Traveling to Cape Liberty from PA were myself, 38, my husband, 43, and our two daughters aged 16 & 14. Only a 2 1/2 hour drive to cruiseport. No problems getting there and the parking was fairly simple----$15/day to park, but much cheaper than flying the 4 of us to Florida.
Embarkation was easy - arrived at port around 11:30 and was eating in the Windjammer for lunch by noon. No problems at all, or lines at this time. Had to take a shuttle to the boat from the dock---for some reason I assumed we would walk right on, but you need to get a shuttle to get to the gangway.
Of course as first time cruisers we were in awe of the ship....you cannot possibly understand how large this vessel is unless you see it firsthand. We walked on and were amazed by everything. Ate lunch in the Windjammer which was good. Went to the back of the boat to the Island Grill and didn't have a problem finding chairs to sit down. We rarely ate here though, as I personally don't More
like buffets----but it was nice and food was good.
We were allowed in our rooms by 1----shared adjoining promenade staterooms with 2 teenage daughters 7595 & 7597. I originally booked an inside H category for the four of us-----I AM SOOO GLAD we changed. The rooms are big enough for two, but I think if we would have had 4 in there, by day 5 we would have been ready to kill each other. The promenade stateroom was very nice. Nice to have a window looking out to people watch. Also no noise at all----we did not have any problems with this. Very soundproof.
As far as everything else, I will summarize as follows:
Ship itself----beautiful, couldn't have asked for more. Seemed that everything looked like new, and in good working order.
Promenade rooms - Very nice---small, but good for 2 if you don't plan on spending hours in the room (why would you, enjoy the ship)
Stateroom attendant - She was very good, wonderful service and really neat towel animals. She went out of here way to make things nice for us.
Food - Very good to excellent. Ate in the dining room most of the time. Liked meeting new people at breakfast, and the service and food was delicious. Usually just grabbed a burger at lunch when we were hungry at the Windjammer. Food was good----just don't like buffets. Ate at Johnny Rockets one time for lunch, food was again good (glad that they had other sandwiches besides burgers). Dinner every night but one was in the dining room----food was excellent as well as the service. When you can get this kind of food/service, why would you line up at buffet?
Waiter/Asst Waiter - Jekaterina & Umesh were terrific!!! Always pleasant, and went out of there way to serve you with a smile. My daughters loved this part of the cruise. They are missing having Umesh bring them rolls, refill water glass, etc..
Shows - Went to mostly all of them. They were all very good. I was expecting amusement park caliber, and it exceeding that by a great deal. All shows with the exception of one were great---costumes, singing, dancing, the sets----very good. Did not care for the magic show---seemed a little cheesy after all the good shows we did see. The ice show is not to be missed---was expecting ice capades and it turned out to be phenomenal. My husband and two teenagers who are not really show people, could not wait to get to the next show.
Ship entertainment - Excellent- if you can't find something to do on this ship, you have issues. They have everything from Rock climbing to ice skating, Bingo, sitting by the pool, plenty of workshops, etc......too much to do, and sometimes we had to make tough choices as there were things we wanted to do that were at the same time....Oh well, maybe next cruise.
Bars/lounges - Many, many venues. All with entertainment. We fell in love with Dizzy's jazz club. Usually, my husband and I went there every night to end the day with a Martini, listening to excellent jazz playing. Very classy---and overlooked the pool area. All other lounges were also very nice.
Teen club/area - no real rating. My 14 year old went the first night, but only a few kids there. I was later told that only 300 kids on board in total--didn't look like too many were teenagers. They mostly stuck with us during the day doing family things, and at night after dinner, we went to the shows. After that, they were both so tired, they wanted to go back to room to watch movies. I peeked in on them through the adjoining door and usually were asleep by midnight. I guess we wore them out. But they said they had a great time, and really loved it. They liked the arcade, rock climbing, shows, etc.....would both sail again no problem on this ship.
Ports of call - All different in their own way. Loved all of them: St. Thomas- only arrived at 1:00 (this limits your day as all stores close by 6:00) - Went on a ship excursion, Buck Island sail & snorkel--VERY COOL- booked this online before we left, as I liked the idea of only 6 people on boat at a time. 4 of us sailed with a honeymoon couple. Our boat was the Jolly Mon, and it was great. Gary & Gail (captains/owners) were wonderful. Sailed to Buck Island in St. Thomas (around 45 minutes), snorkled for first time----we loved it, saw a lot of fish and a rare turtle. Sailed back only using sails and had rum punch (sodas for kids)---really a great time. Walked around St. Thomas maybe an hour at Havensight as all stores were closing.
St. Martin - arrived at 8:00 - beautiful island - booked Joyce Prince months ago. She is everything I've seen written about her on cruise critic. Excellent tour guide and great person. We were able to see so much more than if we were on our own. If you are looking to see island, definitely book her. She dropped us off at Orient Beach after 3 hour tour, and we caught a taxi back around 4:30 to ship. Orient beach was beautiful. Clear calm water, white sand---nothing like the beaches we are used to on east coast.
Puerto Rico - arrived at 9:00---really enjoyed it. On our own today, and walked around Old San Juan. Went to Fort Kristobel, did some shopping and ate lunch in a side cafe being serenaded by a guitar while we ate MoFongo-----what a good time. Seems like a lot of people miss out on this port, due to preconceived ideas---we really enjoyed it. Only bad part of the trip was the immigration process due to us being at a foreign port--ridiculous---but not the ships fault, but our governments. Line was long, and people were irritated, and you had to go whether you were getting off of ship or not or risk a fine. Just plain stupid IMO.
Labadee - arrived at 9:00- could have spent days here. What a beautiful tropical island. Went snorkeling for hours off shore (a lot of small fish too look at and all of us enjoyed it so much in St. Thomas, we couldn't wait to get back in water.) Great beaches, authentic Haitan market (they are very aggressive at selling/bartering). Got some nice wooden things, and the girls enjoyed it. BBQ lunch brought over from ship which was very good. They also had Haitians doing singing/dancing, and this was great.
Embarkation - this is the only area where they messed up. Luckily we went to the Dining room for breakfast after we left our room, so we didn't have to wait three hours in the designated areas. Apparently there was a security issue at the port, and they wouldn't let anyone off the ship until 9:00-9:30. Needless to say we waited for around 1 1/2-2 hours in the Palace theatre waiting to leave. They could have a least showed a movie or something to keep us occupied. Luckily I was still on a high from our trip and totally relaxed---otherwise I might have been extremely irritated---but it didn't put a damper on my vacation.
I would recommend this ship to anyone wanting the vacation of a lifetime--would sail here again in a heartbeat Less
Explorer of the Seas Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean