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We took the cruise to see Cuba. The first stop was Key West, which was great (as always) but way too short of a stopover. Cuba is a beautiful country and most of the people we met were quite nice, but guarded, The tour guides could hardly speak English and were propaganda robots for the Cuban government, but the Taxi driver was great (and he got a big tip). My biggest problems were the following: (1) the Cuban Government rips off Americans on the money exchange ($86.00 back per $100.00 getting off the boat and another charge to redeem the CUCs for Dollars); (2) the Cuban Government says Americans can't use Dollars and charge cards, but we saw numerous places and tourists who accepted them or paid with them; (3) We tried to do an evening cabaret show excursion through Carnival (for $75.00), but when we tried to board the bus, we were refused entry because we wore dress shorts; the ticket did say no shorts but the print was so small it was unreadable and had a line through it, which in legal terms should have meant it did not apply; the bus agent would not give us time to go back on the ship and change, even though we were told by friends the bus waited 20 minutes more for other people (of course, there was no refund for the excursion); and (4) even though Carnival sells onshore excursions in Havana after 8:00 PM, and knows the money exchanges close at 8 PM, and there is no way to exchange the CUCs upon returning to the ship because Carnival refuses to provide this service and leaves port before 8:00 AM. I wonder if Carnival gets a percentage of the rip-off. Overall, the Carnival dining experience has gone way down from past years (at least on the Paradise), and the company does not give a hoot about how its passengers get ripped off for money by being able to exchange CUCs for Dollars after coming back to the ship after an evening excursion. Also, what we saw of Havana was mostly very poor; there are many old classical buildings with great architecture, which have either collapsed or are in the process of collapsing because nothing has been done to preserve them. Bottom line: Save you money and tour another country - preferably on another cruise line.

Stay away from Cuba (and Carnival)!

Carnival Paradise Cruise Review by AHiredGun

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
We took the cruise to see Cuba. The first stop was Key West, which was great (as always) but way too short of a stopover. Cuba is a beautiful country and most of the people we met were quite nice, but guarded, The tour guides could hardly speak English and were propaganda robots for the Cuban government, but the Taxi driver was great (and he got a big tip).

My biggest problems were the following: (1) the Cuban Government rips off Americans on the money exchange ($86.00 back per $100.00 getting off the boat and another charge to redeem the CUCs for Dollars); (2) the Cuban Government says Americans can't use Dollars and charge cards, but we saw numerous places and tourists who accepted them or paid with them; (3) We tried to do an evening cabaret show excursion through Carnival (for $75.00), but when we tried to board the bus, we were refused entry because we wore dress shorts; the ticket did say no shorts but the print was so small it was unreadable and had a line through it, which in legal terms should have meant it did not apply; the bus agent would not give us time to go back on the ship and change, even though we were told by friends the bus waited 20 minutes more for other people (of course, there was no refund for the excursion); and (4) even though Carnival sells onshore excursions in Havana after 8:00 PM, and knows the money exchanges close at 8 PM, and there is no way to exchange the CUCs upon returning to the ship because Carnival refuses to provide this service and leaves port before 8:00 AM. I wonder if Carnival gets a percentage of the rip-off.

Overall, the Carnival dining experience has gone way down from past years (at least on the Paradise), and the company does not give a hoot about how its passengers get ripped off for money by being able to exchange CUCs for Dollars after coming back to the ship after an evening excursion. Also, what we saw of Havana was mostly very poor; there are many old classical buildings with great architecture, which have either collapsed or are in the process of collapsing because nothing has been done to preserve them. Bottom line: Save you money and tour another country - preferably on another cruise line.
AHiredGun’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Grand Suite
Cabin GS
The Cabin and balcony were quite nice and the attendant did a great job policing the room and bathroom.
Upper Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews