First time on a ship this big. First time in a Junior Suite. Neither disappointed us. The walk in closet was, for me, a dressing room. So much room that I only unpacked into that closet. I would bring a magnet mounted mirror for the closet wall, next time. Appreciated the large tub, w/my own bath salts. Appreciated the in room electric coffee pot w/essentials. Made an excellent cup of coffee. Asked for and received the ice bucket w/refills throughout the cruise. Refrigerator w/room for some of our added beverages. Didn't need a power strip, but did use a multi-tap socket for 110V. Brought our own battery operated nightlite w/motion sensor. Kept us from bumping into walls during the dark nights. We were located forward, starboard. If you book a port cabin, the Manhattan Skyline w/the Statue of Liberty will be on your side as you sail away.
The ports of call were Excellent. Only disappointment was the weather, but we still managed to do all we intended to do.
Portland,ME: took a taxi to Freeport - great day for lobster rolls and outlet shopping. Good street vendor shopping a few steps from the ship in Portland.
Bar Harbor, ME: we found a bus to Acadia Park and enjoyed lobster salads, chowders, and popovers w/blueberry jam for lunch. Ate outside with a gorgeous view of the mountains at Jordan Pond. (cyber search for more info)
St John, New Brunswick: was disappointing because most things were closed for their Labor Day. However, we did salvage lunch at Steamers, just a short walk from the Explorer. Moosehead beer, chowder, and a fresh 2 lb lobster made this lunch memorable. Lobster (and chowder and beer) aren't cheap in this area - be prepared and you won't be disappointed. There was good street vendor shopping, a little farther away from the ship.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: Hired a private limo w/driver to Lunenburg . This is worth a cyber-search to read up on this quaint, but important village. Rained hard that day, but we enjoyed a delicious chowder lunch w/local beer and had our driver pick us up early for the 1+hr ride back to Halifax, where he gave us a nice tour of Halifax, seeing everything from the rainy windows of the limo. Did manage some good pictures and we were happy to be dropped off, back at the ship without being soaking wet from rain. Many pax rent a car at this port to see the famous Peggy's Cove. In the rain, it was somewhat a disappointment.
Boston, MA: cheapest way to get to downtown and Quincy Market is by booking the shuttle bus w/the Explorations Desk, on board. ($2 more to book same thing, once off the ship!) We shopped, ate more chowder, and came back to the ship with a small Boston Cream Pie - yummy.
Don't miss: Promenade Parade; Ice Show. Do enjoy free cookies, sandwiches, coffee, and tea in the Promenade. The Promenade is where most everything happens, so check it out if this is first voyage on the Explorer.
Eating was Aft; Entertainment was Forward. Two banks of elevators were situated accordingly and stayed busy and full. This was very much an older person cruise - everyone seemed to be using the elevators, whereas younger pax tend to take the stairs. Patience was vital and not all the time present.
Shows were Excellent - seating didn't appear to be an issue.
The youngest Captain in the fleet was our Captain. He was a great communicator and most personable. He did an Excellent job commanding our vessel in a fast forward speed to outrun Katia which was headed straight for us. We anchored off the coast of Sandy Hook, our last night, waking up to a gorgeous sunrise and a view that was stunning. It was peaceful, to be at anchor in calm waters for our last night of rest.
The WJ and MDR were what they are and we enjoyed it all. A small tip goes a long way in the WJ, for "service" with the first delivery of beverages. Saw lots of folks tipping and happy servers with nice smiles.
SAFETY: saw many slips, trips, falls. I found many floors slippery when wearing anything other than rubber soled shoes.
PARKING: Used Park2Go.com - efficient and would use them again. You will need a cell phone to communicate w/them for your pick up upon disembarkation. The whole area around the airport and ship port is industrial. I define it as "dirty", but our car was safe from dockyard overspray and we did witness plenty of spray being blown towards the car parking lot area where there were pax cars parked. Don't know of any issues or damage, but there's no way to not be affected, if the wind is blowing in the right direction. It was about a 20 minute from our parking lot to the ship. Embarkation was efficient. Look for Diamond or Suite check in line and ask if you don't see it. There is a line for disabled pax. I think there was even a special line for Platinum. The shuttle bus is most do-able and you are glad you didn't have to make that walk. There is a ramp to drag your wheelie aboard. Lots of folks all trying to check in at the same time - again, patience will save the day.
Disembarkation was chaotic but efficient if you followed the established protocol. We enjoyed a civilized breakfast in the MDR, went back to the cabin to retrieve our carry off bags, and then proceeded to our assigned waiting area. Once off the ship, we went to our numbered holding area, retrieved our bags, and followed more orders to go to a pick up area.
Overall, everything was EXCELLENT. Zero complaints. Even enjoyed the vessel's fog horn throughout many nights because it was just that foggy.
I hope this information is helpful for your next cruise experience from Cape Liberty, on the EXPLORER OF THE SEAS.