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1,939 Cuba Cruise Reviews

Let me start by saying I am not a frequent cruiser. So my review is not a comparison to other cruise ships. Our objective was to see Cuba in different ports above and beyond just Havana with the convenience of having our accommodations ... Read More
Let me start by saying I am not a frequent cruiser. So my review is not a comparison to other cruise ships. Our objective was to see Cuba in different ports above and beyond just Havana with the convenience of having our accommodations follow us around the country and not deal with hotel jumping. My wife and I really enjoyed our week on the Celestyal Cruise around Cuba. We were happy with the 3 ports of call and we knew going into this that the ship is older and somewhat dated so our expectations were in accordance. We were pleasantly surprised at the comfort of our cabin (6013 SBJ), the extreme cleanliness of the ship and the overall great service! The food was plentiful and delicious. It was certainly not gourmet but it was good quality. The evening entertainment was great and the Cruise director, Danny, was fun and very energetic! It was nice that the whole cruise was of a Cuban flavor, from the food to the Cuban entertainment to the authentic Cuban cocktails! For us US Citizens this cruise was a convenient way for us to see the country according to our travel restrictions. The guided tours were thorough, comfortable and educational. They do have some room for improvement but everyone wants different things out of their tour so you can get it 100% for everyone. It was great that we were able to spend two days in Havana and that us US passengers had some free time to get out and around on our own. My wife and I took full advantage of that and explored quite a bit of Havana beyond the included excursions. Be sure to take an Old Car taxi tour. For about 40 CUC pesos ($45) the driver will take you around Havana for about a hour. Try for a convertible if possible. Great way to see the sites!! So overall we loved our trip and the cruise ship. Manage your expectations and have a great time!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We were participants in a university alum travel group. It was appealing to explore Cuba while having a floating hotel. We love cruising and this was our first time on Le Ponant. The staff was outstanding - each was friendly and knew ... Read More
We were participants in a university alum travel group. It was appealing to explore Cuba while having a floating hotel. We love cruising and this was our first time on Le Ponant. The staff was outstanding - each was friendly and knew our names in no time. We were disappointed in the food and with the bed in the cabin. The snack food during happy hour was the best food on the trip. Since this is a French ship, we expected wonderful food - that was not the case. It was as if they were trying too hard to do something complicated and missed the mark time after time. The focus was on seafood with few other options. Even the seafood was mediocre. Additionally, dinner was served late and took forever to complete. This was a group who had a full itinerary every day with early starts and an earlier dinner with a faster pace would have been appreciated. The bed was miserable - it was hard as a rock. I was in pain all night and as I arose. I had them add extra padding on top but it did nothing to change the level of comfort. The room itself was fine although small, the bathroom fine. There were 2 channels on the TV (CNN and sports) as well as movie selections. The shore excursions were through the university travel group. The ship had no responsibility for those. This was true of the enrichment lectures as well. All in all, we are glad to have made the trip to explore Cuba. We would not travel on Le Ponant again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This is a very hard one to score. The vessel is a sailing cruise ship (barquentine) which takes a maximum of 170 guests. It is extremely well-appointed and the crew are enthusiastic and attentive. We would particularly comment on the ... Read More
This is a very hard one to score. The vessel is a sailing cruise ship (barquentine) which takes a maximum of 170 guests. It is extremely well-appointed and the crew are enthusiastic and attentive. We would particularly comment on the outstanding food which was served throughout our 7-day cruise. So far, it rates 5 stars. The problem was that it failed to deliver us to several of the destinations advertised. Some while before our holiday, we were informed that the Cuban authorities had revoked cruise ship licences to two of the islands and, instead, we would have to spend an additional night in each of Havana and Cienfuegos. (There was no evidence that the company had tried to substitute some different islands). Neither Havana nor Cienfuegos were appealing to us as we had already built more than enough time in those locations into our itinerary but, by then, it was too late to change our other travel plans. So, before the holiday starts, we have effectively lost two days. We embarked on Saturday afternoon, sailed Monday evening and were due to visit our first stop, Punta Francis, on the Tuesday morning. On arrival at Punta Francis, we were advised that the Port Authorities were unable to clear us in as their car had broken down. The company was unable to resolve this problem so we had now lost the third of our five stops. The company blames the Cuban authorities, but we now understand that this is quite common (we were told by staff that this was the third time in the last four visits to Punta Francis that guests were unable to go ashore) yet we were never warned of this possibility. The company needs to understand that travelling on the Star Flyer is an experience but not the end in itself. And it needs to come clean about the likelihood that they will not be able to deliver what they advertise in their brochure. The whole point for us was to visit some outlying parts of Cuba in addition to the main towns and cities. Instead, we sailed from Havana to Cienfuegos, stopping in one position which allowed us to visit just two different beaches. Overall, a hugely expensive disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I saw this Fathom cruise to Cuba offered last summer. I said to my husband, if they offer it in the winter, I'm in. I don't like the heat. Luckily, we were able to sail February 5. The weather was wonderful, in the high ... Read More
I saw this Fathom cruise to Cuba offered last summer. I said to my husband, if they offer it in the winter, I'm in. I don't like the heat. Luckily, we were able to sail February 5. The weather was wonderful, in the high 70's to mid 80's most of the time. One day it did reach 90. Embarkation took a bit of time, standing in a line for 30 minutes or so. Not many check in people, or perhaps it's more complicated checking in for Cuba, more documentation than the normal cruise. Check in time started around noon. We were on the ship around 1 and our cabin wasn't ready. We headed to the pool area and had lunch on the pool deck. The food at the pool area wasn't very good, but we weren't on this cruise for the food. Only after eating dry burgers, did we realize they had a great buffet through the doors! Don't stop at the pool area to eat, look for the real buffet, located inside, aft. After lunch our cabins were ready. We were happy to see the size of the cabin and nice to see we could cross at the foot of the bed without turning to the side. The balcony we had, on the 6th deck was comfortable for two with a small table and chairs we could recline a bit. I spent many sea evenings out there drinking a glass of wine. The bathroom is small, the shower smaller, with a pesky curtain. We would open the bathroom door to have enough room to dry ourselves off. I still rate this room excellent for the size of the cabin.....the closet has many hangers, more than any cruise I've been on. Our cabin steward from India. He wasn't the friendliest, however he kept the cabin spotless, twice a day, fresh ice, washed glasses, clean towels if desired.....couldn't ask for more. We were pleased with him and left him an extra tip. The public areas are beautiful. One of our favorite places was the wine bar, The Glass House. It's new since the remodel. Its a serene place to have a drink before dinner. There are windows that go from floor to ceiling. We also enjoyed Andersons, where there is live music. It's a great place to meet new friends. There were many lectures, we tried to attend them all. They were informative and interesting. The impact guides are enthusiastic young adults, well educated, well traveled, and all have outgoing personalities. I'm sorry to see them loose this job as I know they all enjoy it. Actually, I'm sorry to see Fathom discontinue in May. What a shame. The ages on this cruise appeared to be about 50 people in the 20-30 age group, with most of us being in the 50-70 range. There was one child on board, around 10, he seemed to enjoy the music, dancing with the rest of us. There were quite a few older as well. Everyone was fit enough to walk the demanding cobblestones. One woman rode a small scooter, I saw her on some tours. We started in Santiago, then Cienfuegos, and finally the fabulous 2 days in Havana. It was a wonderful way to end the trip, as the first two stops are completely different than Havana. One overnight isn't enough. We cut our second day in Havana tour short, as we wanted to rent an old American convertible car and ride up and down the Malecon and stop at some shops. So happy we did that. The included shore excursions were wonderful. There is so much to see and learn about this country. The tour guides were from the towns we visited. Some were better than others. Occasionally, it was difficult to understand the accent. All worked hard and gave us so much information, and history. A job well done. The local guides at various stops, like the Opera House in Havana were also very informed and answered all questions we had. The lunches provided were delicious. My favorite stop was our first lunch in Havana, at La Bonita, they had a band that played the entire time we ate with the best sax player! We were very fortunate to be seated outside where they were playing. A once in a life time experience. The food on board was very good. We had most dinners outside on the aft deck, the weather was wonderful and the service excellent. We chose what we wanted from the buffet and took it outside, it was quiet, peaceful and just what we wanted. Justin, the server out there, took great care of us. The last night we thought we'd go to the dining room, but found it too bright and loud, we up and left about 3 minutes after being seated and went back to our favorite spot, on the aft deck. On the overnight in Havana we ate at the Hotel National and went to the Parisian Cabaret, buying tickets online before we left the US. Getting off the ship was easy, we walked off with our bags, and were in the first group off. We cleared customs in no time and were in a cab to the airport just as fast. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
A cruise to Cuba on a small ship? What a great idea! What a great itinerary. The ship was great. The crew was outstanding. The food was good. The cruise overall was a sad disappointment. We were on the 3rd scheduled ... Read More
A cruise to Cuba on a small ship? What a great idea! What a great itinerary. The ship was great. The crew was outstanding. The food was good. The cruise overall was a sad disappointment. We were on the 3rd scheduled cruise to Cuba by the Pearl Seas. The 2nd cruise was cancelled – to work out the difficulties experienced on the 1st cruise. The 3rd cruise should, in my opinion, also been shuttled. We understand that tourism in Cuba is a government affair and the itinerary changes were not in the control of the cruise line, but the fact remains that we did not receive the trip that we signed up for. We were promised 6 ports – we got 3. We were promised tours and museums that – even in the ports we made – didn’t materialize. Rather than colorful stories of cultural immersion we have a sad tale of sedentary boredom. The ship to shore ratio was heavy on the ship, very little time on shore. How much cultural immersion are you getting while you are cruising at a snails pace (with nowhere to go – just wasting days) on a small ship listening to a lecturer onboard (Tom someone) who was so incredibly dull he could put himself to sleep. So when our friends want to hear “all about our cruise to Cuba” our first words are “it was very disappointing..” Generally their next question is: “Which cruise line?” That can’t be good. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We wanted to experience Cuba before it became "touristified." The Pearl Mist is a lovely ship, wonderful service, great staff, very good food. Highlights of the onshore time included the cultural center in Havana, the visit to ... Read More
We wanted to experience Cuba before it became "touristified." The Pearl Mist is a lovely ship, wonderful service, great staff, very good food. Highlights of the onshore time included the cultural center in Havana, the visit to El Cobre, and the botanical gardens of Cienfuegos. Also the time in Trinidad was enjoyable but we did not see two of the three attractions listed. But, the cruise was not as represented. We had less than half our time on shore. Most of our time was spent "cruising" or actually killing time between ports. We were supposed to have had personalized walking tours of 5 plazas in Havana. Apparently that meant we were to figure it out on our own as we did not have any walking tours. Most of our Havana time was spent in a bus going to and from Hemingway's home which was unremarkable and hardly representative of the Cuban culture. We did not tour the Cathedral de la Habana or the Revolution Museum as advertised. Of the 4 Cuban guides we had, two were very good, very knowledgeable, informative and eager to interact with the passengers. The other two had little to say and spent their time answering questions from the people in front but those in back could not hear or understand. Of the two lecturers, Dr. Richard was very good and had interesting presentations. Tom Miller "The Onboard Expert" is apparently a very knowledgeable person and "accomplished author," but as a speaker he is at best painful to endure. If you are looking for a pleasant time at sea with good food and service, you will enjoy this. If you are looking to experience a different culture, it is a disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
It was wonderful. Way beyond my expectations. Pearl Seas went all out. There were at least 5 Pearl Seas personal on board. They went on excursions with us and made sure everything went smooth. This was only their second cruise to Cuba ... Read More
