1. Can you explain the various payment methods offered in my quotation and the advantages to each?
Many clients don’t understand why, if the USD no longer circulates in Cuba and we are a Canadian company, our base prices appear in US funds. The answer is that although US cash no longer circulates in Cuban territory, the value of the Cuban Convertible Peso, upon which all prices in Cuba are based, is intrinsically tied to the US dollar. The US dollar is the only currency against which the value of the CUC is currently fixed. Since the CUC is not an international currency, we use the US dollar as the standard against which all other international currencies are then converted. To make a long story short, you can pay our company in Canada by cheque, Visa credit card, wire transfer or money order. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are processed in US funds. We offer incentives for (non USD) wire transfers direct to our Cuban account, or cheques/money orders in US funds since our company avoids several international banking costs by using these methods. Basically, if your travel is over $1000, the wire transfer to Cuba could be your most cost-effective option, providing you have enough advance time to complete the operation and your bank has direct relations with our bank in Cuba. Remember, however, that wire transfers involve fees on the sender’s end, so for that reason sometimes they are not always the most cost-effective option for travel under $1000 or in cases where you are making a 2-stage payment for services.
2. What is the Ground Handling Fee on my Quotation for?
Most travel agencies working in Cuba today contract services through one or several Cuban ground handlers/travel agencies. These operators are responsible for the execution of your travel once in Cuban territory. They have representatives and branch offices in all major tourism poles in Cuba to support ground operations, print additional vouchers if required, respond to complaints, etc. One of their representatives will be designated to receive you at the international airport upon arrival and deliver your service voucher package along with their full local contact information. Generally, they are also the transportation company through which your collective transfer service will be arranged. Upon departure, our ground handler will also reconfirm your international flights when accompanied by outbound airport transfers.
3. What’s the difference between Medical Insurance and Cancellation Insurance for travelers?
Cancellation insurance must be purchased at the time of the initial deposit on your travel. Cancellation insurance provides coverage, for example, for travel elements which may be affected by illness of you or a direct family member in advance, or during travel. For complete details on the terms & conditions of Cancellation Insurance please consult your local travel insurance provider. Medical insurance is intended for medical emergencies which may occur once you have initiated travel, or arrived in the travel destination (depending on the policy you purchase). You should investigate medical insurance for your travel in advance of departure in your country of origin, or contract a medical insurance policy locally in Cuba with Asistur upon arrival.
4. What happens if I make a reservation and have to cancel before my trip begins?
We have a published cancellation policy for Individual, Group or Third Party travel. To avoid disappointment or financial loss for unforeseen circumstances which may adversely affect your travel plans, we suggest purchasing cancellation insurance at the time of your initial deposit to protect your travel investment.
5. What happens if I have to modify my air ticket?
In general, air reservations are non-refundable once payment has been applied to the file or tickets have been printed. In some cases where tickets have not been printed, and depending on the airline/class of service, we have been able to make date changes within a period of 1 year from the original date of travel, providing space exists for the new dates. In these cases, our $40 USD administrative change fee applies. If you have already used a portion of your return flight ticket, you must negotiate all changes thereafter directly with the airline.
6. What happens if I have to make a modification to my land reservation(s) before my trip begins?
Modifications to existing reservations received at least 1 business day prior to your arrival in Cuba are assessed a $40 USD administrative fee per change + applicable banking fees, providing availability exists in order to be able to confirm your new itinerary.
7. What happens if I have to make a modification to my land reservation(s) once my trip has begun?
In the event of difficulty with / modifications to confirmed services once in Cuban territory, you must follow the instructions on your travel invoice and immediately contact our Havana office staff by telephone or email to request the modification and/or obtain instructions on procedures, required paperwork, etc. Our operations office and that of our ground handler in Cuba operates from Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00. In the event that services are able to be successfully modified, arrangements will be made for voucher pickup/dropoff as the case may be, and our $40 USD administrative change fee + banking fees apply to any confirmed modification of services. We will not be responsible for processing any claims for services in Cuban territory if clients have not first contacted WoWCuba/MacQueen’s Island Tours staff for procedural instructions and/or obtained authorization for alternative arrangements from our office.
