We are a retired couple in our early 70's. Both of us have mobility issues. We traveled with our adult daughter and her boyfriend. This is our 10th cruise, 1st on Azamara. We selected it because of the itinerary. I can't say ... Read More
We are a retired couple in our early 70's. Both of us have mobility issues. We traveled with our adult daughter and her boyfriend. This is our 10th cruise, 1st on Azamara. We selected it because of the itinerary. I can't say I've always wanted to visit Cuba, but the opportunity presented itself and we thought, Let's go while we are able and permitted.
We really liked the smaller ship experience. Our cabin was near the aft elevator, easy to get to the main dining room, Mosaic coffee bar, and the buffet/Patio. I liked that you didn't have to walk so far to the front of the ship also.
The cabin was a Club Verandah class. Space was adequate for 2. The shower was the tiniest I've ever seen. We didn't use our verandah much because of the air pollution in Cuba. One thing I didn't like--the gray wallpaper made the cabin gloomy and depressing.
I hope they change to a more cheery color scheme when they next refurbish.
Food ranged from typical cruise fare (buffet) to outstanding in the main restaurant. I only ordered from the "always available" options twice, for French Onion soup and Crème Brulee. Easter Monday brunch in the dining room was beautiful They really went all out with the ice carvings, decorations, and baked goods.
Beverage service was spotty in all venues--sometimes someone would take your order before you even sat down and other times you had to wait, and wait, and wait. This was especially true of coffee at dinner. We prefer our coffee with dessert, but it seems the waiters usually bring it after dessert. Asking didn't help.
The only entertainment we attended was the Azamazing Evening. It was truly spectacular. The destinations speaker, Dr. Ellen, was very interesting. She covered topics from Cuban history to present day/future Cuba. Since it was Passover, there was a Rabbi on board, who led two casual discussion groups. Although we are Catholic, we attended the first but had a conflict with the second. There was also a priest who said Mass for Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, plus on the sea days.
We found the fitness center was one of the best maintained of any cruise ships we've sailed. The machines all worked, and they had enough treadmills, exercycles, etc. so you never had to wait.
The crew was fantastic. Everyone we encountered was very cheerful, relaxed, and eager to please.
Ports and shore excursions: This cruise was not a good fit for us. We visited 4 ports, Key West, Florida, Havana (3 days), Cienfuegos, and an overnight in Santiago de Cuba for the Azamazing Evening. As I mentioned at the beginning, both of us have mobility issues. My husband has had both hips replaced and I am recovering from knee replacement surgery last summer, In both Cienfuegos and Santiago, there were NO mild shore excursions offered. In Havana, only 2, Easy Panoramic Havana and Classic Cars, which could easily replicate each other. Which left us with Moderate Excursions, most of which were more strenuous than the tour booklet description.
Key West: Hop On/Hop Off Trolley and Butterfly Conservancy We would normally do a hop on/hop off tour on our own, but actually saved money with the included Butterfly Conservancy. We enjoyed the stop to see the butterflies and the tour of the city which followed.
Havana Day 1: Best of Havana A very disappointing tour, more strenuous than described, mediocre tour guide. Hemingway's home was closed due to a holiday (not sure what). Since it was Good Friday, we had the vegetarian option for lunch--rice and salad. Fusterlandia was fascinating and Revolution Square was a good place to see all the classic cars. The bus made a stop back at the ship for those who didn't want to see the flea market. Our daughter said they had a better selection of souvenirs at the terminal.
Havana Day 2: Easy Panoramic Havana Bus tour with photo stops. I enjoyed Fusterlandia more this time around. Revolution Square seems to be obligatory. We also visited the old forts on the other side of the Bay and saw relics of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Great tour guide.
Havana Day 3: We stayed on the ship
Cienfuegos: Colonial Trinidad Should have been marked strenous. Even those with greater mobility had trouble with the cobblestones. Lunch at Ma Dolores restaurant
was very good. Visit to the potters' workshop was a highlight.
Santiago de Cuba: El Cobre Rated moderate and it actually was. The Church of Our Lady of Charity was beautiful. The steel drum band was very good, but we bought their CD/DVD and haven't been able to get it to work. BEWARE. Lunch at the Tropicana was great. San Juan Hill was the hardest part of the trip.
All in all, we met the worst and the best of Cuban society. Lots of beggars/panhandlers in the streets and squares. But the tour guides and others involved in the tourist industry were very pleasant and eager to show off their charming county.
Would we go again? Not to Cuba, it's a once in a lifetime experience. But we would happily sail Azamara again if the itinerary appealed. Read Less