Spent time in New York before the cruise at Hilton Garden Inn - recommended, good location, friendly staff, nice rooms & not over priced (like some NY hotels)
Ended the stay at the Westin, Times Sq which i wouldn't recommend unless you get a good deal - overpriced, unfriendly and impersonal, although very nice rooms. I was told the Hampton Inn was good (it's in a great location)
Got a car to 'Port Liberty' - (given some of the reviews wasn't as busy or as ugly as i expected and it was a pretty efficient process getting on the boat) TIP we arranged a car to take us from the hotel - superb, charged £75 dollars, but no comparison to the smelly yellow cab we used from Jeff to Manhattan.
The car can be booked via the Hampton Inn Hotel. You will not be disappointed, felt like we had a chauffeur (he was suited, efficient & friendly) Car was big and immaculate (kids loved it). Importantly we asked him to pick us up when we get off the boat. Unless you get a car you could be there for up to an an hour waiting for a cab.
The ship initially seemed very similar to the Navigator, which we cruised on last year - public areas, lay out etc were fine. However importantly and disappointingly the cabin was a bit tired particularly the bathroom. This was in contrast to the Navigator, where we were thrilled with the condition of the cabin. It wasn't dirty, but had just seen better days and when you pay big money i think you want a cabin that makes you very happy (which i wasn't)
I'm told it's being refitted but not sure of the details.
Please note we lost about a day and half each way to the weather, otherwise virtually always sunny - so factor this in if thinking of cruising from NY. I'm sure the Summer is fine, but during the Winter would be questionable in my opinion (you'd be better flying down to Miami after NY)
On the final full day we had what our waitress described as the worst weather she'd ever known (8 years working on the ship on the same routes) Force 9 gale, not great - most stayed in the cabin. Bit disconcerting and obviously unable to do much - ship was going up about 30 feet or so .....
It was evident that the ship was 'full' ... Windjammer very crowded at 9AMish and tough to get seated at times. Also around half the boat was from the UK, which did alter the 'mood' of the ship a little and would have preferred a better balance.(i'm a Brit, but hope you know what i mean) Like Navigator the year before i expected about 200!
Service, food good although the evening menu got better as the cruise went on, which i thought was a bit 'obvious'
Entertainment was pretty good, full orchestra and some decent singers / entertainers.
Not enough running machines (about 12) which wound me up particularly as there always seemed to be a couple broken.
Great beaches at St Thomas and Antiqua - did River tubing at Dominica, pretty good but over an hrs drive either way up dodgy roads with a few steep drops. Got on a snorkeling tour at St Martin, kids enjoyed ... but with the abundance of rum punch it turned in to a 'booze cruise'
Other than that we had a great family holiday ... but it's Florida for me from now on (or Summer in Europe)on a new or nearly new ship