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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
SHIP: My wife and I are experienced cruisers who have sailed throughout the Caribbean, to Alaska, the Mediterranean and also along European rivers on modern cruise ships of various sizes. The Louis Cristal sits firmly in the position of ... Read More
SHIP: My wife and I are experienced cruisers who have sailed throughout the Caribbean, to Alaska, the Mediterranean and also along European rivers on modern cruise ships of various sizes. The Louis Cristal sits firmly in the position of the worst cruise ship we have sailed. This is John Cleese's "Fawlty Towers" at sea! In effect, you don't realize until it's too late that this is a very basic cruise where you pay only for your cabin and meals, and then are nickel'd and dime'd for everything else, from bottled water, soft drinks, a rudimentary internet service, all the way to dining at the only specialty restaurant on board, the Alberta Steak House, which experience I had no desire to test. On the subject of food, the on-board meals are below average for what one expects on a cruise ship these days, being no more than basic cafeteria fare (surprisingly overseen by a French chef!). In addition, several passengers complained about the delays being served in the main restaurant. This is an older ship, although there are a lot of young, inexperienced staff sailing this route for the first time. Our young stewardess who greeted us when we arrived on board placed us in the wrong line for check-in where after a long wait, she was corrected by a supervisor and we had to join another queue. Timings and schedules were not well organized, and very few of the advertised times for events (including sail away times) were adhered to ... I guess the idea was to put everyone on relaxed Caribbean time. There was poor coordination between the ship's tour staff and the tour organizers in Canada in relation to prepaid tours, often leading to frustration on what should be an enjoyable Christmas cruise. This 1,200 passenger ship sailed from Athens over the previous 21 days with only 90 European passengers, and stopped in Montego Bay, Jamaica to pick up 45 mostly Caribbean passengers for the Cuba leg of the cruise. On the first night of dining in the main restaurant, all of the mostly Black Caribbean new cruisers were herded to sit together at the back of the dining room. Regardless of whatever reasons Management would offer for this action, it was insensitive, looked and felt awful, and was reminiscent of sailings from Africa to Cuba across the Atlantic centuries before, in one of the worse atrocities committed by humans against each other. Inherited prejudices die hard. Entertainment on board was generally of a mediocre standard, although the entertainment team that joined the cruise from Havana were quite good, featuring some excellent acrobats. Sassanya Dawson of Jamaica stole the show with her solo performance on Christmas Eve. CUBA On the other hand, the destination was a real eye opener! Any preconceptions a first time visitor has of Cuba are scuttled. On display was a poor Caribbean country that took on all the odds for decades and still excels on the world stage, whether in sports, music or exportation of health care workers to countries in need. There is a mystique about this geographically large country with wide expanses of beautiful countryside, and a high level of discipline amongst its population. Amidst ruins of once beautiful architecture is the national commitment to restoration, the out-pouring of a breathtaking culture of music and dance, and the impression that all citizens could articulate the national strategy for survival. You are drawn to discover and understand this country's history, and to observe its recovery. Visit the famous Tropicana show in its 75th year, and you find it impossible to believe that you are in one of the poorest countries of the world, putting on a world class display to earn tourist dollars to assist with its recovery. As the curator of the Museum in Santiago de Cuba told us: "Cubans have sharp minds, but empty pockets". RECOMMENDATION At the moment this is the only cruise that sails around Cuba and it is in its second season. If you don't mind mediocre quality, service and organisation on board, you can get by with this particular cruise. Or you can prepare yourself by managing expectations. However, this type of cruise ship is an anachronism in today's modern world. Cuba will soon open up to better quality cruise ships offering this type of exploration of the country. In this way, you will be able to see Cuba, a fascinating and historic destination, in the level of comfort for which the modern cruise industry has become known.   Read Less
Celestyal Crystal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates N/A N/A

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