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US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

chicago
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US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

I've been gathering information from several companies that have received the OK to sponsor trips to Cuba for US citizens. They include Insight Cuba, Vantage World Travel, Elder Treks, AHI International and Distant Horizons. is anyone familiar or possibly taken trips with these companies? Do they allow you to see the actual Cuba? Are their costs reasonable? Thanks.

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

It's a somewhat complicated, fairly political question but here's a few thoughts...

One contributor here went with Distant Horizons and based on what she posted when she returned (lots of misinformation and outright lies/propaganda fed to them) I certainly didn't respect their tour guide's motives.

I was also witness to a Distant Horizon's interaction in a restaurant in Trinidad recently and the agenda was, quite frankly, laughable. Even the accommodation options are designed to keep the group safely sequestered from the so-called "real" Cuba. Lastly, the cost is ridiculous (compared to a properly research and planned independent trip.)

That said, if you're a nervous traveller and don't wish to visit Cuba illegally then one of these tours is your only option.

Another option for you to consider is to travel illegally to Cuba. The legal repercussions for tourist travel are non existent now and have been for several years. Have a read through Reply #1 here:

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g147270-i91-k440297…

No matter how you decide to handle it I'm sure you'll have an interesting time.

Good luck.

Cheers,

Terry

New York City, New...
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2. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

Hi Willycat...just wondering how you panned out with the company you're using to travel to Cuba. I'm going solo, so don't want to do it by myself "illegally" but through these tours....I'm down to Friendly Planet (least expensive) and Insight Cuba (seems most reliable). Any luck getting feedback on either?

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

Some recent discussions about US Cuban Tour Companies:

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g147270-i91-k519121…

tripadvisor.ca/…38993082

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g147270-i91-k517787…

tripadvisor.ca/…38917653

Bottom line...

1.) If you're a nervous traveller without much experience travelling in developing countries or if you're panicked about being "illegal" then the OFAC sanctioned person-to-person tours are the only option for you.

2.) If you want to join the hundreds upon thousands of Americans who have travelled Cuba illegally with zero repercussions whatsoever then that's another discussion. Start by reading the link in Reply #1.

Have fun, and good luck with you research.

Cheers,

Terry

Algonquin...
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4. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

I understand as Terry said this US Cuba thing is a political bombshell.

But when the only way I can go there is with a strict tour, go where you say, hear what you what to tell me at twice or three times the price.

Sounds more like a scam to me.

It does appear to be govt' run so it must be okay.

Yea right.

Algonquin...
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5. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

Alright here goes this topic has got me going.

Walk down the beach spend a little time with a Cuban family.

Spend some time in a local cafe.

You may indeed meet some that want your shoes or shirt or a peso.

But in the process you will meet some of the most caring and giving people you will ever come to know.

Can't see that happening on a supervised tour.

Terry knows Terry has seen the real Cuba and fell in love as have I.

Good luck in whatever you decide.

Huntington Beach...
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for Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach
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6. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

Despite what you would like to think ratwalto, in the course of our tour, members of our group indeed got the opportunity to

walk down the beach

spend time with a Cuban family

Spend time in a local cafe

be asked for our shoes and shirts and pesos

and meet some caring and giving people.

We had wonderful and enlightening experiences.

I am not at all sorry that I chose to travel to Cuba on a legal escorted tour.

I AM sorry that the regulars on this board are so hostile toward those of us who come to Cuba on the tours.

Burlington, Canada
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7. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

LSCats, I don't think anyone here is 'hostile' towards those who choose to utilize those government sanctioned tours. It's those tours themselves that leave much to be desired and much to be criticized. Like Terry said, when there are hundreds of thousands of Americans traveling to Cuba independently every year with zero repercussions, it's only natural that those choosing to go by sanctioned tour should have their plans scrutinized, questioned, and perhaps at time, even shot down in flames for various good reasons. It is what it is.

Terry

Havana, Cuba
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8. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

Terry, you are very right of course, but I think 'hundreds of thousands' is pretty doubtful. Last time I heard a solid estimate on the number of Americans visiting Cuba illegally it was 25,000 in a year. I think people are mixing up illegal travel with Cuban-Americans visiting legally.

In any case, it's hard to estimate, but I really doubt that 200,000 or 400,000 non-Cuban Americans are visiting each year.

Algonquin...
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9. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

i am very happy you enjoyed your trip.

my hostility if you want to call it that does not lie with you but your elected officials that don't give you the choice of how to travel to Cuba.

Burlington, Canada
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10. Re: US Gov't. sanctioned trip?

That is an interesting question DT...and a hard one to answer of course with any kind of accuracy. Just throwing the question up on a google search provides many conflicting answers. In one article, Cuban statistics offered in 2010 had the number pegged at 300,000, but this included many Cuban / Americans traveling legally as well. It's a fair assumption this total number has gone up considerably over the last couple of years, but still, the real question is how many of those Americans are actually traveling to Cuba illegally.

Terry