We flew from South Bend, IND to Boston, MA with a layover in Detroit. I have flown many times & have never had any issue with delays so we decided to fly in early that morning rather than the night before. While on the runway in South Bend we were advised there was ice on the planes wings so they were going to de-ice it. About ten minutes later the pilot apologized and said the de-icing vehicle did not have gas in it so they were fueling it before it would arrive. By the time we were on the way we were about 40 minutes behind schedule. We flew Delta and they only have about an hour layover in Detroit. By the time we landed in Detroit we literally ran from one end to the other to board the plane to Boston, and were the last to board, making our plane by about 3 minutes. After that experience I would hesitate to fly and board the same day in the future.
In Boston it was sunny and we opted to take the Water Taxi from the airport. There is a free shuttle at the airport which takes you right to the pier. A CB handset with a direction sign allows you to call the water taxi. They were floating not far off the pier and we boarded easily. The taxi does make other stops on the water front but the ride was great and it only cost us about $12 each. It was definitely a scenic way to arrive in the city and afforded us wonderful photo shots of Boston and the ship when we came around a bend.
We got off the water taxi right at the boat on a boardwalk. There were no lines and we were able to walk right up to check in. Our bags were taken quickly by porters and we only stood in line for about 5 minutes before being attended to by a very nice lady who checked us in. I had been slightly concerned because we do not have passports. We do have Enhanced Michigan Drivers License's which are issued by Homeland Security for the purpose of driving across the border. We also had our certified birth certificates as stated on the website requirements for closed entry loop cruises to Canada. I did not see anyone else around us using these type of documents to check in as most people had passports. While we had no problem with our check in process and were cleared quickly for boarding, I would consider a passport in future Canadian cruises as I think it might have been even quicker to get thru the check in.
As we were approaching the gangplank to board the ship we were shuffled in for the first of many photographs by the ships photographer. I have no problem getting a few pics but there are literally photographers everywhere you turn throughout the week. It is beyond annoying. Eventually we started refusing pictures and going around the photographer stands.
We finally boarded the ship around 2pm. The ship is a nice size but not so big that you can't quickly navigate yourself to the layout or get around in a reasonable amount of time. We went to the Windjammer Buffet to get a light lunch. The tables were all packed so we went to the outside pool area and sat down to eat. It was breezy and a bit chilly but it was nice to be in the sun.
Our rooms were ready as soon as we boarded and our luggage was there by 6pm. We left the port at 5pm and stood towards the rear to watch our departure. Watching Boston slip away in a setting sun was magical.
We spent the day walking the ship and were the only ones playing mini golf at 10pm. There were plenty of things to do on board but we preferred exploring on our own and enjoying our time walking the decks.
We chose to utilize room service for all of our breakfast's. This allowed us to eat leisurely while getting ready to get off at the port of calls. I found on cruise critic an article about a lady who made little tip bags filled with hard candy's and thank you notes to give to the employees who brought room service food. As it was almost Halloween we did these tip bags and they were a hit with the employees. I'm glad we took the time to make that extra effort of appreciation to those who made our trip so enjoyable.
We ate lunch in port. We did not go to the formal dining room for any meals. There were several reasons for this. We do not like to dress up on formal nights, we did not want to be seated at a large table with strangers (I know some people love this part of cruising, we prefer to enjoy the time to ourselves as our jobs at home have us on opposite hours), and we have plainer tastes in food preferring a good Italian pasta and marinara compared to some of the more "fancy" dishes being served. With that said, we found the other places to eat more than adequate in choices, flavors and quality. I believe we would continue to dine in this matter on future cruises. We did not eat at the reservation only establishments which required additional fees. Being our first cruise we felt we would have enough choices with out the additional cost.
