I had been planning for months to surprise my wife for our 25th anniversary with a cruise, telling her to take vacation and telling her nothing else. Plans made for a relaxing cruise to celebrate and Thursday before we departed (Saturday) I let her know what we were doing. Being married 25 years it also meant I knew enough to give her time to properly pack and not showing up at the port and her going, "OMG, I'm not packed for a cruise." One of the secrets being married 25 years for my male friends reading this. All the planning and preparation as well as expectations could not have prepared us for the real surprise, finding out Royal Caribbean had allowed through a third party the booking for 2,200 college kids on spring break to be on the cruise.
We arrive at the ship and check in went fairly smooth, even though if you were not Gold the lines appeared to be quite long. Looking at the guests in line it did appear to be a lot of younger generation people. It wasn't until we were on the ship andmy wife and I in line to get drink packages that we discovered the ship was 2/3rd's college kids on spring break. There were drunk kids falling down in the Windjammer even before we departed the port. Not a good sign! The ship departs and we get our luggage and my wife decided to get a glass of wine. I said I would wait and 45 minutes later she comes back. The lines to get a drink were crazy. We went to the casino and could not even get on the Blackjack table at first, and forget trying to get a drink at the bar while waiting. Both the first and second day you could not even get close to the hot tub and pool on the top deck, littered with intoxicated kids having a good time. Sleeping the first night was a luxury with all the school chants up and down the corridors, drunk kids bouncing off the doors, and music being played. I went to Guest Relations on the second day to tell them how extremely upset I was over Royal Caribbean not telling us it was a "spring break cruise," to be told "we'll file a report.
It wasn't until we pulled into Cozumel that things quieted down as all the kids went ashore to indulge in adult beverages. Cozumel was the first port I personally witnessed some of the kids with bags packed being escorted off the ship. Good for RC, but not good enough as the cruise was helpless with addressing all the problems. By the way we were told they ran out of Tequila and Vodka the first night. How does a cruise ship on a five day cruise run out of anything the first night?
Every night was a sleep challenge. Every day was a challenge to use the amenities on the ship. I realize the ship was going into dry dock, and definitely showed it was in lack of repair. It was also not well maintained from a cleanliness standpoint with the crew not able to keep up with the intoxicated kids and their antics, but also wonder if they were understaffed with the upcoming dry dock. Plumbing made noises in the mens room out side of Magellan. Parts of the ship were being damaged by the kids, and no one seemed to care. We even heard reports of furniture being thrown overboard and kids attempting to go from balcony suite to balcony suite on the outside of the ship. Luckily we didn't have a man overboard.
The food was not up to the usual Royal Caribbean standards as we are Crown and Anchor members and cruised with several times and were starting to become our favorite cruise line...until this. Day before we returned home the coke machines were empty. Attempted to get a cherry Coke, it was out. Went to another machine and it was out. Ok, we'll try something else and it was out as well. They run out of booze then out of soft drinks, now I'm angry. Shows were not to usual high standards, and overall very disappointed.
Overall this ended up being the cruise from H***. Guest relations didn't seem to care and in fact one crew member told me, "Sorry but there is nothing we can do. This kids have the right to be on here as well." No argument about their rights, but what about the obligation of Royal Caribbean to let regular cruise members that springbreakpartycruises dot com had book through RC to do a spring break party cruise out of the trip. The image of Royal Caribbean in my opinion has been tarnished. My anniversary surprise cruise for my wife was a total disaster and waste of money and time we took off from work. Royal Caribbean hasn't responded to my cruise review response request they sent me, and they probably are basking in their checking account with filling the ship to capacity (we heard oversold), sold an inordinate amount of drink packages, and wasn't concerned about the damage we saw because of the status of the ship going into dry dock. Shame on you Royal Caribbean! You ruined the trip I planned for with my wife, and apparently do not care. Less
It has been several weeks now since contacting Royal Caribbean and even though their web site states a customer service representative will contact me "Usually within 2 days," there has been no response.
Just returned from a 7-day cruise to the Bahamas abourd RCCL's Explorer of the Seas. Overall, this was a terrible cruising experience. We have been on at least seven cruises with various cruise lines including Cunard, Carnival, Disney and one previous cruise with RCCL. After this experience, we are very unlikely to ever cruise on Royal Caribbean again.
Some examples of what we experienced, in no particular order:
â€¢ The experience of getting on and off the ship was awful, especially at Co Co Cay. It was a complete disaster; we have never experienced anything like it on a cruise before. What added to the frustration was when I tried to tell a member of the cruise director staff (Amy T) that a contributing factor was that the elevators were opening on Deck One, allowing people to cut in line -- she was dismissive and sarcastic with me (we were told the elevators were programmed to stop at deck 2, but after waiting on the 2nd deck for an hour, when we finally made it to the 1st deck people were exiting the elevator and getting straight into the line- we saw afew people almost resort to fist fights over this â€“ never great to have your kids view this type of behavior) We later found out that the line at the forward tender station was practically non-existent, while the line at the aft station stretched up the second deck. Plenty of people, including us, were in line for OVER an hour. While the crew, with radios in their hands, just watched, and never once mentioned there was another exit from the ship.
â€¢ Information in the Compass was often at odds with what the crew told us. An example was the question of whether there was to be one or two formal nights during the cruise. During the â€œfirstâ€ formal night our waiter informed us there would only be one formal night, we expressed our surprise, and he said we should double-check with Guest Relations â€“ we did, and they confirmed there would be only the one formal night. (On other lines, the entire week is explained at the start of the cruise.) GR told us there would be only one formal night â€“ on Sunday night. Then on Friday morning we read in the Compass that that evening there would be another formal night. Again, we approached GR; this time they concluded that the Compass must be right, and there were indeed two formal nights. A few minutes later, when we returned to our stateroom, we received a call from GR telling us the Compass was incorrect. That night would not be a formal night. But how do you suppose most people were dressed that evening?
â€¢ We paid for the premium drink plan. I have one drink: a gin and tonic â€“ with lime. The ship decided to not put fruit in any cocktails. I appreciate the desire to make cleanliness the priority, as I think was the main motivation behind this, but I was given several conflicting reasons about why I could not ever have a lime with my drink. Meanwhile, we were always able to get lemon for our water in the dining room. This was a constant point of frustration and irritation, especially given what I had paid for the drink plan.
â€¢ The entertainment on the last night of the cruise was awful. While I cannot name the entertainer (Jeff something I think), it was more than just not entertaining; it was rude, crude, and uncomfortably off-color. Indeed, there were plenty of children in the audience, including our pre-adolescent girls. This, after the cruise director talked it up the night before and implied that the entertainment would be family friendly.
â€¢ The various staff did not seem to follow their own â€œrulesâ€. Our girls were very excited to go ice skating on Saturday. We showed up 15 minutes prior to the 1:45 session (itâ€™s supposed to be first-come first-served 40 skaters per session) only to be told that not only was that session already closed, but they had already given out the slots for the remaining 3 sessions for the day, only â€œstandbyâ€ was available. There was never any communication that we should have showed up in the morning and signed up for a slot during the day â€“ many people in line were very angry.
