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Embarkation at Sydney was smooth considering approximately 4000 passengers. Room was available at 1.30pm. Entering the ship was amazing with the "promenade" - shops, bar, cafe running down the centre of the ship. Staff readily available to explain drinks packages and pre purchase of specialty dining packages (dining packages available throughout the cruise though) - Night 1 was 50% off specialty dining. In no particular order: Provision of Information: Like other cruises, each day there is a "Cruise Compass" or "Information Sheet" for the next day activities. Each day there would be spelling mistakes within the Cruise Compass. We even had one day where the cruise compass mentioned last chance to obtain that Christmas gift for friends/family....obviously no one paid any attention that this was a January cruise. Other cruises I have been one there would be a daily loud speaker announcement from the Cruise Director about essential information for that day's port/tendering operations or key activities for the day. Not here. There was a TV channel that I discovered by accident that had a daily announcement (along with other information). For example our first port was (Mare) - there was no information regarding how the tendering operation would work (eg was it going to be a ticketing system or simply show up etc.) - I had to go to guest services and ask. This information was also not provided at the information session on the ports we were visiting. Tendering was on a first come, first serve basis. Lines snaked from deck 1 to deck 2 and past guest cabins to get off the boat. Alcohol - I had pre purchased a drinks package. Be aware that this will only cover drinks up to USD $12. Assuming you can find a drinks menu at the bars, cocktails generally were very average. One shot of alcohol in most instances. Certain beers ran out as the cruise progressed. Some bars adhered to the $12 rule, others did not - eg if a drink was $14, so bars would charge the difference, others not. The unlimited drinks package (now called deluxe drinks package) included specialty coffee / hot chocolates. Bar closing times - be aware, I was surprised that bars (including the night club / casino) would close by approx 1.30am. Other venues closed much earlier. Staff - Obtaining a drink at a bar was not pleasant. It was hit and miss who the bar staff would serve next. Unfortunately, there were few pleasantries/smiles from bar staff during our 12 night cruise. It seemed to me that the staff were tired and lacked enthusiasm. Main Dining Room - we had "My Time Dining" and the experience was average. Food was hit and miss. Some nights were a 2+hr experience. Some nights our table was full of dirty dishes and cups waiting to be taken away. For 5 nights we ate at the MDR. Some meals were sensational and other times were sent back. Service in the MDR was average other than our last 2 nights (I could be somewhat speculating, but possibly because of the desire for gratuities to be paid). If we had an allocated dining time, I wondered whether our experience would have been different. Buffet - sensational - this would be the best cruise buffet experience I have had. Food was plentiful, hot and good variety. Obviously at times, the buffet would be busy, but normally not a problem obtaining a table. 24hr food - one outlet serving pre made rolls/wraps, sweets and terrible slices of pizza. Entertainment - Theatre - Two shows each night. The RCI cast/shows not up to the same standard as I have seen on other cruise lines from Sydney. On our 12 night cruise, most of the entertainment was external. Worth mentioning as the shows were sensational were the Killer Queen show, BABBA (ABBA tribute show obviously) and Scottish performer Kaitlyn Carr. It was a pity that the Star Lounge was not utilised for more intimate comedy shows. Ice Skating - there was an Ice Skating show periodically on throughout the cruise allocated by Muster station numbers. Other guests could show up to watch the show but were only allowed access 5 mins or so before show time. The show itself was worthwhile. Excellent performance. Unfortunately for most of the cruise, the ice rink was unavailable to guests as new performers were in training. Room - Balcony room. Room steward very friendly and helpful. No issues with room. I think RCI should move away from the pump pack shampoo/conditioner though. Ports - Non RCI shore excursions were able to be purchased on Mystery Island and at the port (upon disembarking) at Suva and Lautoka . Suva and Lautoka vendors are negotiable on price. Activities - no shortage for those into usual trivia, bingo, art, flowrider (different sessions twice each day for surfing / boogie boarding), rock climbing (only open certain hours per day), gym, spa, shuffle boards, arcade etc. Johnny Rockets - the 50's diner - specialty restaurant. You certainly do not leave hungry. Unlimited sides (eg fries, onion rings, chilli cheese fries, etc) and a main + soda for USD $6.95. Beers / Shakes / Floats extra. Good, but not sensational. Some burgers lacked sauce that we needed to ask for more "special" sauce and bread rolls not always "fresh". I would have thought that bread was baked daily and/or defrosted daily so that it was at least "fresh", but not always the case at JRs. In summary - fantastic ship, but it seemed to me that there was a lack of enthusiasm from many members of staff. 24hr food options and early closing of bars disappointing. Would I be back on RCI? - I doubt it.

