Getting out of snowbound NJ was great--but getting into the terminal was horrible--horrible signage leading (or misleading) to the terminal, followed by 45 minutes or more waiting in traffic!
Once there, getting onto the ship was a breeze.
The seas days featured some rough seas, but the Caribbean weather was perfect.
Labadee is a nice beach, but all the limited excursions are overpriced, because RCL has a monopoly. The snorkel excursion took us to nice coral which was sadly missing fish. The bbq was fine.
Samana offered a nice whale watch/beach excursion (but $93 was steep). Unfotunately, the whale boats were not very stable--lots of people were seasick--and used none of the sonar or radio means employed by Boston area whale watches to get boats quickly to whales. Instead, they use Moby Dick techology--spotting "There she blows!" then heading there.
St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Martin were all excellent ports, More
with lots to do, from scuba to ziplining to nature tours (and no other ship in town prior to St. Martin). As always, lots of people just shopped at the stores found in every port--and many, especially senikors, stayed on the ship often or always.
Trade Labadee and Samana for, say, Tortola and St. Croix and this would be a fabulous cruise; it was very good instead.
The food was better than many reviews indicate--not good restaurant quality, but ok restaurant quality. The Windjammer offers a station of south Asian options. Yes, portions are smaller than in past years, and waiters do not mention the option of ordering more than 1 entree (although you can).
Midnight buffets are virtually gone--but who needs to eat that much that late?
The "pick the ingredients and we will mix you a salad" option in the dining room at lunch was very popular--and much better than the breakfast or lunch entrees in the dining room (why are their pancakes so awful--they are not a complicated item).
Because the crowd was older than most, early seating was moved up to 530, a big pain on port days. And 3 formal nights was excessive and served no purpose.
The entertainment was also heavily aimed at the 70+ crowd--50's songs; the writer of the Happy Days Theme (who seemed to think that was the equivalent of writing A Chorus Line) mcoking Barry Manilow for being gay; etc.
In the lounges, the classical guitarist was excellent and the Latin band very good; no rock and roll bands.
The usual activities--Love and Marriage Game; Quest; ice shows--were all very good. Showing the Jets vs. the Steelers in the ice rink on a big screen drew a very large and raucous crowd.
The crew were all very nice and hardworking and the passengers very pleasant. A surprisingly large number of passengers were from England; Australia; Canada; Denmark; and Germany, along with many Russians (although possibly from Brighton Beach, NY which has a very large Russian community).
Perks for Diamond or Diamond plus passengers seem to have increased in the past few years--reserved sections at Labadee; poolside; the ice rink; the theater; etc. Fair enough way to build loyalty.
Disembarkation was smooth.
I would take the cruise again without hesitation--the price was very good for a very good cruise! Less
Explorer of the Seas Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean