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Board is way too quiet.  Has anyone been on the Cuba cruise since Skysurfr?  If so, have there been any changes since our reports?

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Had been following this thread because we are considering doing a Cuba itinerary in March 2020 when Inspirato charters Sea Dream I. Having been to Cuba a few times (both on board a cruise and once staying in a hotel for a few days) there is no such thing as a compulsory tour. The cruise lines push the myth to make sure you use their tour or purchase to upgrade but there is no US or Cuban law that states you need to go on a certain tour to satisfy. 

 

The affidavit you have to have to sign gives you multiple options in terms of what you can select but most choose "Support of the Cuban People" these days and it is specifically designed to provide for unescorted travel in Cuba for Americans. Purchase a piece of art, buy a meal at a local restaurant thats not in a hotel, stay in a family run B&B (called Casa Particulars)-- all qualify. 

 

The only thing the US State Department specifically forbids Americans to do is spend money in hotels/museums/restaurants owned by the Cuban Government/Military. A lot of places you go are and theres no real way to avoid this, but its also not something that they every check on. 

 

But to satisfy the requirements of the affidavit's support of the Cuban people requirement, you do not need to take any sort of organized tour-- just try to satisfy the spirit of the requirement. If this is something that SeaDream erroneously pushes or requires we wont be sailing to Cuba with them because its flat out false. 

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What you say about "support of the Cuban people" is true.  However, the Seadream cruise for Americans is approved under the "People to People" category.    Those visits need a published plan etc.  If you don't want to join the 2 hour morning tours, you could sign a waiver and go off on your own.  I'm not sure where you'd go or what you'd do.  

 

With around 60 countries under my belt mostly as a back-packing independent traveler, I thought the tours were fine. There was plenty of free time to go do what ever you want.  You could leave the tour group as long as you let the guide know and go off on your own and not return to the ship.   Only once did I walk away, when we stopped at a pottery factory....which I just wasn't into at all. I told the guide I'd meet the group out front and had a walk in the neighborhood.  

 

In Trinidad, we did a morning tour and had the rest of the day to enjoy. In the afternoon we took the mountain bikes and rode to the beach and transited some local neighborhoods. 

 

Also, the tours are included in your fare like Regent SSC. They also offered some optional tours that you could buy. Some were approved under the people to people program, and some were not. Chartering a boat and going deep sea fishing was not. Going to a family run cigar factory / plantation was an approved alternative. 

 

I think you'd have to somehow get crossways with the state department or US government to get in any real trouble by not taking tours.  I stayed within Support of the Cuban People rules as much as possible when I was off the People to People plan, both pre-cruise and during the cruise. 

 

Free excursions. Why not?

 

 

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Maybe I'm overly paranoid, but these days I'd choose to follow the rules, especially when it comes to US relations with Cuba (or with just about any other country, for that matter).  In February there was a lot of excitement about the Cuban ballplayers being able to play for American teams.  Well, that's over with.  It may be just a matter of time before Americans can't go to Cuba at all.  Will the Cuba stamps in my passport be held against me?

 

And Skysurfr is right.  The excursions were generally good, and they were free.  Last summer we had pre-booked an entire week of excursions in Italy.  Every single one was cancelled due to lack of participation.  At least in Cuba we knew that we would be doing these excursions.

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And here is the latest on how the US government is handling Cuba travel.  We have heard from someone who was unable to renew her Global Entry because she had traveled to Cuba.  As I understand it, and I will tell you that this is hearsay, she told Customs and Border Protection that she was there under a People-to-People program.  However, when asked to prove it, she had not kept any of the documentation.  I'm hanging on to our itinerary as well as all of the papers regarding the excursions.  The first test will come when I renew my passport next year and have to transfer over the Global Entry.

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Effective immediately cruise ship stops in Cuba have been prohibited for Americans.  Oddly enough existing bookings will be allowed.  Since some book a couple of years out, not much of a travel ban.😎

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SD marketing is on the ball for sure.  Just got an email offering 50% off on Cuba cruises if booked by midnight tonight.  All US citizens with bookings prior to June 5th can still go.  Good job SD.

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Jim thanks for the update.  I tried to do some quick research on the Commerce Dept. and Treasury Dept. websites.  It sure sounds like those who purchase before the ban takes effect tomorrow - June 5 - will be protected, but I’d want to see the fine print from the government.  

