This was our third cruise we have been on. We previously went on Norwegian in 1994 to the western Caribbean and Princess in 2002 to the eastern Caribbean, so it had been a while since our last cruise. I went on the cruise with my wife. We arrived in Baltimore around 12:30 and got thru port security in about 30 minutes. If you are parking at the port, bring cash. It saved us a good 10 minutes waiting in long lines for people paying by credit card. There was nobody in line for cash payment.
When we got on the boat, there was some food available at the Windjammer by the pool, nothing fancy or that good. There were a couple welcome things like dancing that was fun. Your luggage can sometimes take a while to get to your room, so bring a swimsuit if you want to swim or suntan lotion if you plan to lay out. I will review everything in sections:
Food- we ate breakfast almost every morning in the Great Gatsby dining room. It was pretty good, though I was more impressed than my wife was with the pancakes and menu selection. She was more impressed by the granola/oatmeal bar available. I loved the selection of fresh fruit that was available for breakfast that was sadly missing at lunch. For lunch, we ate at the Windjammer every day we were on the boat. This was definitely the worst meal of the day. The selection changed slightly every day but was probably the low point of the trip for both of us. The desserts weren't that good (cookies looked like, felt and tasted like Frisbees), and the main courses were kind of dry. We should have tried the grilled food by the pool that looked much better than Windjammer, but somehow we didn't see that till the last day and it rained so it was out of commission. The lack of fresh fruit was really sad. They had one section with melon disguised as fruit salad but it had nothing other than a lot of honeydew. There were fresh apples and bananas but they were rotten when I grabbed them a couple times. There are no fresh berries of any sort to be found if you like that sort of thing. The dinner in the Great Gatsby was ok. There was a really good cold fruit soup every night. I had a couple good sides and things like really good steak fries and a high quality baked potato one night. The steak was not good, but I did really like the tender chicken and a cheese tortellini. In general the food was alright. My wife had a really good lobster meal the last night in the dining room, but otherwise, we weren't that impressed with everything. The desserts again were ok with the descriptions always coming off better than the delivery. The midnight buffet was a huge letdown as well. It was extremely dark in the area where the food was so you couldn't even see what there was. The ice cream was melted, and there wasn't anything that great to get anyways. The Park Cafe is a nice little different change of pace with sandwiches you couldn't find anywhere else on the ship. What we both absolutely loved was Chops Grill. We ate there the last night ($30 each) and got a 10 ounce filet that was amazing. My wife said it was the best one she has ever had and she has had quite a few steaks. The dessert was great too and the sides were amazing.
This was above and beyond fantastic on every level. The ship was always clean and people are always looking to see what they can do to make your experience better. Even though our food wasn't spectacular on the trip, our waiters were fantastic and friendly. Our cabin attendant constantly was getting me fresh ice and cleaning up our room. My only complaint, a couple waiters who came around the first couple nights during dinner pushing the dinner package to go to all the paid restaurants on board.
Maybe the entertainment on Princess and Norwegian was so mediocre that I had a low expectation level of what the entertainment would be, but I was very happy with the entertainment. We had two very funny comedians, a comedian/magician that was very entertaining, three shows from the cruise line that reviewed the music of Motown, general music superstars and Broadway musicals, and a fantastic Motown group called Spectrum (best of the bunch) that was very entertaining. My only complaint was that the Broadway musicals could have used more familiar songs to sing.
I may be a giant loser, but I love trivia. There were plenty of trivia contests on this boat. I became a fixture in the Schooner lounge participating in lots of trivia contests. This is also where you can meet a lot of other passengers on board and make new friends. I also love karaoke and was there for all four nights of that. It is always fun to see who can get up there and surprise you. By far the funniest boat entertainment of the trip was the Quest game show. I can't even describe some of the things you will see people do for stupid prizes, but it is the must attend event of the cruise. There were a couple other events like the belly flop at the pool and the worlds sexiest man competition that are always fun. Personally, I try to participate in as many things as possible and get my money's worth, so I did all these things including putt putt golf tournaments, ping pong, wii tournaments, and line dancing classes. Just relax, have fun and go with it. Its vacation, and you will never see these people again so just enjoy the events. My only comment is that there were no poolside "events" for the ladies. The group running the entertainment was great. Andrew and Natalie seemed to be everywhere on the boat and they were fantastic. John the cruise director was funny and accessible, and my wife and I had a fun time laughing at how many times he will use the word fantastic. The band playing in the centrum was the low point of the entertainment for us. My wife and I got a kick out of the fact that the band name was locomotion and they were a sleepy boring jazz band (and I like jazz). The poolside reggae band plays about the same 20 songs on loop, but there were decent.
Port of Call-
Bermuda is absolutely the best island/port of call we have ever been to, bar none. It is amazingly beautiful. Everything is pristine. Every other island I have ever been to has a resort and horribly poor areas you drive to on the way to the resort. I didn't see a single place in Bermuda that was run down or not taken care of. Kings Wharf, your docking area is a nice little town. On the last day I hit the snorkel beach. I saw a ton of cool fish and I just used my swim goggles. The guy at the rental desk even gave me a snorkel to use for free! If you are going around the island get the bus/sea pass. It is well worth it. The second day of our trip, we went to Hamilton (via boat) and shopped some and toured the city on our own. Highlights include the beautiful Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Sessions House (Bermuda Supreme Court). We then took the bus to the Botanical Gardens. That was ok, but free. We then caught another bus to Horseshoe Bay. Words cannot do justice to this spot. I had heard it was going to be crowded and crazy. We got there around 2pm and by 3pm a lot of people had cleared out, but it didn't matter. This is one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen in my entire life. I put it up there just behind Yosemite and some areas of Hawaii. I climbed up to the top of the giant rock formation there and took a TON of amazing pictures. I cannot encourage you enough to go to this spot. It was the highlight of the trip for me. On the third day, we went to St. George via boat. This town is the oldest in Bermuda and it is gorgeous. It is the jewel of Bermuda with quaint streets and beautiful buildings. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it shows. We happened upon a free tour of the city about the history of the site and it was extremely informative. We also walked the streets extensively and shopped some. Bermuda was an amazing experience. I do a lot of running as well, and during our only full day there, I woke up early and ran on the railway trails 12 miles around the island. It is an amazing way to see the island and side roads.
I work out every day on my vacations so having a place to workout is great. The track says 4 laps to a mile (not true), and its hard to get a good run in when people don't know you are on a track, but who cares. You are on a boat on a vacation. The workout place could have been a little bigger. The classes are for those who don't really work out hard and that's fine. The spa prices were so outrageous we didn't even utilize it.
This was my favorite cruise I have ever been on. The destination certainly helped, but the service and crew really put it over the top for me. As stated earlier, my only downgrade was the food and quality of it. Other than that, I loved the ship. It was the smallest boat we have ever been on but I think that made it easier to get around and know more people. We stayed at the far end away from everything. Sure it was more walking, but it was completely quiet. I loved the cruise and unlike the last two I took, I can't wait to take another one now.
My only suggestions for the boat-
Have a non-smoking night at the casino. Its not fun to gamble when you can't breathe.
If you have a sign in the dining room that says no hats or bootie shorts, then don't let people come in and eat with hats and shorts. I am the guy who never dresses up and even kind of dislike having two formal nights on a boat, but since that's the rule, follow the rule. I saw people coming in with tank tops and stripper shorts. I wouldn't care if you didn't have a sign saying its not allowed. Just like the no saving seats at the pool thing, they tell you that its not allowed but do nothing when people do it. Why bother? Either enforce the rule or don't even have it.