Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by carlandlyn
- Sail Date: March 2018
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
The trip always starts with the boarding process. As there were no Customs requirements this went very smoothly. We arrived early-ish to drop the bags off, expecting to stroll around the Rocks for a while, but the staff encouraged us to board. One thing we found on the whole trip was the staff and volunteers at all the ports (Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Wollongong) were very helpful and friendly - thanks.We were on-board within 15 mins.
We spent the first part of the day exploring and waiting for the cabins to be serviced, and spent time checking out all the facilities and organising dining options. Unfortunately the Guest Services staff were a little less than helpful with the Aussie language being a bit of a barrier, so just needed to be patient and explain things.
The most important item first - food. We ate in the MDR, Windjammer and Chops Grille primarily, with numerous stops at the Cafe promenade for Coffee and snacks. The food quality was very good, with Chops Grille high on the recommendation list for quality and service.
The MDR food was also of a high standard, with only a couple of disappointments throughout the trip with the description not entirely accurate as to what arrived. The staff at our table (Raluca and Igusti) were fantastic, and the company was great as well.
Windjammer offered many options, and there was plenty available. A downside here was that the Windjammer closed between 4 pm and 6 pm for cleaning - for those of us at a late dining time this was annoying as a late afternoon snack was missed, also it closed at 9 pm which meant no late night snacks except at Cafe Promenade. Breakfast was the biggest issue with patience again being key, but sometimes the egg and bacon were a little dried out. Tip here is go for the omelettes.
The selections at Cafe Promenade were limited at times, and could have had more Gluten or Sugar free options.
The entertainment was not quite as good as had been in the past, although it was reasonable. The Ice Skating show was a highlight, and new entertainers arrived for a Motown show which was the highlight of the stage entertainment. There were several individuals and bands playing afternoon and evening, so there was normally something to listen to, and they were all quite good.
As per normal there were all the standard bingo and quiz activities which were hit and miss, but learning to speak Italian with hand gestures was fun, thanks Guido (no that really is his name). Again there were plenty of options if you needed them.
The service provided by all the staff in the bars, dining rooms and room areas was of a high standard with good enthusiasm demonstrated by many. This was something we have always experienced, and this trip was no different. There are many to thank, but Henry in the room and Constantine and Leneath in the bar areas were very helpful.
The gym was quite good, but the Spa people were a little pushing, but the hard sell for activities, the restaurant and the Spa are things we learn to tune out and not bother us. The crew were very proactive with the handwash at all the dining locations, and most people abided by it, even greeting the young lasses at Windjammers with a good natured 'washy washy' as they entered.
The one downside was the queues experienced during peak times in the bars and dining areas. this was expected, but a handful of passengers thought that patience was for everyone else, not for them, and would push in etc. Also a number of the passengers were downright rude to the staff, expecting them to be at their beck and call, and that they were the staffs priority over other guests. RCI does need to have additional staff at these times though; the passengers know when things will get busy, surely the company is aware of that to?
We did not do any organised shore excursions, as this was more of a relaxing time for us, but the port staff and volunteers at each stop were fantastic. Quick to help, and with the right answers to the right questions, this was a definite bonus.
The trip was over too quickly, and the disembarkation was a little chaotic with only one disembarkation point creating a bottleneck on the way off the ship even though the times were staggered (as normal).
Now something that was hard to quantify, but it seemed to a number of us that some of the perks, like free room service, later hours at the Windjammer, upping costs at Johnny Rockets, etc. are starting to erode the overall quality of the experience. Not sure if we are getting too fussy, but we enjoy RCI because of the level of service, and those little things that make cruising fun. Hopefully they don't go too far.
Overall we hand a good time. The ship is in good knick, and the food was pretty good. The entertainment was not quite as good as we had experienced, but was overall still alright. But as usual the friendliness of the staff was a high point.
Oh, and for those that asked, the golf ball machine is still up on deck 12 aft.
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The room itself was slightly wider and longer than a standard balcony, but the layout would've been better if the lounge was by the window, but no big deal.
The other amenities were standard,
For a short cruise this was a great option.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
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WollongongIt is a working port, so buses were provided into the city (lotsa buses, no waiting). Here the volunteers were definitely out in force, and easily recognisable - and of great assistance. Not as much to do here unless you have a tour, but the beaches are great.View All 1 Wollongong Cruise Port Reviews
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