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We are doing a review of Explorer of the seas Xmas / New Years cruise as there where many, many highs but as with most things in life some negatives and we wanted to let people know our experiences on the cruise, from our perspective. We want to ensure that people understand that the positives as well as the negatives need to be highlighted other wise large corporations will not know what areas they are excelling in or need to improve. Food and service in specialty restaurants was fantastic and the wind jammer was really good as well. It is a Beautiful ship and our daughter did not want to leave. I think Explorer will do even be better next year if they can tweak a few issues in their service areas. Adventure Ocean for the kids is outstanding our daughter loved going there and the staff were exceptional. Christmas in the main dining room was a big disappointment. One Xmas cracker each on the table with a limited menu that was not very Xmas focussed. We were asked to move from our designated table as a family wanted to be sat together (which was fine) but we were seated into a corner table at a fire exit door and could not even see the main dinning room. The staff then forgot about us and we could not get a drink for close to an hour, they lost our sea pass card for another hour after we had given it to them. In saying that, staff continued to ask us for it despite having lost it themselves. This became very frustrating. The menu was not at all a Christmas menu except for a pudding which turned out to be a chocolate pudding. The standard of food was very poor that day (I paid for the lobster and it was so dried out it was nearly in edible), staff just were so confused and had to take our order twice, a bad christmas dinner to start the first full day on the cruise was disappointing, after all it was the start of the festive season we spent a long time planning and saving for. We know many felt the same way about the Xmas dinner experience when talking about it with other guests. I hope they will do it better next year as they were given lots of feedback from many other disappointed guests. In fact the service supervisor (very apologetic) admitted that it was an all round awful day, he stated the 2nd sitting service gave him goose bumps just thinking about it. We thought that summed it up well and appreciated his candour. In all it was a great holiday. The main dinning room staff did what they could to make amends the next 3 times we visited the Safire dinning Room. We never felt comfortable there after the first night and the staff knew it and we're very tentative around us. We still had the same terrible table location, even after saying we were not happy. What we learnt is if you give up your spot in the dinning room make sure you can select a table your happy with. In the end the specialty dining and windjammer became our regulars, again both being fantastic. Where they did well on Xmas was the morning, Santa came on board via the cat walk on the promenade, leading the kids down to the ice skating rink where it's was snowing and Santa gave out presents to all the kids, fantastic! We were told by management a lot of the crew were new and undergoing training. Not the best for a full ship in holiday season and many bartenders were inexperienced while some very rude to patrons who were actually being polite, often accepting being treated very poorly. We heard some bar staff openly complaining about conditions (e.g not getting tips from passengers who had packages and prepaid gratuities in front of the customers and bickering amongst each other during service.) On several occasions we would hear certain staff bark "card" at patrons snatching it from their hands. When this happened to us we asked if they could at least say card please to which a staff member said "just give me your card". I think they were not used to working in Australian waters where our culture bases tipping on merit and not expectation. A guy my partner did one of the tours with noticed the same as us, telling him one of the casino staff had told him the staff in general hate coming this side of the globe because of the tips not being as good. It was explained to us by client services this is because the ship uses a different wage system to us Southern hemisphere mob, but knowing this, management need to look at their staff wage structure when sailing these waters perhaps. Many others we talked to had similar experiences with some bar staff and came to similar conclusions regarding the difference in tipping cultures. Many of the problems regarding service we believe stem from insufficient and inexperienced staff to cater for the number of passengers. The live shows and entertainment were fantastic the cruise director Graham Seymour is great and the captain was also great. The performers where so good which well made up for the few negatives. The pool area is awesome and the Viking bar or Dizzy's was fantastic the views from up there are amazing and the bar staff were some of the best on the ship. Guest services are amazing, always friendly, polite and accommodating. Our cabin attendant Vanessa was excellent, she fell in love with our daughter and visa versa. She was fantastic and could not do enough for our family. We had a great room (Aft junior Suite) and Vanessa always kept it in amazing shape, our daughter loved the towel animals. We had a great size balcony and enjoyed time there having breakfast and a few quiet drinks. We love sitting back in the Schooner bar listening to the piano man and meeting lots of new and interesting people. The ship is beautiful and the crew are constantly doing work maintaining her, the art works throughout the ship are amazing and we took a week just to orientate ourselves and explore her. It was such an amazing experience and as we have said we would definitely do it again even possibly with RCCL but possibly explore a different ship next time. As before, overall we had a ball, after all when you have spent a small fortune for that special Christmas holiday you have to focus on the good and move past the negatives. The pool parties were so much fun and going to a live show each night after your meal was the best experience. The ice skating show was absolutely fantastic, they are so talented. In saying that, we do feel we had been making a few concessions for RCCL throughout the period before the cruise then sometimes during the cruise. Before the cruise RCCL had confirmed in writing that Explorer was going to have the Dreamwork's Experience 3D cinema and a kids pool (I have the emails) after we had paid we received an email then a phone call saying the information given was wrong. They did however offer to move us onto Voyager of the seas but we could not change our holidays with work to coincide with voyagers itinerary. We stayed with Explorer and they gave us some onboard credit as compensation, which made up for the misinformation earlier. The shore excursions by RCCL over all were good but Auckland was very rushed. It was meant to include a relaxing harbour sites on a yacht. The tour included a museum tour and a visit to the aquarium. The whole tour was rushed sitting on a bus for 30 minutes to get to the museum and yacht when it was only located on the next pier 5 minutes walk away from the ship. The yacht cruise was reduced to only 30 minutes so we only just got out in the harbour and had to turn around. The maritime museum tour was also rushed and we had less than an hour to get through the aquarium. All the other excursions were great fun and the guides were terrific. Overall it was an awesome holiday yet there is room for improvement in a few areas, this is our first cruise and have nothing else to compare it to but we would not except rude behaviour from staff in a four or five star hotel so why should people just except it from a highly rated cruise line. RCCL need to address why some of their staff are not happy and ensure the clients experience of the cruise is not negatively affected by resentful staff. However we tended to say to ourselves it is a one off here and there and just continued to make concessions for the behaviour not letting it spoil our holiday. We did come away feeling like we had a great holiday and we will cruise again but may look at other lines for a point of comparison and we may find this is just how cruise ships are or may find that other lines have improved certain areas of service, we may avoid the festive season next time too. Many people rave about RCCL but we talked to many people on the cruise that had sailed RCCL often and they had the same issues as us with explorer and then we met people who said they could not fault anything! Overall a bumpy start and poor Xmas experience in the main dining room but then the majority was awesome with the exception of a distinct declining standard from some (not all) of the bar staff. What a trip! Loved so many things about the ship and we were determined to not let the bumps dominate the fantastic time we had and become the focus of our hard earned holiday but it is however important to give feedback honestly.

