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12 Pearl Seas Cuba Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because it visited four different Cuban cities: Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana. The appeal of being able to sleep on the ship and not have to pack up and move every few days sold us. The crew is great, and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it visited four different Cuban cities: Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Havana. The appeal of being able to sleep on the ship and not have to pack up and move every few days sold us. The crew is great, and they make every effort to take care of your needs. All shore excursions are included and there are free beverages and a lengthy happy hour each night. A marine biologist onboard provided interesting perspectives on nature topics. The busses on shore are relatively new and comfortable, but those with physical limitations will find Cuban terrain a challenge (no ramps, many stairs without railings, etc.) Because of docking limitations in Havana, the company offered an alternative bus trip from Cienfuegos to Havana and put us up in a nice hotel so we would have an adequate amount of time in that city. There are undoubtedly travellers who will complain about just about anything, but we thought this was a very beneficial method of dealing with unexpected complications from the Cuban port authorities. The people-to-people interactions included several musical performances: chamber music, steel band, jazz. The tour to Muraleandos in Havana was a highlight, showing what the people of that barrio had done to salvage an old concrete water tank and turn it into a community space and arts center. The Cuban people are welcoming and we felt safe in all venues there. A fantastic experience!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We wanted to see Cuba without experiencing some of the issues with land based hotels. We did end up staying in Melia Cohiba in Havana due to the Cuban government changing our docking from 2 days to 5 hours. Cruise directors managed to ... Read More
We wanted to see Cuba without experiencing some of the issues with land based hotels. We did end up staying in Melia Cohiba in Havana due to the Cuban government changing our docking from 2 days to 5 hours. Cruise directors managed to book buses and hotel rooms for everyone...so instead of 1-1/2 days of cruising from Cienfuegos to Havana, we took a 3-1/2 hour bus ride and stayed in a "5 Star" hotel...the stars do not mean the same in Cuba - trust me. All in all it meant we saw more of the Havana area than if we had been able to cruise to Havana. The Las Terrazas excursion was to a bio-farm that was a highlight of the trip, along with the spectacular Tropicana show in Havana.We are 70ish and were able to do all of the excursions we wanted to do. HOWEVER, there were 10 to 15 others who struggled with every excursion. Cuba is a 3rd world country and does not have reasonable (or any) accommodations for people with disabilities. If you use any kind of an assistive device, albeit a cane, walker, scooter or human help, we strongly suggest you not take the cruise. Pearl Seas staff did everything they could to help out, but steep stairs with no handrails, buses that do not lower to make boarding easier, uneven streets everywhere, and no disabled restroom facilities made for a miserable time for them. The experience on land was great...We saw several music presentations which were amazing. The Cuban culture is centered on music, dance, art and a deep love of all three. The people live in abject poverty but they had pride in their appearance and in keeping their homes and streets clean. Many of our guides were professors, lawyers and info techs...but can make more money as your guides! They were open about their country and its poverty and struggles. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The fact that it was a small ship cruising all around the country of Cuba and it was a cultural learning experience appealed to us. Also important was that the weather the time we traveled was supposed to be warm and sunny but not hot and ... Read More
The fact that it was a small ship cruising all around the country of Cuba and it was a cultural learning experience appealed to us. Also important was that the weather the time we traveled was supposed to be warm and sunny but not hot and sticky. The small ship experience did not disappoint as our room was quite nice and especially roomy, our balcony was nice and the decks on the 6th level were wonderful with nice comfy furniture and a combination of shade and sun seating. The cocktail hour on the 6th floor at least twice during our cruise was especially nice. There is exercise equipment and several lounges (both inside and outside) that we enjoyed. There is a nice library and rooms for playing cards/games. There is only one restaurant but it is huge and could easily accommodate the number of guests on the ship. Their was not a lacking of food offered (although there was not food available 24 hours a day which I liked but some of the passengers wanted that service) as the ship offered early continental breakfast in the lounges, breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main dining area; afternoon tea with snacks, and a pre-dinner cocktail hour. The crew were very polite and accommodating. The excursions for the most part were quite interesting (especially the ones that took us through more of the countryside as that was of interest to us), and the buses used were very modern, clean and comfortable. The opportunity to eat some of our meals in the comfort of Cubans' homes or restaurants in port was a plus. All the tour guides were knowledgeable and willing to take questions about their country, culture, and personal experiences which made the connection to the Cuban people more real. The fact that the cruise director offered 1/2 day or full day excursions was very nice considering many of the passengers were of advanced age. My husband and I appreciated that as it gave us an opportunity to meet many veterans from WW II through