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

This was probably one of our top 3 cruises to date. This was our fourth time on the Explorer of the Seas and our next cruise in September 2014 to Canada and New England will also be on the Explorer. Yes, the ship shows its age and lack of ... Read More
This was probably one of our top 3 cruises to date. This was our fourth time on the Explorer of the Seas and our next cruise in September 2014 to Canada and New England will also be on the Explorer. Yes, the ship shows its age and lack of recent refurbishment, but true beauty comes from all facets! The Explorer crew is one of the nicest, best crews we have experienced recently. The Cruise Director, Leigh, is really personable and his staff all seemed to enjoy his or her job. Our stateroom attendance, Charles, was also very good. He was never intrusive and always spoke when he saw us and any request was met with I will take care of that and he followed through. Subjective as it is, the food in our opinion was good to great. We ran into a couple things that were on the bland side, but most everything else was cooked perfectly and tasted great. I love the cold soups and was not disappointed at all. In the dining room, our waiter Benjamin from the Philippines was the most efficient, personable waiter we have had in quite a long time. Ray, the assistant waiter, ensured all the glasses were full and we had bread if we wanted it. The ultimate highlight of the cruise was Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was exquisite. The individual pumpkin pie was perfect. If I could have eaten two plates, I would have ordered another it was that good. Exceptional. The only hiccup we experienced was in Portofino. The waiter, Alex, seemed to have received more tables at once that he could handle and unfortunately, my wife and I were the recipients of the poor service as a result. He has several tables with officers and seemed to ensure he catered to them before paying attention to us. We sat one time 30 minutes between courses…thank goodness it was desert or it would have been cold! The fillet I received was cooked medium to medium well and I asked for medium rare. When I showed this to Alex, he argued with me that I was mistaken. Trust me, I know when a steak is over cooked and this one was, I don’t need a waiter to tell me I am wrong. He never offered to have it replaced nor did he apologize in any way shape or form. I always tip extra at Portofino, but I have to admit this time, he received very, very little in extra tip. Weather in the ports was great, though it did rain every morning at every port, but it’s the Caribbean in November, what can you do! Seas were a little rough going down and back, but with the fronts coming off the coast, the ship was more stable than I expected, so that was positive. Overall, a GREAT cruise and it we would put it in our top 3 favorite cruises to date. Thank you for reading. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This is only our second cruise, so by no means are we an expert. My expectations on RCI were set a little high as it was going to be a good size ship and sailing for 9 days. Plenty of time to be pampered. Over all it was OK to good. We ... Read More
This is only our second cruise, so by no means are we an expert. My expectations on RCI were set a little high as it was going to be a good size ship and sailing for 9 days. Plenty of time to be pampered. Over all it was OK to good. We had a good time. Our steward (Danny) was great. He kept our room clean, kept my ice bucket filled and even taught us how to make the little towel animals. Most of the other staff were good too. From a staff point of view the problems were minor. The hall ways in the sleeping areas always were partially blocked with cleaning supplies at just about all hours of the day. Carts, trash, vacuums etc were always in the hallways. I saw them occasionally on Carnival, but not all day long. The other issue was that the dining room staff had little regards to the passengers. Constantly cutting us off as we walked to and from the dining tables. Several times I almost dumped my food or drink because of it. I will say there was no pushiness on the sales staff and they were always willing to help. Food was a big disappointment, both in the main dining area and the buffet. When you talk to most people the first thing they talk about is the FOOD. In this case it is also the FOOD that was at the top of my mind. But not because it was so good, but the fact that is was so mediocre. In the dining room the food was about what I would expect in a diner, but more limited in selections. The quality was also nothing to write home about. In the nine days of dining, I cannot think of one meal that was exceptional. Deserts were disappointing and on several nights, I skipped the deserts as nothing was appealing to me. Breakfast was probably the best of the meals and menus. Lots of fruits and a good selection of cereals and breakfast foods. Quality was good as well. HOWEVER, coffee sucked! I haven't had coffee this bad since I was in the service. It was STRONG, Bitter and lacked flavor. I did find that if I added whipped cream to it from the fruit bar, that it was OK. Lunch was nothing to write home about. The menu was limited and mainly consisted of pasta and other low cost items. Water, Ice Tea and Lemonade were the only free drinks available. Sodas were extra or required a purchase of a drink package. For some reason teaspoons were not readily available and had to be asked for when needed. Splenda was in short supply. Entertainment was good. The acts were worth while seeing. Some of them were scheduled late (10 PM or later) so we didn't see them all. They did have a sailing away party one night but it was way too late for us with the arrival in port the next morning. There was a problem at one port with getting everyone off in time. Something to do with docking of the tender boats. We missed our scheduled excursion. Since we hadn't prepaid for it, there wasn't any lost. In fact the highlight of the trip was an excursion with "Tour Samana with Terry". They provided a private tour for us that we would have never been able to match with RCI sponsored tours. It will be the 'talk' of our cruise for years to come. We stopped at San Juan for about 5 hours on a late Sunday afternoon. Shops were closed and our tour was pretty much a joke. The stop at the fort being the only worthwhile stop. Next we stopped at St Thomas. Pretty nice trip. We did our own thing here. Found lots of tour options once you get off the ship and saved some money as well. Samana was our third stop. No dock here so you take shuttle boats to the island. That was where the problem was delaying us from getting off the boat so we missed out scheduled tour. Again Terry and his crew saved the day. Our final stop was on a RCI owned resort. Basically a big ripoff. You pay for just about everything. Water at $4.50 a bottle, no soda, all the shops are keyed to selling you as much as possible. Got to the point we walked in the middle of the street and didn't pay any attention to the calls to come in and shop. Lunch was about par for what was on the ship. Drinks in the bars are not our think, however, I do occasionally like to have a Kalula and Cream. We went to one of the bars to listen to some music on our second night at sea. I ordered my drink and before it even made it to the table I saw there was a problem. Turns out it was made with skim milk. The waiter remade the drink and again I knew it wasn't right. The second time the waiter said he made it with half and half. I asked the bartender what they used and he also said half and half, so I asked to see the container. He pulled up a bottle of whole milk. Apparently they didn't know what half and half or light cream was. At $7 a drink, I wasn't happy with it and had them remove it from the bill. That was my last drink. Pictures of the cruise were a big rip off as well. $21 a shot regardless of the size of the picture. But since we don't cruise that often we did purchase a couple of them. Last item was the motion of the ship. Explorer of the Seas is not a small ship, but you felt every wave. Seas most of the time were 2-5 feet and it was like being a drunken sailor most of the time. The only time it didn't rock and roll was when she was stopped or going dead slow. Not sure why, but was very noticeable. So our hats off to Danny for taking care of us and Terry and his crew for showing us a great tour. As for the rest, better luck next time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Our cruise started with a smooth embarkation. Entered the terminal, check in and onto the bus to take us to the ship. Found our cabin with no problems. We had a Promanade cabin on deck six. Unfortunately when I looked out the window all I ... Read More
Our cruise started with a smooth embarkation. Entered the terminal, check in and onto the bus to take us to the ship. Found our cabin with no problems. We had a Promanade cabin on deck six. Unfortunately when I looked out the window all I could see was the sign that said "Royal Promanade" and the guest relations desk but I did not plan on spending a lot of time looking out the window. The Windjammer had a variety of offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One day there was chocolate rice pudding which was wonderful. Dinner was fine - great waiter Luke and his assistant Manuel were a real treat. Menu was good and varied each night. Entertainment was so so - guest acts were entertaining but nothing special. The Ice Show and the production numbers were fantastic. She definitely is showing 13 years of wear and tear but sill a fine ship to cruise on and we will miss seeing the EOS in Bayonne. The crew is wonderful - always smiling and the "Washy Washy" team in the Windjammer is hilarious. So funny. This was our third time on the Explorer and just may sail on her again before she leaves Bayonnel   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We were on the Explorer from 11/3 - 11/14/2013. Overall we found the trip to be excellent. We drove from Buffalo to Bayonne and stayed overnight in Stroudsburg, PA. WE parked at PREMIER PARKING about 1 mile away from the port. Our ... Read More
We were on the Explorer from 11/3 - 11/14/2013. Overall we found the trip to be excellent. We drove from Buffalo to Bayonne and stayed overnight in Stroudsburg, PA. WE parked at PREMIER PARKING about 1 mile away from the port. Our experience with this company was excellent. Embarkation: Smooth and quick until it was time to actually board the ship. We got a card with number 22 for our order to get on the bus to the ship. The process was very slow. It took over an hour for our number to be called. Part of the reason for the delay is that all handicapped pax or those needing assitance were allowed to board first. Cabin: We had an inside cabin on deck 9 which was conveniently located near the forward lifts. Our steward was excellent. Dining was in the Megellan MDR . Food was excellent. Service was too. Entertainment: Not the best that we have seen but good-very good. On exception was Norm Crosby, the veteran comedian who is now 86 years old. He put on a great show. I heard many people rave about the show afterwards, however, I did hear some younger pax who didn't know who he was and didn't appreciate the show. I guess it was a generational thing. Ports: Great variety of ports. WE got off the boat at every port and did a couple of excursions. Our favorite was our day resort stay at the Marriot in Antigua. Disembarkation was good. We did the express and took our own bags. there was a bit of delay at the elevators. After waiting at the Center Ice for 10 minutes, they allowed us to go to the first deck to exit but there were too many people for the elevators. We dragged our bags down the two floors and were off the ship in five minutes. Customs was fast and we got our van to Premier parking within 10 minutes. We were on the road to Buffalo by 9:00 AM. overall experience: Excellent Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was my 3rd trip on Explorer, and I have one more booked before she leaves us in November 2014. I always get the same aft facing balcony #9690, as I enjoy that majestic view of the wake of the ship behind us. Could watch that all day ... Read More
