Explorer of the Seas, Bermuda 5 days - 5/5/12 review/photos, useful tips & info/links

#1
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Our party of 5 booked 2 "I" oceanview cabins on the Explorer of the Seas that sailed 5/5/2012 - # 2588 and 2602, here is part #1 with self-explanatory photos that help tell our story as we've experienced it (none of us new to cruising & been on various lines over the years) - our MDR waiter, Antonio & his assistant, Stacey and our cabin attendant all worked hard & took good care of us - thank you. (here's the post - as we've mentioned, took me a few days to edit our notes, processed & compressed the photos selected, and put this up)

More to come with few more details, tips & suggestions for new cruisers to RCCL, and observations that I'm sure will result in debates, comments & discussions - regardless, hopefully, it will help someone else to get the most of their Bermuda experiences.

Embarkation/Pier (Cape Liberty, NJ) – it was an easy & smooth ride via Holland Tunnel to NJ Turnpike, Exit 14A on a cool, damp & foggy Saturday morning to CL. We missed the left turn coming from Rt. 440 South & went to next traffic light for a U-turn back north and then turn right – drove another mile into CL. Good signs directing to check-in tent/drop-off with plenty of parking stalls & porters to help with luggage & passengers, drove around the corner (2 left) onto parking area (by Central Parking System - $95 for 5 nights, taxes included) and short 5 minute walk back to check-in area, quick document/passport check before going thru security checkpoint (luggage given to porters were quickly loaded into carts & processed for loading onto ship.) Being C&A members, we're waited under 2 minutes in priority line for next available agent & received our shuttle bus # card, filled out & signed our quick health questionnaire - processed & issued our boarding SeaPass Card. We walked around the corner to have security photo & optional, welcome aboard photo taken, waited less than 5 minutes to go outside for the quick shuttle ride from the pier to the ship. Two gangways were used to board via Deck #1 after a short delay waiting for the buses ahead of us to finish unloading their pax. Entire process took 45 minutes - we rode elevator to deck 11, WJ’s buffet was open for lunch (all other dining venue closed) and cabins not ready until 1:30 p.m. We had to carry our own luggage all over the ship - no provisions for storing/checking them onboard (no free welcome punch/champagne either, only $$ drinks) - feel sorry for those who boarded without checking their over-sized luggage at the pier terminal with the porters.


Onboard, Cabin & Public Area - onboard before 12:30 pm, we're able to find plenty of seating at the buffet & get our food. We did find tables & chairs tightly spaced together, and pax bumping into each other. There’re periodic reminders about vacating the area to open up seats for others to eat. Exploring the ship, we find folks waiting in various lounges & public area, and we eventually walked down the midship stairs after checking out deck 5, 4 & 3 and proceeded to our OV cabin at 1:30 pm. All of our luggage were delivered by 2:30 pm before the mandatory 3:15 pm fire drills and we managed to relax & a power cat-nap.

Our “I” category OV cabins #2588 (also, 2602) have a big, round window & pull-down ceiling beds for up to 4 pax plus a small non-convertible sofa, 22" flat panel HDTV that swivel - refrigerator with mini-bar/snacks plus 4 Evian (1 liter $$) bottled water. Ice is available only upon request (along with the SS ice bucket) but there's no coffee/hot water maker in the cabin – only 3 small glasses in the bathroom (none in the main cabin.) Room Service menu can be ordered using the interactive TV menu's system or by calling using the printed menu in the Guest Directory inside the desk drawer, free except for midnight to 5 am with a $3.95 charge to cover tips & delivery .

Access to our cluster of cabins, opposite the lower level of (Skating) Studio B are only via center/mid ship elevators & stairs as there are no access via the front, same for cabins on deck 3 beware of loud dance music/noise in the late evening that lasted until 1 AM on Deck 3 & 4 (it’s poor design on RCCL’s part.)


Mandatory Fire Drill/Muster Station & Sail away - following a short multi-language announcement, the general alarm sounded & we walked out to our muster station/assembly point, C14 on deck 4 – all guests are required to attend but no longer need to bring their life jacket or wear them. Crew did a roll-call of those missing after checking us in by cabin #, and did a very brief safety demo of how to put on life vest - not much of anything else, and, guests were quickly dismissed to do whatever.

We promptly sailed at 4 pm & reached the VZ Bridge around 4:30 pm - heading out to sea via the lower bay/inlet – passing the Jersey shores as we head out to the Atlantic, 700 nautical miles toward Bermuda. Seas were calm & waves 5 feet or less - perfect sailing weather & no rain in the forecast. From time to time, we could hear & feel the stronger wind outside blowing across the bow of the ship. The onboard TV monitor display did not show as much information vs. NCL, which showed distance traveled as well time/distance to next port or destination. For our return trip, seas were a bit rougher with waves as high as 7.5 to 12 feet, but the big ship handled it easily with minimal motion, and the rocking was great for getting zzzz’s.


Dining & Options - Portofino is the only specialty - Italian dining – offered on the ship (@$20 p/p) plus Johnny Rockets @ $5 p/p cover charge. Windjammer or the buffet also located on Deck 11 is open for breakfast & lunch, closing after 3 or 3:30 pm and reopen at a rather late 6:30 pm for dinner (close at 9 pm.) Pizza, finger sandwiches, fruit cups, cookies & snacks are free at the Promenade Café on deck 5, somewhat hidden behind Ben & Jerry & Starbuck Coffee, with one single employee serving everyone - water/iced tea are self service from the dispensers, with coffee/tea on other side. Breakfast in the cabin can be ordered up to 3 am for delivery between 6:30 am and 10 am except on disembarkation morning.

We ate 2 causal lunch in the MDR located on Deck 3 as level 4 & 5 were closed, and there is a tendency to group/seat guests together in large tables, without asking or giving consideration to pax requesting non-sharing tables, if & when available. Our group of 5 requested our own table but was seated at a table for 8 with 2 other guests when plenty of clean tables in the opened section were available. Deck 5’s MDR with tables with chairs are spaced way too closely together, forcing dining room staff & pax to bump into each other & made worsen when chairs are pushed in more laid back positions just like buffet dining – giving the impressions that they’re squeezing out every available inches of space to pack everyone in.

Formal night was Day 2 (full Sea Day) menu selection was just average but said to be better, thats about it (cant remember what I ordered or ate) Day 3 was arrival at BDA, we enjoyed a late lunch on land in Hamilton for about $70 for 5 people, 17% tips auto-added and returned for a late MTD at 8 PM duck was on the menu, but I ordered the tiger shrimp instead, not exactly the “jumbo” sizes that I expected, just average.

On Lobster night (Day 4,) the serving was one 3 to 4 oz. frozen lobster tail together with 4 small, skinny shrimps (smaller than your typical cocktail shrimp) pretty much tasteless & salty, and would be better-off paired with a ½ sirloin steak or prime rib cuts (which was available that night.)

A whole lobster (about 1.25 lbs) can be ordered in the MDR for an additional charge of $24.95 p/p – as listed in the printed menu.

Dessert in the MDR was probably the best part of the meal, and Stacey, our Asst. Waiter always asked whether we wanted regular/decaf. Coffee or tea. For lunch, the made-to-order salad bar selection is recommended in the MDR on deck 3 only – most pax, regardless of group sizes, are sharing tables as they filled one section at a time.

We had breakfast both at the buffet and the MDR, the latter being more relaxed but with a smaller selection of items available. Smoked salmon is available in both, the mini bagels with cream cheese that they served were a bit burnt and not appeared to be freshly baked. Both the “free” orange and apple juice looked & tasted over-diluted with water as served to us, in small & only half-filled cups so I asked for V8 juice on remaining days. The regular coffee served in all the dining revenue are good, strong & not water-downed – premium cappuccino and espresso can be ordered at extra charge.


Entertainment & Shows, etc. - for embarkation evening, it was a comedy show in the main theater which we skipped as they aren’t of interest to us (comedy again on day #3 and day #5) while there’re music, dancing & karaoke singing in other lounges. The shopping mall or Promenade on deck 5 was busy with “sidewalk” style booths spilling out into the main path, making it difficult to move quickly from one end to the other without bumping into fellow pax. The sidewalk café idea is great, until the mix of folks get stirred up with pax riding around in motorized & bulky scooters and those slow walkers with assisted devices.

Ice Show on Day 2 and Day 5 in Studio B (via Deck 4) were excellent, with tickets distribution in the morning, only 1 member for the cabin/group only needed to pick them up (distributed in the Dining Room on Deck 4 at 9 am, with the popular 3 pm show going much quicker) Two evening Broadway style musical shows with a live band were just okay for us on the nice & big stage, but with fewer cruisers attending on 2nd. evening, its not really family-oriented with some of them leaving with the children during the show. Several of us struggled to stay awake - after we rushed from dinner for better seating - during the performance after a busy day. The singing was good, the dancers’ movement could be better, the changing scenes & sets somehow didn’t flow or transition that well for us – and not the kind/type to keep you on the feet and bring standing ovations again & again disappointed as it just seemed to be missing that extra burst of energy flow. For photography, there is a digital DVD package for $300 with most single photos going for $19.95 and smaller ones at $14.95 each, no general discounts or bundled deals – we did managed to use 2 coupons in our Gold booklets to get 50% off 1 pix for buying 1 at full price.

[part 1 ... completed, to be continued with add'l photos, etc.]
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#2
Carolina
8,719 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Welcome Back! Thanks for providing a candid review so quickly! I'm considering Bermuda next year and your comments will be helpful.
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#3
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Great & thanks, VivaVegas - BTW, we missed Sin City too, darn - those airfares are ouch ! from our East Coast hubs ...

Continuation - Part 2 (info to help plan for breakfast in the statement, ordering room service when seas are rough ... just kidding, LOL) - tons of discussions about the Promenande Cafe on Deck 5 (free) and Johnny Rockets (Deck 12, with a "small" surcharge - but seating is limited at busy/peak time with 3,000+ people sailing)

There is really no midnight buffet, only limited late night finger food up by the pool on Deck 11 (and not really all that great - edible, that is & the bread products or fruits aren't freshest either - to us, YMMV)

After midnight, it's the Cafe for a very limited selection or Room Service with a service charge for somewhat better & expanded choices: ****
Rather than scanning my hard copies & uploading, here are the key info as collected, valid for the moment -


Breakfast Menu - Explorer of the Seas (May 2012)
select a time between 6:30 am and 10:00 am for delivery (in 30 minutes interval) & hang the Order Form outside on the Door Handle by 3:00 AM
Juice & Beverages - Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Coffee, Decaf. Coffee, Tea, Herbal Tea, Milk & Fat-Free Milk.
Country Breakfast - Scrambled Eggs, Scrambled Egg Beaters, Bacon, Sausage, Hash Browns & Baked Tomato (note - Ham is NOT offered.) (Also, no Omelets for BRS)
Light Breakfast - Granola, Corn Flakes, Special K, Raisin Bran, or Fruit Plate. Whole Fruit Selection - Apple, Banana or Orange.
Yogurts - Plain or Fruit.
Bakery - Wheat Toast, White Toast, Assorted Baked Pastries. Assorted Jams, Butter, or Margarine. (No toasted bagel offered – asked for it if ordering over the telephone)

Room Service Menu (partial/incomplete list)
(Entree sized) Caesar Salad or Med. Chicken Salad, Fruit Plate.
Steak Sandwich or Turkey & Swiss Cheese Panini. Beef Burger or Breaded Flounder Fillet.
Fried Honey Chicken, Pepperoni or regular Pizza, Spinach & Artichoke Dips.
Coffee/Decaf. Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Milk, Lo-Fat Milk, Iced or Herbal Tea.
Chocolate Pear Tart, Raspberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Cookies or Cookies of the Day (3 pc.)

Concierge Lounge (Deck 9) is open only to Pinnacle Club , Diamond Plus & Grand Suite/above cruisers for continental breakfast & snacks only

Portofino or fine Italian dining is on Deck 11, reservations are required with $20 p/p charge – ages 13 and up only. There is No Chops Grille on the EOS.


In addition to iced water & unsweetened ice tea, lemonande is also available - just ask your server if you do not see it or offered (of course, they rather see you take the "freshly squeezed orange juice" or premium Evian bottled water (around $9 for a 1 liter bottle as placed in the stateroom, yelp !!) Our Crystal Light powdered tea pre-mix did wonders for us ...


Continuation - part 3 (more later in the day) - more on Bermuda, getting around & comments/feedback on the EOS, Disembarkation info, plus useful links & contact info in case of emergencies while sailing & for folks back at home.


**** Just a personal note: next time sailing RCCL, we might suggest bring onboard a cup or two of instant Walmart cup-a-noodle soup specials, just add hot water, it's warm & quick at 2 AM - seriously.
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#5
New Jersey
3,308 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
I'm enjoying your review. We sail late september, haven't been on EOS in about 8 years, we do sail to Bermuda each fall though. Looking forward to cruising RCCL this time.
I was amazed to see hot foods listed for the room service breakfasts. Thats great. We're really not breakfast eaters but maybe this time we'll enjoy it on the balcony.
I have to touch on rough seas. We were on NCL's Dawn about 5-6 years ago and encountered real rough seas. Almost 30 foot seas for a good solid day and a half from NYC to Bermuda. Got caught between 2 storms. That was rough seas. Luckily for me I don't get motion sickness but DH took some bonine along with the sea bands and was fine. The ships hallways were empty and all decks off limits, including your balcony. Barf bags were visable everywhere on the ship, especially hanging at all elevators. That was the only time we hit anything like that. Didn't deter us either, as I said, we go there every year.
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#6
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by family cruisers
We sail late september, haven't been on EOS in about 8 years, we do sail to Bermuda each fall though ... Looking forward to cruising RCCL this time. Thats great. We're really not breakfast eaters but maybe this time we'll enjoy it on the balcony ... on NCL's Dawn about 5-6 years ago and encountered ... Almost 30 foot seas for a good solid day and a half from NYC to Bermuda. Got caught between 2 storms. That was rough ... Didn't deter us either, as I said, we go there every year.
Ha ha, we can all laughed about those rough ones - we've been on the Dawn twice, rough seas in the Bahama waters with her tonnage are nothing compared to our previous sailings on the Crown (you must've forgotten about them already) - DW got hit with full motion sickness sailing to BDA back in 2006 - there was a line for Bonine up at Reception - too late for its effect to kick in to help as she only ate half of her meal before we went back to our cabin. I could've sworn that we slept at an "angle" all night with the Crown bouncing up & down - seas at 12 to 15 ft. from the first evening on, lasting almost the next full sea day before things improved. Cabin attendant joked with us when we finally "emerged" that the dining room was half empty & room service was running late & overwhelmed - saltine crackers & ginger ale were the preferred meal, LOL.

We've enjoyed breakfast on Dawn's balcony last year too - it's going to be great to sit outside & enjoy a nice, full breakfast in robes. Dream for smooth saiiing & no sea legs wishing for solid land. We are thinking of going on the Gem next this late Fall too ...

Ok, I'm about to post part 3 of our review, injecting a few humor but also 1st. hand witnessed choking incident of another cruiser while having our Italian lunch in Hamilton that could've been much worst - thanks to the quick action of an off-duty NCL crew member eating nearby & saving their day

It was refreshing to revisit BDA after 5 years, Front Street wasn't as busy as before b/c it's now mostly mega cruise ships visiting Dockyard instead, BDA is making history in having the most ships docking there in 2012 - it's good for their tourism, we loved this place too - it's tranquil, safe & easy to get around on our own.

