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1,939 Cuba Cruise Reviews

After reading so many negative things about this cruise, we were constantly surprised by the quality of the trip. The size of the ship was perfect for such an important destination. We chose this cruise because of the number of ports ... Read More
After reading so many negative things about this cruise, we were constantly surprised by the quality of the trip. The size of the ship was perfect for such an important destination. We chose this cruise because of the number of ports visited in Cuba. It did not disappoint. It only wet our appetite for another visit to this amazing island nation. And we're glad we went when we did. The people and culture will begin to change quickly. It's a sleeping culture with lots of entrepreneurs just waiting for the chance to take off. The staff was amazing, the ship was clean and just the right size. Had all amenities on a limited scale. And the beverage package and shore excursions included were great. The required cultural lectures were an added bonus. The young PhD from the University of Havana was extremely knowledgeable and open to all our questions. The entertainers (all Cubans) were amazing. So talented. And the music performed by the orchestra was perfect. Had lectures on everything from history to cigars, salsa dancing to economics. We found the food to be good and plentiful. Only a dining room and buffet, but both open for breakfast lunch and dinner. Also pasta bar and hamburgers set up poolside. The chef was Jamaican so that affected the selections. Some definitely had jerk seasoning. Enjoyed the chance to be with fellow passengers while dining. But enjoyed a table for 2 at dinner. Came to trust our waiter for his pick of the menu. He never steered us wrong. The passenger mix was amazing. Canadians, Europeans (with lots from northern Europe), Caribbean islanders, Mexicans, and very few US citizens. We all had the common interest in discovering this fascinating culture. Lots of ribbing about our recent election. Made some good friends. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We had planned this cruise for 10 months prior as a Christmas trip with 6 of our good friends and stayed two days in Montego Bay, Jamaica before embarking at the Port there. I had never been on a cruise before and I have to say my ... Read More
We had planned this cruise for 10 months prior as a Christmas trip with 6 of our good friends and stayed two days in Montego Bay, Jamaica before embarking at the Port there. I had never been on a cruise before and I have to say my expectations were greatly exceeded as I had the most amazing time . My husband and I had a balcony cabin, which was spacious enough for the two of us , and we were lucky enough to get adjoining balconies to our friends . The cabin was spotless, well maintained and very comfortable . Our house keepers Angela and Adrian were so lovely and couldn't have been more helpful and welcoming. It was a treat to come back to the cabin at nights with a turned down bed and the folded towels and chocolates !! I felt very spoilt ! The entertainment staff Martha, Danny and most of all our lad Vladimir were on the ball and so full of life and lots of fun, it was hard keeping up with them ! They truly made the "Team" Mohammad in the main restaurant was so lovely and friendly , and became part of the family as did Vladimir in Entertainment ! All the staff we came upon from front desk, to duty free, to bar tenders, to crew members, to the wonderful chefs , each and everyone of them did an AMAZING job during our time onboard and we felt very sad to leave as we had, had a truly fantastic time and felt they had become our friends ! The food was yummy, both in the Restaurant and buffet area with an array of different dishes. We never went hungry. We did the all inclusive drinks package which was well worth it , hopefully we didn't drink the ship dry !! The shows in The Muses Lounge area in the evening were fabulous and the dancers and singers are so very talented, we made sure we were there every night to join in the fun. Cuba was beautiful and our excursions were well worth the money, which were included. The tour guides were fabulous also . Overall the whole cruise was well worth the money and so glad we chose this Christmas vacation. Everyone in our group had a truly fabulous time. We would definatly return to Cuba but most of all we would definatly return on The Celeystal Crystal. Thank you for such a memorable trip . Your Bermuda Friends Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Service was good but was not told that the tip of the restaurants in the hotel and paid separately. The ship had a lot of activities, games, dances, shows. Got to eat a lot and well, drinking well as the allegrissimo drinks package. ... Read More
Service was good but was not told that the tip of the restaurants in the hotel and paid separately. The ship had a lot of activities, games, dances, shows. Got to eat a lot and well, drinking well as the allegrissimo drinks package. The ship is very clean. And the sun deck was great! Also concerts and performances were great! Since Christmas was, it was also a corresponding mood board. Tours were incredible and well organized. Internet connection was good. Very proud of the crew of presentation, as well as the presentation of chefs, which was also my honor to be present. Cooks and waiters are there really level, as well as kajuteenijad. Festive clothes are worth to take, because there are a lot of style evenings. Every evening the cabin the next day's program, which is also written dress code. I do not regret that I was in a cruise, I recommend it to all! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I went with a large group of single travelers to Cuba during the Christmas vacation (2016). I will say that the tours and sightseeing were all satisfactory. Loved seeing Havana and 2 other port of calls. I was also pleased that I ... Read More
