By Philip Levine
The good news is that last year new laws regarding US travel to Cuba went into effect. It is still 100% legal for Americans to travel to Cuba under the new guidelines.
Americans can visit Cuba on tours with family or friends if they are arranged by a U.S. based tour operator—which describes my company 1WorldArtTravel. I will accompany you, lodge with you, help arrange air travel, coordinate travel visas, obtain the general class license we need, and create the itineraries required by the Treasury Department.
Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba under the conditions of 11 different categories that reflect the activities travelers will engage in while in Cuba. The category my company selects is “Support for the Cuban People.” I have a custom-designed group tour for New Yorkers ready to go in January 2021. A private university-trained expert on Cuba will accompany us every day. We will be lodging at the Hotel Capri, just two blocks from the ocean and with breakfast feasts unlike anything you’ve experienced anywhere. There are comfortable and spacious rooms and a gym on the top floor overlooking the city of Old Havana.
We will have our dinners at paladares, which are private family-owned restaurants located in gorgeous palatial-like settings.
Not too long ago, Havana was one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can still see that beauty shining through the faded European style architecture. And you can see and ride in one of the many cars dating back to the 50’s, all beautifully maintained. So yes, you can take a ride in a ‘57 Chevy or the car of your choice!
As your neighbor on Bank Street, my company, 1WorldArtTravel, has been operating tours for over 25 years. I’ve brought hundreds of Americans to Cuba every year since 2013, including members of the Art Students League of New York, the National Association of Women Artists, and others. Tour highlights include the following: visits and talks at studios of famous artists in a country where artists are allowed free expression; museum exhibits (both contemporary and traditional); private tours of universities and special landmarks of cultural and historic significance; meetings with ceramic artists and tobacco manufacturers (where you get to see the full process of creating the finest cigars in the world). There is no limit to how many cigars (or how much rum) you can bring home.
We will also visit: Las Terrazas, an eco-community declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations; Organoponico Vivero Alamar, a huge organic farm within the city limits of Havana; Cojimar, the fishing village that inspired Hemingway to write The Old Man and the Sea; Fusterlandia, the creation of painter and ceramic artist Jose Rodriquez Fuster (considered the Picasso of the Caribbean) who turned his whole neighborhood into a unique work of public art where he decorated over 80 houses with contemporary imaginative murals and domes to suit the personalities of his neighbors (reminiscent of the work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi).
For me, the special highlights of the tour have always been the many Cuban artists, musicians, and ordinary folk I’ve been fortunate to meet and get to know. The people of Cuba are warm, exude joy, and truly love having Americans visit their island.