Hubby’s early-to-rise habit allows him to experience many beautiful sunrises. Cuba was no exception.
We were supposed to have a beach day at Punta Frances on La Isla de la Juventud (Island of Youth), but apparently Cuban authorities have concerns about damage to the coral reefs so they’ve prohibited cruise ship access to the island. I was slightly disappointed to have our only beach experience canceled; however, I totally understand the need to protect that fragile environment.
So Day Two became an at-sea day. Hubby and I used the time to get acquainted with the ship. By today’s standards, the Celestyal Crystal is quite small, with a 1200 passenger capacity. Although the aging ship isn’t terribly fancy, it has all the important requirements, including a friendly and helpful staff.
Our small, yet functional inside cabin on deck four.
We always took the stairs to get around. Lots of stairs, both inside and out.
Deck five’s Thalassa Terrace Bar, aft outside, is a good place to relax with a drink while soaking in the sea air and sunshine. It’s also the location of the only hot tub. We didn’t partake, but plenty of others did.
A few pieces of artwork decorate the area.
The photo store, duty-free store and reception are located mid-ship on deck five.
Reception area artwork.
The ship’s promenade encircles deck five.
Deck five forward is a quiet spot to watch the scenery go by, as long as you don’t mind a stiff sea breeze.
Service was great and so was the food at the a la carte Olympus Restaurant on deck five. Special shout-out to our waiter, Lobo. He always remembered us and was wonderful at anticipating our needs.
We don’t drink much alcohol, but this cruise came with a drink package, so we had fun trying new cocktails. I often questioned the knowledgeable young bartender in the Eros Lounge, on deck eight, about the various ingredients. He was such a good sport, listing off drink after drink until I found one I wanted to try. He’d always give me a smile and a wink when I thanked him.
Muses Lounge, also on deck eight, is used for various daily activities, as well as the nightly entertainment. We found the seating arrangements too maze-like, making it difficult getting to and from the seats when the place is busy.
There’s a larger a la carte restaurant and a casino on deck eight, but we didn’t try them.
Mornings, a waffle/pancake station is set up by the Helios Bar, on deck nine. Didn’t take long before the chef started preparing my daily waffle as soon as he saw me approach.
The little saltwater pool on deck nine.
The Leda Buffet, deck nine aft, has a fair assortment of tasty food and usually the selections are kept replenished. Incredible desserts!
One of the kitchen staff made these impressive statues.
The back terrace off the buffet is a great place to eat a relaxing breakfast, enjoy a cappuccino, or take in the sunset.
Loungers are located on Zeus Deck, which is mid-ship deck ten. You can look down at the pool and Helios Bar from there.
There’s dancing every evening at Horizons Bar, deck ten aft.
All the usual daytime entertainment is offered, but we preferred to hang around outside. We usually attended Dr. Jorge Arocha’s presentations on Cuba, though. Dr. Arocha is a professor of philosophy at the University of Havana, and his lectures are informative, entertaining and often humourous.
That morning’s presentation was Cuban culture: “El ajiaco”. Dr. Arocha used ajiaco (an indigenous Cuban soup made with many ingredients) to characterize the Cuban people: a diverse combination of races, religions, and practices, all mixed together like the ingredients in the ajiaco.
After lunch, we relaxed on deck nine’s back terrace. A variety of weather patterns were briskly rolling through, and it even showered for about five minutes. We found the cross-current movement of clouds quite fascinating. Sometimes the sun broke through to sparkle on small patches of water.
Joe Cool bunny, the only towel art we got.
Later that afternoon, we listened to The Cuban landscape in the 20th century lecture. Dr. Arocha started with Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean, then discussed the Cuban-Spanish-American wars. He finished with the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and the rise of Fidel Castro’s communism. Fascinating insight to Cuba’s turbulent history.
Clouds obliterated the sunset.
The Latin Souls, a talented Havana band, play in Muses Lounge before the evening show.
My drink of the night, and my favourite of the trip, was a cranberry mojito. So very tasty!
The evening show was Welcome to Cabaret – the world of musicals. The team did an admirable job entertaining us.
Fitbit says we covered 7.22 kilometers despite being confined to the ship all day.
On Friday, I’ll share our day in Cienfuegos, the “pearl of the south”. Click here for next post.