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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This objective-chronological perspective of Cuba is provided by Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD , Havana University. Professor Arocha covered all important ports of call providing historical, cultural and architectural information in a ... Read More
This objective-chronological perspective of Cuba is provided by Dr.Jorge Gonzalez Arocha, PhD , Havana University. Professor Arocha covered all important ports of call providing historical, cultural and architectural information in a colloquial manner . Each and every one of the towns visited was a vivid picture that solidified the historical, architectural and cultural presentations made on board. All shore excursions were perfectly geared to the presentation on-board, providing a platform for us to interact with the people, the music, the culture itself. This jelling experience is The Authentic Cuban Experience. As for the ship experience itself, I was pleasantly surprised. Dining Room Exp: Food was delicious and authentic. I really enjoyed my lunch and dinners, when time permitted, at The Almanthia. Jose Luis, "Rest. Captain" has a welcoming smile and handshake for everyone which makes you feel "at home". Monica and Luis are excellent members of the wait staff but they also have the quality of making you laugh, which is medicine for the soul. That's an A+ in my book. I must mention Edel and Ricardo, "Rest Capt." from LEDA Deck Rest. Also gracious hosts with a sunny disposition. Our Cabin was impeccable every day, with special towel art presented by Vivianne and Ernesto. (5th Deck) All special requests were acted on immediately. They both were so attentive, always providing service with a smile. Entertainment on board were spectacular, thematic shows, provided by a team of polifacetic artistic acrobatic-singers, MC'd by Danny-from Romania, Cruise Director. Based on this experience, I'm already planning my next Cruise with Celestyal - Crystal...Thanks for the opportunity to share, Kudos to these people who make cruising fun as well as a learning experience. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We took this cruise for our birthday celebration and to see Cuba. We upgraded to a suite, which was well worth the extra price. The cabin was very large and comfortable. The housekeeping staff was exceptional and a joy to have. The staff ... Read More
We took this cruise for our birthday celebration and to see Cuba. We upgraded to a suite, which was well worth the extra price. The cabin was very large and comfortable. The housekeeping staff was exceptional and a joy to have. The staff was superior. The nightly shows were above average for a cruise ship. This is a smaller ship with mainly non-American passengers. This made for very interesting and enjoyable conversations. We are dancers. There was plenty of opportunity to dance for several hours after the nightly show to live bands or DJ's. Karaoke was available, Zumba, dance lessons, pool/party games. The entertainment staff was superior. The shore excursions in Cuba do need some work. The tour guides only know the history they are told and do not like getting into political discussions. Their English is marginal and difficult to understand. This is still a communist nation where "everything is great". The Museum of the Revolution indicates how much they mistrust and dislike Americans. They blame Americans for almost all bad things that have happened to them since 1959. The food also needs some upgrading. Very little seafood on board. Almost all meals had pork or chicken. The servings at dinner were adequate only with limited variety from night to night. There was no late night dining, except for one night of the 7. The captain's cocktail party night did not include the choice of surf and turf, which is usual on a cruise. The duty free shop was expensive, mostly full retail pricing. The embarkation and disembarkation procedures were very easy. The cruise director was excellent. Danny, Marta, Vladamir, Ramona were superior. Read Less
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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We wanted a true Cuban Experience and Celestyal Cruises are the only ones we knew of to provide that as most other cruises simply visit Havana. However, Celestyal take you to Cuban Ports and enhance your experience in the country. ... Read More
We wanted a true Cuban Experience and Celestyal Cruises are the only ones we knew of to provide that as most other cruises simply visit Havana. However, Celestyal take you to Cuban Ports and enhance your experience in the country. Embarkation was probably the simplest we have ever experienced in our 20+ cruises with various lines. We were aware that the ship used to be a Car Ferry but is has been refurbished so well that you just would not realise that fact. Our cabin was very spacious and immaculately clean, and yet again, probably larger than cabins on other cruise lines. We could not fault the food on board other than to say that the breakfast finished far too early and the food could be tepid most of the time. Other than that - you could not get late night snacks anywhere. The quality, even in the Buffet Restaurant, could not be faulted. On Deck, sunbathing was a joy as there were always plenty of sunbeds available. Probably the most memorable thing about our wonderful cruise though was the staff. Despite being on numerous cruises, the staff on this ship were the friendliest, most helpful we have ever experienced. We had 2 tours included in our package and they were absolutely excellent. The guides knew their stuff and made the experience very interesting. We had a Drinks Package and Pre-paid Gratuities which was an absolute bonus as I hate the situation on other ships when the staff are virtually begging for tips. The Drinks Package covered everything and the drinks were of good quality We had reservations about joining this ship due to its history (Car Ferry) plus the fact that we had never even heard of Celestyal before we researched cruises around Cuba but without doubt we would not hesitate to book with them again. Our only criticism apart from the tepid breakfasts was the fact that communication with the passengers could do with improvement as quite often you were left wondering what was going on. If you book this ship, avoid Deck 2 as your accommodation as occasionally there can be a strong smell of diesel. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Picked this cruise as it is the only itinerary that circles Cuba and makes 3 major port stops: Santiago, two full days and overnight in Havana, and Cienfuego. Originally, the itinerary included Maria Gouda but that was replaced with stop ... Read More
Picked this cruise as it is the only itinerary that circles Cuba and makes 3 major port stops: Santiago, two full days and overnight in Havana, and Cienfuego. Originally, the itinerary included Maria Gouda but that was replaced with stop at Punta Frances, which was dropped from the itinerary. We were not notified of this until two days before departing. Would have been nice to know but it actually turned out fine. Punta Frances is a marine preserve and Cuba is evaluating the impact on the environment because of the increased cruise ships. In the end, the itinerary was packed full and wonderful in any case. This is a fabulous cruise, especially for Americans who have to participate in the People-to-People experience. DO IT! You will be immersed with Cuban artists, dancers, musicians throughout. Entertainment on board each night is spectacular -- first rate!!! All performed by Cubans, who love to talk about Cuba and learn about USA. The excursions gave many opportunities to interact with Cuba culture and talk to people. All guides were Cuban. We had THE BEST lectures on board done by a young Cuban professor -- he was fun, full of information, dedicated to "teaching" us, answered all kinds of questions and spent endless hours talking to us about anything and everything. A big THANK YOU to him and all the performers and cruise director, Danny, and whole animation team. What a great trip and experience. Cabin great. Stayed in 7001 with two other friends. Two-room suite, lots of closet space, great bathroom, spacious balcony. Food sometimes really good; sometimes only fair. Wine list very lacking. Buffet breakfast food always cold, but you can have omelets or waffles made and they were hot and great. You don't take this cruise for the food. Pool small, most of the trip not operational because of netting over it because of waves; never saw anyone in it. No place to sit in loungers after swimming anyway. You don't take this cruise for the pool, but that doesn't matter. You take this trip to see CUBA! and see and enjoy you will. I've been all over the world and this visit to Cuba was powerful. GO! And go on this cruise for a full, real Cuban experience. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Wow, I have much to say here. The experience was a mixed one, but I got what I wanted to get out of the trip. No one goes on a cruise to Cuba to be on a ship, so I will cover the excursions first. I am a US citizen, so my itinerary was ... Read More
Wow, I have much to say here. The experience was a mixed one, but I got what I wanted to get out of the trip. No one goes on a cruise to Cuba to be on a ship, so I will cover the excursions first. I am a US citizen, so my itinerary was pre-planned as is required for the visa. Note that all tour guides were happy to answer questions, but they were well-indoctrinated. Coaches were clean and air conditioned and were like rolling castles compared to the life that the citizenry experienced. Throughout Cuba, you see crumbling homes and buildings with rusting corrugated steel. Be prepared for lack of toilet seats and paper everywhere, even with a 1 CUC restroom fee. Expect fees to take photos of almost anything, including the old cars. You will see music and dancing almost everywhere. The pride of Cuba is around their art/music/culture and it is deservedly so. Some of the other things that they are proud of is their social services, and that is probably misplaced from the view of western visitors. You won't see much graffiti. In the "tourist bubble" of coaches and tour guides, I felt safe all the time. Santiago is the first experience on this schedule, and it is a levelsetter for your Cuban visit. As you pull into the port you see the small boats and crumbling buildings. San Pedro de la Roca castle in Santiago is a must-see, as is San Juan Hill where I would have enjoyed more time. Additionally, in Santiago, you can get a guided tour of Moncada Barracks with a lesson on Castro, and see a community center with teenagers putting on a dance show. You may also be taken to a rum distillery that was pretty much worthless for me, an opportunity to separate your CUC from you. My suggestion: get rum and cigars in Cienfuegos on your last day in Cuba. 2 days or so in Havana. Old Havana is somewhat restored and is highly tourist-oriented, along with a price premium for everything. Some "fine" hotels and restaurants can be found, including a hotel where Hemingway stayed. Architecture is pleasant and wrought iron is beautiful (almost "New Orleans" level). You can find an edible meal with live music for lunch and supper. The walking tour was a bit rough on my 83 yr old father and after being shown the 5th city square/plaza, he was spent. I enjoyed the Craft/Souvenir market though most of the wares were not too exciting, the market itself is an experience. Must