We thoroughly enjoyed our Spring Break cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. Though the seas were quite rough throughout the entire week, and the weather could have been better, we still managed to have a relaxing enjoyable cruise. My husband and I, both in our early 50's sailed with our son, 16 and his best friend.
We arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:30 am. Though I am a Crown and Anchor Platinum member, we did not need to take advantage of priority boarding as there were no lines waiting for check in. The only line we encountered was the line to have our photo taken after we had received our seapasses. Once on the ship we went to our adjoining atrium staterooms, 7291 and 7293. They were centrally located and noise was never a problem during the week. There were some problems with the rooms however. Our son's room reeked of cigarette smoke. Since our son has asthma, this was more of a problem than just an unpleasant odor. The edges of the mattresses in our room were higher than the center. This could be seen even with the bed fully dressed with sheets and a bedspread. I found our cabin steward Helen and addressed both issues with her. She told me that the man who had my son's cabin in the past sailing was a very heavy smoker. She said she would see what she could do about both problems. She sprayed something in my son's room but it didn't help at all.
I had asked her to either get new mattresses for our room or at the very least, place a padded mattress cover on our bed. unfortunately she just didn't understand how to correct the situation, as she placed a thin sheet of foam under our bed. I woke up the next morning with quite a backache. I went to the purser's desk early in the morning and asked that something be done about the smoke and mattress issue. Though I was very nice about it, and said Please and Thank You a lot, I got the impression that my request was falling on deaf ears. Thank goodness for my invitation to the Welcome Back Party for platinum and Diamond Members. I usually don't attend these events but since it was raining, and I couldn't catch any rays at the pool, I decided to go. To my great delite they Head of Housekeeping and the Hotel Manager were both there. I explained my problem to them and within a very short time, we had brand new mattress and the carpet in my son's room was shampooed, which took care of the smokey smell. After these issues were dealt with it was smooth sailing (at least as far as service goes) for the rest of the cruise.
The food was pretty good-certainly not as good as on Celebrity, but I still managed to gain 5 lbs in a week. I was disappointed with the food in Johnny Rockets however. Luckily there was no charge on the Explorer for their food. I thought the hamburger was just awful. My 16 year old who will inhale just about anyone's hamburgers felt the same way. The fries and onion rings were ok-but nothing special. My husband did enjoy his milkshake quite a bit. We had good service at dinner. We were seated at a table for 8, but there was just our foursome, and another couple (brother and sister) at dinner each night. Dinners were enjoyable with good food and conversation. On Tuesday night my husband and I dined at Portifinos. As most everyone before us has stated, the food and service were great. My desert was a work of art. It was most definitely worth the $20 per person charge. Our table mates, Mindy and David's cabin was also an atrium which was across from ours.
On Friday, our son's birthday, they decorated their window with "Happy Birthday Bryan". It was very special and very much appreciated. I also prearranged with RCL to have our son's room decorated. It included a birthday cake which they brought to his room, but there is now a charge if you want a Birthday cake served in the dining room. They will place a candle in a dessert and sing Happy Birthday for no charge. In the isn't this a small world category, on the last night of the cruise, when we were saying our final goodbye's to our tablemates, they mentioned that they have a relative who lives somewhere near us. We live in South Florida and come from a rather large city. Well to make a long story short, their aunt lives on our street, three houses down from us. One of the high points of the cruise was the entertainment.
The production shows were very good and our headliners were "The Platters". There were also several comedians and acrobats who were all very entertaining. The Quest was great fun as usual. We won one of the games of trivia, and I won the coveted Aqua Mouse at the Meet and Mingle. The new CD, James Andrews attended the Meet and Mingle and he spoke with me at length. I was quite impressed with him and thought he did a wonderful job throughout the entire cruise. My husband and one other passenger performed at the passenger talent show. I was a little disappointed that they did not video the performance after they told us that would. They also did not give either of the performers any sort of gift or token to recognize their efforts. Still it was really great to hear my husband sing which he rarely does in public. Our cruise was to the Eastern Caribbean, which is port intensive. I tend to prefer more days at sea, but I do love the Virgin Islands. Since my son's friend had never been on a cruise before, we took a tour in every port. I set up all the tours except one with Port Promotions and was not disappointed. We used Godfrey who I learned about on the boards for our tour in St. Thomas. Though I had booked with him over 6 months ago, and confirmed our reservation on 4 separate occasions, he had no record of my reservation. It worked out in the end, but for a few minutes, I had one very angry husband.
All in all we really did have a very nice time. Though there may have been some things which were not perfect, they were either dealt with in a timely manner or in the big picture just didn't matter all that much. The good far outweighed the bad. We felt that we really did receive good service, which to us can make or break our vacation. I am in the process of planning our next cruise for our nth anniversary, and will most probably sail on RCL or Celebrity.