My wife and I went on the 5 day cruise on the Explorer of the Seas out of Bayonne, NJ to Bermuda. Our only other experiences with cruising were 2 cruises on Carnival, The Legend of the Seas, and 1 cruise on The Pride. We had a Junior Suite on all our cruises. Royal Caribbean does an excellent job with embarkation and debarkation. It is extremely well organized. Carnival did a good job with embarkation but debarkation was chaotic. That being said, we would definitely choose Carnival over Royal Caribbean on any future cruises. We had cabins in the back of the ship on Carnival with a wrap around balcony with plenty of room to lie out in the sun. The Explorer balcony was so small it could barely fit a couple of chairs to sit on and was completely enclosed. You would not get wet if it rained but you will also not get any sun. The room on Carnival was also far superior. It had a bedroom and separate sitting space and a Jacuzzi tub. RC had a bath tub, no Jacuzzi, and the room is only a little bigger then the standard balcony room. Our biggest disappointment with Royal Caribbean was the food in the main dining room. Every meal we arrived cold. There was also not much to choose from and the portions were very small. The staff was professional but not particularly pleasant. The only thing we liked was our dinner companions who were wonderful. On Carnival we looked forward to every meal. It was always excellent. The staff on Carnival always made meal time a fun and festive time. They always went out of there way to make you happy. The staff on RC simply did there job. One day I was in the Windjammer at about 2:45 pm and I started to take some fruit salad. I was asked by member of the staff to please not take it until after 3:00 pm. I had no problem with this but I know it would not have happened on Carnival. The food in the Windjammer was another disappointment. Carnival always had many different choices and everything was delicious. You could also get something to eat at any time of day. On RC you better not miss a meal because the Windjammer closes at 9:30 pm. RC's idea of a vegetarian meal is pasta. They vary the types of pasta. One day spaghetti; one day ziti...Carnival always had delicious and original vegetarian meals. There are also no trays on RC. You need to carry your plate and silverware with you. I found this to be somewhat irritating. We were also very disappointed by the gym on the Explorer. The free weights were totally inadequate and old. My wife needs some light weights and there were none. The weight machines were old and some had visible rust. There were some very good things about the Explorer of the Seas. The Ice show was amazing and should not be missed. We took the Bike and Beach tour and The Ultimate Catamaran in Bermuda and both excursions were great. The ship itself is clean and well maintained. The jogging track is great and they keep the deck chairs clear of it so you can run or walk any time of day. There is a lot less smoking on this ship compared to Carnival which I really liked. Even the Casino is almost smoke free. Portofino's is amazing and well worth the extra money. The pasta, the salads and the desserts were all great. There is always something to do on the Explorer. The pools are bigger then those on the Legend so you can really swim. The hot tubs are excellent. The climbing wall and basketball court are great. Jonny Rockets is also good and fun. But on Carnival there are freshly made burgers and fries right next to the pool free of charge. You could also get a steak sandwich and a salad which you can't get at Jonny Rockets. The pizza on the Explorer is not good especially when compared to the pizza on Carnival. I do think that the coffee on the Explorer was better than the coffee on the Legend. The live poolside music was much better on Carnival. People were always dancing and having a good time. The band on the Explorer played a couple of songs then they left. One day there was a shower. They never came back even after the sun came out. The band on the Legend played all the time and always seemed to be enjoying them selves as did everyone at the pool. The passengers on the Explorer were also much more serious then the people on our Carnival cruises. Not a lot of smiling or friendliness. One day there was a game of dodge ball and I thought it would be fun to go watch. It was played with deadly seriousness by grown men. I haven't seen a game of serious dodge ball since grade school so it was amusing but a little hard to believe. I wish that Carnival would have some new itineraries on ships that sail from NYC. I don't think that we would sail again on Royal Caribbean unless they make some major changes. We hated to leave the Legend after an 8 day cruise and we really felt sad. We had become attached to the people on the ship, our waiters, assistant waiters and fellow passengers. Carnival always makes sure you are happy and having a good time. There is no such concern on Royal Caribbean. I guess they expect you to be happy with a beautiful ship and that is all.