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Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by SWPD

Home > Reviews > Member Reviews > Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by SWPD
Explorer of the Seas
Explorer of the Seas
Member Name: SWPD
Cruise Date: March 2009
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Cabin Category: N
Cabin Number: 8375
Booking Method: Internet Agency
See More About: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Reviews | Southern Caribbean Cruise Reviews | Royal Caribbean Cruise Deals
Member Rating   5+ out of 5+
Dining 5+
Public Rooms 5+
Cabins 5+
Entertainment 5+
Spa & Fitness 5+
Family & Children Not Rated
Shore Excursions Not Rated
Embarkation 5.0
Service 5+
Value-for-Money 5+
Rates 5+
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Ship Facts: Explorer of the Seas Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Explorer of the Seas Deck Plans
Another great
Explorer of the Seas 03-15-09 12 Night Caribbean Cruise.

Linda and I experienced our first cruise in 1987 when our daughter was employed by a travel agency. We spent the next 15 years raising our family and delaying the gratification of cruising again. We began serious cruising in March of 2002 after retiring from a 30 year career in law enforcement. We are in our early 60's and reside in north-central Pennsylvania.

This was our 20th cruise, our 12th on a Royal Caribbean ship and our 6th on the Explorer of the Seas. With this sailing we now have 13 cruise credits and 98 days onboard Royal Caribbean Ships. Our first Royal Caribbean sailing was on the Voyager of the Seas in April of 2005 and within 42 months we achieved Diamond Member status. We own stock in Royal Caribbean and we own more than the 100 shares required to receive shareholder benefits. We continue to sail on Royal Caribbean as it is our preferred cruise line.

We booked this cruise back on 04 December 2008 along with 2 other couples from our hometown. They are all good friends and we have sailed many times before with Ed and Bonnie (Platinum) and Frank and Marylou (Gold).

Note: You will find that this review is similar to those previously submitted. This is due to the consistency of services received.

We love the Explorer of the Seas as she continues to be our "time share" at sea. We love her crew and staff too. Many have become good friends and we keep in touch thanks to email.

As expected this was another great cruise and it again was due to the dedication of the Captain, crew and staff. The Explorer continues to offer one of the best "rides" on the seas. This is due to their personnel selection process and commitment to training and this allows them to achieve their mission of delivering "GOLD ANCHOR SERVICE" by delivering "BEYOND NORMAL SERVICE".

Royal Caribbean's pleasure and number one priority continues to be focused on making all of us feel special and ensuring our cruise experience is unforgettable and more amazing than we could have ever imagined. Again we were deeply appreciative of the services and sacrifices provided by the crew and staff.

TRAVEL TO THE PORT: We live in north-central Pennsylvania and the trip to the port at Cape Liberty is a 198 mile drive and usually takes a little over 3.5 hours on a Sunday morning.

TERMINAL - EMBARKATION: We arrived around 0900 hours and there were no traffic issues at the terminal. We unloaded all the vehicles with the checked luggage. We tipped the handler $15.00 for our 6 bags then off to park our SUV in the long term lot. Parking is now $19.00 per day and is convenient and safe. It is still a lot cheaper than New York City Port Parking which is now $30.00 per day. Debarking passengers were just starting to congregate as they waited for their pick up. There were not many vehicles and traffic was very light. This was another reason why we like to arrive early.

We unloaded our carry-on bags from the SUV and off to the terminal. We entered the terminal after showing our passports and On-line boarding passes. Our carry-on luggage was x-rayed and we were directed to the waiting area where we were given our bus boarding passes (#1). There were only 2 other passengers in the terminal ahead of us.

This was our 7th sailing out of Cape Liberty and we are pretty familiar with their process. Embarkation is usually pretty smooth if you arrive early. For us we would rather wait in the terminal for a couple of hours then wait in line in traffic on the interstate or wait in a long line in the terminal.

