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62 Montego Bay to Cuba Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise, we were never interested in cruising. Our reason for choosing this cruise was we were able to fly out of Toronto, Ontario (1.5hrs from home) and everything was included for a reasonable price. So we thought ... Read More
This was our first cruise, we were never interested in cruising. Our reason for choosing this cruise was we were able to fly out of Toronto, Ontario (1.5hrs from home) and everything was included for a reasonable price. So we thought let’s give it a try. Positives were........The staff made this cruise one of the best experiences we’ve had. All of the staff were amazing, eager to help, polite and very, very accommodating. We have never experienced staff like this in all our travels. There was a great selection of food and a variety of places to eat. We never had to wait long for meals, line ups were minimal. The ship was kept very clean and the public bathrooms were spotless. There were hand sanatizing stations everywhere. The shows at night 8:30 and 10:30 were fantastic. The ship had designated smoking areas which passengers adhered to. Negatives were.......it would have been nice to have longer in ports. We didn’t like the timelines always worrying about missing the ship. The ship has an indoor and outdoor pool. The outdoor pool could have been bigger, however on sea days the ship never appeared or felt crowded. We had a wonderful time, met very lovely people and would cruise again if it was all included from Toronto, Ontario. Also once again kudos to the staff for making this such a memorable experience, the staff all appear to love their jobs. Well done! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
As first time cruisers we were apprehensive at the point of booking as this cruise (Cuban Fusion and Pride of Panama) was costing much more than we would usually pay on a holiday but as we were travelling for a 65th birthday, we decided to ... Read More
As first time cruisers we were apprehensive at the point of booking as this cruise (Cuban Fusion and Pride of Panama) was costing much more than we would usually pay on a holiday but as we were travelling for a 65th birthday, we decided to stretch the budget for a holiday of a lifetime. Before we even travelled we had countless issues that UK based staff failed to deal with. Firstly, out full Day, evening and full Morning in Cuba was reduced to an evening, a night and we were to set sail early the following morning. Staff at the travel agents were unable to issue any compensation and eventually they had authorisation from head office to credit our onboard accounts with £100. We felt that this was a small amount to only have a few hours in Cuba in a Cuban Fusion cruise (our main reason for choosing that cruise). Throughout the process of complaining about the change we were constantly ignored by Tui, emails were not responded to and calls that they promosed to make back to us never happened. 4 days before we were due to fly, we received an email saying one of our pre booked cabins had been double booked and one of our party had been allocated a new cabin on the other side of the ship with a different muster station. The email stated that they had been trying to call (they hadn’t) and the email was also sent at 17.29 - just as the store closed so we were left panicked and upset as we could not speak with anyone until the next morning. The next morning, we called the store and was told that they would try and get us cabins together. We got a call a short while later saying that they could get us 2 cabins together, but they were twin cabins (maybe bunk beds) and were near the public toilets, lifts and stairs. When booking cabins we researched where to avoid and all the above were mentioned. So we were advised to keep the newly allocated rooms and that it would be sorted onboard. We were very upset and distressed and this was made worse by the rude and incompetent store manager at Waltham Cross telling us that she didn’t have time to deal with it due to January being a busy time and high levels of staff sickness. The flight to Jamaica was fraught with anxiety again made worse by only 4 toilets being available to everyone in economy and one of those being placed out of order within the first hour leaving people queuing down the aisles for over 30 minutes to use the toilets. We were also made to share 1 can of drink between 2 people! Throughout the day of travel we were constantly told us our cabin would be sorted at the next opportunity, when our bags were tagged to cabins at the airport, the port embarkation process and when we boarded, we still didn’t have cabins together. We headed to reception to ask where our cabins were and we were told that we were never getting new cabins, it was a full cruise! We had continuously asked to have a full refund rather than separate cabins but were lured to the cruise ship under false pretences. We were devastated. One of our party suffers with anxiety, which is why it was so important for us to be close by each other but this was totally ignored by Tui. We were left with no option but to go to our separate cabins and get in with our cruise. These are the reasons why we have given the grades below. The cabin, despite the issues we faced, the cabins had a 70’s caravan feel. They were very dated and very small. They did have a lot of storage and were very clean. Sophie, our cabin stewardess was amazing. We loved seeing what animals she had shaped our towels into each night. Dining, islands, lots of choice at all times of day but the menu was quite repetitive, especially at breakfast. Snack shack, was the same food everyday. Surf and turf, limited menu. Glass house was strange- you had to sit through all courses just to get the pizza. We never ate at the other restaurants as men had to wear trousers and closed in shoes which we felt unnecessary as surf and turf and the Asian restaurant were the same. Embarking - when our bags finally arrived at our cabin, they had clearly been left outside in the rain and everything inside was soaked wet through, from close to hair straighteners. It added to our disastrous start. Entertainment - staff who were preforming in the shows were mediocre at best. The daily quizzes very quickly become annoying as they are so loud and are clearly written by a much younger team than your average cruise traveller and the live music is far to loud in the bars. We did see a comedian who was good, 4 tunes were pleasant to listen to but loud, as was Paul Greenwood. We did enjoy DJ Remedi when he was on the pool deck. The gym and running track can not be faulted. Onboard experience & Public rooms there is nowhere near enough space for all guests on board. There is not enough space for sun beds around the pool or deck 10 - people start reserving them before 7am! It’s stated that unused beds with towels will be removed by staff but never were. There were not enough tables in lounges which was made worse when the first show of the evening finished. Also, there is no sitting space without some form of entertainment being forced upon you. Service - this was brilliant by all staff onboard from Lynn Smith, head of guest relations, who helped us with our cabin issue to Tjana in reception, Sophie our cabin Stewardess, Phillip who served drinks round the pool and Live lounge to all the waiting staff in the restaurants. The UK team could learn a lot from the onboard team as they let Tui down. Shore excursions - we have reviewed these separately but in general we found them to be over priced and under whelming. Finally, WiFi, does not have the capability that it should do for £90 for 2 weeks. I rely on the internet to work whilst I am away and it was made impossible due to the internet being so slow and constantly logging me out. We welcome any comments or questions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Boarded ship effortlessly in Montego Bay certainly the quickest we have gone from airport to being onboard Ship staff were brilliant very friendly Disappointed with Havana stop as we arrived around 2pm and then it was a free for all ... Read More
