MY wife and I are experienced cruisers who were traveling alone while our son was at camp. We spent a night in Manhattan and saw "My Sinatra" off broadway. After a nice night in the the city, we had a short drive to Bayonne to board the ship. GPS sent us to a gate that was closed and it was a little challenging to find the port entrance. They could use better/bigger signs. Once we found the port, the process was easy. Drop off the bags at one stop and proceed to parking. We arrived at the desk at about 12:30 and were on the ship by 1:00. Our one checked bag arrived at the cabin at 3:00.
The ship is in good shape. If you look closely you can see a rust spot here or there and there are some stains on furniture where people have sat with wet clothing. Bedding was really comfortable and the room was nicely set up. When compared to brand new Solstice class ships there are flaws but the ship has a nice feel and is in very good shape. I am not a big fan of the promenade but it is popular with a lot of people.
Public areas are very clean and bright. The crew and servers are all very friendly and made this a very nice cruise. We liked the band that played in the lounge as they played a good mix of dance music were very entertaining. The dance floor in the top of the ship lounge is tiny and in my opinion, they should move the band to the Maharajah lounge where dancing floor is larger. There were live strings musicians and a Latin band that also played regularly. We did not go to shows so I cannot comment on that.
We did late seating in the dining room. Service was excellent and we had a fun table. The meals were quite good. I thought there was a good mix of selection and I enjoyed every meal. Ralp and Deniz were excellent and made each meal a nice experience.
I will complain about the bar servers. I am not a big drinker, but will have two or three drinks in an evening. If you order a Manhattan, be careful to specify the whiskey that you want. The same drink can cost from $7.25 to $11.50 depending on what they use. If you are not very clear, the server will default to the higher priced drink. This is not something that I have experienced on any other cruise line. I don't like being in a situation where I have to argue with a server about a few dollars so I did not challenge anyone. None the less, I think that is a a practice that RCCL should reconsider. I have asked land based bar tenders who tell me that they consider it the role of the server to be clear on what the customer wants. As that is apparently not the approach on this ship, be clear when you order or be prepared to pay top dollar.
This was a very good trip to Bermuda. Five days was just what we wanted and overall the Explorer of the Seas was a great experience.