16 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Caribbean - Eastern

We read reviews before our vacation. We doubted a lot, but we decided to try. We returned yesterday and so happy, like we were in a paradise! The crew was phenomenal, the cabin was very comfortable, the service was excellent. Food was like ... Read More
We read reviews before our vacation. We doubted a lot, but we decided to try. We returned yesterday and so happy, like we were in a paradise! The crew was phenomenal, the cabin was very comfortable, the service was excellent. Food was like from haven. It's very hard to please to everyone, when over 3000 tourists on the ship, but if you are normal honest educated, intelligent person, you have to be reasonable and objective critics. The roomservise was fantastic, the waiters work was absolutely excellent. We would like put the waiters names Vas, Presly and Lynch Del Rosario, Franklyn. Thank you for great service! I'm laughing when I am reading the reviews: "a lot of people in elevators". Do you try to use the stairs? The entertainment was very interesting: picturesque iceskating show, library, bars, cafeteria, music bands and all shows. Thank you very mutch to all personal of the cruise. We are looking for another trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
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
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
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 traveled from Virginia Beach to Bayonne to go on our first cruise with many family members. When we arrived at Cape Liberty we had to wait an hour in a traffic line to drop off our bags. Not impressed with the start. The process at ... Read More
We traveled from Virginia Beach to Bayonne to go on our first cruise with many family members. When we arrived at Cape Liberty we had to wait an hour in a traffic line to drop off our bags. Not impressed with the start. The process at Cape Liberty is disfunctional making the initial start of the cruise an unpleasant experience. Parking cost were outrageous at $19/day. After a rushed process of mass confusion and a few shuttle busess we were on the ship. Don't bring kids unless you have them tethered to you during the check in process. After getting settled onboard things calmed down, until the second day. Then the sea decided to toss us about like a plastic toy in a wave pool. Not much we can do about nature. Our Capt did an outstanding job at steering the ship through this harsh storm. Due to steaming delays, we had to miss our first port labadee, Haiti. We received the gracious reward of spending 12 hours in San Juan which I rate as close to Tijuanna Mexico. We would have traded 12 hrs in San Juan for 1 hr in Labadee. Ship was very clean and well maintained. Nightly Entertainment was good. Trivia, Bingo, Ice show, musical and comedians. (comedian was a little dry). Food Menu selection was poor. Windjammer served same food daily.. Needed some variety. Casino was too small and Casino staff was rude. Excursion in St. Marteen was dissapointing. (bus trip to Marigot and then some beach time at Oriental Beach. Trip was not worth the money and it was not very well organized. I got a tour of where the bus drivers home was, what school he went too, the firehouse, hospital, police station, local super market and a few other points of interest to the bus driver. Lunch was to be served but they ran out of food with approx 10 people not getting anything). Stateroom Attendant Service was excellent. Our stateroom attendant "HERMAN" was very professional and very attentive to our needs. He was the best and really made what started out as a bad trip a pleasurable experienc. Our toilet was broken and our shower head was broke but Herman made sure they were fixed promptly. Cruise Director Richard Spacey was very helpful and entertaining but he could have had a few backup events planned for the foul weather days. returning home: Again, not a pleasurable experince getting off the ship. It was a long wait to disembark. Bathrooms were closed, no drinks available during a 2 hour wait. Then a long walk to collect luggage and get back to the car. Overall I would give this cruise a 6 on a 1-10. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Although this review is written by a first time cruiser be assured that I know what Great service, and a Great time is!My husband and I decided on a cruise for our honeymoon as it is such a great value for you money!We choose Royal because ... Read More
Although this review is written by a first time cruiser be assured that I know what Great service, and a Great time is!My husband and I decided on a cruise for our honeymoon as it is such a great value for you money!We choose Royal because my sister has cruised with them twice already, and absolutely loved it! She is quite picky about service, food and accommodations so I knew I was in for some first class ( royal ) treatment! Leaving from New Jersey was convenient and the whole process went quite smoothly and quick. we were on board in 25 minutes! Our rooms were ready and much bigger they we expected.Our luggage was a little late it arrived around 7:00pm,but we did attend dinner in the main dinning room anyways.The quality of the food, menu choices and the service were superb. Bravo to the dinning staff!!!! My husband, who is quite fussy found many choices every night on the menu that he loved. A special note, all the waiters, cabin staff,ect. were all so happy to help and accommodate us all with a smile. But I got a few peeks behind the scenes, when no one knew I was looking and there they were, laughing and having fun at work. That is the sign of some GREAT employees they truly were happy to be there and that's why they did their jobs so well! Thank you Jevey, our main dinning room waiter, and Adelle our cabin attendant. This ship is breathtaking! Attention to detail is outstanding.The ice skating show is a DO NOT MISS! That was fabulous. We went on 2 shore excursions, St. Thomas half day champagne cruise. This was a blast. We sailed to St Johns where we snorkeled or just lay ed around on the beach, quite relaxing. The staff were wonderful and the champagne and rum punch were flowing on the way back!!!also we took the sandbar excursion on Haiti wow that was great!I must say I was really surprised by Labadee Haiti! this is Royal's private beach area on Haiti. What a beautiful location! There were beaches for kids, beaches for adults plenty of chaises,not at all what I expected from the pictures.They made it look very commercial. But that was not the case at ALL. This was our last stop before returning home. The ship arrived rite on time, we waited 45 minutes on board and then went through customs, total process 1 hour.We will certainly cruise with Royal again! like next year!!!!We can't wait!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
As this was my first cruise there was a lot to learn. There were things that I loved and things that absolutely went wrong. The things I loved about Explorer of the Seas: By far the best customer service I have ever experienced. I would ... Read More
As this was my first cruise there was a lot to learn. There were things that I loved and things that absolutely went wrong. The things I loved about Explorer of the Seas: By far the best customer service I have ever experienced. I would hear people complain about some really silly things and they handled it perfectly. (i.e one couple always wanted to sit at the window for dinner. Our meal time was 8:30pm and its pitch black!) Our stateroom attendant Dee was excellent and went above and beyond the call of duty. The food served in the main dining room was delicious. No need to go to the specialty restaurants. The windjammer cafe was good for breakfast and a quick snack. NO WASHY NO FOODY! The things I wish were better: The rooms were a decent size but severely outdated. It could seriously use a face lift and a deeper cleaning. The activities on board weren't suited for my age group. They became very repetitive and all the activities were mainly at night. I'm not a huge night owl so it left me with sitting by the pool all day or how to learn to play bridge. They could improve the options for the under 35 crowd by a lot. Our ports were beautiful but the stay was too shore. Especially in Puerto Rico. We arrived at 7am. Nothing opened until 9am. We had to be back on the boat at 12:30pm. We barely had any time to see Old San Juan let alone anything else. It was a good first experience and I know what to look for next time. I don't know when I will cruise again but I wouldn't rule out Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Background Information: My mother and I took this vacation for celebration of graduating from middle school with high honor roll throughout the 3 years (of hell). I (15 years old) have previously sailed on HAL, Celebrity and Carnival ... Read More
Background Information: My mother and I took this vacation for celebration of graduating from middle school with high honor roll throughout the 3 years (of hell). I (15 years old) have previously sailed on HAL, Celebrity and Carnival coming to a total of 7 cruises. My mom has sailed on Costa, Celebrity, Carnival, Norwegian and HAL 12 times. This was our first RCCL cruise. Embarkation: We live in upstate New York, so we were happy we didn't have to fly or travel too far to Bayonne, NJ. We took Yankee Trails World Travel to and from the dockyard. Only about 5 other people were on the bus on the way down, so it was very quiet and easy to take a nap. We arrived very early. It was quick and easy, less than 15 minutes. No line. Unfortunately we had to wait for about an hour before they allowed passengers to begin boarding. Ship/Cabin Info: The ship is HUGE! 138,000 tons was by the the largest ship I have ever sailed on. It took a good 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. I really liked the layout of the ship. Everything was relatively easy to get to, once you figured it out. Our cabin was in the very front of the ship, which was kind of a pain. We had an inside stateroom, which was plenty for two people. We were never in the cabin except for showers (sometimes we would shower in the gym/spa) and sleeping. Don't listen to people who say that the Explorer is worn out. It is a beautiful ship and is still in really good shape for its age. The crew is always cleaning and maintaining the ship. If you are having a good time, you aren't going to notice is the carpet has a small stain on it. It has no effect on your vacation either. The Royal Promenade was gorgeous and always nice to look at from any of the above decks. Activities: Royal Caribbean really needs to add more entertainment and activities for all ages. At some times I would actually feel a little bored! We did not have enough pool games or really anything going on during the day at sea. You could go ice skating, (only on certain days) rock climbing, or play sports/mini golf, but if none of that was really your thing you ultimately sat by the pool or in the Solarium. Oh by the way the Solarium is not really adults only. If your teen/child is quiet and respects the adults, no one has a problem with you enjoying the larger hot tubs or pool. It is nice to nap or read in the Solarium compared to in the main pool area with music and children running around. We did not go to any shows but everyone says "Don't miss the ice show!" We got our tickets in the MDR but never went. Service/Dining: The Explorer is not as "friendly" as everyone talks it up to. The crew rarely smiled or greeted you. Our cabin steward was AWFUL. She left us only two animal towels over the course of the 9 night vacation. We had difficulties receiving an extra towel. She was very rude and usually only cleaned our room once at night between 5 and 9pm. When we were leaving we did not tip her since she was a lousy steward. She cursed and yelled at us as we were walking away. The other steward whom we would occasionally would pass in the hall would always smile and quickly chat with us. We never had a problem in the MDR or Windjammer. Our waiters in the MDR were absolutely incredible. The Maitre D cut my duck up off the bone into little bite sized pieces for me. On the first night we did not like the people we sat with (everyone was rude, silent and seemed stuck up). There was no problem moving our seats where we sat with another mother and daughter who were hilarious. Our waiter and asst. waiter were phenomenal. They were so sweet and funny and always made our dinner a pleasurable time. The food in the windjammer was fine. Nothing too special. Same food everyday. The MDR was better. I suggest going to breakfast in the MDR at least once! Soft serve ice cream machine was very convenient. We did not try any specialty restaurants. Leigh was a very funny cruise director and everyone had a lot of laughs with him. When they were filming for the daily morning show my friends and I were able to jump in and give a shout out. I also got a picture with Leigh and his asst, whose name I can't remember right now. :/ Optix: This was the teen (12-17) room. We were separated by (12-14) and (15-17). During the cruise I was 14, but made friends with all of the older teens. I got permission from my mother to switch groups so I could join my friends in the activities. They were basically the same activities, but the 15-17 group would do it an hour later. We had dance parties every night in Optix. Each night would have a different theme. The dance floor was very small, but it usually wasn't an issue. Two nights we used the adult nightclub. One night for the "Silent Party" where everyone got headphones and could choose between 2 different djs music. It was an interesting experience which you should not miss! The next party in the nightclub was so much better than the parties in Optix. BERMUDA: Purchased bus day tickets. Took bus to Warwick Long Bay Beach/Jobson's cove. We have previously visit this spot. It's so much less populated compared to horseshoe. No one really jumps off the rocks like you can at horseshoe maybe because no one really knows if it is safe. But you can climb up the rocks to the top and you can an amazing view of the beach. The rock formations are incredible and so fascinating. The water was pretty cold compared to Caribbean water, but it was still swimmable. ST MAARTEN: We took a taxi to Orient Beach, on the French side of St. Martin. The beach was absolutely gorgeous and one of my favorite places. I definitely suggest trying a Guavaberry drink! PUERTO RICO: We took a ferry to the other side of the San Juan bay. We took a taxi to the Bacardi Factory. We thought it was going to be a quick 15 minute tour, but we misheard them and it was a 50 minute tour. We only had a couple hours in Puerto Rico, so by the time we got back to San Juan we had very little time left for shopping. We were given free samples and the tour was very informal. LABADEE: Labadee is a small peninsula owned by RCCL. You could easily walk the entire island several times. You have many beaches to choose from, but they are all pretty crowded. The water is like bath water. You have many attractions to choose from. The zip line is the longest zip line over water in the world. I stayed at adrenaline beach, which is the cove right below the zip line. Labadee has a cute little market where many Haitian vendors are all trying to sell you their handcrafts. Make sure you bargain them down A LOT if you want a reasonable price. Some vendors traded some of their items for a passengers food. If a Haitian was found at the barbecue they were escorted away and their food was throw in the trash. Disembarkation: It was very quick and easy, no problems. Our Yankee trails bus was late, so we were the last ones left. The bus was packed with people. It was definitely a much different experience compared to on the way down. We made a stop about halfway through, which let off a large number of people. The driver was very nice. I would definitely use Yankee Trails again in the future. Overall I had a very nice, long vacation. 9 days is a perfect length for a cruise. I made so many friends, which I still try and keep in touch with today. I met so many wonderful people that I hope to see again one day. I would definitely cruise with RCCL and the Explorer again. The itinerary was okay, nothing special. It is nice if you want a relaxing vacation without having to worry so much about the ports and using a lot of energy lol. Thank you for reading! Sorry it was so long. If you have any questions please message me! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I recently took the explorer of the seas on Dec 11 to the 23. This cruise left from NJ which was nice because I was able to drive there seeing I live in Syracuse, NY. This was also my first cruise so I really didn't know what to ... Read More
