134 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Alaska Cruise Reviews

Detailed Review for those that like to read Cruising with Myself, Wife and two kids ages 4 and 7. Also on the cruise were Grandparents celebrating 50th anniversary and two adult brothers sharing a cabin. I really wanted to like Royal ... Read More
Detailed Review for those that like to read Cruising with Myself, Wife and two kids ages 4 and 7. Also on the cruise were Grandparents celebrating 50th anniversary and two adult brothers sharing a cabin. I really wanted to like Royal Caribbean as they are less expensive than DCL and I was hoping to switch, some of my comparisons may include what I have experienced with Disney and where Royal fell short. Cabin (all three parties had junior suites on opposite sides of the ship, Grandparents and brothers on Starboard side us on port side same floor) Pros - Large room with walk in closet, bathroom decent size with small tub/shower but larger than standard cabin. Cabin door slid open and could be locked into place to leave open. Cons - had pull out couch to sleep both kids, as opposed to DCL which has bunk beds. No curtain divider in room, when one group went to bed everyone needed to pretty much go to bed. Missed the split bathroom DCL has, and DCL shower is more spacious in the Deluxe Family Stateroom. Kids Club Pros - Organized activities split into various age groups. 3-5, 6-8, 9-11. On our cruise they combined the 6-8 with the 9-11 as there were not a lot of kids onboard. The staff was awesome, and the kids loved going. Cons - very specific open times, 9a to noon, 2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm on sea days. $7/hr after 10pm till 1am and nowhere for the kids to nap if tired. DCL is open all day and until midnight, plus they have a room where if the kids are tired they can lay down and take a nap. Space very small (only 30 kids max per age group) and required going through the arcade to reach the kids club. This was very annoying as the arcade games run at full volume and trying to get the kids into the club past these distractions was annoying. DCL easily has 4 times the space, better theming and as my son stated while he liked RCCL kids club they only had one activity at a time whereas Disney had several to choose from. My son is low assistance required Autistic and while RCCL does give out pagers for parents of special needs children DCL has two wave phones in every room that can be carried throughout the ship and the DCL app that you can also be reached through if needed. The check-in/out process was cumbersome, in this day in age where you get scanned to get on/off the ship you would think they would have the same system in the kids club. Service was hit or miss. Cabin Stewards - We needed to ask our cabin steward to return the pull out sofa-bed back into a couch for day use twice, even though we used the 'please service room magnet’ provided by royal more days than not our steward didn’t make up the room till after lunch even though we went out for breakfast and took the kids to the club afterwards every day at sea and even when in port when we returned to the ship for lunch between excursions the room was not made up. We had the same problem in the evening and had to call several times to have the beds turned down and the sofa-bed made. On the other side of the ship my parents and brothers had a great experience with their steward and tipped him extra at the end of the cruise. An example is my Brother broke his pinky toe when he stubbed into a chair in the middle of the night. He called his steward to request ice and bags to ice his injury, after that whenever he came to the room he always had fresh ice and bags. Waiter at Dinner - We arrived promptly when dinner started the first night and the service was very slow. the table next to ours (same waiter) arrived 30 minutes after us. While we would get our appetizers before them we usually had to wait until the same time for the main course. When we asked our waiter about this he said it was Royal policy that he could only pick up food once and we had to wait until the other tables was ready. Seemed like an odd policy. We also requested small glasses for our children (like juice cup) as the adult size water goblets were awkward for little hands, this was a struggle to get the first four nights. Also, we were told there is no children's sized cutlery on Royal Caribbean. Explorer has a midweek survey that we turned in on day three, someone must read those things because we got a lecture from our waiter the next night about bringing problems to him and that he needs us to rate him a 10, he lectured us on this for 15 minutes making us feel very uncomfortable, so much so we stopped going to dinner in the main dining hall. Assistant Waiter was awesome, after first night had Diet Soda waiting for my wife, Ice-Tea for me and everyone else's preferred drink at the table. Various Waiters main dining room lunch - We had great service from every waited we had during lunch in the main dining room, small glasses no problem here are two juice cups, oh you have kids let me get the small dessert spoons to help them out. I feel if I had one of these waiters in the evening my dining room experience would have been different. Other interactions on the ship with crew were very positive, from the lady at the shore excursion desk who helped us change one of the excursions for one of our party who booked the wrong one pre-cruise (and gave them the pre-cruise booking deal) to the bartenders and guest services desk. Entertainment There was a group they brought onboard called MO5IAC and they were really good, other than that the evening production shows (we watched two) were not that good. The Ice Show though was the one highlight of the entertainment from the onboard production company. The enrichment lectures were disappointing as I had already Wikipedia before the cruise and didn’t need it read back verbatim with no or poorly designed slide show to go with it. Left after 10 minutes of the first one, when I saw it was the same guy didn’t bother to attend another. Other than that, they had the usual trivia games, bingo and karaoke. The Up Sell I felt a lot of the cruise was about trying to sell me more stuff. They constantly had people walking around the ship with signs saying they had opening for the specialty restaurants, they would stop while I was sitting trying to enjoy my poorly made cup of coffee and ask if I was interested, this occurred everyday multiple times a day. Same for the Spa appointments. Many of the activities centered around extra cost things, like shopping, alcohol tasting, bingo, the casino, etc.... I felt hassled by the staff from various venues into spending more money, even my waiter was in on the act. When I ordered a steak the first evening he suggested I get the $18 up charge filet in the main dining room. Activities I saw a couple of kids on the Flow Rider. The rock-climbing wall is cool, people used the pools, but I found the weather to be too chilly. Hot tubs were available for those inclined. Mini-gold was nine holes, not very challenging and had not theming. Food Some of the food in the main dining room was ok, I don’t recommend selecting from the stuff they have every day as none of that was ever good for anyone in our party, but the nightly main dishes were ok. The buffet was the same food over and over, the same food every day for breakfast, the same food at lunch. If you like High School cafeteria food then you’ll love Windjammers they have burgers, hotdogs, fries, etc. along with some mixed veggies and and some meat carving stations. Pro Tip at breakfast find the omelette made to order station to get your eggs. We ate a Johnny Rockets and I swear it was the same burgers as in the windjammers. I found the food overall to very disappointing on the cruise compared to other lines I have been on. On a side note my child with autism has some eating issue, one of our go to’s is peanut butter on bread. We brought our own peanut butter with us but can you believe that you cannot get a slice of bread (rolls, buns, etc. no problem) at any time other than breakfast? if you have lunch in the windjammers and your kid wants a PB&J you are outta luck cause you can only get those ingredients at breakfast. Also, how hard is it to make some decent chicken tenders? Alaska This was by far the best destination we have ever cruised. Every port was awesome, every excursion rocked Juneau - Whale Watching and Rainforest Hike Gastineau Guiding Company We lucked out and this was the company that we got when we booked through the Cruise Ship. Our Guide was David T. for the trip and his knowledge made the trip awesome. First we went out for the whale watching which was neat, saw a couple of humpbacks and the boat captain was able to position us to get the quintessential Tail Fluke shot as the whale dove into the water. The real gem of this tour was guided hike through the rain forest. It was not a strenuous hike and David was very good at stopping, gathering the group and giving the history of the glacier and the rain forest that has grown since the glacier has retreated. We had our 7 and 4 year old on the hike and he was excellent in including them in his talks about the rainforest. Next trip we take to Alaska will book this company for more hiking and if possible request David T. as our guide. Dinner was the Twisted Fish Company Great place to stop eat after our hiking excursion at Mendenhall on our way back to the boat. We choose this place for their menu that allowed the seafood eaters of our group to get seafood and the land lubbers to get burgers. The Seafoodies had the Alaskan King Crab Legs that were cooked to perfection and tasted simply awesome. Onion rings on the side were a great add-on, can’t recommend the mac and cheese. Our Burgers eaters had the regular burger and the bison burger both said they really good. Service was good and the next time we are in Juneau I would definitely eat here again. Skagway Alaskan Excursions - Musher’s Camp and S’more Roasting The guide who picked us up was awesome (can’t remember her name but she splits her time between Skagway and Arizona). She pointed out interesting sights along the drive out and back. She also stopped so we could take pics along the way. At the camp we got to meet someone who competed in the Iditarod and was able to give first-hand knowledge of the race and mushing in general. Then we got to meet the puppies (a highlight of our trip for the kids) and finished with s’mores roasting. Overall a great experience and one I would recommend if you’re looking for a relaxing experience that includes puppies and chocolate. White Pass and Yukon Route Railway We lucked out and had the best possible weather the day we were in Skagway. Clear skies, 68 degrees. We took the afternoon train ride up, Pro tip sit in the very front car, you have to walk a little for it, but it wasn't crowded, and you are the last car on the ride back down. Views were awesome, the narration was good if you have never been before and as I said if you ride the first car near the engine on the way up you are the last car on the way down. As they let you step out onto the platform you get great views coming back down the mountain. We wanted to do the Steam Engine ride, but it’s laid up for repairs this year, maybe we’ll get to do that next time. Alaskan Excursions - Grizzly Falls Two of our party did this excursion instead of the train trip. They both said it was great and would definitely recommend it. about 10 zip lines, said the staff was very safe but still had a lot of fun too. Victoria We rented two cars and headed up to Butchart Gardens. It was cheaper to rent a car than do the trip off the cruise ship and we thought it would give us more time. Beware the Taxi ride was $8 dollars and the cabbie tried to tell us it was $8 American dollars, the way to get around this is tell him you do not have cash and pay with your credit card, sure enough I was charged in CAD. The gardens are amazing, and the internet pictures and postcards live up to images you see. The crowds are intense making it very hard to navigate around the gardens. Two things would make this a better visit, go in the spring when more flowers are in bloom and don’t go when a cruise ship is in port something we couldn’t avoid this trip. We stopped to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Victoria before walking around the town. The food was good and as it’s a chain if you have eaten at one...... Conclusion While I plan to visit Alaska again, possibly by cruise ship this will be last my cruise with Royal Caribbean. I know experiences vary and that if I cruised again I could very well have an amazing time but to me this just means RCCL has a consistency problem and I don't want to risk my hard-earned dollars on the chance my next experience will be better. I have never had an issue in the service area with the cruises I have taken with DCL, that along with the fact they have kids in mind when planning not just with the clubs but also the little things like cutlery, food choice, and non-kids club activities. I also really missed the movie theatre’s DCL has on all their ships showing first run movies, my kids missed the character meet and greet and unlike Royal activities are not centered around being in a bar. I have heard people say the Cruise line are comparable but in my experience that is just not the case. Good Luck and thanks for reading Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Before you book an Alaskan cruise on this ship, make sure you know about the TRUE itinerary. There was NO Tracy Arm Fjord and NO inside passage and RC knows about this ahead of time. In fact when I inquired on board as to why we weren’t ... Read More