8. What should I do if my flight to Cuba is delayed or cancelled?
If your flight is significantly delayed, you should immediately contact our Havana office staff so that they may notify the corresponding service providers accordingly to avoid cancellation of services, and to ensure vouchers remain in place for your new arrival time/place. If your flight only suffers a minor delay, there is usually no need to worry as our ground handler will verify your arrival in Cuba according to the flight # you provided as part of your registration form and vouchers will remain at the airport as scheduled until the following morning. For some car rental companies, the policy is to hold cars for up to 6 hours from the scheduled pickup time. For this reason, we insist that you provide detailed flight information as part of your registration form, to protect you against such incidents.
Should your flight to Cuba be cancelled by the airline, you should immediately notify our Havana operations office and provide information on your new arrival (assuming you are protected by the airline on a new flight) so that they may make any necessary adjustments to your planned itinerary and notify service providers accordingly. Administrative change fees apply to any adjustment of confirmed services, and no-show fees may apply for services when cancellation is received within the service provider’s penalized release period. Cancellation insurance policies usually cover these expenses.
9. Reconfirming Flights
It is the passenger’s exclusive responsibility to reconfirm his/her flights with the corresponding airlines. For those travelers who have made their international air arrangements with our agency, please use the reconfirmation instructions provided to reconfirm your flights no less than 72 hours in advance of departure. Especially for those traveling on Cubana, we also recommend reconfirming the departure flight from Cuba when you arrive. In overbooking situations, preference for flights goes to those who have reconfirmed their seats. For those on group tours, our tour staff is not responsible for reconfirming your flight services. Please take care of this upon arrival, then you can forget about it.
10. Where do I pick up my service voucher package and what is it for?
Most of our car rental clients are emailed a WoWCuba voucher to print and present to the rental counter upon opening the rental contract. But many of our other state-provided travel services in Cuba are covered by a voucher issued by a local Cuban ground handler through whom we contract, reserve and prepay your services.
The instructions on your invoice and in your confirmation e-mail will give detailed instructions on where to pick up the documents that correspond to the travel services you have contracted with WoWCuba (airport, hotel or rental counter). Cuba generally works on the voucher system, where you pre-pay services to a travel agency and then upon arrival in Cuba you pick up a package of service vouchers, one that corresponds to each service you have purchased. The vouchers are used like a cheque with each of the local service providers. Please remember to carefully review your voucher package upon arrival to ensure that the services match those that appear on your WoWCuba/MacQueen’s invoice. The non-existence of a voucher should be a flag that the service may not have been introduced into our ground handler’s reservation system. In the event that you believe you are missing a voucher, or that any voucher may contain errors, immediately contact our WOWCuba operations office to make us aware of any potential glitch before it turns into a problem. If your vouchers are scheduled for airport pick-up: Problems can usually be solved quickly if you’re in an airport where supplementary vouchers can be printed and a 24-hour rep from our ground handler’s office is on duty. If you do not immediately contact our staff however, there may be delays later in locating an office that can print vouchers outside of office hours, and service providers may request a cash/credit card deposit until the voucher can be presented.
