Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
IWantToLiveOverTheSea

On Cuba Cruise Now & Willing to Answer Questions

Recommended Posts

I am loving this Cuban thread.

Sounds like a unique port of call.

I am afraid in a few years it will become more commercial.

thanks for taking time out of your cruise to post your experiences .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Internet on the ship has been great - a little slow sometimes, but that's typical for cruise ships. It was the same when we were in Cuba as it was in Florida. I don't know where they get their service, but it wasn't affected by being in Cuba. I didn't try to get wifi in Cuba except in the hotel. I was able to get in (with a very long password - open up the little Etecsa paper they give you. However, I had very limited time in the hotel, so couldn't do more than get in before I had to get ready for dinner.

 

Went to IT person on the ship today. I still can't get texts, wifi, etc. on my cell phone. He told me the IP I had in there wasn't recognized, so it appears Cuba blocked my phone. I'm anxious to see if it will be OK tomorrow in Miami. We get in at 6 AM and when I get up, I'm hoping nothing is wrong. Be very careful. On the other hand, I've talked to a couple people who said they DID turn on their phone in Cuba and nothing is wrong, so I don't know....

 

I took lots of notes and wrote down tips, but now I'm getting close to when I need to turn off the computer and go to dinner, so I may not get back here to post them. This is our last night on board - sigh! It has not been the most relaxing cruise, but it has been an extremely interesting one, and I was impressed with the job the excursion folks and Cuba Travel Services did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, the drawers. I can answer that. They are larger than the little ones beneath the coffee maker and safe. They're about as deep but they're longer across (wide, I suppose it would be). I have a couple pairs of women's pants folded in two and they fit in there, so that will give you an idea of how wide the drawers are. There are 4 drawers and they're in a dresser that's built into the closet. You can hang shirts (or whatever) above the dresser, and use the rest of the closet for longer items.

 

As for the internet, I haven't tried to do anything but use my tablet to post pictures to Facebook. That was never a problem.

 

Will try to return later and answer any more questions. Glad to help. I'm always looking for info, so felt I'd pay it forward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More info/tips, in no special order:

 

(Keep in mind things can change!)

 

-Best way to get info on what/where to buy cigars - ask the guide

-Havana tour is probably a little different for each bus & guide, but we went to El Morro fort for nice view, plus lots of cool cars, etc. I may have order wrong, but I think we next went to lunch - great paladar in a private home. Have to climb a flight of stairs to get there. Food was great. Then did 1 to 1 1/2 hour walking tour in Havana, plus some driving - to Revolution Plaza with brief stop to photograph Cienfuegos and Che. Then San Jose Market, then art coop. Art coop was only mildly interesting, but I suppose it fulfilled the "people to people" mission well. Then Viking rep collected our passports and we were taken to hotel. Can leave stuff on bus during the day but take all your things off at the hotel, as buses are needed to bring people back from dinner and then back from Tropicana. Check in at hotel was fast, there were some very acrobatic dancers in lobby, plus pool/stream throughout lobby. On room assignment, first no. is floor, then room number. I personally loved the hotel, although some people may not agree it's 5 star, at least not by international standards. The pool was incredible, if nothing else. Too bad we had no time to enjoy it! Classic cars came to take us to dinner - such a riot. Everyone LOVED the cars. Dinner was family style with large group of Viking people at a place which served chicken, beans, rice, dessert, etc. Then we were taken to Tropicana. If you want to take pictures, you HAVE to have CUCs (can get at hotel) - 5 for each camera, more for video. They charge per device, including phone camera. You pay right as you go in. Seating was cramped - place holds a thousand people! We came back on the 11 PM bus; others stayed until the show was over.

 

Breakfast the next morning was buffet but quite adequate. We had to get up quite early. Then pick up box lunch (really a large snack) in lobby and board bus. Makes short stops maybe hour away at a place for using restrooms (paid by Viking; no need to have CUCs here), plus buying souvenirs and snacks. About 15 minutes later get to Bay of Pigs for short visit at museum. Then more driving to get back to Cienfuegos, tender to ship, etc. Long line to go through x-ray but don't worry, there will still be lunch on board ship. 1 PM departure (Cultural Cuba cruise; World Cruise might be different depending upon where you go next!)

