533 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

I have cruise on 10 RCCL ships and Easter 1984, cabin 499, The SS Rotterdam V, (an absolute classic wonderful ship). I think December is a great month to cruise. I love the Christmas decorations and Explorer doesn't disappoint. I ... Read More
I have cruise on 10 RCCL ships and Easter 1984, cabin 499, The SS Rotterdam V, (an absolute classic wonderful ship). I think December is a great month to cruise. I love the Christmas decorations and Explorer doesn't disappoint. I really enjoyed my Diamond status as getting on was 123. This is the first cruise where we didn't have to wear our life jackets at pumpkin patch. It was also the coldest I ever was in a Pumpkin Patch aka muster drill. The ship left out of Bayonne NJ, Port Liberty. I have to say this was my first time traveling with out my good friends Bob and his wife Pat. I still managed to meet many great people. Several repeat cruisers. The Explorer is a Big Lady in the Voyager Class. I have been on her sisters Adventure and Navigator. My favorite is Navigator. At any rate the food is above board at RCCL. However there are issues like the stale Hamburger Rolls that seem to be a fixture on every RCCL ship I have been on. Have you noticed? I always point this out to be helpful to RCCL. The ship is laid out well for easy access. I try to get a cabin close to a stairwell if at all possible. This helps me navigate easier and faster around the ship. Deck 8 is a great deck to get around the ship from. My favorite place on a cruise ship is the Crown Lounge. A superb view and usually well air-conditioned and they give terrific bar service there. Note be sure to check bar service hours. People did complain that they closed up shop pretty early. Not so on other ships. We did have a seemingly older crowd this trip. I enjoyed hearing many different life experiences one of my favorite things about cruising. The lines were pretty fast despite the crowd on Explorer. Now about the winter cruise. I find you sort of lose the first full and last full sea days that time of year from NJ. This is if your a pool person. By day 2 it warms pretty well. I can tell you that Explorer was well kept in the public areas a bit worn in the windjammer ceiling though. As I said it was darn cold and because of this paint pretty much all over chipped or peeled off. This was especially noticed in the cabin. By day 3 they had it under control. This did not ruin anyone's cruise and it is out of their control I suppose. In my stateroom I had a good mattress. I'm pretty sure it was the best that I ever had on board. I slept. Not so much on the last night as we were moving around a bit due to an ordinary Nor'Easter. Sadly in my cabin I had some issues which I reported to RCCL and to date I have not been satisfied,credited. In all fairness to them you would have to see my photos. However that said my furnishings were not to good. This was unusual and a bit sad as I have been loyal and expected much more. Now just because this happened to me does not mean that all cabins were bad. I 'm sure there will always be horror stories on any ship or hotel room or relatives house. My issue is the hopefully low level person who has a complete foolish lack of concern for me. I could not review Explorer without being truthful about the issue. Overall the ship is a RCCl ship and it is well worth sailing on her. I will advise you to triple the luggage id on your bags and somehow make it identifiable. After my one bag was a no show I spent my first day looking for it and I finally found it on deck 2 by late pm or early am amongst many dozens of bags even though my name was written in marker all over the red canvas bag. I suggest yarn as well yellow, red or blue. Oh importantly they have a Johnny Rockets on board! This is A-1 in burgers and to be honest the sea view cafes on other RCCL's do not come even close in quality of food as Rockets does. Just a word on viruses on board. I have never fallen ill. Though this happens obviously but that said,the bad behavior of the passengers from all I have seen is to blame for the severity. The crew gets sick and they are kept out of circulation. However people walk on sick and go everywhere with complete disregard. On Freedom I recall a man who was quarantined to his cabin. Well this lesser person went to dinner every night and all at his table fell ill I was told. This is a story I have heard many times in similar fashion. I wish you all the best cruises, sunny days, great interesting ports and smooth seas with moonlit starry nights. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Having never cruised before,we were naturally excited at our prospect of our luxury christmas and new year cruise. After having to wait over an hour and a half for a taxi that had been pre-booked finally reached Cape LIBERTY and endured ... Read More
Having never cruised before,we were naturally excited at our prospect of our luxury christmas and new year cruise. After having to wait over an hour and a half for a taxi that had been pre-booked finally reached Cape LIBERTY and endured another 40minute delay in the taxi before reaching the departure area. Well ...nothing had prepared us for choas that unfolded in the next 2 hours. Our expensive bags were unceremoniously TOSSED into the snow and then dumped onto wet cages and left by the taxi drop-off area. Why bother with security??!! Our friends who had booked the very expensive Owner's Suite were treated the same way and as I had encouraged them to come on the trip with us - i felt truly sorry for them,and totally humiliated by our treatement. We then saw the snaking queue in the open shed that then took us 2 hours to clear.During this time we were almost frozen as this area is not enclosed,we saw our bags left as they were for at least an hour - thank goodness at least we did get them on board. During the 2 hour queue we were constantly shouted at to'move along' 'move along'...did not feel very welcome or happy about booking this break. Finally after 2 hours, cleared the security and then Royal Caribbean had the cheek to ask us to pose for a 'happy snap'(later on sale for $19.95)in front of a large picture of the Explorer!! talk about rubbing salt into the wounds. Christmas Day...not much atmosphere.....formal night but no christmas cheer New year's Eve.....plenty of balloons and hats, but just a projected clock, CD music, a countdown every 10 minutes and the briefest of entriesby captain and Crew. Crowded, chaotic and totally forgetabl....very disappointing. Thought as we were in the caribean it would have been quite easy to drop anchor and have a spectacular party and fireworks. On board food was acceptable but not great -although, as we had Suite travellers with us we did get great service on the My Time Dining option. Nothing was given away on board including toiletries and the drinks were not cheap either. Great Room attendant Nicole- made our snug cabin very clean and comfortable. My 13 year had a great time as she made loads of friends and she is ready to go cruising again. Annoying 50% sales on board selling rubbish - photos galore at exhorbitant prices - why dont RC offer a package to buy prints which photographers take of youat every port? In summary - will never go to Newark and Cape Liberty as long as I live and will certainly advise everyone I know of my terrible experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
It was pleasant to find our cabin clean and ready for us to move in. I was allowed, by the staff to decorate the outside and interior of our cabin with holiday decorations, which were far and few between. We had a large group for our ... Read More
It was pleasant to find our cabin clean and ready for us to move in. I was allowed, by the staff to decorate the outside and interior of our cabin with holiday decorations, which were far and few between. We had a large group for our M&M and RCCL put us all in the dark and cramped Chamber. I remember from past RCCL M&M's we were greeted by the CD and staff, there were many raffles and terrific prizes in the past. I have to say there was no one from the entertainment staff and I feel RCCL was very cheap this trip and bar drinks were not included as in the past, as well as the fancier snacks from previous M&M's. Our first excursion in San Juan was cancelled due to mechanical failures and I am glad they were looking out for us but offered nothing but a refund in return. Very little in shore excursions here. When we went to Portofino's to check on our already paid and confirmed wine and dine dinner, we were told there was not going to be one on this cruise due to too many formal nights. Then we were told that it was on but not that night. Then we were told that the dinner had actually been cancelled because of lack of participation. They needed 25 persons for the dinner. OK so we got yet another refund. As for " My time dining ", if we wanted to have any guests with us they had better be from the " My time dining " as well, or they were not allowed. What a way to treat people who have made friends and have been loyal to RCCL. Since the ship was going into dry dock after this cruise, our wine selections were limited as they were emptying out. I'm sorry but I paid the same price as anyone on the cruise before us and the one before them. I think I should be allowed the same choices. The shows were great and done very professionally. I agree with the last reviewer that security needs to be increased especially with the teens. Their curfew was for 1AM !!! Need I say more, as they were running up and down the hallways late evenings, loudly talking on their two-ways, holding up elevators, leaving trash all over the place. Come on RCCL lower the curfew to a more reasonable hour , BEFORE most adults bedtimes. Yes and parents of these children....SHAME ON YOU !!! We ALL want to enjoy our vacations. I , also found upper level staff unfriendly. Eyes looking away almost hoping they would not have to talk with you. I also found the Art Auctioneers to be way to business like and not as outgoing as those on previous cruises. If you want people to buy art, you need to be friendly. Sorry fellows. What was with the Slot tournament?? We used to look forward to that also. It started at 1 pm and the finals were over by 1:05. No mistake there. The whole thing lasted for 5 minutes. In the past, there were 3-4 groups of people waiting to compete, a leader-board and prizes up to $500. This was a one time sign up and the 3 winners got t-shirts and a plastic trophy. The excursions were well worth the money. The guides were knowledgeable and courteous but the Barbados Hike and Cave does not warn you that you will be up to your knees in water so bring your water shoes nor does it mention that when the water is high you should bring a bathing suit or a change of clothing. Our shoes were ruined and the tour guide told us we were lucky they were having a drought so instead of being up to our chests in water, it was only up to our knees. RCCL handed me a complaint form , was unable to find a solution for my good hiking shoes that were ruined and the money we had to spend to buy new, so we are now awaiting an answer from headquarters in Miami. OK enough complaints. The food was excellent, as well as the wait staff. The entertainment was wonderful. The sculptures in fruit were amazing. I especially enjoyed the Christmas morning brunch on the Promenade as well as on New Years Day. We had a wonderful vacation and have signed on for next year already. There will always be problems but why let it ruin your good time away from the snow and cold when you can be in warm sunny climates. RCCL get back to pleasing customers like you used to instead of making so much profit off of us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Embarkation: This was our second cruise, the first one was with Norwegian in June of 2007 so I may throw some comparisons in along the way. It started on Dec. 11, 2009 at Cape Liberty Cruise terminal, NJ. This was also our 16 year wedding ... Read More
Embarkation: This was our second cruise, the first one was with Norwegian in June of 2007 so I may throw some comparisons in along the way. It started on Dec. 11, 2009 at Cape Liberty Cruise terminal, NJ. This was also our 16 year wedding anniversary. The weather was extremely cold and windy but it was no big deal since we are used to it living 3 hours away in Pennsylvania. My group consisted of: me, my wife and our 12 year old son. We arrived at the terminal, a porter took our luggage, then I parked the car ($171 for 9 night cruise- be prepared for that if you're parking there for the week). We were then instructed by our luggage handler where to proceed from there. Next was the metal detectors then check-in (I highly suggest doing online check-in before hand and having all your stuff ready in one of your coat pockets, this saves a lot of awkward frustration digging through your stuff for a few simple things). After that there is a waiting area with refreshments until your number card is called to get on a shuttle bus over to the ship. Some of the terminal people hustle you a little bit to keep moving like you are livestock and I thought they were kind of rude but then maybe they're just ticked off about 3,000 people leaving them behind for the carribean. Once on board we swept right past the people herded like cattle at the elivator and we went right up the steps to explore the ship. It was only about 12:30 pm so we figured we would let the buffet rush die down a little while we worked up an appetite doing a walk-about. What a magnificent ship!! You can see in some places that the ship is 10 years old but the crew is always keeping after it repairing and painting. Not to worry though, the captain said this ship is dry docking in January 2010 for many repairs and some upgrades. In Comparison the Explorer (138,000 tons) is much more spacious than the Norwegian 'Dawn' which I think is about 90,000 tons. The Ship: As mentioned above, she is 138,000 tons. I would suggest walking or running shoes to be worn through out trip if you really want to explore this awesome floating city. Lucky for us, my son has researched the layout of this ship for months and was quite useful getting us around. With over 3,000 guests on board, you can still find many places on the ship to be by yourself and try not to think about going back to the cold in a week. The Royal Prominade in the center of the ship is amazing and really cool but I'd avoid the area when RC tries to herd everyone down there to spend money. Do your shopping at an off time when everyone is at the pool. Check out some of the observation areas at the front of the ship and at the aft if you can. It's where I always had my wake up coffee which by the way you can get at any time free at the Cafe Prominade (deck 5). We had an inside category N cabin. We didn't seem to mind it to much with 3 people much since quarters are quite small in these cheaper cabins yuo'll have to schedule your showers accordingly. But still, it is what it is, a place to sleep, get showered and get dressed. Be sure to check in on your spending account on your TV in your cabin, that's really convenient. The staff: Royal Carribean International is truely international. The staff is from all around the world and many speak very little english, just have patience but every once in a while you'll bump into someone who works there whom you can actually chat with. That being said, in general they really do try to make you very comfortable and happy. Our cabin maid slipped up on a few few minor things during the week like didn't replace soap when we ran out and never put ice in ice bucket accept for first day. But then maybe we're just getting what we paid for- cheap cabin, cheap service (nothing to moan about). Our waiting staff on the other hand was top notch. Head waiter (materde) what ever you want to call him was some really tall French sounding guy, not sure what he really ever actually did but he stopped at our table every night to check in on things. Our waiter was Edgar and missed very few things. The first night I think they noticed that I didn't like the one scoop of icecream idea so the next night they gave me two scoops and I didn't ask. Assistant waiter was Luiz and never were we without water or rolls when he was around. Entertainment: Well worth the money you paid when you booked this cruise. Big broadway style dance shows, comedians, and a fantastic live orchestra. None of that pre-recorded crap here. Get to your evening theatre show early if you can, the best seats are in center about 5 to 10 rows back. Be carefull, there's a lot of rude seat savers. I only wish RC would have a few bouncers in there set them straight. My wife had a crush on the cruise director Dave so I had to get her picture taken with him, he was really funny and nice to talk to on the personal status. The ice show is awesome get the no cost tickets and see it if you can. The ship's raggea band was great but I wish they would play at the pool more than just a couple of times, it really sets the mood. There was no Jazz show that I know of at 'Dizzy's' except for the very last night at 11:00 pm when everyone is going to bed to get up early and disembark the next morning. I thought that was bad scheduling, I would have liked to see a good Jazz performance. Food: I'm not real picky about food as long as I can get it when I'm hungary. The Windjammer buffet was great no complaints, ok maybe I had a stale donut one morning but whoop-de-doo. The buffet seamed endless and had different sections of salad, asian stuff, anything really. If you get there early enough in the morning go all the way to the back at the Island grill, the tables overlooking the aft are great. Dining room entrees were wonderful but bear in mind this is very fine dining and apparently fine diners don't eat very much because proportions are small but they will gladly bring you a double if you ask. Didn't try any of the food on the ship that you pay extra for because that wouldn't make much sense since you've already paid for plenty of food when you booked. But I hear it's really nice. We did however try Johnny Rockets with the $5 cover charge but strangely it only covers limited food and no drinks. I'm now kind of thinking that I could probably throw together a burger just as good at the buffet. They have Ben & Jerry's icecream for an extra charge at the Royal prominade and the cones are kitty size. But not to worry, there's free all you want icecream up at the pool deck almost everyday. Ammentities: Ice scating, rock climbing, mini golf, nice pools and hot tubs all of which are there if your like all that or just grab a coffee and watch the ocean go by on outside deck 4. Extra comments and advice: Bring enough pants and a windbreaker for the first couple of days on this cruise. You go from freezing to 85 degrees f. and it's really neat to experience in my opinion. Don't necessarily crowd the all the announcements on the ship, unless your into that whole bingo thing and spending pointless extra bucks on whatever. Explore and find empty areas of the ship, its really nice. Also, there is always somewhere to sit too, unlike that Norwegian ship by a certain time of day there is absolutely no where to sit except your cabin that was a bummer, I'd have second thoughts about Norwegian because of that. I wasn't really into the whole play dress-up formal dinner thing even though we did look really great. I wish RC considered some more freestyle dining options like Norwegian, no suits and ties there, that was nice. Feel free to check it out, but be weary of some of the things RC tries to get you to come to, sometimes it's just another sales pitch for something. The soda plan we got for my son was well worth it, endless drinks for him for about $45 and a really nice travel cup for keeps. The teenager program was pretty good, our son was there a lot so they must be doing something right. This was primarily a souvineer and shopping agenda for us this time, probably next time we'll do excursions. I say next time because I'm already pricing cruises for 2010! Labadee Haiti, What can I say, its absolutely amazingly beautiful. RC put tons of money into their private beach paradise here including a brand new pier so the Explorer doesn't to tender boat anymore. Make sure you bring surf shoes, there is sharp coral and sea urchins when you swim out a little. Try not to touch bottom if you don't have to. RC catered a great buffet free of charge there and it was delicious. There is a building filled to the guills with great art and souvineers and the natives don't bug you. Beyond that there is a series of real nice huts full of souvineers but there they hound you like crazy to the point you can't stand it, I had to walk away before I got angry and we don't want any trouble in Haiti. I should mention there was jet ski rentals, zip lining at $90 a pop, and some other activities a sea salty extra price but we just like to stick to what we paid for when we booked, a nice relaxing day in paradise with lunch. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I went on this cruise with my 16 and 19 year old children also my sister and husband, my brother and his wife and 2 children and my friend and her husband and 3 children. What I loved so much about the cruise is that we are used to going ... Read More
I went on this cruise with my 16 and 19 year old children also my sister and husband, my brother and his wife and 2 children and my friend and her husband and 3 children. What I loved so much about the cruise is that we are used to going away in large crowds and the one thing that upsets a holiday is wondering where are we eating, what time are we eating, where will we go, will the children be safe, ordering taxis to take us to and from destination, always hanging around waiting for everyone to be ready. All these problems were taken from us on the ship. we could all do our own thing and then meet in the fabulous restaurant in the evening to be together for dinner. The children were so safe, my son who is only 16 was found drinking (to my shame) on the ship and we were called to security for a meeting which I thought was great cus our children's safety was second to none to the staff of the ship. It put him in his place and we enjoyed the rest of the holiday with no mishaps. I went to one of the nightclubs on my own one night (44 year old woman and single) as I wasn't quite ready to go to bed, A gentleman approached me and we talked for a while, when he went to get a drink, 2 security came and asked me was i OK, these security were very discreet but it was very reassuring to know that they were aware I was on my own and checked that i was comfortable with this gentleman. Certainly not service you would get anywhere else on holidays. The entertainment was fantastic, something for everyone every minute of the day, The food was spectacular, I never ate such good food on a holiday before (if you are shopping in New York, on the way home I would advise to buy all clothes one size bigger than normal, I bought loads of clothes not thinking of the weight i had put on over the 2 weeks, i soon went back to my normal size and was left with loads of jeans which are too big for me now) We are all hoping to book another cruise for next summer if we can afford it. Truly the best experience I have ever had and hope to repeat again soon. Thank you so much.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We live in Massachusetts and the port location is what made us decide to take this cruise and what a wise choice it ended up being! The traffic getting thru the end of Connecticut and thru New York was terrible but once we got to the pier ... Read More
We live in Massachusetts and the port location is what made us decide to take this cruise and what a wise choice it ended up being! The traffic getting thru the end of Connecticut and thru New York was terrible but once we got to the pier things went very smoothly. The porter tagged and took our luggage and we then parked the car which is a 3 minute walk. Back in the terminal the line was very long but went rather quickly. We were in line maybe 20-25 minutes before we got our sea pass and boarded the bus to take the 30 second ride to the ship. Once on the Ship we went to our cabin which was 9320 hump D1 cabin. The location was wonderful being right next to the stairs and elevator. It was not noisy at all and we could not hear any commotion in our cabin. The Elevators can get very busy so we mainly took the stairs. There is plenty of storage room in the cabin and 3 of us easily put our clothes away and packed the suitcases under the bed. The room as very clean and well kept. The bathroom does not have an outlet for a hairdryer or curling iron and you have to use the outlet near the desk which is right outside the bathroom. The beds were very comfortable except for the pull out couch which is a little hard. We brought some cans of soda so I asked the cabin steward to take the items that they had for sale in the fridge out so we could use it and by the time we came back they were gone. He also filled the ice bucket twice a day and we had a towel animal every night but the first. He did an excellent job. We were doing MTD so we went down to deck 5 to make reservations for that night and then went to the windjammer for lunch. The food was very good and we loved the chicken! You must try it. The muster went very quickly and was well organized. It took maybe 15 minutes and we did have to bring our life vests to this one. Sail away was supposed to 5pm but it seems on this cruise we were always 20 minutes early. At 4:40 we went up to watch as we sailed by the Statue of Liberty and what a view of NY! A New York PD helicopter put on a little show on both sides of the ship as we were sailing out; I don't know if that is normal or just a spur of the moment thing. Sailing under the Verrazano Bridge is amazing as it looks like you have 3-4 feet clearance from the top. MTD-We chose MTD because we wanted to be able to have the 3 of us eat alone. On the first night they did sit another group of 3 with us but that was the only time. You do have to make reservations for each night and only 1 night we could not get the time we chose which was always 6:30. We had waited to long to make the reservation. We also asked every night to have the same head waiter and waiter. They were absolutely fabulous and remembered what you drank every night etc. They really made the dining experience great. The Food was excellent! From appetizers to entrees to desert. We only got 1 of each every night but saw many people getting 2-3 appetizers, 2 entrees etc. That seemed to be the norm. Lobster and shrimp was served on the last night of the cruise and was very good. The Maitre d came around every night to make sure the meal was what we expected and that his wait staff was doing a good job. He took the time to ask what you had done for the day in port or to recommend where to go the next day. Johnny Rockets didn't ever seem to be crowded and the food was excellent. They bring you French fries and onion rings when you sit down and then you order what you want. We also got desert which was included with the 4.95 surcharge per person. I got the apple pie/ice cream which was excellent and my father got the Oreo cookie sundae which he said was excellent also. Promenade cafe had pizza, sandwiches, croissant sandwiches, cookies and a few types of desert, coffee, juice 24 hours a day. The pizza was very good. Windjammer-We ate there every morning and the omelet station was excellent. They have many items for you to choose from to put in your omelets. They were also very quick. The breakfast food was very good with many items to choose from. Entertainment-I highly recommend you see the comedians. Our cruise had 6 nights of comedians/magic shows out of the 9 nights. They were fabulous and we haven't laughed like that in a long time. My son couldn't wait to see the compass when we got back to the room at night to see if the show the following night was going to be a comedian. We would go down around 8:30 for the 9:00 show to make sure we got a seat as it can get crowded. Our Cruise Director Dave Chapman started and ended the show every night and he was great, he was literally everywhere! Our cruise was the last one he was doing on the Explorer and he has moved on to Mariner of the Seas. They have waiters walking around taking drink orders, the frozen drinks are delicious! Sports Deck-The Mini golf is fun but hard, playing mini golf on a cruise ship is a challenge and it can get really windy up there! My son did the Rock Climbing and there was always a group there when it was open. We did the Inline skating which was fun and we also did the Ice Skating. Long pants are needed for the Ice Skating, no shorts are allowed. They have ping pong, shuffleboard, Basketball court and a gold simulator which was broken on our cruise. They have a really large arcade and my son went in there often. Your sea pass card is what you use to play the games and there is a machine in there to either charge money to your sea pass or you can add cash to the sea pass for the games. One day he went in there the games were all free. Promenade-You literally feel like you are in a shopping mall! They have a few stores and pubs with seating out in the promenade. My favorite was every day they set up tables and different items would be for sale. They jewelry, watches, shirts, sea glass, ($10 Bijoux items, if you have ever been to that store) .It felt like a mini flea market and was always quite crowded. They also had gold by the inch which they moved back and forth from the Promenade to outside the Windjammer. You could get bracelets, anklets, necklaces etc. Digital camera's was another table always set up outside the Windjammer or in the Promenade. Casino-Was never too crowded and they had quite a few slot machines. They had 1 cent machines on up. I did see someone win $500 on a dollar machine one night. Ports-We went to Bermuda, St. Maarten, St.Thomas and San Juan. Bermuda was beautiful and we did the Island Tour/Horseshoe Bay Beach Tour. This was an excellent tour and the tour guide was awesome. We were met right outside the ship and lined up and walked to the bus. He gave us a really good narrative of everything we saw and really knew the history of the island. Horseshoe Bay Beach is breathtaking and we had 2 hours there. The rock formations and the color of the water are incredible. They have changing/bathrooms and a snack bar. Once on the beach we set off to explore all the way to the left the many rock formations and coves. We were almost alone down there as many people stayed at the part where you first enter the beach. As my son was walking in one of the coves what looked to be a local stepped up and said be careful of the riptides in these coves. That was really nice of him as we wouldn't have known. Bring your cameras because the picture opportunity near the rocks is unbelievable. Also be careful walking in the coves as there are some holes in the sand and you may go down into the water unexpectedly. The sand is a beautiful pink color just like you read about. St. Maarten we did the Island tour and stopped on the French side to shop. Once you get off the Ship they is a little shopping area at the end of the dock with a few stores, nothing great. St. Maarten's water is a beautiful blue /green color and the views from the Tour are very pretty at points. We were not crazy about this Island and it was our least favorite. St. Thomas we took the Meagan's Bay Beach Tour and this bus ride was crazy to me as you have to go up one side of the mountain and then down the other to get to the beach. It reminded me of a roller coaster ride and I made sure not to look out the sides of the bus and just kept my eyes straight ahead. We did stop at the top of the mountain on the way back for spectacular views and pictures. The bay is gorgeous and there are no waves. You can see your toes while up to your chest in water. They have water sports, kayaks, paddle boats and floats for rent. My son and father did the Kayak and had a great time. They also rent chairs and had a Bar/Snack bar. We had 2 hours at the beach which was perfect. San Juan we took the Segway Tour and they also meet you right at the end of the dock. It is then a 2 minute walk to their office. You have a quick lesson on maneuvering the Segway and off you go, you must wear a helmet. We had so much fun on this tour. We travelled the old blue cobblestone paths, went where motor vehicles are not allowed and just thoroughly enjoyed the entire tour, you end up at the El Morro Fort on the edge of the ocean and the views are breathtaking. We toured the fort for around 20 minutes with our Segway Guide and then headed back. She takes several pictures of your group on the segways with your own camera which becomes a great keepsake. I highly recommend taking this tour. Disembarkation-We chose to self disembark and went down to sign up as soon as we got the cruise compass telling us sign up was available. Our ticket said we could disembark between 8:30 - 8 : 45. At 8:20 the captain came on an announced we had been cleared and the first group of self embarkation could leave. We were on the 9th floor and as we came out of our room there was a large group waiting with their luggage for an elevator. We decided to use the stairs and we carried, rolled our suitcase down all 9 floors and on each floor there were quite a few people waiting for elevators. We got to deck one, swiped our sea pass and immediately got on the shuttle bus. 2 minutes later if brought us to the building where there was no one in line for customs. We breezed right thru, rolled our luggage to the parking lot and were in the car leaving the port at 8:40. It was a total of 20 minutes from our room to the car. We would self disembark again in a heartbeat. I can't say enough about this 9 day cruise, It was relaxing, fun and just a wonderful vacation! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Just returned from a great voyage on the Explorer of the Seas. In traveling with a 5 and 7 year old, I was really looking for some tips and information prior to my trip. I will share with you what I wish someone shared with me.... ... Read More
