Embarkation at Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ was fantastic. We arrived slightly after 11 am and after a short wait, we were welcomed aboard w/ champagne and looking for lunch in the Seaside Cafe. Selection and service were good and we were soon checking out our stateroom. Luggage arrived throughout the afternoon and we were pleasantly surprised when the mandatory lifeboat drill did NOT require life jackets!
Cabin 7114 is situated mid-ship, not too near elevators, with no cabins across from it; in other words, quiet w/ easy access to everything. The balcony is equipped with 2 chairs and is 2 floors above the life boats which we looked down on. Storage is adequate, but I missed a drawer in the desk because that is usually my make-up area. Hint: we use suction cup hooks on mirrors for hats, storage bags, etc.
This is our first cruise to try 1st seating for dinner, but after dinners that finished at 10:30 on our last (Holland America) cruise, we made the switch. So, 6pm found us in the San Marco Dining Room where we were delighted to find our table for 8 and two delightful couples from NJ. Our Waiter, Jorge, and Assistant Waiter, Andres, began right away to learn our preferences and try to keep us happy. They were good at their jobs; we were impressed that Andres remembered drink choices and did not have to ask again.
Food: We ate in the San Marco every night except 2 and in the Seaside Cafe for all breakfasts and lunches unless we were ashore or there was a brunch in the San Marco (these were GREAT). Overall, the food was good, but some of our group and others we talked to agreed that the nightly offerings had an unusual (some said European) flair. Thankfully there is a "classic" menu from which one could order any night and we chose items from this menu frequently. When I did stray to the other menu, I was quite often disappointed; items like Shrimp Scampi which had 3 very tough shrimp, rice not done and pureed vegetable were not to my taste. My husband, a beef eater, had several beef dishes that were tough or not cooked to order. It is our opinion that the quality of beef in the main dining room has suffered since the specialty restaurants appeared. We have eaten in a specialty restaurant and it was wonderful, but we are not willing to spend extra every night and don't believe we should have to.
Seaside Cafe had great choices for breakfast and lunch. Any type of breakfast food could be found, cooked to order or quick pick up. The only sad note here was the coffee which was (to our taste) not drinkable as it came from the urn. We found that a mix of 1/3 decaf, 1/3 regular, and 1/3 hot water gave us something we could drink. We saw many others adding water and even saw waiters adding water to the coffee they were serving through the dining room. Our complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. Lunch choices ran from hot foods to a great deli whose chicken salad, egg salad and hot soups were great lunch fare. The only burger we ate from the grill was cold; a disappointment because we usually love the grill items.
The 'Casual Dining by Reservation' did not live up to it's billing. We found that they have one menu for the entire cruise! Also, the 'classic menu' from the dining room was not available as we had understood (we were told this was a recent change).
Entertainment: Something for everyone! The Celebrity Theater brought us some very enjoyable shows. The productions were well done, costumes great, and our only complaint here is that the volume was way to high! There were the usual orchestra, a classical guitarist, a pianist, comedians, and some combinations. Acts that stood out were Alex & Sally, an Adage Duo, and an A Capella group, The Voice Males. The party band, Sipra was especially good.
We attended several enrichment talks and enjoyed them. We are not fans of the art auctions and usually prefer to find a quiet spot for reading when there is time to relax.
All employees of the cruise line were efficient, friendly and always trying to please.