-Quiet Vox devices - don't forget to take the EAR PIECE, not just the device. Have it handy when you board the bus so guide can tune it to correct frequency. Turn Vox off while on bus to save battery. Charge it at night. Only have to take it for certain excursions, including Trinidad & Havana Sojourn. If needed, will have 2 asterisks next to excursion on Viking Daily.

-Keep in mind that times of excursions are not the same as times you'll need to meet for excursions. The meeting time can be 30-60 minutes before the actual excursion time listed on MyVikingJourney.

-Havana Sojourn is a huge operation. There were 275 people going first day and 265 next. There will be multiple buses and guides, so things can be a little crazy and crowded.

-Someone is in World Cafe during all meals to make/change Manfredi and Chef Table reservations.

-I took insect repellent and rain jacket but didn't need them; DID need suntan lotion and hat.

-There are new electronic "games" built into a few tables in Atrium - blackjack, maybe chess. Real scrabble game & jigsaw puzzle. Upstairs on sports deck are bocce ball, shuffleboard, mini golf, Ping Pong.

-I believe we could use our Viking credit to pay our gratuities, but not positive. Ask if you're interested in that.

-Most people know, but the ship's stores are closed while ship is in port. If you need Tylenol or something like that, try the 24 hour medical center.

-Tips to guides on this particular cruise are optional, per Viking. We did, however, tip our Havana and Trinidad guides - were wonderful.

-As most people know, Viking's entertainment is modest. However, I thought the quality was high. Try not to miss the "Viking Farewell Reception" on last night - wonderful. Beatles on the pool deck was great fun. "Dunkirk" and other movies were shown on deck or in theater.

-We ate at World Cafe a lot, outside. Keep in mind they make things up for you; you don't have to get everything from the buffet. There were also a few special things, like seafood cooked out back. Be sure to check outside if they mention any special food. They also make waffles in the AM, plus eggs benedict, etc.

-For disembarkation tomorrow, light food is available starting at 6 in Living Room - Viking Bar (coffee bar). Can also order breakfast for early delivery if you place tag outside door by 10. Then World Cafe, Mamsen's and Restaurant open a little later. We must be out of our cabins by 8 and off the ship by 9. If you're traveling independently, you can leave between 7:30 and 9. Luggage has to be out by 10 PM night before you leave.

 

Hope that helps; sorry if I repeated anything that was mentioned before.

 

Happy sailing, everyone!

Edited by IWantToLiveOverTheSea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For the key card, I wouldn't punch any hole - not sure where the electronics are. Maybe ask, though, when you board. I got a plastic name card thingy to use on a lanyard. That works well - don't have to take it out from the plastic to get it to scan when I go on and off ship, etc. Can put in a driver's license when I go ashore and passport isn't needed (example, Key West).

 

Of course, there are plenty of things lots of people won't even explore - like the blackjack table (electronic) along with chess, checkers, scrabble, etc. Some people haven't even found Mamsens, laundry room, etc. - but of course it's still early in the cruise!

 

Best new thing is the 3 extra drawers in the closet for clothing. We didn't really need them much given that we're only on a week long cruise, but some people travel with lots more stuff than we do, so I guess many people will be happy. There's also a way to adjust how high or low the light next to your bed it - hold finger on it and it gets brighter (or darker, I guess) - or just toggle it across as you did before. There are also automatic drapes so you don't have to do more than simply pull the drapes for a second and they'll do the rest. Also you can adjust the heat on the bathroom floor or turn it off completely.There are other tiny changes, like the lawn bowling upstairs and the little cubby hole in one of the stores that houses the toothpaste, suntan lotion, Tylenol, etc. - but the 3 extra drawers in veranda cabins is probably the one people will like the most. (Assume all cabins have it, but have only been in a DV, so not sure.)

 

Lots of good info - thanks! I had questions about the key card, Glad to hear it will work in the plastic pouch - that works for me.