We enjoyed the movie cinema which showed fairly recent movies, most of which we had not seen. We also went to the magicians show. We thought it might be a little hokey but we really enjoyed it and were glad we went. We went to the tango show and it was wonderful. The other dancing/singing show performed by the ships performers we skipped. They seemed a little too silly, singing songs that would be more appropriate for a cruise commercial, and you could catch the show on your TV the following night. We had intended to use the rock wall but on the days we could have the weather was not cooperating. Mini Golf was fun, the hot tubs were open but packed so we did not go. The other amenities looked nice (gym, shuffleboard, ping pong, etc) looked fun but we had so much to absorb that we just never got around to it.
Our days at sea were extremely wavy. My partner took Bodine religiously and had not problems with sea sickness. She did not enjoy the constant rocking motion of the ship and the feeling of compression (compared best to a non stop light headed feeling) that came with it. I don't get seasick and the motion did not bother me more than it was becoming annoying by nightfall. Luckily our 2 days at sea were spaced apart and knowing that we only had to endure a day of it before we'd be right back on land again made it easier to deal with.
Our favorite spot was sitting on the interior balconies by the coffee shop, drinking coffee, playing cards and listening to the music coming from the bottom of the centrum. The band they had there were amazing and watching the "older couples" dance at random below was sweet.
The ship never felt crowded although on sea days you did notice more people around however we were always able to find a place to be by ourselves.
I loved the aspect of cruising and being able to wake up, be at port, enjoy a day in port and get back on the ship was fantastic. No driving, no traffic, literally 24hrs of doing whatever , whenever we wanted.
All the employees went out of the way to be friendly. They remembered our names and our likes/dislikes.
I purchased the Romance Package to be waiting in our room on arrival. I had non-alcoholic champagne, red velvet cupcakes, a gourmet breakfast in our room one day with mimosa's, silver picture frame with a picture from the cruise of us, appetizers delivered to our room before dinner one night. Cost wise I felt this was an excellent value. There were a few issues though. The order menu showed the cupcakes were vanilla, my significant others favorite, however red velvet were delivered, not so much a favorite. I think substitutes should be avoided especially when it comes to food/taste. Because we had avoided some of the photographers after a week of being hounded, we did not have a 8x10 photo to put with our frame. I explained to the clerk, this was fine, we would take the frame and if it was OK , a smaller 5x7 pic and I'd find a way to matte it at home. She continued to pressure us into taking another picture. After having just come from a port with rain we did not feel like having a picture taken looking like a drowned rat. I thanked her but assured her I would rather take the smaller picture. She continued to rant but after a few minutes she stopped and supplied the frame and smaller pic. The breakfast served in our room could only be ordered by physically going down to the main dining room and finding our assigned head waiter. Due to the fact we had not been dining in the formal dining room it became a big production and 3 employees to bring our waiter out to us. He then "scolded" us for not being in the main dining room and wanted to know why we had not been there all week, and how our table-mates were disappointed and on and on..I felt like my dad was there ready to ground me. I know they depend on tips but we tipped anyway and being an adult I did not appreciate being made to feel guilty about where I chose to eat on MY vacation. I feel RCI could handle this whole dining situation differently and as far as the breakfast, I should have been able to order it via the telephone like we did for room service, or thru my cabin steward to took our breakfast cards the rest of the week. Due to these two incidents, I most likely would not order this package in the future.
I did all of the planning for the trip thru the Internet on my own. RCI's website is easy to navigate and between that and cruise critic I was able to get any questions answered. I enjoy the process of planning and researching our vacations so being able to have total control during the booking process is important to me. I also booked all our off shore excursions on my own utilizing the internet and Trip Adviser's ratings. This saved us easily 50% off the cost of excursions. If we were to go to a European Cruise, I would rely more heavily on the ships excursions due to language and geographical restraints, but for the Canadian area I felt comfortable navigating the towns on our own.
I would jump at the chance to go on another cruise and would search RCI first for their options. My partner will go also although she is not as fond of sea days, she was relieved to know she wouldn't get sick and I think she will be more relaxed next time knowing what to expect.