Last updated: 09:06 AM ET, Thu July 09 2015

Apple Vacations Cuba Programs Go On Sale

Tour Operator | Apple Vacations | David Cogswell | July 09, 2015

Apple Vacations Cuba Programs Go On Sale

PHOTO: Vacation packages to Cuba have arrived, but with the U.S. embargo of Cuba still in place, they will not be like vacation packages to other destinations. (Photo by David Cogswell)

Travel to Cuba turns a corner to a new era with the entrance of Apple Vacations, one of America’s largest mass market vacation packagers, into the Cuba travel market.

Apple Vacations’ new Cuba vacation package product goes on sale today, July 9, at 11 a.m. EST.

With the entrance of Apple Vacations, one of America’s largest vacation packaging companies, Cuba edges closer to being a fun-and-sun destination for American travelers.

But not quite. It is still not legal for Americans to go to Cuba just to lie on the beach and do whatever they want.

The market for travel to Cuba has so far been dominated by specialist tour operators who have learned how to operate within the complex system of restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the U.S. embargo of Cuba, which continues after more than 50 years.

Since President Obama loosened the restrictions on travel to Cuba last December, the regulations are less onerous than they were previously. Americans traveling to Cuba no longer have to apply for licenses in advance to travel to Cuba.

But American travelers are still required to comply with the U.S. government’s restrictions on travel to Cuba. Those restrictions require travelers to adhere to a full schedule of so-called people-to-people activities, in which they meet with Cubans and learn about their culture.

Apple Vacations is one of the largest volume vacation packaging companies in the U.S. It is known primarily for offering vacation packages to fun-and-sun destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. 

The people-to-people restrictions play a huge role in any trip to Cuba, but part of the way Apple differentiates its product from the competition is by offering programs that are shorter in duration than most of the Cuba programs offered previously by other tour operators.

Apple is offering five- and seven-day packages.

But though the trips are short, Apple’s programs will still include a full daily schedule of people-to-people activities in compliance with U.S. government regulations. Apple is fulfilling the requirements through a partnership with Cuba Travel Services, which charters flights to Cuba from Miami on American Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

The five-night Havana Getaway program stays in the Cuban capital city for the entire trip. The program includes sightseeing and a series of people-to-people experiences that are still required under the U.S. embargo.

The program is priced from $2,233 per person double occupancy. Departures are Sept. 5 and Oct. 17.

The second Cuba program offered by Apple, Colors of Cuba, includes the basic itinerary of the Havana Getaway plus two additional nights in the colonial city of Trinidad. The program is priced from $2,733 per person double occupancy. Departures are Sept. 11, Sept. 25 and Oct. 8.

Apple expects to offer more departures of its programs into 2016.

For more information on Apple Vacations, Cuba

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