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No more cruises to Cuba?

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1 hour ago, oceanbill457 said:

It is ironic that we treat Cuba a a pariah yet we encourage travel ( ie) cruises to Vietnam. I do recall over 58,000 Americans were killed  there.

 

What I don't recall is the bit where those 58,000 and their friends were invited over by the happy locals.

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17 minutes ago, Shawnino said:

 

 

So what's up with this? I think it's true (there's a similar posting about two operators on Az board getting shuttered) but is it linked to the new US travel restrictions (and if so, why would it be?) or is in coincidental? 

 

Private tour operators were being hassled when we were there early November.  Cops pulled over cars in our little caravan everyday.   Passengers were not hassled in any way but the driver/guide walked to the rear of the vehicle for what appeared to be a quick shakedown for cash.  

Our guide told us the government was “taking over” private tour companies in December.  

Several major private tour companies have recently suspended operations but this was in advance of the new US restrictions.   

 

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5 minutes ago, Shawnino said:

 

What I don't recall is the bit where those 58,000 and their friends were invited over by the happy locals.

 

5 minutes ago, Shawnino said:

 

What I don't recall is the bit where those 58,000 and their friends were invited over by the happy locals.

Yes, but a different time.  How many millions were killed  in Germany in the 1940's?   Can not compare. 

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3 minutes ago, sammiedawg said:

 

Private tour operators were being hassled when we were there early November.  Cops pulled over cars in our little caravan everyday.   Passengers were not hassled in any way but the driver/guide walked to the rear of the vehicle for what appeared to be a quick shakedown for cash.  

Our guide told us the government was “taking over” private tour companies in December.  

Several major private tour companies have recently suspended operations but this was in advance of the new US restrictions.   

 

 

Thanks.

Tough situation but internal drama (as opposed to anything coming out of State) makes sense.

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Shawnino said:

Speaking about Russia specifically (I've lived there, never in China nor Cuba), Putin's actually fairly popular.

How many people did you speak to that thought Putin was not popular or a "bad cat"? Probably not many because those people don't live very long - they seem to "jump" out of high story windows or mysteriously die in prisons or are poisoned one way or another. Then people tend to learn that lesson.People may think he is a bad cat but they wouldn't dare to say it - especially not to you as a foreigner. 

You may have lived in Russia (how long and when)? I was born and grew up in a communist country - that incidentally was much better off than Russia - and left at age 18. I surely don't need any lectures about Putin and his ilk.

As I recall Hitler was quite popular for a long time with the majority of Germans (until he wasn't) - we all saw pictures of those massive rallies of popularity. Not like they had a choice - we know what happened to those that didn't agree with him - he had a special place for them (Putin has those as well). They thought he was the savior of their country (until he wasn't).

PS - apologies to OP - this is way OT and I will return to the topic of Cuba now.

Edited by Paulchili

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Changing the theme although I won't continue this.  When we were driving from Belize to Tikal in 1996, we were warned that the police might detain us.  They didn't, but it was a frequent problem.  Sometimes a very serious problem!

 

We were very lucky since we had a private car (yes, a paid car) for the transfer.  Coming back, there was absolutely no problem at all.  (Going there the soldiers did come out to question us but we WERE at a border point and the driver said everything was fine.  Whether he forked over cash, I don't know.)

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Posted (edited)

 

 

50 minutes ago, Shawnino said:

 

“There's a lot to unpack here but the older I get the more I think the people get the government they deserve.” 

 

Oh really? How is that, if the Cuban people have no right to vote democratically? And are not allowed to have any firearms, so revolution is out of the question too. Same with Venezuela and China. You could say that the Russians do deserve their government, and we have no desire to return to Russia either.

 

Edited by JPR

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2 hours ago, JPR said:

I second RJB’s comment. We were in Cuba on Sirena last October. The poverty outside of (and even in parts of) Havana, and particularly in Santiago, is truly shocking. Our guide’s college class had 32 members; all but two have left the country because there is no future for them. (Our guide and his wife make good money from tourists, but they have been detained out of the blue for no reason on more than one occasion).

