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961 Bayonne (Cape Liberty) to Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

Voyager 7/30/04 Review - WOW Sailed with my wife; we are 41 and 42. This was my 14th cruise. One of the best cruises we've ever been on, and we've been on a good size variety of ships over a 20 year period. Rankings of 1 - ... Read More
Voyager 7/30/04 Review - WOW Sailed with my wife; we are 41 and 42. This was my 14th cruise. One of the best cruises we've ever been on, and we've been on a good size variety of ships over a 20 year period. Rankings of 1 - 10: Cabin (inside) - 8 Service - 9 Ambiance of ship - 9 Lounges & theatre - 8 Variety of things to do - 8 Entertainment - 9 Pool areas - 7 Non-smoking rules - 8 Dinner - 9 Bkfst & lunch Buffets - 6 Snacks & Johnny Rockets - 8 Overall experience - 9 The ship did not feel as big as I thought it would - everything is laid out in a way that makes the ship seem smaller than it is, although without realizing it, you can certainly put on a couple of miles a day walking around. We arrived at Port Bayonne around 11:30 and we were in our cabin at 12:00 - absolutely fantastic. If you will be parking, stay in the right lane to go into the parking lot. Walk with your bags. It's not worth waiting in the line of cars to drop off your bags and then having to swing around again to get to the parking. They do accept credit cards. Do not bother getting off in Freeport. We did not talk to one person who was happy they bothered getting off. As an example, some of the highlights of the scenic tour excursion were the Winn Dixie and the closed up Grand Union (yes, these were actually pointed out by the tour guide). The ship rocked a bit, but not too bad. Pools very crowded on sea days. Not enough non-smoking signs. People were nice about it when we asked them to move to the smoking side, but we shouldn't have to. The main shows were fun, the comics, etc.. were good, Krooze Komics great, and the nighttime lounge and bar music was very good. Some of the best in the world apple pie ala mode at Johnny Rockets. Great big cookies at the buffet and Cafe Promenade. Did the rock wall 3 times. Hard, but a lot of fun. If you've read all this way, this great cruise was topped off with something amazing. We were invited to dinner with the Captain on the second formal night. An absolutely amazing experience. Captain Eric is a very friendly guy. To make it even better, he gave us a full 1 hour personal tour of the bridge on Saturday while at sea. This was so much fun!! We had already re-booked the same cruise for next year, except with a Promenade cabin, and we are so happy we had done so. We are really looking forward to going on this beautiful ship again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
My wife and I just got back from our first cruise. We had a 1-1/2 hour drive from our home in the Pocono's to Liberty port. We could see the ship as we crossed the Bayonne Bridge, it is huge. We arrived about 1:00 PM for a 5:00 PM ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from our first cruise. We had a 1-1/2 hour drive from our home in the Pocono's to Liberty port. We could see the ship as we crossed the Bayonne Bridge, it is huge. We arrived about 1:00 PM for a 5:00 PM departure and were on the ship by 1:20PM. We immediately made our way to our room on the 10 floor and then went to explore the ship after we dropped off our carry on luggage. We made reservations and then went exploring the ship and looking for my wife's sister and husband who had arrived earlier with a group from New Hampshire. We could not find then after looking on the Pool deck and on the 5th floor Promenade, so we went to lunch in the Windjammer buffet, that's where we met them eating. The ship muster was an unexpected surprise to us their was a lot of jokes about Titanic etc. The ship departure was fantastic seeing the Statue of Liberty in the distance and then going under the Verizono Bridge was unreal. I heard we just cleared by 16 feet. We stayed on the deck for another hour enjoying the ocean and then went to explore the ship some more. Our luggage arrived around 7 PM and we unpacked and went to dinner late around 9:00PM at Johnny Rockets. The waitress was great but the cook was a grouch. Food was good and the shakes are fantastic. We went to bed early around 11 because we had been up so late the night before. We missed the entertainment that night but went to the La Scala every night after. The entertainment on the ship is fantastic, the Cruise Director Richard has so much energy and fun that you have to laugh with him and at him. All the shows were very good, the comedians were very funny. Herb Reed and the Platters were incredible; he is 84 and has more energy than most teenagers. The other head liner was Dominic Allen, what a show he played everything from swing to jazz to rock and played 3 different instruments. There is every form of entertainment on the ship including a quiet spot in the library for those who need a break. The food in the Windjammer is good not great, the dinning room was a step up but the service at our table was not good. The waiter apparently did not like us and was robotic and rude on every dinner. The assistant waiter/drink waitress on the other hand was very nice and this offset the head waiter rudeness. The food was excellent every night, although I don't much care for lobster. The service staff in the Windjammer and the bars throughout the ship was very friendly, and the other cruisers were all easy to talk to and fun. Overall this was the best vacation we have ever taken. Labadee, St. Martin and St. Thomas were beautiful and so much fun. San Juan was a good day to spend at the ship pool which is what we did after 2 hours walking the dirty streets. Dave and Janet (soon to cruise again). Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Voyager Review from 9/10 Hurricane sailing - the good, the bad and the ugly! Overall, I'd say that it was a good cruise, especially the cruise itself part of it. The ports were more than a little disappointing, especially for 3 kids ... Read More
Voyager Review from 9/10 Hurricane sailing - the good, the bad and the ugly! Overall, I'd say that it was a good cruise, especially the cruise itself part of it. The ports were more than a little disappointing, especially for 3 kids who'd been looking forward to dolphins and stingrays for over a year since we'd booked. Even before we left, we knew this was unlikely and prepared them accordingly. But to go to nearly all replacement ports with virtually no shore excursions available (or that went due to weather) and effectively sit in pouring rain and lightning/thunder all day each day really wasn't what I was looking for in a Caribbean cruise! I realize it was hurricane season, I realize RCCL has to do what they can, I realize the only ones to blame are Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne! Just a little info about us. We're a family of 5 with 3 boys ages 12, 11 and 9. They'd been on 2 short (3 day) cruises before with Big Red Boat and Disney, but it's been almost 4 years since their last one. After each previous cruise I'd felt that I wouldn't take the kids on another, but thought the 3 day just wasn't representative enough. But after 9 days this time, I probably won't take them again. It's disappointing because DH & I love cruising so much and my kids just seemed so unimpressed. It's just not worth paying more than twice as much to have 2 cabins to bring them when they'd all rather just stay in their cabin and play gameboy or watch the one cartoon channel, even though it was in Spanish half the time (guess that's educational!). They were sad when the cruise was over, but I think missing the parts that would have been the most fun for them (ie shore excursions) made the overall experience quite a bit lower. DH & I probably wouldn't have cared nearly as much if it was just us, but the amount we spent for all 5 of us is not going to happen again, and since we live in Michigan, sorry, but no dolphins or stingrays around here! Overall, before the cruise, I had 3 main hopes. The first, which I prayed/hoped/wished for during the entire preceding year, was simply that everyone was healthy for the cruise. I'd just heard too many horror stories about confinement, etc. Luckily, we all were, barring some minor motion sickness that last day at sea (we definitely weren't the only ones!). The next 2 were hopes once we knew effects from a hurricane were likely. Secondly, I just wanted to sail south - didn't care where we were going, as long as it wasn't north to Canada! Just really wanted to go to the Caribbean, plus I had nothing warm packed for anyone! Third, I hoped we'd get one beach day where the kids could actually enjoy swimming in the ocean. This we definitely had at Labadee. So...all 3 of my goals were met; I got everything I would have wanted going into the cruise, so I really should be happy! THE GOOD And there really is a lot of it. --The waitstaff. Without a doubt the best waiter, assistant waiter, and head waiter we've had on any cruise. I've read the boards for years with people talking about how wonderful their waiters were and wondered why it had never happen to us. we've never had bad waiters, but usually ones who just did their jobs and that was about it. This time was different. Our head waiter knew us by name and came to the table daily to talk. Our waiter was a bit formal, but would bend over backward to get us what we wanted (ie on lobster night, the lobster entrEe included 4 shrimp. My kids loved the shrimp, not the lobster as much. He went back and brought each of them a plate of about 20 shrimp.) He always brought us extra things to try that he recommended, even when we'd ordered something else. Our assistant waiter was so much fun, that the kids refused to go to Johnny Rockets with the kids' club because they didn't want to miss seeing him. Overall, just a wonderful experience. --The Windjammer. This was an excellent setup. Excellent food, excellent variety, excellent service. Make your own chicken noodle soup - how fun. Different things to try from day to day. Omelet station. Food always hot, rarely crowds. We loved the Windjammer. --The Balloon Lady. On our cruise, there was a passenger who'd been given a "significantly reduced" fare (no I don't know how much) in exchange for offering classes on the ship. She had classes in balloon making (we learned swords, dogs, a few others), money folding (made suits and bow ties), regular origami, and magic. All were very interesting and a lot of fun, both for adults and the kids who came. Even more fortunately, she ended up sitting at the table behind us and brought balloon creations each night to dinner - some really elaborate. After the first night she brought extra creations for each of my boys, as well as the 2 girls at her table. Lots of fun, lots of funny pictures. I definitely wrote about her on my cruise comment form, and got her email for follow up. Really glad she was on our cruise. --Lack of lines/crowds everywhere. I could not believe how many people were on the ship, yet we rarely, if ever felt crowded or that we had to wait. Going to a show? Get there a few minutes before it starts and still no problem getting a seat. Tenders? In Labadee we'd scheduled the water park at 10am, so we decided to get in line for tenders by 8:30. 15 minutes later we were laying on a lounge chair on the beach. No lines, no crowds, no pushing. Hardly ever had to wait at the purser's desk except the very last evening. Just amazing! --No problems with people smoking. This was one of my main fears about RCCL, due to the number of threads I've seen about this. Guess I was expecting people smoking everywhere, being rude, etc. Smoking doesn't really bother me (any more than loud music, unattended pets, etc.) - mainly it's people being rude that bothers me. I never encountered this. Never had problems inside anywhere, our cabins were fine, on the pool deck or outside people seemed to smoke on the side they were supposed to, although this may be my perception because I never actually figured out what side allowed smoking, and even if I had, I never could usually figure out what side of the ship I was actually on (even looking down at the water when we were moving, I had a hard time figuring which way was forward - I'm directionally challenged). So if people were smoking, I moved somewhere else and never had any problems. Thanks everyone for being so considerate! --Cabin 7387 had 2 hidden bunks! This is not shown on any of the ship maps anywhere. We had 7388 (corner aft) booked for 3 of us (DH & I & 9 year old), and 7387 across the hall booked for 2 of the kids. We'd hoped to put the youngest in with his brothers at least a couple nights, for some alone time, but weren't sure how. The second night, my youngest noticed that in 7387 there were actually 2 bunks there. Asked the steward if he could lower one of those each night instead and he did! Not only did we get our own room (woo hoo), but it worked out much better since we were usually up around 7:30 and the kids were usually up around 10:30. Plus I didn't hit my head any more which I'd done like 3 times the first night. You could tell the bunks hadn't been used before much if at all since they were completely white/no scratches, very firm mattresses, as opposed to the one in our room which was worn down to the silver under the white paint. Finding this out was a very pleasant surprise. Since we'd brought a baby monitor and could hear every word in our kids' rooms, I didn't have any concerns about them being alone 10 feet away. Also since we were so far aft, after a couple days we knew all our neighbors and you rarely saw anyone else wandering that area. --Portofinos. Excellent experience. Although the menu that I'd seen in advance didn't suggest anything special, especially since they no longer had lobster, it wasn't the case. The atmosphere, the service, are really worth it. We took my oldest (the sign at the reservation desk said they welcomed kids 12 & older, but they really tried to encourage us to bring our younger two kids too - we didn't) and he loved the experience and tried to get us to eat there again. They allowed us to order multiple appetizers, even 2 entrees each and when my son told them the tomatoes (a bread condiment) were good, they brought him an entire bowl of them. Just a great time. I'd recommend though making reservations right at 6 (ours were at 6:30) and requesting a window seat. That would have made it even more special, especially for a couple it would really be romantic. --Ice rink. Everything concerned with it. The Ice Show was SO good. I'd heard so much about it on the boards, but was skeptical. How can you make an ice show that exciting? I'm not a big skating fan and wasn't expecting much. But it was more "show" than "ice" - think Lion King. We were really impressed and enjoyed it a lot. The ice skating was so much fun too. Not sure why since we're 3 blocks from an ice arena and all my kids learned to skate in preschool, but haven't much since then. They had so much fun now they want to take lessons again. Especially the first days, the rink was empty - had it to ourselves a couple times. So cool! --Fun/silly classes. Stupid as this sounds, the highlights of our trip were the classes most people skip like napkin folding. If you haven't been to a class like this (juggling, packing), try it. They're hilarious, and you learn something you can always impress people with. My kids spent the entire week folding every napkin at the dinner table into something different. In the Windjammer, wait staff would watch them, and sometimes show them a new one. Great way to meet people and have fun. --No chair hogs/No seat savers/No rude kids. SO many threads about these things had me worried but we never encountered it. Went to the pool at least once per sea day, mid afternoon, and never had trouble getting a chair within sight of the pool. No, not front row, but 3rd or 4th. didn't see towels saving seats, no fights about it. Same in theater - never saw anyone save more than say a seat for a spouse. Never saw kids hitting elevator buttons, running, blocking stairs, drinking, anything. I had my 3 and was definitely watching them and others but there simply weren't problems. Maybe because there were only 100+ kids on the ship, but again a pleasant surprise. --Labadee. This was all the good I've read on the boards and none of the bad. It was simply beautiful. We had so much fun at the water park, so much fun snorkeling (went around a long ways and found a cave we could climb into - so cool for the kids), banana boating, etc. Went over on one of the first tenders and came back on one of the last. I'm so glad we did everything - we were telling the kids we didn't need to snorkel there since we'd be doing it in other ports. Since we didn't get to in any other ports, I'm glad we made the most of our time there. We had no trouble with lounge chairs - despite the paper that said you didn't have to tip, we tipped $5 to "move" 3 chairs for us. You tip everyone else, why not? We positioned ourselves by a hammock to use since we were there early, but didn't put anything on it to "save" it so others could enjoy it. Were pleasantly surprised that while various people (including us at times) used it all day, no one tried to "claim" it. Also, the lunch was great. My son tried ribs for the first time and ended up eating 6 plates of them. Lots of fun. --No one pushed the Coke cards at all. We actually had to search to get them, so it would be easy to avoid if you didn't want to get them for your kids. On Princess & Disney they had them everywhere and really pushed them on you. Never had trouble getting them filled anywhere (usually just used the card/sticker not the mug). --Sport activities. DH had lots of fun playing water volleyball and dodgeball. Many other fun things to choose from on sea days. --Miniature golf. Lots of fun. A really challenging course, not just a generic one like on the Grand. Hardly ever crowded, especially in the evening. Lots of fun to play under the lights at night time. --Friendly people. Everywhere we went, we met friendly people. Although we loved the Windjammer, we went to breakfast/lunch (usually without the kids) in the dining room for the chance to socialize and EVERY time ended up with a great table full of people we'd then see throughout the cruise. Even in lines/tenders, etc. ended up talking to lots of interesting people. These ranged from great grandparents to families with young children, newlyweds, etc. So many nice people. --The Meet & Mingle. Much more than I was expecting. Not just a space to meet, but crew led with drinks (non-alcoholic) and hor d'oeuvres (I can't spell it!). Did a RCCL trivia game, and since we'd just watched the 3 video set on the making of the Voyager, we won and got the Aqua Mouse. The funniest part was checking the answers. The paper I got was hilarious, but I can't remember whose it was. For the question "Name one of RCCL's private islands", they'd put "Labadee, labadah, life goes on.." For "the train owned by RCCL", they'd put "Voyager of the Land" and for the name of the RCCL children's program, they had "Rugrats of the Seas"! Funnier than some of the comedians! --RCTV. This was so simple, useful, and fun to use. To be able to check your account instantaneously, see when something was posted, etc was great. Last evening we couldn't find an 8x10 we were sure we'd purchased. We could look on the TV, at the day we were sure we'd bought it, and see no photo purchases that day. When I went down to look for (and buy) it, DH knew I'd found it since the purchase popped up on the screen before I'd even gotten back! When we switched ports, you could book new shore excursions quickly, without standing in line, from the comfort of your room. We used it to order room service several times. No talking to someone who didn't speak English hoping they got your order right. Just point and click and voila - 30 minutes later your food appeared like magic! What a neat feature! THE MEDIUM These are the things that weren't up to what I was hoping for, things that were better than I'd expected, things that had some goods and some bads. --Adventure Ocean. This was a really hard one. Some big plusses, some big minuses. My older son was in the teen group. Unfortunately, due to the small number of teens on the trip, this group's (12-14) activities probably didn't go about half the time. They combined with the 15-17 group for the few things that did go (prom, dancing) and as a 12 year old, he just wasn't comfortable with this. Add in that a lot of the kids in his group were 14 year old girls, not 12 year old boys. Not something I can blame RCCL for, but disappointing nonetheless, especially since it meant he then hung out with DH & I much of the time. My other boys were in the 9-11 group. Although they LOVED the group, AO, the games they played, one frustrating thing was that they rarely followed their schedule. They'd publish these schedules with all these great things on them, then when you went when it said, it was always like "we already did that, aren't doing that, may do it later". This happened repeatedly, not once or twice. After a while, we stopped looking at the schedule and just showed up and let them have fun when we weren't busy with something else, but it would have been nice to hit the activities (scavenger hunt, dodgeball, gaga ball) that they really wanted to do. Unfortunately, also due to the smaller number of kids, they were frequently combined with the 6-8 year olds. This is why even when we had my oldest try this group, he really didn't like it because of "all the little kids who cheat at games and cry if they don't win". My 12 didn't fit with the 6's, but not with the 17's either! The schedule also was so poorly written that it was a joke. They didn't even make an effort to update them much because of the itinerary changes (it would say San Juan on the top, then Welcome to Ocho Rios), had numerous typos (my 9 year old found 4 in one sentence many times), and unfortunately didn't change when sea/port days switched so you couldn't follow them accurately at all, even as far as opening and closing times. The biggest problem we encountered though, was that the younger kids could save up "tickets" to get prizes at the end. My 12 year old, though, couldn't, even though they advertise it on the RCCL website. When I asked about it, they said they didn't bother with that for the teens and anyone who came regularly would get a CD case and a shoulder bag. My son really wanted the shoulder bag, so we were happy. Several days later, he asked another counselor if he'd get one for sure and she promised him yes. Then on the last morning, as we were preparing to trade in for our other 2 (who also wanted the shoulder bags which cost 20 tickets each), suddenly the counselor told my oldest, sorry, they'd given out too many prizes on this cruise so the teens weren't getting any more. Talked to the head counselor (Tammy) who was quite rude about it, and basically accused us and my son of lying that anyone had told him he'd get it. She kept yelling at us and saying "we can't give everyone every prize". I'm like, "He wants the one he was promised by 2 adults". Asked to speak to her supervisor, who was of course "unavailable". She promised to call us back, and finally did several hours later to grudgingly say she'd give him a bag, but he had to come at 5 to get it. He went back at 5, and no one there to give it to him. Found her and she told him to come back at 9. DH went with him and finally got it for him. This kind of wasted our entire last day. Come on, it's a stupid bag that probably costs them $5 at the most and they're going to ruin his (& our) cruise over it? Obviously this left a bad taste in my mouth, but I have to again reiterate that he still enjoyed the activities he went to that happened, my younger 2 loved their activities, and it seemed like a good program overall. --Snack Availability. This was a little frustrating compared to Princess. On Princess, at any time, you could go to their buffet and there would be something. On Voyager, the Windjammer was open limited hours, especially in the afternoons. I know Cafe Promenade was there, but there was nothing my kids would eat (maybe a cookie) there. Also the lack of cold beverages was annoying. We hadn't gotten Coke cards for us (since we don't drink much of it). Lots of times it was hot, we were thirsty, the Windjammer was closed and all there was in Cafe Promenade was the jugs of milk and cool water (no ice anywhere). Also our steward didn't bring ice unless we specifically asked him each evening (even though we asked) and it usually melted before we used it anyways since the fridge certainly wasn't cool, let alone cold. On Princess many nights in the 10pm range (since we had first seating) we'd go to the buffet and get a dessert. Couldn't do that on RCCL other than cookies. Also is there anywhere to get burgers other than JR? At 4pm or so, we found we were basically out of luck if we were hungry other than room service. I'm assuming stuff was available that we never found, and so am listing this as a medium. It wasn't nonexistent, just hard to find. I also never understood why we could get lemonade in the Windjammer, but it wasn't available in the dining room. This was very disappointing to my boys who all love lemonade. --Everyone being from NY/NJ. Please don't take this as an insult to NY/NJ people. I'd read a few bad things about that before we left, and certainly didn't find any of the rudeness, pushiness, etc. I'd heard about. Everyone seemed like nice, normal people. But part of the fun we've always had on cruises out of FL was meeting people from all over the country. This cruise, 95 percent of the people we met were from one of those 2 states. This wasn't critical, but a little less fun, especially since after awhile we felt left out. Everyone else knew where everyone else was from "my sister lives near there, oh that's by...". Michigan - we might as well have been from the moon. People would ask "oh, is that by Indiana?", like it was some foreign land. Although it was kind of fun being different and people being like "Wow, you came ALL the way from Michigan?", even though Florida's twice as far and no one ever said that on all our other cruises. --The food. This I have to put in the medium category, mostly because of the selection. I have to say first that everything I ordered was good, if not excellent. The food quality I thought was great. But the choices were so limited, compared to other cruises I've been on. Honestly the first night I thought they'd given us the lunch menu by mistake, because the choices seemed more like a Princess lunch. On Jamaican night (which I'd heard about before we left), there really were NO choices any of us wanted to try. We went because the kids didn't want to miss seeing the staff, but all pretty much ordered off the "anytime" menu. 2 of my boys ordered the "grilled steak" off that menu nearly every meal, which I think used to be the ranch steak. A couple times it was a bit tough, but usually pretty good. They never complained and ate it all. Also the Caesar salad was a big fallback for us. I don't think I'm that picky of an eater, & really was looking forward to the cruise for my kids to have a chance to try something new, but many nights I couldn't blame them for not trying the limited choices that were there. Again, though, if you liked the choices, they seemed very well made, hot, etc. Also, despite what I'd read before, there was no real children's menu. It was kind of up to you to ask for what you wanted - ie they could do hamburgers and chicken tenders, but we were told to get grilled cheese, we had to place an order 24 hours in advance (never did this). My one son also enjoyed the mac & cheese, but it was more pasta with a slice of cheese melted over it (you could see the outlines) than real homemade or even Kraft's! --Embarkation. We got there around noon, which I'm guessing is a peak time. Very long lines just for your initial check-in. don't know if this is an RCCL norm, but I've never waited on Princess for more than a couple people ahead of me (also usually broken down by deck/cabin), not say the 40 or so ahead of us in the deck 7 line on RCCL. It probably took 30-45 minutes, which again isn't horrible, but certainly not what I've been used to. Once we got through that line, though, it was fine. The crew member at the counter was extremely friendly, got my boys maps of the ship to carry their cards in, (didn't talk to very many others who'd gotten these and they were convenient), the embarkation pic was quick, and taking the bus to the ship was much easier than we'd expected. Only funny thing was there was a line for the bus where they were handing out Bahamas forms, then sending you to the bus. One guy loudly proclaimed "WE don't have to wait in this line!", then promptly walked in front of everyone (about 20 people). Turned out he did, and his wife quietly came back and waited with the rest of us while he stood by the bus and fumed. Some people! --Towel animals. These are so cute and we'd heard so much about them, that it was kind of a disappointment to only get them 3 times during the 9 night cruise. I realize the stewards are busier than ever, but after the first night, my kids were so excited, they'd run back after to dinner to see what they'd gotten, only to usually find nothing. I don't think anyone else got them much more frequently than we did, don't know if it would be better if they did the last 3 nights or something so they weren't expecting it. --The Aft Balcony (7388). This one really had some goods and bads. Bottom line, I don't know if I'd book another Voyager class aft, although on Princess (Grand class), I wouldn't book if I couldn't get one. Honestly, that's how my mom & I booked our upcoming Dec. cruise with Princess. Picked the date, then searched for any ship that had the cabin we wanted available. So we're doing Mexican Riviera, even though we were originally thinking Caribbean! But, first the pros. Our balcony was beautiful, and HUGE! We brought our pocket hammock and easily set it up on the balcony and DH spent a lot of time sleeping/relaxing on it. The side view was great - you could see into the ports, land, etc. Since the balcony was covered nearly completely, it was usually shaded which was great because it was SO hot much of the time. And when it was pouring for 2 ½ days, you could also sit on about ½ of it without getting wet and just watch the storm - it was actually very impressive! There was no soot (probably because it was so covered) and I don't believe any more motion than anywhere else on the ship - even the last day when we had 12-16 foot waves, it didn't seem any worse there than midship. It was also nice being off the beaten path - you never saw anyone down by our cabins who didn't belong there - no one talking too loudly as they walked by, or running by the cabin. The cons. It really seemed like a long distance anywhere. I think because on Princess the rear elevators/stairs are so much closer to the back, it never seemed that far back to our cabin. On the Voyager, it just seemed exhausting to even think about running back. The closest elevators are really close to midship - it's a long walk. Those stairs shown on the deck layouts near the back are crew only so you really have to walk all the way to midship each time. We're in fairly good shape, and on the Grand NEVER took the elevator. This time we used it a lot because I was just exhausted from walking back and forth all the time! I definitely wouldn't recommend it for anyone with any trouble walking, whether little kids or older adults or any kind of physical limitations. Also, there was just too much engine noise for me. On the Grand, there was a steady droning which was almost soothing. On the Voyager, it was a loud "thump-a-thump-a" that sounded like we were above a very loud lounge. It was constant, and even wearing earplugs did nothing since you could feel it as much as hear it. It was difficult to even talk over when we were moving quickly. Finally, the framework. Although, others have said they got used to this, I certainly wouldn't book an aft on the Voyager if it wasn't a corner or at least deck 10. You just don't really see the ocean, just all the metal behind you. We at least could look over to the side, unlike those poor folks in the middle. You lose so much privacy with the crew deck below you, it's always too light with all the lights from it at nighttime, and you can't just look down at the ocean like on the Grand. --Rockwall/inline skating. These are really neat and fun, however, they were open such limited hours that it was almost pointless to have them. We made it to inline skating - didn't find anyone else on the ship who had because it was always closed, either due to schedule or weather. Even when it was open, you spend 15 minutes filling out waivers, putting on gear, etc. to do a little loop that gets old in about 5 minutes! The rock wall was neat, too, but again it was closed in ports, closed in the evenings, closed during lunch, closed if it was windy or rainy, and closed other times it said it was open and we don't know why. I'd recommend if you want to do this and you see if open, seize the opportunity because it may not happen again! --Breakfast/lunch in the dining room. These were great because of the opportunity to meet other people. However, the lunch menu doesn't change (other than a varying soup, dessert, and one sandwich daily) and it's really not that great where you'd want to order from it each day. We also found the service during both these meals to be lacking. They never brought water unless you asked, usually more than once. When they brought it, it never had ice in it, and the couple times we asked for ice, never got it. They made you order everything (including dessert) at once during lunch, then seemed to slap it down around you, no matter what course you were eating. I would add though that they had an excellent Cobb salad, though, as well as the pasta "cook to order" bar. Breakfast was extremely slow. This was fine since we usually weren't in a hurry, but if you were, I'd avoid the dining room. Again, the food was good, but due to the lack of service, I'd definitely choose the Windjammer where the service and selection were so much better THE BAD --People LATE for dinner. I'm talking LATE, not a few minutes. The other family at our table regularly came at 6:51 (dinner was at 6). The table behind us (unfortunately also our waiter's) came right around 7 daily. This wasn't late once, this was every day. If you looked around the dining room at 6:15, it was maybe a quarter full. I can't believe how rude this is, I can't believe RCCL allows it. Every other cruise line I've been on shut the doors after say 15 minutes. We were usually ordering dessert when the others at our table arrived. Sometimes we'd left before they got any food. What should we have done? This is so unfair to the waitstaff, not to mention others. RUDE, RUDE, RUDE. --Strollers in the hallway. It really bothered me that rather than folding up their strollers and putting them under the bed in their cabins, where they'd be inconvenienced, MANY people just left them out in the hallways where they could inconvenience hundreds of other people each day instead. This seems like such a safety hazard - in an emergency, the 3 of them on various sides just in our hallway would certainly have been in the way. Plus, I watched stewards trying to get room service carts, cleaning carts, etc. down the hall who couldn't because of the strollers in the way. Folks, put them in your rooms, and if you're leaving them in the hallway 95 percent of the time, why'd you bring them anyways? --Change in itinerary. I understand fully why we switched to an eastern. But once they knew we were heading right into Jeanne, why'd we stick with it? Even sailing around somewhere with sunshine would have beat sitting in ports with pouring rain. Especially when it poured all day in St. Martin, then that evening we left and followed the storm (you could see the lightning all the way right in front of us) right to St. Thomas, where (surprise, surprise) it rained all the next day. Couldn't understand why we didn't stay in St. Martin, or go the other direction as the storm. I know some people were happy I guess because they got off the ship in St. Thomas, bought their alcohol, and got back on, but since we're not big drinkers, this wasn't a big deal. Would have gladly taken a sunny day anywhere else! The most frustrating thing, though, was the lack of things to do on the ship. RCCL could have done something about this. Probably at any given time 95 percent of the pax were on board, yet there was nothing to do. Teen club had no activities, kids' activities were minimal. No bingo, trivia, ice skating. First day JR's and the dining room were closed for lunch, which of course packed the Windjammer. Casino and shops couldn't open. Nothing to do since everyone was supposed to be in port, but weren't. We did homework - woo hoo! --The cabin. We had a lot of problems with our cabin. Number 1 - ants everywhere. I'd say I killed about 50 a day, DH I'm sure killed the same number. We complained, and they sent someone with caulk, but there were still ants. All over the bathroom, all over the desk area. 2. Our bathroom flooded anytime we used the shower while we were at sea. We made sure the doors were closed, took shorter showers, but I'm talking 2 inches of water in the entire bathroom floor, using every towel to try to mop it up (we'd take turns showering/monitoring so one of us could be doing damage control). Steward said someone would fix it but they evidently didn't. Took to showering in the kids' room since theirs didn't overflow. 3. My mattress was ridiculous. No exaggeration, about 5 inches on the side and 2 in the middle. You could feel every spring, and if you laid on it, you settled on one spot (with the most springs). didn't sleep at all the first night, complained in the morning, didn't do anything, so the next night I slept on the bunk & put one of my kids on the bed who also whined, but they can sleep anywhere. Finally the next day demanded a solution. Steward didn't have any, so asked if they could move the bunk mattress down. He did. This mattress didn't fit in the curved frame, was about an inch lower than DH's side and we had a lot of leftover bed frame sticking out, but at least I could sleep on it. Closed up the bunk, and since my kids had gone to sleeping in the other room (in the extra bunk) by this time it worked out. If we hadn't had a bunk in the room I would have been out of luck. I can't believe they actually expected someone to sleep on that mattress. It was WAY past its prime - probably hadn't been changed since the ship sailed in 1999! I will point out that my kids' cabin across the hall had none of these problems though. They were in a cat Q, we were in an E1, guess you don't necessarily get more for your money! --People who don't think rules apply to their kids. Adventure Beach was full of kids who no way could have been toilet trained - I'm talking under 1's, wearing no diaper or swim diaper. Not one but many of them. We went there once and never went back because of this - they have signs, warnings "NO KIDS UNDER 3 IN POOLS", yet they allowed these kids on the waterslide with their parents so I know they saw the kids. Just gross! We also encountered this a little at the main pools, but usually only when Adventure Beach was closed. Same at shows. Signs, notes in Compass, announcements, "NO KIDS IN FRONT 3 ROWS". Every show, lots of kids in front 3 rows, WITH their parents. Why? You can see as well anywhere else. What makes them so special? --People smoking above our balcony who kept throwing lit cigar/cigarette butts onto our balcony. This had to have been from one of the 2 corner afts above us - there was nowhere else they could have logically come from. We complained to the purser - this is so incredibly unsafe especially since we had towels, t-shirts, etc. out there drying and a lit cigar would land near them. Not to mention if we happened to be outside at the time (fortunately this didn't happen). They said they'd warn them, but it happened about 3 times. I know I said earlier that I didn't have trouble with smoking, and I don't consider this trouble with the "smoking" part of it - not sure I ever noticed that - just the disposal method!! --Disembarkation. Total fiasco. Why bother to give out 15 different color tags, so theoretically those of us trying to make flights can make them, then call the first 10 colors at once? Never check colors so everyone can just leave if they feel like it. Allow anyone with a stroller or wheelchair to cut in front of anyone else, no matter how long they've been waiting, or if they're just pushing a wheelchair with all their stuff on it. don't offer anything to eat after 11:30, even though the first people weren't off until almost 3. --Newark Airport. I've never seen such total chaos, even after RCCL disembarkation! I will never fly there again. 3 separate security lines to go through, haul your own baggage around even after it's been "checked" (that's safe), luggage tossed everywhere where anyone could tamper with it if they wanted to, no information on flights, or interest in people making theirs, people cutting in lines, fighting, screaming at one another. Got there 2 hours early for our flight, and ended up running to the gate to get on. Boarded on time, pulled away from the gate, then sat for 1 ½ hours. I will not go to Newark again; I will not fly Continental again. Driving 12 hours back would have been much less frustrating! To top it off, they of course lost one piece of luggage which unfortunately had some of my kids' textbooks in it for school the next day. Did eventually get it back, but, did I mention, never again? --The game shows. It seemed like the only way to get on these shows was to be as crude and obscene as possible. I've seen many of them (love and marriage, battle of sexes) played on other cruises where they were funny, embarrassing, etc. These were just crude. The point seemed to be more obnoxious than the next person. I left during the first one. Okay - maybe I'm not the target audience. What really bothered me, though, was then they showed them over and over on the in room TV's. I really didn't want my kids watching that garbage. didn't realize they even were until I came in once and saw it on. They were laughing and giggling about the stupid things on it. Why would you say a show is recommended for adults only, then show it in the rooms for everyone constantly? --Immigration. I've never been on a cruise before where EVERYONE was required to go through immigration at ports. Is this a new 9/11 thing? This was the one place you saw lines. Just crazy if you had an excursion or something (not that any of them went or anything). When we did it at San Juan, why'd we have to do it later in St. Thomas? I'm sure this isn't something RCCL does to harass people - everyone must have to do it, I've just never encountered it before! --The entryway into the cabin/closet/bathroom doors. Can't imagine who designed this. Maybe if you only had one cabin and always came in and out together, you wouldn't notice this. But all 3 of those doors open into the exact same place. If someone walked in the cabin or out of the bathroom while you're looking for something in the closet - BAM! Closet door and head make contact. This happened to me, without exaggerating, at least once daily. Again, we were always running back and forth between cabins, but I still think the bathroom/closet door combo would be bad for anyone. Also, the light switch was OUTSIDE the bathroom, behind the door. That means every time you'd walk into the bathroom, realize you hadn't turned on the light, and couldn't just reach out and hit it. No, you'd have to completely go out of the bathroom, close the door or walk behind it, and then turn the switch on. And, as others have mentioned, there's no way to leave a nightlight on in the bathroom since there's only a razor plug in there. So if you left the light on in the bathroom and the door closed, it was still overly light, but livable. But if anyone used the bathroom then during the night, they and the entire room were blinded by the light! After awhile we just used the glow from the baby monitor we'd brought on the desk as a nightlight and stumbled to the bathroom in the dark if needed. --My kids. As I mentioned at the beginning, they were probably the biggest disappointment. Not that they were bad (they wouldn't have bothered you), but that all they wanted to do all day was play Gameboy, watch TV, fight with one another. Just like we were at home. They slept until 11 each day, unless I threw them out of bed, and then they were cranky and fought more. Nope, never bringing them on a cruise again. Well, maybe we're considering for Spring Break in high school each year one of us bringing one of them. But that's at least 5 years away so won't worry about it until then. IN SUMMARY We had a good time. I enjoyed Royal Caribbean, and would definitely choose it for families over say Princess or even Disney. We personally prefer the more subdued crowd and activities on Princess, and will stick with them in the future, especially since I don't plan on bringing the kids again. Would I go on RCCL again if it was a great deal, great itinerary, etc.? Yes, without a doubt. Will I be tempted to try the Ultra Voyager when it comes out? Certainly, although it will depend a lot on price. Many of the things we encountered in terms of negative were one time things that could happen (or not happen) in any specific cabin, cruise line, sailing date. Unfortunate that so many happened to us, but not RCCL's fault. As you saw, there were so many goods that happened as well. Hope everyone else sailing has all the goods and none of the bads! Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Overall we had an excellent time for our first cruise. Seas were a bit rough on day 1/2 so it was limited exploration until we gained our "sea legs". After that we had a blast. Service was good, ship was clean, plenty of ... Read More
