62 Bayonne (Cape Liberty) Fitness Cruise Reviews

Cruising used to be a special experience, and an escape from everyday life. Every need was anticipated and fulfilled, and you experienced new and wonderful things. Sadly, I rarely felt this way on this cruise. It began with an awful ... Read More
Cruising used to be a special experience, and an escape from everyday life. Every need was anticipated and fulfilled, and you experienced new and wonderful things. Sadly, I rarely felt this way on this cruise. It began with an awful embarkation in a Bayonne warehouse (picture a bus station with 1970's technology). Throughout the cruise we were continuously reminded that "special" was defined by Royal Caribbean as paying extra, or having gold member status (don't go there, that's for the gold members...). Advertising on board was shameless, to the point where you couldn't sit anywhere without having to move a cardboard sign out of your way. Many of the key service staff could only speak from a script, and knowledge about the ship's activities or destination was limited to what he cruise line sold. As a fellow cruiser said to me during the trip, "They're a very secretive company." The food was fair, but I eat better at home. The ship was clean, but the space was as cramped and awkward to move through as I've ever experienced on a cruise. There were many dead-ends, blocked exits, and pinch points as crowds tried to move through the common areas. I'm surprised that this cruise line came to us so highly recommended. It felt like an airline journey, and we had to work hard to find fun and fun people. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Just completed our 24th cruise with Celebrity (out of 30 or so - I've lost track). The more you cruise, the more you come to understand the kind of product a cruise line strives to offer and how the product is delivered. One quick ... Read More
Just completed our 24th cruise with Celebrity (out of 30 or so - I've lost track). The more you cruise, the more you come to understand the kind of product a cruise line strives to offer and how the product is delivered. One quick comment on the cruiser''s comment above who neededva gluten free diet due to Celiac Disease. I wonder if this condition was mentioned in advance and the need for a gluten free diet identified to Celebrity Staff? I am confident this would have been addressed if staff had known. Yes, the ship is old - 13y old. Refurbished 4y ago. This is why guests can pay as little as $500 for a 7d cruise, meals included. If you want to sail newer ships, it's easy to book the Solstice class ships. On the food. I believe you will find the negative comments made in this critique to be among a small minority who complain about the food. Remember, this is a cruise ship serving 1600 or so meals at the same time, multiple times during the day. Regular dining is not 5 star dining. Normandy is and I felt like this cruiser got what she what she looking for there. Moving on. I think most of the lines have similarity but each of them (RCL, NCL, MSC, Carnival among the others I have sailed with) do have a niche. I call it their individual cultures. Obviously, Celebrity's appeals to me or I would not have been as loyal as I have been over the 12 years I've been cruising. The point? Cruisers are going to have different tastes. Different things they are looking for in this style of vacation. I'm going to try to describe what I think goes on in that department with Celebrity Cruise Line. Maybe I can provide some insight that will help you select a cruise. In my opinion, what line you choose to cruise with is as important to your overall experience as all the other factors - price, itinerary, timing and so forth. We are, as you might expect, within what I think is one of many target populations for Celebrity. 60s, mostly retired, lots of time to cruise. I have found, however, having talked with couples in their 30s and with kids, that Celebrity has very very good programs for families with children. There were many families and children on this cruise. They seemed to be having as much fun as we were having and all of the kids were well behaved. Which means, the Moms and Dads on this cruise are good parents who have control of their kids. Something you may be looking for if you are cruising as a family. I didn't see any bad actors. So, while this review is indirectly about Summit's 7 day summer itinerary from Bayonne NJ to Bermuda and back, it's more about what you are going to be immersed in if you choose Celebrity Cruise Lines for you vacations from the perspective of the older traveler without kids traveling with us. First know that what part of the world you are cruising in, who the Captain and senior hotel and restaurant staff are, have a lot to do with what the ship you are on feels like, what kind of vibe it gives off. So does the length of the cruise. But fundamentally, Celebrity tries to create a repeatable experience on all of its ships. That is a corporate goal from what I understand about it from senior staff I have spoken to while aboard. That experience is sophisticated, relaxed and full service. You do nothing but show up and enjoy life aboard ship the way you like it. X-ceptional service has to be at the top of the Top 10 list of what corporate wants guests to experience. Celebrity touts it in its advertising. The repeatability, in all of its ships, of this aspect of cruising with Celebrity that I have experienced compared to other lines I have sailed with makes me believe this. Again, from what I hear from all levels of ship's company aboard Celebrity ships, corporate invests in its employees and works hard to train, advance them in a certain career path and retain them. High retention rates of happy employees produces happy, satisfied guests. No smart corporation selling anything doesn't try to do this, it's just that some do it a lot better than others. Celebrity is one of the better ones in doing it. Service doesn't just happen. It happens because of a corporate commitment to it, not just lip service, and when excellent leadership from senior staff is present. So, it seems obvious to me that Celebrity works to develop this important characteristic in its employees from the start. Motivated, intelligent and loyal staff are identified early and advanced. I think that is why so many Eastern Europeans, Phillipinoes, Indonesians and Indians, to name just a few counties where advancement in that business culture is based on who you know and who your family is, want jobs with Celebrity. They can live the American dream. You work hard and with integrity, you will succeed. It is not uncommon to find crew who have been with Celebrity for 15-20 years going back to Celebrity's early beginnings. They retire from Celebrity. We repeatedly renew acquaintances with restaurant staff especially, who we see over and over again but on different cruises and different ships. First knowing them as Assistant Waiters, some years later they are running the dinning rooms. I think corporate embraces that kind if thing and is quite loyal to its employees. These kinds of things produce the kind of welcoming similes,tireless effort on your behalf and uncompromising service you will find from the crew on all Celebrity ships. This is an important ingredient in creating a culture aboard ship, a product, that keeps cruisers returning for more. You know this is coming from corporate headquarters and it filters down. I'm pretty sure, the big boys strive to make that so through the officers it selects and promotes to run its 11 ships, including the 2 Azamara ships. It's working. You will also see a lot of team building going on if you look for it. That's another staple term in business these days. Celebrity gets it while others don't and the end result are these sort of memorable events or experiences from shows to entertainment around the ship to dining to fitness to ports and excursions to what Celebrity brands as its Life programs. Team leaders work to get employees to buy into their particular product whether it is food, fitness or entertainment. They are engaged and therefore what they present is theirs, they own it, and the net result is a terrific cruise experience. On this particular cruise, we met a couple at our table in the main dining room who we dined with in Normandy, Summits single specialty restaurant present before Solticization and now among three after it. I have always had good experiences with Celebrity dining but this Normandy dinner took the prize. Why? Because of one chef, Marijan from Macedonia, who runs the place. He is the product of Celebrity's system of career advancement, reflects the culture of impeccable service Celebrity wants to project and people like this are why we keep returning to this particular cruise line. I was unaware of this hierarchy among restaurant staff until this cruise but those designated as chef, also in various ranks that I cannot recall, are at the top of the restaurant/food services heap. Chef Marrijan started with Celebrity in 1998. He was a utility kitchen cleaner and has risen to the top since starting. All the table service is provided in Normandy by chefs. These are not your usual waiters in the Cosmopolitan, Summit's main dining room, also excellent. You will see these excellent chefs during the day managing other food services on the ship and then finding themselves in the evenings doing what they love. Serving guests with unparalleled, five star fine dining. Same with the wines. Those serving guests in Normandy are the Masters among Sommeliers. I love wines but I'm not into expensive ones finding plenty of very good wine under $15 retail. Of course I have no expectation for that aboard Celebrity ships. You are going to get restaurant prices for those $10-$15 wines and that means $28-$32 is going to be the low end price point per bottle. I rarely buy an expensive wine and that for me is more than $50 while I'm cruising. Well,I paid $65 being charmed into it by the knowledge and savior fare of this particular Cellar Master, Anna ......... Celebrity has to love employees like this. I did not in the least bit feel pressured to buy this wine. It just matched perfectly with the Chateau Briand I was having and the Lobster Tail or Duck others ordered. She knew that, she delivered for the team ably lead by the head Normandy chef, Marijan Maybe it was just the chemistry between ourselves and the Normandy staff and we are very friendly folks but I had more fun in this specialty dining experience than I have had on any ship. Yes, the wine helped. The lobster was prepared table side by Marijan. So was the flamed desert