My sister and I chose to cruise with the Explorer of the Seas for the third year in a row and we were somewhat disappointed in this one
First - it seems the ship arrived at Cape Liberty a few hours late so that the last passengers were disembarking when we arrived - there was a very long line of cars waiting - it took our driver about half an hour to get from the last light and turn to where he could drop us off. We had to wheel our luggage inside the area and beg a porter to take the larger pieces. The line to get through security moved rapidly and then we got on the check in line for Diamond and above Crown and Anchor members as well as Suites. That line moved very slowly. We watched the regular line snaking around move much faster. There was the usual wait for an elevator and then we were told that we could not enter our cabins for more than an hour. We managed to sneak into ours - which was "ready" and we put our carry=on luggage into the walk in closet before heading for the Windjammer Cafe. This was a mass of people trying to fill their plates and then find an empty table. None of the crew there helped with that. We were lucky that two ladies were happy to allow us to join their table. Many passengers were trying to handle their luggage as well as plates, children, older family members, etc. We found that during the entire voyage only once did any crew member assigned to the Windjammer offer to help us find a table when the Main Dining Room was closed and we were forced to eat at the buffet.
We are Seniors - well over the 65 year mark. As others have said, the food was mediocre and often not too hot. Our Junior Suite was roomy, with a new slim TV, but no DVR. A wall of drawer and shelf space and of course the wonderful walk in closet. A couch, two easy chairs and cocktail table. Still a lot of space when we asked to have the beds separated. We also asked to have the heavy covers removed and blankets put on the beds. This was done almost immediately. The bathroom has a tub which is somewhat difficult for us to get into because of the necessary depth. I miss the shower that is allways made fun of. It is also very slippery. We had lots of towels since we requested more than the two of each size that are there. Our cabin steward is a gem - we are not ones to ask for too much (after the requests when he first introduces himself) -
The food was OK - we noticed a definite lowering of standards in this category over the years. The dining room staff was kind, helpful and always cheerful. I noticed that a lot of former offerings were missing - ie I asked for tomato juice one lunchtime and was informed that there would be an extra charge - but for breakfast one could have it from the menu. Some of my Diamond Status amenities had been taken away since last year. I could not longer use the Consierge Lounge and the daily invitations promised in the brochure were reduced to two (we chose not to attend). The promised expedited luggage delivery did not take place, in fact the cabin steward was kind enough to look for my luggage which was not delivered until after dinner. My sister did receive hers very early. No more chocolates on the pillows, no more At Seat Times (this is something many of us missed) - TV had constant CNN over and over and a lot of RCCL/CBS so it was not worth watching for any length of time.
The activities and the staff connected with them was sadly lacking for all but the mid twenties. The only one of interest to us was Trivia. The ice shows were terrific, but the evening shows were so-so. If one did not get to the pool deck early, space was hard to find - especially if you do not want to sit in the sun. Not too many tables for us to play cards or RummyQ - and the game rooms on Deck 14 also filled up quickly. All in all- this was the disappointing cruise of the three - we have sailed RCI many times, but just three times out of Cape Liberty - and we will do our best to find another cruise line that sails out of New York to the Caribbean next year.