We traveled as a group of 11 for this cruise with a total of four staterooms. Our party consisted of 5 adults, two 23 year olds, a 14 year old, two 11 year olds and a 9 year old.
Embarkation: We ignored emails to arrive at 1:30PM and arrived at around 11:15AM as originally planned. We dropped off our luggage with the porters, parked the car and headed on board. There were hardly any lines for security and since we were staying in suites and had VIP check in walked right up to check in and were on our way. Short line waiting to board the actual ship but no hassle.
Cabin: We had on Ocean Suite for this cruise. It was spacious and had more than enough storage and closet space for two people. The extra vanity space outside the bathroom was great when we were both trying to get ready for dinner at the same time. Our party had three suites next door to each other so we asked to have our balconies opened to make one giant balcony and it was a great place for our group to have pre dinner drinks and hang out during sail aways. However, this was my 6th cruise and for the first time our cabin steward never came by to introduce himself. He did a great job keeping our room clean but even on the last day when we were leaving, I wouldn't have known him if I walked by him in the hallway and we didn't even know his name. Found this odd.
Dining: The food on this cruise was pretty average. We did eat in the steakhouse one night and most of our party felt it was well worth the extra fee. We had anytime dining in the Golden Restaurant and as a party of 11 only ever had to wait for them to put some tables together to make a larger table for us. Being such a big party, we were seated in a different area of the dining room, with a different waiter, every night. Two of the nights our wait staff was great and two of the nights they were pretty disorganized. Most of us ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido buffet. The buffet often went unreplenished after food was gone and the waitstaff would step in the way of guests in an effort to clean the buffets. We had breakfast in the Platinum dining room one morning where the hostess was very rude to guests. After being seated we waited for 20 minutes before a waiter approached our table and when he did he was extremely rude to us telling us to "hurry up and order because the kitchen is closing." The reviews are right: have the warm chocolate melting cake in the dining rooms; some in our party ordered it every night.
Entertainment: We had high hopes for the entertainment on this cruise after having spent our last cruise with Holland America who are definitely not known for catering to the younger crowd. Overall, we were disappointed. The activities at night were limited if you didn't want to attend the big show. The comedy shows were good and we enjoyed those. The activities during the day seemed limited and not varied at all. We played several rounds of trivia but it was really geared to an older crowd and the kids with us were bored and frustrated that they couldn't really participate. There also seemed to be a lot of entertainment scheduled that was 18+, even karaoke after a certain time. We found this frustrating since we had so many kids.
Ports: I had never been to either of the ports on this trip: St. John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. We really enjoyed both ports. In St. John we bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus and took it to the Reversing Falls, which were kind of anticlimactic. We took it back into the city and visited the Imperial Theater, Firefighter's Museum and Trinity Church which were all cool to see. The weather was nice and we ate lunch at Market Square before doing some shopping and getting back on the boat. We opted not to book an excursion in Halifax. Instead we ventured off on our own and walked up the hill to the Halifax Citadel before grabbing some lunch back down by the water and stopping into the Maritime Museum to see the Titanic exhibit. It rained our day in Halifax but what can you do?
Overall, this was the worst cruise I've been on. The cruise director and cruise staff were hardly ever around and while we had no trouble entertaining ourselves being such a large group, we were left wanting more from the planned activities. I've definitely had better dining experiences on other ships and experienced much more enjoyable and friendlier staff on other lines.