Here is my opinion of Explorer of the Seas. History is I have cruised Carnival and more recently, Princess. Explorer details are first, then there's a brief comparison at the end. Please keep in mind these are my opinions. We arrived at Port Liberty at 1:30 or so, checked in, got shuttle, and in the cabin at 2 so embarkation was a breeze. Quite windy the first day at sea to Bermuda. Biggest waves I've ever seen on a cruise and the ship did get jostled a bit. Still loved it.
Beautiful cabins. I like that the bed is by the sliding glass door to hear the water going by. Bathrooms are large by cruise cabin standards; loved the capsule for the shower. I felt like Dr. Evil going into my freezing chamber when I closed the doors. Lots of room in the shower and no yucky curtain hitting me. Dirty couch not too appealing and showing wear. Liked the pastels in the room and general décor. Lots of cabinet space and hidden shelves (behind mirror). Loved the angled full-length mirror. Cabinets weren't too clean though and the drawer they keep the blow dryer in was gross. Different cabins had different balconies; some had angled glass and some had metal as all are molded into the ship. Beds ok, pillows too hard for my liking. Did not like that they painted our balcony (needed it badly) the day we were in Bermuda. The paint stinks! I noticed different balconies had different chairs. Some in our party could hear conversations in the rooms next door to them so it's not too soundproof.
Everything about the ship is gorgeous and well maintained. Wide promenade deck to walk around the entire ship. Dining room was most beautiful I've ever seen—3 stories. Each story has its own name so it's easy to find your table. Lots of windows. Service at our table could've been better but asst. waiter was on the ball. Had to ask for drinks each night. Food nothing spectacular so that was disappointing.
They advertise cell phone coverage being available; I didn't find my t-mobile cell phone worked at sea but I saw one person talking on their phone outside their room. My dad's t-mobile phone got service just outside the skating place on deck 3. I didn't get any at all nor on Bermuda, yet it worked on St. Thomas and St. Maarten in the past. I really didn't care though!
Jazz lounge on deck 12 (?)was nice. Overlooking pool area of ship. TV had lots of channels and movies showing, and I liked viewing our account there.
Ice skating show was fantastic. Don't miss it if you like skating. All the skaters were good and such pretty girls and handsome guys! Get your tix the first night onboard for the show of your choice. Shows were Sunday at 3 and 5 and Wed at 3 and 5.
Game rooms, basketball, ping pong, mini golf, inline skating. Rock climbing wall has VERY limited hours.
Formal night was Sunday (second night).
Riding on the bow of the ship was great, though closed the first day at sea due to high winds. Cool to go under the Verazanno bridge so close! Onboard games were fun. We played "Name that TV theme song", our team WON Name that Disco tune, and played "Finish the lyrics". Quest was fun to watch. The Chamber (nightclub) was great. Goth themed. But good music and dancing. Last night seemed to have fewer people unfortunately! Hot tubs not very hot. Liked that around the decks windows can be opened for a nice sea breeze as you're lounging outside. Poolside waiter rip off: Drink special was $7.75 for margarita and keep the glass. He came back and the bill was over $11 so I checked and he had charged $9.75. I told him to check the Cruise Compass—this drink is $7.75 today. He said well that's in a regular glass. Fortunately had my copy with me and showed him KEEP THE GLASS next to $7.75. He continued to make excuses why it wasn't $7.75. Even said they didn't check with the bar before printing! I said, well that's RC's problem and they need to honor the advertised price. He said he'd need a manager and I said that's fine, I'll wait. Waited a bit and then he came back with the charge credited and then charged for the regular margarita price and that he'd take the glass back!! I told him that's fine and I'll take this issue to Guest Services because it's just plain dishonest to advertise a price and charge more. Though I was nice throughout the exchange with him, it was still annoying. Ended up he charged us regular price and we did keep the glass, but I didn't appreciate the hassle and how he kept making excuses. So check your bill when you order the specialty drinks. It wasn't the $2—it was the principle—honor prices you put on Cruise Compass!! Johnny Rockets was fun and the food was great. They (employees and patrons) yell HELLO and BYE as others enter and leave. The onion rings are great. Note that besides the $3.95 upcharge to eat here, there is charge for all drinks including malts (delicious), shakes, soda, etc. And juke box plays and employees occasionally dance. I found Guest Services occasionally understaffed. When the line is 20 people long, please get some more people working the counter. Promenade area very nice to sit or wander and people- and parade-watch. Most of the food shops there are for-fee. Still was an entertaining place and very attractive. Food. This is where we were all (6) disappointed. Buffet food too much the same all the time and a lot was not appealing. I liked the stir fry the best where you put the veggies and meats of choice in a bowl and they cook and season it for you. Nice n spicy. Burgers just lying there. Salads were nice. Cookies are indeed good as others have mentioned. Heavy, greasy breakfast items and the bacon was horribly undercooked every day. I do like the buffet setup and the large open back dining area that overlooks the water in the aft. They need pizza and burger stations like other lines have since neither of these items were good at all. Service in buffet area quite good. Also learned that past 9pm your only options were Johnny Rockets or room service!
We all got airbrushed tattoos! Some areas too smoky. Casino staircase is in Promenade area and a lot of times the smoke would waft up to the Promenade. Not a smoker so I didn't care for that. Wish they had decks of cards like Princess or a game room. At one point the aft of the ship promenade level (or whatever one you can walk all the way around the ship) reeked of sewage and you couldn't walk to the back.
Found most employees to be very friendly and helpful. Express walk-off with luggage, done by an average of one quarter of ship guests regularly, was smooth. We were off at 8. Had to hear pax, young and old, complaining that people's bags were brushing their legs, etc. Yes you're all in a small space with luggage, but you'll be off soon.
Bermuda was beautiful. They've built up the Royal Dockyards area nicely but it is far removed from anywhere else. Ferries run to St. Georges and Hamilton regularly. We rented a scooter and explored. Be careful though, island drivers will ride close to you, and we had one incident where it was one lane only open and the traffic directing guy told us to come on to the other lane, yet the pink bus kept coming right toward us! And the locals with cars come very close to the scooters which I did not like. So just be careful. Horseshoe Beach is gorgeous and a must-see. Powder sand. Loved it. Beautiful ride in that area. We rented a motorboat for a 3 hour excursion that was very nice. The water is so beautiful and clear. I would go back to Bermuda. COMPARISON of RC and Princess in my opinion: Like the layout of RC cabins as we like the bed by the balcony door. Love the bathroom. Promenade was cool on RC but I also like the Princess layout. Like the Princess Skywalker club high up there, though Chamber on RC was nice too. You can bring onboard Princess one bottle of wine/champagne per person. Not on RC. Need self-service laundry facility on RC. Food better on Princess though 3-story dining room on RC was awesome. I like that on Princess you can see the length of the ship from your balcony; on RC you cannot due to the hump. You can tip through your SeaPass account if you go to the Guest Services desk. This is not done automatically like Princess and Carnival. Photos every dinner on Princess; RC photog skipped our table a few times because we were eating and they did not come back so we ended up with very few photos. Pizza and burger places on Princess are wonderful and are needed on RC. Their pizza and burgers were not made to order and sat there. (RC did have one night of make your own pizza which was nothing spectacular). Game room on Princess and free playing cards. Not on RC. I like the aft pool on the large Princess ships. BUT I like how the buffet room on RC is at the far back of the ship overlooking water. Theaters and shows similar. Bottom line is I will sail RC and Princess and Carnival again. And probably a new one to check out!
This was a great cruise on a lovely ship and I'd do it again tomorrow.