Ahead … With Caution

dsc_0354With much ado, Trump’s “reversal” of Obama’s policies permitting US citizens and US cruise companies to travel to Cuba, seems not much different than Obama’s policies, other than it gives Trump opportunity to check off another Obama initiative that he “reversed.”  Nothing much seems to have changed except Trump gave a nod to “Little Marco” and the Cuban exile block in Florida.

There are, however, some concerns … since most of the “educational tour” programs previously approved by both governments, are, in the case of Cuba, run by the state.  Dah!  While I suspect most US cruise passengers would prefer to be able to just go off on their own or book independently … that has not been US policy.  The Cuban government requires visitors to use a currency conveniently created only for tourists based on a 1 to 1 exchange with the US$, which is only worth about 4 cents in the local currency of the Cuban people.  Add to that the 10% surcharge that is added on when you change US currency to Cuban tourist CUCs or “Kooks.”  So there is a sense that if  you want to experience Cuba you’re being screwed from the starting gate, but is it worth it?  In my opinion yes!  It’s just a cost of travel, like being ripped off by cab drivers worldwide.

dsc_0349When you get two “eager to control” governments, the US Treasury Department, under which supervision of these people-to-people educational tours are authorized, and the Cuban government who apparently runs a lot of the government tourist companies through the military, somewhat a’la Egypt, it gets confused and some would say, anything but “people to people.”

So the cruise lines are going to have to lead a fine dance between and around what would appear to be competing bureaucratic hurdles.  But for the moment “Ahead … With Caution” seems to be the order of the day.


Should you go?  Absolutely!  Should you go now?  Yes!  Cuba is changing and will continue to change, with or without the edicts of the US and Trump.   I predict much of the “charm” of present-day Cuba, and the not-so-charming poverty, will start to disappear as gigantic mega ships move in, a’la St Thomas, St Martin and Nassau, and funky old hotels, and government run new hotels give way to Trump Towers.  You got it.