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Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by Noreen411

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Explorer of the Seas
Explorer of the Seas
Member Name: Noreen411
Email: noreen.s.chin@citigroup.com
Cruise Date: August 2006
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Cabin Category: D2
Cabin Number: 8224
Booking Method: Cruise Line
See More About: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Reviews | Eastern Caribbean Cruise Reviews | Royal Caribbean Cruise Deals
Member Rating   5.0 out of 5+
Dining 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Cabins 5.0
Entertainment 4.0
Spa & Fitness 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Shore Excursions 3.0
Embarkation 5.0
Service 5.0
Value-for-Money Not Rated
Rates 5+
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Ship Facts: Explorer of the Seas Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Explorer of the Seas Deck Plans
Explorer of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean
August 2006  Royal Caribbean  Explorer of the Seas  Eastern Caribbean Cruise - Noreen & Paul Chin

WHO ARE WE?

Noreen - 38 years old; First Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report. Paul  my husband; 38 years old; Business Owner

PLANNING

My husband Paul and I went on our first cruise in May 2003 on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. Prior to that, I was leery of cruises thinking I'd feel trapped on a boat and bored. I love to be busy all day and our trip on Voyager proved that there are tons of things to do on a cruise. We booked a balcony cabin for that cruise and upgraded at the pier to the owner's suite. We had a great time and decided we definitely want to cruise again. In October 2003 Paul and I went on our second cruise on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas. Once again, we had a great time and confirmed that we enjoyed cruising.

Paul bought a small business in early 2005. He works 7 days a week and hasn't been able to take any time off. He doesn't want me to miss out on taking vacations so I spent several vacations in 2005 going to Disney World with various friends and family members.

In March 2006, my friend Cathy and I cruised on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. Paul couldn't get away as usual, but still wanted me to go have a good time.

In May 2006, my friend Kim (the same one that convinced me to go on our first cruise) mentioned a great deal she found on the Explorer leaving out of Bayonne NJ in February 2008. That's such a stretch since I like to book things spontaneously and just go  I can't plan a cruise for almost 2 years away. But the prices were great and no airfare involved so we went for it. I'm hoping Paul will be able to take off to go. On 5/3/06 Kim booked it for me on Royal Caribbean on line. We booked a Junior Suite. It's a 12 night cruise.

Still in May of 2006 Paul and I have been talking about him taking some time off to actually go on vacation. He was trying to work out the logistics of if he should close the business for a week or should he trust someone to run it with him out. We were debating going to the Atlantis in the Bahamas, but Paul mentioned he would prefer to go on a cruise. I found a great price on the Explorer of the Seas 9 night cruise out of Bayonne, NJ (no airfare needed); the only catch being it was a guarantee cabin. To book the guarantee balcony it was $1,049 per person. If we wanted to choose our cabin it was over $2,000 per person for a balcony cabin. There was also a $125 Crown and Anchor coupon I applied to this booking so we received an additional $125 off (not each but for the cabin). We decided to go for it and I booked it on Royal Caribbean on line on 5/15/06. On 5/17/06 (two days after booking) I was on the Royal Caribbean website just checking that my Crown and Anchor coupon was applied and I saw that we have been assigned a cabin #8224. It's pretty far forward on the 8th deck.

Peter is Paul's brother's partner. He has been working in Paul's business for the last few months and he's going to run the business while we go away. Peter has been our house sitter and dog sitter in the past so he will stay at our house and do that also. Kiki (our dog) loves Peter and we know she'll be well taken care of.

The Cruise

The Explorer Itinerary is as follows: Friday  Leave from Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne New Jersey Saturday  At Sea Sunday  At Sea Monday  St Thomas Tuesday  St Maarten Wednesday  Puerto Rico Thursday - Labadee Friday  At Sea Saturday  At Sea Sunday - Return to Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne New Jersey

Transportation We live Northern New Jersey (Bergen County) so can just drive down to Bayonne for the cruise and park at the pier.

Excursions

On 8/3/06 we booked the following excursion: St Thomas  Coral Land and Coral Sea for $52 each for a total of $104. This is through Royal Caribbean and was booked online.

We're still talking about what excursion to do on St Maarten. We're thinking of maybe the Segway tour (through RCCL) and maybe an island tour (through RCCL).

On 8/9/06 we booked the following excursion: St Martin  Island tour for $23 each for a total of $46. This is through Royal Caribbean and was booked online.

For Puerto Rico we found information on a Duck Tour (not through Royal Caribbean) and we may do that. In checking the web for more info on the Duck Tour, I found out that the Duck Tour in Puerto Rico is closed on Wednesday (the day we are there). So we're back to trying to figure out what to do in Puerto Rico. We're thinking of maybe the Rain Forest or the City Tour/Bacardi Tour. We realized the Duck tour isn't available within 10 days of our sailing so weren't able to book an excursion for Puerto Rico in advance and will have to take our chances booking something once we're on board.