11. What should I do if my transfer service does not arrive as scheduled?
When you arrive in Cuba, the first step to avoiding any potential mishaps in your travel adventures is to carefully double-check that all the vouchers received in your package match those you have contracted according to your WoWCuba invoice. Secondly, we recommending calling our ground handler’s 24-hour operations office the evening prior to any transfer taking place in Cuba (except the international arrival) to reconfirm the service. When you are awaiting a collective transfer, you should always notify the hotel reception prior to the pickup time scheduled on your invoice and voucher providing your names, and the route you are planning on taking. When the guide/driver arrive at each hotel they normally inquire first for pickups at the reception. Should you be worried about the arrival of a scheduled transfer, immediately contact our local office staff, or use the contact information provided in our ground handler’s arrival package to contact the 24-hour ground handler’s operations office to see if the vehicle has been dispatched. If the vehicle has been dispatched, you should wait for it to arrive – collective transfers pick up clients at various hotels and yours may not be the first on the list. If the vehicle has not been dispatched, and there is a question on whether you will be risking a flight connection, obtain authorization from our Havana office or the local ground handler’s operations office to contract taxi service which will be reimbursed upon presentation of the taxi company’s official electronic receipt and our ground handler’s approval of your claim. Please insist on an official numbered electronic receipt which contains the driver’s name, taxi license number plate, date, route and amount charged. Unofficial receipts will not be accepted. The state taxi companies are equipped with meters, and if the driver claims the meter is broken, then you must ask for a paper receipt with the aforementioned information (verify that it coincides with his license plate and taxi number).
12. What’s the difference between a collective and an exclusive transfer?
A collective transfer is one which makes multiple stops at hotels for client pickup/dropoff. Your pickup/dropoff time can vary depending on the hotel route for the transfer. An exclusive transfer is one which does not have other guests other than those in your party aboard.
13. When should I send my cheque, money order or wire transfer and to whom is it payable?
Cheques and money orders are accepted for payment when received in our Canadian office a minimum of 30 days prior to your arrival. When we receive your Registration Form, services will be requested from providers. Upon their confirmation (providers have up to 72 working hours to confirm), you will be be issued a detailed statement with all relevant information for forwarding payment, as well as reception deadline. Wire transfers are accepted when received up to 15 days prior to arrival.
14. Can I use my father’s/my sister’s/friend’s Visa card to pay for my travel?
Credit cards used for travel must be personal. The name of the cardholder must match the name on the invoice and of course the passport or driver’s license which will be presented to the service providers in Cuba to register/complete contracts. We do not accept third party credit cards under any circumstances.
15. Are the deposit and insurance included in my car rental?
With very limited exceptions (mainly with REX), our agency only quotes and charges in advance for the rental of the vehicle. Security deposit, daily insurance, fuel, additional driver fees, interprovincial/inter-rental counter dropoff fees (in some cases), airport pickup or dropoff fees (in some cases) are all additional and payable locally directly to the rental service provider upon opening your contract. Details of these payments are provided as part of your booking process as well as on your final invoice.
16. Once I am in Cuba, how can I be sure I will receive the service that’s been confirmed on my invoice?
When the rental company/hotel etc issues a confirmation for service, it is then their responsibility to provide that service or substitute an equal or better model/category. We maintain a local office and representatives in Cuba to look after our clients’ interests, so if any problem should arise with confirmed services, please use the instructions on your invoice to immediately contact our local offices to report the problem and seek assistance. We provide local office, residential, cellular & email contacts for our representatives as well as contacts for our ground handlers in Cuba as part of your invoice/document package.
17. What if my luggage doesn’t arrive when I do?
If your luggage doesn’t arrive, the first thing you must do is complete a lost luggage claim at the airport prior to departing the secure arrivals area. This claim will include a reference # as well as contact numbers to call for follow-up. In our experience, follow-up by airlines and airport functionaries is poor. Often, contacting the lost luggage department by telephone is unfortunately, useless. Our best advice is to return to the airport the following day in person (when the airline’s next flight arrives) and continue to pressure them for a resolution to the issue. There are internal issues at the airport which unnecessarily complicate the timely return of lost luggage to its rightful owner. Our representatives are not legally appointed or able to intervene on your behalf to reclaim your personal effects. Only Customs and Airlines representatives have the legal faculty to extract luggage from the secure storage/arrivals area. All transportation (taxi etc) that a client chooses to contract in search of luggage is at his or her personal expense. As a preventive measure, we recommend that you pack a carry-on bag with essential clothing and personal items including any medications you require to avoid potential difficult situations upon arrival in Cuba.