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Old 21-11-2017, 06:41   #1
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Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

Hi there, can anybody give me advice on sailing to Cuba as an American. We plan to sail from Caye West to Belize and it seems like hugging the coast of Cuba is the best route. Although we don't plan to stop in Cuba we would still like to keep it as an option if we need to wait for weather as we will be doing the trip in early March. Thanks.
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Old 22-11-2017, 07:52   #2
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

The Cubans are welcoming and kind. I was just in Cuba this summer. You sail into a port of entry, get your visa there and buy a one month cruising permit. Don't just pull in and anchor in Cuban waters without the permit though.
Permission from the U.S. to cruise there is another thing altogether. It is not complicated, but it is very restricted, and limited to a two week window. If you are not planning ahead of time to visit Cuba, and not returning directly from Cuba but going on to Belize, I would suggest only pulling in if it is weather related and then giving emergency need as your reason for visiting if ever confronted by U.S. authorities about the matter. IMHO
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Old 22-11-2017, 09:23   #3
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

A boat just pulled into Hemingway from US. His answer to problems from home was have reasons for visit already, humanitarian, cultural, something besides sailing for the fun of it. Got to be some more help/advice on the internet. Cayo Levisa, halfway between Havana and San Antonio to the west, is a beautiful sheltered anchor mooring w/restaurant/bar/fantastic clean beach. Very private for visitors as access by boat or ferry only. As a whole, Cubans are kind and generous people who welcome tourists from all countries.
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Old 22-11-2017, 10:41   #4
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

Lots of information here. Written by a guy that knows it well:

https://www.facebook.com/cubalandand...nf&pnref=story
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Old 09-01-2018, 13:02   #5
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

Bringing back an old thread. I am hoping to sail to Cuba next month, legally. I've read up on the required forms, etc. I understand that the person-to-person exception is no longer in effect as of November; just curious if anyone has been across since and what advice you have? I will be writing with the possibility of someday publishing a book but am not a professional journalist, would love to do something humanitarian, speak fluent Spanish, but am not sure what process I need to go through to sail there on the up-and-up.

Our tentative plan is to sail Key West to Havana then east along the north coast for two weeks (longer if possible?) then up to the Bahamas and back to Florida. A dream would be west around, down to the Caymans and Jamaica, then back up through the Bahamas but the multiple countries, relatively limited timeframe (~2 months), and leaving and re-entering Cuba has me concerned about that itinerary.

Thoughts?

Thanks all!
Phil
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Old 09-01-2018, 14:12   #6
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmagistro View Post
Bringing back an old thread. I am hoping to sail to Cuba next month, legally. I've read up on the required forms, etc. I understand that the person-to-person exception is no longer in effect as of November; just curious if anyone has been across since and what advice you have? I will be writing with the possibility of someday publishing a book but am not a professional journalist, would love to do something humanitarian, speak fluent Spanish, but am not sure what process I need to go through to sail there on the up-and-up.

Our tentative plan is to sail Key West to Havana then east along the north coast for two weeks (longer if possible?) then up to the Bahamas and back to Florida. A dream would be west around, down to the Caymans and Jamaica, then back up through the Bahamas but the multiple countries, relatively limited timeframe (~2 months), and leaving and re-entering Cuba has me concerned about that itinerary.

Thoughts?

Thanks all!
Phil


We went there last year from Key West. Great trip. We met us citizens on us flagged vessels who had been there for years , coming and going. Their approach was just to return through a different country. Not a big deal though as from Havana you ride the stream up to Bimini , clear in there, then hop to fla.

Some things to keep in mind.

Insurance is crazy expensive and restrictive. I went naked.

Marine infrastructure is limited. If you breakdown or need parts you may have issues. (See cc comment below) Heard of people flying back to fla just to get parts.

You have to marina hop (at least on the north shore) it’s not like the Bahamas where you can anchor where you want. And marinas are not dirt cheap like it was a few years ago.