Linda and I are Diamond members and the other couples were Platinum and Gold. It was not long (around 1000 hours) before we (4 of us) were escorted to the VIP waiting area and the other 2 remained in the main terminal section. We gave up our "#1" cards since they were not needed in the VIP section. There we found really great orange juice plus other beverages and cookies. There goes the diet already.

While we waited for the check-in process to begin it became evident that there was going to be a lot of Platinum, Diamond, Diamond-Plus and Suite passengers using this small area. It soon became "standing room only."

As they announced (around 1030) that we could start the check-in process the "herd-mentality started to kick in. This mentality is not a criticism of the embarkation system, it is a reflection of the lack of civility among guests. I am sometimes guilty of trying to maintain my place in line and I must apologize for at times becoming part of the herd.

Around 1000 hours the staff first started directing us, 2 at a time, to go to the check in line. This seemed confusing at first as there was no way of ensuring that those who arrived first would be processed first. It did not take the staff long to realize that this would not work and they quickly corrected it by directing the entire group to line up and proceed to the "rope-line" entrance.

We were among the first dozen or so to get checked-in and have our ID photo taken and then followed by our "Welcome Aboard" photo, which we always purchase. It was now time to relax and wait for the next cattle stampede, "the bus boarding."

The VIP area became overcrowded as it came closer to 1200 hours and they had to relocate some of the waiting VIP's to another area (not sure where that was). This helped quite a bit. We felt bad for the girl taking the welcome aboard photos as her area became completely blocked with waiting passengers.

There were a couple of false starts when busses approached. The cattle were getting jumpy by this time. It looked like they might run out of cookies (not really - they had plenty) and the cattle wanted to find the next pasture to graze in (The Windjammer).

As we waited, the Concierge Ricardo Ulgade (refer to his commendation under staff comments) came into the VIP area and when he saw us were received his warm and friendly greeting and hugs. He remembered our names (Linda and I). I still do not know how they do that since I get the Grandchildren mixed up sometimes.

Around 1220 hours we started boarding and we made the first bus and it was off to the Explorer of the Seas, our home for the next 12 nights. YeeHaa!

VIP SECTION CHECK-IN SUGGESTION: To reduce the effects of "herding" a suggestion for consideration would be to simply issue VIP Boarding Pass numbers. These could be similar to those in the main area only with a different color and the term VIP added.

With the large number of Platinum Members it might even become necessary to establish their own waiting area. This is a good sign for Royal Caribbean as they now have over 4 million repeat cruisers (Crown and Anchor Members). This is the largest loyalty program in the cruise industry.

I know what you might be thinking. Now the he is Diamond he does not care about the Platinum's. Not true since someone once taught me to "always remember who 'brung-ya' to the dance". In other word Loyalty breed loyalty and do not forget where you came from and what it was like while you were there.

Platinum members have worked hard too to get their rewards or perks. Priority boarding was something we always appreciated but we also understood that there were those who have achieved greater rewards. This is not "class warfare" it is simply appropriately earned recognition.

The current VIP area could be reserved for Diamond, Diamond-Plus and suite members. They would check in the present location and bus loading area.

A separate designated Platinum Members line could be established that would utilize the same computer terminals that would be used by other Gold Members and first time guests. In other ports we have noticed that in the "rope lines" there is a line designated for priority boarding guests.

They could then be seated in a designated area in the main terminal until boarding begins. Once boarding begins they would be given priority over those Gold Members and first time cruisers who were also waiting in the main terminal seating area.

I appreciate the need to help the "herd" along. For 12 years I was the Senior Law Enforcement Official at a major sporting event. This involved providing crowd and traffic control at the Little League World Series and attendance at the final games were in excess of 30,000 little league fans. This included visits from the President and Vice-President of the United States as well as other VIP's.

