Presidents Week 2012 : Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by shansp

Explorer of the Seas 3
Member Since 2012
22 Forum Posts

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Presidents Week 2012

Sail Date: February 2012
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Other
First - I must explain that I had NO IDEA that President's Week meant that we'd be on a ship with 1100+ kids. President' week is not a week long break for schools in PA....their lucky if they get to keep the Monday off if they don't lose it to snow days. So of course we weren't too pleased with that as we are a couple in our mid 30s (my husband's in his early 40s) without kids. There were not many travelers like us on the ship - the vast majority were families w/ children and then a few older couples. That being said, I will still give an objective review of this cruise as RCL can't control that. We had cruised Celebrity's new ships (Solstice and Eclipse) the past 2 years and enjoyed them thoroughly but we had previously cruised w/ RCL and always felt they were more "fun" ships than Celebrity. That's why we decided on RCL this year. We chose Explorer simply to avoid air-fare for the trip as the air was very expensive that week. Neither the itinerary or ship itself was a big More draw for us as we had cruised Voyager class before and had been to all ports of call other than Labadee.
The ship itself is what we remember of the Voyager - nice/big/cool features (namely the promenade). However, you can see the age of the ship in areas, especially the staterooms (see below). There was a smell as some reviewers mentioned sometimes I smelt it faintly in our bathroom, as well as some of the public restrooms, it seems like its from the running water/sinks. We smelt it pretty badly when we walked the aft of deck 4 one afternoon.
The dining was REALLY disappointing. Windjammer was one of the worst selections of food I've ever encountered on a cruise - that includes 1 Carnival which I felt had sub-par food. We opted for "My Time" nightmare....very disorganized. We had a standing 7:30 reservation - we waited in line to be seated every night - usually for about a half hour. This sometimes caused us to miss shows, which really annoyed me. The first night we were served ice cold coffee and tea, each time we ordered the fish option it was either fishy or dry. I have to mention here that it was Ash Wed. during our cruise and they really didn't offer any good Lenten options for those that observe. I feel they also missed a fun opportunity to do something for Fat Tuesday that week too. All of the servers that waited on us each night (we had many as we were seated in different sections each night) were all very nice and accommodating. The issues are really more process driven it seems - the people are great. Though I heard a rumor that some of the waiters were sick on this cruise so I think we felt something that we never felt before on a cruise - the sense of the dining room being short-staffed.
Portifino's - unimpressive. We've done the speciality restaurants on each cruise and had actually done this one on Voyager before and remembered being impressed - not this time. Service was lack luster and food was just ok.
Pool deck - Forget it. Total nightmare as you could imagine with that many kids. We had no desire to be near the pool itself but the first nice day at sea we walked the decks 3-4 times trying to secure even 1 chair to lay out and couldn't because of all of the "savers". Finally we found one, dragged it to an area that had more room and my husband and I shared it until someone felt bad enough that they gave us one of their "saved" chairs. In regards to the "adult" pool - it didn't exist on this cruise - there were many kids in the Solarium each day.
Spa - good services, high prices, high pressure sales pitch at the end of each service - enough said.
Gym - unfortunately I only made it once but my husband went more often, it was quite nice.
Bar Service/Starbucks - very good service and good drinks almost everywhere. The only word of caution would be the wine. We really enjoyed the wines in the dining room but found the wines we ordered in any other bar outside of the dining room to either taste "turned" or just not good.
Entertainment - Ice show was really good, Quest was really fun, the Schooner bar had a good piano player at night, production shows were ok. We spent quite a few nights in the Casino. Not much to say about the casino other then we lost - allot!
Overall - I don't think I'll do Explorer again, definitely won't sail out of NYC/NJ on presidents week again (or even take vacation that week if we can avoid it) but will still sail on RCL again. Still looking to do either Oasis or Allure but think I'll give Voyager class a rest. All that being said - we made the best of it - it was 11 days that were weren't at work, we had beautiful weather and got to spend some time together in the Caribbean....there are much worse things in life. Less

Published 02/29/12

Cabin review: 8246

Cabin - Very dated decor. Good enough size (we had a balcony on the 8th deck) and I'm not a light packer. Balcony looked a bit beat up. Bathroom was tight (as they usually are) but fit all our toiletries somehow. The water in our sink had absolutely no temp. control at times - it was usually scalding hot - which made it tricky to brush your teeth or wash your face at times. Our cabin steward Hylton was awesome - very pleasant and accommodating.

Port and Shore Excursions

Didn't even get off the ship - we were there from 7-1...not worth even trying to do anything. We had been to San Juan before and walked Old San Juan so we didn't feel compelled to even try to squeeze anything into that day. We instead secured 2 lounge chairs (which is a challenge on this ship) and made this an extended pool day.
Read 2985 San Juan Reviews

Always love St. Maarten/St. Martin. We opted to just do Orient Beach this year - unfortunately no time for the Dutch side this time. We had been to Orient before so we knew what to expect and it was just as nice as we remembered - our only complaint was that there were soo many ships in St. Maarten that day (I think there were around 4 or 5)that the beach was much more crowded than the last time we were there. We also felt this over crowding our last port of call, Labadee. They had 2 Voyager class ships at the private island at the same time so there were over 6,000 passengers on the island at once. Overall this stop (Labadee) was nice, would like to go back when it's less crowded.

St. John Tour

We booked the St. John ferry/tour on the ship for our stay in St. Thomas since we had been to St. Thomas quite a few times already. We absolutely loved St.'s probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever much untouched beauty! The shore excursion was really not worth the really only provided a ferry ride over then a quick 2 minute walk to the downtown area then you took a taxi on your own or walked around the downtown area on your own. We walked around a bit, had a nice lunch at a place near Cruz Bay then took a taxi to Trunk Bay - ABSOLUTELY heavenly. It's a must see!

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Member Since 2012
22 Forum Posts
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