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


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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!! :-)

 

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Forums mobile app

 

 

Cool thanks! Majesty had the $1 bets on blackjack the last time we sailed. Oh well I'm gonna play regardless.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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I was wonder if on any of your cruises (on Expl) or this one, have you every done any of the behind the scenes tour on Exp.? We will be in the GS and usually get lots of invites that we never do. We will be with out GChildren and was wondering if there are do not miss tours?

 

Thanks for your great review. Look forward to reading it every morn. with my coffee.

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A very good review...also some very good pictures! Thanks.

 

PS. I would have missed most of those trivia questions as well.

 

Be still oh my heart! A celebrity has graced these pages... SailorJack, I am a HUGE fan of your reviews... only wish I had your natural comedic talents. Sigh. Some of us just write it as we see it (and hopefully with enough detail that you can see it, too)... but some of us can make the reader laugh out loud during the process!! Ooh, I'm so glad all your reviews are in your sig line, I'm going to go re-read some right now and get a giggle:)

 

Seriously, thanks for dropping by. I can't wait till we meet IRL on the high seas.

 

(And thanks for the reassurance about the trivia questions... some of them were HARD!)

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I noticed you mentioned the thalassotherapy pool. I am so thrilled because I loved that on the Adventure, but trying to get more information as it looks to be different from the one on AOS. Is it separate from the pool in the Solarium? (Maybe it was the Serenade. That's my problem, I loved it and can't remember which ship it was on. So I am excited that the Explorer has one)

 

One other stupid question, how was the coffee and is it still Seattles Best in the Cafe Promenade? I have read that they have taken that out on the ships that have been redone. I was hoping since this won't be redone until right after we get off, that they still have it. I'm too cheap to pay for coffee, plus Starbucks is just too strong for me.

Edited by choozin' cruzin'
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I noticed you mentioned the thalassotherapy pool. I am so thrilled because I loved that on the Adventure' date=' but trying to get more information as it looks to be different from the one on AOS. Is it separate from the pool in the Solarium? (Maybe it was the Serenade. That's my problem, I loved it and can't remember which ship it was on. So I am excited that the Explorer has one)

 

One other stupid question, how was the coffee and is it still Seattles Best in the Cafe Promenade? I have read that they have taken that out on the ships that have been redone. I was hoping since this won't be redone until right after we get off, that they still have it. I'm too cheap to pay for coffee, plus Starbucks is just too strong for me.[/quote']

 

Thalassotherapy pool is basically a huge hot tub, located inside the (beautiful) gym... right next to the male/female changing rooms with the (free) saunas and steam rooms inside... it is indoors, indeed very separate from the pool in the open-air Solarium (which also has two regular-sized hot tubs).

 

Coffee onboard is pretty much sludge... I drank it regularly, I should know!:) Honestly, it's not that bad if you get it when they make a fresh pot in the Café Prom, but if you're catching it at the end, it's undrinkable. I've never paid for Starbucks onboard, though... this trip, I brought a travel-sized container which I filled with sugar-free salted caramel flavoring (which I had bought on sale at Marshalls for $1!!!) -- made every cup taste delish.

 

(Ahh, can't wait for the refurb... I'll spend my days in the Diamond Lounge the way I did on Oasis, two-fisting free cappuccinos, yummmmmmm....)

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Coffee onboard is pretty much sludge... I drank it regularly, I should know!:) Honestly, it's not that bad if you get it when they make a fresh pot in the Café Prom, but if you're catching it at the end, it's undrinkable. I've never paid for Starbucks onboard, though... this trip, I brought a travel-sized container which I filled with sugar-free salted caramel flavoring (which I had bought on sale at Marshalls for $1!!!) -- made every cup taste delish.

 

(Ahh, can't wait for the refurb... I'll spend my days in the Diamond Lounge the way I did on Oasis, two-fisting free cappuccinos, yummmmmmm....)

