USA Opens Up Boat Travel to Cuba

Hotels like the Habana Libre can expect greater occupancy with the licensing of ferry services from Florida to Havana.
Hotels like the Habana Libre, the old Havana Hilton, can expect greater occupancy with the licensing of ferry services from Florida to Havana.

HAVANA TIMES – Several Florida based companies will be racing to be the first Ferry line to travel to Havana after the US Treasury Dept. approved such trips on Tuesday.  The first trips could come in a matter of weeks, notes the Sun Sentinel.

Industry experts say travel by boat will be less expensive that flights and also provide the passenger with the ability to bring greater baggage weight.

The day or overnight trips are expected to cost between US $300 and $350, at least 25% less than the current charter flights.

Some travel limitations still exist for the four companies initially approved to provide the service and others expected to apply.

“The passenger ferries will be able to carry only authorized U.S. travelers to Cuba, including people in 12 categories who no longer need a license in advance to visit. Those categories include family visits as well as religious and educational activities, among others,” noted the Sun Sentinel.

Meanwhile, US citizens are still forbidden to travel to Cuba for exclusively tourism purposes; for that to change a portion of the half century embargo would have to be lifted by the US Congress.

According to the Sentinel, Ferry service can be expected from Miami, Key West and Fort Lauderdale and possibly from Tampa, Port Canaveral and Jacksonville.

The following are the new regulations issued Tuesday by the US Treasury Department:



Which individuals may be transported between the United States and Cuba by a person that qualifies for the general license to provide carrier services via aircraft or that has received a specific license to provide carrier services via commercial passenger vessel?

  • Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who are traveling to/from Cuba pursuant to a general license under one of the 12 categories of travel listed in section 515.560 of the CACR or under a specific license from OFAC may be transported via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel between the United States and Cuba.
  • Cuban nationals applying for admission to the United States, as well as third-country nationals, with a valid visa or other travel authorization issued by the U.S. government may be transported via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel to the United States from Cuba; Cuban nationals present in the United States in a non-immigrant status or pursuant to other non-immigrant travel authorization issued by the U.S. government may be transported via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel from the United States to Cuba. Cuban nationals who have taken up residence in the United States and are licensed as unblocked nationals pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 515.505(a)(1) are persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction and may be transported to Cuba if they meet the criteria set out in the first bullet above.
  • An individual, including a foreign national, who is traveling on official business of the U.S. government, a foreign government, or an intergovernmental organization of which the United States is a member or in which the United States holds observer status – including an employee, contractor, or grantee of such government or intergovernmental organization and any individual traveling on a diplomatic passport – as well as any close relative accompanying the traveler may be transported via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel between the United States and Cuba.

Section 515.572 of the CACR authorizes persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to provide carrier services by aircraft to, from, or within Cuba, in connection with travel authorized pursuant to the CACR. This authorization does not apply to carrier services by commercial passenger vessel, which would require a specific license from OFAC. Additionally, separate authorization from Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is required for the temporary sojourn to Cuba of both aircraft and vessels. Persons engaging in these activities may require additional authorizations by other U.S. government agencies. Persons subject to U.S.

jurisdiction providing travel or carrier services pursuant to an OFAC general or specific license shall be required to retain for at least five years from the date of the transaction a certification from each customer indicating the section of the CACR, or the specific license, that authorizes the person to travel to Cuba.

What type of cargo may a person authorized to provide carrier services via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel transport from the United States to Cuba?

Section 515.533 of the CACR authorizes all transactions ordinarily incident to the export to Cuba of items licensed or otherwise authorized by BIS. Accordingly, a person providing carrier services for authorized travelers going from the United States to Cuba may transport cargo and baggage accompanying an authorized traveler provided that the export of the cargo and baggage is authorized by BIS. Additionally, a person providing carrier services for authorized travelers going from the United States to Cuba may transport other cargo or unaccompanied baggage whose export to Cuba is licensed or otherwise authorized by BIS. See § 515.533.

The exportation of information and informational materials, as defined in section 515.332 of the

CACR, to Cuba from the United States is exempt from the prohibitions of the CACR.

What type of cargo may a person authorized to provide carrier services via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel transport directly from Cuba to the United States?

