Usually it's my whole family going on the cruise but this time it was me, my 18 year old sister, and my grandmother. We had cruised like that one time before on the Explorer. I have been on 23 cruises and have been on the Explorer of the Seas 4 times. I have also been on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival. I have also been to the Panama Canal and all the way north to Greenland and Iceland. Of all the cruises and ships I have been on, the Explorer can definitely be said as my favorite ship. Besides its convenient distance from our home, it has a beautiful layout, great entertainment and activities and a real "home" feeling.
Ship-Even though the ship is almost as old as I am, I saw no major flaws-there were some little things here and there that were noticeable though. The ship is laid out in a very nice way; most things being easy to find in a short amount of time. All of the lounges are very beautiful also. My favorite lounge was Dizzy's where you looked over the pool deck of the ship. It was so relaxing you could fall asleep.
Activities- The activities were very good. Some of the activities like the 70's Dancing in the Street party were not as fun as it was previous trips even though the music was great. This time it just seemed to focus mainly on the t-shirts they were shooting and the light-up rings they were throwing. The New Years party was very exciting, even though the whole crowd changed when the champagne was handed out. Most of the people around us were incredibly drunk; dancing and screaming like idiots. The Welcome Aboard reception was held before that also. Nobody let the officers speak- people were talking like he wasn't even there and I thought it was incredibly rude. The ice skating was one of our favorites. I do figure skating so I brought my skates and did the advanced skate session along with my sister. The skaters working there seemed to get a kick out of the tricks I was doing that were very similar to the ones they do. They have great Mini Golf and Inline Skating that we did not use this time due to weather but had used other times we were on the ship.
Service-The service is what makes our trips so enjoyable every time. From the waiters to the entertainers, they are so nice and welcoming we come back on the ship again to see the same ones. We knew some of the singers, one of the girls in the shops, and some waiters who were all so surprised to see us again. My grandma would constantly say "If they were any nicer, they would kiss me goodnight". They work so hard yet treat everyone like royalty.
Ports- The ports were okay. We didn't get off the ship in Port Canaveral because we thought we wouldn't have enough time to do what we planned. Instead, we stayed on the ship and went to the pool all day. In Nassau, we got off, walked around and did some of the shopping in the town. It was a great day and our only complaint is the pier stretched practically a mile! It was our first time in CoCo Cay and we were impressed! We were expecting it to be like their private island in Labadee, Haiti that we've been to several times. The actual beach itself was wonderful- except the hundreds of fish surrounding us in the water. The buffet grill was delicious too! Really good food knowing it wasn't "on the ship". The only bad thing about the ports was the terrible times that made doing things on land hard.
Embarkation- The embarkation was as easy as ever. It seems that whenever we board the Explorer it gets easier every time. We got there about 11 o'clock and were on bus #1. We only waited about five minutes in the "Platinum" waiting area. The only bad thing was the weather that no one could control.
Stateroom- The interesting thing about our cabin was it was the same room as our last cruise in August. We could have just left our stuff there! Compared to other ships, the storage was great and there was enough room for everyone. The beds were as comfortable as always and our veranda was as lovely as always- except the fact that it was cold outside the majority of the trip which made it hard to spend time sitting out. Our room attendant was extremely nice, constantly asking us if we needed anything.
Dining- The menu had changed since the last time we were on the ship. The food was better than ever! Some of our favorites were the Duck, the carrot cake I had the first night, the Lobster (best I ever had), and the Baked Alaska. We were given a table for 8 even though we spent the night just the 3 of us the whole trip. Our two waiters were amazing, showing just how great service could be.
I did not use any of the Teen Club activities. I never really go to the teen club on most of my cruises. I find that I can "hang out" with people my own age at home rather than wasting my vacation time doing nothing.
Entertainment- The entertainment was also better than ever. The production shows proved how amazing the singers, dancers and musicians really are. The music itself was very nice to listen to because of its familiarity- even to a 15 year old. The comedian from the first night did not have a great preview show but had a hilarious late night show. There was also a comedian/ magician that was very entertaining. The 6th night there was Judy Kolba. We had seen her perform on the Explorer before but this time her show was more "friendly" unlike wild from before. The ice shows were definitely a highlight. It was more enjoyable for me to watch knowing that I was capable of doing what they could do. The overall entertainment was very memorable and outstanding.
Disembarkation-Leaving the ship was just as easy as getting on. We went to the Palace Theater where we walked in and walked out to an elevator. They held up certain elevators for us to go straight down to Deck 1. I think they did that because we were all listed under Emerald for our grandmother. Even though it was cold, we waited for about a minute to get another bus back to the terminal where we easily found our luggage and left.
Summary- All in all, our trip was fantastic and well spent! I would recommend this line and this ship in particular to people of all ages. They have something for everyone and their service truly makes them one of a kind.