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

After 13 cruises on the Explorer maybe I'm tired of the Ship and tired of the ports that it travels to .As usual the room attendant and waiters were the best .We usually get a balcony but all my favorite ones were gone.I picked a ... Read More
After 13 cruises on the Explorer maybe I'm tired of the Ship and tired of the ports that it travels to .As usual the room attendant and waiters were the best .We usually get a balcony but all my favorite ones were gone.I picked a great window room and l would strongly recommend it.It had two large windows to gaze out the front of the Ship .At dinner we had a table for 6 and our table mates were from N.Y. and they were a pleasure to be with .The only problem l had was in Labadee .I'm not a beach person so like to walk on my favorite path that takes me over to the other side where l can watch my wife swim ,watch the end of the zip line and have my favorite drink at bar . BUT NO .The path was blocked off for a private party probably for gold card guests .No walk , no drink , no happiness .I reported my displeasure at the front desk . I did not expect a call from the Captain but anyone would have OK .Enough of me already .   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My wife and I have cruised many times before but all on another cruise line. This was our first time on RCCL and tried not to make comparisons but it is not easy. That being said we had a good time on the Explorer. The food in the dining ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised many times before but all on another cruise line. This was our first time on RCCL and tried not to make comparisons but it is not easy. That being said we had a good time on the Explorer. The food in the dining room is very good and you can order two dinners or two desserts if you want. How-ever it was hard to find anything warm or hot at the buffet. Breakfast was the worst. I tried the scrambled eggs the first day and they were stone cold and watery. I tried the pancakes and French toast and it was just as bad. The French toast was like a rock one day. I suggest an omelet made fresh right in front of you for breakfast. The coffee is also good. You can also eat breakfast in the main dinning rooms if you like. RCCL has got to work on the hot food problem. Leaving from Bayonne is shall I say, not that much fun. The pier was in a state on destruction (construction) and the signs for where to go need help. They are building a new terminal but I have been hearing that for awhile. I wish them luck when the new whip comes with a passenger total of 4,000 plus. The ship itself is beautiful. It's clean, big, and laid out very well. They take very good care of all areas. The crew is fantastic. The stewards, waiters, and anyone you come in contact with always has a smile and is very helpful. I don't know how they do that with how hard they work and the constant changing of passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first trip with Royal Caribbean, we have sailed with Celebrity 4 times previously. A friend dropped us off at the pier about 11:30 am because we were in a JS we went through the suite line and was on the ship in 15-20 minutes ... Read More
This was our first trip with Royal Caribbean, we have sailed with Celebrity 4 times previously. A friend dropped us off at the pier about 11:30 am because we were in a JS we went through the suite line and was on the ship in 15-20 minutes from the time we entered the terminal. The ship was beautiful and big, maybe a little big for our tastes. We had the early seating dinner and we were at table 407 which was a table for 2. We didn't put in a request for this but we did not mind it being just us. Our waiter Jose and his asst. Rhyan were absolutely great and we actually gave them an extra tip. For the most part we really enjoyed the food as well but we found the portions to be small sometimes, a perfect example was my wife had an entree that came with brocoli and carrots, the brocoli was 1/2 of a piece and the the carrot was thin slice of a carrot. The food in the Wind Jammer was typical cafateria food and seating up there was a pain. We ate at Johnny Rockets twice and really liked it. My wife thought the onion wings were the best she ever had and I liked the shakes. I thought the common areas in the ship were very nice if a little small for such a big ship. Every night on the Promenade the were having some kind of sale on tables that they set up in the promenade and it was like a feeding frenzy and made passing impossible. I actually suggested to two people that seemed to be a safety issue, I'm sure others did as well so that after a few nights they adjusted the size of the area. Overall we had a great time but we will be sticking with Celebrity. We missed not haveing the late night food option such as the theme nights and grand buffet. It just seemed that there was never enough help. We thoght the help they did have tried but are not being given the proper tools by management. A good example is the guest relation areas, they had seven or eight service areas at guest relations and only ever 1 or 2 attendants and one person trying to expidite the line. Amother example was the ice show, which was great by the way. Your show time was by muster station and about 5-10 minutes before the show they were going to check see pass cards and allow standby's to enter. We got there 20 minutes and walked right in luckily we found a seat but it was packed and people were sitting in the aisles but nowhere to be seen was anyone to try to help those folks or to see if they were part of the muster stations for that show. I also wanted to mention Leigh (CD) and TT (sidekick) one day on thier morning show which I found funny most days they were reading the shout outs and read one from a lady who said she could not wait for the cruise to be over and get off of the ship. After they read that they said good for her and that they couldn't wait for her to get of the ship. I felt this was in very poor taste and thought she really had to be at wits end to right that and felt that Leigh should have sought her out personally and tried to help her instead of ridiculing her. Like other reviewer the process at the port is a disaster. It took us 45 minutes or so to get to a point where our friend could drop us off. Disembakation was where the process really went down hill. They seemed to be in a hurry to get everyone off so they would call several numbers and this would lead to several hundred people being jammed in a hall way or stairway waiting for busses to the terminal. The really need a lesson in people moving because that is the last impression of the company that you get and it is not a good one. After we were off it took our friend more that an hour to make her way around to us. to get picked up.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Just back from a wonderful vacation on Explorer of the Seas! For a ship getting ready for dry dock refurb, it's in great shape. There are minor areas in the cabins and the public rooms where you can see chips and worn ... Read More
