Explorer 6/2/6 to 6/11/6 review

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#1
26 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
About us:
Me- 27yo guy, criminal defense attorney, 6 previous cruises
My girl friend - 26yo, medical billing manager, 4 previous cruises
We live together in Ocean County, NJ

DISCLAIMER - I'm gonna do a lot of complaining, but I'm mostly nitpicking. I had a great time and it would take a lot to spoil the fun and relaxation that I had. My opinions are just that, my opinions and thus, they are pretty much useless except that they may make you aware of certain things that you can expect and/or compare to others to make an informed decision.

The Cruise: 6/2/2 leaving out of Bayonne

We chose this cruise because we didn't have to fly, we liked the ports and it was pretty cheap, only $649 pp.

Embarkation - went real smooth, got there at about 1pm, was on the boat in about 15 minutes. Room was ready. We had inside cabin 6665.

Production shows - I'm not a fan of production shows, but these were pretty good.

Other shows - On a 5 night cruise on Voyager in 2004, we had the platters which I liked, on here, there was no big name. We had 2 comedians, 1 magician, and this other guy that was kind of a vaudville juggler/magiican thing. The comedians were ok, a little hit and miss. The magician was pretty good, I saw Lance Burton a few months ago and Lance wasn't that much better than this guy. Some old tricks you've seen a million times, some other that were good. Charlie Frye was the vaudeville guy. He was really good. The second to last show was Charlie and the magician again. Looks like they are trying to cut corners and save some money.

Ice Show - as usual, real good. They had these two russian acrobat type people that did all these crazy tricks on the ice with this big metal wheel. Really cool.

First two sea days - really, really windy, not that hot. Kinda made the pool and sitting by the pool not that enjoyable. I don't really remember any great events that took place. They did have a digital camera seminar but I didn't go to it until the last day. Turns out it was an on going series with these guest speakers. Sounded real good. Wish I knew it was a series.

St Thomas - Getting in at 1pm really sucks. They gotta work this out a little better. I took the St John Beach excursion. By the time we go there, we only had an hour and a half at the beach. And you need 10 minutes to get your snorkle stuff and get situated. Then you need 20 minutes to get showered and everything. I only had time to do one lap of snorkleing around the big rock on Trunk Bay and it was time to go. It was expensive (104 for both of us) but it was fun. Even though the water was rough getting there, the water at Trunk Bay wasn't. I'm sure some people went to St John by themselves, but I know my luck, so I didn't want to get left behind even though we had plenty of time. I probably would have only squeezed out another hour or so anyway. We got back to the ship at about 6 and we had dinner at Johnny Rockets. Then we went down to the HS mall. Most of the shops were closes and the ones that were open were pretty crappy. I don't know why we stayed there till 10 or so, kinda pointless.

St Maarten - I read so many good reviews of this place. I haven't been there in over 10 years. The island as a whole is one big trash dump (in my opinion). Front st is nice, the beach in front of that is real nice and I'm sure other beaches are nice. But if you walk 2 blocks off of Front St, it looks like Calcutta. I walked off Front St to catch the bus and I did not feel safe. We took the bus to Marigot and we did not like it there at all. Didn't really see any good shops. There's a little mall there thats very Euro but very expensive too. We got out of there real quick and went to the butterfly farm. My GF likes butterlfys alot and we had a good time. Got a lot of good pics and the tour was really informative. We then went back to Front St where we walked up and down Front St. I bought my GF a pair of Chanel sunglasses at Sunglasses Hut of all places. It was great cuz they matched the prices at Hot Looks and they have a warranty and everything. Real cool.

I also got a bottle of cool water, 4.2oz for $30! I checked it a 100 times to make sure it was real. I can't believe what a deal that was.

San Jaun - I've been here before and I'm not a big fan. Did a historical walking tour I got off trip advisor. It was really cool but it was so hot, we could only do so much of it. We then hit up Coach, Polo and some other stores and my GF got a Coach purse. We then went to Hard Rock and called it a day. El Morro was pretty cool too.

You have to go through customs which really pissed everyone off. They should make San Jaun first so you don't have to do this. Not a big deal though.

Tip - this is a good place to get your alcohol as they way I understand it, nothing bought in San Juan counts towards your customs allowance. As soon as you get off the pier, you will be handed a flier for a liquor store. However, there are no directions. Just walk down to Pier 1 (we were at Pier 3) and go through the check point and the liquor store is in there. The place is a mob scene at the end of the day and the selection isn't as great.

