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1,939 Cuba Cruise Reviews

The ship was adequate and we loved the service! Kervin was amazing as a pool deck server. The cabin (4590) was perfect for our needs and our hostess took great care of us. We did not do any formal dining and chose the buffet for all ... Read More
The ship was adequate and we loved the service! Kervin was amazing as a pool deck server. The cabin (4590) was perfect for our needs and our hostess took great care of us. We did not do any formal dining and chose the buffet for all of our meals. We found the food to be good, but would prefer more options after 9 pm. The pool deck was overcrowded on sea day and we would prefer a larger ship with an adult only pool if it were available. We mainly chose this ship in order to have a day in Cuba and it by far did not dissapoint. We chose an independent tour via I Love Cuba Photo Tours and had the time of our lives with Yosel as our guide. I can not say enough amazing things about Yosel's ability to bring his culture alive. He is bright (brilliant may be a more fitting term), charming, and authentic. We had a personal tour with a driver and were given a photo card at the conclusion that memorialized our day. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My husband and I wanted to take a cruise to Cuba in June and did not want to spend the night in Havana. The only cruise lines that had this trip was Royal Caribbean and NCL. We chose RC since the Tampa port and the dates worked out. I ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to take a cruise to Cuba in June and did not want to spend the night in Havana. The only cruise lines that had this trip was Royal Caribbean and NCL. We chose RC since the Tampa port and the dates worked out. I read multiple reviews of the ship and ports on many sights. I was very concerned after reading sub-par reviews of the Majesty of the Seas, but decided to proceed as this was the best trip for our schedule. We arrived at the Port of Tampa at 11 am. The process was a breeze despite having to buy our Cuba visa at the port. We were in the port building for only 45 minutes. We immediately went to lunch in the Windjammer. I have to admit that I really enjoyed the food this day in the Windjammer. They had a beef stew that was very good and my husband enjoyed the pizza that was offered. At 1:30 an announcement was made that all rooms were ready. In the elevator lobby, we spotted our luggage so we were able to unpack right away. That was nice! Our cabin was on level 7...the level with the lifeboats. Cabin 7536 was advertised as an ocean view picture window with obstruction. Well, there was no obstruction, however people are walking deck seven so you cannot have your blinds open in the room. That did not matter as the cabin is so small that you cannot get to the window without crawling on the bed. It was truly one of the smallest cabins that we have ever stayed in...about 120 sq. ft. (I can only imagine how small interior cabins are at 114 sq. ft.). Somehow we were able to find a spot for all our stuff, utilizing ever sq. inch. But let me stress again that the bed will take up the vast majority of the room. There is a small desk/vanity mirror and closet, small table and limited shelves. Surprisingly, the shower was one of the best that we've had a ship. Our first night on the ship, at 2:15 am, an announcement came over the PA...."Fire on level one, Fire on level one, Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. Man your stations. I thought I was dreaming, but another announcement happened again about a fire on level one. We were stunned what to do. People started coming in the hallways, and since we were on the level with the lifeboats, we cound see people waling that level....so much for muster stations. A few minutes later the captain came on the PA and said that there was a fire in the insulation of the incinerator. He would get back to us in ten minutes with an update. We decided to get dressed and wait for his instructions. His next announcement stated that the fire was under control and very smoky...he would get back to us in ten minutes. By this time, I'm looking at the TV to see how far out in the gulf we were. He finally came back on and said the fire was extinguished and the crew could "stand down". What a way to start the first night. Our first stop was Key West...not a fan of this tourist destination so nothing to say about the port. The reason for the trip...Havana...was upon us. We booked the tour that featured a tour in a vintage car. Getting off the ship was very easy and Cuban customs was a breeze. We boarded our bus and drove about 15 minutes to get to our cars. The tour brochure states that we would be in a hard top car, but we were in a convertable...so bring a hat and sunscreen. Our tour guide was great. He spoke OK English but was as nice as could be. He drove us to the highlights of Havana and we only got out of the car once at Revolution Sq. After the stop it was time to get out of the car and we were dropped off at the Hotel National. I'm sure in the 50's this was the place to be. Great location on the water, but the revolution has not been kind to the hotel. The hotel, as all of Havana, is in a time warp. We had a mojito at the bar and continued on the air conditioned bus for a short tour then a stop at the state store in Old Havana where you could buy up to 100 cigars and 2 bottles of rum. You would not believe how much our group purchased at the store. We were able to walk back to the ship. After talking to others, we were so happy with out tour. We did not see Hemmngway's house, but that was fine with us. We had a sea day the next day and all of a sudden the ship starts turning around. The reason for the turn around is that an empty boat was spotted and our ship was going to investigate the boat and area. After about an hour, the ship proceeded back on the route. Here is our view of the ship....Yes, it's an older, smaller ship. But RC has done the very best that they could in keeping this boat in top condition. Everything is very well kept and clean. It's a very easy ship to find your way around. Service...everyone was wonderful. The staff of the cruise director was so energetic, especially on disco night. Servers were great; however in the Viking Crown, it was slow and not very organized. Also in the Viking Crown, there were too many private functions. It's such a great place to see the boat leave a dock and they should find another place for all the ship's private parties. Food....what do you expect from a ship? I thought it was better than NCL, but not as good as Celebrity. More of a variety is needed at breakfast and they need better quality of fruit and coffee. Activities...we went to one Bingo and it was super expensive. Played a few hands in the casino. Nothing special. We went to karaoke ever night and laughed out loud. The pool deck party was mainly Latin the theme. Other passengers....we were shocked. It was mainly 30 year olds on the ship. My husband and I are in our early 60's and were one of the oldest on the ship. So surprising. That being said, the pool deck was like a night club. Electronic Dance Music was blaring and the band cranking. BTW, the bands were great. Overall, we loved our trip. Havana was the highlight, but the other three days were great too. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to be docked for a few days. Although we prefer suites,we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We are three star Mariners with HAL and received the Signature Beverage packages. This included all drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to be docked for a few days. Although we prefer suites,we decided to try a Lanai cabin. We are three star Mariners with HAL and received the Signature Beverage packages. This included all drinks 9.50 and under. We also received a night in Pinnacle Grill. We arrived in Boston on Saturday and used the HAL ground transportation to get to the port. Everything was smooth and we waited perhaps 30 minutes before being allowed to board. Our cabin was ready and we explored the ship. I had read many negative reviews regarding Veendam and I was worried about the ship not being maintained well. It is obviously an older ship, but everything in our cabin (349) was in perfect working order. A lanai cabin is much smaller than a suite, obviously. But we did not miss the extra room much and we also did not miss the private balcony much. We had plenty of room for 7 days worth of clothing. We were ok with the very tiny pools at the retreat as we mostly are in our chairs and just dip our toes in periodically. Neither of us have ever used the hot tubs on a cruise ship. I do wish that the Lido pool was for children and the Retreat pool was adults only. There were more kids than normal when compared to our previous HAL cruises, but I realized that would be the case by taking a cruise in June. I did not find the children on the ship to be an issue after the first day. The first day, there were many children in the bars, dining room, pools, etc. But after that, they must have been utitilizing Club HAL. My biggest complaint though were the few kids that were almost always at the Retreat pool. Two of them belonged to a mom who would simply deposit them