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Sail Date: January 2015
Hubby and I have been on 17 cruises with Crystal, Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and now Royal Caribbean. So - the bar for my review will be set high. 1. Entertainment - absolutely phenomenal shows - ... Read More
Hubby and I have been on 17 cruises with Crystal, Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and now Royal Caribbean. So - the bar for my review will be set high. 1. Entertainment - absolutely phenomenal shows - Mama Mia, Sonic Odyssey, Starwater - best shows of any cruise I've ever been on 2. Cabin - I give this an A-. It was spacious enough, good enough bath with glass/plexiglass shower door instead of curtains, sufficient storage - OK balcony (small). I would have given it an A if the bed hadn't be SO hard and if the cabin had been stocked with toiletries - really, you have to ask for shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/body lotion? And there are no pens or paper in the cabin! 3. Food. Silk was absolutely awful foodwise. Wonderland was not very tasty. Jamie's Oliver Italian was excellent. Devinly Decadence was terrible. Our waiter told us that the entire meal would not exceed 500 calories. This was hard to believe so after we had a starter and appetizer we asked the host about the calorie content - apparently each dish is under 500 calories. The only low calorie dessert was a brownie the size of a thimble. The food tasted no better than weight watchers. For 1650 calories (that we consumed) - the meal would have been more enjoyable anywhere else. Stay away from here. The "lido" buffet in our opinion is the 3rd best of all the ships we have been on (Oceania is #1 in my opinion and Crystal is 2nd for the buffet) so we ate there for dinner several times. If you did not make reservations for the fee specialty and non-fee restaurants, you were really out of luck - reservations were such a pain. 4. Northstar was nice - but do not wait 2.5 hours to do this as we did. 5. Internet was pretty good - much better than on other ships. But the reception in our forward cabin was always poor - it was always good midship or aft. The watch idea was pretty good - you open your cabin door with it, buy things with it, etc. The Royal IQ did not work - ever - I never could load the app on the ship. 6. Reservations - we made most of them about 3 months beforehand. We needed to change some reservations and making changes were so problematic - I still do not understand the process for changing restaurant reservations. Too much trouble. And seemingly no one knows what to do. You have to go from 1 place to another to make changes -- to no avail if the staff is too busy. I was hoping the Royal IQ app would let you make reservations for dining & shows but the app never would load - was unusable. 7. TV - large screen, you can see your account - but the front desk made a lot of errors and you cannot really count on the account being up to date or accurate at a given moment. 8. Beverage package - We found this annoying but the lower price cruise lines do this. Be aware that if you got the soda package, and you want diet soda other than diet coke, you need to go to one of the 2 multisoda fountain dispensing machines in the "lido" buffet. Once you fill the tumbler that comes with the package, you have to wait 15 min to refill (the machine knows your tumbler number). 9. Elevators - very strange. The elevators kept not stopping at the deck requested. Very annoying and many folks complained about this. 10. Service. The staff/passenger ratio appears to be low which means much less personalization. Many people disliked the ship for this reason. But this is a large ship. Nonetheless, the staff need more training to be more friendly (at least look friendly) if not at all talkative. Our cabin steward, Jenny, was excellent - it seems like these cabin stewards have more cabins to clean compared with other cruises we have been on. 11. Shopping - not as good as I thought it would be on a large ship. Surprisingly "The Shop" had very few basic amenities that you might need if you forgot some stuff at home. A lot of $19.99 or $10 t-shirt stuff -- and then the high-priced cartier stuff - not much in between. 12. The ship: Beautiful - with many lovely and comfortable nooks and crannies for reading. TwoSeventy and the areas leading to 270 are wonderful. Overall - I give this an 88% with the potential to move into the low 90s if the technological wrinkles are ironed out, the elevator situation is fixed, and the darned reservation system is improved (this last is the most important). I wanted to give 4.5 stars but could only give 4 or 5 so I went with 4   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
My wife, two teenaged daughters and I took a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of Seas in August 2007 from Cape Liberty/Bayonne. We drove to the port and found the parking and check-in quite easy. It was our first cruise in 8 ... Read More
My wife, two teenaged daughters and I took a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of Seas in August 2007 from Cape Liberty/Bayonne. We drove to the port and found the parking and check-in quite easy. It was our first cruise in 8 years and it was a toss-up between an all-inclusive holiday and a cruise. We particularly liked the option of being able to drive to the embarkation port. We really enjoyed the food in all the restaurants. Portofino's was just outstanding. Pay the $20 per head; well worth it. It really was fine dining with top class service. A higher level of dining and service than the regular restaurants. We got a 5 bottle wine package which we really enjoyed and would recommend it as you save about 20%. The snacks in between meals for the kids from the Promenade Cafe were about average. We went to all the shows and really enjoyed them. The ice show was the best of all them. Please note that you have have to get tickets for the which is relatively easy. We had two cabins next to each other overlooking the promenade. The accommodation was pretty good. The highlights for our family were the ports of call. Bermuda: we took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. Tickets available just outside as you disembark for $4 each way. 30 min ride. My girls favorite beach because of the high waves due to the after-effects of Hurricane Dean. St Maarten: My favorite part of the trip. We had an outstanding tour guide named Bernard whom I had booked with after good reviews on CruiseCritic.com. He called me and e-mailed me to confirm before our trip. He had an excellent GMC mini-bus with leather seats. He had a great sense of humor, was quite flexible about how much time we wanted at each place and was extremely well-informed. He kept us well entertained throughout our excursion which took 6 hours. We started off at the Dutch side, stopped for souvenir shopping at an inexpensive place, a bar and beach near the airport, Marigot on the French side, Orient beach for about two hours and some shopping later, which I found quite boring. Bernard charges $30 for a a daytrip and I think the cruise line would charge much more. His e-mail address is bernard1332002@yahoo.com, website is sxmtours.com. Once gain, he was outstanding and made our trip to St. Maarten very enjoyable and memorable. St Thomas: The most beautiful island on our cruise, according to my family. We had a full-day tour booked here with a nice lady named Burlie, whose details we got from Bernard. I was really impressed with Bernard because he called her from St. Maarten after our tour to make sure we were looked after. Our family really liked Burlie and her easy-going manner. She was again very flexible. Stops were at Mountain Top (best view of the cruise, you can see Magens Bay and about six other islands), high up for view of Caribbean side, Sapphire Beach and shopping. We just rented snorkel equipment and only had to swim about 5-7 minutes for excellent snorkeling on the right side of the beach. Saw about two dozen varieties of fish. No need to take a snorkel trip, just go to Sapphire Beach. Other people on our bus went to Coki Point which also had excellent snorkeling but was too busy for us. Burlie was happy for our group to go either beach and would pick us up or drop us off as we wanted. We were part of a group of two mini-buses. Burlie's associate's name was Conrad and he was a fun guy. Had Spider Man painted on his bus and we kept calling him Spider Man!! Burlie treated our whole family as special and I would like to recommend her strongly. Her website is viscenictours.com. San Juan: Took a one hour short bus tour. Nothing great. Saw Fort San Cristobal and Old San Juan. Had lunch at Senor Frogs, which is a boisterous but fun place. Kids loved it and Margaritas are excellent. Hope you got some good tips. I found CruiseCritic.com very useful in my trip planning. Read Less

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