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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My wife and I, plus another couple, booked the Pearl Seas (PS) 11 day Cuba Cultural voyage. We selected PS because of the itinerary visiting 4 main cities (Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana) starting with Havana on New Year’s ... Read More
My wife and I, plus another couple, booked the Pearl Seas (PS) 11 day Cuba Cultural voyage. We selected PS because of the itinerary visiting 4 main cities (Santiago, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana) starting with Havana on New Year’s eve. My wife and I have only taken 6 previous cruises (Seabourn, Lindblad, Princess, Crystal, Uniworld, and Viking) for comparison purposes. I typically write and post reviews after our trips with respect to the hotels and cruises we stay. I attempt to be objective and helpful. Here is the one for the Pearl Seas cruise to Cuba. Overall, we’d mark PS at the bottom of this group. Why? The pros and cons: Housekeeping, meals, and meal service were all quite good. Meal selection was more than adequate; meals were well prepared, open seating timeframes were generous, and staff were courteous and prompt. Drinks (wine, beer, and cocktails) were plentiful. Wine selection was limited but the alcohol selection was clearly above average. Cabins were quite large, all had a balcony, in-suite bathrooms, and amply sized shower stalls. TVs were small but had good channel reception during the cruise. Rooms were cleaned twice a day. Wifi/internet service was spotty, slow, and sometimes non-existent. It would be helpful if PS informed it’s passengers beforehand not to count on getting internet service. The ship was well maintained and laid out. One must remember it is a relatively small ship and it rocks a lot even in small wave situations. We were in less than a sea state 1 (small choppy waves) and approximately 15 crew members were seasick as a result. Meals are served on the first deck and most presentations and meetings are on the 2nd deck. Passengers staying in cabins on the 4th and 5th deck were constantly climbing stairs. They had one small elevator and it was quick and available throughout. People with mobility issues would be well served to get cabins on the 2nd or 3rd deck. On board presentations were below average in quality, detail, content, and preparation. Presenters were friendly and funny, but seemed to read from Wikipedia vs impart expert knowledge and experience. Some presentations were actually verbal readings of previously handed out material. We frankly stopped attending them midway through the cruise. Quality of tour guides was generally high. It’s obvious cruise lines need to use the Cuba government owned tour agency guides so there is not much that PS can do about sourcing their guides. All were college graduates and knew their material. They responded to questions, were friendly, and appeared transparent when talking about Cuban culture, economy, history, and politics. Some English was excellent while a few were difficult to understand. The litany of problems however started the first day. After boarding at our first meeting, we discover the itinerary had been reversed so we’d be spending New Year’s eve in Santiago instead of Havana and seeing Havana last instead of first. This was a keen disappointment. Moreover, our initial itinerary stated we were on the ship for the full cruise and that we had 4 nights onboard the ship in Havana. Instead, they bused us from Cienfuegos to Havana (4 hour drive) and we stayed at a hotel for 2 nights (the nice Parque Central hotel) meaning we all had to pack for the overnights. None of this was communicated beforehand. Given PS arranged for the buses and made reservations for over 150 rooms at a 5* hotel, one would think they knew about these changes in advance and could have communicated it to the passengers. Changes these major, in my opinion, should have been conveyed. That said, the hotel was beautiful, location was excellent, and service was good. Similar changes occurred throughout the cruise. Tour times were changed from morning to afternoon seemingly at the last minute. Some activities and sites we were told we’d see were not actually covered on the tours. We were told we’d use the “whisper vox” devices for some of the tours but the tour guide did not use them making it harder for a passenger to hear the walking tours. While in Havana, one had to find the cruise director to understand what the schedule was because nothing was written and distributed to the passengers the night before or morning of the tours. These are only a few examples. As a result, it felt there was a lot of “last minute” planning or little planning. The most visible example was when returning to the ship in Havana. As passengers we were told to take our luggage with us and be processed. It turns out there were long lines, lots of stairs, and significant confusion. We had numerous passengers who needed assistance due to walkers, canes, or age. Only 1 member from the ship’s crew (the musician) was there to try to let people know what to do. No one else from the boat crew came to help with baggage, no one came to assist the mobile challenged passengers, and no one was “directing traffic”. Almost comical was the fact we found guidance on giving tips with the tip envelop in our cabins after we boarded. In summary, we give an overall rating of a 3 out of 5. With better pre-planning and earlier, transparent communication, it could easily have been between 4 and 4.5 Read Less
