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24 Havana to Caribbean - All Cruise Reviews

El servicio de restauración sentado fue un desastre, mal atendidos, lento (2 horas para cenar) el camarero echando la culpa a la cocina, equivocaciones en los menús solicitados y servidos, .... Excursiones llenas de gente por todos ... Read More
El servicio de restauración sentado fue un desastre, mal atendidos, lento (2 horas para cenar) el camarero echando la culpa a la cocina, equivocaciones en los menús solicitados y servidos, .... Excursiones llenas de gente por todos los lados, en Jamaica la visita a las 8 cataratas parecía estar en el Aqua Park de mi ciudad, el guía nos dejo abandonados, los dos que tenias que llevarnos por las cataratas no aparecieron y tuvimos que hacer el recorrido solos, nos decía esta es la tercera ciudad mas peligrosa del mundo y mi misión es devolverles sanos y salvos al barco,...... Las colas a la entrada o salida del barco, un buen rato esperando para pasar los controles del propio barco a través de un punto de control. En esos momentos habría que habilitar dos o tres o cuatro, etc lo que sea necesario para garantizar el acceso y rápido. Cobrar por una botella de agua en cabina cuando tienes el paquete de todo incluido me parece ridículo. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The sitting restoration service was a disaster, poorly attended, slow (2 hours for dinner) the waiter blaming the kitchen, mistakes in the menus requested and served, .... Excursions full of people from all sides, in Jamaica the visit to the 8 waterfalls seemed to be in the Aqua Park of my city, the guide left us abandoned, the two that you had to take us through the falls did not appear and we had to do the tour Alone, he told us this is the third most dangerous city in the world and my mission is to return them safely to the ship, ...... The queues at the entrance or exit of the ship, a good time waiting to pass the controls of the ship itself through a checkpoint. In those moments you would have to enable two or three or four, etc what is necessary to ensure access and fast. Charging for a bottle of water in the cabin when you have the all-inclusive package seems ridiculous. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We choose this cruise because it was well-priced and the itinerary starting in Havana was a bit different than what other cruise lines had to offer. We flew to Varadero first, had a couple pf days in a wonderful all- inclusive resort. The ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was well-priced and the itinerary starting in Havana was a bit different than what other cruise lines had to offer. We flew to Varadero first, had a couple pf days in a wonderful all- inclusive resort. The transfer to Havana port from Varadero is about 2 hours, we arrived by the ship around 6pm. Very efficient embarkation, did not need to wait very long anywhere, not even for Cuban imigration in the port. Our oceanview cabin on deck 7 was small, but clean and very efficient. The shower being very small did not bother us, but the shower curtain sticking to your legs while taking a shower is a bit of a pain, a glass door would have been nicer. Also they seem to have a plumbing issue, some nights in our cabin and also seen int in some public toilets, it takes a while to flush, or to put it more precisely the water does not stop flowing and before you know your whole bathroom is flooded. A few extra flushes solves the issue. We wanted to have the beds separated so had to go to reception to get that arranged, they responded quite quickly, but they moved the beds 1 inch apart, did not really feel like two separate beds, so we did a bit of redecorating ourselves and moved the bedstand in between the beds. Other cruiselines always already do that for you, but it seemed the cabin is a bit too small and the funiture not really well designed to do this easily. We used the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We found the 6.30pm first dinner shift just a bit too early and the late one too late. For breakfast and lunch the buffet was fine, pizza is excellent. For dinner it got a bit boring soon. They always had 1 fish and 2 meats, vegetables and one roast carve that always looked a bit dry. In addition there were 2 pastas each day, but for an Italian ship the variation of pasta was under par. Most nights selection was between pasta with bolognese and pasta with tomato sauce, very boring. I longed for a nice rice dish after a week. The fish and meat dishes were tasty though. And you could eat all through the day, coffee, tea and water were also readily available all day. The bars and bar staff are excellent, especially on decks 5 and 6. The pool bar staff should take that as an example though. The pool bar does not really cater the lounge chairs by the pool, also sometimes takes quite long to get a drink because they are busy talking to each other ( this includes some cases where even more senior officers seem to forget there are customers waiting). At one occassion I was sent to another bar because they did not have diet coke. Not very customer friendly, I even had to ask if they wanted to call to the other bar to check first. The first night also seemed to be the night the drinks pacjages were aggressively sold. I has to tell the same pool bar waitress about 10 times in the same conversation that I really did not want a package. She was more persistent than the average street hassler. Pool deck also does not have enough shady areas. It was always a fight to get a lounge chair in the shade. If MSC is reading this review, might I suggest moving the pingpong table and table soccer tables away from the crowded shaded area on the pool deck to for instance the not very used bar area between the pool deck and the buffet restaurant? And another suggestion, please do not paint parts of the pool deck during the day. We sat at the pool deck in paint fumes one day all day, could not have been very healthy. The itinerary and shore excursions were excellent. I really enjoyed the full day in Havanna. The dock is right in the middle of old Havanna center, you can just walk off the ship. The hoponhopoff bus stops right outside the terminal building and was a good deal, 2 hour round trip for only 10 CUC per person. We wandered through old Havanna on our own, had a great lunch and drinks on one of the many terraces. We booked shore excursions via the ship for Belize and Roatan, both were excellent as well. Good organised and very enthousiastic and knowledgable tour guides. After Costa Maya the ship had a change in itinerary and went to Cozumel instead of Isla de Juventud, last night at sea was a bit more rough and we ended up back in Havanna with a 3 hr delay (noon instead of 9 am), which I was actually quite happy with because the longer the vacation the better.... Last thing, the entertainment. In the lounges, bars, pool decks this was all excellent, good vocal singers and musicians. The shows though are always with the same team. They really did try to make the best out of it, but it is basically the same every night hidden in a different theme. And I really did not get why on the night in Havanna when they did have some Cuban musicians coming on board for a Cuban music show, you had to pay 32 dollars extra just to see them. We have sailed with cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity before, where hiring local entertainment is standard and at no extra charge. All in all a good itinerary and keeping in mind the price of the cruise was quite good, one might be able to overlook some of the above negatives. For us, next time we will try to avoid msc, but have no regrets taking this cruise giving the places we have been too. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Cuba is fascinating, and this is the best overall way to experience various cities and themes. Cheaper and easier than hotels or private homes, more variety of cities, with bonus of excellent Cuban lectures, entertainment and staff. ... Read More
Cuba is fascinating, and this is the best overall way to experience various cities and themes. Cheaper and easier than hotels or private homes, more variety of cities, with bonus of excellent Cuban lectures, entertainment and staff. Older ship design, a bit quirky, but once used to it, compares favorably to the dozen or so larger, newer ships on which I've sailed. A small ship has big advantages. Officer passed me as I was headed for door leading outside, turned around, went back and held it open for me! We had 45 knot winds one day, closing the pool and promenade deck, but did not bother me in middle of ship. 18 cabin categories!!! Size and layout vary widely, so do your homework in booking. I tried to attend every lecture and every show. The music/dance was not quite as polished as on megaships, but you felt more a part of the show. All the performers stood at exit of theatre to talk with us after each show. Lectures by Dr. Arocha were hilarious and insightful, and he spent as much time as I wanted with him privately discussing points of Cuban history. Food was very good, drink package a real deal. Am now addicted to double caramel macciados. Excursions on Cuba cruises (I've come on two cruise lines) are unique answers to US regulations, Cuban conditions and cruise ship needs. They are included in price for US citizens, cover a wide range of history, culture, shopping and onshore dining (included in price). Remember you are in the tropics and the streets are hot and humid.. Buses are modern, with a/c and bath. Guides work for the government agencies but are often quite candid about conditions in Cuba. One is free to come and go, especially on the overnight in Havana. There are adequate tourist police on the streets but no heavy-handed guards or guns. You will see much more security in US airports. Only complaint was that a/c varied from room to room and sometimes had trouble keeping up with the tropics. But crew moved our friends to another cabin to accommodate them. I am planning to return soon to Cuba on this same ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
