I saw a review on this ship and I believe that person who wrote it cruised on a different ship. A lot of what he/she said was not accurate.
I sailed from Nassau, Bahamas. We were able to board one or two days before the ship sailed for $100/night, which is a lot cheaper than going to a hotel and paying for our food for the day. Coming from the west coast, it was better for me to arrive early but I should have come 2 days early instead of one so I would have had more time to recuperate from the jet lag (3 hrs). Boarding o the MV Explorer was the easiest boarding I have ever had to experience in my life.
Out of 10 ports, I had not seen 7 of them before so I was excited to see them. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the ship. It is the fastest ship at sea and they explained to us that when we feel the shaking of the ship is when they engage the other gear (or motor) but it lasts just a minute or so. Many times, I thought we were not moving because the ship was sailing so smoothly. I had to look outside my window to make sure we were moving.
This voyage was the highlight of my cruising experience. 70% of the passengers were repeat passengers. I was so impressed by the ship and the personnel (mostly Filipino crew which is the best crew you can have on any ship) that I plan to go again next year on their 2 voyages for 2011. The food was excellent even if there was not as great a variety as on the big cruise lines. Nobody was sick during the voyage. I often ate in the dining-room (breakfast and dinner) because I enjoyed the service, which was excellent. And in the buffet section (lunch), the personnel knew you by name from the first day you got on the ship and they were always ready to help. I never had to pay for my food at any time so I don't know what that person who reported paying $5 for hamburgers was talking about. At one port, I arrived from a tour after the dining room was closed and all I did was called the kitchen, and they delivered a sandwich and fruits to my cabin, AT NO EXTRA CHARGE.
The tours are very reasonably priced. They do not push any stores from the different ports, which is a plus in my book.
There is a swimming pool and Jacuzzi but I never had the chance to use them because I was always busy but many people were using them and enjoyed it very much. Free internet lab and the library were great. Entertainment was good (but no Broadway shows which I don't care much about anyway and rarely attends them on the big ships) and the lounge was always full. I watched some of it on my TV while using my computer in my cabin. They had an excellent choice of movies on TV and some of them made it into the lounge (with free popcorn). The lectures were very interesting and people of all ages attended them, even little kids who participated by asking questions and giving their opinions. I went to the spa and it was fantastic. I was floating on air after my massage and reflexology and their prices were very reasonable. This ship is non-profit so they do not overcharge you to make money. Even the wine that I had for dinner was only $4.50/glass or $16/bottle.
How can a person complained about not being able to open their window in their room??? No ocean view rooms on any cruise line have windows that can be opened. How stupid a remark that person made. Instead of booking a cruise online, why didn't she/he book with a travel agent who would have explained the kind of voyage this was? This is not like a regular cruise line, no Casinos, no food served 24 hrs/day, no partying all night.
We had many handicapped persons on this ship with no problems. Ages of passengers were from 6 mo. old to 94 yrs old. This was one of the best cruises I have taken. I didn't want to get off the ship at the end, that is how much I loved it. I made lots of friends with people who have cruised on all different cruise lines and I have not heard anyone complained about anything on this cruise. I have cruised with most of the major cruise lines (Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Oceania, Orient Lines, Renaissance, MSC, Costa Cruises, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess) and if you like voyages (not just party on a ship), I would recommend MV Explorer Semester at Sea very highly to people who are interested in learning about cultures and countries.