Daily Log, Explorer of the Seas, Jan. 16-27

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#1
NYC
2,615 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Well, this will probably be a bit too much detail for many cruisers... but for those (like me) who enjoy reading along with someone else's trip, sit back and enjoy!

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Daily Log: Explorer of the Seas 11-night cruise, January 16-January 27

Mon. Jan. 16

Woke up at our friends’ house in South Orange, NJ (they picked us up in NYC last night so they could drive us to the port today at our leisure). Enjoyed a hot cup of PG Tips tea with milk and honey, caught up on my email and last check of Cruise Critic. Lovely breakfast of homemade bread, eggs and bacon (cooked in the oven on a rack, non-greasy, evenly cooked, just perfect). Talked with friends, then drove to Port of Bayonne.

Very clear signage from the highway all the way to the port entry… and then NOTHING, ended up driving well past the port entry, having to make a typical Jersey right-hand U-turn to get back to the entrance to the Cape Liberty Cruiseport, drove 2 miles out to beautiful Explorer of the Seas. Luggage handlers quickly moved our three very heavy bags from the car to the luggage carts (gave a $5 tip) and we promptly moved into the boarding area.

Bags went through scanners (though thank heavens we could keep on our shoes and coats, given the frigid temperatures!). Line moved quickly, and we were into the terminal, where we went to the Priority Boarding line (my daughter is Platinum, I am diamond)… but our cards showed her to be Gold. We were told to go to Guest Services to have this taken care of (more on that later).

I also noticed that we had early dining; my travel agent had assured me that we had confirmed late dining. Once we boarded, we walked up the stairs to deck 5 to go to Guest Relations (my daughter carrying my rollaboard as well as her backpack!). After waiting on a short line, they looked up her account and said she was still showing as Gold, and advised that we go to see the Loyalty Ambassador from 5-7pm that night (of course, with the spa raffle at 5:15 and dinner at 6, that was virtually impossible, and indeed we did not get there the first day). We also pointed out that our dining time was wrong, and were told to go “over the bridge” to have that straightened out… but that was the “My Time Dining” desk, not the Maitre D, for that we had to go downstairs to the other restaurant.

There were DOZENS of people waiting to have their dining arrangements changed, fixed, etc. – probably many who had late dining or My Time dining who wanted to move to early seating. After waiting about 10 minutes, we decided to stay with early dining, just so we wouldn’t end up so hungry by 8:30pm. We’ll see how it goes.

From there we headed up to the Windjammer, and made ourselves a lovely light lunch (after our heavy breakfast): baby spinach, honey mustard dressing; green beans with red onions; baked wahoo; I picked out 2 shrimp and 2 mussels from the Paella; and I picked up an orange, a red apple, a green apple and a kiwi to take back to the room. We drank water and found a shared table fairly quickly. There were wall-to-wall people in the Windjammer, many standing and eating from plates held in their hands, with many requests from the loudspeakers that people move along so others could enjoy their lunch… until the announcement came that the cabins were open, whereupon the place opened up quickly.

We proceeded down the stairs to deck 7; the hallways were packed with people, as apparently some of the cabins on decks 9 and 10 were not yet ready. We walked through the library and found our (TINY!!) Promenade cabin. I think it is even smaller than the cabin we just had on the 20-year-old Monarch of the Seas. However, we managed to fit all of our overpacked clothes, shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, water sports items, books, music, and more into the space.

Once we finished unpacking, we headed up to the gym to introduce ourselves to the fitness center staff (SJ and Bea) and sign up for some classes. We got a deal on 6 classes for the price of 5 (I’m taking all 6 spin classes offered, and they allowed us to “combine” our 6 yoga classes as one package, even though we’re each taking 3 classes together). Then I stayed in the gym to sneak in a quick workout, while Ariel headed up to the spa to put in raffle tickets for us.

I did 10 minutes on the treadmill, trying to get my legs back into shape after their 11-mile run on Saturday. I moved the incline and speed up and then back down, pushing myself to move at 4 mph (a 15-minute mile, just slightly ahead of the 16-minute mile required for the Disney half-marathon). While I was on the treadmill, the announcement came that it was time for muster drill, and that all customer areas would be closed. I said I’d get off in 3 minutes (after cool down), then took a few photos… and realized that the staffer was waiting for me to exit, since the exterior doors were in fact closed!

I went down the stairs to deck 7, met Ariel in the room and picked up my fleece jacket (my faux fur was packed into my suitcase under my bed already) and we headed down to deck 4 to our muster station… outside in the frigid air, of course, with me in capris and still sweaty from my time on the treadmill. I had wrapped a bath towel around my neck to keep out the cold, but it was still mighty chilly! Muster went very fast, and the captain dismissed us. We returned to the room, where I hung up my jacket before heading back up to the gym for another 10-minute session with a 3-minute cool down.

The ship started to move, and I realized it was 5 o’clock. I got off the treadmill and ran the length of the ship, on the open solarium/pool deck, to reach the aft where I could go up 4 flights of stairs to the chapel on deck 15, for the Friends of Bill W. meeting. There were just 3 of us, and I explained I would have to leave in 10 minutes to meet my daughter at the spa raffle, but at least we got to introduce ourselves. A nice start.

I then ran back downstairs, back across the freezing pool deck in my once-again sweaty workout clothes – JUST as we were passing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge!! – and arrived back in the gym right on time for the spa raffle. Ariel and I were not lucky tonight, but it’s always fun to participate and cheer on the others.

Then it was back to the room, where I showered and changed for dinner (Ariel had done so while I was working out before), and we then rushed down to our 6:00pm seating. We are seated with a party of 6 friends, all in their late 60s and early 70s, with grandchildren in college, from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, very nice people overall.

The restaurant management was a bit haphazard: there was no one to seat us as we entered the dining room, we had to wander around to find our own table. The assistant waiter made one bread service throughout the entire meal, and did not offer iced tea or lemonade (although he quickly provided it when requested). As is the general focus these days, there is a push for the for-pay items (bottled Evian water and sparkling Pellegrino as well as sodas and bar drinks; cappuccinos and lattes over coffee and tea; more description of the Chops steak than the regular menu items, etc.).

Dinner was delicious; I had a spicy Thai shrimp soup, a fruit plate with thumbnail-sized bites of strawberry, kiwi and pineapple, and Ariel and I shared a spinach salad with balsamic vinegar (no, not vinaigrette, just vinegar poured over the salad by the assistant waiter!); “Catch of the Day” which was sea bass, over lentils and green beans with 3 cherry tomatoes – and I also ate the mushrooms from Ariel’s mushroom alfredo!

The staff must be under a lot of pressure; when the waiter had to delay delivery of one person’s dinner, he explained, “When I was there it was in the oven. It’s not my fault.” Surely they are instructed that this is NOT the right thing to say? In any event, when I requested a cheese plate be at the table when we are seated for the rest of the week, the waiter assured me it would be in place for everyone, and when we requested a fruit plate and cheese plate for dessert, they were delivered very quickly so we could make the single-seating welcome aboard show.

Cruise Director is Jimmy Rhodes – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before on either the Majesty or the Monarch. The orchestra was in fine form and the dancers all look great – and most of them are VERY TALL! Can’t tell about the singers yet, but they did fine in the brief “Zoot Suit” number tonight. Comedian (Max something, an Italian name) carried most of the weight for the show, and was pretty funny.

After the show, we walked up to the Promenade, wandered through the stores, tried to pick up an extra Compass (they were all out), then walked up to deck 7, browsed in the Library, and returned to the room to look at tomorrow’s Compass and bring this log up to date.




Ariel read magazines and we listened to ipod music on the idog speaker until 10:30 when the Promenade parade started. Ariel and I watched from the windows, wearing our “blinkie” buttons… but then I rushed downstairs to guest services while the parade was on, and indeed, there was NO ONE on line!! I quickly took care of Diamond internet discount (so I can check my email and post these notes) and purchased a announcement in the Compass for the Labadee port day (a $25 fee), congratulating Ariel and thanking her for her two years of service with AmeriCorps.

Then I walked back up the Promenade after the parade was over, through piles of confetti and RC staffers clearing up and clearing out, picked up a couple of kiwis, a banana, a knife and a spoon from the café, and walked back up to the cabin. We dressed for bed, and I purchased the internet package, after pre-writing a couple of emails to send.

