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Travel to Cuba coming to an end?

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I believe that the last thing that the Cuban government would want to do would be to antagonize foreign tourists. That kind of publicity would be damaging to the economy. 

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We are traveling at the same time on Empress with a teen.  We were scheduling with FerTours but they shut down.  We debated picking another private tour but had the same concerns about the cloak and dagger.  We ended up booking an excursion with the ship to be safe.

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8 hours ago, Dibbadiane said:

I had arranged to do a tour with Blexie but I have to admit I am concerned about the risk factor of my teenage daughter and I getting swept up in some raid.  I could just be letting my anxiety take over my head but what is the risk factor to tourists? 

Yes, you're letting it get to your head a bit-- the Cuban government is not going to do anything to a foreign tourist that didn't break the law-- its just not worth the fallout. I've travelled to Cuba many times since the early 2000s, well before its been more open, and have never had any issues with Cuban authorities even when things were far more restrictive. Thats not to say they wont rough up their own people which happens less today than in the past, but still takes place. 

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Thanks Princeton.... sadly I have to admit I am a therapist but I tell my clients all the time that if they are anxious about something they need to check out the reality of their fears.  Fortunately it seems that this was not couched in reality. 

 

I did reach out to Blexie too.  According to him the Old Colonial Area is now a restricted area to independent companies (got the impression it either wasn't before or wasn't enforced before).  You have to meet a little further away, and they are giving you a code number to give to your guide.  This is reportedly more so people on your journey to the meeting spot don't try to convince you that they are Blexie tours and trick you to go with them on a tour.  

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15 minutes ago, Dibbadiane said:

Thanks Princeton.... sadly I have to admit I am a therapist but I tell my clients all the time that if they are anxious about something they need to check out the reality of their fears.  Fortunately it seems that this was not couched in reality. 

 

I did reach out to Blexie too.  According to him the Old Colonial Area is now a restricted area to independent companies (got the impression it either wasn't before or wasn't enforced before).  You have to meet a little further away, and they are giving you a code number to give to your guide.  This is reportedly more so people on your journey to the meeting spot don't try to convince you that they are Blexie tours and trick you to go with them on a tour.  

Are you sure you're not just justifying and hiding your real feelings....jk

 

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On 4/23/2019 at 4:18 AM, pbenjamin said:

I believe that the last thing that the Cuban government would want to do would be to antagonize foreign tourists. That kind of publicity would be damaging to the economy. 

 

I absolutely agree.

 

However, there are multiple factions within the Party. And with the current ideological struggle underway, local factions could certainly enforce their view of the law. Unlicensed guides competing with licensed tax paying employees of tour operators would be a good starting point.

 

 

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On 4/20/2019 at 10:52 PM, Gypsywych said:

 

I'm not going to flame,  and I'm not even going to disagree with your comments.  🙂  

....but I am wondering what your comments have to do with Blexie making changes to his meeting place?  The Cuban government hasn't said that these tours are illegal. They aren't trying to discourage tourists from taking them. If anything they are trying to discourage the tour guides themselves from operating.  

Tour guides might not be giving the government their cut.strawberry tours sent an email yesterday changing their meeting location.someone is doing something shady in my.opinion with all these changes all of a sudden.i had to prepay my tour with PayPal.

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9 hours ago, scpirate said:

Tour guides might not be giving the government their cut.strawberry tours sent an email yesterday changing their meeting location.someone is doing something shady in my.opinion with all these changes all of a sudden.i had to prepay my tour with PayPal.

 

Interesting.

Would you mind sharing which tour company you are using?

I thought Strawberry Tours was "free".

(And by free, I mean that I thought you tipped heavily at the end) 

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Posted (edited)

Strawberry also offers private tours for which you pay.

This discussion about tour companies and how the Cuban government is treating them may be a waste of time if the new restrictions that Trump has proposed go through and only family travel will be allowed!!!

Edited by riffatsea

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I also received an email yesterday from Havana Journeys changing our meeting location.  The email stated "We have a favor to ask of you:  it is quite crazy and confusing to collect our guests at the Cruise Ship terminal given the number of people that get off at the same time.  In addition, the authorities do not let cars park in front of the building so we wanted to ask you to meet us at the Coche Mambi (train monument)"  They then gave a picture of the meeting place and directions.  It is only 492 feet away from terminal, but obviously there is some kind of crack-down going on with the private tour operators.

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38 minutes ago, pe4all said:

I also received an email yesterday from Havana Journeys changing our meeting location.  The email stated "We have a favor to ask of you:  it is quite crazy and confusing to collect our guests at the Cruise Ship terminal given the number of people that get off at the same time.  In addition, the authorities do not let cars park in front of the building so we wanted to ask you to meet us at the Coche Mambi (train monument)"  They then gave a picture of the meeting place and directions.  It is only 492 feet away from terminal, but obviously there is some kind of crack-down going on with the private tour operators.

You are quite right...nothing at all to do with being "crazy and confusing" and they don't want to scare the tourists...I do believe this all has to do with these tour companies making a tremendous amount of money most of which  is taken in under the radar and taxes not being paid.  The government is fine with tours but they want 90% of the action.

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6 hours ago, kathy49 said:

The government is fine with tours but they want 90% of the action.

The easiest way to understand the Cuban government is that they want 100% of the action...of everything. There are so many hotels, restaurants, bus companies etc that are wholly owned assets of the government or military that you would have no idea unless you did a little digging. 

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47 minutes ago, princeton123211 said:

The easiest way to understand the Cuban government is that they want 100% of the action...of everything. There are so many hotels, restaurants, bus companies etc that are wholly owned assets of the government or military that you would have no idea unless you did a little digging. 

Ok...I'll go with 100%.  

