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5 Star Clippers Star Flyer Caribbean - Western Cruise Reviews

We choose this cruise because we were already going to Cuba for 5 days prior and 3 days following; but we wish that we hadn't! We boarded on January 7: We were picked up by Star Flyer bus at Iberostar. We were not on the passenger ... Read More
We choose this cruise because we were already going to Cuba for 5 days prior and 3 days following; but we wish that we hadn't! We boarded on January 7: We were picked up by Star Flyer bus at Iberostar. We were not on the passenger list. Fortunately, a Star Flyer person said he remembered our name and that we should board the bus! After almost an hour of driving we stopped because the Star Flyer person had left two people behind at Iberostar. They arrived after another hour while we waited. Eventually, they arrived and we continued. They said that they were in the lobby waiting at 1:50pm. We arrived at Cienfuegos after 6:00pm – it was dark! The bus had us all disembark at the far end of the parking lot (thank goodness it wasn’t raining!). We had to select our luggage which was put onto carts to be taken to the ship. Then we had to enter customs and immigration. We were second in line when we were given two forms to complete 1 Medical 2 Immigration, or maybe emigration! By the time we had completed these forms we were the penultimate couple to walk to the ship and board. We were given our cards OK. Why weren’t these forms in the package? We were the only ones without the medical forms! We had to walk at least 200 metres to the ship across an open parking lot! Our cabin 509 was what we expected although the only window looked out onto a deck and was non-operable. Dinner was served – NOTE: all meals on board were very good and the serving staff excellent! January 8: We discovered that a trip to Trinidad was to be taken starting at 7:30am. Others on board were aware of this – we were not. We didn’t go, which was just as well since those who did thought that it was a waste of time. An hour and a half to get there. Just over an hour in Trinidad, and an hour and a half return because the ship was sailing at 2:00 for Cienfuegos. January 9: The sail was uncomfortable due to heavy seas and some of the sails were raised We were advised that we had to buy visas at 15Euros each for our return to Cuba. These could have been in the package! The visit to Cayman Brac was cancelled January 10: Docked at Georgetown Grand Cayman. The Mission House was closed due to renovations, so we went to Pedro St James, a renovated house, then onto the Botanical Gardens. Both were interesting. The trip director returned us to Georgetown at noon where we were left to our own devices since the ship was sailing at 3:30pm. We had a very good lunch at Breezes – Grouper! January 11: When back on board the captain advised that the stop at Cayo Largo was next. We thought better of this since the sea was rough. People who chose to go went by tender – a forty five minute trip! The first off were late and three hours later the final guests were taken. Later we discovered that there was nothing there other than sand and that the snorkelling dive had been cancelled. Also, there was a charge of 90CUCs each! Miserable sail with rough weather January 12: Again a very rough sea Punta Frances docking was also cancelled! This time apparently due to a previous vessel leaving garbage on the island! Since most of the time was spent on board there was a rush on the insufficient number of deckchairs. There were several arguments about who had what! There was a rule that if you left your chair for more than fifteen minutes you lost it – that was not enforced. The Cruise people ned to allocate access better. It didn’t matter to us frankly, but it was another aggravation. So, another day on the ship! January 13: Overnight the weather improved and the sailing was fairly calm. January 14: Disembarkation by 10:00am. After going through customs/immigration etc. we looked for our driver. Again, many drivers with passenger’s names but no one for us! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Star Flyer - Cuba 1st - 8th February 2015 29th January 2015: Havana: Left Gatwick to land in Cuba some 9½ hours later. Customs/Passport control faster than I feared and certainly better than Gatwick. Transfer to Hotel Saratoga by limo. ... Read More
