My other cruises were on a more casual line and only had one port vs. having 4 ports in 7 days, so this was a change for me. I also wasn't sure what to expect as this cruise had formal assigned seating at dinner.... along with formal dress dinners 2 nights. I wasn't sure that I would like having to dress for dinner or like sitting with the same people every night. OMG...what if we didn't like them? Or they us?
My cousin and I were at the pier at 12 and on the ship within 5 minutes. The check in was quick and easy. We arrived on board and were told to go to the Windjammer for lunch as our rooms were not ready yet. So off we went with our carry-on luggage. ( our other bags were not expected to be delivered until 8 pm!) We took turns holding our table and watching each other's luggage while the other got food and drinks at the buffet. I was glad not to be a single traveler or this would have been difficult with the luggage. The variety of food as well, the layout of the buffet tables was great. There were no bottlenecks, which was nice given most passengers were all trying to eat at the same time. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer each morning and our lunches there too. One morning we were greeted by a guitar playing singing dining room greeter. It was a very nice touch. There was a point when the buffet got a little tired toward the end of the cruise, and one day one of the heating tables was not working well so the food was a bit cold. However, overall we were not unhappy with the food. Dinner (or "Supper" as we say in N.E.) was wonderful. The menu was great. The food was good, there were many choices to chose from, the portions were good. I was never disappointed. The formal-ness of the dining was not as intimidating as I had expected. I actually enjoyed it. We noticed that RCL didn't enforce the dress code, which surprised me.Our table mates were great, no complaints. We had lobster tails and shrimp one evening,fillet Mignon another... Our waiters Percival and Carlos were wonderful.
Our first Port was Halifax.
It was a beautiful city with much history... and very cold ! Burrrr..... We took a carriage tour of the city for $41.00 thru the cruise line. The guide was great,finding out this was our first trip to Canada, he presented us each with a flag of Canada pin. He was very knowledgeable and if it had not been so cold I would have liked to have gone back to visit some of the sites he pointed out. The city has a great deal of history, much more than I expected. We visited the market near the port, making a few purchases, it was mostly craft vendors during the week. However after our ride and market visit,we returned to the ship to enjoy the outside hot tubs...! It a was wonderful way to warm up and we didn't have to share the tubs or the pool!
Our second port was St John's Bay ,where we were greeted with a rose. We did not book a cruise tour here, but decided to walk around. We encountered the commissioner of St. John, who was very friendly and helpful, and discovered he had spent a great deal of time visiting my home town. We first visited the tent with the vendors, there was quite a variety of things to buy from "kitch" to higher end jewelry, handcrafted wood items and sweatshirts. After leaving the tent we proceeded into the town where we decided for $21.00 we would take a non ship exclusion. Yes, it was another carriage tour... the blankets on this one were warmer ! We had another wonderful guide and driver.We hoped off early and toured City Market..much like the Pennsylvania Dutch farmer's markets only smaller. We somehow missed the opportunity to move from building to building without going outside.There are about a block and 1/2 of buildings connected housing shops, a mall, a hotel and 2 sports complexes. Once we left the buildings we stopped in the park to check out some of the outside vendors, then back to the ship for afternoon snacks. As we headed to supper we heard a bagpiper....... piping us out of the harbor.... I wish we 'd had the time to grab our coats and go out on deck to listen... alas it was 5:30 and time for dinner. Maybe next time?
The 3rd Port and my favorite was Bar Harbor.
As one of our fellow passengers said... "this place has great energy"! We were tendered in... another new experience for me...! It was quick and easy... we decided not to do any excursions, as this port was not all that far from home so we could come back again on our own to explore. There was a beautiful, but simple park just above the harbor that offered a serene view of the harbor and surroundings. A great place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and the scenery...It was a wonderful warm sunny day and fun poking around the shops..which were for the most part having some good end of the season sales.:-)
Our last port was Portland.
We were greeted with wonderful live music as we left the ship, there were also local crafts people set up across from the port on the street,which was fun.
I met family there and poked around the Old Port and had lunch at Bull Finney's an Irish Pub. My cousin met a former classmate and went to Soakology! (I was a bit envious!) The weather was great,as was the company.
Let's see what can I tell you about the ship?
I loved the ship -it was clean and well kept up. There were no signs of wear and tear. It was difficult, if not impossible to get a deck chair in the Solarium... in spite of the notices posted people held the chairs. Due to the brisk fall weather the deck chairs by the pool were completely empty ! Imagine that! The staff was overall great. They were friendly and very helpful. Our Room Steward was new and wasn't great about picking up dirty cups /glasses in our room,but he was very pleasant and the room was otherwise clean. We only ran into one crew member who was quite unpleasant. We were on the 2nd deck, and you could not get to our room from one of the stairwells/ elevators even though we were on the 2nd deck. (The New England saying of "You can't get there from here" came to mind.) The staff member yelled as us for being there and pointed it was a crew area and we were to leave.... interestingly it was also the Medical Center... so... Guess he was having a bad day...? My ship card became demagnetized causing me to go to customer relations to have it replaced. Rita, the desk clerk was very thorough making sure I was who I presented myself to be before replacing my card. I appreciated this thoroughness. The activities on the ship included the shows, as well as "Name that Tune", Bingo, lots and lots and lots of Spa Pushes, line dancing, a version of the Newly wed game, Wii and plus the napkin and towel folding.. and beading for a fee. After 9:30 there was a lot of night life on the ship. I was disappointed not to find any enrichment courses, as I had experienced on my prior sailings .. but it was OK as I had brought books to read as a back up! The Schooner bar was a great place to read during the day.... The late night buffet featured the most beautiful ice sculptures.. Cynthia in the Windjammer was very friendly and a fountain of information. I really enjoyed Becky, the activities director too, she was quite humorous and hosted our Mix and Mingle.
We did not eat in any of the special restaurants, I did have acupuncture appt in the spa. The tech was pleasant, but $138.00 for 45 minutes was pricey, I think in the future I will have my spa services on shore where they are less expensive. I think she spent more time trying several techniques to try to book me for a 2nd appt and purchase their supplements than with me at the actual appt.
Last, but not least disembarkment was a piece of cake. We were called 20 minutes early,( we were provided with coffee and pastries while we waited.... a nice touch) We were off the ship within 5-10 minutes and on our way home.
Overall it was a good cruise that I wouldn't mind repeating this trip with RCL.