2,082 Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We are C&A members, and we've sailed with RC over 10 times. So by no means we are "rookies". Granted this was a charter cruise, but we expected the service to be RC quality. Boy were we wrong. There is an extreme lack ... Read More
We are C&A members, and we've sailed with RC over 10 times. So by no means we are "rookies". Granted this was a charter cruise, but we expected the service to be RC quality. Boy were we wrong. There is an extreme lack of personnel in the general public area. Starting with the Windjammer, the food was mediocre at its best. There were no personnel going around tables to offer drinks from the bar. With the drinking package, one is given a refillable cup, which RC expects one to carry it at all times. That cup has a chip on the bottom, and it allows the person (in theory) to get their drinks from a Coca Cola machine. Well, the problem is that none of the machines were working properly. If one was lucky enough to find a machine that actually dispensed the drinks, it usually was out of most of the drinks, or didn't have ice, or in the middle of the refill would just show a message on the screen saying the machine was out of whatever drink you were serving yourself. As for the midnight snack at the Windjammer, they only serve cold hot dogs and greasy hamburgers that looked like they had been made 3 days ago. Only a small section of the Windjammer would be open at a time, so the lines were absurd. As for the main dining hall, I was not allowed to enter because I had arrived 30 minutes after the dinning time had begun. I had no idea the dinning hall was totally strict with the hours. When we did make it on time, the food was mediocre. How can you mess up a T-bone? It even tasted weird! The cabin was ok, it was an inside cabin with a huge screen that showed the outside of the ship like if we had a balcony. What a waste of resources! The darn thing didn't always work, and honestly, I could have done without the screen. As for the itinerary, I understand it was a charter cruise. But we were in port less than 5 hours. That meant that most of the shore excursions were cancelled without giving alternatives. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We stayed overnight in a hotel in Southampton then got a taxi to the city terminal for 11am. As D+ loyalty we got priority security and check in and were on the ship within 20 minutes. We called into the Diamond Lounge for snacks and ... Read More
We stayed overnight in a hotel in Southampton then got a taxi to the city terminal for 11am. As D+ loyalty we got priority security and check in and were on the ship within 20 minutes. We called into the Diamond Lounge for snacks and a hot drink as windjammer wasn't open. Our balcony cabin was ready by 1pm and 30 minutes later our cases turned up so we unpacked and went for lunch. We used our D+ BOGO and went to Chops Grill first night and Giovanni's the second night. The other 4 nights we went to MTD and our waiters Russel and Bradey were excellent. Pre-dinner most nights we went to the Concierge Lounge where the service was excellent. We visited 3 ports. Vigo- Spain.Nice port 10 minutes walk up a hill got us to a long pedestrian street of shops including Zara and Mango. Gijon-Spain.This was a 20 minutes free shuttle ride into town.There was a nice promenade plus a long street of shops including Zara and Mango Le-Havre-France.There was a massive queue for the €5 return shuttle with estimated 45 minutes wait. We got a taxi instead to the docks shopping centre for only €8 which took around 10 minutes. We enjoyed our cruise and the ship looked in excellent condition. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We found the staff very helpful polite and couldn’t do enough for you. The food was remarkable quality Choice was outstanding. Restaurant staff couldn’t do enough for you. We found that our cabin attendant was absolutely ... Read More
We found the staff very helpful polite and couldn’t do enough for you. The food was remarkable quality Choice was outstanding. Restaurant staff couldn’t do enough for you. We found that our cabin attendant was absolutely fabulous outstanding in all aspects of offers and help and suggestions he made.Entertainment we found enjoyable some nights were absolutely outstanding still couldn’t fault it. We were on the ship on the 2019/10/05 for 6 days. It was our first cruise and we thoroughly had a fantastic time we sailed from Southampton we had two stops in Spain one in France back to Southampton thoroughly enjoyed ourselves to the point is we have booked another cruise with Royal Caribbean on the jewel of the sea in Dubai in March next year. We just like to say well done Royal Caribbean explorer of the sea for all your hard work in making our cruise special Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Having had a brilliant cruise on Navigator last year, we booked to do the same itinerary with friends from Scotland. Our 19th cruise - and 8th with R.C. but what a huge disappointment - so much has changed. The admin staff were ... Read More
Having had a brilliant cruise on Navigator last year, we booked to do the same itinerary with friends from Scotland. Our 19th cruise - and 8th with R.C. but what a huge disappointment - so much has changed. The admin staff were 'polite' to the point of rudeness. The ship was tired and dull - downright grubby in places. Mirrors in dining room had a film of grease over them. No real sparkle to this ship. It may be going in for refit - but there was no excuse for poor cleaning. All the luxury elements were missing, no flowers on dining room table - in fact no diners!! Our complete section had empty tables around us - the food was tepid, insipid and uninspiring. Waiting staff were excellent - doing their best under the circumstances. The head chef spent more time apologising to guests than he did in the kitchen. Conclusion - they were trying to get you to spend more in the speciality dining ! Forget the windjammer - crammed to capacity due to guests not using dining room. Our jnr suite - excellent space - but we had to ask for the floor to be cleaned in the second week - no sign of a hoover and carpet getting thicker every day. Glass tables in bars were grubby. Drinks waiters friendly - but then they were getting regular tips to remember us. The changed the itinerary dropping Genoa before we even sailed - due to overcrowding - did they not book their slot over a year ago?? the replacement port was skipped due to the non-appearing Hurricane. Lisbon was skipped - and they substituted it with an overnight stay in Le Havre. Of all the ports they could have gone to why this ferry port with nothing of interest?? They did not even lay on shuttle buses to get to town. Over 3,000 people on board, many old and challenged - the queue for the port bus was over one hour long. the 25 minute walk - was more like 40 mins. They did manage however to book coaches for an overpriced trip into Paris. They even took coaches to Rouen for a trip - WHY French health official had declared the place an health issue due to huge chemical fire. Toxic soot on everything, questions over air quality and a ban on eating fruit and veg grown there and the milk had to be thrown away - yet RC thought it would be a great idea to take people to visit it. How desperate for profit was that. Very poor entertainment Cleary they are floundering in the expanding cruise market and have lost their edge. Our worst cruise out of 19 others !! Very poor value for money and disappointing to say the least -- Royal Caribbean dont even bother responding to correspondence outlining issues. Staff refused to provide a letter for insurance company stating port missed and the reason. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We sailed from Southampton and because we are Elite status on Celebrity, we are Diamond on Royal. This meant that we had priority boarding. We were soon on the ship, but had to go to the Windjammer for lunch as our room was not yet ready. ... Read More
We sailed from Southampton and because we are Elite status on Celebrity, we are Diamond on Royal. This meant that we had priority boarding. We were soon on the ship, but had to go to the Windjammer for lunch as our room was not yet ready. I missed the welcome drink that we are given on embarkation by Celebrity. The room was ready just after 1.15. We were in 7314, which was starboard side. I was delighted to see that there was no lifeboat blocking our view. We unpacked our trolley bags and it was already obvious that storage space was going to be tight, no overhead locker as we have been used to on the Celebrity S class ships. Our main cases had not turned up by the time we went to Muster. We went in good time, so that we could get a seat. Not so on Royal, you queue up on an outside deck like school children waiting to go into class. The Captain made an announcement at the end of the proceedings and had to be prompted by someone as to which ship he was on. In fact we were led away as he was part way through his announcement. Really? As 5 pm was not far away, we went up on to deck 11 for Sail Away, which was delayed, so we enquired as to the whereabouts of the Diamond Lounge, so we could avail ourselves of the free drinks. These were constantly filled up and this remained so throughout the cruise. In fact we were one week into the cruise before we realised that we could ask for bottled water during Diamond hours. A fantastic perk for me as I use it to boil for my early morning cup of tea. We had booked Anytime dining and I had pre arranged 7 pm as our dining time. We were able to use our 3 free drinks loaded on to our card in the dining room until 20.30. A fantastic perk. We were seated at the same table every night except the first, as I am Dairy Intolerant, so this makes it easier for the waiter. Handy really looked after at table 321A. After our meal we found a seat in the Starlight Lounge, where we would spend 2 hours listening to Perry Grant. This was the one and only time that we were able to get a seat, as many passengers were still in the Theatre. We listened to him playing for 2 hours, but then I was weary of him asking guests the same questions, Do you have walk in wardrobes, do you have Formica in your kitchen, what colour is it etc.etc. We returned to our cabin to find that our cases had at last been delivered, but we left the unpacking until the next morning. I could certainly have done with the delivery being before the guaranteed 8 pm. We ate breakfasts in the Sapphire dining room on Deck 4 as it was waiter service. On the first morning we asked to be seated in the Diamond area. I was so pleased that we did this, as someone from our Roll Call group was also seated with us. We ‘hit it off’ and came across each other multiple times. We saw each other at the Meet & Mingle, where I was lucky enough to win the second raffle prize, which was a drinks container. Our new friend asked the CD why the ship was overbooked; they had been asked to give up their cabin by Royal, but as they had come over from Spain for the cruise and had an actual cabin, Royal told them they were OK to travel. Apparently there were 500 less guests than the previous week, which had still been the school holidays, where families had shared cabins. This week, most travellers were couples, and Royal had booked too many Guarantee cabins and I suspect not many guests had requested Royal Up ( we were still being sent e mails just one week before the cruise inviting us to apply). One feature of this cruise was the number of Alpha calls, ambulances met the ship at every port, even when the cruise ended someone fell down the escalators and had to be taken to hospital. We enjoyed the evening entertainment. The Barricade Boys, and Beatles Celebration were outstanding. The Starlight Lounge was overfull every night, so I was pleased that Perry Grant was invited to perform in 2 shows on stage, We also saw 2 Ice shows, one especially for Diamond members and Seasons which was performed for all guests. On the final evening the Guest Choir performed at 9 am in the Star Lounge. We just managed to get there on time, which was a good job, as my husband and our new friends had spent every Sea day rehearsing in Dizzy’s at lunch time. We were lucky with the weather, even the Bay if Biscay was calm and too soon we were back in Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have sailed several times with the royal carribean and normally I love my cruise - however the last cruise I had in August, will sadly probably be the last cruise I choose with Royal Carribean - the staff as always were perfect and ... Read More
