We took the 9-day cruise from Bayonne to Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, Halifax and Saint John. We were four seniors, as were 95% of our fellow passengers. We are Diamond on RCI.
Boarding in Bayonne was quick, once we got through the traffic queue. It seemed to be badly organized and our taxi had to wait in the traffic line-up for over 20 minutes. After that, things improved. Indeed, the actual check-in was very efficient. Cunard could take lessons from Royal Caribbean. Contact time for check-in at Brooklyn six months ago was three times as long. Once on board, we headed up to Windjammer. Big mistake, what a zoo! Never went back.
Service throughout the ship was excellent. We thought the food in MDR - American Icon - was much improved over our last cruise on Royal Caribbean. Speciality restaurants were excellent, and Wonderland in particular blew us away. Fantastic! If you are a meat-and-potatoes person, don’t bother, it’s not for you.
Captain Srecko Ban is a gem, one of the best. He is very personable and has a great sense of humour. We were dining in Izumi one night when he came past and stopped by for a few words. That is rare and much appreciated. On leaving Bayonne, he headed up river then spun a 180 so we could all get a good look at the Statue of Liberty twice.
We got on an elevator one day with two crew. In conversation, they were going through the ship removing chewing gum from the floor. I mean, really?? People, this is disgusting behaviour. That is when we began to think we are on the wrong cruise line.
On our last ship, they had twelve bottled beers, all the same, none of them drinkable. This time - finally! - they had a good selection of beers including even Newcastle Brown on tap, Boddington’s and some IPAs.
So what did we do all day? Flow Rider? Nope. iFly? Nope. Bumper cars? Nope. Pool? Nope. Rock climbing? Nope. Roller skating? Nope. Bingo? Trivia? Name that tune? Art auction? Nope, nope, nope, nope. Enrichment lectures? You’re joking, right? This is Royal Caribbean. We did have reservations for North Star but never made it. We were either on shore or the thing was shut down due to high winds or maintenance.
OK, so we are seniors but the ship must have assumed we are all deaf. If we weren’t when boarding, we are now. The volume level for all performers is ridiculous. Why would a nice piano bar need to amplify a piano? Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman didn’t need mics so why would the big band have mics clipped on to trumpet and trombone?
This ship is a monster, far too big. We miss the Viking Crown lounge which smaller ships have topside. Our waiter said that the ship was not full, we were 600 short. Thank goodness for small mercies. You can’t get away from noise. It’s everywhere, including the speciality restaurants. So in Jamie’s Italian, they might have some lovely Italian background music? Fat chance! The only one with no music was Wonderland. There is a reason for that. The door is wide open and just across from Boleros so whatever was blasting away there came straight in. As did all the exhortations for happy shoppers in the centrum from time to time.
Departure was a breeze with a border control process that we have never seen before. We picked up our baggage and headed for the exit expecting a long line-up for presentation of passports (we are not American) and an interview by an agent. Not any more. There was a machine that you faced up to, no line-ups, it took your picture and you were on your way. 10 seconds maybe?
Did we enjoy the cruise? We certainly did. We will we be back on Royal Caribbean? Unlikely. I think we have moved on.