We chose this cruise because although there were not many places to visit on the cruise itinerary it got us away with our children for most of the end of the year school vacation holiday potential and likely cabin fever if we stayed home; we could drive or take a car service to the port closest to our house in NJ e.g. the convenience of not having to fly this expensive and busy time of the year; I had have very good to excellent experience with Royal Caribbean cruises in the past (3 previous) with the best being the Jewel of the Seas we took last Summer leaving from Rome visiting the Greek Islands.
We were very lucky to take a car service to and from the Port. Parking would have been just as expensive and with the car service we just drove right up to the entrance at 12 pm while everyone parking was in a huge line waiting to park (everyone ended up getting on board, some close to the Anthem of the Seas (AOTS) leaving time but with a lot of tension on their part. Bayonne looks like a horrible port to drive to and park. It is very industrial. Once we got right outside and into the port area embarkation went extremely well (someone immediately took our bags from Royal Caribbean (RC) at curbside then once inside someone from RC was right there to meet us, log us in, check our documents etc.) and we got right on the ship. We could not get to our rooms until 1:00 anyway so we went right to the Windjammer for lunch that was open (food was over all very good to excellent on this cruise - as we expect with Royal Caribbean (RC) as was the dining service). We would get our room keys (two inside cabins contacted by inside doors) for our family of four and got ourselves settled in our cabin until 1:45 or so. We could not log onto or do anything from that point on until after the muster drill as we were being herded to the muster area - we went and it was empty so we went to customer service, sat on line for a while only to be told nothing would work until after the muster drill. I had previously signed up for "We will Rock You," and "The Gift" prior to boarding since I knew this would probably be a full ship (it was). So, we went to the muster area, were herded together with people coughing all over us from the sides and behind when there was plenty of space in the theater (at some point I just moved our whole family out of the crowded area to a completely empty area that got the one of the muster guys from RC miffed but someone else from RC said it was ok and we moved to an empty area where more of the older people were (who may have been frail but were not coughing all over us - we have an 8 and 13 year old and them (or us) getting sick on vacation would have been a disaster - luckily we ended up being spared but for a few sniffles here and there). Muster drill finally started at around 3:05 and it ended around 3:30 where after that it was too many people congesting the walkways, everyone trying to sign up for activities at once, huge lines at customer service (hour plus wait), so we just gave up trying to sign up for any activities, got dressed and went to the indoor pool / hot tub that had excellent towel service, great service in general (people picking up empty drink glasses and plates etc.) and hung out for a while. Later we went to sign up for activities and we could barely get any (we wanted to try trapise for our daughter, IFly, Flowrider, bumper cars, going up on North Star etc.) We managed to get IFLY on the last day (8) and North Star the night of getting off at Cape Canaveral. There were a lot of children of all ages on this cruise naturally, so much so I am not sure upper management at RC was ready for the onslaught of activities. When we went to bumper cars we waited 45 minutes to get a 15 minute ride for our family to smash into each other - a lot of fun and luckily they did not really want to do this activity again. Trapise we waited in line two times, with both times getting times two hours after we waited on line to find out how long we would have to wait to go to the activity - with our 5:30 dinner time always getting in the way so we never got to do the trapise (daughter saw other people doing it and decided it would be really easy for her anyway - still I wanted them to go). One time we made it to roller skating for son and father; other time was a more than one hour wait again cutting into our dinner time so we passed. North Star was whippty do (pretty much nothing - no real thrill). IFLY was a terrific experience for our family for the last day Flowrider was fun for us to try but the line was huge pretty much any time it was open. We waited a lot in to go in not the best weather for it. Weather was cool over all getting into the 70's once we got South of the Carolinas or so. High winds at the beginning and end cancelled Flowrider a lot. Flowrider instructors were really nice - in fact all the activity instructors / helpers were really nice, patient and understanding but they were overwhelmed with the amount of people, long lines like the guests were. In retrospect management dropped the ball with activities. They should have had Flowrider open around the clock every day it could have been opened. Trapise should have been opened times other than dinner and much more often. Bumper cars and roller skating should have been more often. My assumption is RC just did not have enough trained sport staff to run the activities available on this cruise or upper management completely dropped the ball on how many children / people would want to participate in activities - Duh - the ports were inconsequential and it pretty much was a cruise to nowhere and back. Oh, bad weather cancelled the Coco Cay stop so we