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1,943 Cuba Cruise Reviews

Took this cruise to go to Cuba as part of the People2People program. The boat is very small compared to other cruise ships I've experienced. Not good for children...the empty the pool everyday...during deck activities (very ... Read More
Took this cruise to go to Cuba as part of the People2People program. The boat is very small compared to other cruise ships I've experienced. Not good for children...the empty the pool everyday...during deck activities (very intrusive and disruptive) The food was just nourishment..though the Exec Chef Charles and Dwayne at the carving station were friendly and listened to our complaints...but overall the food wasn't great. You won't gain any weight on this cruise. Unlike most cruises, food IS NOT available all day...food is only available during meal periods..and ice cream on the deck is an extra expense(not part of the package)...how bizarre. Room service is not included either...you would think it would be since food isn't available all day...but nope! MARTHA is the life of the ship...she's a ball of energy and she develops a relationship with the guests. Everyone knew her name and had good things to say about her. She was fun and well liked by our group. MATHELYS the lady that handles the karaoke was liked until....she advertised that the winner of karaoke would win a cruise..but when the person with the highest score asked about the prize..she gave them a coupon for a free drink...which was useless because the person had the alcohol package already. She shouldn't advertise a prize she can't offer. The excursions we participated in were great not sure if they were organized by the ship or People2People..the only issue was our guide in Havana, Johnnie, he's too busy talking about the celebrities he's met rather than sharing information about Havana...we got more information about landmarks from the horse carriage driver we took than our tour guide Johnnie. THE TROPICANA EXCURSION WAS A DISASTER. We booked with the ship not P2P..we paid $149 but received the 75CUC ($75) offer once we got there...we had to sit in a very undesirable seat and they refused to move us without us paying extra. We had to turn our heads to see the show and after about 20 minutes our necks hurt and we stopped watching. Very disappointing experience...We were told that dinner would be provided...no way...and the 1/4 rum does not mean a bottle per person so don't expect a personal bottle..the bottle is to be shared with the other 4 people at the table Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I read various cruise reviews and sometimes wonder how perceptions can be so different. Having made 250+ cruises over the past 50 years, and now in retirement spending 6 mo a year "at sea", I wonder how other passengers can get ... Read More
I read various cruise reviews and sometimes wonder how perceptions can be so different. Having made 250+ cruises over the past 50 years, and now in retirement spending 6 mo a year "at sea", I wonder how other passengers can get so upset about very little things and let them affect their entire perspective of the trip. Celelstyal Crystal is one of three older ships in the Celestyal fleet, a brand name of Louis Cruise Line, a long time provider of short Mediterrean cruises. In the winter they now operate this ship to/fm Cuba under a sub agency, Your Cuba Cruises, based in Canada, which provides a People to People option, thus allowing Americans to participate without violating current US restrictions. The ship was actually built in 1980 as a Baltic Sea Ferry for Viking Line, was rebuilt in 1992 as a full cruise ship which has been marketed since then under many lines and names, including as the Leeward for NCL some years ago. Today it is a 'modern" small (25,000 ton) ship holding for these cruises about 800 pax. Note that only "small" cruise ships can enter Santiago and Cienfuegos Cuba due to their narrow harbors. Complying with special requirements for Americans is easy, and well explained on the Your Cuba Cruise website. Membership in an approved "People to People" program is required, membership easily accomplished in return for a $95 "charitable donation", and a program of lectures aboard, along with excellent tours ashore with knowledgeable guides etc. is provided and required - although no one "took attendance". Americans sailing on main stream cruise lines do so mainly on ships that are marketed as the "destination", especially RCI, Carnival, NCL ships etc., with port calls etc. in the Caribbean almost an after thought This is not the case here. Here the sightseeing is paramount. For instance - If I go to "see" a city in the US or abroad, the sightseeing is primary, and my hotel is secondary. This is what a pax on this trip needs to keep in mind - the tour is paramount, the accommodations (hotel, or in this case the ship) secondary. I respectfully suggest that you keep that in mind when evaluating Celestyal Crystal. Aboard - the ship is modern, rooms adequately sized (but bathrooms are so small as to make RCI baths seem huge), food is better than RCI, not as good as Carnival, but meat is very poor quality. Menu is very "Cuban" flavored, and much of dining room staff are Cuban nationals. Laundry prices are 1/3 of US based ships, NO service charges are assessed. Fares for Americans are all inclusive - tours, lectures, full beverage package, all gratuities, Cuban Health Insurance, Visa fees etc. all included. You never hear a "word" about leaving extra gratuities, nor constant appeals to "come and spend" as on US main stream ships. NOTE - much is made of the policy aboard of depositing NOTHING in the line of paper etc. in the toilets and a small garbage type can is provided for used toilet paper. The ship is old, and the vacuum toilet system doesn't seem to have much suction, thus leading to frequent clogs. Personally I found that by flushing "frequently" as I did my "business" that the system worked fine, I never used the garbage can provided, and I had no toilet problems. Also in the European style found in non-American brand hotels abroad - no wash cloths are provided. If you want one, bring one. The ship was most hospitable in every way and on the last day those who had late flights were invited to return, use the ship facilities, have lunch etc. after going through Immigration and checking their luggage in the terminal Try that in Miami, Ft Lauderdale etc.!!! NOTE - that lecturers aboard, all from the University of Havana, as well as tour guides etc. always presented things with a very pro-Cuba slant, a very anti US slant. The same is true of evening "shows" etc. Philosophy seems to be that everything bad that has ever happened to Cuba, is the result of US interference. People are very welcoming to Americans and have great expectations about how their lives will improve when Americans are allowed free access to Cuba. Havana was "overrun" with tourists - German, French, Italian, Canadian etc. so they are well used to "tourists" and "tourist" prices are rising quickly as a result For example - a Cuban doctor is paid about 50 CUC's a month (roughly equivalent to US $50), but a short cyclo taxi ride in Havana is $5 for a tourist. It doesn't take long for the "locals" to "catch on"!!! I had a wonderful trip, and enjoyed everything aboard Crystal and ashore. Could I have found things to complain about, of course - for example poor quality meat in DR, but does a few small "quibbles" ruin a trip - of course not - look at the big picture. This trip was a wonderful opportunity to see Cuba "before" it all changes with unlimited American travel, which as it has in so many areas e.g. Caribbean islands, ruined the local experience and transformed the economy into one completely dependent on tourists, e.g. Bahamas, Jamaica etc. Such transformations are not, in my opinion, for the betterment of the "locals". Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This tiny ship could be a small jewel---it is not. A sunken ferry, ra1sed and refurbished, the very small state rooms remain with the single beds joined into one. With no guard rails nor T-bar [to fit between the two mattress] the ... Read More
This tiny ship could be a small jewel---it is not. A sunken ferry, ra1sed and refurbished, the very small state rooms remain with the single beds joined into one. With no guard rails nor T-bar [to fit between the two mattress] the mattress separate, especially in turbulence, leaving a 4-5inch gap, making spooning with your spouse impossible. The cruise is made semi-successful by a wonderful crew [the arrogant Captain who crashed us into the Havana dock excepted]. The international staff was attentive and can not be praised enough. The food quality was appalling. Out of approx 100 servings between my wife and myself, only 3 were palatable [the lamb shank, the pasta carbonara, and the roasted Canadian bacon]. Most meat was mystery meat of uncertain origin. Even the hamburgers were at least 40% soymeal in the best scenario, 40% sawdust in the worst. At every corner you were nickeled and dimed --even pizza cost extra. Drink packages were required, even if you don't drink; the wine was of the lowest Greek quality. As a final blow, at least 50% of the passengers were ill at disembarkation. It was apparently not Noro virus but caused many trips to the infirmary. For $203 dollars, you received a CBC, flu test, exam and placebo meds. What a deal!! The PTP excursions were led by enthusiastic and well-educated guides. Most started early [8:30 AM] but then actually began after an hour of waiting, often on hard concrete. The Cuban people we met were personable but could not hide the misery and poverty in which they live. The largest portion of Havana is slums with poor water and sewage systems; the other cities are similar. So we do not expect to return to Cuba. If we do, it certainly will not be on this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We booked this cruise in order to see Cuba - an economical and convenient to see 4 ports. The cities we visited were very interesting, especially Havana, and we were not disappointed in any way. The tours we booked from the ship were ... Read More
We booked this cruise in order to see Cuba - an economical and convenient to see 4 ports. The cities we visited were very interesting, especially Havana, and we were not disappointed in any way. The tours we booked from the ship were excellent, and allowed us to learn about the Cuban culture. Unfortunately, most of what we saw was in pretty bad shape, with buildings and roads crumbling and needing significant updating. The ship itself was what we expected: an older ship with no real character or amenities. The food was pretty bad, especially breakfast. Meals were served at specific times with nothing available in between the 3 daily servings. Most of the time the meals were overcooked and dry. The shows and lectures were surprisingly good. Some of the bars would close at 8 pm in the evening and tell you to go elsewhere if you wanted a drink. The the "all inclusive" drink package was odd: they would take your room card and leave, then bring you a drink sometimes up to 30 or 40 minutes later. A couple times we gave up and had to hunt down the waiter in order to get our room key back. Bartenders were not allowed to serve you a drink unless you found a waiter and gave them your room card. Very odd and inconvenient. Good service in our room which was very adequate. Overall, a great way to see Cuba; just do not expect much from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I just returned from a very educational cruise to Cuba. I had read previous reviews and was a little hesitant about Celestyal Crystal. I was pleasantly surprised. The ship is very clean and the staff are extremely friendly! The ... Read More
I just returned from a very educational cruise to Cuba. I had read previous reviews and was a little hesitant about Celestyal Crystal. I was pleasantly surprised. The ship is very clean and the staff are extremely friendly! The food was good, not gourmet, but very substantial. Our room (7222) was very nice with plenty of storage. Our room stewards were excellent. The "People to People" program was very good and we had some very interesting excursions. The Cuban people are very friendly and welcomed us Americans. I had read previously to take Canadian money, as it was the easiest to exchange. This was not true! Canadian money has a poor exchange rate in Cuba. Many places in Cuba gladly took American money. There is a surcharge to exchange US money for Cuban pesos, but it is worth it. However, US credit and debit cards cannot be used there. I would highly recommend this cruise. If you want to learn about the history of Cuba, this is the best way! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
