After the success of the 2013/14 winter season, Cuba Cruises and Louis Cruises will once again co-manage the popular, 24,000 ton Louis Cristal on a programme of seven night, Caribbean cruises, centered mainly on ports in and around Cuba itself.
The joint Greek-Canadian venture is on sale in both Canada and Europe, and offers the possibility of embarkation in either Havana or Montego Bay, Jamaica. Ports of call visited on the week long circuits include Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Punta Frances, and Montego Bay. The first sailing is on December 22nd, the last on March 30th, 2015.
The fifteen cruises all feature Monday departures from Havana. For Canadian passengers, the Calgary based Cuba Cruises is arranging charter flights. While no such arrangements exist for European passengers, Air France operates daily flights between Paris and Havana.
At present, the four star Louis Cristal is operating a seven night, Greek Island schedule from both Piraeus (Athens) and Istanbul. I’ll be back aboard her at the end of September, and an updated blog will be on here soon afterwards. But here’s some of what you can expect to find on board;
Louis Cristal has a central swimming pool, covered by a sliding glass roof with plenty of sun bathing space. At the stern, several attractive, tiered decks include an outdoor buffet venue, and a hot tub overlooking the ship’s wake.
There are two main restaurants, a casino, a forward facing show lounge, several bars and lounges, and a very attractive, upper deck sky lounge cantilevered around the funnel. With angled floor to ceiling glass windows, this converts into the ship’s disco each night.
Service on board is friendly and efficient, with good food, slanted towards Greek favourites on Mediterranean cruises. For the Cuba itineraries, most provisioning is from Canada. Expect the bacon and the maple syrup to be very good.
Cabin wise, there is a handful of upper deck midships rooms that have small, V shaped balconies. Many of the inside rooms are small- get your travel agent to check exact dimensions before you book a specific room.
At the top end of the scale, there is a pair of forward facing penthouse suites on the bow below the bridge, with expansive terraces, each including a hot tub. For a good buy, the outside de luxe cabins come in at around 170 square feet, have a big picture window, and a small, comfortable sitting area.
Just as with the inaugural season last year, I expect these cruises to be very popular.