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3 Variety Cruises Western Caribbean Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because bus trips aren't my thing. We also wanted to see Cuba before the American economic invasion. The ship can hold 49 people but we were only 13 passengers - ideal! Since there were so few of us, they put ... Read More
We chose this cruise because bus trips aren't my thing. We also wanted to see Cuba before the American economic invasion. The ship can hold 49 people but we were only 13 passengers - ideal! Since there were so few of us, they put everyone in a main deck cabin, which had windows instead of port holes. Crew walked by, as I discovered to my surprise one afternoon lounging on my bed, but it was nice to have more of a view. The cabins were on the small side, which seems to be usual with small ships. It was impossible to put the luggage under the beds because they were on wooden platform although the crew could store luggage elsewhere if you wished. We ate breakfast & dinner on the ship, with lunches ashore in privately run restaurants. The breakfast was the usual: eggs, oatmeal, dry cereals, fresh fruit, yogurt, etc. Dinners always had a fish entrée & a meat entrée. There were courses for appetizers, soups, entrée, and dessert; often we just had the entrée because of having a large lunch ashore. The last night we had a buffet of Greek food that was great. We ate on a covered top deck, but many nights, when we were usually anchored, it was very warm. There was a bar on the main deck with cocktails, wine, or beer on offer, and drinks could be ordered with dinner as well. All the sightseeing, which was mandatory under the rules for visiting Cuba, was included, and we went to many art galleries, a choir, a Tabaco farm, etc. The towns of Trinidad and Cienfuegos were my favorites. The crew could not have been more helpful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Panorama (48 passenger maximum) may be the first small ship in Cuba; this was its first season and rumor has it that it will return next year. Avalon Cruises contracted with Group IST in New York to provide U.S. approved People to People ... Read More
Panorama (48 passenger maximum) may be the first small ship in Cuba; this was its first season and rumor has it that it will return next year. Avalon Cruises contracted with Group IST in New York to provide U.S. approved People to People trips to Cuba for American Citizens who have not previously been able to travel there. Off-ship activities were arranged by Group IST. Most People to People tours are land-based, so this one was unique, and since it was on a small ship, activities included beach time, snorkeling, and beach barbeques. Ship provided masks, fins, and snorkels, but receiving the stuff was not handled efficiently with everybody grabbing for equipment at once as we were about to leave the ship. Equipment to be loaned could have been assigned leisurely earlier in the week to avoid the chaos. On board, the service was excellent, even elegant at dinner. Unfortunately, the food did not match. The chef managed to cook fish, chicken, and beef to cardboard consistency. Best meals we had were at restaurants off ship. The ship was a bit careless in not keeping track of its passengers; it was the ship's responsibility to provide a list of passengers to the Havana port officials who checked each passenger's passport against the list provided. Names were there for three people who canceled the trip at the last minute, but the names of three passengers who were actually there were not on the list, which caused a 40-minute delay when we tried to leave the ship in Havana. We were assured that the ship would accept credit cards, but when it came time to pay, the hotel manager would not accept cards without raised numbers. The newest cards don't have raised numbers, and passengers who tried to use them had not been made aware that theirs would not be accepted, which caused grief for some people who were low on cash. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
How surprised and lucky were we when we arrived on "The Panorama " in Cienfuegos, (having been transported in a small comfortable bus from Havana.) to find that there had been a big cancellation and we were the incredible number ... Read More
How surprised and lucky were we when we arrived on "The Panorama " in Cienfuegos, (having been transported in a small comfortable bus from Havana.) to find that there had been a big cancellation and we were the incredible number of 8 passengers, our own private yacht !!! This did not deter from the excellent team's enthusiasm in helping us to have a wonderful cruise, which we did. We were lucky to get along very well with the other 6 passengers and a great time was had by all. Our cabin was spacious , well appointed and beautifully kept. The staff were always helpful and smiling. The seas were quite rough but we were in extremely competent hands and really enjoyed the exhilaration of it all. What an experience to see Cuba from the sea...the excursions were interesting and our guides very good. The fact that the ship actually moors up in Central Havana is a plus, making it easy to enjoy this vibrant city. We were sad to say goodbye, but, until the next time, thank you Variety Cruises for organising this exceptional cruise, what wonderful memories. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
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