My wife and I have been on more than 70 cruises and have lived/worked in or visited 108 countries around the world. We are Elite and Diamond Plus Members with several major ocean cruise lines. We have been on several river cruises and ... Read More
My wife and I have been on more than 70 cruises and have lived/worked in or visited 108 countries around the world. We are Elite and Diamond Plus Members with several major ocean cruise lines. We have been on several river cruises and land tours. Our recent voyage on the Celestyal Crystal was surprisingly pleasant. We were traveling with two other couples, and all agreed that the experience on the cruise ship was much better than expected. We thank the staff for their commitment and service. Cabin Accommodations: We had an deluxe outside cabin near mid-ship. Our cabin steward did an excellent job in cleaning the cabin. We experienced a problem with our air conditioning unit on arrival. The problem was addressed immediately. However, the resolution was not as we expected, and the engineers returned to make more adjustments, and the room was much more comfortable. While the cabin was a bit smaller, it was adequate to accommodate the eight-day cruise. The closet space was adequate, but the desk and bathroom were a bit small. Food / Service: The food served onboard was very nice. I prefer VERY spicy dishes that were not available, but there was always a selection that was acceptable. The selections were limited, but there was something that our small group of six found appealing and acceptable. We received EXCELLENT service at our dinner table from I Deket and at our morning buffet from Vinen. They were exceptional in managing our dining table and the buffet bar. Bar / Service: We had an unusual bar package that was arranged by our tour operator (Legendary Journeys). For a single fee, pre-paid before boarding, we were able to have unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (including coffee drinks) throughout the cruise. This option was a fantastic bargain for our small group of six: we had cappuccino and espresso in the morning, a beer in the afternoon and a few glasses of wine in the evening - a great bargain. All service personnel were excellent. However, two bar service personnel were outstanding: Alberto (Cuba) in the dining room was very responsive, and Maya (Ukraine) in the bar was especially friendly and efficient. If you meet them on board, I recommend you reach out to them for services. Internet: Both my wife and I signed up for 3-hours o internet connectivity at a price of $24 each. That was a great bargain for the 8-day cruise. I actually left 30 minutes unused on disembarkation. The speed was excellent, and I had little problem connecting to all my sources. The reception was very helpful in sharing instructions on how to sign-up for the service, log in and logout of the internet service. While I have 110Mb down at my home, the speed of the internet onboard was quite acceptable. Reception: I do not often comment on my interaction with the Reception / Purser Desk, but I have to say that Oana Rosu (Ukraine) was the most valuable staff member I met onboard the Celestyal Crystal. She was ALWAYS responsive to my inquires and accurate in guiding my actions. Oana’s commitment was quite obvious. It was her help that I will be most thankful and remember the Crystal Cruise Line. I think you will all the Reception Desk staff to be helpful, but Oana has a special commitment to helping passengers. Entertainment: There were many opportunities to stay for shows in the evening, and we did stay for several. Most often, we do not find the shows to be very interesting. However, the ship performers were committed to demonstrating some of the Cuban dance and song. They did a very fine job, and we enjoyed the shows we attended. Tours / Briefings: Our tours were arranged through the People-To-People Program. In most cases, we were very pleased with all tours and tour guides. It was the first opportunity to revisit some of the history from our young adult life. The tour guides in Santiago de Cuba, and Havana did a fantastic job reflecting on the history of the events of each location. The briefings we received from Jorge, a university professor were especially interesting and insightful. He was candid in speaking about the past and frank about the challenges of the future of the Cuban people. We truly enjoyed his presentations. Summary: Evaluate your expectation. If you want to see a Cuba that is emerging from the impact of a socialist economy - hurry, it is changing. If you want to see a Cuba of transition, wait another five years to arrange a visit. If you expect to see a fully restored relationship with America, wait ten years to visit Cuba after restoration is well underway. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Cuba badly needs American tourists in order to finance rebuilding of it's infrastructure, but in the short term this means that the first waves will struggle to find housing and food that meets expectations. You can pay a lot for the ... Read More
Cuba badly needs American tourists in order to finance rebuilding of it's infrastructure, but in the short term this means that the first waves will struggle to find housing and food that meets expectations. You can pay a lot for the few good hotels and search out the emerging private restaurants, but this requires effort. The easiest solution is to take this cruise around the island relying on it for the basics. Then in order to really experience the island you must be willing to add your own walking adventures to the bus tours offered by the cruise. And since the ship always docks in the oldest, most important parts of the cities, this is simple. Furthermore, Cubans are friendly, polite,and welcoming and we have never been in a country where we felt so safe. What we would most advise is to get out and absorb the distinctive cultural atmosphere and do what you can to learn about this society that does some things much better than we do. And when we refer to the basics, we mean very basic comforts travelling Americans are used to such as restrooms that are free. And restrooms that are equipped with toilet seats and paper. You may not find these even in costly hotels and must rely on the generosity of restaurants and bars to provide very basic facilities most often for a price. Once you encounter this reality it will make you more appreciative of the small bathroom in your cabin and the even smaller ones on the tour buses. As most every report on Cuban tourism advises, bring your own toilet paper and be prepared to lower expectations. But sense we knew these things in advance, we had less problems than we had feared. The People to People programs throughout the cruise provided excellent educational and cultural programs on the ship and on land. Two young and very interesting professors from the University of Havana provided a number of lectures on Cuban history and politics and musical groups from the island entertained each evening. Others provided Cuban cooking and dance lessons too. The Celestyal Crystal is a good ship to do this trip on. It's small and friendly and well maintained and due to it's size can get into all of the city ports around the island. We had read reviews saying it was old and needed to be retired, but that is not what we experienced. It was clean and appeared newly painted with some apparently new flooring as well. Some public areas appeared dated with 1980's era furnishings and decor, but they were comfortable and in good order. Our cabin on deck 5 was adequate with a large window and close access down the hall to the deck which in the back offered a great bar and viewing area. The staff was friendly and efficient and made an effort to please and be courteous. Some people stood out. Our head waiter, Mohammed, sincerely wanted to hear if we and others were being served well and the few times we had a complaint he patiently listened and asked questions. Most servers at the bars and in the two fine dining areas performed well, too ,and one stands out in our memory - Shane, He was always scanning to see who needed service or what needed to be done and when we complimented him toward the end of the trip he said sincerely that he loved doing his job. Impressive. And our two Cabin attendants kept ours clean throughout the day and were wonderfully warm and gracious. The one negative for this cruise was the food. We had read lots of reviews warning about the mediocre dining on board and concluded at the end, that they had been too complimentary. Breakfast at the buffet was the best and we could put together a satisfying meal each morning with lots of choices. The weakest link was the bread and this was true during all of the meals. Selection and quality were poor. Lunch entrees were often an artfully prepared mush of leftovers and by the last few days we learned to have a cheeseburger, which was always available, and a self crafted salad. Dinners were provided in elegant settings with good service, but they never satisfied. We cannot recall a single item in the five course meals throughout the trip that was very good. In particular, soups were always thin and lacking in taste and entrees often involved inferior meats and vegetables. The last entree we selected was the very worst. It was an eggplant dish that was so barely cooked and with such little flavor that one bite was all we needed. We filled up on the desert. And the deserts were always wonderful. But mediocre food is not the real story of this cruise. Bottom line - we came back sensing this was the trip of a lifetime. Who knows how Cuba will be transformed by changing relations with the U.S.. Now it offers quite a contrast and that contrast is enlightening, but as it gets transformed by us, it will be a more comfortable place to visit, but a less challenging and engaging one. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
The Adonia is the perfect size vessel (750 passengers) for this chance-of-a-lifetime experience to visit Cuba. Most were outside cabins. Dining was top notch. The new Glass House wine bar has a cruvinet and it's where I started my ... Read More
The Adonia is the perfect size vessel (750 passengers) for this chance-of-a-lifetime experience to visit Cuba. Most were outside cabins. Dining was top notch. The new Glass House wine bar has a cruvinet and it's where I started my evening before dinner. The officers and staff were helpful and informative. And because it was a small ship it was common to see the captain greeting passengers. I had lunch in Havana with a ship's navigator who happened to be on our tour. We really enjoyed the two full days in Havana. The destination itself was inspiring, and Fathom does everything it can to make the experience personal and memorable. When our group asked to spend more time shopping in Santiago, our Cuban guide called his supervisor and gladly made the arrangements for us to have some independent time. Guided bus tours are mixed with walking tours and musical performances that really help to paint a picture of the history and culture of a country that has been closed to the U.S, for half a century. Cuba is not designed for masses of tourists, but that's what made the trip special. The Adonia was the only cruise ship at each port making the sites more accessible. Shore excursions to family-run restaurants were a highlight. I was fortunate enough to be on the first cruise to Cuba. It's clear that the Cuban government is still working to accommodate cruise passengers. But if the warm and gracious Cuban people are any indication, I am confident that the experience will become more refined and better executed with each sailing. Ports of call: Two days in Havana, one in Cienfuegos and one in Santiago de Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Considering the amount of money we paid for this cruise, it was disappointing at best. The line to embark was incredibly long and it took over an hour to get through it, all the while listening to extremely loud island music played by a ... Read More
