4 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Middle East Cruise Reviews

We have been "Loyal to Royal" for over 20 years. This was the worst cruise of our life. Cruise Director poor at best. When describing Suez Canal all that was said was " sand and more sand, lots of sand". Would have ... Read More
We have been "Loyal to Royal" for over 20 years. This was the worst cruise of our life. Cruise Director poor at best. When describing Suez Canal all that was said was " sand and more sand, lots of sand". Would have been nice to have commentary while transiting canal but we got nothing. Our toilet kept flushing on its own every night except the last 3 nights. Overflowed once. Food in dining room poor institutionalized . One item on dinner menu was "Vegetarian chicken chunks" Guest lecturer on aviation was great however there was no place to sit except on floor or stand until 4th presentation after complaints to change to larger room. After declaring level 2 nuro virus outbreak you think they would change serving procedures in buffet but that didn't happen. We won't be booking RCCL anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
THIS cruise was certainly a weird one, perhaps memorable more for the things that went wrong than right. It was our first run-out with Royal Caribbean (although our 13th cruise in all) unimaginatively entitled “14-night Suez Canal ... Read More
THIS cruise was certainly a weird one, perhaps memorable more for the things that went wrong than right. It was our first run-out with Royal Caribbean (although our 13th cruise in all) unimaginatively entitled “14-night Suez Canal Cruise on Explorer of the Seas” from October 9 to 23, 2015. What first made it attractive to us was the visit to Israel and an excursion to Jerusalem, a trip down the Suez Canal and a return to the fabled Jordanian Rose Red City of Petra. The ship had undergone a multi-million dollar refit in April to install a FlowRider surf simulator, new restaurants, new bars, new engine, virtual balcony cabins overlooking the Royal Promenade but with pictures of the sea, and refurbishment of all public areas and cabins. It began peacefully in sunny Barcelona, then ran into poor weather for most of two cruising days before reaching the port of Souda in Crete. The following day we were told our excursion to Jerusalem had been cancelled because of the violence and political unrest. The captain took the decision, soon backed up by Royal Caribbean Miami Headquarters. It was a sensible course of action. Everyone who had booked the trip immediately had their money refunded, a day’s free Internet (don’t laugh, it was expensive), and a one-off payment of $150 per cabin. And we duly set sail a day early for Port Said. So far not too good. But things improved with the stunning passage, leading the convoy through the Suez Canal. We had deliberately chosen a Starboard balcony. What a difference! It was a very impressive, interesting few hours. And why not? In August 2014, construction began to expand and widen the Ballah Bypass, for 35 km (22 miles), costing $8.4 billion, to speed the canal's transit time. Funding was arranged by issuing interest-bearing investment certificates exclusively to Egyptian entities and individuals, and the target amount was collected over eight working days. The expansion is expected to double the capacity of the Suez Canal from 49 to 97 ships a day. The "New Suez Canal", as the expansion was named, was opened with great fanfare in a ceremony on 6 August, 2015. After entering the Red Sea and the end of the canal, we changed course for Aqaba, arriving next morning for the visit to the Petra, of Indiana Jones fame (just jesting). It was our intention to hire a horse and carriage for the journey both ways through the Siq but it was soon established we would have to wait anything up to an hour. So we chose to walk the whole six miles round trip. Another glimpse of the fabled Treasury (Al Kazneh) was worth it but those who had not been before were completely misled by being informed that this magnificent highlight was all there was. They were not told by the courier of the amphitheatre, the vast temples built into the rock faces and various other masterpieces down the whole three miles the other side of the Treasury. Wonder why? After Aqaba, there was nothing but six days of cruising. But they passed pretty quickly with all the activities on the ship. And, of course, there was always the threat of an attack from Somalian pirates to pique interest. The ship took adequate precautions, certain areas were blacked out and all cabin curtains closed at night and “technical equipment” was taken on board from a small boat. There was considerable conjecture that these were guns and people who could use them. It was all rather to different to our last trip through the Suez Canal into the same “piratical waters” in 2009 on the late, and lamented by many … Ocean Village Two where we undertook serious pirate drill, the ship was