Before you book an Alaskan cruise on this ship, make sure you know about the TRUE itinerary. There was NO Tracy Arm Fjord and NO inside passage and RC knows about this ahead of time. In fact when I inquired on board as to why we weren’t returning on the inside passage, I was told the ship is too big for it, so the route that you see advertised is totally incorrect. I would call that false advertising. After 21 cruises with RC I am disappointed on how I was treated by the front desk when I inquired. Instead of listening to my complaint I was belittled like I didn’t know what I was talking about. The dining room was great and our service was exceptional. Our state room attendant was also great. Our room showed its wear and smelled like bleach from a public restroom. Solarium and pool area was nice and the bar staff gave us great service. They somehow know your name even after one drink order. We booked whale watching on our own in Juneau and were on a much smaller boat than what RC had available. We saw about 5 different whales and did about 34 miles round trip. In Skagway we did the white pass train. Ask to be in the end car and you will have great photo opportunities from the back. In Victoria we went to Butchart Gardens and it was nice. I would go as early as possible to avoid the crowds. In summary, the three ports were good. My main complaint is the amount of time in the rolling open seas, when I expected calmer seas in the inside passage. Also, don’t expect to see Tracy Arm fjord. As I read other comments on cruise critic this is rare that RC actually goes there. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This cruise was selected due to a round trip itinerary (leaving from and returning to Seattle) and the ports the ship visited. Also the type of entertainment, restaurants, and activities on board. The ship was larger than I expected. There ... Read More
This cruise was selected due to a round trip itinerary (leaving from and returning to Seattle) and the ports the ship visited. Also the type of entertainment, restaurants, and activities on board. The ship was larger than I expected. There is a promenade, not just a Centrum. We went to a wine tasting, a cocktail making class, the all access tour and the mystery dinner theater event. None of these were free but we felt the charges were reasonable. We used the gym, attended the dance shows and ice skating show and played bingo once. Always something to do. My only complaint as in the past is with the food-mostly in the main dining room. I have felt in the past, the food was better on the smaller ships but not finding that to be the case anymore. I thought the choices were not that exciting and bland. Since I don't go on a cruise for the food, I tend to overlook this flaw. I will say also that the service during meals (lunch or my time dining) has not been as good as in the past. We were never offered a wine menu, extra bread and constantly had to ask for refills on ice tea. Not sure if they have cut their staff down, but it seems your waiter and asst waiter just disappear during your meal now. Bar tenders at the bars around the ship were hit or miss. Did like Dizzy's bar and usually just went up there where the service was better. Overall I thought this was a great cruise. Our excursions were not booked through the ship other than the train in Skagway. I feel confident in booking my own excursions and usually find them more interesting and cheaper. I liked the ports. Plenty of shopping options for us and found great restaurants. We stayed 3 days in Seattle (before and after cruise). So much to do here. We walked or took and Uber or Lyft. There is a homeless problem in Seattle, but we did not feel unsafe or bothered. Went to Underground Seattle, Food Tour of Pike Place Mkt, wine tour in Woodinville, Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens. Lots of options Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Took our 9th family cruise on Explorer of the Seas (EOS), on a 7-day Alaska itinerary from Seattle - our first visit to Alaska, and only our 2nd non-Caribbean cruise (we did Europe in 2010). Total of 11 family members, from age 4 to age ... Read More
Took our 9th family cruise on Explorer of the Seas (EOS), on a 7-day Alaska itinerary from Seattle - our first visit to Alaska, and only our 2nd non-Caribbean cruise (we did Europe in 2010). Total of 11 family members, from age 4 to age 83. (My wife and I are 49, with daughters age 22 and 19.) We visited Seattle for 3 days before the cruise, and hit the major sights including the Space Needle (newly renovated and amazing!), Chihuly Gardens, and a day trip to Mount Rainier (via Tours Northwest, also recommended). Embarkation was friendly, quick, and smooth - what a contrast from Newark (horrible). We arrived at 1pm and checked right into our Junior Suite, which to us is a worthwhile (if expensive) upgrade - the extra floor space, the walk-in closet, and the wider balcony let you "breathe." This was our 8th Royal Caribbean cruise dating back to 2008, so we're familiar with the drill. EOS felt a bit dated compared to our recent cruises on Quantum- and Oasis-class ships, but the main draw here was a chance to visit Alaska. Still, we especially missed Central Park, the Boardwalk, and the generally wider range of venues. Windjammer felt especially small, and nearly always meant a battle to find an open table. On the positive side, the gym felt huge and not at all crowded. Entertainment was top-notch, and cruise director Graham was definitely friendly and funny. But the dining experience on RCCL continues to decline in our view. We reserved MyTime dining most nights in Sapphire, and every dinner took over 2 hours, with food served at glacial speed (pun intended). Disappointingly, Chops was even worse; a single unfortunate waiter was assigned to our 11-person table without any assistance whatsoever, and he was totally overwhelmed. Only Giovanni's Table offered anything close to a special meal. That said, our main dining room waiter did an excellent job pre-ordering a vegan meal for our daughter each night, which were quite good and varied. We both signed up for spa appointments, and got talked into the inevitable pricey Elemis upsell at the end. (Feel free to decline.) The spa itself was very nice and professionally run, and something we look forward to as part of "being on vacation." We loved all 3 port calls - JUNEAU was beautiful and intriguing. We did the sea kayak excursion, and got a great close-up encounter with a bald eagle and numerous seals. The guide was a native Alaskan with good stories for us. We had dinner in town at V's Cellar Door - hands down our best dinner of the cruise. We took our kayak bus driver's suggestion to get beyond the first few blocks from the ship - basically an artificial tourist-ville - and get into the real Juneau, where we found V's. Note, the walk from the ship (we docked on AJ pier) to town was a good 30 minutes. Shuttles are available, but we're the walking type. SKAGWAY was even more captivating. Amazing scenery and fascinating history. We rode the White Pass railroad, which I highly recommend. I wished I'd read more about it in advance, to fully appreciate why the railroad exists (we learned that along the way) and why it's special. The town itself looks tourist-y at first glance, but it's more authentic than you realize, with many original gold rush-era buildings. I wish we'd had more time to spend wandering - there are numerous National Park-manned shops with history, exhibits, and information. We had lunch at Skagway Brewing Co., another excellent meal and fun place. VICTORIA is a beautiful small city and capital of British Columbia. We did the Butchart Gardens excursion. It's not cheap, but we appreciated our bus driver's narration and city tour as we drove through on the way to the gardens, which are stunning. The tour allowed 2 hours to explore, which was barely enough (3 might have been better). We did some walking afterwards, visiting the Empress Hotel and the Parliament buildings, along with lunch at NoodleBox (great vegan choices there). Also, ENDICOTT ARM FJORD was a stunning sight, with floating ice, waterfalls, and seals. (We were redirected there, instead of Tracy Arm.) We got within about 0.7 miles of Dawes Glacier, and enjoyed a good view from our balcony for about 40 minutes of some decent-sized glacier calving. A new experience for all of us - it sounds like thunder, and is a wonder to behold. Disembarkation at Seattle was much easier than we'd expected. We had a 9:30am flight out of SeaTac, so I was a bit nervous, but we were at the airport by 7:10am! We did self-checkout and were in line by 6:10am - they advertise this "starts" at 6:45am, but in reality the line starts forming around 6am (we found 22 people ahead of us) and disembarkation begins at 6:30am. There are 2 lines, at the forward and aft elevators on Deck 4. Virtually no lines inside the terminal to exit, and there were a zillion taxis lined up and ready to go (although only a few minivan taxis, which our party of 4 needed, and got immediately). Light traffic, and just a 25-minute ride to SeaTac. We will probably always do self-checkout in the future, unless we have a late flight. Thank you to the crew of EOS and to Royal Caribbean for another nice vacation! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We cruised August 17-24 to Alaska on the Explorer, round trip from Seattle. We chose this ship because of the timing, price, the ports visited and the itinerary. The Explorer was a beautiful ship and seemed to be trust the right size. ... Read More
We cruised August 17-24 to Alaska on the Explorer, round trip from Seattle. We chose this ship because of the timing, price, the ports visited and the itinerary. The Explorer was a beautiful ship and seemed to be trust the right size. I sailed on the Enchamentment of the Seas and the Carnival Ecstasy before and both were smaller. Yet I'm not sure I would want a larger ship like the Symphony of the Seas or the Norwegian Epic because of how long it must take to get on and off board with all those passengers. The best thing about the ship itself was that there was something for everyone and that it catered to diverse tastes. We were never bored on our days at sea. The ice skating performance, dance show, and music performances were all great especially the musician in the British pub. If people want to just relax in a quiet spot and read a book by the ocean, you can do that as well. I loved the food and service in the Windjammer buffet and the main dining room, and the variety on the menus (except for breakfast, but then that's to be expected). Every meal was delicious! I didn't get to try the specialty restaurants. The gym was fantastic with a great view from the front of the ship and had one of the most amazing jacuzzis I've seen, and I really loved the sauna and steam room. The itinerary was great. I went on excursions for dog sledding/helicopter ride in Juneau and the White Pass Railroad in Skagway which also included a trip to Liarsville, a former gold mining camp, and a salmon bake. We explored Victoria on our own and visited the Butchart Gardens. I liked how this ship stopped for 8 hours in Victoria even though I know the Canada stop is only really to fulfill legal requirements since the ship isn't a US flagged vessel. (The Celebrity Solstice which left and came back to Seattle with us only docked in Victoria from 6 to 10 PM. same with many of the Norwegian ships which is a major reason why we chose this one since my mom really wanted to see the Butchart Gardens.) The dog sledding and helicopter adventure was definitely thrilling. The ride over Juneau into the Norris Glacier was spectacular and the dog camp was very fun along with the ride itself. It was cool meeting the mushers and learning about the dog camp and the dog sled racing scene since our guide was a professional musher (she was real cool and told us she would be racing in the Iditarod next time). The White Pass was beautiful and the salmon bake in Liarsville was delicious and the visit to the Red Onion in Skagway was a fun experience. Our guide was hilarious in both the Red Onion and Liarsville. I enjoyed learning about the history of the gold rush and Southeast Alaska and found it cool that we followed the exact route that the prospectors took from Seattle to the Klondike. I would have liked to see Glacier Bay but I understand only a few ships get to visit there. We were supposed to visit Tracy Arm but because of weather/ocean conditions we went to Dawes Glacier instead but that was still amazing, though our visit time in the early morning made taking pictures difficult since the sun was directly above the glacier. The scenery was great though. Seattle was a great port even though it was very hazy from the wildfires from California, Canada and Eastern Washington. We couldn't see Mt Rainier from the Space Needle! But the Needle was still fun to visit as was the Chiluly Gardens and Glass the Great Wheel and Pike Place Market. I would highly recommend Ivar's on the waterfront for dinner. The Behind the Scenes tour is highly recommended if you've never been on one before! It was on that tour that I really felt I was on board a ship! The bridge and the engine control room were the coolest parts of that tour. My suggestions for improvement: - As great as this ship was, it would be better for Alaska sailings to have a ship with a full indoor pool and a solarium with a refractable roof (yes the outdoor pools were sufficiently heated but the observation areas were exposed to the wind) - I feel the alcohol on board was overpriced - The slots in the casino felt more "stingy" than the ones on land, though it was cool having a European style roulette table without the double 0 - I feel SOME of the excursions like the ones in Victoria and the Seattle city tour were overpriced compared to booking a tour independently. We saved a lot of money in Victoria by booking with CVS tours online on our own vs going through Shore Excursions - The water pressure in my cabin shower wasn't very good - I wish the ship was more clear about whether the tap water on board was drinkable. In fact the crew members we asked don't seem to agree on whether its drinkable or not. The bottled water was very expensive. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Overall: My family had cruised more than a dozen times, on Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. We are all Platinum, including our 2 teenager kids. This is actually our 3rd time on EOS, with the first 2 times to Bermuda and ... Read More
Overall: My family had cruised more than a dozen times, on Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. We are all Platinum, including our 2 teenager kids. This is actually our 3rd time on EOS, with the first 2 times to Bermuda and Caribbean when EOS was home-ported at NJ. This review is not much of a blow-by-blow description of the trip, but more of a collection of practical observation and tips. Seattle: Our family of 6 (3 generations) flew to Seattle on Wed. Spent 2 nights at Fairfield Inn by the SEATAC airport. I had lots of Marriott points from business travels, so it came in handy for summer peak season when the room rate would have been more than $250 per night. If you stay there, and if you are sensitive to noise, ask for rooms on the top floor. The building is wood-framed, not concrete. You could hear the footsteps of the guests above you if you were a light sleeper. We bought ORCA cards ahead of time and loaded them with Regional Day pass for our sightseeing on Thur. Tips: (1). Senior and Youth pay half price for the Day Pass, but I had to order the special ORCA cards ahead of time via postal mail. I basically had to prove to them the users were indeed senior and youth. Normal adult ORCA cards can be purchased from the machine at the station. (2). Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Hampton Inn were next to each other, all within 5 minute walking distance to the Angle Lake Light Rail station. (3). For the day, we took the Light Rail to downtown Seattle, then took a bus to Ballard Lock, then another bus back to Chinatown, and finally Light Rail back to the hotel. Google Map was great for directions – I could choose the option of “public transit”, and it would tell me how to walk to the nearest bus or rail station and when the next bus would come. I could optimize on Quickest Trip, or Least Amount of Walking, or Fewest Number of Bus Transfer. Embarking: We booked Seattle Express for roundtrip to Cruise port. 6 of us plus luggage would be too large a crowd for any normal vehicle. A smaller family might be able to spend less money by taking an Uber or taxi. Seattle Express offers a discount for AAA member, and there is another discount if you take the earliest shuttle at 9 AM. I initially was concerned that 9 AM would be too early, but as it turned out, it was perfect and got us onto the ship among the first group, and since we were from the East Coast, we were up and about by 7 AM anyway. We arrived at the cruise port about 10 AM due to 3 stops at different hotels for pickup, and a little bit of traffic through downtown. Already quite a few people had arrived, and there was somewhat of a line, but the line kept moving at a good pace. We basically never stood still in the line, and went through security and check-in within 20 minutes. 5 minutes after we finished check-in, they opened up the ramp for getting on the ship. By 10:45, we were on the ship. We camped out at the library, played some board games, picked out some books, and took turns to go to lunch, and before you know it, it’s 1 PM and the cabins were open. Cabins: I booked this cruise on the first day the itinerary opened up (about 18 months before the departure date). I accidentally stumbled upon a new category of rooms called Panoramic Oceanview room, on 12th floor all the way to the front, basically right above the ship’s bridge. I snatched up room 1864 for my family of 4 and room 1866 for my parents. There were a lot of discussions of these rooms on the boards. You can go and see some photos for yourself. 1864 was especially gorgeous with 5 floor-to-ceiling windows covering the entire 20 ft of front wall that faced the ocean. For an Alaska cruise, it’s especially nice because we were able to sit in the cabin and watch the postcard-worthy view of Seattle skyline and later the fjord and glacier. However, there were some practical considerations: (1) If there is a fog at night, the ship is required to sound the fog horn every 30 seconds. The horn was right above the bridge. On this trip, the horn went off for 2 hours during the first night and 3 hours during the second night. It was brutal. The Guest Service desk gave us free earplugs. I also had a White Noise app on my phone. I turned the volume to the highest level, and with the earplugs, my kids and I were able to drift off to sleep. My wife, who must have had more sensitive hearing, got barely any sleep in those 2 nights. (2) The closet space was bad. The quirk in the layout of the room that made the cabin twice as large as a normal cabin also made the closet space only half as large. We had to hang our jackets and sweatshirts in our parents’ cabin next door. (3) When the ship was going at full speed and the wind picked up, it was rocking! The higher the floor, the closest to the front, the more you would feel it, and this cabin was basically on the highest floor and closest to the front. (4). We had 4 people in the cabin and was able to sleep comfortably. I was initially a little concerned about the pullout couch since my teenage son and daughter wouldn’t want to share a couch bed. To our delight, the cabin steward converted the couch into 2 separate twin beds. Problem solved! Food: We had My Time Dining and I made reservations ahead of time for most of the days. For the 2 days in port we didn’t have reservations because we didn’t know how late we were going to be. When we did come back to the ship and decided to go to the dining room, even though we didn’t have a reservation, we were seated without any wait. So the My Time Dining system had finally worked like it was supposed to be, unlike some earlier cruises we took. The actual food in MDR was so so. My family and many of the fellow passengers agreed on one thing: all the dishes, from appetizer to entrée to dessert, looked better than they tasted. Don’t get me wrong. They were not bad, but they felt more like Applebee’s or Friendly’s food than a fine dining establishment. We ate 2 evening meals at Windjammer. I had to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. In the past, the evening buffet was basically the same food as MDR but sitting under heat lamps for a long time. This time, they had unique choices and the food was all very fresh. One night was Asian night – not genuine dim sum or sushi, but at least a valiant attempt with roast duck, bok choy, snowpeas, noodles, miso soup, and etc. And the other night was Seafood – raw oysters and clams on ice, freshly fried crab cakes and tempura fish and shrimps… And they always had a big selection of dessert, including a chocolate fountain. They definitely had put more efforts to make Windjammer a better dinner option. If I had known, I might have gone to Windjammer for dinner more often. Entertainment: Nothing to say about the regular entertainment. Having been on multiple RCCL ships, I have seen the same ice show and production show a few times. They did have a new game show which was basically an Escape Room, but adapted to an open lounge area with 30 or so teams competing to solve a series of riddles. That was very enjoyable. I hope they keep trying and coming up with new entertainment ideas. In fact, they probably could set up a real Escape room on board and take reservations for one group at a time. Ports: Juneau had terrible weather, resulting in our Helicopter Ride to Glacier being cancelled. We went with the backup plan of Whale Watch. It was ok, not that great. I never understood the fascination of some people had with watching whales. This was not like a BBC or Animal Planet documentary. The boat had to stay at least 300 ft away from the whale. All we saw was a spray of water which indicated there was a whale, then everybody on board rushed over to the side and stared intently at a lump of a thing barely peaking above the water. A few seconds later, the tail flipped up when the whale dove down into deep water. Then everybody started scanned the horizon for the next spray of water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 times during an hour, and that was it. In my opinion, not really worth the $115 per person. In Skagway, we chartered a private small bus from a company called Trail of 98 Tours. The owner Tom was the driver and tour guide. That was the highlight of our trip. The famous WhitePass railroad sounded good, but most people only rode on it for a very short segment – without even leaving Alaska. Our driver took us about 3 times as far, leaving Alaska, going through British Columbia, and into Yukon, stopping at various scenic spots as well as major stopping/playing locations such as Tutshi Dog camp, Village of Carcross, Bennett Lake, Emerald Lake, and Carcross Desert. I highly recommend Trail of 98 Tours if you have a large group or if you are able to find some people to share the bus. The bus could seat 14. We teamed up with 2 other families (through Roll Call on CruiseCritic) to split the flat rate of approximately $900 for a whole day’s worth of sightseeing, which worked out to be about $70 per person. That’s a great deal! Victoria was ok. The walk from the dock to downtown was only 20 minutes, about 1.5~2 miles. There were things to look at and most of the sidewalk was under shady trees – very easy and pleasant walk. The Cruise Compass said 40 minutes. I wondered if they tried to scare people into taking the shuttle bus ($13 round trip). Walking 10~15 minutes in the other direction would take you to a beautiful cliff-side park, where my wife and I sat on a bench overlooking the ocean and the ship in distance. It was very relaxing and a great end to the vacation. Disembarkation: It was very easy. We had a late flight out of SEA (around 2 PM), so we chose as late a disembarkation time as possible. We were assigned to leave at 8:45. We were called right around that time. When we got down to the departure hall, the customs agents were not checking any ID or asking any questions – they simply stood by the door and asked everybody to hold up the passport showing the photo page (regardless which country’s passport). Everybody just walked on at a normal speed with passports in their hands. I didn’t see them stopping anybody. By 9 AM we were outside the terminal. The easiest experience of entering the US border I ever had. Seattle Express had its dedicated spot for their van for pickup. We went to it, checked in with somebody who had a list of names who had reservations, and boarded the bus. As the bus was pulling out of the area, I noticed a few interesting things: (1). 3 lanes of traffic had to merge into one. The person directing traffic always gave shuttle buses the priority. Quite a few yellow taxis were lined up in queue waiting for the buses to leave first. (2). There was a sign advertising fixed rate for taxi rides: up to 4 persons, $40 flat rate to airport. For a party with 2, 3 or 4 people, this would have been a better deal than Seattle Express shuttle. (3) As our shuttle was driving away, I saw lots of people were dragging suitcases and walking on the side of the road. Not very safe as the narrow sidewalk couldn't fit so many people, so some of them were acutally walking on the road, and they literally looked like refugees. I thought they were walking toward the parking lot to their own cars, but a minute or so later, I realized that they were going to a remote area that’s designated for Private and Ride-sharing pickup. That place was totally congested with hundreds of people and dozens of cars. It’s obvious to me that they would have been better off taking the regular taxi. Walking ½ mile with suitcases, spending 20~30 minutes trying to find your driver, then another 10 minutes trying to get out of the port – in exchange for a saving of $5 or $10? Not worth it. In summary, it was a nice trip. The ship was good, the food/service/entertainment were about par for RCCL. Our room was great 99% of the time, when the fog horn wasn’t going off. The pictures taken out of the cabin windows certainly elicited a lot of “cruise envy” or “cabin envy” among friends. Weather didn’t completely cooperate but it’s expected. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our first experience on Royal Caribbean after several cruises on Carnival. We paid a lot for a Jr. Suite and our expectations were pretty high. Boarding at the Seattle port was not a good experience. We arrived at 10am in a ... Read More
