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Last fall after visiting Universal Studios for a week my wife who is a big Harry Potter fan wanted to go back for Christmas however after checking prices and deciding that the park would be too crowded. We decided to take a cruise and found that this cruise to be the most affordable available. So early on the morning of December 23rd we left our home in Maryland in a light drizzle and headed to Orlando where we arrived 15 minutes behind schedule at 11:10 AM. After retrieving our luggage we found the Royal Caribbean representive who escorted us to the ground transportation departures area for our transfer to Port Canaveral we were on board a bus on off to Port Canaveral by 12:00 Noon we arrived at the cruise ship terminal 10 at 12:45 PM and after our luggage was off loaded by the porters for transfer to the ship we got off the bus and headed in to the terminal as we entered and were on line to go through Security the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the terminal. After some confusion about where to wait for the all clear and the fact that the staff at the terminal had to yell as no megaphones were available it created some confusion. Around 1:30 PM check in resumed and after clearing security we made our way to the check in counters which was done by decks and completing the mandatory norovirus questionnaire we got our welcome photo we found ourselves on board. Since our cabin was available we went to our cabin to drop off our carry on and jackets. We arrived at our cabin and found an invite to a reception for Crown and Anchor Society Members and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. On the way into the Windjammer I bought a soda package and got a tumbler which you had to use if you wanted to get soda from the Coke “Freestyle” Machines located in the Windjammer and on promenade deck by the Café Promenade. As the Windjammer started to get full we headed to the Promenade deck where we decided to check the menu for dinner and to have a snack at Café Promenade and then headed to our cabin where we met our cabin steward and took a quick powernap. At 4:00 PM we made our way to our muster station for the mandatory guest Assembly drill. All guest had to check in with a crew member who checked off our names on their list. After the evacuation drill we headed to the Viking Crown lounge for sailaway and a drink. As we watched the ship make its way down the channel the connects Port Canaveral with the Atlantic Ocean. We had nice views of the visiting Norwegian Breakaway who was in the port on a visit on her cruse from New York to the Caribbean and the Kennedy Space Center and its launch pads. However with in half hour we found the ship at sea and after dropping off the pilot with the pilot boat we were off to Haiti. We headed to our cabin where our luggage was awaiting us we unpacked and headed to the Windjammer for dinner. After dinner we headed to the Royal Promenade to buy some souvenirs and then it was off to the Palace theater for the Welcome Aboard show hosted by our Australian cruise director Leigh who welcome everybody on board advised of the number of kids on board along with the breakdown of passengers by country. There were lager numbers of guest from the US but also China, Canada, Brazil, Australia and several European Countries. The show which is more of a variety show had some singing, a preview of a scene form one of the production shows and finally some juggling and comedy by Dan Bennette. After the show we headed to Café Promenade for a late night snack some more shopping and then we watch the Bon Voyage parade which was very entertaining. After the parade it was back to the cabin and off to sleep as tomorrow was the first of two day at sea. After a very restful night of sleep we awoke on Christmas Eve around 9:00 AM and after dressing headed to breakfast at the Windjammer. After breakfast we headed to the Palace Theatre for a Welcome Back reception for Crown & Anchor Members. The reception which included free drinks had some entertainment and then an introduction of the Captain and the Ships officers. The new top tier guests were presented with their pins and a bottle of Champaign. The presentation ended with a presentation of upcoming cruse deals with the ships loyalty specialist. While the reception was fun it was not as good as the reception we attended on Carnival a couple of year ago. After the reception we headed to a very entertaining Chili Cook-off where two teams of the ships chefs made their version of Chili while my wife had some chili I want and got my lunch form the Windjammer. After lunch we headed down to deck three to Studio B for the Skating Show “Sprits of the Seasons”. Due to limited capacity of studio Beach performance was allocated based on you muster station. The show as always was outstanding as the show is performed on a rink which was about half the size of a standard rink. I would recommend if you travel on a Royal Caribbean ship with the skating show that you take one in it is a wonderful treat. After the show we changed and headed to the pool for some swimming and a snack. After our