Let's aim for a trip to Cuba in 2021!
have been many rumors floating around about what will or won't be
possible regarding travel to dear Marea del Portillo, Cuba, this year.
I've been watching and waiting, not wanting to book another trip that
might be cancelled. As well, there were many unanswered questions
regarding isolation/quarantine due to the ongoing COVID-19 issues. Upon
return to Canada, would we need to hide out for two weeks? How would
testing factor in? What about insurance?
For most of the summer, Sunwing had been offering flights to Manzanillo de Cuba beginning in mid October. Some of my friends eagerly booked trips but I still had reservations. I felt that late November would be more viable. Then, October options disappeared from the Sunwing website and, not long after that, so did November. Their site is still showing trips available beginning Dec. 16 but I'm skeptical because I've heard from a trusted source that Sunwing will be cancelling all trips to Manzanillo (Marea), Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba for their winter travel season. Some of my early-booking friends have been advised their trips have been cancelled; others are awaiting what is likely coming.
Maybe things will open up by April 2021 but, of course, nothing is certain. There are still simply too many variables. Outside of Havana, Cuba seemed to be doing pretty well with respect to controlling COVID. Unfortunately, despite precautions, cases of the virus are now on the upswing in other provinces – mainly those close to Havana. Provincial borders have been closed to all except essential travel.
However, Cuba has cautiously opened the doors to tourism in "the Cayos" (islands along the northeastern coast), where the guests can be contained and not allowed onto the mainland; a plan intended to protect both foreigners and nationals. They are also providing free mandatory COVID tests to anyone entering the country and have other health/safety protocols in place. Sunwing and other major airlines are now offering travel packages to Cayo Coco, etc. and have added free COVID-19 insurance coverage. I suspect that Sunwing is planning to drop other Cuban destinations this winter in order to swing tourism traffic to the Cayos, so they're more likely to have full planes and non-discounted prices.
Since it does not appear that we're really out of the woods yet regarding COVID, either in Cuba or North America, I intend to keep watching and waiting. I most certainly HOPE to be able to travel to Marea in the early part of 2021! However, I've stopped anticipating a trip there this year, I'm very sad to say. If the stars were to align and an opportunity presented itself, I would definitely jump on a plane but, at this moment, I just don't see that happening.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for something to offset a potential Cuba-deficit disorder, I may be able to help. I've recently signed a deal to have my first novel published! Entitled, Cuban Kisses / Cuban Wishes, it should be out in November. It's primarily set in Cuba, at a fictionalized version of Marea del Portillo. I will send out a note when it's available to order through my publisher's website. The image below, which I shot at Marea a few years ago, is the template for the book's cover.