First the good: the staff, almost to a person, was excellent. They were skilled at their jobs, friendly and accommodating. Some of the entertainers were top notch including the Latin band, the New Version quartet, Igor Pachinkin (spelling?) and the ice show. The food was okay and there were even a few meals that might rate very good. The bed was comfortable and the ocean balcony a real treat.
There was a major problem, however, in that throughout the cruise, we found ourselves disgusted by the smell of raw sewage. No announcement was made to passengers so we had no idea what was going on. Finally, we found out from some staff that there was a major problem with the plumbing but that it would be fixed in Bermuda. Not so. It continued throughout the cruise. Places I myself smelled it included my cabin's bathroom, the Aquarium Bar, most of the stair landings, and even outside where it was so bad I couldn't walk through that area.
In addition to this, there were problems with toilets not flushing in several cabins on deck seven where we were. The second to last night found the toilet in our cabin overflowing so rapidly that it came into the room. Maintenance came up and started to suck up the water from the floor and carpet, and put a fan in place. However, everyone involved in the clean-up assumed we would spend the night in that cabin. We said that we couldn't sleep in a room that had sewage backed up onto the floor, so the boss of our cabin steward casually sprayed some stuff on the rug and thought that would do it for us.
It certainly didn't feel like a thorough disinfecting process, so I called down to guest relations and explained the whole story, including the fact that we just couldn't sleep in our room anymore. They were very sympathetic and said to stop in after our dinner so they could assign us another room. That sounded good till we arrived at guest relations and found that they would give us a downgrade to an interior cabin for one night and then expected us to go back to our original, fouled cabin for the rest of the cruise.
We politely but firmly stood our ground. We continued to repeat that we felt it was a health hazard to sleep in our original room and that a downgrade was not an option. Finally, after much back room conferencing by the powers-that-be, and their continued assertions that there were no other rooms available, suddenly there was an upgraded junior suite for us on the tenth floor. We certainly appreciated the upgrade but are totally baffled by Guest Relations' response to the situation and wonder why they didn't offer that in the first place.
Explorer is a beautiful ship with some really nice people working on it, but there's obviously a major problem with managing sewage. I hope they get it fixed soon. As to me, I had a good time with my friends on board and will probably cruise again, but it's highly unlikely that I'd ever go on Explorer of the Seas a second time.