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9 DAY BERMUDA AND EAST CARRIBEAN
Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
o 2011 cruise in review
9 night on Explorer of the Seas
Departing from Bayonne, NJ on April 28th 2011
o Cape Liberty Port in Bayonne, NJ.... This port is very easy to get to, but if you are coming from the west, do not follow the MapQuest directions. You can't make the left hand turn on the street you need to get to the port, so instead make the left onto Goldsborough. Then follow the signs all the way down till you see a toll to pay for parking ($170 for 9 days). Then we dropped our luggage off at big tents and parked the car. We walked back to the tents and went through check in very fast. We got there an hour before embarkation, so we had to wait till the bus picked us up to bring us to the ship. They start picking up at noon or one depending on the day so if you get there too early you can wait in the giant room that has bathrooms and vending machines. Royal Caribbean even has free cookies, coffee, tea, and lemonade while you are waiting.
Day 1 - In More
other reviews I have read that the ship looked old or damaged. But, I definitely did not see that. The ship looks great. I know it's no Allure or Oasis, but don't let the negative reviews of this ship stop you from going on it. I love the art work and pictures around the ship. It was very bright with comfortable colors, making you feel relaxed. Going under the bridge connecting Long Island and Staten Island was cool. Definitely better than you see in the pictures. Being at the front of ship was a great experience. Just wear a jacket if you are going to stand in the front helicopter spot like I did because the wind was terrible. Next year I'm going to stand on the top deck by the smoke stacks since that is the highest point of the ship.
Day 2 - Sailing day. Our first cruising day had very bad winds all morning and afternoon due to a passing storm. The ship was rocking hard, so there was no way to swim or take advantage of the sports deck. Luckily, the Adventure Ocean team does a great job at keeping the kids busy. My 5 year old son did not want to leave. They do all types of activities with the children, and my son liked all the adults who were there playing games with him. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Day 3 - Bermuda (Kings Wharf). It is great, comfortable, beautiful, and safe. The Horseshoe Bay Beach was great! This beach is one of the nicest beaches we have been to. There were foot paths to climb up the rocks, smooth pink sand to play in and walk on, perfect temperature water to lay in or swim, and caves to explore for the kids. When you get to the beach, take a right if you have small children. It's perfect because there are no waves and shallow water. It wasn't too crowded on either side. Food at the beach is very expensive, so bring your own, but the chairs and umbrellas are at good renting prices. The showers and changing rooms are very close and are nice with feet cleaners to remove sand. The locals are very nice and will answer any questions you have. Our driver gave us a lot of info while we drove and even put on his A.C. for us. If you are looking for a safe nice beach for the family or just want to relax on top of a rock or two to get sun, this is the place for you. o Day 4 - Sailing day. We had perfect weather for swimming or sunbathing. The pools are great and were not packed. The Adventure Beach for the kids was great. There is a small slide that my 1 year old loved. It dropped off into a couple inches of water. They also have a big slide which my 5 year old must have gone down a thousand times. I did think that the large slide was not open enough, so when it is, take advantage of it. I spent the night booking shore excursions for St. Thomas and St. Maarten. I also booked a cruise for 2012 on Explorer again for 9 nights. The Loyalty Ambassador helping us was very nice and helped us get one of the best rooms for my parents, who are coming with us next year.
o Day 7 – Puerto Rico. We have been to Puerto Rico before, and we have gone to the fortress and castle. My kids are too small to understand and respect the history of these two places, so this time we took the kids to the giant field in front of the castle to fly kites. First off, take a cab to the castle. It was only $16 for the 6 of us to go. You can walk, (We did last year.) but if you have small kids, take a bus or taxi. The kites are $4 each. So for something to do with kids, I suggest flying kites and then putting them back on the ship so you can walk around San Juan. There's not much to do and not many excursions in Puerto Rico, but it's my favorite place to just walk around and eat. The atmosphere is very welcoming. o Day 8 – Sailing Day. To get back to NJ, you need to do about 22 nots for 2 days. So, with that, it being May, and being 66 degrees outside, it was very windy and, I'd say, too cold to swim. I did play some mini golf, tried to relax, and read a little.
Day 9 – Sailing Day. Another windy day that was too cold to swim. The shows I went to were good. The juggler was funny and good for the kids. They had a blast watching. The ice show was better the one on Mariner of the Seas two years ago. Don't miss it. The 70s Dance Party was great, and the activities manager plays a perfect Austin Powers. He has been doing that act for a long time for amusement parks and shows. o o Leaving the port was not as easy as getting on board. After you get off the ship, you and your carry ons take a bus trip to your luggage, which I myself don't get. It is a very short distance, and I would have rather walked. Then you pick up your luggage and take it through customs. What a pain that was! Then you can either carry all your stuff to your car or have someone try to get it and load it up. Once you are loaded you try to inch your way out of there and not hit someone. Then you are home free. LOL.
In closing, I say go on Explorer of the Seas. It's good for all. I will say one bad thing, though. Don't bring a child under three. They do have things to do for them for a couple hours a day, but the other 90% of the day you will be either stuck in the small room like a prisoner or walking and carrying them around the ship while they cry and others around you are relaxing and having a fun vacation. Now, I know what you are thinking - take the kid to the pool. It's May and 4 of the 9 days we are either in the north or going north, and its 66 degrees. Then, within an hour my kids’ lips were purple in that pool. So, if you have small children, go in June or July when it's 88 the whole trip. Or take a 5 day trip, but 9 days with a one year old will make you feel like you need a another vacation from your vacation.
Day 5 – St. Maarten. It is nice to be able to drop the kids off on port days while you are doing excursions, etc. They will even bring them to the windjammer to eat lunch at no additional cost. They keep them till 5pm, which is great because some ports are not for young kids, like St. Maarten, so it's good to get off without the kids. St Maarten is not a rich place, and the houses, streets, and areas show the poverty the country has. But what the country does have is great excursions. Last year we did the rhino riders, and they were the best thing I have done in all 11 places I have been outside the USA. This year was way better because this year we did the ATV quad beach excursion. At first I was worried since you are dropped off from the bus in a bad looking area, and you have to drive the ATV's through a lot worse areas, but with one tour guide in the front and one bringing up the rear, they stop all traffic and you zip through the busy streets very fast. They provide helmets and show you how to use the very easy to learn ATV's. The tour guides even stop for about 2 minutes for some great pictures in a pretty safe area. Then before you know it, you’re doing some off road with mud slipping off your wheels and smashing into the face & body of the person behind you. (P.S. Wear shoes and pants you don't mind getting mud, dirt and sand on and wear sunglasses.) Then you get to Orient Beach, and on the left it's a topless area with lots of bars and rentals (chairs, umbrellas, jet skis etc.). A couple feet to the right is a nude beach. And I mean nude! Men, women, old, young - you name it. (Even the children are, so be aware of that. And they don't care either with guys standing there with their junk out and women sitting on chairs with legs open letting the cool ocean breeze hit them (where the sun doesn't normally shine. Ha). Beautiful beaches, but not many bathrooms. However, if you go far enough you will find one on a massage place with great Japanese sculptures. (Great pictures there.) Then, after 1 hour of naked people, you jump back on the ATV’s for a new route back to your bus to ride back to the ship. It was worth the money, and I would do it again if I was in St. Maarten.
Day 6 – St. Thomas. This is my 3rd time in St. Thomas. My first time we did the sky ride which is a must do with great views of all surrounding islands and the ships. The 2nd time we did an Eco Hike in St. John. Again, a must do if you don't mind walking in rough terrain. This time, we wanted to see a different side of St. Thomas and learn some history, so we did the Blackbeard Castle and 5 star island tour. It was only $40 a person, which is an amazing value for what you get to see. You are picked up at the pier and drive through busy streets. Before you know it, you are driving down quiet little streets and up hills with your first picture stop looking down at Charlotte Amalie. After some more driving you are at The Great House. There is a botanical garden (I normally don't like that kinda stuff, but this place was great.) with lots to see. There is a trail with tons of plants and birds. The Great House also has small waterfalls, beautiful views, a very old house with antique furniture, and a beautiful ballroom. They also had free rum punch for you to enjoy along with water & soda you can purchase. After a half hour or so, you’re back on the bus and heading towards another picture stop overlooking Magens Bay. Then we were off to Blackbeards Castle and rum factory. First off, you get more free rum which was great, and you get to see how it's made. Then you are free to search his estate and castle on your own. There are lots of statutes and a pool with a bar that has food, as well. If you keep going on foot, you make it to an amber museum. For what I paid, it was worth it. I got a little more than I expected on this excursion.