Explorer of the Seas May 11, 2013
It was a dark and stormy night, and day and a few more nights and days too. This was our, my dear wife AKA The Boss, and my fourth cruise on Explorer of the Seas. We booked it on short notice as we were having "Cruise Withdrawal". Anyway, I digress, we got all the preliminary t's crossed and I's dotted and left bright and early for a 6+ hour drive from our home in Pittsburgh, PA to Bayonne, NJ. The drive went without a hitch and we arrived to a traffic back-up at the terminal. This was about a 10 minute delay, so it wasn't a big deal after all. Check-in went extremely smoothly even if they had no WOW cards for the sailing. We got our SeaPass picture taken and off to wait for out bus to the ship. Arrived to the embarkation gangway and boarded our favorite ship. We took the elevator to deck 5 and the Promenade Cafe for a quick bite to eat. As it was a little after 1 we thought we would see if the cabin was ready, and it was. We were in an inside accessible cabin on deck 10, our home for the next few days. We went about our ritual of moving the contents of the mini-bar to the cupboard and started to write some quick notes for the cabin steward when he came knocking at the door. We gave him our notes and things started to happen, first the coffee table left, and then the robes appeared followed by ice and blankets. This guy was going to work out quite well. Oh, and our luggage showed up so we unpacked, all this before 2:30. After our work unpacking, we needed a trip to the Windjammer for nutritional fortification. This is where we started running into old friends; The WJ Manager, Supervisor and even favorite Assistant Waiter were all still there. The Muster drill was uneventful. Our Muster station was in the Main Dining Room, lucky us we got to stay inside.
About this time the rain started, and continued through Monday when we got to Bermuda. Sail-away was moved to the Royal Promenade and things on the outside decks ceased. On our way to Bermuda we experienced winds 60 to 65mph and 16 to 18 foot waves. Needless to say, we got tossed around quite a bit. Captain Henrik did a great job keeping us informed and trying his best to make the ride as smooth as possible. We docked a little late at King's Wharf in the Royal Dockyards, about 9:30 and were cleared about 10am. We took a little spin around and visited the; Pharmacy, Pottery, Clock Tower Mall and the Craft Bazaar. We picked up a few gifts for family and stopped at the little kiosk in to buy a WiFi card. There is a great WiFi setup in the Dockyard. You can get a card good for one device for 1 hour ($3), 24 hours ($10), 72 hours and 30 days. After a quick trip back to the kiosk to resolve a problem, I was able to use my iPad on the outside deck, side closest to the dock, with no issue at all. BUT, it started to rain again. Monday evening was supposed to be the deck party but that, like other activities, had to be moved to the Royal Promenade.
The weather cleared up Tuesday afternoon and we were able to enjoy leaving the port past the NCL Dawn that was anchored off the Dockyard. They were tendering their passengers as the NCL dock is under construction awaiting the NCL Breakaway arrival. We has some very nice skies, and seas, most of the morning Wednesday bit, as was the theme of our cruise, not intentionally, the rain, wind and waves started up again. So the outside decks were closed again and we all escaped to the inside. OK, enough of the bad stuff, all things considered, this wasn't that bad of a cruise. We had a great ship, a greater crew and a ship full of passengers with great attitudes. As usual, we NEVER passed a crew member that did not acknowledge us with a "Hello" head nod, or even a handshake or hug from our past crew friends.
My wife and I did agree on one important point. There were a lot of first-time cruisers on board, our hope was that they weren't turned off to what we feel is the best vacation option available. Was the weather a major "downer", it may have been. Have we been on better cruises, yes. But this was still a good cruise. The food was good, the entertainment excellent, and the Crew was fantastic. First timers, don't let this experience keep you off a ship.