 

Certainly those cruises leaving as soon as this week are protected, but it is not entirely clear to me that both the travel to Cuba and the travel in Cuba are fully protected if purchased today because the group people to people licenses are being revoked.  A related technical question is whether the customary trip deposit for SD is sufficient to be protected, or whether the full trip fare must be paid for today so the trip is fully paid for prior to the ban taking effect June 5.

 

An open question is whether or not - and I don’t know either way - one must apply for an individual license to permit travel within Cuba once there even if the ticket is purchased today.  Presumably yes, but again we lawyers like to see the source documents!

 

A related but different question is how the ban impacts Havana port calls during the inaugural voyage of SeaDream Innovation planned for Fall 2021.  Certainly a U.S. citizen cannot go from the U.S. to Cuba after tomorrow as a tourist or people-to-people, but I don’t think the U.S. Government can stop SeaDream or any other non-U.S. registered ship from going to Cuba.  

 

So SD can go to Cuba in 2021 just as she can in 2020.  The issue will be what happens to U.S. citizens who board the inaugural trip in London then stop in Miami, then go to Havana (the scheduled stop after Miami).  It may be - again may be the case - that such a U.S. citizen could not disembark SD while in Cuba and would need to remain onboard.  Again, I don’t know for sure, but these are the tricky questions that SD and others may not have firm answers for now.

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4 minutes ago, JES4845 said:

 Certainly a U.S. citizen cannot go from the U.S. to Cuba after tomorrow as a tourist or people-to-people, but I don’t think the U.S. Government can stop SeaDream or any other non-U.S. registered ship from going to Cuba.

 

The USA is the only country that has ever prevented its citizens from going to Cuba. Other countries and many cruise lines have been going there for years. And US citizens also have gone there but only via another Caribbean island. It's a real shame because clearly it's been a great boon to the Cuban economy getting so many American visitors

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43 minutes ago, JES4845 said:

Jim thanks for the update.  I tried to do some quick research on the Commerce Dept. and Treasury Dept. websites.  It sure sounds like those who purchase before the ban takes effect tomorrow - June 5 - will be protected, but I’d want to see the fine print from the government.  

 

Certainly those cruises leaving as soon as this week are protected, but it is not entirely clear to me that both the travel to Cuba and the travel in Cuba are fully protected if purchased today because the group people to people licenses are being revoked.  A related technical question is whether the customary trip deposit for SD is sufficient to be protected, or whether the full trip fare must be paid for today so the trip is fully paid for prior to the ban taking effect June 5.

 

An open question is whether or not - and I don’t know either way - one must apply for an individual license to permit travel within Cuba once there even if the ticket is purchased today.  Presumably yes, but again we lawyers like to see the source documents!

 

A related but different question is how the ban impacts Havana port calls during the inaugural voyage of SeaDream Innovation planned for Fall 2021.  Certainly a U.S. citizen cannot go from the U.S. to Cuba after tomorrow as a tourist or people-to-people, but I don’t think the U.S. Government can stop SeaDream or any other non-U.S. registered ship from going to Cuba.  

 

So SD can go to Cuba in 2021 just as she can in 2020.  The issue will be what happens to U.S. citizens who board the inaugural trip in London then stop in Miami, then go to Havana (the scheduled stop after Miami).  It may be - again may be the case - that such a U.S. citizen could not disembark SD while in Cuba and would need to remain onboard.  Again, I don’t know for sure, but these are the tricky questions that SD and others may not have firm answers for now.

Interesting points.  Since all (virtually) cruise ships are non-US flagged/registered they must have other avenues of enforcement.  I do believe SD, with a heavy US presence, offices, employees, and US ports of call, could be squeezed on a number of levels for non compliance.  Don't get me wrong, not supporting more and more laws.  I started travel in the backpacking '60s so it always grates to have to ask permission from anyone.😎

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Totally agree - the ban is for domestic politics in Florida and makes no sense.  We engage, rightly so, on people to people basis and government to government across the globe and such engagement is the bridge to the future we should all support, in my humble opinion.

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Oceania has already cancelled all stops in Cuba. Can't imagine they would've done that if existing bookings had been grandfathered. 

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Naturally, this is a hot topic on the Cuban Boards on CC. 
 
It seems that some ships currently enroute have announced that they are not stopping in Cuba and are diverting, and lines seem to be substituting other ports (eg, Nassau) in their schedules.  And naturally, many are saying that they booked the cruises with the specific visit to Cuba as the reason.  
 
