This was our first cruise where we were able to drive to the port and that worked out great: no sitting around airports, lugging cases through the metal detectors, having to throw out toiletries that are over 3 ounces, etc. We arrived on the day before sailing and stayed at the Hampton Inn Staten Island. This Hampton Inn and its sister property the Hilton Garden Inn have a deal where they allow you to park for the duration of the cruise for no fee if you stay at least one night. They also shuttled us to the cruise port (20 minutes away) and also picked us up on return. It was a great deal and avoided a lot of stress.
Although the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne NJ is not glamorous (housed in an revamped warehouse), it was a very smooth and quick check in and the view of the Statue of Liberty and NYC are excellent.
This cruise has 2 1/2 days in Bermuda so you are on the ship a lot. There was a tremedous amount to do, however, not counting things such as the usual casino, pool activities and evening dances. Dr. Paul Davies, a physicist from the U. of Arizona, gave a series of one-hour talks on astronomy and beginning, middle and end of the universe. A former White House employee spoke on the history of the White House and its many famous guests. Plus, there was trivia, dance lessons. More often than not, we had more to do than time to do it. Absolutely no complaints there. The musicians were very good to excellent; the dancers, singers and comedian were about par. The pianist Salci was excellent and allowed the musicians to show off their talent.
The Cruise Director Mike and the Captain were everywhere. In fact, I have never seen so much officer engagement. They participated in bean bag tosses and dance contests. Both, plus other officers, attended the Cruise Critic Connections party, and the Captain gave us a private Q&A during a tour of the bridge. I must note, however, that this was Mike's last cruise and there also was a changeover of at least one of the other hotel (front of ship) managers. This ship is going out of service soon for refitting and it appears that everyone is leaving or about to leave.
Having given credit where credit is due, I now must turn to the areas where improvement is needed. While the public areas were in good condition (if dated in style), our cabin was in poor shape. A loose tile in the bathroom stuck to your foot and lifted right off of the floor. The curtains had over a dozen holes or rips in them, some of them large. The balcony door was so difficult to open that an elderly person could not have safely managed it, and it could not be closed from the outside. As other Members have noted, there was a recurrent smell of damp or sewage in various areas of the ship.
The greatest disappointment was in the main dining room. The food was never more than just OK. The service was basically neglectful (other than the assistant waiter, who was very prompt but could only do the things assistant waiters do). Although we ordered the same drinks every night, the bar steward seldom appeared without being asked. Sometimes drinks would be waiting, but only for some of the people at the table. The same thing with the sommelier - half the dinner would be through before he would appear and once the entire order got lost. On one occasion, the waiter completely failed to come for our dessert order and on one occasion, he took the order but never appeared with the food. We never got out of the dining room in less than 2 and 1/2 hours! We would be sitting there, still awaiting our food while the waiters reset the tables for the second sitting all around us.
I'd also point out to persons considering this ship that they stick to wine and beer if they choose to order alcoholic drinks. The cocktails were absolutely the weakest I have ever had, on land or sea.
There were no organized activities for the older teens (15-18) other than dances that did not begin until midnight (and eventually it was later, 1 a.m.). Then, they would get hungry as teens invariably do, and there was no choice of food available - nor would room service deliver to teenagers. How can you require teens to stay out so late and not expect to give them the same services other guests are entitled to, or at least services and food that are appropriate to their age and tastes? The parents would have been happier, and the kids would not have complained, had the events started earlier.
I am happy to say we made some very good friends and Bermuda was lovely, but this ship needs a lot of work. Our general conclusion is that the staff (other than the officers and CD) exhibited a pervasive lack of interest in pleasing the guests.