NEW ROCHELLE NY | In marking Cuban Independence Day on May 20, President Bush announced no new sanctions, surprising those who expected stiff measures following Castro’s crackdown on dissidents.
Nonetheless, while Congress debates a bipartisan effort to undo travel restrictions to Cuba, the Bush administration remains determined to eliminate even educational people-to-people travel to Cuba. December 31 has been set as the expiration date on the licenses of the few travel providers now operating in Cuba, with some expiring even before then.
Thus, US citizens will be cut off from an exhilarating destination just 90 miles from Florida, yet separated for 44 years. It could also be the last chance to see Cuba before inevitable post-Castro development changes pre-1959 Cuba. Indeed, a trip to Cuba in 2003 might be the trip of a lifetime in more ways than one.
One of the most rewarding programs is offered by Cross-Cultural Solutions’ Insight Cuba (http://www.insightcuba.org toll-free 1-800-935-CUBA), a US-based nonprofit with weekly trips through December. Not a sun and fun vacation or cookie cutter tour, Insight Cuba’s programs give real access to Cuban culture and Cubans eager to meet Americans.
Each Insight Cuba group is guided by a trained companero who ensures that every guest has the most fulfilling experience possible. With groups limited to 16, companeros excel at exceeding guests’ interests. On one trip, for example, a participant not only saw a baseball game, he met the team and Cuba’s baseball commissioner.
Insight Cuba makes it easy to travel to Cuba, connecting travelers with travel agents authorized by the US Treasury Department to plan their flights from New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Program coordinators provide documents needed to enter Cuba. Five- and four-star accommodations, meals, ground transportation and English-Spanish translation are covered in the price.
Trips include “Perspectives” programs ranging from a weekend in Havana to one- and two-week island adventures, and music programs in one or two cities unfolding Cuba’s rich musical heritage from cha cha and salsa to jazz.
For more information about Insight Cuba’s trips to Cuba, click on http://www.insightcuba.org/, or call toll-free 1-800-935-CUBA (1-800-935-2822).
Prices quoted are land prices, per person double occupancy, and cover luxury accommodations, meals, ground transportation and translation. Roundtrip airfare to Havana ranges from $450 to $700 from New York, $500 to $800 from Los Angeles and $299 to $349 from Miami, depending on season and time of booking.
A four-day three-night “Taste of Cuba” program is available July 3-6 and August 28-31 beginning at $1,399 in four-star accommodations. An eight-day/seven night trip to Havana and Trinidad departs June 7, June 21 and July 19, priced at $1,799 in four-star accommodations and $2,499 in five-star lodgings. A 15 day/14 night trip leaves on June 21 and September 20, priced at $2,899 in four-star accommodations. Other dates available through December.
Eight day/seven night programs leave on June 14, June 21 and July 5 and are priced at $2,099 in four-star accommodations and $2,799 in five star accommodations. An eight day/seven night Cuban Music Exploration leaves on June 21, $2,483 in four-star accommodations; programs available through December, plus four day/three night music programs.
Jazz with Jazz Times Magazine
Insight Cuba and Jazz Times Magazine combine Cuban jazz touring with Cuba’s art scene. This eight day/seven night program departs June 1, July 12 and August 2, priced at $2,299 in four-star accommodations and $2,899 in five star accommodations. These programs will also continue into December. Insight Cuba
Web site: http://www.insightcuba.org