Cruising around Cuba on the Celestyal Crystal, February 2018

Celestyal Cruises
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#1
8 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
First time posting so forgive any errors.
Has anyone gone on the Havana Night Lights City Tour and Dinner? We are on an all inclusive cruise that includes 4 excursions. We have been offered two additional excursions which includes the above tour.
Also I read that the People to People Tours were not good. Any comment from someone who has been there?
Thanks for your help.
#2
VA, MD & FL
6,498 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by Kakey
First time posting so forgive any errors.
Has anyone gone on the Havana Night Lights City Tour and Dinner? We are on an all inclusive cruise that includes 4 excursions. We have been offered two additional excursions which includes the above tour.
Also I read that the People to People Tours were not good. Any comment from someone who has been there?...
I was on Celestyal Crystal11-18Aug 2017 rt out of Montego Bay. I thought our P2P tours were good to very good, but perhaps I lucked into some of the better guides (the ones we had spoke excellent English, were knowledgeable, were politically rational [ie not propaganda machines]) and seemed to give straight forward info on economic and political problems). The P2P groups were about 30 passengers in new air con buses; certainly not small group, but manageable. I did NOT do "Havana Night Lights City Tour and Dinner" as it was not even offered on our cruise. Many times (especially in summer) optional tours do not meet their minimum limit and are scratched. English is taught from first grade and many (not all) Cubans speak decent understandable English. Havana is probably safer than any US city (dictatorships often are severe on petty crime), and we felt perfectly safe going out after dark on our own in Havana. Practically every block people will offer written menus so doing dinner on your own is very easy. Rides in one of the 1950s convertibles are easily negotiated in the $40 CUC per hour range. IMO DIY easily done by most people. I'll try to answer further questions you may have.
#3
Arizona
6 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
We were on the Crystal starting March 20 2017 in Havana. .We found the tours to be very good and informative with no political issues. None of the tours or onboard presentations were required (no check in or sign in). The Cuban people we interacted with were friendly and welcoming of Americans. We attended a number of the onboard talks and found them very informative. Great information about the Battle of San Juan Hill and the loss of American soldiers on the Santiago tour. The busses were nearly new, air conditioned and the tour guides very good. All spoke English very well. I think that if you skip all the tours you will miss a significant amount of information.
#4
211 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
When in February are you cruising? I just started a Roll Call (under "Other Cruise Ships", I think it was, as for some reason, they don't seem to allow them to be here) for the Feb. 9th, 2018 sailing. Let me know if you are on that cruise.
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1967: Grace Line Santa Paula 13-night Caribbean/Venezuela (Curacao, La Guaira in Venezuela, Aruba, Kingston, Port-au-Prince)
2001 (August): Carnival Sensation 7-night Caribbean
2003 (January): Disney Wonder 3-night Caribbean
2004 (June-August): MV Explorer (fastest cruise ship at the time) 65-night Canada/Alaska/Russia/Korea/China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/Japan
2005-2006 (December-January: MV Explorer 16-night Panama Canal
2007 (July-August): Celebrity Constellation 14-night Baltic Sea
2010 (April): Carnival Victory 7-night San Juan/Caribbean
2011 (August): Norwegian Cruise Line 7-night Hawaii
2013 (January): Carnival Valor 7-night (Nassau/Bahamas, La Romana/Dominican Republic, San Juan/Puerto Rico, and Grand Turk)
2013 (April): Carnival Breeze 8-night (Miami, St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, Nassau)
2013 (October-November): Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas 7-night (Ft. Lauderdale, Labadee, Falmouth, Cozumel)
2014 (April): Carnivall Liberty 7-night (Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay/Isla Rotan
2014 (August-September): Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas 6-night (Bermuda)
2014 (October-November): Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas 7-night (Ft. Lauderdale, Nassau, Cozumel)
2015 (January-February): Carnival Dream 8-night (Key West, Freeport, Nassau/Bahamas)
2016 (Sept. 13-23): Carnival Vista 10-night (Athens, Rhodes, Valetta, Messina, Naples, Rome, Livorno, Marseilles, Barcelona)
2017 (April 9-15): Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas 6-night (Ft. Lauderdale,George Town, Cozumel, Puerto Costa Maya)
2017 (Nov. 4-12):Carnival Vista 8-night Southern Caribbean (Aruba, Bonaire Curacao)
2018(Feb. 9- 16): Celestyal Crystal 7-night (Santiago de Cuba, Havana, Cienfuegos)
Also took a short "cruise" to Nova Scotia in 2003, so total, I think I'll have been at sea (or in the midst of a cruise, anyway, as I was in hotels on land during part of the 2004 65-night cruise) for 227 days after the 2018 British Isles cruise.
#5
8 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
Hi Greek Gal, No we sail out of Montego Bay on 02/23/18.

Would love to hear more about the tours that are included with the cruise. Did you see art, museums, the old cars, etc.? What would you recommend seeing during free time?
I haven't heard anything about hurricane damage to Cuba. Has anyone heard anything?
Thanks, Kakey
#6
VA, MD & FL
6,498 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by Kakey
...Would love to hear more about the tours that are included with the cruise. Did you see art, museums, the old cars, etc.? What would you recommend seeing during free time? ...
I sailed from MoBay 11 Aug.
Tours: 1) Santiago de Cuba bus through downtown, San Juan Hill, art gallery, dance studio, 23 Aug Barricks, Tim factory, El Moro castle.
2) Havana am walking tour thought Ol Havana.
3) Havana pm bus to Capitol, Revolution Plaza, U.Havana, large handicraft market.
4) Havana day 2, bus to Miramar, Embassies, Gaudi style tile houses, choice of National Gallery of Art or Museum of the Revolution.
5) Cienfiagoes bus around downtown, street dances and art sale's,. 2nd art sale's, to fancy beach areas, downtown walk and free time.

