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We chose this cruise because it happened to fall during Thanksgiving week. We've been on a Cuba cruise 2 years ago and weren't thrilled to be visiting Santiago rather than Havana. We were told that the dock in Santiago has been damaged and is under repair. We were given 2 days in Havana as a substitute, which was perfect. There is no Diamond Lounge but we were allowed 3 drinks per person in any bar during the nightly Diamond event. There was a cocktail party on the open deck of the Boleros bar on embarkation night and we had an exclusive breakfast daily in the Starlight dining room. The bar service was slow during the Diamond Happy Hour and the Boleros bartender was anything but friendly. Havana is an easy city to get around in on your own and since we visited before, we did our own thing. We booked a salsa class on both days with a local studio in central Havana, and while the streets were dirty and the area run down, no one bothered us and we had a good class, although there was no air conditioning in the studio. We ate at the San Cristobal paladar nearby and highly recommend it for excellent food and service. Note that Presidient Obama and his family had dined there during their visit and there are photos on the wall of that visit. Cienfuegos is a beautiful city with historical architecture and in much better condition than Havana. We did some shopping at the open air market next to the central plaza and ate at the Dona Nora paladar nearby. We had a balcony table and enjoyed an amazing meal with drinks, full dinners and dessert for under $50 with the tip. We enjoyed a rare 15 year old rum for only 6 cucs! We also booked a visit to the Hotel Nacional for their cabaret show. It's easy to reach by taxi and the hotel is glamorous and very historical. The show was amazing and reasonable at $35 per person, which included a mojito and a seat near the stage. We'd seen the Tropicana on our last visit and this is a good second and certainly not as crowded.

Loved the new Itinerary

Empress of the Seas Cruise Review by cincytravelers

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2018
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom
We chose this cruise because it happened to fall during Thanksgiving week. We've been on a Cuba cruise 2 years ago and weren't thrilled to be visiting Santiago rather than Havana. We were told that the dock in Santiago has been damaged and is under repair. We were given 2 days in Havana as a substitute, which was perfect.

There is no Diamond Lounge but we were allowed 3 drinks per person in any bar during the nightly Diamond event. There was a cocktail party on the open deck of the Boleros bar on embarkation night and we had an exclusive breakfast daily in the Starlight dining room. The bar service was slow during the Diamond Happy Hour and the Boleros bartender was anything but friendly.

Havana is an easy city to get around in on your own and since we visited before, we did our own thing. We booked a salsa class on both days with a local studio in central Havana, and while the streets were dirty and the area run down, no one bothered us and we had a good class, although there was no air conditioning in the studio. We ate at the San Cristobal paladar nearby and highly recommend it for excellent food and service. Note that Presidient Obama and his family had dined there during their visit and there are photos on the wall of that visit.

Cienfuegos is a beautiful city with historical architecture and in much better condition than Havana. We did some shopping at the open air market next to the central plaza and ate at the Dona Nora paladar nearby. We had a balcony table and enjoyed an amazing meal with drinks, full dinners and dessert for under $50 with the tip. We enjoyed a rare 15 year old rum for only 6 cucs!

We also booked a visit to the Hotel Nacional for their cabaret show. It's easy to reach by taxi and the hotel is glamorous and very historical. The show was amazing and reasonable at $35 per person, which included a mojito and a seat near the stage. We'd seen the Tropicana on our last visit and this is a good second and certainly not as crowded.
cincytravelers’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Service
Onboard Experience

Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom
Cabin 6V 4062
Very small, but we didn't spend much time in it. Plenty of storage for such a small space. We had to have the beds separated, however, as the person next to the wall would have to crawl over the other person to get out. The cabin is located inside an inner corridor, so was very quiet, which was an advantage with all the children running up and down the halls all day and part of the night.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cienfuegos
    Our favorite port because it's beautiful and much cleaner and newer. It's an easy walk to the central plaza with lots of bars, restaurants and shops. Be sure to visit the beautiful opera house on the plaza. We visited the adjacent school next door to drop off a bag of pens/pencils/crayons and another bag of toothbrushes for the children, which were gratefully received.

    We dined at a nearby paladar called the Dona Nora, which we highly recommend. We sat at a breezy balcony table and enjoyed the house special, the braised lamb, which came with a beautiful vegetable array, rice and beans and mixed veggies for 8 cucs. Flan and chocolate mousse were 1.50 cucs each and a 15 year Cuban rum was only 6 cucs.
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  • Grand Cayman
    Typical Caribbean port and we had to tender to this one. Had a beer and some free wifi at a local bar. Most folks took excursions to the beach. Not anything special if you just are walking around the port.
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  • Havana
    Easy to walk around on your own. Be sure to change your money into cucs at the terminal before you exit. Don't buy anything from people on the street. Felt very safe. Walked into central Havana: dirty streets with uneven sidewalks and construction material, pipes sticking out, dogs and cats running loose, but otherwise, no one begged from us or bothered us.
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  • Miami
    Very busy port. The gateway for the Empress is at the end of the pier and the last stop for the parking services. We waited almost an hour for our parking service van to reach us as he had picked up other cruises at the other end of the pier first.
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