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6 Cuba Repositioning Cruise Reviews

You can see photos from this cruise and our other sailings by following the link on our Cruise Critic profile page: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/profile/35108-jgnova/ I had a “zero birthday” coming up and wanted to do ... Read More
You can see photos from this cruise and our other sailings by following the link on our Cruise Critic profile page: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/profile/35108-jgnova/ I had a “zero birthday” coming up and wanted to do something special to celebrate – which provided a great excuse for another cruise. But it had to be something special – new ports and/or a new ship or, even better, a whole new (to us) cruise line. We also had the additional requirement that, because of health issues, the embarkation and disembarkation ports had to be within five hours travel time from our Northern Virginia home. I put together a list of options, which were mostly sailings from Miami or Fort Lauderdale that included the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao). One option stood out because it also included two days in Havana, Cuba, and was on Azamara Club Cruises Journey. This was a 16-night repositioning sailing from Miami to Manhattan, with stops in Havana, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, St. Barts, Sint Maarten, and Hamilton, Bermuda. With four new (to us) ports on a new (to us) ship and cruise line, this became the obvious choice. And we are very happy we made that choice. Ship: The ship is lovely and very well maintained, despite its age – they were even refinishing the corridor handrails near our cabin. Like other ships under the RCCL umbrella, Journey was filled with artwork – paintings, prints, and sculptures (many by Salvador Dali) all over. The ship felt very bright all over – even the staircases and elevator lobbies, despite not having windows, felt very bright and open. The only times the ship felt crowded were when everyone tried to be in one venue at the same time – like White Night by the pool or the last two nights’ shows in the cabaret – and the staff brought in chairs for those events so everyone could sit. Cabin: The cabin had plenty of room for all of our stuff – drawers in the desk and in the closet, lots of hangers. There was plenty of light in the cabin, including extra lights by the desk, the bed, and a working balcony light. The cabin thermostat even seemed to work properly! We discovered that the coffee table by the sofa had a lever that raised it from coffee table height to a height that worked for eating our room service breakfast when we couldn’t eat on the balcony. Food: The food selections and quality were outstanding. With the exception of the AzAmazing Evening, when we ate in Windows (buffet restaurant) because of time constraints, we ate all our dinners in Discoveries (main dining room). We usually arrived around 7 PM and never had to wait for a table, which we usually shared with others, allowing us to meet many new people. Besides the menu selections, each night’s choices also included a chef’s selection and something more international, typically linked to the international themed dinner in Windows that evening. We could choose wines (at no extra charge) from each night’s selection of two whites, two reds, and a rosé – and they would pour wines offered on previous nights as well. We ate most breakfasts on the balcony, which was a treat – the server would even spread the tablecloth for us! The food was hot and usually delivered on time. We could even add things to the menu if we wanted (like a smoked-salmon omelet!). I had a few breakfasts in Windows on mornings when we had an early excursion and the selection was excellent. As opposed to other cruises on which we’ve sailed, instead of placing the omelet order and waiting while it was cooked, I just took a table card with a number and the omelet was delivered when it was done. The servers also provided all of the beverages, including fresh-squeezed orange juice. The ship had a few options for lunch. On days when our excursion returned in early afternoon, we went to the Living Room, where they had small sandwiches and desserts available. (That venue also had tapas in the early evening.) Other days, I would grab a burger (delicious) from the Patio or a salad from Windows and eat by the pool. Service: Service on the ship was excellent. The staff and crew would always greet us – our cabin attendants would open our door for us if they were nearby when we were returning. The pool staff were constantly walking around to clear up towels from vacated chairs and to take drink orders and clear up empty glasses. Entertainment: The entertainment was excellent. The ship’s cruise director and assistant cruise director each did a couple of shows and they were great performers. The ship also had an onboard troupe of six performers (four dancers and two singers/dancers) who did three different shows during our sailing. We were also entertained by a violinist, a magician/comic, and a pianist/singer, who