About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who cruised solo. I used the Explorer of the Seas as a vehicle to leisurely get home after intense touring in Australia and New Zealand. This was supposed to be my second non-charter Royal Caribbean sailing but my first one on the Radiance to go around New Zealand was cancelled (April 6 departure). Overall, this was my fourth Royal Caribbean cruise with the other 3 being full ship charters (Atlantis, Inception at Sea and Groove Cruise). I’m not new to cruising with 44 total completed cruises and the majority having been on Norwegian Cruise Line. Other cruise lines I’ve sailed are Celebrity, Princess and Carnival.
Reader’s Digest: Usually I write my reviews on a day by day format as I’ve experienced the items. However, given the length of this cruise, I realize you might not want to read all of it so here is a brief summation and for details you can read it all. The ship is only as good as it’s crew. The stateroom steward, dining team and bartenders were what made this trip. The cruise staff, minus Veronica who joined in Fiji, were disengaged and the DJ was the worst I’ve ever experienced on a non-chartered cruise. I truly believed my Sapphire Dining team could’ve done a better job engaging guests as cruise staff then most of the actual cruise staff ever did. As a solo cruiser and a shy one, I had to come out of my shell by day 4 to meet people my age after the ship botched solos events for my age demographic. Guest entertainers were some of the worst I’d ever seen at sea and I’ve done repositioning cruises on NCL. If you’re a solo cruiser, I would steer clear of this ship and cruise line if you’re shy. As for LGBT friendliness, the scavenger hunt to find the meet up spot was excessive. I was told repeatedly to go to guest services to look for a bulletin board only to be told it was moved to the library and the library said the meet up was at the R Bar on Deck 5. No one paid attention to this until Day 4 and by then it was a haphazard meet up. With Celebrity being such a supporter of LGBT equality, it’s beyond me why their sister brand is so far backwards.
DAY 1: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – EMBARKATION
BALCONY STATEROOM 7216: The balcony room can fit four people with a pull-out sofa bed which meant there was no coffee table inside the room. The bed was firm. I switched from side to side some nights to see if one side was better compared to the other. The side closest to the balcony seemed softer. The room itself was in good condition given the ship’s age. Dings, dents and scratches were covered over with paint or stickers. The light over the sofa was cracked but still functioned. The balcony was spacious and recessed into the superstructure. It provided more privacy then modern ones with the partitions. Being so far forward, the water drained inefficiently off the balcony when it rained causing it to pool for quite some time. The bathroom was the only portion of the room I found challenging. The water from the sink always ran hot, even all the way on cold. It changed once the ship reached the equator so perhaps the water temperature being taken in by the ship was hot to begin with and since the room was so far forward it was being heated by the ship more before it’s arrival to the room. The shower was equally scorching hot and would temperature fluctuate frequently during the 3PM to 6PM time frame. The water from the sink would come out annoyingly slow with no water pressure. Out of all the cruises I’ve taken it was also the first cruise where I’ve clogged a toilet. Just flush more frequently. At first I thought it was something I did but the toilet line for this section of the ship broke down twice during the voyage and the entire section wouldn’t flush. Perhaps this has more to do with the ship’s age then what I was doing.