ONBOARD: Again we must compliment those who greeted us at the gangway and elevator area. Everyone was smiling and we were warmly greeted. We knew our cabins would not be ready until around 1330 hours (1:30 PM for you civilians) so as usual we headed to the dining room to check out our table assignment. As requested we were assigned table 476 on deck 4 which is the Dagama Dining room. We had no trouble locating it as we had table 476 on a previous cruise and Ed, Bonnie, Frank and Marylou were at this same table in December. It is portside-aft and is in the corner with the large wrap-around window on 2 sides. Perfect. Thanks Marcelo Aries (refer to his commendation under staff comments) for making this happen again. It is always good to have friends and connections.

Next, if was off to the Windjammer on deck 11 for our first meal. It could be called "The Food Jammer" the way some people eat. I affectionately refer to her as the "Jammer". Since we were one of those first onboard we had plenty of seating. For Linda and I this would be our 136th meal on the Explorer of the Seas and we would have 35 more onboard (for a total of 171 feasts on the EOS) of some of the best food and service you could ask for. As anticipated the food was great. We ran into several familiar faces and many remembered us by name. I still do not know how they do it. Our last sailing on her was 12-12-2008.

CABINS READY: Shortly after 1300 hours the announcement was made that our rooms were ready. We headed to deck 8. Our cabin numbers were 8375, 8377 and 8379. They were all inside cabins Cat. N and they were all next to one another. Incidentally our cabin was the same one our granddaughters stayed in last December. This caused Gram (Linda) to shed a few tears remembering some precious moments.

Our stateroom attendant was Kerrel Coley from Jamaica (refer to his commendation under staff comments). He provided us with a warm greeting and gave us the normal orientation. We asked him to split our beds as this gives us more walking room. We dropped off our carry-on luggage, stored our valuables and then off to explore the Explorer.

CHECKING HER (THE EXPLORER) OUT The first stop was the Concierge Lounge on deck 9 to make sure our key cards worked. They did. No one was there yet as it was early so we just strolled the Promenade for awhile. Then we started looking for past faces. We brought pictures of staff we met from our past cruises and found several. Once we find them we renew acquaintances and give them their picture. It was time to head back to the room to get ready for the Lifeboat drill. Our luggage was there already so we took the next few minutes for the unpacking detail. We unpacked and this only takes 15 minutes as we are on auto-pilot for this task. Car (vanilla) freshener hung, and door sign pasted on.

LIFEBOAT DRILL We made our goodbye phone calls using our cell phone then off to the lifeboat drill. Drill done, showered, dressed for dinner. It was then off to the Concierge Lounge but it was jammed packed full so we by-passed it and went to the Viking Crown Lounge on deck 14 for a quick view as we passed under the Verrazano Bridge. This never gets old.

DINNER We met up with the rest of the group and headed for the dining room for meal #137 on the EOS. While onboard we have never been disappointed by the meals. Just eat MRE's (Military Rations) for awhile in the desert in the middle-east and you will never complain again. Or at least you shouldn't. We only gained about 2 pounds each on this sailing. Walking and using the stairs helps burn it off.

WORTH MENTIONING ARE SEVERAL EVENTS THAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS.

POOLSIDE BBQ Poolside BBQ with several very large charcoal (with real fire) grills with hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and ribs and all the trimmings and salads. It was while we were in one of the ports. I had several plates of ribs that were "falling off the bone" good and ice cream and cake.

SAILAWAY PARADE Promenade Deck 5 Day 1 10:30 pm.

CAPTAIN'S WELCOME ABOARD RECEPTION Promenade Deck 5 Day 2 7:30 pm.

BLADES - THE ICE CHALLENGE Studio B Deck 3 Multiple presentation.

SPIRIT OF THE SEASONS - ICE SHOW Studio B Deck 3 Multiple presentation. Not to be missed. Superior performance.

ISLAND FRENZY PARADE Promenade Deck 5 Day 12 10:30 pm

POOL PARTY & BUFFET Poolside Deck 11 5 Day 5 11:00 pm Stay awake for this one on this cruise.