And there’s our first day at sea! More of a diary than a trip log, I know, but hopefully some of the detail will be of interest to other cruisers.
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-Denise

Past Cruises:1990s: 3 Big Red Boat (1 Atlantic, 2 Oceanic); 3 Carnival (Ecstasy, Destiny, Fantasy); Premier NYC cruise to nowhere; Disney Wonder 1/06; Mariner of the Seas 8/06; Sun Princess 1/07; Caribbean Princess 3/07; Crown Princess 10/07; Brilliance of the Seas 1/08; Monarch 4/08; Majesty B2B 9/08; Mariner 4/09; Radiance 11/09; Majesty 1/10; Monarch 9/10; Majesty 12/10; Monarch 12/11; Explorer 1/12; Monarch 3/12; Oasis 12/13; Explorer 3/14; Explorer Repo11/14; Majesty Solo1/15; Liberty 10/15;Coral Princess & Radiance - Alaska5/16; Rhapsody11/16; Ruby Princess 1/17. Planned Cruises: Windstar 4/17; Crown Princess 9/17; Ovation 11/17; Disney Dream 1/18; Grandeur 2/18; Cunard Queen Mary 10-11/18
(Not) Live from the Explorer, March 2014
Oasis of the Seas, December 2013, Blog & Review
Daily Log, Explorer of the Seas, January 2012
(Not) Live from the Mariner (West Coast), April 2009
(Not) Live from the Monarch (West Coast), April 2008
Live from the Brilliance, January 2008
Not Live from the Crown Princess, October 2007
#2
290 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Once we finished unpacking, we headed up to the gym to introduce ourselves to the fitness center staff (SJ and Bea) and sign up for some classes. We got a deal on 6 classes for the price of 5 (I’m taking all 6 spin classes offered, and they allowed us to “combine” our 6 yoga classes as one package, even though we’re each taking 3 classes together). Then I stayed in the gym to sneak in a quick workout, while Ariel headed up to the spa to put in raffle tickets for us.

Thank you for your blog, I am on EOS for the first time and will enjoy reading and getting ideas. What were the prices for the fitness centre, I am sure my wife is interested
#3
Southampton, NY
246 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Originally posted by EmpressofPurple
Well, this will probably be a bit too much detail for many cruisers... but for those (like me) who enjoy reading along with someone else's trip, sit back and enjoy!
................
And there’s our first day at sea! More of a diary than a trip log, I know, but hopefully some of the detail will be of interest to other cruisers.
I am thrilled to be along on your cruise, looking forward to your updates.....and I love the details. I'll be on EOS in a month! I'll save my questions for when you return....ENJOY!
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#4
Delaware
3,403 Posts
Joined May 2006
Sounds like you are off to a pretty good start. i am sure the loyal ambassador will get your status fixed.

Did your travel documents from your agent and royal caribbean show that you had confirmed second seating? Very unusual for the restaurant operations manager to miss many requests. I know on our Allure cruise last month many people were in line to change times and change tables after seeing the location of the table. Some said they didn't realize that second seating dining at 830 meant you weren't starting to dine until then. they actually thought they could just show up and be out by then.

Glad you are having a great time with your daughter. Enjoy the Explorer. She is a great ship with a great crew.
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Happy Cruising! Cris
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#6
Brookhaven, GA.
5,523 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Thanks for sharing.
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#7
5,261 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
If you get a chance to talk to the Cruise Director is Jimmy Rhodes, can you ask him if he will be onboard for the February 27th sailing and if not who will be the cruise director then.

Thanks
Jimbo
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#9
Vero Beach, Florida
6,355 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Enjoying your daily log. Hubby & I will be on the EOS in May. Can't wait to continue reading. Thanks for taking time out and doing this!!
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sheryl

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#10
Central ct.
2,301 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Thanks for the daily report. We're cruising on the Explorer for the first time in April, your timing is perfect.
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#11
King of Prussia, PA
3,418 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Great review! Can't wait for the rest!
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33 Nights at Sea....
Cruise History:
6/11 - Allure of the Seas - 7 Night Western Caribbean
4/11 - Navigator of the Seas - 5 Night Western Caribbean
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#12
New Jersey
3,961 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Thanks for posting the live thread. I will be following it as we will be boarding as you are getting off. If you would, can you please find out who the CD will be on our cruise. Our roll call has been wondering. Also let us know where the M & M was held. Thanks again for taking the time and posting.
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L

#14
343 Posts
Joined May 2001
We will be on the next sailing and I'm curious who the CD will be. Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping it will be Richard Spacey!!
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Jody


