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(Not) Live from the Explorer of the Seas, March 2014


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This is fabulous. I'm on Explorer in July and reading this is just making the wait so much longer! Thank you for such a great review!

 

Thanks, Master Windu;) - glad you're enjoying it!

 

The only sad thing about day 5 (on an 8-night cruise) is... you're over the hump... less cruise ahead of you than behind you...

 

But there are still three fun days to go... hang on for more descriptions and pictures...

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View of the Cabin (must be mine, notice the "bubble TV")

 

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Tom on the Treadmill

 

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Selfie Sunset

 

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Formal Night Photo in the Atrium

 

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And One with Mama!

 

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Which deck were you on??

 

 

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Loving this review! I was on the 3/2/2014 sailing of the Explorer and miss every second of it. How was the Belly Flop Contest?! I participated in that and came in 2nd! (and i'm like 100 pounds) Looking forward to more. That's great that people left their table to join yours. I have been lucky with good tablemates my 2 times on the Explorer and 1X on Carnival Pride but if I got stuck with a bad table I would be out of there so fast haha. Having a good table with good people you get along with , I feel, is essential.

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Loving this review! I was on the 3/2/2014 sailing of the Explorer and miss every second of it. How was the Belly Flop Contest?! I participated in that and came in 2nd! (and i'm like 100 pounds) Looking forward to more. That's great that people left their table to join yours. I have been lucky with good tablemates my 2 times on the Explorer and 1X on Carnival Pride but if I got stuck with a bad table I would be out of there so fast haha. Having a good table with good people you get along with , I feel, is essential.

 

So glad you're enjoying it, Daniel. Yeah, we've generally been very lucky with our dining companions. Barbara and Peter were a delight -- and I was thrilled for Ariel and Tom that we found some age-mates for them as well (and that Barbara and Peter graciously welcomed them to our dinner table). Most of it is common -- or perhaps not-so-common -- courtesy. We all ate in the MDR every night, and the one night Barbara and Peter planned to eat in Portofinos, they let us, and the waiters, know two days in advance, so we wouldn't wonder where they were, wait for them unnecessarily, etc. A little flexibility, a little consideration, a little social sharing, and you've got a lovely dining experience.

 

On Disney, I asked the Maitre D to seat us with a family with similar-age young people (my kids were in their late teens at that time, and I didn't want to be at a table with grade-schoolers) -- they sat us with a family with young people in their early twenties... and we are all friends to this day, visiting each other in NYC and Pennsylvania, getting together when we're all in Orlando at the same time (they have a Disney timeshare, we have a Hilton timeshare)... I LOVE making friends at dinner -- and elsewhere on a cruise!!:D

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DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY MAR. 26 – PORT CANAVERAL – 7AM to 11PM

 

(Well, it COULD'VE been exotic... I mean, we could've gone to Japan and China (in Epcot)... or Germany, Italy, France, Morocco, Norway, England... even places I've been on cruises, namely Mexico and Canada!...)

 

(Seriously, with dozens of Florida land trips in my history, I was worried this would be a truly wasted port stop... but as you will see, we had a GREAT day!!)

 

Up early to get to PASSPORT CONTROL at 7:15 AM in the deck 5 dining room. The lines were wrapped across the Promenade and up the stairs at the other end of the ship. I waited in the Promenade Café for Ariel and Tom to appear, and we made it through by 8:15 (!!)… guess they were a little behind schedule. We went back to the cabin to drop off our passports, then up to the Windjammer for breakfast: Lox, bagel, cream cheese, red onion, capers, tomato + pineapple and melon, 1 hardboiled egg, and OJ and coffee. I love that you can pick a different breakfast each day (omelette one day, pancakes the next, lox and bagel, hot cereal, etc., etc.) – or eat your favorite thing every day. There’s something there for everyone, and enough choices that you can have a good variety if that’s what you like to do. (Aha, here's where I wrote about this!!)

