31 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Holiday Cruise Reviews

Have to say our room attendant, waiters and drink waiter staff of an evening made a trip amazing, nothing was too much of a problem and they went beyond to make a cruise memorable. Overall our cruise was great, ship was spotless, food ... Read More
Have to say our room attendant, waiters and drink waiter staff of an evening made a trip amazing, nothing was too much of a problem and they went beyond to make a cruise memorable. Overall our cruise was great, ship was spotless, food was great, entertainment of a night some were great others alright then some that we walked out on, everyone's tastes are different, what we don't like others may love, overall a very relaxing 12 days. Now for the downside, I would suggest you not get involved in the up sell. I was lucky enough to win a spa prize which was for a $100 US dollars treatment, was really looking forward to this but when attending I was told the treatment was $168 US dollars ok that find but you have to pay Gratuities on your prize which was $29.53 US dollars, sort of left a bad taste in my mouth, then they tried to sell me products at a price of $880 US dollars odd, yeah right. They also have guessing competions in regards to Jewellery and watches, you are lead to believe that is what you are going to win, wrong, what you receive is a very cheap piece of cheap jewellery eg, pretend Pandora bracelet that they sell for roughly $19 US dollars Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Last fall after visiting Universal Studios for a week my wife who is a big Harry Potter fan wanted to go back for Christmas however after checking prices and deciding that the park would be too crowded. We decided to take a cruise and ... Read More
Last fall after visiting Universal Studios for a week my wife who is a big Harry Potter fan wanted to go back for Christmas however after checking prices and deciding that the park would be too crowded. We decided to take a cruise and found that this cruise to be the most affordable available. So early on the morning of December 23rd we left our home in Maryland in a light drizzle and headed to Orlando where we arrived 15 minutes behind schedule at 11:10 AM. After retrieving our luggage we found the Royal Caribbean representive who escorted us to the ground transportation departures area for our transfer to Port Canaveral we were on board a bus on off to Port Canaveral by 12:00 Noon we arrived at the cruise ship terminal 10 at 12:45 PM and after our luggage was off loaded by the porters for transfer to the ship we got off the bus and headed in to the terminal as we entered and were on line to go through Security the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the terminal. After some confusion about where to wait for the all clear and the fact that the staff at the terminal had to yell as no megaphones were available it created some confusion. Around 1:30 PM check in resumed and after clearing security we made our way to the check in counters which was done by decks and completing the mandatory norovirus questionnaire we got our welcome photo we found ourselves on board. Since our cabin was available we went to our cabin to drop off our carry on and jackets. We arrived at our cabin and found an invite to a reception for Crown and Anchor Society Members and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. On the way into the Windjammer I bought a soda package and got a tumbler which you had to use if you wanted to get soda from the Coke “Freestyle” Machines located in the Windjammer and on promenade deck by the Café Promenade. As the Windjammer started to get full we headed to the Promenade deck where we decided to check the menu for dinner and to have a snack at Café Promenade and then headed to our cabin where we met our cabin steward and took a quick powernap. At 4:00 PM we made our way to our muster station for the mandatory guest Assembly drill. All guest had to check in with a crew member who checked off our names on their list. After the evacuation drill we headed to the Viking Crown lounge for sailaway and a drink. As we watched the ship make its way down the channel the connects Port Canaveral with the Atlantic Ocean. We had nice views of the visiting Norwegian Breakaway who was in the port on a visit on her cruse from New York to the Caribbean and the Kennedy Space Center and its launch pads. However with in half hour we found the ship at sea and after dropping off the pilot with the pilot boat we were off to Haiti. We headed to our cabin where our luggage was awaiting us we unpacked and headed to the Windjammer for dinner. After dinner we headed to the Royal Promenade to buy some souvenirs and then it was off to the Palace theater for the Welcome Aboard show hosted by our Australian cruise director Leigh who welcome everybody on board advised of the number of kids on board along with the breakdown of passengers by country. There were lager numbers of guest from the US but also China, Canada, Brazil, Australia and several European Countries. The show which is more of a variety show had some singing, a preview of a scene form one of the production shows and finally some juggling and comedy by Dan Bennette. After the show we headed to Café Promenade for a late night snack some more shopping and then we watch the Bon Voyage parade which was very entertaining. After the parade it was back to the cabin and off to sleep as tomorrow was the first of two day at sea. After a very restful night of sleep we awoke on Christmas Eve around 9:00 AM and after dressing headed to breakfast at the Windjammer. After breakfast we headed to the Palace Theatre for a Welcome Back reception for Crown & Anchor Members. The reception which included free drinks had some entertainment and then an introduction of the Captain and the Ships officers. The new top tier guests were presented with their pins and a bottle of Champaign. The presentation ended with a presentation of upcoming cruse deals with the ships loyalty specialist. While the reception was fun it was not as good as the reception we attended on Carnival a couple of year ago. After the reception we headed to a very entertaining Chili Cook-off where two teams of the ships chefs made their version of Chili while my wife had some chili I want and got my lunch form the Windjammer. After lunch we headed down to deck three to Studio B for the Skating Show “Sprits of the Seasons”. Due to limited capacity of studio Beach performance was allocated based on you muster station. The show as always was outstanding as the show is performed on a rink which was about half the size of a standard rink. I would recommend if you travel on a Royal Caribbean ship with the skating show that you take one in it is a wonderful treat. After the show we changed and headed to the pool for some swimming and a snack. After our snack it was time to head to the cabin to get changed as it was formal night. After getting some photos taking by the ships photographers we headed to dinner. Where I had a delicious shrimp cocktail and a steak which was a rather tough cut of meat and a chocolate soufflé that was ok. My wife had two appetizers one was a salad the other was a soup, Shrimp Ravioli which was quite good and crème broule that was cold. After dinner we headed to the palace for the show “Fast Forward” This was a very good review of Music form movie musicals. The shows on Royal Caribbean are also very good as they feature a live band as well along with a full complement of singers and dancers. After the show we headed to the Royal Promenade to attend the Capitan’s Reception which featured free Champaign and an opportunity to get a photo taken with the Captain. After the Captain introduced the senior officers there was a sing a long of Christmas carols. After Caroling we headed to the Place showroom where we attended midnight mass conducted by Father Enrique Camacho from San Juan, PR the mass was very nice and it was good to see that some of the ship’s crew were able to attend. After mass it was off to bed as it was Christmas and time to spend a relaxing day at the beach at Labadee, Haiti. We awoke at 8:00 AM and shortly after Leigh our cruse director announced that Santa was on the Royal Promenade and would be available for photos in Studio B. After showering and getting dressed for the beach. I went down to deck three and found two long lines of young people lining up by last name to get photos with Santa and a much shorter line to get towels for the beach so I picked up our beach towels. After breakfast at the Windjammer we took some pictures from the deck and then returned to our cabin where we gave our Christmas tip to our cabin steward and headed to explore Labadee. As we were leaving the Ship a group of local school children in uniform arrived to visit the ship for a special Christmas celebration. After getting our photo taken by the ships photographer and by my wife in front of the ship. Labadee is a private resort operated by Royal Caribbean and is a peninsula shat is on the northern coast of Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola which after Cuba is the second largest island in the Caribbean. To get around there were several trams which bought people from the pier to the various attractions. We got on one and got off at the market where we found the locals to be very friendly and eager to show and sell you their goods. My wife was able to negotiate the price for some souvenirs. We then headed to the beach on the Southside of the resort which faced the ship and after getting our beach chairs and finding with the help of the local beach attendant a nice spot to site we headed for the water which was pleasant. For lunch we headed to one of four buffet barbeques that were operated by chefs from the ship. The menu included hot dogs, burgers, ribs and bbq chicken. With salads, beans and corn on the corn on the Cobb. There were also selections of deserts available. Along with some complementary drinks (water, ice tea, lemonade, fruit punch). For those wanted alcohol or soda the Bar Staff manned the bars and the waiters were all for Haiti. After lunch we returned to the beach and around 2:30 PM we headed back to the ship along with most every one else. We showered and headed to the Promenade Deck for a snack. After our snack we headed to pool deck for sail away and then up to the Viking Crown Lounge for a drink and to watch the sunset. We then returned to our cabin where we began the process of packing. At 6:30 PM we headed to dinner in the dining room where I had one of the best turkey diners I ever had along while my wife a delicious fish platter. After dinner we headed to the palace showroom to see “Don’t Look Back” the Boston Experience” which was not all that good as me and my wife along with about 1/3 to one half of the audience left. We headed back to the Viking Crown Lounge to listen to the band there and then to bed. Friday was out final day at sea and were up at 6:30 AM and were at breakfast on the Windjammer by 7:30 AM as the Windjammer was starting to get full we headed back to our cabin to pack and to decide which suitcase will would use as our carry off. Around 9:30 AM we headed to the Royal Promenade to look around and headed to the screening room to see one of my favorite Christmas movies the Polar Express. After the movie we headed up to the Johnny Rockets on deck 12 for lunch and the restaurant was full and the service was the slowest of any Johnny Rockets I found on any of our previous cruses even though extra staff and tables were brought up from the Windjammer it was slow but the Burger fries and onion rings were very good. I actually prefer Johnny Rockets to the Guys Burgers served on Carnival. After lunch we headed to the Royal Promenade so my wife could do some final shopping while I ceheckd out the college football scores from the sports bar. After making our purchases we headed back to the cabin to finalize our packing and for a nap for my wife while I watched some College Football on the TV. Around 5:30 PM we headed to the Royal Promenade we headed for the Royalpalooza Parade featuring the entire entertainment staff. After the parade we headed to our cabin to get our bags ready to be placed outside our cabin for pick up. Since we liked none of the choices for dinner in the dining room we had our final dinner at the Windjammer. After dinner we returned to our cabin to place our bags outside for pick up and headed to the Palace for the final production show of the cruise, the production was “Invitation to Dance” with choreography by Luis Van Amsell of ABC’s dancing with the Stars which was terrific. At the end of the show the was a farewell song featuring some of the ships officers. After the show I got my phot with Leigh our Cruise Director. Then it was off to bed since Tomorrow it would be off to home. Saturday we awoke at 5:30 am and after showering, dressing and dong some final packing of our carry off we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast and to view our arrival at the pier. Our ship would be the first ship to arrive and depart later that day form Port Canaveral’s new terminal 1. As we arrived we found that there were two Carnival Ships the Liberty and Sunshine, Disney’s Fantasy along with an unidentified ship from Aida. After breakfast we returned to our cabin and completed our packing and shortly after 8 AM we headed to deck for to the dining room which was our designated waiting lounge after finding a place to wait we had some coffee and pastries but we did not have to wait very long as our tag numbers were called at 9:15 AM and we headed off the ship and into the brand new state of the art terminal 1. After we got to the arrivals hall we were able to find our luggage go through Customs and by 9:45 AM we were out of the terminal and headed to our transfer to Orlando International Airport at 10:00 AM we departed and were at our terminal by 11:00 AM. Overall we were pleased with our Cruise but felt that the food service was not as good as it was on previous cruises with Royal Caribbean bur if Royal Caribbean offered an itinery we were interested in would sail again with Royal Caribbean.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our third New Year's Cruise: 2 Carnival, 1 RCCL. This was the WORST. 2,000 people on Prominade Deck. Shoulder to shoulder. Can't sit. Can't move. No champaign at midnight. No dancing or music...no room to do anything except ... Read More
Our third New Year's Cruise: 2 Carnival, 1 RCCL. This was the WORST. 2,000 people on Prominade Deck. Shoulder to shoulder. Can't sit. Can't move. No champaign at midnight. No dancing or music...no room to do anything except stand. Cost $1,000 extra per person for New Year's cruise. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON RCCL NEW YEAR'S CRUISE. Everybody packed onto Prominade Deck. Can't handle that many people. "Lobster" for New Year's dinner was a joke and should be an embarassment for RCCL. One to two ounces of lobster meat MAYBE (ONE BITE). Meat stuck to the shell. Only allowed one miniscule tail per person. RCCL new Port Canaveral terminal also a joke. Opened a week earlier than expected for our cruise. Waited in one of two car/bus lanes for ONLY FOUR open spaces to unload. 1 HR. 45 MINUTES IN LINE WAITING. Disembarking was worse. In line from on the ship all the way down their twisting ramp (five levels) to baggage claim. Person in charge would not let ANYONE get their backs until all the bags on the whole ship were unloaded. Another almost 2 hour waiting in line. Our 2 Carnival New Year's cruises, on the other hand, provided us with two of our BEST new year's ever out of 45 years of marriage. Will book New Year's on Carnival again this year. We have been on 25 cruises, so we are not novices. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Embarkation - OK, long line but moved along well, no issues. Ship - I understand it is due a refresh, you can see some areas need it BUT not a problem. Food - good food buffet choice was good, restaurant, small portions but good. Went to ... Read More
Embarkation - OK, long line but moved along well, no issues. Ship - I understand it is due a refresh, you can see some areas need it BUT not a problem. Food - good food buffet choice was good, restaurant, small portions but good. Went to Portifino steak was great. Cafe in promenade starbucks coffee great, snack food choice great especially late at night, get the cupcakes. Jonny Rockets was a bit of a waste of space - top deck never seen it busy at all, if they relocated it to promenade then more people would use it I think. Crew - all good, very friendly and welcoming. Ports of call - Labadee could be better, did not like dogs roaming about, but good to get off ship for the day. Other ports at ABC islands very good. Entertainment - all good. Disembarkation - was terrible, took a long time and we were self assist. Line to disembark was into the casino where you are allowed to smoke - we do not smoke!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was the December 2nd nine night cruise, Southern Caribbean with stops at Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Labadee. Embarkation-We arrived early, around 10. There was a bit of a line, and they started getting us through screening and ... Read More
This was the December 2nd nine night cruise, Southern Caribbean with stops at Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Labadee. Embarkation-We arrived early, around 10. There was a bit of a line, and they started getting us through screening and check in a short time later. We were checked in and ready to board by 10:30, and they had us in a waiting area for around 15 minutes, on board before 11. It was a nice change from Port Liberty taking a crosswalk onto the ship at deck 4 rather than a gangplank on deck 1. One good thing about boarding in the first group was getting to windjammer for a bite before the crowd hit. It had the usual buffet fare, hot and tasty. We had an aft corner balcony again, this time 9690 on the port side. The cabin was ready a little after 1, and except for the older tube style TV, everything looked clean and fresh. We hit the pool for a while, then off to the muster drill. It still amazes me how people just want to skip the drill, which just delays the departure and they take the risk of being put off the ship. Anyway, it was quick and painless, and we were ready to sail. We had My Time dining, a little later than we preferred-there were a LOT of older people on this cruise and it seems they all wanted to eat early. As on previous cruises, the food and service was first rate, and our servers were fantastic. We skipped the MDR one night to go to the mystery dinner theater in Portofinos. This had a limited menu, but the food was great. The show itself was a bit cheesy, with acting that reminded me of a high school play-I highly recommend it, loads of fun. We only went to a couple of shows, the juggling comedians and the Love and Marriage show. Again, it was a nice interlude with plenty of laughs. Excursions- Aruba we took the Atlantis submarine ride. It was a little cramped and the seats were a bit low to see comfortably out the portholes, but everyone did have an individual seat and view. Thy spent a lot of time making turns to make sure everyone was able to see things. Pretty good but something I think I'd only do once. Bonaire and Curacao we just took beach excursions and went swimming and snorkeling, great clear water, a perfect temperature to stay in for hours. We signed up for the Castaway at Malfini in Labadee which was cancelled due to not enough people, and we couldn't get another excursion so we walked around a bit and went up to the artisan's market. I'll skip that in the future, the vendors are a bit too aggressive for my liking. We spent the rest of the day either by the pool, or at a party that our roll call group arranged. Debarkation-We were set up with the space center tour and transportation to the Orlando airport, so we were supposed to self debark with the group early. We were a little delayed because of a medical emergency, someone had to be taken off by paramedics. We were able to make up for lost time and didn't miss out on anything on the tour-It's a must see if you have any interest in science and space flight. Leigh and Erky were their usual whacky selves, and have a great interaction with the passengers. It's a shame Erky is leaving RC and Leigh going to another ship. All in all, another great job by Royal on a terrific ship   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Eight days aboard the soon to be refurbished Explorer of the Seas. The good: Port Canaveral efficient as always - My first favorite port to drive to, and second to sail from (Port Everglades is my favorite to cruise from). Showed up ... Read More
Eight days aboard the soon to be refurbished Explorer of the Seas. The good: Port Canaveral efficient as always - My first favorite port to drive to, and second to sail from (Port Everglades is my favorite to cruise from). Showed up around 11:30 and was onboard in less than 15 minutes. Excellent bar service - Bartenders were very helpful even though I had the beverage package but my wife did not. Efficient service, great drinks, well worth the additional tips I provided. Very festive New Years Eve celebration - The Royal Promenade was hopping! I spend NYE 1999 in Vegas, and this crowd was just as rowdy (just not as large). Strong 8 day itinerary keeping us south enough to enjoy the warm temps everyone is looking for in December. The fact that you do more southern ports is the even more significant than you sail around for 8 days. I choose routes like this whenever I can. Excellent MTD service - MTD can go either way based on when you are seated versus those around you (makes things easier/more difficult for your wait staff). We had the same waiters all but one night, and they got us in and out there with no additional delays. The menus had enough variety for everyone in our party. Common areas in great ship - While you could spot the blemishes if you were looking for them, the truth is the ship looked good for one about to enter refurb. The so so: Cabin carpet and balcony floors showing the wear common to ships that are due to be refurbed. The sofa had noticeable stains as well. Neither impacted my vacation, nor would it have yours. If you are reading this review after March of 2015 these items will have already been addressed. Self debark was a nightmare as a LARGE number of people opted for it. People were lined up across most of deck 4, spiraling though the casino, wrapping around the dining room. Part of this was caused by the fact that the pilot was late arriving to the ship (~45 minutes; watched him arrive from my balcony), so it docked late. I give Royal a pass on this one due to the delay which was out of their control. Things I can't comment on: Missed most shows due to our dining times. The one we went to (dancers) was well done. All our excursions were private (seasoned cruisers), so I can't comment about the ones Royal was offering. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Royal Caribbean is still our preferred cruise line. However, Explorer of the Seas is in need of some attention and it is my understanding that the ship will go in for enhancements starting early spring. But, in general, the entertainment ... Read More
Royal Caribbean is still our preferred cruise line. However, Explorer of the Seas is in need of some attention and it is my understanding that the ship will go in for enhancements starting early spring. But, in general, the entertainment was very good, the food on par and the staff attentive. For some reason, we were not required to check-in/out towels which caused two problems. One, is you didn't know if someone was coming back to a chair or not and two, the pool deck looked very sloppy with all the used towels laying around the deck. We will continue to cruise on RCI, but will make sure the ship is one of the top three classes and that the ship is not too old or has had enhancements. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Explorer of the Seas is a Voyager class ship of Royal Caribbean International. Explorer of the Seas is a large ship that measures 138,000 GT. Overall, Explorer of the Seas is a big ship, but also an old ship. Let's start off with ... Read More
The Explorer of the Seas is a Voyager class ship of Royal Caribbean International. Explorer of the Seas is a large ship that measures 138,000 GT. Overall, Explorer of the Seas is a big ship, but also an old ship. Let's start off with the staterooms. I stayed in a Superior Balcony on Deck 7; my TV was old; it still had the lump on the back of the TV. The balcony view was port side which was nice. The 4- Night Cruise to Labadee had two sea days; the pool deck was often crowded which had many children splashing me with water which I advise parents to supervise their children. The main dining room service was okay. Our assistant server forgot to serve us bread which made me lose my appetite. The Cruise Director was mean; they had this competition and he wanted twins and two Asians walked up and they looked the same; he then said "no your not twins; your Asians!" He sent the Asians back with a disgruntled face. Overall the ship was fun; Labadee is fun. I would love to cruise with Royal Caribbean again because I am a Gold Crown and Anchor Society member. Explorer of the Seas will be refurbished in May 2015 adding the Flowrider and replacing the in-line skating track. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Second time on this ship, 9 years apart, this time with kids. A different experience. The Explorer is still one of favorite ships, although she is by no means the smallest, she still offers the best of both worlds- the feeling of being at ... Read More
Second time on this ship, 9 years apart, this time with kids. A different experience. The Explorer is still one of favorite ships, although she is by no means the smallest, she still offers the best of both worlds- the feeling of being at sea with a range of activities available. Nice mix of passenger ages. Embrakation was a nightmare- rumor that porters were on a slow down and certainly appeared to be true. The luggage was waiting outside while they sat around doing nothing. Our family lugged our own luggage and were glad we did- others we talked to received theirs very late. Unfortunately this also caused debarkation to be a nightmare as nobody seemed to trust personnel to move their luggage getting off the ship. Rather than motivating me to support their union, it made me hope the RCI will look into other options in the future once their contract is up. Onwards to the ship. We still love Explorer of the seas and her crew. We would have preferred a band that regularly played ballroom dance music.... but the musicians were talented. Service was very good overall, staff friendly. Michelle the ice skater (dark hair) was very sweet to my daughter and Yin (cleaned restrooms) was sweet as well. Best show is the ice skating program, hands down. This ship is a great value for 6 yo plus crowd. Daughter loved ice skating and rock wall. Lacked options for children under 3 years- if paying full fare (and it was more expensive to book 1 room than 2 separate), I would expect more entertainment for the younger crowd... at least a nursery. The explorer is in good repair and still has a respectable amount of entertainment options if you are at least six years old. Do not worry about reviews saying she is in poor repair... the worst is faded life boats but to me that in no way impacts the experience. The explorer may be a nice compromise between a mega ship and a bare basics cruise ship. The only question mark was when our entire party was moved to a table in the corner to make room for a larger family on the second night, the families sat at three separate tables that didn't communicate even after being placed adjacent. After asking for our table back, we were given it on the third night- but on the second it was very awkward to be asked after the family had already taken our table. The family could have swapped their best table with us to achieve the same effect- so I believe it was more an issue of not liking the original assigned table. Had we been seated there the first night it wouldn't have mattered to us, but seemed rude to be moved into the corner. Our tablemates from a different family were also confused by the table swap. It seemed like a poor way to handle the situation- honestly wonder if the family took it upon themselves to move verses the staff making that decision. When we were moved back we didn't get our old waiters, so very confusing overall. While I liked all of the waiters this was a bit of negative aspect. For thanksgiving they decorated the promenade and slowly Christmas decorations took over. It was a nice way to celebrate the holiday versus the traditional expectations. Although we love Holland (2 star cruisers), this trip was enough to make us reconsider them as our primary line. For reference- experienced cruisers have sailed with RCI, Holland, NCL, and carnival. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This is my first post on Cruise Critic so I really can't be very discriminating, but giving a blow by blow would be counterproductive. This was our third cruise and the longest we have ever taken. To make reading this more interesting ... Read More
This is my first post on Cruise Critic so I really can't be very discriminating, but giving a blow by blow would be counterproductive. This was our third cruise and the longest we have ever taken. To make reading this more interesting I'm posting under what I feel is important to know about the cruise in terms of my own interests; Karaoke: For me this was a huge surprise. After screwing up the courage to do it on the first night, I went up to the mike every other time there was a session. I realized that some of the songs were hopelessly out of my key. I also realized that although I think I have a good voice, some people have amazing voices and really know how to sell a song. I also realized that listening to others sing is a real community builder and such a community formed. I believe I was the first person on the cruise who proposed a duet to another passenger. It was great fun. Others followed suit. All of the people who sang became part of a Karaoke community. We acknowledged one another elsewhere on the boat. Interestingly enough, people I met in other activities, gave me the honour of attending to hear me. The common theme on many of these posts is that those who participated enthusiastically got the most out of any activity. I was particulary struck by this at the Quest scavenger hunt. Some people just sat in chairs waiting for the others to do something. What fun is that? If that's all you're going to do, why are you sitting there? I guess on that principle, I led the Sabbath services the first week. People coalesced around their common activity and another group of 'cruise connections' was formed. Other activities that I did included Trivia. A great group of people got together there. Some people memorize the answers to the questions from one cruise to another, so it's not likely that you'll win, but the intellectual activity is fun. Also, don't be shy about teaming up with others. Frequently our team name was 'Total Strangers' because we were at the beginning. Another piece of advice to bring to this column is that if you intend to skate and are driving to the embarcation, bring your own skates. My wife always brings her own skates and for the first time I brought my own. I'm not a great skater, but there was a real difference when you skate in skates that fit! In general I found the shows by the visiting entertainers more interesting than the in-house staff, which is not to say that I didn't enjoy all the performances. My favorite was the acapella group playing off of Jersey Boys. They were super. Also, I can't believe anyone found the food anything other than superb. We're mainly ovo-lactate vegetarians and we found plenty to eat that was great. Our room concierge was super as well. My fondest memories got to the social staff Gabriel, Helmie and Bas became real friends. I would be super happy to see them on another cruise. Although I don't feel I had a personal relationship with Leigh and Erky, the social director and second-in-command, I certainly felt they were also doing a great job. If the Explorer was staying in Bayonne, I would be sorely tempted to repeat the cruise another year. We'll probably wind up booking Royal Caribbean out of Florida in the future as the Quantum doesn't have an ice-skating rink. Half a week after getting off of the boat in what was truly a grueling procedure, I still have a glow about the trip. If this is retirement, bring it on! Read Less
Sail Date December 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
We travelled out of Bayonne New Jersey on December 30, 2012. We picked this cruise as we did not want to pay for flights to get to the embarkation port this time. We knew going into this cruise that the itinerary was not that great, but ... Read More
We travelled out of Bayonne New Jersey on December 30, 2012. We picked this cruise as we did not want to pay for flights to get to the embarkation port this time. We knew going into this cruise that the itinerary was not that great, but decided this would be more of a cruise to be spent on the ship. More on this later. We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton across from the airport on the Saturday night. We made arrangements for a limo to take us to the cruise port and left at 10:20 am. We arrived at the port at 10:40 left our bags with the porter and proceeded to the entrance area. The crowds were huge and we thought on no! However, we quickly came to realize that most of the people we actually saw were still disembarking. Anyway, we made our way through the crowds to the entrance area where we were greeted and because we had a Suite were directed away from the main area to a smaller section for suite holders! This was nice and very fast. We showed them our Set Sail Pass, they made up our Sea Cards and then we seated ourselves in a small area to await our bus to the ship. We were on the ship by 10:55 and without a hitch! So, hands off to RCCL for the very speedy embarkation process!! We stayed in Suite 1394 which is at the very aft of the ship on deck 10. Highly recommend this to anyone! Our stateroom attendant was just average however. We had heard that one of the benefits of being on the 10th deck was that we would have the cream of the crop of attendants as this deck houses all the suites, but we cannot attest to this. Also, some have commented about noise. The only noise we heard were the chairs being moved in the Windjammer which is directly above at about 8am and over the lunch hour. It never bothered us as we were always up early and never around at the lunch hour. Throughout the evening and overnight we never heard anything. Overall we thought that the cruise was good, we did not notice any drop off in food quality from our past cruises and the service for us for the most part quite good. We tried the DR for both breakfast and lunch on the first and second day, but switched back to the Windjammer as we found it much better there. If you want to be served at every meal then the DR is for you, but we found the food better on deck 11. You cannot beat the fresh made omelet in the Windjammer! We thought the overall service to be just good on this cruise. The ice show was the highlight for us with respect to the live shows. The only complaint we have is that they have a limited number of tickets for this event and we were lucky enough to get two of them, a perk for being a Cruise Critic member and attending the Meet & Mingle gathering. However, we arrived just a couple of minutes after the start time to be told that we would have to stand as all seats were taken. I guess having a ticket means little if they allow people to take a seat even though they did not have a ticket. Anyway, still enjoyed the show, very well executed and entertaining. The ship band that plays for all the singing and dancing in the Palace Theatre was excellent! They did a set one night of Big Band music and they were fabulous! As stated earlier, the itinerary for this cruise leaves much to be desired for us. With only three stops in the seven days would it not be possible to make those days full days? To arrive at 2 in the afternoon when daylight is gone at 5:30? What's the point of stopping? We will not book this cruise again unless an itinerary change is made. We like being at sea, but when 5 of the 7 days out are on the ship, this is not our cup of tea. Don't get us wrong, we loved the ship and enjoyed our trip, just for us, we need more port time for a change of pace. Debarkation process was the best ever, we took the early departure and were off the ship at 8:00, through Customs by 8:05 and to our car and on our way home by 8:30. You can't get any better than that! We will continue to sail with Royal Caribbean. We think for the most part the value we receive for the money spent is well worth it! By the way, all the posts we see stating how old and run down the Explorer is, well we thought she was in pretty good shape! How would you be if you had over 3,000 guests walk all over you every week for over 12 years? Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We returned Sunday 12/30/12 from a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. Other than a couple of minor glitches, it was a wonderful experience. The ship arrived late (9 a.m.) at port on Sunday the 23rd due to storms, but the crew worked ... Read More
We returned Sunday 12/30/12 from a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. Other than a couple of minor glitches, it was a wonderful experience. The ship arrived late (9 a.m.) at port on Sunday the 23rd due to storms, but the crew worked hard on getting the ship ready for our arrival. We started boarding at 1p.m. and headed to the Windjammer. The food choices were very good, and the staff was ready to get drinks or whatever we needed. At 2 p.m. the cabins were open. We were in a Junior Suite on Deck 6 on the aft. We were met by our Steward Miguel. He took great care of us all week, maintaining the suite, plus chatting with us whenever we seen him in the passageway. He made us feel quite welcome and like part of the family. I went to the dining room to check on our table, while my wife and daughter waited for our luggage. This is where we had some challenges. When the greeter found out we were "My Time Dining", we were told we would be seated wherever they found room for us. This was the first time we had experienced this with "My Time Dining". On all of our other cruises we set at the same table every night. The first night we were in a by the entrance of the kitchen area...Almost felt like we were in the way. The second night we were sat a much better table with Huny as our server and Ice as her assistant. After dinner, I found the head waiter, and told them this is who we wanted to be our server for the rest of the cruise. She immediately took us to the greeter desk, and said something to them, and for the rest of the cruise, we sat in Huny's section and received outstanding service from her and Ice. They were the "Stars" of our cruise. The entertainment was okay. The second production show was very good. The ice skating productions were very good. With it being Christmas, we thought there would be more decorations. However, the decorations were very tasteful and the gingerbread village in the Wind Jammer was cute. We ate most of our breakfasts in the Main Dining Room. The food and service were very good, and we met some very interesting people. This was the best returning cruiser get together I had been to. The singers, the video, and awards were well done. We had two opportunities to meet with the Captain. The first was Christmas Eve and it was the normal shake, smile click...the second was the second formal night and it was calmer and we had a chance to visit with the Captain for a couple of minutes. The only other complaint we had on the cruise was disembarking at ports. Disembarking brings out the rudeness of people. Just a little patience and things would go a lot smoother. We look forward to our next cruise on the Explorer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Usually it's my whole family going on the cruise but this time it was me, my 18 year old sister, and my grandmother. We had cruised like that one time before on the Explorer. I have been on 23 cruises and have been on the Explorer of ... Read More
Usually it's my whole family going on the cruise but this time it was me, my 18 year old sister, and my grandmother. We had cruised like that one time before on the Explorer. I have been on 23 cruises and have been on the Explorer of the Seas 4 times. I have also been on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival. I have also been to the Panama Canal and all the way north to Greenland and Iceland. Of all the cruises and ships I have been on, the Explorer can definitely be said as my favorite ship. Besides its convenient distance from our home, it has a beautiful layout, great entertainment and activities and a real "home" feeling. Ship-Even though the ship is almost as old as I am, I saw no major flaws-there were some little things here and there that were noticeable though. The ship is laid out in a very nice way; most things being easy to find in a short amount of time. All of the lounges are very beautiful also. My favorite lounge was Dizzy's where you looked over the pool deck of the ship. It was so relaxing you could fall asleep. Activities- The activities were very good. Some of the activities like the 70's Dancing in the Street party were not as fun as it was previous trips even though the music was great. This time it just seemed to focus mainly on the t-shirts they were shooting and the light-up rings they were throwing. The New Years party was very exciting, even though the whole crowd changed when the champagne was handed out. Most of the people around us were incredibly drunk; dancing and screaming like idiots. The Welcome Aboard reception was held before that also. Nobody let the officers speak- people were talking like he wasn't even there and I thought it was incredibly rude. The ice skating was one of our favorites. I do figure skating so I brought my skates and did the advanced skate session along with my sister. The skaters working there seemed to get a kick out of the tricks I was doing that were very similar to the ones they do. They have great Mini Golf and Inline Skating that we did not use this time due to weather but had used other times we were on the ship. Service-The service is what makes our trips so enjoyable every time. From the waiters to the entertainers, they are so nice and welcoming we come back on the ship again to see the same ones. We knew some of the singers, one of the girls in the shops, and some waiters who were all so surprised to see us again. My grandma would constantly say "If they were any nicer, they would kiss me goodnight". They work so hard yet treat everyone like royalty. Ports- The ports were okay. We didn't get off the ship in Port Canaveral because we thought we wouldn't have enough time to do what we planned. Instead, we stayed on the ship and went to the pool all day. In Nassau, we got off, walked around and did some of the shopping in the town. It was a great day and our only complaint is the pier stretched practically a mile! It was our first time in CoCo Cay and we were impressed! We were expecting it to be like their private island in Labadee, Haiti that we've been to several times. The actual beach itself was wonderful- except the hundreds of fish surrounding us in the water. The buffet grill was delicious too! Really good food knowing it wasn't "on the ship". The only bad thing about the ports was the terrible times that made doing things on land hard. Embarkation- The embarkation was as easy as ever. It seems that whenever we board the Explorer it gets easier every time. We got there about 11 o'clock and were on bus #1. We only waited about five minutes in the "Platinum" waiting area. The only bad thing was the weather that no one could control. Stateroom- The interesting thing about our cabin was it was the same room as our last cruise in August. We could have just left our stuff there! Compared to other ships, the storage was great and there was enough room for everyone. The beds were as comfortable as always and our veranda was as lovely as always- except the fact that it was cold outside the majority of the trip which made it hard to spend time sitting out. Our room attendant was extremely nice, constantly asking us if we needed anything. Dining- The menu had changed since the last time we were on the ship. The food was better than ever! Some of our favorites were the Duck, the carrot cake I had the first night, the Lobster (best I ever had), and the Baked Alaska. We were given a table for 8 even though we spent the night just the 3 of us the whole trip. Our two waiters were amazing, showing just how great service could be. I did not use any of the Teen Club activities. I never really go to the teen club on most of my cruises. I find that I can "hang out" with people my own age at home rather than wasting my vacation time doing nothing. Entertainment- The entertainment was also better than ever. The production shows proved how amazing the singers, dancers and musicians really are. The music itself was very nice to listen to because of its familiarity- even to a 15 year old. The comedian from the first night did not have a great preview show but had a hilarious late night show. There was also a comedian/ magician that was very entertaining. The 6th night there was Judy Kolba. We had seen her perform on the Explorer before but this time her show was more "friendly" unlike wild from before. The ice shows were definitely a highlight. It was more enjoyable for me to watch knowing that I was capable of doing what they could do. The overall entertainment was very memorable and outstanding. Disembarkation-Leaving the ship was just as easy as getting on. We went to the Palace Theater where we walked in and walked out to an elevator. They held up certain elevators for us to go straight down to Deck 1. I think they did that because we were all listed under Emerald for our grandmother. Even though it was cold, we waited for about a minute to get another bus back to the terminal where we easily found our luggage and left. Summary- All in all, our trip was fantastic and well spent! I would recommend this line and this ship in particular to people of all ages. They have something for everyone and their service truly makes them one of a kind. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We haven't cruised with Royal Caribbean before and expected that its quality was less than we were used to, and it was. However, for the price, it was better than we had expected. The entertainment was fine - very impressed with the ... Read More
We haven't cruised with Royal Caribbean before and expected that its quality was less than we were used to, and it was. However, for the price, it was better than we had expected. The entertainment was fine - very impressed with the orchestra and the dancers. The headliners were a bit weak, but the comedian was particularly funny. The Cruise Director, Leigh Xerbus, was funny as well. We had children with us and much of the entertainment was more adult oriented, whcih was too bad as we like to spend some time with the children after dinner. The ice show was perfect for family entertainment. Not to be missed. If we have any complaints, it was the fact that this boat is out dated and badly needs a rehab. It is unfortunately dirty in places, not for lack of cleaning, just due to long time wear. There is also A LOT of smoking on the ship. Even where people are not supposed to be smoking, there is smoking. Very few of the rules are enforced and it made for a an occasionally unpleasant experience. Kids in the adult pools, smoking, kids in the casino horsing around, etc. I understand not wanting to ruin people's good time, but allowing other cruisers to impose on guests ruins their good time....just sayin'. The food for the first two days was not good. We sat with another family and we broke the ice over the bad food. Other than that, I'm not sure why the chef would have allowed such bad, cold food to be served. By day three, the kitchen seemed to have its act together. Some of the dishes were quite good and the buffet upstairs went from Fair to Good. I can say I always found something to eat, but I can't say the food is a selling point. Portofino, however, was very nice. quiet, elegant and the food was above average. Well worth the extra fee. The staff was fine. The service was fine, but the cruise seemed generally understaffed. You could always get assistance, service, etc., but there was usually a wait. Finally, although it was very convenient to cruise out of Bayonne, the cruiseport itself is an embarrassment. The abandoned shipping port looks like a mafia killing ground, but we weren't there long. The customs officials were fast. God Bless the USA. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our fourth cruise on the Explorer of the Seas leaving from Cape Liberty which is about 1 1/2 hrs.by bus from our home in PA. This was the quickest boarding we have experienced so far.Our stateroom was available when we boarded ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on the Explorer of the Seas leaving from Cape Liberty which is about 1 1/2 hrs.by bus from our home in PA. This was the quickest boarding we have experienced so far.Our stateroom was available when we boarded and we were having lunch in the Windjammer by 2PM. The weather cooperated and the seas were calm for the first three days. New Year's Eve was fun but we thought there would be a more organized celebration ie Fireworks or something special in the lounges and bars.There was a special menu,hats and a few balloons at our table.We rang in 2012 in the 19th hole lounge. We stayed on board in Port Canaveral on New Year's Day and enjoyed the quieter ship. We arrived in Nassau on 01/02 to find the shops were closed for a local holiday parade.We weren't planning to shop but it was a major disappointment for first time visitors to Nassau.We took a cab to Atlantis,$4/person one way,and had a great time in the casino with our friends. Our third port,Coco Cay, was cancelled due to a high wind warning for 01/03 so we stayed in Nassau a second day.The forecast was correct.It was cold and extremely windy.The seas were high and it was pretty rocky until the wee hours on 01/04. The last sea day was calm and sunny but too cool to be outside for any length of time. Disembarkation was the usual chaos at the elevators getting to our assigned waiting area.We were at our bus with luggage by 8:45 with all but four passengers but waited on the bus for over an hour for them.But departure time was 10AM so we couldn't be too upset. We were all early,they were on time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The embarkation and disembarkation was done perfectly without any wait time. Well done. The ship was probably sold out but we did not check with the captain on the number of passengers. The ship was always crowded no matter where we went. ... Read More
The embarkation and disembarkation was done perfectly without any wait time. Well done. The ship was probably sold out but we did not check with the captain on the number of passengers. The ship was always crowded no matter where we went. Dining room, promenade, buffet, any public area, it did feel like a holiday cruise, but somehow I wished it could be a little bit less crowded. The Promenade is beautifully decorated. Dining room food was good, although not exceptional. However, service was extremely good with a Caribbean team (our waiter is from Trinidad and our assistant waitress is from Dominican). Considering we had a group of ten and a large table is usually hard to serve, they really did a great job and we had very good dining experience. RCCL's ice show was always a sold out show so we were asked to obtain ticket on the first night. One member of our group went and waited in line for more than 30 minutes to get our tickets, why could they not let us do the booking on the interactive TV? Or let us reserve our seat online like the other RCCL ships (Allure and Oasis)? Due to the ice show time at 7 pm and our dinner time at 6 pm, we made a special request a day before for an expedited dinner service. We were extremely pleased with the service we got and we did not even miss the dessert and still on time to watch the ice show, well done. There were very good musicians onboard, we like the Latin band Mambo Cliente and the Filipino quartet called New Version the most. Unfortunately they were assigned to two very tiny lounges to play most of the time. Mambo Cliente played at the Aquarium Lounge the most while The New Version Quartet played at the Dizzy Lounge the most. Both lounges were too small to accommodate the number of passengers who wanted to dance. NYE celebration: well done with all the novelty and free champagne, the Promenade was flooded with people, luckily no stampede.... The less than perfects: dining room food quality was less than perfect, it was good, but we felt the cut back. Fish served were not top quality fish, meat dishes were good, but again, did not feel like AAA grade. The buffet food was even less appealing and always crowded. Not enough server to clean the table (since we just got off the Emerald Princess's xmas cruise, that was such a cultural shock to have such a huge difference in the food and service quality). They freq made public announcement asking passengers to leave their table when they were done so other passengers can have a seat. That was so annoying and prob a major design fraud. Activities: outdoor activities were plentiful, but limited to weather as the ship sails out from Bayonne. Indoor activities were limited, we were surprised there were no line dance nor dance lessons on the last sea days, making the last day so boring as we were not shoppers. It seems RCCL is always pushing people to buy buy buy. I did buy some stuff from the stores, including two pairs of costume earrings. When I noticed one pair was defected, I took it back and wanted a refund (right away on the same day), I was told they cannot do a refund, and I had to buy something else more expensive. I did, but the clerk was doing a refund first for the defected item (then why was I told no refund) and then another sales slip for the new item. Internet : A major disappointment, first of all, we cannot have wifi in the cabin, we have to be in the public rooms where it was a hot spot to do our emails and internet surfing. Secondly, its slow (OK, its slow probably on other ships too) and to log on you need at least 2-3 minutes, if you realized you were not getting the internet, you wasted 2-3 minutes time (at 65 cents a minute). I bought a package (at 55 cents a minute), and two occasions, before my package ran out, I was charged additional money for internet access. I had to go to Guest Service, line up, and talked to an agent so he can revert the charge. That was such a waste of time. Lastly, on the last day, from mid afternoon, internet service was off and on often. From 10 pm, virtually no internet service. I still had over $12 worth of internet time left, which I intended to use on the last day to check weather and possible flight delays. Guess what, no internet service on the disembarkation day neither, what a scam. I wrote a complain letter, brought it to the Guest Service, and was only told that it will be handed to the appropriate department. Earlier in the cruise, we wrote a suggestion to have the Maharajas lounge to house the two music groups (Mamba Cliente, and New Version Quartet) for listening and dancing pleasure as the other lounges (Aquarium, Dizzy) were too small to accommodate people who wanted to enjoy the music and did a little bit of dancing. Someone called us the last day from Guest Relation, and asked if I were the one who wrote the suggestion, I said yes, and that was it. No action was taken, no additional words were said, so what was the point of having us writing comments? Port: Bayonne really has nothing to offer, its difficult to get to, and nothing to do if you want to go out after registration. Port: Port Canaveral has nothing to offer at the terminal, you either have to take a taxi to a beach or join an excursion   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
"Happy New Year 2012" - Embarkation is always so easy for us as we live only 10 minutes from the home port in Bayonne, NJ. A quick move through all the lines and we were in the Windjammer within a half hour enjoying our lunch. ... Read More
"Happy New Year 2012" - Embarkation is always so easy for us as we live only 10 minutes from the home port in Bayonne, NJ. A quick move through all the lines and we were in the Windjammer within a half hour enjoying our lunch. Although the boarding time is listed at 2pm it is always good to go earlier. We were surprised at how crowded the Winderjammer was at 12:30 - It took a while to find a table for my husband (68), my Daughter (44), her husband (46) and myself (64). This was our 3rd cruise - my daughter and her husband's first. We bragged so much after our 1st 2 cruises and tried to get all in the family to join us. It is hard though to set a time when all in the family can make it. Maybe next time. We again had an inside cabin, which is so much more affordable than any other selection. My daughter and her husband had a balcony, and after enjoying some time with them on their balcony, this would definitely be our choice on future cruises. An inside cabin is nice. We really don't spend that much time in our room, but you can't tell whether it is day or night without checking your watch. Food and Service was great. We had the early seating in the MDR but avoided the 2 formal nights - jut not our thing. We also missed the MDR when we went to the 5pm ice show, and couldn't make it in time to the MDR. We always enjoy the Windjammer buffet. The food is good and you always have a large selection of what you want to eat. We also made it one night to Johnny Rockets,and had a lot of fun dancing to Last Dance and YMCA with our waiter. The cheeseburgers and milk shakes were delicious. There is a small cover charge so be sure to check the prices before you go. No reservations needed. The Ice Show was so colorful and enjoyable. Somehow the guy who fell on his backside got the most applause. The comedian, John Wing, had us in stitches. His routine reminded me of the great George Carlin, where you have to think about what he is saying, and when you get it, you can't control your outburst of laughter. Now for the very negative - which cannot be controlled by Royal Carribean. The weather. Out of 7 days, I think we had 2 days of nice weather. In fact we had to skip our port of call at CoCoCay due to 35 knot winds. We wound up staying 2 days at Nassau, Bahamass, which wouldn't be so bad, but on the second day the wind was so bad, we had to stay on the ship. My daughter and her husband had arranged a snorkel adventure which was scheduled on the first day of docking at 2:15pm. But due to the fact the there was another ship in our slip, the Explorer did not dock until 4pm, and with just another hour of daylight left, the snorkeling was postponed until the following day at 9am. Then of course, due to the high winds, the snorkeling was cancelled the following day. They lugged their snorkeling gear on the cruise, but never got a chance to use it. There was a another ship docked nearby at Nassau Bahamas which damaged the dock and was damaged due to the high winds. There was a grand celebration for New Year's Eve in the Promenade, but not being a fan of crowded places, we chose to pass and spend a quiet night in our room. You can always watch the happenings on your stateroom tv. We previously have sailed in the fall of 2010, and although the sailing was right in the middle of a bad huricane season, we were lucky to have 5 beautiful days of sunshine and long days to Bermuda and back. Our 2nd cruise was a 9 day Spring Break cruise in Apr 2011. Never, Never, Never again for 2 cruisers in their 60's. The ship was overrun by unruly gangs of kids. They would jump on the elevator, push all of the buttons, and jump off. They would sit on the floors all over the ship, making the adults walk around them, or trip over them. Three times they stole our Do Not Disturb sign out of our stateroom door.And now the terrible weather and early sundown days we endured during this winter trip. I guess summer is next. The only problem is the prices are much higher during the summer months. In summation, there is nothing like being "treated like royalty". It doesn't matter if you book a high priced suite, or an inexpensive inside cabin, in our experience the employees on the ship have only one objective in mind, that the cruisers have a good time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Best Cruise we have been on to date..... about the same as Holland America but more things to do on RCI. People complain a lot about cruises, but I think after talking to Staff, a lot of customers are Demanding, Self Centered, Selfish, ... Read More
Best Cruise we have been on to date..... about the same as Holland America but more things to do on RCI. People complain a lot about cruises, but I think after talking to Staff, a lot of customers are Demanding, Self Centered, Selfish, Rude, Ignorant, High Maintenance, and Cheap.... Little or No TIP. We had a FREE Shuttle from our Hotel in Newark to the Dock, right on time. Boarding was typical for US,... Shuttles, Lines, Security and some waiting time but overall Efficient. What do you expect with 3500 people trying to get on the same Boat. I didnt have all Documents with me and the Boarding Agent was Patient, Kind and very friendly. THAT set the tone for our Cruise. GOOD STUFF Went to the Buffet and had a great lunch, lots of variety, could have called it supper with both Hot and Cold Foods being served. Staff encourage you to Sanitize your hands at stations before entering Dining areas...... some people ignore and walk right by. They might be the ones that get sick and complain. Always get Good Pictures. Staff are helpful, seem happy and eager to help. We loved the Evening Shows, Ice Shows, Hot tubs, Health Spa, Promenade, Dining, Windjammer Cafe, Shore Excursions Including... Wave Runners on Labadee, Best of Antigua tour, Train Tour on St. Kitts and Wife had a nice Massage on Board Ship. ALL food was excellent, I dont know how people complain about food, maybe they need to try another form of travel. We did sit with some people who picked things apart and bragged about getting extra service and apologies for things that are not the fault of the cruise line. Room Attendants are always great we find and keep rooms tidy and ready. Promenade always has Coffee Shop open for snacks and drinks, you never go hungry. THINGS TO IMPROVE ? You can always find fault if you look hard enough, there's 3500 people on board with 1200 Staff, somebody has to wait at some point. Many Nationalities, Customs and Languages on board. You need patience and understanding..... Relax, its supposed to be a Holiday. Even I got a little anxious in some of the lineups. Things That DID Bug me but not unusual with large groups: - People that dont respect Line ups or Queues and simply butt in or go to the head of the line and pretend they dont get it. - Coffee and tea at the Windjammer Beverage stations. Area is a one way dead end where there is room for one person at a time to get drinks. Waiters are in the way a lot and also will butt ahead of you to get drinks for people who are too lazy to get their own drinks. Thought it was BUFFET style.. serve yourself !!! - Movie Theatre seats were a fun time. Its a chess game to get a good view of the screen. Room is not sloped enough and as people come in later and sit in front of you, you have to move and/or block someone else..... it actually became funny and a game with people trying for a better view or mumbling and leaving. Movies were good. - Went to a 'Secrets to Tummy Flattening' seminar to maybe learn an exercize I wasnt aware of. Was told there were no exercises but a DETOX test costing $37 and detoxing sessions costing $500 - $700 is the ticket. Wife didnt bother going to the Puffy Eyes and circles seminar as we agreed that too would cost Hundreds to fix. - Some people dont like to share the Elevators and will butt in front of you knowing full well you were there first and waiting longer. - People who put towels on lounge chairs near the pool and never come back. - Same people always trying to save multiple seats at Theatre and ice rink even though its not supposed to be allowed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I have been on this ship twice before, both from Cape Liberty. Each time I have found the bar staff, dining room staff and cabin stewards service excellent but this time the service from the explorations staff, guest relations and bar ... Read More
I have been on this ship twice before, both from Cape Liberty. Each time I have found the bar staff, dining room staff and cabin stewards service excellent but this time the service from the explorations staff, guest relations and bar servers was dreadful. If you sit at the bar you will receive a friendly reception from the bartenders and can expect to receive your drink and a smile, however, if you take a seat in a booth at every bar on the ship, it's a far different story if you are alone. Before you think about whether you have encountered this, it's worth mentioning that a supervisor had a meeting with the staff and there were people who freely admit that they always cater to a larger group and there really is no reason why they are disinterested in a party of one. All they have to say about that is, please tell her I am sorry. Some DID eventually come over, but the majority of the time they don't and if they are walking by you get a fly by with "drinks" shouted out. I had decided that since I was alone and had not met anyone on the ship that had planned any excursions (or had not thought to ask me along), I would go ahead and volunteer for the day and clean up the national park on St John so I went ahead and booked that. The day before I received a message so I went ahead and stopped at the desk where i was told that since I was the only one it might be canceled so I should be aware and check back Monday. I went back the next day at 9:10 AM just as the woman at the desk was trying to run off and asked her to PLEASE check out whether my excursion was going (because let's face it, if it was canceled this was really the ONLY time I would have been able to try to book something else), she took my ticket and said "OH yes, this is going, it's been combined with another group". I said, are you sure because I was told yesterday the park was closed until this morning and she reiterated that. I went to get some breakfast and then went off the ship and guess what? Yes, indeed, I was told the excursion was canceled and the woman HAD tried to contact the desk. I went upstairs and spoke with someone at guest relations, asking to speak to a manager because the woman at the excursions desk had lied to me. After explaining to this person FIVE times why I wanted to talk to someone else, I was finally given a phone where the manager of the exploration desk claimed that they called me (coincidentally WHILE I was AT the exploration desk) and that when I did answer they figured I was on my way down. I then went up to my room and despite being told they had called, there was no message. So, unfortunately there was nothing I could do at that point. I hope they are happy with how they treated me. The ship is NOT in the best condition internally. Sure the ship is immaculate, but when the boat rocks, so rocks the walls in some cabins. Consistent noise would be fine, but I guess I was the lucky recipient of a shifting panel and despite being told that they would address it when we were actually in port because they said they had to get into the ceiling to remove the panel, nothing was done and on the return the noise got so bad after the ship started to rock again that they just gave me a key to another inside cabin one deck higher. The food is the same as it's been since we were on the ship in 2007 so the best thing I can say is that it forced me to order different food and I am glad I did as I found the majority of the food was better. Johnny Rockets is just plain awful, not sure why it's so bad on the ship, but it is. I have eaten at many of their restaurants and the only thing I can think of is they must squeeze every last bit of juice out of the burger so what you wind up with is something that resembles a slightly lighter and ribbed looking hockey puck. I do not go to the shows, but if you like trivia and have played it and saved your old answer sheets, bring them along as many of the games have not changed. Sure there are SOME different questions but the name that disco tune, name that big band, name that movie, name that 50's 60's has not been updated since the invention of the phonograph. A few of the staff do bring their own questions with them so you can expect SOME new games, but if you wonder why you missed three and a few teams missed none then you will know why. So, to wrap this all up, you can expect to be treated wonderfully in some places but dismally in others and don't be too disappointed if the staff lie, they seem to have done it so often that they can do it with a smile on their face. As I said to the bar supervisor, RCI should send ONE person for a cruise alone so they can see how everyone offers the exact same treatment. Mind you it IS possible that it's not just on this ship that you will be treated like this, but it's sure disappointing to watch a server go around to every table asking them how they are, how their day was and what they want only to have them do a fly by "need anything" as if you are so unimportant you should not even bother.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
A great cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. It was our first time sailing and honestly, I had no idea what to expect.Key things- Amazing staff. From the people who wash the deck to the cruise director, I only encountered people in two ... Read More
A great cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. It was our first time sailing and honestly, I had no idea what to expect.Key things- Amazing staff. From the people who wash the deck to the cruise director, I only encountered people in two areas that were less than fantastic (rock climbing guy had a chip on his shoulder and the people in the photo area are brutal).Food was FANTASTIC in the dining room and for buffet food, it was top notch in the Windjammer.Fantastic, friendly and capable bar service.I would honestly say the only things I did not like about this cruise were the rock climbing people, the photo people and I did notice there were some areas that let you know this ship is no spring chicken. She's showing her years. Water is a sneaky enemy and it finds itself getting in places you don't want it to be. That said, Explorer of the Seas is a fantastic boat. Her staff are top notch (I have been to Disney twice in the past two years and the staff on the Explorer are even more friendly than Disney's).If you are looking for a reasonable price on a great cruise, Explorer of the Seas is a great value that you will be sure to enjoy.Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
So, here are the good things we noticed and experienced on the cruise: 1. The room attendant was friendly and consistently left our cabin spotless. 2. The food at both the dining room and Windjammer were excellent every single ... Read More
So, here are the good things we noticed and experienced on the cruise: 1. The room attendant was friendly and consistently left our cabin spotless. 2. The food at both the dining room and Windjammer were excellent every single time. We didn't have any bad food. The portions, selection, cleanliness of the buffet, and in general the quality of the food were great. We actually tried the Chops filet mignon (there's no Chops restaurant onboard) with a huge filet plus choice of potato and choice of veggies for $14.95 and both of our plates were outstanding. It was well-worth the extra money. The kids' choices are always the same in the dining room, but they were good (as evidenced by our daughter's clean plate) and if she wanted something off the adult menu, it was ok. I should mention that she has a nut and peanut allergy and we were accomodated (waiter telling us about nuts, kitchen making nut-free desserts in advance) in the dining room. At the Windjammer, we were just very careful and simply avoided anything remotely suspicious that might contain nuts. 3. The wait staff at the dining room were excellent. The head waiter and his assistant called us by name, brought us our preferred drinks without reminding them, and the service (pulling out the chair, napkin on lap, cutting meat and seafood shells) were great. At the Windjammer, everyone was friendly, the supervisors kept a good eye on things, and most of the table waiters (for drinks) were on the ball. Again, no complaints. The place was clean, as were the dishes and silverware. 4. We loved being able to book excursions and check our SeaPass balance on the tv. Very user-friendly and pretty fast. The only hitch was that not all the possible excursions were listed on the tv, so we had to stand in that long, interminable line (one clerk, at least 10 people, on any given day) to book the excursion we actually wanted. 5. The RCL-organized tours (we did a total of 6) were interesting and fun, as well as being fairly reasonably priced, except one (read on.) Here are some things that we noticed that were irritating, if not downright unacceptable, and which we brought to the attention of Guest Relations. 1. In general, it was the first larger ship we were on. The plus is that there is ample space at the pool, in the bars, and for the shows; the minus is that you are a number, in terms of customer service, and that you must wait in line for many things. 2. We found the ship to be dirty. The pool deck had black stuff on it and left your feet black. We never saw anyone cleaning it, unlike the smaller ships where there were mates swabbing the deck in the mornings. The railings on the pool deck seemed rusty, as did many places, and where there was carpeting (some bars, the casino area, inside the elevators, the cabin hallways) it was visibly dirty (lint, papers, lots of dirty dishes in the hallways that were never cleared, stains, etc.) The only part of the Windjammer that was gross was the bench seats by the buffet (and I mean all of them, at every table): the cushions were stained all over and looked gross to sit on, but sit we did as they were the most comfortable in that dining area. Finally, every toilet on board, every deck, even in our stateroom, smelled strongly of urine at all times. Very off-putting. 3. We had several billing problems. We did the $25 a bag laundry service and tried to apply the Platinum save $5 coupon, and it took 3 times waiting in line and speaking to Guest Services for it to actually take. Yes, 3 times. That was when my husband threw a fit and added that the ship was dirty and the enrichment was unacceptable (read on), and the only follow up to his complaints was a call, several days later, saying that all would be fixed and thanks for the info. We were not comped, even though we asked to be. 4. Another billing problem: I had to use the doctor for an unexpected bout with bronchitis. Yes, it costs an arm and a leg (total bill for 2 times seeing someone and meds: $368), but they billed us twice for the same meds and got everything generally mixed up, so that they had to redo the bills, so that was more time explaining, waiting, coming back to pick up the new bills, etc. They are open at very limited times, too, which adds to the stress. The medical service was good and welcome, but the billing process sucked. 5. We loved all our excursions but one. In Dominica, there was a river tubing and emerald pool excursion (code R015)organized by RCL, that listed the minimum age as 6. Our daughter is 7, but really slim at 45 pounds. When we arrived at the site, we saw that our idea of gently meandering down a lazy river on a tube would actually be a white-water rafting-type adventure, and we judged on the spot that she would not be able. We voiced our concerns to the tour guide and rafting guys, but they only asked her age and said she'd be ok. I asked if she could sit on either me or my husband, but no. They finally offered to babysit my daughter on the bus while we went down: um, no way I'll leave her with strangers, duh! So I went myself, and my daughter and husband stayed on the bus. Everyone in our party saw what had happened, and let me say that everyone, to a man, told us at the end that there was NO WAY she could have done that tour. When we got back to the ship, we stood in line at GR and told our tale, and the answer was that they will note our complaint and thank you for the info. I would seriously like them to raise the age limit on that particular tour. 6. There was a serious lack of supervision of children (young to teen) and I don't mean parental supervision, I mean ship security-like supervision. The kids were everywhere (there were over 700 out of 3,000 guests) and in general, unmannered and unruly. We have a 7-year-old and certainly don't allow her to be alone and unsupervised, use her card to buy things, run and get underfoot, monopolize and dirty the buffet, and just bug the adults. By the end of 14 days, we wanted to kill every kid we saw. Even the teens were surly, charged the elevators before others could get off, running, laying down in the halls and stairways (and giving attitude and mouthing back when adults asked them to move), running amok in the unsupervised arcade, and running in packs to take over the jacuzzis and pool areas. Let me repeat: no RCL supervision was noticed. Finally, on New Years, we saw what appeared to be 12 year olds scoring glasses of the free champagne being passed by the waiters off of trays. There was a fight in the crowd that night, although I don't know if it was teens. 7. There was a stunning lack of variety in the enrichment. I hope I never see trivia being listed again on the daily schedule. I truthfully submit that there was trivia mornings, afternoons, evenings, and either before or after supper. So, if someone really likes that, great, but that was the bulk of the 'enrichment' offered. If you don't like trivia, or don't want that much, tough. Every afternoon, guess what: line dancing by the pool. Once in awhile, a game of baggo. Period. There were few things to do, in general, and what there was, was repeated ad nauseum. In short: BORING. Even the nightly show was substandard when you see that it was geared to a much-older crowd. If there were 700+ kids, then their parents were there, too. There were many more 30s/40s than 70s passengers, something RCL knows (they have our information, don't they?) and should have taken into account when booking acts. But no, there were at least 3 acts that were 'crooners'; now, I like crooners, but not so many times. In general, the flavor of the entertainment was old, rather than up to date. And none of them was really kid-friendly or interesting or appropriate for kids. Again, a boo boo on RCL's part. When it was brought up at GR, the answer given was that RCL was 'surprised' at the ages of the passengers, and that by the time it was noticed, it was too late to change the acts before they sailed. No, I don't buy it. 8. As far as the port of Bayonne, New Jersey, it was badly unorganized and seemed amateur, compared with Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, which we have also experienced. Problems include a one-lane road in and out, which causes a massive lineup of taxis (hundreds, literally) in and out. There doesn't seem to be anyone in charge, to tell people where to go, to get on the ship, or to get a ride out of the port. We experienced long waits (hours) and much uncertainty and stress both getting on and leaving our cruise. This port needs to get its act together because it leaves much to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Let me begin by saying that getting to and from Cape Liberty was a piece of cake. We arrived the night before and stayed about 20 minutes from the Pier. On the day of departure we arrived, dropped our bags at the terminal, parked the car ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that getting to and from Cape Liberty was a piece of cake. We arrived the night before and stayed about 20 minutes from the Pier. On the day of departure we arrived, dropped our bags at the terminal, parked the car and checked in. Check in took a matter of minutes and we waited for about 30 minutes to be let on board. Our stateroom was wonderful with plenty of room for 4 children and 2 adults. This was our first experience in an oceanview and we were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable we were. The Family Oceanview rooms are over-sized with plenty of walking room when the couch is turned into a bed. The small bunk bed room was perfect for our older two children. There was plenty of storage and we had no issue storing 8 suitcases under the beds. Our stateroom attendant, Alex, was wonderful. He went above and beyond on more than on occasion. Beds were comfortable although the pillows weren't the best. I probably should have asked for new ones but I never remembered until we were ready for bed and Alex was gone. Looking out the two port hole windows we saw the helicopter landing pad which by day was an area with benches for passengers to sit. Because it was windy there weren't too many visitors to that area but we had to be mindful when dressing as you could see in. At night the curtains had to remain closed when the lights were on (no big deal as there was only darkness to see). Promenade was neat. Cafe was the closest spot for us to get snacks/drinks. Stores were OK although they didn't have as much variety as I guess I expected. End of cruise sales and market place buffet brought a zillion people on the last day but other than that it was a never overly packed and you could always find a place to sit. The Christmas tree went up by the Cafe a few days before Thanksgiving which was fun for the kids. Kids club were a bust for us. With over 800 kids on board they were way too packed and there wasn't enough structure in the 6-8 year group so the kids were running amuck and it was too much for our two 8 year olds (there had to have been 40-50 kids in their small room). Our pre teen lasted one session in the 9-11 year group because it was "play this or watch". There were so many kids he was overwhelmed and just wanted to sit and play a game but that wasn't an option. Instead of listing activities by morning, afternoon, evening session they would be better served by having structured activities by time slot like Carnival does and then having a 2nd option for those that aren't interested in that activity. The week prior to us they had 50 kids on board and they said there was no difference in how they run the program with 50 or with 800. I think there needs to be a better plan in place when the numbers are that high. Based on that alone I won't cruise RCI over any peak period. Since the kids were steering clear of the kids club we had to find other activities for them to do and there were plenty. Ice Skating, Mini Golf, Rock Climbing, Napkin Folding, Bingo, Swimming etc. filled up their days with no problem (and I didn't mind having them with us all the time it just would have been nice for a break here and there or to not have to drag them to a show they didn't want to go to). Cruise Director did a great job (Chris Northey) although I think this may have been his last cruise as he said he was leaving with us. Shows were good although at least one really wasn't appropriate for kids and the listing in the Compass didn't say anything about adult only (it was a 9pm first seating show). Other shows were very good especially the Ice Show. Ship is definitely starting to show its age. All ships have rust spots and Explorer was no exception but there were two cracked sinks in the public bathrooms that needed replacing, carpet needed fixing in our cabin, drawers showed stains, bathroom fixtures were peeling/rusted etc. The ship was very clean though. Our waiter was Mowyn and his ass't was Rosa. Great service. Food was OK although the menu at times was very heavy with seafood. Overall they weren't as good on this ship with dealing with food allergies as they have been on other ships in the past (Royal Caribbean and Carnival). Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
When we booked our cruise, we didn't realize we'd be gone on Thanksgiving. But RCCL made our very first time away from family during this holiday a wonderful experience. It was our 2nd time on the Explorer (we were on this ship ... Read More
When we booked our cruise, we didn't realize we'd be gone on Thanksgiving. But RCCL made our very first time away from family during this holiday a wonderful experience. It was our 2nd time on the Explorer (we were on this ship in the Spring), so we were able to navigate the ship with ease. Crew, as always, went above and beyond to make our holiday sailing special. The RC singers & dancers were fabulous, as always. In fact, we saw one set of singers/dancers, then there was a turnover during the cruise, and a new group of singers/dancers came aboard. Both groups were outstanding. Ice show was fantastic as always. We participated in a wonderful onboard special which was lunch in the Portofino Dining Room with the Chef, Captain and several officers. We were greeted with champagne or mojitos; had a wonderful luncheon menu that was served with wine; Chef had a question/answer period; received an autographed Savor cookbook; thereafter we had a tour of the galley on Deck 3. It was a marvelous experience I would recommend to any "foodie". The cost was approximately $45 pp. for everything mentioned. Lots of bang for your buck. Although there were more than 800 children onboard, crew was vigilant in making sure "adult only" pool & hot tub was kept for the adults. There were a few pranks by the children, but for the most part they behaved well. The Labadee port has certainly changed dramatically since we were there last. Loved it, and happy to dock there now, rather then tender. All in all a wonderful Thanksgiving cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My husband and I took our 13 and 15 year olds on a Thanksgiving cruise this year. It was their first cruise and our 3rd (1st with Royal Caribbean, other 2 times were with Carnival). Embarkation was smooth. We got there early and had no ... Read More
My husband and I took our 13 and 15 year olds on a Thanksgiving cruise this year. It was their first cruise and our 3rd (1st with Royal Caribbean, other 2 times were with Carnival). Embarkation was smooth. We got there early and had no lines but had to wait for them to start loading people on the buses. That was probably what I liked least about the process - the buses. Previous cruises we were on left from Miami and we could walk right on the ship without the extra transportation inconvenience. The terminal also could use some serious updating. Lunch was offered at the Windjammer. It was so crowded we couldn't find a place to sit. That was disappointing. We couldn't get in to our rooms until 1:30 pm so we checked out the ship. I was impressed with the tasteful decorating of the public rooms. We met up at Dizzy's for an informal Cruise Critic get together with the goal primarily being to get the teens more comfortable with each other. That went pretty well and we met some nice individuals, although the kids still seemed awkward. Our room (connecting cabins on the Promenade) was very nice and our cabin steward called us by our first names within hours. My family opted for My Time Dining. We had 5:30 pm reservations on the days where we weren't in port and 7 pm reservations on the days when we were in port. That worked out really well. We had nice service the first night and enjoyed the entertainment that evening. The first 2 days at sea we continued to explore and participated in a variety of activities. The last 2 days at sea we mellowed out more and although there were things we ultimately never did (that we said we wanted to), we were ok with that. My 15 year old met teens quickly and hung out with a group of kids almost the entire cruise. We saw him only for dinner but as long as he was having fun, that was good enough for us. My outgoing 13 year old daughter had trouble meeting friends and found herself alone or with my husband and I most of the trip. She tried going to Optix a few times but said nothing was really going on and she had trouble joining in. My son reported that the individual supervising the area was letting 20 year olds in the 'club' at various points in time so I was disappointed to hear that. The inline skating rink wasn't open much and when it was, it was crowded with all different levels of abilities making it challenging. I loved the fitness center but had to wait to use the elliptical at one point - so it could get busy in there. I used the spa services, which was wonderful. Back to dining - the 2nd night we were seated at a different section where a wonderful gentleman, Wendell and his assistant, Savio took care of us. Wendell was amazing and provided top-notch service. My teens loved the assistant waiter from the first night, Aniket as he continued to help with their sodas throughout all the evenings of dining even when we were no longer seated in his section. The service in the dining room was really spectacular. I saw waiters/assistant waiters cutting the steaks of children while the parents didn't have to interrupt their dinner, as well as anything served on/in a shell (i.e. shrimp, lobster) was removed tableside by the wait staff. The service at the Windjammer was spotty at best. We enjoyed the entertainment for the most part. The drinks were extremely watered down to the point where I will never order a mixed drink from that cruise line again. We didn't book any excurions directly with the ship this time, so I can't comment on that experience. The line for guest services was frequently long, which could become frustrating. I am happy to report smoking was hardly an issue and my smoke-free lungs were happy about that. Overall we had an amazing time and are anxious to cruise again with Royal Caribbean. I would never go back to Carnival based on this experience. Although the vacation wasn't 'perfect' it was wonderful and I would highly recommend Explorer of the Seas. My family and I began looking at other future cruise opportunities and found we liked the convenience of driving to Cape Liberty (as opposed to flying to FL), love the 9-day cruise itinerary, and enjoyed Explorer so much, we are considering booking again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Explorer of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness & Recreation 5.0 N/A
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.3
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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