Explorer of the Seas Voyage # 365 November 11, 2007 - November 23, 2007
Embarkment Day 1 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12939-d69c24/EOS_111107_CC01.pdf Arrived at the port at 11:00 am. Traffic was a little busy since prior week's passengers were still disembarking but we pulled up to a parking spot instantly and had a porter help us tag and collect our bags. Walked quickly through security and check-in since there were no lines. Received number 14 to board the shuttle and were on-board the shuttle by 12:10 - they started calling numbers around 11:45. Lunch in the Windjammer and got to our room by 1:00. Our bags arrived right after the muster drill. Met our cruise critic friends on Deck 12 for a sail-away party as we all held our breath when the ship sailed under the Verrazano. It always looks so close! Temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit so we wore light jackets; however, the bartenders at the pool bar had on 2 winter jackets and ski caps. It was cold to them since they are used to the Caribbean temperatures but for us this was a warm NJ November afternoon. Watched the sail-away parade from our Promenade room this evening since we were a bit tired.
At Sea - Day 2 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12942-b9ba0c/EOS_111107_CC02.pdf A little cool still today but nice for a windy walk on Deck 12 in the AM. Tried our luck at the slot tournament but the machines weren't helping us so we didn't make the finals. Took a run at bingo but no luck there either. Bingo is a bit pricey at $35 a pack but they were running a special of buy 2 get 1 free for $70 and selling Bingo dogs for $10 which got you an extra card for the jackpot game each time you played. First formal night this evening for the Captain's gala on the Promenade before late dinner. Enjoyed the "Wild, Cool and Swingin" show which was very "broadway style". Headed to the Chamber to finish the night dancing in the disco till the wee hours which was lots of fun and helped us work off some of the food and drinks.
At Sea - Day 3 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12943-690116/EOS_111107_CC03.pdf Warmer today so a good day at the pool except for a short shower in the early afternoon. Enjoyed the CC meet and mingle in the Chamber at 1:00 and then headed for a poker tournament….no luck again but made a small donation at Casino Royale. Tonight we saw the ice show, "The Spirit of the Seasons". As always, it was awesome. It continues to amaze me how those skaters perform all of those jumps and spins on a moving ship. I noticed this year that the costumes and stage scenery were more elaborate than I've seen in previous shows. There was a special performer who did acrobatics from a ring suspended above the ice in addition to skating. She was a very talented young lady.
St. Maarten - Day 4 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12945-844aae/EOS_111107_CC04.pdf Finally after nearly 3 full days at sea we arrived at St. Maarten at 3:00 pm. The ship was cleared around 3:45 but we decided to go to the pool for a bit and avoid the disembarking frenzy. We got off the ship a little after 4 and walked down to town to the shops. The walk wasn't too long but it was nice to get on land and take a stroll. Most shops were open till 6 but some stayed open to 7. We enjoyed a few $1 beers on the street as we googled at the gems. Not much was happening in town once the shops closed so we headed back to the ship for late dinner. Played a little trivia in the Schooner bar at 8. Trivia drew quite an enthusiastic crowd on this ship - you would think we were playing for better prizes than a key chain or pleather document holder. Went to the Majority Rules Gameshow in the Maharaja lounge. This game was not very good - you had to guess what the majority of the audience would guess as the answer to questions. If you choose to go, sit close to the table in the middle of the dance floor since extra points are awarded if you get your answer to the table first and it is impossible to gain those points unless you hurdle the couches if you sit on the perimeter.
