I investigated HALs share program several yrs. ago due to their excellent long itins.I reached a sympathetic agent who really explained the program as a giant RIPOFF, as OP has said. She said I may end up as a caretaker for an elderly female. Families have been known to use the share as a service for relatives who still love to cruise. Since then I went on a 14N HAL inCaribbean. It was filled with elderly cruisers most over 75. The longer the cruise the older the cruisers. Food was geared towards this age group, awful. Go with a younger focused cruise line. Both Royal and Celebrity go over to Australia and back. I am planning on Celebrity Solstice 2013 Fall with a lady I met on this site. We will book later as fares come down.Both have a more diverse passenger base.Keep posting on this site for CruiseMate.