We flew from Newcastle - Heath Row - Newark with BA. So far so good - flights were on time. Getting out of the Airport to the Hotel Transfer Coach with all our luggage was not too smooth - had quite a wait for the Transfer Coach. However, the check in at the Sheraton, Newark was fast & efficient & we were pleased with our room & refreshments were easy to obtain from the cheerful & friendly staff.
Next day RCI transfer coach arrived earlier than expected & transfer to the Terminal was speedy. Then the headache started - we sat on the coach for almost an hour - presumably to ease congestion but what was actually achieved is questionable. Being herded through security was not appreciated - this is our third trip on the Explorer and the security process has never improved in a number of years. Check-in was excellent - we are diamond plus so this made it super fast.
Once on board straight up to the Windjammer for lunch. Our JS was ready by 1.30 p.m. where we could relax. Our Stateroom Attendant Cera Alcimo was most conscientous - nothing was too much trouble for him. He kept our JS immaculate. RCI as always, held a drill & they ensured full attendance. Our luggage took quite a long time to appear & then we very quickly unpacked, took a bath & then out to the Concierge Lounge to meet Carlos (Concierge) and Tony. They took great care to ensure we and the other guests, were never short of a drink! Their service was exceptional.
The first night, we dined in Portofino taking advantage of the 2 for 1 offer - as usual, the food and service there was perfect with an attentive staff.
The first 2 days were spent at sea but what a bonus, the weather on the first day allowed us on deck when we expected bad weather. The 2nd day was even hotter & we very quickly got into the holiday mode.
Day 3 we docked in Labidee, Haiti. This was really an eye-opener, RCI have made fantastic strides in the development of this resort. On our earlier visits, we had to tender ashore to find limited development. Well done RCI.
Next day San Juan. We were invited to dine with the Finance Director - cocktails at 8.15p.m. & then escorted to the Captain's Table. Thank you Paul for being such a charming host & we have a super photograph to commemorate this special event.
Day 5 - St. Maartan - our favourite Caribbean Island. Super shopping at good prices. Very friendly locals and stunning beaches.
Day 6 - Antigua - took a tour to Nelson's Dockyard - we always take this tour and it never fails to impress - especially the free Rum Punch!
Day 7. St. Kitts - last port of call. Worth taking a tour here as development in the town is very slow although some good stores are slowing appearing. Dinner that night in Portofino again, but this time with 2 charming gentlemen named Bob and Ed from Idaho whom we met on our first night in the Concierge Lounge. The food overall on this ship was excellent - pity RCI stopped serving the Lobster in Europe!!! 2 days at sea and then back to Cape Liberty.
We feel RCI provide a superlative Loyalty Programme & are so pleased we have been loyal to RCI so we are now reaping such great benefits with the enhanced Diamond Plus status. This was a truly wonderful cruise.