Timothy Martin
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Beaverton, OR - (503) 259-2280
  Should I Take Cuba Off My Bucket List?  

There has been a lot of news about Cuba lately. It was big news when the Obama Administration began loosening the policies around travel to Cuba. It was also big news when the Trump Administration decided to modify those policies. I think that this has left a lot of travelers wondering what exactly is going on: Can I or can’t I travel to Cuba?

I am going to avoid entering a political discussion about the pros and cons of American Cuba policies. We all have Google to educate ourselves and have a right to our own opinion. I want to focus on what this means to folks who want to travel to Cuba.

One thing that many people don’t know is that even before the Obama Administration loosened travel restrictions to Cuba, Americans were able to travel to Cuba. Tours were available from companies like Ya’lla Tours USA, which worked to make sure that their tours were compliant with U.S. government regulations. The opening by the Obama administration allowed airlines and cruise lines to begin offering more extensive offerings in Cuba.

As you can imagine, there have been some growing pains in these efforts. First, it was difficult to gauge interest from the traveling public. In addition, cruise lines couldn’t just sail into Havana and expect the city to be prepared and able to handle a large population of tourists including cruisers. Pier services had to be arranged, excursions needed to be planned and infrastructure had to be ready for the influx of new travelers. The cruise lines were just getting more comfortable with the Cuba travel processes and procedures, when the recent changes were announced.

Although the actual regulations have not been published, you can read this official Fact Sheet which summarizes the President’s objectives and provides information about key policy changes. For now, the position of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) is, “Cruise Lines International Association hopes that restricting travel anywhere is unnecessary, but we are happy that the industry can continue to sail from the U.S. to Cuba under basically the same criteria that cruise lines have been required to follow.”

What does this mean? If you are interested in travel to Cuba, there are still opportunities to cruise to Cuba. Although there may be an impact to the type of excursions you can participate in.  If you don’t want to cruise, traveling with tour operators will continue, but within certain restrictions. I recommend using reputable companies, like Ya’lla Tours USA, who have extensive experience and relationships in Cuba, and can assist you with all necessary requirements.

Because of the new restrictions, you probably won’t be able to hop a flight to Havana and go searching for a hotel with a beach and a bar. You are going to have to plan ahead and understand what types of travel are permitted.

If you are yearning to see Cuba, give me a call and together we can investigate all your travel options!