 

Sounds like no more Seattles Best...:p:(. That was the only place you could get decent coffee. It's not like I'm a huge coffee drinker, but when I do, I like it good. Enough on that subject.:) thanks for the info.

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Okay, on with the review:

 

DAY 7 – Thursday, March 27 - AT SEA.

 

I had planned to sleep in today… but I woke up at 6:30 anyway, so just got up, got dressed and went to the stretch and abs classes, then 20 minutes on the treadmill, easy peasy (alternating 30 seconds running with 1 minute walking), my shins were aching after all the theme park walking in the cold (in my capris!) yesterday. Afterwards a couple of weight machines (delts/pecs, leg extend/curl, shoulder/chest press).

 

Red sky at morning, sailor take warning

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(Red sky at night, sailor's delight)

 

Back to cabin by 8:30, I call Ariel and Tom re: MDR breakfast, shower and dress and on our way by 9am. The line to get in went very fast, we were seated with a quiet elderly couple, and a teen with mom & dad. I finally started some conversations (sigh)… they were all a bit quiet, but I asked them about their outings the day before in Port Canaveral, and they all opened up and smiled. Breakfast: (I stopped by the Diamond breakfast room first, and they brought me 2 cappucinos!!) plus I had prunes, figs and a grapefruit half… prune juice… onion bacon quiche (just to try something different)… and a bran muffin.

 

We left to join in Morning Trivia at 10am (sigh, second place again!) – then up to Dizzy’s to read and look out at the shifting horizon and overflowing pool (and families on the jogging deck) while Ariel and Tom found the rock wall was closed due to weather conditions so they played putt-put instead. Kind of a shame to be on a cruise where we really can’t enjoy the beautiful open decks, just too cold and windy, sometimes even rainy. Oh well, nice chance to explore the ship, artwork in the stairwells and elevator lobbies, the music on the Promenade, trivia, little nooks and crannies.

 

Watching the shifting horizon, and waves in the pools, from Dizzys

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Guess it was a little cold on the links...

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Ooh, Tom got a hole in one!

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Ariel and Tom came to pick me up and we went to the win-a-cruise Bingo game. I had a single game which was a prize in one of our Trivia games… Tom bought the (expensive) automatic bingo machine, and I purchased some of the add-on paper games with that, plus a punch-out (like a scratch-off) card… we came very close several times, but no wins, alas – that would’ve been a GREAT first cruise experience for Tom, I’m really sorry we didn’t win something, at least cash if not the Caribbean Cruise for two…

 

People lined up to buy Bingo cards (and machines)

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Tom wants to win a cruise in Bingo!

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After Bingo, we ran to the MDR just in time for lunch… we saw Larry and Karen (the couple I had sat with on the Promenade at sailaway from Nassau, and that we had met at lunch before) in the entryway and called to them, “Oh, there you are! We were looking for you.” They looked VERY nervous, so we said that we were just trying to get them farther up on the long line. Once we were seated, they told a story which explained why they seemed so nervous: apparently there was a woman at their dining table who had literally been stalking them! Found their cabin number, moved her cabin to be near them, sounds like she was a little crazy, talking to them in a very weird way. They changed tables to get away from her, so naturally they were a little skittish when they heard we were “looking for them”!!!

 

We were seated with a lovely young couple, Cathy and Greg – well, wow, seemingly young, they said they had 4 kids in 7, 9, 11th grade and college!! Tom and I each ordered she-carb soup PLUS three entrees!! For me: Gnocchi (meh), calamari salad (yum) and grilled trout (the best, and what I would have ordered if I’d only had one meal)… plus an amazing meringue with pastry cream for dessert.

 

All the food in the world (or at least the MDR)

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Mmm meringue with pastry cream

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We rushed off from lunch to cheer on Carol who had received a free entry into the slot tournament (apparently from dropping lots of coin into the penny slots over the course of the cruise, and remembering to put in her seapass while she played). Peter and Barbara came to cheer her on as well… but Carol came in last, boo hoo.

 

We went to Schooner Bar for the 3:15 tri-bond trivia, playing with the same couple from the AM trivia, Cheryl & John, an odd couple who enjoyed both camping and cruising (and who are also tired of the blah-blah-blah too much talking trivia leaders, just read the clues and move on!!). We had 14 out of 15, but several had 15… and both the clues and the answers were WEIRD, too general such as “coffee, tea, hot chocolate” = hot drinks, or “cruise division, shore excursions, guest services” = departments on the ship. Eh? Then people started challenging the ans-wers… and the leader was open to changing the rules!!!! The game became more like Majority Rules than Trivia.

 

I left, slightly annoyed, and went to my room to read and dress for the Top Tier C&A party, where I was looking forward to being presented with my first crystal block. Nope, they started at 210 points and went up from there. I spoke to the LA, who first said, “Oh yes, there’s one other with 140,” and then said, “Oh no, we can’t give those out at the event there would be dozens.” What is it, one other or dozens more? Sigh. Anyway, I was assured I would be sent the block in my cabin… but no photo with the handsome young captain. Pooh! Ariel and Tom danced (at Carol’s urging), drank some of the free drinks, then we all headed back to our cabins to freshen up before the pre-dinner show and second formal dinner. I finished Divergent, which I was reading onboard in preparation for seeing the movie when we get home (which came out the day we set sail).

 

Ariel and Tom applaud the band after dancing a bit

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Ariel and Tom decided to go out with Brian and Heather to a liquor tasting on the Promenade and maybe watch the show from the balcony, so I headed down to the front row, where I sat with the front-row regulars Lana (from the first day boot camp class in boots, once again looking very classy for formal night), plus father and daughter Steve and Megan. It was a great dance show, “Fast Forward,” based on movie musicals (same as last time we were on the Explorer two years ago) featuring Flashdance, Footloose, Grease and Saturday Night Fever.

 

A couple of shots from the show... the featured dance couple:

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Group number (that looks like Grease...)

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Flashdance

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(There were a LOT more numbers in this show, but alas my phone doesn't catch the fast movements of the dancers, so most of my pictures are too blurry to be worth posting.)

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Well, maybe I can post a few more...

 

Weird Mondrian-like costumes and stage set for opening number (notice the musicians in the boxes on the back wall)

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lightly clothed male dancers, anyone? F27TW, any comments?

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Why are we in the desert? What is she wearing? Who's that in the background?

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Singing and Dancing

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And then to end, the two ladies beckoning you to come to the Casino. On our 2012 cruise, as we entered, I said to Ariel, "Oh look, there's lady luck," to which she replied, "And lady whore." I reminded her of this story on this cruise and she laughed, not remembering this exchange... I always thought it was because the ladies were so scantily clad... but when she looked at them, she said no, it was because one of them was fairly demure (lady luck, I imagine... or lady no luck, depending on your point of view)...

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while the other one was positively come-hither in posture and attitude! (aha, lady whore!)

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After the show (and the drinking on the Promenade) we all met at dinner (no Barbara and Peter, though, they’re at Portofino’s tonight). Our Second Formal Dinner: Wow, I have NO record of tonight’s dinner! Looking at the menus, it’s the JASMINE menu – also known as “Lobster Night” (or Fisherman’s plate)… I had the creamed wild mushroom starter (and I think the cold roasted peach soup)… and yes, I had two lobster tails… PLUS the Prime Rib… not sure what I had for dessert… baked alaska? No, I think it was coconut and lychee gateaux by the photo...

