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Review of EXPLORER: 9 Night Bermuda/Caribbean April 18-27, 2013


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INTRODUCTION

Hi everyone! We are Doug and Linda from eastern Pennsylvania. We sailed on Explorer of the Seas for my 50th birthday the week of April 18-27. This is only our 2nd cruise, having sailed on Brilliance on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise in October 2010 for our 25th anniversary. We fell in love with cruising right away and were so glad we could finally sail again. (Also booked a next cruise certificate onboard so I guess we are truly hooked). I did not post a review for our first cruise and I regretted it because it was such a fantastic experience so I wanted to make sure to do one for this cruise. I have previously posted reviews on the DIS boards since prior to cruising we spent a lot of time at Disney. But now our kids are older so we will probably be cruising a lot more. We are already thinking of Alaska for 2015.

 

I started researching around January of 2012 for something to do for my 50th birthday. I really wanted to do another cruise and then I saw that Explorer sailed out of Bayonne so we would save on airfare. We were booked for Disney in June of last year for my son’s 17th birthday so I figured I would wait to book a cruise until Disney was paid in full. Since I normally don’t book big trips in back to back years, I wanted to keep the cost of the cruise down. We had a balcony room on Brilliance so of course, I wanted a balcony room again. In March of last year, the cost for a balcony was $1299 which was the top of wanted I wanted to spend. In June, when Disney was paid in full I checked the cost and it had rose $500 per person! So I ended up booking an ocean view room on Deck 2 for $1274 which was slightly less than my balcony room had I booked earlier. Oh well, live and learn – I will now book what I want right away. I told myself I would love an ocean view!

 

This is the itinerary:

 

DAY 1 – THUR, APR 18: DEPART BAYONNE, NJ 4:00PM

DAY 2 – FRI, APR 19: SEA DAY

DAY 3 – SAT, APR 20: BERMUDA 8:00AM – 5:00PM

DAY 4 – SUN, APR 21: SEA DAY

DAY 5 – MON, APR 22: ST. MARTIN 12:00PM – 9:00PM

DAY 6 – TUES, APR 23: ST. THOMAS 7:00AM – 6:00PM

DAY 7 – WED, APR 24: SAN JUAN 7:00AM – 1:00PM

DAY 8 – THUR, APR 25: SEA DAY

DAY 9 – FRI, APR 26: SEA DAY

DAY 10 – SAT, APR 27: ARRIVE BAYONNE 7:00AM

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Welcome to the land of the Hooked. Our next cruise will be our 32nd. Looking forward to your review. We are booked on a 5 night to bermuda on Explorer June 8. Haven't been on a Voyager class ship in many years. Noticed on the web site that there is a complementary venue called Jade. Is that part of the Windjammer buffet? I looked through the deck plans and couldn't find a separate venue. I'll be following your postings.

Irene

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Welcome to the land of the Hooked. Our next cruise will be our 32nd. Looking forward to your review. We are booked on a 5 night to bermuda on Explorer June 8. Haven't been on a Voyager class ship in many years. Noticed on the web site that there is a complementary venue called Jade. Is that part of the Windjammer buffet? I looked through the deck plans and couldn't find a separate venue. I'll be following your postings.

Irene

Yes, Jade is just a section of the Windjammer buffer that offers Asian items.

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APRIL 18 – DAY ONE EMBARKATION

Anyway, living in eastern PA we are a short drive from port which was a consideration when looking for a cruise. We made the decision to just drive and park at the port so we slept at home Wednesday night. We were both up bright and early on Thursday and my husband decides he wants to leave an hour earlier than he told me the night before. Of course I’m not ready and the bickering starts! We manage to leave right in the middle of both times so everyone is happy. We stopped at a Wawa and picked up breakfast sandwiches and we were on our way. It should take us about an hour to get there but with traffic it ended up being an hour and half. I had read on the boards what to do at port, so he dropped me and the luggage off while he went to park. I gave our suitcases to the porters and waited for him. We met up and headed for security. Since the rule change from our last trip, I knew we could take 2 bottles of wine. He had the camera bag; I had the 2 bottles of wine plus my backpack with passports, jewelry, medicine, etc. We breezed through security – they never even glanced at my bottles. We each could have carried two on had we wanted to.

We got in the check in line and there were 3 couples in front of us. Then it was our turn. The guy at the counter took our info, then left and was gone a bit. When he came back he looked puzzled and asked us if we had changed our rooms recently. UHM that would be NO! We looked at each other and my stomach dropped – I was imaging all sorts of problems. He said your room is now on Deck 9. I am now mentally picturing the decks I had studied and I knew that the outside rooms there were all balconies and I got a little jump of excitement. He looked it over again and said that it not only had a balcony but it was a slightly larger one! So we ended up being upgraded from a Category H Ocean View Stateroom to a Category D1 Balcony Room! SCORE!!! Happy Birthday to me!!! I was so excited and happy. We finished checking in and boarded the bus and then we were at the ship. Very quick and simple.

Once we got on board, we headed straight for the Royal Promenade to check it out since our last ship did not have one. We wandered around looking at the different venues. We were hungry but not starving since we had had the breakfast sandwiches so we decided to skip Windjammer and the crowds and went to Café Promenade. They have nice little sandwiches there which are changed daily and this became our habit. We only had lunch from Windjammer twice and both times we got it to go and ate out at the pool area. We had My Time Dining on our last cruise and loved it so we booked it again. 6:00PM is too early and 8:30 is too late. We like to eat around 7:30. We down the Promenade to the My Time Dining area and made our reservation for the evening for 7:30.

We explored some more but I was getting tired of carrying the wine and we were anxious to see our room. We sat in the Crown and Kettle and got sodas because we didn’t feel like drinking that early. Finally, we could get into our rooms and we were thrilled. We had one of the hump rooms and we LOVED the balcony. I know many people think their view is blocked because of the way the opening curves but I thought it was great. It helped block the wind. I have only one complaint and please don’t flame me for it. Our neighbors who were upwind smoked. A LOT. All day long. Guess where the smoke blew? As Forrest Gump would say, “And that’s all I have to say about that!”

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ROOM 9622 BALCONY

On the desk there was a letter in an envelope to the guests who I guess were previously going to have this room. Also a little package with cookies and dried fruit and 2 Diamond booklets – we are Gold. We took the stuff down to Guest Relations and were told we could keep the cookies. Our Gold booklets would be delivered later. I had a feeling we wouldn’t be seeing our luggage any time soon!

That taken care of, we went back to the room and dropped our stuff off. I grabbed my camera and now we were ready to party. We stopped at My Time Dining and made a 7:30 reservation. We headed up to the Sky Bar where I planned to meet a fellow CC’er. We met and chatted with Anita and Len who we would see throughout the cruise. Very nice couple!! Then we had muster drill and soon it was sailaway time! It had gotten colder and was REALLY WINDY! No matter, I wanted pictures going under the Verrazano Bridge so I would have to brave it. I got the drink of the day, Bahama Mama, for courage and faced the wind. Yeah, I know, a little too dramatic. Anyway, it was an awesome sight heading under the bridge and I snapped away. As soon as we passed under the bridge, everyone vacated the deck! It was just too chilly to stay out there.

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Edited by EMED2010
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Did you find your roll call? Your post would be better viewed there, that way people on the same cruise as you can help you :)

 

Uhm, the cruise is over - this is a review. And yes, I did roll call, went to Meet & Mingle as well.

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APRIL 18 – DAY ONE EMBARKATION – PART TWO

 

After sailaway, we headed back inside to get warm. We decided to head to Schooner’s which was our favorite bar on Brilliance. I have to say we were a bit disappointed. It didn’t have that same cozy feeling with all the rich wood and huge windows overlooking the sea. This would be our only time spent here. We ended up preferring the Crown & Kettle much more. I had one drink and then left to go unpack. Doug soon followed and by this time it was time to get ready for our MTD at 7:30.

We were seated at a table for two against the window. Our server was Gabrial from India who was excellent. We liked him so much that after dinner was over, we went to the Maitre d’ and requested the same table for 7:30 for each night except our Portofino’s night. I started out with great plans of photographing every meal. Well, even with the camera sitting on the table, I only managed to get a few pictures over the cruise. I can also give you a general idea of which menu was used each night except for two of the evenings. Tonight was MOJO.

I know there have been a lot of comments about the new menu both pro and con. I am on the Pro side. We really weren’t crazy about the food we got on Brilliance. In fact, we ended up just eating in the Specialty restaurants or Windjammer for most of the cruise. It was just the opposite on this cruise. We ate in Portofino for my birthday and Windjammer on our St. Martin night because we were just too tired.

Anyway, back to our first meal. I’m a seafood fan, so if there is seafood on the menu, that’s pretty much what I will order. I had the Smoked Fish Rillettes for my appetizer and the Seafood Spaghetti for my entrée. Both were very good – I especially liked the Seafood Spaghetti!

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SMOKED FISH RILLETTES

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SEAFOOD SPAGHETTI

Doug ordered the Seafood Spaghetti for his appetizer and the Prime Rib for his entrée. He enjoyed both, although the Prime Rib was not huge. For dessert, he ordered the Carrot Cake. I tried the BBB Crème Brulee – it was okay but a bit too sweet for me.

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CREME BRULEE WITH A BITE - SORRY:D

 

I think we wandered through the Promenade and then headed back to the room.

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Thanks Bob, that's what I thought. Last year we ate in Izumei on Oasis it was wonderful but I'm sure this isn't the same quality.

Irene

 

I'm not sure if they had sushi or not - we only ate dinner there once. At breakfast, they always had fried rice, miso soup, etc.

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Whoops, just realized my post was meant for another thread! How did that happen? Silly! :p

 

Fabulous pictures by the way ;)

 

No prob!!!:D

 

Thanks! I got a new camera in the Fall and I'm just learning how to use it. Wait 'til you see the Bermuda pics!

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Thank for the review so far. We're booked on the EOS in Dec, so I'm looking forward the rest of the report.

 

Carole

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No prob!!!:D

 

Thanks! I got a new camera in the Fall and I'm just learning how to use it. Wait 'til you see the Bermuda pics!

 

What camera are you using? We got a DSLR about 3 years ago and we won't go back to a point-and-shoot. Hubby has turned into a camera snob, lol :D

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DAY 2 - FRIDAY, APRIL 19 – SEADAY (FIRST FORMAL NIGHT)

One important thing I forgot to say that happened on our first day: LUGGAGE! So, as I said before, we were upgraded, found the Diamond members letter, etc . in our room and turned them in. I had been worried about the luggage and with good reason. At one point when we headed back to our room, we saw strange luggage in front of our door in the hallway. We checked our room and our luggage was not there. I told Doug that I bet ours was outside of our old room. So, we went down to check and there were all four pieces in the hallway. Rather than wait for it to be delivered, we just hauled it back ourselves.

Back to today. After we woke up and showered, we headed to Windjammer because our Meet & Mingle was scheduled for 9:30AM in Maharaja’s. We didn’t get our invitation because of the room change but I had known the time from being on our board. We had a fairly decent turnout and it was headed by Chris Jordan, the activities manager and another staff member. I met some very nice people, Anita and Len (who we met at the Sky Bar the day before), Cindy, Ned, Reeve, Jane, Tom. No one seemed interested in setting up cabin crawls, etc. so we just chatted a bit and left. I really think they need to go around the room and ask everyone their screen names. That way it would be much easier to interact with everyone. They didn’t even take a group shot of us – I don’t know if they are doing away with that or if Chris just wasn’t familiar with M&M.

I decided to go to the gym to work out. The setup of the gym is nice with the tread mills facing out over the bow of the ship. They had a nice selection of weights and then a separate room for spin, stretching, etc. They also had a beautiful hot tub right in the front of the room as you walk in – which was good and bad. The problem I had with this was that it made the exercise area very humid. Later in the week it made me feel lightheaded when I was biking and I ended up never going back.

Spirit of the Season Ice Show was taking place today and then again on the 21st. Since the 21st was my birthday and I wasn’t sure what I would be doing, I really wanted to attend today’s show. You are reserved for your time according to your muster station and ours was set for the 21st at 4:00PM. I had read on the boards that if you show up right before the show and there are seats available, you may go. We wandered down to Studio B on Deck 3 where the ice show is held around 3:55. The entire top tier where the tables and chairs are were available. So we sat down, ordered a drink and watched the show. If was really beautiful and worth seeing.

Tonight was formal night so we headed back to get ready. We rented tuxes on our Med cruise since it was our 25th and I wanted nice pictures. This time we just brought a jacket, 2 shirts and 2 ties for Doug. (He was not thrilled). They were having the captains reception tonight at 7:15 and our MDR reservation was for 7:30. I really wanted to try to get a picture with the captain so we headed over there early. We were able to get a picture and then headed to the MDR. It was MOBBED! Even though we had a 7:30 we had about a 20 minute wait. No biggie! We went back to the Promenade and had a couple glasses of the free champagne.

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Tonight was the Saffron menu. I ordered the Caesar salad for my app and Doug got lobster bisque. Gabrial brought us the Bay Scallop Gratin to try. It was okay, but in too much oil for my taste.

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BAY SCALLOP

For dinner I had the Grilled Salmon Vignole salad – loved it!

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GRILLED SALMOND SALAD

Doug had the Beef Tenderloin which he said was excellent. For dessert I had the “Sky High” Lemon Meringue Pie – it was good, but more like a tart.