at the pool area and then move to another area to relax, not even leaving them in her site. I would guess they were 3 and 6. It was annoying and I feel, dangerous. But I have seen that on other cruises as well. We ate in the dining room twice and we have not been doing assigned seating lately. The service was excellent and the food was good. The Pinnacle service was excellent and the food not quite as good as previous visits, but it was fine. We felt the Lido offered a good variety and we received good service there. We ordered room service late a couple of nights and that was delicious and quick. We knew we would miss BB King and we did, but we managed to have fun by going to the Piano Bar. Barry from Boston was excellent as usual. We are 58 and there were many that age that were there each night and many much older. The crowd seemed to enjoy more of the show tune, older music. We know those songs, but it is not our cup of tea each night. He did do a Beatles night and some other themes we enjoyed. But the crowd that frequented the Piano Bar was just a bit old for our tastes. I am referring more to their attitudes than their actual ages. Again, Barry was excellent. We saw a magician one evening and he was pretty good and this was our only show. We loved Bermuda. The weather was around 80 each day and almost always sunny. We jogged each morning for an hour when we were docked and then went on long walks. On sea days we walked on deck 6 as no running is allowed. That is always a disappointment to us on HAL ships we have been on. We visited the park nearby, which was beautiful. We had drinks at two bars and met some great locals and also someone that was working on an RC ship. We shopped for maybe a half hour and purchased very reasonably priced t shirts. We also went to a pharmacy and picked up extra sunscreen and water. We visited Horseshoe Bay and found it beautiful. We rode the bus there and found it very easy and enjoyable. We also spent a day at Clearwater Beach and that was breathtaking. The bus home was a bit irritating as we had to transfer as we had on the way there, but due to some bus issues we had to wait over an hour. We did not make it to Crystal Caves, although we desperately wanted to go. Once we had our suits on and were on a beautiful beach with perfect weather, we could not tear ourselves away! We left the ship on our last day at 9:45 am. We handle all of our own luggage, so don’t have to worry about finding our luggage. All went smoothly and the lines were almost non existent to get off the ship. We found this to be one of our favorite cruises, even though it was only 7 days and even though we had a Lani cabin. It was an excellent value when we factored in the beverage packages. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I had never sailed with Royal Caribbean and had 3 prior cruises with other providers. I found the staff of Royal Caribbean very friendly, knowledgeable, and genuine. The embarks and de-barks were smooth and efficient. Cons: I do ... Read More
I had never sailed with Royal Caribbean and had 3 prior cruises with other providers. I found the staff of Royal Caribbean very friendly, knowledgeable, and genuine. The embarks and de-barks were smooth and efficient. Cons: I do believe there could be more activities pool side and guess engagement and I would have liked that. Also headliner entertainment. The comic they had was very funny and entertaining but I'm not sure he was headliner material. My time dining filled up so our dinner time was assigned at 530pm. This was too early for us and not conducive to shore excursion return time so we never ate in the dining room. The beverage package is awesome! The Wind Jammer which is their buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner is great! There was ALOT of choices and plenty of food and deserts. I would definitely sail with them again and I have cooked another cruise already. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The Majesty of the Seas is the worst Royal Caribbean Cruise I have ever taken. I have been on many in the past and this cruise ship falls way short of Royal Caribbean's standards. The food and service was not up to cruises I have ... Read More
The Majesty of the Seas is the worst Royal Caribbean Cruise I have ever taken. I have been on many in the past and this cruise ship falls way short of Royal Caribbean's standards. The food and service was not up to cruises I have been on with Royal Caribbean in the past. The staff was like they were in a training mode. The bar service was very prompt and the bar areas was well maintained. Our tour guide was excellent and knew the history of Cuba and pointed out many interesting things about Cuba. which made the excursion more interesting. I would go to Cuba again but not on Majesty of the Seas. I know there are very few cruise ships going to Cuba so selections are limited but Royal Caribbean needs to improve the service and food selections on the Majesty of the Seas before I would take it again. I will continue to sail on Royal Caribbean because I like this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My husband and I took this cruise to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. He is permanently in a wheelchair. We brought his manual chair and booked the handicapped cabin 8018. I read many reviews on this site and people complain the ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. He is permanently in a wheelchair. We brought his manual chair and booked the handicapped cabin 8018. I read many reviews on this site and people complain the soap is not elegant enough to poor variety on the buffet. We found this to be an enjoyable cruise, clean ship, and courteous staff. We enjoyed the food and thought it was good. We ate at three speciality restaurants and the main dining room. Just didn’t find any problems and there was no problem with the service. The boat is handicapped accessible. There are a couple of doors on the 12th deck to the resturants where a raised door footing would catch the wheelchair tip bars, but there was always someone to help out. We didn’t swim but attended the shows. All accessible. We enjoyed the open bar and they served top shelf liquor. We did not take a Norwegian excursion in Cuba and has read about the market that was in walking distance. We found Cuba is not handicapped accessible. Unless you make it over to the walk along the ocean, what sidewalks are available are in horrible disrepair. The roads across from the pier are cobblestone that will destroy your back if in a wheelchair. Very poor infrastructure in Cuba. We did make it down the street toward the market and came upon an area where Cubans will take you for a tour in the vintage cars. We met Pedro and his assistant and both were extremely accommodating. My husband transferred to the front seat, I sat in the back, and he put the wheelchair in the trunk and away we went for 2 hours. He spoke good English and knew his city and the history of his country. He charged $50.00 per hour and the car was a convertible. Well worth the money. The market had burned prior to our arrival and was not open. We made two stops one where Pedro graciously helped my husband in and out of the car. My husband purchased cigars. He has the only orange convertible that I saw and he will pick you up in front of the pier. We hired him later that night to take my husband and I to the Tropicana and return us to the pier. The Tropicana is handicapped accessible and a good show with fabulous costumes. Can’t say enough about Pedro’s accommodating service that made it possible for my husband and I experience Cuba. Everyone should experience Cuba and see what communism has done to that beautiful country and disservice to their people. When you return home you will have a greater appreciation of a free democracy. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
To be honest, my husband chose the cruise to Havana because of the classic American cars he could see there. Me, well, OK, it's a cruise!! But I was dazzled by the upbeat steward, our beautiful stateoom and bath, the food(Oh, my!!), ... Read More
To be honest, my husband chose the cruise to Havana because of the classic American cars he could see there. Me, well, OK, it's a cruise!! But I was dazzled by the upbeat steward, our beautiful stateoom and bath, the food(Oh, my!!), the performers -comedy where I laughed till I hurt, the review that awed me at the non-stop, overwhelming energy. The beauty, peace of Key West (and the chickens-of you've been there, you understand); our guide, in love with her city. When we docked in Havana, we were within sight of The Christ of Havana, and just overlooking an assembly point of the taxis-those incredible, gem-like classes American cars. Our 3-hour bus tour, and our driver and guide showed us the beauty (if storm-battered) of the once elegant building. Again, a guide who loved his city, but was honest about his feelings about American involvement, and how the socialist government of Havana was a bit "behind" in renovating the damaged buildings. He could say what he wanted, his frankness was a delight. I guess you can tell I loved our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise since it fit our schedule. I would say for an older ship it wasn't that bad. We had porthole rooms. The air conditioning didn't work on the first day, so we had to call guest services twice (one room). Both ... Read More
