1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Celestyal Cruises
  4. Celestyal Crystal Review
  5. Celestyal Crystal Cruise Reviews
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I wanted a cruise that was basically exclusive to Cuba. The people to people program was very rich although I was disappointed that a cigar factory tour, Castro's grave and a rum factory (not just the store) were included. The ... Read More
I wanted a cruise that was basically exclusive to Cuba. The people to people program was very rich although I was disappointed that a cigar factory tour, Castro's grave and a rum factory (not just the store) were included. The staff on the cruise were exceptional at every level. They made the entire cruise enjoyable. This is an older ship without many amenities but it was worth taking for the port stops. The ship is not kid friendly. They have a few hours for small kids on the sea days and an hour of Wii time for teenagers. That's all. There is a ping pong table and a gym or the very small salt water pool (max 10 people). So my kids - ages 14, 17, 18 didn't have a lot to do on non trip days. The only problem I had was that food was limited and getting drinks was complicated. The ship was 1/2 full so there was only 1 place to eat for each meal, and the time span was short. This was limiting especially when we disembarked for tours. You can only order drinks on their very limited menu. Even if all of the ingredients were available, they would not make a drink not on the menu. If you are ok with limited amenities I would recommend the ship because it was worth all of the time spent off of the cruise to have an authentic experience. Would recommend upgrading to a suite or you will be very, very cramped in the cheap rooms. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The cruise was part of an all inclusive package from TripCentral. Most Canadians go to Cuba for the beach and then maybe fly to Havana. The Celestyal cruise offered an opportunity to see more of Cuba, from Havana to Cienfuego, then ... Read More
The cruise was part of an all inclusive package from TripCentral. Most Canadians go to Cuba for the beach and then maybe fly to Havana. The Celestyal cruise offered an opportunity to see more of Cuba, from Havana to Cienfuego, then Santiago plus a stop in Montego Bay along the way and we were not disappointed. The excursions offered a rich cultural experience. The tour buses were new and air-conditioned. The tour guides spoke very good English. The nightly shows, though not very elaborate, but were fabulous. The entertainment team and singer were all very talented. Each excursion was topped off with a stop at a popular bar and we were given free mojitos or margarita. The food in the ship was not 24/7 which was good because we did not gain much weight after the trip. I love the daily Latin dance lessons. The crew were friendly and very hard working. I would recommend this trip to anyone who would want to experience and see more of the Cuban culture. During the transfer from Havana to Veradero, our taxi broke down and so we were out there on the highway under 36Celsius heat. I was worried that we will have to wait a long time for a replacement taxi to come pick us up but another car came within 10 minutes and we still had plenty of time at the airport to relax and buy some souvernis. Read Less
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Celestyal Crystal price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted a convenient way to see multiple cities in Cuba, not have to worry about accommodations and satisfy to OFAC requirements since we are US citizens. We were not disappointed. First off, to address ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted a convenient way to see multiple cities in Cuba, not have to worry about accommodations and satisfy to OFAC requirements since we are US citizens. We were not disappointed. First off, to address the ship. It is a relatively older ship. It does not have a rock climbing wall, it does not have a water slide, and yes the cabins are on the small side. But that is not why we went on this cruise. We went to see Cuba. And that we did. Three cities in 7 days, with an overnight in Havana. We wished we could have had more free time in Santo Domingo de Cuba and Cienfuegos, but I think the tour operators were trying to make sure that they were compliant with the people to people requirements. The Afro Cuban dance demonstration went on a little long. People in Cuba were very friendly, and there was no anti-American sentiment that we saw. Or maybe we were mistaken for Canadians :-) Prices for souvenirs are reasonable, except for cigars, which we were warned to buy only in certified stores because there are a lot of counterfeit ones on the streets apparently made of banana leaves. We did not have any of the boarding issues in Havana that other people have commented on. Apparently there is now room for two ships to dock at the same time in Havana. Now, back to the ship. The week we sailed, there were only 150-180 passengers, depending on where they embarked. Partially because of this, service was outstanding and the restaurant manager told us to consider this our private yacht for the week. Although it was open seating, we chose to sit with our same waiter, Manuel, and our wine steward, Monika, every night. Hats off to both of them and we promise we didn't steal any silverware! Menu choices were pretty standard, though some of the dining options weren't open due to the limited number of passengers. We would have hoped for a bit more light options at lunch as well as some healthier options at dinner. We had a Junior Executive Balcony Suite, Room 611. It was small, but the balcony was more than adequate for two people to sit out and read