crepes. I can highly recommend The Normandy aboard Summit. Make a special occasion just for the two of you and if you are vacationing aboard ship with kids under 14 or so, who are not likely to appreciate a fine dining experience like this, leave them with the program staff. You can do this as long as they are loving the program, and my information leads me to believe most of them do love it, so, just do it. We also love the production shows on Celebrity. Over the years they have just gotten better from a talent and production standpoint. First rate and definitely a big part of the really exceptional vacation experience on Celebrity ships. I work hard to maintain the same level of fitness cruising as I do while I'm at home. Know that Steiner, a separate fitness and spa company in Europe, runs the fitness and spa facilities on Celebrity ships. Over the years, I've felt like the fitness experience declined under Steiner's management. To my surprise, a lot of the things I disliked - pushing useless products, hyping treatments and fitness that are more show than something with a sound exercise physiology basis, charging a fee for fitness classes that had previously been provided at no cost-that sort of thing, are being de-emphasized and there is a noticeable return to free fitness classes and a real effort to offer useful nutrition and exercise information to cruisers. I think Steiner listened to criticism and possibly under some pressure from Celebrity is working to deliver what cruisers interested in fitness are asking for. The addition of Zumba, this done by the Celebrity Activity staff, not Steiner, is also a welcome addition for those that enjoy this fitness activity. It is very popular aboard and the time spots allocated to it a couple of times a day are packed with Zumba enthusiasts. I don't avail myself of spa services. I think they are over priced and this is not just on Celebrity. This has gotten way too long but it will give you a good idea what Celbrity ships are all about. We have sailed most of them except Azamara Expedition and the two new Solstice class ships. Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My wife and I just returned from the August 18 sailing to Bermuda on the Celebrity Summit. This was our third cruise and our third time on Celebrity. Each of the previous cruises was wonderful and this one did not disappoint. We could not ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the August 18 sailing to Bermuda on the Celebrity Summit. This was our third cruise and our third time on Celebrity. Each of the previous cruises was wonderful and this one did not disappoint. We could not have asked for a better experience. EMBARKATION: We selected this cruise because we wanted a relaxing vacation. Our last few trips have included a lot of driving and sightseeing, usually followed by a long drive or flight back home --- after which we always feel like we need another vacation. We live in Staten Island which is only a few minutes from the port at Cape Liberty. On Sunday, the 18th, we took a car service to Bayonne and arrived at about 10:45 AM. The embarkation process was very easy. We dropped our bags off and took the short shuttle ride to the terminal building where, after passing through security, we found the line marked "Aqua Class" and followed it directly to a representative. Within a few minutes, we had our sea passes and were headed to the ship. We stopped briefly to look at the menus for Qsine and Normandie and were on board at 11:30, ready to begin our vacation. It couldn't have been easier. THE SHIP: We sailed on the Infinity a couple of year ago before the refurbishment, so we were interested in seeing what had been done to its sister ship, the Summit. We found that the Summit retained all of the charm that we remembered, but certainly looked a little spiffier. The ship is smaller than the S class ships and other ships like the Breakaway and some of the RCI ships. And that was fine with us. We like the more intimate feel of the ship (if you can call a 2000 passenger ship intimate). I never felt like I was very far from any part of the ship I wanted to get to. And it never felt crowded. There were a lot of children on the trip (someone said there were 400), but the younger ones spent most of their day in the Fun Factory or in the pool. I didn't find the kids annoying and all the ones I saw were pretty well behaved. If there was one minor drawback for me, it was the pool area. There really aren't enough deck chairs for everyone and many people came down before 7 AM to "reserve" chairs. The Pool Butlers did, at times, remove belongings of people who were gone for too long, but this was not done consistently. Still, since we prefer not to sit in the sun, we were eventually able to find places to sit. As I said, this was only a minor annoyance. THE CABIN: On our first cruise (on the Equinox), we had a Concierge cabin. For our cruise on the Infinity, we upgraded to a Celebrity Suite. This time, we decided to try Aqua Class (cabin #9070) --- and we were very pleased with the decision. The cabin was a comfortable size for the two of us. We packed a little more than we probably needed, but there was plenty of room in the closets to hang our clothes. In addition, there were six drawers next to the main closet and two large shelves. The two night tables each had two deep drawers and the vanity had two large storage spaces. Our suitcases fit comfortably under the bed. The bathroom was small but sufficient and I really loved the shower. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to sit and eat breakfast comfortably or read. There is a large overhang so that there was only sun early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Since we prefer shade, it was perfect. The only minor negative was mentioned on some message boards: the water from the shower tends to pour out from under the shower doors and "flood" the floor. This in no way negatively impacted the experience. We simply had to put down a few extra towels to mop up the water. On the third day, my wife figured out that by closing the doors in a certain way, we could minimize the "flooding." Overall, we really enjoyed the cabin and were very comfortable. DINING: As Aqua Class guests, we were assigned to eat in Blu. Initially, we thought we might want to occasionally eat in the MDR or in one of the specialty restaurants. However, the experience in Blu was so good that we dined there every night (and a few mornings). The first three mornings, we ordered room service, but soon we were having breakfast in Blu as well. We thought that the food was very good and loved the fact that the portions were a little smaller --- so we never felt stuffed after dinner. Dinner always began with an interesting appetizer, followed by either soup or salad. I really enjoyed the soups. The main dishes were tasty and, for the most part, light. I really enjoyed one of the roasted chicken dishes, the filet mignon and a rack of lamb (I know, how could that be light? Somehow, it was). The menu was different each night. However, the best thing about the restaurant is that it felt like a real restaurant, not like a huge dining room at a Catskill Mountains resort. Blu was quiet and intimate and quite relaxing. Everyone we spoke to felt the same way about the ambiance of the restaurant. And the staff! Well . . . THE STAFF: We absolutely love the staff on Celebrity ships and this sailing was no different. Every single staff member we passed in the halls stopped to ask how we were, how we were enjoying the cruise, if we had a nice day, etc. Of course, it probably helps that we are friendly, as well, but they went out of their way to make our cruise enjoyable. I have a hard time believing reviews that say that the staff is surly or indifferent. They are warm and friendly and professional. Now some specifics: We couldn't have been happier with our treatment in Blu. It started with Mazy, our Maitre d'. He always greeted us with a smile and welcomed us back. During the meal, he stopped by to make recommendations, to ask if we were enjoying the meal or simply to chat for a few moments. The wait staff was friendly and professional as well --- in particular Rambo, Alvin and Ashvin. They provided us with information about the food that allowed us to make informed choices. They took the time to chat with us and we found out a lot about their backgrounds and the countries they came from. They made us feel like guests in their homes, not customers. At one meal, the woman sitting next to us (from Montreal) was having trouble conveying to Alvin exactly what she wanted to eat (she spoke English well, but didn't quite have the words to convey her exact meaning). Alvin brought got Ashvin, who spoke French, and together they were able to figure out what she wanted to order. Pleasing their guests was important. I also have to mention Jom, the sommelier, and Agus, who brought us other drinks. They were so delightful and helpful and really helped make the experience in Blu a wonderful one. And, after the first night, everyone on staff knew our names and, by the third night, knew our dining and drinking preferences. In addition, I want to mention Steve Gayda, the Cruise Director, and his staff who went out of their way to make sure that everyone had a great time. By the time the cruise ended he knew the names of many of the passengers. ENTERTAINMENT: My wife and I are regular theater-goers in NY and I like to go to the shows on the ship. The entertainers were all excellent. Guitarist/vocalists Brandi Paige and Jefferson Eng are quite good. Jordan Peterson, the pianist, is very talented and I wished I could have seen him and the others more often. When the aerialists, Lulu and Dima, had to drop out of the final performance because of rough seas, Jordan took their place and did a wonderful set. The major performances by the Celebrity singers and dancers were enjoyable. The shows themselves were not very strong. "Sirens" suffered from a weak script and awful dialogue and the revues, "iHollywood" and "Stars in Their Eyes," had, in my opinion, some odd song choices. However, the singers and dancers were so good that we didn't care. The singers, particularly Glenn, Diana, Drew and Hannah had strong, beautiful voices and the dancers, especially Ben, Sacha, Jason, Jason and Ashley, were superb. Some of the dance numbers were absolutely exhilarating. As my wife remarked to one of the performers at the end of the first show, "Whatever they're paying you guys . . . it's not enough!" Jason Bishop, the illusionist, was absolutely amazing. We've all seen these "tricks" before, but his unique