RCL ~EXPLORER OF THE SEAS ~ MY REVIEW
April 3, 2004 Sailing
Port ~ Miami
Itinerary ~ Eastern Caribbean
This was our second cruise on Explorer and my personal 13th RCl cruise ~ three more making 16th total cruises (1 Princess & 1 Carnival) and one Windjammer out of Maine. My heart will always belong to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Just the sight of RCL's ships is exciting!
Embarking......Diamond Members so it was very fast. We booked a pre cruise thru RCL and it was wonderful. We stayed at the Hyatt, had adjoining rooms and RCL provided our transportation to the hotel from the airport and to the ship the next day. Our cabin steward was one of the best we have ever had. Our cabins were made up as soon as we left them. "V" accommodated & anticipated the fact that my 16 month Granddaughter would be taking a nap daily. In the evenings, same service.....made up as soon as we left our cabins. He made us cute towel animals and the cabin was always clean, refrigerator refilled, ice in buckets, etc. Special little things were done for the baby by 'V'. Our robes were always there, dry and clean. We let him know just how much we appreciated him too ~ realize it is his job, but picking up for 7 females, in two adjoining cabins, is no easy task! (and remember one was a 16 month old) Needless to say, 'V' received a great tip! All our luggage arrived by 4 PM and we found that we had ample space for all our clothes and shoes. Having adjoining cabins is always a plus for the 7 of us....as is having the 2 balconies. Friends of the family had an inside across from our 2 cabins....that worked out wonderfully....although, next cruise, they are going to get a balcony cabin too ;o) Sunday was our first day at sea. Several in our family decided to sun for the day and had no problem finding lounge chairs.....but did notice the chair police out and enforcing. If you got up to use the restroom and were gone too long, your belongings were taken off the chair and it became someone else's. They felt their 'policing' was a bit too strict in some cases. Guess there is no easy solution to this situation. RCL pools are salt water so always fresh and clean. We enjoyed them very much. We have cruised this itinerary so much, we decided not to take another excursion when we stopped in St. Thomas or Puerto Rico.....although most of us did get off the ship and shop. In St. Martin, 4 from our family went on an excursion - Beach/Snorkel. Felt it was too much and not really enough time. Next time, will just go to a beach. In St. Thomas we shopped in the AM and came back on the ship, ate and enjoyed the pool with a lot less people! In PR 5 went shopping while 2 of us stayed back to relax around the pool. NASSAU....it was Good Friday so all the downtown stores were closed....not a surprise to us. We planned around this and went to the straw market and bought some traditional pocketbooks and a few items to bring home to friends. Senior Frogs was open & we enjoyed it in there ;o) FYI: Full head of braids was $100. and my niece has very long hair.
FOOD: Windjammer - We found the food to be delicious and a nice variety.
ROOM SERVICE: Most mornings we ordered room service for breakfast and ate on our balconies. It was relaxing and not a rush. My Mother and I also ordered late in the evenings when everyone else was out and we were baby-sitting the baby ;o) A+ room service.
DINING ROOM: Service was very good. Presentation attractive. Roy and his assistant took care of us very well.....mannerly and helpful. The dining room shows were same ~ entertaining. The FOOD in dining room on the whole was not impressive. The cold soups were to die for - Peach and Banamarama were my two favorites! Turkey dinner, I was told, was great. Steaks were OK, Prime Rib better. Veal was very good. Chicken -good. Desserts all looked yummy although I did not have any. My sister-in-law enjoyed all the seafood dishes she ordered. One niece ordered Caesar Salad with Chicken every night and loved it. Nice variety for the baby.....she had lots of special attention too ;o) Johnny Rockets will be charging VERY soon on Explorer as well as all their ships...this was explained to us at the Meet and Mingle Party. Not a real issue with me - if on vacation and I wanted JR for my meal, I would go for it. I didn't this cruise but nieces did. We have a JR in a mall near us at home. We decided not to go to Portofino's this cruise. Rating foods is so hard because we are all so different......I do not cruise for the food (there is always something I like and eat) so hope this helps and does not change anyone's plans re: cruising with RCL. I have been on other cruise ships and liked their food less and others better. A lot has to do with the Chef, but most of all personal taste.
SHOWS: RCL is known for it's fantastic shows and again they did not let us down. Do not miss the ice show! It is just fantastic....although the same show we saw before when we were on Explorer, we still enjoyed seeing it again. Hal Frazier came aboard ship for a show. I did not go to it. No one in my family did so I cannot comment on the show itself.
INTERNET: We decided not to take our laptops this year for service in our cabins.....using the Internet cafe was almost as easy and worked well for me. I was able to email my husband daily and he me. That is the only reason I use Internet -to email my husband ;o) otherwise, I would not take the time to play on a computer while on vacation. MEET & MINGLE ;o).... Our Meet and Mingle Party was a huge success. Our teens met and had a wonderful week together. They are probably busy on their own computers now emailing back and forth! I know the adults I met are wonderful people.....again, thank you for the Meet and Mingle Cruise Critic and RCL ;o)
My family of Gals are booked on RCL Serenade of the Seas already for next Easter. We were booked on Jewel of the Seas, but decided on Serenade instead. That may even change - but for now ~ we are booked ~ March 26th, 2005 and hope to book on the Ultra Voyage Class RCL ship Easter 2006.
CASINO......a few in our family won ~ always a good thing ;o)
Thumbs down to all the cruise lines for charging so much for the soda cards. It cost $48. which did include tax and gratuity, for an adult soda card. I felt a bit steep for soda fountain cola.
Ice cream was all over the ship.....always a plus.
The Explorer is a beautiful ship with a fantastic staff. Dana, at the Purser's Desk, was probably my favorite person on the ship. He is such a nice person.
Had no problem getting a wheelchair for my Mother, and we did not order one ahead because she felt she would not need one. I think part of that was luck, but we were most grateful.
Actually we liked some changes that they offer Diamond Members.....the gifts and treats delivered to the cabins almost daily were a wonderful surprise. Thank you RCL.
Happy cruising! Lindy