Overall we had an excellent time for our first cruise. Seas were a bit rough on day 1/2 so it was limited exploration until we gained our "sea legs". After that we had a blast. Service was good, ship was clean, plenty of activities, food was good (Portofino's was excellent!). The shore excursions were a bit of a disappointment, when you weren't being attacked by the vendors you were being sung to or baited for everything under the sun, that is of course, to get your money. Dunns River Falls was fun right up to where you have to exit via the "gantlet" of vendors (exit via the entrance and tell the "guard" to kiss your butt). The stops at Grand Cayman & Freeport were way too short, we'll plan better next time. RCCL does do absolutely everything in their power to ensure you have no money left when you leave. They nickel and dime you for the entire cruise. Our account was actually higher then what we paid for the cruise itself (new cruisers beware). We did drive to Bayonne from Va. Parking was safe and there was no damage to our van. Our suggestions..............Skip the vendors at Labadee and enjoy the beach, Skip Ocho Rios entirely, Grand Cayman...go snorkeling, scuba, swimming....anything that's in the water, Freeport..shop at the dock (same stuff @ the same price) and visit the rest of the island. Conclusion.............YES we will do this again but will be better educated :) Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Our recent cruise on the Constellation was excellent. Boarding at Cape Liberty is very smooth and takes no time at all. We were one of the fortunate ones that only had to park in the vast parking lot which was very convenient and only ... Read More
Our recent cruise on the Constellation was excellent. Boarding at Cape Liberty is very smooth and takes no time at all. We were one of the fortunate ones that only had to park in the vast parking lot which was very convenient and only costs $12.00 a day. If you are looking for "glitz" this is not the ship for you. It is understated elegance. Entertainment: We have sailed with Celebrity before and we have only found their entertainment adequate. What a surprise this was as the entertainment was fantastic each and every night. Their production shows, guest stars and even a night of Cirque De Soleil were wonderful. We were very surprised to find "Nick Weir" as the Cruise Director. We have sailed with him on other lines and his Father before him. In our opinion he is by far the best Cruise Director at sea. Dining: This is where the Constellation really surpassed other ships. The dining room menus, service, preparation and presentation was very impressive. It was so good we decided to pass on their Specialty Restaurant rather than miss a dinner in their dining room. For breakfast and lunch we always ate at the pool deck buffets. In the morning they offer pastries, smoked salmon, eggs, meats, fresh fruit, made to order omelettes etc. In the back of the ship I found the lightest Belgian Waffles and pancakes made to order with blueberries, fresh strawberries, stewed cherries, melted butter and just plain heated maple syrup. The lunch buffet had a different theme each day. Fresh sandwiches were made in the back of the ship. The fresh pasta station was always a favorite with different sauces served each day, all day and night. The ice cream station served soft and assorted hard flavors, offering hot fudge and toppings daily. The Aqua Spa also had an all day "healthier" buffet with great coffee. My only complaint was the pizza. Not good. Very thick, soft crusts which never tasted cooked. A soda card for the 12 nights was $72. ( $60 + $12 tip) Which we found excessive compared to other ships. The Shops: Very, very over priced. One can find brand perfumes on the Internet for a fraction of the cost. The jewelry prices were ridiculous and the costume jewelry was not even nice. The usual inch of gold, watches and day sales. They just opened an all amber store, the first one ever at sea. The girl who runs it, Stephanie was a delight and very knowledgeable. The same crowds were at the shops daily looking for bargains which certainly did not appear. Any local Department store sale on land far exceeds anything on the ship in price and choice. I will not go into detail on the ports, which we enjoyed. We stopped in Charleston, S.C. and walked over to the boat to Fort Sumter and afterward toured the city ourselves. This cost us $12 per person rather than the $49 charged by the ship In conclusion, we would definitely take this ship and Cruise line again. Celebrity, while not as luxurious as Crystal or Silver Seas, has food prepared equally as well, and is far superior to Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, etc. Tipping: While they do have a guide for tipping, one can choose to have it charged to their account or handle it personally. When charged to your account you are given a slip to enclose in an envelope letting the crew member know that you remembered them and appreciated their service. Finally, all of the crew we encountered were very courteous and polite always going out of their wy to assist you. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Sailed from Cape Liberty on 10/29/05, on the same cruise as the review by loosygoosy. Apparently, our cabins were near each others', and we sat at adjoining tables (426 & 427!), and had the same Stateroom Attendants. Everything ... Read More
Sailed from Cape Liberty on 10/29/05, on the same cruise as the review by loosygoosy. Apparently, our cabins were near each others', and we sat at adjoining tables (426 & 427!), and had the same Stateroom Attendants. Everything loosy said was right "on the money"!! Ship is beautiful, albeit a bit UltraModern looking. Liked the ambiance of the Galaxy much better, and I am not even that old. On-board art collection was weird, and whomever selects the ship's art decor must have been high when they made their choices. Fitness Center was spacious and well-equipped. Salon was large and I was extremely happy all three times that I had my hair done. Never had to wait for an elevator, although we take the stairs as much as possible to avoid gaining too much weight from the delicious food and desserts. Fabulous food! Our expectation was high-quality, expertly prepared food, and we had no complaints! Consistently excellent. Fabulous attentive service! Our waiter was Karoy and his assistant was Antonio. Could not ask for better! Also dined at Ocean Liners, and the food was incredible and the experience should not be missed. Stateroom Attendants Tondy and Ronny also made us feel like we were the only passengers on the ship. Ship was immaculate everywhere and spacious. Never had to fight for a seat or a lounge chair. Also agree about Concierge Class, worth it!! Agree that Freeport, Grand Bahama was nothing special. If you do stop here, take the Dolphin Swim Excursion. It is the most worthwhile of all excursions because it is not offered at many other ports (others have Close Dolphin Encounter, where you only stand in water near them. This one you actually swim and interact! Well worth the $$$$).Also agree that the Cirque du Soleil performance was extraordinary. Entertainment variety was very good, although I would like an additional comedian on a cruise of this length. This was our 3rd Celebrity cruise, and the production shows are higher quality each time. Apparently they are really working to improve this area. Went on a backstage tour, and the state-of-the-art equipment was impressive. Cruise Director was first rate; not corny or hackneyed. Classical string quartet (four women from Poland) were excellent, and was a nice respite to sit and listen to them. The DJ, as was the same on the Celebrity Cruise we took last year (Horizon), could not properly read the crowd and played tunes that did not attract many to the disco. I keep telling them they need to address this situation, as I am sure that they make plenty of money when they keep the disco full of dancers who drink! The ship's Pool Band was blah and sounded sanitized, just like on the Horizon last year. They were good musicians, but seemed to have been told to keep it very Vanilla. If you closed your eyes, you would never know they were a Caribbean Reggae-inspired band. Constellation needs to get a better party band. Sailed on the Galaxy previously, and they had a really smokin' band and an excellent DJ that created a hot party atmosphere without it being a rowdy Carnival Cruise experience. In summation, this cruise (and all of our experiences with Celebrity) were top-notch. They create an elegant, up-scale experience that truly makes you feel like a Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
I would like to present a review on Celebrity's Constellation. We embarked at Cape Liberty, New Jersey. it was a very smooth and organized embarking. It took approximately 15 minutes to board this beautiful ship. Since I have been ... Read More
I would like to present a review on Celebrity's Constellation. We embarked at Cape Liberty, New Jersey. it was a very smooth and organized embarking. It took approximately 15 minutes to board this beautiful ship. Since I have been on 70 cruises, I feel I can compare this ship to other ships out there. The Constellation is a very beautiful, great service, great entertainment constantly. My room was on the 9th floor, decorated with flowers even in the bathroom. My room service was very attentive offering us superb service. I was greeted with 2 champagne glasses and a bottle of champagne on ice with a plate of goodies for us to pick on. The goodies were sent to us every day at 500pm. The room was spacious with plenty of room for your luggage to be stored. I found the amenities were very appealing especially the shampoo conditioners, body cream and bathrobes. We were given a beautiful large bag to hold all of our purchases. The dinner table and guests were delightful. It was a window table, and the service was top of the line every night. We had my husband's birthday aboard which enhanced our cruise. The entertainment by the pool was fabulous, every afternoon we had entertainment by the pool. The lounges were very comfortable and a good place to go before dinner for a drink with dance music geared to an older crowd. Karaoke was held in the lounge which we enjoyed immensely. The food at the buffet was fantastic with a great choice. I already booked another cruise on this fabulous ship at the same time in October. I'm looking forward to going asea again as she travels the Western Caribbean this time. I did another cruise out of NY in February which was on a brand new ship and found it so disappointing compared to the Constellation. So if you live in the New York area be sure to try The Constellation you wont be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Just returned from this lovely ship and wonderful itinerary. The Connie is a beauty and her Captain certainly knows how to show her off. The ship is exquisite, exceptionally clean, and the crew is friendly and helpful. The Cape Liberty ... Read More
Just returned from this lovely ship and wonderful itinerary. The Connie is a beauty and her Captain certainly knows how to show her off. The ship is exquisite, exceptionally clean, and the crew is friendly and helpful. The Cape Liberty port is fairly new and requires some TLC but I understand that there are plans in the making to construct an entire complex. Right now, it is meager but comfortable. For now, the space could use some Vending machines (especially for coffee). My suggestion would be to not arrive too early in the day to avoid waiting in the sometimes "cold" holding area. Also, please note that those with Suites or CC accommodation have a special area for waiting which is a bit more comfortable and does provide free coffee. Unfortunately, we did not notice that the sign indicating this "special area" included CC at the time. Check in is an art form with Celebrity and we have never (3rd time cruisers with this line) had to wait very long for check in to be complete. The food, service (thank you MILOS and ANTOINE at Table #426) and entertainment are top notch. Our stateroom attendant, TONDY (& Ronny), treated us better than royalty, he treated us like family! This was our first CC experience and we are now converted. It is amazing...from now on its CC or better. All in all, I would honestly have to say that we have no complaints. If I was forced to put on paper something that I would like to see change (at least on this itinerary), it would be to skip Grand Bahama Island (Freeport) altogether. Too much hurricane damage. It would be nicer to spend more time in Nassau. This was also the first cruise to switch to the Cirque de Soleil performance, rather than the CdeS experience. The performers had only a short time together to format and rehearse the show and they were absolutely marvelous. One can only hope that CdeS will continue to be present on Celebrity and that the shows will be expanded. Celebrity really and truly stands by their motto...a true departure. Captain Papanicholou (sorry for the spelling, Sir) truly believes and insists upon the "customer first" principle. He is a hands on Captain and was often present and involved in the ship's activities and addressed the cruisers on several occasions. A minor incident involving the staff of Ocean Liners disrupted service for a short time one evening and a few passengers who had reservations were required to change their reservation date and time. This was done politely and, low and behold, everyone who had to change their reservation to another night was provided the pleasure of dining in this magnificent restaurant free of charge!!! Ocean Liners Restaurant is well worth the $30.00 per person service fee. We enjoyed it so much we ate their twice. You must try the Goat Cheese Souffle!! The entertainment is of a high caliber and the Cruise Director on the Connie is a marvel. I've never seen anyone with so much energy. He really enjoys what he does. Congratulations. We love the staff, we love the Constellation and we love cruising...thanks to Celebrity. WE'LL BE BACK!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We recently returned from our first Celebrity Cruise. We are cruise lovers and firmly believe that a bad day at sea beats a day at work any day. We've sailed on almost all of the mass market lines including, Carnival, NCL, Princess ... Read More
We recently returned from our first Celebrity Cruise. We are cruise lovers and firmly believe that a bad day at sea beats a day at work any day. We've sailed on almost all of the mass market lines including, Carnival, NCL, Princess & RCCL. This review will be written from the perspective of a comparison between Celebrity and the other cruise lines, especially Royal Caribbean which has been my favorite line to this point. Prior to boarding I corresponded with many of my co-passengers for many months on Cruise Critic, many of which were fans of Celebrity. I was told that I would "love" Celebrity and that "they just do it better", etc. I went on this trip with an open mind prepared to enjoy the "premium" service and experience Celebrity markets. Since we live only about 10 minutes from the port in Bayonne, there was no need for pre-cruise arrangements. Because this was a repositioning sailing we would be flying back into Newark so we parked our car at the airport and arranged for a ride for the short trip to the pier at Cape Liberty. I did another repo cruise from Bayonne at almost the same time last year on the Voyager of the Seas. That departure was in cold and windy conditions, but still a lot of fun. Just about a week or so before boarding the Connie I realized that because Daylight Savings Time had ended that we would be leaving port in the dark at 6:00 pm. I figured that this would add to the excitement of sailaway, being on deck, going under the lit up Verazzano bridge. I was looking forward to it. Embarkation-We arrived at Cape Liberty around 12:15 or so and gave our ample luggage to a waiting porter. This was a 9-day voyage which included 3 formal and 2 informal nights, so we had more luggage than in the past. We tipped him appropriately and made our way inside the terminal. Since boarding had already started, there were no lines and we walked right up to an agent with our previously printed Xpress Pass and were checked in within 5 minutes. Took our boarding photo and walked right onto a waiting bus to shuttle us to the ship. We were onboard and enjoying the welcome champagne and orange juice by 12:30. Grade-A+ Cabin/Ship-Our cabin was ready when we arrived so we went there right away to check it out. About a month or so before we sailed there was a rock bottom sale on this sailing. The prices were originally great anyway, with us paying less than $700 for 9 days. We originally booked an inside guarantee. During the sale, inside guarantees could be had for $450 per person! I'm not kidding. Instead of requesting a refund, we took advantage of the low pricing to upgrade to a balcony cabin for only $80 more per person. What a deal. We were assigned cabin# 6048. One of my CC buddies advised me that that was the "special" cabin he had specifically booked, but gave up in favor of a guarantee to get the price reduction. I was anxious to see what was so "special" about this cabin. From the deck plans it appeared as if this cabin had a slightly larger balcony than the standard balcony cabins. It was a bit larger, however there was a downfall to this location. This specific cabin on all decks had a kind of slanted, triangle shaped balcony. This make them slightly larger, but they were angled so that every time you step up to the railing of your balcony you're looking out at all of the balconies down the side of the ship. And more importantly, they're looking at you! It meant for a little less privacy because I didn't feel free to walk up to my balcony in nightgowns or even less J, but the slightly larger space did allow for us to put a padded lounge chair out there which I enjoyed many times during this voyage. I liked the mirrored walls in the cabin as well as the small couch. The overall dEcor was very inviting. There was a mini fridge and enough storage space for us to put away all of our things. I liked the extra drawer space in the closet. The bathroom/shower is definitely on the small side, but aren't they all? I believe this was the smallest bathroom I've ever had. The best bathroom would be on the Norwegian Dawn, with the sectioned layout. Overall, a comfortable attractive room. The rest of the ship was equally as attractive. I liked the elegance of the ship. The public spaces were very comfortable and nicely decorated. The layout of the ship was good, and easy to get around. One disappointment, though, was the Thelassotherapy pool. After hearing