We had been chatting with our M&M Explorer group for almost a year. I just want to say they were a great group of people and they made this the best cruise so far us.
We left our home in central NJ on Sunday, 18 Mar 08 at noontime and were at the port in 40 minutes. We checked our luggage immediately and got into the long line into the building. Once we got through security, our special boarding area (we're Diamond this cruise)went very quickly and we were on the ship by 1pm. We went to our JS (hump cabin) to drop off our carryon items and inspect our cabin. We had the same exact cabin on the Adventure of the Seas last April 07 and loved the center hump. We had a bite at the Windjammer, made our spa appointments and then met our group at 2pm in Schooner Bar for a unofficial M&M. We had early seating and sat with a group from our M&M. Our waitstaff was wonderful but we were a little disappointed because we had requested a certain waiter we knew but didn't get him. We did get to see him during the cruise though.
17 Mar 08 - first sea day. It was a little rocky and too cold/windy to be outside on deck. This was a strange for me because I'm so used to being outside on sea days. I don't think they had enough things to do during the day on sea days. Too many demonstrations for the spa and other type of things. I would have preferred learning how to do something (i.e. watercolor painting, etc.) This was the first formal night and St Patricks day. The ship was decorated in green and shamrocks everywhere. Very nice. NO cornbeef and cabbage for dinner, just the usual fare. The production show "Fast Forward" was excellent.
18 Mar 08 - second sea day. The weather warmed up but you still needed a sweatshirt. Lots of people got sunburned because they didn't realize the sun was strong due to the high winds. We sat up on deck 12 chatting and enjoying the fresh air. Usual dinner (didn't really enjoy the food this cruise) but then again I don't eat fish and most beef, so there wasn't enough choices for picky me. LOL
19 Mar 08 - St Maarten Day! We got into St Maarten about 2:30 but couldn't get off the ship until almost 4pm. We were scheduled to be there from 3-11pm. Not great times and I think they need to rethink that first day schedule. Due to time constraints, we only went into town and did some shopping. I got a great deal on a digital camera and watch, then we went back to the ship. Some friends went to Maho Beach and watched the planes come in. We were hit with some turbulent seas and the waves were pretty high here and then couple of islands. More about that later.
20 Mar 08 - Antigua Day! We booked a group excursion to Pineapple Beach Resort, well worth the money. You got full use of their facilities; lunch, drinks, pool and beach area. It was gorgeous there too. The seas were pretty rough also.
21 Mar 08 - St Lucia Day! Couldn't get to Dominica because of high seas and they rerouted us there. Unfortunately it was Good Friday and most shops were closed and the weather was rainy.
22 Mar 08 - St Kitt Day! We booked a group tour again to see the island since we've never been there. We went to see the fort, saw island highlights and ended up at a lagoon area with music, food and drinks. St Kitts is absolutely beautiful with it's mountains, clear blue waters, green lush areas.
23 Mar 08 - Barbados Day! We wanted to go to Malibu Beach Resort but it was closed. We went to Blue Monkey Beach which ended up being a highlight from the cruise. No fee to get on the beach. It was $5 to rent a lounge chair and umbrella for the day. They had water activities. My DD went a jetski with a friend for $30 for 30 minutes. There was changing facilities, bathrooms and a restaurant near by with great food (a little pricey but not bad). There were locals selling jewelry etc. but they weren't obnoxious about it at all. We learned fast to buy bottled water, soda and local beers from the locals on the beach with coolers, much cheaper than the restaurant and just as good.
24 Mar 08 - St Thomas Day! We went to a local jewelry store near the port that we love. I upgrade my diamond solitaire earrings I had bought last year and bought a pink sapphire/opal ring. We booked the Megan's Bay excursion through the ship and loved it there. It was an overcast day but still very warm. You can rent a lounge chair for $6. The restaurant and bar were great and reasonably priced. On our way back to the ship, we stopped and did the skyride to the top of the mountain. Of all the times we've been to St Thomas, we've never done that. Great view of the ships in Port.
25 Mar 08 - San Juan, PR Day! We were only in Port from 7am-1:30pm, not conducive to do much. We've vacationed in PR several times and opted to meet some local friends for shopping and lunch. My DD's favorite stop is the Coach outlet, which she got a new purse and matching wallet. The weather was overcast, humid and some rain.
26-27 Mar 08 - Sea days, very windy, not enough to do during the day but nice weather. We ate at Johnny Rockets the last day, always a great burger!
Cabin Steward - he was as usual great and very accommodating. Our stateroom was always clean and bright every day.
Concierge Service - this was our first cruise as Diamond members and loved having the lounge to grab breakfast in the mornings and ginger or drinks with appetizers at night.
Waitstaff - Being that it was a 12 night cruise, we didn't eat in the dinning room every night. Food was good not great, too many fish dishes for me. But the staff was wonderful. Would have like more pasta dishes and soup choices.
Teen Activities - my DD is 15 and had a great time in Optix and with the activities. The counselors were great according to her. She met a wonderful bunch of kids.
Entertainment - The two production shows were wonderful. We had two ice shows, I preferred the second show to the first (Blades vs. Spirits of Season I believe). DD loved the open ice skating every day. The comedians were pretty good. Matt Yee was pretty funny but once you've seen one show, no need to go back again. He was in the Schooner Bar after 10pm.
All in all a wonderful cruise, loved the Explorer and would sail her again in the future. Especially since it's based in our state. What made this cruise the best for me, was already having a wonderful group of friends to hang out with that we met online. I was so grateful for them! If you have any specific, you are more than welcome to email me.