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239 Cuba Cruise Reviews

We had cruised this same cruise last year only we boarded in Jamaica. This year we boarded in Havana. The difference is if you book with Air Transat you loose the first night in Havana as you arrive quite late in the evening. We had a ... Read More
We had cruised this same cruise last year only we boarded in Jamaica. This year we boarded in Havana. The difference is if you book with Air Transat you loose the first night in Havana as you arrive quite late in the evening. We had a broom closet for a room which was ridiculously small, twin beds although double was requested, same room category as last year and that of 2 couples traveling with us. We had problems with air conditioning and flushing toilet and little hot water. We had the engine sound all the time or at least that's what it sounded like. After several complaints we were moved when we got to Montego Bay! We thought we went to heaven, hot water, flushing toilet and air conditioning! The food was no where near as previous year! Our food was mostly Luke warm at best and never got a hot cup of coffee! Most meals the severing staff missed one of our group of 6 meals and didn't really seem to care. They were much shorter staff in the dinning room for all meals and the servers only did what their particular task was i.e. Pour water etc. entertainment was fine. Much the same as previous year. Disembarking in Havana was not very organized as people hunted for their luggage and trying to figure out prearranged transportation with port staff. The excursions now included were ok, much the same as last year but they charged for them last year. Overall we were very disappointed and have now gone from recommending this cruise to suggesting it is in need of much improvement. I would recommend boarding in Jamaica as Havana is a wonderful city full of history and culture and fantastic nightlife that you don't want to miss! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We have previously cruised quite widely on ships of a similar size to this from a number of cruise lines (mostly Fred Olsen, Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and less recently, P&O). We always choose a cruise because of the ... Read More
We have previously cruised quite widely on ships of a similar size to this from a number of cruise lines (mostly Fred Olsen, Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and less recently, P&O). We always choose a cruise because of the itinerary, choosing unusual destinations and smaller, less visited ports. Hence, I am writing this from a different angle than most other reviews of Cuba Cruise and will focus on the differences and similarities we saw with the ship and this specific cruise. We went on this cruise as part of a month in Cuba, with ten nights in a Havana Hotel, (one of which we spent in a casa in Vinales) and 11 nights in Varadero. It was our second visit to Cuba. We arrived at Havana port about 3pm and there were very few other people around, which allowed us to pass through the embarkation procedure speedily. There was no one on board to direct us to our cabin as we are used to, but we knew where our cabin was located so had no problems finding it. Other queries/requests had to wait until that evening when cabin staff appeared. We just managed to get a quick lunch, which was served until 3.30pm in the buffet. We then registered our credit card easily as there was no one else at reception and our bags had arrived in the cabin by the time we returned. Our cabin benefited from one of the new balconies and we found the cabin in good condition overall. The wardrobe space was sadly lacking from our point of view, as there was very little hanging space and most of the fixed position hangers were in a section of the wardrobe where the hanging rail was only about a foot above the top of the fridge so that wardrobe and those hangers were not useable. We were able to manage by utilising our cases for extra storage and we had brought some spare hangers with us. For someone who was only away for one week the space would have been OK, (though not what we are used to finding on similar ships). Our cabin stewards Zulema and Quarry were good. Muster drill was very interesting. Our muster station was on the open deck at the very front of Prom deck, so a really good place to be in the event of an emergency! As we arrived there was some gabbled information in about 3 different languages – even the English was so indistinct it was hardly audible. Very swiftly we were dismissed. Certainly not giving confidence on how the ship would be managed in a real emergency. The public rooms were well presented, but the accommodation was not sufficient for the number of people on board. This was not helped by the lack of tables and chairs in areas which could have been used (e.g. the large open deck to the rear of the self service restaurant which had no furnishings whatsoever). The pool deck was constantly overcrowded as there were far too many tables and chairs crammed together there to use for both buffet meals and a bar. The pool deck also had a cover over the top, part of which could be retracted, but was usually partly closed making the area very hot, humid and smelling of cooking fumes if food was being cooked there. There were very few sun beds available on the ship as most were tightly tied in piles and there was little space for them to have been put out anyway. We were not on the AI, drinks and trips package so were able to eat at less busy times during the day and were very thankful of that. We had no wish to sit in the lounges because of the overcrowding so tended to bring soft drinks on board and drink them on our balcony when we wanted to relax. So I cannot comment on bar service. Overall the service in the restaurants was lacking. The staff in the buffet were OK, but most were not particularly friendly or efficient. Many of the waiter service staff were slow, completely disorganised and there were occasions when staff were distinctly rude, like the time my husband asked for a knife and fork and was gruffly told to ask someone else! One day we sat in a restaurant for half an hour and had not even had our orders taken – we left and went to the buffet. As a very marked contrast to this, there was one member of the restaurant staff who clearly surpassed the other staff by his ability, efficiency, speediness of service and persistent hard work. He also had an extremely pleasant personality. This was Sahil Dishiraj Haurheeram, who was from Mauritius and he worked at the far end of the Olympus Restaurant with Renaldo. They worked well as a team under Sahil’s guidance. They also worked in the buffet restaurant during the day. Other staff on the ship were mixed, but the ship did not have the normal hard working, friendly staff that we are used to seeing on cruise ships. This may well be because tips were include or pre paid for many passengers. We booked this cruise as soon as it went on sale, as we were sent an alert, which we had requested from the Canadian company who were then running it. Sadly the itinerary changed the next day, with less time in both Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos and the loss of Antilla, (from where we had hoped to do a trip). There was also a beach day, (as was previously the case), which was a waste of time in our opinion and also in the opinion of a number of other passengers. We did not rush for a tender on the beach day and proceeded to go ashore after there had been an announcement that tender tickets would not be needed and that tenders would run every half hour. A tender left at 10.45am for a trip and there was then a decision that they would not bother sending another open tender at 11am (when one was due), but would leave it until 11.30am. This was typical of the management of the ship – a could not be bothered attitude. Tenders back were equally chaotic with lengthy queues building up. There were no port talks at all and neither information on the ports or port maps