• Havana Skyline, Cuba

    Latest News on Cuba Travel Restrictions - June 2019

    <b>What do the New Cuba Travel Restrictions Mean?</b><br>On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the Trump administration announced new rules about people-to-people and cruise travel to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba.</a> If you have plans for such a trip – or have been thinking about making them – you may naturally wonder what’s going on. Here’s a summary of the changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations announced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) (the section at the Department of the Treasury that regulates the trade and travel embargo to Cuba and which issues licenses for travel to Cuba) and the Commerce Department, respectively.<br><br><b>How do the new regulations affect cruise travel to Cuba?</b><br>The changes end travel to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> by U.S.-flagged cruise ships or foreign-flagged cruise ships departing from the U.S. The Commerce Department has not included a “grandfather” clause to allow cruises that have already been scheduled, and for which passengers have already made arrangements. If you have a paid money toward a deposit or final payment for cruise travel to Cuba, you should contact your cruise company for a refund.<br><br><b>How do the new regulations affect people-to-people travel?</b><br>OFAC has allowed U.S. organizations whose people-to-people programs in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> fall under a ‘grandfather’ clause, such as those operated by Classic Journeys, to proceed with those programs.  OFAC has, however, prohibited people-to-people programs that do not fall under this ‘grandfather’ clause to proceed.<br><br><b>Can I travel legally to Cuba with Classic Journeys on its People-to-People programs? </b><br>Yes. Your travel to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> on Classic Journeys’ People-to-People programs is 100% legal because our programs fall under OFAC’s ‘grandfather’ clause. OFAC considers the grandfather clause to apply when a people-to-people organization like Classic Journeys had completed a travel-related transaction prior to June 5, 2019, in connection with a particular departure date, even if, prior to June 5, 2019, you as a traveler had not yet reserved your trip with Classic Journeys. In other words, because we had already reserved our hotel accommodations for our People-to-People trips in Cuba prior to June 5, 2019, your travel to Cuba on our People-to-People programs is grandfathered in as completely legal.<br><br><b>So, what is a qualifying “travel-related transaction” that allows Classic Journeys’ People-to-People programs to Cuba to be legal under the grandfather clause? </b><br>The qualifying “travel-related transaction” that needs to have been completed prior to June 5 could be, for example: having made a reservation for an accommodation (whether or not paid for) or booking and paying for transportation. These are just two examples and are not meant to be exhaustive. In the case of Classic Journeys, our close relationships with local people in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> mean that we already had our hotel reservations confirmed prior to June 5.<br> <br><b>What People-to-People programs and dates are legal with Classic Journeys under the new regulations? </b><br>All three of our People-to-People programs (<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba-havana-art-music/" target="_blank">Long Weekend in Havana</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cubafamily/" target="_blank">Cuba for Families: Havana and the Viñales Valley</a>, and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba-cienfuegos-trinidad-havana/" target="_blank">Havana, Cienfuegos &amp; Trinidad</a>) and all of their departure dates for 2019 are 100% legal.<br><br><b>Can you still fly to Cuba legally on commercial air flights?</b><br>Commercial air flights are not affected by the changes. And so, yes, they are still legal. Note that your airline will ask you at the time of ticketing to select from a listing of the type of license under which you are traveling to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> legally. Your first choice option for the license will be a “people-to-people” exchange with the “grandfather clause” aka referencing the fact that your People-to-People organization– Classic Journeys – has made its arrangements prior to June 5, 2019. If that option is not available, you can select “educational activities” (so long as there is no mention of a degree requirement). If the airline you are considering does not have one of these options right now, they are likely playing catch up with the new regulations; so you can check back with them in a few days or try one of the many other airlines with commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba.<br><br><b>What about private aircraft and boats; can they travel legally to Cuba? </b><br>The authorization for private vessels and private aircraft (such as private fishing boats and private sailboats, and corporate or private jets) is revoked. So, they are no longer legal for travel to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a>.<br><br><b>How will the changes under President Trump affect the people of Cuba?</b><br>We’ve made so many wonderful friends in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> and seen the lives of the Cuban people change for the better during recent years. So, of course, we’re concerned about what it will mean to their prosperity and general welfare with the enaction of these new travel regulations. The Cubans have been through so much in the last 60 years. They’ve always managed to bear their hardships with grace and warm solidarity in their families and communities.<br><br>One known feature of the new regulations is that they will cap remittances – the money that can be sent to Cubans from friends and family members in the U.S. – at $1,000 per person every three months. In a country where the median monthly salary is just $32, you can only imagine how a reduction in remittance income will impact everyday life. In addition, travel had become a major source of income for Cubans, as well, so any reduction in that resource will echo throughout the country in a way for the people who can least afford it and whom we and our government want to help.<br><br><b>We choose guarded optimism.</b><br>We are approaching <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> as we always have – with care, enthusiasm, and with pride in the fact that legal travel for Americans to Cuba has changed the lives of our American guests and the everyday local Cubans they’ve met, in overwhelmingly positive ways. You can still travel to Cuba legally with Classic Journeys. We like to think of this way of travel as an informal version of ‘Voice of America” with boots on the ground… yours in fact, as you communicate a positive story of the American people to local Cuban people. We urge you to hold fast to your plans. And if you’ve been hesitating to plan a Cuba trip, you know now that you can, and we encourage you to do so now.

