We took the Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ for the main reason of not having to fly during the Christmas season. Last year we took the Adventure of the Seas from San Juan, PR, and barely got out of Newark Liberty International due to the blizzard of December 26, 2010.
When booking this cruise, we knew that we'd be hitting ports we had been to (Nassau and Port Canaveral), but did it just to get away. However, flags started to go up before embarking. We knew that we'd be in port at Port Canaveral, Fl and arriving late morning or early afternoon. In looking at shore excursions for this port, it was observed that only one "excursion" was planned and that was a beach shuttle to Cocoa Beach. The other standard choices were not available such as NASA, Disney World, and Universal Studios. We began wondering what would be done this whole day in port as shops would be closed on-board while in port. Aside from very good weather, it was a very uneventful and rather boring Christmas Day.
Nassau, Bahamas was not that much different. We left Port Canaveral late (around 22:30) and arrived Nassau around midday. This was Boxing Day and a national holiday for the Bahamas. Outside of a few shops open and the option to visit The Atlantis resort, there was very little to do here as well. That night we left around 23:30 for Royal Caribbean's private island, Cocoa Key.
We arrived at Cocoa Key around 8 AM the next day. For a private island, there was a lot of space to wander through. If you kept walking the beach, you were guaranteed to find a spot of beach to call your own. The BBQ on the beach was ok. The downfalls were the serving line and places to sit. I have to say that this was the ultimate highlight of the trip.
The last two days of the cruise were spent at sea. It was these two days that became really boring aboard ship. Due to a strange weather system that we met, half of night and into the first half of the day, the ship was rolling up and down and side to side. This unforeseen weather forced the cancellations of many scheduled activities for the day leaving many to fend for themselves. One would think that an alternate set of activities would be ready for days such as these. This kind of weather is typical for cruises out of ports in the North East. By the end of the day, just about everyone was tired and bored from having relatively nothing to do that day, including the school age kids on board.
The following day, our last day, was more or less the same as the day before but without the movement of the ship. Considering that it was a "normal" day at sea, there again was very little to speak of in terms of presentations, lectures, seminars, etc. On previous cruises, I've made good use of a highlighter trying to decide what I wanted to take part in. This cruise did not see one bit of yellow ink on the daily cruise Compass.
In conclusion, usually seven day cruises go by really fast. This time I was happy to finally be home.