were available on Board. It was not easy to find information ashore either, so we were pleased we went equipped with information and maps. Food was OK, but certainly not up to the standard of other cruise ships or the hotels we stayed at in Cuba on either of our visits. Entertainment was typical of the entertainment we would expect on cruise ships with a daily show and lounge musicians. We did not think it particularly had a Cuban feel to it, like we had experienced ashore. The ships we had previously travelled on have been the same age and many even older than the Crystal and we have never before been asked to put toilet paper in a bin. The French version of the cabin sign about this said the pipes are too narrow. The rest of the ship has been maintained, so I see no reason for them not to change the piping. In fact we only used the bin if the paper was just wet and we had no problems whatsoever, although I usually flush ship’s toilets twice if there is solid waste present. Sometimes old ship’s plumbing does get blocked but they then send a plumber along within about ten minutes to sort the problem from the plumbing access cupboard in the corridor. I think it is quite possible that Celestyal just cannot bother sending plumbers to maintain the system. They are only able to get away with this in the summer season as Greece is well known for it’s plumbing problems, so there will presumably be different expectations there. Disembarkation was better than our previous experiences. We had to be out of the cabin by 7am, which was earlier than usual, but the restaurants stayed open for a long time after that and we were not rushed to disembark. In fact, we were allowed to go into Havana and spend some more time there before returning for a quick lunch and then disembarking at leisure. We have experienced this before if on a cruise company’s flight, but Celestyal were very good letting us, (as independent travellers), disembark so late. We did need to collect our cases on the way out that morning, but there were staff at the port who could look after our cases and one of our hand luggage bags until we wanted them, for 2 CUC’s per bag. This worked well. There was someone at the port who was able to arrange a taxi transfer to Varadero at a reasonable cost. We originally asked the Cubanacan rep at the port when we embarked and she introduced us to him as she was not going to be present the next week. Snag was that it was an old American car, but luckily it did get us there and the driver stopped where we had asked for him to stop for a break. We do not speak Spanish, so help in arranging this was appreciated. Overall we did get enjoyment out of the cruise, but it could have been much better. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This is one way to get to Cuba - which is still challenging for Americans. The People to People program and the on-board entertainment were very good. 1. The system for on boarding was VERY disorganized - and no one was there was ... Read More
This is one way to get to Cuba - which is still challenging for Americans. The People to People program and the on-board entertainment were very good. 1. The system for on boarding was VERY disorganized - and no one was there was competent to answer questions. I blame this on Celestyal Cruises. It was very unclear what paper work and extra costs would be charged. Jamaica charges an exit fee. You need a Cuba Visa. etc. The Cruise Line could put a little more effort into explaining the process. Rate this a 1 star for disorganization. 2. Cruise Director - nice guy - but TWICE did on-board announcements for 15 minutes in 5 languages that TOTALLY interrupted two of the People to People lectures. Thanks a lot. How about you coordinate that? Also - stop the upwelling - buy - buy announcements - THEY Are not appreciated. 3. Cabin - 1 star. - Drawers were falling off and would not shut. Moldy carpet. 4. Cleanup crew - 1 star. She kept wanting to come in and "do her thing" when I wanted to be in the room - this happened at least 4 times. 5. Food - and Dining - 1 star. - The cooks work hard - but very little variety and most meats and fish were very over cooked. Cold coffee by the pool. Also - only milk - no soy or cream available. No options if you can't have dairy. If you buy the All Inclusive - they do not have enough bar tenders 6. Entertainment - 4 stars - they were very good. 7. Crew staff - most nice - but as someone else noted the Greek staff seem to have an attitude - but when asked for help with the visa - the Prosser was very rude and the wine steward was also rude. 8. Excursions - they need more explanation - how long they will be - what is available and not available, etc. 9. WIFI - 10.00/HOUR - serious rip-off. 10. Pressure washing the swimming pool during dinner hour - not a nice idea. Not very considerate. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
When we booked in August, 2015, we knew this cruise would be an historic event, but didn’t imagine there would be such media focus on the first cruise ship to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in 50 years. We were pleasantly – and at time not ... Read More
When we booked in August, 2015, we knew this cruise would be an historic event, but didn’t imagine there would be such media focus on the first cruise ship to sail from the U.S. to Cuba in 50 years. We were pleasantly – and at time not so pleasantly – surprised to encounter all the media buzz. I’d love to go back, but next time it'll be on my own. The rest of the world has free reign to travel to Cuba, and it'll start to get easier for the U.S. There are very good tour companies within the country, and it's only a 45-minute plane trip from Miami (~ $450 round trip). ON-GROUND ACTIVITIES The Fathom on-ground activities will be in flux for a time, as they begin with cultural immersion and continue to grow their offerings and opportunities in Cuba. We had some terrific experiences, and some that were less than ideal. Fathom seems to be listening, which is great, though they haven’t talked to me, so I'll list a few things here: Loves: Walking tour of Old Havana, eating at an in-home paladar, speaking with Cuban citizens while walking the streets, our Cuban guides from the tour company, the community centers we visited, the history, the architecture, the street food, the old car taxis, bicitaxis and "coconuts", the craft market in Havana, viewing the ration stores and pharmacies. Not so great: • Revolution Square in Havana - we were given 20 minutes of precious time to view a parking lot. So frustrating. • Visiting two cemeteries: There are only so many people-to-people interaction possibilities here. The cemetery in Cienfuego was the better one, as there was a guide who gave explanations of who was buried there along with some history. There's also a changing-of-the-guard ceremony there, but ours was cancelled due to rain. • Too much time on the bus, and being unable to see all that was pointed out. I’d much prefer to take a hoho (hop on/hop off) bus on my own, and I did see these available in Havana. • Eating in a paladar was a plus as well as a minus. Fathom literature has these described in two different ways: as a family-run restaurant, and as an in-home, family-run restaurant. The owner of one we ate in actually told us it was a restaurant for tourists. I can't imagine a Havana citizen being able to eat here, and I understand it’s about the ability of Cuban citizens to start their own businesses, but these felt especially pretentious. Some cruisers ate at different one, where the family grew their own food and shared it with neighbors, and the business was also frequented by the locals. THAT'S the business I'd like to be supporting. • Being shepherded around in groups, with little or no opportunity to explore (i.e. 20 minutes at a time), or being told we can't leave the group. • Not having most of the experiences that were described in the daily ship newsletter, Soundings. The interactions didn't happen in most cases. Perhaps Fathom should explain that either a.) it's