We stayed at the Doubletree Newark Airport the night before the cruise. The hotel was very nice and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a nice place to stay.
Embarkation: This took longer than Port Canaveral. Many people were still waiting to leave by the time we got to the terminal around 11:00. We had boarding number 20 and it seemed like it too forever for them to call the first number but after that it went fairly quickly. We got on the ship around 12:30 and had lunch in the Windjammer. After that we went to the room and then went to the dining room to request main seating instead of second seating for dinner. We were put on a list and told that if it was changed we would get a note. When we went back to our stateroom we had a note. The first night we sat with a family and another couple who was sitting there for just one night. The next day we had another note with a table change. We sat with three other couples who were part of a larger group. The show was good. There was a lightening storm, which was something else. The waves were kind of rough, but not too bad.
Day Two: This day was a sea day. The ship was rocking in the morning. Just explored the ship some more and relaxed.
Day Three: Bermuda was gorgeous. We took the carriage ride which was nice. We had a complainer on there though..you can't please some people and the lady she was with actually apologized for her when they got off. After the carriage ride we got something to eat then took a bus to Horseshoe Bay, which was absolutely gorgeous! I would say it is just about the prettiest beach I've ever been to.
Day Four: At sea again.
Day Five: St. Maarten was nice. Took the Little Divi Beach Bay excursion, which was nice. Was parked next to the Liberty of the Seas and couldn't believe how much bigger that ship is compared to the Explorer. The width of it was what really got me. HUGE.
Day Six: St. Thomas was very pretty. The Mariner was right behind us. Went to Coral World and Magen's Bay. Someone I know was on the Mariner and saw me on the beach and I just found out today that they saw me! Small world.
Day Seven: San Juan was a great port, in my opinion. Took the Fortresses tour and then went shopping on Cristos Street. Went to the Coach outlet there and bought a purse. I thought I was going to die when I went in the Coach outlet though. I'd like to go back to San Juan very much just to shop!
Day Eight: Sea day. Relaxed.
Day Nine: Sea day. Last day on the ship, which is always sad. We took the Ocean Lab tour, which was interesting.
Disembarkation: Not a smooth process. We had lavender luggage tags, which we requested to get instead of light blue so we could get home sooner. We got off the ship around roughly 9:45, although I can't remember the exact time. There are not nearly enough porters to handle the amount of people that get off of the cruise ship.
Service was excellent. Our waiter, Eduardo, was from the Philippines, and was very sweet. Our assistant waiter, I forget his name, was from Turkey. We were seated in the Columbus dining room. Our room steward was sweet. Her name was Emily and she was from the Philippines as well.
The food was good. The pizza was excellent. Maybe I just had a bad experience on the Mariner with the pizza in the dining room because I never had it anywhere else. I got pizza from the Cafe Promenade and it was hot and fresh everytime.
Entertainment was good. I thought the first night and the last night had the funniest comedians, and the magician was good too. Production shows were good as well.
We lucked out with this cruise and had great weather for the entire time, minus the beginning on the way down. On the way back the sea was just about smooth as glass.
The Explorer is very well maintained. I would have never guessed that the ship is going on seven years old. Beautiful ship. The crew was great. I really liked that they offered to carry your things in the Windjammer and went around asking if you needed anything to drink or anything else in general.
My only complaint was the disembarking..it really needs to be more efficient. A lot of people were saying that they would never sail out of that port again, which is really a shame since the Explorer is such a great ship.
Overall the cruise was amazing.