However, the prices seem fixed as I didn't see anyone negotiating with them, its not that type of store. There were some good deals on St Maarteen and they will cut deals with you.

Labadee - I like the fact that Labadee is big and there are a lot of things to do. I didn't do any of the excursions as we just wanted to hang out on the beach. We were on the beach on the other side of the peninsala and it was real rocky. RCCL could easily clean up these beaches but for what ever reason, they leave them real rocky. From what I can see, snorkeling was pointless so I wouldn't waste my time or money unless you here different from someone else. The BBQ lunch was pretty crappy too. The best thing on the island was this free show that was put on by this Haitian dance troupe. They had about a dozen people singing and playing drums, 8 people dancing, 2 gymnists doing flips and other tricks and a guy eating fire. It was easily one of the highlights of my cruise. I've heard the market was pushy, but man, I've never seen anything like it. I didn't even look at most of the stuff. I liked one of the paintings and this guy tried to sell it to me for $120 when I heard they were going for $50. Oddly enough, a lot of people were picking up this stuff hand over fist. The stuff looked mass produced to me as everyone had the same stuff and there was tons of it. If you like it and can get a good price, go for it, but I talked to some people and in my opinion, they over paid for some of this stuff. One guy got 2 big paintings for $100. I got a painting of palm trees about the same size, in a really nice frame for $30 at the mall here, so I wouldn't have paid more than $20 for them. They have a tram to take you around the island. I couldn't make it up Lookout Point as my GF had sandals on and its real rough and steep so I was afraid she would get hurt and it just seemed to go on forever. Dragons Breath was pretty cool as were these Haitian sailboats that sailed around.

Breakfast - there was a big selection, but it never changed. I thought over all it was good. Not bad, just not great. Most of the food was fairly hot. Is it me or do they have at least one crazy person handing out coffee in the morning? On Voyager they had the yoo-hoo coffee guy and now on this cruise, there was this lady that was singing, dancing, etc. Seems too odd to be a conincidence but I'm not on enough RCCL cruises to tell.

Lunch - not that happy with Lunch. I'm a burger guy and they were worse than a school cafeteria.

Dinner - My GF liked dinner for the most part, but she didn't think it was the best. I'm a picky eater like and I'm worse than a 5yo so my opinion here shouldn't matter much, but I do like meat and thought all of it was pretty bad. Half of the time I had the Angus Sirloin on the alternative menus and I didn't like the taste or it.

On the first night, we had a table of 8 but with only 2 other couples. They were both about our ages. One was tough to talk too and the other one pretty much ignored us completely. I couldn't take 9 nights of this so I bitched and Harrry the MD created a whole new table for me. We then had a new waiter, Wendell. He was really good, really tried hard. Mehmet was our head waiter. I never have much use for them, but he at least came around every night instead of just the first and last. Everyone else seemed to really like him. I'm sure if I needed something he would have helped me. My Ast Waiter was Oscar. He was ok, not very talkative.

State room - inside stateroom, the room itself is spacious but the location was terrible. It was right next to a stairwell for the crew and I heard them all night. It was also next too some type of pump for the toilets, so when half the ships flushed the toilet, we heard it. The beds were terrible of course cause they haven't been changed yet. However, I did like being AFT and on the 6th floor as it was a good location to be near everything.

Our SA was Emmanuel. He was ok. I asked for an egg crate and he looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn't believe he never heard of it before. I asked for some extra blankets from housekeeping and then he took them. If I used them the night before, why would you take them? That didn't make much sense so I had to get them back from him. However, when I asked him for extra towels and other stuff, he gave them to me no problem.

Cafe Promenade - pizza was pretty good, as was the water they have there. Best place to go for water.

Labadee shirts - your compass will say you can only get Labadee shirts on the labadee day but you can get them after that at which point most are 2 for 25

CD Alan Brookes - I have no use for cruise directors usually, but he was pretty good. He did this kick thing all the time which I thought was kinda fruity, but he was pretty funny.

Quest - really good. They cut down on the amount of things you need to bring down, probably so people can't cheat. It was more focused on doing things then I've seen in the past. Really, really funny.

L&M show - really funny, but I guess it depends on the people.

Johnny Rockets - food was really, really good. Never had to wait. Well worth the 3.95.

Last two sea days - Weather again wasn't that good. Used the time to wind down. We didn't watch the Karakoe - Idol but caught the last 3 singers before bingo. They were really good. A guy from my town won. He was amazing.

Disembarkation - what a friggin nightmare. We had red luggage tags, 2nd to last. I like to stay on the ship and hang out so I don't have to get up early so I didn't mind. However, I probably would have been on the ship until now if I waited. They didn't call anyone until about 9 or after. And then there was about 20 to 30 mintues between colors. My ride was waiting for almost 2 hours so half way through it I said screw it and left. Of course, like I've seen before, the luggage tags don't really mean anything. Your luggage is there, no one checks. The problem was, only a couple of shuttles were running, so they wouldn't let you off the ship if there were no buses there. This is what created the back up, at least part of it. Tracking down non-citizens who failed to check in didn't help either. Once off the bus, I got right through customs, no problem. However, getting my ride over to the pick up area took about 20 minutes. This was another disaster. They gotta fix this.

Pools - the chair hogs were still out there. They will not charge the towels to your room even though they say they will. I think everyone figured this out real quick. Thus, there were 200 chairs around the pool with towels on them with 5 people in the pool. The pool was cold at first but then it was a nice temp the rest of the time. The solarium pool was too hot and wasn't nice on the hot days.

Nightlife - I really like to listen to some live jazz, especially in a ship that has a Jazz lounge! However, none was to be found. Instead, they had 3 different people playing the piano. That's fine if they are singing, but they weren't, at least not when I was there.

Port talk - what a pile of crap. I want this hour and half of my life back. The discovery shopping guide Melanie is nothing but a saleswoman for the recommended shops. I understand you gotta mention that, but at least talk about other stuff. I'm not sure why I bothered as I did all the research on the net, but I always make it a point to go anyway as I find them helpful. Not only was she a horrible public speaker, but it was just one long commerical. Do not waste your time. They also try to sell you this platnium shopping thing that in my opinion, is just a way to part you with $20 for nothing. However, I didn't get it and didn't get the stuff that you can get with it, so don't take my word for it.

Other things:
-I was previously on the Voyager but that went to Canada, but I didn't really get to do everything due to the cold weather. On this cruise, I really felt the crowds at several times. At the pool where you could not get a chair on deck 11 anywhere and at the Windjammer where I had to wait 15 minutes for a table sometimes and other people resorted to sitting at my table because there was just no other seats. However, unlike my previous cruise, I didn't find the people as rude as last time. I also consider myself a city guy, but half of Staten Island must have been on that cruise. I could have done without that.
-I wouldn't buy any digital cameras on the boat as a lot of people were. We got a Canon Powershot A620 which is only 199.99 on Dell.com right now. This is a 7mp camera that took amazing pics on this cruise. We bought it about 2 weeks before the cruise, where as RCCL was selling 5mb cameras for 199 and up.

Conclusion - This pretty much sums it up. I'd be happy to answer any questions. No, I cannot upload my compasses but I have them so I can look stuff up if you need it. I also didn't go to the casino and if you live in NJ, I'd got to AC as you will get way better odds.

Also, I know there are a million spelling errors but I am typing very fast, I've already been typing for about 40 minutes and today was very tiring.
#2
Northern Lower Michigan
11,745 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Just what to verify that your Capt was Capt Sverre Ryan so I can update the date on my Current Capt thread. Was he visible? or was he a ghost (ie you never heard an announcement from him).
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#3
Lancaster, PA
156 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
I was on the Voyager that went to Canada too -- hopefully this year will be better. I'm not sailing out of Bayonne this time, though. I've decided to try Philly on the Empress for the 7 night - just in case there is a storm and there is time to go around it somehow. I do not want to get rerouted to Canada again.

I'd like to know if you received a 25% future cruise discount certificate from RCCL for the Voyager mishap, and if so, how did you redeem it? Each one of my family members got one, but I booked online and there is only one spot for a coupon code. I want to make sure that each of us, per person not per stateroom, gets the discount. How did you go about redeeming yours, assuming you got one?
#4
NY (Long Island)
57 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by wolfcathorse
Just what to verify that your Capt was Capt Sverre Ryan so I can update the date on my Current Capt thread. Was he visible? or was he a ghost (ie you never heard an announcement from him).
I was on this cruise as well it was Capt. Ryan. I don't remember seeing him at all but he did make announcements almost every day that I can remember.

I agree with disembarkation at Bayonne. I did wait until they called Red and it was about Noon before I had my luggage and at least a half hour before I had it in my car! They need to hire someone to run traffic analysis or just someone with some common sense to direct it!

Other than that I had NO complaints, Great trip.
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#5
Bristol CT
11,053 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by Jef
DISCLAIMER - I'm gonna do a lot of complaining, but I'm mostly nitpicking. I had a great time and it would take a lot to spoil the fun and relaxation that I had. My opinions are just that, my opinions and thus, they are pretty much useless except that they may make you aware of certain things that you can expect and/or compare to others to make an informed decision.
How about telling us about some of the GOOD things that brought you fun and relaxation? instead of all the negatives? surely if you can type for all this time you could throw in a LITTLE of the good stuff?
I was on this cruise and I had a wonderful time; the only real negative was the disembarkation which really was a royal pain.
There was a group called "Beatle Maniacs" in the theatre the night we left San Juan that was a lot of fun to listen to.
The Vojtek Quartet up in Dizzy's Lounge played jazz-type/ballroom type music almost every night after 9 or 10 pm.
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Cindy WGIG#198-F --> "sea" my pictures HERE
Mustard of the Seas Utility Crewmember & Goodwill Ambassador - East Coast

My Cruises: Atlantic (Premier, a/k/a Big Red Boat), E Carib, Apr 93; Adventure (American Family), E Carib, June 94; Explorer of the Seas, E Carib, June 06; Jewel (Mustard) of the Seas, E Carib, Feb 07; Vision of the Seas (NUTZ 2), Mex Riviera, Oct 07; Caribbean Princess, E Carib, May 08; Carnival Ecstasy, W Carib, Sept 08; Serenade of the Seas (Mustard 2/NUTZ 3), Alaska, June 09; Jewel of the Seas, WB Transatlantic, Sept 10; Carnival Miracle, SE Carib, Nov 11; Jewel of the Seas (NUTZ 4), Canada/New England, Oct 12; Carnival Fantasy, Bahamas/Grand Turk, Nov 13; Adventure of the Seas, S Carib, Jan 14; Celebrity Summit, S Carib, Nov 14; Navigator of the Seas, Western Carib, Aug 15; Celebrity Summit, S Carib, Jan 16; Celebrity Silhouette, Transatlantic, Nov 16; Celebrity Infinity, South America, Feb 17
17

“The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea.” -- Isak Dinesen
Illegitimi non carborundum
#6
26 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
I think I did focus on some of the good things, i.e. the show at Labadee, etc and I think some other things are rather obvious, i.e. I went to St John, I think its close to impossible to have a bad time there. All the ports were good, and I enjoyed just relaxing and hanging out, I'm rather bored of all the cruise stuff like belly flop contests and midnight buffets, but thats just me. The Explorer has been written about a million times so I tried to focus on things that are unique to this new cruise and things that I haven't seen written before.

About St Marteen, I suggest taking the water taxi, its worth it. We didn't at first and that is a pretty long walk and it was very hot. The water taxi was much better and takes you to the far side of front st so you could walk the whole thing and take the other water taxi back.

Other than the get your picture with the Captain thing, I didn't see Cap Ryan around but he did make a lot of announcements about the weather, more so than I remember as usual.

About Beatle Maniacs, I am the farthest thing from a Beatle's fan so that was the only thing I didn't go to.

Another point about alcohol, the prices on the ship were higher than just about any other store I saw, so unless they are matching prices, I would use the ship's prices as a benchmark and then get them on SXM or SJ.

