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Sail Date: April 2019
We are glad to find you all here, even if it's just virtual. I participated, together with my wife, on the cruise from 29.04 to 06.05.2019 with Celestyal Cristal. The only word that fits this cruise is "excellent" ... in all ... Read More
We are glad to find you all here, even if it's just virtual. I participated, together with my wife, on the cruise from 29.04 to 06.05.2019 with Celestyal Cristal. The only word that fits this cruise is "excellent" ... in all respects ... from boarding to disembarkation. The vessel is small enough, it is neither new nor modern, but that does not matter because this vessel has a team that provides the highest class service. First of all we noticed the cruise director Dany who made our embarkation to take place simply and quickly and after that he took care that the whole cruise unfolds in the most pleasant atmosphere. Dany is a complete man and artist, the heart of the shows every evening and the organizer of all the trips I participated in. He is indeed, as he says himself, like the Duracell Bunny, of inexhaustible energy. We was very pleasantly impressed by the simple organization and the impeccable development of shore excursions that were included in the program and in the price. The competence of the guides and drivers on the buses that have transported us was special. I have especially noticed the restaurant's chief of the ship, Mr. Adrian Zamfir, who does not resemble an ordinary boss wich is hiding in his office. This great man participates with his staff in the entire restaurant activity, having every evening some nice talk with every guest of the restaurant. He organized the most beautiful moments for most of his guests, including birthday parties for both adults and children. Reception at the restaurant and the showroom was always a pleasure in the presence of the hosts: Lisandra, Ori and Caroline. All the staff of these restaurants have competed in a nicer and most efficient service all over the world. On the whole cruise I have not seen anyone unhappy, but they all have only words of praise about the staff of the restaurants. We have been very good greatly served by Mr. Mohamad from Amalthia Restaurant, Mr. Adi Zaharia from the Fish Tavern and Didi Souschef from Leda Buffet. We remember with big pleasure of the activity of chefs from Chef's Corner, where every day you find only goodies. Drinks from all bars were good and well served. The entertainment was excellent, including two live shows a day, which often ended with generalized dance (artists and spectators). Very good were the bands that sang live at bars and swimming pools: "Trio Greco", "Souls Latin" and "Duo Jaleo". We was particularly impressed the performances presented in the evening. The artists involved here are complets: singing, dancing, doing acrobatics that sometimes seem impossible ... and everything is perfect in a show with the theme, it's not a random mix. A special mention for Maite, the "girl with the violin", that makes a special contribution alongside each band, improving the results. Note 10 to everyone. The most important advantage in this cruise was that almost everything was included in the price: Accommodation, meals, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, port taxes, service tax and 3 optional tours. The ports of call were excellent, and the time spent in each port allowed us to visit everything we wanted. I booked cabin 3101, a cheaper cabin, but I think it was the best choice. For how long I spent in it was perfect. Enough of space, endowed with everything that was needed, arranged and decorated. It did not have window, but the wall-painting had successfully replaced it, and the air was excellent. We did not feel the lack of window. I was very well served three times a day by a very careful manager. Towels and sheets have been changed regularly, all the toiletries provided ... all I needed! In the cabin, there were very few movements ... even in a bad weather and I always had a great sleep. We are particularly grateful and we promise to return, recommending this cruise to others. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
There was nothing to fault on this holiday. Very well organised indeed. Holiday comprised of flights from London Heathrow to Athens return, 1 night in Athens hotel, then 7-night cruise including 24 hours in Mykonos, 48 hours in ... Read More
There was nothing to fault on this holiday. Very well organised indeed. Holiday comprised of flights from London Heathrow to Athens return, 1 night in Athens hotel, then 7-night cruise including 24 hours in Mykonos, 48 hours in Santorini, a day in Milos, another in Herculaneum, Crete and concluding with a half day visit to Ephesus, Turkey. A really good itinerary on this cruise if you like the best of the Greek Islands. The flights, transfers and hotel accommodation were all fine (Stewart Travel, Glasgow). The cruise was exceptional. Mostly because of the crew. Small comfortable ship (800 passengers). Extremely friendly and attentive staff (nothing was too much trouble for them). This was probably the best cruise we have been on to date. We were given cards when we arrived which entitled us to free drinks (alcoholic and soft) which covered all but the luxury brands of drink (18-year-old whisky etc.). It was fine for us only requiring beer, baileys, wine and coffee. We did have a lobster dinner one night and paid extra for that, but it was well worth it! The food was excellent. Ranging from the ‘Al A Carte’ restaurants to the buffets and bars. There was a wide range of dishes and choices to suite everyone. We didn’t have one meal we were not impressed with. The staff are very attentive, we didn’t wait long to be served ever. The entertainment on the ship was constant culminating with the two shows every night. The shows were excellent and varied, the dancers and acrobats extremely talented. The ship photographers were also very helpful, and their work was memorable. The easy pace of the island visits meant you had plenty of time to explore each destination properly. We were lucky with the weather and had clear blue skies and 23-25c most of the week. I cannot stress the friendliness and helpfulness of the Captain and his crew enough! They were all charming, went to great lengths to ensure the passengers were always happy and content. The safety and efficiency of the way the ship was run was impressive for me as an ex-seaman. Everything was properly done (we felt safe at all times). We had a magical holiday and would recommend this company, ship and staff unreservedly, everything was perfectly organised. We would cruise again with Celestyal without hesitation. They are an outstanding company (extremely impressed). Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Hi All, My trip Aug 27th from Athens on the Crystal 7 Day Idyllic Aegean Cruise was beyond what I expected. With only 476 cabins this makes for a nice intimate group with no line ups. The extra pluses like all inclusive drinks, free ... Read More
Hi All, My trip Aug 27th from Athens on the Crystal 7 Day Idyllic Aegean Cruise was beyond what I expected. With only 476 cabins this makes for a nice intimate group with no line ups. The extra pluses like all inclusive drinks, free tours and no tipping quickly made this my top favorite cruise of all time. The guests themselves were 40-75 age group comprised mostly of Canadians and Europeans. No language barrier at all as the staff for the most part are fluent in 5 languages. Very few children which does not exclude families but there is not a huge children's program and the sheer amount of walking and exploring would be difficult for kids or seniors with mobilty issues. Having said that the ship herself does accommodate physically challenged passengers. The food was superb with a la carte and buffet style options. We had a pre reserved table every night and we loved getting to know the staff. The food was international style with a North American flair and every meal was different and presented in the most elegant way. They do offer upgraded menu items like Lobster and select wines but we didn't feel the need to upgrade. I can not say enough about the hard working and friendly staff. By day 2 they knew us by name and we were always greeted in a friendly way. The cabins were spotlessly cleaned and had all the special touches you would find on any other larger cruise ship. Towel service, turn down service, cute towel animals and chocolate on the pillows. Our cabin was a large picture window which was lovely arriving in each port. I would have upgraded to balcony except there were none to book last minute. The best thing about this cruise is that it actually overnights in many of the Greek ports which give guests a chance to experience day and nightlife without having to rush to get back on ship. It was great to be able to explore these destinations on our own. The tours were amazing and very informative, especially Turkey which was a wonderful surprise as we were slightly nervous about going there. At no time did we ever feel any port or locals were dangerous. Of course there were lots of vendors selling their wares and for the most part they were ready to bargain and the clothing, jewelry and trinkets were truly authentic. I would not travel in August again just due to the thousands and thousands of tourists in each port every day plus the heat which was in excess of 38C every day. I would highly recommend this cruise to any of our valued customers and do recommend a few pre/post nights to unwind before the cruise. I will be telling anyone who is willing to listen how fantastic this experience was. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose this cruise for its itinerary which started from Montego Bay, Jamaica, and circumnavigated Cuba, stopping at Santiago de Cuba, Havana, and Cienfuegos. The ship was quite nice, well maintained. The staff was very friendly and ... Read More
I chose this cruise for its itinerary which started from Montego Bay, Jamaica, and circumnavigated Cuba, stopping at Santiago de Cuba, Havana, and Cienfuegos. The ship was quite nice, well maintained. The staff was very friendly and helpful,the food was excellent, and the entertainment was outstanding. The included tours of the three cities, and the drinks package were good deals. The only extra expense was the $149 each cost for the Tropicana Club evening. That was actually worth it! The person-to-person enrichment lectures by a U of Havana historian were very informative. There were also documentary movies about Cuban history and Afro-Cuban music and dance. Americans received a certificate at the end of the cruise, which could be used to satisfy a current US Treasury requirement that travel to Cuba be for educational/humanitarian reasons. The ship was way below its capacity of 1200 passengers. While that is great for the passengers who are onboard, the company deserves more business, considering what a great time we had. I am happy to recommend this cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We liked this cruise because it was a totally Cuban cruise, in spite of the fact that it spent one day in Montego Bay to refuel and load supplies. Most of the other cruises we saw were Caribbean cruised that only spent one day visiting ... Read More
We liked this cruise because it was a totally Cuban cruise, in spite of the fact that it spent one day in Montego Bay to refuel and load supplies. Most of the other cruises we saw were Caribbean cruised that only spent one day visiting Havana. In addition, Crystal is a smaller ship which is great for embarking and disembarking. Our cabin was small but clean and our attendants kept the cabin very clean and were great offering to change our towels various times during the day.The food was good and the entertainment fantastic, among the best compared with Seabourn, Silverseas and Windstar. But what we mainly liked was the great service we received on board from the crew and especially from the Cuban members of the crew and entertainment staff that put on fabulous shows and also gave us great tips for onshore visits. The excursions were good and informative about the Cuban people, their music and arts but nothing exciting. Overall i would rate the ship and the service almost on a par with Seabourn, Silverseas and Windstar but for the cost-value it was definitely a 5 star. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The cruise was part of an all inclusive package from TripCentral. Most Canadians go to Cuba for the beach and then maybe fly to Havana. The Celestyal cruise offered an opportunity to see more of Cuba, from Havana to Cienfuego, then ... Read More
The cruise was part of an all inclusive package from TripCentral. Most Canadians go to Cuba for the beach and then maybe fly to Havana. The Celestyal cruise offered an opportunity to see more of Cuba, from Havana to Cienfuego, then Santiago plus a stop in Montego Bay along the way and we were not disappointed. The excursions offered a rich cultural experience. The tour buses were new and air-conditioned. The tour guides spoke very good English. The nightly shows, though not very elaborate, but were fabulous. The entertainment team and singer were all very talented. Each excursion was topped off with a stop at a popular bar and we were given free mojitos or margarita. The food in the ship was not 24/7 which was good because we did not gain much weight after the trip. I love the daily Latin dance lessons. The crew were friendly and very hard working. I would recommend this trip to anyone who would want to experience and see more of the Cuban culture. During the transfer from Havana to Veradero, our taxi broke down and so we were out there on the highway under 36Celsius heat. I was worried that we will have to wait a long time for a replacement taxi to come pick us up but another car came within 10 minutes and we still had plenty of time at the airport to relax and buy some souvernis. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This objective-chronological perspective of Cuba is provided by Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD , Havana University. Professor Arocha covered all important ports of call providing historical, cultural and architectural information in a ... Read More
This objective-chronological perspective of Cuba is provided by Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD , Havana University. Professor Arocha covered all important ports of call providing historical, cultural and architectural information in a colloquial manner . Each and every one of the towns visited was a vivid picture that solidified the historical, architectural and cultural presentations made on board. All shore excursions were perfectly geared to the presentation on-board, providing a platform for us to interact with the people, the music, the culture itself. This jelling experience is The Authentic Cuban Experience. As for the ship experience itself, I was pleasantly surprised. Dining Room Exp: Food was delicious and authentic. I really enjoyed my lunch and dinners, when time permitted, at The Almanthia. Jose Luis, "Rest. Captain" has a welcoming smile and handshake for everyone which makes you feel "at home". Monica and Luis are excellent members of the wait staff but they also have the quality of making you laugh, which is medicine for the soul. That's an A+ in my book. I must mention Edel and Ricardo, "Rest Capt." from LEDA Deck Rest. Also gracious hosts with a sunny disposition. Our Cabin was impeccable every day, with special towel art presented by Vivianne and Ernesto. (5th Deck) All special requests were acted on immediately. They both were so attentive, always providing service with a smile. Entertainment on board were spectacular, thematic shows, provided by a team of polifacetic artistic acrobatic-singers, MC'd by Danny-from Romania, Cruise Director. Based on this experience, I'm already planning my next Cruise with Celestyal - Crystal...Thanks for the opportunity to share, Kudos to these people who make cruising fun as well as a learning experience. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Wow, I have much to say here. The experience was a mixed one, but I got what I wanted to get out of the trip. No one goes on a cruise to Cuba to be on a ship, so I will cover the excursions first. I am a US citizen, so my itinerary was ... Read More
