This was our third time on the Explorer. Our party was made up of family and friends, with all of us in our 40’s and 50’s.

Short version:
Mostly great weather, with terrific beach days and no rain to speak of.
Drove from upstate NY to Bayonne, NJ Port Liberty and parked in lot. $144 for the 9 days.

Captain Sverre Ryan
CD Mike Hunnerup; thought he did what he was supposed to, but was “forgettable”.
Drinks were as good as always, but have gone up substantially in the past few months
Ship is in fine shape, but there are signs that it will need attention in the future
Hot Tubs were for the most part always available and hot.

Long version:

Thursday October 23
We left home on a cool, but sunny day at about 8 AM and arrived at port about 11 AM. 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 until around noon for the first shuttle to arrive. We were soon headed for the ship.
The hallways were closed off until 1:30 pm so we went up to the Windjammer for lunch. Food was only so-so as we‘ve come to expect here. Deserts are a big disappointment from cruises in the past. Seems like the same exact selections cruise after cruise and most aren’t that great. After lunch it was off to see our cabin.
We had center hump 7318 on deck 7. Best location on the ship as far as I’m concerned. Close to the aft stairs and elevators which is great for getting most anywhere on the ship quickly.
We met up with my wife’s sister (first time cruiser) for a tour of the ship. Around 3, my wife tried out the hot tubs in the solarium. Not hot enough for her. She found a good one outside by the pool and stayed there awhile while I took a break. Back to the cabin around 4 and met our cabin steward for the next 9 days, Marvin. Our luggage had arrived so we quickly unpacked (quickly because after so many cruises we know just where we want everything). Muster drill was at 4:30 and was done quite quickly.
We sailed at 5 pm. We quickly showered and headed for the Diamond overflow lounge at Cloud Nine on deck 14. We really enjoy the free cocktails that our Diamond status affords us and take advantage on most nights before our main dinner seating.
At 6 we headed down to the Columbus Dining Room on deck 5. Our waiter Ricardo and assistant Oscar greeted us. We found that they were an excellent pair. Great service for the entire cruise.
I ordered the prime rib as usual, as well as 1 or 2 others at the table and we all were very disappointed with the quality. If RCL can’t serve a decent prime rib, I think it shouldn’t be available at all. I decided to choke it down because we wanted to be out on time for the early show at 7:45. Fortunately, I found this to be the only meat dish that was below the standard I expect.  More on the other meat dishes later. Wife ordered the cod and she said it had little taste. The deserts were quite good. Our waiter was great at making sure that we were out on time for our parties on other nights too. 
At the show, our cruise director, Mike Hunnerup (Australian) did the usual opening with the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. All very good. The comedian, Louis Johnson was also pretty funny.
After the show we went to get our free skating tickets out on the promenade. Unfortunately we did not get our first choice. We hadn’t been in that much of a hurry, because we never before had a problem getting the time we wanted on other sailings. We’ll be a little faster next time.
At 9 my wife went back to the cabin to finish unpacking and read. I went to the casino for awhile.
Bedding was very comfortable.

Friday October 24th  at sea, a great place to be!
Up at 5:30 and off to the Café Promenade for coffee. That is my wife, not me. She met her sister and talked with some new friends she’d met.
Ship was really rocking today on our way to Bermuda. Captain said it was typical weather. We saw barf bags on the stairways. We didn’t mind it much. Kind of fun watching everyone else complain about it.  I’m not much of a breakfast person, so I didn’t care all that much about what was available in the windjammer.
For lunch, I would like something decent to eat and it seems more and more difficult to do that over the years. If you like Asian, then you are good to go. Jade is very good according to the wife. She pretty much ate there all the times we went to lunch in the windjammer. I on the other hand, usually hunt down the meat carver for a hot entrée. Not a big fan of cold dried up burgers, luke warm hot dogs, or stone cold cracker like pizza.
Afterwards we walked around for awhile browsing in the shops and looking at some pictures. Decided it was time for a nap now.
Formal dinner is tonight and after our Cloud Nine trip we headed down. The menu is looking really great tonight. I started with the shrimp cocktail while my wife chose the escargot. We chose the beef filet and duck for our selections. Can’t believe it’s the same ship after the previous dinner yesterday. Beef was awesome!!!! Duck was great too.
After dinner we went out into the promenade for the captain’s welcome aboard reception. Free champagne for all. After that we headed to the show. Was supposed to be one of the main shows, but was postponed until tomorrow because of the stage being broken and unsafe for the dancers. An impressionist, Sandra from Cuba entertained and was very good. Remember seeing her a few years back. Watched karaoke for awhile, set the clock back an hour, and went to bed.

