As per info above, i have never "done" a cruise until now....my partner having done dozens decided it was about time i witnessed and indeed enjoyed what everyone was talking about - cruising.
We left a mild birmingham aboard a well full 757 bridgetown bound, she had booked premium seating so the eight hour + flight didn't jar on the nerves too much....
first thing that i found rather daunting was the fact that once you check in at the departure airport, you say turrah to your case until you're actually on board! no waiting at other end for cases to appear from behind that carousel curtain!
The flight out was smooth and unruffled - in fact i have never know 8.5 hrs to pass as quickly....once at barbados, the ehat hit you as you descended the aircraft steps....straight onto a coach to be whisked to the ship....
Once there this is where you went thru customs - very speedy and efficient!!
First thing that struck me was the size of the ship...to a first timer virgin cruiser such as i, its big!!!!
Within mins of getting aboard we'd dumped our bags and were heading back onto the quayside again to barter with a taxi to take us on a whistle stop tour of the isand - this cost us $50 [ equiv to Â£34 approx} and for that we saw a heck of a lot! incl the world famous sandy lane beach just in time for an incredible sunset.
Then it was back to the ship for one of several "sail a ways"
the first night and all following day were at sea en route to our first port of call - Aruba...the beaches here are stunning!
again, rather than do the company trips we went on our own way using the taxi's that throng the portside at each port of call - they wkd out far cheaper than the guided tours....
next stop Curacao, then La isla margarita off the coast of Venezuela - theonly port of which i was disappointed with....next stop was Greeda and then St Lucia - ah these are more like the caribbean i'd dreamt of....
yet again we sourced taxi's for our personal tours seeing much more in a same time and spending remainder of day esconced on a white sandy palm shaded beach with a local beer to sample - bliss!
the entertainment on baord we both found to be quite impressive - the teams worked their collective bums off to entertain and for me, they achieved that and much more...
but for me the stars of the week were the crew themselves - they were absolutely magnificent and their own crew show was incredible - why these stalwarts and hard working always smiling lovely people do what they do when they have other incredible talents is beyond me... take one example - a young lad called kurt... he has an amazing voice and deserves to be recognised by the music world - soon,,,
On the final night you have to have your suitcases placed for collection outside youir room after midnight - thats last you'll see of them until you land back in UK.
Following morning you are requested to present yourselves at immigration [on board ship] and get all your visa's and passports stamped, then the remainder of the day until collection to go to airport is your own - we blagged a taxi and for $5 each and a 5 min cab ride took us to Carlisle bay - where a splendid beach awaits you and numerous wonderful people willing to provide you with bucketfuls of barbados's banks lager in bottles!!!!
you are able to use a courtesy cabin to freshen up in readiness for the journey back home. Once at the airport [no luggage to haul remember!] you are directed thru a seperate lane where your hand luggage etc is put thru a scanner and thats it - you are officially airside!
The return flight was a bit late due to wrong calculations by ground staff - but soon rectified, partway back the turbulence became rough, nothing major, and we landed on time back at birmingham where the jolly cabin staff announced "good morning ladies 7 gentlemen... welcome to birmingham intrernational airport where the local time is five thirty five in the morning and the outside temperature is minus six - at which the entire passenger count could be heard groaning back in barbados!!!
All in all the ship was spot on - the crew magnificent and the cabin suprisingly well appointed and not of the cubby hole dimensions i was fearing...we had no issues at all with the quality of food, the way it was presented and frequency of availability....beer and drinks prices were bit higher than i'd expected.
and i loved the captains gala night!!!
as my title states "i'm well n truly hooked" but like many reviewers agree with the fact that a week in this idyllic location isn't enough so next time it'll be a two weeker..
during the week i shot over 600 pictures and some 6hrs+ of video....
can't wait for next one....!!!