On Sunday April 23th, in the early morning, we left home and drove to Miami. The plan was to turn in our rental car at Avis and take their free shuttle van to the Miami port. When we arrived at Avis we saw over 200 people lined up waiting for the shuttle. It appeared they only had two shuttle vans running with at least a 30-45 minutes wait between pickups. It was beyond chaotic along with hot, humid conditions as we waited in the sun. After assessing the situation we decided to take an Uber. Our driver arrived within five minutes and we were on our way.
The check-in at the ship was fairly quick and easy. They just needed to see our passports and vaccination cards. After going through security, we walked with our luggage onto the ship, the Royal Caribbean “Explorer of the Seas”.
Our cabin was not ready so we had some lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. After the busy morning it felt so good to sit down and get something cool to drink. By the time we finished, they announced our cabin was ready.
After depositing our luggage in our cabin we had to check into our muster station. We had already watched their safety video at home so it was a quick process.
We then spent some time unpacking and figuring out where to put everything. We usually book a balcony cabin but this time we chose an inside cabin. We knew as we traveled into the north Atlantic, it would be too cold to enjoy the balcony, so it didn’t make sense to spend the extra money. Turned out to be a wise decision because by day three of the 15 day voyage, it was very windy and chilly.
We were not familiar with Royal Caribbean ships so we spent some time exploring.
After dinner they had welcome entertainment on the Promenade with clowns and three big balloon drops.
We have found the food is not as good as Holland America or Norwegian. But we are certainly not starving! On the other hand the number of activities and entertainment on Royal Caribbean is a step above the others. Our sea days have been full with lectures on astronomy, criminal justice, Hollywood and upcoming ports, as well as Star Wars, states capitals/nicknames and movie trivia. The lectures have been very informative by really knowledgeable presenters. There is always live music somewhere on the ship throughout the day and evening, especially on the Promenade.
We did a coffee chat with an officer one morning. I asked if the ship was full. The answer was all cabins were full but the number of passengers was not at full capacity because some cabins were single occupants.
The evening shows have also been very good. We saw Greg London, a three time Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year winner. He is a singer who does impressions of other singers like Elton John, Rod Stewart, Johnny Cash and Mick Jagger. The next evening we saw Jay Rawlings, a comedy magician who was a winner on Britain’s Got Talent. Other shows by the ship’s singers and dancers has been very good.
Bill and I played putt putt golf and Bill also did archery.
We enjoyed watching people “surf” in a simulated surfing pool. The ship also has a rock climbing wall and an ice skating rink. No, we did not go ice skating! But, we saw a fantastic 45 minutes ice skating show by ten talented skaters.
By the third day the weather was windy and chilly. People continued to sunbathe but people avoided the pool, except for the hot tubs. In fact the seas were rough enough to make the water in the pools slosh over the sides.
I should mention that for the first four nights, each night the time went ahead one hour to prepare us for Europe time. So over four nights, we lost four hours. Fortunately we could sleep in each morning and didn’t have a wakeup call and bus departures at 7:30 like Israel.
On April 30th, Day 8, we missed our first port, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, because of heavy wind, rain and rough seas. It was not safe to try to dock in those conditions. The captain said the bad weather was not expected and came upon us quickly. During breakfast, wind gusts up to 80 knots (92 mph) hit us broadside, causing the ship to list six and a half degrees for a short time, making a few light items slide off the tables.
With two more sea days before our first port in Spain, that will give us nine continuous sea days. Fortunately the ship activities keep us busy and time passes quickly. I should also mention there are quite a few other nationalities on this voyage and it is not uncommon to hear Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
On May 1, we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary! The waiters surprised us with a slice of cake with a candle.
Our next port is Malaga, Spain on May 3rd. Hopefully we will be able to make that one! In the meantime, all is well!