PHOTO: Gabriel Rodriguez/Flickr

SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience Boosting Cruising in Cuba

American megayacht owners and charter guests keen to visit Cuba have an intriguing environmental-oriented option to explore. It’s the SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience, created by the International SeaKeepers Society. In brief, the program lets you visit Cuba and simultaneously support a SeaKeepers mission on the way there, in the country’s waters, and/or on the way back to the United States.

The SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience is a cultural exchange program, with “E3” standing for ecology, environment, and education. The SeaKeepers team devises an itinerary around the activities you’re most interested in pursuing while in Cuba, whether inland or in the water. You’ll then be paired with Cuban scientists whose ongoing research and expertise overlaps those interests. An example of a SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience encounter: assisting scientists with fish counts on a dive trip.

Last month, SeaKeepers staff members traveled to Cuba for an environmental conference and established first-hand relationships with a few key scientists. It was the first step in an ongoing effort. “We’re going to try to create long-term relationships with all the local scientists to say, ‘How can we legally help you?’” explains Richard Snow, president and CEO of the International SeaKeepers Society. That help can extend beyond participating in fish counts, he adds. SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience yacht owners and charter guests may eventually also be able to bring in microscopes or other equipment the scientists are permitted to obtain. “We want to help improve their lives, and we want to give our yacht owners and yacht charterers a really good experience down there,” Snow says.

Equally important, the SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience is devised for each owner or charter guest with the input of the law firm law firm Moore & Co. Moore & Co. knows what licenses and other legal requirements are specified by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, plus the U.S. Coast Guard. “It’s to make sure that the boat is iron-clad legal to go to and from Cuba,” Snow explains.

A number of yachts are lining up to take part in the SeaKeepers E3 Cuba Experience program. Later this month, Snow says, a 125-foot sailing superyacht is set to be the first to take part. SeaKeepers and Moore & Co. are additionally in talks with more than 60 yachts to travel to Cuba next year. The two are consulting with charter brokers, too. “There’s definitely a ton of interest,” Snow avers.

The bottom line for SeaKeepers is simple, Snow says: “What we want everyone in the U.S. government to become comfortable with is, if it’s a SeaKeepers mission going down to Cuba, they’re very confident we’re doing what they want us to do.”

For details on sample itineraries, or for further details, visit the E3 Cuba Experience section on the SeaKeepers’ website, or contact Carolyn Ruth Robinson at SeaKeepers.

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