Cuba Cruise on the Louis Cristal was one of the best cruises we have taken. The ship is smaller and older, with a classic nautical feel, much to our liking. The room was comparable to Celebrity cruises on their older ships. The food was hit and miss, sometimes approaching Celebrity standard. The itinerary was unique--circumnavigating Cuba with a stop at Montego Bay. The thing that stands out, though, is the entertainment. Their Cuban band and troupe of singers, dancers and acrobats are thoroughly professional and put on world class production shows every single night--amazing for such a small ship. I was expecting more of an eco-tourism, expedition cruise feel, from reading last year's reviews, but the cruise has now become quite popular as Canadians try to see Cuba before the floodgates of American tourism are opened up, and the product has consequently become very mainstream.
We had one really good excursion to the back country in from the tiny port of Antilla. This showed the real Cuba, with fields being plowed by oxen and families travelling by horse and buggy. The tour in Santiago de Cuba was more in the line of propaganda, and the one at Cienfuegos deteriorated to souvenir shop streaming. The promised tour of the Palacio de Valle didn't even happen. I don't predict long lasting popularity of this cruise, as there isn't much in the way of glamour and shopping, the roads are terrible, the buildings decrepit and the officious Cuban immigration bureaucracy is endless--you will go through umpteen security checks and have your temperature taken at every port.
We booked the land/sea/air package but the transfer to the ship never happened. After standing in the heat in our winter clothes for a couple of hours we took a taxi. The hotel manager was quite gracious about it and compensated us, promising they would get to the source of the problem to make sure it doesn't happen again. Disembarkation was a breeze, except for the long wait on the Cuban authorities.
The cabin is beautifully appointed in shiny dark wood, imparting a nautical feel. There are lots of drawers. The bed is parallel to the window, with sofa and easy chair by the window. The bathroom is small but functional. The bags of shampoo and soap are tacky for the price.