This was the third cruise (2nd on RCCL), first to the Caribbean for DH and me.. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 2:00pm on Sunday, retrieved our luggage and RCCL staff were right there to get us on the shuttle. Embarkation at the pier was a snap and we were in our cabin by 3:00.
The Explorer is beautiful, inside and out. And through-out the cruise we saw the crew at work keeping her that way. Our room was in great shape and the added space in a Junior Suite is a real luxury. We met Iris, our cabin steward, as soon as we got to the room. And even though we didn't see much of her the rest of the week, she took good care of us. The room was made up twice a day and we left her notes if we needed anything extra (ice, pillows, etc.)
We ate in the dining room 3 of the 7 nights, not because we were unhappy with the food or service. It just worked out that way. One night we ate at Johnny Rockets, one night we paid the extra $20 and ate at Portofino's. The other nights we ate at the Windjammer. Just for the record, we really didn't find that much difference in any of the restaurants. The food was reasonably good, service was adequate, selection was acceptable. On the down side, the iced tea and coffee was VERY STRONG - so much so that we diluted it two times over. Doesn't sound like a big deal, except those are two of the only free drinks available.
The ports of call were fun, but were definitely geared to those favoring water sports. Since DH and I aren't really into that, we looked for other activities. In Belize, we took a horse drawn trolley ride around the city. Our driver was knowledgeable and informative. Shops were abundant and the people were friendly. In Costa Maya, we went for the massage on the beach and lunch at the Cat's Meow. More shopping in Cozumel. Grand Cayman was our least favorite because it was much more expensive and commercialized. Most days we were back on our balcony, wine glass in hand, by 3:00pm. A note about the tendering: All those who book their tours through RCCL are tendered first. Then numbered tickets are issued on a first come first served basis. But at that point the system breaks down. It was chaos trying to get everyone lined up according to their tender number. And then once you're in line, its down the stairs, winding round and round the halls in the bowels of the ship. The whole process was confusing and frustrating. The entertainment on board was good. The ice show was outstanding, considering the size of the rink.
Debarkation was as quick and efficient as embarkation, with one exception. Normally, final bills are delivered to the rooms before 5am so you have an opportunity to check it over before you leave the ship. Not this time. We ended up standing in line at the pursers desk waiting to get our final bill while they're calling our luggage color to leave the ship. It was a mess! But once we were off the ship, we found our luggage and cleared customs very quickly. All things considered, the good outweighed the bad and we will be sailing with RCCl again soon.