We should note that we were originally booked to sail on the Explorer on October 28, 2012 but when we learned that the ship was going to be at sea in Hurricane Sandy and that a 14 ft. storm surge was expected up the Hudson River,
We decided to use better judgement and wrote the cruise off. We got into our car and headed back home. (Toronto, Canada) To our surprise, nine days later, RCCL Customer Service called us asking why we did not go on the cruise. After we explained why we abandoned the cruise, they offered a FULL credit towards another cruise. This was totally unexpected by us as we did not seek to be reimbursed. Hurray for RCCL. That was great Customer Service on their part and we will certainly keep that in mind in the future.
As a result, We chose the 9 nine day Eastern Caribbean cruise departing on November 24, 2012. This was our 27th cruise including 5 with RCCL and our first time on the Explorer. This was the largest ship that we have sailed on. We have sailed from Bayonne some time ago so we were familiar with the boarding process and in this case everything went smoothly. Once on board, it was evident that the ship had gone through Hurricane Sandy. The carpet in the corridors were water stained. No problem though, it had been dried out. We were in a balcony cabin (7218) and it was clean and dry with no evidence of damage.
As far as the cruise, it was 9 pleasant days. In spite of what some other reviewers noted, it seemed to be crowded everywhere. Particularly the Windjammer Cafe where it was difficult to find a seat at any time.
In our case, after 27 cruises, we have settled into our favorite cruise routine and that is listening to music and dancing. The Explorere had the best and most listening and dancing music of any ship that we have sailed on. Unfortunately, they had the best of this entertainment in venues with a very small dance floor or no place for dancing at all.
The Crown and Kettle pub was a good example. The nightly entertainment was Sam Collins, a very seasoned and gifted singer/guitarist. If you wanted to dance in the pub, you had to move a couple of tables out of the way and dance on the carpet. We did this and listened and danced to great music by Sam every night.
Dizzy's Jazz Lounge on deck 14 had a group called The Starlight Band. The four band members (Rusty, Ronald, Bong and Mandy) were very talented and played music from all eras including ballroom, jazz, rock, etc. The upside to Dizzy's Jazz Lounge along with the good music was Kathy, the server that kept you in good spirits all night. The downside was the very small dance floor.
Of course, we are being "picky" and that's not fair to the Explorer. We did a lot of dancing and enjoyed the music. There was enough of this to choose from, so we're sure that everyone found their favorite music.
All in all it was a good cruise. We are very active seniors and we will take our next cruise on the Explorer and hope that entertainers like Sam Collins and the Starlight Band are booked for the trip.