the IRAQ Desert Storm/Desert Shield wars. We especially liked the fact that we had a Veterans' Appreciation event one afternoon before cocktail hour to be able to thank our veterans. The previous reviews about this ship having a good number of advanced age guests is true and that is one of the thing that I appreciated about this experience...just meeting these great people and seeing how well Pearl Seas took care of them was endearing. We found this to be a plus despite the fact that we were younger than the majority as it was our pleasure to get to interact and learn from them. Because all our ports were in Cuba where the food supply is not plentiful in selection, the food during the trip primarily comes from Fort Lauderdale. Dining was by menu selection with at various selections for a 4 course meal each time. During breakfast they ask guests to pick selections for lunch and dinner. It is my understanding that was done so that the chef could plan adequately for the rest of the day and not waste food. We were also given the option of doing 1/2 size meals. The food was very good and plentiful (if passengers wanted more they were brought more). Many passengers like the 1/2 portions but others didn't. We would definitely take a Pearl Seas' cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We were scheduled to take a land tour but were unsure about accommodations. After looking at the cruises we were intrigued by the size of the ship and the smaller number of passengers. I liked the idea of being able to return to the same ... Read More
We were scheduled to take a land tour but were unsure about accommodations. After looking at the cruises we were intrigued by the size of the ship and the smaller number of passengers. I liked the idea of being able to return to the same cabin and restaurant if we did not enjoy the food on land. First, my husband and I have enjoyed many cruises but the Pearl Mist exceeded any cruises food selection and quality. It was simply delicious. I hate wasting food especially when traveling to a country that rations. So having a menu first thing in the morning allowing you to select what you might want for lunch or dinner and being able to order small portions was ideal. More cruise lines need to do this. The kitchen staff was friendly, helpful and addressed your every need. Amazingly wonderful!! Our cabin was always clean and well stocked. We even had laundry go out and returned the very next day. Impressive. The lounges always had some sort of refreshment and when they set up the bar every person's need most certainly had to have been met. Again, with friendly and accommodating. We were able to enjoy a dinner with the captain as well as one of the speakers. My husband usually does not enjoy this he finds it stuffy. But this captain was so much fun and down to earth. So easy to make conversation. He even let me taste his filet. It was like being with fun family. The cruise directors were young and fun. We did not know that the age group would be much older than what we had expected. But everything ran smoothly and it seemed like everyone had a great time. Also, the embarkation and the debarkation were the smoothest we have ever experienced!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We wanted to visit Cuba and liked that this cruise offered multiple ports of call in Cuba. We prefer small ships, so the Pearl Mist met our needs with itinerary and size. The guests included mostly seniors, but there were a couple families ... Read More
We wanted to visit Cuba and liked that this cruise offered multiple ports of call in Cuba. We prefer small ships, so the Pearl Mist met our needs with itinerary and size. The guests included mostly seniors, but there were a couple families with teen agers. The average age was older that we have had on other cruises. I am guessing average to be about 75 years old. Meals: The food was excellent and we loved that you could order half portions. Since they ask you at breakfast for your selections for lunch and dinner, you knew what to expect the rest of the day. You were not held to the morning choice, but they do this to better estimate quantities. There was always an appetizer, main course and dessert. In the morning, you could order eggs, or other dishes, or self serve at the complimentary bar in the center of the room. Boro, in charge of all dining needs, was always there to make sure you had everything you needed. Wine, beer and other non alcoholic drinks were served in the dining hall and mixed drinks were during happy hour in the lounges and during evening events such as music, etc. On Board Itinerary: The lectures were great, the music in the evening was outstanding and there was a variety of genres. All four of the musicians were personable and talented. Two played in one lounge (deck 2) at happy hour and the other two played in the 2nd lounge (deck 4) and some evenings all 4 played together. Most events took place in the 2nd deck lounge throughout the day and evening, except Happy Hour and snacks were in both lounges. Other events included such things as Bingo, trivia, drink demonstrations, etc. Loved that they served popcorn each evening before the updates and evening music. There was a dance floor and we loved dancing. Crew: All very friendly staff. The 3 directors were wonderful and always there to help. Rooms were always made up promptly. Excursions were well organized, however everything is controlled by the Cuban Government, so there is only so much that the cruise line can do about changes. For instance, our cruise week changed about 9 months before we left, then the direction we would travel around Cuba changed (so we changed the side of the ship our cabin was on). We were only in Havana for one day, and not overnight because of changes by the Cuban Government, or so we were told and I believe it was true. Many days, you chose between a half day and full day excursion. We took all the "all day" tours offered and highly recommend them. After all, you are there to see Cuba. The people in Cuba are very friendly and proud. It is say however, to see the state of things. The tour guides seemed to cover up to some degree, but they are Government employees, so that is understandable. It is good that we have lecturers on the ship who more accurately report the state of things. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We wanted an adult cruise with a small ship atmosphere. The staterooms are well appointed and all inclusive is an understatement. Before leaving I requested items such as a special liquor and wedge bed pillows - no problem. After ... Read More
