A medium sized ship (2106 guests), the architecture is probably the least impressive of the 6 cruise ships (on 5 lines) that I have been on. The atrium area is small, and there is no grand open promenade. The décor is heavy ... Read More
A medium sized ship (2106 guests), the architecture is probably the least impressive of the 6 cruise ships (on 5 lines) that I have been on. The atrium area is small, and there is no grand open promenade. The décor is heavy on old New York City scenes (reflecting the name of the ship). The main dining room is functional but not grand; the prettiest décor is at the Pinnacle Grill. The Italian specialty restaurant, Canaletto, is simply a section of the buffet area that was “roped off” to become a paying restaurant. There are two pools; the largest one, which is adults-only, has NO shade except in the smoking area. The mid-ship one is much nicer but also much smaller. It has tables and chairs in addition to the lounge chairs, which is a nice feature, and plenty of room in the shade. The ship is not really geared towards families, as the passengers are mostly over 50; I may have seen a dozen children among the 2000 passengers. The main lounge area, the Crow's Nest, is on the 11th deck and difficult to access if your cabin is at the rear of the ship. The library is there, and consists of coffee table travel books that are meant to be read in that room. The ship has three sets of elevators, and we seldom had to wait long for one. The casino is tucked away on the 2nd deck, so you don't have to encounter it if you don't want to – a nice feature.
A note about which is the best side of the ship for ports of call, if you have a verandah stateroom and like a view while docked: The starboard side has the best views of Key West and the Dominican Republic, but not of Half Moon Cay. Not sure about Grand Turk, since we never docked there due to high winds.
We only used the main dining room for Afternoon Tea, eating mostly at the Lido Market Buffet. Food there was good but not terribly varied; breakfast had the same items every day. A major difference from other cruise lines is that for the most part passengers do not serve themselves; you tell the crew member what you want and they put it on a plate. This cuts down on germ-spreading but also slows the line, and you have limited control on how big a portion you get. There is an Italian and Asian food area at one end of the buffet. Desserts were good but again not exceptional; for a cruise line known for its food, I expected more variety. The dessert crepes (at the end of the Italian food area) were the best. For breakfast, the eggs benedict were excellent; they are at the end of the line with the English Breakfast items. Drinks were brought to you, although there is also a serve-yourself area.
This was the most disappointing aspect of the cruise. It cannot compare with other week-long cruises we have been on (Royal Caribbean, Princess,and Celebrity). On the main stage, there are two shows by six dancers, and two comics. That's it for the week. This is comparable to what we had on a four day Bahamas cruise by Carnival, and can't hold a candle to the Broadway style shows on RC. The first show by the dancers was excellent, the second almost boring. We did not attend the comic shows, but other passengers said one was good, one not so much. There are several (loud) music venues with limited seating on the 2nd deck. Daily activities on board are also less interesting than other lines; many of them seem geared toward selling you things. Overall, you get a LOT more for your money on other cruise lines when it comes to entertainment.
Top-notch. The crew is the friendliest and most helpful I have seen on any cruise. The waitress at Caneletto even remembered my name when I saw her on the ship the day after we ate there.
PORTS of CALL
Our ship was the first in port that day, and therefore got the better dock: the one with the easy walk into town (less than a block). Note that if you get stuck docking at the Navy pier, you have to take a trolley into town. I don't know if our ship always gets the “good berth” but I am glad we did this time!
We had visited Key West before, so we did not take a guided tour. We did go to Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum, which is an easy walk from the ship. Admission is $15 but the exhibits are interesting and well-done. Be sure to take the time to wander a bit out of the tourist area, down one of the residential streets, to get a feel for the graceful Southern air the town has. Also look for the free-roaming roosters around the historic marina !
The ship was unable to dock there due to high winds. Apparently this happens frequently, so I would advise NOT booking any shore excursion here that could be done on another island (such as snorkeling). Based on what we could see from our verandah, the island is windswept and not especially scenic or even tropical-looking.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Amber Cove)
My favorite port ! The ship docks at Amber Cove, which is a “village” created for the cruise line. It is lovely and well-maintained, with lots of shopping. We took the Ocean World Day Pass excursion, and it was wonderful ! The staff there was friendly and very helpful to my husband, who has mobility issues. We didn't realize that the park is built on the side of a hill, so the walking was difficult for him. They not only loaned him a wheelchair for free, the staff pushed it for him. The park itself has great animal shows (approved by the Humane Society and World Wildlife Fund). Don't miss the dolphin show ! The seal show is excellent also, as is the parrot show. The only mild disappointment was the Shark Encounter, which is not really a show at all; you simply watch other tourists pet the sharks. We ate at their restaurant, from the menu, and the food was good and reasonably priced. The gift shop is nice as well. One thing to be aware of is that you cannot wear eyeglasses if you do the Dolphin Encounter (for the safety of the dolphins). So if you have poor eyesight and no contact lenses, you may see “fuzzy” dolphins !
HALF MOON CAY
I had read so many good reviews of this private island in the Bahamas that perhaps I was bound to be disappointed by aspects of it. The site itself is very nice overall, but was not built with older guests in mind, especially those with mobility issues. The map shows there is a tram to take people to the lunch buffet hidden behind the shops, but we did not see any sign for it while we were there. When I asked an employee about the buffet, she said it was a “five minute walk” down the path, with no mention of a tram. As for the beach, the sand and water are beautiful, as is the architecture along the beach. There is a cute children's play area (which went unused while we were there, with so few children on the voyage). It was high tide, and the beach was very narrow - in fact, the first two rows of lounge chairs were literally in the water! Perhaps the beach was eroded by Hurricane Dorian, but it was way too narrow for so many guests at once. The only chairs available on the beach (without renting an expensive cabana) are lounge chairs, which are nearly impossible for someone with mobility issues to get in and out of. Another surprise: If you want a bottle of water, it costs $4.50 ! So be sure to bring your own water bottle from the ship. Read Less