280 Bayonne (Cape Liberty) to Caribbean - Eastern Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We are long time cruisers of Royal Caribbean, but the Explorer of the Seas was a new experience. The crew were all wonderful. We had the best stateroom attendant and dining room wait staff that you could have ever ask for. All of the ... Read More
We are long time cruisers of Royal Caribbean, but the Explorer of the Seas was a new experience. The crew were all wonderful. We had the best stateroom attendant and dining room wait staff that you could have ever ask for. All of the staff were wonderful. The food was good. The room was wonderful, and very comfortable. Our only complaint which was big -- cigarette smoke was everywhere on the 4th and 5th floors and the open centrum area on the 3rd floor to the dining room. The promenade on the 5th floor is open on both ends with stair cases and below on the 4th floor is the casino. Also a staircase opens from the casino to the promenade in the middle of the promenade and the smoke just fills the promenade area in the afternoon and nighttime. We could not enjoy any of the nightclubs in that area as they were located just outside the casino doors or the staircase. It was really awful, since my husband and I are both very allergic to smoke. So, I ended the cruise very sick! To go from the back of the ship to the front, we always had to go to the 6th or 7th floor and walk the halls. We were recently on the Navigator of the Seas and I did not remember that problem at all. The ports that we stopped were great, and the cruise of wonderful except for the cigarette smoke. Hope that issue is addressed when the ship goes to drydock in March 2015. Also, we had 6 in our party and had 4 massages. That seems to be an area that has also changed. No one thought their massage was very good. Heard the same complaint from people on Celebrity. Have they changed companies? Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Where should i start.Getting into cape liberty was a mess. I think it was because a lot of people were beinging dropped off. They presented a traffic problem. We have cruise six or seven times out of Cape Liberty and never experienced this ... Read More
Where should i start.Getting into cape liberty was a mess. I think it was because a lot of people were beinging dropped off. They presented a traffic problem. We have cruise six or seven times out of Cape Liberty and never experienced this much of a problem. The ship was hit by a rouge wave, no one was hurt and it was handled well. We lost two life boats. The captain kept us well informed The menu was suppose to be different each night. But it did not live up to RCCl quality. The shows were good.Although this crowd did not like Lead Zeplin. Now for our cruise director the TURK wonderful, wonderful. After 47 cruises on different cruise lines, he was the best. His partner was really in tune with him. Now getting off the ship took three hours, a lot of people missed their flights at 1:30. We were lucky i booked ours at 5:20, so we were alright. BIA Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Critique of Explorer of the Seas departing Port Liberty 10/9/14 Great time until debarkation. The Captain announced that we would be an hour late as there was a maximum speed which he was not allowed to exceed. 'Tough sailing because ... Read More
Critique of Explorer of the Seas departing Port Liberty 10/9/14 Great time until debarkation. The Captain announced that we would be an hour late as there was a maximum speed which he was not allowed to exceed. 'Tough sailing because of the weather.' I do not know the reason for the speed limit. If he went 2 nautical miles faster he would have made up the time in the apx 1,000 nautical miles which we traveled. Breakfast was not extended. He did not tell us to 'sleep in'. More later in the note. Food was very good, except that we kept sending it back because it was barely warm. Our regular waiters were smart and efficient. They used the microwave to 'hot' the soup. Unfortunately we got various stations for breakfast and lunch. My omelet was hot but Marilyn's scrambled eggs were cold. Cold went back As octogenarians we could not climb the 'wall'. There was a lecturer for history who was good and one for art who was also good. The rest of the time we stayed indoors or out with books. All of the books in the library were at least 10 years old. We brought current books. The cabin lady was good, I had no complaints as she knew how to make the bed. The shows were good; even the comedian (whom I usually don't like). The ship visited the tropics but the interior was chilly; like it needed someone to turn on the heat. The weather prevented us from going to one port. We were issued credit for the landing fee of about $35. It came with strings; it had to be spent on board. Back to the tedious debarkation. We were assigned to the refrigerator; the ice rink. I understood when we were there for a while that three times the number of people in the room made for lots of body heat. Hundreds were forced to stand. I pity those who were uncomfortable. We were tied up at the dock but