Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by NY.DR1692: Woot! Amazing!
Overall Member Rating
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
We were a group of 24 including about ten kids from 6 through 15.
Everyone arrived at the pier around 1:30 P.M., which is "rush hour". Expect traffic and a bit of a wait to drop off your luggage. Parking for the five nights was $80.00. After that, embarkation was painless and we were on board and in the Windjammer thirty minutes after entering the terminal. Guests arriving earlier and later can avoid the traffic.
Port Liberty is convenient for us and must be for others as well - we were told that RC will be building a dedicated terminal in Bayonne to replace the makeshift arrangement now in place.
This was our second cruise as a group - the first being on Sovereign. We enjoyed SOS enough to book this cruise - but comparing the two is apples-to-oranges.
I was worried that sailing with 3200 people would be stifling, but the ship was large enough that we rarely felt crowded. Again, at "rush hour" on embarkation day, it was difficult to find a table More in the Windjammer, but we did, and after lunch, proceeded to tour the ship.
The weather was not great for this particular cruise - 40 mph winds and 12 foot seas kept the pool deck from being crowded. At points, the pools were closed with water sloshing about like an open container of coffee on your morning drive.
Service was exceptional, our waiter, Kotze was a pro and knew how to make sure we received our food in a timely fashion. Our room steward Nicolai, was friendly and efficient, as was everyone - we could not walk along a deck without a cheerful greeting and smile. The ship was clean and well maintained. The only complaint is that our cabin (center row inside) was close to some sort of service area and I was awakened at 5:00 AM to the sound of housekeeping carts rolling across the floor. The good part is that I was able to get a wi-fi signal in the room.
A couple of Bermuda tips:
We walked a half-mile to Snorkel Beach; while small, it was very convenient and allowed a return to the ship for lunch. The downside is that the concession stands and restaurant are ridiculously expensive. BYO snorkel gear and pack a beverage. It was $10. to rent a mask and tube, another $10 for fins and - here's the kicker: $24. for two frozen drinks. That is not a typo. They get $12. for a frozen drink in a cheap plastic "souvenir" glass.
Also at the dockyards is a museum co-located with the dolphin experience. The museum was $30. for the family and included access to the dolphin area - all very worthwhile.
We purchased transportation passes for $60. (2 adults + 2 children) assuming we would be seeing a lot of the island, but wound up only making one trip to Hamilton. Unless you know you are going to make several trips, individual fares are the way to go.
Dinners were very good. Well prepared, nicely presented and promptly served. On the SOS, the dining room seemed stressed by comparison. Everyone in our group was complementary of the food and service.
As this was not a school break week, there were relatively few children on board, something like 190 vs. a more typical 800. As a result, our group had lots of room and attention from the AO staff. They all had fun and were always eager to go back There were a lot of teens on board, mostly well behaved and most seemed to enjoy the teen club.
As others have mentioned, the Ice show is not to be missed. Also fun are the promenade events. This ship has so much to do, that even when the pools were closed, it never felt crowded.
Disembarking was painless as well - we were the 4th group called, and were on the turnpike by 10:00 AM. Less
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