533 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

This was our 4th cruise, 3rd with RCL, 2nd on Explorer. We drove to New Jersey and stayed at Country Inn and Suites, Elizabeth the night before. We used the shuttle they provided for $35 per person, round trip to get to the ship. The ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, 3rd with RCL, 2nd on Explorer. We drove to New Jersey and stayed at Country Inn and Suites, Elizabeth the night before. We used the shuttle they provided for $35 per person, round trip to get to the ship. The shuttle was delayed by construction traffic. The trip to the ship was also delayed because of an accident and fire on the bridge. Check-in was quick and we were ushered directly onto the bus. It was the fastest check-in we have experienced. The ship was a little more worn than the last time aboard. Nothing drastic, just a few more stains and signs of wear. Everything was clean and reasonably well kept. I still think she is a real beauty. The crew were always friendly and greeted you no matter what uniform they were wearing. The cabin was nice as usual (7641). Herman, our cabin attendant, was outstanding. We saw him many times and he knew us by name. He was very efficient and kept everything clean and neat. He rates a 5.5. Dining was always good. We had 6:00 seating at table 439. It was a table for 10. We were cruising with two other couples and were joined at the table by another couple and mother-daughter cruisers. We found the selection good and serving adequate. They had no problem bring an extra appetizer, entrée, or dessert, if you were so inclined. Our attendant was Erica C. with Sherma H. assisting. They were great, both a 5.5. Breakfast was in Windjammer most mornings. We did have breakfast in the main dining room a few times with our cruise mates. The food was adequate and service good. We had lunch in the Windjammer when in port. We found the Windjammer food quality OK. The service was hit or miss. Some days you were greeted and asked for a drink choice. Other days, we would have to get it ourselves. Most of the production shows were pretty much the same as last cruise. I was annoyed by the loudness of the female singers; too much amplification for my liking. The guys were OK, just seemed the girls were screaming at us. The ice show is still a must-see. We enjoyed Take-4 in Dizzy's and at the dance party in Studio B. Dizzy's was always packed when they played. Leigh was cruise director and as usual funny and entertaining. We did the cruise line's excursions for sight-seeing in all 4 ports. We did them because this was the first time in 3 of them and wanted to get a guided look at the islands. Maybe next time we will try something on our own. All were informative. At the Meet and Mingle we met some of the Cruise Critic folks. That was really nice. The wife and I each won a door prize in the raffle. One was 2 in-room movies, the other $50 internet time. The movie was easy enough; watch the in-room movies and redeem the coupon for credit. The internet time was not so easy. Per the instructions from Guest Services, I went to royalcaribbean online on deck 8. I then clicked on e-mail, swiped my card, entered my cabin number, and picked the $49.95 internet package. Guest relations had told me that the coupon would be good for 66 minutes of internet time. We used most of that. Each time I logged in, it displayed the credit I had left. I went down to Guest Services with the coupons after we had watched the 2nd movie. The movie charges were deducted from my account OK. The internet charge of $49.95 was not. I went back to Guest Relations and asked why I was not credited for the internet time. He told me it was not the same thing. I had a coupon for $50 of internet time and I had picked a $49.95 package of internet time and they would not credit my onboard account. After trying to get him to explain why, he went in the back and talked to someone. He came back and agreed to credit me $42.51 for the time I had used. So in the end, I paid $7.44 for internet service I was supposed to get free. I didn't argue any farther because by this time there was a line formed behind me and as usual, not enough people in Guest Relations. This is not the way to entice cruisers to give favorable reviews. If the coupon is for $50, then I should have been credited up to $50. If this is the kind of hassle we have to go through to use the gift coupons, maybe they should stick to giving away trinkets. There, I vented! Disembarkation was as usual, by luggage tag sequence. We were off by the scheduled time and went through Customs quickly. The shuttle was over an hour late due to construction traffic again. We were off the ship at 10:45 and on the road by 1:00 PM. The return trip was by way of Salam, NH to visit friends, Niagara Falls, and Cleveland to visit more friends. Except for the internet issue, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We would definitely cruise RCL and Explorer again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We traveled from Virginia Beach to Bayonne to go on our first cruise with many family members. When we arrived at Cape Liberty we had to wait an hour in a traffic line to drop off our bags. Not impressed with the start. The process at ... Read More
We traveled from Virginia Beach to Bayonne to go on our first cruise with many family members. When we arrived at Cape Liberty we had to wait an hour in a traffic line to drop off our bags. Not impressed with the start. The process at Cape Liberty is disfunctional making the initial start of the cruise an unpleasant experience. Parking cost were outrageous at $19/day. After a rushed process of mass confusion and a few shuttle busess we were on the ship. Don't bring kids unless you have them tethered to you during the check in process. After getting settled onboard things calmed down, until the second day. Then the sea decided to toss us about like a plastic toy in a wave pool. Not much we can do about nature. Our Capt did an outstanding job at steering the ship through this harsh storm. Due to steaming delays, we had to miss our first port labadee, Haiti. We received the gracious reward of spending 12 hours in San Juan which I rate as close to Tijuanna Mexico. We would have traded 12 hrs in San Juan for 1 hr in Labadee. Ship was very clean and well maintained. Nightly Entertainment was good. Trivia, Bingo, Ice show, musical and comedians. (comedian was a little dry). Food Menu selection was poor. Windjammer served same food daily.. Needed some variety. Casino was too small and Casino staff was rude. Excursion in St. Marteen was dissapointing. (bus trip to Marigot and then some beach time at Oriental Beach. Trip was not worth the money and it was not very well organized. I got a tour of where the bus drivers home was, what school he went too, the firehouse, hospital, police station, local super market and a few other points of interest to the bus driver. Lunch was to be served but they ran out of food with approx 10 people not getting anything). Stateroom Attendant Service was excellent. Our stateroom attendant "HERMAN" was very professional and very attentive to our needs. He was the best and really made what started out as a bad trip a pleasurable experienc. Our toilet was broken and our shower head was broke but Herman made sure they were fixed promptly. Cruise Director Richard Spacey was very helpful and entertaining but he could have had a few backup events planned for the foul weather days. returning home: Again, not a pleasurable experince getting off the ship. It was a long wait to disembark. Bathrooms were closed, no drinks available during a 2 hour wait. Then a long walk to collect luggage and get back to the car. Overall I would give this cruise a 6 on a 1-10. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Embarkation: We were anxious to try the Bayonne port as we could drive to Port Liberty and not have to worry about flying during the winter. We were surprised that there was no connection between the port and the ship and that we had to ... Read More
Embarkation: We were anxious to try the Bayonne port as we could drive to Port Liberty and not have to worry about flying during the winter. We were surprised that there was no connection between the port and the ship and that we had to take a bus to get to the ship. This caused delays in getting passengers on board in a timely manner. RCCL now distributes only paper luggage tags. The flimsy tag must have torn off because one of our suitcases got lost. By 8:00 p.m., long after the ship had left port, we still did not have our bag. After numerous calls to Guest Services, we finally went up to the desk and located our suitcase just sitting there with about 25 other pieces of other luggage without tags. The moral: download luggage tags, reinforce them and use sturdy ties to attach them to your suitcases. The storm that affected this sailing caused a very rocky start to the trip. The crew did a stellar job of handling the Explorer during 26 foot waves. We were lucky that it didn't have much effect on us. Unfortunately, the dining room on the first formal night was pretty empty. Cabin: We were in a balcony cabin #7278; the decor was about what we expected for a ship of this age. Carpets and draperies were a little dirty, there was rust along the balcony and the mattress was soft. What we didn't expect was the number of items that broke during our voyage. The refrigerator broke, the toilet broke and the closet door broke, causing us to have to call for maintenance over and over. Worst of all, the cabin door lock broke. After returning to our cabin late one night, neither of our door keys worked. Without going into too much detail about wasted time and several trips to Guest Services, we were finally told that security would have to let us into our cabin. It appears that the battery in the lock had died. The staff wanted us to stay in our cabin the following day so that the carpenter could change the battery. There was a heated discussion when we told them that we had an excursion reserved for that day. Amenities: Some of the facilities on the ship do need updating. Some of the gym equipment was not operational. The TVs in the gym did not work. The internet did not work much of the time. One disappointment was that there is no covered solarium pool. On long sea days in the colder climates, it would have been nice to have a closed-in heated pool similar to the other ships in this class. Food: We changed to My Time Dining which we really enjoyed. Most of the nights we had the same six or eight people at our table which worked out very well. Our waiter, Steven Rodriquez, helped us with a special dietary requirement by providing the next day's menu each night so that we could select an entree to be prepared without extra sodium. The dining room food at dinner is plentiful with sufficient choices, but the quality did not seem to be as good as it used to be. We did enjoy the lunches that were served in the main dining room. On days that we spent at the pool, we took salads from the Windjammer outdoors onto the pool deck. We ate one night in Portofino and found the food and service to be really excellent. Ports: We had been to all the ports in the past. We missed Labadee due to the storm. On the stop at St. Thomas, we chose an excursion from the ship that took us by boat to St. John. There we hiked with an environmentalist through the desert terrain, seeing iguanas, birds and interesting vegetation. Afterwards, we were taken to beautiful Honeymoon Beach and then through the Caneel Bay Plantation resort and the ruins of an old sugar mill. It was a wonderful day on a beautiful island. Entertainment: One of the ice shows was spectacular. There were no problem getting seats even though the shows were cancelled on the days of rough seas. The production shows were very original and enjoyable. There's a lot of talent there. All the other shows were entertaining including the introductions by the Cruise Director, Richard ("I love you") Spacey. Richard and Chris (Activities Director) helped to make this cruise special. The trivia, majority rules game, Quest and other evening events kept us hopping and laughing. It still left us time to play bridge on the sea days and do some dancing after the shows. Disembarkation: We opted to walk off the ship and carry our own luggage. We were a little concerned that it would be hard to lift all our suitcases onto the bus, but that was not a problem. We were off the ship by 9:30 a.m. One final note: We wish there were more ships leaving from Cape Liberty (Bayonne, NJ). Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My husband and I just returned from a Caribbean cruise March 5th to 15th on the Explorer. This was our third cruise on Royal. It was our first cruise without our children, and our first winter cruise. We had a rocky start as the ship got ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a Caribbean cruise March 5th to 15th on the Explorer. This was our third cruise on Royal. It was our first cruise without our children, and our first winter cruise. We had a rocky start as the ship got caught in a winter storm at sea. So our second day was spent mostly in our room due to the tossing about. Thank goodness for our very experienced captain who kept us safe, so we were not able to visit the port of Labadee. Also, the rest of the crew was just wonderful when we did venture out of our room. Some people complained about missing the port however, I was just glad that we were safe. The rest of the cruise was just wonderful as we had good weather. My husband had booked things to do in Labadee but of course that did not happen. Although I previously visited two of these ports a good time was still had. In San Juan we took a long walk around Old San Juan, very picturesque. We shopped in St. Thomas, great weather, fun stores, so much jewelry. In St Maartin we went to the shopping area and then to Orient Beach. The beach was pretty and the water was warm a a little rough. People had to watch their children carefully here because of the waves. There were some women selling small items and offering massages but they were not aggressive. If you have ever been to Turks and Caicos this beach does not compare. Here are other comments about our cruise. Sail away - We watched the ship go under the bridge. So fascinating as there is so little room for the ship to fit under. Concierge- Since we were in a suite we had the advantage of concierge services. Mario was the best concierge ever. He kept us in the loop and introduced us to many wonderful couples to chat with. We met with several of the other couples several times. Mario was always there to give us suggestions or make adjustments we needed. He also always chatted with us and the other people to make sure we were happy and entertained. The wait staff in concierge were very attentive. Suite Attendent- Our suite attendent Augus was just wonderful. He truly took great care of us. He made our stay a delight. Wait Staff - Marvelous in the dining room and windjammer Dining room attire - two dress up nights. No tux required. No gowns required. Just look nice as you would if going to a very nice restaurant on dress up nights. On the other nights just don't wear shorts. Other than that it seemed that everything was very relaxed. Both my husband and i are fine with the dress code policy. The Food - We enjoyed our food in Windjammer and in the regular dining room. We did not have dinner in Portofino's as the menu did not seem appealing to us. But everyone who went there said the food was delicious. We always found something delicious to eat in Windjammer. There were many fresh fruits and lots of salad to eat for lunch so I was happy. Meanwhile my husband was happy with the meat offerings and the varied other selections. Room service was great. The food was always hot and delivered on time. Coffee - Very good coffee. It was not necessary for me to have the premium coffee. Drinks - Some of the special mixed drinks are very delicious, but expensive. The shows - Fun shows. We looked forward to them every night. The ice skating shows are just fantastic. They are not to be missed. The comedian was just ok. The Ship - Clean, clean, clean. Looks extremely good for an older ship. Will I go again? Absolutely, I already have two more cruises booked for this year. The casino - Fun, many penny machines but very smokey. Fortunately there were two non-smoking evenings, hurray for that. There was a lot less smoke during the day. Promenade - A fun place to shop (many great bargains) and hang out. Activities - so much to do, mini golf was fun, fun games to participate in or not. Don't miss the Quest. Much art to look at and many auctions. We did not go to any auctions as we have done that before, but viewing the art was still enjoyable. Very active sports area. You can even ice skate. Getting a Chair - We were always able to find a chair or lounge. There are many quiet places to be if you would prefer not to be around the pool. Music - Loved the live Caribbean music played around the pool and on the Promenade. Lots of live music played all around the ship, enjoyed listening to it. The cruisers - Just so nice. There were many older cruisers. There were many wheelchairs and scooters. I was a bit surprised as the summer cruises are not like this. The crowd in the summer is definitely younger with many families and newlyweds. Of course there were children but not many, there were newlyweds on this cruise and many couples of all ages. Spa - cute, nice, clean, no extra fee to use spa, nice jacuzzi in spa area Exercise Equipment - much to chose from and up to date, no extra fee to use equipment Complaints - None, just compliments   Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Embarkation After Baltimore, Cape Liberty is a chaotic mess for dropping off the luggage and getting to the ship. We were in line for about 20 minutes to drop off the luggage. You pull up to a loading area to drop off your luggage and ... Read More
Embarkation After Baltimore, Cape Liberty is a chaotic mess for dropping off the luggage and getting to the ship. We were in line for about 20 minutes to drop off the luggage. You pull up to a loading area to drop off your luggage and there are passengers there who are trying to load their luggage into their cars. Then someone has to go and park the car and meet you back in the terminal to check in. We were in a Suite and were separated from the people we were with since they were not in a Suite. Check in was very fast and then we were told to get on the bus to the ship. On the bus we met up with some friends who had left several hours before us. You ride this bus for a very short ride to the ship but it was very crowded and everyone had their carry-ons with them. The Porter's wouldn't take my husband's Golf Clubs so he had to carry them himself. We had lunch in the Windjammer and had no trouble finding a table for the six of us. After lunch we explored the ship until our Staterooms were available, around 1:30. We were in G.S. 1588 and the very first thing we noticed was that it was smaller than the G.S. on Enchantment. We had enough storage space but I had it all filled up, where on Enchantment there were drawers that weren't even used. We met our Stateroom Attendant, Argus, who was very friendly and was superb the whole trip. In my opinion, the ship was in very good condition with only a little bit of wear visible. The first sea day we had the Meet & Mingle and Cabin Crawl. We had quite a few people at both. Had a fun Gift Exchange at the M&M. Dining Room We were in the Magellan Dining Room on Deck 3 and both our Waiter and Assistant Waiter gave great service throughout our cruise. They both knew our wants and needs after the first dinner. I was very surprised that the Head Waiter came to our table almost nightly and had conversations with all of us. Most of us did not care for the new menu. I know this is subjective but we were disappointed in the choices. We ate once in the Windjammer and had a great meal with a Mongolian Stir Fry. It was outstanding. Had dinner in Portofino's. I must say the food was good but really prefer CHOPS. Had a fun dinner in Johnny Rockets. Everything was great. The Casino was very small and crowded. The small space made it very smokey from the cigarettes. I was surprised by how small it was for the size of the Ship. Excursions We had a rough trip down through a very bad storm and missed Labadee. We had nothing planned for San Juan and ended up being there over 12 hours. In St. Thomas we went to Sapphire Beach. The water was very rough and knocked us down a few times. Also, a "ledge" that made getting in and out of the water difficult. In St. Maarten we had a Sail and Snorkel excursion which was really bad. I know you can't control the weather but due to the storm we came through we were told you could go in the water but we wouldn't see anything because it was all murky. I would have rather been told this beforehand and not spent 4 ½ hours sitting on an uncomfortable boat. You had to sit on a "railing" which ran the whole roof of the lower deck cabin and that is where you sat. We made our complaints known back on board and were given a small credit for the excursion. Disembarkation This was a breeze. Our concierge, Mario, had us in the "Chamber" with Coffee and Pastries. When it was our time to leave he led us out to the appropriate elevator to leave the Ship. Mario, the Concierge, was fantastic. Had a voicemail from him every morning with details of the day and well wishes. We were off early so we did not encounter anyone who was coming to board the ship. We found our luggage very easy and a Porter was there to load the luggage and take us through Customs. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We (my parents, brother, son & my husband) left home at 6:30am. We had arranged for Borders limos to transport us to South Station in Boston for our Amtrak regional train to New York City. On arrival at South Station we got a Red Cap ... Read More
We (my parents, brother, son & my husband) left home at 6:30am. We had arranged for Borders limos to transport us to South Station in Boston for our Amtrak regional train to New York City. On arrival at South Station we got a Red Cap to take our luggage so we could go and get Breakfast before we boarded the train. We had arranged to meet the Red Cap at 7:45am so we could board the train before the crowd so we would have time to get settled and all our luggage stowed safely. Our train left South Station on time and we were soon on our way to New York City. Our journey passed fairly quickly and before we knew it we were pulling into Penn Station we were running about 10 minutes late but that was not a worry for us as we had no definite plans other than to get to New York and checkin to our hotel. We had booked 2 rooms at the Doubletree by Hilton on 128 W 29th Street. It is within walking distance of Penn Station. What a sight we must have looked, 6 adults all in a line with 6 large cases and 3 smaller striding down 7th Avenue on a very cold Thursday in March. Once we arrived at the hotel we discovered that the 2 double rooms we had booked were not available and we were offered one double room and one king room with a rollout bed. for our inconvenience we were offered free buffet breakfast for the whole group.. more about this later. These rooms were ready and we could dump our stuff and go exploring. We set off back towards 7th Ave in search of some lunch. We found a place called Harringtons Bar & Grill and we headed in there, it was a bit noisy as there was a large crowd watching a basketball game on the large TV's but the food was good and not too over priced. From here we continued up 7th Ave to Time Square where we took a few photos. It was very very cold so a visit to Starbucks for a hot drink was in order. We then walked along 49th Street to 6th Ave and headed back toward downtown stopping to check out a few shops along the way. We came across an incident where we saw 6 fire trucks and a few police units all with flashing lights, very exciting... we were not able to find out what it was all about. Once we were back at the hotel we chilled out for an hour before we headed back out to find somewhere to have dinner. We found a small diner called Andrew's and decided we would eat there as there was something on the menu for everyone. I enjoyed my Meatloaf dinner very much. We headed back out onto 7th Ave with the idea we would explore some more of the area but it was so cold and windy we all decided to head back to the hotel for some heat and an early night. Now more about the room situation... As I mentioned before the two double rooms we booked were not available so we had had to take one double room and one King room with a rollaway bed added.. Well anyone who has ever stayed in a mid priced hotel in NYC will know that you cant swing a cat in the rooms never mind have room for a full sized rollaway and still have floorspace to stand up in.. so my parents and my brother ended up three in the king... not the best night sleep they have ever had. to top it all they could not get there TV to work either.. so they had a very early night. For the rest of us we were able to chill out and watch some TV before getting some much needed sleep. DAY 1 - March 15th 2013 - Embarkation Day The (free) buffet breakfast was very good, not sure it was worth my parents ending up in a room no bigger than my closet back home! but the food was hot and did not look like it had been sat in a hot tray for half a day.. we were also able to order fried eggs, omelette, pancakes & french toast which were made fresh to order.. So after a good breakfast with lashings of hot coffee and fresh orange juice we were ready to check out and wait for our ride to the Cruise Port in New Jersey. We had booked a company called "Dial 7"to transport us to the ship, they were to pick us up at 10:30 am.. we were sitting in the hotel reception waiting for the driver to appear when my mother went outside to checkout the weather she came hurrying back in to tell us the van was outside.. turned out he had been out there for about 10 minutes, we had thought he would have come in to the hotel to find us... Our journey from our hotel in midtown Manhattan to Port Liberty, Bayonne NJ only took 35min. We arrived at the dock just after 11:00am and were surprised to see people still getting off the ship. There was a bit of a wait for us to get to a off loading bay so were could get out. We left the men to take care of the luggage while mum and I took care of the paperwork with the driver. The Port at Cape Liberty is not as nice as some port terminals we have been in but it was well organized, clean and warm. There is a lot of new building going on around the port, there is parking right beside the port and the terminal itself is an old warehouse with a covered loading/unloading area in front. Because we are all Crown & Anchor members were were able to join the Priority checkin line, so this cut down a lot of standing in line. Before we knew it we were checked in and waiting to board the little shuttle bus to the ship. The Explorer of the Seas was a stunning sight as we pulled up along side her, we got off the shuttle bus and headed up the walkway and onto the ship. We got a very nice welcome back from the crew as we boarded, they directed us to the elevators so we all could head to the Windjammer on deck 11 for lunch.. Now the Windjammer on embarkation day is a experience not to be missed, it is the only time you will see everyone try to fit into this one area of the ship all at the same time... you get some people who for whatever reason choose to carry all their luggage with them rather than checking it and they are trying to get themselves and all their luggage through this very large group of people some of whom are carrying plates of hot food, to find a table big enough for them and all the luggage. it make for an entertaining lunch. You also find a number of people who choose to get their food then find somewhere to sit, you can see them getting stressed when they cant find a seat and their food is getting cold.. not easy when most people find the table first then go get the food. Our staterooms were ready at 1:30pm and we were able to go and drop off our heavy coats and bags. We then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship before we headed outside on deck 4 for the Muster drill. It was very cold outside so I was really glad when the Captain said we were dismissed and the drill was over. We all headed back to our staterooms to unpack and get ready for Dinner at 6:00pm. Our table was over by a window so we hoped for some good sea views every evening but sadly the window was very dirty and we never got a very good view of anything until after our first port of call. We met our waiter Pascal and the assistant waiter Carlos. We enjoyed our first dinner on Explorer. We headed off to the Theater for the Welcome show, the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers were excellent as always. After the show were headed to the Cafe Promenade for coffee. The Captain had already warned us that there would be "Motion in the Ocean" that night as there was a strong wind coming out of the NW, I was not surprised to see some people looking a bit green. DAY 2 - March 16th 2013 - At Sea I woke very early and headed down to the Cafe Promenade with my iPad to get my review started. Its is very pleasant and quite sitting with a coffee a 5:00am. One thing I did notice was because the ship was moving about a bit there was a lot of banging coming from the elevator cables, now I don't know for sure if it could be heard in the cabins right next to the elevators but I will be careful not to book a cabin right next to the elevators. I joined the rest of the family at 8:30am and headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. After breakfast we went for a walk on deck 11 but it was still very cold outside, We found a sheltered place in the Solarium to sit and read for a few hours. The sea was still very rough so there was still lots of "Motion in the Ocean" I had already taking some anti-nausea medication but there were people who where suffering. We found the soft serve ice-cream machine so enjoyed a strawberry cone, I know realize the skill needed to get the ice-cream in the come, mine looked nothing like the one you get handed by the expert behind the counter in my local ice-cream shop... We then headed down to deck 5 to explore the shops on board before lunch. The Windjammer was as busy as ever but we were able to find a table for 6 with no issues, I always enjoy the curry that you can get at lunch time my only disappointment is that there is so little choice of sugar free deserts, only two choices today were a cookie or a mouse cake. We went for a walk after lunch and fount the "peek-a-boo" bridge on deck 11 forward, you can see down into the bridge and there are some signs explaining what it is you are looking at, this was very interesting and the bridge looked nothing like I thought it would. I was a little disappointed that there was not large Ships Wheel, just some joy sticks and a small wheel no bigger than the one in my car!!! As it was still cold and windy we headed to the Viking Lounge on Deck 14 to enjoy a comfy seat and a drink. This is an excellent place to watch the waves from as you can see for miles. There was quite a swell on the sea and you could see each wave rolling across the ocean some were very high. We ended up having a lazy afternoon as the Ice Show we had been scheduled to see at 2:00pm had been cancelled because it was to rough and the skaters could hurt themselves if the boat was to move at the wrong time.. so we just chilled out and it was soon time to head back to the cabin to get ready for our first formal night. After another wonderful dinner we went and had some formal photos taken of us all in our formal attire. Then we went to the theater for the show. I am always amazed at the high standard of entertainment that RCCL provide. After coffee and a light snack it was time to go to bed.. DAY 3 - March 17th 2013 - At Sea Got up at 8:00am and headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. Mum and I had decided to go to the embroidery class that was being held in the conference center on deck 3, so after discovering that you cant get from the Aft of the ship to the from of the ship on deck 3 we then had to go up to deck 4 and walk the length of the ship to go back down to deck 3, we waited there for about 10 minutes with another group of ladies before on of the crew told us that it had been moved to deck 14, so we had to go up in the elevator but the one we go in only went as far as deck 12 and we needed to get to the back of the ship not the front.... we eventually found the class and we made some basic bookmarks that we were allowed to keep. We met up with everyone else at the Cafe Promenade where we all had coffee. It was warmer outside today and the sea was not as rough and we decided that we would give the hot tub and pool a try after lunch. We were able to find some sun chairs that were not in the direct sun so we were able to relax without worrying about getting burnt. The hot tub was wonderfully warm and relaxing but 30 mins was long enough for me.. I went for a refreshing swim in the solarium pool. The Solarium area is meant to be adult only so when a young mother arrived with her two young children and proceeded to get them in the pool the group of ladies who had been sitting on the paddle step became very vocal about how children were not meant to be in this pool and they were making way too much noise and disturbing others, the mother just ignored them all until one woman asked her is she was aware that the sign said no one under 16 was allowed in the pool.. The this the young mother turned and cussed at the group of ladies and then left with both her children..... Once again it was soon time to get ready for dinner. Tonights show was changed because it was still rough and the dancers were not able to do the routines they needed for the show so they had the comedian that was meant to be on tomorrow night do the show tonight. He was very funny. Coffee and light snack at the Cafe Promenade before we headed off to bed. DAY4 -March 18th 2013 - At Sea / San