Enjoyable cruise : Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by mizlorinj
Overall Member Rating
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
We have cruised just once with Royal Caribbean so we figured since we didn’t have priority status we’d arrive at the port after the main rush. We arrived just after 1:30 to a very long and slow-moving line of cars entering Cape Liberty. After about 15 minutes we got dropped off, handed our bags over to a very uninterested porter, and continued into Security. That line moved quickly as did the very short line for Gold level check-in, and within maybe 15 minutes we were on the bus headed to the ship. This port is still a disaster with the lines and the using of buses to get you to the ship. Hoping this is resolved with the completion of the new terminal. Not sure how the new building will affect the long line you wait in before even getting out of your car or parking, but we’ll see.
Our bump-out balcony cabin was small as was expected. The balcony was nice and deep and More the furniture on it had seen better days. The back of both chairs was very discolored and dirty. I do wish the chairs reclined somewhat. There was a small table which was handy. Everything in the cabin was in working condition. The safe looked like it had been through a war, yet it worked fine. Carpet is quite worn. Plenty of storage space. The bathroom was tinier than I remembered; you could sit on the toilet and rest your head on the sink at the same time, which may come in handy I suppose. Refrigerator, desk, couch and little table. I thought the bed was ok but my man didn’t care for it. I like that it's right by the sliding glass door.
Muster was relatively quick and painless, and we headed to the bow for sailaway. It was a beautiful day for sailaway and we really enjoyed it.
Windjammer buffet still gets quite crowded as is expected. Not impressed with the food or the food selection. Wish they had more of a veggie selection than salads. We did find the dinnertime Indian food to be excellent. I discovered coconut ranger cookies and ate a lot of them.
We originally had early dining and our SeaPass cards had a sticker showing we were switched to my time dining which was fine. We only ate dinner once in the dining room and the food was just ok. I do like the three story dining room. We had one breakfast in the dining room at a table with others. They did not get our orders right, and everyone else had already eaten their breakfast by the time my omelet arrived. The dining room has decent coffee.
Past guest party was in the Maharaja lounge and was very nice. Various drink offerings like punch or some kind of sparkling wine, beer, and juice. Captain sang a few songs.
Enjoyed the offering of “What Season Are You?” a color analysis system to identify which colors are most flattering for your skintone. This was big in the 80s but has fallen out of vogue, which is too bad because you really can see the difference the right color makes. It was cool to see the ladies get analyzed, and how the flattering colors contrasted with the unflattering. We also did the martini tasting with Anthony and Denzil one day which was a lot of fun. Also offered was a wine tasting and a few “favorite drinks” tastings where they feature the most popular drinks as samplers. Had fun at the 70s disco tunes competition, but the hostess didn’t seem like she was really into it. Finish the Lyrics lasted a long time and was quite entertaining. That host had fun with the crowd. They need to give better prizes out than a keychain.
Bermuda. We took a taxi to Coco Reef the day of arrival and had a wonderful day there. Came back to the ship around 7pm. It poured rain later that evening. The next day the weather looked iffy so we didn’t venture far as we had planned to; took the ferry to Hamilton for a few hours for $8 round trip. Rained, was sunny, rained, was sunny.
Sat on our balcony enjoying the evening, and about 10pm or so we saw the NCL Breakaway (fabulous ship!) off our starboard side on their way to Bermuda. (yes, I had binoculars!)
Debarkation. We were to report to one of the restaurants to wait for express debarkation or whatever Royal calls it. The ship’s lines were tied just after 8, and at 8:20 it was announced that the ship was cleared and to head to the assigned areas. At 8:25 we were then directed to the stairs to leave. More lines to get off the ship and then a line for the bus. Fortunately the customs/immigration lines in the terminal building moved quickly. We were ready for pickup at 8:45. So despite the lines in the stairwells and for the bus, it was pretty quick.
Things we liked: that you could be on the bow for sailaway, the size of the balcony, the coconut ranger cookies, martini tasting, Dizzy’s lounge, Bermuda. The ship interior is decorated very nicely.
Did not like: smelling cigarette and cigar smoke on our balcony, worn areas on the ship, crowded pool area (typical of most ships I suppose), the sacred beach towels that have to be signed out (not left in the cabin like other cruise lines do), hosts of some of the games seemed like they just wanted to get it over with, the port itself for embarkation and debarkation (lines everywhere). Being charged after final bill for mini bar items we did not use and having to waste time on the phone with RCI. In 40+ cruises that has never happened before.
Other random observations: $7.95 per minute for using the cabin phone. Lobster or filet mignon offerings for an upcharge in the dining rooms (though a nice lobster tail was offered at no additional cost one night and it was tasty). The Windjammer had some of the same options for dinner as the main dining room. Odd that the dinner buffet starts at 6:30pm (late?). Buffet is closed at 9pm for the night. No robes in cabin. Ice cream machines were not always working. Coffee in the buffet is bitter. Liked the machines in the gym. TV had the same shows on all the time, Big Bang Theory, Sex & the City, Mentalist. Needs a better navigational info channel. Why do people leave their outside lights on? The moon was shining off the water so beautifully and yet we had their light ruining the view. I know that people love the Promenade area but it really isn’t that exciting for me.
At the past guest party the captain announced that about 1/3 of passengers are C&A members, which meant there were a lot of newbies onboard. The newbies did not care for the hassle of this port--we learned this from some of them as we rode the bus back to the terminal from the ship with them. We assured them that not every port is like this.
We did have a nice cruise and enjoyed being on vacation. Less
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