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

Let me start by saying that this was my first cruise on any Royal Caribbean ship. I took this cruise since I wanted something different, and special for my birthday. I have mostly only cruised NCL, or Carnival. That being said, all the new ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this was my first cruise on any Royal Caribbean ship. I took this cruise since I wanted something different, and special for my birthday. I have mostly only cruised NCL, or Carnival. That being said, all the new features like "dynamic dining" were not so new to me since they have almost the same thing on NCL. I like Carnival's "your time dining", but I'll get to that later. First things first: Embarkation: This was also my first time leaving out of Bayonne (Cape Liberty). I'm used to the craziness at the Manhattan cruise terminal. After checking our bags out front, my best friend, and I waited in a long line to get through security. Even though the terminal was much cleaner, you'd think it would be better organized. The security line was long, and confusing. They were telling us you can get in any line, after the fact, and it seemed like forever to go through the scanner. Luckily, once we got through, check in was a breeze. They moved us to our "check in time" line, scanned our documents with an iPad, and we went right to the line to board the ship. Five minutes later, we were on board! Ship Information: All I got to say is "wow"! This is a classy, big, ship! I love a brand new ships. I remember first getting on the NCL Breakaway. This ship is so much nicer! All the artwork, and common areas. They are tastefully decorated. The shopping area, the cool bars, the theater... it was all so shiny, and new. This is a classy, tasteful, elegant, ship. I'm big on checking out new ships, and RCI really wowed me with the Quantum class. Activities/Entertainment: There is a lot to do on this ship, in the form of entertainment. They have a lot of different shows (like Mama Mia, and Star Water). Don't miss the big shows. They are great! Star Water is beautiful, graceful singing, and dancing show. The graphics in 270 are state of the art. Mama Mia is fun for everyone! Lots of live music, singing, and dancing shows (plus lessons). They kept trivia, (not my thing), but it seems like they have removed a lot of the cheesy pool side contests. Our cruise director, Ken, actually added 2 in one day because they were in high demand. I'm guessing they used to have a lot more pool side activities, but have removed them (except the calypso band) as a test run for the new market? They are always fun to watch, but I don't participate. They always have them on NCL, or Carnival. Not having them, and the lack of theme nights like the other cruise lines seemed premature, and stuffy. Sure, I don't like the really loud music when I'm resting on the pool deck, but wow, no hairy guy contest? Glad they at least had the belly flop one. The outdoor movies were dull. Didn't watch any at all. For sure, check out the bumper cars, and North Star. They were working on this cruise. Check the flyer for times. I didn't try iFly, but a lot of people said it was fun. They had dance music, sometimes, at night. The crowd on this ship seemed 50+, hardly any kids, so I guess they figured they didn't have to run the club every night. I like to club at night when I cruise, so that was sort of a bust. No parties at night. Big minus. A big plus though, if they have Beatlemania Live on your cruise, go see them. It was so cool! Service: They service on the ship was overall good. They were a few spots that need adjusting. They have good service in the shops. The bars also had good service. I was impressed with the service at the buffet. Most of the restaurants had good service (especially the pay ones), except for two. The front desk was touch, and go. Sometimes they were friendly, and helpful, and sometimes you'd get a snippy one. I was being as nice as I could, really. They kept messing up on our sea pass bill. I recommend you keep an eye on it the whole time. Even our housekeeper was at times, not so friendly. I'll get into that in the next part. Cabin: Well, let's just say I love the new cabins! So much space! We had a superior view balcony, and it was a little bigger than most. So much storage space in the room! The bathroom was average size, but it was very modern. It was decorated very tastefully. Very spacious. They only drawback to this room was housekeeping. Yes, she kept the room clean. However, the minute we set foot in the bathroom, we noticed there was no toilet paper, or tissue. I had to dig around, and find a box of tissues. We tried calling housekeeping, no answer. She finally introduced herself, and we asked for toilet paper. We didn't get any till 2 hours after the muster drill. She seemed new. You have to ask for ice in the room, and she seemed confused when we asked for anything. There were only towel animals 4 out of 10 days. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt cause she was new, but watch out if you get a trainee for a long cruise. Dining: Okay this is where a lot of people complain on the new Quantum class. Like I said in the beginning, I'm part of the new school. I don't care where I sit as long as I can eat when I want, and still get good service. The NCL Breakaway took time to improve on it's "free-style" dining. So this "dynamic" dining, I figured it was just like free-style. I booked ahead of time a different restaurant every night, just like on NCL. However, if I wanted to eat at a little earlier time, we just went ahead. They had the reservation. We basically got to eat when we wanted. I treated it more like "your time" dining, which I like on Carnival. We had no problem, or long wait to be seated. Maybe since it was only 2 of us? They only restaurants I must complain about are American Icon Grill, and Silk. Terrible service, and the food not up to par like the other restaurants. My friend asked for ketchup, and mustard the first night for her burger at American Icon Grill, and it took 30 min, and the manager to finally deliver it. At Silk, the second time we ate there, the server seemed a little rude when I asked about switching an item. Very snarky. The food wasn't that great either. I do recommend Chops Grill ($), or Chic, or Grand (free). The other restaurants are pretty good, too, like Jaime Oliver's (try the anti pasta platter). At the buffet, and I was impressed by this, they actually had servers come around and bring you drinks like water, coffee, or juice. This was great! I didn't have to get up, and get it myself. LOL Really, the buffet was really nice. Lots of selection, and wide open space to walk around. The lines moved quick. Way better than the buffets on NCL, or Carnival. You can get breakfast, and lunch, at the 270 cafe. Great for a quick bite. Of course, they have a for pay Starbucks, but the pizza is free, and open for 20 out of 24 hours. DON'T waste your time at Johnny Rocket's. It's not the same as on other ships. It's small, and I felt, overpriced for fries. Get a burger, and fries for free at the Windjammer. Port & Shore Excursions: Unfortunately, we missed out first stop in Puerto Rico. I hadn't been there yet, so it was a bust for me. We had to cruise slowly, and take a different path because of a storm. They were nice enough to give us free wi-fi for the 10 days (don't ask me how much it regularly costs), so it was nice to post on Facebook throughout the cruise. They also gave us 2 extra hours at each of the other ports, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. St. Thomas was fun. Take a taxi to the shopping area, check the views out from the Skyride, and for sure go the Megan's Bay beach. Just hope you don't have many ships at port. We had a Carnival, and a Disney. Yup, the beach was crowded! St. Kitts was alright. Not much to do. Just walked around the shopping area. We did, however, take a cruiseline approved zip line excursion there. Wow! So much fun! We were way high up in the jungle. We really got a workout, and an adrenaline rush! St. Maarten, I love so much. Stayed there a week on a resort a few years back. Yes, you have to go to Maho beach, and watch planes fly over you! Hold on to the fence, if you dare! The jet blast is a total rush! For a more safer, but fun, time, take a taxi to the main shopping area of Philpsburg. So much great shopping! They really cleaned St. Maarten up. It looks a lot cleaner, and safer. Disembarkation: We took our luggage off ourselves. We were among the first out. They had us wait in 270, then line up, and we got out quickly. Passport control was a breeze. It was so cold outside! Crazy snow. The port workers were nice enough to put out heat lamps while we waited outside. A lot better service than at the Manhattan terminal. Summary: In conclusion, would I go on another Royal Caribbean ship again? You bet I'll be saving for the Anthem on the Seas. This cruise was a bit more expensive than the NCL, or Carnival ships I go on. A lot more classier, too. I did have to splurge for my birthday, after all. For me, it was worth it. Maybe because I am new to RCI I don't see the difference in dinning options, but at least the food was way better than NCL, or Carnival. I guess the only things I did miss that they still have on the other cruise lines are, the pen and paper they leave in your room. The wacky contests. The parties. The popcorn!!! There was no popcorn. I missed that. I think they should listen to their customers feedback (like my friend who introduced me to RCI, and is Emerald now). It seemed like the Crown and Anchor program previously had a lot more perks. Only 1 free booze party? Even NCL had two, and I'm only silver in their program. So, hopefully, they work out the kinks, and take into account that we love the ship, but not so much the drastic changes. Glad they brought a few back on this cruise, and will hopefully fix their system by the time the Anthem rolls out. BTW: the wi-fi did work most of the time. Didn't really have a problem with it. Even the app got an update, and was working better on this cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We are Diamond Plus members. We knew this was a new ship so we kept it in perspective.  There were tech issues, however non impacted our trip. Checkin took about an hour.  The ship is spectacular. We liked Dynamic Dining and the new menu ... Read More