We wanted an adult cruise with a small ship atmosphere. The staterooms are well appointed and all inclusive is an understatement. Before leaving I requested items such as a special liquor and wedge bed pillows - no problem. After boarding any requests were met promptly and the entire staff was extremely friendly and pleasant. The dining menu was varied and well prepared with excellent service. With only 177 passengers, we almost always either made new friends or were happy to join established acquaintances. There were two lounges where entertainment and lectures were held. The music was great and consisted mainly of 50's, 60's and seventies which played well to the crowd of mainly baby boomers. The lectures were interesting and included much Cuban history and current information. The ship contracted with the Cuban gov't to visit specific ports - the local guides were pleasant but very scripted. The island has many beautiful buildings and the people who entertained us were very accomplished musicians and singers. Unfortunately, the general population and surroundings reflect the extreme poverty a repressive gov't causes. We know of US citizens who traveled not on cruises who enjoyed many areas we were told to avoid - such as the beaches. Embarkation was efficient but leaving was rather chaotic even though there were no hang ups with customs. The sailing was very smooth until the last 2 days and then the disadvantage of a smaller ship became apparent as we were tossed around badly. I would do the lake cruises on the Pearl Mist but nothing ocean oriented. Overall we had a wonderful time but Cuba is definitely off my bucket list! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was a very strange experience. I will divide this review into two sections: the cruise & ship itself; and our visit to Cuba. Regarding the cruise, state rooms are extremely large and comfortable. The ship is immaculate. The ... Read More
This was a very strange experience. I will divide this review into two sections: the cruise & ship itself; and our visit to Cuba. Regarding the cruise, state rooms are extremely large and comfortable. The ship is immaculate. The cabin stewards, waitstaff, and crew members are delightful and appeared genuinely interested in each passenger's comfort. The entertainers, including a married couple, make a major contribution to the overall experience. The lecturers, especially Richard, is extremely knowledgeable, humorous, and prepares you to your visit to each city. The cruise directors were always available and helpful. You spend an inordinate amount of time at sea. It took 2 1/2 days to reach the first port. There is virtually nothing to do on board. Exercise equipment is on an open deck and were covered with canvas and tied up. No doubt this was because of the heavy seas and high winds. Beware: The ship does not handle waves very well despite the claim that there are stabilizers. There was no pool and the only activity other than lectures and evening entertainment is eating. The food can best be described as bland. There appears to be little if any salt or pepper used to prepare the dishes. There are few dished made with sauces. Meal preparation seems to be aimed at the elderly population that inhabits the ship. It's surprising that they did not offer to purée the food! Choices on the menu are relatively boring and repetitive and the ship takes on no new food supplies once it leaves Fort Lauderdale. The fish seems ro get fishier as the days pass. I recommend that when possible, take two meals while the ship is docked off shore. Some excursions include lunch and, by and large, the offerings were mediocre. On the positive side, wine and liquor is readily available and if you drink enough, you may be unable to focus on what surrounds you. The cruise line fails to let passengers know that this is a trip favored by the elderly. I would guess the average age of passengers is well over 82. One man was celebrating his wedding: He was age 91 and his bride was significantly younger. For many, the men are on their second, third, and fourth wives. What a surprise! They appear to be decades younger than their husbands. There is enough Botox in passengers' faces to actually float the ship. Facelifts abound. If all the skin was removed and sewn together, there would be enough to create an entire Cuban baseball team! It is clear that this is not a trip for anyone under the age of 75. As for Cuba, as Columbus described it, it is a paradise unto itself. This is a "people to people" cruise, the legal justification to allow US citizens to visit this country. The excursions were phenomenal. They included a trip to the Tropicana nightclub, a woodcarvers studio, an area in Havana consisting of artistic tiles placed almost everywhere, a concert and a vocal performance. The people of Cuba are warm, friendly, open and are as puzzled as the passengers are as to the almost 6 decade old embargo imposed against this country. Tour guides we're openly critical of their government and the economic problems this country faces. Hopefully, the US passengers will pressure their governmental representatives to lift the embargo immediately. This is a very expensive trip. Although the accommodations were consistent with the price, meals were often mediocre. The ship offers little to do for anyone under the age of 75, a group that appears to be a minority on board. Yet, being able to visit for Cuban cities and meet citizens in every port is a memorable, meaningful experience. Again, if you're under the age of 75, I would consider whether you want to be on this floating senior care facility. Hopefully, we will all be much older and then, this would be an appropriate trip. For ow -- I's find another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
