I truly wish that Minne would stop declaiming on Cuba, it gets tiresome having to constantly correct him. Example:
I know its ridiculous, but they are allowing "cultural" tours, specifically and individually sanctioned by the Treasury dept to go and anyone can do this, if they have the money. However, getting one of those tours sanctioned is not easy, not frequent and it takes much more than a mom and pop travel agency to do it. i.e. The Smithsonian you referenced.
Completely and entirely wrong. I am currently working with two American women (i.e. a very small business) who did specialized Cuban tours licensed by the OFAC under the general license provisions (cultural, religious, sports, journalism, etc.). They recently received a 'person to person' license to conduct tours. Granted, it wasn't easy, but numerous travel agencies are now licensed to conduct these tours in Cuba. Any American wishing to pay the freight can go, just keep in mind these are not 'bar and beach' tours - you will have an itinerary and it will be a busy one. That's mandatory for these tours.
Anyhow, we hope to be able to offer sailing charters in Cuba, available to any American wishing to join us. The charter itinerary will offer a couple of days sailing out of Cienfuego, plus time in Havana, Marina Hemingway, Trinidad and/or Santiago doing the person to person thing. We also hope to be able to hook up with some Cuban dinghy sailors in Matanzas and perhaps have a small regatta with them there. Plans are far from final, but anyone interested can pm me.