We are Diamond Plus members. We knew this was a new ship so we kept it in perspective.  There were tech issues, however non impacted our trip. Checkin took about an hour.  The ship is spectacular. We liked Dynamic Dining and the new menu was great.  Entertainment was over the top good! The crew went above and beyond to overcome any of the technical issues. We are back on the ship in February and expect that most of the glitches will be solved. RCL will get this right. Have some patience and keep things in perspective.  Your cruise is what you make it. The people hammering this ship are not being fair.  This is the best ship in the world! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Where should i start.Getting into cape liberty was a mess. I think it was because a lot of people were beinging dropped off. They presented a traffic problem. We have cruise six or seven times out of Cape Liberty and never experienced this ... Read More
Where should i start.Getting into cape liberty was a mess. I think it was because a lot of people were beinging dropped off. They presented a traffic problem. We have cruise six or seven times out of Cape Liberty and never experienced this much of a problem. The ship was hit by a rouge wave, no one was hurt and it was handled well. We lost two life boats. The captain kept us well informed The menu was suppose to be different each night. But it did not live up to RCCl quality. The shows were good.Although this crowd did not like Lead Zeplin. Now for our cruise director the TURK wonderful, wonderful. After 47 cruises on different cruise lines, he was the best. His partner was really in tune with him. Now getting off the ship took three hours, a lot of people missed their flights at 1:30. We were lucky i booked ours at 5:20, so we were alright. BIA Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
I just returned from the 9 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas, and my family and I (husband, daughters ages 9 and 6) had an amazing time. My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises (Royal, Celebrity, Carnival and ... Read More
I just returned from the 9 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas, and my family and I (husband, daughters ages 9 and 6) had an amazing time. My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises (Royal, Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian) and the kids are veterans as well, once or twice a year since they were babies. I especially felt the need to write this after reading negative reviews already (we just got back 2 days ago), and wondering how these people could be on the same cruise! Was it perfect? Of course not, but we are the type of cruisers that don't let little things "ruin our entire cruise!" A few things that we weren't crazy about: 1. The Windjammer was way too crowded at certain times, like the hour before arriving in port, which happened to us a couple of times. Also, although there was a wide variety of food, it never changed. On other cruises there might be a section that changed each day with a taco bar, pasta bar, etc. but nothing like that here. We were saying that it seems that Royal already realized that it wasn't big enough and fixed it on the Freedom class ships, but that didn't help us of course! We did eat in the dining room for breakfast a couple of times, and Johnny Rockets for lunch once, and they were really good. 2. The itinerary was great, and we enjoyed every port, but there was hardly enough time to do anything in St. Martin and San Juan, unless you did a shore excursion. We had a wonderful time in both ports though, shopping in both, although we were in San Juan so early that the only stores that were open were the ones on the shopping map. And that's about it. The rest of the cruise was amazing! I think the ship was in amazing shape, the carpets need to be replaced, they just have that permanent dirt from all of those years of use, and I guess we were lucky that our TV was a flatscreen, it was only used for the kids to watch when we were all getting ready for dinner. We had an ocean view on deck 2, with beds off the wall for the kids. Our cabin steward Anak was the best we have had as far as we can remember. He was always asking if we needed anything, and if we did, it was taken care of right away. He kept the room neat(quite a task with the four of us in there!), it was done basically as soon as we left the room. I cannot say enough good things about him! We did have a little problem at first with dinner, but it ended up working out beautifully. We had confirmed early seating up until the day we cruised. Then we get our seapass cards and it says My Time Dining. When my husband asked about it, they told him