We took the May 19th, 9 night cruise on Explorer of the seas out of NJ. Embarkment was very easy and well organized. We arrived at 12:30 and by 2 we were in out stateroom. We were in a balcony stateroom on the 9th deck and the views were incredible. The room was a nice size, very comfortable, and had plenty of storage and hanging space for the 2 of us. We definitely overpacked!
The ship has 14 decks and the chapel. You will find yourself still exploring the ship on your way back! Nice sized casino, but only 1 craps table. Promenade is beautiful, as is the whole ship. Beautiful art and sculpture abound, and it is fun to check out each floor to see what is hanging up. The food was wonderful in the dining room every night. Nice variety each night. I am on a limited diet and had no trouble choosing dinner each evening. Our waiter, Venito, and assistant Ashish, were GREAT. Service was impeccable and extremely attentive. One night, surprising my wife with dessert before she even asked for it because it was mentioned 2 nights earlier in conversation that it was her favorite (tirimasu).
Entertainment for a majority of nights were quite good. Planet Ice and the Knudsens are MUST see. Comedians are funny in a family type atmosphere. The only lacking show was the magician. His act was too fragmented to retain interest. The Quest was really a hysterical show. Allen, the cruise director, really keeps things moving and seems to truly enjoy what he is doing. I also suggest going to Melanie's shopping class to really learn some things if you have never shopped in the islands. It is an experience!!
Shore Excursions were priced correctly. St. Thomas, for us, was a bit of a disappointment. We went to Megan's Bay and while the excursion said 3 hours, it was more like 2 with only 1 hour and 20 minutes at the beach. Beach was beautiful, ride was terrible. Island seemed run down. St. Marten was , on the other hand, our favorite. Shopped in the morning, and did Orient Bay in the afternoon. Absolutely beautiful island. San Juan was fun to walk around on your own and shop. Very easy to do. Senor Frog's is a MUST STOP if you want to have fun in a bar/club, that even caters to children!!! We heard the rainforest was beautiful but did not go. Remember, its a rainforest...humidity and heat!!! Labadee is a special island with a lot of things to do all day. The afternoon BBQ was very good! Just like the Windjammer cafe from the ship, brought out to the island! It was very hot that day and there are no real shops to go into to get a break, so its into the water for swimming and snorkeling!
Disembarkment however is a nightmare as every one has stated. We left our room at 7:30 and didn't get off till 10:10, and we were the 3rd color called. Get a later flight out if you are connecting to any other city. You may not get off till noon!
In summary, a wonderful cruise and I am booking the same for next year on the same boat!!! That should summarize pretty well. Thanks RC for a remarkable and memorable vacation.