Overall, most of the passengers we chatted with were very unhappy with how things were handled on this cruise, the staff were clearly â€œgoing through the motionsâ€ and were tired and cranky. The only WOW in this vacation was â€œWOW I canâ€™t believe I spent all this money for such a bad vacation!â€
Let me start by saying that I'm not a complainer and very rarely do I post negative feedback about anything. Don't make the mistake that we made by choosing Royal Caribbean. You work hard for your money and you spend 6+ months looking forward to a great vacation. You want to be excited and you should be. You want to return and tell your family and friends how great it was and how much fun you had.
That will likely not be the case if you choose to sail with these people. They could care less about their own staff and equally surprising, about the well-being of their guests. On this trip in particular, they will drop you off in Samana, Dominican Republic. Forget the fact that you may wait in a 4 hour line just to exit the ship, when you arrive, the place is downright scary, filthy, and depressing. Children beg you for food and money and it is just a sad sight.
When you return to the ship and you engage in conversation with the staff regarding Samana, they will say things like "are you crazy, I've worked onthis ship for #years and I've never got off on this stop". The cruise director himself will crack jokes about how unpleasant the place is. RCI is obviously aware of this; they just choose to disregard it and continue to put their guest’s safety at risk.
As for the staff, they are very hard working people. It becomes immediately obvious that many of them don't enjoy their jobs. Sure they are courteous, kind, and they smile at you and say "hi" in the hallway, but you can tell that something isn't right. There is a constant look of concern and discomfort. All of this begins to affect the overall mood after a while.
You know that you are supposed to be enjoying yourself and having fun, but trying to do that alongside laborers who are depressed and underappreciated by their employer is easier said than done.
Upon returning home, we had a situation in which we needed to reach out to RCI support to correct an issue with the waiters tip (we wanted to leave even more money for them but both ATM's were out of service on the ship). The guest relations desk couldn't do anything to help (charge room card for cash, etc).
They asked us to follow up with corporate when we got home and that they could find a way to do it from our credit card. I'll spare the details but reaching out to corporate proved to be pointless. It's a shame.
It's possible that this company used to be great to sail with at some point, but as of November 2012, that is simply not the case.
Our last cruise (with Carnival) was an entirely different experience. There was a not only a sense of energy, excitement, and genuine happiness in the staff, but you never felt unsafe or depressed (Samana) as a guest. It seems like there is potential here, but something at RCI really needs to change. When it comes time to make a decision on what to do with your vacation money, you have been warned. I hope this review has helped you and good luck in your search.
This was a great cruise. The ship is in great shape, the food was great and the staff and crew were wonderful.
Our stateroom was always clean and the our stateroom attendant Nadine was was a dream. The weather was excellent and "Thomas" did very little to spoil out fun. The shows that we went to were OK, the the 4 Seasons show was the best of all. The casino, welllllll what can I say this is how they make money, the slots are VERY tight.
The ports, labadee was OK, the beach was clean and nice, the ship brings a BBQ to shore and everyone eats. Samana, this is not the best port they can pick, this was a very LOW BUDGET port I don't want to go back there again. St. Thmas was great we went to St. Johns for the day them shopping in St. T. St. Kitts was beeter then I thought it would be, the beaches aren't so great but the island is very pretty with lots for trees etc. We hired a local man, Christian with Tangernie tours, for 25 each he touk uson a 5 hr tour of the island complete with Booze. The shoopng off right off the boat is very good and the casono in town paid more then the ships LOL.
All in all a great cruise, great fun and we will do it again on the Explorer of the Sea.
I've been on a few cruises in the past, mostly Princess cruises. This was my first Royal Caribbean Cruise and probably my last with them. To start off the ship was 6 HOURS late pulling into Bayonne NJ. where we were to start our trip. This would not be so bad except for the lack of information the crew were providing us. I also felt bad since it was January and Many elderly people were forced to stand while waiting. coffee and cookies were provided for all guest but after 6 hour of delay coffee and cookies don't cut it for a meal replacement. You would think Royal Caribbean would provided all the inconvenienced guest some sort of compensation, even if it's a free drink and a "were sorry" speech... but nothing. I went so far as to contact Royal Caribbean and let them know of my experience. They sent me a template "sorry for the delay" response where they put the blame elsewhere and not on themselves. I really didn't know how good I had it on Princess until I tried a Royal Caribbean cruise.
The Food was very sub-parand I don't even consider myself a real foodie. I'm a simple guy who loves going to diners, and that would be a step up from the food given to us on the Explorer of the Seas. My wife and myself tried all the food options on the ship and were happy with only one... the restaurant we had to pay $20 per person to get into. This was an Italian style dinning experience that we enjoyed. In that restaurant we had three waiters catering to all our needs, and the food was very delicious. It almost seemed like Royal Caribbean forces you into this style of dinning to get the extra cash out of you. In my experience a buffet is supposed to offer food services 24/7. I guess due to budget cuts this buffet was scheduled for the most odd hours of operation. In addition to that the selection of the buffet food was very limited. It seemed like all the buffet stations (which they had many of) were loaded up with the SAME 4 or 5 items. The food reminded me of when I was a child and would join my grandmother at the senior citizens center for lunch.
Our Stateroom was conveniently placed right above the one of the theaters so It was very noisy until about 1AM. I usually don't mind loud noises but this was like sleeping right above a club. When the noise did die down every little hinge in the room creaked all night long. I've been on a few ships before in the past but never experienced anything like this. Maybe it's do to the ships age or poor maintenance but it was like sleeping in a creaky submarine.
The activities and the entertainment is was got me thru this trip and got my mind off the poor food and staterooms. I really enjoyed everything from the rock climbing to the ice skating and mini-golf. I'm an active person and I must say that they kept enough interesting activities going on-board to really keep us busy. The gym was very nice and well kept as well. I looked forward to going to that gym every morning more than I did the breakfast.
I really enjoyed the destinations we landed at. Every place we stopped we had a great time. San Juan was vibrant and lively, while Antigua was an amazing beech destination that my wife and I loved and would go back to any day. Dominica was rich in friendliness and personality definitely one of the more interesting islands I've ever been too, and I've been to many.
9 Nites to Bermuda, St. Thomas, St. Maartan, San Juan.
Although the Explorer is based out of New Jersey this was our first cruise on Explorer. It was nice not having to fly.
Ship - The Explorer being 11 years old is in very good shape. We cruised on Liberty two weeks before this cruise and could not tell the difference that Liberty was only 2 years old and Explorer was 11. Kudos to Royal for keeping their ships in excellent and clean condition.
Ports - We really enjoyed the ports and also having close to 5 sea days. First time to Bermuda. Horseshoe Bay is beautiful. My son had broke his wrist two weeks before the cruise so we did not do the excursions we planned on doing. The only excursion we did was in St. Thomas Coral World which was fun. We will have to book the next cruise in order to take the excursions that we missed out on. :)
Entertainment/Activities/Shows - Shows were all good. Two comedians were funny. Production shows were good as well. Motown show was great. There was alot of activities going on all week.The cruise director Good Day Dave Chapman does a great job. Along with his staff they really make the cruise more enjoyable. I would have to place Good Day Dave on my #1 cruise director list tied with Richard Spacey.
The pool band Vibes are excellent!! I love those guys I have seen them on the Navigator in February and I was so happy to see them on the Explorer.
DJ Savio is one of the best DJ's Royal has got playing todays hot dance music in the disco each nite.
Food - Ok so I'm not a foodie. I don't cruise for food or to eat. The meals I ordered were all good. Never had any desserts.
Staff/Service - Well once again a ship with a wonderful crew. It was nice to see Richardo again in the Diamond Lounge. Abel the room attendant was great. Waiters were Excellent. Disco Bartender Sharon is the best!!
Did the Bridge tour and Galley tour. First time in the Galley and it was impressive.
We will cruise on Explorer again in 2010!!
So much to do it can be overwhelming but in a good way. Some do's and don't's IMHO
DO - eat at Portifino Best service and filet mignon I've had in my LIFE
DON'T - eat main seating too rushed to get ready
DO - Book sail and snorkle excersion St. Thomas with Doubloon to Turtle Cove - great fun & crew!
DO - Atlantis submarine tour in St. Thomas closet you'll ever come to being a diver
DO - Buy wrist keychains (spiral) for room keys We had the front desk punch a hole in them and wore them on our wrist. So convenient!
DO - Bring Woolite and a couple of those removable hooks and some line to make a clothline on the balcony. Used these alot. As well as that wrinkle remover spray.
DO - Bring an over-the-door shoebag to hang up in the restroom! Helped tremendously
DO - Buy the video done during your cruise at the photo lab. $19.95 and well worth the money.
DO - Stay up late to view the Gala Buffet AMAZING
DON'T - Expect your teen 16 - 17 to venture off on their own. Teen programnot so good. Daughter was disappointed that she had to do all of the activities with 13 year olds so she chose not to. 13 year old son not too crazy about activities either. :( But they still had a great time with us.
DO - Try the Coco Loco's AWEMSOME
DO - Have a drink at Dizzy's the view is spectacular
DO - Attend evening parades in the Promanade Short but very beautiful and entertaining
DO - Plan some time to rest, we were so tired even though we didn't do the late night activities
DO - IF YOU HAVE KIDS buy the coke card/$20 (unlimited) and the non-alcholic drink card $43 (20 drinks plenty for the week). THESE ARE WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD, saved us a ton of money.
DON'T - Stress at the Haitian Market, have fun with it, they really are harmless. If they ask $30 (which they do for everything) you can probably get it for $10.
DO - Take lot's of pictures
DO - Tip for chairs in Labadee if you want one that is
DON'T - Be rude! We heard and saw many people that were not so nice to us, servers, and locals. No matter how much money we spend it doesn't make it right to be rude! Those people are the ones that ruin a vacation for all.
DO - TIP they really do work so very hard and deserve it
MISC - We really had NO problems the entire trip. Flights on time, easy on and easy off the ship. Some damage with luggage, ship repaired most of it while on the cruise. No problems with customs/passports etc.... KEN RUSH was the most amazing Cruise Director. He was EVERYWHERE all the time with the biggest smile on his face, we truly do not know how he does it.
My hubby says that "if this ship ain't got it, you don't need it"
HAVE FUN, we're sad to be home.
Just got back from cruise. DON'T GO ON THIS SHIP!! We went on this ship to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary with our family. What a mistake, Food both in dining room and the windjammer cafe was cold or lukewarm never hot. Surprized didn't get food poisoning. Have had better and taster food in hospital.
Went to see cake decorating competion between cruise director and head chef. Head chef sneezed into his hand never washed it and proceeded to decorate cake which was later offered to onlookers to taste. Just 1 example of lack of cleanliness on ship. Only had purrell at the diningroom entrances but not near elevators or stairways so you could kill germs on your hands.
3 days into cruise had to pick up something that had went under bed and found slippers that weren't ours
Wrote letter to hotel mamager outlining our complaints and never heard from him while on cruise
On positive side Ice Show was great!
Other people we met told us not to judge line by this ship said others are much better or maybe the line is falling down as a whole.
Explorer of the Seas, 11 to 20 June 2009 Eastern Caribbean Itinerary: Bayonne, Bermuda, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, Bayonne
As always, I'll preface my review by stating that a lot of things found in a review of this nature are subjective and therefore can't meet everyone's expectations. I also warn you it is both long and detailed. I write what I consider to be a totally honest review yet I do not nit-pick. All three of our voyages have been on the same ship and the same itinerary. Obviously we enjoy both. While after reading this review you might assume we may be "Royal Champions," your assumption would be wrong. If I find something which I didn't like or with which I disagree, it will be in this review. Many I'm sure will feel because we have not sailed other than the same ship and itinerary, we have nothing with which to compare and therefore this review should be discounted to the point of meaningless. While I don't see it that way, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As the writer of a weekly column appearing in our smalltown newspaper for the past twelve years, and having been an elected office holder as well as a retired law enforcement officer and police instructor, I have a thick skin.
I'll also here state that a lot of what has been written about both disappearing perks or new ones adversely affecting more often non suite guests on RCI ships, were in no way evident on this voyage of the Explorer. To wit: There was indeed a welcome back party held the fourth day out and attended by the Captain. The event was held in the Maharaja's lounge where cocktails were served. Secondly there was no reserved seating for suite guests at either the pool, the main theater or in Studio "B" at the ice show. Additionally, many staff and crew made it a point that RCI was proud of the significant percentage of repeat cruisers it enjoys (a greater percentage than say, Carnival). Finally, as did all Crown and Anchor members, one of the gifts that we discovered in our stateroom one evening were truly nice and functional large canvas tote bags sporting of course, the RCI logo; thankfully no more ball caps as I'm sure many long time Crown and Anchor members possess a significant inventory of the item.
The ship also sailed its original nine night scheduled itinerary, meaning that there were no abbreviated stops nor were there any early dockings and/or departures. This was the first cruise without variance since the incident involving the bent prop that occurred in January; therefore the problem must have been permanently repaired during a one day stop at some point just prior to this cruise.
Also, while I'll get into more detail later, the staff and crew I found, without exception mind you, "over the top" when it came to courtesy, graciousness, helpfulness, honesty, etc. Not only I, but everyone in our party of six concurred with this observation.
The passengers were also with but a very few exceptions, themselves good humored and courteous in both language and behavior. There were of course a very minimal sprinkling of foul mouthed boors, such individuals often being referred to as, "Trash," but they were few and far between.