Boarded ship effortlessly in Montego Bay certainly the quickest we have gone from airport to being onboard Ship staff were brilliant very friendly Disappointed with Havana stop as we arrived around 2pm and then it was a free for all to get off 4.5hrs to finally get through customs We were told you could only use Cuban money and to exchange Stirling but this was untrue as Dollars and Stirling were accepted Infact all stops accepted dollars including Columbia and Panama Cartegna port was brilliant as they have a zoo type area when you get off with parrots monkeys flamingos and other wildlife just free to move around Some people said they saw more wildlife here than they did in the rain forest trip off the ship Montego Bay port has a Hard Rock Cafe within walking distance from the ship which has a nice beach where sun beds are $4 each and bar and restaurant and has a free shuttle back to the ship The HR cafe is to the right as you walk out the port and about 5-10mins walk away The cruise itself goes to some great ports we were just disappointed with the entertainment at night which wasn’t great in any bar and he lack of good information when visiting areas off the ship as everything is geared towards you booking trips and not to do it yourself Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Wanted to visit Havana and limited in choice as not a fan of MSC. Liked the Tui dreamliner flights in premium economy. Pleasantly surprised at how good the condition of this older ship was. Great staff and cruise director made it ... Read More
Wanted to visit Havana and limited in choice as not a fan of MSC. Liked the Tui dreamliner flights in premium economy. Pleasantly surprised at how good the condition of this older ship was. Great staff and cruise director made it very relaxed . Food was very good and drink package covered most tastes. Only £50 to upgrade if you want top brands. Would definitely book with Tui again as good value for money compared to most of American owned ships . The evening shows were the best on any ship and geared towards a uk audience. Cabins were fine if a bit dated but the dining areas are very good with excellent service throughout. We ate at the 2 specialty restaurants and surf and turf was particularly good. Gym ,steam and sauna are all included You get your cases picked up outside the cabin on the last night ,delivered to the airport and checked through to your destination,great service with all tips included. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was our first cruise on a European based cruise line as opposed to North American. We were attracted to the all inclusive and air travel options as well as the opportunity to visit Havana which was cut short by Cuban Harbour ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a European based cruise line as opposed to North American. We were attracted to the all inclusive and air travel options as well as the opportunity to visit Havana which was cut short by Cuban Harbour authorites due to lack of dock space which increased our stay in Cozumel. After our arrival in Montego Bay which was a bit of a nightmare and confusion clearing customs and a bus trip through mass traffic jams we arrived at the cruise terminal which is in dire need of an upgrade.Basiclly a very spartan wharehouse. Our ship which used to be the well loved RCL Legend of the Seas is in great shape and all facilities are in top condition. Dining options were many and the food .while not exceptional was satisfactory in the main dining rooms which we used every evening' the tables are arranged in such manner so you can enjoy conversation with fellow diners who were predominately British and delightful conversationalists. The production shows in the show lounge included the best overall vocalists we ever enjoyed on any cruise so far. The all inclusive bar package was great and we were well taken care of in the Atrium bar by the personality plus Maria . Our day in Havana was mostly taken up by utilizing the hop on hop off double decker bus which takes you all over the city, The city is obviously in need of an upgrade which is underway but has a long way to go, Enjoyed the Caymans,very nice and friendly too. All in all would not hesitate to travel with Marella again Read Less
Sail Date March 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
Sail Date February 2018
Cuban Fusion Cruise, Marella Discovery 2, January 2018 Pre-Cruise Stay. As the outbound flight was at 0915, I travelled to Gatwick Airport the night before and stayed in the Premier Inn North Terminal, which is immediately opposite ... Read More
Cuban Fusion Cruise, Marella Discovery 2, January 2018 Pre-Cruise Stay. As the outbound flight was at 0915, I travelled to Gatwick Airport the night before and stayed in the Premier Inn North Terminal, which is immediately opposite the North Terminal, where my flight left from. The room was comfortable and quiet. I had a pleasant meal in the evening with very good service. The next morning I went to check-in and then returned to the hotel for a shower and breakfast. I would recommend this hotel – especially if you fly from the North Terminal. Flights & Transfers. I flew on a 787 Dreamliner in the Premium Cabin. Seats were comfortable with plenty of room in both width and pitch. Food was pretty good and included unlimited complimentary drinks and a welcome aboard glass of fizz. Outbound we had a four-course lunch and then afternoon tea. Inbound, a four-course dinner and hot breakfast. The cabin crew on the outbound leg were particularly excellent. Transfer on arrival was efficient and very good. Luggage was handed in at the airport and transferred direct to your cabin. Immigration forms were dealt with swiftly by three staff in a corridor which meant we did not pass right through the airport, leaving by a side-door straight on to waiting coaches. Very short queue at the rather basic Cruise Terminal meant I was off the coach and on to the ship within about 10 minutes. For the inbound flight, luggage was collected overnight from outside the cabin and not seen again until collecting it back at Gatwick Airport. Good job done by TUI and Marella. Ship. Marella Discovery 2 entered service in 1995 as Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas and remained as such until last year when she was bought by TUI. She had a refit by TUI before becoming Discovery 2. She is smaller by today's standards, being 70,000 tons and taking around 1,800 passengers. Her public rooms had mostly been re-designed by TUI in a fairly light/bright décor and style – certainly more contemporary than classic style. The Atrium Bar, Bar 11 and Venue lounge were reasonably stylish. Personally I did not find many comfortable seats around the ship. The buffet restaurant (Islands) did not appear to have been refurbished and looked tired. The servery area was spacious but the seating areas really crowded with tables very close together. One thing I did find rather odd – Deck 4 is comprised entirely of public rooms (restaurant, bar/lounge/casino, show-lounge) but there are no toilets on this deck! There are two pools – one indoor, one outside. The outdoor pool area was very busy on sea days and also noisy a lot of the time. My cabin was a small inside on Deck 2, which was ideal for one but would have been a bit tight for two travelling together. Despite being almost below a late-night entertainment venue, it was quiet and the bed was very comfortable. The only refurbishment to the cabin appears to be a new carpet, wall-art, TV and maybe washbasin in the bathroom. The furniture was pretty cheap stuff with a 'flat-pack' feel about it. There was a safe (big enough for a tablet) but no fridge. Air-con was just about sufficient but was set at the lowest temperature the whole week. Food. I found the food pretty disappointing in all venues I used. I didn't use any of the for-fee eating venues. Dishes often did not resemble the description on the menu and portion sizes were pretty small – especially considering that dinner is three-courses as standard. In general terms, fruit juices at breakfast were pretty tasteless and the yogurts were a particularly cheap brand. The sausages were disgusting – probably as much cereal content as meat and utterly tasteless. Three specific examples. 