I have been on Royal Caribbean five times and Norwegian once. Royal Caribbean proves itself again and again as far as I am concerned. I've read the reviews prior to each cruise for each ship, (Brilliance, Navigator and Explorer) and some people are just too darn picky!!
This was the first cruise I took out of Bayonne, which is crazy, since I live 30 minutes from the port. Embarkation was fast and easy and I was enjoying lunch in the Windjammer by 12 noon. I know people complain that the Windjammer serves the same foods everyday, but there is such a huge selection, you don't have to eat the same thing every day....c'mon people!
We did not do any excursions through the ship on this cruise, and it worked out pretty well. There was affordable transportation available at every stop, if you wanted to do your own thing. The beaches in St Maarten and St Thomas charged just $20-$25 for two chairs and an umbrella for the day..well worth it!
The staff on the ship were all friendly, helpful, fun and courteous. I went to guest services once after they found a bag of souvenirs I purchased, which I had left behind when going through security, and I didnt even know it. They went through the bag and found the receipt with my name and contacted me. Adrian was very helpful at guest services and had an awesome personality. The CD, Jimmy, was great and made the entire trip memorable!!!Dining room waiter Nickolay, was very efficient and thorough, and the food was even better than on other RC Cruises. Stateroom attendant Avionne was on top of things every day and all day, we never had an issue. And special mention goes to my two favorite bartenders, Melvin and Michelle who despite dealing with some very rude guests, were two of the most fun and easy going people I had ever met, and never let my glass go dry =)
We attended a couple of the shows, which were funny and entertaining.
I ate, I relaxed, I drank, I had a great time...what more can you want?? I am usually having too much fun to notice if the railings haven't been painted in awhile, or if the carpet is worn in the hallways, and if you order something you don't care for, order something else...they have no problem with that. A vacation is what YOU make of it.
I will be taking three cruises in 2012, all on Royal Caribbean, and two of them will be on the Explorer.