Pearl Seas Cuba 2017 Cruise...How was it?


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#21
Alabama
1,686 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
Originally posted by juliasurgent
@Ken,
That's great! I will be interested in your experience, as we've never been on Oceania before (being relatively new to cruising).

Twice on Pearl Seas, though! Once on Royal Caribbean to Alaska. Love the small ships.
We've been on Oceania cruises twice and have a few more booked in the coming few years. The two things I can say about Oceania is that their main focus is on FOOD and they cater to adults. Simply put, if you bring children along, it will be up to you to entertain them as they have no children facilities onboard. But if you love to eat quality food, whether you enjoy eating in the MDR, their specialty restaurants of which there is no extra charge, or at their buffet where you can have steak and lobster every night if you'd like, you definitely want to check out Oceania. In addition as they now have 6 ships, their itineraries are getting a lot more inyteresting.
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Previous Cruises (days)
Oceania (72), Celebrity (42), Crystal (21), HAL (124), Princess (19), Disney (7), RCCL (14), NCL (7)
Future Cruises
2018 Oceania (Greece/Western Med/TA, 44d)
2019 Celebrity (Caribbean, 21d) - Crystal (Southeast Asia, 30d) - Princess (British Isles, 16d) - HAL (Australia, 40d)
2020 Princess (Panama Canal/Easter Island (25d)
#22
Maryland
5,441 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Thank you for the information. We're going to Cuba in December, so I'm trying to find out as much as I can.

Oceania is a great line, by the way.....love the size, service, food, itineraries, etc.
#23
Chicago suburbs
106 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Just booked a last minute December sailing on the Pearl Mist after our Cuban adventure on the Aegean Odyssey was canceled last Thursday. As my husband and I discovered this cruise company while googling our options, I would appreciate being brought up to speed by Cruise Critic members who have sailed with Pearl Seas to Cuba in 2017.
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PAST CRUISES:
Pearl Mist - Cuba - December 2017
Aegean Odyssey - South Africa - Christmas 2015
NCL Pride of America - Hawaii - January 2015
Disney Wonder Eastern Caribbean - Christmas 2012
Aegean Odyssey thru the Greek Isles from Athens to Istanbul - September 2012
Crystal Cruises' Serenity from Miami to LA via the Panama Canal - January 2012
Viking River Cruises on the Nile - February 2010
Viking River Cruises' Legend sailing the Rhine & Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest - September 2009
Viking River Cruises' St. Petersburg to Moscow - May 2005
Viking River Cruises' Century Star along the Yangtze River from Wuhan to Yichang China - September 2004
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper's Repositioning cruise along the Inside Passage from Seattle WA to Juneau AK - May 2003
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper from Vancouver BC to the San Juan Islands and return - September 2002
Oceanic's The Big Red Boat from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and return - July 1987

LOOKING AHEAD TO
Family cruise on the Disney Fantasy - December 2018
#24
Chicago suburbs
106 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
roothy123 Not sure if you're leaving later this week or in mid-December, but I thought that I'd check in case you're sailing on the Pearl Mist? My husband and I embark on the 12th of December and are looking for shipmates...
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PAST CRUISES:
Pearl Mist - Cuba - December 2017
Aegean Odyssey - South Africa - Christmas 2015
NCL Pride of America - Hawaii - January 2015
Disney Wonder Eastern Caribbean - Christmas 2012
Aegean Odyssey thru the Greek Isles from Athens to Istanbul - September 2012
Crystal Cruises' Serenity from Miami to LA via the Panama Canal - January 2012
Viking River Cruises on the Nile - February 2010
Viking River Cruises' Legend sailing the Rhine & Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest - September 2009
Viking River Cruises' St. Petersburg to Moscow - May 2005
Viking River Cruises' Century Star along the Yangtze River from Wuhan to Yichang China - September 2004
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper's Repositioning cruise along the Inside Passage from Seattle WA to Juneau AK - May 2003
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper from Vancouver BC to the San Juan Islands and return - September 2002
Oceanic's The Big Red Boat from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and return - July 1987

