Paradise Islands cruise - St Marteen and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts, Antiqua, St Vincent and Barbados.
The ship was amazing. It still has the smell of fresh carpets. It is immaculately clean. Hand sanitisers all over too.
We were surprised at the number of staff on-board - there is someone to tend to your every need.
Getting off the ship and finding something to do is really easy, there are local buses in all of the ports and the islands are easy to see with some imagination - you do not need to take the ships excursions if you do not want to. Try getting hold of the lonely planet for the Caribbean if you want to do more than slob around on deck boozing or explore the port towns.
The ship looks like a ship, not a floating hotel. It has a class and elegance that the enormous ships we were parked next to at some ports simply lack. Lovely atmosphere on board! Lovely outdoor decks.
So All Inclusive - well we were expecting really basic British buffet boring food - what a surprise though. The two full service sit down restaurants were amazing on reflection. The choice and menus changed, the staff were amazing and the menus really different. Just like a modern bistros really. We were delighted with the quality too. There were a couple of slightly strange dishes, but on the whole we enjoyed everything - we are not fussy and love cooking and eating out. And the waiters were brilliant with fast, keen, attentive service. People forget that these guys are mass catering, and they likely pick up produce once a week in Barbados - so we didn't expect too much, but honestly it was great. The wine (especially the Merlot and Pinot) were perfect. Breakfast specials better than the full English!
All inc drinks - branded spirits, lovely cocktails, Corona beer, cava and prosecco - we really did not feel the need to upgrade to the premium package, but if you want to have something nicer its a small supplement of £2.50. Perfect. Bottled water was £1.40 (sparking or still) but there were water stations around the ship to fill up bottles. Better for the environment. Perfect for us, and we bought water locally in supermarkets on the shore too to bring back on board.
St Marteen and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands - these are fab islands. You can see through the devastation of Hurricane Irma, you can chat to the locals about their experiences and sympathise with their losses. The Island folk loved having us there and saw that Marella were ethical and responsible in coming back soon. Some folk on board really need to understand that our being there mattered.
Biggest problem for us - Some of the other Brits. They love to moan, groan and winge. The cruise was not expensive compared to others, it was most certainly all inc and we were looked after from the moment we checked in at Manchester airport - mollycoddled all the way and home again- you did not have to use your brain once on-board (apart from the quiz!). The level of organisation is remarkable.
For example, our bags were checked in at Manchester, and when we landed we boarded a coach straight to the ship from the apron. We did not even clear passport control or immigration. Our bags were by our cabins an hour or so later!
Dreamliner flights both ways. Full service long haul airline, bang on time. Perfect.
Staff on the boat - Ill say it again, brilliant.
Entertainment - varied. if you are bored read a book or chat to someone! We loved the bar on Deck 11 in the eve - so chic!
We had a lovely time! Thank you to everyone on board.
The cabin... Our house made was lovely. The cabin was immaculate, sea view, and we loved returning from dinner to a freshly turned bed with chocs on top! What a treat! Yorkshire Tea bags in our room too - It is clear they are not scrimping or penny pinching like others have said or we would have cheap tea.
One day air-con stopped working. Fixed by the time we returned with no hassle.