My husband and I were on the same New York to Halifax trip that L P Baron took. We were cruise "virgins" and had a truly wonderful experience and would recommend it to anyone. Boarding was efficient and pleasant. Our charter bus arrived before noon and we were aboard by about 12:30. A small bottle of champagne was a pleasant touch. Our luggage did take until after 5:00 to arrive at our cabin(we did see it sitting by the elevators hours before but an officer insisted that we allow the steward to deliver it). At one point another couple arrived at our cabin door under the impression that it was theirs. Since we had been upgraded from a deck 4 D7 cabin to a deck 12 D12 cabin , we could only assume that they were destined for some very nice upgrade as well - they just had to find out what it was. we were assured by a nearby officer that all was in order and we were where we belonged. He even knew our names. We also met our room steward early-on and he made sure that we were well supplied with ice for my Pepsi-One. We had an inside cabin #12013 and I was a bit concerned that it would be dreary and smoky smelling. ( We are both non-smokers) Happily I was wrong on both accounts. The layout of the cabin was efficient and felt remarkably spacious for it's actual footage. We could hear no noises from any side and the climate control was effective and easily adjusted to our liking. However, if you tend to feel the effects of rough weather it helps to get out of the cabin so that you can focus on things that are more distant. The weather for our four night "sampler" voyage was somewhat less than optimum. Departure from Red Hook, Brooklyn was on a dreary, misty, foggy afternoon the remnants of a hurricane. The Statue of Liberty was soon lost in the mist and we encountered a Force 10 gale while passing under/through the Verrazano. My husband ventured up to the forward observation area and was impressed by the strength of the winds. The sail-away party in the deck 12 enclose pool, area was fun and a pleasant start. Once we were out of the protected waters of the harbor we were subjected to rather rough conditions with winds and rain causing deck access to be restricted. Them first night was a bit exciting with rough seas (10 - 15' swells) making dancing in the ballroom an adventure. We found the daily newsletters to be the key to planning your day. We were never disappointed. The seminar about Sinatra was professional and informative. We heard good reviews about the Elvis seminar too, although we didn't have time to catch that one. We attended the dance lessons both line and ballroom both sea-days. The ballroom teachers were excellent,patient and incredibly graceful. The assistant cruise director who had previously been a dancer taught the line dancing and made it a lot of fun. The tea dance and afternoon teas were relaxing and pleasant. The key is ... get there early. We were never made to feel like "cattle" Our room steward was efficient and very accessible. Our choice of first dinner seating was the right decision. It gave us more time for the evening's first dance session in the ballroom. The cuisine in Britannia was excellent, well prepared and presented faultlessly. Our waiter "Gin" was a first-rate professional, pleasant, sweet and took the time to answer my rather nosy questions on his history with the ship and his observations on the differences between Queens Grill service and our Brittania service.(Brittania was a step-up for him in a number of ways) Gin was truly a treasure. The food in Britannia was first class. The Grills seemed to offer more selections but the quality was equal. And, we don't know how the service could be any better. Every item was properly prepared, served hot, and personal requests exactly taken into account. We also ate lunch and breakfast in Britannia and were not disappointed. King's Court made for very nice breakfast and lunch stops with wonderful variety. We also visited there late several nights after the evening's dancing was over. It was just what we needed for a late-night nosh.
Our first full sea day was marked by improving weather and gradually calming seas. The second night was marked by The Black and White Ball. We all dressed for dinner, dancing and the show and were treated to the nearly full moon lighting our wake during a late night stroll on deck, how romantic. Our day in Halifax was interesting. The weather was dreary-- breezy with mist and on & off light rain. We opted to not take any of the organized tours. We struck out on the harbor side boardwalk which runs from the cruise terminal to the casino and passes by many shops and eateries. The Maritime Museum was bright and airy. It contained a collection of articles from the Titanic. I watched a short movie about the horrible explosion that leveled most of the seaport during World War One, so I even learned some history. Everywhere we wanted to visit was open. We didn't realize that Labor Day (do they spell it "Labour"?) was a holiday in Canada. I had some yummy ice cream and we explored many shops. The casino in Halifax was comparable to some in Atlantic City. Seemed fairly loose. We did well. The casino on the ship, while small, was also loose (at least for us). We came out a little ahead there too. I think the key is to do your homework. READ the newsletters, so you know what to expect. We were not veteran cruisers, but we learned quickly and everyone on the ship was polite and professional. I was impressed when a server at the buffet showed a passenger how to use the hand sanitizer before grabbing a plate. With all the nationalities present, it was helpful. There were signs behind the stations reminding workers to wash their hands. Obviously the Captain is not a "people person". We, in our section of the Britannia, never actually saw the man even though our table was next to what we understand is the "Captains" table. I mentioned this one day to a lunch companion who was a very experienced cruiser and she explained that most Captains attain their position by technical excellence rather than through social skills. Now they have well trained crews to handle the technicalities and more time for socializing. Some enjoy and are good at socializing and some are not. Oh well, can't have everything. We see that he is moving to Queen Victoria so he must be doing many things right.
Our second sea day was the return trip and it was simply beautiful. This is what it is all about! Disembarkation was easy and painless as long as you get up on time and mark your bags well. Parting was such sweet sorrow. But, we hope to visit our queen again someday.
A & B Sheneman