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apuleius

Anyone going to Cuba?

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I was so worried, as I was about to book airtravel, that I e-mailed Star Clipper in Monaco for confirmation that they would stick to Cuba as per itinerary.

 

I was surprised to get a reply almost by return. They admit to difficulties on the first cruise, but have a new landing point in Casilda, and this weeks cruise is going according to plan with everyone happy!

 

ckcruise, do report back. Hopefully all will be ironed out!

 

We love the Clippers, this will be our 3rd cruise. We anticipate Cuba being pretty basic, but look forward to the luxury on board. The ship does sail when it can, but has to have engines going to provide full electricity for the 'hotel' which we all enjoy! We have a sailing boat so we know the problems when just under sail! No dinner, no lights, no air-con would not be much fun!

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'Has been' enjoyed your photos and blog but what your report doesn't fully capture is the fact that the mishaps all occurred because star clippers failed to plan properly and used the first cruise to test the route with paying passengers as Guinea pigs. Unacceptable in my book.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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...... I e-mailed Star Clipper in Monaco for confirmation that they would stick to Cuba as per itinerary.

 

..... They admit to difficulties on the first cruise, but have a new landing point in Casilda, and this weeks cruise is going according to plan with everyone happy!

 

.....

 

Did they mention what they will do at Cayo Blanco?

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According to the revised schedule I caught sight of on board, this day is now 'at sea'. Still not much of cuba then!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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Thanks, has been, for answering my questions. Appreciate it. I have one more - what were the electrical outlets like in the Iberostar Parque Central? I know they are 220V but are they round prong? with 2 prongs or do they also have a grounding prong? Thanks. I have been trying to find this out with no luck.

 

I very much enjoyed your blog and viewing your photos. It seems that you went with a good attitude and made the best of everything and ended up enjoying your experience despite the difficulties.

 

Apuleius, I completely understand why you would not be happy with this cruise. Star Clippers failed to deliver what was promised and it seems that there definitely was a lack of planning and some disorganization. Given what happened, the situation could also have been much worse. In their defense, I have read that infrastructure in Cuba is not yet up to par for cruise ship traffic. Not sure if this played any part or not? Have you complained to Star Clippers or are you planning on filing a complaint? If so, it will be interesting to see what comes of that.

 

I am not happy to hear that we will likely have an extra sea day. We have travelled on smaller ships before, Windstar, and one sea day is great to relax and enjoy the ship but 2 in my opinion would be too many. And Windstar ships, even the smaller Windspirit and Windstar are bigger than the Star Flyer with about the same number of passengers. Too bad they could not find another island to stop at. I know one of their cruises goes to Isla de la Juventud and one would wonder why that could not be substituted.

 

Btw, Apuleius, what did you do at the Port of Caslida? Did you do the ship's tour?

 

Again, thanks very much for the input.

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..... I have one more - what were the electrical outlets like in the Iberostar Parque Central? I know they are 220V but are they round prong? with 2 prongs or do they also have a grounding prong? ..

 

....

 

Hmmmm! Did I recharge my camera battery or not? I think I may have done, in which case, it is the two flat prongs we use in Canada, no earth.

 

Cayo Blanco was definitely down to Star Clippers not Cuba. No one could have been there to reccee the place. Their description is of another island.

 

Grounding in Casilda harbour - my feeling this was not Cuba either. Poor planning and or bad seamanship.

 

Grounding outside Casilda - we were in a marked channel with a Cuban pilot on board so I would say that is down to the Cubans. But again no reccee & we did manage to get in in the first place.

 

Not going through the Archeapelego - Again not Cuba.

 

Just my thoughts. We did have an ex uk ships pilot on board & he was non- comital on fault to me.

 

ps - I find it helpful when posters add their location to their profile.

Edited by has been

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Thanks for the information on the electrical outlets at the Parque Central. We currently have the European 2 pin round prong adapter so I will pick up the flat prong as well.

 

Sounds like most of the problems were definitely the fault of Star Clippers. I am sure they will receive complaints about this cruise. Of course, there is always the clause in their contract to fall back on which basically states that the itinerary may need to be altered according to the situation. However, grounding twice is a different story! It would be interesting to see how they handle any complaints. Given the slowness of this board, we may never know!

 

I have added my location to my profile. Thanks for the heads up!!

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Your photography is gorgeous ! Thanks for sharing it!

 

THANKS - IT'S THE CAMERA...BUT IF YOU ONLY LOOKED AT THE CUBA ONES YOU MIGHT LIKE THE REST OF THE BLOGO.

