Friendly Planet Blog

Cuba: still legal, and nothing to fear

It’s been a tough five weeks for Cuba, one of my absolute favorite destinations. So I wanted to address the hundreds of travelers we have booked on a Cuba tour, as well as anyone who is still thinking about traveling there.

Travel to Cuba is still completely legal for Americans, and when you go there, you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. I don’t know if I can say this enough!

Visitors to Havana enjoy a ride in a classic car

A few days ago, the U.S. State Department posted a warning about Americans traveling to Cuba. This is only a warning, and not an edict that Americans can no longer legally visit Cuba. Months ago, employees of our Embassy in Havana fell ill from an unknown source, and in an abundance of caution, the Embassy staff has been reduced. But not a single tourist from any country has gotten the mystery illness during this period, including the hundreds of American travelers on our own tours (and our own staff).

American Tour Operators in Cuba (ATOC, a national professional organization which counts more than 50 U.S. companies as members) believes that American citizens can continue to travel to Cuba safely and legally. We’ve had no problems obtaining visas, airlines continue to fly, and to our knowledge no tours have been cancelled by any tour company or cruise line. Like all of our colleagues, we at Friendly Planet are continuing to operate our programs to Cuba in full confidence.

And on a similar note, if you are still worried about the impacts of Hurricane Irma in early September, don’t be. Once the storm had passed, we dispatched one of our most experienced tour managers, Gary White, to personally tour the places we normally visit and report back on the impact of the storm.

Volunteers sweep debris in Havana following Hurricane Irma (Sep 15, 2017) ©Calixto N. Llanes JIT Newspaper (Cuba) / Flickr

Thanks to Gary’s early assessment and later comprehensive on-site reports, we realized with relief that we could resume our scheduled programs as of October 1st. We are confident that our travelers will not encounter inconveniences in their accommodations, in getting around the island, in enjoying the best of Cuban cuisine in the island’s awesome paladars (private restaurants) and in visiting the many venues that are the basis for our people-to-people programs.

And that goes for beyond Havana as well. Varadero beach has recovered, and most of Southern Cuba, where a few of our tours explore, saw very little lasting impact while the storm hit in the Northern Central parts of the island. On our Captivating Cuba tour, we stop briefly in Santa Clara, a small town whose rural areas experienced some damage and may still be in the process of recovery. Even here, touring has resumed in the main areas of the town and the schools are back in session.

If you’re wondering whether you should still visit Cuba, please don’t let any of this get in your way. One of the most spectacular aspects of Cuba is the resourcefulness and can do attitude of the Cuban people, who are no strangers to getting through difficult times with grit and determination. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to witness the spirit of the country firsthand, and to help fuel the economy and the recovery effort with your tourist dollars.

Cuba is at the top of my personal list of favorite destinations, and if you visit, I am certain it will top your list too.

Buen Viaje,

Peggy Goldman
President, Friendly Planet Travel

P.S. You can see all of our People-to-people tours to Cuba by clicking here >>

6 Comments

  1. Nande Wright

    Hi everyone at Friendly Planet Travel,
    I went to Cuba from April 15-23 2017. It was a wonderful place to be. The people were very friendly. I have traveled a bit and I tell you, the Cuba trip was an excellent experience. When I went to Europe it was to see castles and forts or royal palaces, In Africa, it was to see animals. In Cuba, it was to see the people and children in doing what they do best. Example, we went to day school for down syndrome children in which they staged a performance for us, it was interesting and what they do for the students was amazing. And for the first I interacted with a family– they have a B&B and the food was excellent. There were so many people visiting Cuba that I was shocked to hear about the strange illness that afflicts only Americans and only at the US embassy. Something sounds fishy. Thanks for letting me know that travel is still possible to that lovely country. Truly, Nande

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  2. dear Peggy,
    thanks for all the up-to-date information…..
    we will be going to Cuba soon!
    sincerely,
    dennis and susan tomlinson

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  3. Tanya Allen

    Are there any land packages or cruises for dates surrounding March 22 – April 1?

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  4. Amanda Klein

    Hi Tanya! Several of our Cuba tour packages have departures that travel during that time frame! You can visit friendlyplanet.com/cuba to get all the details. Let us know if you have any additional questions by calling 800.555.5765 [Mondays through Fridays, 9:30AM – 6PM EST or Saturdays 11AM-5PM EST). Hope to see you travel with us soon!

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  5. Amanda Klein

    Dennis and Susan, it is our pleasure (and always our goal!) to provide the most up-to-date information we can to our passengers. We are excited that you will be traveling to Cuba soon and we know you’ll fall in love with the beautiful island and the warm and wonderful people.

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  6. Amanda Klein

    Nande, thank you for taking the time to leave such a wonderful comment. We too feel that the people in Cuba are a real highlight of exploring this beautiful island-nation. We are so glad you have experienced this among your travels! We hope that many adventurous travelers will follow in your footsteps and open their hearts and minds to the wonderful experiences that are found in Cuba. Happy Travels!

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