Considering the amount of money we paid for this cruise, it was disappointing at best. The line to embark was incredibly long and it took over an hour to get through it, all the while listening to extremely loud island music played by a band. We had to shout to be heard! We booked a cabin near the center of the ship, only to be told that it wasn't available and they "upgraded" us to a cabin at the front of the ship. There were pros and cons to this. Sometimes I suffer from seasickness, so if the seas were choppy I would have have been too sick to enjoy anything. Luckily, seas were calm and so was my stomach. Unfortunately, the balcony had no roof (unlike the ones on the sides of the ship) so when it rained, we couldn't enjoy being outside. This was disappointing, especially since it rained a few days. Dining was so-so. The first night, my husband ordered lobster tails and what came was about the size of crayfish. We hoped this was an aberration, but it wasn't. The food in general was nothing to write home about. (The servers were wonderful, though!) Entertainment was sorely lacking. There was no casino (which we knew before boarding) and there were no Broadway-type shows. Evening entertainment consisted of cheesy game shows and karaoke. They did have a day-time session where we could brush up on our Spanish and another session that gave an overview of Cuba; both of these were one-hour sessions that should have been longer. The shore excursions need some tweaking. When departing each day, passengers were told to board any bus. This turned out to be a disaster! My husband and I are fairly young and quite mobile; I can't say the same about many of our bus-mates. We heard many complaints about the Old Havana walking tour. And on the second day in Havana, many people on our bus wanted to return to the ship after lunch (because they were tired) instead of visiting Ernest Hemingway's house outside of the city. That was one place that I really wanted to see. Instead, we were taken to a shopping area, which was what the old people wanted to do. (It's amazing how they perked right up when someone asked to go there!) The day before disembarkation, we were told to go online to get details about going through Customs the next day. This is unacceptable for at least two reasons: What about those passengers who didn't buy an Internet package? And, why should those who did buy time have to use it to obtain information that should be available on paper? Suggestions: - Better entertainment choices. - Aggregate tour groups based on physical ability. (A simple survey before boarding should work.) - Use cabin televisions to provide detailed information about each of the ports of call. - Allow for more time on land. We spent a total of three days on land, and four at sea. While all of these things may make it sound like we had a horrible time, we actually made the best of the situation. The Cuban people were wonderful -- welcoming and truly interested in talking to us. The guides were informative and very much willing to answer our questions. The food at the paladars was plentiful and delicious. In retrospect, we consider this cruise gave us a "taste" of Cuba. If we were to do it over again, I think we'd look for a people-to-people tour that provided us with more time in Cuba where we could really talk to the people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
When we booked in August, 2015, we knew this cruise would be an historic event, but didn’t imagine there would be such media focus on the first cruise ship to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in 50 years. We were pleasantly – and at time not ... Read More
When we booked in August, 2015, we knew this cruise would be an historic event, but didn’t imagine there would be such media focus on the first cruise ship to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in 50 years. We were pleasantly – and at time not so pleasantly – surprised to encounter all the media buzz. I’d love to go back, but next time it'll be on my own. The rest of the world has free reign to travel to Cuba, and it'll start to get easier for the U.S. There are very good tour companies within the country, and it's only a 45-minute plane trip from Miami (~ $450 round trip). ON-GROUND ACTIVITIES The Fathom on-ground activities will be in flux for a time, as they begin with cultural immersion and continue to grow their offerings and opportunities in Cuba. We had some terrific experiences, and some that were less than ideal. Fathom seems to be listening, which is great, though they haven’t talked to me, so I'll list a few things here: Loves: Walking tour of Old Havana, eating at an in-home paladar, speaking with Cuban citizens while walking the streets, our Cuban guides from the tour company, the community centers we visited, the history, the architecture, the street food, the old car taxis, bicitaxis and "coconuts", the craft market in Havana, viewing the ration stores and pharmacies. Not so great: • Revolution Square in Havana - we were given 20 minutes of precious time to view a parking lot. So frustrating. • Visiting two cemeteries: There are only so many people-to-people interaction possibilities here. The cemetery in Cienfuego was the better one, as there was a guide who gave explanations of who was buried there along with some history. There's also a changing-of-the-guard ceremony there, but ours was cancelled due to rain. • Too much time on the bus, and being unable to see all that was pointed out. I’d much prefer to take a hoho (hop on/hop off) bus on my own, and I did see these available in Havana. • Eating in a paladar was a plus as well as a minus. Fathom literature has these described in two different ways: as a family-run restaurant, and as an in-home, family-run restaurant. The owner of one we ate in actually told us it was a restaurant for tourists. I can't imagine a Havana citizen being able to eat here, and I understand it’s about the ability of Cuban citizens to start their own businesses, but these felt especially pretentious. Some cruisers ate at different one, where the family grew their own food and shared it with neighbors, and the business was also frequented by the locals. THAT'S the business I'd like to be supporting. • Being shepherded around in groups, with little or no opportunity to explore (i.e. 20 minutes at a time), or being told we can't leave the group. • Not having most of the experiences that were described in the daily ship newsletter, Soundings. The interactions didn't happen in most cases. Perhaps Fathom should explain that either a.) it's up to you to initiate a conversation, or b.) train their guides to facilitate these discussions. Here are two examples that didn't materialize: o "Enjoy a coffee in Plaza Vieja while a local cafe owner will explain the role of tourism in Old Havana, or see how coffee beans are roasted" o "a private performance" and "an opportunity afterwards to hear directly from the musicians about their lives, training and their roles as music professors at area schools". The performance was great, but there was no follow-up opportunity. THE FATHOM SHIP EXPERIENCE For $8000, I expected the ship experience to be top-notch. We were disappointed. My expectation was based not only on the price, but that fact that Carnival is one of the leaders in the industry with 10 brands under their belt. In practice, in often appeared this line had no cruise experience at all. • Lack of Information: Information was non-existent or late. This was a frustration for months before sailing and continued to frustrate while aboard. • Shore Excursions: Shore excursions were only available the first night. There was no information ahead of time for those who self-booked. Travel agents had been informed, but it you booked on your own you were left out. The information was hidden at the back of a small “Programming Guide” booklet in the cabin. “Shore Excursions” were not listed in the index. Only 3 were available, for the first night only ($199 pp for Tropicana Cabaret, $129 pp for Parisien Cabaret, or $59 pp to hear a cannon blow at a fortress). Hint: Look these up beforehand and take a taxi. • Lack of Water: With temperatures in the 90's, we should have received of a bottle of water getting off the ship when heading on a walking tour. We could have brought a bottle of water from the cabin (4 bottles were left in the cabins at a cost of $3.95 each), but didn't know to do that (or refused to purchase it). Fathom has pushed this off on the tour company and said it would be rectified immediately, but I believe they have an obligation here. There was also no water handed out upon returning to the ship. We were dying of heat and thirst. Some people took taxis back to the ship rather than continue the walking tour the first day. We abandoned our tour group later the next day in search of something to drink. • Choices: There were very few, and I see no reason why some choices couldn’t have been incorporated. For daytime activities you were assigned a group and went wherever that group was headed. There was NO opportunity to customize your experience. (For example, many wanted to tour a cigar factory, or a rum factory, and many wanted more opportunity to shop at local markets. Some of us aren’t comfortable talking to dead people.) I wanted more time to discover on my own. Some guides wouldn't "allow" you to leave the group. I was so glad we didn't have to hold hands! • Organization: It just wasn't there. Each day you’d receive a group number and a time. When your group was called, you’d go get a sticker with a new group number and board your bus. We went as Group #1 was beckoned each day because we like to be out early. It didn’t matter one bit. • Ship activities: There is no casino, which I knew from the start. There were no theatrical shows. There were 3 dance classes (2 Salsa classes the first night, 1 Bachata class on day 4). I wish these had been daily. A Wine & Paint night was cancelled and never rescheduled because there were very important people on board who took precedence (the media, travel agents, and cruise line VIPs and their friends). A cocktail class seemed popular, and the Spanish phrases class was a very good one to attend. A camera class was unfortunately titled “Visual Storytelling”, but it’s a very useful class. There were also various enrichment classes that may be of interest to some, but which I found odd (The Story of You, Curiosity Advantage). • Speaking of VIPs: Yes, this was an important first, but paying passengers should not have played second fiddle to the media, the travel agents, or the friends and family of cruise ship employees. • Specialty Restaurant: There is only one, the Ocean Grill. I was told they were booked solid the first day but it was possible to put your name on their waiting list. I heard this on Day 3 and therefore didn’t make an attempt. • Spa: I called to make massage appointments for me and my husband but they had no availability other than for hair blow-outs. I was put on the waiting list but didn’t receive a call. I later heard they filled up the first day. • Customer Service: They have a long way to go and need to put some focus on this. • Cruiser Bonus: We were offered the chance to stay on board for the next cruise to the Dominican Republic for only $99. How I wanted to go! The offer was put outside our cabin doors "between midnight and 6 a.m". on Friday. We didn't receive it until we were leaving for the day's activity that morning, and it said it needed to be turned in by "tomorrow, May 6, at 6 p.m.", which was actually TODAY. I had to check with my employer first though. When we returned, I tried to reach my boss and her boss, but by 10 p.m. still hadn't received word back. I figured I'd better turn in the request anyway, because I just couldn't wait any more. Even though it was past the deadline, I asked them to PLEASE consider it and explained I was trying to get the time off. Nope! They denied it simply because it was late, they never sent it in, told me they called my room but they hadn't, and didn't troubleshoot when I tried following up the next morning. It was SO disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
First let me apologize for this being VERY long. With this being a new experience for US citizens there is so much information to give. For those of you that have a short attention span and don’t do well with reading a 2.5 page review, ... Read More
