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nansi

Quick review of Celeystal Cuba 11/25/16 cruise

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Nansi,

 

I just finished reading your full review. It was very informative and jam packed with stuff we all need to know. I'm a little distressed about the theatre being so badly laid out so I guess I'll have to go down early to get a half decent seat.

 

Thanks again for all of your work on this.

 

Wishing you all the best in the holiday season.

 

Calm seas, blues skies and many, many more miles of sea - Shar

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Nansi,

 

I just finished reading your full review. It was very informative and jam packed with stuff we all need to know. I'm a little distressed about the theatre being so badly laid out so I guess I'll have to go down early to get a half decent seat.

 

Thanks again for all of your work on this.

 

Wishing you all the best in the holiday season.

 

Calm seas, blues skies and many, many more miles of sea - Shar

 

My pleasure! Happy Holidays to you as well :)

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Thanks for the additional info, nansi. It was comforting to see that at the end of your full review you mentioned you'd consider going on this ship again, despite some of it's drawbacks.

 

I phoned the cruise co. yesterday and asked about plans to adjust the itinerary since it no longer goes to Punta Frances. I was told that they are "waiting" to see what happens and are hoping things will get worked out with the Cuban govt. so the ship can start going there again. The agent said she had not heard anything about the D.R. closing that week. I really believe that the agent was just as much in the dark about things as the passengers with regard to itinerary changes, etc. At any rate, forewarned is forearmed I guess!

 

Thanks again!

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Thanks for all the information and your review Nancy :)

 

Can you tell me what currency they use on board? Can you change money on board at all? And did you use the laundry service, and if so, how much was it.

 

Thanks in advance :)

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Can you tell me what currency they use on board? Can you change money on board at all? And did you use the laundry service, and if so, how much was it.

 

Thanks in advance :)

 

You don't use any money onboard. You get a (ID) card which serves as your room key as well as your "charge card" which you use whenever you buy something on the ship. At the end of your trip you get an itemized bill which can be paid with a CC or cash.

 

No money exchange on the ship, however at every port there was a place to exchange into CUC's. It was surprisingly easy and quick. At the last port in Cuba, you can exchange back into your home currency.

 

We didn't use laundry, but I believe it was a bag full of clothes for 20 something USD.

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Thanks Nancy. I probably should have said what currrency do they bill you in, but it doesn't really matter.

 

Laundry sounds like a good deal, we have tours before and after the cruise so that will definitely come in handy!

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I was told that the onboard account is in $USD which is not a happy deal for me. Also, although it is an easy thing to exchange money for CUC, they do charge an extra 10% on USD. This info comes from my TA who has travelled recently with them.

 

Shar

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Nansi, if you don't mind answering another question: How was the tipping handled on board? Was there suggested amounts per crew member per day? Did most people tip in cash or were the gratuities added to your shipboard account? Please mention anything regarding tipping that you can think of.

I'm not sure this is handled in the exact same way it is on the large, mainstream cruise lines that operate out of the U.S. but it's probably similar in most respects.

Edited by mlbcruiser

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Nansi, if you don't mind answering another question: How was the tipping handled on board? Was there suggested amounts per crew member per day? Did most people tip in cash or were the gratuities added to your shipboard account? Please mention anything regarding tipping that you can think of.

I'm not sure this is handled in the exact same way it is on the large, mainstream cruise lines that operate out of the U.S. but it's probably similar in most respects.

 

Our tips were included in the cost of the cruise. However we did tip extra to our cabin stewards and some of the dining room staff when the service was exceptional. You might call Celestyal and ask what is customary and if it's added to your account.

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Can you tell me what currency they use on board? Can you change money on board at all?

 

I was told that the onboard account is in $USD which is not a happy deal for me. Also, although it is an easy thing to exchange money for CUC, they do charge an extra 10% on USD.

