Cruised 9/18/10 - 9/25/10
Port arrival: came to New York via travel agent booked bus trip. We just rode in; bus parked at the door and unloaded us. Luggage was taken by cruise people so no lifting or hauling for us. Luggage was at door promptly (for us anyways, some people waited).
Check in: was a little confusing but workers were there to direct us. Going through the security check was OK - one particular agent was not too friendly. Not a people person.
Whole process was pretty quick even though there were a lot of people.
Once on Board - we found our room on deck #2 - Main.
TIP: if you are hungry when you get on the ship - the buffet is set up so go eat. We unpacked our stuff first as our luggage was there so we missed the food (stopped at 2:30PM) - so we didn't eat till the 6pm dinner. Room has lots of storage space. Put empty suitcases under the bed. Room size was adequate for two people but for more than that would be too small. I was a little upset about our cabin being so low on the ship but it was actually great. We were almost in the middle of the ship so wasn't too much movement. Our cabin was conveniently located right next to one set of elevators/stairs so was very convenient to get any where on the ship. We were one floor below the Golden dining room so we just walked up stairs and were right there for dinner. We took elevator up to 9th floor and were right at the Red Sail buffet dining room. EASY. Ship is a little confusing. By the last day we had it down.
All employees were great. We only met our cabin steward once but that was OK with us. Our room was kept very nice and tidy. We were spoiled - nice to come back to room and the bed is made in the mornings; and in the evenings, bed turned down with cute towel animals and chocolates.
If you like morning coffee, bring your own travel mugs. We would get up early, get coffee or cocoa at the buffet when opened at 6ish. Then check out sunrise or port entrance then went to breakfast. Easier to walk around with travel mug than the coffee cups they provided.
We preferred dining room eating more than buffet. The food was better and hot whereas buffet food wasn't the greatest and cold. Made to order omelets were OK (if you buffet it, best to go to omelet stations out by pool - not many people in line out there.) I love eggs benedict but theirs was not good. Also, they use powdered eggs for scrambled eggs and omelets so if you eat in dining room for breakfast can order fried eggs so you know they are real eggs. There was a 24 hour pizza place (good); a sandwich deli (very good - good tuna sandwich), a grill (burgers to order); a burrito bar and fish & chips (didn't try), these all have limited hours except pizza. Also 24 hour ice cream (not the best but OK). Could get coffee, hot tea, cocoa (awesome), lemonade, ice tea and water 24 hours a day but was on the 9th floor at the Red Sail area - another reason to bring your own travel mugs. One of our friends purchased a soda option for $50 something. Not a good bargain in my opinion. I'm a big soda drinker but made it through the week without soda. I did use my friends card a couple times but soda was fountain soda so not that good.
Dining room staff were great. Once they know what you like, its at the table when you get there. My husband likes ceasar salad with anchovies. They had the anchovies there every night. Chocolate melting cake was great, available every night. I always asked for it well done so not so runny, more like a hot chocolate pudding cake. Excursions: we didn't purchase shore excursions. In Halifax, we just walked around board walk area. If you want to see Peggy's Cove or anything outside of walking distance, then buy ship excursion. At St John's, we purchased, on our own, boat ride up Bay of Fundy. Once in US - the ports had people selling tourist tours. Portland area had trolley and boat rides to purchase on your own. Boston - we stayed on ship as we have been there many times. Our friends booked trolley ride and a boat ride easily. Since we stayed on ship while most people were in Boston, we had deck pretty much to ourselves - swam on our own, no one in whirlpools; and water slide to ourselves (not many people to see you make a fool of yourself)
Night Events - great shows; great illusion show and really great comedians. Just get there early to insure a seat. Gambling machines didn't pay. Tables were better.
We did purchase one excursion - that was the "Behind the Scenes" excursion, an inside tour of the ship. This was the first thing we did when we boarded the ship. On our 7 day cruise, there were only two of these tours on the last day at sea and only 16 people per group. (so only 32 people out of 2,974 are able to go) The cost was $95. In my opinion, well worth it. Was great to go to parts of the ship that only employees could go, including the bridge of the ship and meeting various department heads and captain. Only complaint was that we could not hear some of the people speaking due to noises from various equipment. Also received some nominal gifts. Nothing spectacular but nice.
Debarkation: If you have "carry on" luggage, you could debark early (by 8:30am). We choose option to put our luggage outside our doors by midnight the night before as we were part of a bus group. We were each assigned a zone number and given luggage tags with that zone number. Each zone was given OK to leave per there zone number. Worst part: after left the ship, they put all luggage in sections per zone number. There were so many people trying to get their luggage it was very chaotic. But once you got your luggage it was easy to get out. Just had to have your muscles to pull your luggage to your vehicle.
All in all, thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and being pampered for 7 days.