joined the ship at different ports during the sailing. The violinist was a special treat for this voyage because of his work with Cuban musicians and students – and because he was joined for one piece by his young son, an incipient star. This was in addition to the pianist in the lounge and the ship orchestra and instrumental trio playing at different times throughout the ship. Our only complaint was about the volume – the cabaret shows would have been much nicer several dB lower. Ports: With the exception of Sint Maarten, we used the ship excursions in all of the ports. Cuba: The tour guides both days were very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. The bus was quite comfortable as well. Cuba is a very interesting place to visit for many obvious reasons. There are very few private cars and most people use buses or shared vans for transportation. The six-lane highway leading to Havana was almost empty and there was little traffic in Havana itself, something unimaginable in most other national capitals. Most of the urban-area buildings are in various stages of disrepair, which is a shame because they looked as if they had been beautiful before the revolution. Houses in the outlying areas looked better-maintained. We did the Jewish Heritage tour our first day in Havana and visited a Jewish Cemetery, two synagogues, and a Jewish-owned boutique hotel. We got to meet with a community leader at one of the synagogues and he answered our questions about the Jewish community’s history and current life. Our second day in Havana, we went to Ernest Hemingway’s house in San Francisco de Paula (about 9 miles from Havana), and were able to see how he lived and the tower next to the house in which he did his writing. We then went to one of his favorite bars in Cojimar, where we saw “his table” and enjoyed a daiquiri made the way he drank them. We then went into Havana to another of his favorite bars (how many did he have?) and braved the crowds to have a mojito. We then had time to walk around the cathedral and other historical sections before returning to the ship. Aruba: As we had never been to Aruba before, we took a ship excursion tour of the island. This tour included a visit to an aloe processing plant, a lighthouse, a natural bridge, and the fascinating Casibari Rock Formations, which I’d like to visit again to see the petroglyphs. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and the bus was fairly new and very comfortable. Curaçao: Again, this was our first visit so we took the ship excursion for an island tour. We got to see a coastal national park to see the cliffs and rock formations along the coast and watch the strong surf. We also visited a lovely beach, the old salt flats in an unrealized hope to see the flamingos, and a former estate house most recently occupied by a famous local artist. As was the case in Aruba, the tour guide was quite knowledgeable and bus very comfortable. After a quick lunch in the Living Room, I hiked from the port into town to see the old synagogue, which we couldn’t tour because it was closed on Sunday. This also gave me an opportunity to walk across the Queen Emma Bridge, a pontoon bridge that floats on the water and swings off to the side to let ships through. I also was able to get a closer view of the Queen Wilhelmina Bridge, the tallest bridge in the world, and two other small lift bridges in Willemstad. Bonaire: Another new island and another ship excursion tour. The tour guide was knowledgeable, but the tour company used a smaller bus that was not as comfortable, especially for those stuck in the seats over the wheels. We got to see Bonaire’s lovely coastline, old salt flats with many flamingos raising their young, an old house showing how the early island residents lived, some slave huts right on the coast by the salt flats, and a modern salt processing operation. The tour guide was very good, but she had to keep telling the driver to slow down so we could take photographs. St. Barts: Although we had been to St. Barts five years earlier, we had seen only the port area in the capital so we took another island tour. This tour was in a mini-van and the tour guide was not very effective at discussing much about the island characteristics. We did get to see several beaches and the beautiful island geography. The company arranging the tours should have done a better job preparing a guide for the driver to use. Sint Maarten: We’ve been there several times and I decided to have a beach day. I had searched the web before the trip and found that two bars with beach chair/umbrella rental facilities had reopened at Orient Beach so I decided to go there for the day. There is a taxi rank right off the pier complex and the people there will assemble groups to various destinations. I was able to share a taxi with few other visitors (from another ship) and paid only $9 for the trip instead of the $25 the trip would have cost for just me. The taxi dropped us off mid-beach near the Bikini Beach bar, which looked nice. However, someone at the port had told me that Kon Tiki, a short walk down the beach, had better