While there were many things I enjoyed about the cruise, there were a number of major problems. The main reason I was going to Cuba was to experience Havana. I was expecting to have 2 days in Havana. When I asked in advance when I could ... Read More
While there were many things I enjoyed about the cruise, there were a number of major problems. The main reason I was going to Cuba was to experience Havana. I was expecting to have 2 days in Havana. When I asked in advance when I could get on the ship, I was told a few times that I would be able to board the ship around 1pm. I arrived early on Monday in Havana, and was then told that we could not get on the ship, and not told why. I was sent to lunch and then had to wait around until we could get on the ship that night because the ship was not allowed to dock at the port. I lost a full day of exploring Havana and enjoying the ship. The second day we had to get up at 6:15am to leave the ship early and be on a bus tour until 8:30pm. I thought there was a typo on the schedule, but, no, we really had to disembark very early. Our ship was bumped off the dock for a larger vessel. These things happen but I was also told that they knew about this problem at least 10 days prior to my arrival. We had to out until 8:30 at night, when we were allowed back on the ship. While we saw a lot of sites, it was not an enjoyable day. I booked this cruise a little over a week in advance, so at the time of my booking the company knew this was an issue. Had I know this was going to happen, I would not have booked this trip, or would have booked at a different time. I arrived on the ship and was told the wifi was not working. I was also then told that they knew the wifi was down a few days before I arrived. Again, had I known in advance that this was a problem, I would have made arrangements for being totally out of communication before arriving on the ship. The food was surprisingly mediocre, the wine very bad, and the bartenders did not know how to make mixed drinks. The Pros: The staff on the ship was wonderful, and the educational program was excellent. The best part of the whole ship experience was Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD. I attended all his lectures. He was entertaining and very knowledgeable. Quite a treat. I loved Cuba and am eager to go back to that island. These big issues impacted my overall experience on this vacation. I expected that the cruise line would have offered something to make up for all these inconveniences -but nothing was offered. The ship was less than half full but no upgrades were given. I also wrote to the company's customer service but never heard back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We wanted a true Cuban Experience and Celestyal Cruises are the only ones we knew of to provide that as most other cruises simply visit Havana. However, Celestyal take you to Cuban Ports and enhance your experience in the country. ... Read More
We wanted a true Cuban Experience and Celestyal Cruises are the only ones we knew of to provide that as most other cruises simply visit Havana. However, Celestyal take you to Cuban Ports and enhance your experience in the country. Embarkation was probably the simplest we have ever experienced in our 20+ cruises with various lines. We were aware that the ship used to be a Car Ferry but is has been refurbished so well that you just would not realise that fact. Our cabin was very spacious and immaculately clean, and yet again, probably larger than cabins on other cruise lines. We could not fault the food on board other than to say that the breakfast finished far too early and the food could be tepid most of the time. Other than that - you could not get late night snacks anywhere. The quality, even in the Buffet Restaurant, could not be faulted. On Deck, sunbathing was a joy as there were always plenty of sunbeds available. Probably the most memorable thing about our wonderful cruise though was the staff. Despite being on numerous cruises, the staff on this ship were the friendliest, most helpful we have ever experienced. We had 2 tours included in our package and they were absolutely excellent. The guides knew their stuff and made the experience very interesting. We had a Drinks Package and Pre-paid Gratuities which was an absolute bonus as I hate the situation on other ships when the staff are virtually begging for tips. The Drinks Package covered everything and the drinks were of good quality We had reservations about joining this ship due to its history (Car Ferry) plus the fact that we had never even heard of Celestyal before we researched cruises around Cuba but without doubt we would not hesitate to book with them again. Our only criticism apart from the tepid breakfasts was the fact that communication with the passengers could do with improvement as quite often you were left wondering what was going on. If you book this ship, avoid Deck 2 as your accommodation as occasionally there can be a strong smell of diesel. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Wanted to see Cuba without a lot of hassle and long bus trips so chose a 7 day cruise which included 3 Cuban ports. (Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago) Some of the entrance channels are narrow and shallow which will prevent larger ships from ... Read More
Wanted to see Cuba without a lot of hassle and long bus trips so chose a 7 day cruise which included 3 Cuban ports. (Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago) Some of the entrance channels are narrow and shallow which will prevent larger ships from stopping at these ports. In fact leaving Cienfuegos the ship was causing mud and sand in its wake as the water was so shallow and the channel appeared no more than a couple of hundred yar ds wide. I would rate the cruise overall as excellent. The included tours were very good on nearly new high quality air conditioned buses with restrooms. (Chinese). The food was of a wide variety and very good. US citizens on the ship were in a minority with many French, German and Canadians. The crew and service was outstanding. Our cabin was kept in immaculate condition by our Ukrainian and Uzbeckisani cabin attendants. The ship is older and small by todays standards but has recently been refurbished and is in excellent condition. Our tour was advertised as a People to People tour as per US requirements. There were numerous and informative programs to meet these provisions at which attendance was invited and encouraged but never required. Dress was casual and a jacket and tie is not required. The all inclusive drink package was included in our price and it is a very good program. The nightly shows were very good. Highly recommended Read Less
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
Sail Date March 2017
All in all it was a great cruise. The travel to and from Cuba was horrific. The trip down: Sunwing well organized at Montreal airport - speedy check-in. Flight about 30 minutes late leaving - seats so close together one feels like a ... Read More
