Canada & New England
Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
The rain held off until we were ready to leave Bayonne, the ship was rocking a little the first 2 days on and off. This time I was traveling with my cousin. We arrived at the port unloaded our bags, checked in and were on the ship within 30 minutes. I read so many complaints about the port and checking in. Of all the times I've cruised I've never had a problem.
Normally my husband and I always get a balcony, but we decided to try the inside promenade stateroom for a change. Big mistake, our cabin was nice, it was clean, noticeably smaller than the balcony cabins. It was nice to be able to look out the window and people watch but I would much rather been sitting on a chair on my balcony. Alvin was our cabin steward, he was very nice, it seemed as though he was always waiting in the hallway to let us back into our cabin. It got to be a joke after a while.
At A Glance:
I have never sailed to Canada and New England so I wasn't sure what to More
expect. the ship was beautiful as usual. First thing that we both noticed was the huge amount of "Seniors" on board, with walkers, wheel chairs and scooters. I'm not bashing the older folks, I'm just saying there were ALOT of them on this itinerary. I thought it was strange that the shops only offered items from the Caribbean, I think it make more sense to offer stuff from where you are actually cruising to, even the post cards were from the Caribbean, on the last day they pulled out some cute children's T Shirts from Canada and Bar Harbor. The miniature golf course was all new, the last cruise my husband and I went on it was really showing its age. I have never been on a cruise where the outside decks were blocked off so often, there were a couple of windy nights but some nights it wasn't so bad and they wouldn't let us out, which means that everyone ends up inside on sea days with not a lot of choices. I love to sit by the windows in Dizzy's Lounge or The Ninth Hole, not this time, every window seat was taken ALL day long by seniors who were sleeping, knitting, or playing bridge, and I mean ALL day long, it was like that at most of the bars.
There were a lot of first times on this trip, we also tried the My Time Dining option, that lasted 2 nights. Although I had reserved online a table by a window, for 2, at 7pm every night there was a problem with availability. The first night the gentleman said "let me check to see if your table is ready" he came back and whispered something in another mans ear, and then said "please follow me" We were seated at a table right in front of the double doors of the dining area. It kindof felt like where they put the overflow. The 2ND night I asked for a different table, this time he said the table I'd requested online was available. Great! Problem resolved! NOT! After dinner I asked him if that was to be our table for the remainder of the trip. He said no, probably not, and suggested moving our dinner time to 8pm so that he may be able to accommodate us, we agreed. However the next morning at breakfast a man approached me and asked if I was satisfied with my dinner service so far. I explained what had happened with My Time Dining and told him I'd prefer to be moved to the main seating at 8pm. Done! No problem. After hearing other peoples conversations we realized what was going wrong with My Time Dining, it wasn't RCCL's problem, it was the cruisers. A lot of people were under the impression that they could go there anytime and be seated, many times leaving those of us who reserved a time with no table. We heard 2 couples talking at the ice show. One lady asked the other, aren't you supposed to be eating at 5:30? The reply was, "our reservation is for 5:30, but we'll go when we're hungry, after all it is MY TIME DINING" Argh!
I've always enjoyed room service on the Explorer but the food was not good this time. We got breakfast one morning just because we could. The bacon and potatoes were so dry, and the eggs were funky. We rented a movie another night and ordered artichoke dip and honey stung chicken, we were so happy to see they offered the honey stung chicken, normally you can only get it at the Windjammer the first day. The dip was OK, the chicken was not edible, I was much like chicken jerky. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
In Bar Harbor we were tendered. The ride ashore that morning was really, really chilly. We probably left to early but we heard tendering might take a while if we waited till later as there was another ship with us in this port. We hung out on a park bench for a while, people watching and waiting for the sun to warm us up. We took a walk down the shore walk, along the ocean and some beautiful homes and resorts, we ended up at the top of Main Street and started walking back toward the ferry dock, stopping at most of the stores along the way. There are a lot of interesting shops with cute stuff to spend your money on. We ate at The West Street Cafe, it was delicious too! My cousin had the crab cakes and said they were the best she'd ever had. I got the lobster special, $19.99 for clam chowder, lobster, fries, cole slaw and blueberry pie. The pie wasn't that great, for some reason they pop it in the microwave quick, it kind of ruined it. Bar Harbor was a favorite, I will definitely return one day.