Group size 30; good guides, new a/c buses. Tour guides are working for tips; we tipped $5 for each tour and felt they were well worth it. Musicians at the rum factory tasting room expect a dollar or so. Ship crew did. NOT have their hands out.(no suggestive piles of dollars at the omlet station or the bars).

Rather than take Tropicana optional, we (1 male, 3 females) walked around Old Havana at night - seemed safer than any city in US. Plenty of restaurants with pricing less than US if you wanted to eat off the ship

LOTS of old cars. A nice convertible asks 50 CUC per hour, but can be had for 40.

Irma flooded Old Havana but by Feb should be in as good as shape as ever (somewhat decrepit).

ENJOY
Thom
#8
United States
10 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
We will be boarding on Jan 19th for 7 day cruise to Cuba from Montego Bay. Cruise company and UK travel agent do not respond to any question. I am just looking for other cruisers for that voyage.
#9
8 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
Hi, We are taking the same cruise but we sail on January 26. We are upset with Celestyal as they cancelled our original cruise and we had to reschedule for January 26. We had booked "comfort class" on Delta. When we re-booked our flight due to Celestyal's decision to cancel our original cruise, Delta would not exchange our "comfort class" ticket. So we are now fighting with Celestyal to refund the amount we lost. Not happy with Delta or Celestyal! Have never sailed with one of the smaller cruise lines and probably won't ever book a cruise with one in the future. We have consistently cruised with Princess Line and have never had an issue with cancelled cruises. Our understanding is that Celestyal decided to take the ship to Greece earlier than scheduled. Again their choice, so we feel they owe us for the lost airline upgrade fees.
Our travel agent is handling this. It seems to take forever for her to get a response from Celestyal. Guess the Greek move slowly.
Kakey.
#10
west coast of Canada
3,109 Posts
Joined May 2004
I just got home from the Cuba cruise from Havana. I have to say that I was very impressed with the cruise. The staff were beyond great. So happy and personable. Loved talking to them. The ship is spotless. I have never been on a cruise ship that was so clean. They were polishing, vacuuming and the washrooms were spotless.
Food was very good. We ate in the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Main dining room for dinner, where again the service was fantastic.
Tours were very informative. Would like more time in Havana. We flew in from Vancouver so didn't get to ship until around 9pm and missed the first day there.
Lots going on during sea days.
Very small pool and no lounge chairs around it, they are all a deck above .

My only complaint and it's not really a complaint is that the cabins are very, very small and the TV selection is almost none.

It was a fantastic cruise, and I'd go again in a heartbeat.

I think they are cancelling cruises as they aren't anywhere near full. The cruise before us only had around 200 passenger and last week they had around 350. The ship holds 1200, with a crew of 460... so unless they can fill it up I can see it not returning to Cuba which is a shame.

All the Americans I talked to enjoyed the "people to people" program. I heard very few complaints.

I'd be happy to answer any questions and I have the daily programs.

The drink pkg was great, was very happy with all selections.
It's been many years that I've come home from a cruise with a "zero" balance
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Karen
#12
8 Posts
Joined Aug 2017
Hi Cool Cruiser, We disembarked the day you embarked on the Celestyal Crystal. We enjoyed the itinerary, the tours and for the most part the ship. Since we normally cruise on Princess there were some differences but overall the ship was lovely, the crew very friendly and helpful.
Hope you have a great cruise!
Kakey
#13
Iowa
1,669 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
I was on this cruise in December and thought it was great. We also only had about 200 passengers on the ship which will spoil you for any other cruise. The crew was fantastic and the food was very good.

I thought the P2P excursions were very good. Very similar to excursions I've done in other countries where you are exposed to various activities and sights. All the guides were very good, easy to understand and very open when answering questions. The only noticeable thing was that they never said anything negative about Castro and his regime. Otherwise, they shared what their jobs are like, the struggles they face in obtaining bare necessities, etc.

We did the Tropicana excursion and while, pricey, it was a once in a lifetime experience and worth it as far as I was concerned. We also rented one of the old car taxis which was a great way to see the real Havana up close and to hear about life from an unbiased person.

Overall, the ship, crew, excursions, etc. were all great. As you can see in my signature, I've done a lot of cruising and this one ranks right at the top.
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Cindy aka Dirty Jenny Flint
Celestyal Cruise to Cuba 12/8/17

Carnival Conquest 1/15/17
Carnival Dream 1/31/16
Carnival Valor 2/8/15
Carnival Liberty 2/8/14
Carnival Victory 1/27/13
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Carnival Liberty 2/4/12
Carnival Dream 1/22/11 PLA-TI-NUM!
Carnival Victory 1/24/10
Carnival Fantasy 9/19/09
MSC Orchestra 2/28/09 - Giving a different cruiseline a try!
Elation 10/4/08
Enchantment of the Seas 2/4/08

Destiny 12/9/07
Paradise 6/11/07


Vision of the Seas 10/29/06
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Valor 1/2/05
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