Under the CACR, an authorized traveler departing Cuba for the United States may carry as accompanied baggage:

  • For persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, up to $400 of merchandise acquired in Cuba for personal use, of which up to $100 may be alcohol or tobacco products.
  • For foreign nationals, any Cuban-origin goods other than alcohol or tobacco products, provided that such goods are not in commercial quantities and are not imported for resale, as authorized by 31 CFR § 515.569, and up to $100 in alcohol/tobacco products acquired in Cuba for personal use (see note to 31 C.F.R. § 515.569).
  • All travelers may carry goods produced by Cuban entrepreneurs as authorized by 31

CFR § 515.582 and the State Department’s 515.582 List (available at

  • For a traveler who left the United States for Cuba and is now returning to the United States, any items the traveler temporarily exported to Cuba pursuant to a BIS license or other authorization.

Additionally, persons authorized to provide carrier services via aircraft or commercial passenger vessel may transport from Cuba to the United States cargo, other than accompanied baggage, the importation of which has been authorized by general or specific license, as well as by any other relevant U.S. Government agency.

The importation of Cuban-origin information and informational materials, as defined in section

515.332 of the CACR, is exempt from the prohibitions in the CACR.

32 thoughts on “USA Opens Up Boat Travel to Cuba

  • They are in business to make money Adegbuyi – all you do is book through a travel agent.

  • okay you mean any of the cruise company can make me feel the great funs……

  • I, not being American Adegbuyi, cannot fully answer your question. But I think that any of the cruise companies would be glad to take your money.

  • can someone from African countries enjoy the boat from Cuba to USA…..what is take to do that

  • As an Australian…visiting USA… Can I use the ferry ?

  • With your vast experience as a bus driver, you could be the puppet president of Venezuela!

  • If you don’t like “apologist”, which is a rather mild description of your position, then I will borrow from Moses the term “Castro bootlicker”. If the jack boot fits…

    Far from being an apologist for “Americancentriticity, I’m not even American. I’m Canadian and that is my point of reference. I believe Cubans want to have normal rights and freedoms within a sovereign and democratic Cuba.

    I have read many books on Cuba, including Hugh Thomas’s excellent history. If you are unfamiliar with that book, it’s a detailed history of Cuba beginning with the English occupation of Havana, right up to the Special Period. Thomas is quite even handed, although he is far too kind on Castro for my tastes. The long section on the Cuban Republic era is excellent in providing context to the origins of the Cuban Revolution.

    When you use the cliched phrase, “perpetually raped by American tourists” you demonstrate your ignorance of Cuban history. It’s a lot more complex than your trite summary.

    Obama hasn’t shown the slightest awareness of the desires of the Cuban people. He wants to lift the embargo to cement his legacy as the most progressive of US residents. Perhaps he actually believes that by engaging with the Castros and opening Cuba up to US business, the Castro regime will change and become a free & democratic system. If so, he is contradicted by the histories of China, Vietnam & Burma which remain militaristic dictatorships even as they do business with US corporations. Raul Castro certainly does not see any threat to his regime, as he has been quick to grab at Obama’s offer, while conceding nothing to the Cuban people who want freedom and respect for human rights.

    Is that the future you want to see in Cuba? I certainly don’t and I’m pretty sure the vast majority of Cubans do not. The only people who do look forward to that future are the ruling clique of the Castro regime and the growing number of US businesses who hope to make a profit in Cuba.

    That’s the bitter irony you are blind to.

  • I would like to bring my tour bus and vast experience to Cuba and see the country.
    I wonder if I could make it to the boat and if I would be welcome . When I first prayed to this sollution it was hard to imagine a pathway but by God anything is possible .I can not complain with the recent miracle that has been seen in Cuba.

  • Griffin……spare me the ‘Castro apologist’ bull. You are the apologist for Americancentricity, thinking that all the world wants what the Americans have. Overlooking the fact that the US has as much poverty, a poorer health care system and spends the majority of their money on a huge war machine, so they can choke off little countries like Cuba, when they decide they would prefer to manage their own destiny. Read the history of Cuba, prior to Castro. See the beautiful culture that was being perpetually raped by wealthy American tourists. ‘America’s little whore house’!! You likely think that is a compliment to the Cuban people.

    Cuban culture can be found only in it’s purest form, in Cuba. That is the point. The bastardization of Amer-Cuban culture is not ‘Cuban culture’. That Obama wants to end the embargo is not surprising. he understands the Cuban people more than any other President has even tried to. What your narrow mind assumes, is that the Cubans are breathlessly waiting for the invasion of American tourists. Not so. Better read up on just what Raul Castro said to Obama. He is not letting Obama dictate the terms, unilaterally.

  • Dan refer to your questions on the article about the beach at Bacuranao – get my response!

