FAQs

Travel Planning

If you experience any changes or delays in travel to Cuba, our U.S. Reservations Office is open weekdays. The U.S. Reservations Office can take your calls Monday thru Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm EST at 800.327.9600 or 954.734.7111.

Imports under Section 515.582 (i.e., imports from licensed independent entrepreneurs not on the Department of StateÕs prohibited list) must comply with all current U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) formal and informal entry requirements, as applicable. This means that, while there is no value cap on the amount of goods that may be imported under this provision, the applicable duties in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) must be considered.

U.S. visitors to Cuba can now bring home a total of $400.00 worth of goods acquired for personal use and of that, $100.00 worth may be any combination of cigars, rum and other alcoholic products. Travelers may still purchase as much original Cuban artwork, music, and books as they would like to bring it back to the U.S. but, rules are changing frequently. Please note that any large items that do not fit in your luggage may have to be left behind at the Cuban airport of departure.

Divers will need cash for any purchases and gratuities. In Havana at a local restaurant (Paladar, privately owned) Lobster dinner, with 2 mojitos and dessert approx. $35.00 (USD). On the bus from Havana to Jucaro, stops will be made for food and restroom breaks. A crew gratuity of 10-15% is customary. You can easily exchange money at the airport or at any bank for CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos). Major hotels and banks offer favorable currency conversion rates. The best currency to bring on your trip to Cuba is Euros (€). At present, there is a 13% penalty in addition to the exchange rate for US dollars.

HAV is the airport code for Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. Major carriers fly into Havana. All U.S. citizens are required to fly into HAV.

All U.S. citizens are required to travel to Cuba via Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV). Transportation from Havana is via bus leaving early Saturday morning. Follow the instructions on the Trip Info page, below the Hotel section – Ground Transportation from Havana.

See the above link for more details.

Most buses have restrooms on board. There are restrooms at the rest stop. We suggest bringing a packet of toilet paper or tissues, as some of the public restrooms may not have it.

It is required that all divers purchase diving accident insurance.

Proof of certificate of diving accident insurance is required.

For more information and to purchase dive and travel insurance, visit the providers below:

Diveassure:  For annual combination trip and dive accident insurance.

Travelex requires Cuba dive policies to be purchased by phone. Please call Monday – Friday 8am-7pm CST – 1-800-228-9792. Additional information is needed:

  1. Reason for travel as listed on the traveler’s visa:  515.567(b)
  2. The Travel Service Provider (TSP)/Travel Agency/Cruise Line:  All Star Liveaboards
  3. If the visa lists “Educational Activities” travel, the name of the Sponsoring Organization is required: Blue Sanctuary

It is best to check with the CDC when arranging your travel plans. Information can be found here: CDC Travelers’ Health

***Latin American Citizen traveling to Cuba:travelers over nine months of age must provide a YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION CERTIFICATE, if they are coming from countries with the risk of infection such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Travelers must be vaccinated 10 days before entering Cuba. Information can be found on the following site: International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.

The Cuban government does not allow GPS devices, drones or satellite phones. They will be confiscated upon arrival. Kindles, iPads, laptops and cell phones with GPS on them are still permitted.

All U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba need:

  1. A passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry,
  2. A completed Travel Affidavit found in the top paragraph and
  3. A copy of your Blue Sanctuary workshop certificate.

Divers are required to keep all 3 documents for a period of 5 years from his/her travel dates. Visas for U.S. citizens are issued at the airport prior to departure.

All U.S. citizens are required to travel to Cuba via Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV). Transportation from Havana is via bus leaving early Saturday morning.  The cost for transfers from Havana it $100.00 each way.   Follow the instructions on the Trip Info page, below the Hotel section – Ground Transportation from Havana.

Non-U.S. citizens are welcome to travel via:

  • Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)
  • CamagŸey’s Ignacio Agramonte International Airport (CMW)
  • Santa Clara’s Abel Santamar’a Airport (SNU)

See the above link for more details.

To learn more about the Blue Sanctuary program, click here.

