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This was our first experience on Royal Caribbean after several cruises on Carnival. We paid a lot for a Jr. Suite and our expectations were pretty high. Boarding at the Seattle port was not a good experience. We arrived at 10am in a Lyft and it took him 45 minutes to get through the crowd to drop us off. Another ship was in port and it was also unloading and loading like ours was. The port was an absolute mess. We were supposed to have priority boarding because of the Suite. We had a priority line but had to board with everyone else - no priority was given. That was a disappointment. Once we did get on board our room was available at the promised time of 1pm. We liked this system, it seems a lot better than the nebulous times that Carnival would give us. We had no complaints at all about the Jr. Suite. It was very spacious and had a large balcony and a tub in the bathroom instead of a shower stall. We really liked the all of the drawers and storage space. We came nowhere close to filling them up. Our Cabin Steward Paul was just great the entire time that we were onboard. We could be out of our room for only 45 minutes and it would be clean by the time we got back. If he saw us in the hall he would drop everything and come running to open our door for us. Overall the ship was in great shape and very clean. Very seldom did we see any used cups left anywhere. We enjoyed the adults only section in the middle of the ship. Even the pool areas where they allowed children did not seem that wild or have the constant bass thump/thump and drunken louts that Carnival seems to attract. We really enjoyed the main foyer and all of the activity that went on there. We especially enjoyed the pub and were regulars there every night. We made friends with several of the bar staff and looked forward to interacting with them every night. There were several little areas on the ship where you could just sit and relax and watch the people walking by on the foyer. We really liked this and were always discovering new places throughout the duration of the voyage. We went on one excursion - the Whale Watching tour in Juneau - and this was fantastic. It was extremely well organized by the RCI staff and the tour company that they used did a great job. We saw a ton of whales - just as promised. We did not like the constant nickel and diming all of the time. From the moment we arrived at the port they were selling lanyards for holding the cruise cards. We were constantly harassed by people trying to upsell something - especially the fine dining restaurants. They even charged to eat at Johnny Rockets. We also did not like the constant pandering by the Cruise Line to pay their employees tips over and above what is already charged as a daily gratuity. They included this in their TV advertising and even provided their employees with envelopes and literature to solicit more money. This type of thing borders on slimy. Perhaps they should pay their employees better rather than trying to nickel and dime the passengers to do so. The worst part of the cruise was the main dining room. It was totally disorganized and the food was crap. I wouldn't feed it to my dog. We filled out dining times online before we went on the cruise however that was meaningless as anyone could show up at anytime. The logistics of seating people was an absolute disorganized joke. It was hard to get served and when you did they wanted the appetizer, entree and desert order all put in at once - just like a production line. When the food did show up it was absolutely disgusting slop. The first night at dinner my wife had a steak which was inedible. The following day at lunch I had the pasta special which was disgusting garbage. We refused to eat at the dining room after this and ate at the Windjammer Buffet the entire time which was surprisingly good. We will be contacting RCI about this issue shortly as it was unacceptable given the amount of money we paid. Thankfully the food at the Windjammer was great. They had several stations and if you looked around you could find almost anything and it was high quality. The main chef Raj even came up and made sure that we were enjoying our meal. I am sure the chef of the main dining room would be afraid to show his face. We did find some of the cleaning staff in the Windjammer to be a bit aggressive and thought that the passengers were an inconvenience to them. There seemed to be a lot of the male staff just standing around talking while tables remained dirty. One night we barely got fed. We came back from a day in port at 8pm. We decided to stop for a drink before going to grab some dinner. We went up for dinner at 9pm and the dining room was closed. We went to area in the main foyer however they were only offering small pizza slices and tiny finger sandwiches. It was hard to get full on this and was quite disappointing. We didn't experience any of the shows at the main stage however we did see some shows in the main foyer on the walkway. They were so/so but the crowd seemed to like them. We found the guy entertaining in the pub to be a bit repetitive and annoying. We took our own luggage off for disembarkation and it went very smoothly. We were off the ship and waiting for our Lyft driver before 7am. Our experience of the Seattle port was much better then embarkation. In summary it was a pretty good cruise. We are looking to up our game from Carnival and we are not sure if Royal Caribbean is the right choice or not. We hated the nickel and diming and the pandering for tips by the cruise line. The quality of the main dining room was unacceptable given how much we paid for this cruise. Long story short - RCI did not totally win our loyalty based upon this cruise.

Good overall despite horrible dining room

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by northern_hiker

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Junior Suite
This was our first experience on Royal Caribbean after several cruises on Carnival. We paid a lot for a Jr. Suite and our expectations were pretty high.

Boarding at the Seattle port was not a good experience. We arrived at 10am in a Lyft and it took him 45 minutes to get through the crowd to drop us off. Another ship was in port and it was also unloading and loading like ours was. The port was an absolute mess.

