It was a easy drive from Southern NJ approx. 1hr 30 min with no traffic. It was a little hectic dropping off luggage with ppl from previous cruise leaving and our ppl arriving. Once we made it to the tent my husband dropped off myself and daughters and all the luggage and he went and parked the suv. We arrived at port around 11:15am and it took some time to get to the tent for luggage drop off -about 45 minutes. We got in line to do check in (we did not do it ahead of time) and they immediately took us and did the necessary paperwork and was directed into another room that had chairs along with cold beverages and cookies which the girls did get and there was a shuttle waiting to take us to the ship so we literally walked through the room and onto a Rutgers shuttle bus and was on the ship in a few minutes.
Once on the ship (approx 12:15-12:30) we went to the windjammer for lunch and there were no empty tables as people were waiting there for the cabins to be ready. It was alittle frustrating so we went out the the pool area and found a small table and ate our lunch out there. It was an extremely hot day and i think that is why the windjammer was so crowded. I the announcement was made that cabins were ready at 1:30pm. We then headed to our cabins we had an AFt balcony and the girls had an inside cabin near us.
Our AFT cabin balcony was amazing-it was HUGE! I will certainly try to get more AFT cabins in the future. There was more vibration and movement at the back but adjusted immediately. The cabin was perfect for the 2 of us and was very clean. The balcony was in need of a little help....we had broken lounge chairs and the railings need to be varnished. But the view more than made up for the needed repairs. The girls inside cabin had new carpet and new loveseat and chair fabric. They loved having their own space and bathroom. We had walkie talkies that worked great the keep intouch with the kids. They worked everywhere except in the promenade.
We had alittle issue with our table in the MDR. We requested a table for 4 and when we checked the dining room around 2pm we discovered that sat us at a table for 12 in a small back room. So they sent us down to the 3rd floor to talk to a head waited (Mr.Patel) who was extremely rude to me husband. He said he could not accommodate us due to the fact that there was 3700 guest on our cruise. He was rude and dismissive. My husband went to the customer service desk and asked for help. We got a call from customer service 1 hour later with our request. We were very pleased with them at the customer service desk. We ended up with a great server (joseph) and assistant server (alex).
FOOD: the MDR had good food that was hot and the portions were good alittle on small side but with the appetizers,bread,main course and desert it was perfect. We did not like the Windjammer at all and ate most meals in the MDR when it was open for meals.
PORTS: they were amazing and we especially loved Old San Juan. It was our first time there and will definatley return some day. We explored the Forts which are in walking distance of the ship. They were amazing. My girls loved them. The cobblestone streets were so quaint. I LOVE SAN JUAN!!!
Leaving the ship was a little confusing. We had a time of 10am to leave the ship at Cape Liberty. They made an annoucement that they were running behind and to wait till our color was called and ours was Pink 1. We did not wait and took an elevator down to the 1st floor and the attendant said we could leave and we walked off the ship to a waiting shuttle. We arrived at a tented area and found our luggage immediately and went through customs and was driving out of the terminal by 10:30am. It was great and we were glad we did not wait to be called.
OVERALL: we had a great family vacation and loved the fact we did not have to fly. I'm not sure if we will do the Explorer again it depends on her ports next year.