We departed at the end of September so that we could see the changing of the colors of the trees during the first week in October. As it turns out, we were early and the leaves had not changed. Also we experienced rain for the first 4 ports (Portland, Bar Harbor, Saint John, and Halifax).
We drove about 5 hours to Bayonne where the parking and check-in went very smoothly. The TSA X-Ray line moved very fast and the RCL special check-in for Jr Suite & Diamond members was very fast. At this point things slowed down. After the check-in we waited about 5 minutes for a bus to take us the 200 yards to the ship. Once on board the ship on deck 1 we waited a long long time for the elevator to take us to the passenger decks. RCL needs to have those of elevators reserved exclusively for getting passengers on board (like Celebrity does).
The lifeboat drill unlike previous ones by RCL was held outside rather than inside in a public space. This is OK for spring/summer/fall More
cruises but might be a problem in the winter in New Jersey.
The Jr Suite was quite roomy and the price was only slightly higher that the best balcony. The balcony was very large but we did not use it. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. There were only two electrical outlets by the desk.
The Diamond Member discount book in the room was a major disappointment. For Diamond members (10+ cruises) they gave us 30 minutes of slow internet time (for a 9 day cruise/3-minutes per day); GET REAL!! Also they gave us $10 off a $25 bag of wash/fold laundry. Celebrity gives it for free and $50 worth of internet. It also appears that there is a separate charge if you use your computer (wi-fi) and not theirs. If you use their computers you can not save any information. People on the last day of the cruise tried to contact their airlines to print their boarding passes. The only problem was there was no paper in the printer and no one to help. After waiting over 10 minutes (with the internet clock ticking) some people gave up.
Since we have never been in the part of the world, we took some shore excursion unlike most of our cruises.
In Portland, we made on-line reservations with a private firm prior to departure for a trolley tour. The tour office as about 3 blocks from the dock. By making the on-line reservation we save $1 per ticket and had a space reserved for us. It was worth the money.
In Bar Harbor we took the ship tour to National Park and Cadillac Mountain. The tour was OK but it except for the rain. I would have like to spend more time in the town if the weather was clear and warmer.
In Saint John, we took a private city-bus tour for $20. It actually was on a city bus but it took us around to see the major sights including the reversing falls. It was worth the money.
In Halifax, we used the ship's Peggy's Cove Tour with a hop-on trolley of Halifax. The hop-on was interesting but not worth what they charge if you only book the trolley tour. The Peggy's Cove might have been more interesting but it was raining. About 20 tour buses parked outside the gift shop and almost everyone were inside. We were given 1:30 to shop (along with the other 19 buses). Not a pleasant experience. My advice is to skip Peggy unless the weather is good and you like to see the country-side.
We tried the "MY-Time" dining option. Before departure we had booked dining times online. Every night we tried to use our times, RCL had to hunt to find a table for us. Usually the wait was less than 5 minutes. One night we tried the Windjammer Cafe for dinner. We were very pleased with the selection of food, many items that were on the regular dinner menu plus more items that were not.
The shows were not much, in fact they were probably one of the poorest ones we've seen in our 30 cruises. The exception was the ice show.
When we arrived back in Bayonne, all went smoothly and we were on our way back home by 9:20. Less
Explorer of the Seas Cruises to Canada & New England