As we did for our two previous cruises, we drove to Staten Island and went straight to the Hilton Garden Inn for our pre-cruise night's stay. We also returned for an eight day stay following the cruise. Although certainly not by design, we happened to be greeted upon arrival by the Hotel's owners, Richard and Lois Nicotra who also own the adjoining Hampton Inn and Suites. A noted Staten Island entrepreneur, Richard and Lois certainly do things the right way. The Hilton is absolutely gorgeous. While certainly not inexpensive at around two hundred dollars a night, tax included; it assuredly is superior to many Manhattan hotels charging far more than that amount. When it comes to the relativity of hotel prices within the City of New York keeping in mind "bang for the buck," both the Hilton Garden Inn and the adjoining Hampton Inns and Suites (which was rated as second of all Hampton Inns in the entire nation in cleanliness) are quite affordable gems. The hotel also offers a very significant perk. Although we didn't avail ourselves of the service, free transportation to and from Cape Liberty is provided hotel guests as is also shuttle service to the Staten Island Ferry for those guests wishing to go to Manhattan or, as New Yorker's refer to it as, "The city."
Contained in the hotel is Lorenzo's. Named after the Nicotras' adorable little Maltese, Lorenzo's is an outstanding bistro style restaurant. Ensconced just on the opposite side of a strategically placed wall separating it from the lobby, is a most attractive cocktail lounge behind which is an excellent restaurant. Both interesting and varied, the restaurant menu manages to satisfy the most varied of tastes.
After meeting my wife's niece Adelaide, who again hosted us on our cruise, we together made our traditional initial New York supper stop at Brother's Pizza on Watchogue Road, just off Forest Avenue in Staten Island. Everyone has their favorite pizza parlor and Brother's is ours (along with probably five or six hundred thousand other folks). If you ever try it, I think you'll probably be in complete agreement. Likewise as we did last year, we went to Gino's Restaurant on Forest Avenue and had Gino's famous Chicken Gino. It must be something to write about as aside from southern fried, I'm not a chicken afficionado yet we visited this restaurant twice so I could enjoy this delectable dish.
Day One We awoke Thursday morning to a leaden sky that dropped on and off showers before that continued throughout our sail away. This pretty much presaged the weather for a good part of the voyage. We loaded our overnight luggage back into the car and drove over to Fran's niece's where the three of us loaded up her neighbor's large van with our shipboard luggage.
Following last year's cruise, we had decided that we took far too much luggage. Consequently. My wife Fran made significant changes in that department. We ended up taking half again more. It never ceases to boggle my mind, but I fear I'm certainly not alone as far as most husbands go. Not only that, but to insure I had "sufficient" changes, Fran packed for me alone (just for the cruise mind you as we had separate New York bags for our post cruise stay): 23 casual shirts, nine dress shirts, about eight pair of dress slacks, nine pair of casual slacks, one suit, two sport jackets, eight ties, a new pair of deck shoes plus two pair of dress shoes. Included was even one decent sized case containing just toiletries not to mention enough of our various prescriptions to trigger DEA alerts along the entire eastern seaboard. I won't even begin to tell you how much Fran packed for herself! Suffice it to say, I don't think we would ever have had to return home had we so decided. I wouldn't have been a bit surprised that were we to have elected to fly to New York instead of driving, our excess baggage charges may have exceeded the price of the cruise!
I think we have our estimated time of arrival at Cape Liberty down to that brief but perfect interval wherein we drive up to find no embarkation line and we drop our luggage and proceed to embarkation processing immediately after all departing passengers have left. That magical time was around 12:15 pm, or at least so it was this year. We took around fifteen minutes to clear the check-in process (the greatest amount of time being spent changing the credit card to one Fran wanted to use for the "Sign and Sail" purposes. She'd discovered one from which we could obtain much better perks at no cost whatsoever to us as she pays the entire bill at the end of every month. In essence, she figured it high time we "used" the system to our benefit as for all too long, the banks have used theirs to our detriment. I do believe were she (or millions of like minded homemakers) to be in charge of our country's finances, we certainly wouldn't be in the shape our nation currently finds itself.
One thing I've finally learned, is to just go ahead and check even what used to be our carry-ons, only physically carrying my lap top and camera. We proceeded straight to the Windjammer Café on Deck 11 as the staterooms of course would be unavailable until almost 1:30pm.
We found the Windjammer offerings tasty enough. I had the honey stung fried chicken, mashed potatoes (known as whipped potatoes if like me, you're from the South), sliced roast beef and gravy and a salad. Unlike our previous cruises I declined to purchase the Coke card inasmuch as last time I didn't even begin to drink enough soda to get any value from the purchase. I opted for iced tea (the closest thing I could get to the South's obligatory beverage, sweet tea). I had never during our previous two cruises had the iced tea after reading so many dour reports as regards it's quality, was hesitant. As so many other things, I found I greatly preferred it to unsweetened iced tea served at the average restaurant ashore.
I also ran into the only person that I've seen on all three of our cruises, an assistant waiter on our first cruise who absolutely spoiled us rotten in the Promenade Café, Gabrial Fernandez, a native of India. Whenever we were in the Windjammer where Gabrial was assigned this cruise, we were treated as visting Royalty. A little more on that later.
Sail away was pretty much a ho-hum affair inasmuch as an extremely dense fog and that combined with the on and off showers found few passengers up on deck barely able to make out the Verrazzano Bridge as we sailed beneath it into lower New York bay. Interestingly enough, all scheduled passengers had obviously effected very early embarkations, as we cast off a full twenty minutes prior to our scheduled departure. We continued through the ‘pea soup," sounding the fog horn as required. The fog extended far out into the Atlantic until late that evening.
All of our luggage arrived in lesser time than during our two previous cruises. Our stateroom, 9502, was the same one we enjoyed last year and is an oversized Category F outside and is a generous 211 square feet. The room sports an extremely large circular "picture porthole" window looking out over the bow. The cabin is located just below the Bridge, the second one in from the port side. Entry reveals a large wardrobe with wire shelving on one side on your right with the shower/bath on your left. While of course small, the circular shower has solid double sliding doors and the shower is of sufficient size (and I'm 6'4" and 280 lbs.). Closet and places for folded items is more than ample we were able to unload all the bags and easily place everything in its proper place. I think so many people don't realize that one side of the large make up mirror at the desk opens up for things such as cologne and women's make-up.
Excepting to see a bit more wear and tear from last year within the room (the eight year old Explorer is scheduled for it's second dry dock January upcoming, probably at RCI's drydock in Bermuda), I was very surprised to find out that either the love seat had recently been re-upholstered or more probably, had been replaced. I found it hard to imagine that over one hundred fifty people had occupied that room since our previous cruise in June of last year. There were absolutely no stains on the stateroom carpet. A very close inspection of the public areas revealed that it was extremely difficult if not virtually impossible for me to accept the fact that this vessel has been sailing almost continually (with only a couple of very short breaks), for over eight years.
Our stateroom attendant, Lucy Thomas from the island of St. Vincent, warmly greeted us upon our arrival to our room. Lucy turned out to be the best Stateroom Attendant we've yet had...and all of them have been excellent. There was no request, regardless of how small, that was not immediately met. She truly spoiled us. I am always amazed at the apparent sincerity of so many of the staff and crew. Lucy certainly is an outstanding representative for RCI.
Assigned early seating at table 543 in the Columbus dining room on deck five, we were pleased to discover that the table was set for our party of six, so there were no issues whatsoever in that department. Under the direction of Head Waiter Wises Phathidee from Thailand, our waiter from Peru, Javier proved most friendly, solicitous and efficient and accompanied by his Asst Waiter, Ms. Fernandez (I just couldn't remember either Javier' first or Ms. Fernanadez's last names), a Chilean native, provided excellent service. It's obvious this duo has been a team for some time which makes for a more pleasurable dining experience.
Prior to our initial entry, who did we run into but the absolutely marvelous couple we met last year and who captured the affection of the entire ship during the "Love and Marriage Show," Abe and Julie Smith! Abe who is 93 and Julie at 91, were celebrating their 70th Anniversary. Though usually traveling alone, this year they were accompanied by a daughter and son in law and a niece and her husband. We enjoyed a marvelous reunion!
The menu, from what I could remember, appeared to be a duplicate from last June. As the menus usually last for two years, I wasn't surprised. Following an appetizer of the Vidalia Onion Tart, chilled Mexican tomato soup, and spinach salad with oil and Balsamic Vinegar, the entree` of Prime Rib was delectable. This was my first foray into the world of chilled soups and I'm certainly glad I made the journey. My wife also had prime rib but her's was a bit too well done only because she had inadvertently ordered it medium as opposed to her usual medium rare. Inasmuch as we were also splitting an entree of the perfectly broiled Cod, she was certainly satisfied. As usual, everyone's desserts were excellent.
Following dinner, we attended the welcome aboard show at the Palace Theater. We were most pleasantly surprised to find on stage our Cruise Director from last year, that highly talented and energetic Australian, Dave Chapman. I had expected someone by the name of Mike Hunnerup but Dave told me he left the ship at the end of the preceeding voyage. Dave continued that he generally prefers a two month stint on the Explorer before switching over to the Mariner and then back again to the Explorer.
The evening entertainment was provided by the introductory performance of the very talented Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers backed up by what I called last year, the best house band I personally have ever enjoyed. The band has been led for several years now by a true magician on the keyboards, Filmer Flores who is a native of the Philippines.
Opening night's headliner was comedian Jim Colliton who originally hailed from Pennsylvania. A very funny man, the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy his performance. We certainly did.
Prior to turning in and following my wife's obligatory nightly donation to those sinister one handled mechanical devices located in the Neon Temple of Weird Sounds and The Almighty Dollar, our group of six proceeded to our traditional end of the evening stop at the Promenade Cafe`. This year it was a native of Jamaica, Millicent Camran, who spoiled us to the extreme in that venue by catering to our every whim. Isn't it frightening that as we begin to pass from middle age to senior status, we tend to turn into creatures of habit to the extent we take on the aspects of a flock of sheep following a herder? I prefer, however, to refer to the process as did Tevia in Fiddler On The Roof by calling it, "Tradition!"
Day Two Friday was a "Sea Day" wherein we got our bearings, finished unpacking and just enjoyed the ship. That evening was the first of two formal nights. I was really hoping that people were again returning to at least some level of formality on Formal Nights and as has been recently noted in other reviews, such was true this voyage. I only saw one unattractive couple attired in old shorts and literally dirty T-shirts awaiting entry into the dining room. Evidently the unattractiveness extended beyond just the visual as they were standing alone in a rather large circle surrounded by properly attired cruisers with disgusted looks on their faces. Needless to say, they didn't make it past the entrance. Matter of fact, would you believe these idiots tried it twice?!
My entre of Filet Mignon was excellent as was my wife's and the other members of our party thoroughly enjoyed their meal as well.
The evening's entertainment was the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers performing Fast Forward. This energetic show which we had seen last year, we again enjoyed this one as well. Although we didn't recognize most of the dancers from last year, the performance was nevertheless just as outstanding.
Day Three Saturday found us entering Bermuda which for me is probably the most beautiful place in the Caribbean; which is the reason that it is so very expensive. I even overheard someone in the elevator remark that it was the second most expensive place in the world in which to live. I must point out that I was surprised to find in a brochure a remark written in a humorous vein as to how expensive Bermuda. Can't for the life of me however, figure out why it's so extremely more expensive than some other destinations in the Caribbean basin. While yes Bermuda imports most everything, so does virtually every other island in the Caribbean. Although I love "Fish and Chips" it will be a frigid day in July when I pay over thirty dollars for such a meal.
Instead of hitting the shops, I, my wife and my wife's niece toured the museum at King's Wharf. Being a big time history buff, most notably the era surrounding WW II, I thoroughly enjoyed the museum, especially that room devoted to the U.S. Navy's assistance during the war. Highlighted is an incident that occurred in1944 wherein Adm. Daniel Gallery directed the capture of a Type IX D German Submarine, U-505, that was the the first enemy man of war boarded and seized by the United States during combat since 1815. The captured U-Boat was towed to Bermuda to help insure it's capture remained secret from the Germans. (Note: That U-Boat is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago).
We also wandered by "Dolphin Quest" that is maintained behind the walls of the old fort as well and wherein those so wishing, may swim (for a substantial fee of course) with the dolphins. They certainly looked cute enough and we halted long enough to take some photos. Thankfully, during the first couple of minutes of what we had intended as a brief respite, a young lady by the name of Kelly Adamonis approached us as we were seated and asked if we had any questions about the dolphins. Kelly turned out to be a veritable fountain of facts about the beautiful creatures. A student from Penn State, she is engaged in a summer internship with the organization. The conversation that transpired from that question truly made our visit interesting, worthwhile and educational beyond every expectation. Kelly not only related little known and very interesting things about bottle nosed dolphins, but she also dispelled a lot of conjecture that I had heard over the years concerning the care and proper treatment of these animals in captivity. For instance, the bottle nosed dolphins in captivity are from coastal waters and inlets where they are constantly confronted by predators as well as man's destructive nature and are much smaller than their cousins you see further out to sea. Not only do they enjoy far longer lives in captivity, but unlike many other animals and because of their extremely high level of intelligence, happier ones as well. If you visit Bermuda and haven't gone to Dolphin Quest, I certainly recommend you do so. You shan't be disappointed.
On the way out we stopped by the bookstore. Being a huge afficianado of the golden age of Ocean liners, I purchased a gorgeous book devoted to the extremely interesting history of the 22,000 ton Queen of Bermuda.
We then took the ferry across to Hamilton and enjoyed a brief sojourn down the dockside where a significant number of "Tall Ships" were docked, including the training ship belonging to the U.S. Coast Guard.
That evening following another memorable dining experience in the Columbus Dining Room, we went to the theater where the head liner was the vocalist, Hal Frazier. I am fully cognizant that many are always intimating that if one finds cruise ship entertainment outstanding, they are at the very least, lacking in their tastes regarding "good entertainment." To those folks, I'll only say that I, along with everyone in that theater must certainly have been so lacking because I participated with 1,300 fellow attendees in giving Frazier the longest standing ovation that I have ever seen on any of our three cruises. With one of the more wide ranging voices I've ever heard, Hal Frazier, who some years past crossed that sixty year line, sang selections made famous from everyone from Nat King Cole through to John Denver. A former guest on the late Johnny Carson's, "Tonight Show," Frazier was in addition to his marvelous vocal performance, one of the more "fun" people, not to mention among the funniest, by whom most of us had ever been entertained. Oh, and in case you're wondering, there were a large number of young adults in that audience as well; so much, therefore, for the "old people" remarks.
Day Four Sunday was a sea day and to those I do so look forward. It is my time to relax, read, etc. The group gathered per usual at breakfast in the dining room. We generally enjoy the table service and setting of the dining room. Nonetheless, we had breakfast several times in the Windjammer, one of which was the most memorable of all of those on three voyages.
Sunday evening, Adelaide, Fran and your intrepid reporter enjoyed dining at Portofino's. Gosh, how the three of us love that restaurant. It is truly five star dining and the service is both formal and impeccable. The food, as expected, is on par with the service. A leisurely dining experience, your meal will take in the neighborhood of two hours. If you are the type who wishes not to "dress for dinner," or doesn't enjoy fine dining, then I have to tell you this venue is certainly not for you. As regards the $20 per person service charge, we believe the experience is worth far more.
We did not attend that evening's performance in the Palace Theater but those in our party who did, said the impressionist, Scott Record, put on a very entertaining performance.
Day Five We docked Monday afternoon at 12:30 in Phillipsburg St. Maarten. Having been to all of the ports scheduled on our itinerary twice previously, I elected to stay aboard to work on this review, get my weekly newspaper column out of the way and in general just enjoy a virtually empty ship. The rest of our party including my wife, disembarked in their continuing attempt to hit every shop in the Caribbean. To refrain from being an anchor to their excursions, I of course expect some form of tribute. I two years ago, informed my wife that a large bottle of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry and a bottle of a fine men's cologne usually will suffice to dispel my expressions of (feigned) grumpiness for their leaving me behind by myself.
While the group was off shopping, I gloried in having the ship to myself; taking photographs while wandering around the ship followed by thumbing through my new literary find.
Dinner in the Columbus Dining Room was again an excellent dining event.
The evening's headlining entertainment in the Palace Theater was the magic and comedy of Peter Gross. While Peter was quite entertaining, the most memorable moment will be one that could have resulted in a true tragedy.
During his act, Peter asked for two young children from the audience to assist him. One girl of six bounded up on stage while another of four, obviously didn't want any part of the presentation. Her mother nevertheless coaxed the little tyke t climb the steps to the stage. Before proceeding and for those who've never been on a large theater stage, I'll point out that those on the stage find it difficult, because of the spotlights, to see beyond the first row. The little girl, who obviously didn't want to be there, decided to head back to "Mommy." Although unable to see where her mother was sitting but knowing the approximate direction and while Peter's attention was diverted to the other child, she started walking. Everyone thought she would of course stop at the stage's edge but she didn't.
Sitting in the front row was a couple whom we had met that morning at breakfast, Phil and Rosetta Jobe who hailed from Pennsylvania. Phil, a retired coal mine safety expert, actually launched himself from his seat and in a diving basket catch reminiscent of one of those spectacular outfielder performances in baseball, caught the little girl literally just before she hit the deck face first. Only those in the first couple of rows actually saw the entire incident and know just how dramatic the event really was.
Day Six Tuesday morning found us docked in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. Both Fran and I elected to remain aboard and spent a relaxing day reading.
Dinner that evening was as usual, simply wonderful.
RCI does one thing however, that is a true and totally unnecessary pain in the neck. At virtually every evening meal in the main dining rooms, it's bad enough that there is a photo set up blocking half the entrance but on formal nights both avenues are mostly blocked. It is therefore extremely difficult for everyone to get into the dining room as they are being funneled through an extremely narrow corridor at of all places, the narrowest point of the dining room entrance lobby. Described to me wryly by one ship's officer as a "revenue opportunity," if RCI were aware of the number of extremely negative comments from disgruntled passengers that I alone heard, I believe they'd do well to review this policy. Additionally, this year, in one evening, we had not one, not two, but three photographers approach us wanting to take the inordinately overpriced "formal night photographs." And people talk about the incessant "hawkers" on the islands?
The Palace theater was once again packed for the evening's performance by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers of , "Wild, Cool and Swingin`." I shall repeat still yet again that this troupe is the equal, in my opinion, to those I've seen on Broadway. I'm sure there are superior ones. It's just that I've yet to find them.
Day Seven Wednesday's sunrise greeted the Explorer as she was docking at San Juan. While the rest of the group went shopping (of course), Fran and I stayed aboard. Here I have with me four books yet still I managed to find one from the ship's library. I won't finish all four but one of the few that I do, will be the one from the ship's library.
I make it a point to go out of my way to be nice to all staff and crew. I have yet to find in my three cruises, any crew or staff member who has been unkind, disagreeable or even out of sorts. I have observed other folks having problems with staff and crew but while the problem itself may well not have been the fault of the passenger, they're reaction to the crew member or staff member who was attempting to solve their problem was sometimes so bad as to be inexcusable.
This became classically evident when, while on my way to the elevator, I overheard a passenger state to a woman accompanying her about a problem so trivial as to be unbelievable. The issue concerned a smudge on the stateroom window that the woman wanted cleaned. Her complaint? The stateroom attendant told the woman she would do so as soon as she finished cleaning the bathroom. The woman told her friend that the stateroom attendant had a smile on her face when she replied to her request. Yes and.....? This woman had such a twisted sense of values that she felt the smile to be insulting and and sarcastic and wanted to ".....slap her (the attendant's) face!" To further prove my point, that very evening the same woman who was morbidly obese, wanted to get on a crowded elevator that I happened to be on and was indignant to find there wasn't enough room for her to fit whereas there was room for a very slender young woman in her stead. She immediately launched into a tirade that the elevators didn't hold enough people. Another female passenger who seemed to exude maturity and grace and who along with her husbad evidently had a stateroom near the offensive passenger remarked upon pressing the door close button causing the elevator doors to close in the offensive woman's face, "Closing this door makes me feel so good. That is without a doubt, one of the more offensive people I've ever run across and I'm 68 years old!"
As I once wrote in an article on this site, if you want to solve a problem, you'll get far better results with honey than you will with vinegar. We all know those with "friends in high places." I, on the other hand, take pride in knowing the "working class" crew members and have found that merely being kind and solicitous brings about it's own satisfying, "Loyalty rewards."
We departed San Juan as scheduled and once leaving the harbor we increased speed to "full bore" of around 22 knots in order to make it back to New York on Saturday morning, the distance between the two cities being over 1,600 miles.