Just returned from a great voyage on the Explorer of the Seas. In traveling with a 5 and 7 year old, I was really looking for some tips and information prior to my trip. I will share with you what I wish someone shared with me.... Adventure Ocean is incredible. My kids are shy and were concerned about being left in a new environment. That lasted only a day or two before they were BEGGING to go back!! I have heard many times about the program and how great it is, but I had to see it for myself to believe it. They will offer dining on 4 of the 9 nights at Johnny Rockets. This is a great perk since they charge $4.95 per person for passengers and the kids eat free when they go with Adventure Ocean. However, they accept sign-ups at 9:00am on the day of the dining, and you need to get there pronto to avoid being shut out. If you choose to eat in the dining room with your children, they will offer kid-friendly choices. The fries are awesome! I brought Legos and other small toys to keep my kids occupied while they waited. My 5 year old wanted to be with his brother in the 6-8 year group. Adventure Ocean requires the child to complete 1 or 2 days in their appropriate age group before they will move a child up. We were able to move my son up with no problem - he thrived in the older group. Please know that the pools on the main deck are deep - over 5 feet deep. So if your child does not swim, they will have to hang onto the edge. They have a slide in the back of the pool that requires you to be 46" tall. My 5 year old was tall enough to ride and loved it. My 7 year old thought it was too babyish. The Adventure Ocean is open most days from 9:00 to 12:00. They close from 12 to 2 but you have the option of keeping them enrolled for $7.95. I thought that was quite steep and took my kids out for lunch each day (they loved the buffet in the Windjammer). They can go back from 2:00 to 5:00 and then can either go back at 6:00 on Johnny Rockets nights, or they can go back at 7:00. They can stay from 7:00 until 10:00 at no cost - and at 10:00, the cost is $5.00 per hour. The hours for Adventure Ocean vary on Port Days - they open very early and the kids can usually stay through lunch (pizza at Portofino) at no cost on those days. The day we were in St. Maarten until 8:00pm, they were able to stay past 5:00, go directly to Johnny Rockets and remain until 10:00. That was nice since we didn't have the hassle of picking them up at 5:00 and then dropping them back off. Please note that the Adventure Ocean has a strange turquoise carpet that ruined my kids socks! So send them in old socks since it's a shoe-free environment. And the best part is that while they are learning science, playing ball games and making friends - Mom & Dad are on their own to relax by the pool, have a drink, see the Casino or attend a show. It was a wonderful voyage and we can't wait to go back! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I have just returned from a 9 night cruise with RCI on Explorer of the Seas. First the good points: The cabin was surprisingly spacious for the four of us. There is certainly a wow factor to the facilities, size and general atmosphere of ... Read More
I have just returned from a 9 night cruise with RCI on Explorer of the Seas. First the good points: The cabin was surprisingly spacious for the four of us. There is certainly a wow factor to the facilities, size and general atmosphere of the ship. The staff were excellent, especially our cabin steward Winfield, Milano at the Acquarium bar and all the wait staff in both the formal dining rooms and Windjammer. The theatre shows were pretty good and the ice show was amazing. However, I am extremely disappointed at everything else. Yes, this was our first cruise, but we are well travelled and have never been in a situation where manners and common courtesy are totally amiss. With the exception of our table mates, who saved the holiday from being a complete disaster, I don't think we would have had the opportunity of a single conversation. There were 3,500 people on that ship, with the majority from the New Jersey area. Makes sense as the port is in New Jersey. But what we learned soon after boarding was that despite us booking 8 months ago and paying £6,500 for a family of four, RCI had advertised cut price offers in the local press two weeks before the ship sailed and the ship was now completely full. Call me a snob, but if I pay a high price for a holiday I assume the majority of the guests have too and would therefore be of a certain calibre. Never have I seen such obesity in all my life and to make matters worse, it appears for many their sole intention for the duration of the cruise was to eat. My son stood up from the table one morning and was pushed aside by the fattest man I had ever seen in my life who grunted at him, such was his eagerness to eat his breakfast. My only experience of people this size have been in documentaries on TV where they have discussed where people have become so obese they can't leave their homes etc. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. There were also a lot of mobility impaired people on board and I was pleased that the were still able to holiday with their disabilities, but to my surprise one day as we were waiting for a lift one person reversed out shouting, "Get out of my way" (I could write a novel on lift etiquette or rather the lack of it) Even towards the end of a game of bingo the crew member hosting the activity said after 30 minutes at 11.30am that he wouldn't keep us much longer as it was nearly lunch time and probably an hour since most of us had eaten. That says it all really. Throughout the entire trip it seemed that the cruise line's intention was to extract as much money out of you as possible. Being at sea for two whole days meant that we were a captive audience. Want and expresso or cappucino after dinner? That will be extra. Want to use the golf simulator? That is $25. Bought the soda package but want a bottle of water? That will be nearly $5 and it doesn't include the mini bar in your cabin. One word of warning. If you grant your children signing priviledges then they can run up a huge bill in the arcade (of course that is extra) without pre paying with cash. One of our new friends discovered this after her son had run up a bill of $180 in a couple of hours there. Fortunately she was able to turn the card off for the remainder of the trip. I could go on and on. The sales pitch was everywhere including the TV. Then on the last day they had a massive sale where all the logo items were sold at 50% off or more. Think about those that bought their t-shirts etc at the beginning of the cruise. Some relief came when we got off the boat. You have to queue to get off and queue to get on which eats into your shore time. On the day we arrived in Bermuda, another ship had also docked and then there 7,000 people heading to Horseshoe Bay. I couldn't even see my kids on the beach or in the water, the beach was so packed. Even on the boat, the deckchairs were pushed so close together they touched and you were made to feel like a sardine in a can. It was ridiculous. There was also a general hubbub on the outer desks that was inescapable. There was no personal space or peace and quiet. My husband spent most of his time in the cabin. I had to put my ipod on full blast to drown it out. I have to say that my husband and I have never been so disappointed with a holiday and even if someone gave me a cruise , I wouldn't go. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We drove less than an hour to Port Liberty and I can't even imagine having to take a flight to a cruise again. It is such a pleasure to leave from Port Liberty if you are within driving distance. There was no line to leave off our ... Read More
We drove less than an hour to Port Liberty and I can't even imagine having to take a flight to a cruise again. It is such a pleasure to leave from Port Liberty if you are within driving distance. There was no line to leave off our luggage, no line to go through security, only one line for check-in but it moved quickly. We arrived at the port at about 1:20 and we were on the ship by 2:30. Unfortunately we did not pack our swim suits in our carry-on, because the pools were open and practically deserted. Who knew! But we did head over to the Windjammer (along with everyone else) for lunch. It was very crowded, and hard to find a table. I was worried that it would be crowded for the whole cruise but it was never crowded again after that. We had ocean view cabins on Deck 3. If it had been just me and my husband we would have upgraded, but we had 3 kids along so we economized since we needed two staterooms. But the staterooms were not bad at all and had more than enough storage for 9 nights. Very comfortable beds. No complaints there at all. Dinner in the dining room was great the first night but was hit-or-miss all the nights after that. This is a minor complaint though - overall I was very happy with the food. And of course, if we ordered something we didn't like we could have just ordered something else, but I can't bring myself to waste food like that, so I didn't do that. The appetizers were almost always exceptional. Desserts were mediocre. The portions are small, which is deliberate so you can feel free to order several things. One other minor complaint - it took a long time to get a drink at dinner. Our server (who was otherwise great) never asked us what we wanted to drink. When I did order from him, it took a long time to come, and would arrive quite some time after my dinner arived. I suspect this was not his fault, but was due to long lines at whatever bar he had to go to to get our drinks. After a couple nights of this we learned to just get our own drinks at the Crown and Kettle pub on our way to dinner so we already had them when we sat down. We never ate at the specialty restaurants because we didn't think it was worth the extra money. Plus (I think) Portifino's only takes guests over age 13 and we have a 10-year-old. Johnny Rocket's just didnt' seem to be worth the cover charge of $4.95 per person, so we skipped it. To be honest, the food in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch was really good - especially the Indian and Asian food. The selections didn't change much from day to day, but there were so many different things, that wasn't a problem. We bought the kids soda cards on the first day and we're glad we did. It gave them independence. They could also order shirly temples using their cards. It was about $40 per kid (I think?) and well worth the money. Alcoholic drinks were ridiculously expensive but what can you do - we just forgot all about the mounting bar bill and drank our fill! I found a Shiraz I liked that was about $7 a glass and stuck to that most of the time. Fruity drinks were about $8.50 but I can only handle one of those per day anyway. My husband is a scotch drinker and I think most of his drinks were in the $8 range too. I think you just have to accept that your bar bill is what it is and not think about it. The activities on board were great! We LOVED the trivia games they have, we went to as many of those as we could. We took a couple of dance lessons but unfortunately we couldn't really find opportunities to dance. The shows were ok but I'm not really a show person. My youngest (10yo daughter) was in the show on the last night - she was in a group of about 10 passengers who did a short dance on stage. Anyone could have been in this, it was announced on the second or third day and they had three rehearsals during the cruise. She loved being part of that show, it was a highlight of the cruise for her. The pools on deck were very crowded from 12pm to about 5pm, when it was wall-to-wall people. Before and after those times, they were very relaxing. We learned to hit the pool in the morning by 10am, and finish up by 12pm, then go back after 5pm. This worked out great for us since we had the late dinner seating. There were lots of people reserving deck chairs which was annoying, but even so we never had a problem finding one to put our stuff on. We are not the kind to lie in the sun so we just needed a chair to dump off our stuff while we were in the pool. If you are looking for a lounge chair in the sun during peak hours you could still probably find one, but it might be farther away from the pool. The kids did the rock-climbing wall and they enjoyed it, but there were times when there were long lines there. We went in-line skating and ice skating, and they were not too crowded. The kids enjoyed playing mini-golf, ping-pong, foosball, and they also enjoyed the arcade. My sons (14 and 16) did not take advantage of any of of the teen activities, but there were several things they could have done like teen-only ice skating, volleyball, basketball, etc. We did the express disembarkation which was great. We went to breakfast early in the Windjammer where we watched the ship dock, then we went back to our staterooms and carried our own luggage off at about 8:45am. They had a shuttle bus waiting for us which took us to customs - no lines at all anywhere. We were literally in our car within 20 minutes of leaving our staterooms. We were home less than an hour later. I fully plan to take this exact same cruise again in the future. It was a great family vacation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Departed from Bayonne, NJ on July 9, 2009 heading for Bermuda then the Caribbean.    We had 24 in our group.  We would see each other at dinner, sometimes bump into some at the pool or the casino, but everyone pretty much did their ... Read More
Departed from Bayonne, NJ on July 9, 2009 heading for Bermuda then the Caribbean.    We had 24 in our group.  We would see each other at dinner, sometimes bump into some at the pool or the casino, but everyone pretty much did their own thing and had a great time.   I found everything relating to the ship either good or excellent.  The crew, without exception, was great.  The worst experience I had ... I was at the Casino Bar, and they ran out of Coors Light, so I had to walk about 100 feet to the Schooner Bar.  THE AGONY!  By my next order, Coors Light had been replenished.   Dining.  We chose early dining.  Our waiter was excellent.  It was no problem ordering two or three appetizers and two dinners.  If you want extra lobster tails, don't ask for extra lobster tails.  Just order two lobster dinners.  We had one person at our table, without exception, ordered two full dinners every night ... absolutely NO PROBLEM.  The food was good.   The ship was magnificent.  So big, so much to do, that in 9 days, we still did not do everything.   Entertainment was good to excellent, shows every night.   Bermuda - Got off the ship, jumped in a cab, and went to Horseshoe Beach for the day.  Very nice beach, had beer, restrooms, showers.  Great day.   St. Martin - My son (12) and I booked the America's Cup Yacht Racing.  I cannot describe it.  It was one of the greatest highlights that I have ever done in my 54 years.  It was the real thing, two sailing yachts, racing on a course, and you are part of the crew working the sails.  And they had beer!  I would highly recommend this for anyone.  It was the best thing that we did on the trip.   St. Thomas - took the champagne catamaran trip to St. John.  Went snorkeling.  The fish and coral reefs were incredible.  Actually saw a large sea turtle.  Then we drank beer.  Another great time.   San Juan - stayed on the ship and relaxed.   All in all, I would have to say just about everything was great.  We had a blast.     Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
One of the best features of this cruise is, of course, leaving from Bayonne, 45 minutes and your there!  Embarking was a snap, we arrived about  10:30am , on the shuttle at 11:30 and on the ship by  12 . We were able to get into our ... Read More
One of the best features of this cruise is, of course, leaving from Bayonne, 45 minutes and your there!  Embarking was a snap, we arrived about  10:30am , on the shuttle at 11:30 and on the ship by  12 . We were able to get into our cabins  around 1. My husband and I  usually get a JS but since we were with 2 other couples  we got 3 rooms together , all  balcony  rooms. I have to say they were quite roomy. More than enough storage space (and I'm a huge overpacker) ,and more than enough walk around room !  The balcony also had more than enough room .          Now for the  food  review !!!  Believe it or not I was very surprised !!! I have been disappointed the last few years on all the RCCL ships, but this time most of the dining room meals were dare I say GOOD. As for the Windjammer , other than for Breakfast, needs alot of improvement , except for the wait staff , they were great !!!  Portofino was  excellent, we went twice.  We had My Time Dining and  would recommend this.         Now to the entertainment ... Poolside/ same ol- same ol,  The Shows / OK , The music about the Ship- Dizzy's was great , English Pub / not so good, Chamber/ ok, but we are in our late 50's so maybe we are not the best to review .  The Schooner Bar was always packed ,so if you want to get in on the games or even to just get a seat, get there early . The  Casino ,even leaving the Ship with less, the casino was the most fun ,not only the people we met, but the Dealers and Pit-bosses made this a great time !!!       Now for the nightmare called Disembarkation !!!!  I really can't say what they can do to get this right  but they better get some kind of expert to come in and figure out something  !!!      All in all this was a great time, money well spent, already planning for next year after Her makeover!!!                                   Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Having been on 1 cruise before (a Western Caribbean itinerary on the Radiance of the Seas 18 months ago), I was quite excited to be sailing with Royal Caribbean yet again on an even larger ship, and a longer cruise. My excitement paid off ... Read More
