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About cinlo

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    The Villages FL
  • Interests
    Vacationing, sewing, crafts, second home in Yucatan Mexico, kiteboarding
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Grand Cayman, Bermuda
  1. I agree with previously posted thoughts on recent improvements on Celebrity. However, we started cruising in 2008.....only early and late seating times. I kind of miss that you had one waiter that knew what drink you wanted, tablemates for the entire week that you might become good friends with......and even the silly Baked Alaska last evening dessert.., with the parade of waitstaff and swirling of our napkins overhead. I miss fancy brunches with carved ice statues. I miss the midnight dessert buffet. Our last cruise on Azamara actually DID have the brunch, the desert buffet, and also White Night with a fantastic dinner served outside, with captain and staff manning the bbq.......whole fresh fish sourced locally.....all inclusive drinks.....smaller ships so you would actually recognize people as you saw them later in the cruise..... Azamara is a bit more expensive so not our first choice. We are looking forward to our upcoming cruise on the Edge in November.
  2. Is it possible for you to share which underwriter you used that was so difficult?
  3. Old car taxis will be roaming in the port area, not sure how much they are but I think you can bargain. A person we met had taken a CocoTaxi, the 3 wheeled cycle, for $10 from the hotel to Old Havana.
  4. cinlo

    Restroom Availability

    Not really. Our tour guide took us to certain hotels or restaurants that had restrooms. Sometimes you need to pay $1 and you will be given toilet paper. One hotel we went into, the lady had been getting American change, which the Cubans cannot use. She had $1 worth, so we traded her the American money for 1 CUC. There are public restrooms inside the port, which do not supply toilet paper so be sure to carry some. There were also restrooms at the Artisan market in Havana, which you need $1 for. Similar to Mexico, some restrooms also do not have toilet seats.
  5. Royal and Azamara are the same family, but I don't know if Royal is being more strict about it... Just off Azamara March 9-19 Cuba Intensive cruise....we were not told we could not get off the ship without one of their tours. We were sold the Cuba Visa onboard ($75). First port we showed our visa and passport, which was stamped. Santiago gave us a little boarding card which we needed to return to get back on the ship. Cienfuegos needed to see visa and passport. Havana was more involved...we waited in line to one at a time see their border patrol, had a photo taken, and they took the visa away. You need your passport, which they looked at and compared to the photo they took for all subsequent exits/entries. No one ever asked us if we had a tour arranged at any port, nor did they ask when you had booked your cruise (for those who booked prior to the last change of rules). We were free to do as we wished the entire cruise. Cuba relies greatly on tourism, the people don't care what country you are coming from.
  6. cinlo

    Money question

    We tried not to convert more than we thought we would use and guessed pretty well....at the port, you can buy rum, cigars, and other souvenirs. We were one dollar short using up all of our money and the clerk just sold us what we wanted anyway....the Cuban people were very nice except I found the ones working at bars and restaurants to be rather surly.
  7. Just off the Azamara Quest 9 day Cuba Intensive cruise. We stopped at Labadee, then on to Santiago de Cuba. We took a ships tour there, but were not told we could not get off the boat otherwise, as has been suggested. The next port was Cienfuegos, where we took another ships's tour out to Trinidad, a beautiful old town. We chose to take the ships tours mainly because you could pay with your credit card or onboard credit, thus needing less Cuban cash. Next we arrived in Havana at 2 pm and did not leave until 3 pm two days later, so overnight for 2 nights. Azamara put on an Azamazing Evening excursion, taking 17 busloads of passengers to the Heredia Theater in Santiago (boat did not leave that port until 6 am...) which was extremely well organized and a great opportunity to see the theater and experience the local music and dance. Azamara may be more expensive but the price includes the drinks and gratuities, as well as the Azamazing Evening, White Night, chocolate buffet, etc.
  8. Another option is to use Mexican Pesos. We travel to Mexico frequently and brought back extra pesos just for our Cuba cruise. Only the 3% fee was charged at the Cadeca. Over our about 3 days in Havana, we spent about $400, for one day long car tour and various souvenirs.....you would spend more if you go to one of the evening shows.
  9. We used Blexie tours. I think the Hotel National is a great place to see, even if the Embassy frowns upon it. Our guide took us there in our old car. We paid $5 each at the desk, and our guide took us on an impromptu tour of the lower level, into the famous bar, and around outside where the beautiful grounds are. The $5 gets you one "free" drink each. We also toured the missile bunkers from the Cuban Missile crisis while there. Also, Blexie tours took us to the Colon Cemetery, where we just wandered around looking at the amazing sculptures, and out to Fusterlandia, which is a crazy collection of tiled over structures similar to what you see in Barcelona. We also were taken to buy cigars at the current factory (on our trip, Partegas was closed). You need a car to see these places. Walking distance you can get to the four major squares, the Granma memorial, the Havana Club rum museum, and the Almacenes Artisan market is huge.....if you are looking for an old car painting, this is the place to go. You can easily spend a few hours here looking at the wonderful arts and crafts, great place for souvenirs of all price ranges. Because we are lazy, once back onboard the ship after a long day out, we did not go out again in the evening, and I think I should have at least gone to the Buena Vista social club....maybe on another trip!
  10. Our first day, we arrived at 2 pm and took the Havana Free Walking Tour at 4 pm. Very good tour, in fact I had researched that there is a ferry walking distance from the cruise port that costs $1 and takes you across to walk up to the Christ Statue. I mentioned it to our guide, and she took us to the ferry, paid for all 8 of us to go each direction, and showed us the stairway up the hill. I don't know if I would have found that myself. Second day we took the Blexie tour. $130 covered the car, driver and guide all day. We did not do any evening activities onshore but probably should have. Third day our ship departed at 3 pm, so we only walked around town again and shopped at the Alecranes artists market, which is quite large.
  11. Just back from cruise with two nights in Havana, March 16-18. Either way will work. While walking near the port we were often asked if we wanted a ride, but declined. We had our tour with Blexie prearranged. For $130 plus tip we had part walking, part driving from 10-4. They met us with a sign with our name across the street from the cruise port. Our guide was college educated teacher, making more money doing excursions. They took us everywhere we wanted to go, including a cigar factory (only to buy, you needed a ticket for a tour), Colon Cemetery, National Hotel, the John Lennon statue, Fusterlandia, and dropped us off at the Alcamenes craft market, which is walking distance back to the ship. In particular I was interested in local grocery stores to see how Cubans shop, and we were taken to several. Very small, just hole in the wall places for the most part, with a sign saying what was for sale and the price that day. I had researched and e-mailed several companies beforehand, including Tours with Blexie, Fertours, Nosotros Cubeamos.....Blexie had the best price ($130 car and driver all day), and were willing to be very flexible. We even decided to skip lunch because of eating too much on cruise!
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