Day Eight I was up early to try and resolve computer internet problems I'd experienced throughout the cruise. The problem lay in the fact that although I was signed up for the $55 package that provides 150 minutes of service, I kept being billed at the higher 55 cent single minute price. The folks at the Purser's Desk (Guest Relations) were great and kept removing the excess charges. One Guest Services Officer, Suzette Sobers from Trinidad, even took the time to escort me up to the Internet room on deck eight to help me re-swipe my card and change my passwords as I had expressed the possibly the problem may have been a result of something I was doing. The process, especially for one so inept at computers as am I, can prove confusing. She graciously assured me that the problem was not a result of my actions or my laptop's. True or not, we hopefully had the problem solved.
Such proved not to be the case. Early Thursday morning around 4:00 am, I again went to the Purser's Desk where I was greeted by Esteban Pinnock who had the "graveyard" shift. He once again rectified the problem as regards the charges and asked me to return a little after eight as possibly someone from IT would be available to help solve this continuing and increasingly frustrating problem. I did return and was once again taken under Suzette's wing who after a lot of juggling, found a permanent and quite equitable solution. I cannot but highly complement the Purser's Desk staff for their understanding and diligence in solving this increasingly frustrating problem. They are indeed wonderful folks.
I shall say that due to increase in usage, the speed of internet service has measurably declined. To help obtain a fast connection, I advise those using internet service to do so either late at night or early in the morning.
Although as previously stated, we on most mornings had breakfast in the dining room, on Thursday I, Fran and her niece decided to go up to the Windjammer. When entering the line I felt a little tug on my sleeve. I turned and there stood Gabrial. He said he had a special table for us and then escorted the three of us to a special reserved area that provided an absolutely beautiful view. There we were once again spoiled rotten by Gabrial and those working with him. It was indeed, the most memorable breakfast in all of our three cruises.
That evening, I was privileged to meet and have a brief conversation with the Captain of the Explorer of the Seas and a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, Olav Gunnar Nyseter. A man with around forty-eight years of experience at sea, Captain Nyseter's association with RCI goes back to 1971 when he commanded the Nordic Prince. He is by far, RCI's most senior Captain. The previous day I had observed him conducting an inspection in the lobby area of the Windjammer with one of his officers. To I'm sure the junior officer's embarrassment, I observed Captain Nysetter spot numerous really small areas of chipped paint, scuff marks, etc., that missed even the other officer's practiced eye.
Although just turning sixty-five, Captain Nysetter nevertheless cut a dashing figure in his formal attire that evening as he stood outside the Columbus Dining Room. What I found most noteworthy is that he was there not for the professional pictures by RCI staff, but stood unobtrusively to the side for anyone wanting to get a private shot with their own camera of a family member standing alongside the ship's captain. That in and of itself bespeaks volumes as to the man's professionalism.
The show that evening we had also previously seen, "Invitation To Dance," by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers and the band. This too is an extremely energetic show and one we thoroughly enjoyed.
Day Nine Our last sunrise aboard found us off the East Coast of South Carolina. After breakfast in the main dining room, everyone but yours truly adjourned to the pool deck while I went back to my beloved books. I also took frequent breaks to take still more photographs of one of the most beautiful vessels in the world.
One new addition we noted in this cruise was the generously appointed salad bar in the dining room at lunch. Including even shrimp, the diner obtains a large bowl which they then hand to the next available chef, who in turn fills it with the diner's choice (and amount) of items he/she desires including the type of dressing. It is nutritious, delicious and filling. Even I, one who normally delights in a heart clogging cholesterol filled diet, looked forward to this meal. As a result it must be considered, "extremely delicious."
As opposed to last year when lobster was served on the last formal night, on this voyage lobster night fell on the final night. As was last year, the lobster was delicious. The good bye by the galley crew was again memorable.
The final show in the Palace Theater didn't vary from previous ones to any notable extent but we did enjoy it.
Disembarkation I'm finally to the point that I personally have no problems with disembarkation. It appears they've got out all the kinks save one. One waiting area is on Deck Three in Studio B. Because of a circular island, it can become conjested in that area, however, on the circular island were padded seats where some people were sitting. These individuals because the staff member stating that they were blocking the aisles, were made to move into the Studio whereas the items really blocking traffic were the absurdly over priced "auction' paintings. These could easily have been moved out of the way for the disembarking process from that area and had one been damaged, just because of their location would have indicated it would have been no great loss. I heard one cruiser even remark that obviously the paintings were more important than the passengers. The young girl in charge replied that they weren't, but the fact they remained illustrated the untruth to that statement, at least in that area during disembarkation.
When we got throught customs (being processed by not only a very courteous customs inspector but one with a grand sense of humor as well) and outside to the pick-up area, we only then recognized that a porter had inadvertently picked up not our bag but an adjoining one that was the same make and color of one that wasn't ours. I immediately returned it to a security officer to be taken back inside. I asked one of our party if the bag was "in place of" one of our own and was told no, that it was extra. Ten minutes later I was informed that indeed, we were missing a bag from our groups' luggage. I now had to go back in and search for our bag. I was told by security "No can do" and that I would have to wait until 11:00am to be escorted back in by customs. Here it was about ten-thirty and our ride was due any minute. I happened to spot a customs agent and while approaching learned through his overheard conversation, he too was a retired New York law enforcement officer and presented my problem to him explaining that I too was retired from "the job." I showed him my shield and he immediately said to follow him, escorted me back inside where I retrieved the missing bag from a luggage cart that was being pushed to a storage area and got back to the waiting area just as our ride pulled up. The timing couldn't have been better.
While disembarkation was efficient, the limited traffic approaches insures unbelieveable congestion and a possible wait of an almost unconscionable duration for a "pick-up" vehicle. I do so hope RCI addresses this issue.
Hopefully one of these days, RCI will also have Cape Liberty looking other than an extremely depressed port area. To give credit where credit is due, they're working on it.
Synopsis I have never experienced a bad cruise. Was it perfect? Excellent yes, perfect no. There are always any number of ways that any cruise can be enhanced. That being said, the only negative issues I either experienced or witnessed this cruise that had anything directly to do with Royal Caribbean, were the previously mentioned congestion around Studio B during disembarkation, the traffic congestion and one issue about which more and more passengers are complaining.
I'd like to see replaced that dubious of all ship board "revenue opportunities," the ubiquitous cruise ship art "auction." The proocess provides few if indeed any of the consumer protection afforded on land by law (for obvious reasons of course) and to me at least, reeks of small town county fair hucksterism. I guess though that in keeping with our free market beliefs, two truisms remain, "Caveat Emptor" and P.T. Barnum's quote, "There's a sucker born every minute." I choose to be aware of the former and whenever possible, avoid the latter. As "Dirty Harry Callahan" would say, "You gots to know your limitations." Hopefully I know mine.
Those so wishing are asked to contact me by private message through this web site.
Recommendation for this ship and itinerary: Excellent.
