We travelled from Glasgow to Newark on a particularly sunny November day, we were picked up by the hotel courtesy bus, Hilton Penn Station NJ. The hotel was clean and the staff more than helpful. It's also ideally situated to get a train into NYC, 10 minutes and you're in the middle of Manhattan. An added bonus was the weather, sunny and warm for the end of November.
We were collected at our hotel about 11am and took the short journey to the port, for some reason it was so much faster than last year??!! I'm not complaining. We waited patiently in the queue to check in, painfully slow as some of the 'experienced cruisers' were far from organised.!! How hard is it to check in online and have everything to hand??
Got on board shortly after 12 and as usual headed to the Windjammer for a sandwich and drink which we took out to the pool deck to enjoy the clement weather. We chatted to fellow cruisers while waiting for our suite to be ready.
One problem we did have was that one of our cases was late in being delivered to the suite, didn't cause any problem as we still had plenty clothes in our other one. I would suggest taking a carry on case just in case all luggage is late.
As suite guests we often had chocolate strawberries, canapes petit fours or cheese delivered to our suite, it was a nice touch. We also had an invitation to a welcome party hosted by the captain and some of his senior officers.
We had booked a Grand Suite which I have to say was spacious, ample storage space, 3 wardrobes and more cupboards and drawers than was needed, we even got our luggage under the bed without any problem. Before the drill muster, done this year without lifebelts for some reason, our suite attendant, Rica came to introduce herself, I have to say she was amazing, always went over and above the call of duty for us, nothing was a problem, always smiling and singing. Even at the end of the cruise when I was in bed all day due to severe motion sickness she offered to get me anything I wanted, I just wanted to be horizontal and not feel ill anymore, she insisted on straightening up the bed, just to make you feel better. I'd love to have brought her home with me.
Buffet style dining, plenty choice, even the fussiest of people must have found something to their liking, if not, then have a good talking to yourselves, the choice at breakfast was everything from fruit and cereals to Asian. Lunch had just as much choice, vegans, vegetarians ET AL were catered for.
Main Dining Room;
I'm pleased to say the choices on the menu were much better this year, a wider variety than the previous year but still offering pasta, steak and grilled chicken every night. Sadly the food, though always, lovely could have been a bit warmer, though what do you expect when catering for nearly 3000 people. The staff as usual were fabulous, Vivek our waiter and Gladwin our assistant waiter were always polite and more than helpful, more than could be said for our dining companions!!! What gives people the right to treat to treat these polite young boys as servants?? A lady at our table got Vivek to cut up her granddaughters dinner!!! Do it yourself you lazy woman !!! I have to say this couple were awkward and very arrogant, the boys took it all in their stride and always smiling. Bravo to you !!
As usual an excellent mouthwatering menu, well worth the extra $20 per head. Food served piping hot and again with a pleasant smile. Even though the portions were more than ample you were always offered more.
A special mention to Vinod the Portofino manager who is always pleased to meet you and help in any way he can. An asset to any dining room.
Well worth the visit, even just for the entertainment. The waiting staff sing and dance for you every half hour. Hats off to them.
Tea, coffee, soft drinks, sandwiches, pizza, cakes, cookies 24 hours a day. Coffee to my taste was disgusting, I craved a good coffee for 2 whole weeks.
Ice shows, as usual were outstanding, Blades could be updated but still very entertaining.
Comedians, old and some of them very passed it. My husband laughed at their pictures, taken 30 years and more ago !!
Other shows we missed, had seen them before and much preferred to chat with friends we had made on board.
RCCL have made sure that from the crack of dawn into the early hours of the next morning there is plenty of entertainment for everyone.
Each and every crew member we encountered was polite, pleasant and always willing to help. Most of the bar staff, especially pool side had a wonderful sense of humor. We even met our waiter from last year, Piyush, he remembered us immediately and was delighted to have met us again. You seriously can't complain about the staff. They rock!!
This I'm afraid is where our cruise was marred. On the whole the people we socialised with were brilliant but a great number of Americans were extremely rude, the world and her mother owes them something, they think that they are the only ones on this planet and everyone should bow down to them !!!They cursed when lifts were full and people couldn't let them on !! They barged in and made it very uncomfortable for those already in the lifts, especially if they were in motorised wheelchairs. Manners cost nothing, please gain some !!! Don't get wrong not all Americans are rude but all the rude people on board were Americans. Sadly this is not only our opinion but the opinion of many people we met, strangely enough some were American!!!
Went without a hitch, off at 8.30 and in our hotel again by 11am.
All in all, as expected, we had a wonderful cruise, Explorer is very close to our hearts. We would go more often but the transatlantic flights are just too much at the end of the holiday.