A little background information for you: We are a family of 4 with two adults in their 40's and two daughters, ages 20 and 16. This was our first cruise so we enlisted the help of cruise experienced friends, our travel agent and this Cruise Critic site to make sure we were making an informed decision. We were not disappointed.
Since we live in Central New York, we chose to drive to the port. It was approximately a 5 hour drive and easy to get to. We parked our car at their gated lot, and it was $80.00 for the five day trip. Unloading your luggage, parking and embarking were very simple and streamlined. RCI makes the boarding process extremely simple. It took no time at all to get to the ship and get onboard.
The Explorer of the Seas is a beautiful ship. I was wary after reading that she is getting run down, but I did not find that to be the case at all. Our room and our daughters' room were both in excellent condition. We opted for interior cabins, and although small, they are extremely well laid out with storage space tucked in to all available spaces. We had ample room for our clothing and other items. Our room steward, Paula, was extremely attentive and friendly.
The ship itself is gorgeous. The decorating stops short of being gaudy or over the top, so you get the wow factor without it seeming tacky. The Royal Promenade is a great sight. We utilized just about every area we could: pools, The Palace, Studio B, Windjammer, dining room, Portofino's, Johnny Rockets and so forth.
Johnny Rockets is worth the $3.95 surcharge. If you have a Johnny Rockets near you now, it's similar in the menu, but you have an enjoyable staff that sings and dances like they mean it! It's a treat to see. Portofino's was also well worth the $20.00 per person surcharge.
With that being said about Portofino's, our dining room waiters, Lucas and Siddharth, were so outstanding, that we really missed them the night we went to Portofino's. Those two really took our trip to the next level. I found the food in the dining room to be very good.
The entertainment is excellent. We went to numerous shows, and the singers and dancers really know their stuff. The ice skating show is phenomenal, and the cruise director, David Chapman, is everywhere. He does a fantastic job and is a real asset to RCI.
Bermuda is a beautiful place to travel to. We had a sightseeing tour planned for my older daughter and I with shopping in Hamilton, and the younger daughter went kayaking with my husband. We all loved our excursions. We spent the next day finding sea glass and going to Gibb's Lighthouse, where you have a full view of the entire island from the top. There was not nearly enough time to get to everything we wanted. Transportation by bus or ferry is a very efficient way to get around Bermuda.
The Dockside Festival was cancelled due to poor weather, which was disappointing. Still, we know there is no control over the weather. The ship had it's poolside party, but the rain didn't allow us to enjoy it to it's fullest. We were impressed watching the staff work so hard to get everything set up. The staff works very diligently.
Getting off the ship is easy as well, as they give you color coded luggage tags the night before. We happened to be the first color called. I can't say I enjoyed getting off the ship though!
This trip is well worth taking. We would do it again in a heartbeat.