Invited VIP guests of the Catholic Church are being taken care of first and then they will release flights and hotels once those are confirmed. Commercial and chartered flights to Cuba are being added to accommodate the crowds which need to be approved by both governments.
The Diocese of Miami and New York are working with the Diocese in Cuba to put together separate trips of 100ppl each with the same agency we are using which is Marazul. Miami's trip info is here: http://www.miamiarch.org/ip.
He did however recommend that we keep our trip separate because it is much easier to maneuver Cuba and get better accommodations, restaurants, shows, etc... with a smaller group.
Ignore all pricing, itinerary and deadlines until we receive further information.
When will we get the final itinerary?
The agency called this week to tell us that Cuba's Ministry of Tourism said all of the hotel room prices will be going up and the prices will not be available until next week. (Capitalism?) They are are also waiting on the airlines adding additional flights because of the number of people traveling to Cuba for this historic event. We are told we should get a final price and itinerary by Thursday, January 19th.
What do I need to do beforehand?
Make sure to make plans to be gone during that time and have a passport ready to go. As a religious group the only visa/license we need is a letter written on church letterhead stating that we are traveling for religious purposes with an itinerary attached. Which means you are required by law to go to Mass. =)
How do I get to Cancun?
You will need to book your own flight to Cancun and arrive prior to our departure flight to Havana, Cuba. Currently flights on Priceline are starting at $650 from San Jose and $566 from San Francisco.
How many people are going?
The agency is putting together a package for a group of 20 ppl. Larger groups are too difficult to track and get reservations for restaurants and activities. Since we have more than 20 people interested in going we will accept the first 20 who pluck down their money. Additional people will be placed on a waiting list until we reach 20 ppl again and they will go as a separate group. Since you have expressed interest first, we will contact you prior to a notice going out to CatholicScoop.com subscribers.
Who will be our guide?
The travel agency will have a guide assigned to our group and we are waiting to see if Fr. Jose Rubio from St Joseph Seminary and SCU will be joining us as well.
Are any other groups going? Yes, the same agency we are working with is organizing a trip for the Archdiocese of Miami. See info here: http://www.miamiarch.org/ip.asp?op=Article_12169307777
Please remember to have a valid passport, prescriptions, etc... See http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g147270-c51376/Cuba:Caribbean:Things.To.Pack.html for complete list
We just received word that the Ministry of Tourism in Cuba has advised us that the hotel rates are going to be substantially increased because of the Pope's visit. Final itinerary will be available next week