We have sailed several times with the royal carribean and normally I love my cruise - however the last cruise I had in August, will sadly probably be the last cruise I choose with Royal Carribean - the staff as always were perfect and could not do enough to make our holiday special - however we had an unbelievable number of teens on our cruise who congregated each evening in level 8 - my floor - particularly near the lift area - so I was constantly feeling intimidated each time I used the lift - so much so that I opted to use the stairs - I had teens running up and down corridors late at night and once it was as late as 3.30 am - I did ring security on several occasions and in all fairness they came and solved the problem ...on that night - but it would be exactly the same on every night - annoyingly even on the last night they woke me at 1am - and as I was leaving the ship just after 7am to drive hundreds of miles I wasn’t happy at all - there was no monitoring of the corridors at all - I understand the shop is due for a refurb - which had I known I would probably have booked another ship as it looked tatty and needing paintwork in several places The food as always was incredible plenty of choice and fantastic On our return I did email customer services re our noisy holiday and was told I should have rang reception - which I did - no other help whatsoever - they didn’t seem interested whatsoever that I had saved all year for a holiday to be disturbed every single night and reluctant to use the lifts I personally will prob not ever be booking with RC again - not just because it was simply too noisy (I do have four children if my own so I am not anti children) but also the attitude I had from customer services Sadly it falls far short of the holiday I saved hard for - I love cruise ships so i’ll prob try another company next year Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I was asked to accompany a friend and this was my first ever cruise. It was the best experience ever, From start to finish the whole experience was effortless. No queuing to board or disembark. Very calm and professional service ... Read More
I was asked to accompany a friend and this was my first ever cruise. It was the best experience ever, From start to finish the whole experience was effortless. No queuing to board or disembark. Very calm and professional service throughout. I did visit the gym once( to look around!) very well equipped but did not use it as I was relaxing but lots of people did. I was fortunate enough to see dolphins and whales!! Food was amazing, so much variety and all freshly prepared with so much choice all day long. I was a little disappointed with the amount of children running wild in the evenings unsupervised but it was the last week of the summer holidays.I do think young children should be with adults on such a luxury holiday not pulling phones off walls and playing in the lifts but that’s down to the parents. I won’t get the email to ask for my review about waiting staff as my friend booked it. I just wanted to mention Handi and komang gave the best service I have ever come across. Their attention to detail was above and beyond first class. Nothing was too much trouble for them. They truely deserve a mention as they made meal times an absolute pleasure. I hope 100% that I meet those young men again. An absolute asset to the ships crew. Thankyou Handi And Komamg for your service, friendship and entertainment. I am a bit of a sun worshipper so didn’t really use the day time activities but there was something going on all day every day. Evening shows were a must see. Some really good some not so good but everyone’s tastes are different. What I wasn’t really bothered about some were laughing there socks off so each to there own. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have cruised 3 times with Royal Caribbean and decided we shall not ever travel again in their ships. Grubby worn and extremely lacking of any luxury fixtures or fittings. The chairs in the Stsr Lounge were extremely worn torn and shabby ... Read More
We have cruised 3 times with Royal Caribbean and decided we shall not ever travel again in their ships. Grubby worn and extremely lacking of any luxury fixtures or fittings. The chairs in the Stsr Lounge were extremely worn torn and shabby and some of the rest rooms left a lot to be desired..,. Broken door handles and fixtures missing....if you miss dinner and attempt to eat in the Winjammer it closed st 9pm do we were left to eat pizza at the small cafe on the promenade which was heaving with very loud teenagers. Great trip for families but some parents are oblivious to the antics of their offspring and we witnessed a good fight between some youngsters who were throwing ice cream at each other covering walls and floors on deck 11....bar staff were excellent as were the casino staff but the lack of quality isnd detail of cabins was very disappointing. we Are planning a cruise next spring and shall definitely be joining Celebrity again....maybe a little more expensive but extremely superior quality.... regards. Lynda Guy Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have just returned from a 13 day cruise from Southampton to Spain, Lisbon, France. Travelled in 2 cabins, myself and my husband in one and our 2 teenage boys in the other. The embarkation and disembarkation was a dream. We parked at ... Read More
We have just returned from a 13 day cruise from Southampton to Spain, Lisbon, France. Travelled in 2 cabins, myself and my husband in one and our 2 teenage boys in the other. The embarkation and disembarkation was a dream. We parked at the port, left the cases by the car and they were delivered to our cabin a couple of hours later. We drove from Manchester and were sat in the bar at 12.30pm enjoying our holiday without any airports. I would recommend carrying off your own luggage if you can - the luggage collection area was manic. In terms of the ship itself, I was a bit concerned about some of the negative reviews but we all loved it. OK there may be room for improvement in some areas but honestly if I didn't know the ship was being refurbished next year I wouldn't have noticed. It is in good condition and there are plenty of nice bars and good sun decks. Overall I thought there was a great atmosphere and a great mix of people onboard. Cabins were basic but fine and the cabin stewards worked super hard and cabin was always spotless - could not fault it. Plus the beds were very comfy - have never slept so well in my life! The dining was good. We did buffet for breakfast and lunch and the selections were vast and always delicious. The MDR was also good and we had 2 great waitors taking care of us. The food wasn't always amazing but honestly can't complain when they are serving that many people with that many food choices. Some nights the food was outstanding. We dined in Izumi which was truly amazing, so much so that we went twice. Definately worth the cost. Also Giovannis table was nice and a pleasant change from the MDR. Bars were great. Perry Grant in the Schooners bar literally made our holiday - he was hilarious and he packed the place out every night - fantastic. We had the drinks pacakge which was expensive at £41 per day each but was worth it when we worked out what we would have spent. The service in the bars was great and was never without a drink. Entertainment was a bit average but it is a personal choice of course and we were happy to watch Perry everynight (or the guitar player in Crown and Kettle). The ice show was good but some of the others not so good. The ports varied from great to poor but we expected that before we went and we had good weather which helped. The pool decks were good - generally very busy in areas but there were a couple of quieter spots where a sunbed could always be found. Loved the music and general atmosphere around the pools.Drinks flowing too and lots of waitors around. The teenaged boys enjoyed their holiday as the cruise allowed them more freedom than a typical holiday so they spent a lot of time with their friends and in the arcade. Some of the newer ships perhaps have more fancy entertainment but they enjoyed it. Overall we had a great holiday - the ship is great and the staff were excellent without exception. We would definately travel with RCI again (have only previously taken a P&O cruise which had a more "stuffy" atmosphere which didn't suit us as well). Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise as it was sailing to a number of tick box locations. The embarkation process was amongst the easiest of all, after 8 previous cruises, we are big fans of cruise embarkation, this was excellent. We made our way to our ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was sailing to a number of tick box locations. The embarkation process was amongst the easiest of all, after 8 previous cruises, we are big fans of cruise embarkation, this was excellent. We made our way to our cabin 7204 - Ocean view, very clean and as we took our own phone chargers it didn’t matter that the only part of the cabin that didn’t work was the hub socket. We have now had cabins at the stern previously and chose a front facing cabin. Our first two week cruise, we took clothes to fit this, however we believe the wardrobe wasn’t big enough, perhaps during the next refit this could be addressed without losing too much. After checking out and being pleased with our cabin, as is our normal practice we look at the restaurant and where we were to spend our evening meal. We had informed Royal Caribbean of our request for early dining and a table for two. As far as we were concerned this was agreed however on reaching our table we were to be sat at a table for eight. Speaking to the chap with the laptop, we were told, “we decide table seating, not Royal Caribbean “, as we were an early sitting, he advised us to eat at 2000, when a two seat table would have been arranged. At 2000, we returned to the restaurant and were dealt with by embarrassed staff, who could not do enough for us. We ended our meal with the promise that our table for the next meal was a two seater table at 1800. This was confirmed with a note posted to our cabin. The following night we went to our nominated table at our nominated time and unfortunately another couple were sat having ordered their meal. Further embarrassment all around amongst the staff, eventually we had to be in the restaurant at 1745, we could then eat at the same table (for two) for the remainder of the cruise. On our return home I contacted Royal Caribbean to inform them and received the following reply “We have received your correspondence regarding the table issue. We apologize that it did not work out as you said it has in the past. When you request a table for two that is exactly what it is a request its not a guaranty”. (It would be impolite to alter the spelling) the evenings entertainment on day one was a make shift performance to introduce everyone to the guests, day two the entertainment on the first sea day was a Beatles tribute band, excellent they were to, standing ovation The entertainment was a series of guest artists appearing nightly, including Mick Miller, who was quite funny in the 70’s, 40 years later, not so! Visiting male singer, female singer, a juggler, a hypnotist, a magician all of whom were simple fare passing the time until the next days visit. The scenery of a Baltic cruise is exceptional unfortunately 50% is during the night, but it must be said the ports and shore excursions were second to none, however all when booked on the ship were very expensive due in main to the rubbish exchange rate between the dollar and the pound. We needed to book the shore excursion in St Petersburg to enable a visa to be covered for the trip. Otherwise normally we do not book onboard excursions, these were very expensive, what we did though was book the hop on, hop off buses for $18 each. Visiting Oslo, Copenhagen, Tallin, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Skagen, Stavanger, all superb places to visit, though the majority were not suitable for wheelchair users as explained in the ships daily post, still ignored however, particularly on the cobbles of St Petersburg, it was painful to watch the struggles of pushing or being pushed on the treacherous paths. The entertainment team (not singers or dancers) tried very hard to make the cruise enjoyable with lots of quizzes, these were in the main very difficult. They ran the bingo, very expensive at $56 for two pages of four and two dabbers. The session we attended was a very long session for one house which was $500. We think there were four singers in the entertainment team, they were brilliant but only put on four shows in the fortnight we were on our cruise, the team of dancers were equally talented but also only gave the four shows. Further entertainment was provided by the Wild boys, again brilliant and also another comedian who was up to date and funny Speaking to other passengers who had sailed with Royal Caribbean they agreed the ship was the worst they had been on, it was our first Royal Caribbean cruise and yes it will most probably our last. A shame, a very good crew, a very funny Cruise Director but the first weeks food was bland, the second weeks food was better. All in all if this was our first cruise we would not be upset, but after nine cruises, it was no where near the best one. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Just returned from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas Northern Europe and Russia cruise. THIS IS A FULL REVIEW. Explorer is 20 years old and smaller but otherwise identical layout to Freedom and Independence of the Seas, ... Read More
Just returned from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas Northern Europe and Russia cruise. THIS IS A FULL REVIEW. Explorer is 20 years old and smaller but otherwise identical layout to Freedom and Independence of the Seas, sharing the same (but smaller) Deck 5 central shopping mall idea, Schooners Bar, triple-floor Sapphire Dining Rooms, Windjammer buffet, ice rink, FlowRider and Dizzys/Sky Bar etc. The August cruise from Southampton to Northern Europe was perfectly pleasant. Oslo, Copenhagen, Tallin, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Skagen (Denmark) and Stavanger (Norway) and the weather was kind, but lazing in the sun on the main deck was possible on one day out of 14, although I spotted several people, probably from Newcastle on Tyne, out there in their bikinis in Force 8 winds! This is an easy cruise to access all the cities visited. All ports were quayside docking and all within easy walking distance of the city centres (Helsinki and Stockholm a couple of miles away but with cheap public transport from the quayside). Don’t fall for the cruise-line’s nonsense of buying their organised trips or paying an extortionate $40 for their own local shuttles - every city had cheap (typically $3 per trip or $10 for a 24 hour ticket covering all busses, trams, water taxis and metros) and regular public transport always right from the quayside. We organised our own tours through local operators, but in cities like Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Tallinn you can walk everywhere. In every case, local tours were 50% cheaper than the cruise line’s official tour, and usually better. In Skagen we just walked but a friend rented a car for $35 for the day and visited everything there was to see - more than any of the organised tours. In Stavanger we booked a 3 hour fjord cruise with Rödne Tours from a booth right next to the cruise terminal for $40 each when we arrived, but I’d recommend pre-booking in case there’s more than one cruise ship in port. In St Petersburg we booked a 2 day tour with TJ Tours just 5 days before arriving and had a great experience with our own guide and a comfortable Mercedes minibus, all meals and water included, visiting more locations and for longer than the best available cruise-line tour for half the price ($250 each). You must book with an official Russian tour operator to get your necessary temporary Russian visa - you can’t visit St. Petersburg unaccompanied (well, not officially) but it’s as simple as booking online with a tour operator such as TJTours, SPB or Alla Tours. We found many fellow Americans were scared stiff of Russia, thinking the “Reds” might not like them. Well, that’s simply not the case. They are lovely! The guests on this cruise were 60-70% British. Some Americans and Australians for whom this was usually one half of their European cruising (the other half being a Mediterranean cruise, but not always with RCI). The Brits were a mix of classes, lots of blue collar families but nice, friendly and honest in the way Brits usually are. A couple of dozen feral kids under 10 running around, living in the elevators with no parents or ship security enforcing some manners. A public keel hauling of the worst offender would soon restore discipline (this is a joke, btw). . The negatives on this trip were all on board the ship. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean several times a few years ago, these are the noticeable differences – a general decline in standards whilst RCI try even harder to screw every last penny out of their guests: - Sapphire Dining Room - food still ok but menus not quite as varied as before and some dishes simply not up to scratch. Service definitely slower and poorer than we’ve experienced on any other cruise or cruiseline. One night we waited 30 minutes for our order to be taken. Another couple next to us waited 90 minutes for their main course. Lots of complaints heard about this. The dining rooms seem to have more tables crammed in and they’ve dispensed with the nightly “Showtime” singalong by the waiters. Coffee and liqueurs used to be offered automatically, now you have to ask. No chocolate mints anymore. MyTime Dining is a shambles. Dress codes are not enforced at all - families in tee shirts and shorts - even on Formal Night. This is not what I pay my cruise bucks for. If diners want to dress in shorts, send them to the Windjammer. There IS a choice! Hey, Royal Caribbean - stop this race to the bottom and restore some semblance of style to your ships. - Bars. There seem to be fewer waiters going round taking orders. Best bar for cocktails is still Schooner. Dizzy’s on the 14th floor has a good atmosphere (but the air con is always too cold). Some evenings it’s taken over by a “silent” disco, which actually means drunken guests singing the chorus of two different songs out of tune at the top of their voices. Silent it is not! Why on earth they can’t hold this in one of the disco clubs is beyond me. Drink prices noticeably up. $6-10 for a beer, ordinary branded spirits $10-15 and wine at $11-16 a glass. Cocktails typically $12 and up. - On board sales bargains - e.g. watches and jewellery. Quality and variety on offer is poor and prices are the same as high street. The rest of the goods on offer was tourist tat, overpriced by 50% compared to identical tourist tat in each port. On board bargains used to be one of the joys of cruising. It isn’t any longer. Art and overpriced jewellery auctions did zero business. I never understand how they make money, but this cruise full of savvy Brits wasn’t going to part them from their money. - Windjammer Buffet. A glorious spectacle of excess. Food quality is awfully variable, from awful to variable yet never excellent. If you want to watch fat people getting even fatter, pushing and vying to see who can pile their plates highest and yet still leave enough waste food to feed New York’s entire homeless community, then this is the best free entertainment venue on the entire ship! The number of electric buggies plus the constant feeding frenzy was like that scene out of Wally...... Not offendin’ anyone, just sayin’.... - Theatre Entertainment. The in house ‘orchestra’ is a great bunch of talented musicians tied to performing holiday camp-standard routines. The in-house song and dance reviews were nothing special, in fact highly avoidable. A couple of guest bands were excellent, though - a Beatles tribute band and The Wild Boys in particular were very good. A visiting West End singer, magician and a hypnotist who were all pretty mundane. I fell asleep during the hypnotist act. No idea why. - Round the Ship entertainment. There’s a talented solo guitarist playing a repertoire of 30 almost recognisable pop hits in a vaguely classical style. He looks tired and bored, but go and ask him to play something decent, like Tarrega or Rodriguez, and he perks up! The House Band is OK, best when they are doing live karaoke. Lead vocalist loves herself but the drummer is the better singer. The reggae band are very good. There’s a very camp Liberace clone who knows his downmarket audience to a Tee! Straight from Phoenix Nights! Truly awful....unless you like that kind of thing. - The usual selection of half hour games and quizzes, presented in a generally lacklustre way, always in a hurry, formulaic and rushed. Too few staff? - Casino. Never