This was our first cruise and we decided to go on the Canada/New England out of the Brooklyn Terminal in New York. The average age on this cruise was probably early to mid 50's. We are in our mid 30's and the age difference did not bother us. We flew to NY early in the AM on our departure date, despite doing circles over Penn, everything went as expected.
We had the dreaded cabin B751 with the beam. I say dreaded due to all the write ups regarding this balcony and room. We paid for a BG class and were upgraded to the BB class and this room. I would have to say it is no big deal. It offers protection and privacy from the elements and people while in port. If my choice was this room on the aft of the ship or with a room on the side. Take this room as the sites are wonderful as you sail away from the ports and while on the open ocean. Due to the time of year (October) at night it would be cold on main deck and very windy. We could sit out there drinking a glass of wine and eating without any issues. (On second thought take the room on the side and leave this one for us.)
At all ports we did things on our own VS a tour. We should have probably taken one or two but we were happy to just walk on our own. The only time rush was to get back to the ship in time which usually was not a problem.
Transportation to Terminal: We used the transportation from LGA to the terminal from Princess. We could have probably found a cheaper way, taxi etc but we figured why not just lump it all together, one bill leave the cash in the wallet. We met the Princess personal inside the terminal, they took our baggage, placed it on the bus for us and our vacation was underway. We watched the sites to the Brooklyn terminal and we were able to relax.
Embarkation: We arrived at the Brooklyn terminal found our luggage as they were unloading it, gave it to the porter and we did not see it until 4pm. We went inside the terminal, got in what we thought would be a line that would take forever, in 15 minutes we were on the ship heading to our room. This could not have been any easier. Finding our room was easy because there are maps on every wall along the way pointing to where you are currently. If you cannot read a map you will be in trouble.
New York: We departed from New York and headed out to sea. Sailed right past the Statue of Liberty which is a nice site to see. It was the first time for my wife. There was the sail away party on the deck and people were in a partying mood. Drinks were flowing and the pool was in full use. Later that night, the weather changed and I think I only saw one or two people in the pools after that. The ride was a little bumpy once we hit the Atlantic all the way to Halifax. It did not bother me but my wife took the usual stuff for motion.
Halifax: This is a nice town except many of the stores were closed due to the Canadian Thanksgiving. The places that were open the people were nice and very helpful. We walked up and down the streets to all the local sites without any problems. We felt very safe no matter where we went in town. It was a nice city to visit and I would probably return at another time on my own. The have a beautiful waterfront and walkway which we enjoyed very much.
St.John: I would say this was probably our least favorite stop. The town is nice, the market reminded us of a country market and the stores we ok. I purchases some art and hauled it around to the locations. We were finished walking the town by 1400 and back on the ship by 1430. We toured one of the old churches and it was neat to hear the history behind the town and the location. We did not do the reversing falls tour, maybe we should have so we could kill some extra time. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice town to visit, doubt I would return for a vacation.
Bar Harbor: This was our first stop that required the use of a tender. It was easy and no big deal. Just Don't wait to long to get your tender ticket (more on that later). If you have ever been to Gatlinburg TN it could almost interchange with Bar Harbor. Minus the ocean front setting and lobster. We probably hit every store at least twice during our stay. We walked many of the side streets and looked for future places to stay on our own. There are many B&B's and we plan on returning some day in the future. The NCL Spirit was in town as well and the town was crowded. It is amazing how friendly people are on a ship, get them on land and it is time to fight. Have to get that T-shirt deal I guess. The views pulling into and leaving could not have been any better from the back of the ship.
Boston: After the first 3 stops and 1 ocean day Boston reminded us of our daily lives. Very much hustle and bustle. The Princess motto of Escape Completely was definitely alive until we got off the ship. We walked the Freedom trail, climbed the steps at the Bunker Hill monument and saw all the sites. It is a busy town. We purchased the XFR tickets to the city from the terminal. $24 total for both round trip. A taxi may have been about the same, maybe a little cheaper. But you just swipe your card so you are not really paying for it any way, right! :) The fog rolled in as we were leaving town, it was rainy as getting cold. Our balcony gave us a perfect view of it all.
Newport: This was probably our most favorite stop. We only had 3 hours in town though. We woke up, took our time eating, made our way down to get a tender ticket and waited for what seemed like hours. The waves from the wind were high and the tenders bobbed around a lot. If I have any complaints about this cruise it would be the tender process at this port. Again, mostly our fault for waiting to get our tender tickets and the seas are out of everyones control. There are enough stores and shopping to last severaldays. We got off the dock and went to the right. Lots of stores to the left, we will have to return for those. We missed a tour of the mansions, we heard there were long lines anyway, we can do on our own in the future.
Disembarkation: I can see where people can have complaints in this process. Not sure how you could make it go any smoother because you are trying to evict 3000 people off a boat and prepare it in 2 hours to load back up. We did not have any issue, reminded us of being at the airport and getting your luggage. If everyone would just remain calm, stop being so frantic and just find your luggage and move on. Many people just stood in the middle of the walkways talking. We used the Princess XFER back to LGA and this was just as smooth as coming to the ship. No issues or problems, we had a 1345 flight home so we sat in LGA for several hours. LGA is a dump, keep that in mind when you schedule your flights.
Overall: Being our first cruise we have not experienced what other lines have to offer. I did do a BlackBeard dive cruise in 1991, this is totally different in so many ways. The food was excellent, we ate in the crown grill on both formal nights. The service and steaks were excellent. I have no complaints at all. One night it was a gift, the other just because we liked it the first time. I only gained 5 pounds, probably could have been more with all the cheesecake I ate, guess I got lucky. We had no problems finding things to do on the ship. There are so many activities to meet everyones taste. We attended the trivia in the afternoon, bingo twice, we did not win and several of the shows in the evening. By the end of the night from walking everywhere in the ports and including on the ship, we took the elevators only once we were dead tired. We would get a glass of wine and go back and sit on our balcony and watch the stars. Time is limited while in ports so make sure that you have completed some research on the areas you will be visiting. We knew what we wanted to do, basically shop and get an over view of the area in the event we want to return. We would and will cruise again in the future, plans are already set for summer 08, after that it's the open sea for us!