food. I paid $15 for an umbrella and comfortable chaise (including a cushion) for the day. There were attendants patrolling the beach to take food and drink orders, and the bar and restaurant looked great and had brand new facilities. So I had a lovely day on the beach watching people windsurfing and doing other watersports. Bermuda: We’ve been to Bermuda twice before, but we were docked at the Royal Dockyards at the far end of the island. We took ferry trips to Hamilton and to St. Georges, but had never seen the Bermuda countryside. This itinerary had us docked right in downtown Hamilton so we were able to walk around to see the shops and restaurants. We also took a ship excursion that drove along the south coast of the island to the Royal Dockyards, giving us a chance to see the lovely beaches for which Bermuda is famous and some historical areas. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkation was fairly smooth with priority processing only for suite guests. While we had completed the forms for the Cuban visas, we forgot to bring copies with us, so we had to take time to write out second copies, which the port people insisted we needed even though we had copies at home. Disembarkation was slower than normal, probably because the immigration people had not planned on the high percentage of non-U.S. citizens, who took longer to process. Once through immigration, we located our luggage and found a porter quickly, who then took us out to the drop-off area. We were picking up a rental car and driving home, so I walked about 2 ½ blocks to the car rental office, picked up the car, drove back to the pier, picked up DW and our luggage, and headed through the Lincoln Tunnel. I think I spent more time in line at the car rental office than it took to get to the office and drive back and get to the tunnel. Overall experience: This itinerary was an excellent balance of port and sea days, with 8 ½ days in port and 6 ½ days at sea. The majority of the passengers were from the United Kingdom, which was a new experience for us, and we got to chat with a lot of people from places we had only read about. With fewer than 700 passengers on a smaller ship, we were more likely to bump into the same people repeatedly and get to know them. Even with open seating at dinner, we wound up having the same tablemates a few times and would greet each other by name when we were walking around the ship or sitting in the cabaret. Another pleasurable aspect of the cruise was that we didn’t feel hassled to spend money. Drinks and wine were included if we didn’t request premium brands, as were coffees. And there was no constant sales pressure to eat in the specialty restaurants, as we’ve experienced on other lines. The senior ship staff were always present and visible – the hotel director would frequently assist seating passengers in Discoveries and we saw the Captain walking around the tables at least once. The captain and hotel director were at the gangplank every morning when we left the ship for our excursions, wishing us a good visit. Captain Johannes and Cruise Director Eric had a constant repartee during the noon announcements, with the captain teasing the CD about his shirt every day and the CD finding something funny to say in response. They obviously have a great relationship and that enhanced the voyage. This was the best cruise we have ever taken, thanks to the ship staff and crew, ship size, passenger friendliness, food quality, and itinerary. We are looking forward to another. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We previously sailed on the Insignia. We have never been to Cuba before and the cruise stopped at three ports in Cuba. The embarkation was a little slow for a smaller ship. The dining was very good in all the restaurants on board. The Wi ... Read More
We previously sailed on the Insignia. We have never been to Cuba before and the cruise stopped at three ports in Cuba. The embarkation was a little slow for a smaller ship. The dining was very good in all the restaurants on board. The Wi Fi access is free one device per cabin. The speed was very slow at times and some websites would time out before I could login. The cabin size was okay with a veranda. There was limited desk space. There were cabinets and shelves all around to store clothes and personal items. The bathroom was small with a shower and limited shelves. The lightning in the cabin was very good. There were USB ports on both sides of the bed and on the desk. There was one 220 V and 110 V outlet on the desk. There are two banks of elevators on the ship one aft and one forward. The ship was was recently remodeled. The entertainment was very good one show per night. There were activities every day, There is a full casino and bars on different decks on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this 28 day back to back cruise as we had not been to Alaska in many years and all we had to do is fly one way as we live in Florida. We flew to Vancouver and since we had a penthouse we received a free night at the Four ... Read More
We chose this 28 day back to back cruise as we had not been to Alaska in many years and all we had to do is fly one way as we live in Florida. We flew to Vancouver and since we had a penthouse we received a free night at the Four Seasons Hotel. Embarkation was easy and after a small lunch in the Veranda our luggage had been delivered and our cabin was ready. Service and food on the ship were superb. We really enjoyed the Veranda for breakfast and lunch and had most of our dinners in Compass Rose. The menu selections were huge and it was always hard to decide on an entree so we usually shared between the two of us. Chartreuse was not our favorite but we enjoyed Prime Seven (especially the whole Maine lobster) several times. The excursions in Alaska were exceptional. We went whale watching (saw hundreds), and loved watching the dolphins play and the bald eagles who were spotted in the trees by our guide. We had a dungeness crab feast in Ketchican (all you can eat)! Two ports were cancelled (Nicaragua because of unrest and Grand Cayman because of Hurricane Michael). Would not want to go back to Acapulco or Guatemala. Mostly life on the ship was great. There was good weather and we enjoyed just sitting by the pool reading or going to lectures and playing duplicate bridge (there was an excellent bridge director (Joyce from Saskatchuan) . Looking forward to our next Regent cruise (Tahiti to Singapore 2020) Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I wanted to go to Cuba, so we decided to book the Sun. This was my second cruise and I do not remember the embarkation begin as long as this one but the disembarkation was great. I love the ship is was lovely. We had a stateroom and the ... Read More
I wanted to go to Cuba, so we decided to book the Sun. This was my second cruise and I do not remember the embarkation begin as long as this one but the disembarkation was great. I love the ship is was lovely. We had a stateroom and the capacity was awesome for the both of us. We made the reservation each night. It was just like we were eating at a 5-star restaurant every night. The food was great. The entertainment and activities were well plans. I love the detail sheets that was given every night so you could plan your activities for the next day. I loved the Cuba Old and new excursion. It was a very good trip and I learned about the history of Cuba. I want to go on the Escape but it only leaves out of New York :-(. We had breakfast and lunch at the Garden Cafe. I was just so rejuvenated when I returned. I would definitely go on the Sun as well as cruising with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise for Havana and we enjoyed it. Embarcation was fast so we were at Crossings by 12:30. Room was ready by 1:30. Our steward Andre was very helpful getting us another chair for the balcony as there were 3 of us. I was ... Read More
We chose this cruise for Havana and we enjoyed it. Embarcation was fast so we were at Crossings by 12:30. Room was ready by 1:30. Our steward Andre was very helpful getting us another chair for the balcony as there were 3 of us. I was rather surprised (guess I didn't read the small print) that the usual Platinum perks were not included. No robes, sparkling wine, strawberries, dinners, etc. The Tropicana show was fantastic! We were able to purchase T shirts, etc. in the terminal with US dollars. The ship was clean and very comfortable for a small ship. The meals in the MDR were great. I have Sun booked for November and am looking forward to it. We did not see the shows but very much enjoyed the music in the various bars. Great Stirrup Cay was clean and the buffet was good. No long lines there either. We did not go in the water as we live on Ft Myers Beach so it was nothing new to us. Disembarcation went smoothly with no long lines. Very much enjoyed the short cruise. Have a 10 day booked for November on the Sun. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Service was good but was not told that the tip of the restaurants in the hotel and paid separately. The ship had a lot of activities, games, dances, shows. Got to eat a lot and well, drinking well as the allegrissimo drinks package. ... Read More
Service was good but was not told that the tip of the restaurants in the hotel and paid separately. The ship had a lot of activities, games, dances, shows. Got to eat a lot and well, drinking well as the allegrissimo drinks package. The ship is very clean. And the sun deck was great! Also concerts and performances were great! Since Christmas was, it was also a corresponding mood board. Tours were incredible and well organized. Internet connection was good. Very proud of the crew of presentation, as well as the presentation of chefs, which was also my honor to be present. Cooks and waiters are there really level, as well as kajuteenijad. Festive clothes are worth to take, because there are a lot of style evenings. Every evening the cabin the next day's program, which is also written dress code. I do not regret that I was in a cruise, I recommend it to all! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016

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