Just back from a wonderful vacation on Explorer of the Seas! For a ship getting ready for dry dock refurb, it's in great shape. There are minor areas in the cabins and the public rooms where you can see chips and worn fabric/carpeting, but overall she is in great condition. We stayed in promenade rooms, which were roomy, lots of storage, and very comfortable. Never heard any of the commotion in the promenade, but always had an interesting view. Highly recommend them. The crew and staff were great. Most were very friendly and eager to make the trip a wonderful memorable experience. The Chefs made regular appearances in the dining room and were happy to chat. Most bartenders were fabulous (and drinks were great in taste and strength). Disappointed in our room attendant, who noted he was under the weather, often skipped things in the room, failed to deliver compass info, etc. And very disappointed in beverage service for soda/wine/drinks in the dining room for dessert. Food was overall quite good. The dining room food was good to very good. Certainly can get better at fine dining options on land, but lots of good choices and some excellent dishes (Greek calamari salad, Asian duck entree, and lobster were faves). Buffet was a bit disappointing in variety and quality, especially for breakfast. Indian options for lunch were stellar. And do try to check-in for a little something during dinner time - some great options! Cafe Promenade pizza is fairly good, but buffet pizza is awful. Entertainment was good. DD (11 yo) especially loved the shows and singing. Ice show is not to be missed! Wish there were more trivia and other activities better scattered through the day. 70s party at the promenade was lots of fun, but super-crowded. And watch out for the flying flashing rings - they hurt when they hit you in the face. Cruise Director Leigh and his sidekick TT were hilarious. Watch the morning show on the tv. And Captain Rick is the most personable and interesting Captain we've seen! Loved his announcements and enthusiasm! Kids enjoyed Adventure Ocean and begged to go every day and as often as possible. As a parent, I was a little dissapointed, though. They didn't check IDs, the staff seemed to always be sitting on the sidelines, and it seemed they played variations of dodgeball most days (hardly ever matched up what was advertised in kids' compass). Last year we cruised on the Breakaway, and I felt their staff, facilities, and programs were far superior. Of course, bottom line is that the kids had a blast. Enjoyed a lovely spa experience last full sea day. They had some great spa sampler packages. Definitely check them out! The ports of call were great. Had been to Bermuda before, so didn't do much. Warning to those who buy liquor from the cruise suggested stores: don't let them send directly to the ship. The Glasswork store failed to do so, and now we don't have our Bermuda Rum. Thus far, not much from RC for help, but we'll see how it works out. (Most likely will be calling credit card co to refuse the charges.) Previously spend time at the beach, and would do so again! Labadee was fun, athough even the beach they said wasn't rocky was very rocky the first few feet in the water. Consider taking water shoes. Once in the water, we enjoyed the breeze, the ocean, and the views. We spent our time at Adrenaline Beach. DH and DD enjoyed the Wave Jet tour. Lines for food were ridiculous, and by the time we decided to go check it out, they were closed. Wear lots of sun screen!! Puerto Rico was fascinating - wish we had more time and/or arrived later in the day. Did a self-guided walking tour of the old city (it was like walking through a pirate movie set!) and enjoyed mofongo in Cafe Manolin (recd on cruise critic discussions). Wandered around St. Maarten, which was very hot. Beware of lots of locals asking to braid your hair, do your portraits, take you on guided tours, give coupons for jewelry... it was constant annoyances of offers. I'll agree with those who complained about Bayonne port. Our driver there had trouble finding it, and we were stuck in about 30 - 45 mins of traffic to be dropped off. Our driver picking us up was more than an hour late, as he was stuck in the same mess coming to get us. Overall, we had a fabulous family vacation on the Explorer. The ship is a great size - big enough to have a variety of places to hang out and explore but not too big or too crowded. (I heard the sailing was sold out, but with few exceptions, it didn't feel crowded.) Would definitely recommend her! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We just returned from our 6th EOS cruise & were not as satisfied as before. As far as the ship, it is still in decent shape & the food was pretty good. We found the entertainment not up to par & repetitive. Our cabin (inside) ... Read More
We just returned from our 6th EOS cruise & were not as satisfied as before. As far as the ship, it is still in decent shape & the food was pretty good. We found the entertainment not up to par & repetitive. Our cabin (inside) was on deck 7 & several mornings between 5:30 & 6:00am we were awakened by loud banging. We complained & was told that it was due to the crew preparing for breakfast. First of all we were forward on the ship & the food venues are aft, so that didn't make any sense. By far the worst part of the cruise was the debarking. What a horror show!! We have been doing the self assist debarkation for years now & NEVER had we experienced this mess before. We had proceeded to our designated waiting area & at 8:10 announced we could proceed to deck one. There was a crowd already gathered there & that's when the fiasco began. To make it short it took us an hour and 40 minutes to arrive on deck 1. There was a lot of shoving & people trying to cut in line & it was very hot. There was never an announcement from any crew members as to why we weren't moving only announcements telling the next group of passengers to proceed to deck 1! All in all it took us 2 hours & 45 minutes to get out of the terminal. It had never taken us longer than an hour total on prior cruises because there was always crew members helping to move things along, but not this time! Our bus was scheduled to leave at 10:00 but didn't leave til 11:15. Needless to say there were a lot of unhappy people! Sandi Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I won't bore anyone with a long review, so her it goes.....Cape Liberty port is disgusting, but you're not there that long so no bigeee. Parking was $171.00 for (9) days. The ship is definitely outdated and in need of an ... Read More
I won't bore anyone with a long review, so her it goes.....Cape Liberty port is disgusting, but you're not there that long so no bigeee. Parking was $171.00 for (9) days. The ship is definitely outdated and in need of an overhaul. It's very 90'sish, colors are old and our room had a box TV. We were never in the room, so it was easy to deal with. Our stateroom attendant was awful, she was never around so we made do. The food was excellent in the dining room and the staff there were AWESOME !!! The buffet upstairs (Windjammer) was good, a lot like the Golden Coral on steroids.....We didn't try the specility restaurant. The pool area was a lot of fun just small. The entertainment was OK, I've been on other ships where the talent was amazing, but it was still enjoyable. The ports were fantastic and it was very easy getting on and off the ship. I'm not a big gambler, but I heard several people complain that the slots didn't pay out that much. Go see the C Wind band in the Viking Crown, THEY WERE THE BEST ! Overall, we had a great time and would do this cruise again. I was told the Liberty of the Seas is replacing this ship, so that's a good thing. My review 4 out of 5 Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We were part of a forum that started 486 days before we sailed. Over that time almost 2,500 posts were made with over 30,000 page views. A great deal of information was shared, questions asked and answered. Our group grew to 150+ people ... Read More