LOOKING AHEAD TO
Family cruise on the Disney Fantasy - December 2018
#25
5 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
My husband and I just returned from the November 20-30 sailing of the Pearl Mist to Cuba. We had an excellent time and urge everyone to go to Cuba NOW. The people are friendly and the sightseeing is very interesting. You never know from week to week what the restrictions from either government will bring. I heard that the Cuban government now allows ships to only remain in Havana for 24 hours. We were there about 48 and it wasn't enough. Seeing how it is Cuba you have to be flexible and stay patient as there may be some waiting around. The people in Cuba don't have a lot of money or the opportunity to get much. Average wage is $20 per month. Tour guides make more in one day than a doctor or lawyer makes in one month. Food is rationed. The food that is available first goes to the restaurants. Cubans are very literate as the government provides schooling for everyone through university. Health care is nationalized but well run. If you go to Cuba take a lot of soap, shampoo and toothpaste to give away on the street. These are not available for purchase by the Cubans so they really appreciate these small gifts. We also brought pencils for the children but the other items are the most needed.

As for Pearl Seas and the Pearl Mist, the ship was nice and our stateroom (the least expensive) was the largest of any regular stateroom we have ever been in. We were in cabin 219 and it was an excellent location. About midship and just down the hall from the lounge where most of the lectures and entertainment took place. Down one flight of stairs to the dining room. Very quiet except for the air conditioner but we got used to that. Large window in room and a door to our private balcony. The liquor at happy hour (which extended until about 10:30 every night) was quite good. Breakfast was really good with a continental buffet and also a cooked to order menu. Many choices. At breakfast they asked you to mark what you wanted for lunch and dinner that day but you didn't have to stick with your choice. 4 choices of entree at dinner every night. Portions are small but you probably could have asked for more if you were still hungry. Not a lot of wasted food like on other ships. The amenities in the stateroom were nice and the bed was excellent. Our steward came in twice a day to clean up. As much as I want to be ecological and keep my towel each day, it was quite humid and the towels never dried out the same day.


I think Pearl Seas could have done a little better in communication before the trip. The FAQs on their website are a little lacking. For example, I had to call to see if there was a hairdryer in the stateroom and other passengers said they had to call with lots of questions, particularly about what to wear. Also, on our sailing the return transfer to the airport was included, but this was not mentioned anywhere prior to sailing. We prepurchased a transfer from a bus company, but we could have transferred for free with Pearl Seas. Laundry was included but there was no information about that until a bag appeared on our bed about the third day. I had to ask the cost (no charge!) so that was really nice feature. We also got a nice bag and caps.


The excursions were all included (you had your choice of a half day or a longer day with lunch out included). We always went for the longer day so we could have a variety of food. Highlight was a ride in one of the old beautiful cars. We also went to the Tropicana nightclub in Havana. The passengers were all nice and only 124 passengers on our sailing (Thanksgiving week). Average age in mid 70s. Could have had more activities on at sea days but those naps were really nice!


The price of the Pearl Seas Cuba trip is more per day than any other trip we have been on, but everything but gratuities is included. It is also the only way to see the most of Cuba on a cruise. 3 ports and 2 bus rides to other cities included. I don't think any other cruise line does that now. We are really glad that we went on this trip.
#26
Alabama
1,686 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
Originally posted by ilovearmor
My husband and I just returned from the November 20-30 sailing of the Pearl Mist to Cuba. We had an excellent time and urge everyone to go to Cuba NOW. The people are friendly and the sightseeing is very interesting. You never know from week to week what the restrictions from either government will bring. I heard that the Cuban government now allows ships to only remain in Havana for 24 hours. We were there about 48 and it wasn't enough. Seeing how it is Cuba you have to be flexible and stay patient as there may be some waiting around. The people in Cuba don't have a lot of money or the opportunity to get much. Average wage is $20 per month. Tour guides make more in one day than a doctor or lawyer makes in one month. Food is rationed. The food that is available first goes to the restaurants. Cubans are very literate as the government provides schooling for everyone through university. Health care is nationalized but well run. If you go to Cuba take a lot of soap, shampoo and toothpaste to give away on the street. These are not available for purchase by the Cubans so they really appreciate these small gifts. We also brought pencils for the children but the other items are the most needed.

