This was our 4th cruise, 3rd with RCL, 2nd on Explorer. We drove to New Jersey and stayed at Country Inn and Suites, Elizabeth the night before. We used the shuttle they provided for $35 per person, round trip to get to the ship. The shuttle was delayed by construction traffic. The trip to the ship was also delayed because of an accident and fire on the bridge.
Check-in was quick and we were ushered directly onto the bus. It was the fastest check-in we have experienced.
The ship was a little more worn than the last time aboard. Nothing drastic, just a few more stains and signs of wear. Everything was clean and reasonably well kept. I still think she is a real beauty. The crew were always friendly and greeted you no matter what uniform they were wearing.
The cabin was nice as usual (7641). Herman, our cabin attendant, was outstanding. We saw him many times and he knew us by name. He was very efficient and kept everything clean and neat. He rates a 5.5.
Dining was always good. We had 6:00 seating at table 439. It was a table for 10. We were cruising with two other couples and were joined at the table by another couple and mother-daughter cruisers. We found the selection good and serving adequate. They had no problem bring an extra appetizer, entrÃ©e, or dessert, if you were so inclined. Our attendant was Erica C. with Sherma H. assisting. They were great, both a 5.5.
Breakfast was in Windjammer most mornings. We did have breakfast in the main dining room a few times with our cruise mates. The food was adequate and service good. We had lunch in the Windjammer when in port. We found the Windjammer food quality OK. The service was hit or miss. Some days you were greeted and asked for a drink choice. Other days, we would have to get it ourselves.
Most of the production shows were pretty much the same as last cruise. I was annoyed by the loudness of the female singers; too much amplification for my liking. The guys were OK, just seemed the girls were screaming at us. The ice show is still a must-see. We enjoyed Take-4 in Dizzy's and at the dance party in Studio B. Dizzy's was always packed when they played. Leigh was cruise director and as usual funny and entertaining.
We did the cruise line's excursions for sight-seeing in all 4 ports. We did them because this was the first time in 3 of them and wanted to get a guided look at the islands. Maybe next time we will try something on our own. All were informative.
At the Meet and Mingle we met some of the Cruise Critic folks. That was really nice. The wife and I each won a door prize in the raffle. One was 2 in-room movies, the other $50 internet time. The movie was easy enough; watch the in-room movies and redeem the coupon for credit. The internet time was not so easy.
Per the instructions from Guest Services, I went to royalcaribbean online on deck 8. I then clicked on e-mail, swiped my card, entered my cabin number, and picked the $49.95 internet package. Guest relations had told me that the coupon would be good for 66 minutes of internet time. We used most of that. Each time I logged in, it displayed the credit I had left. I went down to Guest Services with the coupons after we had watched the 2nd movie. The movie charges were deducted from my account OK. The internet charge of $49.95 was not. I went back to Guest Relations and asked why I was not credited for the internet time. He told me it was not the same thing. I had a coupon for $50 of internet time and I had picked a $49.95 package of internet time and they would not credit my onboard account. After trying to get him to explain why, he went in the back and talked to someone. He came back and agreed to credit me $42.51 for the time I had used. So in the end, I paid $7.44 for internet service I was supposed to get free. I didn't argue any farther because by this time there was a line formed behind me and as usual, not enough people in Guest Relations.
This is not the way to entice cruisers to give favorable reviews. If the coupon is for $50, then I should have been credited up to $50. If this is the kind of hassle we have to go through to use the gift coupons, maybe they should stick to giving away trinkets. There, I vented!
Disembarkation was as usual, by luggage tag sequence. We were off by the scheduled time and went through Customs quickly. The shuttle was over an hour late due to construction traffic again. We were off the ship at 10:45 and on the road by 1:00 PM. The return trip was by way of Salam, NH to visit friends, Niagara Falls, and Cleveland to visit more friends.
Except for the internet issue, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We would definitely cruise RCL and Explorer again.