• Welcome to the WDWMAGIC.COM Forums!
    Please take a look around, and feel free to sign up and join the community.You can use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up, or register directly.

Off-topic: My recent non-Disney cruise

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Just got back from sailing 5 nights on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas. I'm not going to do a whole trip report, but just thought I'd share a few observations. We sailed from Bayonne, NJ and were originally scheduled to go to Bermuda. But because of the extensive damage from Hurricane Gonzalo, we sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John, New Brunswick.

They didn't inform passengers of the change until 4 pm on the afternoon before departure, which didn't leave much time for repacking (76° in Bermuda, 40° with a wind chill of 33° in Halifax). And for people who flew into NYC the night before, they were likely already in the air when the notification went out. As compensation, they gave everyone an on-board credit (for our balcony category, we got $350) and gave you the cash if you didn't use all of the credit.

The port itself is not the easiest to get to. The signs showing where to go are small and not easily spotted. The terminal is basically a concrete holding pen; and it's so far from the ship itself that you have to board a bus to transfer from the terminal to the gangway.

Embarkation was a nightmare, but was not entirely RC's fault. The ship arrived back to port very late due to the weather and high winds from the remnants of Gonzalo. So there were people still disembarking when we arrived at the port at 11:30 a.m. (we drove from Western Mass.). This, of course, meant that they didn't start letting passengers on until after noon. They started around 12:20 and our group was called at 1:40. Cram on the bus, and then from there, it was pretty normal.

Disembarkation was even worse. They have what they call "self assist" departure, which just means you keep your luggage with you and disembark before the people who will need to find their bags in the terminal. They basically allowed EVERYONE who wanted to do this to go to the gangway at the same time; and remember we have to get on a bus to go back to the terminal. The line went up three flights of stairs and it took us an hour to get to a bus. What made this worse was that there were no crew members helping the process or giving information. Worst disembarkation procedure since the Titanic.

However, between embarkation and disembarkation, I was pretty pleased with most of our experience. The food in the main dining room was above average on the whole -- with two notable exceptions. The food at the buffet was below average and had a very limited selection. The service in the main dining room was excellent (with the exception of our souffle :) ). I was VERY pleased with our servers at all meals, not just dinner. We picked "My Time" dining, which I liked a lot; although I would've liked to pick my meal times ahead of time, rather than having to make a new reservation every morning for that night's dinner. (We tried to make the reservations ahead of time during our online check-in process, but when we arrived onboard, they couldn't find what we had done).

The service outside the dining room was only so-so, average to below average. Our room steward was average, the Guest Services desk was below average and understaffed. We got conflicting answers to several questions from different people. We generally found that we had to do something wrong in order to find out how to do it correctly. That was pretty annoying. The perks that my wife was entitled to as a returning guest were difficult to redeem.

Overall, it was fine. But that's all it was. There was very little "Wow" factor, either in the ship, the food, the service or the entertainment. I would do it again, but my expectations would be considerably lower than for any Disney cruise. But of course, my costs would be considerably lower than on a Disney cruise.

I can do a full trip report, but I haven't even started a report on my Hawaii cruise from LAST October! :D So I don't think that's going to happen soon.
 

Sans Souci

Well-Known Member
I would be kind of angry if I boarded a flight thinking I was going to Bermuda (and packing for that climate), only to find out that the cruise was going up to the Maritimes when I landed! Brrrr! That is quite the temperature differential. LOL
 

Bolna

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the report! So, how do you thing RC and Princess compare? It was Princess for the Hawaii cruise, wasn't it?

I would love the idea of My Time dining, but I am afraid that by having to make reservations a lot of the flexibility it is supposed to bring is immediately destroyed again.
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Thanks for the report! So, how do you thing RC and Princess compare? It was Princess for the Hawaii cruise, wasn't it?
It was indeed the Grand Princess that we sailed on to Hawaii. Comparing the ships themselves, the Explorer has much more to offer. Mini-golf, in-line skating, sports simulators, rock wall, an actual ice skating rink, better gym facilities. The Royal Promenade on Explorer has a feel that you couldn't get on Grand Princess. It has a (small) movie theater. Additionally, it's in much better condition than the Grand Princess was when we sailed. The Explorer is coming due for a refurb in the next year, but the Grand Princess was in terrible shape when we were on it. So much rust, worn carpets, gouged table-tops; it was embarrassing, to be honest. There was definitely some noticeable wear on Explorer, but not so much that the ship felt worn down.

The entertainment on Explorer was much better than on Grand Princess. The song and dance shows on Grand Princess were not good. The singers were adequate and the dancers were not quite adequate. On Explorer, the singers were a little better and the dancers were much better. The "variety" acts (comedians, specifically) were about the same and pretty much what you find on any cruise line. But Explorer also has an ice dancing show, which was pretty good. Costuming on the Explorer was MILES superior to anything we saw on Grand Princess. In-room entertainment was better on Grand Princess. There were a few TV channels available (and several channels with foreign language dubbing) on Explorer, but the only movies were pay-per-view to the tune of $12.95 each. Grand Princess had a couple channels that ran movies, so there was a little more variety.

