Cuba was on the 'To Do' List and this was our 4th CMV Cruise so we knew it would be a cruise that we would enjoy in comfort rather than luxury. The friendliness of the crew is a real bonus - when we arrived at the Terminal, our ... Read More
Cuba was on the 'To Do' List and this was our 4th CMV Cruise so we knew it would be a cruise that we would enjoy in comfort rather than luxury. The friendliness of the crew is a real bonus - when we arrived at the Terminal, our Cabin Steward from our August 2016 cruise outside and came over to greet us. Even better was the fact that he had been promoted to Supervisor, responsible for our group of Cabins on Deck 5 and he made a point of 'warning' our Cabin Steward about us - it was like renewing a friendship and that same happy atmosphere continued with our new Cabin Steward, Pandit.
Customer Service was really good across all aspects of the cruise operation. Some Passengers commented that a couple of staff were surly/uncommunicative but my experience was that the individuals had limited English and were avoiding detailed communications where possible. All other staff were very friendly and more than happy to share a joke or banter whenever time allowed.
Embarkation was really quick - we arrived about an hour earlier than our time slot but were booked in after a wait of 5 minutes or so. Disembarkation is always frantic, and, with a 4 days pre-Xmas cruise to follow our 46 night cruise, we had to leave the cabin at 07:00 and lug our bags up to the Palladium Show Lounge before carting them down again (we chose Express Disembarkation for a fast departure). Disembarkation is always frenzied and we had to wait until almost 10:00 before we could leave - tedious waiting around but a small price to pay for such a good cruise.
Dining is either in the Waterfront Restaurant (Open seating for Breakfast and Lunch, 18:30 and 20:30 Sittings for Dinner) or the Plantation Bistro. There are also a small Grill Restaurant and a revolving themed Indian/Japanese/Chinese offering in a cordoned-off area of the Bistro. We did not try the Grill or the Oriental Cuisine offerings.
The Bistro is self-service and for picky eaters like me, this is ideal - there is always a combination of food available. In addition, Salmon and Chicken was available on request. My wife had to make a switch to a low salt diet midway through the cruise and this was accommodated seamlessly. Even when we chose to eat in the Bistro, the Serving Staff fetched the low Salt Meal from the Waterfront Restaurant and served it at our Bistro Table. The service was superb and always delivered with a smile.
Desserts were a little limited - Fruit Crumble and Custard and creamy, sugary blancmange style sweets were the mainstay. Fresh fruit, typically Pineapple and at least 2 flavours of Melon were available at all times. The Bistro has seating and formica-style tables that is more 'Luxurious Works Canteen' than upmarket restaurant. The decor is lifted by Stencilled Bon Mots on the Windows - 'Life is Short, Eat Dessert First' etc.
Menus are repeated every 4-7 Days. For a picky eater like me, this was a bonus since I knew that a suitable offering was never too far away but several cruisers moaned about the repetitive nature of the menu.
Entertainment is the usual twice-nightly show in the Palladium Show Lounge. Dance/Musical productions of a decent, safe level, delivered with energy, rather than innovation, were the order of the day.
The Guest Comedians were pretty dire - one comedian had his heyday in the early 1970s and was still delivering material from that era - toe-curling mother-in-law jokes and non-pc material.
Afternoon Dance Classes were available and the Salsa (in advance of the Cuba visit) were really popular and resulted in lots of laughter from the participants. The only criticism is that the programme was haphazard so Salsa was followed by Line Dancing and then by Ballroom Dancing etc at random intervals. This made it difficult for Beginners to consolidate their learning and subsequent Sessions were missed by the participants.
Lectures were patchy in quality and variety - probably the weakest aspect of the Entertainments Programme. The 46 nights cruise meant that Lecturers were working outside their specialisms and the latter part of the cruise Sessions were a 'Read from the Slide' exercise.
The Physical Exercise Programme was very well operated. Doreen's Morning 'Mile with a Smile' laps around Deck 14 took place at 08:30 exactly on every Sea Day, and finished with a challenging 10 minutes Stretching Class. This was followed at 09:00 precisely by Doreen's Zumba Classes that were very well attended. The only criticism is that attendance at both Sessions meant missing breakfast or a very early meal! Afternoon Stretching Classes of 45-60 minutes with Oleg were very popular and were not for the faint-hearted! Everyone benefited from these 'Easy Effort' (they weren't!) classes.
Shore Excursion Presentations were pretty poor - the Presentational Skills were dreadful and focused more on selling the Excursions, reading out Tour Details from the Slides.
The actual Shore Excursions were well organised and quite reasonable value for money. We took excursions in Ponta Delgada, Uzmal (Mayan Ruins at Progreso), Altan Ha (Mayan Ruins at Belize) and Panama City. At other ports of call, we wandered and explored or visited the Caribbean Beaches. Some of our best moments were meetings with local people on our DIY wanderings. Cuba was the star turn after the bureaucracy of Passport Control and Havana is a safe, welcoming place. We visited a street Bar and I was encouraged to dance with the Band in front of the Diners/Drinkers - after an 8 minutes 'performance' I realised just how unfit I was! In Tobago, a Police Officer suggested a couple of Bars to visit and even accompanied us to the premises!
The Cozumel visit on a Sunday (port shops closed), followed by Belize on Monday (Public Holiday - all shops closed) was not a triumph.
The cruise was one of the best we have experienced, especially when the price paid is taken into account - we paid more for Dinner, Bed & Breakfast in a budget hotel than the nightly cost of the cruise. At the cruise nightly price, economies have to be expected and these are evident in the menu, the range of entertainment and the padding out of daytime activities by (chargeable) Craft Classes.
Good quality service, safe (if unspectacular) budget entertainment, friendly and efficient staff and a great range and variety of destinations in comfortable surroundings - all at a nightly price lower than a budget hotel.
We will certainly take another CMV cruise - it's only a question of waiting for the itinerary that matches our Wish List. Read Less