Written by: Sarah Thies, Manager of Orvis Travel
If you’ve been thinking about visiting Cuba, you’re probably aware that the federal government has just announced a new policy that features tougher restrictions on American travelers. This has left many people confused about whether anyone can still travel legally. But rest assured that any trip with Orvis is fully compliant with U.S. government regulations. Here are answers to the top questions that folks have been asking following the Cuba sanctions issued yesterday by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
1. Is it legal for me to travel to Cuba with Orvis?
Yes, you can confidently travel to Cuba with Orvis, knowing that our trips are fully compliant with the latest OFAC regulations issued on November 8, 2017. While individual people-to-people travel to Cuba will be restricted by the new Cuba sanctions, you can still travel to the island with Orvis through our sponsored people-to-people trips in the company of an Orvis representative.
Orvis remains your trusted resource for a unique, authentic trip that combines world-class fly fishing for bonefish and tarpon with unforgettable interactions with the local Cuban people. When you travel in the company of an Orvis trip leader, you’ll see and experience Cuba like few people do. The historic charm of Old Havana, wildly creative Cuban artists and musicians, and a pristine saltwater fishery make Cuba one of the most enriching destinations you’ll ever visit.
2. How can I book flights to Cuba if individual travel is restricted?
It’s easy to book commercial flights to Cuba, with airfare ranging from just $300-$500 per person, roundtrip from most U.S. cities. The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved commercial flights to Havana from multiple U.S. cities, including New York, Newark, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Charlotte and Los Angeles. Check-in and baggage policies may differ from domestic flights because travel to Cuba is still restricted.
The airline will require you to certify that your travel to Cuba falls into one of the approved categories of travel authorized by OFAC. Your trip qualifies as authorized travel as part of an educational people-to-people exchange sponsored by Orvis. When you book a trip to Cuba with Orvis, we’ll send you more details about flights and arrival and departure information in your trip confirmation package. If you have any questions about booking your commercial flight to Havana, please call us at 800-547-4322.
3. What travel documents do I need for entry to Cuba?
All U.S. citizens and permanent residents will need a passport with a minimum of two blank pages that is valid for at least six months after the scheduled date of return from Cuba. The Cuban government requires all travelers to obtain a Cuban visa (also known as a tourist card) prior to arrival into Cuba. Orvis can arrange for your tourism visa, as well as required Cuban health insurance.
Orvis also maintains stringent record-keeping for all our travelers so that they don’t need to. We provide our guests with all of the necessary paperwork for the trip and keep records for a minimum of five years, as required by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
4. Will the new Cuba sanctions impact where I can stay in Cuba?
No. Happily, none of the hotels that Orvis uses are on the restricted list issued by the U.S. State Department. This means that a trip with Orvis is fully compliant with U.S. regulations and our experience won’t be negatively impacted in any way. We spend two nights at one of the top historic hotels in Havana and five nights at Enridan Lodge at Playa Larga Hotel in the sleepy fishing village of Playa Larga.
5. How will the new Cuba policy changes affect the restaurants and other places Orvis visits?
Orvis spent over two years conducting extensive research to offer customers a unique, authentic experience that is still fully compliant with U.S. government regulations. To provide you with the most authentic experience possible, Orvis has handpicked some of the best family-run restaurants, called paladares, where you’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and learn more about life in Cuba today.
We’ve also arranged a diverse selection of unforgettable interactions with local Cubans–from a private musical performance with a renowned singer/songwriter, a visit to a garage that restores classic automobiles and a meeting with the owner of the first privately-owned fly shop in Cuba. Travelers are sure to leave with a deeper understanding of Cuba and its people.
For more information about our Orvis-exclusive trip to Cuba or to read the answers to all of our frequently asked questions, please visit the Orvis Travel Cuba page. Multiple departures are available and space is limited to only 10 anglers per trip.