First let me apologize for this being VERY long. With this being a new experience for US citizens there is so much information to give. For those of you that have a short attention span and don’t do well with reading a 2.5 page review, I have categorized everything so you read what you are interested in. If you are looking to book on Fathom, just keep in mind that this is a new cruise line to a new location so there are things they still need to work on, Pre-Cruise Information The information on the cruise is lacking in comparison to other cruise lines. At the time I booked our cruise, the website did not provide details about cruise arrival or departure times. Once the cruise was booked, this information was provided but not upfront. I was emailed an affidavit to complete online prior to the cruise which confirms your reason for traveling to Cuba. I recommend selecting both the Fathom-Guided P2P option & 1 P2P Travel. This will allow you to participate in both Fathom’s P2P tour or you can do your own P2P tour. If you do not participate in Fathom’s P2P tour you must keep a record of your P2P interactions for 5 years. It took about three days before I was able to access my online documents and there was not much to it. It asks for your information and that is it. It shows there are evening options to choose from in Havana but it did not give the option to book anything. In addition, there is no information about dining dress code (which is come as you are), if there are beverage packages (there is not), and if beverages can be brought on board (one 750 ml bottle of wine per person & all the water you can carry). Embarkation When we arrived at the cruise terminal, there are people out front ready to assist with checking your luggage. There was not much of a security line and it went very quick. Once we left security we were asked to complete the affidavit. I advised we completed it online but I was told this had to be printed. So we had to complete two affidavits each (one for Fathom and one for us). I’m not sure what the point of doing it online was if we still had to complete a paper one. Once we completed the affidavit, we got in line to check in. The line was rather short and and moved quickly. We provided our information to the agent and they set up our onboard account and provided us with our room keys. We were also advised that rooms would not be available until 2:00. Boarding the boat was a little confusing. We did not have a boarding group and from what we could tell, they were just calling groups of people to board. It was pretty unorganized. Common Areas This is an older ship that has been refurbished. There were several common areas on board and each was tastefully decorated and comfortable. The Glass House was probably one of my favorite common areas located on deck 10 that had amazing views. It is primarily a wine and champagne bar but they serve any drink you want. The ship also offers a spa, health center, coffee bar, and library. Rooms I had an opportunity to tour all room categories offered. The inside, ocean view, and balcony rooms are all very similar. The biggest difference is the view. The rooms can be set up with two single beds or combined for one larger bed. The inside and balcony room had a small sofa and the ocean view I toured only had a chair. The bathroom in these rooms are small but that is expected on a cruise. If you are looking for a room with more space and a normal sized bathroom, you might consider the suite. The suites have a significantly larger balcony, a half bath, living/dining area, separate bedroom, ample closet space, and a normal sized bathroom with jetted tub. For what it is worth, our cruise was mid-May and it was so hot that we never used our balcony and wish we would have opted for the ocean view. Beverages Beverage packages are not offered on board but the drinks were reasonably priced. For a mojito or pina colada you can expect to pay $8.50 a drink, Caribbean beer $5.50, Vodka starts at $5.50 for Skyy, and rum starting at $6.95 for Bacardi. You can bring one 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne per person on board. To save on corkage fee I would recommend brining a wine opener and just open the bottle in your room and pour your own glass. You are also allowed to bring as much water as you can carry. We brought two cases of water on board and used a luggage cart. Food There are four areas on board you can eat. The Lido Café is located outside and serves things like Cuban sandwiches. The Pacific Restaurant is the main dining room. The service is good but I was disappointed when the menu offered a lot of the same thing offered at the buffet. Ocean Grill is another dining option but has a cover charge. We never ate at the Ocean Grill but another couple said it was not worth the extra cost. The Conservatory Buffett is where we primarily ate for the variety of food. For breakfast they have a waffle and omelet station, cereal bar, pastries, and a variety of hot items. Lunch and dinner would occasionally have a Cuban dish but a lot of the food was curry based. Overall I felt the quality of the food was just ok and wished they would have more Cuban options. I only recall seeing black beans and rice once and it was mostly rice with a couple of black beans. I would have also liked to see completely different items in the main dining room from the buffet. On Board Activities There are several on board activities throughout the day. The first night on board we attended a seminar on what to expect in Cuba which gave information I felt they should provide on their website. Throughout the cruise they had seminars that allow people to share their stories from Cuba. There were also seminars for things like posture and Chinese medicine but both seminars were nothing but sales pitches to sell Good Feet and the Chinese Herbs. They did a pool side lunch cookout a couple of times with live music that was enjoyable. They would also have live music through the afternoon and evening. While we were in Cuba, they would bring local bands on board which I thought was fantastic. They also offer cocktail classes (cover charge), dance, meditation, yoga, pilates (cover charge) and cycling classes (cover charge). Cuba There are two different types of currency available in Cuba, CUC & CUP. The CUC is the tourist currency and is equivalent to $1 USD. You can only exchange money for the CUC in Cuba. When exchanging USD for CUC you can expect to loose 13% of your money. If you don’t use all of your CUC it will cost an additional 10% to exchange back to USD. I read that the first cruise was told to exchange USD to Euro on the ship and then Euro to CUC in Cuba to get the most value but this was not an option for us. Also the line to exchange currency when you first arrive in Cuba is extremely long. We did not join the Fathom tours in Havana so I don’t have any feedback on them. Instead we visited friends that live in Cuba and on the second day in Havana we opted for a private tour. I personally feel the private tour is the way to go as it can cater to what interest you and I think this is something Fathom should offer. I heard on the Fathom tours they had a variety of P2P options available but people could not pick which one interests them and did not know what they were getting until they were on the bus. With the private tour it allows you to see all the history in Havana and create your own P2P interaction. We used I Love Cuba Guided Photo Tours found on Trip Advisor and we were very pleased with the price and tour. Since you are in Havana overnight, you can either relax on the ship or Fathom gives you an option to purchase tickets to cabaret shows at either the Hotel Nacional or Tropicana. You also can choose to go in a private vintage car or motor coach. We did the Tropicana by private car but did not book this through Fathom. Instead we booked our tickets directly through the Tropicana website (US credit cards work). We choose the top package but decided against the dinner option since several reviews said the food was not great. The tickets for two cost $190 total and at the cruise terminal we booked a private vintage car round trip for $50. The Tropicana was absolutely amazing and our seats were right next to the stage. A couple things to note is that the Tropicana is outdoors and is a good 20-30 minute drive from the cruise terminal. In Cienfuegos and Santiago we participated in the Fathom tours. With both tours we drove around to see some of the sites but never really stopped for photos. In Cienfuegos the tour was supposed to include interaction to explain the ration system but we never got to do that. We heard that other groups did get to learn about this. Fathom had a choir performance lined up at an old theatre and the choir put on an outstanding performance. In addition, the theatre was beautiful, but be aware that there was no AC like most places in Cuba. The visit to Cienfuegos was very short (about 4 hours) and it would have been nice to spend more time here. Santiago was nestled up in a bay in a mountainous region. Our tours first stop was to a cemetery where we got to see a changing of the guard. From there we drove by a few other sites and then headed to a fortress overlooking the bay. We were provided lunch at a restaurant by the fortress that had amazing coastal views. After lunch we headed back to Santiago and we ended up catching a cab back to the cruise ship. We were told that the tour participated in a cabaret before returning to the ship. Overall the Fathom tours were ok. I felt they tried to fit too much into a short time with such large groups. If you had a private tour, all of this would be more doable plus you would probably have more P2P interaction. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was chosen because it WENT TO CUBA!!!! fathom Travel is NEW - really really new. The concepts that are the backbone of fathom are NEW - and the leadership at fathom is re-inventing cruising as we know it - this structure of this ... Read More
This was chosen because it WENT TO CUBA!!!! fathom Travel is NEW - really really new. The concepts that are the backbone of fathom are NEW - and the leadership at fathom is re-inventing cruising as we know it - this structure of this cruise has questioned the “rules” of cruising. In the words of Vishen Lakhiani, fathom is not operating under the established BRULES of cruising - they are not blindly following the idea that a cruise “MUST” do, be, provide, .... Because “that’s the way things are.” It is a refreshing change in an industry saturated with standard 7-day cruise to an island paradise. WE (Wife, Lynn and I, Rob) were some of the first people to partake of the fathom Experience. We sailed on the THIRD cruise to the Dominican Republic, May 8-15, followed immediately by the SECOND cruise to Cuba, May 15-22. As one would expect, new and first mean wrinkles and issues. fathom is up-front and honest about this - another FIRST in the cruise industry. They let us ALL know they are a NEW line with a NEW concept, and are a Work in Progress. Despite this..... we overhead MANY petty complaints (I did not know there could be issues with the hairdryer, sheets, salt versus pepper shakers, or the Tea Pot in your room. All in all, on our trip we had only TWO real "complaints". 1) Lack of easy, free, water on the shore excursions. Yea, we were told we could purchase it - but who wants to carry a gallon of water around... 2) Better sorting of people onto the buses (there was NONE). One bus should have had young, ACTIVE, walkers. Another people WITH walkers. Better yet, one should have spent more time shopping, while another spent more time in museums. There were close to 20 buses, so it IS possible to do even a LITTLE sorting based on BOTH what one wants to see and IF one is highly active, or not. This factor is the SOLE reason for very good, not excellent! This was our second week. We were B2B. They don't quite have this figured out. We had to change rooms, and it was really totally NOT necessary. For some reason we had to sit in the terminal building for 30-40 mins. We made it 90mins and took advantage of the free, high speed internet. The Adonia is a WONDERFUL ship. One of the R-Class, as many point out. A bit too "Goopy" for me, but fathom is working on this by adding NICE, new, fresh graphics. This is small cruising at its best. LOVE the new room number/signs - you get to write on a marker board things about yourself, including your name. Staff was top notch. Love the card systems where staff does NOT touch your card. Security was perfect - no backpack Nazis. While there is some grumbling over the price, it is important to note this is ALL INCLUSIVEish. Daily shore excursions are included. AND local lunch, with liquor was provided too!!! The food was the BEST!!! Nice range of ship activities. - DAILY Yoga - TWICE Daily Meditation - Movie Night ON DECK!!!! - Dance Class with Garcia and Laura (OK, two more names) - Domino Throwdown - Karaoke and Bandeoke - Giant Outdoor Games and some interesting ideas like: postcards to self and the photo booth. One of the most unique things is their initial sailaway with bottles in the pool, a map where you post your photo and location, writing on the glass windows. This was followed up at the end of the week with the Super Power Party. Library is well stocked with GREAT books (related to the cruise) and GAMES. Almost NO computers, and NO stupid computer classes. Two computers and a printer just in case... For entertainment we had the Craze Band. FANTASTIC. They assemble, and reassembly as duos, trios, and the main FUN rock band. AND, a first for me: Bandeoke - sing WITH a live band. WOW!! We also had local Cuban bands come on board and play both outside for sailaway, and inside in the evening. WONDERFUL, refreshing dress code - or lack of it. Casual atmosphere that fits the HOT climate. Even wore shorts in the Main Dining room most nights. To help schedule your time you can use the fathom app on your smart phone. I hope they make the daily paper something you pick-up rather than wasting paper when the app does such a great job. Select what you want to do, and get reminders, and a personal schedule. The week prior we found the crowd to be FAR more receptive to the ship-board programming. The seminars from Ashwoka and Curiosity Atlas did not appeal to this older (grumpier set in their way) crowd. That is too bad, as there is SO much that can be gained from participation. On ground / excursions..... Havana walking tour. Could not hear. We left the group after lunch. Because of no sorting we had to wait, and wait, and wait more for SLOW people. Happy they allowed us to just check-out. And, by doing this we got to climb, and ring, the bell in the tower of the church. Lunch was FANTASTIC!!! Ate many local treats along the way - NO issues. Sat and chatted in a bar with a local couple. And, as an Architect, visited two construction sites to see how things were being done. Havana day 2. Took the bus. Skipped the museum and walked the neighborhood. A GREAT decision. Ate at a paladaria YUMMY. Outside, and I think we got FOUR drinks. They took us to a LARGE shopping place - overpriced touristie. Fun, but we were either there too long or not long enough for everyone - AGAIN, sorting would have been nice. The cemetery was REALLY fantastic. We were the only two that wanted to walk. Thankfully they allowed us to walk and meet at the end. Cienfuegos. This was SOOO fun for the Architect. Much cleaner, nicer, not as dilapidated as Havana. NO need for the bus - NOW we know. Cute town square. Had a nice escorted walk thru a shopping area, and a visit into a ration store. We skipped the concert and went to Palacio Ferrer. $1cuc admission to an old MANSION on the square. Well worth the side trip. Some nice street side shopping here. For a fun thing to do: rent a horse taxi to drive you around. We want to come back here. Santiago de Cuba You MUST get up early and be ON DECK for the sail into the harbor. It is like NO OTHER we have ever done. A long drive between fort outposts, and down a fairly long channel to the harbor. Again, A bus ride to the square was not necessary, but who knew. 4 blocks. We again skipped the morning concert and EXPLORED. Had a $0.70cuc beer with a local who spoke excellent English. Learned A LOT. We did spend MOST of this day on the bus, as it went MANY places we could not walk to. Went into the countryside for a buffet lunch TONS of food and show girl entertainment. ANOTHER fantastic cemetery. We all walked this one. Much better shape, and, if you are lucky you will get to see the changing of the guard at Marti's Tomb. Video on my Youtube channel. We learned MANY of Cuba's early heros were Masons. The finale for the day was the fort we passed thru EARLY in the morning. It was HOT. The sail by was FAR better than being there. It is a nice fort, but after 10 years of forts..... Well it is VERY nice, and ranks with San Juan. In summary. We heard about Cuba LONG before the Dominican Republic. We had secured or spot on Cruise 2 (we did not “rank” cruise 1) during the Thanksgiving 2015 Holiday Weekend. We added the Dominican Republic about 6 weeks prior to our Cuba Cruise. In the end we were MOST touched by the Dominican Republic and Impact Activities. We look forward to more normalized relations with Cuba and a carry over of this to Cuba. For now, or recommendation is do BOTH!!! In the industry its called B2B, or Back-to-Back. It will be the best two weeks of your life. If you want to learn more you can check out my blog: Travel Like An Architect Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My mom is an avid cruiser, and has cruised all over the world. I've been on several cruises, mostly in the Caribbean, but I have not travelled nearly as extensively as my mom who is retired. Mom really wanted me to go on this ... Read More
My mom is an avid cruiser, and has cruised all over the world. I've been on several cruises, mostly in the Caribbean, but I have not travelled nearly as extensively as my mom who is retired. Mom really wanted me to go on this cruise to Cuba with her. My mom is a very social person. I'm a little more on the serious side. That being said, these are our thoughts on the cruise to Cuba. I loved it! The atmosphere on the ship was totally different from a traditional cruise ship. We had impact guides that lead our tours, and they all seemed deeply concerned about the Cuban people and wanted this to be a positive learning experience for all of us. The impact guides were apolitical as far as I could tell. They were not promoting one political philosophy or another. And they encouraged positive cultural exchanges. On the ship itself, the food was good enough. But there was not an over-the-top attitude towards food that I recall from my earlier cruises. While there were drinks, the waiters were not constantly pushing drinks. The cruise staff were all nice and polite. Many of the activities on board the ship were thoughtful and enjoyable. For example, there was a book club led by the impact guide. Unfortunately, none of us had heard about this beforehand, so we hadn't read the book. Nonetheless, we all came together to hear about the book, and to discuss our feelings about Cuba. It was very interesting. There were no bingo games, no shows at night -- but I didn't miss those things at all. There was a trivia game one night in one of the lounges which was fun. And one night, there was BANDAROKE. There was good live music in the evenings. And they showed a couple of movies outside by the pool. But all in all, it was a quiet ship. Very few people were at the movies. My mom also enjoyed the cruise as she wanted to be one of the first Americans to visit Cuba. She had a great time, but she did miss the shows at night. And she did not believe the food was up to par based on what we had paid for the cruise. I found the passengers on the cruise especially interesting. Many were older, and they all had wonderful stories about why they were interested in being on this cruise. One lady was coming not because she was interested in Cuba, but because she wanted to see all the old cars from the days of her youth. Regarding our ports: we overnighted in Havana. We skipped the walking tour and had a private taxi take us around on our first day. On our second day, we went on the cruise excursion via bus. Cuba is hot, and my only complaint that day was the long line inside the cruise terminal waiting for the busses to arrive. We were all so hot, dripping in sweat. They probably should not have had us depart the ship until the busses were there. Our bus tour was lovely, and we had a wonderful lunch in a restaurant called 1830 (because it was built in 1830). Apparently, it used to belong to one of the higher government officials. We had a great lunch. We did cut out of the tour a little early because it was so so so hot in the art market. In Cienfuegos, we only had a half day, and our bus tour kept us close to the port. It seems like we mostly walked around the downtown area. It was difficult to hear the tour guide on this one. In Santiago, we took another bus tour, and had a great day there seeing the Castle on the sea, as well as San Juan Hill, and a huge cemetery that had a changing of the guard ceremony. We also spent some time in the downtown area. We were supposed to go into only one store there, and shopping there was a terrible experience, and I don't recommend it. We waited so long for help. Finally we gave up and left without buying anything. The store just seemed like it wasn't able to handle so many people from the ship at once. But the cruise ship didn't want us shopping anywhere else. There were quite a few panhandlers at this port. Our lunch was so-so, buffet style at a tropicana style club. The live music was great but so loud that it was difficult to have conversation at the table. All in all, it was a wonderful cruise. The Cuban people seemed very welcoming. The tours and exchanges were great. The other passengers were interesting. And the ship atmosphere (for me anyway) was wonderful. There were a few things that could have been better but since this was only their second sailing to Cuba, I'll just hope that they improve on those things. I highly recommend this trip, and I'm glad my mom convinced me to go! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise because of the promise of a deep people-to-people experience to the island of Cuba. It was marketed as an opportunity to “travel deep". Our disappointment began when we had virtually no communication about the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the promise of a deep people-to-people experience to the island of Cuba. It was marketed as an opportunity to “travel deep". Our disappointment began when we had virtually no communication about the trip for months, the website for inputting information repeatedly lost our critical information, and phone representatives were uninformed. We were not provided what was promised in marketing materials. It was a classic "bait and switch" experience. We were told we would get but DID NOT GET a choice of what we saw and did, a Cuban film festival, Cuban food on board, lectures and information on Cuba, contact with Cuban people other than our tour guides, and a "walk in Hemingway's footsteps" (we didn't go to Cojimar at all!) Just one example: we were promised a "most memorable performance from the Choir of Cienfuegos...Following the performance discuss, among other topics, the life of a musician in Cuba, how each member came to be a part of this choir, the schooling it took to get to this point, and also their roles as music professors at area schools helping to keep the tradition of Cuban music alive." We saw the concert, applauded, and then were hurried in mass out of the theater, barely able to thank the performers while walking out. When my husband and I stopped to talk just a few minutes, we were left by our tour group! There were NO port lectures except one "management lecture" before Havana that explained that we would be assigned buses and would go where that bus went - no choice! Ship activities were similar to what one does with youth groups exploring their identity or volunteer groups needing to develop a sense of team. Neither are a top priority of the cruisers who paid to go on this cruise. These were largely accomplished adults with discretionary income who wanted to learn about Cuba. Activities were poorly attended. Travel deep perhaps means personal inner growth? Even if one agreed with that philosophy, these were poorly done. There were conversation tent cards on dining tables (always the same topic for 7 days "How has the internet changed your life?" "Experience guides" in blue shirts had an appalling lack of knowledge about Cuba and that surfaced in the book group discussion and questions asked on tours. The most annoying thing, however, was the explanation that they "didn't know they were going to Cuba until March"; we should be patient with them. Really? We had to pay our money in December! We knew we were going to Cuba! The big event on the last evening was a Super Hero Party. Dress to show your super power! And if you don't know what your super power is, they would help us. We didn't go. I don't know how many went. It just really summed up the disconnect with their guests. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The trip was categorized as people to people (P2P). The on-ground guided tours were a mix of site seeing via walking and bus hosted by Havana tours. Note: The streets may be very crowded. Surfaces include cobblestones, uneven ... Read More
