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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose this cruise because it stopped in Mackinac Island and provided a chance to see all five Great Lakes. We stayed in the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee prior to the cruise rather than the recommended hotel only because it was our ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it stopped in Mackinac Island and provided a chance to see all five Great Lakes. We stayed in the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee prior to the cruise rather than the recommended hotel only because it was our anniversary and we wanted something special. Milwaukee has plenty to do within walking distance of the dock and is safe and clean. The Pearl Mist is a small ship which enables all cruisers the chance to get to know each other. Our room was comfortable and provided everything we needed. Plenty of hangars in the closet though I bought extra as I like to hang all my clothes. There is a safe in the desk to store your passport and other valuables. We enjoyed the chairs and table on the balcony as we sailed through the Welland Canal and its locks and several times as we sailed away. There are two lounges to choose from for happy hour (all drinks free!) as well as lots of seating area on the top deck to enjoy the scenery as we sail before dinner. Our evening entertainment was two singers on guitar (same ones each night) who were adequate. The music was great - the singing not so much - but nice to dance to. There is also an open bar (more free drinks!) after dinner in the lounge with the entertainment. We enjoyed many meals on the ship where there were also options for vegetarians and gluten-free. Plenty to choose from and the desserts were absolutely yummy. The majority of excursions were included and those that were not were reasonably priced. I compared the prices to what we would pay if we did them on our own and the ship's prices were the same or less. Most of the towns we docked in were right in the town allowing us to walk around on our own. When it was not, the ship provided a free shuttle to the points of interest even if you didn't book an excursion. Maps and local infomation were supplied ahead of time in each port. All excursions were well planned and organized. We went on each included excursion and bought an optional excursion whenever we could. Well worth it. Each day there was a lecture we could attend onboard to learn about the area we were sailing through or some point of interest. There was also a movie or documentary playing on the TV all day pertaining to our next port. I am so glad I overlooked some of the negative reviews that were posted. Some people are always looking to point out that bad. This was a wonderful cruise. The staff and crew were excellent and we enjoyed the highlights of Mackinac and Niagara as well as the smaller towns on the Georgian Bay. Each stop had something to offer and lots of beauty. My husband and I are in our early 60's and good health. We would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We wanted to experience the Great Lakes and thought this cruise was a good way to do it. The crew was well trained, friendly and happy but the ship itself was a disappointment. It was rather shabby and in need of a refurbishment. The ... Read More
We wanted to experience the Great Lakes and thought this cruise was a good way to do it. The crew was well trained, friendly and happy but the ship itself was a disappointment. It was rather shabby and in need of a refurbishment. The furniture was well worn with nicks and scratches and most of the carpeting needed cleaning. The lounges were set up like an old fashioned parlor and not appointed well at all. Afternoon Tea consisted of a coffee/tea machine, paper cups and a few hors d’oevres. We only went once. The food was very good and presented well but don’t order breakfast in your cabin. It always came out wrong. Several other people said the same thing. We did enjoy the entertainment very much. Kenny and Kat were very good and enthusiastic. But the entertainment ended at 10pm and you couldn’t even get a drink after that. We had a good enough time but wouldn’t use this ship again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
My wife wanted to cruise the Great Lakes and i found this ship that was sailing from Toronto, ON Canada through the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay ending in Milwaukee, WS . The ship's facilities were very good but cabins and rooms are ... Read More
My wife wanted to cruise the Great Lakes and i found this ship that was sailing from Toronto, ON Canada through the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay ending in Milwaukee, WS . The ship's facilities were very good but cabins and rooms are dated. The crew members were excellent and very attentive to passenger needs and requests. Entertainment and activities are geared to retired (60+) and service was excellent as was the dining. Shore excursions were good and ports, for the most part, were very easy and efficient. WiFi didn't seem to work when you needed it most and was very spotty to say the least. TV reception (for NBA tournament) was also hit and miss, although some passengers had it on their phones. The disembarkation port was too small though and this made getting off the ship awkward and time consuming. Not good planning on the part of the cruise line. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I chose this cruise because I had never visited the part of eastern Canada the itinerary covered. The staff is attentive, service is excellent, food very good. The the ship caters to seniors but, unfortunately, assumes that all seniors ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I had never visited the part of eastern Canada the itinerary covered. The staff is attentive, service is excellent, food very good. The the ship caters to seniors but, unfortunately, assumes that all seniors are inactive; there is no treadmill, the fitness equipment that is available is in poor condition and located outside, making it unusable in inclement weather. And the ship's decor, which looks like the 1950s, is a bit depressing--nothing matches and colors are outdated--and could use an overhaul. Cabins are comfortable and spacious with plenty drawer and closet/cabinet space, and amenities are ample. I was pleasantly surprised that other than gratuities for the crew, there were no extras--all off-ship excursions, laundry, cocktails, and wine with lunch and dinner were complimentary. I was disappointed that so little time was spent in each port. Disembarkation at each port and assignment to tour buses was handled efficiently, and with safety concerns, which was appreciated. The staff, however, should consider handling disembarkation of infirm passengers from the ship and buses separately so as not to slow down the more active. There was a speaker on board who talked about various areas to be visited and he was interesting, but much of what he had to say seemed to be marketing for future cruises or hotels with which the cruise line contracts. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise because we had never been to eastern Canada, and it was the only cruise and time of year the ship visited Toronto as well as Montreal and Quebec City. The best part and a surprise treat was that all shore excursions ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never been to eastern Canada, and it was the only cruise and time of year the ship visited Toronto as well as Montreal and Quebec City. The best part and a surprise treat was that all shore excursions were complimentary. That saved us over $1,000 and freed us to choose what we wanted to do without regard to price. In some ports we took two shore excursions a day. Another pleasant surprise was complimentary laundry service since there was no self-service laundry onboard. We visited several remote ports that we'd never heard of before and found something enjoyable and scenic in each one. Only complaint was some walking tours were too long with no place to sit and rest while the guide spoke. Our cabin was comfortable and well maintained, and food selection and service excellent as long as we avoided one slow and inattentive server. We looked forward to meeting different (151) passengers at each.meal. The worst part of the cruise was weather due to late arrival of spring. Trees had not leafed out yet, sunny days were the exception, and we usually had to bundle up in winter clothing outside. Since the ship sailed at night, there were three stormy, frightening North Atlantic nights being rocked in the cradle of the deep. Some passengers reported furniture and coffee makers overturned. Thrusters were noisy at night when going through locks/canals. Our historian/guide was very interesting after dinner preparing us for next day's port, but musical entertainment of two guitar playing singers got old fast We were glad to watch MSNBC in our room instead. Recommend staying in Toronto for extra nights as there is so much to see there. Bus to disembark for hotel was 2 hours late due to some miscommunication and no Toronto tour offered.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
I've read many reviews about many cruise lines. I believe that people that are dissatisfied are way more likely to post a review than those who are completely happy with their experience. I'm going to be as objective as I know ... Read More
I've read many reviews about many cruise lines. I believe that people that are dissatisfied are way more likely to post a review than those who are completely happy with their experience. I'm going to be as objective as I know how. The only area in which I'd give a low mark is the internet connection ability. It was slow to non-existent as well as unpredictable. If you're a person who needs high speed internet service all the time, you'll be unhappy. If you have an old flip-phone and use it only occasionally, this deficiency won't matter to you. Our room, 421, largest choice for a cabin, was excellent. Spacious and comfy. Full sized bath, fantastic shower, king sized bed. The food offerings were very tasty and satisfying. If there was a weak area, I'd say it was the bread and pastries. There was no problem making up any assortment of choices three meals a day. Snacks, colas, great assortment of soft drinks were free gratis all day as well as a hot beverage machine that had every kind of hot drink imaginable. (Looked up its price and it's in the $10,000 neighborhood and they had 2). Wine, beer, heavier snacks were available between 5:30-6:30 before dinner. Bottled water and soft drinks were put in the room refrigerator daily as well as the presence of a Keurig coffee pot with a variety of pods. Rooms were cleaned twice daily. Service people were competent and friendly in all areas, dining as well as cleaning. Laundry service was complimentary. Excursions at each port on the Canadian Maritime and St. Lawrence Seaway were also complimentary. Bus tours were well planned for people with disabilities. Help was always available at a moment's notice. On the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay cruise a few had a charge, but many were complimentary. Some may complain that the price is higher than many cruise lines, but I believe when you weigh the amenities the price is well worth it. We think it's the best cruise we've been on. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We missed about 30% of the planned itinerary, including no stop in Casilda. Our trip was cut short as soon as we arrived, by 6 hours. We spent way too much time aboard ship and our land time was constantly changed and shortened. The ... Read More
We missed about 30% of the planned itinerary, including no stop in Casilda. Our trip was cut short as soon as we arrived, by 6 hours. We spent way too much time aboard ship and our land time was constantly changed and shortened. The cruise directors were very flippant about the reasons. We missed a wonderful concert in Cienfuegos due to a guide or tour director’s mistake and were left behind to take a taxi to the venue, with a guest lecturer and another guest. No apologies from Pearl Mist staff. The advertised gym was a few pieces of broken and/or rusted equipment, covered and unusable for a good part of the trip due to wind or rain. MOST IMPORTANT, many passengers got a terrible respiratory and stomach infection. I got very sick myself. There were a lot of leaky air conditioners. Our room smelled moldy and mildewed. The carpet was damp and dirty in places. The crew was evasive about what was making so many people sick. The nurse actually stated that “Cuba is hot and the ship is air conditioned.” We live in Florida! That being said, the waitstaff, housekeepers and the 2 entertainers worked really hard and were excellent. Cuba is well worth visiting, but not on Pearl Mist. We paid fora 5***** experience. Customer service has been disappointing. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I chose this cruise because I wanted to learn about the history and culture of the Cuban people. The cruise departed from Fort Lauderdale and went to Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana. The embarkation went smoothly, but ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to learn about the history and culture of the Cuban people. The cruise departed from Fort Lauderdale and went to Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana. The embarkation went smoothly, but the stay at the pre-cruise hotel was not satisfactory. The clerk checked me into a dirty room, which took some time to correct. One of the elevators stopped working, which caused delays in using the remaining elevator. Breakfast the next morning was included, but the eggs were cold. A pleasant surprise after departing the hotel was an air-boat tour of the Everglades, which helped pass the time until we could get to the ship. The ship is relatively small, but was stable during some rough seas. My single cabin was small but adequate. The dining was first-rate, with excellent food and the flexibility to choose half portions. Room service was good. My housekeeper made up my room at least twice a day and sometimes three. The cruise included three days at sea, and the activities helped pass the time, e.g., trivia games, bingo, and educational lectures on the natural environment and cultural history of Cuba. The shore excursions were educational and entertaining. I especially liked the performance by the chamber orchestra of Cienfuegos. The walking tours were led by educated guides who pointed out landmarks and their significance along the way. My favorite excursion was a ride in a 1953 Buick through the streets of Havana. I wouldn't go again on this particular trip, but I would encourage anyone who has not been to Cuba to go on this cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Wanted to see Cuba and really enjoyed this circumnavigation tour versus a traditional land tour. The Peal Mist is a small, intimate ship that has top-notch staff and service. It is not a luxury cruise ship and compares to the similarly ... Read More