We chose this cruise since it fit our schedule. I would say for an older ship it wasn't that bad. We had porthole rooms. The air conditioning didn't work on the first day, so we had to call guest services twice (one room). Both calls took about 10 minutes to answer the phone. On the first call they never came to fix the AC. About 5 hours later I called again and they then came to fix the AC. We had 2 rooms and the salesperson could have put us closer together, 8263 and 8213 were on the opposite side of the ship. Leaving the ship in CUBA could have gone a bit smother, we couldn't get off until 11am. The cruise line attempts to force you to by excursions (NCL) for CUBA on the ship, which are double and triple of what you find off the ship. We found local guides when off the ship. You do not need to book a tour through NCL if you dont want to! You can still get off the ship in HAVANA and do what you want. I found the dining room service a bit slow for us, if your in a crunch for time go to the 11th floor for the buffet. We would have liked to have another day to gang out in Havana, lots to see and do. Deflated basketballs in the basketball court.The NCL salespeople on the phone have no clue about Cuba and the process of leaving the ship, I almost canceled the whole cruise over the poor service over the phone.Those are my CONS. PROS. Plenty of food and drinks on board. Lots of free activities for children at night. Good service most of the time. Great shows. Plenty of activities on the ship to keep busy. Very clean and a focus on keeping the ship clean and free from contagious deseases. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
After many years of Cruising we had always wanted to visit Cuba.. When we saw this Cruise leaving from Port Canaveral which is less than one hour from our home, we booked it as part of our 50th wedding anniversary.. Never cruised with ... Read More
After many years of Cruising we had always wanted to visit Cuba.. When we saw this Cruise leaving from Port Canaveral which is less than one hour from our home, we booked it as part of our 50th wedding anniversary.. Never cruised with Norwegian we were looking for that on board experience of past cruises.. The Sun was a very clean ship, newely renovated, with a colorful painting on the outside.. The Cruise itself was comfortable, however the daily buffet was very average, we were glad there was hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and pastas, which turned out best choice for our meals.. We did not try any of the paid restaurants, but one time in the free restaurant the service was aweful, trying to get a glass of water after he filled my wife's glass and walked away tuened out to be an Olympics event.. Service was not the best, (never met or seen my room stewart the entire trip) our room was never made up before 1pm each day, activities are few, yet the all inclusive drinks are what makes the cruise.. Loved seeing the children about the ship with the ships organized group's.. Rated the cruise average transportation to the destination, it was not a luxury or pampering cruise as we had hoped! Pricing was reasonable, as most cruises it's the tag on things that can dig into our pockets.. Being totally honesty, it was a nice trip, fairly reasonable priced, and if your looking for an economy type trip this is it! We do not like the daily tip fees, I perfer to tip on individual basis which creates better service! Yes! We would book that cruise again, of course if it's a deal we can't refuse lol.. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Cabin 8235 (Balcony) I did not have high expectations for this cruise. I have not been on NCL since my honeymoon in favor of RCL and Holland America (Alaska). Although a more casual atmosphere was appealing, for a short cruise and ... Read More
Cabin 8235 (Balcony) I did not have high expectations for this cruise. I have not been on NCL since my honeymoon in favor of RCL and Holland America (Alaska). Although a more casual atmosphere was appealing, for a short cruise and smaller ship I expected the combination to mean an older more "worn" ship. But we really wanted to try this itinerary (Cuba!) and the price was right for a balcony cabin. Embarkation was very simple and stream-lined. We returned our car to Alamo, a shuttle was waiting there and delivered us to the port and the porters took our bags (we could also have kept them with us). We had not printed the bag tags and the porter had a ready supply - all we needed was the cabin number. Cabins were all ready by 1:30 and I believe we had our bags by 3 or 4 (well before dinner in any case). This ship was incredibly clean - spic and span in every way. This included the cabin, which seemed in good repair as well. The ship condition was great (better than my last RCL Caribbean cruise, tbh). Plenty of seating everywhere we went (even free lounge chairs not too far from the pool mid-morning on sea days), decor not particularly dated (though typical cruise style), lots of bars open and accessible at all times, elevators working and not too crowded - no complaints, much to my surprise. We loved having a balcony and the location on deck 8 was perfect, no noise except chairs moving on the balconies next to ours (those chairs scrape). We were down a long hall between elevators. We were always on the port side, which was great in Cuba for the view (not so much the smell of the harbor). Bed was comfortable, towel animals every night, safe easy to use, mini-fridge empty and water (to purchase). We thought the food on the cruise throughout was fine. We generally ate sit down meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the dining room was empty, no waiting. I did have eggs served under cooked (sent back) and over cooked (they sent it back before we saw it, but made for a long wait). Other than that some food was really good (breaded flounder - could have eaten it every night), steak with chimichurri sauce, and the rest without complaint if not special. There is minimal if any dressing up - I like to but my husband is happiest in shorts (he doesn't mind getting out of his t-shirt into a collar shirt, but we saw plenty of t-shirts in the dining room too). One dining room and one restaurant (the French theme one) claims to require pants/dresses at night but at least the dining room didn't turn people away. We did a couple of meals at the buffet when it made sense because of shore excursions - best food there in our opinion was ethnic Asian (Indian, Chinese, and other). There were always grill type food (burgers, dogs, bbq, sausage), excellent fries, and soft serve at the buffet on the aft deck with outdoor seating. Food and service excellent, choice of one each red/white as part of the free bar program. They do not make a big deal out of the free bar program (remember to carry a little cash if you want to tip the bartenders) but it was surprisingly nice - sodas for my husband whenever he wanted (he isn't a fan of iced tea) and cocktails for me without worrying about all of those upcharges. Cagney's (last night) was terrific - the ribeye is immense and could feed two, loved the fries. It was good for a special meal, but honestly I could also have enjoyed the dining room again. The freestyle dining meant that we could eat as a twosome without a lot of rushing on day one to get one of the few tables for two at a time we wanted - and then no rushing to get to dinner "on time" each day. In fact we had a window seat most days, no reservation. Reservations were recommended for large groups. Seats, at least indoor ones, around the buffet were harder to come by but we usually managed. Outdoor seating was windy but pleasant. Plenty of hand sanitizer available and we didn't get sick at all. Be aware that it wasn't too hard to get dishes that were "gluten-friendly" (they even have gluten-free bread on request) but while NCL makes it possible to work with the kitchen to pre-order gluten-free items it adds a lot of hassle and limits food choices accordingly. Plus I think a lot of mistakes must get made between the dining room and the kitchen, anyway, based on how other things came out. Be careful however you handle any dietary restrictions. We enjoyed the entertainment more than we expected too. The ship production staff put on a great show of 70's and 80's music - good band, some excellent singing, great dancing. And we loved Alex Orttiz, the comic (sad to have missed his third show, a late night unrated one on the last night - we decided to get some sleep). Neither seemed too old or dated. We also spent a little time and money in the casino (slots only - came out $10 ahead). Not too smoky, bar open, and they had some little sandwiches out and fruit during the day on the at sea days. This is the first ship that I ventured into the library (I always have a lot of reading material with me) - they had a new crossword (or more) daily, which made me happy, and cards and games. My husband enjoyed solitaire and we saw others playing cards or monopoly. We didn't use the pool but sat out near it (again, got a seat at an umbrella table near the bar on both at sea days). Nice beach towels are offered