Antigua - Day 5 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12946-84a019/EOS_111107_CC05.pdf Ship docks early in Antigua and we headed off immediately to play a round of golf at the Jolly Harbor. The course is about 15-20 minutes taxi ride from the dock. It is a very short course which was in OK shape despite the fact that they seemed to be maintaining it everywhere you went. You can see that the heat really beats on the course as some of the water hazards were actually dry and you could play from them. For dinner, we went to Portofino's which was excellent and well worth the additional charge. The service was impeccable. We had eggplant rollatini which was a small portion but very tasty. The gorgonzola and pear salad was yummy. Our entrées the halibut and filet were scrumptious - what a delicious dinner but too much food! It was double odds night at the casino so we once again tried our luck but Lady Luck wasn't with us so we headed to Battle of the Sexes. Allan Brooks, the cruise director, was a hysterical emcee for the game which the girls won. Allan has such a quick wit and sharp tongue he really makes you belly laugh. Off to the Chamber again to dance the night away. The DJ is just OK in the chamber it appears he plays the same sets each night in a very similar order. You just need to wait till your type of music comes around if you enjoy dancing.
Dominica - Day 6 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12947-23c6dc/EOS_111107_CC06.pdf We got off the ship around 8:30 to meet up with our tour which we had prearranged via the internet prior to sailing from Beno's tours in Dominica (http://www.benonaturetours.com/ ). It took us a few minutes to find Beno despite the picture he sent us via e-mail since he was up a side street. We asked a security guard who quickly escorted us to him. We had a wonderful tour with our guide, Desmond, who transported us in his Suzuki SUV, "God's Gift". Desmond won his SUV in a raffle when he purchased a washing machine to help his elderly mother with her chores. Desmond took the 4 of us in our tour directly to the Emerald Pool. It was awesome because we were the only ones at the falls when we arrived. As we were hiking back up through the rainforest there were nearly 100 people heading toward the falls. We were thankful we got there so early to have the beautiful scenery all to ourselves for some fantastic photos. Next we went to Trafalgar Falls. While this was noted to be less strenuous walking; however, we found it to be a less steep but more rocky so you need to be very careful. We watched a woman in sandals with heels trip and turn her ankle so be sure you have proper footwear (sneakers or hiking sandals). Last we went to the Botanical Gardens which were more like a park than an actual garden. We returned to the ship around 1:30 after our tour. There was confusion on the ship in Dominica. The Compass indicated that it was Smart Casual night but also had formal pictures planned. It turned out that this was the 2nd formal night. There were announcements posted by the elevators when we returned to the ship. Prior to dinner, we had some tasty martinis in the Champagne Bar. The show tonight was "Vibeology". Those Royal Caribbean singers and dancers performed an excellent show as usual. The music ranged from the 50s to the 80s and the show was well produced with a mix of singing, dancing and video.
Barbados - Day 7 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12948-232737/EOS_111107_CC07.pdf Weather was not so nice today but we got off the ship early to join our excursion "Snorkeling with the Turtles" which we arranged through the ship. We exited the ship and took a short bus ride from the port to the dock to board the catamaran. This tour was very crowded - everyone didn't even have a seat on the way out to the snorkeling spot. We snorkeled and saw the huge sea turtles which were awesome. The mates on the catamaran fed them so they came right up to us. Heading back to the dock it began to rain intensely but we sat outside on the front of the catamaran drinking rum punch and beers and getting our natural facial from the pelting rain. We had a blast despite the bad weather. There was a little bar and some shopping at the port so we sat to have a Banks beer with a few friends and meandered in the shops prior to boarding the ship in the mid afternoon. We enjoy trivia so we met some friends in the Schooner bar prior to dinner to test our knowledge. Once again, we lost by one point…will we ever win? The show this evening was "Love and Marriage". Allan Brooks was hysterical at this show - it's a definite must-see.
St. Kitts - Day 8 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12949-3ede14/EOS_111107_CC08.pdf Arrived at noon in St. Kitts. We were held a bit prior to being cleared and then walked down to port to meet our tour. We had planned the "Off the Beaten Path" tour via the ship. This tour was phenomenal - probably the best tour we've ever had on an island. Greg from Greg's Safaris (http://www.gregsafaris.com/) , our tour guide, was 5th generation native from St. Kitts and provided us an extremely educational and informative tour of the island. He took us in his safari jeep to several private plantation homes and gave us the full history of the sugar cane industry on the island. At one plantation home with a beautiful overlook Greg provided us with a picnic of local fruits and cakes and of course some rum punch garnished with limes he picked from a tree during our tour. Some may be concerned about bouncing around in a safari jeep for off the beaten path but it really wasn't any more bouncy then riding on some of the major pothole filled highways in NY or NJ. We highly recommend Greg's tour to see this awesome island.
