We selected this ship because of its size, and, having lived in Southwest Florida for a number of years, we sought to encounter different cultures and meet people from all over.This ship, with its European ownership and customer base promised that. We had no pre-conceptions or expectations. I have to say that from embarkation to debarkation we were pleased at how these folks really have their act together. My wife has a food allergy and we were concerned that she would have difficulty with ordering or in having to explain to the staff. Not to worry! The head waiter in the L'Ippocampo dining room personally supervised menu selection each evening, and made us feel like VIP's. What a treat. We selected a balcony suite and loved it. It was tastefully decorated in a soft cranberry and gold with a LOT of storage and a killer shower. Plus, we loved coming back to the peace of our cabin for reading or, OK we admit it, an afternoon nap. Food was good. We had breakfast in both the buffet, and later in the dining room on deck 6. One thing I did notice is that the breakfast buffet offered baked beans and lunch meat (mortadella,salami,etc.)as well as the usual eggs, fruit, etc.. To our American tastes that was a little strange, but we did see fellow cruisers enjoying it. We were really impressed with the entertainment, and felt like we were going to eat at a 4 star restaurant which was followed by a Broadway show. Every Night. Wow. We tended to hang out in L'Atmosphere for drinks,and it did tend to fill up . The "entertainment team" was bright, bubbly, fun and energetic. They seemed to be able to go from morning to night featuring endless pool side activities and dance contests, as well as evening events. All the key officers and staff are Italian, with mostly Indonesian wait staff. On this cruise we were blessed with good weather, and we brought home the sunburns to prove it. We did have two nights with rough seas, but with the stabilizers on this ship we hardly felt it. We had three gala dinners, and a smashing midnight buffet. On the final gala dinner, they turned the lights down and all the wait staff came in with Baked Alaska. It was really stunning. One of our friends commented on the lack of a free ice cream bar, and that was true. Would I have liked that? 'yes, i guess. But since neither of us is big into ice cream we didn't really miss it.
Tenth deck suite on the port side a little aft of midships. Generally very quiet, except we could hear music from the pool-side activities on the balcony occasionally. Mattress was firm and we liked it.
One tip-watch your step going into the bathroom as it is a step up. My wife tripped twice going in and I tripped once going out. There are visible "Watch your step" signs, however.
San Juan featured some very old, historical buildings and churches. Though it was not our favorite port, we enjoyed walking around Old San Juan, seeing the cathedral and hearing the mass performed in Spanish.
We LOVED St.Maarten. Since we are beach people, we didn't even get over to the French side, but rather boarded the water taxi to the Great Bay Beach in Phillipsburg, where we met "Louie" who rented us beach-side chaise lounges. We pretty much were in heaven, remained in Phillipsburg, where we had lunch on shore, and barely mad it back to the ship on time. We particularly liked the female shirt vendors that were patrolling the beach and selling tropical shirts, and hats. Bargaining with them was half the fun of being there.
Saint Lucia is often featured on a lot of Caribbean advertising, and we did, indeed, see the twin pitons. They are, indeed, impressive. We booked a tour that left Castries by catamaran to the pitons, Marigot Bay and a stop for some swimming and snorkeling. The water was a little cold but clear and we were impressed by the beautiful harbor that was Marigot Bay. We stopped off briefly in Soufriere and were treated to on-board rum drinks that cost a dollar (US) but were excellent. We did save quite a bit by avoiding the ship sponsored tour and joining this one privately. The guide was very aware of the ship time and got us back to port in plenty of time.
We spent only a little time ashore in St. John's and didn't book any tours. Unfortunately, when we were there, the Bank of Antigua had declared insolvency and we were able to witness the lines of those poor people trying to get into the bank so they could hope to retrieve some of their money. We did, however, succeed in seeing the magnificent cathedral of St.John the Divine, which is at a high point in the town.
We loved Tortola. On this island we boarded a taxi at the cost of six dollars each and went over the "hill" to the beach at Cane Garden Bay. What a great beach! It had bar-stands avery 30 yards or so, and we had an opportunity to enjoy a "painkiller" the island's own rum drink. The surf was a little high, but the water beautiful. The beach was not as crowded as we expected at first, and we would undoubtedly go back. Getting there is a bit harrowing, as the roads are narrow, and i would swear at one point they go straight up! It helps to have a local driver. The photo opportunities from the top are sensational. Roadtown is great for stopping, and we couldn't miss stopping at Pusser's, where they sell quality shirts, their famous rum and other fun things. Also, they have a tavern/restaurant for lunch.