Wednesday, June 5, 2019, the Trump administration added new restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and banned cruises, private yachts, and fishing vessels from docking in Cuba. The Cruise Line International Association said in a statement that the move affected 800,000 passenger bookings. Since 2016 cruises had become the most popular way for Americans to travel to Cuba. This year, between Jan. 1 and April 30, 142,721 Americans went to Cuba on cruises, compared to the 114,832 who traveled there by plane. These numbers don’t include Cuban-born Americans visiting family. Americans were the second-highest travelers to Cuba after Canadians.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement the travel ban was being implemented because of Cuba’s “destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere,” its efforts to suppress democracy and its support for “U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua.”
As of today, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United airlines still fly to Cuba. Americans can still travel to Cuba but under certain rules and approved categories. There are 11 categories of legal travel under the Cuba General License (formerly 12 before #45 added restrictions). They are:
Remember “People to People” category of travel is no longer permitted per #45
The U.S. Embassy in Havana is operating with limited staff as all non-essential personnel were sent back to the U.S. The staff can only help you in an emergency and it’s best to contact the Embassy by phone at +(53)(7) 839-4100.
Regardless of which Category of Legal Travel you choose, you will still need to buy a Cuban Tourist Card to enter Cuba (not actually a visa, though the two words are sometimes used interchangeably). This is a Cuban government requirement and has nothing to do with the 11 Categories of Legal Travel required by the US Government. If you’re traveling from the US, this card is pink. If you are traveling from outside the US, this card is green. There are several ways to purchase a Cuban Tourist Card:
A daily itinerary is still necessary as travel is not yet permitted solely for tourism from the US. By engaging in cultural activities with the Cuban people, spending your money in locally owned establishments, and staying off the beaten path of tourists from other countries, you may travel under the loose restrictions of the Cuba General License.
Did you travel to Cuba before the ban? Comment below!
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