10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We, as most of the passengers on this ship, choose it because it promised so much time on land in Cuba. THAT was LAST year, NO LONGER. We were in Cuba ONLY 3.5 days. And the ship constantly blamed the government when that was not usually ... Read More
We, as most of the passengers on this ship, choose it because it promised so much time on land in Cuba. THAT was LAST year, NO LONGER. We were in Cuba ONLY 3.5 days. And the ship constantly blamed the government when that was not usually the case. Crew members readily admitted that they could not remember ever being on land for seven days. Furthermore, we are cruisers who typically sail with Oceania or land trips with Tauck, both are higher end, more pricey than average vacations. This Pearl Seas cruise was the MOST EXPENSIVE per day vacation we have ever taken. It was not even worth it at half price. Go to Cuba any other way that you can. Here is the reality. While Pearl Mist was one of the first to go to Cuba in-depth, it is now being pushed out by ANY larger ship because there is more money in allowing the larger ships to use the very LIMITED port facilities (only two ships can dock in Havana at one time). Does the government want the 200 pax ship or the 2-3,000 pax ship?? The same thing happened in Cienfuegos, with buses and tour guides. The larger Oceania ship went to the Botanical Gardens; Pearl Mist told us that the gardens closed early that day. We did not see the gardens. The food was barely average. There is always a chicken, fish, meat and veggie option, they were always just a little strange, not continental. The chef and kitchen staff are all Filipino. Furthermore, the waiters did not want to hear about any variations on the menu. For example, the salad course offered Caesar salad with shrimp. I did not want the shrimp; the waiter said it would be a problem as the salad was already plated. I repeated my request, and he said he would try. Luckily I am not allergic, as someone just took the shrimp off the salad. Any request for meat that was less than well done was NEVER executed; it was always overcooked. The ship has only one dining room option, there is no casual eating restaurant. Furthermore, this ship is sea worthy enough to make the trip, but if there is ANY rough weather, you will be unhappy (and most likely sea sick). Most pax were sea sick for several days. The good news, the rooms and baths are spacious, but no refrige. Internet is included, but so slow that it reminded me of 30 years ago dial up. TV is satellite and limited. The lectures were good, the music was not. AGAIN, GO TO CUBA ANY OTHER WAY YOU CAN. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The Pearl Mist and Pearl Seas Cruise Line represent a missed opportunity. This cruise missed the mark in several ways, but fulfilled many of my main goals for the cruise: the food was great and so was the room turn-down service. Every day ... Read More
The Pearl Mist and Pearl Seas Cruise Line represent a missed opportunity. This cruise missed the mark in several ways, but fulfilled many of my main goals for the cruise: the food was great and so was the room turn-down service. Every day the dining room was open for about 2 hours for each meal. There was no assigned seating and it was never dressy. The service was expedient and the food was varied and almost always very good if at the very least acceptable. The staff taking care of the rooms did an excellent job and were just and friendly and nice as the wait staff. So why is this review a “poor”? Just about everything else. The Pearl Mist was built in 2007, but actually went into service in 2014 due to a legal dispute that like everything else on this cruise is poorly explained with murkey details. The ship is small. Really small. With three lounges and a fourth being used as a storeroom, this vessel was designed to rely on ports to entertain people. The rooms were small but not intolerable and all but one have a balcony. The beds were very comfortable but the furniture was dated, and the comically small TV in all the rooms had a screen smaller than my laptop’s but a wide variety of cable channels. There’s a small desk and the bathroom is a nice size. The lounges are also fairly nice with comfy couches and then less comfy chairs along with a veritable vending machine of snack foods and canned drinks. No part of the ship exceeds one floor, which leads to a very claustrophobic feeling unless you go to the top. There’s also only one elevator and it was closed without announcements twice during the cruise - it’s a long walk from the cabins on the fifth floor to the first floor dining room. The real problems with cruising aboard the Pearl Mist started once we left the port. First, our schedule was changed without notice such that we lost days in all of our Cuban ports and added an afternoon in Freeport. Our room was also changed two days before the cruise without notice, apparently even to the baggage people who delivered our luggage to our old room, and then took ages to deliver it to our real room. The sea days were painful with few activities. There is no pool, there is no theatre. There are lectures and Boards games. The lecturers were quite good on the history of Cuba and eniriched the cruise greatly - the board games were fine. After two consecutive sea days we arrived only minutes late to Santiago De Cuba. This was my favourite port at which we stopped as we had a full day of excursioning and entertainment off the ship at a local hotel. Speaking of entertainment, the entertainers aboard our vessel performed almost every night on two electric guitars and seemed keen to play the same songs almost every night. Because