Juan PR Had a late Breakfast in the Windjammer this morning. Very happy to report that it is at last warm and calmer although still a bit windy, We were able to sit outside to read for a while this morning. we decided to have lunch in Jonny Rockets, The onion rings are very very nice as is the milk shakes.. The Ice Show that had been cancelled from our second day has been rescheduled to today at 2:00pm, we enjoyed the ice show very much. The skaters have an amazing talent, the routines they do would be hard to do on dry land but the fact they can do all these jumps and spins on a moving ship is incredible. After the ice show we all went on deck to watch our approach into San Juan, I was able to take some good photos of the castle as we sailed into the harbor. We were able to use our cell phone to get email and make calls before we had even docked. Discovered it was snowing again in Boston... I was happy to report it was 75f sunny and warm in San Juan. We went ashore as soon as the boat was cleared, we walked up to San Francisco street where there was many good shops. Edward found a leather shop and was able to get a nice stetson type hat and wallet at a very good price. We found a nice bar serving Mojito's as the special of the day, so we just had to stop and try them out. It was soon getting dark so it was time to head back on board for a late dinner in the Windjammer. After dinner we went to the Champagne bar for a few drinks then coffee and bed as we had to be up early for our round the island trip of St Thomas. DAY 5 - March 19th 2013 - St Thomas, US Virgin Island. Up Early for breakfast today, the Windjammer was busy as I think people wanted to get off as soon as they could. We exited the ship and went in search of our tour, we soon found a whole group of tour guides waiting with signs for all the trips. We boarded our open sided tour bus and set off on our round the island tour. Our driver was also our guide and gave us lots of details about the island of St Thomas covering the history, culture and geology of the island and its people. We very quickly climbed up the hillside over looking the harbor where we got amazing views of our ship. We traveled to the north side of the island were we stopped at several view points including a view over Megan's Bay. A stop was made at a view point that had a shopping outlet and a bar selling Banana Daiquiri, while we were in the shop there was a tropical downpour outside and we were so glad we were inside and not in the open sided bus. Now we know why the island is so lush and green. We headed back to the ship at the end of our tour and had a late lunch and then went back ashore to explore the shops. Edward got a good deal on a new watch and Allen got a very nice cap. We decided that as it was so hot we would have a drink at the local bar. We had to be back on board for 4:30pm so we could not stay too long at the bar. We went up to deck 12 to watch the ship sail away from St Thomas, it was so funny to watch the last few passengers have to run to get onboard before we left them behind, in fact there was one guy that we had seen staggering up and down the dockside we thought he was on one of the other ships that were in port but it turned out he was from our ship and one of the crew went and guided him onto the ship... We had coffee at the Cafe Promenade before heading back to our cabins to get ready for dinner. We did our usual after dinner entertainment, we went to the show. I am always amazed at the talent that they have on the ship. Our Cruise Director Richard is so talented and entertaining, he could do a show all by himself.. Coffee at the Cafe Promenade and then bed - Sumanna, Dominican Republic tomorrow. DAY 6 - March 20th 2013 - Sumanna, Dominican Republic I was awake early this morning so headed up to deck 12 to take some photo's of the coast line as we arrived at Sumanna . As we did not have a trip booked we did not need to have breakfast early. As the ship cannot dock in Sumanna we had to get tender tickets so we could get on the tender boat to the shore. We waited by the pool for our tender number to be called. It seams that there were some technical issues as it was almost 1:00pm before we were able to board the tender. The boat ride took about 15 minutes from the ship to shore, as we got off we met some people we had been talking to the day before, they warned us that there was little to see and they had been hassled by the locals so they were headed back on board. We headed off the docking pier and onto a pathway leading to the town. We were instantly approached by lots of local men trying to get us to do island tours with then, there were so many of them that they were beginning to fight between themselves. We saw two men right next to us punch each other, we hurried on just keeping our eyes straight ahead... We were heading in the general direction of the town on a pretty walkway with good views over the harbor and our ship.. There were lots of beggars on this walk way and also people selling water and other drinks. There were some boys trying to sell polished shells. We could see some craft stalls up ahead and we headed for them. We did buy a sealed bottle of water as it was very very warm. Mum did buy a neckless for $15 but we decided that it was too hot and we did not want to walk any further so we headed back to the ship.. back on the tender boat we heard others saying that one lady had decided to buy the polished shell from the young boys on the walkway and when she got out her wallet to pay them the $1 they were asking one of the boys snatched her wallet and ran.... The views of the ship were amazing from the tender boat and we were able to get some good photos of the island too.. Back on board Explorer we headed to the solarium to chill out and read and use the hot tub. It was soon time to go for a shower and get ready for Dinner.. We did our usual activity after dinner and went to the show and then coffee and a snack before heading to bed.. DAY 7 - March 21st 2013 - Labadee Haiti Up at our usual time this morning, heading off to the windjammer for breakfast at about 8:30am. We have a hillside cabana book for the day so we went straight down to deck 1 to get off the ship as soon as we finished breakfast. We had heard they allocate the cabana's on a first come first served basis so we did not want to leave it too late.. it is a very short walk from the ship to the information desk on the island. We asked were we had to go to get to the cabana's and we were told to head over to the long golf cart and we would be taken there. We climbed on board and soon we were been taken to Barefoot Beach where we were checked in and each given a wristband that we had to wear for the day. we were then driven to our cabana on the hilside. We were met by Leon our cabana attendant for the day, he led us up the steps to our cabana. We had an amazing view of the ship and the beach. There was two loungers and a long sofa and two chairs for us to use.. there was plenty of towels although we had brought towels with us from the ship as it said in the Cruise Compass that no towels would be available on the island that day.. There was also a cooler box full of ice and 3 large bottles of water, Leon explained about access to the beach and also that we could get as many floating mats as we needed. He was also able to get any drinks we needed from the bar. I headed off to the beach to have a swim before it got too busy and also before the sun got too hot.. The water was wonderfully cool and as clear as clear can be. I swam out the the line of floats that were just below our cabana, I would recommend you bring water shoes to wear as the sand is made up of broken coral and pebbles and there is lots of small rocks under the water. Some of the other family members joined me in the water and we all had a very enjoyable swim. I started to feel the sun getting hot on my neck so decided to head back to the cabana to get out of the sun. As soon as I arrived back at the cabana Leon our attendant was there to see if I needed anything, he was the best. Soon it was time to head to Barefoot Beach for our lunch. While we joined the food line (not very long only about 6 people) Leon found us a table and got extra seats so we could all sit together. The BBQ lunch was very enjoyable there was salad, chicken jerk, spare ribs, shrimp, hotdogs and Burgers with all the usual sides, baked potato, fries, rice, veg and corn on the cob. There was a good selection of desserts including a wonderful fresh fruit selection. Leon was happy to get us any drinks we needed to go with lunch. Once we finished lunch we asked Leon how far it was to the Artisan Village he said about 5 minutes but he would get us a ride there. We only had to walk over to the gate to get on our golf cart that would take us to the Village. We had a good walk about the village looking at all the beautiful craft items that were for sale. It was hot and a post lunch nap was needed so we headed back to the cabana, as if by magic Leon was there to meet us. He had brought fresh bottles of cold water and had replaced all our towels with clean dry ones.. Before we knew it it was time to head back to the ship as we had to be back on board by 3:30pm, Leon called for the golf cart to take us back to the ship, we said our tanks to Leon and gave him a little something to show our thanks and we headed back to our home from home.. I had not realized just how hot it was outside until we stepped onto the ship and walked into a nice cool air conditioned space... Went straight to our cabins to shower and change as I think we has sand in places we did not want it to be!!! The Cabana was wonderful and worth every cent.. Met up with everyone at the Cafe Promenade where we chilled out until dinner. The show was excellent as always and we all fell into bed exhausted after a wonderful day on Labadee.. DAY 8 - March 22nd 2013 - At Sea I woke up extra early again this morning, so I headed down to the Cafe with my iPad to do some more of this blog.. Went to breakfast with the rest of the family at 8:30am in the Windjammer.. as we were at sea today the Windjammer was not too busy and we were able to sit for a while before we went to the Crown & Anchor sales people to get an Open Cruise Booking as we would like to book a cruise on the New Quantum of the Sea's in 2014. We then headed off to the photo center to sort out the formal photos we had had taken. We then headed up to the Viking Crown to find a comfortable seat with a good view to read for a while. As we were heading north it was cooler outside and there was only a few brave people in the pools but here was a few lying on loungers. The Captain was doing a presentation in the theater called "Captains Corner"so we went along to listen to the question and answers.. All the Executive Officers were on the stage and were taking question from the people in the audience. The Captain gave us an overview of the distance we had traveled and our cruise in general, the Chief Engineer gave some very detailed replies to questions about propulsion and energy that was generated on the ship. A few people asked about the new ships that are being built and if the Quantum of the Seas will be coming to Bayonne NJ.. none of the Executive officers would confirm or deny anything. So time will tell. We had a walk along the promenade and checked out some of the sale items they had to offer before heading to the Windjammer for some lunch.. After lunch we spent some time in the Casino playing the slots and then went to chill out for a while in the cabin. Tonight is the last formal night so we needed to get ready that bit earlier. I like dressing up for dinner and it was good to see that most people were dressed in formal attire, I would hate to see this part of the cruise disappear altogether.. We had been invited to a Crown & Anchor Top Tier event that was taking place in Studio B We were planning on going but my brother was not feeling to good so we decided to give it a miss. We went to the theater as usual and then Allen, Jon and myself went to Studio B to watch the Quest... Very Funny is all I will say!! DAY 9 - March 23rd 2013 - At Sea Up early again, so off I went to the Cafe Promenade for coffee, the waiters have got to know me and now come over to see how I am and ask what day I am writing about now!! They even know how I take my coffee and will bring a fresh one over every now and again.. Went back to the cabin in time to wake Jon for Breakfast at 8:30am. Again because we were at sea the Windjammer was not to busy and we were able to enjoy our breakfast in peace. It was now very cold outside and we did not see anyone sitting in the pools or hot tubs. Went to the Viking Crown to read for a while but as you can imagine it was very busy as nobody wanted to be outside. There was a towel folding demo being done so we got to see who they create the amazing animals we find in our cabins at bedtime.. before we knew it it was lunchtime and we went to the Windjammer as usual, then back up to the Viking Crown to read and have a afternoon drink, the Mojito's were wonderful. Soon it was time to head to the cabin and get out the cases from under the bed and pack.. It is always at this point that I always think I should make a list of the clothes I have actually worn so that I could pack less next time, but like always I just wanted to get everything in the cases as quickly as possible as this is the one part of the cruise I don't enjoy. We went to dinner for the final time and as always we had wonderful service and we enjoyed the food. Our waiters for the cruise Pascal & Carlos were very attentive and made each meal they served very enjoyable. As the gratuities are not automatically added to your Seapass account on a daily basis there were no envelopes to give our waiters but we gave them some cash as they went above and beyond to make sure all our needs were met.. The Farewell show was as good as all the other and we were a bit sad to leave the theater known that would be our last show for a while.. Coffee and Bed. DISEMBARKATION DAY - March 24th 2013 Woke up at my usual early time but today I did not go for coffee, I connected my iPhone and got all the emails that were sitting on the server waiting for me. We had decided to go for breakfast at 8:00am as the Windjammer closes at 9:00am.. it was very very busy and we were glad to finish our breakfast and go back to our cabin to collect our hand luggage and go to the theater to wait for our number to be called to leave the ship. As soon as our number was called we went down to deck 1 and left the Explorer of the Seas for the last time. Our luggage was just inside the luggage hall when we got off the shuttle bus so we were able to join the line to get through customs and immigration quite quickly. We had arranged for Dial 7 to pick us up and take us back to Penn Station for our trip home to Boston .. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We traveled four hours from Annapolis, MD to Bayonne, NJ. Once we hit Cape Liberty we were reminded of how Baltimore is a much better port. The process at Cape Liberty is disjointed making the initial start of the cruise just a little ... Read More
We traveled four hours from Annapolis, MD to Bayonne, NJ. Once we hit Cape Liberty we were reminded of how Baltimore is a much better port. The process at Cape Liberty is disjointed making the initial start of the cruise just a little annoying. First you drop off the luggage, find the pot-hole filled parking lot, pay $19 per day, walk back to the luggage drop off the wait for a bus to take you to the terminal. THEN once you check in, you wait for another bus to take you to the ship. Once finally on board, most of this is forgotten...until you have to reverse the process getting off when you return. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with our sailing for the first couple days. We encountered 100+ mile an hour winds with approx 25-30 ft waves. We were tossed around like a toy ship in a bathtub. As a result, three large windows in the Main Dining Room were blown out on the second evening. Fortunately, it was long after the last seating and no one was hurt. The windows remained boarded up for the remainder of the trip. The Captain kept us well informed of weather conditions and did extremely well keeping the Explorer and her passengers safe. KUDOS!! He was not happy, however, when he announced that we would have to miss our first port, Labadee. We had the extra sea day which was good, but a very long day in San Juan (not our favorite port). But we were safe and that was all we cared about. The Explorer is a beautiful ship. We had sailed her once before and it was a pleasure to sail on her again. Our stateroom (7620) was right around the corner from the elevator and next to the library which overlooked the Royal Promenade. We were very happy with our room and our attendant, Herman, although on the shy side, took very good care of us. One thing we were disappointed about was the lack of tables on the starbosrd side of the pool deck as other ships do. Even though I am not a smoker, those who do did not have a table to sit and enjoy a drink or meal with others. We hope they rethink this when the ship goes into dry dock in 2015. We were THRILLED to find Richard Spacey as our Cruise Director and Chris Walker as the Activities Manager. Even though this was Chris' first cruise on this particular ship, the pair were awesome together. The entire CD Staff were friendly, enthusiastic, helpful and fun. We participated in many of the activities such as Trivia, dance classes and other games. We are huge Quest fans and was not looking forward to the way it is handled on the larger ships...it is held in Studio B and the different sections make up the teams. Richard and Chris ampted things up by asking for four team captains per section...2 male/2 female. This made the "running" much easier. Our team of captains were great...a couple of which had never played the Quest but took off like old pros. We laughed so hard my cheeks hurt by the end of the 1 1/2 hours we played. The parades and 70's night in the Promenade were beyond fun...we danced and enjoyed every second. RCCL's new menu is nothing to write home about. As an example, the chicken cordon bleu was mushy on the outside, dry and tasteless on the inside with next to no cheese inside. Even the lobster was tough and tasteless. We found selections in the Windjammer to be much better...we even had make-you-own pizzas! All in all our trip was great and we are looking forward to our next cruise in November! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was our first time embarking out of Bayonne. It was a breeze! Chilly due to it being February, but no issues. We booked parking through Premium Parking, slightly cheaper than at pier. They picked us up and took us back to car as well. ... Read More
