Prior to this cruise I read many reviews from various sites and (to tell you the honest truth) was not looking forward to this cruise aboard the Explorer of the Seas. Well I learned very quickly not to believe everything you read. This cruise by far was our best yet.
We started our adventure from the Poconos about 10:30 am and arrived at the port at about 1:00 pm (after getting lost in sight of the ship). At 1:00 pm there were no long lines leading to the luggage drop-off tent as other reviews have indicated. We took a limo service so we did not have to contend with parking. Proceeded to the end of the line entering the terminal for the embarkation process. First was security screening, then to the next line (organized by your stateroom floor) where you presented your online registration form and credit card payment information. Proceeded with your SeaPass Card to the picture taking line and finally to the buses which shuttles you to the ship. The entire process took 1 hour from luggage drop-off to ship's entry.
Checked out our room and was quite pleased at its cleanliness and décor. Plenty of closet and drawer space and plenty of room under the bed for our luggage. Proceeded to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. It was a little difficult finding a table but this was to be expected. After lunch checked our room to find our luggage had arrived. Our stateroom attendant, Garnet, dropped by to introduce himself and to find out if we had any personal needs. Over the next nine days we became very attached to Garnet. Friendly, personable, efficient, warm, wonderful are just a few words to describe this extraordinary individual. Our room was always spotless, always stocked with ice and our favorite drinks and the towel animals which greeted us each evening were just precious.
We ate most of our meals at the Windjammer as we like to dress very casual. Again, the waiters and assistants were always friendly and very helpful. Being somewhat of a gourmet cook, I considered the quality of the food to be excellent with plenty of variety every day to please everyone. Another nicety was the Café Promenade. Good coffee, tea, sandwiches, pizza, pastry, cookies and fruit were available 24 hrs a day (at no extra cost). Our request for a small table in the main dining room was honored even though we only dined there a few times. We preferred the flexibility of the Windjammer rather than a fixed seating time.
Since we are still enjoying the cruising experience more than the shore excursions, we only go ashore for shopping and a little sight seeing rather than sunbathing or activities requiring a lot of physical exertion.
Disembarking was a breeze even though it got a little hectic because there were many early arrivers for the next cruise.
In conclusion, we had a fabulous time on the Explorer. The ship was beautiful and not run down as some reviews have indicated. It was well maintained and spotless and the staff was A-1, first class. Additionally, the friendliness and conduct of the other passengers was amazing. The younger passengers were also well behaved and friendly. It was so nice hearing people say please and thank you, excuse me, hello, good morning, etc. This was not the case on our other two cruises. We were so impressed with RCI and the Explorer of the Seas that we have booked a 12-night Southern Caribbean cruise for Nov/Dec this year.