Overall Rating: Excellent
|Departed From:||Cape Liberty, NJ|
|# of Nights:||5-6 Nights|
Leaving from Cape Liberty is easy once you get to the terminal. A one lane road from the highway to the terminal (several miles) can get terribly backed up (it took us about 30 minutes to get to the luggage drop off point.) Once inside the terminal you are given a number and directed to the appropriate check in line. It is necessary to take a bus from the terminal to the ship as this is an industrial area with lots of truck traffic. Buses are quick and the line moves along nicely. You enter the ship on deck 1 which does take away from the WOW factor of entering the Promonade for the first time. Rooms are generally not ready until 1PM but the Windjammer is open for lunch and you can quickly pass the time exploring the ship.
We booked a last minute Explorer cruise to Bermuda and were very happy with the guarantee balcony cabin we were assigned.
Cabin 7670 towards the aft - was well laid out with plenty of storage space. Our cabin steward kept the room very clean and was always ready to help. In addition to cleaning the cabin the furniture on the balcony was wiped down each day and the balcony doors cleaned. I returned to the room one morning to find the head of housekeeping, armed with a checklist, running his fingers along our baseboard to be sure they were clean. The bathroom is small but the addition of glass shower doors rather than the dreaded shower curtain are a great improvement. Generic shampoo and conditioner are available in a dispenser in the shower.
Because of our late booking we were assigned to late seating in the MDR but a visit to the Maitre'd on the first day had us changed to early seating with no problem although seating us with our friends was not possible. We were assigned to the Balboa Dining room which was a very small room (only holds about 50 people) off to the side of the main dining room on deck 3. It was very nice and we received great service from our wait staff and enjoyed all of our dinners there. I know food is very subjective but I must say we were very pleased with the food. It was a very big improvement over the last time we sailed on the Explorer. Food was served hot and portions were good. Our waiter always seemed to bring an extra appetizer or dessert to our table. Food in the Windjammer was typical buffet food - some thing better than others but a very big variety. Be sure to go all the way to the back of the Windjammer to find more options. We did not get to eat in Portofino's on this trip but those that did reported food and service were terrific.
We found the ship to be in great shape and the crew is constantly polishing and cleaning. As compared to another cruise I have recently taken on another cruise line the crew of the Explorer seem happy and make you feel like they are really happy to have you on board. Captain Olav Nyseter was seen all over the ship and even led the waiters parade in the dining room one night. Chris Northey, Cruise Director was all over the place and kept things moving offering a large variety of the usual activities.
There is always something going on in the Promonade from the Parade on the first night to just sitting people watching. Besides the usual shops there is an English Pub, a Sports Bar, Ice Cream counter and a place to get coffee, tea as well as cookies and small sandwiches and pizza. There are tables available
The pool area does get crowded and chair hogs are a problem but they do try to enforce the rules by removing belongings when lounges are vacant for any length of time. We found that by going up 1 deck above the pool we never had a problem getting a whole group of loungers together for our group. While the main pool area is crowded the adults only pool was never crowded and was a nice quiet place to read, swim or just relax. We did not use the spa but friends did and reported all machines were in good condition and working fine. They particularly enjoyed looking out to the sea while on the treadmills.
Because we were traveling with a group we did not get to any of the shows in the evenings - opting instead for a quiet corner in the Aquarium Bar to visit and enjoy each others company. We did get to see the Ice Show one afternoon and it was great. Do not miss it. They will post when and where to get tickets in the daily compass which you will receive in your cabin each night.
Debarkation was quick and relatively painless. We docked at 8AM - the ship was cleared by 9 and we were off the ship by 9:30 (although we were one of the first groups called) Again, a short bus ride from the ship to the terminal is necessary and the same route along a 1 lane road back to the highway seem to move a bit faster than it does entering the port.
For anyone booked on The Crazie Explorer cruise Sept. 15, 2011 I think (no - I know) we will have a grand cruise. If you are on the fence about joining us,. please seriously consider it.
Any questions, please ask. I have some photos but need to download them and get them labeled and sorted out before I post them.