I went with a large group of single travelers to Cuba during the Christmas vacation (2016). I will say that the tours and sightseeing were all satisfactory. Loved seeing Havana and 2 other port of calls. I was also pleased that I received an upgrade in my cabin. I paid for only an outside cabin but received a very nice upgrade with a balcony. The negatives would be: -this is a small ship and it rocks back and forth, its not Fathom's fault, but please note those that get sea sick beware. -food isnt good. I didnt come for the food and neither should you, but every meal was very bland. I actually lost weight on a cruise -be aware of the internet charges. You will be tricked into getting a deluxe internet package, You wont find this out till the last night when you get your bill. Best not to buy their internet, you will get taken -they (the Spa) will attempt to sell you all sorts of "programs " on your days at sea. Dont buy anything! Everything they try to sell you CAN be bought on ebay for 1/4 the price! So dont go for the food, internet, spa treatments, diet plans and you'll be fine. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Our family group of four spanned the ages of 20 to 86 and we all enjoyed this cruise. We found this small ship to be comfortable with plenty of spaces to socialize or to sit quietly thinking or reading. Our cabins were in good shape, not ... Read More
Our family group of four spanned the ages of 20 to 86 and we all enjoyed this cruise. We found this small ship to be comfortable with plenty of spaces to socialize or to sit quietly thinking or reading. Our cabins were in good shape, not too much wear and tear. The beds were very comfortable and the bathroom quite functional with good water pressure. The food was not top-notch, but was good and plentiful. The dining and cabin staff were excellent - friendly and helpful. This cruise was an ideal way for the 86-year-old (who cannot walk far) to see the island. The land tours included with the cruise were well organized and the guides were pretty good, but not great - these tours allowed us to see quite a lot in a short period of time. We were not interested in the limited entertainment offered - though many passengers did seem to enjoy it. We were most interested in the educational aspects of the trip - learning about Cuba past and present. This was somewhat disappointing as there was no real Cuban scholar aboard to give talks. The activity staff presented a few history/culture talks from scripts, but there was not much depth to their knowledge. We found the island of Cuba to be beautiful and the people very welcoming and friendly. The places we visited were all clean, but it is eye-opening and sad to see the architectural decay and crumbling buildings. We never felt unsafe. The information about the cruise provided on the Fathom website and by the agents manning the Fathom phone lines was contradictory and not all accurate. You are able to self-guide rather than go on the organized land tours, just be prepared that there is minimal guidance from the staff for this. The second day in Havana, we hired a classic car with driver for several hours to take us to places not included in the prior day's tour. This was great fun and I highly recommend doing so. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We choose the cruise because it was essentially the only way we could see Cuba in a family group. That said, we got to see much less of Cuba and much more of the cruise than we hoped. This was through no fault of the cruise however. We ... Read More
We choose the cruise because it was essentially the only way we could see Cuba in a family group. That said, we got to see much less of Cuba and much more of the cruise than we hoped. This was through no fault of the cruise however. We were supposed to spend an afternoon at a snorkle beach (something like Punta Frances) and the Cuban government closed the port so we spent an extra day at sea. We also got into Havana 3 hours later than expected so we did not get to walk around much there either. That said, the cruise did a very nice job attempting to keep us entertained. I cannot say enough about the amazing and sweet percussionist from the Buena Vista Social club named Lazaro. Be sure to visit with him - he will give you lessons! Also loved the band leader Nidia who plays bass and sings like an angel. I got a kick out of the performers who put together some very respectable shows with multiple props and costume changes considering how challenging their acts let alone on a swaying stage. I would also suggest you go to the cooking demonstrations - both Cuban cooks were a delight. The restaurants are way better than the buffet. We loved our waiters - a delightful team from Indonesia - Wayan. They also performed in an incredible crew talent show that they must repeat if possible.I also got a kick out of the dance lessons. Another nice feature were the on board lectures (for example about rum or cigars or music) and films about Cuba they showed. All of the staff was very sweet and our chamber maid was lovely - Dunia also from Cuba. Our kids (ages 6-13) liked the entertainment - the crew was very nice with them playing Wii and teaching them napkin folding, paper flower making, and fruit carving. Mahelys spent time entertaining my daughter and making a souvenir book with her. We liked our excursions to see 2 Cuban cities but again, would have benefited from spending more time on shore and less time on board. Also our toilet was not functioning optimally but the rest of the cabin was fine. Daniel the cruise director was super organized and helpful. Ultimately, it was a very nice family get together with some fantastic music and art on the side. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise line because we are Americans wanting to visit Cuba and at the time this was our best choice. Ship is old, windows were dirty, crew not helpful and unfriendly. Most unfriendly crew we have had in a dozen cruises. I ... Read More
We chose this cruise line because we are Americans wanting to visit Cuba and at the time this was our best choice. Ship is old, windows were dirty, crew not helpful and unfriendly. Most unfriendly crew we have had in a dozen cruises. I want to compliment the house keeping crew, they were extremely friendly and accommodating. Food was good considering only having one restaurant. Our mini suite was comfortable and large but wish we had booked a balcony room instead. Nightly entertainment was very good for size of ship. Cons are the use of plastic bottles every time you wanted water, surely they can have a more environmentally friendly way to serve water. The card swiping system is most irritating and dangerous system since the cards have your cabin number on them. Our cruise destination was modified and we were not able to visit Isla de Juventud. Instead of returning to Havana we were bused to Havana from Cienfuegos. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I was the Group Leader for 18 USA passengers on a People to People tour to Cuba in early January 2017. Most were between 60 and 75 years old. We selected cruising, in part to avoid long, cramped bus rides which would otherwise be needed ... Read More
I was the Group Leader for 18 USA passengers on a People to People tour to Cuba in early January 2017. Most were between 60 and 75 years old. We selected cruising, in part to avoid long, cramped bus rides which would otherwise be needed to see much of Cuba over a week. Celestyal represented we would have stops in Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Punta Frances, and Cienfuegos with their voyage beginning and ending in Montego Bay Jamaica. Once aboard we learned from other passengers (not Celestyal) that Punta Frances had been deleted from the itinerary. Travel there had evidentially been prohibited by the Cuban government months earlier but no advance notice was given to me or members of my group. The company still falsely represents on their website that it is included as part of the trip. Then, the evening we sailed from Montego Bay to Santiago de Cuba, a crew member advised one of my group that it was unlikely we would go to Havana. it was, however, only after departing from Santiago that the ship advised that "technical reasons" linked to bad weather on the north coast of Cuba would preclude our ability to dock in Havana. We were advised that instead we would spend the balance of our trip at the port of Cienfuegos. So much for cruising! The solution Celestyal felt appropriate was to arrange 2 days of bus trips from Cienfuegos to Havana (8 hours of round trip travel time each day) in a bus without a working toilet. They also arranged a bus trip (3 hours round trip and again no working toilet) to the colonial city of Trinidad. The excursion included a welcome drink, a lunch, and a visit to one museum. No offer was made to compensate passengers for the meager, physically challenging, and educationally devoid substitute itineraries offered to replace the cruise we signed up and paid for. All of this said, the ship itself was clean and comfortable, the food was acceptable, and most of the crew did their best to make the best of a bad situation. I attribute the universal belief of my group (and almost certainly the balance of passangers) that they were grossly shortchanged by Celestyal to poor decision-making by company's senior decision-makers and owners. Passengers never did receive a complete and plausible explanation of w docking in Havana (the reason most had come on the voyage to begin with) was not possible. The alternative arrangements offered were worthless. And continuing to advertise an itinerary that includes Punta Frances ought to be illegal if there is no possibility of stopping there. he senior management of Celestyal was tested and found to be lacking. Future visitors to Cuba...forewarned is forearmed. A fish begins to stink at the head and 18 of us just spent a week holding our noses. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
There was a group of 18 of us from the US who wanted to see Cuba before it changes too much. I can remember when I was a little girl and Castro took over. For half a century, we couldn't go to Cuba and it was very isolated. Now ... Read More
There was a group of 18 of us from the US who wanted to see Cuba before it changes too much. I can remember when I was a little girl and Castro took over. For half a century, we couldn't go to Cuba and it was very isolated. Now it's open and it will change quickly. I was pleased that it was a small cruise ship and even more pleased that it wasn't near filled up, resulting in fewer lines and more seating. Our cabin was clean and very well maintained. The food was OK, but not outstanding. We preferred eating at the buffet because there were more options. We didn't have to let them know immediately what we wanted for an appetizer, main course and dessert. Once they found out, the food was brought quickly. I'm a very slow eater and the formal dining room made things happen too fast for me. Because the ship didn't go to Punta Frances or Havana, it wasn't near the experience I had been hoping for. I do understand that the Celestyal had known about not being able to dock at Punta Frances months prior to our cruise, but they had not given any of us that information prior to the cruise. When I found we couldn't go to Havana, but they had arranged bus trips for 2 different days, I thought I'd wait to see how things went the first day before deciding to go on the second day. I heard from some that they were on the bus for 4 hours in each direction, while other told me it was more like 4 1/2 hours in each direction and with a toilet that didn't work. No thanks -- I'll pass. I also heard that the bus returned after dark and that some of the trucks on the road didn't have lights. Also, there are a lot of horse carts on the roads. That's just an accident waiting to happen. Again, no thanks ! ! ! The theater was charming and I enjoyed the seating arrangements. The shows were fine, but I feel those long suspended pieces of material on which they did acrobatic stunts were used too often. The music in the lounge/bar area around cocktail time was always very sad. They had a female piano player and a female violinist. I just don't know why they always felt as though they had to play such slow, sad music -- I just stopped going there. The casino is a joke -- there are 25 various machines to play. I never saw even one passenger in there. Also, I never saw even one person in the swimming pool. Usually it was "closed," but even during the rare moments when it was open, no one used it. I'm retired from Delta Air Lines Sales & Marketing and I used to take travel agents on trips around the world. I can't even remember how many cruises I've been on -- for business and for my own personal pleasure. This was certainly a cruise I won't forget -- the cruise that sorta went nowhere. I'm just sooooo happy we had such a great group of friends. That ended up making it wonderful. I was also very happy to see first hand how happy and friendly the Cuban people are. It was a very pleasant surprise. I didn't know what to expect, but that made me very happy. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
My husband and I jumped at a last minute opportunity to join George Mason University’s week-long cultural cruise around Cuba in January. We joined approximately 500 other passengers who boarded the Celestyal Crystal in Montego Bay, ... Read More
My husband and I jumped at a last minute opportunity to join George Mason University’s week-long cultural cruise around Cuba in January. We joined approximately 500 other passengers who boarded the Celestyal Crystal in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This was our first cruise and we were happy with our outside cabin though not large, with only had two twin beds, also had a small writing desk, wardrobe, and bathroom. We found it worked for us and we were well-cared for by the staff. We enjoyed exploring the amenities found on each of the nine decks, named after Greek gods, and easily accessibly by elevators and stairs fore and aft. Other amenities included the Muses Lounge area where we enjoyed presentations by Professor Jorge Arocha about various aspects of Cuban culture, as well as the nightly entertainment. There was also a vary small pool, a bar, spa, gym, and two restaurants. We preferred eating at the Leda Buffet because it was quicker, but many people liked the chance to sit down and chat during at the more formal Almathia Restaurant. The food was pretty run-of-the-mill, but we had plenty to eat and had not signed on to the cruise for fine dining, we were there to see Cuba! Everything did not go as planned. The Celestyal Crystal was not allowed to dock in Havana due to some combination of high winds and too few berths for ships. After a whirlwind tour of of the historic city center, Morro Castle, San Juan Hill, an African-Cuban cultural center, the Moncada Barracks Museum, and a Bacardi Rum Factory in Santiago de Cuba, we ended up docking in Cienfuegos. The tour company then rented buses to ferry us into Havana where we visited the Jose Marti Museum overlooking Revolution Square, an enjoyed a Cuban meal, and were given 15 minutes in a large covered market. None of this, however, was worth the three and half hour bus ride to and from Cienfuegos. There were some silver linings to this unexpected itinerary change. We had more time on our own to visit the UN Heritage city of Cienfuegos and its environs. We were able to rent vintage old American cars for a trip to Cienfuegos’ Botanical Garden with friends from the cruise where we got a fantastic guide to tell us about the half a dozen different kinds of bamboo, palm and other indigenous plants. Our little group also walked around La Reina Cemetery, a national monument. We also hired a horse drawn taxi for a trip back to the town square to buy rum and cigars. This unexpected adventure was my all-time favorite day of the trip! Another silver lining was a trip to Trinidad, another UNESCO Heritage site, courtesy of our tour company, as a small compensation for not being able to dock in Havana. Once again, we had a great tour guide who told us about the sugar plantations and lead us through the twisting, cobble-stoned streets past pastel colored mansions once owned by slave traders. It was a great place to for street and architectural photography which pleased my husband, and we wished we had more time this enchanting town that wasn’t even on the original itinerary. We enjoyed our introduction to Cuba aboard the Celestyal Crystal in spite of not being able to dock in Havana. The George Mason Cultural Tour was a wonderful experience! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this trip for the experience of cruising around Cuba, enjoying days at sea and admiring the coastline. On arrival in Montego Bay, men started grabbing bags as they were off loaded from the bus before we could get off. The company ... Read More
We chose this trip for the experience of cruising around Cuba, enjoying days at sea and admiring the coastline. On arrival in Montego Bay, men started grabbing bags as they were off loaded from the bus before we could get off. The company did not send out baggage tags ahead of time, we were to get them at the dock. It was scary and frustrating as these men had no identification, no shirts or caps to indicate they were legitimate. After sailing from the first port, Santiago de Cuba, we were advised we had been redirected to Cienfuegos rather than sailing to Havana. We had to endure a 3 1/2 hour bus ride in each direction to visit Havana and this eliminated any free time that the schedule overnight stay would have provided. It was a very long day. The people joining the ship in Havana had a 4 hour bus ride from the airport. We were told this was necessary due to technical difficulties in the port, then it was due to high winds. On our arrival in Havana the MSC Opera was docked and when she left at the end of the day, another vessel pulled in. We believe we were bumped to accommodate a larger vessel that paid more. We spent 4 days at anchor or docked in Cienfuegos, reducing out experience to one of a resort rather than a cruise. It would seem that Cuba is not ready for the influx of vessels interested in visiting Havana. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise because it offered us Americans the chance to see Cuba. We departed from Montego Bay, Jamaica and because we had been to Jamaica before and didn't care for it we didn't do any exploring. The check-in ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it offered us Americans the chance to see Cuba. We departed from Montego Bay, Jamaica and because we had been to Jamaica before and didn't care for it we didn't do any exploring. The check-in process to get on the ship was very efficient and easy and our stateroom was ready for us as soon as we got on board. In fact when we reached our stateroom our luggage was already there. Our cabin service was top notch. The food was just okay, nothing special but again our service was top notch. Due to weather the port of Havana was closed but the ship bent over backwards to bus us into Havana. They also included lunches on the tours. We were supposed to have a beach day at Punta Frances but