This was our first experience on Royal Caribbean after several cruises on Carnival. We paid a lot for a Jr. Suite and our expectations were pretty high. Boarding at the Seattle port was not a good experience. We arrived at 10am in a Lyft and it took him 45 minutes to get through the crowd to drop us off. Another ship was in port and it was also unloading and loading like ours was. The port was an absolute mess. We were supposed to have priority boarding because of the Suite. We had a priority line but had to board with everyone else - no priority was given. That was a disappointment. Once we did get on board our room was available at the promised time of 1pm. We liked this system, it seems a lot better than the nebulous times that Carnival would give us. We had no complaints at all about the Jr. Suite. It was very spacious and had a large balcony and a tub in the bathroom instead of a shower stall. We really liked the all of the drawers and storage space. We came nowhere close to filling them up. Our Cabin Steward Paul was just great the entire time that we were onboard. We could be out of our room for only 45 minutes and it would be clean by the time we got back. If he saw us in the hall he would drop everything and come running to open our door for us. Overall the ship was in great shape and very clean. Very seldom did we see any used cups left anywhere. We enjoyed the adults only section in the middle of the ship. Even the pool areas where they allowed children did not seem that wild or have the constant bass thump/thump and drunken louts that Carnival seems to attract. We really enjoyed the main foyer and all of the activity that went on there. We especially enjoyed the pub and were regulars there every night. We made friends with several of the bar staff and looked forward to interacting with them every night. There were several little areas on the ship where you could just sit and relax and watch the people walking by on the foyer. We really liked this and were always discovering new places throughout the duration of the voyage. We went on one excursion - the Whale Watching tour in Juneau - and this was fantastic. It was extremely well organized by the RCI staff and the tour company that they used did a great job. We saw a ton of whales - just as promised. We did not like the constant nickel and diming all of the time. From the moment we arrived at the port they were selling lanyards for holding the cruise cards. We were constantly harassed by people trying to upsell something - especially the fine dining restaurants. They even charged to eat at Johnny Rockets. We also did not like the constant pandering by the Cruise Line to pay their employees tips over and above what is already charged as a daily gratuity. They included this in their TV advertising and even provided their employees with envelopes and literature to solicit more money. This type of thing borders on slimy. Perhaps they should pay their employees better rather than trying to nickel and dime the passengers to do so. The worst part of the cruise was the main dining room. It was totally disorganized and the food was crap. I wouldn't feed it to my dog. We filled out dining times online before we went on the cruise however that was meaningless as anyone could show up at anytime. The logistics of seating people was an absolute disorganized joke. It was hard to get served and when you did they wanted the appetizer, entree and desert order all put in at once - just like a production line. When the food did show up it was absolutely disgusting slop. The first night at dinner my wife had a steak which was inedible. The following day at lunch I had the pasta special which was disgusting garbage. We refused to eat at the dining room after this and ate at the Windjammer Buffet the entire time which was surprisingly good. We will be contacting RCI about this issue shortly as it was unacceptable given the amount of money we paid. Thankfully the food at the Windjammer was great. They had several stations and if you looked around you could find almost anything and it was high quality. The main chef Raj even came up and made sure that we were enjoying our meal. I am sure the chef of the main dining room would be afraid to show his face. We did find some of the cleaning staff in the Windjammer to be a bit aggressive and thought that the passengers were an inconvenience to them. There seemed to be a lot of the male staff just standing around talking while tables remained dirty. One night we barely got fed. We came back from a day in port at 8pm. We decided to stop for a drink before going to grab some dinner. We went up for dinner at 9pm and the dining room was closed. We went to area in the main foyer however they were only offering small pizza slices and tiny finger sandwiches. It was hard to get full on this and was quite disappointing. We didn't experience any of the shows at the main stage however we did see some shows in the main foyer on the walkway. They were so/so but the crowd seemed to like them. We found the guy entertaining in the pub to be a bit repetitive and annoying. We took our own luggage off for disembarkation and it went very smoothly. We were off the ship and waiting for our Lyft driver before 7am. Our experience of the Seattle port was much better then embarkation. In summary it was a pretty good cruise. We are looking to up our game from Carnival and we are not sure if Royal Caribbean is the right choice or not. We hated the nickel and diming and the pandering for tips by the cruise line. The quality of the main dining room was unacceptable given how much we paid for this cruise. Long story short - RCI did not totally win our loyalty based upon this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Overall this trip was fine. There were lots of options for keeping yourself occupied during the day and plenty of spaces to relax on board. The biggest issue we had was how EVERYTHING cost extra!! I would rather pay more upfront and not ... Read More
Overall this trip was fine. There were lots of options for keeping yourself occupied during the day and plenty of spaces to relax on board. The biggest issue we had was how EVERYTHING cost extra!! I would rather pay more upfront and not be nickeled and dimed for a week. The shops had constant sales and promotions, as did the Spa. Not a day went by without someone handing me a flyer for a deal somewhere on the ship. If you are in the market for jewelry, watches, perfume and liquor, this is your cruise! To me, it was annoying and obnoxious. I paid a lot of money to be there in the first place, don't charge me for a soda or a marker for my bingo card! Excursions were great and ultimately what we came for. Great to get a small taste of Alaska and see gorgeous wilderness up close. Too bad Juneau and Skagway are overrun with diamond shops. Most staff were very friendly and helpful, some were downright crabby. Food was overall good and I really appreciated the fresh salad options. Our room was clean and had what we needed in terms of storage. My daughter was hugely disappointed in the kid's club - small, shabby rooms that always felt a little grubby. If you have ever sailed Disney and used their kid's club you will NOT be impressed. Also, there was no way for the staff to get in touch with you except calling your room. If you wanted to go anywhere other than your room, they had NO WAY of finding you. Age 9 and up could check themselves out without parent's permission. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Well I’ll start by saying visiting Alaska is a must on anyone’s bucket list ! Cruising seem to be the best way to see the most Alaska has to offer ! If you can get a balcony room ! Your excursions do not have to be planned in advance ... Read More
Well I’ll start by saying visiting Alaska is a must on anyone’s bucket list ! Cruising seem to be the best way to see the most Alaska has to offer ! If you can get a balcony room ! Your excursions do not have to be planned in advance you can book on the cruise or with private companies at the ports or just walk to town ( take a cab in Victoria it’s the cheapest way to town 10$ To the empress hotel for up to 6 people the shuttle 13$ per person ) and do a self guided tour of the town , I highly reccomend booking one in Skagway as it is the longest day in port ! We did a tripbup the white mountain pass in a mini bus great views and photo opps ! Bus stops a bunch of times to take photos several water falls , if they see wild animals they will pull over to phoyograph ! We went to the kiosk just off the ship and booked through I think it was MNM tours Joe was our guide and he was great ! Got to see a bear ! But there aren’t any whale watching tours in Skagway from what I could see , if that is your interest book in jueneu or Victoria ( orca) this is the last leg of the trip so if your booking it needs to be the first thing you do in Victoria . I read somewhere that whale watching is best done in June . Whale sighting guarantees well let me tell you about that , you can see them from the ship at times we had several opportunities but you’ll be looking for the puff of water and then movent if your lucky you’ll catch a tail this isn’t sea world show this is wild life so your taking your chances . Watch the weather before you go , several excursions were cancelled due to weather related issues , mainly a lot of rain and high winds . Meaning no helicopters to take you up to dog sled . Skagway is very windy ! The day we were there it gave Chicago a run for its money ! That is what it’s namw means also Skagway = a windy place . Lol Pack in layers you never know what the weathers going to be like ! This ship has some bonus things you may not have read about ... CIGAR LOUNGE ! , adult only swimming area , with jacuzzis and cushioned chairs super comfy ! There is plenty to eat and drink that’s included with your cruise you will not go hungry ! , we are at Johnny rockets one night it’s very reasonable 10$ choose anything from the menu extra charge fir milkshake 5$ , burgers were amazing ! As well as the rest of our food ! The staff danced at our request , not as many people working there as a normal one so not as much dancing lol but they were real good sports about it it was great fun ! Read your flyers they put on your bed daily , look for special drink deals , sales , giveaways , events etc... there’s a casino on board as well ! , explore all floors something to do or see on all except 1 st floor . Your allowed to bring two 750ml bottles of wine per room at embarkment only ! And they say no food or drink bank on to ship at ports but you can bring bottles beverages unopened small ones , you will have to go through security just FYI . Bring a water bottle . Drink packages are overrated unless your a heavy drinker , if you drink soda the soda package is 70$ approx , but there’s drinks in the windjammer free unsweetened tea , coffee ( several locations throughout the ship ) water , lemonade , sugar free fruit flavored water , milk , chocolate milk ( you have to ask for it ) . We didn’t do any formal dining , but if you’d like to dress up it would be fun I’m sure ! If you have any questions feel free to ask ! Don’t forget to washy washy your hands ! Lol ! You’ll get this later unless you’ve cruised before ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our second 7+ day cruise. We stayed two nights in Seattle at a VRBO. Boarding the ship was quick and easy. I believe we boarded around 1130-1200 and there were minimal lines. From the airport we took the Express Shuttle which ... Read More
This was our second 7+ day cruise. We stayed two nights in Seattle at a VRBO. Boarding the ship was quick and easy. I believe we boarded around 1130-1200 and there were minimal lines. From the airport we took the Express Shuttle which was the cheapest. We also used them from the cruise ship to the airport. We used Lyft from our condo to the ship since it was the cheapest. We had two balcony cabins that were connected, 7538 and 7536. I liked where the cabins were, towards the front of the boat. They were a good size with two adults and a child staying in each cabin. Our Steward Iputu was great. We requested wine glasses on our first day and everyday we had fresh wine glasses when our room was cleaned. The ship was rather small in my opinion but had everything you would need. I spent most of the time in the Casino which was a good size and had most of the table games. They even had a poker table which they would open when 4 or more people were sitting down. Down side was that the rake was 10% up to $15. Really high since a lot of pots got over $150. We are in the dining room almost every night. Food was really good along with the service. We brought 8 bottles of wine with us 2 of which had other adult beverages in them. For dinner we would uncork the bottles, pour them in a glass and take them with us to dinner to avoid the $15 corkage fee. We ate one night at Giovannis, the Italian pay restaurant. It was $30 a person and the food was really good. I would do only one night and either do there or the steak house. A friend did the Japanese restaurant and everything was a la cart. You get $30 credit per person for the food there. The buffet was good although we only ate breakfast there a few times and lunch on the first day. Every other time we ate in the dinning room which again was very good. The ship had plenty of things to do for adults and kids (13 & 10). They had a good size arcade which out kids loved. We got them $100 credit for $80 before the cruise began. My daughter blew thru that in 2 days and my son spread it out over 4 days. They have a cool rock climbing wall and wave machine. They show a lot of movies out by the pool and in the theater. We docked in Juneau, Skagway and Victoria. In Juneau we booked a shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier thru Viator on our own. Everything worked out great. In Skagway we booked a dog sledding tour that went into Canada thru Klondike tours. This was fantastic. Saavy our guide was great. Very informative, with some good stops on the 45min drive. Panning for gold was short by very informative and kids had a good time. In Victoria we did the city bus tour. We did the original bus tour that had a British flag on it. It was way cheaper that the double deck bus tour by the Empress Hotel. I went to every brewery in each port, Devils in Juneau (missed the Alaskan Co since it was 45 min away) Skagway and Klondike in Skagway (Chili was amazing at Skagway) and Phillips and Vancouver in Victoria. Getting off the ship was easy and fast since we were the first to get off at 7am. Here are some helpful tips for your. Make sure you buy and packages, dinner, drinks or soda well before the cruise. I purchase a refreshment package for $26 a day when I could have done it on sale for $16. They give you a cup and have a couple of the coke machines with tons of drinks. I took extra cups and just shared it with the family. You can get unlimited drinks and water so one package for a family of 4 is more that enough. I didn't get the beverage package. They had drinks of the day and martinis for $7 during happy hour at Dizzies (deck 14 with great views) which were fantastic. Toward day 4-5 they offered a 10 drink package for $75. This brought the price from $12 to $8 a drink. The long islands ice teas at the Irish pub were great. We also did two wine tasting $15 and $30. You get four wines on the first one and 6 wines plus two champagnes on the second. Cheeses, crackers and fruit were provided. The second was a blind tasting and my favorite. Suggested they give you paper next time so you can write down what you think it is because they don't tell you until the end. All in all this was a very good cruise. I would defiantly recommend you go on it. If you can afford it do more excursions that take you inland more. I wish I would have done them in Juneau and Victoria. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Rather disappointing. We arrived in Seattle and stayed in Holiday Inn Express downtown. It was in a good location to walk around and take in the city. Embarkation was smooth and fast. We boarded the ship by 11:00. Our ... Read More
