Explorer of the Seas
September 22, 2006
This was our second time on the Explorer. Our party was made up of family and friends, with most of us in our 40’s and 50’s.
We left home on a cool, but sunny day at about 7:30 and arrived at port about 10:30. The Bermuda folks were still getting off ship which caused a very brief wait for a porter to take the luggage. Being Diamond members, check in was very speedy. We waited only about 5 min in the priority lounge before the first shuttle arrived at 11:35 am and we were on our way. The hallways were closed off until 1pm so we went up to the Windjammer for lunch. (It opened at 11:45) Food was only so-so, with some food already cool, even though were some of the first few to arrive. Deserts however, were good. After lunch it was off to see our cabin. Surprise! DH had pre-ordered an arrangement of roses, over 3 dozen for our anniversary. Gorgeous. We then changed and took off for the solarium and the hot tubs, our first day routine since there are never crowds there. DH napped immediately, until roused about 3pm (it had gotten a bit chilly out). Our luggage, which was in the hall, was retrieved by DH and we quickly unpacked (quickly because after many cruises we know just where we want everything). Muster drill was at 4:30 and due to a comedian crew member (a RCCI dancer), was painless this time. We sailed at 5 pm. Watched briefly from balcony, then got ready for early seating dinner. Our group of 19 were seated at 2 window tables with a wonderful view that my TA husband had prearranged. Our waiter Oliver learned all our names the first night, and could be counted on to give good menu recommendations. The only time I didn’t listen, I was wrong. He said the veal was not very good and he was right. I ended up ordering something else. When my sister-in-law ordered tapioca pudding he told her “it is wallpaper paste”. She quickly chose something else. The head waiter was also very good, and really earned his tip. There was only one show tonight, a comedian Carl Guerra. We were tired and did not last through the whole show. We hit the hay early, the only night DH got in before 1:30-3 am, not that I am telling tales. It was windy with some rocking, but I enjoy that since it rocks me right to sleep.
Sat 9/23 at sea, a great place to be
Sunny, with some clouds. Cool, but warmed up nicely during the day. Ate breakfast in Windjammer and headed for hot tubs. Did nothing but lay around all day (isn’t that what sea days are for?). At 5 pm we headed up to Cloud 9 for our free drinks, courtesy of our Diamond member benefit. Since the rest of our group haven’t racked up enough cruises yet to join us, we left there early and went to Dizzy’s with them for Happy Hour, the first of nine. This was formal night. We enjoy dressing up and seeing what everyone else is wearing. Dinner was delicious. Shrimp cocktails and escargot, fillet of beef, and mushroom linguine all good. DH said beef was very tender. After dinner was the captain’s reception, with the main seating show at 9pm. The show was Fast Forward, which we had seen before. It was ok, but we thought it was done better the first time we saw it. Can’t remember which ship. After the show we took off to see “Who wants to be a millionaire”, which was cute, and then to karaoke. I didn’t last long there, pooped out early again. DH however, took off for the casino and had a fine time playing Texas Hold EM with some new friends, including the next night’s headliner, comedian Sal Richards. He finally strolled back in at 3am.
Sun 9/24-at sea
Breakfasted in Windjammer again (can always count on those delicious pastries), and off to solarium. Much warmer today, despite clouds at times. Nice day. Did nothing again all day until Happy Hour, which was in the Champagne bar today, a very nice little lounge. Dinner tonight was beef with crab topping and Béarnaise sauce; so-so. Forget the passion fruit tart, but the cappuccino cake was very good. Unfortunately, we had it for lunch in the Windjammer; I don’t know why they do that when the number of selections is limited. Tonight was the repeater’s party, which we always enjoy. It is fun to hear about what is new with RCCI, while enjoying those free drinks. We should have let our waiter know we had someplace to go because we finished dinner late and when we got to the party, there was no seating to be had. Luckily the drinks taste just as good standing up. They had tasty looking Hors D'oeuvres, but we weren’t interested, having just eaten. We found out that there were so many repeaters that they had to have three repeaters parties and our table mates were all at different ones. It would have been more thoughtful to put all of us together, since we were cross referenced as being in a group. Who wants to party alone. After the party we headed back to our room for a bit and found surprise decorations, chocolate covered strawberries, and champagne from friends and family. A very nice surprise for our 30th anniversary. The headliner tonight was comedian Sal Richards, who we really enjoyed. As I wrote, my DH met him the night before at the Hold UM table. He had mentioned that he boarded in St Thomas during conversation and my TA husband couldn't understand how that was done. He explained that he boarded there because he was to be the comedian headliner the next night. Of course my DH asked him if he was funny which generated some laughter at the table. Sal said "I sure am". And he definately did put on a great show. We skipped Battle of the Sexes held later We headed off to The Chamber for 70’s music, a lounge I did not care for, but the rest of our crowd enjoyed until the wee hours. Another 3 am arrival by my sweetie.
