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WHAT Happens to the Cuba cruises

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It is now 5/4 and I have received no updates from the U.S. State Department about travel restrictions.    Since former Cuban National are now permitted to sue if their property confiscated by the Cuban government is being used .   Right now a lawsuit has been made against Carnival because they are using piers that used to be owned by two Cuban families who fled to the U.S.

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We continue to get multiple brochures (just this week) from various cruise lines advertising their itineraries including Cuba.  I think there is a lot of uncertainty---but certainly no need to lawsuits.  I would probably just call and cancel if I had booked a cruise including Cuba.  

 

Edited by SLSD

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On 5/1/2019 at 8:52 PM, jenidallas said:

Ironically, I just got a brochure in the mail for the Cuba cruises a couple of days ago... so it appears that perhaps they are still trying to sell those itineraries.

 

I'm assuming they're trying to sell the cruises, and then assuming they have to change the itinerary, they'll try to get most booked passengers to say, "what the heck, let's go anyway." What concerns me is that I'd guess they won't lower the price, and because we were paying a much higher per diem when we booked this Cuba cruise earlier this year (which is to say, after it was already nearly full), I think it will be hard for us to justify paying that much for a non-Cuba Caribbean cruise.

 

On 4/28/2019 at 12:14 PM, raphael360 said:

If your worried the Cuba cruise will be changed or cancelled, check out the 21 day Sint Maartin to Barbados holiday cruise leaving Dec. 21st. 

 

For those of us who are still in the working population, a 21-day cruise is an unrealistic fantasy! 😉

 

Oh, I see that it's 21 days leaving on December 14, but you can join after the first leg for 14 days leaving Dec. 21. And those 14 days are a lot less expensive than the 14 day Cuba trip.

Edited by cruiseej

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11 hours ago, cruiseej said:

For those of us who are still in the working population, a 21-day cruise is an unrealistic fantasy! 😉

 

 

I too am still in the working population at 67 :)  However, I work for a really good company who gives their employees 3 weeks off a year after 30 years of service.  So, as they say at disney, dreams do come through :)

 

I think you're really going to enjoy Cuba.  It's on my bucket list!

 

Happy trails (or happy waves).

 

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Okay, to clarify: taking three weeks off a t time is not feasible for us. 😉 We do end up with 3+ weeks of vacation time during the year.

 

I think we'd enjoy Cuba, too. I just don't know if Seabourn's going to be able to get us there this year. 

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My husband (a retired attorney) and I had fun talking about the  legal issues this morning.  We will follow this case with interest.  I CAN understand the family's disappointment that an American company is using property that was stolen from them.  Of course in business, it is often every man for himself.  

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The legal issues in the article will play out in the courts over time, but I'm still trying to understand the status of cruises going to Cuba and whether our December trip is likely to go or be changed. That article says "Carnival and other cruise lines have Treasury Department licenses" to travel to Cuba -- present tense, not past tense -- so is that indicating cruises to Cuba will continue even after the Trump change in policy?

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cruiseej, I think we currently have a very mercurial president (not trying to make a political comment here) and there is just no way of knowing where our foreign policy will go or when it will go there.  

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Avoiding the political issues, I'm just trying to understand the effect of the policy change the Trump administration put in place last month. I was under the impression that all the cruise lines were going to have to abandon Cuba, but the line in the article about cruise lines having Treasury Department licenses to travel there is what I don't understand.

 

I read one article in which an NCL spokesperson said "'At this time no new regulations have been issued and accordingly, the company’s itineraries which include Cuba as a destination will continue as scheduled." If that's Carnival's (Seabourn's) position as well, then I guess it's just uncertainty going forward -- as of now, we're going, but it could change in a heartbeat if the Treasury department issues new regulations. I was going to purchase our own air for our December cruise, but that gets dicey if the cruise might be rerouted and we might want to cancel. And if the uncertainty lingers as we get towards final payment being required, then things get really scary; if we pay, and then the itinerary gets changed, we'd have no recourse.

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If you check with the U.S. State Department you will see that nothing has changed concerning travel to Cuba.   You can sign up for email updates from the State Department.    What has changed is the ability to sue any company utilizing the stolen assets of current U.S.  citizens who emigrated from Cuba.    Two  decendents of Cuban families have sued Carnival because they have used the port of Havana.    Two families claimed they owned the entire port before Castro confiscated their property.    Other families are claiming they owned the other Cuban ports.     It seems odd that a family can own the port of Havana but maybe that was one of the causes of the Castro revolution.

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4 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

If you check with the U.S. State Department you will see that nothing has changed concerning travel to Cuba.   What has changed is the ability to sue any company utilizing the stolen assets of current U.S.  citizens who emigrated from Cuba. 

 

No, that's only part of the story. In announcing the Trump administration's change of course last month, national security advisor John Bolton said: "The Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba. These new measures will help steer American dollars away from the Cuban regime or its military and security services who control the tourism industry in Cuba.”

 

The problem is that he didn't have any details. The reason the State Department website hasn't changed is that the specifics of what Bolton announced haven't been turned into actual written policy (which will come from the Treasury Department). Yet. As we know with this president, it may come to pass -- perhaps next week, perhaps  in months, perhaps if Venezuelan leader Maduro is ousted -- or it may not.

 

For now, no knows what exactly will change, or when. The suspicion is that the  People to People and Support for Cuban People license categories will be eliminated, going back to Bush-era travel rules. That would likely eliminate cruise trip travel. A Miami Post article said: "Travel to Cuba for reasons other than family visits will be limited, in an effort to restrict travel 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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cruiseej,  Your explanation of the Cuba travel situation is exactly what I understand and have read.  This puts potential cruisers to Cuba in limbo--not knowing when the new policy will be implemented or even IF it will be implemented.   It's really the worst kind of situation to be in for those who only want to go to Cuba on a cruise and are not interested in the garden variety itinerary in those waters.  Thank you for laying out exactly what the uncertainty entails.  

