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Team K's 14 night Holiday on Explorer Review!

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A 14 night Holiday with Team K

I have written many reviews and I have Blogged Live From Explorer OTS a few times. I try to cover info about the ship, crew, food, entertainment, ports of call and other random happenings.

 

Im posting in Titled sections so you can pass by topics that might not interest you, as this will be a day-by-day review, and it was a 14 night cruise with lots happenin’.

 

Our Back Story:

We’re an active family of 4, our daughter is 22 and our son is 18. We have been cruising since they are 9 and 13, this was our 10th cruise. The cruise for us starts with the booking. From there investigating the ports and planning excursions begins. We booked this Holiday cruise on January 2, 2010, so we had 11.5 months of building excitement. Packing went well. We’re lucky to be 40 miles south from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, NJ. The super stretch white limo pulled into the driveway at 10am. We pulled out of the driveway around 10:20 & were on our way! Laughing and taking pictures along the way, about 20 minutes on the NJ turnpike and we started to hear and feel a terrible rumble. The driver pulled to the side of the road and got out to look, along with DH and DS. A rear tire lost 4 out of 6 lug nuts, yes- we almost lost a tire. An hour later a van showed up & Cinderella’s coach turned into a pumpkin, errr van! We were back on our way.

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Arriving at Cape Liberty:

We arrived at Cape Liberty at 12:30, it was not terribly crowded and our driver pulled into a bay. A porter immediately took our luggage (& tip) and we walked right into check in. There was a very short line through the metal detector, nothing to talk about. There were the normal Priority check in line and regular check in, Priority was long- then we heard and saw friends from our 6/2010 cruise on a different priority line they had motioned him onto which was shorter, so we joined that line. DS’s card is NEVER printed, we don’t know why. It is a phenomenon. As we stopped for the quintessential “boarding picture”, the photographer’s camera didn’t work, we decided we didn’t need to wait and boarded the waiting bus, and off to the ship.

 

Onto Explorer:

We went directly to our cabins and DD and I dropped off the gowns that we were carrying. Then DH and I went to check our MDR table, always a table for 4, we have never had a problem with that request. This time we were seated with 2 couples and I knew it probably wouldn’t work for us, considering what would my 22 and 18 year olds have in common with them, really. We asked to change and were accommodated with an “ok” table. [This will change, 2 more times] We then stopped off at Weekend Warrior and saw Julie, a wonderful and warm and friendly bar tender we met on our 2010 summer cruise. Our DS found his friend [a girl he has kept in touch with from our 2007 Ex holiday cruise, who lives 30 minutes away from us] and they were off trolling the ship. DH and I went up to scope out Dizzys and the bar tender for Sail Away. Muster was postponed until the next day. We quickly grabbed lunch in Windjammer, and DH asked for a tray of cookies to take up to our sail away soiree at Dizzys Lounge (Deck 14). I was hoping our roll call group would all meet up in the same area, but it seemed that many didn’t recognized each other, I’m guessing. I met a few folks I had been talking to for months on face book, one came over and introduced me to some others that were sitting towards the back of the bar.

 

The friends we ran into on priority check in were there too & we decided to try to get a MDR table together. With this, off to the MDR the other guy went, and he came back with a new table number. The pictures from Sail Away say we drank a lot and had a very fun time.

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We all arrived at the MDR and had dinner with our great friends, but the table was not so great at all. We enjoyed dinner that night, but the next day had to request a change of table for the 6 of us to a better location. We were happily accommodated and had a wonderful table with amazing wait staff for the rest of the cruise. This is my friend who made it happen.

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Dinner- Vidalia Onion Tart

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Truffled wild Mushroom Linguini alfredo

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There was a Sail Away Parade on the Promenade @ 5:30. Explorer now hosts a “Peter Max fine Gallery”, Deck 3 outside Studio B and the photograph area. Evening entertainment included: Steve Zackim and Roman Dembitskyy @ Schooner, String quartet at Aquarium evenng trivia and dance music by Viva Band @ Maharajas Lounge. At 4:10 listed in the compass is a Club 18-20 Meet for Sail Away at Weekend Warrior get together- we don’t know anyone in that age bracket that attended though.

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Day 2

Our Meet & Mingle was @ 9:30am! We thought this was a tad early, but we made it, albeit late! I don’t like being late for events but after months on roll call I also didn’t want to miss it. We weren’t there for the beginning, but I heard that folks introduced themselves by where they lived & weren’t asked to mention their cruise critic ID. Really? Not all people are going to write their ID on a name tag, I think folks should be encouraged to introduce themselves with CC ID as well.

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We trolled the ship most of the day taking pictures (new camera since last cruise) and chilling. Went to the MDR for Tutti Salad (also known as Happy Salad) for lunch. Much to my surprise, it was crowded. Tonight was Formal Night, so it was nice to have a relaxed day. The sea was a little rough, but nothing to speak of & manageable. This time we tried Ginger pills for DS’s minor sea sickness. He only took one a day and it worked miraculously throughout the cruise. Mentioned in the cruise compass is the Captains Welcome Aboard reception- “Photographs taken with him 7:30-8:00 PM, Formal Attire, Royal Promenade in front of Weekend Warrior”. Mentioning this to note that appropriate attire for this evening is definitely requested. The Escargot, shrimp cocktail, Filet of Beef, Roast Duck and grilled Seafood Brochette were all excellent.

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It was a quiet evening for us afterwards. We spent some time playing with our new camera taking pictures from the cabin balcony. It was non smoking night in the casino. Guitar music in Dizzys, Robert Bruce music in the Pub (Crown & Kettle),dance music later on at Dizzys, 90s Dance music in the Chamber, Latin Salsa @ Aquarium, Finish that Lyric game show @ 10:15 and the headliner show for 2nd seating at 10:45pm. Adult karaoke @11pm, dance music at dizzys with Viva band from 11:15.

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Here I will also mention Room Service. Excellent beyond what you will expect from a room service menu. Honey stung chicken with fries (we had this a few times, mostly very good. One occasion it was dry and overcooked and more like a frozen food you’d get in a bag at your local food store), and the steak sandwich ranked high on our list. The spinach dip was also very good.

 

You can call these a meal and not just snacks. Service was fairly quick. They tell you 40 minutes, all the time. It will take that long on days when you come back to the ship from being in port, other times room service is usually pretty quick and painless. [Remember to tip].

 

 

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This is the door that seperates the connecting cabins

 

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Schooner Bar Tender

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Day 3 @ Sea & Loving it!

Mens Sexy Legs contest, then Line Dance class, Poolside. Seems like folks always wait for this one and the mens belly flop contest! [which was cancelled and I am not sure if it ended up being rescheduled or not].

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Surprise Market Buffet today 11:30am.

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About the Market buffet, if you don’t go to the main dining room or go to other events where this is announced, do know that there will be surprise events you will not know about. Also, pay attention to your wait staff when they tell you about upcoming events so you don’t miss out. They are not in the daily Cruise Compass (apparently, for a reason).

 

 

So, Day 2 at 10:15 our daughter was picked to be in the Cake Decorating Competition on stage at the Palace theatre. If I do say so myself, she did an AMAZING job. Not only did she do well on stage, but they delivered the cake to our dinner table for dessert (this lasted for 3 nights!). This made her an instant celebrity around the ship, as they play it on your in cabin television.

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It was a lot of fun for DD!

 

For dinner, the Duck Salad, Breaded Shrimp and Salad of Watermelon were all good. The Salmon was good as was the Osso Bucco.

 

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This is a good time to mention that we used the dry cleaning services on board. Our Cabin attendant was excellent! If you’re curious about pricing, it is cheaper than our local dry cleaners and they do a very, very good job.

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Day 4 – Labadee!

Perfect weather! 89 degrees and partly sunny. I recall it being sunny all day!

Please Note: Tonight Clocks and Watches WILL go forward ONE hour.

