After our cruise on the Allure of the Seas in June, we decided that once wasn't enough. We booked on the Explorer of the Seas for Sept 16th. Being we are only 45 minutes from Port Liberty we thought it would be a great option. Upon arrival we noted that the port could use some upgrades. It definitely isn't Miami or Fort Lauderdale. I hope that the Port Authority have plans to upgrade the facility. All I can say is that it must be very cold in the winter.
Upon arrival, we were directed where to drop off our luggage and where to park my car. It was less than 30 minutes until we boarded the ship. We were on the Explorer back in December of 2006 so it was great to be back on her again. She is still a beautiful ship. She is immaculate and well maintained, but she is starting to show some wear and tear. Our cabin was a balcony on the stern, 6388. The room was clean and spacious. Senney was our room steward and I consider him to be a ninja steward. If we left for breakfast and were back within 30 minutes, the room was brought back to its impeccable condition. Simply amazing. Our balcony had an obstructed view on the sides but pretty much a clear view to the rear. Being we were in the rear, we seemed to feel the engines and props much more. Especially when pulling into Bermuda and Port Liberty. That being said, I won't ever book a stern or aft cabin again.
We had the late seating for dining in De Gamma on Deck 4. Our waiter, Francisco and his assistant, Sachim, were fabulous. Refilling water glasses promptly, full descriptions of the meals, bread and rolls on hand at all times. These two were very attentive and lots of fun. Francisco loved to entertain us at the end of each meal with a little magic trick. The bar service waitress, Angela, was great! She was there within minutes of our arrival and was very prompt in her service. Those three made a great team. We enjoyed the meal selections very much. I always make it a point to have seafood for dinner every day. Once again, Royal answered the call and served up some fabulous dinners. The Windjammer Buffet was predictable with lots of good food. If you can't find something to eat there, you are waaaaay too picky. The Promenade Cafe was always a nice treat late at night or early in the morning. Coffee and pastries always on hand as was the pizza and sandwiches. We didn't eat at the other options so again, I can't comment on them. I will say that Johnny Rockets was always busy.
In general, the ship's crew was fantastic. Whether it was the bar service on the pool deck or the dealers in the casino everyone was very pleasant and a joy to chat with. The Cruise Director, Richard, Spaceman, Spacey was the most dynamic cruise director we have ever seen. The man has energy that never seems to drop. We saw him all over the ship, all day long. I'm certain he sleeps standing up so he is ready to go at a moment's notice. As for the entertainment, the headliners were all great. We enjoyed them a great deal. The ice show was also fantastic. We didn't see any of the other shows so I can't comment on them. I actually did well in the casino this time, leaving with more money then I started with but the slot machines didn't like to pay out.
Bermuda was beautiful. We had never been before so it was nice to visit someplace new. We will be going back to explore some more. I only took part in one excursion. I signed up for a dive trip and had a blast. If you are certified, definitely plan to dive while you are there. The conditions were near perfect. The Royal Dockyard is very convenient. There are places to eat, shopping and entertainment all within walking distance to the ship. There is a complimentary shuttle running around the port to make use of.
Upon our arrival back in New Jersey, our departure was smooth. We had the next to last number to get off the ship. Our time was between 11 and 1115 to debark. We were off by 1030, through customs and heading back home by 11. I would definitely leave out of NJ again, especially if the rumors are true. The captain eluded to the possibility that one of the new Sunshine class of ships will be berthed there. Needless to say, they have my attention....