How was your experience?
We showed up at the Hornblower facilities at 11:20 (40 minutes before the ship leaves the dock). We waited outside a bit and 30 minutes before 12:00, one of the Hornblower's photographers started letting each group in, one at a time, taking a few pictures before entering the ship. We were greeted by the Captain prior to boarding and climbed 3 flights to the top deck. This is where the banquet level was located. I was slightly disappointed to see that this level was completely covered by tent material and the only view outside was through clear vinyl plastic. These vinyl "windows" could be unzipped to allow fresh air in, but I was expecting an open air/roof experience. The buffet style brunch was nice, but like others have reviewed, the food isn't anything to write home about. Bread, fruit, pasta, eggs, bacon, sausage, and roast beef / ham. The desert table had some nice pastries, but again, nothing too special. The champagne and orange juice were complimentary, but the waitresses seemed to take some time coming around to refill the glasses. It would have been better if they just brought every table their own bottle. It wasn't until a quarter of the way though until we realized that the front of the ship allows for an unobstructed view of the outside and sky, so after the brunch, we spend the majority of our time out there looking at the scenery, with frequent trips back in to refill out champagne glasses. As the trip was ending, the waitress brought us our "bill" which consisted of a "recommended" 15% tip to the waitress. This tip was calculated based on the normal price of the brunch and not the Goldstar price. For 2 people, that came out to $16.50. In my opinion, a 15% tip was kinda high since the food was buffet style and that my champagne glass was constantly empty. If the service was better, perhaps. Regardless, I left her $15.00. As we were leaving the ship, the photographer tried to sell us the photos that he took at the beginning of the trip. The photos turned out nice, but not at $10 a pop nice. Overall we had a good time and the weather was great. I would recommend doing this at least once with someone you enjoy.