My family enjoyed a fabulous 9-day cruise on Explorer of the Seas June 21-30, 2012. Our kids are 15 yrs and 12 yrs and they can't stop talking about it. Since I found these member reviews so helpful before my trip, I wanted to share my cruise experience with you.
- There is truly something for everyone. The list of daily activities in the Cruise Compass was endless. If you have children under age 18, be sure to stop at the kids' desk after you get your Sea Pass card photo taken before boarding the ship. They have separate Cruise Compass itineraries for ages 12-14 and for ages 15-17. Extremely helpful. My son loved the fact that there was a dodgeball tournament at midnight for 12-14 year olds!
- We felt safe having our kids wander around the ship. Although we brought walkie-talkies, we never used them. The ship was large, but we brought a small notebook and pen and whenever any of us stopped back at the room, we wrote a note where we were going and the estimated time we'd be back in the room. It worked out fine for us.
- The cruise staff was terrific. From the room steward to the wait staff, they all went out of their way to make sure you were happy.
- The cruise director on our trip was named Leigh. He was hysterical! He was the assistant cruise director who was filling in for the regular one. Everyone loved him.
- The night entertainment was very good. The singers, dancers, magicians and comedians were talented and put on great performances.
- The ice show was amazing. There were only 3 performances. In the Cruise Compass, you will see the date/time when you need to get your free tickets for the shows. Make sure you get in line early for tickets so the performance you want is not sold out.
- The food was very good and there was a wide variety to choose from. Unless you are picking a cruise line primarily for the gourmet food, you will enjoy it. Make sure to try the Main Dining Room for lunch. The salad bar is the best.
- Check out Roxy at the Piano Bar in Schooner's on Dec. 4. A great way to unwind. And they make a killer Frozen Mojito! There were tons of bars with different music, too. Something for everyone.
- Do not miss the Silent Party in the Chamber dance club. What a blast! Even if you don't dance, you have to go and watch everyone else. So much fun!
- We felt minimal movement of the ship in our room. We were on deck 3 in room 3544, which was the front left of the ship. On our last night, the ship hit an "extreme weather condition" near Baltimore as communicated by the Captain around 2am over the ship's loudspeaker. This was the storm that resulted in Baltimore and Washington DC losing power for 5 days. Although people on the upper decks put on their life jackets because they were so scared, we felt nothing at all in our cabin. I would stay on Deck 3 again in a heartbeat!
- Cafe Promenade on deck 5 had small sandwiches, pizza, pastries, cookies, fruit, iced tea and water available all the time. Perfect when you just wanted a light bite between meals. And at no extra cost.
The only con was that our cabin was quite small, but it was manageable. We were in an oceanview room (category G). There was a lot of storage space for all our clothes. The 2 kids' beds pulled out of the walls above our queen size bed. We spent minimal time with all 4 of us in the room except for sleeping, and arranged a shower schedule to get ready for dinner so only 2 of us were in the room at a time. It really worked out fine. I purchased an over the door clear pocket shoe holder with room to store all our toiletries. It was a lifesaver! Purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond for about $12.
St. Maartin -- The 3.5 hr Power Rafting Adventure was fantastic! The raft held about 25 people and went at speeds of 50 mph. You did not get wet on the raft at all, so bring your camera. Stopped for 45 minutes for snorkeling and 45 minutes for swimming (where Angel fish swam all around us!). Trevor and Jamal were our guides and explained all about the Dutch and French side of the island.
San Juan -- The Tropical Zipline Tour (Original Canopy Tour in La Marquesa) was awesome. I am scared of heights and loved every minute of this trip. Safety precautions were in place and implemented by every employee on the tour. Note - there is a very steep hill to climb at the start of the tour. Wear sneakers.
Labadee -- Do not miss the Aqua Park. It is in the Columbus Cove area of Labadee. It was my 12 year old's favorite part of the trip. Book an hour. You will be glad you did. We also did parasailing and loved it.
Bermuda - We did not do an organized tour. Instead, we got off the ship and purchased a daily bus/ferry pass ($12 adult, $6 age 12 & under). Then, took a 20 min ferry from the port to Hamilton where we spent $40 to have a taxi driver (his name was Bailey) take us for an hour sightseeing tour. He dropped us at the bus stop where we caught a 30 min bus to Horseshoe Bay beach for a few hours. No snorkel equipment for rent, so bring your own if you want to explore. There were some great fish all the way to the right side of the beach area where it was very calm. Note -- you must bring cash to Bermuda. The bus/ferry pass, taxi and food stands at Horseshoe Bay beach did not accept credit cards.
I highly recommend this cruise to everyone who wants an enjoyable family vacation.