As for Pearl Seas and the Pearl Mist, the ship was nice and our stateroom (the least expensive) was the largest of any regular stateroom we have ever been in. We were in cabin 219 and it was an excellent location. About midship and just down the hall from the lounge where most of the lectures and entertainment took place. Down one flight of stairs to the dining room. Very quiet except for the air conditioner but we got used to that. Large window in room and a door to our private balcony. The liquor at happy hour (which extended until about 10:30 every night) was quite good. Breakfast was really good with a continental buffet and also a cooked to order menu. Many choices. At breakfast they asked you to mark what you wanted for lunch and dinner that day but you didn't have to stick with your choice. 4 choices of entree at dinner every night. Portions are small but you probably could have asked for more if you were still hungry. Not a lot of wasted food like on other ships. The amenities in the stateroom were nice and the bed was excellent. Our steward came in twice a day to clean up. As much as I want to be ecological and keep my towel each day, it was quite humid and the towels never dried out the same day.


I think Pearl Seas could have done a little better in communication before the trip. The FAQs on their website are a little lacking. For example, I had to call to see if there was a hairdryer in the stateroom and other passengers said they had to call with lots of questions, particularly about what to wear. Also, on our sailing the return transfer to the airport was included, but this was not mentioned anywhere prior to sailing. We prepurchased a transfer from a bus company, but we could have transferred for free with Pearl Seas. Laundry was included but there was no information about that until a bag appeared on our bed about the third day. I had to ask the cost (no charge!) so that was really nice feature. We also got a nice bag and caps.


The excursions were all included (you had your choice of a half day or a longer day with lunch out included). We always went for the longer day so we could have a variety of food. Highlight was a ride in one of the old beautiful cars. We also went to the Tropicana nightclub in Havana. The passengers were all nice and only 124 passengers on our sailing (Thanksgiving week). Average age in mid 70s. Could have had more activities on at sea days but those naps were really nice!


The price of the Pearl Seas Cuba trip is more per day than any other trip we have been on, but everything but gratuities is included. It is also the only way to see the most of Cuba on a cruise. 3 ports and 2 bus rides to other cities included. I don't think any other cruise line does that now. We are really glad that we went on this trip.
Thanks for the detailed write-up on the cruise. Sounds like you folks had a great time. We were booked to go in May 2018 on the Pearl Mist, but jumped ship over to the Oceania Sirena this past spring when we had an opening to get all of our deposit back. You're right, no one has a 10 day cruise so far like Pearl Seas. To make sure we were able to get the same experience, we had to book a 16 day B2B to be able to see all the Cuban ports and outlying towns the Pearl Mist was scheduled to go to. Amazingly, the price was pretty much a wash and we got 6 more days of cruising to boot. Hopefully, we'll have as a great of time as it sounds you had on your visit!
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Previous Cruises (days)
Oceania (72), Celebrity (42), Crystal (21), HAL (124), Princess (19), Disney (7), RCCL (14), NCL (7)
Future Cruises
2018 Oceania (Greece/Western Med/TA, 44d)
2019 Celebrity (Caribbean, 21d) - Crystal (Southeast Asia, 30d) - Princess (British Isles, 16d) - HAL (Australia, 40d)
2020 Princess (Panama Canal/Easter Island (25d)
#27
Chicago suburbs
106 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
ilovearmor,

Thank you for your informative post. My husband and I were originally scheduled to visit Cuba in December on the Aegean Odyssey, however they canceled their entire winter cruise itinerary in mid-October. Fortunately we discovered Pearl Seas Cuba and booked one of their four remaining rooms the following week.