 

GO TO THE TABLE OF CONTENTS http://hasbeen.travellerspoint.com/toc/

 

& SCROLL DOWN TO 2005 & FROM THERE ONWARDS THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF PHOTOS.

 

MY FAVOURITE IS THE SAFARI http://hasbeen.travellerspoint.com/8/

 

STEVE

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ckcruise - re Casilda we did not take the ship's tour as we like to explore independently. There were taxis at the port as well as horse driven vehicles! We shared an old beaten up Lada with another couple, the driver waited for us and took us back to the ship a couple of hours later. Trinidad was absolutely wonderful and lived up to our expectations - a very colourful town full of beautifully preserved buildings in the historic centre.

However, I do not know what the availability of independent transport will be like from the new landing, which I believe is from the beach some distance from Casilda.

A number of passengers were very unhappy on this particular cruise and have voiced their concerns to SC. We await their reaction.

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A lady I spoke to, German maybe, who took the ships excursion did not like the pace of that tour. Too long here, not enough time here. Some parts very rushed. If I understood her coreectly, her shipboard account was adjusted to a lower figure after she complained on board.

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Thanks for the input on Trinidad. We also like to explore independently and I am really hoping there will be some taxi's etc at the new location. I guess we will have to wait and see. I am hoping we can see Trinidad and also have a bit of time at the beach.

It will be interesting to see if Star Clippers offers any compensation to passengers on the first cruise. I think they should and will be disappointed in them as a cruise line if they don't. Too many problems and seems like a lot of it was their fault!!

One more question: Did you find it easy to get money from ATM"s using your debit card (Cdn)in Cuba? How about using credit cards (Cdn).

Thanks, again. Doing my last minute packing now. Leave first thing in the morning. No matter what happens on this trip, I will be glad to get out of frigid Alberta!!

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... I am hoping we can see Trinidad and also have a bit of time at the beach.

....!

...

 

I don't recollect a beach there or anyone mentioning one.

 

......

....!

One more question: Did you find it easy to get money from ATM"s using your debit card (Cdn)in Cuba? How about using credit cards (Cdn).

....!

 

I did not use a debit or credit card in Cuba. I changed Canadian & US notes at Parque Central which does not use debit or credit for exchange. I did wiz through cash.

Remember you need to pay 25 CUP cash Havana airport tax after you get your boarding card.

 

There are banks & ATM's around. Ask at the desk.

 

Enjoy your trip & i want a full report on your return. Say hello to Ingrid from the guy with the red socks. I can't believe she noticed but she did.

 

Steve

Edited by has been

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Thanks, Steve. You have been very helpful. I promise to report back on our return and I will definitely say Hi to Ingrid from you.

 

Apuleius - just curious what you did in Grand Cayman?

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Yes it will be interesting to see if Star Clippers offer compensation. Holding my breath on this as they didnt even apologise. Nothing from the owner Michal Kraft. takes your money and cares less. Absolute shambles from start to finish.. Third trip with Star Clippers but I think my last..

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ckcruise re Grand Cayman - five large cruise ships were in port anchored out to sea so George Town was over run with American tourists which was not pleasant. The original tours were cancelled. Two new ones were hastily put in place. People who went to swim with the Sting Rays seemed happy; the alternative was transport and facilities at Tiki Beach - a private section of the famous 7 mile beach. However, again this was over run. Once the Americans went back to their ships it was very pleasant and there was good snorkelling to the offshore reef. However it was not worth Euro32 charged and many others just walked along the beach for nothing from the town. We asked about this and were advised by the cruise director that it was not possible! Grand Cayman is on the itinerary as it's where SC stock up with supplies.

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Our (patently, ut patet, wrong) belief was that we would visit this Cayo Blanco:

Cayo Blanco del Sur / Ernst Thälmann island, 22 degrees 01' N 81 degrees 22' W - a bit further east, 15km x 500m long strip, (from wikipedia) '...contains highly developed reef formations with a high degree of biodiversity and hosts a number of endangered species, including black coral and various ornamental reef fish species. It has extensive largely untouched beaches... is uninhabited, other than occasional tourists and the indigenous Cuban Iguanas and birds that have their habitat there', which would fit the description somewhat better than what we encountered. The tiny island you mark, apuleius, is, indeed, the outcrop alongside which we hove to - well within sight of Trinidad. Come to think of it, we were in sight of Trinidad for rather too, too long...

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I have just returned from the SC SF Cuba trip leaving 23rd Feb - 2nd Cuba cruise.

Yes the itinerary had been revised but ... a far from trouble free time.