Still at sea, with St Thomas arrival imminent. Took an early am hot tub soak with my brother and sister-in-law, then retrieved my DH at 9 am for breakfast, Windjammer again. (Food in dining room is always better, but we aren’t sociable in the early am. Plus, it takes too long. Just my opinion.)
Went out to sit in the sun and got hit with a very brief downpour.
Arrived at St. Thomas at about 1 pm and headed off to Morningstar beach. This very nice beach is close to the port and was not at all crowded. There are chairs and umbrellas for rent, but we didn’t bother. Taxi was $6 pp each way and no charge for the beach. There was a waitress selling drinks on the beach. We did not partake, but the pina coladas sure looked good. We shopped a little at Havensight after the beach, but felt rather rushed since we had the main seating dinner. This isn't usually a problem, but beacause the ship arrived in the afternoon, it made for a busy afternnon. There was only one other ship in port, making it very uncrowded, compared to other cruises. It remained this way for the entire cruise, with no other ships in sight most of the time. Tonight there was no main show, so we went to the “Planet Ice” show.
The ship's skating shows are always great. Then at 10:30 the Love and Marriage Show. Always hilarious, even with mostly the same questions on each ship. Ashley was really very good with this show.
After the show, DH trotted back to the casino, while I headed for the balcony and a good book.
Tues 9/26 St.Maarten
Arrived at 7 am and headed quickly to Orient Beach. We like morning beach trips to beat the worst of the heat, and the Caribbean showers that often pop up in the afternoon. Orient was not very crowded this trip. Seems to be hit or miss for crowds.
We rented chairs and umbrellas right next to the nudie section at $10 for 2 chairs, an umbrella, and a drink each. There is a rest room nearby too. Bar called Jericho I think. It was a sunny, windy, lovely day here. We headed back to the ship for lunch at 12:30 and then took a water taxi shopping in town. The water taxi is the way to go, $5 for all day rides. You get a wrist band. We had fun, but having no success shopping, saved a ton of money here! The show tonight was Michael James, a kind of a comedian, acrobat. Good show. Later we took in karaoke, where DH and his sister judged (free drinks). Just remember if you plan to judge, hit the restroom before you hit the beer.
Late tonight was the Dancing Under the Stars deck party, which is always fun. This one seemed quieter than usual. We are always amazed at how many people can shovel in more food, when they just ate a short time ago. And how fast said food disappears.
After the party DH went back to casino and I crashed again.
Wed 9/27 San Juan
After a quick and painless immigration, we had planned to go to Escabron beach, which DH had researched as a good choice thanks to Cruise Critic. We set it up with the “dispatcher” who you have to go through for a taxi here, but when we got to the taxi our driver convinced us to go to another beach, Isla Verde. He told us that Escabron was
“the worst beach in the world” and that we needn’t pay if we did not like his beach. Anyway, we took his advice and were not sorry. It was a very nice long beach, with trees for shade and chairs for rent. Bar across street, for those interested. Never saw any changing facility, but didn’t need one either. Lounges were $4 apiece, cheap compared to most beaches. The driver picked us up at a pre-arranged time (Carlos) and charged $20 each way for the six of us ( plus we tipped him). This beach is about 20 min away from the port.
If anyone has first hand experience of Escabron beach, I would like to hear about it, to see if we missed anything. All six of us were pleased with our decision though.