take on these illusions was phenomenal. While I didn't see comedian Kevin Flynn in his adults only late show (past my bedtime), I enjoyed him when he appeared in the final night's show. He was hilarious. The highlight of the week (entertainment-wise) was the appearance of Telly Leung in the 54 Below show. Telly is a Broadway veteran (I've seen him in several shows) and his set, along with accompanist, Gary Adler, was fabulous. The theme of the show was about the songs that were important to him growing up. They included Broadway songs, pop music and traditional songs. He has a beautiful voice, passion and lots of personality. He even stuck around and appeared with the Celebrity singers in their final performance. OTHER STUFF: - We don't usually book our excursions through Celebrity, but my wife decided that she wanted to do a glass bottom boat tour. It was pleasant and informative, but nothing special. Still, we enjoyed being on the water and met some nice people on board. - I like to take part in Trivia competitions and there were several each day. I met another couple and we formed a team that lasted the entire trip. The whole point of the games is to have fun and we had a blast. And won a few times, too. - While on the ship, we ate lunch in the Aqua Spa Cafe. Lunch was mostly salads and this was fine with us. - The only time we ate at the buffet was the day we first boarded. Nothing else was open. It was OK. We did occasionally stop in for ice cream or coffee and tea. - There was a minor error on our bill. When I checked my charges on Saturday morning, I noticed a charge for two glasses of Chardonnay from the previous evening. My wife had a Rose wine and I had a gin and tonic --- no Chardonnay. I went to the guest services desk and Angelina, the rep, reviewed our charges and said she would check on them. By that evening, the charges had been removed and I even received a call from Angelina informing me that my bill was now correct. My wife and I are not drinkers. She likes a glass of wine with dinner and I will sometimes have a soda or a gin and tonic. As a result, we didn't but any beverage packages. On past cruises, we didn't drink enough to warrant a package. However, people who like to drink more on a cruise benefit greatly from a drink package. - The weather in Bermuda was great and we had nice weather for three of the four days at sea. The last sea day was a little rocky, but not too bad. OVERALL: Overall, we had a great cruise. We arrived on board determined to relax and have a wonderful time and we did.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We sailed the Explorer on 7/7/11 and had a pretty good cruise experience. We stayed in the Royal Suite and it was a lovely room with lots of space. The Explorer looked good for her age but I think she's got to be close to getting her ... Read More
We sailed the Explorer on 7/7/11 and had a pretty good cruise experience. We stayed in the Royal Suite and it was a lovely room with lots of space. The Explorer looked good for her age but I think she's got to be close to getting her dry dock update, which is good because she is probably due for some new furniture in places, etc. The food was good and the menus were similar those of our last RCI cruise. The dining room service was just okay. Our waiter was good but his back up cast fell short at times. I think they could have used more bar staff in the dining room and the assistant waiters seemed to be spread thin with more tables to handle than the head waiter. We were thankful to have a wonderful table location with a beautiful ocean view every night so we couldn't complain too much. We ate in Portofinos one evening and had a wonderful dining experience with great food and service. We hit Johnny Rockets and the pizza place on deck 5 and they were good as well. We didn't eat in the Windjammer too much but when we did I found the selection and quality of food good for a buffet. The on board entertainment was varied and very enjoyable. The comedians were very funny and the Unexpected Boys ( Jersey Boys take off) were my favorite. The ice skating show was good but there were a couple of mishaps during our show. The area in which the skaters have to skate/execute jumps is very small though so I am actually surprised they don't have more falls. The Quest game show is definitely a highlight as well, not to be missed. Jimmy, the cruise director was hilarious and the Explorer is lucky to have him. The ship concierge Carlos was also exceptional, going above and beyond, the best concierge we have had on a RCI ship. The Adventure Ocean staff also deserves special mention, they do a wonderful job with the little ones, as did the on board babysitters. I used the spa services twice, once for an up-do on formal night and again for a facial and massage. The hair was great, but the massage and facial were costly and just okay for me. We didn't use RCI for any of our shore excursions so I can't comment on the excursion desk. I will say that the stop in Puerto Rico was really a waste. We were only there for a few short hours so you have to stay fairly close to the ship and there is not much to do except shop or go to Senior Frogs. It would have been nice to instead dock overnight in St. Maarten or St. Thomas and cut out Old San Juan all together. Leaving out of Jersey the ship draws most of it's passengers out of New York, New Jersey, PA, etc. and they are definitely a lively and fun crowd to be on board with. During summer I would also consider this a family cruise. Our sailing had over 900 kids on it, mostly teens. The staff did a good job though enforcing curfew, etc. so we didn't see too many issues arise. All in all, we had a memorable and fun cruise, one I would recommend to others. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
After reading the poor reviews for the Celebrity Summit, my fiancE and I were skeptical about what we were about to experience. We had both already been to Bermuda the prior year with Royal Caribbean, and did not think that anything would ... Read More
After reading the poor reviews for the Celebrity Summit, my fiancE and I were skeptical about what we were about to experience. We had both already been to Bermuda the prior year with Royal Caribbean, and did not think that anything would be up to par. However, we were pleasantly surprised from the beginning of our arrival at Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey. We arrived slightly early, but were able to quickly go through security, get our SeaPasses, and take our first pictures. From there, we jumped right on the shuttle to the ship and walked right aboard, welcomed with Mimosas. We then got lunch from the buffet and explored the ship and our stateroom was ready by 1:30 PM. What we did not expect but were happy to find in our room were bathrobes and even two umbrellas should rain have met us in Bermuda (luckily we did not need them), as well as a free beach bag. The crew throughout the entire ship was always friendly and welcoming, ready to entertain and chat with all guests and passengers. Definitely very impressive so far. Throughout the course of the cruise, we were very impressed with the food in all places (minus the Normandie Restaurant-we did not eat here as it was not free). The Waterfall Cafe (the buffet) went on for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the options were phenomenal. Even when we were hungry for a small snack, we were able to visit the coffee cafe for free mini sandwiches and small salads (the coffee/espresso/liquor drinks were not free-but if you'd like coffee throughout the day, my suggestion is that you head to the Waterfall Cafe for free coffee). The room service was also always available, and FREE!!! The main dining room called the Cosmopolitan Restaurant always had plenty of options and the food was exceptional, along with the entertaining servers. Best of all, the drink server remembered our names and drink orders from the very first day and from another bar, I might add. Although drinks were a bit pricey, we quickly understood why-they were neither stingy with the quality, nor the amount of alcohol in each drink. I have to say that we were also very impressed with how the cruise line apparently matched up our table-mates with us; we were all close in age and had very much in common with the other couples at our table- we even hung out with them throughout the cruise AND when we docked in Bermuda. My word of advice: take the time to answer the questions about yourself when booking your cruise-they ask those questions for a reason! The activities offered also kept us entertained. On our previous cruise with Royal Caribbean to Bermuda a year earlier, we didn't get involved with the onboard activities too much. On Celebrity Summit, we did karaoke and hung out and partied until late into the night in the lounges and bars with our table mates. Although I can't remember his name, the comedian was very funny and entertaining along with the singer/musician that followed his act. Although we personally weren't into his particular "style", he was nonetheless a pretty good entertainer. We saw one other show with the other singers and dancers and were generally happy with it. I do have to say that it is not really a show for younger audiences, for the female dancers/singers costumes for this particular show were a bit... revealing (I am by no means prude when it comes to things like this, I just thought it would be something to note). The dancing was quite impressive, though. There are two main pools- one in the "Aquaspa" mainly for adults with jets and warm jets as well as a hot tub. Note: Security does not permit children under 16 to enter the hot tub; they WILL make your children leave the Jacuzzi. The other pool was welcome to families and was also a wave pool. Another note: be sure to reserve your seat at the pool as they fill up very quickly. But, this is common throughout any cruise ship. The fitness center was also impressively large and well-equipped with many machines, mats, free-weights/equipment, etc., and knowledgeable personal trainers. Although I would have liked to join in the yoga and Pilates sessions (which apply a small fee of $8 I believe), I wound up not doing them for other reasons. Nonetheless, I heard from other passengers that they were great programs. The spa was a bit out of my price range, but look out for specials throughout the trip if the treatments they offer interest you. Of course, Bermuda was beautiful as usual and very safe. I do recommend that you eat on board the ship before going out in town since the restaurants can get a bit expensive (some are quite worth the price, but why spend the extra money when you can eat on board any time for free?!). One last thing I can note is that the times they give you when leaving the ship are accurate-we were given an 8:20 AM disembarkation time. We reached our designated room to wait in with our items we were carrying off at 8:10AM, were called at 8:15AM and walked down to the gangway and right onto the shuttle back to Cape Liberty customs. We were in our car by 8:35AM and ready to leave the port! Very, very smooth. I can genuinely say that we have absolutely no objections or negative things to say about this cruise. Celebrity Cruises is most certainly the way to go when traveling to Bermuda. Enjoy!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I am 59. My wife is 51. This was our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean though we have cruised 4 other times; once on Carnival and 3 times on NCL. We are polite and not picky. We do not drink much on cruises. We spend the money on excursions. I ... Read More
I am 59. My wife is 51. This was our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean though we have cruised 4 other times; once on Carnival and 3 times on NCL. We are polite and not picky. We do not drink much on cruises. We spend the money on excursions. I am a scuba diver so a lot of this review includes those experiences. Because my wife is a sunrise/sunset junky and because many excursions leave early, we were on an early schedule for almost the whole cruise. I liked this cruise. I thought it was a great value for the money. The only thing I hated on the cruise was the coffee. Everything else varied between ok and great! If you live within driving distance buy a GPS. The address of the Cape liberty port is: 14 Port Terminal Boulevard, Bayonne, New Jersey 07002. The RC phone number for questions is 800-256-6649. The website for the port is www.cruiseliberty.com The website has a Mapquest link so you can also print a map. Day 1 Sunday We left Allentown, Pa at 10:30. We arrived at the port at noon (1/2 hour faster than normal due to light Sunday traffic and my speed-demon daughter/chauffer). Traffic in the port moves decently. There are many pull-in spots to unload luggage. There are baggage handlers and the luggage bins are within 30 feet of the drop-off. The line to get your Sea Pass is 30 more feet. The bus ride from the terminal to the ship takes less than a minute. We were on the ship by 12:45. We were in our stateroom 8289 by 1:30 PM. The Terminal is not heated but there is a restroom. We spent our 1st few minutes onboard in the WindJammer buffet restaurant. It's on deck 11 aft. Except for the cafe Promenade on deck 5, all the food is in the back of the ship. The Windjammer is understandably busy during boarding, but you can find a seat. If you sit at the very back, or on the port side, you can see the Statue of Liberty. The lifeboat drill was at 3:15. You no longer have to bring your cabin lifejacket, but drill attendance is mandatory. Ship departure was smooth and scenic. Passing just beneath the huge bridge is always fun. We had booked 1st dinner seating but were given 2nd seating. So our 1st order of business was to change back to 1st seating or get My Time Dining. This occurs in the Columbus Dining room on decks 3 & 4. Good luck on getting The My Time Dining if you did not book early or have pull. We have neither and the wait list was 50 long. It can even be hard to get 1st seating. However, partially due to luck and partially because my wife and I did not treat the staff rudely (the staff member told us he often gets threatened by guests) we managed to get our seat changed back to 1st seating. And that turned out to be super! Not only did we get a table near the windows, but we were also seated at a table for 8. The other 6 seats were occupied by 3 sisters and their spouses. They had driven down from Canada to take this cruise. They opened their lives and conversation to us and we had a great week. Though we did not do excursions with them, we often met in the course of our day and ended up chatting in one of the many gathering spots. Their friendship was the icing on the cake of great cruise. Our cabin 8289 is a Promenade Room. Most ships have interior rooms or some view of /access to the ocean. But the Explorer has rooms that overlook an interior mall (The Promenade) on deck 5 too. The mall is maybe 30 feet wide with stores, bars, eateries along its city block length. There are Promenade facing rooms on decks 6,7,8. You enter the room via normal ships hallway, but you have a big picture window on the other side of the room overlooking the Promenade. You can hear the few louder Promenade events but the noise is not an issue on deck 8. Our table mates, who had Promenade rooms on deck 6, noted that the noise was more bothersome. But, no one thought it was a major issue. My view is that it is great for people watching and feeling like you are more involved with the ship's happenings. Our cabin size was fine. There is more than enough storage for 2 people. The bed is comfy. Our cabin attendant Anand (from India) did an admirable job; as did almost all the ships staff. I also think my fellow cruisers were a civil lot. The ship's crew is multi-national and so were the guests. You might think a ship leaving from Bayonne would be almost all US Citizens but there were also many from Canada, The Ukraine, and Germany. Of course the guest age was mostly older, but it wasn't wall-to-wall walkers and scooters. There were probably less than 100 kids on the ship. All were well-behaved as far as I could see. Our waiters for table 576 were Imdat and Adem from Turkey. They were super! If you get them you will be happy. The appetizers and mains range from ok to good. The Indian dishes are surprisingly bland. Many of the appetizers and mains are too. I thought the food was of good quality, but I missed the exquisitely seasoned dishes I have eaten on other cruise lines. We still ate a lot though. The desserts were great. Many of those were a taste sensation! The breads are good too. If I had my way I would promote the dessert/bread chefs and send the rest for remedial seasoning training. Lemonade is the best included beverage. They water down the coffee in the dining room which actually makes it a little better than the strong, sour brew they have in the Windjammer and Cafe Promenade. But the Cafe Promenade has hot chocolate- a tastier selection if you want a hot beverage. I do not tolerate tea very well, but they do have it in all food areas. The 1st seating show is at 9PM in the Palace Theater on decks 3 & 4 forward. There we met our cruise director Jimmy and enjoyed the comedy of Rick Star (who was funny but not hysterical). We turned in early because it had been a long day. Day 2 Monday At Sea We tried breakfast in the main dining room. It was nice but there weren't any great menu items so we used the Windjammer for the rest of the cruise. The open decks were still too cold to spend much time on, so we focused on ship acclimation and excursion decisions. We also did a Cruise Critic "Meet and Greet". This may have been nice for repeat cruisers but was a non-event for newbies like us. The RC singers & dancers entertained us with hits from the 50's through the 80's at the 9PM show. Everyone was great. Day 3 Tuesday At Sea It was warm enough to go swimming today. So we migrated to the pools & hot tubs on deck 11. We also saw the 1st of 2 ice shows at 3PM in studio B. We had picked up tickets on day 1 outside Studio B from 5:30 to 7:30. There was a looong line for the tickets, but all show times still had tickets by the time we got to the front of the line. If you miss the ticket distribution, they also keep them at the courtesy desk on deck 5 and at the show. We loved the ice shows. Everyone did. The rink is not cold, so you don't have to worry about dressing up warm. The show for the evening was Dominique, a violinist. She gave us a warm, funny, musical evening. We took ballroom dancing lessons for a month before our cruise. We thought RC would have a lot of that. They don't. We did dance at various times throughout the week and tonight was no exception. But the ship's music is not geared towards ballroom dancing. It is much more in the salsa, Caribbean/reggae, and easy listening categories. We loved Roman Dembitski who played classical guitar, but he didn't play dance music. I did however; buy his cd because he was so good. In any event, we managed almost no ballroom dancing due to availability and the fact that we retired early to save energy for sunrises and excursions. Day 4 Wednesday Labadee, Haiti We were both in the early morning swing of things by today. We did the 5 lap mile walk on deck 12 as we did most mornings when it wasn't too cold. We disembarked for our 9:15 Dragons Breath Zip Line excursion at $79 per person on Labadee. They have a shorter practice line you do 1st to give you the feel for it. Then they take you by truck to the hilly top of one side of the bay and you zip 2600 feet to the lower other side of the bay. Very neat! I am mildly afraid of heights, but it was ok. Everyone did well. It may sound and look a bit scary, but it was more cool and fun. After the zip we shopped a bit at the craft stands. Most of the stands have the same stuff. The vendors are very pushy- not mean or nasty- but very insistent. They make it a little hard to disengage. It's the same for Samana. But that is not as much the case for the other islands. The residents on ST Thomas, St Kitts, Antigua (pronounced Antiga), and St Maarten all value politeness. We managed to squeeze in a 2nd excursion and tried snorkeling at $42 per person. There must have been 30 people in the water following one guide. It was way too many people for one guide and lots of us got bumped into or accidentally finned (kicked) by other snorkelers. The water depth ranged from 5-30 feet with most of the excursion in the 6-10 feet range. We saw coral, fish, sea urchins, and some small flamingo tong shells. After the dive we did just a little more shopping and headed back to the ship. It had been a busy excursion day and we never got on the beach. The entertainment compound on Labadee is owned by RC and is very clean. They are constantly enhancing it. People refer to it as RC's private island, but I do not think it is totally surrounded by water. The show for the evening was Jordan Bennett who is married to Dominique. But while Dominque had a good feel for what audiences wanted to hear, Jordan didn't. He sang a lot of slow, talky show tunes that I really didn't like. I kept wishing I could change the channel or gong him (remember the Gong Show?). But, he did sing, The Bright Side of Life, which I hummed for the rest of the week. His show was followed by the disco show in the Promenade. We watched that entire event from the comfort of our couch in the Promenade Room. Day 5 Thursday Samana, Dominican Republic we met in the Palace at 8:15 for our Sea Lion encounter. From there we were escorted to our tender to motor to Cayo Levantado, an island in Samana Bay. Note- if you elect to go to Cayo Levantado in the morning, they do not start return trips to the ship until 1pm. There is no way to get back until then, so prepare. This is not RC owned real estate, but there are restrooms and vendors. You can buy souvenirs, food, rent snorkel gear, scuba dive, get a massage, lie on the beach, swim, get your photo taken with a giant iguana, etc. Our Sea Lion Encounter was short (1/2 hour) and expensive at $139 per person. And you can't video or take pictures. They take pictures but they do not video. The photos were expensive and we did not buy any. Tip- if you don't mind not having you in the picture you can video the next group's ocean part of the encounter from just down the beach. The 1st part of the encounter took place in a small, shaded sandy compound. They bring out an 8 year old sea lion that personally interacts with everyone. We hugged her, touched her flipper, and fed her a fish. You kiss her on the cheek and she kisses you—think big, fishy, doggy-like face with whiskers. After about 15 minutes you walk 100 feet to the beach and stand in chest deep water. Once you are lined up, an 8 year old male comes out and swims amongst you. Everybody gets to hug him. Then you go back to the lockers in the compound and get all the stuff you didn't want to get wet. Note- we all worried about leaving our stuff in an unlocked area. They have a bank of small lockers but no locks. Theft does seem to be an issue on tours. I am sure the resulting theft complaint would shut down an excursion pronto. After the encounter we lay on the beach and took some photos. I had swim goggles which I made due as snorkel gear. I found a couple of large starfish (1 foot in diameter) and some shells. Don't try to keep the starfish. They will stink badly in short order. Just look at them and put them back down. The water around the beach is mostly sand with some sea grass. At 1pm we headed back to the ship. This is the 2nd time we have been to Samana and still not technically been ashore. The 1st time we whale watched (February Cruise on NCL) and this time we went to an island. I don't have too many other notes on this day. The evening show in the Palace Theater was the RC singers and dancers doing show tunes. The sets were great, the songs were not. For some reason they focused on slow show tunes or 2nd rate songs from different musicals. Once again I kept wishing for a gong or a magic that would make them sing the good stuff. My wife is more practical. She just went to sleep. Day 6 Friday ST Thomas, US Virgin Islands We always docked in the 7-8AM range and we always got off the ship on deck 1 soon after. I had to meet for a scuba dive at 12:15 so we did a bit of shopping at the Havensight shopping mall near the ship. We mailed postcards at the post office and Marty (the ship's shopping director) helped us buy a Phillip Stein watch at Diamonds International. The Underwater Safari Dive Shop is located in the mall near the ship, a 5 minute walk. We collected our gear and made a short walk to the marina to catch our dive boat. The dive boat then made a 10 minute trip out to Buck Island for 2 dives. We spent half the time near the wreck of the Cartanser Senior and the other half on Wye Reef. The wreck is currently in 50 feet of water and pretty broken up at this point. Beside the wreck the highpoints of the dives were seeing banded coral shrimp, large hermit crabs, a field of garden eels, a spotted drum, and a lot of pretty soft and hard coral. The significant thing about this dive for me was that I also dived on this wreck in 1982. So it was fun coming back to a wreck I haven't seen in 28 years. My wife didn't dive with me. She went shopping for gift liquor and a table cloth. Day 7 Saturday St Kitts, British West Indies Leeward Islands I wanted to do more diving, but Royal Caribbean does not offer a dive excursion on ST Kitts. I think this is because there is no decompression chamber on the island. A couple of days ago, I had talked with another diver in ST Thomas who recommended Kenneth Divers. The dive shop turned out to be a 5 minute walk from the pier. We got there soon after docking and found that Kenneth doesn't work on Saturdays for religious reasons. But he did set me up with Pro Divers: www.prodiversstkitts.com/ which is run by Auston and Margot Macleod. I arranged a dive with them for 12:15 PM. Since it was only about 9AM we spent the intervening time shopping. I met Margot Macleod at the pier. She walked me to the dive boat which took us to their shop. I paid for my 2 dives ($111) and waited while a number of other divers showed up for the dives. We went out with over 15 people including 2 other dive masters, several locals, and several guests staying on island hotels. Our 1st dive was on Dewars Reef which is about 20 minutes from the dive shop. The 2nd dive was on cable Reef which is about 10 minutes from Dewars Reef. The 1st dive took us as deep as 98 feet; the 2nd to about 58 feet. Visibility was a bit off that day according to Auston; easily 30-40 feet but not the crystal clear we all love. We saw several rays, a puffer, a turtle, at least 2 lobsters, a brown spotted moray, garden eels, and a small octopus. There was, of course, lots of pretty soft and hard coral. Great dives! I found Pro Divers to be a friendly professional shop. They had great concern for safety and getting cruise ship people back to their ship in a timely fashion. According to Margot the shop is approved by RC for snorkel tours. But since the island has no decompression chamber none of the dive shops can be approved for diving. However, Auston did mention that there was a chamber on a nearby island. Another thing I liked about Pro Divers is that they have a dive computer as part of their gear. Though I have been a diver for 35 years, I only manage a couple of dives a years since my children (and grandchildren) were born. As a result I have no experience with dive computers and normally rely on the dive master's computer. So it was a treat for me to get a few minutes of instruction and be able to rely on my own dive computer for the 1st time. I want to add general comments about cruise ships and scuba diving. If a dive excursion doesn't reach a break-even number of divers the dive is often cancelled. This didn't happen to me with RC but it has happened to me 3 times with NCL. Because of this tendency to cancel (usually at the last minute), because cruise excursions tend to be a little more expensive, and because the cruise ships don't usually offer dive excursions at all ports, a number of divers I have talked to have decided to book on the internet directly with a dive shop. Booking on the net has its drawbacks too, and the more that book on the net, the greater the chance the cruise ship dive excursion won't reach break-even. It is a dilemma that I don't have a perfect answer for. In the future I will continue to book dives through the ship because they guarantee waiting for you if you have a problem. They also check out their excursion vendors carefully. But I will also research a list of possible other dive shop options just in case. I think I got back to the ship a bit after 4PM. My wife was done with shopping so we prepared for the evening. The show was an Elton John Tribute. I am not a big fan of Elton john, so I would have gladly skipped the show, but my wife wanted us both there. It turned out to be one of the better shows of the week. Like him or not, Elton John has a lot of good songs . I do not know the name of performer who did the tribute show but he was very good and very funny. Day 8 Sunday Antigua West Indies Leeward Islands I promised my wife I would not dive in Antigua. So we walked to the taxi/tourist stand near the pier and the stand attendant found us a tour guide for a 2-3 hour tour. Our tour guide was named Merchant. The fee for the tour is $25 per person paid to the guide (Merchant ) at the end o f the tour. We learned at lot about the island and make a number of stops that included Nelson Harbor, a small beach, and a craft stand. We stopped at an historic site which required a $7 entrance fee. Merchant told us the site would take about 45 minutes to tour. 4 people of our group of 6 could not walk very well, so we elected to skip the site. It was a nice tour. When we got back we shopped a little and then went back to the ship. One of the things that bugged my wife and I about the shops here and most stops is that almost none of the goods are made by the sellers. They are just selling clothes, jewelry, crafts, & souvenirs that are probably made in India, China, or the U.S. So, one can get pretty bored seeing the same goods in stand after stand after stand. There are probably a number of local craftsman, but we only found a couple during the entire trip. Labadee and Samana were the only 2 ports where we did not see another ship in port. Otherwise we shared dock space with the Azamara and Celebrity Cruise lines. Day 9 Monday St Maarten Leeward Islands I had 2 dives booked with RC on this island. We met on the pier in front of the ship at 8:15. My wife took an island tour which met at the same time and place. My dive cost was $137. Hers was $56 I think. The Scuba Fun dive shop is about a 5 minute walk from the pier. Andy, our dive master, set us up with our gear. Our 1st dive site was Cable Reef and the 2nd site was Shark Hotel. Our 1st dive took us to 68 feet and the 2nd to 55 feet. We saw puffer, octopus, lobster, and barracuda. I saw almost no sea urchins. On the 1st dive I also saw the 1st shark I have seen diving since the 1970's when I dived in Subic Bay, Philippines. Our 2nd dive took us to the spot where they do shark feedings in the afternoon. Our dive was not a shark feeding dive, we just went to the spot where they do the feedings. The feedings occur in a sandy spot marked with a bait box and a semi-circle of concrete blocks. Andy motioned the dive group to the blocks while he reached inside the box. There was no food in the bait box, but the action of opening it drew several 6 foot reef sharks who circled us for several minutes. This may sound foolhardy or frightening, but it was not. Reef sharks are not a particularly aggressive species and sharks only attack divers in Hollywood. So everyone in our group enjoyed the view of sharks swimming nearby. We had a cameraman with us who got pictures of the sharks in close proximity to us. It was my last dive on the cruise and it was very cool! After the dive I met up with my wife for more ---- shopping. We did this in the area near the ship. We talked about taking a water Taxi to Philipsburg to shop, but my wife's tour had taken her there. She said the town looked like it consists of one jewelry store after another. We were a bit tired of jewelry stores by this point in the cruise so we elected not to go. Our entertainment that night was 2 juggling comedians who excelled in both categories. Funny show! The ship also had a pool side Mexican Buffet in the 10-12PM range. There were 2 pool side buffets during our cruise, but neither one included beverages. So you had to visit the bar, go without, or shuffle off to deck 5 to get your own. I think they should have had water, ice tea, and lemonade. Days 10 and 11 Tuesday and Wednesday At Sea. On day 10 you can still enjoy the pool. We packed a bit over these 2 days. They had a comedian one night and a Motown show the other. Both were ok. Neither was memorable. On day 11 we camped out at a bar on deck 5, The Promenade, and enjoyed a lunch buffet. There was a parade just before dinner in the same location. You need to have your luggage in the hallway by midnight. In the early evening they give you any liquor you bought on the islands. Day 12 Friday Bayonne, New Jersey We had too much luggage so we could not manage express departure. We also did not want our daughter to have to get up crazy early, so we stuck with our 9:15-9:30 departure. We spent most of the time in the Windjammer which closes at 9AM. It is busy, but like departure day, you can find a seat. At 9:15 we headed for Studio B. They ran about 20-30 minutes behind, but it was a smooth event. You board a bus for the minute ride to the terminal. There are luggage attendants, so use one if you have a lot of luggage. Your bags are grouped by numbers which are clearly marked on your bag tags and on sign posts in the terminal. Customs took about 10 seconds. After that it is just a matter of looking for your ride to pull in and load up the luggage. I think RC runs departures and arrivals very well. We had a really nice cruise. I would definitely cruise Royal Caribbean again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
A little background first. Both my wife and I are early fourties and have travelled and cruised extensively before. We decided to go to New England and Canada because we have never cruised there before and liked the convenience of Caape ... Read More
A little background first. Both my wife and I are early fourties and have travelled and cruised extensively before. We decided to go to New England and Canada because we have never cruised there before and liked the convenience of Caape Liberty. Some reviewers have mentioned that there seemed to be a lot of seniors on this cruise. There were, but not more than other cruises we have done. I would say somewhere in the middle. Not as much as a Panama cruise, but more than a three day booze cruise. Longer cruises tend to have more seniors. And the weather? Lot's of comments from other pax. Yes it was windy, maybe a little rain, but you do realize that you are in the northeast in late fall heading north? Enough said, typical fall New England weather. I expected it, and it was one of the reasons we decided to do this cruise. Embarkation: Sorry, I cannot help with airport information, transfers or hotels. We drove thirty minutes to the port. Having lived in the metro area all my life, I can tell you this: Plan for delays when deciding flight times. The area is served by three major airports: Newark, LaGuidia, and JFK. Newark is the easiest to get to, but usually LaGuidia is cheaper to fly into. Take your pick. I prefer Newark. Drop off of the bags was easy, and parking was also easy. Yes it is an industrial area, but I didn't feel unsafe at any time. Check in was easy, but then you had to take a bus to the ship. First time for the bus in any embarkation port. Also, do yourself a favor, and look at the 9/11 memorial on the pier. Very well done. Dining: Windjammer was typical, average food. I never had a problem getting a table, but we are early risers, and usually don't do lunch or dinner there. We usually just grab a burger and go for lunch. We did late seating (always do), and suggest on a ship with many seniors, that late seating is the best, as it tends to be less crowded. We had a table for eight with only six people. After the second night, one couple left, so we were down to four. I don't know why they left. When we tried to engage them in conversation, they would simply answer the question and then go silent. Saw them during the cruise and would say hello, only to have them turn away and not even acknowledge us. Go figure? The other couple we got along with well, and they helped make the cruise memorable. This is why we cruise. One word of advice. Take one day and eat at Portofino's. Service was great,food was better. Exceeded expectations. Cabin: We opted for a Promenade stateroom. I did enjoy watching the parade from my stateroom as opposed to standing and getting stepped on. Room was big enough, and storage was more than enough, even with all of our shopping in the ports. Bed was comfortable, and didn't have a problem with sleeping. Yes the ship moved a little, but we were pretty much in the center of the ship, and we are used to a little rocking. Cabin attendent was very good. We did put things in the window, but I think we were the only ones. Entertainment: Went to the dancing and comedy shows. Variety shows were okay. Not great, not bad. Would much prefer a musical rather than a review, but that is just my opinion. Comedy shows were better. Didn't go to most of the lounges or casino, as the smoke effects me. The Love and Marriage show. Go to it, you will laugh. Almost got picked to participate. Maybe next time. Quest. Definately go and participate if you can. It is what you make of it. I was one of the leaders, and had a blast. Just don't take yourself too seriously, and you will have a great time. The ice show was really good, don't miss it. Went to some of the craft activities. They were usually held at Dizzy's, but there was no dedicated space, so there usually ended up being no room, as people tended to fall asleep in their chairs for the day. Towards the end of the cruise, the outer decks were closed due to high winds. I do not remember the rock wall ever being open, probably due to the winds. Disembarcation: Did not like this at all. They call your number, and you leave the ship to wait for a bus. Long wait. Then you sit on the bus as they line you up to get off. Longer wait. One word of advice. If you can't walk well, and have a lot of bags, please get a porter to help you. Oh, and listen to announcements instead of talking to each other. It makes things go so much easier. I think in the future, I would leave from Baltimore instead of Cape Liberty, as the difference in time from ship to home is only 30 minutes longer from Baltimore. That is because Baltimore handles passenger much better. Overall, I would have to say a good cruise, but not a great one. Cruising to me is about the ports anyway, so that is what I focus on. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
My DH and I traveled on the Explorer of the Seas on the 09/26/09 cruise to Bermuda leaving out of NJ. We had GS #1552 on the 10th floor (forward). Profile: Husband/Wife in 40s, upper middle class, 1st time traveling without children ... Read More
My DH and I traveled on the Explorer of the Seas on the 09/26/09 cruise to Bermuda leaving out of NJ. We had GS #1552 on the 10th floor (forward). Profile: Husband/Wife in 40s, upper middle class, 1st time traveling without children (teenagers), two other cruises on Carnival only (Most recent: 08/2007), first RC cruise, picky but reasonable traveler. GRAND SUITE REVIEW and amenities Grand Suite (GS) was wonderful, spacious, clean, airy. The GS amenities were nice. This is our 1st time booking a suite. I am surprised that RC doesn't better publish all of the amenities: The obvious... of course the room size is bigger, you have a large balcony with 2 chairs and one lounger, bathroom is very large and includes a tub, concierge lounge including free cocktails in the evening (5-8:30), pressed clothes on formal night. We didn't know until on board that we could order in room service from the main Dining Room (MDR) menu (vs Windjammer in a regular room) and that Portifinos is reserved from 8:00-2:00 for suite guests to eat in. This was a very nice option if you don't want to take the time to be waited on in the MDR for breakfast or lunch but find the Windjammer crowded, loud and hectic. You can help yourself to the food in the Windjammer and simply cross through to Portifinos (next door) to eat in a nicer, quieter setting. We read that suite guests get priority seating and saw some confusion on line if this was actually the case. It appears that you need to ask at the venues. We did that at the (fabulous) Ice Show and were escorted to a roped off area to prime seating with more legroom. But if we hadn't asked, we wouldn't have known about it as its discrete. The survey forms referenced reserved lounge chair seating (we don't know where this was but could have been a nice benefit). FYI - at the Ice Show, they removed the ropes and open any remaining seats in these areas about 5 minutes before the show began. This is possibly what lead to the confusion - depending on what time you arrive. CARNIVAL vs ROYAL Royal: (+) Shows are WAY more professional, entertaining. Ice Show is a must! (-) Food quality in MDR was not exceptional but fine. I felt that Carnival Dining had better selection and food quality overall. (+) Guests were cordial, patient, and polite on the Explorer. Note: I read one of the reviews about lack of courtesy on Explorer with NY/NJ guests as we left out of Cape Liberty. We found our fellow guests to be courteous and friendly. Now, our previous Carnival cruises were in the summer months with a lot more (both) parents/children with conduct issues and this cruise had mostly couples or families with very young children. (+) Room size and layout were larger than expected. We arrived on board at 12:30 and took the opportunity to walk in the cabin areas and see the insides of the various rooms. I was surprised and how large the regular balcony rooms were and I think its nice to have the option on the inside cabins with the windows overlooking the promenade. We also checked out the suites up (in size) from ours. I actually was happy that we didn't pay THAT much as our GS suites were perfect for our needs (2 people). (+) the activities were diverse, fun, interesting, and well executed. I dragged my DH to the Day 5 Cooking Demonstration that we thought would be on cooking but was more about comedy that included a cake. Hilarious! Explorer also offered way more physical activities for the kids than our previous Carnival cruise. Our kids would have enjoyed that. Carnival: More inclusive on price. RC found a lot more opportunities to try and charge you more. I think its ridiculous to charge me for the cruise and then want to charge me $15 at dinner for a better cut of meat when you also offer restaurants with $20 seating charges. Also, I selected the (strawberry) Lava Flow at Dizzys for $6.75. The waiter advised that it came in raspberry or mango as well. I ordered the raspberry and got a bill for $10+. It turns out the raspberry costs a couple dollars more which we weren't advised. I also think its a mistake for RCI to precharge me for tips (My Time Dining and Suite Stewart). The service was fine. On Carnival I found the service to be outstanding. That may be the difference. Our other cruises were on ships that had been out for a number of years. Both lines put forth a phenomenal amount of effort in upkeep and cleanliness. While I have read critical remarks about the Explorer's wear-and-tear. I personally am MORE impressed that it looks so well maintained than disappointed at seeing a few shabby spots. They are going to dry dock in Jan 2010. BERMUDA We didn't understand why so many fellow cruisers that we spoke to were returning for the same (Bermuda) cruise. I personally have been to a number of other islands and while nice, I wouldn't actively seek to return.... until I visited Bermuda. I am so impressed with the people of Bermuda. They are so genuinely friendly (versus 'we make money from the tourists so we will tolerate them' friendly). My husband and I like to try and get off the beaten path and brought our own gear but rented (pedal) bikes and took the Rail Trail. That in itself was the adventure! As the trail was a previous train track we incorrectly assumed it was continuous (for the most part). The trail is a beautiful way to the see the island but broken in MANY spots and lacks sufficient and well placed signs. This required asking repetitively for directions. Islanders went above-and-beyond to help us. They are a proud, kind, and happy people. TIP: While we had planned to bike up to St Georges (appox 25 miles) we altered our plans, rode into Hamilton (approx 12 miles), and took the ferry back to the ship on the orange line ferry directly in front of the ship. They allow you to take pedal bikes on this ferry. We went to return to Hamilton later in the afternoon (5:00ish) and realized the orange line stops running around that time. We didn't realize that the blue line is just around the inlet and runs every 30 minutes up to 7:00ish. MONEY SAVING TIP: A free walking tour of Hamilton is offered starting at the Hamilton Information Center at the Hamilton docks at 10:30 and 2:30 on Mondays, Wed, Fridays. St Georges - We heard the caverns/caves was great along with the horse and buggy ride in St Georges. We did the St George trolley and were very disappointed. We aren't big beach people but come on, you can't go to Bermuda and not see the beaches! So, even though we were leaving port at 5pm and had to be on the ship at 4:30 we left via taxi for Horseshoe Beach via Taxi at 2:30. We had a GREAT taxi driver - Frank Barbosa (Like Pirates of the Caribbean). He took us to the beach and then offered to wait the 30 minutes we had to enjoy the beach. It was nice he didn't charge us then for the trip to the beach as we really didn't have to worry about his changing his mind and leaving. Then he turned off the meter and waited while we swam in the ocean and had some time to walk on the beach. In fact we had a few moments to stop at the top of the entrance to the beach for a margarita. He was knowledgeable and happy to share his knowledge of the island with us. If we had to do it again we would have taken a taxi as a tour of the island. He advised they were all individually owned (no cab companies). We were glad that we didn't just do the Snorkel Park at the Dockyard (too touristy and we heard it was actually near the sewer/waste elimination tube). Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Ah, Our 1st cruise on RCCL . Celebrating our 25th anniversary and Bermuda was our choice. Arrived at Port Liberty 1:30 PM and was onboard and in our Balcony Cabin at 2:15. We were on deck 6 in the Forward section on the port side. Very ... Read More
Ah, Our 1st cruise on RCCL . Celebrating our 25th anniversary and Bermuda was our choice. Arrived at Port Liberty 1:30 PM and was onboard and in our Balcony Cabin at 2:15. We were on deck 6 in the Forward section on the port side. Very quick and painless process. The staff at the Port is very friendly and welcoming. WindJammer was open and enjoyed a quick lunch and then began exploring the ship. The gymnasium is well equipped and the Solarium whirlpool is very quiet (most of the time). Our room steward was courteous and efficient,,,ice every day but admittedly very noisy in the hallway in the morning. She was so friendly that she woke us a few mornings with her greetings to other guests. Not really a problem. Day 2 Very very windy Sea day. Gale force winds at 8. Made for an enjoyable day in the Pool as the rocking caused the Solarium pool to become a "wave pool". Pretty cool. The other pools were closed. I tried to start a pool for when the first chaise lounge would blow off deck 12 but no takers. Dining Room The food is comparable to other cruise lines and I found our waiter Michael Edic to be very very friendly and helpful and efficient. He made our dining experience very enjoyable. We also made friends with several tablemates and had loads of fun during the cruise with them. Make sure you take advantage of Cafe Promenade on deck 5. The pizza and sandwiches and cookies are a quick fix during the day. Right on The Promenade. Nice that for some food you don't have to go up to Windjammer. Bermuda The previous poster mentioned that there is work being done at the pier in Kings Wharf. The pile driving is very very disturbing as is the 2 huge cranes completely blocking the view of The Dockyards. This was unacceptable but as long as you turned your head and closed one eye,, and put on sound blocking headphones the view of Bermuda was gorgeous. The beaches are fantastic. Make some friends and go to the beach by taxi. 4 people in taxi and it cost 25 dollars plus tip. One way. Airconditioned with a friendly and knowledgeable driver who will usually give you a guided tour as he speeds you to the Beach Nightlife The Chamber is the hangout spot for late night fun. The disco plays great music and it has cozy nooks for canoodling on the 2nd flloor. The last nite,,I think half the ships entertainers were partying on the 2nd floor and a guest provided a "popping" Michael Jackson rendition,,moonwalking and grooving.. Fun Fun Fun The Casino is ok,,,a bit small compared to other ships I have been on,,but its fine for the slot players. Nice poker tourney and a good 1-2 no limit game. Disembarking Did not hear any announcements to disembark but we did the usual Breakfast in the dining room and went back to retrieve our carry on bags. The disembarking is a bit cumbersome with a short bus ride after leaving the ship,,but all in all pretty quick and painless. Only recommendations I would make is that there is not enough information or announcements to spread the word on the various shows. I attended the Ice Show which was gorgeous but most other shows went unattended mostly because we could not find the information. One nite they had a 7 pm show for the late diners and a 9pm show for the early diners. Thats exactly opposite the reason I choose 8:30 dining. I want to have to time to enjoy my day without worrying about seeing a show at 7 pm. The Internet service is ok but be sure to use the same card that is used to originally purchase the "package". I signed up for the package with my card and then a few times my wife used the internet with her sea pass card and we received several charges over and above the package charge. This is not explained in the RCCL pamphlet but the courteous Guest service did remove the additional charges when I brought it to their attention. Overall An excellent cruise but make sure your balcony cabin is on the starboard side. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We are a retired couple, usually traveling with another couple. We have sailed with NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Celebrity. Embarkation at Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ was fantastic. We arrived slightly after 11 ... Read More
We are a retired couple, usually traveling with another couple. We have sailed with NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Celebrity. Embarkation at Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ was fantastic. We arrived slightly after 11 am and after a short wait, we were welcomed aboard w/ champagne and looking for lunch in the Seaside Cafe. Selection and service were good and we were soon checking out our stateroom. Luggage arrived throughout the afternoon and we were pleasantly surprised when the mandatory lifeboat drill did NOT require life jackets!Cabin 7114 is situated mid-ship, not too near elevators, with no cabins across from it; in other words, quiet w/ easy access to everything. The balcony is equipped with 2 chairs and is 2 floors above the life boats which we looked down on. Storage is adequate, but I missed a drawer in the desk because that is usually my make-up area. Hint: we use suction cup hooks on mirrors for hats, storage bags, etc. This is our first cruise to try 1st seating for dinner, but after dinners that finished at 10:30 on our last (Holland America) cruise, we made the switch. So, 6pm found us in the San Marco Dining Room where we were delighted to find our table for 8 and two delightful couples from NJ. Our Waiter, Jorge, and Assistant Waiter, Andres, began right away to learn our preferences and try to keep us happy. They were good at their jobs; we were impressed that Andres remembered drink choices and did not have to ask again. Food: We ate in the San Marco every night except 2 and in the Seaside Cafe for all breakfasts and lunches unless we were ashore or there was a brunch in the San Marco (these were GREAT). Overall, the food was good, but