The trip was categorized as people to people (P2P). The on-ground guided tours were a mix of site seeing via walking and bus hosted by Havana tours. Note: The streets may be very crowded. Surfaces include cobblestones, uneven pavement and marble (slick). There may be limited accessibility for those with mobility restrictions. With the heat and walking many travelers found it difficult to keep pace and opted to stay on the bus or return to the ship. Remaining from the first cruise and still Not so great: General: There was still NO opportunity to customize the experience. For daytime activities, you are navigated around in groups. We were told not to leave the group and had a person assigned to ensure we were all together. To facilitate P2P interactions, you could initiate conversations with the locals while on the walking tours. However, this was hard to do because you needed to stay with the group. Having the experiences that were described in the communications is the luck of the draw. Experiences were dependent on where your group is assigned to visit. One group ate at the same Palador as President Obama did in his visit, one group did arts and crafts with children, and another visited an illustration factory. Walking through multiple cemeteries remained a key activity. This would have been better as a bus ride. Note: the cemetery in Cienfuego has a changing-of-the-guard ceremony which does require walking to view. This was the first time for some of the tour guides thus the explanation of sites and knowledge shared between groups differed greatly. The private performance from the National Choir lasted for almost an hour in a non-air-conditioned theatre. The theatre was beautiful but the heat was smoldering causing people to sleep or get over heated. There was not a follow up opportunity for P2P interaction. Shopping: There was little time for shopping. The “best” shopping is in Havana but there is also availability in the other ports. In the places we were taken it was trinket shopping i.e. key chains, magnets, cigars, alcohol. At one site, there were 3 bus loads in the same store – it was Black Friday at Walmart. Changing money: There was a fee which equates to about 13% to exchange. Note: some vendors provided change in US dollars. Tips: Ship gratuities were included; however, tipping amounts were suggested and expected for the wait staff and musicians in Cuba. In lieu of tipping the musicians, you could purchase their CDs. Tipping was expected if the restroom is attended. At one restroom location, I only had $1 in various coins to tip with and the attendant refused the tip because it was coins. Others experienced the same refusal of coins. I never received an explanation of why. THE FATHOMM EXPERIENCE Like a review from the first cruise for the price paid, I also expected the ship experience to be top-notch but was very disappointed. It still appears that this line has limited cruise and hospitality experience. Communication: Examples - Final information was received on Thursday for a Sunday departure. The Journey planner did not allow login to view or print information on the Saturday prior to departure. The same paper work that had been completed online had to be filled out again during check in. There was no signage at check-in so the process of what to do where was unclear. Shore Excursions: Still only 3 were available and for the first night only ($199 pp for Tropicana Cabaret – this is outside, $129 pp for Parisian Cabaret, or $59 pp to hear a cannon blow at a fortress). Food: The food on ship and at the paladors (independent restaurants that provided lunch) I visited was fair. Note: take stomach meds with you even off the ship. Fathom listened to at least one suggestion and provided bottle water on tours and in the paladors. On board bottled water is $3.95. Check if you can bring bottled water aboard. Ship activities: There were a couple of movies on deck, dance classes and some classes/activities. Some activities were product selling events. Customer Service: There is still a very long way to go. There was obvious special treatment to certain passengers such as the travel agents and their friends over the full pay passengers. Internet: The cost is expensive for what is received and service spotty. Cruiser Bonus: We were offered the chance to book again to Cuba at a reduced price while on board. A better choice would have been to allow 30 days after the end of sailing to take advantage of this opportunity. There are numerous opportunities to provide feedback while on ship. It was a better than a comedy show to hear people complain about everything from the size of the glasses to food to bathrooms. However, the most interesting comment came from a 12 year old who stated her observation of people actually talked to each other and not consumed in electronics devices. It's clear that the Cuban government is still working to accommodate cruise passengers and that this is a work in progress for both the cruise line and Cubans. The most touching gestures were the waves of welcome and good bye received at each port. There looked to be an entire elementary class which stood at the school and waved goodbye. Take some time to speak with Cuban citizens, take a ride in the old car taxis, bici-taxis and "coco taxis". Your experience depends on you. Have an open mind and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cuba was great; Adonia was pretty good; Fathom was disappointing. If your goal is a real cultural immersion in Cuba, find a people-to-people on-land tour. If your goal is a quality cruise experience with an experienced cruise line, pick ... Read More
Cuba was great; Adonia was pretty good; Fathom was disappointing. If your goal is a real cultural immersion in Cuba, find a people-to-people on-land tour. If your goal is a quality cruise experience with an experienced cruise line, pick something other than Fathom. If you want to split your time between a whirlwind tour of Cuba and on-board personal growth activities, and you don't mind being the guinea pig this cruise line learns on, this would be perfect for you. If you already booked this cruise my advice is to go out on your own on your free night in Havana, do a lot of reading and movies on your own before you go and while on the trip. Bring a guidebook. Ship: We thought the British-inspired decor, British-Indian cabin and dining crews and British menus were quite charming. The food was good and the ship appeared to run smoothly and efficiently. Bring your sea bands -- our motion-sensitive family members found the motion of a smaller ship to be more noticeable. Shore excursions: The shore excursions were pretty good. The local guides were very good -- well-educated, experienced tour guides who discussed not just local landmarks but also daily life in communist Cuba. These guides were our only real "people-to-people" interaction, and were pretty much the only sources of information about economics or politics of Cuba on the whole trip. There were no choices about shore excursion activities, and it would have been helpful if people had the ability to choose more or less active excursions to fit their physical capabilities, and possibly to focus on interest areas. On one day tours split up among a variety of sites for about half the tour time, and there was no choice about which site you might be sent to; you were randomly assigned to a bus. We got lucky and were sent to a neat site (the Muraleando art school neighborhood project), which allowed for some people-to-people contact. I thought the variety of activities packed into our limited time on shore was appropriate. Arts were heavily emphasized which was OK for me, but might not be for everyone. Our family used our free night in Havana to go out on our own and loved that. The ship's newsletter descriptions of each day's shore excursions routinely promised leisurely people-to-people conversations that never occurred. Our family joked that this was our experience of communism -- reduced individual choice and "news" that was really full of lofty idealism that did not have much to do with the actual activities. On board entertainment: With marketing phrases such as "Travel deep" and "Cuban movies, Cuban music, Cuban cuisine – they’ll all be part of your outbound voyage, as you learn more about the remarkable people you’re about to meet," or "Your time on the island is intended to be a genuine cultural exchange experience – part learning, part pure enjoyment – as you get to know the Cuban people face to face," we were expecting the on-board activities to be primarily related to cultural immersion and study of Cuba. But apparently Fathom's interpretation of "travel deep" is exploring YOURSELF, not the country you're visiting. Most of the on board activities were about how to develop your curiosity or become a "changemaker" or meditate, NOT about Cuba. The blue shirt Fathom activity crew members were generally uninformed about Cuba and appeared to be getting all of their information from participating in the tours along with their passengers. There was one very poorly organized book discussion (the book title was not announced until the night before the discussion). There were movies every night but only two of the movies were Cuba-related (the excellent Havana Motor Club and The Old Man and the Sea). In short, the cruise actually offered LESS cultural education activities than my parents' regular cruise line, Princess -- just language lessons and a port overview lecture. We knew it was a smaller ship that would not have some on-board entertainment such as a casino, so that part was not a disappointment for us. We did have live music every night on the ship except the night most people went out on shore. The ship's own little band included talented musicians capable of a broad range of musical styles and they did a nice job of splitting into solos, duos or trios to offer a variety of different types of shows. They also brought on board two different Cuban bands and offered many Cuban dance lessons. If there hadn't been so much hype about how the Fathom experience was supposed to be MORE of a cultural immersion and people-to-people interaction than other cruises, we probably would not have been so disappointed, but the Fathom marketing led us to expect a truly educational experience, and instead we got an inexperienced cruise line focused on personal growth. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We went on this cruise for two reasons: the opportunity for people to people personal interaction with Cuban people, and typical cruise amenities. We were extremely disappointed in both respects. The cruise line's promotional ... Read More
We went on this cruise for two reasons: the opportunity for people to people personal interaction with Cuban people, and typical cruise amenities. We were extremely disappointed in both respects. The cruise line's promotional materials are so misleading as to be fraudulent. Absolutely no entertainment on board. Everyone went to bed after dinner since there was nothing else to do. Despite promotional claims,there were no true person-to-person interaction with Cubans, unless you call bus tours with Cuban drivers as interaction with Cubans. Mediocre and uninformative lectures , e.g. learning basic Spanish, were given by youthful members of crew. Food was very mediocre, at best. Despite promotional claims, there was no Cuban food served on board, although there was plenty of Indian food. All members of my party of six suffered from norovirus, presumably caused by fecal matter in food, although, strangely, this was not publicized. An entire section of the ship was without functioning toilets on two separate occasions. Ship had to return to Miami shortly after sailing due to loss of electric power. Repair delay caused us to totally miss one of the three planned stops. Ship gave a whopping $75 dollars in on-board credit as compensation (pretty much useless since there was very little to buy at the ship's two small stores.) The people-to-people experience claims were fraudulent, apparently intended to gain US approval for the cruise as an educational experience. Only positive aspect was excellent service throughout the ship. All in all, a very disappointing experience...would definitely not recommend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I had an unforgettable experience on my recent trip to Cuba on the Fathom. Since this is a very new itinerary (3rd cruise to Cuba) I didn't really know what to expect and knew that this was a learning experience for me, as well as ... Read More
I had an unforgettable experience on my recent trip to Cuba on the Fathom. Since this is a very new itinerary (3rd cruise to Cuba) I didn't really know what to expect and knew that this was a learning experience for me, as well as Fathom. As and educator, I was familiar with people to people exchange programs and Fathom did and excellent job. Every program includes a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities. The first day in Havana we were on a bus tour of city with several stops along the way to immerse with the Cuban people. We stopped in Revolution square and talked to the many Cuban about their city and their cars. We were able to ask questions of our tour guide and driver about life in Cuba. At lunch we had interactions in the restaurant with the staff and musicians. We had a wonderful Cuban lunch with Mojitios or Cuban beer. Later in the day we met with the son of a local artist Fuster who turned his home and community into a mosaic wonderland. We also visited a local museum with Cuban art. Day two in Havana was a walking tour. The day was very hot, but we were able to see many of the squares in the city where the Cuban people meet. Time was given to explore and interact with locals. (For those in previous reviews who said there was no people to people activities, they chose not to interact and ask questions of the locals). We did miss our stop in Cienfuegos, but then went to Santiago where we were able to go to a local club and talk with the musician and even have a dance with the locals. Activities on board centered around the trip-Learning Spanish, Cuban history, movies, music and some Cuban food (as well as other dining choices). Entertainment onboard was not like other cruises, but this was not meant to be like other cruises. If you need to be entertained 24/7 then this is not the cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I have cruised over 20 times, mostly to the Caribbean, with one to Alaska, one to the Amazon River, and several to the Mediterranean. The cruise ship I took to the Amazon River was actually the Adonia; however, it was a Princess ship at ... Read More