This was my 3rd trip on Explorer, and I have one more booked before she leaves us in November 2014. I always get the same aft facing balcony #9690, as I enjoy that majestic view of the wake of the ship behind us. Could watch that all day long~~ If you've never treated yourself to this type of cabin, go for it! (another secret: the balcony is huge. has deck chairs in addition to the normal chairs and cocktail table). It was a real "find". The ship is a bit tattered looking at this point.,... the little things that were wrong with the cabin are still wrong. Maintenance doesn't seem to be happening much at this point, as this ship will be leaving Bayonne for a brief run from Port Canaveral, and then off to Asia next year. It will go to drydock and probably be refurbished in between it's old and new ports. But I will miss the Explorer. It's a great sized ship, offers all the nice amenities that we've come to love about royal caribbean...skating show, royal promenade with the fun 70's show, and the iconic Royal Viking Lounge. We've enjoyed the ship and it's itineraries very much. And Bayonne is such an easy place from which to cruise. An easy drive from most of the mid atlantic. Later this year the Quantum will arrive.... don't know how we will like in comparison. Will certainly have more amenities, and different ones. But a lot of us will really miss our old Explorer and the fun times we had on her. It will be like losing a good friend! See all of you onboard Explorer on October 9, 2014. Our farewell trip! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our 3rd trip on the Explorer of the Seas within a year. She is a beautiful ship, however it is getting close for time for a refurbishment. You can see wear and tear in the carpet, bathroom facilities, elevator buttons, etc. ... Read More
This was our 3rd trip on the Explorer of the Seas within a year. She is a beautiful ship, however it is getting close for time for a refurbishment. You can see wear and tear in the carpet, bathroom facilities, elevator buttons, etc. First, I would like to say thanks to a couple of people that don't normally get noticed. Would like to start off with Wendy, the Loyalty and Cruise Sales Manager, we have met her once or twice in past cruise, but she greeted us like someone she has know for a long time. Next, The HR director, Mark. Mark has set up a veteran's get together on one of the sea days. On this cruise we had veteran's from the Korean War until present. We all had a chance to tell a little bit about ourselves and make a connection. Throughout the cruise we would see fellow veterans and spend a few minutes talking. There were some other things Mark did that made us feel part of the family. Thanks Mark. Cabin.. We were on Deck 9, 9662. The cabin was comfortable, even though the thermostat was extremely touchy. Our cabin attendant, Marvin, did a good job keeping the cabin clean. His towel animals were great, and he had a unique way of presenting them. Bar service. This is an area where we weren't too pleased with. The service just didn't seem as good as it has been in the past. When we go to the evening shows in the Palace Theatre, we sit in the balcony. There was no, waiter service up there. You could see three or four servers on the main floor, but nobody upstairs. We heard a rumor since, we were in the "Off Season" Service was cut back on. Well, they lost about 8 drink sales from us. Next, finding a quiet bar, that isn't smoke filled.... Mission impossible. My wife and I like to have a quiet drink at the end of the day and I don't smoke. The dining room bar service was good. The server for our section was Sherlene. She did a wonderful job. It was her first time doing this particular job, and after a couple of nights, she got into the hang of it, and her confidence built. The menu was the same as we have seen on all of our cruises on the Explorer. It is varied enough where we didn't get bored with it, and all of the food we ordered was presented well, and tasty. Once our wait staff learned what we liked, they would make recommendations. I do miss the escargot on the menu. Bay scallops in my mind is not a suitable sub. Our servers, Imelda and Carlene did an excellent job. All you had to do was ask and it was there. They brought smiles to our faces. We had breakfast most mornings in the Dining Room. The daily specials, didn't change that much each day. Service was normally very good, even though we had a couple of mornings where the server wasn't really a morning person. We had one meal in Portofino's. The meal was excellent, but the server wasn't on his game that evening. We had to ask for coffee, and some other little things took away from the experience. Since this was our 3rd cruise on the Explorer..and we had seen all of the productions shows at least twice, we found other things to do in the evening. The headliner shows were very good. The "Motown Divas", "Beatlemania" and Rick Novell. We will be sad seeing the "Explorer of the Seas" leaving Port Liberty. The "Quantum of the Seas" is too big of a ship for us.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We sail out of Bayonne each Thanksgiving and meet up with other cruise friends we met on board. So we choose the cruise based on the dates, not the itinerary. Honestly if we were to choose based on itinerary we would definitely not have ... Read More
We sail out of Bayonne each Thanksgiving and meet up with other cruise friends we met on board. So we choose the cruise based on the dates, not the itinerary. Honestly if we were to choose based on itinerary we would definitely not have chosen this cruise. Labadee & St. Thomas great. San Juan and Dominican Republic - yuck, been there, done that and do not want to do it again. The crew aboard Explorer are amazing. We've been aboard other RCCL ships, most recently Radiance, and they just don't hold a candle to Explorer crew, from a service, sense of urgency and energy perspective. Also the presence and sheer number of officers seen on Explorer is seems so much higher than other ships, and they pick up trash just like the rest of the crew to ensure EX stays beautiful. Yes she's aging, but she's cared for. This cabin was in great shape, one minor issue with the balcony door where the gasket was loose and you could hear the sea noise through the closed door. It was fixed straight away and the room became quiet again. No heating or cooling issues. The drawers all stayed shut and didn't open/close during heavy seas. Great water pressure in the washroom. There was some noises from deck 11 overhead, some running and some chair dragging but only on one night did it wake us. We would definitely book this room again. The shows that the singers/dancers do really need to be refreshed. Also - please RCCL, please update the skating show. Spirits of the Season has been there for what, three years?? The quality of the entertainment dropped this trip, the Beatlemania show was awesome, one guest comic was good, the rest was pretty boring or blah. Really thought the entertainment quality dropped this time around. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I loved this cruise and was sad to get off the ship. I could have stayed longer. The Windjammer food excellent. Such a variety and coureteous staff in there. The washy washy girl were a delight. Dining room (DeGamma) was amazing. Great ... Read More
I loved this cruise and was sad to get off the ship. I could have stayed longer. The Windjammer food excellent. Such a variety and coureteous staff in there. The washy washy girl were a delight. Dining room (DeGamma) was amazing. Great choices of appetizers, meals and desserts. Food network fancy stuff. Waiters Emiliano and Suni were wonderful! Pulling out chairs, putting napkins on your lap and wiing crums away for you. Makde us feel like royalty! Loved them and the dining experience. The other couples at my table were perfect. Lovely people that I will stay in touch with. The highlights of the cruise were the Cruise Director and the Activities Manager. Leigh Xureub and Erky from Turkey. They made this cruise so much fun and made me laugh so hard every day. These guys should get paid alot because the happiness they provided me and my boyfriend for our 9 day vacation was the best. Ocean view window, good enough for the 2 of us. Bathroom small but fine for the trip. Room steward Joseph was Excellent! Closet space was adequate for 2. We had 2 large suitcases in there, lots of clothes on hangars, garment bags, and there were alot of shelves and drop down bars to place things on. Very nice. Felt minimal swaying of ship, hardly heard any noise next door and hallway quiet and peaceful. Slep like a baby, better than i sleep at home actually and the bed was comfy and big. Plent of room to spread out between two people, and I'm no skinny minnie so it was nice! The ports were nice. Loved Labadee and the barbeque. Went to Cayo Levantado in Samana and did the beach and got a massage there. Very nice! In Charolette Amalie we took a guided tour the cost 25 dollars in safari truck and that was so much fun. The driver showed us some beautiful scenery and the tour was long and ended with some shopping for jewelry and liquor. San Juan we got there 4p-11 so we went to San Christobal fort. Beautiful.l Then walked around town making a stop at Senor Frogs for drinks and fun. Back on the Explorer we played trivia in the Schooner and met some folks that will be friends off the ship. So much fun winning luggage tags or pens, etc. There was so much to do on the ship no one can ever say they are bored! My cabin was perfect and my steward Joseph was a hard worker and made our room so nice and left us delightful towel animals. I cant wait to go on a cruise next year and I definitely would recommmend Royal Caribbean. I havent been on any other ships as this was my first cruise but I really don't see how anything could compare to what I experienced on the Explorer of the Seas. A+ Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We just returned from a 9 night cruise to Bermuda, San Juan, St. Martin and Labadee. Overall we had a wonderful time but I thought it necessary to share some thoughts regarding the areas that really need some improvement. Our family ... Read More
We just returned from a 9 night cruise to Bermuda, San Juan, St. Martin and Labadee. Overall we had a wonderful time but I thought it necessary to share some thoughts regarding the areas that really need some improvement. Our family consists of myself, my husband and our 7 year son. We have cruised many times and this was our 2nd cruise on the Explorer and with Royal Caribbean. Our last cruise was in February and we also had a great time. This time we stayed in a balcony cabin somewhat forward in the ship. The cabin itself was adequate and the balcony was nice to have on this itinerary as we used it much with the beautiful weather. The condition of the cabin was worn (once again stains on the carpet) and there was some mold in the shower. I understand that the cabin is not brand new but mold in the shower is unacceptable and fixable by proper cleaning. There were some positives such as fixing our soap dish rack without us even having to ask (it was hanging off one side) and painting our somewhat rusty balcony while we were off in port (without us asking again). The cabin steward did fulfill any requests we had like we needed a refrigerator in our room and some distilled water for my husband's CPAP machine but then again we had requested these items about 6 months earlier. They were not in the room when we arrived. The bed was hard as a rock and very uncomfortable. We are not big people and are used to a somewhat softer bed. I think the beds are firm because much of the clientele is "large". We should have asked for some more padding but we were so sleep deprived we couldn't think straight. Room service as usual was very prompt and we used it quite a few times when we had early port days. The ship condition overall is approaching "poor". Pieces of furniture were missing or falling off. Elevator buttons were missing! Come on RC! They really REALLY need to have this ship in dry dock sooner or need to have some major work done on it while in port. Port days: Our ship tour in San Juan to the rain forest was excellent! Rocky, our guide was so knowledgeable and we learned so much not only about the rainforest but also about Puerto Rico. We were somewhat disappointed with St. Maarten but did enjoy the Yoda Guy museum. Very interesting and quirky. Phillipsburg has changed a lot and not for the better. It seemed a bit more run down and somewhat depressing. I haven't been there since the 90's so perhaps I was seeing it through rose colored glasses in a sweeter time. The area next the port has improved with many nice shops. Bermuda was beautiful and the people were so welcoming. In the past (the 90's) I remember them not caring one way or the other but this time it was different. Our taxi drivers were so friendly and Horseshoe Bay was gorgeous. Wish we were there longer. Labadee was super hot but we had a great time. I took a walking tour about the area and learned so much about the people of Haiti and their life on the island. The children's program needs some improvement on this ship. My 7 year old sailed in February with us as well when there were 1,000 less children on board. I blame the lack of engaging activities on the overcrowded conditions in the Adventure Ocean program. Plus, my child who has some sensory issues (he bites his nails; finger and toenails) was embarrassed by the counselor and kids during a session. I explained to them before hand that he had some attention issues (ADHD) but they didn't seem to hear me (too busy with the 1,000 children on board). Needless to say, my son did not want to go back. He said it was too much like school. So many of the activities were like "circle time". When I asked the counselor about the lack of "fun" activities their response was that with the large amount of kids on board it was necessary to do more "quiet" activities so the kids wouldn't get hurt. How very uncreative Royal Caribbean! There is a whole ship available with plenty of outdoor deck space. Perhaps they need to hire more counselors during the busy summer season. These kids are on vacation too! We did enjoy the family activities. We did a family scavenger hunt and the family "quest" game. They really need more family activities at night after dinner around 9pm. Nightly family karaoke would be great. Overall, the food was good and I was fasting (for religious reasons) vegan for 3 days. The wait staff did a good job trying to accommodate my requests. The desserts are delicious! It was really tough for me to resist but somehow I managed to lose 1.8 pounds on this cruise (I'm on weight watchers and was able to stay on track during a 9 night cruise!) There are plenty of healthy options available if you are motivated to stay healthy with all the temptations. Our waitress Michelle and her assistant, Kayann were fabulous. They had nightly tricks for my son and the other two boys at our table. We had a great time at our nightly dinners. Captain Henrik was outstanding! He was always around and actively participated in some of the activities, like the Make a Wish Walk and Nautical Trivia. The cruise director John Blair and his wife the assistant cruise director, Katrina were so sweet and good at their jobs. I felt like we were their personal guests. The entertainment was "ok". The only acts we really enjoyed was the comedian on the first night and the ice show (of course!) We didn't attend the production shows this time as we didn't care for them last time and they are the same shows. The hypnotist said he was not going to make a fool out of his volunteers but he definitely did. I found the act a bit boring. We attended some trivia and I attended a lecture on Bermuda which was enjoyable. The "Quest" game was a good laugh. So, I would say overall we did have a great time. I also felt it was necessary to point out some of the areas needed for improvement. We were going to travel again on the Explorer next August but because of the amount of children traveling during the summer we changed our minds. We are going again in February instead. However, because of the condition of the ship we booked an inside cabin. We don't feel it's worth the extra money for a balcony or suite with the current condition of the ship. We still love this ship because of the service and atmosphere. We still felt like we were the only guests on board. Hopefully they will make some repairs to make us feel even more at home. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
OK, alot of info to cover. First let me start by saying I am the husband of the CC member. My wife and I have gone on numerous cruises over the past 13 years, including Royal Caribbean on Grandeur and Voyager when it first came out (a ... Read More
OK, alot of info to cover. First let me start by saying I am the husband of the CC member. My wife and I have gone on numerous cruises over the past 13 years, including Royal Caribbean on Grandeur and Voyager when it first came out (a great comparison to it's sister Explorer now ready for refurb) as well as Liberty of the Seas. We have also done Disney Magic twice (once standard balcony and once suite) and NCL Gem (suite). All of our RC cruises (except for this one) were standard balcony rooms and in addition I have cruised numerous times with my sister and parents going back to the mid-1980's on RC, Holland America and others. This is just to establish that I have been on many cruises with different lines in standard rooms and suites over the past 25+ years and am basing this review on my overall cruise experience on this particular ship. I will also mention where there is a distinct advantage in a suite over regular rooms so you can compare. However, I am now hooked on the Suites on RC so you know where I stand. I will also avoid any details on the ports of call. They were all great (Bermuda, St. Martin, San Juan and Labadee) but I want to focus on the ship and the good and bad. BOARDING IN BAYONNE OK lets be honest, this is set-up as a temporary solution until they build a terminal (which they said they are planning -- probably after the Quantum of the Seas comes to NJ). You basically weave your way around the roads into the entrance road which you have to wait in a line of traffic to get up to the glorified tent where you drop your luggage off to the porter. Then you drive around into the parking lot (assuming you are self-parking), pay for parking and leave your car. The lot is right near the tented area and while there is a shuttle unless you have trouble walking just walk across the street to the tent. No need to make reservations. Huge parking lot and no issues. After you return to the tent you'll walk to the check-in. Regular cabin check-in as as you would expect. Long line weaving around. Suite guests however can head to the back area where there is a very short line and you basically get checked in within minutes. A shuttle bus then takes you to the ship which is a short distance down the pier. You board via gangplank on deck 1 (which is the only deck used for embarkation/debarkation and port stops). So you miss out on the grand entrance onto the ship you normally get at a "real" cruise terminal. However, the convenience for us outweighs everything else. And despite the terrible view of the port from the ship, the view of NYC and the statue of Liberty as you leave makes up for it. Rooms weren't ready yet so we headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. I read some terrible reviews of this experience where the food was cold, soggy, etc. We didn't have that. We were actually surprised how hot and fresh the food was. Quite good. It was crowded as expected, but suite guests have the opportunity to sit in the adjoining Portofino restaurant everyday for breakfast and lunch. You only eat the food from windjammer but staff will bring you drinks in Portofino. It actually made a big difference when we couldn't get seating or wanted a quiet lunch. As a sidenote, suite guests also get hot, cooked to order breakfasts in Portofino everyday. CONDITION OF SHIP I agree with the comments made by others that said the exterior looks aged. The paint is yellowed in placed, chipped and there is some rust on the outside of the balcony railings. However inside the ship is still nice, clean and shiny and quite modern looking. A few things do give away it's age, such as limited wifi and some minor maintenance issues. For example you might see some missing fixtures or metal/fabric with rust stains around...but you have to look for it. ROOM/SUITE Compared to newer ships and some of the excellent suites on Disney and NCL, the rooms are small. We had an owner's suite, which is the largest of the suites (except for the huge royal suite). It was myself, my wife and two daughters (5&11yo). One bathroom that while roomy has a relatively small shower, two sinks, jacuzzi tub and Bidet. Personally I recommend they get rid of the bidet and make the shower larger. I'm willing to bet that 90% of people have not ever used a bidet nor know how to properly. The sink handles were loose which made turning on/off the water awkward. Also the cold water was always lukewarm, yet for some strange reason when you first turned on the hot water it was cold. The shower leaked a little from the connection as well. Plenty of storage, nice balcony with two chairs and a cocktail table. Lots of closets and a flatscreen TV that swivels to face either the sofa/queensized sofabed or the bedroom (which is really all in one room except for a curtain that separates the two areas. Upgraded sheets and beds were very comfortable...even the sofabed which my daughter usually hates had extra cushioning and was very comfortable. We knew people with the Grand Suite one step below the Owner's Suite. They complained about lack of storage. Less closets, floorspace, etc. If you have kids the Owner's suite is definitely better. For two people, the Grand Suite is fine. Not sure why, but for some reason they only did towel animals every other night. Our kids love this, and it only uses towels in your room, so not sure why they did this. We thought it might just be us until we asked others around the ship and everyone said the same thing. **We had one incident which left us perplexed and disgusted. We came back from dinner one night after our beds were turned down to find that somebody used our toilet. We will keep this clean and let's just say what was in there was not produced by anyone in my family. The person must have flushed and assumed it went down. Nothing in our room was disturbed or missing. The first thought was the cabin attendant, but honestly I don't think a sweet, little 5-foot tall woman did this. A mountain Gorilla maybe, but not her. My theory is that she was cleaning and another employee had an emergency (obviously) and she let him use it. We didn't report anything but did talk to someone in confidence. We were told that if we reported it our attendant would be in trouble and could get fired if she let someone use our bathroom. Not knowing for sure that she even knew we decided not to do anything. Maybe a mistake on our part, but at least we didn't destroy a person's career cause they let someone poo.** CONCIERGE/SUITE PERKS As I mentioned earlier, Portofino breakfast and use of the restaurant for lunch seating is nice, however the real service comes via the concierge and staff. Denzil Fernandes was our concierge, and he (along with Ajay and Andre in the concierge lounge) made the trip extra special. Denzil took care of any reservations, changes, excursions, etc. that we had. No need to wait at the shore excursion desk or main customer service counter. Also, every morning there was a nice continental breakfast along with an espresso/cappuccino machine in the lounge you can use anytime. Our favorite though was the cocktail hour. Every evening from around 5-8PM the lounge had appetizers and full complimentary bar..including unlimited beer, wine, and hard alcohol drinks. We met so many nice people in there it became a not-to-miss part of the cruise for us. The captain came in a few times as well to say hi. A nice touch. Another nice perk is that while regular guests have to scan their seapass to get towels at the pool area (and must return the towels or be charged), gold pass suite guests get all the towels they want without have to scan your card. Other perks included a private beach area on Labadee, reserved seating at shows, the ice show and best of all...at the man pool area! FOOD I was impressed overall. Alot of posts about bad food, and having seen the ships get bigger and bigger over the years I understand how quality can go down. However, I have to say that I was quite happy with most offerings. While there were items I didn't like or were overcooked I had some very good food in the dining room as well as the Windjammer/Island Grill. Especially in the main dining room the breads were excellent, and there were alot of meat choices including rack of lamb, lamb shank and prime rib as well as very good fish and even lobster on the last formal night. And RC got rid of the horrible extra charges for certain dishes on the main dinner menus. They still offer a premium extra charge menu