During his presidency, Barack Obama lifted restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba in effort to entice the communist dictatorship to step into the 21st century and enact democratic reforms.
Let’s just say that plan hasn’t worked out. At all.
Now President Trump is reinstating some of those travel restrictions on Cuba and here’s what you need to know.
Essentially, Cuba has used the revenue from its tourism industry to line the pockets of the communist regime while oppressing their own people.
The U.S. State Department put out a statement explaining this is why the travel restrictions were necessary:
“The regime continues to harass, intimidate and jail Cubans who dare to voice an opinion different from the one the regime wants them to have.”
Human Rights Watch has had Cuba on their radar for years due to the country’s mistreatment of citizens who speak out against the dictatorship and for sending human rights defenders to labor camps.
Cuba also has a tight supportive link with Venezuela, being in favor of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro who is known to speak out against the United States.
So the Trump administration has decided to stop pouring U.S. dollars into governments that look to dissolve democracy and everything that it stands for.
USA Today reports:
“The Trump administration on Tuesday ended the most popular forms of U.S. travel to Cuba, banning cruise ships and a heavily used category of educational travel in an attempt to cut off cash to the island’s communist government.”
However, not all forms of travel to Cuba is restricted.
While entering the communist country by cruise ship is out of the question, there is no need to change any flight plans.
Since May of 2016 when President Barack Obama first made access to the island unrestricted, entering by cruise ship has become extremely popular.
According to USA Today, nearly 143,000 travelers made their way to Cuba by way of a cruise in just the first few months of the year – a 300% increase from the previous year during the same time frame.
Can I still go to Cuba if I already have a cruise ship ticket purchase?
Vacationers who have already booked a trip to Cuba are wondering if their future plans are effected by the new regulations.
The answer is yes.
Unfortunately, the federal ban on “people to people” travel licenses, which is the type of license a cruise ship has to apply for, is effective immediately.
The Commerce Department made a statement to The Associated Press on the travel restrictions, stating:
“Cruise ships as well as recreational and pleasure vessels are prohibited from departing the U.S. on temporary sojourn to Cuba effective (Wednesday).”
The government said early on that those who have already paid for their trip were allowed to continue with their plans, but the reality of the situation doesn’t quite work out like that.
Carnival Corporation spokesman Roger Frizzell told USA Today that the new travel restrictions prevents the company from following through with any cruises booked to Cuba—no matter when the plans were made:
“Due to changes in U.S. policy, the company will no longer be permitted to sail to Cuba effective immediately.”
What will happen with my ticket I have already purchased?
Carnival will contact all passengers effected and let them know how the issue will be rectified.
According to Cruise Lines International Association, there are about 800,000 passenger bookings that will be affected by the travel restrictions.
Many cruise lines will be adjusting their itineraries to still give vacationers fun in the sun, but without financially contributing to a communist regime in the process.
Is it possible to still visit Cuba?
Christopher P. Baker, an author and veteran leader of photography and motorcycle tours in Cuba, says that he hopes to continue accepting tour groups from the United States through the “support for the Cuban people” license.
This license doesn’t get used as frequently as the popular “people to people” license, but it’s still perfectly legal even with the latest travel restrictions.
And it’s fairly easy to receive this license, attests Baker. All you have to do is use lodgings that are privately owned rather than state-owned.
But even still, do you want to give your money to a country that doesn’t support America?
Afterall, this was the reason for the travel restrictions in the first place, as U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted:
“The Administration has advanced the President’s Cuba policy by ending ‘veiled tourism’ to Cuba and imposing restrictions on vessels. We will continue to take actions to restrict the Cuban regime’s access to U.S. dollars.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio added to Bolton’s support of the travel restriction on Cuba, telling USA Today:
“The Trump administration deserves tremendous credit for holding accountable the Cuban regime. The United States must use all tools available under U.S. law to counter the Cuban regime’s deceitful activities to undermine U.S. policy.”
And while Cuba’s travel restrictions may seem sudden and complicated right now, it will get easier as cruise ships change their itineraries and updates are presented.
Plus, you don’t even need to leave the United States to get a great cruise vacation as Proud American Traveler has previously reported.
If you are yearning for something tropical, there are dozens of beautiful options outside of Cuba.
Or check out our best places to travel in 2019!
Please let us know what you think about the travel restrictions and if you have a comparable vacation destination.