(1) I thought it was illegal for US citizens to travel to Cuba, how is this trip possible?
Due to recent regulations changed by the Obama Administration, Friendly Planet is able to facilitate this People-to-People educational exchange to Cuba for friends and guests of Funky People Online. Friendly Planet Travel has been issued a specific license by The Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which authorizes registered guests of their programs to visit Cuba legally. If you have a sincere interest in visiting Cuba like we did this year (see photos), there are no other hurdles to consider or reasons for legal concern, your travel will be fully authorized by the US Government.
(2) Who can attend/join this trip? What if I need a roommate?
ANYONE with a valid travel passport (US or any country) can attend this 2013 trip with our travel group. Please advise us immediately upon booking if you were born in Cuba, since this will necessitate a change in the visa application process. The travel style is fast-paced with fully escorted activities. An average level of physical fitness for each participant is necessary as a good amount of walking & hiking will occur.
Quite often we have solo trip attendees that wish to share a double room instead of purchasing a single room package. If you are seriously intersted in joining us in Cuba, we can assist with pairing booked attendees for this excursion. Why miss out?
(3) How do I begin the booking process? What's included?
Book online (here) or call our travel provider to secure a package with an initial deposit of $600pp before January 15, 2013. (Use the code: ALFORDJUNE13) Book early to stretch out your payments! Trip balances are due by April 15, 2013. Items included in the 2013 Cuba package are detailed on the trip page. There are no triple rooms, you can choose to have your own room or share with someone else. After payment completion, you'll be sent the charter flight times so that you can arrange travel between Miami and your home city during our week of travel. (This cost and planning is your responsibility). All other specifics will be sent to you with your trip documents, tickets, etc. Terry Alford of Funky People Online will conduct a pre-trip conference call for attendees to share some helpful travel insights and things to know about travel to Cuba, gathered from our previous group trip.
(4) What can I expect to do with the Funky People travel group in Cuba?
The nature of this tour is one of cultural and social education. The schedule is organized in such a way that you will spend a great deal of time interacting with the people of Cuba! In mid June, confirmed attendees for our Colors of Cuba 2013 Tour will receive a schedule of our activity plans, social and community entertainment, places to eat, and recommended things to do & see. The group will be accompanied by our Cuban hosts during our stay and all meals, transportation and admission fees will be covered for the entire week. After the full day's activities you will have time to observe life in Cuba or relax at our base hotels. [sample itinerary]
(5) Will I need a passport for this trip?
POSITIVELY YES, a valid passport is required for everyone attending this trip. (both US and non-US citizens) Photo IDs and/or birth certificates are not acceptable. Please advise us immediately if you were born in Cuba since this will necessitate a change in the Visa process. Go to http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html to apply for or renew a US Passport. All other necessary US customs documents to enter and return from Cuba along with government issued licenses of travel authorization will be provided to you by Friendly Planet Travel once your trip is paid for.
(6) Do I have any flight options for international travel to Cuba?
NO, you cannot make your own flight arrangements to/from Cuba and travel with this group! The special charter flight cost to Cuba is included in the package price. It is a direct private charter designated for our group only. Only paid attendees in our group for this trip will receive charter flight details from the Friendly Planet travel representatives.
(7) If I make other plans to get to Cuba, can I join the Funky People group any time that week?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! And here's why..... First, American citizens traveling to Cuba without government authorized permission to go to Cuba, are traveling illegally. "Leisure or vacation" tourism to Cuba for Americans is not permitted. American citizens risk committing a federal offense if you fail to disclose your travel itinerary abroad to US customs officials upon exit or return. Penalties can range from hefty fines to loss of your passport, entirely. Second, our group will be traveling under the educational license issued to Friendly Planet Travel and will have a pre-arranged tour schedule that must be filed with various US government agencies. Third, this trip is only for attendees who have booked specifically with our Funky People travel group - NO EXCEPTIONS ARE POSSIBLE! Fourth, public access to join our group will not be permitted or allowed under the participant rules governing these types of US to Cuba travel tours. Our exact timetable will not be known or published to anyone who is not traveling with our group.
(8) What if I don't make a reservation before the January 15, 2013 deposit deadline?
If you are interested in this trip, you should make plans to secure a sapce by mid January 2013. Limited spacing is available (25 in total), so do not wait until March and expect guaranteed reservations. If you are reading this after the January deposit deadline, please contact us immediately to inquire about booking availability. Keep in mind that the later you make reservations the less time you have to space out your payments. Your package MUST be paid in full by 4/15/13. After you have paid for the Colors of Cuba trip, you should make flight plans to Miami, our departure city. This is your responsibility. (Plan a budget of $250 or more for airfare to Miami.) Special Note: Our attendees will need to be present for the pre-trip briefing in Miami around 7pm on Tuesday (6/25) of our trip week, returning from Cuba around 12noon on July 3rd. Set your Miami arrival and departure times accordingly.
(9) How can I extend my visit to Cuba on this trip?
YOU CAN NOT. If you are interested in a lengthier visit to Cuba, we cannot accommodate you with this particular excursion, but we can offer some alternative suggestions.
(10) What is the quickest way to contact you for booking?
This trip will work no different than any of our previous group trips or excursions. We strongly suggest you consider planning and budgeting as early as possible. Use firstname.lastname@example.org or call 347.903.8659, Monday-Saturday, 9am-6pm ET to inquire with questions & booking. If you find that contacting us by phone is difficult during peak times of the week, please follow-up with an e-mail clearly outlining your booking needs or questions. We will return your contact as promptly as possible, but be sure to specify it is the "Funky People Travel Group-Colors of CUBA trip" you are interested in. Or use our travel group code ALFORDJUNE13 to book online at any time. Funky People Online is currently coordinating multiple travel groups for 2013-2014 and interest volume is expected to keep our staff busy over the next several months. Our 2013 provider, Friendly Planet Travel, is officially authorized by the US government to conduct "people to people" Cuba excursion tours & will coordinate all travel planning for us.