Sailed on the 5-night Explorer cruise to Bermuda on 13 August. We live in Manhattan and decided to take public transportation to the port. We took the subway to 33rd street and from there the PATH to Hoboken and the Light-Rail to Bayonne. Then we called a taxi at the station, which took about 20 minutes to collect us and from there another 10 minutes to the ship. Door-to-door it took us almost 2 hours from midtown Manhattan to the port, however the journey was easy. Once at the terminal (we arrived around noon) the check-in was quick and we boarded the shuttle bus to the ship. The whole process from arriving at the cruise terminal to the ship took approximately 15-20 minutes.
We boarded the Explorer and as our stateroom was not ready yet, we went to have lunch at the Windjammer. Contrary to many reviews, we found the food to be very good for an embarkation buffet and we chose to eat at the Windjammer for the rest of our cruise. Therefore I cannot submit a review for the dining room. For the rest of our cruise we found the food in the Windjammer to be good, a bit repetitive after a while and better on sea days that on days in port. As we were travelling with a 6-year old, we liked the convenience of choosing the time we would like to eat instead of being restricted by the dining room times (we tried the my-time dining, however it was already booked-out by the time we tried to register). We also ate lunch at Johnny Rockets on the last day of the cruise, which was fine. After 1:00 pm the queue is enormous and was still long at 3:00 pm, so try to go around 12:30 pm in order to be seated quickly.
We booked an outside stateroom on Deck 2 midship, which was quiet and functional.
Bermuda was the only port-of-call scheduled for this cruise and we almost did not make it, as tropical storm Gert was looming close to the island for most of Sunday. The Captain made several announcements throughout the day, stating that they were in constant contact with Miami to make a final decision as to proceeding to Bermuda or turning around to go to another port. Finally on Monday at 9:00 am the Captain made the decision to sail into Bermuda and we arrived around noon, three hours behind schedule. Please refer to reviews on the ports-of-call for Bermuda. It is a beautiful island with plenty of activities and tours to suit all. We bought a 2-day ferry and bus pass at the terminal and spent the first day in Hamilton and the second day at the Snorkel Park Beach. We would have done more if it weren’t for the heat and humidity in Bermuda on those two days.
Entertainment was excellent with two performances by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers and the Ice Show. The 3 Comedians on board were also very good. There are bands playing throughout the ship, all of them excellent. The Cruise Director Jimmy Rhodes lacks a bit of charisma and talks very, very fast, which at times makes it difficult to follow what he is saying.
There were about 1000 kids sailing on this cruise and although the AO staff tried their best, they seemed to be extremely nervous and on the edge most of the time. The sign-in and sign-out procedures were complicated as the AO was clearly understaffed and the existing staff was so nervous about letting a child out by mistake that the whole process took very long. The facilities are small for such a large number of kids and although the staff did their best to take them out and about on the ship, the facilities felt crammed when the activities took place in there.
We asked for early debarkation and we were off the ship by 8:30 and carried our own bags. Process went smoothly.