Day 1 - Embarking. We arrived at Cape Liberty around 11:00 a.m., dropped off our luggage and got a close parking space. We were told that we may not receive our luggage for five to ten hours because there were a lot of workers off due to the holiday (July 4th was the next day) and to take anything with us that we may need. There was no line at all to check in. We were escorted to the P/D/D+ waiting area and were told we‘d have priority shuttle over non P/D/D+ passengers. At 12:00 noon the first shuttle arrived and we boarded it, and within minutes we were on the Explorer.
We headed to the Windjammer area, purchased three soda stickers and a 7-bottle wine package and then enjoyed our lunch. After that, we headed to the dining room and confirmed that we had a table for four, as requested. It was now a little after 1:00, so we headed to our cabins. We had 9312 (D1) and 9314 (JS), which are connecting cabins on the hump.
While we were sweating it out at the muster drill (we always end up standing in the sun!), the captain announced that we would not be setting sail until 6:30, instead of 5:00, due to the lack of pier workers which in turn resulted in luggage loading delays. As we had main seating and our luggage hadn’t arrived, we went to dinner in our shorts/t-shirts, as did many others. Our waiter, Joseph from India, and assistant waiter, Torrington from Jamaica, were very pleasant but did not interact with us the way former waitstaff had. I think they were just quieter and more shy than typical cruise ship waitstaff, but they were extremely efficient and always had smiles on their faces.
Due to the late sailing, I was sure we would miss seeing our ship sail under the Verrazano Bridge. After we ordered dessert, we asked our waiter if he minded if we ran up to snap some pictures of the bridge and then come back to eat our dessert. He was fine with it, so that’s what we did. It was great sailing under the bridge. I’m so glad we didn’t miss it.
By the end of dinner, most of our luggage had arrived. DH and the boys (13 and almost 16) went to the welcome aboard show, and I stayed back to unpack. They said that Louis Johnson was very funny. The last piece of luggage arrived at about the same time that they returned from the show. We were all exhausted from our long day, as we had left home at 4:30 a.m.
Day 2 - New London. We started walking to the end of the pier (it’s more of a road), but then a nice man gave us a ride on a golf cart. The people here were so friendly and genuinely happy to have cruise ships visiting. We caught a cab and went to the Mystic Aquarium. We ended up purchasing four of what I think were called See Mystic passes at the aquarium, which gave each person admission to Mystic Aquarium and a free soda there, admission to Mystic Seaport and a free soda there, a free Mystic t-shirt and discounts at some of the Mystic Shopping Village shops and restaurants.
We walked through the aquarium (it is small but nice) and the shopping village (they have some very unique shops) and ate lunch at the Steak Loft. They have a very nice salad bar and delicious clam chowder. We then called a cab to take us from the Steak Loft to Mystic Seaport. We walked through there and then took a cab back to the ship. It was a very warm and sunny day.
I didn’t go to the show, which was Fast Forward, but I think DH and oldest DS went. I probably went to bingo and/or the casino (my usual daily routine).
Day 3 - At sea. It was nice to have a day to relax. We had our meet and mingle and then our roll call slots of fun. There were I think 26 of us that put in $21 each. We didn’t do well until one person hit $1600. We ended up splitting $1700 and each walked away with $66, so we were each $45 ahead. Our roll call people were a really nice group.
Tonight was formal night and the captain’s welcome aboard reception. We got a table outside of the Promenade Café and listened to the music and then to Captain Ryan. Oldest DS and I went to the show, which was The Happenings. The music was a little before my time, but this sailing had a lot of seniors on it and they were loving the show.
Day 4 - Halifax. We booked the Fisherman’s Cove and Peggy’s Cove tour through the cruiseline. It was a five or six-hour tour which was enjoyable. Included in the tour price was a lunch at the restaurant at Peggy’s Cove. Each person had a choice of seafood chowder or pasta with marinara sauce, a roll, and warm gingerbread with your choice of topping. It was a very good meal. The fog was going in and out at Peggy’s Cove, so the visibility was changing often. The boys loved climbing on all of the rocks there.
This was a very nice tour, but I felt badly for the vendors. The stop at Fisherman’s Cove was no more than half an hour, so people didn’t have time to visit many of the shops. At Peggy’s Cove, we didn’t have much time after eating and visiting the lighthouse to really walk around much there either. I would have liked to have had at least another half hour at each place.
It was another warm, sunny day. Once back to the ship, the kids got back on and DH and I walked the boardwalk a little bit. I
We went to the ice show tonight, Spirits of the Seasons, and it was wonderful, as usual. I played Bingo and then called it a night. I was too tired to stay up for the Love & Marriage Game Show, and I knew that they’d be playing it on the TV all week. Today was the C&A Welcome Back party, but I totally forgot about it, so we missed it.
Day 5 - Saint John. This morning the captain announced that we may not be stopping at Saint John due to the fog. About an hour later, it was announced that we would go. We arrived an hour late (12:00 noon instead of 11:00 a.m.), which threw off most of the ship’s tours. It was a pain getting off of the ship because at first they were only letting off people who were booked on early tours so that they could get them on their way.
We got off the ship and walked across the street to Steamer’s Lobster Company and had a delicious lobster lunch. We then took a cab to Dominion Park Beach for a kayaking tour that we had booked independently. However, we kayaked with the ship’s tour. We just paid less! There were 21 of us, most in tandem kayaks, and it was a blast! Go Fundy Events was the tour operator, run by a wonderful woman named Wanda. The tour guides were awesome. We kayaked for about an hour and 15 minutes. We even saw a bald eagle! It was another beautiful, sunny day.
All aboard was at 4:30, as the ship was to leave at 5:00. However, due to the ship getting in late, our tour ran late because it was the second tour of the day, and the first one ran late. We didn’t get back to the ship until like 4:50. Luckily we were traveling with the people on the ship’s tour so the ship would have waited had we run even later.
Tonight’s show was Wild, Cool & Swingin. None of us went. I guess the kayaking wore us out.
Day 6 - Bar Harbor. We booked a tour through the cruiseline which I think was called Best of Acadia and Desert Mountain. It was like a six-hour bus tour which included a delicious lobster lunch at a restaurant. We had to go through immigration today, as we were re-entering the US. Immigration for us was a breeze. It took maybe ten minutes total as we walked through the dining room with our passports and showed them to Customs and Border Protection. Then we went to Studio B to wait for our tour to be called, as Bar Harbor is a tendering port. Our tour was at 9:00, and we were on a tender at 8:45.
It was another very warm and sunny day, and we really enjoyed the tour. It stops at like three different places to let you get out and take pictures and use restroom facilities, plus you get the great lobster lunch. The best site for pictures was Cadillac Mountain.
When our tour was over, we took a tender back to the ship. Had it not been a tendering port, I would have been comfortable with letting the kids get back on the ship while DH and I walked around the shops, as the shops looked really interesting and unique. However, I wasn’t comfortable sending them back on the tender by themselves so we all went back to the ship.
Since I’ve been back, I have read here on the boards that people who were not booked on a ship’s tour in Bar Harbor had one heck of a time getting a tender to get off the ship and that some people weren’t able to get off until the afternoon. We were totally unaware of this. If you book a ship’s tour here, you do not have to get tender tickets and you have priority tenders based on your tour time. My advice would be to definitely book a tour here through the cruiseline.
Tonight’s show was Johnny Thunder, whom I had never heard of. Oldest DS and I went, only to learn that Johnny Thunder was famous for the song Loop De Loo and was once in the group The Drifters. For a 75-year old man, he put on a nice show. He was a little annoying at times, but the older cruisers seemed to really enjoy him.
Day 7 - Portland. Twelve of us from the boards had arranged for a car service (Mermaid Transportation) to transport us in a 14-passenger van to Freeport for a big part of the day. After the correction of a mix-up in van size, we were on our way. The driver was such a nice man, but unfortunately the replacement van had rear air-conditioning problems, and it was another hot day.