DAY BY DAY

The week before our trip The usual busy week before going on vacation. Making sure everything is in good shape before we leave. The weekend before we left I started pulling some of the clothes into piles to get packed. Paul was pulling things out of the piles to wear during the week which made it a little more challenging.

The day before our trip  Thursday 8/24/06 I had a hectic day at work and expected to be here late. I surprised myself and was just about ready to go by 8pm (I started around 7:15am that day). My phone rang and it was Phil (Paul's brother) calling because his father was taken to the hospital because he passed out in a park. I waited to hear back from Phil who was on his way to the hospital to see if I should go over to meet him or have Paul drive in to come to the hospital too. The hospital was here in NYC. Around 9pm Phil called me back and said the father is OK and they were on their way home. His father is diabetic and didn't eat and fainted.

After that I drove home with no problems knowing I had to finish packing. Peter was at the house. He was planning to stay over tonight too.

I started getting the packing in order. We are both overpackers so we had a lot of luggage. We had 2 big giant suitcases on wheels, 2 smaller suitcases on wheels, 1 big duffel on wheels just filled with shoes, 1 tote bag, and 1 little duffel. We also packed an empty duffel into one of the suitcases since I always come home with more than I started with. One of the 2 smaller suitcases on wheels had a 24 pack of Poland Spring water and a 12 pack of cans of coke in it. We drink a lot of water and I don't care for the ship water for drinking or the brand they carry (last time it was Evian, and this time I think it was Dannon).

Friday 8/25/06 Friday morning wasn't the usual rush when we've had to catch a flight to a vacation destination. I took Kiki (our dog) for a walk. I finished the last minute packing. I went to Kohl's at 8am when they opened because I needed a few more luggage tags. Paul went to get a haircut around 11am. It was a very leisurely morning. We loaded up the car and left around 12 noon.

The drive to Bayonne took about 45 minutes. Once I got off at the exit, I got a little lost. I ended up in a truck weigh station. My little car didn't even register on the scale so I just drove off it. I guess a lot of people make this mistake because a guy came running over and asked if we were looking for the cruise pier and pointed us in the right direction.

Once we arrived at the right place, we were able to pull in to unload our big pile of luggage. We gave the porter $10.

I went to the ladies room and Paul drove around to park the car and would meet me back where we dropped the luggage. He had to drive out and around, pay, and then park. We met up and entered the terminal. I asked Paul if it would have been easier to have parked first and brought the luggage in then. He said not really since there was a lot of gravel in the parking lot and you end up parking far from the terminal.

We got through security quickly. The agents were set up to check you in by deck and there was no wait at all. We inquired about upgrades and were told the ship is full. We were handed information about boarding that stated that the luggage might take until 9:30pm for delivery.

We went through the line for Sea Pass and Boarding Photos which took about 10 minutes. Paul stopped at the bathroom once we passed this point.

We were able to get right onto a shuttle, then right onto the ship.

The longest wait of the embarkation process was waiting for Paul to go around and park after we dropped off the luggage with the porters. It was probably about 1 ½ hours total from the time we first arrived at the pier.

At about 2:30pm we were on board and found our stateroom to drop our tote bag and wheeled carryon that we brought onto the ship. We are in cabin #8224 which is on deck 8, near the front, a D2 Balcony. The balcony is very nice. The safe was locked so we had to call maintenance to get it opened.

The room is bigger than the promenade room I had on the Mariner in March. I was a bit worried if we would have room for our entire batch of luggage once it arrives.

We went up to the Windjammer for a late lunch around 3pm. There wasn't much for me to eat. I had some French fries and green beans. Paul found a lot to eat (chicken, meat, etc). I was a bit disappointed that there was not much of the food art on the Welcome Buffet centerpiece.

The ship is very much like the Mariner. There are small differences here and there but otherwise it's pretty much the same.

We stopped back at our room around 4pm and all of our luggage has arrived. I started unpacking. Our steward (I didn't catch his name) stopped by to introduce himself and drop off our shore excursion tickets we preordered on the internet.

I asked him if he could empty the mini bar/refrigerator when he had a chance, about the locked safe, and also about the metal shelf in the shower that I noticed was dangling (it needed a screw to be fixed). He said he'd call maintenance for the safe, he'd take care of the mini bar, and would call in the shower shelf problem.

4:30pm was the Muster drill in the Maharajas Lounged. It was packed in there. It lasted until about 5pm and was very crowded trying to leave when the Muster Drill ended. We started sailing away while we were in the Muster Drill.

5pm We went back to our room to watch the sailaway from our balcony.

I finished unpacking. I was shocked because I was able to find space for everything and we both are big overpackers. The suitcases/bags all fit under the bed.

Around 5:45pm maintenance came about the safe and fixed it He also looked at the metal shower shelf, tightened the screw a little and said he would tell someone else about that.

