Explora I Review

4.5 / 5.0
41 reviews

Loved it but room for improvement

Review for the Western Caribbean Cruise on Explora I
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JTor
10+ Cruises • Age 50s

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Cabin
Value for Money
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Dining
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Sail Date: Jan 2024

This was our first cruise post lockdown, and we were keen to try this new line as our old favourite, Crystal, went bankrupt. Goal to compare Explora with past experiences on Regent and Silversea, and with “new Crystal” (upcoming). We were not disappointed and would definitely sail with them again, but there were a couple of significant areas where we need them to improve if they want to be at the top of our list.

Raves: best food at sea, every restaurant distinctive in appearance and menu; “I forgot this restaurant was on a cruise ship”. We loved the variety of venues on the ship for food, bars, pools, entertainment spaces - no one big space where “everyone goes” - ship never felt crowded. The most basic cabin was beautiful and spacious. Efforts to minimize hassle (eg. safety drill was less complicated than on most ships; minimal announcements). Captain was inspiring and gave a wonderful and honest lecture about her experience as a pioneering woman in shipping. Very few added expenses once on board. Guests onboard were more varied than we’ve seen on other lines (country of origin, age, diversity) which we loved. We’re in our early 50’s but we met a honeymooning couple in their 30’s who were also having a great time - that’s a big plus.

Boos: the experience leading up to our cruise was terrible and this is the #1 improvement we need to see from Explora. Despite many calls and emails we were NEVER able to get the website to work so we could not book dining or excursions in advance, and our agent had to do a “workaround” to check us in and get our documents. In the end there was no problem at all when we arrived to the ship, but we spent 2 weeks with anxiety (over the Christmas/NY period) that we would not be allowed to board due to multiple email reminders that we had not checked in yet and “check in is closing”. I was so very disappointed in my efforts to contact the company and resolve these issues… promise after promise that they were “fixing it” but they never did. In a perhaps related issue, when we tried to book a future cruise onboard we discovered there is neither any loyalty programme, nor any discount for booking onboard. Overall it feels like the “office” part of Explora is totally divorced from the “onboard experience” part, and a great ship is being dragged down by rather awful customer service shoreside.

Cabin Review

We were in the lowest-priced option on deck 7 and this was more than adequate, in fact larger than we have experienced for balcony cabins on other luxury lines. The balcony was deeper than usual, with room for a lounger that fit 2, as well as a small table and chairs; we had room-service breakfast there one morning and it was spacious enough. The bathroom is shower only, but it’s a large shower and did not feel cramped. Only one sink. Very nice vanity table with built in Dyson hairdryer that I appreciated. More than ample storage space for our 1 week Caribbean cruise but might be tight for a world cruiser. Bed large and comfortable, room very quiet and dark at night, which we love. They don’t call them butlers but imply that every “suite” (cabin) has a butler-like person; we did not experience that. Our attendant kept the room clean and was unobtrusive but I was unaware of any service beyond what I would normally expect from a good cabin steward.

Port Reviews

Santa Marta

First time in this town and liked it more than I expected. We chose a ship’s tour to the nearby Tayrona national park, which is very beautiful and recommended. If you choose to go, ask a lot of questions about the boats being used to take you there, as we had an unacceptably bumpy (dangerous) ride on small speedboats in bumpy seas. However, the town itself was very near to the (industrial) dock, walking distance, many people on and along the beach, restaurants etc. Normal precautions to be taken with belongings, but it would be a fun town to just walk around - very vibrant, and people friendly.

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