Rather disappointing. We arrived in Seattle and stayed in Holiday Inn Express downtown. It was in a good location to walk around and take in the city. Embarkation was smooth and fast. We boarded the ship by 11:00. Our stateroom was open by 1:00. We had a spacious balcony cabin. Out on the balcony there were comfortable chairs and a nice small standard height table. We are loyal to Royal, but this trip was rather disappointing. We have cruised on Explorer of the Seas many times before out of Bayonne and liked the ship. We knew that cruising in the summer would be crowded and full of kids, however it is the best time to cruise in Alaska. We will definitely not cruise during summer break again. The main dining room service was not what we have come to expect from Royal. We are not demanding people at all and I actually felt bad for the servers in the dining room. It was disorganized and there was a definite language barrier between our table and the main server. With that said though the diamond breakfast and lunch in the dining room was excellent. And the servers were efficient and pleasant. We only went into the windjammer a handful of times. The reason being it was overrun by children running around and reaching for food without using utensils provided. The Captain did not provide much information about where we were going, the weather, landmarks and if there was anything to see like whales. The Cruise Director did not seem very visible. But really we don’t go to many shows anymore. We only went to see the magician and he was OK. Otherwise the ship was clean and everything was adequate. Alaska is not to be missed. I hope to go again some day. Hopefully Ovation will be a better experience. Sent from my iPad Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
My Alaskan Cruise with RC has been terrible. Food is awful. No flavor. Room smells terrible. I have to keep my bathroom door shut to keep from throwing up. Nickeled and dimed left and right. Pay, pay, pay. I thought I already paid to come ... Read More
My Alaskan Cruise with RC has been terrible. Food is awful. No flavor. Room smells terrible. I have to keep my bathroom door shut to keep from throwing up. Nickeled and dimed left and right. Pay, pay, pay. I thought I already paid to come on a cruise? Really, run away from RC. Their Surf and Stream Internet is not even capable of a Google Search, how could it possibly stream a video? I will never choose Royal Caribbean again. I’ve never been so disappointed with a business in this way. They talk up a service, get you to pay, and then simply don’t provide the service. Go somewhere classier. Go to a business with more integrity. I don’t mind paying for a service that is actually provided, but to bait and switch over and over is unacceptable. RC should be ashamed of themselves. If you say you can provide a service then follow through. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Explorer of the Seas is a large, beautiful ship that has lots of amenities. The staterooms are a decent size (we had a basic balcony room that sleeps three including the pulldown upper bunk) and the beds are comfortable. Cabin steward ... Read More
Explorer of the Seas is a large, beautiful ship that has lots of amenities. The staterooms are a decent size (we had a basic balcony room that sleeps three including the pulldown upper bunk) and the beds are comfortable. Cabin steward was very pleasant and accommodating. The dining room food is good and the servers are very attentive. Photos are taken by RCI staff frequently, although after a week on the ship I still don’t know where the photo center is located. For me, there are just too many people on this ship (about 3800 passengers). The ship’s public areas didn’t seemed designed for such a large mass of humanity. The Windjammer cafeteria was always crowded and there were often long waits for food, and then for table space. I know there are those who like the large ships, but for me, I will take a “small” ship (since when do 2200 passengers constitute a small ship?) in the future. Another issue I have with Royal Caribbean (and possibly every cruise line) is that the ship is more a profit center rather than an all inclusive vacation experience. Everywhere you go you were invited to upgrade to an expensive meal (Johnny Rockets is an upgrade?), or to purchase soft drinks or to pay $2.50 or more for each arcade game. On top of that, about $100 per person was added to each stateroom for gratuities whether you like it or not. Another example -- regular water bottles were sold at the gym, in a vending machine, for $3.95!! Seriously? Finally, and perhaps most annoyingly, I chose Explorer of the Seas because RCI boasts great internet service (and it’s not cheap). After buying internet service, it rarely if ever worked. NEVER purchase wifi from Royal Caribbean, it is a total ripoff. When it worked, it was unbelievably slow and inefficient and usually crashed after a moment or two. The fact that RCI advertises the best Internet service on the high seas and then failed to provide service, made me question RCI’s credibility. I requested a refund because of the practically nonexistent Internet service, but was refused. To summarize, if you want the experience of a very large cruise ship with lots of things to do, and you don’t mind waiting in line for almost everything, and being disconnected from the world, from work, from friends, and from news because of the lack of Internet service, then Explorer of the Seas is the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Chosen for the conference on board. Pros Staff helpfulness Cleanliness Ease of shore excursions Cons I had read where although the Tracy Arm Fiord is the advertised route the ship almost never makes it in and sure ... Read More
Chosen for the conference on board. Pros Staff helpfulness Cleanliness Ease of shore excursions Cons I had read where although the Tracy Arm Fiord is the advertised route the ship almost never makes it in and sure enough we did not either. Many staff SAID that’s where we were but only AFTER we were sailing away was one SHORT announcement made we had actually been in the Endicoty Arm at Dawe’s glacier The glacier day in the Endicoty Arm was unimpressive in and out, and took one entire sailing day without being able to get off the ship. Shore excursions were overpriced and under delivered!!! Do NOT do gold panning!!!! Drives to excursions were long and monotonous. Butchart Gardens were beautiful but in a 4 hour excursion with tea we only had 1.5 hours to tour the gardens!!!! The guide was confused about the location of the tea and some missed it altogether He was too busy telling unfunny jokes to give us any real information. I heard the Celebrity Cruise following the same route was amazing Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We cruised with our own 3 children plus 2 children of friends. We chose a round trip Seattle cruise because we are from the area and we wanted to see Alaska. Getting on was smooth and easy - lines moved very quickly. We had a stop in ... Read More
We cruised with our own 3 children plus 2 children of friends. We chose a round trip Seattle cruise because we are from the area and we wanted to see Alaska. Getting on was smooth and easy - lines moved very quickly. We had a stop in Canada so there was thorough scrutiny of passports and consent forms. One of the friends children under 16 was traveling with government issued photo ID instead passport and a birth certificate was requested. The friends parents quickly texted us a copy of the birth certificate and Royal Caribbean staff printed it out and had us onboard in no time. Cabins were comfortable and efficient. There were 4 boys 12-15 in the interior cabin and my wife and I with 9 year old in the balcony cabin across the hall. Room attendants Hendry A. and Terrence C. were incredible. They were friendly and kind (and patient with the room full of boys which may have approached a biohazard at times). Once we accidentally threw away an important receipt and I asked to go through the trash but Hendry quickly found and retrieved it himself from the trash! Talk about going the extra mile!!! There was a fair balance of ages on the cruise. It seemed the majority was 30s - 50s with families which included a larger number of kids/teens but also a fair number of grandparent aged folks. Due to the destination (Alaska) we also noticed a number of non-family groups (e.g., high school reunions) of middle-agers from out of town. The ship had plenty of variety in places to eat, drink and entertainment to accommodate this wide range of guests. My 9 year old daughter and I enjoyed, or was drug (I’ll let you guess who drug who), allbthe major attractions and a great deal of the entertainment and activities options. Flowrider (wave/surf simulator) was fun, and they had options for stand up surfing or bogeyboarding for less adventurous. Most days it was a bit nippy which kept the lines short and did not at all detract from the actual ride - just made the time outside the ride less pleasant. Rock climbing was fun and the equipment in great shape and felt extremely safe even for a novice (first timers) for both my daughter and me. The walls had several different options with varying difficulty levels. I am 40 and reasonably fit and I could ring the bell at the top of one route but not at another. Ice skating (as an activity) was probably the only disappointment on the cruise. The staff and venue for ice skating were great. I was very impressed with the thorough, polite and firm enforcement of the waiver policies by the staff (I had to walk back to the cabin for the written consent forms for the friends kids - but the staff was courteous and it gave me confidence that safety was a priority) and their management of the lines was efficient. BUT the let down was the skates themselves were awful. Quite old and worn and difficult to lace up tight enough. And it wasn’t just one rogue skate it was all of them.As dad I helped all five of the kids with me lace up and all of the skates (including mine and my wife’s) left a lot to be desired. We all did get on the ice and enjoy a little skating time but would give this activity a 3 out of 5 because of the skates (and because it would seem like an issue Royal Caribbean could easily fix with a relatively small investment). Entertainment was great. I know this is a more subjective assessment but I enjoyed each show I went to. The skating show was really well done - costumes were AMAZING! They had four shows and each cabin was assigned one of the four for priority seating and you could attend a different show if that time didn’t work for you but you might sit further back or if you had a large group you might have to split up. The ice skating venue is small enough though that all seats have fine views. There were two comedians - both were good although I liked one better than the other. Both comedians had a family friendly and adults only show and the kids enjoyed the family friendly one. The magic show was really outstanding - I don’t think I would ever go to a magic show just for fun at home, but this was an extremely entertaining 45 minute show (I think he did a different one later but I couldn’t make it). One thing I though Royal Caribbean did well was explaining the schedule and activity/entertainment options. My daughter thought Topi (cruise director) and Icy (activities manager) were the best people in the world and she looked forward to their introductions before and after each show and their daily morning show on TV. As an adult I thought it was overkill at first but,by the end of the trip their enthusiasm had become contagious and by gosh I found myself looking forward to what Topi or Icy had to say. The entire activities staff was really great. My daughter and I played lots of games with them and they were always energetic and authentic. The family karaoke was a blast and there was always a robust and supportive audience for all ranges of talent and experience levels. Dining was wonderful. We did Windjammer for breakfast every day and it was typical buffet