Ah, Cuba – so close and yet so far away. That forbidden fruit that now more than ever seems so hard to obtain. Everyone wants to know – Can Americans travel to Cuba? The answer is yes, and trust me, it’s not as difficult as it seems! Travelers love Cuba tours and the good news is that Americans can still take trips to Cuba legally so allow me to cut through all the red tape to make it clear and simple to understand the requirements for legal travel to Cuba. And the best part is all that you must do is pick up the phone and call me if there are any doubts, questions or if you need additional information.
What’s Changed? Can You Travel to Cuba?
Let’s start with a bit of background about travel to Cuba for Americans. Until recently there were 12 legal ways to make trips to Cuba, with the “People to People” category being the one most Americans and certainly cruise ship passengers traveled under. However, the “People to People” category has been abolished by the Trump Administration with the recent tightening of travel restrictions to the island. The implications have been catastrophic on cruise lines as they were barely given a 48-hour notice that they would no longer be able to visit Cuba. Not only did they have to reroute their itineraries, but they have an incredible amount of money tied up in port fees paid in advance. So, at this time, as a result of the recent travel restrictions for Cuba vacations, it is no longer possible to visit Cuba by cruise ship. Recreational vessels and private aircraft from the US are also prohibited from traveling to Cuba.
The “How To” of Legal Travel to Cuba
So how is it that you can travel legally to Cuba? The reality is that trips to Cuba are still completely legal. However, the way it must be done is to travel under one of the other legal categories which, for most Americans interested in visiting Cuba, is Support for the Cuban People. When I purchased my Visa for Cuba at the airport and filled out the immigration papers, I had to check this “Support for the Cuban People” category as being the purpose for my trip to Cuba. It could not have been simpler as our Cuban partners had briefed me on the process and what to expect. And before I even left on my trip to Cuba, I received a Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel which is in compliance with US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations (OFAC) from the partners that we work with. Our clients who take a trip to Cuba with Panama Travel Consultants and Travel Journeys of a Lifetime will receive this same certificate for legal travel to Cuba. Simply take the certificate with you and show it to the Immigration Officials at your first point of entry to the United States, if they ask you for it.
Of course, there are stipulations that must be followed to meet the requirements of Support for Cuban People legal travel to Cuba. Travelers can stay in private homes called Casas Particulares or in a hotel that is not government owned. All our packages meet the government requirements for acceptable accommodations in Cuba. Travelers must also frequent privately owned businesses and cannot spend any money at Cuban Government owned businesses. Your Tour Guide will advise you during your Cuba vacation and you can also access the US State Department’s list of businesses that must be avoided.
You must also maintain a full schedule of activities planned for each day that focus on interaction with the Cuban people. The US Government has not specifically defined how long or how many hours a full day of activities is, but it is generally assumed to be about 8-9 hours. This may include meetings with or purchasing art from artists, musical, theatrical or cultural presentations, visiting museums, cultural centers, or just sightseeing with a guide in one of the numerous historic plazas or natural attractions around the country. Sorry, you cannot simply hang out at the beach all day.
Legal travel to Cuba is as easy as following these steps:
- Call Scott at 813.451.1918 so you can discuss your specific interests for legal travel to Cuba including when you want to travel, how long you want to travel for, whether you want a Private Customized Package or a Small Group experience, and what your specific travel interests are for your trip to Cuba.
- Finalize your travel dates and tour program after receiving your itinerary from Scott.
- Work with Scott to book your airline tickets to visit Cuba. You have the flexibility of booking yourself or utilizing assistance from Scott at no additional charge. Remember that your mandatory Cuba Medical Insurance is included with your airline ticket so hold onto your boarding pass during your trip to Cuba. Sample routes for Havana, Cuba travel include:
- Southwest Airlines: Tampa and Fort Lauderdale to Havana
- American Airlines: Miami and Charlotte to Havana
- United Airlines: Houston and Newark to Havana
- Alaska Airlines: Los Angeles to Havana
- Jet Blue: New York, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale to Havana
- Delta Airlines: JFK, Atlanta and Miami to Havana
- Purchase travel insurance and be sure to confirm that Cuba vacations are covered.
- Purchase your Cuba Visa online, at the airport or through assistance from Scott.
- Bring and/or purchase donations for the friendly and welcoming Cuban people whom you will meet during your travels (personal hygiene products, tee shirts, sneakers, deflated soccer balls, baseballs and gloves, simple games or toys for children, caps, basic medical supplies like band aids and gauze pads, etc.).
- Bring enough cash for you and your family to last the entire duration of your trip since credit cards will not work on Cuba vacations.
Have more questions about legal travel to Cuba?
Check out our Best of Authentic Cuba Tour package.
Find out the Top Reasons Why Travelers Love Cuba.