Latest news out of Cuba: What’s been the forbidden fruit of travel for Americans for more than 50 years, is now within reach.
JetBlue announced it will start weekly service between New York’s JFK and Havana’s Josi Marti International Airport in July.
Now comes another major Cuba news announcement… on May 4, 2015, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (which oversees American travel to Cuba) started awarding licenses for ferry service to Cuba. The licenses will allow fast ferries to transport passengers the 90 miles from South Florida to Havana. In the first few days, four ferries were granted authorization to operate what Havana Ferry’s website calls “wave-piercing” vessels that could carry up to 300 passengers. The estimated $250-$300 round trip could be happening within a few months or even weeks.
Not Quite Ready for Travel to Cuba
Don’t pack your bags just yet though. You can’t quickly hop on a ferry or a flight to Havana. If visiting Cuba fills your travel bucket list dreams, you’ll need to fall under one of these 12 eligible categories for the necessary travel license. The list includes journalists, educators, humanitarians, and people traveling to visit relatives or conduct business in Cuba.
If you don’t fall under one of these categories, you can still visit Cuba legally on a “people-to-people” tour. People-to-people trips can only be booked through tour operators that have obtained a license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. As one would expect, people-to-people travel actually requires meeting up with Cuban citizens, such as artists or scholars, not just relaxing poolside at your resort. Think of this vacation as more tropical adventure, less tropical paradise.
Reputable People-to-People Tours to Cuba
Since 2000, more than 10,000 guests have toured Cuba with New York based InsightCuba. The company offers more than 150 departures annually, including plenty of specialty tours, geared toward specific hobbies and interests.
“We’re finally coming up for some air,” says InsightCuba’s president,Tom Popper. “Since President Obama’s announcement on December 17, our web traffic remains six times normal, inquiries are up four times, and weekly bookings are tripling last year’s figures.”
For now, a call to your local travel agent is a good place to start. The agent can help you decipher the regulations and restrictions about traveling to Cuba. Just keep in mind these travel restrictions could be changing soon or disappearing entirely. As they say in Havana, things are moving muy rapido. Buena suerte, or good luck, with your travel plans!
Will you head to Cuba? Why or why not? Share with us in the comment section below.