All in all it was a great cruise. The travel to and from Cuba was horrific. The trip down: Sunwing well organized at Montreal airport - speedy check-in. Flight about 30 minutes late leaving - seats so close together one feels like a sardine - cannot cross legs and when the passenger in the seat puts his seat back ........ Small glass of sparking wine (Champagne Service!) and purchased food - mine was great (Classic box with crackers, cheese, salami, etc. ) David ordered the noodles which turned out to be Campbell's cup a soup .... without fully boiled water :-(. Movie on a drop screen 4 rows ahead - very hard to see. Arrived in Cuba at around 10 p.m. Went through Cuban immigration (arriving), got our luggage and was on the bus by 10:45. There was confusion as to who should be on the bus and after 45 minutes of discussion between the bus driver and tour reps we finally left the airport at 11:30. Smooth ride to cruise terminal where we arrived at 1:20 a.m. Driver unloaded the bus and we pulled our luggage to the luggage drop around 100 ft away. Check in with MSC very speedy then once again through Cuba Immigration ( departing ) and x-ray before actually boarding the ship.The ship kept the buffet open until 2 am so we were able to grab a glass of wine and something to eat. Luggage was delivered around 2:30 am. The cruise: Ship was lovely - clean and well kept. Our cabin (Oceanview 10022) was the smallest I have ever had - but there was ample storage - the one thing that was definitely very small was the shower- luckily David and I are not big people :-). The location was great - just one deck below the pools and 2 of the coffee bars - only one flight to get our morning cappuccinos. The drinks package was excellent and did include cappuccinos and espressos as well as mixed cocktails and select wine by the glass. Bar service was a little slow but they were very busy. We went to the buffet for breakfast and lunch - selection was good and tables were easy to find. Their breads and pizza were outstanding - delicious! Had the early seating for dinner at 7 pm and found everything but the main courses to be tasty. We had issues with the main couses ( swordfish overlooked, ribeye steak that was not even a half inch thick, etc) but there were enough courses offered that we had fine meals without the main course. We did not see any shows but their piped in music on the pool deck was fabulous - from Beach Boys to Bare Naked Ladies :-) On a side note, European cruises are certainly different when it comes to pool attire - I was in the distinct minority in my one piece bathing suit ( there were maybe 6 of us total) all of the other women, regardless of age or size wore two piece bathing suits .... and most of the men were in Speedos or tight fitting briefs :-) We booked one excursion in Montego Bay - a hop-on hop-off bus which was fine as the ship does not dock right downtown ..... a little slow at getting organized once we left the ship but hey, it's Jamaica mon! In Cuba, Cozumel and Grand Cayman we did not book anything with the ship. The return trip: Luggage out by 1 a.m. And ship docks at 1:30 p.m. We can stay in our cabins until 1 p.m. and are to meet in the theatre for disembarkation at 2 p.m. Our colour gets called at 2:45 and off we go. First we have to go through Cuba Immigration ( arriving) and security scanners in the terminal. Head downstairs to grab our luggage and find the Sunwing / Nexus rep who tells us our bus number and points vaguely out the front door of the terminal. Upon exiting, there are around 15 buses parked 2 deep on the Main Street in front of the terminal. Get on the bus at 3:45. The guide who was supposed to take us back had called in sick so they had a replacement guide who spoke only English and Spanish on our bus, the Montreal bus. It took them a while to figure out that there were two people missing and when they finally found them ( they had forgotten to put their watches forward an hour :-() we left the port at 4:30. When we arrived at the airport there was no one there to check in the Montreal flight but someone showed up around 15 minutes later. Once we were checked in we had to line up to go through Cuban Immigration (departing) again. then lined up once more o go through security scanners ( a zoo!). Got to the departure gate 3 around 7:40 for our 8:20 flight. We heard a garbled announcement around 8:00 that our flight was delayed but could not get any info from anyone - Information desk said that there was a delay with the plane in Canada but had no further details. David and other passengers searched all 6 gates but there was no Sunwing / Nexus rep to be found in the airport. We could not clearly hear any of the announcements - finally around 9:45 we heard that our flight was boarding from gate 6. once more confusion reigned supreme :-)) Finally everyone was on board and we took off around 10:20 - we were offered a free sandwich or pizza for our inconvenience.... and we were not offered Champagne Service on our return flight :-) Arrived in Montreal at 1:40 am only to find the Montreal Immigration line went well beyond the Immigration area and I am sure that the other passengers on our plane had at least an additional hour wait. Luckily we have Nexus cards and were able to get through immigration, pick up our luggage, grab a taxi and get home by 2:45 am. All in all, we really enjoyed the cruise but will pass in future flying to and from Varadaro for a cruise in Havana. I did however notice that the ship boarded passengers in Cozumel and if I were to take this cruise again I wound fly in and out of Cozumel. it was great value for our money but the travel to and from element proved very stressful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The embarkation was 6 hours late, the ship was waiting a few miles from Havana Port because there was no place for the ship in Port. I understood the problem and accepted it wasn't there fault, the think I had a problem with was a ... Read More
The embarkation was 6 hours late, the ship was waiting a few miles from Havana Port because there was no place for the ship in Port. I understood the problem and accepted it wasn't there fault, the think I had a problem with was a lack of information for the waiting passengers to board the ship. I cruised bigger ships and I wanted to experience smaller ship, no regret I really enjoyed it. The age of passengers are mostly retreated peoples. My cabin was very clean ( thank you Diana ) smaller than expected. The balcony nice size Didn't like the fridge in the closet, it took away some storage for our clothes and shoes. We always had our meal in dining room, the food was very good. Supper Even was our waiter, the group was always happy to see him. The two last days the sea was very rough, when you got to the dining room the staff at the door would help everybody who had difficulty with balance walk to their table. I never seen that on any other ships. Special thank you to Maître D' Mohamed, during my trip I have problem with my health and needed special diet for few days and Mohamed made certain that I received the special attention. Thank you again Maître D' I really appreciate it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Great Cruise Office/Animators team! You won't be disappointed if you join Martha, Victor, and/or Mahelys for fun. Dynamite personalities, and they always give you the extra effort and big smiles. Nightly shows were excellent, and ... Read More
Great Cruise Office/Animators team! You won't be disappointed if you join Martha, Victor, and/or Mahelys for fun. Dynamite personalities, and they always give you the extra effort and big smiles. Nightly shows were excellent, and tied into culture/history. People to People (P2P) sessions very informative, and it added to my overall visit to Cuba. If embarking in Havana, which I highly recommend, come 2 two early so you can explore before joining on board P2P program built for Americans. Cruise port is in Old Havana, and that's where you should stay. Casa particulars available, or hotels, of course. I rated embarkation as average, not because of the process itself, but there were issues in the port that day and it was a few hours before a Celestial representative arrived to talk to those of us who were wishing to embark. They don't appear to be responsible for issues at hand, but they should have had reps in the terminal first thing in the morning to assist/answer questions. They should consider hiring a ground operations reprsentative who lives in the area to assist guests before other staff members arrive off of the ship. It would be good as an improvement to guest services. Also marked excursions average, only because yours are pre-selected in the P2P program. Another reason you should fly in a few days early, so you can pick your own fun. Cabin was a good one, smartly decorated, bright considering inside cabin, thanks to design. Buffet had good something for everyone and the restaurant on level 5 had better seating arrangement than on 8, in my opinion. Helios deck on 9 had lots of activity, and I loved the seating/bar area on the back of the boat, deck 5. Check it out, especially if sun is setting in the horizon. Smaller ship, amenities align with that fact, but you get out of your vacation what you put into it. Keep in mind, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba are shorter port days, but they expose you to different areas of the island that you wouldnt see in a week long vacation unless you are okay with driving to both ends on your own. For me, this was a great introduction to Cuba. Happy to have had the opportunity to visit and engage with the team at Celestyal. Thank you! Read Less
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
Sail Date February 2017
We went with this ship for the price and the ports of call .... however... not all cracked up to be what it is ... if you are a ship cruiser and like good music this is not for you ... PAY the extra and get what you want ... the ship is ... Read More