It was wonderful. Way beyond my expectations. Pearl Seas went all out. There were at least 5 Pearl Seas personal on board. They went on excursions with us and made sure everything went smooth. This was only their second cruise to Cuba and they went above and beyond to make sure everything was excellent. I got on board with a chip on my shoulder because of the 7 advertised Ports we were only stopping at 3. I thought Pearl Seas was pulling a fast one on us, but once I got on board and started learning what was going on I relaxed and enjoyed the cruise. Cuba is a dictatorship and a totalitarian government. They decided everything - such as what ports we could land at, when and where we docked, when we could arrive and when we had to leave. When we were in port we had fabulous tours, excellent guides that spoke English well, and nice AC Buses with toilet. The American government makes tourist do the "People to People" program, but again it was excellent. We did not have much free time and I would have liked more. They did make sure we could buy Cuban Cigars and Cuban Rum. While we were waiting to sail into port we were on the top deck having a party and enjoying the Havana skyline. There was never a charge for for liquor at the parties or happy hour and they had Glenfiddich a rather expensive single malt scotch that I like to drink. All our excursions were covered including a night at the Tropicana night club and lunches. The show at the Tropicana was spectacular with dancing and singing. Besides a welcome flute of champagne we were given a bottle of Cuban Rum for every four guests to share, the guys cigars and ladies flowers. My single room #507 was very large and a larger deck than most cabins. The food in the dining room was good and beer and wine were included. They could have had a few nicer red wines. The staff was perfect - Very helpful and pleasant. They had some really good lectures and good entertainers. Much to my surprise we were busy all the time, and I survived without a pool and hot tub. I really like the small ship and lack of lines. I like that all expenses were covered. When I complained that I had to drink my coffee latte from a paper cup, Bob from Pearl Seas brought me (in the next port) my own personal mug that says Cuba. The old American cars are such a treat. I am sorry I did not have time to rent a pink convertible as a taxi and take a ride. The Cuban people were very friendly and lovely. They are proud of their free education and health care, and Spanish heritage. They are just getting the internet and they have to go to the parks or squares for service . As far as internet on board, it was so so. Don't count on it. I put my phone in airplane mode. I would love to go again and see all the places that were promised. I would love to snorkel and enjoy the beaches. I feel it will not be too long until we have hydrofoils from Florida to Cuba, and maybe they will reinstate the 90 Mile Ferry from Key West to Havana. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We usually cruise with P & 0 or Royal Carribean. We chose this cruise because it called into Havana. The ship felt dated and needs some attention. The itinerary was changed round and port arrival times changed which meant prebooked ... Read More
We usually cruise with P & 0 or Royal Carribean. We chose this cruise because it called into Havana. The ship felt dated and needs some attention. The itinerary was changed round and port arrival times changed which meant prebooked excursions had to be changed. Freedom Dining was ok and food was ok but have to say the choice from the buffet was limited. Beware there is a charge for safety deposit in you cabin which is ridiculous another way to make money which is wrong of Thomson to do this. Cabin was directly underneath the show theatre and very very noisy, no peace or relaxation at all when in the cabin as practising for the shows all afternoon and then the actual show in the evening till 23:30. Swimming pool on deck 11 needs some attention as damaged. We took the All Inclusive option but not everything included, most cocktails were but if you had one that used Absolute in it instead of Smirnoff then you were charged. Don't know why it's brand specific. Don't think l'll choose Thomson again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I have read positive experiences on Thomson Cruises. Now afterwards I can confirm they are correct. Thomson Dream is a great ship, fully renovated but with a beautiful interior and warm personality. The cabins were spacious and ... Read More
I have read positive experiences on Thomson Cruises. Now afterwards I can confirm they are correct. Thomson Dream is a great ship, fully renovated but with a beautiful interior and warm personality. The cabins were spacious and comfortable. The staff was in my opinion outstanding. They really love their work and you realize how important service is, in such a competitive Cruise industry. The entertainment on board is first class, fun and really good. The food was very tasty and there were plenty of choices. We did not use the a la carte restaurants because the food in the buffet restaurants was just great. Thomson offers high quality excursions where everything runs smooth. They are totally worth the money. Drinks prices are fair. The only thing we did not like, is the very early checkout when you arrive back from your trip. Also the pool is quite small and is not that inviting. On the other hand. there are so many beds to lay on and sun decks that you don't really need it. But it is good it is there in case you want to cool-off. The boarding and off boarding procedures in Montego Bay are somewhat uncoordinated and a bit confusing. But Thomson tries to help and puts plenty of staff on the ground in case you need to ask. There is so much to do on board. You will never get bored. If I could get another interesting cruise along my preferred dated on the Thomson Dream, I would not hesitate and book again. Me and my wife even miss the ship sometimes and we look on the Cruise Mapper app, where she is currently sailing. Thumbs up, well done and big thank you to the entire staff of the Thomson Dream. It was our first ever cruise and we will go again soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise in order to experience Cuba. The itinerary was changed and we had to spend 6 days sailing around with hardly anything to do on board. The sun deck was half generator making terrible loud noise. There were 2 lounges ... Read More
We chose this cruise in order to experience Cuba. The itinerary was changed and we had to spend 6 days sailing around with hardly anything to do on board. The sun deck was half generator making terrible loud noise. There were 2 lounges that were nice. One speaker was just average (too repetitive) and the other was terrible - disjointed, hard to listen to and repetitive presentation. I was assured they would accommodate a vegan menu but onboard was told to just write down what I wanted to eat. (Make up my own menu on vacation? Well, what do you have in the kitchen?). A few meals (not the vegan ones) were good though most were very average. Service was average - never saw much of the cabin steward and dining room server often forgot to bring what we asked for. The two musicians (only entertainment at night) were enjoyable and played and sang different types of music well. A little something different would have been nice. The laundry (a well kept secret - you have to ask if any is available) ruined 3 of our shirts and we heard others complain about that too. That said, we did experience Cuba and enjoyed what we saw. Some of the local guides were very good and we learned a lot from them. Make it a week long would be better. This was very expensive and not worth the money. We recommend trying a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We went on one of the first Pearl Mist cruises to Cuba. Yes, there were some problems with the itinerary but nothing catastrophic....it was a great experience. The staterooms were large and comfortable and the housekeeping staff were ... Read More
We went on one of the first Pearl Mist cruises to Cuba. Yes, there were some problems with the itinerary but nothing catastrophic....it was a great experience. The staterooms were large and comfortable and the housekeeping staff were excellent. Actually, the entire staff engaged with passengers and made a sincere effort to address concerns and made you feel welcome and valued. Granted the itinerary was curtailed a bit but the port calls and shore activities that were offered were interesting and lived up to the published Cuban experience. After talking with the captain on the bridge I had a much better understanding of why difficulties were encountered...the ship is pretty much at the mercy of the Cuban authorities regarding getting clearance to dock at Cuban ports. The food was excellent with ample portions and good quality...this in spite of not being able to take on provisions at Cuban ports...again, part of the experience of going to Cuba. Now a final note...I take exception with persistent discriminatory and ageist comments...these are totally inappropriate, insulting and most importantly, inaccurate. Would you think it OK to comment on ethnic or religious groups on board that you find objectionable? There were very few instances where older disabled passengers interfered with the shoreside excursions or detracted in any way from the enjoyment of the cruise. Older people can be fun and add to the cruise experience. Remember, you will eventually become one of us, so lighten up and stop the intolerance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This cruise ship was part of my experience with the Capital Jazz. I read about the ship and the fact that it was a smaller ship peaked my interest. As soon as I got on the ship I was impressed. The crew and staff were so nice. Always ... Read More
This cruise ship was part of my experience with the Capital Jazz. I read about the ship and the fact that it was a smaller ship peaked my interest. As soon as I got on the ship I was impressed. The crew and staff were so nice. Always smiling and happy to assist. Love the food especially our dinners in the main dinner room. The Chef was very creative with the menu. I loved each night's meals. The entertainment and activities were awesome. I have not had this much fun in a long time. There was always something to do. Or you could just relax in one of the areas for reading and relaxing. The ship was like sailing on a luxury hotel. Getting off the ship in Cuba each excursions was simple and safe. The staff took really good care to make sure we had what we needed to go ashore. I would definitely recommend this ship and would also sail again. Thank you for your hospitality. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Going to Cuba has been a life-long dream of mine, which I realized this past February onboard Celestyal Crystal. I did lots of research on here which helped with my decision. I hope my long review helps some of you! This was my 30th ... Read More
Going to Cuba has been a life-long dream of mine, which I realized this past February onboard Celestyal Crystal. I did lots of research on here which helped with my decision. I hope my long review helps some of you! This was my 30th cruise, and I will admit that I am a big fan of smaller, more traditional ships. The Celestyal Crystal was perfectly-sized for the smaller ports of call in Cuba such as Santiago and Cienfuegos. I consider this less a mainstream cruise than a casual learning experience with like-minded passengers. Unlike the Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean ships that are now starting to visit Havana, this wasn't about a fun-and sun vacation and quite frankly I was glad to be there just ahead of the cruise ship invasion. While this is sold as a "5-star ship" it is clearly not; it is a comfortable, unassuming vessel which I became quite fond of but will not appeal to everyone. You can either board the ship in Havana, or in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I opted for Jamaica mostly because by doing so, there is more time for you to enjoy in Havana as a passenger, versus boarding the ship in Havana and losing a significant part of the overnight stay. I will also point out that on our sailing the guests embarking in Havana did not get to embark until probably 9pm...meaning the whole day that we had just enjoyed in Havana was a waste to them. Additionally, Montego Bay has an excellent airport with a great VIP lounge, Club MoBay, which I highly recommend. As an American passenger, I was signed up for the People to People program sold as yourcubacruise.com. Due to US Treasury restrictions, US passengers can only visit Cuba for 12 specific reasons, the most lenient being the previously-mentioned P2P program. While there were Cuban entertainers, lecturers, etc. onboard, the primary "requirement" of the program was participating in the included shore excursions in Santiago, Havana, and Cienfuegos. At the end of the trip, you receive a certificate which you are advised to hold onto in case you are ever asked for it by the US governement. I doubt very seriously if this would ever happen; accordingly, there were passengers who participated fully, some did not. In the case of Havana, there is a tour both days. On the second day the excursion was over around noon, and then I spent quite a bit of time walking by myself all over Havana. I will say, there are quite a few tourists in Havana; some areas of old Havana near the dock and the central squares were downright crowded. When you got out of that locale, it was much more casual. Cuba's largest economic engine is now tourism. The Celestyal Crystal Cuba cruise is interesting in several ways (to me at least)...first and foremost it wasn't a typical cruise environment although the ship had really good facilities for her size (25,000 tons). The passengers onboard were there primarily to see Cuba and the ship was secondary; a form of transporation. The ship does NOT have the mainstream cruise amenities like rock walls, water parks, etc. This is a traditional cruise ship which has been, among other things, NCL's Leeward, and a Silja Line Scandinavian cruise ferry. Much of the ship is dated in that 1990s fashion, with the reflective ceilings of that time and more pastel colors and brass. I loved many things about the Crystal, such as the real teak decks, the ability to walk completely to the bow (on most days, and especially spectacular when arriving or leaving port), and the great bar and terraced decks overlooking the stern. Recently, a number of balcony cabins were added to the ship. In addition to American passengers, the Crystal attracts an interesting cross-section of Cuba-centric travelers: lots of Canadians, and in Havana a large number of Germans arrived. The split boarding also means a portion of the passengers will change out during the voyage. In many ways, this was an EXCELLENT value trip: I went single occupancy, and was originally booked in an outside cabin at the usual 2x premium. Later, there was a single special offered with no single supplement...to take advantage i moved my departure date forward by several weeks and moved to an inside cabin vs. an outside one. Also, tips were included as was a beverage package. This all added up to a really great value. Haven't had an inside cabin in forever but the savings made it a no-brainer; while it was rather small it had been recently had some renovation. One important consideration is that the cabins don't have many electrical outlets. Mine for example had one US fixture and one European one...accordingly I carried an adapter and could use both outlets which is important on such a photo-centric itinerary where you need everything to be charged and ready! The bathroom is rather small and dated but the shower was really nice with a curved glass door. Some reviewers have mentioned the moody plumbing onboard, but I had no issues with my cabin toilet...I suspect this problem exists in certain areas of the ship, for example lower decks. As I mentioned, the Crystal is a small ship, 25,000 tons, about 500 feet...it is extremely easy to get around from day one...there are two elevator/stair towers which you can almost see from each other...there is a pool with glass cover, which stayed semi-open the entire trip...there is a tiny jacuzzi at the stern near the bar which perhaps could fit 4 people. There is a surprisingly large 2-story show lounge and a tiny casino which I never saw a soul in. The dining situation onboard is as follows: compared to a mainstream megaship, there is less food availability, which wasn't an issue for me. There are two smaller dining rooms (one each on Decks 5 and 8) which operate with the same menu. Additionally, there is a small buffet restaurant on the port side near the pool (with another one on the starboard side for overflow seating). I doubt that each restaurant seated more than 100 people. I ate in the sit-down restaurant several times...you can arrive between 6 and 8:30 or 9; you are seated at random with other passengers. At the buffet, it was easier to have your own table. The dining room menu offered a Cuban specialty each night. I got quite frankly bored with the food at the buffet...basically it was either: chicken legs, pasta, and a fish fillet. Each night, the preparation of the three changed. There was also a carving station. Other than breakfast, lunch, and dinner, your other dining option onboard is free room service, which looked nice. I honestly didn't miss the usual mountain of food usually found on cruise ships. I could bore you with all sorts of Cuba info but I figure you are primarily here for the ship info! I will say that Celestyal Crystal is the perfect-sized ship for Cuba. In fact, the size of most Cuban ports thankfully exclude the new mega ships...the largest ships going to Cuba seem to max out around 70,000 tons. I saw three other cruise ships in Havana, the European MSC Opera one day and MSC Armonia the next. Also, the tiny Hamburg was there. Being that there is only one currently-operating pier in Havana, we had to play musical ships on our cruise...on our first day in Havana, we had to arrive at the dock, disembark all the passengers, then the ship had to anchor in the harbor to make room for another ship...during which time the Cuban government wouldn't allow tender access. This made for a very long day in Havana: we weren't able to reboard the ship until around 9pm that night...in fact we were scheduled to reboard earlier but there were issues which delayed that. Also, the People to People shore excursions were quite good (there's nothing I hate more than a bus tour usually). The guides were generally open and frank about life in Cuba. To compensate for the additional time in Havana which we couldn't access the trip, a nice lunch was added to the trip. I will be glad to answer any Cuba-related questions you have. The most important thing I will tell you is to absolutely positively have your passport on you at all times as well as your Cuban visa, which is included in the ticket price. You will also need CASH, as US credit cards (with one exception, those issued by Stonegate Bank in Florida) do not work. There are currency exchanges at all three ports, which will charge you about 10 percent. It is also very important to remember there are TWO currencies...a Cuban peso and a tourist peso. Be careful receiving your change as they have vastly different values. In conclusion, the Celestyal Crystal is a great way to see Cuba as you circumnavigate the entire island. The size of the ship is, for me, perfect. You won't have to worry about the expensive (and mostly subpar) hotels available in Cuba...and in the instance of my sailing the prepaid gratuities and beverage package were nice bonuses. Your fellow passengers will be a more worldly lot, primarily interested in the uniqueness of discovering Cuba versus having a traditional tropical cruise experience. The food onboard was OK but there was one fantastic Cuban waiter who constantly smiled and seemed to sincerely enjoy his job. I'm trying to remember his name. Alberto maybe? I found the staff to be really great onboard, although some were initially more reserved. Both the cabin attendants were perfect and took great care of the room. During my voyage there were several issues at the reception desk...my problem got fixed immediately, however a friend onboard go the runaround for 6 days regarding his issue. I think this was a personality issue on both his behalf and whomever helped him. Other than that glitch, I really liked the staff; one day, it struck me that every single crewmember I encountered had greeted me with a smile and a "good morning" etc. I thought the senior management onboard however was distant and treated passengers as an imposition on their ship. Maybe this was my perception. Overall though, the general friendliness level was much greater than the impersonal megaship I cruised on several months earlier. If you aren't expecting a spanking new, huge resort-style ship, and you want to make a historic trip to Cuba in an intimate setting with passengers interested in the same, Celestyal Crystal is a good value, especially for small-ship lovers not expecting the latest amenities. Next year, Celestyal is adding the Celestyal Majesty (at one time NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to the Cuba lineup. I am seriously considering taking another trip onboard Celestyal Crystal to Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Like most of the other reviewers, we wanted to see Cuba before any major impact by USA tourists. Our tour had been canceled twice before we were able to make the trip. Prior to the cruise emails to Pearl Seas "oyster Society" for ... Read More
Like most of the other reviewers, we wanted to see Cuba before any major impact by USA tourists. Our tour had been canceled twice before we were able to make the trip. Prior to the cruise emails to Pearl Seas "oyster Society" for multi cruise passengers requesting updates on the status of the cruise were ignored. Phone calls to Pearl Seas were not productive and did not provide any information. The usual response was "we just don't know". Embarkation and disembarkation were quick, easy and pleasant. Cabins are large and comfortable. Dining was not up to the quality, variety, or freshness experienced on the Pearl Mist Great Lakes cruise. Entertainment and onboard lectures are marginal. The crew except for the Cruise Directors are fantastic. The Cruise Directors tend to be defensive, non communicative, and uncooperative. The ports and excursions did not match those advertised in the brochures. When the Cruise Directors were questioned about the changes their standard reply was "the Cuban Government is responsible" frequently with a smirk. In my opinion the Pearl Mist was not designed to be an open ocean vessel. Many of the passengers experienced motion sickness on the first full day and last day of cruising. The Captain, who is one of the finest small ship handlers I've sailed with decided to have the passengers bussed across the Island to Havana instead of exposing them to the rough transit around the north end. This was one of the most enjoyable shore excursions of the trip. My compliments to the Captain, ships senior officers and ships crew they do a fantastic job. The U.S. based shore personnel leave a lot to be desired. This was our third cruise on the Pearl Mist and will be the last unless Pearl Seas provides incentives to compensate for their poor past performance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Good ship to see Cuba. Round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale made it very convenient. Especially liked the "one" seating in the dining room. We met a lot of new friends and were able to hear of their experiences. Shore excursions ... Read More
Good ship to see Cuba. Round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale made it very convenient. Especially liked the "one" seating in the dining room. We met a lot of new friends and were able to hear of their experiences. Shore excursions were well handled and no extra charge for sightseeing. The staterooms were larger than normal and were very comfortable, all had balconies. The food was excellent and we were able to order half sizes if we wished. All the crew and dining room waiters were very friendly and quickly learned our names and favorite things we liked to eat and drink. We think this ship is the ideal way to visit Cuba. We would recommend Pearl Seas Cruises "Pearl Mist" if you have a desire to visit Cuba. We found that the Cubans were very friendly. We enjoyed seeing all the old architecture and were amazed how clean the streets were.K Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was a very interesting cruise with excellent program directors and generally good local guides included at each stop. A smaller ship meant visiting many ports other ships cannot enter, no wait at immigration and customs at each port ... Read More
This was a very interesting cruise with excellent program directors and generally good local guides included at each stop. A smaller ship meant visiting many ports other ships cannot enter, no wait at immigration and customs at each port like there would be with huge ships, getting to know many of the 210 other passengers reasonably well, and other advantages, The food was truly excellent, as was the staff. There was an open bar with appetizers every evening before dinner, the cabins and balcony were great, and the music each evening was pleasant and most of it (country, rock and roll, 2-step, waltz) great for dancing. With rough seas anticipated to the west of the island, we were sent on buses to Havana which gave us 2 extra days of hastily but nicely planned visits and beautiful weather in the interior of Cuba and in Havana, where we met the ship. The bonus visits were to the Bay of Pigs, local restaurants that were good, community centers, and extra visits to the market and other places in Havana. The disadvantages of the smaller ship was rough seas on one day back up to Ft. Lauderdale. And the cost per day was higher, but all things considered, worth it. The major thing missing was a few lectures by US Political Science or Economics faculty on the political situation and economic transition in Cuba. The two women speakers had no depth. As an economist who has worked in 22 developing countries, and with a partner who has worked for USAID in many transition economies in the ex Soviet Union, we have seen real poverty but we saw none in Cuba. Per capita income is lower that the US, and houses are modest, but unlike the US everybody has free health care and free education through college.We saw many cane sugar plantations where the conditions under Batista and before were miserable. Private Restaurants and B&B's are springing up, there is no free press, but the transition would appear to be continuing towards a market economy under Raoul Castro. I would recommend this trip to anyone considering it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Chose because it was a small ship, and we liked the itinerary. All and all, we had a wonderful time. The cruise directors were very enthusiastic and able to deal with everyone in a professional and mature manner. We enjoyed our activities ... Read More
Chose because it was a small ship, and we liked the itinerary. All and all, we had a wonderful time. The cruise directors were very enthusiastic and able to deal with everyone in a professional and mature manner. We enjoyed our activities both on and off the ship. We were a little disappointed that our trip started in Santiago rather than Havana, but it actually ended up being better that way. We loved the shore excursions, and the on shore meals as well as those on the ship were excellent. We had rough weather both going and coming from Cuba. In this case, it was better to be on one of the lower decks rather than the 4th and 5th decks. Due to the weather, the captain decided it was too rough to take the passengers to Cuba by ship. So, we got an additional day of sightseeing in the Cienfuegos area (including going to the Bay of Pigs) and then were transported to Havana by bus. (All of the tour buses were modern and had bathrooms.) By traveling to Havana by bus, we were able to see more of the countryside. We stayed in a five-star hotel in Havana, and all of the rooms had balconies with water views. We considered this to be a bonus since it was not part of our originall itinerary. The next day we did more sightseeing in Havana and had dinner at a beautiful old hotel. We re boarded the ship and sailed for Florida early the next morning. I think Pearl Seas went over and above to make sure we had a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
The four young people who were are cruise directors were outstanding. They were attentive and were always trying to get the right information even when the weather was causing changes to our itinerary. They seemed to never sleep. Their ... Read More
The four young people who were are cruise directors were outstanding. They were attentive and were always trying to get the right information even when the weather was causing changes to our itinerary. They seemed to never sleep. Their goal was to help you relax and enjoy each day. I might take this cruise again just because of Kevin, Kristen, and Kathleen (I forgot the name of the fourth person, but she was great as well). The speaker on our cruise was knowledgeable but she was a terrible presenter. It was almost painful to listen to her. I do a lot of public speaking and I may be an unfair critic. But she would definitely benefit from some training. The activities that the cruise directors organized were just the opposite. They know what they were doing and were very prepared. We did a movie trivia and a Spanish lesson that were more like a "comedy" show. They also knew what on shore activities not to miss. For example, Kevin encouraged us all to go to the Iris Jazz Club because of the outstanding young musicians that played. I don't like jazz, but I went on his recommendation. I'm so glad. That evening was one of the highlights of my trip. I would have been sorry to have missed it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise, because like most Americans, we want to see Cuba before Americans ruin it. We also enjoy smaller ships & this ship promised to stop in many ports, originally about 7. We origingallly signed up for the first ... Read More
We chose this cruise, because like most Americans, we want to see Cuba before Americans ruin it. We also enjoy smaller ships & this ship promised to stop in many ports, originally about 7. We origingallly signed up for the first sailing in early 2016. We changed to the 3rd sailing because we were told that the port side would have the best views. That trip was cancelled several times and we finally sailed in Feb. 2017. The ship sailed around Cuba in the opposite direction, so we were on the wrong side. When we asked to change, we were told that one would have no view anyway. Not true. We lowered our expectations each time that we communicated with the cruise line. Our friends who were to originally sail with us cancelled after the 1st cancellation of the trip. We had been to Cuba on our own in Dec. 2016, so we knew what to expect in Cuba. The cruise trip was adequate and the general consensus seemed to be that it was drastically overpriced. This Cuban cruise served no Cuban coffee, provided no Cuban music, had only 1 night of local entertainment on board, other than that, no entertainment other than 2 men from Jacksonville who did the best they could. There was no fridge in the room, no hot tub, no gift shop, and no spa services. On several occasions we were required to carry our own luggage. The food quality was definitely not luxury. Although the alcoholic beverages are included in the price, the bar is not always open. If you care for a glass of wine upon returning to the ship, you are out of luck. (The luxury Chardonnay is Woodbridge.) During the days at sea, the movies to your room are pitiful and the 'educational' talks were amateurish. We were originally promiseed a dive and snorkel day, but it never got scheduled. The cruise line blames everything on the Cuban government. Cuba is difficult to navigate, I will admit. So, if the price for this cruise was more in line with the quality of the cruise, I think that people would be happier. I would like to suggest that people not be permitted to jog on the top deck while people on deck 5 are trying to sleep. I was appalled when we were directed to leave our performance at the Hotel National before they were finished. It was utterly rude and does nothing to enhance the view of American tourists. We will be going back to Cuba, but on our own and stay at Airbnb's, as we did before. I would recommend this cruise to people who don't care about the price and are not interested in trying to negotiate Cuba on their own. I feel that the cruise line did an excellent job in dealing with our adverse weather conditions. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I chose this because I wanted to see Cuba before it was spoilt. Ship was old, no use to disabled. Every seat in the restaurant was either broken or badly repaired. The entertainment was awful. Singers couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket ... Read More