no excuse for not having us have a late wake-up and late breakfast. When released from the staging area we had to go to Deck 1. The corridors were packed with people not moving. Fortunately no one fainted from the closeness. When we arrived at the bus after about 1/2 hour we noted that for part of the ride it was a single lane (alternating direction) because construction material block one roadway. Great planning!! Refreshments were announced for the ice rink; only in the almost 2 hours we were there they ran out and were not replenished. Fresh water was not available and the guy in charge of the crowd did not know where there was any fresh water. Very incompetent and untrained. I was up at 7 AM, finished breakfast at 8 AM and got to load my car at apx, 12 Noon. There were hundreds behind me as we were green 12. I should have stayed for lunch except that the Customs guys would have left. I loved the small Celebrity ships, RC owns them but has learned nothing from them. To return to RC I need a big $ inducement. Most of those traveling with us will spread the word of our debarkation and the speed limit placed on the ship. Probably something wrong with the electrical motors. Norman Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This is the 4th time my husband and I have sailed on the Explorer, and its the first time I can honestly say I was very dissapointed. We hardly saw our room attendant to ask any questions, although our room was always cleaned for us. The ... Read More
This is the 4th time my husband and I have sailed on the Explorer, and its the first time I can honestly say I was very dissapointed. We hardly saw our room attendant to ask any questions, although our room was always cleaned for us. The bartender in the casino bar (the woman) was very friendly,but we tried to ignore the tall gentlemen, as he always was grouchy. I say Rude Cruise because it was a different class of people traveling on the ship. The pushing and shoving, and sitting on trash cans by the elevator was not acceptable. I guess thats what you get now when you travel out of Bayonne. Avoid the "tee shirt" sale. You will get trampled ! Our Captain was excellant. He avoided the bad weather the best he could. Although we didn't stop at St. Maartin, he sailed West and found us sunshine. The Windjammer...is another story. The mongolan grill is nice, but the cooks don't understand..mild, or spicy. They just make it all one way...bland. People are still saving seats, and didn't get up after they were done their meals. Many times we had to take our plates outside. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
After 13 cruises on the Explorer maybe I'm tired of the Ship and tired of the ports that it travels to .As usual the room attendant and waiters were the best .We usually get a balcony but all my favorite ones were gone.I picked a ... Read More
After 13 cruises on the Explorer maybe I'm tired of the Ship and tired of the ports that it travels to .As usual the room attendant and waiters were the best .We usually get a balcony but all my favorite ones were gone.I picked a great window room and l would strongly recommend it.It had two large windows to gaze out the front of the Ship .At dinner we had a table for 6 and our table mates were from N.Y. and they were a pleasure to be with .The only problem l had was in Labadee .I'm not a beach person so like to walk on my favorite path that takes me over to the other side where l can watch my wife swim ,watch the end of the zip line and have my favorite drink at bar . BUT NO .The path was blocked off for a private party probably for gold card guests .No walk , no drink , no happiness .I reported my displeasure at the front desk . I did not expect a call from the Captain but anyone would have OK .Enough of me already .   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
My wife and I have cruised many times before but all on another cruise line. This was our first time on RCCL and tried not to make comparisons but it is not easy. That being said we had a good time on the Explorer. The food in the dining ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised many times before but all on another cruise line. This was our first time on RCCL and tried not to make comparisons but it is not easy. That being said we had a good time on the Explorer. The food in the dining room is very good and you can order two dinners or two desserts if you want. How-ever it was hard to find anything warm or hot at the buffet. Breakfast was the worst. I tried the scrambled eggs the first day and they were stone cold and watery. I tried the pancakes and French toast and it was just as bad. The French toast was like a rock one day. I suggest an omelet made fresh right in front of you for breakfast. The coffee is also good. You can also eat breakfast in the main dinning rooms if you like. RCCL has got to work on the hot food problem. Leaving from Bayonne is shall I say, not that much fun. The pier was in a state on destruction (construction) and the signs for where to go need help. They are building a new terminal but I have been hearing that for awhile. I wish them luck when the new whip comes with a passenger total of 4,000 plus. The ship itself is beautiful. It's clean, big, and laid out very well. They take very good care of all areas. The crew is fantastic. The stewards, waiters, and anyone you come in contact with always has a smile and is very helpful. I don't know how they do that with how hard they work and the constant changing of passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We just returned from our 6th EOS cruise & were not as satisfied as before. As far as the ship, it is still in decent shape & the food was pretty good. We found the entertainment not up to par & repetitive. Our cabin (inside) ... Read More
