Cuba's Hotel Nacional, once the cradle of the American mob—now its only criminal elements are the wait times for a reservation.
Rob Rae age fotostock
By Anne VanderMey
March 31, 2016

So you want to go to Cuba, but you’re worried about crime and the insidious specter of communism that hangs over the island?

You’re joined by a surprisingly high percentage of Americans, according to a new survey released on Wednesday by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance.

Allianz’s poll found that while 42% of people would like to travel to Cuba, only 7% actually plan on it. What’s holding them back? Survey respondents say their top concerns are safety (44%) and communism (15%).

Fortunately, Americans have it all wrong. With a rate of fewer than 5 homicides per 100,000 people, Cuba is safer than any other Caribbean destination except for Grenada, according to U.N. statistics from 2011 (the latest available data). By comparison, New Orleans had a rate of about 39 homicides per 100,000 people last year and St. Louis had 50.

There’s also not much to worry about in the way of communism. Sure, there are more statues and dramatic paintings of Cuban generals than you might expect, but the U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security says risks of political violence are “low.”

However, there are real risks in traveling to Cuba; they just tend to be more mundane. After more than 50 years of isolation, the one-time tourist mecca has become a creature-comfort desert. Tourists would be better off worrying not about personal safety but about punitive exchange rates, hotels with negligible water pressure, and 50-year-old air conditioning systems. There’s also a real danger of going into a bathroom and finding that there is no toilet paper or toilet seat. Not to mention that, thanks to the choking fumes they spew over Cuba’s picturesque boulevards, classic cars aren’t nearly as cool as you’d think they’d be.

The Allianz survey found that a very prudent 12% of people surveyed were concerned about travel infrastructure in Cuba. Indeed, the island’s largest airport only has one runway, and American credit cards aren’t accepted. Another 7% of respondents fretted about Internet connectivity. That’s a real issue, too: travelers can find Wi-Fi at hotels, but there’s no cellular data in the country. A far more pressing concern than crime and communism? Spending your whole tropical vacation away from Instagram.

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