I was debating whether or not to get the soda card. I don't really like fountain soda so didn't know if I would really get much use out of it. I decided against it after all.

6pm we went to dinner. Most of the people were very casually dressed with lots of Tshirts and shorts. Since many people may not have gotten their luggage yet, it's understandable. Everyone at our table was from the Tri-State area. We sat with the following group of people: Karen and Joe from Connecticut Dean and Jamie from Long Island Jimmie and Karen from Queens.

Paul had Iced Tea with dinner and I had lemonade. Appetizers: Paul had tomato soup; I had Melon & Mango EntrEe: Paul had Prime Rib; I had Shrimp Ravioli Dessert: Paul had lemon sherbet; I had Ivory fondue with berries.

Our wait staff was very nice but slow. It was our assistant waiters first day. He probably needs a little time to get used to the routine. Our tablemates are very nice. Karen (from CT) also likes Disney so we chatted about that for a while.

I'm a vegetarian and don't eat chicken, meat, or fish. I've been a vegetarian for about 2 years. Since there weren't that many vegetarian choices I decided that I'd have to be adventurous and attempt some of the fish dishes here and there.

8pm We went to the Welcome Aboard show which was a variety show. It started off with a video that introduced people which I thought was a bit odd. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers performed. The cruise Director (Ashley) spoke. A dance team (a man and woman) performed. They were very bendy. A comedian came on for a bit. There was only one Welcome Aboard show tonight so it was pretty crowded.

9pm We walked all around the ship. We looked at the excursion brochure for Puerto Rico since we don't have anything booked there yet. We found out that the tram in St Thomas runs until 8pm so we may be able to do that after the Coral Land and Coral Sea excursion.

10:30pm We stopped at the Promenade cafe for a little pizza snack. The promenade was getting crowded since the parade was starting at 11:15. We didn't stay for the parade. It was too crowded and not our thing. I enjoyed watching it when I had the promenade room on the Mariner and watched it from the window.

11pm  We stopped back in our room and hung out on the balcony. We received our Crown and Anchor coupon booklets while we were out. The mini bar has not been emptied yet and the shower shelf still has not been fixed.

I was tired so stayed in the room to watch House (on TV) then go to sleep. Paul went down to the casino for a little while.

Saturday 8/26/06  At Sea I went to get Ice Show tickets at 9:30 (when it was listed as starting). I arrived a little before 9:30 and the line wasn't too bad and it moved quickly.

I woke Paul around 10am and we went to breakfast in the Windjammer.

11am was our Informal Cruise Critic get together at the 19th Hole lounge. This was fun and I was able to meet some of the people that I've been chatting with on the roll call. It wasn't a huge turnout but we had about 10 people there.

12 noon was the Blackjack tournament. I wanted to watch and not play, but Paul convinced me to try it. I didn't do very well. Paul did well and made it to the final table. He ended up in 2nd place and won $265 and a T Shirt.

We stopped at the promenade cafe and Paul made himself an iced coffee. We then wandered around outside on the various decks. We went back into the casino and played some slot machines.

We went to lunch in the dining room around 1:30. It was open seating and we were seated with people from Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens. The people from Brooklyn live right near my sister. Most of the people we've spoken with are from the tri-state area. Paul had the key west chowder then fish and chips. I tried the calamari, and then had the vegetable pad thai.

We were back in our room around 2:45 to drop off Paul's Tshirt and sat on the balcony hanging out for a little while. It was very nice out there. It was really nice having the balcony. On my last cruise I had a promenade room and didn't miss the balcony. Having it now made me realize how nice it is.

4pm We went to play Bingo. We bought the Doggie Pack for an extra $10. You get a stuffed dog that you are supposed to bring with you whenever you play Bingo. With the dog, you receive an extra little pack each time you play. We used our Crown and Anchor coupon for an extra bonus card. We also used 2 of the bingo cards received on the promenade yesterday. Even with all that, we didn't win anything.

After Bingo around 4:45 we went back to the Casino. We both played Let it Ride at the table. Then I played some slots and Paul played some blackjack.

We went back up to the room around 5:30 to shower and get ready for formal night. One of the ladies we had lunch with was planning to go to her room at 4pm to get ready for formal night. I guess she would be horrified that Paul and I were able to get ready so quickly.

We went down to the dining room about 6pm, but waited in line for one of the formal portraits. So we got to dinner maybe 10 minutes late.

Appetizers  I had the escargot which I didn't like so gave them to Paul; Paul had the shrimp cocktail Salad  I had a Caesar salad; Paul skipped the salad EntrEe  I had the mushroom linguine Alfredo which was very good; Paul had the Sea Bass but he didn't like it and said it was too dry so he sent it back and had Duck. Dessert  I had the Grand Marnier soufflE; Paul had raspberry sherbet.

The Maitre D stopped by and talked up the Cherries Jubilee dessert. A few people at our table ordered it but were disappointed when it came because it was just cherries on a plate with a scoop of ice cream.