Think you will enjoy the rest of our review just as I've learned more from others before we went ... (only if I had knew about CC sooner)
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#7
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Important & Useful Telephone Numbers – print it and/or save it (cut-n-paste) as plain text to your mobile phone
(please reconfirm with “Cruise Compass” for updates/changes upon embarkation)

RCCI’s Miami HQ 1-305-539-600
EOS’s Ship phone # 1-888-724-7447 (be sure those calling you from home have your assigned cabin #)
Bermuda Police 441-295-0011 (Central Station) or 911 for police, fire & medical help
King Edward Memorial Hospital – Emergency Dept. 441-239-2009
RCCL’s Port Agent in Bermuda Joseph Sinas 441-296-978 or Kris Garcia 441-337-8283
U.S. Consulate General - Bermuda 441-295-1342
U.S. Dept. of State – Overseas Citizens Services 24/7/365 1-888-407-4747 or 1-202-501-4444
U.S. Coast Guard, NY Command Center 1-718-354-435


Communications & TV Channels on the Ship & on King's Wharf/Hamilton, Bermuda -

EOS has WiFi coverage (paid bundled minutes plan w. limited discounts – look for coupon specials in your RCCL Value Booklet ) on the ship, the Business Center on deck 6, library for quiet reading on deck 7 and internet café on deck 8 – all of them overlooking the impressive atrium lobby below, behind the mid-ship elevators (MDR.) Broadband access (consider it “fast” dial-up speed only – 3 attempts to log into AOL to check email failed while at sea) was very slow at GPRS, or (E)dge or 2G speed over satellite connection with narrow bandwidth & high latency - it worked in public area as well as our oceanview cabins. Reception or signal could drop without notice or freeze due to poor coverage sailing in the middle of the Atlantic.

Our mix of CDMA (Verizonwireless 3G,) Sprint (PCS/Nextel,) AT&T and T-Mobile (GSM North America) and China Mobile CC (GSM Asia) cellular devices all worked onboard, using cruise ship's satellite tower to roam - billable rates are set by one's home carrier and charged to one's own mobile number by RCCL. King's Wharf has designated & marked WiFi zones at $3 for 60 minutes of access, authorization codes or coupons are available for purchase at the Visitors Information Center Booth on the Pier (where bus/ferry tokens and day passes are sold) – still rather slow but better than near dial-up speed on the ship itself. Bermuda is on Atlantic Time Zone and pax are reminded to set clock ahead by 1 hour.

Our HTC Incredible 2 (CDMA/global) Android smartphone was unlocked and worked on the island’s GSM/UMTS radio, and T-Mobile's prepaid sim, like the Vodafone SIM (in unlocked quadband LG flip phone) equally worked nicely – on DigiCel’s 2G & 3G network. Smartphone & iphone users are advised to check their coverage and turn off data access on a roaming basis to avoid high charges from one’s home carrier.

EOS’s TV guide online listed many channels, but while at sea – it showed “no signal/poor satellite reception” and thus a black or blank screen. Strangely enough, ESPN, continuous Fox News (all political or related) and a CBS station were pretty much all we could watch for 5 nights – plus the cartoon & movie reruns for what’s being shown on the ship. There was no CNN, MSNBC or BBC news channel at all and not even Weather Channel to help plan ahead – RCCL get a failing grade for this. For a short cruise, most cruisers can manage as I generally check the short & intermediate weather forecast prior to leaving home and plan what/how to pack our luggage carefully; KISS and make it light – especially when it involved flying as we hate paying extra/excess fees. Personally, I would NOT be happy, for a 7 or 9 days plus cruise, to be missing my “dose” of current news & weather forecasts for days at a time, let alone for the duration of the cruise onboard – YMMV. (Note - local newspaper published in English can be picked up in Hamilton … )


King’s Wharf (Dockyard) – Bermuda

Finally, we see land … EOS approached the eastern portion of the island (St. George) around 6 am (pre-dawn hours/just before sunrise) for a 7 am docking as it slowly head toward King’s Wharf – good views of the colorful homes, houses & other landmarks from our cabin - starboard (left) side of the ship. We enjoyed a leisure breakfast by the window, portside in the MDR (only deck 3 is open for food) watching the ship being tied up at the pier & cleared by local officials. It joined the NCL Dawn at the pier that arrived a day earlier. Shortly after 8 am local time, it was announced that passengers are permitted to go ashore – with priorities for those on RCCL-sponsored tours & excursions – and the crowd began to walk downstairs or wait for overcrowded elevators to rush off the ship to the pink beaches, hop onto the buses marked “special” as chartered tours, or go water jet skiing, etc. We headed back to our already cleaned staterooms for a short rest before taking our ID’s and wallets to go on “solid land” (those of us that’ve sailed this voyage in rough seas will appreciate this – it’s a strange sensation that take getting used to as nothing below the feet is moving again & you don’t feel the need to grab the handle bars in the hallway …)

Bermuda laws do not allow any fruits or vegetables to be taken off the ship, water & other snacks including sandwiches of cold cuts & cheese are okay – not all passengers were checked or asked if they’re taking anything off the ship nor SeaPass/ID’s or passports checked. Words of Caution – in Bermuda, look left & then right before crossing the street, especially in Hamilton – some interactions are controlled by traffic lights, but outside city center, there aren’t any. They drive on the left side of the street, look carefully & checked both directions before crossing to avoid getting into an accident. For Americans, “everything” is coming in the “wrong” direction at you.

Out on the pier, turn right for visitors’ info, maps & printed guides to tourist sites - freely available. The Visitor Info Booth beyond the gift stand sells the unlimited Day Pass for buses & ferries ($12 for 1 day or $20 for 2 days) – printed bus & ferry schedules are given, along with a mini Bermuda guide. Passing the moped/scooter rental stand & lines of waiting taxi, the ferry terminal ahead is about a 5 minutes’ walk – with posted signs & lines for Hamilton and St. George. The bus stop for the 1 hour trip to Hamilton is also there – if there is a long line of folks waiting, take the SeaExpress ferry to town. The Clocktower Mall with small shops & restaurants is another 5 minutes away, a good place to explore on Day 2.


Getting Around – Dockyard/King’s Wharf, Hamilton (central city) and historic St. George (eastern end)

SeaExpress Ferry Schedule - 2012 http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt/g...2012__web_.pdf

Bermuda Bus Schedule - 2012
http://www.bermudadirectory.com/PDF's/PTB%20Routes.pdf

This is our 3rd. planned Bermuda cruise and 1st. with RCCL so we’re prepared, our last trip was 2007 that docked overnight at St. George and the next 2 days in Hamilton, right alongside Front Street – so it was very easy to get around everywhere on our own. With a 5 day cruise and day and half only docking at King’s Wharf or Dockyard, a bit of good logistical planning is important to get the most of the visit – except that one cannot predict or manage what IF mother nature decided to shower or rain on your stay. Bring & wear comfortable walking shoes as there are hills around to walk up & down to – a foldaway light windbreaker or small umbrella is good to pack along.

With its rich Great Britain culture, history & tradition – the island’s 61,000 residents are very friendly, helpful and courteous – yielding their own seats on the bus to the elderly & even to school-aged children (on the USA mainland – wishful thinking, keep dreaming , LOL) It goes a long way to say Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening to the driver as one board the bus – and they are always happy to help the “lost” & “wandering around” tourist with maps & guides in tow, announcing your requested stops for a proper transfer to another bus line (when needed) or to wait for you to get to the front of the bus to get off for the Horseshoe Bay, etc. etc. – and, a simple thank you to the driver as one exit has been greeted with a friendly smile.

We used exact change in cash for our 2 Day Transportation Passes, good for unlimited travel/transfer for the buses & ferries on this 21 miles long chain of islands. We took the 11:15 am ferry from Dockyard, which was about 10 minutes late arriving, for a scenic 45 minutes ride to St. George. This historic town has many photo ops, checking out the stores, restaurants & small shops, the church & other places (the Wong’s Chinese Take-Out (only) Restaurant that we saw 6 years ago is still there) Ferry services from St. George to Hamilton is looped via Dockyard and it is limited in nature, so the best & fastest way to go to the middle of the island is to take the air-conditioned bus. We took the #10 bus (1 of the 3 bus route to Hamilton) & the scenic ride (sit on the right side for views of the beaches) was quicker than the scheduled 60 minutes, passing the BDA airport terminal on our way to the Central Bus Terminal on Washington Street - next to City Hall by mid-afternoon.

We checked out the series of inter-connecting indoor malls nearby with shops and menus for some of the popular restaurants – voted against a salad bar lunch charging $12 per pound – and opted to go Italian instead in the alley near Windsor Place (very glad that we skipped Portofino onboard – besides, we got the best restaurants on Mulberry Street in N.Y.’s Little Italy) – our tab for 5 came to only $71 including 17% tips added to the bill, not bad on “smart” ordering as we sticked to water, no sodas or wine, etc. The ingredients were fresh, tasty & well prepared, piping hot when served to us (we collectively concluded that the best we can expect with RCCL is “warm” food) and in generous portions for a great lunch – getting our food orders out from this land kitchen was a bit slower than what we’ve expected – but we’re already used to EOS’s snail pace in the MDR … LOL.

While enjoying our meals, one of the 4 “mature” cruisers dining at the table behind us somehow managed to choke on her food & experienced difficulty breathing, with another screaming for help as we turned around – the restaurant waiter & other staff just seemed to froze, not knowing what to do next. As I was eating myself & didn’t get the chance to get up & help, ready to do the abdominal thrust – two (apparently off-duty & on shore break) young NCL crew members dining nearby jumped up and one of them performed the famous Heimlich maneuver, 2 or 3 thrust later – it dislodged whatever & she could once again breathe, calming down after taking sips of water – and, resumed their meal. By now, the restaurant manager came over also to the relief of everyone else – just to make sure everything was okay – the manager thanked the NCL crewmember on leave for his help & gave him a complimentary glass of wine too, and, we all continued with our lunch & laughter. Reflecting on this incident that we witnessed firsthand, I’m thinking of writing a short note to NCL HQ in Miami to let them know that 2 of their off-duty crew did a minor miracle even while they were away from the NCL Dawn – and they should be proud of it. It turned out that those 4 cruisers were on the EOS as we saw them that evening in the MDR.

After our late lunch, we did more souvenir shopping in the area and the ladies went inside the LV store to check things out (returned on next day & happily ”charged” it, LOL) – stocked up on some soda & bottled water (which turned out to sourced from Whitestone, NY – ha ha !!) along with the keychains & magnets for the refrigerator. We just missed the ferry for Dockyard so we did our uphill exercise to the bus depot & caught the #7 bus back to the ship – and, passed the local hospital along the way (over the years, a few unlucky pax had their stay extended or diverted here & cruise plan changed …)

Took us about an hour to get back to Dockyard & it was photo time for everyone – before we head up the Gangway – showered & changed for more smart casual clothing before checking in with MDR on deck 5 for our 8 pm MYT reservation. Scheduled for the one showing for all guest in the Palace Theatre at 7:45 pm was “The Action Packed Comedy of Rick Novel” & “The Love & Marriage Game Show” at 10:30 pm. We finished our dinner around 9:30 pm and headed back to our cabins – iPads came out and everyone slept well that night.

On Day 4 – we decided to simply sleep late & take it easy and did breakfast in Windjammer around 9’ish, looked like half of the folks had gone ashore already, and plenty of beach chairs on deck 11 by the pool and up on deck 12 as well (tips – go to the AFT or rear of the ship, where there are fewer sun worshippers doing the red “lobster” bake (just kidding – sunbathing, I mean) & even the hot tub was empty of people. After wondering around Dockyard, we took the bus to Hamilton with the 1st. stop at the LV Store on Front Street (it seemed a number of stores that we visited back in 2007 are gone but others remained, we also checked out timepieces at the official Rolex dealer) and more shopping for gifts done … Mindful of our remaining time in Bermuda & time for all abroad, we headed down to the ferry terminal, passing the HSBC building on the waterfront, and lined up along with several hundred tourists, some rushing back to the NCL Dawn scheduled to departure 30 minutes later than us – SeaExpress used one of its larger ferry that managed to get everyone onboard for the quick 20 minutes ride across the waterway to Dockyard – we could easily see some of the luxury yachts docked in front of their of luxury homes along the way (there must be a few thousand yachts of all shapes & sizes in the protected inlets of Bermuda)


Final Sea Days, Specials & Sales on the EOS, and Disembarkation – all abroad for the return is 4:00 pm on Day 4 for the 5 pm sailing from King’s Wharf - our departure was delayed by about 15 minutes as one cruiser had apparently failed to return but RCCL still waited for her, as announced by the ship’s Captain over the PA as everything seemed ready to go in the last hour. It was about 10 minutes passed official departure time or 5:10 pm, we saw a “young” lady via our port window running on the pier back toward the ship with a shopping bag, who then ran up the gangway shortly thereafter – good news, nobody being left behind. Soon, we’re on our way – the NCL Dawn to follow us out toward open water. I’m still wondering if she took a late ferry or bus, or an expensive taxi ride to rush back or risk being left behind in BDA.

There’re no general BOGO deals, coupon specials onboard the EOS except for duty-free items at restricted quantities which are to be declared to CBP – we looked thru our Ultimate Value Booklet “Gold” for things that we truly can use – a Beverage Discount, buy any wine/beer or soda by the glass & get a 2nd. One free, 25% discount on any premium brand coffee beverage (Starbucks,) 10% off on purchase of $25 or more on RC branded logo products, or the buy 1 regular color photo and get a 2nd. one at 50% off. Our translation - it’s a good marketing gimmick to get you to spend more money, easily charged to the SP account.

On the last full Sea Day (#5,) if you wanted to check out photos taken by RC’s photographers, I suggest doing it early enough in the day to avoid the crowd – it’s well organized and easy to find yours since they used up a lot of space on Deck 4 for displaying all those memorable moments. The 8” by 10” photo prints are generally $19.95 each and the smaller gangway photos are $14.95 each – RC would sell more if they create more discounted bundles & combo plans for all pax, and offer more generous discounts – I believe …

To sign-up for Express Walk-off program to carry all the luggage off the ship without assistance once cleared by CBP back at Cape Liberty, one must signed up for limited space by Day 3 – and to receive special tags & instructions. Otherwise, “regular” Green Tags for disembarkation by numbered groups were distributed to all the cabins by Day 4 – along with U.S. Customs Declaration Form and related information for that final morning onboard. Luggage must be placed outside for pier delivery no later than 11 pm on the last evening. (Our Tags were #2 – most Deck 2 cabins got #54 for a 10:00 am + departure) By the afternoon, we’ve completed the Customer Satisfaction Surveys & dropped it off in the “lobby” designated boxes and handled out the prepaid tips in the provided envelopes to the crew by dinner time – we’ve actually tipped extra already on Day 2 of our cruise to show our appreciation of their work & dedication (instead of waiting until the final day.)

We also "cashed" in our earned points at Casino Royale & used up our free coupons for drinks, valid only in the casino & took them back to our cabins to enjoy.

EOS does not participate in RCCL’s Luggage Valet program for ships at Cape Liberty (known as Bags Program for NCL or by other names with other cruise lines) – purchased onboard for an optional fee, to transfer luggage directly to the local airports for same day flights on a participating airline, even when not part of the cruise & fly package or doing the optional airport transfer.


