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Cuban Cruise Review - May 1st, 2017 - The very FIRST Norwegian sailing!!!

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Greetings all,

 

It’s been a long while since I wrote a review…However, with us sailing on the very first trip to Cuba with Norwegian, I figured we would be able to maybe help others with our experiences.

 

 

So, here goes – Please be kind.

 

If you have any questions along the way, I will attempt to answer these as best as I can. I make no promises that this review will be live, but I will attempt to update as often as I can.

 

 

Stay tuned...

 

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Excellent! Really looking forward to this. Came very close to booking it for May but opted for Bermuda. Have fun and drink a Cuba Libre for me!

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Quick catch up for everyone.

 

Shortly after the New Year for 2017, the DW and I made the decision to go on this sailing, right after the itinerary was first announced by Norwegian. At the time, we already had two other cruises booked with Norwegian, as we like to book way ahead and plan our trips well. This one was going to be very new and interesting for us as we did not have a lot of published Cuban experiences to learn from. We decided to let Norwegian take care of our visa for us ($75 per person) so we did not need to worry about running into any hassles with this. Further research later found that the visa would have cost us the same amount elsewhere, so we were glad to allow the cruise line to take charge of this, if only to ensure we did not mess it up ourselves.

 

As we are members of AAA, we were able to order Euros to convert into CUC (pronounced Kook). AAA did the transaction through Wells Fargo, not my favorite banking insitution, but the fee was very very low. The CUC$ is the Cuban currency used mainly by tourist and other visitors. It’s value is on par for the USD, but there is a 10% penalty for converting USD into CUC, so this is where the Euros come in. I did the math and figured out we would save a bit of money (and maybe a bit of hassle) using Euros. We will see how this goes when we get to Cuba.

 

Next we started planning where we wanted to visit while in Cuba. I could not locate good reliable maps of Havana, so I took to using Google Maps with their satellite overhead images and sought out our destinations. Those are to come later. With these images I was able to confidently plot out our routes and plan to use these in conduction with our driver and tour guide.

 

Stay tuned…

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Fast forward to the day of our trip! We left home for my in-law’s house on Saturday. The evening was spent in good company seeing friends and family. Sunday morning, bright and early found us getting ready for a car service o pick us up and bring us JFK. The driver was a little late, but he made good time getting us to where we needed to be. Check in and security went smooth as can be. The DW and I made a beeline to our favorite lounge called Airspace by JetBlue. We were able to get free access with a certain credit card we carry. Plus we were given a voucher for drinks or food if we wanted to get something. We each had two breakfast sandwiches a coffee for me, juice for her. The wait was enjoyable with plenty of chairs and space.

 

 

 

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Soon enough the flight was boarding so we made our way to the gate and onboard the plane. Our flight was mostly smooth sailing as we arrived to our destination of Fort Lauderdale Airport. Here are the DW and I showing our excitement for this trip!

 

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We are currently getting ready to land, so I will be signing off now...

 

Stay Tuned...

 

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Ohh I'm going to follow this one! Four weeks tomorrow until we're on this same trip :D

Edited by Yunah
Typo

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So excited for this review! Thanks for doing it. Please take pictures of all the dailies, I'm so curious what they'll change with an overnight in Havana. Enjoy!!

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There have been several threads asking about the visa/tourist card for Cuba. I assume you did not receive any paperwork ahead of sailing, right? When you receive the visa on board would you mind posting a photo of it (cover up your personal details if necessary)? Thanks!

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Thank you for doing this! I'm excited to follow along as a get ready for my turn on June 5th! Have fun!!!!

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Following. We are sailing on July 3. I am confused about visa. Is it included in final payment or on our onboard account? Where and when do we get the paperwork? Have fun and thanks!

 

 

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This is a first, reading a review of a cruise I am sailing on before we even board the ship. We now know what you look like so we will find you on the ship.

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Looking forward to your review. I will be boarding the Sky for Cuba in one week.

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Landing was uneventful – But the blast of warm air as we exited the plane and walked up the gangway took us by surprised. We knew it would be warmer, but this warm at 10:30 am?

Whew!

 

Getting our bags took quite a while as we were originally told on the aircraft when landing that they would be at carousel 5, but as the gangway opened, it was reported that they were at carousal 8…When we arrived to the baggage claim, it became a hunt to find the right carousal going back and forth with PA announcements saying the bags were here, no there, no here, no there…Bleh. After about 40 minutes of waiting our luggage showed up at carousal 8!

 

 

Upon exiting the terminal, we walked over the designated area for Uber pick ups at the arrivals section. I used my phone to find a driver, choosing an uberX car which turned out to be just big enough for us and our bags. The ride from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach took about 58 minutes and cost us $23.54. Not bad for a 30 mile trip!

 

 

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We choose to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Miami Beach hotel as we like their product an what they offer. The hotel was very nice and the rooms, while a bit on the small side function well for our pre-cruise stay.

(I've discovered that I don't know how to share my 360 camera images here as the photo from yesterday at the airport loudge should have been one you could move and vision all sides. I have a 360 image of the room, but am unsure how to post this here on CC. Anyone?)

 

 

 

We didn’t stay at the room too long though, as we were a bit peckish, and decided on Smith & Wollensky for lunch. Taking another uber, we choose this place for it’s location and situated where we sat, we were able to watch boats go in and out of the harbor, as well as watch jet skiers performing some risky moves. In all, the food was good but the best was the Blueberry Buckle which we’ve never seem on a menu south of down-easter Maine. It is a family favorite dish that my dad’s mother makes when the blueberries are in season…Yummy! The dish here at S &W was almost as good as Ma’s.