Long story short, I have also found their front office to be less than informative in our dealings with them to date. Emails were exchanged providing us with registration information on two occasions, however when I requested e-mail confirmation that they had received the required paperwork, they neglected to reply. Hopefully everything is in place, but I believe that the front office assumes too much with regards to prior knowledge.

As a retired teacher, I was hoping that we would be given the opportunity for a classroom visit, but guess that I will switch out the colored pencils and counters that I was planning on bringing with the items you recommended.

Thank you,
LT2
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PAST CRUISES:
Pearl Mist - Cuba - December 2017
Aegean Odyssey - South Africa - Christmas 2015
NCL Pride of America - Hawaii - January 2015
Disney Wonder Eastern Caribbean - Christmas 2012
Aegean Odyssey thru the Greek Isles from Athens to Istanbul - September 2012
Crystal Cruises' Serenity from Miami to LA via the Panama Canal - January 2012
Viking River Cruises on the Nile - February 2010
Viking River Cruises' Legend sailing the Rhine & Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest - September 2009
Viking River Cruises' St. Petersburg to Moscow - May 2005
Viking River Cruises' Century Star along the Yangtze River from Wuhan to Yichang China - September 2004
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper's Repositioning cruise along the Inside Passage from Seattle WA to Juneau AK - May 2003
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper from Vancouver BC to the San Juan Islands and return - September 2002
Oceanic's The Big Red Boat from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and return - July 1987

LOOKING AHEAD TO
Family cruise on the Disney Fantasy - December 2018
#28
Chicago suburbs
106 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Well, i'm now a week into our Cuban cruise with Pearl Seas. Thought that I'd post a review while still onboard so that I will recall more of the details. First, the cabins are of adequate size, but certainly not the largest in the industry as touted by the company. There is a desk with a center drawer as well as three small ones on the right and an additional three on the left, the bottom left drawer contains a safe which is difficult for older passengers to access as it' s only a couple of inches off the floor. There is also a 3 drawer dresser which is located next to the closet and is adequate for your folded clothes. The closet itself is fairly small with a rod for hanging clothes and 24 white plastic hangers for dress shirts, a dress or two, and pants. However there are no hangers with attachments for skirts or pants if you'd like to hang them to eliminate wrinkles. I'd suggest bringing along some plastic clothes pins which could be attached to the hangers for this purpose. There is also a night stand on either side of the bed with two small drawers and a reading lamp. You are able to adjust the room temperature with a control that has both heat and air settings and an off switch. Although there is a vent in the bathroom, it is not adequate when showering and the large mirror steams up quickly. A small vanity with two drawers and a under sink cabinet complete the set up. If electing to do hand wash, you will need to bring a cord and clips for hanging.

Lunch time...
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PAST CRUISES:
Pearl Mist - Cuba - December 2017
Aegean Odyssey - South Africa - Christmas 2015
NCL Pride of America - Hawaii - January 2015
Disney Wonder Eastern Caribbean - Christmas 2012
Aegean Odyssey thru the Greek Isles from Athens to Istanbul - September 2012
Crystal Cruises' Serenity from Miami to LA via the Panama Canal - January 2012
Viking River Cruises on the Nile - February 2010
Viking River Cruises' Legend sailing the Rhine & Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest - September 2009
Viking River Cruises' St. Petersburg to Moscow - May 2005
Viking River Cruises' Century Star along the Yangtze River from Wuhan to Yichang China - September 2004
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper's Repositioning cruise along the Inside Passage from Seattle WA to Juneau AK - May 2003
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper from Vancouver BC to the San Juan Islands and return - September 2002
Oceanic's The Big Red Boat from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and return - July 1987

