A- CUBA Trip – General info. 3/2017

GENERAL INFO – CUBA -Always ask if they will charge to take photos – on your tours the tour guide will mention it or just ask.  They DO charge to take photos in Cienfuegos-  inside of the Teatro Thomas Terry. So be sure you really want that photo.

If you know Spanish, great! You don’t have to but just a few words such as Gracias (Thank you), De Nada (no problem, or you are welcome) goes a long way and usually is met with a smile. And Banos – bathroom. (More about Banos later.)

Mrs. Q’s tips: DO NOT drink the water or eat anything with ice involved. Drink only bottled water. Ask if the water on your ship is ok to drink otherwise, insist on bottled water. Learn these phrases:  Agua con gas – Sparkling (bottled) water or ask for bottle beer  not tap (lagers –  Cristal Bucanero & Mayabe.) Coffee: Cafe Americano (milder brew).  Rum – if you are a rum drinker, this is the place for you (try the 7 yr. (Anejo Reserva) – you might like it better than your single malt scotch.  Cuba recently began to create their own wine – don’t drink it, go for the the wine like Chianti, etc. from different regions other than Cuba. Dining: Don’t come to Cuba for Fine Dining – there is none.  IT IS BEST TO SAVE ALL YOUR EATING & DRINKING FOR THE SHIP. 

DO NOT EAT/DRINK FROM LOCAL STREET VENDORS & YES, small domesticated dogs and cats roam the streets freely.

After all that drinking/eating, you need to know this phrase:  BANOS – bathroom.

Yes, toilets are dismal, most do not have a seat just a bowl, not as clean as in the US and not very plentiful and don’t forget to bring your own toilet paper (Kleenex or baby wipes), it is usually not readily available in the toilets. Some places have a roll of toilet paper outside of the toilet but want a donation to use it. They don’t charge to use the toilet like in some European countries.

The best of Cuba Trip on Celestyal Crystal ship from Legendary Journeys.  We arrived early as to enjoy a day in Montego Bay before boarding our ship and will end your trip at the end in Montego Bay to fly to the airport.  Yes, you do need a visa & passport. If traveling w/ a cruise line, they will get the visa and keep it on the boat & give it to you for leaving & boarding the ship.  Cruise? YES, but do not deal with  Sheila Monahan, Legendary Journeys – read on-line reviews of Legendary Journeys before choosing them. The food and entertainment on LJ was good & always get a “drink pkg”.  There are other cruise lines such as MSC.  Our last transfer from the ship to the airport, which was to be included, never came despite many phone calls. We took a cab to the airport which was $10. pp. DO NOT DEAL with Sheila Monahan from Legendary Journeys from the Sarasota Fl office – she does not return phone calls and the main office number always seems to to have a full mail box – you never get a return call after they get your money.

Mrs. Q sent a very pointed email – cc: to Sheila Monahan and the main office of “customer service” and then got a response from Sheila.

Our ship gave their guests a $50.00 p.p. on board credit to use as you please. So use it. Don’t forfeit that opportunity. Use it to pay for your internet, your drinks, or buy something from the “Duty Free” gift shop.  Our ship had 4 restaurants which you can eat for any meal.  Two were large buffets and two were sit down meals. The food is all the same at all the buffets. The exception is the evening meal which offers an official Cuban entree along with other items which changes every day. They post the menus outside the restaurants.

Things to think about before going: REMEMBER:  Cubans do not make a lot of money.  There are pesty pan-handlers all around trying to sell you fake items, take you to the best restaurants, hotels, & women for you to spend the night with, etc. Men, don’t get excited, they really DO NOT think you are the best thing these women have ever seen – they are only after your $$$$$$. This pertains to women also. Cuban women are used to workers whistling/cat calls, etc. but US women should just ignore this and is best to just politely say: NO and keep moving or say, “No me gusta.” (No, I don’t like). It is also suggested that women don’t dress suggestively or wear skimpy outfits. (However,  the group we went with is beyond wearing skimpy, suggestive clothing even tho some might like to think they look good but….) Mrs. Q says, “no women in our group received any whistles, etc.  Mrs. Q encountered a pesty man trying to sell a cab ride.  After saying “NO” many times, Mrs. Q finally said, “NO ME GUSTA” then he finally gave up.   Cuba is aware of this problem and in big cities like Havana placed police officers on corners.(However, the pest pan-handles seem to leave people in tour groups alone more than if you are by yourselves.  1. In general, Cuba has a poor record on gay/lesbian rights, while improving, the levels of homophobia & rejection of gays/lesbians is high. Also dread locks and people of color (Mrs. Q doesn’t understand their phrase, people of color, since 70% of the people in Santiago de Cuba are black) might be pulled over and checked more often. 2. Seniors: Cuba is a comfortable destination for seniors.  They are treated with respect. However, you will be lumped into the rich foreigner category and gouged as much as possible, like all the rest. 3. American money is widely accepted – MasterCard/Visa (in some places and definitely are accepted on the cruise ship) and American dollars but not loose change. Am. Express – no. Contact your bank and see if your credit card is accepted in Cuba. When you dock, their is usually a place to exchange your American dollars to the CUC.

  • Included: 100% ESCORTED TOUR:  Yes, our tours were included -no extra charges for the included tours.
  • GUESTS WORLDWIDE CAN PARTICIPATE: Airfare is available to Montego Bay from many USA and other gateways to participate in this trip.  Transfers before or after the tour are included.
  • FREE “ALL IN BEVERAGE PACKAGE” IS INCLUDED: Throughout your cruise which includes Non-Alcoholic beverages.  You may upgrade to “ALL IN ALCOHOL DRINKS” for just $59! (AND THAT’S FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK!) WE BOUGHT THE $99.00 per couple. – ALL IN-ALCOHOL DRINKS – YES, IT IS WORTH IT- includes beer, wine and hard liquor & bottled water. Average per drink on the ship cost around $7.00 ea., bottled water approx. $4.00+
  • PLEASE NOTE: ALL ADULTS traveling in the same cabin must purchase the “ALL IN ALCOHOL DRINKS” package. [This package must be purchased at the TIME OF YOUR RESERVATION]
  • FREE EDUCATIONAL SHORE EXCURSION TOURS IN EVERY PORT OF CALL: Excursions are offered in every port. Utilizing local guides, experts, on board naturalists and Cuba’s incredible natural diversity, we help you “Find Your Cuba”. Available excursions can be enlightening, cultural, historical and adventurous. All excursions are included for all passengers on the ship.    These programs will include sightseeing, educational programs and more to experience the people, the history, the understanding of Cuba.
  • SPECIAL PEOPLE TO PEOPLE CUBA EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM: Cubans will come aboard your cruise for special programs to prepare you for the Culture, the History, the People of this historic island.
  • ADDITIONAL Low Cost AIR IS AVAILABLE: from South Florida (Ft Lauderdale or Miami). Other cities are available upon request.  UPGRADE TO $49 PREMIUM AIR: plus flight change costs and you can select the number of stops, the times, the airlines, or any flight preferences.

    :  Many air gateways in the Western USA & Canada will require a redeye overnight flight to Montego Bay to join the cruise.