Disembarkation ( morning of Day #6: it’s over) – the Jersey shorelines slowly & quietly came into view thru our porthole windows at the predawn hours, starboard side as we picked up our home cellular signals again (news/weather updating, emails/SMS/VM getting refreshed again once we powered on the devices … yes, good) sailing toward the VZ Bridge, passing it around 6:30 pm en route to homeport at Cape Liberty – docking almost right on time around 7 am. By then, we’re seated in the MDR enjoying one last full breakfast services & said our final good-bye (again) to our favorite food service team – before going back to our cabins to finish packing our belongings & re-check the now empty mini-safe, etc. Express Walkoff was announced before 8 am for those who needed to get going real early (heck, we are in no hurry to get off the ship) and preferred groups were then called, our low Green Tag number (#2) meant that we’re good to go by 8:30 am – there was a short line toward the gangway, but very manageable & we’re on “solid” land in a few minutes & boarded the shuttle to the terminal building. Higher number Green Tag luggage were already lined up inside the luggage area neatly as we quickly found ours, and proceeded to the CBP checkpoint – form & passport/ID’s in hand for a warm “Welcome Home” smile by the officer. We walked outside, turn left toward the parking lot and in our cars before 9 am – thus, catching the tail ends of the morning NY in-bound rush-hour commuting traffic on Rt. 440 as we head toward the Holland Tunnel. We inched forward up on the NJTP Extension in bumper to bumper traffic for 20+ minutes before hitting local streets again, make a quick stop for filling the gas tank with cheaper NJ gasoline, before going under the Hudson River into the Big Apple – and, finally pulled into our own driveway before 11 am.

Oh, no – it’s hard to believed, our 5 nights cruise is over before we knew it – now, someone else got to make the beds tonight, figure out what to do for lunch & dinner, and deal with that pile of dirty clothes. Honey, let’s start thinking about when we are going to cruise again – huh, a bunch of emails about cruise sales & deals …
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#8
3,752 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Thank you for your detailed report!! We will be sailing on the ExOS in Sept for the first time! Being in NJ an easy port to sail from! We have sailed from Manhattan as well as Brooklyn on Princess so this will be closer and less tolls! I am looking forward to the cruise since we visited Bermuda last year in fact I think it might even have been today's date on a return from the Eastern Caribbean cruise. My husband loved Bermuda so I booked a 7 night in Sept as a surprise birthday gift! Final pmt is due a few days prior to the bday so I will tell him then just in case he might not want to go! HaHa Good price, C&A coupon as well as an OBC when I transfer to Costco!
#10
New Jersey
3,308 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
We LOVED the crown, sailed her twice to Bermuda, thats when we had to try the Dawn.
Your cracking me up already talking about the "choking" incident. We had a funny choking experience on the Crown. A big family sitting together in the buffet for breakfast. Not one person talked to one another, just kept eating, when all of a sudden the woman in the group started choking. Everyone else was looking, but not one person in their family did. Whats funnier is she was okay apparantly, she kept putting food in her mouth in between chokes. Thats when we started laughing amongst ourselves.
You see everything on a cruise, don't you? LOL
Originally posted by mking8288
Ha ha, we can all laughed about those rough ones - we've been on the Dawn twice, rough seas in the Bahama waters with her tonnage are nothing compared to our previous sailings on the Crown (you must've forgotten about them already) - DW got hit with full motion sickness sailing to BDA back in 2006 - there was a line for Bonine up at Reception - too late for its effect to kick in to help as she only ate half of her meal before we went back to our cabin. I could've sworn that we slept at an "angle" all night with the Crown bouncing up & down - seas at 12 to 15 ft. from the first evening on, lasting almost the next full sea day before things improved. Cabin attendant joked with us when we finally "emerged" that the dining room was half empty & room service was running late & overwhelmed - saltine crackers & ginger ale were the preferred meal, LOL.

We've enjoyed breakfast on Dawn's balcony last year too - it's going to be great to sit outside & enjoy a nice, full breakfast in robes. Dream for smooth saiiing & no sea legs wishing for solid land. We are thinking of going on the Gem next this late Fall too ...

Ok, I'm about to post part 3 of our review, injecting a few humor but also 1st. hand witnessed choking incident of another cruiser while having our Italian lunch in Hamilton that could've been much worst - thanks to the quick action of an off-duty NCL crew member eating nearby & saving their day

It was refreshing to revisit BDA after 5 years, Front Street wasn't as busy as before b/c it's now mostly mega cruise ships visiting Dockyard instead, BDA is making history in having the most ships docking there in 2012 - it's good for their tourism, we loved this place too - it's tranquil, safe & easy to get around on our own.

Think you will enjoy the rest of our review just as I've learned more from others before we went ... (only if I had knew about CC sooner)
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Celebrity Summit June 2014 to Bermuda
RUBY PRINCESS March 17th 2013 to: Princess Cays, St.Thomas, St.Maarten & Grand Turks & Caicos.
NCL Gem October 2011 NYC to Bermuda - Nice cruise -
Carnival Pride Nov. 2010 Baltimore MD ~ Port Canaveral Fl. , Nassau & Freeport Bahamas. Another awesome cruise onboard this ship ! Still Best MDR !
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#11
New Jersey
3,308 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Great review! You hit on every topic possible.
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Celebrity Summit June 2014 to Bermuda
RUBY PRINCESS March 17th 2013 to: Princess Cays, St.Thomas, St.Maarten & Grand Turks & Caicos.
NCL Gem October 2011 NYC to Bermuda - Nice cruise -
Carnival Pride Nov. 2010 Baltimore MD ~ Port Canaveral Fl. , Nassau & Freeport Bahamas. Another awesome cruise onboard this ship ! Still Best MDR !
Holland America Veendam ~ NYC to Bermuda~ Aug. 28th 2010 Great Trip ~ Great Ship ~ Best Staff ! Invited by Captain Rik to the Bridge upon sailing into Bermuda and on the way back to NYC at sunrise . Unforgettable .
Carnival Pride November 1-8th 2009 Baltimore MD. to Port Canaveral, Fl. Nassau & Freeport Bahamas.
Awesome ship !!! Best MDR ! Port of Baltimore is super organized !
Norwegian Dawn NYC - BERMUDA
October 19th - 26th 2008
Best Specialty restaurants !
Norwegian Crown 10/07 NYC ~ Bermuda
Still love this Ship !
Norwegian Crown 10/06 NYC ~ Bermuda
Great little Ship !
RCCL Explorer of the Seas July 2005
Miami to San Juan, St.Thomas, St.Maarten, Nassau Bahamas . Great cruise ~ BIG Ship !
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#13
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by bday in bermuda
Very Nice review....My sister and I were on the same cruise....similiar experience...will post more later!
Thanks, overall speaking - we made the best of each & every cruise that we sailed on - crossing part of Atlantic each time is an adventure against the odds for rough seas, huge waves & storms - and we dodged the showers & left the clouds & fogs behind when we pulled away from Cape Liberty. Please join & share - loved to read about your posting for this cruise.

Curious as 5 of us have been discussing about this particular cruise, the ship & the crew - even this past Sunday when we met on Mother's Day for brunch on land - would LOVED to get your thoughts & feedback to validate ours, and to appreciate someone else's perspective - I'm about to post my final piece of the multi-part review (that's a bit more editorial & subjective , and we respect differences in opinion - agree to disagree, so to speak)

Pinging the internet & filtering our email in-boxes to zoom in for our next cruise, most likely later this Fall ...