fare, but there were some gems to be found. I always enjoyed the smoked salmon on toasted bagels for breakfast. On a port day I went up after the crowd had thinned down and got a great omelet without waiting in line. I only ate lunch one day and that was main dining room which was quick and satisfying. The salad bar with some other main dish options (e.g., BBQ pork ribs) in the main dining room for lunch actually was a nice option and not chaotic. We had “my time dining” for dinner in main dining room and Enjoyed it. We missed having the same waiter derby night but really did enjoy the flexibility of setting our dining time. With that being said, reservations for your “my time” should be made the night before or you will probably wait 15-30 minutes for a table if you have a party of more than 4. But the food was good and there was an opportunity for fillet mignon one night and lobster tail another. Presentation was average - all were pleasant but some waiters seemed tired and unenthused. One gentleman captured my daughters heart when he came by with a pet mouse made out of a folded and tightly twisted napkin. He did a few tricks with it and then left it for her to play with. Overall the main dining room was outstanding food and a generally pleasant experience. Dining in the specialty restaurants was truly suberb. My wife and I did these kid free. We went to Izumis twice (3 tines if you count the sushi making class I did on my own). We did Chops Grille once. Each one was amazing. It was quiet and peaceful every time andin each venue - and on a cruise it’s hard to get a quiet mealtime experience! The food was fabulous. I love sushi and I am a bit critical of it - the quality of this sushi gets 4 out of 5 stars. My wife was a bit reluctant to do Izumis again (our first trip was for Asian breakfast so we could have warm and pleasant birds eye view the Captain’s amazing up close 360* revolutions of Dawes glacier). But for diner she was quite pleasantly surprised by the flat rock table grill experience and food. Chops was approaching most any high end steakhouse. I would say the steak itself (I had the 9 ounce fillet with red wine reduction) was as good as could as any land-based, high-end steakhouse (e.g., Daniel’s broiler or Metropolitan Grill in Seattle). The sides, salad, appetizer and dessert were good, and definitely a large step above the main dining room, but were not the same as a world class land based steak house (to put this review in context the non-steak menu items were closer to Outback - which for me means good but not world class). For bring on a boat I would say the entire meal and experience were amazing. Upselling was a bit prevalent, but I guess I take a pragmatic view of that. For the most part thise ship was in great shape. Very few noticeable dings or cracks and no major maintenance issues. The only things that stood out to me were the aforementioned older and worn ice skates and one of the hot tubs looked like some paint was wearing off substantially. But otherwise to keep the ship looking so good and safe costs a lot - so I expect to pay for it. I did not get an alcoholic drink package and just limited drinking to one or two here or there. They had some opportunities for reduced price drinks. Twice mimosas were $2 in casino and they had Bloody Mary specials at least once. There were two reduced price Martino a as well. Some folks we know used and enjoyed the alcoholic drink package and liked it - but for caloric intake reasons I appreciated having an extra thought about cost before imbibing. All in all this was a two thumbs up cruise. For our price point, age group and accompanying family member ages, we would definitely go again and definitely consider Royal Caribbean among our options. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was a family cruise--my mom took myself and my husband along with my brother, his wife, and my niece(13) and nephew(18). We all had been on one other cruise before. The draw for us was Alaska. Overall we had an outstanding ... Read More
This was a family cruise--my mom took myself and my husband along with my brother, his wife, and my niece(13) and nephew(18). We all had been on one other cruise before. The draw for us was Alaska. Overall we had an outstanding experience. Alaska is AMAZING, and getting there on a cruise is just perfect. My mom is 70 with two bionic knees--she can only do so much schlepping before she tires out. This trip enabled her to see beautiful places while staying comfortable. (And yes, you can do super-active things too, but I appreciated that my mom had such an effortlessly good time.) Dining-- Chops was great (the meat in particular--the sides were just ok). Desserts were solid too. The sushi restaurant was fantastic. Top-notch meal, fun decor. Giovanni's Table. Great service, food was ok. We live in the NYC area so we have access to some great Italian food. We're spoiled. But the cannoli were a standout. And the antipasta was lovely. Also, good steak. The main dining room food was nice, but the service was sooooo slow we only ate there once. It was like a 2.5 hour meal and lots of confusion. Not a great experience. The Windjammer was fantastic for breakfast. A nice mix of foods, fresh and decadent. Good cut fruit, great fresh donuts. Lines for omlettes could be a little long. Lunch was ok. I didn't love it for dinner. Too many misses, not enough hits. As for the bars. . . well, drinking is expensive. And the package was just too much for us (we figured out the cost and it was just more than we needed). Paying $12 for a drink? Fine. But I'd like the drink to be good. It was, instead, really hit or miss at every bar we visited. Standout drinks were the beer cocktails at the British pub style bar ( the beer's knees--YUM)--those bartenders were the best of the bunch. Activities-- We did two wine tastings and had a lot of fun (so much depends on your tablemates). Herman was lovely, and we learned a lot (the blind tasting was the most fun and interesting, if you're trying to choose between one or the other). I loved the piano player/ singer at Schooner's in the evening. He was fun. Again, a lot depended on the crowd. Casino was low key and fun. Great place to try something new, the pressure is low. I skipped the ice show, but the rest of the family loved it. We did the mystery dinner. It's incredibly cheesy and unpolished, but it was FUN. Just keep the expectations low and have fun. It's a great deal because the meal from Chops was outstanding and they served lots of wine. (Note -- the woman who played the wife was hysterical. The guys were all a little. . . broad. Let's say that.) Excursions-- In Juneau, we did a whale watching excursion. It was pure magic. We saw so many whales--including a pod of 4 or 5 whales. So beautiful. Great, fun guides, and an overall gorgeous day. We even had snacks! They had donut holes and then canned salmon on crackers and kelp salsa and chips. All added to the fun. My absolute favorite excursion was the Musher's Camp in Skagway. Not only did we get to ride (on dirt) on a sled pulled by 16 dogs, we met puppies! My niece (who at 13 really doesn't like most things) LOVED this. Especially the puppies. This was a wonderful, peaceful fun activity that I highly recommend. Well worth the money. In Skagway, my mom really wanted to do the trolley tour. I was a little meh on that, but it ended up being quite wonderful. It's a city with lovely history, and I loved also hearing about the current state of things in Skagway. Our guide was fantastic, fun, and so enthusiastic you couldn't help but have a good time. And while it's not an excursion, we had a kick-ass dinner at the Skagway Fish Company. Oooooooh those crab legs, and beer, and the view. And the awesome staff. Go there. In Victoria, we did a bus tour that stopped at Tim Hortons (which CRACKS ME UP--also, let's be honest, Tim Bits are better than munchkins. I'm sorry, it's true.) The travel guide, Jon, was terrific, especially since I tumbled down a rock at a scenic viewpoint and landed on my face. I was fine (sore and bleeding, but I deserved it for wearing dumb shoes) but it was quite the scene. He kept calm and was professional--and I'm pretty sure I almost scared him to death. He made sure to report my fall, and the ship's doctor checked on my later that night. (Note to self--stop wearing clogs). A Few Downsides: The arcade was terrible. Broken machines, buggy machines, racing games that didn't race together. We love arcades and it was a bummer that this was in such terrible shape. Also, very hard to find a staffer in the area. The soft serve is sort of sad. It's like ice milk. I think they should consider an upgrade. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Traveled with children, 8 and 12 years old. Have cruised with Royal Caribbean before, but not with little ones. Heard great things about their programs, and Adventure Ocean kept our 8-year-old nicely entertained. He opted to skip dinner ... Read More
Traveled with children, 8 and 12 years old. Have cruised with Royal Caribbean before, but not with little ones. Heard great things about their programs, and Adventure Ocean kept our 8-year-old nicely entertained. He opted to skip dinner when his favorite games were scheduled :) The set up of the space looked simple, but kids always appeared engaged in activities. The 12-year old was too old for the Adventure Ocean groups (3-5, 6-8, and 9-11). She struggled a bit, being too intimidated by older teens (up to 17) to participate in planned activities, although she did like the Optix space. I feel like the cruise was a great value. We opted for an inside cabin and were really happy with the choice. It was quiet and dark, and the price was right! We fit all four of us in there. It was a great adventure. We found plenty of storage space in all the right places. Suitcases fit under the bed, hooks for coats were behind the door. Dining was a highlight for me. Loved dinners in the main dining room. We had the late seating, but might recommend the earlier seating or flexible dining times (My Time?) if you are traveling with children. We didn't do any specialty dining, and don't drink enough to make the beverage packages worthwhile, but ordered a few drinks and found bar staff to be quick and pleasant, with bars available everywhere and staff roaming to take drink orders. Available wines were hit or miss, but I'm sure you could find one you like. We brought our allotted two bottles and enjoyed them over the week with dinner. Our waiters set unfinished bottles aside and brought them back for the next dinner. We were able to drink great wines for a small corkage fee. It was very cold during the Alaskan cruise, although we heard the week before was very warm. We still enjoyed several long soaks in the hot tub, watching soccer games and outdoor movies. Blankets were also available poolside. As others have said, the ice show was surprisingly good for such a small space. Shows were entertaining, if perhaps a bit cheesy (as expected). The entertainers were talented, one comic much better than the other, and the cruise director was very engaging. Whale watching in Juneau was great. We went with Alaska Tales and were very happy. Purchasing through the cruise ship is probably the most expensive option, but has its perks (cruise staff help you locate the tour, and if the worst happens and you return late, you don't have to worry). We booked through Alaska Shore Excursions, online in advance, and a trip to Mendenhal Glacier was paired with the whale watching. Lots of hiking options and wildlife. Eagles galore and a bear sighting. The cheapest option may be to buy an excursion on the pier, but this looked a bit overwhelming, with several competing salespeople in little booths. Others expressed displeasure at being mislead about what they were buying. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
To preface my review so you will understand my experience: I took the cruise with my younger sister and my parents. I am 14 years old, and I've only been on one cruise before this one - on the Carnival Miracle, which went to Mexico. ... Read More