Star Flyer - Cuba 1st - 8th February 2015 29th January 2015: Havana: Left Gatwick to land in Cuba some 9½ hours later. Customs/Passport control faster than I feared and certainly better than Gatwick. Transfer to Hotel Saratoga by limo. Hotel rated 4 Cuban stars you'd give 2-3 here. Had to change room due to damp smell and noise from 24hr bar under us. Also cobwebs big enough that you could have knitted a jumper out of them. The breakfast was poor (and cold) as was the evening meal although we had been warned on TripAdvisor about the food. But after a day of travelling in a new city it's normal to grab a bite at the hotel. If you're unlucky enough to end up here have breakfast in the 'Mezzanine Bar' and never eat at night. Having looked around at the hotels, try and get the IberoStar which is right in the middle of the city, clean and well run. We found Havana interesting, historic and cosmopolitan - whilst at the same time dirty with average food and high prices in the few decent 'Western' bars. There are quite a few touts (mainly taxi, cigar and pony and trap) also many ladies of the night (and day). Unlike other reviews on here we never felt threatened or in any danger and there was certainly no threat of a mugging although we were two couples and both the men are well built and around 6" higher than the locals. I sometimes think that if you look nervous and clutch your bag to your chest, a large victim sign illuminates above you that can only be seen by criminals. By far the best way to see the city is in a 50/60s American car. A 2 hour trip costs 50 CUC (Cuban tourist currency) - although they will ask for 70 CUC. Set the price 1st and make sure the car looks reasonable (albeit Cuban) condition and he speaks English. Kilometre Zero and Sloppy Joe's are two good places to eat and drink. There are lots of sites to visit and overall enjoyed our stay there The Cruise: 1st - 8th February 2015: Good: The Ship itself from the point of view of condition of all areas and the 'Sailing Crew' who were rarely too busy to answer questions. In fact all the crew were clean, friendly, helpful and efficient. Our cabin steward was fantastic. The cabin was spotless with clean towels everyday and as expected. The food is excellent although the 'egg chef ' could/would not do poached eggs in the morning which I found frustrating. The drinks are not too expensive and by buying wine by the bottle (they keep the part full bottles for you) you can make significant savings. When the ship is under sail you understand why you're onboard it's brilliant and fascinating to watch. Only 108 out of a potential 170 passengers on board. Bad: The engines and/or generators are really noisy - we had paid for a better cabin (328) in the middle of the boat and it was quite noisy. We heard many complaints about this particularly from the deck below (100s) us. The aircon was also loud and had two settings - on or off. It was slightly too hot to have it off (I wish) and as the portholes are sealed it was the only ventilation. I had visions of a really quiet cruise, gliding through the sea under sail but as the Captain had to meet his mooring/docking times we were under power more often than not. I'm sure either the prop shaft was slightly off or the propeller itself was unbalanced - as the vibrations were quite noticeable (when in your bunk). Lack of cover and sun beds. This may seem petty but on sea days there really is nothing else to do. The two pools are smaller than some Jacuzzis I've seen and if you think you will be swimming in them think again. The onboard entertainment was virtually non-existent. We were under the impression that local 'groups' came on board but in reality it was just the Cuban authorities either on-board for a jolly (sorry) visa checks - (one chap with lots of gold on his shoulder boards and his wife/girlfriend for 3 days) or checking our temperature for Ebola despite the fact that you're not checked at Havana airport on arrival. I know some will stick up for Steffi Adels (Stockholm Syndrome) but she had virtually no people skills which is a problem for a cruise director and the 'entertainments' staff were actually officer cadets from Poland who were on the boat to learn how to sail but were redirected to entertainment and sports which they really didn't want to do (and that is according to them). The internet is expensive (6€/hr) and extremely slow. I complained that having been online for 3 minutes I got charged for 9 only to be told that was it was just the time logging on and off - not happy! Some may say you do these cruises to get away from it all but this is the modern age and I download books etc (no chance of anything else) and also need to at least need to see my emails and FB accounts once a day. So stock up on Sudoku books. Be prepared for many excisions/activities to be cancelled and some rough tender crossings - due to sea state - but there is nothing they or you can do about it especially on this type of vessel - it's just a shame there was no backup apart from sun bed tagging. Day 1 - 1st February 2015 After a 3½ hours trip across Cuba from Havana to Cienfuegos in a bumpy taxi, we finally got onboard. It was a bit disorganised and there was yet another raft of paperwork to complete before boarding. Then the long drawn out Boat Drills - which were done without any humour and whilst necessary and compulsory did drag on. Day 2 - 2nd Feb: At sea and another Safety Briefing. Getting used to the feel of the boat and how it worked. The Captain did threaten us with a surprise landing for a swim and use of a beach only to withdraw this later so it would have been better had he said nothing. As we were all onboard the shortage of sun beds quickly