 

Which ship are you on? Are you doing the WC? We are on the Sea in March. Hope they have the adjustable heat on the floor. I don't think we will need that in the Caribbean! I'm pretty sure we won't have the extra drawers, but that's not a problem. We should be able to manage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi dcsam. Are you from DC? I am. Anyway, I came down to ask your questions about Cienfuegos but I just missed the excursion folks. I'll ask them in the morning. It's the end of the day in Key West. We just got our info about the Havana trip (overnight). Lots of good information in there. As for Cienfuegos, I'm doing the long Trinidad excursion, so I'm not going to be much help in giving you information about the walking tour or other tours there. But as I said, I'll ask. I don't think there is any slow walking tour in Havana or Cienfuegos, however. Not sure what you're doing in Key West (if anything; I know a lot of people have already been there already, as I have.) However, the walk to the sightseeing trolley is about 4-5 minutes and relatively slow/easy. I did my own thing in the morning, visiting the Butterfly Conservancy (loved it), taking the free Duval Loop shuttle bus around, visiting the Key West Cemetery, walking around the very touristy Duval St, Seaport and Mallory Square areas and walking through Truman Annex. On board time was 4:30 for 5:00 departure.

 

There was a line of people coming back on the ship around 3:30 today in Key West - your husband might want to come back earlier than that or else maybe he can go ahead of you to the chairs that are set up along the way. There are also places to sit outside the ship. Be sure to take your driver's license or passport ashore in KW - required and checked by port security when you come back.

 

They've told us that the excursions we take have to be looked over the Cuba Travel Services group, which is the group Viking is using to make sure we comply with the People to People U.S. license we're traveling under. As someone reported elsewhere on the last cruise, people were pretty much free to go back to Cienfuegos to sightsee, but the guide had to bring the whole group back to the terminal and told people they couldn't simply stay in the city. I doubt I'll have much time to sightsee after my long Trinidad excursion, but if I do, I plan to go back out to the city for an hour or so if there's still any light. I may be too tired to do that, however. Viking and the Cuba Travel Service folks seem to be doing everything by the book, but we'll see what happens.

 

For the Havana overnight, we will be eating breakfast in the hotel but elsewhere for the lunch and dinner on day 1. There's a walking tour, visit of San Jose market (crafts, etc.), probably a visit to an artist's home, a classic car ride to the Tropicana, etc. Hotel has free wifi and you can exchange money into CUCs. They report that USD are generally accepted by private vendors, etc. but if you want to buy anything at Tropicana or Melia Habana Hotel, you need CUCs. After we tender over there is a simple body temp scan, then passport & visa check, and then security scan. Can't bring food in. Sounds like a lot of patience is needed! We'll find out time we meet tomorrow (the sea day). Excursions are pretty booked up, with wait lists, so hopefully you have all the ones you want. Likewise, reservations for Manfredi's and Chef's Table are pretty booked up unless you want to dine at 8 or later. Key West was fun and the weather was fairly mild - but hot, sunny, and humid!

 

I always take a lanyard to make it easier to scan my keycard in and out on the ship. Don't make the mistake I did. My husband and I switched cards (not on purpose!) and then I couldn't get off the ship in Key West until I found him to get MY card from him. Also, don't punch the key card - electronics inside and that will ruin it.

 

If you're going to Miami early, have patience and allow plenty of time for traffic - ugh! Also, the port changed the terminal for embarkation - look for Viking's smokestack!

 

If you're new to the Sun, there are some changes from the Sky, Star, etc. Your cabin attendant will explain them.

 

Our muster drill was 4:15 in Miami; Meet & Mingle is tomorrow (sea day) at 6.

 

The 3 menus at Chef's Table are a Nordic one for 3 days, then Asian for 3 days, and French for 3 days. I don't know what they'll have for your cruise, however, as I think they have more than 3 menus.

 

Sun is beautiful and I'm having a wonderful time. Tomorrow is a sea day and then....CUBA!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lots of good info - thanks! I had questions about the key card, Glad to hear it will work in the plastic pouch - that works for me.

 

Which ship are you on? Are you doing the WC? We are on the Sea in March. Hope they have the adjustable heat on the floor. I don't think we will need that in the Caribbean! I'm pretty sure we won't have the extra drawers, but that's not a problem. We should be able to manage.

 

I'd like to be on the WC, but I'm not. I'm home now, but we were on Sun. It was only 2 months old, and I think the Sea is older, so I assume you won't have the new things that they put on the Sun. Yes, a see-through plastic pouch should work for your key card.

 

Really, I found the amount of space on the Star quite adequate, at least for the 12 day cruise we took on her before. There weren't a whole lot of drawers, but there was a big ledge in the closet and a small ledge above the coffee maker that could hold lots of things. But I have to admit I kind of liked the dresser with drawers that the Sun had - I came in every afternoon and put my camera bag on top of the dresser. That kept it at a convenient height, but out of sight.