DCL ~ Feb.1999 [4]
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Mariner of the Seas ~ June 2006 [7]
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Freedom of the Seas ~ April 2007 [7]
Navigator of the Seas ~ December 2007 [5]
Explorer of the Seas ~ April 2009 [9]
Oasis of the Seas ~ August 2010 [7]
Explorer of the Seas ~ January 2012 [9]
Quantum of the Seas ~ April 2015 [12]
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89 Days at Sea! :=)
#15
Central Islip , NY
563 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
I saw a cruise director schedule, stating that Jimmy Rhodes will be CD until March.
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#17
23 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Enjoyed your detailed first day.....Will be reading and looking forward to your posts due to the fact we are on right after you, s you will be our guide to the Explorer.....
We are going with friends who wanted me to ask the question if Shrimp Cocktail is on the MDR menu every night.
Happy and safe cruise.
#18
NYC
2,615 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Hi Putercents – here are some fitness centre prices: General access to the gym is free, to use all free weights, weight machines, treadmills, etc. (Spin bikes are only for use in spin classes.) There are several short (25-30 min.) free classes offered each day, generally early in the morning (7am vitality stretch, 7:30 abs buns and thighs or something similar) and on some port days a 5pm conditioning class.

In addition, they offer “Pathway to Yoga” (i.e., this is not a real yoga class, but does practice some postures from Yoga), Pilates, and Spin classes at $12 per class. As someone who has been cruising since before for-pay gym classes were offered, I have seen these classes rise in price from $6 to $8 to $10 and now $12 per class. (Note that these classes have also dropped in length from 60 minutes to 55 to 50 and now 45 minutes!) In the beginning, as they would raise the price, they offered a package to keep it at the previous price (i.e., $12 per class but if you book 3 classes it would be $30, keeping it effectively at the old price).

I asked if they would do that on this cruise, and the fitness center director said their package special was if you booked all SIX classes of any one offering, they would only charge for five (so in effect they would be $10 each)… and since I was doing all six spin classes I qualified for this, and they kindly offered to let me and my daughter split a package for six yoga classes between the two of us.

They also offer a 4-session body sculpt boot camp for $120, making it $30 per 30-minute session. (This is actually a relatively good deal, we paid $75 for a 2-session boot camp on the Monarch in December, or $37.50 per session.) We did NOT do this on this cruise, as it was outside of our budget, but it is a great, VERY high energy program.

(Let me add that I feel the prices charged for these classes, as for many items onboard, are WAY out of line. As I have repeatedly written on these boards, and in my comment cards onboard, we already pay a premium to be in this floating city. While a small upcharge may be in order for certain premium items – specialty restaurants, top-shelf drinks, intensive workout classes, etc. – the prices charged are much too high. I noticed that there were only two people signed up for Yoga today, whereas there were a dozen people at the free stretch class. Surely if the classes were five or six dollars, instead of twelve, there would be many more participants, much more energy created – and much more revenue (and good will) generated for RCI. Furthermore, they have now started to impose an AUTO-GRATUITY on top of these class fees!! I used to tip the gym staff quite handsomely at the end of the cruise – often $20 to $50, since I used the facilities for several hours a day, and was always grateful for their (free) guidance and assistance. Now that I am paying a (too high priced) premium for their classes, my budget does not allow for this kind of tipping – and I am really appalled that this tip has been imposed on a per-receipt basis. I may look into having it removed before the end of the cruise.)

(May I add one more comment: I REALLY miss the old Vitality (formerly ShipShape) programs that Royal Caribbean used to offer. I think it really encouraged people to stay active onboard and think about their health. For those of you who only started cruising recently, for all the programs now marked with a “Vitality” symbol offered by the sports and the cruise director’s departments, such as both the free and for-pay classes, walk-a-mile, line dancing, rock climbing, etc., RCI used to give out “ShipShape Dollars” and later “Vitality coins” which you could trade in at the end of the cruise at the sports desk for actually useful items: sports backpacks, visors, towels, T-shirts and more. If you only had a few chits you could usually at least get a keychain. Similar to Trivia prizes, which used to be nifty things like purses and wallets and now are just highlighters or even the free pens lying around, the giveaways have been drastically reduced. Such a shame; I really can’t believe these were such big revenue-eaters that they had to be removed, and they did add such good spirit and fun to participating in healthy activities, and to playing Trivia and other fun games onboard.)