 

Creamed wild mushrooms

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Lobster Tail

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Prime Rib

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Unidentified Cake

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JASMINE Menu

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Desserts

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After dinner, I stopped by the room to change clothes, then down to the Quest. (We encouraged RCI newbies Heather and Brian to join us, but they never arrived; we regaled them with tales of our exploits at dinner the next night.) Studio B was PACKED!! People in the aisles, back, bar, stairs, everywhere. Miraculously, I managed to get a single seat in Ariel and Tom’s section – yes, they were team leaders for Section 8, along with another young couple. This was the worst corner – no way to access the floor except by vaulting over the rail… and climbing back when you’re done. And of course, I contributed multiple items: (1) A seapass (1 of 6 require)… (2) a $50 bill (picture of Grant)… (3) a lady with a split (yep, I got that)… (4) a bra (well, I had one!!)… (5) wearing a man’s shirt and vice versa (with an energetic gent from the front row, who helped me climb back over rather than running up down and around)… and to dress up our team leader at the end, I contributed (6) my bra, scarf, hairclip, necklace, and lipstick!!! Yes, there were lots of other people on our team and they all participated, too… and we WON SECOND PLACE!!

 

Goin' to the Quest in Studio B!

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RC Singers and Dancers entertain us before we start to entertain ourselves

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The Quest is about to begin!

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Ariel and Tom rally the troops

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Running to the CD with the requested item... this Quest is CLOSED!

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Longest belt connection challenge...

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Thalassotherapy pool is basically a huge hot tub, located inside the (beautiful) gym... right next to the male/female changing rooms with the (free) saunas and steam rooms inside... it is indoors, indeed very separate from the pool in the open-air Solarium (which also has two regular-sized hot tubs).

 

Coffee onboard is pretty much sludge... I drank it regularly, I should know!:) Honestly, it's not that bad if you get it when they make a fresh pot in the Café Prom, but if you're catching it at the end, it's undrinkable. I've never paid for Starbucks onboard, though... this trip, I brought a travel-sized container which I filled with sugar-free salted caramel flavoring (which I had bought on sale at Marshalls for $1!!!) -- made every cup taste delish.

 

(Ahh, can't wait for the refurb... I'll spend my days in the Diamond Lounge the way I did on Oasis, two-fisting free cappuccinos, yummmmmmm....)

 

I'll have to try the Marshalls add in stuff for the coffee. I've seen it there and never thought to try it. Also, is there a charge for the Thalassotherapy Pool? I know many cruiselines charge for it per use or they sell a multi-day package.

 

Denise

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Some great shots from Ariel's camera:

 

Ariel cheering

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Tom jumping

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How many people can stand on one towel?

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Tom proudly holds his number high

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The winning team leaders!! (Well, second place anyway) Yeah!

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Goodnight, Quest... until next time

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(You didn't think I was going to post THOSE photos, did you?)

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I missed a few things from today’s Compass that I would have liked to do: Captain’s Corner in the Palace Theatre, where the captain answers questions… Ice skating… the apple strudel cooking demo… Wreck-It Ralph in the Screening Room… History and Culture lecture on the Pirates of New Jersey… free skin care seminar in the perfume shop… other activities listed included a bridge lecture (I think about the card game, not the ship’s bridge), table tennis and dodgeball tournaments, adult scrapbooking, acupuncture and other health seminars, line dancing, military veterans gathering, pool games and line dancing.. there’s always something to do onboard, or you can just find a quiet corner and read, listen to music, watch the waves…

 

Quest was great fun, and Ariel and Tom were tired, especially after the predinner liquor tasting, but they still checked out the silent party in the disco (where people dance to different music on their own headsets) and said it was cool. I went to the room and watched Pitch Perfect on the TV, going to sleep by 1:30 AM… (as it looks like I'm going to do tonight after posting another day at sea... and yes, I have to get up at 7am tomorrow to get to my Bikram Yoga work-study job and 90-minute hot yoga class).

 

Day 7 Compass

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Page 2

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Page 3

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Page 4

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Daily Offers

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Side Two

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(Whaaa.... JUST noticed the complimentary Portofino's Tour with Chef Gary!! I would've LOVED to go on that. Grrrr....)

