Sailing Celestyal is a great way to visit Cuba if you are eager to go now, especially if you’d like to explore beyond Havana. The “Authentic Cuba” program ensures you will meet conditions for U.S. cultural exchange. Celestyal makes it pretty easy. I've rated the cruise "very good" overall *only* because of the Cuba itinerary.
Upsides to sailing with Celestyal, include: ease in obtaining Cuban visa and navigating customs and immigration; documentation to satisfy the U.S. government; simplicity in logistics; consistency in accommodations; the assurance of a culturally-rich experience; a nice variety of Cuban entertainment, food and drink on board. Evening shows exceeded our expectations, performed by an entirely Cuban staff (in Spanish). The itinerary was especially good, with an overnight in Havana and two additional cities, both of which we enjoyed at least as much as Havana. We have few substantive complaints.
Many of the downsides to sailing with Celestyal may be attributed to restrictions imposed by Uncle Sam on U.S. citizens! Among those attributed to the company itself: clunky website lacks important details; uneven and inaccurate call center support; small and aging ship -- clean but a clunker; primarily elderly clientele; limited social space and entertainment venues; tiny pool (only 1) and minuscule hot tub (only 1, poorly placed); mediocre dining with open seating (ugh); most staff are surface-friendly, not highly engaged, not service oriented, many would not last long on big brand ships; company exerts no effort to build brand loyalty (i.e. no perks and special attention).
Find more details about our experience -- including lots of photos and individual posts on each port of call at northcountry[dot]seasons[dot]com
Huge balcony but the walls are so high you can't sit and enjoy the sea view. Interior space is oddly configured but it is large enough and works fine. "private whirlpool" on balcony is oversold as it is actually a c. 1908 jacuzzi tub that you must fill ... with brownish water.