We chose this cruise because we wanted a convenient way to see multiple cities in Cuba, not have to worry about accommodations and satisfy to OFAC requirements since we are US citizens. We were not disappointed.
First off, to address the ship. It is a relatively older ship. It does not have a rock climbing wall, it does not have a water slide, and yes the cabins are on the small side. But that is not why we went on this cruise. We went to see Cuba.
And that we did. Three cities in 7 days, with an overnight in Havana. We wished we could have had more free time in Santo Domingo de Cuba and Cienfuegos, but I think the tour operators were trying to make sure that they were compliant with the people to people requirements. The Afro Cuban dance demonstration went on a little long.
People in Cuba were very friendly, and there was no anti-American sentiment that we saw. Or maybe we were mistaken for Canadians :-) Prices for souvenirs are reasonable, except for cigars, which we were warned to buy only in certified stores because there are a lot of counterfeit ones on the streets apparently made of banana leaves.
We did not have any of the boarding issues in Havana that other people have commented on. Apparently there is now room for two ships to dock at the same time in Havana.
Now, back to the ship. The week we sailed, there were only 150-180 passengers, depending on where they embarked. Partially because of this, service was outstanding and the restaurant manager told us to consider this our private yacht for the week. Although it was open seating, we chose to sit with our same waiter, Manuel, and our wine steward, Monika, every night. Hats off to both of them and we promise we didn't steal any silverware!
Menu choices were pretty standard, though some of the dining options weren't open due to the limited number of passengers. We would have hoped for a bit more light options at lunch as well as some healthier options at dinner.
We had a Junior Executive Balcony Suite, Room 611. It was small, but the balcony was more than adequate for two people to sit out and read at night. It was on the starboard side, I would suggest trying to get one on the port side if you want to get more land views at sea, since the island is circled counter clockwise.
On board lectures were excellent, thank you Dr. Jorge, and don't worry about missing any of them. Nobody takes attendance except for the muster drill, which is conveniently combined with a Cuban history lecture.
Others have commented on the entertainment. The ships Havana-based band rocks. I am now a new fan of Afro-Cuban music. I could listen to those guys every night (and did). The shows were also surprisingly sophisticated for a ship that size.
Would we do it again? Yes, but not in June. Its hot. One can only drink so much Crystal and Bucanero to stay hydrated.
Tips: 1. Port side cabin 2. Although some US citizens embarked in Havana, it seemed to make more sense to get on in Montego Bay. Since we weren't on a beach excursion kind of trip, we used Montego Bay as our travel day, allowing us more time in Havana. Those that got on in Havana missed the walking tour of the city. 3. Remember, you're going for the destinations, not the ship