Wanted to see Cuba and really enjoyed this circumnavigation tour versus a traditional land tour. The Peal Mist is a small, intimate ship that has top-notch staff and service. It is not a luxury cruise ship and compares to the similarly intimate ships used on European river cruises. With fewer than 200 guests on board, I had the chance to meet almost everyone and really enjoyed my fellow travelers. The food was good with plenty of selections, the cabin was larger than expected and very comfortable, the staff was outstanding, the entertainment was lightweight and fun, the lecturers were informative and interesting, the tours were varied and well organized. Please note, this is NOT a value cruise. It is pricey when comparing to large cruise ships, but everything is included and the intimacy and attention to detail by the organization and staff is well worth the price paid. Everything about this cruise exceeded my expectations but I must re-emphasize that you are paying for the intimate travel experience versus luxury. I highly recommend this cruise for individuals aged 50+ but do not believe it is well suited for children or young adults. A+++ Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because it visited four different Cuban cities: Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana. The appeal of being able to sleep on the ship and not have to pack up and move every few days sold us. The crew is great, and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it visited four different Cuban cities: Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana. The appeal of being able to sleep on the ship and not have to pack up and move every few days sold us. The crew is great, and they make every effort to take care of your needs. All shore excursions are included and there are free beverages and a lengthy happy hour each night. A marine biologist onboard provided interesting perspectives on nature topics. The busses on shore are relatively new and comfortable, but those with physical limitations will find Cuban terrain a challenge (no ramps, many stairs without railings, etc.) Because of docking limitations in Havana, the company offered an alternative bus trip from Cienfuegos to Havana and put us up in a nice hotel so we would have an adequate amount of time in that city. There are undoubtedly travellers who will complain about just about anything, but we thought this was a very beneficial method of dealing with unexpected complications from the Cuban port authorities. The people-to-people interactions included several musical performances: chamber music, steel band, jazz. The tour to Muraleandos in Havana was a highlight, showing what the people of that barrio had done to salvage an old concrete water tank and turn it into a community space and arts center. The Cuban people are welcoming and we felt safe in all venues there. A fantastic experience!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Smaller ships are the best way to travel for us. We received a notice in the mail about 9 months ago concerning the Cuba cruise on the Pearl Mist. My husband said let's go. I had also seen the ad in Southern Living Magazine. ... Read More
Smaller ships are the best way to travel for us. We received a notice in the mail about 9 months ago concerning the Cuba cruise on the Pearl Mist. My husband said let's go. I had also seen the ad in Southern Living Magazine. The accommodations on the Pearl Mist are great. Cabins have plenty of room for comfort. We have no complaints regarding the ship, crew, or the itinerary. It was all very well done and coordinated. There were two people who did presentations regarding Cuba. Victor was a Cuban born young man who seemed to handle the logistics of getting from port to port and touring around. We enjoyed the presentations by these knowledgable people and it led to discussions amoung the passengers. There were two Cuban born passengers who spoke to all of us the last day about their story. Very interesting and emotional for these women. We did not know about the bus ride from one port into Havana with a two night stay at a 5 star hotel until we boarded the ship. This was very special and I imagine we weren't told about it previously to boarding as sometimes things can change with their itineraries. Changes they have no control over. I would certainly recommend the Pearl Mist Cuba Cruise to anyone. So much more than I anticipated! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We wanted to see Cuba without experiencing some of the issues with land based hotels. We did end up staying in Melia Cohiba in Havana due to the Cuban government changing our docking from 2 days to 5 hours. Cruise directors managed to ... Read More
We wanted to see Cuba without experiencing some of the issues with land based hotels. We did end up staying in Melia Cohiba in Havana due to the Cuban government changing our docking from 2 days to 5 hours. Cruise directors managed to book buses and hotel rooms for everyone...so instead of 1-1/2 days of cruising from Cienfuegos to Havana, we took a 3-1/2 hour bus ride and stayed in a "5 Star" hotel...the stars do not mean the same in Cuba - trust me. All in all it meant we saw more of the Havana area than if we had been able to cruise to Havana. The Las Terrazas excursion was to a bio-farm that was a highlight of the trip, along with the spectacular Tropicana show in Havana.We are 70ish and were able to do all of the excursions we wanted to do. HOWEVER, there were 10 to 15 others who struggled with every excursion. Cuba is a 3rd world country and does not have reasonable (or any) accommodations for people with disabilities. If you use any kind of an assistive device, albeit a cane, walker, scooter or human help, we strongly suggest you not take the cruise. Pearl Seas staff did everything they could to help out, but steep stairs with no handrails, buses that do not lower to make boarding easier, uneven streets everywhere, and no disabled restroom facilities made for a miserable time for them. The experience on land was great...We saw several music presentations which were amazing. The Cuban culture is centered on music, dance, art and a deep love of all three. The people live in abject poverty but they had pride in their appearance and in keeping their homes and streets clean. Many of our guides were professors, lawyers and info techs...but can make more money as your guides! They were open about their country and its poverty and struggles. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife and I, plus another couple, booked the Pearl Seas (PS) 11 day Cuba Cultural voyage. We selected PS because of the itinerary visiting 4 main cities (Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana) starting with Havana on New Year’s ... Read More
