September 2008 - Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - Bermuda Cruise - Noreen & Paul
WHO ARE WE?
Noreen - 40 years old; First Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report. Paul - my husband; 40 years old; former small Business Owner
My husband Paul and I went on our first cruise in May 2003 on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. Prior to that, I was leery of cruises thinking I'd feel trapped on a boat and bored. I love to be busy all day and our trip on Voyager proved that there are tons of things to do on a cruise. We booked a balcony cabin for that cruise and upgraded at the pier to the owner's suite. We had a great time and decided we definitely want to cruise again. In October 2003 Paul and I went on our second cruise on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas. Once again, we had a great time and confirmed that we enjoyed cruising.
bought a small business in early 2005. He worked 7 days a week and wasn't able to take any time off. He did not want me to miss out on taking vacations so I spent several vacations in 2005 going to Disney World with various friends and family members.
In 2006 my friend Cathy and I cruised on the Mariner of the Seas In March 2006 and the Enchantment of the Seas in September 2006. Paul and I cruised on the Explorer of the Seas in August 2006 and really liked the ease of cruising out of Bayonne NJ and not having to fly.
Paul sold the business in 2007 so he has a life again.
Paul and I cruised on the Explorer of the Seas in February 2008 on the 12 night Southern Caribbean cruise. We celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary in February 2008. We had a Junior Suite for this cruise since it was longer and I thought the walk in closet would come in handy with how much I over pack.
We both turned 40 in 2008. We've been saying we want to go away and be somewhere fun on our actual birthdays when we turn 40. My birthday is in April and Paul's is in June (yes I'm 8 weeks older than him). Disney World has been my favorite vacation spot for years so we spent my 40th there. If I could do an Alaska cruise for my birthday I would, but unfortunately, that won't happen in April as it isn't the right season. Paul has been talking about how much he enjoyed the cruise that we drove to and not having to fly.
For Paul's 40th birthday we cruised on the 9 night Explorer of the Seas cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean. I was able to book the much-coveted cabin #1688 (an aft corner balcony).
We wanted to do another trip during September and tossed around some ideas of where to go. Since we enjoy being able to get on a cruise ship without flying, we looked at the shorter 5 night to Bermuda cruise. Also, this cruise will get us to Diamond level in the crown and anchor society. On April 28, 2007 I booked the September 20, 2008 5 night cruise to Bermuda on the Explorer of the Seas. I went with a Promenade cabin this time. I had one on the Mariner and liked it. Paul likes to have a balcony but for a shorter cruise I figured he can try the promenade. Being so early, I was able to pick which cabin I wanted. I called up and had the brochure with the deck plans in front of me. I chose cabin 8293 only because it was in the center so we can see what goes on on the promenade and it wasn't directly above the bar. It was $649 per person and only required a $100 per person deposit. Being September and hurricane season I'll keep an eye out for price drops as it gets closer.
On October 2, 2007 I saw there were Crown and Anchor Member certificates and this cruise showed up as having a certificate ($150 off oceanview and higher and $75 off inside). Since we booked a promenade we should be eligible for the $75 off. Unfortunately, the website was having technical difficulties and I couldn't print out the member certificate to fax in. On October 4, 2007 the certificates were available; I printed it, and faxed it in. I guess I'll check the website in a few days and see if the $75 came off. I checked several times and it hasn't come off. I called C&A who said that the group that does the savings certificates is very backlogged and it may take a while. She also suggested emailing the code in so I did that too. On 10/22/07 I was doing my normal check in the morning and I couldn't get into the reservation and the error said it's being updated. I tried again a ½ hour later and the $75 savings certificate has been applied.
On July 31, 2008 during my normal check of the prices, I saw that there was a Balcony Guarantee for $749 per person. Knowing that we would get the $50 Platinum Balcony Discount and hoping the Crown and Anchor coupon would be upgraded to the $150 off since it's now a balcony; it would only cost us an additional $75 for the two of us to upgrade (we already have $75 from the coupon off for the promenade room).
When I first called the regular Royal Caribbean reservation number, and asked them about the coupon upgrade, they transferred me to Crown and Anchor. I spoke with a woman named Charlene and she was so nice and helpful. It worked out exactly as expected. She was able to apply the upgraded coupon and the Platinum balcony discount and I owed $75. Paul is thrilled since he likes to have at least a balcony room. Since this is a guarantee I'm anxious to see where they place us.
On August 1, 2008 I was checking my reservation to see if we have been assigned a room yet and we were - #8242, an E1, 8th floor towards the front. Not bad.
The Explorer Itinerary is as follows: Saturday 9/20/08 - Leave from Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne New Jersey Sunday 9/21/08 - At Sea Monday 9/22/08 - Bermuda Tuesday 9/23/08 - Bermuda Wednesday 9/24/08 - At Sea Thursday 9/25/08 - Return to Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne New Jersey
The 5 night cruises used to be Sunday - Friday when the 9 nights were Friday - Sunday. At some point it switched because our 9 night in June was Thursday - Saturday and this 5 night is Saturday - Thursday.
Transportation We live Northern New Jersey (Bergen County) so can just drive down to Bayonne for the cruise and park at the pier.
We will probably rent a moped/scooter to be able to get around easily. We rented one on the June cruise where we spent one day in Bermuda and enjoyed the flexibility/convenience.
DAY BY DAY
The week before our trip
I did some packing the weekend before the cruise expecting to be busy at work and not wanting to leave it until the last minute.
We have a doggie door for our dog Kiki. She is able to go out onto the deck whenever she wants to get some fresh air, run around, and go to the bathroom if she needs to. We walk her regularly but if she has to go at another time, she has the flexibility with the doggie door. Our landscaper has left the gate to the deck open a few times and Kiki has gotten out. Whenever this has happened in the past she usually ended up at a neighbor's house and we would get her there. I think some neighborhood kids also come up on the deck to play with Kiki and maybe don't do the best job locking the gate when they leave. One day she got out and after running around a bit, walked over to a neighbor's house that opened the door when she heard a noise, Kiki walked in, sat down and lifted her head. I like to think she lifted her head to tell the neighbor "look at my tags, I'm lost, can you call my mommy and daddy?" However, I realize she may just be lifting her head because a person is taller than her. This nice woman called us and we were able to pick Kiki up at her house. I think it is so nice that our neighbors have been so caring and looking out for Kiki when she has gotten loose. I spend a lot of money at Godiva buying the neighbors thank you gifts when this happens.
Unfortunately, she got out again and this time wandered to another neighbor's house that is afraid of dogs. She stood by the door, the woman opened it and Kiki walked in. Instead of this woman checking her tags to see where she belongs, she was scared and called the police. The police picked up Kiki and brought her to our town's Borough Hall. We received messages at home from Borough Hall that Kiki was there. Unfortunately, we were both at work and didn't get the message until we called our machine a little after 5. Borough Hall closed at 5, so they called the Bergen County Animal Shelter who picked up Kiki. They also came by our house with her to see if we were home as well as called us (at home). The shelter closed at 5 for the evening too so when I got the messages from both Borough Hall and the Animal Shelter they were both closed. Poor Kiki had to spend the night at the Animal Shelter. I pass the shelter on my way home from work so stopped by but they were locked up tight. A woman who was delivering a stray drove up and I told her about the messages I received that Kiki was there. She apologized that everything was locked up and she couldn't get Kiki for me, but that they would take good care of her overnight. They would give her food, water, a blanket and take care of her. She did help put it in perspective when she said that I should be happy that the call I received was that Kiki got lost and was here; she said they often have to make calls that dogs have gotten out and hit by a car. It was the strangest night not having Kiki with us for dinner, when we went to sleep, not taking her for a walk. I was so worried about her. She's never been in a kennel. I was worried that she would feel like we abandoned her.
My husband picked her up the next day as soon as they opened. He needed to show all sorts of identification that he actually was her daddy. She was thrilled to see him and happy to be home. She has been acting a little odd since she got home. I think she must have been traumatized by that experience because she hasn't wanted to go out on the deck at all and even taking her for a walk, she was happy to get back and stay inside.
We were worried about leaving her for our cruise. We normally have our dog sitter come once a day and spend a few hours since Kiki always had the doggy door to go out. She also nibbles at her dog food and water so it can be filled up and she'll eat and drink throughout the day. We were thinking of shutting the doggy door completely and having the dog sitter come a few times a day. But we really didn't like that option. So Paul (my husband) made a blockade so she can only go to a portion of the deck. We also told the landscapers not to come for the week we are gone. We are thinking of looking into an electric fence so we'll have better peace of mind and can give her access to the full deck again.
The day before our trip - Friday 9/19/08
I went to work and expected to be there later than usual since I would be out the following week. It wasn't too bad. I stayed a little later but not too late.
I went home and did a bit more packing. We spent some time playing with Kiki.
Saturday 9/20/08 - Embark
It is so convenient to leave out of Bayonne. I took Kiki for a walk, did some laundry and finished packing.
We left the house about 1pm and realized as we were getting into the car that I didn't have the directions to the pier. I easily could have run back in the house to get them, but Paul said he's pretty sure he remembers where it is.
We drove South on the NJ Turnpike and didn't remember which exit to get off. We tried exit 12 but that definitely did not look right (we went too far). So we got back on and tried exit 13. This time at least we asked - nope it's 14A so back on the Turnpike we go. Once we got off at the correct exit, it was easy to find. We remembered that it was easy and right off the Turnpike provided you get off at the correct exit.
This is an interesting tidbit...Driving South on the Turnpike from our house, there is no sign that says 14A-Bayonne; however, when we missed the exit and turned around, and were coming North, there were signs that said 14A-Bayonne. If we had seen a sign like that originally we would have gotten off at the right exit.
We arrived at the pier around 2:15. We gave our two checked suitcases to the porter along with a $5 tip, and then I waited with the carry on bags while Paul went to park.
Once Paul returned we quickly went through security and to the Diamond/Platinum/Suite check in area - we were the only ones there. A quick check in, boarding photo, Seapass photo and then onto the waiting shuttle and onto the ship. This was so quick and easy. I don't know why people complain about boarding in Bayonne. This is the 4th time we've been on the Explorer out of Bayonne and it has always been easy.
We went to drop our carry on bags in the cabin. We are in a balcony room - #8242. It is right near the forward elevators. Upon entering, Paul commented on how small it is. By comparison to our last two cruises this year on the Explorer - A Junior Suite for 12 nights in February and then the D1 Aft Corner Balcony #1688 for 9 nights in June; this room is small by comparison. But it's a standard balcony room and bigger than the promenade room we originally booked. Once we are settled in with everything put away it will be fine. Our Crown and Anchor coupon books were already on the desk.
We headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. Paul bought his soda card. I had a piece of Honey Stung Chicken and some pasta salad. We have early seating for dinner so I didn't want to eat too much. Paul had several pieces of the Honey Stung chicken and a few sides.
The chicken was very good. It's a shame it's only offered the first day. One thing Paul noticed is that some pieces were tastier than others.
We walked around outside for a bit and then through the promenade. We tried a tasting of one of the liquors. I think it was called Amarula. It reminded me of Baileys.
We stopped in the dining room to see where our table is located.
We went up to the cabin to get our life jackets for the muster drill at 4:30. We arrived right at 4:30 and were in the front row. Many people were late so it started late. Once it started, it was pretty quick. The captain announced that due to a coast guard inspection we would be leaving about 45 minutes late.
After muster we went back to the cabin to drop off the life preservers. One of our suitcases arrived so I started unpacking to get things organized. Paul helped put the items from his carryon into neat piles so I could put it away, then he went onto the balcony. He offered to help, but I like to unpack and figure out where to put things and it's easier without him in the middle of the room. It's an odd routine we have but I like to put things away on vacation and then show him where everything is.
Our room steward knocked on the door to introduce herself. This is the first time we had a woman room steward. We asked her to empty the mini bar since we brought on some bottled water and cans of soda. Our second suitcase was here too so we brought that in. I finished unpacking and we put the suitcases under the bed. The room looks much better with everything put away.
I jumped in a quick shower before dinner. Did they change the showers? The water pressure seemed stronger than our last cruise. I was very happy about this change.
It was just about 6pm and we still didn't leave Bayonne. We were still tied up to the dock. Paul was watching the goings on on the pier since our balcony faced that way. Unfortunately, there wasn't much happening.
We went to dinner and are at a table for 8. Two older couples were already there. When we arrived, one of the guys said to us "You are at the old folks table." We introduced ourselves and what was funny was all the girls ended in "een". There was me (Noreen), one lady was Maureen and the other was Arlene. The 4th couple arrived, also older than us, but she wasn't an "een" - her name is Marybeth. The men are George, Ron, and Rich along with Paul (my husband).
Our waitress introduced herself, Cherry, and her assistant was Mervin. This was the first time we had a female waiter. We've had a female assistant before.
We started sailing while we were eating dinner.
We had the following for dinner: Appetizers: I had the fruit medley - pineapple, strawberry, and kiwi. This was very light and refreshing. Paul had the hot & sour shrimp soup and the Caesar salad. Entrees: I had the shrimp ravioli; Paul had the prime rib. My ravioli was not very good; they were way too salty. I think it was the sauce on them. Cherry offered to bring me something else but I didn't want a whole other meal. I had a bite or two of Paul's prime rib. Desserts: I had the strawberry pavolva. Paul had lemon sherbet. My strawberry pavolova was just so so.
Before ordering dessert Paul went to get Ice Show tickets and buy cigarettes.
After dinner we went to the Welcome Aboard Show. There is only one show tonight for all so it was standing room only at 7:50 when we arrived. The show started at 7:45. Paul said he would meet me in the casino. I stayed to watch the show. Mike Hunnerup is the cruise director. Billy Garan, a comedian performed. He had a few funny parts to his act, but I wasn't laughing out loud throughout his show.