  • After re-reading my post I see I was not clear and my thoughts were not properly conveyed. I mean to say that Miami is rich in authentic Cuban culture, tradition and cuisine, much of which was destroyed by the Cuban revolution. This is not a political statement just a statement of fact. Many biographers of the Cuban revolution have said as much.

    …I actually don’t necessarily disagree with your observations about Florida. Let us hope that the ecological challenge facing us are not as catastrophic or severe as predicted.

  • The ferries and the charter flights from Miami, Tampa and New York are limited to Cuban-Americans, or for those few who are travelling with a “licensed group.” For the rest of us, we still have to go through a “gateway,” like Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas. Incidentally, the licensed groups are, for the most part, a huge rip off. In the New York TIMES recently there were ads for 7-day and 14-day tours for $7,000 and $9,000, respectively! Fine if you want your hand held, haven’t bothered to learn the language, and want everything programmed (in other words, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST), but terrible if you really want to experience Cuba unfiltered and unfettered. During my last trip, I spent only $2,000 for two months, and had a great time, too, travelling from one end of the island to the other, attending all sorts of cultural events (plays, concerts), visiting museums and art galleries, vegging out at beaches, staying at a combo of casa particulares (legal and illegal), *** and ** hoteles, eating at CUC and CUP state restaurants, paladares, and consuming lots of street food.

  • Miami may have a Cuban-American majority now, but the majority of Cubans don’t live in So.Fla. or West New York, they still live in Cuba!
    “…there is an abundance [in Miami] unavailable in other parts of the U.S. or the world.” LOL! Depends on your class and race. Florida is the…”land of the minimum wage,” a so-called “right to work” state, where there is no redress to the tyranny of the employer, and the only right labor has is the right to be exploited, and with a vengeance unknown in more enlightened areas of the States. Florida may have a “growth economy,” but for the most part such growth is limited to low-paid service jobs in the tourist industry. Finally, Florida is an ecological disaster zone. I left there in the 1960’s and never looked back; the last of my siblings escaped more recently (1990’s and early 2000’s), just ahead of the coming ecological disasters.

  • You are fooling yourself if you think that the Castro family regime will change any of its policies as a consequence of the embargo being lifted. I am not an American, but it appears to me extremely doubtful that the embargo will be lifted during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. Doing so requires the approval of 60% of the Congress. The embargo has been used as a political 2″ x 4″ to explain to Cubans the numerous failures of the regime. Without it the Castro family regime would be held responsible for the shortages and outrageous prices in the military controlled shops – TRD, Cimex, Pan Americana etc.

  • I don’t disagree.

  • Cuban culture in Miami is the most authentic for the simple reason that a majority of Cubans live there. It’s vibrant, thriving and successful. There is an abundance unavailable in other part of the US or the world. Its a simple statement with no agenda, a simple truism

  • Well Analyser [sic] Cuban culture and Cuban cuisine for one has been preserved in Miami. Something that was destroyed in Cuba. Today if you wish to experience Cuban cooking you are likely to find it in Cuba….not to mention quality

    Y tu senor no tienes cultura

  • Ken, Cubans have been back and fort to Cuba for. Long long time. Travel between Miami Cubans and Cuba is common place. Trust me when I say that when theres no grass at all, any grass is welcome!

    Besides what charm are you referring to? Is it the lack of infrastructure, lack of communication, limited food. What charm do you mean?

  • Jazz, baseball, boxing. …to name just a few Cuban cultural staples which were learned from their northern neighbor. Reggaeton is the combination of Hip hop and reggae. Take a guess where the Hip hop came from? I wouldn’t dare claim it will all be good what Cubans adopt after closer contact with Americans but it won’t be all bad either.

  • I submit you will find even greater crass materialism among Russians and Chinese who visit the US or Canada.

    There must be something about living in a communist utopia that turns people into tasteless materialists.

  • Cuban’s don’t worship tourist nor should they. They look at them as a means to get out of Cuba, like the typical smart and educated 25 year old Cuban marrying the 60 year old fart tourist or they treat them as ATM machines thinking that every tourist is a millionaire.

