We flew from New Orleans to Newark the morning of departure. I was a little worried about flying in same day, but it worked out perfectly! When the plan landed (11am), we got our luggage, and hopped in a cab. Cab ride was $40 to Cape Liberty cruise port. Cab immediately drove up to unloading zone, porters took luggage, and we walked right into terminal. We zipped past the photographers, as we did not want our picture taken after a day of traveling. We had only about a 5 minute wait in line, then were checked in, and on a shuttle bus that took us to the ship. Within an hour from landing at the airport, we were in the Windjammer having lunch. So easy and fast!
Our luggage arrived by 3pm, and we unpacked and went to explore ship. The ship is sooooo big! We were on for 9 days, and still did not see all of it! We found it to be well laid out, and easy to find your way around ship.
Ports of call were great. Our first two stops went as planned. St. Thomas on Monday - we did the St. John Island tour, which I found to be a little boring. We were the youngest on the tour, on a hot safari-type bus, with a not-very-informative tour guide. It wasn't bad, just not that great. We expected more. The next day was St. Maarten - we booked a private tour with Joyce Prince. She was wonderful, so informative, personable, and flexible. We really enjoyed her and the tour, in nice roomy air conditioned comfort! I highly recommend her if she is available.
We found out that afternoon that Tropical Storm Chris was out there, and San Juan, and Labadee were out. The ship was detoured north, and we were at sea on Wednesday, with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas on Thursday. We were disappointed that we would miss those ports because they were new to us, however, relieved that we would not be in the middle of a Tropical storm. We decided to visit the Atlantis resort on our own. The resort was beautiful, and we got to see most of it without a problem. There are some parts that cruise passengers are not allowed in. We headed back to the ship early that day because it was soooo hot!
There were a few things that we were disappointed in. They were minor, but I will mention them, as well as some really enjoyable points of cruise:
Bed in our room was very uncomfortable! On the 2nd day, we asked for an egg crate foam topper, and our room steward - "Happy Randy" (he was wonderful!)got us one. It was not much help at all, and woke up with our backs hurting every day. RCCL could really use some upgrades in the bedding!
As this was our first cruise in the summertime, we were not use to the large number of teens on board. Pool deck was impossible to get a chair, and lots of "chair holding", which is not suppose to be allowed, made it very difficult to enjoy pool deck. Solarium (adult only area) was not much better, very crowded and impossible to get a chair. We gave up on using the pools by mid-week, and just used the spa area whirlpools, sauna and steam rooms. They were never crowded.
Production shows were a bit boring. There were 3 different shows on this cruise. The first one we sat thru, but could not wait for it to be over. The second one, we decided to give it another try, but left after about 10 minutes. The third one we skipped all together. On the other hand, we really enjoyed all the guest entertainers. There were several, and they were all pretty good. Also, don't miss Quest, the late night adult scavenger hunt - this was a blast! Ice skating show is wonderful and not to be missed!
Food and dining were great. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer daily. Lunch was usually in the dining room, although we ate in the Windjammer a few times for lunch also. Dinner was in the dining room every night. Food was good. If there is anything you don't like, just ask for something else, and they will gladly accommodate. Great service in all areas. Also loved Cafe Promenade, where you could get coffee anytime, and sandwiches, cookies, desserts. Johnny Rockets was wonderful!
Cruise director was great, and very entertaining. Entire staff went out of their way to be friendly and helpful! Always a greeting when passing in the hall, etc.
Debarkation was a bit slow, but we were the first group off the ship at 9:00 am. Finding your luggage in the terminal is very chaotic, and this is an area that Bayonne should definitely work on improving. It took us about 20 minutes to find our luggage, in a crowd full of rushing, aggravated New Yorkers! After we got luggage, we quickly got a cab, and were back to the airport with time to spare for our 12 noon flight.
All in all, this was an enjoyable cruise. Beautiful ship, with lots of amenities. Great for travel with kids. If you are a couple and want adult time, do not go in the summertime. This was the biggest drawback for us.