Having been on 1 cruise before (a Western Caribbean itinerary on the Radiance of the Seas 18 months ago), I was quite excited to be sailing with Royal Caribbean yet again on an even larger ship, and a longer cruise. My excitement paid off and we had a wonderful cruise. Getting to the Port: We flew on Air Canada Jazz from Toronto to Newark at 6:30am on June 11th. The flight was on time and very organized. From EWR, we took a taxi to Cape Liberty, which was a set fee of $48 plus tolls, which brought it to $51. Our driver even went out of his way to stop at a convenience store at no extra charge so that we could purchase some cases of soda to take onboard. Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal around 9:45am, and there was still a significant amount of traffic heading into and out of the cruise terminal as passengers from the previous cruise were still disembarking. Once we pulled up to the building though, it was smooth sailing. Our luggage was whisked away immediately, and after going through security, we were sitting in the large lounge with cookies, lemonade, water, and coffee awaiting check-in. Check-in began around 10:15am, and we had our sea-passes in hand shortly after, and waited another hour or so until the buses started running to take passengers to the ship. The bus ride was about 2 minutes, and we were quickly exploring the ship. The Staff: The Captain was Olav Nyseter from Norway, who we were told is the longest-serving captain with RCI. Cruise Director was Dave Chapman, and Hotel Director was Xavier Matthias. All of the employees on the ship were very helpful and friendly, and the service in general was great. The Ship: The ship is beautiful. I had read a lot about wear and tear being prominent around the ship, however I hardly noticed any at all. If I searched hard, I saw a couple areas where the carpets were a bit dull, but really, dull carpets did not make or break the cruise for us. The Royal Promenade was great, with multiple stores, bars, and the popular Cafe Promenade. The pools and surrounding areas were clean and well-kept, the Sports Deck looked brand new with a very clean mini-golf course, excellent in-line-skating area (even the rollerblades were in good condition), basketball court, and of course, the rock-wall. We enjoyed spending our sea-days at the Solarium pool, as it was much quieter and the chairs were more comfortable than at the main pool. Chairs were hard to come by at either pool anywhere in the shade after about 10am, but we usually woke up early to maximize our pool time, so this was not an issue for us. The Propeller Status: As most of you know, one of the ship's propellers was damaged in the winter after hitting some coral reef. It appears to have been fixed, as our itinerary was the first to be put back on the original itinerary. We made it to all of our ports on schedule, and the ship sailed at top-speeds of 22 knots. There were some vibrations at times which I don't recall feeling on our previous cruise on the Radiance, however it did not bother us (just our towel-bunny which was found shaking on the bed!). Our Stateroom: We opted to save a bit of money and go with a promenade-view stateroom on deck 7 mid-ship. While I missed being able to see the weather outside before leaving our room for the day, the room was more than adequte. Yes, it was small, as most rooms are, but once we unpacked, we managed to find a spot for everything with leftover storage space to spare. The trick is to use all of the little cupboards and shelves. We didn't even need the over-the-door-shoe-hanger which we had forgotten to bring. Our bed-linens for the 2 twin beds were not worn-out as other reviews have stated, and the beds were comfortable, although a bit hard for our liking. We requested foam mattress-toppers, which were unavailable, however our cabin stewardess Mariana was able to put extra duvet's under our sheets, making the bed much softer and more comfortable. Mariana did a great job keeping our room clean, and we just left her notes whenever we needed anything. She even removed the items from the in-room-fridge and put them away on a top shelf so that we could use the fridge for our own beverages (which by-the-way made it to our room just fine with the luggage tag we attached). The air-conditioning worked great in the room, as did the hot water (it was even too-hot at times!). We just had a problem with the shower-head in the room spurting water in funny directions when in use, which was fixed quickly after a visit to Guest Relations. While I would prefer a balcony in order to check the weather and see the world outside, I did enjoy the window in the promenade room - it was great for people-watching, watching the parades on days 1 and 9, and just to see what was going on below us. Just remember to close the curtains when needed, as the rooms across can see in when they are open! Turn-Down Service was a nice-touch, and although there were no chocolates on our pillows at night, once again, this did not ruin our cruise - we hardly noticed it. We did however, receive towel animals each and every night! Internet Services: The Explorer has a computer area on deck 8 where one can use the internet for $0.55/minute, or there are packages available with cheaper per-minute rates. You can also use the internet on your laptop in this area, or various other hotspots throughout the ship (i.e. the promenade, the solarium). I brought my netbook and was even able to pick up a signal in our room. I purchased the cheapest package for wireless, which was $28.00 and offered a per-minute rate of only $0.47. It was a little bit slow, but it worked just fine and served it's purpose for e-mailing home. The rates and packages for wireless internet and using the Explorer's computers are the same, so it's entirely up to the cruiser whether or not to bring their own computer. The convenience of being able to access the internet from our stateroom made bringing the laptop completely worth-it. Activities: There were more activities each day than anyone could ever attend - something for everyone, from financial lectures to various dance classes and jewellery-making (sign-up early! we missed out because it was full already). Twice during the cruise there was a "Walk for Wishes", in which one could make a donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation which grants wishes for seriously ill children. There were also signs around the ship advertising the opportunity to make a donation, however nobody was pressured into anything, nor were they looked at differently whether they took part or not. At various times throughout the cruise, the rock wall, ice skating rink, and in-line skating areas were open - check the cruise compass for the times, but be aware that the in-line-skating was closed when wet. Mini-golf was in great condition and was open all the time, as was the basketball court, table-tennis, etc. Board games and cards were available on deck 14 all the time, and were also in good condition. Various contests took place throughout the week, including the Men's sexy-legs contest, belly-flop, and "ultimate hunk" competition. There was also karaoke at various times throughout the cruise which ended in the "Karaoke Superstar" competiton in the Palace Theatre. Entertainment: There has been recent talk about large cutbacks in live music, however this was not evident on our cruise. There was a lot of live music throughout the cruise, and this was all listed in the daily Cruise Compass. The pool band was out every day as well. The nightly shows were much better than our last cruise, and included some wonderful comedians (Miguel Washington and Jim Colliton), an impressionist (Scott Record), a singer (Hal Frazier), and some Royal Caribbean singers and dancers shows, including Invitation to Dance, which was choregraphed by Dancing with the Stars which was good, and some other shows which were just "okay". The ice-skaing show, Spirit of the Seasons was wonderful - there were 4 shows on 2 days throughout the cruise (days 4 and 8), all of which were the same. You just have to pick up your tickets in advance as listed in your Cruise Compass. Food and Drink: Bar Service was continuous around the pool areas, and you never had to wait long for a drink of your choice. The waiters were always walking around with trays of various drinks (including the drink of the day), and were happy to bring you any other beverages as well. There was also an abundance of bar service in the Palace Theatre, as well as Studio B. Main Dining Room - We opted for My Time Dining this time around, quite excited that we could eat whenever we wanted. On the first night when leaving the dining room, we were asked by the hostess what time we would like to make reservations for the following evening. We replied that we were not sure as we wanted to look at the cruise compass first, and were told no problem, please call to make reservations once we did that. This set the tone for the rest of the cruise, on the fact that reservations are required in My-Time-Dining. We chose to eat at different times each night, which resulted in our being seated at different tables and with different waiters each night. While this did not bother us, it did create some inconsistencies as far as service was concerned. Mid-way through the cruise, we started requesting a window table, but did not receive it. On the second last night, the head-waiter Jacob told us that in order to get a table by the window, we would have to eat at 6pm or 7:30pm. We made reservations for 7:30 and showed up at 7:15 and got our window-table. The service was hit and miss with My Time Dining - sometimes it was very fast, while other times we had to wait for water and were never offered bread, or waited an hour for our entrees (on the last night). Despite the gaps in service, it was nice to eat alone each night, and the flexibility was worth it despite the fact we needed reservations. We sometimes had to wait for about 10 minutes to be seated if there were people in line ahead of us, but this just gave us time to read the posted menu. The food in the Main Dining Room ranged from average to very good, and there was a good selection on most nights. There is also an "always available" menu consisting of grilled chicken, salmon, pasta, and steak for those who could not find anything they liked on the nightly menu. Some dishes worth trying include the caesar salad, chilled fruit soups, vegetarian samosas, Thai shrimp, and the eggplant mozzarella tower. The waiters were great, and if I couldn't decide what to order, they brought me one of each (this even resulted in 5 desserts one night as they all sounded delicious). I had read that the desserts in the MDR have been gelatinous, and I did not understand how cheesecake could be gelatinous, but now I do. Many of the desserts did have a bit of a jiggly consistency, but most were still good. Breakfast is served daily in the MDR, and there was a good selection from eggs benedict to smoked salmon, omelettes, cereals, etc. We ate there for breakfast twice and enjoyed it both times despite the fact that the selection is not as big as in the Windjammer. Lunch is served in the MDR on Sea Days, and consisted of various menu items (i.e. burgers, steak sandwiches, etc) as well as a very large, well-presented salad bar which consisted of about 8 types of lettuce/greens, various proteins including chicken, shrimp, beef, ham, cheeses, etc, and countless toppings from marinated mushrooms to roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, eggplant, and more, and a selection of dressings. All of this is prepared in front of you to your liking by the chefs. Windjammer Buffet - We ate at the windjammer for most breakfasts, some lunches, and 1 dinner, and the food ranged from slightly below average, to very good. The breakfast selection is the best, with everything from a made-to-order omelette station, to french toast, pancakes, waffles, various cereals, yogurt, hashbrowns, breads, pastries, smoked salmon, etc. Lunch and afternoon snacks were adequate, with pastas, salad bar, make your own nacho's/taco's, burgers, fries (really good), pizza, sandwiches, and much more. The honey-stung chicken on the first day was not as good as I expected, but not bad either. Just a boneless, skinless, fried chicken breast. Dinner at the Windjammer was pretty good, with various salads, a make-your-own pizza station, make your own pasta or stir-fry station, sushi, etc. Oh and we can't forget the low-fat-frozen-yogurt machines located just outside the Windjammer beside the main pool - delicious! The machines are open from 11am-9pm daily. Cafe Promenade - Open 24/7, the cafe has a variety of cookies and pastries, pizza, and sandwiches. They also have a self-serve coffee station with coffee, various teas, etc. There is also a Ben and Jerry's located there, as well as Seattle's Best Coffee. Ben and Jerry's pricing is not bad ($2.88 including 15% gratuity for a small scoop), however be forewarned, they do not allow sampling to determine which flavor you want. Johnny Rockets - We ate here twice, and the food was great, as was the service - worth the $4.95 cover charge. The staff are wonderful, and whenever anyone comes in or out, everybody yells "HELLO" or "Bye-Bye". They bring fries and onion rings with onion dip and make a ketchup happy-face immediately upon being seated. Whatever you want to order other than drinks is included in the cover charge, so you can eat whatever you want. The burgers and desserts were great! Also if you are a Crown and Anchor member, there is a 2 for 1 milkshake coupon in the coupon booklet - be sure to use it! Room Service - There is a pretty good Room Service menu, although we only used Room Service for breakfast on 2 early port days. Choices for breakfast include cereal, pastries, fruit, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, etc. The first time, the food did not arrive between 7 and 7:30am as requested, so we called down at 7:35 and we were told that they called and someone picked up and said they did not order room service. They must have called the wrong room since our phone had not rung. Our breakfast arrived shortly after, and they apologized for the mistake. The second time, we received our order even a bit early (6:55am) however we were missing one item. We called and told them and it arrived at our door 5 minutes later. There have been some questions as to what's included as far as beverages go - iced tea, lemonade, coffee, tea, and water can be found at the Windjammer and MDR. Chocolate Milk and Milk are also free (you must ask for the chocolate milk in the Windjammer as it is kept behind the counter), as is Hot Chocolate which is located in Cafe Promande. Apple and Orange Juice are free with breakfast as well. Fellow Passengers: The ship was sailing filled to capacity, with guests ranging in age from infants, to young couples, to families, to seniors. Nobody felt out of place. The majority of people seemed to be from the area surrounding NJ (Ohio, NY, Boston, etc), although there were also guests from elsewhere in the US, Canada, England, etc. Itinerary: Day 1 - Depart Cape Liberty at 5pm Day 2 - At Sea Day 3 - Kings Wharf, Bermuda (8am-5pm) We purchased full-day bus/ferry passes for $12.00 per person from the booth on the pier (they also have tokens for 1 ride for $4) and took the bus from the Dockyard to Horseshoe Bay Beach. They added a large number of extra "Special" buses since our ship was in port, and these buses went directly to the beach. The driver was very friendly and helpful, as were all of the people in Bermuda. The beach was beautiful, although we did see about 4 or 5 Portugese Man-of-War get washed up on the beach. Apparently this is common at this time of the year, so be careful! They did seem to be doing a good job keeping them cleaned up though. We rented chairs for $10 each and dragged them down the beach to the left side to an area that was a bit less busy. Unfortunately it rained on and off all afternoon so we left the beach early, and headed back to walk around the dockyard, umbrella in hand. Day 4 - At Sea Day 5 - Philipsburg, St. Maarten (12pm-9pm) Thanks to all of the recommendations on Cruise Critic, we booked a tour online with Bernard's Tours. We had Bernard as our guide and he took us along with another family and a couple all around the island, to Marigot on the French side, to Maho Beach to watch the planes land (and the people get blasted from the sand into the ocean when a large plane took off), and to Orient Beach (if you wish to avoid the nudity, stay on the left side of the rocks when facing the water). Bernard was great, had a cooler of soda, water, beer, and rum punch, and kept everyone happy. I highly recommend him. We then shopped around the port, which had quite a nice shopping area. Day 6 - Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas (8am-6pm) We got off the ship bright and early and took an open-air taxi to Magens Bay Beach for $8 per person. The ride was very scenic, particularly up in the mountains. At Magens Bay, the chair-rentals start at 9:30am, so we rented 2 chairs which I believe were $7 each and set them up in a nice shady spot under a palm tree. The beach is gorgeous