the cruise was to Cuba most of the shore excursion were run by their government and went like clockwork. However, the lack of information given to us made it difficult to arrive to tours on time or even know where a tour was going and how to get there. Most of our shore excursions were quite good, except for Cienfuegos where they didn’t go to the botanical gardens and instead we were guided around a crowded shopping district. Why couldn’t we go to the garden? Apparently it was Christmas Eve and all the guides were off celebrating. That would make sense except the other ship in the port had 3 excursions to the same botanical garden throughout the day. The concealing actions taken by the cruise directors were routine and made the cruise difficult on and off the ship. We were seldom told when we were delayed and even less frequently why. No matter what we never received an apology for tardiness and lack of organization. We probably lost 3 hours in our ports because of various uncategorized delays that were never explained or acknowledged by the cruise directors. Some would blame this in the Cuban government’s disorganization, but when we had the misfortune of visiting Freeport (which is a real harbour with a large harbour authority) we docked a full 45 minutes late. We visited Freeport to (I guess) make up for the day we seemed to loose in Havana (this is all extrapolation because we were never told about it). Apparently the Cubans bumped our boat out of Havana harbour early so we only had 7 or 8 daylight hours in what was supposed to be the centerpiece of our Cuba cruise. Then we went to Freeport, packed onto rented busses, went to two destinations before the drivers decided it was too dark and late and brought us back to the ship halfway through the tour - all while our cruise directors went out on the town to party. Freeport was the low of our cruise and it was the product of an ill conceived schedule change that was never explicitly acknowledged or apologized for. This schedule and contempt passenger care meant we spent double the time on our “Cuba Cultural Voyage” at sea as we did in Cuba. Some of these changes would have been acceptable if we had known in advance and properly compensated. These were rookie errors that stemmed from inexperienced, poorly trained, and probably underpaid cruise directors. The Captain of our ship was also absent from any anncouncement other than one he made announcing a delayed arrival to Havana that was then further delayed afterwards. Despite a day of tough seas that the ship handled so ungracefully that Dramamine was out in a tin at the front desk, we were never contacted by the bridge apologizing for the weather or reassuring us that the ship wasn’t going to sink, instead just endless intercom reminders to hold onto the handrails. The failures of our managing crew and the extreme upscale pricing of this voyage make it impossible to recommend. This cruise ship was a fantastic, if not overpriced, upscale hotel - it was the sailing that sunk this ship. It’s frustrating because the dining room, bar, and cabin staff were an oasis in the desert of success that defined this cruise experience. Furthermore the schedule on their website was nothing like what we actually experienced, we skipped three of their listed days. The cruise attempted to waste our time to stretch this beleaguered journey to 11 days. We lost 1/2 our time in Cuba for reasons we will never know. While your experience may very, our time with Pearl Seas will most certainly be the last. With the schedule we endured, and the possibility that the schedule could change without notice, I can’t recommend this cruise to anyone. It was neither what I paid for nor what I expected. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Summary This Cuba “experience” is marred by deceptive advertising, bait-and-switch promises and on-ship excuses. Look at Oceania cruises for alternative Cuba cruises recommended by people who have gone on both. The bottom line is ... Read More
Summary This Cuba “experience” is marred by deceptive advertising, bait-and-switch promises and on-ship excuses. Look at Oceania cruises for alternative Cuba cruises recommended by people who have gone on both. The bottom line is that while shipboard accommodations are excellent, this small ship is at the mercy of the Cuban government, which favors larger ships in its limited ports. You don’t learn about the actual cruise itinerary until it’s too late to cancel. Report Card (see below for detail) Time in Port/Excursions D- Embarkation / Debarkation process C Staterooms A Staff A Food B+ Amenities A to C- Overall D Time in Port/Excursions The good news is that all excursions are included at no charge. The bad news is that many never happened: Hemingway’s house, the visit to Cojimar, the Botanical Gardens and the waterfalls of El Nicho were nixed. The Cuban government was blamed for limiting time in port. In most ports there are only one or two docks and Cuban guides informed us that the larger cruise lines were favored and given precedence. The disappointment was palpable as item after item was take off the itinerary… AFTER the cruise began. In at least one case (the Botanical Gardens at Cienfuegos) we were told that the Gardens were closed because the local personnel had the day off as a holiday. However, another cruise ship was in port and we saw at least four of their tour buses with “Botanical Gardens” in their windows. The three scheduled days completely at sea became a total of five, with several half days. Bear in mind that Pearl Mist has been traveling to Cuba for two years and is fully aware of Cuban government policies. If there are disclaimers about itinerary changes on their website, I