so much hype about this venue, I thought it was going to be a tranquil, solarium type atmosphere. I walked by this pool several times before I realized that it was THE T-pool. I was envisioning a more secluded, out of the way area in the spa for this pool. It was basically just the indoor pool as on the Solarium on RCCL ships. However there wasn't as much tranquility in this area as in RCCL. I found it to very noisy in this area, not conducive to quite conversation or reading. I definitely prefer the Solarium on RCCL ships which are decorated with a tropical theme. Just more relaxing and pleasing to the eye. Grade-A- Food-After checking out our cabin we headed to the buffet area for the welcome aboard lunch. This was the best buffet lunch I've had on a ship. There were excellent choices including carved meat, rice, salads, fresh pasta. I was disappointed in the choices of salad dressings, however, which was limited. Only 3 choices, and not the usual offerings like Ranch, French. They had tomato basil or something like that. Throughout the week, I commented that the buffet here definitely beat that on RCCL. My last trip on the Voyager last year had a dreadful buffet, where it was difficult to get a hot meal. I also ordered room service for the first time ever on this trip. I enjoyed a full service breakfast one day before going ashore. I even took the advice of some other reviewers and wrote in some items that were not on the room service menu. I also made sure to write in all of the condiments we wanted since I'd read previously that if you don't do that, you won't get them. The room service menu offered a plain omelet, so I wrote in the things I wanted included, such as cheese, onions, etc. It came just as ordered. The entire order was perfect. The freshly cooked pancakes and waffles were very good at the breakfast buffet. During the week we only went to the formal dining room for dinner. I don't pay for the extra charge venues. We went to the DR for breakfast twice as well, including the day of debarkation. The food was always very good, with one exception. The lobster I received on formal night was terrible. The worst I've had on any trip. I spoke to others who said theirs was good, but I didn't enjoy mine at all. I enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate with pastries at the Cova Cafe. Overall the food was very good, but not extremely better than that on RCCL. Grade-B+ Entertainment-While I enjoyed what was offered on the ship, I found Celebrity to be very lacking in this area. There just seemed like there wasn't much to do. Daytime activities were very few. I mentioned to several of my fellow cruisers that I was very disappointed in the daily activities or lack of them on this ship. While on other ships, I'm always afraid to nap during the day for the fear that I'd miss out on some fun activity. Not on this ship. I took many naps and slept later than normal, comfortable knowing that there wasn't much going on to miss. Good thing was I caught up on some much needed sleep. I liked the fact that there were few onboard announcements and the usual belly flop and hairy leg contests were not missed, but I do like the other type of game shows that are offered on other ships. I always make a point to go see the ship's version of the Not so Newlywed Game, it being one of my favorite activities. They had no such game on this ship. Nothing like RC's "Quest" or anything of that sort. There was one, I repeat, ONE stand up comedy act during the entire 9-day voyage. One show only. I was extremely disappointed with this. I enjoy comedians on the ships and couldn't believe that only one show was offered. I also enjoy Karaoke and only 2 sessions were offered during these 9 days. Some Celebrity fans have told me that these are the things they like about Celebrity. I guess that would mean I'm still a RCCL fan because I missed these things. The cover band on the ship, Onyx was excellent, with the drummer/singer Johnny something. I forgot his last name. I really should have kept my daily sheets. He was an excellent vocalist. He was featured during the welcome aboard show. I thought this meant that he would have a full show later in the week and I looked forward to it. Didn't happen. He sang in the Rendezvous Lounge with the band, but did not have his own show in the theater. I only attended 2 of the production shows, as I'm of the mind, you've seen one you've pretty much seen them all. I enjoyed "Fantaseas" immensely with it being up there as one of the best shows I've seen at sea. That top honor goes to NCL's Dawn and their presentation of "Bollywood". The lead singers and dancers of the Connie were all very good. Grade-C Ports/Excursions-The itinerary on this ship left something to be desired. One of the original ports we were scheduled to visit was Charleston, SC. Many of us were excited about this port and were looking forward to exploring it's many historic sites. However, it was replaced with Freeport, Grand Bahama. No one was excited about this port at all, especially since we were already scheduled to visit Nassau. 2 port in the Bahamas is really not that exciting. Also since I've been to Grand Bahamas twice before for land vacations, I was even less thrilled. Therefore I used this day as a "ship" day. I envisioned myself having the empty ship to myself. Unfortunately, many of the other passengers had the same idea. There were lots of folks onboard this day. The rest of the itinerary was the standard Eastern Caribbean visiting St. Maarten, St. Thomas and ending in San Juan. We took one ship sponsored excursion which was in St. Maarten. We did the 4 X 4 Jeep Safari excursion and we had a blast. Even my DH who isn't easily excited had a great time. We met a nice couple who we shared a jeep with and had a great time. We drove through town on both sides of the island and stopped at Orient Beach for a few hours before ending the tour with some off road driving. While at Orient Beach we had a delicious lunch and enjoyed the beautiful beach area. It was a great day. In St. Thomas we just did a little shopping and visited a nearby phone/internet center to call home and check email. We had beautiful weather all week, but we did have 2 very rough days at sea. One of which prevented my husband from attending the formal dinner in the dining room. I went alone, and since we had a table for 2, I was dining alone. Some of the nearby diners took pity on me and asked me if I wanted to join their tables. Lol. I must have looked like a lonely, pathetic lady. It was very nice of them to ask. Those 2 days onboard were a bit uncomfortable, difficult to walk with many folks feeling seasick, but other than that we had warm sunny skies. Service-Service was excellent throughout the ship. Here, Celebrity lived up to my expectations. We had a wonderful room steward, Agnelo, and wonderful dining room wait staff. Our waiter was Dzoni from Croatia and his assistant, "Mr. T" from Thailand. Mr T didn't resemble the famous character from the 80's, instead a petite man who liked to crack jokes. They honored all of our requests, even for Crème Brulee on the nights it wasn't on the menu. We met some very friendly bar servers, some of the nicest from Jamaica. The casino dealers were also very nice and they liked to joke around with the players. There was even a nice pit boss, a tall lady with red hair, that was on point. I gave her my room card to get cash at a table, and she greeted me by name after that. Nothing to complain about here. Grade-A Debarkation-We debarked in San Juan, which would be my first time doing so in San Juan. We were scheduled to meet at 8:45 am in a specified meeting place based on the color of our debarkation tags. We arrived about 5 minutes late and I asked the lady by the door if our color had been called yet. She told me to just walk out the door. We walked right off the ship into the terminal where a waiting porter helped us locate our luggage and secure a taxi to the airport. No problem at all. Grade-A Celebrity hosted, not one, but 2 Cruise Critic parties on this sailing. While this was a nice gesture, I don't even know what the purpose was at the first meeting. When I went to the meet and mingle on the Voyager, the cruise director staff actually hosted the meeting and got the participants actively involved with mingling with each other. They had a trivia contest and gave out some nice prizes. For our first meeting all they did was basically announce that it was a cruise critic meeting and then left us to our own devices. We had an informal meeting of our own the day before at Michael's club, which was much more fun than this. The 2nd meeting was a bit more exciting because the captain of the ship attended and held a sort of question and answer session. He graciously answered our questions regarding the ship, future ships, itineraries, etc and that was appreciated. One other thing I should note really didn't affect me, but is worth mentioning. We had a serious medical emergency on this sailing. I'm told that while enjoying an evening of dancing in the Rendezvous Lounge that one gentleman passenger simply passed out on the dance floor, apparently from a heart attack. They evacuated the lounge and proceeded with emergency life-saving procedures on the man. They even had to use a defibrillator on him to restart his heart. Some of the passengers there at the time said it looked very serious. We heard the next day that the man had been medi-vaced off of the ship during the night. I had the opportunity to speak to the wife of the patient several days later while waiting in line at the buffet. She praised the response of the medical staff very highly. She said they responded very promptly and were very professional and treated her very well during this difficult time. She wasn't able to go with her husband in the helicopter because of limited space and was unable to get a flight to Florida that didn't involve flying all the way back to Newark, NJ then back down to FL. Since her adult son had flown to oversee his father's care until his mother could get there, she stayed on the ship. However, she was just sick and miserable about the situation. She said the staff took care of her and were very concerned about her. They even allowed her to use the ship's phone free of charge every day to call her husband. She did say that he was having surgery and was doing well, thank God. While we don't normally think about these things, it's good to know that we will be in good hands if an emergency does arise. When we first boarded and were eating lunch in the buffet, all we saw boarding were much older passengers. We were wondering if we were going to be in the minority of passengers under the age of 50. Throughout the week we did find some more younger passengers, but the definite majority was definitely over the age of 60, maybe even 70. While I don't care for the party like atmosphere offered on some ships, I do enjoy fun activities while onboard the ship. For that reason I feel RCCL is still the best fit for our family offering a more laid back atmosphere with a nice passenger mix and fun activities. Not to mention beautiful ships. I mentioned in the beginning of this review that I envisioned a high-energy, fun sailaway while on deck. Wouldn't happen. I bundled up and went out on deck, but there were very few others out there with me. No music, not the typical sailaway. I don't know if this because of the time, 6:00, and many folks were at dinner, or if this is the usual for Celebrity. They were also having a sail away party in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth, which is a great lounge which also doubles as the disco. When I didn't see many folks up on deck I figured there would be a lot of people who didn't want to brave the cold at the party. Wrong again. The place was pretty much empty. I don't know where everyone was but I was a bit let down with this less than festive sail away. Overall this was a very enjoyable cruise, one that I wouldn't mind repeating if I was in the mood for a quiet, relaxing vacation and wanted to catch up on some sleep. Overall grade-B I hope this review has been helpful to some of you and feel free to contact me with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This cruise on the Constellation was our first cruise and it will not be our last. We read member reviews on Cruise Critic to assist us in making a decision as to which line and which ship. We were not disappointed. We booked this cruise ... Read More
This cruise on the Constellation was our first cruise and it will not be our last. We read member reviews on Cruise Critic to assist us in making a decision as to which line and which ship. We were not disappointed. We booked this cruise through a travel agent 7 months prior to sailing. We found a good price for Concierge Class (CC) and decided to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in style. We had read on the boards that several people had trouble checking in at the Bayonne port - if they were CC. We took the advice of the experienced cruisers and asked for the Concierge Class check in when we arrived at the port. The entire check in from arrival at the port to the arrival in our stateroom was approximately 15-20 minutes! We dropped our carry-on luggage in our stateroom and found the buffet where we had lunch. When we returned to our stateroom, our luggage was waiting for us. We also met Thomas, our attendant. Thomas was always smiling and ready to assist us with anything we needed. We unpacked and explored the ship. We were impressed by the beauty and detail of the public rooms. Our ship was full, but at no time, did we feel like we were on a large ship with 2000 people. The main dining room is on two floors and is laid out to give the feel of smaller dining venues. The buffet did get crowded, but there were several lines to get on and they moved fairly quickly. We had signed up for the second dinner seating and requested a table for 6 people. The other two couples at our table were very nice, friendly people and we enjoyed our dinners with them. We have become friends with one of the other couples and spent time with them on shore and at the casino. Our waiter was a little slow the first two nights. We were among the last to leave the dining room the first night and had to skip dessert the second night in order to attend the show. My husband complained to the Maitre D' and one of the other couples also complained. The next night, one of his tables was moved to another waiter's station and the service was not as slow. The other problem we had at the main dining room were the little kids at the two tables next to us. One table had 3 children ranging in age from 3-7ish. Those children were fairly well behaved and quiet. However, the other table had a young child who spent most evenings crying rather loudly. By the end of the cruise, my husband and I decided that children (especially the young ones) should not be allowed at the late seating. One night, we had dinner at Ocean Liners, the specialty restaurant. The dinner was fabulous and the service quite elegant. The evening was definitely worth the $30/person surcharge. There were other dining alternatives available at no additional charge plus one casual dining alternative that had a $2/person charge. We had dinner one night in that venue and it was very relaxing and enjoyable. The food at the grill by the pool tended to be cold and not very tasty; the buffet food was very good; the pizza was excellent; the pasta was undercooked. Overall, the food was very good to excellent. We only took advantage of one shore excursion. At our first port, Freeport, we took the Tranquility Shores Beach & BBQ lunch excursion. The beach, although clean and pretty, had a lot of rocks and shells in the water, plus the water was cold. However, the lunch was good and we did manage to get a little sunburned. Our second port was Nassau. The Visitor's Center is near the pier, so we went in there to get a map of historic Nassau. There was a walking tour available for $10/person, so we took the tour. Our tour guide was a lovely woman who was very knowledgeable. We learned quite a bit about the history of the Bahamas in general and Nassau in particular. Our third port was St. Maarten. We took a cab with two other couples from the ship and went to Orient Beach. Beautiful beach, clean, clear water. We were warned that the beach was "clothing optional" - we chose clothing, but did observe people in various stages of dress (or undress). After the beach, we went shopping in town and returned to the ship with plenty of time to have some lunch and sit in the hot tub. Our fourth port was St. Thomas. Shared a cab with the same people as the day before and went to Megan's Bay. Gorgeous - the water was calm and warm like bath water. Again, after the beach, we went shopping and returned to the ship, had a late lunch and spent time in the hot tub. We did not go to all of the shows; however, we did go to the premiere of the new "Taste of Cirque" show. This is a 30 minute Cirque du Soleil which replaces the old Cirque entertainment on the Constellation. We had seen several Cirque shows prior to the cruise. This 30 minute presentation was a wonderful sampling of the type of show Cirque does. There was the masked party after the show in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth. A mask was needed as admission to the party, but once in the Bar, most people removed their masks. In addition, there were two entertainers worth noting. One was a pianist (Naki Ataman) who played songs from around the world and was accompanied by two other musicians. What was interesting was that he just played - one song into the next non-stop and played like that for an hour! He is quite talented and we enjoyed his show. The other notable entertainer was the comedian/magician. He got several members of the audience involved in his tricks and comedy. Very, very funny man (I don't remember his name). The production shows were good; the singers and dancers talented. My husband and I were disappointed with the Singer Impressionist. He started with a bad Neil Diamond (he sang Neil Diamond as a tenor not a baritone) and continued with an almost credible Bobby Darin. However, he lost "Bobby Darin" after a verse or two and Bobby and Neil sounded identical. That's when we left the theatre. We enjoyed our time in the casino, even though we didn't win. The dealers were friendly, helpful, fun and losing was still enjoyable. The casino ran a few special activities such as James Bond Night where a Blackjack of diamonds won you a free martini "shaken not stirred". These activities were fun. We did have the opportunity (unfortunately) to check out the medical staff when my husband didn't feel well. The doctor examined my husband, ran a couple of tests, and gave him some medication. There also was an incident with one gentleman who had a heart attack and had to be helicoptered off the ship. The ship's crew responded quickly and admirably to the emergency. We did hear a report the next day that he was stable. There were two Cruise Critic connection gatherings on the cruise. The first one occurred on the first morning of the cruise. Coffee, juice, and pastry was served and one of the Activities Directors spoke for a few minutes. Although we had time to meet and mingle, there was little purpose or organization to the gathering. The second gathering was later in the week. That time, in addition to the refreshments, the Captain was present for a Q&A. He answered every question. His love of the ship, the lifestyle, and his respect for his crew were quite apparent. All in all, the cruise was wonderful and my husband and I no doubt will cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
My Family: Me dad (turning 41 on cruise) Wife, Son (7), Daughter (2), Previous Cruises (9).  For a family of four on a 9 day cruise we got a great deal, we booked the cruise for the week in November that NJ schools are closed so that our ... Read More