I chose this because I wanted to see Cuba before it was spoilt. Ship was old, no use to disabled. Every seat in the restaurant was either broken or badly repaired. The entertainment was awful. Singers couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and the three “comedians” we had all told the same jokes to different degrees of bad. The ship rocked and rolled even when tied up in port. One night was particularly bad and I was the only one on our table for ten who rocked up for dinner; the dining room was practically empty and it still took over two hours to serve me. The food was ok but, extremely small portions and an excess of courgettes. It was downright dangerous. The hospital did extremely well with all the broken bones. Food and drinks flew off the table and the tables and chairs flew as well in the buffet. This was about my 30th cruise (1st with CMV and last) the worst I have ever had. The painting course was very expensive although the crafters were very good value and some useful items produced. No launderette. Very few pubic toilets. I rang them to take me off their mailing list - I wouldn’t go with them again even if they offered me a world cruise for free!, Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose this cruise because it circumnavigated the island and could land in ports where larger ships can't. The ship sails full with 210. We sailed with 156. The staff was wonderful. The entertainment( Stevie and Dustie) were decent. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it circumnavigated the island and could land in ports where larger ships can't. The ship sails full with 210. We sailed with 156. The staff was wonderful. The entertainment( Stevie and Dustie) were decent. They performed a different music genre each night. The food was gourmet standard. Sit down not buffet. At breakfast you chose your lunch and dinner selections. There was even space to write in special requests. You could even enjoy 1/2 portions. Every morning at 10 fresh cookies were served in the lounge and at 3 tea, and at 5:30 cocktail hour with hors d'oeuvres. There was an early continental breakfast served and also when we came back from a late night excursion, sandwiches were ready for us. There was a 24/7 snack bar. All cabins had a balcony and were spacious. Bed was comfortable. Coffee maker in the room. Victor was a big assest on the cruise. As a US citizen but former Cuban citizen, now based in Miami, he gave a different perspective than we got from the Cuban guides who were good but trained by the Cuban government as to what it wanted us to know. Go to his lectures..The cruise directors were very innovative keeping the guests busy on sea days. Put your cell on airplane. Dont count on internet. It is off and on. Excursions: You have a choice of whole or half day excursions. We chose half day and spent the rest of the day exploring the cities on our own. We felt safe. The local guides were good. The busses were new and comfortable with a bathroom. We were told not to give anything to street people but leave it at the schools we visited. We were told not to pay with US currency because they cant spend it. Cubans have to take the money to and exchange for CUKs or CUPS and are charged a surcharge. If you use euros or Canadian they dont have to pay the surcharge. We only paid for souvenirs. We saw Fidels grave, San Juan Hill, 3 awesome Forts, a symphonic music group, a jazz concert, the Tropicanna Show, 2 art schools, a botanical garden,Hemingways house, a ration store. Walking around towns on our freetime, we were able to poke around and find interesting things. We werent interested in the old cars. We grew up with them and didnt see anythig special. Gas is precious so they have been converted to diesel. You will see air polution. I havent said anything about the poverty. We have traveled extensively on our own in Mexico and Central America away from tourist areas. We didnt see anything in Cuba that we hadnt seen in those other countries. Colonial Cities and poor slummy areas. But it is a clean country and safe. In retrospect we are glad we went on this adventure. We learned that Americans have a Romantic view of Cuba. It is not in reality. There is poverty. It is run as a socialist country They want the Americans to come. Everyone has a job,but the average per month is $24 USD and the highest( govt and drs) about 90USD per month. Education, medical and fent is free. If you get into the tourist industry you can make more. If you go on this tour please tip your driver and guide. It is basically their difference between living and survival dont stiff them. There is no limit on rum or cigars you can bring back. There were accomdations made for physically challemged people. There were people with canes, wheelchairs, electric scooter. They were helped on and off busses and cared for when at the sites. Embarcation was easy. Coming back in, the US agent flipped through our passports and told us to have a safe trip home. No inspections,no interrogations. Just rolled on through. One thing negative is that we drove by a baseball stadium. And they talked about Cuban baseball. It would have been interesting if we could have gone to a stadium and maybe watched a game or a warmup or a few innings. But everything we saw and did was dictated by the government and could change with the wind. It is the government not the cruise company. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Cuba is exotic, unique, and a country waiting for it's future. It's people seemed to have a good attitude and if their Chamber Music group is any indication, fabulous talent! Luckily, my favorite small cruise ship was going ... Read More
Cuba is exotic, unique, and a country waiting for it's future. It's people seemed to have a good attitude and if their Chamber Music group is any indication, fabulous talent! Luckily, my favorite small cruise ship was going there. I like Pearl Mist because it is compact, comfortable, and has a dedicated crew who quickly get to know you. It is relaxing not to have to dress up for dinner; plus, open seating allows one to meet many different people from various locations. I have never failed to find my table companions interesting and pleasant. While many of the amenities provided by the giant cruise ships are missing, for me, the friendly companionship of fellow passengers supported by a highly capable crew makes up for the lack of spas and shops aboard ship. I definitely didn't miss sailing with thousands of other people on board! Cuba is new to the itinerary and so bumps are to be expected when dealing with a recent destination that has a delicate political climate. However, the Tour Director, Kristen, and her staff reacted quickly and competently to a couple of changes that were unexpected. I felt well taken care of, and after all, an adventure is composed of surprises. It is how they are confronted that is important. Staff did a great job handling everything. Both times I have been on the Pearl Mist, they provided very interesting lectures about our various destinations. I value that feature. I