showed itself for the first time. As said there were only 108 passengers out of a possible 170 and there were clearly problems. I know it's a paradigm but the Germans (about 40%) did revert to stereotype and reserve and hold the 'prime' beds. Also there were only two relatively small areas under cover which on hot days was far too little. Quite a bumpy night. Also became aware of the engine/generator noise for the 1st time. Day 3 - 3rd Feb: Playa Ancón, Cuba. Hot day with plenty going on - we left the beach in a 50s car and went into Trinidad which is a nice older style village clean (by Cuban standards which are admittedly low). Very touristy and whilst interesting, you honestly don't need any more that 2 hours there (we managed to get into 2 separate bars in that time before the taxi took us back to the beach). The beach facilities are basic to say the least, with broken chairs but golden sands. Cheap local beer and snacks available but most went back to the boat on the age old (and old aged) mantra I've paid for it so I'll go back to the ship and eat it. Went snorkelling but it was like (as my friend said) swimming in chicken soup and nothing to see when it was clear. Day 4 - 4th Feb: Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands. We were down to snorkel over the wreck of a Russian Frigate scuttled for that purpose only 50m from the rocky coast but this was cancelled due to the sea state as was the water-skiing, swimming off the boat and wake boarding. We went on our own anyway and it was a bit choppy but not too bad for experienced snorkelers. It was by now apparent that (as with many cruise ships) safety was set to the lowest common denominator which in our case was probably a 95 year old from Stuttgart. There was not a lot on this side of the island or even generally as only 1800 people live here. Many went to the more touristy beaches on the other side but as we didn't I can't comment. Highlight of the day was breaking up an afterhours fight between two barmen which carried on down into the restaurant - only 'handbags' and quite funny - the last time I worked as a bouncer was 40 years ago! Day 5 - 5th Feb: Georgetown, Grand Cayman. There were trips available but we just went into the 'Town' which is just a giant tourist shop. There were ourselves and 6, yes 6, very large cruise liners the biggest of which was the Norwegian Epic( with some 4500 passengers and 1500) crew so the place was simply swamped with what must have been way over 18,000 tourists, plus crews, including many truly enormous Americans. However, this made me feel good though as I'm quite large by UK standards, but looked like a midget in comparison with some of our cousins from across the pond. The best bar is at the far eastern end. The rest of the town consists of shops you've never heard of and banks only used by the super rich and political party funders. Day 6 - 6th Feb: Cayo Largo, Cuba. You land on a jetty by a small Dolphin enclosure - which whilst I don't agree with it - are entertaining to watch as they go through their tricks for anyone willing to pay 90 CUCs (About 90€ or £80) for 15 minutes with them. There is a nice and tidy restaurant 'complex' which serves the local fare at inflated prices. You walk through this to a beach which has a little (and much cheaper) bar on it. Again broken chairs abound but it is picturesque and the sand is the sort of fine golden type you'd get in an egg timer. It got a bit cold and windy so we went back to the ship earlyish. We had wanted to go for the promised rib rides but the 'entertainment staff ' were not too interested so we gave up. Day 7 - 7th Feb: Cayo Rico, Cuba. Another day another beach. we were supposed to have a beach BBQ but this was cancelled due to the sea state which was a nonsense and a disappointment. However we went to the beach which was the best by far. Slightly less broken sun beds but a truly idyllic beach with lots of wildlife, a nice (and very cheap) bar and (unused) restaurant area where the BBQ would have taken place. A nice final day was spent on the golden sands. Returned to the ship to check (large) bar bill and consider the suggested levels of tipping. 8€ per person per day so for us 112€. I do hate these so called 'recommendations' as I always feel I'm subsidising their wages rather than rewarding good service. We paid 100€ (35€ to the steward and 65€ to the rest - who got a lot of commission on our drinks anyway (they do I checked). The steward also got an unopened bottle of Beefeater Gin I bought in Cuba but couldn't be bothered to cart back - as it's cheaper in ASDA). Day 8 - 8th Feb: Cienfuegos, Cuba. The normal cruise ship rush to get rid of you ready for the next batch of passengers, which was fairly disorganised to start with but got better and the cabin steward chased me down the quayside with the glasses I had left under the bed - The gin must have worked! Back for one night in Havana and many hours to waste before out 8pm flight the next day. Just time to get some cigars and rum. For your information all prices are set by the Regime so everywhere is the same - even the airport. I wouldn't do it again - a case of been there done that and there are plenty of places we haven't been - but I would recommend it. The sailing (under canvas) was very different and enjoyable - there just wasn't enough of it. My wife described Havana as 'Quaintly Disgusting' which is a bit harsh. The people are friendly and well educated but you would struggle to find any real luxury but I'm glad we went while it's still in its natural spoiled and ruined (by Castro) state and before the Americans clear it up and sanitize it.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Sailed from Cienfuegos, 3 hours south of Havana, there is no such port of embarkation on the list above! Departed on 11 Jan 2015. All very smooth. Lovely weather, ship beautiful, Captain jolly, crew friendly and very efficient. Food ... Read More
Sailed from Cienfuegos, 3 hours south of Havana, there is no such port of embarkation on the list above! Departed on 11 Jan 2015. All very smooth. Lovely weather, ship beautiful, Captain jolly, crew friendly and very efficient. Food excellent. Spent the first day at sea sailing up and down......there is nowhere else to go, and get the impression Cuban officials are very firm about where they go. Each time they anchor to go ashore, or tie along side officials board and there is paperwork to trawl through. It must be very tedious to do every week. The day was Ok as new arrivals found their sea legs, and old timers relaxed after the dirty, noisy frantic city that is Havana. Its a pity SC cannot anchor in the bay, its enormous, and Cienfuegos would be an interesting city to tour. Most people arrived for the cruise and did not get to see the colonial French buildings (falling down, like much of Cuba). Day 2 At anchor off Ancona beach for Trinidad, we had already 'done' Trinidad so just went to the beach. Swimming good, watersports team there, so sail board, canoe, dinghy. Cuban style loungers free and shadefrom thatched umbrellas, a typical Cuban bar, and a loo. We had an hour there for a walk and went back to relax on the Flyer. There is a soviet era looking hotel, we did not venture in. After a week in Cuba we were happy to look but not enter! Days 3 and 4 to the Caymans......Cayman Brac first, an overnight sail, smooth and calm sea. Swimming off gangway good. Also snorkling good off beach in a small lagoon, and a wreck, though sea quite lumpy in the midday breeze. Entering the water from the tender not easy unless you are a competent snorkler, I am not. Island looked very nice, clean and British! Some people took taxis to sandy beaches on the far side. Taxis not cheap. Day 4 we were at Grand Cayman, along side the port, so easy access to the town. They take on food and drink here, there is none in Cuba. We went on the stingray trip plus turtle farm, by coach, it was worth every penny. Interesting guide, tour of Island and swimming with the rays memorable. You leave the Island at 3.30, could do with another day here maybe to see it properly, though some who did not do the tour said the beach was nothing special. We were lucky only 2 huge cruise ships at anchor with us, sometimes they have 5. Day 5 overnight to Cayo Largo, amazing white soft sand beach..bar if needed, and restaurant, also you can swim with dolphins if you like. A fairly long transfer as its shallow, so 40 mins in a tender, there is no other way ashore. Did not move anchorage for last day at Cayo Rico next door. Day 6 Beach BBQ, amazing work for the waiters and cooks, transferring lunch plus BBQ ashore. Tables and benches there and loungers and shade. In super covered bar, but beach only for paddling, some lay on mats in the water! Sea bright blue and amazing clear water. However transfers long....its too shallow even for tenders at the end, so local boats used. It took an hour to get to the beach so some complaints about this, but SC trying hard. Day 7 back to Cienfuegos and time to disembark. Sad to say bye to the ship, crew, staff and fellow passengers, a super cruise again, our 4th. Each time we anchored, or went into port in Cuba, had 4 doctors out to take temps of everyone on board (Ebola) plus loads of people checking papers again and again. All before Ship was cleared...so 6.30 to 7.30am! Paperwork is a career in Cuba. Overall it was lovely, a respite from Cuba which is terribly poor, the food terrible, hygene worse (11 people confined to cabins at first as had bad stomachs after eating Cuban food).the people seem friendly but only as long as tipped frequently, 2 people on our ship had been mugged in Havana in daylight. . We were 111 passengers, the next week there were only 70. Star Clippers are trying hard, but unless the US visitors are allowed I cannot see this continuing as an option. Pleased we did it, but as a cruise you do not sail far, and Cuba fairly limiting as a destination. We preferred the leewards and windwards. And Europe. As a luxury week in the middle of a Cuban holiday though it was ideal. Will not return to Cuba, but will return to Star Clippers! Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We too were on the second cruise from Cienfuegos Cuba to the Cayman islands and back, as was the previous reviewer. However, we rate the cruise more positively than he did. There were indeed teething problems, but nowhere near as bad as ... Read More
