Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by bloodman: See the USA!
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See the USA!
Fourth cruise and second on RC. Port Liberty is somewhat depressed but the on-boarding was efficient. We left our cars there with no difficulty on return. There were 13 in our party from 6 to 72. 5 teenagers. Our rooms were adjacent with the exception of two of the teenagers, but this did not prove to be a problem. We ate together each evening at the 6pm seating and everyone looked forward to it.
First stop was New London, a town in the process of remaking itself. While somewhat depressed, they rolled out the stops to welcome us and the people were very friendly. We ended up taking a local tour with "Bud". We were the only ones on the bus and received virtually a private tour. We watched a colonial magician perform, toured the revolutionary fort, and met with veterans at the Submarine Memorial. One veteran was a survivor of the Perch, the first submarine sunk in WW II by Japan. He kept the teenagers engaged with his story. Turned out the be one of the best 4th of July we More ever had.
Next stop was Halifax. Had no idea it was so closely linked to the Titanic. We rented a private car and visited Peggy's Cove, a graveyard with Titanic passengers, and the fort. In this case, we felt we would have done better with just a local tour. The ride to Peggy's Cove was over an hour. There was more to see in the city itself.
At St. Johns we took our first excursion on the Moosehead tour. We expected to visit the brewery, but ended up with a quick stop at the reversing falls, then on to an Irish pub where beer samples were served. Sort of a let down and not much else to see in the city.
Bar Harbor was one of the favorite stops. Beautiful scenery great shops and lots to do and see. Everyone enjoyed themselves here.
Portland was also a favorite. We took the excursion out to the LL Bean discount shops and quickly overwhelmed the town. The shop keepers were all very pleasant and again, everyone in the group had a great time.
Finally we visited Boston. This was one place I wish we could have spent more time at. At lot to see and do. Again, the people were extremely pleasant and happy to see us. We did a walking tour then visited the aquarium with the younger kids.
The accommodations were fine. Rooms were large enough and cleaned well as were the public areas of the ship. Everyone went their own way on board, with some seeing the shows, playing bingo, basketball, rock climbing, skating and shopping. The ship offers something for all ages. Several of the females went to the spa. The crew were polite and courteous. Sometimes lines formed at the front desk, but they would bring out extra staff to shorten the wait. The online billing system worked well, and it meant you could check your folio daily so there were no surprises at the end of the trip. Some outside evening events had to be canceled because of the weather, but there was always something else to do. There were two days at sea and neither was boring or uneventful.
Dining was fair to good. Some nights dinner was great; others just OK. They did better with the meat entrees. Shrimp was small and frozen, and you saw it on succeeding nights, first as an appetizer,then as a main course. The tilapia was also fair but the portions were huge. The teenagers often ordered two entrees. Service was good and spirited but sometimes they appeared overwhelmed. They do not use bus boys so occasionally water, drinks and clearing took some time. The Windjammer was fine when we ate there occasionally. The Bistro on the Promenade ended up being our favorite place for lunch; they served small sandwiches and pastries which were delicious.
I understand why they provide the gratuities at the end, but I would prefer to include it in cruise price; it adds a significant amount to your last day charges.
Everyone on this cruise had a great time. We often went our own way and would see each other at dinner to catch up with the day's activities. We are already planning our next cruise. Less
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