Montego Bay - Santiago de Cuba - Havana - Punta Frances - Cienfuegos - Montego Bay
This 7-day culturally enriching cruise appeals to those travelers who want to learn about the culture and history of Cuba and meet her warm and lively people. You'll visit the most Cuban ports of call on a single itinerary, including many of the fantastic island's hidden gems.
Port of Call
Santiago de Cuba
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Cuba People to People Cruise Itinerary (arrival/departure times are approximate and subject to change)
Upon your arrival in Montego Bay, Jamaica, you will be met and transferred to the port where you will board Celestyal Cruise Lines' "Crystal", your home for the next 8 days. Afternoon: Welcome briefing by a destination expert
Morning: "Panoramic Santiago" -Welcome to Santiago de Cuba, capital of the island's "Wild East" and its glittering cultural nerve center, one that's core to the evolution of Cuban architecture, literature and music. Our first stop is the African Cultural Center, Fernando Ortiz, where we'll meet with director Dr. Martha Cordié Jackson and enjoy a traditional dance performance - after the performance we'll meet with the dancers. We'll then stroll through the Patio of the Artisans and to Conga Gallery and its collection of contemporary Cuban art. Our next stop is the Loma de San Juan and its manicured grounds. This is the site of the only land battle of the Spanish-American War where, on July 1, 1898, flanked by his rough riders, Teddy Roosevelt led a victorious cavalry charge against the Spanish. Loma de San Juan is also the home of the Unknown Mambi Soldier. Our tour continues through this fascinating city along its most famous avenues. We will pass the University of Oriente and visit the former Moncada Barracks, Revolution Square and El Morro Castle - built at the end of the 17th century, the castle occupies a promontory high above the sea. Afternoon: Rum tasting and briefing by a destination expert. Then "Let's Learn Salsa"! Evening: Dance Like a Cuban - It's Rumba Time!
Morning: A Taste of Cuba: Learn how to "mix and match" the most mouthwatering dishes with a destination expert. Enjoy a Cuban cooking lesson and learn about some of the unique gems endemic to Cuban cuisine, taking fresh ingredients to create incomparable dishes that burst with the flavors of Cuba. Our chef will show you how Creole and Spanish cuisine blend to create the authentic, singular Cuban gastronomic experience loved all over the world.
Afternoon: "Cuban Cigars - The Story Behind the Smoke"; Cuban documentary.
Evening: Dance Like a Real Cuban: It's Cha Cha Cha Time!
Morning: Lecture- Learn and discuss topics on which Cuba excels, such as social security, family code and agricultural co-ops.
Next, embark on the "Real Taste of Havana" tour. The old city center comprises a breathtaking mix of Baroque and neoclassical monuments and a homogeneous ensemble of private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought-iron gates and internal courtyards. Meander along the narrow streets of this fascinating city with our expert guide, who will regale you with tales of this magical city's storied history. We begin with a walking tour of the historical center of Old Havana ("Habana Vieja"), where we'll see the Royal Forces Castle, Saint Francis of Assisi Square, the Cathedral Square, the Old Square and Arms Square. Buy old books in all languages and interact with the book sellers.
Afternoon: "More of Authentic Havana" Tour. This panoramic tour includes a photo stop at the famed Old Capital Building, then a drive past Revolution Museum, The Fine Arts Museum, The Parque Central (Central Park) and the Gran Teatro de Havana. We then stop at Revolution Square for some free time and photos - you'll find the Jose Marti Memorial, the National Library and the Revolution Palace here. We leave Revolution Square to continue our tour with a drive past some of Old Havana's most important buildings, the University of Havana and its escalinata (stairway) and the Alma Mater statue, La Rampa; the Coppelia ice cream parlor, the Yara movie theater and the Habana Libre hotel. We end our tour at San Jose Market for more free time and the market's unique shops and hospitable vendors.
Morning: "More of Real Havana" Tour. Old Havana and its fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded in 1519 by the Spanish, and by the 17th century it had become one of the Caribbean's main centers for ship-building. This tour features a visit to the Fine Arts Museum and the famed "Museo de la Revolución". Housed in the former Presidential Palace, the museum is devoted to the revolutionary war of the 1950s and to the country's post-1959 history. Next, stop to marvel at some of the outdoor installations of legendary Cuban ceramicist and graphic artist Jose Fuster, a pioneer of Cuban visual art. We then return on board Celestyal Crystal.