1 - They made fresh 'paninis' in the buffet at lunchtime so I tried one. She asked if I wanted “panini bread” so I said yes. In fact it was only a soft baguette-style roll. I asked for cheese & mushroom and she made it with a spoonful of chopped mushroom and 2 small and very thin bits of 'plastic' cheese-slice. I asked for more cheese as I wouldn't have tasted it otherwise. 2 – My main course one night was “Prawn, Scallop and Monkfish Brochette. I had two small prawns, one very small piece of monkfish and a bit of scallop about half the size of a broad bean! There was more red/green/yellow pepper than anything else! 3 – My desert one evening was “Citrus & Coconut Tart”. What came up was like a cheap mousse which tasted of neither citrus nor coconut, that sat on a very thin layer of sponge cake. A table-mate agreed with me about the lack of taste. Solo travellers had a large table set side so we ate together every night at the same table. The main waiter was at times brusque and sarcastic. He did the rounds of the table asking if the food was okay but ignored any negative comments. A table-mate replied one night that her steak was tough – no response! The assistant waiter on the other hand was super – smiling, friendly and helpful. I did have a very pleasant steak one night and also enjoyed a hot souffle for desert one evening. Entertainment. There was a show-team who put on five productions over the seven nights. They were a young team, very enthusiastic but I think struggled with the rather ambitious productions. They seemed to be all-rounders and so not exceptionally good at either song or dance. There was also a set of “trained actor hosts”, who put on a 30 minute play and acted in an 'audience participation' murder-mystery. Both these relied on much double-entendre. There were two main guest acts – Braxi, a husband & wife classical-crossover duo and Dave Kristian, a comedian. Braxi were very enjoyable but I don't really do comedians so didn't attend either of his shows. There was also a number of musicians performing around the ship – saxophonist, pianist/vocalist, guitarist, trio and party band. They were all of a reasonable standard but often over-amplified – especially in the Live Room, a venue I had to leave on a couple of occasions as I just could not stand the noise level. The Cruise Director shared his daily TV broadcast with the Asst CD. I feel they thought they were Ant & Dec... To me, they both had rather irritating voices. Again, much use was made of double-entendre. An example of this is the CD, when making an announcement mentioned he had an early rise the next morning and qualified it by saying - “and that's not a euphemism”. I really am not a prude but felt this kind of thing not appropriate for a CD. All the entertainment team are contracted by Peel Productions – including the CD, so maybe that is why he felt the need to try and be a comic. Ports of Call. George Town, Grand Cayman. I tendered ashore here for a walk around. It is a typical Caribbean Cruise port, with a lot of shopping opportunities! The town absorbed the 14000+ cruise pax well. Obviously there were plenty of excursions available to beaches and attractions. Havana. This was the reason I booked this cruise and it did not disappoint. We were docked right on the edge of the old town, affording plenty of opportunity for independent exploration of the city. This is what I did – on foot – for a day and a half. Plenty of tours on offer and also a HOHO bus. I loved this place. Many of the grand buildings are currently undergoing renovation and if you are not prepared for it, going 'off the beaten track' could be shocking, showing real poverty and squalor. Walking around the back-streets felt really safe and the locals were friendly and interested in you. I felt quite humbled after my visit – the local population here have very little but seem so happy. Cozumel, Mexico. Again, a typical Caribbean Cruise port. If the town of San Miguel de Cozumel ever had any character, it is either now long gone or well hidden. Plenty of beaches on hand and a few tours – the pick of which were to the Mayan ruins on the mainland, a ferry-ride away. 'Destination Services' on the ship should really be named 'Excursion Sales Team' as they gave no information for independent travellers in their “Port Showcase” presentation. A very small amount of basic information was given on the very basic Port Maps available at the desk. General. The Captain was a bit too laid-back and informal for my tastes but did a good job communicating weather and itinerary issues etc. A lot of the crew were friendly and smiley but Bar staff seemed poorly trained and never knew who they should be serving next. In conclusion. In my view and based on this cruise, Marella Cruises are very much a budget outfit and should be looked at as a 'fun, boozy cruise'. It is likely to be your cup of tea if you would prefer Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and Celebrity Juice to Strictly Come Dancing and Have I Got News for You. That's not me being a snob – we all like different things in life and that is absolutely fine. The All-Inclusive offered on all Marella's new ships will mean good value if you like quite a few drinks across the day. Whilst they advertise that the standard AI package includes branded drinks, you have to ask for them by name otherwise they will use the cheap (weak and tasteless) house brands such as Kamel.... Marella Cruises are probably best booked if you can get a late and very cheap deal imho. Read Less
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
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
Sail Date December 2017
Thomson Holidays seems to be going through a period of flux. Companies in trouble often change their name to improve their fortunes, but needing to change it three times could be an indicator of a real problems. This was certainly the case ... Read More
Thomson Holidays seems to be going through a period of flux. Companies in trouble often change their name to improve their fortunes, but needing to change it three times could be an indicator of a real problems. This was certainly the case for our recent cruise on Discovery 2, sailing under Thomson’s newest name, “Marella Cruise Line”, where the Thomson Gold Standard for customer care and support fell by the wayside and resulted in a very unsatisfactory holiday for us. We knew about Thomson cruises prior to our booking to sail on Discovery 2 on the 5th December 2017. We had sailed with Thomson many times before and were looking forward to an excellent holiday. Unfortunately, as things turned out, it was more of a holiday nightmare with poor service from incompetent ill trained waiters who couldn’t pour a glass of wine without staining the tablecloth, then being charged for items that should have been included in the all-inclusive package and then to cap it all, we had items stolen from our cases on the way home. The majority of the crew sounded like they came from Eastern Europe and, while everyone was very pleasant and eager to help, the lack of training showed. The holiday started well enough and the flight from Gatwick was uneventful. The 787 Dreamliner looked new, was very comfortable and, as we flew premium, the food and drinks were plentiful. The seats were very comfortable, but it was disappointing that we were unable to be seated together. We logged-on to the Thomson site to select our seats the minute we were advised that we were able to do so, but all seats apart from four were already taken and there were no two seats together. Apparently you can only get this sort of seat choice by paying an extra fee at booking time. We would later find out just how much was not included in the so-called All-Inclusive package. The problems all started when we arrived in Jamaica. There was nobody from Thomson, TUI or Marella there to meet us. We were met instead by some Jamaican airport workers who corralled everyone from the flight into a hot corridor with no adequate ventilation for nearly an hour while they worked out what to do with us. Nobody in-charge seemed sure what to do next. We were issued security forms and, depending where you were standing in the queue and who you spoke to, you were given different instructions as to how to complete the form. After the fourth change of instructions resulting in form re-writes, we gave up and waited until we got to the front of the line to see what that person wanted on the form. After what seemed like an eternity we were then shepherded onto an old bus with a very loud Jamaican driver who insisted on singing the song “Shame and Scandal in the Family”. He had a terrible singing voice and took great pleasure in telling everyone that he knew his voice was bad, but he said he just had to sing it. When he had finished he told us that he accepted tips in any currency except Jamaican. Not a good start to the holiday. We finally arrived at the ship and joined the queue to provide our credit card details for billing, and to receive our cruise cards. We were then free to board the ship, but there was nobody to tell us where the lifts were or what deck we should be on, or how to find our cabin. Fortunately, as experienced cruise passengers we were able to find our way around, but there were many people standing there looking lost. We found our cabin on deck 8. We had opted for a Junior Suite so that we could have some extra room to move about, but the cabin was small when compared to a standard balcony cabin on some of the P&O ships we had been on. This was a big disappointment as the cabin cost us substantially more than we have ever paid on any ship for a two week cruise. The problems did not stop there, the bathroom had the advertised shower, but it was over the bath and you could only get wet if you bent over to get under the water flow. As to the quality of the cabin, the railings on our balcony had rust spots all over them, and the sliding door kept coming off the rails, which made it impossible to close the balcony door until it was forced back onto its rails. The air conditioning on the ship was generally pathetic and in our cabin was almost non-existent. I spent the entire holiday sweating profusely except in the premium restaurants, (not included in the “All Inclusive”), where the air conditioning actually worked. This was no doubt a cynical ploy to tempt you to use the premium restaurants so that you could enjoy a meal without feeling overheated. This potential benefit was unfortunately spoiled by the service we received despite being charged nearly £30 per head for the meal – more than any other cruise line we have been on, where the price is normally £12 per head. My wife and I ordered fillet steak and the steaks was tiny. My sister in law ordered Dover Sole, which was supposed to be de-boned at the table, but the waiter left most of the bones in the fish, which meant every mouthful of food had bones in it and she had to leave the meal uneaten. The restaurant did not apologise for their error and still charged us full price. The money grabbing does not stop there either. If you wanted a Gin & Tonic it was free, but if you wanted a coffee, it was not included in the package and you had to pay extra for it. In addition, if you wanted the coffee before 10am, you were charged double the price. If you wanted a drink of water you had to pay for a bottle, as water is not included in the package either. True, they had water dispensers on each accommodation deck, but these dispensers are used by people re-filling their water bottles and are not very hygienic. As for the things that were included in the package, the bars served tasteless drinks made with the cheapest spirits with excessive ice in them. If you wanted the so-called premium brands, like you drink at home, you would have to pay an additional £50 per person per week. On top of this, most of the barmen were rude and dismissive – one told me he did not like me because I didn’t find his joke funny. I was not trying to be difficult, I just couldn’t understand his heavy eastern European accent above the noise of the entertainment team running a disco on the upper deck. For the un-initiated, this cruise ship is advertised as “Relaxed” and less formal, which we thought we would try for a change. What we did not expect however was the fact that many people would arrive in the dining room in inappropriate clothing. In the “Glass House” restaurant, people were even arriving in swimming trunks and tee shirts for their lunch. No-one seemed to have any sense of occasion. On the “Dress to Impress” nights, only the women appeared to make any effort. For the remainder of passengers, with few exceptions, the dress sense was decidedly scruffy. If that’s your thing then this cruise is for you, but if you like to dress for dinner and have a sense of occasion, you should avoid this ship like the plague. To make matters worse, the entertainment team, legendary on other Thomson ships, seemed unsure of what to do next when dancing, and one or two of them struggled to remain in tune when attempting to sing. The shows they put on were interesting and will no doubt get better with practice. At each port of call you can opt to take an organised tour. These tours lack content, are very expensive when compared to other ships and are not good value for money. For example, In Guatemala the coach tour we were on had no microphone in the bus, so we could not hear the tour guide speaking and the bus windows had logos painted on them thus obscuring vision out of the bus. The noisy air conditioning unit at the rear of the bus kept spitting water at everyone in range us and, since legionnaire’s disease is spread this way, we were less than pleased and asked to be taken back to the ship. Along with a large number of other passengers, we asked for a refund, but despite only being on the tour for less than 30 minutes, the ship’s customer services said they would only refund 50% of the £84 tour fee. We were informed of this decision by letter sent to our cabin. Customer services would not even talk to us about it. This lack of customer care was continued after our cruise when I complained about items being stolen from my case. I provide full details of the theft, but Marella Cruise Line have done nothing about it. They just sent me an email saying sorry I was inconvenienced and left it at that. There was no return of goods, no offer of compensation and not even an offer of a discount for a future cruise on another ship – the very least they could have done. The days spent at sea, gave us a chance to look around. The ship had previously been owned by Royal Caribbean and had been known as Legend of the Seas. The last scheduled cruise with Royal Caribbean ended on 26 March 2017. The ship was transferred to Thomson Cruises who débuted the ship as the TUI Discovery 2 in Malaga, Spain on 14 May 2017. Despite only being in service for 7 months with TUI, the ship looked like it needed a paint job. There were rust spots all over our balcony and down the side of the ship. However, one side of the ship looked better than the other and this was the side they usually docked on. The shops were few and far between and had very little to excite the senses. Most of the goods on display were overpriced when compared to UK stores, and the staff were not helpful. I could go on and on, but I think you probably get the drift. On the plus side • Great flight if you go premium • Good food • Comfortable bed • Some interesting ports of call On the minus side • All-inclusive package that was poor value for money • Junior suite was small and disappointing – but still expensive • Inexperienced green crew • Rusty ship • TUI take every possible opportunity to charge you extra for something • Poor selection of tours that were overpriced, had unexciting content and were not good value for money • Poor security for our baggage, which resulted in theft from my case • Cases in general were opened and tampered with • Little or no organisation for arriving passengers at Jamaica • Poor customer services with no effort made to please people • Overall an Expensive and very poor value cruise Avoid- you have been warned. Read Less
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
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
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
Sail Date December 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
Sail Date November 2017
Cabin 6204. We chose this cruse because we wanted to see different cities of Cuba without the hassle of travel and hotel changes. We wanted an all inclusive trip and this was perfect! And the People to People program was of interest to us ... Read More
Cabin 6204. We chose this cruse because we wanted to see different cities of Cuba without the hassle of travel and hotel changes. We wanted an all inclusive trip and this was perfect! And the People to People program was of interest to us and I must say the instructors on the ship were excellent and we enjoyed all of the classes. It made the trip much more interesting. Kudos to Jerry and Jorge for their excellent teaching and information, we now have a much better understanding of the country and it's history thanks to them. We had a junior balcony suite and it was very comfortable. The only thing I would say is bring a 3 way adapter for the one and only 120v electrical outlet to charge multiple devices. If you have European gear and plugs no worries. Not a lot of closet space for long items but you don't need a lot of clothes for the trip anyway. Bath and shower a little tight but it's not a big boat! I would like to say Thank you to all the crew of the Crystal. They went above and beyond in all areas to make this a trip to remember. Thanks to Raphaella for keeping us up to date on tours and tickets, she has a great big smile and was always watching out for us. Raphaella my hair is blond remember! Thanks to Martha for teaching me how to 1,2,3 and boom! I can't dance any better but I look good! Thanks to Mahley my Karaoke Queen from her King! And Vladimir (Stop the bus), thanks for the fun and games. To the cast of the theater and the band all I can say is WOW! You amazed night after night show after show. Your talent is amazing. Thanks to Big Willie and all the dining crew that made every meal an event! To Rubia; Thank you for your beautiful smile and always watching out for us and taking care of us. You were a pleasure to be around everyday. Special thanks to Danny for his never ending energy and flow of information. He was a pleasure to be around anytime of the day or night. He is like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going and going and going! And to the medical crew a special thanks also for their treatment of my minor sunburn, you were wonderful! This was absolutely one of the most enjoyable cruses that we have been on. I would recommend to everyone that if you are considering a cruse to Cuba, based on our experience this is absolutely the one to take to see the country and have a wonderful time. Thanks again to the wonderful team on the Celestyal Crystal, you were wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Chose this cruise due to price and location. Had a Jr. Balcony Suite. This room had a very poor.. There was a refrigerator in the middle of the closet, thus no room to hang clothes unless they were to lean against the frig. The safe was on ... Read More
Chose this cruise due to price and location. Had a Jr. Balcony Suite. This room had a very poor.. There was a refrigerator in the middle of the closet, thus no room to hang clothes unless they were to lean against the frig. The safe was on the floor had to get down on a knee to use. Then if following the instructions that were with the safe was not the way I was showed how to use the safe. Maybe saw the cabin steward twice the whole week and it was at least day 3 before even knew if room steward was male or female! Had sign in room if left towel hanging then would not change, but changed every time. The trash cans were the ones with step on lids, what a pain. The toilet paper holder was a reach for even me a tall person, the the end of the roll is looped inside the roller!. The front desk could never really answer any questions! The food variety was a little to be desired! The fact that you had to pay to get a hamburger was astonishing and no ice cream outside restaurant without paying. The activities were a joke, no prizes, except you got to keep your answer sheet! We only saw the cruise director when she introduced the shows! They would leave a polish on the hand rails so after you came down the stairs your hands would be black! The way they did the white drink package was totally a mystery as to why it worked the way it did. For every time you ordered a drink they had to scan the card even if you were still in the same location. The excursions were good you just never knew how long they were going to last, The disembarkation was a real joke as you did not know what time you were to depart and when they made an announcement you could not hear ir even setting in a lounge! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted a convenient way to see multiple cities in Cuba, not have to worry about accommodations and satisfy to OFAC requirements since we are US citizens. We were not disappointed. First off, to address ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted a convenient way to see multiple cities in Cuba, not have to worry about accommodations and satisfy to OFAC requirements since we are US citizens. We were not disappointed. First off, to address the ship. It is a relatively older ship. It does not have a rock climbing wall, it does not have a water slide, and yes the cabins are on the small side. But that is not why we went on this cruise. We went to see Cuba. And that we did. Three cities in 7 days, with an overnight in Havana. We wished we could have had more free time in Santo Domingo de Cuba and Cienfuegos, but I think the tour operators were trying to make sure that they were compliant with the people to people requirements. The Afro Cuban dance demonstration went on a little long. People in Cuba were very friendly, and there was no anti-American sentiment that we saw. Or maybe we were mistaken for Canadians :-) Prices for souvenirs are reasonable, except for cigars, which we were warned to buy only in certified stores because there are a lot of counterfeit ones on the streets apparently made of banana leaves. We did not have any of the boarding issues in Havana that other people have commented on. Apparently there is now room for two ships to dock at the same time in Havana. Now, back to the ship. The week we sailed, there were only 150-180 passengers, depending on where they embarked. Partially because of this, service was outstanding and the restaurant manager told us to consider this our private yacht for the week. Although it was open seating, we chose to sit with our same waiter, Manuel, and our wine steward, Monika, every night. Hats off to both of them and we promise we didn't steal any silverware! Menu choices were pretty standard, though some of the dining options weren't open due to the limited number of passengers. We would have hoped for a bit more light options at lunch as well as some healthier options at dinner. We had a Junior Executive Balcony Suite, Room 611. It was small, but the balcony was more than adequate for two people to sit out and read at night. It was on the starboard side, I would suggest trying to get one on the port side if you want to get more land views at sea, since the island is circled counter clockwise. On board lectures were excellent, thank you Dr. Jorge, and don't worry about missing any of them. Nobody takes attendance except for the muster drill, which is conveniently combined with a Cuban history lecture. Others have commented on the entertainment. The ships Havana-based band rocks. I am now a new fan of Afro-Cuban music. I could listen to those guys every night (and did). The shows were also surprisingly sophisticated for a ship that size. Would we do it again? Yes, but not in June. Its hot. One can only drink so much Crystal and Bucanero to stay hydrated. Tips: 1. Port side cabin 2. Although some US citizens embarked in Havana, it seemed to make more sense to get on in Montego Bay. Since we weren't on a beach excursion kind of trip, we used Montego Bay as our travel day, allowing us more time in Havana. Those that got on in Havana missed the walking tour of the city. 3. Remember, you're going for the destinations, not the ship Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
