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I selected this cruise because it was offered by Apple Vacations as an authorized People-to-People tour for Americans and it was a smaller ship (since I had never been on a cruise before, the idea of being on a boat with 1000's of other travelers was not my idea of vacation.) There is a more luxurious (MORE expensive) cruise line that also cruises around Cuba but I'm not one who needs be waited on hand-and-foot so I didn't want to pay for it! For those now worried about too many Americans "ruining" the experience, the guest ratio on our trip was about one-third. Most guests were probably 50+ on our sailing (but there were a few 20 and 30-somethings). No young children on our trip. Our sailing was below the 900ish guest capacity. Maybe only 1/3 full so the staff was not overwhelmed/busy so we took the opportunity to try to have conversations with many of them. We learned where they were from (Bali, Cuba, Philippines, Mauritius and others) and life on a cruise ship for 10 month contract. From the Cuban staff, we learned about growing up and living on the island. There was one full service restaurant not open during our trip (not sure if that was because of low guest count or refurbishment?) but that was OK. We never had a problem getting a seating for dinner. We chose to eat at the buffet for breakfasts and lunches while on-board. Menu changed nightly in full service restaurant. Breakfast buffet was the same every day. Lunch buffet varied slightly day-to-day, including a poolside cook-out one day. Only attended two of the nightly "big show" (Cirque and Caberet) and in my opinion they were surprisingly good considering the ship size. There was an instrumental band that played other times on pool deck and before/after shows which was good. There was also entertainment in the Euros lounge but we didn't participate. Tours for US citizens are included (except Tropicana in Havana). The dancing presentation at the "culture stop" in Santiago was too long in my opinion. Liked having free time to eat/shop/explore between tours in Havana on both bays. Tropicana cost $149 (included transportation, champagne welcome drink, rum and cola)... worth it! Costumes are amazing! Weather was perfect to sit on the back-of-the-ship patio bar anytime of day. That was our favorite spot for great sunsets, cigar smoking, great conversations with other guests and staff! We learned staff is assigned to a specific bar for a week so Emerson, Eka and Jodanys were our bartenders and they took great care of us. All were incredibly kind and friendly (so it was sad for me to leave). The waiters were Sandra, Ilena, Isabella and Alejandro that week and we enjoyed talking with them also. Emerson would get a few hours break from the patio bar and then return to the disco bar for the end of the night festivities (karaoke then dancing). Again, he took great care of us! For breakfast and lunch, we sat on the pool deck where Konool and Pratiksha often took great care of us. Edwin was often the bartender there... and he has a great voice too which we learned at karaoke one night ... and then asked him to join us for a song (or two) other nights. I'm hoping (because it was slow), it was ok for him to leave his post to be part of a guest's duet (GREAT SERVICE!!!) Our housekeepers did a great job too! Sorry I didn't catch there names but I saw them occasionally in the halls in mornings and evenings where they would politely greet me (and I even got a compliment on my outfit one night).

Amazing staff!!!

Celestyal Crystal Cruise Review by TalonBlues

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Cuba
I selected this cruise because it was offered by Apple Vacations as an authorized People-to-People tour for Americans and it was a smaller ship (since I had never been on a cruise before, the idea of being on a boat with 1000's of other travelers was not my idea of vacation.) There is a more luxurious (MORE expensive) cruise line that also cruises around Cuba but I'm not one who needs be waited on hand-and-foot so I didn't want to pay for it!

For those now worried about too many Americans "ruining" the experience, the guest ratio on our trip was about one-third. Most guests were probably 50+ on our sailing (but there were a few 20 and 30-somethings). No young children on our trip.

Our sailing was below the 900ish guest capacity. Maybe only 1/3 full so the staff was not overwhelmed/busy so we took the opportunity to try to have conversations with many of them. We learned where they were from (Bali, Cuba, Philippines, Mauritius and others) and life on a cruise ship for 10 month contract. From the Cuban staff, we learned about growing up and living on the island.

There was one full service restaurant not open during our trip (not sure if that was because of low guest count or refurbishment?) but that was OK. We never had a problem getting a seating for dinner. We chose to eat at the buffet for breakfasts and lunches while on-board. Menu changed nightly in full service restaurant. Breakfast buffet was the same every day. Lunch buffet varied slightly day-to-day, including a poolside cook-out one day.

Only attended two of the nightly "big show" (Cirque and Caberet) and in my opinion they were surprisingly good considering the ship size. There was an instrumental band that played other times on pool deck and before/after shows which was good. There was also entertainment in the Euros lounge but we didn't participate.

Tours for US citizens are included (except Tropicana in Havana). The dancing presentation at the "culture stop" in Santiago was too long in my opinion. Liked having free time to eat/shop/explore between tours in Havana on both bays. Tropicana cost $149 (included transportation, champagne welcome drink, rum and cola)... worth it! Costumes are amazing!

Weather was perfect to sit on the back-of-the-ship patio bar anytime of day. That was our favorite spot for great sunsets, cigar smoking, great conversations with other guests and staff! We learned staff is assigned to a specific bar for a week so Emerson, Eka and Jodanys were our bartenders and they took great care of us. All were incredibly kind and friendly (so it was sad for me to leave). The waiters were Sandra, Ilena, Isabella and Alejandro that week and we enjoyed talking with them also.

Emerson would get a few hours break from the patio bar and then return to the disco bar for the end of the night festivities (karaoke then dancing). Again, he took great care of us!

For breakfast and lunch, we sat on the pool deck where Konool and Pratiksha often took great care of us. Edwin was often the bartender there... and he has a great voice too which we learned at karaoke one night ... and then asked him to join us for a song (or two) other nights. I'm hoping (because it was slow), it was ok for him to leave his post to be part of a guest's duet (GREAT SERVICE!!!)

Our housekeepers did a great job too! Sorry I didn't catch there names but I saw them occasionally in the halls in mornings and evenings where they would politely greet me (and I even got a compliment on my outfit one night).
Celestyal Cruises 1, Passenger Services @Celestyal Cruises has responded
Thank you for sharing your experience on board the Crystal with us and for choosing to experience the wonders of Cuba with Celestyal Cruises. Your photos are indeed lovely! Your compliments will be conveyed to the Master and crew. It will be our pleasure to welcome you once again on one of our future cruises.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of The Independent Traveler, Inc.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 6004
We originally booked a Outside Window room. I saw pictures on cruise line website showing a full size bed and when I walked in the cabin there were two twin beds. I thought I got the wrong class room so I went to the reception desk and learned all rooms are twins and the beds are pushed together. Since the cruise was under-capacity I was able to upgrade to a balcony room (which has a double bed) for $400. SOOOOO glad I did! We really enjoyed sitting on the deck every morning we sailed into a new port!

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews