This was our first time sailing out of Bayonne. We had sailed once before out of NY, so are somewhat familiar with the area, but the port on the NJ side, isn't quite as nice as the NY side (there is not actual building, just these semi permanent tents). But...it didn't really matter, you move through rather quickly, they take you by shuttle bus to the ship and vacation time starts!
Our cruise was in March and it was a little chilly the 1st day at sea, but by day 2 we were in shorts and t-shirts. On the way home we had fantastic weather (seasonally extreme temperatures) and you could be out by the pool still up until the end of the last sea day.
Ports: Labadee..our second time there and loved it. A beautiful island, and a relaxing beach day. Our boys and my in-laws did the zip line (they were lunch as they were only the 3rd group to go, and the last ones that day as it was getting too windy). San Juan...we just explored the 2 forts, interesting, and a lot of walking, not my favourite port, but still nice. St Maarten, this was likely our favourite, a beautiful island and we took the water taxi into town and rented chairs and stayed at the beach all day. We would do a tour in the future. St. Thomas. 4 of us did the snorkeling via catamaran and loved it, then we met up with the others who had gone shopping and took the gondola up to Paradise point...expense, but the views are worth doing it once.
Dining: We had the most fabulous waiter and assistant waiter, after the first day they knew what we liked, and were always so friendly and interested in our day. The food was quite good in the dining room. We also did Portofino where the food was fabulous. I also very much enjoyed going to the dining room for breakfast and lunch instead of the buffet, better food and more relaxed environment, plus you got to talk to others as you sat with different people every meal. Dinner it was just the 6 of us every night at our table.
Rooms: We all had inside staterooms and while someday I'd like to try a balcony at this point I don't want to spoil myself as I'd rather use the extra money for excursions or more cruises. We had a wonderful stateroom attendant and my only complaint was on the last night our door stopped locking and despite telling several people and having assurance from maintenance that someone would "be there soon" they didn't show up till 7 in the morning. So that night we slept with our suitcases inside the door to block anyone from coming in.
Entertainment: Overall we were pleased with the variety, the ice shows were the highlight, I still think Oasis (and likely Allure) have the best entertainment out there. I can't complain.
Cruise director: We were lucky enough to have the illustrious Richard Spacey...I always wondered if he could really be THAT good...and after having him as our CR, I can officially say, yes...yes he is!
Overall it was a wonderful cruise. My father in law also turned 65 on the cruise and our 3 waitstaff all sang happy birthday too him which he loved. We brought along some inexpensive balloons/streamers and decorated their room, as well we bought them both a behind the scenes tour and lunch.
Looking forward to our next time on Explorer