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Sail Date: February 2018
We selected this cruise because we wanted to travel to Cuba and was told this cruise line offered an amazing experience. We embarked in Montego Bay, Jamaica and thoroughly enjoyed this 7 day cruise. Participating in the Cuba Cruise ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we wanted to travel to Cuba and was told this cruise line offered an amazing experience. We embarked in Montego Bay, Jamaica and thoroughly enjoyed this 7 day cruise. Participating in the Cuba Cruise People to People program was great. The history and cultural information that was presented was factual and comprehensive as well as entertaining. Each Port of Call offered something different yet, provided more of the Cuban culture. . The program did an excellent job addressing the Afro-Cuban influence and culture which is an important part of Cuba's history. . Dr. Arocha, the Destination Expert was very knowledgeable of the Cuban history and culture, and was a great teacher/presenter in all of his presentations. Each of the tours were well planned, and our tour guides were great, too. The daily shows performed by " Cirque Fantastic Concept" were all very well done and quite entertaining, and Danny the Cruise Director, was The Best!!! I must also compliment the chefs, dining staff, bar staff, cabin stewards and of course, musicians. All of them were excellent. Overall, this was an awesome experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We were planning on an extended stay in Montego Bay, Jamaica and this cruise was offered as a gift to break-up that stay. We always enjoy staying there and Doctors' Cave Beach in particular. The beach is an easy walk to Margaritaville ... Read More
We were planning on an extended stay in Montego Bay, Jamaica and this cruise was offered as a gift to break-up that stay. We always enjoy staying there and Doctors' Cave Beach in particular. The beach is an easy walk to Margaritaville but you pass a lot of shops with aggressive sales people. If you stay for several days, they recognize you and are very respectful. The embarkation was remarkable. we were one of two couples in the terminal for registration which went quickly after we paid the Jamaican government $35 each because we stayed in the country prior to boarding the ship. It was made quicker because we did not register our credit card until we were on the ship. No wait there either. At 25,000 tons it is the smallest ship we have sailed. We have always liked the 80,000 to 110,000 ton ships and we were delighted that we were not forced to sacrifice anything cruising this ship. The tiny pool was drained most of the week because of rough waters. If the pool was tiny the casino was miniscule, six slot machines. Everything else was up to par with any ship. Lots of reviews have talked about how well kept the old ship is. We were in cabin 7009, a junior suite.The balcony was a recent addition and turned an oceanview into a suite. My wife was so pleased with it that she refused to let me pay the small upgrade fee for a full suite. If you can make the same deal, take it. The shower was great and the bath roomy, for a ship. With less than 240 passengers, the ship was at about one third capacity. The official passenger capacity is 1,200 but that puts a body in every bed, bunk and sofa-sleeper. Only one of the two MDRs was open and on lido only one of two serving lines was open. The food was pretty clearly a real effort by some hard working chefs to make the best of a limited budget. The wait staff tried hard to sell the beef and seafood upgrades. The nightly shows were fantastic and all of the lounge acts were great. The shows used performers from all over the ship to put on Cuban themed shows with Cuban born performers. No language barrier. Trivia, games,crafts, dance lessons were all there with photogs everywhere. Captains' party was short and short. Service here was the best ever, probably because they were staffed for almost three times the guests. My wifes' native language is Russian so she was delighted that nearly half of the staff spoke Russian. Most spoke several languages and wore ID badges with flags of nations which indicated their proficiency. All were very good English speakers. Since we are US citizens we did not technically purchase a cruise but we paid to participate in an educational "People-to-People program". The excursions were manditory and included in the price, along with all tips and a drink package. The result was a cruise a little more pricey that we generally buget for a week. To everyone who wants to rush to Cuba before it turns into just another tourist trap ... too late. The Tropicana night club show was remarkable, but it rained in middle of the outdoor performance and our guide remarked that it was cut short as a result. Every bus was made in China and modern, clean and comforable. Every excursion included a shopping stop with many other things obviously made in China. There were no country of origin labels so no evidence they were manufactured in Cuba but lots of evidence that the vendor did not "carve this myself from the best woods". All that said, this was probably the best way to see Cuba under the newest rules . A day in Santiago, overnight in Havana and a day in Cienfuegos. Lectures on the ship were entertaining. This ship rotates to Greece in March and I don't think a return is certain. A lot of things had to line-up for us to take this cruise and I don't think I would do it again. We did not talk with many of our fellow passengers to get their opinion but we never encountered an informal gripe session. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
My family of 6 just returned yesterday from our 1 week cruise. We started our cruise in Montego Bay. The boarding process was simple and the terminal was not crowded, which we were very happy to see. By the time we got a drink in hand ... Read More
My family of 6 just returned yesterday from our 1 week cruise. We started our cruise in Montego Bay. The boarding process was simple and the terminal was not crowded, which we were very happy to see. By the time we got a drink in hand to start our vacation, our luggage had already made it to our rooms. The rooms were fine for us. Nothing fancy, but the bed was comfortable, the shower had hot water, and there was plenty of space for clothes. We didn't plan on spending much time in the rooms except to sleep, so we decided to save our money and not get an upgrade. We did look into it once we boarded. I believe the cost was around $350 to upgrade to a outside cabin with a window, and $450 for a balcony. Entertainment on the boat was exceptional. We went to every show in the evening at 9:00. They mainly consisted of dancers and singers, all of which are from Cuba. The dancers were especially talented. We frequented the Eros Lounge often where there was music every night. The piano and violinist were wonderful. We would also spend time there during the day to participate in the various games/entertainment. There were many games of Bingo, trivia, towel folding lessons, etc. Staff on the Crystal was second to none. We were able to spend a lot of time talking to them and getting to know their stories. Vladimir was absolutely hysterical. He hosted trivia often and would always come by to talk to us and make us laugh. Maherlys(sp?) was also wonderful. She hosted Karaoke every night and was able to get every person in my family to sing, which is quite an accomplishment! Alina was part of the wait staff in the lounges/bars. She was our favorite, although all the others were great as well. Our wait staff in the restaurant was led by Wayan. I would recommend asking for his section. Although there is no assigned seating, after the 2nd night on board, he would come over to the Eros Lounge to let us know that he had a table waiting for us. Lastly, I have to say that the excursions into Cuba were very well done. Havana was definitely my favorite location. It was nice that we had a lot of free time there to explore the city on our own. We did not do the Tropicana tour, but instead ate at a privately owned restaurant in the Old Havana district. It was a wonderful meal, and I would recommend that to anyone trying to get away from more touristy type places for a night. Paladar Los Mercaderes was the name of it, and it was only a 5 minute walk from the cruise terminal. Overall we had an amazing trip. I hope to be back on this boat when it sails in Greece! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
If you are hesitant to book a trip to Cuba or to book with a cruise ship that you are unfamiliar with, this trip will impress you. The People to People program for Americans going to Cuba is very educational and well done. We were on ... Read More
If you are hesitant to book a trip to Cuba or to book with a cruise ship that you are unfamiliar with, this trip will impress you. The People to People program for Americans going to Cuba is very educational and well done. We were on guided tours conducted by Cubans to get their real perspectives. On sea days, we had Cuban cooking demonstrations, Latin dance classes and truly exceptional lectures by a professor from Havana who was passionate about the topics. The meals and service were always good. The activity director and performers were better than what I've seen on larger ships. Everything was included in the price paid which made the cruise a good value. This ship is smaller and felt more peresonalized in the service provided. We boarded in Montego Bay which gave us more time in Havana. Our visas were taken care of as part of the program. When you exchange money in Cuba, be sure to get some small bills for tips and have some coins available for bathrooms. That was my only problem on the first tour day. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This cruise was highly recommended by friends and we decided to try it for our annual Christmas Vacation. I have to say the entire experience was amazing. The nightly shows exceeded my expectations, the staff was friendly, kind, courteous ... Read More
