I like how you can customize the length of the game. I didn't concentrate on trading because it was easier to just fight pirates. Trading was boring only due to the fact that if a pirate ship did cross you it didn't force an encounter.
If you do trade, just check the port's goods list. If you bring something to it that isn't on the list, you'll get a premium price. This is good if you can want to earn money fast to buy better ships and/or upgrades.
Fighting other ships builds up War Points (?) which is just another term for research points. You need to research new tech before you can buy it. Once you do buy the tech, you're other ships merely need to purchase the new tech in the upgrade list.
Overall the game play was smooth, the music charming, and engrossing enough for me to sit here for a couple hours.