We are a couple in our early 40's (on this sailing putting us into the "younger" category), and this was our second "modern-era" cruise. I hesitate to go to the effort of a review since the Journey experience will doubtless change in a post-Bermuda context, but I want to get my 5-rating into the mix. This was my first cruise as a CC member, and onboard I quickly experienced two drawbacks to cruising in the CC context; 1) my initial experiences and impressions were colored by the prior weeks of research and discussion about the ship, and 2) I spent much of the first days on the Journey writing mental sentences to be included in my post-sailing review, not simply enjoying the increasingly wonderful experience.
I feel we experienced the essence of some of the apparent discrepancies between prior reviews: the Journey offers both a "sum of the parts" experience (which in our case would have put it in a 4+ rating zone) and a "whole", which we found to be magic. In assembling notes for this review, at the end I was surprised to see quite a number of minor quibbles, which didn't seem consistent with how we felt leaving the ship, waving goodbye as though leaving a loved one. Perhaps the difference for each traveler is how well his/her experience captures that magic.
For the sake of a balanced review, the following are the quibbles I noted, in no logical order:
-Sailaway from Bayonne in the fog had all the excitement of a mule barge send-off, as the band was a no-show. -We found the flat screen TV to be low resolution and of poor contrast. -Silverware at Windows buffet was placed on cleared tables, and not typically available in the food areas. While this seemed initially more upscale, it made for real issues when the table was bussed between trips for food. I ate numerous courses with borrowed spare silver, and had several bowls of cereal using a fork. -The scarcity of announcements from the bridge was actually refreshing, but we could have sometimes used a bit more sailing or weather information. -The ship does show some minor scuffs, etc. commensurate with seven years of use. -Our room's alarm clock was a joke, with no setting instructions and no light other than the one that would come on with an irritating beep when a particular button was pressed. -Likewise, our telephone had no visible instructions, and there was nothing intuitive about reaching the front desk, room service, etc. -One evening's experience in the main dining room was consistent with previous complaints: crowded, inconsistent service, passengers and crew figuratively tripping over each other. -Towels for the beach were delivered one evening, but both obtaining and returning additional towels was a "no clue" experience. -The AC in our room was too cold at the warmest setting, and despite a towel (we) stuffed in a vent for the remainder of the trip, never got better. -As discussed often, the shower water got all over the bathroom floor.
In the same vein, a random list of positives:
-The intimacy of the ship led to more friendships forming between us and other passengers and crew. -We were extremely impressed with the five young singer/performers and backing band -Becky, the cruise director, is a wonderful person with a delightful public address voice. -Our room's bedding, towels and toiletries were great. -Our stateroom's subtly tinted windows were a pleasant surprise, enhancing the vista. -Seas were smooth one way and moderate the other, yet despite my small ship concerns, she sailed amazingly smooth and gracefully. -We enjoyed the little ship-side treats and beverages at both Bayonne and Bermuda. -Our room attendant was just our style: everywhere and yet nowhere at the same time, and the room was impeccably maintained. -We had no dinner waits at Discoveries (on the later side, table for two) -Dinner fashion was somewhat dressier than I expected, which added to the evening's elegance.
Now, as far as we're concerned, take the above two lists and throw them out the window. They are only incidental to our experience. We spent an incredible week on a beautiful ship with a great crew and special fellow passengers, eating delicious food and visiting one of civilization's loveliest spots. What more do I have to say?