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Eight retirees including our travel agent who arranged the entire expedition took this cruise as part of the "Authentic Cuban Experience Program" in hopes of taking advantage of recently relaxed guidelines for such things. We also wanted to get to Cuba now in the event that the possibility might close in the near future. I don't have anything to compare our trip to as this was our first cruise. I really didi not know what to expect but I need not have worried. I would be hard pressed to find any real complaints about the ship, the food and beverage, or the tours we participated in. The whole trip was a good introduction both to cruising and to Cuba. I'm sure we just skimmed the top layer in both regards. Our inside cabin amidships was perfectly adequate to our needs with good storage, good lighting and excellent care from the cabin steward. Even the necessarily smallish washroom was adequate for my tall, somewhat wide person. There was an sign on the commode that led one to believe that NO paper of ANY kind should be flushed. I'm pretty sure they meant that no trash paper or packaging should be flushed but it was unclear. We flushed TP which I hope was OK. Our cabin steward put out whimsically styled pool towels in the form of swans, snakes and starfish nightly. Very fun. He was in the room at least twice per day with cleanup and turndown activities. Very personable. Meal choices were plentiful and generally very good. We mostly used the Leda Buffet for breakfast and lunch and used the Almathia Restaurant for those evening meals we ate aboard. The chef and his staff graciously organized a special anniversary surprise for one of our couples. We were delighted that it could be accommodated. We enjoyed having the magnetic swipe card for drinks and the like although each of us mislaid theirs a one time or another. The cashless nature of ship board purchases was welcome. The evening entertainment in the Muses Lounge each night except dark Monday were varied and well performed by the resident performers. Each night was a different theme and they all managed to work in some very fine aerial work by several of the performers. Some of the storylines were thin, but the performances were enthusiastic and enjoyable. The ACE Program was led by Cuban national Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD, from the University of Havana and Lecturer of Cuban History and Culture. His multiple presentations over a variety of topics was well-ordered and most informative. He went out of his way to inform his audience. He also accompanied a couple of our tours and was available for Q&A during them. We enjoyed meeting him. We also had several other tour guides on our busses who had varying levels of skill but were informative nonetheless. Our shore excursions were kind of a mixed bag. Much time was spent on very nice tour busses but often we would ride for a long time to only have a short time at the specific attraction. It felt a bit rushed. Disappointing that in Santiago de Cuba we could not gain access to the central plaza due to New Years Eve preparations. We were glad that once we got to Havana, we did have some spare time to just wander on our own for several hours over two days. We were able to get to a couple of local restaurants and bars, toured Castillo de La Real Fuerza and several other locations. Unfortunately we were unaware that most museums are normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and so we were shut out of a couple we would have liked to see. Much was closed for New Years celebrations as well. We enjoyed our first taste of cruising and will definitely consider doing another in the near future

First Time Cruise Adventure

Celestyal Crystal Cruise Review by Cruises4frogs

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2016
  • Destination: Cuba
Eight retirees including our travel agent who arranged the entire expedition took this cruise as part of the "Authentic Cuban Experience Program" in hopes of taking advantage of recently relaxed guidelines for such things. We also wanted to get to Cuba now in the event that the possibility might close in the near future. I don't have anything to compare our trip to as this was our first cruise. I really didi not know what to expect but I need not have worried. I would be hard pressed to find any real complaints about the ship, the food and beverage, or the tours we participated in. The whole trip was a good introduction both to cruising and to Cuba. I'm sure we just skimmed the top layer in both regards.

Our inside cabin amidships was perfectly adequate to our needs with good storage, good lighting and excellent care from the cabin steward. Even the necessarily smallish washroom was adequate for my tall, somewhat wide person. There was an sign on the commode that led one to believe that NO paper of ANY kind should be flushed. I'm pretty sure they meant that no trash paper or packaging should be flushed but it was unclear. We flushed TP which I hope was OK. Our cabin steward put out whimsically styled pool towels in the form of swans, snakes and starfish nightly. Very fun. He was in the room at least twice per day with cleanup and turndown activities. Very personable.

Meal choices were plentiful and generally very good. We mostly used the Leda Buffet for breakfast and lunch and used the Almathia Restaurant for those evening meals we ate aboard. The chef and his staff graciously organized a special anniversary surprise for one of our couples. We were delighted that it could be accommodated.

We enjoyed having the magnetic swipe card for drinks and the like although each of us mislaid theirs a one time or another. The cashless nature of ship board purchases was welcome.

The evening entertainment in the Muses Lounge each night except dark Monday were varied and well performed by the resident performers. Each night was a different theme and they all managed to work in some very fine aerial work by several of the performers. Some of the storylines were thin, but the performances were enthusiastic and enjoyable.

The ACE Program was led by Cuban national Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD, from the University of Havana and Lecturer of Cuban History and Culture. His multiple presentations over a variety of topics was well-ordered and most informative. He went out of his way to inform his audience. He also accompanied a couple of our tours and was available for Q&A during them. We enjoyed meeting him. We also had several other tour guides on our busses who had varying levels of skill but were informative nonetheless.

Our shore excursions were kind of a mixed bag. Much time was spent on very nice tour busses but often we would ride for a long time to only have a short time at the specific attraction. It felt a bit rushed. Disappointing that in Santiago de Cuba we could not gain access to the central plaza due to New Years Eve preparations. We were glad that once we got to Havana, we did have some spare time to just wander on our own for several hours over two days. We were able to get to a couple of local restaurants and bars, toured Castillo de La Real Fuerza and several other locations. Unfortunately we were unaware that most museums are normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and so we were shut out of a couple we would have liked to see. Much was closed for New Years celebrations as well.

We enjoyed our first taste of cruising and will definitely consider doing another in the near future
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