Great vacation on Explorer of the Seas 2/22/09 12 nights
Embarkation went smoothly. Diamond check-in we breezed right through. The public areas were clean and well decorated. The fitness center was well maintained, I've been on other cruises where half the machines were broken, but not so on this trip. The staff in the salon & spa were very friendly. There were several different options for enrichment lectures of which we took advantage of a couple and they were very good. Dining in Johnny Rockets is always a fun experience and the food was great. We went to Portofino's 3 times on our 12 night cruise. There is so much attention to detail in this restaurant you can't help but feel pampered. We could never afford a restaurant like that on land. The $20 charge per person is well worth it. The choices in the main dining room were sometimes disappointing, but there was always something you could fall back on. The bread & rolls were out of this world & we found that the desserts were much better with more cake type choices instead of mousse's. The eatery in the Royal Promenade is an excellent place any time of day or even to just sit over a cup of tea. The entertainment was good. Although, if you've been on a lot of RCCL cruises the entertainers do repeat themselves. The production shows take a lot of effort & the costumes are fantastic. The ice show is great and on this sail we had 2 different shows. We didn't have the kids with us this time, but the ice skating, the inline skating & the rock wall are really great options on this ship. The service was very friendly. The concierge Ricardo Ugalde is extremely friendly and willing to do anything to help make your cruising experience one that you will remember. He personally greets everyone that goes in and out of the lounge and makes you feel like family. He takes the time to get to know you. He is assisted by Young who tends the bar during the cocktail hours and he is constantly working very hard. The Concierge Lounge is an added benefit because it gives you an intimate atmosphere to make friends with your fellow passengers. We met a lot of wonderful people which is something you can say about a vacation on land. People on a cruise are just more willing to get to know one another.
Value for the money - Would I like to spend less? Sure, but still I think cruising is the best value for your money over a land vacation. I know we're hooked.
I'd like to just recognize the following crew members for their excellent over and above service and friendliness. Ricardo Ugalde - concierge, Young - bartender, Rakesh, Jodi & the gentleman from Turkey (sorry I can't remember his name) in Portofino's