Boating industry warns Cuba cruisers to ‘manage expectations’

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It has been well-publicized that U.S. boaters have the official go-ahead to travel to Cuba, but government authorization is just the first step for the “pioneers” who are opting to make the journey after the lifting of a half-century embargo.

“It’s not as easy as hopping on your boat and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to Cuba, and I’ll be back tomorrow,’ ” said Julie Balzano, export development director for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “There are still things they need to do so they can be legally and logistically prepared.”

Balzano was one of four panel members addressing the Florida Yacht Brokers Association last week in a seminar on Cuba. The discussion drew about 140 audience members who wanted to hear about Cuba, its infrastructure and the legalities of traveling to the island nation.

“One thing we talked about on the panel is getting to Cuba, and the fact they can do so by boat is one thing, but we wanted the audience to manage expectations and what they’ll find when they get there,” Balzano said. “Most marinas will be old and in need of repair. Provisions are difficult.”

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