To preface my review so you will understand my experience: I took the cruise with my younger sister and my parents. I am 14 years old, and I've only been on one cruise before this one - on the Carnival Miracle, which went to Mexico. Thanks for reading my review and I hope you take my thoughts into account when choosing your next cruise! :) The embarkation process went quite well and it was not long before we were able to explore the ship - however, the staterooms did not open until 1pm (we boarded at 11am). The ship itself is quite nice. It has various venues for trivia/entertainment/activities, etc, and they are all used to the fullest extent they can be. Dining was not fantastic. The service in the Sapphire Dining Room was very slow and the food was essentially the same as that which was served in the Windjammer Cafe - not bad, but also not stunning. My dad requested and consequently received a wine menu, but nobody ever came back to ask what he wanted from the menu. The second time we went there, we asked to sit somewhere else and the service did not improve. The third time, we asked to be seated elsewhere again and instead were seated in the same place as the first night. We then left and went to the buffet. We did not visit the steakhouse so unfortunately I do not know if it was good or not. The Promenade Cafe is a good place to grab a quick bite or a coffee, but the pizza isn't very good. I definitely recommend purchasing the drinks package beforehand - being able to get soda as often as you want is great and the cups they give you for the soda make a nice souvenir. My parents really enjoyed being able to get lots of different cocktails and other drinks as well. As for the ports: Juneau - We went on a Historic Gold Panning Adventure. It was pretty fun to find gold flakes, and our guide, "Tundra Tom", seemed to be having just as much fun as we were. There are a few interesting stores to visit in town, but it's a rather long walk through a rather industrial area back to the dock. Skagway - My mom and my sister and I took the Street Car Tour, which was very informative and engaging. My dad went on a Dogsled Flightseeing Tour, which was apparently great. We ate lunch in town and then took a shuttle back - the shuttle is only $2 a person and it was a bit of a ways to the ship (as far as it can be in Skagway, at least), so that was worth it. Victoria - Definitely very different than the other two ports. I didn't enjoy it much and I really would rather have just spent the last day on the ship with unlimited soft serve. Red Fish Blue Fish is a great seafood place so definitely check it out. There can be a long line but the food is good, especially the deepfried pickles. In terms of activities on the ship: there was a wide variety of trivia, games, and bingo which were all hosted by the excellent Cruise Director Staff (Not to be confused with the Cruise Director himself, Topi, who didn't seem to do much that had to do with the passengers other than introduce shows and do the announcements). The music trivia was a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it. Overall, I really enjoyed the cruise. Given the chance, I would take the same cruise again. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I must start first by saying Alaska is possibly the most beautiful place I've seen..at least so far! Tracy Arm Fjord was truly breath taking! We chose RCL on recommendations from friends who cruise often and when I saw what was ... Read More
I must start first by saying Alaska is possibly the most beautiful place I've seen..at least so far! Tracy Arm Fjord was truly breath taking! We chose RCL on recommendations from friends who cruise often and when I saw what was available on this ship, it seemed perfect. We were cruising with our 2 adult children, 23 & 35 and they like a little adventure so I thought the rock climbing wall, ice skating and all the other amenities would be great...and they were! Embarkation was fast, smooth and friendly. We were on the ship early, about 11:30 and had some lunch in the Windjammer. We were able to get into our rooms pretty early so I had a chance to unpack and settle in. To tell the truth, I forgot about the Sail Away Party or we would have been up there! My husband and I had a 'Spacious Ocean View Stateroom" and it was great! We had plenty of closet and drawer space (and I don't pack light!), there was also room to empty all our sundries and my make up in a little side cabinet in the bathroom, made for lots of counter space! It was kept spotless by our cabin steward, who was good. I didn't necessarily feel 'spoiled' but we were well taken care of. Our kids shared a Promenade Interior Room, which was not big but they did fine. I was afraid of too much noise in that location but they said it was no problem. Both staterooms were located on deck 7. Each day we started with breakfast buffet, in the Windjammer Cafe. The "Washie Washie" lady soon became a legend on the ship! :) Most time the food was good but as the days wore on, I felt the quality was going down a bit. A few of the mornings, the scrambled eggs were swimming in liquid, making them completely inedible for us. We also would do lunch there when on the ship. My daughter is a vegetarian and was able to eat well there. Dinners were always in the Sapphire lounge, we chose "My Time Dining" and made 7:00 reservations for the whole week. The food there was wonderful and I appreciated the fact that the portions weren't huge so we weren't leaving food behind. A few times my husband and son asked for more of something and were cheerfully accommodated. The vegetarian options there were more limited for my daughter and I was disappointed in that. Our table servers were good. Most nights we had the same ones, and Evangeline and Christopher got to know us by name. The first night at sea was the first formal night and it was supposed to be my birthday celebration, as set up by our travel agent with AAA. Nothing was mentioned when we first sat down so my son snuck away and told the Maitre d' it was supposed to be a birthday celebration...but still nothing was ever done. That was disappointing. And of course there was Cafe Promenade that offered food all the time and good coffee! Entertainment was good. We saw 2 good comedians, a dance show, a fantastic magician and the variety show on the last night. Topi Ylonen, Cruise Director is fun and an incredibly talented dancer! Several of the bars had live music at night. We never made it to the night club. I think one of my favorite days was our second at sea day. We did napkin folding, watched a demo of towel folding, my son took a martini class, my daughter worked out and I sat in the indoor hot tub after walking around the upper deck track a few times, my husband followed us around and relaxed. After dinner we played mini golf while watching a beautiful sunset and relaxed in the piano bar. There is nothing like quality time with your family, especially when your children are adults and both live a few hours from us. It was perfect! For the most part, service all over the ship was very good. The only place I wasn't too impressed was a guest services. No real problem, just not the most friendly group! For excursions we took a whale watching cruise in Juneau while our kids did a kayak/hiking trip. Both were very good. The crew on the whale watching were fun and very friendly and seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing. I must have seen well over a dozen whales! The city of Juneau was not a place I enjoyed at all. It was full of jewelry stores trying to draw you in and had some rather unsavory locals hanging around. our kids took the tram up to the top of the mountain and walked a bit up there, where it was beautiful. In Skagway, my husband and I did the White Pass Railway and Skagway Highlights tour. The driver/guide for our bus was informative and quite fun! On the rail trip back down the mountain, we got to see a bear up close and personal! The kids did a river rafting and nature hike that they absolutely loved! The town of Skagway was, of course touristy, but much nicer. I recommend the Skagway Brewing company. Food was excellent and the rest of the family recommends their signature beer, Spruce Tip Ale. I'm not a beer drinker. In Victoria, BC, my husband and I chose to just do the City Tour of Scenic Victoria, which was by bus and that's where the problems began. Our tour guide, though not surly, was not the most friendly of people and seemed to feel the highlights we most wanted to hear about were which buildings were now condos and retirement homes and many complaints about politicians! A separate complaint and review will be done on about this tour. I feel our money was wasted. The kids did a city tour by bike and it was fabulous. Afterward we all got back together and took a water taxi to Fisherman's Wharf, filled with 'floating houses' and little places to eat. We sat there quite a while and watch the sea planes coming and going. After that we took the water taxi again to an area called "Chinatown" which was cute but more like "China Street!" We wound our way, on foot, back to the Parliament building area and it was prom night apparently, there were long lines of dressed up teen waiting to get their pictures taken on the steps. A beautiful, relaxing area in the middle of a great city! We had bus transfers to get back to the ship and the kids took a Pedi-taxi (bike driven) back. What started out badly for us, ended up a good day. We had planned on all going to Butchart Gardens but learned it was a good 45 minutes from the ship. If it's something you want to do, use a shore excursion. All in all, it was a great cruise. What did surprise me though was how someone was always trying to up-sell me at every turn. I sat in on something about helping your alignment and posture for back pain and quickly discovered it was really just and infomercial for expensive arch supports. I had, through AAA, a spa service which quickly turned into them trying to up-sell me to a more expensive massage, for 3 sessions, that would help my arthritis...along with products, totaling close to $200 that would help..except that was for a months supply and I would need 3 months to even see if it helped. This was all not appreciated by far. Even the price of a postage stamp on the ship was 11 cents more than the face value! Really RCL? I expected more class than that! My husband and I have only taken one other cruise and that was Princess, to the Caribbean, so maybe I was naive about these things. It was the first for our kids. We don't cruise often so I don't think I'd necessarily do Alaska again but I would use Royal Caribbean again, as my pleasure far out weighed the annoyances. I would love to try Oasis of the Seas! I highly recommend Alaska, especially if you're a photographer and nature lover! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We traveled with our two sons and wife’s brother to celebrate our 35th anniversary. (Unacknowledged on board but always acknowledged for upsale pitches on the phone.) We chose AK because it is beautiful and RCL because our young adult ... Read More
We traveled with our two sons and wife’s brother to celebrate our 35th anniversary. (Unacknowledged on board but always acknowledged for upsale pitches on the phone.) We chose AK because it is beautiful and RCL because our young adult sons were looking for action (Flowrider, etc.) Boarding was relatively easy. Get there early is our advice. We had an inside promenade cabin and impeccable service provided by Gede. We were a little concerned about noise from the promenade, but it wasn’t a problem. We all had a wonderful time together. The only day the ship seemed crowded was on an at-sea day that was cold and very windy, so everyone was inside. The weather for the rest of the time was amazingly wonderful for Alaska in June. Everyone in our party found plenty to do on-board, and we met at mealtime. We mostly ate meals in the main dining room, which has quality service all the time. The dinner menu is posted on a flat screen monitor outside the dining room (if it is working.) We had early seating for dinner, which worked well for us. The main dining room meals were excellent with lots of good choices making decisions hard. My wife would not allow me to ask to have my thermos filled up with the fruit soup of the day. ☹ The modest servings allow you to try more things. The only fail I had was a Manhattan Steak off the Classic menu. I was surprised that the taste and texture was only fast-food restaurant quality. Our dining staff, Angelo and Ray, gave fabulous service. One night we were a half hour late and were still welcomed and treated superbly. They had just the right amount of helpfulness and service without being overbearing or intrusive. The entertainment was good. Live music, singers and dancers, and the string quartet were highlights. The ice show was amazing. Magician and comedians get mixed reviews. The early shows were not as “family friendly” as I would hope. The itinerary is pretty basic Alaska. Tracy Arm Fjord is beautiful, but is no match for Glacier Bay, which is the best for glacier watching. For excursions-- with five people we took a taxi to Mendenhall Glacier. This gave us more time to hike and explore. We used Evergreen Taxi. We were promptly picked up at the dock and on our return dropped off downtown. It is a short port-of-call for Juneau. We wish we would have had time to visit the state museum, which we really enjoyed on a previous visit. We rode the train in Skagway, and even the young adults found it a worthwhile expedition. We walked around town after lunch. In Victoria we took the O Canada bus tour. The tour takes you through town and up to the Mt. Douglas lookout. It is a 360º view of the Victoria area, which is very impressive. The final stop is at a Tim Horton’s for coffee and doughnuts. It was fun, but as with all cruise activities, overpriced. (We had onboard cruise credits to burn, so we did it.) Overall, cruising is always fun, Alaska is always beautiful, and vacations are better than work. We had a wonderful and memorable family celebration. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
My wife booked this cruise a year ago in July while we were driving from Florida to Tennessee to visit family. Our cruise rep at Royal Caribbean worked with her for over an hour on the phone mind you, getting us the best deal possible. ... Read More
