Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by notmartha: Explorer of the Seas - Western Caribbean
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Explorer of the Seas - Western Caribbean
We had previously cruised with Celebrity and Princess on the Alaska, Mexico and Eastern Caribbean itineraries.
The main reason I wanted to try out RCI was to check out the ice rink and other amenities on a Voyager class ship. The fact that this ship stops at Belize was a bonus.
EOS can appear to be pretty big and glitzy if one hasn't travel on a comparable sized ship such as the Princess Grand class. On a closer examination though the ship appears to be worn, especially the carpet, furniture and wood trimming and wasn't maintained well.
Pros: 1) The shower actually was pretty decent and thoughtfully designed. I especially like the adjustment height for the shower head. It is small though and can be quite challenging for the bigger folks.
2) Adventure Ocean program was a blast for kids. The outside water slide for kids was well thought out.
3) Self-service soft ice cream. Available many places. Sadly one of the better tasting food on More the whole ship.
4) Wait person service in Dining Room tried really hard. However they are not at a level where they are attentive and unobtrusive. It's funny because our son had dinner many nights with the Adventure Ocean so my husband and I looked forward to spending a quiet dinner together with nice, uninterrupted adult conversation. Did not achieve our objective.
Cons: 1) Long lines for everything. Doesn't matter whether you want to eat at Windjammer, dining room for breakfast, getting ice skating show tickets, or tendering. The crowd control is nonexistent. At one point the waiting area on Deck 3 was jammed pack with people waiting to go to the dining room for breakfast as well as people trying to get tickets for the show. 2) Windjammer cafe. The food is really the pits, especially at breakfast time. I have to say my college cafeteria food is better than the food they serve at the Windjammer.
3) Bad food overall with some exceptions in the dining room (good appetizers, good duck, dismal desserts). No relief by going to the dining room for breakfast either. Same food, nicer china. Windjammer also served some mediocre snack food between 3-5 (mostly chili, hamburgers that are precooked 45 minutes ago, etc.). This is where I missed most - Princess' pizza and home made ice cream during snack time.
4) Entertainment starts very late. Most of the good stuff is around 10:30 or 11:30 p.m. (jazz, pool party, etc.). We managed to stay up late one night just to look at the midnight buffet. We had early sitting and it was a pain to wait more than an hour to see the main show. I guess that's a way to encourage the passenger to spend more money at the bar or at the shops.
5) Nickel and dime. Many cruise lines except for the luxury ones tend to nickel and dime you, but this cruise line takes it to the next level. They want gratuities even for the $10 yoga class, and gratuities for room service. Even the pictures are extremely expensive and they are really in your face trying to take pictures every night, everywhere and every port.
6) Cruise organized shore excursion was pretty bad. Actually one of the worst I ever had was the Tulum excursion. I knew it was long, but I didn't expect a continuous sale of merchandise from the tour guide. At one point he told us that we can save 15 minutes by paying $2 for the shuttle, then he proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes (while we are looking at the ruins from afar, itching to go explore) trying to sell us a $25 Mayan calendar.
7) Balcony size was a joke. There's only room for 2 chairs and a little end table. The design of the ship made the balcony pretty much completely enclosed. I felt as if I was in a submarine.
8) Entertainment quality is poor, or at least not to my taste. I like jazz sets and Broadway shows. I don't care that much for comedians or a has-been musical group. The live music in Dizzy's or other lounges wasn't very good (piano music comparable to Nordstrom's).
9) Saltwater pool. Need I say more?
10) Cheap food stuff, except for formal dinners. They dole out shrimp cocktails like they are worth their weight in gold.
11) The Guest Relations and Shore Excursion personnel aren't really there to help you. There was a mix up with my booking (read the fine print on rccl.com on room descriptions) that I had to go 3 times and get really annoyed for them to fix. Lesson - don't believe them when they say there's no cabin available.
Ports: 1) Belize was below expectation. Kind of poor, run down and dirty. Went to the Rendezvous Caye, which was pretty. However, spending 2 hours round trip to get there just to spend 1 hour there isn't my idea of a fun time. Hubbie thought the snorkeling was pretty good (Lanai and Dry Tortugas being better). Many, many jewelry shops selling cheap jewelry expensively.
2) Cozumel. Busy, dusty, crowded and like a zoo with 7 ships docked. A lot of cheap stuff to be had but none worth buying. Tulum was pretty but not worth the effort. The water looked incredible - should have gone snorkeling.
3) Costa Maya. Better than I thought (had really low expectation). Got some decent shirts for hubbie at Miro (forgot to pack shirts and slacks for dinner). Was going to the fishing village in the next town but the taxi line was really long. Restaurant on site had tacos worse than Taco Bell.
4) Grand Cayman. Nice, expensive and not much there after the hurricane. Was going to Stingray City but canceled due to injury on Tulum excursion. The place to get nice, expensive jewelry. The T-shirts and Tortuga rum we got was very reasonably priced. Hubbie got a Beef Patty at the Farmer's Market which was tasty. 7 mile beach looked nice from afar but didn't go due to injury. I like this port the best even though there isn't a lot.
People on this cruise tend to dress much more casually than other cruises I've been on. I've seen women wearing shorts to the dining room, and men with T-shirts on formal nights eating at the dining room. I've also noticed a lot more people trying to have a good time by getting drunk.
All in all, Princess's Grand class ship amenities, food quality, preparation and services beat this one hands down. Less
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