(reading about Live Post by "Radio" that's just returning to Baltimore homeport this morning from Bermuda, great pictures for places to visit & things to do ... well worth the time to check it out here on CC)
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#14
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
(last part of multi-segment review, compiled from various notes taken)

EOS: our impressions, comments, observations on what we noticed– (this section is more subjective & more discussion-oriented as this is more of a matter of opinions, YMMV)

Haven’t been on RCCL since 2004 so first impressions upon boarding do matter … at least a little. EOS security officers & crew at the gangways were among the first uniformed crew members to say hello in welcoming us, cool – (no fruit punch or champagne toast) but, we feel safe – at least. Having done our homework, we knew better to not go anywhere else & headed for the next available to the WJ Café on Deck 11 – acting like experienced C&A members, we paused at the automated hand sanitizers, unmanned, and after a quick scanning of our surroundings – look for a table for 5 of us as nobody wanted to line up for buffet food with our carry-ons. Looking back, we haven’t seen any senior officers in uniform yet, not even someone looking managerial or supervisory at strategic locations down on Deck 1 or up on Deck 11 – ooookay, but things were running nicely in cruise control mode – besides, we smell food & are hungry. As a matter of fact, the next RCCL crew member that said hello to us was all about the “welcome abroad drink special for today” – no thanks & it’s NOT free (I’m holding on to my SeaPass, no swiping.) Hmmm, quickly filled my plate & make my way back to the table & everyone rejoined – took a picture of the food being served as taken for memory’s sake (nothing to get overly excited, passed on the chicken noodle soup – I reminded everyone to eat lightly as our dinner is “early” at 5:45 pm.

A mega ship with only WJ opened for lunch – doesn’t take much to reach full capacity & late arrivals couldn’t get in, let alone find a clean table & empty chairs (“luggage” & “bag” hogs) to eat … (not sure if it’s sold out, I don’t believe so.) Time to explore & figure out where everything else are situated, before the mandatory drill, as this is “home” base for next 5 days. We worked our way down to reception & main deck (level 5) with the promenade staterooms – cool – and walked passed all the auction art work lining up all over deck, it almost covered Casino Royale’s entrance. Hmmm, still haven’t seen any uniformed officers & “ranking” crew members in white welcoming & saying hello to arriving guests at this point (okay, everyone is busy on the bridge & pre-occupied and/or they are at the VIP arrival reception for Grand Suite + guests …)

Wondering around , Deck 2 and 3’s Fwd/Mid – plus Staterooms # 2588 and # 2602 : we continue to explore on our own, peek into the lounges, the MDR, Palace Theater, Studio B, etc. before realizing that it’s already 1:30 pm and that our statement should be clean & ready (no PA announcements heard yet.) We went down the FWD/front stairs to Deck 2 to find passage - without realizing that we actually transited thru a “crew only area” that was apparently open – and reached our cabins midship (learn later on there is only one way to get downstairs – via midship elevators or stairs …) Oh, well – we’ve done it (already) – unlocking our statements to go inside – the hallway was virtually empty, nobody around in this “zone” at all – nice & quiet, hmmm & only a few luggages delivered down the corridor.

We opted for the lower deck, mid-ship for stability and minimal motion in case of rough seas & huge waves, DW has survived 2 earlier crossing on the 40,000 tonnage classes – LOL but others haven’t – our travel agent helped us booked these best available cabins only a few months ago. As is, our time would NOT be spend on a balcony or inside the staterooms, not even for morning breakfast – we’re out & about especially when docked – so our game plan & choices worked out and further blessed with calm seas (except SIL got mild motion sickness that I took care of easily, and she hasn’t slept that well in a while, 14+ hours & without eating anything … LOL)

Our “I” cabins #2588 and 2602, starboard side did not have so-called “picture” window - our round, porthole windows were oversized, with 3 layers of curtains to filter/control the amount of natural lights coming thru when it’s bright or sunny outside. We could still hear the waves “hitting” the steel hulls when it was windy with the ship cruising at 18+ knots. General wear & tear for the beddings, cabinets & furnishings are about average/typical for a ship of this age – the crew has managed to keep it clean & in working order. The painted upper Pullman bed’s safety railings was showing major wear (a fresh paint coating would be nice, or switch to a hand stainless rail.) The hand-held & adjustable shower has excellent water pressure and there is a retractable nylon laundry cord that on top. The bathroom facuet, however, has very low & slow water flow – probably by design, unless the threaded screen filter is clogged with particles & hasn’t been checked or serviced in a while. A new toilet seat set would go a long way as it’s better days are over with. The hanging closet is very generous in size, with at least 20+ hangers for full size dresses & long gowns & winter coats, plus about 5 tiers of shelf spacing for plenty of storage – after unpacking, we still managed to put two unpacked 22” carry-on and one 25” suitcase inside. The mirrored desk/dresser has 3+1 sliding drawers on each side, plenty of room for underwears, t-shirts, socks – with 1 of the smaller drawer “hiding” the in-room 220 volts hair dryer (I used the other one for electronics, gadgets & loose items.) The dorm-sized refrigerator cube functioned as in-room mini-bar - items like soda, chips & beer are inventorized daily and charged as taken/consumed – plus 4 bottles of Evian spring water (1 liter sized – the net charge for each Evian is almost $9.00 USD … ouch!) We asked our cabin attendant to empty out the refrigerator upon embarkation but she stated she can’t do it as that’s bar services – so we reluctantly left things inside – its interior temperature seemed cold enough (it does not have a micro-freezer section at all.) This would’ve been good for keeping our own bottled water, juice & soda, as well as single-serving milk available in WJ each morning. Ice bucket and ice are available upon request, as they are otherwise not provided in the statement – ours were refilled daily by our attendant. Lastly, there are no drip-coffee/hot water maker or kettle in the statement and per RCCL policy, personal ones cannot be taken onboard either. Fortunately, our plan B worked as we have our own SS insulated mugs and BPA-free water bottles, that we transfered liquid into – the tap/filtered water served on the EOS is fine and no taste/odor that we noticed. There were 2 3-prong 110 volts US outlets, next to the light switch and with a Belkin power cube/usb adapator, we alternate recharging various gadgets during the voyage as the 3rd. 220 outlet is designed for Euro-style/special plugs (I did have the adapters for using it with our Dell notebook’s 90W power supply, if needed) where coffee makers used to be get plugged into …

To alert our attendant, one of two mini-inserts can be placed into the door’s magnetic entry slot for “Do Not Disturb” or “Please Make up the Room” For safety & security, valuables can and should be locked up using the in-room digital “in-room” safe with an user-defined 4 digits combination. It is, however, smaller than most typical hotel safe, our iPad2’s & other smaller items, including wallets, smartphones & cameras all fitted inside, but even my Dell 12” notebook cannot go it – nor will a standard SLR camera with interchangeable lens fit.

Our cabin has a 22” HDTV monitor – on the backside, it has HDMI, component & RGB/PC ports, digital & analog jacks for video/audio. However, they’re been disabled or program locked, so one could not connect a portable DVD player or other HD devices for playback via the TV – oh well. The interactive TV features functioned using the various remote buttons & cursor keys to scroll up & down & check off items, i.e. ordering from the Room Service Menu (but, it’s faster to call them via the designated extension …)

TV channels were of limited use, unless one wanted to watch Fox news, CBS, cartoons, movies of the week, and RCCL’s “info-mmercial” channels about ports of calls & excursions, recaps of activities onboard, disembarkation info (on Ch. 27) and the “limited” ship-navigational status channel ( it did not give out outdoor temperature, ship’s GPS location, distance traveled & time to destination, etc. - pool temperature reported at 77 degree F.) There is no (live) ship-cam for daylight hours (this is a cool feature that we’ve missed, spoiled by sailing other ships & lines.)