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  • Greece Dome Santorini

    Traveling in Greece: A Greek Isles Odyssey

    <p>It took Odysseus ten years to sail from Troy back home to Greece. That seemed way too long back when we spent half a semester getting through The Odyssey. Now, though — after having been lured, lulled and enchanted by the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank">Greek Isles</a> myself — I get how that could happen.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Santorini Greece" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATp1&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000fC8B" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Across every emerald/sapphire/aquamarine strait, I’d spot another fine-looking island that I just didn’t have time for. Watching sunset on a terrace in Santorini, my friend Manos would worry that I hadn’t seen Delos. “How could you not see Delos?” On Crete, 80-something George took a break from crafting phyllo dough to half-whisper, “The citron! You must taste the citron of Naxos.” Fired up by all of that sound advice and abundant temptation, we’ve tweaked our itinerary in the Greek Isles to include more islands, the finest sites of antiquity, white beaches beyond compare, and time with our friends everywhere who insisted that we bring you for a visit.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Naxos Island, Greece" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATp1&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000fC8G" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>You start in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank">Crete </a>where the aforementioned George is the last baker on the island who makes tissue-thin phyllo dough by hand. He’s a marvel, and you appreciate every flaky bite of baklava all the more for what he teaches you. In the heart of her family’s olive groves, our friend Joanna waves you in to wander on the farm and taste their prize oils. On the epic side of the equation, Crete is home to magnificently preserved Knossos where an expert guide tells the tales of King Minos and the Minotaur.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Crete Greece" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATp1&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000fC8L" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Next is Naxos. There is a countryside walk here that is a fantastic amble in landscapes that have hardly changed for millennia. The island is famous for its 2,500-year-old kouros, a sculpture half-hewn from the marble quarry where it still lies. Did that sculptor wash down the dust with some citron liqueur? It’s a shame if he didn’t. You get your own taste at a small family distillery where they’ve made the bright green brew from the leaves and fruits of citron trees since the 19th century.<br><br>One all-new day on this trip is just the kind that I love best. It begins with a ferry ride to Mykonos, the Greek isle to end all Greek isles. Vibey, bustling and hip, it’s one of those places you just need to say that you’ve seen. But even better, it’s the jumping-off point for Delos. A<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank"> UNESCO World Heritage Site</a>, Delos was the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. A private guide waits to take you on an exclusive exploration of what are regarded as the Mediterranean’s most important architectural digs. It’s startling – and absolutely typical – to see the faces of ancient civilization and contemporary culture on a single Aegean day, and it’s the kind of experience that helps you understand the real Greece.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="The Temple of Isis in Archaeological Site of Delos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATp1&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000fC8V" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>The grand finale of your trip is a jaw-dropping stay in white-washed, blue-roofed <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank">Santorini</a>. Throughout this trip, we find ways to avoid touristic Greece and show you the country at its best. That really matters in Santorini where cruise ships sometimes disgorge scads of tourists all at once. Our itinerary spares you that sight. You actually walk into Santorini on a path through vineyards. During your time here, you take a trip on a small boat into the waters of the volcanic caldera. For the trip back to the top, you can take the gondola or (my preference!) ride a donkey like the locals have for thousands of years. At the end of all of your island-hopping days, you find yourself in luxury 5-star hotels, but I have to say that the villa-style hotel here is my absolute favorite. It clings to the town’s steep slopes, guaranteeing you a ringside seat for views beyond compare. Every evening, I settled there with a glass of wine there to watch the sunset, but the show is so gorgeous that I kept forgetting to drink it.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Santorini Greece" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATp1&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000fC8f" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Simply put, this is the best way imaginable to experience the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece-tours/" target="_blank">Greek Isles</a>. You get the impossibly blue seas, the rich antiquities and a variety of island cultures that’s much more diverse than you ever imagined. Layer in the many chances you have to meet local people and be immersed in the lives they live, and I know you will wish your odyssey could last a few years longer!</p>

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  • Marabana in front of capital building in havana

