We were celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary, which was actually 3 days ahead of the cruise launch - but still....
I had forgotten how horrific access to the Port of Miami is - even though we were parking offsite. I was swearing and vowing we were never sailing out of that POS Port again, which my HEA tells me I said last time i fought through Miami Traffic, limited access and construction. We used an off-site parking service, which delivered exactly what we expected and got us to, and picked up from port without having to take our car all the way into the port area. From curbside to Boarding Clerk was a maze of seemingly useless twists and turns and hallways before getting anywhere - but was efficient once we got there. That may have been because we were in the "suite" line and not the general check-in group, as we were in a Balcony MiniSuite.
Turns out Explorer is very much a sister ship to Navigator - or as Navigator was when we sailed her - so we were familiar with the layout and immediately felt at home!
I had ordered 3 food amenities in advance - chocolate covered strawberries, brownies and box of chocolates. We've found we enjoy the little extra munchies in the room during cruises, and had put notes for the dates i wanted each delivered. They were all there when we got to the cabin - surprised - not disappointed, especially since our room was ready when we got to it.
We had a Balcony MiniSuite - which was, for us, a great room! I notified our cabin steward that i would need extra coffee, which was there every day as requested, although i was short spoons to stir for a cupla days??? Not sure what happened there. We were overwhelmed by the amount of space first - and storage second in the room. Save the bathroom - the room could handle a wheelchair or walker - including the nice big walk In Closet! And no surprise - the only power was just to the side of the mirror - half behind the TV. We looked for another hidden outlet - none that we could find.
The weather for the beginning and end of the cruise was 'typical Florida winter" - which comes as a surprise to folks who are not native to Florida....Yes it get cold, yes it gets windy, and yes - it gets cold and windy! So spending time out on deck, or even walking the deck was somewhat uncomfortable. The impact of this reality on movies under the stars was devistating - as we enjoy that activity. The further south we went, the better the weather during the day, but it was periodically a bit chill with the air movement at night.
We were notified the night before porting into Labadee that our ParaSailing adventure had been cancelled due to weather - this was not the second time we'd suffered a weather cancellation for ParaSailing! But I'd also booked us on to both Zip Lines and they were running, give or take weather. The staff worked with our scheduling, closing the 5 hour gap between the first and second Zip Line adventure to less than an hour - and off we went!! We dashed from the Zip Line to do some shopping - BEWARE of how persistent the "let me help you find" people are in the shopping area!!! All i wanted was a couple of Shooter Shot Glasses...we fended off at least 30 volunteering to help me find what i wanted...and after giving up walking around, we ended up buying the shooters in the building at the beginning of the vendor sales area. Apparently the "let me help you" people aren't allowed in there.
It did shower off and on - and a big shower came through right about lunch time - i guess the cabannas and gazebo area used for serving general cruisers during their day at Labadee isn't big enough to hold the population on-shore from 2 ships in port at the same time! oops.... inconvenient - but actually more amusing than anything else...
We ate in 4 venues while OnBoard. Primarily we enjoyed the Windjammer, but ate in the Main Dining Room MyTime on Deck 3 for Formal Nights, and Took one night out for Giovanni's, and a lunch adventure At Sea to Johnny Rockets. None disappointed! Windjammer still provides a wide variety of options - changing daily to focus on different nationalities, while still offering the staples of dining in various nationalities and dietary concerns - lotsa salads - lotsa fruit - lotsa fresh!
Dinner in the Main Dining Room was fab! We left the table each night sated and smiling. Our first night they acknowledge our Anniversary - delivering a piece of chocolate cake with a candle, and half a dozen of the staff came over to sing. They handled my one 'custom' order just fine (one from this column and one from this column together, and take the veggie from over here and make my dinner please?) The bread offerings have changed over the years - but everyone's found ways of cost savings so it's hard to take that personal. And i'm a sucker for a good Creme Brulee - and they do make a good one on Royal Caribbean!
Giovanni's dinner was fantastic. We were well treated, meat was cooked to perfection, and we ordered 2 'shareable' veggies. We actually had gotten full and were ready to leave with no dessert (no room left) when we received a marvelous multilayered slice chocolate cake with a candle - and a few of the staff came and sang Happy Anniversary for us...all rather unexpected! Royal Caribbean does read and pay attention the notes in the file on their passengers.
We'd been to Aruba before - and although it read differently - the excursion we ended up on this time was veritably identical to the last, a bit of a disappointment. That was redeemed, however, by the Sunset Schooner Cruise! The weather was just warm enough - and i brought my sweater anyways! That was a GREAT relaxing experience, and will be looking for similar events on future cruises, regardless of port.
Bonaire and Curacao were lovely little islands, at the higher level of eye appeal and maintenance we've come to expect from the Dutch owned islands. We ran into a bit of a traffic jam at the beginning of the tour on Bonaire - quickly forgotten in the middle of having fun!
The only real complaint i have is with a couple of the Tour operators. I understand that everyone is out to save a buck - but the large vans/small busses used by the operators on a couple of the tours left hubby and I both bruised for squeezing ourselves into the seats. Tour operators should be required to use full size busses, and full sized seats! We're adults - mostly senior citizens with a touch of southern spread - and i'm not the only one who was grumbling about bruises on the tours.
Plenty of room to change mind - or clothes!! Plenty of Storage space!!! I overpacked for 2 for 10 days - including formal wear - and we didn't have 1/2 the shelf or hanging space in the closet used. 5 bags stored just fine - and still left room to get in to closet - move around and change your mind!!
Bathroom was small - as expected - but the water pressure was spot on and well appreciated!!! Tub was GREAT - although i'm hoping they change up the sealing around the edges during the refurb.
The Couch, glass topped table and 1 chairs for the sitting area could probably be cut down to couch and 1 chair - but i'm not sure it would make that much of a difference. There was still plenty of space!
access to this port is Horrific on a good day.
cancelled due to weatherView All 30 Parasailing Reviews
two of them actually - and did both! LOVE LOVE LOVE zip lines!!
great excursion!!!View All 233 Ziplining Reviews
good tour - but was duplicate of one we'd done previously.View All 248 Island Tour Reviews
GREAT adventure. Very relaxing - great photo opportunity. Will do again!!!View All 44 Sunset Cruise Reviews
save the incomfortable seating on the bus - it was a great tour.View All 107 Island Tour Reviews
We even bought liquor at the factory!!! Great tour!View All 224 Island Tour Reviews