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maxs mom

The Holidays on the Explorer: My Diary

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Hello!

Max's Mom and Dad (aka Jane and John) cruise again!! This time on the beautiful Explorer of the Seas for Christmas and New Year's (Dec. 19-Jan 2). This was our 40th with RCI.....and yes, we got the crystal block......and our 5th Christmas cruise in a row! Love those holiday sailings!

We drove up to Newark on Saturday Dec. 18th from North Carolina .....a 10 hour drive. There was the threat of snow, but nothing like last year when Bayonne got 2 feet of snow the night before embarkation! Unfortunately all the snow was in the UK this year and prevented a few of our cruise buddies from making the ship. There were 581 souls who missed this sailing. 52 caught up with the ship a little later. The absence of those folks was quite noticeable on the ship. Never had to wait for an elevator and the Windjammer was never crowded.

We stayed at the Wyndham Garden Hotel at Newark airport.....an OK place......we left our car there for the two weeks rather than at the port. It is a secure lot and the second time that we have done that. No problems.

We took a taxi to the port at around 11:00 on Sunday morning. $50 + tip. There is usually mass confusion at the drop off area and this day was no exception, but we finally got our luggage taken care of and proceeded inside to check in. This is the only port where we have to wait in line to check in. But things went smoothly today and before we knew it, we were on the bus riding over to the ship. No waiting after checking in.

Once on board, while waiting to get into our cabin at 1:30, I checked out our dining room table.....#345.....right next to the Captain's table....perfect. Then I went up to Deck 11 to Portofino to make our reservations there. The guy taking my revervation was VERY congested......a sign of things to come!

At 1:30 we made our way to our cabin......Junior Suite 9314....on the hump. This is a great cabin. It was in great shape....new carpet, flatscreen, the upolstry and curtains seemed to be brand new. I was happy! Here are a few pctures:

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Our balcony was also very nice. Just a tad larger than most JS balconies. We had a comfy lounger, two chairs, and a small table.

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The Captain held the ship for a while to wait for passengers who were delayed because of the weather. Instead of leaving at 4....it was closer to 6 before we left.

There was no muster today. We found out that it would be held at 11:15 on the first sea day.

Our roll call had planned an informal get together at Dizzy's at around 3:30 and we had a very good showing. We had a very active roll call. Some of us had cruised together before, so it was good to renew those friendships. Some folks we had not met before and it was fun to make these new friendships! What a great bunch of folks. We did this same cruise last year and a good many of those folks booked this year as well. Sadly, a few had to cancel. But Helen and Graham of the UK.....who didn't make the ship last year.......had a huge scare this year......but they made it!!!!! Here are a few pictures of our get together in Dizzy's right before embarkation.

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Our cabin stewardess was Shahaida from Nicaragua. She was the best. She really took care of us.

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We are Daimond Plus C&A members and we really enjoy the Concierge Lounge. We usually head there around 7 every evening to enjoy some drinks before dinner. We always meet great folks in there and enjoy their company every night. The Concierge for this sailing was Francis. He was very nice and did a lot for us.

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The first night we ran into a couple that we met last year in the CL. It was nice seeing them again. We ran into them quite often during the cruise.

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OK......now it's on to dinner in the MDR and see who our tablemates will be. Always scary!!

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In over 25 years of cruising with RCI, I must say.....for the most part....we have been extremely lucky with our tablemates. This cruise was no exception. We thoroughly enjoy meeting people on cruises, so we always ask for a large table. Our table was a table for 10 right next to the Captain's table on Deck 3. It was quickly made into a table for 11 because a father/daughter duo didn't like their table, so they joined ours. The more the merrier! Once again, we were very lucky with our tablemates. They were:

Fred and Tory.....father/ daughter from New Jersey.

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Brian and Russell.....Nephew/Uncle.....from New York.

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Lois, Joy, and Scott......mother, daughter, son-in-law from California.

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And my very favorite......Joe and Tony......from New Jersey. They are my boys!!!!

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Then there was us:

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These pictures were made on a formal night.

Our waiter had a bad case of laryngitis......another sign of things to come!

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Monday.....12-20-10

At Sea

We woke up fairly early and went down to the private dining room for Diamond/Diamond + members. Love this amenity. We ate breakfast here most mornings and received very specialized service here. It's fun to meet up with other frequent cruisers here. This morning we met up with some other cruisers that we met last year....Lisa and Guy from Arizona. They were tablemates of our UK buddies last year. They didn't make it this year because of the snow. We missed them terribly, but glad to renew a friendship with Guy and Lisa. We also ran into them in the CL a good bit.

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The Meet and Mingle was scheduled for 9:15 AM this morning! :eek: It was in the Majarjas Lounge. We had a very nice turn out. I already knew a good many of these folks, but there were a lot of people there that I had no clue who they were! We went around and told where we were from, but no one said what their screen name was and that was a mistake. They raffled off a lot of prizes. John and I both won a bottle of champagne......and we don't even drink champagne. But we put it to good use later with some of our roll call buddies. More about that later.

Yay!! They made it from the UK!! That's Helen and Graham...who didn't make it last year. And Gary and Stef, also from the UK.....former cruise buddies of mine.

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Two fisting it!

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David and Nancy......more former cruise buddies.

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Nan and her family. Boy....did they have a lot of fun!

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Wendy and Kaighley (mother/daughter)......also former cruise buddies......organized a gift exchange for those that wanted to participate. That was a lot of fun.

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The ship's photographer made a group shot of everyone down on the one of the staircases. Huge group. It was a nice picture.

Afterwards we had to rush to the Muster Drill. No lifejackets....yay! It was pretty cold and ugly out on deck today.

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It didn't last too long and was rather painless.

Afterwards I thought I might enjoy some time on the balcony! That didn't last long!!

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Gotta take a break for a while. Will be back later to continue. Thanks for reading.

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Great pictorial review so far.

 

And the best thing, your picture of me made me look a lot thinner !!!!!!

 

Now I need to know which one you are in the pics.......so that I will recognize you when we finally meet!!!!!

 

:)

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Now I need to know which one you are in the pics.......so that I will recognize you when we finally meet!!!!!

 

:)

 

David and Nancy

 

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We always wear matching tee-shirts

Edited by The Big Booper

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Thanks Everyone!

Back for a little bit.

This day was a formal night. Everyone looked very nice all dressed up. The table pictures posted earlier were actually from Christmas Day. This is us from the actual first formal night.

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After dinner we went to the show. Tony B was the heaadliner. He is a Sinatra style singer and was very good. But I got a little bored with him. I don't think we went to any other shows. We went to the casino and made the first of many donations there.

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Tuesday.....12-21-10

At Sea

After breakfast we checked out photos, then bought the wi-fi package with our 90 mins. of coupons. I e-mailed our UK friends to see if they might possibly meet the ship in St. Thomas. There was a good hot spot in the CL.

There was a nice lunch buffet set up on the Promenade. This was a huge cake that was at one end.

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We didn't eat there but went to the Windjammer instead. I did go back after lunch and had a piece of this cake with some ice cream. Yummy!

I wandered around and got some pictures of the solarium while no one was there.

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Afterwards it was back to the cabin for one of many naps during this cruise. Tonight we went to the CL, then dinner, then the casino again.

I lied.....we did go to another show! Tonight we saw the late night comic. He was from Canada and was very funny, but just a little too nice to be the Late night comic!

Edited by max'smom

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Jane, I always enjoy your reviews and pictures.

I seem to follow in your footsteps. This past summer I went on the Serenade shortly after you did your B2B on her and I will be cruising the Explorer this coming summer.

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12-22-10

Labadee

Yay! Land Ho!! And it's nice and warm. This was our first time in Labadee in many years. I was very impressed with all the improvements. This stop is fabulous. Can't wait to go back!

Here we are pulling in to the port.

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The new dock is wonderful.

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We debated about getting one of the cabanas and decided not to. But at the last minute one became available and we thought we would split one with Guy and Lisa, but when we finally found Francis to book it....it was gone. But Francis said not to worry.........he would take care of us. He got us transportaion over to Barefoot Beach where the cabanas are and we got set up over there under a palapa and had a great day.

Here we are walking over to the beach. We met Francis and he whisked us away on a golf cart!

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This was our little spot on Barefoot Beach:

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Oh wow! I didn't know I had a following! We loved the Serenade so much that we booked another Back 2 Back on her the same weeks this summer. We sure were spoiled on the Serenade! Hope you enjoy the Explorer.

 

Sorry....that was a reply to NYer

Edited by max'smom

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More from Labadee.

