Cuba

Go Latin From Manhattan--and Elsewhere
When the Reader's Digest group hired me in 1993 as the ludicrously named Travel Adviser of Travel Holiday magazine, one of my first thoughts was to track how the new Clinton Administration would handle relations with Cuba. Surely, I thought, more than 30 years of estrangement from the island just 90 miles off the coast of Florida was bound to end soon. We'd all be jetting back and forth to Havana and the beaches any day, I assumed.

Decades, and several presidential administrations later, the metaphoric doors to Cuba are finally opening. U.S. carriers are vying for route authority to the Cuban capital and nine other destinations. Travel restrictions have been loosened. Starwood Hotels has already signed a deal for a presence in Cuba and Marriott also has the authority to do business there. Lifting of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, first imposed in 1962, still requires Congressional action. Even a reticent Congress can't stop what seems inevitable, however.

That's led JoeSentMe to feature to a spate of columns about Cuba. Chris Barnett and Carol Pucci have already been there. Martin Deutsch, a regular visitor more than 50 years ago, longs to go back. Paraphrasing a then-contemporary advertising campaign, he wants to "Go Latin from Manhattan again." Me? I'm just trying to figure out what all the fuss is about and attempting to explain the mechanics of how it'll all go down. -- Joe Brancatelli, March, 2016

Tactical Traveler
SLOWLY, BUT SURELY, WE'RE HEADED TO CUBA
After more than 50 years of political isolation, commercial quarantine and partisan rancor, opening Cuba was never going to be fast or easy. From the moment President Obama announced his intention to normalize relations late in 2014, it's been a cautious, fraught and contentious process. Here's how we've covered the travel implications of the situation.

March 13, 2016
CAROL PUCCI: DO-IT-YOURSELF CUBA
Should it really cost $500 a day to tour Cuba? Or $600-$700 for a 30-minute round-trip flight between Miami and Havana? No, and it doesn't have to any longer. As Cuba prepared for an influx of U.S. airlines, hotels and visitors, you can go now on your own, avoid the pricey tour groups and overpriced tour operators, and get an up close and personal look at the island and its people.

February 18, 2016:
JOE BRANCATELLI: CUBA? OF COURSE. JUST NOT RIGHT NOW.
Word to the wise frequent flyer: Don't plan your family's Christmas holiday in Cuba. The announcement of new flights this week doesn't mean service will start immediately. Besides, the Cold War-era embargo remains in place, so most U.S. citizens can't go even if the flights are running. Here's a more likely time frame--and an overview of what happens and when.

February 11, 2016
CHRIS BARNETT: HAVANA IS A MOVEABLE FEAST TRAPPED IN TIME
After more than 50 years of embargo, U.S. businesspeople and entrepreneurs are coming to the Cuba party late. And things aren't necessarily improving as relations thaw. But there's music and dancing everywhere in Havana. The sun is shining. The people are friendly and things are cheap. Isn't it time you took the plunge? You can hire your own Havana "envoy" for $100 a day and he comes with chauffeured transportation and local wisdom included.

January 14, 2016
CHRIS BARNETT: LOST IN TRANSLATION IN HAVANA
I flew to Havana on a whim via Cancun and Aeromexico and found it an easy, painless experience. Cheap, too, at less than $160 roundtrip. Then I literally got lost in translation: After a pleasant dinner at an Italian restaurant and a walk through a pleasant park, I couldn't find the apartment I rented. Yet even that experience became a moment of joy, friendliness and real cultural comity.

January 29, 2015
MARTIN DEUTSCH: I'D LIKE TO GO 'LATIN FROM MANHATTAN' ONE MORE TIME
I find it very difficult to imagine that it's been more than half a century since I last set foot in Cuba, the tropical destination I came to appreciate in my early years as a travel journalist. I miss Havana and I hope to return there once more in the years to come. I've been thinking about tropical trips of the past ever since President Obama announced last month that he was working to disassemble the complex web of boycotts and sanctions that have estranged us from Cuba since Fidel Castro established a Communist regime 90 miles from our shores.

November-December, 2011
CAROL PUCCI: WHY CUBA NOW? BECAUSE WE CAN
In a series of seven detailed blog posts, I discuss Havana, Cuba's new entrepreneurs, the home life of an average Cuban family and shopping on the Calle Obispo, a shopping strip where locals and tourists mix. I also talk about the vibrant Cuban music scene, where talented players perform on street corners, in restaurants and cafes and anywhere tourists gather.

This column is Copyright 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All other columns are copyrighted material of their respective authors. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.