We just returned from our 6th EOS cruise & were not as satisfied as before. As far as the ship, it is still in decent shape & the food was pretty good. We found the entertainment not up to par & repetitive. Our cabin (inside) was on deck 7 & several mornings between 5:30 & 6:00am we were awakened by loud banging. We complained & was told that it was due to the crew preparing for breakfast. First of all we were forward on the ship & the food venues are aft, so that didn't make any sense. By far the worst part of the cruise was the debarking. What a horror show!! We have been doing the self assist debarkation for years now & NEVER had we experienced this mess before. We had proceeded to our designated waiting area & at 8:10 announced we could proceed to deck one. There was a crowd already gathered there & that's when the fiasco began. To make it short it took us an hour and 40 minutes to arrive on deck 1. There was a lot of shoving & people trying to cut in line & it was very hot. There was never an announcement from any crew members as to why we weren't moving only announcements telling the next group of passengers to proceed to deck 1! All in all it took us 2 hours & 45 minutes to get out of the terminal. It had never taken us longer than an hour total on prior cruises because there was always crew members helping to move things along, but not this time! Our bus was scheduled to leave at 10:00 but didn't leave til 11:15. Needless to say there were a lot of unhappy people! Sandi Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Just back from a wonderful vacation on Explorer of the Seas! For a ship getting ready for dry dock refurb, it's in great shape. There are minor areas in the cabins and the public rooms where you can see chips and worn ... Read More
Just back from a wonderful vacation on Explorer of the Seas! For a ship getting ready for dry dock refurb, it's in great shape. There are minor areas in the cabins and the public rooms where you can see chips and worn fabric/carpeting, but overall she is in great condition. We stayed in promenade rooms, which were roomy, lots of storage, and very comfortable. Never heard any of the commotion in the promenade, but always had an interesting view. Highly recommend them. The crew and staff were great. Most were very friendly and eager to make the trip a wonderful memorable experience. The Chefs made regular appearances in the dining room and were happy to chat. Most bartenders were fabulous (and drinks were great in taste and strength). Disappointed in our room attendant, who noted he was under the weather, often skipped things in the room, failed to deliver compass info, etc. And very disappointed in beverage service for soda/wine/drinks in the dining room for dessert. Food was overall quite good. The dining room food was good to very good. Certainly can get better at fine dining options on land, but lots of good choices and some excellent dishes (Greek calamari salad, Asian duck entree, and lobster were faves). Buffet was a bit disappointing in variety and quality, especially for breakfast. Indian options for lunch were stellar. And do try to check-in for a little something during dinner time - some great options! Cafe Promenade pizza is fairly good, but buffet pizza is awful. Entertainment was good. DD (11 yo) especially loved the shows and singing. Ice show is not to be missed! Wish there were more trivia and other activities better scattered through the day. 70s party at the promenade was lots of fun, but super-crowded. And watch out for the flying flashing rings - they hurt when they hit you in the face. Cruise Director Leigh and his sidekick TT were hilarious. Watch the morning show on the tv. And Captain Rick is the most personable and interesting Captain we've seen! Loved his announcements and enthusiasm! Kids enjoyed Adventure Ocean and begged to go every day and as often as possible. As a parent, I was a little dissapointed, though. They didn't check IDs, the staff seemed to always be sitting on the sidelines, and it seemed they played variations of dodgeball most days (hardly ever matched up what was advertised in kids' compass). Last year we cruised on the Breakaway, and I felt their staff, facilities, and programs were far superior. Of course, bottom line is that the kids had a blast. Enjoyed a lovely spa experience last full sea day. They had some great spa sampler packages. Definitely check them out! The ports of call were great. Had been to Bermuda before, so didn't do much. Warning to those who buy liquor from the cruise suggested stores: don't let them send directly to the ship. The Glasswork store failed to do so, and now we don't have our Bermuda Rum. Thus far, not much from RC for help, but we'll see how it works out. (Most likely will be calling credit card co to refuse the charges.) Previously spend time at the beach, and would do so again! Labadee was fun, athough even the beach they said wasn't rocky was very rocky the first few feet in the water. Consider taking water shoes. Once in the water, we enjoyed the breeze, the ocean, and the views. We spent our time at Adrenaline Beach. DH and DD enjoyed the Wave Jet tour. Lines for food were ridiculous, and by the time we decided to go check it out, they were closed. Wear lots of sun screen!! Puerto Rico was fascinating - wish we had more time and/or arrived later in the day. Did a self-guided walking tour of the old city (it was like walking through a pirate movie set!) and enjoyed mofongo in Cafe Manolin (recd on cruise critic discussions). Wandered around St. Maarten, which was very hot. Beware of lots of locals asking to braid your hair, do your portraits, take you on guided tours, give coupons for jewelry... it was constant annoyances of offers. I'll agree with those who complained about Bayonne port. Our driver there had trouble finding it, and we were stuck in about 30 - 45 mins of traffic to be dropped off. Our driver picking us up was more than an hour late, as he was stuck in the same mess coming to get us. Overall, we had a fabulous family vacation on the Explorer. The ship is a great size - big enough to have a variety of places to hang out and explore but not too big or too crowded. (I heard the sailing was sold out, but with few exceptions, it didn't feel crowded.) Would definitely recommend her! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our first trip with Royal Caribbean, we have sailed with Celebrity 4 times previously. A friend dropped us off at the pier about 11:30 am because we were in a JS we went through the suite line and was on the ship in 15-20 minutes ... Read More
This was our first trip with Royal Caribbean, we have sailed with Celebrity 4 times previously. A friend dropped us off at the pier about 11:30 am because we were in a JS we went through the suite line and was on the ship in 15-20 minutes from the time we entered the terminal. The ship was beautiful and big, maybe a little big for our tastes. We had the early seating dinner and we were at table 407 which was a table for 2. We didn't put in a request for this but we did not mind it being just us. Our waiter Jose and his asst. Rhyan were absolutely great and we actually gave them an extra tip. For the most part we really enjoyed the food as well but we found the portions to be small sometimes, a perfect example was my wife had an entree that came with brocoli and carrots, the brocoli was 1/2 of a piece and the the carrot was thin slice of a carrot. The food in the Wind Jammer was typical cafateria food and seating up there was a pain. We ate at Johnny Rockets twice and really liked it. My wife thought the onion wings were the best she ever had and I liked the shakes. I thought the common areas in the ship were very nice if a little small for such a big ship. Every night on the Promenade the were having some kind of sale on tables that they set up in the promenade and it was like a feeding frenzy and made passing impossible. I actually suggested to two people that seemed to be a safety issue, I'm sure others did as well so that after a few nights they adjusted the size of the area. Overall we had a great time but we will be sticking with Celebrity. We missed not haveing the late night food option such as the theme nights and grand buffet. It just seemed that there was never enough help. We thoght the help they did have tried but are not being given the proper tools by management. A good example is the guest relation areas, they had seven or eight service areas at guest relations and only ever 1 or 2 attendants and one person trying to expidite the line. Amother example was the ice show, which was great by the way. Your show time was by muster station and about 5-10 minutes before the show they were going to check see pass cards and allow standby's to enter. We got there 20 minutes and walked right in luckily we found a seat but it was packed and people were sitting in the aisles but nowhere to be seen was anyone to try to help those folks or to see if they were part of the muster stations for that show. I also wanted to mention Leigh (CD) and TT (sidekick) one day on thier morning show which I found funny most days they were reading the shout outs and read one from a lady who said she could not wait for the cruise to be over and get off of the ship. After they read that they said good for her and that they couldn't wait for her to get of the ship. I felt this was in very poor taste and thought she really had to be at wits end to right that and felt that Leigh should have sought her out personally and tried to help her instead of ridiculing her. Like other reviewer the process at the port is a disaster. It took us 45 minutes or so to get to a point where our friend could drop us off. Disembakation was where the process really went down hill. They seemed to be in a hurry to get everyone off so they would call several numbers and this would lead to several hundred people being jammed in a hall way or stairway waiting for busses to the terminal. The really need a lesson in people moving because that is the last impression of the company that you get and it is not a good one. After we were off it took our friend more that an hour to make her way around to us. to get picked up.