We stayed in our formal outfits for the evening. We didn't see many tuxes  maybe one or two.

After dinner our show wasn't until 9pm. We went to the Promenade which was packed with people waiting for the Captain's speech. Since we don't like crowds we ducked into the Casino for a bit.

We wanted to take a peek at the dinner offerings in the Windjammer just because we've never done dinner there. We wandered through. They had most of the entrees from the dining room available (but no Grand Marnier soufflE). The Jade section had sushi so Paul took a few pieces.

9pm Showtime. There were various songs from different Broadway shows. Paul fell asleep during the show.

10pm We went to Who Wants to feel like a Millionaire. This was cute and they gave away prizes to the contestants. You enter by a raffle drawing.

10:45pm We went to Karaoke Idol. Paul signed up to sing My Way. He did a great job. Unfortunately, he didn't make it to the finals. At the end they announced 1 male and 1 female to go to the finals. There were 5 judges from the audience who rated the singers and that's how the finalists were chosen. Several people came up to Paul after and were surprised he wasn't the male finalist that night and told him he did a great job. The host (not the cruise director Ashley, but the activities guy whose name I forgot) tried making fun of one of the guy's accent when he was going to sing Summer Wind. It sounded like Summa instead of Summer but since most of the audience is from the NY area, it sounded normal to us and the joke fell flat.

12:15am We went to the late night comedy. It was OK

We went to the Chamber after and there was hardly anyone dancing. They weren't playing good music. We walked through the promenade.

2am we went back to our room to change out of our formal clothes. Paul went back to the casino until they closed at 3am then came back with some pizza. I read some of my book and went to bed.

Sunday 8/27/06  At Sea We had a late breakfast in the Windjammer, and then we headed to the Casino. Paul found a cute 5 cent slot machine called Fortune Cookie. He usually likes playing much higher stakes but this machine was adorable and I liked it too. When you hit a certain combination, you got to choose dishes from a menu and the guy taking the order made funny jokes and you get extra money depending on your choices. We played this for a pretty long time.

1pm We went to the Official Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle in Portofinos. There was a huge turnout. They raffled off dinner for two at Portofinos and a RCCL Aqua Mouse. We were all given little pouches with pads and a pen. They took a group photo. I was able to hang out with several cruise critic members.

1:30 Paul left the Meet & Mingle so he could be in the slot tournament. When the Meet & Mingle wrapped up I went down to the casino to find him. It was good timing, as it was his round when I showed up. He didn't make it to the finals. There isn't any skill required for the slot machine tournament; you just keep slapping the button. It's the luck of the machine. It was packed.

3pm We went up to the windjammer for a small snack. I had salad and French fries. Paul had a burger.

Wes stopped at the cabin to get the Bingo Dog and went to Bingo at 4pm. I was chosen to be the Bingo commissioner and received a free T-shirt and a free drink of the day in a souvenir glass. We didn't win anything and Bingo ran a little later than scheduled.

5:15 was the Crown and Anchor Welcome Back Party. We ran in right after Bingo, felt underdressed so went up the room to change for dinner, and then came back down at 5:30. The Captain spoke as did the future cruise consultant. When they asked if anyone had questions, one lady asked about the ship rocking. I thought that was odd since it's been a very smooth sailing so far this trip.

6pm We went down to dinner. One couple didn't show up tonight (Jamie and Dean). Appetizers  I had the focaccia; Paul had somasa (a curry puff pastry) Salad  I skipped the salad tonight; Paul had a regular salad EntrEe  I had the Farfalle with peas in a cream sauce; Paul had Angus Steak and Thai Shrimp Dessert  I had coconut parfait; Paul had cappuccino layer cake.

My pasta was very heavy and I barely made a dent in it. Our assistant waiter is getting much better. He brings the drinks without us asking and he knows I like a straw.

9pm Was Showtime. John Joseph with Johnny B. This was a very good show. It was a comedian and a sidekick. They also sang and played music. It lasted until about 10pm and the hour went by really quickly.

10:30pm We went to Battle of the Sexes. We entered Studio B and were separated girls against the boys. This was very cute. There were main teams of 6 boys and 6 girls who were already chosen (they must have gotten there early). There were trivia challenges like Family Feud with audience participation. There were also physical challenges like hula hooping, relay running with a balloon in your legs, musical chairs, etc. It was hysterical. There were also dance challenges where the audience danced in their seats for points. The men won.

Paul and I headed to the casino and the Fortune Cookie machine. Then I went to bed and Paul stayed in the casino playing poker at the Hold Em Table.

Before our cruise we debated if we should bring our poker chips. Paul has a poker game at our house every week and we asked on cruise critic to see if there was interest. We only had one or two people respond. One person said we should bring the chips and would probably be able to start a game. With all the luggage we had, since we didn't have much feedback, we left the chips home. In hindsight we should have brought them. The Hold Em table took a 10% rake of each pot.

