There are a lot of kinks in the process which will be worked out in the next couple of weeks. The whole purpose of the cruise was to get my wife, who is a RN charge nurse at a local hospital, away from her job and a place where she couldn't easily be contacted or be asked to come in to deal with the crisis of the day. In that it succeeded admirably.
2 out of 5
This was originally a November 2020 cruise on Grandeur out of Baltimore. Cancelled. Then April 2021 on Anthem out of Bayonne. Cancelled. Then it was November 2021 on Enchantment out of Baltimore. Cancelled. The last one was cancelled in September after my wife had locked in her vacation time. Because we booked this late by the time we got the boarding time slot during the check in process we got stuck with a 1:30-2:00 pm slot. We were traveling with my wife's sister who lives near Philadelphia so we drove to her house the night before and then drove up in the morning. I used to work in NYC so I know that estimated drive times going into the city are very iffy so we drove up early and got there around 11. We dropped off our luggage and I noted that there were a few people outside the terminal but not too many. We headed over to a nearby mall and had lunch. After lunch we headed back to the port a little after 1. I dropped my wife and sister off in front of the terminal and parked the car in the garage. The line waiting to get in to the terminal now ran the length of the front of the building and half way down the side. I estimate at least an hour and a half wait. My sister-in-law is scheduled for hip replacement surgery so she is in a wheelchair. This got us through a special entrance so we didn't have to wait. Once inside we got through security and got to the counter. We did the check in including the medical clearance and then we were walked over to another counter to complete the check in. At the new counter we were asked why the first clerk brought us there and hadn't finished the process at her station. We had no idea. We then told we had a balance due of $168. The cruise was fully paid for and we had gotten a partial refund because the cruise was shortened from 7 days to 6, so why the balance? I was told that they had no information on what the charge was for and that I should go to guest services on board. Guest services said it was a balance due on the fare and didn't have any additional information. Our travel agent is trying to track this down.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
The food was excellently prepared. The service impeccable. We had breakfast and dinner at the Coastal Kitchen each day and had most of our lunches there as well. We also had lunch at Jamie Oliver's and Chops. Chops was great and the mashed potatoes probably the best tasting side dish I've ever had. The filet was perfectly cooked. I did have a slight problem at Oliver's. The preparation and taste of the individual items were excellent. I just don't feel that the items went together that well. I had the crispy squid appetizer. I would expect the sauce to be acidic to cut through the fat. Instead it was served with aolie (lemon garlic mayonnaise). The Bolognese sauce on the tagliatelle was creamy instead of tomato based. The Coastal Kitchen is California Mediterranean fusion and I had no interest in most of the menu. But that's just a matter of personal taste.
3 out of 5
With the mask mandates in place it just wasn't worth it. Why anyone takes the CDC seriously on this issue amazes me. Masks provide protection against bacterial infections but are essentially worthless against viral contamination. There are literally decades of research on this subject affirming that they don't provide protection against viral infections. WHO and the CDC are continuing to demand the wearing of masks but haven't provided any evidence to support their position. A PBS special on the Spanish flu said that trying to stop a virus with a face mask is trying to stop a dust storm with chicken wire. The breathing pores on a N95 mask are about 10 times wider than the virus. Paper masks up to 300 times and cloth masks up to 30,000 times wider. I know this sounds like heresy but my wife is an RN at a local hospital (she is a charge nurse which means she has management as well as nursing duties), her sister has a doctorate in microbiology and is an expert in food borne pathogens (so much so that she was loaned to the Chinese government by the Federal agency where she worked to deal with one of their periodic plagues) and is very familiar with safety protocols for dealing with infectious diseases. Their brother was a hospital administrator before he retired. I'm not relying on the CDC or the news media for my information. I have strong reasons not to trust either. This is based on my own and my colleagues from my pre-retirement job's interactions with both groups.
3 out of 5
There was a major fiasco here as some of the entertainers just came on board and they had to be in quarantine for the duration of the cruise. The shows they were in were cancelled.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Excellent as always. You could tell that a lot of the staff were new but they gave every effort to see that the passengers had the best time that they could. The staff in the specialty restaurants and in the Coastal Kitchen were veterans and the did their jobs flawlessly.
5 out of 5
We found it very easy to get around the ship. The crew is keeping her spotless.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
We had a 2 bedroom Grand Suite, Sky Class. Plenty of room for the 3 of us. Excellent storage, more than we needed. There was a good sized verandah. We were totally satisfied with the room.
Things are going to go wrong, particularly when everyone is just getting back to work and haven't quite gotten there sea legs. Be aware of what is going on and have alternate plans for when things fall apart.
No excursion. We just drove there. By the afternoon the passenger waiting time to in to the building seemed excessive but once in the building things moved quickly.
3 out of 5
The disembarkation process was that you stay in your cabin until your group was called. There were two exceptions. Passengers who didn't have checked luggage and passengers who needed wheelchair assistance were to assemble at designated areas at 7 am. My sister-in-law is in a chair so we were in the waiting area at 7. You could see the line for the passengers who didn't need to wait luggage. A little after 7 an announcement was made that ship got in late so there is a delay on custom clearance. It took about another half hour before anyone could leave the ship. My complaint is that the delay had to be known well before 7am and the announcement should have been made a lot earlier so passengers could have stayed in their cabins instead of congregating on deck 5. The line at the gate was close packed (no social distancing) for 45 minutes to an hour. Once the ship was cleared we got off the ship, picked up our luggage and loaded it into the car in about 10 minutes.
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