As a veteran cruiser, we look for a certain style. Not a fancy style, more homey, more friendly, more open cruising style. We book in a suite because we like the room. And we stay in our room occasionally. And bring others in to see the room. Even hosting a "get together" with canapes and soda's (we don't drink). We look for those friendly people who like to visit, to talk, to share lives, and see the world together. On this trip we traveled with 350 French Canadians, many of whom only spoke French and were pretty rude. And, as veterans, we like to request certain amenities, "egg crates" on the bed to soften it. Diet sodas in the refrigerator that help us keep the sugar intake down. Save our complimentary canapes for the get together we host. Dry cleaning and laundry complimentary. And Internet access complimentary, after all, we pay four times the amount for an inside cabin! On this ship we had to pay for all those amenities.
Having said all that, we booked the "Explorer of the Seas" because of it's center Promenade. Because of it's access to Cape Liberty which was twenty minutes from half our family. And because we hadn't tried Royal Caribbean as yet. We booked the available owner's suite category and, unfortunately, we were placed in a middle cabin.... She likes the stern, I like the bow. And most ships have their better suites in those positions. It was handy to the concierge lounge, which was a nice touch. And only one floor down from the buffet, which the family liked because they wanted breakfast there. We couldn't convince them white linen in the dining room was better. The Promenade was a nice touch, although with some two thousand plus passengers, it was usually crowded. And the casino, which we frequent, was the seemingly designated smoking area, and that smoke poured into the Promenade up the staircase. Sea days are a favorite of hers, and we had three down, and two back. Although you can tell from the pictures how warm it was by how bundled up we were on the first two, and the last day. As a family reunion, and a first cruise for most of them, it was a success, they had nothing else to compare it to. The other veteran cruisers (one couple) drink most of the time, so they were fine. I was pretty dissatisfied, but it might be because the crap table was cold the whole voyage. My wife enjoyed the spa time, and the sister time, and there was a lot of family laughter. So it was a minor success.