(Okay, one more speech from my soapbox, then back to my daily log: I would strongly suggest that RCI look into developing sports programs for their actual customers. In other words, instead of being happy with 30-50 people out of the 3600 on board using the gym, why not create programs that will serve more people? Wouldn’t it be great if they offered a “gentle stretch” class or “easy aerobics” for older, less fit, or overweight people who want to begin to get into shape without feeling like they have to bend themselves into pretzels to keep up with the very fit people? Likewise, wouldn’t it be great to offer some really challenging classes for the younger and more athletically inclined, outside of the for-pay boot camp and spin classes? On tour day, instructors could give demonstrations of what people could expect in the various level classes, and that might improve participation… not to mention if some of the classes were offered later than 7:00am. On many cruises, by the third or fourth day, I have been the only person at these early-morning events! I am also a living example of the positive impact of cruise exercise: I have lost over 80 lbs. and am currently training for a half-marathon, and I did my first-ever spin class on a Royal Caribbean cruise nearly six years ago! I have learned a lot from the various trainers I have met onboard over the years, and I would love to see other people reap the same benefits that I have from my experience in cruise exercise classes.)

Tues., Jan. 17 – At Sea

Okay, so back to the daily detailed report! I’m so glad to read that this minutiae is of interest to at least some others. I know I LOVE reading minute-by-minute descriptions of other people’s cruise holidays, even (or especially) if their interests are completely different from my own; it’s a great way to plan what to do (or what to avoid), and to cruise vicariously when I can’t get out from behind my desk! I remember reading along with a South Seas cruise on Princess and nearly crying every day the pictures and stories were so amazing.

Sorry about no pictures; my digital camera died on my 3-day Monarch cruise in December… I may actually replace it on this trip! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime my daughter has been taking lots of photos, and I have a bunch on my cell phone I may try to upload on another day… when I don’t start writing my notes at nearly midnite!! (After all, I have to be up in about 6 hours to get ready for my 7am stretch class.)

So… that’s how today started! I had laid out my clothes last night so I could basically get dressed in the dark, hoping not to disturb my daughter (who also went to bed while I was typing up these notes, as she has again tonight, wearing a sleep mask and listening to a sound machine with ocean waves). At about 6:30am my travel alarm went off, and I put on my workout gear, took along my metal water bottle filled with ice water from my melted ice bucket (and infused with my wonderful Isagenix want-more-energy, a healthy sports drink), my room key, and my sneakers and socks.

I walked up to the gym in my flip-flops and pulled a mat out onto the floor, along with the eight or so people who were already there; a couple more came in after me. We did a nice basic stretch class with instructor SJ – different from any I had done before, he had an interesting focus of having us identify which side was looser and which was tighter, and after stretching each side equally for 20 seconds, we then stretched the tight side for 30 seconds and the loose side for only 10. I liked this personalization, because of course everybody is different whether the left or right side is tight, and it changes day to day. Nice touch, SJ!

After that, some people left, some people stayed, and we did the abs, buns and thighs class. Sadly, the warmup for this class was the same as the warmup for the previous one, so having done both classes in a row I was a bit bored. (Don’t get me wrong, they were nice warm-ups, just boring to repeat the same movements so close together. Makes me a little worried about the repetitiveness over an 11-night cruise. Oh well, we’ll see…) The class was basically squats, lunges and crunches, solid basic moves, well led but nothing special.

I then returned to the room to wake up my daughter so we could go to breakfast before attending our first event: a destination lecture about Labadee. I was so excited to see something other than the “Port and Shopping” lecture, which I have attended many times and found to be little more than a shill for stores which apparently either pay to be promoted or kick back to the cruiseline for promoting them… and which encourage me to purchase a coupon book (which I have done more than once) which further encourages me to buy stuff I don’t need and can’t afford! Yeah, I don’t do that one anymore…

But anyway, we didn’t really get to attend this lecture because, once again, the dining room management was really poor. I remember reading in another recent thread about the Explorer having major dining room problems, and I’m afraid I have to continue this theme. While the individual servers are really wonderful – friendly, kind and attentive – my exposure to the upper management, head waiters and Maitre D’s, is really problematic if not actually poor (more on that later). I’m afraid that their hostile attitude is affecting the staff, and their poor administration of the dining room is truly reducing service. (I am too Pollyanna to believe that this is a mean-spirited ploy on the part of RCI itself to drive people out of the poorly-managed MDR into the pay venues; I’m just afraid that there is a lack of excellent leadership from the top in this area.)

