A friend and I chose this cruise mainly for its price, timing and stop in Havana. We had each taken one cruise before on big U.S. ships but were not particularly impressed. Some of the reviews of the Armonia had us questioning our decision but the lure of Havana was strong. All in all it was a fine trip and one we would sign up for again.
We arrived in Miami the night before and had a comfortable stay and great dinner at the InterContinental near the pier. We showed up at embarkation about 90 minutes early but were boarded. (The terminal was crowded and there were lines, much like in a busy airport, but everything moved.)
Our cabin and bath were very small but clean and well planned with more than sufficient storage and comfortable beds. (I am glad we opted for an outside cabin though.) Because a previous reviewer had warned about the shower curtain wrapping around legs, I brought three metal binder clips to weigh the curtain down which worked very well, even the night of ship was rocking. Our cabin was fine and the cabin attendant, Augus, a sweetheart. Every afternoon when we returned from port we found surprises: towels turned into softer sculptured animals wearing her reading glasses on her bed and my nightgown showing off dance moves I can no longer do on mine.
The food on board was hit and miss. (We generally went to the buffet for breakfast and snacks and the main dining room for dinner.) Everything was okay and a few things exceptional. What made the dinner experience wonderful was our truly fabulous waiter, Islam. By the third night, I would just sit down and tell him to feed us and he would bring us whatever he thought were the best things on the menu that evening. (It worked.) I think those who didn't like the food were either ordering wrong -- like the woman who ordered a well-done strip steak -- or were expecting food cooked to American instead of European palates. (Desserts, for example, are not as sweet.) And the breads were excellent.
We went to a couple shows, which were OK but not fabulous. The entertainers reminded me of school show choirs and the tech on this older ship was not as showy as on the other ships we had seen. Some of the kids were talented, however, and they tried hard. We explored the onboard shops but weren't tempted. We arranged private excursions for Havana and Grand Cayman and made short visits to Jamaica and Cozumel. (Neither of us are beach or tropics persons and we were not interested in expensive tours with a busload of people.) Havana was a delight, and Georgetown enjoyable, both because of excellent private guides. Jamaica and Cozumel were steamy and uninspiring. One thing I appreciated was the "welcome back" tent along the piers with cold towels and ice water.
I especially enjoyed the contact with people from all over the world. The young men working onboard the ship were interesting, eager to share information about their home countries and general observations about ports of call and passenger trends. The other passengers were from an array of places, speaking many languages and were for the most part friendly and polite. (This is not the cruise-line for those who want to only hear English and have contact with older white Americans.)
We somehow ended up with two drink packages which was funny as neither of us are big drinkers. The unlimited package came with the wifi package and probably would have sufficed as the standard table wines available with dinner were fine. Because we also somehow acquired 12-ticket packages that entitled us to cocktails, we explored the various bars. We learned different bartenders made the same cocktail differently and were amused by their observations about the drinking habits of our fellow passengers.
My main concerns about this cruise are relatively trivial. First, wifi service is spotty and unreliable which can be irritating but then again this is a vacation. Second, in an effort to promote the ship's excursions in Havana (or perhaps an over-abundance of caution), I believe the information the ship's representative presented on restrictions placed on U.S. visitors going to Cuba under the "support for the Cuban people" status was incorrect. I had no problem whatsoever bringing medical supplies through Cuban customs and found the official regulations not nearly as scary as the ship's suggestions.
Disembarkation was ridiculously easy and fast, especially compared to how tedious reentry to the U.S. is at airports.
Cabin was very small but extremely well designed. We were comfortable. Because it was far to the back of the ship, we could feel movement but it was not unpleasant. One benefit of the cabin's location was that it was near a small deck facing the back of the ship that was rarely used but provided easy access to fresh air and a broader view.
Hot, sticky and poor. I felt sorry for the people but had no interest in buying souvenirs, jewelry etc.
Six of us took a private tour of the island with a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable Cayman resident. She was delightful.
Visited the tourist-oriented shopping malls attached to the pier. Standard stuff but fine for t-shirts, vanilla and hot sauce to bring back as gifts.
Four of us booked a private guide and drivers for both days in Havana. We had a custom-designed visit complete with a visit to a synagogue that operates a medical clinic and a stop at a second-hand market where I could get a poster from the mid-'70s and assistance in getting prized ballet tickets. This stop was everything we hoped for and more!