We still haven't received any towel animals.

Monday 8/28/06  St Thomas We aren't arriving in St Thomas until 1pm. I picked up some Danish at the cafe promenade for a quick breakfast on the balcony.

10am I went to the Port talk. It was all about buying jewelry. One guy asked a question about beaches. The woman had no clue about beaches so he left. I asked to confirm that the Guavaberry store would deliver purchases to the ship again she had no clue. These talks would be more informative if they covered more than just shopping and trying to get you to buy their coupon book.

11:15 I went to the Screening Room to see Hidden Depths. There were only four people there  me and three other woman. One girl shared with all of us that she was on her honeymoon and was already fighting with her husband over where the Compasses are and other trivial matters. Sounds like a great start (I'm being sarcastic). I didn't stay for the whole show since I made plans to meet Paul at the dining for lunch at 12.

I met Paul at 12 noon and we had lunch in the dining room. We sat with a couple and another couple with two little kids. It was odd  no one talked to each other; everyone just talked within their little group. I had the Tutta Pasta  where you pick what you want in your pasta and they make it for you. There aren't that many choices. I had penne with mushrooms in pesto sauce. Paul had baby back ribs and asked for a ½ order of pasta (penne with shrimp, garlic, mushrooms in a white sauce). It was OK. I tried the chocolate crème brulee for dessert that I didn't like, but I'm not a big chocolate fan.

1pm We got off the ship and walked around Havensight Mall. I bought two post cards.

1:45pm We met on the pier for our tour Coral World and Coral Sea. Two of our dinner mates, Karen and Joe, were on this tour too. We boarded an open air taxi to take us to Coral World. It's very hot out.

One we arrived at Coral World one of the tour guides split us into two groups  either the Nurse Sharks or the Barracudas. We were sharks. We were to go on the submersible first. She spent about 15 minutes counting people and this was not very organized. Then we all walked to this area with an overhang. It was probably 2:40 by now. She told the other group to meet back here at 3:30 and to go enjoy the park.

We walked to the submersible. It was not really a submarine that submerged into the water. We were sitting in the bottom of the boat and there were windows. The boat drove around in a big circle. We did see these interesting Velcro Head fish that would attach themselves to the boat. One of the guides went in the water with dog food to get the fish to come near the boat. We didn't get off the boat part until 3:45 so the other group has been waiting. The bus is scheduled to pick us up at 4:30 to take us back to the ship.

We were able to wander the park now on our own. I expected a small version of Sea World. This was really small. The map made things look much bigger than they were. There was a shark area that was relatively big on the map. I asked Paul if he saw where it was and he laughed at me because I had walked right past it several times (it was a small pool with little sharks in it).

4:30 we left and got on the waiting open air bus in the heat. After 10 minutes I asked when we were leaving. I was told we were waiting for others that are still on the boat. Another open air bus said that they had room for about 7 people. I immediately said the 4 of us would go (Paul, me, Karen, and Joe). We got on the other bus as did three other people and we left. It's about a 20 minute ride back. We got off at Havensight Mall and wandered around some more. We walked back to the ship just before 6pm and saw the bus we got off of at Coral World just pulling in. I'm glad I spoke up and we jumped on the other bus.

We didn't think we could go to dinner in the dining room and we'd end up in the Windjammer. We stopped by the dining room just after 6 (as soon as we got back on the ship) and explained we just got back from St Thomas and were we OK to eat dressed as we were (me in Capris, Paul in shorts). They said yes come on in so we went to our table. We were totally prepared to go have dinner in the Windjammer since we weren't really dressed for dinner. Jamie and Dean were not there, but the other two couples were.

Appetizers  I had tropical fruit and spring rolls; Paul had seafood salad Salad  I skipped the salad; Paul had Caesar salad EntrEe  I had the Vegetarian Bami Goreng; Paul had Veal Parmigiana Dessert  I had Low Fat Mocachino Parfait; Paul had banana cream pie

My Bami Goreng was very good  it was a noodle dish with vegetables.

9pm We went to the Ice Show. It was very good. It was even better than the one on the mariner.

10:30 we went to the Love & Marriage show. It started with a car auction. Picking the contestants was rather boring. They just asked who was married the longest and the shortest and these two couples were in. They than asked for people married around 25 years and had them say Me Tarzan and give a yell. They stressed that it should be kept PG. Last time we saw this show on a ship, the contestants were getting into all sorts of cheers, dirty dancing, simulated sex acts, etc to compete to get onto the stage. The show itself was pretty funny.

We went to the Casino for a little while, and then went back to the room to get ready for bed.

We finally had a towel animal  a stringray with the chocolate mints for eyes. However, our floor towel and one washcloth was missing. They were used to make the towel animal which I didn't want to dismantle.

