I got an email from Semester at Sea. The port of departure next January has been changed from Ensenada, Mexico to...
I was upset when I found that not only had they changed the direction my voyage was traveling, but they were changing the departure port as well. A cruise vessel registered outside the US is not allowed to begin the cruise in a US port, so the Spring voyage used to end in Seattle, and then they'd just move the ship up to Vancouver to start the Fall voyage (which used to travel the way I'll be going now). When they switched the directions of the two voyages, I couldn't understand why they'd change from Vancouver to Ensenada. The only thing that changed for Semester at Sea was the dates they hit those ports.
But do you know what this means? It means I save myself several hundred dollars in plane tickets and hotel costs just to GET to the ship, and it means my family can drive me over the border and see me off!
I AM HAPPY.
The other note in the email was a second itinerary change. We are no longer going to Havana, Cuba...we're going to Venezuela. I'm lukewarm on this. I'm happy to see Venezuela, but I really would have liked to see Cuba too. All the video footage I've seen of the SAS time in Cuba made it seem like a really neat place with really incredible people. Evidently, the US government is cracking down extra hard on all visits to Cuba from here on out. No more educational trips. No more visits by non-Cuban-Americans, and the Cuban Americans themselves, who used to be allowed one visit to see immediate family per year (immediate family, mind you...that means parents or children), are now only permitted to go once every THREE years...for a maximum of 14 days. Evidently it's to reduce commercial revenue to Cuba as much as possible to attempt to weaken Castro, when really it just makes the people even poorer than they already are.
Some politicians were really preening about the announcement: "Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Republican and Cuban-American from Florida, said Bush "is the best friend the cause of freedom for Cuba has ever had in the White House." Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also a Republican from Florida, said the measures "will rob the dictatorship of funds to further oppress the Cuban people."