it for you. Costs for a tour not listed can be estimated as follows:

Van to hold up to 10 people - $75 cuc/hour
Tour Guide - $100 cuc/day

Taxis to take you to Havana (9 miles) One way - Standard taxi - $20 cuc Vintage taxi - $25 cuc.

And here are a few words from a friend who just returned from Cuba

....." A few last words about the people of Cuba. They are beautiful. And I don’t mean physically, although they are that as well. The men hold doors for the women. There is no obnoxious cat calling. They are respectful. They don’t hit the “like” button on pictures of 18 year old ass. Their hand goes out to steady you as you climb off the boat. They are elegant. It was refreshing. The women take pride in their homes. They are generous with what little they have. The government rations 5 eggs per month per person. They are only allotted a ¼ of a liter of cooking oil. But when you walk into their house, they’ll cook it all for you, because you are their guest. The language barrier is not a problem. They put a plate of food in front of you and they smile, proud that they can offer it to you. Carlos was correct in saying there is no crime in Cuba. I walked around neighborhoods that I wouldn’t step foot in in America. People are afraid of the punishment there. There are no lawyers spinning a story to get them off on a technicality. OJ never would have walked. There are no people screaming about the rights of the criminal. You commit the crime, you are done. And everyone knows it. Need a ride into town? Stand on the street, wave your hand, and you can get into anyone’s car without fear. There is no commercialism. No Starbucks. No McDonald’s. No shopping malls. No X-rated strip clubs. It’s a throw back to a time that most of us can barely remember. A time that our parents talk about. Of course there is a down side. People work hard and make very little money. They are just now beginning to be allowed to open paladars (restaurants in their home), or Airbnb. But the government knows exactly who is staying in their home, for how long, and they tax the crap out of them. That’s why it is so amazing that the Commodore has figured out a way to keep his marina alive. I’m so grateful to Brad and Margie for giving me this experience. I have sailed more than 30 hours, across the Gulf Stream twice. I’ve made new friends. I’ve seen things I’ll never forget. And most amazingly of all, I have been to Cuba. "....  (Thanks to Lea Schiazza)