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We just got back today from our 10 day cruise to the Eastern Carribean. Overall everyone had a great time. We traveled with our two daughters ages 21 and 25 , one of their friends, my sister in law and her son. The embarkation from Bayonne ... Read More
We just got back today from our 10 day cruise to the Eastern Carribean. Overall everyone had a great time. We traveled with our two daughters ages 21 and 25 , one of their friends, my sister in law and her son. The embarkation from Bayonne was slow but not awful. The ship was very pretty and didn't show it's age unless you were looking for things to complain about. Our staterooms were small, but we also had a handicapped room which was very spacious. The boat was very clean. The dining room and housekeeping staff were top notch. There were many venues for evening entertainment including a piano bar, a pub with a guitar player, a salsa band and a dance band. The shows varied from excellent to just ok. We liked the female singer and the last comedian the best. The ice skating show was very good. The food was good but was a little too salty. There were no lines at the buffet but there were not enough tables for everyone to sit. The pools were very nice and getting lounge chairs was not too bad. We sent someone down in the morning to put items down to ensure we had seats for later. The pool band was very good and not too loud. We took a package to horseshoe bay in Bermuda. We should have just taken a cab. The beach is beautiful. We also took a beach break package to st Marteen. We didn't arrive at the port until 1:30 so we only wound up with 1 and a half hours on the beach. We were supposed to be dropped off on the way back to shop but the stores were already closed. We should have just taken a cab to Orient Beach and rented beach chairs from one of the bars on the beach. We walked off the boat to Old San Juan and did some nice shopping as we were only in the port for the morning. Labadee was wonderful. The have improved the island nicely since we were last there. We went all the way in to Colombus Cove which had bathrooms, a bar, food and a nice beach. You will need water shoes for the first beach at Labadee as the water has lots of rocks and coral. Labadee now has dock and is totally handicapped accessible. The younger people in our group went to The Chamber every night and had no difficulty finding friends. We all enjoyed the karaoke. We are already thinking about going on Royal Carribean next summer and are looking forward to the new port at Bayonne. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This review is not intended to imply that the Explorer of the Seas is a bad ship, it is in almost every way...mediocre. The ship is in dire need of a refurbishment which is happening later this year. In the meantime the cabins have dingy ... Read More
This review is not intended to imply that the Explorer of the Seas is a bad ship, it is in almost every way...mediocre. The ship is in dire need of a refurbishment which is happening later this year. In the meantime the cabins have dingy carpeting, chipped fixtures and a bit of a musty smell to them. They are adequate and functional but somewhere around a Best Western hotel room by comparison. The cabin steward did a fantastic job keeping things clean and in order and even started the towel animals around day 4. The dining room food was average for the most part. Nothing really stood out as fantastic and if you don't go to the dining rooms for the service than you might as well head to the Windjammer. The Windjammer is faster, has a bit more variety and allows you to get something more than the slightly undersized dining room portions. The highlight of the dining room was the excellent service we received from our Head Waiter Pepito and his Assistant Michael. The shows were below average to average. Their was a good comedian on day 3 - Scott Alexander, an average comedian Etta May and a horrible juggler/Comedian named Scotty Cavanaugh. The production shows were really cheesy and I watched a lot of people walking out during the performances. The ice show was not bad. The performers were good but the ice is just too small for them to really do anything to wow the crowd very much. Their were not as many activities as I have seen on other cruises and what they had was mainly talks designed to sell spa services or jewelry disguised as an enrichment talk. The exception to that were the Art Enrichment talks which were done by Sean O'Connor. Sean really put effort into bringing some