UPDATED: How the US government’s changes in Cuba policy is affecting the Cuban people, and your ability to travel there.
Photo by Lara Leimbach Photography
Will Cross Cultural Journeys continue to offer trips to Cuba?
Yes. Some restrictions will apply. On June 5th, a new Cuba policy change was made by the US government yet again. After a 6 decade long ‘cold war’ agains the Cuban regime, the Obama administration had thawed the relationship and started to allow US Americans to more freely travel to the island in the middle of 2016, something that the Trump administration rolled back somewhat about a year later. After June 5th, individual travel and tourism without a full-time tailored itinerary and for a specific purpose is once again prohibited by the US government.
What is allowed? How do we travel to Cuba after June 5th?
UPDATED February 2020: US Airlines CAN still fly to Havana: Due to a recent change in US policy toward Cuba, flights from the US are only permitted to land at Jose Marti Airport in Havana. Flights are no longer permitted from the US to Cuba’s 13 regional airports.”
Travel under the “old” category of People-to-People: For those of you who may have begun travel plans to Cuba before June 5, 2019 under this general category of travel (i.e. flights, hotels, tour booked), will be “grandfathered” and can continue your travel plans as such.
Cruise are no longer allowed to sail between the United States and Cuba: On the upside, the cruise line industry had begun to overwhelm the Old Town of Havana and the city’s infrastructure. In my humble opinion, cruise lines are a problematic way of fully experiencing other cultures and places, where regardless of destination, the money tend to stay with the home country of wherever the cruise lines is based. In other words, the halted shore excursions to the island are more of a political punch to the Cuban government, more so than a significant financial statement.
Tours and guided excursions in Cuba: One way for groups and individuals that hold US passports is to travel under the category Support for the Cuban People. Our current US government instituted this new category of travel in 2017, and as long as your Cuba itinerary is following certain guidelines, Cuba travel is still allowed without a specific application from OFAC. Cross Cultural Journeys is continuing to offer both privately run journeys; as well as open enrollment trips within this category, They will include either a social / humanitarian interaction and exchange; i.e. visiting and supporting an animal shelters; staying in locally run, boutique hotels, eating at local restaurants / “paladares”; and doing home-stays. Our Jon Cleary Music Project December 14-21 has an itinerary that is tailored to the “Support for the Cuban People” category of travel. We are also hosting guests privately who wishes to see the island and we are happy to find various ways in which you can support the locals.
Because of Cuba’s relatively close financial ties to Venezuela, needless to say, the Cuban people need us to visit now, maybe more than since the Special Period after the Soviet collapse in the early 1990’s. Food shortages, brown-outs, long lines and difficulties to find gas are unfortunately once again an everyday reality for the Cuban people.
Cross Cultural Journeys received a license from OFAC and the US government to take Americans to Cuba for the first time in 1998, and has a long history with the country and its’ people. With over 50 visits since that time, CCJ has built strong relationships in Cuba’s cultural, music and arts scenes, as well as with government officials, teachers and many local communities and individual people across the island.
If you have questions about traveling to Cuba after the new changes that went into effect on June 5th, 2019, please call our office at 1-800-353-2276.