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600 Cuba Cruise Reviews

I chose this cruise specifically to be on board the Veendam. We cruised Alaska last year on the Zaandam, which is a sister ship to the Veendam. We enjoyed it much more than our Mexico cruise the year before on a much larger Carnival ... Read More
I chose this cruise specifically to be on board the Veendam. We cruised Alaska last year on the Zaandam, which is a sister ship to the Veendam. We enjoyed it much more than our Mexico cruise the year before on a much larger Carnival ship. There was nothing wrong with the Carnival cruise but it was very much a party ship compared to the last time we had cruised on Carnival about 12 years before. The Zaandam was our first HAL cruise and we very much enjoyed the more sedate attitude of the cruise. No obnoxious drunks or poorly supervised kids. The Veendam was great and I would absolutely cruise aboard her again. We had our 13 year old daughter aboard and it was her first experience with the teen program on the ship, and being over Easter there was a large number of kids on board (160). She made a couple of friends and enjoyed herself, but I think she is still young enough she would have liked the more structured atmosphere in the 9-12 age group but she wasn't allowed to go there anymore. It would be nice if HAL allowed an overlap between the age groups. Being 13 is very different from being 16-17, and she would have had more fun hanging out with 11 & 12 year olds. Not a big deal...in a year or two she will much prefer the teen Loft. I originally booked an inside cabin but eventually upgraded to a balcony vista suite. It was quite roomy and we very much enjoyed having a balcony. I know next time we cruise without a balcony we will miss it. We are from a small town so we are always impressed with the dining options on cruise ships. Everything was delicious, and the proportions were adequate without feeling like I was stuffed after every meal. Embarkation was the fastest we have experienced. Less than 45 minutes total. We had two sea days and we enjoyed the activities offered. Entertainment was not as good as on the Zaandam. Some of it was targeting an audience a couple decades older than us, but the singing and dancing was good. Sound could have been better. We played tennis for on board exercise. Plenty of time service opportunities on the Veendam. Service was excellent, although occasionally a little slow in the dining room. We had open seating so I think sometimes it was slow depending on which wait team we were seated with. We won this cruise so we only paid for the upgrade to a vista suite. Obviously great value for our money, but before we embarked I saw that inside cabins were down to $469pp so for 7 nights that's a great value. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Azamara offers the best itinerary to Cuba with three full days in Havana, one in Cienfuegos and a night and day in Santiago de Cuba. For a first visit, I felt that I learned quite a bit about this island nation. It has been eight ... Read More
Azamara offers the best itinerary to Cuba with three full days in Havana, one in Cienfuegos and a night and day in Santiago de Cuba. For a first visit, I felt that I learned quite a bit about this island nation. It has been eight years since I last cruised Azamara and I quickly remembered why I loved the two previous cruises: the ship's size, the wonderful crew and well-travelled passengers. Food was good in all venues (I did not eat in Aqualina nor Prime C). Bottled water is always available and provided when exiting at each port; the included drinks (wine and spirits) were of sufficient quality for me although the base beer selection was not good. If you are allergic to feathers and/or down (pillows and comforters), you can have your reservation flagged to have the bed linens replaced with hypoallergenic polyester. The cabin steward/assistant steward both advised me that they had changed out the feather/down bedding when I entered the cabin. I was very grateful. The bedding was very comfortable and I slept well. This was a wonderful cruise, although quite expensive as a solo traveler. Enjoyed the Tropicana and Club Parisian nightclub shows, as well as, cruising around in the classic cars....all this was touristy but great fun. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My friend and I were looking for a quick trip to Havana, Cuba and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) offered just that with Norwegian Sky. We left Miami on Monday, spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday in Havana, made a quick stop at Stirrup Cay ... Read More
My friend and I were looking for a quick trip to Havana, Cuba and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) offered just that with Norwegian Sky. We left Miami on Monday, spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday in Havana, made a quick stop at Stirrup Cay (although it was cancelled due to weather), then returned to Miami early Friday morning. I had been on other cruises with Holland America and Royal Caribbean and thought they were great. Having never heard of NCL, we didn't know what to expect. What a wonderful surprise! First, let me commend the captain of the ship (we sailed March 26-30, 2018) of the Norwegian Sky for running a truly top notch ship. The attention to cleanliness and keeping everyone safe was a noticeable priority. On top of that, the staff was truly pleasant and accommodating even though they have probably made this trip a million times. Their happiness and contentment with their work were palpable, and we were made to feel so welcome. Even though my friend and I had one of the cheapest rooms on the ship (an inside cabin with two single bed and no window cabin 7115), we didn't feel like we were lacking in any comforts. The bed was super cozy and we got a fan for white noise and air circulation. It was perfect. We only ate at the places that were included in the price and the food was delicious, especially at the Palace restaurant. The on board entertainment was adequate and upbeat since the cruise director "Philly Joel" did a great job running the shows. My friend and I also liked the fact that we were offered water as we disembarked and embarked along with a cool wash cloth to refresh ourselves. Finally, the drinks were included in the price, which was unbelievable!! I would not hesitate to cruise with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My boyfriend was gloating about the cruise line and the unlimited drinks that was offered. So I decided to surprise him for his 50th Birthday with the cruise. The cruise staff was very polite and very helpful. The food was to die for and ... Read More
My boyfriend was gloating about the cruise line and the unlimited drinks that was offered. So I decided to surprise him for his 50th Birthday with the cruise. The cruise staff was very polite and very helpful. The food was to die for and the entertainment was also great. Every excursion that I chose for us to do was awesome, such as: The Tropicana Cabaret and the Old/New Havana highlights. They are highly recommended, just purchase them in advance to avoid any issues. If you are catching a late flight upon your return, purchase the Hop on/off Bus ride excursion. Your luggage will be stored while you are exploring Miami. Cruises are always a delight, but if you want your monies worth....you would not regret booking with this cruise line. My boyfriend is still talking about the trip, we look forward to cruising more with Norwegian cruise line in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was my 6th cruise and the first one on the Norwegian cruise line. This was my first cruise that I did not get sick. Was very impressed with the smooth cruise from Miami to Havana Cuba. I had a very nice outside cabin. The ship was ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise and the first one on the Norwegian cruise line. This was my first cruise that I did not get sick. Was very impressed with the smooth cruise from Miami to Havana Cuba. I had a very nice outside cabin. The ship was very clean thanks to the very good work of the ships clean up crew.. The food was very good and this is the first cruise that I've been on where the drink were free. Very good treat. I was a bit surprised that the mini bar drinks were not free. Oh well! I was a little disappointed that this cuise was unable to go into the Bahamas because of the 6 foot plus high waves. However, my girl friend and I really enjoyed the cuise and we have already recommended this cuise line to friends and relatives. We have rated this cruise, excellent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this trip because we wanted to visit Cuba. The boat was older but nicely renovated. Showers were small and we missed the touchscreens that show the Compass that we often utilize on other RC cruises. That being said, I kind of ... Read More
We chose this trip because we wanted to visit Cuba. The boat was older but nicely renovated. Showers were small and we missed the touchscreens that show the Compass that we often utilize on other RC cruises. That being said, I kind of liked the smaller ship. It never felt crowded but there were always people around. No trouble finding a spot to read by the pool! We were in Havana on an overnight stop on our cruise. We chose FerTours based on the fantastic reviews and we were not disappointed! Fernando was a great help in answering all my questions leading up to our trip. We had not been to Cuba before and wanted to make sure all of our documents were in order so we would have no unexpected problems. We preferred to work with a local rather than just booking an excursion through our ship. Alex was a wonderful guide. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the country. He helped us to create a personalized tour that worked perfectly for our family. We were not sure what we wanted to see or do but he led the way and when we wanted to learn more or take a break he was very gracious and had wonderful suggestions for food and refreshments. We spent the entire day and much of the evening with Alex as our guide. We were impressed with the charm and beauty of the city and with the people that we met along the way. Keep in mind that many of the streets are cobblestone -wear comfortable shoes. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I was born in Cuba and had not been back in 51 years. My husband and I loved the entire experience. The Pearl Mist ship was clean, comfortable, offered plentiful and excellent food; the cruise staff was professional, helpful, lovely, fun ... Read More
I was born in Cuba and had not been back in 51 years. My husband and I loved the entire experience. The Pearl Mist ship was clean, comfortable, offered plentiful and excellent food; the cruise staff was professional, helpful, lovely, fun as was the entire crew. The itinerary took us to Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and La Habana. When in Santiago (my hometown) I visited many places of my youth and was able to visit the family who now lives in our previous home. Santiago was incredible fun - the music was just great! Trinidad and Cienfuegos are gorgeous cities. Due to logistics, we were only in Havana one day - a good intense day where we got to visit several major sights. The shore excursions were varied: some hiking (Cienfuegos El Nicho - great), El Cobre Chapel (marvelous), various music venues (steel band, great salsa music and dancing, a chamber music concert) and a theater improvisation outing with great musicians. The Cuban people were so kind, welcoming, interested in who we were, accommodating. The Pearl Mist guests in this trip were absolutely lovely - there was open sitting for all the meals and we got to meet many guests who had so much to share. The ship entertainment band was so much fun and the (2) lecturers were very knowledgeable about the Cuban experience and history. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I chose this cruise because it offered four port visits: Santiago, Casilda/Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana, plus an opportunity to view Cuba’s beautiful mountainous seacoast. Each port visit included organized city tours followed by ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it offered four port visits: Santiago, Casilda/Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana, plus an opportunity to view Cuba’s beautiful mountainous seacoast. Each port visit included organized city tours followed by free time to visit museums, churches, art galleries or other activities of one’s choice. Time at sea included lectures and orientation meetings prior to each port visit. The advantage of a small ship is that we could dock at each port, rather than waiting for tenders, and larger ships cannot get into Casilda at all. In addition to cultural visits to concerts, nightclubs and historical sites, the trip offered longer field trips, such as a visit to a beautiful mountain park (think crystal blue waterfalls) near Cienfuegos and an all-day Havana tour. All of the cities have historic renovated downtown areas. Each has its own combination of historic buildings, churches, museums and galleries. Cienfuegos, for example, has a lot of French influence. The people are very friendly and welcoming, sometimes too much so, and one has to learn to pick and choose. Trinidad and Havana were crowded with tourists from other countries. But be sure to see the real Cuba—there are no Starbucks or McDonalds here and there is a great need for international investment. I cannot say enough good things about the staff. Everyone was very professional and helpful. At the outset of the cruise, I mentioned that I hoped to photograph offshore lighthouses which I had marked on a map. My map was shortly returned with the date and time we would pass each one! You could not get that kind of attention on a large ship! And staff were extremely helpful when I needed to find a special art gallery in Trinidad (thank you Ralph!) and negotiate a custom taxi arrangement. One tradeoff is that, while we were blessed with perfect weather, a smaller ship will move around a lot more if the seas are rough. Not a problem this time. The cabin was delightful with its own balcony and the food was excellent and plentiful. I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone interested in a wonderful cultural experience who is willing to forgo the climbing walls, super slides and crowded pools. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
A perfect cruise. We were in suite 018 - right opposite the Navigation Lounge. Medwin, the concierge, was very attentive, as were our cabin stewards. The food in the dining room was very good. After Key West, our next stop was ... Read More
A perfect cruise. We were in suite 018 - right opposite the Navigation Lounge. Medwin, the concierge, was very attentive, as were our cabin stewards. The food in the dining room was very good. After Key West, our next stop was Cozumel. Take a taxi from the ship - $13 one way - to Playa Uvas. $15 entrance fee which includes chair, snorkeling, ride in a boat and a free drink. It's a bit rocky entering the water but easy enough - I'm 71. I got a Blue Hawaiian. I'd advise not to have anything but bottled water to drink in Cozumel. That night I started to feel a little lightheaded and when I woke up the next morning - a sea day - I had a horrid headache with constant vomiting. The ship's doctor and nurses were excellent and determined quickly that I didn't have a virus. I had an IV for fluids, pain medication and anti-nausea medication. 3 hours later I was fine. The bill was $344 but my travel insurance will pay the claim. Later we met 3 other women who had a drink at Cozumel and were sick with chills and fever for 3 days - they missed Havana. In Havana we chose not to sign up with any of the ship tours. Instead we booked our driver and guide with www.oldcourtours.com. We met our driver and guide about 500 feet from where the ship docked and spent 6 hours touring Havana. Amazing. In an old convertible. We saw so much of Havana and stopped for lunch at an excellent place that the driver knew. I think it cost us about 240 CUC - the Cuban money you have to use in Cuba. Easy to change money before you exit the ship. I ran out of CUC and tipped the driver and the guide in dollars - you can do this and even use any currency in a private transaction but do change money for the CUC.. Havana is hopping at night with bars and restaurants open and music playing - right by the ship. Cuba is very safe - no police, no soldiers and no guns. Castro took them all away in 1966. The next day we stopped in Cienfuegos, Cuba. This time we did take a tour from the ship. We went to a garden and then lunch in a beautiful hotel outside by the pool which is right by the sea. Then a bit of time in Cienfuegos proper - we were lucky to see a music rehearsal in the theater in town and some free time. Bathrooms in Cuba probably won't have toilet paper so bring your own. We went tubing in Jamaica - a tour from the ship. The night before we arrived in Jamaica we all got a letter saying how dangerous Montego Bay was and we almost cancelled. Glad we didn't. We just didn't bring our phones and we had the best time. There are many opportunities where pictures are taken and you can purchase them at the end. Very relaxing tubing down the river. And very safe. In Grand Cayman there's a 7 mile beach. We got off the ship and piled into a big taxi and for $5/person we got to the beach. No admission fee but you do have to pay for a chair. There was a restaurant for lunch and plenty of water and snacks to buy from stands as well as home cooked rice and beans. The ship listed this tour as "difficult" - not the case. A lot of easy walking. I wonder what an "easy" tour is. I'm not a shopper - my friends are so I can't comment too much on shopping. The ship was supposed to dock at Ft. Lauderdale at 7:00 a.m. Due to high winds, it didn't dock until 9:40 a.m. My flight was at noon so while we were waiting I changed my flight to 2:30 for peace of mind. The $75 change fee will also be paid by my travel insurance but if you don't have travel insurance, Holland America will pay a change fee if the ship docks late. The trainer in the gym was not the best. He didn't seem happy to be there. The morning stretch class which is supposed to be half an hour was only 20 minutes; the same for the ab class. And one morning at ab class, he just lectured us about what kinds of food to eat and we didn't get to do any ab exercises. Dinner at the Pinnacle was excellent. The movies were current and shown at multiple times. The shows were fun. The ship is quite old and you have to watch some movies on a DVD. Our concierge got us the movies we wanted but I don't know how else to get them. But the ship is small so there are less people. Remember - the average age on a Holland America cruise is 104 so the ship is very peaceful with no loud music and no loud drunks. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This small ship cruise focused strictly on Exploring Cuba as a destination, although in the summer the ship does a Great Lakes cruise. The ship holds about 200 people and was %90 filled. We visited 4 ports during the cruise. There were ... Read More
This small ship cruise focused strictly on Exploring Cuba as a destination, although in the summer the ship does a Great Lakes cruise. The ship holds about 200 people and was %90 filled. We visited 4 ports during the cruise. There were 2 or 3 different excursions in each port (included in the price) so you can tailor your experience to your desired activity level or length you want to be off the ship. Most of the excursions had plenty of walking around on your own time as we were in port for about 1-1/2 to 2 days in each port. The cabins are clean, well maintained and more spacious than in the larger ships. There are destination experts along to give talks during afternoons at sea, and a couple small bands (2 persons each) so there's something playing in 2 of the lounges in the evening. WIFI is included, and the service, while not extremely fast, was acceptable. Happy hour before dinner is included, that includes open bar and ordourves. Because of the small size embarkation and dissembarkation went fairly quickly. While the base price is higher than on the larger cruise ships the amenities included (i.e. bar bill and excursions) make up for most of it. You get to know the concierges very well, and they go on the excursions so are very knowledgeable about the area as well. The food was excellent and varied. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My 2 adult daughters and I chose this cruise for it's destination to Havana Cuba, and the 6 night length worked out with their work and school schedules. We are experienced cruisers and have been on other cruises with different ... Read More