in your room for the pool, not the usual small worn out pool squares, and are exchanged on the pool deck whenever you want a new one. We enjoyed looking at the art from Park West (art auction was a bit of a bust but glad we stopped in). We aren't much for organized activities but there was a couple of "sip n paint" that seemed fun and up to date and other things going on all the time. Not sure if it was the itinerary or a really good kids program but there were not a lot of rowdy or misbehaved kids, teens, or even drunk college-aged kids, even with the open bar. Key West was a late arrival (4 pm) and that meant the Hemingway House was closing so that excursion was cancelled. That was a real disappointment. The conch train (an open air tram) tour we took instead was informative but the "dad humor" of the driver I could have done without. If you want to go to a bar and drink, or shop, you'll find plenty to entertain you in Key West, but we walked Duval Street in the heat for awhile, felt we had seen enough and headed back to the ship. We were greeted with ice cold washcloths and drinks on the ship - really appreciated! Cuba is also oddly timed - the "second day" really means an extended evening to go to a cabaret or nightclub, as the ship departs port at 6 am the second day! Just be prepared. We took the pricey full day excursion to Vinales Valley and were so pleased with it. It is a 12 h day - debarking and passport control takes time, plus a long drive in each direction. But the drive was interesting, the tour guide super knowledgeable, the bus nice (even the bathroom was usable and clean enough), with enough stops to get out and see things. The main stop was a farmer's home - Benito actually looks like Hemingway and is a real charmer and glad-hander. You learn about tobacco (not the season to see much but a demo), see a cigar rolled and smoke if you like, tour his home, drink Cuban coffee with rum if you wish, buy coffee beans (we did - they are good), and visit his livestock and walk around the farm near the house, and a short walk to the village center (interesting). The valley is truly one of the most beautiful places I've seen (ranks up there with Denali in Alaska). Lunch was a little disappointing in terms of food in a few respects. If you are vegetarian there isn't much for you - we are not but there were a few in the group, not complainers but I felt for them. You need to be prepared to eat foods that might not be recommended for travelers - fresh fruits, fresh and cold cooked vegetables, and ice were all served to us! We ate everything and had no issues, but if you are nervous or have a sensitive stomach perhaps not for you. Everyone got a bottle of water and a small glass of coke (with ice) - rum was offered for the coke. After the fruit and salad with a kind of dry local cracker bread we were served a roast chicken (mild spice - tasty but dry), boiled or steamed potato, and rice and beans (also tasty but dry!). Cans of local sodas and beer were offered too. Dessert was a small slice of bread pudding (yummy) and Cuban coffee (kind of like espresso) with rum again if you wished, and/or sugar (no milk). There was live music (great) and the setting is beautiful. The other stops were for a rest area, an overlook with view and a kind of huge strange mural (each had tourist bars, snacks for sale, and souvenirs). Finally the rum factory was not in production when we were there so we instead went for a short visit to Vinales town center - not as much of a tourist area as old Havana and really cool. You could eat/drink, shop, visit the church or cultural center that had some local art, or sit in the square. We really loved the whole day and felt we saw and learned a lot about Cuba for a short one day visit. We were too exhausted for any evening activities, but there was certainly time to do that too. We had shore excursion credits and a ship credit so that made the excursion more affordable, but it was still a pricey addition. We are happy we did it anyway. My final observation is that I have never been on a cruise where I felt the crew (and especially cruise director, who was adorable) cared more about the guests having fun and enjoying themselves. I was truly not expecting it and really each staff member we dealt with was smiling, pleasant, professional, and most of all caring. Good for NCL and would definitely make us consider them for another trip. Debarkation was also a breeze. We kept our bags and were able to get down the elevators and off the ship to the waiting rental car shuttle with no stairs or steps or stops except to scan our cruise cards a final time and show passports. There was a short line at passport control that moved well. We had our rental car and were on the road by 8 am! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We had an issue with the temperature of our Cabin being way too hot. We couldn't even stand to take showers and get ready at night as it was too hot. We called to have it fixed and 5-6 hours later nothing had been done. No one ... Read More
We had an issue with the temperature of our Cabin being way too hot. We couldn't even stand to take showers and get ready at night as it was too hot. We called to have it fixed and 5-6 hours later nothing had been done. No one seemed to care and the lady that answered our call was rude to us. Customer Service dropped the ball. The food was not the greatest. Average to poor I would say. On the day of our shore excursion, literally as we are about to walk off of the ship in a line to go on our shore excursion they tell us we have to purchase another one for our son. Excursion was for classic car tour and they had told us when we booked it over the phone we only needed one. When inquiring and telling the employee on the ship that I was not paying this and that it was their mistake she was extremely rude in the beginning. Later she did remove the charge after we had an argument over who was in the wrong. This trip was for our son's Graduation and in a nutshell it was a HUGE disappointment. We will not choose Norwegian for any future cruises! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
i have been on this ship in 2010 and enjoyed my time on it very much i have been on 17 cruises my 3rd time on this ship Embarkation sucked they have a 3rd rate terminal in Miami with little to no air conditioning and they were having a ... Read More
i have been on this ship in 2010 and enjoyed my time on it very much i have been on 17 cruises my 3rd time on this ship Embarkation sucked they have a 3rd rate terminal in Miami with little to no air conditioning and they were having a Coast Guard inspection which delayed getting on the ship Once on the ship everything went very well very comfortable well staffed great service and great food in the dinning room not the buffet which sucked big time we had an outside cabin clean and good use of space about 149 square feet dinning in one of the 2 main dinning rooms was excellent the buffet was not good service very good very nice mix of people on the cruise very few kids for me Cuba was a waste of time we took the history tour long and boring very nice set sail party one of the best i have seen the drinks were included that was very nice also i was surprised not to see anyone abuse it very nice group of passengers Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was only our second cruise so we are definitely newbies. Embarkation was smooth and easy. We had our stateroom by 13:45. Very nice, spacious and clean. Well appointed with a powerful shower. Great cabin steward,Richard. Every ... Read More
This was only our second cruise so we are definitely newbies. Embarkation was smooth and easy. We had our stateroom by 13:45. Very nice, spacious and clean. Well appointed with a powerful shower. Great cabin steward,Richard. Every meal we ate, whether from the buffet or restaurants was delicious with great choices. The staff could not have been more pleasant, attentive and friendly. Each of the shows in the theatre were very good and professional as were the musicians in the various bars. We will definitely cruise NCL again. Now for the warning from our experience. We are Scottish. We booked our cruise through a reputable High Street Travel Agent. Port Canaveral to Key West and then Havana. After we booked the cruise we were informed that we would need a tourist travel visa to enter Cuba. This obviously is a legal requirement so there was no argument there. We went back to the travel agent to arrange the visas and literature they had stated we had to book a shore excursion to show this was a ‘cultural’ visit and we were to keep a log of our activities for five years. The excursion had to be booked through NCL and they would keep said log or with a “government approved “ agent. This was because we were travelling from a USA port and returning to USA. But of course we are travelling on UK passports. I questioned the need to book a shore excursion as I would be in possession of a visa allowing me to legally enter the country but NCL staff would not allow us ashore unless we booked an excursion. I found this hard to believe. The travel agent phoned NCL who confirmed a shore excursion was required. I did my own research online but found many conflicting pieces of advice. The week before the cruise my wife phoned NCL who once again stated that an excursion was indeed required. The truth is none of the excursions particularly attracted us. Eventually we reluctantly booked the ‘Rum and Cigars ‘ tour at a cost of £150 (@$199). The day before the excursion we attended an onboard information input from the shore excursion manager. During the talk he was specifically asked the question if passengers could disembark without having a shore excursion and just do your own thing. The answer- YES! I was furious. I immediately went to Customer Services, explained our situation (through gritted teeth I must say) and the lady could not have been nicer. We received a full refund in cash. The problem the next day was that having done no research on Havana we wandered aimlessly and probably didn’t see very much of the place. In fact our visit was spoiled by this. I have absolutely no doubt that NCL were not intentionally giving out false information but it would appear they are giving inaccurate information. So take it from someone who has just been there. You don’t need to book a shore excursion and that applies to US citizens too ( although you are required to keep a log of your visit). Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because the time fit perfectly for our family of 8 to go to Havana, Cuba. Because we live in Orlando, we cruised out of Port Canaveral, which was easy for us. We parked in the cruise port garage for $18/day. There ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the time fit perfectly for our family of 8 to go to Havana, Cuba. Because we live in Orlando, we cruised out of Port Canaveral, which was easy for us. We parked in the cruise port garage for $18/day. There is an offsite parking for $10/day which uses a shuttle. . BEFORE you go, make sure you have filled out all documentation with regard to the Visa you will need for Cuba. Contact your travel agent or Norwegian prior to going to ensure all paperwork is in order. TAKE U.S. DOLLARS! No credit cards can be used in Cuba. You will not get any Internet either. You will need to change money in Cuba. You are not supposed to take any Cuban Pesos home with you. Some people say you should convert to Euros, then convert to pesos in Cuba, which may be a little cheaper than paying the U.S./Cuba conversion rates, just more of a hassle. ALSO - look below to see my info on HAVANA EXCURSIONS! It may save you a lot of money! . BRING - a simple lanyard (especially for children) to hold your key card. If you don't have pockets or carry a purse, you can hang it around your neck. . BRING - some type of YETI tumbler. The cups and glasses are very small. It's great for a big cup of coffee, tea, or to keep water. (Bottled water costs money on the boat.) . BOARDING the Norwegian Sun was pretty easy. Allow one hour. We finally walked onto the ship at 1:45 and, although we were told our cabins might not be ready until 3:00, they were ready when we boarded. If you are hungry, GO GET FOOD as soon as you board because they shut down the buffet at 2:00 so everyone will go on deck for the lifeboat drill. . LIFE BOAT DRILL - DON'T line up too early. We waited 30 minutes in extreme heat until the drill began at 3:15. (It was supposed to start at 3:00) You don't need your life vests. The briefing was very liberal. If you were in the back, it would be hard to see the crew member performing the briefing. . BEVERAGES - All are free except bottled water, specialty coffee drinks, and alcohol upgrades. . FOODS - I'm not much of a foodie but everyone seemed to enjoy the buffet. The regular freestyle restaurants were unremarkable. Many people said the steak house was fantastic, but that is an upgraded charge. I also heard the Sushi restaurant was wonderful. . ENTERTAINMENT - The comedian was very funny. However, BE WARNED - the nighttime show was NOT appropriate for kids OR for young adults sitting with their grandmother! LOL! . MASSAGE - 4 of us had massages. I'd opt for the regular massage - not the bamboo or hot stone. We are used to getting massages, but did not like these 2 other options. ALSO, - arrive at least 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork so you get the entire time you pay for. The 1+15 massage I paid for was only 1 hour. Also, an 18% tip is included in the bill. Don't feel bad about not purchasing the items your masseuse wants you to buy. They will really pressure you, but don't give in if you don't want them. (This is the same stuff every cruise line sells.) . DISEMBARKING/EMBARKING - in Key West and Havana. Don't bother waiting in line for a "pass" to get off the ship. Sometimes the wait for the pass is longer than the wait to get off the ship. Everyone was able to get off, in both ports, within 30 minutes. In Key West, the line waiting for the trams to take you into the city was about 15 minutes long. In Havana, I was told that you cannot bring gifts into the country. I don't know if this is true, however your bag is screened entering the country. Returning from either port, you cannot bring any food items (snacks) or drinks (bottled water) back onto the ship. If you do, it will be taken and given to you either the last night of the cruise, or the morning of arrival back into Port Canaveral. As a side note, you can purchase coffee, cigars, and rum, as well as souvenirs in Cuba. Of course, the rum will be taken and returned. . KEY WEST - We've been there many times so didn't tour. We got off the ship just to go to the famous KINO Shoe Factory - Which closes at 5:30 - sometimes earlier - Island Time! :) . HAVANA - Okay, so here's the deal! Norwegian will pressure/scare you to purchase excursion packages from them stating that you could be in violation of the law if you do not follow strict OFAC guidelines, which Norwegian says they follow. When I googled the rules and regulations and called the US State Department, the information was sketchy and unclear. Since the new regulations just went into effect in November 2017, I don't think they have figured it out! Here is what I can tell you from the US State Department, and from my experience: You can book a private tour from a reputable company based in Cuba. These companies follow all guidelines set forth by OFAC and the Cuban Government. They know where you can and can't go, and what you can and can't do. You MUST document everything you do, what you spend, who you talk with, what you buy, and where you eat. Save all receipts. I made a written "log" for my family and kept notes of every place we visited, as well as all the other information. Photos will help with date/time stamping. You MUST keep this log for FIVE (5) years. The cruise line told everyone that we were free to walk unescorted around Havana, but only if the time we were NOT escorted was LESS than the time we WERE escorted. The reason we used a private company (Cuban Trip Compass) was because the prices of the excursions were totally cost prohibitive for our group of 8. For example, the price for one person to go with a Norwegian excursion to the Tropicana Night Club (which I highly recommend - if you like big musical shows with dancing), was $200. That would have cost our group $1600.00. We got a private air-conditioned Mercedes Benz Microbus WITH a driver AND a tour guide for $550.00 from 9am until mid-nite! We each paid $85 for a ticket to the Night Club. We decided where and when we went, and our wonderful English speaking guide shared so much information about his country. This was STILL cheaper than going through the cruise line AND we had a driver for the entire day to do everything that everyone else was doing - without the crowd! We drove around the Havana seawall, visited Fusterland, the Copacabana, Hemingway's House, the river, drove through neighborhoods, National Square, the Cemetary, a couple churches, the Cigar Factory, which also sold Rum, and walked through Old Havana. We went back to the ship for dinner, then met our guide again at 9:30 for the 30 minute drive to the Tropicana Night Club. I hope you enjoy your voyage!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was my first cruise. And I wanted to see Cuba which was on my bucket list. I took a chance and wasn't disappointed. I loved every moment of the cruise. We want to go on another cruise soon. Cuba was fun and our tour guides were ... Read More
This was my first cruise. And I wanted to see Cuba which was on my bucket list. I took a chance and wasn't disappointed. I loved every moment of the cruise. We want to go on another cruise soon. Cuba was fun and our tour guides were very nice. The beach was also a lot of fun. For my first cruise I can't ask for more. Met a lot of nice cruisers and friendly people on board. There was a white party. It was really lovely. We also spent a lot of time in the casino. The food could have been a little better in the general dining but when we found out about the fine dining we didn't care any longer. The booze was good and the bartenders were very friendly. Disembarking from the ship was very simple. Everything was well organized. I loved this cruise. Will be back. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I wanted to write my own review as I had seen many negative comments. I really enjoyed my experience and was very impressed with the staff on board. We arrived at the port early ahead of our scheduled check-in time, but had not problem ... Read More