up to you to initiate a conversation, or b.) train their guides to facilitate these discussions. Here are two examples that didn't materialize: o "Enjoy a coffee in Plaza Vieja while a local cafe owner will explain the role of tourism in Old Havana, or see how coffee beans are roasted" o "a private performance" and "an opportunity afterwards to hear directly from the musicians about their lives, training and their roles as music professors at area schools". The performance was great, but there was no follow-up opportunity. THE FATHOM SHIP EXPERIENCE For $8000, I expected the ship experience to be top-notch. We were disappointed. My expectation was based not only on the price, but that fact that Carnival is one of the leaders in the industry with 10 brands under their belt. In practice, in often appeared this line had no cruise experience at all. • Lack of Information: Information was non-existent or late. This was a frustration for months before sailing and continued to frustrate while aboard. • Shore Excursions: Shore excursions were only available the first night. There was no information ahead of time for those who self-booked. Travel agents had been informed, but it you booked on your own you were left out. The information was hidden at the back of a small “Programming Guide” booklet in the cabin. “Shore Excursions” were not listed in the index. Only 3 were available, for the first night only ($199 pp for Tropicana Cabaret, $129 pp for Parisien Cabaret, or $59 pp to hear a cannon blow at a fortress). Hint: Look these up beforehand and take a taxi. • Lack of Water: With temperatures in the 90's, we should have received of a bottle of water getting off the ship when heading on a walking tour. We could have brought a bottle of water from the cabin (4 bottles were left in the cabins at a cost of $3.95 each), but didn't know to do that (or refused to purchase it). Fathom has pushed this off on the tour company and said it would be rectified immediately, but I believe they have an obligation here. There was also no water handed out upon returning to the ship. We were dying of heat and thirst. Some people took taxis back to the ship rather than continue the walking tour the first day. We abandoned our tour group later the next day in search of something to drink. • Choices: There were very few, and I see no reason why some choices couldn’t have been incorporated. For daytime activities you were assigned a group and went wherever that group was headed. There was NO opportunity to customize your experience. (For example, many wanted to tour a cigar factory, or a rum factory, and many wanted more opportunity to shop at local markets. Some of us aren’t comfortable talking to dead people.) I wanted more time to discover on my own. Some guides wouldn't "allow" you to leave the group. I was so glad we didn't have to hold hands! • Organization: It just wasn't there. Each day you’d receive a group number and a time. When your group was called, you’d go get a sticker with a new group number and board your bus. We went as Group #1 was beckoned each day because we like to be out early. It didn’t matter one bit. • Ship activities: There is no casino, which I knew from the start. There were no theatrical shows. There were 3 dance classes (2 Salsa classes the first night, 1 Bachata class on day 4). I wish these had been daily. A Wine & Paint night was cancelled and never rescheduled because there were very important people on board who took precedence (the media, travel agents, and cruise line VIPs and their friends). A cocktail class seemed popular, and the Spanish phrases class was a very good one to attend. A camera class was unfortunately titled “Visual Storytelling”, but it’s a very useful class. There were also various enrichment classes that may be of interest to some, but which I found odd (The Story of You, Curiosity Advantage). • Speaking of VIPs: Yes, this was an important first, but paying passengers should not have played second fiddle to the media, the travel agents, or the friends and family of cruise ship employees. • Specialty Restaurant: There is only one, the Ocean Grill. I was told they were booked solid the first day but it was possible to put your name on their waiting list. I heard this on Day 3 and therefore didn’t make an attempt. • Spa: I called to make massage appointments for me and my husband but they had no availability other than for hair blow-outs. I was put on the waiting list but didn’t receive a call. I later heard they filled up the first day. • Customer Service: They have a long way to go and need to put some focus on this. • Cruiser Bonus: We were offered the chance to stay on board for the next cruise to the Dominican Republic for only $99. How I wanted to go! The offer was put outside our cabin doors "between midnight and 6 a.m". on Friday. We didn't receive it until we were leaving for the day's activity that morning, and it said it needed to be turned in by "tomorrow, May 6, at 6 p.m.", which was actually TODAY. I had to check with my employer first though. When we returned, I tried to reach my boss and her boss, but by 10 p.m. still hadn't received word back. I figured I'd better turn in the request anyway, because I just couldn't wait any more. Even though it was past the deadline, I asked them to PLEASE consider it and explained I was trying to get the time off. Nope! They denied it simply because it was late, they never sent it in, told me they called my room but they hadn't, and didn't troubleshoot when I tried following up the next morning. It was SO disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The trip was categorized as people to people (P2P). The on-ground guided tours were a mix of site seeing via walking and bus hosted by Havana tours. Note: The streets may be very crowded. Surfaces include cobblestones, uneven ... Read More
The trip was categorized as people to people (P2P). The on-ground guided tours were a mix of site seeing via walking and bus hosted by Havana tours. Note: The streets may be very crowded. Surfaces include cobblestones, uneven pavement and marble (slick). There may be limited accessibility for those with mobility restrictions. With the heat and walking many travelers found it difficult to keep pace and opted to stay on the bus or return to the ship. Remaining from the first cruise and still Not so great: General: There was still NO opportunity to customize the experience. For daytime activities, you are navigated around in groups. We were told not to leave the group and had a person assigned to ensure we were all together. To facilitate P2P interactions, you could initiate conversations with the locals while on the walking tours. However, this was hard to do because you needed to stay with the group. Having the experiences that were described in the communications is the luck of the draw. Experiences were dependent on where your group is assigned to visit. One group ate at the same Palador as President Obama did in his visit, one group did arts and crafts with children, and another visited an illustration factory. Walking through multiple cemeteries remained a key activity. This would have been better as a bus ride. Note: the cemetery in Cienfuego has a changing-of-the-guard ceremony which does require walking to view. This was the first time for some of the tour guides thus the explanation of sites and knowledge shared between groups differed greatly. The private performance from the National Choir lasted for almost an hour in a non-air-conditioned theatre. The theatre was beautiful but the heat was smoldering causing people to sleep or get over heated. There was not a follow up opportunity for P2P interaction. Shopping: There was little time for shopping. The “best” shopping is in Havana but there is also availability in the other ports. In the places we were taken it was trinket shopping i.e. key chains, magnets, cigars, alcohol. At one site, there were 3 bus loads in the same store – it was Black Friday at Walmart. Changing money: There was a fee which equates to about 13% to exchange. Note: some vendors provided change in US dollars. Tips: Ship gratuities were included; however, tipping amounts were suggested and expected for the wait staff and musicians in Cuba. In lieu of tipping the musicians, you could purchase their CDs. Tipping was expected if the restroom is attended. At one restroom location, I only had $1 in various coins to tip with and the attendant refused the tip because it was coins. Others experienced the same refusal of coins. I never received an explanation of why. THE FATHOMM EXPERIENCE Like a review from the first cruise for the price paid, I also expected the ship experience to be top-notch but was very disappointed. It still appears that this line has limited cruise and hospitality experience. Communication: Examples - Final information was received on Thursday for a Sunday departure. The Journey planner did not allow login to view or print information on the Saturday prior to departure. The same paper work that had been completed online had to be filled out again during check in. There was no signage at check-in so the process of what to do where was unclear. Shore Excursions: Still only 3 were available and for the first night only ($199 pp for Tropicana Cabaret – this is outside, $129 pp for Parisian Cabaret, or $59 pp to hear a cannon blow at a fortress). Food: The food on ship and at the paladors (independent restaurants that provided lunch) I visited was fair. Note: take stomach meds with you even off the ship. Fathom listened to at least one suggestion and provided bottle water on tours and in the paladors. On board bottled water is $3.95. Check if you can bring bottled water aboard. Ship activities: There were a couple of movies on deck, dance classes and some classes/activities. Some activities were product selling events. Customer Service: There is still a very long way to go. There was obvious special treatment to certain passengers such as the travel agents and their friends over the full pay passengers. Internet: The cost is expensive for what is received and service spotty. Cruiser Bonus: We were offered the chance to book again to Cuba at a reduced price while on board. A better choice would have been to allow 30 days after the end of sailing to take advantage of this opportunity. There are numerous opportunities to provide feedback while on ship. It was a better than a comedy show to hear people complain about everything from the size of the glasses to food to bathrooms. However, the most interesting comment came from a 12 year old who stated her observation of people actually talked to each other and not consumed in electronics devices. It's clear that the Cuban government is still working to accommodate cruise passengers and that this is a work in progress for both the cruise line and Cubans. The most touching gestures were the waves of welcome and good bye received at each port. There looked to be an entire elementary class which stood at the school and waved goodbye. Take some time to speak with Cuban citizens, take a ride in the old car taxis, bici-taxis and "coco taxis". Your experience depends on you. Have an open mind and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cuba was great; Adonia was pretty good; Fathom was disappointing. If your goal is a real cultural immersion in Cuba, find a people-to-people on-land tour. If your goal is a quality cruise experience with an experienced cruise line, pick ... Read More
Cuba was great; Adonia was pretty good; Fathom was disappointing. If your goal is a real cultural immersion in Cuba, find a people-to-people on-land tour. If your goal is a quality cruise experience with an experienced cruise line, pick something other than Fathom. If you want to split your time between a whirlwind tour of Cuba and on-board personal growth activities, and you don't mind being the guinea pig this cruise line learns on, this would be perfect for you. If you already booked this cruise my advice is to go out on your own on your free night in Havana, do a lot of reading and movies on your own before you go and while on the trip. Bring a guidebook. Ship: We thought the British-inspired decor, British-Indian cabin and dining crews and British menus were quite charming. The food was good and the ship appeared to run smoothly and efficiently. Bring your sea bands -- our motion-sensitive family members found the motion of a smaller ship to be more noticeable. Shore excursions: The shore excursions were pretty good. The local guides were very good -- well-educated, experienced tour guides who discussed not just local landmarks but also daily life in communist Cuba. These guides were our only real "people-to-people" interaction, and were pretty much the only sources of information about economics or politics of Cuba on the whole trip. There were no choices about shore excursion activities, and it would have been helpful if people had the ability to choose more or less active excursions to fit their physical capabilities, and possibly to focus on interest areas. On one day tours split up among a variety of sites for about half the tour time, and there was no choice about which site you might be sent to; you were randomly assigned to a bus. We got lucky and were sent to a neat site (the Muraleando art school neighborhood project), which allowed for some people-to-people contact. I thought the variety of activities packed into our limited time on shore was appropriate. Arts were heavily emphasized which was OK for me, but might not be for everyone. Our family used our free night in Havana to go out on our own and loved that. The ship's newsletter descriptions of each day's shore excursions routinely promised leisurely people-to-people conversations that never occurred. Our family joked that this was our experience of communism -- reduced individual choice and "news" that was really full of lofty idealism that did not have much to do with the actual activities. On board entertainment: With marketing phrases such as "Travel deep" and "Cuban movies, Cuban music, Cuban cuisine – they’ll all be part of your outbound voyage, as you learn more about the remarkable people you’re about to meet," or "Your time on the island is intended to be a genuine cultural exchange experience – part learning, part pure enjoyment – as you get to know the Cuban people face to face," we were expecting the on-board activities to be primarily related to cultural immersion and study of Cuba. But apparently Fathom's interpretation of "travel deep" is exploring YOURSELF, not the country you're visiting. Most of the on board activities were about how to develop your curiosity or become a "changemaker" or meditate, NOT about Cuba. The blue shirt Fathom activity crew members were generally uninformed about Cuba and appeared to be getting all of their information from participating in the tours along with their passengers. There was one very poorly organized book discussion (the book title was not announced until the night before the discussion). There were movies every night but only two of the movies were Cuba-related (the excellent Havana Motor Club and The Old Man and the Sea). In short, the cruise actually offered LESS cultural education activities than my parents' regular cruise line, Princess -- just language lessons and a port overview lecture. We knew it was a smaller ship that would not have some on-board entertainment such as a casino, so that part was not a disappointment for us. We did have live music every night on the ship except the night most people went out on shore. The ship's own little band included talented musicians capable of a broad range of musical styles and they did a nice job of splitting into solos, duos or trios to offer a variety of different types of shows. They also brought on board two different Cuban bands and offered many Cuban dance lessons. If there hadn't been so much hype about how the Fathom experience was supposed to be MORE of a cultural immersion and people-to-people interaction than other cruises, we probably would not have been so disappointed, but the Fathom marketing led us to expect a truly educational experience, and instead we got an inexperienced cruise line focused on personal growth. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise because of the promise of a deep people-to-people experience to the island of Cuba. It was marketed as an opportunity to “travel deep". Our disappointment began when we had virtually no communication about the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the promise of a deep people-to-people experience to the island of Cuba. It was marketed as an opportunity to “travel deep". Our disappointment began when we had virtually no communication about the trip for months, the website for inputting information repeatedly lost our critical information, and phone representatives were uninformed. We were not provided what was promised in marketing materials. It was a classic "bait and switch" experience. We were told we would get but DID NOT GET a choice of what we saw and did, a Cuban film festival, Cuban food on board, lectures and information on Cuba, contact with Cuban people other than our tour guides, and a "walk in Hemingway's footsteps" (we didn't go to Cojimar at all!) Just one example: we were promised a "most memorable performance from the Choir of Cienfuegos...Following the performance discuss, among other topics, the life of a musician in Cuba, how each member came to be a part of this choir, the schooling it took to get to this point, and also their roles as music professors at area schools helping to keep the tradition of Cuban music alive." We saw the concert, applauded, and then were hurried in mass out of the theater, barely able to thank the performers while walking out. When my husband and I stopped to talk just a few minutes, we were left by our tour group! There were NO port lectures except one "management lecture" before Havana that explained that we would be assigned buses and would go where that bus went - no choice! Ship activities were similar to what one does with youth groups exploring their identity or volunteer groups needing to develop a sense of team. Neither are a top priority of the cruisers who paid to go on this cruise. These were largely accomplished adults with discretionary income who wanted to learn about Cuba. Activities were poorly attended. Travel deep perhaps means personal inner growth? Even if one agreed with that philosophy, these were poorly done. There were conversation tent cards on dining tables (always the same topic for 7 days "How has the internet changed your life?" "Experience guides" in blue shirts had an appalling lack of knowledge about Cuba and that surfaced in the book group discussion and questions asked on tours. The most annoying thing, however, was the explanation that they "didn't know they were going to Cuba until March"; we should be patient with them. Really? We had to pay our money in December! We knew we were going to Cuba! The big event on the last evening was a Super Hero Party. Dress to show your super power! And if you don't know what your super power is, they would help us. We didn't go. I don't know how many went. It just really summed up the disconnect with their guests. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We went on this cruise for two reasons: the opportunity for people to people personal interaction with Cuban people, and typical cruise amenities. We were extremely disappointed in both respects. The cruise line's promotional ... Read More
We went on this cruise for two reasons: the opportunity for people to people personal interaction with Cuban people, and typical cruise amenities. We were extremely disappointed in both respects. The cruise line's promotional materials are so misleading as to be fraudulent. Absolutely no entertainment on board. Everyone went to bed after dinner since there was nothing else to do. Despite promotional claims,there were no true person-to-person interaction with Cubans, unless you call bus tours with Cuban drivers as interaction with Cubans. Mediocre and uninformative lectures , e.g. learning basic Spanish, were given by youthful members of crew. Food was very mediocre, at best. Despite promotional claims, there was no Cuban food served on board, although there was plenty of Indian food. All members of my party of six suffered from norovirus, presumably caused by fecal matter in food, although, strangely, this was not publicized. An entire section of the ship was without functioning toilets on two separate occasions. Ship had to return to Miami shortly after sailing due to loss of electric power. Repair delay caused us to totally miss one of the three planned stops. Ship gave a whopping $75 dollars in on-board credit as compensation (pretty much useless since there was very little to buy at the ship's two small stores.) The people-to-people experience claims were fraudulent, apparently intended to gain US approval for the cruise as an educational experience. Only positive aspect was excellent service throughout the ship. All in all, a very disappointing experience...would definitely not recommend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We wanted to go to Cuba, but what Fathom promised was not what was delivered. We were disappointed when the Hemingway in his footprints was not included. The activities on board were an extra charge.(dancing lessons) The tour bus had the ... Read More
We wanted to go to Cuba, but what Fathom promised was not what was delivered. We were disappointed when the Hemingway in his footprints was not included. The activities on board were an extra charge.(dancing lessons) The tour bus had the bathroom closed and we had to wait until we reach our destination. We went to the bathroom and it was disgusting, on top of that we had to pay $1.00 for 4 sheets of toilet paper. The tours were no better, we would be dropped off and you were on your own, the people to people were falsely stated by Fathom. We paid $398.00 for the Tropicana Review, the show was wonderful, but for what we received 1/2 bottle of Run and 2 cans of coke was a bit much. Extra cokes would cost you $3.00 a can and if you wanted to take photos you had to pay $5.00 We were expecting Cuban meals on board just one night and it was ok. The on-board activities we thought were included, but there was a fee for the activities they offer. Our bathroom backed up and it took 2 days to be fixed, we had to use the public bathroom one deck up. After we returned home we found out the same cruise we were on the price was half price, we paid $8,600.00. We could have gone on any other cruise would have received a Suite. Where Fathom came up with a $16000.00 for a suite for two was just outrageous. Disappointed cruising to Cuba, I'll just cruise anywhere but Cuba or THE GREAT USA. I don't recommend this cruise, only those that live in Florida and can cruise to Cuba for $599.00 for an inside cabin. Everyone else pays this hefty price plus airfare Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Cuba is all new even to seasoned cruise passengers. We called our travel agent but she said they were not authorized to book to Cuba yet…so we spoke directly to a Fathom agent. Spoke to a very nice lady there…she asked what type ... Read More