So, what was the actual experience? When we arrived at the dining room for breakfast at 8:45am, the line was out the door – 24 people ahead of us, I counted – and not moving. At all. I went to the front of the line to see what was holding us up. They were not letting anyone come in. Why? I was completely confused. There seemed to be no reason; could they possibly want people to use the Windjammer instead of the dining room? Again, why? It took 15 minutes for us to be seated for breakfast (9:00am), and another 15 minutes (9:15am) before we saw our waiter so we could inform him we wanted to make a 9:30 event! (I should note that when we left the dining room, the line was TWICE as long… it looked like nearly 50 people waiting to be seated for breakfast. I have never encountered this before on any RCI ship.)

In the meantime, NO water was served… a tray of sweet pastries was brought by the table, no muffins or bread… and while coffee and tea were brought around, and a tray of orange juice was offered, the menu juices (including prune, tomato and V-8) were not mentioned, though when I requested V-8 it was brought promptly.

(As an aside: I have repeatedly requested grapefruit juice on RCI cruises, but could not get it anywhere, and have been told that there is no grapefruit juice anywhere on the ship, even in the bars. As a former drinker, I remember a favorite being the Sea Breeze, with cranberry and grapefruit juice in addition to the alcohol – do they not serve these onboard? Interesting. In any event, my own solution to this is Jack Nicholson’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest solution to not having any toast for the chicken sandwich: I order the breakfast grapefruit, and an empty glass, and squeeze my own – for free!!! Yeah, it’s a bit messy, but at least I know how to treat the customer – me – right, and make sure that I get what I want.)

As usual, our dining companions were delightful: two older women, clearly longtime friends, who were traveling together. They were both well-cruised and well-traveled, and had a lot of stories to share, including years of sailing the Caribbean in rented sailboats with their late husbands, living in Italy for many years, etc. I really love the conversations and the friendships that grow from meeting with my fellow cruisers!

Well, I ordered eggs benedict and kippered herring, and heard the waiter repeat the order. I received the eggs and they were wonderful, but the herring was never delivered; maybe it was on the station, but I had asked him to bring everything together, because we ran out the door as soon as we wolfed down the eggs so we could at least catch the last half of the lecture…

…but of course, just as we arrived in the PACKED Schooner Bar, the speaker was wrapping up the historical part of the lecture, and moving into a description of the resort section of Labadee. I have been to Labadee twice in the past, and it is one of my favorite “private island” destinations, so green and lush and different from other ports. I also love being able to support residents of such an economically depressed, long-war-torn and recently ecologically devastated country. I have bought clothes, artwork, jewelry, music CDs and more from the local vendors when I have visited, and I am glad that RCI has contributed much to the local economy. I have traveled widely with timeshares and hotels and have never found any promotion of tourism anywhere else in Haiti, due to its many problems. I am excited to see the new dock in Labadee, which was built to accommodate the mammoth Oasis and Allure, and will benefit all the other RCI ships which call at this port. How nice not to have to tender this time!

(An interesting aside: I have a friend who has worked in Haitian relief work for many years, long before the earthquake and subsequent devastation, and she said that the real name of this area is “Labadie” – pronounced like our “Julie” – but apparently, because of the word “-die” at the end, the powers that be decided to change it to “Labadee” so no one would say it the wrong way, or think of the word “die”! Odd that that there are no such worries about the mispronunciation of “Coco Cay” – which should, of course, be pronounced “Key” – but I digress…)

So, having arrived at the lecture late, we had to leave early, because the Meet & Mingle was beginning in the Chamber at 10:00am! We ran downstairs into the amazing faux-stone two-level disco (what is this called on the Mariner, the Dragon’s Den or some such? I remember closing it down more than once with some rowdy dancing CC friends of mine!!) – and it was packed with all of our great roll call members! We’re scheduled for a slot pull on our first returning sea day… and we were supposed to have a mini golf tournament, but I don’t know what happened to that…

Anyway, Frankie from the CD’s department led the event; there were some nibbles plus iced tea and lemonade available and we got the nice little hanging notepad/pen combos as our free gifts. We all stood and introduced ourselves by table, giving our names, screen names and home town, and a little info about our cruising history, a great way to put faces to names. Then we put in our chits for the raffle. Prizes included a baseball hat, umbrella, Bingo T-shirt, and the most valuable prizes: 2 free in-cabin movies, and $50 worth of internet time! My daughter Ariel was thrilled to win the movies… and even more thrilled when the most-cruised member (with 91 cruises) gave her his internet prize! She made me take photos of her with her prize certificates… and with the lovely man who gave her his prize, too. We met and mingled with many who had been so friendly on the boards, just a great event, so nice to have many familiar faces to run into throughout the cruise.