Wow, I have much to say here. The experience was a mixed one, but I got what I wanted to get out of the trip. No one goes on a cruise to Cuba to be on a ship, so I will cover the excursions first. I am a US citizen, so my itinerary was pre-planned as is required for the visa. Note that all tour guides were happy to answer questions, but they were well-indoctrinated. Coaches were clean and air conditioned and were like rolling castles compared to the life that the citizenry experienced. Throughout Cuba, you see crumbling homes and buildings with rusting corrugated steel. Be prepared for lack of toilet seats and paper everywhere, even with a 1 CUC restroom fee. Expect fees to take photos of almost anything, including the old cars. You will see music and dancing almost everywhere. The pride of Cuba is around their art/music/culture and it is deservedly so. Some of the other things that they are proud of is their social services, and that is probably misplaced from the view of western visitors. You won't see much graffiti. In the "tourist bubble" of coaches and tour guides, I felt safe all the time. Santiago is the first experience on this schedule, and it is a levelsetter for your Cuban visit. As you pull into the port you see the small boats and crumbling buildings. San Pedro de la Roca castle in Santiago is a must-see, as is San Juan Hill where I would have enjoyed more time. Additionally, in Santiago, you can get a guided tour of Moncada Barracks with a lesson on Castro, and see a community center with teenagers putting on a dance show. You may also be taken to a rum distillery that was pretty much worthless for me, an opportunity to separate your CUC from you. My suggestion: get rum and cigars in Cienfuegos on your last day in Cuba. 2 days or so in Havana. Old Havana is somewhat restored and is highly tourist-oriented, along with a price premium for everything. Some "fine" hotels and restaurants can be found, including a hotel where Hemingway stayed. Architecture is pleasant and wrought iron is beautiful (almost "New Orleans" level). You can find an edible meal with live music for lunch and supper. The walking tour was a bit rough on my 83 yr old father and after being shown the 5th city square/plaza, he was spent. I enjoyed the Craft/Souvenir market though most of the wares were not too exciting, the market itself is an experience. Must See's: Fusterlandia house (buy a tile if you can), Havana's art museum (no photos at all allowed), and the Cabana evening show (extra excursion). The cabana show was PG rated, but I don't think children are allowed.. the dancers were amazing and the band was as good as any US big band of old. Old cars with new engines are everywhere, we didn't take a ride as the coach had already shown us the same sights. Havana is worth experiencing and I feel like I just got a small taste of a complex, tragic, lovely city. 1 day in Cienfuegos Cienfuegos looks to be a resort town that has seen better days. We were given a bit of a song-and-dance about the government-provided pharmacy, food markets, dry goods, etc. We were again treated to a pleasant town square (which would be a good place to purchase cigars and rum, had I waited). We also were shown a city theatre building for what seemed like no reason. Must Sees: We were driven out to see a restaurant called palacio del valle that was picturesque. Finally, we hit 3 artistic spots, two of them that are worthy of leaving some money at...the most salient being the Graphical Society of Cienfuegos (works with down's syndrome artists). Crew and services First know that this ship employs MANY native Cubans, and they are rightfully proud of that. The crew on board the ship were friendly and helpful. I was happy with their efforts to keep things clean and to care for passengers. I purchased the full drink package. Drink and food service was very good. I never went hungry or thirsty. I did find that pleading for water bottles wasn't the most fun experience, especially if I wanted a few extra for excursions. I eventually resorted to filling up a thermos from the workout room's large water cooler. Stateroom was well-kept by maid service with towel folding art. The massage that I had was good-not-great. Meal service was great, the waitstaff were attentive, friendly, and well-informed about the options. I felt disturbingly guilty retiring in the evenings to a good meal after having seen the conditions in Cuba. Note that the ship's mixed drinks were not particularly liberal with the alcohol, but I could have as many as I wanted. The administrative staff at reception and excursion desks were also reasonably helpful. Cabin and amenities The ship is old and it shows. We did not have a good time with shower temperature. Additionally, having been on a newish RC ship with shower doors, the shower curtain clinging to my body was not pleasant. The soap and tray placement in the shower did not help things. Eventually I ended up showering in halves with one foot out. Other than that, the bathroom was as reasonable as any other on a ship, yet still old. Hint: take a shower at the gym/spa for some elbow room. The beds were twins/bunks with older electrical fixtures, but adequate. Cabin electricity was present, along with a reasonable closet, plenty of shelves, some drawers, and under-bunk storage. really only complaint about cabin was shower/watertemp. The pool was smallish for a ship and very few people used it, I did not. The hot tub appeared reasonable too. Though it was small, I did see people using it. Comments were that it was not particularly hot, but still acceptable. The casino was all electronic and was pretty empty throughout the cruise. The library was also empty. Decks and deck chairs were good. My phone (ATT) did get ATT at sea, but the other party could not hear me. Internet was not great, but it was available, I did not try it. Additionally, the internet area was near the smoking area, so some 2nd hand wafted over. One night, outdoors, I did clearly smell marijuana; this is not surprising as the ship sails from Jamaica. I am not sure if it was coming from passengers or crew, nor am I sure of the ship's policy on that as it is becoming acceptable in the USA in places. Entertainment etc. The "shows" were not good. Each night, was the same performers dancing and singing, and synchronization among dancers was not good. The band was also pretty weak. Intonation would be something that the singer and the sax player could learn. Thankfully, the shows were short (45 mins) and they all included scantily clad women so I was at least distracted from the performance. A few people would go up to the disco/karaoke bar later at night, but it was not exactly crowded either. There were also a few lounge-act type singers and a classical pianist. Some small classes which I'd say more like interactive "demos" were available such as food carving and napkin folding, and towel folding. Additionally some cuban dance and cooking demos. They seemed well enough for the at-sea days. In contrast with the dance/music shows, the ship had a cuban expert, a mid-30s PhD in Cuban history who was excellent. I cannot say enough good words about him. He gave daily lectures. He explained the history of how Cuba got to where it is today. He taught me much about Cuba and her international relations that I did not know prior to the cruise. Unlike the excursion tour guides, he was happy to answer ANY question, including difficult ones such as "Cuba gives every citizen a food ration card, but can the citizen actually turn that ration card into food?" His contribution made this trip very worthwhile. He joked that on one side he was being bugged by the CIA and on the other by the Cuban military; he presented Cuba in a good light with a balanced view. Other/leftovers: The excursions for US citizens are NOT resort-type excursions, do not expect to swim with dolphins, snorkel at a reef, or relax on a beach with umbrella-drinks at your demand. The excursions are primarily intended to be educational with a bit of tourist shopping, and for the most part, they were. On the excursions, do not expect any discussion about the missile crisis or GTMO. The shipboard "view" of GTMO was after dark and pretty far away, but it was lit up. Remember that GTMO is a huge military base and only a small part of it is the infamous prison. A family that had relatives in Cuba was able to visit them, and that family left all sorts of goods with the relatives, OTC meds, towels, shoes, t-shirts, extra CUCs, etc, if you are in a similar spot, you may want to do that. The economic situation is complex and troubling. It isn't as bad as Juarez with beggars on the street, but still difficult to see with our western lens, the tour guides and waiters earn more then the MDs. You may only exchange money at the ports, everyone says to bring Euro or CAD rather than USD, and I can agree with that, a few vendors accept USD and there is a premium for USD exchange to CUC. Do not expect an ATM or credit card acceptance. This trip had few teenagers or families or 20-somethings. It was adults and seniors. Spend the $12 at reception and schedule a bridge tour, it's worthwhile. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Our cruise was part of a package booked through Air Transat. We expected it to be a direct flight from Vancouver to Havana but instead we stopped at Santa Clara, got off the plane, and got back on to fly to Varadero. Then we were bussed ... Read More
