Sailors Around the World has been sailing to and in Cuba since 2016, shortly after Obama lifted the prior restrictions of travel of Americans to Cuba. The first two trips were by sailing American flag vessels the 100nm from Key West across the Gulf Stream and back. While those trips were exciting and adventurous, I found that form of sail is not exactly how I want to introduce the Cuba experience to my guests. On November 2017 we changed our trip format to include both land and sailing itinerary, that way we have a better way of enjoying both worlds. Check out our website to learn more about our itinerary for the November 2019 vacation, which will be the third trip we are running at this format and capacity. In a nutshell - our guests are flying in and out of Havana, our itinerary includes activities to support the Cuban people and all of our vendors are local independent contractors. As for our sailing portion - we charter boats in Cienfuegos (south of Cuba) that are under a French flag and owned by Dream Yacht Charter - registered in Martinique.
While the latest restrictions on travel of American citizens to Cuba are devastating, especially for our Cuban independent vendors, I’m relieved to inform that our November vacation is still in compliance.
The latest restrictions that are widely discussed in the news are affecting cruise ships and private vessels who will no longer be able to travel between the US and Cuba. As mentioned above, since our guests are flying into Havana and the charter company we are using is French - this ban is irrelevant to our trip plan.
In addition: "Effective June 5, 2019, there is no general license authorizing people-to-people educational activities in Cuba. The term “people-to-people travel” refers to an authorization, subject to conditions, for persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to engage in certain educational exchanges in Cuba on an individual basis or under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact." Sailors Around the World's guests are traveling under the “Support for the Cuban People” category that is still allowed.
As for the US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control FAQ Related to Cuba published on June 4, 2019 II.20 (bottom of page 7)
"This general license authorizes, subject to conditions, travel-related transactions and other transactions that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people, which include activities of recognized human rights organizations; independent organizations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy; and individuals and non-governmental organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. In accordance with the NSPM, OFAC is amending this general license to require that each traveler utilizing this authorization engage in a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba. OFAC is also amending this general license to exclude from the authorization certain direct financial transactions with entities and subentities identified on the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List. The traveler’s schedule of activities must not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba. For a complete description of what this general license authorizes and the restrictions that apply, see 31 CFR § 515.574. [11-08-2017]”
The SaW Vacations Cuba itinerary is approved and our guests are registered with a licensed American travel agency (II. 42 page 12-14). Guests receive a copy of the itinerary which they can present to American authorities upon request.
As of today all airlines still have their full flight schedule to Cuba in place. Delta, American Airlines, Jet Blue and United are offering direct flights from New York area airports starting at $450 roundtrip. Direct flights are also available from other American main airports.
While this might be the only chance for you to travel to Cuba in the near future, one should not rule out the possibility of not being able to travel to Cuba at all later on. Havana is celebrating its 500th year anniversary this coming November - which is another great reason to join our coming trip. For more details fo to our website: www.sawvacations.com