First, this was my first cruise. I have to say that my experience on Explorer of the Seas exceeded my expectations as a first time cruiser. There were a few things that left me disappointed, but I will get to that later.
The Embarkation process was simple and quick. I did the pre-boarding forms online, and I think that made a big difference as the people who did not were standing in long lines.
Once you enter the ship you realize that this is a floating city, almost like a floating Vegas hotel. My cabin was located in the area of the ship that bows-out and faced forward. The balcony seemed larger than expected, but this could be due to the round shape of this area of the ship. The cabin was adequate, but the carpeting did have a few stains on it and there was some obvious wear and tear. Some times I could smell what seemed to be like sewer fumes, but it was not a constant kind of thing- just here and there. Overall, I was happy with the cabin. I loved the balcony, which was perfect every time you came into a port. It was also fun talking to the people on other balconies.
The Windjammer Cafe was a drag: too many people, lots of "white trash" types with bad manners; sometimes you had to circle the place over and over to just find a seat. And some people were so rude that they would hog the big tables and tell people the vacant seats were taken, though nobody ever sat in them. Food here was like high school cafeteria quality, nothing special. Coffee was horrible. Tip: bring your own coffee maker to this ship.
The evening dining room situation was a better experience. The cuisine was acceptable, though here the problem was people with no manners: I had never seen people eat several entrees in one siting, but people did. It was kind of funny, actually- just pure gluttony. I have to say that the service was impeccable, just like a five star restaurant here in Washington, DC.
The young teens running wild all over the ship was a drag.
Consumer Alert. Be careful with the "Spa Specials". I was lured with their professional teeth whitening special, which was like $200. I thought wow, that is cheap. Well, here is the thing. It is what they quote. But after you are done with it, you realize that you have been had. You have to buy this extra kit to continue the process for a period of 14 days. I felt cheated with this. They should at least disclose this up front. This was my least favorite thing of the cruise ship experience.
Ports of Call were San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. I did excursions on all of the ports- all were a waste of money You are better off just getting off the ship and doing your "own thing", as all these ports are downtown, walking distance to every...I was disappointed with St. Maarten, as there was trash and street dogs everywhere. I was surprised how poor this island was. The best surprise was Nassau- just beautiful & the water crystal clear, even in the port.
Overall, I enjoyed this cruise. I just failed to realize what "mass market" means, and this ship caters to the "mass market." If you are okay with lots of teens, slobs from the Midwest, rude Mexican women with stretched-out faces then this ship is for you. For my next cruise, I will just pay a bit more for a more classy experience.