This cruise was highly recommended by friends and we decided to try it for our annual Christmas Vacation. I have to say the entire experience was amazing. The nightly shows exceeded my expectations, the staff was friendly, kind, courteous and extremely helpful. The food and service at the restaurants were exceptional. I also liked the photo shoots and the fact that they were able to capture most of our memorable moments. Of course,I spent close to $100 collecting pictures of special moments with my family, but it was worth it. The cabins were as expected and the housekeeping staff did an amazing job cleaning them twice daily. Loved the daily activities, the zumba, yoga and dance classes. The only improvement I would recommend, however, is to the breakfast menu - having the same menu items every morning was not very appealing for a 7 day cruise. But overall, it was a great first time experience. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We just returned yesterday, having flown in to Havana and out of Havana (from Miami from/to Dallas). Rather than go in to Montego Bay (not a huge fan of Jamaica, and have been there a few times) and get on the ship, I wanted to go the ... Read More
We just returned yesterday, having flown in to Havana and out of Havana (from Miami from/to Dallas). Rather than go in to Montego Bay (not a huge fan of Jamaica, and have been there a few times) and get on the ship, I wanted to go the Havana route. We got in 2 days early to really see Havana and get a feel for the city. We wanted a smaller ship and one that hit more than just Havana for a day. It was definitely worthwhile and we are very happy we did it. Being from the U.S., we were part of the people-to-people program, which meant that we had different tours (don’t know why) and a couple of different presentations on the ship. The ship stays 2 days in Havana, 1 day at sea going counterclockwise around to the central city of Cienfuegos, then down to Jamaica, then back up to Cuba to hit Santiago, then another day at sea to keep on the way to Havana. We had tours that were part of the cost—in Cienfuegos, in Havana, in Santiago. The buses were really nice and the tour guides were perfect—Cubanacan tour company. English was great, they answered our questions, and did not shy away form tough questions about poverty, the government, etc. It was nice having the drinks as part of the package. There really isn't much of a reason to upgrade to the gold package (the standard is the blue package). The wine was fine, not great. The gold package has some better wines, some better scotch (although my husband the scotch-drinker said that he did not think that Glenfiddich was a premium scotch--it is on the gold package). The ship has a buffet eating area, the Leda, as well as the Amalthia formal dining room. There is also the Olympus dining room, which was not open. There was a variety of food possibilities in the buffet, as well as the dining room. The food was good, not exceptionally wonderful. This did not bother my husband and me since we went on this trip to learn about Cuba, not eating all day. Cienfuegos was interesting, although not that much to see. Still……a nice little tour and time to just sit in the square and soak things in. Better was Santiago………the battle of San Juan Hill, the wonderful Spanish fort/castle that guards the bay there, etc. The rooms on the ship were fine, rather similar to ones we have been on with RC, Celebrity, Princess. The turn on/off on the shower took some figuring out. Nice, small balconies. We were on the port side, and so we faced land all of the time..…..great location. Our cabin 7028 was way at the back of the ship, right in the best area to quickly get down to the restaurants, pool, lounges, etc . Cabins 7029 and 7030 would be great also, although 7030 would be the best because its balcony was the biggest (because of the slope on the back of the ship). Amazingly enough, we had entertainment every night, except for the 1st night (lots of people went to the Tropicana cabaret). The band, the singers, and the dancers were all Cuban-----really good, every night a different 1 hour special—Afro-Cuban music/dances, fiesta, a story about the revolution (that one was a bit of a stretch, though), etc. And the musician/singer duo called Duo Jaleo in the Eros Lounge every night was really good. I did all of the dance lessons (salsa, meringue, mambo, bachata, cha cha) as well as Zumba. Martha, the main instructor, was a blast. Charming, funny, good instructor. Her classes with Cuban music were great. My husband even got in on a couple of the dance classes. All sorts of other 1 hour presentations were going on—documentaries about Cuba, everything about Cuban music and instruments, everything about cigars, how to make Cuban dishes, Cuban drink making, etc. Many of them were put together by our resident Havana-born expert, Dr. Jorge Arocha. I did not go to bingo, to making animals with towels, or anything like that. During those times when there was nothing I wanted to go to, I just hung out with my book reading in a lounge or on the deck, or by the pool. The crew was a head above any other cruise line in being nice and welcoming. Absolutely went out of their way to be helpful as well as just talking about their daily activities. Remember that this ship is small, made for around 1000 people only (although there were probably around 250-350 on it during our stay. I like the size of the ship better than the huge ships with 3000 people and up. The pool is small, but fine for me. Of course, there are some pluses on a big ship—more choices of activities at any hour of the day, a multitude of various kinds of bars, and food entities. If you are the kind of person that needs to have 6 different options of entertainment at any given hour, this is not the ship for you. And also realize that it is an older boat, built in the early 90s. And the ages of the passengers varied from mid-twenties up to eighties, most most being in the 50-60 age area. If anyone is concerned about being from the U.S., I can tell you this was a non-issue. Actually, I think that any danger you hear about are hyped to scare people. Our visas were not a problem getting in/out of the country, and when we went through customs in Miami, they could have cared less about the fact we came form Cuba. Not even a question about opening up a suitcase to look inside. A total nothing. We had no crime perpetrated on us, no dangers we faced, no sonic booms, or anything. Just really nice people who like Americans, and other tourists. I'd travel on this ship again, probably more likely in Greece. If I go to Cuba again, it would be a land tour. Read Less
