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Anyone going to Cuba?

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Paddy-O, Thanks for the information on booking this cruise in Canada. We have a cabin on hold for the Mar. 9 sailing. Just working out details of a land stay before or after the cruise. Also thanks to everyone else for the great information on here. We are looking forward to our first Star Clippers cruise. We have been on Windstar several times and love the small ship experience.

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Hi,

 

For the 16th feb 2014 cruise. Did anyone find anything else to do ashore apart from the Ships excursions?

 

I have not found too much.

 

The Cayman Islands National Trust has a few things to do

http://www.nationaltrust.org.ky/index.php/what-we-do/tours-venues

 

And the Booby Pond on Little Cayman http://www.nationaltrust.org.ky/index.php/info-sheets/booby-pond-nature-reserve sounds very interesting, but I cannot make my mind up as to whether we actually visit there or Cayman Brac or if they are one & the same even.

 

I met a lady on a cruise who took her printer along with her & she showed me photos of some beautiful Blue Footed Boobies she had recently taken in the Galapagos. I remarked about this to her cousin later & said that I barely knew this lady, & here she is, showing me her Boobies - & they are Blue to boot! Must be chilly on the Galapagos.

 

I usually take cruises for the destinations, but this time it is definitely the ship that is the attraction. I have been on a Clipper before but it was in dry dock at Greenwich - the Cutty Sark. You all might be more familiar with the Whiskey.

 

Cuba in February does have a certain appeal though.

 

Steve

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Anyone know how to go about booking excursions for this cruise?? Or do you do that once on board?? Thanks for the help.

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Has anyone got their tickets yet - we're still waiting and we leave a week today!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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Got mine today. They were sent to my travel agent yesterday.

 

Came with a tiny back-pack.

 

Steve

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Anyone know how to go about booking excursions for this cruise?? Or do you do that once on board?? Thanks for the help.

 

Try contacting whoever you booked with.

 

I am going to wait til I am on board & see what the weather looks like.

 

Steve

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I did check with our travel agent regarding booking tours for the cruise. Apparently it is not possible to book in advance. All shore excursions can only be booked once on board.

 

I am surprised about receiving documents for the cruise only a week prior to sailing. We will already be in Cuba a week prior to our sailing date as we are staying in Varadero and Havana for a total of 8 days before the cruise! I think I will have to contact my travel agent again and hope this isn't going to be a problem.

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We received our documents on Friday and we leave this coming 13th. I think it's because it's a new destination for sc - they seem to be partnering with virgin so in effe t we are dealing with 2 agents when you factor in our travel agent.

 

 

 

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.... - they seem to be partnering with virgin so in effe t we are dealing with 2 agents when you factor in our travel agent.

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

 

I am also using a travel agent to get to Exclusive tours to get to star clippers/

 

You are in the UK I am in Canada, where is CKCRUISE.

Pehaps location has something to do with the delay. As does the little fanny pack that came with my documents. It was all couriered to my agent.

 

Steve

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I am in western Canada. I am going to get in touch with my travel agent today and confirm we will receive our documents before we leave for Cuba on Mar. 1. Our sailing date is Mar. 9. Better to be safe than sorry. Hope you have safe travels and a great time on your cruise and hope you come back and post your thoughts and any advice on your return.

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I leave home on Friday to the Iberostar Parque Central hotel, Havana which was supposed to be the pick-up hotel for the cruise. That's changed - Going to have to make my way to the Melia Cohiba Hotel for pick-up now.

 

Steve

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Hi

 

We are booked on the Cuba trip next January. Would love to hear from you all how this years cruise went? Any tips on where to stay before and after, transfers and excursions, hope it was good!

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On board at mo think they'll be tweaking the itinerary as star flyer ran aground off pto casilda and had to be dragged off sand bar by tug !

 

 

 

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Just back from an 'interesting' cruise on the Star Flyer - 16 - 23 Feb.

 

The ride across Cuba was not what I expected as it is almost completely flat, but it is interesting to me to see anyway. We made a five minute stop in Cien Fuegos before the close to hour long embarkation process. Good job it was not raining.

 

First stop was Cayo Blanco - billed as an idyllic, white sand island, we did not get ashore. I heard that it was too shallow to land, others heard it was too rocky. From the ship, It did not look too scenic to me. Some people circumnavigated the island & went snorkelling & one fish sighting was reported. As in - only one fish. Some swam to a float bed a little way from the ship.

