This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and biscuits. The balcony was great to relax on and watch the islands as we sailed away or to watch the sunset. It did not take long to get orientated on the ship. Its best to get to the right lifts before getting to the deck you want, and the carpets are colour coded for forward, midships and aft.
We opted for freedom dining which worked well for getting to the shows. If you wanted to get seated straight away then you shared a table, otherwise there was a wait of no more than 30 mins to get a table for two. We also ate at the Beach House diner, Waterside buffet and Frankies grill. Breakfasts we had in Saffron,and we had room service twice. On every occasion the food was nice and service friendly.
There are plenty of places to have a drink, so its down to what your preference is. We used the Metropolis most, as it was quiet and had good views. Prices are reasonable but cheap booze can be had at most ports of call.
There was plenty of entertainment to pick from. We loved the Headliners shows, as did everyone. These were a medley of song and dance numbers with a different theme for seven shows. They received a much deserved standing ovation on the last night. We also saw an Elvis tribute act (a serious one, i.e. no sideburns or jumpsuit), and a cabaret singer, these were good too. Note: we always arrived early for these shows to get a good seat, this is where the freedom dining paid off. These were the shows we saw, but there was plenty of other things going on to suit all tastes, I think you would struggle to be bored on board. There are four pools to chose from, I used the one at the front near the spa. It was mostly quiet, and has a current that you can swim against.
The main reason for doing this cruise was to sample several islands, rather than be confined to one, so we were apprehensive about the formal nights on sea days. We managed three out of four, the last one we went smart casual and ate at the Beach house diner and watched a show at the Havana. We've not made our minds up about the formal dress code, if we cruise again it would not be an important factor in our choice.
Lastly the journey to the ship from Gatwick was fairly painless, as much as an 8 hour flight can be in cattle class. It was nice to get the luggage delivered to the cabin. Getting through security at the port was OK, especially as we bypassed the queue for the embarkation photo. However going home was a chore as the Thomas Cook flight was 2 hours late, then delayed a further 3 hours due to a technical fault. Still, better than some who had to be put in hotels overnight due to a cancelled flight.