My sister and I cruised on Oct. 28th on the Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty (Bayonne, N.J.) to Labadee, Dominican Republic, St.Thomas, and St.Kitts. One of the things we enjoyed doing while onboard was relaxing at the serenity pool and hot tubs. The casino was fabulous and stayed open late; which on many other cruises,the casino closed early! There was a "chocolate buffet that lined both sides of the Prominade Deck and was delicious. They also had a Caribbean night on the Prominade deck which offered samplings of island food! There was a "Mardi Gras" with great music, costumes, dancing, singing, and confetti that had passenger's joining in! The ice show was great, however, my sister and I were passenger's on the same ship which went to different ports, and we found it was a better show 2 years ago.
We took this cruise since we enjoyed all the amenities on the cruise we took 2 years ago, and thought that it was an opportunity to visit other ports. We enjoyed Labadee, although we were not going to get off in that particular port. We were invited to share a private cabanna with some wonderful new friends we met at our dining room table. Otherwise, we pretty much decided not to get off with the knowledge of "cholera" that had spread. It was a beautiful day. The island is truly beautiful. The water is crystal clear; although it has a lot of rocks in the water. There were many beautiful things to buy at the marketplace. We had a cook-out on the beach which was just "fabulous".
There were different areas on the beach including a water park for children, a zip line, and a roller coaster which I heard was one that could be controlled as far as speed.
We did not get off at Dominican Republic due to the tender. We heard that it was a challenge for anyone who had problems walking, since there was a big dip to get into the tender.
We did get off at St.Thomas and loved the shopping and weather was great!
We took a tour at St. Kitt's and went to te botanical gardens and saw how "batik" was made. It was fascinating. We felt that we did not have enough time on the tour to spend sufficient time at the stops the guide made. We were taken to a small area outside of the "rainforest" and there were several people with monkeys (taking photos) and you could hold the monkey and have your picture taken and you could purchase had made items! There were about 17 people in the van, and they were quite impatient to move on. I would recommend you make sure that there is air conditioning on the tour you take. We were told that there was a/c, but there wasn't any. The tour guide tried her best to do what she could do, but people in the back of the van could not hear her as she did not have a speaker! As the day went on (4 hours) passengers became irrate and annoyed at everything with it being so hot. Eventually, the only thing that gave us a breeze was when the van was moving and the windows were opened fully!
The food at Portofino's was fabulous! Make sure to try the dish with the lobster, scallops, and shrimp! The minnestrone soup is "the best" I have ever had, and the samplings platter of desserts is something to definitely try!
The buffet had sufficient choices to pick from! The best things in the buffet was the salad bar, the pork loin and turkey. What I did not enjoy was the first day when people like myself had to hunt for a table for a very long time. It first cleared out a bit at about 1 p.m. when people were allowed to go to their rooms. The food, quite honestly was not very good at that time.
In the dining room, the service was great, and the waiter, assistant, and the entire staff were more than attentive. We were in the Magellan Dining Room.
The food "fair". I think what happened is that there are so many people that they must reheat the food or "nuke" it. So I had salmon one night and it needed a hack saw to eat it. The staff offered to take it back, but I felt that it should not have been brought out that way. A friend had chicken, and experienced the same thing. As I said, the staff offered to take it back and bring something else, but by that time, I did not want to do that.
To share with you what a great staff they have in the dining room, one night I had dessert that I truly liked "it was like apple streudel". I asked the waiter to save a piece for me for the following night. He said "it is a done deal". That made me more than happy! Although our friends decided to go to Portofino's for dinner, we decided it would be good to go for dessert to the dining room. There was, I believe a "special" dessert being served that night.
When I arrived at the table, I was told by the waiter that he was sorry and that there wasn't any of the apple dessert left. I was rather upset, since he said he put it away. After expressing my disappointment in his promising that he already put it away. I said I would eat the raspberry mousse. I was told that he ran all the way up to "Johnny Rocket's" to get me something that would take the place of what he promised. Unfortunately, he nuked it and it "died". However, I could not get over what he did to make up for what happened.
I thanked him and of course took care of him and the other's who made my sister's birthday a wonderful celebration.
The amenities (the small things) Royal Caribbean used to give such as "chocolate on the pillow" at night and the towel animals at night (now only every other night) were missed. I know we were told that is what they did to save a great deal of money. But it is what passenger's who have been loyal to Royal Caribbean like and miss! Thinking how Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are like "one' company we noticed that Celebrity get treated differently, when coming back to the ship! I do not think it is something that would cost a great deal to have cold water and a cool towel waiting after a long hot day!
It would make a big difference in the return of passengers to Royal Caribbean!
Royal Caribbean is always talking about how they consider passenger's as "family"..
The cafe on the Prominade where they have an assortment of fresh fuits, coffee, tea, pizza, and a variety of sandwiches and desserts is wonderful.
The shops are really nice and the Jewelry Shop staff are very informative and have some beautiful pieces and prices.
All in all, we met some wonderful new friends and that is a big part of what made our trip wonderful!