had two days at Nassau, Bahamas (OK, but would have preferred Coco Cay as that should have been the highlight stop of the trip for beachgoers). My time dining again is a mess to start with. You have to sign up for a restaurant - we just picked Grande every night at 5:30 and were glad that we did. Food and service were over all excellent and to RC standards we expected. We also had 'The Gift" cancelled with the rescheduled day and time in conflict with our IFLY so naturally we were happy to do the IFLY. We were not impressed with "We will Rock You," - I was bored out of my mind and fell asleep for bits though a lot of the guests seemed to like it. We did like the Spectra show, really liked the comics. Was impressed with the juggler / comic and did like the entertainment over all. For a cruise ship entertainment was very good. Fitness center was always so packed when I visited it (two occasions) I completely avoided trying to exercise, though the only reason I really walked in was because I was bored, had nothing really to do and got a moment to get a way from kids - so I was happy walking around and really did not want to exercise anyway - though if I was really determined it was crowded to say the least. Pools were over all small for the demand - weather often necessitated going to the indoor pool that was overcrowded. When weather was decent outdoor / indoor pool demand was adequate. Unfortunately, there was way too much hurry up and wait for all activities that I blame upper management miscalculation on so I give fitness and recreation a poor mark. On board experience is again mixed because the room was beautifully kept, comparatively large, worked well and again service was excellent. Main dining room food and service was very good to excellent. Windjammer was a bit better on Jewel of the Seas in Europe last Summer but again was very good to excellent. Ship crew did not seem as smiling and happy as the crew on Jewel of the Seas this past Summer. That may have been due to the onslaught of people / persistent long lines at any activities or perhaps the cooler weather so though not as good as Jewel of the Seas this past Summer still pretty darn good onboard overall experience. We did enjoy Cocoa Beach - just got off the ship and took a cab to Ron John surf shop and hung on the beach until we took a cab back. We were afraid of going to Disney World etc. for that day due to severe congestion at the theme parks for the Christmas week we were warned against. Nassau has good shopping well explained by the RC staff - so they were spot on for that, though we did not buy high end trinkets. Ship did work well, did not seem overly crowded. Not enough nearly customer service representatives as any time I had to deal with them (signing up for activities) the line was huge (our cards did not work initially so had to work with customer service to get them to work after on-boarding). Customer service people were helpful and competent when you finally got to them. So, like the activity / sports people, they were great when you were finally able to work with them over all. We walked up to Fin-castle ourselves on Nassau and spent two days at the local Junkanoo beach that was fine for us. Just swimming at a beach for the three days was all our family really wanted to do given the itinerary (as opposed to the European cruise itineraries where there is a lot more for us to experience). Caribbean ports just do not compare for us in comparison to European ports, though beaches are fine / shopping especially for higher end trinkets (jewelry / watches) probably is better in the Caribbean. So we did not shore excursions but none interested us for this cruise so I rate it as average. We still thoroughly enjoyed the cruise despite occasional hiccups due to again what I would blame on weather and upper management mismanagement. Winter cruises one can not expect ideal weather - so there were a lot of activities, some were for people who tried like us unfortunately just unable to go to, room was excellent, service was very good to excellent, food was plentiful and good to excellent, entertainment comics were really good, over all entertainment was good, staff was at times overwhelmed but good, we are understanding and patient and we had a great over all relaxing fun vacation at the worst time of the year to vacation.
Large, well attended to inside cabins with a door connecting our rooms. Guy always cleaned it nicely when we were away, twice each day. Everything worked well, was clean neat, comfortable beds and bedding etc. for us. Cabin was a solid A, especially for interior cabins. Virtual Balcony a plus, though we are very happy with indoor cabins without virtual balconies since we do not spend much time in the cabins except to sleep / freshen up. We like getting two cabins connected a door so husband or wife can sleep off / whatever in one room while the other spouse can do stuff with the kids and go back to the other room to freshen up. Two bathrooms are a plus for the family as is the space. These are large interior cabins for cruise ships.
Industrial disgusting looking of a port with broken up roads to and from, poor traffic control, congestion and inefficient travel. Need to give more time getting to and from this mess of a port relative to the quality ports out there. I do not give it terrible because once you get inside things were fine - just the mess outside / poor roads / poor road management makes this port terrible to me.
Easy in / easy out - no issues but not too beautiful to see.
Can not rate though because we would have to tender and the weather did not let us I give it a terrible rating - unable to dock makes it terrible.