At Road Scholar, we offer educational adventures to 150 countries, but in recent years the most fascinating country to experience of them all is Cuba. The culture, the architecture, the performing arts and the abundant charm of the Cuban people make every visit there richly rewarding and for many people — transformational.
Recent news has some Americans questioning whether to visit Cuba, because it has been reported that many months ago, some U.S. and Canadian diplomatic staff experienced unexplained health issues. In response, the Cuban government invited U.S. officials to investigate the incidents. This was an unprecedented gesture of openness and goodwill by the Cuban government. The Cubans want the issue resolved as quickly as possible, because the last thing they want is for Americans to feel unsure about visiting Cuba or to jeopardize the great progress that has been achieved politically between our two countries in recent years.
So far, the investigations have no answer as to what happened. These were isolated incidents that affected a handful of government staff many months ago. Despite no recent problems, on September 29, 2017, the U.S. Department of State — unexpectedly — issued a travel warning, which has many of us confused as to its intentions.
We believe you can put any concerns about visiting Cuba to rest. Thousands of Road Scholar participants have been to Cuba in the time since the first report was noted, and there have been no reports of any Road Scholar participants or other visitors to the island being affected by the incidents as described in the travel warning. And no other government, including the Canadian government, is warning against travel to Cuba because of the incidents. Airlines are continuing to fly to Cuba, cruise ships are continuing to dock in Cuba and visitors from around the world continue to visit the island.
We have taken Road Scholars to Cuba since 1997, and the safety and well-being of our participants is always our primary concern. After carefully considering the warning and communicating both with the U.S. Department of State and with our contacts in Cuba, we do not believe these events pose a threat to participants going to Cuba. Therefore, all Road Scholar programs to Cuba are scheduled to operate as planned. We continue to meet the guidelines established by the U.S. government to take Americans to Cuba under our “People-to-People” license, and the U.S. Embassy in Havana remains open and continues to offer emergency services to U.S. citizens in need of assistance.
A team of Road Scholar staff have just returned from Cuba after assessing the impact of the recent hurricane. They report life is back to normal. The hotels and restaurants are bustling. The musicians are playing in the streets. The iconic 50’s-era cars are cruising up and down Havana’s thoroughfares. Cuba is as enthralling and brilliant as ever.
A Road Scholar participant just returned from a program to Cuba and was transformed by the experience. She wrote to us …
"As we walked in the afternoons, our instructors, Jim and Jose, spoke about the local buildings, food, clothing, people, shopping, and much more. We saw performances of a teen dance troupe, an a capella women’s chorus, a young children’s dance club, and a chamber music ensemble. We danced with the children and spent time with senior citizens dancing the traditional Danzon cubano at their local club. We visited a well-known potter’s atelier, a wood carver’s studio, Hemingway’s home, and a famous cigar store where their in-house cigar roller gave demonstrations.
In groups of four or five, we huddled two hours with college students and asked them pointed questions. They responded with candor. They are realistic and acknowledge that socialism doesn’t work (although they like all the free stuff). They don’t want to live under a military dictatorship. They want and expect change. They want the embargo lifted. They want democracy and freedom. “Americanos … amigos.”
The end of autumn and winter are the absolute best times to visit Cuba. We offer a wide variety of experiences to choose from in Cuba — learning adventures by land or by ship, to Havana and the countryside and many different parts of the island, each fascinating in their own way.
You can see our complete collection of educational adventures to Cuba here.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at (877) 426-8056, M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (ET).
James Moses is the President and CEO of Road Scholar. He started with Road Scholar in 1979 as the organization’s very first registrar.