Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
I’ve been on tender hooks for several months now, awaiting confirmation that National Geographic Expeditions would (or would not) receive a renewal of its license to offer “people-to-people” (P2P) programs to Cuba this season.
(See my blog post of January 31, 2011, for an explanation of P2P programs and licenses.)
As I wrote in my blog post of October 6, 2012, in late spring this year it became apparent that OFAC (the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control) was holding up applications for licenses and renewal of licenses, which traditional have been good for 12 months.
Many companies and organizations that had successfully operated P2P programs last year were denied licenses. Other got caught up in a backlog.
I was fearful that National Geographic Expeditions application for renewal would be denied (the former license, issued in August 2011, was good for only 12 months). As it was, the delay of the license renewal caused the company to cancel all its November and December departures. I had been scheduled to lead five of those trips, so I took a huge financial hit to the pocket. No wonder I was beginning to have sleepless nights, fearing the worst for the rest of the season.
Now the good news!... Yesterday, OFAC issued a renewal of National Geographic Expeditions’ license.
Phew! I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Even better news!... OFAC issued the renewal good for 24 months.
Reason enough to celebrate with a double mojito!
So now I can look forward to leading the company's 9-day “Cuba: Discover its People and Culture” programs departing March 17, April 7 & 21, and May 5 & 19, 2013... and hopefully to at least two subsequent seasons of tours.
Other tour companies that had offered Cuba trips last year are still pending renewals, or have been denied.
Curious about Cuba?... Here’s a video link to my presentation about Cuba to National Geographic Live! earlier this year.
Meanwhile, motorcyclists can join me on a one-of-a-kind 10- or 15-day motorcycle tour of Cuba this winter with Texas-based MotoDiscovery, which earlier this year was also granted a license to offer people-to-people programs. I'll be leading two of the five tours scheduled for 2013: January 25 and February 9. These 14-day all-Cuba trips will do a complete circuit of the island.
And stay tuned for a special music-themed tour of Cuba that I am putting together, and will be escorting next year, with my friend and musical impresario Dr. Vanessa Sheldon, a renowned harpist and Dean of Arts & Humanities at the newly launched World Education University.
So join me next year in Cuba!
For complete information on Cuba, including how to travel there, buy my Moon Handbook Cuba—the most comprehensive, information-packed, traveler-friendly, and unbiased guidebook in print.
For further information on Havana, buy Moon Spotlight Havana.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker