Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by shadoweyeone
- Sail Date: June 2016
- Destination: Alaska
I know all of the cruise lines are starting to nickel and dime us to death over what used to be an ‘all-inclusive’ style of travel; but Royal has it down to an art. I mean things like $69 for a ride on the flow rider… please. Or how about the ice cream machine down most of the trip so that the only avenue was to go pay for it at Ben and Jerry’s (which my family doesn’t care for) or wait for the dining room and get some for desert.
Another issue for our particular situation was our flight home following the trip. We called Royal CSR before we booked our flights to be sure we could make an 11 am flight following our arrival at 6AM, we were told that it would be no issue. When we arrived on the ship and asked for the luggage valet (you have to book on board) we were told that it was only available for domestic travel and since we were stopping in Victoria BC we could not book it. Next we asked for a shuttle, thinking that booking through Royal would speed our departure from the ship and was told that they only run in the afternoon. Next we tried to tell them that we needed to be off very early since our flight was at 11 am and was told that they doubted we could make a flight that early unless we were willing to use self-assist (6 people and 11 bags.. not thanks) I know we packed heavy for this trip; but, did not know what weather to expect. As a last resort, they told us that since we have an elderly couple with us, we could opt for the wheel chair disembarkation and that would afford an earlier departure, so we set that up. The night before departure we get our luggage tags. They are zone 23 with an estimated departure of 840-850 AM… a little too late for our taste, so my wife goes back to the service desk and they tell her the number doesn’t matter since we are using wheel chair assist. On the day of departure, we arrived at the designated location about a half hour early and was told that being part of the wheel chair assist offered no sooner departure than any other. We complained… but still got off the ship at about 845 am. Luckily about 830, I received a notification from Alaskan airlines that our flight had been delayed to 130PM… disaster averted; but, not at the will of Royal.
Next issue, credit cards.
Due to our own mistake my daughter and her husband showed up at the pier with an expired credit card… oops. I gave them my AMEX and told them to use that as their guarantee, we used the same card for our room as well. As soon as we boarded, we went to customer service, called the kids credit card company and got them to authorize the card use, even though the new card was at home in the mail. The CSR at the ships desk said that there was no problem and switched their room to their credit card. During the cruise, royal would continually pre-authorize charges on all of our rooms (daughter, ours, and father’s) which is not big deal in and of itself; however, each authorization was an accumulation instead of an individual amount. As an example, day 1 $13.50 in tips authorized, day 2 $13.50 in tips however, $27.00 authorized instead of another $13.50 instead or removing the first $13.50 authorization. This continued throughout the cruise. No issue for my card as its limit is high enough; but, for the kids and dad… both card were denied twice during the trip and we had to go down and get them to straighten it out.
Remember back at the beginning of the trip when the originally added my card to my kid’s room then swapped it over when we got on board. Well due to the card preauthorization fiasco, no limit was left when the cruise was over, so they just charged my card for their room without any notice or asking for a cash payment… say the night before leaving the ship.
Food was good, not great; but still had a great time meeting the people and having the experience. The final course was the same filet we had the night before from chops grill. The wine was ok, not great, most vintage 2015-16. The head chef never even made an appearance. The chef that did explain the food was hard to hear in the area they set it up (a roped off area of the windjammer, not ideal. I usually enjoy the chef’s table on all of our cruises, this one was not up to the normal standards I have come to enjoy.
Oh the bed… if it could be called that:
The bed was so hard it was pitiful. We mentioned it to the service desk before ever leaving port and again every day to both our room steward and the service desk. It was simply hard as a rock. Every day, our steward would add a few more blankets under our sheets and finally on day 5 she added a one inch think piece of foam that stretched from our shoulders to hips and no longer. One night we even slept on the floor as our sofa was not a pull out… it felt about the same as the bed.
Food was average for cruise lines these days. A couple of the meals were better than average and couple were far below so as I said… average. One night I ordered the chops filet. A 9 oz. filet that costs an additional $16.95 per person for the three of us; however, one was way under cooked. Instead of sending it back, we just informed our waiter that we would eat around the center as I usually do not eat a full 9 ounces any way and he removed it from my bill, this was acceptable. I was a little disappointed that I had just visited chops the night before and paid $35 for, in essence, the same meal I just got in the dining room for $16.95.
A great steak, great service… value could be better ($35). If it weren’t for our waiter bring out extra appetizers and desserts just so we could try them even though we did not order them, we would have been more disappointed. The Scallops were amazing and filet was very good; but all in all, if I were to cruise on Royal again (most likely not) I would just get a chops filet added to my dinner in the MDR and save some money.
In a word, Awesome. The comedians, the stage shows and especially the ice show (in a very small arena) was very good. I liked that Royal split up the showings for the ice show by your lifeboat area. This gave most people ample opportunity to see it.
All in all I was not too impressed with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. This was our first cruise with them and we have considered trying them again in the Caribbean, I do not know if we will. We had a very bad experience on our last NCL cruise (my first on NCL – my wife’s second) but now years later we have decided to give them another chance.
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