I recently took the explorer of the seas on Dec 11 to the 23. This cruise left from NJ which was nice because I was able to drive there seeing I live in Syracuse, NY. This was also my first cruise so I really didn't know what to expect. I have very mixed review about this cruise. I loved it because it was my first time to the Caribbean. I hated it for a lot of reasons though. First the embarkment was sort of easy. My friend was able to receive a wheelchair and we went thru the process pretty fast. However once on the ship, there was no one to direct us to our rooms and the lines for the single bay of elevators were long. And people were just rude. They would push onto the elevator before people got off. Our cabin- I found it to be nice and really enjoyed the balcony. However it really needed to be cleaned (salt on the balcony windows) and repainted. Our room attendant was very nice and did everything we ask. However we never know when the room would be cleaned because we weren't early risers. The food- Horrible at first. The main dining room food was kind of OK, once we knew what to order and what to stay away from. The Windjammer for dinner was horrible. It was the same selection every night. The sauce for make your own pasta or make your own pizza was nasty. I eat mostly salads and desserts for the first couple of days. When I complained to one of the supervisors about the food in the Windjammer he gave me an attitude. I was in shock and went to my head waiter to complain more. He was a sweet heart and really tried to help us out. He even had the chef come out on night to talk to us so we could figure out what we would enjoy. I went mostly for the food and ports and chose RC because everyone raves about it and all I could do was rant. By the six or seventh day we had shrimp cocktail and creme brulee every night afterwards because that was the only thing I really enjoyed. The ports- Amazingly beautiful. Haiti was sort of strange and the weather wasn't perfect. The locals just grab at you and pull you to see their goods. My daughter had someone lift her leg up so they could put a bracelet on her ankle. But you can get them to lower their prices on everything. The beach was very nice and private. The boat didn't stay the whole allotted time because a storm was coming, so we left about an hour and a half early. The caption made it up to use by staying in St. Maarten an hour later. San Juan was beautiful along with St. Maarten. While we were in St. Thomas, I took the trip to Tortola to go swimming with the dolphins, so I didn't see to much of St. Thomas. I will never go to St. Kitts again because to people are so rude and nasty there. But it is a beautiful area, we went to the beach and really enjoyed it. If you decide to go to the closest beach by the pier, which cost $4 each way, you will find it packed and the beach is basically a hill, suggest trying another further away. By far Antigua was my favorite port. We took the best of Antigua tour for $60 thru Rc and it was totally worth the money. Our bus driver Austin was really nice and even offered to take me and my daughter over to one of the beaches once we got back from the tour. Plus he fixed up the cut on her knee which was very nice. Austin even gave us a private tour of the area and was very knowledgeable. He was the nicest person I met the entire cruise. Time at sea - Ugh. I wont suggest to take a cruise down the coast if you get sea sick. I'm not sure if it was because we were going faster or if it was rough seas on the way down the coast but the boat was rocking really really bad. On the way back it wasn't as bad but still not as smooth as I thought it would be. Not a lot to do on the ship, except eat. The shows were not interesting and not what I thought they would be. The pools were freezing cold, that even my daughter wouldn't swim in it and kids usually don't care how cold it is, they always want to go swimming. Rc also advertise on their website that there are 4 pools and 6 whirlpools. Never did find that fourth pool and the crew didn't know where it was either, guess they were counting the ocean. Oh and it is salt water pools, kind of gross. Two of the pools were 5'6" which I wasn't able to use because I'm not a strong swimmer. The nicest whirlpool was in the spa, mostly because it was indoors, but it closed every night at 11, so if you want to relax you had to freeze in one of the outdoor ones. Bingo was a nice way to spend the time but the price of it was crazy. $32 for a 6 play card and was only four short games. I did enjoy the casino but didn't win anything. I did like the ship. Found it to be clean but a little out dated. The crew was nice but really couldn't answer any of your questions. I'm planning on cruising again but next time I think I will try Carnival. It is cheaper and I heard the food was good. At least if I spend less money and its not a good trip I wont feel as bad. I thought I was getting a good price for the explorer of the sea and for the length of the cruise plus all of the ports we went to but now I kinda feel like I wasted my money. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our first cruise for us, our group of 8 included 2 couples age 48+50, 57+60 and 2 daughters age 26+24. I had done extensive research prior to sailing, and it came handy during our cruise. Thanks CC! Embarkation was easy and ... Read More
This was our first cruise for us, our group of 8 included 2 couples age 48+50, 57+60 and 2 daughters age 26+24. I had done extensive research prior to sailing, and it came handy during our cruise. Thanks CC! Embarkation was easy and quick, Cape Liberty may not be pretty but it's functional, saves you from flying out and who cares about the port anyway! Like many before us have said, do not follow GPS directions...they are wrong! Even knowing this, our driver still decided to listen to GPS, resulting in us going around and around a few times. Cabins were ready, cabin 9346, D2, was excellent, no issues at all, dropped off our carry-ons and went to the Windjammer for lunch. We always ate at the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch, we found it to be tasty and with PLENTY of choices, it is buffet, but I would put it in the superior level. You can be as good or as bad as you want. If you are bad the gym area is great, you can work out all the calories eaten up. We only visited it the first day, and only to look at it! For dinner we mixed it up, did Portofino 3x, excellent the first 2, def worth the extra $20. The 3rd time would have been the mystery dinner night (price goes up to $50 pp) which was cancelled at the last minute due to illness of the actor. We were not aware that on this night the menu is reduced to 2 choices for entrees, appetizer was straight out of Windjammer...While we were reimbursed the extra $30 and provided with free wine (the cheapest) due to the show's cancellation, we still felt that limiting the menu' should have been disclosed ahead of time, as we probably would not have booked it to begin with. Their full menu's choices are excellent, the shrimp's risotto, mushrooms pappardelle, seafood skewer....yummy! Main Dining room was fine also, gave you the opportunity to seat down and take your time (you do tend to rush when eating at the the buffet). Windjammer at night time is much quieter and still with plenty of food. Entertainment: Tastes vary among people, most of our group was happy with the entertainment..ice show is VERY good, like many have already said. The RCL singers and dancers are also very good, maybe geared towards older