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Keeping a promise we made many years ago to take Heather & Caitlin on a cruise to celebrate their graduation we chose this 9 day Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of the Seas.
Friday We arrived at Cape Liberty NJ at 11:15, waited in a car line for about 10 minutes then dropped off our luggage and passengers and proceeded to the parking area. Plenty of parking was available. Upon entering the terminal and showing our tickets we were directed to the Priority Lounge where we were checkin in, had our sea pass photo taken, our embarkation photo taken and were on the bus to the ship in less than 5 minutes. (Boy did this special treatment impress Heather & Caitlin ) During the 2 minute ride to the ship the girls were stunned by the size of the Explorer.
Since cabins would not be ready til 1PM we went to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was standard buffet food - some very good - some not. We did eat some of our breakfasts and most of our lunches here though as there was always something for us here. We had room service breakfast on Port days and it always arrived on time and warm if not hot.
Once the rooms were ready we checked them out - we were in 8302 - a balcony cabin and the girls were right across the hall in 8301 - a Promonade cabin. Their room was all ready with the Bon Voyage Decorations we had ordered and they were off to Explore the Ship until 4:30 when it was time for Muster Drill. Before Muster drill our luggage arrived so by 4:30 we were all unpacked and ready to enjoy our cruise. RC has recently put new bedding on all their ships and what a difference it makes!!!! Wonderful pillow topped mattresses and new soft bedding.
We sailed at 5PM and it was overcase, windy and not really great deck weather but we stayed on deck til we passed under the Verrazanno Bridge - a sight not to be missed on any NY sail-away.
We found our dining room table - 456 - a table for 6 all the way tucked away in the corner - but our wait staff was so great that first night we decided to stay where we were rather than requesting a table change. We had another couple at our table but I had hoped to have some teens for the girls to meet. Dinners were very good - the new menus are a bit small but we never left there hungry.
After dinner we explored the ship some more - went to the Welcome aboard show (it was OK - nothing great) and introduced the girls to the Casino. Shortly after entering the casino the seas got quite rough (later reported by the Captain as 15') and we were treated to a lightening show like I have never seen before. Even the crew were by the windows watching. It was truly amazing. There seemed to be no breaks at all between the strikes. After later being gently rocked to sleep I awoke the next morning to the smoothest seas we have seen in a long time which fortunately would stay with us for the next 8 days.
Saturday was a sea day - wonderfully calm seas and lots to see and explore on the Explorer and the girls did it all. They went Ice Skating, played shuffle board, ping pong and explored some more. They were amazed at the Promonade and all the shops.
Sunday we arrived in Bermuda - our all time favorite port. Being there from 8 - 5 is a real teaser but we still managed to take the girls to Horseshoe Beach, do some shopping and take them to the Dolphin swim which they just loved.
Monday was a sea day again - more hot weather and smooth seas. Finding a lounge chair by the pool was a problem but we did swim and just realax. After dinner we went to the Ice Show - it was terrific. The best one yet in our opinion.
Tuesday - Arrived in St. Maarten - where we took a semi-submersible sub tour of the coral reefs. Not much to say about that - very few fish, very little coral - a waste of money in our opinion. We are docked next to the Liberty and our huge Explorer is dwarfed by it. It is enormous - much bigger and especially wider than I expected - too big for our tastes though. I think we will skip that one.
Wednesday - St. Thomas today where we took a great private tour of the Islands and did some shopping. The girls bought new i pods which they claimed were a great deal. Went to Sapphire Beach after the tour - they are continually amazed by the crystal clear water. Great tour - great day.We are docked right in front of the Mariner and Sailingrose is on that ship. Unfortunately we would not coordinate our schedules to meet which was a disappointment since when we left the ship that morning we were told we would be there til 8PM instead of the previously posted 6PM. We maybe next time, Rose.
Thursday - San Juan - a wasted stop for us. I love Old San Juan but docking from 7 to 2 hardly gives you enough time to do anything. We did some last minute shopping and went back and enjoyed the quietness of the ship. About an hour after we left, we returned to port with a Medical Emergency - never heard anything about the lady but certainly hope all was OK after we left. Heather said she can now tell all her friends she sailed out of Puerto Rico twice during the summer.
Friday & Saturday - more beautiful but hot days at sea. There is always so much going on during the day you can't do it all but boy did the girls sure try. They are completely hooked on cruising and before we left the ship made us promised to take them again in four years when they get their college degrees. We happily make that deal with them.
Sunday - despite our delay in leaving San Juan we were only 20 minutes late arriving in Cape Liberty. We were docked by 7:30 and our color was the first one called at 9AM. We were off the ship and dropping the girls off before 10AM - the earliest debarkation ever. However, I have heard that after we left the ship, things slowed down and some people were still on the ship at Noon.
All in all this was a wonderful cruise and we loved every minute of it. We did not go to any of the production shows - they are all repeats from last year - but they are working on new ones. They had 3 different comedians on board - 2 very good one not and also a magic act which we skipped. Even with missing some of the shows were were never bored and would take this cruise again in a second. Once again, Royal Caribbean did not disappoint.