This was our third cruise for my husband and I on the Explorer. Traveling with us were another couple who were first time cruisers. We are all in our early 40's. This cruise left for Bermuda on August 1.
Getting to Bayonne was very easy from CT and we were on the ship at 12:30 p.m. after leaving home at 9 a.m. The line into the luggage drop off was kinda long, but once luggage was dropped off, we were on the ship fairly quickly. We went straight to the Windjammer and headed to the back of the ship to the second Windjammer buffet. Food was ok. Nothing great... The fried chicken and the sweet and sour chicken were good. Lunch is my least favorite meal in the Windjammer.
We headed to our cabins which were ready about 1:30. We had promenade cabins. They were bigger than I thought they would be. Plenty of storage space. I was surprised to see regular tv's though. I was on Majesty of the Seas two weeks ago (read my review!) and that ship had flat screen tv's. Our window was above the coffeeshop and we had a pretty good view of the promenade. But most of the time we kept the drapes closed. I dont mind an inside cabin, because we were never in the room, and even with the promenade cabin, we never looked out the window too much. Across the hall was a balcony cabin and me and my husband sneaked in to look at it on departure day (door was open!) We were not impressed with it. Baclony was rusty looking and small. We had an inside cabin on Majesty cruise and for our other Explorer cruises it was fine for our needs. Anyway, we had hot water the first day of cruise and then none! We went down to Guest Relations and nothing was done until almost 3 days later when my husband went down again. Then the guy came and the water was nice and hot... finally. Our friends were right next door and they had hot water eveyday.
We also had My Time Dining(we had it on Majesty also) and I don't like it. Everyday you have to call or go to the Dining Room and tell them what time you want dinner that night. It was kind of a pain. Then, each night the hostess seemed confused and frustrated. She was not very pleasant. The waiters seemed a little frazzled and I didn't like not having the same waiter each night. Every night we had to introduce ourselves and ask our waiter about himself. Whereas, with the main or late dining, your waiter got to know you and vice versa. Next time we will just go with late seating and have the same waiter and table. We gave our tip envelope to the waiter we had that last night. Even though we only met him once. I assume the tips are all split! Oh...we never once saw the Mater Dei (sp).
Formal night was nice. I have to say most everyone dressed up and everyone looked very nice. Dinner was pretty good that night... prob the best dinner of the cruise. Other than Portofino's. Oh my god... you have to go there. It was the BEST dinner ever. We had 9 p.m. reservations. The waiter was the best. So professional. And the meal...out of this world. It was awesome. You pay $20 per person, but we left a $20 gratuity because the staff was outstanding.
Once in Bermuda we rented scooters. They are so much fun. We only rented two. The guys drove while us girls rode on back. We had great weather and we went all over the island. We drove to Hamilton and shopped, then headed to the beaches. We were able to stop at about 3 different beaches. Docking in King's Wharf, there is not much to do. I felt bad for older people or people with walking problems/wheel chairs. You have to walk pretty far until you come to the little town center. You really need to have an excursion lined up. There is not much to do right there.
On the ship we hung around the pool and we used the hot tub in the gym area. There were some young adults in the hot tub, who were using it as a pool. Swimming around and doing hand stands, flips, etc... This should not have been allowed. But no one stopped them. There were plenty of chairs around the pool. We never had a problem. And you have to return your towels when you are done with them, so there were never chairs with towels on them. I think most everyone returned thier towels. I only saw maybe one or two chairs with a towel thrown on it. There is a sign that said you would be charged $20 for not returning your towel! We had lots of drinks by the pool. Pricy, but we knew they would be.
The ship was really nice and clean. There were always staff cleaning. The shows were pretty good. The other couple went to every show, inc the ice show and enjoyed that the best. The cruise director on this ship (Dave)was alright; but the one on Majesty (Ricky) was ten times better. The shops were nice and the coffee shop was nice to have. Try the ham and cheese croissant sandwiches! This was the only place I could actually drink the coffee. The coffee in the Windjammer and Dining Room is too strong. But I still had to add some hot water to dilute it.
Getting off the ship was easy. We had our last breakfast in the dining room. Which we felt was rushed, but I guess the waitstaff wanted to prepare for the new cruise or something. We has the private departure lounge (we are platinum members) and we were off the ship by 9:30 a.m. We left our luggage out the night before and it was very easy to locate when we got to the luggage area. We walked our luggage to the parking lot and went out the exit on the other side of the lot. That saved alot of time instead of driving over to the area where you come out of customs and picking up your luggage there. There's alot of chaos over there with new passengers dropping off luggage and the other passengers waiting with luggage for their rides to pick them up. Parking for the 5 night cruise was $100. You pay when you enter before the cruise.
We had a nice time and my husband booked this cruise again for next year, for him and his two sons. I've done this cruise three times and that will prob be it for me. Explorer is a very nice ship and we had great weather and a great time.