LOOKING AHEAD TO
Family cruise on the Disney Fantasy - December 2018
#29
PA
978 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by Richard in Panama
OK, I'm on PEARL SEAS rockin' & rollin' on our way from Cienfuegos to Santiago de Cuba. Rough seas last night, but our little ship did fine. There would be motion on any ship of any size, but really, it wasn't much worse than on a big ship. The ship itself is the perfect size for Cuba. In Havana we were docked next to a MSC giant with all their people enduring lines and swarming the city in typical tour groups. PEARL MIST has no casino, no Botox treatments, no art "auctions," no teeth whitening, watch sales, junk $12 sales, no bumper cars, water slides, climbing walls, ice skating rinks, no kids and no lines! It's a nice small ship were you have spacious rooms all with balconies, eat with whomever you want, very good food, free and free flowing drinks, and a fantastic crew. Lectures ... which I why I happen to be on board ... passengers who are a bit more mature, can afford an all-inclusive cruise, are well-educated and well-traveled and on board for the adventure and the ports. We are visiting not just Havana, although that was great and we were docked right in Old Havana, but also Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba with INCLUDED tours in all ports including Trinidad (fantastic!), El Cobre, and Bacanao Park. No wanta-be Broadway shows but a really talented couple who provide after dinner entertainment. For those for whom feathers and g-strings ... the real ones ... are a necessity ... included was an evening trip to the Tropicana for their traditional night club show including by the way a bottle of Cuban rum for every 4 people.

The architecture in Cuba is fantastic. The people we've met have been warm and welcoming including one old guy who insisted on sharing his home-made empanadas with us yesterday morning when we were walking around the main square in Cienfuegos. The buses are ALL beautiful, new with rest rooms that are unlocked and available for use. The guides are good ... but throughout you need to remember that "This is Cuba" so things are different. This is a new experience not just for the US cruise lines and uS guests, but also for both countries, so, as with any trip there are hickups.

This is a very comfortable way to see multiple ports in Cuba. My advice is to do some research before you come. There is a good series on Cuba on Netflx. THE HISTORY OF CUBA by Clifford L. Staten is a good background to read. It's on Amazon.

The Internet is pretty good ... and if you're reading this ... it is good, and free.

Regards, Richard
Might I ask which room category you were in? I'm considering a trip on the Mist and was considering either Category K or L. Thanks for any feedback on the cabins....
#30
Chicago suburbs
106 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Three4rd,
I am on Deck 4 near the bow in a Category K cabin and you may read my cabin review which I posted on 12/19. Although we are located close to the Pacific Lounge, that doesn't present a problem as the lounge is seldom used for group activities, but it provides us with a comfortable spot to view Cuba as we booked a room on the wrong side of the ship for this sail. Several individuals assigned to aft cabins on Deck 4 have told us that they have experienced vibrations and engine noise in their cabins, although I have no way to document those statements. I personally would not want a cabin on Deck 2 forward due to the traffic going to and from the Atlantic Lounge several times a day. Hope that this helps... LT2
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PAST CRUISES:
Pearl Mist - Cuba - December 2017
Aegean Odyssey - South Africa - Christmas 2015
NCL Pride of America - Hawaii - January 2015
Disney Wonder Eastern Caribbean - Christmas 2012
Aegean Odyssey thru the Greek Isles from Athens to Istanbul - September 2012
Crystal Cruises' Serenity from Miami to LA via the Panama Canal - January 2012
Viking River Cruises on the Nile - February 2010
Viking River Cruises' Legend sailing the Rhine & Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest - September 2009
Viking River Cruises' St. Petersburg to Moscow - May 2005
Viking River Cruises' Century Star along the Yangtze River from Wuhan to Yichang China - September 2004
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper's Repositioning cruise along the Inside Passage from Seattle WA to Juneau AK - May 2003
Intrav's Yorktown Clipper from Vancouver BC to the San Juan Islands and return - September 2002
Oceanic's The Big Red Boat from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and return - July 1987

LOOKING AHEAD TO
Family cruise on the Disney Fantasy - December 2018
#31
San Francisco
657 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by ilovearmor
The excursions were all included (you had your choice of a half day or a longer day with lunch out included). We always went for the longer day so we could have a variety of food.
Do they offer a 3rd option: two half day excursions (one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, with lunch on the ship)?

I understand gratuities are not inclusive. In addition to tipping the local guides, how is the tipping of the ship's crew handled? Individually, or a lump sum at the end, and do they give you a guideline for the amount?