Cuba welcomed first American yacht to dock in the island since the 1960s

Posted: 14-Aug-15 11:05

More American visitors are welcomed to Cuba, as last week a private U.S. yacht boarding 12 passengers arrived at Havana Bay's Port. The 'Still Water' is the first embarkation of its kind to dock in the island for over 50 years.

Cuba welcomed first American yacht to dock in the island since the 1960s

Following up on the several charter flights and cruise trips now arriving to Cuba from the U.S., the ‘Still Water’ docked in at the Hemingway Marina earlier this month, on 5th August, as the first ship of its kind to legally sail to the island in more than half a century of hostile relations. The 78-foot yacht transported three crew members and twelve passengers to the island, who were thrilled to get to know the Caribbean nation in person.

This trip hopes to be one of many more to come as the U.S. and Cuban government work to put aside their differences and work together. Since the embargo was implemented, in the early 1960s, unauthorised travel to the island has been banned. Today, although American tourism to the island is still prohibited by law, U.S. citizens can visit Cuba if they qualify under one of the 12 legal categories. The passengers and crew members boarding this ship were part of a ‘people-to-people’ exchange programme, which aims at uniting both nations’ by allowing their people to participate in cultural and educational programmes.

It took seven months for the U.S. to secure authorisation for this journey. Paul Madden, Palm Beach yacht broker who arranged the trip, and Jim Friedlander, president and owner of Academic Arrangements Abroad, a New York City firm that takes university patrons on small-group educational tours around the world, teamed up for this experience. Some of the passengers were eager to sneak a peek at Cuban reality, before it undergoes any drastic transformations, whilst others think about possible business opportunities.

“The genie of free enterprise is out of the bottle and it is a powerful genie,” Jose Viera, a retired senior Cuban diplomat, assured the yacht’s group in a private briefing.

However, the country’s infrastructure is not yet ready to accommodate the large number of travellers that would come to the island if American tourists were allowed to freely travel to Cuba; in terms of yachts, only the Hemingway Marina in Havana and a large one that was recently built in Varadero meet the requirements needed to receive upscale embarkations.

Once the visit is over, the ‘Still Water’ will sail north towards Europe. After leaving, travellers will cherish unique memories of experiencing Cuban music, dance, customs and values one-on-one.

Mr. Madden gushed the morning after the yacht docked;

"Right now I would think everybody wants to do this,”

“For Americans who would like to come here and have a totally different kind of experience, to be able to meet people and talk to people and then come back and enjoy their yacht, it’s truly the best of all worlds."


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