Next stop was Casilda where we grounded trying to dock & had to go back out to sea to turn around to make a second attempt which was successful. Many made the excursion into Trinidad with mixed reports. I walked into the small town of Casilda & had a hard time spending 50 cents for two coffees and a juice. A no alcohol, Bucanneero beer was tasty at 2 Cuc.

Half hour or so after leaving Casilda we grounded again on a sand bar & had a 19 hour wait for a tug to get us off. Divers went down to ensure there was no dangerous damage to the ship. The pilot was said to be in tears.

We skipped Cayman Brac & headed to Grand Cayman where we tied up right downtown while the other 5 cruise ships had to tender ashore. It was a bit crowded.

Next up was Cayo Largo, also billed as an idyllic, white sand island & it is. Lovely, strangely cool sand. Impossibly blue water. The 50 minute ride to the island was no fun but it was only 30 minutes to get back. Allowing two hours at the island.

The scheduled cruise though an archipelago was canceled, as was water activity but the mast climbing went ahead.

 

& so back to shore & the fairly easy disemabarkation & the drive back to Havana. Cien Fuegos looked like a nice place to spend some time but we sped right through.

 

It sounds like a bit of a nightmare & a lot of people were very upset. Organisation & communication were certainly lacking but I quite enjoyed myself as I had no great expectations in the first place.

 

However, I was disappointed in that we never sailed solely with sails & I never got to see all the sails set.

 

Food was 99% excellent but the evening meal was so noisy & I could not hear anything said two people over. Lunch was much quieter & more enjoyable

 

My cabin was right aft & incredibly noisy. It did feel very nautical being a bunk bed but without the lower bed. I could touch the ceiling & the fan was only 2 feet from my face. It could be turned down but not off. Any more than seven days would not have been tolerable - but at $400 a night!! & they expect tips on top of that.

 

The ship felt very crowded, with too many plastic sun lounges but not enough for the people who insist in reserving them for hours while they are not using them. Some even went to the extreme of taking two, one in the sun & one in the shade.

For 400 dollars canadian per day I expect to at least get a sun lounger when I want one.

 

and only half a day ashore in Cuba, plus a few hours makes the 'Cuba' part of the itinerary meaningless.

 

It was not a true sailing experience for me & as that was what I wanted I would not do it again but Cuba based on the 2 days that I saw in Havana would make it worth another visit.

Some sails were often up but for show.

 

Maybe they can iron out some of the kinks before doing that itinerary again & I wish everyone well who are going to do that. They must do something right, sometimes, as the repeat passengers were in the majority but i guess they were not in cabin 139. A good thing too as it would have been standing room only.

Edited by has been

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Rumour has it that we sailed to the wrong island - see here what Cayo Blanco looks like - just like SC brochure description - the rocky outcrop that we anchored off bore no resemblance and from where we snorkeled we could see what looked like a tiny beach!

 

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cayo+blanco+cuba&espv=210&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=i9EMU-CTBMjD7AaIo4GwDw&ved=0CC8QsAQ&biw=1297&bih=729

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Just back from an 'interesting' cruise on the Star Flyer - 16 - 23 Feb.

 

d.

 

"& so back to shore & the fairly easy disemabarkation & the drive back to Havana. "

 

Hasbeen you were lucky to get away! 24 of us were stranded for a further 4 and a half hours at Cienfuegos port as our taxis did not show up. The Virgin rep organised a coach which took some doing.

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Hello

 

I think that must be Cayo Blanco on the north of Cuba, near Varadero, whereas, according to my camera's GPS, we were indeed near Cayo Blanco off the south coast.

 

An easy mistake for Star Cllppers head office to make, isn't it. No reply needed.

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Just back from an 'interesting' cruise on the Star Flyer - 16 - 23 Feb.

 

d.

 

"& so back to shore & the fairly easy disemabarkation & the drive back to Havana. "

 

Hasbeen you were lucky to get away! 24 of us were stranded for a further 4 and a half hours at Cienfuegos port as our taxis did not show up. The Virgin rep organised a coach which took some doing.

 

I wonder how many repeat passengers they will get from this cruise & I want to hear what people say about the cruise after ours too. Can it possibly be any worse.

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Booked January 2015 on this cruise. Now really worried. Have paid a deposit so it won t be easy if we decide to cancel. Anyone else got views on this cruise?

 

We did not expect Cuba to be smart and touristy, that's why we want to see it now. However don't want to pay for a cruise to nowhere as well.

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Booked January 2015 on this cruise. Now really worried. Have paid a deposit so it won t be easy if we decide to cancel. Anyone else got views on this cruise?

 

We did not expect Cuba to be smart and touristy, that's why we want to see it now. However don't want to pay for a cruise to nowhere as well.

 

When I booked this cruise I was blinkered to everything except the sailing ship. I did not even register that fact that two stops were not even in Cuba at all, but in the Cayman Islands. I did expect some shore time in Cien Fuegos but only stopped in a square for 5 minutes. An earlier transfer from Havana. 9 instead of 12 noon would have helped but I do not know what I would have done with my luggage while walking around.

 

Also bear in mind that, cayo Largo for instance, they said we would be there til 10 at night but did not mention we had to be on board before dark.

 

So - if you take away all the bad stuff on the cruise, there is not much of Cuba in it. Casilda for Trinidad & two beaches. I am sure SC will substitute something for the the Cayo Blanco but guess it will be more beach stuff.

 

Personally, I do not think it is the right cruise for seeing Cuba, but a nice excuse all the same. The little I saw of it Cuba, was definitely not smart & outside the tourist resorts & Havana, not touristy. More locals travel by horse drawn vehicles, than any where else I have been. I expected a few old American cars for the tourists but they area all over the place. A local told me Havana is a museum. I doubt it will become smart & touristy any time soon, even if the Americans turn up. They already have Puerto Rico & I don't consider it either of those.

If I were to return I would consider a homestay. Not so much for their cheapness but to get close to Cuba.

I hope all this does not put you off going to Cuba - they could do with some of your cash. About 20 dollars a month is what a teacher told me she makes.

Edited by has been

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Thanks for coming back and reporting on your experience on the Cuba cruise with Star Flyer. We embark on March 9 and I am hoping we have a better experience than yours which sounds like a very disappointing one! I have definitely lowered my expectations accordingly. It is funny because I debated the Star Clipper's itinerary with "My Cuba Cruise" on the Louis Cristal and opted for Star Clippers as they are an established company and we were interested in the sailing experience. Louis Cristal is a new venture by a Canadian company (Alberta actually) that has just begun operations this year. Their cruise circumnavigates Cuba and is for the most part getting good reviews and the prices were much lower as well. Sounds like I made the wrong decision!! Anyway, I am hoping they have a few of the issues worked out prior to our week onboard. Running aground twice and a 19 hour wait for a tug - that doesn't sound like much fun!! I will report back after our return and let everyone know how it goes.

By the way, I have a couple of questions:

 

What time was dinner on the day of embarkation?

 

When you did manage to get off the ship, did they use zodiacs or tenders?

 

Did you happen to notice if there were taxis by the port in Caslida?

 

How was the Iberostar Parque Central in Havana? We are also staying there. Would you recommend any restaurants in Havana?

 

We were hoping to do some snorkeling and planning on packing our own equipment - not sure if we will need it now although I have read there is some snorkeling in Caslida.

 

Thanks again for the review of the cruise. We leave for Cuba on Saturday so I doubt we will see anymore feedback until after our return.

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.....

By the way, I have a couple of questions:

 

What time was dinner on the day of embarkation?

 

Around 7:00 pm if memory serves. Not enough tine between getting on board, dinner & sailing to get off and see Cien Fuegos.

 

When you did manage to get off the ship, did they use zodiacs or tenders?

 

Casilda = just walked off.

Cayo Largo = most by tender but a few tail enders by Zodiac. We were not allowed back by Zodiac.

Grand cayman = walked off.

 

Did you happen to notice if there were taxis by the port in Caslida?

 

Yes there were but whether that can be relied upon I do not know.

 

How was the Iberostar Parque Central in Havana? We are also staying there.

 

Great but not if you do not like smoke. Room was clean, comfortable & quiet.

 

Ask the concierge if the Water ballet will be performed while you are there. Excellent & free - not even a hat passed round.

 

Great music in the colonial side

 

A note - I asked at the airport info desk the taxi fare to Parque Central = 25.00 Cuc. I neglected to confirm that with the driver & he charged me 40 Cuc. He would have got 30 so the extra ten was not worth arguing over.

 

Would you recommend any restaurants in Havana?

 

I only ate snacks outside the hotel. The hotel chicken was terrible. Their beef sandwich was good but too expensive. Their Breakfast was very good.

My flight to Toronto was too early for breakfast, or so I thought. Check when they can give you breakfast.

 

A rum costs about 5 Cuc. About the same as a bottle in a supermarket.

 

We were hoping to do some snorkeling and planning on packing our own equipment - not sure if we will need it now although I have read there is some snorkeling in Caslida.

 

The ship provides snorkelling stuff.

 

....

 

steve

Edited by has been

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