I returned to Explorer for the same 10 day Easter Caribbean trip almost exactly two years since I was last there. Last trip was a disappointment, this one was much improved.
I arrived at Newark and having learned from a prior experience last trip when my taxi was stuck in heavy pier traffic long enough to run the bill to $60+, this time I took RCI's shuttle at 1/3 the cost. Cape Liberty is probably the most difficult cruise port in the US due to the fact that it has not yet been developed since its days as a US Navy cargo facility. After a long crawl thru traffic you pull up at a tent like structure where your luggage is unloaded, then into an area for processing/check-in, then onto a bus for a short drive to the ship. Not a good process. Additionally luggage takes an inordinately long time for delivery - last trip 9 hrs., this time 6 hrs.
Aboard the ship all of course improves. Notable improvements were:
elevators seem to be better programmed and thus are more responsive to demand leading to faster service even though the ship was completely full and had an extra 200 people occupying extra bedding in many cabins, and that includes 350 kids on this preChristmas cruise.
Food - RCI is introducing a new and expanded dining room dinner menu - much improved. Lunches need to be next on the list for an upgrade, and in my estimation food in the Windjammer Buffet is very poor on all their ships.
Entertainment - much improved. Production shows updated, ice shows fine, headliners - so so.
Crew - last trip I was much taken with their what some people call "New York attitude" - unfriendly, uncommunicative, do nothing more than required. This time, although there were exceptions - attitude/morale seemed much improved.
I use the Concierge Lounge frequently and wish to commend the "fill in" Concierge "Denzil". I trust that RCI will soon give him a full time concierge position.
This was an Easter Caribbean cruise - San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten and RCI's Labadee. Other than getting off for a moment in San Juan and St Thomas to buy a newspaper I stayed aboard while everyone else heads ashore and thus I have the ship almost to myself for the day.
Due to a storm off of Cape Hatteras we were two hours late returning; however I commend the Captain for keeping up fully informed and RCI for greatly facilitating departure so that inconvenience was minimal.
In summary - I don't like "big ships", and this one is big - 3600 pax - however I had a good trip, well up to my my other 60+ RCI experiences.