but it is separate and not pushed at all by wait staff. KIDS CLUB Having used the Disney club for the kids (probably the best kids club afloat anywhere IMHO) you need to lower expectations. The place itself didn't impress, but hey it's for the kids not the adults. My younger one had a blast and couldn't wait to go in everyday (yay!) and my older one was given permission to sign herself in and out so she could do as she wanted with it. She met friends onboard so had people to hang out with. This made for a much more relaxing trip for my wife and I. One thing I do not love about the club is the need to take your kids out for periods during the day when they shut down for lunch and dinner but they started to allow parents to sign up for dinner service some nights that lets your child stay and they take them to the Windjammer for dinner. The club is free up till 10PM then they charge a nominal fee till 2 AM when they close. POOLS/DECK ACTIVITIES As usual with most ships the main pool area is filled with kids, loud music and the requisite line dancing, belly flop competitions, ice carving, etc. Some live music is a nice addition, but didn't see much till towards the later half of the trip. For a quieter experience go to the Solarium. No kids allowed. This rule is broken and lightly enforced (I did see a pool staff member asked two kids who were by themselves to leave) but most people are older. Two large whirlpools (one was kept at just below boiling point I think) and a pool (all swimming pools are saltwater BTW while whirlpools are fresh). Hard to get seats in Solarium as it is a smaller area. Also on our cruise there were ALOT of much older cruisers (some in wheelchairs)which did make the solarium feel a bit like visiting day at Grandma's nursing home at times. There is a kids pool area for the young ones in the rear of the ship. two small covered pools and a (very slow)waterslide. Nice for the kids but hopefully will be made a bit more inviting with the refurb (think splash zone, better waterslide) SPA Had an awesome massage. Not much in the way of extras in the spa except for treatments. The solarium outside the spa is probably considered the whirlpool/relaxation area instead of having it inside the spa proper. This was fine. Look for spa specials throughout the cruise especially port days and late afternoon deals. SHOWS/ENTERTAINMENT This is one area the cruise fell short IMHO. The ice show is an exception. a really nice production. The cruise director and his wife ran a nice number of activities but the main shows were typical singing/dancing shows with the usual hypnotist or comedian thrown in. Quality was fine, just not my style of show I guess. On a previous RC cruise we had Ben Vereen, so hard to beat that. However, by skipping some of the shows and walking out on others we had a ton of time to enjoy the other activities. So a blessing in disguise I guess. One suggestion -- skip the casino. We aren't big gamblers but enjoy playing slots and having a fun time. However this is one area where smoking is permitted and the odds are truly terrible. We heard others (including staff) say that the casino on the ship was terrible at paying back. I agree. Not a fun time and all the smokers made it less so. Overall, despite some of the minor complaints (and the one not so minor one I mentioned) we still had a great time. We found this cruise more relaxing than most and the concierge service and suite amenities made the trip extra special. I'm not sure we will ever do a standard room again. We're so spoiled. Can't wait to see how this ship looks after it is refurbished in 2014.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We took the family (9 in total) cruising to celebrate my 60th birthday. The kids had arranged for gifts to be waiting in our stateroom upon our arrival, but wanted it to be a surprise. It took them 2 days to ask if I liked them. They were ... Read More
We took the family (9 in total) cruising to celebrate my 60th birthday. The kids had arranged for gifts to be waiting in our stateroom upon our arrival, but wanted it to be a surprise. It took them 2 days to ask if I liked them. They were very disappointed when I said that there was nothing waiting for me in the cabin. The hotel said they'd never received the order but promised they would be rectify problem in a day or two plus a complimentary bottle of champagne. Nothing appeared. So my son canceled the order and requested a refund. Two days later I was woken up at 10:30pm by room service delivering a bottle of wine. I knew this wasn't from my family because I don't drink wine. The following day I received a plate of cheese and crackers. Both "gifts" arrived without any explanation. So I went to the front desk, where I was told that they were by way of an apology for the failure to delivery the items ordered for my birthday. I said that there should have been a note by way of explanation and why deliver at such an odd hour. I was told that as I'd put the do not disturb sign on the cabin door they were left with no alternative other than to deliver late at night which was incorrect, I'd never used the sign. It became clear during the trip that the hotel side of the ship is very disorganized. I had never encountered so many individuals at the front desk with so little knowledge of the workings of their ship. Usually these guys are pretty much on the ball. There seemed to have been some kind of problems with loading the baggage with hundreds of cases lying around the dock as we boarded. We didn't receive our bags until very late on the first evening. First time I've ever had to go to dinner in the clothes I traveled in. Far too many teenagers running riot through the ship with little or no control. Did feel that the staff had their hands full there. Lots of noise in the hallways at night. We had to call security on last night as there was a group of people partying on the helicopter pad an area that's out of bounds. Dining room staff were excellent and very good to the grandchildren. The Windjammer restaurant was a zoo most of the time, a place to be avoided at meal times. Would have been happier with more lunchtime choices to eat. Not too much to do on the ship if the weather is bad. The evening's entertainment was poor, some of the worst we've seen on any cruise ship. We're experienced cruisers and we were prepared for "Caribbean" cruising where standards are lower, so all in all we had an enjoyable trip, but it has made us think twice about cruising with Royal Caribbean again.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
This was an enjoyable cruise, overall, so most problems listed below were not the fault of RCCL. We were 4 single women - over 60 - booked on Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean. Ship info explained that ... Read More
This was an enjoyable cruise, overall, so most problems listed below were not the fault of RCCL. We were 4 single women - over 60 - booked on Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty to Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean. Ship info explained that parking was available close to ship. There was a parking lot adjacent to the terminal which provided excellent service with ample parking. However, there were several private parking lots available and we went to one of them. Parking + Embarkation: We went to the private lot and arrived at 11:30am. We waited on line for 1hr and 45min for a shuttle to the pier. That ride was 30min because the jam up at the port was abominable. There was a huge tent-like structure with passengers leaving from the previous cruise to get into shuttles or other waiting vehicles. There were also cars lining up for our cruise to drop off people and luggage. Then there was our shuttle from the parking lot waiting in line to get through this mess and into a spot where we were finally able to get off and check in our luggage. Then check-in was easy, but we were astounded to learn that we had to take our carry-ons and ride another shuttle to the ship. Ship is very old - needs lots of repair. Furniture in cabin is old and stained, many stains on carpeting in cabins and hallways. Found sticky and dusty areas, as well. The balcony had dirty glass and there was a lot of rust along the railing The sliding door to the balcony had hand prints on the glass the entire time we were there. We had several days of bad weather and very rough seas.Food: I found the dinner selections in the dining room were fewer in number than I've seen on previous cruises. The quality of the food was mediocre. However,service in the dining room was excellent. The Windjammer at lunchtime seemed to have very little variety from day to day. The dining room at lunchtime had an excellent salad bar and a large menu. Entertainment: Very good nightly shows and many evening activities, which we enjoyed. Staff: Cruise director and his staff were excellent. Dining room staff and cabin stewards were very attentive to our needs. Disembarkation: On previous cruises, everyone was off the ship by 10am because we went from gangway to terminal,luggage pickup, customs, and off the ship. This process allowed all passengers to disembark before the next embarkation began. However, once again, the process was slowed down by having passengers come off the ship and ride a shuttle back to the terminal. Therefore we didn't disembark until 11am, with still more passengers after us. once at the terminal, luggage pickup and customs were quick.Shuttle: After finally getting luggage and going through customs, we were on line for 2 hours waiting for the shuttle back to our parking lot. Finally: Cape Liberty needs to be redone. The signage into the port needs to be improved. Vehicle entry procedure nedds a radical change. One suggestion would be separate areas for incoming and outgoing passengers, as well as separate lines for shuttles, vehicles dropping off or picking up passengers, and vehicles going to the terminal parking facility. If the ship were docked adjacent to the terminal, there would be no need for shuttles, thereby speeding up embarkation and disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Let me start off by saying I have sailed on RCI before and love their company. I will try and be as detailed as possible so as to help those in the future who are looking for a cruise or a honeymoon. I will break it down in segments so ... Read More
Let me start off by saying I have sailed on RCI before and love their company. I will try and be as detailed as possible so as to help those in the future who are looking for a cruise or a honeymoon. I will break it down in segments so that one can quickly navigate to a section they are interested in. PORT: The Cape Liberty port in Bayonne, NJ is an eyesore. There are many run down buildings in the area. RCI tries their best in making good use of the space but you cannot miss the broken down buildings and ships around that part of the port. C'mon RCI, I have been to other posts and they look great compared to this one. As we drove there, there was a bad smell in the area and seems that there is a refuse station nearby, or at least smelled like one. Embarkation was a breeze and the staff was sure to help get you situated in areas for boarding. Once we were on the ship, at 1200, nothing was open and we along with many other guest just sat around. SHIP: The ship is immense. I have sailed on other cruise lines and this still is one of the biggest ships. She is starting to show her age though. Many rust spots on the exterior to include our balcony. The exterior furniture, including the pool chairs even had rust on them, which caused a stain on my wife's bikini. The interior carpets are worn in some areas, but that is to be expected for the amount of people that are in the ship and for the last 13 years. The crew does their best to keep things working and clean. They are AWESOME at working to make the cruising experience pleasant. YES, it is time for a makeover.STATEROOM: Our room was very clean and our stateroom attendant, Selwin, was awesome. He did everything he could for us ALWAYS calling us by name. He seemed to be ALWAYS working and at times I felt bad for him with the way some of the other guest treated he and other attendants. Just because they are from other countries with accents doesn't make them second class people. Good for you RCI for hiring those from around the world. The stateroom was smaller than how it was explained. Our Princess stateroom with a balcony was much larger. The room furniture was quite outdated, however we were one of the few people who actually had a flat screen TV, although small. The stateroom carpet was old and worn. As mentioned before the balcony had a lot of rust in the corners and the support beams. We were careful after staining one of my shirts not to lean on the beam. The bathroom was clean, but again their was rust in the corners where the metal was exposed. It was well stocked, even twice in most days with towels. FOOD: Main dining was a wonderful experience. The food was great and staff did everything to make it enjoyable. The food was well cooked and the choices were amazing. Portofino was also an amazing dinner choice. We met other honeymooners and became friends with them. My Time dining worked great because we dined with our new friends for the rest of the nights(7). Now the Windjammer was quite the opposite. It was cafeteria food at best. The burgers were dry and it was the same choices pretty much everyday.The guests in the Windjammer were like herds of cattle just scooping away, getting food all over the place, and the staff barely could keep up to try and clean the mess. We chose to grab food and bring it back to our room, along with many other couples, because there was no control in the room. People would just bump into each other, spilling and there were A LOT of kids running around. There should be more control or at least more adult areas. Of the adult only areas, we saw no real control of keeping the teens out. This is probably why I will not cruise an RCI cruise again and still with some of the more high end cruises. RCI is much more suited for families, and parents who just will let their kids run wild. SHOWS/ENTERTAINMENT: I have been on many cruises and found Leigh and Frank(Cruise Director and Activities Manager) to be phenomenal. Probably some of the best in the business which explains why they area leaving the ship for promotions, at least Frank that is. I imagine Leigh will end up on one of the newest ships, deservedly so. We will definitely miss the Frank-Leigh Speaking show. They made it enjoyable to watch in the morning as we got ready for the day. The ice show and the singers were great. The hypnotist as well as the juggler was a joke, c'mon RCI is that all you can line up with the budget that you have. I know that they have to accommodate all the guests but even all the people in the Palace Theater thought those last two shows mentioned were unworthy. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Went on the Explorer for a 9 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. I was so very disappointed in the appearance of the ship. It certainly has seen much better days. Furniture in our handicapped stateroom was stained. Upholstered ... Read More
Went on the Explorer for a 9 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. I was so very disappointed in the appearance of the ship. It certainly has seen much better days. Furniture in our handicapped stateroom was stained. Upholstered furniture in the dining room was stained. Arriving in Bayonne, New Jersey, the access was extremely bad. Having a handicapped person with us, we did not receive information on how to get a wheelchair. Handicapped person was very evident walking extremely slowly with a cane. Personnel could have helped, but did not. Trying to get checked in was a nightmare. Personnel came across with an "I could care less" attitude. Finally getting onto the ship, tried to get a wheelchair for handicapped person, but received a run around. When we arrived in our stateroom, the motorized wheelchair was there, thankfully. Attempting to get a table in the Windjammer was impossible. Personnel did not offer assistance to handicapped person attempting to balance dinner plate and cane. Received absolutely no pertinent information from excursion desk personnel, even after they could see person was in motorized chair. Ports of Call were fine. Did a snorkel in Bermuda which was wonderful. Boat personnel did everything possible, and even more, to assist handicapped person onboard, in and out of the water. Did not take any tours in Puerto Rico as we had been there previously. Did island tour in St. Maarten, which was nice. Unable to do any shopping due to handicapped person not having the option of taking motorized chair on the tour. Labadee was a beautiful place. Again, personnel, aware of handicapped person, offered no information or assistance. Dining room servers were very attentive. Room steward was adequate. Would probably not said again on Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We had Grand Suite 1268 and loved it. We had sailed that cat couple times 10 years ago on Voyager. Grand Suite gets Gold Card for entry and perks during cruise. Cabin space and balcony room excellent. We arrived at Bayonne about 11:30, ... Read More
We had Grand Suite 1268 and loved it. We had sailed that cat couple times 10 years ago on Voyager. Grand Suite gets Gold Card for entry and perks during cruise. Cabin space and balcony room excellent. We arrived at Bayonne about 11:30, spent 1/2 hour crawling in car line until at baggage drop off area. Baggage drop off easy then drive around corner into long term parking $19 a day. The lots could use some pothole and cleanup work but were okay. Close enough to walk to ship area. Through security, they were strict took two cans of beer away from guy in front of us. Next as GS small room on left for priority desk. 5 minutes we were on bus shuttle and on way to ship. Really wish they would expend terminal and do away with those buses. High step and crowded but at least only like 2 minute ride. Our Suite was ready, Jo, our suite stewardess was very happy personality and smiley. She maintained suite adequately and was readily available. Always greeted you by name with a smile. Service wise we have had better and worse, often did not remove used small plate or whatever. But if you asked her she readily did what was requested, problem more that you had to ask for even some routine things but when you did she was quick to respond. We were not unhappy with her at all just nothing extra was tipped, we did not feel it was warranted. Dining room was excellent enhanced by having great table mates. Waiter and assistant waiter prompt and good service was had. Again, has better and worse we were happy enough but did not feel any extra tipping was warranted. Head waiter stopped by each night pretty much. We had second seating De Gama dining room table 434 I believe, good location in rear. Food was very good never had a bad meal except for steak wife had. Three times back all tough, she gave up. Rest was fine, thought the buffets were more than adequate, Didn't dine at extra cost restaurant honestly I do not like the concept. Our table mates did for Fathers Day and raved about Portafino's. I also was not happy to see three EXTRA cost dinners PLUS extra gratuity, on the main dining menu each night. When they finally start alacarte if that is there intention that will be when cruising ends for me. Ship itself was in far better condition than lead to believe in some reviews. YES carpet stains and wear noted in hallways but for most part all looked good and was very clean. I believe they do have some water issues, seems all water is hot even cold. To the point that at times shower and sinks on full cold produced near scalding water. They did take water system offline twice for few hours while in port for " routine cleaning " but I really think they have a problem they are trying to correct. Concierge lounge was great, Mahmoud was excellent concierge!! Private island Suite Beach Barefoot beach was great. For GS you get complimentary drinks before dinner and hot appetizers etc in there. Did tip the servers and concierge there they were fantastic and attentive during the whole cruise. You also have reserved seating area at main pool, part of the tiered area. Since in the sun we preferred solarium pool area, padded seats and some shade also adult area. You also have reserved area in show lounge, two rows mid way. Used that but was unnecessary all the tines we were in show lounge. Plenty of seating no problem. You do get pretty much full menu ordering in GS which is nice if you want something more than light breakfast. Room service was EXCELLENT best we have ever seen on a ship. After second day they knew what our more or less standard order was and had it there minutes after calling for it. Entertainment was good, we don't go to much except comedy shows. Downside of cruising a lot seen enough dance numbers. Nothing spectacular was again adequate, but we are tainted having seen so many cruise shows. Ports, short stays, Bermuda we love weather was rainy and windy first hours great last two hours. San Juan again short can't really do anything, went across street and hit casino in the Sheraton. Ship casino was pretty decent size. Didn't see any big wins though. St Maarteen very nice by pier area. No more tendering is nice. Private island was best of the trip!!! Internet access - bad old school hot spots not through out ship. First time in a while that couldn't connect in cabin. Took $99 package and received 20% off for coupon in cabin. That makes it .43 a minute, first two days unusable they couldn't get internet. After that barely adequate. This will be addressed in 2014 retrofit we were told. Phones in cabin still 7.95 a minute, again 1.99 or 2.99 more the norm on ships now. We did have coupon again in book in suite reducing calls to 1.99 a minute at conclusion of cruise. Had to go to desk and advise them for corrected bill as it discount only appeared for one call. Guest Services desk very polite and quickly addressed any need. No complaints. Overall great cruise we enjoyed it yes would sail her again even before she get done over. We had not sailed RCL for over five years as we had been unhappy about change to past passenger levels but we decided time heals all. George in NY   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Just returned from a 9 day crusie to the eastern carribean.. left Port of Liberty,NJ June 27 returned July 6th,2013.In every aspect of this cruise very disappointing.. Food Choices and quality were terrible, same basic Buffet for Breakfast ... Read More
Just returned from a 9 day crusie to the eastern carribean.. left Port of Liberty,NJ June 27 returned July 6th,2013.In every aspect of this cruise very disappointing.. Food Choices and quality were terrible, same basic Buffet for Breakfast and Dinner and on 1 occassion they put out day old reheated food from the Labardee BBQ! Every Buffet experience was terrible finding seating.. many items were not refilled in a timely manner! First day was cute being met at the entrance by a crew member yelling loudly "washy washy" as she stood by the Purell dispensers.. her voice carried through out the Buffet area EVERY Buffet meal! Very childish and in poor taste, many guests we spoke with agreed it was a distraction trying to eat or listen to Announcements about activites etc.. Condition of this vessel is worn, dated and hot tubs and pools were not in use due to maintence.. this created an over load on the remaining operating pools and hot tubs!On a few occasions there were no clean towels available from the pool attendant.. also Bar staff around the pool trying to Hawk bar drinks of the day felt very tacky! Children were everywhere no enforcement of Adult only pools and hot tubs.On a closing note every shore experience lacked staff to guide you to your activity.. no free handicaped help to assist you to the excursions.. I was forced to pay extra $$ for motorized assistance and on Labardee there were ample wheel chairs and attendents but there was pressure to pay them for the assistance.Excursions assistance in most ports was non exsistant.. perticurly in the Bahamas! The local tour office could only offer up info on public bus which one had to walk a few blocks uphill to reach the main stop for pick up of passengers.. also impossible for a person with even mild walking issues! The only praise I can sing on this cruise is about the ships staff.. If not for them this curise experience would have been a total disaster and dissappointment! Never every again will I set foot on a RCL International Ship! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Day 1: Our family of 5 traveled from Philadelphia suburbs to Bayonne NJ for this trip. It took 1 hour and 50 minutes to get there in the rain on a Thursday morning. We arrived at 10:30 am and were on board at 11:55 am. Our first impression ... Read More
