Local family starts travel company to Cuba
By Holly Campbell | WAYNE.com
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Amy Warren’s love for Cuba started in 1998. She first traveled there with her father right out of college to go scuba diving. It was a trip that would later turn into a career.
“We just had so many people ask for help on how to go and what’s the best way that it has kind of blossomed into its own element,” Warren said.
That element is Cuba Scuba, a local business started by Amy and her husband, Andrew. Warren said she was encouraged by her father to start the business.
“I love the friendliness of Cubans. It’s the happiest place in the world,” Bill Houghton said.
A place most Americans only had to dream about, but not anymore. Since the Obama administration loosened travel restrictions last year, Cuba Scuba has taken off. It’s the only company in the United States that is licensed to take divers to Cuba. Tourism and traveling for hobby is still illegal, so anyone going through Cuba Scuba goes for professional research. That means for divers they might be asked to review and map their dives. For non-divers, they might be asked to visit and review cultural attractions or interview locals.
“That’s because 13 years ago we published a book about diving in Cuba all around the island and so now people can travel, divers and non-divers and do an easy questionnaires and follow a shot list and that information that they return to us actually gets used for the second edition of the book,” Warren said.
That book Amy wrote more than a decade ago was so popular it was recognized by the Cuban government. Fidel Castro even signed a copy for her. She said the second book, with the help of travelers, will revolutionize the diving world.
“We’re able to go so much deeper in the level of information that we can share with others. It’s just really exciting to see that come to fruition,” Warren said.
A dream that started more than 12-hundred miles away in Fort Wayne.
“It’s just great to be able to do what we love,” she said.
Warren is taking two people to Cuba Friday. So far they’ve taken about a dozen groups since travel restrictions were lifted. Most packages through Cuba Scuba cost between $1,000 to $2,000, according to Warren.