with very calm water and fish that swim right around your feet (don't forget your camera!). Snorkel equipment is available for rent as well, and there are lifeguards along the beach. Unfortunately it started pouring rain there as well, so we took a taxi back to the ship in the late morning, had lunch, and took another taxi downtown for $4 per person to do some shopping. When it started pouring there, we went back to the ship and shopped a bit more. Luckily we had our umbrella's in hand. Day 7 - San Juan, Puerto Rico (7am-2pm). We booked The Original Canopy Tour through Royal Caribbean, and had a wonderful time. Our bus driver was hilarious and kept everyone happy on the way there and back, and the staff were all very accomodating and professional. There were 8 zip-lines and an assisted rapell, and there were staff members there every step of the way hooking everyone on and off of the zip-lines and safety-lines. There were drinks available for purchase at the end of the tour, however I would strongly recommend bringing a bottle of water with you (in some sort of holder or cross-body purse or small back-pack) as the hike uphill at the beginning of the course is extremely long and strenuous, especially in the heat. There was not only a very steep paved road that we had to walk up from the bus, there was a hike uphill on a path in the forest to get to the first platform... be very careful going up and down - it's not easy!. After our zip-lining (which was worth the hike!), we were dropped back at the ship (at pier 3), and walked up the street to Old San Juan to do some shopping at the Coach Outlet. Of course it started pouring rain here too, so back to the ship we went! Be sure to stay outside during sail-away from San Juan - there are amazing views of the forts on the way out! Day 8 - At Sea Day 9 - At Sea Day 10 - Arrive in Cape Liberty at 8am After waking up at 5am to watch the sunrise and watch as we went under the Verrazano Bridge, we ate breakfast in the Windjammer and then just sat and people-watched until we arrived in Bayonne right on schedule. We had requested the last departure time due to a late-afternoon flight, and we were off the ship at 10:30am. We had to wait quite a while for a taxi back to EWR which wound up being a taxi-bus with many other people, but the cost was lower, at $14 per person. We arrived at the airport around 11:15am. We flew Continental back home from EWR to Toronto. Unfortunately we had a terrible experience with a lack of ticket agents to assist us at the airport, and an extremely long line at security, and we didn't make it through to our gate until 1:30pm. I'm not sure that I would fly Continental again despite the great price we received. Luckily our flight left on time and our luggage made it home with us! All in all, we had a wonderful cruise, with the exception of the rain on 8/10 days, which is no fault of Royal Caribbean. We will probably cruise with Royal Caribbean again in the future, and despite the slow service in My Time Dining, we would likely go that route again simply for the flexibility. I'd highly recommend the Explorer of the Seas! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Embarkation:  Leaving from Bayonne, NJ for the first time was interesting.  We drove to the the port, and the port crew was very quick to get us parked and our luggage out of the car.  The car driver was then directed to parking and any ... Read More
Embarkation:  Leaving from Bayonne, NJ for the first time was interesting.  We drove to the the port, and the port crew was very quick to get us parked and our luggage out of the car.  The car driver was then directed to parking and any other passengers waited under a large white tent for that driver.  Parking at Bayonne is very expensive - $177 prepaid for 9 days parking.   If you live close enough to have someone drive you it may be worthwhile.   Inside the registration area, the regular lines were pretty long.  We were booked in a Junior Suite and were able to go through a shorter line queue.   Definitely fill out the guest information online before you arrive - it's much smoother.   Also have the credit card you intend to have the ship charges billed to handy.   Room:  We were in a JS stateroom category, a mini-suite.  Biggest difference was a bigger bathroom with a full bathtub, a wider room (about 5 feet wider than a oceanview balcony room) and a larger balcony.   The twin beds were together and made a nice size bed.  My husband is 6' 3" and the bed was shorter than him but he said it was fine.   The mattress was very firm.  The sheets were smooth and the duvet kept us warm.  The shower had great water flow and ours had a shower wand as well.  The bathtub was very deep, about 18-20 inches, and filled pretty quickly.   I brought some bath salts to soak in knowing we had a tub.   The closet was huge in this room and there were more cabinets and drawers than we could possibly fill.  The room safe worked easily.   We did not use the mini-bar but it was there and stocked.  Food:  Dinners were excellent.  We ate in the main dining room each night.  There were always great choices and the food came with very good presentation and at adequate temperatures.  The worst dinner was actually the one we were looking forward to the most - the lobster tail dinner.  My family all got the lobster tail and it wasn't firm but rather mushy.   The taste was okay but the texture was too odd for our liking.   Lunches at the main dining room were slightly above average.  Lunches at the Windjammer Cafe, a buffet style dining, were average.  We're not very picky so it was great for us.  The food presentation was exquisite, with ice carvings and fruit carvings galore.  The burgers on the ship were really tasty for some reason - so they were a staple for our lunches.  I wished there were more beverage choices while dining - you will get charged for sodas or juices (except breakfast for juices).   Room services choices were few and the food average.  Cafe Promenade sandwiches were average.   We did not eat at Portofino's or Johnny Rockets.  Service:  I have to rate this as Excellent.   All crew, staff and officers we met were service oriented and seemed to genuinely care about the guests and the ship.  There were crew members cleaning, shining, replacing; and fixing parts of the ship 24 hours a day.  The captain wants the ship to appear brand new for each new voyage and that caring atmosphere is obvious.   My husband got to meet the captain and talk with him and he said he was highly impressed.   Entertainment:  The shows were great, the headliners okay.  Don't miss the Love & Marriage gameshow or Quest.  It will be worth your time.  There were soooo many things scheduled to do during the day that we couldn't possibly get to everything that sounded interesting to us.   The children's program is excellent.   After age 12 the kids are under less supervision and are free to come and go from Optix, the teen hangout and disco.   The on-board arcade is enormous even by land based arcade standards.   Disembarkation:  We opted for the self-service option where you carry your own bags off the ship.  The ship was docked and the gangways ready at 8am.   We were off the ship, through customs and in our car before 8:15.   Wow.  So very smooth process.   Not sure how those who had to wait on the ship for their color to be called worked out.  Bermuda Once you've seen Bermuda a first time, the second time doesn't make it better.   The food on the island is not worth mentioning other than 'stay away.'  Everything has to be shipped to the island so the prices are high and the taste pretty low.  The larger cruise ships like the Explorer dock at King's Wharf on the western side of Bermuda.  There is a nice snorkel beach right within walking distance of the docks.   The nice pink sand beach at Horseshoe Beach is not easy to get to and is pretty far from the Wharf.   The fish are not really colorful in Bermuda but the coral reef formations are beautiful.   St. Maarten Beautiful island.  There are pristine beaches very close to the docks in Phillipsburg.   The shopping area is well known and I walked around by myself while the hubby and daughter were fishing.   The shopping district was clean and inviting.  I had heard a lot about the shops at St. Thomas, but in hindsight I like St. Maarten much more.   Don't miss The Yoda Guy's Shop, a one of a kind place.   The water taxi from the pier to the town was 5 minutes - get a day pass for $6.  Be prepared to return before 5pm because that is when the water taxi's typically close for the day.   St. Thomas St. Thomas waters were incredible.   We went on a snuba excursion at Coral Bay.  Never having been scuba diving wasn't an issue - it was easy to pick up.   Highly recommended because the sea life was incredible.  Plus we had heavy showers that day, but that didn't stop us one bit since we were 25 feet below the water level.   The driving and roads in St. Thomas are treacherous.  If you're looking for excitement, get a taxi ride.   The shopping area close to the RCCL pier are okay, but there was a lot of foot traffic and it was not as nice as St. Maarten.  I would not have walked around that area by myself.    We took the skyride to Paradise Point.  It was a nice view, but there's not much at the top, or not as much as the advertisements led us to believe.   Not sure if it was worth the cost but hey, we did it once.  San Juan We docked very near Old San Juan.  On that day, the heat and humidity was oppressive to say the least.   We were scheduled to take a Segway tour of the old city and we were not disappointed.  San Juan has a lot of traffic and bricked roads and hills.  It was by accident that we scheduled a motorized tour for this port without knowing about the roads ahead of time.  It was a great way to see the Old City, get facts and be able to enjoy and listen.  Those that were walking around were exhausted.   Having never ridden on Segways before, they were easy to learn and the staff/guides were excellent - highly recommended.  El Morro fort is living history.  There was graffiti around the walls in places so you've got to wonder how well the country will maintain it, but it dates back to before the 1700s.  I'd like to see some of the jungle/treed areas of Puerto Rico next time. 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Sail Date June 2009
Sailed for my second time on Explorer of the Seas, returned yesterday morning, June 20th from the 9 night Bermuda/Eastern Caribbean.  One word:  disappointment.  I sailed on EOS back in July of 2006 and was so impressed with the ... Read More
Sailed for my second time on Explorer of the Seas, returned yesterday morning, June 20th from the 9 night Bermuda/Eastern Caribbean.  One word:  disappointment.  I sailed on EOS back in July of 2006 and was so impressed with the attentiveness of the staff, the customer service and the extra RCI amenities (at that time, worth it) that this time was a huge disappointment.Before we even begin with the cruise, let's talk about the propeller damage - RCI had changed our itinerary because of propeller damage - to the point where the ports of call were worthless.  I contacted our travel agent and an RCI sales director and made a huge stink - no compensation.  However, we were put on a week-of-sailing upgrade (which I later found out had not been even processed) and provided with a bottle of wine, a magnum of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries on embarkation in Port Liberty.  Nice touches, unfortunately that's where it ended.Let's start off with the cabin, 6666 (no its not a joke, the cabin really does exist).  Your standard D1 balcony stateroom - or so I thought.  3 days into the cruise and the hot water from the bathroom disappears.  First contact with Guest Services and we'll have it fixed right away...wrong.  I receive a call from the desk explaining that Maintenance had checked it out and nothing appears wrong.  OK.2nd day, no hot water again.  Go down to Guest Services, we'll have that fixed right away.  This time, I'm told that there is an issue with the ship that Maintenance is working on and that should resolved our problem.  Next day, hot water returns....should we try for 2 days in a row?  Perhaps not.The very next day the hot water disappears again.  This time we were leaving to tour at port and asked that this be fixed once and for all by 1230 when we returned to the ship.  When I checked back at the desk, they told me the problem had been fixed, which I knew was a lie because I had been back to the stateroom and it was exactly as I left it.  I then started to become a little upset when a guest services officer came up to me (and knew of the issue with my stateroom) and told me that they hadn't even looked at it yet because there was another problem with the ship.  It was at this point that I asked when it became the norm to lie to guests.  There was no apparent answer for that.What it did turn out to be was the regulator inside the wall was not functioning properly which had to be replaced - had they inspected that four days earlier we would not have had the subsequent 3 days worth of problems.And turndown service with chocolates? Wave goodbye, another cost cutting initiative.Let's talk about Dining - staff cutbacks are evident.  The MDR waiters used to be attentive to service, however now they are too busy with additional tables and running for their own food.  With regards to the menu, its obvious the choices have been cut back in favor of fewer options and smaller portions - in fact, some are even laughable in their size.  Midnight buffet?  Elvis left that building a while back - too expensive.Portofino's was excellent - the one bright spot in a food and beverage realm that can best be described with.....a yawn.Embarkation was a snap - disembarking was another story.  We are local to the area and thus have no additional travel needs - which means we are in the dreaded 1030 timeframe for getting off the ship - which only occurred after we were kicked out of our stateroom around 9 because the attendants wanted to get ready for the next set of guests coming on board.  Understandable, but not what we were told by the staff.  (Don't forget that hefty charge for making our driver wait 3 hours to pick us up.)As for the ship, well its 9 years old and there's no denying it.  I have to admit, EOS has a special place in my heart, it was the first ship I ever sailed on it, its practically a New Jersey native and it reminds me of some good times (and yes we had them this time too).  However, like waiting for your spouse at the Ship Shape Spa, you wonder whats taking so long for the makeover.  You have to have a critical eye for these things, but its obvious for a professional.The carpeting is worn, the towels and sheets are worn, cladding around pillars and the elevator banks are showing signs of wear and coming up and numerous ceilings need to be painted.  Many of the beautiful wood banisters and railings are in desparate need of re-varnishing and even the brass and glass around the ship is showing evidence of wear or not being maintained as it once was.  It begs the question, is RCI too focused on the "next big ship" at the expense of its active fleet?Overall, in port and with my family - we had a good time.  What makes it disappointing is that RCI and EOS seem to be fading from glory.  We used to not mind paying the price premium for an RCI cruise because of the amenities, the absolute focus and attention to customer services and the overall experience - but sadly a lot of this seems to have been lost in the quest to be profitable - understanding that RCI is in the business to make money.  I'm betting that their competitors have reduced below their former levels too, but the price's haven't dropped - so what I'm getting is a Carnival cruise at an RCI price - which begs the question, is it worth it? 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Sail Date June 2009
This was our first cruise so we werent sure what to expect - everything turned out to be great. Traveling was myself, DH, 2 neices (16 & 20) brother & sister-in-law. We were not disappointed in any aspect of the cruise.Left out of ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we werent sure what to expect - everything turned out to be great. Traveling was myself, DH, 2 neices (16 & 20) brother & sister-in-law. We were not disappointed in any aspect of the cruise.Left out of Cape Liberty, we arrived at 12:20 and were able to walk right onto the ship after check in. We were eating lunch at the windjammer by 1:00 - it could not have been easier, Right from the beginning everyone was very nice and helpful. The weather was cloudy, windy and a bit cool so leaving the port wasn't as nice as it could of been, but the thougth of being in nice sunny weather got us through. The ship is amazing - the entire time we were on the cruise we saw maintenance crews all over the ship keeping in clean and in good shape.  We had a balcony room which was definetly the way to go for us. We enjoyed watching the ship dock at the various ports and had a little beer bucket get together one evening and a couple of breakfeast's too. There are so many activities on the ship. One of our favorites was the various Trivia games and Darrell one of the cruise staff was hilariouis. We also participated in the rock climbing & inline skating. The food I thought was great - I have read conflicted reports on this but I thought it was pretty good. The windjammer had the best french fries and the wheat sesame hoagies were so good ! The Cafe Promedane has the best croissant sandwhiches that just melt in your mouth as well as the yummy cookies. I miss those already ! The balcony was roomy enough for 4 people to share a couple of drinks and plenty spacious enough for 2 people having breakfeast. Plenty of storage space in the cabin. Beds very comfortable and the room was very clean. The first stop was Bermuda - and based on the advice of the members of cruise critics - we went to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It was as beautiful as everyone described - we liked is especaily compared to the other beaches at the other ports because you have the ocean waves as compared to the bays where its more calm. We took the bus to the beach and got our tokens at the bus stop in the tourist store. St. Marteen was next and I was surprised that once you got beyond the shopping district how poor the country was. The shopping is great very very inexpensive and lots of bargainning can be done. We went to Orient Beach and I have to say this was the only disappoinment on the trip. I didn't think it was very clean - Lots of people trying to sell you stuff on the beach which didnt bother me - saw some nudity but no big deal.St. Thomas was amazing - we woke up that morning looked out our balcony and we were already there - that was nice. The town is very pretty and some good shopping there as well. We went to Megans Bay and the ride itself is an adventure. The view from the top of the mountian was stunning. Our traveling mates went to Coki Beach for snorkeling and they said is was beautiful as well.San Juan we docked at night 10:30 pm - -we did go into the town but there were throngs of young people and alot of police presence so we did not stay out long. The next day went to the forts which was well worth it. We pulled out at 11:30am so we didn't have much time.Portofino's is not to be missed - the food and service is something special and we really enjoyed it. At the end of the meal I got the dessert sampler - the tirimsu was the best I ever tasted - next time I am getting that exclusively.We got off the ship at 8:45 and were at our cars by 9:30 on our way home. The warehouse was a little crazy with all the luggage - a couple of lessons learned there for the future.We had such a fabulous time and am already planning the next trip - sadly it wont be for 2 more years -  I would defintely recommend the Explorer of the Seas - from the staff to the ship and everything in between. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Went on the 9 night Bermuda and eastern/southern caribbean cruise on Explorer. Our group included 2 diamond members, and 4 gold members in the C&A. Before departing we discovered via Cruise Critic of the damage to the ship. Also RCL ... Read More
Went on the 9 night Bermuda and eastern/southern caribbean cruise on Explorer. Our group included 2 diamond members, and 4 gold members in the C&A. Before departing we discovered via Cruise Critic of the damage to the ship. Also RCL had notified us of the C&A program changes and communication has been made with appropriate management about the unacceptable changes. Enough with the background off to the cruise.We are from the NY/NJ/PA area so we drove up the day of and had a friend drop us off at the port. Bayonne is Bayonne, being from there it's standard but the Russian monument for 9/11 is great and there are good views of the city on a good day. Unfortunately we left in fog and rain, but alas that was our worst weather.We began our cruise with lunch in the Windjammer. Standard fare. I for one miss the grill feature of the older ships. Just my opinion nothing wrong with the indoor grill, but prefer the poolside grill. The windjammer food was average with a better dessert selection than the dining many nights.  After lunch we all checked out our cabins and unpacked. The group had 2 balcony rooms and an interior stateroom. The cabins were adequate although the balconys needed to be touched up.The food at dinner was ok at best. The menu was limited, one steak, one pasta, a fish and 2 vegetarian entrees an evening. Of course the alternate menu was always available. One night in the dining room, the menu presented filet of beef tenderloin. It turned out to be 2 slices of london broil. We have also noticed the portions are smaller and it is now a 3 course meal instead of 4 courses. Another old touch that is missed is the after dinner cordial or as we call it the shot tray. We just miss the little RCL shot glasses with that nights concoction. The service was spectacular from our waiter and assistant waiter. The head waiter simply made rounds. We found the wine package to be a good investment, especially as our evenings were Concierge Club, Dinner, back to the club. Yong in the CC lounge is fantastic. We had a great group and will miss this if our membership is not grandfathered come September. More on this to come.The lunches in the dining room were fantastic. The salad station offered great variety and there were many appealing choices despite the menu being on a two to three day rotation. Breakfast for us was the Windjammer and repetitive by choice. The selection was good and the food hot so it is what it is.We also had dinner at Portofino's one evening. The food is excellent but 2 and a half hours of eating is just gorging for us. What the dining room lacks in portion and presentation Portofinos more than makes up. Service here again was impeccable.After dinner we did trivia and the shows. We're not gamblers so no idea if the tables were hot.Being well-read learned types we finished near the top in each round of trivia and despite missing a round almost won the Ultimate Trivia.The shows were pretty good. Some of the dancer lacked enthusiasm but many of the staff were approaching the end of their contracts. This was extremely noticeable with the cruise director's staff. We do not mind the staff having fun but for the staff to be openly drinking heavily is inappropriate. There were other shenanigans beside the drinking but we'll write that off to kids being kids and their contracts being up. This cruise was a slightly above average cruise for us. The reason for this being above average was the attentive nature of our waitstaff, Merrick and Henri, our cabin stewards, Winston and Franklin and Yong, the concierge lounge attendant. The reason this cruise was not excellent is the lack of variety for food, lack of food/snacks, in the sports bar and English pub, the disinterest of the cruise director's staff and the little cutbacks. The cutbacks were the chocolates on the pillows, the cordials, the smaller portions, and the drink of the day not being pre-poured. These are minor cutbacks but signify a shift in the cruise lines attitude. Historically the cruise is an almost all-inclusive vacation with constant attention. Now we're seeing this change. THe most noteable change is the treatment of the loyalty programs members. As discussed elsewhere on cruise critic and in e-mails and postings by RCL, the diamond members are being excluded from the concierge club. Our disagreement is not in the paying for our drinks but the loss of camraderie. The CC represents a place to re-connect with old friends and meet new ones. Now it will take our group another 10 years at least to re-gain the treatment we believed we had earned through our past loyalty with RCL. For the first time in a long time our multi-generational group is considering other lines and alternate vacations. RCL you have a fantastic product and a loyal customer base. Treat us with the dignity and respect we deserve. We have graciously forked over tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to sail with you. We earned our benefits and wish to keep them. Keep up the good work your doing and return to your greatness. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Spent time in New York before the cruise at Hilton Garden Inn - recommended, good location, friendly staff, nice rooms & not over priced (like some NY hotels) Ended the stay at the Westin, Times Sq which i wouldn't recommend ... Read More
Spent time in New York before the cruise at Hilton Garden Inn - recommended, good location, friendly staff, nice rooms & not over priced (like some NY hotels) Ended the stay at the Westin, Times Sq which i wouldn't recommend unless you get a good deal - overpriced, unfriendly and impersonal, although very nice rooms. I was told the Hampton Inn was good (it's in a great location) Got a car to 'Port Liberty' - (given some of the reviews wasn't as busy or as ugly as i expected and it was a pretty efficient process getting on the boat) TIP we arranged a car to take us from the hotel - superb, charged £75 dollars, but no comparison to the smelly yellow cab we used from Jeff to Manhattan. The car can be booked via the Hampton Inn Hotel. You will not be disappointed, felt like we had a chauffeur (he was suited, efficient & friendly) Car was big and immaculate (kids loved it). Importantly we asked him to pick us up when we get off the boat. Unless you get a car you could be there for up to an an hour waiting for a cab. The ship initially seemed very similar to the Navigator, which we cruised on last year - public areas, lay out etc were fine. However importantly and disappointingly the cabin was a bit tired particularly the bathroom. This was in contrast to the Navigator, where we were thrilled with the condition of the cabin. It wasn't dirty, but had just seen better days and when you pay big money i think you want a cabin that makes you very happy (which i wasn't) I'm told it's being refitted but not sure of the details. Please note we lost about a day and half each way to the weather, otherwise virtually always sunny - so factor this in if thinking of cruising from NY. I'm sure the Summer is fine, but during the Winter would be questionable in my opinion (you'd be better flying down to Miami after NY) On the final full day we had what our waitress described as the worst weather she'd ever known (8 years working on the ship on the same routes) Force 9 gale, not great - most stayed in the cabin. Bit disconcerting and obviously unable to do much - ship was going up about 30 feet or so ..... It was evident that the ship was 'full' ... Windjammer very crowded at 9AMish and tough to get seated at times. Also around half the boat was from the UK, which did alter the 'mood' of the ship a little and would have preferred a better balance.(i'm a Brit, but hope you know what i mean) Like Navigator the year before i expected about 200! Service, food good although the evening menu got better as the cruise went on, which i thought was a bit 'obvious' Entertainment was pretty good, full orchestra and some decent singers / entertainers. Not enough running machines (about 12) which wound me up particularly as there always seemed to be a couple broken. Great beaches at St Thomas and Antiqua - did River tubing at Dominica, pretty good but over an hrs drive either way up dodgy roads with a few steep drops. Got on a snorkeling tour at St Martin, kids enjoyed ... but with the abundance of rum punch it turned in to a 'booze cruise' Other than that we had a great family holiday ... but it's Florida for me from now on (or Summer in Europe)on a new or nearly new ship Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was our sixth cruise and our fifth with Royal Caribbean International but our first on Explorer of the Seas although we have sailed on one of her sister ships before. The holiday got off to a bad start when we found that although we ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise and our fifth with Royal Caribbean International but our first on Explorer of the Seas although we have sailed on one of her sister ships before. The holiday got off to a bad start when we found that although we were in a group of six we had been allocated separate seats on our flight from Heathrow. On arrival at Newark Airport it took 2 hours to get thorough customs/immigration. Whilst I understand the reasons for this I would never fly to the USA again. The transfer arrangements from the Sheraton Hotel to Bayonne were shambolic! It two hours by coach but once we arrived at the port we were soon on the ship. Our suite was very nice, spacious and with excellent facilities. Edward our cabin steward looked after us splendidly. Other plus points were the Theatre Shows, activities, Room Service, the Windjammer buffet (although a little busy at times) and the general appearance of the ship although we prefer the more open style of the Vision class. The use of the Concierge lounge was welcome it being a little oasis in a busy ship (except at happy hour). We partiularly enjoyed the quizzes (coming second in the ongoing Ultimate Quiz) and found many nice bars especially the 19th Hole where Dindo looked after us every night. Of the ports we enjoyed St Thomas, St Maarten, Barbados, St Kitts and Dominica. We did not go ashore in Puerto Rico or Antigua. One of the down sides was the restaurant dinner service which was shambolic. Long waits between courses, wrong meals, wrong menus, poor presentation of meals, poorer quality of food etc. Other general gripes included poor behavior by unsupervised children, high noise levels, poor port and transfer arrangements and increased prices for drinks particularly wine. We enjoyed our excursions on Barbados, Dominica and St Maarten and these remain good value for money. Generally the crew was friendly as usual and the Gold Seapass was an exellent innovation. To sum up we enjoyed our cruise but next time we cruise the Caribbean we would look for a departure port outside the USA. We would also be tempted to try another Cruise company next time as we have noticed a steady decline in RCI during the last 4 years.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Cabin - we had a junior suite and were really pleased with it. It felt light and airy and had lots of storage space - the walk in wardrobe was excellent and we had more than enough storage space for all of our things. It was nice having ... Read More
Cabin - we had a junior suite and were really pleased with it. It felt light and airy and had lots of storage space - the walk in wardrobe was excellent and we had more than enough storage space for all of our things. It was nice having the tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin and we hadn't had this on previous cruises. Kenneth our room steward was excellent and the cabin was always kept clean and plenty of clean towels. We had towel animals every night and I was pleased that these hadn't been cut back Food - I was really pleased with all of the food on offer and think that this was probably the best food that we have had on any cruise. The food in the dining room was always hot and our waiters Max and Onur always made sure that we were served quickly and would remember our preferences eg how we liked our steak cooked etc. We shared a table with Patty and Eileen who were great dinner companions. We also had lunch in the dining room a couple of times and this was really good. The salad bar was excellent and you included plenty of shrimp, chicken, smoked salmon bacon etc so you always had really interesting food although the portions were huge! We often had breakfast in our room and the room service was always on time and it was great to sit on the balcony as the ship came into the ports. Although, if we were hungry we would go into the windjammer. We always got a seat in the WJ but you would have to look around for a few minutes first if you were there at busy times. Had dinner in the WJ twice and I was really pleased with the selection - we had all of the food on offer in the dinning room plus curries, pizza, pasta, wok etc which was good. The deserts were less exciting than in the dining room. The food on offer in jade the asian part of WJ was excellent and the sushi was particularly good. We used the Cafe Promenade less than on other cruises and this could be because we now had the kettle in the cabin. The snacks on offer here were limited but it was a nice place to grab a coffee and a cookie. Entertainment - the ice shows were excellent and I am amazed that they manage to do this whilst the ship is moving so much. The music around the ship was plentiful and you would always find something that you liked, we liked the aquarium bar with the salsa music and watching the people dance. The casino was always entertaining and it was good that they had no smoking nights in there as well. We didn't go to the shows in he theatre but others said that they were very good. The trivia quizzes and game shows were good and it is worth making time to see the parades on the promenade - although these were very short and only lasted about 10 mins. Pools - we used the solarium pool and we always managed to find a bed. The pool attendant was excellent and would remove towels from beds that hadn't been used for an hour. This soon stopped people saving the beds and meant that you would always find something. Towels for the pool were plentiful although I was amazed when some people took 6 towels per person! Hottubs were often full as people would sit in there for hours at a time chatting, however the one in the spa was usually free and was very hot - a nice haven on sea days