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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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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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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

;);)

 

 

 

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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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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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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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