Good morning all:
It has been awhile about me doing a daily or even weekly blogs. Sorry about that, as we all know life gets in the way of things. I hope to change this.
So as the title of this post is “Our recent cruise on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda”. If you have been reading my posts. You may have read that Echevarria Travel, owned and operated by yours truly, is also a member of the National Federation of the Blind (http://www.nfb.org). If you are new to myself and my postings you can read all about me losing my vision in 2001 and turning lemons into lemonade in my life by going to my website about us page. Here is the link to the page.
This is day one of our trip April 13, 2013 it was also my birthday. We celebrated my birthday, and 2 wedding anniversaries in our party.
In any case, I mentioned this because I had recently done a fundraiser cruise for one of our state affiliates the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, which was this sailing back April 13-18th, 2013. I raised over $1100.00 for them.
Remember all of our fundraisers you can participate in. Anything I sell or offer is offered to everyone and not just the sighted and non-disabled travelers, but for everyone of all disabilities (especially the blind travelers).
So, we had 22 people sailing with us including Joe Ruffalo and his wife, he is the President of the NFB of NJ. I will just put NFBNJ for now own.
In any case only 6 people traveling with us were sighted. That tells you a lot, many blind people are fully independent and we believe in the NFB that blindness is a nuisance and a characteristic and with the proper training and education not only for us but the sighted community. We can be indepedent to everything.
A few of us have never cruised before, and this was my first cruise on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships. I have done the ship tours, but first time actually cruising on them. I normally do Norwegian. I sell them all, but we all have our preferences right. I have to be opened minded and offer everything to my clients. Not everyone fits the same model in life, so why should your vacation.
On the first day of the cruise, we got to the port early, thank goodness. Driving from Long Island (Suffolk County), to Bayonne, NJ on a Saturday can be quiet or you can have tons of traffic, because you have to drive through Long Island, into Manhattan, through Manhattan to the Holland Tunnel, and the get to the cruise port, Port Liberty, in Bayonne, NJ. We did it in 45 minutes. If we waiting a little longer to leave we would have got caught in traffic right outside the cruise area with road work traffic. I always tell my clients get there early, don’t know what you will expect, or fly in the day or night before.
My husband, Nelson, is the driver if you are wondering who drove.
Maxx, my guide dog, stayed at the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown, Inc. (http://www.guidedog.org). Decided to use my cane and let Maxx have his own vacation. He has been on many cruises before, and we were just in Bermuda in October. So he got a well deserved vacation. Need to keep my cane skills in check never know.
Again, I keep moving off the subject, so sorry, this is the way I normally talk, so you will get that in my writing.
We got there early, wanted to make sure our group signed in with me. Made sure no one had issues or was late, so we hung out in the port. First thing you do after you drop off your luggage and park, which Bayonne has a great amount of parking. Not like NY City – Port of NY, where we normally go out of. We take the train to NY City and take a cab to the pier. If you are wondering the best way to get to the ports in either state.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity go out of Port Liberty, Bayonne, NJ
Norwegian, Holland America, and many others leave from NY. Norwegian only cruise line that sails year round out of NY, is port of NY, in New York City, NY. If you are familiar with NY City or ever want to come and explore NY City. It is directly next door to the USS Intrepid Air & Space Museum.
Again the parking in Bayonne was wondering, and tons of handicapped parking. Since the cruise ship just came back for there were people getting off the ship. We were the 1st in line to go through security, and they had us wait in a seating area which had coffee and cookies, etc. because we were so early that check in wasn’t ready yet.
We met a very nice lady, Gail, who was going to Bermuda as well, her friend was having our 20th Anniversary there and having a vow renewal. So she decided to cruise to Bermuda.
We talked and talked, since her brother is also blind. People either stay away from us because they think we have the cuddies or something; they want to know your story. She was very nice. I do hope she keeps in touch.
In any case, our guests finally started showing up, we told them that they can go aboard or wait with us. Many stayed with us, those that never cruised before, and those that had went on board and we would meet up later.
The staff at the port was wonderful, made sure we all got to where we had to, and when we finally had to take the 2 minute shuttle to the ship which you have to do at Bayonne, in NY you just walk the hangway onto the ship. No shuttle needed.
The shuttles are wheelchair accessible and have the kneeling capability if you need that extra help getting on. If not it is just a big step getting on the shuttle.
Once we finally got to the ship, we had a little gangway and we were onboard. We had taken the ship tour before. So for many of us this was not something new.
After we got on board, we were told our rooms were ready. Went to put all our carryon in the room. I changed my shoes to sandals, and got into work mode. Yes, this was fun for us, but also work. We make sure that when we cruise with our groups that we are there for them with any questions and concerns. We all decided to have some lunch at the Windjammer Buffet.
Well let me tell you very nice, great good, but they need to do something with the signage of what the food is you are eating. Some things were marked but not overlayed in braille, and my husband sail it was so far up on the glass he couldn’t read it. One issue for all. Some people weren’t sure of what were in things, if you are going to offer something, have a cheat sheet near by or ask someone who knows. What happens if you are allergic to something and eat it. Not good. The food was great though. All of the food on board was wonderful.
