Each year I travel with my children (ages 14 & 12)to all inclusive resorts in Mexico & the Caribbean. This year I wanted to try something different! I chose the 5 night Bermuda cruise out of Bayonne on the Explorer of the Seas because of its proximity to my home.
I traveled with my sons and a co-worker with her 11 year old granddaughter. I had a large ocean view stateroom and my friend had a promenade stateroom - both on deck 8. I found the room to be adequate for our needs and the bathroom exceeded my expectations. Our stateroom attendant (Matthew) was always available to us and had our rooms turned over promptly each day.
I have only cruised once before (15 years ago) and it was on an upscale ship with only 300 passengers, so I was not sure what to expect on such a large ship. My first impression was not good. Upon embarking (which by the way is so organized & efficient) we were sent to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. Please realize, there are 3500 people boarding the ship over a several hour period so it was mayhem! Finding a table was not easy....people were walking around with plates of food and I felt like I was in a high school cafeteria. The experience was so awful that with the exception of 1 breakfast, we avoided going there. The food was fine and most people raved about it....I just prefer the dining room experience & service to the cafeteria buffet.
Once we got settled in our stateroom, I threw on a pair of sneakers and decided to go exploring. The ship is HUGE. Tons of walking and lots to do. While the ship is definitely looking a bit tired, it was impeccably clean. As far as the staff, I can not say enough. Best service---PERIOD. Outstanding!
The food in the dining room was EXCELLENT. The boys and I dined on Roast Duck, Fillet, Lobster tail, Escargot - you get the idea! We looked forward to dinner every night! We also had some amazing lunches there as well.....Gnocchi w/Gorgonzola and a fantastic beef carpaccio! My son still talks about the food!!!!! I thankfully did not gain weight mostly in part to all of the walking I did on the ship! :) :) :)
As far as the excursions, we did the beach party dinner which was just a short walk from the ship. It was a bit hokey and expensive for what it was, but the kids LOVED it. The service was not good and if I had been able to get a bit of wine I probably would have had a better time. Again, if you have kids, they will truly enjoy it. My friend & her granddaughter did the helmet dive and the glass bottom boat/snorkel trip and enjoyed them both very much.
So...as you can tell, my first impression was not lasting. My family and friends had a wonderful time on this trip and we will definitely be cruising with Royal Caribbean again!