snack it was time to head to the cabin to get changed as it was formal night. After getting some photos taking by the ships photographers we headed to dinner. Where I had a delicious shrimp cocktail and a steak which was a rather tough cut of meat and a chocolate soufflé that was ok. My wife had two appetizers one was a salad the other was a soup, Shrimp Ravioli which was quite good and crème broule that was cold. After dinner we headed to the palace for the show “Fast Forward” This was a very good review of Music form movie musicals. The shows on Royal Caribbean are also very good as they feature a live band as well along with a full complement of singers and dancers. After the show we headed to the Royal Promenade to attend the Capitan’s Reception which featured free Champaign and an opportunity to get a photo taken with the Captain. After the Captain introduced the senior officers there was a sing a long of Christmas carols. After Caroling we headed to the Place showroom where we attended midnight mass conducted by Father Enrique Camacho from San Juan, PR the mass was very nice and it was good to see that some of the ship’s crew were able to attend. After mass it was off to bed as it was Christmas and time to spend a relaxing day at the beach at Labadee, Haiti. We awoke at 8:00 AM and shortly after Leigh our cruse director announced that Santa was on the Royal Promenade and would be available for photos in Studio B. After showering and getting dressed for the beach. I went down to deck three and found two long lines of young people lining up by last name to get photos with Santa and a much shorter line to get towels for the beach so I picked up our beach towels. After breakfast at the Windjammer we took some pictures from the deck and then returned to our cabin where we gave our Christmas tip to our cabin steward and headed to explore Labadee. As we were leaving the Ship a group of local school children in uniform arrived to visit the ship for a special Christmas celebration. After getting our photo taken by the ships photographer and by my wife in front of the ship. Labadee is a private resort operated by Royal Caribbean and is a peninsula shat is on the northern coast of Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola which after Cuba is the second largest island in the Caribbean. To get around there were several trams which bought people from the pier to the various attractions. We got on one and got off at the market where we found the locals to be very friendly and eager to show and sell you their goods. My wife was able to negotiate the price for some souvenirs. We then headed to the beach on the Southside of the resort which faced the ship and after getting our beach chairs and finding with the help of the local beach attendant a nice spot to site we headed for the water which was pleasant. For lunch we headed to one of four buffet barbeques that were operated by chefs from the ship. The menu included hot dogs, burgers, ribs and bbq chicken. With salads, beans and corn on the corn on the Cobb. There were also selections of deserts available. Along with some complementary drinks (water, ice tea, lemonade, fruit punch). For those wanted alcohol or soda the Bar Staff manned the bars and the waiters were all for Haiti. After lunch we returned to the beach and around 2:30 PM we headed back to the ship along with most every one else. We showered and headed to the Promenade Deck for a snack. After our snack we headed to pool deck for sail away and then up to the Viking Crown Lounge for a drink and to watch the sunset. We then returned to our cabin where we began the process of packing. At 6:30 PM we headed to dinner in the dining room where I had one of the best turkey diners I ever had along while my wife a delicious fish platter. After dinner we headed to the palace showroom to see “Don’t Look Back” the Boston Experience” which was not all that good as me and my wife along with about 1/3 to one half of the audience left. We headed back to the Viking Crown Lounge to listen to the band there and then to bed. Friday was out final day at sea and were up at 6:30 AM and were at breakfast on the Windjammer by 7:30 AM as the Windjammer was starting to get full we headed back to our cabin to pack and to decide which suitcase will would use as our carry off. Around 9:30 AM we headed to the Royal Promenade to look around and headed to the screening room to see one of my favorite Christmas movies the Polar Express. After the movie we headed up to the Johnny Rockets on deck 12 for lunch and the restaurant was full and the service was the slowest of any Johnny Rockets I found on any of our previous cruses even though extra staff and tables were brought up from the Windjammer it was slow but the Burger fries and onion rings were very good. I actually prefer Johnny Rockets to the Guys Burgers served on Carnival. After lunch we headed to the Royal Promenade so my wife could do some final shopping while I ceheckd out the college football scores from the sports bar. After making our purchases we headed back to the cabin to finalize our packing and for a nap for my wife while I watched some College Football on the TV. Around 5:30 PM we headed to the Royal Promenade we headed for the Royalpalooza Parade featuring the entire entertainment staff. After the parade we headed to our cabin to get our bags ready to be placed outside our cabin for pick up. Since we liked none of the choices for dinner in the dining room we had our final dinner at the Windjammer. After dinner we returned to our cabin to place our bags outside for pick up and headed to the Palace for the final production show of the cruise, the production was “Invitation to Dance” with choreography by Luis Van Amsell of ABC’s dancing with the Stars which was terrific. At the end of the show the was a farewell song featuring some of the ships officers. After the show I got my phot with Leigh our Cruise Director. Then it was off to bed since Tomorrow it would be off to home. Saturday we awoke at 5:30 am and after showering, dressing and dong some final packing of our carry off we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast and to view our arrival at the pier. Our ship would be the first ship to arrive and depart later that day form Port Canaveral’s new terminal 1. As we arrived we found that there were two Carnival Ships the Liberty and Sunshine, Disney’s Fantasy along with an unidentified ship from Aida. After breakfast we returned to our cabin and completed our packing and shortly after 8 AM we headed to deck for to the dining room which was our designated waiting lounge after finding a place to wait we had some coffee and pastries but we did not have to wait very long as our tag numbers were called at 9:15 AM and we headed off the ship and into the brand new state of the art terminal 1. After we got to the arrivals hall we were able to find our luggage go through Customs and by 9:45 AM we were out of the terminal and headed to our transfer to Orlando International Airport at 10:00 AM we departed and were at our terminal by 11:00 AM. Overall we were pleased with our Cruise but felt that the food service was not as good as it was on previous cruises with Royal Caribbean bur if Royal Caribbean offered an itinery we were interested in would sail again with Royal Caribbean.  

Christmas Cruise on the Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by DanWilJr

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Last fall after visiting Universal Studios for a week my wife who is a big Harry Potter fan wanted to go back for Christmas however after checking prices and deciding that the park would be too crowded. We decided to take a cruise and found that this cruise to be the most affordable available. So early on the morning of December 23rd we left our home in Maryland in a light drizzle and headed to Orlando where we arrived 15 minutes behind schedule at 11:10 AM. After retrieving our luggage we found the Royal Caribbean representive who escorted us to the ground transportation departures area for our transfer to Port Canaveral we were on board a bus on off to Port Canaveral by 12:00 Noon we arrived at the cruise ship terminal 10 at 12:45 PM and after our luggage was off loaded by the porters for transfer to the ship we got off the bus and headed in to the terminal as we entered and were on line to go through Security the fire alarm went off and we had to leave the terminal. After some confusion about where to wait for the all clear and the fact that the staff at the terminal had to yell as no megaphones were available it created some confusion. Around 1:30 PM check in resumed and after clearing security we made our way to the check in counters which was done by decks and completing the mandatory norovirus questionnaire we got our welcome photo we found ourselves on board.
Since our cabin was available we went to our cabin to drop off our carry on and jackets. We arrived at our cabin and found an invite to a reception for Crown and Anchor Society Members and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. On the way into the Windjammer I bought a soda package and got a tumbler which you had to use if you wanted to get soda from the Coke “Freestyle” Machines located in the Windjammer and on promenade deck by the Café Promenade. As the Windjammer started to get full we headed to the Promenade deck where we decided to check the menu for dinner and to have a snack at Café Promenade and then headed to our cabin where we met our cabin steward and took a quick powernap. At 4:00 PM we made our way to our muster station for the mandatory guest Assembly drill. All guest had to check in with a crew member who checked off our names on their list. After the evacuation drill we headed to the Viking Crown lounge for sailaway and a drink. As we watched the ship make its way down the channel the connects Port Canaveral with the Atlantic Ocean. We had nice views of the visiting Norwegian Breakaway who was in the port on a visit on her cruse from New York to the Caribbean and the Kennedy Space Center and its launch pads. However with in half hour we found the ship at sea and after dropping off the pilot with the pilot boat we were off to Haiti. We headed to our cabin where our luggage was awaiting us we unpacked and headed to the Windjammer for dinner.
After dinner we headed to the Royal Promenade to buy some souvenirs and then it was off to the Palace theater for the Welcome Aboard show hosted by our Australian cruise director Leigh who welcome everybody on board advised of the number of kids on board along with the breakdown of passengers by country. There were lager numbers of guest from the US but also China, Canada, Brazil, Australia and several European Countries. The show which is more of a variety show had some singing, a preview of a scene form one of the production shows and finally some juggling and comedy by Dan Bennette. After the show we headed to Café Promenade for a late night snack some more shopping and then we watch the Bon Voyage parade which was very entertaining. After the parade it was back to the cabin and off to sleep as tomorrow was the first of two day at sea.
After a very restful night of sleep we awoke on Christmas Eve around 9:00 AM and after dressing headed to breakfast at the Windjammer. After breakfast we headed to the Palace Theatre for a Welcome Back reception for Crown & Anchor Members. The reception which included free drinks had some entertainment and then an introduction of the Captain and the Ships officers. The new top tier guests were presented with their pins and a bottle of Champaign. The presentation ended with a presentation of upcoming cruse deals with the ships loyalty specialist. While the reception was fun it was not as good as the reception we attended on Carnival a couple of year ago. After the reception we headed to a very entertaining Chili Cook-off where two teams of the ships chefs made their version of Chili while my wife had some chili I want and got my lunch form the Windjammer.
After lunch we headed down to deck three to Studio B for the Skating Show “Sprits of the Seasons”. Due to limited capacity of studio Beach performance was allocated based on you muster station. The show as always was outstanding as the show is performed on a rink which was about half the size of a standard rink. I would recommend if you travel on a Royal Caribbean ship with the skating show that you take one in it is a wonderful treat. After the show we changed and headed to the pool for some swimming and a snack. After our snack it was time to head to the cabin to get changed as it was formal night. After getting some photos taking by the ships photographers we headed to dinner. Where I had a delicious shrimp cocktail and a steak which was a rather tough cut of meat and a chocolate soufflé that was ok. My wife had two appetizers one was a salad the other was a soup, Shrimp Ravioli which was quite good and crème broule that was cold. After dinner we headed to the palace for the show “Fast Forward”
This was a very good review of Music form movie musicals. The shows on Royal Caribbean are also very good as they feature a live band as well along with a full complement of singers and dancers.
After the show we headed to the Royal Promenade to attend the Capitan’s Reception which featured free Champaign and an opportunity to get a photo taken with the Captain. After the Captain introduced the senior officers there was a sing a long of Christmas carols. After Caroling we headed to the Place showroom where we attended midnight mass conducted by Father Enrique Camacho from San Juan, PR the mass was very nice and it was good to see that some of the ship’s crew were able to attend. After mass it was off to bed as it was Christmas and time to spend a relaxing day at the beach at Labadee, Haiti.
We awoke at 8:00 AM and shortly after Leigh our cruse director announced that Santa was on the Royal Promenade and would be available for photos in Studio B. After showering and getting dressed for the beach. I went down to deck three and found two long lines of young people lining up by last name to get photos with Santa and a much shorter line to get towels for the beach so I picked up our beach towels. After breakfast at the Windjammer we took some pictures from the deck and then returned to our cabin where we gave our Christmas tip to our cabin steward and headed to explore Labadee. As we were leaving the Ship a group of local school children in uniform arrived to visit the ship for a special Christmas celebration. After getting our photo taken by the ships photographer and by my wife in front of the ship. Labadee is a private resort operated by Royal Caribbean and is a peninsula shat is on the northern coast of Haiti on the Island of Hispaniola which after Cuba is the second largest island in the Caribbean. To get around there were several trams which bought people from the pier to the various attractions. We got on one and got off at the market where we found the locals to be very friendly and eager to show and sell you their goods. My wife was able to negotiate the price for some souvenirs.
