Got back last week from yet another fantastic cruise on the Explorer, a five nighter to Bermuda. The only real downside was getting to the port. The Bayonne bridge is closed on weekends for construction so I decided to cut through Manhattan. Huge mistake. I figured that Saturday morning traffic wouldn't be bad but I forgot one thing-NYC has parades nearly every weekend and it's a nightmare trying to find your way around them. I would recommend taking the GWB and bypassing Manhattan.
Once we finally got there, we did have to wait through a long line of cars to drop off our luggage with the porters, took about 30 minutes. After we parked however, and things were in the hands of Royal, things rolled right along. From the time we parked to the time we boarded was under 15 minutes. And one minor advantage to the long delay getting to the ship was that we had immediate access to our stateroom.
I booked an aft corner stateroom-9390, and had ordered decoration since we were celebrating my wife's birthday and out anniversary. The decorations were nicely done. The cabin itself is a good one. It's a little wider than the other balconies I've been in, and the balcony itself is also a bit bigger. It's got a bit of a funny layout because the railing is canted inward, which takes away a bit of standing room but is fine to stretch your legs under in the lounger.
Once again, the food was first rate, from the selections in Windjammer, sandwiches on the promenade, to the fine meals in the MDR. The bartenders were quick to fill orders and made some nice strong drinks. I also finally found the cigar lounge and discovered that its a nice, very quiet place to relax.
On to entertainment. Erky was away, he's getting married but his stand-in Titi worked very well with Leigh's brand of wackiness. The love and marriage show was a killer this time around, and I took the bronze in the belly-flop competition. And the ice show, Spirit of the Seasons was terrific even though I had seen it before.
The seas were much smoother than our last cruise in April, and the weather was nicer except for a couple of brief showers in Bermuda. Did a helmet dive with Greg Hartley again and it was better than the first time around. I highly recommend it (www.hartleybermuda.com). We also took the sunset cocktail cruise-too cloudy to see the sunset but the unlimited rum swizzles made up for that. The rest of the time was just relaxing on the beach at Snorkel Park. We had dinner at the Bonefish bar and grill. There's nothing like fish that was still swimming the day you're eating it!
The rest of the cruise was fun, won a bit in the casino on the first and last nights so that pretty much covered what we spent on shore. It's nice ending a vacation with the same amount of money in your pocket as when you started. Getting off the ship wasn't too bad, everyone's numbers were actually a little ahead of schedule, and traffic leaving wasn't a problem as the bridge was open again.
All in all, it was a great time and I'm looking forward to my next cruise on Explorer in December.