I wanted to write my own review as I had seen many negative comments. I really enjoyed my experience and was very impressed with the staff on board. We arrived at the port early ahead of our scheduled check-in time, but had not problem getting checked in. Norwegian did a terrific job, we waited only 20 minutes max, and they our visas waiting on us when we got our room keys too. We had to wait an hour or so, until the rooms were ready, so we hit up the buffet and got some drinks. This wasn't a problem, we had time to check out the ship, and eat some food. Night one we just grabbed some dinner and we attended the intro-show in the theater. The comedian was hilarious on the ship, and we saw him an additional 2 times after that first night. We woke up in Cuba. Thanks to attending the show the night before, they recommended waking up early to see us arrive in Cuba. I did this and it was worth doing. It was very cool. Disembarking was a bit difficult in Cuba, but Norwegian did a good job. Immigration was taking awhile, but Norwegian had drinks available and their staff did a great job keeping people happy and laughing. I think it took about an hour total to get through customs. We took the Ernest Hemingway tour and I would recommend that. Our tour guide was tremendous, and it turned out to be more of a tour of Cuba than anything else. She even took us to a cigar and rum store that I would not have found on my own. The tour was great, only suggestion I would have is to eat before. The day at sea was fine. I think they slow down the speed of the boat significantly as it was more of a cruise than anything. We spent most of the day by the pool, which was obviously the place to be. If you want to be next to the pool get there early. We found a spot up one deck overlooking the pool, but next to a seldom used bar. Had a great time doing nothing and listening to the live music. The private island in the Bahamas was very nice. We decided to not sign up for an excursion and kind of glad we did that. We rented snorkel gear (you can bring your own) and just asked the lifeguard where to snorkel. Got to see multiple rays, a barracuda, and countless fish. One of the highlights of the trip. I would also recommend walking a bit when you first get there. Go left, and walk until the sidewalk runs out. No one goes over there and you may have a little area all to yourself. Disembarking was very easy. Customs was maybe 10-15 minutes. Norwegian was tremendous again. In conclusion: Our room was always clean. We never had an empty glass in our hand. I maybe counted 10 kids the entire time. The boat was old, but not gross or dingy. The entertainment was hilarious and a ton of fun. I looked forward to the shows and games every night. Cuba was something I will never forget visiting. I cant say enough about how enjoyable this all ways. There will always be some people who like to sit at a keyboard and complain, but ignore them. (One lady asked her steak be returned one night, because it was "too rare" when she asked for rare.) You'll have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We had the Pegasus suite which was large and wonderful. Very out of date however. The hot tub on the back deck was great, bed very comfortable, ship built in 1991 so it's dated. The food was HORRENDOUS...how you can screw up a ... Read More
We had the Pegasus suite which was large and wonderful. Very out of date however. The hot tub on the back deck was great, bed very comfortable, ship built in 1991 so it's dated. The food was HORRENDOUS...how you can screw up a buffet is a mystery but it was lacking in not only quality, but variety.The dining rooms were soso, food ok, portions petite. The private restaurants were great however. Cagneys was delicious, Il Addagio good, the sushi bar was fantastic, just be prepared to wait over an hour to get your food, the help was overwhelmed. We also we charged for phone calls we never made ( in the port of Havana where there is NO service!) and for service fees that were supposed to be included. While the concierge staff was friendly and attentive, they lacked the resources to really make it a 5star experience. Our escort onto the boat left us in the lurch with hot, irritated guests who we pushed passed to get on the boat, same experience leaving. They really need dedicated embarkation and debaration doors for suite customers, it was embarrasing to push by folks that had been waiting in line for a long period of time. We have cruised Holland America ( our fav), Viking, and Princess...would NOT go back on Norwegin. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We just returned from the Havana cruise on Norwegian Sun. We loved this cruise. The ship is small...only 1900 passengers. We never had to wait in line for anything. The ship offered free alcoholic drinks and we didn't have to ever ... Read More
We just returned from the Havana cruise on Norwegian Sun. We loved this cruise. The ship is small...only 1900 passengers. We never had to wait in line for anything. The ship offered free alcoholic drinks and we didn't have to ever wait for a drink! You could get as many drinks a day as you want and you never have to show your card. The first port is Key West but only from 3:00-8:30... The next day is cruising and you get into Havana at 6:00 am. We chose to book our excursions through the ship. The morning tour was a bus tour through Old Havana....excellent. They drop you off right by th ship in Old Havana so we walked around...shopped a bit. We were able to buy our rum and cigars using American money. You can purchase them in the cruise terminal using US dollars for the exact same prices as the shops....very cheap. A bottle of Havana Club rum is $8 and Chiba cigars were $8-10 a piece. Our next tour was an $8:00 pm tour to the Tropicana...show actually starts at 10pm and over at midnight. This was awesome! The gave everyone a cigar and a bottle of rum per couple...or table of 4. The show was fantastic..our most favorite show ever! All in all I loved this cruise and we have been on many cruises through the years...I highly recommend! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise line solely because of destination. CUBA!!! Food and service were mediocre. Cuba was very interesting. We will return to Cuba. Port security and cruise personnel in port were buffoons. Cruise line confiscated a bottle ... Read More
We chose this cruise line solely because of destination. CUBA!!! Food and service were mediocre. Cuba was very interesting. We will return to Cuba. Port security and cruise personnel in port were buffoons. Cruise line confiscated a bottle of cream liqueur at the beginning of trip. When we tried to get it back at the end, no one knew where it was!!!! Like...they never confiscated booze before??? left terminal without it. Morons. While boarding ship in Cuba they allowed everyone to keep they're booze. So it was ok to keep the rum and drink on board then... but not from the first port. Can anyone explain that? Service was sad. Cold lobster and no drawn butter served with meal. Several dishes were below par. Cheaper wine was substituted for special menu wines. Zero service on deck at poolside. Mobs of kids in jacuzzis. Female band singer sounded like a cat in heat. Typical stinky casino. Cabin should have bed 2 inches higher so you can slide suitcase under. Poor design. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Main objective of this vacation was to visit Cuba. We decided to maximize this experience by taking back-to-back cruises, the 4 night Key West + Cuba, and the 5 night Cuba + Cozumel cruises. This was our first time at doing ... Read More
Main objective of this vacation was to visit Cuba. We decided to maximize this experience by taking back-to-back cruises, the 4 night Key West + Cuba, and the 5 night Cuba + Cozumel cruises. This was our first time at doing back-to-back cruises. Both being on the Majesty of the Seas, our group booked the same rooms on both cruises. This made for a smooth process. We were able to leave most of our belongings in the room between cruises, just carrying anything off the boat that we might need (meds, sunscreen, swim suits) between disembarking and re-embarking the boat, and time the rooms were made available again. We were first to arrive poolside. Majesty of the Seas is one of RCCL's smaller ships. We were familiar with it from a past cruise. The food, drinks, service were all good, just as on other RCCL ships we have been on. Entertainment was good, especially Craig A Meyer and his Almost Elton John show. Props also go to the juggler/comedian. Loved our Cuba excursions: Best of Havana, Historic Walking Tour, and the Tropicana show. Guides were great, very informative about life in Cuba, and the changes they have been going through. We didn't do a planned tour in Key West (from first leg of our back-to-back cruises), as we had recently been there. In Cozumel, we had self-booked Trikes-Cozumel (see on Facebook), and toured the coastline on their three-wheel motorcycles. Their guides ride ahead of us, and direct us to beautiful sites. The tour included a stop at Tequilera Reyes, where we had a Tequila tasting and informative presentation on their process of making Tequila. Loved this tour! The bikes were easy to operate (automatic transmission), and are comfortable for driver and passenger. Our outside view cabin was a bit small, but adequate. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Never thought we would ever be able to visit Cuba, so took advantage of this 5 day cruise while we could! Havana was so interesting and tour guides provided lots of info and history. We went in June and it was hot and humid. We were there ... Read More