My wife and I, plus another couple, booked the Pearl Seas (PS) 11 day Cuba Cultural voyage. We selected PS because of the itinerary visiting 4 main cities (Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana) starting with Havana on New Year’s eve. My wife and I have only taken 6 previous cruises (Seabourn, Lindblad, Princess, Crystal, Uniworld, and Viking) for comparison purposes. I typically write and post reviews after our trips with respect to the hotels and cruises we stay. I attempt to be objective and helpful. Here is the one for the Pearl Seas cruise to Cuba. Overall, we’d mark PS at the bottom of this group. Why? The pros and cons: Housekeeping, meals, and meal service were all quite good. Meal selection was more than adequate; meals were well prepared, open seating timeframes were generous, and staff were courteous and prompt. Drinks (wine, beer, and cocktails) were plentiful. Wine selection was limited but the alcohol selection was clearly above average. Cabins were quite large, all had a balcony, in-suite bathrooms, and amply sized shower stalls. TVs were small but had good channel reception during the cruise. Rooms were cleaned twice a day. Wifi/internet service was spotty, slow, and sometimes non-existent. It would be helpful if PS informed it’s passengers beforehand not to count on getting internet service. The ship was well maintained and laid out. One must remember it is a relatively small ship and it rocks a lot even in small wave situations. We were in less than a sea state 1 (small choppy waves) and approximately 15 crew members were seasick as a result. Meals are served on the first deck and most presentations and meetings are on the 2nd deck. Passengers staying in cabins on the 4th and 5th deck were constantly climbing stairs. They had one small elevator and it was quick and available throughout. People with mobility issues would be well served to get cabins on the 2nd or 3rd deck. On board presentations were below average in quality, detail, content, and preparation. Presenters were friendly and funny, but seemed to read from Wikipedia vs impart expert knowledge and experience. Some presentations were actually verbal readings of previously handed out material. We frankly stopped attending them midway through the cruise. Quality of tour guides was generally high. It’s obvious cruise lines need to use the Cuba government owned tour agency guides so there is not much that PS can do about sourcing their guides. All were college graduates and knew their material. They responded to questions, were friendly, and appeared transparent when talking about Cuban culture, economy, history, and politics. Some English was excellent while a few were difficult to understand. The litany of problems however started the first day. After boarding at our first meeting, we discover the itinerary had been reversed so we’d be spending New Year’s eve in Santiago instead of Havana and seeing Havana last instead of first. This was a keen disappointment. Moreover, our initial itinerary stated we were on the ship for the full cruise and that we had 4 nights onboard the ship in Havana. Instead, they bused us from Cienfuegos to Havana (4 hour drive) and we stayed at a hotel for 2 nights (the nice Parque Central hotel) meaning we all had to pack for the overnights. None of this was communicated beforehand. Given PS arranged for the buses and made reservations for over 150 rooms at a 5* hotel, one would think they knew about these changes in advance and could have communicated it to the passengers. Changes these major, in my opinion, should have been conveyed. That said, the hotel was beautiful, location was excellent, and service was good. Similar changes occurred throughout the cruise. Tour times were changed from morning to afternoon seemingly at the last minute. Some activities and sites we were told we’d see were not actually covered on the tours. We were told we’d use the “whisper vox” devices for some of the tours but the tour guide did not use them making it harder for a passenger to hear the walking tours. While in Havana, one had to find the cruise director to understand what the schedule was because nothing was written and distributed to the passengers the night before or morning of the tours. These are only a few examples. As a result, it felt there was a lot of “last minute” planning or little planning. The most visible example was when returning to the ship in Havana. As passengers we were told to take our luggage with us and be processed. It turns out there were long lines, lots of stairs, and significant confusion. We had numerous passengers who needed assistance due to walkers, canes, or age. Only 1 member from the ship’s crew (the musician) was there to try to let people know what to do. No one else from the boat crew came to help with baggage, no one came to assist the mobile challenged passengers, and no one was “directing traffic”. Almost comical was the fact we found guidance on giving tips with the tip envelop in our cabins after we boarded. In summary, we give an overall rating of a 3 out of 5. With better pre-planning and earlier, transparent communication, it could easily have been between 4 and 4.5 Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The ship was phenomenal with good food, great cabin (Deck 2), wonderful stops, a two night stay in a 4 star hotel in Havana, and great talks with a person affiliated with National Geographic. The crew was very hospitable as well as the ... Read More
The ship was phenomenal with good food, great cabin (Deck 2), wonderful stops, a two night stay in a 4 star hotel in Havana, and great talks with a person affiliated with National Geographic. The crew was very hospitable as well as the cruise directors and met every need that was asked of them. There were 187 passengers. The meals were very good with multiple choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was an open bar from 5 or so until late at night as well as beer and wine at lunch and dinner. The cabin was very large and had a small balcony. There were plenty of drawers and storage space and the bathroom was very adequate. The four port stops were outstanding and since our ship couldn't dock in Havana (only two slips for large ships) they bused us 3 1/2 hours across the island and put us up in a very modern Spanish hotel that provided breakfasts and dinners. The day tours included lunches at local restaurants in all the ports. The exercise equipment was old and in some cases not working. We were told that the ship was going into wet dock and the equipment was to be replaced. There were 2 bikes but not hooked up electronically. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this vessel and cruise company because of the size of the ship. We were not disappointed at all! The rooms were comfortable and sized well, as were the bathrooms. The crew was attentive, polite and always helpful. The meal choices ... Read More
We chose this vessel and cruise company because of the size of the ship. We were not disappointed at all! The rooms were comfortable and sized well, as were the bathrooms. The crew was attentive, polite and always helpful. The meal choices were varied and always terrific. Service in the dining room couldn't have been any better. Everything was included in the cruise price and we had 3 meals a day, The crew did laundry for me about 6 times while on the cruise, there was happy hour every day with a wide variety of drinks and eats. I couldn't say enough about this cruise experience! I have already booked another cruise with the same line on the same ship for 2020! If you are looking for a relaxing, educational, and fun cruise this would be the one. We were not interested in the gym at all. There was some equipment on one of the decks, but I cannot review it as I never used it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This ship has a great and comprehensive Cuba schedule.The cruise is all-inclusive of excursions and drinks.The staff is outstanding in their attitude and service. No nickel and diming of the passengers. Staterooms are roomy and ... Read More
