32 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We had a great time on the Explorer of the Seas. Our balcony cabin was spacious and kept very clean, the staff always had a smile on their face and couldn't do enough to make our stay an enjoyable one. There was a terrific band ... Read More
We had a great time on the Explorer of the Seas. Our balcony cabin was spacious and kept very clean, the staff always had a smile on their face and couldn't do enough to make our stay an enjoyable one. There was a terrific band call Top Notch in the Star Lounge that played great music each night. We enjoyed the both the quality and variety of the food in the main dining room. The only downside we experienced was there wasn't much entertainment and they tried to squeeze everyone into the Schooner Bar for the daily trivia games. It seems they put in more cabins and that took away from the public spaces which would definitely have been a problem if we hadn't had a balcony cabin. We were able to board the ship as well as disembark without any problems. Overall we had a terrific time and was very glad that we chose this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have been on Carnival twice to the Caribbeans and two years ago on a Mediterranean cruise on Princess. We felt RC Explorer of the Seas was comparable to Ruby Princess. First of all, the service on this ship was exemplary. Everyone who ... Read More
We have been on Carnival twice to the Caribbeans and two years ago on a Mediterranean cruise on Princess. We felt RC Explorer of the Seas was comparable to Ruby Princess. First of all, the service on this ship was exemplary. Everyone who worked there exceeded our expectations. We thought the entertainment on board this ship far exceeded the entertainment on Princess. The in-house entertainers and particularly the entertainment brought in off ship were wonderful. Hands down, better than Princess. There are lots of Brits on board from this port and they seemed to like their bar areas so I think some of the complaints of over-crowding are coming from the aspect. The bars were always full but didn't bother us because we rarely went in them. The cruise director, Seymour and assistant cruise guy Gordon were wonderful and talented men. We wish they showed more movies at night with big screen. They didn't seem to use it to its advantage like Princess did. It was a nice touch to have the electric water boilers in each room for tea but I was disappointed that iced tea was hard to find. Yes, it was in the dining rooms but otherwise all they had was free water, free flavored water, lemonade, pink lemonade, etc at Promenade areas. Come on, Americans love their iced tea and for a diabetic unsweetened iced tea is much appreciated. We did not get wifi on this ship. It was unbelievably high. $40 for one device and half off for another PER DAY and that deal is only if you get it for all the days of your cruise. Princess had a better deal on that. The food was very good at both Windjammer and the formal dining rooms. The fitness area was great with enough equipment to satisfy anyone. The hot tub and steam room and sauna were very nice touches. We wish they had more talks on the history of the ports visited. They had some but not enough. Shore excursions are extremely expensive. We went on three with them and were not really satisfied with them for the money spent. We did have luck, like we did several years, in finding groups through cruise critic to to our own private tours. Those always seem to work out better and usually less expensive than what the ship offers. The shore excursion staff was very nice and informative though. We had room 3722 and I was a bit worried about being on this low of a floor. It worked out wonderfully. This is one of the newly built rooms and it smelled new and was very clean. The location was great and we heard no noise from above or below or anywhere when we were in the room. No interior rooms across from us. The photos are also super expensive and a few of the men who worked there were the only ones who were a bit rude. I preferred the pools on this ship as opposed to Ruby Princess because you had better access to entering the pool. I still wish these pools had shallower areas though for us shorter people to be able to stand in it. Overall I would say this is a very good ship. Yes, it is crowded but I never felt the crowds much except when we had breakfast at the Windjammer. I would recommend this ship and remember that if you want an oceanview room, room 3722 is a great one. I am not sure if it was because of the port departure or itinerary but this cruise had a lot of older people. Lots of wheelchairs, etc. We felt like the younger ones at the age of 60. If you want a younger group of people on board I would look elsewhere. Also I know gratuities are included in the cost but the people that work on these ships are so great. We always leave a little extra for our room steward and dining staff. They really appreciate it and those are the people that really make your cruise more enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I have never published a review before, but after the reading lots of bad reviews about this ship, I feel I have to share my positive experience. I have travelled on many cruises in the past but I have found this one to be the best ... Read More
I have never published a review before, but after the reading lots of bad reviews about this ship, I feel I have to share my positive experience. I have travelled on many cruises in the past but I have found this one to be the best out of them all. The check in process took less than 10 minutes. The entertainment throughout the cruise was good and varied to suit everyone’s tastes from comedians, singers, tribute acts and ice shows to frequent quizzes and bingo sessions. The food was always hot and delicious, both in the windjammer and in the dining room. And the staff were some of the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met. Our balcony cabin, though smaller than some other ships, still comfortably held three adults (myself, my mother and my daughter) and it was cleaned twice daily. The ship itself was spotlessly clean and well maintained. It also handled rough seas beautifully. As for the overcrowding mentioned in previous reviews . . . my family and I never really experienced it. We always found a seat around the pool, in all of the bars and in the windjammer. I think the problem with other reviewers is that they sailed during the British school holidays (our captain said we had around six children on our cruise whereas the previous cruise had more than six hundred.) As you can imagine, this amount of extra children would cause overcrowding, but I believe if you book this ship out of the school holidays, you will have an amazing cruise. If you can’t, then I still believe you will have a great cruise. Just expect some overcrowding and get your seats early. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We're looking forward to Lanzarote but due to the Timing early morning then little time in port had to miss out. Everything seemed a rush not a cruise for OAP's. Lifts were always busy and full especially with children who could ... Read More
We're looking forward to Lanzarote but due to the Timing early morning then little time in port had to miss out. Everything seemed a rush not a cruise for OAP's. Lifts were always busy and full especially with children who could have easily taken the stairs and they we're messing about in them. People putting towels on sun beds early then not using them for hours. On a brighter note the food was excellent so was the entertainment and bars and the cabins were spotless, clean beds towels every day and the attendants work very hard as do the staff in the dining rooms Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We were first time cruisers, and will be the last. Food was basic, every day was much as such the same, very bland, Gammon was served as Lamb, Scallops were the size of blueberries, they had made a Rhubarb pie in a Paella pan, i wont tell ... Read More
We were first time cruisers, and will be the last. Food was basic, every day was much as such the same, very bland, Gammon was served as Lamb, Scallops were the size of blueberries, they had made a Rhubarb pie in a Paella pan, i wont tell you what it looked like,after people started digging in, but it comes from the back end of a cow. Quantity of food was all wrong, in Saffire restaurant, my wife ordered beef, and got half a cow, i ordered fish and got a tiddler. When at windjammer restaurant you were queuing up for service and then looking for tables Every day when passing customer relations office their was a terrible sewage smell. Went to cinema once and picture stopped 4 times. Went to adult pool which was full of children, there was two pools and two deck but you had to wonder round to get a sun chair. The problem is Royal Caribbean, are cramming people onto ship and they have not got facilities to look after everybody comfortably . One morning before our excursion, we ordered breakfast in our stateroom, which we never got, on return from excursion we found a standard note on top of a covered plate, on reading the standard note they apologized for not delivering our breakfast, and as a good will gesture they gave us 3 chocolate strawberries and two chocolates.You have got to laugh Staff excellent. Excursions were very good. Cabin basic did the job. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
It was my first cruise I did not no what to expect. I was so excited when I saw the ship I couldn't wait to get on board. Our cabin was lovely and very clean we had a balcony. The food was fantastic could not wished for better and the ... Read More
It was my first cruise I did not no what to expect. I was so excited when I saw the ship I couldn't wait to get on board. Our cabin was lovely and very clean we had a balcony. The food was fantastic could not wished for better and the staff were so polite and very helpful. We made lots of new friends. Everything on board was excellent and could not wish for more. Our holiday was one of the best and have booked another cruise with royal Caribbean for may 2016. The entertainment was good went to the shows most evenings. The ship is like a 5 star hotel on water and had everything you could wish for. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean and we were not disappointed. Having read some of the reviews I am not sure some people were on the same ship !! ● this is a large family cruise ship, there will be lots of children, ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean and we were not disappointed. Having read some of the reviews I am not sure some people were on the same ship !! ● this is a large family cruise ship, there will be lots of children, don'the blame RC for their behaviour that's the parents responsibility. ● food was fantastic, go to the Al la carte if the Windjammer is busy or ask the staff to find you a table they will move chairs etc for you if necessary! ●never encountered a rude member of staff! Even the maintenance guys greet you.The ship is immaculate ●cabin was lovely and our cabin attendant was fabulous, no request too small. ●age group is varied but activities reflect this appropriately ●everyone wants to be sat by the pool, have a potter around the ship you will find sunbeds in some lovely areas which are sun traps and then pop down to the pool for a dip - it's easy ! In conclusion, do your research on the ship and remember you are getting a ridiculous amount of facilities and better customer service than at some top hotels for the price you are paying. Whilst on our cruise we took advantage of the discounts and booked a third to the Caribbean - yippee ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My husband and two children (10 and 5) have just returned from 2 weeks cruising the med on Explorer. Lots of positives, just a couple of moans. Main Moan 1st I like children. I am a teacher. I'm used to children. I know they are ... Read More
My husband and two children (10 and 5) have just returned from 2 weeks cruising the med on Explorer. Lots of positives, just a couple of moans. Main Moan 1st I like children. I am a teacher. I'm used to children. I know they are on the ship for a holiday BUT the number of unaccompanied children (not just teenagers but younger ones too) roaming the ship shouting, running etc. was unbelievable. There were definitely not parents around keeping an eye on them (even in the pool areas) where the rules state that those under 16 must be supervised. Often there were boys dive bombing and ducking each other in pools and hot tubs. If RC see this as a problem (surely they must as so many guests were complaining) then they will have to employ pool attendants. The guys that were there cleaning did talk to the kids at times and warn them but this only helped for a minute or two. I think there are safety issues as well as for the comfort of other guests. There was a problem with a large gang of teenagers that took over the library - noisily playing cards. They wanted to talk and play music whilst they played (not a problem if in a suitable area) so I think someone from security could have politely moved them on and solved many of the problems that came from this group. One night all the scrabble boxes were damaged and muddled, the cards (about 30 brand new packs) all muddled. The 2.00 am curfew for under 18s was observed more strictly after this according to my husband, who used the computer room late most nights and says that it was not enforced until then. Embarkation/Disembarkation Both ran as smooth as clockwork. We arrived at port and got straight on and went straight to room which was all ready and looking great. I had followed advice and had swimming things etc. in a carry on bag. I'm glad I'd done this as the suitcases didn't arrive until after 8.00. I think the kids would have burst if they'd had to wait that long to get in the pool. The pool was quiet and we swam during the sail away. Disembarkation was easy too. We opted to carry off our cases and walked straight off the ship with no waiting at all. We were in our car and on the way home by 7.00. Cabin We were worried about our choice of cabin - 7349. Inside (which we'd never had before) and with 2 Pullman births. Having cruised with Thomson (a small suite), with P and O (balcony) and RC (several times all with balconies) when there was just the 3 of us, we weren't very optimistic. It was the best we've had and I would definitely recommend it for position as well as size and layout. We had no noise at all at night or when docking. It's near the back of the ship and close (but not too close) to lifts. Just a short ride , or walk, up to the pool, kids club, windjammer, main restaurants. Not a hike from front to back as we've often had. We asked the steward to keep the Pullmans down during the day, rather than store them til bedtime, as then the kids always had somewhere to sit when we went back to the cabin. It was the best laid out room we've had. Huge bed for us, great tube shower (with solid doors) and plenty of storage even for 4. It was very clean and has been updated recently. Entertainment Just myself and 11 year old daughter went to the shows - apart from the ice show which we all went to and the kids loved!! I thought they were a good selection - a mixed "taster" on the 1st night with a very old fashioned/but funny comedian with an act just right for kids (hypnotising a ferret etc.). We also saw the violinist (not what I would have chosen to see but entertaining nevertheless), the hypnotist (great family ent), the queen tribute act (I squirmed a little at the beginning but was up and dancing along with most others by the end). We were really disappointed that the last show was a comedian (not really v suitable for families wanting entertainment on the last night of the cruise. I thought Tim Connor and Gordon were a great double act too tho we didn't really take part in any other organised entertainment apart from the shows and seeing their late night/early morning tv slot. Excursions We didn't do any organised excursions as, for a family of 4, they were so expensive. When travelling as a 3 we've done them with RC but 4 just seems to be a step too far. We walked out in Palma and Gibralta and did a little shopping and sight seeing. We enjoyed being on the boat when it was quiet and this was the best time to swim and to use otherwise busy areas. Dining We had booked for 6.00 on a table for 4 but, on checking in, found we had been given 8.30. We swapped quite easily to 6.00 but on a table of 8. We didn't want this as, with a 5 year old boy who hasn't quite got the table manners and etiquette we'd like (!), we thought a table on our own would be best for all concerned. No one was very helpful when we tried to swap. In the end we preferred the flexibility of the Windjammer and the times (we tended to eat at about 7.00) so we gave up on trying to change tables and never ate in there. The food was ok. A reasonable choice but a bit repetitive after a while. My 11 year old loved it and has never eaten so healthily... Lots of salad and fruit for her to counterbalance the custard which she got hooked on. Overall we had a great time. The boat was clean and the staff were usually helpful. We would recommend for families like ours. The kids club seemed ok tho our kids didn't use it as much this time as we'd thought they would. Not sure if this was due to their ages (10 year old growing out of wanting organised activities?) or whether it just wasn't as good as others they've been to. If you travel with RC do the research 1st. Know what's extra (eg the huge gratuities bill) and be prepared. We would travel with them again ... cleanliness and comfort of cabin being a huge priority which, again, did not disappoint. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I have just returned from a 14 day cruise on Explorer, whilst there was nothing particularly bad about the ship, there's was lots of room for improvements. Food - main dining room was OK but had some strange dish combinations and ... Read More
I have just returned from a 14 day cruise on Explorer, whilst there was nothing particularly bad about the ship, there's was lots of room for improvements. Food - main dining room was OK but had some strange dish combinations and overall a little disappointing. Food - Windjammer - Breakfast - mass chaos as usual, dishes scattered all over the place, no thought to layout, quality OK. Dinner - same quality OK but layout chaotic, for example Roast Beef carvery, Mash potatoes next to it, but no veg , had to walk 20 yards to find veg, then back for gravy. Windjammer ran out of Lemon drink mix after 7 days & Apple Juice after 10 days. Drinks - Bar prices have been increased significantly, cheapest bottle or Rose wine $36, glass of Heineken $8, Bottle of Bulmers Cider $8 ran out of some cocktail mixes during 2nd week. After the refit there are now 4 pay extra dining options, but these have been added at the expense of other facilities. We had 600 youngsters on our cruise but after the Adventure area closed nowhere for them to go, constant problems with noise & tom foolery until 1am. Cruise Director was new, his 1st cruise, what a let down, more charisma in a wet lettuce. Entertainment staff some good & some awful, couldn't be bothered half of time, late for events, constantly ill prepared. Entertainment - poor throughout, Never heard of any of the acts, Top act was an X factor finalist from 2006 ?? Customer Services - not enough on duty - long queues , Shore Excursions staff - very unhelpful - Photographers - struggling with new digital technology to view photo,s and lacking training. Shops - very expensive. This ship has recently been upgraded but maintenance was poor, dirty windows, broken down lifts & non-working toilets throughout cruise. On a positive note, stateroom attendant was superb, Dining room waiters were OK but could be better, Windjammer staff very helpful. Captain & Officers hardly visible except at organised events. Overhaul - could do better Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our first cruise, I read some reviews of the ship before we went and worried that we had made a very expensive mistake, I needn't have done we had a fabulous time Boarding the ship at Southampton is the easiest start to a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, I read some reviews of the ship before we went and worried that we had made a very expensive mistake, I needn't have done we had a fabulous time Boarding the ship at Southampton is the easiest start to a holiday we have ever had, within in 30 mins of parking we were on board We are a family of four with two kids aged 16 and 13, our travel agent recommended RCI as having the best ships for holidaying with teenagers, the ship is amazing with so much to keep them occupied, they used the teenage club to start with and soon made friends then they had the freedom to do make the most of the facilities and do things on their own. They enjoyed the freedom of being allowed to be up late while we knew they were safe, there were probably 1000 teenagers on board but we didn't see any bad behaviour. We thought the ship looked very smart, you could tell that a lot of the fixtures and fittings were new after the ships refurb earlier in the year. It was also very clean, on my early morning walks I met an army of cleaners disinfecting and cleaning every nook and cranny. The ship was full but the service from most of the crew was fantastic nothing was too much trouble, we built up a rapport with our room attendant who did a fantastic job of working round two teens who weren't keen on getting up in the morning! We had a lovely server in the Sapphire dining room who looked after us very well, in fact we found all the crew were friendly and helpful except for a small number of the bar staff who were bordering on rude. When you are forced to go away in the school holidays you have to accept that it's going to be busy, if you wanted to sit near the pool you needed to get there early, we always found loungers eventually but it was pretty packed on the sun decks. Everywhere was busy but it wasn't a problem, It's a big, busy lively ship with lots going on, music playing almost everywhere so if you're looking for a low key cruise this one wouldn't be for you The food was lovely with lots of choice, had some great meals in the Sapphire but also enjoyed the food in the windjammer especially liked the Thai and Indian. The kids made the most of being able to get pizza 24/7 from the cafe promenade! There was a lot of entertainment, we liked the piano bar and the pub singer in the evenings, the reggae band at the pool were very good too. A bit disappointed with the shows at the Palace Theatre, we were led to believe by the website that there would be west end type shows, they use 'Chicago' as an example, there was a mini version of Tell me on a Sunday which we took the kids to and that was enough to put them off for the rest of the holiday! We enjoyed the comedian and the Flyboys, there were some good singers in the resident performers but the productions were a bit twee and probably aimed at Americans We enjoyed all the ports, we didn't book any due to the cost so just did our own thing, Gibraltar- massive queue for the cable car, so had a private taxi tour, guy was knowledgeable, took us to the caves up to the Rock etc. cost £22 each. Malaga- Stayed on the beach which is walking distance from the ship Villefranche- leave the ship on a tender which was fun, walked to the train station and got the train to Monaco which takes approx 15 mins Corsica- We came off the ship and turned left and walked to the beach small but lovely for swimming, town centre very close to where you are docked Sardinia- Waked up to the cathedral which was worth seeing, had amazing Italian Gelato then walked back to the centre had a nice lunch before a bit of shopping Palma- Walked up to the shopping centre caught a bus to Major beach only 4 or 5 stops away, gorgeous sand and warm water with big waves Cadiz- Mainy shopping which was very close and some good tapas for lunch To sum it up we had a great time, the kids have said it was our best holiday ever, we would like to try an adult cruise to see what it's like without hoards of teenagers on board. But either way it won't be our last cruise Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We began our cruise thinking had we made the right decision after reading some of the adverse comments on these forums, how wrong we were to worry.. Embarkation at Southampton was brilliant and so quick we were done and dusted inside of ... Read More
We began our cruise thinking had we made the right decision after reading some of the adverse comments on these forums, how wrong we were to worry.. Embarkation at Southampton was brilliant and so quick we were done and dusted inside of 20 mins.. Every public access place was open as soon as we were on board so food and drinks were waiting for us, by 2pm our rooms were ready for us, had a short wait after that for every bag to turn but this was no problem Our inside cabin was very good, spotlessly clean everyday of the trip, cleaned by a brilliant young man who was so friendly and he ensured he remembered our names everyday. Food was plentiful anywhere you decided to eat and the quality was faultless are far as we were concerned, I am sure you cd t please all of the people all of the time, but I didn't here anyone complain at anytime during out trip. Service was quick easy, if you wanted drinks brought to your sun lounger that was no problem whatsoever, we never waited more then a couple of minutes to be served and even that time was spent chatting to other holiday makers on the cruise. There was do much to do your time on board flew by before you know it... We could not felt the ship at all everything and everyone working on the ship were clearly there to make sure you had a grest holiday, and they certainly did.. Putting into perspective there were 3500 guests and 1450 staff, that's around 1:3 ratio staff to guests, you couldn't help but be looked after.. Every port of call was worth a visit with only Villefranche causing issues with having to be tendered off the sh and even that was quite exciting... For me personally the only downside was be struck down by seasickness on the journey out as the west her was really poor, but that was no fault of Royal Caribbean.. Overall a brilliant time was had by everyone in our party of 6 Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
The cruise was our third with RC. Previously sailing on Brilliance and Adventure. The ship met our expectations and was fun, loud and action packed. There were 1000 children on the ship which we expected and most people were British. ... Read More
The cruise was our third with RC. Previously sailing on Brilliance and Adventure. The ship met our expectations and was fun, loud and action packed. There were 1000 children on the ship which we expected and most people were British. This was slightly disappointing as we prefer the cosmopolitan mix of meeting people from other countries. The restaurant food was excellent quality and the wait staff were fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble. The windjammer was very busy but the staff worked extremely hard to help seat out party of 6 at busy times. The food was hot, tasty and plentiful. The cruise director seemed new to the job and did not have the same presence as past directors, however he improved as the cruise went on. His team of entertainment staff were not up to the usual standard. The quiz and bingo hosts were lack lustre and the activities were over and done with very quickly. The bingo was not of the same style as previously - only playing for full house - no line or corners!! The ice show was outstanding - our favourite show on the ship. The mini golf, climbing wall, arcade, Ice rink and flow rider provided hours of entertainment for young and old alike. This time we found the shows in the Palace Theatre very hit and miss. We must have been spoilt on previous RC cruises as these were not up to the usual standard, however the live music was excellent and the band around the pool were great and provided a laid back, chilled atmosphere. It was very crowded around the pool but we always managed to find somewhere to sit. There was a lot of reserving of chairs and some times the attendants did clear them. There were always places to sit on quieter decks. There were bar servers around the pool and they were kept busy by the many guests enjoying the free drinks package. The ice cream machine and drinks machines were a big hit. The films shown on the pool deck were good and suitable for a range of ages. The ports of call were excellent. The organisation of disembarkation at each port was superb and we found DIY excursions easy to arrange and good value for money. It would have been good to stay in port longer as sometimes we felt rushed to leave the beach to get back on board. There is limited indoor seating on this ship but we didn't find this a problem as we had second sitting dinner and then were happy to wander around, play shuffleboard, look at photos, walk around promenade deck etc. Cruising is not about sitting in a pub on board all night for me. Overall a fantastic cruise with great ports and a beautiful new cabin. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I selected the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the seas for a Mediterranean cruise leaving Southampton Sunday 26th July and booked a junior suite for my son and I. I have a triple negative cancer which is a terminal condition and have been ... Read More
I selected the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the seas for a Mediterranean cruise leaving Southampton Sunday 26th July and booked a junior suite for my son and I. I have a triple negative cancer which is a terminal condition and have been advised not to fly medium or long haul , a consequence of the cancer treatment is the need for very high levels of hygiene due to my reduced resistance to infections etc. Hence my selection of a cruise , which was advertised as having a high class level of service and accommodation . This should never be a worry on a quality holiday and I rarely find the need to mention it . The cruise was a great disappointment in terms of the standard of accommodation and general standard of restaurants etc , I have listed below a number of detailed points but overall I feel it fell well short of the standard set out in advertising. 1. Filthy beds - note my sons bed had a sheet folded up to cover up hole (a hole / REALLY!)). Mattress was soiled and well past the day it should of been used. The bed consisted of a metal corrugated platform, with a thin mattress on top. When i asked if anything could be placed on top of the bed to add to the comfort level, I was offered a think latex topper , which was yellow as it was so old. My cabin attendant kept on apologising for the discomfort of the room and said that the ship was simply not good enough. I could not sleep for the 3 nights we were on the boat. 2. Food Standards - these were just so poor... Breakfast being help yourself, and plastic plates ( i though only prison needed plastic plates) Food was everywhere , people would grab plastic plateful and just leave them lying around on deck by the lifts literally everywhere ... at times in the main street there were pools of soft drink on the floor by the dispensers, and the ice cream machine by the pool was a disgrace , the floor being sodden with spilt ice cream. In the main restaurant the food was just plain poor .....really disappointing 3. Overpopulation -The cruise was heavily overpopulated .... the second day I did several tours of the deck and still didn’t find a place to sit, the main street area was literally heaving with people. Many people were 4 to a cabin which were far too small to accommodate. It was very difficult to get a seat anywhere during the day, we were basically confined to our cabin 4. Bathroom and Water - Water came out a sludgy brown colour and the tiles in the bathroom had a heavy mildew small and were green, the bathroom was so old it should of been condemned. 5. WIFI - at 420USD - this was a joke , it barely worked .... 6. Drinks Packages - After buying the most expensive drinks package, I still found myself having to pay a dollar for a better glass of wine 7. Room service - Overworked and just plain dirty , the water jugs should not see the light of day caked with grime or battered beyond reasonable use. Trays were really dirty, they had not been wiped in a while . The F & B manager should be on top of this. 8. Refurbishment - Its says that the ship was re-furbished in 2014, sadly they missed out on doing anything to the bedrooms other than changing the curtains/carpet (maybe). The beds should at least od been changed , poor mattresses on corrugated metal should not be acceptable . 9. Pools/Activities - again totally overcrowded, finding a lounger on the sun was a search for the Holy Grail ! The pool area was filthy and the stink of Chorine by the surf area was overpowering (having a pool myself I know when it smells the water is off !) 10.Staff - I have to say the staff were great in the face of adversity, but like me, a number I spoke to couldn’t wait to get off the boat, the line at customer services was constant I left the cruise in Gibraltar as I could not face the poor standard of accommodation and service anymore and flew back to the UK at my own expense. I have never felt the need to abandon a holiday, but felt my health would have been in danger if I stayed any longer, I did not sleep as the bed were so poor...... One thing I believe in is the least you can expect from any holiday is a night sleep, most hotel groups guarantee this even a Travelodge !!!!!. Im sure my cabin was used to pacify some unhappy cruiser by offering and upgrade - there seemed to be a few unhappy people I do understand that you cannot please all people all of the time, and this holiday is not for everyone .... But the Basics of Cleanliness. a good nights sleep and reasonable food where not met by any part of this holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I feel compelled to write a review in light of some of the negative comments regarding the Explorer of the Seas. These reviews totally misled us in what was waiting for us. We had a fantastic time on the ship, which was spotlessly ... Read More
I feel compelled to write a review in light of some of the negative comments regarding the Explorer of the Seas. These reviews totally misled us in what was waiting for us. We had a fantastic time on the ship, which was spotlessly clean and plush throughout. The staff could not have done more to ensure we had a great time and were friendly in the extreme. I find the comments about food hard to understand. The choice and quality of food on the Windjammer restaurant had to be seen to be believed, with different choices available every night. We never failed to find a seat in Dizzy's bar, even though we were in a group of 7. We were able to relax and enjoy the stunning views in total comfort. Queues were minimal throughout. Both embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and delay free. We had a fantastic time. I would highly recommend a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We are a family of 4 (travelling with kids aged 10 & 12) and this was our first cruise. After reading reviews of the Explorer I was very nervous about the cruise and would have cancelled if I could..... However there was no need to be ... Read More
We are a family of 4 (travelling with kids aged 10 & 12) and this was our first cruise. After reading reviews of the Explorer I was very nervous about the cruise and would have cancelled if I could..... However there was no need to be at all to be worried. We had the most fantastic time. The ship is amazing, the staff were happy, courteous and could not do enough to help, the food was superb (both choice and quality) and the facilities on board are extensive. Our kids did not use kids club a lot, however when they did they enjoyed it. The only down side was that the kids club older group is aged 12-17, which is a wide range over. As as our son is only 12 he felt a little bit shy with there being lots of 16 & 17 year olds there. Next time we will travel in the main school holiday weeks so that there are more children of their ages around. The kids however were constantly entertained with mini golf, big screen movies by the pool, ice skating and flowrider. We choose a cabin with a window on a low deck and were given mid ship deck 2 - the room was quiet, plenty big enough for the 4 of us, was kept very clean by our superb room attendant and we felt very little motion of the ship. We went ashore at a majority of the stops. We went on a mix of Royal caribbean and private excursions. For Rome and Florence we organised a private car through "shore excursions in italy.net" These was fantastic - we got to see everything we wanted, the cars were air conditioned, with Wifi and they even provided water and use of guide books. In Rome we managed to have a good look inside and out of both the colosseum and the Vatican as well as seeing all of the other major sites The excursions were also very reasonably priced (Around 500 euro per trip for all 4 of us) - I would definitely recommend them. The entertainment was varied and of a very good standard. The shows on the promenade were great fun too. The food throughout the ship was exceptional - there are so many options - a la carte dinning in the sapphire restaurant, buffet style at windjammer and for between meals gorgeous snacks from cafe promanade.... The only worry was how much we ate and how much weight we put on! The "check-in" at Southampton and the disembarkation was straight forward and efficient... far easier than any airport experience I've ever had! In summary I would have no reservations at all in recommending this cruise.... in fact we enjoyed our first cruise so much we booked a cruise for summer 2016 whilst on board. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Have just read a "disappointed" review of this cruise and just felt I had to respond to a few points. We have just returned from our 14 night Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas and had a ... Read More
Have just read a "disappointed" review of this cruise and just felt I had to respond to a few points. We have just returned from our 14 night Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas and had a fantastic time from beginning to end. It was the perfect choice of holiday for a family with two teenagers. I agree with all the positive points made but must admit we didn't make any use of the additional dining facilities that required extra payment - the choice of dining and quality of food was excellent without having to do that. However I spoke to quite a few people on board who all said that both Giovanni's and Chops Grille were both superb. So onto all these supposed negatives: - if you choose to go on holiday during school summer break then expect kids!! With schools even fining parents for taking kids out of schools in term time these days it's the only chance we get. Royal Caribbean is known for providing lively cruises for all ages - do your research. There were kids around but there was never any sign of concern. - unless you wanted a sunbed right next to the pool (which you might with young children) then there was no problem with a sunbed on any day. Everyday deck 13 was opened at 10am which provided loads of additional sunbeds for those not up early. There was only one cruising day when you could say it was busy. - the adults only pool area was not full of teenagers. They didnt take up any sunbeds and usually only used the hot tubs. Can't say anymore. - I obviously can't comment on other people's rooms but I can say ours was spotless every day. The room attendant was fab and attended to all our needs. A problem with the shower water being very hot one day was fixed by the next day. - I agree that the big outdoor screen had a square missing for the whole trip. But this was one square in over a hundred, perhaps a measure of how picky this negative reviewer is being. The range of films, music and sports shown on the screen was excellent. The idea of providing outdoor nibbles for 3800 guests is ridiculous. Imagine the popcorn mess made by all the teenagers hanging around!! As if there wasn't enough food on offer throughout the rest of the ship all day - Windjammer food: some of the food on offer may well have been too salty for some people's tastes but there was such a variety of food on offer every day that I find it amazing that someone could find nothing other than bread for lunch. There was a full range of salad at all times for example. - Main Dining Room food: I didn't eat in here apart from evening meal so can't comment about breakfast or lunch. Evening meals were fantastic every night. Service was excellent and we got to know our staff well as the holiday went on. The menu changed every evening with a few classics staying on throughout. My-Time dining was a great choice and would recommend it. How could you only eat here twice in two weeks? -Room Service: we only used this once. It came on time, we got a telephone call to tell us it was coming 10 mins before it arrived, everything we ordered was on there and the cooked items were hot. What more could you ask for!! Great fun too!! - agree that cocktails were mostly pre-made (but only mixers for pina colada and daiquiri in cartons for example) but this saved time for the bar staff as the bars were busy most of the time. If they had made all cocktails from scratch then there would have been bigger queues at the bars giving you something else to complain about!! -getting off at Villefranche: the fact that you needed to get a ticket to get off early onto a tender was well advertised in the cruise compass and by the Cruise Director. Without too much effort we were off before 10am with two teenagers. I can't possibly see how you can be disappointed with a cruise like this. A holiday is what you make it - we will certainly be returning for more. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our first cruise and will NOT be the last with RC. There was nothing we could really apply fault too,except some of the passengers who could be extremely rude to the ships staff on times.ALL the staff were amazing and their ... Read More
This was our first cruise and will NOT be the last with RC. There was nothing we could really apply fault too,except some of the passengers who could be extremely rude to the ships staff on times.ALL the staff were amazing and their friendly attitude was not forced, just a genuine aim to please. Our cabin steward was tremendous, as were our dining room staff who helped make our holiday complete. Food and drink on all levels was delicious and plenty of it. Ship activities..excellent ! Shore excursions superb! Cabin was all that we needed, as who lives in their cabin on a cruise?!!! Captain made time to talk to us! And disembarkation was as simple as you could wish. If only it could be that easy on a plane!!, All in all we had a tremendous time and looking forward to the next trip, Just one thing.......could have had a bigger selection of perfumes etc. We are used to high standards on holiday and can't understand peoples negative responses! HERE'S TO THE NEXT RC CRUISE!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Well we are just back from our 2 week cruise on the explorer of the seas. First of all check in was quick & easy, within 30 minutes of parking our car we were on the ship. First big tip to take note of is make sure you pack a bag you ... Read More
Well we are just back from our 2 week cruise on the explorer of the seas. First of all check in was quick & easy, within 30 minutes of parking our car we were on the ship. First big tip to take note of is make sure you pack a bag you can carry onto the ship with a change of clothes etc because they take your suitcases when you get the car park. Our cabin had been changed without our knowledge & as a result there was a mix up with our luggage. However, the staff were very helpful & by 10pm we had our suitcases. So it's probably easier if I list the positives first: - most of the staff are extremely friendly & helpful -we ended up being upgraded to a junior suite which was lovely & big. It included a large balcony & a walk in wardrobe. -getting on & off the ship was fairly quick (apart from when they had to use tenders). - Izumi restaurant was great with fantastic service & food. It's important to note though that this is an extra charge to eat here - the daily compass put in each cabin was useful to find out about the activities for the following day - mini golf is good fun & you can play it as often as you please - casino was good fun & you can put on as little as $1 at a time - the places we went to were good overall - the gym was great & had good equipment. Ok so now onto the negatives: - of course with it being July the ship was full which we expected. However, there was loads of kids around & teenagers hanging around the stairs etc. - it was almost impossible to get a sunlounger no matter what time of day. There is an adults only swimming area however as over 16s are allowed in that area it was full of teenagers. - if you are lucky enough to get a sun lounger on the really hot days the pool was so busy you could barely move (not an exaggeration). - our room was lovely but the toilet had a horrible smell of urine & it was a little dated. We did inform our room attendant who tried to fix it but the smell was still there. - our room was really dusty, as in dust that had built up over months. We did inform our room attendant as I have asthma so he did try to fix this but there was still some dust around. - we went for a massage at the spa, I asked for firm pressure & came away with bruises all over my back. My wife was in for much longer than me because the spa worker was trying to sell her products for around 20mins. This put us off so did not return. - the excursions staff were quite rude (not evening giving eye contact at times) & seemed clueless about the range of excursions & locations included in the trip. - the big screen had a square not working the whole trip. They did cinema nights in the evening, including Jurassic Park. Great & we enjoyed it but they could have done with making it a bit more special with maybe a bar open & nibbles such as popcorn. It felt like they shoved on a film and that was it. - we went to the wine tasting event which we had booked before we left. It was pretty poor! More people turned up than they expected so it took about 30mins to set up. We got 4 glasses of wine & were quickly talked through each one. Basically they were trying to sell the wine. We got some cheese but even then they had run out of blue cheese. The actual wine tasting lasted about 15 mins even though it was scheduled for around 2 hours! - food Right ok so here is the thing, the food could quite quickly become repetitive but we varied were we ate in the evenings to try & avoid this. Windjammer - we only had lunch here 2 or 3 times & I found the food too salty for me so I stuck to bread when we ate there. Main dining room - breakfast was fine here for things such as eggs, bacon, eggs etc. Lunch - we had lunch here once & it was too salty for me plus we were not all that keen on sharing a table. Dinner - we went twice & it was nice each time. Chops grille Lovely steak here & food was nice overall. It does cost extra to eat here. Giovannes I really enjoyed the food I had here but my wife didn't enjoy hers. The service was average. Again it costs extra here. Izumi Great food & service, they also do nice cocktails. Again an extra cost applies here. Johnny Rockets It costs around $6 each for food here & you can order as much as you want. The burgers were really nice here, chips & onion rings were average. It's important to point out though that they like to sign and dance here so beaware! Room service We found this to be a hit or a miss. Breakfast time was ok but often food came cold. You are better to order through the TV as the paper orders can get lost or taken by teenagers which happened to us. We also had dinner from here when we were really tired & it was ok but not great. Cafe Promenade Food was ok but the same things every day! If you time it right you can get nice warm cookies. Drinks Well we didn't get a drinks package which was fine for us. It was a bit of a pain having to get glasses of water all the time but we got used to it easily enough. Cocktails were fine but most were pre-made which was a bit disappointing. The day we had to get tenders to villefrance was really frustrating as we had wait almost 3 hours to get off the ship which left little time to visit places. Overall we did enjoy ourselves & made the holiday our own but we were disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Average at best! As regular cruisers (diamond members) I was left deflated and fairly dissapointed after my recent holiday experience on explorer of the seas. Firstly space and seating was a HUGE issue, from struggling to find seats at ... Read More
Average at best! As regular cruisers (diamond members) I was left deflated and fairly dissapointed after my recent holiday experience on explorer of the seas. Firstly space and seating was a HUGE issue, from struggling to find seats at night in ANY bar no matter how early you tried. The rooms/seating and facilities realistically doesn't cater for the amount of passengers onboard) it appeared to be very understaffed in many areas where you would wait great lengths of time just to get one drink - frustrating as you can imagine! Trying to find a sunbed or somewhere to lay during the day was laughable! (No matter how early you got up) It was like sardines in a tin can for 14 days constantly battling to find a bed to the point where myself and some friends actually resorted to drastic measures and Spent the night sleeping on a sunbed,yes! sleeping on a sunbed in order to avoid the hassle of searching/fighting for one in the morning! We had also purchased the premium drinks package but a fair few times we were charged for our drinks which we found to be very sneaky and had it not been pointed out to us by Other cruisers we wouldn't have been as vigilant to check and have it corrected! Definitely not a rccl level of ship, or level of service that were used to from previous holidays! Had it not been for the fabulous friends and company that we met onboard I wouldn't have had half as good a time as we did and alike many others from our sailing I would not intend on sailing on this ship again in the future! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We recently sailed on the explorer 29/06 sailing from Southampton with stops including Villefranche, Palma and Toulon. Cabin We had room 1804 which is one of the new family panoramic ocean view rooms on deck 12. The room was ... Read More
We recently sailed on the explorer 29/06 sailing from Southampton with stops including Villefranche, Palma and Toulon. Cabin We had room 1804 which is one of the new family panoramic ocean view rooms on deck 12. The room was fabulous with wonderful views located at the very front of the ship. It was very spacious for a family of 4 with a separate sitting area and a TV that could be turned around to the bed or lounge area. There was a separate room with bunk beds which we used to store bags mainly and a shower room and a second separate toilet room as well. Our stateroom attendant kept the room immaculate which was some job given the 2 children and he made us 5 different towel animals across the cruise which the children loved. We did feel a lot of movement in this room especially on the initial few days and the last 2 days when we were travelling out of and in to Southampton but it didn't bother us and none of us felt sick. Kids club The kids club for the 7 year old was amazing. She wanted to go there all the time. The staff have so much energy and many evenings our daughter stayed for the late night party (after 10pm) and I would have to try and stay awake to pick her up! Baby/Toddler facilities There were only 2 negatives on the cruise and facilities for under 3s was one of them. There is no drop off nursery on the Explorer (despite the fact that for a significant time our cruise was advertised as having a nursery - this wasn't put in on the refit). There is also no toddler pool and I heard from other parents that their toddlers were asked to leave the main pools. We brought our own blow up pool which was an absolute must have. There were 2 areas we found suitable to sit with it - one near the showers under the big cinema screen as we could fill it up and empty it into the shower or the opposite side of the pools on the same deck (11) where there was a drain very near the pool entrance so we could fill it using the pool and then empty it in the drain. There is a room on deck 2 which has baby and toddler suitable toys and in the mornings (9.30-11.30) and in the late afternoon (4pm I think) there are sessions with a staff member such as painting and a bubble machine. The girls who did these sessions were great. We used this room a lot. It is located on the front of the ship and is quite near the bars and restaurants on deck 4 so late evening we would go for an hours play to burn off energy and on the way up stairs our daughter would fall asleep in her sling. We brought two toddler slings (Tula and Connecta) which were absolutely invaluable as great for getting her to sleep and moving around the busy ship at night and also made going on tours possible where taking a pushchair would not have worked. Deck 5 is very busy in the evening and it is much easier to get around with a sling rather than a pushchair. There was no where we were restricted to go to with children apart from after 10pm on Deck 14. All in all we found cruising on the Explorer fine with a small child but the facilities (nursery and pool) could obviously be better. Service We found the service absolutely excellent everywhere and I have no idea when other people comment that they had to wait for a drink. At certain times you did but no longer than you would on a typical Saturday night in a bar. We found that waiters continually came around the pool shouting bar service and this was a really easy way to get served. The staff in the Windjammer got to know us and continually offered help with plates etc. One waitress even sat with the baby while I went to get her food. My daughter clapped whenever she saw that partiuclar waitress. Food We ate in the MDR twice but found the menu limited and the food just ok. On our cruise the previous year (another cruise line) we had eaten in the MDR every night so this was a change for us. We ate mostly in the Windjammer where we found the selection and quality of food was excellent. The service/help with the baby was excellent there too. Eating there meant we had a lot of flexibility time wise and with choosing a variety of foods for the children. Using a sling meant that I could go up and get food with the baby. They always had a fresh roast for dinner which was very good quality. We found the breakfast there very good quality and plenty to choose from including cereal options, full cooked English style breakfast, and pancakes and waffles. We all put on a fair bit of weight! Johnny Rockets was excellent also and we ate there several times - again very suitable for families. We also ordered room service regularly and it was the best quality room service we have had on a cruise. The burgers and cooked chicken dish were particularly good. There were freestyle coke machines in the Windjammer and outside Promenade Cafe Deck 5 but we found that the drinks weren't very nice from them and instead asked for Cokes etc from the bar. They had a huge choice of flavours of drinks which initially I thought was great but drinks you chose tasted like a mix of ten different drinks! Entertainment We enjoyed the deck 5 entertainment - a parade on night one, a Brit party and a children's parade on the last evening. We also liked the Queen tribute act. We didn't see much other entertainment because of our toddler which again was unlike our experience the previous year on a ship with a night nursery. Tours We did the RCI Monte Carlo and Monaco tour at Villefranche and the Marbella tour at Malaga. We enjoyed both and the tour guides were excellent. At Palma we got a taxi to a beach resort. There were plenty of taxis outside and it cost about 20 euro each way. All in all we had an excellent cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
EXPLORER OF THE SEAS: Ship recently refitted and capacity increased by about 700 people. There was nowhere to sit at any bar after the late sitting dinner. Resorted to sitting on stairs along with other passenngers. Staff could not cope. ... Read More
EXPLORER OF THE SEAS: Ship recently refitted and capacity increased by about 700 people. There was nowhere to sit at any bar after the late sitting dinner. Resorted to sitting on stairs along with other passenngers. Staff could not cope. Constant queueing at all bars in the evening for a drink. Queued for breakfast due to lack of waiters. Sundeck absolutely packed to the gunnels with no space between loungers if you could get one. there was no chance of standing at the rail on the upper decks due to gross overcrowding. No implementing of removing towels from loungers. Had no help from deck staff as they were rarely around. Drinks horrendously expensive. we were told in writing that 15% would be added but then onboard 18% was added. This ship and the line were a blatetent milk cow. We were told that the issue was being addressed but nothing happened. Thought we would avoid the kids school hols but didnt reckon on the scottish holidays. Majority of passengers were from scotland with their children. When in spanish waters an extra 3% added to all purchases makind the add on for a drink at 21% when paying as you go. It seems drink packages didnt pay this. I have been on a few cruises but I will never go Royal Carribean again especially never on any of their big ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Having cruised a number of times before my wife and myself thought we would give Royal Caribbean a try. Well lets start with the plus points first embarkation and debarkation were excellent hardly spent anytime waiting well done to all ... Read More
Having cruised a number of times before my wife and myself thought we would give Royal Caribbean a try. Well lets start with the plus points first embarkation and debarkation were excellent hardly spent anytime waiting well done to all involved. Cabin was clean and tidy and always looked after well by our steward 'John'. All the bar staff and waiters were extremely polite and pleasant. Overall the ship was very nice. But now for the bad points: The food is distinctly average with Beef, Chicken and Sole seeming to be dished up in various guises throughout the cruise and a great many of the dishes were very, very salty. Surely it's best to let the diner decide whether to add salt or not! Entertainment started very nicely and plummeted during the later stages. two superb singers and a ventriloquist but during the second half a hypnotist, a Queen tribute band, who although very good hardly provide variety if you were not a fan of the band in the first place and the final night...... wait for it....lets go out with a bang ...... a Juggler!!!. As regarding house bands we had a very good reggae band (but everyday by the pool and once during the evening (i was completely reggaed out by the end of our cruise. The other band were very good but hardly provided anything for people over 40. ZZTop and Pink Floyd are really not bands to dance to and enjoy as background music. Altough the band did fleetingly play a better selection, they seemed to slip back to the tried and tested numbers most nights. The bars were packed most night, so if tyou wanted to catch the late show after a 8.30pm dinner sitting you did'nt come out until 11.30pm and the chance of getting a seat anywhere to enjoy a leisurely drink was completely out of the question. Now this may sound snobby but my idea of formal night is people dress up in either Dinner Jackets or jacket and tie for Men and evening dresses for ladies. My how standards have slipped we had three men wearing shorts during dinner on the nextdoor table. Surely they should have been requested to conform or dine elsewhere. Whilst on the subject of dining, surely designated areas are for dining unless there are selected events ie Poolside buffets. Why is it then that we have passengers slobbing about eating pizza, hot dogs whilst walking around decks. Not only that but depositing their left overs on plates scattered throughout the ship. Really how low can you go!!. Sun Loungers, well forget that, unless you wake at the crack of dawn there's very little chance of getting one. People are too lazy to return towels and they are just left on loungers. So you have to take a chance and remove them after observing them for twenty odd minutes and thats about the only way we managed to nab two for a period of just three days of a thirteen day cruise. Timing of events seem very strange, quizzes due to take place at 5pm etc very often started ten minutes late and were all over in 15 minutes. The activities staff were inept, surly and at times rude. An example was our one and only venture to bingo, where the lady caller appeared to be having a disagreement with another staff member during the calling the bingo, so much so another member replaced her so they could have their agument less public. The last night was farcical in the Sun Lounge which was packed with people trying to get a drink with only two people waiting and three behind the bar. Managed to get served just twice in two hours. Sorry if this sounds like a Victor Meldrew rant. But sorry Royal Caribbean we will not return until standards are raised, at present they are sinking as fast as the Titanic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We enjoyed our holiday but will not travel on this ship again. Nothing against the staff – they all worked very hard and we could not fault our stateroom attendant or waiters. But public space is really an issue on this ship. We had ... Read More
We enjoyed our holiday but will not travel on this ship again. Nothing against the staff – they all worked very hard and we could not fault our stateroom attendant or waiters. But public space is really an issue on this ship. We had a number of sea days for our cruise and finding a sun lounger on deck was difficult, if not impossible, at times. Yes – there are people who save loungers near the popular areas but there were times when we could not find a seat anywhere at all – even away from the pools. I put this down to two reasons: One being the apparent increase in staterooms – but also the “Flow-Rider”. Yes this is great fun for the four or five people using it but it is an area which could be used for a pool for young kids and their families. Instead everyone not using the “Flow-Rider” has to squash up into the remaining main pool areas. But, of course, the “Flow-Rider” is an extra source of income for Royal Caribbean – so I guess it will stay. Finding a seat in the bar areas was also a problem and standing room only in the Star Lounge was the norm. Not a seat to be found for some of the quizzes either. In short the public areas are overcrowded and this isn’t the sort of cruising I am interested in. We found ourselves simply going back to our stateroom on many occasions and I amused myself by writing a daily blog for my friends: Day One – Depart Southampton “General Boarding?” – “You address me like I am in the forces.” And so starts 13 nights of unfair and uncalled for observations of fellow passengers and petty whingeing about first world problems. But that is the bubble we are in. First cruise we have taken leaving the UK and it started with the usual safety drill. Standing in lines under specific lifeboats – eyeing up who you would be sharing yours with should the ship go down. Space for the line-up was tight “Move one step to your right” the crew member says “That ain’t going to happen” says I looking at the two passengers in mobility scooters next to me. “Come on – please move over to your right” repeats the crew member; not noticing the two scooters. “You heard what the lady said. Move!” I shout at the two passengers. They saw the funny side. Half an hour later we are ready to depart Southampton with “Poolside Proms”. A rather embarrassing affair where half a dozen Union Flags were handed out and “Rule Britannia”, “Jerusalem” and “God Save the Queen” were played over the speakers. It’s the sort of patriotic thing they would do in America – only here the announcer kept shouting over the top of the music. “The bar is open – get yourself a drink”. As the music stopped she shouted “For Queen and Country”. I am as patriotic as the next person but I don’t see what we are doing for Queen and Country – travelling on a ship registered in the Bahamas, paying bills in US dollars off for a holiday in the Med. Sandy tells me that nobody waves flags like the British. I watch for a while and ask what the hell she is on about. “You know” she says “we wave them like that … in time to the music”. I will be watching other nationalities waving their flags out of sync with the beat in the future. “The music is rather ‘English’” I comment while Jerusalem is playing “I have heard Scottish and Welsh accents”. A few minutes later Sandy replies “They are playing the Scottish anthem now” …. 500 Miles. We made our way down a few floors to get a cup of coffee – stopping to look at photos of actors in the stairwell. “Is that James Dean?” a woman says to her husband looking in my direction. “No” says I “but many women have made the same mistake over the years”. Free coffee and snacks at the Promenade Café. We are going to have to try to avoid this place. “Have you seen they have ‘Willy Wonka Pie’?” asks Sandy. “I’m not going to have that – too childish” I reply – tucking into a ‘cheesecake lollypop’. Basically a cheesecake filling coated in white chocolate – we will be challenged to avoid these every day. The usual “start of cruise” show this evening. Brits don’t get excited when someone mentions their home town … and only three people showed mild interest when bingo was mentioned. Knowing how much we love our bingo I take this as confirmation as Brits simply don’t “whoop” as much as Americans. We have “Anytime Dining” which I naively assumed would mean we could dine at any time. However it looks like we need to make a reservation – which we queued up to do. 8.45pm was the time agreed. “Line up at that time and we will get you seated as soon as possible” I am told. “Didn’t I just make a reservation for 8.45pm?” I question. “There are three thousand passengers on this ship” I am told with the confidence that this is an appropriate answer. I doubt I will sleep tonight trying to work out the logic. Day 2 – At Sea Woke up with a headache. Not through drinking – but down to CNN. Christianne Amanpour – does she ever talk at a reasonable level? She shouts at guests – even in the studio. Someone needs to have a word. More differences between an American cruise and a British one? The pub was packed last night. Every time I have walked passed tables have been full. This morning the breakfast buffet was ‘understated’. No waffles, French toast, pancakes etc. …more of a Premier Inn type buffet. Maybe because the Brits have lower expectations or maybe the cruise line knows what the Brits want. I wanted a waffle  Well – us Brits like pubs and chips. That became clear this lunchtime. A variety of food at the buffet but most plates consisted of chips. So perhaps the boat caters for what people want. We had our afternoon coffee and managed to avoid the ‘cheesecake lollypop’ – it’s the first day at sea. It is going to be a battle of wills. This evening showed another difference between a British and American cruise. A formal night. A few years ago we were in a lift when one American said in a self-satisfied manner to another who entered wearing a tuxedo “First cruise for you isn’t it … nobody wears a tuxedo on cruises anymore”. The guy looked a little downhearted. On the next floor another guy wearing a tuxedo got in “Thanks for raising the standards” I said to him. I think that made the first guy feel a little better. Tonight we sat in the pub (see – us Brits like pubs) and watched people walk by. The whole place had transformed – in the end we were the only ones sat there in shorts. DJ’s and suits were out in force – and women wore eveningwear. Quick fashion tip - call me old-fashioned but some tattoos don’t work as accessories for evening dresses. Please pay attention – especially if you are in your early twenties and currently working in Aberystwyth. Day 3 – Still at Sea This morning’s ship TV programme promised us clear sunshine and no cloud at all. Why were we watching it? – because it was raining so hard we couldn’t get a regular television channel. Wandered down to the Seventies Quiz – seventeen questions and no assessment criteria. Two marks for each question and a total of 34 points – highest score wins – revolutionary. Considering wrapping this up as a three day assessment workshop and selling it around the world. Big disappointment. Do they not know that there were genres other than disco in the seventies? We didn’t take part though as it took me most of the quiz to work out how I was going to be assessed. We have settled into a cruise routine – Eat, Sleep, Drink, Repeat. First port of call tomorrow is going to throw our schedule. Today’s fashion tip. Shirt not tucked in plus tie does not work. In all fairness it is probably a commendable attempt at tonight’s dress suggestion – Smart Casual. I sound like a fashion snob – but can hardly talk as I was sat there in my Primark shorts, t-shirt and M&S boat shoes. One of our favourite pastimes is hanging out around guest services trying to listen to the complaints from passengers. There is a noticeboard where you post special interest meetings. The usual “Friends of Bill W and Dorothy” (now that would be an interesting combined event) appear and I wanted to start posting some for my own amusement – “Alcoholics Anonymous – meet in the bar”, “Swingers at Sea – meet in the Star Ballroom” – I thought I could come up with one each day and then sit near the venue to see what happened. Sandy banned me from doing this. However I was delighted to see that someone had posted “R Soles and Friends” this afternoon. Perhaps if I ply her with a few glasses of Pinot Grigio she will see that this has legs. It has legs “Two desperate women. Good bell ringers. Meet in bar at 5pm”. I feel we have missed the boat on this one. “Seventies Night” – and much as I like seventies music we are subjected to the same dozen songs or so from the quiz night played over and over again. Finished the evening wandering into the Starlight Lounge – heard Boogie Wonderland being played for the umpteenth time and decided to call it a night. Day 4 – Gibraltar I found waffles! In the Windjammer Buffet! …. I had a full English. Maybe I am conditioned to have an English breakfast – maybe it is because the waffles, pancakes and French toast looked rather tired and sad. Possibly been sitting there for a while. But what I ate was good. Sandy went for fruit and managed to drop her bowl on the floor - the noise could be heard as far away as the Philippines according to our waiter. Actually I apologised to the waiter and told him my wife is always drawing attention to herself. More evidence it is a Brit boat? One man gave a little cheer as he walked past – and another commented “How are the juggling lessons coming on?” We also know it is a British cruise rather than American due to the number of people using the stairs. Normally we can go up and down several floors without being impeded in any way. However we are always giving way to people on this trip. There was even a guy making his way down on crutches yesterday – fair play to him. However we don’t have the other extreme either. The super athletes who spend their days in the gym or regularly jogging around the track. Us cruising Brits tend to be happy to be average – neither insisting on using the lift to take us up one floor nor spending our days becoming super fit. I have also yet to see that little circular patch just below the ear to fend off seasickness. That’s got to be an American thing. Gibraltar is Little England with ‘fish n chip’ shops, pubs, Marks & Spencers, post boxes and more red telephone kiosks than you ever see in England. England with the sun. We looked at the tours organised by the boat. USD$60 each to go to the top of the rock – we walked to the cable car – it is £12. Still too expensive for us so took photos of post boxes and telephone kiosks instead. Almost came a cropper when Sandy saw a couple of pairs of shoes she liked the look of – fortunately they didn’t have her size. So got away with just a couple of drinks in a pub so we could use their internet. Regular dining room this evening. Sandy had tart for dessert. “This is hard” she says. “Shall I get you a knife?” “No seriously this is REALLY hard” she says again forcing her spoon vertically into the tart. Well she got through and half of it, caked in vanilla ice cream, shot off her plate and straight down her dark blue top. Visit to our room to pick up a scarf for her to cover up before we went for our evening walk. Just a shame the bloke from this morning didn’t walk past to say “How’s the juggling lessons going?” I thoughtfully stepped in for him. Day 5 – Malaga, Spain. It’s overcast. We’ll go for a walk. Last night was the first of three ‘production shows’ – shows put on by the cruise singers and dancers “Fast Forward”. Watchable – but they did reprise some of the seventies hits from the day before. Time to move on: Please! We have already picked out our ‘eyes and teeth’ dancer. The girl who has been told ‘wide eyes and show your teeth at all times’. Once you spot her it really is difficult to watch anyone else. There is also the ‘strictly’ professional dance couple who I guess will be doing a solo show for us at some point. They were head and shoulders above the others but the bloke dances with his body in the shape of a toilet u-bend. I really can’t think of another way to describe it. We have a new pastime. Each evening at 10pm we are treated to some sort of game show in the Star Lounge. The first night was “Majority Rules” where you have to guess the most obvious answer – it is less fun than you think. And last night it was “Beat the rock” – where the first person to run forward and sit in the seat and name the artist and song – usually one of those we heard a dozen times the day before – wins 10 points (not one – ten! I guess to make it appear more exciting) for their side of the room. We were members of the Starboard Team – but we didn’t really take part – although I am pleased to say we were, by default, part of the winning side. I will probably get a certificate on the last night. Anyway there are two couples with young children and pushchairs parked on the dance floor (Well the pushchairs are parked). Both nights, when the games are on and also when the band beforehand is finishing, their young children are running around. It’s a bit like a wedding reception. Last night the parents also dominated the “Beat the rock” game – being just a couple of steps away from the chairs they jumped in and answered most of the questions while their children ran around and got in the way of anyone else trying to join in. The parents are completely oblivious to how the other guests are viewing this. 10pm and perhaps the kids should not be in that environment. Anyway Sandy and I will be popping along each evening at ten – just to watch how things progress. So – overcast – a walk along the seafront and we see our first ‘European sunbather’ – meaning topless or ‘top-free’ – as I think the politically correct expression is these days. Of course being Europe nobody takes the slightest bit of notice but it does remind me of the time on an American cruise where there were written warnings in the tour brochures and verbal presentations that we might see ‘European sunbathing’ in Saint Maarten (I’ve tried spelling that a number of times but it never looks right). We didn’t even know at the time what ‘European sunbathing’ was And we are from Europe. But then we didn’t know what English Muffins were before we got to America and I guess the French probably had the same issue with toast - but I digress. Anyway we felt we had been well and truly warned so it must be bad. However what ‘European sunbathing’ meant was ‘topless ladies’ – and what the ‘warning’ meant was “If you come on this tour you might – if you are lucky - see topless ladies ... wink wink.” It was a sales pitch. And you have never seen so many cruise passengers – some of whom would not consider walking further than the length of a buffet table - deciding, on that particular day, to take a two kilometre stroll up and down the beach – in Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts, baseball caps, sunglasses …and with a camera held at a jaunty perpendicular angle to the direction they were walking. Overcast… a walk back along the seafront discussing which public convenience I used last time we were here …. there is not a lot to do along the seafront. In fact there are only two public conveniences so that discussion did not last long. We just agreed to differ. Then horror of horrors – we saw some sort of fort/castle in the distance and I just knew that meant I was going to have to go in every room, up every rampart and take a photograph of the ship from every lookout tower. Basically – that is what you do in port when you are on a cruise. You get off the ship – walk a little way away and then take a photograph of the ship. Get back on the ship and then point to where you took the photograph and say “We were over there”. You can do the trip to the fort/castle on a cruise tour for the princely sum of USD49.75 each – admittedly it is a steep walk but not really a challenge for Sandy and I and we are hardly fitness fanatics. Entrance to both, what I now know to be, the Roman theatre/castle and fortress is Euro7.10 for the two of us. That is a saving of around USD90 - although we did not see the “19th century City Hall and Central Post Office”. Or we might have done but not realised. There is an old clock tower and I overheard one bloke say to another “Look at that old clock – and it’s tellin’ the right time n’all” I think he has watched Back to the Future too many times. Heather Watson - no never heard of her either before today – but it was down to her that we became embroiled in our first complaint. And we weren’t even complaining. We saw that she was playing Serena Williams later in the day and assumed she would be out in two sets. After an early evening meal we went for a wander and saw the game was being shown on the big outdoor screen and Watson was surprisingly beating Williams by 3 games to zero in the third set. So we settled down with about thirty other people to watch the end of the match. About fifteen minutes later, with the game as tight as it could be, they pull the plug on the game. There were a few huffs and puffs but being British no one actually complained. So Sandy and I wandered down to the casino to watch the inevitable loss. At one point one jovial crew member came over and said “Is it the good Williams sister? Mind you I wouldn’t want to meet either of them in a dark street.” Ho hum…. Banter! ….I guess. I said to Sandy let’s just mention that they ought to look at what is being shown before just stopping the feed. A bit of advice thought I. However the girl at guest services took it very seriously as a complaint – asking if I wanted to speak to technical management “No” – well I will pass it on to the Director of Activities and you can talk to him “No thank you. I am just making the suggestion because with the number of Scots on board if you were to do the same thing with Andy Murray you would make quite a lot of people very unhappy.” “I have the technical manager on the phone – he says there is a schedule to follow – I’ll just see what was on next”. “It’s a Katy Perry concert” I tell her “and I have nothing against Katy Perry” … at which point she started laughing. “No really I don’t dislike Katy Perry….” …. At this point I am wondering why I bothered – it was just a case of making a suggestion to Guest Services that on a British ship maybe they ought to look at who is playing on the screen before pulling the plug – and I end up discussing whether I like Katy Perry or not – I did not even know who Heather Watson was at the start of the day. The rest of the evening was quite uneventful – a very good ventriloquist who managed to choose the bloke sat on the left of Sandy and the couple to the right of me. Not the first time we have been avoided – I guess it is the look Sandy has on her face. Then just a quick wander along to the Star Lounge to check on the kids running around on the dance floor while the band are playing some Pink Floyd number. And so to bed – expecting to get a call from the Activities Director tomorrow. How to play this one? Try to explain that I was just making a suggestion, make out that I am a big Wimbledon fan or simply tell him the message got confused and that I was unhappy with the attitude of some of the other passengers because I was looking forward to the Katy Perry concert. Day 6 – At Sea It’s the 4th July – I think I will have French fries tonight in recognition of the pesky French contribution to American Independence. How fickle that their frites were renamed in some quarters as freedom fries in recent years. Let’s just let bygones be bygones and call them chips. Thought I’d wear a dark t-shirt today and on opening it out found it was my ‘Cheers’ one – I’ll save it for another day. A Brit wearing a Boston t-shirt on 4th July? I don’t think so. Phone call from the Activities Director – “As a result of your complaint, and looking at the schedule, we will no longer be showing evening films on the pool deck – it will be Wimbledon from now on.” Hmmm … not sure that was what we were suggesting but then again I have not seen more than a handful of people on deck for the evening films. I wonder if we could have stopped the seventies disco music. May have played our hand at the wrong time. Went for a walk this morning and looked through the window onto the bridge. I am sure that is our waiter driving the ship. There has been a development. The cruise TV presenters give us safety tips each day – such as hold on to the rail when going up and down stairs/steps (stairs inside – steps outside) and washing your hands every time you enter a restaurant “No sickie sickie on the big shippy shippy.” Today the advice is …. “Don’t let your young children run over the dance floor as they might get hurt.” We will be checking the Star Lounge at 10pm tonight … it’s the “Don’t forget the lyrics quiz.” Went for a cup of coffee this morning and got talking to a couple from Gloucester – my home city. Many years ago he was based at RAF Innsworth – which brought back memories of my Granny Smith (Yes – Smith is my mother’s maiden name). She worked at the Naafi in Innsworth and my Grampy Smith worked at Dowty Rotal. They could even recall Glevum Press in the Docks where my father worked fifty years ago – in the days when the printers had typesetters. Time moves on. Second boat we have been on with an ice rink. We saw the show today – again excellent. Must be one of the best shows on the seas. They even included Christmas songs with snow falling from the ceiling and the skaters wrapped up in winter fur – it’s about 32 degrees outside. 6pm was a gathering for Americans for Independence Day. We popped along for a few minutes to see what was going on. They sang the national anthem – and at the back of the room was… a huge …. apple pie  Quite a social day today – we got talking to another couple – our neighbours. I had previously seen him wearing “Adam and the Ants” and “Darkness” t-shirts so thought we might have something in common. Out neighbour has a tattoo of Adam Ant’s signature. Adam signed his arm earlier in the year. I’m just glad I didn’t get Gary Glitter to sign my arm - otherwise this blog would now be taking me twice as long to type. Due to our socializing we were late checking up on the kids in the Star Lounge and by the time we got there they were nowhere to be seen. I do hope they are OK. In fact we didn’t get back to our cabin …sorry ‘stateroom’ … until gone midnight. “Look at the time,” says Sandy. “There is no need to look at the time on a cruise.” I reply “We go to bed when we are tired and get up when we want to. We could even get up now and go to the night club if we wanted.” But by this time she was asleep. Time to trade her in for a younger model? I’ll sleep on it. Day 7 – Villefranche. France. It is hot, hot, hot. The word ‘Hot’ does not really do it justice. CNN warned about severe heat – it is that hot. The Brits are complaining about the heat – I am complaining our personal rain cloud has failed us. Still it is good to have a bit of a moan once in a while. Time for a positive thinking tip: We have a number of friends who tell us they would never do a cruise in a million years. I can understand that - ‘horses for courses’ it certainly isn’t for everyone. But when something which we think is worth moaning about occurs we simply ask “What would ***** say?” Try it next time you are on holiday. Think of friends who would really not want to be on the holiday with you and ask what they would say when things aren’t perfect - it brightens up the situation no end. So our main moan about this cruise is lack of space on decks during sea days. Finding a sun lounger can be difficult if not impossible at times – but we have our own balcony to revert to if necessary. The main reason for lack of sun loungers is people bagging them first thing in the morning with their towels. And the Brits cannot blame the Germans as I do not recall hearing any on this trip. No - the Brits are clearly as bad, if not worse, than any other nationality for hogging the chairs. And those who put their towel on a sun lounger and then disappear for three hours … why do they do that? How does someone justify to themselves that they can stop other people using sun loungers when they have no intention of using them for such a long period of time? Perhaps I need to take a look in the dictionary as next to the word ‘selfish’ would be dozens of photographs of these people. The cruise itinerary likes to imply that today we are in Nice. But Nice is a bus or train ride away – as is Monaco. However there is no need to go to either of those as Villefranche is perfectly adequate for our needs with a couple of small beaches, a market, cafes and bars. We are happy to get off, wander the streets and take a few photographs of the boat. Today there is a tender service – the first one on this cruise. This means we can’t walk off the ship. We are taken by ‘tenders’ or, more accurately in this case lifeboats, to land. It allows me to take pictures of Sandy stood in front of a lifeboat and say “Can I take a photograph of you with a tender behind?” We find a small bar which has free wifi and sit there during the F1 grand prix. There is rain in the UK – we are jealous even though my clothes are now as wet as if I had been in a rainfall. Back at the quay I take a photograph of Sandy and her tender behind – it never gets old  On returning to the boat we find a free sun lounger on deck – in fact there are many free sun loungers – it is that hot. Even with sunblock I don’t think most people could take more than an hour in direct sunlight. We don’t see the children in the Star Lounge for the ‘Battle of the sexes’ game this evening. The result of the battle is genuinely mistakenly called a draw but quite understandable as a total of four points are involved. The men should have been declared the overall stronger gender based on the number of balloons they put up a t-shirt. I decide not to complain and we wander down to watch the second show with the ‘S-bend and eyes and teeth’ dancers. It is pretty good. On the BBC news they are reporting Princess Charlotte’s christening – is she named after her grandfather? And so to bed – after 12:00 for the second night in a row. I decide not to suggest going to the night club. We have met a couple whose 24 year old son always goes to the night club. He stays there until 5am then has breakfast before going to bed at around 8am each morning. His parents could have just paid for one cabin – sorry stateroom – and used it in shifts. Day 8 - Provence. France. Drew the curtains this morning to see half a dozen battleships – we must be in a naval port. Then opened the window to hear reveille being played. I stood to attention on the balcony in my underwear – wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Today we are parked near Toulon. The choice is a twenty minute walk into the local town – or pay USD12 each to get a return tender to Toulon itself. Seeing as I did the ‘tender behind’ joke to death yesterday and that there is a fee for using the tender we decide to walk to the local town. Big mistake – nothing there. A little harbour with a few boats but business must be booming as all the shops shut between 1230pm and 3.30pm. Why else would you close when you have the potential of a few hundred cruise ship passengers looking for a cup of coffee and wifi? Completely uneventful walk in to town – on the way back Sandy was smelling flowers and smelled so hard the petal went up her nostril. Yep – that was the highlight. Andy Murray’s tennis game was shown on the big screen up on deck today. At least I know that I have done my bit to make sure they won’t cut into it. I don’t really watch tennis but I didn’t have much choice as it was on the big screen. Anyway it seems every time they ‘challenge’ a decision they simply show a cartoon confirming the original decision. Why bother challenging? The “Love and Marriage Game” tonight – a sort of ‘Mr. & Mrs.’ game – I don’t think they can use that title for copyright reasons. No – we didn’t take part but we did ask each other the questions. I know Sandy’s bra size better than she does….and apparently picking my toenails is my most annoying habit. I thought it was my most endearing. Day 9 – Palma de Mallorca. Spain. We had the buffet breakfast on Deck 3 today. When you arrive at the restaurant you are asked if you would be happy to share a table. I always reply “Only if you sit us with nice people.” And they did – with two very pleasant couples. One couple come from Bristol – where Sandy and I first met. I asked whereabouts and they said next to the M4/M5 junction. Then followed a typical British discussion between the two couples about transport links in the UK. I chipped in with “Isn’t that the junction with two roads over another? Did you know that was the first place in England where that happened?” I think both couples were suitably impressed and will probably share that nugget of information in future road themed conversations. Sandy and I are going to be working to a slightly different schedule today as we are in Palma de Mallorca until late. A quick visit to a wifi zone when we dock (exam results came out yesterday), back on ship for an early meal (no we are not going to pay for a meal on the island when we have paid for full board on the ship) and then a wander into town for the evening. I am thinking of wearing all white – not just the socks. I would not normally do this at home but I think I can get away with it here – an opportunity to show off the glow of my tan. I’ll remind Sandy that there is no need for a flash if she takes a photo. At home I have a drawer full of foreign coins and before we left I gave the Euros to Sandy for spending money this trip. Trouble is you can’t really take a big bag of coins with you when you go out. So Sandy is responsible for putting together a total of ten Euros in change for each of us. I expect the staff at the exit are starting to know us by the chinking of our pockets as we pass - we can be heard from a distance. Yesterday she paid for our two drinks with a mountain of bronze coins. We escaped the bar before the waiter collected it. Arriving in Palma de Mallorca we saw the pilot boat pull up alongside the ship. It is my understanding that the pilot is the guy who knows the local waters/tides and so helps guides the ship into the quayside. Might be useful to extend this practice to car parks at home. Especially those with multiple pillars. Why is it when you need a decent internet connection you can’t get one? McDonalds may not be the best place to eat or drink but at least you can get wifi – or so we thought. Two iced fruit smoothies, which we didn’t really need, Euro 4.40 paid for by Sandy with a fistful of coins - and the internet teased me by opening the background of a page I wanted to see. “This just isn’t happening.” Fifteen minutes later and I have yet to read the message I can clearly see in my inbox. We are just finishing our smoothies when there is a little bit of progress. “Best buy another couple of smoothies” I say to Sandy emptying my pocket of the shrapnel she has provided me with today. Twenty minutes later she returns with the drinks and the internet is not playing ball again. So we finish the second drink we didn’t want and wander along the street to a bar where we order yet another drink. We’re on, sorted, done and dusted in ten minutes – but then have to sit there finishing the third drink we didn’t need. We feel bloated for the rest of the day. This afternoon we bump into one of the couples we met at breakfast. “Morning breakfast people” I say loudly in their direction. They look startled, then recognise us and smile. I spend the next hour thinking about what I said. It didn’t make any sense whatsoever. “Morning breakfast people? What on earth did he mean?” I think I will just keep saying this whenever I see them. After the early evening meal on the ship we wander along to the cathedral we can see in the distance. Yippee! The estimated twenty minutes turn into more than half an hour. At one point I tell Sandy there is no need to go any further as “I can zoom in using the camera from here.” But oh no … we have to keep going. “Is this close enough?” I ask. “Is this the cathedral?” she questions looking directly at it. “There are two bloody nuns walking out of it – what more evidence do you need?” I ask caringly. We walk back looking at the private boats in the harbour and come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how big your boat is – someone else will always have a bigger boat. And that’s about as philosophical as I can get. Day 10 – At sea The newsletter today contains a reminder that we must not save sun loungers. If a sun lounger is not used for thirty minutes staff have been instructed to remove towels and personal items which may then be collected at the towel exchange. Personally I’d throw their personal items over the side. That would learn ‘em. Shared table for breakfast again this morning. Met a very nice couple from Wolverhampton which I thought was in the Black Country – apparently not. I asked them if they knew Bilston. “Oh yes. Now that is the Black Country. They have a different accent to us.” “How far is Bilston from Wolverhampton?” I ask. “About two and a half miles.” As with all guests at breakfast I wish them luck in finding a sun lounger on deck and they tell me of a woman they watched put towels on two loungers in the sun and on two loungers in the shade for her and her husband. They did not use the loungers in the shade all day. That woman will burn in hell. They also told me of a couple they saw put towels on sun loungers at 8am in the morning – they then went ashore, returned, had lunch and used the loungers for the first time at about 2pm. I hope I don’t have to share a lifeboat with any of these people should the ship go down. Remember these are Brits – not Germans who most Brits complain about. Still – first world problems I guess. There is the “Rob and Elizabeth Daily Morning Show” on the TV every day which is quickly becoming compulsive viewing for us. People hand in birthday requests and jokes – the type you get in Christmas crackers - and Rob and Elizabeth read them out. They answer questions about the ship and its operations. It’s a little like those Saturday morning kids shows but without the cartoons. I think I will compose a sun lounger related question for them today. After all it is a sea day and I have time on my hands. I will also include a joke for them. Sandy’s stumbling started early this morning. After ten days on board we came out of breakfast and ended up on the corridor on the wrong side of the ship. Not to worry – we thought we’d walk the length of the corridor and simply walk round to our side. Then – crashes of all crashes – Sandy had walked directly into a room service tray lying outside one of the stateroom doors. The contents of the tray went everywhere and people all along the corridor turned to see where all the commotion was coming from. I supportively pointed to myself and shook my head whilst pointing at Sandy who was kneeling on the ground trying to put everything back as it should have been. It’s arrived!!!! We knew it would. Laundry is notoriously expensive in hotels and on board ship but at some point in the cruise you always get a special “wash and fold” deal. I figured it would be in the last few days because most people would start thinking they would simply take their dirty laundry home with them. Not us – we have been waiting for this deal. We did discuss pricing on our walk yesterday – I first thought about $25 per bag and then changed it to $35 per bag. I asked Sandy for her estimate and she said $30. We did have a little fall out over this because I felt she was basing her guess on my initial estimates - I had inadvertently given her some guidance. Well the deal did not arrive last night and I must admit to having some slight doubts as to whether it would actually be happening. However, on opening the stateroom door this evening, there it was! And I let out a big “WooHoo!” Sandy told me that was a little excessive and told me to be quiet. The cost is $30 per bag but I consider the bet null and void. So tomorrow Sandy has two responsibilities. The first is to distribute Euro 10 for each of us in coins – and the second is to get as many clothes as possible into the laundry bag. I guess it is a little bit like the “battle of the sexes” game but using dirty washing instead of balloons. Comedy hypnotist tonight followed by a 50s & 60s party. I’m not sure if that refers to the era or the age of the passengers. Most 50 & 60 year olds watched a few people dance while some young children played tag on the dance floor. You’ve got to question why the parents think this is appropriate. Anyway we thought we would watch and see how things developed but the activities staff gently moved them off the floor. Bad news – the ‘wash and fold’ deal only applies to undies, socks, t-shirts and pyjamas. I have now downgraded my “WooHoo!” to “Woo!” At least Sandy will have no problem getting everything into the bag tomorrow morning. Day 11 – Cadiz. Spain. Well Elizabeth and Rob did not read out my sun lounger suggestion on the morning show. I guess they deemed it inappropriate. Oh well. They did read out my joke. Sandy managed to get all our washing into one laundry bag quite easily – result! But when we called our stateroom guy he told us we needed to use a different bag for the ‘wash and fold’ deal. He then gave us a much smaller bag. Sandy still managed to get everything in it but let’s say one more sock would have been one sock too many. Well it confirms the ‘battle of the sexes’ result. Oooo – a bit of gossip! I’ll get to that in a while but I have an idea for those seeking a different stag or hen weekend. ‘Wifi hunting in Cadiz.’ You have a beer at each bar which advertises wifi and you stop when you manage to make an internet connection. Four bars and four beers it took us. I’m amazed we found our way back to the ship. And I have absolutely no idea what message I wrote for Jodell’s birthday when we finally managed to log on. Alcohol can play a major part on cruises – especially if the country you are visiting has lax laws. I remember seeing a mother twice guiding her two teenage boys back onto ship after visiting islands in the Caribbean. The boat – which left from Florida - had a legal drinking age of 21 years. The lads looked to be about 17 years old and had clearly been hitting the beach bars where they weren’t checked for ID. We sat with the Mum for breakfast one day and I mentioned we had seen her bringing the boys back on board. She told us that was only the half the story – she had to twice release them from the boat’s containing cell. Anyway, in the fourth bar, we got talking to a group from another ship and they told us that we must be on a lively boat. Apparently two families had been ordered off our ship at the previous port. They had the all-inclusive drinks package and had made the most of it to the point where the package was taken from them. This didn’t stop the group as they carried on drinking, giving alcohol to their underage kids and then fighting between themselves. How is it people on another ship hear about these things and we didn’t? I mentioned it to our neighbour and he confirmed he’d seen a couple of families getting off with their baggage. Another difference between boarding at a US port and a UK port is the organised cruise ship tours. We find a much harder sell on US ships – with a heavy ‘fear factor’ built in. “Well if you don’t come with us the local vehicles might not be roadworthy and the local companies might not have the appropriate insurance.” and “If you do something independently and you are late then the ship will have left. If you use one of our trips we will be in contact and we’ll make sure the ship waits for you.” There are ship tours on this one as well but the selling is more along the lines of “If you’d like to come with us then this is what we offer – but you could do it yourself by taking a local bus at the end of the quay.” No ‘fear factor’ involved. We don’t tend to take the ship tours. The last one I did was to visit Montego Bay – Sandy went elsewhere. $36 seemed reasonable for to me but first we went to a golf club “to look at the lovely view.” Then we went for a drive through a ‘nice neighbourhood’ to see American ex-pat houses followed by a drive through the centre on to a fenced-off bar where we could buy drinks and watch a DJ encouraging people to dance to the birdie song. I asked the guide when we would see Montego Bay and she said we already had. I told her I wanted to have a wander round the centre and not join in with Agadoo. She said I would have to talk with her supervisor who asked why I was unhappy with the tour. I made it very clear it was not the guide’s fault but the tour did say Montego Bay. He told me I would have to sign a waiver to leave the tour. So I sat chatting with the guide and asked her if she would get into trouble if I left the tour and clearly she would. I asked her about her job – she sometimes had two tours a week depending on when cruises came in. It wasn’t great but unemployment was high and so she could easily be replaced. Obviously I couldn’t leave the tour after hearing that but I did learn a lot more about Jamaica from her as we chatted. And, true-to-form, we were lucky enough to have some extra time to do a bit of shopping at a fenced off shopping area. I doubt the locals saw much of the profits from there. The rest of the tour party seemed quite happy and even ecstatic when they were allowed off the bus for ten minutes to get a photo in the ‘Seignior Frog’ bar. I vowed I would never do a cruise organised tour again. Tonight we had a Queen tribute act who were surprisingly good – followed by the “Adult Scavenger Hunt” in the Star Lounge Creche where an added complication was for the adults to try to avoid the meandering children. Day 12 – At sea We are on a pink boat. It started off as a white boat but after the sunshine we have had it is now definitely a pink boat. It’s something I noticed the moment we got on the ship and I have been thinking whether I should mention this or not. I think I will but I am not sure where this is leading and it may come out all wrong. We’ll see – I’ll give it a go. Joining cruise ships in Florida and New Orleans my impression was that the passengers were made up of roughly 40% white, 40% black and 20% Hispanic or Asian origin. On this ship, leaving the UK, I would say the passengers are 99% white. With the make up of the crew this means we have an ‘upstairs-downstairs’ situation. White people are sunning themselves on deck – people of colour are working downstairs. White people are staying in the staterooms – people of colour are tidying up after us. White people are enjoying their meals – people of colour are waiting on us. I cannot recall being in a situation where this has been so clear-cut and I have to admit to feeling a little uncomfortable with it at times. Hmmm … now I know if I go to some countries and stay in hotels then the chances are the people working there are mainly local employees on local wages. But you usually find guests staying in the hotel are a mix of nationalities – including those from that country. But on this ship the passengers are almost all white. Why is that? I don’t know. I do know that I am very lucky to be able to sit upstairs on deck but this is purely due to an accident of birth and the ability to do some basic maths. I also know that in a different life I could be the guy cleaning the staterooms for seven or eight months in a row just to make ends meet – relying on gratuities from guests. When you book a cruise gratuities (tips) are