Saying goodbye to your luggage at Birmingham is the start to our holiday as you wont see them again until you enter your cabin on the "Celebration" in beautiful Barbados. As first time cruisers we chose this particular trip as being a smaller boat it can get into ports and islands restricted to the larger boats, it worked perfectly for us.
The ship is older than others but very stable and looks like a boat unlike the larger liners that resemble large blocks of flats, we loved the quirkiness of it and the size (still large enough to get lost".)
Our cabin was ideal for us as we were rarely there, choosing to be on the islands or in the bars/on deck outside etc. The cabins are cleaned morning and afternoon and the beds turned down in the evening, the attention to detail is excellent and "Munir" worked very hard to ensure everything was spotless at all times.
The entertainment took me a few days to get into it, but then I really enjoyed it and we went to all but two of the nights in the Broadway showroom, the "Cameron Classics" being an absolute highlight from the team. The shows run at 8.30pm and 10.30 pm for the later performance, after that it's on to "Liberties" for even more fun late into the night with "Protege" (What a fantastic band) great musicians,very tight and such a professional sound. Although I wish they wouldn't pretend to do requests, we saw the many times and they just play what's on their list all the time and the request songs never change from week one to two or night to night.
The Cruise Director is "Paul Evans" and he is excellent, always informative and enthusiastic without being over the top, he makes you feel part of the ship and you always know what's going on at all times.
You have two choices for food, the "Meridian" and the "Lido" the latter being the casual restaurant. Both provide really good food with the "Meridian" being the service restaurant, we never waited long and the wine flows well thanks to "Semina" the head Sommelier, if you are on the all inclusive package the house red is very,very good!
The bars are really "Hemingways" on level 5 and "Horizons" at the pointy end on level 9, both are comfortable but difficult getting a seat. Get "Hector" to serve you in "Hemingways" he is excellent and attentive and get's to you as soon as he can after he had acknowledged you are there. There are other outside bars but we rarely used these but service is ok outside and you have to catch the waiters eye, the inside and outside "Lido" serves food all day and evening and has a nice choice and after few too many drinks late at night you will always get a meal.
We spent New years eve at sea and the atmosphere and party was fantastic, champagne was served all round and the dancing went on into the early hours. There were a few sore heads in the morning.
Our recommendation would be to get off the ship at every opportunity, see the islands, do the excursions and mix with the locals they are amazingly friendly. If you do the island tours you will pay a lot less by going private, walk onto the dock and negotiate with the local taxis. We did two excursions with Thomsons, "The Jet skiing on Currascoa"" and "The Rum Runner" on Grenada both great value and an amazing experience but the tours are expensive compared to local rates.
For us it was all about the islands and we were not disappointed, beautiful does not come close to describing the atmosphere,the people,the lifestyle and the scenery. You will miss them when you get back to the UK.
Cruising is a fantastic and comfortable way to see the world, we would recommend going all inclusive as you just relax and have what you want when you want.
Would we go again? A resounding yes! We're already planning the next one for this Xmas coming 2016. Were things perfect? Of course not, but then what is, they were ideal for us as we saw it as a floating hotel with the goal being to see islands that many people never get the chance to see. Thankyou Thomson for helping us do so in a lovely old boat with a lovely crew and a warm and helpful atmosphere, we will miss you guys and will see you again as soon as we can.
Perfect for us. loads of storage and comfortable and clean.