Day 1: Our family of 5 traveled from Philadelphia suburbs to Bayonne NJ for this trip. It took 1 hour and 50 minutes to get there in the rain on a Thursday morning. We arrived at 10:30 am and were on board at 11:55 am. Our first impression was WOW. The ship is in excellent condition for a 13 year old. We headed up to the 14th floor and walked our way through the entire ship in awe of all she had to offer. I had seen many pictures and videos but to be here! Finally! After exploring for about 40 minutes we headed to the Windjammer for lunch. We didnt have any trouble finding a table and the food was excellent considering they were serving 3000 people. It was hot and tasty. At 1:20 we headed to our staterooms and enjoyed exploring them. Our bags arrived piecemeal over the next few hours; every time we came back there was another bag there. We met our stateroom attendants. (We had one D3 superior balcony and one interior K room with Pullman bed.) Our kids were at a different muster station than us but they are all over 17 years old so we didnt worry. We were on the 6th floor and thought this was ideal since we were able to take the stairs for all the activities at the Palace Theater, Dining Room, Casino, Studio B and all the lower level bars. We were mid ship so very close to the stairs was also helpful. And during the rough seas our rooms were in a good spot. Our room was just aft of the hump so looking directly forward was limited but this really didn't affect our view at all. We almost missed sail away it was so smooth. I was expecting to feel something, Engines revving, a lurch, but nope. I noticed the land moving out our balcony! We headed up to the 12th deck and watched the ship pass under the Verrazano Bridge. It looked like it passed by inches but my DH says it was 20 feet. DINING experience: Windjammer was consistently good and fast. Healthy options including fresh fruit and salads were always available. Main Dining: when we booked only MTD was available so as soon as I could I booked 6:30 pm dinners each night online. I highly recommend this as many people were waiting at the dining room each night and we were always seated immediately. After the first night we were seated at the same table #501 which had sort of window seat (obstructed by lifeboats) but it was out of the way in the corner. The best thing about being at table 501 was our servers. After a few days they got to know you and knew what you liked. Bassem and Desmond were fantastic. The food was consistently good. It was always hot and if we didn't like something, Desmond would notice and bring something else. We enjoyed the main dining room for breakfast and lunch on sea days and were able to meet many nice people as it was usually at a large table for these meals. Cafe Promenade was good for a yummy slice of pizza or small sandwich when we wanted something light. Meet and Mingle was on the second day, the first sea day, and was well attended. They gave out a few raffle prizes and my DH and DD each won something. (2 free in room movies and an hour of internet) Some of us went on a cabin crawl and we got to see Balcony, grand suite, family suite and junior suite rooms. After the Cabin crawl we organized a slot pull and each of us won 70 dollars with our first participant pulling 1000 dollars on the big wheel! PRODUCTION shows and Games: Among the five of us I think we attended every show possible. The welcome aboard show had a little bit of everything and the comedian was good, Billy Garan. That was at 7:45 so we had to hurry after dinner. The other shows were very good including Tribute to the Temptations, Randy Cabral (juggler extraordinaire) and comedian and juggler Chris Bliss. These were at 9 pm usually. We also loved the Ice show, Spirit of the Seasons which we attended by muster station and saw this at 2 pm on the second to the last sea day. We also attended the Quest, Battle of the Sexes and many of the Trivia contests. We were able to watch the Love and Marriage game show on our TV after the actual show. (Plan your route to Studio B, it can only be accessed from the back of the ship by the photo gallery.) PORTS of CALL Bermuda: We had one and a half very rough sea days before we arrived in Bermuda in the pouring rain. I understand that it is common to have rough seas during this route and we were forewarned. It was still unsettling at times and many on board were sick. I can't really review this port since all we did was ride the #7 bus from the dockyard to Hamilton and back again in the rain. It cleared up just prior to our sail away and we could see how beautiful Bermuda was and decided we have to go back there. St. Maarten: We were so amazed at how beautiful this location is as we watched it get closer and closer. The ship made a complete Uturn as we backed into port here. I had booked a private tour with Bernard's tours and we were met by a representative almost right away just after walking down the dock. We got a 4 hour tour of both sides of the island including Maho beach for an hour watching the planes land and the Playa resort near Orient beach where we stayed and swam for an hour. Puerto Rico:we landed here at 7 am and didn't have any plans. As we exited the ship around 8 am we were met by many private tour guides and agreed to a one hour tour of old San Juan for 10 dollars per person. We were dropped off at the Del Morro Fort and walked back through the streets to the port.(we had the choice to walk or get a ride back, we chose to walk to see more of old San Juan.) It was extremely hot and we went back early to the ship. We loved the feel of the old city and enjoyed walking the blue cobblestone streets. Labadee: By far our favorite destination of this trip! Labadee is just beautiful. We were among the first off the ship this day waiting on deck 2 for the all clear. I knew we wanted to make the most of our time here. We got the all clear just before 8 am and off we went! Thanks to CC we knew to book a cabana early and to arrive early. We booked an over the water on Nellies beach and it was worth it. We had our own access to the water without the sand and we had shade or sun whenever we wanted it. We also had a ride to the cabana and a ride back to the ship at the end, all perks of the cabana rentals. Also with the cabana we had an attendant that would bring us drinks and he called the vehicle to pick us up at the end as well. We were the first in the water and it was warm and clear. We brought our own snorkel gear and could see many small fish and some mid sized fish. We were so happy to have an underwater camera and got some good videos and stills of the area. Note that the cabana water access included a ladder and probably elderly and handicapped should not be at the cabanas on Nellie's including 3, 4 or 5,6 ,7 , and 8. Our side (the west side of the beach) cabanas 4-3-2-1 had sun all day. The other side, 5-6-7-8-9-10 had trees and more shade in the early part of the day. We could always find shade beneath the roof of the cabana if we wanted. Lunch was at Barefoot beach and we enjoyed a tasty barbecue, but there were not enough tables to eat there so we brought our food back to our cabana. We were very sorry to leave Labadee. And look forward to another trip here. Sea Days Our favorite hang outs were Dizzy's on the 14th floor, it was a great vantage point to watch the belly flop contest as it overlooks the pool and the front of the ship. It was rarely busy and we could always find a seat at a window.(note Dizzy's can only be accessed by the port side elevators aft.) And we enjoyed the Schooner bar as it was our trivia hang out and on off times was a quiet place with a window view with great bartenders. DRINK package we had three of us over 21 on the package so it was very expensive. I would say that only one of us (me) got our moneys worth. It was nice to not have a big bill at the end, but in the future I don't think we would get it again. I hated all the little slips and thought we could do without them. Our tips were included. We did often tip extra, but still would prefer not to have to sign for each drink. I wished the package included more wine than the house variety, but the house wine was palatable anyway. we chose express check out and were worried about carrying all our bags off the ship but it went smoothly and we were headed off by 9:15 and home by 11:45 am. if we had done regular check out, our assigned tag number was for 11 am disembarkation. we were happy we chose express option even though lifting the bags onto the bus was hard. . OVERALL IMPRESSIONS Things I was glad to have: 1. Cruise critic 2. Cabana in Labadee 3. snorkel gear 4. reservations for My Time Dining 5. lots of extra SD cards for photographs 6. Express check out Things I didn't use or would prefer to not have 1. command hooks 2.clothespins 3. soft sided cooler 4. extra wine (the house wine was fine) 5. over the door shoe holder 6.all those paper receipts for drinks   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Check in at the Port was fast and organized. Do not let the age of the ship fool you, while the Explorer is showing some signs of time on the outside, on the inside she remains a majestic beauty. This ship is very well maintained with her ... Read More
Check in at the Port was fast and organized. Do not let the age of the ship fool you, while the Explorer is showing some signs of time on the outside, on the inside she remains a majestic beauty. This ship is very well maintained with her public spaces appearing as if they could have been created days ago. We had a balcony state room with an ocean view and found it to be nicely sized, clean and with plenty of storage space.The food in both Portofinos and the main dining room was excellent. While the Windjammer buffet seemed to do a nice job covering the basics, the adjacent Jade buffet offered ethnic creations that were great.Most nights we passed on the main show in favor of some of the smaller groups playing on the ship. The Take Four Quartet in Dizzy's Lounge made our agenda daily and provided crowd pleasing entertainment (thanks Jonny, JoJo, Aldo and Russell).Service on board was outstanding, Tamara and Kenger in the dinning room and Ralph in the crows nest seemed to know what we wanted well before we did.Overall this was a great ship that we look forward to sailing on again. From check in and boarding to dinning, port calls and disembarking, Royal Caribbean was very well organized. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
On 2 May, my wife Mary, friends Mike and Joyce, and yours truely, SailawayJack left Cape Liberty on the Explorer of the Seas for 9 great nights. I had sailed out of Bayonne before, the 2nd cruise ever out of the port. This is not my ... Read More
On 2 May, my wife Mary, friends Mike and Joyce, and yours truely, SailawayJack left Cape Liberty on the Explorer of the Seas for 9 great nights. I had sailed out of Bayonne before, the 2nd cruise ever out of the port. This is not my favorite port, but I can drive there in 2 hours. Dropped my passengers off with the luggage, parked car, waited about 1/2 hour, and was on the ship aboutm 11:30 am. Not too bad. Avoided Windjammer crowd and decided to tour the ship. It is the largest on I have sailed on. I read many reviews about Explorer prior to sailing, and I found nothing about this ship which I did not like. For an older ship, Explorer is in great shape. Stayed in an inside cabin (7437), and it was the first time in a long time. Cabin was plenty large enough for two of us. Lots of storage, and clean. Craig our cabin attendant was good. Plenty of ice and towels. We ate all breakfasts in MDR, and all but one evening were spent there. Food was better than my last cruise. It actually has improved. June and Frank, waiter and assistant were best we have had. They made the cruise. Last night we ate in Portofinos. Great as usual. Windjammer lunches were ok, not great. Service there was good. Shows (ice, Greg London) were the best shows I have seen on a cruise. Stopped at Bermuda. Took tour of island with RoseAnn, whom we used 2 years ago. Stopped at Swizzle Inn and got swizzled (rum punch). Later, ladies swam with the dolphins. They loved that. Stopped at St. Martin, took bus tour and glassbottom boat ride to reef (see and sea tour). Walked around OSJ and toured fort. Labadee was ok, but like Cocoa Cay better. Beaches are rocky. Wear shoes. Walked off ship at 9:25, luggage was ready, and pulled out of parking lot at 10:05. Parking is $19.00 per day. Overall it was one of the best cruises I have taken. Loved the ship and the people we met. Would go back in an instant Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Four of us (me, wife, and two sons, ages 22 and 24) sailed on the Explorer for a nine day cruise out of Bayonne on May 16th. Here is a brief review: Ship: Wow! This ship is not very new but it is in great shape. Clean and sparkling. ... Read More