    Interview with Ironman Champ - and Classic Journeys guest - Kathleen McCartney

    For those of us of a certain age, we remember ABC Wide World of Sports as a mainstay of Saturday afternoons. One must-see episode every year was the Ironman from Kona, Hawaii. Perhaps you, like my brother and I, would sit on your sofa (ours was in northern New Jersey), and for an hour or two forget about the snow or rain outside while you watched world-class athletes testing their limits under the heat and sun of the Big Island. <br><br>The most iconic of these races was the 1982 Ironman World Championship in which Kathleen McCartney won a gut-wrenching, dramatic and historic finish over second place finisher Julie Moss. It epitomized “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”, inspired millions and brought Ironman to the attention of the world. ABC’s legendary sportscaster Jim McKay called the 1982 Ironman finish, “the most inspiring sports moment he had ever witnessed”. <br><br>Ironman World Champion and 10-time Ironman finisher, Kathleen has been featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, NBC Sports, The Johnny Carson Show, ABC Superstars, and ABC’s 25th Anniversary Greatest Moments of Wide World of Sports. She has also been featured in National publications including Outside, Runner’s World, Triathlete and Lava Magazine. <br><br>Even closer to our heart, Kathleen is a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> guest, who recently joined our Long Weekend in Havana trip that we scheduled in partnership with Road Runner Sports to overlap with the Havana Marathon. Kathleen and other Classic Journeys guests had the opportunity to join the 10k, half or full marathon in addition to connecting with the island’s irresistible people, music, food and art. As it turns out, it was a long weekend that none of them will ever forget. Here, Kathleen shares some of her memories from the trip.<br><br><b>CJ: What made you want to travel to Cuba?<br><br>Kathleen:</b> Travel to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank">Cuba</a> has been off limits for most of my life. As an avid and curious traveler, I wondered if I would ever have the chance to see Cuba with my own eyes in my lifetime! Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to experience the Long Weekend in Havana and Marabana Havana Marathon with Classic Journeys and Roadrunner Sports. I was thrilled to combine my love of travel and adventure with my passion for running- my idea of an ultimate and epic trip!<b> </b><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="Guest laughing in front of classic car" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y3sM&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oW3g" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>CJ: What did you love most about traveling with Classic Journeys? <br><br>Kathleen:</b> Because Classic Journeys takes care of all of the meticulous planning and details of the trip, all that I had to do to prepare for this trip was pack my bag! From the moment I arrived in Havana, I was excited to hit the ground running and each day&#39;s activities exceeded my expectations. I loved the fact that we had an incredible tour guide who wove a rich history lesson throughout our journey to help us fully appreciate what we were seeing and doing. Whether it was a cultural excursion, strolling the historic streets, dining at a paladar, or a tour of the cigar factory, every aspect of the trip felt like the ultimate Cuban experience.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="Kathleen in revolution square havana" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y3sM&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oVbI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>CJ: What surprised you about Cuba? <br><br>Kathleen: </b>My first sight from my hotel room at the Melia Cohiba was astonishing! Looking out my window to the east, the rolling landscape was a blanket of vibrant, colorful buildings as far as the eye could see. I was equally amazed by the feeling that I had stepped back in time and I could experience Havana just as it was decades ago. When we stepped out of the hotel for our first night on the town, a line of 1950&#39;s classic convertibles was waiting for us (one of every color)! We cruised along the scenic Malecon on our way to Old Havana for a memorable dinner followed by a daiquiri at Hemingway&#39;s favorite bar, El Floridita.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="classic cars along malecon in Havana, Cuba" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y3sM&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oVbN" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>CJ: What was your favorite part of the trip?<br><br>Kathleen: </b>When I travel I like to feel that I&#39;m experiencing the people and their rich traditions and culture in the most authentic way possible. Classic Journeys provided us with a unique opportunity to spend time with locals to listen, learn, share and engage. We visited La Muraleando where we spent time with local artists. We had salsa dancing lessons one afternoon partnered with amazing (and patient) dancers.  Experiencing Havana from an insider&#39;s perspective gave me a feeling of deeper appreciation, understanding and a connection to the all the people we met. After all, the feelings are what stays with us long after the trip is over!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="salsa dancing in Havana, Cuba" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y3sM&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oVbS" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>CJ: What was it like running a race in Cuba? <br><br>Kathleen:</b> It was quite an adventure to participate in a running race in a foreign country. Everything was unfamiliar (in a good way) and as a result, the race was a sense of discovery with every step and every mile. Race morning greeted us with warmth, a beautiful sunrise and magnificent photo opportunities. Most of the runners in our group ran the half marathon and we assembled together at the start line ready for adventure! We were in a great mix of thousands of locals and runners from all over the world. I can&#39;t imagine a better way to see and explore a city than to run 13.1 miles through it; running along the Malecon, past iconic landmarks and beautiful views to the sights and sounds of the people of Havana waking up to a new day. I treasured every minute, and I earned a most memorable race journey!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="Kathleen with RRS flag after marathon in Havana, Cuba" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y3sM&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oVbX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>CJ: What is one thing you would tell anyone who is thinking about traveling to Cuba? <br><br>Kathleen:</b> Traveling with Classic Journeys was my first group tour experience, and I loved it! Our amazing group of people (now friends!) from all over the U.S. definitely enhanced my overall travel experience in Cuba. I wouldn&#39;t even consider traveling to Cuba without Classic Journeys. The unique cultural experiences and impeccable itinerary and service that Classic Journeys provides is the essence of your trip. Be prepared to be delighted!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cuba/" target="_blank"><img alt="group after race in Havana, Cuba" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001Y3sM&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000oVbc" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>CJ: What’s next on your travel bucket list? <br><br>Kathleen: </b>In no particular order - <br><br>Marvel at the northern lights in Iceland or Norway<br><br>An African safari<br><br>Birthday celebration in 2019 with my loved ones <br><br>More travel in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Europe</a><br><br>Anywhere in the World with <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a>!

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