My family and I sailed on the Explorer of the Seas 8/3/07. This was my 7th cruise out of Bayonne. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at 12:15PM and were on the ship by 12:45PM. A quick lunch at the Windjammer and we went to our room. The Owner's Suite is a beautiful room. Some of the furniture did show some wear, but overall the room was in good shape. The bed was fantastic! Our room steward was very attentive. We used the "pillow menu" to order special pillows, which made my husband happy as he is used to a Tempurpedic pillow, and this was easily obtained. I was pleased to see that the deck patrol kept children out of the Solarium and kept "saving chairs" to a minimum. We were always able to get a chair at the Solarium, a big change from previous cruises. The weather was beautiful with calm seas except for some waves on our last sea day, but nothing to complain about.
Food on the cruise was good, nothing exceptional except for Portofino's, where both the food and service were memorable. Our service in the dining room was very good as well. I had no problem giving tips to our wait staff, head waiter or cabin steward, as they made our cruise so much more enjoyable by treating us so well. Our waitress, assistant waiter and steward all merited "a little extra" than the recommended amount and I was glad to give it. Anyone who has cruised before knows that the tips are an important part of the staffs' income.
We had a little trouble with the Explorations! staff. Our excursion in Bermuda was cancelled, but we did not receive notice about this until after 6 PM on the night before Bermuda. The excursion desk was already closed, so we had to get up early (7:30AM) to see if there was any other excursion available. We did book an earlier snorkel tour, but had to rush breakfast due to the change in plans. Earlier notification of the cancelled excursion would have been appreciated, in order to plan our day better.
The ports of call were:Bermuda-->a beautiful stop, even with it being my 7th time there. St. Maarten-->not such a pretty island, but good prices on jewelry, we hit some rough waves at Orient Beach. St. Thomas-->a pretty island, Megan's Beach was very nice. And Puerto Rico-->a short stop. We went to the rain forest and enjoyed the trip.
Leaving the ship in Bayonne was a slow process this time. I'm not sure why. Getting our luggage was quite stressful, although I did get a porter right away who was very good and got us thru customs and to the cab site without difficulty.
Overall we had a very pleasant, relaxing vacation. I live in Bayonne, so the ship is easily accessible, and I get to see her regularly, if from a distance. My daughter and I love cruising, and will be aboard again in November. We are avid travelers and cruising is always a good value in my opinion.