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Posted (edited)
On ‎4‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 4:29 AM, pe4all said:

I also received an email yesterday from Havana Journeys changing our meeting location.  The email stated "We have a favor to ask of you:  it is quite crazy and confusing to collect our guests at the Cruise Ship terminal given the number of people that get off at the same time.  In addition, the authorities do not let cars park in front of the building so we wanted to ask you to meet us at the Coche Mambi (train monument)"  They then gave a picture of the meeting place and directions.  It is only 492 feet away from terminal, but obviously there is some kind of crack-down going on with the private tour operators.

If it's the Chopin statue it's always been that, & they're just clarifying the place, they have sent that email to me twice in the past. It is across the street from thee terminal, close to the buildings. You will love their tour. Just re - read - it does seem to be a different meeting place.

Edited by victory2020

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2 hours ago, victory2020 said:

If it's the Chopin statue it's always been that, & they're just clarifying the place, they have sent that email to me twice in the past. It is across the street from thee terminal, close to the buildings. You will love their tour. Just re - read - it does seem to be a different meeting place.

Our original confirmation was the Chopin statue.  We have now received 3 emails stating the change to to Coche Mambi (train monument) located 492 feet away from the terminal. (3 blocks)  We also had to confirm the receipt of the change of meeting place.  All good, and we are so looking forward to our tour with them!

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I recently contacted our US Senator Marco Rubio (FL) to ask when the implementation date is for Trump's mew Cuba policy where only family members can go there. His response was a song and dance about Russia and Venezuela and gave me no implementation date. Typical of the worthless responses I always receive from him, so why bother. I thought he might at least be somewhat interested since he's Cuban American, but no.

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Senator Rubio (R-FL) has been conflicted for years about Cuban policy.  Which reflects what I've seen locally as a south Florida resident.

 

The are many US people of the emigre generation who lost their homes, jobs, and future when the revolution destroyed the Cuba they knew. And they've waited for the opportunity to drive the usurpers into the sea.

 

There are many younger people here who acknowledge the wrongs done to their parents, but also recognize the US policy since 1959 hasn't worked well. Time for a change. They might be right.

 

Just about every guide / driver we encountered on our trip seemed genuinely grateful for the $ they received from tourists.  These dollars and the remittances have become a huge part of the Cuban society. Certainly  for the guides. Making a month's salary in one afternoon guiding tourists has to be a huge impact.

 

Cuba is undergoing enormous change, and the Party recognizes that.  What the Cubans decide to do is up to the Cuban people. 

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On 5/17/2019 at 12:23 PM, Djptcp said:

I recently contacted our US Senator Marco Rubio (FL) to ask when the implementation date is for Trump's mew Cuba policy where only family members can go there. His response was a song and dance about Russia and Venezuela and gave me no implementation date. Typical of the worthless responses I always receive from him, so why bother. I thought he might at least be somewhat interested since he's Cuban American, but no.

 

I thought there was a May 2nd deadline on this.

Was this a false alarm meant only to shock Americans and appease his base ?

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4 hours ago, Luckiestmanonearth said:

 

I thought there was a May 2nd deadline on this.

May 2 was something else entirely, having nothing to do with tourism; it was the date after cwhich Americans could sue the Cuban government over property expropriated during the Cuban Revolution.

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Reuters reports that Carnival Corporation has asked US courts to set aside the lawsuits from descendants of the port owners.

 

Reuters says that Carnival cites a phrase excusing "legal travel to Cuba" from litigation, while the descendants cite a different clause prohibiting "tourism". 

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-usa/cruise-line-carnival-seeks-dismissal-of-u-s-lawsuits-over-cuba-docks-idUSKCN1T12P2

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On ‎4‎/‎18‎/‎2019 at 7:49 PM, Luckiestmanonearth said:

 

You may want to check if your tour company is still in business.  Popular companies like FerTours and Blexie now out of business (see separate thread)

 

Good luck and Enjoy

 

Blexie Tours is NOT out of business.  Please check your facts.  We have had direct communication with him and several other independent tour companies we are using in October and they are all alive and well because they are licensed and approved. 

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On ‎4‎/‎24‎/‎2019 at 11:26 PM, scpirate said:

Tour guides might not be giving the government their cut.strawberry tours sent an email yesterday changing their meeting location.someone is doing something shady in my.opinion with all these changes all of a sudden.i had to prepay my tour with PayPal.

 

The only reason they had to change their meeting place is because the Government restricted them from meeting at the park next to the port -- because it infringed on the Government tours and they didn't like that.  They are allowing these companies to operate, but are requiring them to meet somewhere else.  Blexie sent us a very detailed  map, a special code and a picture of our guide.  Sounds pretty legit to me!  I'm not worried at all. 

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1 hour ago, Wyoming2010 said:

 

The only reason they had to change their meeting place is because the Government restricted them from meeting at the park next to the port -- because it infringed on the Government tours and they didn't like that.  They are allowing these companies to operate, but are requiring them to meet somewhere else.  Blexie sent us a very detailed  map, a special code and a picture of our guide.  Sounds pretty legit to me!  I'm not worried at all. 

So you have to use a secret code and special meeting place.  I  wouldn't be worried, Blexie has a great reputation.  As for the legality, and this is a personal opnion only, I wouldn't be so comfortable myself.  

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There's a debate in the Party about how much free enterprise is good for Cuba.  The tour guides are exceptionally well paid by Cuban standards, one official guide told us a single tour will net  a months salary at an official job.  With a few tours each month, you can do extremely well.  Does the country really want a tour guide making the income of a general?  The Revolution was not fought to create a new generation of capitalists.

 

The other point of view is that the remittances from Miami are being squeezed, so ordinary Cuban families will see a notable decline in their standard of living.  Bringing fully taxed dollar earnings from guides into the fold is critical. So, encourage the guides, private and official.

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