We have two hotels that we can recommend. Both are in Havana and offer different styles of accommodation – Hotel Iberostar Parque Central and Melia Habana – Miramar Oceanfront Hotel. Both are the departure point for the bus to Jucaro, the port of All Star Avalon II. Let us know what you want to do and see while you are in the Havana and we’ll do our best to steer you in the right direction. The Trip Info page has details on hotels in Havana.

By all means, yes. There will always be a diving buddy for you. Many of our passengers come aboard as singles and it’s a great way to meet other likeminded adventure travelers who love to dive!

Yes. The trip from / to Havana/ Port Jucaro is 6-7 hours long and the cost is $100.00 one-way and paid in advance. Payment can be made with your final payment.

The transfer bus to Port Jucaro picks up passengers at only two Havana hotels: Hotel Iberostar Parque Central and Melia Habana – Miramar Oceanfront Hotel, shown here.

Guests staying at any other location will need to take a taxi to one of these hotels for their transfer to the vessel. Please arrive well in advance to not miss the bus. Alternate modes of transportation in Cuba are difficult to find. Pick ups from Havana are in the early morning (approximately 8:00am) and arrive at the vessel by mid-to-late afternoon (3:30-5:30pm).

Dive liveaboard cruising is an appealing alternative to conventional land-based dive vacations and larger cruise ships. We offer a richer travel experience – one that goes beyond the typical tourist sites. Aboard All Star Avalon II, you’ll get to experience a week of delicious meals and great diving along with optional included excursions and eco adventures.

To view a sample itinerary, click here.

The liveaboard business is a service industry, and although the general public is seldom aware of it, gratuities are a major part of a crewmember’s salary. Few other recreational activities rely so heavily upon the professionals in charge for your enjoyment and safety. A gratuity of 10-15% is customary, but many leave more when they feel the service was outstanding. If you are disappointed with the service, you should inform the captain of your feelings right away so he may rectify the situation.

The atmosphere on board the All Star Avalon II is always relaxed and casual. You’ll spend your days in bathing suits and casual wear. Bring shorts or pants, T-shirts and a windbreaker. Also bring a pair of sandals, hat, sunscreen (reef-safe) and sunglasses. In winter, a sweatshirt or sweater is advisable. The boat doesn’t have a gift shop, so you will need to bring everything you need from home. Here is a quick checklist.

Boarding the vessel can begin any time after 2:00pm. Typically the bus from Havana arrives after boarding begins.

The All Star Avalon II returns to port on Friday. Guests overnight on the vessel. U.S. citizens disembark by 9:00am on Saturday in order to board the bus back to Havana.

All U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba need:

  1. A passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry,
  2. A completed Travel Affidavit found in the top paragraph and
  3. A copy of your Blue Sanctuary workshop certificate.

Divers are required to keep all 3 documents for a period of 5 years from his/her travel dates. Visas for U.S. citizens are issued at the airport prior to departure.

Divers will need cash for any purchases and gratuities, including the dive boat crew gratuity. You can easily exchange money at the airport or at any bank for CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos). Major hotels and banks offer favorable currency conversion rates. The best currency to bring on your trip to Cuba is Euros (€). At present, there is a 13% penalty in addition to the exchange rate for US dollars.

There will be a stop for snacks, drinks and a bathroom break about half-way to Jucaro. You are welcome to bring water and snacks on board.

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Policies

The fees are for permits and conservation fees. Fees are paid in advance.

Individuals – $1,500.00 per person. The balance is due 120 days prior to departure. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and Discover, personal check, money order and wire transfers.

Families that wish to join us are welcome. It is recommended that children be divers or snorkelers to fully enjoy the activities on board. For individual bookings, the minimum age is 10 years of age. If you charter the full boat, there is no minimum age but keep in mind that water savvy children will most likely enjoy this type of vacation. Keep in mind, children under 15 must be supervised by a parent or guardian at ALL times. Our crew is most gracious and good with all ages however, the crew will not provide child care services or supervision at ANY time.

We offer a future credit for any days missed due to a named storm. We know many people have busy schedules so we don’t place a time limit on the use of this credit. There is no refund for cancellations due to weather.

Individuals – More than 1 year (12 months) prior to departure, a full refund less 5% administration fee will apply. Less than 1 year (12 months) of departure, all payments are forfeited. If the trip departs full, a refund will be processed less a 5% administrative fee.

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Diving

Certified scuba divers need snorkel, fins, mask, and regulator with pressure gauge, buoyancy compensator (BC), u/w watch, and depth gauge. For night dives the minimum requirement is two light sources: a dive light plus a backup dive light, a non-strobing marker light or a chemical light stick (cyalume). We provide tanks, weights and weightbelts. For rental rates, click here. Please request these items on your Trip Application. All rentals must be ordered and paid in advance. No rentals or purchases can be made on the boat.

Yes, nitrox is available on board for $130.00 per week per diver.

2 night dives are offered during the trip with 4 dives offered each day. On the days when a night dive is scheduled only 3 day dives will occur. If divers are interested in doing additional night dives, this can be discussed with the instructor. The maximum number of dives is 4 per day. Two sources of light are required and could be: two flashlights, a flashlight and a tank light, video lights, etc. A main night light and a back-up source are required. Please request these items on your Trip Application. All rentals must be ordered and paid in advance. No rentals or purchases can be made on the boat.

Divers will have the opportunity to log up to 22 dives per week – 4 dives per day including two nights during the trip.

All dives are guided aboard All Star Avalon II. Solo diving is not allowed.

Between fall and spring, a wetsuit is recommended. The chart below will give you a general idea of the water temperatures and what weight wetsuit you will need. When deciding which wetsuit works for you, consider that you will have the opportunity to dive as many as 5 times a day and it takes your body a while to warm up. Wetsuit needs are different for everyone. A general guideline follows.

To learn more about the Blue Sanctuary program, click here.

At the present time, dive instruction is not available.

If you are a certified diver, yes you can. Be sure to bring your certification card (c-card) with you; we’ll need to see it prior to your diving. A Medical Form is required. Please indicate the type of Dive Instruction desired on your Trip Application.

Month Water Temperature (F/C)
January 78-82 / 26-28
February 78-82 / 26-28
March 78-82 / 26-28
April 80-84 / 27-29
May 80-84 / 27-29
June 82-86 / 28-30
July 82-86 / 28-30
August 82-86 / 28-30
September 82-86 / 28-30
October 80-84 / 27-29
November 79-83 /26-28
December 78-82 / 26-28

Yes, with prior arrangement, you can rent dive gear. For rental rates, click here. Please request these items on your Trip Application. All rentals must be ordered and paid in advance. No rentals or purchases can be made on the boat.

At the present time, dive instruction is not available.

We do not have the ability to accommodate rebreathers.

Side mount diving is possible. Bring your BCD with you to accommodate this setup.

By all means, yes. There will always be a diving buddy for you. Many of our passengers come aboard as singles and it’s a great way to meet other likeminded adventure travelers who love to dive!

All dives are led by a divemaster or a dive instructor with typically a 5:1 ratio, divers to guide. The guides are knowledgeable, take photos and make a trip video that is shared later onboard.

Dive instruction is not currently offered aboard All Star Avalon II.

Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park is protected and governed by Blue Sanctuary, a sustainable management program, known throughout the world for its conservation efforts. Divers can discover 6 species of sharks, large populations of adult fish, like Goliath grouper and tarpon, along with the macro-critters. Healthy colorful corals in all textures and sizes abound. A diving experience here rivals that of the Coral Sea in SE Asia without having to travel half-way around the world.

We have 80 CF (12L) and 100 CF (15L) tanks for guests to use. There is no additional charge for the use of the larger 100 CF (15L) tank however, we have a limited number of these on board so note this request on your Trip Application.

The tanks are equipped with yoke valves and we have DIN adaptors available.

6 species of sharks can be seen in the Jardines de la Reina Marine Park (Gardens of the Queen) – Caribbean reef, silky, nurse, lemon, great hammerhead, blacktip and seasonally whale sharks.