Never thought we would ever be able to visit Cuba, so took advantage of this 5 day cruise while we could! Havana was so interesting and tour guides provided lots of info and history. We went in June and it was hot and humid. We were there overnight., so had two days to see Old Havana. Saw many points of interest by bus, did walking tour in Old Havana, experienced cigars, rum, and coffee, had delicious meal at Paladar Los Mercaderes. The old cars were a treat! Tours were through Royal Caribbean and were great! Modern A/C tour buses. Guides were excellent. University educated (free) and natives of Cuba. Spoke several languages. People very friendly! Ship was better than expected! Old but recently refurbished Majesty of the Seas. Entertainment was great, Staff was excellent, friendly and attentive. If you want to see Havana, strongly recommend this cruise! Also went to Cozamel, but that was a shopping port. We had already seen Mayan ruins, so didn't do anyting but shop and have lunch there. BY the way, many businesses take dollars in Havana! Would definitely go back to Havana! Would stay longer. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was my first cruise and I could never dream of a better experience. I slept like a baby in their awesome comfortable beds with unbelievable bedding. The room was so nice and dark and cool. I would go back just to have 5 nights of ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I could never dream of a better experience. I slept like a baby in their awesome comfortable beds with unbelievable bedding. The room was so nice and dark and cool. I would go back just to have 5 nights of wonderful sleep. Absolutely everything was fantastic. The service was top notch. All service people were so willing to make all accommodations to keep everyone happy. The shore excursions were delightful and Cuba was amazing. Food: the windjammer dining area had everything you could imagine for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had some kind of soup every day for lunch and they were always delicious. After taking the Galley Tour, I found out that absolutely everything on the ship is made from scratch-even the breads. Nothing is served which has been frozen. Even hamburgers are made from fresh ground beef-no frozen icky patties. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose MSC as they were the only line to depart from Cozumel, a short journey from where we live in Mexico. Having trawled through a lot of quite negative reviews, we were not expecting an especially great experience in Armonia, but ... Read More
We chose MSC as they were the only line to depart from Cozumel, a short journey from where we live in Mexico. Having trawled through a lot of quite negative reviews, we were not expecting an especially great experience in Armonia, but were very pleasantly surprised. The food is very good, the service excellent and the staff friendly and attentive. The ship is 65000 tonnes and has quite a cosmopolitan feel with a variety of nationalities of crew and passengers. We had an ocean view cabin which was clean and roomy enough for our needs. The cabin service was excellent, usually cleaned and tidied twice a day. Most evenings we chose the Marco Polo dining room, which had a very pleasant and varied 3 course menu every evening. The wines included in the "all inclusive" package were very drinkable and included 2 reds, 2 whites, sparkling and pudding wines. Service was very attentive and we did not have a single poor dish. The breakfast buffet was very nice - a good selection of fruit, cereal and cooked breakfast. On the few occasions we had lunch on the ship, the buffet was well stocked and the pizza and burger bars were very convenient. The entertainment team were fun and welcoming without being pushy, and the evening entertainment was OK too. Some of the musical acts were a little amateurish, although still enjoyable, and the burlesque/circus/gymnastic acts very good. We did not book any tours through the ship, as we prefer to do our own research and book our own tours. We enjoyed some fun tours in Havana, Montego Bay and Grand Cayman. Overall a great cruising experience with a very welcoming crew, great food and fun entertainment. The all inclusive drinks package is definitely worth it. We would definitely cruise with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My first cruise in June '18 - booked late - within 3 wks of departure, through Iglu. Travelled with my sister whose husband was unfortunately unable to go with her due to illness - hence late booking, Sister is seasoned ... Read More
My first cruise in June '18 - booked late - within 3 wks of departure, through Iglu. Travelled with my sister whose husband was unfortunately unable to go with her due to illness - hence late booking, Sister is seasoned 'cruiser', having been on at least half a dozen - one of which had been with MSC in the Med. Having read various reviews both before & after, I have to say I was more than happy with this cruise - my first. Ignoring TAS ('Trip Advisor Syndrome') I would recommend this cruise to anyone. Fantastic Western Caribbean/Central American itinerary, esp.commencing & ending in Havana (on my 'bucket-list'). I had always wanted to go on a cruise but had some concerns about it possibly being a tad stuffy or too formal (Captain's table etc). Another misconception was that It might be claustrophobic & possibly boring. No worries there either. We had cabin 9244 (Oceanview Fantastica) which was surprisingly spacious & definitely worth paying a little extra for the ocean view - so great to wake up to a new & interesting vista each morning, Kept spotlessly clean. Plenty to do onboard & I particularly enjoyed the various dance tasters like Kizomba, Bachata, Merengue, Salsa etc. Would have appreciated talks/historical & background info on the ports of call or perhaps film nights but I can appreciate that this could prove difficult given the multi-national nature of the customers. I really liked the mix of all ages & also nationalities, & trying to resurrect my poor Spanish & Italian language skills. Although we were some of the few Brits on board, all the other ones we met were truly lovely & great company - especially at our restaurant table, Although the Pool deck was usually busy & active there was no shortage of quiet & restful nooks & crannies where you could relax, both inside, in one of the many air conned spacious lounges, or on deck, in both sun or shade. Only negatives were with the booking process itself but perhaps allowances should be made as it was so last-minute. Was bombarded by unnecessary emails - swamped with a bewildering amount of often conflicting information. This is an area that really needs to improve - website & booking process both. Probably wasn't helped by the fact that we were using 3rd parties such as Iglu so scope for confusion increased greatly eg hard to remember who you were meant to be dealing with ie pre-booked excursions with one outfit but had to pre-book drinks packages with another. Have to say that we sometimes read/were told (on the phone) conflicting, or downright inaccurate information. This is the only area that seriously needs to improve in my opinion. It proved a real disincentive to me as a potentially keen cruise customer. Having successfully negotiated my way through this administrative nightmare, I really felt as though I needed a holiday! But these gripes apart - no 'whingeing Pom' here... Couldn't fault another thing. Food excellent - both in Restaurant & Buffet. Literally something for everyone & very easy to eat healthily too. Very impressed that the restaurant gave Healthy Choices recommendations with calorific values & nutritional information. (Not to say that I necessarily followed these ;-) Could even have porridge (my favourite) for breakfast, bearing in mind this ship has a mainly Mediterranean clientele. Overlooked it for the first few days as it's described as 'Oatmeal' (in the American style) on the English menu so I had imagined muesli or similar. One small thing - Buffet coffee (in all-inclusive) often pretty cold but this improved towards the end of our stay. Authentic Italian freshly baked pizza from Pool Deck's Pizza Bar was a huge hit with everyone & was certainly delicious when I tasted it. Staff & service pleasant, attentive & helpful but not intrusive. They all work so hard - this really should not be underestimated. I saw some downright offensive & completely unreasonable behaviour towards the staff on a couple of occasions - which were handled beautifully. It really beggars belief what some people decide to complain about - bitterly to the staff (eg the pool being 'far too quiet very early in the morning' & 'why was nobody swimming in it then?'). If you are determined to be miserable I'm sure you will succeed, but then I wouldn't bother going on a cruise if I were you. My first, and I certainly hope not my last, MSC Cruise. Highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The first truth about Cuba: GO. It’s fun and wonderful. The people are great. You can and should book independent tours. Exploring on your own is NOT limited and is encouraged. The Paperwork There are two important pieces of ... Read More
