Background info - This was my third time on the Explorer of the Seas and my mothers second time. We're both diamond members on RCCL - I've been on 13 Royal Caribbean cruises and my mom has been on too many to keep track of!! I was extremely excited for this trip because it was my moms first ever balcony cabin, room number 6666. I picked that cabin because I decided that it would be very difficult to forget our number! I should also note that I was a bit nervous for this cruise because my mother didn't have the best service when we were on the Adventure of the Seas this past January and she was very close to writing off Royal Caribbean altogether. I didn't want that to happen because she's one of my best cruising buddies!
Travel to Port - We live in Mystic, CT so we left at 8:20am and thankfully encountered no traffic. We arrived at the Bayonne cruise terminal at 11:40am and after dropping off our luggage, parking, and going back to the terminal, we zipped right through priority boarding and we were on the ship making our spa appointments by 12:20pm - it doesn't get much easier than that! After making massage and hair appointments for the following day, we headed to the Windjammer for some lunch, then enjoyed a quick drink at the pool bar before heading to our cabin around 1:30pm.
Our Cabin #6666 - Mom loved the balcony so that was awesome. We walked in to find that the beds were pushed together so I called housekeeping and was assured that it would be taken care of so no biggie. We were thrilled to find that our luggage had already arrived so we immediately unpacked and settled in. Our room steward knocked on our door and introduced himself to us and he was fantastic all week. In addition to the cabin being a very memorable number, it also happened to be in a great location. We found that starting out on deck 6 always seemed to be just perfect, whether we were going to dinner or the promenade on deck five or up a few decks to visit the pool - it never seemed like we were very far away from anything.
Dining - We were at a table for 8 on deck five, table number 544. It was PERFECT. It was a corner balcony on the top level, overlooking the entire dining room. We were excited to find that we'd been placed at a table with six other women, all traveling in pairs. Conversation always flowed very easily and we looked forward to dinner every night! Our waiter and assistant waiter, Geoffry and Maria, were amazing. I had not had service that terrific in quite a few cruises so we were very thankful to have such a great team. The food was also quite better than my past few cruises. I am a vegetarian, and they have definitely expanded their menu. Not only did they have the usual one vegetarian entrée, but they also offered an Indian dish on the menu every night as well. I didn't hear a single complaint from any of our tablemates regarding the food all week either.
We dined at the Captains table on Formal Night and it was a great experience, to say the least. We all met up in the grotto area of the Aquarium Bar and mingled and had drinks before heading to the dining room for photos and dinner. We sat with the Captain, the HR Manager and his cousin and cousins wife, a nice couple from Texas, and another employee Maureen and her family. What a nice evening.
Ship Info- Well there are no surprises here if you've already been on a Voyager Class ship. It has the Promenade, Ice Skating Rink, the Viking Crown Lounge, Johnny Rockets, the Schooner Bar, Sports Bar, The Chamber, pools, The Solarium, pool bar, Maharajas Lounge, …etc…etc…and all the public spaces are set up so perfectly. I have been on two other Voyager Class ships but for some reason the Explorer is definitely my favorite. I can't quite put a finger on what exactly makes it better than the others, but I just love this ship!! There is definitely a different vibe to this ship in comparison to the others, in a good way. I'm not sure if it's because of so many people being from the New Jersey, New York, CT, New England Area, but I have to say that most people that I encountered were friendly, assertive, loud, and witty and I loved it.
Entertainment - The entertainment was the same as always - wonderful!!! I had to roll my eyes when I saw that the second production show was for "Fast Forward". Even though it was this ships opening night for this particular production, I had seen it on two other ships previously! But that's no ones fault. I really can't complain about seeing a show three times because I'm sure that there are a lot of people out there that would love to see it just once! There was way too much going on for a 5 day cruise. This is not a complaint either, just an observation. Don't try and "do it all" in five days because it's impossible. There is so much good stuff to do and see! Mike Hunnerup was the cruise director. He was very good in my opinion.
Bermuda & Excursions - We arrived in Bermuda to a forecast of possible showers and cloudiness. When we started our morning on Horseshoe Bay it was sunny and delightful but we left the second we saw a dark sky. It rained soon after and the dock yard party was cancelled. Horseshoe Bay was amazing, as usual. I would have liked to spend more time there but you can't control the weather! The next day it was sunny but extremely windy, and we'd booked the Aquarium and Crystal Caves tour. This tour was incredible!! The caves are amazing and beautiful and I took hundreds of pictures of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws…etc….I highly recommend booking a tour through the ship on the second day in Bermuda because although their transportation system is awesome, you really can't count on the busses and ferries to be on time and we definitely didn't want to miss the ship!
Miscellaneous and Summary - We both had massages on the first sea day. I had a hot stone and my mom had a regular Swedish and we both thoroughly enjoyed them. I also had a hair appointment for formal night and that turned out nice too so I'd recommend the spa/salon to anyone that's interested. Ricardo in the Concierge Lounge gets a big pat on the back for being awesome. The entire staff on this ship is GREAT. We had the best service all week and I'm definitely booking the 9 day because 5 days on this ship is just not enough time! My mom is a fan of RCCL again and she's now addicted to balconies so mission accomplished!! Anyone that is booked on a sailing on the Explorer is very lucky because this is a very special ship. Till next time!