We were part of a forum that started 486 days before we sailed. Over that time almost 2,500 posts were made with over 30,000 page views. A great deal of information was shared, questions asked and answered. Our group grew to 150+ people that we met finally at the Meet & Mingle the Royal Caribbean puts on for free on a sailing day outbound. Beyond the M&M we organized other actives aboard ship with those that read the forum and wanted to participate. We ran an "investment seminar" at the slot machine. We put our $15 in at $5 a yank hoping the last yank would win a big jackpot for all to share. Since we did not hit on the last pull we decided to donate the left over funds to the Make A Wish foundation for some terminally ill child to take a cruise. I gave the funds to the cashier and they announced it over the ship's broadcast system during the walk on board for the Make A Wish foundation. Now, onto the review of the trip. We arrived at 10:30am, off loaded the luggage and checked in. I believe we were onboard by noon in our cabin. The ship is going into dry dock for repairs/upgrade whatever. So, yes the carpets were worn, the wood railings and such were worn as the paint was in certain areas. It did not distract us from our vacation. With a very responsive I board crew, things went well. The food is ok, no 4 Seasons here but I noticed no overt complaints and the usual array of folks with different eating styles from minimal to ' where's the plate?' Types. Portofino was a nice one night change from the Windjammer or Main Dining room. We did like the "My Time" dining feature. Activities on board are up to you but generally I did not here if any complainers. We did find a few buffoons that would argue over a lounge chair by the pool, or try and shove themselves past others from the back of the bus and plow forward. However, since our M&M group was so large enough people got the word out that most of us were able to avoid any contact with these few types, even the lady that threw herself across the T-shirt table sale onboard. They do need to improve the hours of operations for booking on-board for future trips if the OBC and such are a temptation. If finally got my 2016 trip booked but it took a few days of passing by the sales area to get it done. As I mentioned, if you get past customers with poor manners the ship bound voyage was fun. Getting off the ship is a different matter. Not until I was off the ship in Bermuda, did I find out my Snuba excursion was cancelled due to water conditions. I wished RCL and the RCL vendor had established a better communications protocol so I would not be left just standing there. I waited and found my family and we found a last minute replacement, the glass bottom boat tour. On getting on thar boat my camera slipped and fell into the water at the dock. The tour operator asked if it was waterproof, yes it was, and odd he goes diving into the water to recover my camera safe, sound and operable! While he was digging around underwater, I got some dash from my wife to tip him regardless of the outcome for the effort he made! I did get the camera back, the rest if the tour was very nice. So, lighting strikes again when I get off the ship in St. Marteen. I asked where I should go and was told to disembark. I did not read the instructions on the ticket that wanted us to meet in a certain place on the ship. Those that were there were left there for a long time. Again, more mis-communication between RCL and their vendor, with the vendor making us somewhat uncomfortable with how she was throwing RCL 'under the bus' when I expect it was a mutual foul-up. The trip onshore was nice. The bus tour in San Juan got off without a hitch and I thought our bad luck was behind us. Actually, part of it was. So e woman would try and push her way from the back to the front when we hit a stop off point. Why she could not wait for an orderly exit from the bus I do not know why but she was that way getting on and off the bus. Not the tour operator's fault but an annoying distraction nonetheless. So, feeling we're were going to have a trip without issues, the bus makes a turn right to go up past the old fort San Juan and his transmission would not get us going. So we started a nice traffic jam trying to get up, backing up, going up until finally the police officer got us turned around and back on course. Off to Labadee the island RCL has a private lease with Haiti for. Yep, the coordination here went haywire. Whatever RCL badged employee I asked where were the cabins at Nellie's Beach, none of them knew where Nellie's was! They said "Nellies" very clearly in the rest if the sentence in their language they speak. We went through a lot of people, constant handing off and more radio chatter. Finally they found a cabin on the beach an put us there, I still wonder if that was the exact cabin I was supposed to get, the beachhead is mild, nice and no waves. Avoid the sellers in the little huts, they hustle you to no end and can make you feel very uncomfortable. The brick building selling wares was much better, nano hustle and helpful staff. Lunch was fair. Back on board depending on what your like to do is up to you. I am sure you will read a lot of pluses and minuses on thus forum about certain aspects if whatever. I still think the M&M set the proper tone with me and the hellos and conversations we had with M&M and non-M&M folks was very enjoyable. Getting off the ship was late and a pain. Once past customs, I was able to load my car and take my family and luggage home. I did not a long line of vehicles waiting to get into the ship by noon. My advice is to leave early and not to stress. I know some folks may have missed connections/flights etc. if you can, always build in some more cushion if time to allow for fouls ups if your schedule permits. We had two Superior Balcony cabins and loved them. Quantum in 2015 will be similar but I did get a center back JS for the 2016 cruise :-) Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
First off this was my 2nd time on RCL, 7th cruise overall. We had two cabins an Inside and a balcony room SHIP- The ship it self is starting to show its age, but you can tell crew is trying hard to make sure she still looks beautiful. She ... Read More
First off this was my 2nd time on RCL, 7th cruise overall. We had two cabins an Inside and a balcony room SHIP- The ship it self is starting to show its age, but you can tell crew is trying hard to make sure she still looks beautiful. She is a little bigger then a mid size ship but no huge like some of the new ones. The ship is easy to navigate around. The royal promenade is awesome, wish ever ship did there promenades like this. The ship never really felt super crowed even tho we were walling at full capacity. The ship has a lot to offer people so we never felt board at any time. Stateroom- The rooms were a little on the smaller size for an inside cabin and about standard size for the balcony. The closets were extremely small, also not a lot of storage space. It would be hard to fit more then 2 people in a inside cabin. The rooms were clean but you could still tell she is in need for a makeover. Food- Very hit and miss everywhere. Main dining was just ok, windjammer just ok. We ate all our dinners in the main dinning room and nothing ever blew us away and wanting more. We also ate most of our lunch in the main dining room too and had the same affect on us. The windjammer is your typical buffet food so nothing surprising. Crew- This was probably one of the best crews we have ever experienced on any cruise. They did a wonderful job, from our steward to our waiters to the random crew that made our cruise that much better thank you! Embarkation/Debarkation- Was an absolute NIGHTMARE. It took forever to get into the terminal area, you get in line with all the other cars and it just takes forever to be dropped off. Getting off the ship was the worst experience out of any cruise we have ever taken. We were suppose to get of around 9:45-10 we were group 5 so not bad but RCL decided to call all numbers between 1-19 at the same time so it was crazy trying to get off the ship, horrible crowd management. We didn't get off the ship until 12:30-1:00 Overall- We had a wonderful time on RCL yes the ship needs a makeover and yes the food could have been better and yes they need to figure out a better plan for coming and leaving the ship but we would totally sail on RCL again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
The port is nice to travel from but alittle unorganized. Got on the ship and found the wind jammer packed with very seat taken. Since I cruised on the larger ships ( allure and oasis) for the passed few years, this ship seemed to be small ... Read More