Evening: Dance like a Cuban! Come join us for a selection of beautiful Cuban dances and live Cuban music by the "Latin Souls" band. We will take you through the steps - by the end of the hour, you'll feel as if your feet aren't touching the dance floor.
Morning: Cultural Briefing by our destination expert and cooking demonstration of Cuban festive dishes. Discover some of the many gems of Cuban cuisine. You will learn how to take fresh ingredients and create incomparable tastes that burst with the flavors of Cuba. Our chef will show you how some of the most popular Cuban festive dishes are prepared.
Evening: Dance like a Cuban - Que Rico Mambo!
Morning: Cienfuegos City Tour. You'll visit Cienfuegos, a 19th century planned city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. "The Pearl of the South", this colonial gem was founded in 1819. Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country's sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area, the town first developed in the neoclassical style - it became more eclectic as it grew but still retained a harmonious overall townscape. We then stop at the Graphic Society of Cienfuegos, where we'll meet with local artists - the society is beloved by the people of Cienfuegos for its programs for children with special needs. Our tour continues at Project Trazos Libres: artist Santiago Hermes Martinez converted his family home into an art collective in 2009 to support local artists and collaborate with them. View unique handicrafts, murals, photographs and traditional costumes. We will then enjoy a panoramic view of Cienfuegos, before we visit the magnificent Teatro Thomas Terry, built between 1887 and 1889 to honor Venezuelan industrialist Tomás Terry. This 950-seat opera house and theater is decorated with Carrara marble and hand-carved Cuban hardwoods. After Teatro Thomas Terry we'll return to the Celestyal Crystal.
Evening: Make Your Own Cocktail and farewell event. Then more dancing like a Cuban!
This morning you will sadly bid farewell, disembark the ship and board your transfer to the Montego Bay Airport for your flight back home.
INCLUDED In Your Program:
Round-trip transfers between Montego Bay Airport and cruise port IF arriving and departing Montego Bay ON SAME DAY as cruise departure/arrival. If you book a pre/post night hotel stay, an optional transfer may be purchased from the hotel to cruise port (transfers are included from the airport to hotel on arrival and cruise ship to airport on departure)
7 night accommodations in selected cabin category
Two full days in Havana
Full breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
Unlimited bar & beverage package
Fully guided "People to People" excursions
Havana-one full day tour & a half day tour
Cienfuegos- city tour
Santiago de Cuba-panoramic tour of Santiago
Port Charges and all shipboard gratuities
Daily entertainment program
Evening entertainment and theme nights
Cuban tourist visa
Cuban Medical Insurance (excluding pre-existing conditions)
NOT INCLUDED In Your Program:
Flights to/from Montego Bay (may be booked through Apple Vacations)
Optional pre/post night hotel stay in Montego Bay (may be booked through Apple Vacations along with optional hotel/cruise port transfers)
Optional AV-OK Total Vacation Security Plan including cancellation/change waiver (available at an extra charge)
Note: No optional excursions allowed in Cuba - all excursions must be pre-scheduled People to People programs.
Cuba People to People Cruise Information
Please also refer to the FAQs tab on this site for more important information.
The Celestyal Crystal is a 1992 conversion. Ship Registry is MALTA. In 1994 the ship was entirely renovated. Since then, Celestyal Crystal has been refurbished several times and renovated continually. The last renovations were in the fall of 2015 when 43 balcony cabins were added. The ship weighs 25,611 tons - 162m long (531 ft.). It has nine passenger decks, 476 staterooms of which 53 have balconies, and can accommodate 952 guests in lower berths (total capacity1200). With the exception of the balcony suites, the windows on the ship do not open for safety reasons. Celestyal Crystal has conference rooms with audio/visual equipment. A medical center is onboard.
Cabins: All cabins have electrical outlets for both 110 and 220 volts. Apple Vacations offers three cabin types: Inside Cabins - Category "IC"; Ocean View Cabins - Category "XB"; and Junior Suite Balcony Cabins - Category "SBJ". Please note that the Junior Suite Balcony cabins are only available after 04/14/17.
Apple Vacations does not accept travelers under 18 years of age on our Cuba programs. Celestyal Cruises permits pregnant passengers to travel up to their 24th week of pregnancy, provided that they are holders of a written certification for traveling ability issued by their gynecologist. We recommend that pregnant women who have not yet completed the 12th week of their pregnancy by the date of the cruise to contact their gynecologist. Cuban-born Citizens must book directly with Celestyal Cruises due to special paperwork required by the Cuban government.
