I am a veteran of many cruises, from Atlantic crossings on the old Italian Line, to the Home Line, to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships, including the Oasis of the Sea. I have brought my children and grandchildren on cruise vacations. I have traveled with groups and with just my wife. We enjoy cruising. This was the first time on a small ship for my wife and me. We traveled with a group of 23 from our Wine Making School. The experience was quite a difference from the larger ships. Mostly good but with a few drawbacks.
We embarked from Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The embarking process was unbelievably simple. We dropped off our luggage about 2 hours prior to boarding time. When we returned, we found no long lines and endless forms to consume an hour or more. Upon presentation of our boarding documents and passports we were ushered into the Grand Salon Lounge for a cocktail party. As we talked and met people, we were called, several families at a time, into the "registration room"/Concierge area, where a friendly staff quickly processed our information, took our photos for sea passes, and had us escorted to our staterooms by a stewardess with our baggage. Painless!
The cabins were first class. They were large, modern and comfortable. As an "all-inclusive," the room bar was available and well stocked. The mandatory Life Boat drill was handled quickly and efficiently. Taking a little time to become familiar with the ship, we were very pleased with the obvious luxury of the appointments and the pride the crew and staff took in maintaining everything and providing excellent service.
The various restaurants were easily reached and all attractive. The cuisine was 5 star all the way. The variety was excellent and the quality of food and presentation was excellent. No chaotic buffet lines here. Even when you selected your own food from the available buffet, a waiter would take the plate from you and escort you to your seat. It became obvious early on that service was a prime goal. By the second day, the crew knew the passengers by name, and addressed you as you entered their areas.
We sat at the pool one day and ordered drinks. The second day the waiter appeared with our drinks without even asking. Enrico, the pianist at the piano bar was excellent. He played a wide variety of music with true virtuosity. Being a pretty decent pianist myself I could appreciate his talent. Plus he is an excellent singer. Zoltan, the chief bartender also worked the piano bar and was the friendliest, most attentive bartender you could ask for. The ship has a complement of mountain bikes, wave runners, snorkel equipment and other land and sea toys that are available for passenger use at no additional charge. The crew numbers 95 while the passengers are 112 if full. That's almost 1:1 attention.
So where are the drawbacks? I do miss the entertainment and shows available on larger ships. The "casino" consisted of 1 blackjack table and dealer, Lori. She was also a friendly person but some slot machines would have been appreciated. Lori and Enrico doubled as the water sports people during the day. Everyone had multiple duties. The port experiences were a bit disappointing. We went to Anguilla, St. Barts, Nevis and St. Kitts, Tortola, Norman Island, White bay, Jost van Dyke. Most of the landings were away from where the larger ships docked and all were by tender. Several stops occurred while the shopping areas were closed as they only open when the large ships are in. All three of the land excursions we attempted to book were cancelled because we did not have the minimum number for participation. The luncheon provided at our last stop was phenomenal. The Concierge should stop making referrals to the Four Seasons in Nevis as they wanted $500 just to use beach lounges and their pool for the day. Right down the beach was Sunshine's who only charged $5 per lounge for the day.
So would I do it again. YES - It all depends on what you are looking for. I would not take my adult children, ages 39, 37 and 30 because there would not be enough action for them. Likewise my 4 grandchildren would be bored. But for adults looking for a restful break, this was ideal. Is it better than the large ships or not as good? Neither. They both serve different purposes. The disembarkation process was also the easiest I have ever experienced. The customs inspectors came right on board. There were no long lines and we were cleared and exited the ship as simply as we boarded. It was a "Sea Dream" experience.
Rowena, our cabin stewardess, was exceptional. She couldn't do enough for us.
Cancelled due to lack of participation
Cancelled due to lack of participation
Participated in luncheon only