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First of all, I am very happy to have taken this cruise to see Cuba. We took part in the People to People Program which gives Americans the ability to travel to Cuba under the humanitarian exemption. The stops in the 3 city ports were awesome. Side trips you can take on your own or through the Celestyal Crystal (CC) are very interesting. I would give a positive recommendation for the People to People program and using CC to get to Cuba. I thought the beach day stop at Maria la Gorda was a bit of a waste of time and would have rather stayed an extra day in Havana. Having said that, here are my suggestions for cruising on the CC. I had read so many reviews with complaints about the ship that I was prepared for the worst...Happily I was favorably surprised on all counts. Yes, this is not a luxury cruise and it will not be up to the highest standards of the big cruise lines...but our purpose was to see Cuba, not to have the cruise experience of a lifetime...having said that, the ship was very clean and our on board experience was very positive. We had cabin #6107. I was very nervous about having an inside cabin with no window. That was a first for us, we usually do balconies. As it turns out, yes, they are small but we settled into the space and did very well. I was pleased to see the large mural covering showing two hills and the ocean covering the wall at the end of the room BUT the thing I was most pleased about was the shower...It was roomy with a slider door, not a curtain. Our friends paid more for an outer cabin with window and their shower had a curtain and very little space plus some upper berths that were folded up. I think we got the better deal. The 6th level is a very quiet one with little traffic and you don't hear the elevator noise at all. About the cabins and what we did that made our cruise better: 1. After reading a review that talked about odors in the cabin, I threw in a Renuzit Odor Neutralizer to put in our cabin which ended up having no odors but I was happy to put it into the bathroom anyway. 2. I took several hangers to supplement the closet allotment. 3. There is one plug socket 110 and one 220. I took a multi-plug adaptor not more than 2.5" wide and a European 2 prong adaptor so we ended up having 4 possibilities for our American plug-ins instead of just one. If you have a CPAP, take an extension cord as the plug is across the room. 4. We bought the premium drink package (middle package, blue) which gives you unlimited bottled water and cappuccinos, etc and many types of mixed and on the rocks alcoholic drinks--there are 2 wines white and red--ship's red wine is a drinkable but variable Tempranillo. Mind you the drinks vary wildly in taste depending on who makes them. The top drinks package (gold) did not seem worth the extra charges. 5. If you are used to walking after dinner, you will not find a large circular path around the top of the ship like most have. There is a small one but it is lined with deck chairs during the day...night or early morning walking is much easier. My favorite workout walk was at the rear of the ship. You can walk up stairs outside from one deck to the next for about 4 or 5 decks. 6. If you are a photographer, get up for the entry into Havana harbor slightly before 7 on Sunday then go up again Monday to catch the sunrise and that light on the buildings. Sunset leaving Havana also gives particularly good light on the buildings. Arrival at Cienfuegos very similar but with interesting mountains...(we missed Santiago arrival so can't comment) 7. I had read complaints about the food but I would say on the average, the food was good with a nice selection at each meal. There were a few FABuLOus dishes including all the chilled soups and then there were a few really not so good including the soggy skinny Cuban sandwiches. We found that the sit down meals on decks 5 and 8 were great (with service that could be quite slow but you meet so many interesting people it does not seem to be a problem) while the cafeteria style on the 9th deck left us feeling a bit like we were back in high school. 8. Don't worry that when you enter your room it seems hot and the air conditioning doesn't seem to work. Once you get underway for a few hours the AC will kick in. Halfway through the first night we found ourselves diving under the covers. 9. The counterclockwise cruise around the country will take you past Guantanamo Bay but that will be at night-time and they will announce when you are passing it. (not knowing this, we spent the afternoon with binoculars looking for it!) It was pretty much smooth sailing but the rough water came on the northern coast a bit but definitely a lot of roll on the way from Havana to Cienfuegos each night. 10. Yes, you can not put TP into the toilet...they have a little pedal operated waste-can which which they empty throughout the day. It never seemed to be a problem. 11. There are three little drawers and also two littler drawers inside the closet for storage. There are also 2 shelves in the closet. You get one stool to sit on...no chairs. I used my standing up suitcase wedged between the bed and the wall for a nightstand on the far side of the bed. There is also a 4 inch shelf all along the wall above the beds that was good for placing glasses, small items...the push-on nightlight I took along for reading and maneuvering in the middle of the night... 12. When entering Havana a heavy oil/fuel smell came into the cabin...maybe from the refinery burning off gasses at the top of its smokestack across the harbor? Reception said it was from the air intake and that was what was outside... 13. It is hot in Cuba and humid. You might want to use a light jacket or sweater at dinnertime in the dining areas but otherwise, bring your HOT weather clothes. An umbrella can serve as a rain or sun shelter. (We threw in 2 small folding umbrellas) 14. If you want to bring school supplies for children, there are two professors with the People to People group who will make sure they get to deserving schools. Pencils, pens, markers, crayons, and other supplies are always needed. 15. Concern about the Zika virus had us hauling all our "buzz off" and other bug repellent clothes along with our deet-based repellents.