more than 1/4 full. The Brits obviously don’t gamble. The ship did nothing to entice them in, so each night it was the same 50 American faces playing the slots and a handful of tables. At least half the croupiers looked dead or asleep. They could have jumped ship for two weeks and no one would have noticed. A missed opportunity. - Cruise Director. Every other Cruise Director we’ve had has been the life and soul of the ship - always about, saying hello, geeing people up. Not this one. Known as “Hello Clo”. Been in the business 27 years, apparently. Never saw her round the ship saying hello to passengers, never saw her on the gangplank, only on-stage introducing the acts. Something missing here. - Photographs. Still expensive but with many more photographers and backdrops. The old style of printing out thousands of photos on paper for you to peruse has been replaced with a dreadful touch screen system. The staff said it was more popular but I doubt it. - State Room Stewards. Great, as ever. These people work the hardest on the ship and deserve the biggest tips. - On Sea Days the ship was heaving with people because it was too cold out on deck. 3,500 bored passengers wandering round inside an already crowded ship, all looking for something to do. You would think the Entertainment staff would make a bit more effort and lay on extra entertainments when it’s too increment to go outside, but no. Nada. Nothing. This, above all else, was the weakest element of the cruise. The Ship. 20 years old and looking its age. It had a refit in 2015 but there are a lot of defects. Lifts out of action, PA systems on their last legs, cutlery in the dining rooms old and knackered, large viewing windows which had gone opaque, furniture a bit tatty. Lots of maintenance engineers fixing things discretely. Many staff just seem to be tired, going through the motions. Even the Captain’s daily announcement was delivered in a flat, monotonic voice. The only time he sounded enthused was in Stockholm, probably his home town. I heard that Explorer of the Seas is due another refit to take away some public areas and add more cabins, so this ship is likely to get even more crowded. I hope the staff-guest ratio increases but somehow I doubt it. Would I cruise with Explorer of the Seas again? No. Has my opinion of a Royal Caribbean been tarnished? Yes. Cruise destinations. 9/10 Ship. 5/10 Entertainment. 4/10 Dining. 6/10 Steward. 10/10. Value for Money. 7/10 Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I'd heard about Royal Carribean and knew it had a good reputation. This was my first cruise. We had a great time! The stops were excellent;even Skagen where there wasn't too much to see, was a nice small town. The excursion ... Read More
I'd heard about Royal Carribean and knew it had a good reputation. This was my first cruise. We had a great time! The stops were excellent;even Skagen where there wasn't too much to see, was a nice small town. The excursion to St Petersburg was good, even though it was more expensive than some other providers.The 2 guides were full of information. It would have been better to get to the Hermitage early as it was just too crowded at 2pm. Ship entertainment was excellent.The shows were all good, and we LOVED Perry Grant who played alomost every evening for 3 hours in the Schooner bar. He's very very funny. We saw an excellent ice show in another hall one afternoon, and that was great. The staff are all lovely.The service is second to none.But we did feel the dress code was poor: too many people wearing (beach) shorts in the main restaurant was not good enough .These people should be restricted to the Windjammer for dinner if that's how they dress. There should definitely be a no-shorts (and possibly smart shirt only?) policy in the other restaurants. The excursions are very over priced.The fjord cruise in Stavanger was $280 for 2. We paid $110 for the same trip by booking direct. I'm aware all the other excursions were way over-priced. Drinks- the package is very expensive for the top option.With the discount on the first day it worked out at $1092 for 2 persons.After the first day the discount was taken away and it would have been over £2000 for 2. As light drinkers this was never an option.They should offer drinks deals by the day, as they do for wifi. -more later. Wifi- very annoying you have to pay for this, and a a high price. This should be free.I used it one day and it was VERY sloooow. One other beef- no irons were loaned to rooms.They claimed they were a fire hazard. Why do hotels offer them then? As a result it was $4 a shirt just to press.This is outrageous.If you don't allow a facility, you shouldn't then charge exhorbtant prices for cleaning and ironing. I sometimes got the feeling RCC were trying to bleed their customers dry whereever they could. it was my 60 th birthday on the cruise- I think RCC could offer a complimentary bottle of wine for all birthdays, especially big ones.It wouldn't cost them much . and would be excellent PR. In summary, though, it was excellent, and I'm sure my complaints are going to be similar or same with all cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise because it was cheaper than Disney and had basically the same itinerary. I had never been on Royal Caribbean before but I had been told that they were a little below Disney but above Princess, Norwegian and Costa. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was cheaper than Disney and had basically the same itinerary. I had never been on Royal Caribbean before but I had been told that they were a little below Disney but above Princess, Norwegian and Costa. Embarkation process-Very smooth and fast. Best ever. Cabin- Was quiet and traditional with normal restroom set up(no thanks Norwegian Epic). However the shower was backed up (gross) and the door lock stopped working twice a week apart. Also third bed is a bunk bed not a sofa bed so of course I had to hit my head a few times. Food-Overall, the food qualify was a little below average but the selection was pretty good.The desserts were terrible with little selection. This is the first cruise where they didn't provide unsweetened ice tea and water. Sugar free drinks were gross. Also the ice cream machines provided ice milk not ice cream. Entertainment- The daily shows were average. They were showing previews of a magician/escape artist so I thought he would so some of those tricks in his show. However he only did card tricks on an overhead. The channels on the tv were not very entertaining. Not a lot of movies and a lot of the times the TV signal was bad. A lot of the video games in the arcade did not work. Classes/lectures-Did not have enough lectures or hobby classes. They had classes on how to play casino games, however. I would have appreciated more history classes on places we were going to or classes on how to make things or towel animals or things like that. Excursions-For the most part the excursions were as advertised. The excursion I went on in Copenhagen of the Christianborg Palace and Tivoli Gardens does not tell you you will only have an hour there. My son loves to ride amusement park rides so it was a little disappointing. I wish they would tell you the time spent at each location as it would make a difference. Outdoor activities on ship-Have rock wall and wave rider activity. My son loved the rock wall. The basketball court is also used as a soccer pitch at the same time. Not a good idea. I got hit in the head with a soccer ball. Could organize separate times for each activity to avoid possible law suits. Disembarkation-We left early taking our own luggage. I am not sure if I would take Royal Caribbean again. I would definitely not take the same ship again as it is old and not well maintained. The food might tip the scales as to me not taking them again. If I can get the same thing or better for less why wouldn't I? Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise as it was the Right time of year school holidays and going to Northern Europe with st Petersburg on the itenary we were disappointed in that my two girls couldn’t attend the children’s club because they were 10 ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was the Right time of year school holidays and going to Northern Europe with st Petersburg on the itenary we were disappointed in that my two girls couldn’t attend the children’s club because they were 10 & 12 and would have had to go to separate clubs because of their ages they didn’t want to go alone & there was no leeway with this they also had to stop using the pools after the first week as they came out with terrible skin rashes all of our party did I reported it to customer services they said it was because someone had been sick in the pool so had to be drained and stronger chemicals put in !! There was another mum complaining at the same time and families around the pool were not using them for the same reason! My family and I were absolutely fuming that there was an extortionate fee for the shuttle busses there was 4 adults and 4 children only in Helsinki did they not charge for the children I can’t believe that RC did not receive most of this money as why did we have to pay directly to RC We were all very disappointed with the entertainment nothing for the children no pool party’s games on deck we had good weather most of the cruise so there was no reason for this The food was ok very samey but nice we only ate in the windjammer as we had 4 fussy children so it was great for them to just try things We only did the Russia trip preferring to do our own trips the guide was very knowledgeable but it was a bit manic as in on off the coach and they took us to a very expensive tourist gift shop but we were allowed to use the toilets The ship itself was looking a bit warn out and tired its due a refit I believe Most of the staff were really nice but they fussed around the alcohol drinkers more In short we won’t be travelling with RC again Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Booked this cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The Baltic was chosen and Royal Caribbean as we were in Tallin on the day, a fab place we have visited before. The cruise to the Baltic was pleasant with reasonable ... Read More
