About us: married, ages 27 & 31. Third cruise, second on this class of ship. At first I thought this was a nifty fifties cruise, but we really saw all kinds of ages. Groups of 20's, couples with infants/toddlers, etc. Many were first timers and a lot of people from NJ/PA, New England. Not as many NY as I expected (at least not the people we chatted with).
Embarkation: Face it people, this is north jersey. Yes the port and check in area could use some renovations, but it does the job of getting you through and onto the ship. It's a bit strange to take the bus ride for 2 minute when some could easily walk to the ship, but it is fairly well organized. Only two complaints here, the guys handling the luggage made sure to inform us it is usually $2 per bag for them to throw it 5 feet from your car. Sorry buddy, I'll do it myself! Need to save my money for the casino! Other complaint was though the restrooms have big signs pointing to them, the one is only 1 stall and the line got pretty long. The other (I found out later) had multiple stalls.
The Ship: We were on the Adventure before, so we knew what to expect. The public areas were very clean and looked new as ever. Staff are as usual constantly cleaning and keeping up with it. The promenade was full of options with the different stores, bars, the café with snacks, etc. It's fun just to sit here and people watch if you are early for dinner or in-between activities.
The Room: We had balcony room 9590. Location was great, nearer to the back which made it easy to run up to the pool or down to the dining rooms. The room size and amenities were good, only a few minor complaints about wear and tear (a bit of a stain on the rug, mirror slightly peeling in bathroom, rust on balcony walls, drawers in need of WD-40). I would think she's due for a reno of the rooms sooner than later! I would especially like a bigger balcony table like I hear about on the Oasis for room service dining!
The Food: We are always pleased with the dining. We only ate in Windjammer twice (boarding lunch and day in port lunch). We like to make the most of it and go to the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is nice with the addition of the fruit/granola bar. At lunch we had great gourmet salads from the salad bar. Dinner our wait staff was excellent (table for 2). The head waiter listened to my husband rave about the bread pudding on the Adventure, and even though he told us it was not on this 5-day menu, it appeared especially for us on the last night! The food is very good. You cannot go in expecting 5 star quality NYC restaurant every night – think about how many people they are feeding! There are lots of options and all very well presented. We had sea bass, roasted duck, pork loin, steaks, lobster, escargot. Good baked goods and unique dessert options every night as well.
Portofino: An excellent meal. Well worth the extra cost (though we had vouchers). It does take a while to dine here, so allot extra time. We had shrimp risotto, beef carpaccio, minestrone soup, Caesar salad, veal saltimbocca, lamb chops and tasty desserts. Their bread and selection of spreads not to be missed either! **Tip** we went on Monday night, the night the ship is docked overnight. Our waiter told us this was a good choice because the Monday night menu isn't super exciting since many people don't come back to the ship for dinner.
The Pool: The first day at sea the water was a bit chilly, but it warmed up in the sun. There were not as many people on the pool deck as I would have expected, always a chair available and plenty of room in the pools/spas.
Entertainment: They do a very nice job. The dance show is well done but not my cup of tea. The 2nd production show is more singing and I liked that one better. Ice show is impressive. Comedians were good (I liked the 2nd better). The Quest Game was entertaining - amazing what adults will do in the presence of strangers!
Bermuda: See my trip report of our 2 days in Bermuda here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g147255-i208-k3950667-Trip_Report_Hamilton_South_Shore_Beaches_and_Snorkel_Park-Bermuda.html
Disembarkation: We had breakfast in the dining room, which allowed us to squat a little longer. We were in no rush. Our luggage was waiting for us and customs was quick. We just wheeled our bags to the car instead of pulling the car around to the loading area.
Overall: This was a great trip. It was so easy to wake up in Philly, drive to the ship and be done with the travelling in less than 2 hours. I would be a little hesitant to go on this trip too early in the spring or too late in the fall since the air was definitely cooler in NJ. On the days at sea you could feel the change from cool to humid air on the way down and reverse on the way back. The water seems a little rougher in the Atlantic than the Caribbean cruises we have done in the past, but still not very noticeable. Highly recommend this for a quick getaway or first time cruise!