From there, we returned to the Schooner bar to play progressive trivia at 10:30am. How I miss my usual CC crew!! We managed to come up with 12 out of 20, pretty sad… but it’s just the first day, hopefully we’ll become competitive by the end. We’re trying to convince one of our dinner companions to join our team tomorrow; he’s a former high school principal and apparently a trivia whiz. I’ll let you know how we do next time!

I dashed out of there early (can you tell I like to do a lot when I’m cruising? Not me for sleeping in and relaxing!) to get to the Digital Camera seminar at 11:00am in the Aquarium Bar– and I was thrilled to discover that it was an actual enrichment seminar, not just a promotion for digital camera sales. It was very interesting to learn about a lot of the recent technical advancements over just the past few years… well, maybe it was a promotion for the camera store after all!

Okay, left that lecture early to return to the Schooner Bar for the Cyber Security lecture at 11:30 – again, thrilled to have yet another actual enrichment seminar! Learned a lot of disturbing and helpful information about how to protect the personal information on my home computer (main advice: password protect your computer!).

Whew! By 12:30pm, we did not want to run around anymore, so we stayed to hear about the digital photography scavenger hunt (which we would have had to play using my daughter’s camera – sounds like fun, you run around the ship to take pictures of various items and get back within 25 minutes) – but then we left and wandered down to have lunch at the café in the Promenade.

What a great idea! We each had one of the three sandwiches on offer: ham and cheese on a mini-croissant; tuna salad on a seeded roll; and brie cheese with red-leaf lettuce on a sunflower-seed studded mini whole wheat bagel. Yum! We shared an orange and a banana (which I cut into nice slices) for dessert, and I had a coconut ranger cookie and a cup of coffee. (I don’t know what a ranger is, but it is delicious!!) My daughter has really been enjoying the Lipton green tea on offer in both the café and the dining room; it also has jasmine tea in it, and it’s quite delicious. (We bring our own stevia to sweeten our drinks; it is not yet available onboard.)

After lunch we decided to continue to relax and read, so we went to the Aquarium Bar and took over a comfy couch by the large porthole-style windows, with a lovely garden just beyond. It was nice to sit and read (actually I played word games on my Kindle while she read) while looking out at the really quite rough seas. The rocking of the boat put me to sleep more than once! I guess all that running around caught up to me.

At 2:00pm we headed back to the Schooner Bar for Interactive Trivia, which was quite fun: we used these gizmos to record our answers (basically looking at photos of celebrities and movie stars and saying who they were). We got the highest score, along with two other teams (mostly thanks to Ariel), but we came in second place because speed of entry also counts in this game, and apparently the other team pressed those buttons more quickly than we did.

(Okay, it’s nearly 1am… I still have some other note-taking to do, so I am going to sign off for now… I promise to catch up on the rest of the afternoon and evening… maybe with fewer asides so it won’t take so long to write!... but I really must get some sleep so I can get up for stretch class in five hours… don’t know if I can slip in a nap tomorrow, the compass is jam-packed with great activities once again…)

Re: Questions – don’t know if Jimmy Rhodes will be staying on for the next cruise, but he is the current cruise director (I would trust the comment that he will be on thru March) – I don’t think shrimp cocktail is on the menu every night, but I bet if you ask your waiter you could get it every night! – keep ‘em coming, I’ll do my best to answer!

The Explorer is truly a beautiful ship. I enjoy walking around and looking at all the little touches, the artwork on every hallway, stairway, alcove… Annie Liebowitz photos of famous musicians and performers, original tribal art, soaring sculptures, humorous items, all so lovely. Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the ship’s godmother, a great inspiration to me as I prepare to run my first half-marathon at the end of next month. I am just having a great time on this cruise, and it’s only day 2 of 11! Can’t wait to tell you about what happens next.