Explorer of the Seas Review Cape Liberty April 17th, 2009 9 day Eastern Caribbean Itinerary -- San Juan, St Thomas, Sanama Dominican Republic, Labadee Haiti
This was our first time out of Cape Liberty. We are not a real fan of NYC and then seeing the port as you approach, it does look like a dump. The nicest thing you see is the monument that is located by the ship. The boarding processes seemed very confused. Even with us having priority boarding because of a wedding, we still did not get on before noon. We had 55 of us. And WHY do you have to take a bus about 100 yards to board the ship? You got me.
On the ship -- FOOD, LOTS OF IT in the Windjammer, and it was very good. The food sculptures were amazing. I took pictures of just about every one we could find. It was very hectic to try to get to see all of the ship in the time before she pulled out so you could stand on deck for sailaway.
Elevators are slow when that many people are trying to use them, soUSE THE STAIRS!
The sail away party is fun, but why does it have to be at the same time as you are leaving and want to stay on deck?
Get your tickets for the first ice show; because you'll want to go back and see the second day's show. It was amazing.
The Welcome Aboard show was good, and then the parade was cool.
ROUGH SEAS at night, with gale force winds of 35+ mph and 7-9 foot seas, and the ship going 26 mph. That made for many sick people. Someone I know had to go to the doctor for a shot and it cost them $160. BRING your own Dramamine and start to take it the day before so it gets into your system.
Day 2 Rock wall is open. RECOMMENDATION: Wear long pants as the wall is worn and made of fiberglas and we got many little baby splinters in our knees.
The skating rink was open. Still very cold out as we have not passed S.C. yet.
I had two 17 year olds with us and there really isn't much to do for them if they are not into the sports deck. Can't go into casinos, can't go into clubs.
Many tournaments during the day to sign up for. It can keep you busy if you don't want to just lie out. We saw many people already burned, but also many were cold on decks.
Vibeology was a good show.
Day 3 Again, many tournaments for you to enter into. The ice show was AWESOME!
We did not go to the headliner show.
Bingo cards are expensive, but I guess if you win it's okay.
Entered the slot tournament for $25 pp, but did not have enough to make it to the final night.
Day 4 -- San Juan We got an extra hour because the ship arrived early. We had a 6:30 Segway tour, so we then had 2.5 hours to visit shops and we walked them all, got all the freebees from the book you can buy at the meeting they have the day before.
The SEGWAYS were awesome. It was too bad that it got dark while we were on them and we couldn't see all of San Juan. A movie was being filmed on the grounds of the fort in the grassy area. I forget which male star was there.
We missed our dinner time, so we went to the Windjammer, and the food was very good.
By this day we were partying with the crew in the Chamber every night. Remember we had 55 people and it was great to hang out with the dancers, skaters, and singers. They are changing at the end of this next cruise.
Day 5 -- St. Thomas Part of our group did the St John beach and snorkel tour, and were not happy with it. Only had about 1 hour in the cold water. The seas were rough going over and it took an hour. Many people got sick on the boat.
I had five of us do the SNUBA and it was cool. For me, as a fireman it was hard for me to learn to breathe through a mouthpiece rather than my nose as I have been taught in order to control my breathing. MANY, MANY fish in the water and that was really cool.
The Fast Forward show was good.
Did not make it to the midnight buffet, since I was too tired from being in the sun all day.
The toilets were not working in the forward section of deck 3 because someone put something in there. Made a call to front desk.
Day 6 -- Dominican Republic I ended up being sick and did not go on the excursion. But several people in our group did and they went to Cayo Beach. It was just like the Jersey Shore as I was told, but the beach was rocks.
The headliner comedian with Chucky and he was so funny I couldn't stop laughing.
The toilets AGAIN not working on deck 3 in the forward section. Called maintenance, same thing.
Day 7 -- Labadee It was VERY HOT today! We did the zipline and it was cool, but it went by SO FAST.
I wish they had another piece that went through the woods.
The kids had fun in the aqua park climbing on all of the blow up things. It was worth the $15 to cool off. Everyone wears a life vest because you cannot reach bottom.
The show was good. It was The Quest -- well, let's just say I'm glad I wore clean undies. And everyone else got to laugh at us and they said they couldn't stop.
We partied all night with the crew in the Chamber.
Day 8 -- At Sea I had to enter the sexy legs contest since I already embarrassed myself in front of 1300 people last night, and I almost won.
By now my 12 year old and the two 17 year olds have spent about $150 in the arcade. But he did win 2 iPODs on Stacker game.
I found out that someone else in our group who had a room on the 3rd floor got a bottle of champagne and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries for the toilet issue. So we went to guest relations and asked where our compensation was. I had 3 rooms full of crap for 2 days. I was told that I didn't make any complaints to the front desk or maintenance, but we did. I talked with three supervisors and got the standard 101 response of sorry. Told them we weren't happy with this. In turn they gave us one bottle and three trays of cookies.
By tonight the 17 year olds are getting angry. The Compass said there was a midnight teen dodgeball game. There had to be 25 kids there to play and no one from the ship showed up. So we went to Guest Relations and were told not to follow the Compass and that all teens should be in their cabins. It was only midnight and curfew is for 1:00 a.m. We made a complaint card out and got the public relations 101 standard response again of sorry.
Day 9 -- At Sea I played the Bingo games, $48 bucks for cards at the 11am show and then again at the 4pm show. One woman won $9150 in the final jackpot.
The 17 year olds were not allowed to play in the adult Nintendo Wii challenge.
There was another 18+ Dodgeball Tournament at 3pm today. We had played earlier in the week and my 12 year old and the two 17 year olds all played in it. BUT this time it was run by an African American woman and my 17 year olds were not allowed to play, but she did allow a 14 year old African American boy to play in it. How we know he was 14 was because he was in the Optic Club when the 12-15 year olds were in there and security checks all ID's at the door. So the boys felt there were some racial overtones to this and they made a complaint to guest relations. But all they got was the "it's at the discretion of the person running the sport" line.
By this time we are ready to be done with this cruise!
The farewell show was very good.
The ride home was smooth.
Departure Man, this always seems to be a headache. There was not enough tables to sit and eat at because everyone was sitting up there instead of in the areas they were assigned. Got off at 10am. Why do we have to get bags PRIOR to going thru customs? So many people trying to drag suitcases thru cattle chutes, running over your feet, cutting in line, getting in line before they have all the bags. It's a mess!
We had a private bus waiting and we headed home at 11am. It's finally over!
Drinks were very expensive. Dinner -- there was not much variety for the kids to eat. Ice Cream -- No free stuff after 9pm.
In closing, the ship is beautiful (A). Guest Relations were very insensitive and rude (F). Meals were so so, even though we got it when we asked for seconds(C). Singers, Dancers, Skaters were awesome(A+). Room Attendant was good (B). Activities for Adults (B+). Activities for 15-17 year olds (D). Activities for 12-14 year olds (C). Cruise Director (A). Activity People (F). Ports of Call (B). Timing of events throughout the day (D). Drink Prices (C). Waiter (F). Asst Waiter (A+) -- Mehmet from Turkey was awesome and funny, and he worked a lot. OVERALL RATING of this cruise -- C.