I am a senior, have made 181 cruises in the past 40 years, and have 40 with RCI. I sailed this shop two years ago, din't like it then and don't like it now; however I went due to the large (5) number of "sea days", which I greatly enjoy.
Cruise port Bayonne (Cape Liberty) is a disaster.Little transportation is available from Newark Airport, looked for RCI representative without success for 30 min., finally took a taxi. A line at least 1/2 mile long sat and waited to inch down a one lane road to the unloading area and thus taxi fare went to $60. Finally unloaded into a tent, then into a warehouse for a long wait to check in, then lined up to take a bus 1/4 mi to the ship. On board lunch in Windjammer and then to room at 1:30 p.m. Baggage took SEVEN hours to arrive even though Diamond Plus people supposedly get "priority" luggage delivery. Room couch and desk chair filthy - showed room supervisor who promised it would be shampooed next morning. Twelve days later still, in spite of speaking with Guest Services Mgr., and a letter to Hotel Dir., not done.
Early seating dinner - usual RCI menu that I know be heart. Nest mornings supposedly "special" Diamond breakfast a shambles - no buffet, only tables for 12 available, no staff member to handle questions etc. in evidence and only three stewards working about 60 people. During day few activities other than those which would make RCI money.
Ports - Samana, most did not like this small Dominican Republic tender port, but I did as it was a change from the ports to come, St Thomas, St Marteen, Antigua, St Kitts - all designed for "mega ships" with "shopping malls" at the piers. Also visited Labadee which RCI has apparently spent millions to upgrade for Oasis class, however most activities have charges it seems.
As a Diamond Plus I greatly enjoy using the Concierge Lounge, but here the attitude of the Concierge was " I'm here for Suite Passengers, not you Diamond Plus people". Lounge greatly overcrowded however no "overflow" lounge established, thus no seats available during cocktail hours.
Elevators extremely slow. I sometimes waited as much as six minutes for one and by that time so many people were waiting that you couldn't get on anyways.
Windjammer food even worse I feel than usual - same items day after day at lunch. Never saw an ice cream bar as on other ships, never saw any other "extras" which usually make their appearance on other ships.In Dining room at lunch when open on "sea days" only, same menu all days except last day. I wonder why? Johnny Rockets not open for lunch on port days. Production Shows good, other headliners "not so good" I feel. Never saw Hotel Director around the ship in 12 days. Library "non existent", few books, mostly left behind by previous passengers. Internet time now $.65 cents per minute, and unlike other RCI ships no discount early morning times. Unlike other RCI ships there were many, many announcements on public address system - all on how to spend money of course.
I don't want to go "on and on". Suffice it to say that I was on Jewel of the Seas for two cruises this fall, 21 days total. There the attitude always seemed to be "what more can we do", on Explorer it seemed to be "how little can we do and get away with it".
I will say that disembarkation in Bayonne was extremely well organized in spite of the inadequacies of the port, and went very well.
If you are goj g on Explorer I hope that you will enjoy your trip better than I did, and in fairness I will say that many pasengers seemed to be happier with the ship than I.