After the show I met Paul in the casino and we played some slots. The 5 cent Fortune Cookie machine wasn't on. That is usually the first machine I like to play. But I played twenty five cent Double Double Bonus Poker instead. I hit 4 Kings with 4 quarters bet and won 200 quarters. A little later hit 4 Queens with 4 quarters bet and won another 200 quarters. Other than those two good hands, I didn't get too many winning hands. I played for a long time, but ended up losing $40 for the night.
We stopped at the promenade cafe for pizza since I was hungry. After a snack the promenade was getting crowded with people lining up to watch the parade.
We went up to the 8th deck and watched from one of the cutouts by the elevators. This is the firm time we were able to get one. We had it to ourselves and sat on the floor and made ourselves comfortable. The parade was cute and we were glad to watch without a mob around us.
I was tired so we went back to the cabin, but Paul wanted to play some poker so he went down to the casino. I had trouble sleeping and stayed up watching TV.
Sunday 9/21/08 - At Sea
The seas were a little rough. I took a Bonine before bed last night as a precaution and felt fine. We overheard many people complaining about the rocking.
We had breakfast in the Windjammer. I had a toasted bagel with peanut butter and jelly. Paul had a toasted bagel with lox and cream cheese.
After breakfast we stopped at the excursion desk to get information on the ferry/bus pass for Bermuda. We are planning to rent a scooter/moped but if it's raining we won't do that and will have to look into other options to get around. The line was pretty long. A lady ahead of me asked the woman working there when the ship will stop moving. The employee responded "When we get to Bermuda." The woman then asked when the rocking motion would stop. The woman working there said it's due to the seas but expects them to calm down by the evening. I was amused by the questions.
One of the women working there was totally clueless. I asked if she had the bus/ferry schedule and when she hands it to me, the other girls says it's not the right one and gave me a different one. Then I asked if the mopeds can go on the ferry to St George. We were thinking why not take the moped on the ferry to St George (furthest point on the island) and then work our way back. The both responded at once - one says "yes" and one says "no". The clueless girl who was helping me said the other girl knew more. I was a little annoyed that she was giving me wrong information. If you don't know the answer, just say so and ask someone else.
Outside on deck it was overcast. There were very few people in the pool or out on deck. The pool looked like a wave pool with water sloshing over either side.
We checked the arcade to see if they have the game that the son of friends of ours likes - Mario Cart. They had two of them, but both weren't working. We helped these friends plan a cruise that they just took in August 2008 on the Liberty of the Seas. They loved it and their son loved the Mario Cart game. As much as they loved the Liberty, they didn't love the hassle of flying to Miami to get to the ship and were thinking about leaving out of Bayonne next time. So we promised we would check for this game in the arcade.
We stopped by the spa and looked at the specials. We didn't book anything, we just looked. On our last cruise I did one of the sampler specials and really enjoyed it so we were thinking of maybe doing that again. With this cruise being shorter, we weren't sure when we would try to fit it in.
We did the "spin to win" in the casino with our coupons but didn't win anything. A woman was trying to put money in the spin to win machine. I explained it isn't a regular machine and only takes the spin to win tokens.
We played a few poker slots. The most exciting hand that I was dealt started with junk cards. Since 4 is my favorite number, I held the 4 of clubs rather than holding nothing. Guess what I was dealt around my 4 of clubs? I was dealt a straight flush. That was very exciting.
We stopped at the promenade cafe for a slice of pizza for lunch. We were very excited to see they had California pizza as the special. We had it on our last cruise and really like it - chicken and avocado.
We went to watch the belly flop contest at 2 since the sun came out but due to the rough seas it was postponed.
Paul played in the Blackjack tournament but didn't make it to the final table.
At 3pm we saw the ice show - Spirits of the Seasons. We really enjoy this show even after seeing it on the last two cruises. Only one girl fell and one guy seemed a bit clumsy, but other than that, it was great.
At 4pm we went to the screening room to watch the movie "Stranger than Fiction." It was pretty dull and Paul started snoring. We left after ½ hour. A few people walked out before we did. Paul sat at the reception desk by the screening room. When a couple came by he asked "Can I help you?" The wife caught on that he didn't really work there.
We were nosey and walked through the conference center to see what it looked like.
We stopped in the Windjammer and had a little snack of some chips with guacamole.
Back at our cabin Paul watched TV and I read my book on the balcony. I never get to read anymore except on planes or cruises so I enjoyed sitting out there with the boat rocking and seeing the ocean.
