Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox
Your Ultimate Cruise Guide

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by chattyCathie: Explorer -- Bermuda/E Caribbean -- FABULOUS VACATION!


chattyCathie
1 Review
Member Since 2009
20 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 4.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities Not Rated
Entertainment 5.0
Family & Children 1.0
Fitness & Recreation 5.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 5.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 4.0
Value for Money 5.0

Compare Prices on Explorer of the Seas Bermuda Cruises

Explorer -- Bermuda/E Caribbean -- FABULOUS VACATION!

Sail Date: July 2010
Destination: Bermuda
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)

We're in our 50s; cruised with son and his 17-year-old friend and another couple, good friends in their 50s. Son's friend and couple were first-time cruisers but are already talking about 'next time.' We're all from NE Ohio and drove the day before embarkation to Parsippany, NJ. Stayed overnight in the cheap but adequate Days Inn; had a short drive to the pier, arriving around 10:30 AM. Check-in was easy and we were soon in the Windjammer having lunch prior to 12 noon. Spent the rest of the day exploring the ship with the first-time cruisers in our group and watching the priceless expressions on their faces. They were awed by the R Promenade costume parade the first night. We cruised on Explorer 2 years ago on the Canada/NE itinerary, so we were familiar with her. We had a balcony on Deck 7 just aft of the hump but since we had an extra person this time we opted for 2 smaller cabins on Deck 8, 3 cabins altogether. Explorer did seem to have been spiffed up in drydock earlier this year. More A beautiful ship!

This was a fabulous vacation for us. We spent the first 10 months of last year caring for my elderly, terminally ill mother in our home. This vacation was just what we needed!

The first whole day was spent at sea, getting to Bermuda. We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast in the MDR, shopped, read, napped and just relaxed. We had all of our evening meals in the MDR, Da Gama, table 474 (I think), a ten-topper right next to the window. Our tablemates were a family of 4 who only joined us once. JoRhonda from Trinidad and Tobago was our main waiter (waitress) and Corinna from Romania was our ass't waiter (waitress). Corinna was always upbeat and smiling, very fun, but JoRhonda was at the top of her game. We enjoyed excellent service every evening in the MDR and these ladies kept us coming back. Felt like we were leaving friends behind when the cruise ended.

Must also mention our cabin attendant, Gerald. He was very friendly, always asking if we needed anything. He took care of the teenager's cabin with a smile and said they were pretty tidy for teens (Aw, I'll bet he says that to all of the pax!). Our cabin was always clean; we enjoyed the towel animals every night.

We loved the shows, the Ice show, the comedians, the juggler, the singers, and Jimmy Rhodes, the CD. He was great! Lots of energy; he really seemed to enjoy his job.

There were a few things on this cruise that we really enjoyed that we didn't remember from our cruise 2 years ago-->Captain's welcome champagne reception on the R Promenade; 70s disco party on the R Prom; the Canada Day luncheon/huge cake on the Promenade again.

Should state that our kids didn't care for the children's programs; they felt that there wasn't much for kids their age (17) but we had to sign for them to ice skate, climb the rock wall, etc. While they enjoyed the cruise enormously, they felt they were 'in-between,' not yet 18 but too old for the kids program.

As I said earlier, last year was very sad and stressful, and we didn't take a vacation. I think the combination of a beautiful ship, a great son, fantastic friends and outstanding service, food, entertainment, shore trips, ports, everything that makes cruising fun, made for a wonderful, fabulous, relaxing, exhilerating, superb vacation! Can't wait to do it again.

