Explorer of the Seas Review: November 19th through November 26th. A Western Caribbean Cruise with Ports of Call including: Belize City, Belize Costa Maya, Mexico Cozumel, Mexico Georgetown, Grand Cayman.
Departure From Miami:---Check-in---- Our Explorer of the Seas Cruise started in Miami. We arrived at 11:45, dropped of our luggage, and went to park the car. Parking was a little busier than normal because of the Freedom of the Seas being present during this cruise. Other ships in Port included a Norwegian Ship, and two other Carnival Ships. Weather was perfect for cruising. Check-in was so simple and was a delight. We were onboard promptly at 1:00 pm and were able to check out our cabin.
Our Cabin: We had a Junior Suite, 9584, on Deck 9. Our Cabin Steward, Phillip from Trinidad and Tobago, was an expert. The best cabin service I have had in all of my 13 cruises. Animals included Stingrays, Elephants, Monkeys, Rabbits, and Dogs. Just Amazing. He also made sure that the bathroom and the room was clean at all times and was very careful in making sure that he met us as soon as we came to our cabin. He asked what were our preferences for the Mini-Bar and were there any extra services he could do for us. Just Great! The Cabin itself was perfect for three people for a 7 Night Cruise. This was a Junior Suite, and included a large walk-in Closet with shelves and storage. The Closet also acted as a dressing room for some more privacy. The Bathroom was small, but spacious. There was a full size bathtub with shampoo, and sink with storage and mirrors, and designs with tiles and light designs. The Room to the right had twin desks and storage units, with the safe and refrigerator being in the cabinet closest to the Balcony. The desks each had chairs, mirrors, more storage than you could imagine, a TV, and there was full height storage unit closest to the closet with additional shelves for clothes. The new bedding was installed and it is JUST INCREDIBLE. To the side was a full sofa with bed, a coffee table, and two Captains Chairs; very comfortable. The best part of the Junior Suite is the Balcony. Including two chairs, a small table, and a ergonomically chair, the Balcony is very spacious and PRIVATE. Your privacy is in secret when you stay in this room because to the Right is solid steel wall, and to the left is a full length privacy protector&..just great. **Junior Suite Secrets: No Concierge Service. New Bedding and linens did apply to Sofa bed in this cabin.
The Explorer of the Seas: Yes, she is big, but she is just beautiful. There were some peak times when you felt like 3000+ people were onboard, but most of the time, it was like being on a small ship. Elevators were quick, but SLOW when it was busy. The Highlight of the Explorer of the Seas is the Royal Promenade, enclosed by a forward and aft Centrum raising 15 stories in the air. The Royal Promenade itself hosts parades, auctions, and sales. Shops are nice and include a Logo Souvenir Shop, A Perfume Shop, a Clothing Shop, an Arcade, a Sports Bar, and Wine Bar,a 24 hr Cafe, and several others. The Royal Promenade is very nice and is worth seeing for the first time. The rest of the Explorer of the Seas is very nice. Although she is coming up on being 7 years of age, you WILL NOT know it. Carpets were clean, furniture was nice, and only a few wears and tears were visible. Artwork is very nice and classy on this ship, as well as the use of marble, wood, brass, glass, and plants. The Solarium and the Mid Pool are the main pools onboard, with a Kids Pool and slide located on decks 11-13. Although I did not use the Main Pool, there were always seats available along with plenty of room in the pools!! In the Solarium, things were a little more laid back and quiet, but sometimes it will get busy. The Whirlpools on Sea days were packed, while the pool was empty. Chairs could be hard to come by, especially if you were looking for one in the sun. Otherwise, on Port Days, the Solarium was empty, and you could have a chair in the sun, your own personal bar waiter, and your own Whirlpool for HOURS!! So I went to the Solarium and was pleased during Port Days with the luxury, elegance, quietness, and the Spanish/Moroccan Theme! All other bars, lounges, seating areas, golf courses, rock walls, etc were all very nice!! The Aquarium Bar is by far the best, with over 50 tons of Salk Water tanks full of reefs and BEAUTIFUL fish. The Future Cruise Sales, Deck 6, the Library, Deck 7, and the RCCL Online, Deck 8, are all very nice and comfortable for relaxing, checking in on families, and booking another cruise. Be sure to go to Aft Deck 6 for a chance to see amazing cruise ship models of the Royal Caribbean Fleet. The Viking Crown Lounge, 19th Hole Bar, and the Triple Hearts Club are all very nice, and are located on Deck 14. The Theater is a sight to see, rising three stories in the air, it is a masterpiece from Hollywood. Like said earlier, the Explorer of the Seas is in amazing shape and has great public areas to visit.
Spa: I did not use the gym, but was fortunate enough to use the spa. Located on Deck 13, the Spa carries the resemblance of the Solarium into an interior Space. Reservations were hard to come by, so be sure to book one as soon as you board, or contact the Concierge. The Spa was very relaxing and NOT crowded at all. I had a great Swedish massage that got me ready to relax for my cruise! Prices were reasonable while others were high. Overall, I was VERY impressed with the Spa and Gym services and facilities onboard.
Food: I do know this is up to one's opinion and preferences, so here is mine! Located on Decks 3-5, the Main Dining Rooms were a marvel of engineering. Rising three stories in the air and topped off with beautiful gold columns, the Dining Rooms were a treat to dine in. We had table 396, a table for 4 in the PERFECT location. Natasha, our Waiter, Rizaldy our assistant waiter, and Wises, our Head Waiter were the most superior group of professionals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Their friendliness and professionalism was appreciated and sought after among the Dining Room. They were always happy and brought great conversation to the table every night. Food ranges from excellent to Superb for my family and I. We thought that the food we had on this cruise rivaled some of the best cruise cuisine we have experienced. Food included fresh soups, hot and cold, crisp salads, great appetizers, perfect main entrees (steaks, roast beef, chicken, port chops, ham, turkey, fish, lobster, etc), and AMAZING desserts. We were onboard for Thanksgiving, and were delighted to see that Thanksgiving has its OWN menu on Royal Caribbean International Cruises. Entrees included Ham, Turkey, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh salads and soups, and some great desserts. If that wasn't your forte, then you could have opted for a traditional Royal Caribbean Menu and Meal.
Food in the Windjammer was good to excellent, with breakfast sometimes being monotonous, but Lunch and snacks being EXCELLENT! Food was always hot, had great taste/flavor, and was presented nicely. Drinks included the traditional Ice Tea, Lemonade, Water, and Orange Juice, with freshly squeezed Orange Juice with Vitamin C in it for $3.95 plus 15% gratuity.
We did not try Portofino's, but heard RAVE reviews about the food and the service. Johnny Rockets was busy and on high demand, but the Food and Service was great. There is a $3.95 cover charge, with milkshakes and other beverages ranging from $1.75- $3.95 plus 15% gratuity. We did not eat at Cafe Promenade except for a few times, but in those few times, service and food was GREAT!
Service: This will be a quick paragraph. The Service, from Phillip our Stateroom Attendant, to Natasha, Rizaldy, and Wises in the Dining Room, was phenomenal. There aren't words to say about these kind people. Also, Melroy, the Bar Representative, remembered our preferences from day 2 onward. There was always a Diet Coke with Ice Waiting for me at Dinner. It was the details large and small that made the service and the cruise excellent. All Crew Members were happy, professional, friendly, and superb. The service that we received, as commented by other Cruisers onboard, rivaled that of some of the more Smaller and Elegant Cruise Lines and Ships. If that doesn't say something, then you shouldn't be cruising!! Camera Crew, Explorations Staff, Purser's Desk, etc were all superb.
Concierge Lounge: Located on Deck 9, the Concierge Lounge is only available to those Staying in Grand Suites, Owner's Suites, Royal Family Suites, and the Royal Suite. Also, Diamond and Diamond Plus Members in Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society are allowed. I did e-mail the Concierge, Ricky, in advanced in order to get my small table and the ice show tickets. I am a Diamond Member and was able to get access to the lounge through a folder in my room upon arrival. The Concierge Lounge is very big on the ship and accommodated all the Concierge Users on this ship. People were in Suites, others Diamond Members, and one man had 75 Cruises!! He deserved to have the lounge to himself! Ricky was very accommodating, professional, and friendly. He was a joy to work with and made our cruise experience superior.
Entertainment: Ice Shows are Mondays (5:00pm), Tuesday (5:00 pm & 7:00pm), and Wednesday (5:00 pm & 7:00 pm), and on our cruise, we had extra shows worked into the itinerary due to the cancellation of Grand Cayman. The Actual Ice Show is just phenomenal and is a Get Out There experience. Skating on a Cruise Ship is JUST incredible. We did have a special star onboard our cruise that did acrobatics! She was amazing and is only on that cruise for several more weeks. She would skate faster than a bullet in one second, and would be in the air holding on by her finger the next!! Just AMAZING!! Other shows, as well as parades, were just great. Parades Include the Bon Voyage Parade and on this cruise, we had our own version of a Macy's Day Parade, the Island Frenzy, down the Royal Promenade. We personally did not go to many shows, but did go to the MAGIC SHOW! It was great entertainment and I even learned some magic secrets!! Overall, entertainment was superb!
Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel: In Belize, we did the Airboat Ride and City Tour, which was great. We got to see the Good and the Bad of Belize, and experience the wilderness of the Mexican Lands. In Costa Maya we went to the Checchoben Mayan Ruins, where we encountered marvels of engineering in picturesque landscaping and jungles. In Cozumel, we shopped until we dropped, while others took great snorkeling and parasailing adventures. These Ports were all excellent and really was the Reason why we picked this cruise. Unfortunately, Grand Cayman was canceled due to Rough Seas and nasty weather. Instead, we had two relaxing sea days back to Miami.
Closing Comments and Cruise Secrets: The Explorer of the Seas surpassed our expectations of an amazing cruise. With excellent service, phenomenal food, great accommodations, and stupendous entertainment, this cruise turned into a lifetime memory that all should experience and enjoy in the future. Royal Caribbean, as seen on the Explorer of the Seas, prides itself in offering guests entertainment, unparalleled ships, elegance if wanted, and a cruise experience like no other. On the Explorer of the Seas, being Diamond Members, returning guest are treated like Royalty and are appreciated for their loyalty throughout the cruise. The Explorer of the Seas is a great ship that offered us a great Family Vacation that features fun and relaxation. To those that haven't cruised this ship yet, I suggest you do, you will not be disappointed! As they say onboard, may your next Cruise have calm seas and a following breeze.
Secrets: **On Deck 4, the Atmospheric Lab Setup rivals some of those found on land. This section does not require registration and is filled with fun things. It is on the Aft Starboard Side on Deck 4, just forward from the Centrum. **To gain access to the main lab, sign up in the Library on Deck 7 Aft. **Arrive at the Port of Miami around 11:30, as boarding started promptly at noon, regardless of the fact that on the street, it says boarding starts at 2:00 pm. **If you want to get off the ship early and are a Diamond/Diamond Plus Member, make sure to take advantage of the Priority Departure from the ship. **Go to the ice show, it is well worth your time. **Parades are on the first night at 11:15pm. with the "Island Frenzy" occurring on Thanksgiving around 5:45 pm. **Most of all, enjoy yourself, after all, you are on a Cruise.