that was also cancelled which didn't bother us because it didn't look like there was anything to do there. Instead they added Trinidad as a stop which was much better and more interesting. Saw one show and entertainment was fabulous. Disembarkation went smoothly. At the disembarkation meeting we were told we had to leave the ship at 9 am, go through Jamaican immigration, claim our bags, then we could return to the ship, have lunch and lounge until we had to leave for the airport. (Our flight wasn't until 5 pm) We went to the immigration desk, they stamped our documents and then the authories said since our documents were stamped we could not return to the ship. We then went to the airport at 9:30 am but our airline counter didn't open until 2 pm and we had bags to check so we had to sit in the front of the airport on hard metal chairs for 4 hours. Once we got through security the airport was very comfortable with lots of shopping and restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We choose this cruise as it had been recommended by a friend & we really wanted to see Cuba, especially Havana. This sounded like a wonderful opportunity to see the whole island & get a sense for Cuba, the country, the cities, ... Read More
We choose this cruise as it had been recommended by a friend & we really wanted to see Cuba, especially Havana. This sounded like a wonderful opportunity to see the whole island & get a sense for Cuba, the country, the cities, the people & their culture. Havana was our #1 destination, unfortunately we, never got there. When we arrived we were immediately bussed to Cienfuegos, a 3 1/2 hour bus ride after a 6 1/2 hour flight, it was in the dark so saw nothing of the country side. Besides the fact that the port authorities had suggested our ship could not dock in the harbour due to congestion there was a storm which pushed us out, hence the bus ride. So we spent the first 3 days in Cienfuegos, a lovely small community, but not Havana. We had already tripped over, accidentally, on Celestyal cruises website that day 3, our beach day was not to be, due to environmental issues. Would be nice if they had let us know! An effort was made to compensate in a bus trip to Trinadad, 3 hour bus ride there & 3 back, which was a total waste of time, we really saw nothing but countryside. The next day they offered us a trip to Havana, a 4 hour bus ride there & 4 hours back, we declined having already spent far too much time on busses. Finally we left this port & headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica to drop off & p/up passengers. Montego Bay was a nightmare, we lasted in town for 1/2 an hour & immediately went back to the ship. On entering customs the first thing the gal said to my husband was, make sure you have your wallet. Pretty much sums up Montego Bay right there! Finally the next day we headed to Santiago a lovely city, thoroughly enjoyed a guided tour from a university student. Our last day on the boat was at sea, again. Arriving in Havana, we could have had time for a city visit but what to do with our bags, so off to the airport for a 6 hour wait in an airport with little to no seating. We will definitely go back to see Havana, but not on this cruise! One big huge disappointment! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We crafted our whole 5 week holiday from Australia around this cruise. It all sounded so fabulous that we were prepared to make significant concessions with our other travel arrangements to work with the cruise dates. Unfortunately, ... Read More
We crafted our whole 5 week holiday from Australia around this cruise. It all sounded so fabulous that we were prepared to make significant concessions with our other travel arrangements to work with the cruise dates. Unfortunately, the ship only stopped at one port in 7 days and that was only for a few hours. For a cruise that is billed as a cruise of Cuba it's ironic to say that this stop was not even in Cuba, but in Grand Cayman. We got off the ship but no one bothered to give us even a map, or tell us what we could do there, so we wandered around aimlessly for a few hours. (I should say that we had booked to do the Stingray City tour with the boat but they cancelled it and warned us that we should not take the trip with anyone else once on shore.) There were so many excuses made for not adhering to the itinerary - the whether and the Cuban authorities, being the most offered. Those excuses are very hollow when you have paid several thousand dollars for effectively a cruise to nowhere. On board there were not enough sun lounges and those which were there were taken from early morning, by people placing their belongings on them and then leaving for hours. I know of one very unpleasant showdown which could have caused World War 111 between Germany and England. The "fun" on board activities consisted of learning to fold napkins and towels, or listen to how great the Star Clipper Experience was, which was even further infuriating. The library only held a few people at a time and there were only very boring activities there anyway, when they were scheduled. The two pools, which are comical descriptions of what they were (more like spa tubs for a few people) always seemed to be without water. I accept that the food was fine -although there was not a trace of Cuban or even Caribbean cuisine. The wait staff, who we were advised were to be tipped significantly according to the instructions, were indifferent. Overall this cruising experience was a disaster. Star Clippers should really consider whether they want to operate this route. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Cruise with mediocre quality, in which almost everything is focused on getting money from passengers. You have to pay for everything. Since the first night, the staff is chasing you in order to sail water packages (around 30 euros), ... Read More