The port is nice to travel from but alittle unorganized. Got on the ship and found the wind jammer packed with very seat taken. Since I cruised on the larger ships ( allure and oasis) for the passed few years, this ship seemed to be small and actually less crowd organized. They can learn something from the larger ship. The crew did work hard to make the cruise enjoyable but I think it's hard since all are stuck in the ship and not at the pools to ease some of the crowds. The food and services on board was very good even through the head waiter didn't have much of personality. The first two days were cold so everyone was stuck inside and crammed into the promenade all the time. The events on board could have been ordered better to spread the people more. Seemed like we always was in crowds on this ship. Got to Bermuda and it was alittle cold still but Bermuda is always nice. What a great island. Got back from the aquarium and it poured so not much to do but shop inside the mall. The next day was, you guessed it, travel day again. Lol finally got to St. marrten and the real vacation started, we thought! We went to the beach but it was totally cloudy all day but Waikiki beach was excellent( food & beach). Got back to the ship and found this new ( Half day) ports that RCCL does now really sux! This is the real complaint I have. Why do this to your cruisers! This 5:30 pm dinner instead of 6pm makes the half day even worst!.. The cruisers told the captain this, LOUD AND CLEAR at the special event they had for frequent cruisers. Next stop was Puerto Rico. Did the rain forest excursion ( excellent) but the half day port cut into the shopping again! Finally we arrived into labadee Haiti, now we have a full day and why is this a full day? Not much to do here even though it was nice here! Because they don't pay as much, its there island! Now we have two days to travel back to Bayonne! One of these was worth going to the pool! Arrived in Bayonne and getting of the ship was not too bad. So, I think Iam going to stick to the larger ships out of Florida and get a real warm and non crowded cruise. B.t.w. The ship is old but not as bad shape as a lot said it was! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I just returned today from the 9 day Caribbean cruise with my 2 teenagers age 18, along with my daughter's friend, age 19. We had an interior cabin for the girls, and a balcony cabin for my son and I, all on Deck 8. We have done this ... Read More
I just returned today from the 9 day Caribbean cruise with my 2 teenagers age 18, along with my daughter's friend, age 19. We had an interior cabin for the girls, and a balcony cabin for my son and I, all on Deck 8. We have done this cruise twice before, with the exact itinerary 2 years ago. We cruise about every other year, so this is our 3rd cruise, all with RC, all on Explorer of the Seas. First, I will tell you the ship is in great shape, although worn in a few places, such as stained carpet, for the most part she is a beautiful vessel, and the staff works hard to keep her clean. Although we saw some worn areas, we never saw dirty areas. Personal hygiene was stressed daily and there were plenty of hand sanitizing stations around the ship. Our cabin steward learned quickly that I was not on the same schedule as 3 teenagers, and made it work for cleaning our cabins. He was personable, friendly and always let us know what was going on the next day. Second- the dining room staff. While they were very attentive, I feel that they are much more overworked than our last 2 cruises. These guys were constantly running, and one of the things that made our last cruises so special was the feeling that the waiters had time to talk to you. I felt like they had no time at all to just make small talk with the passengers, but the service was excellent. Of particular note was the bar staff in the main dining room. I had the beverage package and the first night was served a so-so Cabernet. The second night I asked to see a wine list and they served me an excellent wine selection from that night on. I didn't have to ask, the bar server just knew what I liked and brought it over. On a rating of 1-10 for their service, I give a 10, but boy do they look over worked. Third- food quality. I traveled with 3 teenagers, so their idea of good food is anything that isn't prepared by their college cafeteria. I would say the food quality was good to fair , with some of the appetizers dry and cold, but the entrees are decent. Everyone enjoyed the deserts. The Windjammer was ok, I found the eggs cold on more than 1 occasion, but could build a decent salad at lunch time. You will wait forever for coffee to be brought to you, so just go get your own. The omelets made to order were a big hit, and they make egg white as well as regular. Café Promenade was always popular and the coffee was always brewing. Fourth- Entertainment. This cruise had the Bon Jovi tribute band, Blaze of Glory, perform Saturday night. they were great and if you ever have the chance to see them on a cruise, do so! I like this type of entertainment, and we thoroughly enjoyed the show. the band played an acoustic show the following day, which was well attended, and just as good. The band was mingling with the passengers, stopped for pictures, and very down to earth. They were happy to be performing on the ship, and we were happy to have them. We also saw Puck, a magician from "America's got talent" which I don't watch. He was also very good. They standard shows such as "Love and Marriage" and "the Quest" were also fun. the Cruise Director is Leigh, who is very funny and likes pushing things to the limit. I will say that on this cruise, there was a family that brought 3 very young children into The Quest, a 3 year old and two children that appeared to be under the age of 7. Hats off to the staff for telling the parents this was an adults only activity and the kids had to leave. On the other hand, there was a 13 year old girl attending, and they left it up to her parents. Fifth- the ports. Here is where I have my greatest dissatisfaction. I sailed this exact itinerary 2 years ago, and St. Maarten was a full day. Now, it is half day, from 1pm- 8pm. What you don't realize is that 1pm arrival time translates to 1:30 disembarkation time. So by the time we got 3,000 plus passengers off the ship, it was close to 2pm. We took a taxi to Orient Beach, and found that most of the beachfront businesses renting chairs close at 5pm. We stayed until 5:30, but you are spending $70 round trip in a taxi, plus chair rental for approximately 3 hours. The last time we were in St. Maarten, a local shop owner told us the downtown area is not safe after the shops close and the police leave the area at 6pm, so the question is , what do you do for 2-3 hours before the ship leaves?? You are stuck in the dock area, or on a Royal Caribbean excursion. Puerto Rico- Again you are here half a day, arriving at 7am when most shops, or sight seeing sites don't open until 9 or 10 am, and have an on board at 1:30pm. There is nothing to do unless you take an RC excursion once again. We wanted to go to the Baccardi Factory on our own, but found the ferry wasn't running early enough for us to do the tour an everything else we wanted to do in San Juan. again, a very disappointing port stay. Labadee- We have been to this port once before. Let me begin with the fact that we disembarked 15 minutes late. That may not seem like much but when you have a 9am zipline time, and aren't allowed to get off the ship until 9:15- after having a day and a half to travel from Puerto Rico to Haiti, it just starts the day off late. The kids got to do their zipline, which they loved and we headed to Columbus Beach. When lunch time came around and we were looking for food in the Columbus Beach area, we were informed that no lunch was to be served there- that we had to go to Nelly's Beach. Had we known this beforehand, we would have planned better. The lines at Nelly's were terrible, plus, there wasn't enough room for everyone to sit and eat. This was a bad decision for Royal Caribbean to make. You either had to take a tram to the food area, or walk through the market with the overly aggressive locals trying to sell you stuff. Speaking of the locals, RC employs them for many functions on