can’t find them. This tactic is nothing short of deceptive. Embarkation / Debarkation Poor communication and bad execution caused significant disruption in boarding the ship. Late arrival of the previous cruise caused long delays sitting in hotel lobbies waiting for pickup. One bus got lost on the way to the port. The scheduled dinner on board became “call and order a hamburger or sandwich brought to your room.” Not an auspicious beginning. That said the debarkation was fairly smooth. Staterooms The staterooms were a pleasant surprise: spacious, quiet, clean and comfortable. We were able to move completely out of our suitcases and store them under the bed. The bathroom is large and well-appointed. Each room has a nice balcony. While we were quite happy with our third-deck forward cabin, we heard from other passengers that the handicap-accessible cabins and single cabins were very cramped. Passengers in the rear of the ship complained of loud engine noise. Staff Clearly, the top marks for the cruise go to the cabin stewards and food servers. They were unfailingly responsive and cheerful—no request was turned down. The lecturers were outstanding and the Cruise Directors very helpful, although they took the brunt of the deceptive practices on and off the ship. Food We enjoyed all the food. Breakfast was delicious with a fruit/pastry bar and order-from-the-menu hot items which included all sorts of meats, eggs, waffles, pancakes and daily specials. The coffee was good. Lunch and dinner offered 2-3 appetizers, 4 entrees and 3 desserts. Half portions and double entrees were cheerfully available (one table ordered double lobster tails all around). Some people complained about the lack of selection compared to larger cruise ships. I’m a bit choosy and I felt the food was well-prepared with rare beef (if ordered) and perfectly cooked seafood. By the way, a seafood and a vegetarian selection was available at every meal. The only flaw that I could find is that the seasoning leaned a bit toward the bland, due (I’m guessing) to the preferences of most of the older passenger list. Amenities Shipboard amenities were a mixed bag. On the positive, all excursions were included in the price, there were virtually unlimited, quality liquor, decent wine and decent beer. Free room service for any meal was offered and your laundry was done free of charge. On the negative, the few exercise machines are in poor repair and placed in a virtually unusable location. There is no shipboard store. Entertainment was limited to a good duo, but got old quickly with 50s night, 60s night, 70s/80s night… you get the picture. The TV didn’t work half of the time and Internet access, while free was slow enough to make checking email painful. Overall If you want to spend time on the ground in Cuba, this is not the cruise for you. Don’t believe anything you see in the cruise descriptions. One of the best parts of the trip was talking with people who had extensive cruise experiences and gathering intel for other cruise lines and destinations. Getting beyond the poor itinerary and limited excursions, the cruising experience was quite nice with a few glaring problems which makes the high cost a bit painful. My advice is look elsewhere. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise because it was to go to 5 Cuban ports and included 2 days in Havana. The cruise operation is a bit sloppy. Embarkation was a zoo including slow process for turning in passports and getting aboard at 7:00 PM. First were ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was to go to 5 Cuban ports and included 2 days in Havana. The cruise operation is a bit sloppy. Embarkation was a zoo including slow process for turning in passports and getting aboard at 7:00 PM. First were told there would be no dinner but food in lounges. Then last minute change to offer minimum dinner in dining room. The "hotel" aspect of the cruise was wonderful. Cabins were comfortable, cleaned quickly, staff VERY pleasant. Dining Room staff was extremely attentive to our group of 8. Food was excellent. Had several rough days at sea and room service staff was terrific! Shore excursion/Cruise Directors were not particularly helpful in port. There were many changes with very few efforts to communicate those changes ahead of time. We were only in Havana for about 8 hours because of bad weather and a change made by the Cuban government. Once again bad communication led to much frustration. The buses were extremely difficult for short people or those with any sort of disability to board because of a huge first step. Step-stools would be a good idea for staff to have available. We thought we might do a New England cruise on this ship but not after this experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Their Cuba itinerary is a straight flat lie! They publish as if they are having 7 excursion days in the island of Cuba, out of 12 total cruise days. We actually got only 3 excursion days! (2 full days and 2 half days) in Cuba. Not to ... Read More
Their Cuba itinerary is a straight flat lie! They publish as if they are having 7 excursion days in the island of Cuba, out of 12 total cruise days. We actually got only 3 excursion days! (2 full days and 2 half days) in Cuba. Not to mention that they cruise during the day and dock at night, instead of cruising at night and leaving the days for touring. There was nothing to do onboard during these 6 days of cruising. The first day we left at 9pm instead of 1pm. The last day we arrived at 6am. So total of 10 not 12! The food is not what you would expect for the high end price. The only good thing about them is the on board staff which are trying their best to cover up for the management. The company has not even responded to our complaint (check their BBB rating of D+). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to experience Cuba before it gets too commercial so we booked a 12day/11 night cruise on the Pearl Mist. We ended up being on Cuban soil only 4 days of the entire trip, and they added Freeeport, Bahamas for the 5th day off the ... Read More