Hint: If you want to enjoy the beach, ALWAYS go early if weather is good. In the Caribbean, weather often turns showery in the afternoon. Not bad to shop in, but not good for the beach.

Saturday, October 25th  Bermuda    
Wife is up at 6:30 and headed for the hot tub. She stayed a half hour then came and picked me up for breakfast in the windjammer.
We’re supposed to be in Bermuda at 9:15, but were delayed until almost 10:30 for some reason or another. It’s in the 70’s and quite nice out. Our group went to the Royal Navy Dockyard, craft market, and glass factory  which is a short walk from the ship. Two of our group went to the Maritime Museum ($10 pp) and the rest of us went to Horseshoe Beach. Took awhile to figure out how to do it because of poor signage. You have to use tokens to use the bus. Once we figured out what to buy and what bus to use, we were off. Much easier next time. Cost is $4 pp each way on bus #7. The bus drops you off on the main road. The driver will tell you where to pick up the bus again for the ride back. Give yourself plenty of time because the bus can be delayed and once on, it takes about ½ hr back to the ship. From the drop off, you have to walk down a long hill to the beach. There is a van that makes the trip back and forth for $1 if you aren’t up to walking.
Horseshoe beach is beautiful. Lots of soft sand and much to look at as you can see in the pictures. Rough waves today. We walked around for an hr and headed back for the bus.
Back on the ship, we grabbed a small sandwich and  headed to Dizzies for sail away at 3:30. Wife had a champagne cocktail. Up to $9 now from $7 a year ago.
Dinner tonight started with cauliflower soup for my wife which she liked. I had a shrimp appetizer. Didn’t like. Had Cajun seasoning or something on it. For the main course, we had the beef dish and the Thai Shrimp. Both were good. Desert was cappuccino cake. Good also.
The main show, Fast Forward was tonight. We’ve probably seen it 3 or 4 times. Singers were excellent!
Quest was, as always, a riot. Should never be missed. You just have to see it if you haven’t before. Wife went to bed and I visited the casino.

Sunday October 26th   At Sea
Beautiful and warm, we sat in chairs near the pool for the morning. Lunch is Johnny Rockets today. Sat on the upper deck in the afternoon. Very windy. Found a great spot that isn’t so windy. All the way aft on deck 11 or 12, it’s quite calm.
For dinner I selected the lamb. I knew it was hit or miss with this dish. It’s great sometimes and not others. Tonight, not. Sent it back and got the steak that’s on the menu every. Not bad at all.
The show tonight featured Peter Gross a comedy magician. Just so so
I’d say. Late night was Louis Johnson and was worth staying up for.

Monday October 27th  St Martin
Another beautiful sunny day. Wife is in the hot tub early with her sister. Walked around awhile awaiting our scheduled noon arrival.
Lucky us, we docked at 11am. Had a real fast lunch and off to Orient Beach, one of our favorite beaches in the Caribbean. Cab is $7pp as long as you have 3 or more. If not it’s $18 for 1 or 2. 6 or more and the price drops to $6 each. We walked just a few feet on the beach and stayed at Le String. We received a lounge, umbrella, and your drink choice at the bar for $8. Great day and we stayed until we had to leave to catch the ship.
The show tonight is action comedy with Charles Peachock. Good show.
The deck party is at 11 or so. No more midnight buffet, so this is your chance for a late night meal. The band is playing and it’s the place to be. Lots of fun.

Tuesday October 28th  St Thomas
Up early and off to immigration. Always go as early as you can. Even though lines are extremely long sometimes, it goes very fast. Everyone must go to this even if you don’t plan on getting off the ship. Today is quite cloudy so we opt to do the reverse of our custom. Shop first and beach in the afternoon. We almost never go into town. All the major stores are right off the pier in Havensight. Found a sapphire ring at Cardow that caught my wife’s eye so we purchased it. If you see some jewelry you like, definitely consider buying it. You will rarely see the same thing  at home. Back to the ship for some lunch. Seems to be clearing up too.
For the beach today, we choose Emerald. We’ve been to Megan’s Bay, Sapphire, and Morningstar beaches. We visited Emerald for a very short time last March, but had to leave early because my wife was ill. Over on the other side of town near the airport (Cost for the taxi is $6 pp), it’s just as nice as Megan’s Bay in my opinion, just without the crowds and entrance fees. You’ll be charged for a chair and umbrella, but not required if you’d like to lay on a towel. Facilities and restaurant service if you’d like too. Stayed for over 3 hours and enjoyed every sunny minute.
Show tonight is Vibeology, another show we’ve seen a few times. Great singers and dancers. The love and marriage show is after and was good too.

