Carribean

Understanding the New Cuba Travel Restrictions

There was some very significant travel news last week and I wanted to take a moment to cover that news in order to keep all of my followers informed.  In case you haven’t heard, the United States implemented some significant travel restrictions on travel to Cuba which may affect any trips that you have planned or were going to plan.  In this article, I am going to explain what the travel ban means, who will be affected, as well as explain whether or not you will need to cancel any plans you have made to travel to Cuba.

The New Cuba Travel Ban Explained

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According to US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, “This Administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime”.  In other words, the United States is reversing the policy decisions implemented by the Obama Administration that loosened the restrictions on traveling to Cuba and are moving back towards the long-standing US policies of restricting travel to the island.

As part of this reversal, the US Department of Treasury implemented a new set of rules that took effect on June 5, 2019 that prohibit Americans from traveling to Cuba on a cruise ship or on a “people-to-people” visa, which typically includes educational and cultural group trips.  The new rules also restrict the use of personal vessels such as yachts and private jets to travel to Cuba, which will now require special approval.

Do You Need to Cancel Your Trip to Cuba?

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Just because the United States has implemented new travel restrictions on Cuba, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who has booked a trip to Cuba will need to cancel their travel plans.  If you were scheduled to fly directly into a Cuban airport as part of a “group people-to-people” trip, your trip will go on as planned as long as you have already completed at least one travel-related transaction.

In other words, if you have already booked a flight, a hotel room, a car rental, or an AirBnb, then your trip will not need to be canceled.  However, if you have requested the time off from work, but have yet to make any travel-related transactions, then you will need to cancel your trip.

If you were scheduled to take a cruise that was going to stop in Cuba, whether or not your cruise will still stop in Cuba depends on whether or not your Cruise company is able to obtain special permission from the US Government to stop in Cuba.  If your cruise company isn’t able to obtain special permission, the stops in Cuba will likely be replaced with stops in other Caribbean ports.

If you have booked a cruise where visiting Cuba was the entire purpose of your trip, then you will probably want to contact your cruise company to see if they have obtained special permission to stop in Cuba.  If they haven’t obtained special permission, you will need to inquire as to what options you have to cancel your trip.

How to Still Visit Cuba Under the New Travel Rules

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If you want to visit Cuba as an American, the door isn’t completely closed to you.  Under the new rules, there are exceptions to the travel ban to Cuba.  Americans can travel to Cuba under the new restrictions if they fall into one of twelve approved categories.  These categories include the following:

  • Family Visits
  • Educational Travel
  • Religious Activities
  • Journalistic Travel
  • Professional Research
  • Public Performances
  • Sporting Events
  • US Government Business
  • Clinics or Workshops
  • Trips to Support the Cuban People
  • Humanitarian Projects

If you would still like to visit Cuba, I would suggest you look into trips that fall into one of the twelve approved categories.  Church trips, humanitarian trips, and other trips to support the Cuban people are a good way to visit the Island and also give back to the people of Cuba in the process.  You can find humanitarian trips to Cuba thru organizations such as GlobeAware, GoAbroad.com, and GoOverseas.com.

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14 replies »

    • No problem! That is a great question. I am guessing a lot as I don’t believe many cruise lines, if any, are getting permission to stop.

      • I wish that our government would realize that the best way to bring Cuba into the fold so to speak would be to allow more travel and trade. We would all get along better if we viewed each other (nations) as partners.

  1. Simply unbelievable! How any government can say and restrict where I can go or not. That recalls me a Russian ban on their tourist flow to Turkey couple of years ago. I thought the democracy definition was by far different in the US and post soviet Russia. Is it still? Unbelievable in the EU by the way…

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