Booked this cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. The Baltic was chosen and Royal Caribbean as we were in Tallin on the day, a fab place we have visited before. The cruise to the Baltic was pleasant with reasonable weather, no rain!!!. However sun tans would have been missing unless you were an addict who went to the sunbeds when the sun was out. All ports were easy to access with the exception of St Petersburg, where you either had to have a Visa or be on an organised approved trip. We only did did ship trip in St Petersburg as we were able to get ashore with local transport very easily. If you use the ship shuttles they will cost at least double. A mixture of nationalities, British, Canadian Australians and some Europeans and Russian noted. As usual with a cruise during school holidays feral children were around in abundance, I think that some parents thought they could not get into mischief and left them to their own devices!!. Dining, well we had My Time Dining in the Sapphire, tables crammed in, and waiters have to manage more tables. We were very lucky, I had pre booked a time and we ate with the same waiters, location every night so did not have any concerns and did not wait long. Although I know that some other areas did complain etc. Food generally good but lack of niceties, no flowers on the tables, after dinner coffee served in large pot mugs not the thing for a delicate tea. Main bug bare was the lack of enforcement for dress code. On the 3 formal nights noticed many people in shorts and tee shirts allowed in for the evening dining. If they want to dress down then either go to the buffet or order cabin service!!!, the dress code was not enforced at all and as this is the only time that we can dress up and feel even if we are not a 1000 dollars. Entertainment was varied, in the bars very loud and always the same. Shows were lackluster as the group had only recently joined the ship, magician, hypnotist, several solo singers and several comedians. The in house band were always loud and with the solo singers blocked them out. Dizzies bar on the 14th floor very good until the disco arrived at 10pm and forced the over 50's to leave, offered headphones!!.Enjoyed Perry Granr very much but you have ti like his srt of entertainment. We had membership of the Diamond Lounge the savior in our opinion. The only place on sea days to find somewhere quiet to read, staff excellent and views wonderful. This place made the holiday enjoyable. One thing we noted seemed lack of organisation. Went down to see the ice show but had my ship card reviewed at the door to be told I was the next sea day Apparently the shows were viewed by the muster station we we were allotted to. I even know people who went and stood by the muster station expecting to be led in. Once I knew the method I looked at the ship paper each following sea day but our muster station details did not appear. On the last sea day I queried with reception to be told my viewing was the 1st sea day at 3pm. I very politely told them that they had not informed passengers of the method and had missed out and I was not happy. No apologies were forthcoming. at all. Disembarkation was a breeze as Diamond member we were no 3 off the shop at 0620am. Breakfast for us consisted of a cookie that I brought down to the cabin from the afternoon before and a coffee made in the cabin. The restaurant opened at 0530am, however, there was not time to get to breakfast, back to the cabin to pick up carry on and be down in the area for departure which was listed at 0610am for a 0620 departure. I would add that my husband and I only had 2 meals a day, we do not ever go on a cruise with the intention of loading a plate every 2 hours. Sitting with a couple who had a 9 hour journey to Scotland also departing at 0620 they had joined a line of 200 people at 0515 waiting for the restaurant to open. They did not get a proper breakfast at all. All in all we did enjoy the cruise, however we have traveled on a varied selection of cruise lines and prior to this cruise only 1 Royal Caribbean, based on this trip we would not travel with them again. For the evening of our 50th we did get a small cake with a candle to be asked how many years?. On returning home our travel agent asked did we have a good celebration as she had informed them it was our 50th wedding anniversary. As noted before a cheap bottle of wine would have been nice but I fear the accountants have a great say in what happens on board. As comparing with Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Regent to name a few we have traveled with they are a budget line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Have cruised a lot on several of the big lines and this was our second cruise with RC. Having read the other reviews this is our take. We traveled with our 24 year old son (he loves a free holiday!) and had a sea view cabin 2584 with 3 ... Read More
Have cruised a lot on several of the big lines and this was our second cruise with RC. Having read the other reviews this is our take. We traveled with our 24 year old son (he loves a free holiday!) and had a sea view cabin 2584 with 3 single beds one being a bunk! We had such a laugh taking it in turns to stop on the top and getting up and down the ladder! I'm 57 wife 51 so you can imagine the fun!!! Loads of room for the three of us and whilst the room was a little dated how much time time do you spend in the room!? Shower was more than ample for a six foot bloke and was kept impeccable by our room attendant. I have read that some people think the ship was tatty but you would really have to look hard to find wear and tear and during the two weeks there was always work going to paint etc and we also got a new mattress each during the two weeks as did the whole ship. Again it had no bearing on my overall holiday I found the ship to be excellent and exactly what we wanted. We eat each morning and lunch if on board in the windjammer and found it excellent. Great choice of everything with separate stations for various things every day. With 3000 people on board it is always going to be busy but we never found it hard to get a table and the staff where always around to clear or get you a drink. I have to say I had some of the tastiest food on a ship and the burgers at lunch are 5 star! I eat my own weight in burgers in the two weeks!! Dinner was taken each night in the the main dining room, we had intended to go to specialty restaurants a couple of nights but we really didn't need to as again the food and service was excellent. We eat second sitting and had two great waiters and the manager was also great fun. Varied menu each night and if you cant find something you liked there was also a great selection of old faves to choose from. As we remembered from our first RC cruise 10 years ago overall everything was top draw. Entertainment I wont spoil other than to say really enjoyed it. Didn't go every-night but had laughs with comics sang along to the Beatles and enjoyed the dancing. Would say you have to spend a night in Schooners with the ever so camp Perry and his shiny suits! Again a great mix in a great theater. Ports Gibraltar: Been before and love it. Go see the monkeys and enjoy England in the sun! Cartagena: Great little un spoilt Spanish town with fab buildings and little shops, if you love history the Roman ruins are spectacular. Barcelona: Two days to explore, do the red route on the hop on bus but leave time to eat some amazing food. The food market on La Rambla is a must! walk round looking at all the amazing meat and sea food then jump on a seat at one of the many food stalls and watch as you food is cooked! Had some amazing giant red prawns!!! Malaga: My new fave Spanish city! Flown in many times cant believe I never stayed here! Large cosmopolitan and very Spanish! Great shops, great back streets, great little Tapas restaurants and a lovely beach right next to the ship! Nothing to not like! Parma: Again been before, had a beach day then walk around the town, very pleasant. Valencia: 10 minute shuttle brings you to the centre of the old town, lots of squares and churches to find, what I call a proper Spanish city! Cadiz: Again very Spanish see above. Lisbon: Lots to see and on a food theme! find the TimeOut food market near the main square and eat!!! get there about 11.30 by 12.15 it was packed with locals, custard tarts to die for! And what a cruise in and out down the coast under the bridge! Getting on and off was a breeze we got there 12.30 on board 1.15 off in 10 minutes, Yes it was busy getting off and getting a taxi but no drama. Overall I would give a score of 9 out of 10. I really enjoyed it and after writing this review I will be looking for the next cruise! Andrew Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We are a married couple in early 60's. We booked this because we prefer Royal Caribbean for it's informal yet not too rowdy atmosphere. The cruise ticked all the boxes. There were over 900 kids running around which noised ... Read More
We are a married couple in early 60's. We booked this because we prefer Royal Caribbean for it's informal yet not too rowdy atmosphere. The cruise ticked all the boxes. There were over 900 kids running around which noised things up a bit but what do you expect when you book a cruise during the school holidays. Big shout out to Hello Clo, the best cruise director RC have in my opinion. She was always visible about the ship and such a cheery person We did notice a few slight issues. First is the lack of bar staff and waiters, particularly in the Schooner bar. Poor guys there were run off their feet. Again I noticed that the numbers attending the main dining room seem to be getting ever lower and the Windjammer is always mobbed. Is anyone at RC seeing this ? Perhaps it is time to convert the 3 MDR floors to a buffet and put the MDR on deck 11 - only a suggestion. We are Diamond plus members and as such have access to the Diamond and Concierge lounges. If RC are going to provide these lounges for 24 hour access, can they please ensure the coffee machine is always stocked. We regularly went up for a late night coffee only to find out the kitchen was closed and told if we wanted coffee to go downstairs to the Promenade cafe. Sort of defeats the purpose of having 24 hour lounges. Also, with regard to the music guy Perry singing in the Schooner bar at night. It was always mobbed right into the corridor and you simply couldn't move or get past. While upstairs, the much larger Star lounge was empty. Again I ask, is anyone at RC paying attention to things like this ? And we know people don't do trivia for the prizes. But to give out the same prize ( yellow highlighters ) again and again got a bit boring. Surely it wouldn't cost too much to give out the odd cap, T-shirt, pen, key ring, etc Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I really wanted to leave a review here to offer my thoughts on this ship after reading some of the negative reviews. Prior to going on the trip, I had seen lots of reviews giving really harsh opinions of the ship looking really tired or ... Read More