crowd... We had a juggler/comedian from America got talent, he was also very good, can't remember his name......a Quartet, the Vagabonds also very good... The usual cruise games....Love and Marriage , Battle of the sexes, the Quest were funny and entertaining....How much fun depends on your willingness to participate...the more you do the more you enjoy things...but even spectators have fun. We personally did not care too much for cruise director Luke Aerowsmith, filling in for Jimmy Rhoades(sp?)same for other cruisers we spoke with...personalities.. Lots of areas around the ship where you could find music to listen to, people watching, reading or whatever...never really had a problem with finding chairs around the pools...solarium pool was my favorite, quieter without the constant music...great Jacuzzis, all around the pool deck. some people sat in it for hours...wrinkled when they got in...imagine when they got out! cruise staff was GREAT and incredibly hard working in more than one field. they deserve more than tipping guidelines... We never found bar staff and photographers to be pushy. do have your picture taken, yes they can be costly but budget for a few, they are so much nicer than your own. The 2 young ladies in our group wished there were more similar age cruisers, but most of the younger crowd was coupled...there seemed to be a LOT of seniors.... One person in our group complained of poor TV channels choice (!)...The rest of us did not quite understand...did he come on board to watch TV? not many channels he said... One VERY serious complaint in my eyes that had read about in other reviews.....MANY areas of the ship had a STRONG sewage smell...this was noticeable on several decks and several areas, impossible to miss....I mentioned it to some staff members and got "Really? where?" as an answer...luckily not in our cabin areas. I would say the smell of sewage was the only negative aspect of this ship. EXOS is well maintained, despite showing it's age in same areas..the crew is constantly cleaning...A previous review complained of grime and dirt on handrails, elevator buttons etc.... I couldn't find any trace of dirt of grime, anywhere, maybe they cleaned the ship after reading his review! Ports of call....would have loved to have more time in each......not enough time to really claim to have been there. Did one snorkeling excursion booked with RCL to Turtle cove in St Thomas on the Silent Lady sailboat. It was fun, did see turtles and tropical fishes etc..this is NOT a beach excursion, you jump off the boat....in Samana, DR, we did the ATV tour with Terry (from "Tour Samana with Terry"), privately booked, we had a blast, got rained on (loved it!) challenging terrains, splashed around more because of the rain, stopped for coffee and fresh fruit along the way to El Valle beach for lunch. Our joke was that that morning the chicken was clucking, the fish swimming and the fruit on the trees before ending up in our plate for lunch! Loved Terry, and his tour... We are overall happy with the whole experience and our first cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Background: This was my 13th cruise (10th on RCCL) while it was my boyfriend's first cruise. We're both in our late 20s. We took this cruise as a birthday/graduate school graduation present to ourselves. We have mostly traveled ... Read More
Background: This was my 13th cruise (10th on RCCL) while it was my boyfriend's first cruise. We're both in our late 20s. We took this cruise as a birthday/graduate school graduation present to ourselves. We have mostly traveled together within the US and this was my boyfriend's first time leaving the country (if this can even count!). The ports we visited were Bermuda, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and San Juan. Port/Check In: Do NOT follow your GPS directions! Ours was convinced the ship was all over the place, except where it actually was. Thankfully, we could see the ship for quite some time and finally found the parking lot. The drop off area can be congested. We arrived around 12:15 (which was later than we had originally planned) and were glad we got lost and were late. We ended up at the very last drop off spot and had to wait a few minutes for a porter to spot us to take our luggage. It did seem like there were a few stragglers still leaving from the previous week's cruise which could have added to the confusion trying to get a porter to help us. I did the unthinkable and decided I was going to try to get a case of soda onboard. I do not drink any of the soda that you can get with the package, otherwise, I would have just done that (and that is what the boyfriend did). I was fully aware that there was a chance it would not make it onboard but I figured, what's $4 anyway? I wrapped the case in clear tape ALL the way around (I didn't want it to break on someones' luggage) and just stuck two luggage tags on it and off it went with the porter. A few hours later, it was in our room. We were able to do priority check-in, as I am diamond, but it seemed like the regular line was going much quicker, as they had more staff available. The woman directing people to the correct line did not seem convinced I was diamond even though it said on my Setsail pass that I was...oh well. Once checked in, we were able walk right on board, as there was no one else in the waiting area. Ship: I have been on the Explorer 2 times prior to this one (as well as two other Voyager-class ships) and as always, I'm instantly impressed once onboard. It's hard to believe the Explorer is over 10 years old. Everything was clean. Sure, the ship could use a new coat of paint on the outside, but cruising up and down the East coast takes a toll with the ever-changing weather. There were a LOT of passengers with walkers or scooters so this would often cause the elevators to be slow or full. We ended up walking to avoid having to wait a long time. Seating in the theater wasn't an issue if you got there 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the show. Most times we just sat up in the balcony instead of trying to find two seats together on the first level. There were a lot of people who were saving multiple seats for friends or family who weren't there yet, but you get that anywhere. What can you do? They did have a section reserved for gold card holders at both the theater and on the pool deck, but it was never filled. It's too bad they don't open up the extra seats once the show starts instead of leaving all those seats empty. Finding a chair on deck was never an issue (unless you wanted to sit in the shade) as long as you went up on the top deck. We often wouldn't be up on deck until after 10:30 or 11 am and always found two chairs together. They did have staff going around and removing towels on any chairs that were empty after 20-30 minutes but I only saw this happen a few times as most people took their stuff when they went to get lunch, etc. Room: We had an interior room on Deck 6, which we booked as a guarantee at an incredibly low price! If we had the choice again, we would book another guarantee. We didn't tend to spend a lot of time in the room so this worked perfect for us. I took a peak into the promenade rooms and our set up (bed facing the door, couch between the bed and bathroom) made the room seem a lot bigger than the promenade rooms, which had the bathroom, bed facing the wall, then the couch. We only had one room next to us, with the stateroom attendants' closet on the other side but we never had any noise issues. Occasionally you could hear kids running up and down the hall on Deck 7, but nothing on our deck. We got towel animals every other night, for a total of 4 during our 9 night cruise. And yes, we did have washcloths! Staff: All the staff seemed to really love their jobs. They were very friendly, always saying hello, and asking how your day went. We had one charge on our account from our mini bar even though we never used it, and the Guest Relations staff took care of it without any questions asked. MDR: The only downfall was that our waiter and assistant waiter didn't seem to be able to coordinate with each other. Often