I have cruised over 20 times, mostly to the Caribbean, with one to Alaska, one to the Amazon River, and several to the Mediterranean. The cruise ship I took to the Amazon River was actually the Adonia; however, it was a Princess ship at the time, the former Royal Princess, one of about ten former Renaissance ships, which after 9/11, were bought up by American cruise lines Princess (3), Oceania (3), and Azamara (2) mostly. My husband and I have also sailed on the two Azamara ships, so I was very comfortable with what the Adonia would offer. It is currently leased by Fathom from P&O, a British cruise line. I love its size; however, the casino was removed and there were only two on-board shops, one for luxury items such as handbags & jewelry, the other was Eco-friendly products in line with Fathom's theme. There was very little sportswear or toiletries available. The shops carried the same merchandise every day, nothing new introduced at a later date, nor were there any "reduced sale items" at the end of the cruise. The Glass House was a new venue, a wine and champagne bar on deck 10 where the library is located where 4 internet desktop computers are available. The Ocean Grill was the specialty restaurant (additional charge) which served Cuban food from their special chef, and the Lido Cafe was the poolside grill offering Cuban sandwiches at lunch. (I did not eat at either). Twice on sea days, they offered a tasty poolside Bar-b-Que which had chicken, seafood, burgers, hot dogs, lasagna, vegetables, corn-on-the-cob and fruit salad. Dining room food was catered to the British as lamb in some form was available most evenings, fish and chips were offered, and cappucino was complimentary for breakfast and dinner (did not eat lunch there, so I cannot advise); also tea flavors offered were plentiful. My husband was not interested in Cuba, so I traveled solo, originally booking in an ocean view and was given one forward on the lowest deck D which also houses the guest relations and shore excursions desks. Once on board, I inquired about availability of other cabins as I suspected the ship was not sold out and was offered a balcony and was given an aft balcony up two decks on C Cabins are pretty standard, with a desk, loveseat or chair, sufficient storage space, two night stands, small shower including mounted shower gel, toiletries of shampoo/conditioner/body lotion/shower cap/nail file, and a tea/coffee station near the mini-fridge which included two complimentary water bottles which I reused by refilling from the ship's tap. Walking tours usually provided a bottle also as you departed. All cabins in any category are the same price (which I do not find fair); there are only four categories - currently Dominican Republic prices are inside @ $499, ocean view @ $599, balcony @ $699, and suite @ $2499. My cabin steward was from India as were quite a lot of the crew from P&O. Fathom crew were mostly young people from English-speaking countries in addition to the U.S. (Canada, Australia, UK) who had done similar impact activities such as the Peace Corps and they had little or no cruise experience until April's first sailing to the Dominican Republic. Since most sailings early on do not appear to be sold out, Fathom offered those on the Cuban sailing an incredible rate to stay aboard for the Dominican Republic sailing for $199 per person, an incredible value for a cruise. Complimentary excursions - Originally, it was required that all passengers partake in these and stay with the tour through the end. This is now relaxed and is not required. There were four large groups based on your assigned cabin on board called about 20 minutes apart for disembarkation each day for the tours. I felt this was unfair because every day of ground tours, you were assigned to the same group at the same disembarkation time (so you were always first, second, third or fourth, with no rotation). Then it was pot luck as to which bus and walking tour guide you received and where you ate lunch and in some cases, activities you attended. All guides were very well versed in English and easy to understand; they varied on the topics they discussed other than the sights we were seeing; i.e., political, economical, etc. As others have pointed out in their reviews, descriptions given in the daily newspaper were overhyped as to the P2P experiences we would receive. My Havana bus tour included a wonderful lunch at the top of a 39-story modern hotel building at the Le Torre Restaurant on the 33rd floor. This not only afforded us a panoramic view, but fantastic food with the following options: (1) Lobster, (2) Steak, (3) Fish/seafood; we could choose to have only one or smaller portions of two or three items. I almost felt guilty eating so well while looking out at the way the Cuban people lived. It was an experience to take the elevator up, as there was only one and it held about 10 people. Most of the Paladare owners (privately-owned restaurants) were not fluent in English, so our guides interpreted for us. There was limited opportunity for us to interact with the average Cuban citizen. There were several evening excursions offered at cost and most said they were way overpriced and could easily have been booked independently at a reasonable cost. I did not participate in any of them, but did not hear any negative feedback from those that did. The most expensive was $199 and took place outdoors. Something to remember is to carry local CUCs, their currency, for tipping paladare staff, tour/bus guides and restroom attendants (also bring TP when in Santiago's restrooms). The ship's literature advises you as to the amount. A fun option is to take a short coco taxi ride, an open air yellow mini-vehicle available for hire. Our cruise was the third to Cuba, and due to returning to Miami the night of sailing because of a power outage, only visited Havana and Santiago; Cienfuegos was eliminated; I understand that since the scheduled visit was only 5 hours, there probably wasn't a lot to do, however, my research suggested that I personally would have liked it better and found it to be more of an accurate representation of the Cuban lifestyle. It was necessary to spend two days in Havana to experience all it has to offer and Santiago, the second largest city, has more to see and do presumably. Santiago I found to have less modern buildings/facilities and probably the people were not as well-off. The ship refunded port charges and also applied a $75 on board credit for the missed port. Shopping on ground - In Havana, the bus tour takes you to a local artisan/craft market - be sure to bargain there. Cigars and liquor (rum) are available in all ports, basically at the same price (I believe it was government regulated/owned). I purchased some craft items at the fort in Santiago as well (barter). Shipboard activities - The band on board, the Craze Band Trio, was one from the U.K. and they were very good in that they performed all types of music at almost all the venues on board. They also performed a couple times with the local Cuban band Jelengue, that boarded when we sailed from Havana and disembarked in Santiago. They were also excellent (and included an superb trumpet player)and performed various salsa, cha cha and other local music that could be danced with a partner or in line dance form. There was music and/or movies under the stars most evenings. Movies included "The Old Man and the Sea" and "Havana Motor Club" and were offered more than once. There is a gym and spa which seemed to book up when not in port. Wi-Fi packages are available and reasonably priced; however, I only wanted to send emails home and was having difficulty in that as I found out on the last sea day, they were indeed reaching my family, but my husband's replies did not reach me. Someone said that the internet was set up through the Dominican Republic and perhaps some servers (mine was Yahoo) were not being handled responsibly. Fathom-related activities were plentiful but not necessarily Cuban related; examples are curiosity boxes throughout the ship, scavenger hunt and other games (trivia), visual storytelling, cocktail & photography classes, salsa and cha cha dance classes, yoga & meditation, and wine & paint class, and of course Spanish language classes - most classes were offered more than once. SUMMARY - I am thankful to have had the opportunity to take this cruise and for the most part, it was what I had been led to believe it would be. There are quite a few small issues that need addressed and tweaked and our feedback will help them with that I am sure. My suggestions include: more seminars about Cuba and its history and culture prior to disembarking (perhaps more information can be emailed to passengers); making tours more accessible to older and physically challenged people (pavement - cobblestone was uneven) with places for people to sit and take a break, especially given the heat; providing more situations for interaction with the locals. Weather at least in the summer (rainy season) is sub-tropical and therefore has extremely high humidity and highs reaching 90, and lows staying in the 80s at night -- dew points made it feel like 100 or more and there were few places where there was a breeze unless on a hill (visiting a fort). The people are genuinely happy to see Americans and as curious about us as we are about them. I am sure the country is on its way to becoming "Americanized" and some day there will be McDonald's and Wal-Marts, but I think that is a ways off (several years), so don't be in a rush to book; but I do believe this cruise is the best, most cost-effective way to visit Cuba at this time. I have checked into land package tours and other cruise lines and they offer less for more money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We decided to sail to Cuba because the fares were so reasonable. I knew going in that the ship was not a luxury liner. However, I was surprised at the size of the balcony cabins and bathroom. They were miniature. One little desk that ... Read More
We decided to sail to Cuba because the fares were so reasonable. I knew going in that the ship was not a luxury liner. However, I was surprised at the size of the balcony cabins and bathroom. They were miniature. One little desk that did not hold all of our electronics and only two plugs right by the desk. No coffee maker, just a hotpot with instant coffee and tea. The room was clean. Having read some of the previous reviews, we brought several bottles of water on board with us. Also having read reviews, we bought Euros to change into the Cuban cucs. This was not necessary, as we could have changed U.S. money at the pier in Havana. The first day shore excursion was an all day bus ride around Cuba. Luckily we had a great guide who explained many things about how the average Cuban lives. I could have spent an hour picking his brain. Lunch was at a local restaurant and very good. The second day was a walking tour. Our guide spent too much time talking about things we all had no interest in, plus his microphone was faulty and we couldn't hear. We opted to take a cab around the city. Though our driver didn't speak much English, we managed. Santiago de Cuba was historically more interesting, but the same hovels and needy people all begging for something. We never got to Cienfuego, but I doubt it was any different than the two cities we visited. Lunch was at a wonderful family restaurant where we were treated like royalty with a four course lunch and music. We saw where they were building "New Havana" at the edge of town with the cranes and tall buildings being built. It will become another Miami. I'm glad I got to see it before it did. Overall, we felt very safe. However, there are bars on all windows. Apparently they have burglaries. The ships daytime activities were geared for the "kumbaya" crowd. We did not attend. They would have liked you to know everyone on the cruise and we were just not interested. The people that spoke before the ports were not really that knowledgeable about the people. They gave history details. We loved seeing the old cars. They were everywhere. Only the outsides are recognizable, the insides have all been refitted with diesel engines, and whatever parts they could find or make to fix the autos. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Pros 1. Staff - I cannot say enough about the staff on the Adonia ship. From the wait staff to the cabin stewards, everyone is there to please - especially the staff at the Conservatory Buffet. They get to know your names and make sure ... Read More
