Cuba (safety & communication)

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Cuba (safety & communication)

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1. Posted by GuyDJ (Budding Member 7 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I'm planning on a trip to the Caribbean when international travel gets back to normal. I have a few countries that I'm visiting for definite and a couple that I would like to visit but have some reservations. Cuba is one of them. Has anyone here been recently, as in the last year or two, and can you tell me is it safe to travel all around the island? Is there any anti-american sentiment there? I'm not American but I'm sure they think all white people are American! Also, can you get by there with just English? I'd imagine more people would have some English in Havana and other bigger cities but not in rural areas? Any info would be great.

2. Posted by road to roam (Travel Guru 708 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Quoting GuyDJ

...I'm sure they think all white people are American!

I'm certain that's not true at all.

3. Posted by GuyDJ (Budding Member 7 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Oh yeah, maybe I should qualify that statement. From previous experience of traveling to developing countries, I've found that the locals commonly assume all white people are American. And with the historical situation between US and Cuba (embargo, Guantanamo, etc.), I'm concerned that there may be some blowback. Like I said, ideally if someone who's been there fairly recently with some knowledgeable and worthwhile advice.; )

4. Posted by road to roam (Travel Guru 708 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Canadians have been traveling to Cuba for years, so have people from many countries in Europe and elsewhere. Considering that, perhaps Cubans think of most foreign visitors as not being from the United States?

[ Edit: Edited on 23-Oct-2020, 17:09 GMT by road to roam ]

5. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2139 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Equally, locals in many countries have been used to Americans pretending they're Canadians since at least the Iraq War. ;)

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1430 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

In my experience it is not wise to assume the nationality of a person just by looks. I'm an American and I have not experienced rampant anti-Americanism on my travels, especially since I try to reach out and be respectful to all those I encounter. One of the benefits of travel is that it can help advance understanding and goodwill. I have friends in Cuba. If English is your only language you'll have no difficulty in communicating with people there. In fact, I haven't experienced major problems anywhere in the world using English, which is a required subject in the schools of many countries. See this link: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/global-english-education/countries-in-which-english-is-mandatory-or-optional-subject.html

Please also note that you'll find fewer Americans in certain parts of the world because they lack enough time to visit. That's among several reasons. See these links:

https://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/no-vacation-nation-2019-05.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_annual_leave_by_country

[ Edit: Edited on 23-Oct-2020, 18:19 GMT by berner256 ]

7. Posted by Pineapple Pete (Budding Member 2 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

It's safe to travel anywhere in Cuba. I travel extensively there, usually for 6 months at a time, which is the maximum visa for Canadians. I was last there in April 2020. Most tourists go to the resorts, although quite a few also travel the island on Viazul buses and stay in B&B's. English is not widely known but you can always find a way to communicate. Google Translate can work offline if you download Spanish. It also has speech to text for translations, although I haven't used it and don't know how good it is. The country is opening up again in November 2020. It's a lovely country; I'm going again in November.

8. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1347 posts) 3w 1 Star this if you like it!

As an English person I've come across assumptions that I'm American in some places but by no means everywhere. In my experience it depends on where the majority of tourists tend to visit from, so if lots of Brits visit they'll think British, if lots of Americans visit, then they'll assume that, and so on. Based on this, because Americans are banned from visiting Cuba, I think locals there are less likely to assume a white person is from the US than they would elsewhere!

9. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1430 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

This Web site has a lot of information on U.S. travel and tourism, both inbound and outbound: https://travel.trade.gov/

Here is where U.S. travelers went in 2019:

Mexico, 39.3 percent
Europe, 19.1 percent
Canada, 15.6 percent
Caribbean, 9.4 percent
Asia, 6.6 percent
Central America, 3.5 percent
Middle East, 2.6 percent
South America, 2.3 percent
Oceania, 1 percent
Africa, 0.6 percent
Total outbound: 99,744,820

Within Europe, the most popular destinations for Americans, ranked in order:

United Kingdom
Italy
France
Spain
Germany
Ireland
Netherlands
Greece
Portugal

Of the total outbound, 86.2 percent were for leisure/recreation/holidays. Of those, 25.2 percent also said they were visiting friends and relatives.

As an American who usually spends at least six months overseas I find there aren't as many of us traveling in developing countries. There are exceptions. You'll find that Americans top the list of vistors to Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park to see rare mountain gorillas (I saw the statistics posted there). According to the Rwanda Development Board, they spend an average $12,000 to do so, including permits to see the gorillas. Africans, particularly those from Nigeria and East Africa, accounted for the largest number of visitors to Rwanda in 2019, according to the RDB. That was followed by visitors from Europe (84,288), Asia (49,972) and North America (48,958).

10. Posted by Jacky55 (Inactive 2 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

I flew to Cuba alone at the age of 18, I can say that it is absolutely safe, I went alone to discos, to other cities and there were no problems. I didn't have a sense of danger. The locals are very welcoming, always for the sake of helping.
But as in other foreign countries, you should be careful: do not carry a lot of cash, do not change money on the illegal markets, but only in CADECA exchange offices or banks, avoid the slums, do not drink alcohol with strangers. If you follow this, everything will be fine:)
Few people understand English in Cuba, but I learned a couple of standard tourist phrases in Spanish, I was okay)