Explorer of the Seas -- Feb. 1 to 10, 2013 Flew into EWR day before cruise. Stayed at Newark Airport Marriott. Very nice hotel with a great restaurant. Took car service to the Bayonne the next day.
Embarkation: Arrived at port around 10:45 and were onboard by 11:30. No problems boarding whatsoever. Went directly to dining room to check out our table (431- nice round table for 8). Then to spa for formal night hair appointments. After that Windjammer for a bite to eat and at 1:30 ready to go to the cabin. We were in 1244 junior suite. Great size with walk in closet and double balcony (the closet big enough to roll wheelchair in with easy access to the pull down rack for clothing.) We asked room steward for a lounge chair on the balcony and he brought us one.
Entertainment: Pretty good. Have seen some of the shows before. Tribute to the Temptations was our favorite. Didn't like the guy who did impressions -- his only saving grace was Elvis impersonation. Loved the Latin dance band in Aquarium bar. Spice up on pool deck - good band but didn't have very long sets. Two or three tunes and they were outta there! For the most part, entertainment lacked IMPO. Last year's Eclipse cruise had outstanding shows.
Food: New menu selections very nice. Great scallops. No escargot (market shortage). Every beef entree we ordered was tough. I complained and the head waiter gave a comp filet mignon which was delicious. No sure why they can't do beef right. Pasta dishes were always good. One night salmon great, next time dry. We ate in Portofino and it was excellent. The service stellar and the food a few steps up from the MDR. Room service breakfast was hit and miss (they kept forgetting stuff). We were on deck 10 so running over to Windjammer to grab breakfast was no problem.
Overall: Nice cruise. Probably my last time on the Explorer. Too much smoke for me. Even on the formal night with no smoking in the casino it still reeked. Hanging at the bars or the Chamber at night was not for me because of that. Repeat guest party was bogus, cheap drinks and no food, pretty much a waste of time. Oh to have the good old days when those parties were fun to attend. Other than smoke issues ship nice and clean. Service very good.
Capt. Olaf was great. The last night of cruise and all day Saturday we had rough seas, he kept us informed of the conditions on a regular basis. The Explorer is a beautiful ship, getting a little long in the tooth and in need of the 2014 refurb.