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Royal Caribbean InternationalExplorer the Seas ReviewEastern CaribbeanNoreen Chin

Age: 38

Occupation:Banking

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Explorer of the Seas

Sailing Date: August 25th, 2006

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Royal Caribbean International
Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review
Eastern Caribbean

Noreen Chin

The Cruise

The Explorer Itinerary is as follows:
Friday – Leave from Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne New Jersey
Saturday – At Sea
Sunday – At Sea
Monday – St Thomas
Tuesday – St Maarten
Wednesday – Puerto Rico
Thursday - Labadee
Friday – At Sea
Saturday – At Sea
Sunday - Return to Cape Liberty Cruise Port, Bayonne New Jersey

Transportation
We live Northern New Jersey (Bergen County) so can just drive down to Bayonne for the cruise and park at the pier.

Excursions

St Thomas – Coral Land and Coral Sea for $52 each for a total of $104. This is through Royal Caribbean and was booked online.

We booked the following excursion:
St Martin – Island tour for $23 each for a total of $46. This is through Royal Caribbean and was booked online.

Once we arrived at the port, we were able to pull in to unload our big pile of luggage. We gave the porter $10.

We got through security quickly. The agents were set up to check you in by deck and there was no wait at all. We inquired about upgrades and were told the ship is full. We were handed information about boarding that stated that the luggage might take until 9:30pm for delivery.

We went through the line for Sea Pass and Boarding Photos which took about 10 minutes.

We were able to get right onto a shuttle, then right onto the ship.

The longest wait of the embarkation process was waiting for Paul to go around and park after we dropped off the luggage with the porters. It was probably about 1 ½ hours total from the time we first arrived at the pier.

At about 2:30pm we were on board and found our stateroom to drop our tote bag and wheeled carryon that we brought onto the ship. We are in cabin #8224 which is on deck 8, near the front, a D2 Balcony. The balcony is very nice. The safe was locked so we had to call maintenance to get it opened.

The room is bigger than the promenade room I had on the Mariner in March. I was a bit worried if we would have room for our entire batch of luggage once it arrives.

We went up to the Windjammer for a late lunch around 3pm. There wasn’t much for me to eat. I had some French fries and green beans. Paul found a lot to eat (chicken, meat, etc). I was a bit disappointed that there was not much of the food art on the “Welcome Buffet” centerpiece.

The ship is very much like the Mariner. There are small differences here and there but otherwise it’s pretty much the same.

We stopped back at our room around 4pm and all of our luggage has arrived. I started unpacking. Our steward (I didn’t catch his name) stopped by to introduce himself and drop off our shore excursion tickets we preordered on the internet.

I asked him if he could empty the mini bar/refrigerator when he had a chance, about the locked safe, and also about the metal shelf in the shower that I noticed was dangling (it needed a screw to be fixed). He said he’d call maintenance for the safe, he’d take care of the mini bar, and would call in the shower shelf problem.

4:30pm was the Muster drill in the Maharajas Lounged. It was packed in there. It lasted until about 5pm and was very crowded trying to leave when the Muster Drill ended. We started sailing away while we were in the Muster Drill.

5pm We went back to our room to watch the sail away from our balcony.

I finished unpacking. I was shocked because I was able to find space for everything and we both are big over-packers. The suitcases/bags all fit under the bed.

Around 5:45pm maintenance came about the safe and fixed it He also looked at the metal shower shelf, tightened the screw a little and said he would tell someone else about that.

I was debating whether or not to get the soda card. I don’t really like fountain soda so didn’t know if I would really get much use out of it. I decided against it after all.

6pm we went to dinner. Most of the people were very casually dressed with lots of Tshirts and shorts. Since many people may not have gotten their luggage yet, it’s understandable. Everyone at our table was from the Tri-State area.

Our wait staff was very nice but slow. It was our assistant waiters first day. He probably needs a little time to get used to the routine. Our tablemates are very nice. Karen also likes Disney so we chatted about that for a while.

8pm We went to the Welcome Aboard show which was a variety show. It started off with a video that introduced people which I thought was a bit odd. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers performed. The cruise Director (Ashley) spoke. A dance team (a man and woman) performed. They were very bendy. A comedian came on for a bit. There was only one Welcome Aboard show tonight so it was pretty crowded.

9pm We walked all around the ship. We looked at the excursion brochure for Puerto Rico since we don’t have anything booked there yet. We found out that the tram in St Thomas runs until 8pm so we may be able to do that after the Coral Land and Coral Sea excursion.