See's: Fusterlandia house (buy a tile if you can), Havana's art museum (no photos at all allowed), and the Cabana evening show (extra excursion). The cabana show was PG rated, but I don't think children are allowed.. the dancers were amazing and the band was as good as any US big band of old. Old cars with new engines are everywhere, we didn't take a ride as the coach had already shown us the same sights. Havana is worth experiencing and I feel like I just got a small taste of a complex, tragic, lovely city. 1 day in Cienfuegos Cienfuegos looks to be a resort town that has seen better days. We were given a bit of a song-and-dance about the government-provided pharmacy, food markets, dry goods, etc. We were again treated to a pleasant town square (which would be a good place to purchase cigars and rum, had I waited). We also were shown a city theatre building for what seemed like no reason. Must Sees: We were driven out to see a restaurant called palacio del valle that was picturesque. Finally, we hit 3 artistic spots, two of them that are worthy of leaving some money at...the most salient being the Graphical Society of Cienfuegos (works with down's syndrome artists). Crew and services First know that this ship employs MANY native Cubans, and they are rightfully proud of that. The crew on board the ship were friendly and helpful. I was happy with their efforts to keep things clean and to care for passengers. I purchased the full drink package. Drink and food service was very good. I never went hungry or thirsty. I did find that pleading for water bottles wasn't the most fun experience, especially if I wanted a few extra for excursions. I eventually resorted to filling up a thermos from the workout room's large water cooler. Stateroom was well-kept by maid service with towel folding art. The massage that I had was good-not-great. Meal service was great, the waitstaff were attentive, friendly, and well-informed about the options. I felt disturbingly guilty retiring in the evenings to a good meal after having seen the conditions in Cuba. Note that the ship's mixed drinks were not particularly liberal with the alcohol, but I could have as many as I wanted. The administrative staff at reception and excursion desks were also reasonably helpful. Cabin and amenities The ship is old and it shows. We did not have a good time with shower temperature. Additionally, having been on a newish RC ship with shower doors, the shower curtain clinging to my body was not pleasant. The soap and tray placement in the shower did not help things. Eventually I ended up showering in halves with one foot out. Other than that, the bathroom was as reasonable as any other on a ship, yet still old. Hint: take a shower at the gym/spa for some elbow room. The beds were twins/bunks with older electrical fixtures, but adequate. Cabin electricity was present, along with a reasonable closet, plenty of shelves, some drawers, and under-bunk storage. really only complaint about cabin was shower/watertemp. The pool was smallish for a ship and very few people used it, I did not. The hot tub appeared reasonable too. Though it was small, I did see people using it. Comments were that it was not particularly hot, but still acceptable. The casino was all electronic and was pretty empty throughout the cruise. The library was also empty. Decks and deck chairs were good. My phone (ATT) did get ATT at sea, but the other party could not hear me. Internet was not great, but it was available, I did not try it. Additionally, the internet area was near the smoking area, so some 2nd hand wafted over. One night, outdoors, I did clearly smell marijuana; this is not surprising as the ship sails from Jamaica. I am not sure if it was coming from passengers or crew, nor am I sure of the ship's policy on that as it is becoming acceptable in the USA in places. Entertainment etc. The "shows" were not good. Each night, was the same performers dancing and singing, and synchronization among dancers was not good. The band was also pretty weak. Intonation would be something that the singer and the sax player could learn. Thankfully, the shows were short (45 mins) and they all included scantily clad women so I was at least distracted from the performance. A few people would go up to the disco/karaoke bar later at night, but it was not exactly crowded either. There were also a few lounge-act type singers and a classical pianist. Some small classes which I'd say more like interactive "demos" were available such as food carving and napkin folding, and towel folding. Additionally some cuban dance and cooking demos. They seemed well enough for the at-sea days. In contrast with the dance/music shows, the ship had a cuban expert, a mid-30s PhD in Cuban history who was excellent. I cannot say enough good words about him. He gave daily lectures. He explained the history of how Cuba got to where it is today. He taught me much about Cuba and her international relations that I did not know prior to the cruise. Unlike the excursion tour guides, he was happy to answer ANY question, including difficult ones such as "Cuba gives every citizen a food ration card, but can the citizen actually turn that ration card into food?" His contribution made this trip very worthwhile. He joked that on one side he was being bugged by the CIA and on the other by the Cuban military; he presented Cuba in a good light with a balanced view. Other/leftovers: The excursions for US citizens are NOT resort-type excursions, do not expect to swim with dolphins, snorkel at a reef, or relax on a beach with umbrella-drinks at your demand. The excursions are primarily intended to be educational with a bit of tourist shopping, and for the most part, they were. On the excursions, do not expect any discussion about the missile crisis or GTMO. The shipboard "view" of