This is our first time cruising the southern Caribbean. We've previously done larger ships (Voyager, Freedom) on the Western Caribbean routes. This was a great relaxed cruise and everything we expected from a smaller cruise (both good and bad).
Unlike the other reviewer, our embarkation process was easy - we got there about 1pm which probably helped. Disembarkation was slow, so I can see how this port gets clogged.
This was the first dining experience where we wanted to come back to the main dining. Our waitstaff were unbelievably good - practically mind readers - entertaining and attentive. Food in the windjammer was better than past cruises - generally decent fare when we ate there.
The cabin attendant was equally attentive, as were the spa staff and the security staff.
On board we only found it to be crowded if there was a giveaway happening (they don't have many places to do events, so they tend to hold them in hallways!). We chose to skip a couple of the ports (St. Croix and Antigua) and took advantage of a completely empty boat.
A few things bugged us compared with previous cruises. I suspect that in certain roles, the more talented staff go to the bigger ships. Which would explain the following observations:
First was the shopping guide who seemed to be more interested in the perks of the job than getting her spiel down (her presentations ran long), helping in port (she was often nowhere to be found when the planner said she would be there).
Second, the cruise activities staff were abysmal. The bingo person didn't have a clue how to run bingo - When two people called bingo at the same time on the "win a cruise" bingo, she seemed to be making the rules up as she went along which clearly frustrated the two potential winners. I suspect the reason why many bingo sessions only had one game was to reduce the risk of her screwing something up and starting a riot on board. There were two other event staff that ran competitions and quizzes on board. One was excellent, the other had the personality of a rock - quiz time was like taking a final exam in school!
Third, the entertainment was mediocre at best. The only show I stayed all the way through was the comedian. The shows were like high school productions and the tribute to Elton John, while generally well sung, was like what would happen if you asked the head of the Elton John fan club to put on a show and intersperse narration between every third song as if he were reading text from the Elton John Wikipedia entry. But there was often something else going on at the same time (such as baseball games - though for some reason they didn't have the ALCS games) - we weren't too disappointed to walk out.
We've still yet to figure out the logic of shore excursions. We did a Segway tour in St. Lucia that is supposed to be a top rated excursion. But I guess they had too many groups sharing the same beach, so they gave us the most uninspired guided tour of the island in a crowded bus to kill time until the beach freed up. Luck of the draw, I guess.
One final complaint. The internet on board has apparently not improved in 10 years. They charge an arm and a leg to browse the internet at dial up speeds on Internet Explorer 6 (They do give you an option to chat using ICQ or AOL instant messenger if you'd prefer!) Ironically, the speed of the pricey cellular-at-sea cellphone data service is actually reasonable, so you might want to weigh and balance your options.
I complained about a lot of things here. But I'd bore myself to death if I wrote all about the excellent service in Chops Grille, the quietness of the solarium, the excitement of finding that the sesame granola bars were resting on a layer of chocolate... so you're stuck with a negative review of an overall excellent experience.