As this was our second time in just nine months on Explorer of the Seas we really enjoyed our last cruise.
Leaving on a Saturday we found driving to Port Liberty was painless. Very little traffic for North Jersey which put us at the port at 10:30 AM, a little early than expected and we were met with a back up of cars in queue for the pick-up/drop-off area at the terminal. Port help directing traffic advised that the ship got in a few hours later than expected and debarkation was running later than usual. Once we reached the terminal, luggage drop off was easy and making our way around to the parking area was not a problem. Security check-in was empty and although we made our way to priority check in, regular check in was ready and waiting for folks to arrive. Check in was quick and we were seated in the lounge area for about 20 minutes until the shuttles to ship started running at 12:00 PM.
Not ready to head to WJ for lunch we walked up to Deck 4, to walk around the outside promenade and up to the bow of the ship. The ship was berthed right next to the 9/11 memorial which really gave us a great view of the harbor. There was so much to scope out we found that time pasted quickly and around 1:15 PM we headed up to our cabin (JS). We found it in clean, good shape. A few changes from last cruise, same accommodations, upgraded chairs on veranda, sundries in bathroom, we found robes for us to use in that wonderful walk-in closet, and my favorite....an electric hot water pot! Material on sitting furniture is showing age but it did not take away from our excitement of being back on a ship! One note, I have to agree with some of the postings that I read about the comforters on the beds, I find them too heavy for my taste. After a quick inspection we dropped off our carry ons and made our way upstairs to the WJ for lunch. We had no problem locating a table by the window. WJ was busy, but was by no means packed with nowhere to go!
Luggage arrived in stages two pieces before the muster drill and two after. Since the arrival of the veranda we usually find ourselves on ours for sail away but this time we could be found up on deck with a drink in hand. Ah, the alcohol policy. Yes, we would like to bring some of our own liquor onto the ship and have a set up in our room but we have no complaints concerning the bar service, although somewhat expensive at least they make a good drink. There was lots of action in NY harbor as we left, sail boats, ferries, and military helicopters. Perhaps do to Fleet Week in NY we also spotted Canadian ships berthed on our right as we approached the Verrazano Bridge.
We were assigned to table 344, Magellan Dining room, second seating with three other couples, it made for great companionship during the trip. We all had different reservations for Portofino during our cruise so I think the table was complete only two nights out of the trip. Food in the main dining room ranged from fair to good, once in awhile something tasted really good. Our waiter was Dwayne and he provided good service. Food and service in Portofino was excellent.
We enjoyed a calm ocean all the way to Bermuda and most of the way back. This cruise had a healthy mix of all ages and we thought some of the best attitudes we have seen on a ship in a long time. We were able to find things to do when we felt like it and quiet spots to hang out when we wanted them. First day at sea was really gorgeous and brought everyone out seeking sun. Fresh towels became scarce by 11:00 AM but spots to lay out in the sun on higher decks could still easily be found.
We caught some of the entertainment but not every show. We try to make it to the comedy shows and enjoyed Charles Peachock's juggling & comedy and Jimmy Carroll's comedy act this time. It is still amazing to me that the skaters can do so much on that piece of ice! The ice spectacular is a great show, make time to see it! Made it to one of the shows featuring The Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers. The live music, singing and dancing is worth your attention.
Caught a few sunsets and sunrises. Beautiful, just beautiful. First night out it was cold up on deck, but, first night leaving Bermuda was wonderful out on deck. When the water is calm you are allowed up on the bow at night. One of my not to be missed things to do. We also observed a water spout on the return trip. It was far enough off the starboard side of the ship that binoculars were needed to really see the detail but there was no doubt about what it was. The officer of the watch made an announcement over the public system to alert everyone.
Had a blast one night in the casino playing slots. Ate too much in Johnny Rocket's one afternoon. Hit the video arcade a few times and a few times that husband did not know about. Got busy and forgot to do nothing one day. Forgot to try out the golf. Could have used a few more sea days!
Debarkation: We went with normal debarkation. Our color/number was called at 8:35 AM, ten minutes before schedule, we were off the ship in an orderly manner and on a shuttle before we knew it. Followed by collecting luggage, then through customs. Porter dropped our bags off at pick-up area where I waited while husband got the car from parking area. We were on our way away from the port at 9:05 AM.