some of our group and others we talked to agreed that the nightly offerings had an unusual (some said European) flair. Thankfully there is a "classic" menu from which one could order any night and we chose items from this menu frequently. When I did stray to the other menu, I was quite often disappointed; items like Shrimp Scampi which had 3 very tough shrimp, rice not done and pureed vegetable were not to my taste. My husband, a beef eater, had several beef dishes that were tough or not cooked to order. It is our opinion that the quality of beef in the main dining room has suffered since the specialty restaurants appeared. We have eaten in a specialty restaurant and it was wonderful, but we are not willing to spend extra every night and don't believe we should have to. Seaside Cafe had great choices for breakfast and lunch. Any type of breakfast food could be found, cooked to order or quick pick up. The only sad note here was the coffee which was (to our taste) not drinkable as it came from the urn. We found that a mix of 1/3 decaf, 1/3 regular, and 1/3 hot water gave us something we could drink. We saw many others adding water and even saw waiters adding water to the coffee they were serving through the dining room. Our complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. Lunch choices ran from hot foods to a great deli whose chicken salad, egg salad and hot soups were great lunch fare. The only burger we ate from the grill was cold; a disappointment because we usually love the grill items. The 'Casual Dining by Reservation' did not live up to it's billing. We found that they have one menu for the entire cruise! Also, the 'classic menu' from the dining room was not available as we had understood (we were told this was a recent change). Entertainment: Something for everyone! The Celebrity Theater brought us some very enjoyable shows. The productions were well done, costumes great, and our only complaint here is that the volume was way to high! There were the usual orchestra, a classical guitarist, a pianist, comedians, and some combinations. Acts that stood out were Alex & Sally, an Adage Duo, and an A Capella group, The Voice Males. The party band, Sipra was especially good. We attended several enrichment talks and enjoyed them. We are not fans of the art auctions and usually prefer to find a quiet spot for reading when there is time to relax. All employees of the cruise line were efficient, friendly and always trying to please. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
First thing I'd like to say is, before booking and sailing on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the seas, I've watch the travel channel many times and was very impressed with all of there ships ammenities and activities. Just the sight ... Read More
First thing I'd like to say is, before booking and sailing on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the seas, I've watch the travel channel many times and was very impressed with all of there ships ammenities and activities. Just the sight of the ships size alone was convincing enough to say "oooh ahhh" I am eager to make my next sail with RCC at any cost. Well, My ship left from Cape Liberty in New Jersey on Aug 1, 2009. Boarding was fast and easy. I was very impressed with the inside of the ships 5th floor promenade "Ooooh Aahhh",,,It is truly the heart of the ship. They get 5 stars***** for that. My Junior Suite was on the 9th floor room 9572, and let me tell you I was not impressed with the size of the room at all((very small)). On Carnival its a normal size room. I saw an online virtual view of the room we had, and it showed the room having a flat screen tv((false)),no flat screen at all, in fact the tv was a 20 inch tv, the same size that's inside my 8 year old daughters room at home,,This is a JUNIOR SUITE?????? Come on!!!! The Balcony was rusted, in need of a paint job.. The food in our Dinning was horrible, but we were able to get the waiter and head waiter to change the menu for us to something we like which was a big plus, and The asst. waiter was a real sweet heart. They went above and beyond to please us and we were very happy with them...We thanked them and made sure they saw it inside the gratuity envelopes at the end of the cruise....5 stars ***** smile My kids were not happy with the 1 A.M. curfew the ship has for kids,,,,On Carnival Funships they can chill out as long as they want. After a certain time part of the WINDJAMMER CAFE was closed on deck 11 which sucked and the food was sometimes dry during those times. On Carnival, Though they dont serve much food on the lido deck after late hours, they do leave the whole Lido deck open so you dont feel force to one side of there cafe like Explorer of the seas did. However, on the 5th floor there is a deli shop that stays open all night, and they were very nice to deal with,,,,,everything fresh all night,,, All the shows we saw on board were out of this world..... 5 stars ***** 5 stars ***** for the rock climbing wall, inline skating, ship shape fitness center and the promendae parades.. In whole, I think Carnival Funship Cruises are 10 times better, all Carnival needs is a basketball court and a rock climbing wall,,,lol Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Went on the 9 night Bermuda and eastern/southern caribbean cruise on Explorer. Our group included 2 diamond members, and 4 gold members in the C&A. Before departing we discovered via Cruise Critic of the damage to the ship. Also RCL ... Read More
Went on the 9 night Bermuda and eastern/southern caribbean cruise on Explorer. Our group included 2 diamond members, and 4 gold members in the C&A. Before departing we discovered via Cruise Critic of the damage to the ship. Also RCL had notified us of the C&A program changes and communication has been made with appropriate management about the unacceptable changes. Enough with the background off to the cruise.We are from the NY/NJ/PA area so we drove up the day of and had a friend drop us off at the port. Bayonne is Bayonne, being from there it's standard but the Russian monument for 9/11 is great and there are good views of the city on a good day. Unfortunately we left in fog and rain, but alas that was our worst weather.We began our cruise with lunch in the Windjammer. Standard fare. I for one miss the grill feature of the older ships. Just my opinion nothing wrong with the indoor grill, but prefer the poolside grill. The windjammer food was average with a better dessert selection than the dining many nights.  After lunch we all checked out our cabins and unpacked. The group had 2 balcony rooms and an interior stateroom. The cabins were adequate although the balconys needed to be touched up.The food at dinner was ok at best. The menu was limited, one steak, one pasta, a fish and 2 vegetarian entrees an evening. Of course the alternate menu was always available. One night in the dining room, the menu presented filet of beef tenderloin. It turned out to be 2 slices of london broil. We have also noticed the portions are smaller and it is now a 3 course meal instead of 4 courses. Another old touch that is missed is the after dinner cordial or as we call it the shot tray. We just miss the little RCL shot glasses with that nights concoction. The service was spectacular from our waiter and assistant waiter. The head waiter simply made rounds. We found the wine package to be a good investment, especially as our evenings were Concierge Club, Dinner, back to the club. Yong in the CC lounge is fantastic. We had a great group and will miss this if our membership is not grandfathered come September. More on this to come.The lunches in the dining room were fantastic. The salad station offered great variety and there were many appealing choices despite the menu being on a two to three day rotation. Breakfast for us was the Windjammer and repetitive by choice. The selection was good and the food hot so it is what it is.We also had dinner at Portofino's one evening. The food is excellent but 2 and a half hours of eating is just gorging for us. What the dining room lacks in portion and presentation Portofinos more than makes up. Service here again was impeccable.After dinner we did trivia and the shows. We're not gamblers so no idea if the tables were hot.Being well-read learned types we finished near the top in each round of trivia and despite missing a round almost won the Ultimate Trivia.The shows were pretty good. Some of the dancer lacked enthusiasm but many of the staff were approaching the end of their contracts. This was extremely noticeable with the cruise director's staff. We do not mind the staff having fun but for the staff to be openly drinking heavily is inappropriate. There were other shenanigans beside the drinking but we'll write that off to kids being kids and their contracts being up. This cruise was a slightly above average cruise for us. The reason for this being above average was the attentive nature of our waitstaff, Merrick and Henri, our cabin stewards, Winston and Franklin and Yong, the concierge lounge attendant. The reason this cruise was not excellent is the lack of variety for food, lack of food/snacks, in the sports bar and English pub, the disinterest of the cruise director's staff and the little cutbacks. The cutbacks were the chocolates on the pillows, the cordials, the smaller portions, and the drink of the day not being pre-poured. These are minor cutbacks but signify a shift in the cruise lines attitude. Historically the cruise is an almost all-inclusive vacation with constant attention. Now we're seeing this change. THe most noteable change is the treatment of the loyalty programs members. As discussed elsewhere on cruise critic and in e-mails and postings by RCL, the diamond members are being excluded from the concierge club. Our disagreement is not in the paying for our drinks but the loss of camraderie. The CC represents a place to re-connect with old friends and meet new ones. Now it will take our group another 10 years at least to re-gain the treatment we believed we had earned through our past loyalty with RCL. For the first time in a long time our multi-generational group is considering other lines and alternate vacations. RCL you have a fantastic product and a loyal customer base. Treat us with the dignity and respect we deserve. We have graciously forked over tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to sail with you. We earned our benefits and wish to keep them. Keep up the good work your doing and return to your greatness. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009

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