Trip report Caribbean Culture trip 5/7

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#1
Near Tampa, Florida
3,415 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
I'll be bouncing around a bit, using my thoughts from during and after cruise. Hope you enjoy!

Arrived at 11:50, filled out health questionnaire, assigned to a Group and boarded at 1:15.
We had received a complimentary upgrade to an aft cabin,A-90 and previously read that this cabin had problems being extremely hot with some soot on balcony, etc. For the first 3 days it actually was chilly, but rather than calling someone to fix it, we dealt with it since we weren't in the cabin much. On the 4th day, we called and had the thermostat adjusted. All fine. On the 5th day the room became stifling hot so we had to call to have the thermostat adjusted again. The temperature was fine. No soot. Plenty of storage. Small shower.

Requested robes and were told they were only for suites. Requested a blanket and sheet since the duvet was too heavy....no problem with that.

Refrigerator kept things colder than most on other ships.

Loved the ship's decor, friendly staff, entertainment anddaytime activities. We usually cruise onlarger ships and there were only 500+ people onboard the Fathom. Liked being able to easily take the steps towalk everywhere. No lines either.

We usually always eat in the dining room. However, seeing that the food was the sameand not having the usual hustle/bustle of the large ships’ buffets, we chose toeat outside most evenings. Delightful.

Enjoyed most of the food except for the pizza...just awful. Loved the Lido Grill's burger selection also. At embarkation we signed up to dine the second night in the Ocean Grill. Received a 30% discount. Thought the food was very good. Excellent service.

Drink prices were average for a cruise ship with glasses of wine for $6.75, martini $9.95 although small. No drink packages on this ship.

There were so many enrichment courses, cohort groups,dancing, etc. that we felt we didn't have time to do everything we wanted.Signed up for the wine/paint party for Friday night and received a phone call ten minutes before the class that there was a mistake and class would not beheld that night.

The gym was small with yoga, spin classes, etc. for a fee.

Attended a talk on Cuban history that was wonderful. Also met with our assigned Cohort group led by Colin three times during the cruise. These was informative, inspirational and fun.

Trivia was held most nights in Anderson's bar where we met William, a fabulous bartender and great guy.

The Cuban pool band and Craze band were excellent. However, the lounges were sometimes extremely cold.

Coming into Santiago Cuba, we saw some odd sights including people paddling on tire tubes with their arms as if they were oars. The view into Santiago was amazingly beautiful on one side and had lots of smokestacks and refineries on the other side. People were on their roofs waving to us.


Took the El Morro tour in Santiago with Maria as our guide. She knew several languages and spoke good English. I was touched when she told me that now that people can own their own homes in Cuba, she finally got a house with her name on the deed. She said the best part was that it had gates on the front of it so she could open the windows and get "air". It was 105 degrees in the daytime. Made me really feel grateful for all we have.

The road up to the El Morro fort was quite uneven, long and hot. Well worth the trip though. The views and dungeons were fabulous.

Were taken to San Juan Hill and then to locals' home which is used as a restaurant. Sat on the open porch and enjoyed a fabulous family style buffet of shrimp, pork, chicken and beef with red beans/rice, an appetizer, dessert and one drink...Great service. Very hot in the inside part of their home where some people ate.

Then we were taking to the Catumba (sp?) dance hall where we enjoyed a great performance by the Santiago dancers and danced with them as well.

Headed to the main square to look around and shop. There were numerous people asking for moneyfor food. Very sad. They weren't at all pushy though as is thecase in other islands.

We wanted to pick up some Cuban t-shirts for the kids and a Cuban baseball cap. Had to search hard to finally find a cap. No t-shirts. Not much shopping in general except for Cuban owned cigars and rum. We had cashed in our $200 US dollars for Cuban CUC's when we entered the port. Received 87 cents for a US Dollar. Bought some jewelry and a few souvenirs from local vendors when we returned to port. Converted lots of our money back into dollars (had to pay another 3% to do so). Most of the CUC's were used for tipping the guide, dancers, street people, bus driver, etc.

Once we hit Santiago it seemed that there were flies allover the ship. They lessened as the cruise went on.

Got some great photos of the moon over the wake of our aft cabin, sunrises and sunsets.

Ran into a girl on the ship who was in the final selection to visit Mars (Mars One project)...interesting.

The two impact activities we did, Rapapel (papermaking) and the Chocolate making/planting cocoa seeds group were wonderful. I'll never forget the friendliness of the women who worked there. At one point we took a turn rubbing a recycled deodorant bottle bottom on paper to remove the wrinkles. It was very hard work in a hot atmosphere. I did this for about 15 minutes and it was difficult. Through an interpreter I asked a woman which "position" in the paper factory she preferred, thinking it would be something easier than using lots of elbow grease to remove the wrinkles. She told me she removed the wrinkles all day and that's what she preferred.

Went to the local restaurant in Amber Cove the first night we arrived. Had a good dinner (extra $) and drinks. Good service and a fabulous show with Carnevale masks, drum circle children, etc.

Also did a Dominican Fiesta dinner from 7:30 - 11:30 which included a small tour of Puerta Plata as well. Another great buffet with unlimited drinks including on the tour bus. Friendly people, dancing and a good show.

Had a scare with announcement of Man Overboard...Turned out it was a portion of seaweed and a whitecap, but it was amazing how the ship circled an area and using its navigational aids, found this patch of seaweed which had been reported by a passenger as a person.

Two nights I was awakened by a phone call stating "A fire alarm has sounded on your deck, head to your muster station"...The first night within a minute after this phone call the captain called and said it was a false alarm. The last night the phone call occurred twice with no follow up call from the captain. I called to the night phone number and was told it was an error.

The traffic on the Puerta Plata roads was crazy with motorbikes and cars cutting in and out and no one paying attention to the center lines.

We were disappointed to find that the Sky Bar at Amber Cove was closed at 5pm. We had planned on having a drink there before dinner, but couldn't. Amber Cove was very pretty with plenty of pool chairs. Prices for items cheaper at the Crew Store near the children’s section.

Most of the stores weren't open or closed early on the day we departed Amber Cove at noon. The shopping we did the day before departure was good with lots of variety and decent prices.

There was a fight when we tried to walk off with our luggage on debarkation day. Apparently someone wanted to cut into the long line to get off fast. Security had to be called. The line wrapped all around the Promenade Deck 5.

I am sorry that the Fathom Adonia will be returning to P&O and Southhampton. It is a great size ship with lots to do. I'll never forget the people we met and sights we saw in Santiago, Cuba and the Puerta Plata areas.
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Most of my reviews: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...mberName=tbmrt
9/16/17 MSC Divina
5/7/17 Fathom Adonia
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12/12/14 Celebrity Equinox
5/19/14 Caribbean Princess
12/10/13 MSC Divina
12/13/12 Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas
12/14/11 NCL Dawn
12/03/10 NCL Sky
10/16/10 NCL Sun
06/05/10 Bahamas Celebration
12/04/09 NCL Sky Bahamas
11/30/09 Royal Caribbean Majesty Bahamas
11/29/09 NCL DAWN WAS CANCELLED!
12/08/08 Celebrity Solstice Eastern Caribbean
12/07/07 Carnival Legend Western Caribbean
#2
299 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Thanks for sharing your experience. We are sailing on Fathom this Sunday on the final DR sailing. We loved Fathom when we sailed in January and we are so sad to see it end.
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2/17/18 Celebrity Equinox
11/27/17 NCL JADE
11/11/17 NCL Escape
5/21/17 Fathom Adonia
4/8/17 Celebrity Summit. So.Caribbean
1/25/17 - NCL Pearl
1/1/17 - Fathom Impact cruise Dominican Republic
10/1/16 - RCL Vision of the Seas Greece/Turkey/Croatia
2/14/16 NCL Getaway Western Caribbean
1/18/16 Celebrity Constellation
12/17/15 Celebrity Constellation
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Celebrity Constellation 1/15
HAL Westerdam Alaska 6/28/14
RCL Independence of the Seas 4/12/14
RCL Liberty of the Seas 2/15/14
Celebrity Constellation 12/14/13
Star Princess Alaska 9/13
NCL Epic 2/16/13
RCL Majesty of the Seas 1/14/13
NCL EPIC 4/7/12
RCL LIBERTY OF THE SEAS 1/12/12
RCL NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS 1/11
RCL VOYAGER OF THE SEAS 10/11 Med. Italy
RCL NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS 1/10
HAL WESTERDAM 2/10
NCL SKY 1/9
HAL WESTERDAM 4/9
CELEBRITY CENTURY 1/8
CARNIVAL LIBERTY 4/8
RCL Sov. of the Seas 2/7
RCL SOV. OF THE SEAS 1/7
CARNIVAL TRIUMPH 2/7
CARNIVAL MARDI GRAS 1993
Carnival Mardi Gras '92
Big Red Boat 1/88
Big Red Boat 12/89
CARNIVAL JUBILEE 1/87