The cabanas are really nice, but we were perfectly happy with our palapa. Here are some shots of the cabanas.

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Jane, I'm anxiously awaiting the rest of your report. Lovely so far. The photo pulling into Labadee is awesome, I have never seen a shot like that one before.

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I am enjoying your Holiday Explorer Cruise Review. Thank you for the time and consideration you put into this endeavor! Looking forward to more, while I anticipate sailing her in April :D.

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This was such a perfect and enjoyable beach day......warm.....no humidity. The food was outstanding. We had grilled shrimp, chicken, prime rib. It was delicious.

The new restrooms were quite nice.

The zip line looked like loads of fun. We decided we would definitely do that next time. Here is the practice run. They said if you didn't have a heart attack on this, then you could do the real one!

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The Dragon Coaster also looked like a lot of fun. Our tablemates did that and they loved it.

Soon it was time to head back to the ship and say goodbye to our hosts.

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Jane, I'm anxiously awaiting the rest of your report. Lovely so far. The photo pulling into Labadee is awesome, I have never seen a shot like that one before.

 

Hey Janet! Thanks! Nice of you to stop by!

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Oh....I almost forgot. While we were lounging on Barefoot Beach, our tablemates, Joe and Tony strolled by. My boys!!!!! It was great seeing them out and about! They were just precious!

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After we got back to the ship, we got our daily dose of soft ice cream, had showers, and took a nap. We went to the CL for drinks later......very quiet in there this year. Last year it was quite rowdy, but fun. Very subdued crowd this year.

After dinner we walked along the Promenade for a while and went to bed. We're very dull!

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Thursday 12-23-10

Samana, Dominican Republic

Another beautiful day in the Caribbean! We were up early and had a quick breakfast in the WJ. With so many missing passengers, the WJ was bearable.

This is a tender port and it wasn't too bad to get to the pier. We met a group from our roll call there at 9:15. Nan had arranged this beach/snorkling trip that sounded prety neat so we signed on. Here we are ready to go!

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This is the ship as seen from the dock.

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Well.....we all go together and piled into two taxi vans. We took a 40 minute cab ride which took us to a beach.....whereupon we board these tiny boats for the rest of the trip out to Playa Rincon. Now I thought we would have a leisurely like catamaran type boat ride! Oh no......not to be. We whipped along like Cuban refugees in these little boats.....bouncing up and down, taking a beating, and getting drenched!! At one point I grabbed hold of the man sitting in front of me......I didn't really know him yet, but we got to be real good friends fast!

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It was a 20 minute wild ride! At one point we had to stop and rearrange positions to distribute the weight a little better!

We finally got to the beach and all but kissed the ground. Then we realized that we were going to have to go back the same way we got there! :eek:

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I was totally drenched after that boat ride!

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Here is the other boat as they arrived at the beach.

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We soon got over our travel shock and set up camp on the beach for the day. Hey.......this beach is beautiful.....no.....it's stunning! We got a couple of beers and were able to relax.

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So the group recovered form the boat ride and we started to enjoy ourselves.

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

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The DR beach looks nice but I don't know if my back and legs could have taken the pounding of the speedboat ride.

 

We did use the day on the ship to play two rounds of mini golf, like the old farts we are, and to take a silver medal in the shuffleboard championship, like the old farts we are. And win two trivia contests, like the...............

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The surf was a little rough today. A little???? I mean a lot rough! But we managed to enjoy a swim. The water was great.

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Our friend, Wendy decided to join us out in the water, but as she was walking out to us, she was hit by a huge wave and was forced to do a split! She really took a tumble. (There's a video on Facebook......I must say ......I had to laugh!) But it wasn't funny at the time.

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So we helped her out of the water. She was in terrible pain. Ended up having to go to the ship's doctor a couple of times and is still in a lot of pain today. But she was a trouper and didn't let it ruin her trip.

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All things considered, it was a great beach day. There was a place there to get fresh grilled food. I had delicious chicken with rice and beans. No bathrooms to speak of though......we had to improvise!

Soon it was time to board those wonderful boats and head back to the ship. We wore life jackets this time!

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We were very thankful to be back on land. ha!! Compare this picture to the one when we started out!

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It was truly an experience! Thanks, Nan, for organizing this trip. It really was memorable!!

Edited by max'smom

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