My wife, 10 year old son and I planned this cruise in January and later invited a good friend and her two teen daughters to join us. Having Cruised 3 times before, this was our first cruise with Carnival and their first cruise ever.
Overall, we had a pretty great time although there were a few glitches.
We arrived in New York City the afternoon before embarkation via Amtrak Lakeshore Limited from Cleveland. We walked the few blocks from Penn Station to the Hampton Inn MSG to meet our cruise-mates who had flown in to NYC a few days earlier. Hampton Inn MSG was nice. A bit cozy if you will as rooms in NYC tend to be on the small side.
Embarkation was simple and quicker than cruises I have done out of Miami save for one slight problem. I had in my backpack, a handheld digital scanning radio which I used to listen to Amtrak crew and railroad traffic during the trip. Turns out that evidently you can also listen to Carnival ship crew and they don't particularly like that. Carnival Security confiscated my radio, with the assurance that it would be returned upon debarkation. Sign some papers and done...
We stayed in on Veranda Deck, room 8378 and our friends were in 8380. Both rooms were reasonably clean although being a practicing germaphobe, I did my once over the doorknobs, toilet, TV remote etc. with the can of Lysol and an inspection of beds for bedbugs. None found.
Departing New York, we went up on deck for some photos and to view the Statue Of Liberty and the ship passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Later back at our room, we had our room attendant open the door between ours and our friend's veranda. It was at that point in getting settled in that we realized that the air conditioning in our room was not exactly making the room cool at all. I called Guest Services which, if they ever sent someone down, nothing was ever really done. The knob on the wall pretty much is for show only.
The first night was so warm in our room that it was cooler to prop the veranda door open and let in the ocean breeze. Unfortunately, the ocean breeze was heavily laced with cigar smoke from 2 rooms forward of us until well after 1:00AM. Ugh!
The first day at sea was cooler so the AC issue was not such a bother. Our kids enjoyed the pool and water slide.
St. John, New Brunswick was our first port-of-call. We took the Pink Bus tour over to the Reversing Falls. It was there that my son was slapped by an employee of the gift shop in the Reversing Falls Restaurant for doing nothing more than picking up a book to examine it.
Now I have actually spent some time in my life living in this area (Chatham, NB), and know that some of the locals can be, shall we say... "Crusty". But this was totally uncalled for. I saw what happened out of my peripheral vision and am positive my son was not being any kind of unruly. He just picked up a book and got slapped on the hand. Honestly, I was so shocked that I was left speechless. I could do nothing more than lay the t-shirt and post card I was going to buy on the counter in front of this person, and then turn to leave with my son in tow still asking me the same thing I was thinking. "Dad, why would she do that?" This event really cast a wet blanket on what could have been a great day in St. John. Instead of venturing into town, we just took the bus back to the ship and called it a day figuring ship activities were the better if not safer choice.
On a lighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the tides go in and out from the relative safety of our veranda for the rest of the day until departure from St. John.
That night we slept better in that it was cooler in our room with it being cooler outside with our veranda room door open again. Very foggy that night.
Halifax, Nova Scotia was our next stop. It was a cool 57 degrees. I was a bit apprehensive about venturing away from the ship after the event the day before, but my son and I decided to take the bus tour of Halifax and were not disappointed this time. Halifax is rich in history. Something my son and I are very much interested in. The best part was the cemetery where the Titanic victims were buried. I am no psychic or anything like that, but I can definitely say there are some very powerful and tragic vibes in that place like nothing I have ever experienced. Our tour guide was terrific and very informed. I would love to come back to Halifax some day to spend more time there and see it all.
Our final day at sea was fun and topped off with several whale sightings near Long Island.
Disembarkation was fairly simple, quick and uneventful. I was given my scanner radio back as promised at the security exit off the ship. A cab took us back to Penn Station for our train back to Cleveland.
All-in-all, a pretty good time.
As far as the ship, the only downers were the apparent lack of control of HVAC in our room, the seemingly inescapable cigarette and cigar smoke, and what I would consider to be fairly uncomfortable beds. Carnival could also provide a better quality line-up of TV channels. Speaking as a TV junkie, there just wasn't much to watch at night.
Positives were the ship itself, It's cleanliness, and it's very professional staff and crew.
Our dinners were all late seating and our wait staff was fantastic. Food at dinner was always good but I thought the food served during daytime hours was pretty ordinary.
The shows were not my cup of tea. Especially the Broadway style show. Thought it would never end. Comedians were OK. Gotta figure the better ones are doing their shows on the ships running the Caribbean.
We did not have super high expectations of a cruise to Canada but were pleasantly surprised by the overall experience. Our friends, who were first time cruisers were also pleased with the trip and are now eager to try other cruise lines and destinations.