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Cruise to Cuba - you can't disembark without...

Cruise to Cuba - you can't disembark without...

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Old Jun 15, 18, 8:15 am
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Cruise to Cuba - you can't disembark without...

Hello,

My wife is cruising to Cuba and a few other places next month with Norwegian cruise line (if I'm not mistaken).
The cruise line mentioned that without an organized trip to or a guided tour in Cuba, you will not let anyone disembark the ship in Cuba.

Can anyone comment on that based on experience? it sounds fishy to me.

Thanks!
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Old Jun 15, 18, 8:45 am
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Originally Posted by justsawaufo View Post
Hello,

My wife is cruising to Cuba and a few other places next month with Norwegian cruise line (if I'm not mistaken).
The cruise line mentioned that without an organized trip to or a guided tour in Cuba, you will not let anyone disembark the ship in Cuba.

Can anyone comment on that based on experience? it sounds fishy to me.

Thanks!
Not so much fishy as it is confusing and a bit of a gray area. For American citizens it more or less comes down to if the tour is OFAC compliant. All ship tours are supposed to be compliant and many of the privately arranged tours are but then again not all. Add in there is some confusion about Canadian citizens who are not subject to the same restrictions as Americans but are on a cruise that originates in the US and therefore might be subject to the restrictions. Clear as mud.........
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Old Jun 15, 18, 8:46 am
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And not just that, if you take a cruise to Cuba, you MUST take a tour. You can't just stay on the ship.
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Old Jun 15, 18, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by Randyk47 View Post


Not so much fishy as it is confusing and a bit of a gray area. For American citizens it more or less comes down to if the tour is OFAC compliant. All ship tours are supposed to be compliant and many of the privately arranged tours are but then again not all. Add in there is some confusion about Canadian citizens who are not subject to the same restrictions as Americans but are on a cruise that originates in the US and therefore might be subject to the restrictions. Clear as mud.........
Originally Posted by wrp96 View Post
And not just that, if you take a cruise to Cuba, you MUST take a tour. You can't just stay on the ship.
Thank you for clarifying!
Can you please recommend a few tours?
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Old Jun 15, 18, 9:13 am
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Originally Posted by justsawaufo View Post
Thank you for clarifying!
Can you please recommend a few tours?
Sorry can’t recommend any tours. Awhile back my wife asked her agency if she could visit or be on a cruise that stopped in Cuba. The short and terse answer was along the lines of “No. You are not authorized to visit or be on a cruise that stops in Cuba. You can only visit Cuba as part of official business.” Of course her agency has no official business in Cuba so it isn’t happening. Maybe it’s different or better now as the OFAC guidance has changed a few times since she checked but we’ve lost interest in Caribbean cruises in general so haven’t rechecked her restrictions.

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Old Jun 17, 18, 8:54 am
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Originally Posted by Randyk47 View Post
Add in there is some confusion about Canadian citizens who are not subject to the same restrictions as Americans but are on a cruise that originates in the US and therefore might be subject to the restrictions.
My wife's sister and her husband took a cruise to Cuba earlier this year departing from Tampa. Even though they are both Canadians they were told by the cruise line that the American restrictions applied to them too.

They invited us to join them and we considered it briefly. I've always wanted to see Havana but it would be easier and cheaper for us to simply fly to Cuba directly from Toronto and stay in a hotel.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 8:58 pm
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Originally Posted by justsawaufo View Post
Hello,

My wife is cruising to Cuba and a few other places next month with Norwegian cruise line (if I'm not mistaken).
The cruise line mentioned that without an organized trip to or a guided tour in Cuba, you will not let anyone disembark the ship in Cuba.

Can anyone comment on that based on experience? it sounds fishy to me.

Thanks!
From my 1 experience with Norwegian, I found that they tend to say whatever they think you need to hear to sell you something... at least that was the case when I sailed with them a few years ago.

I've been the Cuba on Royal Caribbean and will be going back in September on Royal Caribbean again and they don't require anyone to book a tour. They do ask everyone thats going for the first time to attend a presentation on Cuba. On Royal Caribbean, they just did a presentation on what sites to visit and what scams to look out for and how to identify the currency, no hard sell on shore excursions, they did mention what excursions goes to the site they mention but also mention how to get there on your own. Royal Caribbean did say they "highly encourage" people to book one but never did they say it's required. So far for my September cruise, they haven't even send any notices out saying we are require to purchase a tour to see Cuba. In fact, two of my friends are also going to Cuba in a couple weeks on Royal Caribbean and they also haven't received an notice saying they are require to book a tour directly with Royal Caribbean. However, notices have been sent out that if you are traveling to Cuba under "People to People" that you are require to book a tour through Royal Caribbean. However, most people end up going to Cuba as "support for the Cuban People". You may want to look into what that entails. I'm not a lawyer or in a position to advise what is or is not allowed, but you should look into the requirements for entry into Cuba as a US citizen.. specially the "Support for the Cuban People" and what qualifies.

It could be Royal Caribbean and Norwegian are allowed to go to Cuba under different requirements from the government, but I highly doubt that.
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Old Jul 18, 18, 7:58 pm
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I did a multi stop cruise to Cuba in March on Azamara. As with other lines mentioned here they will put fear in you to book excursions through the cruise line you are sailing on. Truth is it has to be any licensed tour and only on your first day ashore in Cuba. Although I loved Cuba the tours are half tour, half indoctrination. I highly recommend reading the novel Cuban Affair beforehand as well as watching the Netflix documentary Cuba Libre Story. Btw, the guy in charge of future cruise bookings on the ship was born in Cuba but a Canadian citizen. We didn’t get into the details but he volunteered that he was the only crew member not allowed onshore.
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Old Jul 19, 18, 3:14 am
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Originally Posted by justsawaufo View Post
Thank you for clarifying!
Can you please recommend a few tours?
I did the Cuba cruise on Norwegian and can recommend doing a tour to the Ernest Hemingway house which also included a city tour and dropping by the hotel seeing the room where Hemingway lived before buying his house. His boat is also on display at the house, which is really more of a compound. It is located just outside of Havana.
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Old Aug 26, 18, 8:24 pm
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If you take a half-day (morning) excursion with the cruise company, can you stay ashore on your own for the other half day?\

If you go back to the ship for lunch after the morning tour, can you walk out on your own in the afternoon?
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Old Aug 26, 18, 11:20 pm
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
If you take a half-day (morning) excursion with the cruise company, can you stay ashore on your own for the other half day?\

If you go back to the ship for lunch after the morning tour, can you walk out on your own in the afternoon?
Yes and Yes. Unless things have changed since March when we did this every day in all three of the Cuban ports.
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