Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by JigWig: Christmas Cracker
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
We are a couple aged 29 & 35 with no kids. As I have always wanted to get away from the bad winter weather over the festive season, a cruise to the Southern Caribbean seemed a sensible option! We started our journey from Newcastle Upon Tyne in North East England on 19th December. Firstly, our connecting flight to London was grounded for 3 hours due to heavy snow... resulting in us missing our connection to New York and spending the night on the floor at Heathrow airport... followed by all airports in N.Y. closing... and all hope of reaching Cape Liberty in time for our 4pm sailing went down the pan! Luckily, all was not lost! We managed to get transferred on to a flight to Miami that morning and then on to Puerto Rico (our first port of call). RCC even arranged a 3 night stay for us at the Caribe Hilton at no extra charge.
The ship was bigger than I'd ever imagined when we embarked in San Juan. I just wish I could say the same for our Interior Stateroom! We could barely More move around once our suitcases were delivered and it was strictly one person at a time in the bathroom. But I did like the way that they managed to cram little shelves in every alcove.
We headed for the Windjammer (fairly quiet as most had gone ashore in San Juan) and marvelled over the amazing choice of food and impeccable service. In my opinion, the food served here was far better than anything served in the dining rooms! It also sadly proved that obesity/sheer greed is alive and well amongst most Americans.
Our first port of call was St.Thomas on Christmas Eve. The weather was stormy the whole all day and the port area wasn't the prettiest. Did some tax-free shopping and stumbled upon the bank/market location where scenes from Weekend at Bernies 2 was filmed (an unexpected treat for me!) After enjoying the on-board Xmas carol concert that night, we headed for the Chamber and enjoyed their overpriced drinks (no toilets in the nightclub which was very annoying - especially as I was asked for my i.d. every time I walked back in!)
We were at sea on Xmas day which was an unreal experience. There I was, sunbathing in my bikini and santa hat listening to calypso carols! Xmas dinner in the dining room was disappointing - chewy turkey and tasteless roast potatoes. I did enjoy the dining staff's singing and merriment at the end of the meal however.
Boxing day we arrived in Barbados. Everything was closed so we spent the day at beautiful Carlisle beach. Back on the boat, RCC didn't make a big deal of Boxing day which was a shame (do Americans not celebrate this?). Great atmosphere on board on New Years Eve despite the rocky seas. Sick bags suddenly appeared around the boat and I don't think that it was for too much champagne! The Royal Promenade was packed out for the countdown though I did hear there were celebrations in other bars.
Best parts of the other ports we visited; Antigua - Nelson's Dockyard National Park, St. Kitts - beautiful scenery, Dominica - Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls, St Maarten - Princess Juliana Airport and 'That Yoda Guy' shop. Don't pay for any RCC excursions - hire a taxi for the day and the local driver will take you anywhere you like for an agreed fee.
My partner had a gripe about fleas in our Stateroom towards the end of the holiday. After gaining several bites over night, he complained and was assured that the bedding would be replaced and room checked. When the biting continued, the Housekeeper claimed it could not be the room and the bites must have been picked up whilst we were ashore! Apart from the flea incident I cannot fault the cleanliness of our room. Our attendant, Emily, was excellent and always had time for a few words. I was shocked to find out that RCC do not pay their cleaning staff and have to rely on guest's generosity for their wages!
Disembarking at Cape Liberty was stress free. Our luggage was waiting exactly where it was supposed to be and immigration was a breeze. I've never been so cold in my life than at that port so I'm pleased everything went smoothly!
Despite many experienced cruisers commenting on how RCC aren't what the used to be (and that they are only after your money) we had a fantastic time and will definitely cruise with RCC again! Less
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