3 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose this cruise because I wanted to visit multiple places in Cuba. My parents took this cruise in March, and loved it. It was my first cruise, so between that and the newness of the Cuba experience, I was not sure what to expect. It ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to visit multiple places in Cuba. My parents took this cruise in March, and loved it. It was my first cruise, so between that and the newness of the Cuba experience, I was not sure what to expect. It was amazing. Let me start out addressing critiques I've seen elsewhere -- yes, it's an older ship and it's small. If you're looking for a Quantum of the Seas type experience, this is not the place to look for it. The whole point of this cruise (at least for American travelers) is the educational experience -- the people to people itinerary for seeing Cuba. This was my first cruise, and I found the size of the ship perfect. It's easy to find your way around, and there are lovely back decks to hang out on as well as a sun deck on the top floor. It is IMPECCABLY clean -- cleaning staff are at work all the time, and the cabin crew serviced my cabin at least twice a day. I had problems with my toilet at checkin and it was fixed within a very short time. We only had about 200-odd people on our cruise between Montego Bay and Havana -- I would guess that went up to 300 or so when people embarked in Havana. (By the way, don't embark in Havana. You'll miss one of the two days the ship docks in Havana, plus, I don't think Montego Bay is all that great. Embark in Montego Bay, and be sure to book Club Mobay for your trip home. After all, you're booking a Cuba cruise, get the whole Cuba experience!) I think the low numbers were partly due to time of year but we were also told that numbers of travelers on this trip was lower this year -- due to the election? Due to terrorism? Whatever the reason, it's a good/bad situation. Good because those of us on the cruise got so much personal attention!!!! I felt bad for the many staff who were just standing around waiting to be helpful -- I am sure it was not fun for them. But they were unfailingly gracious and attentive. It felt like we had our own private cruise! (Shout out to Alina, Zdanek, and Zander!) Lots of space, lots of comfort. A lot of people I talked to at home were surprised Cuba travel is still allowed -- it is! This trip is totally legal, and I wish more Americans would take it. The professor (Dr. Jorge Arocha) who does the lectures is an energetic, smart speaker. I am a college professor, and I really admired his pedagogy and how he framed Cuban history and culture. He emphasized that the questions we ask are more important than the answers -- so true! The food is pretty good: not great, but pretty good and there is always a LOT of it. I mostly ate at the buffet which has a nice outside deck. The sit-down restaurant is also quite nice. There are lots of activities if you want, but also time to just chill (no one is required to attend the lectures or Cuba activities on board, but I highly recommend you do). The at sea days are perfectly times between the three stops: Santiago de Cuba, Havana, and Cienfuegos. If you are American, don't worry about changing money to Euros or Canadian-- you can very easily change USD at every port right off the ship. Even though there is a 10% levy (87 cents to one CUC) I think by the time you exchange your money into Canadian/Euros and pay fees etc there it's not worth it. The excursions were great -- excellent guides and destinations. The first night in Havana, I purchased the extra excursion to the Tropicana from the ship. I think it was a little overpriced, but it was really fun. My point is: don't be afraid to find an excursion of your own for that first night in Havana if there is something that interests you differently. You also will have several hours to yourself in Havana the second day, which is great! Kids will not find this cruise very exciting: there were no kids on my ship (which makes it nice for adults) and I suspect they would not find the historical stuff interesting unless their interests really tended that way and they were teenagers. Age range of passengers: 40+; lots of retirees. I am 50 and made friends with some lovely people my age on the ship. Also: I am not a cruise entertainment kind of person: but the entertainment here completely won me over. The evening shows are utterly charming and so well done by the company! What else...had a facial that was great (yay Rose!) and not really too badly priced for the setting. There is a small but nice fitness center and steam/sauna. I had to pay an 80% upcharge because I was traveling alone. Even so, I think this cruise was an incredible value. And for people sharing a cabin, even more so. I would do this trip again in a minute. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I selected this cruise because it was offered by Apple Vacations as an authorized People-to-People tour for Americans and it was a smaller ship (since I had never been on a cruise before, the idea of being on a boat with 1000's of ... Read More
