I am a first time cruiser and was a bit leery after reading many negative reviews. I had a great time, and will certainly cruise again. I was worried that I was going to get sea-sick, but didn't. It took a day or so for me to get my sea legs. What was worse, though, was after the cruise. It took three days to stop feeling like the floor was occasionally rolling out from under me. It was worth it though.
Embarkation was quick and smooth. Arrived around 12pm and checked my bag curbside. I was on-board with a drink in my hand by 12:30pm. No problems at all.
Went to my room about 2pm and it was ready. I'm so glad I splurged for a balcony - I can't imagine not having one. The safety drill before we left was quick and painless enough (it took probably a half hour or so). I stood on my balcony for the great view of NYC while leaving port. It was awesome.
The room Steward, Ronald, was very good - attentive enough, but not too attentive. And he made great towel-animals.
The food, overall, was great. The buffet was the easiest, and the food was good enough. The sit-down dining room had excellent food and service. And it was actually fun to sit with strangers. The best food, though, was at the Steakhouse. It was the best dining experience I've had in years (and I go out to eat a lot). The service was exceptional, and the food was even better. It is certainly worth the extra $35 to eat there. We brought our own bottle of wine on-board with us for the steakhouse. I definitely recommend eating there.
St. John was a nice enough place. We didn't do any excursions, but walked around (and got Starbucks). Bought a t-shirt. It was nice to get off the ship for a few hours.
There was always something to do on-board. Be sure to read the daily bulletin. There's even a perforated section listing all the events so you can carry it around in your pocket. I had hoped for a relaxing getaway, but there was so much to do that I needed a vacation from my vacation when I got home. I got much less sleep on-board than I anticipated (it was a good thing). I had read reviews about how some people were bored on the ship. Sure, any stick-in-the-mud could be bored - - but we were sure to take advantage the happenings on-board: played bingo (and won $100!), played miniature golf, went on the water slide, drank tropical drinks poolside, won some money in the casino, saw a comedian, sang karaoke, played an 80's music trivia game (and won!). I even called in while watching the live morning show to answer a riddle. I got it right and a bottle of champagne was sent to my room that night along with a shop trophy (or as some call it, a "ship on a stick"). These are just some of the things I did while on the cruise. Good times. Yes, some of the live entertainment was a bit cheesy, but what do you expect?! Oh, and I thought the ship was going to be crowded. There were lots of people, but I was always able to find a space - whether poolside or at the roulette table.
Disembarkation didn't go as smoothly as embarkation, but it wasn't so bad. Waited on line to exit for probably about 40 minutes. I recommend self-assist disembarkation if you can swing it. It means that you take your own luggage with you and don't check anything. The customs guy was a little bit of a jerk - probably because I didn't have a passport - instead I had my birth certificate and drivers license. He quizzed me about where I was born and how much I weighed... but it wasn't so much of a hassle at all.
Overall, I had an awesome time and I look forward to booking my next cruise - hopefully to a more tropical place than Canada. This was a short "test cruise" to see if I liked it. I did. A lot. And I plan to cruise again soon.