We LOVE Explorer of the Seas. Thank you Royal Caribbean for giving New Jersey a "Home Ship", we hope to sail her often!
This was our third sail with RCI, 5 night-July 15th to Bermuda, 2 previous on Voyager, others on Celebrity. Since this was a short get away for us, without our kids we chose a 5night sail, already having 2 12night Explorer sails already booked for family sails. If you think a 5 night might be short, even as a 9 night cruiser we enjoyed the 5night just as much, and so will you.
We arrived to Cape Liberty a little before noon. The porters all seemed organized but we were faster in removing our luggage from our truck than they were, tipped $5 per bag. My husband went to park in long term parking, now located to the left of the terminal (where it used to be to the right when Cape Liberty was first opened) I think the change is very good for traffic flow and pattern. I watched our luggage and waited for my husband to return (oops! Watched 2 pieces of our luggage fly off the carrier, I didn't want to mention it but in retrospect it is somewhat humorous) everything arrived safely. In less than 10 minutes were were on the bus for the 2 minute ride to EXPLORER. We didn't stop to have our picture taken, but most do. Everything at the terminal runs SUPER SMOOTHLY! Bags quickly scanned, check in within minutes, no wait for us to board the bus and before we knew it we were checking on the location of our dining room table!!
The staff all over the ship is amazing, they truly want to help in any way they can. We changed our table without much difficulty. We stopped into Windjammer for the boarding burger-n-fries, picked up cyber cabin at guest relations and went to our Cabin where our luggage was already waiting for us. It was no later than 1:30-2PM. As for our cabin & attendant; both wonderful, couldn't ask for more except our personal past experience leads us to preferring a Hump cabin. We booked late & booked a cabin guaranty, so it was all good this time around. We love leaving from Cape Liberty, as the excitement of most travellers as we're going under the Verrazano Bridge is electrifying! No matter how many times you do it is always as exciting. (Thank you again RCI). We met up at our informal CC Meet & Mingle at the Aquarium bar between 5:30-6:30 and had a great time meeting all who came. Dinner in the dining room the first night was okay. I don't remember too much, our waiter and asst seemed preoccupied. We requested a table for two b/c we didn't have our kids with us and wanted a table for two. We needed to let them know we were seasoned cruisers and service immediately became up to par and what we're accustomed to. (Not sure why, but worth the mention). We had previously read on cruise critic that if you ask for a plate of sushi to be brought to your table each night they would accommodate- we asked about it the first night and the second night it was brought. RCI....you guys need to update what you call sushi, ham is an insult, but we still love you. This is something you can do much better with. The following nights we were told they didn't have enough supplies to bring sushi from windjammer to the dining room for the many that asked. Ok, enough said on that. The dining room food was VERY GOOD. Portofinos= AMAZING, we will go to Portofinos multiple nights on our upcoming 12 night sails. Windjammer= disappointing. Having sailed with RCI and Celebrity before and not long ago we were kind of shocked that the quality of food changed in Windjammer. Breakfast buffet; we suggest fresh cooked omelets and eggs, cereal, bagels and avoid the crumbly pancakes, the horrible tasting sausage, questionable bacon- it never tasted like bacon, I tested it 2x just for this review! :) Fresh little sandwiches for lunch were good, but I cant recall anything other than that and salad. I personally liked that Jade had some unusual choices at breakfast= great ingenuity. Johnny Rockets is worth the wait if there is one! We went on a cloudy day and again, it is worth the wait! Food AND service was outstanding.
Overall, RCI and Explorer is the only way we will travel. The service is unrivaled and altho you do hear things like the food isn't perfect and some have mentioned rust on the balcony, these are little things inherent to large cruise ships. We didn't see deck patrol but the kids also didn't seem out of hand at all on this cruise. Allen the Cruise Director is FABULOUS, Quest as always is NOT to be missed! The coconut ranger cookies are delish, the new bedding is a very welcome and wonderful change. I didn't feel even the slightest bit seasick even when the ship was rocking-a-bit!
Disembarkation was easy and painless at Cape Liberty!! From the time we boarded the bus for the 2 minute ride from ship to terminal until we arrived to our vehicle WITH Luggage was UNDER 10 minutes!! SUPER ORGANIZED. I didn't even have time to phone some buddies that were boarding the next cruise, we wanted to say hello @ the terminal! Explorer is a GREAT ship and we can't wait to be on her on our upcoming Holiday 2007 12 night Sail in December.
We sincerely look forward to seeing some of the Staff that we already know will be on our Holiday sail (some we will even be bringing Holiday gifts for a select few!)