This was a very interesting cruise with excellent program directors and generally good local guides included at each stop. A smaller ship meant visiting many ports other ships cannot enter, no wait at immigration and customs at each port ... Read More
This was a very interesting cruise with excellent program directors and generally good local guides included at each stop. A smaller ship meant visiting many ports other ships cannot enter, no wait at immigration and customs at each port like there would be with huge ships, getting to know many of the 210 other passengers reasonably well, and other advantages, The food was truly excellent, as was the staff. There was an open bar with appetizers every evening before dinner, the cabins and balcony were great, and the music each evening was pleasant and most of it (country, rock and roll, 2-step, waltz) great for dancing.
With rough seas anticipated to the west of the island, we were sent on buses to Havana which gave us 2 extra days of hastily but nicely planned visits and beautiful weather in the interior of Cuba and in Havana, where we met the ship. The bonus visits were to the Bay of Pigs, local restaurants that were good, community centers, and extra visits to the market and other places in Havana.
The disadvantages of the smaller ship was rough seas on one day back up to Ft. Lauderdale. And the cost per day was higher, but all things considered, worth it. The major thing missing was a few lectures by US Political Science or Economics faculty on the political situation and economic transition in Cuba. The two women speakers had no depth. As an economist who has worked in 22 developing countries, and with a partner who has worked for USAID in many transition economies in the ex Soviet Union, we have seen real poverty but we saw none in Cuba. Per capita income is lower that the US, and houses are modest, but unlike the US everybody has free health care and free education through college.We saw many cane sugar plantations where the conditions under Batista and before were miserable. Private Restaurants and B&B's are springing up, there is no free press, but the transition would appear to be continuing towards a market economy under Raoul Castro. I would recommend this trip to anyone considering it. Read Less