We got ready for formal night. I wore my new shoes that I've been practicing walking in. First a little backstory on these shoes... I wanted to get a new pair of shoes and had an idea what I wanted, something black with an ankle strap. Sounds like an easy enough request, but it was hard to find just the right ones. One day I was in Macy's and looked in the shoe department and found them. They are Nine West black patent leather shoes with peep toes, an ankle strap, and really high skinny heels. I would have preferred them to be just a little lower on the heels especially since I will be walking on a moving ship, but they are beautiful. And they were not expensive - they were only $79.99. The day after I bought them I was showing one of the women I work with the shoes on the Macy's website and noticed they were now on sale for $59.99. I called Macy's and they said to stop in on the way home with my receipt and I would get credited the $20. Easy enough, I did and my shoes now only cost $59.99. There was another pair of shoes I found that I also liked by Stuart Weitzman. Also, black, with an ankle strap, but a thicker slightly lower heel. However, these shoes cost $298. I decided to stick with my cheaper Nine West shoes. Ever since I bought the Nine West shoes, I would put them on every few days and walk around the house in them.
We had the following for dinner: Appetizers: We both had the escargot. Not something I normally would have ever ordered but Paul had it on our last cruise and I dipped my bread in the garlic butter sauce and enjoyed that so this time ordered my own. I even ate a few of the escargot. Soup: Paul had lobster bisque and I skipped the soup. EntrEe: I had the mushroom linguine. Paul had the Duck. We also ordered the sea bass to share. The linguine was OK. However, on our last cruise I had the linguine with mushrooms in Portofino and that was so exceptionally good, this one pales in comparison. Paul enjoyed the duck. Dessert: I had the Grand Marnier soufflE. Paul had cherries jubilee. I was looking forward to this soufflE. Last time I had it in February, it was delicious. On our June cruise, we went to Portofino's on formal night so didn't have it. This time I was disappointed, I think it was undercooked.
Our table mates are very nice and we are all getting along well.
After dinner Paul and I went to the cabin to change back into casual clothes then back out for the evening.
The 9pm Show was Invitation to Dance. This was much better without the guest participation they have done on prior cruises. On our last two cruises, they set aside a night where guests would dance and compete for a spot on Invitation to Dance. This was usually held in Studio B and the professionals would pick 4 men and 4 women to be in the show. They would practice with them at various times during the cruise and they would be made up in the spa and given all sorts of special treatment. Then the night it was to be performed, two couples would perform a dance at the show for late seating and two couples performed a dance at the show for early seating. The audience voted by clapping for a winner. The people chosen weren't couples, they would match you up for the competition. I guess on the longer cruise, they had time to do this and it made those people feel special, but I didn't think it added anything to the show and preferred the show without it.
Out on deck the seas are much smoother now. We planned to go to the Maharajas Lounge to watch Finish the Lyrics, but changed our mind and went to the casino instead.
We played the poker slots for a long time, not really winning much but had a good play. Paul went to play Black Jack. A weird man sat next to me and told me I'm cute and would bring him luck. He told me just sit there and look cute. He was giving me the creeps. He talked about Lincoln not being handsome but that he looks good on the $5 bill. He was showing me his $5 bill. Was I supposed to be impressed? After a bit he asked where my husband is. I told him he was playing Black Jack. This was the first time I was happy to lose the credits I had in the machine and get away from this weird guy.
At 12:15am we went to watch the late night comedy show with Billy Garan, the same comedian from yesterday. This show was better then when he did the welcome aboard show.
We stopped at the promenade cafe for a cookie for me and pizza for Paul. We saw Marybeth and Rick (from our dinner table) so they sat with us for a little while.
We went up to bed anxiously anticipating our next two days in Bermuda and hoping for good weather so we can rent the mopeds and not have to depend on public transportation.
Monday 9/22/08 - Bermuda
We got up and ready, had breakfast in the Windjammer, and then headed off the ship around 10am. We were docked at the Dockyard.
There was a van from Oleander Cycles just outside the ship drumming up business and offering a ride to their shop so we jumped in. That was much easier than walking. The line at Oleander's was huge. It zig zagged back and forth inside and then went out the door. We waited and started chatting with people on line with us. The wait was about an hour and then we were finally able to hit the road.
We rented the deluxe scooter which fits two people. Paul was the driver and I was the passenger.
We were originally thinking we would take the scooter on the ferry to St George at the other end of the island and make our way back stopping along the way.
We waited so long at Oleander we missed the 11am ferry and the next one wasn't until 1pm so we started driving.
Our fist stop was Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. We took some pictures but didn't want to climb all the steps.
We drove along the South shore and the view is breathtaking. At almost every turn you have this beautiful turquoise water to look at.
We next drove to Crystal Caves. We bought tickets to do both caves - Crystal and Fantasy. It was $23 each to do both caves. It was $16 to do one. Since we were there we figured we may as well do both since the brochure made it sound like each one was unique.
You go with a guide and he takes about 40 or so people. We started with Crystal Caves. It was very pretty but not too big. It was about 83 steps down and 83 back up. When you get to the end; you just turn around and go back where you came from. This guide gave us a lot of information on what we were seeing.
