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KathyA

New restrictions on Cuba

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Anyone have a clue about whether or not the new restrictions on Cuba will affect the Cuba itineraries on Viking?

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This post on another board would indicate so (highlighting mine):

 

per:  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article229341009.html

 

President Trump's administration has announced new travel restrictions to Cuba today.

 

"Travel to Cuba will now be limited to family visits, restricting those deemed as “veiled tourism,” said a high-ranking official who spoke on condition of anonymity. That could signal the end of cruises, which started to operate during the Obama years because of an expansion of the categories of travel allowed."  

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13 hours ago, Paulchili said:

This post on another board would indicate so (highlighting mine):

 

per:  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article229341009.html

 

President Trump's administration has announced new travel restrictions to Cuba today.

 

"Travel to Cuba will now be limited to family visits, restricting those deemed as “veiled tourism,” said a high-ranking official who spoke on condition of anonymity. That could signal the end of cruises, which started to operate during the Obama years because of an expansion of the categories of travel allowed."  

Bummer.

 

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I would normally avoid a thread like this and full disclosure, I have not taken a Cuba cruise.  Imho, even before this, too much governmental involvement (theirs and ours) to be very enjoyable.  This is not new.  For a half century Cuba has been a political football.  It is a shame as the country is/can be beautiful.  I have worked with Cubans at sea and even had a Cuban Doctor as my PCP in Florida.  To a person every Cuban I have met has been great.  But this is just the latest reason to find other places to go.  For similar architecture to Havana, including a very similar fortress, Old San Juan comes to mind.  Added bonus is go where you want, when you want, spend what you want.  I suspect some cruises will be available from other islands, just will be ever more red tape for Americans.  No particular point other than I hope this thread does not degenerate into the right/left, Repub/Democrat sniping so prevalent on other boards. Cruises are supposed to be fun, not a political statement. 🍸

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Just hours before that post I booked our flights, through Viking, for our February 2020 trip to Cuba.  We have been to the Caribbean many times and weren't planning on returning but this was an 8 day Fri-Fri trip from Miami and that meant only 6 days off from work with no jet lag involved to a new destination.  Plus the overnight in Miami makes me comfortable enough to fly in the morning of departure.  Until we retire the longer cruises will have to wait and Viking has only a few 8 day cruises.  Even the 8 day Mediterranean cruises require more time off for travel and I haven't seen one yet with a Sat. or Sun. departure.

 

I was calling Viking yesterday for another reason and asked the rep about Cuba.  There is no information of any kind at the call center and he hadn't heard anything about Cuba at all.  The 2019 Cuba itineraries have been completed for the year. We've got a few months to go to see how things shape up.  

 

This is quite a bit different than missing a few ports and I'll be interested to see what happens.  If anyone hears about what other cruise lines are doing and handling this I would appreciate the information.  I do have insurance and maybe at some point I'll call and see what the insurance company says is covered and not covered.

 

FWIW my mother was horrified I was going to Cuba but I hadn't been born yet when the Bay of Pigs and the worst of the relationship with Cuba took place.  It isn't living memory to me.  I happened to be at the JFK Museum for a 50 anniversary exhibit of the Cuban Missile crisis.  https://www.jfklibrary.org/visit-museum/exhibits/past-exhibits/to-the-brink-jfk-and-the-cuban-missile-crisis which was quite interesting and I was planning on doing my homework before I left.

 

Thank you in advance for any information.  Thank you Jim Avery for your post.  We've been to Old San Juan and your right it is beautiful.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Marykatesmom said:

Just hours before that post I booked our flights, through Viking, for our February 2020 trip to Cuba.

Does your cruise stop in Havana? From my cursory look I do not see any Viking cruise stopping in Havana. I can’t imagine visiting Cuba without seeeing Havana - some of cruise lines have overnights there.

Edited by Paulchili

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Does your cruise stop in Havana?

 

Just went on the Viking Star to Cuba in Feb 2019. Viking does not dock at Havana because apparently they were not granted a permit. Instead it docks at Cienfuegos and you have two options: (1) overnight stay at a hotel in Havana or (2) one day in Havana. Bus takes about 3 hrs each way. We stayed overnight and had a ball, but yes I would've liked more time in Havana.

