Liveaboard Dive Travel to Cuba Legal for Americans
Cuba is open and legal for American tourists to travel & dive in Cuba as long as they comply with US regulations. In order to qualify to travel to and dive in Cuba, U.S. citizens are required to participate in an authorized program of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. All Star Cuba passengers will take part in an educational/conservation program in conjunction with Blue Sanctuary. Blue Sanctuary is a sustainability management program of Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina Marine Park (Gardens of the Queen). This program makes it legal for US citizens to dive in Cuba. Post trip, participants are required to retain his/her Travel Affidavit, passport and the humanitarian certificate of completion for 5 years.
Non-U.S. Citizens that are joining All Star Avalon II must also be in compliance with U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations. This means that even if you are a non-U.S. citizen you must participate in the same educational & marine conservation program.
Objective: To engage, while in Cuba, in a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities. Each traveler must have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.
The education/conservation program will include lectures and discussions with marine biologists, naturalists and marine park guides. While onboard guests will assist with projects including fish identification, coral cover surveys, tracking of sharks through photo identification, and diadema relocation efforts.
In order to qualify to travel to Cuba, U.S. citizens are required to participate in an authorized program of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. Blue Sanctuary is an approved sustainability management program of Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina Marine Park (Gardens of the Queen) under which All Star Avalon II operates. Workshop participants are required to complete section 515.567(b) of the attached Travel Affidavit and to bring it with them to Cuba. Post workshop, participants are required to retain his/her Travel Affidavit, passport and the workshop certificate of completion for 5 years.
Non-U.S. citizens are welcome to participate in the sustainability workshop program.
Blue Sanctuary's Guiding Principles
- To return benefits to the local Cuban communities in conjunction with the Jardines de la Reina Marine Park (Gardens of the Queen) authority in order to guarantee long-term preservation of the cultural heritage and marine resources of the natural area.
- To guarantee efficient, secure and effective management of the marine park’s operations including 1) limiting the number of visitors, 2) implementing a rotation system of utilization (dive, wetland, mangrove, other) sites and 3) diversifying the options of low impact activities for visitors. Overall this will signifcantly reduce the ecological footprint of the visitor operations.
- To support conservation through an alliance of sound management, efficient enforcement and systematic monitoring of the national marine park through a partnership between governmental and non-governmental organizations.
- To support research, monitoring, conservation and sustainable use projects carried out by Cuban and international scientists and conservationists.
- This workshop is open to people world-wide including Cuban citizens.
- Fly into Havana (HAV) or Camaguey Airport (CMW). Transfer to Jucaro must be arranged in advance. Greeted by local representatives and transfer to Port Jucaro and board Avalon Liveaboard.
- Introductory talk about marine park management hosted by a marine specialist.
- Dinner onboard Avalon Liveaboard.
Sunday to Friday
- 6:00am wake up call followed by made-to-order breakfast at 6:30am.
- During the day, our group will interact with our Cuban guide for a full day of activities on the reef and in the mangrove system.
- Guides will teach participants how to engage in sustainable sport activities and then allow time to enjoy and interact with flora and fauna within the marine park using stress-free, low-impact techniques.
- Participants will also learn the importance of the rotation system of the utilization (dive, wetland, mangrove, other) areas within the protected marine park. This will ensure that the fish and coral species remain unchanged in their natural ecosystem.
- Participants will engage in sustainable sport activities at multiple different protected zones each day. Local guides will show all the marine park scenarios.
- Participants will also learn about the areas where fish are able to reproduce, spawn and grow to their adult size and then take a population survey as part of the Fish Counting Project.
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight accommodations are included
- Travel from the marine park late day to Port Juraco.
- Overnight accommodations in port onboard.
- Transfer to Havana or Camaguey airport for return flight home. Transfers must be arranged and paid for prior to arriving into Cuba (preferably at least 4-weeks prior).
- Return home the following day depending on fight schedules and logistics.
Workshop Discussions & Topics
In the evenings, discussions will be hosted by Cuban marine biologists and head Cuban guides with your group. Below is a list of in-depth topics which will be addressed. Participants are encouraged to actively engaged in these discussions.
- Detail ways to maintain marine park biodiversity and how to provide refuge for endangered species inside the protected areas.
- Delineate the marine park boundaries and descrbe how rotation system of the utilization (dive, wetland, mangrove, other) sites work.
- Learn about the unique ecological aspects of the marine park and why it is essential to the reef and mangrove system in creating edge and spawning habitat for the entire spectrum of marine species in the Caribbean.
- Examine sustainable management and marine park law enforcement.
- Explain how to monitor and record different species’ behaviors, adding to the database maintained by biologists and improved upon through citizen science participatory methods.
- Delve into the importance of fish counting and species biodiversity surveys within the marine park to further scientific research and effective strategies within the marine park system.
- Analyze the value and importance of maintaining the local culture, economy and livelihood which are intricately linked to the marine environment.
- Share a report card of the marine park protection system implemented more than 25 years ago in Cuba.
- Gain a better understanding of why the park’s practices are internationally recognized as an effective tool to manage resources and biodiversity, as a result of ecosystems and habitats improvements.
Cuba’s marine park proves restoration leads to a healthy natural balance.
The success of the workshop and sustainable management program depends on the full participation by each traveler.
- The traveler has a duty to actively engage in the daily activities and discussions, so as to gain a deeper understanding of sustainability practices while working in this hands-on learning environment.
- Each participant has the personal responsibility to initiate, organize and execute daily activities to further the success of the workshop program, so as to make it interesting and engaging and to ensure sustainable management becomes a basis for ongoing education.
- This multi-cultural experience was created to encourage participation and to share diverse perspectives pertaining to environmental management and sustainable preservation between Cuban marine biologists, Cuban guides, international travelers and U.S. citizens.
- The workshops were created to further enhance research and conservation, while safeguarding these unique eco-systems.
The hope is Cuba’s marine park model will be emulated in other environmental management locations throughout the world.
Upon successful completion of the workshop, participants will receive a certificate from Blue Sanctuary.