the resort. I really don't like how they expect tips for everything, and will aggressively pursue you to do activities, such as take pictures for you as long as you tip them. It is a complete turnoff to me. The beverage/bar area at Columbus Beach ran out of supplies by 2pm and closed, leaving the area without a source of any kind of beverage- water, soda or alcohol. Being that we didn't have to be on board the ship until 3:30, my expectation is that more supplies from the ship be brought out when they started to run low, and to not close completely 1 1/2 hours before you needed to be back on ship. Overall- would I travel with RC again- possibly depending on port schedule. Would I do this itinerary again- absolutely not unless they change the port times. I personally don't like Labadee and prefer Coco Cay much better due to the aggressive market area and tipping expectations. I smiled at the band was immediately hit with a pitch to buy their CD. This is not what I want on vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our third sailing on the Explorer, the last being about 7 years ago. While still a very nice looking ship, it is showing its age and is in real need of the overhaul it's receiving next year. We were in a cabin on deck 8, ... Read More
This was our third sailing on the Explorer, the last being about 7 years ago. While still a very nice looking ship, it is showing its age and is in real need of the overhaul it's receiving next year. We were in a cabin on deck 8, outside with a balcony. The room is a bit faded and dated ( old box tv, no internet in the room) and the balcony is in pretty rough shape, rusty and unappealing. Still, the room was very clean, the bed and pillows were comfortable, nice shower with bump out doors so it's roomy. No amenities at all, just a bar of soap. The food is not as good as it's been in the past ( we've been on Royal many times over about 25 years). Dinner was good with a decent variety every night. Always included a fish and a meat dish, but otherwise some pretty unimaginative stews and boring pasta. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room if you can do those limited hours was delicious with a great selection and well prepared. Now we come to the Windjammer. Sorry to say it was pretty bad most of the time. Very strange offerings and the worst baked good desserts we've ever had on a cruise. Crowded, loud, never enough seats. We tried hard to stay out of there. Truthfully, other than the oatmeal and the fresh fruit, there's not much to brag about. The coffee is terrible. The bread was cold and sometimes hard. Do yourself a big favor and eat in the Dining Room if you can and if it's open. The Café Promenade on Deck 5 is great. Green Mountain Coffee. Really delicious sandwiches unlike anything in the Windjammer.. Freshly baked muffins and granola bars and brownies. Tasty pizza. Open 24 hours. I ate several lunches down there rather than face the Windjammer. Did I mention how bad the Windjammer is? Entertainment was pretty good. There are 3 production numbers , all a variation of other production numbers we've seen before , but the talent was excellent and the productions were well done. Leigh,the cruise director was fun and funny, as was Erky from Turkey, the activities director. Port days were fine, no lines or crowds getting off the ship as they no longer need to tender. Labadee is a gem, and we were lucky enough to get a picture perfect day. Clean, plenty of chairs and a decent barbeque lunch with lots of seating. It's grown since we were last there and now they have zip lines and water parks and etc, but we just enjoyed the sun and the relaxing day. Overall , a good vacation , very relaxing. We had a great cabin steward who went over and above, and our waiter Saudi was wonderful and attentive. They could use more help aboard the ship. No one in the computer room ever to answer questions or help. Generally not enough help around the ship. We are used to Celebrity and their staff who can't do enough for you. They don't have enough interesting activities, and many are driven by services they offer ( how to look younger will have you spending $$ in the spa or on Botox treatments, etc.) and napkin folding should have been replaced years ago. They did have a beading class ($) and a scrapbooking class ($), and of course Bingo and line dancing, but other lines have upgraded the options. I was part of a Flash Mob on the Allure, and the promenade would have been perfect for that. Of course the draw here ( for NJ, NY, and PA ) is being able to drive to the ship, and when the newer ships come in it will be a great experience again. The Quantum will have a limited run, followed by the Liberty next year and then the Anthem which will be amazing to have out of Bayonne. Enjoy the Explorer, but don't go with the expectation that you will be dazzled. It isn't glitzy or new, but your vacation is what you make of it. Enjoy the things you like and avoid the things you don't ( and by now you know I mean the Windjammer). Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This is my second cruise with RCCL. My first cruise was on the Oasis. Booking the Explorer I knew I was going on a smaller, older ship but as a resident of Connecticut, embarking from Bayonne was so much more convenient than flying to ... Read More
This is my second cruise with RCCL. My first cruise was on the Oasis. Booking the Explorer I knew I was going on a smaller, older ship but as a resident of Connecticut, embarking from Bayonne was so much more convenient than flying to Florida. Even still, I expected the quality of food and entertainment to be the same but it wasn't. The Dining Room food was mediocre. The waitstaff was incredible and tried their hardest to please us, but they have no control what comes out of the kitchen. The Windjammer food was good. We dined at Portofino twice and the food was superb there..worth the extra cost. The bar staff was friendly and I am amazed how they learn names so quickly. Many of the live shows were good, but not excellent. We were with a group of 14 and we had blast together. Loved all the ports, wish we had more time in San Juan. Getting back to the ship by 1:30 PM made it difficult to book a fun excursion. Labadee was beautiful and I highly recommend the WaveJet tour. The zip-line is fun over the water but it's only 1 zip!!!! If you plan to zip-line, do it in Jamaica or Mexico, much better experience. Bermuda was beautiful but we felt rushed as the beach spots and Hamilton take too much time to get to and from, waiting for ferries and buses. St. Maarten is incredibly beautiful and we booked a boating excursion (not through RCCL) with Soualiga Destinations that took around the island snorkeling, sight -seeing and to beautiful beaches. Great excursion! The spa treatments were good but pricey and I disliked the staff pushing the products so aggressively--I know it's their job but I had two facials done on separate days and was recommended completely different products each time. The Explorer offered tons of activities throughout the day and night that is appealing to all. It was hard to choose which one to experience! Our stateroom attendant was great! Cheerful and greeted us by name every day. I read the Explorer is getting upgraded this fall. Doubt it if I'll book Explorer again...hoping for the Allure or Oasis comes to Bayonne! Quantum is too expensive for me right now...maybe in a few years, the rates will drop. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Background: this was our 8th cruise and 7th on RCCL. We had been on this same agenda on 2006 and enjoyed it. We did this due to spring break time and proximity to the port. Long drive to Florida! Positives: Arrival / parking / ... Read More
