From beginning to end, a fantastic two weeks.
Smooth and seamless, took less than ten minutes from getting to the pier to dropping my bags in my cabin.
Excellent and just what I had picked out. My cabin stewards were great and I did not want for anything the whole cruise.
I had to see the doctor due to a case of tonsillitis, but it was quick, easy and the doctor and nurses were professional. In and out in less than half an hour and no further issues. Not that much more expensive than the cash price for seeing a doctor on land -- and I definitely got seen quicker!
All but one dinner was in the Main Dining Room and I had no complaints at all. In fact, one night when all I wanted was a baked potato and French Onion Soup, the Dining Room Manager stopped by three times to make sure I was not missing anything or waiting for anything more. The food was good and varied, but at times I thought it was trying too hard to be fancy. And I always got extra wafer cookies with my ice cream -- without asking asking after the first night!
Breakfasts and Lunches were in the Lido, and I had no problems there, but much preferred the days when the ship was under Code Orange Service. I find it is easier, smoother, and faster. The food was always good. My only complaints were the lack of choice of yogurts and it was sometimes hard to find bran muffins at breakfast, but those are hardly worth mentioning. Lunch was great, though I mainly stuck to the Italian/Mexican/Asian sections of the buffet. And I never had lunch without ice cream -- the meringue cookies were a great addition, as was the soft-serve!
One dinner we ate in the Italian speciality restaurant, Canaletto. I am so sorry it took until now to try it! It was so worth the surcharge. I am very upset they will be changing the menu because I still have dreams about the minestrone!
We took three of the ship's excursions -- a trip to the World's Largest Shell Valley in Baie Comeau, LuLu's Lobster Boat in Bar Harbor, and the Kennedy Space Center Close Up in Port Canaveral. All were excellent, and I would have no hesitation recommending any of them, especially LuLu's Lobster Boat.
Ville Quebec, Saguenay, Baie Comeau, Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Saint John, Bar Harbor, Newport, Boston, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale
I had been to every port on this itinerary before except for Baie Comeau and Port Canaveral. I knew what to expect and was not disappointed. The weather was chilly and overcast or cloudy for most of the cruise, but that did not bother me. I was happy to be within walking distance to "downtown" in most of the ports. I had thought about taking the shuttle in Boston, but when we found out it was $15 one-way!, I decided not to and spent the day on board. The other ports are well worth the visit, though I was once again disappointed by the distance the ship must anchor off-shore in Newport. That port could be dropped as far as I am concerned. I only went ashore to go to a post office.
I booked a manicure/pedicure for one of the sea days because I usually enjoy the pampering. This one was not up to par, and I am not sure if it was the technician or the pushing of the products that bothered me most. Either way, I am not sure I will book another mani/pedi on my next cruise. The product pushing has gotten ridiculous, and much more over-the-top than I anticipated. My technician was unconcerned with how much she hurt me and never bothered to check the temperature of the water. She was just distracted and dis-intrested. It was the only time I have not tipped the technician after any mani/pedi, ship or shore.
Disembarkation is always hectic and I have come to expect a good bit of disorganization/craziness in the terminal, but this beat all. We were scheduled to be off between 9:30a and 9:45a. It was nearly 10:30a by the time our color group was called, and then it was a madhouse in the terminal trying to claim our luggage. Crossing lines of people, no instruction, and inadequate ventilation only compounded the issues resulting from only 2 customs agents. After clearing customs, it was a nightmare of no information to the ship's shuttle buses to the airport. I expect disembarkation to be hectic, but this beat all. I was so glad my flight was not until 4:30p!
Overall it was an excellent, relaxing cruise; the seas were calm, the weather was perfect for me, and other than a couple of hiccups (including being kicked out of a public lounge on a sea day a full two hours before the art auction was scheduled to begin), it was a perfect vacation. I can definitely see cutbacks, but none that seriously affected me and none that would cause me to question my loyalty to HAL. I would definitely take this cruise again -- and in truth can't wait to do so.