Many passengers with transfers arranged by SC left Havana at 12 noon, and arrived at the Port at between 2pm and 2-30pm. Cienfuegos Port has no facilities. Stefi (Cruise Director) was there with forms for us to complete, and saying that boarding would begin at 4pm. half an hour later water and apple juice appeared. Carlos (hotel manager) appeared saying that we would be allowed on board but would have to remain in the Tropical Bar and check in would take place in the Library (?3-15pm) They were bending over backwards to try and solve the problem caused by the speedy early transfers arranged by their land agents.

The changed itinerary started with (Monday) a day at sea off Archipelago de los Canarreos. We did anchor and there was swimming from the gangway. Lovely clear water - however the depth did mean no fish to see snorkelling.

Tuesday - we anchored off Playa Ancon - and taxis were available to go to Trinidad. The charge was 5 CUC per person one way. Trinidad was fantastic - and the taxi drivers collected at a prearranged spot - at the required time (5 CUC for the return journey. I heard that the return trip fare with other drivers could be negotiated. Most passengers seemed happy with the beach or the trip to Trinidad - and only a short tender (dry ish landing). Passports had to be carried when on shore - ship ID was not satisfactory for the Cuban authorities. The tourist cards had to be surrendered here, and the purser wrote out the new tourist cards for each passenger for the return to cuba after Caymen.

Wednesday - We anchored off Cayman Brac - not the expected Little Caymen. There is very very little on Cayman Brac - several people did land. A short tender ride with a dry landing. We were anchored near a ship wreck - a Russian gun ship left in 1992, sold to Cayman and sunk to start a reef. a small amount of coral and very few fish to see when snorkelling. Kyaking, swimming and snorkelling available from the gangway - no water skiing. With so many people on board there were not enough sunbeds or shade, and these were fought over!

Thursday - George Town Grand Caymen. This day was as scheduled - we were moored at North Terminal. There were 3 Carnival ships at anchor - so George Town was quite crowded. I took the Catamaran trip to Stingray City. There were many stingrays at Stingray City, but also the majority of the passengers from the Carnival ships. We had been promised refreshments on board, a room to change in and snorkelling. These did not occur, and we were returned to the terminal one hour early at 12. Talking to a friend who lives on Cayman these things should have been provided - and the cost of the excursion was significantly higher than one available locally.

Friday - We anchored off Cayo Largo. The tender trip was 45mins to 1 hr each way. Sadly it was a stormy day with rain throughout. It was reported that the beach was excellent. Since there were local companies operating on the beach the ships water sport equipment was not able to be used. Many complained about the length of the tender ride. The local coast guard?pilot? did not allow us to sail that night to be closer to our next in Cayo Rico

Saturday - Cayo Rico - beach bbq. The transfer to Cayo Rico was over 1 hour each way. The first tender passengers were able to get sunbeds and shade. There was a shaded bar area with tables and plumbing. The crew did brilliantly with transferring the bbq etc. Sadly the depth of the water was ankle to knee deep so swimming and snorkelling was not an option. It was reported to me (but I have not first hand knowledge) someone got bitten by a rat at the bbq spot, and another person lost a shoe in quick sand along the beach. There was difficulty running aground on the return trip to the ship. The transfer from ship to beach was partly by tender than a local boat for the shallow water to a pier (dry landing).

Sunday - We had no problems with our transfer back to Havana - and I did not hear of the problems reported from the previous week.

All in all this was not the trip that I thought I had signed up for - The only town seen in Cuba was Trinidad (wonderful) and not many opportunities to swim and snorkel. With passengers having nowhere to go, there was stiff competition for sun beds and shade.

The crew worked extremely hard having to react to the daily problems - head office or the scouts did not do their job when planning this itinerary.

A major disappointment. many people were seasoned SC passengers, many disappointed with the itinerary and the shambles on board while wanting to remain loyal to SC.

SC must sort this trip out better to make it workable - I would be interested to hear the comments of others.

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Hi

 

A bit of news re the 16th feb sailing ----

 

I wrote to my travel agent (the report that you can see above), who wrote to Exclusive tours, who wrote to Star Clippers.

 

This is the response...

 

"Please see the reply that I got from Star Clippers in Monaco:

 

Thank you for your email advising us of your client’s concerns. Could you please kindly send your client an interim response stating:

 

We take their concerns very seriously; The Owner of Star Clippers, Mr Krafft, has flown to Cuba to complete the investigations with the officials in Cuba plus the Captain & Officers on Star Flyer. The matter will be discussed further with Mr Krafft after his return next week and then we can send our official response.

 

We understand that our valued clients and travel agencies are waiting for our reply and we thank them for their patience in the meantime.

 

It seems that the sailing that your client took was indeed problematic.''

Edited by has been

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