Background: this was our 8th cruise and 7th on RCCL. We had been on this same agenda on 2006 and enjoyed it. We did this due to spring break time and proximity to the port. Long drive to Florida! Positives: Arrival / parking / Embarkation: We drove to the port and parked easily. Checkin was fine with some wait that we expected. We were at the parking at 1030 and on the ship for lunch at 1145 Cabins: We said adjoining balconies (1 for us, 1 for teenage children). The cabins were cleaned and well attended. Our cabin steward was very efficient and surprisingly quiet. Usually by the 2nd day you know their life stories and family history etc.. He just seemed to keep to himself, and do his job very well. Since we had MyTime we has pre-paid gratuities but we gave him an additional "Wow" envelope as well. Food / Drink: I know this is a non-concensus opinion, but we were fine with the food overall. Of course there are better restaurants and higher end specialities.. but given that they are feeding 10000+ meals a day we thought they did a nice job with quality and variety. True the food at the Windjammer (buffet) is pretty much the same day in day out, but there are so many options that one should be able to find something. We enjoyed the custom omelets. For dinner we ate in the MyTIme dining area each night. The menu including winners and losers but we never left hungry. There was one night that we got 4 appetizers and split an entrée... as nothing was jumping out at us. The server.. (despite MyTime we had the same one each night) ... was great... and offered to go off the menu for some semi-custom meals. I agree with other reviews that the food collectively isn't good, not great.. but certainly plenty. A mention too of the Cafe Promenade on deck 5 that has snacks and pizza ... the pizza was really good and the granola type things were excellent. We got the 7 bottle wine package which was about right. price was fair and we were happy with the selection. We didn't get it but met and hung out with a lot of people who got the all you drink packages and were very happy with them. Photographs: We splurged on the all you can take picture package. For $299 (pre cruise) we got 8x11 prints of every picture they took plus all of them on a disc as well. As they have multiple photo areas set up around the ship every night - plus getting on and off the ship at each port - we got to know the photogs pretty well. They were professional, creative and fun. We have all the usual formal night pics but also several more our to the box creative pictures. Each night we scanned the photo gallery for pictures. We ended up with about 300 pics!! Certainly worth the cost there. This is something that was the most pleasant surprise of the trip. Negatives: Weather: Weather wasn't great especially day 1. can you feel the boat moving!?!? You can't blame RCCL for the weather of the seas, but if you want a warm pool day the first day out.. don't cruise from Bayonne in April. You do basically lose 2 'pool days' going out and coming back. One would think that RCCL would know this and plan more on the sea days.. but it didn't seem that they did. Activities: it just seemed that there wasn't that much to do on the ship.. especially sea days. There were the usual cruise fare things like bingo and trivia and belly flop... but most of the time.. there seemed to be less going on. The belly flop contest is always a big hit.. I have to ask.. why not do it 2x? I would agree with another review that the actives staff was so-so. Nice enough but not overly enthusiastic at times. Smoking: Others have said this.. but as non-smokers.. there are 2 areas.. the casino... where the smoke whaffs up to the promenade and the pool. the entire side of the pool is designate for smoking (cigarettes, cigars etc) and it just blows all over the place. Not sure of a solution (move the smoking to a higher deck? but it just seemed to bother us and other non-smokers more than I can remember on past cruises. Crowds / Lines: it's spring break.. the ship is full... but it just seemed that (especially in the windjammer) that it was always crowded. not so much getting the food, but finding seats. Upside.. we met a lot of nice people asking to join them at unfilled tables. :) Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Leaving out of Cape Liberty was very convenient, since we live in CT.  We took the Academy Bus from New London to Bayonne. The itinerary was great, but it was actually three degrees warmer in CT the day we were in Bermuda!  St. Maarten, ... Read More
Leaving out of Cape Liberty was very convenient, since we live in CT.  We took the Academy Bus from New London to Bayonne. The itinerary was great, but it was actually three degrees warmer in CT the day we were in Bermuda!  St. Maarten, San Juan PR and Labadee Haiti were all very warm.  Highlight for us was the Dragon's Breath Flight Line in Labadee. A little expensive, but worth it! Our cabin was ample and clean, but the furniture was showing its age and the sofa was stained.  Our steward was fabulous and we never had any issues. The ship is showing her age, but the staff was warm and helpful. Most of the shows were very good.  My only complaint was the fact that there were several areas on the ship where smoking is allowed, including the casino. There was one area designated as "no smoking", but since it was not walled off from the rest of the casino, it stunk as much as the rest. The smoke also makes its way up a staircase to the Royal Promenade one deck above. This was my first time on RCI. I might travel out of Bayonne (Cape Liberty) again in the future, but only in warmer months. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
I have just sailed on the Eplorer of the Seas for 9 days in the Carribean, I have previously sailed on NCL and Carnival and wated to give RC a try since I heard good things about them and the reviews were good too. The ship is nice and ... Read More
I have just sailed on the Eplorer of the Seas for 9 days in the Carribean, I have previously sailed on NCL and Carnival and wated to give RC a try since I heard good things about them and the reviews were good too. The ship is nice and clean. The rooms and bathrooms show sign of wear and tear but that didn`t bother me. My main issue was with the quality of the food in the main dining room. Very limited choices and average taste. A few times, it felt like I was in an Applebees, The first 5 days of the cruise there was barely anything to choose from the menu, The last 4 nights, they stepped it up a bit and offered rack of lamb, lobster, sea bass and lamb shank. The lamb and lobster were good but the sea bass was bland. I was traveling with a group of 17 people and most of them weren`t impressed with the food.Food in Portofino was excellent. Windjammer wss very good too and offered many options,Overall,Carnival and NCL had much better food. RC had better shows than CArnival but NCL is above them all. I sailed NCL Jewl 2 years ago from NYC and it was the best!! Great food, excellent entertainment, just and excellent overall experience. RC seemed to have less staff in the public areas, In 9 days, I was only asked about 5-6 times if I need a drink. On NCL and Carnival, there are drink servers everywhere and they ask you all the time if you need anything. You just need to sit down in a public space and somebody would come to you to ask you if they can get you anything. On the Explorer, I was gambling several times in the casino and had to leave the table and go to the bar to get a drink. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
OK, alot of info to cover. First let me start by saying I am the husband of the CC member. My wife and I have gone on numerous cruises over the past 13 years, including Royal Caribbean on Grandeur and Voyager when it first came out (a ... Read More