My 2 adult daughters and I chose this cruise for it's destination to Havana Cuba, and the 6 night length worked out with their work and school schedules. We are experienced cruisers and have been on other cruises with different lines. We embraced the idea of going on a smaller ship, and were pleasantly surprised to discover how welcoming and passionate all the staff members were to our needs. The food was delicious in the main dining room, and our waiters were so friendly and attentive to our nightly preferences. The Empress is a lovely, older ship with a warm inviting aura that made us feel at home instantly. We had an ocean view room on the 4th deck, Port side that was kept very clean and tidy.....even with three females who love their shoes and dress for dinner nightly! The nightly entertainment was great and we did not miss a show. Hugo, our tour director was a blast! We planned four excursions with Royal, and every day was so enjoyable! We danced with a dolphin in Nassau, parasailed in Key West, and had the day of a lifetime in extraordinary Havana, CUBA! We did the 7 hour tour with a wonderful lunch included. The Cuban people are so welcoming to USA tourists, and we loved every minute of our visit. Each trip was well organized and we learned so much! In Miami after disembarking we got to visit the Everglades and saw two alligators sunning themselves. This way, we were able to be transported to the airport for our late evening flights to CO and AZ. To summarize, I would like to say that a choice to cruise on the Empress is a desirable one. She is a well maintained, HAPPY ship! You won't regret it, you will have FUN!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This cruise caught our attention because it was going to Cuba and the Bahamas, somewhere we had never been. The price was excellent and fit our budget. The ship was the right size for us, giving us excellent personal attention. Everything ... Read More
This cruise caught our attention because it was going to Cuba and the Bahamas, somewhere we had never been. The price was excellent and fit our budget. The ship was the right size for us, giving us excellent personal attention. Everything was at our fingertips. Our cabin gave us everything we wanted and was kept clean. The food service was fantastic and our waiters were wonderful. They were friendly and did everything they could to please us. The 2 fellows were so polite. In fact, they became personal friends. The service on the ship was top of the line and everyone was anxious to help. We loved the shore excursions and they exceeded our expectations. The shows at night were very good. We've been married 57 years and my husband said it was the best vacation he had ever had. There is nothing I would change about this cruise. dardonn1 Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I choose this cruise because of the destination which included Havana Cuba, it was such a nice 6 day experience , because of the small size of the ship , we end up making so many friends ,. The service was second to none , The food was ... Read More
I choose this cruise because of the destination which included Havana Cuba, it was such a nice 6 day experience , because of the small size of the ship , we end up making so many friends ,. The service was second to none , The food was great and the entertainment was good. We have done the Oasis last year and taught that this ship with its size would be a disappointment , but surprisingly enough this was among the cruises we enjoy the most, we did the walking excursion tour in Havanaand were lucky to have as our tour guide Luis Alfonso a graduate of the university of Havana very fluent in English with a good knowledge of the city’s history It was a 4hour walking tour including old Havan Anna bus tour to a cigar factory ,with a short history and demonstration of how to enjoy a good cigar. Speaking with the guest who did other tours , this is a good tour if your guide speaks good English Havana is rich in culture and tradition and quite safe to an extend. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
CUBA VOYAGE MARCH 2018 Azamara is our favorite cruise line having sailed on the sister ships Quest in Asia and now in Cuba, and the Journey in Central America. These ships carry less than 700 passengers affording access to ports that ... Read More
CUBA VOYAGE MARCH 2018 Azamara is our favorite cruise line having sailed on the sister ships Quest in Asia and now in Cuba, and the Journey in Central America. These ships carry less than 700 passengers affording access to ports that larger ships are unable to enter. Hispaniola, with a population of about 14 million split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Cuba with a population of about 12 million, are the two largest islands in the Caribbean. There were 1 million Tiano Indians when Columbus landed but have since succumbed to disease. The Spanish and later the French imported African slaves to the region. Days 1 & 2 – at sea unwinding and enjoying the amenities of the ship and meeting fellow passengers at our Cruise Critic welcome party. Day 3 – Labadee – the scenic cove on the north coast of Haiti is owned by Royal Caribbean. We were here almost 30 years ago when it was quite primitive. Today there are many Disney-like attractions but we chose to spend a quiet day at Nellie’s beach our preferred sandy beach in the cove. The beach on the ocean side is too rough for swimming. Nellie operated a trading post for buccaneers at this location. The watchtower still stands. Day 4 – Santiago de Cuba , the first capital of Cuba with a population of about ½ million, is located on the southeast coast not too far from the US naval base at Guantanamo. The day started with a visit to Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. This is a national cemetery with the graves of Cuban notables such as Jose Marti – an influential literary figure and revolutionary philosopher in Latin America. Fidel Castro’s grave is also located here along with monuments to the revolution. We then drove into the countryside to the basilica El Cobre which is the most important shrine for Cubans and is considered the most important church in the country. This area was noted for copper mining until mining ceased in 1998 before the price of copper rose drastically. We visited the Casa de Diego Velazquez – the home of the first governor of Cuba built in the early 1500’s. Solidly built, it contains furnishings from the different periods of life in the city. We also visited a cultural center that was formerly a Lasallian school where the poor did not pay any tuition. The director gave us a private tour of the facility including the rooms with ancient and modern artifacts from around the