Celestyal Crystal Cuba Cruise: Discovering Love Garden at Hotel Nacional de Cuba

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – I was the only person in the Love Garden. It is a bit out of the way at the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana. Seemed like most people were walking through the hotel’s historic halls or heading down to enjoy the beautiful view of the sea. In truth, I discovered the garden because I was looking for a public restroom. Stepping around the corner, I saw the Love Garden sign …

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Celestyal Crystal Cuba Cruise: Skimpy costumes, beautiful showgirls & guys at Tropicana cabaret show

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – I don’t know where they sat. Probably not where I did. But such rich and famous folks as Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Rita Hayworth, JFK, Ernest Hemingway and Lucky Luciano once attended the famous Tropicana show in Havana. Now I have, too, on a late-night excursion from my Celestyal Crystal cruise. The optional four-hour activity cost $149 for adults. Children under 18 not allowed. That price includes a glass of sparkling wine, …

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Celestyal Crystal Cuba Cruise: 1950s American cars still cruising in Cuba

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – Eisenhower was president. The New York Yankees won their fifth world series in a row. Frank Sinatra was drawing movie goers with his film “From Here to Eternity.” A 26-year-old Fidel Castro launched his failed attempt to overthrow Cuban dictator Batista on July 26. The first Corvette went on sale. And the pink Chevy that I’m settling into for a ride through Havana first took to the streets. The year was 1953. …

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Celestyal Crystal Cuba Cruise: Statue honors ‘crazy’ man

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – Cuba is a country of statues and monuments, many of them dedicated to heroes of the revolution. But one unusual bronze figure in Havana is the only one in the world I have seen for a certifiably crazy person. On a walking tour of Havana, we stopped in front of a church. However, what caught my attention was a statue outside the church of a man whose beard, left index finger and …

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Celestyal Crystal Cruise: Learning about Cuban flag, anthem and coat of arms

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – Walk by a Cuban school on an early weekday morning and you’ll probably hear the Cuban National Anthem being sung by the students, including an additional “dun tada dun” at the end. “That’s just how we end the song,” Dr. Jorge Arocha said, giving a demonstration. “I can’t sing,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ll try to show you how it goes.” A highlight of my People to People cruise has …

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Celestyal Crystal Cuba Cruise: Fusterlandia is one man’s attempt to brighten the world

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – Outrageous colors. Fantasy figures. Proud historic reminders. Everywhere I looked, it seemed an eye-catching explosion of creativity. I had been forewarned but I’m not sure anything can prepare you for Fusterlandia. The artistic wonderland is certainly not something I expected to encounter when I arrived in Havana. “Some people thought he was crazy,” tour guide Isora said. “People were going hungry when he started doing this. And here he is building houses.” …

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Celestyal Crystal Cuba Cruise: Cuban cuisine a cruise delight

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – I’ll admit it. One of the things I enjoy most on a cruise is getting to try various foods.  Even a standard steak can taste different according to which chef created the recipe. Choosing from so many tempting menu items can be difficult but the Celestyal Crystal has a dinner option that makes my choices so much easier. Called Chef’s Specialty, the dish is Cuban inspired with a bit of background information …

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Celestyal Crystal Cruise: Cuban culture saluted in ship shows

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – They danced. They sang. They did amazing acrobatic maneuvers. The Celesytal Crystal entertainment team is really good. Usually, smaller ships have smaller entertainments offerings. That is fine. I’ve enjoyed many small ship cruises where the evening program was a singer and a guitarist or a singer who was a guitarist. Or sometimes a duo would be brought aboard from the place where we were docked. But the Crystal has a talented dance …

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Celestyal Crystal Cruise: Small ship offers big ship comforts

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – After years of traveling, I’ve stayed in many different accommodations. But my cabin aboard the Celestyal Crystal has a feature I have never seen before. My room has twin beds. Across from the beds is a large full-length mirror. Next to the mirror is a curtain on an aluminum rod to pull across the mirror to hide it. Each evening at turndown, the cabin attendant draws that curtain, leaves a towel creation …

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Celestyal Crystal Cruise: Touring Santiago de Cuba, drinking mojitos, seeing Revolution Square

ABOARD THE CELESTYAL CRYSTAL – Hearing the loud clank of the metal cell door slamming shut sent chills down my spine. Being locked in this Cuban prison must have been a living hell. Or a death sentence. Today is a busy itinerary in Santiago de Cuba on our Celestyal Crystal cruise. So much to see and do. Tour guide Ricardo is a wealth of information and his English is excellent. I know that I am going to …

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