Cuba Travel: Frequently Asked Questions
In late 2014, President Obama announced that the United States would begin to normalize diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba, but as travel and tourism to Cuba from the US were gaining momentum, President Trump announced restrictions—first, in the fall of 2017 and again, in the spring of 2019—that are slowing it down.
It continues to be possible to explore Cuba with GeoEx. The stricter regulations have not affected GeoEx’s programming in Cuba, as Cuba travel expert Jennine Cohen explains: “GeoEx trips operate under the approved ‘Support for the Cuban People’ travel category, and we work with small and charming B&Bs and privately owned paladares.” She adds, “GeoEx has successfully operated trips on and off since 2000, always adhering to the US government’s changing policies and will continue to do so.”
GeoEx’s programming in Cuba complies with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Regulations on Travel to Cuba
The US government put in place an embargo against Cuba in 1960, making it illegal for ordinary Americans to travel to the island nation without special permission. In recent years, restrictions have loosened and US citizens wishing to visit Cuba for tourism purposes have some options. Though the rules continue to shift (for example, now cruise-ship travel and “People to People” trips are no longer permitted), US travel companies operating under the “Support for the Cuban People” category are allowed to take Americans into Cuba to provide a full-time schedule of activities that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba. GeoEx has provided such engaging programming for years.
Can I travel to Cuba?
Yes! US citizens are permitted to travel to Cuba as long as they go with a US tour operator that is in compliance with the “Support for the Cuban People” guidelines. GeoEx offers both Group and Custom Trips that are in compliance with the Treasury Department’s regulations.
What does the State Department travel advisory mean?
There is a travel advisory for Cuba in place, simply recommending increased caution. Cuba is considered to be as safe for travel as Spain, Italy, and France.
As with all GeoEx destinations, we carefully monitor travel conditions in and surrounding Cuba, and maintain nearly round-the-clock logistics, air, security, and emergency assistance with trusted colleagues in the field.
How does one fly to Cuba?
Several commercial airlines offer flights from various US airports to Cuba.
Support for the Cuban People Program Guidelines
What is Support for the Cuban People travel?
The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control allows US citizens to travel to Cuba with US travel companies that offer a full schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people and result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba. Americans are barred from spending money in businesses run by the Cuban government, which includes many hotels, restaurants, and shops. They must exclusively patronize private, Cuban-owned businesses (this means staying in private homes, dining in paladares, visiting only mom-and-pop shops) and have a full-time schedule while in Cuba. In accordance with these guidelines, GeoEx has developed trip itineraries that are informative, interactive, and wonderfully interesting.
Group & Private Trips: Number of Travelers & Days
How large are the groups on your scheduled Group Trips?
Our group size is small—no more than eight travelers—which gives us increased access, flexibility, and mobility. Our group size is the smallest around, and we are far more able to tend to individual interests and needs than other companies.
To have a Custom Trip organized, what is the number of travelers and days required?
We arrange flexible, private departures for as few as two travelers. The trip must be at least five days long, although the recommended amount of time to spend in Cuba is eight days. Please keep in mind that the number of people traveling, trip length, seasonality, and specific inclusions and exclusions can dramatically impact the trip experience and cost. Larger groups often enable us to secure a lower per-person rate.
Planning Ahead: Activity Level, Paladares & Fit for Families
Is this an active trip?
By GeoEx standards, our Group Trip Connecting with Cuba’s Living History is not a highly active trip. That said, we do explore Havana largely on foot, as opposed to seeing it from the seat of a bus, and do have a full schedule that keeps us out and about most of each day. Our private, customizeable Cuba Insider and Cuba Family Explorer journeys provide more opportunities to stay active while in Cuba and explore the country by foot, bicycle, and paddleboard.
Will we have meals in paladares?
Yes, and you can count on us to find the emerging and best-hidden paladares (homes-turned-eateries) that share a timely and authentic slice of Cuban life. The restaurant scene is one of the most interesting and dynamic aspects of Cuba’s changing society, and GeoEx has its finger on the pulse of the shifts taking place—not something many of our competitors can say. Visiting paladares is one of the many insider activities that our travelers enjoy.
Is Cuba an appropriate destination for family travel?
Yes, Cuba is perfect for pre-teens, teens, and young adults—please see our Cuba Family Explorer itinerary for more details.
Photography in Cuba
Is photography permitted?
Absolutely! Cuba is one of the most photogenic places you can visit. Our travelers are encouraged to bring their cameras and get as many shots as possible. There are no restrictions on photography, but like anywhere else in the world, common rules of appropriateness apply, such as asking for permission before taking pictures of people.