This ship has a great and comprehensive Cuba schedule.The cruise is all-inclusive of excursions and drinks.The staff is outstanding in their attitude and service. No nickel and diming of the passengers. Staterooms are roomy and comfortable. Food is outstanding and varied choices. Entertainment is limited but very good for a ship that has 210 passengers. You will learn a lot and have some real fun on this ship. Getting on and off the ship is a breeze compared to the larger ships. Cabins all have accessible balconies with two chairs and a table. Showers are of good size, but there are no bathtubs in the cabins. Lounges are of good size and all have free refreshments and snacks as well as coffee and expresso. Captain's happy hour starts at 5 pm and continues to dinner time, where beer and wine is also included with your meal. In addition, the complimentary bar is open after dinner in the lounge where entertainment is provided. . Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Let me begin this review by saying that anyone who travels to Cuba needs to be flexible or choose a different destination...the Cuban government imposes changes on cruise ship schedules, which is no fault of the cruise line and those ... Read More
Let me begin this review by saying that anyone who travels to Cuba needs to be flexible or choose a different destination...the Cuban government imposes changes on cruise ship schedules, which is no fault of the cruise line and those changes can/will happen to any cruise ship. Our Pearl Mist voyage had two major changes: 1) We sailed in a clockwise direction (the opposite of the planned schedule) which put us in Santiago de Cuba rather than in Havana for New Year's Eve. The cruise line arranged for us to attend a fabulous local outdoor party at a 5 star Melia hotel, with 2 bands, unlimited cocktails, and appetizers. It was all very upscale and festive. 2) Instead of the three days we were scheduled to be in Havana, our ship was allowed just 12 hours at one of the two cruise docks. So we were driven on a 31/2 hour bus ride through the countryside (that ride gave us the opportunity to see the Cuban interior rather than coastline) and the cruise line put us up at a lovely 5 star, centrally located, Havana hotel, the Parque Central. The cruise line had 15 days notice to arrange this alternate plan at an expense to them of $100,000! I call this going above and beyond! Our cabin was slightly smaller than we've had on other cruise lines, but very adequate including a balcony with a table and 2 chairs. We ordered room service breakfast one morning and had a delightful meal on our patio. We were on Deck 3 and found no need to use the elevator...most activities are on Deck 2 and 4; The dining room is on Deck 1. There is an elevator for those needing it, but we didn't see it getting a lot of use. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals...the food was expertly prepared and the service was the same as you would find at a 5 star restaurant. The meal choices were varied, 3 courses, and delicious. Breakfast offered both a buffet and table service. We were asked to order lunch and dinner at breakfast to allow the chef to prepare, but were told we certainly could change our choices at mealtimes. Half portions were also available. We had a cocktail hour from 5-10:30 each evening with top shelf liquor: Glenleviet, Grey Goose, etc., a pleasant surprise. Which brings me to additional charges...there are NONE! They don't even ask for a credit card at boarding because there is NOTHING to pay for, including laundry! The only exceptions are gratuities, which can be left on a credit card charge, dollars, or euros and tips for tour guides and bus drivers. All of our tour guides spoke very good English and were quite knowledgeable and friendly. Because this cruise is a people to people trip, our tours included artist co-operatives and studios, botanical gardens, etc. but these were mixed in with city and landmark tours, an evening at the Tropicana, and a fabulous tour in a classic car. Because we chose full day tours (half day options are available) we had lunch at a variety of local restaurants and paladores. Some, of course,, were better than others, but all included beer, wine, and cocktails, and provided another opportunity to see how Cubans live. The Cuban people are lovely, welcoming, and happy. We always felt very safe, so much so that we ventured out on our own in the evening. Entertainment consisted of 2 musicians who played music of the era of the guests aboard the ship. (50's and 60's rock and roll) For a small ship, the entertainment is exactly what we expected. There are lectures and classes (mojito making, salsa dancing) during the day. The guests ranged in age from 40s to 90s. Maybe this was just our cruise, but the guests were so friendly, well traveled, and so much fun and made our trip that much more memorable. The dance floor was crowded every night, maybe the top shelf liquor had something to do with that?? The cruise staff was great from the cruise directors to the waiters to the cabin stewards...They were all charming, accommodating, and professional. One note: Small ships are not as stabilized as massive ships. As were traveling around the tip of the island, the seas were a bit rough and were asked to stay off the outdoor decks for a few hours. My husband was not bothered at all, but I have a tendency to experience motion sickness. I had asked my physician for sea sick patches before we left home, and I am very happy that I did! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We, as most of the passengers on this ship, choose it because it promised so much time on land in Cuba. THAT was LAST year, NO LONGER. We were in Cuba ONLY 3.5 days. And the ship constantly blamed the government when that was not usually ... Read More
We, as most of the passengers on this ship, choose it because it promised so much time on land in Cuba. THAT was LAST year, NO LONGER. We were in Cuba ONLY 3.5 days. And the ship constantly blamed the government when that was not usually the case. Crew members readily admitted that they could not remember ever being on land for seven days. Furthermore, we are cruisers who typically sail with Oceania or land trips with Tauck, both are higher end, more pricey than average vacations. This Pearl Seas cruise was the MOST EXPENSIVE per day vacation we have ever taken. It was not even worth it at half price. Go to Cuba any other way that you can. Here is the reality. While Pearl Mist was one of the first to go to Cuba in-depth, it is now being pushed out by ANY larger ship because there is more money in allowing the larger ships to use the very LIMITED port facilities (only two ships can dock in Havana at one time). Does the government want the 200 pax ship or the 2-3,000 pax ship?? The same thing happened in Cienfuegos, with buses and tour guides. The larger Oceania ship went to the Botanical Gardens; Pearl Mist told us that the gardens closed early that day. We did not see the gardens. The food was barely average. There is always a chicken, fish, meat and veggie option, they were always just a little strange, not continental. The chef and kitchen staff are all Filipino. Furthermore, the waiters did not want to hear about any variations on the menu. For example, the salad course offered Caesar salad with shrimp. I did not want the shrimp; the waiter said it would be a problem as the salad was already plated. I repeated my request, and he said he would try. Luckily I am not allergic, as someone just took the shrimp off the salad. Any request for meat that was less than well done was NEVER executed; it was always overcooked. The ship has only one dining room option, there is no casual eating restaurant. Furthermore, this ship is sea worthy enough to make the trip, but if there is ANY rough weather, you will be unhappy (and most likely sea sick). Most pax were sea sick for several days. The good news, the rooms and baths are spacious, but no refrige. Internet is included, but so slow that it reminded me of 30 years ago dial up. TV is satellite and limited. The lectures were good, the music was not. AGAIN, GO TO CUBA ANY OTHER WAY YOU CAN. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our cruise on the Pearl Mist was a serious disappointment, for two reasons. First, we didn't get the cruise for which we signed up. We reserved on information indicating that we would spend two full days and an evening of ... Read More