 

As a non-government Cuban, you get what you pay for with the vaunted “free Cuban healthcare”. The doctors are not really all that well trained and get paid almost nothing; worse yet, they are effectively sold like chattel to Venezuela and other nations in Cuba’s increasingly limited orbit, with their families in Cuba held hostage to deter defection. Bring your own sheets and light bulbs to the hospital, and get tests with antiquated obsolete equipment. 

 

There is a a thriving arts community but even they are under increasing oppression. There is no reason to treat Cuba any differently than North Korea.

And please no “Why not China and Russia too?” Those regimes have serious human rights issues too, but there is no comparison today.

The only comparison is Venezuela. We lived there for years during the Hugo Chavez regime. It is now a million times worse and it was really bad during Chavez. 

 

We spent many years living in the Caribbean and Europe. DH worked in Russia for a few years but we never lived there.  If you haven’t lived outside of the US or Canada it’s pretty hard to understand what is really happening beneath the surface in Cuba, Venezuela, etc. 

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38 minutes ago, Paulchili said:

How many people did you speak to that thought Putin was not popular or a "bad cat"? Probably not many because those people don't live very long - they seem to "jump" out of high story windows or mysteriously die in prisons or are poisoned one way or another. Then people tend to learn that lesson.People may think he is a bad cat but they wouldn't dare to say it - especially not to you as a foreigner. 

You may have lived in Russia (how long and when)? I was born and grew up in a communist country - that incidentally was much better off than Russia - and left at age 18. I surely don't need any lectures about Putin and his ilk.

As I recall Hitler was quite popular for a long time with the majority of Germans (until he wasn't) - we all saw pictures of those massive rallies of popularity. Not like they had a choice - we know what happened to those that didn't agree with him - he had a special place for them (Putin has those as well). They thought he was the savior of their country (until he wasn't).

PS - apologies to OP - this is way OT and I will return to the topic of Cuba now.

Paul, believe it or not but when we were in St Petersburg on our 2 day tour our guide didn't have anything nice to say about Putin. I was really surprised that he would publicly say negative things about him to us tourists. This was with the Alla tour company. He had been an engineer prior to becoming a tour guide as it paid more than being an engineer. 

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So would anyone here want to go to Venezuela today? The regime is murdering its citizens, with the protection of Cuban troops. 

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10 minutes ago, ORV said:

Paul, believe it or not but when we were in St Petersburg on our 2 day tour our guide didn't have anything nice to say about Putin. I was really surprised that he would publicly say negative things about him to us tourists. This was with the Alla tour company. He had been an engineer prior to becoming a tour guide as it paid more than being an engineer. 

A brave soul or a glutton for punishment? 

Is that a definition of a Russian roulette? 😀

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2 minutes ago, JPR said:

So would anyone here want to go to Venezuela today? The regime is murdering its citizens, with the protection of Cuban troops. 

Chavez’s body guards and doctors were Cuban. I assume the same is true for Maduro.  The mercenaries in Venezuela are Cuban. Chavez’s mentor was Fidel Castro. Close ties between the two countries for a long time.

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4 hours ago, ORV said:

Because they would be carrying US citizens? Don't know, just guessing. 

US Citizens is NOT the limited factor in the fairly new regulations.  It applies to cruise ships stopping or departing from a US port prior to arrival in Cuba no matter the nationality of the cruise ship or the passengers so Kate-AHF's idea would work however the ship could not stop at any US ports prior to Cuba and would be very difficult with embarkation and disembarkation at many of the smaller Caribbean Islands.  Barbados is one port that would work but, would require significant itinerary changes.

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2 hours ago, ORV said:

Paul, believe it or not but when we were in St Petersburg on our 2 day tour our guide didn't have anything nice to say about Putin. I was really surprised that he would publicly say negative things about him to us tourists. This was with the Alla tour company. He had been an engineer prior to becoming a tour guide as it paid more than being an engineer. 

It's not just Russia.  Some years ago (not that many but probably more than 5-6, less than 10) we had guides in Istanbul and Ephesus, both of whom were very vocal in their opposition to the current government.  When you are with private guides, they probably feel free to voice their opposition.  It may well be different with guides on a larger tour.

 

Mura

 

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13 hours ago, JPR said:

I second RJB’s comment. We were in Cuba on Sirena last October. The poverty outside of (and even in parts of) Havana, and particularly in Santiago, is truly shocking. Our guide’s college class had 32 members; all but two have left the country because there is no future for them. (Our guide and his wife make good money from tourists, but they have been detained out of the blue for no reason on more than one occasion).

 

As a non-government Cuban, you get what you pay for with the vaunted “free Cuban healthcare”. The doctors are not really all that well trained and get paid almost nothing; worse yet, they are effectively sold like chattel to Venezuela and other nations in Cuba’s increasingly limited orbit, with their families in Cuba held hostage to deter defection. Bring your own sheets and light bulbs to the hospital, and get tests with antiquated obsolete equipment. 

 

There is a a thriving arts community but even they are under increasing oppression. There is no reason to treat Cuba any differently than North Korea.

And please no “Why not China and Russia too?” Those regimes have serious human rights issues too, but there is no comparison today.

Hugging the Cuban leader and saying you admire him like the North Korean leader?   Cuba is not doing nuclear tests.   If they have rockets trained on us  like in the 60s I'm all for action.   Otherwise we are just hurting the people.

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11 hours ago, JPR said:

So would anyone here want to go to Venezuela today? The regime is murdering its citizens, with the protection of Cuban troops. 

Seems to be the biggest reason for our change in policy. Hope it does not last too long.

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Cognizant that this is a cruise forum I shall reply once and once only to the politics and try and tie it back to cruising. Thereafter, on the politics, Paulchili and his ilk can take the last word if they want it.

 

Like Mura, I had guides in Turkey who were not fans of Erdogan. Probably because they were educated. They were happy to complain. One guy was a retired army general too.

 

And nobody I know in Russia (nor my wife, who lives here in Canada now) are Putin fans. They're not quiet about it either. Even my mother-in-law (a Worker Hero and general patriot) has come around to the idea that Putin and the people behind him are bad dudes. But they're all-in on Stability. They want the heat and electricity to stay on, and the Metro to run on time. They want their kids to go to university and get good jobs. The kids want their MTV. 

 

Other former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact countries went their own way. Some disappeared (the DDR), some broke apart (Czechia, Slovakia). Some joined NATO. Some went darker. Putin really is as good as or better than the next guy, well, if the next guy is Lukashenko in Belarus.

 

But yeah, people do get the governments they deserve. Look at Latin America, 1970s. Just about everything was a dictatorship or effective one-party state. Nowadays, almost everything is a democracy. Some of the democracies (Chile) seem to function better than others (Brazil). If the Cubans and Venezuelans can't be bothered to throw their leaders out (wow... even Haiti threw out the Duvaliers) it's not my problem. 

 

I'll keep cruising and checking all these weird places out. 

 

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Contacted our agent.   She doesn't believe it's going to affect the cruise industry.   I am going to focus on that.....and hope it doesn't turn out to be a situation like our hurricane affected cruise the other year.   Another cruise line waited until after final payment to announce the itinerary change.

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HokiePoq, did your agent share with you a reason for that?  Reading the information put out so far by the administration, I'm not sure how it could *not* affect the cruise industry.  Keeping in mind that it's not just limiting the ability of Americans to disembark there, but prohibiting ships and flights from traveling from the US to Cuba - e.g. departing from Miami.  It will have to impact the industry, I think, the only question is when and how.  In coming years, I think some fleets may shift back to an adjacent island port instead of leaving from Miami, like the Celestyals used to do from Jamaica, but that doesn't answer what's going to happen to currently-booked cruises.  One constant with this administration is that by doing things in a slip-shod kind of way, they don't answer a lot of these questions and it's up to departments and the courts to try to determine how to implement a random statement of new policy.  Unfortunately, by that time, a lot of people will have already needed to make final payment and be stuck.

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9 hours ago, HokiePoq said:

Contacted our agent.   She doesn't believe it's going to affect the cruise industry.   I am going to focus on that.....and hope it doesn't turn out to be a situation like our hurricane affected cruise the other year.   Another cruise line waited until after final payment to announce the itinerary change.

 

Had not thought of that.

 

Might it be just another foreign policy announcement that doesn't get followed through on?

"We're sealing off the border to Mexico!"

"We're pulling out of NAFTA!"

"We're pulling out of NATO!"

"Little Rocket Man will feel fire and fury..."

 

etc etc.

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5 hours ago, el-gee-bee-tea-jew said:

HokiePoq, did your agent share with you a reason for that?  Reading the information put out so far by the administration, I'm not sure how it could *not* affect the cruise industry.  Keeping in mind that it's not just limiting the ability of Americans to disembark there, but prohibiting ships and flights from traveling from the US to Cuba - e.g. departing from Miami.  It will have to impact the industry, I think, the only question is when and how.  In coming years, I think some fleets may shift back to an adjacent island port instead of leaving from Miami, like the Celestyals used to do from Jamaica, but that doesn't answer what's going to happen to currently-booked cruises.  One constant with this administration is that by doing things in a slip-shod kind of way, they don't answer a lot of these questions and it's up to departments and the courts to try to determine how to implement a random statement of new policy.  Unfortunately, by that time, a lot of people will have already needed to make final payment and be stuck.

No, she didn't.   I agree with you that it's not logical.     

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1 hour ago, Shawnino said:

 

Had not thought of that.

 

Might it be just another foreign policy announcement that doesn't get followed through on?

"We're sealing off the border to Mexico!"

"We're pulling out of NAFTA!"

"We're pulling out of NATO!"

"Little Rocket Man will feel fire and fury..."

 

etc etc.

 

Take a pill and calm down.

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From Shawnino

" I shall reply once and once only to the politics and try and tie it back to cruising. " You have already refuted your previous posts. I echo Rob the Cruiser.

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I second the fact that the Cuban govt is “nationalizing” the tour guide industry,  just like they did with sugar and rum in the 60’s.  I’ve been there a few times this year and spoke to a guide who was arrested and spent a few weeks in jail for being overheard telling tourists about living conditions.  We met people outside of the tourist area who said they are determined to make Cuba a capitalist country even if they had to lead the army to do it.  All the educated young people we met wanted either capitalism or they wanted to leave.  One guy told us that his mom was a heart surgeon and was sent to Venezuela for 5 years when he was 12 in exchange for oil.  I hope our govt is supporting them and stirring the pot in the background.   It’s a sad situation all around.

 

Regarding Turkey, we had three guides in 2015, all female and not one had a good thing to say about Erdogan.  One said, no one will vote for him but he’ll get elected to office anyway.  She also said at the rate things were going, she would be required to wear traditional dress and cover everything up in a few years and was very unhappy about it.

 

In Russia, our guides in Moscow and St Petersburg all seemed to think Putin a necessary evil.  He runs everything but encourages free enterprise.  No one seemed to be lacking for opportunity like they do in Cuba.  In Russia, one funny thing I heard was the women complaining that the men just wanted to drink and play video games whereas the women were hustling and starting businesses.  Moscow seemed to be bustling whereas Cuba has a feeling a total repression.

 

just my two cents!

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On 4/18/2019 at 5:59 PM, sammiedawg said:

We were there late October/early November.  We spent four days with a private guide and he discussed the government plans to take control of private tour companies in December.  Now it appears most have been shut down.  How very, very, very sad.  

The government controls wages and jobs pay $30-40 per month,  regardless of skill and education level.   We learned physicians, engineers, educators were quitting their jobs and becoming tour guides.  Not surprised to learn the Cuban government has stymied the entrepreneurial spirit.   I’m so sad for the Cuban people.  

 

I am hoping US officials find a way to grandfather in Americans visiting Cuba via foreign flagged cruise ships.   

sammie, ALL of the cruise ships going to Cuba are foreign flagged.  It's not the flagging of the ship, it is any ship leaving out of a US port that is the issue.

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