Cuban Travel Tip #4

Cuba Travel Tip #4
Cuban American travel agents are invaluable to those desiring to visit Cuba. Not only will they book your direct flights, but can also save you money on rental cars.
Rental Cars in Cuba are never cheap and not always available during peak tourist months – December thru April. By reserving and paying for your car through an agent here, you’re guaranteed a vehicle upon arrival.
Also, by paying for the car in dollars, you avoid the currency exchange charge when converting dollars to Cuban Convertible Pesos.
I use Caribe Travel in Tampa. A complete list of licensed travel providers can be found on the O.F.A.C website.063

Cuban Travel Tip #3

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Once you’ve selected a General License category, you’ll need to find a flight that fits your schedule. In Florida, ABC Charters flies out of Tampa and Miami to not only Havana, but Santa Clara, Holguin, Santiago and Cienfuegos as well. Flight schedules are on their website.
ABC Charter’s web page offers reservation service for other locations in the US, but a call to their office revealed no other airports service Cuba at this time. Other airports including O’Hare and Dallas-Ft.Worth have been licensed for flights to Cuba, so expect them to ramp up service soon.
When you Google “flights to Cuba” you will be directed to websites featuring passage through another country. In most instances the American emigration and customs officers in those countries have been dealing with Americans returning from Cuba for quite some time. Recent returnees from the island through Cancun or Nassau have experienced few problems.
If you can fly out of Tampa, I recommend it. Tampa wants to be known as a gateway to Cuba and the attitude of the customs and emigration officers are refreshingly welcoming.

Cuban Travel Tip #2

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Chinese built wind turbines near the spot where Columbus first saw in Cuba

Chinese built wind turbines near the spot where Columbus first saw in Cuba

Cuba Travel Tip #2

The first order of business when planning your trip to newly opened Cuba is finding out which General License category you will travel under. A General license requires no pre-approval or paperwork.
There are 12 classifications of General Licenses under the new rules ordered by the President and can be found on the O.F.A.C. website. Most involve organized groups with set agendas, but two are of particular interest to Americans who desire to see Cuba on their own terms.
“Support for the Cuban People” is my favorite.
If your concerned about an itinerary for O.F.A.C. – one that will never be ask for – remember, at this time any verification by our government is improbable.
So, visit the O.F.A.C site and pick your mission. And if your mission is a mission, (religious travel is allowed) tell emigration what the lady who just returned from the island with her Bible told me.
“Cuba is hungry for Jesus.”

Cuban Travel Tip #1

phil thompson cuba childrenCuba Travel Tip #1
When traveling to newly opened Cuba, in addition to all the Aspirin, Tylenol, and Vitamins you can muster, pack a couple of bags of hard candy for the children. It will elevate your status to visiting neighbor instead of simply a tourist. Remember to ask “con permisso” from the parents.
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See Cuba Now!

phil thompson cuba seminar2013-05-02 19.08.10-2IMG_2351See Cuba Now….Virtual Tour

Outdoor writer and author Capt. Phil Thompson’s articles about Cuba have appear in magazines and newspapers across the country.
Capt Phil’s narrated photo tour of Cuba “See Cuba Now!” offers a contemporary look at the island now luring Americans to its shores after a 50 year hiatus.
Beginning in exhilarating Havana with her colonial architecture and world renowned nightlife, this virtual tour crisscrosses Cuba ending in distant Holguin, a pearl nestled between a coast Columbus called “The most beautiful land eyes ever saw.” and the cloud mountain forest of the Escambia range.
Leaving Havana in good friend Chino’s 1953 Chevy, Capt Phil leads a photo expedition to remote regions of Zapata – the largest fresh water wetland in the Caribbean. From the wild coast of historic Bayo de Chochinas (Bay of Pigs) to the mountain lakes of Hanabanilla and Zaza, and through the historic center of Trinidad de Cuba, Capt Phil captures the pictures and the stories of the Cuban people and their incredible country.
A frequent Cuba traveler – beginning in the early 1990s – Capt Phil’s familiarly with Cuba and its customs provides invaluable up to date insight for those wishing to visit the largest of the Antilllies.
You may book “See Cuba Now” for your club or organization by contacting Capt Phil Thompson. philkeywest@yahoo.com

Happy Holidays From Cuba!

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Dear Member of the American Boating Community,

On behalf of the Board and the members of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, I wish you, and your family, Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy New Year.

I gladly inform you that during this year that is coming to its end, our Yacht Club has continued to expand and strengthen friendly relations with the American boating community and I am very proud of being Associate Member of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Today, we are very happy to have friendly relations with dozens of American yacht clubs and represent in Cuba the Seven Seas Cruising Association, the Texas Mariners Cruising Association, and the International Game Fish Association. I am also Honorary Conch & Citizen of the Fabolous Florida Keys.

It is our biggest desire that the normalization of the diplomatic relations between our two countries gives us the opportunity to strengthen and widen friendship relations between the American boating community and our Yacht Club, and also organize together boating events.

I take this opportunity to reiterate my most sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Sincerely,

Commodore Escrich
www.hemingwayyachtclub.org

Cuba Policy Change….Bout time!

Ding Dong the witch is dead….well not dead but terminally ill.

President Obama showed great political courage yesterday re-establishing diplomatic relations with our island neighbor Cuba while at the same time securing the release of Alan Gross. The American had served five years of a fifteen year sentence after being convicted in a Cuban court of spying.

Additionally three Cuban men convicted of spying in the U.S. 229were released from federal prison and returned to their homes and families.

Whatever your views concerning Cuba it is difficult to argue that fifty years of failed policy is enough. Let us hope these moves by both the U.S. and Cuban governments not only will reunite these families, but will begin the healing process between two neighbors of this hemisphere.

“A Smugglers Blues….Marijuana Mania”

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As a sunset-splashed sky splayed pink and orange against an incredibly blue heaven in Bird of Paradise beauty, the epitome of wild natural glory, Pete reflected. Going to be a big transition from this to concrete and bars.
-Pete

“Riveting, colorful prose building to an ironic legal twist.”
R Gale Porter Esq.

“Another great story from the author of “97 Miles South.”
John Radkins – Editor C.A.M.