Taking a cruise out of NYC was definitely an economical choice. Even though I work for an airline, I found it would be easier going out of NY than trying to fly standby anywhere else in the country to take a cruise. Our vacation started in CT so we took the Metro North train into Grand Central Station. We then hailed a taxi from the station to the cruiseport ($9 plus tip). We got there quite early, handed over our luggage to the porters and were then seated in a "holding area". It was very soon after arriving that we were boarding the ship. Pretty much a pain-free transition. If arriving into Newark airport it is definitely less expensive to take the airtrain or bus into the city and then a taxi to the port. Carnival wanted to charge us $40 p.p. and I felt that was way too much. So anyone flying into Newark, think about that.
Our first impression upon arriving to the cruise terminal was....wow...we are going to be onboard with 3000 New York/New Jersey'ers.....Not that this is a bad thing, but its definitely different than a Caribbean or Mexico cruise out of somewhere else. People seemed extremely stressed out and LOUD, and complaints everywhere around us. Why??? We were hoping this wasn't the way our entire cruise was going to be like. It really wasn't, but there sure were alot of people from the NY/NJ area and with the economy the way it is, we were definitely not surprised.
We were issued our room keys and then wandered around the ship to get a feel for where everything was, including our cabin, which wasn't quite ready yet. We were onboard before noon and cabins were not ready until 1:30 or so. The buffet lunch was already open on the Lido deck and from a previous comment, I decided to find the deli counter and had a corned beef/pastrami sandwich. Very very good! Hubby had smoked salmon along with his buffet lunch. Who knows what my 15 yr old had, he disappeared and we didn't see him till the room was available.
Our cabin was an inside cabin on the Main Deck. It wasn't fabulous but it was adequate. Bathroom was a good size, and we had one double size bed and a twin that came down from the ceiling for our son. One thing for sure, these were the most comfortable beds I've ever experienced on a cruise. Never did make it up for a sunrise, I was too comfy! We had a balcony on our last cruise and swore we'd never do an inside room again, but this was a budget vacation and we decided that was one way we'd save some money. It wasn't bad. We didn't feel closed in.
The food was sporadic. Some things were fabulous, some were just ok, and some were just not very good at all. The breakfast in the dining room was better than the buffet. The french toast was awesome. We only ate in the dining room for breakfast twice. Lunch was mostly either on the Lido deck or the deli. The one lunch we had in the dining room was just ok. I had a burger but they would only cook it well done so I didn't really care for it. The burgers up on the Lido deck were much better. Hubby had a great salad though and others at the table seemed very happy with their meals. Dinners on a whole were great in the dining room. Prime rib was great, steaks were just ok. Lobster and seafood meals were good also. Chicken was very good, pastas were very good, and my son and enjoyed all the cold soups. Mango, Bing Cherry, Strawberry and Avocado (although that one was only during lunch). My baked potatoes were NEVER cooked right, and the french fries were always lukewarm, never hot. The steak fries on the buffet were great though. As everyone said, the Chocolate Melting Cake was TO DIE FOR and I had it 4 out of the 5 nights. Other desserts were good too. You definitely are never lacking choices for food. The 24 hr pizzeria was fantastic. Really surprised me as to how good that pizza was and there were 4 or 5 choices, not just cheese and pepperoni. Ice cream was readily available any hour of the day also. There is also a sushi bar in one of the hallways that was open often. I was disappointed that they charged extra for gellato and desserts in the "bakery"? So I'd give the food a 7 on a scale of 10 I guess. My scale says 10 lbs gained, so I guess it wasn't very bad (not just from the cruise though, 2 wks vacationing).
Entertainment was probably the highlight of this cruise. We went to all of the evening shows, including the R rated ones on two of the nights. My son didn't go to any of them, he was too busy in the 15-17 yr old program which we don't really know too much about, except for the fact that when we went to see how he was doing he immediately mouthed "go away", so we felt that was a good sign! The shows with the Victory Dancers and Singers were fabulous. Not sure which one it was, but I felt it was as good as a Vegas revue (minus the topless dancers). The magician was just ok, his act and personality were much better than his magic. The R-rated shows were funny and definitely for an adult crowd, although we did see quite a few teens in the crowd. The Legends show featuring cruisers who had auditioned all week long was cute. We also went to the Newlywed Game which was funny, saw the Hairy Chest competition and did various other silly games, like bingo and name that tune. There is just so much to do, you really should never be bored.
The ports......well, needless to say we were a bit disappointed with the weather, but knew it wasn't something anyone could control. In Saint John, it was extremely foggy (which I read several times that it could be). We did the Bay of Fundy tour. We were greeted with roses as we got off the ship and swooped away to a bus for the 45 min drive. I'm really into photography so it was really disappointing that it was so foggy. We stopped and got off the bus for views of the Reversing Falls, which was very interesting and would have been GREAT from a photographer's view had it been less foggy. We then stopped for lunch and had some great chowder, with muffins and cookies. Since it was low tide, we were able to get out and walk around the very rocky beach and then over to the Caves. Had it been high tide we would not have been able to. Apparently the tides vary up to 50 feet every day. After we got back to the ship we took a shuttle back to the little market for some souvenir shopping. All in all, it was a nice day, and considering we left 90+ degree weather in St Louis, it was kinda nice being in 60-70 degree weather. In Halifax, we decided to walk on our own, although we had every intention of using the FRED (free bus). Unfortunately we never were at the right place at the right time to pick him up. So we wandered around town, in the on again/off again rain. Went to the public library to get our internet fix, and to the Public Gardens which was quite nice. Wandered back and were talked into taking a Tall Ship cruise around the harbor. It started POURING as soon as we got on the ship, which was actually good since there was a place under cover. It was a nice hour long cruise and we met some great kids who were in charge of it and a couple nice families on board. By the time we got back, the rain had stopped and we found our way back to the ship.
Everyone on the cruise staff was cordial. I was disappointed that the CD was not the one everyone ranted and raved about, but Brad was alot of fun and did a great job of being our cruise director. Mikey from Australia was also a pleasure and quite enthusiastic. The ship was very clean yet, the decor could probably use some updating. And as others said, hope you like GREEN. We didn't really see much of the guy who took care of our room. We did have problems twice with our room safe and got swift response when we called. Room service was prompt.
We decided to do the self-assist checkout and were able to sleep in. Of course, the announcements over the intercom started at 6:30 a.m. and continued every 10 minutes it seemed, but we didn't get off the ship until 9:00 a.m. and took our luggage with us. No big deal.
So all in all, I'd say it was an ok experience. Not sure we would do Canada again, I really missed the beautiful crystal clear water of the Caribbean or Mexico, but we still made the best of it and would recommend it for a change of pace.
Email me with any questions! Aly