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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The ship was phenomenal with good food, great cabin (Deck 2), wonderful stops, a two night stay in a 4 star hotel in Havana, and great talks with a person affiliated with National Geographic. The crew was very hospitable as well as the ... Read More
The ship was phenomenal with good food, great cabin (Deck 2), wonderful stops, a two night stay in a 4 star hotel in Havana, and great talks with a person affiliated with National Geographic. The crew was very hospitable as well as the cruise directors and met every need that was asked of them. There were 187 passengers. The meals were very good with multiple choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was an open bar from 5 or so until late at night as well as beer and wine at lunch and dinner. The cabin was very large and had a small balcony. There were plenty of drawers and storage space and the bathroom was very adequate. The four port stops were outstanding and since our ship couldn't dock in Havana (only two slips for large ships) they bused us 3 1/2 hours across the island and put us up in a very modern Spanish hotel that provided breakfasts and dinners. The day tours included lunches at local restaurants in all the ports. The exercise equipment was old and in some cases not working. We were told that the ship was going into wet dock and the equipment was to be replaced. There were 2 bikes but not hooked up electronically. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this vessel and cruise company because of the size of the ship. We were not disappointed at all! The rooms were comfortable and sized well, as were the bathrooms. The crew was attentive, polite and always helpful. The meal choices ... Read More
We chose this vessel and cruise company because of the size of the ship. We were not disappointed at all! The rooms were comfortable and sized well, as were the bathrooms. The crew was attentive, polite and always helpful. The meal choices were varied and always terrific. Service in the dining room couldn't have been any better. Everything was included in the cruise price and we had 3 meals a day, The crew did laundry for me about 6 times while on the cruise, there was happy hour every day with a wide variety of drinks and eats. I couldn't say enough about this cruise experience! I have already booked another cruise with the same line on the same ship for 2020! If you are looking for a relaxing, educational, and fun cruise this would be the one. We were not interested in the gym at all. There was some equipment on one of the decks, but I cannot review it as I never used it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
This ship has a great and comprehensive Cuba schedule.The cruise is all-inclusive of excursions and drinks.The staff is outstanding in their attitude and service. No nickel and diming of the passengers. Staterooms are roomy and ... Read More
This ship has a great and comprehensive Cuba schedule.The cruise is all-inclusive of excursions and drinks.The staff is outstanding in their attitude and service. No nickel and diming of the passengers. Staterooms are roomy and comfortable. Food is outstanding and varied choices. Entertainment is limited but very good for a ship that has 210 passengers. You will learn a lot and have some real fun on this ship. Getting on and off the ship is a breeze compared to the larger ships. Cabins all have accessible balconies with two chairs and a table. Showers are of good size, but there are no bathtubs in the cabins. Lounges are of good size and all have free refreshments and snacks as well as coffee and expresso. Captain's happy hour starts at 5 pm and continues to dinner time, where beer and wine is also included with your meal. In addition, the complimentary bar is open after dinner in the lounge where entertainment is provided. . Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Let me begin this review by saying that anyone who travels to Cuba needs to be flexible or choose a different destination...the Cuban government imposes changes on cruise ship schedules, which is no fault of the cruise line and those ... Read More
Let me begin this review by saying that anyone who travels to Cuba needs to be flexible or choose a different destination...the Cuban government imposes changes on cruise ship schedules, which is no fault of the cruise line and those changes can/will happen to any cruise ship. Our Pearl Mist voyage had two major changes: 1) We sailed in a clockwise direction (the opposite of the planned schedule) which put us in Santiago de Cuba rather than in Havana for New Year's Eve. The cruise line arranged for us to attend a fabulous local outdoor party at a 5 star Melia hotel, with 2 bands, unlimited cocktails, and appetizers. It was all very upscale and festive. 