With two of us in one cabin (with a queen bed setup) and three in the second cabin, we’ve asked our attendant to split up the bed in one cabin. The third Pullman bed get lowered from the ceiling & setup for sleeping each evening – along with the towel animals (hmmm – no chocolate mints or warm cookies.) The single bed is 33” wide by 78” long and fairly comfortable, not too soft but it could be a bit firmer for DW’s preference, but we slept well enough – to gain a bit more elbow room, the trick (tip) is to pull the bed away from the wall by an inch or so, so that there’s more room for those that loved a full sized bed all by oneself, LOL. Two mini-nightstands are placed on each side of the queen bed or split up next to each single bed – it’s about 11” by 15” and has a small drawer. There is storage underneath the bed – tall enough for 21” or 22” suitcases (or larger duffle bags) to fit down there. The bedside lamp is good enough for reading, integrated with a mini-LED lamp for getting out of bed in the dark to go to the bathroom (without fumbling although I always travel with a working LED flashlight) The digital phone has voice mail and can be set for automated wakeup calls. I just put our smartphone into “Airplane” mode and turn on docking for an oversized clock, as it’s much more useful (just remember to check/reset the proper local time zone …) The edge of our window sills is raised slightly to keep items from falling-off, it’s about 6” deep by at least 48” wide, very handy to keep bottled water, sodas & other small items like hand lotions or even reading materials around, without cluttering up the drawer/desk area.


Dining, Activities & Things to do around the ship -

We confirmed My Time Dining (some called it “Their Time Dining”) for dinner only for all 5 evenings: at 5:45 pm, 5:45 pm, 8 pm, 5:45 pm and 6 pm for the last night, requesting our own table and assigned to MRD on Deck 5. Elevators tend to be full and over-crowded at meal time, so we usually just walk up & down instead – the demographics of the cruisers on this ship seem to reflect more guests using assisted devices to get around, including many motorized scooter rented on the ship. Arriving for dinner, one will find a line on the left facing the MDR for guests with confirmed reservation plus a different line on the right for “walk-up” guests for that “free-style” dining experience without reservations . Confirmed bookings for our own table were granted as we choose not to share our conversations with others & had the same table for 6 for 4 out of 5 nights with the same team – great!

As on most cruise ships, smaller tables for 4 are not easy to come by, never mind a romantic & private table for 2 alone (candlelight or not) – RCCL set up 3 smaller tables, virtually a few steps from the MDR entrance, in front of bigger round tables for 6’s and 8’s – it just looked out of place to us - something isn’t cool about this layout. I dunno, just maybe, RCCL should put a piano there & play background music at dinner time – nothing wrong with it per se, it is just hard to describe (if you have been dining on Deck 5 in the MDR, you might appreciate what I am saying above …) Yeah, try & go book Portofino, only $40 extra each night for a couple – wines & cocktails not included – for a more “romantic” meal, right.

The overall selection of entrée items presented daily in the MDR is fairly good, with something for everyone, and the portion size served is good – with some exceptions noted below. The prime rib served one evening was good and the lamb equally done right, and the soups not high in sodium, and the petite appetizers being “cute” – bay scallops were served with garlic sauce in an escargot serving bowl (but, no snails) and the baby roast duck was pretty tender – it generally arrived just warm, never hot, as it traveled its distance & up the kitchen escalators … Desserts get our “excellent” ratings – even for the sugar-free items. The food & beverage team will suggest – especially on the first day - the optional bottles of water, freshly-squeezed orange juice, wine & beer, the soda packages, and premium coffee, etc. – which, we politely declined and we understood the cruise line’s mission to generate a profit and improve their operating margins.

We did not meet our “Head Waiter” from India on our 1st. night in the MDR but he did come over briefly during Formal Night on Day 2 to introduced himself, and he make sure to “work” all his tables on Day 4 when frozen lobster tail & shrimps were on the menu – especially to help the ladies with getting the shell out. The small, frozen lobster tail is probably 3 oz. to no more than 4 oz. in size, accompanied by 4 medium to small, headless shrimps that has a less than appealing or appetizing look to it. For an extra charge in the MDR, one can order a whole 1.25 lb. lobster for $24.95 The waiters all knew as a second serving was offered & available for the asking but we declined (did thought about ordering the beef steak/sirloin on the menu – don’t recall exactly what it’s named – to make it “surf & turf”) but I wasn’t that hungry & passed on it. Our feeling is that many of the cruisers would still be hungry for more “substantial” food after a double serving – that RCCL might consider pairing it with a boneless fish fillet instead of those “shrinking” shrimp that looked out-of-place in the full-sized dinner plate, served just warm.

On flexible dining time and seating choices -the host/hostess in the MDR on another cruise line would at least asked for the size of the party/group, and whether they mind sharing a larger table with others arriving at the same time – whether it’s for breakfast or lunch with open seating, and, for dinner with MTD. Those cheerful “escorts” with menus in hand (poor thing) just “steer” you to the next table as instructed until it’s filled up or will bring others to join you shortly. They look horrified and shock when asked, could we have “that” table nearby for 6 as there was 5 of us. I even joked that they still have to change & wash the table cloth – must they fill every empty seat in the MDR in sequence to get a proper headcount or what. We did VOS about 8 years ago and had traditional 1st. seating as MYT wasn’t available, and didn’t really care too much for it – we’re on vacation & hate looking at our watches to not miss dining or the shows afterward … Plus, this time on the EOS, we find the spacing between the tables (and chairs) are too closed together, the waiter/assistant (most of them being slim & trim) often have to “squeeze” to get behind the cruisers to serve food, refill the empty glasses and pickup the empty/dirty dishes – made worst if other cruisers move their chairs further back and/or are of the “bulkier” nature – this is true in the MDR and just as bad, if not worst up in Windjammer – the “traffic” flow situation further complicated with those “parked” mobility scooters. There’s no obvious solutions as I’m sure RCCL is well aware of their floor plans & layouts, trying to fit everyone in their dining venue – but it’s hard NOT to forget that “sardine” feelings sitting almost shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back with those at the next table (and couldn’t help listen to their entire conversation – and easily join in …)

We also noticed that the dining and F&B crew working on this ship are mostly male, for what it’s worth. For the MDR and Windjammer Café (buffet) – male outnumbered female by a substantial ratio, perhaps 8:1 or even 10:1, respectively. Just plain curious about the much smaller # of female or women crew members on the ship – not that it affected our cruise experience at all. For our other cruises, we are used to seeing more cheerful, smiling & energized young female crew members everywhere, maybe it’s just this ship’s …

Windjammer’s Café (buffet) has plenty of seating toward the AFT (back) of the ship but there is a tendency for everyone to stay toward the front section by the elevators. For breakfast & lunch, there is variety and good selection of items available – more than what’s offered in the MDR – plus, my favorite: smoked salmon is also available there. We did not see separate food aimed for children & teens nor exclusive seating for smaller children accompanied by their parents/guardians. On our last NCL cruise, they also set-aside a dedicated/reserved section close to the elevators for cruisers – with extra spacing between tables - using walkers & motorized scooters, etc. so that they do not have to “compete” and/or to be in other’s way (vice versa)

We finally get to see the representative senior officers, chefs & dining room/F&B teams and the Captain on Day 5 as they lined up the MDR on all 3 levels in the evening tribute – otherwise, we pretty much did not see them in the public area with their high profiles for visibility and to interact with the passengers. Seated at table #59x by the windows, we could barely see anyting during the remarks. Well, at least we heard the Captain from time to time with his report up on the Bridge & the CD was quite busy & active doing his thing.


Entertainment Productions & Musical/Ice Shows, etc. – We’re less than impressed with the two Broadway style musical productions on Day 2 and 4, with Comedy featured on Day 1, 3 and 5 in the Palace Theater – each show’s kickoff was good and finale were good (as it woke a few guests in attendance sitting around us) with a fairly full audience on Day 2, including children. Apparently, many with children left despite the colorful & changing sets, and decent singing by the casts – I struggled to stay awake in the middle. It was even worst on Day 4 – the description in the Cruise Compass were appealing & interesting but came up a bit short, my SIL got bored & left and DH fell asleep as well along with others nearby as we sat further back, fully prepared for a full exit/escape if it was similar to the first musical. There’re fewer cruisers in the theater for Day 4 showing – at best 70 to 80% full and even less children with their parents – and, some of them quitting mid-show. We are not fans of comedy shows and skipped them entirely so it’s N/A for us. Perhaps a little bit of magic and/or acrobatics can be added for variety while the EOS is docked at King’s Wharf – using local performer(s) that only come onboard to entertain (as it’s done on NCL’s Pride of America sailing the Hawaii islands.) The ice show was performed twice daily on 2 Sea Days and very good – families with children should make sure they pick up the tickets when it’s being distributed.