Passengers who need assistance and/or have special requests or need special facilities or equipment must communicate their needs to their travel agent or Apple Vacations at the time of booking to ensure that they can be accommodated. All travelers that need special assistance are required to travel with a qualified companion who can accommodate their special needs. Standards in Cuba are not consistent with the standards required by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and are not within the control of Apple Vacations. Please consider your physical condition before traveling to Cuba. Wheelchair accessible transportation is not available on the excursions, and many of the streets and sidewalks are rugged and not paved.
Celestyal Crystal is wheelchair accessible. The ship offers a limited number of wheelchair accessible cabins with wood floors, wider doors, and a lightly ramped floor into the washroom. Please request a wheelchair accessible cabin at time of booking. At certain ports of call, small boats known as "tenders" are used to transport passengers from the ship to shore. Certain tenders may not be accessible to individuals using wheelchairs or mobility scooters. In addition the tendering process at a particular port under weather, sea, swell, current and/or tide conditions may prove difficult for a safe transfer to take place. In each case, it will be the decision of the ship's Master to determine, based on his evaluation of safety issues for our guests and crew, whether or not a guest using a wheelchair may board a tender. In order to safely board tenders, guests must be able to take steps and use a collapsible/fold up wheelchair; motorized wheel-chairs and mobility scooters cannot be taken on tenders. Some of the scheduled land excursions may not be suitable or safe for passengers with certain disabilities.
A valid passport is required for the cruise. You will need your passport and your Cuban visa to disembark at every port of call in Cuba during this voyage. For all guests flying/or cruising into Jamaica holding U.S. or Canadian passports, your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay in Jamaica. We also suggest that you bring a photocopy of your passport and leave it in your cabin. If you are travelling with a non-Canadian or US passport, please check with your local Cuban Consulate or Tourist Office for any specific requirements. Upon deposit, you will be provided with a self-certification form that you must complete and return to Apple Vacations or your travel agent within 5 business days. Your Cuban Visa fee is included in the price of your cruise. Paperwork for your Cuban tourist visa will be provided by Celestyal Cruises upon check-in at the cruise.
Cuban medical insurance is included for U.S. citizens. Please visit www.asistur.cu for instructions on their coverage. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you MUST be able to show proof of medical insurance to be allowed to board the ship. Please advise your travel agent or Apple Vacations at the time of booking.
Ship embarkation in Montego Bay is on Fridays from 1pm to 4:30pm. Passengers who have not checked in by this time are considered "no-show" and will NOT be able to board in Cuba. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to arrive in Montego Bay the day prior to the cruise. The transfer time between the Montego Bay Airport and pier is approximately 45 minutes, but could be longer depending on traffic conditions.
Round-trip transfers between Montego Bay Airport and cruise port IF arriving and departing Montego Bay on SAME DAY as cruise departure/arrival. If you book a pre/post night hotel stay, an optional transfer may be purchased from the hotel to cruise port (transfers are already included from the airport to hotel on arrival and cruise ship to airport on departure). However, you must report your flight information to your travel agent or Apple Vacations so that transfers can be arranged. If we do not receive your flight times, you will be responsible for your own transfers.
Transfers for Passengers booking Pre and Post night accommodations in Montego Bay through Apple Vacations: Optional Pre and Post night hotel accommodations in Montego Bay are available through Apple Vacations, which include transfers from the airport to the hotel. Optional transfers from the hotel to the cruise port on the following morning may be purchased. Once you clear Immigration and Customs, you will be met outside of the airport terminal by an Apple Vacations Representative from Amstar dmc, wearing a bright blue tropical shirt and holding an Apple Vacations sign. If you choose to book pre and post night accommodations on your own (not through Apple Vacations), you will be responsible for arranging your own transfers.
Passengers arriving on cruise day-If you are arriving in Montego Bay the Friday morning of the cruise, you will clear Immigration and Customs, and will be met outside of the airport terminal building by a Celestyal Cruises Representative holding a Celestyal Cruises sign. Celestyal Cruises will be providing your transfer. However, we strongly encourage you to arrive the day prior to cruising or risk missing your sailing.
At the end of your voyage, disembarkation is any time after 10am. All passengers should be fully disembarked by 12pm. In order to make your travel connections comfortably, please allow at least 4 hours from disembarkation until your flight departure time.