Was expecting the WOW factor - but not the case

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by Cruising0106

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Embarkation at Sydney was smooth considering approximately 4000 passengers. Room was available at 1.30pm.

Entering the ship was amazing with the "promenade" - shops, bar, cafe running down the centre of the ship.

Staff readily available to explain drinks packages and pre purchase of specialty dining packages (dining packages available throughout the cruise though) - Night 1 was 50% off specialty dining.

In no particular order:

Provision of Information: Like other cruises, each day there is a "Cruise Compass" or "Information Sheet" for the next day activities. Each day there would be spelling mistakes within the Cruise Compass. We even had one day where the cruise compass mentioned last chance to obtain that Christmas gift for friends/family....obviously no one paid any attention that this was a January cruise.

Other cruises I have been one there would be a daily loud speaker announcement from the Cruise Director about essential information for that day's port/tendering operations or key activities for the day. Not here. There was a TV channel that I discovered by accident that had a daily announcement (along with other information). For example our first port was (Mare) - there was no information regarding how the tendering operation would work (eg was it going to be a ticketing system or simply show up etc.) - I had to go to guest services and ask. This information was also not provided at the information session on the ports we were visiting. Tendering was on a first come, first serve basis. Lines snaked from deck 1 to deck 2 and past guest cabins to get off the boat.

Alcohol - I had pre purchased a drinks package. Be aware that this will only cover drinks up to USD $12. Assuming you can find a drinks menu at the bars, cocktails generally were very average. One shot of alcohol in most instances. Certain beers ran out as the cruise progressed. Some bars adhered to the $12 rule, others did not - eg if a drink was $14, so bars would charge the difference, others not. The unlimited drinks package (now called deluxe drinks package) included specialty coffee / hot chocolates.

Bar closing times - be aware, I was surprised that bars (including the night club / casino) would close by approx 1.30am. Other venues closed much earlier.

Staff - Obtaining a drink at a bar was not pleasant. It was hit and miss who the bar staff would serve next. Unfortunately, there were few pleasantries/smiles from bar staff during our 12 night cruise. It seemed to me that the staff were tired and lacked enthusiasm.

Main Dining Room - we had "My Time Dining" and the experience was average. Food was hit and miss. Some nights were a 2+hr experience. Some nights our table was full of dirty dishes and cups waiting to be taken away. For 5 nights we ate at the MDR. Some meals were sensational and other times were sent back. Service in the MDR was average other than our last 2 nights (I could be somewhat speculating, but possibly because of the desire for gratuities to be paid). If we had an allocated dining time, I wondered whether our experience would have been different.

Buffet - sensational - this would be the best cruise buffet experience I have had. Food was plentiful, hot and good variety. Obviously at times, the buffet would be busy, but normally not a problem obtaining a table.

24hr food - one outlet serving pre made rolls/wraps, sweets and terrible slices of pizza.

Entertainment - Theatre - Two shows each night. The RCI cast/shows not up to the same standard as I have seen on other cruise lines from Sydney. On our 12 night cruise, most of the entertainment was external. Worth mentioning as the shows were sensational were the Killer Queen show, BABBA (ABBA tribute show obviously) and Scottish performer Kaitlyn Carr. It was a pity that the Star Lounge was not utilised for more intimate comedy shows.

Ice Skating - there was an Ice Skating show periodically on throughout the cruise allocated by Muster station numbers. Other guests could show up to watch the show but were only allowed access 5 mins or so before show time. The show itself was worthwhile. Excellent performance. Unfortunately for most of the cruise, the ice rink was unavailable to guests as new performers were in training.

Room - Balcony room. Room steward very friendly and helpful. No issues with room. I think RCI should move away from the pump pack shampoo/conditioner though.

Ports - Non RCI shore excursions were able to be purchased on Mystery Island and at the port (upon disembarking) at Suva and Lautoka . Suva and Lautoka vendors are negotiable on price.

Activities - no shortage for those into usual trivia, bingo, art, flowrider (different sessions twice each day for surfing / boogie boarding), rock climbing (only open certain hours per day), gym, spa, shuffle boards, arcade etc.

Johnny Rockets - the 50's diner - specialty restaurant. You certainly do not leave hungry. Unlimited sides (eg fries, onion rings, chilli cheese fries, etc) and a main + soda for USD $6.95. Beers / Shakes / Floats extra. Good, but not sensational. Some burgers lacked sauce that we needed to ask for more "special" sauce and bread rolls not always "fresh". I would have thought that bread was baked daily and/or defrosted daily so that it was at least "fresh", but not always the case at JRs.

In summary - fantastic ship, but it seemed to me that there was a lack of enthusiasm from many members of staff. 24hr food options and early closing of bars disappointing.

Would I be back on RCI? - I doubt it.
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