We took the Academy bus from Hartford, CT to Bayonne, NJ on Sunday, December 30, 2012. It arrived on schedule with 12 other passengers. We encountered a lot of traffic due to the Giant's game at MetLife Stadium. We arrived at the port at 1:00 pm and the traffic was awful - one lane to get to drop off luggage. It took over an hour to get to the luggage area. We then entered a tent with a long line of people to get our SeaPass. This took another 30 minutes. We then went into a waiting area to wait for a bus to take us to the ship - another half hour. When we were led to the ship we were in 30 degree weather and the security checkpoint broke down and we had to stand in the cold for another half hour.
We went to the WindJammer and after sitting for a short time, we were told that we had to go to the muster. After the muster we went to our cabin and met our attendant, Byron Williams. He is a sparkling representative for RCCL and we only wished that the dining room staff had half the skill Byron demonstrates. He kept our cabin spotless and greeted us every day. We opened our balcony door only to find it loaded with paint chips.
Dining Room - we had Jose from the Phillipines as our waiter and for someone who has done this job for 16 years, he seemed to forget a lot of our requests, but he was 100 times better than Millie, our assistant waiter from Jamaica. I am used to ordering my half lemonade and half iced tea on the first night and having it waiting for me every evening. I had to ask for it every night. She had a habit of trying to squeeze between the chairs of our table and the one behind us therefore banging into my wife and the woman at the other table all night - every night. She ran out of bread and told us she would get more, but that didn't happen. Out head waiter Aaron from India, came to the table the evening we were at the specialty restaurant, so we were never formally introduced. On shrimp night neither Aaron or Jose separated the shells from the shrimp. Aaron did show up on lobster night and when I told him I needed his help on shrimp night - he mumbled that he was too busy. On the last night - he never came to our table and one of our table mates had to run after him to give him his tip envelope. In our previous 21 cruises, we've always tipped our waitstaff way over the recommended rate but only our Stateroom Attendant got extra this cruise. Our tips were pre-paid and I wouldn't have given the assistant waiter and the head waiter anything.
Cruise Director - We had Leigh Xuereb as the Cruise Director and Frankie Portera as the Activities Director - together they are a riot! This was the New Year's Eve cruise and they made it memorable. Each morning they have a television show and I made sure to watch every one and cracked up at their antics.
The meals and variety of meals was great. Rack of lamb was back on the menu. We were offered shrimp cocktail and escargot every night on the menu and creme brulee every night. The strip steaks were excellent.
We were assigned to the theater with a 9:30-10:00 time and were called at 9:25. Our luggage was in it's assigned space and we went through customs easily. We were directed to our bus and were on the road by 10:15.