This was the first time I sailed out of someplace other than Fla. I figured I would give it a shot. I have always sailed with RCI and I feel that the past cruises are a fair comparison.
Leaving out of Cape Liberty was a painless and quick process. We parked right at the dock (19.00 Per day) No issues.
Since we were accustomed to sailing out of Fla... The cold days were a change of pace for me. The view of Manhattan and the statue of Liberty were to die for. Since we were repeat customers, we knew what to expect. With that being said, the only things I am going to touch on here are the negatives/ changes that we have noticed since our last cruise 3 years ago.
Day One: Easy boarding, staterooms were ready at 1:30 as promised. While the ship is showing it's age, it's still beautiful. I found a lack of activities to be involved with during the cold days at sea. Usually we'd be partying on the pool deck, since that was not possible, I figured my husband and I would spend some time in the solarium during the cold days....totally forgetting that this class of ship does not have an enclosed solarium. I would suggest to RCI that in the future, maybe they should provide the ports with cold weather in the winter time, ships that have enclosed pool areas, just a thought. This was the ONLY day we ate in the dining room.
Day two-At Sea I decided to kill the boredom by getting a facial. First time I have ever used the spa services on board. While it's expensive.... it's so worth it. I plan to utilize the spa services on board more often from this point on.
Day Three-At Sea Spent most of the day checking out the ship. Went to the "screening room" While I expected it to be small, what i didn't expect was the lack of being able to view the screen unless you sit in the very front row. We ended up leaving because so many folks (adults) were playing musical chairs and talking.
Day Four- Labadee- This was my first time at ALL the ports on this itinerary. My husband and I decided to try the zip line on the island. It was a blast. I thought it looked scarier than it was. Actually- the ride out side of the resort area to get to the zip line platform, was the scariest part. I was surprised at how breathtaking the island was. We plan on visiting the island again and spending the entire day on the beach.
Day Five- San Juan- We have never been to this port and decided to stay on the ship and take advantage of the empty pool deck!
Day Six- St Thomas- At this port we booked an excursion to swim with the sea-lions at Coral World. We had a fantastic time. Remo was a wonderful "little" guy (500 lbs) I love to have experiences such as this one. something you may never have the opportunity to do again. I highly recommend any of the excursions at Coral World. After our excursion we did a little shopping at the port and then made our way back to the ship. The husband and I are people watchers and LOVE to watch folks, so we spent alot of time on the ship.
Day Seven- St Maarten- Nothing planned at this port. We walked into town and went to a couple stores then waled the boardwalk. This place is beautiful and if you have the money a wonderful place to buy Jewelry.
Day Eight- At sea....... Decent Day at sea.. Took in some sun ( the last of it before returning to winter)
Day Nine- At sea- 70's night- Parades and Dancing on the ship
Day Ten- At sea- WOW- The front that came thru the east that created the weird weather caught up to us. Today the seas were SOOO bad.... I didn't even get out of bed until dinner time, and we ordered room services. We were both ready to go home after this day at sea.
The Food: The food in the dining room as well as the windjammer did not meet our expectations. The food in the dining room was not the quality that we were used t from RCI. Which is why we only ate in the dining room one night. on Day two we went to the windjammer and discovered you can practically get the same food there as you can in the dining room. Which is why we opted out of formal dining all week. Next time- we will go for the my time dining plan in the dining room. The best food on the entire ship was at the Cafe Promenade and Johnny Rockets.. we ate twice at Johnny Rockets and were at the cafe all the time for sandwiches and cookies. Just was not up to snuff as it was on the previous cruises we have been on.
The service: As always the service was great. Everyone was friendly and Leigh and Frankie were awesome! The service from the dining room staff left a lot to be desired. The staff there didn't seem to engage the guests like the ones we have been accustomed to. Over all, we had no issues with the service and if there was something we needed, it was provided to us promptly.
The shopping: This is where i was Truly disappointed and frustrated... If you have cruised before you know every day is a sale. On this ship, they would rope the tables off and would not even allow you to touch the merchandise before the sale began. This created crowds and chaos on deck 5. often jamming foot traffic to the point where the disabled folks had issues getting through on that deck. One of the final days of the cruise, there were women who were almost engaged in violence over the 2 for 20.00 t-shirt sale. I found this to be ridiculous. Especially since most of the folks who were on this cruise were >40 years old. When the confrontation began,no employees, not even security did anything to stop it. in my opinion it was ridiculous. Both on the part of the guests as well as the cruise line. I do not know why you would create such chaos over a T-shirt sale. Especially since these sales that were only supposed to last for a few hours were found the very next day in the stores at the SAME SALE price... WOW.
All in all We had a good time. We learned to stand back and watch the fights, wait until they were over and then get our sale merchandise. I guess people just forget how to act!
Some of the activities that we usually participate in were not as prominent on this cruise. I assume the reason is that most of the crowd was older. The Chamber was empty most nights, with the exception of Disco night. Battle of the sexes was fun and we missed out on the quest ( it just does not seem as fun as it did when we were younger)
The most fun I had on this cruise was the time I spent at the cafe talking to an 89 year old gentleman named Howard. He was living life!!!! I hope to have 1/2 as much energy as he does when I am his age! He was the superstar of the cruise!