Best way to Cuba from So Cal.

Mar 5th, 2002, 08:06 AM
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To clarify, if you do for some reason get into trouble in Cuba, you would as an American logically contact the US Interest section for assistance. Although technically not an embassy (semantics at work), it is the largest foreign diplomatic mission in the country and would assist US citizens in the same way as embassies do in other countries. Enough chicken little talk--get the facts and act accordingly.
Mar 26th, 2002, 10:09 PM
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Melissa, who posted 2/10, it isn't illegal to go to Cuba if you're an American. It's possible to go with a study group, e.g. I know several people who have gone with a tour called "Faces of Cuba 2002. (They loved it!) This is a 1 or 2 week study program sponsored by Chabot Community College in Hayward, Calif. (Global Exchange of San Francisco provides carriers, hotels, etc.)
Mar 27th, 2002, 05:22 AM
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Why risk any trouble with coming and going to Cuba and NOT having your passport stamped? Too me, it's too risky. I know of an American non-profit travel company that sells packages and tours to Cuba. They are able to do this simply because it is "educational travel". The company is called ElderHostels, a 55+ travel company. As long as 1 of the parties on the tour is age 55, a person of any age can accompany them. Tours are based on fitness level also and are very comphrensive. They get you in to places are areas most cannot gain access to. It's a top knotch company. All packages include very nice hotels, all meals and entrance fees. Website is Good luck.
Mar 27th, 2002, 05:46 AM
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For a person who goes to Cuba once, there is essentially no risk in not having the passport stamped when you get to Cuba. Our tour advisor advised us not to have our passport stamped, and most of our group did not. They all got out without a problem.

The problem is that if your passport is stamped with a Cuba stamp, there may be a problem getting back into the US in the future, as you have to show them an official paper from the US Treasury. If you forget to bring it with you every time, you will have a problem.

We got our passport stamped becuse we like to have noted in our passports where we have been. I have stapled the Treasury paper to the passport so I won't forget.

We have been on Elderhostel tours, and they are excellent and reasonably priced.
Apr 4th, 2002, 10:25 AM
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Technically, it's not illegal for Americans to come to Cuba, only to "trade with the enemy"-purchase goods and services here. And they do come, by the tens of thousands, most by way of a third country.

Two years ago a direct route was opened from Miami, then from New York, in the form of charter flights. Last April a Los Angeles charter was added. Tickets are sold to approved travelers by outfits licensed by the Treasury Department. For the flights from LAX, that's a new firm, Cuba Travel Services, based in Long Beach.

Cuba Travel Services has an exclusive license and offers weekly flights on an Airbus 320 from Grupo TACA, an airline based in El Salvador. The agency screens potential passengers to ensure they qualify. Generally, those who make the cut include people with relatives in Cuba, journalists, people doing research in a professional field and athletes in international matches. I passed as a journalist but never had to prove I was one.

May 29th, 2002, 11:51 PM
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For goodness sake - if you're a US citizen or resident, you're theoretically not supposed to spend money in Cuba without official permission from OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control). However, they never turn anyone down - just make sure your plans build in enough time to get the paperwork completed.

Cuba isn't dangerous or "uncivilized", and as for the person who posted about it being "a Communist country ... with government controlled censorship" - I hope you see the irony in that comment, as your own supposedly "free" press apparently hasn't informed you very well or helped eradicate your knee-jerk cold war prejudices.
Jun 4th, 2002, 02:40 PM
Chef Jason Girard
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If you really want an off-the-beaten-path vacation, Cuba is your island! Not particularly known for incredible beaches, but the historical and shopping aspects are off the charts. Travel and travel arrangements are a bit challenging, especially if you’re coming from the States. I found it best to make Cuba travel plans through a reputable Canadian travel agency… We flew from Toronto on LACSA Airlines. Cigars and the world’s best rum rule the day. The outdoor art, craft and book market at the Plaza Cathedral is amazing. Gorgeous, but crumbling Spanish Colonial architecture and lots of Hemmingway stuff. VERY VERY CHEAP!!! Not much of a restaurant city (country), but we did manage to find a few favorite places (Hanoi in Habana Vieja is excellent if you can get past lack of A/C), away from all the European and Canadian tourists… Incredibly friendly (and shockingly poor) people. Remarkably safe. As with any major city, be sure to stay alert for pickpockets and conmen.

Don’t worry, if you have an American passport, just tell the Cuban customs agent not to stamp it – he’ll be happy to oblige. They’ll just give you a tourist card and stamp it instead. Be sure to keep the tourist card and your passport in a safe place, as you won’t be allowed to leave without turning the card in upon departure. Also BE SURE TO CALL THE AIRLINE AT LEAST TWO DAYS BEFORE DEPARTING FROM CUBA TO RETURN HOME. Believe it or not, your airline ticket does not guarantee you a seat on that flight. Call to confirm your reservation a couple days before your flight or you may end up stranded at Habana airport, due to miserably overbooked flights… When you arrive back at the Toronto airport, be sure you don’t have more than 2 boxes (50 sticks) of Cuban cigars per person or they will assess a 100% tariff on each additional box. I think the limit on rum is 2 bottles each.
Jun 4th, 2002, 05:18 PM
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Jason: Your comment 'Not known for incredible beaches' really makes me wonder if you have ever been to Cuba. Varadaro and Cayo Coco have some of the best beaches in the carribean!

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