The embarkation process went pretty smoothly - plan extra time for parking if you are driving into the city. I'm a frequent city driver and planned an hour from Central Jersey - which would have been plenty, but we waited 45 minutes in a line on the West Side Highway to turn at the 55th St. entrance to the piers! CC has a very simple curb drop off process, although it made me worry a little as to whether our luggage would make it onboard, because it was overcrowded and porters were all over the place, mixed with people. But once we parked, it seemed a pretty smooth process.
Once on board, we found our way quite easily to the rooms. But I was really grossed out that on the stairs were numerous cigarette butts(and the cruise hadn't even started - my first instinct was to think that it wasn't very clean). (We are not smokers and don't enjoy being around it) We found our rooms and were surprised to find out how incredibly small they were. We had only been on one other cruise - a disney cruise, but even the hallway passages seemed more closed in on CC.Dining - aagh! First of all, we were in the Atlantic Dining Room - and to wait to go in , you waited in a smoky bar area. SOOO NOT PLEASANT! Our table was a long table split with another family of 5. They were pleasant, but had arrived first, so took the seats by the window. My family was sort of split up because there was a service table too close to one of the sides and we were shoved down more away from the end. So, I couldn't even really hear the people in my family talk and ended up listening to the other family's conversations. Really poor planning on CC part. The waitress was ok - the flavor of the food was sometimes really good, and sometimes pretty poor. There were a few desserts that were like rubber - the pumpkin pie and the key lime pie. Literally, I think you could have bounced them! In fact, my kids did. We gave up the last two nights, because of the noise level - it was really loud - we did the buffet instead. The Lido deck always seemed gritty or dirtyish. The food was ok - the mediterranean restaurant was on the dark side. My advice is to request the Pacific Dining Room and go there for breakfast as well. It's a little hard to find - you can't get straight there by any means, but we had breakfast there once, and immediately when you walk in - you notice the difference. The atlantic dining room is more like a cafeteria. Room service food - don't bother. On to Onboard activities: I have a major problem with young kids singing karaoke in a casino - I don't even know if that's legal! And for God's sake - their lungs!! Casinos are smoky! I spent a lot of time walking through the casino to get to the coffee bar. I never did find another way to get there. My husband really wanted to go in the hot tub - they were always filled to capacity. He finally found one on the last night at 9:00 and guess what?? they had already turned the heat off for disembarking the next day - I thought that was really lame.
Entertainment: Great Costumes!!! The performers have a ton of costume changes and they are very pleasant to watch. Please know that I may be overly critical on musical things. It's in our blood. My family is born and raised musically. However the 2 lead singers got pretty pitchy on most songs - and they were on every night. Let me say that the instrumental players are the exception - they were quite good. The dancers are not true dancers: my son, who is a dancer, met a lot of them. They do try very hard and put forth a good effort, and maybe to the untrained eye and ears it's not too bad (if you had the American Idol judges, Randy would probably say: it's not doing it for me dog, Paula would praise everyone's efforts and Simon would say it sound like bad Karaoke at a High School Show.) Judge for yourself. They had a great classical trio - but I couldn't sit and listen because it was in the smoky bar. if I were the performers - i would really really complain! My husband said that the Jazz performers in the Ionian lounge were really really good!!! So, make sure and go there. The comedians - One was absolutely hilarious, and the other really raunchy - almost x-rated comedy (a lot of jokes based on crude racial stereotypes and intimate female body parts). Here is one time I would have liked to hear someone with humor like ellen degeneres or jay leno or David letterman.
Excursions:- In St John, the reversing rapids is really cool. My kids said that if we come again, they wanted to do the excursion on the boat there. We took a bus tour. It was just ok. My kids tried to stay awake - they probably would have preferred to stay on the boat!
Halifax: My son and husband loved the bachelor of beer excursion (we won it at bingo). We took the hop on, hop off bus: nice, but we wasted a lot of time waiting for buses - like maybe 30 minutes at each stop! If you like flowers, go see the Public Gardens - oh my gosh it's really beautiful! And on the main street down from the gardens is a really cute mexican restaurant on the 2nd floor (across from McDonalds) - it overlooks the street with balcony sitting. it was quite nice.
Ok - all said and done, would i do it again? I would check in to the smoking areas on ships first. i don't think smoking was allowed on the Disney Cruise. On CC, they were smoking everywhere - including elevators, in the hallways, around the buffet tables on the lido deck - Yikes!