I selected this cruise because it was offered by Apple Vacations as an authorized People-to-People tour for Americans and it was a smaller ship (since I had never been on a cruise before, the idea of being on a boat with 1000's of other travelers was not my idea of vacation.) There is a more luxurious (MORE expensive) cruise line that also cruises around Cuba but I'm not one who needs be waited on hand-and-foot so I didn't want to pay for it! For those now worried about too many Americans "ruining" the experience, the guest ratio on our trip was about one-third. Most guests were probably 50+ on our sailing (but there were a few 20 and 30-somethings). No young children on our trip. Our sailing was below the 900ish guest capacity. Maybe only 1/3 full so the staff was not overwhelmed/busy so we took the opportunity to try to have conversations with many of them. We learned where they were from (Bali, Cuba, Philippines, Mauritius and others) and life on a cruise ship for 10 month contract. From the Cuban staff, we learned about growing up and living on the island. There was one full service restaurant not open during our trip (not sure if that was because of low guest count or refurbishment?) but that was OK. We never had a problem getting a seating for dinner. We chose to eat at the buffet for breakfasts and lunches while on-board. Menu changed nightly in full service restaurant. Breakfast buffet was the same every day. Lunch buffet varied slightly day-to-day, including a poolside cook-out one day. Only attended two of the nightly "big show" (Cirque and Caberet) and in my opinion they were surprisingly good considering the ship size. There was an instrumental band that played other times on pool deck and before/after shows which was good. There was also entertainment in the Euros lounge but we didn't participate. Tours for US citizens are included (except Tropicana in Havana). The dancing presentation at the "culture stop" in Santiago was too long in my opinion. Liked having free time to eat/shop/explore between tours in Havana on both bays. Tropicana cost $149 (included transportation, champagne welcome drink, rum and cola)... worth it! Costumes are amazing! Weather was perfect to sit on the back-of-the-ship patio bar anytime of day. That was our favorite spot for great sunsets, cigar smoking, great conversations with other guests and staff! We learned staff is assigned to a specific bar for a week so Emerson, Eka and Jodanys were our bartenders and they took great care of us. All were incredibly kind and friendly (so it was sad for me to leave). The waiters were Sandra, Ilena, Isabella and Alejandro that week and we enjoyed talking with them also. Emerson would get a few hours break from the patio bar and then return to the disco bar for the end of the night festivities (karaoke then dancing). Again, he took great care of us! For breakfast and lunch, we sat on the pool deck where Konool and Pratiksha often took great care of us. Edwin was often the bartender there... and he has a great voice too which we learned at karaoke one night ... and then asked him to join us for a song (or two) other nights. I'm hoping (because it was slow), it was ok for him to leave his post to be part of a guest's duet (GREAT SERVICE!!!) Our housekeepers did a great job too! Sorry I didn't catch there names but I saw them occasionally in the halls in mornings and evenings where they would politely greet me (and I even got a compliment on my outfit one night). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
For our first cruise, we wanted a smaller ship and were very interested in visiting multiple locations in Cuba. We were not disappointed! Excursions in Santiago de Cuba, Havana and Cienfuegos were excellent with knowledgeable & fun ... Read More
For our first cruise, we wanted a smaller ship and were very interested in visiting multiple locations in Cuba. We were not disappointed! Excursions in Santiago de Cuba, Havana and Cienfuegos were excellent with knowledgeable & fun tour guides. Our week was a 'slow' one on board with only 110-210 passengers. Perfect for getting to know people and superb service everywhere. Chef Jesus in the Leda buffet (and leader of two cooking demos we attended) was the reason why we ate in the buffet for every single meal (except for our night out in Havana when we went to Cafe Taberna). The food was amazing, Jesus shared cooking tips and was always so pleasant. Gaspar, Ritesh, Nadia, Isabelle and Zunami in the Thalassa bar went above and beyond, not only serving drinks but sharing information about themselves and asking questions about where we live in Canada. I don't think they've ever seen anyone drink as many Americano coffees as my husband did on this cruise! We highly recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
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