This was our first time embarking out of Bayonne. It was a breeze! Chilly due to it being February, but no issues. We booked parking through Premium Parking, slightly cheaper than at pier. They picked us up and took us back to car as well. Check in was easy. We had arrived about 10:30, did not board the ship till about 12:30-1pm so we had to wait in a waiting area. The ship seems to need some slight updating, but is still well functioning. No odd smells or torn carpets etc. Staff was constantly cleaning something somewhere. Always said hello etc. Windjammer Food did not impress me much, seemed to be overcrowded in there and the food was "cafeteria" quality in my personal opinion. Royal Promenade was very nicely decorated. No complaints. The bar tenders in the Weekend Warrior bar, Andre and Vladimir, were great. Fun to talk with, made great drinks and very people friendly. Didn't seem many shows, the ones we did were the one comedian and the Broadway musicals. Both were awesome. Main Dining Room: The first 2 nights service was awful. Took quite awhile to be served but our waiter Ronald was very apologetic and he definitely impressed us the other nights, having our drinks there on table already and very informative. Our wine/bread/assistant waiter was Muhammad and he was such a sweetheart. One night i was not feeling well and he brought me over tea and bread and was very helpful. The food was great. Not much complaint there. I highly suggest the warm chocolate cake dessert! Wish they had this every night. Room Service: We did use it often. Delivered within 20 minutes usually. Food was always hot and well cooked. No complaints. We tipped the person bringing room service. The first 2 and last 2 days at sea were very cold, given the time of year. Seas were so rough the last 2 days home, they had to drain the water from the pools. Disembarkation was a breeze. Literally all of 20 minutes. It was great! Overall a very enjoyable time. Would definitely go on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My husband, six year old son and I just returned from a 9 night cruise on board the Explorer of the Seas. Having cruised on Carnival, Norwegian and Disney we thought we knew the routine. We were wrong! I have also worked on cruise ships. I ... Read More
My husband, six year old son and I just returned from a 9 night cruise on board the Explorer of the Seas. Having cruised on Carnival, Norwegian and Disney we thought we knew the routine. We were wrong! I have also worked on cruise ships. I worked as a production singer for 5 years for Celebrity Cruises and Costa Cruises (yes Captain Schettino was my safety officer on board the Costa Atlantica.) Royal Caribbean was by far the best cruise line we have sailed. From the moment we boarded the ship to the time we disembarked the staff and crew made us feel like we were the only and most important guests on the ship. To follow are some details of our voyage. Embarkation: The whole process took about two hours. The reason it was so long was because we arrived rather early (10:30am). Next time (and believe me we will be back!) we will aim for a later arrival time but being that we have never embarked from Bayonne we thought it best to arrive early. The previous cruisers are not off the ship until about 11:30am so you must wait until about 12:00-12:30pm to embark and then you have to wait until 1:30pm to go to your cabin. Advice: bring few carry-on items and make sure they have wheels as you will be lugging them around the ship for a few hours. The waiting process is not painful by any means and they begin feeding you in the terminal as you wait. They had refreshments and cookies for all the waiting guests. It was a comfortable area to sit and really not too bad. It was difficult to hear the boarding announcements. All the guests board shuttles to the ship and you wait to hear your number called. The poor ladies calling the numbers had a horrible amplification system to work with and it was very difficult to hear them. Once we were on board there was the welcome lunch at the Windjammer Buffet on Deck 11. The food was not very good this day. This was the only meal I didn't love. I believe it was because they were preparing food for too many people at once. It was incredibly crowded and they kept making announcements to move people along. I found that part a bit strange and pushy. However, looking back I think they were just trying to make sure everyone was fed. A noble cause! Cabin: Our cabin was way up in the front on deck 8 (cabin 8214; large ocean view stateroom). We were pleasantly surprised with the size. It was much larger than our Disney Cabin with a balcony (on the Disney Magic they have a horrible split bathroom that takes up half the cabin space). The room was a bit worn; stains on the carpet, worn looking fixtures in the bathroom, broken curtain. Our Cabin attendant, Pedro was very attentive to our needs. They did fix the curtain right away without me even asking which was great. Pedro filled our water bottles every night and made sure our cabin was spotless. So, I can forgive the age of the cabin. It was very clean! That's more important in my opinion. There was quite a bit of movement in this area of the ship but being an old sea hag I came prepared with our sea bands, ginger pills and ginger gum. We were very comfortable even though we had pretty rough seas coming back. The beds are a bit hard but we did adjust within 2 days and then slept like rocks. The cabin area was very quiet with the bridge above. The window was lovely. It was big and tilted inward so it was an even better view outside than having a balcony cabin. I don't think I'll waste money on a balcony cabin again (unless it's a suite) since 3-4 of the 9 days this time of year are spent inside due to cold and wind. We loved the shower with shower doors and the water pressure was strong. Advice: bring a can of lysol as the toilets do emit an odor even when not in use. You could not smell the odor outside the bathroom. The space inside the cabin was sufficient for all our clothes and luggage. Entertainment: We LOVED the entertainment. The cruise director, Richard Spacey was unbelievable! In all my years cruising I have never worked with or seen such an amazing cruise director. He should seriously have his own TV show on land he's that good. The headliners were fantastic. Jeff Tracta was incredible. He played "Thorn" on the Bold and The Beautiful. His act was impressions and he totally brought down the house! It was a very creative show. So very talented and a very nice man. I spoke with him for a few minutes at lunch the day after his show and he was just so very humble and nice. The comedians were great and we really enjoyed the act dedicated to Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. The Production shows were not as strong but I'm biased being an ex-production show singer. The performers were extremely talented but all the shows seemed the same in intensity and content. It felt very pushed; not the performers' fault. The ice show was excellent, excellent, excellent! I was in tears it was so good. The Cruise Director's daily "Morning Show" on channel 14 is not to be missed. I was in tears from laughing so hard! 70's night was a blast! The activities were very good and the contests by the pool were hilarious (belly flop etc.). The Kids Program was good. The facilities were not as large or extensive as Disney but my son had a good time. They also had some family activities. My husband is the new Gaga Ball champ from that cruise! I felt like a kid again playing the games with my son on family night. It was a lot of fun. Food: The food was great. We also had a tremendous wait staff. Desi our waitress and Elias her assistant were phenomenal. Not only did they do a fantastic job making dinner suggestions, but they also entertained our 6 year old every night with magic tricks and lots of attention. We felt so special under their care. The head waiter was also excellent; attending to any special requests. We miss them so much!!!!! The food always arrived hot and was delicious. The choices were varied. The desserts were to die for! My husband and I must of gained about 10 pounds on this cruise! The buffets for breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Restaurant were also excellent; always a great variety and wonderfully prepared. The desserts in the Promenade Cafe were delicious as well. Room service always arrived on time and was a nice option when having to disembark early for an excursion in port. Can you tell we did a lot of eating?! We did not eat in any of the "pay" restaurants because the included food was so good. Ports: This cruise docked/tendered in 4 ports: San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Samana, Dominican Republic and Labadee Haiti. All 4 ports provided for a great time for us a family. We shopped and went to Senor Frogs in San Juan (my son loved that part). I spent a few hours hunting down all the free giveaways and raffles from the port shopping lectures. That was a lot of fun. I did end up buying a beautiful but affordable sterling sliver citrine ring from Effie Jewelers. They were very attentive to my shopping needs. In St. Thomas we took the Sapphire Beach and drive excursion from the ship. What a beautiful tour! The beach was not very crowded and the views were spectacular. The drive back and forth was just as breathtaking. I highly recommend this tour. We also took a ship excursion in Samana. This was a tendering port. We went to Cayo Levatado for another beach day. We spent the day lounging and eating locally caught fish and tried the local beer "Presidente". It was another winner. What a beautiful place! Labadee was amazing as well and yet another beach day. The beaches were beautiful and there were lots of great wooden crafts to buy from the locals at rock bottom prices. We had amazing weather for all of our port days. Misc: My son had a very bad sunburn under his eyelids and we took him to the medical doctor on board. The care he received was excellent and the bedside manner of the staff made him feel at ease. One of our suitcases sustained some handle damage during embarkation. I went to guest services to inquire about a claim. They were very professional and guest minded when dealing with our situation and quickly sent someone to our cabin to handle our issue. The Captain was always visible and participating in events and lectures with the guests. I have never seen this in all my years of cruising. Very impressive! In conclusion, what made this the best cruise for us so far was the service. Yes, the ship is beautiful and the food was great but the staff on board this ship is special. It's very difficult to pinpoint what it is that they are doing that makes it such a special experience but I believe they have cracked the code to customer satisfaction. We did not want to leave and we can't wait to book another cruise on board the Explorer of the Seas!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Explorer of the Seas -- Feb. 1 to 10, 2013 Flew into EWR day before cruise. Stayed at Newark Airport Marriott. Very nice hotel with a great restaurant. Took car service to the Bayonne the next day. Embarkation: Arrived at port ... Read More
Explorer of the Seas -- Feb. 1 to 10, 2013 Flew into EWR day before cruise. Stayed at Newark Airport Marriott. Very nice hotel with a great restaurant. Took car service to the Bayonne the next day. Embarkation: Arrived at port around 10:45 and were onboard by 11:30. No problems boarding whatsoever. Went directly to dining room to check out our table (431- nice round table for 8). Then to spa for formal night hair appointments. After that Windjammer for a bite to eat and at 1:30 ready to go to the cabin. We were in 1244 junior suite. Great size with walk in closet and double balcony (the closet big enough to roll wheelchair in with easy access to the pull down rack for clothing.) We asked room steward for a lounge chair on the balcony and he brought us one. Entertainment: Pretty good. Have seen some of the shows before. Tribute to the Temptations was our favorite. Didn't like the guy who did impressions -- his only saving grace was Elvis impersonation. Loved the Latin dance band in Aquarium bar. Spice up on pool deck - good band but didn't have very long sets. Two or three tunes and they were outta there! For the most part, entertainment lacked IMPO. Last year's Eclipse cruise had outstanding shows. Food: New menu selections very nice. Great scallops. No escargot (market shortage). Every beef entree we ordered was tough. I complained and the head waiter gave a comp filet mignon which was delicious. No sure why they can't do beef right. Pasta dishes were always good. One night salmon great, next time dry. We ate in Portofino and it was excellent. The service stellar and the food a few steps up from the MDR. Room service breakfast was hit and miss (they kept forgetting stuff). We were on deck 10 so running over to Windjammer to grab breakfast was no problem. Overall: Nice cruise. Probably my last time on the Explorer. Too much smoke for me. Even on the formal night with no smoking in the casino it still reeked. Hanging at the bars or the Chamber at night was not for me because of that. Repeat guest party was bogus, cheap drinks and no food, pretty much a waste of time. Oh to have the good old days when those parties were fun to attend. Other than smoke issues ship nice and clean. Service very good. Capt. Olaf was great. The last night of cruise and all day Saturday we had rough seas, he kept us informed of the conditions on a regular basis. The Explorer is a beautiful ship, getting a little long in the tooth and in need of the 2014 refurb. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Although this review is written by a first time cruiser be assured that I know what Great service, and a Great time is!My husband and I decided on a cruise for our honeymoon as it is such a great value for you money!We choose Royal because ... Read More
Although this review is written by a first time cruiser be assured that I know what Great service, and a Great time is!My husband and I decided on a cruise for our honeymoon as it is such a great value for you money!We choose Royal because my sister has cruised with them twice already, and absolutely loved it! She is quite picky about service, food and accommodations so I knew I was in for some first class ( royal ) treatment! Leaving from New Jersey was convenient and the whole process went quite smoothly and quick. we were on board in 25 minutes! Our rooms were ready and much bigger they we expected.Our luggage was a little late it arrived around 7:00pm,but we did attend dinner in the main dinning room anyways.The quality of the food, menu choices and the service were superb. Bravo to the dinning staff!!!! My husband, who is quite fussy found many choices every night on the menu that he loved. A special note, all the waiters, cabin staff,ect. were all so happy to help and accommodate us all with a smile. But I got a few peeks behind the scenes, when no one knew I was looking and there they were, laughing and having fun at work. That is the sign of some GREAT employees they truly were happy to be there and that's why they did their jobs so well! Thank you Jevey, our main dinning room waiter, and Adelle our cabin attendant. This ship is breathtaking! Attention to detail is outstanding.The ice skating show is a DO NOT MISS! That was fabulous. We went on 2 shore excursions, St. Thomas half day champagne cruise. This was a blast. We sailed to St Johns where we snorkeled or just lay ed around on the beach, quite relaxing. The staff were wonderful and the champagne and rum punch were flowing on the way back!!!also we took the sandbar excursion on Haiti wow that was great!I must say I was really surprised by Labadee Haiti! this is Royal's private beach area on Haiti. What a beautiful location! There were beaches for kids, beaches for adults plenty of chaises,not at all what I expected from the pictures.They made it look very commercial. But that was not the case at ALL. This was our last stop before returning home. The ship arrived rite on time, we waited 45 minutes on board and then went through customs, total process 1 hour.We will certainly cruise with Royal again! like next year!!!!We can't wait!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