Explorer Christmas New Years Cruise; Good, Definitely not WOW

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by markandallan

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We are doing a review of Explorer of the seas Xmas / New Years cruise as there where many, many highs but as with most things in life some negatives and we wanted to let people know our experiences on the cruise, from our perspective. We want to ensure that people understand that the positives as well as the negatives need to be highlighted other wise large corporations will not know what areas they are excelling in or need to improve.

Food and service in specialty restaurants was fantastic and the wind jammer was really good as well. It is a Beautiful ship and our daughter did not want to leave. I think Explorer will do even be better next year if they can tweak a few issues in their service areas. Adventure Ocean for the kids is outstanding our daughter loved going there and the staff were exceptional.

Christmas in the main dining room was a big disappointment. One Xmas cracker each on the table with a limited menu that was not very Xmas focussed. We were asked to move from our designated table as a family wanted to be sat together (which was fine) but we were seated into a corner table at a fire exit door and could not even see the main dinning room. The staff then forgot about us and we could not get a drink for close to an hour, they lost our sea pass card for another hour after we had given it to them. In saying that, staff continued to ask us for it despite having lost it themselves. This became very frustrating.

The menu was not at all a Christmas menu except for a pudding which turned out to be a chocolate pudding. The standard of food was very poor that day (I paid for the lobster and it was so dried out it was nearly in edible), staff just were so confused and had to take our order twice, a bad christmas dinner to start the first full day on the cruise was disappointing, after all it was the start of the festive season we spent a long time planning and saving for. We know many felt the same way about the Xmas dinner experience when talking about it with other guests. I hope they will do it better next year as they were given lots of feedback from many other disappointed guests. In fact the service supervisor (very apologetic) admitted that it was an all round awful day, he stated the 2nd sitting service gave him goose bumps just thinking about it. We thought that summed it up well and appreciated his candour.

In all it was a great holiday. The main dinning room staff did what they could to make amends the next 3 times we visited the Safire dinning Room. We never felt comfortable there after the first night and the staff knew it and we're very tentative around us. We still had the same terrible table location, even after saying we were not happy. What we learnt is if you give up your spot in the dinning room make sure you can select a table your happy with. In the end the specialty dining and windjammer became our regulars, again both being fantastic.

Where they did well on Xmas was the morning, Santa came on board via the cat walk on the promenade, leading the kids down to the ice skating rink where it's was snowing and Santa gave out presents to all the kids, fantastic!