times we'd get our meal and it would be 15-20 minutes before the assistant waiter would come over with toppings (sauce for the shrimp cocktails, cheese for the pasta, etc). I was under the impression from a few comments that this was their first time working together and/or they were both new to working on RCCL. Because of this, we often were the last ones in the dining room and dinner took closer to 2 or 2.5 hours. Thankfully, we had a good group of tablemates and enjoyed dinner. In regards to evening wear, we saw everything from jeans, hats, tshirts and flipflops on formal night, to very elegant formal wear. We tend to like to dress up and did every night, but I would guess only about 60-70% of the people did, even on formal night. It was a little disappointing when we were putting in the effort to dress nicely, as if we were at a nice restaurant and obviously some people thought they were at their local McDonalds, but such is life. We didn't let it ruin our dining experience. Food: Food is very subjective, but we sat at a table for 8 in the MDR for the first seating and collectively struggled each night to find something off the menu. Our ages ranged from late 20s to mid 60s and we were all surprised at some of the things being offered. If you are a big seafood fan, you will probably be happy to see that there is almost always a shrimp or scallop entrEe on the menu. Unfortunately, I don't eat seafood a lot and did not want to eat it every night. The chicken and steak that are offered as alternatives every night were much better than most of the daily entrees. I missed a lot of the desserts that they used to have (the sugar free swan, baked Alaska, etc). The sugar free desserts ended up being tastier than their regular counterparts. I did try most of the cold soups and I would highly recommend them (except the lettuce and I think it was cucumber). A few people at our table had the mustard-custed steak and asked for seconds and thirds they liked it so much. The Windjammer had a lot of great breakfast options, and there was never really any line to get an omelet in the morning, which my boyfriend did almost every day. Again, always smiling staff asking if they can get you anything to drink, or clean your table right away. In terms of lunch, neither of us were really impressed with anything. It seemed to be pretty much the same thing every day (with the leftovers from dinner the previous night) but we certainly didn't go hungry! We splurged one day and got the Ben & Jerry's ice cream and it was fabulous. I also enjoyed the frozen yogurt that was always available up on the pool deck outside the Windjammer (the strawberry is the best). Apple juice, orange juice, flavored water (flavors variety throughout the week) for breakfast. Iced tea (nonsweetened) and lemonade, as well as the flavored water were available in the Windjammer for lunch. Milk, iced tea and lemonade were also available in the MDR for dinner. We never had dinner in the Windjammer but a couple at our table did and they said they preferred that to the MDR (they weren't the dress up for dinner and have it take 2 hours type). Bermuda: I had only been to Bermuda once years ago on a cruise out of Boston and was really looking forward to going back. Unfortunately, once we got to Horseshoe Beach, it started to rain. We ended up only staying for about 2 hours before we gave up with the rain and wind. We took the bus there and back and had ZERO issues. We had to wait less than 5 minutes to get the bus from the dock and then had to wait about 10 minutes to get the bus from the beach. For $4 each one way, it was a LOT cheaper than us taking a cab (which would have cost probably closer to $15 per person one way!) The buses were air conditioned and clean with plenty of seats for everyone. St. Maarten: We decided to venture over to the airport and Maho Beach. For anyone who has NOT experienced this, I totally recommend going just once. If you don't know what I am talking about put "Maho Beach St. Maarten" into YouTube. After being blasted by sand for a few hours, we decided to head back into town and boy, am I glad we left when we did! It took us over an hour and a half to go what should have taken 15-20 minutes. They are doing construction on a bridge on the island, which forces everyone to go on one road and traffic is horrendous. The taxi driver said this was typical from 2 pm until 8 pm at night EVERY SINGLE DAY. He said the bridge work has been happening for a month and they expect it to take another 4-6 weeks. Thankfully our boat didn't leave until 9 pm so we made it back in plenty of time. Given that we were in port from 12 noon until 9 pm, it didn't leave a lot of time to go to the beach and go shopping. The shops closed around 6 pm so that is also something to take into consideration if your ship is docked until 9 pm. We ate at Johnny Rockets that night since we had a 2 for 1 milkshake in our diamond booklet and my boyfriend has never been to one. Given that for $4.95 it's all you can eat (with drinks costing extra) we definitely got our $4.95 worth of food. They kept on bringing over fries and o-rings without us ever asking. St. Thomas: We went to Emerald Beach, which is part of the Best Western Hotel. There is free access to the beach, you can use their bathroom facilities, rent beach chairs ($7) or umbrellas, and there is a restaurant/bar on site. The beach was absolutely beautiful, but zero snorkeling. We stayed there for a few hours before heading into town. It's nice that this beach is close by and not as popular as Magen's Bay or Sapphire Beach, but just as beautiful (in my opinion!). We did some shopping in town and almost every store had some kind of sale going on. If you are looking to shop, St. Thomas is the place to do it! San Juan: We were only in this port from 7 am until 12:30 pm. Our plan was to go to the forts which are just a few minutes walk from the dock. We got to the first fort around 8:15 to find out that nothing really opens until 9 am so we spent most of our time waiting for the fort to open. Once we left there around 11, there wasn't too much time to explore the downtown area, which, if you have been there before, you know we didn't miss out on much. Everyone we talked to (passengers, staff, etc) agree that being in San Juan for that amount of time was a huge waste since there isn't enough time to leave the city and explore the much more beautiful parts of Puerto Rico. I was shocked at how openingly the staff expressed annoyance at this port and my guess is that they are even more limited on having time off the ship. Everyone agreed that more time in St. Thomas would have been a much better option. Entertainment/Activities: RCCL definitely tried to offer something for everyone with the nightly entertainment. The evening shows included two RCCL singers and dancers show (the 2nd one was far better than the 1st), a late night "adult" comedian, a motown group, a very talent man who could play piano but was outshined by the RCCL band, a juggler who was on America's Got Talent, another comedian who played the guitar, and of course, the ice show. Do not miss the ice show. It was excellent! It's amazing what they can do on such a small rink in the middle of the ocean. This was offered 3 times throughout the week but you do need to get tickets the day they offer them - I believe it was the first sea day - and they weren't offered any other times during the week. The RCCL singers and dancers also preformed at various activities throughout the week, including during the late night BBQ/Buffet/On Deck Dance Party, which has replaced the Midnight Buffet. There were also two parades during the week. One was held the first night around 11:30 pm and we missed it, and the 2nd was held the last day at 5:45 pm. I remember that these used to last over a half hour and be very good but the one at 5:45 was less than 10 minutes long and to be honest, kind of lame. They had a few people walk up and down the promenade in their costumes, while the singers sang a few songs but that was it. Nothing like it used to be! Hopefully the first night was much better so I would recommend trying to see