Four of us (me, wife, and two sons, ages 22 and 24) sailed on the Explorer for a nine day cruise out of Bayonne on May 16th. Here is a brief review: Ship: Wow! This ship is not very new but it is in great shape. Clean and sparkling. Great artwork (we wished the art auction art was even half as good). The employees were all excellent. In the old days (the 90s?) it seemed the ratio was about 1:1. Now it is more like three passengers for every crew. It appears that this has allowed the employees to be better paid? Just speculation, but it had that feeling. Cabins: My wife and I had a balcony cabin on the bump (7612). We had room service breakfast on our balcony every morning except the one where we slept past 10 and room service was no longer serving breakfast. Are the bump balconies bigger? Perhaps, since they are on an angle—so they are normal size at one end and a bit deeper at the other. We liked it, but then we have always liked our balconies, wherever they were. The cabin steward was perfect—honored all requests (e.g. robes), never bothered us but yet, took care of everything. Food: We had anytime dining and had 7:30 reservations for all but one night. Always seated within five minutes at a table just for the four of us, and always with the same waiters. The food was better than I can remember on any prior cruise with any cruise line (We have been on about 10 cruises, on RCCL, NCL, Princess, Celebrity and Carnival). The portions were not huge, but you could order as much as you wanted. Three of the four of us are vegetarians and they ate very well. The other night we ate at Portofino ($20 each plus a tip)—all agreed it was well worth the extra money. Entertainment: We did not go to any of the singing and dancing shows. The prime time comedians were good. The late night "adult" comedian was not very funny. My wife and I spent about four evenings up on the 14th floor listening and dancing to Take Four, a very good group of musicians and a good sense of humor. They stopped around 12:30 and we wish they had stayed later. The boys were mostly down at the nightclub, which they say was OK. Note that since it was mid-May, there were not a lot of people their age on the ship. By next month that is sure to change, but for a myriad of reasons, this is when we had to go. Ports: In Bermuda, one son when scuba diving with a ship excursion and had high praise. The rest of us just looked around the port since we had previously cruised there and spent three days docked. In San Juan, an old friend took us around Old San Juan, but that was it since the ship was leaving at 1:30 pm. In St. Martin we spent a great day at Orient Beach. We took a taxi (about $32 each way for the four of us) and rented beach chairs with umbrellas and a "free" drink for $7 each. The nude beach is separate and marked, so you will not end up there by accident. In Labadee we wandered off the ship at 11 am and had no problem obtaining four beach chairs under a palm tree (the local employees wait around for a tip, but the ship handout the night before admonished us not to pay, so we did not and all was fine). We rented mats ($12 each) and floated around in the water until about 3 pm, since all-aboard was 3:30. We surmised that they were over-charging for the water slide ($20) since hardly anyone was using it. We were in Labadee nine years ago, and it is much more fixed up, and of course, has many more opportunities to use your Sea Pass. But like the rest of the cruise, that is all up to you, as anything you would really want (beach chair, lunch, beach) is included. We had a lovely cruise and have high praise for RCCL. The only snag came at the end, when someone (a shore worker) apparently speared one of our suitcases with a forklift, destroying the bag and damaging some contents. This seems to be a bit common as they had a claims rep right there. I expect the matter will be amicably resolved in the near future. We had parked at the pier ($171) and just piled into the car and drove off back into the real world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was my 5th cruise on the Explorer and I've found the experience to be consistently wonderful. Embarkation was quick and organized. Service was outstanding throughout the cruise. Disembarkation was also fast with no wait at ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise on the Explorer and I've found the experience to be consistently wonderful. Embarkation was quick and organized. Service was outstanding throughout the cruise. Disembarkation was also fast with no wait at customs. People on the cruise were courteous and friendly, as was the staff. There was a good mix of people of all ages. Formal nights were definitely formal. Many people dressed up on all nights. The headliner shows were the best I've seen. However, the production shows are getting old. I'm tired of seeing the same ones over and over. The ice show was fantastic, as always. The Explorer is an older ship that spends a lot of time in the North Atlantic causing significant wear and tear. You would not know this when you are aboard. Our cabin was in good condition. Only the bathroom floor tile needed some work. During the cruise our balcony was painted and some touch up painting was done in the bathroom. The menu was good but heavy on the seafood side. Since I'm allergic to shellfish my options were sometimes very limited . We were disappointed that there was only a DJ instead of a live band on sail away. Also the shops had very little merchandise. Many shelves were empty. Even the big sales had very limited stock. All in all it was a great cruise on a great ship with an outstanding staff. I would do it again in a minute. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
After straying from the RCCL brand for a little bit (due to cost issues), I decided to celebrate my 20th anniversary in style by booking a 9 night Caribbean sailing with ports of call being Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee. ... Read More
After straying from the RCCL brand for a little bit (due to cost issues), I decided to celebrate my 20th anniversary in style by booking a 9 night Caribbean sailing with ports of call being Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee. All I can say is I do not know why I ever strayed. RCCL is truly a line that aims to please its customers. I realize that some may disagree with me, but in my experience, this is a valid opinion. Embarkation was really easy. For this cruise, my membership in the Crown and Anchor Society jumped up a level from the Gold level so for the first time in our cruising life, we were ushered to the priority embarkation area. It was fun, speedy and easy. The Explorer is still a beautiful ship. We sailed her back in 2006 when she was fairly new, seven years later, she is showing some signs of aging, but remains a very nice and well maintained ship. But one has to realize that sailing out of NYC can place a lot of wear and tear on even a ship of this size, she is always being banged around and the route to Bermuda is never an easy one. Captain Henrick Loy and his staff have certainly kept her in shape. The food was very good with a nice variety to select from. Of course after eating hotel/ship food all week, it is nice to get back to some home cooking but I had no complaints except for my resulting weight gain! Oh well, back to the gym! The wait staff was amazing and attentive and did their utmost to attend to your every need. They made all meals enjoyable and fun. On our sailing, we were fulfilling a Wish for a girl from Toronto named Marianna. What a sweetheart of a young lady. She along with the Captain and his staff managed not only to fulfill this young ladys wish to sail, but all of us as guests managed to set a record and raise a little over $11,000.00 for the Make a Wish foundation. Captain Loy is truly a man with a heart, on this cruise if we surpassed the $8,000.00 mark, Marianna was permitted to push him off a 'gangplank into the pool fully dressed! At the $10,000.00 mark, Marianna was permitted to throw a pie in his face. Both fundraising targets were reached and the Captain was such a good sport. Also I would like to extend a special mention to the entertainment staff, Leigh Xuereb and his partner Frank the Tank. They made the entertainment on this ship first rate. Partnered together these two were so energetic and so entertaining. Leigh has enough energy for everyone on board. What a team! Every morning I had to watch the daily morning show to see what antics they were up to. So entertaining!!! The ice show is also a DO NOT MISS. All in all the entertainment is FANTASTIC. If you are bored with the entertainment on this ship, then YOU ARE BORING!!! In terms of the Make a Wish fundraising goal, Leigh currently has no hair as he was shaved BALD on this cruise. Hence our final goal I hope I got the numbers right!!!< My only complaint is that some older passengers not all some tend to be so cranky and they treat the staff as if they are sub-standard. I witnessed some of this treatment and all I can say is that the staff on this ship are truly classy always a smile and always willing to please. I never saw anyone lose their temper even if they were being mistreated. Lighten up older people. Sail Holland America is you are not happyI am a fifty something year old and I LOVED this cruise, the staff and the ship. Again, lighten up!!! My 20th anniversary was celebrated with a vow renewal and Carol-Ann the Explorers event coordinator was amazing! She made certain that all of our needs were taken care of. And, if anyone questions the $595.00 cost for the renewal, all I can say is, it was worth every penny. Our ports of call were beautiful and the weather was amazing. All in all, we had a great time and I have decided never to stray again. As they say, you get what you pay for and for the price RCCL provides the most bang for your vacation buck! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Before we left, I read a lot of reviews as part of my researching process. We had never cruised before and had nothing to compare it to. We tried not to have high expectations after reading some of the negative comments. We were so ... Read More
Before we left, I read a lot of reviews as part of my researching process. We had never cruised before and had nothing to compare it to. We tried not to have high expectations after reading some of the negative comments. We were so pleasantly surprised!! On May 2, we arrived in Bayonne. We chose to save a little money and use Premier Parking. It was a five minute shuttle ride to the ship, so we figured why not. Well, I will tell you more about that mistake later. Once we got to the terminal and dropped our bags off, it was like a tornado it was so fast. Here's your seapass, smile for a picture, here is the gangway, "ding" you are on the ship. I honestly didn't even get to see the ship before we got on it! I stuck my arm around a sheltered area and snapped a quick shot before walking on board. That was it! Before I knew it, we were on the elevator headed up to the 11th deck for lunch. The whole process was so organized and methodic that for those of us inexperienced cruisers I had a few "now what" moments. Poof, we were eating our lunch enjoying our first taste of what would become 9 days of pretty good food. Was it perfect, nope, but there was plenty of variety and if you found some favorites for breakfast and lunch, we were never disappointed. We went to the sailaway party, it was a bit windy and chilly and the party seemed to get cut short since there was a medical emergency that delayed our cruise. It was kind of hard to dance and celebrate when an ambulance had just pulled up to pick up the poor passenger. I am glad they were not disrespectful to them. It was very tasteful. Once we were underway, it was really neat to be up top to see the tight squeeze under the bridge. We went to our cabin and found it to be plenty big. We had anticipated such a small space but it wasn't bad at all. Our luggage did not arrive until around 6:00 but it worked out ok. We changed and went to the main dining room. What a beautiful room! The staff was friendly and always helpful with questions. Dinner was great, and we were tired. We turned in early and it's a good thing we did. We were awakened early by loud crashes and lots of movement. Sometime during the night we encountered a nor'easter. Being on the second deck, we hoped to not feel the sway of the boat, but wow! We took showers, that was an adventure as we slammed into the wall. Standing was an effort! We left the cabin and found barf bags taped everywhere. I couldn't believe that this is how it was at sea. Why would people choose this for a vacation? Well, after asking around, I was told that it was not the norm. Thank God! After being awake for a while, my husband was starting to turn green. We had brought some sea sickness meds and he popped a couple and had to lay down. The upper decks were even worse. I think the entire ship slept for 24 hours. It was the only way to survive it! Waves were crashing into our window! Absolutely amazing! The captain would make occasional announcements reminding us to use hand rails and walk carefully around the ship while it got tossed around. Sometime overnight, the seas calmed and that was the end of that! We spent the next day getting to know the ship. Yes there was some wear and tear, but honestly, I was impressed. There was always someone polishing and wiping. They kept her super clean. Breakfast in the Windjammer was always good. "Washi washi!!" would greet us every morning, the biggest happiest smile on Earth! It was impossible not to smile back even without coffee yet! It didn't take us long to figure out that the only way to really know or care what day it was was by looking at the elevator floor. That was pretty cool! It would change every day. One elevator seemed stuck on deck one for quite a while. When it finally opened up one day, I noticed the day on the floor said Tuesday. I had to ask my husband "what day is it"? He replied "Wednesday". I got excited for a minute thinking we had been issued a bonus day!! It was quickly corrected by some unknown stealth like person. I never saw any of them physically get changed. But they did. The main dining room was beautiful and the meals were good. My husband got the strip steak the first night and it was out of this world good. Perfect! Remembering this, a few nights later I ordered one and asked for medium rare. It was so well done it was tougher than shoe leather. It could have easily been used as a brick in home construction. Megan, our waitress offered to get me another, she could tell that it was over done. I was actually so full from the day that I declined and just ate my starter, veggies and desert. There were times when I wanted an appetizer and a salad and was never denied. I also had never had creme' brulee. But didn't want to order it since I was unsure I would like it. Megan brought me one to try as well as the desert that I knew I would like. The Windjammer could get quite busy and I didn't necessarily enjoy fighting for my food. The food was good and there was plenty. Why people feel the need to push you out of the way to get to the 100 burgers that were there is just ridiculous. We would try to go when it wasn't so crowded. Breakfast was never an issue since we are early risers. The pushers seemed to only be there at lunch. These were the 30's and 40's folks that apparently wanted the most for their money and were used to Walmart buffets. That's all I can think of. Like animals! The only complaint I have except for the people would be getting beverages. Some days a server would be right there, other days we would just have to go and get it. No big deal really, it would have been good to know which was the proper way. One way or the other for consistancy. There was some sort of show every night. The entertainment was first class! Shows ranged from singing and dancing to comedy, to a ventriliquist, variety shows you name it. And they were ALL good. The ice show is a must see!! Although you have designated times to see it, there is always plenty of room as long as you get there early. Our scheduled show was postponed when there were such rough seas. The odds of any of the skaters landing where they were supposed to when the ship was moving so much in a mid jump, that would not have been good. Now, let me get to the finest entertainer. Leigh. Our cruise director, or the Energizer Bunny. The energy this man has needs to be bottled and sold. He is non stop and never without a smile on his face. Always friendly, never made anyone feel like they didn't matter even though he had to be at the other end of the ship to be on stage in 2 minutes. His pay needs to be double whatever it is because he was the ultimate host! And Frankie, the activities director was right there with Leigh. I know Frank would probably like to be cruise director one day, but to split this team up would be a mistake. I can't believe what these guys put up with, with a smile at all times! I saw an older lady pinch Frankie's butt soo hard during the 70's party, I couldn't believe he didn't knock her out! But, always just a smile from him. I was there when the two of them entered the hot tub in their suits, shoes and all. They just don't stop making people laugh. Great entertainers!! How anyone can say anything negative about this ship is beyond me! From the crew, to the food, to the cabins everything was thought of and nothing was a problem. There were occasional medical emergencies on board and they were taken care of quickly and you could tell there was heavy training in this area. While we were in Bermuda the crew practiced with the lifeboats. It was very comforting to know that they keep their people trained. As far as negativity, the only thing I can say is that apparently the older you get the meaner and more impolite you get. It would shock me to see the pushy behavoir of old people. Seriously. I was just shocked! Not everyone, but enough that it was noticable. For the most part, everyone was friendly, talkative and happy to be on board. The pool area was very nice. Plenty of places to get a chair. The chair saving is out of control though. As much as you see signs saying it won't be tolerated, it still happens. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a spot everyday without a problem, but I did see people arrive later that couldn't get a chair. Towels would stay in chairs all day, never to have a person sit in them. It was sad to see. Sometimes, I would mention this to people when they were looking for a spot. "I haven't seen anyone near those chairs for three hours" Only a few would move the towel and sit themselves down. Drinks galore! There was never a shortage of someone bringing bar service to you. Holy cow! And don't think that since the drinks are cute and fruity that they aren't potent. They do not skimp on the alcohol. I learned after the first couple of poolside days to pace myself or I was asleep by 5pm. The casino isn't really our thing, but it was fun to try out. We found it smoky so we went on the designated non smoking nights. We didn't use the night clubs so I can't rate them. We enjoyed the Crown and Kettle Pub and sat in the "outside" area within the promanade to people watch. That was fun. We used the internet cafe once and it was perfect for what we needed it for. I used the library but found it to be very noisy with people sitting and hanging out to chat. Not your typical "library" etiquette. So, I left. When we initially booked this over a year ago, my husband said "we will try this and see if we like it". Well, on the second to last day while playing mini golf in the sun he says "So, when should we do this again"? I liked it when Leigh said "If you are bored on this ship it is because you are boring". There is a jam packed schedule of things to do, all the time. There is something for everyone. Sometimes I wanted to be in two places at one time! I would recommend this ship and this cruise line to anyone and everyone. Thank you Royal Caribbean for a wonderful vacation! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We sailed out of Port Liberty on May 16th. Port Liberty is not an attractive port, but check and embarkation were a breeze. Took around just around an hour in all. Ship is definitely showing wear and tear, mainly in small places. There was ... Read More
We sailed out of Port Liberty on May 16th. Port Liberty is not an attractive port, but check and embarkation were a breeze. Took around just around an hour in all. Ship is definitely showing wear and tear, mainly in small places. There was rust in the bathroom and the carpet had stains. However, nothing that really distracted from our good time. Staff was excellent, probably the friendliest and most personable ship we've ever been on. The captain was such a good sport. Frank and Leigh were a wonderful cruise director/manager team. Boo to Royal Caribbean that they're being split up in August! Food was okay to very good. Salad bar at lunch in the dining room beat the Windjammer by miles. We learned to eat our meals at the Dining Room or Cafe Promenade. Windjammer staff tries hard, but its a mess up there. One fellow passenger yelled at me for attempting to sit at a table he was saving for someone else! This cruise definitely seemed to attract an older crowd. Not sure if it was because most schools were still in session, or if this is typical. Loved the people we had dinner with. Royal Caribbean seems to due the best job of pairing you with people the same age than any other cruise line we've been. Earl (our waiter) and his magic tricks were the best. Julius did a super job of keeping our room spotless. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I was on the RCI Explorer of the Seas for a 9 night Bermuda and Caribbean cruise from Cape Liberty on the 18th April. It was a fantastic cruise and I couldn't fault it. Embarkation was quick and easy. I arrived at 10.45 and was on ... Read More
I was on the RCI Explorer of the Seas for a 9 night Bermuda and Caribbean cruise from Cape Liberty on the 18th April. It was a fantastic cruise and I couldn't fault it. Embarkation was quick and easy. I arrived at 10.45 and was on the ship by 11am. I wondered around the ship to get photos before the ship filled up. I went to the Windjammer to eat when it opened at 11.30am. It was a bit cold and very windy for the sail away party so I gave it miss. I went to check out my room just after 1.30pm and I was very happy. I had a Promenade Room 8591 and had a fantastic view of the Royal Promenade. I had a great time people watching. Just remember to close the curtains when you are getting undressed! This didn't happen to me but I have heard the stories. There was 4 sea days in all and there was quite a lot of activities going on around the ship if wished. I especially enjoyed the Belly Flop and World's Sexiest Man Competitions by the pool. We went to Bermuda and I did the 5 hour minibus excursion with RCI. It was fabulous. I've never seen sea like it. If you get the chance to go to Bermuda, GO!!! St Maarten I did on my own. I got a taxi which was only $8 to Maho beach to watch the planes coming in. There was a few going to the beach so that is why the taxi was cheap. St Thomas I did a 2 hour trip around the island with RCI. After that, I then went to Red Hook to get the ferry to Cruz Bay in St John. I had read peoples accounts regarding a 'Hook Bracelet' that a company makes in St John and wanted one. He made it just over a hour and I hoped back on the ferry to get back to the ship. San Juan, Puerto Rico I was a little disappointed. I did the forts tour with RCI but because we had to be back on the ship by 12.30pm we only had 2 and bit hours to see the forts. Including in the time, we got on a coach and then had to wait for another group. For the trip between the forts we had to wait for our coach to pick us up and then we had to walk back to the ship. There was no time to do a bit of shopping for souvenirs. Waste of time really. I wouldn't go there again. Food in the dinning room, Windjammer and Johnny Rockets was excellent. The staff were brilliant. The cruise director Leigh and is side kick (activities manager) Chris were brilliant too. They recorded the morning show in different areas of the Royal Promenade and you could stand and watch the show being made. Quite a laugh. Chris is moving on, which is a shame, as they did compliment each other very well. He has just been promoted and is moving to another ship. Not much more I can say really. It was fab, excellent, brill!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
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 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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