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Netopr

Support for the Cuban people, be prepared

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so im taking a cruise today and i just finished the boarding process. I had the section 4 with “Support for the Cuban people” category selected and RCI gave a big hard time with it. At first they said that i needed prior approval to go under this license, then later after many back and forth words they let me go with it, after about 20 minutes. I had to let them know that i have a full itinerary with things to do to support this category and they still tried to force me to take people to people category. My recomendation is for you to have a full itinerary to support the cuban people and be prepared to show proof just jn case. You dont need prior approval to travel under this license, you just need to document all your activities as much as possible, keep receipts and be ready to provide proof if OFAC audits you within 5 years of your trip. From all the people goong through check in, we where the only ones battling with RCI to go with this license.

 

Be prepared to be stressed and be strong, they cannot hold you on it!!!

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Following advice on here we left the selections blank and checked the box they told us too.

We could not be bothered to argue the point with them.

We had assumed box 4, they told us to check box 2.

Box checked and on we went.

Did we keep a copy? Hell no.

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The pier check-in agents for Royal seem to give everyone a hard time. You could have filled it out again and saved some aggravation. I have completed 2 different sets-if they give me grief, I'll hand them the one that's completed the way the agent wants, I really don't care and no one will check when I get home.

 

I've got 2 tours booked that aren't ship tours. Then I'll do what I want. I wish they'd take some reading comprehension courses and/or be consistent. It'll never happen.

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I had originally filled out my forms, checking #4 as NETOPR did. I have seen a couple of posts saying RC isn't allowing you to fill out the form this way any more if you have booked a private tour in Havana, that you must check #2. So I printed out and filled out another set of forms. On one form, I have checked #2, and on the 2nd form, I have left the "reason" blank, to be completed at check-in if things change again. Perhaps ICE felt too many people had just switched from "people to people" which is no longer allowed to "In Support of the Cuban People".

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I had originally filled out my forms, checking #4 as NETOPR did. I have seen a couple of posts saying RC isn't allowing you to fill out the form this way any more if you have booked a private tour in Havana, that you must check #2. So I printed out and filled out another set of forms. On one form, I have checked #2, and on the 2nd form, I have left the "reason" blank, to be completed at check-in if things change again. Perhaps ICE felt too many people had just switched from "people to people" which is no longer allowed to "In Support of the Cuban People".

 

ICE is not involved. The form is from the Treasury Department, and they are not currently looking at them. The cruise line is doing this. Their motivations are 1) making sure that they don't get in trouble and lose their ability to take passengers to Cuba and, more importantly, 2) steering people to their own overpriced excursions.

 

People to People is still allowed, it is the "self-guided" people to people option that is no longer involved.

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so im taking a cruise today and i just finished the boarding process. I had the section 4 with “Support for the Cuban people” category selected and RCI gave a big hard time with it. At first they said that i needed prior approval to go under this license, then later after many back and forth words they let me go with it, after about 20 minutes. I had to let them know that i have a full itinerary with things to do to support this category and they still tried to force me to take people to people category. My recomendation is for you to have a full itinerary to support the cuban people and be prepared to show proof just jn case. You dont need prior approval to travel under this license, you just need to document all your activities as much as possible, keep receipts and be ready to provide proof if OFAC audits you within 5 years of your trip. From all the people goong through check in, we where the only ones battling with RCI to go with this license.

 

Be prepared to be stressed and be strong, they cannot hold you on it!!!

Carnival does this too. It doesn't matter; just switch to P2P on the travel affidavit, get your visa, and don't sweat it. Do make a note in your records. (We went with no tours or itineraries booked and were fine.)

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Carnival does this too. It doesn't matter; just switch to P2P on the travel affidavit, get your visa, and don't sweat it. Do make a note in your records. (We went with no tours or itineraries booked and were fine.)

