Marazul has been arranging travel to Cuba since 1979. This year we celebrate 40 years! In that time, we’ve pioneered American travel to Cuba, and we’ve been at the forefront of the easing of restrictions. We’ve spanned  seven presidential administrations, have succeeded through low and high times, while maintaining expert service and excellent programming. Our history runs parallel to the fight for the right to travel to Cuba. Get to know us a bit better and scroll through some of our company’s & travel history highlights!


History as Dynamic as Cuba itself

President Jimmy Carter lifts the restrictions on travel (by putting all tourist travel under a General License). Young Cuban Americans in the Brigada Antonio Maceo travel to Cuba as an act of friendship and reconciliation.


600 young people from the US attend the World Youth Festival in Havana
Meeting in Havana, representatives of Cubans living abroad in the United States, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Mexico establish a Dialogue with the Cuban Government. Cuban American leaders establish the Committee of 75 to help push forward the dialogue.

This same year, Francisco Aruca and other Cuban Americans take part in a dialogue with the Cuban government. Upon returning to the United States, the idea for Marazul was born!


Marazul was founded by Francisco Aruca with three purposes:

  1.  Help Cuban Americans reunite with their Cuban Families
  2. Bring as many groups and people as possible from the US to Cuba to see Cuba firsthand, and to experience it personally.
  3. End the restrictions on travel to Cuba, leading to an end in the blockade

First-time regular charter service is established between Miami and Havana.


In response to the founding of Marazul Tours, the Cuban government founded the land operator Havanatur to provide the arrangements for Cuba Americans travelers, returning to Cuba for the first time since the revolution.


During this time, Marazul was the only travel agency sending groups and individuals to Cuba!


President Ronald Reagan re-imposes the travel restrictions. (Marazul continued to send group legally to Cuba, while always maintaining compliance with US and Cuba law.)


Marazul is subpoenaed by the US Treasury Department for the names of all Marazul Tours clients who had traveled to Cuba. Marazul refused and with the crucial assistance of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and the National Conference of Black Lawyers fought back and won in court.


Marazul is bombed for the first time — It would happen again in 1989 & 1996. Many other Cuban travel agencies would unfortunately experience that same fate as well.


Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba faced an unprecedented economic crisis, referred to as the “special period.” In order to grow the economy and continue their commitment to social programs, Cuba invested heavily in the tourist industry. New hotels such as the Melia’s & Parque Central were built. Under the leadership of City Historian Eusebio Leal, a massive restoration of Old Havana was undertaken, Cuba also opened the Latin American Medical School, providing free medical education to people across the world.


The Cuban Friendship Institute’s travel agency; Amistur, opens its doors! Marazul is their 1st US partner.


The World Festival of Youth and Students is an international event, organized by the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), a United Nations-recognized international youth non-governmental organization, jointly with the International Union of Students since 1947. In 1997 Marazul Tours worked with the prep committees for the 14th iteration of the festival which was taking place in Cuba, assisting those interested in traveling legally under a license.  The licenses were unjustifiably denied, but 900 unlicensed young people defied the restriction and attended the festival. It was the largest single travel challenge in US history. None of the 900 students were fined.


Pope John Paul II visits Cuba and calls for an end to the restrictions and US economic blockade.


President Clinton modifies restrictions allowing increased travel – but only under licenses.

1982 - 2003

Hundreds of universities, colleges and high schools, professional and cultural organizations, religious institutions and groups, and thousands upon thousands of individuals flood the Treasury Department with applications for travel – many enlisting the aid of their congressional representatives. Over 750 universities and colleges receive licenses.


OFAC under the direction of President George W. Bush, eliminated the People to People travel category, the 2nd largest category after family visits. Marazul applied for specific licenses for all remaining categories of legal traveled and continued sending groups to Cuba.


Barack Obama is elected 44th President of the United States of America


President Obama’s OFAC decides to issue a General License for Cuban American travel once every 12 months to visit ‘close’ relatives. This is the first action to broaden travel to Cuba in 10 years.


Members of the Congressional Black Caucus led by Congresswomen Barbara Lee visit Cuba and meet with President Raul Castro and former President Fidel Castro. Call for an end to the embargo and the travel ban and respect for Cuba’s sovereignty. Marazul Tours coordinated the travel of the Congressional Black Caucus.


Prior to meeting with Latin American heads of state – excluding Cuba – President Obama announces ‘new beginning’ of US-Cuba relations and orders opening of unrestricted travel by Cuban Americans to visit their close relatives. Revised restrictions are finally issued in September.


President Obama & President Castro announce establishment of diplomatic relations between the US & Cuba.


On July 20, 2015, the US Interest Section in Cuba resumed its role as the US embassy after the announcement of the resumption of diplomatic relations by both nations. US Sec. of State John Kerry was present at the ceremony.


President Obama, accompanied by his family, becomes the first sitting US President since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 to visit Cuba. This was seen as a momentous occasion and he was greeted as a superstar.


President Trump announces return on regime change policy towards Cuba. Announces the elimination of the individual category of travel, as well as announcing that the OFAC regulations would be updated later in the year.


