Hello, I must admit that we were a little nervous reading some of the reviews and the average or negative comments about the food on Explorer of the Seas, mostly MDR. Happily this was not our experience. My wife and I cruised with RCI back in 1993 and with Carnival three times (2010, 2011, and 2012). The cheaper Carnival cruises had good food, but the quality of the food on the Explorer of the Seas was excellent. We enjoyed stellar efficient service from the MDR with hot high quality meals. We dined one night in Portofino and the food rivaled the finest restaurants we have ever eaten in. The Windjammer/ island grill was also excellent with every possible combination of food. Much better than cafeteria food described on other posts. Ship is dated and ready for a refit of the cabins and hallways, but fastidiously clean and in good order. The common areas are first rate, do not appear dated and far exceeded the newly refurbished Carnival Conquest class ships we had been on.
The entertainment on the Carnival ships were all identical, and very high school production. In fact on the Glory last March the music for the big broad-way number was an IPOD plugged in and run by the ACD, and the show was repeated a second night to a crowd of bored cruisers. By comparison Explorer of The Seas had a live band, different entertainment every night, the headliners were great and thoroughly entertaining. The ice show was also very good. We took this cruise to scope out the ship for a summer drive to New Jersey and take the kids (Teens) cruising. Kid activities are plentiful with an in-line roller blading rink, mini putt course, golf simulator, rock climbing wall, ping pong tables, decent basketball and soccer court, large games room, movie theatre and the real ice rink with skating for the kids three times a day. Add pools and hot tubs and the whole family will be entertained.
The royal promenade is a great place to browse or sit with a pastry/ice cream/coffee or favorite drink and just hang out listening to live bands or people watching.
I can't say that we ever encountered a grumpy employee on the ship, everyone smiled, when eating in the Windjammer, officers and staff alike would clear plates, get you beverages, and always ask to ensure you were enjoying yourself.
Our last comment will be about the Captain and the CD (Leigh) and ACD (Erky). Captain Henrik Loy was very visible as were his officers. They interacted with the passengers and always thanked them for cruising. The Captain communicated several times a day about weather and position of the ship. A credit to him and the way he runs his ship, the entire ship understands they are there for the passengers and they delivered. The CD and the ACD are an incredible funny, witty, and down to earth team who can put a smile on anyone's face. By the end of the cruise people would crack a smile when Erky walked in a room, and he loves his job.
Summary; thank you RCI, EOS Captain and staff, you have renewed my faith in cruising with such a great vacation. We don't know why we didn't cruise Royal sooner.