Embarkation: We were traveling on a local radio station sponsored cruise so we had bus transportation to the terminal. We arrived early, about 11:00 AM. We breezed through check-in and then waited inside the terminal for about 1 hour 15 minutes before boarding. Royal Caribbean had cookies, lemonade and water available for the wait. Boarding was easy, by 12:35 PM we were enjoying our first cocktail near the pool-bar. If the weather is nice I would strongly advise getting there early to enjoy the weather from the ship.
Cabin: Outside stateroom, number 2602, very clean, very small (compared to Carnival Valor, my only other cruise) Bathroom was certainly adequate. Our room was available at 1:30 PM and our luggage arrived by 6:00 PM. Absolutely no complaints about the room. There was adequate space in the closets to put away all of our clothes.
Ship: What can I say! The Explorer of Seas is amazing! The Promenade is gorgeous, as well as almost every place on the ship. I would consider staying inside, looking over Promenade it's that cool, my wife disagrees so that will never happen. My only other cruise was on Carnival Valor and this ship is bigger and nicer than Valor, also much easier to navigate. The pools were nice and clean and there were PLENTY of kids, this was a summer cruise after all. The adult pool on Explorer was nice and quiet with very nice whirlpools/hottubs. My only complaint about the ship is that there are too many lounge chairs placed right up next to one another, like sardines. I think the rock wall, basketball courts, mini-golf, gym all take up so much room it leaves not enough room for lounge chairs. It's a trade off I guess. Our weather was beautiful so we were outside all the time.
Service: The staff was helpful and courteous but it did not seem as if they went out of their way to please you. I'm not a nitpick but on Carnival it seemed as if the staff was extra helpful. Since I'm new to cruising I don't remember if the 15 percent tip was placed on all drink orders on Carnival. It was on Royal and in my opinion it is a mistake, when you are sitting at a bar ordering bottles or cans of beer I don't think it is necessary, the bartender has no reason for good service.
Food: Breakfast and Lunch at Windjammer was good, lots of choices, salads were always fresh, food was good. We had late seating at Magellan dinning room and I thought food was quite good. Better than Carnival Valor. The wait staff will tell you what the chef recommends each night and I don't think the chef misses a beat. Tiger shrimp, filet of beef, salmon was all wonderful. We did not eat a Johnny Rockets or Portofino's. We ordered room service coffee each morning for our wake up call, also ordered sandwiches once and it was good.
Entertainment: Lets say this. If your bored on this ship try skydiving. The ice show is a MUST see, wonderful, tickets are free and you can get them in the promenade the day you sail or the next day. The Schooner Bar had Steve, an amazing piano, Karaoke, entertainer (the later he plays the better), The jazz bar is comfortable, One of our favorite places was the aquarium bar outside the casino. Very comfortable with great live music. It seemed that anywhere you went on the ship there was something to do.
Shore Excursions: My favorite part of this cruise was that we stayed in Bermuda two consecutive days. Our first day we got off the ship at 9:30 and looked for a scooter rental. The ship does not recommend renting scooters because of the danger (I'll get to that later) We found a taxi with a placard saying scooter rentals and I spoke with the driver, he said about 3 minutes away there was a rental space, I asked him how much to taxi there and he said free. We got in and he brought us to this small place that said "Faith Tabernacle" on the front. The people couldn't have been nicer, the driver meant what he said so we gave him a $10 tip. We rented two scooters for $73 each (24hour rental) and we were off. We both rode two-up, meaning two on each scooter. Driving in Bermuda is a trip. Drive on the left and people are in a hurry! People pass up hills, down hills, when no traffic or when there IS traffic oncoming, crazy. But fun. I would not recommend a scooter if you are the least bit afraid. We drove to Elbow beach and tipped the man for hotel towels ( I got the skinny on the beaches from a bartender: all the beaches in Bermuda are public, the chairs, towels, umbrellas are private) Elbow beach seems like a private beach but the restaurant is open to the public. If you use discretion when talking to the hotel staff you can buy the blue towels (remember your cruse towels are a different color and you will stand out like a sore thumb) Elbow beach is beautiful, we drove our scooters right down by the water and parked them. Then we were off towards St Georges stooping by the Swizzle Inn (tall men WATCH your head when leaving the bathroom, I almost knocked myself out) Seeing the island by scooter was GREAT.
Day Two: We booked excursion on Bermuda Triangle Shipwreck Snorkeling/Glassbottom Boat. GREAT/GREAT/GREAT...took boat 4 miles offshore to some of the most beautiful water, I have snorkeled Belize, Caymans and Honduras, this was BETTER..The staff is knowledgeable and friendly
Disembarkation: We were on level 2 and we chose express walk off and I would recommend this to anyone who can carry their own luggage. The ship tells you to go up to level 5 to wait for your number to be called, forget that, you are already on level 2 and we were fortunate to be in the middle of the ship near the gangway. We left our room at 8:10 AM and walked down one flight of stairs off the ship.
OVERALL Thoughts: Our weather was the best, never a cloudy day, the ship was great and I(we) would do it again. GET OUT THERE>