by Nancy Bestor
Bob and I saw the Buena Vista Social Club last week, and while listening to their fantastic Cuban rhythms, I got to thinking about what a bad dancer I am, and that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to make my hips sway. Then a light bulb went off—dance lessons! What a great excuse for a trip to Cuba! And today, JetBlue flew the first commercial flight in over 50 years between the United States and Cuba. The plane took off from Fort Lauderdale and landed in Santa Clara, a journey of just one hour and four minutes.
I’m pretty sure this is a sign that Bob and I should buy some dancing shoes and book a flight to Havana. Here are the details on the travel restrictions.
Travelers need a valid passport and visa to travel from the United States to Cuba. The visa can be obtained through the Cuban Embassy, although it sounds like it is not the easiest process, and it can take a long while.
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba
2630 16th street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 797-8518 – Ext. 600
Travel to Cuba must fall into one of 12 authorized categories. This includes workshops (dance classes!), visits to family, religious activities and humanitarian projects, to name a few. Americans are no longer required to apply for a license for such travel. Instead, it is now on the honor system. When purchasing your airline ticket, simply check the box of the type of authorized travel you will be doing in Cuba. You must keep receipts for five years after your trip.
The Cuban government requires all visitors to have health insurance that covers the territory of Cuba. For Americans, this means local Cuban health insurance. JetBlue’s fares include a $25 surcharge for Cuban health insurance (provided by Asistur).
There is more fine print, including what you can and can’t bring into Cuba, but JetBlue does a great job of clearly answering most questions here, something that was not easy to find many other places on the Internet.
Although there are a few hoops that must be jumped through, I’m totally up for the challenge. Especially when I imagine what my moves will look like after a few days of Cuban dance lessons.