Explorer of the Seas - Western Caribbean: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by RDeagazio

Explorer of the Seas 4
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Explorer of the Seas - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: December 2005
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
Explorer of the Seas 10 night Christmas & New Years Cruise Dec. 23, 2005 - Jan 2, 2006

Background: This was my 58th cruise with RCI and 123rd cruise overall. As I just returned from escorting a group on the Monarch 3 days before this cruise, this was purely a pleasure trip.

Pre-Cruise: As I live in San Diego, and my traveling partner lives in England, we flew to Miami the night before the cruise and stayed at the Radisson Hotel downtown on Biscayne Blvd. For $108.00 a night, the hotel was fine. Clean rooms, a decent bar and restaurant and walking distance to Bayside. We had requested and received a room on a high floor with a view of the Port. The hotel is right on the turning basin so we had great views of the ships arriving and departing the port as they turned around right in front of our window. After arriving and cleaning up a bit, Kath and myself met up with Trumpeter and his wife for dinner at Bayside. It was nice to meet a fellow CCer and our paths More crossed a few times once onboard.

Embarkation: We decided to sleep in and didnt arrive at the pier until around 12pm. We checked in at the Diamond check in area with our Set Sail Passes and were onboard in a matter of minutes. Our cabin was ready when we arrived.

Cabin: We booked a Cat. D2, and were on Deck 9, cabin 9260, which proved to be a great location. Close to the forward elevators, which were less busy than the mid ship ones, yet we were also close to the mid-ship elevators and the Concierge Lounge. Getting anywhere on the ship from this location was a breeze. Our cabin was in perfect condition. The carpet was brand new and there was not a stain or soil mark to be found on the sofa or vanity. The bedding was also new and very comfortable, although we didnt get much sleep on this trip. The refrigerator was perfect for our needs. The bathroom was very clean and the shower doors were much better than having a curtain sticking to you each night. Our cabin attendant, Alfred from Labadee (yes, people actually live on Labadee) was excellent. He cleaned the glass on our balcony each day and provided us with excellent service the entire trip. Each night he created new towel creations some of which we hadnt seen before including a man bent over mooning us.

Ship: Explorer recently underwent a drydock in Sept. 2005 where she received a good cleaning and was in fine shape. The crew was also replacing carpeting in several public areas and stairwells during our cruise, so she is a well cared for ship. The main areas we tended to hang out in were the Sky Bar, Maharajas Lounge and The Chamber. We did frequent the Concierge Lounge every day, and they also had the Cloud Nine area of the Viking Crown set up for the nightly cocktails if you preferred a drink with a view. I personally do not like the Royal Promenade and avoided it at all costs. As I had a lot of crew friends on this ship, we tended to hang in the bars they were working. One note of disappointment was the lack of Christmas decorations on this ship. In 10 yrs of cruising during the holidays, I have never been on an RCI ship as underwhelmingly decorated as the Explorer. The only Christmas tree to be found was in the Main Dining Room. Most other areas had Poinsettias and garlands strung around but nothing impressive.

Crew/Service: Everyone we encountered from the Purser to the cleaners were friendly and gracious. The service from our dining room staff (Deck 3, Table 314) was excellent. Our waitress Beverly from the Philippines and Edwin from India worked well together and remembered your choices nightly. The Head waiter was never seen (even on tip night). Bartenders were a lot of fun.

Food & Beverage: We ate all breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer, and while the food was good, the selection was lacking over past cruises. We ate all but 2 dinners in the main dining room and the food there was good to excellent. The lobster was some of the best Ive had on a cruise, and our waitress brought us more than we could possible eat. We ate in Portofino's on the remaining 2 nights, and the food and service was top notch. It was the best meal Ive had in a Portofino's on any RCI ship. Drink quality and prices was also very good in all the bars and lounges.

Entertainment: The 2 productions shows were excellent. The singers could actually sing and both shows were high energy and a lot of fun to watch. The other entertainers were less than enjoyable with the exception of a violinist Dominique who was outstanding and Marty Allen and his wife who were great fun. The comedians and the Temptations were so bad we walked out as did many others. Planet Ice is not to be missed. Clo was the CD and she was okay as was her staff, but after so many cruises, I dont have any use for them or their activities.

Casino: Not friendly at allnothing more said.

Holiday Festivities: There was a lot happening onboard for the holidays. Santa arrived for the kids, Caroling in the Promenade where it snowed. Jewish and Catholic services including a midnight mass. New Years parties in all the bars and lounges, including a balloon drop in the Promenade. Free champagne from 1130p-midnight on New Years Eve. The disco stayed rocking until after 5am.

Ports: Due to our itinerary and the recent hurricane damage we had to tender in 3 of our 5 ports of call.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Dockedwhat a dump! Nothing to see here! Take a taxi to Negril and enjoy the beautiful beaches there.

Grand Cayman: Tendered-- The weather was horrible and the seas were very rough. All excursions were cancelled. As a matter of fact, 2 ships (Grandeur and Enchantment) came into the harbor, turned around and took off back out to sea. Our Capt. decided to wait it out in the hopes we could go ashore. We arrived in the harbor at 6am, and the Cayman officials wouldnt allow any tendering until after 10am, and then we only had 1 tender in service for most of the day. The last person off the ship didnt leave until after 1pm and with having to be back onboard by 4pm it didnt leave much time. The weather was windy and rainy so staying on the ship was the best option.

Cozumel: Tendered-- Upon arrival, the view of the island from the pool deck didnt look too promising. Most of the large hotels had no walls and you could see right through them. The dock is all but destroyed. Upon arrival on land, we headed to Paradise Beach and they did an excellent job rebuilding. You could hardly tell there was any damage at all. The tendering system here was good as they used the large 600 pax ferries that normally run between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.

Costa Maya: DockedNice day at the pier side pools and restaurants. Went to Majahual for a bit of exploring as well.

Belize: TenderedEfficient tendering system and a great day cave tubing with X-Stream. I highly recommend this tour operator.

Summary: Overall, this was a very enjoyable cruise. The service, food and crew were all great. The weather cooperated for most of the trip. Entertainment, decorations and other things could have been improved upon, but there was nothing great enough to ruin the trip. I much prefer the smaller ships in the Vision and Radiance class but thats just my personal preference. __________________ Less

Published 02/07/06

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