We are a family of 4 from Los Angeles that have cruised 20+ times on various lines, including RCCL, Princess, Carnival, NCL and Costa. We are in our mid 40's and have 2 kids - DD 16 and DS 14. We have sailed Mexico many, many times and have sailed Hawaii, Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean and recently, New England. We enjoy ship life just as much as the ports and try to balance them out. This itinerary didn't have enough sea days for my taste but all of the ports were new to us and that was attractive.
We flew into Baltimore a few days early and stayed at the Homewood Suites in the Harbor East area. Although I really enjoyed the location, I thought the room was on the small side for the $200+ price tag. They offered breakfast that we enjoyed and the staff was very helpful. They even allowed us to leave our bags there post cruise since we had a late flight home. It was a quick walk to the Inner Harbor and we finally made it to the Aquarium. Very nice Aquarium.
The morning of our cruise, Baltimore had an early morning storm that knocked the power out at our hotel so we headed to the ship early since there wasn't much else to do. We had to wait over an hour to board the ship but that was expected. We had priority check-in so we were amongst the first people to board and headed straight to the Windjammer. Within 20 minutes it was PACKED!
Let's start with the food... Overall, I thought the food was pretty good. We were not big fans of the Windjammer because of the crowds and often the selections but the quality seemed fine. We skipped breakfast most days but sampled breakfast in both venues and I think the breakfast in the Windjammer was better than the MDR. Lunch in the MDR included the salad bar and by far, the salad bar lunch was my favorite meal on the ship. I would have had it every day if the MDR was open.
We had late seating and that worked out perfectly. We had the best wait staff and we were extremely pleased. Lenson and Di were AWESOME! Our dining companions weren't exactly what we had wished for but they were nice people. One of these days, we are going to get matched up with another family with teenagers.
Ports... We enjoyed Boston and Bar Harbor the best. We opted to see each city on our own with the exception of St John where we had booked the Pink Hop On Bus. I felt the bus was not worth the price, especially for 4 people. We should have taken a cab to the Reversing Falls since the town was within walking distance from the ship. And actually, we really should have done the Jet Boat ride or the Zip-line instead. Next time!
We saw most of the shows except the group called the Happenings and apparently, we missed the best show. We liked the shows and my favorite was the Juggler. We thought the Cruise Director, Jimmy, was personable and entertaining. We spent WAY too much time (and money!) at Bingo but we had won 2 jackpots ($355 and $17.83 - split by 9 people) and my son was feeling lucky so we kept playing at $55 a machine. Crazy, isn't it???
Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise. We were in the mood for a low-key vacation and we got exactly what we asked for. The crowd was older than our other cruises and that wasn't a problem except for the non-existent night life. It was weird walking around the ship at midnight and only seeing the teenagers around. Our own teenagers stayed with us the entire cruise and although I tried hard to meet other families through the Meet and Mingle and teen programs, they preferred to hang out with us. We had 2 connecting cabins and that was wonderful. Having 2 bathrooms and 2 TV's is great with teenagers and worth every penny.
Would we sail with RCCL again? Yes, in a heartbeat. Living in Los Angeles, there's a good chance our next cruise will be with Carnival or Princess since RCCL is leaving us. That's probably OK because each line offers something different and our last 3-4 have all been with RCCL so we'll be stepping over to the dark side. ? Don't worry though, we'll be back!
Until next time...