The coast guard is watching—we heard a c130 hail a boat returning to kw from Havana and ask it to identify itself. My guess is that his dink was obscuring his name-he had the proper papers...

Cash economy, us credit cards are no good... not sure about Canadian or euro cards

People are great, as are the cigars and rum.


None of this is an endorsement to do anything illegal..,.,,
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:59   #7
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

We had anticipated sailing to Cuba this year but when we asked our insurance company (Topsail) to include Cuba as covered destination, they refused.
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Old 02-03-2018, 13:46   #8
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

In case you want to read other threads about this, I just entered "US citizen cruising to Cuba" in a CF Custom Google Search (under the "search" button), and came up with a number of threads all on the subject, 10 on the first page.

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Old 02-03-2018, 20:15   #9
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

How did Cuba make out with the hurricanes a few months ago? Are their facilities up to snuff?
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Old 02-03-2018, 20:54   #10
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

You might like to check out "Cruising Guide to Cuba", by Frank Virgintino, at We make cruising the Caribbean possible! | Free Cruising Guides. Other Caribbean destinations also!
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Old 02-03-2018, 21:23   #11
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

If you're still interested in going, we just passed through there a few weeks ago as a US flagged vessel. FL >> Cuba >> Mex. True the person to person exception is no longer valid, but you can still get one of the other ones. We filed under 'support for the cuban people' and brought a bunch of donations with us, as well as volunteered at some rural farms outside havana, stayed at "private" casa particulares, etc. The 3300 wasn't hard to get and there was no interview. I submitted the form and petty officer wilson called me back asking me to confirm a few items and was pleasant to speak with. Getting the zarpe from customs in Key West, I was "lightly interrogated" by the officials about why we were going there. They still stamped the paperwork though.

Marina Hemingway was empty, and the local word was that American's were really not showing up this year due to the tone of the new administration. As of yet, it seems more rhetorical than anything. You can and should still visit if inclined.

I will say that we left the country more confused than when we got there. It's such a unique and idiosyncratic place. Good, bad, ugly. Make up your own mind. But we're glad we took the time to go see it firsthand.

We stayed at hemingway for a little over a week and then cruised the NW coast onto mexico. We had really wanted to visit some of the fishing villages and little towns along the route, but were always turned away by the guarda frontera. The worry is that you may smuggle cubans out of the country on your boat. Land-based travel is much easier, so just leave your boat behind at the marina if you really want to see the country.

We were however able to meet many local fishermen along the route and had no trouble anchoring anywhere save the areas surrounding settlements on the mainland. You have to check in with the local guarda if there is a station near where you are anchoring. Usually not at painful process.

The Cuba Land and Sea FB page has some great info. The moderator, Addison Chan, wrote up a good take on the new regulations (July? 2017).

It's still dirt cheap there by most standards. The prices at the marina had recently gone up to $.70/ft/night, but all other expenses are very very minimal. You can find fresh produce at the farm markets springing up in many places, and there are some limited stock of other goods in stores that cater to tourists. Don't expect to find anything besides some basic foodstuffs and just generally try to remember that you're not visiting Cuba for the food (though some restaurants and casas may surprise you).

We did not find the Cuban officials particularly friendly, or at all accommodating to our somewhat limited spanish, but they were all courteous and no "tips" were given. The cuban people were by and large great, as people most everywhere tend to be.

Cuba is a very safe country for travelers. My suggestion is to go see it for yourself and make up your own mind about the state of affairs there. It's worth the visit. We plan on going back and doing the south coast in the future.
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Old 08-07-2018, 09:41   #12
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Re: Cruising to Cuba as a US citizen

I hope to cruise to Cuba from jamaica with Rubicon 3, a commercial adventure sailing group. I assume I can get a tourist card for entry (US passport) but am wondering about leaving by plane. Would a flight to Mexico, and then to US be the best plan?
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