Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas ~ Bermuda

The Fourth of July brings back a lot of good memories for me.  Celebrating at my family’s beach home down at the Jersey Shore (no, not that one), baseball games with brilliant fireworks displays and climbing to my grandparents’ roof in Jersey City to see the Macy’s fireworks.  This year and last, we watched the incredible Macy’s fireworks display from our very own apartment balcony, cuddling the very frightened evil corgi.

If you missed it, here’s a taste!

In 2010, in celebration of my husband’s 30th birthday, my present to him was a cruise to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas. It was our first cruise since 2006′s somewhat disappointing Carnival Victory cruise to the Caribbean and a much improved experience that led us to booking a Celebrity cruise in the Mediterranean for our honeymoon.

This particular cruise, which we took during the week of July 4th and lasted for five days, left from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ — only a 15 minute taxi ride for us!  While it was nice to not deal with travel hassle to the port, the port itself is an uncoordinated mess.  The lines were long, and we didn’t realize until our honeymoon that you can go before the suggested 2 pm check-in time.  We didn’t have a special room or Captain’s Club status, so we waited in line with everyone else.  Our check-in went pretty smoothly, as we had all of our documents ready to go.  We took a short bus ride over the boat itself, dropped our carry-ons in the room (which was ready for us) and went straight up to the top deck to enjoy the views, the band and the booze! Hello, Lady Liberty!

What you may not know about sailing away from the NJ/NYC area, is that you will get the unique experience of sailing underneath the Verrazano Bridge. It looks like you’re going to hit the bridge with the very top of the boat — check it out…

We were a fun-filled day and a half at sea before reaching Kings Wharf, Bermuda at 9 am on Day 3. The bad news is there is NOT a lot to do here — it’s pretty isolated from the rest of the island.  The good news is that the public transportation on the island via bus and ferry can get you anywhere.  Buy a two day pass (or however long you’re staying there) and enjoy the freedom of coming and going as you please!  The Naval Dockyard was still something to behold, regardless.

 

We booked an excursion that morning, which I believe was called the Wild West Clear Kayak Tour. Super fun, lot of kayaking! You couldn’t see through the glass bottom as much as they said you could, but the water was so crystal clear, you could just look over the side of the kayak.  Our guide was fantastic, too!  We went back to the beach, took a quick dip and escaped the sun with copious amounts of rum punch.  Delicious!

We went back to the boat, showered and readied ourselves for a night out in Hamilton. We took the bus, which was about an hour and provided a great way to see the sights and sounds of the island. We walked up and down the streets (really, just the main one), which seemed a little empty.

We had some guy following us around, so we ducked inside a convenience store until he went along his merry way, so just make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times (a good tip in general!). We finally settled on a place for dinner, opting for an al fresco meal at The Pickled Onion.  We both thought it was good, but there were some complaints from the tables around us.  I wasn’t about to complain about anything with a drink in my hand watching the sunset in paradise.  You are on island time, so keep that in mind.

It took us a while to get out of there, but were thankfully able to catch the last ferry back to King’s Wharf.  THAT was a fun experience.  I especially loved watching the ferry drop locals off at their remote homes along the way.

Upon on our return, we were surprised to find a concert and market right in front of our boat!  The locals are absolutely lovely people — and great entertainers!

After enjoying the show and a good night’s sleep, we woke the next morning and headed straight for the ferry to St. George!  We walked around aimlessly, stopping at beautiful shops and churches, like St. Peter’s.

We especially loved touring The Unfinished Church.

Then we walked through a park that I think turned into a golf course.  Either way, it brought us uphill to this beautiful view!

We had some lunch near the water and then hustled back to the ferry terminal. We heard rumors the last ferry back to the boat in time for our ship’s 4 pm departure could get so crowded, you may get stranded, so we wanted to get there early.  I think we were there an hour ahead of time and there was already a line.  Thankfully, we had no trouble getting on and even got a seat, but there were people who *just* missed the ferry.  I wouldn’t want to pay for that cab ride back to the ship!  We passed more of Bermuda’s lovely citizens on the way back — everyone was so friendly!

We had a wonderful day and a half at sea back to NJ, partaking in much of the fun Royal Caribbean had planned for us.  We watched shows (including the fabulous ice skating show), participated in hilarious games (two words — The Quest!), had delicious food and even enjoyed a Fourth of July celebration onboard!

I can’t tell you how wonderful the staff and crew were on this ship, or how much fun the experience was for the two of us. While we may have moved to Celebrity for the time being, we’ll definitely be back to Royal Caribbean someday.  It doesn’t hurt that the Captain’s Club points are cross-honored, too!  I still rave about this trip two years later and it was the perfect way to celebrate my husband’s 30th birthday.  Highly recommended!

For more pictures from this trip, visit my Flickr set.

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