that we got bumped, they just booked too many early seating passengers. So then he said that he wanted to make a reservation for 6 that night, he was told that they couldn't do that for that night, all they had was 7:45. He made a reservation for 6 the next night, and we just decided to deal with the 7:45. There was no Adventure Ocean the first night anyway, and we wouldn't have to rush out of the sailaway party, where the kids were in the pool. It was fine, and worked out. The next day we got a card saying that they were able to put us in early seating. My husband went to ask about it and was told that we were at a table for 10. This got us really nervous, because although my kids know what they are doing on cruises and are well behaved at dinner, we all know that there are people that hate kids on cruises. It turns out that we were with a family with teenagers and a 5 year old, and they ended up being some of the best tablemates we've ever had. And we had a great spot right in the middle of the bottom deck, right next to the captains table. On the ship we were walking advertisements for Royal Caribbean and all of the activities they are known for- we played mini golf twice, ice skated twice, my kids made great use of the Adventure Beach water slide, and my older daughter did the rock wall. Both kids loved Adventure Ocean too. My husband and I got a couples massage, and while we loved it of course, we did this on Carnival last year, and both agreed that it was better there. I also did not like the pressure we got to buy products- they do at every spa, but other times, they have made their recommendations, then left and said to bring what I wanted to the receptionist. This time she stared at us and asked if we were buying. I told her I wanted to check the seapass bill first and we'd be back. My husband and I spent most of our kid-free nights at the casino, but we did see the ice show and one of the production shows. I loved the music all around the ship. My husband got the premium drink package, and since we are diamond members, I got my three free drinks each night. I had one issue on the last night, where I was at a table at the casino, and when I ordered my drink it was 8:25, and I even made a joke about just making it, but when the server came back I was charged, it seems that by the time she took the rest of the orders and got to the bar, it was after 8:30. I'm sure I could have gone to the bar and made a stink, but it was the last night and time was running out before I had to get the kids, so I let it go. It was just a beer anyway. So as I said it was an amazing cruise, and now my kids are insisting on Royal for the next one, specifically one with an ice rink. That is fine with us, because it was such a wonderful family vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We arrived in NJ the day before the blizzard. Reservations were made through Stay123 at the Crowne Plaza in Elizabeth. It is a lovely property. Service was excellent. Our rate included parkiing for the cruise. I really don't ... Read More
We arrived in NJ the day before the blizzard. Reservations were made through Stay123 at the Crowne Plaza in Elizabeth. It is a lovely property. Service was excellent. Our rate included parkiing for the cruise. I really don't understand the reviews I've seen on this hotel. Recommend it to anyone. We arranged transportation through Abdoul at Independent Driver. He was fantastic. Got us safely to the pier under the worst of driving conditions. Embarkation was no picnic. The most disorganized mess we've ever experienced -- compounded by the passengers who would not sit down (despite repeated announcements to do so). They were determined to stand at the front and down the isles, making it impossible to move when a boarding number was called. We were seated in the terminal from 11:30 to 2:00. Made it to the Cafe Promenade for lunch just before it closed at 2:30/3:00. Now, there is no getting around the fact that this was a difficult cruise. Both for the passengers and for the Captain/Crew. Our inside cabin on deck 7 was kept immaculate by Bonnie each day. With so many passengers sick beginning the evening of 1/22, the cabin stewards did a remarkable job. At one point there was a bit of a linen shortage. But they kept smiling and doing their job. When crew members were not working, they were sanitizing. They seemed to be working around the clock. Officers cleaned and sanitized tables in the Windjammer, a musician manned the salad bar, a delightful HR officer served up hamburgers and hot dogs. One of the ice skaters handed out plates and silverware. It was a difficult set of circumstances; they had to pitch in and they did with a smile. Have to say I admire the Captain and how he handled everything. He scheduled a meeting with passengers, At the end of the meeting, he summarized the points that passengers made, then discussed those points with Corporate. He also made himself available to passengers in the Promenade several times to answer questions or listen to them vent. Announcements were