The food on Grand Princess was definitely better, I think. I was very pleased with the food on Explorer, but there was nothing that made me say "That was an amazing meal". And while there were a couple disappointing meals on Grand Princess, there were also a couple of meals that really were amazing. (On Grand Princess, my wife had a very disappointing lamb entree for dinner one night. The next day, we had lunch with a group of people that we didn't know. But as we talked about our experience on the cruise to that point, someone mentioned the lamb and everybody exclaimed, "Oh, it was terrible, wasn't it?") Anyway, the quality and variety of food at the buffet restaurant was significantly better on Grand Princess. I had several dishes that I really enjoyed at the Grand Princess buffet, and I don't think I had even one meal at Windjammer that I felt was any better than just average. Grand Princess had a different flavor of ice cream available every night in the restaurant (made on the ship, not brought on board) and their quick service pizza restaurant made their own crust dough daily and had several different kinds of pizza each day. Explorer had cheese or pepperoni, and that was it, every day. (Neither, however, had chicken fingers and fries available at a quick service spot!)

Service on Grand Princess was better than on Explorer. Both ships had terrific service from its restaurant staff. But service from our room steward was better on Grand Princess and service from deck staff, bar staff and Guest Services was MUCH better with Princess.

I would love the idea of My Time dining, but I am afraid that by having to make reservations a lot of the flexibility it is supposed to bring is immediately destroyed again.
I liked the My Time dining, because it allowed us to eat early on most days (which is what we normally do at home), but also change to a later seating on a day when we had an afternoon shore excursion. I think that you can normally designate your reservation times before you even board, as part of your online check-in. But that didn't work for us. So we had to call or swing by the restaurant each morning to let them know when we wanted to be seated. It really wasn't that bad.
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
That's crazy, Chuck! That's a major itinerary change!
Yes, indeed! The challenge for the cruise line was that it was only a 5-night sailing. The Norwegian Dawn, sailing from Boston, switched from Bermuda to Nassau; but they had 7-nights. Five nights just wasn't enough time to get from Bayonne to someplace warm AND get back again. I was hoping they might at least send us to Charleston, but we went north instead. Still, 5 nights on a cruise is (usually) better than 5 nights just sitting at home.
 
Last edited:

Bolna

Well-Known Member
I like to read all kind of trip reports - especially by people whose Disney reports I enjoyed! ;) But I would be more interested in the Hawaii cruise!!
 

StageFrenzy

Well-Known Member
Yes, indeed! The challenge for the cruise line was that it was only a 5-night sailing. The Norwegian Dawn, sailing from Boston, switched from Bermuda to Nassau; but they had 7-nights. Five nights just wasn't enough time to get from Bayonne to someplace warm AND get back again. I was hoping they might at least send us to Charleston, but we went north instead. Still, 5 nights on a cruise is (usually) better than 5 nights just sitting at home.
Haha I saw the dawn in Nassau. I think it stayed overnight.
 

kasey1988

Well-Known Member
Oh wow, I would be very disappointed to! I live in halifax I sure hope you wernt here when we got all that rain, because we got a ton that week! I couldn't imagine, I am sure there were travellers from canada (maybe even halifax or New Brunswick) on board, that would be even more disappointing!
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Oh wow, I would be very disappointed to! I live in halifax I sure hope you wernt here when we got all that rain, because we got a ton that week!
We were in Halifax on Oct 20 and in St. John on Oct 21. Halifax was cold, around 40F, and VERY windy. There was a light drizzle just as we got back to the ship, but we walked from the ship to the city gardens and then to the Anglican church and city hall with no rain at all. It was so cold, but there was enough sun that we really enjoyed the gardens.

When we arrived in St. John, the folks in the terminal told us that one of the Cunard ships was unable to make it into port the previous day because the wind was so bad. Thankfully, our day there was much more pleasant!

I am sure there were travellers from canada (maybe even halifax or New Brunswick) on board, that would be even more disappointing!
There was at least one Canadian couple on the cruise. We met them on the shuttle bus before we even boarded on Day 1. They grew up in Halifax and still have a lot of family there, although they currently live in Alberta. They had flown into NYC the day before and had gone to the Disney Store in the city. So they had a huge bag of Disney Store stuff. They were kind of laughing about it and said that they would visit their family and drop off the bag of stuff so they wouldn't have to carry it on the plane home after the cruise. But I did feel bad for them.
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I forgot to mention that there were no washing machines or driers on board for passenger use. Thus no irons. So we paid $18 to have 5 items pressed. My wife was. . . disappointed. :mad:
 

Bolna

Well-Known Member
I forgot to mention that there were no washing machines or driers on board for passenger use. Thus no irons. So we paid $18 to have 5 items pressed. My wife was. . . disappointed. :mad:

Interesting! Seems that the prices for pressing are higher, too. I seem to remember it being really cheap on the Wonder.
 

Register on WDWMAGIC. This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.

Top Bottom