ABOARD THE LOUIS CRISTAL-On a tour of the cabins, I found that there are quite a few options at different price points. Check out the website to see deck plans and cabin descriptions and prices. There are different versions of the deluxe cabins, some with wood floors. There are wheelchair accessible rooms with larger entrances, expanded bathrooms and lower-to-the-floor beds. Family sized rooms sleep four, two in bunks that can be opened above the twin beds. And the inside cabins are made to feel much more open with a wall-sized photo.
My favourite place on the ship is The Thalasso bar, a Hemingway and Cuban themed space at the back of deck five that has great character, and is the perfect place to try out some of that Cuban rum and one of those famous cigars.
The décor throughout the ship has an art deco style, very attractive.
I met with the Hotel Manager, Yannakit Ioanou, who is from the Louis Cristal organization. He told me that there were now 60 Cubans employed on the ship, who stay with the ship when it moves to the Mediterranean for the summer season. He explained that Cuba Cruises wished to include as much Cuban culture as possible on board and to employ locals when they can. There are plans to expand with rum tastings, cigar sampling, and to use local plants and flowers on deck and in the public rooms.
When I asked him what he thought would happen when the Cuban embargo was lifted, he expressed a worry that Cuba would lose its innocence.
“The Cuban people are some of the happiest, friendliest people I have encountered. They do not have our disease of always wanting more – more things, more possessions – and so they do not, also, have our stress levels. They enjoy life, they make time for conversation, they love music and dancing. Cubans work hard, are very proud of their country and their homes, but they also know how to enjoy real life. I hope this never changes, but I fear it must.”