Lunch at Windjammer again. The food is better than my pb and jelly usual, but not as good as when we first started cruising 15 yrs ago. They have Jade here, which they added since our first trip on the Explorer 5 years ago, but it is small and nothing special. Still I never went away hungry. After lunch was hot tub time, until the later afternoon when DH and a friend climbed the rock wall. Both of them did a fine job and rang the bell, signaling success. This despite DH’s possible broken toe, sustained tripping over a lounge chair at Orient Beach, trying to keep the beach free of flying trash, like a good boy. After the wall I played miniature golf with my brother and his wife, then it was nap time till happy Hour was once more upon us. At dinner I made my only ordering error. Forget the veal.
It was Smart Casual night. Don’t sweat this if you don’t know what it means, there was every manner of outfits, including casual and dinner jackets.
Tonight’s show was the Drifter’s, which we had seen twice before on other cruises. We heard it was good, but we skipped it for a lovely night on deck in the hot tub with family.
Thurs 9/28 Labadee
We arrived before the planned time of 9 am and were lucky enough to grab the first tender where we charged off to Hideaway Beach and “my spot”.
It was hot and sunny again and just a perfect day. Water was like bath water. Lunch was the usual picnic barbecue. Nothing to rave about, but again not going hungry. A Labadoozie to finish it off helped. The trip back to the ship was not too fun. Too hot for the long line we waited in. We cooled off with showers and Happy Hour at Dizzy’s, a great place to watch when leaving any port.
The headliner was Billy Fellows, billed as a comic composer, a guy who has been around as an entertainer a long time. I liked him, others did not. He is different. He left with us in Bayonne, so not sure if that was his only trip, or not. At 10:30 was Quest in Studio B. We miss the old Quest in the lounge, but this “mass Quest” is still hilarious and not to be missed.
Tonight DH went out again with his sister to The Chamber, I skipped that.
Fri 9/29 at sea
Today was a sunny day, with some clouds, a brief pm shower, and a lot of folks sleeping in. I had a rotten headache (no, not from the drinkies) and found the noise at the pool just made it worse. Took a long pm nap with DH and woke up much better and ready for formal night. The show tonight Vibeology, was another production show that we had seen before. It was done much better before. There didn't seem to be a great stand out singer that there usually is on most cruises. Those that never saw it before liked it just fine.
Following that we wandered around a bit trying to find a home. Piano bar too full, so hung out on Promenade for awhile. This is so good for people watching. We viewed the Gala Buffet, but again did not partake. I took off for my balcony and DH watched the parade and then went to the casino for another late night.
Sat 9/30 at sea
I was not a happy camper this morning. Got up early at 6:30 planning a hot tub soak before breakfast and found not one working until 7:30. GRRR.
Today it was still sunny and lovely sitting outside, so we took advantage of our last day and enjoyed.
At 11:30AM was the party for Diamond members only in Dizzys, a nice perk that we enjoyed. They had a nice spread of food including fried shrimp and chocolate covered strawberries, free drinks (Mimosas were good) and some of the crew gave short speeches. They answered a few questions and we were done by noon. Short, but fun.
Tonight’s show was Dale Scott, a VERY bad magician and Majestic, very good acrobats, who were on stage too short a time. They also did the Cruise in review thing.
Then it was pack (boo) and hit the hay for the last lovely cruise sleep.
We awoke to a lousy rainy day in not so beautiful Bayonne. We had to vacate rooms by 8 am. Had breakfast in dining room where we had their delicious french toast. Then went to Studio B to wait with family. (Diamond members go to Maharajas lounge) We had first tags and were off by 9:10 and sadly said good-bye to another great cruise.
Wonderful weather, with terrific beach days and and almost no rain to speak of.
Drove from upstate NY to Bayonne, NJ Port Liberty and parked in lot. $135 for the 9 days. Yes; did have spray on car after cruise; gritty feel to paint now.
No new bedding in our room 7618, or in promenade room 6287. Did have it
JR suite 9618.
Captain Ole Johan Gronhaug
CD Ashley Kerr; thought she did a fine job and was very visible.
Murder Mystery was the first night unfortunately.
Drinks were as good as always, especially the Love Connections
Table 507 in Columbus dining room - window table that we enjoyed and a great waiter-Oliver Marin.
Ship is in fine shape. New carpets throughout. No noticible wear anywhere.
The only negative, the hot tubs were often too cool or non-functioning; especially in the early morning hours. Frustrating when you need them for pain relief.