Explorer of the Seas Entertainment
Where do you even begin? It can be very hard to relax on Explorer of the Seas -- even on sea days -- because of the head-spinning array of activities that run from dawn to dusk and beyond! The ship's entertainment staff offers an intriguing blend of options, and everyone, from the most traditional passenger to the completely contemporary traveler, will find something to do.
Highlights? During the day, you'll find plenty of traditional cruise activities, such as bingo, dance lessons (line-dancing), horse racing, art auctions, seminars (on everything from healthy eating to gemstones), Mr. Sexy Legs contests, bridge pairing, arts and crafts workshops, and films in the tiny cinema on Deck 2. More unusual activities include rock-climbing wall competitions and "Ice Planet" -- the ship's ice skating show in Studio B, complete with falling "snow." Throughout the day and night, there's often some type of performance along the Promenade, such as a parade or performances by comedians or musicians. Royal Caribbean does not offer much in the way of onboard enrichment.
At night, the Palace, the main show lounge, is the place to see Broadway-style revues. The four-deck-high, 1,350-seat theater has an opera-house ambience and excellent sightlines. The Casino Royale beckons with a Vegas/rock 'n' roll theme and 300 slots, 10 blackjack tables, three Caribbean Stud tables, three roulette wheels and a craps table. Other options include the Schooner Bar for late evening sing-alongs round the piano; Maharaja's for live music in an India-themed secondary lounge with impressive elephant sculptures and a very refined interior decor; Weekend Warrior for watching sports via satellite on multiple televisions; and The Chamber, a fun nightclub designed to resemble a Gothic castle, with stone columns and arches and a dance floor flanked by chrome suits of armor.
Explorer of the Seas Public Rooms
Quite pleasing to the eye, this ship is pleasantly decorated in warm tones with plenty of maple paneling and features an impressive $11 million art collection (highlighted by the work of Hollywood stars like Tony Curtis, Peter Falk and Anthony Quinn). 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, trees, greenery and colossal sculptures. Diversions on the promenade include the Crown & Kettle, a traditional English Pub; a 24-hour cafe for pizza and pastries; Ben & Jerry's ice cream; Weekend Warrior sports bar; and shops selling everything from ship's logo items to designer merchandise by Versace, Bulgari and Lladro.
While the Royal Promenade is the place to be for a street-fair atmosphere, there are many intimate spaces for quiet times onboard including the Aquarium Bar, with beautiful tanks holding 56 tons of saltwater and hundreds of tropical fish; a clubby cigar lounge; the nautical-inspired Schooner Bar; a well-stocked library; Seven Hearts Card Room; the Champagne Bar; and the Skylight Wedding Chapel (at the highest point on the ship, on Deck 15).
An Internet Center, royalcaribbeanonline, is open 24 hours. The cost for Internet access, via Wi-Fi or at a work station, is 55 cents a minute, or you can buy packages of 60, 90 or 150 minutes for $28, $38 or $55, respectively.
There are no self-service laundry facilities.
Explorer of the Seas Spa & Fitness
Voyager-class ships -- and Explorer of the Seas is no exception -- are famous for their "get out there" philosophy, when it comes to onboard recreation. As such, a huge area (aft) is dedicated to the pursuit of athleticism. There is, of course, the rock-climbing wall rising 200 ft. above the sea (instruction is available), along with a golf simulator (for an extra fee), full-court basketball/volleyball, a rollerblading rink and miniature golf. The ship also offers a handful of ice-skating opportunities on sea days at Studio B. There is a jogging track on Deck 12 (five times around equals a mile), and a dive and snorkel shop on Deck 11, where there are additional fees for classes and gear.
The ship's main pool area features two adjacent pools, two jumbo-sized and two regular whirlpools, and stadium lounge seating. One interesting note: One of the pools and a whirlpool have hydraulic lifts for the disabled. The solarium pool is an adults-only area. It's boasts a Spanish theme with bronze bullfighters and a bull, mosaics and fountains. Its retractable glass roof makes it possible to enjoy the pool and two whirlpools rain or shine.
With more than 15,000 square feet of workout, aerobics and spa facilities, the ShipShape Vitality Day Spa and Fitness Center is among the largest afloat. The oceanview gym with stereo and TV monitors offers 20 treadmills, 18 Reebok strength units, 14 recumbent and upright cycles, eight steppers, six Body Trecs and free weights with multiple benches. There's also a group exercise room for fitness classes (some, like spinning and yoga, charge a $10 fee), an indoor thalassotherapy pool (free of charge) and men's and women's locker rooms with a steam room and a sauna.
The Steiner-operated spa has 14 multi-purpose treatment rooms, a hair salon and relaxation area. It offers an excellent range of treatments (massages, facials, Ionithermie Algae Detox). Service in the spa was outstanding -- and the quality of the treatments themselves was very high.
A couple of caveats: The prices are customary for at-sea treatments, with a basic 50-minute massage now costing $119 or more. A manicure is $29; a pedicure is $45. The spa did offer "discounts" on port-of-call days (and as the cruise wound down). And beware: Treatment employees may engage, somewhat aggressively, in the much-loathed "Steiner Product Pitch" at the end of your appointment.
Next: Explorer of the Seas Family
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