DENVER (CBS4)– Travelers from Colorado hoping to visit Cuba were told their trips would be rerouted this week. That happened after the Trump Administration added new restrictions for groups planning to visit the country.
“We had heard the news about the new travel restrictions to Havana but thought it wasn’t going to affect us,” said Gary Croshaw, a former Colorado resident traveling to Havana by way of Key West.
Their journey began in Port Canaveral on Monday and they reached Key West on Tuesday. An hour after their ship left for Cuba the captain announced they would change course to The Bahamas. Croshaw and his wife booked the trip just two weeks ago because of a promotion. The decision made by the Treasury Department on Tuesday bans some education and recreational travel as a move to punish the country for supporting opponents of the U.S. in Central and South America.
“There were a lot of people on board who were quite disappointed,” he said by video phone call while on the ship. “We very disappointed that we didn’t go to Havana.”
In preparation for the trip, the couple purchased visas for $75 and do not expect to get a refund from the Cuban government. They also scheduled an excursion on the island to enjoy Cuban cigars and rum. They will get a refund for that activity. The couple reached Nassau in The Bahamas on Wednesday.
“The whole purpose of the trip, the whole reason of the trip was to go to Havana,” he said. “Bahamas, that ain’t bad but it’s not Havana and that’s where we really wanted to go.”
Trips under the “people-to-people” travel policy allowed thousands of U.S. citizens to visit the country even before full diplomatic relations were fully restored with the government in 2014. It was the most common way for most Americans to visit Cuba. Private and corporate airplanes and boats will also lose the opportunity to travel to the island under the new rules.
The measure was a response to the Cuban government’s support of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Commercial airline flights should not be affected. University groups or academic research as well as journalists and other business meetings will still be allowed.
Other travelers in Colorado hoping to get to Cuba this week were notified their trips would have to be modified. The change took effect on Wednesday but Croshaw and his ship were still unable to get to the country the day before. He and his wife have kept their sense of humor despite missing out on their planned vacation.
“We were really looking forward to it but this trip, close but no cigar,” he said.