We chose this cruise because we had not been on this itinerary before and it seemed like a good alternative to the Caribbean. When we first booked the cruise, over 1 year before sailing, our travel agent told us that the only option for dining was my time dining. When we met with our travel agent he asked us which seating we had chosen and explained that he had earlier told us that there was no seating times and only my-time. So I am not sure if he messed up when we booked or that the cruise line later added the two seating times. Our travel agent believes that with my-time you can just show up and let them know you would like to eat, that is far from the truth. Luckily I found on the cruise website that you can preset your my-time dining times as opposed to waiting until you are on the ship. There was always someone waiting to be seated that did not have a reservation and was handed one of the vibrating pagers waiting for a table to open up.
The next big problem with the my-time dining is that the waiter is dealing with multiple tables that are in various stages of eating their meal, from waiting to order, getting their appetizer, getting their main course or waiting for their dessert. It really does take an organized person to be able to keep up with all of this. For the first three nights we were sat at a different table each night and found that the 3 waiter was struggling with all of this. On the fourth night we were seated at Yaser's table and we new we found a winner. Yaser made the dinner wonderful and we made sure we were seated at one of Yaser's tables each of the remaining nights.
It was explained to me by a dining services manager that the servers in the my-time dining room are the more experienced servers, which makes sense when you realize how much they have to juggle.
It has been about 3 years since our last cruise and I found that the food in the main dining room was not up to the level I expected or had experienced in the past. One night we had a pork dish that had very salty sauce. Another night I had a pork dish where I found the meat to be tough. Some nights we found the variety to be lacking as well.
We used the Windjammer buffet for breakfast and lunch every day with the exception for two lunches we at while off the ship. I found the food to be very good for a buffet with one complaint about the breakfast. I like lox (smoked salmon) with breakfast and was disappointed to find it was not available on the breakfast buffet. I asked someone about it and was please when he said he would get it for me. I asked for lox probably 3-4 times and was gladly provided with it. So why not have it on the buffet? The other complaint was that on the last morning, departure morning, why are the usual assortment of pastries available when it appears the rest of the breakfast is normal? I really liked their chocolate covered doughnuts and was disappointed there were none.
This cruise was our 25th anniversary and I had ordered a dozen roses for my wife 3 days before the cruise. When we got on the ship I was surprised to find they were not in the room but thought they might show up after dinner. They did not and I managed to slip away from my wife to go to guest services to ask about the roses on Monday. I was told by the representative that they would look into it and let me know. I told him not to leave a message as I didn't want my wife to get the message. I checked back with him later that day and he said he has not yet heard back from the corporate office and I should check back the next day. When I did he informed me that someone was getting them from the port we were in and I should have them later that day, saying he would call and ask for me if my wife answered. He called and said I could pick them up at guest services. I was able to sneak away from my wife and get down to guest services and asked him to please have them delivered to my room, since they should have been anyway. When we got back after dinner I was surprised to find a dozen roses sitting on the table, without water or a vase. I returned to guest services to ask them to please provide a vase which they did the next day. It would have been nice to have them from the 1st day and not half way thru the cruise.
After a few days on the ship we found our message light flashing on the phone only to find that there was no message. I had reported this to guest services and it was still flashing. I also reported this to our room steward and she seamed to be able to get it cleared, but only for a few hours and then it came back on. The problem was we have three children in college and told them that if they needed us to call the cabin and leave a message. So each time we entered the room we had to keep checking the phone to see if someone left a message. When the light first came on it was noticed during the middle of the night and we thought we missed a call. Makes for a disturbing nights. I was told this happens, but you would think they would fix it.
I found my cell phone would shift from land based cellular service to the ship based service when we were sailing but had difficulty in receiving text messages at times.
Initially my wife and I had chosen 2 ship based excursions, one in Saint John NB and the other in Halifax. In Saint John I wanted to the the Bay of Fundy and Fundy trail. I specifically wanted to see the sea caves in St Martins. I had contacted the cruise line's excursion department to get specifics about the excursions. The usually responded in about 24-36 hours with answers to my questions but could not provide the exact information I wanted as to whether or not we would be able to walk out to the sea caves given the tour time and the time of low tide. I asked the excursion desk once on board the ship and was told they would look into it. It was not until the night before we were in Saint John that I finally got a message from the excursion desk telling me that they heard from the tour operator and that we would not be able to walk out to the caves. I had already cancelled the excursion anyway because I could not wait for them to reply. For Halifax we were going to take the excursion to Peggy's cove.
After plenty of research on this website I realized that I could book my own excursions and not rely on the cruise line, and save a lot of money. We rented a car in Portland, Saint John and Halifax. In Portland we drove to six lighthouses, google it, and then went to Kennebunkport using Enterprise which picked us up at the ship and would return us back, but we chose to walk back. In Bar Harbor I booked a tour with Acadia tours as well as walked the shore path and walked out to Bar Island at low tide. In Saint John we rented a car from Avis and drove straight out to St Martins and the Fundy trail. Originally the trail was supposed to be closed for cars as of Columbus day but they had extended the opening which we found out from the Avis rep. After driving the Fundy trail and seeing the Salmon river we returned to St Martins and had lunch at the Caves restaurant, which has the best seafood chowder I have ever had. In Halifax we rented a car and drove to Peggy's cove as then on to the Flight 111 memorial and some other coves on the way back to Halifax. We returned the car and then walked up to the Citadel which was worth the admission.
I am so glad I did the research and did our own thing, plus saved a lot of money. The highlights were Kennebunkport and the sea caves.
All of the cruise employees we met on the ship were very friendly and eager to help out. The ship was very nice and we found it be very clean. We had an inside cabin on deck 8 and found it to be adequate and what we expected. One lesson I learned was to bring a nightlight as the room is totally dark when all the lights are out. The only issue we had with noise was people letting their door slam shut or people slamming drawers closed.
We were a little disappointed in the amount of activities going on while at sea and wonder if it has more to do with the weather being to cold for pool based activities. The entertainment that was brought onto the ship was great but we found the ship based shows to be okay but nothing to rave about. The Vibeology show could have been better, it's tough to listen to an Elvis song sung by a woman, same thing with Beatles tunes.
The one issue I had with the shows was that on the last night there was only one show time offered and the main act, the comedian was only given about 25 minutes of time. He was funny and it would have been nice if he was given the same amount of time the other acts were given on previous nights.
My wife would have attended some of the aerobics classes but was not willing to pay for them, that was a disappointment. In the past there was not a fee for these classes.
We drove to the port from our home and parking was $20 a day and the parking lot is about 1 block away.
I recommend RCCL and would recommend this itinerary. However I will not do it again anytime soon since there is a limited amount of sights to see or things to do in each port.
The room was nice and met our needs.
We visited 6 light houses and went to Kennebunkport via rental car.
We used Arcadia tours and walked shore path and out to Bar Island
Rented a car and drove to Peggy's cove and Flight 111 memorial. Then walked to the Citadel.
Rented a car and drove to Fundy trail and St Martins and the sea caves. Check the tide charts!