Cuba is all new even to seasoned cruise passengers. We called our travel agent but she said they were not authorized to book to Cuba yet…so we spoke directly to a Fathom agent. Spoke to a very nice lady there…she asked what type of cabin we would be interested in… told her we like a port side balcony cabin someplace in the middle of the ship…she suggested A050. When we heard the price $4333.00pp we were taken back ….. She told us that if we booked by the end of the week we could get a ship’s credit - still unsure - she said she could hold that cabin 48 hours…plus we would be put on a list for an upgrade. ..... We booked May 2nd… for a June 12th sailing. It was Fathom's 4th cruise to Cuba :) ..... We experienced problems with our cabin and also found out we paid A LOT more than other passengers! (See cabin review below) ..... On board it was an average cruise...with daily activities & some entertainment...the personnel were pleasant and the food was good. Our waiter & server (Lincoln & Patrick) were extremely nice and we looked forward to seeing them each evening at dinner. The ports were very good and the tours and tour guides we liked very much. Minor things like having a bus that the toilet did not work or a restaurant that was not ready for our group to eat lunch there - understandable with all the newness of a Cuba cruise. Loved the Cuban experience and the people we met. We are so happy that Americans can now visit. Considering the price we paid~the value of the cruise was terrible...and that is why we rated the cruise as poor. Considering the price Florida residents told us they paid - we are confident they felt the value was very good.. AFTER the cruise ......... We did send a certified LETTER to Ms Tara Russell (CEO) ... but are quite sure she never even saw it ....(mailing address Seattle Wash)....as it seemed odd our Letter was answered with an EMAIL from a customer service rep. and not a Letter from Ms Russell or her assistant. Any dealing we have had or our friends have had with CEOs of companies... CEOs always without exception replied directly or an assistant on behalf of the CEO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The Fathom Adonia is a beautiful ship. The staterooms were acceptable but the operation, crew and food were one star if that! 1. Upon arriving at the dock the representative had no P.A. system and was yelling out instructions of how ... Read More
The Fathom Adonia is a beautiful ship. The staterooms were acceptable but the operation, crew and food were one star if that! 1. Upon arriving at the dock the representative had no P.A. system and was yelling out instructions of how they wanted us to board the ship . Since no one could hear him this created much confusion. 2. When the ship departed there was no sail away party. Just we were underway. 3. The food o on the Buffet area was so poor that you had to read the signs to figure out what it was The order of selecting food was NO ORDER. You had to cross over to get hot food. The carving station was general closed. 4. At dinner I ordered Strip Steak, I was presented with roast beef on another night I asked for veal and got pork. 5. For the diabetic there was never any deserts put out. I asked for sugar free and twenty minute latter it showed up. However when I ate this sugar free deserts my sugar level shot up to over 200. You can figure that out. 6. Menus at the bar never had what was printed in them. I was told they were mistakes in the menu....... 7. The staff in my opinion paid more attention to themselves then entertaining the passengers. 8. The entertainment was an English band that played music form the 80's and the majority of the passengers were over 70. They did have a great Cuban group on for a day from Havana. 9. A major sticking point with me is seeing members of the crew (officers) drink. Sorry I don't care if they are off duty. In an emergency everyone of them need a clear head. 10. Also with the crew many of them needed to be instructed as to how to wear their uniforms. The shirts on some of the officers looked like they needed to be laundered and press. Many of the officers couldn't even get their name tags on correctly and far be if they spoke to you. Saw the Captain ONCE in port and she shot by.not even acknowledging the passengers. 11. They would have the band playing on the pool deck before the ship sailed but they stopped playing right before we got under way when the people came out on deck. 12 Speaking about the pool the pool deck was so HOT that you could not walk on it bare foot. Hey fathom they make plastic mates for that problem!. 13. Breakfast was the same for seven days! Most of the staff would walk by you in the buffet/lido restaurant . The only staff that would assist people have problems were the Filipino staff 14. Finally I paid $199.00 to see a show in Havana through the cruise line If I went I my own it would of cost about $60. I believe in profit but not rip off Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I chose this cruise because of the experiences it promised. Unfortunately I paid a fortune for this terrible experience. I didn't get to see half of what they promised and spent my time in the ports being shuffled on and off a but ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the experiences it promised. Unfortunately I paid a fortune for this terrible experience. I didn't get to see half of what they promised and spent my time in the ports being shuffled on and off a but without seeing half of what they promised. One of the busses in Santagio ate at a restraurant that made everybody on the bus sick and were told that was the risk they took going to cuba. The tour guides spoke little English and were unable to contribute much. Also each tour bus did something different! They went to different places and ate at different quality restraurants. The ship was no better! The food in the restraurant was terrible and everything was covered in the same brown gravey on they gave it different names every night. The cruise was half full and the staff was not friendly or attentive. The cruise even ran out of coke a cola for its cubra libra's! I paid full price for the cruise which no sells for $200 $800 or $1500 a person! Even at that not worth it. You are better off waiting for the other cruise line to start to go to cuba~ Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We decided to take this cruise because it was an opportunity to see three cities in Cuba before Cuba opens to the USA in a big way and changes. It was advertised as a way to see Cuba, its people, and culture. We went the 10th week that ... Read More
We decided to take this cruise because it was an opportunity to see three cities in Cuba before Cuba opens to the USA in a big way and changes. It was advertised as a way to see Cuba, its people, and culture. We went the 10th week that Fathom has done this cruise. Compared to other cruises we have taken we were sent minimal information on the cruise and itinerary in Cuba, We assumed, incorrectly, that that information would be provided to us when we embarked. There was a Fathom app that we got for the smartphone, but it was not very useful, had the wrong date of the cruise (it was set for the week before) and at least one lecture was put on the wrong time. There were 2 one hour talks on Cuba the night we embargoed but we missed them. The only notice was in a small daily magazine in our cabin called Soundings. We only noticed this magazine the next morning - too late by then.. Embarkation at the port of Miami was relatively smooth except for what we did with our visas and signing a long multiple page form about what we were to do in Cuba. Fortunately, we sat next to a tour guide for Road Scholar who explained it to us. The long form made no difference, but had we not handled the visa correctly it would have been very serious and expensive.. There was no onboard greeting with small drinks as most cruise ships do. No captain's reception - in fact were never saw the captain. The ship is a very modern comfortable ship. It is small enough to be able to get around easily. The décor varies. Some of the lounges and the library are like an English country house with comfortable chairs and fake fireplaces. The wine bar is more modern. The two restaurants are very well appointed. The buffet/cafeteria The Conservatory Buffet) on the upper deck Is more modern and stark. The open air tables and chairs at the back of the Conservatory Buffet are wonderful and open at the back of the ship. The cabins are relatively large for a cruise ship. They have a TV that includes several US channels such as CNN and Fox. There are also 3 channels of movies, but there is no guide to these movies, so you would have to stumble into a movie that you wanted to see by chance. There is a channel that could be used to put the daily schedule in but it is not used - the small river cruise ships in Europe at leas hat a white board with the daily schedule on it - not here. There was a .desk on the 4th floor dealing with shore exclusions, but you had to go done there and ask. The food on the ship is average at best. and does not compare well with other cruise ships we have been on. Only one pastry seemed like it was actually baked on the ship. The choice was limited. There was only one dinner roll offered that was extremely dry. Some of the fruit at breakfast was OK, but others had no taste. The pizza at lunch was good, however. This was true both for the Conservatory Buffet and the Pacific Restaurant (we did not eat in the extra cost Ocean Grill). Fir example, the Pacific Restaurant offered a desert of assorted chees and crackers. However, when we got it it only had one cheese and that seemed processed. On the other hand the breakfast buffet had several cheeses, one of which was very good. We recommend eating in the Conservatory Buffet because there if you get something that Is not good you can try something else. That is unfortunate because the Pacific Restaurant offers the only real chance to socialize. The food was almost institutional. I suspect, but cannot prove, that much of the food was frozen and heated on the ship. There are a lot of bars on board. I don't drink alcohol, but the prices are at the upper end for fine US restaurants. We did not see any drink packages offered, and did not hear of a "happy hour". A soft drink package might have been nice. The service was not exceptional, and certainly not up to the standard of most cruise ships. This may have been because there was a mandatory tip included in the final bill. Interestingly enough, the mandatory tip only included the wait staff, and not the rest of the crew. Access to the internet is a problem. The cheapest service offered was $18.75 for 24 hours. There was no per minute charge or discount for the entire voyage offered. The internet was also slow. Not slow enough not be able to E mail, but noticeably slow. The included shore excursions to Cuba are not good. They relied on Cuban guides from the state owned tourist service. Two of ours spoke good English, but one did not. They used a single microphone and speaker - done of which you could hear on the street. Why don't they use the in-ear devices that the river cruise ships use in Europe - Viking and Grand Circle for example- for shore excursions?. We basically were shown just buildings. We brought a guide book to Cuba with us from the US that was more helpful that the guides. No tours of cigar factories, Hemingway's house in Havana, factories, houses, and the like. Two of the lunches provided on shore were not very good and took up a lot of time. There were a few talks on the ship but these were by Americans. No historians. No Cubans. There must be thousands of Cubans living in Miami who could be on the ship to give us detailed information about Cuba and Cuban life. Essentially, this ship functions as a ferry to Cuba. The main problem with going to Cuba this way is that you spend very little time in Cuba and most of the trip is on the ship. If the ship were a conventional cruise ship with great food, great entertainment, or even extensive lectures on the Cuban people and culture that would be one thing - but the ship is none of this things. Our recommendation is to do what one couple we meet on the ship did. They off got off the ship in Havana and hired one the 1950's US cars for a 4 hours fabulous tour of Havana - the driver knew Havana and took them to the places that they wanted to see. The driver even took them to his father's bakery. they negotiated to about $10 an hour (US) per person but they paid in KUCs. Once you get off the ship you can do whatever you want. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I found this company about 6 months ago while looking for companies that offer tours of Cuba. At that time we USA citizens still had limited access to Cuba and the tour companies offering tours usually charge $1000 per day for land tours. ... Read More
I found this company about 6 months ago while looking for companies that offer tours of Cuba. At that time we USA citizens still had limited access to Cuba and the tour companies offering tours usually charge $1000 per day for land tours. I then found Celestyal Cruises offering the "People to People" program for USA citizens and the all inclusive (gratuities, liquor and exclusions) cost for the 2 of us was $3400 for their 7 day package. So we were sold and looked forward to our first glimpse of Cuba. 1. The ship is old but spotlessly clean and well maintained. 2. The crew were wonderful and always available to assist. 3. Our cabin was small (no tiny) and the bathroom even smaller. All cabins were the same small size. The beds were more like cots, low to the floor. So low you couldn't put your empty suitcase under the bed to save space. OK the cruise was cheap and we stayed out of the cabin as much as possible. 4. The ship was not full at all and their second dining room was closed. There is one main dining room and one buffet room. It doesn't matter which one you go to, the food was barely edible. Breakfast, the same everyday. Warm fresh fruit salad bar, cold eggs, bacon, and all other foods that should have been hot. If you want omelets or pancakes you must go out to the pool area for these items, thankfully made to order & hot , must then go back inside for coffee and any other items like salt and pepper. I asked where the toaster was to make toast, but they had pre-toasted the bread & put it in with the danish and obviously cold and hard as a rock. Lunch, did vary but only slightly. They had a roast every day and a carver to serve you. But all roasts were so overcooked, they looked grey. We made a salad for ourselves and added some cold cuts (all room temp.) Cruise ships are famous for their hamburgers. But not Celestyal. So overcooked they were dry and hard. No french fries either. Dinner in the dining room was odd to say the least. We like a table for 2 but the room is set up like a cafeteria, 90% of the tables were long tables for 8/10. If you wanted a table for 2 you had to be one of the first 10 couples in line at 6:20 p.m. The menu offered a Chef Special every night of a Cuban specialty. The chef had no clue how to make any Cuban dish. Most folks would just send it back. By day 3, we tried to just have 2 or 3 starters and no main course offering . Our waiter tried but never got the concept that a starter could be a main course too. By day 4 we just went to the buffet. The bread offered at all meals were dry, tasteless and mushy, like our Wonder Bread, in roll form, or baguette form. 5. All inclusive drinks - You still had to present your ship's card, every time you asked for a drink, even a bottle of water. The "bartenders" are European trained and have no clue how to make a good cocktail/drink. And although all-inclusive they measure each and every pour. Quickly we realized we had to ask for a double measure to even taste the rum or whatever. The wine offered at dinner was just what they gave you and if you like sweet cheap wines then you have it made. If you want any other wine that is not their pick of the day, you then must pay extra. Our box wines are better then their offerings. 6. Excursions - Wonderful. The locals guides went out of their way to inform us and give us an eye opening experience in Cuba. We only had 3 ports of call with an overnight in Havana. 7. Entertainment - For long time cruisers we were pleasantly surprised that the ships entertainment was really good. Most ships now have lousy shows but the guys/gals on this ship were great. 8. Dress code - Don't waste your time with even one large suitcase for 2. Jeans were the norm at dinner. Their "Elegant" night was laughable. Jeans were still the norm. And yes, tee shirts were worn and dress up for guys was a clean polo shirt. Overall - The crew was great. We met fun people. We got what we paid for, a cheap 7 day trip to get a glimpse of Cuba. Yes, we definitely want to go back and especially Havana for maybe 3/4 days. But Never again will we waste our money on a Celestyal cruise anywhere. we both came home and I was the exact same weight and my better half lost a pound. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We choose this cruise mainly because of stops in Cuba and grand Cayman. I will catalogue below, but our biggest disappointment of the cruise was the fact that even though the itinerary stated we were going there! When we booked the ... Read More
