24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife and I, plus another couple, booked the Pearl Seas (PS) 11 day Cuba Cultural voyage. We selected PS because of the itinerary visiting 4 main cities (Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana) starting with Havana on New Year’s ... Read More
My wife and I, plus another couple, booked the Pearl Seas (PS) 11 day Cuba Cultural voyage. We selected PS because of the itinerary visiting 4 main cities (Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana) starting with Havana on New Year’s eve. My wife and I have only taken 6 previous cruises (Seabourn, Lindblad, Princess, Crystal, Uniworld, and Viking) for comparison purposes. I typically write and post reviews after our trips with respect to the hotels and cruises we stay. I attempt to be objective and helpful. Here is the one for the Pearl Seas cruise to Cuba. Overall, we’d mark PS at the bottom of this group. Why? The pros and cons: Housekeeping, meals, and meal service were all quite good. Meal selection was more than adequate; meals were well prepared, open seating timeframes were generous, and staff were courteous and prompt. Drinks (wine, beer, and cocktails) were plentiful. Wine selection was limited but the alcohol selection was clearly above average. Cabins were quite large, all had a balcony, in-suite bathrooms, and amply sized shower stalls. TVs were small but had good channel reception during the cruise. Rooms were cleaned twice a day. Wifi/internet service was spotty, slow, and sometimes non-existent. It would be helpful if PS informed it’s passengers beforehand not to count on getting internet service. The ship was well maintained and laid out. One must remember it is a relatively small ship and it rocks a lot even in small wave situations. We were in less than a sea state 1 (small choppy waves) and approximately 15 crew members were seasick as a result. Meals are served on the first deck and most presentations and meetings are on the 2nd deck. Passengers staying in cabins on the 4th and 5th deck were constantly climbing stairs. They had one small elevator and it was quick and available throughout. People with mobility issues would be well served to get cabins on the 2nd or 3rd deck. On board presentations were below average in quality, detail, content, and preparation. Presenters were friendly and funny, but seemed to read from Wikipedia vs impart expert knowledge and experience. Some presentations were actually verbal readings of previously handed out material. We frankly stopped attending them midway through the cruise. Quality of tour guides was generally high. It’s obvious cruise lines need to use the Cuba government owned tour agency guides so there is not much that PS can do about sourcing their guides. All were college graduates and knew their material. They responded to questions, were friendly, and appeared transparent when talking about Cuban culture, economy, history, and politics. Some English was excellent while a few were difficult to understand. The litany of problems however started the first day. After boarding at our first meeting, we discover the itinerary had been reversed so we’d be spending New Year’s eve in Santiago instead of Havana and seeing Havana last instead of first. This was a keen disappointment. Moreover, our initial itinerary stated we were on the ship for the full cruise and that we had 4 nights onboard the ship in Havana. Instead, they bused us from Cienfuegos to Havana (4 hour drive) and we stayed at a hotel for 2 nights (the nice Parque Central hotel) meaning we all had to pack for the overnights. None of this was communicated beforehand. Given PS arranged for the buses and made reservations for over 150 rooms at a 5* hotel, one would think they knew about these changes in advance and could have communicated it to the passengers. Changes these major, in my opinion, should have been conveyed. That said, the hotel was beautiful, location was excellent, and service was good. Similar changes occurred throughout the cruise. Tour times were changed from morning to afternoon seemingly at the last minute. Some activities and sites we were told we’d see were not actually covered on the tours. We were told we’d use the “whisper vox” devices for some of the tours but the tour guide did not use them making it harder for a passenger to hear the walking tours. While in Havana, one had to find the cruise director to understand what the schedule was because nothing was written and distributed to the passengers the night before or morning of the tours. These are only a few examples. As a result, it felt there was a lot of “last minute” planning or little planning. The most visible example was when returning to the ship in Havana. As passengers we were told to take our luggage with us and be processed. It turns out there were long lines, lots of stairs, and significant confusion. We had numerous passengers who needed assistance due to walkers, canes, or age. Only 1 member from the ship’s crew (the musician) was there to try to let people know what to do. No one else from the boat crew came to help with baggage, no one came to assist the mobile challenged passengers, and no one was “directing traffic”. Almost comical was the fact we found guidance on giving tips with the tip envelop in our cabins after we boarded. In summary, we give an overall rating of a 3 out of 5. With better pre-planning and earlier, transparent communication, it could easily have been between 4 and 4.5 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
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had never cruised the Great Lakes and the Pearl Mist seemed like an attractive little ship which carried only about 190 passengers. The 11 day itinerary, from Toronto to Chicago had some interesting stops, both in Canada and the U. S. ... Read More
We had never cruised the Great Lakes and the Pearl Mist seemed like an attractive little ship which carried only about 190 passengers. The 11 day itinerary, from Toronto to Chicago had some interesting stops, both in Canada and the U. S. The highlight of the trip was Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. Other stops included a visit to Niagara Falls and a number of small cities and towns which were neat, clean and pleasant, with very friendly folks. A couple of trips across the Canadian/US border were a real pain in the neck. For example, the ship was in Windsor, Ontario and we were booked to visit the Henry Ford museum across the Detroit River in the U. S. We spent a total of 3 1/2 hours on the bus getting through customs and only about the same amount of time in the museum. As for the ship, built (mostly) in Halifax and completed at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD, she has been in service for four years. She's been well maintained and the interior is very clean and neat. She's registered in the Marshall Islands (Majuro) and is crewed largely by foreigners. The steward's department - wait staff and room stewards, mostly Filipinos, were uniformly excellent. Entertainment consisted of two singers/musicians, Kat and Kenny, who were also quite good and a story teller, Pat, who was very entertaining. The cruise director was probably below average for cruise ships. She seemed like she wanted to be elsewhere a good part of the time. The passenger cabins were pretty good size, with very small balconies on the upper decks. As for the cost, we had a cabin on the highest deck, (L) and the fare for the two of us came to $19,040, minus a couple of "special savings" which reduced the cost by $800. There were no children aboard. The youngest passenger was 55 and the oldest 98. The average age was probably well into the 80's. The advanced age of the passengers definitely slowed things down. Lots of walkers and wheelchairs. While the trip was not advertised as a "seniors" cruise, in actuality it was. I say this considering that my wife is 62 and I am 74, but we got around really well - far better than many of our fellow passengers. The ship has other trips, including one to Cuba, but we will not be making any of those. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We signed up for the Cuba cultural exchange cruise with Peal Seas which owns the Pearl Mist as this seemed to be a good compromise between a big ship and a yacht. We have mixed feelings about this ship after our 11 days on it. It has ... Read More
We signed up for the Cuba cultural exchange cruise with Peal Seas which owns the Pearl Mist as this seemed to be a good compromise between a big ship and a yacht. We have mixed feelings about this ship after our 11 days on it. It has wonderful crew and personnel and the service was outstanding as well as the well-informed cultural lectures and itinerary. The food was good, though somewhat on the bland side, which may be somewhat determined by the taste of the rather elderly clientele. However, there was a choice of menu, they would even prepare items that were not on the menu but there is no choice of restaurant. What was unfortunate was that the ship itself or its maintenance had some major problems- the wifi internet conked out in a couple of days into the cruise and never restored (lack of expertise?), and when the sea was rough, wooden drawers from the cabinets fell out making banging noises as well as banging partitions between balconies. Even our bureau fell off the hinges spilling the ice bucket and the coffee in the coffee maker all over the floor. And the ship was very, very slow- perhaps at most 10 miles (knots?) an hour. On the plus side, we got to know quite a few of the fellow guests, and overall there was a good esprit de corps. They should have better maintenance and technical knowhow. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise after our Cuba cruise had been canceled three times. The crew, facilities and food were all excellent. Our shore excursions were often cut short due to weather conditions which was certainly no fault of the crew. ... Read More
We chose this cruise after our Cuba cruise had been canceled three times. The crew, facilities and food were all excellent. Our shore excursions were often cut short due to weather conditions which was certainly no fault of the crew. We had a large group of Stanford Alumni on board and they pretty much ruled what we did or did not do. They got the nice buses, the early departures, the longer excursions and special treatment all the way throughout the cruise. The lectures were all centered around them and the material they had before the cruise. Most did not mix with us 'peons' during the cruise. (In listening to others I was not the only one who felt this way.) I don't know how you could alleviate this as large groups do help fill the ship and I'm sure they work hard to accommodate them but it did make the rest of us feel left out. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Two initial irritations: 1) Luxury price and marketing created luxury level of expectation. Nothing compared to other luxury cruises we have been on except price. Average rooms, average common areas and average food. 2) cruise was ... Read More
Two initial irritations: 1) Luxury price and marketing created luxury level of expectation. Nothing compared to other luxury cruises we have been on except price. Average rooms, average common areas and average food. 2) cruise was changed after we paid but before the cruise to eliminate at least one port and excursion. The extra day at sea on this ship was not appreciated. Blamed it on Cuba but we all questioned the motive. Felt like bait and switch. The all day excursions included a lunch that lasted a minimum of 2 1/2 to 3 hours which reduced the number of local things we were able to see. Ship has no store on board, one of two coffee machines available to passengers was broken for about 1/3 of cruise. The lectures provided by Victor were clouded by the fact that he was constantly marketing his travel business. Kevin was by far the best of the four Cruise Directors on board. TV service (or lack of service) was the worst of any ship we have been on in far more remote areas of the world. The water on board had a yellow tint which was disturbing. A positive was that wine and liquor seemed to always be available, which was appreciated considering the lack of entertainment on the ship. Unfortunately, the wine was almost undrinkable and the premium list (for purchase) wasn't much better. The liquor choices were great. Bobo, the F&B Mgr, was outstanding as was Peter, our waiter. Both excelled above others, both in level of service and attitude. Cabin Steward was unable to provide ice at the requested daily time 50% of the days. The ship had some difficulty meeting the established schedule which impacted one entire day of excursions and several late arrivals/departures. Overall, the country does not seem ready to accept a rush of American tourists and Pearl Mist needs to tighten it's act and upgrade the quality of ship as new ships are introduced to the company. Won't recommend to others at this time. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We chose this cruise in order to experience Cuba. The itinerary was changed and we had to spend 6 days sailing around with hardly anything to do on board. The sun deck was half generator making terrible loud noise. There were 2 lounges ... Read More
We chose this cruise in order to experience Cuba. The itinerary was changed and we had to spend 6 days sailing around with hardly anything to do on board. The sun deck was half generator making terrible loud noise. There were 2 lounges that were nice. One speaker was just average (too repetitive) and the other was terrible - disjointed, hard to listen to and repetitive presentation. I was assured they would accommodate a vegan menu but onboard was told to just write down what I wanted to eat. (Make up my own menu on vacation? Well, what do you have in the kitchen?). A few meals (not the vegan ones) were good though most were very average. Service was average - never saw much of the cabin steward and dining room server often forgot to bring what we asked for. The two musicians (only entertainment at night) were enjoyable and played and sang different types of music well. A little something different would have been nice. The laundry (a well kept secret - you have to ask if any is available) ruined 3 of our shirts and we heard others complain about that too. That said, we did experience Cuba and enjoyed what we saw. Some of the local guides were very good and we learned a lot from them. Make it a week long would be better. This was very expensive and not worth the money. We recommend trying a different cruise line. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
A cruise to Cuba on a small ship? What a great idea! What a great itinerary. The ship was great. The crew was outstanding. The food was good. The cruise overall was a sad disappointment. We were on the 3rd scheduled ... Read More
A cruise to Cuba on a small ship? What a great idea! What a great itinerary. The ship was great. The crew was outstanding. The food was good. The cruise overall was a sad disappointment. We were on the 3rd scheduled cruise to Cuba by the Pearl Seas. The 2nd cruise was cancelled – to work out the difficulties experienced on the 1st cruise. The 3rd cruise should, in my opinion, also been shuttled. We understand that tourism in Cuba is a government affair and the itinerary changes were not in the control of the cruise line, but the fact remains that we did not receive the trip that we signed up for. We were promised 6 ports – we got 3. We were promised tours and museums that – even in the ports we made – didn’t materialize. Rather than colorful stories of cultural immersion we have a sad tale of sedentary boredom. The ship to shore ratio was heavy on the ship, very little time on shore. How much cultural immersion are you getting while you are cruising at a snails pace (with nowhere to go – just wasting days) on a small ship listening to a lecturer onboard (Tom someone) who was so incredibly dull he could put himself to sleep. So when our friends want to hear “all about our cruise to Cuba” our first words are “it was very disappointing..” Generally their next question is: “Which cruise line?” That can’t be good. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Wanted to experience Fall Foliage without the driving so narrowed the cruise options between Pearl Seas and Seaborne. We made a mistake. Even though Pearl Seas is priced at the very upper end, the quality of the cruise experience is well ... Read More
Wanted to experience Fall Foliage without the driving so narrowed the cruise options between Pearl Seas and Seaborne. We made a mistake. Even though Pearl Seas is priced at the very upper end, the quality of the cruise experience is well below acceptable standards for a premium experience. The really good part of the experience was the outstanding front-end staff who did everything they could to make you feel comfortable. But they had too little to work with to be able to elevate the cruise experience beyond okay. That is sad as Pearl Seas could have been a superior experience equating to the cost of the vacation. The very best meals we had were the owns we purchased off the ship in ports. Thank goodness for that! The breakfast was good, but all other meals were borderline. The chicken dishes were rubbery, the lobster over-cooked, the grades of meat were nowhere near choice let alone prime and everything was bathed in lots of sauces to cover-up the basic flaws. It was also the little things that added up every single day that brought this high-priced cruise to popular-priced status. Paying very high-end prices for the cruise and receiving Kirkland water at the snack bar (really, serving Poland Springs or Aquafina or dare I say Evian, might have added $500 in costs to the cruise line). The Costco bulk snacks from the stale potato chips to the same fruit bars every night for 14 days is not in standing for a $16,000+ cruise. The "entertainment" was below Holiday Inn standards (again for a premium-priced cruise this is not acceptable). And that "entertainment" was on board each and every night of the cruise which should have been switched up more often. The cruise line did a bait and switch on ports which became apparent when we received our final paperwork six weeks out. Even the name and purpose of the cruise everyone booked was changed and we only became aware of it upon boarding the ship. And a thing with cruising through the small St. Lawrence River and New England ports, we are told that because of our small ship we could get into ports the medium and larger ships could not. They did not mention that half of our ports were tenders and not direct dock. Insult to injury, there was a typo regarding the disembarkation port in Manhattan. We had people meeting us at the port number communicated to us (I even called the Pearl Seas office to verify the port number in the final documents just before leaving), and we had breakfast reservations nearby plus needed to drop off a UPS shipment and found one nearby the intended port, plus a nearby rental car agency. Instead the Pearl Seas docked at Pier 86 in the upper west side (instead of the lower east side) and they admitted the final travel documents were incorrect. Proof-reading should have been done at headquarters. If you are looking for a premium experience, it is NOT the Pearl Seas. If you are seeking a popular priced experience, then negotiate the prices down to that level and the Pearl Seas is acceptable. 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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