This objective-chronological perspective of Cuba is provided by Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD , Havana University. Professor Arocha covered all important ports of call providing historical, cultural and architectural information in a ... Read More
This objective-chronological perspective of Cuba is provided by Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD , Havana University. Professor Arocha covered all important ports of call providing historical, cultural and architectural information in a colloquial manner . Each and every one of the towns visited was a vivid picture that solidified the historical, architectural and cultural presentations made on board. All shore excursions were perfectly geared to the presentation on-board, providing a platform for us to interact with the people, the music, the culture itself. This jelling experience is The Authentic Cuban Experience. As for the ship experience itself, I was pleasantly surprised. Dining Room Exp: Food was delicious and authentic. I really enjoyed my lunch and dinners, when time permitted, at The Almanthia. Jose Luis, "Rest. Captain" has a welcoming smile and handshake for everyone which makes you feel "at home". Monica and Luis are excellent members of the wait staff but they also have the quality of making you laugh, which is medicine for the soul. That's an A+ in my book. I must mention Edel and Ricardo, "Rest Capt." from LEDA Deck Rest. Also gracious hosts with a sunny disposition. Our Cabin was impeccable every day, with special towel art presented by Vivianne and Ernesto. (5th Deck) All special requests were acted on immediately. They both were so attentive, always providing service with a smile. Entertainment on board were spectacular, thematic shows, provided by a team of polifacetic artistic acrobatic-singers, MC'd by Danny-from Romania, Cruise Director. Based on this experience, I'm already planning my next Cruise with Celestyal - Crystal...Thanks for the opportunity to share, Kudos to these people who make cruising fun as well as a learning experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Picked this cruise as it is the only itinerary that circles Cuba and makes 3 major port stops: Santiago, two full days and overnight in Havana, and Cienfuego. Originally, the itinerary included Maria Gouda but that was replaced with stop ... Read More
Picked this cruise as it is the only itinerary that circles Cuba and makes 3 major port stops: Santiago, two full days and overnight in Havana, and Cienfuego. Originally, the itinerary included Maria Gouda but that was replaced with stop at Punta Frances, which was dropped from the itinerary. We were not notified of this until two days before departing. Would have been nice to know but it actually turned out fine. Punta Frances is a marine preserve and Cuba is evaluating the impact on the environment because of the increased cruise ships. In the end, the itinerary was packed full and wonderful in any case. This is a fabulous cruise, especially for Americans who have to participate in the People-to-People experience. DO IT! You will be immersed with Cuban artists, dancers, musicians throughout. Entertainment on board each night is spectacular -- first rate!!! All performed by Cubans, who love to talk about Cuba and learn about USA. The excursions gave many opportunities to interact with Cuba culture and talk to people. All guides were Cuban. We had THE BEST lectures on board done by a young Cuban professor -- he was fun, full of information, dedicated to "teaching" us, answered all kinds of questions and spent endless hours talking to us about anything and everything. A big THANK YOU to him and all the performers and cruise director, Danny, and whole animation team. What a great trip and experience. Cabin great. Stayed in 7001 with two other friends. Two-room suite, lots of closet space, great bathroom, spacious balcony. Food sometimes really good; sometimes only fair. Wine list very lacking. Buffet breakfast food always cold, but you can have omelets or waffles made and they were hot and great. You don't take this cruise for the food. Pool small, most of the trip not operational because of netting over it because of waves; never saw anyone in it. No place to sit in loungers after swimming anyway. You don't take this cruise for the pool, but that doesn't matter. You take this trip to see CUBA! and see and enjoy you will. I've been all over the world and this visit to Cuba was powerful. GO! And go on this cruise for a full, real Cuban experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Going to Cuba has been a life-long dream of mine, which I realized this past February onboard Celestyal Crystal. I did lots of research on here which helped with my decision. I hope my long review helps some of you! This was my 30th ... Read More
Going to Cuba has been a life-long dream of mine, which I realized this past February onboard Celestyal Crystal. I did lots of research on here which helped with my decision. I hope my long review helps some of you! This was my 30th cruise, and I will admit that I am a big fan of smaller, more traditional ships. The Celestyal Crystal was perfectly-sized for the smaller ports of call in Cuba such as Santiago and Cienfuegos. I consider this less a mainstream cruise than a casual learning experience with like-minded passengers. Unlike the Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean ships that are now starting to visit Havana, this wasn't about a fun-and sun vacation and quite frankly I was glad to be there just ahead of the cruise ship invasion. While this is sold as a "5-star ship" it is clearly not; it is a comfortable, unassuming vessel which I became quite fond of but will not appeal to everyone. You can either board the ship in Havana, or in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I opted for Jamaica mostly because by doing so, there is more time for you to enjoy in Havana as a passenger, versus boarding the ship in Havana and losing a significant part of the overnight stay. I will also point out that on our sailing the guests embarking in Havana did not get to embark until probably 9pm...meaning the whole day that we had just enjoyed in Havana was a waste to them. Additionally, Montego Bay has an excellent airport with a great VIP lounge, Club MoBay, which I highly recommend. As an American passenger, I was signed up for the People to People program sold as yourcubacruise.com. Due to US Treasury restrictions, US passengers can only visit Cuba for 12 specific reasons, the most lenient being the previously-mentioned P2P program. While there were Cuban entertainers, lecturers, etc. onboard, the primary "requirement" of the program was participating in the included shore excursions in Santiago, Havana, and Cienfuegos. At the end of the trip, you receive a certificate which you are advised to hold onto in case you are ever asked for it by the US governement. I doubt very seriously if this would ever happen; accordingly, there were passengers who participated fully, some did not. In the case of Havana, there is a tour both days. On the second day the excursion was over around noon, and then I spent quite a bit of time walking by myself all over Havana. I will say, there are quite a few tourists in Havana; some areas of old Havana near the dock and the central squares were downright crowded. When you got out of that locale, it was much more casual. Cuba's largest economic engine is now tourism. The Celestyal Crystal Cuba cruise is interesting in several ways (to me at least)...first and foremost it wasn't a typical cruise environment although the ship had really good facilities for her size (25,000 tons). The passengers onboard were there primarily to see Cuba and the ship was secondary; a form of transporation. The ship does NOT have the mainstream cruise amenities like rock walls, water parks, etc. This is a traditional cruise ship which has been, among other things, NCL's Leeward, and a Silja Line Scandinavian cruise ferry. Much of the ship is dated in that 1990s fashion, with the reflective ceilings of that time and more pastel colors and brass. I loved many things about the Crystal, such as the real teak decks, the ability to walk completely to the bow (on most days, and especially spectacular when arriving or leaving port), and the great bar and terraced decks overlooking the stern. Recently, a number of balcony cabins were added to the ship. In addition to American passengers, the Crystal attracts an interesting cross-section of Cuba-centric travelers: lots of Canadians, and in Havana a large number of Germans arrived. The split boarding also means a portion of the passengers will change out during the voyage. In many ways, this was an EXCELLENT value trip: I went single occupancy, and was originally booked in an outside cabin at the usual 2x premium. Later, there was a single special offered with no single supplement...to take advantage i moved my departure date forward by several weeks and moved to an inside cabin vs. an outside one. Also, tips were included as was a beverage package. This all added up to a really great value. Haven't had an inside cabin in forever but the savings made it a no-brainer; while it was rather small it had been recently had some renovation. One important consideration is that the cabins don't have many electrical outlets. Mine for example had one US fixture and one European one...accordingly I carried an adapter and could use both outlets which is important on such a photo-centric itinerary where you need everything to be charged and ready! The bathroom is rather small and dated but the shower was really nice with a curved glass door. Some reviewers have mentioned the moody plumbing onboard, but I had no issues with my cabin toilet...I suspect this problem exists in certain areas of the ship, for example lower decks. As I mentioned, the Crystal is a small ship, 25,000 tons, about 500 feet...it is extremely easy to get around from day one...there are two elevator/stair towers which you can almost see from each other...there is a pool with glass cover, which stayed semi-open the entire trip...there is a tiny jacuzzi at the stern near the bar which perhaps could fit 4 people. There is a surprisingly large 2-story show lounge and a tiny casino which I never saw a soul in. The dining situation onboard is as follows: compared to a mainstream megaship, there is less food availability, which wasn't an issue for me. There are two smaller dining rooms (one each on Decks 5 and 8) which operate with the same menu. Additionally, there is a small buffet restaurant on the port side near the pool (with another one on the starboard side for overflow seating). I doubt that each restaurant seated more than 100 people. I ate in the sit-down restaurant several times...you can arrive between 6 and 8:30 or 9; you are seated at random with other passengers. At the buffet, it was easier to have your own table. The dining room menu offered a Cuban specialty each night. I got quite frankly bored with the food at the buffet...basically it was either: chicken legs, pasta, and a fish fillet. Each night, the preparation of the three changed. There was also a carving station. Other than breakfast, lunch, and dinner, your other dining option onboard is free room service, which looked nice. I honestly didn't miss the usual mountain of food usually found on cruise ships. I could bore you with all sorts of Cuba info but I figure you are primarily here for the ship info! I will say that Celestyal Crystal is the perfect-sized ship for Cuba. In fact, the size of most Cuban ports thankfully exclude the new mega ships...the largest ships going to Cuba seem to max out around 70,000 tons. I saw three other cruise ships in Havana, the European MSC Opera one day and MSC Armonia the next. Also, the tiny Hamburg was there. Being that there is only one currently-operating pier in Havana, we had to play musical ships on our cruise...on our first day in Havana, we had to arrive at the dock, disembark all the passengers, then the ship had to anchor in the harbor to make room for another ship...during which time the Cuban government wouldn't allow tender access. This made for a very long day in Havana: we weren't able to reboard the ship until around 9pm that night...in fact we were scheduled to reboard earlier but there were issues which delayed that. Also, the People to People shore excursions were quite good (there's nothing I hate more than a bus tour usually). The guides were generally open and frank about life in Cuba. To compensate for the additional time in Havana which we couldn't access the trip, a nice lunch was added to the trip. I will be glad to answer any Cuba-related questions you have. The most important thing I will tell you is to absolutely positively have your passport on you at all times as well as your Cuban visa, which is included in the ticket price. You will also need CASH, as US credit cards (with one exception, those issued by Stonegate Bank in Florida) do not work. There are currency exchanges at all three ports, which will charge you about 10 percent. It is also very important to remember there are TWO currencies...a Cuban peso and a tourist peso. Be careful receiving your change as they have vastly different values. In conclusion, the Celestyal Crystal is a great way to see Cuba as you circumnavigate the entire island. The size of the ship is, for me, perfect. You won't have to worry about the expensive (and mostly subpar) hotels available in Cuba...and in the instance of my sailing the prepaid gratuities and beverage package were nice bonuses. Your fellow passengers will be a more worldly lot, primarily interested in the uniqueness of discovering Cuba versus having a traditional tropical cruise experience. The food onboard was OK but there was one fantastic Cuban waiter who constantly smiled and seemed to sincerely enjoy his job. I'm trying to remember his name. Alberto maybe? I found the staff to be really great onboard, although some were initially more reserved. Both the cabin attendants were perfect and took great care of the room. During my voyage there were several issues at the reception desk...my problem got fixed immediately, however a friend onboard go the runaround for 6 days regarding his issue. I think this was a personality issue on both his behalf and whomever helped him. Other than that glitch, I really liked the staff; one day, it struck me that every single crewmember I encountered had greeted me with a smile and a "good morning" etc. I thought the senior management onboard however was distant and treated passengers as an imposition on their ship. Maybe this was my perception. Overall though, the general friendliness level was much greater than the impersonal megaship I cruised on several months earlier. If you aren't expecting a spanking new, huge resort-style ship, and you want to make a historic trip to Cuba in an intimate setting with passengers interested in the same, Celestyal Crystal is a good value, especially for small-ship lovers not expecting the latest amenities. Next year, Celestyal is adding the Celestyal Majesty (at one time NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to the Cuba lineup. I am seriously considering taking another trip onboard Celestyal Crystal to Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We usually cruise with P & 0 or Royal Carribean. We chose this cruise because it called into Havana. The ship felt dated and needs some attention. The itinerary was changed round and port arrival times changed which meant prebooked ... Read More