I really wanted to leave a review here to offer my thoughts on this ship after reading some of the negative reviews. Prior to going on the trip, I had seen lots of reviews giving really harsh opinions of the ship looking really tired or of the food being awful or the service slow etc... Honestly, I have no idea if these people were sailing on this ship or if there is one with a similar name that they are getting mixed up with?! Or alternatively what sort of expectations these people have created for themselves! We chose the cruise based on the itinerary and the deal that Royal Caribbean were offering at the time (drinks package and onboard spend). We boarded relatively swiftly and soon discovered that this was both a mammoth ship and quite a magnificent city on water! We've cruised with Royal before and also NCL and Princess. I'd say the ship was somewhat of a hybrid of the two. Overall the ship was looking great and flowed really well - only on the odd occasion did we really feel that the ship was busy, which was at a couple of times in the buffet, particularly in the buffet for breakfast when the port call was shorter. All of the areas of the ship were smart, clean and in good repair - the promenade, whilst not to everyone's taste it seems was a hive of activity all the way through the cruise. The food was imaginative and plentiful to say the least - we ate really well... I'd say not quite as well presented or of quite the quality on offer by princess, but then this was price reflective also. My only criticism would be that they could offer some stronger and more imaginative vegetarian and vegan offerings - meat eaters definitely got a better deal here, but there were still lots of options and alternatives. The only significant let down was Jonny Rockets really. I really think Royal Caribbean should make this a complimentary eating spot. Every other line we've been on has an outdoor burger grill that is complimentary and whist the offering is marginally better, it really felt like we'd thrown $9.95 per person away, as the burgers in the buffet, just one deck down were almost the same, as were the fries etc. The absence of a burger bar on the pool deck compared to the other lines was noticeable on fine sea days, which seems a shame and a bit of a cash cow - I really wouldn't bother and I doubt we'll bother again. Jonny Rockets was notably quiet whenever we looked in... maybe people are catching on? The stateroom was smart and pretty sizeable. We had an inside and parents had a balcony - both were nice. Beds were comfy and decent storage space for a 2 week cruise. The shower gel was nice and the sheets and towels always clean, fresh and had a nice feel to them. The activity and options for things to do were quite simply never ending, there was always a plethora of activities and things on offer to do. The entertainment was variable. We saw some BRILLIANT shows and entertainers and some entertainment which seemed below par, unfortunately the Royal Caribbean post cruise survey didn't really give the opportunity to differentiate. As other have said, the ice show is brilliant! GO AND SEE IT!!! Shows in the theatre varied a lot... We had a bit of a random singer spell during the two weeks, where we had like three solo singer nights in a row and by the third, we seemed to be suffering singer fatigue! The Royal Caribbean production shows were usual cruise fayre really... singers and dancers singing and dancing to music that is no longer in copyright etc etc... they were so so, but ok to pass an evening with. The promenade parties were a lot of fun, the 80's one and the 70's one were really well polished, well attended and lots of atmosphere - Rock Britannia, seemed a bit flat - but still a good laugh. Be nice if it was a few decibels louder to really rock the ship. One entertainer that deserves an extra special mention was Perry Grant... oh my goodness, this guy was the most entertaining guy I have ever seen on a cruise ship anywhere... he rightfully gets rave reviews again and again - I won't say too much, but if he is still on when you sail - spend some time with his show in the schooner bar, you will laugh, sing and make friends! The service was consistently brilliant. Super polite, fast, efficient etc. One of the things that I really liked was that the staff always said how much Royal Caribbean had looked after them - this is a really big deal to me and it would influence me to holiday with them again. In terms of the ports of call, they are pretty personal, so I won't review them, but we chose the Baltic's and thoroughly enjoyed them! Explorer is a remarkable ship with a remarkable crew - I would definitely recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was our 7th Royal Caribbean cruise, and we chose this Russia and Scandinavia sailing because of both the cruise line and the itinerary. It was also our second sailing on Explorer of the Seas, so we have had prior experience with ... Read More
This was our 7th Royal Caribbean cruise, and we chose this Russia and Scandinavia sailing because of both the cruise line and the itinerary. It was also our second sailing on Explorer of the Seas, so we have had prior experience with RCCL. Our overall impression (which we seemed to share with many fellow guests) was that standards had been allowed to drop by RCCL. Meals in the Sapphire Dining Room were disappointing. The service was fine, but the menu choices were strange and, most importantly, the quality of the food was notably lower than on our six previous cruises. Could it be that RCCL are lowering the standard of the (included) meals and ingredients to encourage guests to upgrade to “added-cost” meal selections or visit their speciality restaurants? Meat quality was poor. The windjammer restaurant seemed to have become even more overcrowded-tables were packed very close together in an attempt we assume to cope with the no of passengers, but this made it hard to get to and from tables. Entertainment. The young cruise director seemed poor, compared with those we had sailed with before. He was lacking their presence. Entertainment. The scheduling of events that were put on during the cruise disappointed us- and was something we were not alone in criticising. Perhaps linked to the cruise director inexperience? Ship’s condition. We gathered that Explorer of the Seas is going in for a refurbishment and dry docking next year. She was showing her age, with paintwork, railings and some furnishings in need of tender care or replacement. Some chairs in the Star Lounge had bare patches on the arm rests; several seats in the theatre needed fixed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We wanted a cruise with interesting destinations and the Baltic/Russia itinerary was perfect as the ports themselves were mostly significant and interesting which meant that there was no need to book an expensive tour. We visited all the ... Read More
We wanted a cruise with interesting destinations and the Baltic/Russia itinerary was perfect as the ports themselves were mostly significant and interesting which meant that there was no need to book an expensive tour. We visited all the major capital cities. The ship was a mind boggling experience for the first couple of days. The sheer size of it ( although today that would not be a large ship). Dining....The Sapphire dining rooms provided a very pleasant experience. We chose My Time Dining. The service from all staff was excellent.. Menu choices were varied and the quality superb most of the time although desserts could have been a little more imaginative and were not always tasty. Windjammer...again there was a mind numbing array of choice and all tasty. The views from all parts good and ample seating even when busy. There was never any queuing other than if you wanted something freshly prepared. We have a few criticisms...no fruit juices were available unless you had a drinks package, only squashes/cordials. There was not enough choice of healthy/vegetarian type dishes, interesting salads etc. Maybe instead of the unhealthy sweeteners offered, you could offer honey/ healthy sweeteners. The music on the piped system was terrible, intrusive, often loud and screechy, not at all suited to dining or the older ages of most of the clientele. We agreed with the head waiter that as he was unable to change the music he would turn it down, but we still had to complain when this was not done. Entertainment.....some of the evening shows were superb, some okay, the seating was excellent. As for the entertainment around the ship, Perry Grant was the best thing RC had, so entertaining, funny, original, he was a great success all round. Activities.... Daytime activities could be much improved. Often there were several things on at 10 am but obviously I could not do them all! Why oh why does the table tennis have to be on the outside deck? If you've never played it in the wind, here is your chance! Ridiculous. You cannot please everyone with daytime activities, but we felt there were too many simple, childlike attempts at quizzes, games etc and not enough exciting activities where one could learn something or see a demonstration, ice carving or something. All in all, they obviously cater for the 'masses' and not the more discerning traveller. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
My husband and I sailed on Explorer of the Seas on 23 June 2019 on a 14 Night Baltic Cruise as part of his birthday celebrations and I booked the cruise a year in advance. He has always wanted to see Russia and this cruise gave us the ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on Explorer of the Seas on 23 June 2019 on a 14 Night Baltic Cruise as part of his birthday celebrations and I booked the cruise a year in advance. He has always wanted to see Russia and this cruise gave us the opportunity to spend 2 days in St Petersburg, visit lots of other ports and sail from Southampton so no need for flights. We did have a long drive from our home in Scotland but broke up the journey on the way down, staying with family near Chester. Southampton Pre-Cruise - Stayed at the Premier Inn which I booked online a few months in advance. Parking available but very limited and payable extra. Booked dinner that evening at White Star Tavern which was excellent. - Parked car at ABP Parking. Again, booked in advance and was able to use a discount code when I emailed them direct to get 10% off. Couldn't believe how easy this was. Basically, we drove to the terminal, spotted the ship, were directed to a car park directly adjacent to the terminal, parked up, took out our cases with their labels attached and locked the car. We keep the keys and the cases were taken from us by porters. We just walked over to check in with our hand luggage and were on the ship within half an hour. We had an advised check-in time of 2.30pm but arrived at 12pm and were onboard by 12.30pm. Cabin - we had been assigned inside cabin 6229. I had put in a low bid on RCI's Royal Up scheme for a Promenade and a Balcony but was unsuccessful. The ship was full so no upgrades were available. We've previously had inside cabins which have been perfectly adequate although we did enjoy a balcony on a Marella cruise in the Med. However, RCI wanted an additional £1600 for the balcony cabin at the time of booking which I felt wasn't value for money. I hadn't considered an Ocean View cabin. With hindsight, I would probably look at this again as we missed seeing daylight and would have liked to have the ability to relax in our cabin in the evening and still enjoy a view. The cabin had everything we required - safe, fridge, double wardrobe and 4 shelves inside plus shelves at the dressing table and either side of the bed. There was a small couch but no table which would have been good for eating breakfast on the few days when we ordered breakfast in the room (Continental is free/ Cooked has a charge of $7.95 per room). There are tea/coffee making facilities. TV is limited, mainly RCI channels promoting their products, couple of sports and news channels and a Film of the Day channel. Explorer of the Seas is due to go for a refit next year and will benefit from new carpets/upholstery and a fresh lick of paint which it does need. However, the standard of service and attention from the staff more than makes up for this. We ate in the Windjammer at breakfast and lunchtimes (if we weren't in port) and the choice of