1. Staff - I cannot say enough about the staff on the Adonia ship. From the wait staff to the cabin stewards, everyone is there to please - especially the staff at the Conservatory Buffet. They get to know your names and make sure ... Read More
1. Staff - I cannot say enough about the staff on the Adonia ship. From the wait staff to the cabin stewards, everyone is there to please - especially the staff at the Conservatory Buffet. They get to know your names and make sure they remember what you like. If you have a question, and they don't have an answer, they will find out for you. Loved them!
2. Classes - We really appreciated the classes that taught us about Cuba's history and what to expect at each city. These classes usually fill up quickly, so if you want a good seat, then arrive early or make sure you sign up early for classes with limited seats. Also, take advantage of the cocktail classes taught by Sam. It's a great way to learn the history of rum and how to properly make mojitos, Bahama Mamas and daiquiris.
3. Onshore Excursions - (Please consider that our cruise was delayed, so they cut our trip to Cienfuegos and added half a day to our Havana excursion.) While we were disappointed missing out on Cienfuegos, in the end, we loved having two whole days in Havana. We had plenty of time to do the required onshore excursions, while having enough time to ourselves to spend a night walking through Old Havana and an afternoon to run around to do some shopping and to visit some neighborhoods off the beaten path. Though, our time at Santiago de Cuba felt rushed, even though we had a whole day there, but we still loved learning about its historical places and history. (The Barcadi Rum company was founded in this city in 1862.)The Havanatur guides were knowledgable and bilingual, so communication was not a problem. We were led by Osmin, Jordan, Adriana, and Yosiel in Havana, and had Antonio in Santiago, and they are all excellent guides. We even exchanged contact information with the guides to keep in touch.
4. Onshore Restaurants - We were able to get a taste of state-run restaurants and family-owned restaurants (paladares). We felt the food at the family owned restaurant in Santiago was the best, but they were all good.
5. Cuban People - This was the most memorable part of our trip - our interactions with the residents of Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Many people are already able to speak some English, so having a simple conversation with locals won't be a problem, and many Cubans are willing to tell you their stories. Therefore, make sure you interact!
6. Shopping - Yes, we did not want to leave Cuba without our rum and cigars. You will get plenty of time to shop when participating in the Havantur excursions. The best place to do most of your shopping will be the Crafts Market at the end of your day-long Havana bus tour. This market is also within walking distance of the ship terminal and has an official kiosk that sells rum and cigars. The second place is the pathway to the Santiago de Cuba fortress, which will have plenty of merchants with handmade crafts and jewelry.
7. Laundry - A launderette is located on the 7th deck. There are 6 washers and 6 dryers. Machines are free; you only need to bring you own soap. Make sure you only place half a cup of detergent with each load, as the machines tend to create lots of suds.
1. Communication - We do realize that Fathom is a new brand under Carnival Cruises, but we were expecting to have experienced staff during the booking and check in process. We noticed that each rep gave us different information when calling the Fathom reservation number, so make sure you double check the details they provide you. Also, during the check in process at the terminal, we were told that the affidavits that the booking team told us to complete were not the right ones, so they had us complete new forms. Also, they told us that we needed to sign up for the onshore excursions on the boat, which was completely false (no sign up is required). So, needless to say, more training is needed for the Fathom frontline!
2. Delay - As I mentioned before, we had a mechanical problem delay our cruise, so our trip to Cienfuegos was cut from the itinerary. Now, when something like this happens, travelers expect to receive some kind of compensation or refund for the inconvenience, but Fathom didn't see it that way initially. They thought that extending our time in Havana by half a day would make up for it. It wasn't until travelers complained that they offered everyone a $75 credit and a free drink at dinner. This is something they should have offered shortly after they realized we would be delayed.
3. Days at Sea - Now let me say this - we are not the traditional cruisers, and we primarily booked this cruise as a quick and easy way to get an introduction into Cuba, so we already boarded the boat with a preference to be onshore in Cuba. Because of our delay, we ended up being at sea for over 3 1/2 days, which seemed too long for us. If you like being on a ship, then this may not be a problem. Also, as I mentioned before, there are multiple classes onboard that will keep you occupied during this time at sea.
4. Other Cruisers - Now, please remember that if you decide to take part of the Havanatur excursions onshore that you must then do the entire 4 or 8 hour tours. We had some cruisers in our group that felt it was okay to demand that the guides take them back to the boat or shopping during the middle of the tour. First of all, these cruisers were stressing out the guides, and negatively impacting the experience for the other cruisers. Therefore, if you know that the heat or walking will be too much for you or if you prefer to spend more of your time shopping, then check with the Explorers desk on the ship to see what you can do in lieu of the guided tours. Read Less