sheathed in barbed wire and we had HMS Cornwall and attendant helicopter for company. This time, the “technical equipment” was later dropped off in Muscat, Oman. But before this the captain had also dropped his clanger, cheerfully announcing that the ship would be docking in Dubai on October 24. This set alarm bells ringing, since most people were catching flights to various parts of the world on October 23. There were immediate reassurances, and several more throughout the day, that “someone” had made a mistake and we would, after all, dock in Dubai on the 23rd. Captain Kjetil gallantly made a public apology for his error the following day. Well done, sir. Highlights: Most of the entertainment was typical cruise fare, good production shows and other lively acts. Variable music in various bars, particularly in the Star Lounge where the Top Notch, a band from the Philippines, performed most nights for dancing. Cherry Mae Fernandez, who lived briefly in Portsmouth, is their lead singer and if there is better one on any cruise ship we certainly haven’t heard her. The ice-skating show was excellent and spectacular, the new FlowRiders area provided joyful spectator sport at the rear of the ship as well as an ideal place for dolphin watching. The cabins were spacious, well cared for and it was sunshine all the way after the initial gloom. Amusing diversions: A buxom woman of Northern English descent (alright, so are we!) charged her way into the lift on the final morning, using an enormous suitcase as a battering ram, bruising people in the process, and then proceeding to insult “every American onboard the ship” in fluent and colourful language. A pathetic library without books. Oh, sorry, there were half a dozen in Swedish. A large and bustling casino where we actually managed to win a fistful of dollars. Could have done with a few dollars more. All in all, an interesting and enjoyable 14-night experience … which almost became 15. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
It has been on my bucket list for years to sail thru the Suez Canal and my husband and I decided to book on Explorer of the Seas sailing from Barcelona. Embarkation was fairly swift and our balcony cabin was excellent. It was kept very ... Read More
It has been on my bucket list for years to sail thru the Suez Canal and my husband and I decided to book on Explorer of the Seas sailing from Barcelona. Embarkation was fairly swift and our balcony cabin was excellent. It was kept very clean & tidy by our Cabin Steward (Jose). We opted for My Time Dining and had no problems booking our desired time for dinner in the dining room. We alternated between the dining room one night and the buffet the next. Food in both was excellent and an amazing variety in the Windjammer at the buffet. Service in both was first class. It was my husband's "special" birthday whilst we were on the cruise, so that particular evening, we dined at Giovanni's Italian Restaurant. Again, the food was excellent, but the service we received from Dante, our Waiter was amazing. He was so friendly - nothing was too much trouble for him and he certainly helped us have a memorable night. A lovely dessert in the form of a birthday cake was delivered to the table for hubby's b/day. We didn't have any problems finding seats at the bars for drinks or in the shows (as advised by some people in previous reviews). The only disgruntles I would like to point out are: 1. There were not enough activities during the day to partake in apart from sports or bingo. 2. It would have been preferable for more movies to be shown during the day/evening. When the few were shown, the quality of the picture on the screen was dreadful - very dark and difficult to make out the picture etc. 3. With the ship going thru the Suez Canal, it would have been the perfect opportunity for the ships company to have lectures on this landmark giving passengers an overview of its history. Also a commentary whilst passing thru sections of the canal would have been helpful. Even a pamphlet delivered to cabins wouldn't have gone astray. 4. Most other cruise companies give passengers a printed log of their entire cruise on the last day - but unfortunately, this was not forthcoming from Royal Caribbean. In regards to ports of call, Chania, Crete was lovely with an interesting market. Due to the problems in Israel, the shipping company decided not dock at Ashdod. This was disappointing, however, understandable. Decided not to go to Petra, due to a leg injury, so hired a private driver who took us around Aquaba. Drove to the border and showed us the city in depth. Well worth a visit. Apart from the few points above, it was an enjoyable and interesting cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Positives Friendly and on the whole, helpful staff No corkage fee for any wine you bring to the restaurant. Very spacious room, (But we paid a premium for a Junior Suite) Very generous shipboard credit given in lieu of not ... Read More
