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1/16 Explorer Review - Part 4


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I'm getting depressed again as my trip is coming to an end in my report. I'll have one more installment with disembarkment and some general comments.


Part One http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=126773

Part Two http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=127117

Part Three http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=127782


A little background before I get started. I cruised with my sister and two of my best girlfriends. We left the husbands and kids at home (12 kids total). We range in age from 33 to 39.


Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions you might have...


Friday 1/21 – Day 6 Grand Cayman


We were a little worried about this day. We talked to several people in Cozumel from different cruise ships and no one had been able to make it into the Caymans so far this week. But we got lucky and it was an absolutely perfect day.




After our nightmare in Belize we thought we would try to beat the crowds and went to get our tender tickets 45 minutes early. The tickets were supposed to be given out between 9:00 – 10:00 am. We arrived at 8:15 and they were already giving out tickets – ugh!! We ended up with the second group once again.




I shouldn’t admit to this but at this point we cheated. When they called the first group we just got in line and tried to “blend in”. We held out our tickets with the number covered up and walked right through. Let me say one more time….RCI needs to fix their tendering process.




We got to the Caymans in perfect timing. It was 9:20 when we got off the tender and were supposed to meet our tour at 9:30. We had booked with Captain Bryan for the Buccaneer Stingray City Excursion. We paid $39 for this tour.




Once everyone arrived we were taken by bus to the waterfront. Our excursion was on a beautiful 50 foot Catamaran. Our first stop was at Stingray City where we got to interact with the stingrays for about 30 minutes. It was tons of fun and an opportunity of a lifetime. Our guides helped us hold the stingrays and took tons of pictures. There was also a photographer on board taking underwater video. There were several boats in the area but everyone was spaced out so there was plenty of room for everyone. We saw the ships tour which was a huge double-decker boat just loaded with people. Our tour was much better.




We also stopped at two different places to snorkel. They were both absolutely beautiful with tons of fish. The guides chased an eel and a shark out from the coral so we could see them.




They used the sail for a great ride back to shore. There was also a cash bar on the boat but I don’t know what they were charging for drinks since I didn’t buy anything. The photographer was passing the camera around so we could watch parts of the video. I bought a DVD of the trip for $60 – it should be arriving here sometime soon.




We arrived back at the buses for a quick trip back into town. I have to mention all the damage that is still apparent in the area. Many buildings still do not have roofs and there is construction ongoing everywhere.




We did a little shopping at the port. We tried various flavors of rum cake and had to buy some to take home. The 6 pack that I purchased included 4 little miniature bottles of rum so they delivered it to the ship – it was great that I didn’t have to carry it around with me. I also bought my big purchase of the trip here. I found a beautiful Skagen watch in one of the jewelry stores. I’ve been eyeing them for some time at home and just couldn’t resist. I paid a little less than I would have paid at home plus there was no sales tax.




Everyone but Jane was done shopping at this point, so three of us headed back to the tenders. We then decided to give Johnny Rockets a try for a late lunch (it was about 3:30 at this point). It was excellent and one of my favorite meals of the whole week. The strawberry milkshake was unbelievable. It was worth every penny of the $8 I paid for the meal and shake. I know that there is much discussion about the surcharge for Johnny Rockets, but I don’t think it has hurt RCI one bit. Most afternoons there was about a 45 minute wait for Johnny Rockets at lunchtime.




As usual it was now time for our 5:30 – 7:00 nap.




This was the second formal night of the week. I would definitely say that most people wore their “best” formal attire on the earlier formal night, but people were still dressed very nicely. (Of course this does not include our tablemates who wore jeans and t-shirts to dinner.) I had shrimp and lobster tail for dinner – it was very good even though I was not that hungry after our late lunch.




The show of the night was the Royal Carribean Singers and Dancers in Fast Forward. We did not attend and really did not hear anything about this show from anyone else.




We finally remembered our “smuggled” little bottles of alcohol and decided that we were not going to take them back home with us. We bought some juice from the Café Promenade ($2) and took it back to the room to make up some drinks of our own.




With a drink in each hand, we then returned to our normal night spot, the Crown and Kettle. It was hopping this night. I mentioned earlier that Clo (the cruise director) had her mother on board this week. Mary and her friends were in the bar and let’s just say they were having fun. It’s very easy to see where Clo gets her energy and spunk. At about 12:30 pm Clo showed up to take her mother off to bed. I’m not sure but I wondered if someone had called her to let her know that her Mom needed to be tucked into bed.




After close at 1:00 am we headed to the Chamber once again. We spent more time with Don Mack and got to hear lots of information about living on a cruise ship. Between RCI and Carnival, he’s been doing it for about 5 years. It was interesting to hear about that side of cruising. We danced and talked until 3:00 am.




Saturday 1/22 – Day 7 Day at Sea


We woke up rather depressed since it was our wonderful vacation was quickly coming to an end. We headed for the Windjammer and noticed that almost every chair was already “saved” around the pool area (it was only 9:00 am). We all grabbed some breakfast (gotta love those omelets) and then Jane and I headed out to save some chairs before they were all gone. We returned to eat and then headed out to Deck 12 (we were gone less than 30 minutes so we didn’t break any rules).




We spent another leisurely day in the sun and went in for lunch at about 2:00 pm. As we were getting up to leave, we noticed Mary and her friends looking for chairs. We gave them our chairs and Mary mentioned that she hadn’t seen her daughter yet that day! Hopefully she wasn’t in too much trouble :0)




After lunch I decided to try to get a little more sun so I found a chair on the deck (it took some time) and stayed there until about 4:00 pm.




When I returned to the room, all of our departure items had arrived. We had luggage tags (we had filled out forms on Wednesday), customs forms and tip envelopes. All of our alcohol had also been delivered to the room. This made it all too real that it was ending.




We did a little bit of packing and took our last nap of the week. Luggage had to be in the hallway between 7:00 pm and midnight. We planned to finish packing after dinner.




It was another pre-dinner show at 7:15 pm. It featured a comedian Mike Wilson and the Royal Carribean dancers and singers. I think they also showed the Cruise in Review video at the show.




Suggested attire was casual or red,white & blue (or the colors of your nation). Our tablemates interpreted “casual” to mean sweatsuits but by this time we weren’t at all surprised.




We handed out our tip envelopes to the waitstaff along with an extra $5 to Andrew our favorite “booze man” (and yes, we got the complete set of shot glasses).




After dinner we finished packing and put our luggage into the hallway. Jane and I decided to hit the bar one more time but Rosie and Monica headed off to bed. We closed the Crown & Kettle one last time and said goodbye to Don before heading off to bed at about 1:00 am.

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