JOHNNY ROCKETS We always love this place but as I have recommended in the past there is one suggestion and it is to go on the first or second day which are sea days. It is usually not busy and we go early for lunch as they tend to get busy and it was too cool to eat outside. Also we are still hungry. By the end of the cruise you tend to not eat as much. Sort of like a food hangover literally and figuratively. The food is great. If we wait until the end of the cruise we usually are running a bit on full and almost getting "food fatigue". Now this is not a bad thing (except for the weight gain). This is one place that you really can enjoy when you are hungry.

This is worth the small fee but for Crown and Anchor members your onboard coupons will pay for the meal. This includes a great burger or other choices like Nathan's hot dogs or other grilled sandwiches. Chili, fries and onion rings are included. They top this off with a great sundae or apple pie alamode. There is an additional charge for drinks like real cherry Cokes, floats or shakes. Extra tips are optional, but this group of hard working folks always earns it.

On this cruise we went on day 1 which was the first day at sea. The food was great as always and the burgers were still just as juicy as they always have been. The service and entertainment were well worth the little extra expense.

TIPPING HINTS We use the onboard voucher system at the end to pay the standard tips. For this cruise it totaled $234.00. We also spent another $310.00 for pre-tips and additional individual tipping. Our total onboard tips were $544.00 Most of the extra tips went to those normally receiving tips while others were given gratuities for personal services rendered. In the past I have used $2.00 bills as an expression of appreciation for those providing above and beyond service.

The last several times we have used $50.00 worth of $1.00 gold (looking) coins. We also pre-tip those who get the vouchers provided they are delivering expected service (they always have). For this trip the pre-tip was about 50% of the normal tip and it was in addition to the final tip. We provide these on day 2 of the cruise along with a small gift bag and thank you card. Linda and I both continue to feel blessed and it is our personal mission to share our blessings. To those whom much is given, much is expected.

CREW AND STAFF COMMENDATIONS

Below are individual compliments about many of those who have met the mission:

CAPTAIN SVERRE RYAN This was our 6th voyage on the EOS and Captain Ryan was the "Skipper" for this cruise. He proved to be a competent and skilled Master of the Vessel.

We were invited to have dinner with the Captain on the first formal night. We met at the Champaign Bar at 2015 for cocktails. There we were met by our hostess Brandy who handled the introductions of the other 6 guests and our instructions on what to expect. Vijay Chipa our Maitre'd arrived and we were escorted to the dining room.

As fortune would have it Linda was seated at the Captains left. This put the pressure on since this was the closest I had been to the Skipper and my worst fears started to surface. It would just be my luck to spill something on myself or worse end up wearing it or having spinach stuck in my teeth and not knowing it. Since I am a bit hard of hearing I might also respond with the wrong answer because I did not hear something correctly.

As it turned out the Captain quickly put us all at ease and provided a truly great experience and what a memory maker the night was. His conversation with all of us provided a wealth of information and he loved talking about the Explorer as if she were a "Grand Lady".

We again were blessed beyond measure. Thanks to all those who made this happen. We want to thank Capt. Ryan, Vijay Chipa, Brandy and Marcelo Arias for making this possible.

BRIDGE TOUR: While having dinner with the Captain he asked if we had ever had a tour of the bridge. We explained that the Peek-a-Boo window on deck 11 was the closest we ever got. He then invited all of us to join him on the bridge and said he wanted us to be there to observe our entrance into San Juan Harbor. He indicated that this would be the first time this type of invitation was made. What an honor and how excited we were. We thanked him for this rare opportunity.

Then next morning there was a knock at our cabin door and we were hand delivered the invitation for the bridge tour. We met with Vanessa Rosas (Chile) on deck 10 at 1345 hours along with 2 security guards. We were escorted to secure area and we were searched and check with a security wand metal detector.

We then entered the bridge. We were directed to the port (left) side as the Captain was conducting operations from the center of the bridge. It was quiet except for necessary commands from those providing navigational way-point reports. How magnificent the operation was: Disciplined, professional and competent. We watched in profound respect the skill of the crew as they compensated for the wind and strong currents in the channel near the El Morro Castle (Castillo de San Felipe del Morro).