We were told by management a lot of the crew were new and undergoing training. Not the best for a full ship in holiday season and many bartenders were inexperienced while some very rude to patrons who were actually being polite, often accepting being treated very poorly. We heard some bar staff openly complaining about conditions (e.g not getting tips from passengers who had packages and prepaid gratuities in front of the customers and bickering amongst each other during service.)

On several occasions we would hear certain staff bark "card" at patrons snatching it from their hands. When this happened to us we asked if they could at least say card please to which a staff member said "just give me your card". I think they were not used to working in Australian waters where our culture bases tipping on merit and not expectation. A guy my partner did one of the tours with noticed the same as us, telling him one of the casino staff had told him the staff in general hate coming this side of the globe because of the tips not being as good. It was explained to us by client services this is because the ship uses a different wage system to us Southern hemisphere mob, but knowing this, management need to look at their staff wage structure when sailing these waters perhaps. Many others we talked to had similar experiences with some bar staff and came to similar conclusions regarding the difference in tipping cultures. Many of the problems regarding service we believe stem from insufficient and inexperienced staff to cater for the number of passengers.

The live shows and entertainment were fantastic the cruise director Graham Seymour is great and the captain was also great. The performers where so good which well made up for the few negatives. The pool area is awesome and the Viking bar or Dizzy's was fantastic the views from up there are amazing and the bar staff were some of the best on the ship. Guest services are amazing, always friendly, polite and accommodating.

Our cabin attendant Vanessa was excellent, she fell in love with our daughter and visa versa. She was fantastic and could not do enough for our family. We had a great room (Aft junior Suite) and Vanessa always kept it in amazing shape, our daughter loved the towel animals. We had a great size balcony and enjoyed time there having breakfast and a few quiet drinks. We love sitting back in the Schooner bar listening to the piano man and meeting lots of new and interesting people. The ship is beautiful and the crew are constantly doing work maintaining her, the art works throughout the ship are amazing and we took a week just to orientate ourselves and explore her. It was such an amazing experience and as we have said we would definitely do it again even possibly with RCCL but possibly explore a different ship next time.

As before, overall we had a ball, after all when you have spent a small fortune for that special Christmas holiday you have to focus on the good and move past the negatives. The pool parties were so much fun and going to a live show each night after your meal was the best experience. The ice skating show was absolutely fantastic, they are so talented.

In saying that, we do feel we had been making a few concessions for RCCL throughout the period before the cruise then sometimes during the cruise. Before the cruise RCCL had confirmed in writing that Explorer was going to have the Dreamwork's Experience 3D cinema and a kids pool (I have the emails) after we had paid we received an email then a phone call saying the information given was wrong. They did however offer to move us onto Voyager of the seas but we could not change our holidays with work to coincide with voyagers itinerary. We stayed with Explorer and they gave us some onboard credit as compensation, which made up for the misinformation earlier.

The shore excursions by RCCL over all were good but Auckland was very rushed. It was meant to include a relaxing harbour sites on a yacht. The tour included a museum tour and a visit to the aquarium. The whole tour was rushed sitting on a bus for 30 minutes to get to the museum and yacht when it was only located on the next pier 5 minutes walk away from the ship. The yacht cruise was reduced to only 30 minutes so we only just got out in the harbour and had to turn around. The maritime museum tour was also rushed and we had less than an hour to get through the aquarium. All the other excursions were great fun and the guides were terrific.

Overall it was an awesome holiday yet there is room for improvement in a few areas, this is our first cruise and have nothing else to compare it to but we would not except rude behaviour from staff in a four or five star hotel so why should people just except it from a highly rated cruise line. RCCL need to address why some of their staff are not happy and ensure the clients experience of the cruise is not negatively affected by resentful staff. However we tended to say to ourselves it is a one off here and there and just continued to make concessions for the behaviour not letting it spoil our holiday.

We did come away feeling like we had a great holiday and we will cruise again but may look at other lines for a point of comparison and we may find this is just how cruise ships are or may find that other lines have improved certain areas of service, we may avoid the festive season next time too. Many people rave about RCCL but we talked to many people on the cruise that had sailed RCCL often and they had the same issues as us with explorer and then we met people who said they could not fault anything! Overall a bumpy start and poor Xmas experience in the main dining room but then the majority was awesome with the exception of a distinct declining standard from some (not all) of the bar staff. What a trip! Loved so many things about the ship and we were determined to not let the bumps dominate the fantastic time we had and become the focus of our hard earned holiday but it is however important to give feedback honestly.
markandallan’s Full Rating Summary
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Ages 3 to 6
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Cabin Review

Cabin 7692
Great Cabin, although a bit of a walk to the elevators. It has a great sized balcony and we had a fantastic room attendant.
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