 

Well, good night all... wahhh, tomorrow is Day 8 and the last day of this cruise (and cruise report). Boo hoo... no future cruises planned until the 14-night Explorer Repo in November... a few nice land trips on the horizon, though: a driving trip to a wedding in Ohio (where I've never been) at a yacht club on the lake... a week in a timeshare in Block Island, Rhode Island... 4 days in Chicago (where I've never been) for the Rock n Roll Half-Marathon... 3 days in Vegas on a timeshare promotion... not bad, overall!! Plus my running club starts up next month, so I'll be increasing mileage every week with my group, the Galloway NYC Marathon and Half-Marathon training group... I might try to add a weekend in Atlanta for the inaugural Galloway Half-Marathon in December if my schedule (and budget) permits... and I can stay in shape during that two-week cruise in November!!!

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DAY 8 - FRIDAY 3-28-14 – LAST SEA DAY

 

…yep, went to bed at 1:30…

 

… and I STILL got up at 6:15!! Dressed and to stretch and abs classes, plus 20 minutes on the recumbent bike and 20 minutes on the weight machines I didn’t do yesterday.

 

Morning sun rays breaking through the clouds

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Hi Henry!

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I then went back to my room, put on my black & white swimsuit under pants and a jacket (the swimsuit looks like a fancy top!) and went to the Diamond breakfast on my own (I left Ariel and Tom a sticky note on their door outlining my plans… I’m guessing they really want to sleep in today). I had my usual 2 cappuccinos, eggs benedict, a half-grapefruit, figs, prune juice and a bran muffin. I talked with fellow diamonds about their cruising experience and their opinions of the new Quantum dining arrangements (most of us seem to prefer traditional dining, so we’re not fans).

 

I left at 10am for Nautical Trivia with the Captain in Maharaja’s, playing with the elderly couple from yesterday’s breakfast… we did pretty well, but still 19 out of 27 (vs. someone with a perfect score!).

 

From there I went to the Promenade and got a seat at the Pub to wait for the fruit carving demonstration which was setting up in the middle of the way. There was a couple of ladies sitting at the table with me, who informed me that they had done the same thing the day before at the apple strudel demo… but the minute the event started, dozens of people came and stood right in the way so they could see nothing. They complained at Guest Services about it to no avail – and I agree with them, this is a terrible location for such a demonstration, really in the way of passersby in a major thoroughfare. They left the table rather than be disappointed again.

 

I went over to the chef and asked if there was any staff who would manage crowd control, and he shook his head. I decided to just stand there and take pictures, then move on so others could enjoy the show. Indeed, anyone seated at the pub could see nothing over the heads of the standing crowd that appeared as soon as the demonstration began… and anyone who wanted to walk the length of the Promenade simply could not get through, there was no passageway at all. I took a few photos of the first fruit carving (actually fruit construction), then left so others could come in. Take note, Explorer, and MOVE these events to one end of the Promenade or the other, PAST the public walkway, and set up chairs and/or ropes for people to come early and get a “front row seat” if this is something they really enjoy, rather than let last-minute arrivals block their view.

 

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From the fruit carving on the promenade, I headed up to the thalasotherapy pool/steam room/sauna in the gym, figuring it would be way too cold to go outside.

 

Thalassotherapy pool in the fitness center

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I saw people outside in the Solarium, figuring they were hardy, or that the partial glass roof was keeping the heat in… couldn’t believe it wasn’t cold out since we were heading north, and our day in Port Canaveral had been so chilly and yesterday CocoCay had been canceled due to weather. Finally I went outside, and discovered it was gorgeous!

 

I looked around and discovered Ariel and Tom by the main pool, and pretty soon a third lounger opened up so we could all sit together. We ended up spending the entire day on the pool deck – who’d a thunk it? I dove into the FREEZING unheated pool until I noticed all the happy people in the other pool and we all went to join them in the HEATED pool! (We fortunately had loungers by the cold pool, so it wasn’t too busy where we were.)

 

We sunned until we were dry, then headed into the Windjammer for a quick lunch: I had my usual bed of raw spinach, topping it with some roast pork from the carving station, mashed potatoes with gravy and some steamed veggies. I took a piece of pineapple upside down cake and cheesecake from the dessert bar… then Tom and I made sundaes with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream!

 

Carvings on display in the Windjammer (by day 8...)

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Wow, look at the theming throughout the ship... this is a silverware drain in the Windjammer!

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Mmm... lunch

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Ice cream sundae!

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After lunch we headed back to the pool deck, where Ariel and Tom’s fellow Quest team leaders came to join them, and they chatted until 3pm while I sat and read on my lounger. At that point, we headed down to our cabins to shower and dress for the special chef’s tour, and begin to pack (boo hoo!).

 

Quest team (2nd place) winners by the pool

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The invitation was delivered to my stateroom, and I called the front desk to confirm that even though it said "for 2 people" I could bring a total of 4 (me, Carol, Ariel and Tom) and they assured me it would be all right. (And despite the clear instruction that closed toed shoes were required, there were a couple of participants with open sandals. Sigh.)

 

Invitation

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It was a truly amazing tour with Chef Gary (or “Chef Ramsay” – yes, chef! – as we jokingly called him). He is the executive chef for the Oasis, Liberty and Independence as well as the Explorer!! Having just sailed on Oasis in December and been really impressed with their food, I was now not surprised at the high quality of the food on this entire sailing. He rules through fear and intimidation (as he describes it) and obviously must delegate responsibility since he can’t be on all the ships at the same time.

 

Chef Gary advised us in advance that he would be tasting and commenting on the dishes for tonight’s meals, and asking the chefs about their preparation – and that they would be very nervous about the entire process. He also talked about trying to prepare all of these thousands of high quality meals on a budget, and shook his head at those of us who had two (or more) lobster tails and what that cost him...

 

It was so interesting to see him go around the entire table, using dozens of individually-wrapped plastic spoons to try each dish, quizzing the chefs about their preparation, making suggestions about better presentation, etc. He explained how each chef was responsible for a budget area that was the size of a small business anywhere else (pastry, meat, bread, etc.). Altogether a truly unique galley tour.

 

MerionMom/Carol had been on many galley tours as a longtime Diamond Plus C&A member (in fact, she’s been C&A long enough she remembers when anyone could go on a galley tour, and C&A members got actual gifts… then they cut back the gifts, and made the tours the “special offers” to upper tier C&A members) – but this was different from the standard “here’s where this is prepared, here are the huge ovens” kind of tour. She spoke to chef Gary and got herself invited to it again for the second half of her B2B!

 

Our host for the special tour

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Quizzing and critiquing the (nervous) crew of talented chefs

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Chef samples all the dishes

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Beautifully plated salads with menu and instructions

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After the tour, we went to the photo gallery, where Carol and I each contributed our free Diamond photo for Ariel and Tom to pick out some nice formal night photos. We took so long selecting them we missed the second parade, so Tom never got to see an RC Promenade parade (if you remember at the sailaway parade they were watching us leave from the open decks).

 

Instead we went back to our cabins, finished packing, and went to the farewell show. My crystal ship block and a "dear guest" card had been delivered to my stateroom. Gee, thanks, dear cruise ship company. (Sorry, the block is beautiful, I just don't know why they couldn't personalize the card, or present it at the top tier party, since there were only two of us onboard. I would have loved a photo with the captain!)

 

Beautiful Block

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"Dear Guest"

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We stopped to get a happy hour beer at the Schooner Bar, where I discovered that the tip was not included (despite the fact that the receipts clearly read that a 15% tip was included in the bill). It turns out that’s just what it says on every bill, and it doesn’t change when the drinks are free for the happy hour coupon.

 

I would have been very happy to learn this nicely, but alas, I learned it by a VERY hostile server who asked why I wasn’t giving a tip, and when I said the receipt showed there was a 15% tip included said, “Oh yeah, I work for free.” Ariel and Tom were APPALLED that he “yelled at me” – but I was very upset when I learned from Carol that indeed, tips are NOT included in these free drinks. I compared this to when the Disney Dining Plan went from including appetizers and tips in the daily amount, to removing appetizers and tips but keeping the price the same… I’m sure that the Disney restaurant servers lost a LOT of money when that happened! RCI, or C&A, needs to CLEARLY communicate to Diamonds and above that their bar service during happy hour – whether in the bars around the ship, at a Diamond Event, or in the Diamond Club or Concierge Lounge – does NOT include any gratuity for the servers, and that we should take care of them, whether by the drink (at the bars) or by the week (in the case of the lounges where apparently the waitstaff is fairly consistent). Sigh.