GTMO was after dark and pretty far away, but it was lit up. Remember that GTMO is a huge military base and only a small part of it is the infamous prison. A family that had relatives in Cuba was able to visit them, and that family left all sorts of goods with the relatives, OTC meds, towels, shoes, t-shirts, extra CUCs, etc, if you are in a similar spot, you may want to do that. The economic situation is complex and troubling. It isn't as bad as Juarez with beggars on the street, but still difficult to see with our western lens, the tour guides and waiters earn more then the MDs. You may only exchange money at the ports, everyone says to bring Euro or CAD rather than USD, and I can agree with that, a few vendors accept USD and there is a premium for USD exchange to CUC. Do not expect an ATM or credit card acceptance. This trip had few teenagers or families or 20-somethings. It was adults and seniors. Spend the $12 at reception and schedule a bridge tour, it's worthwhile. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
Wanted to see Cuba without a lot of hassle and long bus trips so chose a 7 day cruise which included 3 Cuban ports. (Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago) Some of the entrance channels are narrow and shallow which will prevent larger ships from ... Read More
Wanted to see Cuba without a lot of hassle and long bus trips so chose a 7 day cruise which included 3 Cuban ports. (Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago) Some of the entrance channels are narrow and shallow which will prevent larger ships from stopping at these ports. In fact leaving Cienfuegos the ship was causing mud and sand in its wake as the water was so shallow and the channel appeared no more than a couple of hundred yar ds wide. I would rate the cruise overall as excellent. The included tours were very good on nearly new high quality air conditioned buses with restrooms. (Chinese). The food was of a wide variety and very good. US citizens on the ship were in a minority with many French, German and Canadians. The crew and service was outstanding. Our cabin was kept in immaculate condition by our Ukrainian and Uzbeckisani cabin attendants. The ship is older and small by todays standards but has recently been refurbished and is in excellent condition. Our tour was advertised as a People to People tour as per US requirements. There were numerous and informative programs to meet these provisions at which attendance was invited and encouraged but never required. Dress was casual and a jacket and tie is not required. The all inclusive drink package was included in our price and it is a very good program. The nightly shows were very good. Highly recommended Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We chose this for a true Cuban experience before it all changes. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze. The best in a long time. Don't go on this ship if you're expecting all the bells and whistles of a megaship. ... Read More
We chose this for a true Cuban experience before it all changes. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze. The best in a long time. Don't go on this ship if you're expecting all the bells and whistles of a megaship. The capacity is around 920 passengers--a little cramped for this size ship but still manageable. The decor of the common areas is mid-century modern to 60's but very clean and well-maintained. The swimming pool is salt water and in the middle of the outside dining area. The hot tub is in the aft bar area. There is a full-service spa as well as a small gym and a ladies' and a men's sauna. Since the food is the same no matter if you eat in the restaurants or at the buffet, it's your choice for atmosphere. I personally prefer the Olympus Restaurant (Deck 5). The layout allows for the service to run like a well-oiled machine. Our waiter, Eduardo, and our drink steward, Tatiana were the best--always friendly and always accommodating our requests. Mind you, it's open seating, but we always gravitated to their serving area. The Amalthia Restaurant (deck 8) had mostly tables for 8, seemed very cramped, and did not lend itself to the kind of service as at Olympus. The food is not "Top Chef" worthy, but it is very good and always served hot as opposed to other ships where it may be only lukewarm. I would advise the drink package. The mainstage shows were quite professional given the size of the shop. Vladimir, the cruise director, always kept things hopping with his high energy, and the Latin dance instructors, Marta and Sonny were great, and they all kept it fun. All in all, the service was great. My only complaint was the Reception Desk staff. They got the job done but were less than friendly. The upper echelon of officers were not friendly either, but I guess their job was to get us there not to smile or say hello. We were with a group so our excursions were already booked for us. One nice thing--there was a professor from the U of Havana (PhD) on board who gave talks and lectures about his country and it history which was great. This is not a cruise for children as there are no activities geared especially for them. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Our cruise was part of a package booked through Air Transat. We expected it to be a direct flight from Vancouver to Havana but instead we stopped at Santa Clara, got off the plane, and got back on to fly to Varadero. Then we were bussed ... Read More