world. In the evening, we had an “AzAmazing Evening” when on each cruise the ship provides a special feature on land for all of the guests who wish to attend. The evening with various types of Cuban music was held at the Teatro Heredia constructed during the city’s refurbishment in the 1980’s. Day 5 – Sea Day – another sea day to enjoy the breezes on the Caribbean Sea. Day 6 – Cienfuegos – population of about 175,000 is a port located midway on the southern coast was our departure point to visit the colonial city of Trinidad (population about 75,000) which is a UNESCO World Heritage site about 90 minutes up in the hills. Sugar cane and tobacco are important crops in this region. The center of the city is well preserved from colonial times. Cobblestone streets were laid out from ship ballast originating in the Mississippi river. We had lunch at a five-star hotel that we did not expect to find in the hinterlands. In the evening we enjoyed Azamara’s “White Night” on deck. There are no formal nights on Azamara but almost everyone tends to wear white for these festivities with the ship’s officers and crew. Day 7 – another delightful sea day provided a break to rest up from the shore activities. Days 8 – 9 – 10 - Havana (population over 2 million) is on the north coast of the island about 90 miles from Key West. We were impressed with the city. Although much more restoration needs to be completed, the city is changing quite rapidly. Many construction cranes are visible with new hotel construction. The people were friendly and welcoming and, with the heavy tourist police presence, we felt safer than in most large cities elsewhere. The city spread from Habana Vieja (old Havana), a UNESCO World Heritage site with its protected harbor and colonial Spanish architecture to the Habana Centro (city center) and the western areas of Vedado and the more exclusive Miramar and Marianao. The mansions in these exclusive areas have been taken over for government offices and embassies. Day 8 We rode in a classic American 1950’s convertible during the evening, passing the Capitol, Revolution Square and Central Park areas and then along the Malecon seawall boulevard, then through a tunnel under the harbor to Fort San Carlos de la Cabana for the famous 9 p.m. cannon shot ceremony. 
 On the way back to the ship we stopped at the five-star Hotel Nacional. This famous hotel has greeted many guests over the years including Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Rita Hayworth. Although the hotel fell into some neglect during the early years of the revolution, it was reopened to tourism in the early 1990s and now houses the Café Taberna surpassed only by the Tropicana. Day 9 We visited Finca Vigia, once the “look out house” of Ernest Hemingway during his days of fishing and carousing in Cuba. The house was left to the Cuban government by his last wife Mary. We were able to view the house and writing tower in its condition at Hemingway’s death. He wrote much of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea” while here. We also saw his fishing boat – the Pinar. We went to the artful neighborhood of Fusterlandia containing the unique sculptures. Artist Jose Fuster created tile sculptures around his studio. He then got his neighbors interested and the area now looks like some version of Gaudi’s works in Barcelona. We stopped at the important historical Colon cemetery noted for its elaborately sculptured white marble monuments and over 500 mausoleums. On the way back to the ship, we visited the Museum of the Revolution, once the presidential palace of the dictator Battista, that now depicts the days of the 1950’s revolution. The yacht Granma which took the Castro brothers, Che Guevara and others from exile in Mexico to begin the revolution is on display along with a US plane shot down during the Bay of Pigs fiasco. We spent the evening at the open-air Tropicana set in lush gardens featuring an elaborate nightlife spectacle with over 200 showgirls. The Tropicana started in 1939 when Havana was an international playground for the jet set. Mobsters including Meyer Lansky and the Trafficante family ran the show and casino in those days. Seeing the show was a unique experience back to the glory days of Havana before the revolution. Day 10 Before a late afternoon departure for Miami, we did a walking tour of old Havana visiting the four main squares as well as La Bodeguita del Medio – the famous bar where Hemingway and other luminaries frequented and where the Mojito cocktail was allegedly born. The buildings in the four main squares have been completely reconstructed after falling into some disrepair after the revolution. The side streets are coming alive with many reconstructed buildings housing restaurants, shops and museums. The income generated by this touristic area is reinvested into more renovation in the rest of Old Havana. Day 11 – morning arrival in Miami After a leisurely departure from the ship after most of the passengers left for the airports, we were back in Fort Lauderdale in about an hour. More Impressions Cuba is changing little by little. Many have a second side job to advance their status. There is now a list of 201 occupations where Cubans can be employed without working for the government. This has created some imbalance where those in the private sector such as tour guides and bartenders can make more in tips than doctors who still work for the state although state salaries have been increasing. There are no homeless - everyone gets free health care and food rations. Since 2008 when Raul Castro allowed Cubans to have cellphones, they now have access to worldwide news sources. Raul is planning to step down in April when a new leader will take charge. There is some question regarding who this will actually be. It is ironic that Castro initially wanted to have relations with the US but was spurned. The nationalization of US corporation property spurred a CIA plot to overthrow the regime. This led Cuba into the hands of the USSR and US military support of the mercenary exiles Bay of Pigs invasion and the subsequent Cuban missile crisis. Although Obama tried to improve relations with Cuba, the Republican congress and Trump have stymied normalization of relations primarily due to the political clout of reactionary exiles in Miami. There is worldwide condemnation of the embargo which is only hurting the Cuban people as well as US interests. There are now about 400 joint ventures with companies around the world. Meanwhile, China is now becoming Cuba’s main trading partner and is supplying the goods to increase tourism. All of the new first-class tour busses we saw in each city were made of the Chinese firm Yutong. New rental cars sport the names of Chinese companies such as Geely (that took over Volvo). I believe that Cuba will again become the pearl of the Caribbean with or without US support. It is well worth a visit and is only 90 miles from our shores. Credits Recommended tour agencies: Santiago de Cuba – Shago Tours. Luis designed a customized tour for us. Our guide Fabio was excellent and gave us a warm welcome to the country. Cienfuegos Trinidad - Used ship's tour in case of any transportation issues since Trinidad is 90 minutes from the port. Havana- Fertours2havana – Fernando worked with us to develop a 3 day tour. Our guide Cristina escorted us on the first and second days and arranged the route to maximize the time at each location. Yanelis provided interesting perspectives on each of the locations we visited during the walking tour on the last day. Ellen Friedrich - our port lecturer on the cruise helped to inspire a greater appreciation of the sights. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We like to tease ourselves with a cruise in February or March to escape the cold weather in Missouri, so we booked this cruise last spring. After reading some of the reviews over the past 9 months I was a little concerned about the ship ... Read More
We like to tease ourselves with a cruise in February or March to escape the cold weather in Missouri, so we booked this cruise last spring. After reading some of the reviews over the past 9 months I was a little concerned about the ship but that was all unfounded. The Veendam is a wonderful ship and I actually enjoyed it a little more that some of Holland America's larger ships as I didn't have to walk so far. The food on the ship was very good and the cabin was also good. We started off with 2 sea days but then we were in port at St. Thomas, St. Barts, St. Lucia, St. Johns (Antigua) and St. Croix all in a row. Then another sea day and HMC along with the Nieuw Amsterdam. With a second ship at HMC, it was little crowded, but we tendered ashore for a couple of hours and then went back to the ship. The personal on the ship were fantastic. I wouldn't hesitate to sail on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was our first cruise on a European based cruise line as opposed to North American. We were attracted to the all inclusive and air travel options as well as the opportunity to visit Havana which was cut short by Cuban Harbour ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a European based cruise line as opposed to North American. We were attracted to the all inclusive and air travel options as well as the opportunity to visit Havana which was cut short by Cuban Harbour authorites due to lack of dock space which increased our stay in Cozumel. After our arrival in Montego Bay which was a bit of a nightmare and confusion clearing customs and a bus trip through mass traffic jams we arrived at the cruise terminal which is in dire need of an upgrade.Basiclly a very spartan wharehouse. Our ship which used to be the well loved RCL Legend of the Seas is in great shape and all facilities are in top condition. Dining options were many and the food .while not exceptional was satisfactory in the main dining rooms which we used every evening' the tables are arranged in such manner so you can enjoy conversation with fellow diners who were predominately British and delightful conversationalists. The production shows in the show lounge included the best overall vocalists we ever enjoyed on any cruise so far. The all inclusive bar package was great and we were well taken care of in the Atrium bar by the personality plus Maria . Our day in Havana was mostly taken up by utilizing the hop on hop off double decker bus which takes you all over the city, The city is obviously in need of an upgrade which is underway but has a long way to go, Enjoyed the Caymans,very nice and friendly too. All in all would not hesitate to travel with Marella again Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Chose this cruise for the destination and I was not disappointed! We were treated to the Southern cities of Santiago, Trinidad and Cienfuegos before ever getting to Havana. Had an excellent opportunity to meet with the people and mingle in ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the destination and I was not disappointed! We were treated to the Southern cities of Santiago, Trinidad and Cienfuegos before ever getting to Havana. Had an excellent opportunity to meet with the people and mingle in their lives and cultures before that much more known big city. Our lecturers, Richard and Sylvia, provided much insight prior to shore excursions and food for thought. Service was fantastic! Celeste in the dining room met our every need, usually without our asking! Food was good .Cabin excellent and well cared for by Rene! Only hassle at disembarkation was one person at Customs-what a line! Shore excursions seemed well chosen thought I think we were rushed thru some and missed others; could have been the bus we were on with a lot of needy folks! I would take this cruise again and it is my second with Pearl Seas. Tried for the Inaugural on the Chesapeake Bay but it's booked. Will try again! Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because it went to Cuba and we were interested in visiting the island. We took three ship tours: Havana, Tropical Nightclub and Cienfuegos. All were good and gave us a nice overview of the cities and an idea of the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Cuba and we were interested in visiting the island. We took three ship tours: Havana, Tropical Nightclub and Cienfuegos. All were good and gave us a nice overview of the cities and an idea of the way the Cubans live. Apparently, the tours are required to fulfill the "People to People" criteria set forth by our government in order to visit the island. The cruise lines make a lot of money on these tours! The ship was clean, service was good and food and entertainment were up to par with what we would expect. Everything was well organized. The two ship production shows we saw, put on by the singers and dancers, was excellent; as was the concert pianist who also sang, danced, etc. We would recommend this trip to anyone interested in seeing Cuba and the peoples' way of life. Especially noteworthy is the large 50's cars used for taxis. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
It was our first Oceania cruise and it will not be the last ! The Sirena is a small intimate elegant ship and it was a very different cruise from Miami to Lima. The ports were interesting but what made this cruise different from the 20 + ... Read More