We usually cruise with P & 0 or Royal Carribean. We chose this cruise because it called into Havana. The ship felt dated and needs some attention. The itinerary was changed round and port arrival times changed which meant prebooked excursions had to be changed. Freedom Dining was ok and food was ok but have to say the choice from the buffet was limited. Beware there is a charge for safety deposit in you cabin which is ridiculous another way to make money which is wrong of Thomson to do this. Cabin was directly underneath the show theatre and very very noisy, no peace or relaxation at all when in the cabin as practising for the shows all afternoon and then the actual show in the evening till 23:30. Swimming pool on deck 11 needs some attention as damaged. We took the All Inclusive option but not everything included, most cocktails were but if you had one that used Absolute in it instead of Smirnoff then you were charged. Don't know why it's brand specific. Don't think l'll choose Thomson again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I have read positive experiences on Thomson Cruises. Now afterwards I can confirm they are correct. Thomson Dream is a great ship, fully renovated but with a beautiful interior and warm personality. The cabins were spacious and ... Read More
I have read positive experiences on Thomson Cruises. Now afterwards I can confirm they are correct. Thomson Dream is a great ship, fully renovated but with a beautiful interior and warm personality. The cabins were spacious and comfortable. The staff was in my opinion outstanding. They really love their work and you realize how important service is, in such a competitive Cruise industry. The entertainment on board is first class, fun and really good. The food was very tasty and there were plenty of choices. We did not use the a la carte restaurants because the food in the buffet restaurants was just great. Thomson offers high quality excursions where everything runs smooth. They are totally worth the money. Drinks prices are fair. The only thing we did not like, is the very early checkout when you arrive back from your trip. Also the pool is quite small and is not that inviting. On the other hand. there are so many beds to lay on and sun decks that you don't really need it. But it is good it is there in case you want to cool-off. The boarding and off boarding procedures in Montego Bay are somewhat uncoordinated and a bit confusing. But Thomson tries to help and puts plenty of staff on the ground in case you need to ask. There is so much to do on board. You will never get bored. If I could get another interesting cruise along my preferred dated on the Thomson Dream, I would not hesitate and book again. Me and my wife even miss the ship sometimes and we look on the Cruise Mapper app, where she is currently sailing. Thumbs up, well done and big thank you to the entire staff of the Thomson Dream. It was our first ever cruise and we will go again soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Let me start by saying I am not a frequent cruiser. So my review is not a comparison to other cruise ships. Our objective was to see Cuba in different ports above and beyond just Havana with the convenience of having our accommodations ... Read More
Let me start by saying I am not a frequent cruiser. So my review is not a comparison to other cruise ships. Our objective was to see Cuba in different ports above and beyond just Havana with the convenience of having our accommodations follow us around the country and not deal with hotel jumping. My wife and I really enjoyed our week on the Celestyal Cruise around Cuba. We were happy with the 3 ports of call and we knew going into this that the ship is older and somewhat dated so our expectations were in accordance. We were pleasantly surprised at the comfort of our cabin (6013 SBJ), the extreme cleanliness of the ship and the overall great service! The food was plentiful and delicious. It was certainly not gourmet but it was good quality. The evening entertainment was great and the Cruise director, Danny, was fun and very energetic! It was nice that the whole cruise was of a Cuban flavor, from the food to the Cuban entertainment to the authentic Cuban cocktails! For us US Citizens this cruise was a convenient way for us to see the country according to our travel restrictions. The guided tours were thorough, comfortable and educational. They do have some room for improvement but everyone wants different things out of their tour so you can get it 100% for everyone. It was great that we were able to spend two days in Havana and that us US passengers had some free time to get out and around on our own. My wife and I took full advantage of that and explored quite a bit of Havana beyond the included excursions. Be sure to take an Old Car taxi tour. For about 40 CUC pesos ($45) the driver will take you around Havana for about a hour. Try for a convertible if possible. Great way to see the sites!! So overall we loved our trip and the cruise ship. Manage your expectations and have a great time!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I was the Group Leader for 18 USA passengers on a People to People tour to Cuba in early January 2017. Most were between 60 and 75 years old. We selected cruising, in part to avoid long, cramped bus rides which would otherwise be needed ... Read More
I was the Group Leader for 18 USA passengers on a People to People tour to Cuba in early January 2017. Most were between 60 and 75 years old. We selected cruising, in part to avoid long, cramped bus rides which would otherwise be needed to see much of Cuba over a week. Celestyal represented we would have stops in Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Punta Frances, and Cienfuegos with their voyage beginning and ending in Montego Bay Jamaica. Once aboard we learned from other passengers (not Celestyal) that Punta Frances had been deleted from the itinerary. Travel there had evidentially been prohibited by the Cuban government months earlier but no advance notice was given to me or members of my group. The company still falsely represents on their website that it is included as part of the trip. Then, the evening we sailed from Montego Bay to Santiago de Cuba, a crew member advised one of my group that it was unlikely we would go to Havana. it was, however, only after departing from Santiago that the ship advised that "technical reasons" linked to bad weather on the north coast of Cuba would preclude our ability to dock in Havana. We were advised that instead we would spend the balance of our trip at the port of Cienfuegos. So much for cruising! The solution Celestyal felt appropriate was to arrange 2 days of bus trips from Cienfuegos to Havana (8 hours of round trip travel time each day) in a bus without a working toilet. They also arranged a bus trip (3 hours round trip and again no working toilet) to the colonial city of Trinidad. The excursion included a welcome drink, a lunch, and a visit to one museum. No offer was made to compensate passengers for the meager, physically challenging, and educationally devoid substitute itineraries offered to replace the cruise we signed up and paid for. All of this said, the ship itself was clean and comfortable, the food was acceptable, and most of the crew did their best to make the best of a bad situation. I attribute the universal belief of my group (and almost certainly the balance of passangers) that they were grossly shortchanged by Celestyal to poor decision-making by company's senior decision-makers and owners. Passengers never did receive a complete and plausible explanation of w docking in Havana (the reason most had come on the voyage to begin with) was not possible. The alternative arrangements offered were worthless. And continuing to advertise an itinerary that includes Punta Frances ought to be illegal if there is no possibility of stopping there. he senior management of Celestyal was tested and found to be lacking. Future visitors to Cuba...forewarned is forearmed. A fish begins to stink at the head and 18 of us just spent a week holding our noses. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017

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