Cruise with mediocre quality, in which almost everything is focused on getting money from passengers. You have to pay for everything. Since the first night, the staff is chasing you in order to sail water packages (around 30 euros), beer packages (60 euros), or all inclusive drink packages. The photographer is forced by MSC Administration to run after the passengers, pushing them to get pictures that MSC will try to sell them later. Each time you order something (a simple water or a elaborated cocktail), MSC will add 15% as a service tax. But that is not enough: even if you do not consume anything, the cruise will charge you a minimum of 9 euros per person and per night, as a service tax. In a 7 nights cruise, a couple must pay at least 126 euros (9€ x 7 nights x 2 persons). The cruise must charge you with this tax to compensate the difficult conditions to which the workers are submitted: 12 or 13 daily labour hours, without weekly rest (just a few hours off), during 8 months (non-stop). The excursions are one of the finest examples of the MSC strategy to make money: awful quality, with a price of 80, 90 or 120 euros / person, the triple of the price that any local agency (trustful agencies, some of them are public or recommended by the local public office) will charge you. After some days, when passengers already understood this scheme and stopped buying MSC excursions, every day we saw passengers running out of the boat looking anywhere for good excursions, since they would not trust in MSC prices. In the Cayman Islands, the bus with MSC excursion (a worse bus than ours) came always together with ours, taking us to the same places. The difference: MSC charged 65 euros for the excursion. We bought to a local agency (indicated by the public tourist office) the same excursion for 20 euros. The excursion to a resort that MSC pompously advertised, but that was in fact a small and rocky beach, was bought for 90 euros / person. With any taxi, you could pay the displacement to a public beach, with much higher quality (we really loved that beach), with only 4 euros... The cruise had very limited entertainment activities (small bars with music and a nightly show), with 2 tiny pools, with 5 or 7 persons capacity. You can imagine what could happen with 2000 people on board... You had to go to your bedroom to take a nap (or go to the Spa with unthinkable prices...). With strong wind, you haven’t any indoor pool. Ridiculous TV channel package, around 10 channels, only those authorized by the Cuban regime. You had to watch public channels of Venezuela or Russia with daily propaganda against the “American imperialism”.... In short, mediocre quality that does not justify the price. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
To see Cuba and several central American ports was our goal. I have been to Cuba multiple times and was indifferent to the port (my wife's first visit and she was very happy). The hotel stay purchased via Viking was a poorly kempt ... Read More
To see Cuba and several central American ports was our goal. I have been to Cuba multiple times and was indifferent to the port (my wife's first visit and she was very happy). The hotel stay purchased via Viking was a poorly kempt hotel on the older side. It was not the quality that we would choose to stay and makes us unlikely to stay at a Viking cruise choice of hotels. The Hilton property is not a fine hotel, but a worn middle class facility. The cruise was only disappointing if you expected what was advertised. The restitution was inadequate for a cruise that was far different than what we purchased. A few hundred dollars was given for a future cruise. towards the end of the cruise, I went to purchase several more Viking cruises. I went to the future cruise desk and their was no line. A approached the Viking Cruise future cruise salesperson. He looked up and said, "I.do not talk to people who do not have appoints, I am too busy to speak with you. Sign up for an appointment and we will let you know when to come back. I was incensed and said. "I do not want to talk to you, all I want to do is purchase to more cruises NOW! He backed off and us to buy to two voyages. I was very angry at the time, by wife calmed me down. Not wanting to accept our money and not wanting to sell the cruise is appalling Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Ship not stable in ocean rough water. Ship had large bowls of sea sickness medicine for passengers to help themselves! Too many days at sea! Numerous changes in itinerary and not punctual on tours . Told what time to be back on bus and ... Read More
Ship not stable in ocean rough water. Ship had large bowls of sea sickness medicine for passengers to help themselves! Too many days at sea! Numerous changes in itinerary and not punctual on tours . Told what time to be back on bus and even guides were late. Often hard to hear guides when off the buses. Best highlight of cruise, buses were new, clean, and had bathrooms! Pearl often cancelled planned tours, and never told passengers. Medical on ship not adequate, and passengers taken to local hospitals in each port before all other passengers could get off ship. Food only adequate. The staff were very nice and tried to be helpful. What we saw in Cuba was not a disappointment, but Pearl was terrible! The ending of the trip Pearl employees dropped our friends luggage in the water when FINALLY arriving back in Ft. Lauderdale. Have been on numerous cruises, and by far this the worst, and very expensive! Would never go on another Pearl Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We wanted to visit Cuba with minimum hassle.Pearl Seas seemed to fit the bill and did not disappoint. The ship was clean, the staff was very attentive and our cabin was extremely comfortable.Embarkation was super easy. No complaints about ... Read More