My Family: Me dad (turning 41 on cruise) Wife, Son (7), Daughter (2), Previous Cruises (9).  For a family of four on a 9 day cruise we got a great deal, we booked the cruise for the week in November that NJ schools are closed so that our son would not need to miss school. EMBARKATION: Cape Liberty, NJ (embarkation a nightmare). We planned on taking our son out of school early on embarkation day Friday November 4th, but due to the ship being delayed in Bermuda we didn't need to. Here is a plus to using a local travel agent. I received a call on the day before the cruise that the ship was late leaving Bermuda due to high winds and that we should plan on getting to the port around 6:00PM. We picked our son up from school and headed to my Father's house so he could take us to the port. We arrived in no time at the port at 5:15 PM, considering rush hour I was surprised and actually got there earlier then expected. At the port previous passengers were still leaving and this made for major traffic and confusion getting to the drop off which took another hour. Once we were dropped off and the longshoreman took our luggage we go on what appeared to be a short line to enter the terminal, it was now 6:15 PM. However, it turned out the terminal was full of passengers that had already arrived and we were to wait in this line until 9:00 PM until they emptied the terminal and let us in (at 8:00P PM they brought out some chairs to sit in). Thankfully my daughters' diaper bag contained some fruit snacks, juice and pretzel sticks so my children were able to eat something as there was nothing offered or nowhere to go to get even a cup of water. We were better off then the family behind us who had booked their cruise online directly through RCCL and were not informed of the ship being late, so they had been hanging out since 2:30 PM that day. Once we were allowed in to the terminal we checked in and were given a number 68, which when called would allow us to board a bus to the ship from the terminal (they were calling numbers in the high 30's at the time). Well you could see that at one time there was food and water available to the waiting passengers in the terminal but none was left now. Through this whole time my children 7 & 2 were taking it wonderfully. After an hour of sitting on the floor my daughter wanted her blanket from our carry on. As I was getting it out an RCCL employee was walking by and she overheard me telling my daughter and my son that I was proud at they way there behaving and that it shouldn't be too much longer. The woman asked to see my number (they were currently calling numbers n the mid 40's), at which time she commented that we couldn't wait any longer and that we should follow her. We followed her through the terminal to the busses, she got our boarding cards, we thanked her and we were on the bus and off to the ship. We arrived on the ship, dropped of our bags and were sitting in the restaurant eating dinner by 10:30 PM. The last passengers were on the ship by a little after midnight. CABIN: Our cabin was an outside view and was definitely showing its age. The chair and the carpet were stained and filthy and could really use a cleaning. Two nights of the cruise the toilet stopped flushing but by the morning was working again. The cabin had two upper berths that were actually more comfortable then the regular beds. The closet and drawer space was sufficient even for a family of 4 on a 9 night cruise, and overall the cabin itself had enough room for all of us. Our cabin steward did a great job and I can't think of anything lacking at all in this regard. The location on deck 2 actually worked out well as we could take leave our room and take the gangway up one deck directly to enter the dining room or down one deck to leave the ship at port. SHIP: Though our cabin was showing its age the rest of the ship is fine. This was our first Voyager class ship and we loved the Royal Promenade. DINING ROOM: We always sit at a large table and are usually very happy with our tablemates. This cruise was no exception we were paired with two other families and everyone got along wonderfully. The food was the usual affair I have no complaints nor did the rest of my family. The service was the normal pampering you would expect and again I can find no faults in this area. A few breakfasts and lunched were also enjoyed in the dining room and even though it was open seating the service was excellent. One point I noticed was that my 2 year old daughter would get an incredible amount of attention in the dining room from not only our servers but from others as well. One waiter actually fork fed her the entire breakfast. It turned out that usually they would have a daughter at home around the same age and it made them happy to see my daughter and they felt like they were with their own daughter. WINDJAMMER: I am not a buffet fan but again the usual quality and service that I have come to expect from cruise ship buffets. SHOWS: The Ice Show was a cool change and the fact that you get to pick out tickets to a particular show was a great idea and alleviated any fears of not being able to see the show. Even though we don't normally see many shows on a cruise we did see all but one on this cruise. The best show was a juggling show and the one I enjoyed the least was a magic show. Overall I was entertained which is the main idea anyway. PORTS OF CALL: Our ports were as follows: Labadee - Loved it my whole family would love a cruise that just stopped here. Jamaica - It was pouring out and we never even got off of the ship. Though in all fairness I dislike Jamaica and really did not want to get off the ship. Grand Cayman - We enjoyed the Turtle Farm and overall this port in general. Bahamas - Again not much of a fan and we did not do anything here. CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES: My son (7) enjoyed the Explorers Club and had fun with most of the activities. What he did not like was more of a reflection on him then the program. He does not like costumes therefore did not participate in the Circus and I was surprised he even put a bandana on his head to be a pirate. There were some nights were the children could eat at Johnny Rockets and he participated in this for only one night. I could see this being a nice break for the parents and a good time to be a romantic dinner. DEBARKATION: We were off of the ship earlier than I expected. The only suggestion for RCCL would be that they tell passengers that in order to get a porter they need to go to a specific area and wait on line. OVERALL: I booked this cruise for the price, dates, length and ship. Overall I was happy with the product. Even though the embarkation was nightmare we did not let it ruin our vacation. Once on board we did not dwell on the embarkation problems but I still heard people complaining on the last day of the cruise. I am reluctant to cruise again out of Cape Liberty but I am cruising on RCCL again in August of 2006. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:Hi :),This was our FIRST cruise and my wife & I took it to celebrate our 40th anniversary which is coming up this June. We are Canadians and hail from just outside Ottawa,Ontario,Canada, I do not have all the ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:Hi :),This was our FIRST cruise and my wife & I took it to celebrate our 40th anniversary which is coming up this June. We are Canadians and hail from just outside Ottawa,Ontario,Canada, I do not have all the computer skills to make a report but please bare with me. This would be interesting to the new cruisers out there probably more than the seasoned veterans. We left Port Hope, New Jersey on the 26th of March for the Caribbean to see:Charleston,South Carolina(beautiful) CocoCay, Bahamas (island owned by Celebrity Cruise Lines..another beauty) Freeport, Bahamas (bought my booze here :)) Phillipsburg,St. Maarten (took our "bubba excursion" here....local fishing trip not too far off the island..excellent) and also bought a JVC camcorder here at Boolchand's) Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas (beautiful beaches but should get rid of some of that garbage in local back yards which you see on the way to the beautiful beaches!). San Juan,Puerto Rico (clean,clean,clean..I would go back here tomorrow if I could. Here is a proud city and you sure can tell. Beautiful++) We arrived back in Port Hope, New Jersey on April 07 after 12 nights of cruising. We made transfer arrangements with Celebrity (all went well)and our cruise arrangements with our TA who was excellent did a lot of research on the internet before choosing Celebrity and can honestly say that we were very, very satisfied. Hours upon hours were dedicated to this and I must of read everything on Cruise Critic and all the other cruise web sites. STATEROOM: Vista deck(#7)cabin 7172 with balcony. Whatever you do take a balcony! Fresh air, breakfast first thing in the morning provided by room service(included in your cost). Take it out on your balcony and enjoy. Martini before dinner.. take it out on your balcony ..enjoy! We are spoiled now and don't think we would be happy with anything less:(.Lots of storage space and very comfortable bed (queen size for us). If you want to get rid of your luggage your cabin stewart will take it & bring it back ot the end of the journey). DINING: We had early sitting..6pm. We sat with two other couples each evening and we all got along well (both my wife are positive people and so were our table mates). It took a little while to get to know each other but everything worked out fine and we shared some fun time :).The maitre d' will try to place you at another table if you so desire after the first dinner. If there is something you prefer to eat ask your waiter & the next evening you will see it at your table. Excellent service. We tried alternate dining (Ocean Liners) and the presentation was excellent but I personally found nothing special about the food. (Lobster tail was my favourite which I had in the main dining room.) ACTIVITIES: Endless things to do on board. You receive a "daily schedule list"on your bed each evening along with a couple of chocolates:)There is a social director and an activities group which will make you feel really at home. We went to bingo a few times and I entered a couple of slot tournaments (what happened? what do you mean I've been eliminated on the first round??aren't there another couple rounds??:() Fun anyway. Your personal TV lists what is going on every day so you just have to tune in. They also show you the next port your coming into and what excursions are available. SERVICE:What can I say? E_______T!Yes excellent. One could not ask for better service than what we received. Not just from people that are suppose to look after us but from ALL personnel.. smiling and always saying "good morning, how are you? May I help you?" I believe a lot of the credit should go to Captain Papanikolaou who runs a tight ship:) (thank you for the viewing of the bridge Captain and our picture together.) thank you very much to Raymundo (our cabin steward) and our waiter. ENTERTAINMENT:The Celebrity orchestra, dancers and singers were extremely good+++ Other performances were by a ventriloquist, comedian, electrical violinists, cirque du soleil....I would of NOT been disappointed if I did not see the comedian (not as funny as he thought he was) and the violinists (amateurish):(I'M HO. The others were excellent. SHORE EXCURSIONS: The only one we took was the "bubba fishing expedition" in St. Maarten arranged through Celebrity Cruise Lines. Excellent captain and two helpful ship mates. Caught some beautiful local fish. We hired taxis in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico to give us a tour of their islands. Juan DeLeon 1023@hotmail.com in St. Thomas was very interesting & informative and United Tour Guides "Jose R.Capeles"cell # 528-8140 in Puerto Rico was absolutely excellent. We did this on our own and found out it was 50% cheaper to do it this way!! Repeat ..50% cheaper! This would be a high recommendation by us to do it ...just make sure you have plenty of time to get back to the ship :). DISEMBARKATION: Considering Celebrity had 2000 passengers to get off the ship, things went remarkably well. We were on our bus ready to be transferred to Newark Airport about 20 minutes after the disembarkation call was made. SUMMARY: We would like to give a big THANK YOU to Cruise Critic for inviting us to meet people on line before the beginning of our cruise. We had a lot of fun and it was nice to put a face to a name. We would also like to say it was so nice to meet soooo many new people (the two "ladies in red" from England, the two couples from Ireland which we met at bingo, Liz & Herb, Karen & Ralph, Carole & Al, Pat & Rod, Dee,and so on :)) Would we do it again? Darn right!!I hope you have found this report interesting,we have tried to make it that way :). Please do NOT hesitate to contact us at iajsheridann@hotmail.com if you have any questions or we can help in any way. Happy cruising and may the wind carry you beyond your beliefs. Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
This was our seventh cruise, our second Celebrity cruise, but our first on the Constellation. This was our sons first Celebrity Cruise and he really had a great time, so dont hesitate to take your children. Our son met several teens his ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise, our second Celebrity cruise, but our first on the Constellation. This was our sons first Celebrity Cruise and he really had a great time, so dont hesitate to take your children. Our son met several teens his age (16) and made many friends. He said he would definitely want to cruise Celebrity again as well! We saw the Counselors with the small children doing all kinds of activities throughout the ship, they kept them occupied and the kids appeared to be really enjoying it. They even did an Easter Bonnet (which they made themselves) parade at the pool one afternoon. What a wonderful ship, she is now our favorite. Celebrity has a real handle on embarkation&we arrived at 11:30am and were on the ship by noon! We did not leave port until 6pm. We really did not experience any negatives on this cruise except for slightly discolored water. We had read about this in reviews prior to our cruise so it did not come as a surprise. It was fine for showering and etc. so it was not a big deal. However, they do have a problem and they should correct it. The layout of the ship is very easy to follow and the dEcor was very pleasant. The Crew is constantly cleaning and polishing and the ship is immaculate. We like to go to the Art Auctions, and have even purchased a few pieces in the past, however the seating is not the most comfortable on this ship. They have allocated an area in the middle of the shopping area for the auctions and the seats are crowded together. We did not attend the auction because of the seating arrangements. The shopping area of the ship is very nice, better than on some ships. The stores had good selections and the staff was most courteous and helpful. Actually, all the staff was very nice, helpful and polite. This being our second Celebrity cruise, we find that they provide the best in service and hospitality. We have sailed Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and find Celebrity to provide the best service. The food was very good. We did visit Ocean liners one evening and it is well worth the money. For $30pp, we got the very best in service and the food was excellent. We would pay plenty to experience this type of service and food at a restaurant at home. The entertainment was very good. We did have rough seas the night the comedian did his show and we missed it due to sea sickness. I think about ¾ of the ship missed dinner and the show that night! However our son attended and said he was very good and funny. He even bought his CD. We went to the Cirque de Soile and that was great. That night they had the adult Cirque de Soliel white party in the disco. We did not find it all that great as that is all it was, a party. They did do some light projections on the walls that were cool and also reflected off of your white clothing, but it was just a drinking party. We had heard that there was entertainment, but the only thing to see there was people dancing, we were not impressed with the party. All the other shows were good and we truly enjoyed them. We attended all of the talks by Dr. Joe Bishop, a meteorologist who had worked at NOAA. He gave talks about climate changes, global warming, freak weather patterns and rogue waves, tornadoes, hurricanes and natural disasters. Since our son is studying marine biology he made sure to attend every session. So much so that he got up to attend one that was held ay 9:30am, after being out to the wee hours partying at the teen disco! We attended all of them as well. He was very interesting and educational. There was always a packed house. The weather was not the best. It was raining when we left Port Liberty and the rain seemed to follow us right down the coast. Not steady rain, but here and there. When people would complain, I would ask them, You are off from work and on a cruise -- what is there to complain about and they would realize that it wasnt as bad as they had made it to be. Drizzly rain here and there, but the sun did shine; I was even able to get a very fine case of sun poisoning. Most of the ports were OK because it would be drizzly in the AM and the sun would start shining in the early afternoon or it was sunny in the AM and the rain would begin in the late afternoon. St. Maarten was the only port where it rained most of the day. When we got ready to leave the St. Martin port, the sun came out and the rest of the day on the cruise was beautiful. First port was Charleston. We walked (took about 20 minutesto the right when you leave the pier) to the boat for Fort Sumter and took the tour. Very educational and enjoyable and very inexpensive! We then went next door to the Aquarium which was also reasonably priced and fun. There was a flea market right near the pier so we went for a short walk through on the way back to the ship. It was a good day and since we did everything on our own it was not expensive to see the sights. Next port was Grand Bahama Island (Freeport). We had been here before so we knew there was not much to do here. Our 16 year old son took the nature walking tour and had a great time. He was originally scheduled for the Open Water Kayak Tour but it was cancelled due to the rough water. He was glad it was cancelled after he went on this tour. The nature tour had kayaking (inland) and a visit to a national park. He really enjoyed it. My husband and I went to Port Lucaya to have a look. Typical outdoor market. We had a beer and some conch fritters, walked around a bit and went back to the ship. The cab cost us $5 each. This was our second time in Freeport, not the best port but anywhere for a cruise! Next was Nassau. We had never been here before so we grabbed a cab to Paradise Island. The cab ride was a little scary but Paradise Island is beautiful. We went to the aquarium which they have underground. It had an Ancient Egyptian type theme and was a lot of fun. We were there by 8:30am and did not see anyone collecting admission. When you come out of the aquarium you are on their lagoon and it was very nice. We took a walk around and watched them feed the big ray that is in the aquarium. You can also tour the aquarium from above and the walk goes around it, so you can tour the property and look into the top of the aquarium at the same time. There is a casino, but we did not gamble&just walked around to have a look. After taking a cab back to Nassau, we went to visit the Pirate Museum. It was raining by now so it was perfect timing, and we had a good time. We had to walk back to the ship in the rain afterward, but it just drizzled rain with a few downpours in between. As a lot of the sidewalks are covered, we were able to stay reasonably dry. We were excited by our next port -- St. Maarten. We had never been here but heard a lot of good things about St. Maarten. We had reserved a car from Arthurs at the recommendation of reviews on the board. I should tell you that it was Good Friday when we were there so a lot of the stores and etc. were closed. When we got to Arthurs, he was not open! This was around noon and he had confirmed that he would hold a car for us until then. I dont think he realized that it was Good Friday when he confirmed the reservation, but none the less, he was closed. We had passed several rental agencies on our way out of the pier area to get to Arthurs so we just headed back that way. There was a Budget, Hertz and the like, but they were all closed so we ended up renting from Reynolds Car Rentals. He is located at the far end of the row of rental agencies to the right when you leave the pier. DO NOT RENT FROM REYNOLDS!!! A local was hawking rentals and led us over to Reynolds, which was the only agency open. We told Reynold, the owner, that we wanted to pay cash for the rental and as is customary he requested a signed credit card slip as a deposit. He had the young man retrieve the car, a well used Toyota. He informed us that we had to re-fill the gas to its original ¾ tank. (It cost us $5 to re-fill it after touring the Island for four hours.) Upon returning to the agency to return the rental, the door was locked. We waited for about 15 minutes, when the young man who brought us to Reynolds initially came walking up. We paid him $76.00 cash and he gave us the signed charge card slip (with all sections intact) and a cash receipt. I shredded the credit card slip into tiny little pieces and trashed it and we went back to the ship. When we returned home and received our statement we found that Reynold had charged our card for $200. Originally VISA told us that we had to prove payment with our cash receipt, which I had thrown away at this point. We asked them to prove the charge by showing a signature, which we know they cannot do because it is gone. Now VISA is going to make him authenticate the charge. This is proving to be rather difficult because Reynold does not answer his phone. We are currently working with the bank to get our money back! So needless to say, we do not recommend Reynolds and warn you to stay away from them. Enough about that --it was raining and we had planned on renting a car and touring the Island. We went to Marigot and most things were closed, but we did visit there. We also stopped by the Zoo. It is small, but fun. It is run by a conservation group so your entrance supports their cause. We spent about an hour to 1 ½ hours here. We also visited the Simpson Bay Beach, where the planes come in real low. Then we headed back to the ship, we had not eaten in hours and were starved! Our next stop was in St. Thomas. We had been before, but there is so much to see here that we had a great time. Our son is a newly certified Scuba Diver so we had scheduled him to dive with the Coki Beach Dive Club. It was a dive off of the beach which made my husband and I more comfortable than sending him out alone on a boat with strangers. The cost was $40 for a two tank dive and it lasted for about an hour. They supplied the gear so we did not have to cart his gear around with us. They pick you up at the ship and take you to Coki Beach. It cost my husband and I $10 each (since we were not diving) for the ride and you have to get a taxi back to the ship which costs $7pp. For $20 we were able to add another dive to our reservation, which took place about ½ an hour later. As my husband and I were relaxing on the beach, he did the second dive. They dive two different reefs right from the beach and he had a blast. Saw all kinds of sea life and really enjoyed it. They are a great outfit and we highly recommend them. Just make your reservations on line and it is about ½ the price of the ship excursion. My husband and I met a native of St. Thomas on the beach and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in lovely conversation. After taking an open-air taxi back to the ship, we did a little shopping at the pier. We bought our quota of liquor and headed back to the ship. A great port and a great day in St. Thomas. Although we had been here before, we love St. Thomas and really enjoyed the day. On to San Juan -- where we were in port for only a few hours. We had been to San Juan before and had taken the ships kayak tour of the Bioluminescent Bay (highly recommend it) on our last cruise to this port, so we decided to walk to the forts. The walk there is a little rough as it is all uphill, but going back to the ship was a breeze. As it was Easter Sunday, it was nice seeing all the churches open and everyone in their Easter finest. You can walk from one fort to the other and in between there is a large field where all the families were kite flying. We sat and took a break in the field and watched the kites for a little while in between visiting the two forts. If you plan on attending both forts, you can get a ticket which covers both and offers a discount. No more ports&just sea days to get back to Port Liberty. Oh boy, love sea days, especially after so many ports! Debarkation was the usual -- wait for your color to be called. Even though we drove to the port, we were off by 11am and home by 12:30. This was our best cruise yet and we would highly recommend Celebrity for your next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Wow!........the Constellation more than lived up to the great reviews we'd read! We just got back from a ...9 day cruise out of Bayonne, NJ to Labadee, San Juan, St. Maarten and Bermuda. We had 8 1/2 days of sunshine with only a half ... Read More
