Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by CruiserDee: My Gluten Free Adventures
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My Gluten Free Adventures
Sorry if this review is centered around the food but I feel there aren't enough gluten free reviews out there. I will push through the food issue in this first section so please just skip ahead if you don't need this information.
Upon booking I was told the same thing that all other lines have done. "There will be gluten free items for you on board." I have been through a few vacations since my diagnosis and they all have a breakdown in communication between the booking agents information and the ships accommodations. Upon arrival we did what we always do. Check in with the Maitre' D and confirm the allergy registration. Yes they had it and would take care of me. What I did not know is this consisted of telling me what I could not eat off the menu. There were little to no substitutes on board. The fries, hashbrowns and even mashed potatoes are NOT Gluten free on this cruise line. After talking to everyone I possibly could (even the front desk staff) I learned there was More gluten free bread on board. We could not be told what else was on board. When asked what are the items, the standard answer was let us know what you want and we will do our best. So we asked for items we got on other cruiselines "Do you have bagels... no. Do you have pizza... no. Cookies...no. Muffins....no." After that I was told they do have pasta. One morning they even tried to make me pancakes. I applaud them for the effort but they were AWFUL! Egg and cornstarch does not a pancake make. Eventually I did get a gluten free desert. Flourless Chocolate cake that is served on every line and this was placed in front of me almost every night. Eventually I asked for just sherbert. (my mother-in-law really enjoyed the chocolate though).
Side note... later in the week I learned the fries at the Johnny Rockets on board are gluten free. The restaurant and buffet will get them for you if you ask.....
I have notified the cruiseline of the mis-information and they did call me back (remarkably). They said that because there were a couple items on board they did not falsify information and thus did not violate any of my rights ?! I have been sent surveys and feedback forms but am not confident that policy will change anytime in the future. If you are looking for a stress free cruise with good gluten free options the best line I have traveled thus far is Norwegian!
++++++++++++++Now for the cruise review.++++++++++++
Now although the food issue greatly affects my ability to relax on vacation, I know that the majority of people out there are not affected the same way. So all in all if there were no other negative things that impacted my vacation. If I didn't have this issue I would travel Royal Caribbean again in a heartbeat.
Embarkation: We were dropped at the cruise port at 11:30am. They tell you that you board the ship at 2pm but don't believe it. They do start at noon and we were in and out of the check in desks by 11:45am. After that they have you wait under a tent until boarding starts. Upon entering they give you a number to load buses that then take you to the ship. The most difficult part of this process was the coffee (don't drink it - it is horrible!) but they do offer lemonade and cookies too...
We boarded and had lunch just after noon. The rooms were ready at 1pm and we met our stateroom attendant Avion....whom was lovely even though we mispronounced her name the Entire week! There were 5 of us traveling with 3 rooms between us. Please be advised that this line does not empty the mini bar upon request. If you remove anything (even to give yourself room in the fridge) you are charged for it. I did find this unusual but we rolled with it.
Ship: Many reviews say the same thing. This ship is dated but it is entirely lovely. The artwork and Gigantic hanging sculptures are breathtaking. The main street is covered in coblestone like pavers and flanked with shops and eateries. There is a library and computer library. There are 3 pools. The adult pool is salt water and warm like a bath. The other 2 pools were on the cool to cold side. We did not make it up to the sports deck but I had wanted to. Unfortunately we did not get to see the ice show either. I feel they should let you book that before boarding.
Food: Overall - the other members of my family were pleased with the food. Some days it did seem the buffet had better food. There was a Mongolian grill one night that looked and smelled delish! Very Fire and Ice reminiscent - you pick your ingredients and they cook it on a grill with the sauce of your choice. My husband was not happy with their dessert options, he is dairy free and peanut free so it was no picnic for him either.(I know we are a pair aren't we) He noticed the lack of Sorbet. Not a one! No pie or crumbles... baked apple) No Soy ice cream or cheesecake...
Night 2 is Formal night with Filet of Beef and night 4 is Lobster Tail and Shrimp Skewer night. My mother in law was in heaven. She had 2 entrees!
Entertainment: This was decent. Standard fare with comedians and the shows with the singers and dancers. The singers and dancers were really good and had a nice stage presence, even during the extreme waves that were rocking the ship on the way back. The cruise director and his cohort Lee were awesome! Even did an Austin Powers impersonation. They telecast a recap of the previous day on the state room tv's and are hilarious! You can even drop a note in their box and they will read it on the air. (We did do this to see if they would read it YUP! too funny)
Disembarkation: Easy and seamless.... they call your number and shuttle you downstairs. There was a small traffic jam at the gangway but we only waited 5mins before getting through. We have never had too much of a problem getting off any ship though.
All in all it was a good vacation and my family really enjoyed themselves. Less
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Cabin review: D28652 Superior Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony
We had 3 cabins in our reservation 8652, 8666 and 8664. All of the cabins were virtually identical. Very spacious and having lovely balconies these rooms were towards the back of the ship on the starboard side (I may be wrong about that but I am pretty sure) When you are docked in NJ there is a lovely view of the Statue of Liberty and when in Bermuda our balconies did face the dockyard! Very lovely. There was ample closet and drawer space.
Port and Shore Excursions
Bermuda is a clean and friendly island. The in-laws went on a taxi tour from right in front of the ship. For about $40 per person they were gone 3+ hours and saw beaches and fish and local landmarks in a Mercedes taxi cab... They were so happy when they got back!