Need help for trip to Cuba

I have a friend who would like to book a trip to Cuba via Curacao but is having trouble finding an agency that can do this.
Also, he would like to convert American money to Cuban currency-is there a way to do this before he gets there?

If your friend is an American citizen or American resident, then travel to Cuba is severely restricted, and under most circumstances, not allowed. Unauthorized travel to Cuba is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000, and up to ten years in prison for a first offense. If your friend believes he may be legally authorized to go, he should contact the Treasury Department.

Here’s the Treasury Department’s page regarding travel to Cuba:

http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/cuba/cuba.shtml

First of all, why on earth would he want to convert dollars to Cuban pesos before he travels? According to the Wikipedia article, “the peso (CUP) is used by tourists only for staple and non-luxury products.” I have to wonder if he’d end up spending any non-convertible pesos at all.

Secondly, I’ve heard that you need to book two trips (US to Country X, Country X to Cuba) completely separately. I’ve also heard that you can’t pay with a U.S. credit card for the Cuba leg of the flight, but I’m not 100% certain on that. Most people just fly to Canada, disembark, and re-enter the airport with their ticket to Cuba.

My friend has started up a restaurant that has Cuban-style food, and is interested in local recipes, ingredients and spices.

Ah, well, that does make more sense. However, I’m guessing it will be near impossible to find Cuban pesos before he goes. Generally, you get screwed on most regular currency, let alone exotic ones. (And Cuban non-convertible pesos have to be as exotic as they come.)

I’ve been to Cuba legally with a State Dept. license.

There is no reason on earth to convert money before you go there. Money is converted at the airport and converted back when you leave. It’s an easy process. Cuba has a dual currency system. You don’t want their currency. Other than for travel in Cuba it is worthless.

Why take the risk of doing something that is so obviously illegal? Yes, you probably won’t get fined and jailed but I’m not so sure that the government (post 9/11) doesn’t have a better handle than you might think on travelers movements. What if you get permanently flagged in some data base? Some day you might actually need the help of the State Dept.

Have your friend go down to Miami and do his research. There are plenty of Cubans there that can help him out.

http://www.cubajet.com/

I don’t see Curacao, but he can fly through Nassau or Cancun.

Why go all the way to Cuba to find cubans, when Miami doesn’t even require a passport?

Seriously, there are more Cubans in Miami than Havana. (Not quite - 1.9 Million Cubans in Miami metro - 2.4 Million in Havana) … but you get the point.

I imagine your friend wants pre-revolution recipes when people actually had access to a variety of foods and weren’t limited to half a pound of chicken per month…All those recipes are more likely to still be used in Miami than Cuba.

Not to be a Jr. mod, but isn’t this whole thread advice on how to do an illegal activity?

It depends on who’s asking, I’ve found.