Need advice for family trip to Cuba in January

Old Sep 29th, 2011, 08:14 AM
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Need advice for family trip to Cuba in January

My husband, I, and our 19 and 23 year olds are looking to take a family trip just after New Years to Cuba. From what I have read on Fodor's, it appears that we need to be on some kind of organized tour. I am somewhat confused by the logistics pertaining to American citizens traveling to Cuba. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could recommend a great tour company (preferably on the upscale end) and any insight regarding the situation for American citizens.
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 08:39 AM
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There are relatively few companies operating trips right now, and most of these book up far in advance, so you may or may not find a place on one of the upcoming tours. We did an article recently on this subject, and the writer went on the inaugural trip by Insight Cuba. This company seems to have the most far-reaching series of trips open to the general public. Many other trips are one-offs sponsored by museums, universities, etc.
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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Please keep in mind, you have to stay on the tour (can't just use them to get there) they are also quite expensive per person.
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 01:04 PM
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Cuba is a totalitarian police state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. These methods include intense ...
travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1097.html

Review data to be legal US Citizens must comply with the law.

Tours for professionals of various types out of Canada

have worked best for me in the past.

Photography tour for professionals last.
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 05:06 AM
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It is illegal for Americans to take tours out of Canada. I wouldn't necessarly take qwovadis's advice on this one.
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 05:55 AM
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Doug- YOu apparenrly work for Fodor's. Is there anyone that has used Insight Cuba as a tour company that can give first hand feedback as to how good they were???
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 06:08 AM
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The writer who did the blog post for us went on an Insight Cuba trip (their inaugural trip). They get good feedback, but I don't have any personal knowledge of the company. To be honest, you just don't have that many options. There are some big companies that want to enter the market but they keep dipping in their toes and pulling them out. And it's difficult to get a license to offer trips, so many of them are offered by cultural and education organizations but are almost impossible for average people to book. Some organizations are just offering one-off trips that sell out to their own members. Here's a link to that article: http://www.fodors.com/news/story_4780.html.
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Old Sep 30th, 2011, 09:40 AM
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Doug- That was really helpful. Thanks-I may have found a licensed guide who has room on a trip in December???
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 04:41 AM
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I just read that Austin-Lehman Adventures is starting to offer Cuba trips in 2012, though not until February. This is a well-regarded company, and the itineraries were planned by Christopher Baker, who is a well-known travel writer who has covered Cuba for years. So I'm not sure if you want to put off your trip for a few months, but this would likely be a very good itinerary.
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 07:11 AM
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Doug- Thanks. Unfortunately since both my kids are students we only have Christmas vacation to go away as a family. But I will look into it though to see if the organized trip I am looking at compares favorbaly to Austin-Lehman Adventures. Thanks again-
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Old Oct 17th, 2011, 02:50 PM
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I am leaving for a week in Cuba on November 8th. We are all Americans and we are leaving/returning via Miami. The woman who is organizing the trip -- mainly a cross-cultural experience with artists/writers/dance + some visits to hospitals and schools, etc. -- has been doing this for years, though now with government changes she does not have to use a church sponsor to be legal. She is based in Los Angeles. If anyone wants that info I can provide it.
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Old Dec 29th, 2011, 12:41 PM
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There are several Jewish organizations that take tours into Cuba. These are mainly for the benefit of the small Jewish community remaining there. The organizer of one of these tours is a so-called "favored person" and we were able to get in with a letter from her (the only place we had to show it was at US Customs to board a charter flight from LAX.

After delivering 40 pounds of critcal med supplies (heart, diabtes, pulmonary drugs, etc) to the largest synagogue in Havana, we were on our own for ten days. Fascinating, indeed.

If you're from a large city, check out the synagogues and see what's available for a Cuba trip. I can put you in touch with the aforementoned travel person here in L.A.if you wish. Although it may be too late now according to your time table. I hope you were able to make arrangements or will be able to in the future. It's a most illumnating and educational experience.

stu tower
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Old Jan 8th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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losaltos,
Happy New Year! Hope you had a great trip to Cuba!
I would be grateful for the information you mentioned sharing on groups going to Cuba.
Gracias! Lissa
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 05:02 PM
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Travelling out of Canada is inexpensive and trouble free. Neither the Canadians nor the Cubans care at all about you being American, and they will not stamp your passport in Cuba either.

I can't believe that anyone living in the "home of the free" would even consider for a second that their government has any right to tell them what country to travel to.
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Old Jan 12th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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bsenka, while all of that may be true, it is still a violation of U.S. federal law and has to be a consideration for any U.S. citizen wanting to travel to Cuba. Whether or not the government has a "right" to tell us what to do, they do. It's better to go with the law now that there are legal alternatives.
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Old Mar 18th, 2012, 08:44 AM
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I would like to hear who los altos used in Los Angeles, since that is where I would be departing from
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Old Mar 19th, 2012, 04:08 PM
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sgeller...please contact my good friend Carole Kracer here in L.A. who now arranges visits to Cuba.

[email protected]

Toll Free # 877-784-6641

Stu Tower, L.A.
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Old Mar 19th, 2012, 04:11 PM
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Sgeller..I should have spelled out.."legal visits"...
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