Panorama (48 passenger maximum) may be the first small ship in Cuba; this was its first season and rumor has it that it will return next year. Avalon Cruises contracted with Group IST in New York to provide U.S. approved People to People trips to Cuba for American Citizens who have not previously been able to travel there. Off-ship activities were arranged by Group IST. Most People to People tours are land-based, so this one was unique, and since it was on a small ship, activities included beach time, snorkeling, and beach barbeques. Ship provided masks, fins, and snorkels, but receiving the stuff was not handled efficiently with everybody grabbing for equipment at once as we were about to leave the ship. Equipment to be loaned could have been assigned leisurely earlier in the week to avoid the chaos. On board, the service was excellent, even elegant at dinner. Unfortunately, the food did not match. The chef managed to cook fish, chicken, and beef to cardboard consistency. Best meals we had were at restaurants off ship. The ship was a bit careless in not keeping track of its passengers; it was the ship's responsibility to provide a list of passengers to the Havana port officials who checked each passenger's passport against the list provided. Names were there for three people who canceled the trip at the last minute, but the names of three passengers who were actually there were not on the list, which caused a 40-minute delay when we tried to leave the ship in Havana. We were assured that the ship would accept credit cards, but when it came time to pay, the hotel manager would not accept cards without raised numbers. The newest cards don't have raised numbers, and passengers who tried to use them had not been made aware that theirs would not be accepted, which caused grief for some people who were low on cash.
Category A cabin is spacious and comfortable, with a queen-sized bed. Plenty of drawer and closet space and room to store soft luggage under the bed. Sufficient electrical outlets to charge devices and cameras. A bar of soap was provided; hand soap and shower soap were in dispensers. I missed the amenities I've enjoyed on other luxury cruises (shampoo, conditioner, body lotion). Daily cabin service was efficient and fresh towels were provided when requested. Laundry service was also available.