Wednesday October 29th   San Juan
It’s sure hot today. Docked next to the Liberty. We can actually see in each others lounges. Off early to Isle Verde, a beautiful beach only about a 20 minute taxi ride. Cost is $20 for all 5 of us. Lounges are available for only $4. Long beach to walk and lots of big waves. Reminded me of Maine and Cape Cod beaches, just without the ice cubes in the water. Stayed from 9 to noon, then back for lunch on the ship. Today the crew served a barbeque on deck. Unbelievably crowded, so we opted for the windjammer instead. The wife goes straight to Jade and always finds something good there. I always look for the carving station hoping I’ll like what they have.
Back out on deck for sail away at 2pm. Another gorgeous day. Had a drink before getting ready for formal night. Tonight is also the Platinum/Diamond Reception for past guests. Dinner looks good. We both had the roast beef. Excellent! Deserts, not what they used to be years ago. Chocolate bread pudding and pecan butterscotch pie did nothing for us.
The show tonight is the Beatlemaniacs. They were quite good, but too much interaction with the audience. I want to see them sing, not talk.  We saw Beatlemania on a ship a few years ago and I thought that was better.
After the show, all of our group met up at one of the hot tubs outside. Stayed about 45 minutes. A great night for it too.

Thursday October 30  At Sea
Up early as usual. Wife is off to the hot tub for therapy. It’s very cloudy and windy this morning. All the pools are closed for safety.  We opt for the solarium which is nice. Walked around later in the morning. Access to deck 4 outside was roped off. No one allowed out there today because of the wind.
The promenade was all decorated for the Halloween party which is to be held this night. Lots of work went into it. Must have worked all night.
We went to the ice show, “Spirits of the Season” at 3pm. Brad, who was one of the crew serving drinks in the diamond lounge was one of the skaters and was excellent as was the show.
After the show, we went to work getting our costumes on before going to main seating. We went as a dead bride and groom. 132 years married now and still going. Friends of ours came dressed as well. The ladies came as a devil and an angel. They didn’t coordinate either so they say. After dinner, the place to be was the promenade watching all the people in costume. We then headed to the show. Can’t review this one as we had to leave early. Rested awhile and headed to Maharajas Lounge where the Halloween parade would begin. The promenade was darkened and scary music played as we walked down the middle along with hundreds of others in costume. I’ve never seen the promenade so crowded on any of our cruises. Just wall to wall people taking pictures of all the costumes. We ended up in Studio B for judging. Stayed awhile for the results and then to bed. Lots of fun being on the ship during Halloween.

Friday October 31  At Sea
A windy and cool day as we might have expected heading back to Bayonne. Looked at and bought some pictures and then took in the Captain’s talk in the Palace Theater. It was quite interesting. My wife decided to get her face painted as were many others. Line wasn’t bad this morning. Should have seen it yesterday before the parade. Packed a little after that.
Had lunch and window shopped for awhile. Took a nap before heading up to the diamond lunge and then dinner. I had another beef dish tonight. No complaints again. All the  beef was quite good if not excellent except for the prime rib throughout this cruise. My wife had the Mahi Mahi which she liked.
Off to the farewell show at 9. The usual cruise in review video was shown along with a comedian. Watched the final parade of the cruise. Haven’t seen one in a few so we opted for this one.

Saturday November 1st
Up early to see us going under the Verrazano Bridge. Got a great video of it.    BRIDGE VIDEO    Breakfast in the windjammer. Waited in Maharajas lounge where we were supposed to get priority debarkation. That was a laugh on this cruise. I managed to get all of our group the same color tags so we would get off at about the same time. We did not get off because someone screwed up and didn’t call us. The others in our group waiting in the regular lounges got off at least ½ hour before we finally got up and just walked off. Others followed us and were not happy either. We should have waited in the regular lounge with the early colored tag. We would have been off much sooner.
In closing, don’t let any of my negative comments in any way sway you from taking this or any other Royal Caribbean cruise. We had an wonderful time as I know you will.

Explorer of the Seas
Eastern Caribbean
October 23, 2008 Sailing (Halloween Cruise)