This was my husband and my first cruise and we are officially addicted! We flew down Miami 4 days prior to embarkation and stayed at The National Hotel in South Beach. We absolutely loved it and were relaxed and ready for cruise adventure on Explorer of the Seas.
We took a cab from South Beach to the Port of Miami which was about $25 and was very quick. When we reached the port we were a bit overwhelmed but figured out the drill pretty quick - tip KEEP YOUR RCCL GUEST VACATION DOCUMENTS OUT OF YOUR LUGGAGE AND IN YOUR HANDS - YOU WILL NEED IT. After tipping the luggage handlers we were on our way through the line which moved unbelievably quickly. We took our photos and were on the ship.
We ventured to our stateroom which was an L category inside stateroom, cabin 1581. I was pleasantly surprised by the size - it's perfect for two people that only plan on sleeping in there - we had everything we needed. My only disappointment that lead to a temporary meltdown was the cleanliness of the bathroom. There were actual dark stains on the toilet that were not permanent if you get my drift. I called my stateroom attendant who argued with me about whether or not the toilet was really dirty. I am not a complainer so I felt very awkward about this conversation. He cleaned it but I will say - I felt very queasy about the cleanliness of the room. NOTE - BRING CLOROX WIPES WITH YOU AND YOU CAN AVOID THIS SITUATION. Believe me; I will have them on all future cruises.
We then went to the Windjammer to check it out and buy our soda packages. We weren't hungry so we just checked it out - it was well organized chaos and I was very happy to see all of the antibacterial hand stations available. Overall, I found that the Windjammer food was satisfactory. It didn't blow my mind but it was certainly edible and served its purpose.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the Explorer. We did the spa tour, signed up for some fitness classes, checked out the royal promenade and were just in awe. The public areas of the ship are AMAZING. The areas were clean, well maintained and the staff was absolutely superb!!! Next we had our second seating dinner in Magellan. We purchased the 5 bottle wine package and had amazing dinners each night in the dining room. I found each nights selections to be outstanding and enjoyed every one of my meals and I am a very picky eater. We sat at a table for 10 which was nice because one of the couples did not talk to anyone - just each other.
Each night we went to the shows being offered, attended events like the Love & Marriage game show, The Quest, 80's night, etc. While these are by no way Broadway shows they are very entertaining and that is what you're there for, right? There were so many things to do on the ship that it was hard to believe that we had to get off the ship for our booked excursions!
Our itinerary included Labadee, Haiti and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We chose to do the walking tour in Haiti which was nice, informative and lasted about 1 hour. We then
walked around, took pictures, ate lunch and got back on the ship for some relaxation at the Solarium. I loved the Solarium - my only wish is that RCCL would actually enforce the ADULTS ONLY policy. I saw lots of little kids running around and that was rather irritating. In Ocho Rios we chose the Original Canopy Tour - zip lines through the jungle. Great excursions but beware - you will have to wear the sweaty, stinky equipment that others have worn (icky.) Great time though. After our excursion we did some perusing of the shops and got the hard sell on some very expensive jewelry. If you're not interested in high end jewelry you can probably skip the shopping market near the port.
Overall we had such an amazing experience on the Explorer of the Seas that we booked another cruise on the Liberty of the Seas for April 2008 for 7 nights (5 nights wasn't long enough) we wanted to cry when we had to leave the ship! We are officially addicted to cruising and check the RCCL website EVERYDAY! We can't imagine booking with another line. Our latest stalking of the site resulted in our booking a 5 night cruise on Enchantment of the Seas for Jan 2008. Like I said, we are addicted. Once you go RCCL you'll never go back!