Our cruise was part of a package booked through Air Transat. We expected it to be a direct flight from Vancouver to Havana but instead we stopped at Santa Clara, got off the plane, and got back on to fly to Varadero. Then we were bussed for almost three hours to Havana and boarded the ship after travelling for twelve hours. This is the fault of Air Transat, not the Cruise Line so I would recommend you look for a direct flight as you lose the first day of the cruise and miss out on the optional excursions that are offered. I was with a group of friends and this cruise exceeded all of our expectations. The food in the dining room was excellent, as was the wine, breakfast and lunch in the buffet were very good and there were specialties offered on the pool deck every day. The ship has a little age on it and is not as glitzy as the larger lines but we really liked the size of the ship and how easy it was to get around. It was also very clean. There is a lovely theatre where the entertainment every evening was outstanding and lots of fun. There were free excursions included in every port and they were very informative and enjoyable. I celebrated my birthday on the ship along with one of my friends and we were presented with birthday cakes and the singing of happy birthday by our wait staff. The same servers looked after us at the same table every night and we really appreciated that they went the extra mile for us and remembered that at the end of the cruise with a good tip. The pool is tiny with a retractable roof and was hardly used. I tried the hot tub but it wasn't hot enough for me. There was lots of entertainment like cooking classes, dancing lessons and games offered during the day. Please pay attention to the request not to put anything in the toilets, including toilet paper, as you wouldn't want to clog up the system. All in all, I recommend this cruise. It was one of the best cruise experiences I have had. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
My friend and I chose this cruise after hearing glowing reviews from another mutual friend who went last year. He said this cruise was a "MUST!". It sounded interesting from his description so we decided to go for it. I'm ... Read More
My friend and I chose this cruise after hearing glowing reviews from another mutual friend who went last year. He said this cruise was a "MUST!". It sounded interesting from his description so we decided to go for it. I'm so glad we did! We booked through Air TransAt as a package, and would hesitate to go that route again as we found they wasted HOURS of our limited time in transit from airport to the ship. Because of that, we had way less time in Havana (our embarkation/debarkation point) than what we expected, or could have had. Other than that, embarkation onto the vessel itself was smooth. Celestyal did its part right. The ship had pretty much all the amenities I required, and was kept neat and clean. The cabin was a reasonable size as long as you weren't planning on remaining in there (and who would want to do that anyhow?) It was well appointed to house your clothing with very reasonable hanging and drawer space, with in-cabin bathroom/shower, hair dryer. The extra electrical plug was 110 (bring a power bar for multiple outlets), and the hair dryer was plugged into what appeared to be a 220, so both were available. Room had a stuffed couch and chair, and small round table. No bedside tables, but lights over the beds. Mattresses were a bit hard for me, but bedding was otherwise very satisfactory. Housekeeping did a great job! Cleanliness was emphasized; staff sanitized surfaces daily; guests were encouraged everywhere to use hand gel. The buffet food variety and quality aboard was fabulous, as was the food and service in the white linen restaurants. The activity schedule was distributed to cabins the evening before. Programs were marvelous - lots to choose from - wine/rum/ouzo tasting, paper flower making, folding towels in a fancy way, learning how to cook Cuban cuisine, to learning salsa or cha-cha (or dancing in general in the lounges or disco), playing games, attending interesting lectures, listening to various musical ensembles, and seeing the fabulous shows (Cuban flavour) in the evening. The folks who were hired to engage people in activities, called 'animators', were amazing and really helped to mold our experience. Kudos to Martha, Vladimir, Sonny. I don't know how you can keep up such energy and positivity! There was no way we could be bored with you folks drawing us into activities! Also, entertainment boss Danny was incredible in keeping entertainment together. I don't know how many languages he speaks, but he could rattle off just about anything in at least five or six languages and was a well spoken, radiant and energetic host for the evening shows. Highlight for me was meeting the musicians and having had the opportunity to play with them! Thank you so much for your generous sharing: Juan, Lazaro, Nidia, Julio and Michel. The tours offered during the day were also high quality. All tour guides were very good and knew their history and surroundings well. Our tour guide in Montego Bay, Candy, was incredibly funny and had us all splitting a side. What a great tour! All staff aboard were courteous, helpful and very friendly. They all seemed to take a very genuine interest in your needs. There were only some minor shortfalls. For example, some water taps aboard in shared bathrooms were difficult to get the water flowing. Our in-room one worked fine. Another is that we had absolutely no idea how much money to convert. And while the ship cannot really advise that, what they might suggest is that if you're busy on bus tours, there really aren't too many opportunities to spend - at least, that was my experience. I'd say don't convert much - unless you know you'll be spending a reasonable amount of time in Havana. There is really not enough time in ports after leaving Havana to spend much, unless you maybe choose to tour completely on your own. Also, there are not many places that will take Visa or Mastercard, either, so don't count on your credit card - yet. (But you CAN use Visa, Mastercard, or USD$ easily enough on board by setting up an account with your all-important ship's card that you receive when you board.) Since we had a full day in Montego Bay in Jamaica and about 6 hours of free time, it was actually easier to get out and spend some USD$. I'm not a high roller. I took $100 USD and found that plenty, and converted $150 CDN to CUCs, which was more than enough for my needs - just little gifts and a drink out in a bar in Havana during free time. I'm a young retiree and traveled without children so I can't comment for parents, except that I only saw a couple of kids on board. I'd very highly recommend this cruise to anyone. For me, it was fun filled, educational, vibrantly cultural, and has given me many 'once-in-a-lifetime' memories. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Basically: Cuba has only moderately good roads; passable Chinese buses and long roads and distances. This is why it is fantastic to travel to Cuba by ship. You drive especially in the night and you have time in the day for sightseeing. ... Read More
