Embarkation and First Day: Cape Liberty was a breeze. We drove from Southeastern CT, and it took less than 3 hours even with a 25 minute delay before the GW Bridge. We pulled into the port at 11:35, and by 12:00 we were sitting at a table in the Windjammer overlooking the Statue of Liberty. It was a very efficient process, you pull in, drop off your luggage and park. Check in and pictures took less than 5 minutes, and then you take a 1 minute bus ride to the ship. The Windjammer was clean and well run. O.K., the food wasn't to die for, but it was fresh and you could always find something decent. Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Flavored water were free of charge at lunch. Desserts were great. Where else but on a cruise to you have lunch dessert every day? After lunch we played a game of miniature golf, and shot some hoops until our cabin was ready at 2:oo. We had a Jr. Suite and I highly recommend it for a family of four. It was larger than a regular sized balcony room, and with a 12 and 14 year old, we needed the space. An unexpected bonus was the size of the walk-in closet which for us doubled as a changing room. The bathroom was a little bigger too with a full sized shower. There was an incredible amount of storage space in the cabin. The walk-in fit my husband and children's clothes, while there was an additional closet with shelves that fit all my non-hangup clothes, toiletries, etc. There were two desks (one was more of a vanity), and other cupboards that we didn't even use. Our empty suitcases fit under the bed. My son and daughter were not thrilled at the idea of sharing a roll out but they got over it quickly. After unpacking, exploring, and attending the drill, we went to the sail off party and looked in amazement as we went under the Verrazano Bridge. It took my son about 5 minutes to find another 12 year old to play ping pong with and it was the first of about 100 games for him! We went to a comedian show at 7:45 (hysterical) and our first dinner in the Magellan Dining room at 8:30 seating. We had an amazing table right in the middle next to the captains table at the bottom of the grand staircase, and really lucked out with fun table mates with kids similar ages to ours. Dinners would last about 2 hours each night laughing and enjoying the company. The food in the dining room was much better than I expected. There was lobster tail, prime rib, this delicious asparagus and brie tart, and great shrimp and scallop skewers. After dinner there was a fun parade and I'm sure you could have gone all night but we never made it up past 11:3o.
The Kids: On the remainder of the at sea days our kids kind of did their own things, and we would join each other for meals and shows. The teen club (age 12-17) had some fun activities that were actually kind of cool. There was a scavenger hunt the first at sea day that had them running all over the ship in groups. Too funny to walk down the promenade and see my son and his group stopping for free cookies at the promenade cafe in the middle of their quest. They also played this fun "dare" game where my son was dared to find an older woman and propose marriage. My daughter got it on video with him on his hands and knees. My daughter found friends to hang out at the pool with, and my son and his new friends created this multi day ping pong tournament. They also did the rock-climbing wall, played basketball and were pretty active.
Bermuda was a lot of fun, my husband and I had gone for our honeymoon 18 years ago, and it was as beautiful as ever. We got the 2 day ferry/bus pass and this worked out well. The first day we mostly toured.... Hamilton, The Crystal caves, Horseshoe Bay Beach, and Fort Scaur. On day 2 we spent the day at Elbow Beach and relaxed. (beautiful) the kids body surfed and we lucked out with a beautiful day.
Shows and Entertainment: We enjoyed most of the evening shows on the ship, comedians were all pretty funny and dancers talented. My husband wasn't as interested in the dancing shows, but made the best of it and only rolled his eyes a few times. We played some trivia contests, gambled a little (won $34.00 woohoo! better than losing) and then lost the 34.00 in BINGO. We even managed to squeeze in relaxation poolside, and reading on our balcony. It's amazing how much you can do in 5 days when everything is right there. We never made it to an ice skating show but I heard great things about it.
More on Dining: We usually ate at the Windjammer for breakfast but one morning ate in the dining room and it was great. They had Eggs Benedict and other great offerings, as well as a small buffet with muffins, pastries and fruit. Windjammer's breakfast was great too with lots of bacon and sausage and an omelet station. We had lunch in the dining room once and was great. One lunch we grabbed some sandwiches at the Promenade,and a the other days at the windjammer. All of our dinners were in the Main dining room. I'm sure Portofino was nice but we really enjoyed our table so had no reason to pay extra for anything different. We ordered room service once, there was this artichoke and spinach dip with tortilla chips and ate it while getting ready for a show on one of our Bermuda days where we didn't have much of a lunch. I can honestly say that except for some ice cream at Horseshoe Bay Beach, we did not spend any additional money on food.
I'll end with our unexpected last day magical moment. Somehow we were assigned the last check out time which was 10:30-10:45. This was great since we had our own car and the day off. The windjammer stopped serving at 9:00, and we lingered over breakfast until about 9:30. We had an hour to kill so we walked down to the Promenade. The stores were closed and the crew was setting up for the next Cruise's sail away party. It was really quiet and empty and out of nowhere, a pianist and violinist from the orchestra stood on this small platform and began playing the most beautiful music. It was just the two of them but the music carried as the deck was almost empty. We sat at a table right in front of them and had this almost private concert. They were amazing and we just sat there listening for almost an hour until we heard the announcement that everybody should now be on there way off the ship. One tip to share...lock your smart phone in the safe when you arrive and don't look at it until you're in the car on the way home. I didn't look once and it felt great to completely remove myself from the office for 5 days. Have fun!