We stayed the night before our cruise at Country Inn and Suites in Elizabeth,NJ. We didn't drive up this time but took Amtrak to Newark Airport and used Independent Driver for all our transportation needs. They were excellent and will definitely use them again!
We arrived at the port around 11:00am and walked right in. We went thru the Platinum and Above area and were seated in the waiting area by 11:20am. Around noon the shuttle busses began to board and we took the short trip to the ship. We weren't very hungry after a big breakfast at the hotel, so we just got salads at the Windjammer. It wasn't very crowded at the time and we had no trouble finding a table for two.
It was cool with off and on showers for the first two days but there were pleanty of things to keep us busy. Our ship didn't leave port until 11:30pm due to some propeller repair that was ongoing throughout the cruise, but, we never missed a port. We were never late into port and were even an hour early in some!
We had a JS on the aft and didn't like it as much as we liked our hump cabin on a previous Explorer cruise. The balcony was super and we enjoyed a lot of our time out there, however, the older Voyager class ships have obstructed views due to metalwork across the entire back. You could still view the wake and off to the sides but that doggone framework was always in your view.
The cabin seemed smaller compared to the hump cabins, the walk in closet was very small (we thought) but still offered lots of storage. It was not large enough to store our suitcases, but they fit easily under the extended counter along the wall opposite our bed. We had a very nice cabin steward, Emmanuel and he kept our cabin spotless. It was extremely quiet on the aft but it is alooong walk to the elevators. Deck 7 was very convinient to any of the other areas and would be happy here again.
We had chosen My Time Dining as we have done in the past and were very pleased! Natasha was our hostess and she is a jewel!! Nicole was our waitress along with Sydney as her assistant and we were so very spoiled by both of them. They, along with Natasha will be on vacation when we sail in March and we sure will miss them!!
We had been to all the ports before, but still enjoyed each one. The trees were colorful but before we arrived the entire area had been affected by lots of wind and many of the trees were almost bare. This didn't affect the overall beauty of the area though.
Departing the ship on the last day was smoother than any cruise we have taken. We had luggage tags for 8:45am since we had an early train to catch and they actually called our tag number at 8:25. We boarded the shuttle immediately and easily found our luggage. Waited in line for customs for five minutes or so and we were out the door. Independent Driver was waiting for us and got us back to Newark Penn Station in plenty of time for our train.
This was more of a "senior aged" cruise but the ship is quite spacious so there were only bottlenecks after the shows were over. I think we counted five families with small children and they were very well behaved and cute. Kudos to their parents!
The crew is wonderful, they were very friendly and helpful. We had one very bad experience with a guest relations person, but a phone call to his director took care of that, and, we never came in contact with him the rest of the cruise. Many thanks to Renee and Benita from Loyalty Bookings who helped me book and link a cruise to include our friends who will be going with us on another cruise. They gave us the same $200 booking deposit for them as we received.
All said, it was a lovely cruise, great drinks and food,crew and especially Captain Henrik who could not have been more friendly and outgoing. This guy will go far with RCCL. Hope not too soon though, we want to keep him!