I will say the ship is lovely and in great shape. The decor is more understated then Carnival which is nice. The ship is very clean and well maintained. We arrived at Cape Liberty at 11:00am, we were held in the big, cold terminal for ... Read More
I will say the ship is lovely and in great shape. The decor is more understated then Carnival which is nice. The ship is very clean and well maintained. We arrived at Cape Liberty at 11:00am, we were held in the big, cold terminal for about 45 minutes.Once we got the shuttle to the ship it was smooth sailing (or quick boarding). The terminal was a very negative experience. Cold, crowded and no real class to the process. You don't get that welcome feeling. Once on the ship we made our way to lunch. It could be the cruisers from this particular port of departure but they were pushy and rude in the Windjammer. It was like a feeding frenzy. Other then that the food was very good and the staff very courteous and helpful. Our cabin was ready at 1:30pm and our luggage already there. We had a Promenade cabin with a nice view of deck five. Our cabin Steward was Iris and she did a fine job. We let her know we were "low maintenance" and we didn't expect any extra service. She did a wonderful job and remained low key. Just the way we like it. As I said she did a fine job and we were very satisfied. The entertainment was excellent and Richard Spacey, the Cruise Director was very entertaining and fun. The MDR food was excellent. Lots of new foods to try. The menu had many vegetarian choices which we loved.The service in the MDR was excellent at dinner ( Our waiter Francisco and Assistant Letisha were very good.Other meal service at breakfast and lunch in the MDR was hit or miss. The ports of call where San Juan, St.Thomas, Samana ( D.R.) and Labadee. We recommend Terry's Tours in Samana. Very adventurous. If you have trouble walking distances don't go as there is a longish walk to the falls. I loved the whole experience. St. Thomas was a nice beach day for us. We took a taxi to Emerald Beach ( a resort there) and just rented chairs and umbrella and spent the day. A nice spot, clean calm waters. The whole day cost 48.00 for two people. San Juan was worthless. All in all a good cruise. I liked cruising without having to fly but am not sure about doing it again. The other cruisers were at times pushy, rude and loud. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
This was my 24th cruise -- I've also sailed on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, and Princess. I was pleasantly surprised by the ship's condition -- we last sailed her in August 2009 and she seems to be in ... Read More
This was my 24th cruise -- I've also sailed on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, and Princess. I was pleasantly surprised by the ship's condition -- we last sailed her in August 2009 and she seems to be in similar condition today. Of course there is a little rust here and there, but nothing excessive or unexpected for a ship that sails year-round through the North Atlantic. Pre-Cruise: We took Amtrak from Boston to Newark, and stayed at the Hilton Newark Penn Station. The hotel was very nice, and the front desk staff in particular were extremely helpful. The breakfast wasn't very inspiring, but at least it was free as we had booked a concierge level room. The hotel arranged a car service to take us to the port and it was a pleasant and uneventful ride. Boarding: We arrive at Cape Liberty at 10:30AM -- what a difference being a suite guest makes at that port! We quickly went through the check-in process, had our photo snapped, and went to the private waiting area that had upgraded seating. It was decently warm in the area, but I kept my coat on most of the time. About 12:00 the busses arrived to take us to the ship. First they took passengers who needed wheelchairs and scooters, and then suite guest, Diamond-Plus, and Pinnacle members. There were quite a few Diamond-Plus and Pinnacle guests on this sailing so the waiting area did not have adequate seating for everyone. On the ship we were directed to the Windjammer Cafe. A quick attempt to see if our room might be ready led us to discover that crew members were stationed in each elevator lobby to ensure no one tried to access their rooms before 1:30. After lunch, we headed down to our stateroom. Stateroom: The stateroom was huge (for a cruise ship!) and had lots of storage. It was mostly well-maintained, there was one light switch that was a bit tricky to operate and the batteries on the TV remote needed to be replaced, but there were no major problems. I was allergic to something in/on the bedspread or pillows, so our stateroom attendant changed out the bedspread and brought me a small foam pillow (not really memory foam, but no what you'd think of as a foam pillow either). New & Improved: A few welcome changes since 2009 -- guests no longer have to wear/bring their lifejackets to Muster Drill. It was quickly completed, but the seriousness of the crew was obvious -- no food/drinks were allowed and guests were told to put their cell phones away and listen. Also, no ice show tickets are required; instead you go to the show based on your Muster station. We had one non-suite stateroom in our group that was not near the others, but they were able to get in through the standby line to attend with us. Starbucks has arrived next to Ben & Jerry's! Dining & Bar Service: I loved the MDR food -- but I'm strictly a fish/vegetable eater and like food that is not quite like what I eat at home. DH is strictly a meat and potatoes guy -- he liked the chicken but complained that the beef was inconsistent -- one night it was quite good, another it was tough. DD is among the pickiest eaters in the world. When there was no entree on the menu that she would even consider, our fabulous waiter Eric was able to help with a modified entree, which she ordered all nine nights of our cruise. She was happy so I can't complain. We all agreed that the MDR desserts were excellent. As suite guests we had breakfast options that others don't have -- full room service menu and Portofino -- and we took advantage of those -- one of our favorite benefits. Lunches in the MDR were pretty good. I enjoyed the Windjammer because I really like Asian food and curry, and there were a lot of choices. DD enjoyed it because she loved pizza. DH was less impressed with the Windjammer. Our friends tried out the new alcohol package and said that it was worthwhile and they would do it again. We don't drink much so it wouldn't have been worthwhile for us -- our bar bill combined was less than we would have paid for one person with the drink package. I did buy two drinks in souvenir glassware (shot glass and margarita glass) as I enjoy using the glassware at home. I bought the soda package for DD and that didn't work out so well. She loved the freestyle soda machines, but wouldn't carry her cup around and never ordered soda at meals so we probably paid about $4 per soda with the package! I should have bought it for me though, because one of the choices in the machines is flavored Dasani water-- which I would have used. Entertainment: Richard Spacey is a great cruise director -- we loved him! The ice show was spectacular; we saw it twice and really wished we had a chance to see it again or another show! We enjoyed the guest entertainers -- a Four Seasons Tribute group, comedian Rick Novell, and Impressionist Jeff Tracta were all excellent. The production shows were okay. We liked "Fast Forward" -- it was my third time to see it and this was the best cast I've seen. The cast was excellent, but Wild,Cool, and Swingin suffered from poor musical selections in my opinion; and "Invitation to Dance" reminded me why I don't watch "Dancing with the Stars." We enjoyed the guilty pleasure of watching the belly flop and sexiest man contest at the pool. We never actually got in a pool or a hot tub -- on Day 8 when we normally would have spent the day by the pool the weather didn't cooperate. We aren't sun worshippers so we hung out on our balcony more than pool side. There were lots of activities to choose from each day -- we just didn't have time to do them all! I don't gamble but DH does -- he did bingo once and went to the casino daily. He broke even in the casino, which I consider a win! We did spend a LOT of time in Studio B. DD is an ice princess so we skated five or six times. For those of you who like to skate bring your own skates and you can go to the 9AM 'Advanced' sessions. You don't have to really be an advanced skater as long as you can actually skate. Most mornings DD and I were the only ones on the ice from 9 -- 10 and skating on a moving ship is a lot of fun! The ice show cast worked during the open sessions, and we were lucky enough that Vaughn Chipeur was at many of our sessions. He was a member of 2010 Canadian Olympic team and was such a nice guy to talk to -- actually all of the ice show cast were very friendly and meeting them was one of our cruise highlights. They are requiring all guests to wear helmets on the ice now -- DD wasn't thrilled with that but I saw one person go into the boards who was definitely saved by the helmet, so I see why they require them. DD went to the teen club one time with the other teens in our group, and then went to the teen skate at Studio B. This cruise only had 100 teens on it, and most were younger than her, plus she's not that thrilled with meeting new people so it wasn't her thing. We enjoyed a couple of evenings in the Schooner Bar singing along with Tony B. DD's musical tastes are 60s, 70s and 80s songs so she was more than content to sit with us and sing along. We went to 'Don't Forget the Lyrics' and 'Quest' and enjoyed both of those activities. Ports: Samana was one of our favorite ports. We took a tour with Terry and it was so nice to see something beyond the port area or Cayo Levantado, which we visited last time we were in Samana. I highly recommend booking a tour in Samana -- our friends did another beach and were not very happy with their tour. The tender service was very efficient and our timing was great -- we arrived just as the tender was completing boarding not once, but twice and were able to be among the last to board with no waiting at all. Labadee was our other favorite port. We rented a cabana -- highly recommend! DD tried the water park and hated it -- it takes a lot of upper body strength and energy to enjoy it -- the rest of the kids in our group loved it. We all did the water slide and enjoyed it -- the slide was a bit tame for the kids but perfect for me! We braved the vendor area and picked up a few things from the less pushy vendors -- but it was exhausting as they all are trying so hard to sell you something -- anything. Disembarkation: As suite guests, we received priority disembarkation -- they even had an elevator with an attendant reserved just for us. What a difference this made in the embarkation process -- we were off the ship and through customs very quick with no issues. It was a very relaxing process. Other: As some have reported -- there is a slight problem with smoke smell drifting up from the casino to the Promenade. This is a shame because I love the Promenade and found that there were areas I couldn't really enjoy because of the smell, but I was able to escape it fairly easily be moving away from the casino stairway. It didn't significantly lessen my enjoyment of the cruise. We rebooked on board and will most likely be sailing Explorer (or whatever ship replaces her) in 2015 as our next cruise. We love the convenience of not having to fly to the port, and since we love being on the ship the extra sea days, even with less than desirable weather, are something we really enjoy. Unfortunately, I think we're hooked on the whole suite experience now so I hope we can find a good deal on a suite in 2015! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We arrived at perhaps the worst embarkation port on the east coast. This area has not changed since WWII, utilizing 1930 type Navy Buildings that have not been refurbished since the 1940-1950. We were checked in promptly at 1015AM and ... Read More
We arrived at perhaps the worst embarkation port on the east coast. This area has not changed since WWII, utilizing 1930 type Navy Buildings that have not been refurbished since the 1940-1950. We were checked in promptly at 1015AM and proceeded to wait in the dingy building until 1200PM. It then took another 20 minutes to board a bus which drove us less than 800-1000 ft to the ship. Boy,I was glad that horror was finished. We immediately went to the windjammer for Lunch which was just OK. We were trying to eat and relax at a table,when over the speaker they kept announcing for us to give up our table as soon as possible to allow 3500 guest to eat in the windjammer that probably only holds 500-700 seats. Hey I'm on a relaxing cruise...don't rush me. The rooms were ready on time. The ship may be 13 years old and it was SPOTLESS, WHISTLE CLEAN, ALL BRASS / CHROME WAS SHINING. The ship looked as good as our first voyage in 2005. We chose dining anytime seating with other guests traveling as couples. We liked our table of new friends so we decided to sit together every nite at the same table which is similar to regular dining.The dining room staff was sensational and took care of our every need promptly. A shout out to waiter Augusto Dias for his great service. Concerning the food,all i will say it was Hit Or Miss as to the selection you decided to choose. The biggest hit was the specialty restaurant Portofino where the food was 5 star. We ate our breakfast in the windjammer cafe which offers enough selections for every nationality. My only concern was the food temperature as i like it hot, not warm..but that's me. The entertainment was average, however the cruise manager, Richard Spacey, was outstanding as an Entertainer, besides being the manager. This man ranks number one in making you laugh, dance and have a good time. Best cruise manager in our 15 past cruises. THE PORTS OF CALL: PUERTO RICO...Pulling in at 4pm and leaving at 11pm is poor ship planning SAINT THOMAS....Not what it used to be, too crowded,too many jewelry stores SAMAMA DR...THIRD WORLD, TERRIBLE, NOT WORTH THE STOP LABRODEE HAITI...Separate private island. Beautiful area,nice beaches & shopping & very safe & secure from any potential crime. The main complaint is not the cruise line fault. It is the 2 1/2 day down and 2 1/2 day back in rough seas, cold weather and no sunny skies on all 2 previous trips. Next time we will fly to Florida or Puerto Rico and avoid the freezing weather.Arrived back in cape liberty on time...Only to put up with an outdated system of passenger pick up that is by far the worst of the worst drop off area in the entire USA....Please RCI use your clout AND POWER to force Cape Liberty authorities to improve this DOUBLE NIGHTMARE (DROP OFF/PICK UP) Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
To celebrate my husband's 62nd birthday, I booked a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. We had taken a previous cruise on the Explorer and were 99% satisfied with that trip, but I became a little worried after reading numerous ... Read More
