I throughly enjoyed our cruise and would recommend this ship and a Canadian/New England cruise. Foremost, the crew was amazing, especially our main dining room staff and state room attendants. I appreciate the hard work, attentiveness and ... Read More
I throughly enjoyed our cruise and would recommend this ship and a Canadian/New England cruise. Foremost, the crew was amazing, especially our main dining room staff and state room attendants. I appreciate the hard work, attentiveness and kindness. They provided the personal touches that made the experience special. The food was excellent (especially in the main dining room, most hit or miss in the wind jammer), the amenities were good (pools, flowrider, perfect storm slides, ice skating), the entertainment we saw was very good (especially the ice show and lounge entertainment). The experience was everything I was looking for, being: pampered, indulged, wowed, entertained.
Background: Our group of 10 included four kids (4-9 years old), four adults in the their 40’s and two seniors in their 70’s. None of us had been on a cruise in the last 10 years. We were celebrating a 50th anniversary and looking for lots of family time, interesting ports and food choices that would accommodate various eating preferences.
Embarkation: Half of our group flew into Newark the day before embarkation and stayed at the Country Inn & Suites near the airport. They had good reports about the hotel and it provided a shuttle from the airport to the hotel (but not to the cruise terminal). They took an Uber to the cruise terminal in the morning. Two of our group took an Amtrak to Newark the morning of the cruise and took an Uber to the terminal. My group drove to the terminal and parked their. Parking was $140 for the cruise and we got covered parking in the structure. The parking area is right next to the embarkation area, maybe a five minute walk. Embarkation was easy, if a bit chaotic with the different lines (screening, check-in). We arrived quite a bit earlier (2 hours) than our scheduled check-in time and there was no problem getting on early.
Stateroom: We had five interior staterooms on deck 6. The rooms were small, but not as small as we feared. The furniture, rugs, cabinets etc were in pretty good shape, but not as good condition as the public spaces. We were very pleased with our choice of an interior room. The darkness helped with sleep and relaxation. The rooms were overall very quiet, but there was some early morning noises of carts rolling coming from service decks below. Deck 6 seemed like a good location: close to the Royal promenade and dining room. Our stateroom attendants were excellent, hard working, friendly and engaging with the kids. Thanks Suseno and Renalto!
Dinner: We had all our dinners in the Sapphire main dining room. We were happy with our choice to eat there over the Windjammer. None of us tried the specialty dining options. The food ranged from good to excellent. We took our server’s recommendations and were pleased. The excellent dishes were: lamb chops, escargot, burrata, beet and greens salad, prime rib, lobster tail (yes, there was lobster night), crab cake. The desserts were also very good, especially the cheese cake, molten chocolate cake, warm cookie with ice cream, creme brulee.
The dinner service was great. Our server, Seddely, learned our preferences and had food ready for the kids when we arrived. He pampered us with extra servings without asking. The head waiter, Nikolai, arranged for special food for a gluten free member of our group and had a special cake ordered for the celebration of the 50th anniversary we were taking the cruise to celebrate.
The extraordinary thing the dinner service did was expand the size of our table. We had ten people at a table that would comfortably sit eight. We had been on the waiting list for the early seating, so I was happy to be there at all. The dining room staff noticed we didn’t have a lot of room and on the third day they had a carpenter on the ship cut a piece of plywood to fit on top of our table to give us more room. It was truly exceptional and kind service.
I had mixed feelings about the early, 5:30pm, seating. It worked with the kid’s schedules, but we missed the sights as we left three of the four ports at 5:30pm. We could’ve switched to the Windjammer those nights, but I did enjoy the main dining room.
We tried the windjammer and main dining room. The main dining room had its usual excellent service and entree choices not available at the windjammer. There was a flourless chocolate cake with rsaperiees at the main dining room that I only saw at the first at-sea day that was extraordinary. I guess I don’t have much to say about the lunches, they were not a food highlight.
we tried the Windjammer, main dining room and room service (free options only) for breakfast. All three had similar options, but the main dining room had an a la carte menu in addition to a buffet. Regardless of the venue, I thought the variety of croissants were the best pastry items. The omelet station in the windjammer had the freshest food which was a nice change.
The highlights were the more active amenities: Flowrider, perfect storm water slides, rock climbing, ice skating. The staff at the water sports and the rock climbing stood out as being really supportive, there was a very positive feeling. The 7 and 9 year olds were tall enough for the water slide (48” min., I believe), but only the 9 year old was tall enough for the Flowrider (52” to boogie board). I rode the water slide a few times and it was pretty thrilling. The lines were moderate on our cruise, but I could see them being quite long on caribbean cruises with warmer weather. Ice skating was fun and it was cool that the skaters from the ice show handled the logistics of the open skate sessions so you could see them off the ice.
We didn’t go to too many of the entertainment events, but what we saw was very good. The ice show was amazing, not to be missed. The show was very creative and the skaters very skilled, especially for such a small space. I was impressed that they had 10 skaters!
Our cruise was over July 4th. There was a balloon drop on the Royal promenade in the evening and a very good rendition of the US national anthem by one of the professional singers. It was cool to see the prep in the morning, quite a production.
I saw the big band perform a few times which was quite good.
The kids loved the boat, especially the food :) We didn’t use the onboard child care, so I can’t say anything about that.
A very well run cruise. I would recommend this cruise line, ship and itinerary to others. Read Less