After reading recent reviews, I was a bit hesitant to book this cruise, but it worked for our family's budget and dates. We traveled with our 2 college kids and their finals ended right before we cruised...a perfect way to reunite the family. Being the week before Christmas, the rates were quite low, in our opinion. We always choose inside cabins, as they are budget friendly and dark and cozy...perfect for lots of sleep in the comfy beds. We had cabins next door to each other and we enjoyed the Veranda deck and its proximity to the Lido, movies at night, Serenity deck, etc.
We gathered the kids at school, then got to the port at 11:30am. Quickly unloaded luggage, parked and walked onto the ship...no wait, no zones. This has never happened to us before. What a great start to the cruise. We had a nice leisurely lunch on Lido and waited to get to our rooms around 1:30pm. They were clean and all looked good. We relaxed a bit, got ourselves organized and then had the muster drill, quick and easy. Then the luggage arrived, unpacked and dinner at 6pm. We hit the lottery with our waiters...a trio of fantastic men from the Phillippines. Deori was our headwaiter and his assistants were Domingo and Triana. They knew our names after initial introduction and called us each by name all week. They were terrific, friendly, attentive to our likes/dislikes and made the meals all week a delight. After ordering iced tea the first night, we had iced tea within a minute of us sitting down each evening. They were really outstanding. We found the food to be really good. Not sure why everyone complains...plenty of choices and very delicious.
We did not really do the shows, lounges, etc. We needed a very relaxed week after a difficult year. We saw the comedians and enjoyed them, donated some money in the casino, and enjoyed a few movies on the deck at night.
During the day, we could always be found on the Serenity deck and there were always available chairs, lounges, etc. The people up there were so polite and if they got up for a bit, they took their belongings with them and this allowed for others to relax. We witnessed no chair hogs and there was an attendant there making sure that no children entered the area. They also served a few salads and light fare up there and there was always ice water to be had. Peaceful and quiet and relaxing...true serenity.
The ports were lovely...St. Thomas was very familiar to us, but we did a snorkel catamaran tour with Carnival and enjoyed it very much. Barefoot Catamaran I think it was called...anyway, very fun and yummy rum punch after snorkeling. Very safety conscious crew. Nassau is just not our cup of tea...too many ships in port, too many crowds...Tortola was really Virgin Gorda for us. One of our CC rollcall members organized a group with Dion on speedboats to go to Virgin Gorda to see the Baths. We had a super time and she did a great job organizing us. The Baths are incredible. Antigua was a nice day as well. We went by taxi to Valley Church Beach, which is as pretty as a postcard. We arranged for jetskis for the kids and they had a blast.
Departure was smooth...found our luggage, got a porter and we were on our way home by 9:30am. No vacation is perfect, but this was as close to flawless as I have experienced.