To celebrate my husband's 62nd birthday, I booked a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. We had taken a previous cruise on the Explorer and were 99% satisfied with that trip, but I became a little worried after reading numerous negative reviews about the appearance of the ship, the horrible and boring food selections, the apathy of the staff, etc. Well, I can put all that negativity to rest! My hubby and I had an absolutely wonderful time on this cruise - one of the top three we have ever taken! First - embarkation. We arrived at the Port at about 11 a.m. and were treated "Royally" due to our Elite status. There was some confusion due to the previous cruise arriving back in port an hour later than scheduled, but we worked around it and were on the ship and in the Windjammer Cafe in relatively short time. Food - this is the first time that we had late seating for dinner and I was a little leery of eating dinner that late (8:30 p.m.) with my health issues but we decided to give it a try. Well, we absolutely loved it - it was so much more relaxing than the main seating where we had to leave whatever we were doing to rush back to our cabin to prepare for 6 p.m. dinner. We will book late seating for all future cruises! The options on the menu each evening were varied and we always found something appealing to order. The food was cooked to our liking and quite tasty! Kudos to Chef Dennis who we had the opportunity to meet and speak with. There was one minor mishap in that I found bacon bits in my New England Clam Chowder - on a Friday...during the Lenten Season. Chef Dennis was very apologetic and blackend salmon was served to our entire table; even though it was not on the menu! Also, a shout-out to our wonderful waiter Edmund, and assistant waiter, Juan. The service was outstanding! Accommodations - we had a mid-ship balcony and were very pleased with our cabin steward, Joseph G., who went out of his way to make sure we had everything our hearts desired! The cabin was always straightened - even after our mid-day naps; we got extra towels without asking (some used for our towel animals) and he just made our cruise even that much more enjoyable! Ports - since we had been to the ports before, our ultimate goal was to relax and enjoy all activities, etc. on the ship and not do the "running around touristy thing." We stayed poolside and chilled; although hubby did disembark for Labadee to a while and said it was absolutely gorgeous. Entertainment - Didn't enjoy the singers/dancers as much this trip. They were too loud and the shows were the same. They really need to update their material! The ice show was superb, as expected, and did not disappoint. They should do more, though. Perhaps open skating/instruction with guests? I absolutely loved Jeff Tracta and the comedians were good, too. The highlight of the cruise, though, was definitely Richard Spacey and Frankie! They are hysterically funny - ALL THE TIME! Love your sox, Richard! Disembarkation - We did the Express Walk Off. The ship was docked and cleared by about 7:30 a.m. or so and we were off the ship by 8:20 a.m., in our car and on our way home by 8:30 a.m. The end to a very enjoyable, relaxing cruise. Bon voyage, Explorer....we will definitely see you again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
This was the first time I sailed out of someplace other than Fla. I figured I would give it a shot. I have always sailed with RCI and I feel that the past cruises are a fair comparison. Leaving out of Cape Liberty was a painless and ... Read More
This was the first time I sailed out of someplace other than Fla. I figured I would give it a shot. I have always sailed with RCI and I feel that the past cruises are a fair comparison. Leaving out of Cape Liberty was a painless and quick process. We parked right at the dock (19.00 Per day) No issues. Since we were accustomed to sailing out of Fla... The cold days were a change of pace for me. The view of Manhattan and the statue of Liberty were to die for. Since we were repeat customers, we knew what to expect. With that being said, the only things I am going to touch on here are the negatives/ changes that we have noticed since our last cruise 3 years ago. Day One: Easy boarding, staterooms were ready at 1:30 as promised. While the ship is showing it's age, it's still beautiful. I found a lack of activities to be involved with during the cold days at sea. Usually we'd be partying on the pool deck, since that was not possible, I figured my husband and I would spend some time in the solarium during the cold days....totally forgetting that this class of ship does not have an enclosed solarium. I would suggest to RCI that in the future, maybe they should provide the ports with cold weather in the winter time, ships that have enclosed pool areas, just a thought. This was the ONLY day we ate in the dining room. Day two-At Sea I decided to kill the boredom by getting a facial. First time I have ever used the spa services on board. While it's expensive.... it's so worth it. I plan to utilize the spa services on board more often from this point on. Day Three-At Sea Spent most of the day checking out the ship. Went to the "screening room" While I expected it to be small, what i didn't expect was the lack of being able to view the screen unless you sit in the very front row. We ended up leaving because so many folks (adults) were playing musical chairs and talking. Day Four- Labadee- This was my first time at ALL the ports on this itinerary. My husband and I decided to try the zip line on the island. It was a blast. I thought it looked scarier than it was. Actually- the ride out side of the resort area to get to the zip line platform, was the scariest part. I was surprised at how breathtaking the island was. We plan on visiting the island again and spending the entire day on the beach. Day Five- San Juan- We have never been to this port and decided to stay on the ship and take advantage of the empty pool deck! Day Six- St Thomas- At this port we booked an excursion to swim with the sea-lions at Coral World. We had a fantastic time. Remo was a wonderful "little" guy (500 lbs) I love to have experiences such as this one. something you may never have the opportunity to do again. I highly recommend any of the excursions at Coral World. After our excursion we did a little shopping at the port and then made our way back to the ship. The husband and I are people watchers and LOVE to watch folks, so we spent alot of time on the ship. Day Seven- St Maarten- Nothing planned at this port. We walked into town and went to a couple stores then waled the boardwalk. This place is beautiful and if you have the money a wonderful place to buy Jewelry. Day Eight- At sea....... Decent Day at sea.. Took in some sun ( the last of it before returning to winter) Day Nine- At sea- 70's night- Parades and Dancing on the ship Day Ten- At sea- WOW- The front that came thru the east that created the weird weather caught up to us. Today the seas were SOOO bad.... I didn't even get out of bed until dinner time, and we ordered room services. We were both ready to go home after this day at sea. The Food: The food in the dining room as well as the windjammer did not meet our expectations. The food in the dining room was not the quality that we were used t from RCI. Which is why we only ate in the dining room one night. on Day two we went to the windjammer and discovered you can practically get the same food there as you can in the dining room. Which is why we opted out of formal dining all week. Next time- we will go for the my time dining plan in the dining room. The best food on the entire ship was at the Cafe Promenade and Johnny Rockets.. we ate twice at Johnny Rockets and were at the cafe all the time for sandwiches and cookies. Just was not up to snuff as it was on the previous cruises we have been on. The service: As always the service was great. Everyone was friendly and Leigh and Frankie were awesome! The service from the dining room staff left a lot to be desired. The staff there didn't seem to engage the guests like the ones we have been accustomed to. Over all, we had no issues with the service and if there was something we needed, it was provided to us promptly. The shopping: This is where i was Truly disappointed and frustrated... If you have cruised before you know every day is a sale. On this ship, they would rope the tables off and would not even allow you to touch the merchandise before the sale began. This created crowds and chaos on deck 5. often jamming foot traffic to the point where the disabled folks had issues getting through on that deck. One of the final days of the cruise, there were women who were almost engaged in violence over the 2 for 20.00 t-shirt sale. I found this to be ridiculous. Especially since most of the folks who were on this cruise were >40 years old. When the confrontation began,no employees, not even security did anything to stop it. in my opinion it was ridiculous. Both on the part of the guests as well as the cruise line. I do not know why you would create such chaos over a T-shirt sale. Especially since these sales that were only supposed to last for a few hours were found the very next day in the stores at the SAME SALE price... WOW. All in all We had a good time. We learned to stand back and watch the fights, wait until they were over and then get our sale merchandise. I guess people just forget how to act! Some of the activities that we usually participate in were not as prominent on this cruise. I assume the reason is that most of the crowd was older. The Chamber was empty most nights, with the exception of Disco night. Battle of the sexes was fun and we missed out on the quest ( it just does not seem as fun as it did when we were younger) The most fun I had on this cruise was the time I spent at the cafe talking to an 89 year old gentleman named Howard. He was living life!!!! I hope to have 1/2 as much energy as he does when I am his age! He was the superstar of the cruise! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
I signed up for the Meet & Mingle. Received an email saying info will be sent to my cabin. I never received any info on it. My biggest disappointment was a lack of activities to do during the day, especially when it's too cold ... Read More
I signed up for the Meet & Mingle. Received an email saying info will be sent to my cabin. I never received any info on it. My biggest disappointment was a lack of activities to do during the day, especially when it's too cold to go outside. They need better activities to do during the day. It's a good thing they have the Promenade to kill time. Loved the promenade & the parades etc on it. Sales were great at the shops. The Palace shows were as someone on here described it "cheesy". I didn't go to them all because I was bored with them. The comedian who juggled on a ladder was a riot. I laughed through the whole show. The other comedian was so-so. Leigh's top 10 stupidest questions following him were a lot funnier than the comedian himself. Leigh is great. Frank was good too. The Ice show was fabulous. Too bad there was only one. Every one raves about the Quest Game. I thought it was dumb but that's just my opinion as most people seemed to love it. I like Trivia games so I went to as many as I could. Karaoke was a lot of fun too. I thought they still had midnight buffets but they don't. The last planned activity was usually around 11:00. I am a fussy eater but found plenty of things to eat at any time of day. I liked the Windjammer but by the time you get your food & found a place to sit, the food was cold. Get a drink & place it & something on the table to save it then get your food & it won't be cold. Dinner at the Main Dining Room took 2 hours every night. Shout out to Costyntine (sp?)our waiter. Loved the waiters singing. My favorite thing to do on a ship at night is to "party" at the pool with music, dancing & entertainment. They scheduled 3 parties on the pool deck then changed all 3 to the Promenade. Very disappointing. Not one night of partying at the pool. Had great time at the Chamber on Disco night. Other times we went there & no one was there. The Caribbean band they had was great& they played a lot. I don't gamble so I didn't go to the Casino except to pass through it but my niece won just under $100.00 spending $4.00. Service at Ben & Jerry's ice cream was just about non existent. I stood there for 10 minutes waiting for service. They just seem to ignore the ice cream customers. You have to pay for it also so you would think you'd get better service. I miss the raspberry strudel & brownies at the Cafe Promenade. Yum! Good service there. We lucked out the day before returning to Bayonne with a beautiful sunny warm day at the pool. Day 10 was a freezing 25 degrees. Back to reality!! All and all I was not all that impressed with EOS & wouldn't go back again. Two people in my family were first time cruisers & they have no interest in doing it again at all. My sister's 3rd cruise & she's through with cruising. She says the quality is not there anymore like it used to be. I'm not sure if I would go again either. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our cruise was very nice and we had a lot of fun, but that does not eliminate the fact that not everything was perfect. The Windjammer was constantly crowded, the new menu is inadequate, the entertainment was on the boring side, and the ... Read More
Our cruise was very nice and we had a lot of fun, but that does not eliminate the fact that not everything was perfect. The Windjammer was constantly crowded, the new menu is inadequate, the entertainment was on the boring side, and the staffing levels are unacceptably low. I sailed on this ship a year ago and everything was different this time. The basic features of the ship remain unchanged, but the service on the ship needs improvement. The Windjammer had the best food on the ship so everyone seemed to come in bunches. Royal Caribbean condensed the Windjammer hours since my last cruise. They eliminated the late night dining in the Windjammer and the Cafe Promenade stayed crowded the entire trip. At the Windjammer, we constantly endured an annoying announcement for people to finish eating and surrender their tables for others to enjoy their dining experience. It is offensive for the cruise line to rush people dining during a dream vacation. Hilariously, one night we met our formal dining waiters in the Windjammer because they stated only a few showed up for formal dining. Consequently, they reassigned them to the Windjammer for the evening. The lemonade was scarce during the cruise and was only available during lunch and dinner; however, the only place where it was pleasurable was in the formal dining rooms anyway. Most of the lemonade was like flavored lemon water. Servers who operated the self-service drink stations discouraged your insistence for a fresh drink. They encouraged you to take the warm and watered down glasses already lining the trays. Lemonade is the only sweetened beverage that one can drink without paying extra. The brand of white sugar Royal Caribbean uses does not sweeten very well and the raw brown sugar disappeared completely after the first few days of the cruise. The poor availability of the lemonade did not affect me as much as many because I paid $74.75 for the Coca Cola Entertainment Beverage Package, which allows unlimited refills of your electronically activated cup at a few self-service stations throughout the ship. They advertised over 100 choices of beverages, to include various flavors of Coke, Sprite, Diet sodas, Hi-C, Fanta, and Dasani drinks. Not instigating a conspiracy theory, but if the shoe fits ... Many people seemed to use Cafe Promenade as a substitute for the sub-standard selections at formal dinner. Lemonade was not available in Cafe Promenade. The lines at Cafe Promenade were steady, but manageable. Seating was limited in the Cafe because many people lingered for hours. I had a Promenade Stateroom and I could actually see the Cafe from my window. Many people sat in the Cafe for hours each day, just as many monopolized the lounge chairs in the deck areas. Royal Caribbean did not accommodate vegetarians and vegans very well at all on this cruise. The selections were limited; however, they did serve three delicious entrees, eggplant parmesan, soy meatballs in a sauce, and vegetarian chicken chunks with mixed vegetables. The eggplant was served on day three, and the vegetarian meatballs and chicken chunks were days nine and ten, respectively. Obviously, the other seven days were tough for vegetarians in the formal dining rooms. We had a wonderful time despite lemonade-gate and the crowds. The two Ice Shows were outstanding, the nightly shows were a notch above amateur hour, but the live bands and performers were A++. My personal preference is production musical programs. The cruise director inundated us with a variety of comedians. Some of the comedians were musical, others juggled, and still others were stand-up comedians, but I still felt cheated from my prior cruises. On my last cruise, we enjoyed concerts from the Unexpected Boys, a veteran singer from the famous Platters, and several production shows with live music and wonderfully choreographed dancing with accompaniment from the Explorer of the Seas Orchestra. The shows were not as I hoped but I enjoyed them anyway. Explorer of the Seas shared Labadee, their private Haitian Island, with the Independence of the Seas. The crowds were unmanageable and the food lines were unacceptable. Royal Caribbean should have announced this schedule prior to the cruise. Labadee cannot adequately accommodate that many vacationers without reducing the quality of the experience for all. The Labadee experience was the low point of this cruise, despite the fact that it was the high point of my last one. No one should wait over an hour in the hot Caribbean sun for food. Royal Caribbean should be ashamed for this fiasco. The Cruise Director made light of the situation and even joked about the long lines and the need to get in line early. Royal Caribbean reduced the staffing levels and the service was slow and inefficient in all facets of customer service, especially at Guest Relations. No one would answer the phone when one called from the stateroom. The Windjammer did not have enough waiters available to assist the guests and they constantly ran short of convenience items. One day it was butter, another jelly, and another day they ran out of ketchup. They seemed clueless when people began to ask questions. One exception to the poor service was the Onboard Cruise Center on Deck 6. They are professional, patient, and diligent, despite their very heavy workload. The Onboard cruise planning staff personifies all the best of Royal Caribbean and they exemplify the hospitality and courteousness one expects from this cruise line. Although I did not feel that this cruise was as good on service and amenities, I actually enjoyed the cruise as much as the prior one. Food, service, and entertainment deficiencies cannot subtract from the wonderful vacation experience on the Explorer of the Seas. The Ship is beginning to show her age and the need for a thorough refurbishing. I urge Royal Caribbean to listen to their customers and fix these problems because other cruise lines are waiting for our business. I still recommend The Explorer of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I returned to Explorer for the same 10 day Easter Caribbean trip almost exactly two years since I was last there. Last trip was a disappointment, this one was much improved. I arrived at Newark and having learned from a prior experience ... Read More