The next tour of Fantasy Caves had a different guide. He told us that one guide called in sick so there were too many people on our tour; but he would do his best. He had us walk down then split to either side, then switch.
I was impressed to see this huge woman, at least 300 pounds, trying to do the tour. It took her a lot of time and effort to go down each step but I was so proud of her watching her do this. She easily could have said it's too much work and not done it, but she did.
These caves were nice, but small and not worth the fee they charged. I know it is Bermuda and not a cheap island, but I still think it was overpriced. A fair charge would be maybe $15 for both caves. They didn't seem that different from one another to me. My only comparison is to Harrison Caves in Barbados which we did in February. Harrison Caves was much bigger, you rode through on a tram with numerous stops to get off and cost $20 per person - that was well worth it.
Next we drove to St George. It was very convenient parking the scooter everywhere we stopped.
We went to the Perfumery. A nice woman working there had us smell so many of the fragrances. She had us sniff coffee beans to clear our nose in between the different fragrances. I couldn't decide between a few so bought a sampler pack for $25 since it had a very nice assortment. There was only one that I wasn't crazy about since it was very heavy.
We took pictures in the stocks. We walked around St George. It's a very small town and we saw the NCL Majesty docked. That ship is very small.
We were hungry for lunch. We walked by a few restaurants and decided on the Carriage House. We ate inside with air conditioning but there was outside seating too. It was pretty hot out - mid 80's and sunny. We weren't complaining; we were just happy it wasn't raining.
I had fish and chips and a sprite. Paul had a chicken breast sandwich with fries and water. They had the best fries ever - even better than McDonalds. They were thin fries; not superskinny, but a bit wider than McDonald's French fries. Each one was perfectly crispy outside. My fish was very good too. A gratuity of 15% was automatically included on our bill.
We drove up to Fort St Catherine but they were already closed. We walked over to St Catherine's Beach and dipped our feet in the water.
As we were driving we passed the Grotto Bay Beach Resort. We drove in to look around. I had read about the caves there and wanted to see it. I walked through the lobby and out the back following the signs to the cave area. Since it was after 5pm, the caves were closed. We stopped by the Baileys Ice Cream place, which is just up the road from the Grotto Bay Beach Resort, but they are closed on Mondays. Maybe we will try to hit these two tomorrow.
We started heading back towards the West End (where the Dockyard is) and stopped at Horseshoe Bay Beach. We walked around the beach and dipped our feet here too. They had nice spigots to wash the sand off your feet.
Since we didn't bring towels or anything to change into, I didn't plan to go swimming today. Tomorrow we'll bring bathing suits if we want to swim at the beach. Paul's shorts double as a bathing suit, but I didn't want him to go swimming and be all wet since we were on a double scooter and I was riding behind him and if he was all wet, I would end up all wet too.
We came back to the ship and dropped off the stuff we bought. We arrived back a little after 7pm. We expected to miss dinner in the dining room tonight with the ship being docked overnight. There was no need for us to rush back.
We had a quick light dinner in the Windjammer.
We headed back around to Destination Dockyard. We took the scooter. We could have walked but it's kind of hot out and why not use the scooter.
We watched the performers. There was a magician and then a juggler. I saw this juggler before on a prior cruise. It was very humid out.
The show ended around 9:30 so we went over to the Clocktower Mall. Many of the shops were still open so we browsed. We also wandered around the vendors that were set up for Destination Dockyard.
We drove over to Snorkel Park since they had a sign that they were open until 3am. We went in and nothing seemed to be going on so after walking around a bit, we headed back to the ship.
Paul parked the scooter right near the ship. Considering all the warnings not to rent scooters there were tons of them lined up parked by the ship for the night.
We came back to the ship around 10:15 and went to the Love and Marriage show at 10:30. It was cute and they even had a few new questions. The middle couple won.
It is nice being docked overnight and not having to rush.
The 11:30 Pool Party/Buffet had huge lines of people waiting for food. You would think they haven't eaten in days. We grabbed a piece of chicken and some ice cream.
We went up to Dizzy's to watch the party out the window. It was crowded with lines for food for a long time.
We went up to bed. The casino is closed while we are docked at Bermuda.
Tuesday 9/23/08 - Bermuda
We had breakfast in the Windjammer and then headed out. We got onto the scooter and were off towards Hamilton. We walked around a bit and bought a magnet. It was very hot out today.
I saw an advertisement for BUI (Bermuda Underwater Institute - I think that's what the letters stand for). The ad for it sounded like a simulated interactive underwater experience. When we got there, we asked the woman working there what it was and it was more like an aquarium. We decided to skip it and drove over to the beach instead.
Paul would stop off at various beaches along the South Shore to see which one he wanted to go to. He wanted to dip himself at all of them, but I didn't like that idea since we're on the double scooter. When we were in St Martin and St Thomas in June and had a rental car, he kept dipping himself and getting in the car wet, but it didn't matter since I had my own seat and stayed dry. I hate being wet in clothes. I don't like water rides at amusement parks for this reason either. I brought my bathing suit and once we pick a beach to spend some time at I will put it on. Then when we're done, I'll change back to my dry clothes. I know that makes me sound pretty high maintenance, but I'm really not.
At one point we were driving on a sand road to find a beach and we almost tipped over. We were able to right ourselves, but that was a little scary. I would have preferred being in a rental car than a scooter. Unfortunately, Bermuda doesn't allow people to rent cars so the scooter had to do.
We ended up going back to Horseshoe Bay Beach. They had facilities for changing. I changed into my bathing suit and we went into the water. There were nice waves to play in. It was much more crowded now than when we stopped by last evening. I left our bags/towels/stuff on the beach. While we were in the water I asked Paul what he did with the scooter key and he said he thinks he threw it in the bag. After about 2 hours we were ready to go. I went into the changing room. They had showers there but unfortunately they were out of order. At least I was able to change out of my wet suit. Paul realized that the scooter key wasn't in the bag. I was worried he had it in his pocket and lost it in the ocean. He said he thinks he may have left it in the scooter. Sure enough, we get back to the scooter and there is the key right there in the scooter. I'm glad no one stole it. We drove back to the ship and I ran upstairs to drop off our towels and wet bathing suit and Paul waited on the scooter.
It took about 20 minutes to get on, get an elevator, drop the stuff in our cabin, and then get back off. It was 2:30 when I got off and I was reminded that I need to be back on in 1 hour. We stopped at the Clocktower Mall again since there were a few shops that weren't open last night. Then we drove over to the Rum Cake Factory. I went in and Paul waited outside and returned the scooter right next door. They had samples and were all so good. I changed my mind a few times about which one to buy but decided on the coffee flavored one. Odd choice since I'm not a coffee drinker but this was good. If Paul came in with me, we probably would have bought a few of them in various flavors. I didn't want to buy too many because even though they are good and we like them, I guessed that if we had a few of them, we would eat one at home and enjoy it, put the others away for another time and forget about them. That happened last time we bought a bunch of rum cakes in the Cayman Islands.
We walked back to the ship and went straight to the Windjammer around 3:15 for a late lunch. I originally planned to shower and change first, but Paul had a good point and said then we would be eating that much later and we have dinner at 6.
After eating we went up to the cabin. It felt great to shower off all that sand.
The Captain came on the loudspeaker for a weather update. It has been sunny and warm in Bermuda. He said that on the way back we will be going through a storm front and to expect high winds and rough seas. It is expected to start late tonight into tomorrow. We will be late arriving in Bayonne since we will not go a direct route back to try to avoid the worst of the storm. Women were advised not to wear high heels and we were advised to take any precautions for rough seas. This is the first time I've been warmed of impending rough seas. I'm a bit nervous but will take a Bonine tonight and hope it does its job.
I think this is the day we dropped off the form to charge the gratuities to our sea pass account. There was a box to drop them in so we didn't need to wait on line at the customer service desk.
Dinner was very nice tonight with a full table. We were the only ones missing from our table at dinner yesterday. We had the following: Appetizers: We both had the scallop Risotto. This is a good dish that we both enjoyed. Salad: I had the caprese. Paul skipped the salad. I enjoyed my caprese salad with nice ripe red tomatoes. Maureen also ordered this and had yellow tomatoes. Arlene ordered this and had pale pink tomatoes that didn't look ripe at all. I asked Cherry why all the different colored tomatoes and she said they have all different ones. I guess I lucked out since no one else seemed to enjoy their tomatoes. And I'm not a huge tomato lover, but like a little bit with fresh mozzarella. Soup: Paul had the Roasted Garlic. I skipped the soup. EntrEe: I had the Tiger Shrimp. Paul had the Lamb Shank. Dessert: I had the Angel Food Cake. Paul had Tiramisu and Orange Sherbet. Both of us enjoyed our food tonight.
After dinner we went to the Maharajas Lounge for the Platinum, Diamond, and Diamond Plus party. It wasn't too packed. The eight of us sat together. Paul picked up a plate with a few chocolate covered strawberries for all of us. A waitress came over with a tray of drinks (Champagne, Yellow Birds, and Bahama Mama's). I asked for something frozen - a BBC which she brought me. Of course, she made it seem like an imposition and said she would check if she could. Since we didn't all arrive together when Rich and Marybeth got there a different waiter came by offering drinks and Marybeth asked for a Rum and Coke and his answer was no problem. The funny thing was the rum punch the second waiter offered looked exactly like the Bahama Mama from the 1st waitress. One of the officers visited our table and chatted with us for a while. We asked about the possibility of them bringing another ship to Bayonne, preferably a Freedom class. She said she gets asked about that all the time and the Explorer usually sails full, but she didn't have an answer. After the officer left, the rest of us hung out chatting until they shut the lights; a hint for us to leave about 8:40.