at night. It was on the starboard side, I would suggest trying to get one on the port side if you want to get more land views at sea, since the island is circled counter clockwise. On board lectures were excellent, thank you Dr. Jorge, and don't worry about missing any of them. Nobody takes attendance except for the muster drill, which is conveniently combined with a Cuban history lecture. Others have commented on the entertainment. The ships Havana-based band rocks. I am now a new fan of Afro-Cuban music. I could listen to those guys every night (and did). The shows were also surprisingly sophisticated for a ship that size. Would we do it again? Yes, but not in June. Its hot. One can only drink so much Crystal and Bucanero to stay hydrated. Tips: 1. Port side cabin 2. Although some US citizens embarked in Havana, it seemed to make more sense to get on in Montego Bay. Since we weren't on a beach excursion kind of trip, we used Montego Bay as our travel day, allowing us more time in Havana. Those that got on in Havana missed the walking tour of the city. 3. Remember, you're going for the destinations, not the ship Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because it was going to Cuba. We joined a Road Scholar group that was on the ship. We also wanted to go to more than one port in Cuba and the big ships are only going to one port. There were about 150 people on ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was going to Cuba. We joined a Road Scholar group that was on the ship. We also wanted to go to more than one port in Cuba and the big ships are only going to one port. There were about 150 people on board out of the 1200 that it will hold. Maybe because of this there were very few activities other than the mandatory Cuba lectures and activities. For some of the scheduled activities, no one from the cruise showed up. The casino was small and unexciting. The cabins were small and outdated. We had a junior suite and it was tiny. The toilets didn't work right and it was a joke that everyone shared. Everyone went to the common areas to use the toilets. The same group performed every night. They were quite good but it got really repetitive. The gym was good - it was small but given the number of people on the ship it was fine. All that said, the crew was very friendly and nice. The food was excellent. The cabins were clean. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We found a cruise on Celestyal Cruises advertised for a low price, so we decided to go to Cuba. Because of the price we did not expect much, but we were very pleasantly surprised. I’ve cruised all the mid-range cruise lines and a few ... Read More
We found a cruise on Celestyal Cruises advertised for a low price, so we decided to go to Cuba. Because of the price we did not expect much, but we were very pleasantly surprised. I’ve cruised all the mid-range cruise lines and a few of the higher end cruise lines; Celestyal Cruises ranks among the best of the mid-ranged cruise lines. The staff was beyond wonderful. There were plenty of things to do during the days at sea, including craft classes, cooking classes, video game competitions, trivia contests, dance classes, and bartending classes. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The rooms were typical of all cruise ships, and very clean. The food at the dining room was great. There were five to six entrees offered each night (including a vegetarian option) and the options changed each night. We all gained weight during the trip. The evening entertainment was the best that I’ve seen on any ship. Probably because of our destination, there weren’t many people under 21 on the ship. Again, because of our destination the people on the ship are from all over the world. This ship was smaller than most I’ve been on and because of this there isn’t the fanfare that you see on a cruise line like Carnival. Because the ship is smaller there is more personal attention. My only complaint was with the People 2 People tour portion of the trip. I expected propaganda and I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised to see that capitalism is alive and well and living in Cuba. We attended the orientation meeting on the ship and we were told that the best cigars and rum were to be found in Santiago de Cuba (translation- the biggest kickback was paid to the tour guides in Santiago de Cuba). They ended up taking us to a dive bar and tried to convince us that this was a government run cigar store. All of the shops that we were taken to by the tour guides were overpriced and with a limited selection of goods. The “experts” hired by People 2 People were very long winded and boring. People were actually getting up and walking out of a lecture and this was during a rum tasting lecture where they were giving away free samples. If we were in a port for 6 hours, People 2 People managed to use up all of our time. The tours would start at 9:00 and end at 2:30 and they wouldn’t even stop for lunch or a snack. The same trip through a private tour company is more expensive, but seemed to be worth it. These people were shown better places while at port, were allowed time to shop, and were actually fed lunch. Luckily, we learned to ignore Dr. Jorge and the other People 2 People employees and we found that the best place to buy souvenirs was at San Jose market, a 15 minute walk from the pier in Havana, and the best place to buy cigars was at Calle Mercaderes, no. 102, about 2 blocks from the pier in Havana. Stop for churros on the way to buying cigars. There’s a man making them on the street corner. He’s hard to miss- look for the 20 people standing in line. The best churros I’ve ever had. You can buy rum anywhere; the prices aren’t that different. You just need to decide how far and for how long you want to carry the rum around with you. I finally bought it on the ship. It was $1 more per bottle, but I didn’t have to carry three bottles of rum through Havana. It seemed worth the extra cost. The most interesting places we saw in Cuba we found on our own. We paid 5 cuc for a day pass on the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. This took us to the tourist areas, but also through neighborhoods. You can catch the bus right outside the pier in Havana. All in all, this was an awesome trip. So glad that I went. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
