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Let’s dive in a little deeper and understand what transpired.
The new regulations by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to travel to Cuba have caused a lot of concern and confusion with regards to travel to Cuba legally from the U.S. It has also been a concern for travelers with pre-existing travel plans to the Island. Particularly because in the past there have been periods where travel to Cuba from the U.S. has been heavily restricted or not even a possibility. Let’s dive in a little deeper and understand what transpired.
Two main changes took place. The first is that the general license called “people to people” exchange can no longer be used. The other change is that travel by vessels such as cruises, private airplanes, and jets, is no longer possible. These changes may affect pre-booked cruises departing from an American port to Cuba. The good news is that there is a silver lining. Travel to Cuba is still possible for Americans. Let’s explore how.
As with any international travel to any destination, there are certain requirements that must be met when traveling to Cuba. The new regulations became effective on June 5th, 2019. These will be enforced for future travel to Cuba from the United States. Other requirements have not been affected by these new regulations. These key requirements are that American travelers must have a valid U.S. passport and a visa. Information to obtain these documents can be found here.
The recent changes by the OFAC impact one of the twelve general licenses available to travel to Cuba. This is very relevant because determining the general license for your travel plans is the first step required to apply for the travel visa. Pre-scheduled travel under the People to People license may be affected by the new changes. It is highly recommended to check with your travel partner or provider if the new regulations affect your previously scheduled travel plans to Cuba from the US.
Before the new regulations, the “people to people” exchange general license was common for groups traveling to Cuba from the U.S. It was often used by groups with educational purposes. This general license is no longer available. However, there are 11 other licenses available to make travel to Cuba possible for Americans. These licenses are specific to several reasons for travel. Some of the licenses include support for the Cuban people, family visits for direct relatives, travel for university groups, academic research, journalism, professional meetings and more.
Which is the right license for your group? There are several options available. Support for the Cuban people is a frequently used type of travel licenses. It entails supporting local and privately-owned businesses through consumption. Some examples of appropriate activities are eating at a privately-owned restaurant, called a paladar, and staying at a casa particular or private home. Other options are available to define the purpose of your travel plans to Cuba.
A professional cubaprivatetours can help you find the right license to meet your travel purposes and needs. It is simplified further with an agency because they can facilitate the process for multiple travelers. Once the proper documentation is in place, it’s important to review available travel options. Although travel to Cuba by certain vessel types such as private airplanes, jets, yachts, and cruises is not possible, it is still a possibility to travel to Cuba by commercial airline.
Several airlines offer travel to Cuba regularly.
Several airlines offer travel to Cuba regularly. Learn more about available options here. Flights to Cuba often depart from Miami International Airport, as Cuba is just a short 45-minute flight from Miami. It is ideal for a weekend getaway or a multi-day exploration. For those planning group travel, such as our travel partners, it is important to see all the available travel options to Cuba.
It is still a requirement to have a full schedule of activities for travelers while in Cuba. The country has several points of interest, not only in the city of Havana, but across the entire country. It is home to several UNESCO World Sites and has played a pivotal role in history. Its architecture is rich, as it expands from colonial times to modern day edifications. Cuba is also home to some of the best tobacco leaves, as one of the main producers of top Habanos in the world.
There are many options available to accommodate different interests and activity levels. Ground excursions offer the flexibility to add activities ranging in time from a couple of hours to a full-day schedule. cubaprivatetours offers excursions that will take your group to the most important landmarks in Cuba, including El Cristo, El Capitolio, the beautiful plazas, and so much more.
There are also multi-day programs available for special interests. Whether your group has an interest in art, cuisine, history or culture, there are several programs to best meet your group’s needs. The programs and several of the excursions also include meals at many top privately-owned restaurants called paladares. The paladares may range from traditional to upscale fusion. The cuisine, which is a blend of Spanish, Caribbean, and African flavors is truly delightful.
Excursions and programs are also available for those who prefer an outdoor or eco-friendly adventure. Cuba is rich in flora and fauna with lush vegetation. It offers many options for those who want to see nature, like the mountains in the Sierra Maestra and the Valley of Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Activities are also available for group members that prefer a lighter level of activity, such as Vegas-style shows with live music and dancers.
Transfers and ground logistics in Cuba can also be arranged for your group by the agency. It can be quite daunting to find a taxi in a foreign country, particularly if one does not know the area or speak the language. Prearranged transportation can also be taken care of for your group. The drivers provided by cubaprivatetours are reliable, punctual, professional, and cordial. Vehicles selected are in good condition and are equipped with air-conditioning. I know our group would have been lost and late many times without our trusty driver in Cuba.
When traveling with cubaprivatetours groups are often accompanied by expert local guides. These are knowledgeable in topics of interest for each excursion or program. They can provide valuable insight from the local’s point of view. They are also well-versed in historical facts and special points of interest in each location. After all, it would be a waste to visit the beautiful Colón Cemetery in Havana and not know the stories behind the beautiful marble sculptures.
cubaprivatetours can also help you prepare a custom group program to meet your travel needs. The knowledgeable team at the agency is always available to make the planning process simple. To provide travel partners with special assistance, the agency can also take care of all visa processes, accommodations, transfers, and transportation for the entire group. They also provide educational documents in preparation for each destination to help travelers learn more about the activity and what to expect.
There are two programs currently available, One is the Cigar and Rum Tour. The itinerary was specially curated for groups that have an interest in cigars and rum. It is very popular around the time of the International Habanos Festival, which is held every year in Havana. Participation includes a day at the festival to sample special cigars and participate in other special activities.
Another specialty group program prepared with a travel partner . This itinerary was specially curated for travelers who want to explore the roots of African influence in Cuban culture, religion, music, and cuisine. It explores the slave routes, the history of the Yoruba religion on the island, with stops in important cities and towns that are at the heart of Afro-Cuban culture.
Other details can also be pre-arranged, such as accommodations. Cuba has several options for stay in many areas across the island. The range of properties available goes from hand-picked private homes to historical hotels. Several of the hotel properties are award-winning and provide above average amenities and services. There are options available for every budget and interest. Another great option is a private home, called a casa particular. These can often be booked with daily breakfast service and with options for add-on amenities. In booking a casa particular travelers also support Cuban people while participating in scheduled activities, depending on the type of travel license selected.
Again, travel to Cuba from the U.S. is still an option. A knowledgeable travel agency, such as cubaprivatetours Travel, can support you with all the details and of your group. They can assist with the selection of the correct general license to travel to Cuba and with the visa application process. This process can be challenging when trying to navigate on our own, even for the most seasoned travel professionals. All programs and excursions offered by cubaprivatetours Travel continue to be OFAC compliant. The new regulations do not affect the activities within their excursions and group programs.
For more information specific to the general licenses available for travel to Cuba, please check these Frequently Asked Questions and the Resource Center in the U.S. Department of The Treasury website, treasury.gov.
You Can Still Travel to Cuba Legally. Here’s How
The US government’s new Cuba travel restrictions, taking effect on June 5, 2019, have a lot of Americans wondering: “can I still travel to Cuba?” The short answer is: Yes! You can travel to Cuba as an American. This article includes all the details on how to do it.
There are 11 categories of approved travel to Cuba for Americans, all of which allow you to travel to Cuba legally.
Cuba is ready to embrace you with the warmth and passion it is famous for
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