 

Back to the cabin to pick up our bags, then met in the Aquarium bar and walked off deck 4, jumped on the Thrifty Van to the rental office (quite a long drive from the port!) – Carol drove the Chevy Captiva for us to Universal Studios Theme Park. There, we met up with her son David, who is a professional dancer – he performs full-time at SeaWorld and had a new gig in the Universal Parade – turns out today would be he first day performing!! Ariel and Tom got a 2-park ticket and started the day in Islands of Adventure, so they could do the Harry Potter ride and some of the scarier roller coaster rides like Hulk and Dueling Dragons.

 

Ariel and Tom deciding where to go (nope, they didn't make up their minds until RIGHT NOW)

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Islands of Adventure map (Ariel and Tom went here)

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Universal Studios map

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Carol, David and I headed over to Universal for the day. We started out by watching the Animal Actors show, and going on the classic ET ride. Always easy to get on this ride now... I remember when the line took forever, and there was a pretty good pre-show as you walked through the forest. Now you can practically run right onto the ride.

 

Talented animal actors

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Boarding Passes -- ET Phone home!

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Fuzzy ET on his home planet

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Edited by EmpressofPurple
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After E.T., we walked over for lunch at Lombards (a lovely upscale-ish seafood restaurant) – I shared mussels with David, and ordered whole belly clams with waffle fries… I usually avoid fried sea¬food, but I LOVE whole belly clams, and they’re not often in season. David had a seafood salad – ah, dancers! – and Carol didn’t eat!! (I guess the hefty amount of food they give us on the ship is more than enough for some of us… sure saves money in port, I spent a fair sum on that lunch…)

 

Walking past the Simpsons Ride (newly themed food stands)

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Crossing the bridge on the way to the now-gone Amity area, home of the defunct Jaws ride (the grey New England coastal saltbox style building on the water is a handy restroom)... but you can see the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley construction in the background.

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(They're doing something really sneaky: Hogwarts and the Harry Potter ride are in the Islands of Adventure, there's a Hogwarts Express Train that goes from there to Diagon Alley, which will be located in Universal Studios... so if you want to see both of them, you have to buy a two-park ticket! I sure hope Disney never develops a combined attraction like that which would force you to get the more expensive "park hopper" tickets -- we usually just plan out our attraction tours to be able to spend the whole day in a single park. Anyway...)

 

 

Lombard's Restaurant. There used to be an "earthquake" attraction nearby (now "Disaster"), and the seaside melded from Jaws-New England to San Francisco-Fisherman's Wharf... and this was the seafood restaurant that connected them.

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Molded butter pats with the restaurant name. (An aside: my late father would have been APPALLED that cruises served butter in FOIL WRAPPERS. The horrors! THIS is the only way that butter should be served. And yes, we had fancy butter molds with flowers, leaves, etc., which we would use for dinner parties. I knew how to make crustless cucumber sandwiches before I was six. Don't ask.)

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Mmm whole belly clams (and mussels)

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After lunch, we went over to join the line for MIB (David had to leave us to get ready for the parade, the line was so long… if we had known, we would have gotten into the single-rider line, there was virtually no wait there). The ride was fun, a 3D shooter ride similar to Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with decent pre-ride theming. When we got out, Ariel and Tom called us, they had come over from Islands and were on line at Transformers. We saw them there, but didn’t dare get on line with them – we wanted to get a good spot for the parade to make sure we could see David. We walked through the Twister attraction, got a spot on a park bench at the corner where we could wait for the parade at 5pm. Perfect spot!!

 

Carol's son with his park employee ID -- Thanks David for sharing your employee discount with us today!!:)

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Some pre-ride theming at MIB (Noisy cricket?)

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Idikiukup and Bob

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Entrance to Twister

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Edited by EmpressofPurple
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The parade floats stopped and the dancers performed right in front of us. We cheered on David, who was truly demented as a “minion volunteer” – brilliant character performance as well as talented and energetic dancing, great interaction with the park guests, especially the kids and families. I really admire the performers and what they do in the parks for all of us. When the floats started moving to the next stop, we rushed through the “back way” to arrive ahead of their NEXT stop, across from Mel’s diner. Again, a perfect spot to enjoy the show and cheer David on. (Ariel and Tom ran over to enjoy the Simpsons ride while Carol and I took more pictures of David!)