 

In any event, there was a great farewell show, with comedian Jeff Nease, who was REALLY funny. Apparently he had been up for the role of “Ray” (the life story of Ray Charles, which of course went to Jamie Fox)… yeah, I thought, sure you were up for that role… until he started to play the piano and sing, and then you really got a sight of his immense talent. He’s going to be in a biopic about Bill Cosby next year, and he did some bits about him which were amazing. I think we may be some of the last cruise ship passengers to enjoy his comedy show onboard – he’s destined for much bigger and better things. He was truly not only one of the best entertainers I’ve seen on a cruise ship, he’s one of the best performers I’ve seen anywhere.

 

The show also included the CD, the orchestra, the singers and dancers, and the staff (including Chef Gary!) the guy from the Windjammer with the tray of cups on his head, Mr. (and Ms.) Washy-Washy from the entrance, and many more.

 

CD with RC Singers and Dancers

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Explorer staff comes onstage to accept the audience's applause (notice the Windjammer server with the tray on his head on the far left)

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After the show, we rested in the Aquarium bar, where we ordered a soda with the happy hour special, but since it was in a can it was NOT included and we had to pay… and the tip was added… and I then ordered a beer for Tom, and made sure to add an “extra” – i.e. the ONLY – tip on the write –in line for the server.

 

We also divvied up our cash to offer extra tips to our wonderful dining room servers and even the head waiter. I planned to offer something extra to my room steward as well, especially since he was only getting one set of tips since I was sailing solo… dear Tom wanted to offer extra to their room steward too, even though he wasn’t particularly good… he just wanted to acknowledge the service. I explained that his daily tips were more than sufficient, and the only reason to offer extra was if the staff went above and beyond, which their room steward had not… but he still wanted to offer more.

 

We headed in for our final dinner (boo hoo). We took a couple photos:

 

Me with wonderful Kumar and Juan

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Ariel and Tom wearing their Quest medals

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(More dinner photos in the next post)

Edited by EmpressofPurple
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Heather & Brian (I posted this photo earlier in this thread, but this is when it was taken)

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Barbara and Peter

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Tonight's menu: POMODORO. I had pan-seared scallops with chorizo… pineapple with lychee soup (which I wouldn’t normally have ordered, but Chef Gary had said it was his favorite on the tour, and indeed, it was delicious and flavorful)… lamb shank with mashed potatoes and green beans… tandoori chicken… pear pudding with chocolate (ooh, that was good)… frozen strawberry soufflé (Chef Gary asked if we knew what made the souffle rise – and it turns out it actually rose because it was frozen, so it expanded!)… then farewells and photos with our lovely dining companions, promises to stay in touch…

 

POMODORO Menu

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Desserts

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Lamb Shank

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Frozen Strawberry Souffle

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…back to the room and to bed. No final bars, clubs, music, casino, shopping, Windjammer – nothing! (I have been known to close down the disco at night and open the gym in the morning, but not on this cruise… this was much more relaxed than usual for me.)

 

I put the suitcase outside my door by 11pm, watching Pitch Perfect on the TV (again… checking that I hadn’t forgotten anything… can’t believe this wonderful 8-night cruise is actually over!!

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A few more food photos from dinner:

 

Pineapple with Lychee soup (Chef Gary's favorite, and it was GOOD -- he pronounced it "LIE-CHEE" not "LEE-CHEE" which is what I'm used to)

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Williams Pear Chocolate Crisp... it's yummy

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Saddest photo of any cruise (unless you're in the middle of a B2B!)... suitcases in the hall on the last night...

