This was our 5th RCCL cruise and first time on the Explorer.
There were five of us; me, my husband, our two sons, ages 17 & 20 and their 17 year old friend.
Embarkation: We took a car service from NYC to Cape Liberty which took around 20 minutes and arrived around 10:30am to a massive amount of people exiting and arriving at the port. At first it seemed very chaotic but once we found a porter to take our luggage, the process went more smoothly inside. Hopefully, when this port is renovated, they will eliminate the shuttle bus to and back from the ship. We were on the ship before noon.
Ship: The ship was quite nice and in better shape than I expected. Our 8th deck balcony cabin was a nice size compared to NCL. It was also quiet and not too far from the Windjammer or the Promenade deck. However, this was a NYE cruise so we rarely got to use our balcony but I was happy to have the light and the boys were happy with their inside cabin. I love having a promenade on the ship; pleasant to walk around and grab a coffee or treat without trekking up to the Windjammer.
Because it was cold outside, we used the spa's indoor hot tub which was so nice. We had a couple of solarium days in the Bahamas where we could relax outdoors.
Entertainment: The cruise director, Leigh, was fabulous! He is one talented and funny guy. On past ships, the CD's are more in the background but he really added to the fun on this ship and to all the shows, which were mostly good. The comedians, ice show, love and marriage show were the most enjoyable for us. We also enjoyed the trivia and it was nice being together with the boys every morning which was always a fun way to start our day. New Year's Eve in the promenade was jam packed but still a fun experience.
Dining: I am a vegetarian (not vegan) and I found the variety of food to be greatly lacking on this ship especially compared to the Oasis and Allure where the food in their Solarium cafes were outstanding. Not that I was ever hungry, mind you; just not the best selection of veggie food that wasn't laden with cheese and oil. Kumar in the Windjammer and Arvind, our head waiter in the MDR, really came to my rescue and made sure I had some great Indian veggie meals which I did love.
However, breakfast is my favorite meal when cruising and there is always a great selection of delicious fresh fruit, muesli, waffles, pancakes etc!!!
Ports: The boys did the air boat excursion in Port Canaveral and enjoyed that.
Because we were in Nassau on New Years Day, we just walked around town and opted to not go to Atlantis which always seems like a zoo. I was hoping the indoor water park excursion would be available for the teens but it wasn't on this ship. We stayed on the ship at Coco Cay because the water was very rocky. The boys did the waterslide and had a fun time but again, beware of the rocky water which can be dangerous without water shoes.
Debarkation: We did self assist where we took our own luggage off the ship. Again, on the many other cruises we have taken from other ports, this was a simple process. However, at Cape Liberty, it's a pain to get off the ship, then get your luggage on the shuttle for the 2 minute drive and then take it off to get out. Hopefully, this will be eliminated when they renovate.