 

 

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We spent the time relaxing at the pier in South Point Park outside of the S &W restaurant watching the waves and doing a little people watching as well. Our intentions were to watch the Sunday cruise ships sail out of the harbor, but it was getting later and later, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a quick shower and nap. We did get to see a Carnival ship go by, the Carnival Vista. As you can see in the aft photo of the ship, my 360 camera is visable at the bottom also working to take shots – Anyone have ideas how to share these images?

 

 

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Upon returning to the hotel, we showered and napped a bit to make up for the early morning flight. Shortly afterwards it was time to go to dinner! We met up with a childhood girlfriend of my wife’s, along with her current BF. Our dinner restaurant was, Red The Steakhouse, and it was very good. Sorry folks, no pictures of the food there! The food was wonderful and the company lovely.

 

 

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After dinner we went back to the hotel to sleep and get ready for the next morning – Cruise Day!

 

 

 

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I have one question please we are having NCL do our Visa's as well. Were they mailed to you prior to your cruise or do you get them when you check in for your cruise at the port. We are not sailing until next April 2018, but following for all your photo's and information. Have fun and enjoy your cruise.

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Can someone post a sumary?

Sifting through pictures of planes and Uber receipts doesn't really help me.

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Can someone post a sumary?

Sifting through pictures of planes and Uber receipts doesn't really help me.

Be kind please. The 1st cruise leaves today. There is nothing to report just yet.

 

If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.

 

Thanks Shawnino. I hope you have a nice day.

 

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Can someone post a sumary?

Sifting through pictures of planes and Uber receipts doesn't really help me.

 

This is all pre-cruise information and photos. Ship sails later today.

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So happy you're posting this! We're going in September and can't wait to hear more about your trip. I'll see the Sky shove off this afternoon on the portcam. So excited y'all are on it. Have fun!! Bon Voyage!!! :D:D

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Monday morning we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel – The breakfast room was in the basement and offerings were pretty basic. We quickly ate and then left to get an uber to the port.

 

Once outside the hotel, I requested an uber and it was in front of us within moments – Not even a minute…Wow! The address we put into the app was ‘Port of Miami – South American Way’. The address on the app self corrected to where we needed to be and we got to our destination without a hitch .

 

 

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The Norwegian Sky was docked at Terminal C, and our driver dropped us off quickly. The porters were very helpful due to that we totally forgot to print our luggage tags which Norwegian sends with the edocs. The porter had tags which he was able to write in the cabin number and he sent us on our way towards the security line.

 

 

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We entered the line much later than we usually arrive to ports. It was 10:30 am when we entered the line and went relatively quickly – No issues with this at all.

 

 

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Once we entered the check in terminal, we saw a HUGE line of people snaking around the rope lines…Not my idea of starting vacation. Luckily, we are Platinum cruisers an we were able to get to the front of the line by finding the Priority line which was at the very far end, next to the wall, of the check in terminal when you enter. We had a very little wait and were in front of an agent within seconds.

 

 

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Thanks as well - following as we sail June 26 - so anxious to hear about it all and what excursions if any you did - or ones on your own which is what I'm leaning towards! Thanks so much!

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I'd like to know if Bruno is still the piano player in captain cooks. We sail next week. We love Bruno and hope he's still on the sky.

 

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At the check in counter, one issue I was not expecting, and I saw a lot of people getting tripped up with was that the agent was asking for the copies of our affidavits which we were told to only email back to Norwegian. It appears they also need to collect these at the counter, something not made clear to us before hand.

 

Thankfully I kept all of the paperwork in relation to this cruise, and was able to procure these quickly from my bag. Others around us at the counter were having issues since many did not have these forms with them. BRING THESE WITH YOU TO THE PORT!!

 

 

We were given our visas and cabin keys and sent on our way!

I've included a photo of my visa since several folks have asked about this - The labels are blocking my personal information.

 

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We were among the first board around 11:45 am. After stopping at the shore excursion desk to ask a quick question, we made our way to the open MDR in the aft of the ship, called Crossings. And here is where I leave you for the day as we start enjoying our lunch and exploring the ship!

 

Cheers!

 

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At the check in counter, one issue I was not expecting, and I saw a lot of people getting tripped up with was that the agent was asking for the copies of our affidavits which we were told to only email back to Norwegian. It appears they also need to collect these at the counter, something not made clear to us before hand.

 

Thankfully I kept all of the paperwork in relation to this cruise, and was able to procure these quickly from my bag. Others around us at the counter were having issues since many did not have these forms with them. BRING THESE WITH YOU TO THE PORT!!

 

 

We were given our visas and cabin keys and sent on our way!

I've included a photo of my visa since several folks have asked about this - The labels are blocking my personal information.

 

17bffd16a3c7f0b9a5037d8582be0f9c.jpg

 

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Forums mobile app

 

Just checking other than boarding pass & Passport at the counter are saying that Norwegian emails you your Visa and you have to print off to bring with you. Is that the affidavits you are referring to. Thanks

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Just checking other than boarding pass & Passport at the counter are saying that Norwegian emails you your Visa and you have to print off to bring with you. Is that the affidavits you are referring to. Thanks

No.

 

The affidavit is a form you fill out prior to 30 days of your sailing and we were told to email back to ncl@visa.com.

 

We did this and received confirmation that they had it and we were set. This is the form that shows you are self certifying that you are eligible to visit Cuba and here you will select the licence you wish to visit Cuba under. We and most others selected People to People licence.

 

If I remember correctly, we had to look for the form online the Visas section of the Norwegian website. They might be more proactive now and send these when you book.

 

Good luck!

 

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Thank you for posting all of this! I'm paranoid & printed the certification (both the submitted edoc & the old one where you had to sign it and fax it). I always make sure I have everything printed. 99% of the time I don't need it but that 1% makes it worth while.

 

Thanks again!

Jenna

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