Took the 9 Nighter Bermuda/Caribbean Cruise on Explorer out of Bayonne on June 5th. All we can say it...gotta do it again! This was our 3rd cruise on this ship and itinerary and we love it. It was just the 2 of us. We had a balcony room #9644 aft, if you are undecided about the extra cost of a balcony, just do it anyway. It is vacation! Great to sit out there anytime of day or night and enjoy the water/sights and drinks.
Getting on the ship was the easiest this time. We arrived at noon and there was NO ONE in ANY line. We walked right up to the counter, and by 12:35 was in the Windjammer having lunch. Could not believe how fast it was. Rooms were ready at 1 as promised. Ship is still gorgeous, and really easy to get around. LOTS of art work and curios all over the ship on every floor. If you have time, its great to walk the hallways and try to see how many things are there.
Deck 12 forward was the place for sailaway if you want the best view of the Verazanno bridge. Drink prices were very reasonable at $4.89 for a heineken, this included the 15% tip and tax. No complaints there! Other drinks were also reasonable as bourbon on the rocks was $6.25.
The food was very good again, however, this is always a subjective topic. I have a limited diet and I always found something to eat every night, and my wife looks forward to trying new things each cruise, so she was not disappointed either. The ship is still in excellent shape for her age. If you look really hard you can see things are slowly starting to wear, but if you are doing this on a cruise, then you picked the wrong vacation! Excellent staff and waiters/waitresses who really are to be commended for their professionalism and friendliness. They will remember you after your 1st introduction.
Ports were excellent! Bermuda was first stop. Buy the all day bus/ferry ticket so you can get around all day. Thing to watch out for is hours of operation. The ferries run on the half hour during the week back and forth from dockside to Hamilton, so don't get there at 11:15 or you will wait 15 minutes! Went to the Hog Penny Inn for lunch which is a great old pub with great seafood and burgers. Nothing in Bermuda is cheap, but it is a fun place to visit. We would up taking a taxi to Horseshoe Bay. Water was 75 degrees so it was chilly, but the beach was beautiful. The taxi driver was friendly and courteous. He stayed while we enjoyed the beach so we had a ride back. There are plenty of taxi's there and I recommend doing that as the buses may take more time to get you back to the dock. It cost $26.50 each way.
St.Maarten is our favorite port and we went on an excursion to Orient Beach which is just gorgeous. Yes, you may see 1 or 2 topless women walk across the beach. Great shopping in this port. We had spoken to Allan, the shopping expert on the ship, prior to going ashore and got his VIP card. This saved me at least $2000!!! THANK YOU ALLAN if you are reading this! (It was the tanzanite and diamond necklace). Luckily for us, Allan was also in the store( Diamonds Intl) at the same time!. Can't say enough about how important it is to talk to him prior to doing shopping in every port.
St.Thomas was a ferry trip/excursion to St.John. This is truly an awesome beach also. Cleanest water of all the islands on the trip. Beautiful scenery and excellent snorkeling. Would recommend this over Megan's Bay, however, Megan's is a must see if you have not as yet. Found the prices better this time in St. Maarten, but a ton of shops in St. Thomas. You want something? They will have it.
San Juan is a short stop. However, you can walk Old San Juan yourself. If you take a tour with a bus at the port for $10, it takes you all over. This was a great way to see the sights. Then a cab to Ashford Ave for some high end shopping, then a stop at Senor Frogs for a few drinks and lunch before we leave. This place gets busy with a ship in port and you will see alot of your fellow passengers here enjoying themselves. This is a family type rest/bar, and they will do things for kids if there are enough of them.
We had medical emergencies at each port, so we left late from each one! This was also a Harley cruise which was alot of fun to watch! They were great people! The captain was moving and you could feel the boat more than usual, but nothing dangerous. One person who had a problem in PR was nice enough to commend the captain and crew for their help and expertise in handling his emergency, which they were very happy to hear.
Only drawbacks were Portofino's service, which was eventually properly handled by the Maitre'D. Also, ask questions about what is added to your entree, not all ingredients are listed! Disembarkment is a killer!!! There are 12 groups of express walk-off , so be prepared to sit if you do not choose this option. If you have to catch a connection, this is what you will have to do, or go to guest relations and change your color for your luggage. Excellent cruise all around, and would go again tomorrow!! Royal Caribbean really provides a wonderful vacation so go enjoy!!!