We went with this ship for the price and the ports of call .... however... not all cracked up to be what it is ... if you are a ship cruiser and like good music this is not for you ... PAY the extra and get what you want ... the ship is clean the staff is good but the on board entertainment dose not compare to the other cruise lines .... the food is good but far form the other lines ... you wont go hungry ... the ports are nice but has nothing to do with the cruise line... but what u will fine is a few hidden charges on your bill like second visas to get out of Cuba... tips even though you may have already paid them with your agent.... European pushing and shoving there way threw like they own the boat and very very little English or French spoken on the boat....this includes the shows and music and let not for get men speedo's and topless women ... I know it may temp you but some things and people should be covered up lol ....not well organized in getting on or off the boat and it seems like you have to fend for yourself when you do get off as there is no signs to find your bus so be prepare to wing it....This cruise line is not even close to the Carnival or Royal Caribbean Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
At Boarding we sat in the terminal for hours with no information or what was going on or when we could get on. Once we were on we didn't know if we needed a new visa to get off while in port so we stayed on the boat and missed out on ... Read More
At Boarding we sat in the terminal for hours with no information or what was going on or when we could get on. Once we were on we didn't know if we needed a new visa to get off while in port so we stayed on the boat and missed out on Havana in fear of getting stuck ashore. Our rooms where not ready until 8pm. Once on the boat the music was not up beat enough, just made you sad and sleepy. I even asked the cruise director to put music on one night around the pool there was no music at all. The shows where of low quality and mostly not in English making it hard to understand. Microphone volume was way too high for the volume of the music. Nothing to do on the boat, we were bored every day. Food was the same all the time with only one or 2 different things. Restaurant seating was terrible, we booked 3 couples together and couldn't sit together and when we asked to switch they said no so we didn't go back. No information sessions where given for ports (such as where to go and not to go, what to do). Port disappointing experience Example: Georgetown Cayman Islands was a Tender port was 9 to 6. Because he booked an excursion and had to all go at once we didn’t get off the boat till 11 then had to get on the bus for our excursion, went on a 2 1/2 hour excursion by the time we got back to port we only had 1 hour left and we didn't want to rest missing the last tender at 6 so ended up getting back on the tender at 530 and didn’t get to do any exploring of the port. Very disappointing Montego Bay, Jamaica was a 12h ours but with nothing to do at the port meant having to pay for a shuttle. Our driver took us to a small street with a few shop and then back to the boat. Would have been nice to see more. I would subject going on a week that the boat goes to Ocho Rio instead of Montego Bay. Cozumel Mexico, The Port was great, lots of shopping at the port itself. One thing I didn’t like is the venders on the street where very pushy and trying to get you to buy. Norwegian cruise lines what parked beside us at the port and they were greeting there customer back on board with red carpet treatment with water/Juice, damp face cloths ad towels, Party music and staff saying welcome back on board. We had nothing. They didn’t even take our picture getting off at the port like carnival does. At debarkation, you’re assigned a time to be out of your room and then a different time to be let off the boat. Was time consuming and with nothing to do while we waited made for a long day. We collected our luggage to find them all broken. Then we had no one to guide us to the bus. We stood outside with no guidance as to where our bus was. Then we got to the airport and waited in line for Hours to get through customs, I know this isn't the boats fault but it didn't help our not so good experience for the week. The staff on the boat was very friendly but some time language barrier was an issue and service at the bar was most of the time very slow. Long story short I wouldn’t book another cruise with MSC knowing how much more fun we had with Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Choose cruise for destinations. The staff tried very hard but language was a problem for a lot of the waiters. Mostly Italian, Spanish, French and German passengers, British a very small amount of passengers. Gala nights ... Read More
Choose cruise for destinations. The staff tried very hard but language was a problem for a lot of the waiters. Mostly Italian, Spanish, French and German passengers, British a very small amount of passengers. Gala nights disappointing as most men to lazy to make an attempt to look smart. A lot of the passengers had no manners and were quite rude. Food was appalling and not what I expect when on a cruise as very limited choice and poorly presented. Found strip of plastic in one meal and one so disgusting do not wish to comment. Getting served at breakfast was terrible and waiters had very poor knowledge of European languages. Cabin was the smallest I have ever seen on a cruise ship. No where to put luggage and not enough cupboard space to store clothes. We were on the ship for 2 weeks but they only have one week of shows so the second week shows are repeated not what we are used too. We only went on one shore excursion and after a 15 minute walk to the coach, there was no coach there. They sent mini buses to get started and the coach caught up with us later. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise mainly because of the cruise destinations namely Cuba, Mexico and Caribbean. I'm so pleased we took very little notice of some of the negative reviews we read before we booked. Our experience couldn't have ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly because of the cruise destinations namely Cuba, Mexico and Caribbean. I'm so pleased we took very little notice of some of the negative reviews we read before we booked. Our experience couldn't have been bettered. The main reason for this was the quality, friendliness and professionalism of the staff - they were great. Nothing was too much trouble and everything they did for us they did with a smile - a genuine smile. It was obvious to us that there is some great leadership happening aboard this ship and we saw many occasions when the officers would get their sleeves rolled up and help and support their teams when times got busy. This is a cruise ship that really does put their customers at the centre of everything they do. We loved it thank you MSC. Special thanks to Agnes in Bar Services, and Branko Bar Manager - you made it special. The cruise destinations were fabulous and the organisation around embarkation and disembarkation were extremely well organised. We did hear some moans from a couple of other passengers around ship excursions having unexpected elements within them such as having to pay an entrance fee to particular sites that were being visited,and the time it takes to get to those sites, however, this was all explained thoroughly within the ship excursion brochures and was essentially down to those passengers not reading them. We can only speak as we find, and we found this cruise exceptional. We will definitely cruise with MSC again and also on the Armonia. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this MSC cruise for the destinations, Cuba (3 days) Jamaica, Belize, Mexico, Cayman, Honduras. Before travelling to Havana we had read some quite negative reviews of this ship so were apprehensive. On arrival, staff were so ... Read More
We chose this MSC cruise for the destinations, Cuba (3 days) Jamaica, Belize, Mexico, Cayman, Honduras. Before travelling to Havana we had read some quite negative reviews of this ship so were apprehensive. On arrival, staff were so helpful, friendly and couldn't do enough to welcome their passengers. Restaurants were above average, dinner especially good in the Marco Polo restaurant waiter service with wide choices. No queues at breakfast in the buffet open air seating which was always enjoyable. The only real negative was some of the evening shows, but this certainly didn't spoil our evening fun. The passengers were mainly Italian, french and German - but all very friendly to the few brits on board. The pools were emptied each night, always crystal clear and not so chlorinated as others, so swimming was always a nice experience. Around the pool the animation team were brilliant. Entertaining us all day, with Salsa and Latin dance classes & silly games but all great fun. We enjoyed our evening apperitivo before dinner on the floodlit pool terrace, followed by live music and dancing. Value for money - definitely at just £100 per day all inclusive with flights from london. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
chose this ship for the itinery 15.nights carribean .4 ladies on this ship using 2 outside cabins.l would say this cruise company is not for the english everything is created for french and italian people. if you like pizza and pasta every ... Read More
chose this ship for the itinery 15.nights carribean .4 ladies on this ship using 2 outside cabins.l would say this cruise company is not for the english everything is created for french and italian people. if you like pizza and pasta every day thats ok.haveing been on 15.cruises myself l would rate this as my worst cruise yet.food was very poor in the dining room cold soup every night same thing at lunch every day cold pizza little choice l actually lost weight for first time ever.entertainment was the wosrt l have ever seen on a ship a show that lasted about 30.minutes each night then same shows again on second week. all entertainment was done by ships own team [example ] people singing kareoke no one got on to entertain you entertainers running about in silly costumes just like kids pantomine time.and some of there staff need a customer care ourse very rude and surly no thank you all 4 of us a few tiffs with staff all in all would not recommend this company to any english person Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I chose this cruise based on its itinerary and having viewed the website thought the ship would be potentially a little be dated in style but wasn't concerned that in this day and age that the service, food quality and overall ... Read More
I chose this cruise based on its itinerary and having viewed the website thought the ship would be potentially a little be dated in style but wasn't concerned that in this day and age that the service, food quality and overall experience would be to much of an issue. Afterall, its is an international cruise line in a competitive part of the world - you are spoilt for choice of cruises. I was wrong. I have traveled to almost 50 countires, stayinging hotels, backpackers, developing countries and have cruised multiple cruiselines. I have travelled during coups and evening been on a tour where someone was abducted. This was worse. I have never written a travel review ever - i never felt passionately enough to be negative about a brand - until now! The service was poor - in fact there was little to no service. When calling from your room with a question or concern you were told you would actually have to visit the customer service desk. The inclusions were minimal - with incredibly high prices for anything above what they considered standard. Tours were expensive - dull and - despite having booked an English tour - in french. The worst of it was the food. The food was so bad i ultimately spent 7 days eating cheese pizza - the only thing edible. To describe this food as hospital food or airplane food would be to do both those things a complete disservice. The food was inedible. To add insult to injury the cruise was not cheap, the tours were not cheap and to have a automatic gratuity that with the exchange rate for me was almost double what i paid on my last cruise was a deal breaker. Furthermore, since we could not disembark on time on the final day i missed two flights, spent 10 hours in an airport and dealt with significant stress because despite porting in the country the cruise line appears to have zero relationship with the Cuban government for disembarkation. For those who say the cruiseline doesn't control this one simple thing would have resolved this. At time of booking don't say you arrive at port if a customer cant actually get off the ship. Its that simple. I received an email asking for my feedback. The email didnt work so i spent an hour searching for an email address to send my feedback before finding a form online. Despite including all of the above and having sent this feedback weeks ago i have had no response from MSC. Quite simply I'm surprised that in a day and age where customer service and experience is king and with plenty of competition that MSC are even still operational with such absolutely terrible service. If I'd even received an apology i would have considered not publicly posting this but as it stands i would not recommend this cruise to anyone and wish i had seen an honest review like this before i booked. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Embarkation was good but not enough signs directing you to the check-in desk or to the ship (MSC was also docked here and their signs were everywhere which made it a little confusing). Disembarkation was very smooth. The cabin was ... Read More
Embarkation was good but not enough signs directing you to the check-in desk or to the ship (MSC was also docked here and their signs were everywhere which made it a little confusing). Disembarkation was very smooth. The cabin was clean and good size but not enough room to put your luggage. The bed was comfortable. The toiletries were good. The towels were OK, a little coarse. Housekeeping was good and helpful. The public area was clean but the decor and furniture were dated and updates are needed. There was only one pool and was very small. The poolside seating was good but the floor was often wet and slippery. The staff at the bar, the lounge and the dining room was friendly and attentive. The drinks were good and they did not cheap out on the alcohol. Good selection in their drink menu. The food at the buffet was good but the selection was limited. The breakfast choices was the same everyday (pretty boring). The food at the dining room was average and not enough choices to choose from. The desserts were below average. There were 2 restaurants but only one was opened. The gym was very small with a just a few equipment. The running/walking track was narrow and short and part of it usually closed. The entertainment was above average. The director was very energetic and entertaining. The on broad activities were average but the staff was pleasant and fun. The staff at the reception was helpful but unfortunately we had 2 unpleasant incidences with 2 of their staff (one of them got offended when we told him he gave us wrong information. The other one blamed and argued with us on the port entry issue) The ports and shore excursions were good. The local guides were very knowledgeable. Unfortunately the ship was not allowed to stop at one of the ports as per the itinerary (Isle of Youth or Punta Francis). Even though they knew about this in advance, they did not make any plans (e.g. stop at other ports) and we just stayed longer in Havana (got quite disappointed). We were party of 4 with no children. Our overall experience was good. We enjoyed mingling with the staff and some fellow travelers, their all inclusive drinks and shore excursions. We would like to try their Greece cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
My husband and I chose this cruise for its itinerary - Havana, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. We are both in our early 30s and had never done a cruise before so we were unsure of what to expect. We read all the reviews in advance and we ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise for its itinerary - Havana, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. We are both in our early 30s and had never done a cruise before so we were unsure of what to expect. We read all the reviews in advance and we had rather low expectations but we were pleasantly surprised. Our documentation said that check in was at 7pm. We dropped our bags at the cruise terminal and spent the day exploring Havana. We returned around 4pm in the hope of checking in early. We were allowed to check in around 5.30pm. This was not a long process. There is a lack of information in the cruise terminal and some people were confused as to whether or not they could leave or if they had to stay but I think this was a port issue rather than MSC's. We had an inside cabin, yes it was small but it was cleverly designed and there was lots of storage. The bathroom was very small but it had everything you needed. Both the room and the bathroom were spotlessly clean and were nicely decorated. Our room was cleaned a minimum of 3 times a day!! We had pre-booked the allgressimo drinks package. I think we paid around £20 per person per day. It was definitely worthwhile. The drinks prices were in line with normal European prices. The drinks options were extensive. Only draught beer was included and there was only one option Heineken. In the Soventto bar you could get other draught beers but as this was the smoking bar we did not go there often. My husband tended to go in for his beer and leave and take it to another bar. In terms of food. We ate in the restaurant every evening. The menu changed daily. There was always plenty of options. We really enjoyed the food. If we were on board for lunch we would normally have the buffet, there was a good selection and we never had any issues with the food. There was also a pizza bar and pasta station and a grill for hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. We did not enjoy the burgers but that was not an issue as there was plenty of other options. For breakfast you had