Our cruise was part of a package booked through Air Transat. We expected it to be a direct flight from Vancouver to Havana but instead we stopped at Santa Clara, got off the plane, and got back on to fly to Varadero. Then we were bussed for almost three hours to Havana and boarded the ship after travelling for twelve hours. This is the fault of Air Transat, not the Cruise Line so I would recommend you look for a direct flight as you lose the first day of the cruise and miss out on the optional excursions that are offered. I was with a group of friends and this cruise exceeded all of our expectations. The food in the dining room was excellent, as was the wine, breakfast and lunch in the buffet were very good and there were specialties offered on the pool deck every day. The ship has a little age on it and is not as glitzy as the larger lines but we really liked the size of the ship and how easy it was to get around. It was also very clean. There is a lovely theatre where the entertainment every evening was outstanding and lots of fun. There were free excursions included in every port and they were very informative and enjoyable. I celebrated my birthday on the ship along with one of my friends and we were presented with birthday cakes and the singing of happy birthday by our wait staff. The same servers looked after us at the same table every night and we really appreciated that they went the extra mile for us and remembered that at the end of the cruise with a good tip. The pool is tiny with a retractable roof and was hardly used. I tried the hot tub but it wasn't hot enough for me. There was lots of entertainment like cooking classes, dancing lessons and games offered during the day. Please pay attention to the request not to put anything in the toilets, including toilet paper, as you wouldn't want to clog up the system. All in all, I recommend this cruise. It was one of the best cruise experiences I have had. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2017
I'm a little late adding my review, but better late than never. My sister and I chose this cruise as a break in between land tours of Mexico and Cuba. It gave us the opportunity to travel and see more places whilst still getting to ... Read More
I'm a little late adding my review, but better late than never. My sister and I chose this cruise as a break in between land tours of Mexico and Cuba. It gave us the opportunity to travel and see more places whilst still getting to sleep in the same bed every night, so it was a great break from the land tours where we were packing and unpacking and moving every couple of days. We sailed Havana to Havana, which gave us the opportunity to spend more time in Havana before and after the cruise (and it was also the starting place of a land tour we did). We loved the ship. Neither of us are fans of huge cruise ships, so this was the perfect size. The staff were all friendly and helpful. Breakfasts, lunch and afternoon tea were all served in the buffet and there was always plenty of choice. There were 2 restaurants open for dinner. We preferred the smaller one on deck 5, but they both served the same menu. The food was very good. I think there was only one meal that wasn't great, and that was the shrimp on the last night. Alcoholic drinks were included in the cruise price and I did my best to get through the cocktail menu, but didn't quite make it! The drinks weren't very strong (which was probably just well!) but they were good. The shows each night were not to be missed. The theatre is quite small and has some columns which block your view if you don't get there early enough to get a good seat. The performers were all very talented and put on a great show each night. We used the laundry service which was fine, but the drycleaning service wasn't very good. The shore excursions were also included in the price. They were all pretty good. They were well organised too, make sure you're on time in the mornings because there is no delay in getting you off the ship and away on the excursion. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Sailing Celestyal is a great way to visit Cuba if you are eager to go now, especially if you’d like to explore beyond Havana. The “Authentic Cuba” program ensures you will meet conditions for U.S. cultural exchange. Celestyal makes ... Read More
Sailing Celestyal is a great way to visit Cuba if you are eager to go now, especially if you’d like to explore beyond Havana. The “Authentic Cuba” program ensures you will meet conditions for U.S. cultural exchange. Celestyal makes it pretty easy. I've rated the cruise "very good" overall *only* because of the Cuba itinerary. Upsides to sailing with Celestyal, include: ease in obtaining Cuban visa and navigating customs and immigration; documentation to satisfy the U.S. government; simplicity in logistics; consistency in accommodations; the assurance of a culturally-rich experience; a nice variety of Cuban entertainment, food and drink on board. Evening shows exceeded our expectations, performed by an entirely Cuban staff (in Spanish). The itinerary was especially good, with an overnight in Havana and two additional cities, both of which we enjoyed at least as much as Havana. We have few substantive complaints. Many of the downsides to sailing with Celestyal may be attributed to restrictions imposed by Uncle Sam on U.S. citizens! Among those attributed to the company itself: clunky website lacks important details; uneven and inaccurate call center support; small and aging ship -- clean but a clunker; primarily elderly clientele; limited social space and entertainment venues; tiny pool (only 1) and minuscule hot tub (only 1, poorly placed); mediocre dining with open seating (ugh); most staff are surface-friendly, not highly engaged, not service oriented, many would not last long on big brand ships; company exerts no effort to build brand loyalty (i.e. no perks and special attention). Find more details about our experience -- including lots of photos and individual posts on each port of call at northcountry[dot]seasons[dot]com 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

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