My whole family went on the Explorer of the Seas on it's January 9th sailing out of Miami. Overall we had a great time - a few minor things happened, but nothing that would ruin the trip.
Embarkation day went really smoothly. It was probably the fastest any of us have been processed through! We found our cabins, did the muster drill, then went on deck for a drink and to watch Miami fade away! After we left port behind, we went back to the cabin to put our luggage away - it all arrived quickly! Then pre-dinner drinks in what became a nightly ritual for us - Dizzy's Jazz Club up in the Viking Crown lounge on deck 14. Dinner was great - our waiter Lucian and his assistant Antonio were great. The head waiter Roman was one of the best I have had. The food was really good - I can't remember specific items, but there was nothing that I would have passed up. Lucian was really good about getting people something else if they wanted to try something, or bringing an extra plate or two for someone who couldn't come to dinner that night as they were ill.
The at sea days on board were not great, but not due to the cruise line - the wind was incredibly strong so being out on the deck was not really an option. Some people were brave and went out, but I didn't. That was ok - there was still things to do inside. I know some people in our group were a little disappointed since they wanted to lay out in the sun, but since I burn instead of tan, I wasn't terribly upset. Formal night #1 was tonight - everyone looking their best!
Due to the winds, we were a little late getting into San Juan, our first port. We went to the old part of town and walked around for a while, but there was not too much to do so we headed back to the ship and went for drinks in Dizzy's.
St. Maarten was great. We had some short rain showers while we were there, but nothing to complain about. People went to the beach or shopping - I went Scuba diving for the first time (it's a great time!!)
Next was St. Thomas. Kind of a grey day with a fair bit of rain - we all went on a snorkeling trip so we didn't mind the rain too much. The snorkeling trip was fabulous - we went with a company called New Horizons (not through the cruise line) and they treated us really well. I would recommend them to anyone!
Next was another sea day. Windy again, but not as bad as before - I think we were going with the wind this time instead of against it. I didn't do too much as I got a case of what I think was sunstroke in St. Thomas so I didn't feel the greatest. Formal night #2 and I missed it - upset stomach!
The last port was Nassau. I stayed on board for the day - I think I had also caught a cold so I felt pretty lousy. Some people went over to Paradise Island - based on their descriptions, all I can say is WOW! Final dinner - goodbye to everyone!
Back in Miami, the morning debarkation process went pretty well. Long lines to get off the ship then get through immigration, but that's to be expected and they were moving pretty well. We all had a good time - there's a lot to do on this ship!
I went to a bunch of the shows - they were pretty good, the only exception is just an age thing - they had a singer there that I wasn't really crazy about. The Ice Show was fantastic - it's definitely a "must see". We went to Johnny Rocket's - I had a coupon for a free trip there as did others in my group. The food there was really good (love those onion rings!!) and the shakes are great!
The ship itself is in pretty good shape, but looks like it could use some time just to polish things up. I saw a lot of "band-aid" fixes - for instance, a maintenance hatch, instead of having the proper lock fixed, was held closed with a little wedge.
Overall, we had a great time - for some this was there first cruise and I think they are already planning the next!