Cuba Cruise Feedback: Group IST, a Variety Cruises Partner, Says "No Change"

Group IST uses Variety Cruises' mega-yachts for its comprehensive Cuba programs.

Feedback continues to flow to Travel Agent about cruise-related program effects from the recent Trump Adminstration decision to rescind some facets of the Obama Administration's more liberal policies involving Cuba travel.

However, it appears cruises that call at Cuban ports are largely unaffected by those changes. Travel Agent covered the cruise-related impact in a story yesterday; it featured feedback from "The Big Three" U.S.-based cruise companies (Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings) as well as several small ship operators.

Here's more feedback on the small-ship side from Group IST, which partners with Variety Cruises in offering Cuba programming. Michael Goren, CEO, Group IST, noted that "Group IST's pioneering Cuba programs, operated together with Variety Cruises, are compliant with the new policies announced by the current administration and are moving full steam ahead. 

"We have been operating in Cuba for more than four years and will continue our extensive people-to-people programs which use Variety Cruises' 50-to-72-passenger mega-yachts," Goren said.

By using the smaller vessels, he said the group's Cuba programs can access some ports and islands that larger ships can't or don't sail to such as Isla de Juventud, the Isle of Youth. Itineraries also feature such destinations as Maria La Gorda, Cayo Largo, Havana, and Cienfuegos.

People-to-people travel for groups is one of the approved travel categories for U.S. travelers that the Trump Administration has said will definitely continue under the new Cuba policy.

Those interested in the Cuba changes can also access Joe Pike's extensive story on Friday which provided travel industry feedback to the Cuba travel policy shift as well as a helpful Q&A from the U.S. Department of Treasury about the process and what's ahead

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