    I’m guessing what Ken is trying to say is that Cuba will look nothing like it does now once the U.S. invades it with fast food joints, American hotel chains and commercializes it to death. All the Cuban people living in real-estate of any value will be bought out of their homes so the wealthy can turn it back into their playground and the Cuban government can collect millions in inflated property taxes that the current owners could not give them.
    Beach front homes and homes along the Malecon will be owned solely by the super wealthy and once again the U.S. will own Cuba. Let’s not forget all the Cuban’s that can’t wait to run back to Cuba from Miami to “claim” their homes and business that they lost back in exodus.
    As for the “same attention” I hate to break it to you but the average resort worker in Cuba would get fired in any other country because the lack of service. Agreed their are some that are outstanding but for the most part they have no clue what the Americans will expect for service, the kind of service they are use to at other resorts around the world. The food quality is sub-par, the resorts are sub-par and the fact the CUC has no value outside of Cuba doesn’t help either.
    The resort workers will no longer be able to stand behind the check-in desk and tell each other how stupid the tourist right in front of them is because many American’s speak Spanish fluently. The Americans will not put up with missing toilet seats, no soap in the washrooms, no paper towels, no toilet paper, power outages, crap food and poor management. I hate tell you but a 5 star in Cuba is at best a 3 star anywhere else in the world.
    So be careful of what you wish for because hard capitalism makes 1% of the population the elite wealthy and everyone else struggles to keep their head above water and politicians in every country in the world are bought and sold by the rich and big business.
    Outsiders of Cuba look at Cuba as the only country that has been able to stay out of the control by the rich Americans and Big Business. Losing that control will be the true loss.

  • Ken,

    Why is it that people like you are afraid of what American Culture will do to Cuba. What about the culture of China, Russia, Canada (over a million Canadians visited Cuba last year), UK,Spain Japan and all the other countries that are visiting and investing in Cuba. I don’t know who you are, or where you come from and quite honestly don’t give a damn.

    it seems to me from what I am reading that now that there is the probability of the embargo being lifted all these other countries are becoming more aggressive in doing business in Cuba. Who better to serve the wants and needs of a country that is only 90 miles off their coast?

    However, I do agree to a point about exploiting Cuba, not only from the U.S. but all countries.

  • Since when did the US have any culture.
    Move on and keep taking the tablets.
    Once the Yanks start saturating Cuba it will only be a matter of time before it reverts back to Batista mentality.

  • Cubans will tell you that the best authentic Cuban restaurants on the planet are in Miami. The materialism that you see in Miami Cubans, especially the most recent emigres, is a function of being Cuban. You see the same traits in Cubans who live in Toronto, Tokyo and Barcelona. As disposable income for Cuban nationals increases in Havana, you will likely see more materialism in these Cubans as well. That’s just how Cubans roll. You can’t blame Cuban bling on the US.

  • You Castro apologists are more than a little bit ridiculous.
    For years you demanded an end to the US embargo and blamed every problem in Cuba on the US embargo and interference.

    So finally, President Obama decides it’s time to end the embargo. You think you would be happy? No. Now you complain about the looming US invasion of tourists which will destroy Cuba’s “charm”.

    Have you gone back to demanding the embargo be restored, so you can continue to enjoy charming Cuba, untainted by Americans, or democracy or human rights?

  • I don’t claim that the US will “fix” anything. I do hope that as US tourism increases, Cubans will be more like Jamaicans with regards to their perspective of yumas. , Today, even the pastiest, geekiest, Bermuda shorts with dress shoes – wearing tourist reigns in Varadero. I hope Cubans come to realize that the only reason these nerds come to Cuba is because if they went to Cancun, they would be seen as even bigger social misfits.

  • The US has plenty of that in their own country…..poor and backward. Tell me how the American tourist is going to fix it for Cuba!!

  • Cuban culture in Miami or elsewhere in the US is not the same as Cuban culture in other countries. US exceptionalism and materialism are much more prevalent among Cuban Americans. I know this from experience. I think this is why Ken and others are afraid of what American influence will do to Cuba. It is a double-edged sword for sure. They will get much needed investment and access to trade, but in turn they will get neo-liberal monetary policies shoved down their throats.

  • How true.

  • Charm? That’s a euphemism for poor and backward. Cuban “culture” is alive and well in Miami and last I checked that’s still the US. Whenever I hear folks say that about Cuba I take it to mean Cubans will cease to worship second-rate foreigners who can’t travel anywhere else to get the same attention.

  • This is the beginning of the end of Cuba’s charm. The Cuban people are likely looking forward to this, but will likely end up regretting opening their borders to American culture. The grass isn’t greener.

  • The train is now in high gear and it’s just a question as to the timing when the embargo is lifted. I predict before the end of the year but a mute point as all the pieces are coming together for a very interesting time for Cuba and the USA.

Comments are closed.