Cuba is a trip that will provide you with a step back in time. There is very little commercial branding noted. The people live very simply and do with very little. Their music is amazing and their resilience is evident. This is a trip that should be done at least once in a lifetime.
4 out of 5
Getting to the Port of Miami Pier J was the hardest part of the journey. There is a lot of construction going on and detours are in place. The directions to the pier presented challenges to our driver, as he was more familiar with going to Pier C. Other than that, the embarkation process was expedient, as is when you are only embarking 700 passengers, as opposed to a couple of thousand. The ship arrived an hour late, due to inclement weather conditions, so the stateroom preparations were a bit behind. However, the buffet was prepared for the masses and the staff made their new guests feel very welcomed.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
The 2 specialty restaurants, Red Ginger and Tuscan Steak, were great. The food preparation in both of those venues were superb and the service was wonderful and attentive, despite being very busy. The food in the Grand Diningroom was also very well prepared, although we had chose to not go for breakfast or lunch because we were a little pressed for time, with our personal schedules. The staff did well to keep up with the guests' needs. The food in the breakfast buffet was pretty much the same on a daily basis, but that is generally how it is when it comes to breakfasts and buffets. We usually are our lunch out at Waves and it was quite fine, when the weather behaved.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Our room steward, Jaaser, was amazing! He was very friendly and attentive. We did not meet a staff member on the ship who was not friendly and helpful. This ship had top line staff and did their best to make your trip memorable.
5 out of 5
This ship is the sister ship to the Pacific Princess, which I adore. The Sirena has been updated and is a very nice and clean ship.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The bathrooms on this ship are a bit smaller than on other bigger ships. Make use of what little space there is by bringing magnets to hang up papers and declutter the desk areas. I also bring a multi-plug cord and a nightlight, so I can charge my devices during the night, and the nightlight provides enough light in the cabin to navigate in the dark. If you book a balcony room, enjoy the balcony! We travel with another couple and we spend a lot of time out there and, during this trip, we were pretty much the only ones out on our balcony. If you do travel with others and book adjoining cabins, you cannot have the steward open the door, unless you are parent/children. Apparently it is against their policies.
Very nice beach. Did not book any excursion here and didn't need to. They served a complementary barbeque lunch and lounges were ample and available. There was plenty of shade available, to get out of the sun. Because of the passenger volume on the ship, there wasn't any crowding noted.
We did the Colonial Santiago de Cuba bus tour, which took us out to a fortress overlooking the inlet to the bay. It was a very beautiful place to go, but they do charge 5 CUCs to take pictures at the fortress. It was followed up by a journey to San Juan Hill, which was quite interesting. The tour ended with a visit to a dance studio, for an experience with the local cultural dance. Santiago de Cuba appeared to be one of more poorer cities on the itinerary, although the scenery outside the city was very beautiful.
We had to change our excursion at the last minute, so we took a Colonial Cienfuegos tour, which first took us to the Yacht Club for a buffet lunch, which was very tasty. Then, a drive out, past the not-quite-completed Russian-inspired nuclear power plant, to the fortress guarding the entrance to the bay. Again, a very historical visit and this fortress didn't charge for pictures. A trip back to the city for a walking tour the highlights of Cienfuegos and then a very brief shopping break, before travelling back to the ship.
Getting through immigration was a breeze, which was a surprise for us. We did a city tour from the ship, which was a good thing in ng because the weather had started to get rainy. We were in Havana overnight, although we chose to stay onboard after dark (we aren't much for experiencing the nightlife, even at home). We did attempt to venture out to go shopping, however we experienced the sudden downpours from the storm system blowing through. Shopping is very easy to do in Havana. There are several squares that have shops around. Do not purchase cigars from non-certified sources...they may contain true Cuban tobacco. The people in all of the ports in Cuba were very friendly and we felt safe there. There port of Havana is still being renovated and the other piers are still in ruins.
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