We sailed the Explorer on 7/7/11 and had a pretty good cruise experience. We stayed in the Royal Suite and it was a lovely room with lots of space. The Explorer looked good for her age but I think she's got to be close to getting her dry dock update, which is good because she is probably due for some new furniture in places, etc.
The food was good and the menus were similar those of our last RCI cruise. The dining room service was just okay. Our waiter was good but his back up cast fell short at times. I think they could have used more bar staff in the dining room and the assistant waiters seemed to be spread thin with more tables to handle than the head waiter. We were thankful to have a wonderful table location with a beautiful ocean view every night so we couldn't complain too much. We ate in Portofinos one evening and had a wonderful dining experience with great food and service. We hit Johnny Rockets and the pizza place on deck 5 and they were good as well. We didn't eat in the Windjammer too much but when we did I found the selection and quality of food good for a buffet.
The on board entertainment was varied and very enjoyable. The comedians were very funny and the Unexpected Boys ( Jersey Boys take off) were my favorite. The ice skating show was good but there were a couple of mishaps during our show. The area in which the skaters have to skate/execute jumps is very small though so I am actually surprised they don't have more falls. The Quest game show is definitely a highlight as well, not to be missed.
Jimmy, the cruise director was hilarious and the Explorer is lucky to have him. The ship concierge Carlos was also exceptional, going above and beyond, the best concierge we have had on a RCI ship. The Adventure Ocean staff also deserves special mention, they do a wonderful job with the little ones, as did the on board babysitters.
I used the spa services twice, once for an up-do on formal night and again for a facial and massage. The hair was great, but the massage and facial were costly and just okay for me.
We didn't use RCI for any of our shore excursions so I can't comment on the excursion desk. I will say that the stop in Puerto Rico was really a waste. We were only there for a few short hours so you have to stay fairly close to the ship and there is not much to do except shop or go to Senior Frogs. It would have been nice to instead dock overnight in St. Maarten or St. Thomas and cut out
Old San Juan all together.
Leaving out of Jersey the ship draws most of it's passengers out of New York, New Jersey, PA, etc. and they are definitely a lively and fun crowd to be on board with. During summer I would also consider this a family cruise. Our sailing had over 900 kids on it, mostly teens. The staff did a good job though enforcing curfew, etc. so we didn't see too many issues arise.
All in all, we had a memorable and fun cruise, one I would recommend to others.