Pros 1. Staff - I cannot say enough about the staff on the Adonia ship. From the wait staff to the cabin stewards, everyone is there to please - especially the staff at the Conservatory Buffet. They get to know your names and make sure they remember what you like. If you have a question, and they don't have an answer, they will find out for you. Loved them! 2. Classes - We really appreciated the classes that taught us about Cuba's history and what to expect at each city. These classes usually fill up quickly, so if you want a good seat, then arrive early or make sure you sign up early for classes with limited seats. Also, take advantage of the cocktail classes taught by Sam. It's a great way to learn the history of rum and how to properly make mojitos, Bahama Mamas and daiquiris. 3. Onshore Excursions - (Please consider that our cruise was delayed, so they cut our trip to Cienfuegos and added half a day to our Havana excursion.) While we were disappointed missing out on Cienfuegos, in the end, we loved having two whole days in Havana. We had plenty of time to do the required onshore excursions, while having enough time to ourselves to spend a night walking through Old Havana and an afternoon to run around to do some shopping and to visit some neighborhoods off the beaten path. Though, our time at Santiago de Cuba felt rushed, even though we had a whole day there, but we still loved learning about its historical places and history. (The Barcadi Rum company was founded in this city in 1862.)The Havanatur guides were knowledgable and bilingual, so communication was not a problem. We were led by Osmin, Jordan, Adriana, and Yosiel in Havana, and had Antonio in Santiago, and they are all excellent guides. We even exchanged contact information with the guides to keep in touch. 4. Onshore Restaurants - We were able to get a taste of state-run restaurants and family-owned restaurants (paladares). We felt the food at the family owned restaurant in Santiago was the best, but they were all good. 5. Cuban People - This was the most memorable part of our trip - our interactions with the residents of Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Many people are already able to speak some English, so having a simple conversation with locals won't be a problem, and many Cubans are willing to tell you their stories. Therefore, make sure you interact! 6. Shopping - Yes, we did not want to leave Cuba without our rum and cigars. You will get plenty of time to shop when participating in the Havantur excursions. The best place to do most of your shopping will be the Crafts Market at the end of your day-long Havana bus tour. This market is also within walking distance of the ship terminal and has an official kiosk that sells rum and cigars. The second place is the pathway to the Santiago de Cuba fortress, which will have plenty of merchants with handmade crafts and jewelry. 7. Laundry - A launderette is located on the 7th deck. There are 6 washers and 6 dryers. Machines are free; you only need to bring you own soap. Make sure you only place half a cup of detergent with each load, as the machines tend to create lots of suds. Cons 1. Communication - We do realize that Fathom is a new brand under Carnival Cruises, but we were expecting to have experienced staff during the booking and check in process. We noticed that each rep gave us different information when calling the Fathom reservation number, so make sure you double check the details they provide you. Also, during the check in process at the terminal, we were told that the affidavits that the booking team told us to complete were not the right ones, so they had us complete new forms. Also, they told us that we needed to sign up for the onshore excursions on the boat, which was completely false (no sign up is required). So, needless to say, more training is needed for the Fathom frontline! 2. Delay - As I mentioned before, we had a mechanical problem delay our cruise, so our trip to Cienfuegos was cut from the itinerary. Now, when something like this happens, travelers expect to receive some kind of compensation or refund for the inconvenience, but Fathom didn't see it that way initially. They thought that extending our time in Havana by half a day would make up for it. It wasn't until travelers complained that they offered everyone a $75 credit and a free drink at dinner. This is something they should have offered shortly after they realized we would be delayed. 3. Days at Sea - Now let me say this - we are not the traditional cruisers, and we primarily booked this cruise as a quick and easy way to get an introduction into Cuba, so we already boarded the boat with a preference to be onshore in Cuba. Because of our delay, we ended up being at sea for over 3 1/2 days, which seemed too long for us. If you like being on a ship, then this may not be a problem. Also, as I mentioned before, there are multiple classes onboard that will keep you occupied during this time at sea. 4. Other Cruisers - Now, please remember that if you decide to take part of the Havanatur excursions onshore that you must then do the entire 4 or 8 hour tours. We had some cruisers in our group that felt it was okay to demand that the guides take them back to the boat or shopping during the middle of the tour. First of all, these cruisers were stressing out the guides, and negatively impacting the experience for the other cruisers. Therefore, if you know that the heat or walking will be too much for you or if you prefer to spend more of your time shopping, then check with the Explorers desk on the ship to see what you can do in lieu of the guided tours. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cuba is all new even to seasoned cruise passengers. We called our travel agent but she said they were not authorized to book to Cuba yet…so we spoke directly to a Fathom agent. Spoke to a very nice lady there…she asked what type ... Read More
Cuba is all new even to seasoned cruise passengers. We called our travel agent but she said they were not authorized to book to Cuba yet…so we spoke directly to a Fathom agent. Spoke to a very nice lady there…she asked what type of cabin we would be interested in… told her we like a port side balcony cabin someplace in the middle of the ship…she suggested A050. When we heard the price $4333.00pp we were taken back ….. She told us that if we booked by the end of the week we could get a ship’s credit - still unsure - she said she could hold that cabin 48 hours…plus we would be put on a list for an upgrade. ..... We booked May 2nd… for a June 12th sailing. It was Fathom's 4th cruise to Cuba :) ..... We experienced problems with our cabin and also found out we paid A LOT more than other passengers! (See cabin review below) ..... On board it was an average cruise...with daily activities & some entertainment...the personnel were pleasant and the food was good. Our waiter & server (Lincoln & Patrick) were extremely nice and we looked forward to seeing them each evening at dinner. The ports were very good and the tours and tour guides we liked very much. Minor things like having a bus that the toilet did not work or a restaurant that was not ready for our group to eat lunch there - understandable with all the newness of a Cuba cruise. Loved the Cuban experience and the people we met. We are so happy that Americans can now visit. Considering the price we paid~the value of the cruise was terrible...and that is why we rated the cruise as poor. Considering the price Florida residents told us they paid - we are confident they felt the value was very good.. AFTER the cruise ......... We did send a certified LETTER to Ms Tara Russell (CEO) ... but are quite sure she never even saw it ....(mailing address Seattle Wash)....as it seemed odd our Letter was answered with an EMAIL from a customer service rep. and not a Letter from Ms Russell or her assistant. Any dealing we have had or our friends have had with CEOs of companies... CEOs always without exception replied directly or an assistant on behalf of the CEO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Having an opportunity to visit Cuba has long been on my "bucket list" and my experience on this unique cruise fit the bill. Unlike a number of previous cruises taken years ago with young children in tow, this trip was geared ... Read More
Having an opportunity to visit Cuba has long been on my "bucket list" and my experience on this unique cruise fit the bill. Unlike a number of previous cruises taken years ago with young children in tow, this trip was geared primarily for Adults. Although not a new, mega ship, I found the Adonia to be well maintained and staffed by young professionals who were extremely attentive. Food was very good and service outstanding. The limited size made for an ability to "get to know" other travelers and provided opportunity to meet and make new friends. This is not a cruise for one looking to lay by a pool or on a beach all day. Instead, this Cruise afforded opportunity to learn and experience a new culture. Great emphasis was placed on encouraging passengers to make the most of their time ashore at three separate and distinct Cuban Ports. Although the itineraries were pre-set, our guides were extremely knowledgeable and open to questions. The walking and bus tours were geared to see & experience the most with the time you had. Clearly, Cuba is not yet geared for a great influx of tourists but this is part of the allure. In parts of Havana you can easily imagine you've gone back in time. No Star Bucs, McDonalds....no people with cell phones glued to their face.. and great number of well kept 1950s autos rumbling down every street. If you're looking for a "different" type of vacation, I highly recommend this Cruise ! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We wanted to go to Cuba, but what Fathom promised was not what was delivered. We were disappointed when the Hemingway in his footprints was not included. The activities on board were an extra charge.(dancing lessons) The tour bus had the ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba, but what Fathom promised was not what was delivered. We were disappointed when the Hemingway in his footprints was not included. The activities on board were an extra charge.(dancing lessons) The tour bus had the bathroom closed and we had to wait until we reach our destination. We went to the bathroom and it was disgusting, on top of that we had to pay $1.00 for 4 sheets of toilet paper. The tours were no better, we would be dropped off and you were on your own, the people to people were falsely stated by Fathom. We paid $398.00 for the Tropicana Review, the show was wonderful, but for what we received 1/2 bottle of Run and 2 cans of coke was a bit much. Extra cokes would cost you $3.00 a can and if you wanted to take photos you had to pay $5.00 We were expecting Cuban meals on board just one night and it was ok. The on-board activities we thought were included, but there was a fee for the activities they offer. Our bathroom backed up and it took 2 days to be fixed, we had to use the public bathroom one deck up. After we returned home we found out the same cruise we were on the price was half price, we paid $8,600.00. We could have gone on any other cruise would have received a Suite. Where Fathom came up with a $16000.00 for a suite for two was just outrageous. Disappointed cruising to Cuba, I'll just cruise anywhere but Cuba or THE GREAT USA. I don't recommend this cruise, only those that live in Florida and can cruise to Cuba for $599.00 for an inside cabin. Everyone else pays this hefty price plus airfare Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I went to Cuba to experience it because I had wondered about the people and country since my childhood. I was in third grade during the Cuban Missile Crisis and remember it well. I was thrilled to hear a cruise line had been approved to ... Read More
I went to Cuba to experience it because I had wondered about the people and country since my childhood. I was in third grade during the Cuban Missile Crisis and remember it well. I was thrilled to hear a cruise line had been approved to travel around the country. I flew across the country to experience a place most Americans have not been allowed to visit. It was an enlightening, educational, entertaining visit, one that I will never forget. The people were welcoming and one experience that still gets me emotional is when a man approached me on his way to work. He is a government worker and was wearing all brown, his eyes were even brown. He said, "Thank you for coming to my country. You are most welcome here. Please tell your friends at home that we are just like you. We work hard, love our families and country. We have hope for the future." I wonder now about him and his hope. The ship was clean, a little worn but staff were welcoming and a cut above other cruise lines. I appreciated all the afternoon seminars getting us ready for the next Cuban port we would visit. The included walking tours were led by very smart, articulate tour guides. They had other jobs like university faculty, high school teacher and an artist. The food aboard was above normal but not exceptional. I would love to visit Cuba again and am very sad that Adonia isn't going there any longer. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016

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