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6 minutes ago, DarcyWilloughby said:

Does your cruise stop in Havana?

 

Just went on the Viking Star to Cuba in Feb 2019. Viking does not dock at Havana because apparently they were not granted a permit. Instead it docks at Cienfuegos and you have two options: (1) overnight stay at a hotel in Havana or (2) one day in Havana. Bus takes about 3 hrs each way. We stayed overnight and had a ball, but yes I would've liked more time in Havana.

Thank you. While it is not as convenient as docking in Havana I am glad to hear that you got to see Havana.

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Same with us.  We recently booked this cruise for next year.  On other cruiselines, if Cuba was part of the itinerary they sometimes substitute other islands on their itinerary, but this itinerary only stops at Cuba.  There were earlier rumors that it was likely Viking would get the permit to be able to dock in Havana.  If they didn't have the overnight excursion to Havana we would not have booked it.  Cuba is a bucket list destination for me, so I'm hoping for the best.

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Kathy, I was surprised at how many people opted for the one-day visit. That meant 6+ hours traveling. We spent the late afternoon in Havana, rode in classic cars, had dinner, went to the Tropicana (I thought that was hokey but everyone else loved it) then we stayed overnight. Next day went to an artist's studio (I loved that), then went to a big marketplace, had a great lunch and headed back to the ship. We felt rushed the first day because of a late start (problems with ship engine) but had a relaxing second day.

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Just a little thread drift. In September 2018 we booked the December 20, 2019 to January 3, 2020 14 nts. Panama Canal, Central America, Cuba Cruise out of Miami. The itinerary ticked the boxes we wanted, Panama Canal  & Cuba (Santiago) and over the holidays. However, I get an email on April 17 saying the stop in Cuba is cancelled because "many businesses" will be be closed Jan 1 and they are unable to operate shore excursions. It is now "NEW Panama, Central America Holiday" cruise. IMHO, a business would likely be open if the incentives were enough to do so. Instead Viking will add another sea day making it 5 out of 14 days at sea. For our inconvenience they are offering $125 PP OBC. We will be cancelling this cruise due to their change in itinerary. To many sea days for us and no Cuba.

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For folks planning to visit Cuba: because our government is cracking down on "nonfamily" visits to Cuba, I'd keep double checking the possibility of Cuba being eliminated from Viking's itinerary or any other cruise ship from the US.

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32 minutes ago, DarcyWilloughby said:

For folks planning to visit Cuba: because our government is cracking down on "nonfamily" visits to Cuba, I'd keep double checking the possibility of Cuba being eliminated from Viking's itinerary or any other cruise ship from the US.

If Cuba were one stop in an itinerary then yes, I would expect it to be eliminated.  Cruises miss ports all the time, it is clearly written in the contract of carriage.  But on this cruise Cuba IS THE itinerary.  Are they going to have 7 out of 8 days at sea?  A cruise to no where? Are they going to completely change the “Cultural Cuba” cruise to  a “Western Caribbean” ?

 

 

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Viking Ocean offered both the one day and overnight Havana trip from Cienfuegos.  My guess is that about half the ship passengers did one or the other.I

 

The interaction between the cruise lines and the government leaves some room for improvement. In Santiago de Cuba, the authorities required a 30 minute tender ride from the outer  anchorage. For a stop that was only six hours. One person mentioned the local government is not comfortable with large numbers of tourists, substantial inflows of money to guides, and other uncontrolled events.

 

Our cruise was Miami -Cuba -Miami.

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3 hours ago, Cienfuegos said:

Viking Ocean offered both the one day and overnight Havana trip from Cienfuegos.

Was the overnight trip at extra cost or included?

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25 minutes ago, Paulchili said:

Was the overnight trip at extra cost or included?

Extra cost. I don't recall the price.