It seemed like our whole group enjoyed the day in Freeport and contributed to the economy there! There were some great stores to visit. The four of us had a good lunch at a little Italian restaurant. The van driver stayed all day, so we could go back to the van and stow our packages when they started weighing us down.
Tonight’s show was Scott Record. If you ever get the chance to see him, don’t miss it! I saw him on the Enchantment in April and was thrilled to see that he was on the Explorer with us. He is a very funny, talented man.
Day 8 - Boston. We had purchased e-tickets online from Old Town Trolley Tours and had to get ourselves to the closest stop (stop 16), which was the Westin Hotel. It was probably a ten-minute walk from the pier. There are 17 stops altogether. We rode to stop one and walked around Quincy Market, which is a great place with lots of yummy food choices.
Then we went to the New England Aquarium (very nice) and also saw a 3D Imax movie called Sharks. Then we took a 45-minute harbor tour that we purchased for $7/person from the trolley company. You can get off the harbor tour to see the USS Constitution and wait for the next boat to take you back. Instead, we got back on the trolley at stop 1 and road it all the way back to stop 16. This probably took at least an hour and a half. The drivers are narrating the whole time and, in addition to being extremely knowledgeable, they are a riot! When we went past the Cheers restaurant, he even blasted the “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” theme song! We were tired and hot once we arrived back at the Westin, so we took a cab to the pier.
Tonight was a formal night, and the delicious fisherman’s platter was on the menu. While at dinner, we could see that it was raining. This was the only rain the entire trip (unless it rained at night and I didn’t know it). When dinner was over, we walked up to the pool deck. The rain was already over and we got great pictures of a rainbow that soon became a double rainbow.
Tonight was also the C&A P/D/D+ gathering, which we remembered to go to! Tonight’s show was Invitation to Dance, which we did not attend, nor did we attend the Quest tonight.
Day 9 - At sea. DH and I let the kids sleep in, and we had breakfast in the dining room. Finally, poached eggs and tomato juice -- two things you can’t get in the Windjammer. Today we did mini golf, youngest DS did the rock wall three times, the kids used up their arcade credits, then DH and the kids even played a game of Monopoly in Seven Hearts (I think that’s what it’s called) while I went to jackpot bingo. The jackpot was over $7700, and one lucky lady from Pennsylvania won it! (No, it wasn’t this lady from Pennsylvania.) Some of us from our roll call hit the slots again as a group, but we had no luck this time.
After dinner, we said goodbye to our waitstaff and handed out our envelopes.
DH and oldest DS went to the farewell show tonight while I stayed back to pack. The show featured Charles Peachock, who is an incredible juggler. This was another don’t-miss show. I watched it on TV while I finished packing, and he is amazing. My son bought his DVD, and Mr. Peachock autographed it.
Day 10 - Disembarking. We were docked by 8:00 a.m. We waited in the Palace Theater for our color to be called. We were green, the third color, and were not called until nearly 11:00 a.m. One nice thing that passed the time was the cruise director and the activities director were up on the stage taking questions from people in the audience and handing out RCCL keychains to anyone with a question. I’m sure this was an attempt to keep people from congregating where they shouldn’t. It may have helped some, but I’ve read since I’ve been back that people were where they shouldn’t have been and were most likely causing the delay.
Once called, we exited the ship, caught a shuttle right away, claimed our luggage, walked to our car and were on our way.
Summary - Food was very, very good. We did not visit Portofino or Johnny Rockets, although we have done both in the past. The cruise director, Dave Chapman from Australia, was great! His broadcasted morning shows were a lot of fun. Anna, the activities director, was really good too.
We watched a whale one day from our balcony. It was spouting like every five or ten seconds. It was great to see. DH saw another whale from the pool deck while I had ducked into the restroom. Some people reported seeing dolphins, but we saw none.
The weather every day was very warm (even hot, like mid 80s) and sunny. We wore shorts every day and never wore a jacket or sweatshirt. When at sea up around Halifax and Saint John, we had a lot of fog and could see nothing from our balcony or the upper decks.
Overall, we had a wonderful cruise and couldn’t have asked for better weather. The ship was beautiful and well maintained, and the crew was amazing.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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