not included. You get the opportunity to pre-pay gratuities – which we do. Some passengers prefer to wait until the end of the cruise and give gratuities to those who they feel deserve it. We give a little extra to our stateroom guy and the waiters on the last day. I’m not looking for a medal. Cruising out of Miami a couple of years ago, on the last evening, I was watching the long line at Guest Services. I commented to a friend who worked on the ship “I don’t think I would spend my last evening sorting out my accounts.” He replied “Oh no. Most of these people have not handed over a credit card – they put cash on their account when they boarded. They have just found that gratuities have been added to their bill and have no money left. They are getting the gratuities removed so they can continue buying drinks from the bar.” These people are not worthy of clearing the dirt from between the toes of those who hog the sun loungers. Too harsh? Day 13 – At sea It’s our final full day and the main topic of conversation is packing styles. We tend to pack one suitcase each on the way out. I know, I know – it makes more sense to spread your clothes across the two cases in case one doesn’t arrive but it is what we do. However, on our return; ‘washing and shoes in one case – everything else in the other’. The lady we were talking to from Gloucester does ‘clean on the bottom – dirty on top’. When she gets home “I just open the suitcase and the top clothes go straight into the laundry.” Makes sense. Our next door neighbour has a ‘wear and pack’ system. When he has worn an outfit he packs it straight away. By the last day he has little packing to do. Now you might think that this is the level of conversation all the time. And you wouldn’t be far wrong. But some people seem more than happy to tell us all their business even before we have finished our orange juice at breakfast. I now know the property and mortgage situations of a number of fellow guests. However I thought one woman jumped the gun a little too quickly when she told us she had forgotten to take her tablet. Turns out she was referring to going to use wifi at a cafe the previous day. Oh how we chuckled … and I wandered off to pick up some muesli. Later on Sandy told me that while I was away the woman told her all about the three operations she had had on her back in recent months. But this was not the most inappropriate meal time conversation. On arriving at dinner one evening we were met by a Jamaican waitress who asked us if we’d had a good day. “Oh yes” we replied “but it has been really hot.” “Have you been sweating?” she asked. “It’s good to sweat you know. It means the body is working well. Healthy people are always sweating. So if you have been sweating all day it means that you are healthy. Oh yes – I like to sweat” And it continued like this for about five minutes. I ordered the soup. As mentioned before - we have friends who would never go on a cruise. And quite rightly so – it wouldn’t be for them. But you meet the opposite on ship. The extremists – cruising fundamentalists – those that would consider no other holiday than getting on a cruise ship. These people can name every ship and cruise they have ever been on – and they can run into 30+ - it’s an obsession. You also meet people who only cruise Royal Caribbean. They proudly display their Diamond Club cards and tell you about the free drinks they get and the receptions they have in the Diamond Lounge. As always – horses for courses. This morning at breakfast we were again asked whether we were happy to share a table and for once I didn’t say “Only if they are nice” – Sandy had told me that this was almost as old as the ‘tender behind’ joke. Well we sat at a table for ten and after a cursory nod of ‘good morning’ the family of four at the other end of the table kept themselves to themselves. It then became one of those situations when you try to look in different directions rather than make eye contact. Which is always awkward when you are sat facing each other. At the end of breakfast they had no choice but to acknowledge us as they passed and they had the gall to smile and say goodbye as though we had just spent an enjoyable time together. The last day of a cruise is always a little bit of an anti-climax. We already have our disembarkation luggage tags and know where our holding area is for tomorrow morning. You can take your cases off yourself or have them offloaded. We’re having ours offloaded so we can go and have breakfast without lugging luggage around. But that means our cases need to be packed and outside our room this evening. Hence the feeling that we are already at the end of the trip. Mind you it doesn’t help that we are returning to Southampton – the weather has not really played ball with us for the last couple of days. Departing the UK may be convenient and it has been great not having all the announcements in several languages or having language-neutral entertainment but if you board in Rome or Barcelona, for example, you are more likely to get the sun for the whole of the cruise. Swings and roundabouts … No we don’t have either of those on ship. With two sea days and slightly overcast weather we tend to have a coffee and a wander at various intervals. Tat is for sale on the main promenade. Mugs, scarves, cruise line t-shirts – those things the Spanish wave to keep themselves cool - and the stands are doing a roaring trade. Is there something in the human psyche that means it becomes necessary to purchase something if you are bored? Sandy’s shopping for the whole of the two weeks comes to USD10 – and that was above budget. One of the straps on her bag was starting to fray and probably wouldn’t have lasted the cruise. So she bought a tat bag for ten dollars. I accepted this but then the guy put the bag into a plastic bag. We could have just asked him for a plastic bag. That would have done the job. So, in short, a ten dollar overspend for the fortnight. Puts a bit of a dampener on the holiday really. Everybody loves a parade!! I don’t. And that is not me being a sourpuss. I’m not talking about when a team has won a trophy and people come out to cheer them. I have no problem with that. It’s the parades where one group of people dress up in costumes and walk along waving at another group of people standing watching who, in turn, are expected to wave back. I find it awkward. What would someone looking down on us think? It doesn’t make sense. How about having all those in costume stand at the sides with the rest of us marching up the middle? We could still wave to each other. Oh the awkwardness of a man dressed in a pirate’s outfit waving to me – and me having to wave back at him …..purely because he is dressed as a pirate. We’d consider it madness if this were to happen when he was in his civvies. Putting on a pirate costume is a game changer and it has bothered me for years. However this embarrassment is amplified further on a cruise. It must be in the entertainment staff contract that the work involves dressing up and taking part in the parade. So the talented musicians in the band can be seen walking backwards and forwards in various costumes – and boy do some look uncomfortable. It must be the longest fifteen minutes of the cruise for them – it certainly is for me. They wave at me – I wave back at them. They feel awkward – I feel awkward. But together we somehow manage to get through it. Our ‘wash and fold’ laundry has been returned – and they had to use two bags! Compliments to Sandy for managing to get our washing in one. You are forgiven the tat bag. Day 14 – Southampton Disembarkation. Couldn’t have been easier. Must be the quickest we have ever had. Breakfast on ship, collect luggage, short taxi drive to the station and sat on a train – in less than an hour. Pretty impressive. So that is the end. Thoroughly enjoyed every second of the cruise and would do it all again. Already booked up for next year but it is going to be very different. This trip I have simply sat back and been an observer – next year will be full involvement, Jamie will make sure of that . So no time for blogging. …. took the train to Woking where we connected to the Heathrow bus. The coach arrived and passengers got off. One of the woman then realised she had been traveling on the wrong one and had found herself at the wrong destination. She told the driver she thought the coach was going elsewhere. The following exchange took place in front of all the passengers waiting to board. Driver: “Well I did announce we were going to Woking and the sign on the front of the bus says Woking. So really you are a Silly Billy. What are you?” The passenger stays quiet. Driver: “You are a Silly Billy. What are you?” Passenger: “I am a Silly Billy.” The driver then gets into the bus and we hear him radio to the main office. “I’ve told her she is a Silly Billy but is there anything we can do?” It’s good to be back in England. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was my 4th cruise with RCI but first on voyage class ship and first from Southampton I have previously done all of the freedom class ships either Caribbean or transatlantic so this was going to be a bit different. We travelled ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise with RCI but first on voyage class ship and first from Southampton I have previously done all of the freedom class ships either Caribbean or transatlantic so this was going to be a bit different. We travelled as a group of 8 friends 2 of whom where new to cruising and 1 new to RCI I had convinced them to book the cruise based on my past experience as thought they would really enjoy it and I'm really disappointed with how it went as they don't have the same impression of cruising I first did and after this cruise I'm unsure take newbies will book again. I had read a few bad reviews about explorer prior to dry dock so was a bit nervous about this one however we went with an open mind and where going to make the most of things. The ship was full to capacity with over 3500 guests this was the biggest issue for the first time I experienced no sun beds being available no seating in lounge areas. I appreciate there where 8 of us but even if there was 2 or 4 we still struggled to find sun beds and seating in lounge areas after dinner, we did end up lying on the floor on towels on the top deck one day there was loads of room here it lack of sun beds. it appears they have made a lot of the public areas a lot smaller to accommodate more rooms and speciality restaurants, the other issue was that prior to sailing the ship wasn't selling too great so they where offering all sorts of packages and incentives therefore almost everyone had some sort of drinks package which meant all bars and lounges in the evening where full and you waited a while for drinks and had to stand I have never experienced it to this level before. We opted for My time dining however on night 1 they where struggling to accommodate us due to size of table as they only had tables up to 6 we did eventually get a table which was 2 long 4s together and wasn't ideal they then told us that they where going to struggle with our request each night and timings and asked if we would move to late seating 8.30 on deck 4 they did give us a nice round table on the balcony we agreed to this as thought would be much better and I must say our dining experience was fantastic from our waiters to bar service to the food it was my best dining experience to date the food was delicious and tasty my only grips was that because we went out of southamprom and majority of guests where British there was a lot of British dishes pies stews casserole cottage pie etc not what I want to eat when go on a cruise but there where plenty of other choices. Overall our dining experience in dining room I would rate 10 out of 10however due to us now been 8.30 meant we didn't finish till around 10.30 each night meaning we missed a lot of the evening entertainment game shows etc they did have the late show in theatre some nights at 10:45 which was good as helped with crowd control and the earlier bar seating situation however this was only 4 times or so the rest was 7 or 9 so when we finished dinner each evening all the lounges bars where packed we missed most of entertainment etc. this was a big let down and has to be re looked at. We found ourselves going to dizzys most evenings to try get a seat but even this was often packed dizzys on deck 14 is now where they hold the disco another let down I loved the discos on freedom class ships across the 2 floors but on explorer they have done away with this and it's now rooms and specialty restaurant dizzy a is nice venue but doesn't have the same disco atmosphere to me. We did eat in windjammer a few days for lunch whilst by pool etc it was really crowded but we did find seats eventually the food was a bit repetitive and again had the British dishes but for us it served a purpose and was fine when possible we would have dinner or lunch in main dining room as didn't have seating issue etc. Due to the above I have left feeling slightly disappointed we however did still have an awesome time and made the most of it we met some amazing staff and had some great service however there where a lot of new staff and a lot of miserable and rude staff which I have never came across before. For me this ship was too small for the amount of people they had onboard and I was let down due to lack of space I'm sailing RCI again on bigger ships and hope my experience will be better and back to what I expect unfortunately our new cruisers are not convinced as yet. Everything else was fine or as expected but for me I don't think I'll sail out of Southampton again or try opt for anything smaller than freedom class ships. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Having been on many different cruise lines over the past 10 years we purposely chose Royal Caribbean because we were taking our 13 month Grandson and RCI brochure States the Explorer of the Seas if a family freindly ship. Therefore we ... Read More
Having been on many different cruise lines over the past 10 years we purposely chose Royal Caribbean because we were taking our 13 month Grandson and RCI brochure States the Explorer of the Seas if a family freindly ship. Therefore we expected a child freindly environment, how wrong was we. Babies/toddlers can only use the pools if they are 100% toilet trained they are not allowed to wear swimming nappies which are a lot more hygienic.Other cruise ships we have be on have had a separate pool and play area where toddlers can play. There is a play room on deck Two which is dull on dingy. Not certain if RCI have recently fitted more cabins on the Explorer but there did not seem to be a lot of space on the pool deck and also we found it difficult to get a seat in any of bar areas The menu's in the main restaurant was adequate but did not differ a great deal each night. On the upside the staff was excellent and always was willing to help and the ship was always clean. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Explorer of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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