St. Thomas - Day 9 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12950-8d2dd7/EOS_111107_CC09.pdf Island number 6 today - we arrived at 8 in St. Thomas but needed to clear customs in the dining room prior to disembarking. We were off the ship by 8:30 and caught a taxi to Mahogany Run Golf Course. We prearranged our golfing directly via the internet but we later found that the ship added an excursion to Mahogany Run also. Ours was a bit cheaper since the taxi was only $10 per person each way. Mahogany Run is an incredible course. It is meticulously maintained and provides breathtaking views especially on holes 13-15 called "Devils Triangle" which are on the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately our day in St. Thomas was very rainy so we didn't get to enjoy the golfing as we would have if the weather cooperated more. We played all 18 holes but about 9 holes of the 18 were played in the pouring rain. The ship stays late in St. Thomas so after golf we dropped our clubs back at the ship and headed out to do some "power shopping". We found that jewelry and watch prices are best here (at least for what we wanted) and were able to purchase many of the gifts we needed for family members. Our recommendation is to go downtown rather than to the shops at the port if you want to bargain for better prices. The shops downtown close at 5 but the shops in the port stay open till at least 7. "Fast Forward" was the singing / dancing show tonight which was excellent. We ate at Portofino's again tonight and enjoyed it just as much as the first time although they give you way too much food so we were stuffed.
San Juan - Day 10 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12951-d77e04/EOS_111107_CC10.pdf We weren't sure if we would get off the ship today but found that the ship docked near downtown Old San Juan rather than the port you disembark from if you leave your trip from San Juan so we decided to get off and walk around a bit. There was lots of shopping and many high end outlet stores (Coach, Dooney & Burke, Polo, etc.). Don't miss Senor Frogs either for a yard of margarita and a little party atmosphere. What a fun place! You need to be back on the ship by 1:00 so there is not much time in San Juan. The best show on the cruise was tonight - The Quest. I will not share many details since it is much more fun if you are surprised. All I will say is Allan is a hoot!
At Sea - Day 11 Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12952-a44dd9/EOS_111107_CC11.pdf The usual pool activities (sexy legs contest), blackjack tournaments and Bingo filled the day. The weather was warm but it was very windy so we sat up at the pool in shorts and Tshirts. The 3rd formal night was tonight as well as a new show "Invitation to Dance" which is choreographed by Louis Van Amstel of "Dancing with the Stars". Several couples were chosen from cruise passengers earlier in the cruise and performed in addition to the RC singers and dancers so that we could choose a dance champion. We closed out the night with a wild night of dancing in the Chamber and enjoyed an extra hour of partying as we set our clocks back to align with NJ time.
At Sea - Day 12 - Thanksgiving! Compass - http://www.filebam.com/download/12953-11d053/EOS_111107_CC12.pdf This was our last day to enjoy the beautiful Explorer of the Seas. We spent part of the day at the pool but the afternoon got cool so we headed inside. We spent the day saying goodbye to all the friends we met from Cruise Critic and around the ship. We enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving tonight. We put our luggage out when we returned from dinner and the porter took it almost immediately.
Arrival in Cape Liberty - Day 13 When we awoke the ship was already in the port. As usual, we needed to vacate our room by 8 so we went to the Windjammer at 7:15 then headed back to the room to gather our carryon. We expected that the Windjammer to be chaos but it wasn't too bad back in the Island Grill. Lines for food weren't long but we waited a few minutes to find a table. We went to Studio B to wait for our color (Green) to be called. They began calling colors at 9:10 and Green was called about 10:40. When we arrived back at the terminal our luggage hadn't yet been removed from the ship so we waited about ½ hour for luggage prior to clearing customs and finding our car service. All in all disembarkment was very smooth!