My wife, two teenaged daughters and I took a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of Seas in August 2007 from Cape Liberty/Bayonne. We drove to the port and found the parking and check-in quite easy. It was our first cruise in 8 years and it was a toss-up between an all-inclusive holiday and a cruise. We particularly liked the option of being able to drive to the embarkation port.
We really enjoyed the food in all the restaurants. Portofino's was just outstanding. Pay the $20 per head; well worth it. It really was fine dining with top class service. A higher level of dining and service than the regular restaurants. We got a 5 bottle wine package which we really enjoyed and would recommend it as you save about 20%. The snacks in between meals for the kids from the Promenade Cafe were about average.
We went to all the shows and really enjoyed them. The ice show was the best of all them. Please note that you have have to get tickets for the which is relatively easy.
We had two cabins next to each other overlooking the promenade. The accommodation was pretty good.
The highlights for our family were the ports of call.
Bermuda: we took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. Tickets available just outside as you disembark for $4 each way. 30 min ride. My girls favorite beach because of the high waves due to the after-effects of Hurricane Dean.
St Maarten: My favorite part of the trip. We had an outstanding tour guide named Bernard whom I had booked with after good reviews on CruiseCritic.com. He called me and e-mailed me to confirm before our trip. He had an excellent GMC mini-bus with leather seats. He had a great sense of humor, was quite flexible about how much time we wanted at each place and was extremely well-informed. He kept us well entertained throughout our excursion which took 6 hours. We started off at the Dutch side, stopped for souvenir shopping at an inexpensive place, a bar and beach near the airport, Marigot on the French side, Orient beach for about two hours and some shopping later, which I found quite boring. Bernard charges $30 for a a daytrip and I think the cruise line would charge much more. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, website is sxmtours.com. Once gain, he was outstanding and made our trip to St. Maarten very enjoyable and memorable.
St Thomas: The most beautiful island on our cruise, according to my family. We had a full-day tour booked here with a nice lady named Burlie, whose details we got from Bernard. I was really impressed with Bernard because he called her from St. Maarten after our tour to make sure we were looked after. Our family really liked Burlie and her easy-going manner. She was again very flexible. Stops were at Mountain Top (best view of the cruise, you can see Magens Bay and about six other islands), high up for view of Caribbean side, Sapphire Beach and shopping. We just rented snorkel equipment and only had to swim about 5-7 minutes for excellent snorkeling on the right side of the beach. Saw about two dozen varieties of fish. No need to take a snorkel trip, just go to Sapphire Beach. Other people on our bus went to Coki Point which also had excellent snorkeling but was too busy for us. Burlie was happy for our group to go either beach and would pick us up or drop us off as we wanted. We were part of a group of two mini-buses. Burlie's associate's name was Conrad and he was a fun guy. Had Spider Man painted on his bus and we kept calling him Spider Man!! Burlie treated our whole family as special and I would like to recommend her strongly. Her website is viscenictours.com.
San Juan: Took a one hour short bus tour. Nothing great. Saw Fort San Cristobal and Old San Juan. Had lunch at Senor Frogs, which is a boisterous but fun place. Kids loved it and Margaritas are excellent.
Hope you got some good tips. I found CruiseCritic.com very useful in my trip planning.