Apple Vacations To Offer Shorter, More Affordable Cuba Tours
PHOTO: The streets of Havana. (photo by David Cogswell)
Apple Vacations is stepping a bit outside their comfort zone in an effort to give U.S. travel agents a more affordable Cuba trip to meet the ever-growing demand.
Company president Tim Mullen announced Tuesday that Apple will run two different itineraries with five total trips planned to Cuba in 2015.
“Whereas our competitors are only offering 10- or 14-night trips with prices running around $7,500 per person, we’ve found a way to meet the needs of the typical U.S. traveler at a much more affordable rate,” Mullen said.
The company will offer a five-night Havana Getaway that will give a cultural overview of the capital city and highlights include comprehensive sightseeing tours, musical performances, antique American cars, a cigar rolling demonstration and plenty of authentic Cuban cuisine.
For a bit longer trip, there is the seven-night Colors of Cuba program. In addition to the features of the Havana Getaway, this itinerary includes two nights in the iconic colonial town of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spiritus.
The Havana Getaway will depart on Sept. 5 and Oct. 17, 2015 and is priced from $2,233 per person, based on double occupancy.
The Colors of Cuba itinerary is priced from $2,733 per person, based on double occupancy, with departure dates on Sept. 11, Sept. 25 and Oct. 8.
The company will start taking reservations for both trips on July 9.
Mullen stressed that this will be a guided tour, a departure from Apple’s usual beach-heavy, “flop and drop” vacation packages. This meets with the “people to people” classification, one of 12 categories for travel licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The vacation wholesaler is working with U.S.-based Cuba Travel Services, a Cuba-licensed operator since 1999 that charters flights from Miami to Cuba with Sun Country Airlines and American Airlines. Connections to Miami can be arranged from all major U.S. gateways for an additional cost.
“We are working with Cuba Travel Services to create a seamless and enjoyable experience, from ensuring that the required entry documentation is submitted to the fulfillment of the itineraries while in the destination,” Mullen said.
Each chartered flight aboard 787-300 aircraft can accommodate a total of 180 passengers. Mullen said groups of up to 30 can be booked on the trip.
Tripgoers will be part of up of a guided tour of up to 30 people per tour led by representatives from both Cuba Travel Services and Cuba Tourism.
The initerary price includes Cuban health insurance, charter flights departing from Miami (connecting flights from other U.S. cities available), Cuban tourist visa processing, U.S. taxes and fees. A Cuban departure tax of $25 per passenger will be collected upon check in at Miami International Airport.
The trips must be booked at least 40 days in advance of each tour. Travelers will receive an orientation in Miami to ensure familiarity with Cuban laws, policies and traditions prior to arrival in Cuba.
Mullen said that Cuba has been atop the wish list from travel agents for some time. He said the company expects high demand for the tours and will try to schedule more dates in the future.
“This is the beginning. We’re excited to see where this leads us and excited to provide this new option to U.S. travelers,” he said.
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