Explorer of the Seas - Bermuda: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by trooperdog
Overall Member Rating
Explorer of the Seas - Bermuda
Embarkation: Bayonne (Cape Liberty)
Embarkation: This was a breeze. We arrived at the pier at about 11:30am, gave our luggage to the longshoreman which is how they introduced themselves and then walked right up to a registration station. We received our SeaPass cards and then proceeded to another area to wait for a bus to take us to the ship. This was a little strange since were used to boarding directly from the terminal but Cape Libertys set up a little differently. The ship is docked a pretty good distance from the terminal you can see it and you could probably walk it but you wouldnt want to! Anyway, the wait for our bus was only about 5 minutes and it dropped us off right at the ship.
Ship: This was our first time on an Voyager-class ship and More . . . WOW! I thought I had a pretty accurate idea of what the atrium would look like but I never imagined it would be so impressive. The entire ship was just beautiful, in excellent shape no evidence of wear and tear at all as far as I could see. People were constantly cleaning and polishing and even painting (while we were docked in Bermuda, crews were putting a fresh coat of white paint on the exterior). Navigation was the easiest of any ship weve ever been on, with directional signs everywhere and all of the main areas/rooms indicated along with the floor numbers on the elevators. The only place we had trouble getting to was Studio B, the ice rink, which couldnt be reached from the forward elevators or stairs.
Cabin: We booked this cruise only 6 days prior to sailing and had an inside guarantee. You never know what youll get with a gty but we ended up with a cabin on Deck 6 in a great location (#6231). It was very close to the forward stairs and elevators and just one flight down to what became our favorite place on the ship Cafe Promenade. More about this later. Our cabin itself was plenty spacious for the 2 of us, with more storage space than we could even fill up! We had a couple of empty drawers and didnt even use the little shelves behind the mirrors on the vanity. The closet had lots of hangars (maybe 25?) and a set of shelves at one end.
One little problem was that with the beds made up as a king, it was difficult to squeeze between the corner of the bed and the vanity on one side and the sofa and bed on the other. After the first day, we asked our cabin steward to make our beds up as twins (and assured her we werent having marital problems.) This ended up making the room seem much more spacious. We also asked for the foam eggcrate mattress pads and robes as soon as we met our cabin steward and she was able to get them for us with no problem.
The bathroom was nicely laid out and the sliding shower doors were a nice change from an icky shower curtain. There was plenty of storage and the lighting was really good.
Now about the hair dryer . . . Having read reviews that stated that the hair dryer was plenty powerful, I left mine at home for the first time ever and I was so sorry I did! Although it was indeed powerful enough, it was very awkward to use. It was located in the top drawer of the vanity, attached through a hole in the back of the drawer with a very springy coil cord, and the ON button had to be constantly pressed for it to continue running. Since I use a round brush to dry my hair and I change hands frequently, it was quite an ordeal to get my hair dried everyday. I think someone had recommended duct tape to keep the ON button depressed and I sure wished I had some! I say bring your own hairdryer with you.
Dining: We had Main Seating dining and were seated with only 2 other couples at a table for 8. Our tablemates were great and we enjoyed their company immensely. The food in the dining room was very good, much better than weve had on our last several cruises on Princess and NCL. The service was also excellent. We dined in Portofinos our last night on the ship and it was superb. The atmosphere was very nice and we had a great table for 2 next to the window. The service was fabulous and the presentation of the food was amazing. It seemed to us to be a much more special experience than the similar alternate restaurants on other cruise lines.
We had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer everyday and thought it was very good. We always went all the way to the back to the Island Grill section and we never had trouble finding a table. The Island Grill section had the same food as the stations on both sides with the exception of the Jade area, which had a nice variety of Asian foods. Burgers and pizza were always available burgers were good didnt have the pizza (always looked kind of soggy to me). Drinks were the usual tea, lemonade and coffee. The soft serve ice cream (frozen yogurt, I think) was great! There were several machines in the Windjammer and at least a couple in other locations. Each machine had either chocolate/vanilla/or swirl or strawberry/vanilla/or swirl. The vanilla tasted just like Chick-Fil-As, which I love!
There was a midnight buffet poolside on Tuesday night and the Gala midnight buffet in the dining room on Wednesday night.
Now for the best feature of the ship with regard to dining at least in our opinion! At the forward end of the Atrium was the Cafe Promenade, a great little place that was open 24 hours. It served Seattles Best Coffee in to go cups, along with doughnuts and pastries in the morning and sandwiches, pizza, fruit and cookies the rest of the time. Ben & Jerrys ice cream was also available here, as well as coffee drinks (lattes, cappuccinos, etc.) Both the ice cream and the coffee drinks required an extra charge. It was so nice to have the coffee available though, to take into the shows or the lounges with you or to grab a quick snack without having to go up to Deck 11 to the Windjammer. It seemed that EVERYONE was walking around with the Seattles Best to-go cups so I think that this feature was a big hit!
Entertainment: The first night (Sunday) was the Welcome show and featured the Cruise Director, Allan Brooks. I have to say that he was one of the best cruise directors that we have ever experienced! His humor was sort of subtle at first but as the week went on, you started thinking this guy is hilarious. During the Love & Marriage show, he was the best part of the show. He could have his own stand-up comedy act and was actually funnier than the comedian onboard (Dwayne ?) who was really quite good himself.
The production shows (Monday & Wednesday nights) were a little disappointing to us. Although the cast was great, we thought that the shows didnt flow well. Not sure how to explain that but they were just OK. During our overnight in Bermuda (Tuesday), the show was held off of the ship in the Dockyards, where a magician and a juggler performed. We missed the Farewell show on Thursday night so that we could pack.
We didnt spend a lot of time in the casino (too smoky) or The Chamber (disco) but we made it to Karaoke (twice), the late night comedian, Love & Marriage, Battle of the Sexes, etc. We didnt make it to Quest but weve seen it before.
The Planet Ice show was fabulous! Itinerary: The seas between Cape Liberty and Bermuda were somewhat rough. It wasnt the worst weve experienced and we werent sick because wed started taking our Bonine on Saturday. We did overhear passengers talking about getting sick though and most of them had been wearing a patch. Its been our experience that the patch doesnt work nearly as well as Bonine. We take it a day or two before traveling because it makes both of us somewhat drowsy the first day but after that, we take it about dinner time every night and never have any problem at all.
Our day at sea was cloudy and cool. We stayed in our cabin and napped and read most of the day.
Tuesday morning we woke up in Bermuda to sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s. We had purchased a transportation pass from the Pursers Desk the night before that was valid for travel on all ferries and buses in Bermuda. It was $12 pp for a 1 day pass or $20pp for a 2 day pass. We took the ferry to Hamilton after waiting in line for about 20 minutes or so. Once in Hamilton, we walked around for a little bit but then decided to go to the beach instead of shopping. Hamilton reminded me a little bit of Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Very nice and clean, with similar shops. We made our way to the bus terminal and got on bus #7 to Horseshoe Bay.
Once on the bus, you were really able to understand why they discourage renting scooters! Buses and cars are everyone and theres really just one main road without a shoulder in most places. Traffic moves along pretty fast and driving is on the left. Most of the people on scooters appeared to be locals and the ones that looked like tourists looked scared to death. A woman next to me on the bus told me a tourist had been killed on a scooter on Saturday.
The bus let us off at Horseshoe Bay sort of. It stops at the side of the road and then you have to walk down a really long hill to get to the beach area. Fortunately, there are shuttles ($1 a person) that will bring you back UP the hill when youre ready to leave!
Horseshoe Bay was beautiful! It had restrooms, changing rooms, a little bar and restaurant, and equipment rental. Chairs were $8 -$10 and umbrellas were $10. The sand was soft and slightly pink (not PINK like I expected) and the water was gorgeous. The walk down the beach to the left (as you face the water) was amazing! All sorts of rock formations you can walk through and around just like you see in brochures! The weather was perfect although the water was a little too cool for us to get in. Lots of people were in the water though, so it must not have been THAT cold.
We almost didnt make it back to the ship in time to get ready for our 6:00 dinner because we didnt anticipate it would take so long. We waited about 15 minutes for the bus (after a 10 minute walk up the hill line for shuttles was too long), then about 20 minutes on the bus, 10 minute walk to the ship and then about a 20 minute wait in line to get on the ship. Not sure what the deal was with that something to do with the Bermuda officials. Prior to getting on the ship, you have to go through this little building and A) show your SeaPass card or B) show your SeaPass card and your photo ID or C) show your SeaPass card and your photo ID and pass your belongings through the x-ray machine. It was never the same twice every time we left the ship and returned, they wanted something different. Plan accordingly!
Wednesday morning in Bermuda was cloudy, overcast and windy! We had planned to go back to the beach or to St. Georges but ruled both of those out because of the weather. We didnt really want to get on the ferry because the water was so rough. Instead, we walked around the Dockyards, which we really hadnt had a chance to do yet. Theres not a ton of stuff to do there but its very nice. A small mall, an art museum, a craft market, a glass blowing factory, pottery shop and a fort with a museum. Although it doesnt sound like we got to see very much, we feel like we got a nice glimpse of Bermuda and would probably plan to come back and stay in a hotel.
Wednesday night, after departing Bermuda, the seas were kind of rocky again. On Thursday morning though, we woke to sunny skies and calm seas, which continued throughout the day and all through the night. We stayed out by the pool in the Solarium all day (very comfy cushioned lounge chairs) and then played Bingo in the afternoon. Someone won the jackpot of $7500!
Disembarkation: Not good. On Thursday night, they announced we would be arriving at Cape Liberty at about 6:00am and that the first passengers would be disembarking about 6:45. They even suggested that if you wished to leave the ship without assistance (carrying all of your own luggage), you needed to be prepared to do so PRIOR to 6:45am. Im sure many people planned to do this since a great percentage of the passengers were from the NY/NJ/PA area and had driven to the port. We had an early flight and were given the white tags for the earliest departing passengers.
However, the ship didnt even dock until about 7:00am. Most passengers had already left their cabins and were waiting in the lounges or eating breakfast in the Windjammer. Its 7:30, then 8:00, then 8:30. No announcements. Its over 2 hours past when passengers had been told to expect to disembark and no one has any idea whats going on. Finally, about 8:45 they announce that the ship has not yet been cleared but dont explain why. Finally, at 9:15am, they announce that the first passengers may leave. By this time, some passengers have been waiting for almost 3 hours past the time they were assigned to leave. Not too many folks were happy. And those passengers from New York and New Jersey? Lets just say that theyre an expressive bunch!
It was a shame really, to have such a great cruise end in such a frustrating manner. We barely made our flight at 10:45 (very stressful) and Im sure many others missed theirs. Even without a detailed explanation, a little communication would have gone a long way toward pacifying an increasingly agitated crowd.
Overall Impression: We had a great trip and would recommend both the ship and the itinerary to anyone. The ship, the service, the food and certainly the island of Bermuda were all outstanding. Book without hesitation. Less
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