A Mixed Bag: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by geekguy1

Explorer of the Seas 3
Member Since 2010
163 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

A Mixed Bag

Sail Date: December 2011
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: Other
First, a word about some RCCL practices that I really dislike. The first one we encountered was RCCL immediately charging in advance for anything purchased before the actual sail date - for any tours that are booked, for gratuities if using the popular My Time dining, for beverage packages. Besides being unfair, it creates a problem if the cruise has to be cancelled or rebooked, and makes getting good value from any available shipboard credit a lot more difficult. This is definitely an area that is not at all customer friendly. Also, if you've sailed with them before and have a Crown & Anchor discount, you get no credit for Refer a Friend, which seems self-defeating. Add to that a policy that does not allow agencies to discount their cruises, wines priced about 3-4 times retail (!), a policy (unlike Princess) that does not allow customers to bring a bottle of their own wine (or even water) on board, a lack of inexpensive obstructed view outside cabins, and it becomes obvious why they More are not, and are unlikely to become, my cruise line of choice.

That said, the actual cruise was something of a mixed bag, but the large number of problems were generally minor and the important points mostly good. The downsides included many performers who equated loud with good, constant sales pitches (a minor example: at breakfast regular OJ was available, but you were also asked if you wanted to buy fresh squeezed), more difficulty than usual in finding a quiet public spot to sit and relax, and surprisingly limited hours for the dining rooms. A more important problem was with their communications, which manifested itself in several ways. First, the Customer Service desk often had trouble providing the correct answer to problems, and problems that repeated rarely, if ever, got the same answer twice. We also had difficulty getting straightforward, correct, answers from their Explorations Desk (for booking RCCL tours). But the lack of communications also showed up on disembarkation. While the procedures we were given were the same as every other cruise we've taken, when the actual disembarkation came we were told to just go to the deck 1 gangplank. This led to massive overcrowding, confusion, delays, and upset cruisers. It was the worst of all possible worlds.

On the upside, the ship was as attractive as any we've been on and the room made excellent use of its space, with excellent storage space and very good soundproofing in their Promenade cabin. Breakfast was reasonable, with many choices (NOTE: added choices at the rear of the Windjammer café). Lunch was often disappointing, with fewer choices than we're used to, and not as high a quality as we expected. Dinner was almost always very well done with again somewhat limited but sufficient good choices. Desserts, though, were mostly disappointing. Most important on a cruise where half the time was at sea, there were a large and varied selection of activities throughout the day. As examples, on our first sea day there were 3 different Trivia contests, a music lecture, several dance classes, a champagne art auction, a Pain Management seminar, Royal Poker Tour Texas Hold'em, bridge play, adult jewelry making seminar, and far too much more to list. We also felt the entertainment has improved a lot compared to our earlier cruises, and especially enjoyed the Ice Capades type show.

Perhaps best of all, the ship left from Bayonne (we live in NJ), which was a real plus for us. The ports of call were OK although they wouldn't have been our first choice. And the ship did fairly little to celebrate New Year's Eve: a little champagne for everyone; hats, noisemakers, and some LED rings, but limited quantities of all of them; and a lot of crowding, shoving, and balloons was about all they provided. This was our first NYE cruise, so maybe that is normal, but I doubt we'll book this same cruise again. It was also a younger crowd than we've normally experienced -- which is either good or bad, depending on your age and interests. Less

Published 01/21/12

Cabin review: PR8609 Promenade Stateroom

The room made excellent use of its space, with excellent storage space and very good soundproofing in their Promenade cabin.

Read All Promenade Stateroom (PR) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We were due to dock in Nassau mid-afternoon, but because of weather, we didn't get off the ship until just before 4 PM. This did not allow much time to tour Nassau, so we limited ourselves to going to the Straw Market, which is a large collection of stalls selling inexpensive souvenirs. If this is your thing, enjoy it, and be sure to negotiate the price. Again because of the weather, we were not going to be able to get to Coco Cay the next day, so it was another day in Nassau. We used it to go to Paradise Island with a day pass to, and tour of, the Atlantis Casino property. There was quite a bit to do, and the aquarium at the Dig, and other lagoon aquarium facilities, were enjoyable.
Read 5024 Nassau Reviews

Because we docked on New Year's Day, the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) closed an hour earlier than usual, and so our RCCL tour was reduced from 7-1/2 to 6 hours, although with no reduction in price. When asked, the Explorations desk said we'd be able to see everything included on the original tour, that they just cut out "wait times." Unfortunately that wasn't the case, and after the main bus tour and rushing through the Saturn V exhibit, some of us managed to quickly get on the Saturn Simulator, while those who tried for the IMAX movie got nothing. And with the less time available, none of the many other exhibits could even be glanced at. Interestingly, even if KSC had been open to their normal closing time, RCCL could not have provided the full 7-1/2 hour tour promised, so Caveat Emptor! We read many positive reviews of the 2 hour (or longer) bus tour of KSC, but we were not major enthusiasts. Our guide knew, and provided, more facts about the facility than we could remember -- or, after a while, care about. She was at her best when she related stories about her father, who worked there for many years, and where her real enthusiasm showed, instead just reciting a lot of fairly dry facts. Overall, though, this was a truly amazing facility and worth the time. Afterwards, as noted, we had time to only rush through the Saturn V exhibit, which was definitely the most interesting part of our tour, and a pity we couldn't have spent a lot more time there. The Saturn Simulator was another top-notch exhibit, and we believe all of the other, unfortunately missed, exhibit halls would have provided similar education and enjoyment.

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Member Since 2010
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