*There was only one problem* 'Express debarkation.' It was very poorly done, not at all coordinated. We did this 2 years ago and it was effortless-->we waited in Studio B until our group # was called, we walked off the ship and onto the shuttle, and were in our car and on the road by 9:00 AM. This time, we found jammed elevators. We were supposed to go to Deck 1 but when the elevator doors opened we were told by staff that we weren't cleared to leave the ship and we couldn't get off the elevator. We were told to take the elevator to Deck 2 to wait with the other passengers. Our party had to take several different elevators at different times and we had to split up. It was very warm and crowded, with people and luggage on stairs up to Deck 3. What a mess! RCCL really needs to fix this. (Notice that there wasn't a drop-down box to rate this part of the cruise!) *But that's our only complaint; won't let it ruin our great memories of this trip.* Less


Read more Explorer of the Seas cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic's Explorer of the Seas Review >>

Cabin review: Explorer of the Seas Interior Stateroom Deck 6

We loved the shows, the Ice show, the comedians, the juggler, the singers, and Jimmy Rhodes, the CD. He was great! Lots of energy; he really seemed to enjoy his job. There were a few things on this cruise that we really enjoyed that we didn't remember from our cruise 2 years ago-->Captain's welcome champagne reception on the R Promenade; 70s disco party on the R Prom; the Canada Day luncheon/huge cake on the Promenade again. Should state that our kids didn't care for the children's programs; they felt that there wasn't much for kids their age (17) but we had to sign for them to ice skate, climb the rock wall, etc. While they enjoyed the cruise enormously, they felt they were 'in-between,' not yet 18 but too old for the kids program. As I said earlier, last year was very sad and stressful, and we didn't take a vacation. I think the combination of a beautiful ship, a great son, fantastic friends and outstanding service, food, entertainment, shore trips, ports, everything that makes cruising fun, made for a wonderful, fabulous, relaxing, exhilerating, superb vacation! Can't wait to do it again. *There was only one problem* 'Express debarkation.' It was very poorly done, not at all coordinated. We did this 2 years ago and it was effortless-->we waited in Studio B until our group # was called, we walked off the ship and onto the shuttle, and were in our car and on the road by 9:00 AM. This time, we found jammed elevators. We were supposed to go to Deck 1 but when the elevator doors opened we were told by staff that we weren't cleared to leave the ship and we couldn't get off the elevator. We were told to take the elevator to Deck 2 to wait with the other passengers. Our party had to take several different elevators at different times and we had to split up. It was very warm and crowded, with people and luggage on stairs up to Deck 3. What a mess! RCCL really needs to fix this. (Notice that there wasn't a drop-down box to rate this part of the cruise!) *But that's our only complaint; won't let it ruin our great memories of this trip.*

Port and Shore Excursions


First port was Bermuda. We'd never been there before and our friend really wanted to see the fort, so we spent much of the morning there. The place covers several acres and does a good job explaining 'Prisoners in Paradise,' the British system of penal colonies, using 'convicts' to build fortresses on British territory. The Commissioners House was interesting; it sits up on a bluff and overlooks the pier. We also saw the crew doing lifeboat drills from the veranda of the House.

We returned to the ship and went to the 'Jammer for lunch; we then walked back to a small beach near the fort and spent a few hours there. There are chairs/umbrellas/snorkel gear/jet skis for rent here. The water was warm and blue. Beautiful! Back to the ship for showers and naps.


Only had a few hours in SJ before we had to head back for the long cruise to NJ; ship departed at 1:30 om. Walked to San Cristobal fort and started to explore, but it was HOT and HUMID. It appeared to have rained just before we pulled into port, as if it wasn't humid enough before. After about 30 min at the fort, my friend and I decided that we'd had enough and needed to do more shopping, so we left the guys. We headed to the shopping district a short walk from the fort. We got our 'free' jewelry with coupons from the ship. I gave all of my free stuff to my friend for her dtrs and sisters; she had 4 semi-precious gemstone necklaces, 2 sterling frog necklaces, and 2 gold charm bracelets, all free. We stopped at the Coach store and they had great prices, better than the outlets here at home; they gave everyone who entered a 20% off coupon. We picked up several things, including a bag and matching wristlet for my friend's law student dtr.

Back to the ship in the sweltering heat for showers.