Basically: Cuba has only moderately good roads; passable Chinese buses and long roads and distances. This is why it is fantastic to travel to Cuba by ship. You drive especially in the night and you have time in the day for sightseeing. The ship, the Celestyal Chrystal is a very good three stars - plus ship. After 41 years of cruising I can say that quite in comparison. If you are looking for a luxury vessel for a reasonable price, this will be difficult. In comparison (from cheap ferry boat to Queen Mary 2 in the "Queens" class I've already done a lot of cruises): great value for money and a nice ship. Pleasantly small; You feel partially "yacht-like". Ship well through and easy to walk through. What more do you want? We had a larger interior cabin (deck 3); It was relatively spacious with enough boxes and a desk. That the bathroom in this class is small, one must know and accept. The TV offers "exterior view" as well as ship and travel information; Unfortunately no outside temperature was displayed Friends were with us and had the newly built suite with balcony (deck 6). Very beautiful! And almost 5-star! In ship evaluations, three weak points were sometimes mentioned: quality of the meat, tightness of the buffet at the pool and long waiting times on "all inclusive" drinks. I can not confirm. Here the shipping company may have reacted: The meat quality is excellent; As at all the food is rich and tasty. There is a breakfast buffet in the restaurant and the top deck café; Lunch restaurant served or top deck buffet cafe; In the evening the same. In reviews it was criticized that the buffet is not 24 hours on duty; I found with these food amounts funny, because afternoon snack is also available! The "narrowness" of the buffet on deck I found not problematic, as it was only once during the trip the buffet as a BBQ outside the pool and the pool was locked. Otherwise, the buffet is at the upper deck inside and you can sit outside or inside and also the bathers have enough space. As for the "all inclusive" drinks, there is now the sun bars waiter, who can help and you can take the drink right away. Incredibly nice ship personnel; Both from the "ships crew", as well as from the restaurant service, bar service, entertainment team. In addition, a first-class professor was on board, who gave interesting lectures in English. The pool: well, adapted to the size. But you do not go on a vessel for swimming. Entertainment: an excellent revue theater on board; All great Cuban artists; Like a small branch of the Tropicana: dancers, singers; Show actors; Liveband etc. 5 different performances in 7 days! Very interesting lectures. The excursions - as always with cruises - quite interesting, although dependent on the quality of the respective guide. Cuba is a friendly and safe country. One can see much, especially In Havana on foot. Many interesting museums; Also the Museo de la Revolucion! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2016
Super cruise. Lovely boat with superb crew. The company looks after their clients with care and respect. Of course there is some ground for improvement concerning embarkation/disembarkation procedures but I guess these are restricted by ... Read More
Super cruise. Lovely boat with superb crew. The company looks after their clients with care and respect. Of course there is some ground for improvement concerning embarkation/disembarkation procedures but I guess these are restricted by the port authorities; out of the company's controls.Furthermore, It would be advisable to have a kind of "business class" arrangements for such passengers. Some passengers travelling in groups appeared to fail to respect the ship and its procedures, hence causing certain problems. The cabin we had was very nice, cleaned twice a day and quiet. The stewart was very nice, polite and extremely helpful. In some destinations some more time ought to be allowed, e.g. the islands of Symi and Chios. The dining was next to none. The entertainment and activities were very well thought, organised and performed. My wife and I will go back to a Celestyal cruise next year. We had a lovely time. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I personally loved this cruise! The crew were excellent, the entertainment was great, the excursions were great too. I loved everything about the cruise. We had an Olive Oil thematic. This meant a few interesting presentations by an ... Read More
I personally loved this cruise! The crew were excellent, the entertainment was great, the excursions were great too. I loved everything about the cruise. We had an Olive Oil thematic. This meant a few interesting presentations by an olive oil expert (GAEA) , a food blogger (https://www.facebook.com/cookandfeel.gr/?pnref=lhc) and an archaeologist that worked on olives too. All three were amazing at what they did and it made for an interesting and informative. Of course that also meant food tastings that were excellent. Then every night we had a dance troupe (Cirque Fantastic) that always gave an amazing show, with a different theme every night. I'm not even a fan of these shows but they kept me coming back every night. The excursions were great too. You have a few that you can do without the cruise excursions, and a few that you really need the guide to get the full experience. The crew were very helpful in showing us what what on each excursion so we could make our minds about which to take. The animation crew were just phenomenal, and less obvious but the entire support staff did a wonderful job. The ship is smaller and older that a luxury cruise would offer, but I didn't care much for that, what I remember are the great experiences we had on board and at all the stops. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Cruising the greek waters in summer is always a great pleasure for me.This is classical cruising ald style, when the pleasure of the destinations,the symbiosis with sea and sorrounding nature were paramount.If you want a luxury cruise on a ... Read More
Cruising the greek waters in summer is always a great pleasure for me.This is classical cruising ald style, when the pleasure of the destinations,the symbiosis with sea and sorrounding nature were paramount.If you want a luxury cruise on a superliner or a "sterylized "ambiance don't ever think about booking with Celestyal . If you want an old fashioned ( but clean and updated ) ship and love to experience a classical cruise on Greek islands this is for you.The ambiance is greek, it is exactly as vacationing in a greek island, greek atmosphere,greek music,greek food. In a 7 days cruise you get 10 destinations, the ship is nearly always at pier. And yes, there's also smoking people onboard ( but you can manage not to be disturbed by this,there are separated areas : here EVERYTHING is authentic, as is ashore ). NOTHING is similar to big american style mainstream cruise lines except kindness of the crews ,cleanliness of the ships and freshness of the food ( no,this is much better,everything is embarked fresh in many of the ports visited ) . And nothing is specially geared to american tastes : why it should ? This is Greece, not America ! At least, this is what I enjoy while travelling : the differences ! I want all true American...in America ! Wonderful and enjoyalble cabaret style evening entertainment ( they really exceeded my expectations who were adeguate to ship's style,simple ) and lot of music to dance : in a word, fun ! I was SO happy at the end of the cruise that I already booked same cruise for 2017 : there are so many beaches, so many activities , so many true and authentic experiences that awaits you in these islands that you could easily repeat this cruise every summer . I nearly forgetted has was pleasurable cruising in the 70's,80's etc. on reals ships, not on standardizex condominum-styled Hyatt-like ships. Enjoy. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We choose this cruise as I had done the same cruise on the Crystal eight years ago and wanted to share the experience again with my partner as it was the most amazing experience. We have both cruised many time with other companies in the ... Read More
We choose this cruise as I had done the same cruise on the Crystal eight years ago and wanted to share the experience again with my partner as it was the most amazing experience. We have both cruised many time with other companies in the last eight years. We were very disappointed!!! The ship is quite shabby now, the entertainment in the evenings is very poor and never starts on time.there is no place for non smokers to relax without getting poisoned by the smoke, it is every where. No problem at all with the Itinerary as all the ports are really worth visiting. The cabin staff and the waiters at dinner could not be faulted! Perfect manners and decorum with friendly engaging personalities. Dinner in the evenings was an absolute high light for us. Our initial allocated cabin was definitely not for us. The reception did help us to upgrade though at a cost of another 500 euro (possibly our travel agents fault rather than Celestyal) Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This cruise was part of a guided tour with a large international tour company. We started in Istanbul for a few days before joining the cruise when it arrived in Istanbul from Athens. As part of a larger group our on-shore excursions ... Read More
