First time on RCCL for us and it was terrific! Being budget minded these days it was also our first time booking an interior room. Pleasantly surprised by our "cave" as we affectionately called it, we had some great nights sleeping in total dark. Plenty of room for me, my husband and our 5 year old daughter. The room was SO clean and had no smell except clean and neutral. We had room 8629 and Frankie was our attendant. The hallways smelled clean too. Ask me why I am mentioning this? Because on our last cruise on NCL Dream (supposedly refurbished) to Bermuda, the smoke smell in the hallway was a killer and the "old and stale and smokey" smell in our cabin was a huge turnoff.
Anyway, we lucked out and had Indian summer during our whole trip. The days were warm and sunny for the most part and the ocean was like glass - so no drugs for motion sickness needed - yipee! Aza, our waiter and Janet Jackson our head waiter and Aza's helper...not sure how to pronounce his name, were WONDERFUL!!!! Everyone spoiled our daughter who turned five on the trip. The photographer Juanita and the man photographer were terrific too and fun to chat with. Carolina at the front desk was stellar in helping me with a promotion issue from my travel company. We gave them all gifts and/or extra tips. They so deserved it!
We've been to Portland a million times as we live close by in Mass. so we just walked around town and then had a 3 1/2 hour liesurly lunch and plenty of cocktails at DeMilo's. Then we walked back past the ship on the paved walkway to the little beach. It was a bit further than we thought and the beach was very rocky/sharp shells but the weather was divine in the mid 80's. Lovely day for a walk and dip our toes in the ocean.
Swam and did the water slide on board and off to a great dinner!
Next day was Bar Harbour. Again - BEAUTIFUL weather - low 80's. I had hired Bill Williams for a private taxi tour (recommended here on CC). He was great! We learned a lot and spent all the time we liked up on Cadillac Mountain. Phenomenal day. We also went to Thunder Gulch but the sea was so calm and glassy that no waves came in. Bill dropped us off at the Jordan Pond house where we had a most luxuriant lunch - luxuriant in that we were hungrier than we thought and DEVOURED our popovers and bowls of lobster stew and then pigged out on brownie sundaes and blueberry coblers. What a feast! Such a treat and do note that the place is not a fancy place where you have to be all dressed up - it is more of a lovely almost modern place in architecture with a casual atmosphere. The day was gorgeous so my daughter and I ran and played on the back lawn (along with many other kids and dogs and fun folks) and went down to Jordan Pond itself where the water is supposedly the cleanest and clearest in all of Maine. I believe it! Good spot to take pics too.
Dinner that night in Chops. Started out a bit awkwardly with the pacing and timing of the service. It seems as though the wait staff in these specialty restaurants is inexperienced at best. But...after two glasses of wine on our end, it was all good! Delicious meal and dessert.
Next day was St. John. Excursion prices were steep so we did our own thing and walked the harbor walk and went into the indoor "mall" area and the market place and up to the little park and then down to O'Leary's pub. My husband had a few pops of Alpine Moosehead Beer and was happy for the day. No need to go on the "brewery" tour RCCL pushes. They don;t even go to the actual brewery but they just go to O'Leary's for a pint. Some law that prohibits Canadian breweries from having tours if they want to export to the US (ever since 9/11). We heard from more than not that that Bay of Fundy and the tide change was no big deal mostly because being there during the day did not allow for watching that actual phenomenon of the tide change. So we skipped that. I DID want to go swimming at the really cool aquatics center and if I had known that it was attached to the indoor mall area we would have brought our suits with us on the initial off ship exploration. But...after a GREAT and casual fish and chips lunch at Steamers, we lost our steam and headed back. The Carnival ship was docked right "in town" but alas our ship was a much further walk so we just headed back and swam on board. This was just an ok stop for us.
Next was a sea day and time to finally explore the ship a bit more. Something I didn't realize with this trip is not having a sea day right off the bat didn't leave much time at the very beginning of the trip to explore.
Next day was at Halifax. I had done all sorts of research. We hemmed an hawed still though as to whether to hire a taxi tour to go to Peggy's Cove or Lunenburg or around town. We decided to just stick around town and walk the boardwalk. It was just lovely and a fine cloudy but mild day. We shopped and ate our way along. The Maritime museum was fine - not something I personally would go to if I did the trip over again. The Titanic stuff was interesting but if you are not really into ship models then you may consider passing on this. We then hopped the $2.25 ferry over to Dartmouth. I takes 6 minutes and was a fun ride! Transfer back is included! I was surprised that Dartmouth is quite a big city too. I was thinking that it would be a quaint country setting from the limited info I found and that was not the case. Kind of industrial and not warm and fuzzy so we walked to the playground and then got back on the ferry and went back. Ate lunch at teh Salty Dog. Expensive - ish for lunch and just so-so. The most fun shopping was the farmer's market right at our terminal and then at Pier 22. Lot's of good X-mas gifts! Next time we WOULD go off and see the countryside but we loved our Halifax proper day just the same.
Overall, the RCCL trip was really, really good. Our daughter did Kid's Club on the two sea days and was begging to go back. It was a quality program. I will sail them again!