Explorer of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by Langley Cruisers
Overall Member Rating
Explorer of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
We had booked our Eastern Caribbean cruise almost one year prior to sailing, so needless to say we were both very excited as the time drew near. We even installed a countdown clock on our computer!
We arrived in Miami tired but excited and took a cab to the Holiday Inn next to the Port of Miami. We were able to check in right away and the room was clean and on the top floor, thanks to an upgrade and Sail Away package we had reserved through the Priority Points program. We took a Harbor Cruise that afternoon and spent some time at the Bayside Marketplace across the street before meeting up with several Cruise Critic online friends the Saturday evening. We were all very excited about our cruise leaving the next day.
Upon arriving at the Port of Miami the next morning, we were greeted with a hand-out and signage that indicated there had been some sort of gastrointestinal illness onboard ship the previous week, and we would be delayed More in boarding as the ship was being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Not a big deal, and thinking on the bright side that our ship would be extra clean for the passengers. As it turned out, we were onboard by about 12:30 and warmly greeted by crew.
Our cabin was a balcony room (our first!) and it turned out that our stateroom attendant was nearby and also greeted us warmly. Unfortunately, the previous passengers had smoked in the cabin and it still smelled of smoke. We told Lily this, and she was very apologetic and removed the bedspread completely, replaced the four bed pillows (didnt just change the pillow cases, but changed the pillows themselves), and sprayed our room with air freshener. This seemed to be better and within 24 hours, there was absolutely no lingering smoke smell.
We went to the mandatory Muster drill and after that, had arranged to meet a group of fellow Cruise Critic members on the top deck for the sail away. This was spectacular, and Miami is such a beautiful city to sail out of. Very windy - ladies, beware of wearing a skirt or dress on the outer decks!
The Explorer of the Seas is magnificent. Months of reading reviews and investigating her online helped us, but did not fully prepare us for her elegance and magnificence in person. The Promenade (down the center of the ship) is amazing; we spent much of our time there just shopping, wandering, meeting up with friends, and having coffee, cookies and pizza in the Cafe Promenade.
We decided to eat dinner in the Windjammer Cafe for the first night, since we would have been late to dinner at 6 pm anyway, due to the late departure. The casual atmosphere and delicious food and beautiful sunset was exactly what we desired to wind down our first hectic day.
Day 2 - Sea Day - Just enjoyed exploring the ship and getting our bearings. Made a few purchases onboard in the gift shops, and had a few drinks with friends. Went to dinner in the dining room and our wait staff and bar staff were friendly and attentive. Formal night - tuxedo ordered online from home was delivered to the cabin and it fit perfectly. Dinner was delicious. The entertainment in The Palace Theater was also good, but we found ourselves falling asleep& just too tired to fully enjoy it. Day 3 - San Juan, Puerto Rico - Beautiful view from our balcony as we pulled into port around noon. We can see the forts we want to visit and soon we are onshore. However, sadly, once we were onshore I had a bit of a panic attack and felt rather unsafe, despite the high number of police officers present. The immediate area around the cruise ship terminal seemed dirty and unwelcoming. We had friends who thoroughly enjoyed their day here, but I just didnt. We did have a nice tour of the San Cristobal Fort which is very historical and interesting - great views from the top! We bought one local souvenir in town, and headed back to the pier early to buy our duty-free rum and go home.
Day 4 - St. Maarten - Beautiful port to sail into and we enjoyed it from our balcony again, but the clouds were heavy and it threatened rain. The cruise ship port was welcoming and they had a steel drum band playing for us. We had a car rental reservation so we were off the ship in good time, about 9:30 am, and went to get our car, which was just a short walk from the pier. For months prior, our plan was to drive to the airport and stand on the beach where the planes take off and land right over your head! However, the skies opened up and we had torrential rain that day, which caused flash flooding in the streets and MAJOR traffic problems. It took us 90 minutes just to cross town and eventually we made the sad decision to just turn back before we lost any more of the day.
We returned our rental car and drowned our sorrows at a small local hotel bar, where we had copious amounts of alcohol and beers. Actually, it was very relaxing and scenic, and turned out to be the best part of the day. Drinks are cheaper onshore!! hehe
Day 5 - St. Thomas - Wow, gorgeous sail in, and a beautiful sunny day!! We had no plans whatsoever for the day, although a co-worker of mine had suggested Magens Bay as a great beach. The information in our Cruise Compass said it was a short cab ride away, so we walked off the ship and asked someone about it. He said for $8.00 (plus a $3.00 admission charge) each, we could get there and he directed us to a large safari-style taxi shuttle. We were soon on our way and found the roads to be in very good shape. BEWARE if you rent your own car - although this is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, they drive on the opposite side of the road than in North America.
Magens Bay was absolutely picture-postcard beautiful, and we felt extremely safe there. We were in the water by 10 am and enjoyed ourselves very much. What a beautiful island!! Wed go back in a second. After the beach, we headed back to town and did some shopping before going back to the ship.
Day 6 - Sea Day - More shopping onboard, more eating, more drinking (ahem) and just enjoying the ship. So glad that we had one more stop, as often the last day is a sea day and then you have to go home! Also, second formal night, and it was lobster night. Delicious! Took the opportunity to have pictures taken with the friends we had met. Also went to the Planet Ice skating show, which is phenomenal. The caliber of skating and the choreography is as good as anything in the professional ranks. Very enjoyable show.
Also tonight was the midnight Gala Buffet - extraordinary, edible works of art. You go through first to take pictures, and then you can go back later to demolish it. We didnt eat, as we were feeling quite full at this point in the cruise.
Day 7 - Nassau, Bahamas - Gorgeous sail in, sunny day. Tight squeeze into the harbor - you wonder if well fit! It was mentioned that the cruise ship pier held 11 ships at one time, but now the number is down to 8. Still - thats a lot of passengers disembarking at once! We took a water taxi to Paradise Island and walked to a public beach past the Atlantis hotel. The beach was extremely crowded but very scenic. The water was green and blue and clear, and looked very inviting. However, we felt it best that one of us stay on the beach with our stuff so Perry went swimming first while I stayed behind. He said it was colder than it looked but still nice!! We didnt stay very long, and headed back into town to buy some souvenirs and look around. We also went to the Pirate Museum in town - fun!
Final night onboard, and the most glorious sunset we have ever seen was the backdrop for many pictures on deck. It was beautiful.
Our luggage was to be placed outside the cabin anytime between 7 pm and midnight, so we didnt feel rushed at all and were able to take only the bare essentials with us in our carry-on bags.
Disembarkation was perhaps the only glitch the whole week& there was some snag with Immigration, and the whole morning was pushed back several hours. Many passengers were anxious about missing flights so there was a certain air of tension. However, once we were off the ship and inside the terminal, we walked right outside and got a cab to the airport with absolutely no problem.
What a week!! Incredible! The only things to complain about (if anything) were things beyond our control, so it really isnt worth it. The crew onboard were warm and friendly and made every effort to accommodate our requests. Not once were we told No to anything. We felt so taken care of and the service from start to finish was excellent. That is what keeps us coming back to Royal Caribbean.
Additionally, what made our trip so special was the opportunity to meet the many friends we had made right here on the Cruise Critic message boards. For months, we had chatted back and forth with them about our cruise and how excited we all were; to finally meet them in person was very special and we will always remember them fondly. If you are here to read the cruise reviews, you will certainly find them helpful and informative. But the real fun is getting to know each other on the boards before you meet in person on your cruise& we highly recommend it! Less
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