 

Tom and Ariel get through the Transformers ride in time to join us in the park and wait for the Parade to arrive -- we have a great location!

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Gru and the Minion float arrive...

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And David struts his stuff as a "minion volunteer"

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Running around to greet the parade in front of Mel's Diner

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The float arrives (again)!

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Go David, Go David!!

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My son, David, as a "minion recruit" in the parade:

 

(He is on the far right)

 

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He has now also started performing in the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue:

 

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(Sorry for semi-hijacking your review thread, Denise. Just a very PROUD Mom here. ;) )

 

So, if you are going to Universal Studios, look for him!

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I bet the dancers were glad it was a little overcast and cool today...

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On a hot day, that's a LOT of dancing

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They're still going...

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...and going...

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Then they started dancing on the far side of the float...

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Ending with a lift!

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Such a shame I didn't get pictures of the high kicks and other fun choreography. Notice that the dancers do NOT get on the floats, and the minions don't get off... they're very careful so the performers don't get injured interacting with the large moving vehicles.

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Hooray!

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Still going...

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More demented than ever!

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(David did warn us in advance that the director said if they took a good picture they weren't doing they're job right -- they're supposed to look really strange. Well, good work, David!!)

 

(Whew, I'm exhausted just looking at these, there were a dozen more photos before this one...)

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Proud mama Carol taking pictures of her talented son!

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Oh yeah, there were some other floats in the parade, too... roller skating fish, anyone?

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He has now also started performing in the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue:

 

DavidBeetlejuiceGraveyardRevueUniversalStudiosOrlandoApril2014_zps523e7332.jpg

 

(Sorry for semi-hijacking your review thread, Denise. Just a very PROUD Mom here. ;) )

 

So, if you are going to Universal Studios, look for him!

 

No apologies needed, thanks for sharing the Beetlejuice photo, that show looks amazing!! It was SO much fun hearing about the "behind the scenes" life of the performers in the parks. xoxoxo David!!!

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Afterwards we relaxed a bit, charged our phones, said farewell and thanks to David (who had shared his employee discount with us for our park tickets and souvenir shopping… I bought a minion magnet to remember his show!)… back through the parking lot to our car, drove to Port Canaveral where we gassed up, left the keys in a drop box (the lot was long closed), grabbed a cab which circled the lot after closing time and headed back to the port.

 

On the moving walkway heading back to the car.

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It had been COLD all day… we were only warm briefly waiting for the parade while standing in the sun. We were wearing our travel clothes from NYC… and by the time we got back to the port, I think it was forty degrees outside!! We ran shivering from door to door until we finally were allowed to enter the EMPTY lobby… and when Carol and I ducked under the Disney-type barriers, the CRAZY security guard made us WAIT until the TWO PEOPLE at the very far end of the snake-like lanes arrived before we could pass through. Ridiculous!!

 

Once we were aboard, we made a quick pit stop at the cabin to change clothes and head down to dinner… with Carol! She had early dining, so we convinced her to join us in the one remaining empty seat at our table for eight for dinner tonight. She knew Barbara and Peter from Trivia, of course, as well as Heather and Brian, and it was a treat to have her with us… she even ordered her many bottles of wine (D+ gifts) to share with everyone at the table, which I’m sure they appreciated.

 

Dinner: the BASIL menu - Smoked duck breast, pear & arugula salad with an AMAZING dressing; cream of mushroom soup; surf and turf (fillet mignon with shrimp); strawberry trifle and coffee.

 

BASIL menu

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Desserts

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We checked with our waiter and headwaiter to assure that Kumar and Juan would get their share of tips for serving all these extra people (despite their assurances that they didn’t want them… I guess they didn’t want to cause problems with the original waiters for Heather, Brian, and for tonight, Carol). We also learned there’s a midnight buffet tonight… but since it’s so cold outside, raining on and off, it will probably be on the Promenade rather than the pool deck. We’ll see. After dinner I went back to the room and watched the end of Wreck It Ralph and the start of Monsters University (which ended suddenly in the middle with random Royal Caribbean commercials).