My Family went on Dragons Flight line, the longest zip line over water. It was FABULOUS.

More to come tomorrow morning!

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Stacey, love the review! It will help waiting until Nov for our next cruise! New camera works well! I just asked to join your FB page!

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Labadee~

 

 

My Family went on Dragons Flight line, the longest zip line over water. It was FABULOUS. You’re taken to a test run, a short zip line over a grassy area first, then hop into your open air hummer defender and off you go up the mountain to the platform where you’re hooked up! I suggest anyone interested to youtube Dragons Flight line. After our “flights”, we had lunch. I must say, the improvements Royal made on Labadee are very noticeable. Added lunch/picnic areas make it easy to find a table for lunch. There were no lines for food and the BBQ was excellent. The Labadoozies, for me were way too sweet and made me feel sick. I would have done better with just the rum, haha.

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Stacey, love the review! It will help waiting until Nov for our next cruise! New camera works well! I just asked to join your FB page!

Thanks!! So glad you asked to join! Wonderful to have you. Post anything you'd like. There is a newer post with Packing Ideas, feel free to add your wisdom. I thougt that would be a good idea last month when we were packing for the 14 night cruise!

 

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=832267309#!/home.php?sk=group_172527479431415

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Day 4 [continued]

 

Had to chill awhile after those labadoozies! Not because of the rum..

 

For dinner, we would all recommend the Parmesan Crusted turkey Tenderloin. Of course the beef Filet is always good. We didn’t take the usual food pictures this night.

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OOps! Oh yeah, here is the cake that keeps giving!

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Entertainment was Blades the Ice Challenge and we missed it. So sad. We have seen it before and it is a lot of fun. There was another “singles gathering”, Name that Michael Jackson tune @ Schooner, Viva Band dance music, Piano bar entertainment at Schooner, and Majority Rules Game Show at 10:30pm! At 11pm there was Dancing Under the Stars Deck Party and an Ice carving demo then a Pool Side buffet from 11:30-12:30.

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Wow ! I am loving this review ! Keep the pics coming. . . They are WONDERFUL !

 

It seems that you guys had a great time !

 

 

Radio

;);)

 

 

 

.

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Day 5 - Samana, DR

 

We opted to not book an excursion since every other island (except my favorite, Dominica) we would be going to the beach. We got off the ship and moseyed around. I have to say, I was pretty disgusted at the amount of stray dogs, seriously. So, we get off the ship and a local is talking to us about local paintings, which is the reason I was getting off the ship anyway. We followed him to a shop where I began looking. He was annoying and obnoxious and eventually he got the hint to STOP following us, we had our own agenda and didn’t need him. Beware. We walked around for maybe one hour. I bought 2 paintings, wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be with the artwork, but all in all it was pretty enough to buy 2. We also bought a small trunk-up elephant for my Mother and a bead bracelet and we didn’t negotiate too much because we really liked the “kid” at the kiosk we were buying at!

 

An important thing to note for those travelling that use a scooter or wheelchair- they are NOT allowed on the tenders in Samana because the tenders are not ADA compliant or equipped.

 

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Christopher, Bar Tender we have known since 2007. He wont leave the Explorer family.

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Wow ! I am loving this review ! Keep the pics coming. . . They are WONDERFUL !

 

It seems that you guys had a great time !

 

 

Radio

;);)

 

 

 

.

 

Thanks Mark! ;)

A labor or love & a work in progress. No one odes as good a job reporting as you.

 

We took 5,000 pictures. Im only posting a few. If they all ever go up I will send you the link on FB!

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Tonights dinner attire is smart casual. Dinner was good, Shrimp ceviche appetizer and the buttermilk fried chicken and steak Oscar were very good, as were the thai shrimp.

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There is again; guitar music, Singles gathering, Name that Big Band tune @ Schooner, Adventure Family disco at The Chamber, Celebrity Showtime @ Palace theatre, Latin music, Pub music, Dance music, Swing Music in the Chamber from 10p-11p. Karaoke, Casino Lotto drawing, and Jazz Jam at Dizzys from 11:15-midnight.

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Nice job' date=' Stacey. It was a fun two weeks wasn't it? [/size']

Hi Jane!

Yes, it was an amazing 2 weeks! Could have stayed on longer! :D

Edited by CruiseDivaNJ

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Day 6 - Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas!

 

We Rented a JEEP from budget rental, located steps from where you disembark! We tried to get a bigger vehicle so our friends (& table mates) could join us, but there was nothing bigger available. The drive to Sapphire Beach was GREAT and easy. Be confident that you’re able to drive on the opposite side of the road if you’re an American. DH had no problem at all and enjoyed every minute of the twisting narrow roads. At first we missed the entrance to Sapphire, it isn’t clearly marked other than Sapphire Beach Club…we asked a local by what looked like a condo complex and he suggested when we enter Sapphire to tell the gate guard that we’re going to…*I will try & remember the name of the Marina and Boat next to Sapphire where the parking is closer to the beach and ample. We parked all the way to the right, if you were standing looking towards the beach and hotel and we were given a slip of paper to put in the windsheild.

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Heading down the road to Sapphire..

 

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Thanks, so much!:)

 

 

9 days to go! Going through 5,000 pictures is crazy!! lol

 

Quit "going through them" and just post them all!:D

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SxT Cont'd.....

 

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I would compare Sapphire to Magens as to the amount of people. It was busy. Our friends took a bus and arrived there before us, we camped out with them. Chairs were around $7 or $8, the drinks were okay (for our standards, lol) and the food was actually very good. I think I had a tuna wrap (not tuna fish! Lol- tuna steak for clarification), the rest had burgers that were also good. The sand is clean and soft, the water is amazing, but there were many areas where it was somewhat shell and rocky to get into the water. DH very much dislikes when it is rocky and shelley. I navigate through & past and I’m okay with it, when it isn’t too bad! Lol We ran into many of the people we knew here at Sapphire, including our sons friend of a few years and her father who were there to “commemorate their Wife & Mother” by scattering her ashes. Just being a mother myself, I found knowing that, to be very emotional for me. Also, you should know- on this beach for food they do accept VISA on the beach. The food folks are separate from the chair rental folks.

 

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We stayed a few hours and were off to SHOP for DS for a watch for his 18th Birthday. We drove back to town, Phillipsburg; DH dropped us off and went to find parking. Parking is NOT easy in town. He did find a spot, we don’t think it was a legal spot, but if ticketed the change would be $25.00. He decided we would pay this or more for parking other places (like when we go into NYC), so it wasn’t a big deal. No, we didn’t get ticketed and actually, the police saw we were parked there; they were standing on that corner. Take that tidbit of info however you need to. We looked at watches in a few shops, DS decided on one from Trident, a jewelry shop we connected with this past summer, through a local friend. My daughter and myself went into Boolchands for some Pandora charms and then back into the JEEP for our short ride to return it and head back onto Explorer. (Recommended- Trident and Boolchands.) A good time to add that no one is carded or asked for age identification when ordering alcohol on any of these islands at beaches and they happily served my 18 yr old son anything he wanted.

 

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Dinner dress was casual. Most folks were still dressed beautifully. Even on casual nights, ladies had on dresses (not beach dresses), men had on dark trousers or khakis and nice shirts. We didn’t see much of the rumored shorts and tee shirts on any given evening. The baby shrimp salad and cheddar cheese sticks were very good. Mustard crusted beef and Singapore noodles were excellent. The wait staff danced and sang around the MDR.

 

 

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Evening entertainment was Wild, Cool and Swinging, there was Rock Climbing under the Stars, again a singles gathering, Salsa, guitar and other music. There was Caroling on the Promenade at 10:45 and a Midnight Mass for those that observe.

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Thanks, so much!:)

 

 

9 days to go! Going through 5,000 pictures is crazy!! lol

 

And here I thought we were off the wall by taking "only" 2,200 pictures, with four cameras for the two of us.

 

Philipsburg? St. Thomas????

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Day 7 @ Sea

Christmas Day Formal tonight.

I think it was around here that we missed the Wash & fold Special by one day. Fill a laundry bag they give to you for $20 or $25 (less with a coupon from the diamond booklet). We asked our attendant if she could take 2 bags full even though we missed giving it to her the night before & she quickly asked her supervisor and was given clearance to take our 2 laundry bags full for the special. She was excellent. On the last day of the cruise we contacted her supervisor to let her know just how wonderful she was.

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I hear Santa arrived on the pool deck around 9:00am and was then found giving gifts to the little ones at Studio B. An event I am sure was nice. There was a SNOWMAN right outside of Studio B, a great sight on board! J There was a morning Catholic Mass, 8am.

 

There were bloops and blunders throughout the cruise. Things like, on this day we noticed a huge marquis by guest relations. The top read: Bar Service Hours and Designated smoking bars and lounges, BUT – the sheet attached to it under glass read: Day 7 with a list of Activities. Nothing in relation to Bars, Hours or Services or Smoking! Lol A good time to mention that the Cruise Compass had its fair share of blunders too!

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Here I will mention that it is $7.95 a minute to call home from the ship telephones. From the compass- other than Santa, on Christmas day there was a family Skate, body sculpt boot camp, Yoga, Walk for Wishes (Please do this it is a wonderful thing. Even if you don’t want to walk, please buy a T shirt for just $10.00 as a donation), 10am movie, It’s a wonderful life, holiday Face Painting, family table tennis. In the afternoon there was Trivia, pool games, ice skating, Poker in the casino, another movie, Line dance Lessons, win a Cruise Slot Tournament, Twelve Days of Christmas game show, more talks on ports and team trivia.

 

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And here I thought we were off the wall by taking "only" 2,200 pictures, with four cameras for the two of us.

 

Philipsburg? St. Thomas????

And the coordinating of the cameras takes a ton of time too. We took the Olympus indestructable water camera to the beach, but most other pictures on the Nikon.

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And here I thought we were off the wall by taking "only" 2,200 pictures, with four cameras for the two of us.

 

Philipsburg? St. Thomas????

 

 

 

LOL At Me!! I just scrolled down to reread all my posts and found MY BLOOP! Thanks, Dave! At least I know someone is reading this!

 

Correction, we drove back to towne, Charlotte Amalie from Sapphire......where we shopped for a watch for DSs 18th Birthday.

 

A "duh" moment. I wrote all day yesterday, proofread some, but not all and probably wouldnt have found this. Thanks again Dave!

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Christmas Day dinner.....

 

The dinner menu tonight was red with pretty snowflakes. I thought it was interesting and odd, but yet with good intention but lacking little effort that they included Hanukkah on the Christmas dinner menu. To this I say, “Adam Goldstein, your mother would NOT be proud….” If she knew you served this so-called chicken consommé with “matzo balls”. Honestly, it isn’t tough to put out banquet matzo balls, believe me. And, this leads me to the poor display of Brisket. Again, Mr Goldstein, if your mother only knew how bad it was. Epic Fail. Maybe it was our entire table that had high expectations when we read the offerings of matzo balls, brisket and noodle kugel . Our wonderful waiter looked oddly at us when we asked him to bring the noodle kugel out with the meal, as we’re accustomed. Then we all gasped in unison & in fright when he did and it was a cold dessert. [note: we all should have realized this considering it was on the dessert menu?] Okay, so we all ordered other meals because the brisket was that bad and the filet my smart son ordered looked amazing to the rest of us now.

We enjoyed after dinner drinks every night, tonight was a Blue-eyed Blonde. [i need color contacts [/font]J]

 

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Since it was formal night, it was No smoking night at the Casino. Music was around the same tonight, 10pm-10:45 was Big Band Christmas orchestra music on the promenade. Music! Music! Music! And, at midnight, a holiday bonanza grand prize drawing in the casino. I don’t know what this was, but our friend had to be there and couldn’t miss the drawing!