We were supposed to have priority boarding because of the Suite. We had a priority line but had to board with everyone else - no priority was given. That was a disappointment.

Once we did get on board our room was available at the promised time of 1pm. We liked this system, it seems a lot better than the nebulous times that Carnival would give us. We had no complaints at all about the Jr. Suite. It was very spacious and had a large balcony and a tub in the bathroom instead of a shower stall. We really liked the all of the drawers and storage space. We came nowhere close to filling them up.

Our Cabin Steward Paul was just great the entire time that we were onboard. We could be out of our room for only 45 minutes and it would be clean by the time we got back. If he saw us in the hall he would drop everything and come running to open our door for us.

Overall the ship was in great shape and very clean. Very seldom did we see any used cups left anywhere. We enjoyed the adults only section in the middle of the ship. Even the pool areas where they allowed children did not seem that wild or have the constant bass thump/thump and drunken louts that Carnival seems to attract.

We really enjoyed the main foyer and all of the activity that went on there. We especially enjoyed the pub and were regulars there every night. We made friends with several of the bar staff and looked forward to interacting with them every night.

There were several little areas on the ship where you could just sit and relax and watch the people walking by on the foyer. We really liked this and were always discovering new places throughout the duration of the voyage.

We went on one excursion - the Whale Watching tour in Juneau - and this was fantastic. It was extremely well organized by the RCI staff and the tour company that they used did a great job. We saw a ton of whales - just as promised.

We did not like the constant nickel and diming all of the time. From the moment we arrived at the port they were selling lanyards for holding the cruise cards. We were constantly harassed by people trying to upsell something - especially the fine dining restaurants. They even charged to eat at Johnny Rockets.

We also did not like the constant pandering by the Cruise Line to pay their employees tips over and above what is already charged as a daily gratuity. They included this in their TV advertising and even provided their employees with envelopes and literature to solicit more money. This type of thing borders on slimy. Perhaps they should pay their employees better rather than trying to nickel and dime the passengers to do so.

The worst part of the cruise was the main dining room. It was totally disorganized and the food was crap. I wouldn't feed it to my dog. We filled out dining times online before we went on the cruise however that was meaningless as anyone could show up at anytime. The logistics of seating people was an absolute disorganized joke. It was hard to get served and when you did they wanted the appetizer, entree and desert order all put in at once - just like a production line. When the food did show up it was absolutely disgusting slop. The first night at dinner my wife had a steak which was inedible. The following day at lunch I had the pasta special which was disgusting garbage. We refused to eat at the dining room after this and ate at the Windjammer Buffet the entire time which was surprisingly good. We will be contacting RCI about this issue shortly as it was unacceptable given the amount of money we paid.

Thankfully the food at the Windjammer was great. They had several stations and if you looked around you could find almost anything and it was high quality. The main chef Raj even came up and made sure that we were enjoying our meal. I am sure the chef of the main dining room would be afraid to show his face. We did find some of the cleaning staff in the Windjammer to be a bit aggressive and thought that the passengers were an inconvenience to them. There seemed to be a lot of the male staff just standing around talking while tables remained dirty.

One night we barely got fed. We came back from a day in port at 8pm. We decided to stop for a drink before going to grab some dinner. We went up for dinner at 9pm and the dining room was closed. We went to area in the main foyer however they were only offering small pizza slices and tiny finger sandwiches. It was hard to get full on this and was quite disappointing.

We didn't experience any of the shows at the main stage however we did see some shows in the main foyer on the walkway. They were so/so but the crowd seemed to like them. We found the guy entertaining in the pub to be a bit repetitive and annoying.

We took our own luggage off for disembarkation and it went very smoothly. We were off the ship and waiting for our Lyft driver before 7am. Our experience of the Seattle port was much better then embarkation.

In summary it was a pretty good cruise. We are looking to up our game from Carnival and we are not sure if Royal Caribbean is the right choice or not. We hated the nickel and diming and the pandering for tips by the cruise line. The quality of the main dining room was unacceptable given how much we paid for this cruise.

Long story short - RCI did not totally win our loyalty based upon this cruise.
northern_hiker’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Junior Suite
Cabin J3 1658
We were very pleased with this Cabin. It was on the 10th floor port side and fairly close to the Royal Suite. We found the room to be very quiet and everything was easily accessible as you were either going up just one floor to the Windjammer Dining Room and pool area or you could take the stairs down to the 5th floor where most of the activity was.

The cabin was very spacious and the beds were comfortable. There was tons of storage space for everything and we didn't feel claustrophobic at all. The balcony was huge and offered a lot of privacy. We had no complaints about this cabin whatsoever.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews