Not all people travel to Cuba by plane. Some of them like to go on cruises, but if you want to visit Cuba when you are on a cruise, you need a Cuba visa or a Tourist Card, depending on your nationality. To get a Cuba visa for a cruise, you can apply at the embassy, online at several service providers, but the company that organizes the cruise can help you as well. It is the equivalent of a travel agency from which you get the document you need to cross the border.
Just to make things clear from the start, you need a Cuba visa on a cruise only if you decide to get off the cruise ship. If you plan to stay on board while other travelers get off the ship and visit Cuba, such a document is not necessary. If you want to take a look around Cuba while the ship is docked, you need a Cuba visa or Tourist card, but you must also have proof that you are involved in OFAC-compliant activities. That is why you should keep a log, and some cruise companies advise to keep that log for 5 years.
Getting a Cuba visa for a cruise with the cruise company
Some people do not want to bother themselves and get their visas independently. That is why when they buy the tickets, they also request a Cuba Tourist card. The requirements are the same as for everyone. You need to have a valid passport that remains valid for at least another 6 months from the date of your arrival in Cuba. Travel insurance is also a must. The cost of such a document depends on the cruise company, but it varies between $75 and $100. The visa will be given to you when you board the ship, and you must hold on to it carefully.
Getting a Cuba visa for a cruise using an online provider
If you do not want to refer to the cruise company for your Cuba visa, you can use the services provided by iVisa and apply online. The requirements are exactly the same. You need the valid passport, the travel insurance, and you must also fill in an online application form with details about you and your trip. As for the cost, it depends on which visa type you choose and the processing time you need. As for the latter, iVisa gives you three options:
- Standard processing time – your application will be processed and your Tourist card delivered in 3 to 5 business days. This option costs $110.
- Rush processing time – your Tourist card will arrive within 1 to 3 business days, and the fee is $130.
- Super Rush processing time – you will have your Cuba Tourist card in 1 business day, and you will be charged $150. The shipping is included in the price in all three cases.
The fees above apply to the USA Tourist Card, to which only US citizens and green card holders can apply. If you are of another nationality, you need to choose the International Tourist Card, which brings the prices down to $55, $75, and $95 respectively.
To answer your question, yes, you need a Cuba visa on a cruise, but only if you decide to actually get off the ship and visit Cuba. You can apply with the cruise company or you can apply online using iVisa which allows you to spend maximum 30 days in Cuba and you have a single entry.