With 27 members of our family alongside, our cruise on the Explorer of the Seas had to be the most disappointing family cruise ever. And we have done many. As avid cruisers (more then 50 cruises for me and my wife) we expected a certain level of quality of food, entertainment, service and hospitality. All fell well short. Can you imagine having turkey served TWICE in nine days on what should be a elegant cruise line? Believe it! The "daily steak" on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line menu was the same as the "steak and cheese" sandwich delivered by room service. The quality for a sandwich was good. The quality for a fine dinner was dismal. Clearly the cruise line promotes their guest to buy drink packages. It was also clear that once the packages were purchased the bar staff and open bars were difficult to find. While the famous "midnight buffets" are a thing of the past the Explorer of the Seas now provides only a Cafe to provide the late night snacks for thousands of passengers. Not a level of service one expects from a cruise line. The singers and dancers provided POOR performances at best. There were headliner magician, singer and comedian who were very good but the company that sails daily with the ship were terrible. Harsh but true. The cruise director and activity director were great and their staff were fun. Unfortunately, they couldn't make up for the shortcomings of off-off-off-off broadway level singers and dancers. The buffet was marginal at best for dinner and lunch. The breakfast, both buffet and sit down restaurant were cold and uninviting. For breakfast in the dinning room one day we had 6 of us. We were paired with another couple and expressed surprise to the hostess seating us. He comment was "well you should have asked for a table for just you." Some customer satisfaction driven crew might have offered a more empathetic tone and who knows maybe accommodated their "guest" with a table for six.
The bottom line we will most likely avoid Royal Caribbean Cruises going forward. Additionally, we will strongly discourage others to sail with them. Norwegian Cruises clearly offer superior cruises, entertainment, food and services for more reasonable fares in my opinion.