This was our first cruise with RCI having cruised with Celebrity, HAL, NCL and Princess in the past. I am guessing that having cruised with Celebrity just few weeks earlier, my expectations were very high.
Embarkation - we arrived just after 12 noon and there were no lines. I heard that after that point the lines were long, so it pays to check in early for this big ship. We were told that cabins wouldn't be ready til 1pm, so needed to either eat or stay around the pool til then (with our carry on luggage!).
Food - our waiter at dinner, Catalin, from Romania, was excellent. Whilst he did not get to know anyone's name, he was incredibly meticulous and genuinely concerned he offered great service and he food was up to scratch. Very very professional - well done RCI, you have a good one there! Food was best described as above average. Steaks were very good though.
Cabin Service - less good. We had a few cabins between our group and there were constant inconsistencies with the room lay up every day. One day, one had a towel sculpture,the others didn't, some had chocolates some nights, others didn't. Some had ice tongues, some were supposed to use their fingers as the cabin stewardess said they had no ice tongues on the ship! When I complained to her about the inconsistent room lay ups, she told the fellow cruisers next door what I had said! Not professional!
Ship - great facilities, too many to mention and each day you were in awe of the Royal Promenade. The 24 hour cafe was a boon, and remember to get the fresh cream cakes each afternoon - they are yummy! Our favourite was the royal crown bar, which we nicknamed the martini bar, the staff there seemed to be more personal and interacted more with the guests. Johnny Rockets was great fun - they had us dancing! The disco was fun, and the busiest nightclub I have seen on a ship, much more suited to a night of dancing than an open lounge atop a ship.
Entertainment - the 1 of the shows was excellent, the best I have seen at sea. After that things went down hill and was disappointed. The ice show was excellent -a must see. The parade was average and I wouldn't bother seeing it again.
Disembarkation - be prepared for the morning from hell. You'll be out of your cabin by 8am and may have to wait an hour for immigration, The another two hours for your bags, as some of our party did.
In all - as advertised, an activity driven ship with lots to do. Food is above average, nothing more, and service is on the whole, average. Disembarkation time makes for a less nice way to end a cruise. Would I cruise with RCI on Explorer again? Honestly, probably not - I think I'm a Celebrity fan through and through.