This cruise was part of a guided tour with a large international tour company. We started in Istanbul for a few days before joining the cruise when it arrived in Istanbul from Athens. As part of a larger group our on-shore excursions were organised by our tour director and we had no problems at all. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our outside cabin with window. It was larger than I had expected and the bathroom was a decent size too. We had plenty of storage in the way of wardrobe and cupboards. The only issue we had was the the bed was too low to store our empty suitcases underneath. We were on deck 5 which has an outside walkway that goes around the entire ship so we did have people walking past our window from early in the morning but the windows are mirrored so the room is still very private with the curtains drawn. There were two choices for eating; the buffet or the dining room. The buffet food was decent and plentiful if you ate early though it was never hot only warm. The al a carte in the restaurant was tasty though there is a limited menu choice. You could have breakfast in either the buffet or restaurant. I didn't attend any of the shows but was told that they were entertaining though not very professional. There are plenty of bar areas to enjoy; around the pool, indoors or at the rear of the ship on deck 5. As a smoker I spent most of my time at the deck 5 bar as it was one of the few places I could drink and smoke. The staff were all absolutely wonderful and very helpful with any requests we had. Our room stewards kept our room clean and neat. As the crew come from all over the world there are many new friends to be made if you enjoy learning about other countries. Watching the ship dock in the early morning was one of my regular highlights and the other was the sunsets. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We wanted to sail the Aegean and visit Istanbul and Ephesus, and this was the perfect cruise. We sailed from Lavrion, which is about a half-hour from Athens Airport. It's far-less crowded than Piraeus, and our embarkation was fast, ... Read More
We wanted to sail the Aegean and visit Istanbul and Ephesus, and this was the perfect cruise. We sailed from Lavrion, which is about a half-hour from Athens Airport. It's far-less crowded than Piraeus, and our embarkation was fast, easy and stress-free. The Crystal is a lovely ship, spotless, with plenty of great open spaces. Our cabin was on the 7th deck, so we had a view! It was small but comfortable and cozy, and the housekeeping staff checked in and put everything in order twice a day - they were absolutely lovely. We enjoyed the food immensely - it was delicious. The buffets were endless and offered plenty of healthy options, and we loved the restaurant, the Amalthia, particularly after a hot active day - it was elegant without being stuffy, and the staff was wonderful, particularly as we usually had an exhausted five-and-a-half year-old with us. As for this particular five-and-a-half year-old, the activities were great (paper flowers, fruit carving), as was the music, both Greek and Latin - he was constantly dancing. The service was impeccable - we felt like royalty, and everyone was fantastic, and genuine, with our son. We did and saw so much, and it was organized and safe. Our stops included Istanbul, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Chios, Santorini, Rhodes, Crete (Agios Nikolaos and Heraklion), Symi (incredible!) and Mykonos. The highlights? Oia in Santorini, Knossos, Old Rhodes, Mykonos Town, Symi and the villages of Mesta and Pyrgi in Chios, hidden spots that astonished everyone on our excursion. Back on board, the gym and sauna were great. Would we go again? Absolutely! Opa. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Did deceide for this cruise because of the destinations (Greek Islands Mykonos, Santorin, Simi, Chios, Crete, Istanbul and Kusadasi - Ephesus). Did know that the ship was a bit outdated and could coop with that. - Cabin was ok, but ... Read More
Did deceide for this cruise because of the destinations (Greek Islands Mykonos, Santorin, Simi, Chios, Crete, Istanbul and Kusadasi - Ephesus). Did know that the ship was a bit outdated and could coop with that. - Cabin was ok, but bath room a bit small and aged. Cleaning staff did a great job. - Service in the Service Restaurant (not Buffet Rest.), Bars was very good. Reception people where a bit cool. - Entertainment and shows where ok (opinion of myself as a german !). - Small covered pool, surrounded by tables (part of buffet restaurant) not too nice. - Expensive wellness area. Gym equipment could be better. - Enough room to relax away from bars. Not good: - Safety drill after embarkation in Rhodes was a joke!!!! It took place in the show lounge. How to wear the life west and were to find the meeting spots was all! No assembly at the dedicated areas, no calling of names. - Pollution!!!!!! Everytime after leaving the harbours and switching to cruide oil it did rain "Tar - Flakes" on the rear decks. Not to mention the a mount of smoke and Co2 all over. Even the air con did blow smoke into the cabin. - The offer of the selfservice buffet was below average. Very little taste and vegetables out of cans. Breakfast buffet was acceptable. Restaurant feeling was like in a canteen. We had always dinner in the service restaurant which was quite good incl. the staff. - We took the optional "Drink Package with alcohol". Was a bit disappointing as only one choice of red/white (by the glas) house vine was included as well as just standard drinks/cocktails. No fresh juices and "Cocktails of the day" included. Water in the cabin one had to pay for. - We only booked one excursion, Ephesus. With 68 € p. person expensive; however we had a guide and an exciting tour. But, after 1 1/2 hours sightseeing we ended up in a carpet store and have been bored by a sales event. A nightmare!!! 1 1/2 hours of suffering. Paying for the very interesting Ephus excursion is ok but sponsering a carpet dealer is a shame! Read Less
63 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
My wife and I have been on more than 70 cruises and have lived/worked in or visited 108 countries around the world. We are Elite and Diamond Plus Members with several major ocean cruise lines. We have been on several river cruises and ... Read More
My wife and I have been on more than 70 cruises and have lived/worked in or visited 108 countries around the world. We are Elite and Diamond Plus Members with several major ocean cruise lines. We have been on several river cruises and land tours. Our recent voyage on the Celestyal Crystal was surprisingly pleasant. We were traveling with two other couples, and all agreed that the experience on the cruise ship was much better than expected. We thank the staff for their commitment and service. Cabin Accommodations: We had an deluxe outside cabin near mid-ship. Our cabin steward did an excellent job in cleaning the cabin. We experienced a problem with our air conditioning unit on arrival. The problem was addressed immediately. However, the resolution was not as we expected, and the engineers returned to make more adjustments, and the room was much more comfortable. While the cabin was a bit smaller, it was adequate to accommodate the eight-day cruise. The closet space was adequate, but the desk and bathroom were a bit small. Food / Service: The food served onboard was very nice. I prefer VERY spicy dishes that were not available, but there was always a selection that was acceptable. The selections were limited, but there was something that our small group of six found appealing and acceptable. We received EXCELLENT service at our dinner table from I Deket and at our morning buffet from Vinen. They were exceptional in managing our dining table and the buffet bar. Bar / Service: We had an unusual bar package that was arranged by our tour operator (Legendary Journeys). For a single fee, pre-paid before boarding, we were able to have unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (including coffee drinks) throughout the cruise. This option was a fantastic bargain for our small group of six: we had cappuccino and espresso in the morning, a beer in the afternoon and a few glasses of wine in the evening - a great bargain. All service personnel were excellent. However, two bar service personnel were outstanding: Alberto (Cuba) in the dining room was very responsive, and Maya (Ukraine) in the bar was especially friendly and efficient. If you meet them on board, I recommend you reach out to them for services. Internet: Both my wife and I signed up for 3-hours o internet connectivity at a price of $24 each. That was a great bargain for the 8-day cruise. I actually left 30 minutes unused on disembarkation. The speed was excellent, and I had little problem connecting to all my sources. The reception was very helpful in sharing instructions on how to sign-up for the service, log in and logout of the internet service. While I have 110Mb down at my home, the speed of the internet onboard was quite acceptable. Reception: I do not often comment on my interaction with the Reception / Purser Desk, but I have to say that Oana Rosu (Ukraine) was the most valuable staff member I met onboard the Celestyal Crystal. She was ALWAYS responsive to my inquires and accurate in guiding my actions. Oana’s commitment was quite obvious. It was her help that I will be most thankful and remember the Crystal Cruise Line. I think you will all the Reception Desk staff to be helpful, but Oana has a special commitment to helping passengers. Entertainment: There were many opportunities to stay for shows in the evening, and we did stay for several. Most often, we do not find the shows to be very interesting. However, the ship performers were committed to demonstrating some of the Cuban dance and song. They did a very fine job, and we enjoyed the shows we attended. Tours / Briefings: Our tours were arranged through the People-To-People Program. In most cases, we were very pleased with all tours and tour guides. It was the first opportunity to revisit some of the history from our young adult life. The tour guides in Santiago de Cuba, and Havana did a fantastic job reflecting on the history of the events of each location. The briefings we received from Jorge, a university professor were especially interesting and insightful. He was candid in speaking about the past and frank about the challenges of the future of the Cuban people. We truly enjoyed his presentations. Summary: Evaluate your expectation. If you want to see a Cuba that is emerging from the impact of a socialist economy - hurry, it is changing. If you want to see a Cuba of transition, wait another five years to arrange a visit. If you expect to see a fully restored relationship with America, wait ten years to visit Cuba after restoration is well underway. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
There are pros and cons to this cruise and line Pros: People to People lecturers from Univ of Havana onboard ship were very informative Troupe of 12 entertainers were all high quality, as were were their nightly shows Cruise ... Read More
There are pros and cons to this cruise and line Pros: People to People lecturers from Univ of Havana onboard ship were very informative Troupe of 12 entertainers were all high quality, as were were their nightly shows Cruise Director Danny was great Most crew members nice and helpful Cons: cabins basic, ours an XE food mediocre...mystery fish at lunch and dinner, all meats dry and overcooked some of Greek crew members rude, Shore excursion desk rarely manned, so hard to get questions answered, especially for mobility impaired, as to what we could expect on each city tour Contracted food poisoning last dinner which hit at end of flight home, noro virus ( suspect mystery fish) but nowhere to report it as weekend and only way to report it by phone. Lost 10lbs and still weak 48 hours after...As you know, there is nothing to eat on flights. Had to be from cruise food,within 24 hours after last dinner onboard...what a send off. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Eight retirees including our travel agent who arranged the entire expedition took this cruise as part of the "Authentic Cuban Experience Program" in hopes of taking advantage of recently relaxed guidelines for such things. We ... Read More
Eight retirees including our travel agent who arranged the entire expedition took this cruise as part of the "Authentic Cuban Experience Program" in hopes of taking advantage of recently relaxed guidelines for such things. We also wanted to get to Cuba now in the event that the possibility might close in the near future. I don't have anything to compare our trip to as this was our first cruise. I really didi not know what to expect but I need not have worried. I would be hard pressed to find any real complaints about the ship, the food and beverage, or the tours we participated in. The whole trip was a good introduction both to cruising and to Cuba. I'm sure we just skimmed the top layer in both regards. Our inside cabin amidships was perfectly adequate to our needs with good storage, good lighting and excellent care from the cabin steward. Even the necessarily smallish washroom was adequate for my tall, somewhat wide person. There was an sign on the commode that led one to believe that NO paper of ANY kind should be flushed. I'm pretty sure they meant that no trash paper or packaging should be flushed but it was unclear. We flushed TP which I hope was OK. Our cabin steward put out whimsically styled pool towels in the form of swans, snakes and starfish nightly. Very fun. He was in the room at least twice per day with cleanup and turndown activities. Very personable. Meal choices were plentiful and generally very good. We mostly used the Leda Buffet for breakfast and lunch and used the Almathia Restaurant for those evening meals we ate aboard. The chef and his staff graciously organized a special anniversary surprise for one of our couples. We were delighted that it could be accommodated. We enjoyed having the magnetic swipe card for drinks and the like although each of us mislaid theirs a one time or another. The cashless nature of ship board purchases was welcome. The evening entertainment in the Muses Lounge each night except dark Monday were varied and well performed by the resident performers. Each night was a different theme and they all managed to work in some very fine aerial work by several of the performers. Some of the storylines were thin, but the performances were enthusiastic and enjoyable. The ACE Program was led by Cuban national Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD, from the University of Havana and Lecturer of Cuban History and Culture. His multiple presentations over a variety of topics was well-ordered and most informative. He went out of his way to inform his audience. He also accompanied a couple of our tours and was available for Q&A during them. We enjoyed meeting him. We also had several other tour guides on our busses who had varying levels of skill but were informative nonetheless. Our shore excursions were kind of a mixed bag. Much time was spent on very nice tour busses but often we would ride for a long time to only have a short time at the specific attraction. It felt a bit rushed. Disappointing that in Santiago de Cuba we could not gain access to the central plaza due to New Years Eve preparations. We were glad that once we got to Havana, we did have some spare time to just wander on our own for several hours over two days. We were able to get to a couple of local restaurants and bars, toured Castillo de La Real Fuerza and several other locations. Unfortunately we were unaware that most museums are normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and so we were shut out of a couple we would have liked to see. Much was closed for New Years celebrations as well. We enjoyed our first taste of cruising and will definitely consider doing another in the near future Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Note: This review will be written from the viewpoint of an American traveller. I note this due to the unique situation of Americans travelling in Cuba. First a little background, my wife and I are very experienced cruisers. We have ... Read More
