This trip to Bermuda and the eastern Caribbean was to be our last major family holiday with our daughters now 16 & 18. We have cruised as a family and as a couple.
We chose this trip because we wanted to combine some time in New York (sailing from Cape liberty) and some time in the Caribbean. We have sailed with Royal Caribbean before and have been impressed with the range of activities for teenagers, if the girls are happy our holiday is far more relaxed.
This was our first cruise on Explorer and had read lots of reviews which were all very positive.
Although the cruise terminal itself was a tatty shed, the embarkation process was extremely swift and efficient, and although I thought we were very early, we were immediately boarded.
I had read a number of reviews said the ship was in need of refurbishment and i understand this is due for 2013. In some places the ship looked tired, but they are replacing carpets etc. However,some of the re-painting is very poor with a lack of attention to detail.
We were surprised by the amount of movement by the ship even in what appeared to be calm waters.
The bars, restaurants were all OK, some of the decoration was not to my taste, I preferred Brilliance.
Perhaps my biggest disappointment.
Breakfast in the Windjammer was OK, although I found the lack of variety at lunch time a problem. All four of us struggled with the evening meal. Firstly we tried 'my time dining' which as we discovered was any-time dining !!, OK if you have 2 hours to waste and don't mind having your starter then a wait of an hour for the main course, oh and don't order any drinks as they will arrive after the meal.
We swopped to the early sitiing and although the service was very good we all found the menus basic and lacking any of the interesting dishes we have enjoyed on previous RCI trips. I had steak every night, one was very good the rest rather bland. My daughters struggled as they do not eat sea food.
Bars were OK although the service in the Ocean bar was lamentable and I either had to ask for service or go to the bar myself.
Normally I am not fond of the entertainment, however there were some high points, the 3 comedy shows were very good as was the Mowtown show, but as always it is in-consistent, one evening we were entertained by an amateur dance troupe, who tried really hard-but it was not the quality we expected.
Entertainment for teenagers.
In the past our daughters have been whisked away the minute they board and quickly meet new friends, it did not happen this time and to make it worse on night one they go off to join others only to find now that they are 16 and 18 (6 weeks before we sailed) that they could not do activities together, which resulted in 2 very disappointed girls. We spoke to the entertainment manager, she was very polite, but those are the rules and there was no chance that the girls could do things together. This meant that rather than having a good time they were mostly bored in the evening, although there was a significant number of young people on the ship, I understand that the entertainment team did nothing to aid integration.
Well the pound v the dollar meant that we could enjoy the occasional drink without worrying.
The service was on the whole good, staff were pleasant and friendly.
But somehow was was a little disappointed with the overall experience. It was as though there were major problems ....it was that the individual parts did not create a great package.