As the ship neared the turning basin the Captain and crew moved to the starboard (right) wing. We were then directed to the center of the bridge to watch the operation from this vantage point. We remained there until she was tied up.

After that the bridge cleared out with the exception of necessary import personnel. The Captain remained to spend about 20 minutes talking with us answering questions and providing additional comments. He also asked what our plans were for San Juan. For Linda and I we were headed into town to try and find some rally hot horseradish. He wondered if San Juan was famous for horseradish. We had to explain, with some embarrassment, that the ships horseradish was good, but if you are from central Pennsylvania the horseradish has to be "nose hair burning" hot. We told the Captain that we weren't holding out much hope of finding any. He got a chuckle out of it.

Thank you Captain Ryan for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten.

MARCELO ARIAS: HEAD WAITER / MAITRE'D (CHILE) Marcelo has become a good friend and has personally provided us with some of the best service we have ever received. He has been with us on our last 4 Explorer sailings and he again would exceed expectations by going above and beyond. I am sure he had something to do with our invitation to have dinner with the Captain. He also helped us out with our table request for the Navigator sailing in April.

It was 0530 on the morning of our debarkation that I last saw Marcelo, on an empty Promenade, with a cup of coffee in hand, headed to work. We had a chance to say good-bye one more time. Thanks Marcelo for the great memories.

MOSES LEWIS (JAMAICA): OUR HEAD WAITER Moses did an excellent job and stopped by our table every night. He made sure we had everything we needed and even provided some extra shrimp for our table. Thanks Moses for the great job.

LAVERNE ALMARIO (PHILIPPINES): WAITER Laverne was just outstanding. We continue to get blessed with the best waiters you could have ever asked for. He was prompt, patient with us, friendly and went the extra mile to make our dining experience fun and memorable. When we would see him in the dining room at breakfast or lunch he would always go out of his way to see that we had good seating even if he was not going to be our waiter. We will remember him for a long time for his faithful service.

KALPESH PATEL (INDIA): ASSISTANT WAIT STAFF Kalpesh provided us with superior service and we loved having him at our table. He was warm, friendly and fun and never missed a beat. He took care of a couple of special requests like getting us extra horseradish for our shrimp cocktail. If we saw him at breakfast or lunch he made sure she went out of her way to stop by our table to say hi. We certainly will miss him as there were some tears from our group when it came time to say goodbye to our assistant waiter who took such delight and laugh at how we could so easily mispronounce his name.

KERREL COLEY (JAMAICA): STATEROOM ATTENDANT He would prove to be one of the best we have ever had. He was very friendly, hard working, efficient and extremely patient attendant. We never wanted for anything. He had everything under control and whenever there was a request he was "Johnny on the spot". He had a relaxed way of greeting us and never seemed stressed. He provided some help with luggage tag requests, too. We deeply appreciated everything he did for us. Great job Kerrel.

WITHOON ANUWATER (HEAD WAITER): THAILAND We spent some time talking with our head waiter from a previous cruise on the EOS and has been with us on 5 sailings. In September of 2007 he served Linda a birthday cake on her final birthday of her 50's. He too has become another good friend and we always enjoy, what little time he has to spare, talking with him. He too helped us with our future dining request on the Navigator. We were always in good hands with Withoon around. He also sent a tray of Petit Fours to our room one afternoon just before dinner. We just love the chocolate covered strawberries. Thanks Withoon.

VIJAY CHIPA (INDIA): THE MAN IN CHARGE OF ALL DINING LOCATIONS We have known Vijay from cruising before on the EOS and he remembered our names. He always greeted us warmly and with a smile. On our last cruise he was in charge of the Windjammer and now has been promoted to the top spot. Congratulations Vijay. It was well earned.

RICARDO UGALDE (MEXICO): CONCIERGE What a pleasure it was to get to see Ricardo again. Ricardo is a true gentleman and an absolute professional. I had the chance to observe him with others and they certainly have him in the right spot. He helped us with our skating show tickets.