Wow!........the Constellation more than lived up to the great reviews we'd read! We just got back from a ...9 day cruise out of Bayonne, NJ to Labadee, San Juan, St. Maarten and Bermuda. We had 8 1/2 days of sunshine with only a half day of rain and fairly rough seas. I'm terrible at reviews but here goes... We arrived in Bayonne at 11 a.m and we started boarding at a little after noon. It was so easy and painless. You drop the bags when you first arrive and then proceed to the parking area. The parking was $15 a day and very secure. There's a shuttle that takes you to the terminal. This terminal has a nice inside waiting room with plenty of seats. After boarding we explored the ship and then headed off to the buffet (rooms wouldn't be ready until about 1). We had stateroom 3065 with a 48" porthole window (great unobstructed view). Super nice room but the bed was on the firm side and pillows were flat and horrible (my only complaint on the room). We went to see the Maitre D' to see if we could have our dinner seating changed from late to early. He told us they'd let us know the next day (a card was delivered to our stateroom the following afternoon with a new table assignment). There were only 2 formal nights on this cruise, instead of the 3 that were listed. The second night was formal so we got all gussied up and ate in the gorgeous San Marco dining room. The entertainment....was superb! The house band was Onyx and they played by the pool most days and in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth (deck 11). The ship's orchestra played big band music in the Rendevous Lounge one night, there was a singer/piano player in Michael's Club every night, The Mozart Duo also played in the Rendevous Lounge every evening. The Cova Cafe had a string quartet most days. Some of the highlights for us were the '50s/'60s Sock hop, country line dance party, masked ball, evening pool party with fruit buffet and of course, the Grande Buffet (more about that later). During the sea days there were swing, Rhumba and Cha-Cha classes in the afternoon and we went to a couple of those. One of the things that we really enjoyed, but I couldn't find out much about on the boards, was the casual dining in the evening...we loved it! They set up one side of the buffet seating area in the evening for casual dining with tablecloths, flowers and fun waiters (these guys are the ones in training for the San Marco). We had the same waiter every night...Paul from Jamaica...and he was so much fun! Every evening we had a table for 2 right in front of a huge window with gorgeous views of the ocean and sunset. The menu consisted of great bread basket, a choice of 2 appetizers, soup of the day, house or caesar salad, 6 entrees (chicken, fish, barbecued spare ribs, mixed grill, etc...these changed every night but usually chicken and a fish was on the menu), baked potato or FF's, and a choice from about 4 desserts. It was a nice alternative to the 2 hour dinners in the formal dining room without losing out on great service. Ports....We didn't take any of the excursions so I can't comment on them. Labadee was a nice surprise after reading all the horrid reports on Haiti. The tenders took us ashore and we were greeted by island music, a gorgeous beach, and beach attendants waiting to put a lounge chair wherever we desired. We learned that Celebrity had this whole area specifically built for their cruise ships and it was really nice, clean and welcoming! The flea market was rather intrusive as the local crafters do everything but drag you into their cubicles to display their wares. They really get in your face and just don't want to let you pass on. BUT, if you like to haggle price, you'll have fun here as they keep dropping the price until you buy something. On the other end of the flea market is a craft area with fixed prices but no high pressure sales. San Juan...I don't have too much to say. We walked around and went in some shops but it was really hot and it was my least favorite stop. St Maarten was gorgeous!...everything I thought a Caribbean island would be! Stunning beaches, upscale shopping and so clean! We took a bus for $3 each inland a ways and browsed the shops. Then we walked along the beach back to the ship. Bermuda....Royal Navy Dockyard. For $12 a day you can ride any of the ferries or buses and it's a great deal! We took the ferry to Hamilton and walked around and then took the #7 bus back to the ship. What a great way to see the island! At the dock yard we paid the $10 each to go through the Maritime museum and to see the dolphins (for $204 you could swim with the dolphins for 45 minutes...gulp!.....too rich for my blood!) Oh, I did ask several kids what they thought of the kids program and the teenagers weren't impressed......there didn't seem to be much for them to do. Debarking was a breeze, customs was nothing and the shuttle takes you right over to the terminal. I'm sure I've forgotten more than I remembered so please feel free to email if you have any questions. This was our 2nd cruise...we were on the Zenith for 5 nights in Feb. I've also booked 7 nights to Bermuda in May and 11 nights on the Constellation again in Oct (yup, we really like Celebrity!). Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
My family of 4 plus a brother and a cousin took a shuttle to the Cape Liberty Cruiseport in Bayonne, NJ from south Jersey. Embarkation was a breeze. Even though we arrived at a prime time, everything flowed smoothly and we didn't ... Read More
My family of 4 plus a brother and a cousin took a shuttle to the Cape Liberty Cruiseport in Bayonne, NJ from south Jersey. Embarkation was a breeze. Even though we arrived at a prime time, everything flowed smoothly and we didn't feel like we had to wait in any line for long. Muster drill was quicker than on Celebrity but afterward my husband and I felt in a true emergency, we wouldn't be as prepared on RCCL. I think the main difference is this. On Celebrity, our muster station first met in a particular lounge and then we followed outside from there. On RCCL, we met outside and looked for the muster drill area number. RCCL also had placed my husband and I in a different station than our kids. We had to politely insist several times to different people that we were a family and in the case of any emergency, we needed to be together. Why they would separate a family--I don't know. Dinner on the first night was a disaster! We had booked the cruise almost a year in advance and received a main seating dinner which we wanted. When we came down to the dining room at 5:45pm, we were told that my husband and I were on one floor, my cousin and youngest son on another and my brother and older son on another. Worse yet---they didn't see the problem!! They handled it poorly. We were led to one floor after another and made to stand and wait. We felt uncomfortable and embarrassed as people around us were starting to eat. We were hungry and tired. I was recovering from an Achilles tendon tear and my cousin had tripped and fallen on the way to the dining room. When they finally told us they had a table for all of us on the 5th floor, we were relieved. It was short-lived. Another family had our table already. We were then told that they were actually assigned the late seating but tonight they 'felt' like eating early because they were tired! They again tried to convince us to take separate tables! We were again told to stand and wait while they disappeared to figure this out. A sympathetic assistant waitress took pity on us and said if it was her she would sit at that empty table over there. It was an empty table for 6 people and it was now 7pm. We had been shuffled around for well over an hour! We sat down because we figured the people that had that table wouldn't show up so late. The waiter for that table rushed over and told us to get up. I told him no way--we were tired and hungry. He said to make sure we don't touch anything!! Finally the head waiter told him to serve us dinner. It was now 7:25pm. Of course, at this moment, the people who had this table showed up! They made a huge fuss but the head waiter stood firm on our behalf. He was the most helpful head waiter we've seen. He helped serve and clear and treated the other waiters kindly. His name was Ergan, I believe. He actually helped us keep this table for the rest of our cruise. The waiter, Emelito, turned out to be a nice guy who had just been worried he'd get into trouble. We wound up having wonderful meals and some great memories there. My husband and I had a balcony room. Our room didn't seem as clean as on Celebrity. And the bedspreads could use replacing. The shower was tiny. But the bed was unbelievably comfortable. I had the best sleep while on that ship! The room steward, Donny, was such a pleasant guy. I didn't realize they allowed people to smoke in their rooms until our room filled with cigar smoke! I have asthma and my husband can't stand smoke so we called guest services and was told that we should just keep the balcony door shut! The cigar smoker turned out to be a decent guy who stopped smoking on his balcony to accommodate us. I'm sure not everyone would do this so we were lucky. I really wish the cruise lines would have a nonsmoking area of cabins. Smokers can go just about anywhere to have a smoke. But we couldn't go just anywhere to shower, sleep and change! The comedians were superb on this this cruise. We could have watched them each night! Allen the cruise director was one of the funniest guys we've seen. He made the Love and Marriage show hilarious! My boys-13 & 16- didn't go to the show because it's "for adults" but the Explorer plays it constantly on the TV so they watched it anyway. They thought Allen was great. The Explorer has a real gem there. We weren't crazy about the ice show or the magician. The musical shows were quite good. The explorer has some fabulous musicians in the various lounges. The bar nearest the Cafe Promenade has an incredible guitarist with a wonderful singing voice. Ahh--the Cafe Promenade....we loved it. A cozy spot to grab a late night cup of tea or an ice cold glass of water. My kids were addicted to their chocolate chip cookies. They had tasty sandwiches too. We saw a lot of cleaning while we were there, especially of the banisters. A greeter at the entrance to the buffet cheerfully reminded each person every single day to sanitize their hands. The buffet area was spotless. And we thought the buffet food was of a better quality that what we had on our Celebrity cruise. The pool area was nice and although I'd heard horror stories about chair saving--this was not a problem we encountered. Anytime we wanted to swim, we always found a couple of chairs near the pool. One time, we didn't see any right away and a woman called to us to take the 2 her kids weren't using. We took only one ship tour and that was to Trunk Bay. It was well worth the money spent. Trunk Bay is gorgeous! At St Marten,we took a cab to Dawn Beach--recommended to us as a quiet beautiful beach. The taxi ride brought us through a rundown area and the beach itself was dirty, noisy with construction and full of pushy salesmen! My older son did have his entire head braided and the women there did a fabulous job. It was $1 per braid with a deal for an entire head. Puerto Rico was hot but very interesting. We walked from the ship to El Morro Castle. It was beautiful! And surprisingly, we loved Labadee, Haiti. It was hotter than Puerto Rico could imagine to be but absolutely breathtaking! Our favorite beach was Barefoot beach with its smooth sand. Lunch there was nothing special but we were hungry from hours of swimming so it filled our bellies. My younger son wanted his head braided like his brother. Here it is a lot pricier at $2.50 per braid and they don't do as good of a job. I got 4 braids and lost one the next day. My younger son was losing so many beads we had to take his out completely. My older son still has all of his in. At Labadee, they use rubber bands that rot quickly whereas at St. Maarten they used small pieces of aluminum foil. The last night they closed all the pools and hot tubs early--one is supposed to be open 24 hours. We had packed early and planned to take a family swim one last time. It amazed us that a ship holding that many people never seemed too crowded. Well, with one exception--disembarkation. What a mess! Uncivilized and chaotic! We felt that the cruise ship had gotten our money and now treated us like cattle. When we disembarked from Celebrity, we had a comfortable wait with refreshments. On the Explorer most of the people around us sat on the floor. Announcements were muffled and difficult to hear. It was not a good way to end a otherwise nice cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We took the May 19th, 9 night cruise on Explorer of the seas out of NJ. Embarkment was very easy and well organized. We arrived at 12:30 and by 2 we were in out stateroom. We were in a balcony stateroom on the 9th deck and the views were ... Read More
We took the May 19th, 9 night cruise on Explorer of the seas out of NJ. Embarkment was very easy and well organized. We arrived at 12:30 and by 2 we were in out stateroom. We were in a balcony stateroom on the 9th deck and the views were incredible. The room was a nice size, very comfortable, and had plenty of storage and hanging space for the 2 of us. We definitely overpacked! The ship has 14 decks and the chapel. You will find yourself still exploring the ship on your way back! Nice sized casino, but only 1 craps table. Promenade is beautiful, as is the whole ship. Beautiful art and sculpture abound, and it is fun to check out each floor to see what is hanging up. The food was wonderful in the dining room every night. Nice variety each night. I am on a limited diet and had no trouble choosing dinner each evening. Our waiter, Venito, and assistant Ashish, were GREAT. Service was impeccable and extremely attentive. One night, surprising my wife with dessert before she even asked for it because it was mentioned 2 nights earlier in conversation that it was her favorite (tirimasu). Entertainment for a majority of nights were quite good. Planet Ice and the Knudsens are MUST see. Comedians are funny in a family type atmosphere. The only lacking show was the magician. His act was too fragmented to retain interest. The Quest was really a hysterical show. Allen, the cruise director, really keeps things moving and seems to truly enjoy what he is doing. I also suggest going to Melanie's shopping class to really learn some things if you have never shopped in the islands. It is an experience!! Shore Excursions were priced correctly. St. Thomas, for us, was a bit of a disappointment. We went to Megan's Bay and while the excursion said 3 hours, it was more like 2 with only 1 hour and 20 minutes at the beach. Beach was beautiful, ride was terrible. Island seemed run down. St. Marten was , on the other hand, our favorite. Shopped in the morning, and did Orient Bay in the afternoon. Absolutely beautiful island. San Juan was fun to walk around on your own and shop. Very easy to do. Senor Frog's is a MUST STOP if you want to have fun in a bar/club, that even caters to children!!! We heard the rainforest was beautiful but did not go. Remember, its a rainforest...humidity and heat!!! Labadee is a special island with a lot of things to do all day. The afternoon BBQ was very good! Just like the Windjammer cafe from the ship, brought out to the island! It was very hot that day and there are no real shops to go into to get a break, so its into the water for swimming and snorkeling! Disembarkment however is a nightmare as every one has stated. We left our room at 7:30 and didn't get off till 10:10, and we were the 3rd color called. Get a later flight out if you are connecting to any other city. You may not get off till noon! In summary, a wonderful cruise and I am booking the same for next year on the same boat!!! That should summarize pretty well. Thanks RC for a remarkable and memorable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
My husband and I sailed on the Explorer of the Seas departing from Cape Liberty N.J. on May 19th. Let me say that this was the BEST cruise experience we have ever had! The Explorer is a beautiful ship. Although I do agree that maybe she ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Explorer of the Seas departing from Cape Liberty N.J. on May 19th. Let me say that this was the BEST cruise experience we have ever had! The Explorer is a beautiful ship. Although I do agree that maybe she might be due in drydock to change the carpeting. This was the only area I saw wear and tear. But, considering the traffic on a weekly basis, the ship is clean and in fine condition. Embarkation: AMAZING! It took longer to park the car than it did to board the ship. We think all other ports should really take Bayonne as an example of what a cruise port should be. Arrival at the the port, until we were on board, took only 45 minutes total. Dining: The food on this ship was amazing. I may be biased though because the assistant head chef was French Canadian! I like to think that as a Montrealer, we know fine dining. And considering that the ship serves 15,000 meals per day (passengers and crew). The food was extremely good. The gala buffet was EXTRAORDINARY! Ugur and Antonio,(our waiters) you guys were amazing. Thank you! Portofinos: NOT TO BE MISSED! If you do not make a reservation here you will be missing a dining experience beyond description! Stateroom: Was tiny compared to Carnival but comfortable. Our stateroom attendant was very good. Our room was always clean and tidy and those towel animals were really neat! Bedding and towels were always changed when we requested them to be. Entertainment: This is where I think RCCL cuts on operating costs. The entertainment EXCEPT FOR THE ICE SHOW needs attention. Towards the end of the cruise, we did not bother visiting the theatre because we sort of knew what to expect. The run-of-the-mill magician and the geriatric singer were extremely boring. Other entertainment that we enjoyed was the rock climbing wall, mini-golf, pool games, the pool party and the shopping along with many other things we may not have mentioned. Let me say our seas days were full and busy. Ports of Call: St. Thomas: I got earrings! We shopped and walked. Since were here last year, we opted to just browse. St. Maarten: We did the RHINO RIDER. Not to be missed as an excursion. We rode the waves and snorkeled and admired all of the big, expensive, high priced yachts on both the French and Dutch sides of the island. The tour chewed up most of day, we shopped in town afterwards and walked the boardwalk. Then we took the water taxi back to the ship to enjoy the solarium. San Juan: DIRTY...walked around Old San Juan. I took some pics of the architecture and shopped. We were here last year on a Carnival Cruise so, not much to see. Maybe next time, we will take the rainforest tour. Labadee: BEAUTIFUL and little piece of paradise. I was somewhat concerned about security considering that this country is experiencing so much turmoil right now. But I think those UN helicopters were watching over us. Warning! It's really difficult to shop here. Be ready to bargain and be persistent. The art and woodcarvings were unique and special made by talented artisans. The shopping was exhausting so we lazed under a tree on the beach. Disembarkment: This was the only part of the cruise I found to be extremely disorganized. Immigration was late and there were some fellow cruisers who refused to answer the page and report to immigration for check out. Could this be the same bunch of "children" that were running through the hallways on the 10th floor of the ship in a drunken stupor disturbing the sleep of other passengers who need to get up at 6:00 am to report to immigration? Shame on you guys...that was inconsiderate. You are lucky I did not call security! I have the same complaint as last year about my fellow passengers...why is it that some of you lose your patience or become annoyed at such trivial things. So the elevator is out of order (do you know the amount of times those things go up and down in one trip), so there are sometimes crowds in common areas....HELLO YOU ARE ON VACATION. Try to enjoy it. Calm down people!!! All in all, we had a great time. So much so, that we want to cruise with the family next time we do so. I think my land vacation days may be over....this is the way to vacation! Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Our family of 5 - comprising myself, my girlfriend, her youngest daughter of 13, her oldest daughter of 17 and her oldest daughter's best friend of 18 - were looking forward to this cruise with huge expectations. This cruise was a ... Read More