 

The problem with that is that if you get audited by the us government within 5 years of your visit to Cuba, you have to proove that you took a tour with a US sponsored organization if you chose this category and you either had to arrange this tour before your trip or get an 8 hour tour/day with the cruise ship and thats about $200 per person per day, even children.

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We just came back from the cruise and we had an amazing time, specially in Cuba, its so different than anything else. We took a tour operated by a cuban young woman (Duramis) and she spoke english very well. She knew about the “Support for the Cuban People” category and she designed our two day tour to meet this category. If anyone wants her information (email) send me a message. Just by taking her tour, we are supporting the cuban people and not the state.

 

We visited fusterlandia, 2 private paladares for lunch (1 ea day), old havana, the cuban Christ, el morro, house of cuban people, the capitol, revolucion plaza and a tabaco factory. All in old vehicles from the 50’s that had Air Conditioning.

 

Dont let RCI scare you that you cant use the support for the cuban people category, that is illegal, by law you can go with this category with no pre approval. We didnt have to provide an itinerary anywhere.

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The problem with that is that if you get audited by the us government within 5 years of your visit to Cuba, you have to proove that you took a tour with a US sponsored organization if you chose this category and you either had to arrange this tour before your trip or get an 8 hour tour/day with the cruise ship and thats about $200 per person per day, even children.

That's why (if a cruiseline forces you to change your travel category from SFTCP to P2P before they provided a visa) one should make a note of it in their travel records. (And btw, if one does choose to travel under the P2P category, there is NO specific hour requirement; that is a myth.)

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<<If anyone wants her information (email) send me a message.>>

I'm not sure how to message you. Would you please message me with hr email?

Thanks-chris

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<<If anyone wants her information (email) send me a message.>>

I'm not sure how to message you. Would you please message me with hr email?

Thanks-chris

 

I am not sure how to send messages either and i dont think i can advertise her email. I guess you can email me and i can get you the info. jimenezcandelario@live.com is my email.

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I was just on the Norwegian Sky to Havana and did a private tour in “support of the Cuban people.” I filled out the form with this option on-line and there was no mention of it AT ALL upon check in or in port.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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So glad to be hearing these responses! We are getting ready to head out on the Empress mid August and I really prefer to take off ship tours! Thanks for all the info!!!

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So glad to be hearing these responses! We are getting ready to head out on the Empress mid August and I really prefer to take off ship tours! Thanks for all the info!!!

 

 

 

Reply to this forum after your cruise & let us know what happened when you checked in and used the “support for the Cuban people check box”

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so im taking a cruise today and i just finished the boarding process. I had the section 4 with “Support for the Cuban people” category selected and RCI gave a big hard time with it. At first they said that i needed prior approval to go under this license, then later after many back and forth words they let me go with it, after about 20 minutes. I had to let them know that i have a full itinerary with things to do to support this category and they still tried to force me to take people to people category. My recomendation is for you to have a full itinerary to support the cuban people and be prepared to show proof just jn case. You dont need prior approval to travel under this license, you just need to document all your activities as much as possible, keep receipts and be ready to provide proof if OFAC audits you within 5 years of your trip. From all the people goong through check in, we where the only ones battling with RCI to go with this license.

 

Be prepared to be stressed and be strong, they cannot hold you on it!!!

 

 

 

We ran into the same thing. RCL refused to let us check SFTCP for our independent tour. We produced printed documentation, but since there was the word “tour” in the email, they insisted that we check box 2 (US sponsored non-cruise tour). We went back and forth for several minutes (including talking with a manager) about this and ultimately checked both boxes on the form before they would hand us our visas. To make matters worse, they stated that they would white out our check mark for Box 4, but not until later — so we have no way of confirming what their copy of the form now says.

 

I know that the likelihood of getting audited is quite low, but it bothers me that we were essentially asked to falsify documents and they admitted that they would alter our signed and completed documents without our oversight.

