1/16 Explorer Review - Part Two

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#1
102 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
I finished Part Two (days two and three) this afternoon but could not get it to post. Hopefully I have better luck tonight. It's very long so I'll seperate it into a couple of different posts under this one.

Part One can be found here http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=126773 in case you missed it.

A little background before I get started. I cruised with my sister and two of my best girlfriends. We left the husbands and kids at home (12 kids total). We range in age from 33 to 39.

Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions you might have...

Monday 1/17 – Day 2 “Day at Sea”

After going to bed with temperatures in the 60’s we were very unsure as to what this day would bring. We turned on the television and were happy to see temperatures in the low 70’s and a partly cloudy forecast. However the ocean condition was still considered “rough” with pretty high winds.



We wandered to the Windjammer for breakfast around 9:30. Once again we headed straight to the back away from the crowds. The only line was at the omelet station but it moved quite quickly.



We headed for the pool deck at about 11:00 am only to discover the “chair hogs” had already been there. Lots and lots of chairs with no people – just towels. There are plenty of signs everywhere stating RCI’s policy – no leaving a chair for over 30 minutes. This same statement was posted in the Compass. However I never saw a single person enforcing this policy. Personally I wasn’t going to stand around for 30 minutes waiting to see if someone returned to their chair. We wandered up to the 12th deck and found a bunch of empty chairs right outside the spa. Within an hour there wasn’t a chair to be found anywhere on the ship.



We had a nice relaxing day. We just hung out and read our books (something we can never do at home). We also met another group of 4 women who were also from Michigan – they were seated right next to us on the deck.



At about 2:00 we’d had enough sun so we headed inside to the Windjammer for lunch (lunch was served between 11:30 and 3:00).



I really don’t remember what we did the rest of this afternoon except for our usual “naptime” between 5:30 and 7:00.



to be continued.....
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Explorer of the Sea 1/16/05
#2
102 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
This was our first formal night along with the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Reception. The Captain (Carlos Pedercini) was available for pictures outside the Weekend Warrior (on the Promenade) between 7:15 and 8:00. He gave his welcome speech at 8:30.



There were opportunities to have pictures taken everywhere you looked. There were at least two photographers on all three dining room floors. There were different backdrops at each station. They took pictures on most nights, not just the formal nights. We had some pictures taken the first formal night but didn’t purchase any of them. From what I remember 8x10 pictures were $19.95.



I’ve seen lots of comments and questions regarding formal night on these boards. I would say that the vast majority of people on the ship were dressed quite nicely. I didn’t see a ton of tuxedos but most men had on a dark suit. Women wore cocktail dresses or long formals – there were plenty of sequins to be seen. Personally I CANNOT imagine not dressing up and showing up for dinner in the dining room. I would feel so out of place. However, the Windjammer was open so that choice was also available. I loved dressing up – it’s something I rarely get the chance to do. I did not spend a lot of money on my formals – one was purchased at a garage sale for $5 and the second one at a consignment store for $25.



Late seating dinner returned to the normal 8:30. We were not surprised to see that our tablemates were not present at formal night. The table next to us (the one with the 5 children) only had 2 people present for dinner. So our servers only had the 6 of us to serve, our dinner went very quickly.



After dinner we made a quick visit to the casino. I played $5 dollars in quarter slots and walked out with $33.75.



Showtime was at 10:45 pm. “History Repeating” featuring the RCI singers and dancers. Jane and Rosie did attend the show and said that it was “okay”. There was also a late night comedy show with comedian Jimmy Carroll at 12:15 (none of us attended).



After the show we all met at the Weekend Warrior where we met our soon to be favorite bartender Kirk. We weren’t sure what we wanted to drink so we asked him for suggestions. He asked us “sweet or strong” to which the answer was of course “yes”. I had a couple of Rum Runners which were very tasty (and strong!).



We then ran into two of the ladies that we had met up on the deck earlier in the day. We joined them across of the Promenade at the Crown & Kettle for one more nightcap. Rosie tried to talk one of them into taking her place at cave tubing the next day in Belize but no luck.



We had an early tour the next morning so were off to bed at about 1:30 am.



to be continued......
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Explorer of the Sea 1/16/05
#3
102 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Tuesday 1/18 – Day 3 Belize

Based on recommendations on the port of call board we prebooked a cave tubing excursion with Wet N Wild. The ship docked at 9:00 am (8:00 am Belize time) and we were supposed to meet at 9:30 am for a 10:00 tour.



Tender tickets were given out starting at 8:30 am. We went at 8:15 and the line was LONG (okay, nobody told us what a nightmare tendering can be). We did receive tickets for the second group. We were informed by the RCI staff that we should be off the ship within 15 minutes of the first group.



This is where the nightmare begins and my only real complaint with RCI. We watched from Deck 5 as the first two tender boats filled and left for shore. We headed inside to get in line thinking that we would get off the ship soon.



They had not called group 2 yet but we went ahead and got in line at the end of group 1. The RCI staff kept telling us that we didn’t need to do this that we would get off the same time no matter what (????) This made no sense to us since someone has to be the first group 2 people off the ship, so we just stayed where we were (we did let any group 1 people get ahead of us in line).



The line did not move. We were told that there was a 20 minute hold-up – but nothing else. The 20 minutes turned into 45 minutes and still no explanation. It was close to 60 minutes before the line finally started moving. We later found out that there was a medical evacuation and that stopped the tenders during this time. I think that people would have been much more understanding if this would have been explained to us. Of course the ship’s tours continued to leave the ship from the other end of the ship. I have a HUGE problem with the ship tours. They are way over priced…the same cave tubing tour that we paid $60 was $112 on the ship. Actually our trip was better since it was a 14 passenger van as opposed to a bus.



We finally got to Belize and found Marvin our tour operator. Unfortunately our tour had departed about an hour previously. But he did gather up enough people to create another tour (other people who had missed our tour along with a group that had missed a different tour).



Cave tubing was a ton of fun. We rode about an hour in a comfortable air conditioned van. Our guide gave us lots of information about Belize and the people. The tourist industry has been a great help to the economy of this very poor country.



Once we got to the park we were given headlamps and innertubes. We then set out on about a two mile hike. It was a relatively easy hike with some incline. Along the way the guide pointed out various plants and trees.



Once we arrived at the cave system we got into our tubes. The water was pretty warm and you got used to it quickly. The caves were very dark and it was really cool to float along with only the light from the headlamps. There were a few places where the water moved along quite quickly and other places where you had to paddle. There were some very shallow places and when you heard the words “butt up” you better do it. When we came out of the caves it was pouring rain (it was sunny when we went it but what do you expect from a rain forest??). The rain quickly passed and the sun returned. We ended at the same spot where we started our hike so it was a short distance back to the van.



Lunch was included in our tour but due to lack of time we took it “to go”. It was a wonderful lunch with chicken, rice/beans, salad, and homemade bread. Desert was a wonderful muffin.



We got back to Belize with about an hour to spare before the last tender (last tender was at 5:15). We went directly back to the ship – we were wet and tired. There really isn’t much to do in Belize anyway.



5:30 – 7:00 was of course naptime :0)



Suggested attire for the evening was casual or Country & Western. I am a big country music fan but I didn’t have my boots packed :0) We did see a few people dressed up in boots and hats throughout the evening.



The show was at 10:45. This night it was a ventriloquist Brad Cummings and a singer Delores Park. We did not attend the show so I have no idea if it was good or not.



We headed to the Weekend Warrior to once again see our favorite bartender. Monica and I were both drinking Long Islands (better known as Strong Islands when Kirk makes them). The Stingrays were playing at the Maharajas Lounge so we headed that direction.



It was the Country and Western Hoedown. It was pretty obvious that the band did not do much C&W on a regular basis. They did okay but they were better at other times during the week. The cruise staff was there getting people to line-dance. There were a lot of people there and it was a very good time.



The “hoedown” ended at 1:00 so we decided to give the Chamber another chance since it was really the only thing open. It was a little better this time with the DJ playing some 80’s music (of course he called it “classic” or “oldies”…that makes me feel quite old!).



We met Don Mack who is the “one man band” who performs in the Crown & Kettle each night from 10 pm to 1 am. He was a lot of fun and we all danced until about 3:00 am when we headed off to bed.

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Explorer of the Sea 1/16/05
#5
Springfield, IL
250 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Don't stop!!!!!! I need more information. Thank you for being so thorough!!!
Can't wait to read more.
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~Erica~

Enchantment of the Seas 9/13/04
Explorer of the Seas 10/23/05
Majesty of Seas 4/20/07
Norwegian Jewel 7/22/07
Caribbean Princess 5/11/2008
#6
Louisville, KY USA
115 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
I love reading your review! Looking forward to reading the rest of it. Cave tubing sounds like so much fun!
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March 13, 2005 ~ Mariner of the Seas Western Caribbean
February 2004 ~ Hawaiian Honeymoon Cruise on Regal Princess
May 2002 ~ Carnival Fascination Western Caribbean
#7
'burbs of Washington, DC
307 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
You tenered in Belize from the ship??? That's funny - last February, you walked right off the ship and onto belize....there was no tendering. I'm confused. This was the port with the Pink buildings, correct?
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Voyager of the Seas 2/04 - Western Caribbean
Voyager of the Seas 2/05 - Eastern Caribbean



#8
102 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
We not only tendered in Belize - it was a LONG ride. It was about 15-20 minutes since the ships were anchored so far out. The tendering process is done by the locals in Belize so the size of the boats really varied.

I don't think there was ever a pier in Belize. I know that Carnival is currently planning to build one but it's still in the early planning phases.

Lori
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Explorer of the Sea 1/16/05
#9
North Carolina
12,929 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
I don't know of any ship that has docked in Belize.
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Jane

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#10
'burbs of Washington, DC
307 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
NEVERMIND! I was thinking Costa Maya! Do'h!
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Voyager of the Seas 2/04 - Western Caribbean
Voyager of the Seas 2/05 - Eastern Caribbean



#11
Pascoag, RI
12 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Lori,
I love your review I'm leaving Sunday. I can't believe it's that cold in Miami. I guess I should bring a few more layers. Lori