We then headed to the beach on the Southside of the resort which faced the ship and after getting our beach chairs and finding with the help of the local beach attendant a nice spot to site we headed for the water which was pleasant. For lunch we headed to one of four buffet barbeques that were operated by chefs from the ship. The menu included hot dogs, burgers, ribs and bbq chicken. With salads, beans and corn on the corn on the Cobb. There were also selections of deserts available. Along with some complementary drinks (water, ice tea, lemonade, fruit punch). For those wanted alcohol or soda the Bar Staff manned the bars and the waiters were all for Haiti. After lunch we returned to the beach and around 2:30 PM we headed back to the ship along with most every one else. We showered and headed to the Promenade Deck for a snack. After our snack we headed to pool deck for sail away and then up to the Viking Crown Lounge for a drink and to watch the sunset. We then returned to our cabin where we began the process of packing. At 6:30 PM we headed to dinner in the dining room where I had one of the best turkey diners I ever had along while my wife a delicious fish platter. After dinner we headed to the palace showroom to see “Don’t Look Back” the Boston Experience” which was not all that good as me and my wife along with about 1/3 to one half of the audience left. We headed back to the Viking Crown Lounge to listen to the band there and then to bed.
Friday was out final day at sea and were up at 6:30 AM and were at breakfast on the Windjammer by 7:30 AM as the Windjammer was starting to get full we headed back to our cabin to pack and to decide which suitcase will would use as our carry off. Around 9:30 AM we headed to the Royal Promenade to look around and headed to the screening room to see one of my favorite Christmas movies the Polar Express. After the movie we headed up to the Johnny Rockets on deck 12 for lunch and the restaurant was full and the service was the slowest of any Johnny Rockets I found on any of our previous cruses even though extra staff and tables were brought up from the Windjammer it was slow but the Burger fries and onion rings were very good. I actually prefer Johnny Rockets to the Guys Burgers served on Carnival.
After lunch we headed to the Royal Promenade so my wife could do some final shopping while I ceheckd out the college football scores from the sports bar. After making our purchases we headed back to the cabin to finalize our packing and for a nap for my wife while I watched some College Football on the TV. Around 5:30 PM we headed to the Royal Promenade we headed for the Royalpalooza Parade featuring the entire entertainment staff. After the parade we headed to our cabin to get our bags ready to be placed outside our cabin for pick up. Since we liked none of the choices for dinner in the dining room we had our final dinner at the Windjammer. After dinner we returned to our cabin to place our bags outside for pick up and headed to the Palace for the final production show of the cruise, the production was “Invitation to Dance” with choreography by Luis Van Amsell of ABC’s dancing with the Stars which was terrific. At the end of the show the was a farewell song featuring some of the ships officers. After the show I got my phot with Leigh our Cruise Director. Then it was off to bed since Tomorrow it would be off to home.
Saturday we awoke at 5:30 am and after showering, dressing and dong some final packing of our carry off we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast and to view our arrival at the pier. Our ship would be the first ship to arrive and depart later that day form Port Canaveral’s new terminal 1. As we arrived we found that there were two Carnival Ships the Liberty and Sunshine, Disney’s Fantasy along with an unidentified ship from Aida. After breakfast we returned to our cabin and completed our packing and shortly after 8 AM we headed to deck for to the dining room which was our designated waiting lounge after finding a place to wait we had some coffee and pastries but we did not have to wait very long as our tag numbers were called at 9:15 AM and we headed off the ship and into the brand new state of the art terminal 1. After we got to the arrivals hall we were able to find our luggage go through Customs and by 9:45 AM we were out of the terminal and headed to our transfer to Orlando International Airport at 10:00 AM we departed and were at our terminal by 11:00 AM. Overall we were pleased with our Cruise but felt that the food service was not as good as it was on previous cruises with Royal Caribbean bur if Royal Caribbean offered an itinery we were interested in would sail again with Royal Caribbean.
 
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9591
We found our cabin to be spacious with plenty of storage space and space to move around.
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