My husband and I sailed On Explorer of the Seas on 10/8/11 for a five night cruise to Bermuda from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. We live in CT and the drive to the port took about an hour and a half. We left home around 9:00 am. The port was very easy to get to. We didn't hit any traffic. It was quick and easy to drop off our luggage and park the car. It cost $95 to park the car while we were gone. Very reasonable I thought.
It didn't take too long to check in and then we waited in the terminal for our shuttle bus to the ship. We tried the free coffee and cookies that were served. Not very good. Especially the coffee. (The food was much better on the ship.) We were called to board our shuttle bus a little before noon and in minutes we were on the ship.
The ship is big, but very easy to navigate once we got our footing. It was very clean. If you looked closely, you could see the wear and tear, but that didn't take away from the the beauty of the ship. We went up to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. It was crowded, but we were able to find a table with no problem. The food was very good for a buffet. Lots of choices.
After lunch, we explored a little and hung out by the pool until 1:30 when our stateroom was ready. We had an aft balcony room on Deck 7. The room was very spacious for the two of us. Lots of storage space for all the stuff we brought on board. (Yes, we over packed!) The room was set up like we asked with the beds together. It was very clean and comfortable during our entire stay. Our stateroom attendant, Shauna, was excellent. We ended up with four towel animals by the end of the cruise. We looked forward to those everyday!
All the staff on the ship were excellent. Very polite and friendly. Great service no matter what time of day or night. We had a couple of issues, our toilet wouldn't flush and the shower would flood the bathroom floor whenever we used it. Once we notified someone of the problems, they were taken care of within minutes.
We ate dinner in the main dining room four out of the five nights. We were seated at a table for eight. We had very nice table mates. Two other families who each had a young daughter with them. We were a little worried the first night since we were cruising without our daughter, but we had nothing to worry about. Both girls were very well behaved and pleasant to be with. The food was excellent. We didn't have one bad meal. The recommendations from our waiter were always delicious and a good choice. There were four casual nights and one formal night during our cruise. Everyone seemed to be dressed appropriately but it wouldn't have bothered me if they weren't.
We had most breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer Cafe. We ate one dinner there. All the food was good. And great service. The wait staff was very quick to refill your drink or clear away dirty dishes. We had lunch one day at Johnny Rockets and enjoyed that as well. We also ordered room service for breakfast one morning. The food was good and arrived hot and right on time.
The entertainment on the ship was good and plentiful. There was something for everyone. The ice show was excellent. Amazing what the skaters were able to do in such a small space. The Quest Game Show (adults only) is not to be missed. Hilarious! The comedian we saw on our last night was very funny.
We had great weather for most of our trip. Sunny and in the seventies. It did rain on our last day out at sea, but that was after we had left Bermuda so it didn't matter. Bermuda was beautiful. The water is very clean and clear and really is turquoise in color. The houses were so pretty to look at in all their colors. I think orange was my favorite. The sand on the two beaches we went to was like powder. No rocks or shells to hurt your feet. We did one excursion through the ship to Horseshoe Bay Beach. The beach was like paradise. Only downside was the chair and umbrella rentals. Very, very expensive. ($11 each plus a $5 refundable deposit on each. $48 for two chairs and an umbrella!) My husband went on a jet ski excursion that he booked privately for $145 for one hour. He loved it. I purchased a frozen drink at one of the beaches. Nothing fancy but it cost $10. Make sure you bring lots of money with you!
Getting off the ship on our last day was easy. We were given a time of slot of 9:45 am to 10:00 am. We didn't have to rush and were able to have breakfast and relax a little. The shuttle bus to the terminal was very crowded but it didn't take us long to get our luggage and go through customs.
Our first cruise was wonderful and so was Royal Caribbean! Can't wait to do it again!