"Happy New Year 2012" - Embarkation is always so easy for us as we live only 10 minutes from the home port in Bayonne, NJ. A quick move through all the lines and we were in the Windjammer within a half hour enjoying our lunch. Although the boarding time is listed at 2pm it is always good to go earlier. We were surprised at how crowded the Winderjammer was at 12:30 - It took a while to find a table for my husband (68), my Daughter (44), her husband (46) and myself (64).
This was our 3rd cruise - my daughter and her husband's first. We bragged so much after our 1st 2 cruises and tried to get all in the family to join us. It is hard though to set a time when all in the family can make it. Maybe next time.
We again had an inside cabin, which is so much more affordable than any other selection. My daughter and her husband had a balcony, and after enjoying some time with them on their balcony, this would definitely be our choice on future cruises. An inside cabin is nice. We really don't spend that much time in our room, but you can't tell whether it is day or night without checking your watch.
Food and Service was great. We had the early seating in the MDR but avoided the 2 formal nights - jut not our thing. We also missed the MDR when we went to the 5pm ice show, and couldn't make it in time to the MDR. We always enjoy the Windjammer buffet. The food is good and you always have a large selection of what you want to eat. We also made it one night to Johnny Rockets,and had a lot of fun dancing to Last Dance and YMCA with our waiter. The cheeseburgers and milk shakes were delicious. There is a small cover charge so be sure to check the prices before you go. No reservations needed.
The Ice Show was so colorful and enjoyable. Somehow the guy who fell on his backside got the most applause. The comedian, John Wing, had us in stitches. His routine reminded me of the great George Carlin, where you have to think about what he is saying, and when you get it, you can't control your outburst of laughter.
Now for the very negative - which cannot be controlled by Royal Carribean. The weather. Out of 7 days, I think we had 2 days of nice weather. In fact we had to skip our port of call at CoCoCay due to 35 knot winds. We wound up staying 2 days at Nassau, Bahamass, which wouldn't be so bad, but on the second day the wind was so bad, we had to stay on the ship. My daughter and her husband had arranged a snorkel adventure which was scheduled on the first day of docking at 2:15pm. But due to the fact the there was another ship in our slip, the Explorer did not dock until 4pm, and with just another hour of daylight left, the snorkeling was postponed until the following day at 9am. Then of course, due to the high winds, the snorkeling was cancelled the following day. They lugged their snorkeling gear on the cruise, but never got a chance to use it.
There was a another ship docked nearby at Nassau Bahamas which damaged the dock and was damaged due to the high winds.
There was a grand celebration for New Year's Eve in the Promenade, but not being a fan of crowded places, we chose to pass and spend a quiet night in our room. You can always watch the happenings on your stateroom tv.
We previously have sailed in the fall of 2010, and although the sailing was right in the middle of a bad huricane season, we were lucky to have 5 beautiful days of sunshine and long days to Bermuda and back. Our 2nd cruise was a 9 day Spring Break cruise in Apr 2011. Never, Never, Never again for 2 cruisers in their 60's. The ship was overrun by unruly gangs of kids. They would jump on the elevator, push all of the buttons, and jump off. They would sit on the floors all over the ship, making the adults walk around them, or trip over them. Three times they stole our Do Not Disturb sign out of our stateroom door.And now the terrible weather and early sundown days we endured during this winter trip. I guess summer is next. The only problem is the prices are much higher during the summer months.
In summation, there is nothing like being "treated like royalty". It doesn't matter if you book a high priced suite, or an inexpensive inside cabin, in our experience the employees on the ship have only one objective in mind, that the cruisers have a good time.