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jenneepoo Nov 4th, 2003 12:05 PM

Legal travel from US to Cuba in 2004?
I recently attended a presentation at my local travel club regarding legal travel to Cuba. It was more of a sales pitch for a tour company, actually, but informative nonetheless.
I have a strong desire to go, but don't really want to jump through TOO many hoops to get there; this is one destination where I would like to have a pro walk me through the visa process. I don't generally like to travel as part of a tour, but the presentation from this particular company looked fine to me. The problem: As of the end of 2003 they no longer will have a license to provide US residents a legal means of entering Cuba and I'm not in a position to make the trip before the end of the year. Many of the companies that have these licenses to provide cultural tours to Cuba are apparently losing their licenses at the end of the year. Wondering if anyone knew of any groups that will still be operating legal tours in 2004? Thanks so much if you can point me in the right direction!

Canuck_at_Canada_eh Nov 4th, 2003 02:46 PM

Hola Jenneepoo:

Wow... loaded question to a convoluted question. I must state that as a Canadian, I can only offer you advise based on my knowledge and travels to Cuba.

As you must be aware by now, BOTH the House of Rep and the Senate have passed a spending bill DENYING the OFAC and the Treasury Dept any funds to enforce the travel ban. This would effectively end the ban.

I suggest you refer to this article in the Miami Herald for a little more info.

Other Herald articles on the situation can be found at

Not withstanding any of this, nobody wants to spend more time with their lawyers than they actually spend on vacation.

You can read a great deal more on the situation, legal challenges etc., at this website in New York city. The National Lawyers Guild. They have a complete section on the legalities, challenges etc of Cuban travel for US citizens.

In a nutshell, Congress and the Senate want to put an end to the ban as after 40+ years, it obviously doesn't work. Your president (mindfull of re-election) wants to keep the large ex-patriot Cuban voting block in Florida on-side. Need I remind you of how close the Florida vote was last election, and the outcome on the presidential election. To this end, Bush has seriously tried to clamp down on the "educational and cultural exemptions" granted for travel to Cuba. As you have noted, many travel companies are going to loose their license at the end of this year. Now you know why.
So as to what will happen in 2004. Well it's an election year. Rhetoric will undoubtedly surface on both sides of the issue. But will anything happen? Time will tell.

In the meantime, I suggest that you consider what THOUSANDS of your fellow US citizens have done. Find out for yourself what the mystique of Cuba is. To do that, you will have to travel through a third country such as Canada, Bahamas, Mexico etc., but I can only encourage you to consider this as a viable option. Others will protest this route, as is their right. Only you can decide whether you side with your Congress and Senate, or your President.
Tough choice.

Canuck_at_Canada_eh Nov 4th, 2003 11:07 PM

Hello again...

Here's another link that provides some interesting reading.

This is the Cuba page and coverage of the Florida Sun-Sentinel paper.
You should especially note the articles on the recent Havana Trade Fair and the number of US business firms that have IGNORED the travel ban. Seems that a buck is a buck is a buck and we all know that money talks.


kathleen Nov 5th, 2003 05:13 AM

You might look into a US University course (educational with course credits)for travel to Cuba. These may close too, but, I believe these trips are in a different category than the cultural trips that many organizations were able to schedule up to now. Check with a University near you that schedules summer travel courses. They may have one going to Cuba. Kathy

beachdreams Nov 5th, 2003 07:49 AM

Just a piece of advice from someone who does not relish making a hassle out of vacation. As it has become more common for US Travelers to go through Canada and the Bahamas to get to Cuba, it has also become more common for them to get caught trying to do so. Not sure how much trouble you would get in, if any, but I do want to pass that bit of information on. I think it is silly we can not travel to Cuba, just like I think some other laws are not real brillant, however, I am obviously a passive aggressive because I refuse to try to circumvent the system just to have a vacation when I have many other islands to venture off to. I am not against others trying though, but I feel you should be warned that just like we are aware of peoploe getting into Cuba via other countries, so are the officials.

Peter Nov 6th, 2003 03:56 AM

Quote from Beachdream
" it has also become more common for them to get caught trying to do so. "

Where have you heard this?
How many have been caught?

LissaJ Nov 6th, 2003 04:28 AM

Why not just wait until Castro is gone, then go. I think they will lift the embargo after that.

It is silly that the Free citizens of the US are not allowed to go to this country. I also think it is kind of wierd that the embargo on Cuba stands because in the 60's they allowed the USSR to point weapons at the US. They have dropped the grudge against Russia, why not Cuba?

beachdreams Nov 7th, 2003 03:30 AM

Well Peter, since you asked....very good friends of mine were trying to fly to the Bahamas and then onto to Cuba and were discussing it with her sister (who is a TA) and she informed them that they would probably be turned around because officials are there waiting for that to happen and that it has become more common for US travelers to get caught up in a ton of paperwork (read legal issues) when trying to go this route. She admitted that she has never heard of anyone actually get into trouble but the aggravation alone is not worth it. She even showed them articles for them to read. Now you can do with that what you want. Again, I just offered my opinion. I never read the articles but my friends did and told us all about it. I would have to assume that they did not make this of course, can addume anything you wish. I was not trying to tell her not to go. Just offering a bit of advice.

BigBadTea Nov 7th, 2003 04:01 PM

I've been wanting to do the same...found a repuatable (I think so) tour operator, Was thinking about going via Toronto. There are some last minute deals to Veradero staying at the Iberostars that look pretty good. Has anyone (Americans) done anything similar? Canadians, Iberostar Tainos ? Barlovento, any good? Jennneepoo, if you do it let me know how it went.

tivertonhouse Nov 7th, 2003 06:38 PM

Vantage Travel in the US is offering LEGAL trips to Cuba during 2004. Their recent catalogue showcases a cultural tour.

LissaJ Nov 8th, 2003 04:51 AM

I saw the Iberostar Tainos last year on a travel agent fam...I liked it. The rooms were very nice. I seemed like a quite resort.

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