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We just came back from the cruise and we had an amazing time, specially in Cuba, its so different than anything else. We took a tour operated by a cuban young woman (Duramis) and she spoke english very well. She knew about the “Support for the Cuban People” category and she designed our two day tour to meet this category. If anyone wants her information (email) send me a message. Just by taking her tour, we are supporting the cuban people and not the state.

 

We visited fusterlandia, 2 private paladares for lunch (1 ea day), old havana, the cuban Christ, el morro, house of cuban people, the capitol, revolucion plaza and a tabaco factory. All in old vehicles from the 50’s that had Air Conditioning.

 

Dont let RCI scare you that you cant use the support for the cuban people category, that is illegal, by law you can go with this category with no pre approval. We didnt have to provide an itinerary anywhere.

Thank so much for this info..we are so confused-we booked a private walking tour to go off the ship in the morning on the second day but it is only for three hours. so you think we will have a problem. Why would we book an overnight if we can't even get off the ship.. RCI does not offer any shore excursions on the second day.

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We are taking the overnight trip to Havana on RCI. Royal does not offer any shore excursions on the second day, leaving by 1 PM on the second day. We want to go off the ship on the second day and booked a Walking tour for three hours. Do you think because it is only for 3 hours that we wont be able to get a visa for that day and will have to stay on the ship. We booked a tour on Day 1 and will apply for the $75 visa.. is that just for the one day ? Do we have to pay for another Visa for Day 2? HELP? RCI has not been able to answer any of these questions after so any emails getting ...

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You get a visa for your entire stay. This applies to air/ground travelers as well as cruise passengers (even with multiple port stops) from any country, with any passport.

This tourist card/visa is emitted by thee Cuban government. They expect that anyone holding a TOURIST CARD is going to be a tourist. In reality, the cruise line is serving as a middle-man for these visas, as a "convenience" to might be another option.passengers. IF it weren't so unwieldy (Staff has been reduced by order of the US government, and the staff wasn't too efficient beforehand anyway.) to get them through the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, that might be another option.

The cruise line is confusing Cuban government requirements with US OFAC requirements, to the advantage of the cruise line and their expensive excursions.

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We took a tour operated by a cuban young woman (Duramis) and she spoke english very well. She knew about the “Support for the Cuban People” category and she designed our two day tour to meet this category. Just by taking her tour, we are supporting the cuban people and not the state.

 

We visited fusterlandia, 2 private paladares for lunch (1 ea day), old havana, the cuban Christ, el morro, house of cuban people, the capitol, revolucion plaza and a tabaco factory. .

 

Places like El Morro, the Capital, and the cigar factory are property of the Cuban government. You could argue that going there with a private tour guide fulfills the Support for the Cuban People category, but still......not completely accurate IMO to state that the tour "meets this category"., especially when any entry fees go directly to the Cuban government. (Luckily, it is very unlikely to ever matter.)

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Places like El Morro, the Capital, and the cigar factory are property of the Cuban government. You could argue that going there with a private tour guide fulfills the Support for the Cuban People category, but still......not completely accurate IMO to state that the tour "meets this category"., especially when any entry fees go directly to the Cuban government. (Luckily, it is very unlikely to ever matter.)

 

Yes, you are correct and even the private restaurants owned by the cuban people buy food from the state so even if you want to do a 100% of the money to go to cuban people on your visit, it will be impossible. In my opinion, in case of an audit, proving box #4 and "support for the cuban" people activities will be easier than box #2 (people to people) and not taking a tour provided by a US sponsored company. Who knows, maybe the government will prevent travel to Havana soon and will start reviewing these visits.

Edited by Netopr

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We are taking the overnight trip to Havana on RCI. Royal does not offer any shore excursions on the second day, leaving by 1 PM on the second day. We want to go off the ship on the second day and booked a Walking tour for three hours. Do you think because it is only for 3 hours that we wont be able to get a visa for that day and will have to stay on the ship. We booked a tour on Day 1 and will apply for the $75 visa.. is that just for the one day ? Do we have to pay for another Visa for Day 2? HELP? RCI has not been able to answer any of these questions after so any emails getting ...