good information and answering questions. The ports were okay with the exception of Puerto Rico which is nothing more than a crowded, dirty american style city with a spanish name. Beware of the "water park" in Haiti (Labadee) as it is just a bunch of inflatable obstacles floating in the water, most of which you can't even climb on to without above average upper body strength since they don'y have ladders, just handholds. Also, on embarkation day be prepared to be herded in to the Windjammer for the buffet where there is nowhere near enough seats for all the people who are waiting with nowhere else to go because you can't get into your cabin until at least 1:30. Also, you spend a great deal of your vacation waiting for the elevators most of which arrive already full to capacity. If you don't mind stairs you will save yourself a lot of waiting and frustration. Again, I don't want to sound as if this was a bad cruise because it wasn't. It also was not a good cruise. We all agreed it was mediocre in almost every way which was disappointing because I don't think you pay that kind of money hoping to have a so-so time on a cruise. This was our 2nd RCCL cruise and I think our last. We have enjoyed a couple of cruises on Princess much better and I think that is where we will return. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Our family of 11, six adults and five grandchildren ages 13-22 just returned from the Explorer. Although we all had a great time, and thanks to the Captain for avoiding Hurricane Arthur, Royal Caribbean needs help. The ship which is going ... Read More
Our family of 11, six adults and five grandchildren ages 13-22 just returned from the Explorer. Although we all had a great time, and thanks to the Captain for avoiding Hurricane Arthur, Royal Caribbean needs help. The ship which is going into drydock shortly, certainly needs it. The public spaces such as the dining room and promenade are still quite lovely....but the cabins, pool deck, public bathrooms etc are in desperate need. The staff needs lessons on how to smile and being courteous, which they do lack. I am aware that the customer service desk does get beaten up with complaints, but if you intend to work in this area you need patience and need to be polite to your guests, and surely a smile would go a long way. The few times we needed to approach them, and not for a complaint, they can be somewhat rude. The Dining room staff was great, service was wonderful, but the food quality is just not there. We travel on Celebrity as our choice cruise line, and RC cannot hold a candle to them at all. Now the worst, was their Buffet. Same selections everyday, no stations, horrid layout and everything looked so unappetizing...we of course ate in the Dining most of the time. RC is great value for families, but would not choose to cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I just returned from the 9 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas, and my family and I (husband, daughters ages 9 and 6) had an amazing time. My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises (Royal, Celebrity, Carnival and ... Read More
I just returned from the 9 night Bermuda/Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas, and my family and I (husband, daughters ages 9 and 6) had an amazing time. My husband and I have been on over 20 cruises (Royal, Celebrity, Carnival and Norwegian) and the kids are veterans as well, once or twice a year since they were babies. I especially felt the need to write this after reading negative reviews already (we just got back 2 days ago), and wondering how these people could be on the same cruise! Was it perfect? Of course not, but we are the type of cruisers that don't let little things "ruin our entire cruise!" A few things that we weren't crazy about: 1. The Windjammer was way too crowded at certain times, like the hour before arriving in port, which happened to us a couple of times. Also, although there was a wide variety of food, it never changed. On other cruises there might be a section that changed each day with a taco bar, pasta bar, etc. but nothing like that here. We were saying that it seems that Royal already realized that it wasn't big enough and fixed it on the Freedom class ships, but that didn't help us of course! We did eat in the dining room for breakfast a couple of times, and Johnny Rockets for lunch once, and they were really good. 2. The itinerary was great, and we enjoyed every port, but there was hardly enough time to do anything in St. Martin and San Juan, unless you did a shore excursion. We had a wonderful time in both ports though, shopping in both, although we were in San Juan so early that the only stores that were open were the ones on the shopping map. And that's about it. The rest of the cruise was amazing! I think the ship was in amazing shape, the carpets need to be replaced, they just have that permanent dirt from all of those years of use, and I guess we were lucky that our TV was a flatscreen, it was only used for the kids to watch when we were all getting ready for dinner. We had an ocean view on deck 2, with beds off the wall for the