Who: Me (Sara, 25) and my husband (Andy, 25)
What: My 4th (husband's 3rd) cruise
When: March 31-April 7, 2013 (with a couple days prior to the cruise spent in NJ/NYC)
Where: Explorer of the Seas
Sunday- Embarkation at Bayonne, NJ
Monday-Day at Sea
Friday-Day at Sea
Saturday-Day at Sea
Sunday-Disembarkation at Bayonne, NJ
Why: I wanted to take a Spring Break cruise. I'm a teacher, so we get that week off!
How: We drove 6 hours to NJ from our home in Upstate NY (near Canada).
There was quite the line of cars going into the port, but it moved pretty quickly. It was a really weird set up for dropping off luggage. You pulled into a spot, the porters took your luggage (you tipped them of course), then had to pull back out. I've never seen it done this way before, but it did move quickly, so I can't really complain.
Next you pull around to the parking lot, pay $19 a day, then go park. It's a short walk to the terminal from there. Because we are gold we had priority check in (which I didn't even know about until we got there). The check in was very fast, less than 5 minutes. We skipped the annoying just boarding picture, and went straight to the shuttle. It was a 1 minute ride to the ship!
The food was great throughout the whole cruise. There is always something good to eat at all times. Here are some of my favorites:
Eggplant artichoke tart
Johnny Rocket's burger
Johnny Rocket's onion rings
Johnny Rocket's chocolate milkshake
room service spinach artichoke dip
chilled banana rum soup
NY strip steak
chilled pineapple mango soup
warm chocolate cake
Portofino beef tenderloin
caramelized banana milles-feuilles
pineapple lychee soup
Stateroom: Our interior stateroom, 7517, was near the theater, but quite the walk from the dining venues. It was obviously small, but it was clean and quite comfortable. I found the bed to be a little on the hard side. Our stateroom attendant, Christopher, always kept the room clean and asked if we needed anything. I was disappointed that we didn't get a towel animal every night!
We ordered room service on our first night. The pizza was about the size of a Pizza Hut personal pan, and quite delicious, though I preferred the pizza at Cafe Promenade. The spinach artichoke dip is MUST TRY! It comes with sour cream and tortilla chips.
Service: The service was excellent during the whole cruise. I especially thought our waiters, Pepito and Samuel, were fantastic.
Entertainment: Compared to our cruise on the Carnival Pride last summer, the nightly entertainment was much better! There was a production show or headliner each night. The singers and dancers were very talented.
Coco Cay: I liked this private island. I wish we had more time there! However, I hated tendering. The biggest downer of the cruise was the tender process for Coco Cay. It definitely didn't ruin the cruise, but it was annoying. We were told to get a ticket for the tender boat near the champagne bar on Deck 5. We went, got our ticket, then went back to our room to wait for our number to be called.
Not long after we got our ticket, they announced that we no longer needed a ticket, and it would be open tender. I figured that meant the busiest time was over. Boy, was I ever wrong! The line was backed up from Deck to all the way up to Deck 4 (and maybe higher but I couldn't see that far). People were not happy, and there was just a lot of negative energy. It made zero sense for them to do this. The worst part was the line moved very slowly. I just don't understand why they stopped using the tickets.
Fun things to try:
Fast Forward production show
back stage tour
belly flop contest
Love and Marriage show
Overall, this was a great cruise! Royal Caribbean did not disappoint.