Good time in spite of imperfections: Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by mamabears

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Good time in spite of imperfections

Sail Date: January 2012
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
This was my first 10-day cruise, and my first on Royal Caribbean. My daughter and I had done a 4-day cruise on Carnival last June, and I had such a wonderful time that it whetted my appetite for more. I was a little concerned about going from 4 days to 10, but it was the perfect length. I flew from Ohio on January 5 and met my daughter and her family at a hotel near the airport, so we could have a leisurely breakfast and then get on board the ship as quickly as possible. Because I am blind, we were processed quickly, efficiently, and courteously, and were having a delicious lunch by noon. I spent the first afternoon on board, getting oriented to my room and the location of the room of the rest of my family. I was delighted with the balcony, much nicer than the one we had on Carnival, and all the clever little places for storing my belongings. We were able to reserve this particular room, because it was close to the stairway, so I could easily find my way independently to the fitness More center and the spa, both of which were outstanding. More about that in a minute. I was not delighted with my room steward. He arrived to introduce himself at the exact moment that the emergency drill was to begin, and he insisted on talking to me while the captain's voice was blasting over the loud speaker. I tried to explain to him that I couldn't listen to both things at once, but he either ignored me or didn't understand English. Either way, it was rude and inconsiderate. He did an adequate job of cleaning, but I was disappointed that there wasn't one single animal formed out of a towel, something I found charming on Carnival. There were some other insignificant annoyances, like the remote to the tv not working, my room key suddenly not working about halfway through the cruise, and the safe failing to unlock one time, but generally speaking, I was very pleased. I enjoyed leaving the sliding glass door open to listen to the mesmerizing sound of the waves. I had planned to do a lot of reading and writing, but the movement of the ship was so relaxing that I found myself just sitting and enjoying the ride, except for the first night, when there was just a little too much rocking and rolling for my comfort. It was a little scary. I am very thankful that I don't get seasick.

Because eating is not the highlight of a cruise for me, as it is for many people, I will say only that the meals were good, but not exceptional. However, the head waiter at our table, Everton, was excellent, as were his assistant waiters. They were a bit baffled, however, when I asked for a Braille menu the first night, even though we had requested that when we made our reservations. They had no Braille menus, but I did receive the daily schedule of activities in Braille, each night when returning to my room. No cute towel dog, but at least there was Braille, so I could plan my day and coordinate it with the rest of my family. Each morning, I ordered room service for breakfast, which was delivered promptly every time.

I found the entertainment each night to be very good. I really appreciated the great humor from the comedians both on the first and the last nights of the cruise. They proved that you can be funny without profanity or bathroom jokes. I would like to have had a comedy club to go to on other nights of the cruise. However, there was a good variety of music throughout the ship and during the shows in the theatre. There were plenty of activities offered during the day, especially on "at sea" days, but the weather was so uncomfortable outside, that there was standing room only for many of the trivia games and other activities. The lectures about the ports of call on this cruise were very well done, but the sessions on crafts were disappointing for my granddaughters, as there were not enough materials to go around, and the woman teaching the craft was clearly not prepared for a large crowd of people. I had a great time trying the rock climbing wall. My balayer, Sam, was so friendly and helpful that he made it fun, while giving me a feeling of accomplishment as I smacked that bell at the top. I had been looking forward to a good soak in the hot tub in the Serenity area, but the water wasn't even as hot as bath water, and some kind of motor running constantly made the atmosphere anything but serene. I can't say enough good things about the staff at the fitness center. Bea, in particular, was very attentive and helpful as I jogged on the tread mill, and the spinning class was a good workout. I had a fantastic massage on one of the port days, while my family went to the beach. I'm not a beach-lover, but I thought I should go to Labadee with them, since there was so much hype about it. I think I would have enjoyed another day back on the ship better, because the beach was anything but relaxing. I had hoped to listen to the waves and feel the warmth of the sun, but it was a cloudy day, at least in the morning, and most of what I heard was the sound of zip-liners, roller coaster squeals, and men hawking their outrageously priced drinks.

The morning of our disembarkation went smoothly, except that we had planned to spend our time waiting in an area designated a family area, but there was only a television blaring there, with no way to turn down the sound and not a crew member in sight to assist. This was surprising, because the Adventure Ocean experience was terrific, especially for my younger granddaughter. In summary, our three-generation family had a great time, and while my daughter and her husband are loyal to Royal, I'm looking forward to trying other cruise lines. Less

Published 02/22/12

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