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Last night towel animal

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Wow, I have NO notes from this point… but as I recall, we awoke in time to enjoy a final breakfast in the MDR (service was pretty good compared to other cruise final mornings, where it seems the staff is just trying to hustle you off to make room for the next 3000 people they have to serve in the coming week)…

 

MDR breakfast... looks like oatmeal with banana, brown sugar, yogurt...

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Ariel and Tom on the balcony with matching Promenade sale t-shirts

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We returned to our cabins to get our belongings, and leave Tom & Ariel’s unused movie coupons tucked into Carol’s mail slot… but when we tried to exit there was emergency staff and a gurney blocking the way on our floor!! We went the other way, went down to the Loyalty office and took pictures in the “ship” overlooking the Promenade. (Hey, Tom, I don't have these photos! Can you post them in this thread?)

 

We tried to relax there for a while in the comfy chairs, but the L.A. staff arrived and started cleaning all of the furniture, saying they had to “sanitize” it before the next shipload arrived. I spoke with L.A. Wendy to explain why I wasn’t purchasing a NextCruise Open Booking on this sailing as I had on every previous one, and asked her to forward my opinion to corporate, explaining that it wasn’t her, it was their new policy. I said I didn’t want to take up her time (or mine) looking at a specific booking onboard and would have much preferred to retain the same value for an open booking. She was really a bit frosty about receiving this comment, which I made as politely as possible.

 

In fact, I was going to try to book one onboard under the OLD policy – which was INCLUDED IN MY CONTRACT OF PASSAGE AT THE OLD RATE, and which I had printed out to show them – but I never bothered, didn’t want to get into a wrestling match over something like this, especially since I would probably have lost anyway)

 

I also encouraged her to make sure that future guests knew that gratuities were NOT included in the free drinks offered during happy hour, whether at the bars or the Diamond Event (I assumed those with access to the Concierge Lounge knew that their servers didn’t receive any tips for their service to the D+, Pinnacle and Suite guests they served throughout the day and especially during happy hours.

 

When we were “kicked out” of the C&A area, we proceeded to our assigned waiting area in Studio B… which was (A) freezing; (B) had most of the seats roped off; and © those seats that were open were inaccessible because of all the people and bags blocking the aisles. We gave up and went back out into the lobby area, and found seats in the photo gallery. A large group headed out, and we joined in with them, heading down the elevator to the gangway, where we were held up in the lobby – which turned out to be a kindness, rather than have us wait in the chilly tented area for the jitney back to the terminal.

 

I surely expect that Bayonne will be getting a BIG facelift before the arrival of Quantum. As Ariel said, “Florida would never stand for this.” We did get to see the RCI terminal in Port Canaveral when we had our port stop there, and it was nigh and day compared to New Jersey. This was not a terminal, it was a tent! In an industrial port, with a bus to the ship!

 

Overcast skies over Manhattan... behind the tent terminal...

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Anyway, we called Tom’s friend, who was there to meet us, and arrived just in time that we could load our bags into the car before the rain hit. We had BIG bags – it was such a treat to sail from a port we could drive to, and not have to worry about flight bag limits. We got home, and I unloaded all of my clothes straight into a laundry cart… ah, back home again, in the land of cooking and laundry and cleaning and work. Well, it was fun while it lasted, and I can’t wait to cruise again.

 

Thanks for cruising along with me and my friends and family. I hope you enjoyed the daily details, the little stories, the descriptions and the photos (!) – I love reading your detailed trip reviews, and I’m happy to take the time to share my own. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about the Explorer or the ports, so fee free to ask.

Edited by EmpressofPurple
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Oops! I just realized I didn't post the Compass for the last day! here it is.

 

Day 8 Compass

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Page 2

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Page 3

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Schedule

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(Notice my notes for the post-cruise survey! I was getting ready to write it on the form, when I learned that they are now sent by email upon our return. Don't forget to complete yours!!)

 

Daily Offers

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Back side

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