The Jan. 13, 2018, issue of the Wall Street Journal has an article describing a recent visit to Cuba by two friends. They went on their own, not as part of a group tour. A sidebar to the article tells how anyone can do the same.
According to the sidebar, the rules still permit Americans to visit Cuba in “support of the Cuban people” without special authorization. Just go online to purchase an airline ticket from American, jetBlue, Southwest or Delta, and select that reason when the website prompts you. A visa will be needed, and you can purchase that for $50 at the airport ticket counter.
When you arrive in Cuba, you must not patronize any business related to the Cuban military. The list of businesses (some hotels, etc.), tourist agencies, marinas, stores and products (including Carney and Varadero rums) to avoid can be found on the State Department’s website.
According to the sidebar in the Wall St. Journal article, you must keep evidence of your interactions with Cubans for five years. Such interactions should be meaningful, which may spur Cuba toward democratic government. Such evidence can be receipts and selfies with locals. Staying in private residences (casas particulares), eating in private restaurants (paradares), and visiting galleries and community projects are recommended.
The United States has an embassy in Havana, although with reduced staff due to mysterious illnesses among staff (perhaps due to some sort of sonic activity). Airbnb continues to operate in Cuba, as do US airlines.
If self-directed travel doesn’t sound appealing, you can do as many Americans have by taking a cruise that stops in several Cuban port cities.
With fares as low as $44 (or maybe $38) one-way, jetBlue is having another sale. It’s called “Hot Cocoa, Fares Loco.” If you have already purchased a ticket and notice that the price has gone down, you can call in and get a credit for the difference.
You must book today, Dec. 19, in order to get the sale price.
Quito is located right on the equator, so it has no hot/cold seasons. It is located at a high elevation, so the temperature is always mild…but take a wrap if you want to visit the higher altitude parts of the city.
Ecuador’s currency is tied to the U.S. dollar, so you do not need to change currency.
From time to time IHG will include a Quito hotel on its PointBreaks list, which is how I was able to do a multi-day visit to the city for only $35 per day.
The six are American Airlines, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country. They will fly to Cuban cities other than Havana, but in the future some may be approved to that popular destination.
The origination cities in the US are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Philadelphia.
Americans continue to face significant obstacles to Cuban travel, due to the continuing “12 reasons” rule. Abolition of these restrictions may depend upon Congressional action.