Casino Royale - Deck 4, midship – the casino has a good mix of slot machines and table games, and the SeaPass card as inserted into the machine is used to keep track of one’s game play and for awarding/earning points, to be redeemed for “rewards” at the end of each cruise. Drinks are not free in the casino unless the casino hosts give out complimentary drink coupons. We usually spend some time during the cruise in the casino and we played the first night and on day two, – quickly concluding that the odds are stacked terribly against the players – with the house having almost all of the advantages & payouts. Slot machine returns were very, very poor and well below the 85 percents to 92 percents plus return measures using for the industry – so we scaled back &did not play at all for the rest of this short cruise (it’s one of the our favorite leisure time events on longer cruises with other lines, just not with RCCL …) The cruise director joked one evening on the theater stage that the casino welcome everyone for their generous donations or contributions … indeed, very true to the facts spoken (no wonder.)


Sports & Exercise/Spa – Besides ice skating or shooting basketballs on Deck 12, there were plenty to do such as rock climbing, or the treadmills. For children & teens – there’s the Game Room. There is so much to do and so little time & only so many hours in 5 days to try to do it all. For those looking for a spot to get some sun or go into the pool, one is going to find an unclaimed spot somewhere upstairs – lounger hogs do not seemed to be a problem, except for Full Sea Days (I’m sure others will cover this with their review, if not already done over & over again)


Cleanliness – we’ve flown & cruised at the peak of Avian flu and close-calls with the unpredictable Norovirus while traveling. We did not notice high visibility, assertive & proactive efforts to remind & educate each and every cruisers of good hand hygiene, and to use the alcohol-based hand sanitizers in public venue, especially when in direct contact with food. The impression is that of a voluntary, discretionary compliance of whether one should or must do a dry or wet hand wash before going into the MDR or buffet/café to eat – having a crew member stationed at the entrance with a portable spray bottle of sanitizing solution would be my suggestions. Servers taking orders & bringing water, coffee, iced tea or other items to the table in the buffet/café are also cleaning dirty dishes and “dry” wiping tables – without using a properly diluted cleaning/bleach solution as recommended – and with everyone looking for an empty table to quickly occupy & sit down for a meal, we’ve been “blessed” with luck on this cruise … Knowing that the EOS is doing a lot behind the scene to keep it clean & safe, we would find it more reassuring to see some visible efforts in public – like cleaning those dirty elevator buttons, stair railings and bathroom handle bars, etc. throughout the day (seen & be seen.) Fortunately, there’re no Norovirus incidents that we know of during our cruise. Cool – we survived & lived to enjoy another wonderful cruise !


Finally, for whatever reasons – as we docked on our return to Cape Liberty, an ambulance with flashing lights, soon to be followed by a police cruiser came alongside the pier dock, and apparently s/he got the ultimate priority departure that morning with an apparent medical emergency … (fellow cruisers on this ship, does anyone know what it was all about ?)


Whew, it's a long review - finally done with it. The good, the bad, and the not so sure & maybe it's just us with a somewhat distorted tunnel view of cruising on the EOS - thanks for sharing & may your next sailing be smooth, calm seas & sunny skies with no cross wind blowing on the pool deck.
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#15
Maryland
1,700 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Thank you for a very thorough and detailed review! I really appreciate the time and trouble that you took to write it. It is especially helpful with all of the details about Bermuda. I will be there in July aboard EOS on our 9 day cruise. I plan on using the information that you supplied. Thanks again!
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#16
Maricopa, AZ, USA
1,387 Posts
Joined May 2010
Thanks for all the detail. Great review and pictures.
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- Donovan


Previous Cruises:
Independence Of The Seas 4/26/2014 Want the Review, click here
Mariner Of The Seas 12/12/2010 Want the Review, click here
Carnival Elation 05/31/2009
StarShip Atlantic 08/08/1993



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#17
"Big Apple" NY
7,952 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by khm1
It is especially helpful with all of the details about Bermuda. I will be there in July aboard EOS on our 9 day cruise. I plan on using the information that you supplied. Thanks again!
Originally posted by Poorplaya
Thanks for all the detail.
For quality & colorful pictures of the beaches, places & things to do Bermuda - whether is just a stopover for a day en route to the warmer Caribbean ports, 2 days in on a 5 day ITN or 3 days for a 7 day ITN - I highly recommend checking out the Live report onboard by "Radio" from the Enchantment of the Seas (out of Baltimore) - it's currently sailing up the CB toward home port.

For those planning their next BDA cruise & curious as to how many other cruise ships will be in town - sharing the piers, packing the ferries and absolutely jamming the public bus systems - here's a link provided via another CC'rs "SailBadtheSinner" - just look up the applicable dates - it's really no "fun" to have 3 ships in town on the same day as BDA is reported to be setting new records in 2012 for having the most cruise ships in the ports (reminding me of Alaska in the peak summer months) - as that is easily 8,000+ cruisers hitting solid grounds plus more than a few crew members on short breaks themselves ...

http://www.bermuda-online.org/cruises.htm - scroll down & you will find info about ships arriving at BDA - plus, about 1/2 ton's worth of info on everything you wanted to know (but didn't) about BDA - it's really good & up-to-date as far as I am concerned.

WiFi access @ Dockyard is $10 for 24 hours or $15 for 72 hours - designed by BDA tourism for thse cruising and wanted faster broadband access than GPRS/2G speed just better than dial-up on the cruise ships at sky-high rate (it has to connect to the satellite for its signal ... thus, expensive & billed by the minutes onboard - alert: took 2 minutes to refresh a webpage)

For those cruising as a family with children, the Ice Show at Studio B is a must, I found 5 smartphone pictures taken (not as high quality as flash isn't allowed during the performance & video is prohibited due to copyrighting) - it's a great 30+ minutes of performance, go "catch" it.
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#18
Northern New Jersey
7 Posts
Joined May 2012
Thank you so much for your postings. We are going on this same 5 day Cruise to Bermuda in July and all 6 of us are first time cruisers. I loved the details and pictures you provided. I am the type of person that has to know exactly what to expect when venturing into unknown territory and your wonderful review has certainly provided all I need to know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
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#19
Long Island, NY
412 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Our “I” category OV cabins #2588 (also, 2602) have a big, round window & pull-down ceiling beds for up to 4 pax plus a small non-convertible sofa, 22" flat panel HDTV that swivel - refrigerator with mini-bar/snacks

Wondering if cabins #2596, 2598 & 2600 are the same? Looking at photo of the ship from an outside view, there are large round windows on deck 2 as well as the smaller ones?
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#20
Delaware
3,429 Posts
Joined May 2006
Explorer of the seas is a fantastic ship. We have enjoyed her many many times and can't wait to be back on board again in the future.

While she shows some wear and tear the crew is amongst the finest.

I hope you choose her as an option for a longer voyage and you will be able to enjoy some of the other options of the ship.

We don't use my time dining so glad you enjoyed. We much prefer in our many cruises to enjoy our waiter and asst waiter and if we choose to eat at a different time we are enjoyed the Windjammer or the Portofinos....love Portofinos...

I also second the readers who would like to see more on the Explorer to search for cruise critic member Radio and read his Live reports....you will feel like you are right there with him.
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Happy Cruising! Cris
PLUS

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