Tuesday 8/29/06 ' St Maarten We had a quick breakfast in the Windjammer around 8:30. We had to meet our tour between 8:45 and 9am. We booked the St Maarten Island Tour.

We boarded a big air-conditioned bus. The tour guide explained the various things we drove by. We stopped at a lookout point on the Dutch side, then got back on the bus and drove to the French side. We had a 45 minute stop in Marigot. It's very hot out. There was an air-conditioned mall that we wandered around. The tour guide mentioned the beautiful bathrooms in the mall that they charged you $1 to use  so we used them. They were nice but not as spectacular as she made them seem. We wandered outside through an open air market. Before getting back on the bus, we stopped in the regular free public bathrooms. They were clean too.

We boarded the bus for the ride back. The tour guide continued to explain everything we were seeing. We got off Downtown, stopped at the Guavaberry store, and ordered 6 bottles of Guavaberry liquor to be delivered to the ship for my friend Kim. Then we went to the Belgian Chocolate shop and bought some chocolates. We wandered a little bit but were very hot so got on the water taxi and went back to the ship.

We got back to the ship around 1:30 and I took another shower. Our towel animal is gone and the towels are back in the bathroom.

2pm We went up to Johnny Rockets for lunch and used our Crown and Anchor coupons. We each had soda. Paul had a refill and was charged again for soda. I had the veggie burger. Paul had a cheeseburger and a hot dog. We enjoyed the fries and onion rings. We shared the apple pie ala mode for dessert. Considering there were only maybe 2 other table in use, the service was really slow.

Next we headed over to the Solarium Pool It was nice and empty since most people were still on shore. The water in the pool was warm. I expected it to be cooler, but it was very nice. The hot tub was hot. I only stayed in there for about 5 minutes. The fresh water showers by the pool were refreshing. I finished reading my book  Marley and Me while by the pool. There were some sad parts so I was glad I had my sunglasses on to cover my tearing eyes. That was a really good book and I recommend it highly. I don't get to read books very often, usually just on planes or on cruises.

5pm We went back in and showered and got ready for dinner. I stopped at the library to see if there were any books I wanted.

6pm We went to dinner. Dean and Jamie weren't there again tonight. Appetizers: I had the crab cake; Paul had Pate and soup EntrEe: I had the vegetable risotto; Paul had pork chops Dessert: I had baked Alaska; Paul had pineapple sherbet.

We have another towel animal tonight  I think it's a dog. It was made with one bath towel and one hand towel. It's wearing Paul's sunglasses. The towel animal dog is on the bed. Our Bingo Dog was put on the bed next to the towel animal dog.

9pm I went to the Fast Forward show. Paul was playing poker so I went without him. It was good.

I met Paul in the casino after the show for a little while. After playing a bit, I went upstairs to get ready for bed. Paul stayed in the casino to continue playing poker.

Wednesday 8/30/06  San Juan Puerto Rico 8am We went down to the dining room to go through Immigration. It took about 10-15 minutes. Then we headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast.

We headed off the ship and into San Juan at little after 9. It's very hot out. It is very convenient that we docked right in Old San Juan and were able to just walk right off and didn't need a taxi.

We went across the street to the Sheraton Hotel and Casino. It was nice and cool in there. We played a few slots, and then ventured back out.

We wandered up and down a few streets. We stopped in McDonalds (Paul wanted to see if it was different than the ones we have in NY/NJ). We saw an ad for the duck tours, which we originally wanted to do in San Juan. However, the Duck Tour website said they were closed on Wednesdays. However, this little paper ad said they were open. Unfortunately, it was already 10:20am and we would not have time to make it all the way over to the Duck Tour place by 10:30 to get on the 11am Duck Tour. The next tour was too late.

We stopped in the Hard Rock Cafe but didn't buy anything. We saw vendors selling imitation bags (Louis Vuitton, Coach, etc) on the street but didn't buy anything.

After a little more wandering we went back to the Sheraton Casino. We both called home  Paul to check on the business and me to check in at work.

We played some more. We got on a hot streak on a 25-cent poker machine and got 4 of a kind a few times. We started out with $20 in the machine and cashed out $375. Paul also played some table games  3 card poker and Black Jack.

We stopped in a little grocery on the way back to the ship and bought a 6 pack of Coke and a 6 pack of Root Beer.

1:30 We were back on the ship and went up to the Windjammer for lunch. I had trouble finding anything to eat. I had a little salad and some fries.

After lunch we went to the arcade. Paul played a few games.

3pm We went out on Deck 12 to watch sail away. It's still hot out but at least it's breezy in the shade.

3:35 We went back to the Windjammer to see if they had nachos with cheese. They did so I snacked on that.

We went back to the Casino after our snack.

5pm I went up to the room to shower and get ready for dinner.

6pm We went to dinner Appetizers: I had fried shrimp; Paul had seafood salad Salad: I had Caesar salad; Paul had regular salad EntrEe: I had pasta arrabiata; Paul had Osso Buco Dessert: I had Mocachino Parfait; Paul had sherbet.