A Great Way to See Cuba; Pros, Cons, and Advice

Celestyal Crystal Cruise Review by travelersRus2

43 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2016
  • Destination: Cuba
First of all, I am very happy to have taken this cruise to see Cuba. We took part in the People to People Program which gives Americans the ability to travel to Cuba under the humanitarian exemption. The stops in the 3 city ports were awesome. Side trips you can take on your own or through the Celestyal Crystal (CC) are very interesting. I would give a positive recommendation for the People to People program and using CC to get to Cuba. I thought the beach day stop at Maria la Gorda was a bit of a waste of time and would have rather stayed an extra day in Havana.

Having said that, here are my suggestions for cruising on the CC. I had read so many reviews with complaints about the ship that I was prepared for the worst...Happily I was favorably surprised on all counts. Yes, this is not a luxury cruise and it will not be up to the highest standards of the big cruise lines...but our purpose was to see Cuba, not to have the cruise experience of a lifetime...having said that, the ship was very clean and our on board experience was very positive.

We had cabin #6107. I was very nervous about having an inside cabin with no window. That was a first for us, we usually do balconies. As it turns out, yes, they are small but we settled into the space and did very well. I was pleased to see the large mural covering showing two hills and the ocean covering the wall at the end of the room BUT the thing I was most pleased about was the shower...It was roomy with a slider door, not a curtain. Our friends paid more for an outer cabin with window and their shower had a curtain and very little space plus some upper berths that were folded up. I think we got the better deal.

The 6th level is a very quiet one with little traffic and you don't hear the elevator noise at all.

About the cabins and what we did that made our cruise better:

1. After reading a review that talked about odors in the cabin, I threw in a Renuzit Odor Neutralizer to put in our cabin which ended up having no odors but I was happy to put it into the bathroom anyway.

2. I took several hangers to supplement the closet allotment.

3. There is one plug socket 110 and one 220. I took a multi-plug adaptor not more than 2.5" wide and a European 2 prong adaptor so we ended up having 4 possibilities for our American plug-ins instead of just one. If you have a CPAP, take an extension cord as the plug is across the room.

4. We bought the premium drink package (middle package, blue) which gives you unlimited bottled water and cappuccinos, etc and many types of mixed and on the rocks alcoholic drinks--there are 2 wines white and red--ship's red wine is a drinkable but variable Tempranillo. Mind you the drinks vary wildly in taste depending on who makes them. The top drinks package (gold) did not seem worth the extra charges.

5. If you are used to walking after dinner, you will not find a large circular path around the top of the ship like most have. There is a small one but it is lined with deck chairs during the day...night or early morning walking is much easier. My favorite workout walk was at the rear of the ship. You can walk up stairs outside from one deck to the next for about 4 or 5 decks.

6. If you are a photographer, get up for the entry into Havana harbor slightly before 7 on Sunday then go up again Monday to catch the sunrise and that light on the buildings. Sunset leaving Havana also gives particularly good light on the buildings. Arrival at Cienfuegos very similar but with interesting mountains...(we missed Santiago arrival so can't comment)

7. I had read complaints about the food but I would say on the average, the food was good with a nice selection at each meal. There were a few FABuLOus dishes including all the chilled soups and then there were a few really not so good including the soggy skinny Cuban sandwiches. We found that the sit down meals on decks 5 and 8 were great (with service that could be quite slow but you meet so many interesting people it does not seem to be a problem) while the cafeteria style on the 9th deck left us feeling a bit like we were back in high school.

8. Don't worry that when you enter your room it seems hot and the air conditioning doesn't seem to work. Once you get underway for a few hours the AC will kick in. Halfway through the first night we found ourselves diving under the covers.

9. The counterclockwise cruise around the country will take you past Guantanamo Bay but that will be at night-time and they will announce when you are passing it. (not knowing this, we spent the afternoon with binoculars looking for it!) It was pretty much smooth sailing but the rough water came on the northern coast a bit but definitely a lot of roll on the way from Havana to Cienfuegos each night.

10. Yes, you can not put TP into the toilet...they have a little pedal operated waste-can which which they empty throughout the day. It never seemed to be a problem.

11. There are three little drawers and also two littler drawers inside the closet for storage. There are also 2 shelves in the closet. You get one stool to sit on...no chairs. I used my standing up suitcase wedged between the bed and the wall for a nightstand on the far side of the bed. There is also a 4 inch shelf all along the wall above the beds that was good for placing glasses, small items...the push-on nightlight I took along for reading and maneuvering in the middle of the night...

12. When entering Havana a heavy oil/fuel smell came into the cabin...maybe from the refinery burning off gasses at the top of its smokestack across the harbor? Reception said it was from the air intake and that was what was outside...

13. It is hot in Cuba and humid. You might want to use a light jacket or sweater at dinnertime in the dining areas but otherwise, bring your HOT weather clothes. An umbrella can serve as a rain or sun shelter. (We threw in 2 small folding umbrellas)

14. If you want to bring school supplies for children, there are two professors with the People to People group who will make sure they get to deserving schools. Pencils, pens, markers, crayons, and other supplies are always needed.

15. Concern about the Zika virus had us hauling all our "buzz off" and other bug repellent clothes along with our deet-based repellents.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 6107
We had cabin #6107. I was very nervous about having an inside cabin with no window. As it turns out, yes, they are small but we settled into the space and did very well.. I was pleased to see the large mural covering the wall showing two hills and the ocean covering the wall at the end of the room BUT the thing I was most pleased about was the shower...It was roomy with a slider door, not a curtain. Our friends paid more for an outer cabin with window and their shower had a curtain and very little space plus some upper berths that were folded up. I think we got the better deal.
The 6th level is a very quiet one with little traffic and you don't hear the elevator noise at all.
About the cabins and what we did that make our cruise better:
1. After reading a review that talked about odors in the cabin, I threw in a Renuzit Odor Neutralizer to put in our cabin which ended up having no odors but I was happy to put it into the bathroom anyway.
2. I took several hangers to supplement the closet allotment.
3. There is one plug socket 110 and one 220. I took a multi-plug adaptor (see photo) and a European adaptor so we ended up having 4 possibilities for our American plug-ins instead of just one. If you have a CPAP, take an extension cord as the plug is across the room.
4. Don't worry that when you enter your room it seems hot and the air conditioning doesn't seem to work. Once you get underway for a few hours the AC will kick in. Halfway through the first night we found ourselves diving under the covers.
5. Yes, you can not put TP into the toilet...they have a little pedal operated waste-can which which they empty throughout the day. It never seemed to be a problem.
6. There are three little drawers and also two littler drawers inside the closet for storage. There are also 2 shelves in the closet. You get one stool to sit on...no chairs. I used my standing up suitcase wedged between the bed and the wall for a nightstand on the far side of the bed. There is also a 4 inch shelf all along the wall above the beds that was good for placing glasses, small items...the push-on nightlight I took along for reading and maneuvering in the middle of the night...
7. There are tissues and glasses and a soap dispenser in the bathroom...a soap and a shampoo dispenser in the shower. Two giant towels and two small towels on the bars.