New regulations applying to US yachts planning to visit Cuba have been introduced. Paul Madden of summarises the position as follows:

  • The 'people-to-people' educational US Visa no longer makes sense for cruisers, but could still be appropriate for yachts that are there only to visit Havana
  • There are other US Visa categories that are appropriate for cruising yachtsmen (and charters). These will enable you to cruise the south coast, and include diving and exploration and visits to multiple ports-of-call
  • There is still a 14-day limit imposed by the US Commerce Department, but it is possible to get a license for longer visits
  • There are eight marinas that are now 'banned'. Only two of these are normally used by yachtsmen (Varadero and Cabo San Antonio). While US boaters may not do business with these marinas, they are still viable as "Ports of Entry" and as refuelling stops as necessitated by ‘Safety at Sea’. Make sure any receipt you get for services specifies that you paid for ‘Customs & Immigration’ or ‘fuel’.

Madden points to Cuba offering some of the best cruising ground in the Caribbean. He says: “All yachts from all countries are welcome to cruise in Cuba. The government is promoting marine tourism and they are striving to improve facilities and make prime cruising grounds more accessible. US cruisers can still get a USCG Permit and can still cruise to Cuba under a General License.”