Apple Vacations, Celestyal Cruises and Central Holidays are not responsible for misconnections.
During summer, casual light-weight resort wear, including light cotton clothing, swimwear and beach robe, tennis shoes or low heeled walking shoes, light jacket or sweater, hat, sunglasses. Please pack heavier attire during the winter months for dress in layers. Be sure to bring your binoculars, camera, and most importantly, mosquito repellant.
The dress code for dinner is "smart casual"- no shorts or sandals for gentlemen. For the Captain's dinner and gala event, elegant attire is encouraged but optional. Swimsuits and flip-flops are not allowed in the restaurants. Shorts/ Bermuda shorts may be worn at dinner in the Leda Casual dining on deck 9.
Currency onboard the ship is the US dollar. Major currencies are accepted and can be exchanged at the Reception. Traveler's checks are also accepted at a 2% surcharge. The official Cuban currency is the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). We suggest before leaving the airport you purchase an appropriate amount of Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) for onshore purchases. American-based credit cards may not work in Cuba. In Cuba at all airports there are exchange booths, and they are also available in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos. In order to exchange currency you will need to present your passport. The ship does not have any CUC currency onboard. In Jamaica, the Jamaican dollar and U.S. dollar are accepted. Please bring US dollars from home.
Celestyal Cruise's 7-day "All-Inclusive" package consists of all meals onboard; selected, pre-determined shore excursions, beverage package*, gratuities, port charges, evening entertainment and theme nights.
Meat and produce is imported from North America weekly. Rum and some produce is purchased locally in Cuba. To provide you with an 'authentic Cuba' experience, parts of the menu will explore modern and pre-1950s Cuban cuisine. Every day there will be an authentic Cuban dish served for lunch and dinner while the rest of the menu will include international dishes with a twist of Cuban flavors. Tap water onboard is safe to drink, and bottled water is also available.
Please arrive in the dining room with whom you wish to be seated. Large groups should contact the Maitre D' in advance for seating arrangements. Meals will be served on an open seating basis commencing at 6:30pm. The following generally applies:
Buffet breakfast is served in Amalthia Restaurant (Ouranos Deck 8), as well as Leda Casual Dining (Hera Deck 9).
Lunch is served "A la Carte" in Amalthia Restaurant (Ouranos Deck 8), as well as the lunch buffet in Leda Casual Dining (Hera Deck 9).
Dinner is always served a la carte in Amalthia Restaurant (Ouranos Deck 8), and the Olympus Restaurant (Dionyssos Deck 5). Alternatively, buffet dinner is served in the Leda Casual Dining (Hera Deck 9) with the exception of the Captain's Dinner and Gala Night.
Room service is available 24 hours/day, subject to menu prices, with no delivery surcharge. Snacks outside designated times, such as sandwiches and pizza, are available at an extra cost. Afternoon tea is available at no additional charge.
Special Dietary Needs/Requests- Upon boarding, allergies or concerns should be mentioned to the ship's Maitre D'. Gluten free meal requests will be accommodated. Kosher meals can be arranged upon request at an extra charge, and must be pre-booked a minimum of 40 days prior to your sailing date. Please notify your travel agent or Apple Vacations with any special dietary needs at the time of booking to ensure they can be accommodated.
The minimum drinking age onboard is 18 years at time of sailing. The Blue Alcoholic Beverage package is preselected and included for adults 18+ years old. Your All Inclusive Alcoholic beverage package includes a selection of award winning wines and spirits, beer and bottled water, served by the glass, in all bars and restaurants aboard the ship. This package also includes soft drinks, regular tea and coffee, and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails from the bar menu.
Guests are not allowed to bring alcoholic beverages onboard during embarkation or in the ports of call. Any alcoholic beverages brought onboard will be collected by the ship's security staff and passengers must remember to pick them up prior to their final disembarkation, as shipment of alcohol is not allowed.
*Unless otherwise noted, fares include ROUNDTRIP AIRFARE via U.S. certified air carrier, hotel transfers (in Mexico and the Caribbean), hotel tax, resort baggage handling, fuel surcharges and all pre-collected U.S. and foreign taxes and fees including September 11th Security Fee. Packages in Turks and Caicos or San Juan, Puerto Rico do not include airport transfers. Packages flying into Cancun but staying in Cozumel require supplemental ferry transfers at an additional cost. More details
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