We sailed on the August 31 departure of Explorer of the Seas on their first Canada/New England trip for the year with great expectations for this trip. This was our sixth cruise.
We arrived at noon for embarkation. This port is the most inconvenient that we have sailed out of. After checking in, everyone gets a boarding ticket to get on a shuttle bus to go to the ship. The gangway was so steep, I don't know how all of the older passengers even made it on board. Cabins were not ready until 1:00.
Entertainment on the ship was some of the best we've seen--great comedians and better than average production shows. We attended the Murder Mystery Dinner at Portofino which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the food at this specialty restaurant is highly overrated. It was a disappointment. Food quality seems rather poor on Explorer.
The entire ship expected the first port to be Newport, Rhode Island as advertised when we booked; however, RCCL made a switch to the new port of New London, Connecticut. There were many unhappy passengers over the switch. We went in to the Mystic Seaport which was an interesting excursion.
In Halifax, we took an excursion out to Peggy's Cove which was breathtaking...definitely worth the drive. In St. John, we took a small boat out to the reversing falls…it was quite a ride! In Bar Harbor, we took a four hour tour into Acadia National Park and up Cadillac Mountain. Again, breathtaking views. In Portland, we opted for the shopping transfer to Freeport and LL Bean. We skipped the Boston excursions and opted for lunch in Little Italy.
This ship had no control of the 3,500 passengers. On every other cruise we've been on, the ship made sure that everyone on morning shore excursions were escorted off the ship first. Not Explorer. This ship believes in letting everyone off at the SAME time. The crowds were so jammed in everywhere that people couldn't even get off of the elevators. No organization at all. Tours were delayed because of this. In Bar Harbor, the customs officials were an hour late. The staff once again lost total control of the ship. The lines on both decks extended from one end to the other. Every corridor was blocked. They finally decided to attempt to clear the stairways and corridors in case of emergency, but it was too little, too late. Before the ice show, people once again were allowed to crowd the lobby. Everyone was so fed up, that it was like an angry mob scene when they were five minutes late opening the doors. People who have cruised 50 times, just shook their heads and said they had never seen anything like this
Definitely don’t book too early of a flight when leaving the ship. Explorer’s idea of getting people with early flights off the ship is in the fourth group to disembark. That didn’t happen until almost 9:50. We barely made our noon flight out of Newark.
Unfortunately, the good points of this cruise, were overshadowed by their lack of control. It is unlikely that I will want to sail with Royal Caribbean again.