We booked the Explorer of the Seas for the 5th year in a row. We usually cruise Easter break but decided to do Presidents Week this time. The only concerns I had were rough seas (none!) and too many kids (1300 +). Both turned out to be a no issue.
We originally booked online through rci website then looked for the best t.a. deal and transferred over. Immediately after that I got a call from the t.a. and royal upgraded us to an owners suite! We were so excited. There were 5 of us sailing (me, hubby, & 3 sons). After the excitement, concern over came us because of the one bathroom/one shower situation which turned out to worked fine for us.
The day of embarkation we arrived around 11:00 a.m and it was smooth check-in & shuttle ride. No complaints. We were able to roam the ship, eat and drink until our rooms were ready at 1:00 p.m.
The Explorer of the Seas is 11 years old and still looks great! There were some minor things but nothing that would ruin your vaction. The only unusual thing i encountered was that there were only 2 outlets by the makeup counter that were regular voltage and the rest were set up for adapters - none of which i packed (since this is an american sailing). They did offer me extension cords but I worked it out. Nothing to ruin my vacation.
Dinner was wonderful. It did seem like portions were a tad bit smaller but the waiter bought us unlimited food so it was not an issue. They did have a problem with the dining room soda machine, soda was flat most of the time but our assistant waiter would run up to deck 11 for fresh soda, We felt so bad for him! The children were greated with different ice cream sundaes each night. We had second seating which always works best for us- especially on island days - no rushing.
Being in a suite this time afforded us some great perks but like everything else, the perks are first come, first serve. There were not as many europeans this cruise as the easter sailing but the few that were there were rude enough. As a suite member, we use the corded off area for lounge chairs. I was up at 8 to get a chair for hubby and i and i would see people holding 10-15 chairs at a time. The rest of the family would not show up until after lunchtime but this was all allowed. I did complain but to no avail. Once again, not worth ruining my vacation.
We had Jimmy Rhodes as cruise director and he was great! We were supposed to have richard spacey but he had to fill in on another ship and will be joining the explorer as we disembark on the 27th. Jimmy is off to the Voyager.
Entertainment was excellent. There was always plenty to do on board.
The only complaint I have has nothing to do with Royal but the parents of children. For the love of God, please teach your kids some mannners! There were over 1300 kids this sailing. not as bad as it sounds but it was sad to see that some kids had peeled the numbers off the buttons in the elevator. Some of them were throwing stuff overboard. Horrible!! I think there were two familys kicked off in Puerto Rico because they had routy teens that were throwing the basketball and golf clubs overboard. I am sure they will be posting a bad review but they got what they deserved.
As far as the "smell" goes.. I did smell something from time to time BUT it was a random passing thing.. People need to stop throwing things like diapers in the toilets. Its just plain common sense. The smell was not like another poster had described - sounds like he had another issue and decided to bad mouth the ship.
The weather was absolutely beautiful and even the captain was surprised by the unusual calm seas.
We traveled with kids age 12, 11, 13, 10 and 18.. My two boys usually spend all day and night in the clubs but they had their friends this time and did not use it as much. Because there was such an abundance of kids, they grouped them differently. For example, they had 12-17 grouped together and I think its too much of an age difference. If i remember correctly, it used to be 13-15 or something not as vast as 12-17. Either way, Adventure Ocean was a hit with all the other children who utilized them.
Ports of call were wonderful. St. Marten, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Labadee. Labadee is a beautiful private island that royal owns.