It was estimated that there were about 200 Diamond Members on this cruise, around 2 dozen Diamond-Plus Members plus suite guests making the total around 300 plus. The first night the CL was crowded but as each day went by it became less congested and there were times seats were available for more guests. It also helped to have the game room and Cloud Nine open on deck 14 for overflow. Food and beverage service was just outstanding. This has been a great perk and we enjoy the atmosphere and conversations that take place.

Ricardo never missed an opportunity to come over and greet us. On slower nights we even had time to talk and share life stories. Thanks again Ricardo for making this a great experience for Linda and I.

JASON CROSS: CONCIERGE WAIT STAFF Jason did a great job in the Concierge Club taking care of our needs whenever we visited. He was friendly and always had a smile. We appreciated how he served us in such a warm and friendly manner.

JEFFREY (LAST NAME UNKNOWN): CONCIERGE WAIT STAFF Jeffrey worked the overflow Concierge Club on deck 9 and he also took good care of us whenever we visited. He too was friendly and always had a smile.

RAJIV SEERUTTUM: GUESTS RELATIONS Rajiv was our group coordinator on the last cruise in December. This time he was working guest relations. While on the last cruise we took pictures of him on the Zip Line in Labadee and now I had the chance to give them to him. He is always gracious and courteous as he handles our requests and questions. He gave us 2 names of friends that work guest relations on the Navigator so now we will know who to turn to for help. Thanks Rajiv for going that extra step.

RUNI BASYANAKE: LOYALTY AMBASSADOR Runi was very helpful in answering a couple of Crown and Anchor Society questions. She is definitely the right person for this job. She was always friendly and willing to help. Again she sent a tray of Petit Fours to our room. More chocolate strawberries to devour. Thanks for spoiling us Runi.

ZHENYA ANUWATER: WINDJAMMER We had the pleasure of meeting Zhenya last September in Quebec City when we were on the EOS during her Canadian sailing. We were getting ice cream and ran into her and her husband Withoon ordering ice cream too. We had a lot of contact with her in the Windjammer during our snacks and domino playing. She always took good care of us while we were there. She was always friendly and had that great smile.

VENIS (INDIA) We ran into Venis every time we cruise on the Explorer. He had been our Assistant waiter from our 2006 cruise and still remembers our names. We enjoy talking with him, too. He always has this smile and friendly laugh.

NIKOLAY RAFAILOV (BULGARIA) BREAKFAST/LUNCH WAITER We ran into Nikolay several cruises ago and he remembered us and our names. We had him as our waiter for breakfast and lunch several times during this cruise. He was excellent and took good care of us.

TO ALL THE REST WHOSE NAMES WE FORGOT: Thank you for taking good care of us. When we would meet or see you, you would ask, "hey haven't you been here before"? Several commented "you are our family". This is the ultimate compliment any guest could ask for. They are now part of our family too.

PORTS OF CALL: SAN JUAN, ST. THOMAS, ST. MAARTEN, DOMINICA, BARBADOS AND ANTIGUA I will not detail ports of call as we are boring tourists. We usually just walk around the towns' small shops buying a tablecloth or small souvenir if it is a port that we have never been to. In that case it is a small sea type item with the island name on it to display on our shelf that no one looks at anyway.

Antigua was a new island for us so we took a van tour for 2.5 hours for $20.00 each. Great deal and what beautiful beaches this island has. While pulling out of Antigua and during dinner we saw a whale breaching. This was a first for us.

ENTERTAINMENT: Linda enjoys all the shows. I am the one who has to be dragged kicking and screaming. There were 2 shows on this sailing that were just outstanding.

The first one is an age thing. They had "The Happenings" group from the 60's. What a great trip down memory lane.

The second one was "Chucky (a stuffed Duck) and David Morgan". This was one of the best, clean side-splitting, gut busting acts I have enjoyed in a long time.