Re the Voyager mishap, I have no clue what you are talking about, other than some rude guests and the really cold weather which made using the pool impossible, I thought the Voyager cruise to Canada in June of 2004 was better food and entertainment wise than this cruise.
#7
Lebanon, PA
572 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Jef - Thanks for the review,It was very infomative, Can't wait we are sailing on Sept 8th! We had the same problem with disembarking last Sepember at Cape Liberty, I was hoping they would get it straightened out by now! Do you know if the second formal night was lobster night? Also when was the midnight buffet?? thanks
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#8
Staten Island, NY
2,283 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Didn't have any real problems getting off the Voyager last year. Also, do you have somethinig against people from Staten Island?
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#9
Jersey Shore
175 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by wardnlis
Jef - Thanks for the review,It was very infomative, Can't wait we are sailing on Sept 8th! We had the same problem with disembarking last Sepember at Cape Liberty, I was hoping they would get it straightened out by now! Do you know if the second formal night was lobster night? Also when was the midnight buffet?? thanks
I was on the same cruise and can answer your questions. Yes, the 2nd formal night was lobster which for us was on Friday. There were actually 2 midnight buffets - one was pool side mid-week and the other was the spectacular one in the dining room late in the week with the parade in the Promenade. We had 45 minutes to view the sculptures and then an hour to eat. Hope this helps!
#10
Lebanon, PA
572 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
girlsrulekrj: thanks fot the info, we are trying to decide when to eat at Portofinos! Last year we made reservations assuming lobster night was on the same night as the 2nd formal night, but it turned out formal night was the same night as the Midnight buffet and lobster night was the next night! Oh well, we thought we'd try again this year! Hope you had a great cruise!
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#11
26 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
No problem with people from SI, that was rather tounge in cheek, in fact, I love hanging out in Brooklyn (Bensonhurst). Like I said, the people weren't rude, but a lot of people were complaining about the smallest stuff, ie, one lady complained about how rough the water was on the excursion to St John, she went on about it the whole way there and during the entire ride to Trunk Bay and it was even that rough, just a little bumpy. I guess now that I'm down the sure, I forget how "some" NYers act.
#12
NY
3,614 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Good post, thanks. We will be on this cruise in August. I am hoping the food will be better than Grandeur last year. We are also on deck 6 (we have inside Promenade view rooms in the center of the ship). We actually considered moving to an earlier cruise, but it was just within the 70 day period so RCI wanted to charge us a penalty to let us switch, and we had the Promenade rooms (which we had gotten even though we booked inside guarantee) and didn't want to lose them, so we stayed on the original cruise. Since my kids like the Promenade Cafe, being near that will also be handy.

I can sympathize with your comments about stairs. Last year on Grandeur, we had an inside room on deck 10 that turned out to be below the stairs to the pool area and we heard footsteps and the sliding glass doors above us. I sure hope the soundproof above the suites across the hall was better.

What is the status of Internet access on Explorer? I know they have WiFi in public areas but not in cabins. Is the $100 for all week in-cabin access still available?

Did you or your GF try the chocolate creme brulee for lunch? Last year we tried it one time and it was awful. I've read posts here saying how great it was so either it's better on Explorer or we'll just too picky about our CB.
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#13
NY
3,614 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by wardnlis
girlsrulekrj: thanks for the info, we are trying to decide when to eat at Portofinos! Last year we made reservations assuming lobster night was on the same night as the 2nd formal night, but it turned out formal night was the same night as the Midnight buffet and lobster night was the next night! Oh well, we thought we'd try again this year! Hope you had a great cruise!
I've read in a few posts that the secret is to ask to look at the book of menus when you get to Portofino's, then you can make sure you make a reservation for the "right" night.
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#15
18 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Funny how I complained about disemabarkation and all my posts are gone (?)

I concur with many of the original thoughts of our first poster. If anyone wants me to better describe the negative aspects, just ask. There is plenty to find fault with.

There was many positive things too, but some of the negative problems are definitely worth discussing.

Joe Sixpack
#16
18 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
the shopping/excursion staff member named Melanie was awful. This Jessica Simpson wannabe read from cue cards, suggested the same stuff for every port without telling you which port had the best deals for certain items. No kidding Jessica, Diamonds international is at every stop and will see you the world's best diamonds-BORING. Very inexperienced at public speaking.

Shore excursion information-there was none except the infomercials that ran 24/7.

the $20 VIP stuff was useless unless you are buying a big ticket jewlery purchase-maybe that got you a better purchase price. Otherwise another RCCL money making gimmick. My wife purchased one and many of the stores were sarcastic and rude if you wanted your freebie which in some cases was junk, many stores did have the freebies you were supposed to get, and we could use it onboard ship for discounts in the ships shops. After the first couple of stops, Melanie disappeared except for brief moments where she was seen late at night with her date. We tried to speak to her about our experiences on shore, but to no avail.

I had posts removed complaining about the horrible disembarkation process (not blaiming US Customs either). What a joke....someone is responsible for this fiasco that Jef mentions......gee somone agreed with me.

Shall I continue?

Guess Who?
#17
Staten Island, NY
2,283 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Park your own car at the pier and drive yourself away. Much faster than waiting for someone to pick you up.

Also, having been on a few cruises I would already know that the "shore talks" are mostly repetitive and not really worth it.
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#19
Staten Island, NY
2,283 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Thanks alot Mom. (She's my friend)
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#20
NY
3,614 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by girlsrulekrj
There were actually 2 midnight buffets - one was pool side mid-week and the other was the spectacular one in the dining room late in the week with the parade in the Promenade. !
No chocolate buffet? Grandeur had that.
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