The first truth about Cuba: GO. It’s fun and wonderful. The people are great. You can and should book independent tours. Exploring on your own is NOT limited and is encouraged. The Paperwork There are two important pieces of paperwork. The first and easiest ifs the Cuba tourist card. Cruise lines charge $75 for this, most if not all of which goes to Cuba. They give you the blank form at cruise check-in. You fill it out. Cuba checks it once. The second, more intimidating, piece of paper work is compliments of the US Government. It’s an affidavit that states why you’re going to Cuba. It’s an exercise in futility and keeping some bureaucrats’ job in DC. Because our government says we can’t go to Cuba for tourism, you have to indicate why you’re going. You have to select one of 12 reasons. NOBODY LOOKS. NOBODY CARES. NOBODY ENFORCES IT. Go and have a good time. The form is collected at check in for the cruise. You’ll never see or hear about the affidavit again. Most people select option 1 or 8 on the affidavit. But again, it’s a US Government waste of paper. Cuba and Cubans are glad that you’re there spending money. Ditto for the cruise line. Please complete this form but don’t think twice about it. You CAN go out and about in Cuba on your own without any limitations. You DO NOT need to book tours through the cruise line or any other company. These are huge myths that seem to stem from the lengthy, verboten affidavit. A sample copy of the affidavit is here, but you’ll probably want to get one with your cruise line’s logo: https://www.carnival.com/~/media/CCLUS/PDFs/OnlineCheckIn/Guest-Affidavit-0413%20pdf The Cuban Arrival Process Cuba is like any other Caribbean port with ONE exception: they check and stamp your passport. You can get off and wander around as you please. Cuban authorities check your passport and want to see that you paid the $75 for a visitor pass…but there are NO LIMITS as to getting off the ship without prepaid or prearranged tours. It’s like any other port. Don’t let anyone tell you have to book long, expensive tours through the cruise line, sanctioned company or government. It’s not true. We booked our Cuba tours online (but didn’t pay for them until after the tour). Our car, driver and guide were waiting for us as promised and were thrilled to see us. Some passengers had their Cuban tourist cards collected by the Cuban authorities. Others did not. This caused concern among those who wanted to get off again and didn’t have the visitor card. Again, it was a non-issue. They check to see that your passport was stamped and you’re free to go. The Money Changing money is Cuba is a necessary evil. The currency the tourists use is the CUC (pronounced “kook”). It is pegged to the US dollar, so the exchange rate is 1 to 1. All currencies have a 3% charge. US dollars have an additional 10% charge. Bring Canadian, British or European coins if you can to exchange to avoid the 10% charge. There are currency exchanges in the terminal. The line can be long but it moves quickly. You can also exchange money at banks or other currency exchanges. There is another currency used primarily by the Cubans for their personal needs. This is the CUP and the exchange rate is 25 CUPs to $1. There was no need for this currency, but make sure you don’t get change in CUPs when you’re paying with CUCs. The CUC bills have pictures of monuments of them. The CUP bills have pictures of people on them. If you end up with extra CUCs at the end of your trip, be sure to exchange them back while in Cuba, or save them for friends going to Cuba. And unlike many Caribbean ports, it’s difficult (perhaps illegal) to use US dollars in Cuba. Some vendors say you can pay in either US$ or CUCs. But all seem to prefer CUCs. Medical Insurance Another non-issue is the required Cuban medical insurance. Cruise lines include this insurance in their port taxes, which is very convenient. I don’t know how effective this insurance is, but it satisfies the requirement. If you search the cruise line’s FAQs, there’s usually a question addressing it Here is NCL’s Cuba page and their response (HAL’s is similar): https://www.ncl.com/cruise-faq/cuba-travel “Is medical insurance required? All travelers to Cuba must show proof of Cuba approved medical insurance. This medical insurance will be included in the price of your cruise fare.” Docking in Havana The approach into forbidden Cuba is scenic and very emotional for many. You’ll drift by many forts, the malecón, El Christo de la Havana and dock conveniently in Old Havana at the Sierra Maestra terminal. There are three terminals: two are falling apart, the one you dock at is in good shape. Walking out of the terminal and across the busy street is San Francisco square. An easy and fun walk through Old Havana takes you to the capital building that is under constant non-renovation. You’ll have a sense of déjà vu looking at it. If you’re looking for a vintage car tour, there are many waiting by the Russian church close by the terminal. The major shopping market in Havana is also close by the Russian church. It was closed when we were there because of an electrical fire, but it was supposed to re open quickly. Others seem to think nothing happens quickly in Cuba. Out and about in Cuba Out and about in Cuba is a lot of fun. Those that took the long “approved” cruises from this ship felt that they were not good value. We booked a vintage car, driver, and guide for $80 for two hours. It was PERFECT. We then wandered around old-town on our own, stopping frequently in the historic squares for drinks. We found the Cubans a very proud people who almost always spoke very highly of their country, especially those working in the tourist trade. But some we met on the streets were not so complimentary. The art of the networking payoff is alive, well and open in Cuba. Tour guides and people you meet on the street are happy to show you places for food, drink, cigars and rum. They expect and get a cut from these establishments. Most Cubans don’t have much; so there is a fair amount of begging in the streets, but none, thankfully, is too aggressive. Cuba is very safe; as there are severe penalties for messing with tourists. US Customs In coming back to the US from Cuba, it’s like any other cruise. Customs and Border Patrol DON’T CARE why or that you went to Cuba. They don’t care what you bought. You can bring back 100 cigars and a liter of alcohol—just like other ports. If you’re carrying a keg of rum off the ship they might question you, but otherwise it’s like any other cruise inspection: a non issue! The Ship It's older and smaller, but space is used wisely and comfortably on the public decks. Holland America has a sophisticated and wonderful daily activity program. The partnerships with America's Test Kitchen, BBC Earth and Microsoft make for a lot of fun and educational activities during the day. Their port talks are also good in that they don't just steer you to places to shop. Holland America's happy hours, where the second drink is only $2. add unusual value in the bar department. This is NOT a high-tech ship. The $160-$200 14 day internet option was fairly priced, but I was constantly disconnected. Many cruise lines offer their daily news letters and account information online complimentary through the ships wi-fi. Holland America's Explorer was the first that actually worked beautifully. There is also a free chat feature where you can text others on board (that actually worked). There's no setting I could find for an audio signal that I message was received though. Dining Dining was better than I remembered on Holland America in both the dining room and buffet. The quality AND variety was a notch above other mainline cruises. The salad bar and the Asian sections were my favorites in the buffet. The dining room menu was always varied and interesting. The wait staff was attentive. Most nights, the buffet menu was similar to the dining room menu. I found the wines too expensive for my taste. The two for-fee restaurants were only fair. The Italian restaurant is a partitioned off part of the buffet area. There wasn't much special about it. The steak house offered a good steak but little else. Service was good but not fabulous. The wine list was crazy expensive, and I got some attitude from the wine steward when I requested a wine not on the restaurant's wine list. The steak house turns into a seafood place occasionally, which I would have loved to try. Entertainment This is where Holland America sorely lacked. A couple of OK comedians. The ship's production numbers were just okay as well. The performers worked hard and did a decent job, but they weren't given a lot to work with. The ships orchestra was outstanding. The South American electric harpist was excellent, but I had already seen her on other cruise ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018

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