We choose this cruise mainly because of stops in Cuba and grand Cayman. I will catalogue below, but our biggest disappointment of the cruise was the fact that even though the itinerary stated we were going there! When we booked the cruise the first stop was Cayman but this was changed. The day before we were due to go to Cayman the captain announced that we were unable to go yo Cayman as our anchorage had been cancelled as the bigger boats had priority! Poor reason not to go as this cruise hat been booked a year in advance. So my catalogue begins Arrived at Montgo bay our visit to Jamaica and only got to see the airport. The plane got in at 2.15 and we were kettled into a corridor at the airport in a queue until 4pm waiting for a coach transfer! The boat left for Cuba. Arrived at Cuba again queued in a corridor for 30 mins for a coach to go for a five minute drive to pick up a car tour. Julie the cruise tour manager was clueless! The lido pool deck was never clean. You never saw a drinks waiter you had to go up to the bar. Dishes lefty lying around and the tables never wiped. Most of the entertainment very ameature Positives Orion restaurant brilliant Broadway theatre fantastic Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
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
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
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
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
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
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
We chose this cruise because it offered 7 ports of call, more than any other cruise ship. Three of those ports Maria La Gorda, Parque de Nacional Alexandro de Humboldt and Holguin were unique to this cruise line. When we paid our deposit ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it offered 7 ports of call, more than any other cruise ship. Three of those ports Maria La Gorda, Parque de Nacional Alexandro de Humboldt and Holguin were unique to this cruise line. When we paid our deposit we received a letter saying we would have our final itinerary with excursion details 3 months before departure. We didn't receive details until 3 weeks before departure when we were informed that there would be only 4 ports of call and the 3 unique ones were cancelled. No explanation was offered. This change came after we had made our required final payment and after the time for cancellation with a refund had run. Customer service was nonexistent. We emailed Pearl Seas 2 times before the trip asking for an explanation of the new itinerary and a partial refund based on the reduction in ports and excursions (which were included in the price). No response. While onboard we were informed that the change was because of the Cuban government but we also learned that the 3 omitted ports had been omitted on every cruise the Pearl Mist took before our's in 2017. One of the cruise directors was unable to explain why we had not been notified earlier of the new itinerary but offered to send PS an email from the boat promising that they would get back to me with an explanation. They never responded. We went on the cruise. What we did and saw was fine. The cabin was on the big side. We had a deck. Seating was open in the dining room. Food was fine. Wine and beer was free with lunch and dinner and were fine. Lecturer Ted was knowledgeable and a good speaker. The other lecturer was neither. Excursions were all run by Havanatur, a Cuban company. Their buses were nice but guides were uneven. Some were very difficult to understand. Per our new itinerary sent 3 weeks before the trip we were to go to the Botanical Garden in Cienfuegos one day and take a bus tour to Trinidad the next. When we got on the boat we found you had to pick one or the other as the tours were on the same day. On any given day different tour buses stopped at different sites but we were never told ahead of time which bus was stopping where so there was no opportunity to chose a bus based on your personal preferences. We have friends that were considering this cruise so we paid special attention to handicap accessibility. The boat was reasonably handicap accessible although there was a railing on only one side of the hallways and the elevator did not go up to Level 6 where the outdoor happy hours were held. The tour buses had a high steep step to get onboard and 4-5 steep steps after that. Walking tours were often on uneven cobblestone streets or sidewalks that had inconsistent cutouts to accommodate walkers or wheel chairs. Many of the sites we visited had steep steps with no hand railings or steep thresholds to get into buildings. Cuba in general was not handicap accessible and many restaurants required navigation of stairs. This cruise had a luxury price but what they delivered was anything but. Still upset about the change in ports without notice or written explanation we emailed the president and vice president of American Cruise Lines (the parent company) when we got back from the trip. We asked for an explanation of why we weren't notified of changes in a timely fashion when we could still cancel and get a refund and we asked for a partial refund. We received no response. We then sent a letter to the same executives. The vp responded in the last week thanking us for writing and telling us that they would share our concerns with the Cuban government to make it a better experience. Again... no explanation for why they waited until 3 weeks before our cruise to tell us that none of their Cuban cruises had stopped in the 3 ports that were omitted. We ended up spending an incredible amount of time at sea. 49 hours getting from Ft. Lauderdale to Santiago de Cuba, 24 hours between Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos, 41 hours between Cienfuegos and Havana and 18 hours to get from Havana back to Ft. Lauderdale. Not what we paid for! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We choose this cruise because it advertised 7 ports but did not find out until we boarded the ship that it had been reduced to 3. I don't care if it was because of problems with Cuba, we should have been notified and given the ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it advertised 7 ports but did not find out until we boarded the ship that it had been reduced to 3. I don't care if it was because of problems with Cuba, we should have been notified and given the opportunity to cancel. At the very least we should have gotten a refund for the port fees that had been included in our cost. The stateroom was half the size of the picture on their website. We called Pearl Seas directly to verify the direction of the cruise in order to pick our stateroom and be able to see the shore line but when the cruise started it was going the opposite direction. The entertainers were mediocre at best and the furnishings were shabby. We had one server that was downright rude (Fred) and the food was adequate - nothing to rave about. But to be honest we had some wonderful servers who did a lovely job. One of the lounges on the ship was on the second deck, which had the WORST smell. Either they had a serious sewage problem or worse, a severe mold issue. Unbelievable. The one good thing was a lecturer that they had onboard - Ted Henken. Thanks to him we learned a lot about Cuba and saw more than expected with a greater appreciation. Would not recommend this company. They also travel to the Great Lakes and are a sister company to American Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017

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