We chose this cruise for its itinerary, excursions and the outstanding service and cuisine, and the excellent reputation of its staff. The fare includes all food and beverage (alcoholic or non) and tips. The only additional expenses on board are excursions, boutique merchandise, premium wines/spirit, or avail of their spa services (massage/beauty salon).
The embarkation was excellent as there were no crowds with only 112 guests on board. No lines to speak of. When you board the ship, you are greeted by the captain and the staff and a glass of champagne, escorted to the lounge for some more drinks and refreshments, to sit and relax. Registration is by party, and a staff will escort you to the concierge area where you are handed your sea pass. No lines to stand in. After this is all done, a cabin stewardess will escort you to your room where your luggage would most probably be waiting for you by the door. She will then go through the room amenities and give you the day's schedule. You can unpack and then go have a tour of the ship or book your excursions or have a drink and hang out at the pool.
This cruise is not for everyone - It seems to be designed for the active travelers - young or old. There are no kids clubs, photographers or staff constantly selling you things. Entertainment is minimal - a guitarist and pianist, a 1 table casino, library, an 18 hole golf simulator, and an extensive collection of DVD that you can watch in your cabin. The concierge would even make pop corn and bring it to your room.
Excursions are beach, bike, hike, snorkel or scuba diving, or you can get off the ship and do your own excursion arrangements ashore. Usually there are 2 ports per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. As several ports do no have docks, you have to be tendered in using one or two of the lifeboats, or by zodiak if you are going straight to the beach.
Dining is usually on the Deck 5 and 6 and is open air, except for a couple of nights when both open air and the formal dining room on deck 2 is open. Food is excellent with extensive vegan options. The chef will make adjustments according to your requests, or would prepare a specific dish that you request if you give them a days notice. Only a few dishes are prepared in advance as most are cooked to order. Meals consist of breakfast, lunch, afternoon cocktails and dinner. You can also order from the room service menu any time day or night. Special occassions like birthdays or anniversaries are noted ahead of time and you will probably get serenaded by the staff or a staff member, with a cake and card signed by the captain. They will decorate your room with balloons and another special note from your cabin stewardess.
The staff is always on the constant lookout for anything to satisfy your requests, and most of the time would anticipate it without waiting for you to ask for it. They call each guest by name - it might take a day or so, but they go through the guest list with pictures.
The attire is informal until 6:30 pm where they recommend you get into a casual getup (proper shoes and long pants for the gents, no shorts/bathing attire for the ladies) however several guests seem to prefer to dress up a little (Dress for the ladies, jackets for the gents) as this is the start of the cocktails leading into dinner but you wouldn't be out of place in a polo/golf or hawaiian shirt.
The on board atmosphere is more like a family get together as the staff always keeps you engaged, not because it is their job but because they truly care. A large majority of the passengers are repeat cruisers and are quite proud to share their onboard experiences with you.
Disembarkation was a little sad as you are leaving newly found friends, but a lot of them have already made plans for the next cruise, and if you have as well, chances are you might see the same faces - guests and staff - welcome you back on board.
There was no rush to get off the ship except for those that have a flight to catch, and with only 112 guest, there was no line to speak of. Going through immigrations was smooth and the taxi line was waiting outside. We were off the ship and at the airport in 20 minutes.
The ship is old and there might be signs of paint touch-up or repairs however everything is clean and in working order. Everyone except for the few suites have the same layout, and all have an ocean view - there are no balconies but deck 3 and 4 in the back, and 5 and 6 from back to front is one big balcony and only a short walf from the cabin.
The bed is firm but not hard and has comforters. The pillows (several of them) vary from very soft to medium so you can arrange it to your liking.
The mini bar is stocked with soft drinks, and beer, and I believe any other beverage that you prefer if you made your request ahead of time - no extra fee.
Several storage shelves, drawers, cabinets and wardrobes are available and also has a writing desk, tv, a mirror/dresser, sofa and chair. There is a drape that could be drawn to darken the room, and another drape to divide the bed from the sitting area. The bathroom has a shower and sink with mirror, and bulgari amenities.
This excursion is free and included. This is where the caviar splash party takes place.
Island of extremes - steep roads hugging the side of mountains. Shortest commercial airport runway in the world.
Went ashore just to walk around, have coffee and relax.