My husband and I decided to take a vacation without the kids (aged 6 and 2) this summer. We had previously sailed on the Navigator and the Monarch. We loved our cruise on the Navigator but were really disappointed with the Monarch. Since we were leaving the kids with my parents, we wanted less than a week. When I first started looking, shorter cruises only had smaller ships and we did not want to repeat that mistake again. Things could have changed since we cruised on the Monarch but we really felt after our cruise on the Navigator that the smaller ships would not be able to satisfy us. Finally I found this cruise on the Explorer. It was a perfect length and on a ship in the same class as the Navigator.
I read tons of reviews and was a little concerned the Explorer was starting to show it's age. We are happy to say that, yes, some of the chairs might show some wear and our carpet/curtains in our stateroom aren't exactly the "in" thing now, it was nothing like I had pictured. I didn't walk onto the ship thinking that it was gross or disappointing (like my thoughts on the Monarch). Our room was great. The couch could be replaced. It had some stains and wear. No tears but wouldn't hurt to be replaced.
I wasn't sure how it would be to only sail to one destination but I loved Bermuda. It was gorgeous and very clean and the local people are very nice. They are very helpful but not harassing or trying to get you to buy something (unlike Mexico/Caribbean islands). We purchased bus/ferry passes and just did what we wanted when we arrived. We took a bus to Horseshoe Bay on our first day. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! It was very busy. I blame this on the fact that it was a local holiday (Hero's Day) and Bermuda had some rainy weather the days before. A Norwegian cruise ship was docked in Bermuda as well and it was it's first day of sun/no rain so I think everyone was trying to get to the gorgeous beach! Cash is needed for both the bus passes and to rent chairs/umbrella's at the beach.
After the beach, we went back to the ship and showered and then took the ferry to Hamilton for dinner. Because is was a holiday, a lot of stores were closed. We did eat at the Twisted Onion and then caught the last ferry back to the ship (ferry ride was 20 min but bus ride would have been 60).
The next day we went reef fishing on the Ellen B. with Mike Baxter. It was nice and a new experience for me and ate some lunch and relaxed by the ocean before making our way back to the ship. My husband said if we ever go back to Bermuda again, he would rent a small boat and we could go explore all the beautiful beaches. (there are tons of beaches and finding one to yourself would not be difficult).
My only advice for Bermuda - please do not rent the scooters. We saw a girl (cruiser) go off the road and over into the water, we saw an accident in Bermuda with a scooter splattered on the road and a fellow passenger on the fishing boat said an American was killed the week before in a scooter accident. The roads are very, very narrow with lots of blind curves AND they drive on the opposite side of the road. Unless you are familiar with motorcycles/scooters and driving on the wrong side of the road, please stay safe and just use other transportation!
The waters were rough on our first day and we thought maybe it was the difference between cruising in the Caribbean and the middle of the Atlanta. Turns out there had been a storm ahead of us and the waters back to NJ were much calmer.
The view from the port in NJ was awesome. As someone NOT from the East coast, we were amazing just staring at the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty. I was really not looking forward to leaving from New Jersey - it just didn't sound like a "vacation" but we were happy after seeing the city from the ship.
The port in New Jersey is different for lack of a better word but it was adequate and I really don't have any complaints.
We booked the excursion in NYC for the day our ship arrived back at the port. Unfortunately, we were informed on Tuesday that it was cancelled due to lack of interest. This is the second time we have done an excursion like this (the other was in LA) and had it cancelled. The first time (LA) we sat in the airport ALL DAY. I refused this time to do this. We used more miles to take a later flight just so we could see some of the city since we were so close. We did get Royal Caribbean to take us to the airport for free (took complaining twice before they offered). We got to the airport before 10, checked in for our 5 o'clock flight, dumped our luggage there (only downfall, had to check all of our luggage or carry it around the city all day) and then took the train into the city and explored ourselves.
All in all, this was a great trip for my husband and I (both in our mid-30's). We did such a wide array of activities and was unlike any other vacation. I think part of that was our mindset - this was our first chance is nearly 6 years to enjoy so many days to do what we wanted to do. We took full advantage of it!