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On 4/19/2019 at 4:45 PM, DarcyWilloughby said:

Kathy, I was surprised at how many people opted for the one-day visit. That meant 6+ hours traveling. We spent the late afternoon in Havana, rode in classic cars, had dinner, went to the Tropicana (I thought that was hokey but everyone else loved it) then we stayed overnight. Next day went to an artist's studio (I loved that), then went to a big marketplace, had a great lunch and headed back to the ship. We felt rushed the first day because of a late start (problems with ship engine) but had a relaxing second day.

Thank you Darcy!  It sounds fantastic and I'm really hoping this trip goes and is not sidetracked.

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1 hour ago, Paulchili said:

Was the overnight trip at extra cost or included?

It was extra and not cheap: about $700; so some people took the cheaper one-day option. But as i’ve said it was worth it. Remember this covered dinner, Tropicana, hotel, breakfast and lunch.

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$700 for the Havana overnight sounds about right.  The people who did the overnight from Cienfuegos really enjoyed it.

 

The one day trip folks had a lot of bus time.

 

just traveling through Cuba is enlightening. Horse drawn plows, fields of waving sugar cane, abandoned homes, ancient tractors,  truck-buses, kids in school uniforms, street musicians, etc.  I would go back in a minute.

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1 hour ago, DarcyWilloughby said:

It was extra and not cheap: about $700; so some people took the cheaper one-day option. But as i’ve said it was worth it. Remember this covered dinner, Tropicana, hotel, breakfast and lunch.

Glad you enjoyed it.

How was the Tropicana show - we are thinking of doing it.

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Cuba is marketed very strongly in Australia. And have just watched a travel programme on it which prompted me to post. It looks fabulous and I’d go in a heartbeat. Shame that things get changed for no reason other than it can. 

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48 minutes ago, Paulchili said:

Glad you enjoyed it.

How was the Tropicana show - we are thinking of doing it.

You might be asking the wrong guy. There are about 1,000 (yes) people in the outdoor theater. Viking had us close to the stage so our seats were great. But it started to rain and after the first act our group of 6 left. I thought it was touristy and about an hour was enough time for me. HOWEVER every single person I talked to later loved the show. One guy stayed till the very end — after 1am I think — and went onstage to dance with the performers. It was fun but as I said touristy. The next night on Viking we saw a performance of local musicians and it was more low keyed and I loved it. But I’d say if you go with expectations slightly lower you should have e a good time. It is big, gaudy and over the top. 

 

49 minutes ago, Paulchili said:

Glad you enjoyed it.

How was the Tropicana show - we are thinking of doing it.

 

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6 minutes ago, DarcyWilloughby said:

You might be asking the wrong guy. There are about 1,000 (yes) people in the outdoor theater. Viking had us close to the stage so our seats were great. But it started to rain and after the first act our group of 6 left. I thought it was touristy and about an hour was enough time for me. HOWEVER every single person I talked to later loved the show. One guy stayed till the very end — after 1am I think — and went onstage to dance with the performers. It was fun but as I said touristy. The next night on Viking we saw a performance of local musicians and it was more low keyed and I loved it. But I’d say if you go with expectations slightly lower you should have e a good time. It is big, gaudy and over the top. 

 

 

I can see how it would be that. Still, it's a little bit like the Carnaval in Rio - loud, fiery, extravagant but iconic for that place and IMO should be seen at least once (The Carnaval I saw 3 times - don't expect to do that with Tropicana :classic_biggrin:).

We were in Cuba a few years ago on a land trip and went to the Buena Vista club and enjoyed the atmosphere and music. I expect Tropicana to be just about the polar opposite of that :classic_biggrin:

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I would've loved to have gone to the Buena Vista Club, but most of the guidebooks said the Tropicana's big gaudy nightclub show is a must-see. As I said, an unusual shower (not pouring rain but not a drizzle either) made up our minds for us. Of our group we had a busload leaving -- but we were also the older part of the crowd. 

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This from Washington Post on 4/17 might give us a bit of hope:

 

Although the State Department said there would be “no exemptions” for Cuba investments, Freyre said the law contains a cutout for technology and travel-related business that would appear to exempt U.S. airlines and cruise ships traveling to Cuba.

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