Our cruise on the Pearl Mist was a serious disappointment, for two reasons. First, we didn't get the cruise for which we signed up. We reserved on information indicating that we would spend two full days and an evening of entertainment in Havana, and then one full day each in Santiago, Trinidad de Cuba and Cienfuegos. Instead, we got a half day and the evening of entertainment in Havana and an afternoon in Cienfuegos. There are times that my memory slips, so I thought maybe I did not remember correctly, but everyone with whom we spoke on the ship was also upset, saying they felt they had been denied the cruise for which they paid. We got an afternoon in Freeport as recompense for the lost day in Havana, but all that did was necessitate a prolonged trip across difficult seas in which a good percentage of the passengers, and even the cruise director, got terribly sick. The visit to Freeport, as lovely as it was for four hours on land, was not worth the discomfort. Second, the cruise management was terrible, from the pre-cruise arrangements at various Ft. Lauderdale hotels, right up to breakfast on disembarkation day. We were told dining room opened at 6 but it didn't open until 6:30. So we all stood around. In between, there were dozens of examples of mismanaged situations. Many small things that just weren't handled professionally or with any sense that these people had done this before. Our cabin was a good size and was comfortable, but the furniture drawers came without latches so that when seas were rough they were swinging open and closed. One passenger reported that his TV fell over because it hadn't been secured. The food was good but not spectacular, not as good as on other cruises I've taken with Princess and Viking. Embarkation was confused. The entertainment was dreadful. But the lectures by Prof. Richard Feinburg of UCSD were GREAT! He really gave us a sense of Cuba. The tour guides in Cuba were mostly below par, but the buses were good. The ship is too small to get a good walk in on the upper deck. The exercise machines are inadequate and poorly placed. The Wi-Fi rarely connected. The waiters were good, but there were too few to provide good service. Cabin staff was very conscientious. Worst of all was the staff reaction to expressed concerns. They were all young, probably 23-28, and relatively inexperienced. They could not provide any explanations for why things were the way they were and said that upper management had not provided any information. The captain was rarely seen. Laughably, the two most conscientious adults on the ship were the two musicians who performed every night. They also chipped in with passenger support and worked very hard to help people with issues. Kat, in particular, was an angel to our cabin neighbor who got VERY seasick. Some tips for anyone considering this cruise line: Read every line of every document you receive because they slipped the itinerary change into other documents rather than being upfront and direct. Be aware that this is a small ship, which has some advantages, but that it will also get knocked around in Cuban waters. Be aware that the passengers are mostly retirees. At 67, I was easily in the younger half of the passenger list. The passengers were great. They were all accomplished people, experienced travelers, friendly. We enjoyed ourselves. But younger people might want to skip this preview of life in a retirement home. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I understand that travel to Cuba is not totally predictable, but an unpredictable Cuban government is very different than a deceptive itinerary. Our "Planned Cruise Itinerary" says we will have a "day of cruising" only ... Read More
I understand that travel to Cuba is not totally predictable, but an unpredictable Cuban government is very different than a deceptive itinerary. Our "Planned Cruise Itinerary" says we will have a "day of cruising" only twice during the entire cruise. The reality was 2.5 days of cruising out of Fort Lauderdale and a total of 5 days of cruising. We were told the only change was the time in Havana that was cut short by the Cuban government. I also think that as a small ship the Pearl Mist could be more mindful of waste. Plastic water bottles were so plentiful that people would take a few sips and abandon the bottle. We have been on other small ships that provide a refillable bottle and have refill stations throughout the ship. I still cringe when I think of how many plastic water bottles were disposed of by this ship. They could also have served condiments such as mayo, mustard, jam and syrup in refillable ramekins instead of the tiny, individual glass jars that are impossible to get all of the contents out and make more trash. Our entertainment was three speakers and two musician/singers. One speaker was quite good and the other two fair; but the two others were good musicians but absolutely horrible singers. Surely in Florida there are some Cuban musicians who would have been a better choice. Finally, there was not enough communication between the cruise directors and the local guides. The guides were oblivious to the many physical difficulties and necessities of the guests. The reality with this group of passengers is that they were the most physically disabled group I have ever traveled with, and this was not a handicap-friendly country. Finally, the food is mediocre. My rating RE embarkation is because they left the luggage of four passengers on the dock in Fort Lauderdale. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to experience Cuba before it gets too commercial so we booked a 12day/11 night cruise on the Pearl Mist. We ended up being on Cuban soil only 4 days of the entire trip, and they added Freeeport, Bahamas for the 5th day off the ... Read More
We wanted to experience Cuba before it gets too commercial so we booked a 12day/11 night cruise on the Pearl Mist. We ended up being on Cuban soil only 4 days of the entire trip, and they added Freeeport, Bahamas for the 5th day off the ship; way too much time at sea. While Cuba itself was fantastic, the food on the ship was very good and it was very clean, it was completely unacceptable that they shortened the 8-day promise of Cuban shore time down to 4 days, and some of those days were only half days! They completely misinformed/advertised deceptively of how much time would be on shore. Of course they say that it was out of their hands, Cuban changes, etc. but it was an extremely expensive trip to start with, and they should be held accountable for more time on shore, or a reduction in price. Also, we were told (in print) that the first night dinner would be served on the boat, but we ended up not boarding till past 7:30PM and there were only cold sandwiches offered after much complaining about the situation by all passengers. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Their Cuba itinerary is a straight flat lie! They publish as if they are having 7 excursion days in the island of Cuba, out of 12 total cruise days. We actually got only 3 excursion days! (2 full days and 2 half days) in Cuba. Not to ... Read More
