My Family: Me dad (turning 41 on cruise) Wife, Son (7), Daughter (2), Previous Cruises (9). For a family of four on a 9 day cruise we got a great deal, we booked the cruise for the week in November that NJ schools are closed so that our son would not need to miss school.
EMBARKATION: Cape Liberty, NJ (embarkation a nightmare). We planned on taking our son out of school early on embarkation day Friday November 4th, but due to the ship being delayed in Bermuda we didn't need to. Here is a plus to using a local travel agent. I received a call on the day before the cruise that the ship was late leaving Bermuda due to high winds and that we should plan on getting to the port around 6:00PM. We picked our son up from school and headed to my Father's house so he could take us to the port. We arrived in no time at the port at 5:15 PM, considering rush hour I was surprised and actually got there earlier then expected. At the port previous passengers were still leaving and this made for major traffic and confusion getting to the drop off which took another hour. Once we were dropped off and the longshoreman took our luggage we go on what appeared to be a short line to enter the terminal, it was now 6:15 PM. However, it turned out the terminal was full of passengers that had already arrived and we were to wait in this line until 9:00 PM until they emptied the terminal and let us in (at 8:00P PM they brought out some chairs to sit in). Thankfully my daughters' diaper bag contained some fruit snacks, juice and pretzel sticks so my children were able to eat something as there was nothing offered or nowhere to go to get even a cup of water. We were better off then the family behind us who had booked their cruise online directly through RCCL and were not informed of the ship being late, so they had been hanging out since 2:30 PM that day. Once we were allowed in to the terminal we checked in and were given a number 68, which when called would allow us to board a bus to the ship from the terminal (they were calling numbers in the high 30's at the time). Well you could see that at one time there was food and water available to the waiting passengers in the terminal but none was left now. Through this whole time my children 7 & 2 were taking it wonderfully. After an hour of sitting on the floor my daughter wanted her blanket from our carry on. As I was getting it out an RCCL employee was walking by and she overheard me telling my daughter and my son that I was proud at they way there behaving and that it shouldn't be too much longer. The woman asked to see my number (they were currently calling numbers n the mid 40's), at which time she commented that we couldn't wait any longer and that we should follow her. We followed her through the terminal to the busses, she got our boarding cards, we thanked her and we were on the bus and off to the ship. We arrived on the ship, dropped of our bags and were sitting in the restaurant eating dinner by 10:30 PM. The last passengers were on the ship by a little after midnight.
Our cabin was an outside view and was definitely showing its age. The chair and the carpet were stained and filthy and could really use a cleaning. Two nights of the cruise the toilet stopped flushing but by the morning was working again. The cabin had two upper berths that were actually more comfortable then the regular beds. The closet and drawer space was sufficient even for a family of 4 on a 9 night cruise, and overall the cabin itself had enough room for all of us. Our cabin steward did a great job and I can't think of anything lacking at all in this regard. The location on deck 2 actually worked out well as we could take leave our room and take the gangway up one deck directly to enter the dining room or down one deck to leave the ship at port.
Though our cabin was showing its age the rest of the ship is fine. This was our first Voyager class ship and we loved the Royal Promenade.
DINING ROOM: We always sit at a large table and are usually very happy with our tablemates. This cruise was no exception we were paired with two other families and everyone got along wonderfully. The food was the usual affair I have no complaints nor did the rest of my family. The service was the normal pampering you would expect and again I can find no faults in this area. A few breakfasts and lunched were also enjoyed in the dining room and even though it was open seating the service was excellent. One point I noticed was that my 2 year old daughter would get an incredible amount of attention in the dining room from not only our servers but from others as well. One waiter actually fork fed her the entire breakfast. It turned out that usually they would have a daughter at home around the same age and it made them happy to see my daughter and they felt like they were with their own daughter.
WINDJAMMER: I am not a buffet fan but again the usual quality and service that I have come to expect from cruise ship buffets.
SHOWS: The Ice Show was a cool change and the fact that you get to pick out tickets to a particular show was a great idea and alleviated any fears of not being able to see the show. Even though we don't normally see many shows on a cruise we did see all but one on this cruise. The best show was a juggling show and the one I enjoyed the least was a magic show. Overall I was entertained which is the main idea anyway.
PORTS OF CALL: Our ports were as follows: Labadee - Loved it my whole family would love a cruise that just stopped here.
Jamaica - It was pouring out and we never even got off of the ship. Though in all fairness I dislike Jamaica and really did not want to get off the ship.
Grand Cayman - We enjoyed the Turtle Farm and overall this port in general. Bahamas - Again not much of a fan and we did not do anything here.
CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES: My son (7) enjoyed the Explorers Club and had fun with most of the activities. What he did not like was more of a reflection on him then the program. He does not like costumes therefore did not participate in the Circus and I was surprised he even put a bandana on his head to be a pirate. There were some nights were the children could eat at Johnny Rockets and he participated in this for only one night. I could see this being a nice break for the parents and a good time to be a romantic dinner.
DEBARKATION: We were off of the ship earlier than I expected. The only suggestion for RCCL would be that they tell passengers that in order to get a porter they need to go to a specific area and wait on line.
OVERALL: I booked this cruise for the price, dates, length and ship. Overall I was happy with the product. Even though the embarkation was nightmare we did not let it ruin our vacation. Once on board we did not dwell on the embarkation problems but I still heard people complaining on the last day of the cruise. I am reluctant to cruise again out of Cape Liberty but I am cruising on RCCL again in August of 2006.