Despite a change in US travel regulations, Cuba experienced a surge of tourism in 2017. They surpassed their goal of over 4 million travelers from around the world. . Marazul continues to send hundreds of groups and thousands of people to Cuba on educational, academic, professional, religious, health and cultural groups.


Cuba Receives Award as Safest Country for Tourism at FITUR 2018 — Cuba continues to be one of the safest destinations in the world for tourists!


Marazul Celebrates 40 Years of Supporting Travel to Cuba!!


Our professional, multi-national,_bi-lingual staff
invites you to travel with us

Bob Guild

Vice President

As a student and community activist in the 1960’s and 70’s, Bob Guild has been active in efforts to normalize relations between Cuba and the U.S. for more than 45 years. Bob organized the first legal tour to Cuba in 1978 when President Carter ended travel restrictions and he has continued to send as many U.S. visitors as legally possible after President Reagan re-imposed the restrictions in 1982. Over this time he has also lobbied and testified in Congress, spoken around the country, and co-chaired the National network on Cuba – all in an effort to help end all travel restrictions and the economic blockade of Cuba. When not obsessing on Cuba, Bob travels with his wife on trekking adventures in the Himalayas, the Andes, and Alaska and more relaxed times in India and Italy and as much time as possible with his grandchildren.


Mayra Alonso


Mayra was born and raised in New York to a Cuban family, with very strong ties to the island. She began traveling to Cuba as a young child with other children of Cuban parents, nourishing a love of her culture, which began at home. Mayra began traveling to Cuba alone in her teens, before beginning to work at Marazul, following in the footsteps of her parents, who themselves were active members in the solidarity movements. Having started at Marazul by filing travel brochures, to becoming their receptionist, she then later began working with the Cuban American community. She is currently one of the Directors of the North American Cuba Program department, not only assisting those with their travels arrangements to Cuba, but also with programs that involve Cuban academics, artists and athletes coming to the US. Mayra is the very proud mother of 2 beautiful little girls, who have carried on the tradition of traveling back to Cuba and maintaining close ties with their families.

Kendra Guild

Kendra Guild was born into Cuba Travel. Both her mother and father were involved in Cuba travel and the pursuit of the normalization of relations between the two countries since before the time she was born.  She has filled just about every position at Marazul since her start over 15 years ago, when she first personally fell in love with Cuba as a sixteen year old taking part in the World Youth Festival in Havana. However, her life has taken her in other directions as well. After graduating from Wesleyan University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English and African American Studies, she spent various years living in Guatemala, Italy, and Panama, teaching English and learning Spanish and some Italian. She again returned to Marazul in 2009 and during her time as Program Director, has helped to send tens of thousands of people on specialized programs to Cuba to see firsthand a country that so profoundly impacted her life so many years ago.

Luisa Sanchez

ASQ: ARC Specialist Qualifier

Luisa Sanchez has been with Marazul since February 1997 and is a certified ASQ: ARC Specialist Qualifier. She has over 18 years of experience in the travel industry, and shares a passion for travel around the world.  At Marazul, she organizes groups to Cuba, and specializes in flights and leisure packages, including cruises. Luisa enjoys reading and traveling, having travelled most of the Caribbean and South America.

Kirlian Calvet


Kirlian Calvet was born and raised in Cuba, graduating from the Universidad de Pinar del Rio in 1998. Her experience comes from her firsthand knowledge of the country, as well as from 12+ years spent working in Cuban tourism. To be closer to her family in the United States, she moved to New Jersey, and started her new role at Marazul in 2012. She currently works as a Marazul bookkeeper in the Accounting department. Her interests include exploring foreign countries and learning about their culture. Although she has left Cuba, she continually visits every year with her daughter.

Shayra Ortiz

Head of Marazul Operations

Shayra Ortiz started at Marazul 4 years ago, but has been part of the Marazul family since she was a young girl. She has worked primarily in the Individual Travel department before recently moving on to become the Head of Marazul Operations. This fall, she will be continuing her education towards her Bachelor’s of Science in nursing degree. Shayra enjoys spending time with her three kids, and traveling to the Caribbean, where most of her family resides.

Noel Morono

Travel Consultant Expert for Cuban & Cuban-American Travel

Noel Morono was born and raised in Cuba, graduating from the University of Pinar del Rio in 2000. He worked in the Electrical Enterprise of Pinar del Rio; he spent 7 years working in the Accounting Department. To be closer to his family in the United States, He moved to New Jersey, and started his role at Marazul in 2011. He currently works as a Marazul Travel Consultant in the Cuban American Department. His interests include exploring foreign countries and learning about their culture. Although he has left Cuba, He continually visits his family there.

Giselle Ortega

Account Manager

Giselle was born in Cuba and recently came to the United States. She has been involved in the Cuban tourism industry and has extensive experience and knowledge of her native country. While working in the Havanatur Celimar office in Havana, she was directly involved in creating and operating the various Marazul programs. Each of these programs represents her most  vibrant memories that she wishes for everyone to experience on their travels to the island. Working in Marazul gives her the opportunity to assist more people from the US to appreciate Cuba and for both countries to exchange and learn from each other. As a 100% Cuban, she loves dancing and music.