We wanted to visit Cuba with minimum hassle.Pearl Seas seemed to fit the bill and did not disappoint. The ship was clean, the staff was very attentive and our cabin was extremely comfortable.Embarkation was super easy. No complaints about the food, service or nightly open bar!We really enjoyed the open seating in the dining room. We did not attend any of the lectures or evening entertainment. We enjoyed lounging on the sundecks. Though a small ship, no space ever felt crowded.The cruise directors were fabulous. This was Pearl Seas inaugural cruise so we were prepared for the unexpected.There was indeed the unexpected! We were given excursion options in each port. These were presented in one of the lounges prior to arrival in each port.Since each port was a two day stop, we could choose from two different two day packages. Our first stop was Havana. We were late getting into port which disrupted our first day excursion schedule. We were supposed to have a tour in classic cars which couldn't happen. This was not Pearl Seas fault but Pearl Seas was able to arrange a shortened classic car ride for us. We appreciated that they did their best to make sure we did get to ride in a classic car. Our 1/2 day excursion to Trinidad ended up being much longer and we missed a concert in Cienfuegos. Others raved about this concert and I was really disappointed. When I mentioned my disappointment, I was told that they would try an arrange a performance for our group the following day. I never expected it to happen but they in fact did arrange it for us and it was fabulous! In Santiago de Cuba we unexpectedly had to use tenders. This went very smoothly. Unfortunately, the Cuban government would not allow the tenders to operate after 6:00PM so we were unable to attend a jazz club in the evening. Pearl Seas again did their best under the circumstances and instead brought a local group of musicians on board. I always felt that Pearl Seas did their best to give us a good experience. The tour buses were clean, comfortable and had AC and a bathroom. We enjoyed the excursions. We just kept an open mind and enjoyed the adventure. We had a rough sea day and I really appreciated the baskets of medicine so that I didn't need to bother the medical staff.I must give a huge shout-out to the medical staff. My husband became very ill with a respiratory problem the last few days of the cruise. He got excellent and proper care from the competent medical staff.Due to his weakened condition, Pearl Seas provided a wheel chair from our cabin, through customs and to a waiting cab. We really appreciated the care he received. We had some passengers who experienced very serious medical situations requiring hospital trips.While we were slightly delayed in disembarking for medical evacuations, I think most of us were just very concerned for our fellow passengers and didn't mind the delay for such serious situations. We loved our experience with Pearl Seas.We really like that it was all-inclusive. There was nothing offered that required more money except tips at the end of the cruise. We found the staff very responsive. We got to experience Cuba without packing and unpacking suitcases and had a comfortable place with creature comforts when not enjoying the land excursions. We met so many interesting people.We found the atmosphere very relaxing and wouldn't hesitate to travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Cuba has been a destination which has been available to Americans for only a few years and in many ways, it is still limited. We sailed under the visa exemption of "people to people" and participation was in, in theory, ... Read More
Cuba has been a destination which has been available to Americans for only a few years and in many ways, it is still limited. We sailed under the visa exemption of "people to people" and participation was in, in theory, mandatory. Older people with medical restrictions were given a pass for trip excursions that were too strenuous. It also helps explain why excursion options were limited. We sailed entirely around Cuba beginning with a two day stop in Havana, the capital and largest city. While the city has been spruced up for tourists, one could not fail to notice the absence of basic maintenance and new investment since the revolution in 1959. Most day trips had the option of a meal in town. The results were mixed. We had two other ports of call, Cienfuegos (and Trinidad) for 2 days (Southest coast) and Santiago de Cuba, the original capital and oldest city in the country (Southeast coast) for one day. Overall the trip was very relaxing as we were at sea more than half the time. The food was extremely good with snacks available at all hours. To avoid overeating required considerable personal discipline. The passenger list and activities scale heavily to seniors, and being active in our 80's, this cruise line and it's parent company, American Cruise Line, have become our "go to Cruise Line" after previous experiences with Seabourn, SilverSeas, Lindblad/National Geographic and others. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We wanted to go to Cuba before it was invaded by hordes of American's. As it turned-out, this was trip #1 for the Pearl Mist to Cuba. Boarding and dis-embarking the ship was very easy. We book tour's on this ship ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba before it was invaded by hordes of American's. As it turned-out, this was trip #1 for the Pearl Mist to Cuba. Boarding and dis-embarking the ship was very easy. We book tour's on this ship because the personnel are the same on every cruise and they take very good care of all of our needs. The food was fabulous, the lectures were very informative. We had live entertainment every night. We established many new friendship's due to the open unassigned Dining Room seating. This cruise had no children on-board. Because of a cancellation, we received a room upgrade at no additional charge. Our room was very comfortable. Our excursions were very informative and enjoyable. We always had staff personnel from the ship as well as the local Tour Guides on every excursion. This was our 4th cruise on this ship and we will book any future new trips. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was the Pearl Mist's inaugural cruise to Cuba. We wanted to visit Cuba before it became overran with tourist and we prefer smaller ships. We were not disappointed. The ship is small (only 210 passenger capacity), we sailed ... Read More
