Don't let the new regulations change your plans...
I know these are confusing times for all of us who enjoy traveling to Cuba and most people want to go see Cuba because everyone thinks that the country is going to be turned into the next Cancun. But trust me, things in Cuba move one thousand times slower than any other place in the world. Needless for me to say that things do change for the worse at times when traveling from the United States gets restricted and people have less resources but you all can make it a bit easier for the people by visiting Cuba even though it’s not the way you may have imagined it. The people in Cuba need your support by coming to visit and staying at their homes, eating at their private restaurants and riding around in their own cars. You can still book a hotel that which is not included in the Cuba restricted list which can be found here on the government site.
There are still 12 general licenses under which you can travel to Cuba listed below:
• Visiting family
• Humanitarian projects or to provide support to the Cuban people
• Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
• Journalistic activities
• Professional research and professional meetings
• Support for the Cuban people
• Educational activities by persons at academic institutions
• Religious activities
• Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions
• Humanitarian projects
• Activities of private foundations, research or educational institutes
• Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.
Some of you qualify to travel to the island under the Visiting Family general license and others under the Support for the Cuban people general license which means, it’s possible for you all to make the trip without any troubles at all. My job is to make your itineraries and all the bookings on your behalf and your job is to pack what you need for your trip and have a great time. Leave all the worry to me ;-)
Here is what changed on the traveling to Cuba:
- Ending Group People-to-People Travel
In accordance with the newly announced changes to non-family travel to Cuba, OFAC is amending the regulations to remove the authorization for group people-to-people educational travel. OFAC’s regulatory changes include a “grandfathering” provision, which provides that certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized will continue to be authorized where the traveler had already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to June 5, 2019. Please note that travel-related transactions continue to be permitted by general licenses for certain categories of travel and certain authorized export transactions. For more on authorized travel to Cuba, please see below.
- Ending Exports of Passenger Vessels, Recreational Vessels, and Private Aircraft
BIS, in coordination with OFAC, is amending the EAR to make passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for a license exception and to establish a general policy of denial for license applications involving those vessels and aircraft.
Here are the details of what constitute the Support for the Cuban people general license:
(a) General license. The travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and other transactions that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people are authorized, provided that:
(1) The activities are of:
(i) Recognized human rights organizations;
(ii) Independent organizations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; or
(iii) Individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba; and
(2) Each traveler engages in a full-time schedule of activities that:
(i) Enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities; and
(ii) Result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba.
(3) The traveler's schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.
Each person relying on the general authorization in this paragraph must retain specific records related to the authorized travel transactions. See §§ 501.601 and 501.602 of this chapter for applicable record keeping and reporting requirements.
Note 2 to paragraph (A):Staying in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately-owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropista) are examples of activities that qualify for this general license. However, in order to meet the requirement for a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities.
(b) An entire group does not qualify for the general license in paragraph (a) of this section merely because some members of the group qualify individually.
(c)Certain direct financial transactions restricted. Nothing in paragraph (a)(1)(iii) of this section authorizes a direct financial transaction prohibited by § 515.209, with the exception of transactions on behalf of a non-governmental organization.
(d)Specific licenses. Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis authorizing the travel-related transactions set forth in § 515.560(c) and such other transactions as are related to support for the Cuban people that do not qualify for the general license under paragraph (a) of this section.
Here is an example:
An individual plans to travel to Cuba, stay in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eat at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shop at privately-owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (Cuentapropista) during his or her four-day trip. While at the casa particular, the individual will have breakfast each morning with the Cuban host and engage with the Cuban host to learn about Cuban culture. In addition, the traveler will complete his or her full-time schedule by supporting Cuban entrepreneurs launching their privately-owned businesses. The traveler's activities promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. Because the individual's qualifying activities are not limited to staying in a room at a rented accommodation in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately-owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (Cuentapropista) and the traveler maintains a full-time schedule that enhances contact with the Cuban people, supports civil society in Cuba, and promotes the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities, and that results in meaningful interaction between the traveler and Cuban individuals, the individual's travel qualifies for the general license.
A group of friends plans to travel and maintain a full-time schedule throughout their trip by volunteering with a recognized non-governmental organization to build a school for underserved Cuban children with the local community. In their free time, the travelers plan to rent bicycles to explore the streets of Havana and visit an art museum. The travelers' trip would qualify for the general license because the volunteer activities promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba and constitute a full-time schedule that enhances contact with the Cuban people and supports civil society in Cuba, and results in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba.
What is not a good example:
An individual plans to travel to Cuba, rent a bicycle to explore the neighborhoods and beaches, and engage in brief exchanges with local beach vendors. The individual intends to stay at a hotel that does not appear on the Cuba Restricted List (see § 515.209). The traveler's trip does not qualify for this general license because none of these activities promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba.
Rio Carnival 2020
Electric with energy, samba music, and squads of bronzed beauties dancing in their elaborate costumes, Rio's Carnival is one of the greatest parties of the year. Since this is such a busy time of year, most hotels require guests to check in on February 21st and 22nd in order to have a 3, 4 or 5 night package which includes arrival and departure transfers from the airport, accommodations with daily breakfast, a half day tour, and Carnival Parade tickets.
There are a few annual events that require advance planning and booking in order to reserve your place. If you are interested in Rio’s Carnival Celebrations, we highly encourage your to book now since we anticipate space to sell out quickly (within the next 6 weeks).
Information on Cuba Sailings Through Sept 2, 2019 on Norwegian Cruise Line
Guests booked on cruises to Cuba through September 2, 2019 have two options:
We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this unforeseen change and are protecting full commission for reservations that continue to sail on amended Norwegian Sky and Sun former Cuba sailings as well as those that choose to cancel.
Visa fees arranged through Norwegian Cruise Line will be refunded and government taxes and fees will be adjusted accordingly. Any shore excursions purchased through Norwegian Cruise Line for Cuba will be automatically refunded and posted to your clients’ onboard account for June 3 departure or refunded to original form of payment for other sailings. Future Cruise Credits will be attached to your clients’ Latitudes profile and are fully commissionable at time of redemption as per our Company’s standard policy.
Sailings beyond September 2, 2019
Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun Cuba sailings beyond September 2, 2019 will be automatically cancelled over the course of the coming week and will notify Travel Partners and their guests effected. New itineraries will be announced in the coming weeks. Refunds will be applied to the original form of payment. Travel Partner commissions will be protected on all deposited bookings and will be distributed by June 30, 2019. For those guests impacted by these auto-cancellations, we are offering a 20% discount (off current cruise fare) on any new bookings on future sailings booked by August 5, 2019 and sailing no later than December 31, 2020. The discount will reside on guests’ Latitudes profile and can be applied by calling reservations at 1(800) 327-7030.
Cruising to CUBA Update Carnival Cruise
Effective immediately, cruise ship travel is no longer allowed and we are required to cancel our visit to Havana. We have replaced our call to Havana with a replacement port to provide our guests with the best experience ashore.
They are in the process of notifying guests of their new itineraries and their options, in the order of sailing date proximity. Mailings for sailings through the end of December 2019 are now in progress and include the following options:
Carnival Paradise Sailings
We sincerely apologize to our guests for this unexpected change and thank them for their understanding. We look forward to welcoming them on board a Carnival cruise in the near future.
Please click here to get a list of sailings on Carnival.com and the links to the new itineraries.
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