Sorry Boston lovers, I'm just not a fan. Alot of the excursions were really expensive and I'd done enough trolley and bus rides, our original plan was to hop the Salem Ferry and head across the water. After being stuck in traffic in Halifax we were worried about going off on our own and the excursion to Salem was $64.00. So we bought round trip bus tickets that would take us from the ship to Quincy Market. After getting off the bus we were a little taken aback, what were we going to do here all day? It was nothing but stores and food. A girl stopped and said can I help you? Do you have any questions, so I asked where a couple of places were and she was helpful, when I asked if she knew where the Salem Ferry dock was she had no idea. So we headed off to where she said the aquarium was and low and behold, we found the Salem Ferry. So we quick bought tickets and were on our way. Turned out that the ferry to Salem is just around the corner from the aquarium, so if you can get from the ship to Quincy Market just cross the main street, head for the water and you can't miss it. The ferry leaves Boston every 2 hours on even #'s and leaves Salem every 2 hours on the odd #'s. So we had missed the 8am ferry and got on the 10am instead, since the ride over is just about an hour this only left us 2 hours to see the town. I'd been there before and knew just where we needed to go. Unless it's an extremely hot day, do not sit outside on the top deck, trust me. When getting off the ferry in Salem there is a trolley there, you can buy tickets and hop on and off all day, we decided to walk it. We turned left on Derby Street and headed for town. There are a lot of cute shops in Salem, we stepped into a lot of them. It was just a week before Halloween so there were people in costumes and lots of witches, we turned right on Washington toward The Common, more stores and street vendors, took some pictures, saw the Witch Museum, started back to the ferry dock stopping in more little shops. I love Salem and Manchester By the Sea, so I would love to go back when I have more time to enjoy it. And we made it back in plenty of time to catch a bus back to the ship.
When you get off the ship here you are in a market where locals sell there goods. The first thing I noticed were the prices, they were considerably higher than the other ports we had visited, shopping isn't really what I go on vacation for, but I was looking for a little something to take home for the family. We went outside and turned to the right and started walking along what they call the boardwalk. Somehow we ended up taking the hike UP, and when I say UP, I'm not kidding, to the Citadel, after complaining most of the way I was glad we did it, but next time I might pay someone 10 bucks to drop me off. We didn't stay long because we had booked an excursion to Peggy's Cove and we were leaving the ship at 2pm. Our guide "Ellen" was fantastic. We were in a big tour bus and we were on the extension of it. The big bus windows made taking in the sites very nice and the guide filled every moment on the way to and from Peggy's cove with interesting facts and stories. The microphone made hearing her no problem even in the back. I never new that 12,0000 people were grounded in Halifax on September 11 and the huge undertaking it was to clear all 12,0000 people of teresstic activity. How town's people took in the 12,000 people since all hotels were booked until they could leave which took weeks for some. Ellen even gave us her email at the close of the tour if we wanted additional info. And a recipe for a blueberry desert. And Peggy's Cove was just so beautiful! We walked all around the boulders down through the little town to where Peggy used to live, I took a ton of pictures. It was a little windy that day, but sunny and clear. On the way back to the ship we passed Ivan Frazier outside of his house, an author who had written 3 books, 2 of them about Peggy's life at the Cove, we bought them before getting back on the ship, I enjoyed reading both of them. We also made a stop at the cemetery where some of the drowning victims of the Titanic were laid to rest.
We booked a light house tour on our own with Portland Discover Tours but the weather wasn't good enough for them to risk taking a boat out so we did there trolley tour instead. I really enjoyed it, he took us all through town and then out to The Portland Headlight Lighthouse, it was beautiful. Then back to town where we walked around for a while and had lunch at Dimillo's on the water. Fried clams and lobster rolls, delicious!
I've read in some chat rooms that people didn't enjoy St John, and let me tell you they were blasted a few times by those who love St John, so hold onto your seats people. I DID NOT LIKE ST JOHN NB, there I said it! I was willing to give it ago, so here's my story. There is nothing worth looking at near the ship. We made our way to what they call the city market and walked all through it, ending up in the 3 story mall that really had no stores that would be interesting to a tourist, the part where the food vendors and local vendors were was nice. I thought it was a plus that you could get from one place to another walking in an enclosed walk way. The local vendors in the tent right next to the ship was our highlight, we did find some nice things there, and the people were very friendly. We ate lunch across the street at Steamer's, I personally didn't like it, I come from NJ where our fried calamari comes with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, they offer tarter sauce or cocktail sauce, the lobster dinners looked good, what lobster isn't good?