After lunch, the group meet with the Groups Coordinator of the ship, his name was Rodriego (I think that is how you spell it). He gave us a very descriptive tour of the ship. Telling us what on each deck and where you can find it. Guest Services were we were was on Deck 5, and to the back of us was the My Time Dining the Columbus Restaurant (where we ate with about 12 people, almost every night, accept we ate one night at Portofino’s, I will get there later on, and to the front of us was the Promenade Area, which Royal is famous for. It has all the shopping and food areas (like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream) or the Souvenir Shops, Ligour Shop, Jewelry Shops, Clothing, pubs, etc. and all the way forward was the Connoisseur Club (This is a Cigar and Pipe enclosed area), and also the Maharaja’s Lounge. During the day had all kinds of activities like bingo, which now they have electronic hand held devices to play, but it wasn’t accessible. So I was still able to play, since I have some vision (didn’t win, but had fun playing just the same).
Rodriego was mentioning that on all the decks like 3, 4 and 5 towards the back of the ship was were all the restaurants were, and you ate at the same restaunt each night. The other part of our group ate at the early dining which was on deck 3, which is called the Megellan Dining Room. They all served each night whatever the other restaurants were serving the same options. Each night it was a different menu with some of the same signature dished every night. So if you didn’t want the amazing Duck which I had one night or Prime Rib, you could order the pasta or the New York Strip, etc. The food was outstanding to say the least.
The other restaurant which none of used was on Deck 4, was the Daga Ma Dining Room was for late night dining option after 7pm dining.
The front of the ship had all the entertainment area
Deck 3 and 4 had the Palace Theater
Deck 6 – Deck 11 were staterooms (your rooms), they are called staterooms on a ship whether you get an interior, Ocean View, Balcony, Suite or Penthouse. They are all called staterooms.
Decks 2 and 3 also had staterooms
Deck 15 has a chapel which is opened to anyone.
Deck 14 has the private club for the people who purchased the Suites and Penthouses. Also had Dizzy’s Lounge named after Dizzy Gillespie, they use this also for weddings and other events. Yes you can have your wedding on a cruise, and much cheaper than doing it at a catering establishment, and your guests do not have to cruise unless they want to.
They also have Cloud Nine and the 19th Hole which are also clubs and lounges.
Deck 13 which we didn’t use this trip, the weather was not cooperating but you never knew you were on a cruise ship it was so smooth, but it was cloudy and windy the 1st day. So we stayed inside.
They have on Deck 13 The Rock Climbing Wall, Sports Court (where you can play basketball, tennis, etc.), also an Inline Track (made especially for inline skating)
Deck 12 – It has the Spa and Fitness area (which is free to use unless you do a spa treatment or do a speciality class) (The hot tub, steam rooms, suanas, workout equipment is free to use.)
Also the sky bar, and the jogging/walking track which goes around the whole circumfrence of the ship, and 4 times around is a mile.
They also have Johnny Rockets Restaurant, which we ate at as well. But will talk about that on day 3 of our 5 day cruise.
Also the teen areas are on this deck from the Arcade to the Teen Disco and Adventure Ocean.
Deck 11 has Peek a Boo Bridge, which all the way to the front of the ship, and look down into the bridge, which I think personally this is a funny way to look into the bridge.
The second level of the Spa and fitness center (yes 2 levels)
They also have the Solarium – Which is the adult only Pool/Quiet area of the ship. No kids allowed. It has a pool and 2 hot tubs and bar. If it was warmer we would have used it, but used the hot tub in the spa, ahh, that was great.
And in the middle of the deck is the family area for the pool and hot tub.
And the back of the ship is Portofino’s (the only speciality restaurant on board. Italian and only $20 per person, it was worth it. You would have paid $50 per person in NY or more for what the served. More later on that! As well as the Windjammer Cafe Buffet Restaurant – Opened for Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Skipping a little bit here:
Deck 2 had the ice sking rink – There is an awesome ice show 2x times on a 5 day cruise and you are assigned by your stateroom what time to see it. Well worth it don’t miss it.
Also a conference center if your group is big enough and wants to have meetings or other things going on.
Deck 3 – Has Studio B, which is the photography Studio. We always take pictures on our trip. Be posting some shortly
And the Chamber Lounge here are some of the picturs from the Lounge
Nelson in front of the Stain Glass Windows in the Chamber Lounge
Nelson in front of the Stain Glass Windows in the Chamber Lounge
Nelson in front of Gargoyle in the Chamber Lounge
Cheryl in front of the Stained Glass Windown in the Chamber Lounge
Deck 4 has the Casino and different bars and lounges
Cheryl in front of Elvis Statute in Casino
Cheryl Entrance to the Casino Royale
Nelson with statute of Show Girl
It is a glass floor and look like under the glass a roulette wheel in difference colored glass and has chips and coins all around it.
Cheryl and Nelson in front of the Elvis Statue in the Casino
Nelson in front of the Elvis Statute
Cheryl in front of the Elvis Statue
Stayed tuned for Day 2 of our Cruise.
To book your next cruise on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas or any cruise or land destination, wedding, honeymoon, family reunion, fundraiser, and more.
Contact Cheryl and Nelson Echevarria of Echevarria Travel on the Contact Form below or call us at 631-456-5394