Their Cuba itinerary is a straight flat lie! They publish as if they are having 7 excursion days in the island of Cuba, out of 12 total cruise days. We actually got only 3 excursion days! (2 full days and 2 half days) in Cuba. Not to mention that they cruise during the day and dock at night, instead of cruising at night and leaving the days for touring. There was nothing to do onboard during these 6 days of cruising. The first day we left at 9pm instead of 1pm. The last day we arrived at 6am. So total of 10 not 12! The food is not what you would expect for the high end price. The only good thing about them is the on board staff which are trying their best to cover up for the management. The company has not even responded to our complaint (check their BBB rating of D+). Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The Pearl Mist and Pearl Seas Cruise Line represent a missed opportunity. This cruise missed the mark in several ways, but fulfilled many of my main goals for the cruise: the food was great and so was the room turn-down service. Every day ... Read More
The Pearl Mist and Pearl Seas Cruise Line represent a missed opportunity. This cruise missed the mark in several ways, but fulfilled many of my main goals for the cruise: the food was great and so was the room turn-down service. Every day the dining room was open for about 2 hours for each meal. There was no assigned seating and it was never dressy. The service was expedient and the food was varied and almost always very good if at the very least acceptable. The staff taking care of the rooms did an excellent job and were just and friendly and nice as the wait staff. So why is this review a “poor”? Just about everything else. The Pearl Mist was built in 2007, but actually went into service in 2014 due to a legal dispute that like everything else on this cruise is poorly explained with murkey details. The ship is small. Really small. With three lounges and a fourth being used as a storeroom, this vessel was designed to rely on ports to entertain people. The rooms were small but not intolerable and all but one have a balcony. The beds were very comfortable but the furniture was dated, and the comically small TV in all the rooms had a screen smaller than my laptop’s but a wide variety of cable channels. There’s a small desk and the bathroom is a nice size. The lounges are also fairly nice with comfy couches and then less comfy chairs along with a veritable vending machine of snack foods and canned drinks. No part of the ship exceeds one floor, which leads to a very claustrophobic feeling unless you go to the top. There’s also only one elevator and it was closed without announcements twice during the cruise - it’s a long walk from the cabins on the fifth floor to the first floor dining room. The real problems with cruising aboard the Pearl Mist started once we left the port. First, our schedule was changed without notice such that we lost days in all of our Cuban ports and added an afternoon in Freeport. Our room was also changed two days before the cruise without notice, apparently even to the baggage people who delivered our luggage to our old room, and then took ages to deliver it to our real room. The sea days were painful with few activities. There is no pool, there is no theatre. There are lectures and Boards games. The lecturers were quite good on the history of Cuba and eniriched the cruise greatly - the board games were fine. After two consecutive sea days we arrived only minutes late to Santiago De Cuba. This was my favourite port at which we stopped as we had a full day of excursioning and entertainment off the ship at a local hotel. Speaking of entertainment, the entertainers aboard our vessel performed almost every night on two electric guitars and seemed keen to play the same songs almost every night. Because the cruise was to Cuba most of the shore excursion were run by their government and went like clockwork. However, the lack of information given to us made it difficult to arrive to tours on time or even know where a tour was going and how to get there. Most of our shore excursions were quite good, except for Cienfuegos where they didn’t go to the botanical gardens and instead we were guided around a crowded shopping district. Why couldn’t we go to the garden? Apparently it was Christmas Eve and all the guides were off celebrating. That would make sense except the other ship in the port had 3 excursions to the same botanical garden throughout the day. The concealing actions taken by the cruise directors were routine and made the cruise difficult on and off the ship. We were seldom told when we were delayed and even less frequently why. No matter what we never received an apology for tardiness and lack of organization. We probably lost 3 hours in our ports because of various uncategorized delays that were never explained or acknowledged by the cruise directors. Some would blame this in the Cuban government’s disorganization, but when we had the misfortune of visiting Freeport (which is a real harbour with a large harbour authority) we docked a full 45 minutes late. We visited Freeport to (I guess) make up for the day we seemed to loose in Havana (this is all extrapolation because we were never told about it). Apparently the Cubans bumped our boat out of Havana harbour early so we only had 7 or 8 daylight hours in what was supposed to be the centerpiece of our Cuba cruise. Then we went to Freeport, packed onto rented busses, went to two destinations before the drivers decided it was too dark and late and brought us back to the ship halfway through the tour - all while our cruise directors went out on the town to party. Freeport was the low of our cruise and it was the product of an ill conceived schedule change that was never explicitly acknowledged or apologized for. This schedule and contempt passenger care meant we spent double the time on our “Cuba Cultural Voyage” at sea as we did in Cuba. Some of these changes would have been acceptable if we had known in advance and properly compensated. These were rookie errors that stemmed from inexperienced, poorly trained, and probably underpaid cruise directors. The Captain of our ship was also absent from any anncouncement other than one he made announcing a delayed arrival to Havana that was then further delayed afterwards. Despite a day of tough seas that the ship handled so ungracefully that Dramamine was out in a tin at the front desk, we were never contacted by the bridge apologizing for the weather or reassuring us that the ship wasn’t going to sink, instead just endless intercom reminders to hold onto the handrails. The failures of our managing crew and the extreme upscale pricing of this voyage make it impossible to recommend. This cruise ship was a fantastic, if not overpriced, upscale hotel - it was the sailing that sunk this ship. It’s frustrating because the dining room, bar, and cabin staff were an oasis in the desert of success that defined this cruise experience. Furthermore the schedule on their website was nothing like what we actually experienced, we skipped three of their listed days. The cruise attempted to waste our time to stretch this beleaguered journey to 11 days. We lost 1/2 our time in Cuba for reasons we will never know. While your experience may very, our time with Pearl Seas will most certainly be the last. With the schedule we endured, and the possibility that the schedule could change without notice, I can’t recommend this cruise to anyone. It was neither what I paid for nor what I expected. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Summary This Cuba “experience” is marred by deceptive advertising, bait-and-switch promises and on-ship excuses. Look at Oceania cruises for alternative Cuba cruises recommended by people who have gone on both. The bottom line is ... Read More
