My husband and I, both 51, wanted a fall cruise for vacation. Both sets of parents, ages mid 70's to early 80's wanted to go. So we all went. Flew from Florida to Newark on Wednesday night and stayed in the Crown Plaza overnight. I was able to book at a good rate. The rooms were close to the airport and adequate for one night. The staff was helpful. The only hitch was the shuttle to the hotel. Not being familiar with the airport, I did not realize that the shuttle to the hotel was accessed by taking a train to an outlying parking garage. We had too much luggage to take on the train and consequently had a very long walk to the shuttle. Otherwise, everything went well.
The hotel called two cabs for us, party of six with lots of luggage. Trip to port was short and we were in the terminal within an hour or so. Had to wait a few minutes for the shuttle to the ship. I was grateful for the shuttle, the walk doesn't look too long but it is just too far to walk. Embarked and got our Sea Pass cards. Went to the Windjammer and had lunch. Our cabins were ready right on time. Our luggage came quickly on deck 7 but the parents on deck 8 had to wait a little longer. The ship is very pretty but is showing signs of needing a little work. The carpet, especially in the halls, is worn and there was no varnish on the railing to our balcony. It looks as if work is ongoing. The beds were comfy and my dad liked to sleep on the couch. Sail away was very pretty with the skyline of the city and the bridge overhead.
Overall the quality of the food went from good to really good. There was only one night to complain of. My husband and I went to Portofino's and had a beautiful meal but the parents said their dinner did not measure up to the usual quality. We mostly had morning room service, the Windjammer could become a zoo. We ate lunches in the dining room for the same reason. The My Time Dining went well, just make a reservation when you leave at night for the following evening. We often had the same table and servers, something I really liked.
The ports were fun, although Saint John doesn't have that much to do. We did not use any of the cruise trips, booking our own. We did a boat tour and bus tour of Portland, hired a cab in Saint John, Oli's Trolley in Bar Harbor, trolley tour in Boston and rented a car in Halifax. My only complaint is that in some ports there was not enough time. Given the lack of mobility of some of the parents, I would have taken cruise tours. They seemed to accommodate those with mobility problems better, such as picking up closer to the boat.
We had great port weather and rough sea days, don't bring your bathing suit for this trip except for the Solarium. Lots of time to relax and read however. There were a number of activities listed in the Compass to pass time if you aren't into the quiet. The Casino was pretty nice and we enjoyed the shows. Try to get tickets to the Ice Show it is quite nice.
Disembarkation went smoothly. We started off thinking we could do express walk off but too much luggage.
Overall an enjoyable trip.