Note: This review will be written from the viewpoint of an American traveller. I note this due to the unique situation of Americans travelling in Cuba. First a little background, my wife and I are very experienced cruisers. We have lost count of the number of cruises we have taken. We have been on many lines. While we like some ships and lines better than others, we have never been on a cruise we did not enjoy. We do not like to nitpick cruises, and we try to avoid passengers who do. We look for the positives, of which this ship and its educational program had more than can be mentioned in a short review. If you are an avid Cruise Critic reader, you will note that this ship gets very spotty reviews, at best. CC says something like “57% loved it”, a very low score. Be advised that the reviews need a much closer reading, however, as the rating is a composite score for the Mediterranean and Cuban cruises. A close look shows that, while the reviews in the Mediterranean are not very good at all, the reviews while in Cuba are generally quite good. Perhaps it is due to the Canadian management while in Cuba, but not while in the Greek Isles? The strong Cuba cruise reviews made us take a look at their pricing. Cuba Cruise prices are per cabin, not per person, so the prices are much lower than they appear at first glance. In addition, the prices are quoted in Canadian dollars, so take about a 40% discount if paying with American dollars due to the present rate of exchange. If you do the math, this is a very good deal for Americans in particular. With an exceptional itinerary, good prices, and strong reviews we booked. The booking experience will give you the impression that this company is a small operation and is learning as it goes. I think that is an accurate appraisal, but the experience was easy and personal. Do your homework before leaving! Cuba is a very different country to tour, so read up on those differences. As an example, you will need to bring cash to use in Cuba, as credit cards are useless. Here’s a tip: See if your bank can get you Canadian dollars without charging an exchange fee. In Minnesota, this was easy to do. American dollars have a surcharge in Cuba. Canadian dollars do not. Take Canadian dollars to use in Cuba, if possible. Once booked with money in hand, it is strongly recommended that passengers come into Montego Bay a day early. Montego Bay is the only departure port that makes sense for Americans for a variety of reasons. We decided to come in a day ahead to avoid possible weather issues. We were fortunate we did as our plane was diverted to Atlanta due to mechanical trouble. We arrived in Montego Bay very late and would have missed the cruise had the event occurred on the day of sailing. Over twenty cabins sailed empty due to weather delays, etc. The cruise line bears no responsibility for such cases. Also, there is no easy way to go from Montego Bay to Santiago de Cuba to catch up to the ship, so you are just out of luck in such situations. Take out trip insurance, which is also required by the Cuban authorities. Boarding in Montego Bay, rather than Havana where the Canadians and Europeans board, is actually a distinct advantage. By boarding in Montego Bay, you will have two full days in Havana, perhaps the most interesting city we have ever visited. Travellers boarding in Havana lose valuable time there due to flight connections, unless they come in early and have an extended stay. Most such travellers had only one full day there, which was unfortunate for them. If you do come in early, Khastle Khodero in Montego Bay is strongly recommended for your stay. Embarkation was easy. Actually all of the housekeeping issues were well handled. Even the Internet was above average in speed and cheaper than other lines. All shipboard matters are handled in US dollars, by the way, so you will need your credit card. You will be going back in time while in Cuba, so the Celestyal Crystal matches that theme perfectly. It is an old NCL ship with a most interesting history. Google it and be amazed. The Crystal has no ice rink, climbing walls, ice bars, artwork, or even an atrium. You will find no mints on your pillows. What you will find is a meticulously maintained, attractive small ship. Cabins are comfortable. The staff is stellar. You will love your fellow passengers and, due to the ship’s size, you will often run into your new friends. By the way, our positive outlook on the ship and the experience seemed to be shared by virtually every passenger we encountered. Food on board was good to excellent. The ship has gone to great lengths to bring the Cuba experience on board with an array of Cuban treats at all meals. Every passenger gets caught up in questions about comparing food on lines, so take the following with a grain of salt. We thought the food was somewhere between NCL and Celebrity without factoring in the Cuban influence, which made the dining very interesting. Cuban dancers and singers provided the entertainment. They were very good. There is other musical entertainment on board that was also quite good. A special mention goes out to Danny, the cruise director. This fellow is pretty amazing. Americans are required to attend the People to People program while on board. Tours are also through this program. The shipboard portion of it was unbelievably good. Although for Americans, anyone can attend these presentations and many non-American passengers helped enliven our discussions. I learned more in two days than in all our other cruised experiences put together. The shore excursions, while very good, were a little over scheduled, not allowing for enough time to tour on your own. They are tweaking their tours to solve this problem, but it is a governmental matter rather than a cruise line issue. While in Havana, optional tours are available through the ship, which are not part of the People to People program. You can also just walk about in any port. Havana has a large covered marketplace where you can buy souvenirs. Cienfuegos has a large open-air market and art houses for souvenirs, as well, which my wife felt surpassed what we saw in Havana. Ports and Tours Montego Bay This is not my favorite port in the Caribbean. Time is best spent here at a beach, staying at a good B&B visiting with people, and eating at Scotchies, which is famous for its authentic Jamaican food. You can also get away from the city and climb Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, which is a great experience. Walking in the tourist area will be disappointing. Santiago This city is deep into the history of the Revolution. Think of it as a Cuban Alamo or Valley Forge with a different political leaning. The People to People tour in Santiago needs tweaking, as it was too time intensive. Havana Did the first day tour, which was a very nice walking tour. We skipped the second day tour in order to concentrate on spending time in Old Havana. We ate at the Paladar Los Mercaderes, which was exceptional. In the evening, we went to the Tropicana. We would love to come back to Havana for a visit, a wonderful place. Maria La Gorda This is a leisurely beach stop. You can swim or walk on a long beach, or just get a drink, sit back, and enjoy the view. Cienfuegos This city has a lovely town square and active business district. It was highly enjoyable. We were on our own, but passengers also mentioned a very good People to People tour here. It should be noted that you will meet and openly share with many Cuban people both on the ship and ashore. The Cubans we encountered were warm and welcoming. Those ashore were surprised to encounter Americans and were openly delighted, despite living in economic conditions caused in no small part by our country’s embargo. They will speak freely and, quite frankly, seem to have great regard for Fidel Castro and their government. All call Castro by his first name, as a term of affection. This was clearly not put on for show. They hope for future economic improvement, which is badly needed, but not at the expense of losing their form of government, which has brought them food, shelter, 100% literacy, free world class health care, and free education through advanced degrees. You will find that Cuba is very safe with little crime. There is virtually no military presence. The few police officers we saw carried no weapons. Eye opening. In summary, a good deal, a nice, but not fancy, ship, great staff, unique well-prepared meals, tremendous shipboard programming, fun entertainment, and a wonderful itinerary – Who could want for more? See Cuba before it changes forever and see it on the Crystal. 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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