This was my first time on the Explorer and hopefully not my last. 15th cruise (# 5 on RCL). Explorer is showing a little signs of aging (the carpeting in hallways on deck seven in particular) and some worn out furniture in the cabins. We had a cabin crawl so I got see a few different cabins. If anyone wants more info on that, please ask.
1/23/09 sailing for 9 nights. Arrived at the pier around 11:15 and on the ship by 12:15. Embarkation was quick and easy once they started calling numbers for the shuttle bus. Went to WJ for a bit of lunch to wait for cabin call (which happened around 1:20). Our cabin was 7630. The storage space was adequate and enough room under the bed for luggage. The bathroom was on the small side but very functional. I like having a shower in the bath rather than a tub/shower combo. The balcony was very private - steel on both sides (although some of the paint was peeling off). Having breakfast on the balcony is one of my many favorite things about cruising. Cabin steward Eric was great. Our tips were included in cruise, so I gave him a little extra up front with a note asking for a robe and some decent toiletries (I hate the all in one conditioner/shampoo stuff). He delivered them promptly and is a delightful person.
The food was very good throughout the entire cruise. Breakfast: usually in the room - arrived on time - always hot. They call you first to make sure you are ready. If you want something that is not on the in- room breakfast menu, just ask for it (the corned beef hash is delicious). Lunch: mostly in WJ and good. Had lunch in DR twice - the salad bar is well worth the trip. JR's for lunch one day - great burger and fries. They have beer on tap. My Mom thought the chocolate shake was fabulous. Dinner: We tried Portofino's one night. It was good, but I didn't find the quality of the food any different that dining room (although selection different) and personally don't think it's worth the extra bucks (and I'm a bit of a foodie). DR food - nice selection and good portion size. Our waiter Glenford was excellent and his assistant Yuan was great.
The entertainment was also good. The ice show was a lot of fun. Everyone got into choosing their sides and hooting and hollering. The only act I didn't care for was Martin Lewis. His act was boring and predictable. Of course, everyone's a critic. So that my two cents. I was so looking forward a tap beer in the Irish pub, but there was none the entire cruise (who drank it all?). The Latin music at night was great. The 70's dance party on the promenade was a riot. I'm happy that Explorer has some "non-smoking" bars as the smoke was an issue for me up in Dizzy's. Formal night in the casino is also smoke free - the first formal night this policy was not strictly enforced. The second one was better.
Elevator waits were an issue, so a good way to keep the cruise pounds off is take the stairs. My Mom can't do that, so I dropped her off by the elevator and met her on the way out.
The health club is very nice. The hot tub by the club was never very crowded. I wasn't too thrilled with the changing facilities by the spa. Would have liked more "spa like" showers. Sauna and steam rooms okay, and never crowded.
The only time I got off the ship was Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Did not do any excursions. Samana we stayed on the ship and enjoyed the pools and hot tubs. As most of you know, this sailing is the one where we had propeller damage and missed Labadee. I think RCL handled this situation very well and at no time did I feel that we were in any imminent danger. Everyone got OBC and most people I spoke with were very happy with this. The spot we hung out at off the Bahamas was beautiful. I have some photos of the divers in the water checking out the damage and will post them soon. The trip back to Bayonne was smooth sailing. One of the better trips up the coast I have experienced (even minus the prop).
Disembarkation was a breeze. We left our cabin around 8:45. I brought down some breakfast from Windjammer and ate in the cabin. I was in no hurry to leave and get back to the real world. All in all I think this was a wonderful cruise. I would not hesitate to sail on the Explorer again.