It will be interesting to see how the cruise lines handle this with requests to cancel within the cancellation period.  

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On 6/4/2019 at 2:31 PM, mcpepe said:

 It's a real shame because clearly it's been a great boon to the Cuban economy getting so many American visitors

 

It is specifically because it has been a boon to the Cuban economy that Trump is ending visits.  Food is rationed, and we saw some serious poverty throughout the country.  The US goal is to starve the people to the point that they revolt against the government.  It is not going to happen.  Yes, Cuba is still a dictatorship and the people are denied many freedoms, but the current regime is loosening things.  Cubans are now free to have businesses and travel out of the country.  My opinion is that change may come if we have greater engagement with the country.

 

What I read this morning is that cruises originating in the US cannot stop in Cuba.  Our trip, the first SD cruise, started in San Juan.  There is no reason why San Juan has to be the jumping off point.  SD could depart from a lot of places.  Interestingly, we are banning private planes from going to Cuba, but there has been no mention of commercial flights.  American Airlines has regular service to Havana, and I doubt they will take this sitting down. 

 

I'm glad we jumped at the opportunity to take SD's first sailing there.  May never have that opportunity again.

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No doubt everyone has heard or read that SD like other cruise companies has cancelled all future voyages to Cuba.  Very sad on multiple levels.  Over half a century of trying to isolate Cuba has not worked and this stunt won’t help either, but we are powerless to do anything, at least at the moment.

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4 hours ago, JES4845 said:

No doubt everyone has heard or read that SD like other cruise companies has cancelled all future voyages to Cuba.  Very sad on multiple levels.  Over half a century of trying to isolate Cuba has not worked and this stunt won’t help either, but we are powerless to do anything, at least at the moment.

We're not powerless. We need to VOTE!

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1 hour ago, wripro said:

We're not powerless. We need to VOTE!

Come on now, this is Cruise Critic.  Plenty of venues to vent over the idiots (both parties) that run our county so ineptly.  Nothing new about stupid politicians so I prefer to come to Cruise Critic to hear about someone's great cruise and fave bartender. 🍸😎  And yes, vote them all out....

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I was just reacting to the post that said we were powerless to do anything about the stunt being pulled by cancelling cruises to Cuba, And in all honesty you can't post anything on this thread entitled Cube thinking it's not political because this whole thing is a political issue, the cancellation coming only to shore up the base for the 2020 election.

 

Not one poster was concerned about his or her favorite bartender not being on the Cuba cruise.

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2 hours ago, wripro said:

I was just reacting to the post that said we were powerless to do anything about the stunt being pulled by cancelling cruises to Cuba, And in all honesty you can't post anything on this thread entitled Cube thinking it's not political because this whole thing is a political issue, the cancellation coming only to shore up the base for the 2020 election.

 

Not one poster was concerned about his or her favorite bartender not being on the Cuba cruise.

As usual you and I mostly agree.  However, I always miss my bartender....🍸

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1 hour ago, Jim Avery said:

As usual you and I mostly agree.  However, I always miss my bartender....🍸

 

And he misses you, too, Jim.

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23 hours ago, TrapperZimmy said:

 

And he misses you, too, Jim.

Oddly enough, every time I showed up at the TOY Bar you were already there....🍸

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this reminds me of a SD cruise back in '06, '07, or '08, can't remember as they eventually cancelled it for a charter.  They offered a MIA r/t and we booked it.  At the time we lived in FL so a direct short domestic flight and a cab ride was really appealing.  The itinerary, as I remember, was a couple of stops in the Keys then on to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson.  Then one of the Bahama Out Islands for the Splash.  I would do that itinerary if offered again.  

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Posted (edited)

Just wondering what, if any, compensation was offered to those who had booked a Cuba trip? Looks like SDI is doing the usual Caribbean route as replacement.  I'd hope that those booked for Cuba were offered a "good deal" at least.

We had booked an earlier than desired B2B on SDI only because we did NOT want to go to Cuba. Now we will probably change to a later week, thereby losing our on-board discount for week 1.     

Edited by cabosal

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On 6/25/2019 at 10:08 AM, cabosal said:

Just wondering what, if any, compensation was offered to those who had booked a Cuba trip? 

Why would SeaDream offer compensation for the canceled Cuba itinerary? It was out of their hands and not SD’s fault. People that were booked can get their money back or book another itinerary, I would think. 

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