We wanted to experience Cuba before it gets too commercial so we booked a 12day/11 night cruise on the Pearl Mist. We ended up being on Cuban soil only 4 days of the entire trip, and they added Freeeport, Bahamas for the 5th day off the ship; way too much time at sea. While Cuba itself was fantastic, the food on the ship was very good and it was very clean, it was completely unacceptable that they shortened the 8-day promise of Cuban shore time down to 4 days, and some of those days were only half days! They completely misinformed/advertised deceptively of how much time would be on shore. Of course they say that it was out of their hands, Cuban changes, etc. but it was an extremely expensive trip to start with, and they should be held accountable for more time on shore, or a reduction in price. Also, we were told (in print) that the first night dinner would be served on the boat, but we ended up not boarding till past 7:30PM and there were only cold sandwiches offered after much complaining about the situation by all passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted as many days in Cuba as possible, which the brochures seemed it promise. However, the company cancelled a second night in Havana to substitute an afternoon of busing around Freeport Bahamas. Never got any explanation on why ... Read More
We wanted as many days in Cuba as possible, which the brochures seemed it promise. However, the company cancelled a second night in Havana to substitute an afternoon of busing around Freeport Bahamas. Never got any explanation on why that happened. An advertised shore excursion to a botanical garden in Cienfuegos was also cancelled with the implication that the Gardens were closed on Christmas Eve. Not so, as the other ship in port that day did provide tours to this highly anticipated spot. Again, no explanation. Pre-embarcation and embarcation were badly handled--the company included a night in a hotel before boarding, BUT several people wre diverted to other hotels without being told in advance. Pearl Seas had no representative at either hotel. Then all passengers were told that they had to check out of the hotels at noon, but could not board buses to the ship until 6 pm...An entire shipload just dumped in a city for an unplanned afternoon, no activities, no company representative, just a harried hotel staff coping with unhappy people. Then, finally boarding around 7pm, the ship had not planned to feed us. A hue and cry got some hastily thrown together food. Hence my one star for this terrible example of how to treat your embarking passengers. The other communication issue seemed to be the Captain's problem...He rarely talked on the announcing system, except to warn of bad weather ahead. None of the schedule changes was explained, apparently not even to the Cruise Directors, who mostly seemed as puzzled as the passengers. Fitness and recreation were a few machines out on a forward weather deck. I want to make clear that the crew was superb--friendly, helpful, everything you might want. Similarly, this small ship was clean, well run and provided nearly unlimited alcohol and food service. As a last note, the extreme overhang of the bow and its flare caused heavy pounding in head seas, more than would normally be felt in my opinion as a former ship captain. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I understand that travel to Cuba is not totally predictable, but an unpredictable Cuban government is very different than a deceptive itinerary. Our "Planned Cruise Itinerary" says we will have a "day of cruising" only ... Read More
I understand that travel to Cuba is not totally predictable, but an unpredictable Cuban government is very different than a deceptive itinerary. Our "Planned Cruise Itinerary" says we will have a "day of cruising" only twice during the entire cruise. The reality was 2.5 days of cruising out of Fort Lauderdale and a total of 5 days of cruising. We were told the only change was the time in Havana that was cut short by the Cuban government. I also think that as a small ship the Pearl Mist could be more mindful of waste. Plastic water bottles were so plentiful that people would take a few sips and abandon the bottle. We have been on other small ships that provide a refillable bottle and have refill stations throughout the ship. I still cringe when I think of how many plastic water bottles were disposed of by this ship. They could also have served condiments such as mayo, mustard, jam and syrup in refillable ramekins instead of the tiny, individual glass jars that are impossible to get all of the contents out and make more trash. Our entertainment was three speakers and two musician/singers. One speaker was quite good and the other two fair; but the two others were good musicians but absolutely horrible singers. Surely in Florida there are some Cuban musicians who would have been a better choice. Finally, there was not enough communication between the cruise directors and the local guides. The guides were oblivious to the many physical difficulties and necessities of the guests. The reality with this group of passengers is that they were the most physically disabled group I have ever traveled with, and this was not a handicap-friendly country. Finally, the food is mediocre. My rating RE embarkation is because they left the luggage of four passengers on the dock in Fort Lauderdale. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our cruise on the Pearl Mist was a serious disappointment, for two reasons. First, we didn't get the cruise for which we signed up. We reserved on information indicating that we would spend two full days and an evening of ... Read More
