Royal Caribbean InternationalExplorer the Seas ReviewBermudaPat Lingwall
Occupation:Retail Store Manager
Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Explorer of the Seas
Sailing Date: May 28th, 2006
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Royal Caribbean International
Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review
I searched for a review
on this cruise before I left, and did not find any. So, in case anyone else
desires information regarding cruising to Bermuda on RCCL Explorer of the Seas,
My friend and I booked our cruise to Bermuda one month in advance and received a great price. We were excited looking online at the Royal Caribbean website, which was very informative, regarding stateroom and the layout of the ship. Due to viewing this website, we felt more at ease at finding our way around this huge ship.
This cruise was my friend's 1st cruise and my 5th. I have always heard good things about RCCL, and was looking forward to my own experience.
We sailed out of Cape Liberty in Newark. We flew into Newark Liberty Airport around 11:00am on Sunday morning. After we picked up our baggage, we got a taxi to take us to the Port. The cost was $40 + tolls and tip. There was a $1.00 per bag, over 2 per person, also. The drive to the Port took about 10 minutes, but the Port itself was a traffic jam. The ship was still disembarking when we arrived there around 11:30am. This concerned us, regarding our future disembarkation plans on June 2. (Will tell you how we conquered this later in this review). Our cabbie was very antsie about the time it was taking to drop us off. We felt like he would have liked us to suggest that he let us out and we would walk! There was very little communication or signage by the port to tell the drivers where to go if dropping off, to pickup or to park. Even though the cabbie gave us a bit of grief, we tipped him $5 just to be done with it.
Once we made it to the porters, everything moved much better. Since we were a bit early, the porters were not busy. We tagged our luggage and tipped the porters $1 per bag. I think that is the common going rate. However, we probably should have consider the weight and several of our bags and tipped more. ( When you check your bags with the porters, you probably won't see them till dinner time. So, pack a change of clothing and makeup in a bag for you to carry on to the ship. Especially if you are early, you won't be able to get to your stateroom right away. We saw people who had packed their swimming suits and were enjoying the sun and water even before getting to their stateroom!) After checking the bags, we went through the check-in process, which was a breeze. We had checked-in online and had printed out our "sign and sail" document. All we had to do was show our passports and/or birth certificate, give them our credit card for the on-board purchases, ( they made an imprint) and we were through the check-out process. Again, we were early and I am sure that the lines increased during the busy hours later in the day.
After we checked-in, we were given a number for the shuttle. This port does not have a walkway directly from the building to the ship, so they shuttle you by bus to the gangway. We were shuttle 4 and we were on the ship by 12:30pm. We looked around a bit - in awe of all the beautiful artwork and sculptures. The ship was very clean and the way the Royal Promenade is in the center of the ship, made going from aft to forward a breeze. We ate lunch at the Windjammer -- the food was standard cruise fare - but on the whole it was good.
We accessed our cabin about 2:30pm. Some of our luggage was already there. (The rest came throughout the afternoon, with 1 bag delivered after dinner.) The inside stateroom was smallish, but as soon as we had the beds split for two separate beds, the room seemed to gain space. The couch in the room was a nice touch - we didn't have to always sit on the bed. The bathroom accommodations were small, but very clean with no water damage. We always had hot water and the drain were operating efficiently. At first, I was a little disappointed in the beds - they look like cots! But they were fairly comfortable. We were able to put all our luggage under them to keep the closet clear for clothes (tip - nest your luggage if possible - to save space.) The closet seemed bigger than the Carnival and Holland America closets (my previous experiences). Our stateroom had enough hangers for both of us to hang the necessities. There are six shelves in the closet and drawers on both sides of the desk. There really was plenty of space for two women who packed way too much stuff!
We went up on the upper deck by the main pool (which is huge with several hot tubs) to watch the sailing. We knew we would see the Statue of Liberty and did not want to miss it. About 20 minutes after departure, we went under the Verescono bridge, which was awesome. As the ship approaches it, the bridge looks too low. When you pass under it and look up, it really seems like a close fit.
