It was quite a surprise that the cruise started as scheduled since we departed from Bayonne, New Jersey on November 2, with Hurricane Sandy devastation still in the forefront. Embarkation was easy. We had a Junior Suite and I booked 2 balcony cabins for my adult children who were 1st time cruisers. No complaints about the cabins, except that the balcony cabins no longer included the amenities of lotion, shampoo and conditioner. Our Junior Suite did include those little bottles. Rosen, our cabin steward was very helpful.
Food: The good first. Seaview Cafe is worth looking for, fresh cooked to order pannis were good. Lunch in the Solarium was also very good since it too was cooked to order. The Windjammer food was soooo much better than the main dining room. The minus factors are more numerous. In the MDR the selection of items was odd to say the least. We had dinner there 3 times and then chose the Windjammer. The service was great in the MDR, but the food was not. My daughter ordered a steak that was impossible to cut, forget about chewing it. The soup was lukewarm. The bread, though, was fantastic. The bakery department for the entire ship was the best part of the food line. In the Windjammer the desserts were to die for, and the breads was also to die for. We looked at the dinner menu that was posted for the MDR a few nights and realized that there was nothing on the menu that we would choose to eat. In the Windjammer the kids loved the sushi. They also had a Mongolian Stir Fry station one night and a Pasta Station another night which were superb. We did not pay the extra to eat in either of the specialty restaurants.
Extras: I wondered why the orange juice looked like tang, and then I watched the server pour 1/2 of the container of juice into the pitcher and then fill the rest of the pitcher with water. Of course you can pay EXTRA and get fresh squeezed orange juice. The coffee was not to my liking unless I added 3 of the little 1/2 and 1/2 containers and sugar. Although the ship was not full, others must have had the same experience, sooooo they ran out of 1/2 and 1/2 with 3 days to go. Of course, if you wanted to, you could pay EXTRA and have coffee at Latte-Tudes. On previous cruises the bars had snacks, peanuts or chips available...not so on this ship this time. Another cutback ??? The bars also ran out of lemons and lines with 3 days to go...???
Scoreboard: Hard to believe that with all those television screens and all the football games over the weekend that the screens had only fishing shows available. Of course, when we tried to get the station changed we were told, several days in a row, that only the bartender could change the station. Sounds o.k. until you find out that the bartender is not on duty and no one else can stand in for him. I thought the men were going to riot; it was not a pleasant sound or scene.
Entertainment: Headliners: The Drifters. They were excellent, but it was a shock since so many passengers were not even thought of when the Drifters were in their prime. I guess they were "reasonably priced" for the RCCL. The production shows were similar to what we see at the local repertory theatres. Not the big show spectaculars like they use to do on the cruises. Again, a cut back???
Lounge Music: A BIG PLUS for dance music by the Stanley Trio. We thoroughly enjoyed them. There was a Latin Group and other dancing available also.
Shore Excursions, we didn't participate in any since we have been to all the ports numerous times. The kids used local taxis to go to the beaches, which they loved.
The ships are beautiful and they keep building new and bigger ships. Where they think they will find cruisers to fill all the cabins for every week is a mystery. Therefore they are finding other means to fill the coffers.