We planned to meet at the theater for the show at 9. Paul and I stopped in the casino for a bit.
The show was Fast Forward which we've seen before but it's pretty good.
We watched some of the 70's party on the promenade.
At 10:45 we went down to Studio B for the Quest. We were part of Team 13. It was a lot of fun and they asked for a few new items. Our team won. That was the first time we were on a winning team.
Out on deck it was still smooth sailing and nice out.
We stopped at the promenade cafe for pizza. It was very crowded but moved quickly.
Then we went up to bed.
Wednesday 9/24/08 - At Sea
I slept well due to the ship rocking but was woken up several times during the night when going through really big swells since we would roll across the bed. The first time I was startled awake. After that once I realized what it was it was fun.
Showering was an adventure and was a balancing act having to brace yourself with your feet against the edge of the shower tube.
So far I'm feeling fine so the rough ride is enjoyable.
We went for breakfast about 9:45 in the Windjammer.
At 10:30 we watched the Cooking demonstration in the Palace Theater. This was the first time we went and it was very cute and funny. They had an audience volunteer that they kept having toast the chef and cruise director with some sort of cherry cooking wine. She was getting tipsy by the end of the show. Meanwhile the bottles that the chef and cruise director were drinking from only had water.
Bingo was at 11:15. We played but didn't win anything.
On the promenade we bought a photo album in the logo store and eye cream in the cosmetic store.
We walked around the pool deck. The pools were closed and drained with nets over them. The Belly Flop contest was cancelled due to the Rough Seas.
We saw the beginning of the ice carving and then went to Dizzy's for Name that Tune. I expected it to be more interactive. Instead you just wrote down your guesses on a piece of paper and then at the end traded your paper with another team. We didn't participate since it had already started, but we played along on our own trying to guess the songs.
The rough seas have definitely subsided. It is back to being a much smoother ride.
We had lunch in the windjammer then went back to the cabin to read on the balcony for a little while.
At 4pm we went to the final Bingo. The jackpot was over $6,000. We didn't win anything. However, on the way to Bingo we were in the elevator with a lady who was excited to go to Bingo and was telling us how she bought her ticket earlier during the pre-sale. She was the winner of the jackpot game.
On the promenade we bought a bottle of Tequila and more cigarettes for Paul. We checked for the brand of cigarettes our friend smokes since we said we would check but they didn't have them.
We changed for our final dinner. We had the following: Appetizers: I had the pineapple. Paul had the mushroom in puff pastry Soup: Paul had the cream of asparagus. I skipped the soup Salad: I had the Caesar. Paul skipped the salad EntrEe: I had the fisherman's plate which had a lobster tail and some shrimp. Paul had Surf & Turf which was the fisherman's plate and also an order of prime rib. Our waitress brought us all out a 2nd tail. Dessert: I had the trio which had a piece of chocolate cake, cheesecake, and savarin. Paul had sherbet. Our food was very good tonight too. The lobster tails although not very big, were tasty and since our waiter brought everyone a second tail without asking, it was more than filling.
We exchanged email addresses with our tablemates and hugged goodbye.
We went upstairs to pack.
At 9pm we went to the Farewell Show. They showed clips from the Cruise in Review, Mike's 10 dumbest questions, they had a funny comedian - Dan Wilson, the singers and dancers performed, and there was a parade of the various ship departments for us to thank by our applause.
We finished our packing and put the luggage out.
We went down to the casino for a little while for the last time this trip.
We had our last pizza at the promenade and then went upstairs to bed.
Thursday 9/25/08 - Debark
We were out of our cabin by 8am and went up to the Windjammer for breakfast. We hung out by the Solarium pool for a while watching them offload luggage and load provisions for the next cruise.
When we stopped at Maharajas it was empty so we missed hanging out there and getting off early with Diamond Plus, Diamond, and Platinum. Just as we realized that they called our color - yellow and we got off.
We quickly found our luggage and a porter was right there to help us. He walked us to the beginning of the parking lot so Paul would not have to go around in a circle. We tipped him $5 and I waited with the luggage while Paul got the car.
We were on the road and home by around 11am even with the delay getting into Bayonne and getting off the ship.
FINAL THOUGHTS We really like cruising out of Bayonne. 5 nights was too short. Bermuda is a great island and renting mopeds is a wonderful option to give you the flexibility to go where you want on your own time table. I'm hoping another ship is brought to Bayonne or at least some new itineraries.