Edited by roothy123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the WCers are posting today on #My Viking story. They were in Cuba on Monday.Great pictures and lots of smiles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I should have posted on there myself. How do you post something on there, and where do I go to read posts - Viking's website?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks. I should have posted on there myself. How do you post something on there, and where do I go to read posts - Viking's website?

 

 

 

I tried to figure that out myself. I think you have to use Instagram or Twitter with the #MyVikingJourney hashtag

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding Viking Story: I'm at home, using a computer. I just went to the Viking website, searched for it, found it, and posted a couple pictures. They may now be back in the Dec. 6 or thereabouts section of the posts; haven't checked yet.

 

I never talked to anyone who used a third-party vendor, so I can't say how it went. However, I didn't see any evidence that there were restrictions on what people did. Since we anchored in Cienfuegos, took tender boats over to a dock, and then almost immediately boarded buses that were right there at the tender dock and small port terminal, I didn't even get a chance to see if there were taxis or tour vendors waiting for people there on the dock. All I remember seeing is maybe 7 or 8 vendor tables, plus a money exchange tent, but I suppose a few taxi drivers might have been around. If you do a private excursion, though, I would definitely pre-arrange it (but not pay yet, in case the ship doesn't make it or something else happens). Allow time to get on a tender boat, get over to waterside (maybe 15-20 to load up, get over, tie up and be let off) and then more time to get through the Cuban passport/visa check and x-ray the first day. There were 3 agents working when we went through, and one x-ray, so it wasn't bad. But it sounds like someone who cruised a week or two before me found very few Cuban personnel there for the number of people coming through at one time, so things were cramped. It's a small building. Apparently one of the x-ray machines doesn't work well, either.

 

I think the ride to the historic, tourist-interesting part of Cienfuegos was maybe a 3-4 minute ride, and (I think) about a 15 minute walk from the tender dock/port terminal. I imagine you could get a taxi there for a tour, but the person may not speak English! Cuba was definitely not Europe! The guides we had for the Trinidad and Havana excursions spoke excellent English, but if I were arranging my own excursion, I'd definitely want someone who did the same.

 

The tender boats ran back and forth until 1 AM, so certainly Viking was not discouraging people from going out into Cienfuegos on their own, day or night!

Edited by roothy123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One last thing - if you are going to Cuba, please take the time to go to Earnest Hemingway’s home . If it’s not on the places to visit, make it one . It is so interesting and well presented.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't know if anyone is still following this, but if so:

 

Yes, most vendors at port terminal in Cienfuegos, San Jose market in Havana, etc. accept euros. Only hard and fast government owed businesses (which is quite a bit!!!) require CUC. Viking pays for restrooms so you don't need anything for those on tours. Many other places you can use USD or euros, although often you're charged the 13%, so may not be worthwhile. We got 20 CUC just to use and didn't use all of it. However, there will be PLENTY of opportunities to do so if you want to buy things!

 

Havana Sojourn was really wonderful. Cuba Travel Services (guides, etc.) worked really hard to provide a wonderful experience. The pace was a little too fast for some (including me) but it was worth it.

 

Couple things, based on our experience. Yours may be different:

 

Only show passports once at Cienfuegos port - first day. You go through the port's x-rays for security every time you leave and come back.

 

We saw people doing something because they had artwork - probably paying a small fee. This was at the port.

 

You could exchange unused CUCs to USD at port, but only to get USD, no other money.

 

On way back from Havana you're given a snack in a box. I would NOT suggest you eat that after the Bay of Pigs stop. The ride is bumping and bus sways back and forth too much to eat very easily with a box on your lap! (No airline type tray tables on bus.)

 

Don't expect much in bathrooms in markets and places you stop, other than nice hotels and restaurants. They were always clean, but there was often no tissue, no way to dry your hands, and no seats on the toilets. But Viking pays, so at least you don't have to pull out a CUC or dollar every time you go. Pick up tissue from attendant if you need it. Buses have bathrooms and AC.

 

Our guide was nothing short of amazing - very organized, knowledgeable, personable, etc. They will provide all the info you need, sometimes multiple times! Viking destination folks were, too.

 

Lunch on first (full) day in Havana was my favorite meal while on the Sojourn.

 

Classic car ride was a total riot - car after car pulling up, honking with some playing music on their horns, etc. Probably my favorite part of Sojourn.