when it was windy Spa - we usually use the spa but this time found it far too expensive. This is partly to do with the exchange rate but also to do with the price increase. This meant that the spa was usually empty and there appeared to be more consultants standing at stalls outside windjammer and on the promenade selling their products that actually had any clients in the spa. General re the ship - it was very clean. All of the staff were excellent and people were very polite and helpful. The captain seemed to be everywhere and was very personable and seemed to really enjoy doing the meeting and greeting as well as running the ship! The loyalty ambassador was very poor and when we tried to book another cruise she was more interested in talking about her than helping us. Although the ship was full there was always plenty of space and plenty of seats around. The passengers on the whole were also the most friendly we have come across and everyone seemed to want to have fun. There were three formal nights and the majority of people dressed up. People watching was always good fun! The age range was everything from very young to old but the average age was probably a little older than on other ships. Bayonne - not the prettiest of ports but it was exciting going under the bridge, you can't believe that the ship can actually get under the bridge there certainly isn't much space to spare. We had arranged a car to pick us up in manhattan at 11am and we were on the ship by 12.30. We did have to queue for half an hour to check in but then walked straight onto the bus to get on the ship. Getting off wasn't great. We were sent to the priority area for diamond members in the Maharajas lounge and were due to get off at 9.15. Some people had to stand as there wasn't enough seats and it took us over two hours to get off the ship - most of the wait was actually waiting for buses to turn up. Once you got off the bus it only took us 15 minutes to get our cases and go through customs which was very quick. Sea days - we had two sea days at the beginning of the cruise and these were fine, not too much motion and plenty of sun. A word of warning that because it was quite windy on the top deck people didn't realize how hot it was so there were plenty of red and patchy suntans in the evening! The last three days were also sea days but the weather was quite rough and we diverted slightly to avoid a storm close to the Bahamas. This meant that the sea swells caused the boat to rock plenty and some people had real problems walking around. Personal choice but I wouldn't want to do as many sea days in a row again if the weather isn't good, its fine if you can be around the pool but if it is too cold to go outside it does spoil it. Ports of call Puerto Rico - having been before we just walked around the old town and did some shopping. There are a number of cheap shops offering well known brands at discount prices so worth a visit (handbags at Coach were 75% cheaper than on offer at Heathrow). It was nice sitting and having a drink in the sun watching life around you. We went back ont he ship for dinner but some people did take advantage of being in port until 11pm. St Thomas Took a cab and went into the town a short ride away. You could walk it but it was far too hot for the mile and a half walk. Mostly jewelers and souvenir shops but worth a trip. As we had done the island a few times before we didn't take a trip to the beach but it is easy to do get a taxi for an island tour and trip to the beach and this is much cheaper than the tours on offer on the ship St Marten My favorite island and nice i gi back. We took the water taxi to the beach and stayed there for the morning - the price of the sun beds and umbrella includes 5 drinks as well (you have a choice of bear or soda) and the sea is so warm and clear. Then spent the afternoon shopping which is always a pleasure Dominica Took a taxi and did an island tour which included the trafalgar waterfalls. It is a very pretty island and the people are so friendly, even though they don't have much they ware always keen to stop and chat and tell you all about their island. Barbados We were here on a Sunday so the town and many of the sights were closed. We took a taxi to Rockley beach and spent a wonderful day sunbathing and swimming. Antigua Took a taxi to a wonderful beach the sea was so blue and warm and the sand very white. Would love to return to this island for a longer stay. Had a wonderful holiday on Explorer and added in a stay in New York both pre and post the cruise which really added to the experience. Would recommend the ship to anyone, and enjoyed the itinerary but sailingout of Bayonne which resulted in so many cold / rocky sea days is not something I would rush to do again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We were vacationing with very good friends from New Jersey. They wanted to try a cruise from Bayonne to save the airfare. It made no difference to us as our purpose was spending time with our friends and not specific ports. The vast ... Read More
We were vacationing with very good friends from New Jersey. They wanted to try a cruise from Bayonne to save the airfare. It made no difference to us as our purpose was spending time with our friends and not specific ports. The vast majority of the cruisers were within a 5 hour drive of the port. The benefit besides the plane fare was that by driving they had no luggage restrictions. The 9 night cruise only had 4 ports scheduled and because of reduced speed due to a mechanical problem the time in two ports were adjusted. We set sail at 4 p.m. on a Friday and arrived at our first port on Monday Morning, We left our last port at 11:30 on a Thursday morning and arrived back in Bayonne on Sunday morning. The time in ports was lessened slightly by a mechanical difficulty but even without that we would have only had a part day in San Juan. Because of the number of sea days the activities on ship became important-as well as the ship itself. The explorer does not have a retractable roof over the pool like the Jewel. This means on the first and last full sea days the pool was too cold to be used. On the other two sea daysthe reserved lounge chairs for suite cruisers and the folks who staked our a lounge in the early a.m. left very little for the rest of us. I tried to use the exercise room on several occasions during our sea days but found the equipment to be old and many of the treadmills and bikes were out of order. We did participate in a couple of the crafts, a couple of the Trivia, the Bingo, and roller blading but was disappointed that there wasn't more choice available. We loved the convenience of the coffee shop on the promenade, we loved that the library was actually a usable space and not just the alcove it is on some ships. The roller blading was difficult as you had to contend with the wind. We did find that the casino was busier than on other cruises and that the alcohol consumption appeared to be up. Our sports fanatics were disappointed that only the semifinals of the final 4 were broadcast. The food was excellent-but not always as hot as it should have been. Service was good but not excellent. They did go out of their way to accommodate an extra couple at our dinner table. The request was made pre-cruise but for some reason wasn't acted onon board they shifted around to accommodate us. We were prepared for only 4 ports but felt the choices were poor. Samana left many on the cruise feeling unsafe. For that reason we chose the Cape Levanto excursion through RC. It was a great beach but we did miss the ski dos and parasailing that are usually found on beach vacations. The RC private beach again was very nice but made for two strictly beach days in a rowBy this time we were several shades of burnt and were looking for something out of the sun! In St. Thomas we booked a private sailboat and had a delightful time sailing and snorkeling on St. John's. In San Juan we got there too late to do anything but the clubs and the casino and left too early to fully explore this historic town or even do any real damage to our husband's credit cards. Many on the cruise would have rathered a stop in Bermuda on the way down or to sacrifice Samana so that we could have a full day in both San Juan and St. Thomas. Only those who participated on a CC board new that the ports were adjusted prior to the third day of the cruise. The best thing about the cruise is we did get to spend time with our friends and we made many new ones. Are you cruising for the ship experience than this was a great ship, if you like ports and activities than this was lacking. I feel that there were alternatives that would have let us have both a wider variety of ports and still satisfy those who wanted to save by sailing close from home. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Let me start by saying that this was our first cruise so we did not have anything to compare it to. We made it onto the ship with out any problems. It was March 28th 2008. I was little surprised that when you first get onto the ship ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this was our first cruise so we did not have anything to compare it to. We made it onto the ship with out any problems. It was March 28th 2008. I was little surprised that when you first get onto the ship it's like you are in a basement. Where is the Grand Staircase and the beautiful artwork? Well it is all there, but you certainly do not see immediately upon walking onto the ship. We made it to our inside stateroom and upon opening the door I was just blown away by how small it was. In retrospect there are alot of people on the ship and being our first cruise, I did not know what to expect. Later in the cruise we had an opportunity to see a Junior Suite that a nice couple was staying in across the hall. It was fabulous. We also saw a Deluxe Balcony Room. Also very nice. We actually already had a second cruise booked on the Adventurer, that leaves on Easter Sunday, April 12th 2009. As I am writing this it is 19 days away. We went to the loyalty desk on the ship and spoke to a woman that was very helpful. we were looking to upgrade to the Deluxe Balcony Room for our 2009 cruise and after hearing my complaints about our current room, she highly recommended that we upgrade to a Superior Balcony Room and we took her advise. Our 7 year old daughter will be going with us, so there will be 3 of us in the room. A few more notes about the room. It was so small I had to sit on the bed while my wife got dressed and when you walked into the room you were looking at the foot of the bed. You could not get around the sides of it and had to crawl up from the bottom to get into it. Please, if you have the means get a larger room. On the positive side, maybe we just got lucky, but the room was very quiet the entire time. On a more positive note, after the Muster Drill, we ran up to the Viking Crown Lounge to watch the ship pull out. The view was great and I recommend this if it's cold and wet outside. We ate in the Main Dining Room every night, except the one night we ate at Portofino's. We both felt that the food in the main ding room was great. Although Portofino's was also very nice, we just could not see doing it again, do to the $20 cost per person. I would however recommend that you do it once, especially on a 9 night cruise. Having grown up in NJ and owning a few boats I have a fair amount of time out on the water and was I was a little surprised that the shipped rocked as much as it did. The first night was probably the 2nd or 3rd roughest, which is to be expected because it is the Atlantic. We were watching a show in the main theater and you could hear the waves against the haul of the ship. We thought that all of the shows were good and we were especially impressed with the Ice skating, considering that the ship was rocking a bit. Labadee was great and we enjoyed it the most out of the 4 ports. We heard alot of complaints about Casa Decampo and we were very glad that we had opted for a Catamaran sail and snorkel trip to Catalina Island. We highly recommend this trip if going to this port. Some very good advice is to make sure that you always have something on your feet when going in the water. A boy on this excursion stepped on a sea urchin, which looks like a porcupine and he was in terrible pain with numerous spines sticking out of his foot. St.Thomas was nice, we did not book an excursion. It may be a good idea if you plan on spending alot of time at the beach. I believe you get lunch and a beach chair with the excursion to Magens Bay Beach. We only stayed there long enough to have a drink at the bar that is right on the beach and walk the length of the beach, again very nice. we then took a cab downtown and did some shopping. Puerto Rico was ok, we went to the Bacardi Rum Distillery and Old San Juan City Tour. San Juan was our last port and we pulled out of the port into 40 mile per hour winds and 9 to 12 foot seas. That sounds bad, but the ship is so large it really wasn't as bad as it sounds. In conclusion, we had a fabulous time on the Explorer, the ship was clean, well maintained and the staff was great. Our server seemed to get a little annoyed only one time during the cruise. That was when I ordered my third Lobster Tail on the second formal night. I highly recommend a cruise on a Voyager Class ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Let me preface this review by saying that I have never sailed another line because I love RC. No longer... I read the reviews prior to mine and can't even believe that these cruisers were on the same ship! Although, some of the ... Read More
Let me preface this review by saying that I have never sailed another line because I love RC. No longer... I read the reviews prior to mine and can't even believe that these cruisers were on the same ship! Although, some of the experiences couldn't have been shared because they were in my cabin. This cruise was booked after the last 7-night was ruined by a set of Promenade rooms that were so loud, I didn't sleep for 7-nights. Anyway, I'll begin at the beginning; The first cabin, an Oceanview Stateroom, was dirty when we embarked. How dirty, you may be thinking? Stains on the sheets, a dirty washrag on one of the lamps that is affixed to the wall, fingerprints on the sink and bathroom door that were a color that could have been a color close to blood (but I was hoping it was make-up), the micro-suede on the walls that is decorative was torn and stained (with what I don't want to know). Even the carpet was falling apart. There were magazine inserts still on the floor and greasy handprints on the inside of the cabin door. The grand finale of it all...the room had the stench of Body Odor.... This was the cruise line that I talked up so fervently. So I called guest services and asked them to please come and take a look at the room. They did. And sent the Attendant. They bleached the bathroom, claimed the room hadn't been properly turned over and tried to get rid of the smell. This was a room that previously held the Brady Bunch. The smell never went away...Not hours later. We returned later and they moved us to another room...After accidentally throwing away a personal item that I brought from home with the dirty bedding! I can see how they missed the fingerprints! They had to fix the room and the smell just wouldn't go away, so we were moved after dinner. I do wonder if the other reviews were written by RC employees because the shipped rocked so badly, I was seasick like I have never been! Last year, I was on the Mariner during Hurricane Gustav and it NEVER rocked like this ship! By the way....Other than the room on that cruise, it was AMAZING! Oh, did I mention the missing piece of propeller that apparently has NOTHING to do with the ship's functioning? That's right....I was told that the change in our itinerary was an experiment and had NOTHING TO DO with the broken PROP! The toilets didn't flush right because the vacuum system was malfunctioning. So you could press the button, but everything would just stay there. For about 10 minutes. That happened 2 days in a row. The air system was backing up so that the air smelled like fecal material in various parts of the ship at different times of the day. My room (the new one) smelled like poo at 2:30 AM and woke me up out of a dead sleep. When I called guest relations the girl comes down and opens the bathroom door and says "You're right, it's not coming from the bathroom." Really, Einstein....Thanks for that. It was coming from our air system. My husband, who is an EMT saw a gentleman fall outside of the Windjammer because there are no handrails and the SMOOTH marble floor was wet, and it took 15 minutes for the wheelchair to arrive. Meanwhile, the staff was standing around and my husband was on the floor with the poor guy! The dining room was a nightmare...The worst service I've ever had. My saving grace was Toumi! That's why I'm positive that one of the reviews was written be an employee...I am great with names and I can't see spending my whole vacation writing down first and last names.... Thank you to Toumi, my Head Waiter....I have life threatening food allergies that RC failed to forward to the ship. Toumi took care of it after a disastrous first night. My husband and I sat for 30 minutes with no service at all. I think we got served water. I walked out after that. I would have swam home after that. Oh, and the "State of the Art Fitness Center". Maybe for 1982. Plus, half of the treadmills weren't working. I gave up even trying to run the ship rocked so much. It was almost comical most days. I couldn't even enjoy the Enrichment Lectures because lights were flickering and doors were opening and shutting on their own because of the ship rocking and shuddering. This is the middle of the ship....2nd deck...That's the most stable part! The pool was closed down at one point....We got 3 hours in Puerto Rico (but RC will claim that it's a whole port day because we docked overnight:). I don't know about you, but I still consider it a foreign country and am not going out after dark! They delivered our rum to the room that we originally had. When no one was in it, they took it back to the shop and didn't make an effort to try and figure out where it went. We had to get dressed (this was the night before departure) and go to the promenade to pick it up with our receipt from the first night...Thank goodness I keep things! The Guest Relations Managers are blatant fabricators... 1. The passengers should have been told that we were leaving Puerto Rico half a day early prior to the cruise. It wasn't news to them...They knew it. 2. The prop was broken and the ship sailed anyway. RC claims that it doesn't affect the functioning of the ship. If that were true, why did we need an extra half day? 3. I was told that the ship was only going to rock from NJ to FL. Anyone on that ship can tell you it rocked 90% of the time. The other 10% it was stationary. 4. RC needs to take responsibility for it's neglect in this case. 5. One of my tablemates was medically evacuated in St Thomas. There were 3 ambulances waiting in NJ....Coincidence? I have photos that are being printed and video of the ship. RC offered me the standard 25 % future cruise certificate. I said that I would be happy if they would take the Explorer out of the water and make her safe. My Nana could have been one of those who fell. I'm sure that the gentleman that my husband helped is someone's Grandpa. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
This was our eighth cruise with RCCL,our first on the Explorer out of Cape Liberty.We live in PA.,one and a half hours from the port.We initially were planning to drive but thanks to a Cruise Critic review stating the daily parking fee had ... Read More
This was our eighth cruise with RCCL,our first on the Explorer out of Cape Liberty.We live in PA.,one and a half hours from the port.We initially were planning to drive but thanks to a Cruise Critic review stating the daily parking fee had gone up to $19/day we did the math and decided to take the RCCL bus for $100/person and leave the hassle to the bus driver. The bus picked us up at a stop 15 min. from our house, the only passengers from this location.We joined four others who were already onboard from the Harrisburg,PA area so we left 30 minutes early,11AM, with plenty of room on a 56 passenger bus ! We arrived at Cape Liberty about 12:30 but sat in the parking lot for almost an hour.There are no separate car and bus lanes so it really was slow moving.We then stood in line for another 20 min.to get to the Platinum level registration line.From there it was quick.Our stateroom was ready,so we dropped off our carry-on luggage and headed to the Windjammer for a very late lunch. Our balcony stateroom was pleasant with plenty of storage space.The queen size bed was quite comfortable.Unfortunately there was an adjoining door and we really could hear the guests in the next room alot.In fact by the third morning after being awakened by the loud TV at 6:30 AM I called them about it and they did turn it down for the remaining days.I certainly will check about an adjoining door when I book the next cruise.There was a shower door so I didn't need to use the clothes pins I had brought to weigh down a shower curtain. The stateroom attendant was efficient but pretty invisible.Our only complaint was we never received our Platinum books or the invitation to the Meet & Mingle.Fortunately we new about both and knew to question it at guest relations. We had late dining on the third level dining room at the balcony rail,nice location.We had a table for eight but only one couple came consistently until two more joined us on the fourth night at their request since no one showed up at their table ever. The service and food was excellent. My only complaint was about the steak oscar. The crab was the fake kind.I feel if the real thing can't be used it shouldn't be offered.We didn't purchase the $14.99 steak that's being offered now or go to Portofino's. We've been cruising atleast yearly for the past 10 yrs.and can see subtle changes but nothing to prevent us from continuing to cruise.There is now a $3.95 charge for roomservice between 12-6AM,no Q-Tips,etc.in the bathrooms. Johnny Rockets was fun and we took advice from a review and went early on the second day at sea.We didn't know tickets were being given out on boarding day for the ice show so our only choice was to show up 15 min.before and hope to get in which we never did.We had seen the ice show last year on the Voyager.I would recommend seeing one. We only saw one show,Glenn Smith, who we had seen 10 yrs. ago on the Vision in Alaska.He still was entertaining and had added a few new things in his act. We enjoyed the Promenade,especially the cafe where we could get a late lunch or snack in the afternoon.Never could get an iced coffee, the ice machine was broken the whole trip.We were disappointed that there were no smoking areas in all the lounges but we adapted. We had fun in the casino coming out ahead $700 above what we had budgeted ,plus a tee-shirt. These were all new ports of call for us.We had picked out the side trips at home,filled out the paperwork on boarding day and dropped it in the box eliminating standing in line! We did a bus tour in San Juan and enjoyed Fort San Cristobal then walked around Old Town and did some shopping. It is worth going to the shopping program and talking to the expert if you're looking for something specific .His VIP cards saved me 5-20%.I didn't purchase the shopping guide this time but it was useful our last cruise,especially in Cozumel. We took an island cab to Megan's Bay in St.Thomas at $16/person round trip with a four dollar entrance fee at the beach which was cheaper than booking onboard.There are nice shops and eateries at the port so we didn't cab it to town.To do the beach and shop in one day makes the day full. We had booked Cayo Leventado in the Dominican Republic.The tender ride to the island was well organized and fun.The water was too cold to swim but the beach was pretty. We paid $6 to get better chaise lounges than the free plastic ones.We forgot about taking a ship prepared picnic lunch so we had to buy a mediocre lunch there.There is a small straw market and I bought a nice Larimar silver pendent at a good price after much bartering.We heard mixed reviews about Samana. Labadee had a huge straw market with very aggressive vendors.If you have the patience to barter there are some lovely carved wooden pieces.The buffet offered by the ship was standard fare.We decided to return to the ship and enjoy the quiet Solarium rather than deal with the crowded beach. It was great having two days at sea to relax after four days of island hopping.There is a nice quiet area beyond Johnny Rockets with chase lounges few people seem to use. As Platinum members we were assigned to the Maharaja lounge where coffee,juice and danish was available[on paper plates and cups,another subtle change] on disembarkation day.We went there at 7:30 and missed the crowded elevators and got a comfortable area to sit.We were told we'd all have a private escort off the ship.At 9:30 our luggage color was called and we were told to go to the diningroom at the other end of the ship where we had to stand another 30min i the hall! We were told that happened because we were bus transfers.Still don't understand why we couldn't have stayed where we were and be called from there.So much for a Platinum member perk.Porters are easily available,our bus left in no lines and we were at our home in less than two hours. We certainly will consider this itinerary again and are looking at the 12 day cruise to the Southern Caribbean from Cape Liberty next year. Not having to fly to a port is great. We only wish RCLL would return to the Port of Philadelphia for Bermuda. We went last fall and plan to go in Oct. with NCL but we prefer RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
This is the first cruise for my family. My family consists of myself, husband and 2 sons. My mom and sister also came along. We travelled with 2 other families. The also had 2 kids each. Day 1 - Getting on the ship was easy. I ... Read More
This is the first cruise for my family. My family consists of myself, husband and 2 sons. My mom and sister also came along. We travelled with 2 other families. The also had 2 kids each. Day 1 - Getting on the ship was easy. I had alot of anxieties due to not know what to expect but it was so quick and simple. We went through security and then to the counters to get our sea passes. Then we waited for a shuttle bus to take us to the ship. That took about 10 minutes. Once on the ship, it was almost 1:30, we went straight to our cabin. It's an inside cabin so it's small, but it was fine for us. We just needed a clean and comfortable place to sleep and shower. We than went to the WJ for lunch. Food was very good. Dinner in the Dining room and we met Nick (head waiter) and Jing (assist waiter). They were both very nice. Day 2 - Woke up sick. The boat was rocking all night. I had to take Bonine and 2 hour nap to get over it. This was a full day at sea, but since we were near the Carolina's it was still cold. We went to a comedy show and had dinner at the WJ. It was formal night in the dining room and I was ready for dressing up. Day 3 - Another full day at sea. Took my Bonine right away and was OK. It was sunny and alot warmer. We were able to hang out by the pool. My kids are teenagers so they were by the teen lounge and arcade. Hardly saw them. Saw the ice show and it was very nice. We had dinner in the dining room. Food was very good. Day 3 - Labadee Haiti. This was a great beach location. We had plenty of sun and the water was gorgeous. I had snorkel gear but the water was too cloudy due to dredging (building docks nearby). I liked that the market was in one area and if you didn't want to shop no one bothered you to buy something. My older son and husband did the flight line and they loved it. It looked great too. Dinner in the dining room. Went to see a comedy show. It was hilarious. Day 4 - Samana, DR. We wanted to see the waterfalls but not pay the expensive cruise price for this excursion. We found a tour guide near the market place and he took 14 of us in a van to a very nice waterfall. ($120 for all 14 of us. The cruise price would have been approx $120 per family). The tour guide then took us to a beach. We were not too happy about the place he took us because it was full of people trying to sell us something. Even if you told them no, they would still try to sell you something else. This was a really big pain the a**. We only stood there for about 2 hours (mostly waiting for some food we ordered). We went back to the boat and ate at the WJ for dinner. Too tired to dress for dinner. We went to a show and it was very entertaining. Day 5 - St. Thomas. We got off the boat and went shopping for an hour and then paid a taxi to take us to a beach. We went to Coki Beach near the Coral Aquarium. The beach was nice but again it was crowded and there were people trying to sell you something. They were nicer when you said no thank you than in DR. We went back to the ship and relaxed by the pool. Had dinner in the dining room. We went see another comedy show. Again it was very good. Night 5 and day 6 - Puerto Rico. We left St. Thomas around 5:30 and got PR around 10 pm that night. We went out to check out San Juan, but everything was closed. Day 6 - We had until 11 am to walk around San Juan. It went by very quickly. Got back to the ship and we were sailing away by noon. We went the pool and hot tub. Day 7 - Full day at sea. We just relaxed by the pool and played some games. My sons were rock wall climbing, inline skating, ice skating, playing ping pong, mini golf. Loads of stuff. It was formal night so we got all dressed up and took some family pics. They came out great. Day 8 - Full day at sea. Started to get cool out. Still able to go to the pool and hot tub, but by afternoon is was much cooler. Dinner at the dining (lobster night) and went see the Farewell show. (singing dancing and comedy). Packed everything up and and placed our bags outside the room. (we were tagged gray and had a disembarkment for 9:15 am next day. Day 9 - We got up early to eat breakfast and get ready to disembark. At 8:30 we were by the Maharaja Lounge and they called our color around 9:25 - 9:30. We were off the ship very quickly and customs only took about 10 minutes. I was home in NY by 10:30 am. Overall, service was excellent. Food was good. Entertainment was excellent. My kids had a great time (which is very important to any parent). We went to the casino every night. Won some and lost some. Pretty much even. We also went to the Chamber and danced the night way. Lots of fun. My husband used the gym everyday and he said the gym was pretty good. For a first time cruise we had an excellent time and would definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Prior to this cruise I read many reviews from various sites and (to tell you the honest truth) was not looking forward to this cruise aboard the Explorer of the Seas. Well I learned very quickly not to believe everything you read. This ... Read More
Prior to this cruise I read many reviews from various sites and (to tell you the honest truth) was not looking forward to this cruise aboard the Explorer of the Seas. Well I learned very quickly not to believe everything you read. This cruise by far was our best yet. We started our adventure from the Poconos about 10:30 am and arrived at the port at about 1:00 pm (after getting lost in sight of the ship). At 1:00 pm there were no long lines leading to the luggage drop-off tent as other reviews have indicated. We took a limo service so we did not have to contend with parking. Proceeded to the end of the line entering the terminal for the embarkation process. First was security screening, then to the next line (organized by your stateroom floor) where you presented your online registration form and credit card payment information. Proceeded with your SeaPass Card to the picture taking line and finally to the buses which shuttles you to the ship. The entire process took 1 hour from luggage drop-off to ship's entry. Checked out our room and was quite pleased at its cleanliness and dEcor. Plenty of closet and drawer space and plenty of room under the bed for our luggage. Proceeded to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. It was a little difficult finding a table but this was to be expected. After lunch checked our room to find our luggage had arrived. Our stateroom attendant, Garnet, dropped by to introduce himself and to find out if we had any personal needs. Over the next nine days we became very attached to Garnet. Friendly, personable, efficient, warm, wonderful are just a few words to describe this extraordinary individual. Our room was always spotless, always stocked with ice and our favorite drinks and the towel animals which greeted us each evening were just precious. We ate most of our meals at the Windjammer as we like to dress very casual. Again, the waiters and assistants were always friendly and very helpful. Being somewhat of a gourmet cook, I considered the quality of the food to be excellent with plenty of variety every day to please everyone. Another nicety was the Cafe Promenade. Good coffee, tea, sandwiches, pizza, pastry, cookies and fruit were available 24 hrs a day (at no extra cost). Our request for a small table in the main dining room was honored even though we only dined there a few times. We preferred the flexibility of the Windjammer rather than a fixed seating time. Since we are still enjoying the cruising experience more than the shore excursions, we only go ashore for shopping and a little sight seeing rather than sunbathing or activities requiring a lot of physical exertion. Disembarking was a breeze even though it got a little hectic because there were many early arrivers for the next cruise. In conclusion, we had a fabulous time on the Explorer. The ship was beautiful and not run down as some reviews have indicated. It was well maintained and spotless and the staff was A-1, first class. Additionally, the friendliness and conduct of the other passengers was amazing. The younger passengers were also well behaved and friendly. It was so nice hearing people say please and thank you, excuse me, hello, good morning, etc. This was not the case on our other two cruises. We were so impressed with RCI and the Explorer of the Seas that we have booked a 12-night Southern Caribbean cruise for Nov/Dec this year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
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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