Despite U.S. warnings against travel to Cuba, a 130-foot American school schooner operated by Ocean Passages of Portland, ME, will sail this week from Washington, D.C. for an educational voyage in southern Cuba. On board the ship are U.S. crew and Gap Year students ages 18 – 24. The ship will spend a total of four months in Cuba engaged in ecological site visits assessing long-term sustainability.
The owners, crew, and students of the Harvey Gamage have carefully reviewed the U.S. administration’s recent travel warnings and are committed to continuing their mission in Cuba. The ship, currently moored at the Capital Yacht Club on the D.C. waterfront, will set sail for Cuba this Wednesday, October 25.
At an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday morning aboard the schooner, representatives of Ocean Passages and the students will discuss the value of legally authorized “people-to-people” travel in Cuba begun under the Obama administration. They will describe their determination to “stay the course” despite the Trump administration’s changes in U.S. policies towards Cuba. This marks Ocean Passages’ third consecutive year of student voyages to Cuba.
In addition, U.S. tour operators and Cuban experts will discuss the negative impacts of the recent State Department travel warning and other measures on educational and cultural exchanges with the island and on Cuba’s burgeoning small-scale, household-based tourism businesses. Speakers include Chase Poffenberger of Academic Travel Abroad, Bob Guild of Marazul Charters and RESPECT, and Peter Kornbluh, author and historical guide for The Nation magazine’s trips to Cuba.
After the press briefing, which is co-hosted by Ocean Passages and the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), the crew will cast free the dock lines and set sail for Cuba.