the option of cooked or continental. We enjoyed the theatre shows every evening. Yes they are not the West End but if you expect the West end, go to the West End not on a cruise. There was a casino, a club and lots of choices for bars. Whilst there were 2,500 on board we never struggled to get a seat, sun lounger or wait too long to be served. The day at sea was busy but that is to be expected. We did not book our shore excursions via MSC we booked these in advance before we set off. This was cheaper than booking the MSC excursions. We found ones we wanted to do and just found a company which did the same or a similar trip. There are two gala nights on the 7 night cruise. Some people dressed up some people went more informal. As it is an Italian ship announcements are made in several languages but we found that announcements were kept to a minimum so this did not bother us. You are encouraged not to tip as a daily service charge of around €8 is applied per person per night. You also get charged service on drinks but this doesn't apply if you are on the allgressimo package. There is wifi on board but we did not use it as it was €17 for 60 mins. It was actually nice to be cut off for a while so we did not mind. Overall we really enjoyed the cruise and were very sad when it came to an end. Our experience of MSC was very positive. It has given us a bug for cruising and are looking to do another cruise again next year, whilst we want to try another cruise line we would not hesitate to cruise with MSC again in future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Right from the start we had hassles. We did not embark 'till 19:30 (Correct Time)and as soon as we hit the deck we were harassed by three different staff members trying to sell us drinks packages and this is before we got off the ... Read More
Right from the start we had hassles. We did not embark 'till 19:30 (Correct Time)and as soon as we hit the deck we were harassed by three different staff members trying to sell us drinks packages and this is before we got off the deck. We managed to get to the dining room by 21:00 and same hard sell from the waiter. Still undecided we settled for two glasses of house wine. Seeing as there was no water supplied we opted for the drinks package the next day, only to be told that they could't include last nights wine as it wasn't "House Wine"????? Our Cabin was without a doubt the smallest we've ever encountered on the high seas and Tyrion Lannister would have had trouble getting in the shower! The food was pitiful, you would think on an Italian ship you would get great pasta, not so, cluggy rubbish and the Pizza, we've had better $2 specials from the supermarket, the hamburgers were disgusting, I wish I could post a photo. I ordered steak in the dining room only to have two pieces of beef cut from a roast served up! On every other ship we've been on, hygiene has been #1 priority, the hand wash stands were tucked so far back they were hard to find AND NO ONE checked to see if you had used them! People were picking up food in the buffet with their hands and then putting it down again, gross.The only saving grace on this cruise were the staff, particularly at the reception desk. I guess the deck entertainment was a language thing, but the Three Stooges was never my idea of comedy. We didn't bother with any shore excursions, too pricey, but you get that on most cruises now. Give this ship a "Wide Berth" :-( Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
The trip from Vancouver thru Toronto to Veradaro was exhausting. Then we had a 2 hour bus ride from Veradaro to Havana to get to the cruise ship. After 26 hours of traveling, our bus driver stopped in traffic and unloaded all of our ... Read More
The trip from Vancouver thru Toronto to Veradaro was exhausting. Then we had a 2 hour bus ride from Veradaro to Havana to get to the cruise ship. After 26 hours of traveling, our bus driver stopped in traffic and unloaded all of our luggage onto the street and started to drive away. I stopped him and asked where we should go? He didn't speak English, but through a series of hand signals, the whole bus load of people headed in the direction he pointed. We had to weave between parked cars and street vendors plying for our business over rough streets and sidewalks full of holes, pulling our luggage in tow. We could see the prow of the cruise ship in the distance and headed that way. When we got close enough, we could see that we had walked too far and had to back track to a narrow, crowded hallway that was apparently the cruise ship terminal. We saw a sign that said MSC Opera and a young lady told us to leave all of our luggage and go walk the streets and enjoy the city as we couldn't board the cruise ship for another 4 hours. We all said no that we needed to rest and the poor girl reached in her purse and pulled out her personal keys and said we could go to her house. The group revolted and pressed on past her and found ourselves in an underground parkade where we were again told to abandon our luggage for 4 hours. One member of the group even had her hand physically removed from her suitcase by someone wearing an MSC uniform. We reluctantly left our luggage and found a set of stairs and headed up. There was a couple of dozen chairs and a long counter indicating it was the check in for MSC. AND several hundred people waiting to board. Many, many people tried explaining to the staff that we had been travelling for over a day and needed food, water and a place to rest. I even asked for a wheelchair for a member of the group and was told no. We had to wait until they were good and ready to let us board. Finally we had our photo taken and were given an ID card that was similar to a credit card. When we boarded, we were immediately told that our card was no good and we were to proceed to reception desk on the deck below. There we had our photos retaken and given the card and told that our cabin would not be ready for another 3 hours! UNACCEPTABLE. After some serious discussion, we were told we could proceed to our cabin immediately. Nice... where? Nobody directed us, welcomed us or gave us any kind of orientation to the ship. After finding our own way, we had a brief rest and headed directly for the buffet fearing that we would miss getting any food until the next day. We did eat, but our fears were not unfounded. The formal dining areas have specific times they are open and that is it. The buffet had longer hours, but no where near the 20/24 hours they claim to be open. The buffet closes after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Only pizza and hamburgers are available nearby when the buffet is closed. It doesn't matter how full the buffet is or how many people are still streaming in to eat. They physically remove all of the food and people are left stranded. (no worry about waste, the food is re-served) We found the buffet eating areas very unclean. The floors were dirty to the point that you could skate in your sneakers on the "sliminess" of them. The tables were sticky and staff were slow to clear them. (a trick for the wise... use your napkin that your utensils come in as a mini table cloth so your arms don't stick to the table) Food selection was mundane with a huge emphasis on veal and fish. Vegetables are scarce. You have to pay if you want a steak. Every liquid that you have included in your drinks package has to be signed for after presenting your ID card. We saved most of the tickets that we signed and I totaled them when we got home. At $4.00 for a bottle of water and $4.50 for a soft drink the totals add up pretty quickly. We had a couple of glasses of wine and about 5 cocktails while on board. Our drinks added up to over $400. There is also a mandatory 8.50 euros per person, per day charge for gratuities. I don't mind tipping fairly for service, but on this cruise it was more like they should have paid us a gratuity. The service was non existent. We saw a fellow ask for a spoon for his coffee and the staff pointed where he should go to get it. I had to leave the buffet and go to the bar to get a bottle of water. The hot water dispenser for tea was challenging and we actually sat nearby and for entertainment, hubby made it a hobby to show people how to work it as there were no staff to assist. Before an excursion, we had a question and went to the excursions desk. After waiting in line, I asked my question and the clerk behind the counter told me to go back to our cabin and read the daily paper. I was so shocked I must have had a dumb look on my face, as another clerk promptly stepped in and answered my question. I then turned to the first clerk and said..."see, wasn't that easy?" and left. All of the staff with exception of our cabin boy and server in the dining room, need a lesson on customer service and being polite. They were rude, arrogant and definitely not helpful. We had the consistent feeling that we were a nuisance and that we were there to keep the corporate machine oiled and that they were not there to make our vacation memorable. The entertainment was mediocre, and unless you wanted dance lessons, the activities were limited. The onboard shops were closed most of the time. I think the thing that we found most disappointing besides the food (I actually lost weight) and service was that it was a smoking ship. It reeked. We met and buddied up with a travel group of 14 and they expressed similar concerns to ours. If the MSC cruise line is going to market so heavily to the North American market, they had better learn quickly that our standards of expected service are not the same as what they are offering. I would definitely not recommend this cruise line to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Here is a "summary" of our Cuban trip "a la carte" 12 nights in total (2 land + 7 cruise + 3 land) ... Many details may interest CC members as this was our first time in Cuba ... And it’s the first time I’ll make ... Read More