OK, alot of info to cover. First let me start by saying I am the husband of the CC member. My wife and I have gone on numerous cruises over the past 13 years, including Royal Caribbean on Grandeur and Voyager when it first came out (a great comparison to it's sister Explorer now ready for refurb) as well as Liberty of the Seas. We have also done Disney Magic twice (once standard balcony and once suite) and NCL Gem (suite). All of our RC cruises (except for this one) were standard balcony rooms and in addition I have cruised numerous times with my sister and parents going back to the mid-1980's on RC, Holland America and others. This is just to establish that I have been on many cruises with different lines in standard rooms and suites over the past 25+ years and am basing this review on my overall cruise experience on this particular ship. I will also mention where there is a distinct advantage in a suite over regular rooms so you can compare. However, I am now hooked on the Suites on RC so you know where I stand. I will also avoid any details on the ports of call. They were all great (Bermuda, St. Martin, San Juan and Labadee) but I want to focus on the ship and the good and bad. BOARDING IN BAYONNE OK lets be honest, this is set-up as a temporary solution until they build a terminal (which they said they are planning -- probably after the Quantum of the Seas comes to NJ). You basically weave your way around the roads into the entrance road which you have to wait in a line of traffic to get up to the glorified tent where you drop your luggage off to the porter. Then you drive around into the parking lot (assuming you are self-parking), pay for parking and leave your car. The lot is right near the tented area and while there is a shuttle unless you have trouble walking just walk across the street to the tent. No need to make reservations. Huge parking lot and no issues. After you return to the tent you'll walk to the check-in. Regular cabin check-in as as you would expect. Long line weaving around. Suite guests however can head to the back area where there is a very short line and you basically get checked in within minutes. A shuttle bus then takes you to the ship which is a short distance down the pier. You board via gangplank on deck 1 (which is the only deck used for embarkation/debarkation and port stops). So you miss out on the grand entrance onto the ship you normally get at a "real" cruise terminal. However, the convenience for us outweighs everything else. And despite the terrible view of the port from the ship, the view of NYC and the statue of Liberty as you leave makes up for it. Rooms weren't ready yet so we headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. I read some terrible reviews of this experience where the food was cold, soggy, etc. We didn't have that. We were actually surprised how hot and fresh the food was. Quite good. It was crowded as expected, but suite guests have the opportunity to sit in the adjoining Portofino restaurant everyday for breakfast and lunch. You only eat the food from windjammer but staff will bring you drinks in Portofino. It actually made a big difference when we couldn't get seating or wanted a quiet lunch. As a sidenote, suite guests also get hot, cooked to order breakfasts in Portofino everyday. CONDITION OF SHIP I agree with the comments made by others that said the exterior looks aged. The paint is yellowed in placed, chipped and there is some rust on the outside of the balcony railings. However inside the ship is still nice, clean and shiny and quite modern looking. A few things do give away it's age, such as limited wifi and some minor maintenance issues. For example you might see some missing fixtures or metal/fabric with rust stains around...but you have to look for it. ROOM/SUITE Compared to newer ships and some of the excellent suites on Disney and NCL, the rooms are small. We had an owner's suite, which is the largest of the suites (except for the huge royal suite). It was myself, my wife and two daughters (5&11yo). One bathroom that while roomy has a relatively small shower, two sinks, jacuzzi tub and Bidet. Personally I recommend they get rid of the bidet and make the shower larger. I'm willing to bet that 90% of people have not ever used a bidet nor know how to properly. The sink handles were loose which made turning on/off the water awkward. Also the cold water was always lukewarm, yet for some strange reason when you first turned on the hot water it was cold. The shower leaked a little from the connection as well. Plenty of storage, nice balcony with two chairs and a cocktail table. Lots of closets and a flatscreen TV that swivels to face either the sofa/queensized sofabed or the bedroom (which is really all in one room except for a curtain that separates the two areas. Upgraded sheets and beds were very comfortable...even the sofabed which my daughter usually hates had extra cushioning and was very comfortable. We knew people with the Grand Suite one step below the Owner's Suite. They complained about lack of storage. Less closets, floorspace, etc. If you have kids the Owner's suite is definitely better. For two people, the Grand Suite is fine. Not sure why, but for some reason they only did towel animals every other night. Our kids love this, and it only uses towels in your room, so not sure why they did this. We thought it might just be us until we asked others around the ship and everyone said the same thing. **We had one incident which left us perplexed and disgusted. We came back from dinner one night after our beds were turned down to find that somebody used our toilet. We will keep this clean and let's just say what was in there was not produced by anyone in my family. The person must have flushed and assumed it went down. Nothing in our room was disturbed or missing. The first thought was the cabin attendant, but honestly I don't think a sweet, little 5-foot tall woman did this. A mountain Gorilla maybe, but not her. My theory is that she was cleaning and another employee had an emergency (obviously) and she let him use it. We didn't report anything but did talk to someone in confidence. We were told that if we reported it our attendant would be in trouble and could get fired if she let someone use our bathroom. Not knowing for sure that she even knew we decided not to do anything. Maybe a mistake on our part, but at least we didn't destroy a person's career cause they let someone poo.** CONCIERGE/SUITE PERKS As I mentioned earlier, Portofino breakfast and use of the restaurant for lunch seating is nice, however the real service comes via the concierge and staff. Denzil Fernandes was our concierge, and he (along with Ajay and Andre in the concierge lounge) made the trip extra special. Denzil took care of any reservations, changes, excursions, etc. that we had. No need to wait at the shore excursion desk or main customer service counter. Also, every morning there was a nice continental breakfast along with an espresso/cappuccino machine in the lounge you can use anytime. Our favorite though was the cocktail hour. Every evening from around 5-8PM the lounge had appetizers and full complimentary bar..including unlimited beer, wine, and hard alcohol drinks. We met so many nice people in there it became a not-to-miss part of the cruise for us. The captain came in a few times as well to say hi. A nice touch. Another nice perk is that while regular guests have to scan their seapass to get towels at the pool area (and must return the towels or be charged), gold pass suite guests get all the towels they want without have to scan your card. Other perks included a private beach area on Labadee, reserved seating at shows, the ice show and best of all...at the man pool area! FOOD I was impressed overall. Alot of posts about bad food, and having seen the ships get bigger and bigger over the years I understand how quality can go down. However, I have to say that I was quite happy with most offerings. While there were items I didn't like or were overcooked I had some very good food in the dining room as well as the Windjammer/Island Grill. Especially in the main dining room the breads were excellent, and there were alot of meat choices including rack of lamb, lamb shank and prime rib as well as very good fish and even lobster on the last formal night. And RC got rid of the horrible extra charges for certain dishes on the main dinner menus. They still offer a premium extra charge menu but it is separate and not pushed at all by wait staff. KIDS CLUB Having used the Disney club for the kids (probably the best kids club afloat