Positives Friendly and on the whole, helpful staff No corkage fee for any wine you bring to the restaurant. Very spacious room, (But we paid a premium for a Junior Suite) Very generous shipboard credit given in lieu of not being able to stop at a port due to security reasons. I have to say Royal Caribbean was not for me. I am used to, and prefer Cunard. I found there was very little to do on the ship (other than sports related) and spent a lot of time in my cabin, the entertainment during the day was predominantly Bingo or the Pub Quiz, or worse still the Art Auction. Most of the other ‘entertainment’ revolved around the selling of the jewelry or the health spa. The evening shows were poor. The Ice show was VERY good, however in our 14 day cruise, you only get to see ONE show in that whole time. The ship appeals to many American’s therefore expect lots of “Whoop Whoops’ at regular intervals. There are no fresh flowers on the ship, and no florist to buy your own flowers for the room. The buffet was of very poor quality, and there are only plastic plates for food. I found the ship very elitist, there were so many exclusive areas and benefits for repeat guests RCL care very much about repeat clients which is great, but not at the cost of the other guests. The alcohol prices are ridiculous $16 for cocktails and $10 for a glass of cheap wine, $8 for a beer. There was a daily special cocktail for ‘only’ $8 (plus service charge of 18%) where you got to keep the plastic glass it came in. The new clients are obviously subsidising the free alcohol for the repeat guests. Don’t expect any canopies, or even bowls of crisps or nuts with your drinks, you get nothing of the sort. In The specialty Japanese restaurant beware of the $9 a glass for their cheapest wine; they pour this into the smallest wine glass I have ever seen, more a sherry than a wine glass. The repeat guests are allowed free alcohol from 5pm until 8pm, you will see them queuing outside their exclusive rooms around the ship from 5pm, and then from 8pm carrying as many glasses of wine they can in their hands to take to the restaurants after. This lead to many tipsy, and even drunk guests every evening. The ‘Specialty’ restaurants: Giovanni’s was absolutely terrible, how they even have the nerve to charge $25 per person is outrageous. They claim to be ‘Fine dining’ they serve Lamb chops with no finger bowl, and Ossobuco with no marrow scoop, (not such a problem, but don't pretend to be fine dining if you are not) The water glasses there are plastic. The cheapest bottle of white wine was $42 The maître D sat on his computer all evening, and not once did he come round to any of the guests and ask how the food was. The food was mediocre to say the best. The funniest part was when the sweet trolley came around, I could see there was no Tiramisu left in the bowl, and I wanted to try some, so I asked the waiter for some, and he literally just scraped the bowl of the cream that was left in the inside of the bowl onto my plate. The Japanese restaurant was good, (although watch for the wine prices). Chops restaurant was by far the best on the ship. (Although it is very popular with the ships staff also, as it was mainly staff and their family/friends eating in there) The bathtub in our room was blocked and after reporting it 3 times, it still took 5 days for anyone to repair it. I felt sorry for our maid who had to empty it each night after we used it. A light bulb was not working in our room and was never replaced. A bottle of water cost $6 (plus of course the 18% service charge) for 1 liter in the room. No chocolates on pillows at night. Just a towel animal made by the maid. (Although to her credit she did stop making them when we asked her too) No slippers or bathrobes in the cabin, even in the Junior Suite. Apparently you have to request them and then you get one only if one is available. They are allocated from a certain membership level upwards, regardless of the class of cabin. Internet was the worst ever. IF you were lucky enough to get online, forget trying to use Facebook, or any Google searches or websites, AOL would not even load, thankfully we only needed the internet for work emails, it struggled, but most days it managed to download our emails. The cost of the Internet was $280 for the cruise. Many people complained and the desk were very good at refunding anyone that asked, they are obviously used to it. Along with the next day's agenda, there are no daily newspapers given at night, just the sales pitch newsletter. There is NOWHERE to sit on the ship inside, if you are lucky enough to find somewhere, do not expect it to be peaceful. Music, (most of it loud) is pumped out everywhere on the ship. The coffee is the most disgusting you will find anywhere thankfully there is a Starbucks on board where you can purchase coffee. Read Less
Sail Date October 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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