 

Tonight's delightful towel animal was there to greet me

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At 11:30 I checked the compass, since I thought the “midnight buffet” might start a little early… and saw that it actually ran from 10:45-11:30!! Grrr, it started barely half and hour after we finished dinner! I went out and looked at the Promenade from the elevator bank, and it was empty. Brr, it must be on the pool deck! I took the elevator up to the 11th floor, and they were already cleaning up the food. I managed to snag 2 chicken wings, some guacamole, 1 meatball, a tiny cinnamon roll, a bag of fresh popcorn and a banana. Not bad! Back to room to enjoy my snack while reading, then to sleep.

 

(OOPS!! I realize I posted the above dessert menu with yesterday's dinner... here is the correct dessert listing for the Shiitake menu)

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Edited by EmpressofPurple
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With such a long port day, the Compass offerings were fairly slim today. They promoted big band and ballroom dancing plus dancing under the stars (that was poolside with the freezing buffet at 10:30)… some trivia games which we missed of course because we were at the theme parks… adult basketball… mystery dinner theater (held in Portofino’s with a reduced menu plus wine for $55 including tip)… Singin’ in the Rain in the Screening Room… and that’s about it!!

 

Day 6 Compass

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Page 2

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Page 3

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Page 4 - slim pickins on a long port day...

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Daily Offers

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Side Two

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So whaddaya think, BabyRock, did we make the most of a fairly plebeian port stop?

 

I was concerned that spending a day at a theme park (especially with an hour's drive back and forth to the port) would not be a good use of our time... but it actually worked out really well.

 

If Carol's son hadn't been performing, we might have used one of our leftover "fun" days on our fully-used-up Disney passes, which would have given us free admission to a water park (brrrr, way too cold for that), mini-golf (not cost-effective use of those admissions, as minigolf only costs $15 vs. $50+ for the water parks) or DisneyQuest, the indoor AI-type gaming venue in Downtown Disney (we've been there before, it's kinda boring)... or we might have just gone to Ron Jon and the beach (double brrrrr!)... I'm really glad we were able to go to Universal at a discount and enjoy a couple of rides and that great parade!!

 

Well, that's it for tonight... Carol, I know you're the late owl who' just starting to read the boards, but I'm packing it in at this late hour... busy day at work tomorrow (at least I hope so)...

 

Just two more days to go, folks!! Sigh. I'm really enjoying this chance to re-live the cruise once more by sharing it with all of you in words and pictures.

 

Good night,

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So whaddaya think, BabyRock, did we make the most of a fairly plebeian port stop?

 

 

 

I was concerned that spending a day at a theme park (especially with an hour's drive back and forth to the port) would not be a good use of our time... but it actually worked out really well.

 

 

 

If Carol's son hadn't been performing, we might have used one of our leftover "fun" days on our fully-used-up Disney passes, which would have given us free admission to a water park (brrrr, way too cold for that), mini-golf (not cost-effective use of those admissions, as minigolf only costs $15 vs. $50+ for the water parks) or DisneyQuest, the indoor AI-type gaming venue in Downtown Disney (we've been there before, it's kinda boring)... or we might have just gone to Ron Jon and the beach (double brrrrr!)... I'm really glad we were able to go to Universal at a discount and enjoy a couple of rides and that great parade!!

 

 

 

Well, that's it for tonight... Carol, I know you're the late owl who' just starting to read the boards, but I'm packing it in at this late hour... busy day at work tomorrow (at least I hope so)...

 

 

 

Just two more days to go, folks!! Sigh. I'm really enjoying this chance to re-live the cruise once more by sharing it with all of you in words and pictures.

 

 

 

Good night,

 

 

Did they offer $1 blackjack during the cruise? I'm headed on explorer in about 7 days!

 

 

 

about 7 days

 

 

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Did they offer $1 blackjack during the cruise? I'm headed on explorer in about 7 days!

 

 

 

about 7 days

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

 

Alas I did not notice the blackjack rates, but roulette is $1 bets, $5 for even odds, no minimum bet overall.

 

Have a great cruise!! :-)

 

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