We had another wonderful cruise on the Explorer but it flew by too fast this time and could use another one! Live posts from onboard and many pics are posted on the All Things Explorer thread so you can read and see many pictures there also from this cruise.
Arrived in port about 1:30, no traffic, DH parked car and we went right thru priority check in and out the door and on the bus and were on the ship a few minutes later. Dropped off our carry ons and went to the Windjammer for lunch and bought my soda card. By the time we came back down our luggage was waiting and we were unpacked before Muster. I want to just note for anyone that may be reading this that has mobility issues as I'm asked questions about this many times, you can ask a porter for a wheelchair when you arrive in port, a port employee will get you one and escort you and your party thru check in and help you on the bus and you will be met by a crew member with another wheelchair that will take you right to your cabin. Wheelchairs are no cost on the Ex. You may also call RCCL before your cruise and ask to speak to the special needs Dept to arrange to rent a scooter that will be waiting for you onboard. Costs are based on length of cruise, passenger size, etc. Many people use them on the Ex. and they are specially designed so they fit thru all cabin doors so you do not need to have an accessible cabin to use one from the ship. The RCCL special needs dept can answer all your questions also. We did our muster drill in the dining room as that is the section our JS's are always in so that's easy.
Our table was in the Magellan right in front of the staircase and our waiters were excellent although we do not dine in the dining room very much as we prefer to switch back and forth to Portofino and the Windjammer in the evening so we do dine at different places each night and we enjoy doing that and my dining rating is based on the fact that we do enjoy the food in other places beside the dining room. Portofino was excellent as always and service was outstanding and flawless as always by our favorite waitress Jody assisted by Sedar. DH likes everything on the menu especially the skewer dish and I enjoy the filet. I can't say enough good things about Dejon the Maitre'd at Portofino as he is just wonderful to us and it's always a pleasure to see him as it is Dominique the Dining Room Manager. Both men do an outstanding job of providing the best possible dining experience for all passengers.
We met some wonderful CC people from the 4/25 on this cruise and we really enjoyed meeting the members of the motorcycle group that was part of our 4/25 roll call also. I have to say that all our cruises have been enhanced by the great people we come to know on the CC roll calls and it's always fun to meet them in person when on the ship! Thank you CC for that wonderful opportunity!
Weather- well we think it was perfect! Definitely our smoothest cruise to date. Unfortunately we did have a medical evac and missed Bermuda but Captain Erik gave us a absolutely perfect sea day instead and it was a sea of glass that day! For the first time we enjoyed some time at the bow just basking in the sun.
Our cabin was JS 1638 and it was in very good condition. Our steward was Winston Campbell who was wonderful and we never had to ask for a thing and he really kept our cabin immaculate. They do have new guest books which look like brochures and they are nice and easy to use for info.
Windjammer- we never had a problem getting a table for lunch this time. Waiters cleared tables quickly and would politely ask you when you were done eating if there was anything else they could get for you. A subtle but effective hint to let someone else have a table and it worked very well so that was a pleasure. A change in the Windjammer is the large oval plates are gone and replaced with smaller round ones. In the evening the Asian dishes were excellent and I love the sweet and sour chicken where DH enjoys the fresh stir frys and fish dishes.
Johnny Rockets- What can I say? A million calories and very very tasty! LOL Dining room menus- we do have new menus with much the same remaining with some new dishes added. I had the prime rib the first night and it was very good. CL- a wonderful place to meet friends in the morning and in the evening and Ricky is the best concierge! We did not go to the Windjammer for breakfast on this cruise but opted for a light breakfast in the CL in the mornings and chatted with friends. The overflow lounge was Cloud Nine on this cruise. Dizzy's is my favorite late night spot! Great guitar player and other musicians on this cruise and we were also there for part of sailaway just enjoying the views of the harbor. Then we went down to our balcony and watched the rest of sailaway from NYC as we are on port side so great views sailing out.
St. Maarten- This time we hit the Carnival which is a massive island celebration that spans over several days. To learn more about it just put St. Maarten Carnival in search and the website comes up. We took the water taxi over to Great Bay Beach and enjoyed a great beach day and then walked over in the later afternoon to watch the parade. Shops closed at 2pm and the sidewalks were roped off from the parade route and it was just packed with spectators. Fantastic costumes and music and it was really something to see! We did not watch it until the end though and headed off to the water Taxi to go back to the ship about 430pm.
St. Thomas was another great weather day and we decided to shop in Havensight and visit our favorite stores the Crystal Shoppe and the Bernard Passman Gallery. Morning star is our favorite beach in St. Thomas but DH had a sunburn from our long beach day in St. Maarten so skipped it this time but will be back in Dec.!
San Juan is a ship day for us and we are only there about 1/2 a day so we relaxed and enjoyed the pool on the ship.
The casino was kind to us this time although it did take most back before the cruise ended but we did manage to bring some winnings back home with us! Our fuel charge we had paid in Feb. was refunded in OBC also as we booked this cruise at least a year before the fuel charge was announced. Our new C & A gifts are ball caps with the C & A logo so they were a nice change from the tote bags we had received all last year!
They offered the Express Walk off on this cruise which they started on the 12/14 so I watched the passengers get off from outside on deck 4. I have to say this seemed to work at very well for everyone. As second off after Express Walk off we did not have to fight our way thru the crowd to get off and the stairs were not jammed with people worried about missing flights so in my opinion this program works very well for the Explorer. Details of the program are posted on the Explorer thread from my Compass.
The Ice show was spectacular as always. I never get tired of seeing Spirits of the Seasons as the costumes and settings are beautiful and we really enjoy the ice show. We caught the Love and Marriage show on RCCL tv and it was hysterical as always. Invitation to Dance remains very popular to see on the Explorer! We enjoyed many walks on the outside decks on this cruise and of course a few rounds of mini golf! This cruise was about pure relaxation for us and we loved every minute of it. Another change on the Ex. is what we called the 10.00 store is no longer. Instead the higher end area has taken over the entire space. The items that used to be offered in the 10.00 store now appear in sales on the promenade for 15.00 an item now such as the beaded evening bags, shawls, etc.
The ship is in very god condition and is constantly being maintained which is a difficult thing to do when at sea 24/7 and we often experience rough seas out of NY and this was the Explorer's first winter in the northeast so we were pleased to see she weathered her first cold winter well. We enjoyed dinner with Captain Erik on the first formal night and also a bridge and galley tour on our last sea day. Our next cruise on the Explorer will be in Sept. for the new Canada itinerary that we are looking forward to so watch for the Live posts for that one on the Explorer thread as usual. In summary we had a wonderful time as always aboard the Explorer and we really do love this ship and the crew is fantastic!