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Do you bother buying Duty Free booze?

I never bother buying (so-called) Duty Free booze, here’s why…

1.) The really interesting/exotic rums that aren’t exported to Canada are rarely available at the Airport. If you do get lucky and find something cool you can’t depend on it being there next time. They’re selling countless bottles of the usual brands and those vintages don’t interest me so I always buy my rum in advance.

2.) I pack my rum into my checked luggage so there’s zero hassle at security and zero hassle if I have a flight connection.

3.) There’s no sales tax in Cuba so there’s no price advantage to Duty Free. In fact, sometimes I see Duty Free booze for way more money than at my local booze store in Havana. (This might be different on resorts where the booze store has a captive audience so they can jack the prices up, I don’t know.)

4.) At least one airport is confiscating CUCs now (it’s technically illegal to take them out of Cuba) so if you’re not comfortable with smuggling your CUC through security then purchasing Duty Free on the other side comes with yet another hassle and with even more expense.

Bottom line… If you’re only interested in the usual “normal” rum then Duty Free is fine. The plastic Duty Free Bag to seal it in costs an additional 1 CUC. Be sure you get the Receipt placed inside the Duty Free Bag otherwise your bottle(s) could be confiscated at your next destination if you have a connection. But if you’re into something special then purchase the bottle beforehand and pack it into your checked luggage.

That’s my opinion anyway, different strokes…


as always well said… as a non drinker - I never buy it there either ::slight_smile:

And which airport is that, Terry? And how do they go about it?

Cayo Largo, Zendudette.



I usually buy it at the airport, so I can save on weight for my check in luggage. I’m not much of a rum afficionado, so the subtleties from one rum to another are lost on me. My only requirement is that the rum is dark.

I’m not a rum snob either, so buying it cheap in town is enough for me. It then goes in my checked luggage. Even in Mexico I buy my booze in town rather than duty free, but I find the prices in town are better than the duty free! Also where we’re limited in what we can bring home, the buy 2 for such a price isn’t really helpful.

Terry[/quote]Wow… good to know, as we’re possibly looking at Cayo Largo this summer, again.
One thing we do know is that the Duty Free on CL definitely doesn’t have the selection of other Duty Free shops. The last couple of visits, we bought “triple” deals in YYZ going down, used one bottle for our room, and just brought the other two back with us in our checked luggage.

The real advantage to buying at the duty free is that you are already past “weigh in” and if you are running close to your allowance you don’t have to worry about the weight of the booze. (liquids weigh a h*ll of a lot!) I don’t usually bring anything home for myself (unless the resort has gifted me a bottle), but I have a friend (you know who you are) who is addicted to a specific Cuban rum, and I do pick up a bottle or two for him if I can find it at the duty free. :slight_smile:

Haha… you are right, of course!
We always pack “a little on the light side” on the way down… and I always have all the heavier items including shoes and books in the checked luggage (plus my over-sized purse). Our carry-ons are pretty light, with a couple changes of clothes & bathing suits ~ just in case our luggage gets lost… which hasn’t happened yet… “knock on wood” :-X

Then, on the way home, we pack the heavier items in the carry-ons instead, and that usually takes care of the extra “bottle weight” in the checked luggage.

I’m prepared for the weight: I’ve upgraded to SuperSpeshul on Sunwing, so I have 30 kg. to play with, and I’ll be muling wine (probably) so that will be my rum weight (and then some!) coming home.

Most of the the things in our carry-ons on the way down is either consumed or packed in the suitcase on the way back so there’s very little in our carry-ons. We just use this room at the Duty Free, usually just 4 bottles of Havana Club 7.

I find Duty Free prices usually more expensive than regular store in Cuba or LCBO in Canada. So I always buy everything in regular store.

I’m usually dodging the weight limit, so I use duty free just for the convenience.

I arrive at the airport with an almost empty carry-on, and by the time I’m done, it weighs almost as much as my checked bag!

I always buy mine at the resort or in the local town. While it may not be “high” end, its much better and cheaper than what I can get here in NB for Havana Club. Usually go with the 3yr aged, yellow label bottles.

I made a Duty Free mistake once: I waited to buy Rum at the airport after visiting Marea del Portillo. They only sold Havana Club at the airport. Nothing against Havana Club but I like Ron Caney,Ron Santiago de Cuba and the other “Cuba-only” rums. Sadlly, they had a great selection at the MDP gift shop but like an idiot I figured I’d wait 'til the airport, assuming they would have a similar (if not better) selection. Lesson learned. When in Cuba, when you see it, buy it. There are no guarantees! :wink:

When you arrive in Cayo Largo your tour reps warn you to cash in your CUC’s before going home. On departure, roaming agents in the airport warn everyone that exporting CUC’s is illegal and they open the currency exchange counter well before your flight for you to change CUC’s to Cdn…
No searches, no special questions and CUC coins that went in the X-Ray trays were still there on the other side.
You’d have to take out a wad of CUC’s and wave them around to lose them, when we went through.

Hotel employees correctly advised that a few coins would not be a problem, and they weren’t. They also talked about the currency changes coming and the speculations about new denominations and values. Change is scary there.

We have a connecting flight and have always packed accordingly and as mentioned above, the tiendas are all operated by the same company and prices are the same because there are no “Duty’s”