Background: I am married and in my late 20s, husband in his early 30s. We are both professionals. I am a nurse and he works in business. Have been on one other cruise before with carnival which I despised due to the party like atmosphere. Took this cruise for relaxation and vacation. We do not live in NYC but the cruise left from NYC and we stayed there a few days before to add a little more to the vacation. Stayed 2 blocks from Empire State bldg. Overall great trip!!
Embarkation/Disembarkation: A breeze!! Embarkation and check-in took maybe 20-30 minutes and was very easy. Bags were outside the room in approx 2 hours after boarding. Very Simple. Disembarkation was even faster and easier. We chose to carry our own bags off of the ship. We were off in about 5 minutes. At port @ 0800. Cleared to disembark @ 0830. Through customs and in a cab by 0900. Very easy. If you choose to go a different way. There are many options for people who do not want to carry their own bags off. This is a little slower it seems.
Ship Info and population: The ship appearance was average. Very tropical in decoration. In good condition. Pool was a little small for all of the people and the deck was always packed with people. However, there was a "quiet area" in the front of the ship with fewer people and a nice atmosphere but no pool. The pool was usually noisy and had a band or music playing. This was annoying if you are wanting to read and listen to your ipod. 5 hot tubs on board were usually in use. We were able to find an empty hot tub on 4 nights and they were very enjoyable and relaxing. There is a little for everyone on this ship. All age groups were represented. We do not have children and did not want to be dealing with kids on this cruise which was not the case. There were kids EVERYWHERE on this cruise. Very family friendly. But, again, activities for all age groups and kids were usually avoidable except at buffet and pool. One negative I found was that smoking was allowed on the decks. So, when we wanted to eat breakfast by the pool and outside, we were always surrounded by smokers. Gross!!
Entertainment/Activities: Great shows every night. Second City was very funny. Shopping on the ship was good. Did not use spa but looked very nice. Art auction was FUN!!! We even bought some great art for a great price, way under appraisal value. Raffle for free art...we also won that. Great artists such as Peter Max, Tarkay, Picasso, Dali and more... Great art dealers. Cinema showed a variety of movies. Pub crawl if you want to drink (we did not participate in this). Casino and bingo also available and much more!!!
Food: VERY GOOD! Free areas such as 2 main dining rooms and buffet were great. Ate at main dining room twice. Had steak and prime rib. Husband had salmon and steak. Excellent choices! Service was average in main dining rooms. Many service personnel do not speak English well. Irritating. Buffet was abundant and excellent. Lunch and dinner better than breakfast. Many options such as: grill (burgers, dogs, etc), pizza, Indian dishes, Chinese dishes, pasta bar, salad bar, and many many other choices that were all excellent!! Ship has approx. 7 specialty restaurants which are for a fee $10-25/person flat rate. Went to one called Asian fusion. It was very good also. I was impressed with the food!
Service/stateroom: Average to Above average service. Average stateroom had everything we needed. We were at the bottom of the ship, though, and could feel it rocking.
Port of Call...BERMUDA and shore excursions: Awesome and worth the trip! Docked for 3 days at Dockyard/Kings Wharf, which allows you to see all of the small island. Day 1 in Bermuda we did a shore excursion called "Bermuda Triangle Shipwreck Snorkel". It was great. The tour guide on the boat was very informative about activities on the island. Water was clear and could even see the mast of sunken ship under water. Moderate amounts of fish for my experience (been snorkeling many many times), coral was dull, not that colorful. Interesting excursion. After excursion, we showered and went to a pub @ dockyard, Bermuda (Frog and onion Pub), had a few drinks and watched the World Cup. That night we took a ferry to Hamilton (the big city), ate at an EXCELLENT restaurant recommended by our excursion tour guide called The Hog Penny restaurant. Food was the best I had on the trip. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. In Hamilton, we attended the street fair that night, bought some art on the street and just walked around. Was great! Ferry back to the ship. Movie and bed. Day 2 in Bermuda toured the island via public bus and ferry. Took a ferry to St. Georges, bus to the Crystal Caves (which were very beautiful but $20 / person to see on a 30 minute tour) and the bus to the beach (Long bay beach) and then back to boat. There is no need to pay the ship for the excursion to the caves. It is simple and easy to do on your own. The beach was very beautiful, however, it was raining. Only few tourists and no locals were there because of the rain. Second City Comedy show this night. Day 3 in Bermuda did a jet ski tour in the am with KS Watersports (also not booked with the ship...booked online). Very fun for an adrenaline junky who likes to go fast. Choppy water and high speed on a jet ski=FUN! Later that day, we went to the dockyard beach. Snorkeled a little...many fish but murky water and hard to see. Terrible beach. Rocky and shallow, no waves. I suggest spending your time @ Horseshoe bay beach or long bay beach...not the dockyard beach. Back on boat by 5 pm to leave. Travel around Bermuda: We travelled by bus and ferry. Bought a 2 day bus/ferry pass for $20 each. Good deal, however, ferries from dockyard to Hamilton take 20-30 minutes and to St. Georges take 30-45 minutes. A cruise that actually docked in Hamilton would have been better. The bus was a good way to get around, but again slow. Good way to tour the island though.
Summary: Great vacation for the money. Ship is average to above average. Best for younger people in my opinion 20s to 40s. Remember, that for everything except tea and water...you have to pay. But, its like that on all cruises. Bermuda was wonderful. Everything beautiful and pastel colored. Bermuda is very expensive. Not a budget location. Food was great! Had a good time overall! Only true negatives were the abundance of children and the smallish pool which allowed smoking. Also the boat was rocky. Definitely attend the art auction if you like art...highlight of the activities on the ship for me. Cruise director was very friendly and hilarious. Good time!! 3 days in Bermuda was a perfect amount of time. Lovely cruise.