U.K. Couple boarded in Havana on Monday 22nd May We arrived in Havana at Jose Marti airport on Monday afternoon and transferred straight to the cruise terminal. The embarkation procedure was easy and straightforward, we dropped our ... Read More
U.K. Couple boarded in Havana on Monday 22nd May We arrived in Havana at Jose Marti airport on Monday afternoon and transferred straight to the cruise terminal. The embarkation procedure was easy and straightforward, we dropped our luggage at the drop-off point downstairs and was advised it would appear outside our cabin within 30 mins, there were no queues and getting through Cuban Customs to board was very quick. Once on board we were guided to our cabin by the staff located by each lift on every floor. We stayed in 6015 which is an XBO cabin with a large window not obstructed by a lifeboat, but does have partial obstruction from the ship's structure. Nonetheless I still managed to get some very good pictures through the window (although it was a bit dirty). The room itself is small and has two single beds with one upper pull down bed, a stool, double chest of drawers, wardrobe and plenty of storage space on one side of the cabin wall. The bathroom is impossibly small and the shower area is too small to even stand in with the curtain around you, as a result the whole floor area got wet and as there was no floor area drain, the water that enevitably ended up outside the small shower area pooled underneath the toilet. This holiday was to celebrate the O.H's 50th birthday, so we decided to ask the question as to whether an upgrade to a larger cabin would be possible in light of such a tremendous occasion. Yes, we were told, no problem, by the man on reception who disappeared into the office behind the reception desk. He came out a few minutes later with a piece of paper in hand, on which was written 350-600 dollars depending on which cabin we wanted. Disappointed, we declined having already spent 2200EUR for the cruise, we felt this was enough. It was even more disappointing when we discovered after a couple a days that there was less than 250 people on board, there must have been so many empty cabins. We then went straight to the bar to try out the local beer before deciding whether to upgrade to the premium drinks package that included Heineken & Bud etc. The draught lager is Greek and in our opinion doesn't taste very nice. The local beer Cristal is a good beer, in small 330ml tins, it's what we call a good slurper, comparable to Fosters, Carlsberg or Carling. Bucanero is the local premium beer at 5.4%, again in 330ml tins and is also a good beer comparable to Kronenberg, Pilsner etc. Also tried a couple of cocktails which were ok, they didn't have very large measures of alcohol, but they were ok. We decided not to upgrade and stuck with the blue drinks package that was included in our cruise package. We attended the safety briefing as soon as we got there in order to get it out of the way. It was quite amusing as everything was very important. Literally every sentence started with very important. They never did an actual lifeboat muster drill. I can't really remember anything from the safety briefing other than very important lol!! The buffet restaurant was never opened due to low numbers on board, the main restuarant on deck 8 was used on a daily basis and as a result lunch and dinner was always a-la-carte. There was an early bird breakfast 6-30-7am on deck 9 with coffee and pastries otherwise breaksfast was also in the main restaurant on deck 8, which was buffet on excursion days and a-la-carte on sea days. The food in general was very good, never had anything we did not like and although the portions were quite small you could always ask for more if you wanted it, not a problem, even the desserts! Didn't do the captain's cocktail party, not really our thing or the late night cake party either, so can't comment on either or those. All of the staff were excellent, in the restaurant quite lieterally falling over themselves to help you. One would seat you, another would put the napkin on your lap, another would hand you a menu, another would fetch water it was quite funny sometimes. This was mainly due to the fact there were such low numbers on board, the staff outnumbered the guests. The cruise itself was fantastic, we had a half day tour included for Havana and Santiago both of which were very good. We were separated from the Americans on the tours as they had separate iterneries and had other things included on their tours that we didn't have. The half day in Havana was very good and covered most of the main tourist attractions, our guide Havier was excellent and shared his very thorough knowledge of the history of Cuba in an informative an engaging manner. The tour lasted just over 5 hours and ended in Floridita with a Hemingway Daquiri cocktail. For the stops in Cienfuegos and Mo-Bay we did our own thing and headed out on our own, Cienfuegos was beautiful and very enjoyable with lots of markets and sourvenirs. Mo-Bay was dreadful, very run down, lots of beggars and dollar shops, people constantly trying to hustle you, insisting they were your luggage handler at the airport or they worked