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On Board

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free are pretty easy to work with as well as allergies so let us know upon booking if you require special meals. Please remember that you are participating in an adventure travel vacation that is occurring in a remote part of the world. Many of the modern conveniences, brands and pre-packaged goods we use at home are not available in remote destinations. As such, many special requests that are very specific may be difficult to accommodate.

Finally, if you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other special life event, please let us know. Our crew stands ready to assist you in making your special day something to remember.

No, we do not offer Wi-Fi or internet connectivity on board. You may use your cell phone data plan when in cell range.

Smoking is only permitted on the top deck where receptacles for butt disposal are located. Please do not throw them overboard.

Divers will need cash for any purchases and gratuities. In Havana at a local restaurant (Paladar, privately owned) Lobster dinner, with 2 mojitos and dessert approx. $35.00 (USD). On the bus from Havana to Jucaro, stops will be made for food and restroom breaks. A crew gratuity of 10-15% is customary. You can easily exchange money at the airport or at any bank for CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos). Major hotels and banks offer favorable currency conversion rates. The best currency to bring on your trip to Cuba is Euros (€). At present, there is a 13% penalty in addition to the exchange rate for US dollars.

The mangroves and shallow reefs are perfect for snorkeling with crystal clear waters and lots of fish, both small and large! You will need to bring mask, fins and snorkel. If you have not snorkeled before, the crew will be happy to instruct you. If you don’t have snorkel gear, we have some available for rent but they will need to order it on your Trip Application. All rentals must be ordered and paid in advance. No rentals or purchases can be made on the boat.

The vessel has both 220-volts and 110-volts. Bring converters/ adapters (the 2 round prong style) if wanting to plug into the 220-volt and European style plugs. The majority of plugs in Cuba are normal flat American style. Devices should not be left unattended while charging in your cabin. Fireproof charging bags – Lipo [lithium polymer] Guard – are available for purchasing online or check with your local dive shop.

Cabins feature TVs with HDMI hook-ups but no iPod docking station. Music is typically playing on the boat. They do feature salsa night and offer salsa dancing lessons.

The Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) offers opportunities to go ashore and explore and enjoy the uninhabited beaches. For these occasions, we highly recommend proper footwear. Flip flops are not always suitable. We suggest water shoes or TEVA type sandals. Sneakers are fine but they will get wet!

We serve three meals a day. Breakfast is made-to-order. Lunch and dinner are served family style with a choice of entrees. Gourmet meals showcase Cuban and international cuisine. Fresh seafood, including lobster, are featured. Snacks and fresh fruit are always available. A selection of beverages are always on hand from soft drinks, bottled water, juices, beer, wine, and rum drinks.

The protected marine park only allows catch and release fishing.

Yes, beverage selections include fruit juices, soft drinks, iced water, iced tea, coffee and a limited selection of local beer, wine and rum drinks.

If someone needs to get in contact with you because of a true emergency, they may contact our U.S. Reservations Office and we will relay the message but it may not be received until the boat returns to the dock. Most cell phone plans do not over international coverage in Cuba. Set your phone to airplane mode and avoid using cellular data to avoid high charges. Satellite phones brought into the country are confiscated by the government.

While staying in a protected marine park, you’ll be surrounded by opportunities in and above water and on land. In the water, you can snorkel, among the mangroves where young fish flourish, and with the endangered Cuban crocodiles. Elkhorn corals are on the endangered list and critical to reef building. In one location in the park, they thrive in shallow waters making them accessible only to snorkelers. Other important corals also found here. On the water take an excursion through a mangrove channel or a lagoon, and a sunset watching cruise. On land, feed indigenous endangered wildlife – hut’as and iguanas, explore islands and inlets or birdwatch. The park’s wetlands are home to 68 species of birds as the migrate from North to South America.

Motion sickness medication should be brought along in the event that we encounter rough seas. We want you to be comfortable. The boat will spend the night in calm anchorages and normally scuba diving will be done from tenders. The best thing about a liveaboard diving vacation is that we can flex our schedule to go where the weather and conditions are best!

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Miscellaneous

The Cuban government does not allow GPS devices, drones or satellite phones. They will be confiscated upon arrival. Kindles, iPads, laptops and cell phones with GPS on them are still permitted.

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