A demain (till tomorrow)

-D
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-Denise

Past Cruises:1990s: 3 Big Red Boat (1 Atlantic, 2 Oceanic); 3 Carnival (Ecstasy, Destiny, Fantasy); Premier NYC cruise to nowhere; Disney Wonder 1/06; Mariner of the Seas 8/06; Sun Princess 1/07; Caribbean Princess 3/07; Crown Princess 10/07; Brilliance of the Seas 1/08; Monarch 4/08; Majesty B2B 9/08; Mariner 4/09; Radiance 11/09; Majesty 1/10; Monarch 9/10; Majesty 12/10; Monarch 12/11; Explorer 1/12; Monarch 3/12; Oasis 12/13; Explorer 3/14; Explorer Repo11/14; Majesty Solo1/15; Liberty 10/15;Coral Princess & Radiance - Alaska5/16; Rhapsody11/16; Ruby Princess 1/17. Planned Cruises: Windstar 4/17; Crown Princess 9/17; Ovation 11/17; Disney Dream 1/18; Grandeur 2/18; Cunard Queen Mary 10-11/18
(Not) Live from the Explorer, March 2014
Oasis of the Seas, December 2013, Blog & Review
Daily Log, Explorer of the Seas, January 2012
(Not) Live from the Mariner (West Coast), April 2009
(Not) Live from the Monarch (West Coast), April 2008
Live from the Brilliance, January 2008
Not Live from the Crown Princess, October 2007
#19
Solarium Bar
4,705 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Thanks for this great blog! Love it.
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SYMPHONY OF THE SEAS 16-FEB-19
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS 3-MAR-18
HARMONY OF THE SEAS 30-SEP-17
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS 8-JUL-17

NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS 3-MAR-17 - LIVE Review
MAJESTY OF THE SEAS 3-FEB-17 - LIVE Review
ANTHEM OF THE SEAS 20-OCT-16 - LIVE Review
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS 2-JUL-16 - LIVE Review
NORWEGIAN ESCAPE 20-FEB-16 - LIVE Review
OASIS OF THE SEAS 5-SEP-15 - LIVE Review
QUANTUM OF THE SEAS 20-FEB-15 - Review
OASIS OF THE SEAS 22-NOV-14
EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 2-MAR-14
OASIS OF THE SEAS 31-AUG-13 - Review
EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 15-MAR-13
ALLURE OF THE SEAS 9-SEP-12
EXPLORER OF THE SEAS 9-MAR-12
OASIS OF THE SEAS 3-SEP-11
NORWEGIAN GEM (CTN) 11-FEB-11
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS 17-OCT-10
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS 27-SEP-09
LIBERTY OF THE SEAS 13-SEP-08
LIBERTY OF THE SEAS 22-SEP-07
NORWEGIAN DAWN 19-AUG-06
S/S NORWAY 28-MAR-98
M/S SUNWARD II 1982
#20
Merion, Pennsylvania
56,918 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Originally posted by EmpressofPurple
......After waiting on a short line, they looked up her account and said she was still showing as Gold, and advised that we go to see the Loyalty Ambassador from 5-7pm that night (of course, with the spa raffle at 5:15 and dinner at 6, that was virtually impossible, and indeed we did not get there the first day). We’ll see how it goes.
Can't wait to hear about Ariel's C&A status screwup.


--- JUST as we were passing under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge!! –
I love that sight!

Cruise Director is Jimmy Rhodes – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before on either the Majesty or the Monarch.
Denise, he was our CD on the Majesty in 2008.


(An interesting aside: I have a friend who has worked in Haitian relief work for many years, long before the earthquake and subsequent devastation, and she said that the real name of this area is “Labadie” – pronounced like our “Julie” – but apparently, because of the word “-die” at the end, the powers that be decided to change it to “Labadee” so no one would say it the wrong way, or think of the word “die”! Odd that that there are no such worries about the mispronunciation of “Coco Cay” – which should, of course, be pronounced “Key” – but I digress…)
Denise, I think that RC calls its area "Labadee" simply to distinguish it from the already-existing Haitian town of Labadie.

At 2:00pm we headed back to the Schooner Bar for Interactive Trivia, which was quite fun: we used these gizmos to record our answers (basically looking at photos of celebrities and movie stars and saying who they were). We got the highest score, along with two other teams (mostly thanks to Ariel), but we came in second place because speed of entry also counts in this game, and apparently the other team pressed those buttons more quickly than we did.
You are just like my students! Give them a new gadget or toy, and the same old-same old seems new and exciting!


Keep on having fun, my friend!