Just a word of advice! We are experienced cruisers/travellers - having sailed at least 30 times. The last few cruises were out of Europe maybe thats how we got in trouble. For those of you having been on previous cruises - you know how busy and chaotic embarkation can be - we decided to get on the ship around 3 pm for a 5 pm sailing - we had already been on Explorer of the Seas - its a beautiful ship - and the port was 30 minutes drive south of our house - we were happy not to be flying to a different city for embarkation - we could bring lots of luggage and park right at the pier. Well due to some freak traffic from major roadwork on the turnpike leading to the pier we arrived 50 minutes before departure. We figured all was ok...we were pre-checked in and just thought we would fly right onto the ship - we were happy to have made it with 50 minutes to spare. Well the Agent at the Pier said "SORRY" you are too late - the manifest was closed 60 minutes prior to departure - we cant help you! Another vehicle pulled up with 6 more passengers having the same trouble - they were told the same thing. They would not budge, would not contact the bridge to see if an exception could be made..no officer came down to speak to us..and we were totally unaware of any Manifest now needed 60 min before departure - so RC would not assist us. We were on our own. If we wanted to cruise we had to fly to Bermuda and rejoin there - we needed to tell them not to give away our staterooms or dinnertime. It cost us over $2000.00 to rejoin the ship betn 4 oneway flights, and a hotel costing $860.00 - only room avilable on the island due to yacht races! We embarked the afternoon they arrived in Bermuda had to run our bags through the scanners and guest services took us on board. The start to the trip was very stressful.
Our cabins were well situated 2 decks below the pool and buffet & gym on the 9th floor in the front of the ship. You could feel the ships motion at night from that deck. The food was very good each night in the dining room - we had late dining and usually finished by 10:30. NO midnight buffets. 1 deck/pool party to sail off from St. Maarten we left there at 9 pm - calypso music and dj. Weather was great. Ports were fun - we had been there many times before. Casino was pretty crowded each nite. Entertainment was good - not great but entertaining - shows were nice. Ice show was very good. No trouble getting deck chairs for days at sea. Pool was very crowded though. The lounges and bars were all busy..the Latin music was excellent, the Piano bar was packed, the Viking Lounge was very romantic - the 24 hr cafe was convenient but selections boring day after day.
All in all a solid cruise after a shakey beginning. Bayonne is a very disorganized departure port - its too new. I think NYC port would have been better. I much prefer Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Now we know about the timing and U.S. rulings - not sure this applys in Europe. Also, this Captain left 2 people behind in St. Thomas and we heard they had to take Carnival cruises ship to the next port and pay $200.00 each. I guess this Captain does not like to wait for anyone! On other cruiselines they typically try to wait for those not yet onboard at the various ports within reason. In August, we are sailing on Norweigen Cruise Lines new ship, the Epic from Miami. I will write a review when i return. Happy Sailing!