My wife and I booked this cruise because we wanted to check out Bermuda without investing too much time and effort. This was our 47th cruise and tenth on Royal Caribbean - the tenth gave us Diamond status that, for the first time in our cruising experience, gave us really tangible benefits (more later).
We drove from our home in Arlington, Virginia, to Port Liberty and parked in the Central Parking facility - $15 per day is too expensive to park outside and the parking area is a hike from the terminal (shuttle vans were sporadic). It was deja vu for us as the terminal area used to be the Army port for Europe and we shipped cars through there four times. There is still a water tower on the site with U S Army painted on it. The cruise terminal was not impressive but operated efficiently - having a Junior Suite gave us expedited status but all categories boarded quickly.
When entering the ship we were on our own. Most ships these days offer a glass of champagne and have someone to guide you to your stateroom. The Junior Suite was very nice - plenty of space - the walk-in closet a real benefit - bathroom a little small. Our Stateroom Attendant turned out to be very efficient and helpful. Only downer was dirty curtains on the balcony windows with torn hems on the bottom. We ordered breakfast in the room on the first morning and were very surprised when the waiter put the tray on the vanity and left - on all other ships the waiter sets up the breakfast ready to eat. Royal Carib needs to get with it.
Getting around the huge ship was surprisingly easy. The Royal Promenade - a combination activities center and shopping mall, was fantastic. As noted in other reviews, the first night "Island Frenzy" parade is not to be missed - get there early to sit in one of the street cafes or pubs - and don't forget your camera. We have never experienced anything that was so much fun on a cruise ship. The Promenade Cafe, that offered free coffee and snacks 24 hours a day, was very popular and a good place to hang out. On the 4th day of the cruise, there was a "70's Street Party" on the Promenade - also a lot of fun with lots of passenger participation.
There are plenty of nice bars on the ship - we spent most of our evenings in "Dizzie's," on the 14th deck with a good view of the main pool area. Good drinks and friendly service.
The variety of activities was awesome - a putt-putt golf course, full size basketball court, large pool area, and the famous rock climbing wall. There was also an attractive games room, with space for eight tables of bridge. It was fully stocked with all the card and game equipment needed - on most ships you have to beg, borrow, and steal. Bingo was well run, with a good caller, but expensive ($35 for five sheets with six cards on each sheet) but the games paid pretty well, about $200-600 - the final jackpot game was $5,500.
We took one excursion, the "Island Overview Tour," that pretty well covered all of Bermuda. We liked the Bermudians we met and the island seems well run and prosperous. We were a little disappointed in the flora and fauna because I guess we were expecting the island to look like Disney World.
The "Diamond" category gave us entry to the "Concierge Club," a very nice lounge with entry by key card only. The manager was a very sharp young man, Ricky, who personally supervised a continental breakfast in the morning and quality hors d'oeuvres and drinks in the evening. He also provided the usual concierge services. The club was open 24 hours a day with a machine that made coffee, espresso and very good cappuccino. A real benefit that may influence people to rebook on Royal Carib.
The Casino was large and has a good variety of slot machines. We don't play table games but they looked well run.
Our impression of the food was along the same lines as most other reviews - with some exceptions, pretty mediocre. The Windjammer lounge had plenty of choices and if you chose carefully was a good place to eat. Same thing in the dining room, where we ate every night because we had a great group at our table. Felt sorry for our waiter, who was good, because our table was farthest from the kitchen. Service was slow, probably because the of the huge number of passengers. All in all, we were satisfied with the food.
Generally speaking, we would recommend cruising on the Explorer of the Seas.