 

Tropicana was awfully crowded, and I was tired, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I might some other night. Cramped seating didn't help, but that's what they do there.

 

Don't remember how long it took to get to Havana, but it was shorter and not as boring as I expected. The departure time for those doing the second day from Cienfuegos was brutal (6:30) but I think we got to Havana around 11 for our first stop, so that's no so bad considering.

 

In hotel, if pay deposit can borrow a plug and/or converter to use to charge things, use 110 appliances, etc. However, if all you need to do is charge things, I'd just do that the night before leaving the Sun.

 

Put your phone in airplane mode while in Cuba. A few people have reported using their phones and then getting a weird message and finding their phone blocked. It may be nothing, but I would be careful.

 

Classic cars are absolutely everywhere. So are horse carts, hitchhikers, crowded buses, etc. If you keep an open mind, remember this is not a river cruise of 150 people and you're not the only cruise ship in town, and be patient/flexible I think you'll find this a wonderful experience. Cuba didn't disappoint and neither did the Sun. Oh, and weather was good - not as hot and humid as I expected!

 

 

 

7a6a53ab8d3b73d26d9f266e066301a4.jpg. Guy’s just dream of these cars ! Cuba has them all

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonderful reporting on your Cuba trip. Thanks so much for sharing. Your photos on pbase are really interesting and very nice.

We’re looking at going on this cruise and it looks like Viking does a decent job of it even without being able to dock in Havana. Our concerns are how strenuous and long the days are for Havana and Trinidad and the cost of these two particular tours. You mentioned how bumpy the bus rides were. Are the buses older and roads bad? We’re used to half day tours in Europe and the Mediterranean where we can limit walking and climbing as we aren’t as young or spry as we would wish. Do you recall any of the costs for these options?

Happy travels. We love Viking - river and ocean so perhaps we’ll cross paths one day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When we took this trip in Dec. 2018, there was no additional cost for the overnight in Havana or the trip to Trinidad, they were included tours at that time. In Havana the hotel was nice, bussed there and toured, hotel checkin then they picked us up in vintage cars for our trip to dinner, then bussed to the Tropicana...long day. Tropicana show begins at 10pm. Busses were fine, roads and other infrastructure not kept up. Trinidad was about 6 or 7 hours trip. I would not want to do Havana without the hotel overnight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When we took this trip in Dec. 2018, there was no additional cost for the overnight in Havana or the trip to Trinidad, they were included tours at that time. In Havana the hotel was nice, bussed there and toured, hotel checkin then they picked us up in vintage cars for our trip to dinner, then bussed to the Tropicana...long day. Tropicana show begins at 10pm. Busses were fine, roads and other infrastructure not kept up. Trinidad was about 6 or 7 hours trip. I would not want to do Havana without the hotel overnight.

 

For next Feb, it is almost 1000 pp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When we took this trip in Dec. 2018, there was no additional cost for the overnight in Havana or the trip to Trinidad, they were included tours at that time. In Havana the hotel was nice, bussed there and toured, hotel checkin then they picked us up in vintage cars for our trip to dinner, then bussed to the Tropicana...long day. Tropicana show begins at 10pm. Busses were fine, roads and other infrastructure not kept up. Trinidad was about 6 or 7 hours trip. I would not want to do Havana without the hotel overnight.

 

 

 

I was on the December 15, 2017 cruise stopping in Cuba. The cruise was originally stopping in Havana but the Cuban government changed our port of call to Cienfuegos, Viking made all excursions on Cuba included and provided an on board credit as compensation for the change in itinerary.

 

This was a one time exception and I would not expect current planned excursions to be included.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are sailing on the Star in December 2018 from LA to Miami, the cruise stops in Cienfuegos for three days (originally supposed to also visit Santiago De Cuba but changed for some reason), we would like to organise a bespoke tour from Cienfuegos to Havana and stay overnight. The Viking agent stated that individual tours are not allowed in Cuba, even though I’ve receved the Cuba Affidavit/Registration form. I’ve read on some blogs from other cruise companies that there is no issue, however I don’t want to book and pay for a hotel in advance if there is an issue. We are British passport holders, so unsure if there are different stipulations for American passport holders which are more restrictive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any issues in Cuba in using their security scans if someone has replacement joints such as shoulders or knees?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...