Our late Jan 2008 cruise on Explorer of the Seas was an excellent vacation. We've cruised twice before out of Fort Lauderdale on RCCL and Celebrity. Cruising out of Cape Liberty was a great option to avoid the hassle of flying!
Travel to port: We drove 4.5 hours from Northern Virginia and arrived at Cape Liberty at 10:30. Google Map directions were helpful as signage to the terminal is limited. Cape Liberty should improve this as they complete their development. The terminal was empty and we drove right up to the luggage drop off point. Long term parking was only 50 yards away, so a very short walk into the waiting area. Bring cash to pay your parking bill. We didn't board a shuttle bus until 1:00. We later found out boarding was delayed as US Customs arrested a disembarking passenger for outstanding warrants.
Explorer of the Seas is in excellent condition. Public areas were clean, carpet was new and overall service was excellent. There were 3428 passengers on our cruise but it never felt as though that many people were on board. There was a Ladbroke Poker Tour on this cruise so two-thirds of the ship were Europeans. We stay away from the outside pool and found it easy to find private space & open deck chairs. Best areas for privacy were the the back of the ship on deck 11 or on deck 4.
Explorer's inside cabins are a wee bit smaller than our inside cabin on Jewel of the Seas. Our cabin stewart, waiter and assistant waiter provided outstanding service throughout the cruise.
Food: The Windjammer provided good food throughout the cruise. We ate breakfast and lunch there each day. We ate dinner every night in the dining room. Our waiter and assistant waiter quickly learn our preferences and met our expectations each night. The dining room food was excellent. The fish, chicken and pasta dishes were excellent. Desserts were fabulous.
Entertainment: We attended every show in the main theater. The comics were excellent. RCCL Singer and Dancers did a good job. The Ice Show is not to be missed. It is amazing what they can do in a such a small area.
Disembarkation: We used expressed check out and carried our own bags. Explorer arrived against the dock at 7:00 a.m. and we were in the first 30 people off the ship at 7:30. Customs took about 15 minutes and we were on the Jersey Turnpike at 8:15.
Overall impression: Great job once again RCCL. If you're within driving distance of Cape Liberty it is well worth cruising out of New Jersey.