This cruise was planned to celebrate my Mom's 75th Birthday. 14 family members (ages 14-75) boarded the August 6th-13th cruise. We took 2 minivans loaded with 14 people and many bags of luggage and headed to the Wharf. We left at 10am, the trip took about 30 minutes and we were parked and unloaded by 11am. Embarkation was very quick and we were onboard by 11:30am. We spent the afternoon exploring the ship, eating and listening to music.
Ship: This was a beautiful ship. Numerous areas had been renovated. You are greeted by a beautiful lobby with 3 glass elevators, a grand piano, fountains with dolphin statues, 2 huge stairways, customer service areas and a small fancy coffee cafe.
Cabin: We had 5 cabins for our group of 14. 3 cabins we inside cabins and 2 had windows. All the cabins were near each other. My cabin was #6509. The inside cabins were #6509, #6511, #6513, and outside cabins #6512 and #6514. The cabins were smaller than other cruises but we survived with 4 in our cabin. The bathroom was bigger than expected with soap and shampoo dispensers. Sleeping was a little tight and the cabin was smaller when the beds were set up. We had 2 twin beds with a rollout twin bed that rolled out between the 2 twins. The 4th bed was a pull-down twin that was mounted on the wall. We had some minor cabin issues. Our closet door fell off, the molding on the night stand was falling off, we lost the toilet for a couple hours one day and lost the shower for a couple hours another day. We had plenty of storage for our suitcases. We slid the biggest one under the bed and the rest were put in the closet or the space at the foot of the bed. The TV was small and channel selection lousy but we weren't on the cruise to watch TV so this wasn't a problem.
Itinerary Change: We were suppose to be in Bermuda by Sunday afternoon and we were leaving on Tuesday afternoon, but because of a Tropical Storm near Bermuda we didn't get into port until 6am on Monday morning. They did extend our stay until 8am Wednesday morning so we got our 2 full days.
Food/Meals: We didn't find the need to eat in any of the Specialty Restaurants. We had all of our breakfast in Raffles. It was a delicious bountiful buffet with 3 made-to-order egg stations a waffle station and a crepe station. You could also eat in one of the 2 sit-down restaurants (Windows and Garden Room) or ordered Room Service. Our lunches were eaten at many different places (except the 2 sit down restaurants). There was a huge buffet lunch in Raffles, lunch in the Bier Garden, smaller comfort food meals in the Blue Lagoon or a delicious Barbecue on the deck by the pool every day. All of the buffet meals had at least one delicious meat at the carving station. We wanted to have at least one point of the day that the 14 of us could get together so we agreed to have each dinner and watch the early show together each night. We made 5:30pm dinner reservations (for the week) in Windows or the Garden Room as soon we got onboard the first day. We dressed in our casual clothes and ate a very nice sit-down dinner each night and then left directly from the meal to the 7:15pm show. All the menus had the option of trying something new or picking one of the traditional items (steak,chicken,salmon,ect) that were on the menu every day. The desserts and service were very good. We usually ended our day with Chicken Wings, dips, fries, fish fry or soups at the Blue Lagoon (23 hour restaurant). Coffee, Ice Coffee, Tea, Ice Tea, Hot Chocolate, Milk, Skim milk and water were available 24 hours a day at any bar or restaurant that was open. You could also get the drinks in raffles or room service 24 hours a day. The soft serve and hard ice cream cones and sundaes were very good. There was a white and chocolate fountain for dipping everything from muffins to fruit to ice cream into.
Entertainment/Shows: We saw all 7 shows in the Star Dust Theater. We thought they ranged from a little below average to a little above average. The best show was the final show called Elements which integrated acts from the week into a central storyline. The worst shows were the Magician. Even with the elaborate props the "tricks" were easy to detect. The ships dancers were good (not great) but a little out of sync. All the onstage singing was very good. The Second City Comedy was alright, but nothing great (we saw them in 3 different shows). The M.C. for most of the big events (Kyle) was very good.
Activities: There were many organized activities onboard. My family got involved in many of these and even brought home over 30 prizes. The ship had a basketball court (we used for basketball and Dodgeball tournaments). Many members of the group got involved (won prizes) in the Ping-Pong and Shuffleboard Tournaments. We won a total of 3 prizes in the golf putting tournament. My brother/Sister-In-law won numerous prizes for 1st place in the Twist Contest and my brother also came in second in the "Dancing with the Stars" competition. Nephews won the Synchronize Swim contest. We also went to seminars, used the gym daily and ran the track. We also attended and participated in Karaoke, game shows and Trivia contest. The kids played pool, air hockey and foosball. We were so busy that we never had time to waste money in the arcade. Music/Bands/Singers- From the lounge performers to the bar singers to the show musicians to the bands, the majority of the performers were wonderful. Two of our favorites were the "Ironics" and "Arvin and Emily". You could find live musicians playing any type of music you wanted at some point during the cruise. Even some of the music oriented game shows used live music to play their songs.
Crew Members: I thought the majority of the crew were fantastic. Our cabin stewards weren't bad but they fell short in many areas. They never filled the ice bucket, took 2 days before changing the towels, never introduced themselves to us and an assortment of other minor issues which certainly didn't ruin our trip. I'm sure any of you who have ridden this cruise know "Happy Happy" and "Mr Naughty". They are the 2 morning people who squirt you outside of Raffles. Every crew member that served us or that we passed in the halls were very friendly and attentive. The only irritable crew member we encountered were the girls at the Guest Relations desk (ironic).
Crowds: I had heard that the ship was full. There were over 600 kids onboard. The passengers were very well managed. I didn't see any unruly adults or kids. Most of the common areas were not over-crowded because of the numerous activities around the ship. I don't know if it was the early times we attended things but everywhere we went (dinner, chocolate buffet, meal buffets, pool, shows, sit-down meals, contests, ect) had fast moving lines or smaller crowds. Bermuda: This was a beautiful Island. Several members of our group took a 4-hour tour of the Island. My family stayed behind and snorkeled in Snorkel Park, an experience we'll never forget. We also walked around the Boat Yard. On our last day we all took a bus to Horseshoe Beach.
Summary: Overall we had a great time on the cruise. I thought the food and musicians were excellent. The activities were very good and the theater shows good. The weather was very good and we got to see a school of dolphins swim beside the ship. Bermuda was a great destination and leaving from Boston was very convenient. We liked the ship a lot and thought the overall cruise was wonderful.