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Cuba Cruise offers ways for US citizens to cruise to Cuba now

Cuba Cruise offers ways for US citizens to cruise to Cuba now
Canada's Cuba Cruise said US citizens can travel to Cuba aboard its chartered Louis Cristal by booking a comprehensive program with a US tour operator partner or booking directly with the Calgary-based line under a people-to-people program.

Cuba Cruise's US partners are Road Scholar and InsightCuba. Or, travelers who wish to book with the line directly can register for a People-to-People Cuba Cruise program with the US nonprofit organization Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FFRD).

'Our People-to-People Cuba Cruise program qualifies for the general license and is designed to immerse US travelers in Cuban culture and history,' said John McAuliff, executive director of FFRD and coordinator of the Cuba/US People to People Partnership. 'The exclusive cruise program circumnavigates the island, fostering genuine interaction and cultural exchange both ashore and on board.'

Educational activities available include Cuban-led dance and Spanish workshops; one-on-one cultural exchanges with Cuban crew and performers; day-trips to historical places of interests like Biran (the birthplace of Fidel Castro), Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos; and shipboard lectures and film screenings delivered by a University of Havana professor.

By joining the FFRD group on the cruise, US citizens will receive a participant letter from the organization authorizing travel to Cuba under the new general license for people-to-people travel. The process involves booking Cuba Cruise directly online ( or through a travel agent.

Then passengers register for FFRD’s People-to-People group travel program online here and receive a participant letter of authorized travel.

All visitors to Cuba require a Cuba Tourist Card, which can be obtained from most airlines flying to Havana or from Cuba Cruise on departure from Montego Bay. Travelers must provide proof of travel health insurance and passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of departure.

In partnership with Road Scholar and InsightCuba, both licensed and registered with the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Cuba Cruise has and continues to host groups of Americans on board since December 2013. During those comprehensive 12- or 13-day programs, Americans spend five nights aboard Louis Cristal, embarking from Cienfuegos and visiting destinations around the island such as Isle of Youth, Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba.

Information about traveling on Louis Cristal with Road Scholar is here, while information about InsightCuba is here.

'We are experts at hosting both American and international travelers in Cuba,' said Cuba Cruise president and ceo Dugald Wells. He added that passengers can discover the country’s rich culture and history and engage with Cubans from a variety of backgrounds, including musicians, dancers, service staff and academics.

'We are very proud to offer a safe, simple and comfortable way to experience Cuba and we cannot wait to welcome more Americans on board,' Wells said.

Rates for the seven-night People-to-People Cuba Cruise, sponsored by the FFRD, start at CAD$782, plus port fees (CAD$178) and the cost of registration (US$75). Weekly departures from Jan. 30 to March 23 are available. Passengers can embark at Montego Bay or Havana.