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
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
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
Cuba has been a destination which has been available to Americans for only a few years and in many ways, it is still limited. We sailed under the visa exemption of "people to people" and participation was in, in theory, ... Read More
Cuba has been a destination which has been available to Americans for only a few years and in many ways, it is still limited. We sailed under the visa exemption of "people to people" and participation was in, in theory, mandatory. Older people with medical restrictions were given a pass for trip excursions that were too strenuous. It also helps explain why excursion options were limited. We sailed entirely around Cuba beginning with a two day stop in Havana, the capital and largest city. While the city has been spruced up for tourists, one could not fail to notice the absence of basic maintenance and new investment since the revolution in 1959. Most day trips had the option of a meal in town. The results were mixed. We had two other ports of call, Cienfuegos (and Trinidad) for 2 days (Southest coast) and Santiago de Cuba, the original capital and oldest city in the country (Southeast coast) for one day. Overall the trip was very relaxing as we were at sea more than half the time. The food was extremely good with snacks available at all hours. To avoid overeating required considerable personal discipline. The passenger list and activities scale heavily to seniors, and being active in our 80's, this cruise line and it's parent company, American Cruise Line, have become our "go to Cruise Line" after previous experiences with Seabourn, SilverSeas, Lindblad/National Geographic and others. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We were happy to be on a smaller ship. The rooms had great storage, the food was very good for the most part and the service was fantastic. Because we were on the inaugural Cuban cruise for Pearl Seas, we had extra staff on board to ... Read More
We were happy to be on a smaller ship. The rooms had great storage, the food was very good for the most part and the service was fantastic. Because we were on the inaugural Cuban cruise for Pearl Seas, we had extra staff on board to ensure that things went smoothly. When things went wrong, they did their best to fix it. As an example, one group went to Trinidad for a half day. There was a Cuban tour guide but no staff member from the cruise (that person had to go to the hospital with a guest who had broken their hip).The streets were cobblestoned and in horrible disrepair. They spent about an hour at the model of the city, with each detail of the model being explained by a non-English speaker whose words were then translated by the tour guide. The tour guide never counted heads and one of the guests got lost and the group had to spend two hours on the bus until the guest was found. They didn't arrive back in Cienfuegos until 4:30 (instead of 12:30) and they missed the amazing concert that the rest of us experienced. Amazing response from staff! They listened to the guests' constructive criticism and as a result, those of us who went to Trinidad the next day were warned about the condition of the streets so that we could wear proper footwear. We only spent 10 minutes at the model of the city. A staff member came with us and counted heads at every stop. And best of all, they got the Cienfuegos musicians to play the concert again for those who had missed it. As for shore excursions, we got to see 4 cities: Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. We did spend a lot of time on buses which were comfortable and air-conditioned. We were on a people-to-people tour, which is one of the allowed categories for US citizens to visit Cuba. We met artists and musicians in each city. The concert in Cienfuegos was a highlight of the trip. We had the opportunity to purchase CDs and pieces of art at each place. Havana is tragically beautiful; poverty and sea air have destroyed most of the buildings. We enjoyed the National Hotel, the show at the Tropicana, a visit to Hemingway's house, lunch at a palador and a half day ride in a classic car, which drove us through many different neighborhoods in Havana. I wish that we had another full day to spend on our own in Havana-it may not be allowed by the government, not sure about that. Cienfuegos was next. Tour of the botanical gardens was much better than we expected because the guide was entertaining and informative. The city center is beautiful and we had a long delicious lunch at a palador. We stayed in port that night and took a bus to Trinidad the next day. The city wasn't much (although we had another great palador lunch), but it was so interesting to see the countryside between Cienfuegos and Trinidad and see how people live outside of the city. So much poverty. Our tour guides were all Cuban and really did a good job of explaining their society and culture. Santiago was the most modern city overall (which really isn't saying much). We did tour for half the day and then instead of going back to the ship we stayed ashore to wander around on our own and had lunch at a hotel rooftop restaurant. All restaurants and hotels are government owned. Compared to the palador (privately owned restaurant) the food was mediocre at best but the view was worth it. We had to change our money when we arrived in Havana and just before we got back on the ship for the last time in Santiago. We changed USD which has a 10% penalty on the front end of the exchange. No penalty for euros but my bank fees etc kind of made it a wash in terms of sheer convenience. It was very easy to do the exchanges. The ship's staff was very helpful. I think that they will able to further refine the experiences in Cuba because they are so responsive to the guests needs. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
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