After a few cruises, I have kind of figured out what cruising is all about. On any cruise, one can find just about anything he wants. Some like the decorum, the shiny brass, the 3 story ceiling of a large decorated dining room and being served from beginning to end by attentive, well dressed and smiling staff. Some simply like visiting new places and cultures. Some like the sea, the humidity, being rocked like babies during the night. Others like to escalate cliffs. There are golf or basketball for the players and even ice skating and a Casino for the braves. Most just like to lie in the sun and look at girls in bikinis. Some others love night clubs, dancing, going to shows. A few like to drink till they get sick and drop on the floor. There are even some who just hate water and prefer air conditioned shopping centers. They can all be pleased and accommodated by a cruise, except the professional complainers of course. I have met some more than once on ships and I still wonder why they keep coming back. You will find all these groups and more on the Explorer of the Seas.
My first cruise was on the Jewel of the Seas, a magnificently well decorated vessel with comfortable furniture where you see the water from just about everywhere in the ship. I am from the group that loves the sea, even an angry one, and I just loved the Jewel. The Explorer is also a magnificent vessel but not quite as nice, not as comfortable, not decorated as tastefully and not as practical. Aboard, you can spend days without seeing water if you wish. The center of the ship is like the main lobby of a building. I guess they did not make it that way without checking what people wanted.
Don't get me wrong. I am not a complainer and I had a wonderful cruise. The cabins aboard are very comfortable, much better than in most hotels. I had a nice outside balcony, which I used a lot. The ports of call where interesting. Above all, the food in the Windjammer was superb in choice and quality. I wish I had an equivalent place to go to lunch at home.
Wonderful cruise but I still liked the Jewel better.
It is because the Explorer felt more crowded and more like a human processing plant than the Jewel. Most of the seats on the ship are not really comfortable. In bars, in the Windjammer, even in the main dining room, the armchairs are not wide enough for a man to open his legs and feel at ease, which makes me think that the designer was a woman! You have to sit on the edge of the chair to feel good. The tables are squeezed closer together and you are always pushing or disturbing somebody when you sit down or get up. But the main design flaw is in the elevators, way under the required number for a ship of this size, especially since they allow so many wheelchairs and scooters on board. I have seen many large persons using more than half the elevator for themselves and their machine and rolling over people's feet as they get out. Many a time, I have seen old couples wait for an elevator and get discouraged after seeing 2-3 full elevators stop on their floor, finally walking up or down the stairs. Unfortunately, this is one thing that cannot be changed or improved.
Having said that, would I go again on a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas? Certainly! The quality of food, the friendliness and efficiency of the staff (I am thinking of Findlay, my cabin attendant and Irene in the Windjammer), the cabin comfort, and the overall cruising experience would bring me back to the Explorer in a flash. Nothing is perfect in this world, not even a cruise. But RCCL makes it awfully close...