We went to the 9pm Show. We left after about 15 minutes because we found it boring.

10:15 We went to Win a Cruise Bingo. It wasn't as crowded as I expected it to be. We didn't win.

We went back to the Casino for a little while.

I went up to the room about midnight and read my book on the balcony until about 1am. Paul stayed in the casino playing poker. He met a bunch of guys that all play poker together every night in the casino. When the casino closes, they all get pizza together on the promenade cafe. We should have brought our poker chips after all.

The ship is rocking tonight more than it has previously.

Thursday 8/31/06  Labadee I picked up some Danish at the cafe promenade for us to have for breakfast.

The Compass said that from 9-11am would be the most crowded times for the tenders to Labadee. So we waited until 11am then headed down to the tenders. There was a huge line. It wrapped around the dining room. We waited an hour to get on the tender. There needs to be a better way to do this.

We got to Labadee a little after 12 and Paul wanted to get lunch. He had ribs, chicken, and a burger. I had some rice, corn, and fruit.

We rented a floating mat ($10) then asked the worker for 2 chairs in the shade. He made space for us by moving other chairs over. We tipped him $5, then headed into the water. The water was warm. We had fun playing in the water on the floating mat. I sat on the lounge chair for a bit and finished my book.

Around 3pm we wanted to head back to the ship. I stopped in the bathroom to shower and rinse off the salt and sand and change out of my bathing suit. I realized I forgot to bring a towel with me so had to drip dry before putting on my clothes.

We returned our mat and walked over to the tender area and got on line. Paul got some Ben & Jerry's ice cream that they were selling while we waited. It was about a 10 minute wait to get on the tender, then we waited another 10 minutes for it to fill up.

I was so happy to jump in a normal (normal for a cruise ship) shower when we got back. Paul went to shower in the gym.

I was hungry since I didn't have much to eat on Labadee and was thinking maybe we would order some room service or go to the Windjammer for a snack (Nachos) once Paul got back. A few minutes later Paul got back with a plate of snacks (including Nachos) from the Windjammer  he knows me so well. We enjoyed our snack on the balcony. We went to the Logo store to buy a photo album, and then stopped in the liquor store to buy some alcohol. They'll deliver it to our cabin the last night. The lady in the liquor store charged us incorrectly and couldn't figure out how to fix it so ended up doing this odd refund for a pack of gum.

5:15 We went to Wipe Out Bingo in the Maharajas Lounge. It's one game for $20 and the winner gets their SeaPass Account paid for (wiped out) up to a maximum of $2,500. We didn't win.

Bingo didn't end until 5 to 6 so we ran upstairs and quickly changed into our dinner clothes and went to dinner.

Appetizers: We both had the scallop risotto (I pulled off the scallops) Salad: We both had the caprese (mozzarella & tomato) EntrEe: I had the garlic shrimp; Paul had the Veal Shank Dessert: I had the Tiramisu; Paul had the lemon Sherbet

After dinner we went back to the casino for a little while. Paul got himself settled at the poker table so may be staying there for the night.

9pm Showtime was a juggling Comedian. Paul stayed at the Hold Em Table.

10:30 Was the Quest. It wasn't as funny as it's been in the past. I think it was the cruise director  she's rather dull. Paul stayed at the Hold Em table and missed the Quest.

I went to the casino after the Quest, checked to see how Paul was doing at poker, then played some slots.

Around 12:30 I headed upstairs grabbing a slice of pizza on the way.

Friday 9/1/06  At Sea I went to the gym around 9am. Unfortunately, this was the first and only time I made it to the gym all week. The elliptical machine wasn't as modern as the one I'm used to at NYSC at home but it worked. I went in the Jacuzzi in the spa. Then I went back up to the cabin to shower and get dressed.

11am Paul and I went up to the Windjammer to have breakfast.

12 Paul entered the blackjack tournament. He did not make it to the final table this time. While he was playing in the tournament I started speaking with a woman whose husband was also in the tournament. The husband's name was Brian, I don't remember the wife's name. After the tournament we ended up chatting with both of them. They were not very happy with the cruise. They were having issues with the amount of kids on the ship (over 1,000) and said they were running up and down the hallway by their room and they had to call security a few times. We didn't notice that so maybe it was just where their room was located.

Paul and I played in the casino for a little while. The Hold Em Poker table opened up so Paul joined the game.

2pm I went to watch the Men's sexy legs competition. It was starting to drizzle. The event was kind of dull. The cruise director, Ashlee, kept reminding people to keep it PG13 and it's sexy legs. What usually made this a fun event was how crazy people get. She toned down the Quest too so that wasn't it's usual fun game either. Neither was bad, they just weren't as fun and crazy as they could be.

I stopped at the front desk to drop off the gratuity form.