food is fantastic. Fresh omelettes and eggs cooked to order. You could eat your way around the world. Staff are very attentive and we ordered our drinks when we sat down. We were on the ultimate drinks package and ordered whatever we wanted from the drinks menu. If there's a cocktail they haven't listed they'll make it for you if you describe it. We ate in the Main Dining Room which is called Sapphire in the evening and also had a 5 night Speciality Restaurant dining package which I had bought through the Cruise Planner. The first night was booked in advance and I booked the remaining nights as soon as I boarded the ship to make sure we had the reservations we wanted. The speciality restaurants are as follows; Giovanni's Table - We were disappointed with this. Nothing to do with the staff. The restaurant is situated on deck 3 and feels like it was added as an afterthought, no windows and almost feels like dining in a basement. Also, I had linguine vongole which appeared on the MDR menu a few nights later. Meant to be 'speciality'. Izumi - We're not very familiar with Japanese cuisine and enjoyed the experience. The staff were great at recommending dishes which fit within the budget allowed. We had 2 starters, 2 main courses on hot stones and dessert and only had to add $2.00 to the bill. The view from Izumi is stunning as it is situated on the top deck opposite the Sky Lounge. Chop's Grille - Our favourite. We ate here 3 times. Feels like a speciality restaurant should feel. Amazing view with floor to wall windows on deck 11. Ate every course offered on the first visit and realised this was just too much for us so got it right on the next visits. We stuck to the steaks but did see a couple having the small seafood tower which looked HUGE and delicious. Supplement for that but would be lovely for a special treat and especially if you like seafood. MDR - We always requested a table for 2 and never a problem. We were on My Time Dining and tend to eat later so usually arrived at 8.30pm which was never an issue. We requested a specific table on several occasions and were always accommodated. Food choices were great and we could always find something we liked. We aren't vegetarian and don't suffer allergies/intolerances so not sure what this would be like although the staff always asked this question in advance. There is no midnight buffet but the Promenade Café seems to be open all night (the latest we went to bed one night was 3am and it was still open) and serves pizza, sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee. Entertainment - Can't really comment on this too much as we didn't go to many of the shows/activities. We have previously been on Allure where the shows are of an extremely high standard so the offering on Explorer didn't seem as spectacular. We did go to the Silent Disco on the 2 occasions it was held and we found it hilarious. We also went to the Russian Folk Dancing show which was held in the Palace Theatre on the overnight stop at St Petersburg. Really enjoyed this and well attended. There was a singer playing most nights in the Crown & Kettle Pub on the Promenade and there was a singer called Perry playing in the Schooner Bar who proved to be extremely popular. He was like Liberace meets Judy Garland. There are discos every night in Dizzy's in the sky Lounge which start about 10pm (apart from one night when all the adults had to clear out for a teen zone!). Sky Lounge - This was our favourite bar, especially in the evening when we returned from the port and wanted a drink before getting changed for dinner. We watched most of the sailaways from here as the view is fantastic and the staff are so attentive. In reality, it was too windy to spend too much time on deck and the ship would have benefitted from a cover over the pool areas for this type of cruise. It wouldn't be an issue in the Med or Caribbean but the Baltic is quite windy, especially on Sea Days. The solarium is open to the elements and there were occasions were the Jacuzzi had to be closed. There were some people who lay on sunbeds but they were wrapped in blankets and fully clothed! We actually had better weather than I expected but it was still to windy to sit on deck in the evening. PORTS VISITED - Our main reason for selecting this cruise was St Petersburg but the other ports proved to be equally as interesting. All the times I've given are the time we were allowed ashore. OSLO 1100 - 1630 Docked next to Akershus Fortress. No need for a shuttle bus. Can walk directly into town. We walked to the Opera House where you can walk inside and on the roof for free. We then went to the Tourist Info Centre in the main train station (one of the nicest stations I have ever seen) and bought tram tickets from there for Tram 12 to Vigeland Sculpture Park. Returned by tram to Mathallen which is a foodhall where we had a fresh seafood meal. Drink is VERY expensive but that's Nordic countries for you. Returned in time for a quick look at the big souvenir shop at the terminal before boarding. COPENHAGEN 1030 - 1630 Docked at Quay Oceankaj C331 which is potentially walkable but would take about 45 mins. We had booked a free walking tour with Sandemann's which started at 11am so we took the shuttle bus and tickets for this can be bought at guest services and charged to your account ($20 per person). Our walking tour was 3 hours and took us from City Hall through the mediaeval parts of the city down to the harbour. At the end, you tip the guide. Thoroughly recommend this. We had time for a drink in a bar overlooking the canal. 2 beers cost about £20 but you're in vibrant Copenhagen in the sunshine. HELSINKI 100 - 1700 What a surprise! Clean, cosmopolitan and friendly. We docked at Hernesaari which is a small peninsula which is being developed with new homes, restaurants. It is walkable into town but, due to time constraints and wanting to see as much as possible within the time constraints, we took the Hop On Hop Off Shuttle Bus. This was again charged to our account ($20 each) and makes 4 stops in the city. We saw the Old Market Hall which has reindeer, smoked salmon, prawns so don't eat too much for breakfast, Uspenke Cathedral, Rock Church (3 euros to go inside) and could have got off at the Sibelius sculpture but ran out of time as we had booked a sauna at the Loyly Sauna. This was amazing a very Finnish thing to do. We had a choice of saunas (traditional smoke and standard), birch twigs, terraces to enjoy a drink while looking over the bay and a dip in the Baltic and you HAVE to wear a costume which appealed to our conservative British customs. If you fancy this, book it in advance as it was fully booked when we arrived. You get a locker, towel, napkin and 2 hours in the sauna for 19 euros. Short walk from there back to the ship. ST PETERSBURG Stunning and overwhelming experience. Docked about 20-30 mins outside the city centre. 6 cruise ships all berthed in the same dock. We had booked an independent tour with SPB Tours and are delighted that we did. They were professional and their attention to detail was outstanding. We benefitted from the fact that we were a small party of 14 with our own mini bus and driver and were able to bypass the huge crowds which were everywhere. It was VERY busy. I don't think I've seen so many tourists in all my life. RCI try to encourage you to book their tours but, if you do, you're first off the ship so have to be up extremely early and you'll be on a big bus with about 40-50 people. We completed a form on the first day of our cruise informing them we had an independent tour arranged. We were given a time slot to meet in the MDR at 8.15. There were hundreds of people there and we were all taken off in groups to go through passport control. This takes about 45 mins to clear (much quicker on the 2nd day) and our guide was there to meet us when we got into the terminal. They wait until the whole group is there (as everyone had different time slots). We did the 2 Day Deluxe Tour and got a discount for being part of the Cruise Critic Roll. I paid everything in advance online and gave tips in US dollars to the driver and guide at the end of the tour. We visited the following; Metro Hermitage Church of Spilled Blood Yusopov Palace St Isaac's Cathedral St Peter and St Paul Fortress Peterhof Palace and Gardens Boat trip on Neva Lunches were included on both days (one was 4 course and the other was 5 course so you won't be hungry!) and we were taken to a souvenir shop. It was expensive but you can't wander about yourself so if you want a souvenir you buy it there or at the shops in the terminal (the ship did sell Russian gifts too). TALLINN 0700 - 1600 Easy 15 minute walk into town although there are shuttle buses available. We had booked the KGB Museum which is located in Hotel Viru at 11am. It's 2 rooms at the top of the hotel but gives a fascinating insight into life in Estonia in the Soviet era. Views from the top are pretty special too. Again, book in advance if you want to do this as it was sold out on the day. Spent the afternoon walking around the old town which is beautiful. Quaint houses, cobbled streets, viewpoints looking over the town. We went to a bar called Porgu where they serve Estonian beers and local food. Prices for everything are much more reasonable here. Also had cake and coffee in Cafe Maisasmokk which is the oldest cafe in Tallinn. Lots of souvenir shops so good place to stock up on reasonably priced local items. STOCKHOLM 0800 - 1430 Docked at Stadsgarden. It was pouring when we arrived which wasn't great but still have to go ashore for a look. There were shuttle buses and Hop On Hop Off which we didn't organise and we heard there were lots of delays due to the weather. We walked to Gamla Stan which was about half an hour. Very touristy in Gamla Stan. but nice to see the Changing of the Guard at the Palace at 12.15. We passed the Parliament Buildings and noticed they do free tours in English on the hour. We went for a meal in Tradition which had traditional Swedish food and was busy, always a good sign. The sailaway from Stockholm is the most spectacular I have ever seen and shouldn't be missed. It takes 5 hours so you can enjoy it from the Sky Lounge/restaurants on the upper decks. SKAGEN 0900 - 1630 Small town whose population doubles when a cruise ship arrives (on top of which there was a music festival so it was buzzing). Weather was extremely windy so probably not seeing it at its best but pretty houses and nice shops. Walkable into town although we bought shuttle bus and regular bus tickets in the Tourist Info at the dock (directly opposite the ship gangway). Went to Grenen where the Baltic meets the North Sea. This was fantastic. Get the sandworm otherwise it's a bit of a trek. We had amazing fish and chips in Skagen Fiskerestaurant where the floor is covered in sand (booked in advance online) STAVANGER 0900 - 1630 Docked in the centre of town so easy walk in. This was the only port where I had pre-booked a RCI Shore Excursion which was subsequently cancelled due to lack of interest (they credit your onboard account, not your credit card). However, we had booked the Petroleum Museum which we could see from the ship and just walked to! Cost of tour was almost £80 for us both (included a trip to the 3 Swords Statue) but entry to the museum was 120 Krone each (about £24). Spent 2 hours here. If we'd gone to other museums in Stavanger, entry would have been half price. Very pretty old town. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Mostly went on this cruise for the wonderful ports we stopped in. Embarkation and leaving the ship were quick and easy. The ship was fine. The average age of the ship was very old (older than i thought and I expected the crowd to be ... Read More