It was our first Oceania cruise and it will not be the last ! The Sirena is a small intimate elegant ship and it was a very different cruise from Miami to Lima. The ports were interesting but what made this cruise different from the 20 + other cruises was the ship. It was small but never boring and the cruise director, Dottie, was a pro. Because of the smaller amount of passangers,600, you never wait anywhere, there is always room by the pool, at the show , at the dining room. No crowds ever which is a nice change. However the shows are not as spectacular and the pool is very small. The grand dining room is outstanding, the food and the service were unbelievable, the specialty restaurant Red Ginger is outstanding and full of nice surprises, however the other one, Tuscan Steak fails miserably both with food and service.... The free shuttle to town could improve as well, not enough and does not always go to the right area, I guess they want to push their expensive excursions. The décor is a bit old fashioned but very tasteful, brings us back to an era that promoted elegance. We also appreciated the inclusion of soft drinks, specialty coffees and specialty restaurants, all things taken into account it was not much more expensive than the big ships. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We selected this cruise because we wanted to travel to Cuba and was told this cruise line offered an amazing experience. We embarked in Montego Bay, Jamaica and thoroughly enjoyed this 7 day cruise. Participating in the Cuba Cruise ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we wanted to travel to Cuba and was told this cruise line offered an amazing experience. We embarked in Montego Bay, Jamaica and thoroughly enjoyed this 7 day cruise. Participating in the Cuba Cruise People to People program was great. The history and cultural information that was presented was factual and comprehensive as well as entertaining. Each Port of Call offered something different yet, provided more of the Cuban culture. . The program did an excellent job addressing the Afro-Cuban influence and culture which is an important part of Cuba's history. . Dr. Arocha, the Destination Expert was very knowledgeable of the Cuban history and culture, and was a great teacher/presenter in all of his presentations. Each of the tours were well planned, and our tour guides were great, too. The daily shows performed by " Cirque Fantastic Concept" were all very well done and quite entertaining, and Danny the Cruise Director, was The Best!!! I must also compliment the chefs, dining staff, bar staff, cabin stewards and of course, musicians. All of them were excellent. Overall, this was an awesome experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise to Cuba because all ports of call were on the beautiful island. There were a few hiccups on the cruise but the positives certainly outweighed the negatives. Embarkation was a breeze. Luggage was brought to the cabin ... Read More
We chose this cruise to Cuba because all ports of call were on the beautiful island. There were a few hiccups on the cruise but the positives certainly outweighed the negatives. Embarkation was a breeze. Luggage was brought to the cabin immediately.. Cabin was large with comfortable bed, chairs and writing desk. Along with balcony to sit and watch the world go by. A+++ We thought the food was very good. Really enjoyed being able to order lunch and dinner in the morning and 1/2 orders were a plus for us and more than enough. Cocktails before dinner was very enjoyable...good drinks, appetizers and entertainment was a nice way to start the evening...A+++ Tours: buses appeared new and well maintained....you have your choice of 1/2 day and full day tours...we enjoyed all except one stop in Havana...our bus did not stop in front of the restaurant that was chosen for lunch..(we did find out, later, that the other buses stopped right in front of their lunch spots.). Our group had a long walk to our lunch spot and it was a challenging walk for some guests. This walk caused us to run late and the “CARS “ that were reserved for our drive drive around Havana had left!! The two cruise director that were with us did arrange for “CARS” to drive us back to the ship...Approximately a 10-15 minute drive instead of the hour drive through the streets of Havana we were promised...I would make sure if you have any mobility issues and do not want to encounter this problem ask about your lunch spot...all other tours were great and well managed...Do not miss the Tropicana...what a show...Havana tour D- Tropicana A+++++. Other tours A WI-FI was lost after a few days and never fixed. Never sure what happened. Wait Staff and Cabin Stewards were excellent...they all seemed truly interested in making sure you were enjoying your cruise and if there was anything they could do to help...A+++ Entertainment and Lectures also quite good. A Disembarkation: many passengers were scheduled to fly out right after arriving in port. The head cruise director did not help these passengers. Many who those who were first off the ship were under no time crunch...her job should be to make sure that those passengers that are on a time crunch should be first to disembark..this situation should be handled much more efficiently..Also, told by same director there would be ample taxis waiting for passengers to transport to the two airports...That was not the case. Lots of confusion as to were the taxis were and when they would be arriving...much better organization needed..also, no porters to help with luggage but passengers were great helping those who were having difficulties...but should not the head cruise director help out? D—— So there were some hiccups but with all that said would not have missed this trip and the chance to see Cuba and meet the wonderful, Cuban people... Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Size matters and it was perfect for comingling and slipping into small ports for up close and personal activities. The cruise line left nothing on the table...everything was top notch. Service, excursions, food on & off the ship, fun ... Read More
Size matters and it was perfect for comingling and slipping into small ports for up close and personal activities. The cruise line left nothing on the table...everything was top notch. Service, excursions, food on & off the ship, fun activities, amazing buses & informed YOUNG guides. Learned a ton... saw amazing scenery...and loved the Cuban people!! PEARL MIST gave the upmost attention to the fact we were there as "ambassadors"....so our educational VISA provided up with a trip of a lifetime cultural experiences. Food in private homes, music (many forms), historical sites, children and varied communities...old and current history along with easy statements of hope for the future. One more thought....the service was more than exceptional...from happy hour appetizers, perfectly made cocktails ( p.s.. o ly thought beer/wine was included...had no idea everything was available, anytime. Fun....especially since no expectations. OOPS, the secret is out...will check out other cruises by this line in a heartbeat!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We were initially booked on the Eurodam for our annual New Year's cruise but my husband was scheduled for a medical procedure at the same time. So, I searched for a cruise to replace the New Year's cruise. We have wanted to see ... Read More