We too were on the second cruise from Cienfuegos Cuba to the Cayman islands and back, as was the previous reviewer. However, we rate the cruise more positively than he did. There were indeed teething problems, but nowhere near as bad as the previous (first) week, when the ship ran aground due to incorrect sea charts. A problem for some with these cruises is the departure port on the south side of Cuba, involving an expensive and long taxi or bus transfer from Havana or Varadero. (We took the excellent Viazul bus for USD16). I agree with the criticism that the itinerary and excursions had not been properly researched and prepared, leaving the crew to cope with many questions and some complaints.The crew were indeed fantastic in finding ad hoc solutions - e.g. the customs and immigration formalities, and the transfer to the shore. Instead of Cayo Blanco where it was not possible to land, a day at sea with swimming off the boat and water sports was organised - however no water skiing and poor snorkeling. We moored off Playa Ancon (20 Cuban immigration officials to welcome us!) to visit Trinidad - a taxi ride in a 1939 Ford for 10CUC. The excursion offered seemed very expensive in comparison. Caymen Brac replaced Little Caymen due to shallow water but there was little to do or see ashore, and poor snorkeling. We visited Georgetown, Grand Caymen as planned where 3 giant cruise ships moored and filled the local beaches with fun seeking Americans. The excursions were rather over regimented The last two days were visits to Cayo Largo (the only day with poor weather) and Cayo Rico, a lovely little island where we had the beach almost to ourselves with an excellent beach bbq. The tender rides of 45 minutes were inevitable but acceptable. The food on board was as always excellent, hot, served at the same time for a whole table and the wines good value..Considering the limited galley space a remarkable achievement. The dining room is a little cramped with a full complement of passengers, but the open dining and opportunity to sit where and with whom one wanted was a plus point. In short an almost perfect voyage, the main disappointment being no good snorkeling anywhere and the sports team either unable or unwilling to take out a tender and find a good spot, which do exist. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was my first cruise on a Star Clipper, and this was an adventure! We were on the 2nd cruise from Cuba, and there were many many teething problems. The transfers from Havana had been arranged by the land agents of Star Clipper, and ... Read More
This was my first cruise on a Star Clipper, and this was an adventure! We were on the 2nd cruise from Cuba, and there were many many teething problems. The transfers from Havana had been arranged by the land agents of Star Clipper, and many arrived 2 hrs prior to boarding - but very limited facilities. Happily arrangements were made to board passengers 1 hr early The itinerary had not been properly researched and prepared, leaving the crew to cope with very shallow waters and an increasingly unhappy group of passengers. The Crew were fantastic - doing all they could to resolve the many issues. Due to shallow waters the itinerary had to be changed. Instead of Cayo Largo, a day at sea with swimming off the boat and water sports - however no water skiing and poor snorkeling. Moored off Playa Ancon instead of Casilda to visit Trinidad - easy taxi ride and a lovely day. Caymen Brac replaced Little Caymen due to shallow water. Little ashore, and poor snorkeling - but lovely water to swim in. Visit to Grand Caymen as planned. The next days were visits to beaches with tender rides of 45 minutes to over 1 hour - again due to shallow water. The beach chose for the beach bbq was very shallow resulting in ankle deep water so no swimming. On board there were limited sun beds in the shades which did cause some problems - especially as we were on board for a great deal of the trip. The food on board was remarkable considering the limited galley space. The dining room feels cramped with a full complement of passengers, and the noise level can be high. The open dining and opportunity to sit where and with whom one wanted was good. The cabins were small, but there was just enough space and cubby holes available to unpack properly. The cabin steward did a brilliant job! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Star Flyer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness & Recreation 2.0 N/A
Family 2.0 2.7
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 2.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.2
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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