1/29/06 Sailing of Explorer. My best description is WOW. After 11 cruises, I have to say this was best one yet overall. All below that is critical is only to let you know the only things to watch for we experienced. This was a great cruise on a great ship with normal to above normal crew.
Embarkation was smooth. No wine, no real escorts and room not ready until 1:00PM but no problem for us as experienced cruisers. Ship is very big but easy to learn most quickly. Ride throughout cruise even in rough weather was smoothest in 11 cruises. Great ride.
Pool was never really crowded even on sea days and the adult pool with two large hot tubs was so nice with no children and no loudspeakers blaring or loud bands playing - they were at the other pool. 3rd children's pool with slides looked great and children's area is best we've seen on any ship. Ice Rink okay but the Ice Show was wonderful. How they do so much in such a small rink is amazing.
Shows were okay. Lead female singer seemed to be just slightly off-key a lot. Other three main singers were fine. But best show was a tribute to Beatles by "Rain" - looked a lot like them and did great renditions of their songs. Audience was all on feet loving it.
Our inside room was not the biggest but very good storage, solid plastic on shower instead of flimsy curtain and most hangers ever. Loveseat, desk and bed. Refrigerators in room and TV ordering of shore excursions were a big plus. Paying for recent movies to view was not. Lots of neat art and movie star/rock star memorabilia throughout ship is a nice touch. Palace Theater always had seats available for shows. Stores - usual, sales usual, don't buy till last day or two. Schooner bar had great piano player/singer. Only suggestion would be turn volume down a bit in a small bar like that. Wayne in Dizzy's bar does great dance and old favorite piano music.
Food was really above norm for cruises. Dining room was excellent. Windjammer could improve their hamburgers and do fresh waffles -otherwise pretty much good or excellent on what they had. Wed. night was low point. Only show was ice show which can only hold 4-500 of the 3300 passengers.
Bingo was evening entertainment. This while on other nights two or three good things scheduled on top of each other. Slow dancers will be disappointed as Jazz, ballroom, disco predominate. No space at Schooner for dancing is a minus. And the last chance to dance ("Romantic Strings" at 5:15PM last night) was blown by Parade scheduled at 5:15PM too. Even after parade ended 25 minutes before supper, musicians were standing there, they just talked to each other instead of playing dance music. Shore excursions seemed pricey. Many offered by locals far cheaper but must be careful. Many people said positives about the ones they took from ship.
Disembarkation not so hot. Airline style carousels winding around spread people out but made porters almost non-existent. Slowest luggage pick-up we've experienced in 11 cruises. Lastly, Thrifty and Dollar Rent-a-Car only sent one van in about 40 minutes and they couldn't accommodate all those waiting. We barely managed to get on 2nd one 40 minutes later. When we got to Thrifty, we saw 5 vans sitting and parked, not in use. Bad idea Thrifty. Also, Explorer of Seas is their LAST pick up of the ships so full can be expected over and over - $24 to take cab to car rentals at airport. Again, great cruise - if we said nothing about something we either didn't do it or it was excellent.