While we were on board we ate at Johnny Rockets. There is a $4 cover charge and then you can order what you like for that amount. They did charge extra for the shakes, but they were yummy, We did not go to Portifino's, the specialty restaurant with the $20 cover per person, but we heard it was a good choice for an intimate dinner. We ate in the dining room every night and were pleased with the service. The food was good, but nothing to write home about. (A cruise is such a feeding frenzy, that I am not sure what good food would taste like!) It is always fun to know that you can try any and as many of the appetizers and entrees and desserts you like. (Be brave and try new things -- If you don't like it, your waiter will bring something else!) We had the late dining and enjoyed it, however, I can see why most people want the early dining.
We headed to the spa to book some pampering. We chose the Seaweed Wrap and Massage. By booking for the day of sailing, we paid at port charges which was $156. It was an hour and a half of sheer heaven. We felt like our bones melted by the time we left. The employees of the spa are geared to sell you product - but don't feel pressured unless you love the product. The products are pricey.
We spent most of our time at the Solarium. This was a pool just off from the Ship Shape center on Deck 11 forward. There was plenty of sun and plenty of chaises in the shade. Also, the whirlpool, sauna and steam room in the Ship Shape center were very convenient. The workout area was always busy. Loads of different exercise equipment and a great running/walking track.
The entertainment was good. The ice show, which you need to get tickets for, was great. In room offerings of movies on demand was a nice touch -- however -- there was no mention of a charge - $11.95 per movie -- that will be added to your bill. So beware!
The ship has a really nice library with many books. Also, the internet access area looked well furnished with computers. The Explorer has one whole floor devoted to a conference center. We didn't see it, but noticed it on the ship diagram.
The casino was larger than other ships I have been on. Also, the Palace Theater was a nice size with good seating all around.
On the Royal Promenade, there is a small cafe where you can get pizza, snacks and specialty coffees. Also, Ben and Jerry's was available for an extra charge. The shops on the Promenade were ok -- nothing out of the ordinary.
I have been to Bermuda before, so I had an idea of what we wanted to do. We bought a 2 day bus pass for $20 each, but probably would have saved money just buying tokens, since we only used the bus once and the ferry once. Bermuda is not the most exciting port, but taking the ferry to Hamilton is fun to see all the pastel colored houses and the beautiful water. Shopping is pretty much the norm, but you can get some good buys on jewelry.
We went to Horseshoe Bay beach. It was beautiful, but crowded with 5 cruise shipped docked around the island. We rented beach chairs for $10 each with a $5 deposit (cash) and and umbrella for $10 + deposit. It is quite a hike down hill, with uphill option of a $1 shuttle. Best dollar I ever spent. We talked to some people from our ship who went to Shark Bay beach (no restroom facilities) and they said it was less crowded, a shorter walk, and you could see the fish in the water. It was just of the bus-line. The bus drivers are very helpful in making sure you get off where you want to be. Just ask.
Disembarkation on a cruise ship is always the least best part of cruising. If you can arrange it - have an early afternoon flight so you won't panic when things don't move as fast as you want them too. Unfortunately, my friend was trying to get to the west coast and we had late morning flight times. We ended up changing them, but probably could have made them after we did the following. If you book your cruise and flights through a travel agent, this step is probably already taken care of for you. But since we booked online we were given a later boarding number. We went to customer service and explained our situation. We were given the earliest boarding number. When disembarking, customs can take awhile. We hung out in the library after clearing out of our stateroom. The gang way is on the aft end of the ship and so is the library. When they called our number, we were fortunate to get an empty elevator and made our way to the exit. We got on the second shuttle and we were in a cab (standing at the ready) and on our way to the airport by 9:00am.
I hope that this review will help you in planning your cruise. It is the best way to take a vacation. Enjoy.