Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by FireStation46: Fun cruise and Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle helped!
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Fun cruise and Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle helped!
We were part of a forum that started 486 days before we sailed. Over that time almost 2,500 posts were made with over 30,000 page views.
A great deal of information was shared, questions asked and answered.
Our group grew to 150+ people that we met finally at the Meet & Mingle the Royal Caribbean puts on for free on a sailing day outbound. Beyond the M&M we organized other actives aboard ship with those that read the forum and wanted to participate.
We ran an "investment seminar" at the slot machine. We put our $15 in at $5 a yank hoping the last yank would win a big jackpot for all to share. Since we did not hit on the last pull we decided to donate the left over funds to the Make A Wish foundation for some terminally ill child to take a cruise. I gave the funds to the cashier and they announced it over the ship's broadcast system during the walk on board for the Make A Wish foundation.
Now, onto the review of the trip.
We arrived More at 10:30am, off loaded the luggage and checked in. I believe we were onboard by noon in our cabin.
The ship is going into dry dock for repairs/upgrade whatever. So, yes the carpets were worn, the wood railings and such were worn as the paint was in certain areas. It did not distract us from our vacation.
With a very responsive I board crew, things went well.
The food is ok, no 4 Seasons here but I noticed no overt complaints and the usual array of folks with different eating styles from minimal to ' where's the plate?' Types.
Portofino was a nice one night change from the Windjammer or Main Dining room. We did like the "My Time" dining feature.
Activities on board are up to you but generally I did not here if any complainers. We did find a few buffoons that would argue over a lounge chair by the pool, or try and shove themselves past others from the back of the bus and plow forward. However, since our M&M group was so large enough people got the word out that most of us were able to avoid any contact with these few types, even the lady that threw herself across the T-shirt table sale onboard.
They do need to improve the hours of operations for booking on-board for future trips if the OBC and such are a temptation. If finally got my 2016 trip booked but it took a few days of passing by the sales area to get it done.
As I mentioned, if you get past customers with poor manners the ship bound voyage was fun.
Getting off the ship is a different matter.
Not until I was off the ship in Bermuda, did I find out my Snuba excursion was cancelled due to water conditions. I wished RCL and the RCL vendor had established a better communications protocol so I would not be left just standing there. I waited and found my family and we found a last minute replacement, the glass bottom boat tour. On getting on thar boat my camera slipped and fell into the water at the dock. The tour operator asked if it was waterproof, yes it was, and odd he goes diving into the water to recover my camera safe, sound and operable! While he was digging around underwater, I got some dash from my wife to tip him regardless of the outcome for the effort he made! I did get the camera back, the rest if the tour was very nice.
So, lighting strikes again when I get off the ship in St. Marteen. I asked where I should go and was told to disembark. I did not read the instructions on the ticket that wanted us to meet in a certain place on the ship. Those that were there were left there for a long time. Again, more mis-communication between RCL and their vendor, with the vendor making us somewhat uncomfortable with how she was throwing RCL 'under the bus' when I expect it was a mutual foul-up. The trip onshore was nice.
The bus tour in San Juan got off without a hitch and I thought our bad luck was behind us. Actually, part of it was. So e woman would try and push her way from the back to the front when we hit a stop off point. Why she could not wait for an orderly exit from the bus I do not know why but she was that way getting on and off the bus. Not the tour operator's fault but an annoying distraction nonetheless. So, feeling we're were going to have a trip without issues, the bus makes a turn right to go up past the old fort San Juan and his transmission would not get us going. So we started a nice traffic jam trying to get up, backing up, going up until finally the police officer got us turned around and back on course.
Off to Labadee the island RCL has a private lease with Haiti for. Yep, the coordination here went haywire. Whatever RCL badged employee I asked where were the cabins at Nellie's Beach, none of them knew where Nellie's was! They said "Nellies" very clearly in the rest if the sentence in their language they speak. We went through a lot of people, constant handing off and more radio chatter. Finally they found a cabin on the beach an put us there, I still wonder if that was the exact cabin I was supposed to get, the beachhead is mild, nice and no waves. Avoid the sellers in the little huts, they hustle you to no end and can make you feel very uncomfortable. The brick building selling wares was much better, nano hustle and helpful staff. Lunch was fair.
Back on board depending on what your like to do is up to you. I am sure you will read a lot of pluses and minuses on thus forum about certain aspects if whatever.
I still think the M&M set the proper tone with me and the hellos and conversations we had with M&M and non-M&M folks was very enjoyable.
Getting off the ship was late and a pain. Once past customs, I was able to load my car and take my family and luggage home. I did not a long line of vehicles waiting to get into the ship by noon. My advice is to leave early and not to stress. I know some folks may have missed connections/flights etc. if you can, always build in some more cushion if time to allow for fouls ups if your schedule permits.
We had two Superior Balcony cabins and loved them. Quantum in 2015 will be similar but I did get a center back JS for the 2016 cruise :-) Less
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Explorer of the Seas