I returned to Explorer for the same 10 day Easter Caribbean trip almost exactly two years since I was last there. Last trip was a disappointment, this one was much improved. I arrived at Newark and having learned from a prior experience last trip when my taxi was stuck in heavy pier traffic long enough to run the bill to $60+, this time I took RCI's shuttle at 1/3 the cost. Cape Liberty is probably the most difficult cruise port in the US due to the fact that it has not yet been developed since its days as a US Navy cargo facility. After a long crawl thru traffic you pull up at a tent like structure where your luggage is unloaded, then into an area for processing/check-in, then onto a bus for a short drive to the ship. Not a good process. Additionally luggage takes an inordinately long time for delivery - last trip 9 hrs., this time 6 hrs. Aboard the ship all of course improves. Notable improvements were: elevators seem to be better programmed and thus are more responsive to demand leading to faster service even though the ship was completely full and had an extra 200 people occupying extra bedding in many cabins, and that includes 350 kids on this preChristmas cruise. Food - RCI is introducing a new and expanded dining room dinner menu - much improved. Lunches need to be next on the list for an upgrade, and in my estimation food in the Windjammer Buffet is very poor on all their ships. Entertainment - much improved. Production shows updated, ice shows fine, headliners - so so. Crew - last trip I was much taken with their what some people call "New York attitude" - unfriendly, uncommunicative, do nothing more than required. This time, although there were exceptions - attitude/morale seemed much improved. I use the Concierge Lounge frequently and wish to commend the "fill in" Concierge "Denzil". I trust that RCI will soon give him a full time concierge position. This was an Easter Caribbean cruise - San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten and RCI's Labadee. Other than getting off for a moment in San Juan and St Thomas to buy a newspaper I stayed aboard while everyone else heads ashore and thus I have the ship almost to myself for the day. Due to a storm off of Cape Hatteras we were two hours late returning; however I commend the Captain for keeping up fully informed and RCI for greatly facilitating departure so that inconvenience was minimal. In summary - I don't like "big ships", and this one is big - 3600 pax - however I had a good trip, well up to my my other 60+ RCI experiences. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Starting on our 5th day of the cruise, my wife was in and out of Deck 1 Medical Facility with an upper respiratory disease that she caught during the cruise (incubation is approximately 3 days) and was treated with antibiotics. That ... Read More
Starting on our 5th day of the cruise, my wife was in and out of Deck 1 Medical Facility with an upper respiratory disease that she caught during the cruise (incubation is approximately 3 days) and was treated with antibiotics. That apparently caused her to come down with diverticulitis, which in my wife's case caused severe abdominal pains. Initial pain killers did not work. Finally she was given the good stuff and we made it home, where I immediately dropped her off at our hospital. The doctor kept her for two nights. I caught the upper respiratory infection after the 7th day on board. We both used good sanitary procedures throughout the cruise, which apparently was not enough to prevent contact with the carrier person. We went on the cruise to revitalize our selves from high tension jobs. This was our 7th time on the Explorer, but also our last. Possibly also our last with Royal Caribbean because they have gone down hill in other areas. I was told their is no credit for missed days, even though it probably was a crew member that passed on the disease. We know of several others on board who also came down with the disease. Has anyone else know of this problem on the Explorer? Has every ship this uncontrolled disease? Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We just returned from the Dec 3 cruise and had a wonderful time. Embarkation was easy enough. We were on a hotel shuttle and were in a traffic line for about 45 minutes. Once we arrived at the port it was smooth sailing and we were ... Read More
We just returned from the Dec 3 cruise and had a wonderful time. Embarkation was easy enough. We were on a hotel shuttle and were in a traffic line for about 45 minutes. Once we arrived at the port it was smooth sailing and we were aboard within 30 minutes or so. Crew was fantastic. All that we encountered were friendly, smiling and efficient at their jobs. Our cabin attendant, Audrian, did an excellent job as did our dining room waiter and his assistant, Eutemio and Ben Ali. Food in the dining room was good to excellent, we had no complaints. Windjammer was standard buffet food. There was always something to eat. We enjoyed Johnny Rockets for one lunch and ate too much. But it was good and different from the other lunches we had. Entertainment was very good. The Ice Shows as always were not to be missed and the headliner shows were all very entertaining. We really enjoyed this trip and cannot wait to book another Royal Caribbean cruise. we loved the Explorer and would love to sail aboard her again. We did have 2 minor issues. There was some confusion because the ship was on a 10 day cruise as opposed to the previous cruise of 9 days. The compass listed formal night incorrectly for day 8 and communication to correct it to day 9 was not very good. We had scheduled a wine tasting and had to ask to find out when it was scheduled for our trip. The other minor problem was in the MDR at breakfast. On 2 different mornings with 2 different wait teams, it took 20 minutes to receive my requested beverage, ice water. I don't drink juice and had had my coffee. I found it very annoying. The 2 glitches did not ruin our cruise and only made us appreciate the rest of the cruise even more. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Hello hello! My wife and I just celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary on the Explorer of the Seas, and we were not disappointed. Hopefully, you will find our review helpful and encouraging. EMBARKATION It was a bit clunky, ... Read More
Hello hello! My wife and I just celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary on the Explorer of the Seas, and we were not disappointed. Hopefully, you will find our review helpful and encouraging. EMBARKATION It was a bit clunky, but I think that has more to do with Cape Liberty than anything else. We chose to go through NJ because we wouldn't have to fly. It is definitely worth it, even if the port isn't the most developed for Embarkation and Disembarkation. It was a bit odd in how they started boarding... they gave out numbers and would call them out to board the shuttles for the ship, but no one had numbers 4-16. Aside from that, it was pretty painless. We arrived around 11:30, and we were on the boat within an hour and a half. STATEROOM We had an interior stateroom, and the decorations it seemed a bit out of style. It was small, but we expected it. What made our stateroom the most enjoyable was our attendant, Christopher Graham. He made our experience incredible, both with his friendliness and his attention to detail, we never had to ask for anything, he made sure all our needs were met. DINING Overall, fantastic. The WindJammer, where we first ate, was decent enough. It's their buffet. They served everything from asian dishes, pasta, chicken, to burgers, hot dogs, and pizza. The cuisine was hit or miss, but rarely was anything terrible. I would probably say it ranged from decent to good. One thing not to miss is breakfast, and their made-to-order omelet bar. It was excellent. Cafe Promenade: Decent to good. Pizza was serviceable, but some of the daily pizza specials seemed random. I was somewhat disappointed, but when it was fresh, the pepperoni was good. The sandwiches they served were decent, sometimes exceptional. My favorite was their mozzarella and pesto on ciabatta. Their desserts were fair, brownies and cookies and such, and breakfast they served fruit and pastries, the apple and raspberry danishes were fantastic. They also served never ending Seattle's Best Coffee, as well as Starbucks specialty drinks and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream for a charge. I thought the coffee was good enough. Main Dining Room: This is where the people who tend to you make or break your cruise experience. We had two excellent waiters (we wish they weren't just our waiters, but our friends back home... Godofredo and Andrej), and they made the time. The food was great, often excellent. The everyday options were decent if there was nothing on the menu that was all that exciting. The strip steak was decent, as were the beef sliders if you didn't like anything. However, the second half of the cruise, the food was wonderful. Filet Mignon, Lobster Tail, crab cakes, all some of the best I've ever had. Also, if you're willing to spend a little extra, the filet Mignon under Chops Grille was SUPERB. The desserts were great too, their chocolate sensation being an every night must have. Portofino: This is their fine Italian dining restaurant. The price is $20/pp, and we ate their twice. The food was wonderful, including a nice tuna steak, and a dessert (I forget the name, but it was a chocolate mousse with a brandied cherry in the middle) Johnny Rockets: The Burgers and Fries are good, but the gem is the apple pie a la mode. If we knew how good it was, we wouldn't have gotten shakes and gotten two pieces! PORTS OF CALL The itinerary was great, as we went to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Labadee (Haiti). Our favorites were the first two, we found a taxi to go to Orient Beach and Magen's Bay Beach respectively, and then came back around lunch time to do some shopping (You can walk to the shopping if you desire, it's only about a mile). If you do your research, you can avoid overpaying for ship excursions. Puerto Rico was fun, but it rained pretty hard. Our only suggestion would be to extend the amount of time there, we were only there until 1 PM. Labadee felt like a big money trap, and the beach wasn't nearly as great as the ones in the first two ports (Labadee is RCI's private island). Most of the things to do on the island are shore excursions, and are extremely expensive ($80 for a 5 minute zip-line ride). If you're into high adventure, and willing to pay, I'm sure it's a fun island. THE BOAT Overall, this was the best boat we've been on (I've been on 3 Carnival Cruises, and this was by far the most impressive ship). The sports bar was great, though I wish they had some bar food like wings or nachos, and not just drinks. The rock climbing wall was fun, the sports court (basketball and mini-golf) were fun when we weren't having fun lounging around by the pool or in a hot tub (The adult only Solarium was particularly restful. Chairs were much more comfortable!). On-board entertainment was good, both the singers and dancers, as well as the ice-skaters in the ice shows. There were a couple of negatives. Not all of the crew was super friendly, particularly some of the folks who tried to sell drinks on the ship. There were times they were a bit forceful in the way they sold the drinks, and it was pretty obnoxious. Hopefully this was a helpful review, we will definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Despite the negative tone of this review we enjoyed our much needed vacation and we were generally happy with Royal Caribbean. The Itinerary was very nice and included lots of cruising days. But we were disappointed that Royal Caribbean ... Read More
Despite the negative tone of this review we enjoyed our much needed vacation and we were generally happy with Royal Caribbean. The Itinerary was very nice and included lots of cruising days. But we were disappointed that Royal Caribbean was not as good as we remembered on our earlier cruises with them. We chose Cape Liberty because we could drive rather than fly. Nice idea but getting to the ship was a traffic nightmare with almost 2 hours sitting in traffic at the pier. Getting off was even worse. We waited in the pier tent more than an hour while our shuttle was stick in traffic. We could not get first seating so we chose My Time Dining. Turned out we had a nice table with the same nice folks for the entire cruise. Good thing because the Windjammer for dinner had poor selections and awful hours. Dinner selections in the dining room were OK but not spectacular as in the past. We used the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. It appeared there was no variety and the same selections were available every day of the cruise. The staff at times was rude. The tables were cleaned by promptly removing the dirty dishes but there was only a token attempt to wipe the table clean. The ship was OK but was obviously getting tired. The stateroom TV was an old CRT type and program selection was not very good. The ship channels sometimes did not work. The bridge channel showed only a video view out the front and nothing extra such speed, temperature, waves, wind, location and such. The refrigerator was barely cold. There was a control which would turn on announcements. This worked for the captains announcements but nothing else. But it was useless because there was awful music on this channel all the time so we had to turn it off. The theater shows were not very impressive. The headliners were just comedians with old jokes. There was lots of filler with the cruise director trying to use time. I must say the juggler was good. One night there was no show at all. What happened to the superb shows they used to have? Beyond that the technology in the theater was kind of working. The video was blurry and some lights did not work. There were some smoking areas on the ship which we avoided as much as possible. On this cruise it seemed the smokers did not stop when they left the Casino and the promenade area was often filled with cigarette smell. The room with movies also smelled like cigarette smoke. The jogging track went through a smoking area. This ship was not non-smoking friendly. The cruise had the usual live musicians on board. All the musicians had the volume turned up so loud that it was uncomfortable to listen. The live piano did not sound like a live piano because it was so distorted. The band which was to provide "dance music" sounded like a high school band that had just started playing together. And it was not dance music. There was no "big band" music on the ship full of us old folks that like that music. Other than the lounge with the high school band there was no venue for guests to sit and enjoy the live music. During the sea days (more than half the days) the only live music was at the pool area. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Background- We have sailed with Royal Caribbean since the late 1980's, however not recently though, so we were not aware of how much the line has changed. Embarkation- Cape Liberty does not ... Read More
