About us: We are a retired couple in our early 70's. This was our 11th cruise, 2nd on Royal Caribbean. It was also our 2nd cruise to Canada/New England. We chose this particular cruise because our local AAA was running a special ... Read More
About us: We are a retired couple in our early 70's. This was our 11th cruise, 2nd on Royal Caribbean. It was also our 2nd cruise to Canada/New England. We chose this particular cruise because our local AAA was running a special that would provide us with transportation from NE Ohio to and from the port of Baltimore.
The ages on this cruise ranged from about 12 mos. to the mid 90's. Since school was still in session, there were only a few teens and grade school age kids. Most were in the 2-5 year old category and were very well behaved. Probably the majority of the passengers were in the 50-70 range.
First, let me clarify that an average cruise is a good cruise. We had fun, we met friendly, interesting people, and we saw some interesting ports. There just wasn't a lot of the WOW factor I have come to expect from a cruise.
One particular WOW--the crew was outstanding. They were polite, friendly, and always ready to help. On the first day, we noticed that the sink in our cabin was draining very slowly so we reported it to our steward, Rowena (a master of the towel animal, by the way). By the time we returned from dinner, it was fixed.
Although we chose My Time Dining, we were asked to give an approximate time when we would be eating. We showed up every night between 6:30 and 6:45 and our table was always ready for us. Our waiters, Eloisa and Jely Ann couldn't have been nicer.
Special mention also goes to the Cruise Director, John Blair, and his wife, Katrina, the Activities Director. They were probably the best we've ever had. John's Neil Diamond Tribute show is outstanding.
The ship itself is older and is showing its age. I understand it is due for dry dock in a couple years. It was okay but nothing particularly exciting.
Food in the Great Gatsby Dining Room ranged from very good to excellent. We ate there as often as possible, including breakfast and lunch when we could. The tomato sauce for pasta tasted a lot like what we had as kids on Spaghetti O's.
On the other hand, food in the Windjammer was uninspiring. It was mostly same old/same old. Especially disappointing--the waffles, pancakes, and French toast were pro-cooked and just sat there under a napkin getting cold and hard around the edges.
We saw most of the theatre shows, including Salute to Broadway and All Access featuring the ship's singers and dancers. We also enjoyed three of the guest entertainers, singer Michelle Murlin, Olympic gymnast Lance Ringnald, and Vegas star Clint Holmes. There were a few others we skipped.
During the afternoons, pianist Anna entertained in the Centrum, She was great. The Bluewater Band took over during and after dinner, with plenty of easy listening and dancing music. We never did go to hear Giovanni in the Schooner Bar. The pool band, Positive Vibrations, didn't get much chance to play because the weather was so chilly.
The bad: Mainly our cabin. We had an ocean view on Deck 2. I did not realize how much having the beds block access to the window would bother us, plus there's hardly no room to walk along the sides of the bed. I will never again sail without a balcony. I also feel RCI has gone overboard on either economizing or ecology consciousness, or both. Soap and shampoo made no lather. Toilet paper and facial tissue were flimsy and harsh. AND there was NO chocolate on the pillow! Now that's what I call bad.
We booked all our shore excursions through the ship.
The first port was Boston. We had been there many times before so we took the excursion to Historic Salem and the Witch Museum. We stopped at the Derby Wharf for lunch at a local restaurant and shopping at the National Parks Gift Shop, only we really didn't have time for both--just grab a bite and get back on the bus because we had to be at the Witch Museum by 1. So we got to the Witch Museum, saw the presentation, which was very good, and had 15 minutes in the gift shop. Then back on the bus and rush back to Boston. There was no time to walk around Salem. When we got back, we found out that the bus was taking another tour group somewhere. That's why we had to rush so much.
In Portland, we took the Taste of Maine tour. We rode a bus to Long Lake and took a paddlewheel boat ride. A lunch consisting or lobster roll, potato chips, and bottled water was served on board, Then we took another bus ride to Pietree Orchard for some excellent apple pie and a hayride through the orchards, just budding for spring. We were only about 30 miles from the Maine/New Hampshire border, and you could see the snow on the mountains in the distance.
In Bar Harbor, we took the Intimate Look at Acadia National Park tour. When we were here before, the weather (October) was beautiful but the park was closed due to a government shutdown. This year, the park was open but it was so foggy you couldn't see much. Still, our driver provided an interesting narrative and we stopped at Thunder Hole and the Jordan Pond House gift shop.
The next port was St. John, New Brunswick, where we took the St. John and Bay of Fundy Top 10 tour. We saw the reversing rapids, bought candy bars at the City Market, and enjoyed a local entertainer singing Irish folk songs at O' Leary's Irish Pub, where we also had a glass of Moosehead beer. Then we rode out to the fishing village of St. Martin where we stopped for a delicious lunch of fish chowder or minestrone, biscuits, and freshly-baked cookies. We had time to walk on the beach and search for lucky stones. On the way home, we stopped again at the reversing rapids to see how the water level had changed.
Our final port was Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we visited the Famous Peggy's Cove Fishing Village. The setting was beautiful, very photogenic, but it was COLD. The high was 44 degrees F, but the wind chill was down near 32. I bought a winter hat.
We like the convenience of sailing out of Baltimore but probably would not do this itinerary again. There are some other interesting trips offered, so we might look into those.
One piece of advice--wait until later in the year to sail north. This was the first trip of the year, and it was just plain chilly. Read Less