We did a Back to Back on the Explorer beginning June 3 to Bermuda followed by June 8 to Bermuda/Caribbean. We arrived at Cape Liberty about 12:30pm on June 3 and were met by porters that removed luggage from our car in a minute. My husband parked the car and walked back to the terminal where we went to priority check in and within 10 minutes were on the bus to the ship. It is a crazy scene at Cape Liberty but they really have it down to a science and the porters do a fantastic job of keeping everything moving fast.
We had the middle of the Hump JS on nine and it was a nice cabin although the guestbook needs to be replaced as it was pretty beat up. Our cabin steward was pleasant and did her job of keeping our cabin cleaned. We sailed thru rough seas on our way to Bermuda due to tropical storm Barry but the Explorer handled the rocky conditions just fine although many passengers were seasick.
We arrived in Bermuda to beautiful sunny weather! Bermuda is our favorite port so we enjoyed the island once again. On Tuesday night there is a festival put on by RCCL by the pier and it was a lot of fun with a magician and juggler performing and several local vendor booths set up. Later that evening we had the pleasure of seeing the Bermuda Royal Marching band and bagpipers perform. This is not to be missed! They are wonderful! We sailed back to Bayonne on calmer seas! I was posting live reports back to the CC All Things Explorer thread that I participate on throughout the entire back to back and I purchased CyberCabin to use with my laptop. For the 5 night it was 85.00 and for the 9 night it was 125.00 for unlimited access. It is a dial up but I found it much faster and less expensive than the internet cafe.
We returned to Bayonne on June 8. The evening before we had received a letter from the hotel manager onboard containing our new Seapasses for the next cruise and a letter stating we were to get off the ship the next morning, present ourselves to customs and than reboard. The next morning we ran into several problems in regards to this as no one at Guest Relations could give us the correct procedure to do the transfer in port. Finally we boarded a bus, went thru customs who told us we should not have left the ship as we had nothing to declare and we had entered from a U.S. port which was San Juan anyway and he told us to get back on a bus to the ship. However we were then directed by a port employee that we must walk outside the terminal and reenter from the otherside. When we walked outside the terminal and walked down to the other doorway they did not want to let us back in the terminal. We explained we were on a back to back and needed to go back to the ship as we'd gone thru customs. Finally another employee walked over and let us back in the terminal where we sat for almost two hours without money, credit cards or my medicine because we had been told we could reboard right away after customs. This turned out not to be the case. Finally after almost two hours we walked outside and spoke to a very nice port employee who let us get back on a bus to the ship and we boarded right away. RCCL needs to really get a set procedure on how to handle a B to B transfer in Bayonne as it's not one of the nice cruise terminal such as some others and there is nothing to do there to wait for hours. This did put a slight damper on the beginning of our next cruise but determined to have fun just let it go. Back onboard again we headed to the pool. Announcements were made that new passengers would board at noon and that's when the Windjammer would open which it did.
A few words about the ship. It is in very good condition and the crew is constantly washing, cleaning and painting it. The public rooms and pool areas, dining areas, etc. are very clean. Dizzy's in the evening is just stunning with the low lighting and we enjoyed several evenings there listening to music before dinner. We enjoy the Aquarium Bar after dinner and the bartenders are very friendly. A word about the food in the dining room. There is a definite change in taste from our last cruise in Nov. 06 on the Explorer. The food was very bland and many items overcooked this time. On the last evening I had to send my steak back as it was just too tough to cut. Last Nov. the food was very good and the bread and rolls were outstanding and served warm. This cruise they did not taste as fresh and they were served cold. The desserts remained excellent especially the sugar free selections! We found the Windjammer to be much better this time compared to November although it was good then it was really very good this time. The Waiters were fantastic and serving drinks and offering to get you anything you needed. The food was very very good this time. Many selections from the buffet as well as two hot stations in the middle next to the dessert station in the back of the Windjammer. We tried it one evening for dinner and we were impressed about the selections and quality of food and found it much better than the dining room in the evening on this cruise and we will dine there more often in the evening on our cruise in Oct. Portifino was excellent as always and JR's is always good for a lunch!Room service was excellent as always and food arrived piping hot always. I have to say I really love the shops onboard. I did shop in every port we visited which were Bermuda, St. Maartin, St. Thomas and San Juan but I still love the quality and variety and ease of shopping onboard. Bermuda of course we love so spent the day walking around Kings Wharf as Hamilton shops were closed as it was a Sunday when we arrived and of course visited the dolphins. The dolphin excursion in Bermuda is an excellent excursion and it is focused on conservation and education and a wonderful experience! Kings Wharf has some great shops that are often overlooked such as the shops in the Clocktower Mall, the glass factory, the art gallery, etc. The Bone Fish, Frog and Onion and Beethovens remain very popular places to eat. St. Maartin had absolutely beautiful water and I have several pictures posted on the All Things Explorer thread to see. In St. Thomas I enjoyed shopping in the Havensight mall and I wouldn't bother going into town again due to the traffic. We were not impressed with Old San Juan and the water appeared dirty compared to the other islands we had visited. We visited the old fort and walked up thru town and it was interesting but we will probably make this a ship day for us in the future.
On our way back to Bayonne we watched the ice show onboard which is really fantastic as always! Jackpot for bingo on last day was over 10,000! The parades were great although we thought the one at 12:15 AM was a little late for a parade. Allan Brooks the CD is really very good and a ball of energy! We enjoyed mini golf and watching the crew VS. passenger dodge ball on the sports deck! We do love this ship and all the space to explore and we never tire of it as we discover new things each time we are onboard it seems. All in all we had a really great 15 days onboard and will continue to sail our favorite ship the Explorer of the Seas! We had no problem leaving the ship and again the porters were a huge help and moved us thru very quickly. There has been reports of overspray from paint in the parking lot but our car was fine after 15 days.Next cruise is in October on the Explorer and looking forward to that and our 12 night Southern on her in December!