anywhere IMHO) you need to lower expectations. The place itself didn't impress, but hey it's for the kids not the adults. My younger one had a blast and couldn't wait to go in everyday (yay!) and my older one was given permission to sign herself in and out so she could do as she wanted with it. She met friends onboard so had people to hang out with. This made for a much more relaxing trip for my wife and I. One thing I do not love about the club is the need to take your kids out for periods during the day when they shut down for lunch and dinner but they started to allow parents to sign up for dinner service some nights that lets your child stay and they take them to the Windjammer for dinner. The club is free up till 10PM then they charge a nominal fee till 2 AM when they close. POOLS/DECK ACTIVITIES As usual with most ships the main pool area is filled with kids, loud music and the requisite line dancing, belly flop competitions, ice carving, etc. Some live music is a nice addition, but didn't see much till towards the later half of the trip. For a quieter experience go to the Solarium. No kids allowed. This rule is broken and lightly enforced (I did see a pool staff member asked two kids who were by themselves to leave) but most people are older. Two large whirlpools (one was kept at just below boiling point I think) and a pool (all swimming pools are saltwater BTW while whirlpools are fresh). Hard to get seats in Solarium as it is a smaller area. Also on our cruise there were ALOT of much older cruisers (some in wheelchairs)which did make the solarium feel a bit like visiting day at Grandma's nursing home at times. There is a kids pool area for the young ones in the rear of the ship. two small covered pools and a (very slow)waterslide. Nice for the kids but hopefully will be made a bit more inviting with the refurb (think splash zone, better waterslide) SPA Had an awesome massage. Not much in the way of extras in the spa except for treatments. The solarium outside the spa is probably considered the whirlpool/relaxation area instead of having it inside the spa proper. This was fine. Look for spa specials throughout the cruise especially port days and late afternoon deals. SHOWS/ENTERTAINMENT This is one area the cruise fell short IMHO. The ice show is an exception. a really nice production. The cruise director and his wife ran a nice number of activities but the main shows were typical singing/dancing shows with the usual hypnotist or comedian thrown in. Quality was fine, just not my style of show I guess. On a previous RC cruise we had Ben Vereen, so hard to beat that. However, by skipping some of the shows and walking out on others we had a ton of time to enjoy the other activities. So a blessing in disguise I guess. One suggestion -- skip the casino. We aren't big gamblers but enjoy playing slots and having a fun time. However this is one area where smoking is permitted and the odds are truly terrible. We heard others (including staff) say that the casino on the ship was terrible at paying back. I agree. Not a fun time and all the smokers made it less so. Overall, despite some of the minor complaints (and the one not so minor one I mentioned) we still had a great time. We found this cruise more relaxing than most and the concierge service and suite amenities made the trip extra special. I'm not sure we will ever do a standard room again. We're so spoiled. Can't wait to see how this ship looks after it is refurbished in 2014.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Just returned from a 9 day crusie to the eastern carribean.. left Port of Liberty,NJ June 27 returned July 6th,2013.In every aspect of this cruise very disappointing.. Food Choices and quality were terrible, same basic Buffet for Breakfast ... Read More
Just returned from a 9 day crusie to the eastern carribean.. left Port of Liberty,NJ June 27 returned July 6th,2013.In every aspect of this cruise very disappointing.. Food Choices and quality were terrible, same basic Buffet for Breakfast and Dinner and on 1 occassion they put out day old reheated food from the Labardee BBQ! Every Buffet experience was terrible finding seating.. many items were not refilled in a timely manner! First day was cute being met at the entrance by a crew member yelling loudly "washy washy" as she stood by the Purell dispensers.. her voice carried through out the Buffet area EVERY Buffet meal! Very childish and in poor taste, many guests we spoke with agreed it was a distraction trying to eat or listen to Announcements about activites etc.. Condition of this vessel is worn, dated and hot tubs and pools were not in use due to maintence.. this created an over load on the remaining operating pools and hot tubs!On a few occasions there were no clean towels available from the pool attendant.. also Bar staff around the pool trying to Hawk bar drinks of the day felt very tacky! Children were everywhere no enforcement of Adult only pools and hot tubs.On a closing note every shore experience lacked staff to guide you to your activity.. no free handicaped help to assist you to the excursions.. I was forced to pay extra $$ for motorized assistance and on Labardee there were ample wheel chairs and attendents but there was pressure to pay them for the assistance.Excursions assistance in most ports was non exsistant.. perticurly in the Bahamas! The local tour office could only offer up info on public bus which one had to walk a few blocks uphill to reach the main stop for pick up of passengers.. also impossible for a person with even mild walking issues! The only praise I can sing on this cruise is about the ships staff.. If not for them this curise experience would have been a total disaster and dissappointment! Never every again will I set foot on a RCL International Ship! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
On 2 May, my wife Mary, friends Mike and Joyce, and yours truely, SailawayJack left Cape Liberty on the Explorer of the Seas for 9 great nights. I had sailed out of Bayonne before, the 2nd cruise ever out of the port. This is not my ... Read More
On 2 May, my wife Mary, friends Mike and Joyce, and yours truely, SailawayJack left Cape Liberty on the Explorer of the Seas for 9 great nights. I had sailed out of Bayonne before, the 2nd cruise ever out of the port. This is not my favorite port, but I can drive there in 2 hours. Dropped my passengers off with the luggage, parked car, waited about 1/2 hour, and was on the ship aboutm 11:30 am. Not too bad. Avoided Windjammer crowd and decided to tour the ship. It is the largest on I have sailed on. I read many reviews about Explorer prior to sailing, and I found nothing about this ship which I did not like. For an older ship, Explorer is in great shape. Stayed in an inside cabin (7437), and it was the first time in a long time. Cabin was plenty large enough for two of us. Lots of storage, and clean. Craig our cabin attendant was good. Plenty of ice and towels. We ate all breakfasts in MDR, and all but one evening were spent there. Food was better than my last cruise. It actually has improved. June and Frank, waiter and assistant were best we have had. They made the cruise. Last night we ate in Portofinos. Great as usual. Windjammer lunches were ok, not great. Service there was good. Shows (ice, Greg London) were the best shows I have seen on a cruise. Stopped at Bermuda. Took tour of island with RoseAnn, whom we used 2 years ago. Stopped at Swizzle Inn and got swizzled (rum punch). Later, ladies swam with the dolphins. They loved that. Stopped at St. Martin, took bus tour and glassbottom boat ride to reef (see and sea tour). Walked around OSJ and toured fort. Labadee was ok, but like Cocoa Cay better. Beaches are rocky. Wear shoes. Walked off ship at 9:25, luggage was ready, and pulled out of parking lot at 10:05. Parking is $19.00 per day. Overall it was one of the best cruises I have taken. Loved the ship and the people we met. Would go back in an instant Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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