My wife booked this cruise a year ago in July while we were driving from Florida to Tennessee to visit family. Our cruise rep at Royal Caribbean worked with her for over an hour on the phone mind you, getting us the best deal possible. We knew we wanted an outside cabin with a balcony and we were able to book that at a decent price. I will cover shore excursions later. Once booked we anticipated the departure for the rest of the year and began to make travel plans. We did not let RC do our travel and hotels, I did the departure hotel, Holiday Inn Express at the airport and wife did the return stay (3 nights) at Cedar Brook Lodge. We took the shuttle from our hotel to the port. We arrived and checked in on the ship around 11 a.m. on Friday. It was my wife's birthday, June 15 and I had RC decorate our cabin accordingly. We were able to get in our cabin at 1 pm and it was very nice and much more than I had anticipated, even having cruised with RC before. One mistake we made, was we put both our hand carry bags on pier side to be picked up. My wife's meds were inside and as luck would have it, that was the last bag we received! Note to self: don't do that again! We checked the ship over, ate lunch at the Windjammer and it was the usual OMG it's a ship board buffet! Food on this trip was exceptional. Only one evening was the food in the main dinning room not "over the top". My wife ordered fish and it was deep fried and not the best she's ever eaten. Otherwise, every meal was amazing for us. Prime rib, lobster, lasagna, etc etc. We loved it. We met a lovely Scottish couple first night in the dining room and my wife and Linda bonded instantly. Her husband John and I sat back and let the ladies talk.. which they DID! Departure from Seattle was in the evening and we had a starboard cabin and just an awesome view of the Skyline of Seattle. We didn't do much the first night out, just walked around, did some shopping in the ship's store and scouted the entertainment venues. Second day was a full cruise day to Junea, arriving early on Sunday morning. It was foggy and we got to see very little on that day. We took a whale watching excursion from Juneau and our captain and his crew were great. First stop was a "salmon bake" at Orca Point Lodge. The silver salmon was just delicious. Grilled and served with "fixings" that included a brownie for dessert. After a full meal, we went out on the fjord to do whale watching. We were NOT disappointed. Saw three (possibly a fourth?). Got some great photos of breachings. Also saw a group of sea lions sunning on a buoy. We departed Juneau at 6 pm that evening into a fog bank that had earlier "eaten" a competitors ship. Upon arrival at Skagway Monday morning, the weather was, in a word, perfect. Sunny skies, high 50s and warming every hour. We walked around Skagway, had lunch and then took our 1 pm White Pass Rail trip excursion (booked through RC) to the summit of White Pass. The train ride was just amazing. Breathtaking scenery, had many many great photo ops from the train platform as it rose up 22 miles to the summit. We didn't see much wildlife, only one black bear and two mountain goats. We had a late lunch at a local Skagway restaurant, the Skagway Fish Co. Their menu is available on line. Lots of folks were eating the crab legs (by the pound) and we had the fish (fresh haddock) and chips. Nice meal, a little pricey, but hey, it's Alaska! From there, we made our way back to the ship for a 6 pm departure to Traci Fjord to the Dawes glacier. The cruise down to the glacier on Tuesday morning went smoothly. Again, our weather for that portion of the trip was excellent. The captain said he had been able to get closer on this trip than he had on the previous ones. We sat a couple miles off the glacier and the captain spun the vessel in place for about an hour so that everyone had a great view of the glacier. We caught a few "calving" as it shed ice into the Fjord. We slowly exited back up to the channel we were to use to go back towards Seattle passing ice blocks and scenery that was beyond beautiful. Open sea cruising the next day (Wednesday) arriving at Victoria, BC on Thursday morning around 10 a.m. Again, weather was perfect. Shirt sleeve weather with sunny skies. We took a bus tour of Victoria, the Highlights tour (again booked through RC) enjoyed that excursion as well. Our guide was very knowledgeable and very informative. They treated us to a Tim Horton coffee, "Ten bits" and a gift bag at the end. WE departed Victoria at 5 pm and arrived in Seattle early the Friday morning. We had booked a final excursion with RC for the Seattle tour which included the Chihully Glass and Space Needle. Once completed, we were dropped off at SEA-TAC. We had arranged for the hotel we were staying with to pick us up there and we won't go into that here. Highlights of the cruise were the great weather and the entertainment on board. RC has done a great job of booking entertainment. The ice show was amazing considering the size of the rink on board. The skaters were all great and very energetic. The Explorer orchestra was really talented and did a great job supporting the musical show and the finale on the last night of the cruise. They had a magician, Leo Ward who I wanted to see very much and sat in row 2 for his first show. This man did things that were amazing to me and I understand a lot of the illusions that are done! Timi Rogers, the comedian was the highlight of the entertainment for me. His adult show had me sore from laughing so much. He did a show the last night as well and although my wife missed the first show, this one was just as funny. Our room attendant, Mark was superb. He always greeted us and had our room prepared perfectly. His towel animals were great as well. I told him the first night he left a gorilla in the room that my wife was afraid of monkeys.. he had this shocked look on his face until i told him i was teasing him. He understood and had a laugh with me.. He had hung the gorilla up by a coat hanger with two clips on it.. I returned the favor next morning by hanging the coat hanger up with two US bills on it! Our dinner waiters, Danilo and Inyoman were just as great to us every evening we ate in the main dining room. One thing you must not miss on the Explorer is "Chops". The food there was delicious, well prepared and just as good as any 5 star restaurant. We both had steak and it was delicious. My wife's cheesecake dessert was great and my key lime pie was good as well. I'd give this cruise a 10 on my 1-10 scale. RC did a great job of organizing excursions and I was very impressed by everything on the Explorer. She is a little bit older and smaller than the new "super" ships... I like her! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Overall great service, a good amount of time at the ports and at a fair price. I loved our time in Juneau and Skagway. We booked excursions outside the cruise line and saved a fair amount. Our room was clean but the beds were a lttle ... Read More
Overall great service, a good amount of time at the ports and at a fair price. I loved our time in Juneau and Skagway. We booked excursions outside the cruise line and saved a fair amount. Our room was clean but the beds were a lttle hard. There was a lot of storage space in the room. The entertainment was fairly good with the exception of a production with their singers. They played the same movies over again. Some more variety would be nice. We did not have to wait in line for entertainment with the exception to ice skate, but they did a good job in scheduling a time for us to come back. Food was decent except for the Windjammer, which was not good. I scheduled our "my time" dining reservations before we left, but they did not all upload properly in their system. If you book these ahead of the cruise, double check that they are in their system after you board. The captain did a great job positioning the ship near a glacier in the Tracey Arm Fords. It was beautiful and memorable. Overall a good value. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Took this cruise with family whom had already cruised Alaska on another cruise line. I had been to Alaska on a road trip before and been on other cruises, Caribbean and European. Nobody in our 6 person group wants to sail Royal ... Read More
Took this cruise with family whom had already cruised Alaska on another cruise line. I had been to Alaska on a road trip before and been on other cruises, Caribbean and European. Nobody in our 6 person group wants to sail Royal Caribbean again after this lackluster performance. The itinerary included Skagway (not worth the stop to me), Juneau, and Victoria... with too many sea days, none of which included the inside passage. So itinerary really isn't much. Ship was fine, the 12th deck balcony rooms were spacious enough with lots of storage. On ship activities were not worth attending. Service was poor. Room attendant seemed generally unhappy, bartenders uninterested, service desk people were fine at best, and casino dealers were occasionally downright rude. This was the second poor Royal Caribbean experience and our last. All other cruises have been great. We only changed lines for new itineraries, but we're going to have to find a European line. Happy cruising. Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our 9th Royal Caribbean cruise and we were once again very happy with absolutely everything on the ship and the excursions. We're a young 40's couple traveling without kids and had a wonderful time on board and at the ... Read More
This was our 9th Royal Caribbean cruise and we were once again very happy with absolutely everything on the ship and the excursions. We're a young 40's couple traveling without kids and had a wonderful time on board and at the ports of call. Royal Caribbean always provides great food (never tried the pay extra restaurants) and great service and great quality rooms. We splurged a bit and got a balcony room for this trip because it's Alaska! SO so worth it! The entertainment wasn't as good as on the Oasis class ships, but it was still fun. The only complaints were with the piano bar being super sleepy slow music, and the Pub singer not actually just singing and entertaining. The Pub singer kept making every night a karaoke style event where he'd make someone get up and sing with him. It was really awkward... Other than that though it was a vacation of a lifetime. The pool was heated too! You could swim comfortably even with 47F weather. The hot tubs and outdoor movies were so fun. We didn't think we'd want to do that, but once in the hot tub, it was a beautiful setting to watch a movie on a really nice LCD quality jumbo tron. So Fun! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I wanted my husband and I to take an Alaskan cruise with a visit to Victoria, Canada (we are big Anglophile's) and was considering Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean. R. C. had the only itinerary that visited Victoria ... Read More
I wanted my husband and I to take an Alaskan cruise with a visit to Victoria, Canada (we are big Anglophile's) and was considering Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean. R. C. had the only itinerary that visited Victoria during AM hours! We booked a Spacious Balcony cabin right behind the elevators (which turned out to be a blessing more than a problem). We were on the right (port) side of the ship and enjoyed watching the mountains, waterfalls and coastline from the balcony. We really lucked out with the weather - it was beautiful. The bed felt too firm for us, but we both slept really well. The room steward was excellent-no complaint. The cabin: Last June, I went on a cruise with my daughter from Southampton, UK, to Amsterdam & Brussels aboard Cunard's Queen Victoria cruise ship. To my surprise, Royal Caribbean's cabin was nicer, larger, better laid out, and with a larger and better equipped shower. There were cabinets and drawers aplenty, so that when I stowed away my toiletries, etc., the room was completely uncluttered. There was also a much better mirrored dressing table with good lighting that was not on the Cunard ship. It was very comfortable for us. The food: After reading online complaints, I wasn't expecting much. I prefer quality to quantity, so we only ate at the Windjammer buffet three times (1 breakfast, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner). The dinner buffet was a big disappointment in that other than the usual hamburger, hot dog, and pizza offerings, the only entree available that we could find was "bangers" (sausage) and a Tandoori fish. My husb. tried the bangers and only ate 1/2 of it-and he eats everything. I tried the Tandoori fish and did not care for it at all, so we more salad (which was always good and fresh) and whatever else we could find. Best thing on the buffet in my opinion was the hot dessert with custard sauce (bread & butter pudding, apple & rhubarb cobbler, etc.) offered every night. The dining room menu had good selections and we thought the food overall was pretty good. A few things we had were just OK, but most of it was really good. Better than the food on my Cunard cruise (maybe due to my American tastes). Also surprised that there was a small buffet also offered in the dining room for breakfast and lunch! This was a great plus - you could navigate the buffet and sit in much more comfort in the dining room while also ordering something special from the menu. Also of note: there was also a very good sugar free dessert option every night. The excursions were great - Juneau -Mendenhall Glacier & Rainforest, Skagway-White Pass Railroad (luxury car!) and Victoria - O Canada city tour Entertainment: While on board, enjoyed the ice show with professional ice skaters, an interesting and humorous lecture from a Canadian Mounted Police, a lecture on Alaskan animals, and a comedy show combined with the ship's orchestra and a singer. Would have enjoyed watching a movie in the theater, but they were only shown poolside (too cold at night for me). Some of the entertainment could be viewed on the TV in the cabin - we enjoyed watching the Love & Marriage game with married couples from the guests on the ship. Biggest drawback: The two hour wait (partially in the sun) in a DisneyWorld type back and forth between chained off rows lines. It was brutal. I got sunburned. And then immediately after onboard, there was the emergency drill on outside deck, in single file lines shoulder-to-shoulder - I was 1st in my line in the sun again waiting for all the stragglers who didn't want to participate, etc. which led to the sunburn. On Cunard, this was held in the theater (sitting). Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Explorer of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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