love the fact each room has a balcony. The bathroom/shower was specious and well stocked; the bed very comfortable. The layout of the public areas means they are close but don't interfere with desired quiet- at-sleep time. The staff caring for my room kept it spotless. My one disappointment is in the speed of the WiFi. They definitely need a better system. However, at least I had it and it was not an extra expense. The food was delicious and the portions perfect. I plan on using this cruise company again in June, and as new destinations are added, frequently. I also enjoyed their cruise thru the Great Lakes last year. Pearl of the Seas is a bit pricey, but I was a happy passenger and felt the expense was worth it. Provided easy transportation to the airport at the end of the cruise. Finally, I noticed that Pearl of the Seas does a lot to accommodate some rather severely handicapped passengers, both on the ship and on tours. I find that very commendable so that those passengers as well as their companions can see the world along with the rest of us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Two initial irritations: 1) Luxury price and marketing created luxury level of expectation. Nothing compared to other luxury cruises we have been on except price. Average rooms, average common areas and average food. 2) cruise was ... Read More
Two initial irritations: 1) Luxury price and marketing created luxury level of expectation. Nothing compared to other luxury cruises we have been on except price. Average rooms, average common areas and average food. 2) cruise was changed after we paid but before the cruise to eliminate at least one port and excursion. The extra day at sea on this ship was not appreciated. Blamed it on Cuba but we all questioned the motive. Felt like bait and switch. The all day excursions included a lunch that lasted a minimum of 2 1/2 to 3 hours which reduced the number of local things we were able to see. Ship has no store on board, one of two coffee machines available to passengers was broken for about 1/3 of cruise. The lectures provided by Victor were clouded by the fact that he was constantly marketing his travel business. Kevin was by far the best of the four Cruise Directors on board. TV service (or lack of service) was the worst of any ship we have been on in far more remote areas of the world. The water on board had a yellow tint which was disturbing. A positive was that wine and liquor seemed to always be available, which was appreciated considering the lack of entertainment on the ship. Unfortunately, the wine was almost undrinkable and the premium list (for purchase) wasn't much better. The liquor choices were great. Bobo, the F&B Mgr, was outstanding as was Peter, our waiter. Both excelled above others, both in level of service and attitude. Cabin Steward was unable to provide ice at the requested daily time 50% of the days. The ship had some difficulty meeting the established schedule which impacted one entire day of excursions and several late arrivals/departures. Overall, the country does not seem ready to accept a rush of American tourists and Pearl Mist needs to tighten it's act and upgrade the quality of ship as new ships are introduced to the company. Won't recommend to others at this time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
I'm a little late adding my review, but better late than never. My sister and I chose this cruise as a break in between land tours of Mexico and Cuba. It gave us the opportunity to travel and see more places whilst still getting to ... Read More
I'm a little late adding my review, but better late than never. My sister and I chose this cruise as a break in between land tours of Mexico and Cuba. It gave us the opportunity to travel and see more places whilst still getting to sleep in the same bed every night, so it was a great break from the land tours where we were packing and unpacking and moving every couple of days. We sailed Havana to Havana, which gave us the opportunity to spend more time in Havana before and after the cruise (and it was also the starting place of a land tour we did). We loved the ship. Neither of us are fans of huge cruise ships, so this was the perfect size. The staff were all friendly and helpful. Breakfasts, lunch and afternoon tea were all served in the buffet and there was always plenty of choice. There were 2 restaurants open for dinner. We preferred the smaller one on deck 5, but they both served the same menu. The food was very good. I think there was only one meal that wasn't great, and that was the shrimp on the last night. Alcoholic drinks were included in the cruise price and I did my best to get through the cocktail menu, but didn't quite make it! The drinks weren't very strong (which was probably just well!) but they were good. The shows each night were not to be missed. The theatre is quite small and has some columns which block your view if you don't get there early enough to get a good seat. The performers were all very talented and put on a great show each night. We used the laundry service which was fine, but the drycleaning service wasn't very good. The shore excursions were also included in the price. They were all pretty good. They were well organised too, make sure you're on time in the mornings because there is no delay in getting you off the ship and away on the excursion. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Picked this cruise as it is the only itinerary that circles Cuba and makes 3 major port stops: Santiago, two full days and overnight in Havana, and Cienfuego. Originally, the itinerary included Maria Gouda but that was replaced with stop ... Read More
Picked this cruise as it is the only itinerary that circles Cuba and makes 3 major port stops: Santiago, two full days and overnight in Havana, and Cienfuego. Originally, the itinerary included Maria Gouda but that was replaced with stop at Punta Frances, which was dropped from the itinerary. We were not notified of this until two days before departing. Would have been nice to know but it actually turned out fine. Punta Frances is a marine preserve and Cuba is evaluating the impact on the environment because of the increased cruise ships. In the end, the itinerary was packed full and wonderful in any case. This is a fabulous cruise, especially for Americans who have to participate in the People-to-People experience. DO IT! You will be immersed with Cuban artists, dancers, musicians throughout. Entertainment on board each night is spectacular -- first rate!!! All performed by Cubans, who love to talk about Cuba and learn about USA. The excursions gave many opportunities to interact with Cuba culture and talk to people. All guides were Cuban. We had THE BEST lectures on board done by a young Cuban professor -- he was fun, full of information, dedicated to "teaching" us, answered all kinds of questions and spent endless hours talking to us about anything and everything. A big THANK YOU to him and all the performers and cruise director, Danny, and whole animation team. What a great trip and experience. Cabin great. Stayed in 7001 with two other friends. Two-room suite, lots of closet space, great bathroom, spacious balcony. Food sometimes really good; sometimes only fair. Wine list very lacking. Buffet breakfast food always cold, but you can have omelets or waffles made and they were hot and great. You don't take this cruise for the food. Pool small, most of the trip not operational because of netting over it because of waves; never saw anyone in it. No place to sit in loungers after swimming anyway. You don't take this cruise for the pool, but that doesn't matter. You take this trip to see CUBA! and see and enjoy you will. I've been all over the world and this visit to Cuba was powerful. GO! And go on this cruise for a full, real Cuban experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017

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