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Explorer of the Seas Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1999 reviews
12 Awards

Serious staffing issues; COVID outbreak; Food & Bev Struggles

Review for Explorer of the Seas to the Western Caribbean
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10+ Cruises • Age 40s

Rating by category

Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: May 2022
Cabin: Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 8316 balcony
Cake in Windjammer celebrating all 26 ships back at sea
Coco Beach Club Cabana
Sunset near Cuba
Formal night

We were so happy to return to cruising, and we absolutely expected things to be different as the industry tries to come back from the pandemic. However, the serious issues on this ship were avoidable. First let me say the staff who were onboard were wonderful - friendly, welcoming, and as accommodating as they could be under the circumstances. But it was painfully obvious that the staff was reduced significantly. Frankly, it looked like around 60% of the staff were present compared to "the before times". Staffing issues after a pandemic are totally understandable - but RCCL is booking these ships at capacity (also painfully obvious), and was for some reason totally focused on getting all 26 ships back to sea. Poor business decision if you don't have the staff to support it. Cruises are a business and need to recoup losses, but they are selling an experience. If the experience isn't as promised, people will go to other lines.

Embarkation was done well. Disembarkation was easy for us, but we had the Key (which was 100% worth it, especially given the waiver of the room service fee. more on that later).

The dining room experience was actually two different experiences for us. Our waiter, Renaud, was there all week and was wonderful. The bar staff and assistant waiters changed throughout the journey. The food on the first 3 days was NOT GOOD. The "seared tuna" entrée was actually a 1/4 inch thin tuna steak, overcooked and barely recognizable. 3 of us sent that back (just one example). The kitchen was clearly having major issues. Then, when we stopped in Jamaica, a bunch of crew left and a bunch of new crew came onboard (more on that later). Suddenly the food in the dining room was EXCELLENT - right back to the level we experienced pre-pandemic. We were grateful for that! Also - there are large blocks of time when the only food available is room service or the Cafe Prominade. The line was always wrapping all the way back to the guest relations desk (which always had a large line of it's own - 24/7). Room service wait times were up to two hours, after you waited on hold for 35 minutes to place the order. The coke machines were never working correctly, and two of the four are in the windjammer which means they aren't available when it's closed. Positive: Izumi sushi was perfect. Once we figured out that we could order room service ahead of time (called at noon for delivery at 9pm), that worked well.

Cabin Review

Ocean View Balcony

The cabin was excellent. No issues apart from what one expects for a 20 year old ship (not enough charging ports, small shower, announcement speaker not working). Our cabin steward, Dion, was WONDERFUL!

10 Helpful Votes
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