New first-time cruiser and first-time poster here! I've been reading a lot, but every time I think I've narrowed down my selection, I find a few reviews that steer me away. So would appreciate some advice.
It's just my husband (mid-40's) and me (early-50's) and we have no children. We would like a fairly luxurious or elegant experience, but not formal or stuffy, if that makes sense. I would never get my husband on a cruise if he were expected to where a tux, or even a tie, for dinner. We prefer resort casual or business casual - it's ok with a sport jacket and open shirt for him, nice trousers / blouse / jacket for me.
I believe we'd prefer a smaller ship, no fixed dining times or fixed seat-mates, and the ability to eat when we want and at a table for two if desired (outdoors preferred if weather permits). All-inclusive appeals, but some of the reviews have implied that it isn't always what it's cracked up to be for a variety of reasons.
Originally I thought we would have to have a balcony, but some of the cruise lines I've narrowed down to (based on reading here) don't offer balconies so I'm not sure if we need to re-think.
First-time destination could be western Mediterranean, Caribbean or Scandinavia (primarily interested in Norwegian fjords except for concerns about the weather).
Based on information here on CruiseCritic and Fodor's descriptions, I thought that Regent Seven Seas would fit the bill, but some of the reviews are less than favorable. Then I started looking at SeaDream, Windstar or StarClippers (my husband loves to sail and we have a sailing boat), but the lack of balconies were a concern, and some recent SeaDream reviews were again a bit of concern. Also, we can sail our own boat, so not sure we need to go for the sailing experience that Windstar and StarClippers offer. And the size of the cabins on those ships sound really cramped. Also considering Silversea or maybe Seabourn but those sound more formal with older crowd?
I don't think we'd enjoy a massive ship with over 1,000 passengers, nor queueing to get on and off board at ports. We don't need a bunch of ship board entertainment, but would enjoy exploring destinations - so would like to be somewhere in port most days where we would enjoy walking and exploring the area. While on board, I can imagine we'd enjoy relaxing and reading in comfort.