2) Instead of the three days we were scheduled to be in Havana, our ship was allowed just 12 hours at one of the two cruise docks. So we were driven on a 31/2 hour bus ride through the countryside (that ride gave us the opportunity to see the Cuban interior rather than coastline) and the cruise line put us up at a lovely 5 star, centrally located, Havana hotel, the Parque Central. The cruise line had 15 days notice to arrange this alternate plan at an expense to them of $100,000! I call this going above and beyond! Our cabin was slightly smaller than we've had on other cruise lines, but very adequate including a balcony with a table and 2 chairs. We ordered room service breakfast one morning and had a delightful meal on our patio. We were on Deck 3 and found no need to use the elevator...most activities are on Deck 2 and 4; The dining room is on Deck 1. There is an elevator for those needing it, but we didn't see it getting a lot of use. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals...the food was expertly prepared and the service was the same as you would find at a 5 star restaurant. The meal choices were varied, 3 courses, and delicious. Breakfast offered both a buffet and table service. We were asked to order lunch and dinner at breakfast to allow the chef to prepare, but were told we certainly could change our choices at mealtimes. Half portions were also available. We had a cocktail hour from 5-10:30 each evening with top shelf liquor: Glenleviet, Grey Goose, etc., a pleasant surprise. Which brings me to additional charges...there are NONE! They don't even ask for a credit card at boarding because there is NOTHING to pay for, including laundry! The only exceptions are gratuities, which can be left on a credit card charge, dollars, or euros and tips for tour guides and bus drivers. All of our tour guides spoke very good English and were quite knowledgeable and friendly. Because this cruise is a people to people trip, our tours included artist co-operatives and studios, botanical gardens, etc. but these were mixed in with city and landmark tours, an evening at the Tropicana, and a fabulous tour in a classic car. Because we chose full day tours (half day options are available) we had lunch at a variety of local restaurants and paladores. Some, of course,, were better than others, but all included beer, wine, and cocktails, and provided another opportunity to see how Cubans live. The Cuban people are lovely, welcoming, and happy. We always felt very safe, so much so that we ventured out on our own in the evening. Entertainment consisted of 2 musicians who played music of the era of the guests aboard the ship. (50's and 60's rock and roll) For a small ship, the entertainment is exactly what we expected. There are lectures and classes (mojito making, salsa dancing) during the day. The guests ranged in age from 40s to 90s. Maybe this was just our cruise, but the guests were so friendly, well traveled, and so much fun and made our trip that much more memorable. The dance floor was crowded every night, maybe the top shelf liquor had something to do with that?? The cruise staff was great from the cruise directors to the waiters to the cabin stewards...They were all charming, accommodating, and professional. One note: Small ships are not as stabilized as massive ships. As were traveling around the tip of the island, the seas were a bit rough and were asked to stay off the outdoor decks for a few hours. My husband was not bothered at all, but I have a tendency to experience motion sickness. I had asked my physician for sea sick patches before we left home, and I am very happy that I did! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We, as most of the passengers on this ship, choose it because it promised so much time on land in Cuba. THAT was LAST year, NO LONGER. We were in Cuba ONLY 3.5 days. And the ship constantly blamed the government when that was not usually ... Read More
We, as most of the passengers on this ship, choose it because it promised so much time on land in Cuba. THAT was LAST year, NO LONGER. We were in Cuba ONLY 3.5 days. And the ship constantly blamed the government when that was not usually the case. Crew members readily admitted that they could not remember ever being on land for seven days. Furthermore, we are cruisers who typically sail with Oceania or land trips with Tauck, both are higher end, more pricey than average vacations. This Pearl Seas cruise was the MOST EXPENSIVE per day vacation we have ever taken. It was not even worth it at half price. Go to Cuba any other way that you can. Here is the reality. While Pearl Mist was one of the first to go to Cuba in-depth, it is now being pushed out by ANY larger ship because there is more money in allowing the larger ships to use the very LIMITED port facilities (only two ships can dock in Havana at one time). Does the government want the 200 pax ship or the 2-3,000 pax ship?? The same thing happened in Cienfuegos, with buses and tour guides. The larger Oceania ship went to the Botanical Gardens; Pearl Mist told us that the gardens closed early that day. We did not see the gardens. The food was barely average. There is always a chicken, fish, meat and veggie option, they were always just a little strange, not continental. The chef and kitchen staff are all Filipino. Furthermore, the waiters did not want to hear about any variations on the menu. For example, the salad course offered Caesar salad with shrimp. I did not want the shrimp; the waiter said it would be a problem as the salad was already plated. I repeated my request, and he said he would try. Luckily I am not allergic, as someone just took the shrimp off the salad. Any request for meat that was less than well done was NEVER executed; it was always overcooked. The ship has only one dining room option, there is no casual eating restaurant. Furthermore, this ship is sea worthy enough to make the trip, but if there is ANY rough weather, you will be unhappy (and most likely sea sick). Most pax were sea sick for several days. The good news, the rooms and baths are spacious, but no refrige. Internet is included, but so slow that it reminded me of 30 years ago dial up. TV is satellite and limited. The lectures were good, the music was not. AGAIN, GO TO CUBA ANY OTHER WAY YOU CAN. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I understand that travel to Cuba is not totally predictable, but an unpredictable Cuban government is very different than a deceptive itinerary. Our "Planned Cruise Itinerary" says we will have a "day of cruising" only ... Read More
I understand that travel to Cuba is not totally predictable, but an unpredictable Cuban government is very different than a deceptive itinerary. Our "Planned Cruise Itinerary" says we will have a "day of cruising" only twice during the entire cruise. The reality was 2.5 days of cruising out of Fort Lauderdale and a total of 5 days of cruising. We were told the only change was the time in Havana that was cut short by the Cuban government. I also think that as a small ship the Pearl Mist could be more mindful of waste. Plastic water bottles were so plentiful that people would take a few sips and abandon the bottle. We have been on other small ships that provide a refillable bottle and have refill stations throughout the ship. I still cringe when I think of how many plastic water bottles were disposed of by this ship. They could also have served condiments such as mayo, mustard, jam and syrup in refillable ramekins instead of the tiny, individual glass jars that are impossible to get all of the contents out and make more trash. Our entertainment was three speakers and two musician/singers. One speaker was quite good and the other two fair; but the two others were good musicians but absolutely horrible singers. Surely in Florida there are some Cuban musicians who would have been a better choice. Finally, there was not enough communication between the cruise directors and the local guides. The guides were oblivious to the many physical difficulties and necessities of the guests. The reality with this group of passengers is that they were the most physically disabled group I have ever traveled with, and this was not a handicap-friendly country. Finally, the food is mediocre. My rating RE embarkation is because they left the luggage of four passengers on the dock in Fort Lauderdale. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to experience Cuba before it gets too commercial so we booked a 12day/11 night cruise on the Pearl Mist. We ended up being on Cuban soil only 4 days of the entire trip, and they added Freeeport, Bahamas for the 5th day off the ... Read More
We wanted to experience Cuba before it gets too commercial so we booked a 12day/11 night cruise on the Pearl Mist. We ended up being on Cuban soil only 4 days of the entire trip, and they added Freeeport, Bahamas for the 5th day off the ship; way too much time at sea. While Cuba itself was fantastic, the food on the ship was very good and it was very clean, it was completely unacceptable that they shortened the 8-day promise of Cuban shore time down to 4 days, and some of those days were only half days! They completely misinformed/advertised deceptively of how much time would be on shore. Of course they say that it was out of their hands, Cuban changes, etc. but it was an extremely expensive trip to start with, and they should be held accountable for more time on shore, or a reduction in price. Also, we were told (in print) that the first night dinner would be served on the boat, but we ended up not boarding till past 7:30PM and there were only cold sandwiches offered after much complaining about the situation by all passengers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Their Cuba itinerary is a straight flat lie! They publish as if they are having 7 excursion days in the island of Cuba, out of 12 total cruise days. We actually got only 3 excursion days! (2 full days and 2 half days) in Cuba. Not to ... Read More
Their Cuba itinerary is a straight flat lie! They publish as if they are having 7 excursion days in the island of Cuba, out of 12 total cruise days. We actually got only 3 excursion days! (2 full days and 2 half days) in Cuba. Not to mention that they cruise during the day and dock at night, instead of cruising at night and leaving the days for touring. There was nothing to do onboard during these 6 days of cruising. The first day we left at 9pm instead of 1pm. The last day we arrived at 6am. So total of 10 not 12! The food is not what you would expect for the high end price. The only good thing about them is the on board staff which are trying their best to cover up for the management. The company has not even responded to our complaint (check their BBB rating of D+). Read Less
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