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GREAT JOB on your review so far !!

 

It's great reliving this cruise over again...my whole family loved the 14 days and are depressed we can't book it for next year.:(

 

RCCL...wake up...trying to make more money by splitting it into two 7 day cruises is a total blunder. NCL already has 2 ships doing the same thing out of Manhattan for less $$.:confused:

 

End of rant...please continue with your review !! :D

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Day 8 Country & Western Night!

Barbados - -

You mean “Security” got us in trouble? Ok, not as bad as it sounds, but this was our second time to Barbados and why does getting taxi-van service seem to be troublesome? We asked security if there was any where specific to get transport to Accra/Rockley. He got on his walkie talkie and had an empty van right to us where we were standing w/ him in seconds. I don’t know what happened from there, but the driver, security person and 2 others got into an argument and OUT of the van we went. We continued walking towards the line of taxi vans waiting when someone asked where we wanted to go- we told them and they motioned us to a single car waiting to take just 4 to a beach. Off we went. We arranged when he should return and he was there at least 30 minutes before our arranged time (as it started to rain heavily and DH had just been up towards the pkg area to look for food and saw the driver already waiting). I wish getting a simple ride to the beach wasn’t so competitive!

 

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This is the area I would suggest. My friend and fellow roll call buddy Amalia and her family hung in this area and the report was the sand into the ocean was soft sans the rock-thing that was evident at the other end towards the Bar K.nei area.

 

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We decided on Accra/Rockley beach after hearing about it and reading reviews and looking at maps. We got there around 10:30ish. I hadn’t realized this was a public beach. It might be fine for some, but when on holiday, we much prefer private beaches. Now, in retrospect I should have realized there was no entrance fee, so it was public. We walked the entire beach, entrance to Rockley down to the bar K.nai area.

 

[we shouldnt have walked down the beach, it was nicer at the entrance area]

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We rented chairs midway on the beach. We thought the rum punch at Bar K’Nai were not so good and masked with too much angostura. The kids ate chicken fingers (nuggets) there, waited 45 minutes for them and they were basic crap. The beach itself is nice, but I think Carlisle bay is definitely nicer. If you enjoy hanging out in the water, make sure you are at the opposite end of the beach from the Bar K’Nei area. Our friends who were at this part of this beach said the sand was nicer and there was NO huge rock formation to have to get over to get somewhere where there is soft sand bottom. As the day moved along this beach got more and more crowded with local folks staying on the island for their holiday. Folks put down towels next to us, then rented a lounge chair and umbrella. Then came out the half dozen coolers and 2 dozen more family. I really couldn’t wait to leave. Having to navigate over “the rock”, to find a place to get your footing to enjoy the ocean really put a damper on the day. As DS said, it got better when we blew up our floats and were able to float over the rock.

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In retrospect, a fair to decent day, but that’s about it. If you’re spoiled, go to Harbor lights at Carlisle Bay, everyone was raving about their time spent there.

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GREAT JOB on your review so far !!

 

It's great reliving this cruise over again...my whole family loved the 14 days and are depressed we can't book it for next year.:(

 

RCCL...wake up...trying to make more money by splitting it into two 7 day cruises is a total blunder. NCL already has 2 ships doing the same thing out of Manhattan for less $$.:confused:

 

End of rant...please continue with your review !! :D

 

No problem. Rant away regarding next years,,,, or lack of next years (This year!!) 2011 holiday cruise. RCI has upset a lot of folks who have gone on this cruise year after year. Now they're (we're) all going to scatter across different ships...and yes some to different cruise lines.

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Really enjoying this review and the photos. We will be sailing on Explorer for the first time at the end of Feb. (Actually our 1st Royal Caribbean cruise!) Nice to see first hand the places we are visiting, although our itinerary is slightly different as we are going on a 12 day voyage. Looking forward to the rest of the "trip"! Thanks again!!

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