 

According to an information sheet I´ve just received the onboard currency is USD. And there is no currency exchange onboard. We (German) are advised to bring Euros to exchange them for CUC as there will be an extra free for changing USD into CUC.

 

So maybe Canadians should bring Canadian dollars and exchange them for CUC.

 

steamboats

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I'd like to add my thanks for the trip review. You included lots of helpful information. We are looking forward to our March 10 sailing!

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Thanks for your response Steamboats :)

 

Jalynn, my sister and I are sailing from Havana on the 13th of March, so we will have a few days on the same sailing.

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Hello - I just got back form my cruise and I have to say that Nansi's review was pretty spot on but thought I'd add a few things form a Canadian perspective.

 

I travelled a s solo on a cruise/air deal from Air Canada - $1600. CDN that included transfers, tips, drinks package and a very decent inside cabin, cat 1C on the 4th deck middle. I flew in /out of Montego Bay so lost that day's tours but had 2 full days in Havana. Punta Francis was dropped by the Cuban government citing ecological concerns.

 

All of the service staff with the notable exception of the front desk and the shore team were wonderful - front desk while efficient were sullen and the shore team was not organized, ill informed and could not answer basic questions at times.

 

The included tours for the US citizens were generally more interesting and included more cultural aspects than the included Canadian ones, ie trips to galleries, schools and in Havana were longer, all day instead of half day.

 

A health note - after having had Norwalk once and later being on a ship that sailed under a full code red, I'm very conscious of lack of care taken in the dining room. While everything was cleaned quickly, the cutlery in the buffet area was just in bins to grab as you needed. I got in the habit of carrying antibacterial wipes to clean my stuff. The area dispensers were wall hung and not easily found.

 

Money exchange - 1CUC = 1.35 CDN or .93 US as of Jan. 20.

 

Would I recommend the trip no matter which side of the 49th you live - yes.

 

Shar

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Thank you nansi, for the tipping reply. I did ask about tipping when I called to make final payment a while back, but the reply was vague and didn't help much. I figured we'd do the usual and tip towards the end of the cruise, assuming we got good service. I'm especially wondering about tipping for drinks, though. The fare includes the drink package for Americans. Since I imagine the drinks will be served by different bartenders or drink wait staff, I wonder how to handle that? At an all inclusive, it's usually a tip for each drink, or else a larger tip after getting several drinks from the same bar or waiter. However, when someone purchases a drink pkg on a mainstream line, the price is supposed to include the 15% gratuity. If drinks are purchased one at a time, 15% is added to the cost of the drink when it is brought.

 

Thanks for posting more information, Shar. Every little bit helps!

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Each wait person has a hand held reader that scans your card with your drink order. I think someone asked and each reader is linked to the individual staff member which would tie them to the tipping that way.

 

I did tip one of the ladies because she was just amazing and I always seemed to time my morning cappuccinos to her. I had the blue package which covered everything I needed - coffee, cocktails and wine at dinner.

 

Shar

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So Char, I don't quite understand how the scanner gets connected to the tip, assuming someone gives the waiter/waitress a cash tip at the time the drink is delivered. (Or is there some way you can add your tips to your onboard account and basically tip at the end of the cruise and it gets divided between those who wait on you? One reason I'm asking that is that someone posted that if you want to tip someone, you should be sure to hand it to them very descretely by palming it. Whoever it was said that it is because staff is supposed to turn in tips and this way they don't have to.

 

I also wonder if it makes any difference what currency we tip in - ?

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My tips were included in the travel package. If it follows industry standards, Celestyal adds 15% on all drink orders for a tip. Since the servers sign onto the handheld with their unique staff number, all orders & associated tips would be assigned to them ( in a perfect scenario.) Most folks were on a tips included package so if they tipped it was in US funds. I did use my leftover CUCs for my cabin stewards.

 

I don't know if they have to share tips. Unlike other ship dining rooms, I did not have to give them my cabin number so not sure how the wait staff there gets their share.

