This was our very 1st Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean & our 1st time on the Explorer of the Seas. We booked this cruise last year & picked out our own cabin. Center of ship. When we seen the ship we could not believe how big she was, but so easy to get around on her.
We had chosen to get the bus from Providence, RI to Cape Liberty for the additional $110.00 fee per person RCCL's offered. We rather leave the driving to someone else. The past 2 cruises we were not charged a fare, but this time there was one. We got to the ship at 1:30pm. We waited in the bus for about 10 minutes before we were able to get off.
Embarkation went smoothly. We did notice since our last cruise out of Cape Liberty in 2006 there were a few changes. Nothing major, just a different area to catch our bus when returning. We were on the ship by 2:30pm and headed straight to our cabin. It was our first balcony cabin, so we were very pleased with the added feel to the cabin. Lots of closet space, draws, etc. We felt spoiled after being in an inside cabin before. There were a couple pieces of rug that were lifting in a couple areas around the cabin that needed to be addressed, but nothing that would make our vacation terrible. The bed was nice and soft and so easy to fall asleep in. Taking a shower was great with the doors that you close instead of the clinging shower curtain.
We had been to Bermuda twice before so we didn't book any excursions. We were only there for about 5 hrs so really not enough time to do much. We walked around Dockside & went to the Bermuda Rum Cake Factory. Just to get off the ship for a bit to walk around on land was nice. Our next stop was St. Maarten where DH took the excursion that we booked with our Aunt. Lasted 2 hrs and they said it was great. I had been having trouble with pain in my left leg before the cruise and thought I was suffering from a bout of sciatica, so I was limited on how much I could do. I did end up going to use the dry sauna in the fitness center & it was fabulous. I also tried the accupucturist which I had a 20% coupon for. The total I was charged was $120.00. Moses did a great job at trying to relieve my leg pain. I was pain free for about 8 hrs. Wasn't until I came home and seen a Ortho Dr to find out that I had a herniated disc along. Nothing I would have tried would have helped. The hot tubs at the pool area were very inviting and we used them a couple times. They never seemed to be to crowded. The hot tub in the fitness center was never, ever crowded.
I did manage to see a few shows. Marriage game was funny. Vibe-ology was fantastic. Beatle tribute was great & the Ice Show is a not to miss. I participated in the Karaoke Contest (NO I did not win) Never seen any of the musicians they had on the cruise in any of the bars,I was always ready for bed by 9 pm. Cruise Director Mike H. was funny. G'day mate! His favorite 2 words. Halloween Parade was very colorful. Lots of people on the ship dressed up. Casino ate up $115.00 (I played slots) We signed up for the M&M. It was supposed to be in Dizzy's. When we got the slip under the door, it had been changed to The Chambers. Needless to say only 1/2 of the M&M people came. We had refreshments and got to meet with people we had been conversing with for over a year on the thread. Most of them we didn't even see the rest of the cruise.
Meals on the ship were okay. I was really tired of eating toward the end of the cruise. To much food. We ordered breakfast in the cabin a couple of times and were always please with the selections. It always came hot and on time. A couple Breakfasts were shared in the dining room, which I loved because of the Blueberry pancakes! Yum... Lunches we skipped, but did go to the dining room everynight for dinner. A chicken, Steak, & Fish was always on the menu plus a couple other choices. Big change since the experience we had on the Empress of the Seas 2004. What we ate was filling and very tasty. The desserts were as always to me the best part of the meal. Our dining room Waitstaff was excellent. Way to go Dwayne table 520.....
Disembarkation was HORRIBLE! We were to be on our bus by 10am. Never got on the bus until 12:20pm. Don't know what the problem was, but it was terrible. We waited at the Palace Theater for over 2 and 1/2 hrs until our color code was called. Face painters that were on the ship during the week were painting peoples faces for free while we waited. When our color was called we were then taking to the stairs to walk up 1 flight of stairs to go on the outside of the ship. We walked only to come back into the ship at the other end and either catch an elevator down to deck 1 or take the stairs again. This was not easy for me with the leg pain. No one knows what the hold up was prior to us all waiting, but that was the first time in 3 cruises we experienced something like that. Traffic was very heavy coming into the pier as we were headed out at 12:40pm. Our bus driver was so aggravated he wouldn't stop for a fast meal break on the way home. A Travel Agent on the bus had Cookies to pass around for those of us who were hungry and had nothing in our bags to eat....
All in All it was a great cruise. I was ready to come home after the 9 nights. Not because of the ship, or service, or even ports we visited, it was because I wasn't feeling well. The ship is beautiful but does need some repairs here and there. Dry Dock in 2010 will be much needed. I hope they put in a couple elevators just for wheelchairs. We got to meet Captain Ryan as he was the same Captain on the Empress cruise back in 2004. This time we got a picture with him in St. Thomas by the ship. Thanks Captain! We are booked on this ship again for October 10, 2009 with our oldest Son, DIL & 3 granddaughters. We are headed to Bermuda for the 5 nighter. A Family Suite will accommodate 7 of us then.