I just returned from the 9 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas, and my family and I (husband, daughters ages 9 and 6) had an amazing time. My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises (Royal, Celebrity, Carnival and ... Read More
I just returned from the 9 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas, and my family and I (husband, daughters ages 9 and 6) had an amazing time. My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises (Royal, Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian) and the kids are veterans as well, once or twice a year since they were babies. I especially felt the need to write this after reading negative reviews already (we just got back 2 days ago), and wondering how these people could be on the same cruise!
Was it perfect? Of course not, but we are the type of cruisers that don't let little things "ruin our entire cruise!" A few things that we weren't crazy about:
1. The Windjammer was way too crowded at certain times, like the hour before arriving in port, which happened to us a couple of times. Also, although there was a wide variety of food, it never changed. On other cruises there might be a section that changed each day with a taco bar, pasta bar, etc. but nothing like that here. We were saying that it seems that Royal already realized that it wasn't big enough and fixed it on the Freedom class ships, but that didn't help us of course! We did eat in the dining room for breakfast a couple of times, and Johnny Rockets for lunch once, and they were really good.
2. The itinerary was great, and we enjoyed every port, but there was hardly enough time to do anything in St. Martin and San Juan, unless you did a shore excursion. We had a wonderful time in both ports though, shopping in both, although we were in San Juan so early that the only stores that were open were the ones on the shopping map.
And that's about it.
The rest of the cruise was amazing! I think the ship was in amazing shape, the carpets need to be replaced, they just have that permanent dirt from all of those years of use, and I guess we were lucky that our TV was a flatscreen, it was only used for the kids to watch when we were all getting ready for dinner. We had an ocean view on deck 2, with beds off the wall for the kids. Our cabin steward Anak was the best we have had as far as we can remember. He was always asking if we needed anything, and if we did, it was taken care of right away. He kept the room neat(quite a task with the four of us in there!), it was done basically as soon as we left the room. I cannot say enough good things about him!
We did have a little problem at first with dinner, but it ended up working out beautifully. We had confirmed early seating up until the day we cruised. Then we get our seapass cards and it says My Time Dining. When my husband asked about it, they told him that we got bumped, they just booked too many early seating passengers. So then he said that he wanted to make a reservation for 6 that night, he was told that they couldn't do that for that night, all they had was 7:45. He made a reservation for 6 the next night, and we just decided to deal with the 7:45. There was no Adventure Ocean the first night anyway, and we wouldn't have to rush out of the sailaway party, where the kids were in the pool. It was fine, and worked out. The next day we got a card saying that they were able to put us in early seating. My husband went to ask about it and was told that we were at a table for 10. This got us really nervous, because although my kids know what they are doing on cruises and are well behaved at dinner, we all know that there are people that hate kids on cruises. It turns out that we were with a family with teenagers and a 5 year old, and they ended up being some of the best tablemates we've ever had. And we had a great spot right in the middle of the bottom deck, right next to the captains table.
On the ship we were walking advertisements for Royal Caribbean and all of the activities they are known for- we played mini golf twice, ice skated twice, my kids made great use of the Adventure Beach water slide, and my older daughter did the rock wall. Both kids loved Adventure Ocean too. My husband and I got a couples massage, and while we loved it of course, we did this on Carnival last year, and both agreed that it was better there. I also did not like the pressure we got to buy products- they do at every spa, but other times, they have made their recommendations, then left and said to bring what I wanted to the receptionist. This time she stared at us and asked if we were buying. I told her I wanted to check the seapass bill first and we'd be back.
My husband and I spent most of our kid-free nights at the casino, but we did see the ice show and one of the production shows. I loved the music all around the ship. My husband got the premium drink package, and since we are diamond members, I got my three free drinks each night. I had one issue on the last night, where I was at a table at the casino, and when I ordered my drink it was 8:25, and I even made a joke about just making it, but when the server came back I was charged, it seems that by the time she took the rest of the orders and got to the bar, it was after 8:30. I'm sure I could have gone to the bar and made a stink, but it was the last night and time was running out before I had to get the kids, so I let it go. It was just a beer anyway.
So as I said it was an amazing cruise, and now my kids are insisting on Royal for the next one, specifically one with an ice rink. That is fine with us, because it was such a wonderful family vacation.