For the first time since 2004, when the George W. Bush administration cancelled so-called "people-to-people" licenses for companies offering cultural travel to Cuba, Americans can once again go there legally—and without applying to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for a special license to travel.
At this writing, more companies are expected to receive the same license soon so check back here for more updates soon. Tip: Demand is expected to be high so book soon if you see a trip you like.
Packages Available with Insight Cuba
Insight Cuba (800/450–2822) has just been granted a license to offer cultural tours to Cuba, and these small-group trips (limited to 16 persons) are available to the general public, including Americans. According to Insight Cuba’s Director Tom Popper, "We’ve been preparing for the possibility of again offering our Cuba programs since August 2010, when reports surfaced that President Obama was going to ease the travel Restrictions." Those restrictions were lifted in mid-January and the company’s license was just approved late June.
The company will offer six different tours, and the first departures will leave on August 11. Trips, which begin at $1,695 for a 4-day/3-night weekend trip (off-season) to Havana, go up to $4,095 for a 9-day/8-night "Cuban Music and Art" trip (peak season). Single supplements are modest, at $300 ($200 for the weekend trips).
Itineraries include all meals, admission costs, and travel within the country, but they do not include tips or other extras. This is an important consideration since U.S. credit and debit cards cannot be used in Cuba, so you’ll have to carry enough cash to pay for souvenirs, snacks, or anything the tour does not cover.
Nor do the tour costs include airfare to Havana, which will be done on already-established charter flights from Miami and will add about $500 to the cost of the trip (more, really, since you still have to get to Miami for the charter flight). Insight Cuba has already reserved seats on these flights for tour participants, but you’ll have to book your flight directly through Insight Cuba once you are confirmed on a tour.
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Photo credit: istock / Peeter Viisimaa