This was the Pearl Mist's inaugural cruise to Cuba. We wanted to visit Cuba before it became overran with tourist and we prefer smaller ships. We were not disappointed. The ship is small (only 210 passenger capacity), we sailed with 156 fellow passengers. It didn't take long before we recognized most of our fellow passengers. Boarding was very easy compared to other cruises we have been on and much faster. The ship itself is clean and well maintained. The public areas are comfortable and appealing. The cabin was significantly larger than the majority of cabins on the larger ships. The dining experience really stands out. The staff are friendly, professional and very helpful. We looked forward to seeing them each meal. The food was excellent, good variety to select from, fresh well prepared ingredients beautifully presented. The service was super, a step above. The ports we visited were interesting and enjoyable. Being the inaugural cruise there were some changes (imposed by the Cuban government) to the itinerary, but all-in-all it was well worth the time and money spent for the cruise. I would recommend the cruise to anyone interested in Cuba, as well as to anyone wanting a relaxing cruise. I would go again and probably will once Cuba opens a few more ports. The on board lecture series was especially interesting. We learned a lot about Cuba and enjoyed doing so. Being a small ship we enjoyed the interaction among passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We were happy to be on a smaller ship. The rooms had great storage, the food was very good for the most part and the service was fantastic. Because we were on the inaugural Cuban cruise for Pearl Seas, we had extra staff on board to ... Read More
We were happy to be on a smaller ship. The rooms had great storage, the food was very good for the most part and the service was fantastic. Because we were on the inaugural Cuban cruise for Pearl Seas, we had extra staff on board to ensure that things went smoothly. When things went wrong, they did their best to fix it. As an example, one group went to Trinidad for a half day. There was a Cuban tour guide but no staff member from the cruise (that person had to go to the hospital with a guest who had broken their hip).The streets were cobblestoned and in horrible disrepair. They spent about an hour at the model of the city, with each detail of the model being explained by a non-English speaker whose words were then translated by the tour guide. The tour guide never counted heads and one of the guests got lost and the group had to spend two hours on the bus until the guest was found. They didn't arrive back in Cienfuegos until 4:30 (instead of 12:30) and they missed the amazing concert that the rest of us experienced. Amazing response from staff! They listened to the guests' constructive criticism and as a result, those of us who went to Trinidad the next day were warned about the condition of the streets so that we could wear proper footwear. We only spent 10 minutes at the model of the city. A staff member came with us and counted heads at every stop. And best of all, they got the Cienfuegos musicians to play the concert again for those who had missed it. As for shore excursions, we got to see 4 cities: Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. We did spend a lot of time on buses which were comfortable and air-conditioned. We were on a people-to-people tour, which is one of the allowed categories for US citizens to visit Cuba. We met artists and musicians in each city. The concert in Cienfuegos was a highlight of the trip. We had the opportunity to purchase CDs and pieces of art at each place. Havana is tragically beautiful; poverty and sea air have destroyed most of the buildings. We enjoyed the National Hotel, the show at the Tropicana, a visit to Hemingway's house, lunch at a palador and a half day ride in a classic car, which drove us through many different neighborhoods in Havana. I wish that we had another full day to spend on our own in Havana-it may not be allowed by the government, not sure about that. Cienfuegos was next. Tour of the botanical gardens was much better than we expected because the guide was entertaining and informative. The city center is beautiful and we had a long delicious lunch at a palador. We stayed in port that night and took a bus to Trinidad the next day. The city wasn't much (although we had another great palador lunch), but it was so interesting to see the countryside between Cienfuegos and Trinidad and see how people live outside of the city. So much poverty. Our tour guides were all Cuban and really did a good job of explaining their society and culture. Santiago was the most modern city overall (which really isn't saying much). We did tour for half the day and then instead of going back to the ship we stayed ashore to wander around on our own and had lunch at a hotel rooftop restaurant. All restaurants and hotels are government owned. Compared to the palador (privately owned restaurant) the food was mediocre at best but the view was worth it. We had to change our money when we arrived in Havana and just before we got back on the ship for the last time in Santiago. We changed USD which has a 10% penalty on the front end of the exchange. No penalty for euros but my bank fees etc kind of made it a wash in terms of sheer convenience. It was very easy to do the exchanges. The ship's staff was very helpful. I think that they will able to further refine the experiences in Cuba because they are so responsive to the guests needs. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We were based on the boat with three university alum travel groups visiting Cuba. It was a great advantage to return to one location after visiting 4 of the oldest cities on the island. We were always greeted warmly by the French crew ... Read More
We were based on the boat with three university alum travel groups visiting Cuba. It was a great advantage to return to one location after visiting 4 of the oldest cities on the island. We were always greeted warmly by the French crew and it was good to have a respite from rundown Cuba. We enjoyed the special food and buffet service on the outside deck for breakfast and lunch and dinner in the dining room by outstanding crew who knew our names after the first day. We also appreciated the boat crew who helped us get on and off the boat. There was even a doctor from the boat who accompanied the tours-nice because the steps and walkways were so uneven. We had one night being tossed around at sea between Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. The boat rocks side to side with swells. That gets me to what is totally unacceptable on this boat-THE BEDS! They are rock hard mattresses which no first class ship should ever use. My husband had a back ache every morning. When I told the hotel director I had read a cruise critic reviewer had the same complaint, he said that was the best they could do. I wonder how they ever get a return customer to sleep on that bed! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017

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