that one. There was also karaoke a few nights (the machine was broken at the beginning of the cruise but they got it fixed after a few days!), the normal "game" shows like Love and Marriage, Quest, Battle of the Sexes, etc. RCCL also now partners with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to do a one-mile walk on one of the sea days (ours was the last sea day) and for those of you who don't know anything about Make-A-Wish, I would recommend looking them up. My family was fortunate enough to be a "wish family" years ago, and I am sooooo happy to see RCCL partnering with them! For only $10, you can get a t-shirt and do a one-mile walk (or just watch other people walk around the deck) and all the money goes towards the organization. It costs $5000 for one wish to be granted to a sick child, and during our cruise, over $3000 was raised. The captain, cruise director and a few other members of the crew also come out and do the walk with the passengers and it was a great time. Cruise Director/Staff: The current Cruise Director is Jimmy Rhodes. He was HILARIOUS! I have never had more of an outgoing CD in all my previous cruises. His Activities Manager, Leigh, was also fantastic and the two of them working together was just amazing. If they are still working together on your cruise, you MUST watch their "Morning Show" which is played over and over on the TVs. My bf and I would watch this every day and laugh the entire time. The two of them were also EVERYWHERE on the ship...there was not an activity, or event I didn't see one of them at. Meet & Mingle event: This was my first time actually attending the M&M event and I was actually pretty impressed. The invitations were in our stateroom upon our arrival and kudos to Cruise Critic for designing such a great invitation (I'm in marketing and even I was impressed!). The timing of the event wasn't very good (10 am on our first sea day even though ahead of time on CC we were told it was at 11 am) so I understand why a lot of people probably didn't make it. If I had known there was going to be food, I probably wouldn't have JUST eaten breakfast. There were quite a few prizes given away at the M&M including wine, internet credit, in-room movies (which we won but never found the time to use), specialty restaurant certificates, and excursions. It was nice to put faces and "real" names to people we had been chatting with over the past few months. Diamond Perks: This was my first cruise being diamond, but since it was my bf's first cruise, he didn't get any of the same perks as me. We did get two of the welcome abroad gift baskets (pretty lame, we never ate anything out of them) as well as two bottles of water. I got the diamond booklet but most of it involved spending extra $$ to get a small percentage off, so I only used a few things, like the free internet minutes and free photo. I unfortunately didn't attend the "Top Tier Event" or the nightly cocktail events. The "Top Tier Event" invitation said that it was a "special" ice show, but I got the invitation AFTER I had already seen the regular ice show. Even if my bf had been allowed to go with me, I don't think I would have gone to see the same show again. They were checking my card when I was using the coupons to make sure I was actually diamond, so I didn't think it would make sense to try to get my bf into any of the diamond events. Everything clearly stated that no friends or family would be allowed and I wasn't going to make a big deal out of it. I did get my robe in my room which I really enjoy as I HATE getting dressed right after a shower and those towels are never big enough. Disembarkation: This being my first cruise out of NJ, I was shocked to find out how late they would start letting people off! When cruising out of FL, we often would book flights home around 11:30, or 12 pm, since everyone tends to be "kicked" off the ship by 8-9 am. This time, we didn't dock until after 8 am, and the self-debark passengers weren't announced to start leaving until after 8:30-845. We were in group 4 and weren't called off until close to 9:30. We had a long drive ahead of us back to Boston, so we were happy to finally be on our way. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We embarked from Bayonne NJ which is brilliant because anyone in the NE can either drive or take a bus to get to the port. I took a bus which worked out fine, even though it left late, we still arrived at the ship in plenty of time. There ... Read More
We embarked from Bayonne NJ which is brilliant because anyone in the NE can either drive or take a bus to get to the port. I took a bus which worked out fine, even though it left late, we still arrived at the ship in plenty of time. There were long lines when we arrived, but it is a big ship and they did keep things moving as fast as possible. They had plenty of staff working to get us to our cabins. (It was about 2:00 PM when we arrived and I was in my cabin by 3:30 PM)       My cabin was lovely and so was my stewardess. She was so sweet and had a lovely laugh. My room was kept spotless the whole trip and she is a true artist with the towel animals. Somehow I'd gotten the late seating for dinner and ended up starving by 6 pm so I ate at the buffet that night. Wasn't real impressed, but it's a buffet. They had plenty of choices and wonderful desserts. I did Johnny Rockets and the burger was good as were the fries, but it was a burger and fries. Nothing special. I enjoyed the company when I ate in the dining room. There were 2 couples from Montreal and another from Ohio. Very lovely people with wicked senses of humor. And I do love to laugh. We teased each other as we ordered 2 entrees or 2 desserts or both. I missed both formal nights, but since my formals didn't fit, well it worked out well. I did the mystery dinner which was again, lots of laughs and well worth the money. The dinner was excellent-Filet mignon, Cooked perfectly.       There were 4 days at sea and 4 port days. I could have missed Puerto Rico. It was a fort and some shopping. St. Thomas was interesting because there is a huge mall right there at the port (don't want to miss one cruiser). I took the tour of the island and it was very interesting. Houses just perched on cliffs. Beautiful views and a fun tour. I didn't go into Samana or Labadie. My favorite part of the cruise was sitting on my balcony with the sun beating down. I truly enjoyed the ability to do as much as I wanted or as little as I wanted.       My one problem with the cruise was that I felt that RCL was nickel and diming us to death. Sorry, but soda is very cheap and bottled water is also very cheap but they charged quite a bit for it. Not fair folks, the fare is not that cheap even breaking it down. They should be able to spring for soda fountain soda. (doesn't have to be cans or bottles) but the soda fountain stuff should have been part of your meal. That's my only negative. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
The no fly part is important because I hate to fly. The parking part was not to bad the luggage people move you out very fast. The waiting on line under the tent did drag. We had a suite so at the end of the line there was a quick ticket ... Read More
