Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Americans Can Travel To Cuba By Boat With New People-To-People Trip

By BETH J. HARPAZ 07/18/13 05:56 PM ET EDT

NEW YORK — A U.S.-based tour company on Thursday announced the launch

of new people-to-people trips to Cuba that would transport U.S. citizens

there by ship.

Road Scholar, a Boston-based company, is offering the trips from Jamaica

and Miami, with stops in Havana and other parts of Cuba.

Most travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba is outlawed, but tens of thousands

of Americans now visit the island legally each year on people-to-people

tours, which are licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department.

People-to-people trips must have educational and cultural exchange

itineraries in order to be approved by the U.S. government.

Typically people-to-people tours fly from U.S. airports to Havana on

chartered planes. But Road Scholar's director of international programs,

Yves Marceau, said in a phone interview that "there's nothing in the

regulations or guidelines" that preclude traveling by ship on a

people-to-people tour.

The U.S. Treasury Department confirmed in an email that transportation

"whether by bus, boat or taxi" in Cuba is permitted as part of the

people-to-people programs as long as it does not detract from a

"full-time schedule of educational activities that will result in

meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba."

Marceau said Road Scholar had "designed all the port programs to be

consistent" with those regulations, including a visit to an agricultural

cooperative and meetings with artists.

The Road Scholar trips are among several seaborne voyages planned by

U.S.-based entities to Cuba. This fall, Semester at Sea plans its first

stop in Cuba since 2004, according to Semester at Sea spokesman Andrew

Centofante. Semester at Sea allows college students to earn credit on

multi-country study abroad programs that take place on a ship, and

Centofante said the Cuba stop was approved by the U.S. government as

part of an itinerary in which students will visit various ports around

the Atlantic.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York had advertised a

people-to-people cruise from Jamaica to Havana this past April, but it

did not take place. A spokesman for Academic Arrangements Abroad, which

was organizing the museum trip, did not immediately respond to a request

for comment, but it's not unusual for tours sponsored by museums or

universities to be cancelled if they don't get enough participants.

The Road Scholar trip will use a cruise ship operated by a Canadian

company, with Canadians and Europeans making up most of the other 1,000

passengers on the ship, Marceau said. The Road Scholar group has room

for 24 participants and will adhere to its own itinerary in Cuban ports.

One of the Road Scholar tours is an 11-night trip beginning in Montego

Bay, Jamaica, which heads to Punta Frances, located on a small Cuban

island south of Havana called Isla de la Juventud, and concludes with

five nights in Havana. A second 10-night trip starts in Miami, then

heads to Cuba, with stops including rural areas and the western part of

the country, and a final stop in Montego Bay. The third Road Scholar

voyage runs 12 nights, traveling from Miami to Havana and around the

island before returning to Havana. The Road Scholar seaborne trips to

Cuba have departure dates in December through March 2014.

The people-to-people cultural exchange licenses were reinstituted by the

Obama administration in 2011, after being halted by the Bush

administration. But requirements were tightened last year after

criticism that many of the trips were masking recreational tourism to

the Communist island. Cuban-American Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of

Florida criticized the government for approving licenses for groups that

included activities like salsa dancing.

Source: "Americans Can Travel To Cuba By Boat With New People-To-People

Trip" –

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