Embarkation: It was a breeze. MUCH better that our last experience in Miami. Driving into New York City from upstate was very simple with no traffic issues. Parking was $120 for 5 days (yes they take credit cards!). We arrived at the terminal at about 11:30 and we got aboard about 12:00. Lunch was waiting on board. All baggage arrived at our cabin by 4 PM.
Room: We actually enjoyed the interior cabin. Best sleep we've had in months! No matter what time of day it is, it's always dark. Not everyone will like this, but it's great for sleeping (and vampires). The beds are very comfortable! I would bet we would have been unhappy with a balcony cabin on this trip as we were in heavy fog most of the time we were at sea, so the foghorn sounded every few minutes- and it is LOUD! Earplugs might be a good addition to the suitcase. You might want to bring a clock too as there are none in the rooms. Those usually dependent on cell phones (obviously useless at sea)to tell the time might want to bring a watch, or you can buy one on board for $10. The room was a good size for the two of us- plenty of storage. I'd hate to see a 3rd or 4th person in one though. The hair dryers provided are weird and aren't what you'd expect most likely. Our Room Steward Tamara was quite friendly, and introduced herself right off the bat! She visited our room many times a day, and we never needed anything. The TV channel selection leaves something to be desired, even in the "sports bar" next to the casino. The time we went- no Yankee games on TV... but billiards & a Total Gym infomercial. Some channels come out of Colorado. Why not NYC?Public areas: Not too many kids on this cruise. The ship is pretty clean, except the soft ice cream machines. I bet that's a no win battle for them. The casino is pretty large. Good luck getting to the 2 cent slots where you can win a BMW. I never saw an empty seat. I think there are only 6 of them. There are only 2 stores, and neither was too impressive. You can't go wrong with the cheap liquor. Only one bottle per person per Customs though. Note: We sailed right through the terminal without any hesitation. Customs officers were just collecting the declaration forms as you passed by. You hardly had to slow down!
Dining: The dinners were good, but I don't think as good as those on our last cruise (Imagination - 4/05). The dessert selection isn't that great, and they are pretty lackluster. I usually get the beef, and I found it to be fatty on most occasions. Mixed green salads were mostly iceberg lettuce-unheard of on our last cruise! Our waiter Michael was a riot, and we received excellent service.
The buffets were pretty average, but I would go to one of them for breakfast, not the dining room. The one we did have in the dining room came extremely slow. The one we got from room service was ok, and did arrive as we scheduled. The chocolate muffins are fantastic! The pizza was ok, but only once was I able to find something other than plain cheese or pepperoni when I went there. East River Deli sandwiches are great. The Chinese was average at best. The cheeseburgers were consistently tasty.Entertainment: The welcome aboard show was weak, but the comedian (Jimmy) was pretty funny. We checked out the magic show and it was better than expected. Less magic than show though. A lot of events are listed for each day at sea, but we found ourselves getting bored A lot. You have to like bingo or the casino to occupy the complete day. The Cruise Director Dana Hodson is a strange guy- sometimes funny, but sometimes over the line for a mixed crowd & a little annoying. You'll see what I mean.
Excursions: I was a little disappointed with our St Johns/Bay of Fundy excursion. It was 5 hours long, but the problem was you weren't anywhere long enough to see what's cool about it. 20 minutes at the rapids/river where the flow reverses isn't enough when the reversal takes place over several hours. It's like looking at any other river, except you have to imagine it flowing the other way! It was a long ride from there to St. Martins where we saw the Bay of Fundy. We were there about 1 1/2 hours, and spent about 45 minutes of that eating lunch indoors. Again, the change from high to low tide takes 12 hours. You don't see what you'd like to. It's not the fault of the guides that you're only in port for 8-9 hours total. We opted to do a 3 hour pub tour in Halifax. It was a little pricey, and you had to buy your own beer. They're $5-7 Canadian, which is now about $4.50 - $6.25 American. It was fun, but much more costly than anticipated.
Overall, the cruise was enjoyable for us. We got a great deal on it since we had credits from Carnival and our travel agent regarding our crappy embarkation in Miami last April preceding our shipboard wedding. There was also an itinerary change for that cruise we found out about the same day! That's another story!!
I must mention that the seas are much rougher than those in the Caribbean. The fog was dense most of the time. The view of NYC on the way out is beautiful! Right past the Statue of Liberty. Don't miss it!