Summary This Cuba “experience” is marred by deceptive advertising, bait-and-switch promises and on-ship excuses. Look at Oceania cruises for alternative Cuba cruises recommended by people who have gone on both. The bottom line is that while shipboard accommodations are excellent, this small ship is at the mercy of the Cuban government, which favors larger ships in its limited ports. You don’t learn about the actual cruise itinerary until it’s too late to cancel. Report Card (see below for detail) Time in Port/Excursions D- Embarkation / Debarkation process C Staterooms A Staff A Food B+ Amenities A to C- Overall D Time in Port/Excursions The good news is that all excursions are included at no charge. The bad news is that many never happened: Hemingway’s house, the visit to Cojimar, the Botanical Gardens and the waterfalls of El Nicho were nixed. The Cuban government was blamed for limiting time in port. In most ports there are only one or two docks and Cuban guides informed us that the larger cruise lines were favored and given precedence. The disappointment was palpable as item after item was take off the itinerary… AFTER the cruise began. In at least one case (the Botanical Gardens at Cienfuegos) we were told that the Gardens were closed because the local personnel had the day off as a holiday. However, another cruise ship was in port and we saw at least four of their tour buses with “Botanical Gardens” in their windows. The three scheduled days completely at sea became a total of five, with several half days. Bear in mind that Pearl Mist has been traveling to Cuba for two years and is fully aware of Cuban government policies. If there are disclaimers about itinerary changes on their website, I can’t find them. This tactic is nothing short of deceptive. Embarkation / Debarkation Poor communication and bad execution caused significant disruption in boarding the ship. Late arrival of the previous cruise caused long delays sitting in hotel lobbies waiting for pickup. One bus got lost on the way to the port. The scheduled dinner on board became “call and order a hamburger or sandwich brought to your room.” Not an auspicious beginning. That said the debarkation was fairly smooth. Staterooms The staterooms were a pleasant surprise: spacious, quiet, clean and comfortable. We were able to move completely out of our suitcases and store them under the bed. The bathroom is large and well-appointed. Each room has a nice balcony. While we were quite happy with our third-deck forward cabin, we heard from other passengers that the handicap-accessible cabins and single cabins were very cramped. Passengers in the rear of the ship complained of loud engine noise. Staff Clearly, the top marks for the cruise go to the cabin stewards and food servers. They were unfailingly responsive and cheerful—no request was turned down. The lecturers were outstanding and the Cruise Directors very helpful, although they took the brunt of the deceptive practices on and off the ship. Food We enjoyed all the food. Breakfast was delicious with a fruit/pastry bar and order-from-the-menu hot items which included all sorts of meats, eggs, waffles, pancakes and daily specials. The coffee was good. Lunch and dinner offered 2-3 appetizers, 4 entrees and 3 desserts. Half portions and double entrees were cheerfully available (one table ordered double lobster tails all around). Some people complained about the lack of selection compared to larger cruise ships. I’m a bit choosy and I felt the food was well-prepared with rare beef (if ordered) and perfectly cooked seafood. By the way, a seafood and a vegetarian selection was available at every meal. The only flaw that I could find is that the seasoning leaned a bit toward the bland, due (I’m guessing) to the preferences of most of the older passenger list. Amenities Shipboard amenities were a mixed bag. On the positive, all excursions were included in the price, there were virtually unlimited, quality liquor, decent wine and decent beer. Free room service for any meal was offered and your laundry was done free of charge. On the negative, the few exercise machines are in poor repair and placed in a virtually unusable location. There is no shipboard store. Entertainment was limited to a good duo, but got old quickly with 50s night, 60s night, 70s/80s night… you get the picture. The TV didn’t work half of the time and Internet access, while free was slow enough to make checking email painful. Overall If you want to spend time on the ground in Cuba, this is not the cruise for you. Don’t believe anything you see in the cruise descriptions. One of the best parts of the trip was talking with people who had extensive cruise experiences and gathering intel for other cruise lines and destinations. Getting beyond the poor itinerary and limited excursions, the cruising experience was quite nice with a few glaring problems which makes the high cost a bit painful. My advice is look elsewhere. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise because it was to go to 5 Cuban ports and included 2 days in Havana. The cruise operation is a bit sloppy. Embarkation was a zoo including slow process for turning in passports and getting aboard at 7:00 PM. First were ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was to go to 5 Cuban ports and included 2 days in Havana. The cruise operation is a bit sloppy. Embarkation was a zoo including slow process for turning in passports and getting aboard at 7:00 PM. First were told there would be no dinner but food in lounges. Then last minute change to offer minimum dinner in dining room. The "hotel" aspect of the cruise was wonderful. Cabins were comfortable, cleaned quickly, staff VERY pleasant. Dining Room staff was extremely attentive to our group of 8. Food was excellent. Had several rough days at sea and room service staff was terrific! Shore excursion/Cruise Directors were not particularly helpful in port. There were many changes with very few efforts to communicate those changes ahead of time. We were only in Havana for about 8 hours because of bad weather and a change made by the Cuban government. Once again bad communication led to much frustration. The buses were extremely difficult for short people or those with any sort of disability to board because of a huge first step. Step-stools would be a good idea for staff to have available. We thought we might do a New England cruise on this ship but not after this experience. Read Less
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