The no fly part is important because I hate to fly. The parking part was not to bad the luggage people move you out very fast. The waiting on line under the tent did drag. We had a suite so at the end of the line there was a quick ticket check in for those with suites. I wish we were told that 45 mins sooner. Because the ship is not three months old of course it does not look new. You see crew members cleaning and maintaining the ship all the time. I have no problem with that. We were on the 7th deck in the back the view was great off the balcony. The only problems with the room was the hot water from the bathroom sink and the never ending bad plumbing smell from the hallway. There was guys working on it every day. The food and service was fine. We were brought as much food as we wanted. The wait staff was great. Our dinner mates were great. The Italian night was strange, no Italian bread and one of the entee choices should have included Chicken or veal parmesan with pasta and sauce. Drinks cost as much as you would find if you went out to a club. They definitely make some money off the bar tabs. The shows were fine. If you expect more you might have to pay $80.00 a ticket per show. What we got is included in our cruise price. The cruise director and assistant were great they worked like the cared about their job. The ports: Labadee: Very good, but we didn't put enough sun block on. Samana: We did not like it because we were approached every few steps from the locals to spend money. A very poor country that you fall into right off the ship. We were tendered and the process was easy to go back and forth. This was my least enjoyable. St. Thomas, St. Kitts and Antigua were all very nice they all had nice beach's and things to do. The shopping for jewerly was over rated because we are not shoppers. We did buy liquor, our NY tax's are way to high. We will save up and go on another cruise with RC. I hope by then that the reserving of lounge chairs with towels by the pool will be less evident. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We boarded our ship in Bayonne, NJ without any problem at all. We drove from Ontario to NJ and parked at the dock for $19.00/day which is reasonable. We were quickly through the process and boarded on a bus which quickly shuttled us onto ... Read More
We boarded our ship in Bayonne, NJ without any problem at all. We drove from Ontario to NJ and parked at the dock for $19.00/day which is reasonable. We were quickly through the process and boarded on a bus which quickly shuttled us onto the ship. Food was waiting for us in the Windjammer and we were ready to go. Our inside cabin was small but cozy, water was hot and our room attendant friendly and efficient. We noticed right away that drinking multiple alcoholic beverages could break the bank but we did enjoy the occasional beer and wine at dinner. Our boys, ages 9 and 12 were entertained at the Adventure Ocean and Optix. They mostly didn't join us for dinner in the Dining Room but loved the windjammer and the promenade coffee shop. We saw most of the shows and found the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers top-notch. The skating show was incredible. We pre-paid our gratuities and opted for the "Mytime dining" which allowed for flexible dining times. I would recommend this if you have children with you. I would also recommend the "express departure" when you return. We grabbed our own luggage and were the first ones off the ship. We only booked one excursion. We went snorkeling and on a catamaran on St. Thomas. In future, we will book more excursions and spend more time on the islands. We are definitely looking at another cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I went on a 9 day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas from March 19th-28 out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne. It was my first cruise and I had a great time and feel like I got a great deal for the money. It was definitely a ... Read More
I went on a 9 day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas from March 19th-28 out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne. It was my first cruise and I had a great time and feel like I got a great deal for the money. It was definitely a mostly positive experience from the ship to the food to the service to the weather. There were a couple minor things but overall it was the best vacation I've ever been on. The ship is awesome, very large, and fourth largest in the world (that class of ship actually) with lots to do, for the first two days at sea anyway. I felt that the activities and venues sort of wore thin on the return trip. Some highlights from the ship: The food is really good especially in the dining room. Do yourself a favor and don't skip the dining room dinner for the buffet, it's not worth it. I didn't have one meal in 9 nights that was at least 2.5 stars and most were better than that. Now it won't blow you away or be the best thing you've ever eaten but it is certainly very good. The food in the Windjammer (buffet) was pretty good. I don't think there are gourmet buffets anywhere so don't expect one here but it was more than passable. Also, you can order breakfast to your room for no charge which is a good idea if you have an early excursion planned. Room service is also free unless you order really late at night. For a $20 per person cover charge you can eat at the specialty restaurant Portifinos and I highly recommend that. They also serve a full lunch in the dinning room and they have a nice salad bar; you can tell the chef what you want and they'll make it and chop it for you, very good. The casino is nice although I'd stay away from the slots since they're not regulated by anyone other than RCI. Only went to 3 shows in the theater, one band and both comedians. The comedians were great, the band was so-so. Definitely check out the ice show, it was good; you can also ice skate on the rink on some sea days but the skates are really crappy. There are plenty of bars on board and I'd recommend buying the shopping book, it has a 2 for 1 card in there for the drink of the day but it's only good in The Chamber, which is the night club. There is a lot of shopping and they're always (except while in port) selling things on the Royal Promenade at duty & tax free prices. As far as the demographics of the guests since it was a 9 day cruise it was a decidedly older crowd with 85-90% of the people being no younger than their 50s; most were older. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
As a first-time cruiser, I went with Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas from Feb. 5, 2010 to Feb. 14, 2010 to the Eastern Caribbean (San Juan, PR; St. Thomas, VI; Samana, Dominican Republic; Labadee, Haiti). There were some good ... Read More
As a first-time cruiser, I went with Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas from Feb. 5, 2010 to Feb. 14, 2010 to the Eastern Caribbean (San Juan, PR; St. Thomas, VI; Samana, Dominican Republic; Labadee, Haiti). There were some good things and some bad things and, frankly, I'm not sure I'd cruise again at all, or if I did, cruise again with RCCL. Some things were under RCCL's control, others weren't, to be fair. For example, while the East Coast was being battered by two major snowstorms, we felt the effects at sea. We travelled through a category 2 hurricane with winds around 120 MPH. The ship, she was a-rocking side to side and front to back! Obviously, this isn't the cruise line's fault and the captain did what he could, I assume, to minimize this. But it wasn't fun and we hit it coming and going. The decks were closed, which left cruisers to fend for themselves for things to do, unless you liked the activities. Here are some random thoughts: Activities: Most kicked in toward the later part of the day or in the late evening. Given that the decks (and therefore the pools) were necessarily closed, having more activities during the day would have been good. Frankly, I wasn't interested in the art auction and thought it was a strange place to have one. I would have liked more participatory activities--a mid-day dance, crafts lessons, organized card or Scrabble tournament.(And none of these should incur additional cost.) Most activities were only a half hour. Then you waited around for another one to take place. Skip the seminars and such--people are looking for fun, not to learn financial strategies. Don't get me wrong. Jimmy and his Cruise Director crew did well with the events they did--dance classes, trivia sessions, etc. But there was s much downtime in between these half-hour sessions that it seemed like there was little to do. Great hugs, though, Jimmy! And Sonia and Theresa did a great job in teaching the dance classes I took. Wine Package: Okay, this was bad. "Due to logistical problems, your wine package was cancelled." The reason? We were told the pallet with the wine for the package (which apparently is different than that sold at dinner) never made it to the ship. So, that meant we were no longer entitled to the 25% discount for ordering the wine in advance. Hint to RCCL: Extend the discount to affected cruisers to the OTHER wine--the wine you can order at dinner. Saying, "oh well, too bad" just was a bad bit of PR. And while the bottle of wine you sent to the cabin was a nice apology, the fact that it was the cheapest bottle of wine you sold made the apology seem insincere. I would rather have had the 25% discount and you know what? You would have made more money in the longer run. I only ordered two bottles of wine during the entire trip--not the cheapest but definitely not too far from the bottom of the price list. Itinerary: Maybe the point of a cruise is to spend time relaxing as you travel to the first destination, but I was bored. And you know what? That meant I ate...and ate...and ate. Luckily, I only gained five pounds, but being bored isn't good. We didn't have enough time on the islands and way too much time on the ship. As for the destinations, overall, there should be some way to get people off of the ship and not have to encounter people hawking their wares onshore. The onslaught of taxi drivers, tour guides and so on was offputting and many were rude and pushing and shoving people who were saying no to get to ones who might say yes. Given that there were a number of senior citizens in my group, this was indeed a dangerous thing. Ports: Too little time and the only focus seemed to be shopping. Providing information about things to do in port--places to see, how to get there, etc..--that didn't mean you *had* to buy an excursion would have been nice. And reduce the focus on shopping. Not all of us actually enjoy it. Recommendation: Do your homework before you leave on vacation. If you take information about what else there is to do other than shop or buy a cruise line excursion, you'll be in good shape to explore and not have to depend on the cruise line for info. Food: Chef Craig, you seemed nice and very competent. However, use some spices! The food was beautifully arranged, plentiful and the selection quite nice (although more Chinese and Japanese and maybe some Mexican and less Indian), but often was quite bland! I realize that you can't over-spice things as people having differing tastebuds, but *some* spice is better than none. And if you don't want to spice things while cooking, how about setting out a spice counter where you can help yourself? E.g., I would have killed to find some oregano (fresh or dried) and garlic powder to sprinkle on the pizza and give it some taste. Salt and pepper (which also seemed to be missing from most food) only goes so far... Buy/Don't Buy: Don't bother with the Port and Shopping Book ($25) unless you know you're shopping and spending until you drop. Most vendors gave you the "extras" even without the book. Basically, you're spending $25 for them to advertise to you. Needless expense. Many times, I felt that I was a walking wallet and all RCCL was trying to do was get money from me. I told them on my suggestion form to lower the price of drinks, for example, or have a happy hour each day--they'd earn more money. I know that I certainly didn't drink what I would have if the drinks had been cheaper. Overall: I'd say it was okay. I don't know that I'd rush to do it again. We went to Samana, in the Dominican Republic, which is not listed in the port selections. This was the only island on which I did an excursion. It was well worth the money ($65) and it was a biking, hiking, kayaking trip for five hours. For what it's worth, it was run by CS Adventures and our guide, Haji (from Pakistan originally) was awesome. He was fun, knowledgeable and obviously proud of his home of 21 years. Now for the bad parts: The "bus" was an open air jalopy with bench seats--with very little suspension. Given that the "highway" is an unpaved road with potholes big enough to swallow a dump truck, it was a tad uncomfortable. It will be nice to see the DR in about five or 10 years when tourist money has helped to better the lives of those who live there. The part of the island we were on had no running water or electricity. (So, how *does* a toilet flush without running water? The answer--there pretty much are no toilets!) We drove about 35 kilometers (about 21 miles) to where the bikes were. The bikes were in poor condition. Chains needed lubing, brakes were not working great, one bike had only a front brake (luckily no downhills) and tires were not adequately inflated. The bike I was on was like riding a blender... The road surface was rough, although these were "comfort" bikes with mountain bike tires. (The saddles were utilitarian.) The scenery was pretty--a bit wild and unrefined--but what I most will recall is the awful conditions of the "homes" and animals we passed along the way. The poverty was prevalent. The people were nice enough, although somewhat shellshocked it appeared to see so many tourists. The animals (horses, goats, pigs, etc.) were often tied up on the side of the fire road we were on and most, if not all, completely underfed. A British woman in our group got so upset that I thought she was going to go find the owner of a horse that had his bones sticking out under his skin and open sores on him and beat the pulp out of him! We then got to the end of the fire road and it became a path/trail, which meant our hiking portion began. After being given cold water, we walked maybe a mile to the edge of the ocean to see a blowhole. It would have been a little more majestic if the tide had been coming in. So, basically, we saw a hole that had a force of wind coming out of it and nothing else. Then we waited around for the truck to return and pick us up. There was, of course, the obligatory local selling handicrafts. No one bought anything that I was aware of. The truck then bounced us to another location, maybe 10 miles away where we got to a "shopping district." We were able to use the bathroom (again, no running water) and then left and were taken to Las Galeras, a beach, for the kayaking portion. The beach was beautiful. There were tandem kayaks, which wasn't great for me as I was on the excursion by myself. Luckily, there was one other person on the excursion also by himself, so we paired up. Most of our group didn't bother to kayak. We were given one hour to paddle around in circles in one cove. It was somewhat boring. The others all just swam or sat on the beach. Then we left, took the 45-minute drive back to the ship and called it a day. My suggestion to the tour company is to up the price a bit and include lunch. We left the ship at 8:30 a.m. and got back at 2 p.m. While the shopping district had places it appeared you could buy food, the beach had a restaurant on it and it would have been easy enough to arrange for a buffet lunch along with the kayaking/swimming. If the price is still the same, I would suggest doing this tour. I disagree with the "strenuous" rating. It wasn't that hard but you do have to have some kind of active lifestyle. I'm overweight (quite a bit) and had no problems whatsoever. Labadee, Haiti. I didn't like this at all. It was a private beach owned by RCCL and surrounded by a wall. It was like being in an enclosed theme park. We ate lunch, wandered around a bit and, of course, were targeted to buy things. The few local vendors who were there were not necessarily the most pleasant. I had one vendor who tried to sell me something that I had briefly admired. When I politely said no, his tone of voice changed and he said something I believe to be derogatory in his native language to another local behind him. Lovely, huh? We bought a few things from the marketplace vendors then went back on the ship. I would have tried the one activity they had there--a sort of wire slide from the top of a hill to the beach--but it was $85 per person. Had it been more reasonably price--or free, since we were, after all, on a private beach owned by the cruise line--I would have done it. I didn't go to the beach, but heard from others that it was rocky as was the water. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
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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