Our family of 5 - comprising myself, my girlfriend, her youngest daughter of 13, her oldest daughter of 17 and her oldest daughter's best friend of 18 - were looking forward to this cruise with huge expectations. This cruise was a graduation present for the oldest daughter and as such we were so happy to make it happen and couldn't wait to see her face! This was my first cruise (and the kids) and my girlfriend couldn't wait to see us all enjoy something as cool as this! 1) The drive. Not bad at all! Being from South Central PA, we were less than 4 hours away from Bayonne - an easily doable drive which proved to be smooth for the most part. 2) Arrival - ok... I understand the port is pretty much undergoing that "pull itself from the brink" stage and it is evident that there is much work to do with the port before it reaches any stage of glory... so no need to beat up this point... but it was a madhouse pulling into a "unloading" zone, sucking the bags out of the vehicle so fast that you'd have thought I had hydraulics, and then winding my way all the way back around to get into another vehicle line to get parked in the port lot. I'm not sure what the problem was, but I sat in that line of cars going through 2 booths for over 45 minutes... and the people in the booths sure weren't in a hurry... seemingly taking their time with everything - I couldn't help getting the feeling that they were trying to say "after all, where else ya gonna go buddy?" - they were nice and all and smiled a lot - but SLOW! 3) Check-in. Not as bad as I had expected - but not entirely logical either... Nothing like getting herded in front of a backgdrop while carrying all your crap so some overzealous photographer can take a picture in front of a fake ship! I know we all got up mighty early in the morning and just drove for 4 hours on a HOT day and we knew we didn't feel or look up to this picture deal... which by the way was a nice slowdown point for the ENTIRE line... Hey, I know! If you're not interested in pictures, How about a FAST LANE!? Get us cranky people checked in so we don't stand around and feel our lives passing away in what seems like a complete waste of time for something we have no interest in! bing! I smell a winner! 4) Shuttle to and from the ship and embarkation. This was a real joke as far as I'm concerned... let's all cram on a shuttle bus to take us to the ship and then get stampeded as all of us "where are we" types mill around the elevators trying to figure out where to go next... Royal Caribbean could take a lesson from Wal-Mart.... Greeters!!! It's nice when you feel totally lost, have no idea what you're doing or where you're going to have an overnice flamboyant person offering to at least distract you with a little kindness and maybe the status of every available elevator within hiking distance and maybe even hand out little maps and an intro flyer like "Feeling Lost? Follow the yellow footprints if your on deck X..." OK... finally got to our cabins... and of course when the baggage started to arrive... it went pretty much all over the ship between our 3 cabins... even though we grouped the baggage according to cabin - it was pretty much tagged at random and shoved onboard. yay. Nothing like traipsing up one deck, all the way forward, then down 3 decks and all the way aft and then up another deck over and over again trying to get everyone's stuff to the right place and all the while trying to get the layout of this floating city/hotel.... and from the amount of other roamers in the hallways beating their luggage up against the walls and such, this wasn't isolated to just us.... I think the ballast on that ship probably had to be rebalanced a good 50 times before pulling away from the port.... Since we were in 3 separate cabins and needed to be able to communicate - I thought walkie talkies would be perfect! Good idea - Bad implementation! They worked some of the time and some of the time they were worthless. Lots of steel on this bad boy!! If you're going to get walkie talkies, get the super ultra mega high powered talk-to-the-moon types... they should be able to work regardless of the amount of "ship" between them... mine were the 10 mile types and they weren't strong enough.... So we finally all head up onto the outside deck to watch the ship pull away... absolutely beautiful view from an absolutely beautiful ship! Lady Liberty in the distance.... it was awesome! Loved pulling under the big bridge into New York.... 5) OK.. so now we're off and now we're looking at what do we do now? We figure we take a tour of the promenade and see the welcome aboard type show going on.... Beautiful Promenade... Nightmare #1 hits... Drink Packages! Wait a minute here... I just spent a small fortune to get 6 people on this ship on an adventure of a lifetime and I can't even get a free coke? Carnival doesn't have this do they? so now I'm looking at shelling out over $60 per person for 6 people just so we can get a coke or juice whenever we would like... $360 bucks down the drain... so much for horseback riding in Puerto Rico..... I don't get this one at all.... except as another avenue for revenue... aren't the prices high enough as they are to be able to provide this? This bothered me to no end.... 6) Another note... food... There were two places that I know of that you could get food 24 hours a day.... the other places shutdown.... I was always told that the one thing that you can count on during a cruise was having enough food around to gain 100 pounds just thinking about it! Not on this ship! Don't get me wrong... the food was wonderful both in the main dining hall and in Windjammers.... it just needed to be made more available for us vacationing "who cares what time it is" types who are just happy not to be at work or sitting at home! 7) OK... On to the BIG GRIPE #1: Age differentials with the young adult/teen activities. After a day or so, we learn that the oldest daughter and her best friend can't really do anything together outside of sitting by the pool... WHY? Because one is 17 and the other is 18 and Royal Caribbean will NOT allow an 18 year old into a 17 year old activity/event/place and definitely not allow a 17 year old into an 18 or older place (which I understand.) SO! We go to guest relations and ask about having the 18 year old waive her ability to get beer/wine/alcohol of any kind so she can "demote" down to 17 year old type activity... we're told to get permission from the manager of Adventure Ocean (the kid activity place) - so we traipse up to Deck 12 from Deck 5 and eventually locate the Asst Manager who says he has no problem with that... cool! Back to Deck 5 where the clerk at Guest Relations now calls up to verify and gets a hold of the Manager... who denies the request! So we immediately ask to speak with this Manager named Denise.... my girlfriend is PO'd in ways you don't want to see.... she's got a daughter who the entire cruise is for and she can't even enjoy it with her best friend!!! Now back to Deck 12 where we get a big dissertation on why they refuse to allow mixing of 17 and 18 year olds mainly due to alcohol - which makes NO sense since we are looking to have the 18 year old's ability to purchase alcohol taken away!! No Dice!! But there ARE places where they can be together Denise says... so we check them out... and wouldn't you know it! They are all BARS!!!! HELLO!? Walking around the ship we see big groups of 17, 18, and 19 year olds who are all friends and want to be together but can't officially congregate anywhere!! And the places where they CAN go play Big Band music or Old time Jazz!! oooh! What young adult would be caught dead in a place like that!? I'd say there had to be at least 200 to 300 kids in the exact same boat (no pun intended) who were bored out of there skull... I think they should have all got together and went to the Maharaji lounge and booted out the Geriatric crowd and took it over and had a dance party until they dropped! So stinking sad! Boredom begets trouble with teenagers!! and you're a teenager until you turn 20!! What's so hard to figure out here? It only takes one walk on any given night to see all these completed disenfranchised and bored teens.... truly sad. 8) Next MAJOR Gripe point! Scheduling. ok... We've arrived at St. Thomas which is absolutely fantastic!! left there and arrived at St. Maarten... wonderful!!! left there and are on our way to Puerto Rico when we learn that there is a Deck party Buffet set for that night! Cool! ABOUT TIME!!! They should be EVERY NIGHT!! Deck party runs to about 2 am but the buffets shut down at 12:15! One WHOPPING Hour! It took longer to get it all setup than the time it was open!!! and when it goes down, it's GONE!!! POOF! OK.. riddle me this Batman.... I'm thinking cool, RC finally saw that there wasn't much in the way of night time activities so they threw together a deck party with food... until late... with IMMIGRATION SET FOR THE NEXT MORNING!!!!! DUH!!!! Can you spell BRILLIANT!? Another example of idiotic scheduling? Take a gander at the sport activities: Rock wall climbing, in line skating, ice skating, etc... You know, none of these are open after 5!!!! WHA? So I finally get out in the sun, spend an hour finding a chair to use, get some good sunning in, have a nice leisurely light lunch at WindJammers, and now am looking at maybe catching a show or starting the hot tub soakfest.... and I'm thinking, wouldn't it be cool to do some inline skating after dinner? Or maybe the rock climbing wall since it's DAYLIGHT UNTIL ALMOST 9:30 PM!!! But NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! It's putt putt for you big daddy!!! Enjoy!! GRRRRR!!! Hey!! I have a better Idea!!! Wait until everyone gets out of the pools to get ready for dinner and then SHUT DOWN THE POOLS!!! After all, there's only 2 more HOURS OF DAYLIGHT after the LAST DINNER!!! Oh! And we know the jets don't work in the Adult only Jacuzzi - enjoy the kids! But Wait there's more! We've never even thought of playing music in the Solarium!!!! Adults HATE music right? Sure it's a nice quiet place to escape the kids (SURE IT IS!) but how about at night turning it into a Adult only escape complete with MUSIC and BAR action!? HELLO? Since the main pool bars close at 7!!! (Can you believe that? 7!!!) 9) I think it's number 9.... lol OK... lots of small complaints... and who knows, maybe I'm off my rocker.... after the 17 and 18 year old incident and the manager Denise pretty much deflating the whole purpose for the cruise... we were promised to get a call from the Director of Guest Relations at 9am the following morning.... RIIIIIGHT!!!! They must have been busy cleaning up from some other guest who went postal from all this illogical stupidity! Maybe someone threw them overboard... either way, no phone call.... nothing.... gee... what a surprise.... SO! What about the 13 year old? She LOVED IT!!! Bored for the first two days until we discovered Adventure Ocean and their young teen programs... 12-14 year olds... EXCELLENT!!! She was off and running and we didn't see much of her at all!!! Until we found out that yeah, they DO go to the hangout place (Optix) but then once they have a small group of friends, they pretty much run all over the ship... instead of partaking in the activities outlined in the schedule (that WE have so we know where she SHOULD be and what she SHOULD be doing)... yeah, that's not exactly RC's fault... but it could be a little more "hip" to keep their interest and more structured..... There is so much more that really burned me up (the shipboard accounts still send me into the red zone!!!)... and yes, there was a lot that was truly wonderful.... but for my first cruise... I should have went with the party Cruise Line... Carnival.... Royal Caribbean has soured me.... Never again.... not even with Celebrity or anyone/anything affiliated with them.... Truly sad... and it could have been so much better with some logical thinking..... Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
My wife and I have cruised 14 times, with the last 3 on RCCL ships out of Cape Liberty, NJ. Embarkation was fine; the access to cape liberty is very simple even with 3100 other very excited passengers. We were on the ship very quickly; ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised 14 times, with the last 3 on RCCL ships out of Cape Liberty, NJ. Embarkation was fine; the access to cape liberty is very simple even with 3100 other very excited passengers. We were on the ship very quickly; our luggage was at our doors within 2 hours. I needed 2 rooms because there are 5 members of my family. We had an outside balcony and an inside directly across from us for out 2 older children. Ship We had been on the voyager 2 times, thus explorer was virtually the same ship, less decor. Food It seems that RCCL quality has really taken a nose-dive here. Food was poor, tasteless, rushed. We used the late seating for dinner, and only used the formal dining room for dinner. Our waitress was more concerned with telling us about just how hard she had to work, all the RCCL hardships she had to endure, while holding out a picture of her 20 months old. Well, after a few days of this, i-we got to the point that we just wanted her to go away. Ports San Juan, don't bother getting off the ship. We had been there 5 times, same old dirty city. The lucky part is that we were there for only a few hours. St. Thomas, love it. Left my wallet there!!! Our jeweler picked us up at the pier. Upgraded wife's wedding ring. Ouch. St Maarten, loved it. Orient beach on the French side. I will go back there next year.   Labadee/Haiti, nice place, completely run by RCCL. Big fence to keep the locals out. Very pretty. Service Room service was greatly improved. We used this only for morning coffee, continental breakfast. Ordered it with overnight room service door tags. They would call as it was coming, always early or on time. Public rest rooms were a mess. Early or late they were dirty. There were always dirty paper towels, empty drink cups etc on the floors. Maybe they should consider rest room attendants. It seems that besides the staff, people working in the shops, pursers desk etc., the crew, wait staff, room attendants, etc. have become very Americanized. It used to be that they would go out of the way to be friendly, helpful etc. Now it seems that they expect more $ each time beside the 15% automatic gratuity. What happened? The only major issue that I have is this: On the last night of the cruise when RCCL distributes all purchased alcohol, it is their practice to drop off the boxes to each room without having it signed for. Being that there are many children onboard, many teens feel that they have the chance to steal bottles and experiment. The teen club was closed early that night because of excess numbers of drunken children on board!!!!! The issue is that the Optix teen club is where parents are not allowed. This is a crew chaperoned area that is for teens only. What happened? I wish I knew. My wife and I found our 15-year old daughter in her room with 3 other girls. She had been brought there to vomit. She continued to vomit for 4 hours. She also continued this for the 3 hour ride home. Granted, it was a matter of time for the teen experimentation, but we placed our faith in RCCL for the safety of our kids in the teens-only Optix program. This is wrong. Our 16-year old son also told us of another male teen that had his stomach pumped in the med facility onboard that night. Liability? At this time our cruise with RCCL went from a very acceptable fun time to a horrific mess.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Traveling to Cape Liberty from PA were myself, 38, my husband, 43, and our two daughters aged 16 & 14. Only a 2 1/2 hour drive to cruiseport. No problems getting there and the parking was fairly simple----$15/day to park, but much ... Read More
Traveling to Cape Liberty from PA were myself, 38, my husband, 43, and our two daughters aged 16 & 14. Only a 2 1/2 hour drive to cruiseport. No problems getting there and the parking was fairly simple----$15/day to park, but much cheaper than flying the 4 of us to Florida. Embarkation was easy - arrived at port around 11:30 and was eating in the Windjammer for lunch by noon. No problems at all, or lines at this time. Had to take a shuttle to the boat from the dock---for some reason I assumed we would walk right on, but you need to get a shuttle to get to the gangway. Of course as first time cruisers we were in awe of the ship....you cannot possibly understand how large this vessel is unless you see it firsthand. We walked on and were amazed by everything. Ate lunch in the Windjammer which was good. Went to the back of the boat to the Island Grill and didn't have a problem finding chairs to sit down. We rarely ate here though, as I personally don't like buffets----but it was nice and food was good. We were allowed in our rooms by 1----shared adjoining promenade staterooms with 2 teenage daughters 7595 & 7597. I originally booked an inside H category for the four of us-----I AM SOOO GLAD we changed. The rooms are big enough for two, but I think if we would have had 4 in there, by day 5 we would have been ready to kill each other. The promenade stateroom was very nice. Nice to have a window looking out to people watch. Also no noise at all----we did not have any problems with this. Very soundproof. As far as everything else, I will summarize as follows: Ship itself----beautiful, couldn't have asked for more. Seemed that everything looked like new, and in good working order. Promenade rooms - Very nice---small, but good for 2 if you don't plan on spending hours in the room (why would you, enjoy the ship) Stateroom attendant - She was very good, wonderful service and really neat towel animals. She went out of here way to make things nice for us. Food - Very good to excellent. Ate in the dining room most of the time. Liked meeting new people at breakfast, and the service and food was delicious. Usually just grabbed a burger at lunch when we were hungry at the Windjammer. Food was good----just don't like buffets. Ate at Johnny Rockets one time for lunch, food was again good (glad that they had other sandwiches besides burgers). Dinner every night but one was in the dining room----food was excellent as well as the service. When you can get this kind of food/service, why would you line up at buffet? Waiter/Asst Waiter - Jekaterina & Umesh were terrific!!! Always pleasant, and went out of there way to serve you with a smile. My daughters loved this part of the cruise. They are missing having Umesh bring them rolls, refill water glass, etc.. Shows - Went to mostly all of them. They were all very good. I was expecting amusement park caliber, and it exceeding that by a great deal. All shows with the exception of one were great---costumes, singing, dancing, the sets----very good. Did not care for the magic show---seemed a little cheesy after all the good shows we did see. The ice show is not to be missed---was expecting ice capades and it turned out to be phenomenal. My husband and two teenagers who are not really show people, could not wait to get to the next show. Ship entertainment - Excellent- if you can't find something to do on this ship, you have issues. They have everything from Rock climbing to ice skating, Bingo, sitting by the pool, plenty of workshops, etc......too much to do, and sometimes we had to make tough choices as there were things we wanted to do that were at the same time....Oh well, maybe next cruise. Bars/lounges - Many, many venues. All with entertainment. We fell in love with Dizzy's jazz club. Usually, my husband and I went there every night to end the day with a Martini, listening to excellent jazz playing. Very classy---and overlooked the pool area. All other lounges were also very nice. Teen club/area - no real rating. My 14 year old went the first night, but only a few kids there. I was later told that only 300 kids on board in total--didn't look like too many were teenagers. They mostly stuck with us during the day doing family things, and at night after dinner, we went to the shows. After that, they were both so tired, they wanted to go back to room to watch movies. I peeked in on them through the adjoining door and usually were asleep by midnight. I guess we wore them out. But they said they had a great