Well, this was our 6th time on Explorer and probably the last one. We really liked the ship the first few times, then it was just an ease to start vacation within an hour of leaving our house. Also with little ones it was the best option for us to combine the benefits of cruising and ease of commuting to Cape Liberty from Brooklyn. We noticed many changes on this cruise from previous ones. First of all, the mandatory $12 day tipping per person per day is automatically charged to the credit card now. With that we noticed that the service in dining rooms or cabin wasn't as great as it's used to be. Another bummer was a play time for toddlers. We used to go to the conference room on the 2nd floor where there were many different toys for little ones to play with. Now they do it on a little stage with very few toys in a bar on 14th floor. Really? Little ones to play in a bar? Who comes up with that decision? With all of the variety of rooms available on the ship. 3 days out of our 7 day cruise , this wasn't even available since 2 days there were weddings in that bar, and another day they were painting something in that room. They didn't even bother to communicate this to us, and we brought our little one to play both days and he got very upset that there was no toys . Another topic, my husband went to buy a liquor in the store on the ship, and they told him he will have to pick it up on the morning of the departure between 6:30-8 am ( the lines would be formed in front of the store on Royal Promenade). Really? What happened to the delivery as in prior cruises? Well we were told that there were too many kids on the ships and for the next several cruises, that's how they were going to handle this. Just Great! When you have to pack and rush out of the room , you will also have to wait in line. We were told that all these changes came because of the new management. Dont' know if this is true or not.
Now the ports of call on this ship. There is nothing wrong with them, but the timing is just ridiculous except for Coco Cay. Port Canaveral - is 1 pm to 10 pm. In order to go visit parks in Orlando, you really need to buy the express line tickets , otherwise with the 2 hour commute from Port to Orlando and back to Port , there's not much time left in the park with all of the lines. For two people the tickets to Universal with express line option would be $460 plus the $70 transportation from the ship for two people. Nassau, Bahamas - 2:30 pm to 11:30 pm. What can you really do in this time in Nassau? Blue Lagoon beach wasn't even offered on the ship since it closes at 5pm (except for animal encounter). We went to Atlantis , but it's expensive. We got to Atlantis at around 3pm , and left at 7 pm to do some shopping in Nassau. Well, everything was already closed at that time in Nassau.
Food was still good, but my husband was disappointed that there was no indian dishes he used to enjoy in previous cruises from a dining room menu. I guess it has to do with the new chef who is from Austria now.
Another issue, we've encountered was particular to our rooms. The first night after we came from a dinner we found out that there was a flood in both of our bathrooms (we had 2 connecting rooms), and it looked just filthy and disgusting. The staff didn't come in to clean them up right away, only after numerous calls and trips to guest services, an hour and half later they were cleaned and useable. Apparently, it was due to a "movement from a ship", the pipe got clogged up and several rooms got affected.
We like ice skating. Well, the last two days at sea, this wasn't even offered since they did 4 ice shows (the same one) in the last two days. It also seemed like they now have less activities to do while on the days at sea compared to prior years. Royal Promenade cafe no longer has paper cups. I guess it's ok with with going green and stuff, but it's hard to carry a cup of tea or coffee if you want to drink it on the go or bring it to your room.
Overall, it was an ok cruise