Read 1378 San Juan Reviews

First time on St. Maarten. As the shore excursions we wanted were sold out, we walked to the nearby taxi stand and booked an island tour for only $25 each, a real bargain. Our driver was Lloyd. He took us to an air-conditioned store in his air-conditioned taxi where we shopped for inexpensive clothing and souvenirs; the teenagers each got a fedora and our friends picked up things for their children and grandchildren. We then proceeded to Orient Beach. Had a few beers (pop for the kids) at a little shack at the area where the 'regular' beach and 'nude beach' meet. While we were technically on the 'regular' beach, there was a lot of drift. As an RN for 27 years, there isn't much I haven't seen, but there weren't any tan lines! The teenagers were mortified by the nude elderly people. My friend kept saying 'Those people must have great self-esteem!' Took a picture of our group in front of the Nude Beach sign-->quite a thrill for we Midwesterners!

It was HOT in the Caribbean. Even our taxi driver, Lloyd, said it was hot. He gave us a nice history of the island and pointed out many landmarks along the way. We started on the Dutch side of the island, of course, since that's where the international pier is, and made our way over to the French side (where Orient beach is, of course). We stopped at the French Market and our friends picked up a few more items for their family. We enjoyed the tour and would recommend Lloyd.

The drivers on St. Maarten are crazy! There's only one traffic light on the entire island, and we didn't see it. STOP seems to be a suggestion, at best. At one point our taxi followed a convoy of tiny, 3-wheeled vehicles; their escort, in the same type of vehicle, continuously drove into the oncoming lane and herded the cars along. I was certain that someone would be killed on several occasions. Our neighbors drove those cars on their cruise and Feb and said someone in their group rolled the car but were unharmed. I don't recommend driving; leave it to one of the locals.

The tour lasted about 3-3.5 hours. At the taxi stand drop-off we asked about jet skis and were told they were available at a hotel on the water nearby, quickly reachable by taxi. We went back to the ship, dropped off our shopping, and changed into swimsuits. When we got back to the taxi stand, we encountered a different driver, Ninian Marcellen akd Charlie from Charlie's Taxi Service, mobile 559-580-0946, home 599-547-4819. When we told Charlie we wanted to jet ski, he thought they might have already closed. He called the place we had in mind and yes, they were closed, but he called another friend and got us in. We didn't realize that sundown is shortly after 6:00 pm and many shops and businesses close down by then. Charlie took us down a few very narrow streets, thru a short alley, and out onto the beach where his friends with a jet-ski business were waiting for us. They had beach chairs and umbrellas waiting for us, thanks to Charlie's call. We got 2 jetskis, one for the kids and one for our friends; the 4 of them were having such a good time that DH and me just stayed onshore and watched them. After jetskiing for 1/2 hr ($55, reasonable), we had the jetski guys call Charlie and he came and picked us up and returned us to the ship. He had placed towels on the seats of the taxi for us, knowing we'd be damp-->all for $3 pp each way. He got a generous, well-earned tip.

Back to the ship for showers, dinner, shows.

.


Disembarked at St. Thomas and immediately joined our excursions on the pier, well marked and easy to find-->DH and I did the glass-bottom boat ('semi-submarine') and Coral World; the kids and our friends did the Sea Trek Helmet dive. We all got on crazy, open-air taxis that careened over to the other side of the island, about 20-25 minutes. Felt like we were in a video game. The drivers instructed children to sit in the middle of the bench seats; there were times we were sure we were going to be flung off the seat.

Enjoyed the boat and the rest of our group loved the helmet dive. Our friends got the DVD and our kids used the waterproof cameras we brought with us (Walmart). Got the pics developed yesterday and they're fantastic.

After returning to the ship, the kids went parasailing with the two men in the boat as observers. The kids took the disposable cameras up with them and got great pictures. DH got the whole sail on video. Priceless!

My friend really wanted to do some shopping, so we got a taxi at the pier and went into town. I took her to Mr. Tablecloth and she really enjoyed the selection; got some linens for her mom and sisters. We then did more shopping, going up and down the little streets (again, it was VERY HOT, in the 90s the whole time). Went to Reiss (spelling?) and got 2 large bottles of Cointreau for $37, which would have been $60 @ here, 2 bottles of Malibu rum (product of Canada, BTW), and a bottle Virgin Is liqueur-->can have 5 bottles duty-free from St. Thomas if one of them is from the USVI.

Back to the ship for showers, dinner and shows.

Read 2342 St. Thomas Reviews

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@cruisecritic.com to your address book.
We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.