We were initially booked on the Eurodam for our annual New Year's cruise but my husband was scheduled for a medical procedure at the same time. So, I searched for a cruise to replace the New Year's cruise. We have wanted to see Cuba and I noted that the Veendam had a February 7th sailing. HAL allowed me to transfer the cruise without penalty (we are 3 Star Mariners and we booked the New Year's cruise only days before). I initially booked a Lanai verandah guarantee but hoped that either a Verandah or Vista Suite would be offered at a discount. Sure enough, about 3-weeks prior to sailing, I received a great offer on a Vista Suite for only $300 per person and I snatched it up immediately. Embarkation was fairly easy. We arrived to the port around 12:15 p.m. and there were a lot of passengers in line. HAL collected the Cuba Visa applications from everyone prior to getting into line to check in. We then proceeded to check-in. All in all, we were through the check-in process in less than :30 minutes and our room was ready. We went to the MDR for lunch to avoid the crowds at the Lido buffet. Regarding meals, we pre-booked at the Pinnacle for every dinner. We love the Pinnacle and enjoy the fine dininig options and great service there. The Veendam did not disappoint. We had fabulous meals there with great service and the Cellar Master, Neil, and our wine steward, Jason were always accommodating. Regarding the ship itself, the Veendam is the smallest HAL ship that we sailed but we like it very much. The main decks with the things that we needed were all from the 7th - 11th floors and our cabin 156 was on Deck 9 so we simply used the stairs for everything with no need to wait for elevator service. I loved that convenience. The ship is in decent shape. I do like the larger HAL ships and the décor on the newer ships is more attractive, but this ship was very comfortable and clean. Also, our Vista Suite was very comfortable and quiet. Our room stewards did an amazing job and left us some of the best towel animals I've ever seen on a cruise. The ports were great ones. Havana was a "Must See". We took an 8-hour land tour throughout both Old and New Havana and it was fascinating. I must say that Cuba's infrastructure has not been touched since 1959 and it shows, but it was also evident that Havana it its heyday must have been fabulous. With that being said, the buildings looked like they were in complete disrepair and paint must not be available. Roads have potholes galore. It was easy and fast to get through the streets of Havana because there aren't many cars there so we were able to see almost all of it. The classic cars there are used as private taxis. Some of them are in incredible shape and it's a large part of the culture. The restaurants are actually in people's homes. We had a meal at one in Havana and the food was very good. Our guide also brought us to a good cigar store so that the guys were able to purchase their Cuban cigars. You are allowed 100 cigars per person per U.S. Customs laws now. You are able to change American money to Cuba "CUCs" right at the terminal when you get off of the ship. It was quick and easy. You also can change the money back in the terminal before you re-board if you wish. Cienguegos is located on the southern central part of the island and it has much natural beauty. It's truly a shame that the country is so poor because this part of Cuba could be a stunning resort area with proper development. The bay in Cienfuegos is beautiful as is the countryside. It was a lovely port to visit. We've been to Montego Bay and Grand Cayman many times in the past and love those two ports. We climbed Dunn River Falls in Ocho Rios and we went on a great private boat tour of Stingray City, snorkeling and a small beach with many starfish in Grand Cayman. All were fun and the weather was great throughout our cruise. I would recommend both the Veendam and the Cuban itinerary to travelers. This was truly a memorable vacation for us and we met a couple who became great friends of ours that we plan on traveling with again soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We decided on this cruise because it visited two ports in Cuba. We have previously sailed on Holland America and have been pleased. The Veendam, though an older vessel, was well kept and we had a marvelous time. We were upgraded, with ... Read More
We decided on this cruise because it visited two ports in Cuba. We have previously sailed on Holland America and have been pleased. The Veendam, though an older vessel, was well kept and we had a marvelous time. We were upgraded, with an additional payment, to a verandah room, and thoroughly enjoyed the balcony views. The excursions were well managed, the food in the main dining room was very good and all the employees were very helpful and friendly. There was absolutely nothing to complain about. During our port stop in Jamaica, we wanted to have a beach experience, which HAL did not offer, so we booked on Resortforaday.com and went to the all inclusive Hilton Rose Hall Resort and had a great time. There was plenty of on board activities to keep us busy. They had two cooking shows on the days at sea, and the musical/dancing reviews were excellent. One of the best troupes we have seen on board ships. I did not care much for the magician and the Pianist was entertaining. We did have to tender for two of the ports, which I do not like, but not much you can do about that issue. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We were incredibly impressed on the quality of our cruise aboard Le Ponant. The ship had been built as a luxury yacht vs. a cruise ship. The cabins had just recently been updated and service was fantastic. However, the best part of our ... Read More
We were incredibly impressed on the quality of our cruise aboard Le Ponant. The ship had been built as a luxury yacht vs. a cruise ship. The cabins had just recently been updated and service was fantastic. However, the best part of our cruise was by far the food! The food was a 5 course meal for almost every meal! There was a full time French pasty chef, which means it was extremely hard to come home. We were waited on constantly. I can't say thank you enough to our spectacular captain and crew! The crew to passenger ration for us was about 1:1 which meant that we had a fantastic relationship with all crew members. All evening events were extremely well thought out and the ship was prepared for everything. One day at sea we had 8-10ft swells however due to the ships sailing hull design, the ride was extremely comfortable as sailing ships have very little roll. Another fantastic attribute about Le Ponant is that its a massive sailing yacht. During one of our day's at sea, we were able to relax under her massive sails and enjoy the tropical sun without any engine power. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018

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