Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by nnwu: Decent cruise overall, but a few notable cons
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Decent cruise overall, but a few notable cons
Embarkation and Debarkation: The Bayonne, NJ port is by-far the worst and most disorganized that we have experienced, compared to the NYC and Miami ports. The main reason is that you must take a shuttle from the main registration/customs building to the ship, whereas at other ports you can walk right onto the ship. The wait for the shuttles is what makes the process super long. We arrived for embarkation and got a shuttle number at 10am and did not board the ship until past 12 noon - advice: arrive early! Debarkation was even worse - we lined up for the "express" self-assist at 9am and it took 1.5hrs to get off the ship and off the shuttle...and this is before you even reach the customs building! Again, long waits all due to that darn shuttle!! Many people volunteered to just walk (honestly, it would've been a quick 5 min walk), but the shuttle was not optional! Never ever ever again will we cruise out of Bayonne, NJ....FML!
Entertainment: Not much to do or see during the day More if you are like us and in your 20s. Evening headliner shows were the same old singers and dancers every time. Love and Marriage show was pretty lacklustre and not very funny compared to the ones on the Carnival ships - maybe it was just that the couples they chose on our cruise were really boring? lol i dont know! If you want a seat at the Quest show, get there at least 30mins early otherwise it becomes standing room only. No magic shows or comedy shows, which was a bummer. Lots of trivia, bingo, jewelery-making, food demos, and scrap-booking sessions.
Pools and Hot Tubs: Abundance of these all around the ship and most are 24hrs. Not very crowded, so I'm sure you can find a spot - the ones in the Solarium are probably your best bet!
Lounge Chairs: No need to wake up early to reserve lounge chairs on the decks - plenty for everyone, even on sea days!
Food: Windjammer buffet sucks, especially at lunch time. Exact same pasta, burgers and hot dogs every single day, with no variation (not at all an exaggeration). The best burger is the room service bistro burger, and the best pizza is in Cafe Promenade (windjammer and room service pizza not as good). Main dining room food was excellent - pick one of the port days to go to Portofino (main dining room menu not as good on those evenings)
Advice: If you want "my-time dining", make sure to book this option at the time of your reservation. Don't book set-time dining to avoid the pre-paid gratuities, thinking that you can easily switch to my-time when onboard the ship - there is very little flexibility to switch dining preferences once you are onboard. Too many unhappy people got stuck with 8:30pm dining.
Ports of Call:
Bermuda - Hands-down the best beaches (Orient Beach is the most highly-recommended). We really regretted not spending more time on the beach. Since it was our first port, we figured we would have lots of beach time in the other ports, but the other beaches simply cannot compare. Strongly recommend to make this your beach day and save your shopping, excursions, island tours for another port!
St. Maarten and San Juan - Excellent for shopping! San Juan had a Coach Factory store, Polo Ralph Lauren, Victoria Secret, Dooney and Burke, Abercrombie, etc. Unless you plan to visit the rainforest, there is really no need to spend money on an excursion in San Juan because it is very much a walkable city with lots to see and buy - plus the city's shuttle is free!
Labadee - We did the zipline and spent the rest of the day on the beach. Zipline was $95 per person and highly recommended, especially if you have never done it before. The beach was nice, but sand is extremely rocky (unlike the fine-grained sand found in Bermuda). Watershoes or at least rubber flipflops are necessary if you want to step foot into the water. Lots of people (ourselves included) rented the floating water mats for $14 - worth it because the water was very shallow so swimming was kind of difficult. Less
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