Mostly went on this cruise for the wonderful ports we stopped in. Embarkation and leaving the ship were quick and easy. The ship was fine. The average age of the ship was very old (older than i thought and I expected the crowd to be old). This was fine for us as we are not the type to stay out late partying - but almost nobody showed up to parties or events. The shows were also tailored for the older crowd. The ship was our biggest so we expected entertainment to be awesome - the lead male and female singers were great but there was only one comedian the entire trip and we were unimpressed with the entertainment overall. There is not a ton to do on the ship - basketball and ping pong are outside and the wind makes them almost impossible. If you are not doing trivia, at a bar, or playing bingo, there is alot of time for hot tubs. The adults only section of pool and hot tubs were the biggest I've seen and we loved them - but they did not have access to watch the movie if you are excited about that. There were also a variety of lectures prior to the port stops. Dining was fine - very comparable to other cruise ships and companies. The service, however, was EXCELLENT. The best dining room service we have had in about 6/7 cruises. We did not try any specialty dining for the first time. Ports were great - some very small towns such as Oslo had little to do but were enjoyable. Russia did not disappoint - be sure to book excursions before hand in order to get off the ship. HOWEVER, the cruises sometimes imply or otherwise make it seem as if you can only get off the ship if you have an excursion booked through them directly. This is NOT the case. While the Royal Caribbean cruises had more time (about an hour before and a bit after) in Russia, we completed our full two day tour. I recommend SPB for small groups - the cruise had large buses with up to 45 people. Many places such as the Hermitage and Peterhof are packed and it is very disorganized in the museums so having a small group with SPB of only about 15 made things MUCH easier. Highly recommend the Ice Bar in Helskini - there are several (such as Stockholm) but Helsinki is far superior with a large indoor facility. Love the trip - once in a lifetime. PS there are not a ton of kids on this trip - we loved it. however, if we had kids there was not alot for them to do and not enough kids to get anything done Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise primarily because of its itinerary which included one or two extra ports of call and fewer cruising days. Departing from Southampton was another bonus. We hadn’t cruised with Royal Caribbean before and Explorer ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily because of its itinerary which included one or two extra ports of call and fewer cruising days. Departing from Southampton was another bonus. We hadn’t cruised with Royal Caribbean before and Explorer was the largest vessel we’d ever chosen so we were slightly concerned we might find it overcrowded, noisy and too glitzy. Nothing could have been further from the truth as we had a very positive experience. Yes it was a busy ship but it was possible to find quiet areas to relax if you needed to. Service in the dining rooms was brisk, attentive and highly efficient with a consistent range of good food. The number and good standard of entertainment and enrichment activities was another pleasing feature. Compared to other cruises we’d been on, we were also impressed with the organised way disembarkation at ports was arranged as, apart from one occasion, movement of passengers on and off the boat seemed logical, speedy and well planned. Finally we have nothing but praise for all members of staff who were unfailingly happy, professional and willing to please. Explorer wasn’t the most modern of ships and a few areas did look a bit care-worn (notably the French-style cafe) but overall we had a remarkably enjoyable time and would happily choose Royal Caribbean again for another holiday. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had the most amazing cruise ever to Scadinavia on Explorer! I read the negative reviews on Explorer beforehand and they had me concerned. I really shouldn't have worried at all as the ship is in great condition for her age. Yes, ... Read More
We had the most amazing cruise ever to Scadinavia on Explorer! I read the negative reviews on Explorer beforehand and they had me concerned. I really shouldn't have worried at all as the ship is in great condition for her age. Yes, there was some paint chipping and condensation on the windows but you are much more particular than us if that's going to affect your vacation at all. The ship was clean, the staff (especially our stateroom attendant) was so friendly, the food in both the MDR and Windjammer was delicious and the entertainment was great (especially the skating show). We really couldnt find any fault at all with the ship. When we had an issue with our bathroom it was fixed in 15 minutes. We went to a lot of the game shows and sports events and had a fantastic time. We won 10 medals! Never had an issue finding a seat in the theater or star lounge. Even on busy sea days we always found a seat in the Windjammer and it was great that they opened the chops grille to give more seating for breakfast. We chose this cruise for the incredible itinerary and it didnt disappoint . Embarkation was very easy, we were on the ship in about 20 minutes. At most ports the ship docked within walking distance of the main areas . We did Oslo (go to Vigeland statue park), Copenhagen, Talinn Stockholm (dont miss the Vasa museum) on our own and found the cities easy to navigate from the ship. For helsinki we did a royal Caribbean excursion to a really fun ice bar which was great! For St Petersburg we used SPB tours which did the same itinerary as royal but was cheaper and had a smaller group In stavanger we climbed pulpit rock. Incredible views but an incredibly difficult hike dont underestimate it! Overall this was the cruise of a lifetime on a wonderful ship. Highly recommend a cruise on Explorer! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise because my adult children particularly wanted to visit St Petersburg. Despite reading some negative reviews about the state of the ship before we went, we found it to be fine: immaculately clean, decor was smart, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my adult children particularly wanted to visit St Petersburg. Despite reading some negative reviews about the state of the ship before we went, we found it to be fine: immaculately clean, decor was smart, everything was well-maintained. We were in an aft balcony cabin with my son in the overhead bed and found it comfortable and sufficiently spacious, with a particularly large balcony. Entertainment was not always to our taste and we were disappointed that there wasn't a west end musical production of the type we've seen on Royal Caribbean in the past. But some of the acts they had around the lounge areas were excellent, we particularly enjoyed the reggae band and the classical guitarist. We do a lot of quizzes and got to know several of the cruise director's team who were lovely. We were a bit disappointed that RC are still rolling out the same Murder Mystery dining show, having already done this twice we didn't want to pay to see the same scenario played out yet again. Ports of call were efficient, even St Petersburg seemed pretty well organised and we quickly got ashore everywhere we went. The one thing which really let this cruise down was the food. Two of our party of 5 are vegetarian, which is not uncommon in the UK. We had told RC about this in advance even though according to their website vegetarian food is always available and does not have to be notified to them. We tend to go separate ways during the day so one thing we really enjoy is a proper sit-down meal in the MDR in the evening where we can all catch up. We have sailed with RC in the past and in the past there have always been at least 2 veggie options available in the MDR every night, one on the main menu and one under "classics". Unfortunately, they've dropped the vegetarian dish from the "classics" selection and on 4 of the 14 nights there was NO vegetarian main course on the menu: on 1 night there was nothing at all, on the other 3 the only options contained parmesan cheese which for legal reasons is always made with animal rennet. We complained to the Head Waiter, Guest Services (who referred us back to the Head Waiter) and directly to RC via their website (who sent us an email saying they were sorry we were disappointed but made no effort to address the issue). The Head Waiter tried his best but told us that the menus are set from a central point in Florida and the ship's chef cannot alter them. He did offer us a list of vegetarian options from which we could choose the day before, but what we got didn't always match what we'd ordered and in any case who knows how hungry they're going to be a day in advance on a cruise? A couple of times we did cave in and go to the buffet instead, where we found plenty of other vegetarians who had already given up on the MDR. There was more choice there, but it wasn't ideal as the veggie dishes were often placed in front of others containing meat or fish so prone to cross contamination with people dropping meat into them, and too few serving utensils were set out so people would use the same for both dishes (I did ask for new utensils when the latter happened but shouldn't have to do this). Oh, and having informed everyone possible about your dietary requirements don't expect this to be passed on to Shore Excursions. Apparently they are completely separate (don't RC have computers)? On the first day of our St Petersburg excursions we were served up with a plate of potatoes as our main course. Dining has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of cruising for us, but on this cruise we felt very much like second-class citizens. According to 2018 figures from Waitrose, 12.5% of people in the UK are now fully vegetarian or vegan with a further 21% claiming to be flexitarian, where a largely vegetable-based diet is supplemented occasionally with meat. So on a ship sailing from Southampton where the majority of guests are from the UK there will be a significant number of people on board who are exclusively or largely vegetarian and an even higher number of groups or couples which include at least one vegetarian in their party. Sort your vegetarian options out RC or you risk losing a lot of repeat business! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
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 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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