Just a background on our cruising: We have been cruising with HAL for the past five years. But have been looking for lines going out of the northeast. Our daughter and SIL gave us this trip and we accompanied them to New England and Canada. We have been in inside and veranda cabins, always went to Caribbean, departed out of NY and Port Everglades, ages 63 & 69, husband has slight mobility limitations.
Embarkation Port: It only took us 2 hours to drive to the port. What a joy rather than hours and layover times in airports. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the boarding was in Baltimore. We drove up to long term parking, paid by credit card ($15/day), pulled to area to drop off bags, and our children left us off at the line to go and check in. The line was getting long and so they spit the line (which put us up front in the new line) and we were on our way. We went through screening which was a breeze, didn't even have to take off our shoes. We had our sea pass done on line so all we had to do is show ID and passport. We were ushered to the gang way which was soooo long and the incline was rather steep. My husband has a cane and the gentleman asked if he wanted an easier way. No ramp, just got on the lower deck and road the elevator to the windjammer. Great experience!
Cabin: We had an inside cabin M (3541) on the 3rd deck, It was slightly smaller than our previous inside cabins; however, there was a small couch and loads of storage in the small space. The makeup vanity had three mirrors with the outside two having small shelves behind the mirror. My luggage is hard cases and didn't fit under the bed, but there was enough room in the closet to store them. Closet had plenty of hangers which is unusual. (I always bring extra wires.) Later I talked to someone who suggested to lift the bed and slide bags under. Never thought of that. Mattress was pretty comfortable. Pillows were good; not too flat and not too hard. Bedding was always looking clean and crisp. Lot's of cabinet space in the bathroom but I always bring my over the door shoe holder. The shower was really small but very doable. Water pressure and temperature was good. We never had any outside noise problem. We were close to the elevators that left us out at the theater entrance and the Windjammer. Our cabin steward, Karla, was great. Kept the cabin clean and always made sure that I had ice to keep my medication cool (no refrig in room).
Dining: We were originally set for the late dining but placed on the wait list. Two weeks before sailing we were confirmed for the main seating at 5:30. When we received our sea pass it was listed as second seating. It took my SIL some time to have them understand that we were confirmed for the main seating. But by around 3:00 PM, we received a note stating that we had a 5:30 seating. It was a nice table just inside the door. Our waiter was Joel and he did an excellent job. He was very attentive and knowledgeable of the new menu. The quality of food was good and the variety was sufficient. The only thing I thought was strange was that they only gave you two ways to have your steaks: med/ rare or med/ well. Medium well came out well and medium rare came out rare. The steaks were tender and tasted good. I would suggest if you want your steak done another way, go to the specialty restaurant. We did not use the Chops restaurant.
We ate breakfast the first morning in the dining room where we asked for a table for two and was ushered to a table for 8. I guess they find it faster and easier to serve a large table rather than several small tables. We did met very nice people who we did socialize with throughout our trip. The rest of the trip we found it easier to go to the buffet.
The buffet for breakfast and lunch was always crowded but we always got a nice seat by simply walking around. No problem. The coffee was mostly good and we didn't feel the need to pay for freshly squeezed OJ. There was a nice variety of food to choose from and it was good as far as buffets go. The only ice cream they had was soft self serve in vanilla, chocolate and mixed, also strawberry frozen yogurt, unless of course you go to Ben and Jerry's. The late evening snacks could be found in the Solarium. We didn't use this, too late.
Activities: There was the usual bingo, trivia, etc which we don't do. I did go to the napkin folding which was fun and then a series on "Being prepared for emergencies" which was excellent, done by an ex-military lady. We did sit in on the acupuncture seminar. It was just a sales pitch to sell the service and not really informative on the subject. We enjoyed sitting and listening to the music in the Centrum. And found the Solarium a pleasant and warm place to hang out. If your looking for a quiet place during the day, you can go to the Spotlight lounge, nobody there.
Entertainment: The shows were good and the Cruise Director John was excellent and also very talented as a singer. Best CD I've ever seen. However, the theater did not accommodate the number of people on board. This was sooo disappointing. If you didn't get there 45 minutes before the show, you end up standing in the back, on the steps, or just leaving. We had seats in the balcony the one night after 45 minutes of sitting. A couple of disabled ladies came in and were standing by our seats. One sat down on the floor because it was too hard to stand. So we offered the ladies our seats and as we got up to give them the seats, people from the other side of us grabbed the seats. So much for chivalry and one was a male (not at man). We just shuck our heads and left. I hope when they refurbish the Enchantment they will address this issue. We really were not excited to go to the shows just because of this problem.
Ports: We really go cruising for the ship experience. We used the hop on, hop off bus in Portland ($5.00/person for the day) which was great. Recommend seeing the Fireman's museum, small but good (don't forget to talk to the volunteers there, that's what is so interesting). We didn't use the tender at Bar Harbor because of mobility. We did do the Titanic Museum in Halifax, NS. Great experience. You'll see a deck chair and a pair of little girl shoes that were displayed among many other things. We didn't get the Big Pink Bus from the cruise line, but when we got of the ship we got tickets at the booth which was the same price as on the ship and they took the our seapass for payment. So, same difference. Get the tickets on the ship.
Disembarkation: Quick and easy. We carried our own bags off, went through customs in a flash, walked to the car and was home in 2 Â½ hours.
Overall experience: It was a wonderful trip from beginning to end. I was pleasantly surprised with the Port of Baltimore. Definitely using this port in the future. Royal Caribbean is added to my list of cruise lines to take. Looking forward to my next RCCL cruise.