Let me start by saying we are a married couple, both 41. This is our 7th cruise with Royal Caribbean....and RCI just keeps getting better!
We made our way to Cape Liberty by car...we live only one hour and fifteen minutes away...and it was easy to get to and the drop-off process for the luggage was easy and makes sense. Then we parked our car and walked back (short-ish walk) to the terminal to check-in. We were met with all smiling faces and helpful people, from the lot attendants to the terminal porters. RCI has this down to a science, everyone was glad to be there and help out with any questions; where to go, etc...
Open waiting 10 seconds, yes seconds, in line, we were greeted very cheerfully by a gentleman that ended up escorting us to a different area because we had a junior suite. We literally were checked-in and had sea passes in hand, in under 5 minutes! We could not believe it, LOL We were loving it! We took the bus to the ship and it was quick! Only waited less than 3 mins to get on the bus and only on the bus 5 mins...quick process...nothing to even worry about there.
We went right to the Windjammer and enjoyed a tasty lunch in a beautiful setting, again...the whole crew was smiling, everyone spoke to us, everyone had a smiling face! It was great! The food was really good, hots were hot and the salad was chilled, could not have been more pleased.
We then got word that our cabins were already finished and we could go and freshen up...again, amazingly fast! The cabin was perfect...clean, smelled fresh, the balcony was a nice size and it was very comfortable. Our cabin attendant was sweet and considerate and we enjoyed having her take care of our cabin...her name is Emelyn (sp?), she was a gem!
The activities were great and plentiful...we saw the ice show which was truly a spectacle! I do not know how those skaters do it on a rocking ship, they gave a perfect show! There was a couple skating and they were from Canada, wow they were extremely good...the young lady was a shining star, what a natural entertainer! It was one of the best shows-at-sea we have ever had the pleasure of seeing.
The Promenade was a-buzz with activity most of the time. There was a reggae band at times and a classical music band at other times and both were highly enjoyable and extremely talented. Both groups would draw the crowds in and everyone, including us, enjoyed every minute!
There was a storm that rocked the ship the first two days and it was intense but, that was not the highlight of or the focus of this wonderful cruise...the crew and Captain kept it lighthearted and it was no big deal. It will happen, it is what it is.
The dining room was gorgeous and the staff was perfect! We really enjoyed our waiter Dodjie and Asst Waitperson, Zanelle...we enjoyed seeing Zanelle in the WJ...she was very personable and friendly. They both made our dinner time quite enjoyable and flawless. We had dinner in Portofino's one night and that was a great as ever, I highly recommend it! The staff there was attentive and friendly...always there if we needed something extra.
Bermuda was nice, the folks there were friendly and the island clean...we enjoyed walking around and taking the ferry to Hamilton. We did not do any excursions as it was our first time there and wanted to get a feel for things on our own. After shopping and enjoying our self-guided walking tour, we wound up at The Frog and Onion, a lovely pub near the pier...the wheat beer was great and ice cold...the snacks were good and we had service with a smile. Good times!
The ship was really in great shape, we enjoyed the bars and clubs very much, each were very well maintained and staffed at all times. We very much enjoyed Ricardo and Evelyn in the pub. They always knew our names and made wonderful recommendations for drinks and entertained us with great stories!
The crew on this ship is lightening-in-a-bottle, one-of-a-kind. They all were so energetic, fun and happy. I cannot say enough about them, just so pulled together. Captain Ryan was great, too! We met him during the welcome back party for Crown and Anchor members...gosh, that party was fun! Again, the staff took the time to talk to us and we enjoyed their company.
The debarkation was pretty smooth, there was a slight hiccup with timing but that was customs, not RCI. We were delayed just a few short minutes, then off we went and back to our car by bus. The bus ride was very short, smooth and the porters helped us on and off. We did the express departure so we had our luggage, we were helped with it and it was no bother. We were home in one hour and fifteen minutes and felt like we had gotten our money's worth and are glad to be sailing Explorer again in January. This was a great time!