I recently took the explorer of the seas on Dec 11 to the 23. This cruise left from NJ which was nice because I was able to drive there seeing I live in Syracuse, NY. This was also my first cruise so I really didn't know what to expect. I have very mixed review about this cruise. I loved it because it was my first time to the Caribbean. I hated it for a lot of reasons though.
First the embarkment was sort of easy. My friend was able to receive a wheelchair and we went thru the process pretty fast. However once on the ship, there was no one to direct us to our rooms and the lines for the single bay of elevators were long. And people were just rude. They would push onto the elevator before people got off.
Our cabin- I found it to be nice and really enjoyed the balcony. However it really needed to be cleaned (salt on the balcony windows) and repainted. Our room attendant was very nice and did everything we ask. However we never know when the room would be cleaned because we weren't early risers.
The food- Horrible at first. The main dining room food was kind of OK, once we knew what to order and what to stay away from. The Windjammer for dinner was horrible. It was the same selection every night. The sauce for make your own pasta or make your own pizza was nasty. I eat mostly salads and desserts for the first couple of days. When I complained to one of the supervisors about the food in the Windjammer he gave me an attitude. I was in shock and went to my head waiter to complain more. He was a sweet heart and really tried to help us out. He even had the chef come out on night to talk to us so we could figure out what we would enjoy. I went mostly for the food and ports and chose RC because everyone raves about it and all I could do was rant. By the six or seventh day we had shrimp cocktail and creme brulee every night afterwards because that was the only thing I really enjoyed.
The ports- Amazingly beautiful. Haiti was sort of strange and the weather wasn't perfect. The locals just grab at you and pull you to see their goods. My daughter had someone lift her leg up so they could put a bracelet on her ankle. But you can get them to lower their prices on everything. The beach was very nice and private. The boat didn't stay the whole allotted time because a storm was coming, so we left about an hour and a half early. The caption made it up to use by staying in St. Maarten an hour later. San Juan was beautiful along with St. Maarten. While we were in St. Thomas, I took the trip to Tortola to go swimming with the dolphins, so I didn't see to much of St. Thomas. I will never go to St. Kitts again because to people are so rude and nasty there. But it is a beautiful area, we went to the beach and really enjoyed it. If you decide to go to the closest beach by the pier, which cost $4 each way, you will find it packed and the beach is basically a hill, suggest trying another further away. By far Antigua was my favorite port. We took the best of Antigua tour for $60 thru Rc and it was totally worth the money. Our bus driver Austin was really nice and even offered to take me and my daughter over to one of the beaches once we got back from the tour. Plus he fixed up the cut on her knee which was very nice. Austin even gave us a private tour of the area and was very knowledgeable. He was the nicest person I met the entire cruise.
Time at sea - Ugh. I wont suggest to take a cruise down the coast if you get sea sick. I'm not sure if it was because we were going faster or if it was rough seas on the way down the coast but the boat was rocking really really bad. On the way back it wasn't as bad but still not as smooth as I thought it would be. Not a lot to do on the ship, except eat. The shows were not interesting and not what I thought they would be. The pools were freezing cold, that even my daughter wouldn't swim in it and kids usually don't care how cold it is, they always want to go swimming. Rc also advertise on their website that there are 4 pools and 6 whirlpools. Never did find that fourth pool and the crew didn't know where it was either, guess they were counting the ocean. Oh and it is salt water pools, kind of gross. Two of the pools were 5'6" which I wasn't able to use because I'm not a strong swimmer. The nicest whirlpool was in the spa, mostly because it was indoors, but it closed every night at 11, so if you want to relax you had to freeze in one of the outdoor ones. Bingo was a nice way to spend the time but the price of it was crazy. $32 for a 6 play card and was only four short games. I did enjoy the casino but didn't win anything.
I did like the ship. Found it to be clean but a little out dated. The crew was nice but really couldn't answer any of your questions. I'm planning on cruising again but next time I think I will try Carnival. It is cheaper and I heard the food was good. At least if I spend less money and its not a good trip I wont feel as bad. I thought I was getting a good price for the explorer of the sea and for the length of the cruise plus all of the ports we went to but now I kinda feel like I wasted my money.