I am 54 and have never been on a cruise until this year. My one ship experience in childhood crossing the Atlantic from Italy to New York on a military move ended any desire to board a ship again, when there was stable ground to be vacationed upon. But my elderly parents thought it would be nice to bring the far flung offspring and grandchildren together, and we all agreed that this cruise offered the most varied and interesting destinations.
First of all, to my relief there weren't any problems with seasickness as the cruise generally stays in calmer waters. The cabin and ship were kept very clean. Although casinos, art auctions and dance shows are not my areas of interest, I could read, use the exercise facilities and enjoy the deck. We also took advantage of convenient spa services with very nice spa employees. The food was fine. I am not a big meat eater and always had several acceptable choices on the menu, although at times I longed to break free of the dining room and have dinner at the upper deck buffet, but the group dynamics didn't allow for that.
We tried to set up as many day trips as possible directly with the providers prior to boarding the ship. In general, they were all enjoyable and successful. The standouts were the hike to Middleham Falls in Domenica led by Beno Pascal and a day pass at Hawksbill Resort on Antigua.
We had a group of nine for the hike. Beno gave detailed instructions how to find him, was parked to get out of downtown quickly, told us many interesting facts about the island and took us to great vantage points. The hike itself is spectacular. The terrain is rugged and can be slippery, so wear shoes with good traction and be careful. Our group agreed that this tour gave us a good sense of the island as well as great exercise. I brought trail mix bars that kept us going through the excursion. Beno is a very nice and capable guide, whom I would highly recommend. I called him directly to set up the tour.
The Hawksbill resort on Antigua is not fancy, but it has beautiful beaches, an accommodating staff and an excellent lunch of local fare. Our entire group of 14 spent the day there.
My brothers and nephew took a behind the scenes tour of the ship, which was offered on one half-day. They really enjoyed it and came back with a lot of interesting information about what it's like to sail and work on a big liner.
For family reunion purposes, with people ranging from 14 to 92, this cruise was a real hit. As a first-time cruiser, I especially appreciated that we reached land every day. I thought it was a good value.