Thanksgiving 2005 We were part of a group of about 25 from Denver. My wife and I are 47 and our kids are 19, 16, 13. The rest of our group were similar in age. We travel every Thanksgiving on a cruise. We flew into FLL and rented a motor coach to take us to Miami the night before the cruise. We stayed at the Ramada Inn downtown for $50 - just ok but inexpensive and convenient. The rooms there were clean so I won't complain. Years previously we stayed at the Hyatt for the same price. We took cabs to the pier and got there at 11:30. We were through and on board by noonish. We may have gotten there too early because we ended up waiting longer for the ship to open then we did to get checked in.
Cabin: Our cabin was the usual - adequate space and storage and clean. This was our 3rd Thanksgiving in a row on RCCL so we have come to expect things a certain way - no disappointments here. We actually had the same cabin # as we did in 2004 on the Navigator.
Food: Food was good but we thought it was better on the Navigator. Same set up of course but just better for some reason. Service was great - we had a super team in the dining room. We all enjoyed the snacks and sandwiches in the Cafe Promenade - we spend a lot of time there. We usually make that our meeting place before leaving the ship.
Excursions: We booked the zip line tour through a private company in Belize and saved a few bucks. We used the same company the year prior and did cave tubing. It was a blast! I would definitely do it again. We also had a blast at Costa Maya - we all went over Majahual and negotiated with one of the owners and got an area for all of us. We paid $15 for 30 minute massages and paid $1.50 for a Corona - all day long! The guy was smiling the whole time and we took very good care of him. If you go to Costa Maya just make it a relaxing beach day at this place - you won't forget it. The water is calm and clean here as well. By the way the guy running the bar at our spot had connections with the jet ski and horseback riding folks so we got good deals there as well. Just walk about 3/4 of the way down on the left and start asking about prices. Grand Cayman - we've been there a lot so we just stayed on the ship. Once you go to Stingray City 3 times there's not much else to do.
The Explorer had a dodge ball tournament (which the Navigator did not). WOW! What a blast! There must have been 250 - 300 people there each day for the tournament. Teams of 6 in a round robin double elimination tournament. It took about 4 hours each day but it was so much fun. Our group had 3 teams and of course us older guys beat the younger ones for the championship. Trust me we made sure they didn't forget who won either. I wish all ships had this - lots of participation and lots of fun.
We didn't go to too many shows - they all tend to be about the same. I've found over the years that the shows tend to be a lot a like unless you sail on NCL then you are in a whole different category!!! You can't beat NCL's shows!
The crew were all very nice. Lot's of genuine smiles - just like on the Navigator. Help was never too far away. I was also impressed with the condition of the ship.I thought it would be a bit run down since it was older but it wasn't! They have done a really good job keeping it up.
Overall a GREAT cruise. We will be on the Mariner in 2006. I'm hoping RCCL can get a Voyager class ship to the west coast soon so we can do that one year. We really like the Voyager class ships but unfortunately they are getting pricey.
This is a nice ship - you'll not regret booking this one!