time, and really loved it. They liked the arcade, rock climbing, shows, etc.....would both sail again no problem on this ship. Ports of call - All different in their own way. Loved all of them: St. Thomas- only arrived at 1:00 (this limits your day as all stores close by 6:00) - Went on a ship excursion, Buck Island sail & snorkel--VERY COOL- booked this online before we left, as I liked the idea of only 6 people on boat at a time. 4 of us sailed with a honeymoon couple. Our boat was the Jolly Mon, and it was great. Gary & Gail (captains/owners) were wonderful. Sailed to Buck Island in St. Thomas (around 45 minutes), snorkled for first time----we loved it, saw a lot of fish and a rare turtle. Sailed back only using sails and had rum punch (sodas for kids)---really a great time. Walked around St. Thomas maybe an hour at Havensight as all stores were closing. St. Martin - arrived at 8:00 - beautiful island - booked Joyce Prince months ago. She is everything I've seen written about her on cruise critic. Excellent tour guide and great person. We were able to see so much more than if we were on our own. If you are looking to see island, definitely book her. She dropped us off at Orient Beach after 3 hour tour, and we caught a taxi back around 4:30 to ship. Orient beach was beautiful. Clear calm water, white sand---nothing like the beaches we are used to on east coast. Puerto Rico - arrived at 9:00---really enjoyed it. On our own today, and walked around Old San Juan. Went to Fort Kristobel, did some shopping and ate lunch in a side cafe being serenaded by a guitar while we ate MoFongo-----what a good time. Seems like a lot of people miss out on this port, due to preconceived ideas---we really enjoyed it. Only bad part of the trip was the immigration process due to us being at a foreign port--ridiculous---but not the ships fault, but our governments. Line was long, and people were irritated, and you had to go whether you were getting off of ship or not or risk a fine. Just plain stupid IMO. Labadee - arrived at 9:00- could have spent days here. What a beautiful tropical island. Went snorkeling for hours off shore (a lot of small fish too look at and all of us enjoyed it so much in St. Thomas, we couldn't wait to get back in water.) Great beaches, authentic Haitan market (they are very aggressive at selling/bartering). Got some nice wooden things, and the girls enjoyed it. BBQ lunch brought over from ship which was very good. They also had Haitians doing singing/dancing, and this was great. Embarkation - this is the only area where they messed up. Luckily we went to the Dining room for breakfast after we left our room, so we didn't have to wait three hours in the designated areas. Apparently there was a security issue at the port, and they wouldn't let anyone off the ship until 9:00-9:30. Needless to say we waited for around 1 1/2-2 hours in the Palace theatre waiting to leave. They could have a least showed a movie or something to keep us occupied. Luckily I was still on a high from our trip and totally relaxed---otherwise I might have been extremely irritated---but it didn't put a damper on my vacation. I would recommend this ship to anyone wanting the vacation of a lifetime--would sail here again in a heartbeat Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
The Explorer was a very nice ship but after being on Voyager in November 2005 found that Voyager was a nicer ship and the staff much friendlier and accommodating. The ports were all very nice but found that having to do customs mid-trip ... Read More
The Explorer was a very nice ship but after being on Voyager in November 2005 found that Voyager was a nicer ship and the staff much friendlier and accommodating. The ports were all very nice but found that having to do customs mid-trip took away from much of our time in Puerto Rico....seemed to take forever and although we were in port at 7 a.m. customs didn't begin until 9 a.m. which definitely limited our possibilities of off ship activities. We cruise quite often and the ports of call on this ship were excellent. Truly loved St. Maarten as well as Labadee. The shows were typical of Royal Caribbean -- the ice show was amazing to say the least. We attempted dinner in the formal dining room waited 20 minutes and wasn't even offered a glass of water --- so off to the Windjammer we went. The Windjammer is always good for a quick dinner and a wide variety of food. We don't usually rate the dining as we don't find it one of the highlights of cruising. Room service was always prompt and quite good for a quick meal without all the formality. We would definitely cruise Royal Caribbean again--intend to in the fall. Definitely would recommend the Eastern Caribbean itinerary -- adequate time at each port (exception of Puerto Rico) and we enjoy the 2 days at sea to and from vacation. Enjoy!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
I'll start with our personal history, we are a family of four, parents 50 and two fairly grown children a 17 and 20 year old. This was the first cruise for us and didn't have any major expectations. The ship itself is huge, and ... Read More
I'll start with our personal history, we are a family of four, parents 50 and two fairly grown children a 17 and 20 year old. This was the first cruise for us and didn't have any major expectations. The ship itself is huge, and tastefully decorated. We had inside cabins which were small in size but quite clean. My husband and I didn't have any space issues as the closet held all of our clothes just fine. I would say as a first time cruiser that I was a little surprised by two things, first being that even with the great size of this ship and the most updated and advanced stabilizers we felt quite a bit of the oceans movement and we were informed that our seas were just moderate. Second, we did have a fantastic table team and a pleasant room attendant, however I was a somewhat disappointed by some of the general crew, I felt that if they don't work directly for tips then they may or may not be helpful. As for our meals, the food in the Windjammer was above average I'd say, with breakfast being the best, plenty to choose from including turkey sausage. We had second seating for dinner 8:30, this worked out well for us giving us time to enjoy the ports of call without having to rush back to the ship for dinner. We ate in the Columbus Room which is lovely and spacious. Most of our dinners were good with plenty of choices for entrees, I will say that our wait staff was most attentive and pleasant and we looked forward to dinner each night, mostly due to them. We hope to cruise again sometime and if so we will try Portofinos the italian restaurant onboard which charges a flat fee and take reservations, we talked to other passengers who said it was superb. As for the activities, our children being older found plenty to do, dodgeball, volleyball, putt putt and of course the rock wall was a hit. They did have one suggestion, that a meet and greet for the 14 to 17 passengers on the first night would have been helpful in making friends a little fasters. We only had four port of call on this cruise, St Thomas, St Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee. We did Blackbeard's Hill excursion on St Thomas and left it early to do shopping, time is was quite limited. So for the rest of our stops we opted to explore on our own, this worked best for us as we don't like tight schedules on a vacation. So as I close this review I do hope it offers you some insight, and I will say that as a family we have been fortunate to travel quite a bit and we are very glad that we added the cruising experience to our list. We would, and may indeed take another cruise with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
My husband and I booked this cruise for a long overdue getaway without our kids. We are 38-41 years old, and this was our 5th cruise. We flew from New Orleans to Newark the morning of departure. I was a little worried about flying in ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise for a long overdue getaway without our kids. We are 38-41 years old, and this was our 5th cruise. We flew from New Orleans to Newark the morning of departure. I was a little worried about flying in same day, but it worked out perfectly! When the plan landed (11am), we got our luggage, and hopped in a cab. Cab ride was $40 to Cape Liberty cruise port. Cab immediately drove up to unloading zone, porters took luggage, and we walked right into terminal. We zipped past the photographers, as we did not want our picture taken after a day of traveling. We had only about a 5 minute wait in line, then were checked in, and on a shuttle bus that took us to the ship. Within an hour from landing at the airport, we were in the Windjammer having lunch. So easy and fast! Our luggage arrived by 3pm, and we unpacked and went to explore ship. The ship is sooooo big! We were on for 9 days, and still did not see all of it! We found it to be well laid out, and easy to find your way around ship. Ports of call were great. Our first two stops went as planned. St. Thomas on Monday - we did the St. John Island tour, which I found to be a little boring. We were the youngest on the tour, on a hot safari-type bus, with a not-very-informative tour guide. It wasn't bad, just not that great. We expected more. The next day was St. Maarten - we booked a private tour with Joyce Prince. She was wonderful, so informative, personable, and flexible. We really enjoyed her and the tour, in nice roomy air conditioned comfort! I highly recommend her if she is available. We found out that afternoon that Tropical Storm Chris was out there, and San Juan, and Labadee were out. The ship was detoured north, and we were at sea on Wednesday, with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas on Thursday. We were disappointed that we would miss those ports because they were new to us, however, relieved that we would not be in the middle of a Tropical storm. We decided to visit the Atlantis resort on our own. The resort was beautiful, and we got to see most of it without a problem. There are some parts that cruise passengers are not allowed in. We headed back to the ship early that day because it was soooo hot! There were a few things that we were disappointed in. They were minor, but I will mention them, as well as some really enjoyable points of cruise: Bed in our room was very uncomfortable! On the 2nd day, we asked for an egg crate foam topper, and our room steward - "Happy Randy" (he was wonderful!)got us one. It was not much help at all, and woke up with our backs hurting every day. RCCL could really use some upgrades in the bedding! As this was our first cruise in the summertime, we were not use to the large number of teens on board. Pool deck was impossible to get a chair, and lots of "chair holding", which is not suppose to be allowed, made it very difficult to enjoy pool deck. Solarium (adult only area) was not much better, very crowded and impossible to get a chair. We gave up on using the pools by mid-week, and just used the spa area whirlpools, sauna and steam rooms. They were never crowded. Production shows were a bit boring. There were 3 different shows on this cruise. The first one we sat thru, but could not wait for it to be over. The second one, we decided to give it another try, but left after about 10 minutes. The third one we skipped all together. On the other hand, we really enjoyed all the guest entertainers. There were several, and they were all pretty good. Also, don't miss Quest, the late night adult scavenger hunt - this was a blast! Ice skating show is wonderful and not to be missed! Food and dining were great. We ate breakfast in the Windjammer daily. Lunch was usually in the dining room, although we ate in the Windjammer a few times for lunch also. Dinner was in the dining room every night. Food was good. If there is anything you don't like, just ask for something else, and they will gladly accommodate. Great service in all areas. Also loved Cafe Promenade, where you could get coffee anytime, and sandwiches, cookies, desserts. Johnny Rockets was wonderful! Cruise director was great, and very entertaining. Entire staff went out of their way to be friendly and helpful! Always a greeting when passing in the hall, etc. Debarkation was a bit slow, but we were the first group off the ship at 9:00 am. Finding your luggage in the terminal is very chaotic, and this is an area that Bayonne should definitely work on improving. It took us about 20 minutes to find our luggage, in a crowd full of rushing, aggravated New Yorkers! After we got luggage, we quickly got a cab, and were back to the airport with time to spare for our 12 noon flight. All in all, this was an enjoyable cruise. Beautiful ship, with lots of amenities. Great for travel with kids. If you are a couple and want adult time, do not go in the summertime. This was the biggest drawback for us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was our third cruise and the best!. We drove to the terminal and as the car mounted a hill we suddenly saw the ship in the distance! It was so exciting; we were like little kids in anticipation. Check-in was extremely swift and ... Read More
This was our third cruise and the best!. We drove to the terminal and as the car mounted a hill we suddenly saw the ship in the distance! It was so exciting; we were like little kids in anticipation. Check-in was extremely swift and efficient and soon we were on a shuttle bus for a short ride to the ship. We went in a large family/friend group-there were 18 of us. I always consider the time between boarding the ship and sail-away as the most exciting of a cruise. We were altogether on the pool deck as the ship sailed away. Food: I have no complaints-all meals were excellent; I love the Windjammer Buffet-almost continuous serving and plenty of delicious things to eat. The only drawback would be crowding at times during breakfast/lunch. The main dining room was great with wonderful wait staff: our waiter was Abisha and his assistant was Joanne; very pleasant and professional. We ate at Johnny Rockets=good food and fun too! Cabin steward was John-no complaints here-very considerate to small things and very friendly. Entertainment: we did not frequent the shows, but rather enjoyed just strolling the Royal Promenade and taking in all it has to offer. There were so many neat lounges to have a cocktail in-our favorite was Dizzy's where we would meet each evening for get together before dinner. The pool deck was great-plenty of room for anyone. We went on a tour of the oceanographic/atmospheric labs-very interesting. Ports of call: St Thomas was very beautiful-some of us went on excursions and others explored on our own. My wife and daughter went to Megan's Bay Beach and found it to be paradise. St Maarten was my favorite. I went to Great Bay Beach with my daughter and spent the afternoon there watching my son have a blast with the jet ski; my wife went on a motor-coach tour of the island. San Juan-we did the Bacardi/City excursion and saw and learned a lot about Puerto Rico and rum making. Labadee was the most beautiful tropical paradise. Mountains coming down to the sea, exquisite. As we sailed away from Labadee around 5pm on thursday the 20th, my son spotted a ship wreck-half sunken-on the other side of the resort! Cabin: I had a cabin with my son and my wife shared a cabin with my daughter down the hall. They were inside cabins and looked out upon the Royal Promenade-we loved the view. Perhaps the best part of a cruise is being on a ship at sea. I was never happier or more relaxed because I had my entire family with me in a safe and wonderful place-away from the madness of the world. It is like being totally detached from everything. Debarkation: We had breakfast before leaving the ship; it was orderly, although we had to wait a while before we could park our car in one of the bays to load our luggage. We are already planning our next cruise!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was the very first cruise for both me and my 18 year old daughter. We booked our cruise on Royal Caribbean through a large agency and had no problem whatsoever. Embarkation was so smooth. We arrived at 11:30 AM, a porter took our ... Read More
This was the very first cruise for both me and my 18 year old daughter. We booked our cruise on Royal Caribbean through a large agency and had no problem whatsoever. Embarkation was so smooth. We arrived at 11:30 AM, a porter took our luggage and within 10 minutes we were onboard. Our jaws dropped (literally) when we got our first glimpse of the interior of the ship from a glass elevator. The beauty and elegance of the interior was stunning. Since our cabin wasnt ready yet (because we arrived early) we had lunch in the Windjammer Cafe and wandered around the ship to get our bearings. We had an inside cabin (8511) and were completely satisfied with it. It was a perfect room for 2 people and we had plenty of space for all our belongings. The location of the cabin was in the front of the ship on the 8th floor. We had no problems with sound and only had one room next to us. I would absolutely choose this room again. I had already talked to other cruisers from this site and we were to identify each other by wearing beads. As the ship set sail we meet up with our fellow Cruise Critic members and had a wonderful time getting to know each other by our screen names and real names. It was a great way to begin our voyage. The first night at dinner, my daughter and I were seated at a table for four. By the next night, we were able to get a table of eight with friends we had met on board. The food was excellent and the presentation of it was beautiful. Our wait staff catered to our every need and did so with a smile. We enjoyed the times with the waiters would parade around and entertain us. Dinner was so superb that we decided not to miss a meal even when we were at port. We had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Cafe because it was more expedient than sitting down in the main dining room. The few times we did have breakfast and/or lunch in the main dining room it was an elegant affair and the food was excellent. Our first port of call was St. Thomas. We decided to go shopping instead of going on an excursion. We took a taxi for four dollars and went into the heart of the shopping district. It was great fun going from store to store to look for bargains. We decided to walk back to the ship and we were glad we did. We were able to take beautiful pictures of the ship at port and of the local wildlife (wild iguanas and pelicans). St. Maarten was a second port of call. We chose to go on an excursion (Power Snorkeling) which was off Orient Beach on the French side of the island. The bus trip from the Dutch side to the French side was very educational. You truly get an idea of how the people live on the island. The snorkeling was great fun. A mask, snorkel, fins, and vest were provided for each guest (although we brought our own gear) and then we straddled a banana boat (a big inflatable yellow raft) to a small island just off the beach. There we were given a small submersible power motor that jetted us over the coral reefs to a buoy further away where we could feed the fish that began to follow us. The water was warm and with the most aqua color that I had ever seen; the jewel of the Caribbean. After returning to the Explorer we ate lunch and met up with friends to go shopping. Like St. Thomas, St. Maarten has some great stores which were a lot of fun to investigate. St. Maarten takes 3 currencies: Dutch, French euro, and US dollars. I had some euros left over from a trip to Europe last year which I was able to spend in the shops. Our third port was San Juan, Puerto Rico. We met with friends and went on an excursion to the El Yunque Rain Forest. The bus trip was long but well worth it as we climbed over 2000 feet about sea level. We stopped at the Coco Waterfall which was once believed to be the Fountain of Youth. We walked through the forest on a trail that led to trees with enormous leaves and learned about the Weather Tree (a tree that changes color from green to white when the weather gets bad). We stopped at the Yohaku observation tower where you could have a panoramic view of the mountains and lowlands. Labadee, Haiti was our fourth port. Imagine a deserted island that was all yours to explore, or swim, or just lounge around on. I did some snorkeling and found a sunken airplane. I dove down 20 or so feet and examined the inside of the cockpit. There I saw large, brightly colored blue fish that had made their home inside the plane. Awesome!!! We walked through the local trade market and made our purchases by bargaining with them. It was a lot of fun even though the traders could get pushy at times. A local dance troupe put on a show with specialized dancing, acrobats, and even a fire eater. Lunch was prepared for us by the ship on Labadee which consisted of a barbecue with various fixings and salads. This was the perfect way to end a perfect vacation. There were many things to do while on the Explorer, so much so that we didnt get to do half the things we wanted. Between going to Karaoke night, the Casino, the Chamber (my daughters favorite place) and lounging in the sun, our days and nights were filled. The Explorer had enough to do for all types of travelers from off Broadway shows to just catching the local comedian, from sports activities lounging around the pool. Every day and night was filled with adventure and fun. Next year Im going with my husband and I cant wait. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006

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