Our cruise on the Pearl Mist was a serious disappointment, for two reasons. First, we didn't get the cruise for which we signed up. We reserved on information indicating that we would spend two full days and an evening of entertainment in Havana, and then one full day each in Santiago, Trinidad de Cuba and Cienfuegos. Instead, we got a half day and the evening of entertainment in Havana and an afternoon in Cienfuegos. There are times that my memory slips, so I thought maybe I did not remember correctly, but everyone with whom we spoke on the ship was also upset, saying they felt they had been denied the cruise for which they paid. We got an afternoon in Freeport as recompense for the lost day in Havana, but all that did was necessitate a prolonged trip across difficult seas in which a good percentage of the passengers, and even the cruise director, got terribly sick. The visit to Freeport, as lovely as it was for four hours on land, was not worth the discomfort. Second, the cruise management was terrible, from the pre-cruise arrangements at various Ft. Lauderdale hotels, right up to breakfast on disembarkation day. We were told dining room opened at 6 but it didn't open until 6:30. So we all stood around. In between, there were dozens of examples of mismanaged situations. Many small things that just weren't handled professionally or with any sense that these people had done this before. Our cabin was a good size and was comfortable, but the furniture drawers came without latches so that when seas were rough they were swinging open and closed. One passenger reported that his TV fell over because it hadn't been secured. The food was good but not spectacular, not as good as on other cruises I've taken with Princess and Viking. Embarkation was confused. The entertainment was dreadful. But the lectures by Prof. Richard Feinburg of UCSD were GREAT! He really gave us a sense of Cuba. The tour guides in Cuba were mostly below par, but the buses were good. The ship is too small to get a good walk in on the upper deck. The exercise machines are inadequate and poorly placed. The Wi-Fi rarely connected. The waiters were good, but there were too few to provide good service. Cabin staff was very conscientious. Worst of all was the staff reaction to expressed concerns. They were all young, probably 23-28, and relatively inexperienced. They could not provide any explanations for why things were the way they were and said that upper management had not provided any information. The captain was rarely seen. Laughably, the two most conscientious adults on the ship were the two musicians who performed every night. They also chipped in with passenger support and worked very hard to help people with issues. Kat, in particular, was an angel to our cabin neighbor who got VERY seasick. Some tips for anyone considering this cruise line: Read every line of every document you receive because they slipped the itinerary change into other documents rather than being upfront and direct. Be aware that this is a small ship, which has some advantages, but that it will also get knocked around in Cuban waters. Be aware that the passengers are mostly retirees. At 67, I was easily in the younger half of the passenger list. The passengers were great. They were all accomplished people, experienced travelers, friendly. We enjoyed ourselves. But younger people might want to skip this preview of life in a retirement home. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to go to Cuba and visit the smaller ports where big ships can't go. We also prefer the small boats where everyone eats together and you choose where you sit, etc. This ship is as close to a riverboat experience that you will ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba and visit the smaller ports where big ships can't go. We also prefer the small boats where everyone eats together and you choose where you sit, etc. This ship is as close to a riverboat experience that you will get outside Europe! It is not a glamorous boat - the furniture is a little dated and the carpets a little worn in places. The cabin is huge by cruise standards and we had a very comfortable king bed which all rooms have. What they do not do is "nickel and dime" you to death. Except for gratuities (which are completely voluntary) you should not pay an extra cent. From complimentary tote bags, hats, amenity bags to take ashore, etc. everything is included. The food is delicious and there are many choices. The staff is wonderful - especially the dining room and housekeeping. All tours are included and excellent. We enjoyed learning from various guides and seeing a variety of sights. To be honest, we didn't attend much of the evening entertainment - we were too tired from all the action during the day! There is wine and beer with lunch and dinner and there is an hour long cocktail event every night before dinner. All is included. Yes, the program and ship attract older people, but honestly, they were some of the most interesting to get to know. They had traveled the world and lived lives of adventure. The Cuba trip also attracts a much younger group than the American focused trips. If you want to go to Cuba we would recommend this ship and tour. Read Less
Pearl Mist Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 1.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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