Vacationing in Cuba has been somewhat of a challenge for U.S. citizens… well, really, for the past 55 years. Most of us probably either weren’t born or do not remember the last time an American traveled to Cuba for any reason other than smuggle cigars or try to assassinate Castro, as an episode of The Simpsons once quipped.
Good news! It seems like those days are behind us as well now. In 2015, political relations between the U.S. and Cuba warmed a bit. Hands were shaken, embassies were opened and embargoes were loosened.
With political relations re-establishing between the two nations, travel opportunities for U.S. citizens have also improved. Fathom Cruises, a luxury cruise division of Carnival Cruise Lines recently started offering high-end cruises from the U.S. to several destinations in Cuba, including Havana. Interest in these cruises has been high, but the high cost associated with this cruise has put it out of reach for most American travelers.
JetBlue was the first to reconnect the two nations by air. Just this past month, a non-stop service flight between Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and Santa Clara – Abel Santamaria Airport marked the first time since 1960 that a commercial flight flew directly from the U.S. to Cuba. In fact, this Fort Lauderdale – Santa Clara route is now a part of JetBlue’s regular service. In September, 2016, American Airlines and Silver Airways will follow suit, opening service routes between Miami and/or Fort Lauderdale and destinations in Cuba. In late November, JetBlue will be adding more non-stop service routes from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport to Ignacio Agramonte Airport and Holguín – Frank País Airport.
Keep in mind that pure tourism to Cuba is still illegal. In order to enter Cuba, all U.S. Citizens will be asked to purchase a Cuban visa (around $50) and check off one of twelve (12) travel reasons including journalism, education, humanitarian work or visiting family. Treat your visit to Cuba just like you would any other trip abroad — do your research, book your hotel in advance, read reviews and learn everything you can prior to departing. Remember that Cuba is not North Korea — although Americans have not visited in 55 years, you will not be the first foreigner to step foot on Cuban soil in decades. Most other countries do not have travel restrictions. Cuba hosts vacationers from all over the world with luxury hotels and resorts.
Want to “smuggle” some Cuban cigars back with you? No need to smuggle! As of March, 2016, Cuban cigars as well as a number of other Cuban products are now legal in the U.S. Don’t worry about telling this to your friends, though — it’ll just increase the cigars’ exotic nature!
If you are thinking of visiting Cuba, avoid the hassle of connecting flights. Fly into South Florida early and stay at our Fort Lauderdale airport hotel — after a good night’s rest, get on the way to your Cuban vacation adventure!