My husband and I have just returned from the 5-night New England sailing. This was our 3rd cruise and our 1st on Royal Caribbean. We are 29 years old. My husband is a physician and I am a pharmacist.
We arrived in NYC on Oct 2 to do the 24 hr power visit. We had a lovely room at the Park Lane. It was very rainy and messy upon landing but when we woke up on Sun morning it was wonderfully brisk just what you would expect of fall in NY.
We negotiated our cab ride to Bayonne for $80. The brochures say no boarding until 6pm but we took a chance and arrived at 4pm. No problems. It took all of 10 min for embarkation. Upon boarding, we found that many people had boarded much earlier.
We had to plan this trip at the last minute due to the recent hurricanes and were lucky to get one of the last balcony cabins available thanks to our wonderful travel agent. (We were supposed to be in Destin.) Our cabin was 6304 - a handicap accessible cabin which was very spacious. The only part of the cabin that was obviously handicap accessible was the bathroom, which had the usual amenities plus a wonderfully large shower. Our cabin attendant was Lola, originally from Jamaica. She greeted us soon after boarding. She would pass us frequently in the hallway, always with a warm greeting and smile. We could always tell she had been in our cabin from her mark of tidiness, frequent fresh linens, and crisply turned down covers at night (not to mention the great towel animals). She even rescued my husband and our room one evening. He opened our balcony door during near gale force winds blowing many things out of our room into the hall including the blankets from our bed!
We were seated in the Carmen dining room (1st of 3 floors) during second seating for our meals. Our waiter was Vinod (Vinny) from India and assistant waiter was Rohan from Jamaica. They were spectacular. They always remembered our names, items we always ordered, and they way we liked our food cooked. We never had to ask for anything as it was always offered or even brought in anticipation. All of the food was excellent but we usually tried to order most of the recommendations of Vinny that were always right on the money. They had a great selection for each course of the meal. The presentation and taste of the food was perfect and the portion sizes were so large that even my husband could not finish them. The dining room itself was very elegant consisting mainly of brass, dark polished wood, and glass. Throughout the meal one or more people would play music from the balcony on the third floor of the magnificent staircase occupying the far end of the dining room. We were seated at a six-person table however we never had the pleasure of dining with any other the passengers scheduled to eat with us. For some reason this has occurred on each of our cruises.
The entertainment was mediocre. The Ice Jammin' show and the musical review were great however most of the shows were adult oriented comedians held late at night which is not our idea of fun. The promenade shops were the typical cruise ship stores with the usual over priced yet duty free merchandise. The shopping talk was pitiful to say the least. Not much shopping in this area.
Ports of Call:
St. John, New Brunswick, Canada - With a population of 80,000 we felt this was the diamond in the rough of our trip. We took the sightseeing highlight tour of the city stopping at all of the major attractions of the city including the Reversing Falls, the city market, and a fort. This is not the fast paced exciting port-of-call found on many cruises. This very quaint maritime town however is rich in history and kept warm with its friendly people and beautiful flowers. We were expecting a rainbow of fall foliage only to find vibrant flowers and green trees. Apparently, maritime Canada has had quite a warm and dry fall and so the landscape was still very summer-like. This led us to learn that St. John is frequently the winner or close second in a yearly city in bloom competition. It is amazing the amount of pride the residents, including children, take in their picturesque city. Many of the flowers in the parks and along the boulevards were either planted or at least started from seed by children in elementary school and high school. The city market was a center of activity for many of the cruise passengers from our ship and the Princess Cruise Line Regal Princess. Here you could find everything from hand knit wool socks to smoked fish to fresh vegetables to the very fishy tasting dried seaweed snack dulse (or something like that). You can get a free sample in the city market. The taste lingers much longer than your wait in line for a small piece of this St. John delicacy. For lunch, we headed to Steamers Lobster Company that is across the street from the cruise terminal. The food is delivered right from the boats and cooked fresh. The lobster, snow crab, and mussels were all delicious.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - This city is more modern than St. John. Again we chose the highlight tour on a hop on/hop off double-decker bus. This served as both a good tour and a convenient means of transportation around the city. Halifax is notable as the final resting place for many of the passengers who died on the Titanic. We went to the Atlantic Maritime Museum, which boasts about a large Titanic display. It was good but not all that large. It has a pretty good movie about the undersea exploration of the Titanic. We visited many of the downtown shops many of which sell handmade crafts and artwork. For lunch, we went to the 5 Fisherman. The lobster roll and oyster po-boy are excellent. The restaurant itself is beautiful with a slight feel of the New Orleans French Quarter.
What to pack - You definitely need to plan to dress in layers. New York was brisk but once you are on the ship, the wind on deck can become quite strong and quite cold when it is blowing off the water. Most days the temperature would reach a high in the mid 50s or low 60s (in the sun and out of the wind) and the low down to the 40s and even 30s (again, out of the wind). The wind would gust upwards of 20 miles per hour and even faster if you were on deck with the ship moving. (You should really try out the hot tub in this weather.) It can feel much colder than it really is. We were always warm and cozy in our cabin however. Many of the excursions recommend a raincoat and an extra set of clothing to change into following the tour, as you typically will get wet.
Please understand this is just our review. We had a great time. We would go again. This cruise is much different than a normal warm weather cruise. All of the activities are centered inside. Many people on our boat were complaining of this or that. I will say I think my husband and I are easy to please. If we were not on vacation, we would be at work so why not have fun? We eat hospital food a great deal of the time so we may not be the best judges in food. Yes, the ship does show its age but that did not keep us from enjoying ourselves. We found this to be a wonderful vacation. We would recommend it to anyone looking for a week of peaceful relaxation.