You dont have to pay for an additional visa for the second day, one visa is sufficient. You can also get your visa elsewhere, not necesarily with RCI. Its a pink piece of paper you fill on both sides with the same information, your first name, last name, passport number, birth date and your country. Cuba doesnt care what you do on the island, the US is the one that requires you to go under certain licenses and you dont need pre-approval from OFAC unless you require a special license.

Edited by Netopr

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You get a visa for your entire stay. This applies to air/ground travelers as well as cruise passengers (even with multiple port stops) from any country, with any passport.

This tourist card/visa is emitted by thee Cuban government. They expect that anyone holding a TOURIST CARD is going to be a tourist. In reality, the cruise line is serving as a middle-man for these visas, as a "convenience" to might be another option.passengers. IF it weren't so unwieldy (Staff has been reduced by order of the US government, and the staff wasn't too efficient beforehand anyway.) to get them through the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, that might be another option.

The cruise line is confusing Cuban government requirements with US OFAC requirements, to the advantage of the cruise line and their expensive excursions.

 

Exacly!!! I did my homework and told the RCI manager that what they where doing was illegal, according to OFAC we dont need prior approval to go under the "Support for the Cuban People Category" and I showed them the FAQ from OFAC. I even requested a written letter from the port manager stating that they where not going to let us board because we are selecting this license, they obviously did not wanted to give us the letter and eventually they let us go. The Cuban government doesn't care about these licenses, they think you are a tourist and thats it.

 

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf

 

7. Do travelers who fall within the scope of a general license need to submit a written requestto OFAC for permission to travel or conduct transactions?No. No further permission from OFAC is required to engage in transactions by a person whomeets all criteria in a general license. Individuals wishing to engage in activities that may fallwithin the scope of a general license should review the relevant general licenses contained in theCACR to determine whether their travel-related transactions are covered by such general licenses.Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who wish to engage in any travel within the 12 categories ofactivities specified in the CACR that does not meet the requirements of a general license willneed to apply for a specific license from OFAC.

Edited by Netopr

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Good for you for standing up for yourself.

 

A SPECIFIC license is usually the type an organization/tour agency (and probably a cruise line for their own sponsored excursions) applies for to OFAC by showing a 'full' itinerary of activities that conform to the People to People category.

 

A GENERAL license is one where the individual participant is attesting (simply saying, not proving or showing anything to any entity/person, or applying for prior approval of any kind) that his/her plans conform to the OFAC reason for travel s/he is choosing, saying s/he "meets all criteria in a general license", in most cases Support for the Cuban People.

The airline or cruise line is keeping a record of the reason you choose (to cover their own rear ends), ostensibly for the 5 years OFAC specifies records should be kept. As far as anyone knows, these have not been checked or verified by any U.S. government entity. No one should bully you into signing any document regarding reason for travel, though.

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I sent a email to NCL asking why they weren’t letting people select SFTCP & I received a phone call with the following message which I will play at check in if I am hassled.

 

“Generally we can only advise if you had purchased an excursion through us in which case you would put down option #1 however in your case since you have a 3rd party tour you can check with the vendor you purchased your tour through & they should be able to verify which option you would need to pick in order to be in compliance”

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".... you can check with the vendor you purchased your tour through & they should be able to verify which option you would need to pick in order to be in compliance”

 

Really? How would a Cuban know what is in compliance with the U.S. OFAC, if OFAC itself has never audited any individual's itinerary for compliance. The cruise line seems to be thinking you are purchasing a tour with another agency like themselves, whose SPECIFIC license itinerary has been looked at by OFAC.

I mean, yes, the Cuban guide can say he is Cuban, in business for himself, and you are paying for a tour , so thereby "supporting a Cuban person", but the idea of the Cuban guide certifying he is in compliance with US law, and knowing anything about US OFAC regs, is ludicrous.

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