made when there was information to pass on. Out of four, three of us became ill. Do we blame RCCL -- of course not. This was an unfortunate incident that could not have been foreseen. What's amazing, given the outbreak, is that some passengers argued against using the Purell. But it was either use the Purell or not be served. We were able to eat in the dining room four nights. It was our good fortune to have Nicole and Errol taking good care of us those nights. They were wonderful. Dinner on our first formal night (second night of the cruise) was absolutely delicious -- sliced filet of beef. Unfortunately, that's the night everyone got sick. Dinner for the next several nights was odds and ends from the Windjammer. All of our group wasn't up to eating in the dining room until the following Monday night. The quality wasn't there on either Monday or Tuesday. Of the four ports, we only visited San Juan and St. Thomas. In San Juan, we were able to enjoy a wonderful tour thanks to Victor from Countryside Tours. He provided us with an "off the beaten path" tour of his wonderful city. It was a very special experience. We made the best of a bad situation. It was definitely a making lemonade out of lemons situation. We managed to have some fun despite it all. And, the compensation from RCCL was adequate. One thing however -- we will never, ever cruise out of Bayonne (Cape Liberty) again. It was that much of an unpleasant experience.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was an enjoyable cruise, overall, so most problems listed below were not the fault of RCCL. We were 4 single women - over 60 - booked on Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean. Ship info explained that ... Read More
This was an enjoyable cruise, overall, so most problems listed below were not the fault of RCCL. We were 4 single women - over 60 - booked on Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean. Ship info explained that parking was available close to ship. There was a parking lot adjacent to the terminal which provided excellent service with ample parking. However, there were several private parking lots available and we went to one of them. Parking + Embarkation: We went to the private lot and arrived at 11:30am. We waited on line for 1hr and 45min for a shuttle to the pier. That ride was 30min because the jam up at the port was abominable. There was a huge tent-like structure with passengers leaving from the previous cruise to get into shuttles or other waiting vehicles. There were also cars lining up for our cruise to drop off people and luggage. Then there was our shuttle from the parking lot waiting in line to get through this mess and into a spot where we were finally able to get off and check in our luggage. Then check-in was easy, but we were astounded to learn that we had to take our carry-ons and ride another shuttle to the ship. Ship is very old - needs lots of repair. Furniture in cabin is old and stained, many stains on carpeting in cabins and hallways. Found sticky and dusty areas, as well. The balcony had dirty glass and there was a lot of rust along the railing The sliding door to the balcony had hand prints on the glass the entire time we were there. We had several days of bad weather and very rough seas.Food: I found the dinner selections in the dining room were fewer in number than I've seen on previous cruises. The quality of the food was mediocre. However,service in the dining room was excellent. The Windjammer at lunchtime seemed to have very little variety from day to day. The dining room at lunchtime had an excellent salad bar and a large menu. Entertainment: Very good nightly shows and many evening activities, which we enjoyed. Staff: Cruise director and his staff were excellent. Dining room staff and cabin stewards were very attentive to our needs. Disembarkation: On previous cruises, everyone was off the ship by 10am because we went from gangway to terminal,luggage pickup, customs, and off the ship. This process allowed all passengers to disembark before the next embarkation began. However, once again, the process was slowed down by having passengers come off the ship and ride a shuttle back to the terminal. Therefore we didn't disembark until 11am, with still more passengers after us. once at the terminal, luggage pickup and customs were quick.Shuttle: After finally getting luggage and going through customs, we were on line for 2 hours waiting for the shuttle back to our parking lot. Finally: Cape Liberty needs to be redone. The signage into the port needs to be improved. Vehicle entry procedure nedds a radical change. One suggestion would be separate areas for incoming and outgoing passengers, as well as separate lines for shuttles, vehicles dropping off or picking up passengers, and vehicles going to the terminal parking facility. If the ship were docked adjacent to the terminal, there would be no need for shuttles, thereby speeding up embarkation and disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013

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