in the kitchen on your cruise ship then asking you for a few dollars to feed their children etc. Couldn't wait to get out of there to be honest. Santiago was great, although our guide was not as a good as Havier, he just walked around pointing at things and telling you key facts and dates, it just wasn't as memorable as he made no effort to engage with you, which is a shame as Santiago has a great story to tell. We visited the Cemetery where Fidel's tombstone is and queued for about half an hour to walk past it, constantly being told to hurry up and move on by the guards, you couldn't even stop for more than a couple of seconds to take a proper photograph. The weather was very hot and humid, not one day was less than 30 degrees or 70% humidity, once on board the ship it was nice and cool and the air conditioning worked very well both inside the cabin and in the bar and restaurant areas. All of the staff were always pleased to see you and nothing was too much trouble for them. This was a first cruise for me, so I had very few expectations, I found the ship to be very pleasant and it was clean and tidy throughout. The pool appeared to be rather small, although we never used it and the jacuzzi was full with 4 people in it. We only attended 1 show and we weren't very impressed, it was rather amateur. Upon arrival we were quite fortunate as the ship was in dock in the harbour and stayed there until it was time to leave at 10pm on Tuesday. This meant you were free to come and go as you pleased. However, upon our return into Havana on the following Monday we were told that we had to be off by 9am as the ship had to withdraw from the port and anchor in the bay to make way for other cruise ships, not returning into the port until 6pm. They did put on a bus shuttle at 11:30am to take those passengers with late departures to lunch at the Grand Theatre, we didn't bother with this as we were booked into a Havana hotel for the rest of our stay. Later on that afternoon we bumped into a couple who we knew from the ship that had boarded in Mo-Bay and they said that they had also been told that the same thing was happening the next day, only this time you had to be off the ship by 06:30 and couldn't get back on till 9pm or you stayed on board. Glad we never experienced this, it definitely would have spoilt things for us. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We were pleasantly surprised about how good the food was on board, and how lovely the staff were, both in the dining room and the cabin stewards. We went on this cruise because we had never been to Cuba and we both love cruising so ... Read More
We were pleasantly surprised about how good the food was on board, and how lovely the staff were, both in the dining room and the cabin stewards. We went on this cruise because we had never been to Cuba and we both love cruising so thought this was a good way to see a few parts of Cuba in one trip. The food far exceeded our expectations and the shore excursions that were included in the price were very good. All alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were included too, which was very nice. We would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone who wanted to see Cuba (not just go to an all-inclusive for a week) although it is not meant for people with children - - the average age was about 50 to 75. It was not deluxe like Crystal Cruises, but also was very good value for the money. There were quite a few activities on board and a hot tub and pool so you certainly don't get bored on the couple of days at sea. The entertainment was absolutely fantastic - - so talented. Obviously we loved this cruise. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Cuba is fascinating, and this is the best overall way to experience various cities and themes. Cheaper and easier than hotels or private homes, more variety of cities, with bonus of excellent Cuban lectures, entertainment and staff. ... Read More
Cuba is fascinating, and this is the best overall way to experience various cities and themes. Cheaper and easier than hotels or private homes, more variety of cities, with bonus of excellent Cuban lectures, entertainment and staff. Older ship design, a bit quirky, but once used to it, compares favorably to the dozen or so larger, newer ships on which I've sailed. A small ship has big advantages. Officer passed me as I was headed for door leading outside, turned around, went back and held it open for me! We had 45 knot winds one day, closing the pool and promenade deck, but did not bother me in middle of ship. 18 cabin categories!!! Size and layout vary widely, so do your homework in booking. I tried to attend every lecture and every show. The music/dance was not quite as polished as on megaships, but you felt more a part of the show. All the performers stood at exit of theatre to talk with us after each show. Lectures by Dr. Arocha were hilarious and insightful, and he spent as much time as I wanted with him privately discussing points of Cuban history. Food was very good, drink package a real deal. Am now addicted to double caramel macciados. Excursions on Cuba cruises (I've come on two cruise lines) are unique answers to US regulations, Cuban conditions and cruise ship needs. They are included in price for US citizens, cover a wide range of history, culture, shopping and onshore dining (included in price). Remember you are in the tropics and the streets are hot and humid.. Buses are modern, with a/c and bath. Guides work for the government agencies but are often quite candid about conditions in Cuba. One is free to come and go, especially on the overnight in Havana. There are adequate tourist police on the streets but no heavy-handed guards or guns. You will see much more security in US airports. Only complaint was that a/c varied from room to room and sometimes had trouble keeping up with the tropics. But crew moved our friends to another cabin to accommodate them. I am planning to return soon to Cuba on this same ship. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We chose this cruise specifically to visit Cuba, and embarked in Montego Bay. Embarkation was quick, no queues. We were not expecting much with regards to the ship, but we were pleasantly surprised by how new and luxurious it turned out to ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically to visit Cuba, and embarked in Montego Bay. Embarkation was quick, no queues. We were not expecting much with regards to the ship, but we were pleasantly surprised by how new and luxurious it turned out to be. For some reason, this cruise was particularly empty, with only about 200 cruisers on board, which was definitely an advantage, as no crowds anywhere. However, the fewer numbers meant that the ship did not open all the restaurants and buffets due to lack of guests. But the two main restaurants were always open for mealtimes. Our cabin was a Junior Suite with Balcony on deck 6, no complaints there, all in good working order. Cabin staff were very attentive at all times. Due to the few number of guests, it was very unfortunate that there were no optional excursions offered, other than the evening Tropicana one in Havana. We specifically wanted to visit Trinidad, but they only ran an excursion in German for the German speakers, so we were really disappointed about that. The 3 excursions that were included all went ahead as planned, these were included in the cruise price. The last one in Cienfuegos was a bit slow and drawn out. A specific highlight for me was Dr Jorge who did all the lectures - these were truly outstanding! Loved the ones on the Cuban Music, Cigars, History and Culture. The entertainment was great, the Cuban Band very good, all shows lively and well performed. And the entertainment director can really participate, lost count of how many languages he spoke. A good variety of drinks and cocktails, we attempted to try them all, but did not make it! Waiters and Waitresses always to hand for orders. A couple of minor niggles: - The seating in the buffet at breakfast was too cramped, and food not always fresh. - Could not understand why there was an extra charge for Orange Juice and Ice Cream? - We only discovered at the end of the cruise that we were entitled to a $50 cruise credit each, and this caused a last minute flurry and an accounting error on the bill. - More could have been done to ensure that the excursion to Trinidad was available, even if some private arrangements had been engineered etc We were not the only ones affected by this. So, in summary, if you want to see Cuba in reasonable depth (the classis cars alone are worth the visit) we can verify that its awesome, then you could do a lot worse than take this Cruise.......! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
While there were many things I enjoyed about the cruise, there were a number of major problems. The main reason I was going to Cuba was to experience Havana. I was expecting to have 2 days in Havana. When I asked in advance when I could ... Read More
While there were many things I enjoyed about the cruise, there were a number of major problems. The main reason I was going to Cuba was to experience Havana. I was expecting to have 2 days in Havana. When I asked in advance when I could get on the ship, I was told a few times that I would be able to board the ship around 1pm. I arrived early on Monday in Havana, and was then told that we could not get on the ship, and not told why. I was sent to lunch and then had to wait around until we could get on the ship that night because the ship was not allowed to dock at the port. I lost a full day of exploring Havana and enjoying the ship. The second day we had to get up at 6:15am to leave the ship early and be on a bus tour until 8:30pm. I thought there was a typo on the schedule, but, no, we really had to disembark very early. Our ship was bumped off the dock for a larger vessel. These things happen but I was also told that they knew about this problem at least 10 days prior to my arrival. We had to out until 8:30 at night, when we were allowed back on the ship. While we saw a lot of sites, it was not an enjoyable day. I booked this cruise a little over a week in advance, so at the time of my booking the company knew this was an issue. Had I know this was going to happen, I would not have booked this trip, or would have booked at a different time. I arrived on the ship and was told the wifi was not working. I was also then told that they knew the wifi was down a few days before I arrived. Again, had I known in advance that this was a problem, I would have made arrangements for being totally out of communication before arriving on the ship. The food was surprisingly mediocre, the wine very bad, and the bartenders did not know how to make mixed drinks. The Pros: The staff on the ship was wonderful, and the educational program was excellent. The best part of the whole ship experience was Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD. I attended all his lectures. He was entertaining and very knowledgeable. Quite a treat. I loved Cuba and am eager to go back to that island. These big issues impacted my overall experience on this vacation. I expected that the cruise line would have offered something to make up for all these inconveniences -but nothing was offered. The ship was less than half full but no upgrades were given. I also wrote to the company's customer service but never heard back. Read Less
Celestyal Crystal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates N/A N/A

Find a Celestyal Crystal Cruise