I checked in on Paul in the casino to see how he was doing.

I stopped at the cabin and started organizing our dirty clothes to make packing tomorrow a little easier.

I read some of my book on the balcony.

I stopped at the Windjammer to get a snack of Nachos which I brought back up to the cabin to eat on the balcony.

When I was in the Windjammer, there is a big sign by the water dispenser not to fill water bottles since it can cause illness. Yet this woman stood right in front of the sign and filled her water bottle. I pointed out that she shouldn't do that and she ignored me. I told one of the workers that he may want to clean it since she just put her water bottle up against it. Unfortunately, the worker ignored me too.

5pm I stopped in the casino to see how Paul is doing and to remind him it's formal night.

5:20 I went up to shower again and get ready. Paul came up around 5:45 to get ready. We took pictures on the way to the dining room.

We had the following: Appetizer  I had mushroom in puff pastry; Paul skipped the appetizer Salad  I skipped the salad; Paul had a house salad EntrEe  I ordered the fisherman's plate (lobster & shrimp); Paul ordered both the fisherman's plate and the prime rib so he could make surf and turf. Surprisingly, no one at our table ordered extra lobster tails. I've been trying to eat seafood but am really having a hard time with it and not enjoying it. I may end up sticking with what I've been doing for almost two years of not eating chicken, meat, or fish.

Dessert  I had the Sampler Trio which consisted of Chocolate cake, rum cake, and cheesecake. Paul had rainbow sherbet.

After dinner Paul and I went back to the Casino. I played Let it Ride at the table. Paul played poker. I was having fun so didn't go to the 9pm Vibeology Show. I found out that the later show is at 10:45.

10:30 I went up to the cabin to change out of my formal clothes.

10:45 I watched the Vibeology show. It was OK.

11:30 I went to take pictures of the gala buffet. From 11:30-12:15 it was for picture taking only. It was a madhouse. I didn't bother going back when it opened to eat.

12:30 I got a slice of pizza at the promenade and went upstairs. Paul came up to change out of his suit. We had pizza together.

I watched Meet the Fockers on TV and Paul went back to the casino.

Saturday 9/2/06 Paul and I had breakfast in the Windjammer

10:30 we went to see View from the top where you were able to ask questions of the captain and other department heads.

We went ice skating. Well, I ice skated and Paul took a few pictures of me skating.

We wanted to go rollerblading but the track was wet.

We played a game of mini golf. The course was pretty beat up.

I did a little packing.

We ordered a snack from room service  cheese & crackers, fruit, pizza, and cookies. We gave the guy who delivered it a $5 tip.

After our snack Paul headed down to the casino.

3pm We went to watch the Karaoke finals. The woman that won was fantastic. She was a better singer than some of the performers in the shows.

3:45 was the Final Bingo. While we were playing the ship started rocking a lot. Many people were getting sick. The Bingo machine (with the balls in it) slid across the stage. I started feeling a little off and have never had that happen on a cruise before. I went up to the cabin and took Bonine for the first time and laid down. That Bonine wiped me out  I fell asleep. Paul came up a little before 6 so we went down to dinner. I was feeling better and the ship seemed a bit calmer.

We had the following: Appetizers  I had the chips with spinach dip. The chips were very greasy. Paul had the hummas with pita Salad  We both had Caesar salad EntrEe  I ordered the sweet and sour mahi mahi which I didn'tt like. So ended up getting macaroni and cheese and French fries from the kid's menu. Paul had the NY Strip steak. Dessert  I had the banana parfait; Paul had orange sherbet

We gave out the tips and exchanged email addresses with our tablemates.

I went back to the room since the ship starting rocking a lot again. Paul finished packing the shoes and other stuff. We put out 4 bags of checked luggage.

Paul headed back down to the casino.

Sunday 9/3/06 I finished packing up our carryons. It was rainy and cloudy out at 6am. We had to be out of our room by 8 I took my last shower in the shower tube and got ready to go. Paul and I had breakfast in the dining room. There was a line to get in. I had a little of the granola with yogurt, then French toast and apple juice. Paul started with lox and cream cheese on a bagel, then a ham & cheese omelet and apple juice.

After breakfast we waited on deck for our color to be called. The sun came out and it was turning out to be a nice day.

We were called a little after 10. We got off the ship, got our luggage, Paul got the car, and we were on the road home by 10:45.

We were home by 11:30am. We expected a house full of people but no one was there. Peter, our house sitter, cancelled the barbecue because of the weather and he was tired.

FINAL THOUGHTS Cruising out of Bayonne was great. It was so easy to just drive to the pier and not have to worry about flying. It also allowed us to overpack to our heart's content and not worry about having to pay airline surcharges for overweight bags. The guarantee cabin worked out very well  we would definitely do that again. It was great to vacation with Paul after spending the last few vacations with friends while Paul stayed home and worked.








Publication Date: 12/29/06
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