Several people have been asking me about going to Cuba now that the embargo is lifted. Many are considering trips to Cuba, but want to know how best to travel there. Embargo or no embargo, I strongly recommend going to Cuba with an organization with a history of taking people here.
Regardless of the lifting (partial) of the embargo, Cuba has been operating in its very own 50-year old time warp, impacting everything from technology (helloooo dial-up) to transportation, and has simply not developed the necessary infrastructure to support the onset of the American tourists. Hotel rooms, transportation, even flights – can be difficult to come by, even when securing blocks of tickets or rooms sourced by an experienced travel company. If you are willing to travel on the fly, taking risks that you’ll get into a hotel or even a casa particular, great. For the rest of us that need to know what beds our heads will be in, I would have concerns about locking in a reservation, only to arrive at a hotel and find there’s no record of said reservation. This is Cuba, remember. Things don’t happen the way they are supposed to. Just something to consider.
The company I worked for in LA – The CTP Group – is an incentive & small group travel company. Their division, the WOW! Travel Club – operates very high-touch, small group trips to interesting places all over the world. WOW! has been doing humanitarian trips to Cuba since 2010. These have been under the auspices of a “people to people” visa classification to get into Cuba. I have escorted three of these programs, and seen first hand what an impact Cuba has had on groups, and on me.
The group sizes are very small – generally around 15 – 20 people. The trips are escorted by Marilyn Murphy, the CEO of The CTP Group, who is completely in love with the country, and even more in love with showcasing it to a new group of travelers. Her programs focus on providing access to people and experiences that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to find on your own – really giving a sense as to what life in Cuba is like. Marilyn is a total pro, having designed and conducted group travel programs for nearly 40 years. Read the testimonials – there’s a reason she’s considered the best of the best and her trips are snapped up by many of the same people who travel with her year after year.
Regardless of the embargo lifting, I believe it will still be difficult to travel here as an American. While Americans can now use credit and debit cards (I will believe it when I see it), there is still the issue of arranging flights, securing hotel space, organizing transportation. And frankly, I wouldn’t do Cuba without a full-time guide. A. I would feel more secure; B. A guide can offer access to people and places more off the tourist grid and can give tremendous historical insight, which really makes places come alive.
WOW! Travel Club’s upcoming Cuba trip is April 18 – 26. The itinerary includes:
- Accommodations for 8 nights (1 n Miami, 3 n Havana, 1 n Veradero, 3 n Sancti Spiritus)
- Round-trip flight Miami/Cuba
- Airport transfers
- Most meals with drinks
- Full-time itinerary of educational visits and interaction with local Cuban people
- Private visits and special experiences
- Hand-picked Cuban guide, plus Marilyn Murphy to escort
- Cuban visa and People-to-People License
- Most gratuities, Cuban Departure Tax, taxes and WOW! surprises every day.
Having escorted three trips to Cuba with WOW!, I know their programs are fantastic, and each time I’ve gone to Cuba, I’ve been spellbound with the place. The itinerary offers just the right balance of group experiences with enough free time to feel like you can explore and get a sense on your own. I recommend highly and am seriously considering going with WOW! in April, myself.
Click here for details. Hope to see you there!