Two weeks after German boater Roger Kluh broke the 57-year old speed run record from Florida to Cuba, an Americancharter boat has legally docked in Cuba’s capital city of Havana. It’s the latest in a long line of “firsts in God-knows-how-long” that has happened between the US and Cuba ever since America eased its trade sanctions against the Communist nation.

The easing of these regulations means that American charter companies can now offer charter trips to Cuba, something that hasn’t happened since the US enforced a trade embargo back in 1960. A Numarine 78 Fly charter with 12 American guests set sail from Key West, Florida, crossed the Straits of Florida before mooring at the Hemingway Marina in Havana. Those who don’t remember the origins of the frosty relationship between the US and Cuba may sneer at the importance of this event, but those who do remember it, including many in the maritime business, are calling a historical event, as well they should.

Pretty soon, more charter companies are expected to follow suit, particularly Florida-based companies that can now take full advantage of the tourism opportunities Cuba has for tourists visiting the Sunshine State. According to reports, other companies have received their licenses, including Carnival Cruise Line and Superyacht Still Water, which received its professional research license from the OFAC and the U.S. Commerce Department.

For now, American charter boats are the way to go, even though successfully acquiring permits to visit Cuba is still not as easy as many hope it would be in the future. Paul Madden, a broker from Palm Beach, waited for his permit for eight months before it was granted by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control.

None of that will matter, though, if America and Cuba continue down this path. Soon enough, we’re going to see the rise of tour packages that go from Florida to Cuba. That should be a boon for both countries as each try to get back in the other’s good graces.

Continue reading to learn more about the return of American charter boats to Cuba.

Why it matters

I don’t know if any of you have ever been to Cuba - I haven’t - but from what I’ve seen, it does seem like a beautiful place. At the very least, it’s a country with a great deal of history, for better or worse. Now, the diplomatic and political issues America has had with Cuba is way over my head, but from a tourist standpoint, I can’t think of any other place close to the continental US that would be as interesting to go to as Cuba.

For now, it seems that charter groups are the best way to go, even though there’s still a wee bit of red tape that needs to be done before getting the requisite permits to be allowed to make the trip.

That doesn’t matter to me because I don’t think I’m going to Cuba anytime soon. But just the mere fact that it’s now an option to go to the next time I take a vacation is reason enough for me to be excited about the chance to finally see why Cuba’s the kind of place that a lot of people who have been there make it out to be.

So let’s hope that the chance to go to Cuba remains for the foreseeable future. It would be a shame for Americans who would like to see it get denied the opportunity for another half-a-century.

Source: Yacht Charter Fleet

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