Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by Story girl: Pleasantly surprised
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We drove to the parking lot at Cape Liberty which is very easy. Parking is $133 for the week. We walked to the loading area with our luggage. Because we had a junior suite, the boarding was very speedy - a private line! We carried on our own luggage so it was a breeze. There was a bus waiting to take us directly to the ship and we boarded immediately and went to lunch at by noon.
Our room, 9324 was ready by 1:30. This room is sooooo big with king bed, two end tables, a small sofa and two upholstered chairs plus a coffee table. The walk in closet was amazing with plenty of hangers, shelves along with a multitude of drawers and cabinets in the room. We did not use any drawers as the closet was so huge. The room is on the starboard side and is very quiet though conveniently located near the elevator. It is mid ship with a spacious balcony. Nice size bathroom too, all tiled. Just perfect.
We selected the "dine at your own time" option and tipped the hostess the first More night so we got the same lovely table each night by the window. What a delight to eat watching the waves. Our table was #508 and we had delightful waiters. I had heard that the food on these big cruise lines is prepared ahead of time and kept warm with lamps so I was not expecting it to be very good but it was perfect and delivered with a nice pace. Very tasty menus with season fruit soups which I loved. Always some fish, steak, pasta offered. Prime ribs one night along with lobster too. At 7:30 dining time, we just made the shows so if you want to see the shows, eat at 7 pm. We did go early some evenings and was still able to get our table. We also ate at Portofino for $20 extra each but our travel agent gave us a free coupon so it cost us nothing. It is a small dining room (maybe 60 people)with lovely service. It was worth it just for the change of pace. Food was slightly more upscale but the regular dining room is just as tasty. We also ate at Johnny Rockets which has a $4.95 cover charge each which gives you unlimited burgers/hot dogs, fries but you pay extra for beverages/malts, sundaes. The staff greet everyone loudly coming and going so it is a fun atmosphere. The staff will also dance to some of the oldie's music. It is on the top deck and you can eat outside as well as inside. Good to try once but the main dining room has a BIG buffet each day which is wonderful. Our only disappointment was breakfast one morning with waiter service. Service was slow and food cold. We stuck to the breakfast buffet after that and was very happy.
We hung out mostly at Dizzy's jazz club in the evening. It is a mellow crowd with an excellent four piece band. The club overlooks the pool area and is on the top floor of the ship so it is very relaxing. Music is 60's - 80's which is just our speed.
The theater shows were well done, many costume changes, singing, dancing, comedy, even an ice show, but we loved best the shows with the guest participation (karaoke, Quest, Battle of the Sexes). I laughed so hard my make up was running down my face. I found myself cheering and screaming with the best of them. Hilarious what people will do on a cruise ship, even when sober! These shows were so great. The cruise director is every bit as funny a performer as the comedian!
The spa was lovely and reasonably priced for a cruise line. I had one service that included a brief massage, foot massage and scalp treatment. On the first afternoon, the spa has many raffles and gives away free services so it is worth participating. You have to be present to win. The gym is extensive and well equipped. On the next to last night the spa has another raffle but this time only discount on services so though I won, I did not want to spend even more money. There is a doctor on board that does botox and other face treatments which was the first time I had seen this on a cruise. Do not know if any one took advantage of this.
I bought an Internet package for the week for $35. The trick is to download your emails (three minutes) and disconnect immediately. Then do your email responses off line and then go online to send them (another two minutes). Each session is therefore only five minutes. My computer did not disconnect though I thought it had so I went to the guest services for a refund and they promptly gave me a $20 credit. Nice.
There were 6 big hot tubs, one indoors, and several pools. Water was about five feet deep and never very crowded. There are enough chairs for everyone as there are chairs on many decks.
I hired my own tour guide as I thought the excursions were very expensive. David Fox was the guide: email@example.com; 441-334-7965 cell. He has a van that holds 6-8 people and charges $40/hr, not per person. He was terrific. There is also an excursion to a beach that is in walking distance. We just walked ourselves for free and saved the $56/per person charge.
We left the ship carrying our own luggage which is the way to do it. You leave between 7 - 8:30 and there are no lines anywhere; not at the bus, not at customs, not at leaving the parking lot. We were off the ship and in our car in about 12 minutes. What could be better?
We will definitely sail with Royal Carribean again. Less
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Cabin review: JS9324 Junior Suite
Our room, 9324 was ready by 1:30. This room is sooooo big with king bed, two end tables, a small sofa and two upholstered chairs plus a coffee table. The walk in closet was amazing with plenty of hangers, shelves along with a multitude of drawers and cabinets in the room. We did not need any drawers as the closet was so huge. Two good reading lamps plus a great flat screen TV with fairly decent selection plus movies to rent. The room is on the starboard side and is very quiet though conveniently located near the elevator. It is mid ship with a spacious balcony. Nice size bathroom too, all tiled. Just perfect.