STAYING CONNECTED AT SEA We used the internet service for the first time. It was great to stay connected. Once each day we would log on, update our Facebook page with a situation report and then we checked our email for anything important from the family. We spent an average of 9 minutes per day. The cost is $0.55 per minute but we had a couple of Diamond coupons that gave us $20.00 (36 minutes) worth of free time. You can purchase additional time or blocks of time and the best deal is 150 minutes (2.5 hours) for $55.00 or about $0.37 per minute.

We place our cell phone on "home only" mode to eliminate the mistake of getting nailed for an international call. We make calls from Bayonne while on the ship and while in San Juan as the island provides Verizon extended network coverage with no roaming charges. We could always take it off this feature in the event we needed to make a call from the ship.

Debark The EOS has developed a much better staging system and is an improvement from the past. They have split the ship so to speak. VIP's were staged forward in the Maharaja Lounge. The rest were staged aft using Studio B and the dining room on deck 5. In the past many were also staged in the Palace Theater as well the other locations mentioned above.

This sailing we were assigned "Grey 2" luggage tags and were to wait in the Maharaja Lounge for the debarkation process. This area was designated for Suite, Diamond, Plus and Platinum members. Since there were over 300 of us, it was pretty crowded. They served great OJ and coffee and more Danish.

We were to use the forward gangway and we were called off in order. Runi was in charge and had the help of some of the "skaters". It went pretty smooth as they held up your color and number and you would follow them to the gangway and to the awaiting buses.

Other guests were using the aft gangway at the same time. This seemed to be a pretty good system using both gangways. The only difficulty was in the large numbers of VIP guests. There were those with tags scheduled to get off after us who actually beat us using the aft gangway. We were scheduled to be called off between 0915 and 0930 and we were off by 0920. We found our luggage without any trouble in the area designated "GREY 2". We have bright orange 2.5 inch wide straps around our bags plus fluorescent orange tape on the handles. They were easy to spot. We purchased the straps from AAA and the orange tape from Wal-Mart and the orange handle covers from Kmart.

Customs and Immigration was a breeze. No body cavity searches on this port entry. A bathroom stop (facilities outside the terminal) and a few steps to the SUV and we were loaded up and headed home.

We want to compliment the crew and terminal staff for trying new ways of expediting this process. There seemed to be more walkway space this time near the luggage staging area. The use of both gangways was a good idea. In the past those in the Palace had to walk up a flight of steps to deck 5 then aft to the Atrium then down to deck 1. We found a short cut for this when we were staged in the Palace. We simply went outside to walk aft on the deck to the doors at the aft atrium and then down 3 decks. This eliminated the need to go up to deck 5 then back down again.

RECOMMENDATION: In the event that there are a large number of Platinum guests it might help to stage them in the Palace Theater on deck 4 starboard side. When the Maharaja (deck 5) was cleared then those waiting in the Palace could simply be escorted down the stairway/elevators to the forward gangway on deck 1. As past platinum members we have had to stage here when there were large numbers of VIP guests.

Thank you Bayonne Terminal staff and Explorer crews for a smoother debarkation and no lost luggage.

TRIP HOME Friday morning traffic was light by the time we headed home. A quick stop in PA for a burger at McDonalds and back on the road. We were home around 1400 hours without incident.

PCD Syndrome (Post-Cruise Depression Syndrome) It was now time for therapy and entry into a food withdrawal program. The physical struggle of weight gain always proves to be a challenge considering the next cruise would be less than 21 days away

We are booked for a 14 day Transatlantic Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Barcelona, Spain on the Navigator of the Seas. It is on this sailing that we will celebrate our 100th day (sea day #2) on a Royal Caribbean Ship. I think we will plan something special.

I want to give a special thank you to our friends Frank and Marylou and Ed and Bonnie. They are always a joy to spend time with. Fellowship might have gotten its root term from fellows on a ship - getting along in tight quarters.

As always we want to give a final compliment to the crew and staff. Well done. May you have fair winds and following seas?

Linda and Gary


Publication Date: 04/06/09
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