This was a fun cruise despite some minor setbacks. As far as the departure and pier procedures, it was typical. The folk at Cape Liberty were on par despite the environment and building which they are refurbishing and expected to complete by 2016. It is basically a construction zone. Safety and staff were optimum and well-delivered nonetheless.
Explorer of the Seas was nice despite its age and we were aware that it is going into rehab in March 2015. It's an old ship, but the common areas are clean and the art/ decor remains glamorous and does not appear dated at all. The wooden and steel features of the ship are chipped and over-painted, but the old girl is rock steady. As far as the line's offerings: this was my partner's first cruise ever so he had no expectations. I on the other hand thought that the activities and the food were substandard and from those I spoke to who were veteran cruisers of this line stated the same, adding that the cruise traditions overall have degenerated. These in-your-face, LOUD, crowded, floating cities are the new genre and yet hopefully the tradition of a peaceful but fun adventure of a classic cruise is not all but lost.
Our stateroom was OK. The bath sink water pressure lacked, but the shower was great. Bring your own toiletries, those given are cheap crap. The rest of the cabin is somewhat dated. Plenty of storage for clothing, the closet is huge (we had a superior balcony room). The balcony is sufficient, but the chairs are old, stained, burn-marked. The little plastic table is just stupid. The bed(s) were comfy, the linens and pillows soft. Old TV, who cares. The stateroom attendant was marvelous and personable. The mini bar is ridiculously over-priced and I would advise anyone who cares to hydrate themselves atop all the booze and salted food find a reasonable water source because getting bottled water on board is costly and laborious, and there is only the main buffet or the Promenade Coffee-house venue for "free" water other than bathroom sink taps. Their Refreshment stations (with free cup if you purchase the beverage packages) do not give water but only sugary marketed Coca-Cola products.