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I'm confused how this actually would work. If the administration states that no US citizen is to travel to Cuba, but Cuba doesn't care at all whether US citizens visit, how do you stop them? It's easy to ensure that direct flights from the US to Cuba don't exist, but nothing stops anyone flying to <insert 3rd country here> and coming back the same way. I suppose you could be checked for a Cuban passport stamp on the way in but there's many countries who will happily stamp a copy of your passport for entry which you can toss away later. (many of the ports on our recent Asia trip were like that, there's nothing in our passports). 

 

Seabourn's ships are registered in the Bahamas, they are of course owned by a US company which gives the US some leverage but it's a long way from "no non-family tourism to Cuba" to "no ship owned by a US line may go to Cuba even if it leaves for there from a port which is not the US and has passengers from other countries on it". 

 

Ships are funny things and may comprise enough of the visitors to Cuba to be worth trying to turn a bizarre edict into rules. 

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Rols, based on your logic, why were there no cruise trips to Cuba before the US rules were relaxed in 2017? 

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13 minutes ago, cruiseej said:

Rols, based on your logic, why were there no cruise trips to Cuba before the US rules were relaxed in 2017? 

Wasn't really logic, more musings really partly inspired by the fact that cruise lines don't seem to have reacted yet. I'm sure if it has the will the US can apply pressure on any business registered anywhere that it likes, just wondered how the regulations, if there are to be any, will be drawn up and when. 

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Spoke to Seabourn yesterday about the Cuba situation.  The agent pushed back in a surprisingly [for Seabourn] aggressive fashion.  She said that the president could not stop the cruise lines from going to Cuba.  I found that assertion rather amusing. When I asked what if he could prevent US citizens from going to Cuba, she said Seabourn would come up with Plan B.  When I asked if that meant we would be stuck with a regulation Caribbean cruise, she mumbled something about how Seabourn would maybe let us transfer to another sailing.  When I asked specifically if we could get a full refund if the 120-day cancellation window had passed, she would not give me a direct answer and pointed out that we weren't in final cancellation at this point.  Overall, I got the impression that the agents have been given a script/talking points. I really don't want to cancel, because I booked during a sale and got a great price, but am thinking of calling the folks in Seattle and finding out for sure what the policy will be if we can't go to Cuba. 

 

Making the situation more complicated is the new you-must-transfer-to-your-travel-agent-within-60-days issue.  I typically wait and watch prices for awhile before I do that and now am outside that window. I have been arguing with them that when I booked, there was no such restriction and  we would cancel if we couldn't transfer it to the agent.  They did send me the transfer form, so maybe I will be able to transfer the booking.  If not, we will definitely cancel for this November and await political developments.

 

Linda

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What indication did you get from the U.S. State Department that changes would be made and before November.    I signed up for State Department alerts on Cuba and have received no alerts.    If they end up substituting San Juan for Havana at least we will visit an island needing our tourist dollars.

 

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3 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

What indication did you get from the U.S. State Department that changes would be made and before November.    I signed up for State Department alerts on Cuba and have received no alerts.    If they end up substituting San Juan for Havana at least we will visit an island needing our tourist dollars.

 

I don't mind supporting San Juan, but having been there three times in the past, not interested in that as a substitution. Paying premium for Seabourn to go specifically to Cuba, a vanilla Caribbean cruise would not be worth the premium. 

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@Covepointcruiser, the problem those of us who have booked these Cuba cruises face is that nothing may change for awhile, but if the US implements changes after final payment deadline, we'll be stuck with a cruise at a premium price going to some re-routed itinerary we might not be interested in. If the government -- it's the Treasury Department, actually -- publishes new regulations before our final payment deadlines, Seabourn can announce what they'll do, and we can all decide to go forward or cancel. The concern is the new regulations coming after final payment deadline.

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Still watching this topic with great interest.

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If you are concerned about a new regulation being published before your cruise it would be best to cancel the trip before you face penalties.   We have one on Azamara in November and it is scheduled to dock in Havana.    We have been to Cuba before and while it would be sad to miss the port, we will live with wherever we dock.  As slow as the government works, I doubt there will be any new regulations this year.

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5 hours ago, Covepointcruiser said:

If you are concerned about a new regulation being published before your cruise it would be best to cancel the trip before you face penalties.   We have one on Azamara in November and it is scheduled to dock in Havana.    We have been to Cuba before and while it would be sad to miss the port, we will live with wherever we dock.  As slow as the government works, I doubt there will be any new regulations this year.

Covepoint:  I think we are booked on the same Azamara crossing in November.  We've never been to Cuba and are looking forward to this brief taste and will be disappointed if it is cancelled.  But we do like AZ and the crossing works for our travel plans so we have no plans to cancel.  We do hope to take a Cuba cruise someday on either Seabourn or Azamara so I hope the misguided US foreign policy does not get in our way.

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We're booked on the Seabourn holidays cruise, which spends 5 days in 3 Cuba ports, so Cuba is not an incidental piece of this itinerary; it's the star of the itinerary. And there are already 3 sea days, so if there's no Cuba and more sea days, for us it won't justify the relatively high cost of this trip. I'm willing to wait until later in the summer to see if there's any news or inkling of what will happen with travel to Cuba in the December/January timeframe. If the government is still silent, we''ll have to decide whether to roll the dice or bail out.

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