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SKY HIGH LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Doug had the strawberry cheesecake.

We called it an early night because tomorrow was BERMUDA!!!!

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What camera are you using? We got a DSLR about 3 years ago and we won't go back to a point-and-shoot. Hubby has turned into a camera snob, lol :D

 

It was a Nikon D5100. Just got it in the Fall to take pic's of my sons last year of high school football. I used it a little at Christmas and then hadn't touched it until about a month before the cruise. I took a 3 hour class at the camera shop just to learn what all the settings were for and then I watched the video but I still have SO much to learn.

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It was a Nikon D5100. Just got it in the Fall to take pic's of my sons last year of high school football. I used it a little at Christmas and then hadn't touched it until about a month before the cruise. I took a 3 hour class at the camera shop just to learn what all the settings were for and then I watched the video but I still have SO much to learn.

 

We have the same camera, but we upgraded our lens to a 18-200mm, hubby loves it. We have a fixed 35mm that I love to use for micro shots. Good choice, keep learning, photography is a lot of fun especially when you cruise :)

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DAY 3 - SATURDAY, APRIL 20 – BERMUDA

Today was Bermuda day which was the port I was most excited about. I had ordered room service breakfast for me so I could shower and get ready without having to run to Windjammer. Doug ran up to Windjammer for his breakfast because he wanted more than room service had. I went out to the balcony to watch land start appearing and to take pictures.

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ST DAVID'S LIGHTHOUSE

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FORT ST. CATHERINES

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KING'S WHARF DOCKYARD

On our cruise we had a large group which brought their motorcycles on board. Once we were docked it was announced that they would be getting off first. When they were off, it was announced that the rest of us could now get off. We headed down and gave our Seapasses to get punched to exit and the machine made that sick sound on Doug’s card. They told him to go to Guest Services. Then mine made the same sound. Sigh. Another room change glitch. Back up we went, the girl took them and did whatever and now we could leave.

I had reserved a double scooter at Oleanders in town thanks to the recommendation from CC’er bauerdogs. It was a short walk and easy to find. After we signed papers, paid and grabbed a helmet, they told us to wait outside. An employee showed Doug how everything worked and then made him drive around the block and we were good to go.

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I know there are a lot of warnings on the boards about driving a scooter in Bermuda. It is a little scary but you just have to be careful because you are driving on the opposite side. Everyone seems to go way above the speed limit and they will pass you where it looks like there should be no room to pass. I would still do it again because it made it so easy to go where we wanted to and stop and go without having to wait for a bus to show up.

You cannot beat the scenery in Bermuda. It is absolutely incredible!

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The little white spec in the center of the above picture is Explorer.

As we were going up a slight grade I noticed we seemed to be getting slower. Doug made a comment about the bike dying. I thought he was kidding – but no! We pulled to the side. They had told us if we broke down to pull over and people would stop to help us. Yeah, right! Our cell phones were safely stored in our cabin safe since we didn’t want roaming charges. I saw a restaurant up ahead and walked to it while Doug stayed with the bike. There was an actual payphone in front of the restaurant (not the cute red kind) but it didn’t work. There was a woman sitting nearby who was very nice. She said if we turned up the street that was nearby, there was a lighthouse where we could make a call. Doug got the bike going in the meantime. He is not an idiot when it comes to engines and has rebuilt some in his day. He said that it seemed like it would seize when it would get hot so we should still probably swap it out. We turned up the road to Gibbs Lighthouse where I was planning on stopping anyway. I made the call and they said they would be there in a half hour. I wanted to climb the lighthouse to take some pictures while we waited.

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Well done you in getting the upgrade. :) I would of liked one for my birthday too.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

I know. I wish you could have gotten one too. I remember how you were hoping before the cruise.

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DAY 3 - SATURDAY, APRIL 20 – BERMUDA continued

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The bike guy came, swapped the bikes and with that we were back on our way. We headed to Horseshoe Bay. This is so incredibly beautiful. I just wish it would have been warm enough to swim. I know some people were in the water but I like my water to be at least 80 degrees.

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DAY 3 - SATURDAY, APRIL 20 – BERMUDA continued

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I BELIEVE THIS IS A PARROT FISH.

We continued on and stopped for lunch at the original Swizzle Inn. I had to have a rum swizzle!

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We headed to the causeway after lunch but decided not to go to St. George because of the time. The breakdown plus getting off the ship later because of the motorcycles and card trouble lost us a bit of time. Here are some pics from near the causeway. The reddish looking stuff is EXTREMELY squishy. I sunk and my poor white sneakers turned red.

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