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We did the same cruise in July 2009, and it would take a lot to beat the great experience everyone had on that cruise. From perfect weather, outstanding service, and great food, everyone was unanimous that it would be impossible to equal that cruise.
19 in our group boarded our bus in Philly area about 10:30 AM. We all had our matching T-Shirts, EOS on the front, ports of call on the back.
We arrived at Bayonne about 12:30.
Upon our arrival, they opened up a new line for us, and we were on board in less than 15 minutes! Gotta give credit to those T-Shirts. More on that later.
Headed to the pool bar, Coors Light $4.89. For sail away, our Meet and Mingle decided to do an informal meet up at the Sky Bar at 4:30.
At about 5:00 we noticed that we were on our way.
Passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge
Our cruise had begun!
Weather was cloudy, a little drizzle, but it would only improve.
This is an ongoing work, and I will be updating this review through day 9.
Great start so far! I haven't seen many Explorer reviews.
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We did Horseshoe Bay. Took the cab, $6 each plus tip.
Below is a picture of the beach about where you are dropped off. Concessions are right there, but, as the day goes on, this part of the beach gets pretty crowded. Looking at the far end, there are some great coves and beaches, but, it is a long walk to the beer stand. Coors Light $5.00
Here are some pix at the very north end of HS Bay
Aslo note, that behind the volleyball courts at the center of the beach you can get tubes of free sunblock, compliments of Coppertone.
Ok, while other photos upload to Photobucket, let's talk food.
First the bad. As said before, we had done this same cruise in JULY 2009. I noticed that staff was somewhat less, as in 2009 we had a waiter with two assistants. This gave them a lot of time to spend with us, and they were incredible, offering trivia, games, puzzles for the entertainment of the kids.
This cruise we had one waiter with one assistant. We had 9 of us at a 10 top, and 4 or 5 of us were on the 3/2/1 or 3/2/2 plan.
Three appetizers, two dinners and one or two desserts. We kept them pretty busy, but really no complaints about the service. ..... er ...... the food service.
On the other hand, the drink service is absurd.
Me: "I would like a Coors Light please".
RCI Person: "I am sorry, I am the wine server, I will have to get you the beer server".
Son: "May I have a soda".
RCI Person: "I am sorry, I am the beer and mixed drinks person, I will have to get the soda person".
I solved my part of the problem as the beer person, Big Daddy, would have a wine bucket waiting for me each night with 3 to 4 Coors Lights on ice.
We kept the wait staff pretty busy. At the end of the meal, the assistant waiter would come to each person at the table (9 of us) and whisper to each of us "would you like coffee?". All right, gotta fix that. Next night, Yovanni, stop right there, show of hands, who wants coffee? 8? OK, eight of us, thanx!
The food - Ok, it was not Emeril Lagasse cooking for our table of 10 only. Let's face it, they are cooking for 3,500 people. With all things considered, I found the food as good as anyone could possibly expect. I would rate it consistently very good to excellent. The 3/2/1 plan worked incredibly well. If you cannot be happy with the MDR dining experience, you are pretty hard to please.
The following picture is of our two tables, which were located in the back corner by the window, very nice location.
How was it to get back to ship? Did you have to wait for a cab? We have 5 people in our party is there a private van to get us there and then back? Or do we take 2 cabs.
5 is perfect, as most are small vans.
Our van was two seats in the back to accomodate four of us, and one person shotgun.
We had enough of the beach by about 2:00 PM, and got a cab right away. In 2009, we stayed til after 3:00 and we had about 15 minute wait for the cabs. Just give yourself a good hour, you should be fine.
However, each time there, we were the only cruise ship in port, so check out if there are other cruise ships, as that could make a big difference.
Last edited by johneeo; July 4th, 2011 at 12:13 PM.
St. Martin continued ... we did get to see a lot of the French side, a lot of nice gated houses and communities. Seemed like the French side had the bucks. Here is our touring van which gave us the option to do whatever we wished.
Our last stop on St. Martin was Orient Beach. Did not get there until about 4. We went to Orange Fever for lunch. Luc was our waiter and was very accomodating. I had a fish / grouper sandwich, which came with fries, and happened to be very good.
They had Coors Light, a bucket of 6 was $10!
The weather was overcast, not very good, and the beach was pretty much shutting down. Gadzooks, we did not see one naked breast.
What to do what to do.
Well, we were within walking distance of Club Orient, so what the hey, we took a stroll down there.
If I had to do it over on St. Martin, I would do the same thing I did in 2009 - The America's Cup Yacht Race, one of the best excursions I have ever done.
We docked at St. Martin at noon, and we were scheduled to leave at 9:00, so we had plenty of time to get back to the ship. We were not planning to make dinner at 6.
Next stop St. Thomas. I was really looking forward to this stop, as we had booked a sailing snorkeling excursion to some turtle cove on the Fury, I think it was going to Buck Island. This tour was scheduled for 12:30 PM, and since we were scheduled to arrive at 8:00, my son and I were going to take the ski lift up to the top of the mountain at Havensite in the morning and take some pix.
Captain Ofaf was great. Personable guy. Always around. We went to the Q & A
Interesting, and when it was over, who was walking up our aisle ......
I had the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions.
Back to the T-Shirts. Mike in our group made the T-Shirts, and he happened to bump into the Captain, had an extra shirt, and gave it to the Captain. He loved it. Well, on the second formal night, Mike and his fiancee got the invite to the Captain's table for dinner. After dinner, Mike arranged for a group photo of out group. Mike is at the top.
Two in our group did not make the formal dinner, so they missed the picture.
Well, here comes the Captain to our table. They got in a picture with the Captain.
Also, a couple of our group participated in the Make a Wish run, jog, walk, and who was with them in shorts and a T-Shirt participating, the Captain.
Just a really great guy. Having been on 6 previous cruises, I cannot remember ever seeing the Captain, but on this cruise, he was everywhere, talking to everyone, taking pictures, just having a good time. Very impessive guy. 50 years with RCI. Tremendous asset to the cruise line.