On the occasion of the Presidential visit to Cuba, several photos from a visit to Havana in 2012. History.
It was inevitable, and now comes this frightening news:
“Carnival last week announced plans for weeklong “people-to-people” cruises starting in May on a 710-passenger ship of its new “fathom” brand focused on “social impact,” such as volunteering.”
Three years ago we joined an “educational tour” to Cuba. There were eight or ten of us and yes, there were some obligatory stops, but supervision was both good hearted and lax. Because of transportation snafus at Miami, which was just chaos, we managed to talk our way onto a plane a day before the rest of the small group, which gave us a free day, and we declined to join a couple of the activities, with no objection from our tour company. This arrangement is not ideal, but it seems to me far better than waiting until all restrictions are lifted and there is a monstrous Carnival cruise ship opposite the Malecon and there are more Americans than Cubans in La Habana Vieja.
Think about it, and if you are so moved, read this article, How to travel to Cuba before it gets mobbed by Americans.
With news this week that the U.S. has approved ferry routes to Cuba, Havana won’t be like it is now, very much longer. Americans who want to experience Havana the way it has been during the embargo should act soon. Whatever you do, get down there before the Invasion of the American Franchises. Please don’t wait until Havana has its own Bed Bath and Beyond. That would pretty much be missing the point.
Here is just a random, kind of unkempt Havana balcony across the street from the big capitol building. Click it to enlarge it and enjoy the detail. See more photos from our March 2012 visit to Havana in the Cuba Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. And see all the Friday Photos.
Headline today: Obama administration approves first ferry service to Cuba
Today’s announcements in Washington and Havana look like progress toward a relationship that makes more sense for The United States and Cuba. Still, let’s all savor this moment before there’s a Red Lobster, Jiffy Lube and Mattress Warehouse on every corner down there.
It seems incredible but ordinary Americans still can’t just hop on a plane and fly to Cuba. The rules have relaxed a little though, and nowadays with prior planning, a trip to Havana is possible. Click the photo to enlarge, and see this and 57 other photos from a 2012 trip in the Cuba Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. And here’s a story about the trip.
When we signed up for a trip to Cuba back in March, we assumed the "people to people" regulations would hold at least until a possible change in presidential administration. Like everything in U.S./Cuban relations, it turns out to be more complicated than that.
Under criticism from Sen. Rubio and others, the State Department began to slow-walk tour companies' license renewal process, forcing many companies providing the tours to suspend Cuba travel. The company with which we traveled, Insight Cuba, (this is not an endorsement of Insight Cuba, which was confused and lukewarm with its customer support – but there are others) was forced to lay off all 22 of its employees for a time.
But now the program is apparently back on track. All this back and forth might be put down to election year politics, but it points out that if you're on the fence about Cuba travel, if you don't act while you can, you may not have the opportunity to travel to Cuba legally later.
(More photos here.)