New England Cruise on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas: Boston & New York
Day 8 – Boston, Mass
Years and years ago, when my parents were in the cruise industry, we took a cruise to Bermuda out of Boston – the only thing I remember were exhibits on static electricity and giant bubbles at the Children’s Museum. My much later return to Boston was quite different – we did our usual way of touring a new city, a hop-on-hop-off tour, after which we ate our way around the best of Boston. There so much more to Boston than I’ll express here – years of history that we were told about on our trolley tour, plenty of sites that we could have hopped-off at and explored the depth of our country’s past. However, my family and I are much more into eating seafood and sweets.
Legal Sea Foods was right down the road from our last stop and it was the greatest decision we could have made – the best clam chowder and crab cakes that I’ve ever experienced.
Because we haven’t overeaten enough between our cruise and all of the seafood-rich ports we’ve visited, we took a stroll down to Boston’s Little Italy to check out Mike’s Pastry, a mom and pop shop known for its huge selection of cannoli’s (is that already plural? cannoli or cannoli’s?). Our waitress at Legal informed us that the line could easily be out the door and that, on nice summer days, it would even wrap around the block. Thankfully, it wasn’t that frantic, but it was a little more chaotic than your average bakery – a mob of hungry patrons calling out “Limoncello!” and “Classic Ricotta!”, waving their cash in the air.
We purchased a couple of different cannoli flavors, as well as a tiramisu and Boston creme puffs and, right as Dad was going to pay, they bakery staff slid a freshly sliced Boston creme pie into the display case. Naturally, we nabbed a slice of that, as well.
We couldn’t stay out too much longer, afraid our fresh baked goods would become pastry soup in the growing heat (it got into the 70s today!), so we walked back to the trolley to go to the cruise terminal. On the way back, we happened upon Quincey Market, a picturesque shopping area with both outdoor vendors and established brands.
Mom and I walked around through the outdoor market, yellow leaves snowing down from the trees – a perfect cherry on top of our New England, semi-fall foliage cruise. I wish we would have had more time in Boston, but we had to make it back to the ship by 4:30 and we didn’t want to risk losing our pastries.
When we began boarding the ship, a couple of Boston policemen informed us that the security had confiscated about $25 worth of Mike’s Pastries from a lady on last week’s sailing. Terrified, we worked frantically to wrap them appropriately and to the policemen’s standards – we made it through fine and I’m beginning to wonder if they just wanted to keep the pastries for themselves. Most likely.
Day 9 – Day at Sea
We wrapped up our sailing on the Explorer of the Seas with a final day at sea, taking us back to Bayonne, New Jersey. I just realized that I haven’t even touched on this ship – it’s part of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager class, complete with an inside promenade which we love. This is especially nice on a cold weather cruise such as this, were the multiple pools and sun decks can’t come in handy. The promenade has several stores, a pub, and a sports bar. It even has a little coffee shop that serves Seattle’s Best, some of my favorite coffee, and the best chocolate chip cookies on the entire ship. We visit this café as an intermission from our nightly card games.
I’m very happy with the service, food, and quality of the Explorer, as well as the other Voyager Class ships I’ve seen, and would highly recommend it over a number of other mass market options.
Day 10 – NYC
We had a ridiculously long wait until our flight, so we hired a driver to take us up to Hoboken so that mom, a professional cake decorator, could check out Carlo’s Bake Shop – made famous by the TLC show Cake Boss.
Even at 10:30 AM on a chilly fall morning, the line was down the street. Instead of waiting, we asked our driver if he had time to take us into the city to visit Lombardi’s, our favorite pizza place. He had plenty of time, but laughed at our frivolous choices.
“In New Jersey, we have Dominoes,” he said in his Jordanian accent.
“Not the same,” we informed him. Great guy, but he clearly did not know his pizza.
Since we arrived a little early, Dad waited for Lombardi’s to open while mom and I tried to run as fast as we could to Canal Street to check out a few vendors. We were so close, could literally see it at the end of the block, when my cell phone went off. “Lombardi’s opened early,” Dad informed me. With no knockoffs in hand, we ran back to lunch.
We ate our pizza, went to Rice to Riches, a rice pudding shop featured in the movie Hitch, ordered an inordinate amount of rice pudding, and headed back to Newark. Here, we debated with security guards whether or not rice pudding was a liquid. Thankfully, it was not, so we enjoyed our rice pudding in the Sky Lounge (flavored rice pudding, by the way, is only good in small doses).
Our time in NYC was just enough to leave me and Mom craving more – we’ll probably go back for our usual Christmas trip. That’s another post for another time, though – for now, we’re home safe – another successful family trip down. This was also one of the first where we didn’t want to kill each other by the end of 10 days. Definite success.