10:30pm We stopped at the Promenade café for a little pizza snack. The promenade was getting crowded since the parade was starting at 11:15. We didn’t stay for the parade. It was too crowded and not our thing. I enjoyed watching it when I had the promenade room on the Mariner and watched it from the window.

11pm – We stopped back in our room and hung out on the balcony. We received our Crown and Anchor coupon booklets while we were out. The mini bar has not been emptied yet and the shower shelf still had not been fixed.

Saturday 8/26/06 – At Sea

11am was our Informal Cruise Critic get together at the 19th Hole lounge. This was fun and I was able to meet some of the people that I’ve been chatting with on the roll call. It wasn’t a huge turnout but we had about 10 people there.


After Bingo around 4:45 we went back to the Casino. We both played Let it Ride at the table. Then I played some slots and Paul played some blackjack.

Appetizers – I had the escargot which I didn’t like so gave them to Paul; Paul had the shrimp cocktail
Salad – I had a Caesar salad; Paul skipped the salad
Entrée – I had the mushroom linguine Alfredo which was very good; Paul had the Sea Bass but he didn’t like it and said it was too dry so he sent it back and had Duck.
Dessert – I had the Grand Marnier soufflé; Paul had raspberry sherbet.

The Maitre D stopped by and talked up the Cherries Jubilee dessert. A few people at our table ordered it but were disappointed when it came because it was just cherries on a plate with a scoop of ice cream.

We stayed in our formal outfits for the evening. We didn’t see many tuxes – maybe one or two.

We wanted to take a peek at the dinner offerings in the Windjammer just because we’ve never done dinner there. We wandered through. They had most of the entrees from the dining room available (but no Grand Marnier soufflé). The Jade section had sushi so Paul took a few pieces.

9pm Showtime. There were various songs from different Broadway shows. Paul fell asleep during the show.

We went to the Chamber after and there was hardly anyone dancing. They weren’t playing good music. We walked through the promenade.

Sunday 8/27/06 – At Sea
We had a late breakfast in the Windjammer, and then we headed to the Casino. Paul found a cute 5 cent slot machine called Fortune Cookie. He usually likes playing much higher stakes but this machine was adorable and I liked it too. When you hit a certain combination, you got to choose dishes from a menu and the guy taking the order made funny jokes and you get extra money depending on your choices. We played this for a pretty long time.

1pm We went to the Official Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle in Portofinos. There was a huge turnout. They raffled off dinner for two at Portofinos and a RCCL Aqua Mouse. We were all given little pouches with pads and a pen. They took a group photo. I was able to hang out with several cruise critic members.

1:30 Paul left the Meet & Mingle so he could be in the slot tournament. When the Meet & Mingle wrapped up I went down to the casino to find him. It was good timing, as it was his round when I showed up. He didn’t make it t the finals. There isn’t any skill required for the slot machine tournament; you just keep slapping the button. It’s the luck of the machine. It was packed.

We went down to dinner.
Appetizers – I had the focaccia; Paul had somasa (a curry puff pastry)
Salad – I skipped the salad tonight; Paul had a regular salad
Entrée – I had the Farfalle with peas in a cream sauce; Paul had Angus Steak and Thai Shrimp
Dessert – I had coconut parfait; Paul had cappuccino layer cake.

9pm Was Showtime. “John Joseph with Johnny B”. This was a very good show. It was a comedian and a sidekick. They also sang and played music. It lasted until about 10pm and the hour went by really quickly.

10:30pm We went to Battle of the Sexes. We entered Studio B and were separated girls against the boys. This was very cute. There were main teams of 6 boys and 6 girls who were already chosen (they must have gotten there early). There were trivia challenges like Family Feud with audience participation. There were also physical challenges like hula hooping, relay running with a balloon in your legs, musical chairs, etc. It was hysterical. There were also dance challenges where the audience danced in their seats for points. The men won.

We still haven’t received any towel animals.

Monday 8/28/06 – St Thomas
We aren’t arriving in St Thomas until 1pm.

10am I went to the Port talk. It was all about buying jewelry. One guy asked a question about beaches. The woman had no clue about beaches so he left. I asked to confirm that the Guavaberry store would deliver purchases to the ship – again she had no clue. These talks would be more informative if they covered more than just shopping and trying to get you to buy their coupon book.

11:15 I went to the Screening Room to see “Hidden Depths”. There were only four people there – me and three other woman. One girl shared with all of us that she was on her honeymoon and was already fighting with her husband over where the Compasses are and other trivial matters. Sounds like a great start (I’m being sarcastic). I didn’t stay for the whole show since I made plans to meet Paul at the dining for lunch at 12.

1pm We got off the ship and walked around Havensight Mall.

1:45pm We met on the pier for our tour “Coral World and Coral Sea”. Two of our dinner mates, Karen and Joe, were on this tour too. We boarded an open air taxi to take us to Coral World. It’s very hot out.

One we arrived at Coral World one of the tour guides split us into two groups – either the Nurse Sharks or the Barracudas. We were sharks. We were to go on the submersible first. She spent about 15 minutes counting people and this was not very organized. Then we all walked to this area with an overhang. It was probably 2:40 by now. She told the other group to meet back here at 3:30 and to go enjoy the park.

We walked to the submersible. It was not really a submarine that submerged into the water. We were sitting in the bottom of the boat and there were windows. The boat drove around in a big circle. We did see these interesting Velcro Head fish that would attach themselves to the boat. One of the guides went in the water with dog food to get the fish to come near the boat. We didn’t get off the boat part until 3:45 so the other group has been waiting. The bus is scheduled to pick us up at 4:30 to take us back to the ship.

We were able to wander the park now on our own. I expected a small version of Sea World. This was really small. The map made things look much bigger than they were. There was a shark area that was relatively big on the map. I asked Paul if he saw where it was and he laughed at me because I had walked right past it several times (it was a small pool with little sharks in it).

4:30 we left and got on the waiting open air bus in the heat. After 10 minutes I asked when we were leaving. I was told we were waiting for others that are still on the boat. Another open air bus said that they had room for about 7 people. I immediately said the 4 of us would go. We got on the other bus as did three other people and we left. It’s about a 20 minute ride back. We got off at Havensight Mall and wandered around some more. We walked back to the ship just before 6pm and saw the bus we got off of at Coral World just pulling in.

We didn’t think we could go to dinner in the dining room and we’d end up in the Windjammer. We stopped by the dining room just after 6 (as soon as we got back on the ship) and explained we just got back from St Thomas and were we OK to eat dressed as we were (me in Capris, Paul in shorts). They said yes come on in so we went to our table. We were totally prepared to go have dinner in the Windjammer since we weren’t really dressed for dinner.

Appetizers – I had tropical fruit and spring rolls; Paul had seafood salad
Salad – I skipped the salad; Paul had Caesar salad
Entrée – I had the Vegetarian Bami Goreng; Paul had Veal Parmigiana
Dessert – I had Low Fat Mocachino Parfait; Paul had banana cream pie

My Bami Goreng was very good – it was a noodle dish with vegetables.

9pm We went to the Ice Show. It was very good. It was even better than the one on the mariner.

10:30 we went to the Love & Marriage show. It started with a car auction. Picking the contestants was rather boring. They just asked who was married the longest and the shortest and these two couples were in. They than asked for people married around 25 years and had them say “Me Tarzan and give a yell”. They stressed that it should be kept PG. Last time we saw this show on a ship, the contestants were getting into all sorts of cheers, dirty dancing, simulated sex acts, etc to compete to get onto the stage. The show itself was pretty funny.

We went to the Casino for a little while, and then went back to the room to get ready for bed.

We finally had a towel animal – a stringray with the chocolate mints for eyes. However, our floor towel and one washcloth was missing. They were used to make the towel animal which I didn’t want to dismantle.

Tuesday 8/29/06 – St Maarten
We had a quick breakfast in the Windjammer around 8:30. We had to meet our tour between 8:45 and 9am. We booked the St Maarten Island Tour.

We boarded a big air-conditioned bus. The tour guide explained the various things we drove by. We stopped at a lookout point on the Dutch side, then got back on the bus and drove to the French side. We had a 45 minute stop in Marigot. It’s very hot out. There was an air-conditioned mall that we wandered around. The tour guide mentioned the beautiful bathrooms in the mall that they charged you $1 to use – so we used them. They were nice but not as spectacular as she made them seem. We wandered outside through an open air market.

We boarded the bus for the ride back. The tour guide continued to explain everything we were seeing. We got off Downtown, stopped at the Guavaberry store, and ordered 6 bottles of Guavaberry liquor to be delivered to the ship for my friend Kim. Then we went to the Belgian Chocolate shop and bought some chocolates. We wandered a little bit but were very hot so got on the water taxi and went back to the ship.

We got back to the ship around 1:30 and I took another shower. Our towel animal is gone and the towels are back in the bathroom.

Next we headed over to the Solarium Pool It was nice and empty since most people were still on shore. The water in the pool was warm. I expected it to be cooler, but it was very nice. The hot tub was hot. I only stayed in there for about 5 minutes. The fresh water showers by the pool were refreshing. T

6pm We went to dinner.
Appetizers: I had the crab cake; Paul had Pate and soup
Entrée: I had the vegetable risotto; Paul had pork chops
Dessert: I had baked Alaska; Paul had pineapple sherbet.

9pm I went to the Fast Forward show. Paul was playing poker so I went without him. It was good.

I met Paul in the casino after the show for a little while. After playing a bit, I went upstairs to get ready for bed. Paul stayed in the casino to continue playing poker.

Wednesday 8/30/06 – San Juan Puerto Rico
8am We went down to the dining room to go through Immigration. It took about 10-15 minutes.
Then we headed up to the Windjammer for breakfast.

We headed off the ship and into San Juan at little after 9. It’s very hot out. It is very convenient that we docked right in Old San Juan and were able to just walk right off and didn’t need a taxi.


We wandered up and down a few streets. We stopped in McDonalds (Paul wanted to see if it was different than the ones we have in NY/NJ). We saw an ad for the duck tours, which we originally wanted to do in San Juan. However, the Duck Tour website said they were closed on Wednesdays. However, this little paper ad said they were open. Unfortunately, it was already 10:20am and we would not have time to make it all the way over to the Duck Tour place by 10:30 to get on the 11am Duck Tour.

We stopped in the Hard Rock Café but didn’t buy anything. We saw vendors selling imitation bags (Louis Vuitton, Coach, etc) on the street but didn’t buy anything.

6pm We went to dinner
Appetizers: I had fried shrimp; Paul had seafood salad
Salad: I had Caesar salad; Paul had regular salad
Entrée: I had pasta arrabiata; Paul had Osso Buco
Dessert: I had Mocachino Parfait; Paul had sherbet.
After dinner we went back to the casino for a little while. Paul got himself settled at the poker table so may be staying there for the night.

9pm Showtime was a juggling Comedian. Paul stayed at the Hold Em Table.

10:30 Was the Quest. It wasn’t as funny as it’s been in the past. I think it was the cruise director – she’s rather dull. Paul stayed at the Hold Em table and missed the Quest.

IDessert – I had the Sampler Trio which consisted of Chocolate cake, rum cake, and cheesecake. Paul had rainbow sherbet.

After dinner Paul and I went back to the Casino. I played Let it Ride at the table. Paul played poker. I was having fun so didn’t go to the 9pm Vibeology Show. I found out that the later show is at 10:45.

10:30 I went up to the cabin to change out of my formal clothes.

10:45 I watched the Vibeology show. It was OK.

11:30 I went to take pictures of the gala buffet. From 11:30-12:15 it was for picture taking only. It was a madhouse. I didn’t bother going back when it opened to eat.

12:30 I got a slice of pizza at the promenade and went upstairs. Paul came up to change out of his suit. We had pizza together.


We played a game of mini golf. The course was pretty beat up.

I did a little packing.

We ordered a snack from room service – cheese & crackers, fruit, pizza, and cookies. We gave the guy who delivered it a $5 tip.

After our snack Paul headed down to the casino.

3pm We went to watch the Karaoke finals. The woman that won was fantastic. She was a better singer than some of the performers in the shows.

3:45 was the Final Bingo. While we were playing the ship started rocking a lot. Many people were getting sick. The Bingo machine (with the balls in it) slid across the stage. I started feeling a little off and have never had that happen on a cruise before. I went up to the cabin and took Bonine for the first time and laid down. That Bonine wiped me out – I fell asleep. Paul came up a little before 6 so we went down to dinner.
I was feeling better and the ship seemed a bit calmer.

We had the following:
Appetizers – I had the chips with spinach dip. The chips were very greasy. Paul had the hummas with pita
Salad – We both had Caesar salad
Entrée – I ordered the sweet and sour mahi mahi which I didn’t like. So ended up getting macaroni and cheese and French fries from the kid’s menu. Paul had the NY Strip steak.
Dessert – I had the banana parfait; Paul had orange sherbet


FINAL THOUGHTS
Cruising out of Bayonne was great. It was so easy to just drive to the pier and not have to worry about flying. It also allowed us to over pack to our heart’s content and not worry about having to pay airline surcharges for overweight bags. The guarantee cabin worked out very well – we would definitely do that again.




 



 

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