Travellers to Cuba certify to their chosen carrier that they will comply with an OFAC general license category. Many of these include satisfying a full-time schedule of activities.
OFAC does not define “full-time” in terms of a specific number of hours.
Instead, it always relates it to a variety of activities in context with the nature of travel. As a result, there is a lot of speculation about what is necessary in order to be compliant.
There is mostly good news here, because only one category of authorised travel, viz., 515.565(b) Educational exchange: people to people, requires you to furnish to OFAC, on demand, a copy of your actual full-time schedule of activities.
(n.b. – OFAC does require all travellers to have available a copy of their financial transactions – see §501.601 Records and recordkeeping requirements, and §501.602 Reports to be furnished on demand.)
The first step is to determine how activities would be reasonably treated by OFAC. This is not difficult because OFAC precludes tourism, and therefore activities normally associated with tourism may disqualify an authorisation. Thus, “free time or recreation” cannot be compliant activities. Sleeping is not an “activity”. Partaking meals is problematic, but clearly can be a compliant activity as per the example at §515.574 “eat at privately-owned Cuban restaurants”. Meanwhile, activities associated with personal hygiene are not “tourism”, and would be reasonably excluded.
The next step is to record all activities and determine which would be compliant and which, if any, would not. Having completed this step, check to see if your activities were consistent with your authorisation.
At this point there are 3 options: The first is simple as your authorisation may not require a full-time schedule, eg §515.565 (a) Educational activities.
The second may require a full-time schedule, and not specify other activities being available, eg §515.565 (b) People-to-People travel (a subset of Educational activities).
The third may require a full-time schedule, and allow “free time or recreation” consistent with the authorisation, eg §515.574 Support for the Cuban People.
So what do we do when our authorisation does not specify other activities being available? The answer usually is “who cares?”
But to the letter of OFAC, if you stray from your authorised activities then you would be non-compliant.
Ok, what about when we have free time or recreation available as per our authorisation? The answer is to apply the rule outlined regarding your activities. To do that, add up your hours of compliant activities and, separately, your “free time or recreation” to see which is greater. This rule holds for all circumstances where traveller’s schedule of activities includes free time or recreation.
For example, a traveller on a cruise ship is in Havana port for 8 hours. S/he is authorised under "support for the Cuban people, so is allowed some free time. The first 3 hours is spent with a local tour operator before some shopping at privately-owned stores and later on taking dinner at a paladare. The last 3 hours is spent attending a show at Teatro Nacional de Cuba. So 5 compliant hours is greater than 3 hours of recreation and compliance is achieved.