Background- We have sailed with Royal Caribbean since the late 1980's, however not recently though, so we were not aware of how much the line has changed. Embarkation- Cape Liberty does not operate as efficiently as say Miami or Fort Lauderdale or the many other better known cruise ports. Bayonne is known as a container shipping facility for which they are better suited. Royal Caribbean homeports one or two of its ships here and the staff does try to make it easy. However, it can get very confusing and frustrating under the system that they have. Ship- Explorer of the Seas is an older ship of the Voyager class ships and it does seem to be showing signs of wear. It is due for a refit I believe in 2014 but it still does not have all the amenities of the Freedom class ships. The decor throughout is very muted, quite frankly bare and the staterooms are fairly small as well. We booked a junior suite not knowing the actual size of the room but were pleasantly surprised, roughly 300 foot. The room made up for all the other inconveniences that we had.Activities- Activities were minimal at best. Everyday a different form of trivia and spa lectures and demonstrations seemed to dominate the day. At night there was always a show although not very good and plenty of varied music for listening and dancing pleasure. Poolside games were non existent although the children's activities were a full agenda all week. Dining- RCCL has deteriorated in this category the most. Things that were always standard fare in Main dining room were non existent. For example. they took away lobster and escargots and made it for fee. Also gone are the cheese trolley and port wine for dessert as well as table side service. Head waiters do not make special foods anymore for you if requested and meats such as veal and lamb were nearly non existent on the menus. Portions are very small although the waiters will always bring you additional. Food presentation is a horror show, looking like the food was just slapped on to the plate. Very unappetizing. Several meals came out on such hot plates that you knew was just microwaved and the food was actually cold. Beef was used on a regular basis, with the menu hardly changing, and always was served with a cream sauce. In fact, most of the meals were served in a cream sauce, which tells me that they were camouflaging day old meat. Windjammer Buffet was another experience not to be believed. Seating was very difficult at all times of the day and the wait staff not too accommodating in that venue. Breakfast is the same wherever you go, but lunches were routinely the same day after day. Also, I must mention that the serving platters had the food just heaped on them which did not give you incentive to eat. I could go on about quality and preparation but I'll try not to make this a long review. Service- Service throughout the ship was excellent and the crew works really long hours as well. Summary- All in all, Royal Caribbean has cut back dramatically in all areas. They really need to step up a notch or two in my honest opinion to remain competitive with some other cruise lines. We normally sail with the luxury lines such as Seabourn and Crystal and even Oceania, and although you do pay a little more, the cruise experience you receive cannot be rivalled anywhere. Cruising became all for big money and as a result service and personal attention has suffered. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Explorer of the Seas B2B: 13 December to 23 December 2012 & 23 December to 30 December 2012: 10 Day Pre Holiday Eastern Caribbean & 7 Day Holiday Florida / Bahamas Cruisers: Me & DW Cabins: 8392 Cat. D2 & 8385 ... Read More
Explorer of the Seas B2B: 13 December to 23 December 2012 & 23 December to 30 December 2012: 10 Day Pre Holiday Eastern Caribbean & 7 Day Holiday Florida / Bahamas Cruisers: Me & DW Cabins: 8392 Cat. D2 & 8385 Cat. M Cruising History: Having been on 8 cruises all on Royal Caribbean, this B2B was booked with the LA (loyalty ambassador) on the Explorer last year. With the OBC (on board credit) from Royal and our famous unnamed online TA, it was a slam dunk on OBC. With the state of flying these days, we took the 3 hour train ride, saving on airfare, renting a car and petro. Also there is no parking, so the only transportation expense is the train and the taxi to the port / train station. After 17 days at seas, we are 1 point short of being a Diamond member, but we have Elite status on Celebrity or X. To The Port: We took the 6:49am Amtrak from Berlin, CT to Newark Penn Station on Thursday morning, December 13th. Sure, we were gambling on leaving on the day of the cruise, but if you do fly, arrive a day before in case there is any delay. I did check the weather forecast and would have book a room at EWR in case of weather delays. We arrived in Newark on time and made a short walk to the Newark Hilton Penn Station located on Raymond Blvd, which is connected via skywalk from the historical train station. Since I am a Silver Hilton Honor's member (a word of warning, the bellstaff will ask if you are a guest of the hotel), we got a local cab via the bellman for $47.00 to Bayonne at 10:25 am. We arrived at the port around 11:00 am. Embarkation: After handing our suitcase to the porter with a friendly tip, we proceeded to the Platinum + check-in line with boarding card number #3. After a quick check-in with our Seapass in hand, the boarding lounge was there with water, coffee and orange juice. We did notice that the waiting area was bare due to the Hurricane Sandy, anyway, they announced boarding card# 1 around 11:45am.When they announced card 3 via the much improved PA system, we made our way via the 4 minute bus ride to the ship around 12:00 pm. You board the ship on deck one forward starboard side. Since others were waiting to board, we made a beeline to deck 11 aft for the Windjammer Cafe where we were greeted by the famous Washy-Washy (Nestor). The entree of choice on the 1st day of the cruise on any Royal Caribbean ship is the honey stung chicken, which was good. Staterooms on this ship open at 1:30pm. After unpacking our carryon, there was a little tap on the door, our only suitcase arrived in record time. Must be the Emerald status on the tags. During the muster drill, our boat captain was the lead male RC singer named James, one of the most interesting muster drills I ever encountered, like reminding the PAX to wash the hands before and after meal time. This was our first introduction and we would bump into each other throughout the cruise. The sail away was on our aft balcony under the Narrows Bridge. After that, only one seating was printed in the compass for 7:45pm, the welcome aboard show in the Palace Theatre where the CD (cruise director) Leigh from Australia introduced a comedian. Sea Days Part I: Over 200 Cruise Critic members signed up for the M&M, which was day 2 at 9:30am in the Maharajas Lounge on deck 5. The meeting was with Frank the assistant CD and a hotel manager officer with a raffle. It was nice to meet some of the fellow cruisers from cruise critic. It was cold outside, so the hot tubs were in action. Our breakfast and lunch were sometimes in the MDR, and dinner in the Windjammer with some staff officers throughout our cruise vacation. The in house morning show "The Morning Show" with CD Leigh and Frank the Tank was good, and the questions from the PAX were humorous throughout the voyages. The C&A Welcome Back Party (Gold and above) was in the Palace Theatre, which was well attended with music from the RC singers Anna and our boat captain; James. Sea time was a relaxing 3 days to our first stop, St Martin. There was also a formal night, but I forgot which night. St. Martin: After mooring up on a sunny morning, we just took the $7.00 water taxi to Phillipsburg and just walked around the boardwalk. There is a Hard Rock Cafe and many shopping /dining options along the boardwalk. The ride back to the pier was short, as the pilot house was playing Caribbean Christmas tunes. There is a mini-outdoor mall near the security entrance to the pier with outdoor bars, various local t-shirts shops, and jewelry shops. Big thanks to Little Switzerland for handing out free bags with coupons that carried our stuff back onboard. After lunch onboard, we just stayed onboard for the rest of the day. The PAX was happy with the additional half hour all aboard time by the master. Sail away was from our balcony. I did bring a Sony Walkman radio and tuned in to 95.1 FM with the night dance party with the short distance to St. Thomas. The love and marriage game show was at 10:30pm. St. Thomas: Captain Loy announced that the Royal monster The Oasis of the Seas was in Crown Bay, not Havensight, when the Explorer docked at 8:00am. With over 22,000 passengers plus crews the roads were going to be a mess. The captain gave the PAX an extra half hour of all aboard time of 5:00pm. We did stock up on 2 gallons of water at a supermarket at Havensight. After walking around, we checked out the local supermarket Pueblo just outside the mall area. After all that walking, Senor Frogs was just in sight before our security gate on the pier. We did see some of the crewmembers enjoying the Wi-Fi services. Senor Frogs does have a pool in case you need to cool down or get dunked by the MC. With our shopping done, we headed back onboard and had a nice lunch in the crowd free Windjammer. The harbor was busy for another scenic sail away in the twilight. San Juan: With an arrival time of 7:00am and an all aboard time of 12:30pm, there is not a lot to do with a limited time schedule, even with thunderstorms. There is a CVS across the pier, bring your extra care card for more savings. The sun popped out with a fast departure out of San Juan harbor, heading to the last port on our first cruise, Lababee, Haiti. Lababee: The passengers knew well in advance that a Royal Freedom class, The Independence of the Seas was arriving 2 hours ahead of the Explorer of the Seas. When we were leaving the MDR after breakfast, one father said to his kids, "they get an extra two hours in the afternoon". After 50 minutes after mooring up, we walked to Adrenaline Beach, stopped at the Schooner Bar, visited the town square and watched the long zip line. We headed back on board and watched the Independence tie up. They did secure the gangway during the mooring. Before the mooring lines were on deck, Captain Loy did say that the boat was going full steam ahead to Bayonne in 2 days' time, with warning that seas were to be rough around 4:00pm the next day, and a video was shot with nautical maps and wave heights on the navigation bridge (This was looped on Channel 14). Looking back on our balcony a half hour after sail away, the Independence was getting hit with rain showers. Sea Days Part II: The Explorer hit some rough seas on our journey home, as the sickness bags were well advertised on the stairwells. The Platinum + ice show called a top-tier event in studio B was good. Trivia games were held in the Schooner Bar on deck 4.The 70's night, the quest, captain's corner and another formal night were scheduled on this leg. As we were off the Norfolk area on our last day with gale force winds and heavy seas, Swiss time was running out on the majority of the passengers. A good tip is to head up to Dizzy's on deck 14 for good views. Captain Loy did announce that the Explorer would be tied up in Bayonne at 9:00am, two hours later than scheduled. Disembarkation Part I: Our assigned meeting place for the B2B was the Champagne bar aka Boleros on deck 4 at 9:45am December 23, but we met 30 other passengers at 11:45am due to the late arrival. Your luggage will be moved by a stateroom attendant if you book a different cabin on a B2B, but we moved our own. A letter will be delivered to your stateroom 2 days before disembarkation with a customs declaration. We boarded the bus to the terminal, went thru customs, and boarded the same bus back to the ship. Your new seapass will be handed to you before you go thru customs. Your seapass photo will be taken onboard. We just entered uncharted waters with our first B2B and the feeling was great not to go home before Christmas. Sea Days Part III: With over 800 kids on board, we were on our first Christmas cruise since the 2010 Freedom Christmas cruise The 2nd meet and mingle was not well attended, but Frank the Tank gave us a $50.00 internet credit and a photo of the Explorer for being B2B cruisers since we did not win anything in the raffle. Thank you Frank. Oddly enough, we were on our way to the home of the Freedom of the Seas...Port Canaveral ...aka Cocoa Beach, FL with a 1400 arrival time on Christmas Day. The weather was not bad during our 2 day sailing time. The staff did serve egg nog on Christmas morning (spiked and non-spiked) and also the midnight mass and a 0800 Christmas Mass in the Palace theatre. Be sure to use your stateroom television to book a tour to avoid the lines at the excursion desk on deck 5, our only excursion on our B2B was a $12.00? Ron Jon surf shop shuttle. Weather was Florida sunny when the Explorer entered the channel. Cocoa Beach...aka Port Canaveral: Having been to Orlando a few times including the "Holiday" season, we stayed well clear of the "Attractions". Thank goodness we booked the Ron Jon shuttle. The taxi queue line outside terminal 10 was nuts. We stopped at Walgreen's Seven 11 and CVS to stock up on cabin supplies, our first real shopping experience since San Juan. I do recommend the Shark Bar at the Sheraton Four Points which is attached to the Cocoa Beach Surf Company. The special was an $11.00 large cheese pizza / Bud Light pitcher deal. Yea, no Cafe Promenade pizza! Also the Surf Company was priced below the Ron Jon surf shop. We got back onboard and left the Cocoa area around 11:30 pm. A nice sail away on a great night. Nassau: It was nice to see our "other Royal Caribbean friend, The Monarch of the Seas" moored up. Since the Monarch is leaving RC, it was memories to look at deck 8 aft where we would hang out on our only sea day which was on a Thursday on a 4 day cruise. Arrival time was at 1400. We walked to the British Colonial Hilton and back to the ship. There is a McDonald's and a Dunkin Donuts across from the hotel. We did see a few floats from the Junkanoo parade. Coco Cay: A sunny day was to be had for the passenger's on board, a great day to hit the beach. Having been here on the Sovereign of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas and the Freedom of the Seas, we did not tender and spend our time on board with almost an empty ship, just for a few hours. The anchor was raised, and we were finally heading back to the cold, freezing port of Bayonne. For good. Sea Days, Part IV: After 15 days on being onboard, we used our Emerald coupons that we saved during our B2B. Coupons like BOGO drinks, 10% off drinks and the lucky casino pulls. We also ran into our 1st boat captain, James during the Platinum+ ice show. Don't miss the ice show. Disembarkation Part II: We used express disembarkation with card letter A. You can sign up at the Guest Services on deck 5. Just do it ASAP. Our meeting time was 7:30am at Maharajas Lounge on deck 5. A friendly staff member had an express down to deck 1 and we were finally off the Explorer of the Seas. CBP was painless as we caught a cab to Newark Penn Station. Our Amtrak train back to Berlin, CT was a few minutes late. Shout Outs and Final Thoughts: First the shout outs, Calli from South Africa in the fitness centre was outstanding. My DW got some great fitness tips from her fitness classes. Camilla from Brazil in the Windjammer was outgoing and kind. And the assistant CD, Frank the Tank from Orlando was humble throughout our 17 days onboard. The staff in Johnny Rocket's and the Weekend Warrior sports bar on the Promenade deserves a pay raise. Oh, almost forgot Mr. Washy-Washy. Captain Hedrick Loy did a Bravo-Zulu job with communications about the weather and the sea conditions during the end of the first cruise. Sure, we arrived 2 hours late, but it's always safety first for the passenger's and the crew. Kudos on RCCL on the brand new Coca-Cola freestyle machines that was installed onboard weeks before our cruises. There are 5 onboard...2 near the Cafe Promenade on deck 5, 2 machines on the starboard and port sides in the Windjammer on deck 11 and 1 machine in the teen area on deck 12 near Johnny Rocket's, port side. If you do work out with a sport drink, these machines will distribute PowerAde and PowerAde Zero. Labadee vs. Coco Cay...If you do like the beach, there is more beach in Labadee with the zip line and the coaster. But Labadee is on a spit of land in northern Haiti and Coco Cay is one of the thousand Bahamas islands with tender services with just the beach with a sunken airplane just offshore. If you are into jet skis you will get a better experience in Coco Cay. It's time for Royal Caribbean to end smoking in the casino on every cruise night. Only 3 nights on our B2B in Casino Royale was smoke free. Yes keep the smoke it up starboard side / smoke free port side on the pool deck. Speaking of Casino Royale, let's help make RCCL a few more dollars in revenue...Sports Betting. As for the terminal, the Port Authority and RC to step up and build a new terminal in Bayonne like Port Everglades terminal 18. With the Quantum of the Seas now laying steel, there is time to build a new terminal. Only the corporate beach staff in Miami knows what is going on. If you are into military history, it's on an old military ocean terminal base, but it's better than going into Manhattan. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Explorer of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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