The second of five in the revolutionary Voyager-class series that started with Voyager of the Seas in 1999, Explorer of the Seas follows the floating resort concept, with a wealth of facilities, activities and entertainment that will appeal to every age group.
The ship underwent an U.S.$80-million refit in May 2014, with amenities now including an ice skating rink/concert venue/TV studio, spa/solarium complex, a shopping/dining/entertainment boulevard, 3D movie theater, outdoor movie screen, wedding chapel and florist. A fitness center, outdoor jogging track and outdoor youth area with a rock-climbing wall, full-court basketball, nine-holeminiature golf and brand new FlowRider Surf Simulator offers active cruisers of all ages, from children to seniors, something to enjoy.
The ship's recent revamp means interiors feel fresh and are pleasantly decorated in warm tones with plenty of maple panelling. One of the most impressive features is the U.S.$11-million art collection (highlighted by the work of Hollywood stars like Tony Curtis, Peter Falk and Anthony Quinn and photography by Annie Lebowitz) that is showcased across the ship.
The Royal Promenade is the heart of the vessel. You feel like you are in an upscale mall as you walk this longer-than-a-football-field and wider-than-three-lanes-of-traffic boulevard anchored by two atria that are marvels of marble and colossal sculpture. Diversions on the promenade include shops selling everything from ship's logo items, to cheap accessories and designer merchandise.
Despite all the amenities, the ship has been out-sized and out-classed by the line's Freedom-class and Oasis-class ships, but Explorer certainly has plenty of solid selling points. It has a great crew, good atmosphere and is Royal Caribbean's largest ship to be based in Australia, which means it has a range of new Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries from its Sydney homeport. For the other half the year, between May and September, the ship is based in Seattle for cruises to Alaska.
Royal Caribbean typically appeals to couples and singles in their 30s to 50s as well as families of all ages. The median age is in the low 40s on seven-night cruises and in the 30s on three-and four-night cruises. Passengers 50 to 55 and older tend to dominate 10-night and longer cruises. Royal Caribbean attracts passengers that are looking for an affordable, active vacation.
During the day, dress is casual. Evenings are either casual, smart casual or formal. On casual nights, suggested attire is sports shirts and slacks for men and sundresses or pants for women. On smart casual evenings, ideally men should don jacket and tie and women dresses and or pantsuits. On the one or two formal nights per cruise, men can opt for a tuxedo, though a simple sports coat and tie is becoming the norm, while women should wear cocktail dresses or gowns.
Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $13.50 per person, per day. Suite passengers can expect to be charged $16.50 per person, per day. Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. An 18-percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.