Here is a "summary" of our Cuban trip "a la carte" 12 nights in total (2 land + 7 cruise + 3 land) ... Many details may interest CC members as this was our first time in Cuba ... And it’s the first time I’ll make such a long post… So 7 nights on the Louis Cristal (25,000 ton ship chartered by Cuba Cruise). We are French speaking Canadians but think our report can be useful to our neighbors from USA as much as those from Canada. I made all efforts to translate, so please be understanding… Saturday 14: Hotel shuttle at 3:00 am for an early flight Montreal / Varadero, arriving around 10:00 ... but the start will be delayed ... There, the plane remains at a distance, and after waiting on the stairs, we are piled with our hand luggage in fairly shabby bus to the terminal ... The fun begins ... We had to wait 3 or 4 lines up before moving to customs, but not a couple at the same time, we have to pass one by one, with picture taking, thorough review of our passports and tourist visa. Forget the slightest smile (I naively imagined that in Cuba, Quebecers would be entitled to a little smile ... Well no, well, no! A custom officer is a custom officer!) In short, it was long, more like us wondered what was going on, the lines were not moving! After more than 1½ hour, we end up almost the last, and then the X-ray ... and then, curiously, the lady employee, poker faced, have no patience and exhort us, rudely and with great sweeping arm gestures to put our cabin baggage, and other belongings in the tray and push on the conveyor (Push! Push !!!) What a coarse welcome to Cuba! Transfer Varadero to Havana at NH Capri (4 *) for 2 nights. The transfer of some 1h30 goes well, by 7 seat minivan, fraternize with a couple of Quebecers who also go to this hotel. At the hotel reception, lukewarm reception, the lady’s obviously afraid of showing us her beautiful teeth ... The room is much too hot, because there is a widget that needs us to insert our key card to get electric current in the place... So rush, please give us come air conditioning! Short tour of 1410 room: it is clearly not in a typical 4-star hotel ... but hey, you're in Cuba and 2 nights, it will not kill us. An important detail for us (we are told that in Cuba and many other places in the Caribbean it is the same): don’t look for facecloths, well this simply does not exist ... Changing money (CUC! follows the USD to nearly $ 0.80) did not have time at the airport, the hotel can: 1.37 CAD for 1 CUC ... nice profit margin ... A good point for the hotel though: the breakfast (included) was of surprising quality! Meeting with a representative of the tour operator in Cuba, Eduardo, friendly and with a quite decent French speaking.It gives us a city map and shared some info, etc. He sold us an interesting guided city tour for the next day, and a dinner and show package for the evening, which included a cocktail Mojito, a good Cuban meal and a fairly exotic show, Cuban nights of the '50s with music, dance, around 15 musicians / singers on stage, dancers, etc. to the "Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro" (29 CUCs pp). Beautiful evening, if not later around us people will begin to smoke cigars ... The taxi to and from the hotel will cost 20 CUCs and will be 30 minutes late (the driver insisted on taking us back to the exact time ...) Finally, between all that, I summarize, with our friends we will felt quite safe in that part of Havana and walked around… but not after sunset ... For drinking water, we found a small kiosk store that sold spring water in 500ml bottles for 0.45 CUC: Affordable, though, at least more than the hotel ... But his landlady quickly shows impatient if we do not seize easily his “rough” Spanish ... Monday 16: We salute our friends after lunch to prepare to leave the hotel, our transfer to the port should take us around noon (Cubanacan) ... finally, it will be somewhat later ... Direction Cruceros Terminal (Cruise Terminal) ; we pass to have our luggage labeled ... and boarding for the cruise on the Louis Cristal (CubaCruises) around 14h ... Welcoming and reception rather cold, somewhat contrasting with what we were used to at Celebrity’s ...; scheduled departure from Havana at 23:30 ... Finally this will occur at 00h30 ... and we'll be in bed at that time! By the way, before entering the ship, we pass through customs, scan / X-ray ... and upon return to earth 30 minutes later to explore the area of the port, we must return to the customs, remonstrate credentials (even with the ship’s ID card in hands) ... Passport, the customs guy told me! - Really? A color photocopy is not OK? - No, the original! ... Well, we go back on the boat, but given the extreme importance of the visa, a little paper we’d better not lose, and since the customs guy only asked for passports, we decided to leave our visas in the cabin safe ... Error !!! Back downstairs, the same guy leafs our passport, frrttt ... - Where is your visa ???... – Hey sir, you did not tell a word about the visa! ... Now it’s too for us! Tired of their ceremonies, we went back on the boat and stay there! Adios, Havana! We spend a little snack at Leda buffet bridge 9. Not bad for a little sustenance ... Do not ask too much, after all! Dining: now: at Almathia MDR, Deck 8, were assigned to a table of 8, with other French-speaking Quebecers, 2 pairs of nice friends,at which table will be added some other nice fellow passengers ... Good point for MDR reception staff who made the effort to group Francos together ... Oh, one other thing: to dine at the first service, we had to show up between 18:00 and 18:15 or it would go to the second service. We are not used this rigor, as we were used to in previous cruises, since with "Select Dining" we could get to MDR between about 18h and 21h, or something near, I remember. Our servers, Sanjeev and Ruwel, as friendly as effective, make our dinner lovely and memorable! Monica always brought us cocktails and wines with kindness and smile. Food in the dining room for dinner: very good and varied in general, except in our opinion for salads, including lettuce, which often lacked freshness (edges "rusty", etc ...) All in all, good points for this cruise! Entertainment on board: good points again. Evening shows at the "Muses Lounge" are entertaining thanks to the excellent performance of singers, dancers and "gymnasts". The cruise director was very good and proactive. One thing negative is that if every evening the content is different, the formula is quite the same. Oh I forgot ... the layout of the room is poor, with too large tables and chairs all stuck ... more cabaret style than theater. Internet access near reception desk: simple and affordable. . Tuesday 17: At Sea. At dawn, our toilet got “shortness of breath” and did not aspire at all. Well, we never experienced this problem elsewhere; however a technician quickly changed the faulty valve. After lunch, explore the new boat ... Short and simple. The ship is clean, but actually ordinary (the travel agent had warned me well, so I cannot blame her), and somewhat banal and childish decoration with these colorful flowers appliques glued everywhere ... We meet our nice maids (well, this is new to us, as during the 6 previous cruises we’ve had men). Like in Havana, no face cloths in the bathroom, but friends give us a hint: we just must ask to our maids. Successfully, we had some every day but I don’t know where they found them, as each facecloth was different in thickness and size… Oh!, I was about to forget: the XD outside cabin is quite small (around 165 sq.ft.); for the safe, well, it is not included in the cruise fare ... An option of $24 CAD for the week ... Which means the loan of a small magnetic "key", and not as usual our free and simple 4-digit PIN ... And do not lose this key, as you owe them $75! The bed: correct comfort, without more, and it is too low, as our luggage this time do not come under the bed. Tomorrow, the first stop. Ah !, an health issue: Cuba does not lace with tourists, as before landing, medical staff (2-3 people) embarks to take our body temperature, thanks to God, they used a digital forehead thermometer ... We go there all in single file, and no one debarks until all passengers and staff have been checked (we’ve never seen that before) ... No matter about the time it will take! Wednesday 18: Antilla (Holguin). Anchor is thrown near Antilla, a small village quickly passed by in small bus to travel to Holguin. But before, our guide stopped us going, face of a small bank and asked whether we would need to get some convertible pesos (CUC) ... I summarize a little, since this is part of a series of Cuban unpleasant anecdotes... We will therefore be two down, it will not be long, I told myself ... Well no, the cashier, kind, however, has been for an eternity with the gentleman in front of me, and then, my turn ... But once back on the bus, the guide calls me to return at the bank, apparently there is a problem with one of the 8 bills I gave her (the brand new polymer 20$ polymer bills I got from the bank!). One of these has an unfortunate defect, as one of the corners is "cut off" approx. ¼ inch ... and the bank will not accept it! I did not have another one and the cashier could not change nor cancel the transaction! Thanks to another passenger who had four 5$ CAD to fix the deal! The bus then starts again to Holguin for the excursion "Life Cuban way" ($ 100 / person, lunch included). Overall, we enjoyed the visit, the native dances and meals on a covered terrace with live music! On the downside, though, and it will happen many times in our visits to Cuba, in some places, such as in a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, there is a “covercharge” of 5CUCs (over CAD $ 6.50) to allow us to take pictures! A first for us, which leaves a bitter taste ... We felt like squeezed lemons. Thursday 19: Santiago de Cuba. Chosen tour "Panoramic Santiago", part of which is in a comfortable bus. A welcome visit with a qualified guide; the changing of the guard near the mausoleum of Jose Marti is a bit disappointing (at the change of the presidential guard in Athens, Greece, we were more enthralled). Friday 20: Montego Bay, Jamaica. Selected tour: Greenwood Great House & Falmouth. Interesting guide during the trip he also teach us about the socio-economic situation in Jamaica. In Falmouth, the ride was cut short, with free time to visit by our own we ended up in a street just in front of a quarrel between two questionable looking guys ... and the parish church which was closed that day. Saturday 21: Cienfurgos. Chosen tour "Tour of Cienfuegos." Again an interesting and varied tour with a friendly and knowledgeable guide, with a last stop at the Palacio de Valle, beautiful building, then close we are given a cocktail and a hellish spectacle on a huge covered patio, near water. Sunday 22: Punta Frances (Isle of Youth). Tender. No tour (in fact, only one is proposed to go snorkel). Beautiful long beach is the only thing if you don’t go snorkeling. Monday 23: Return to Havana; disembarkation. Late by more than an hour, we take the transfer bus to the hotel Melia Peninsula (4½ *) in Varadero for a 3 night stay all inclusive, joining friends who arrived a week before. Hotel check in: really a mess, causing a time waste of 1h30! Beautiful location, paths lined with vegetation, palm trees, etc, a paradise. Bland room, decor zero, needs renovation, including exterior, balcony, etc. Very good service, especially the maid’s. Food: The buffet is large but the dishes are pretty much the same day after day; not suitable with a 4½-star. 24 and 25: The relaxing, beautiful huge swimming pool, a little animation, just enough ... Eating à la carte: the Japanese restaurant is good, we had a lovely evening with our host cook. For other restaurants, our friends had tried them and it was poor (Asian, Mexican and French, I think.) Thursday 26: Up early to catch our hotel transfer bus to the Varadero airport scheduled for 7am ... but arrived at 8:15! Then, at the airport, do not forget to go pay our tax 25 CUC. Soon after, we pass the customs with yet taking pictures, everything goes well for our friends and my wife, but I, well no, the lady customs officer checks my passport and visa, little frowning, made a phone call, then me says - Please go back and wait there five minutes - There is a problem? - No, no, no problem ... Then another lady comes and goes with my passport and visa ... Then she comes back, and customs officer, hands them to me with a simple "It’s OK" ... Do not try to understand! As for the cruise, my wife and I have discussed among ourselves and with other passengers: Overall it was good but if it is your first cruise you could be delighted, as we were in 1984 on a ship half the size! ... I do not say that with condescension, it's just that it can be difficult to imagine what it is to end up on a newest ship, more luxurious, much larger, with many public spaces where entertaining or relaxing and larger cabins ... (The ships photos are great but that's not all, we must have your feet in it!) This ... for a better quality / price ratio, all things considered ... For now, US cruise companies do not go to Cuba ... That could change in the medium term, but is what it will be for the better? Not sure ... Finally, except for pleasant visits, knowledgeable and friendly guides who knew how to take us to beautiful sites, for good Mojitos, I am disappointed in Cuba. We had to have unrealistic expectations from many points of view, first about the Cuban people, whose kindness reputation, overrated, is far from omnipresent, and yet, it is not generally disinterested ... And over all, we never thought we were going to be subject to so frequent and harassing controls, with time loss as important. The numerous transfers (most with Cubanacan company, which nevertheless has beautiful vehicles) are usually very late and poorly organized; before boarding they do not want our e-tickets, and once in the bus then we lose 10 minutes to get the lists checked and take attendance on the bus, etc. A ridiculous and unsafe way of doing.Basically, we combined a cruise with 2 short land stays for an overview of Cuba, but we realize that this formula does not suit us, especially not in Cuba! Mea culpa! Finally, I’ll say one more thing: think twice before booking a similar voyage to Cuba; over all, we spent nearly 8,000$CAD, for 12 nights! Way too expensive, for that price I would have been wiser to book Celebrity! Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
I have been on more than 10 cruises with 6 different cruise lines. I was not prepared for our cruise with Cuba Cruise. The best thing about this cruise was the itinerary. I loved Cuba. I was disappointed in so many things. Free ... Read More
I have been on more than 10 cruises with 6 different cruise lines. I was not prepared for our cruise with Cuba Cruise. The best thing about this cruise was the itinerary. I loved Cuba. I was disappointed in so many things. Free coffee or tea was not available outside dining hours. I thought this was ridiculous. Every ship I have ever been on has a beverage station that offered coffee, tea, iced tea and water. If you wanted a cup of coffee you paid for it. I've never heard of such a thing. There were no snacks available between meals. I was starved between meals. Room service was costly. I had to ask a bar server for water. The food was very good but I was disappointed in the menu. Every cruise I have been on I have had lobster on formal night and a crab dish at least one other night. Not on this ship. I thought the menu very limited and found myself often struggling with what to order as the options were not too pleasing. I don't like the idea of a different table every every night. I like getting to know my waiter and my waiter getting to know me. The drinks were very expensive. The coffee was the best I've ever had a on a ship though. The entertainment was great the 1st night. The dancers are incredible. But after every night it got a little old. We ended up skipping a few nights. I think they should try to supply a little variety, maybe a comedian or game show or something. The ship itself was small and quaint, very clean. Staterooms very clean. I went into the gift shop once and found everything so expensive I never went back. This is unusual for me as I tend to shop a lot in the gift shops. Although the boat boasts about being Canadian and everything in Canadian dollars I was surprised that the casino only took Euros. The slot machines also had minimums which I found strange. Didn't go there again. My most disappointment was when we arrived 5 minutes late on formal night. Dinner was at 6:15 yet the website and our booking confirmation said 6:30. When we arrived at 6:35 thinking we were 5 minutes late we were not allowed in. We were in our formal wear and told to eat at the buffet. We ended coming back starved at 8:15 to try and find a table. I did not find that this ship offers a lot of the little perks and things that other cruise lines do so was quite disappointed. I will also mention that this was one of the most expensive cruises we have been on as well. Not good value for your money in my opinion. Having said that I thought it was a great way to see Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015

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