 

Shar

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Thank you, Shar. I am thinking that since you are Canadian, your cruise pkg. was probably a bit different than our's, but I don't know for sure. Maybe you had choices about which type of pkg. you wanted -? Being American, we didn't. Our People to People pkg. cruise includes the blue beverage pkg. and the tours, but nothing at all is mentioned about tips being included. I am fine w/the tips not being included because then I know where I stand. We have been on many cruises and I don't begrudge the tips as the people who have served us have pretty much always deserved their tips. However, so often when tips are included, people tend to tip anyway! Years ago Holland America was famous for their "no tipping" policy. While it looked like a simple thing and a plus w/regard to sailing with them, people we knew who went on that line said everyone mostly tipped despite that. (The American pax, anyway.) I remember one couple telling us that they felt social pressure to tip once they were on their cruise because it seemed like everyone else did.

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If you made your reservation at yourcubacruise.com, "Prepaid Gratuities" should have been one of the inclusions under the "Onboard" heading. My e-ticket doesn't show the gratuities inclusion; I took a screen capture during the reservation process that showed all inclusions. I would attach the image to this message if I knew how. You can begin a new reservation using Celestyal's <Book Now> button to see the inclusions.

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I booked directly thru the website and my did say prepaid gratuities as well as the blue drink and included tours. That being said if someone goes above and beyond I will tip but not otherwise. When I traveled in Europe tipping was a big no no in some places and was actually frowned upon.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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I did begin a fake booking and eventually did find the section mentioning the free gratuities. Good to be aware of that. I'm sure we'll weigh the service and make sure to reward those we feel deserve something extra. Thanks for pointing that info. out as I had not noticed that - or it probably just didn't register at the time. (Another example of the help that can be found on this website!) Thank you fellow cruisers!

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FYI about on shore -

 

Since I'm Canadian I try to avoid using USD because of the exchange so I bought CUC with our $ only to have the transaction based on USD anyway. The on shore tour guides and drivers were some of the best I've ever had anywhere so while I used CUCs to tip them, I'm sure they would appreciate USD or euros instead.

 

Shar

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FYI about on shore -

 

Since I'm Canadian I try to avoid using USD because of the exchange so I bought CUC with our $ only to have the transaction based on USD anyway. The on shore tour guides and drivers were some of the best I've ever had anywhere so while I used CUCs to tip them, I'm sure they would appreciate USD or euros instead.

 

Shar

 

But then they would have to go to the bank and queue up to exchange them (I've heard the queues are very long), pay the exchange fee of 3% or whatever, and if you give them USD there is an extra 10% surcharge on the exchange for USD only.

 

Better to tip with the local money so they don't have the hassle.

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This came up in conversation with someone I know who is going later in the year and may be of some interest - you have to carry your passport on you at all times while on shore so you may want to get a protective cover for it to avoid scans etc.

 

Also - my bathroom did not have face cloths so you might want to pack a couple.

 

Shar

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Shar, can you recall which night the Capt's. Gala formal dinner was held?

 

Also, I am sure many people enjoyed going to restaurants in Havana at night. Sometimes when on other cruises where we were able to spend time in the evening on land, it has seemed that some of the best dinners were served those nights! Just my luck. :( Of course I know the Capt's. dinner won't be when we are in port. Just curious as to which night it will be.

 

One more thing, for those of you who did the People to People tours for Americans, which included tour would you say was the least interesting. (In our case, I don't think we're all that thrilled with spending time looking at statues of political figures, etc.) Just wondering what others thought of what they saw. Also, I know there is mention of Hotel Nacionale and it's probably simply a drive by view of it. Anyone recall that and did you get to go in? (In photos I've seen many, many photos hanging inside of well known performers and political celebrities and such. Looks interesting.)

Thanks for any input on what you thought about the tours and if some were more so-so or even boring?

Edited by mlbcruiser

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