kids. Our cabin steward Anak was the best we have had as far as we can remember. He was always asking if we needed anything, and if we did, it was taken care of right away. He kept the room neat(quite a task with the four of us in there!), it was done basically as soon as we left the room. I cannot say enough good things about him! We did have a little problem at first with dinner, but it ended up working out beautifully. We had confirmed early seating up until the day we cruised. Then we get our seapass cards and it says My Time Dining. When my husband asked about it, they told him that we got bumped, they just booked too many early seating passengers. So then he said that he wanted to make a reservation for 6 that night, he was told that they couldn't do that for that night, all they had was 7:45. He made a reservation for 6 the next night, and we just decided to deal with the 7:45. There was no Adventure Ocean the first night anyway, and we wouldn't have to rush out of the sailaway party, where the kids were in the pool. It was fine, and worked out. The next day we got a card saying that they were able to put us in early seating. My husband went to ask about it and was told that we were at a table for 10. This got us really nervous, because although my kids know what they are doing on cruises and are well behaved at dinner, we all know that there are people that hate kids on cruises. It turns out that we were with a family with teenagers and a 5 year old, and they ended up being some of the best tablemates we've ever had. And we had a great spot right in the middle of the bottom deck, right next to the captains table. On the ship we were walking advertisements for Royal Caribbean and all of the activities they are known for- we played mini golf twice, ice skated twice, my kids made great use of the Adventure Beach water slide, and my older daughter did the rock wall. Both kids loved Adventure Ocean too. My husband and I got a couples massage, and while we loved it of course, we did this on Carnival last year, and both agreed that it was better there. I also did not like the pressure we got to buy products- they do at every spa, but other times, they have made their recommendations, then left and said to bring what I wanted to the receptionist. This time she stared at us and asked if we were buying. I told her I wanted to check the seapass bill first and we'd be back. My husband and I spent most of our kid-free nights at the casino, but we did see the ice show and one of the production shows. I loved the music all around the ship. My husband got the premium drink package, and since we are diamond members, I got my three free drinks each night. I had one issue on the last night, where I was at a table at the casino, and when I ordered my drink it was 8:25, and I even made a joke about just making it, but when the server came back I was charged, it seems that by the time she took the rest of the orders and got to the bar, it was after 8:30. I'm sure I could have gone to the bar and made a stink, but it was the last night and time was running out before I had to get the kids, so I let it go. It was just a beer anyway. So as I said it was an amazing cruise, and now my kids are insisting on Royal for the next one, specifically one with an ice rink. That is fine with us, because it was such a wonderful family vacation.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
First of all I would never of thought I would write a review but after this trip I felt it was necassary to share some information . We are 3 familes that travel every year and this was our first time together on RCCL. We are in our 40s ... Read More
First of all I would never of thought I would write a review but after this trip I felt it was necassary to share some information . We are 3 familes that travel every year and this was our first time together on RCCL. We are in our 40s and children are ages from 13- 18. Lets first say that our kids were bored . There was close to 500 teens on board and only 2 activity coordinators for these kids. Activities were canceled and there was no notification. There was a kids dodgeball event and a ball went overboard they canceld actvity.We recieved alot of apologies for this but nothing changed regardless. At night there was nothing going on for the kids.The Optix club never had anyone in there because there was no one in there to moniter the room. Most of the kids hung out on the sports deck playing basketball every night. Plus there was not enough security by basketball court at night Food- We never made it to the Dining room except for Dinner which was always good . As for buffet it was the same food every day and night.We had dinner there one night and it was a mess.The staff never cleaned up the food trays and it almost looked like a school cafateria. Pool Deck- Very boring- Only 3 activities at pool deck for the 9 days- Belly Flop ,Sexy Man and Baggo( which is bean bag tossing) Really ?. Same reggae band played 3 sets a day for an hour other than that is was 80s music all day .If you get to pool deck early to put towels down which is frowned upon they will take the towles off the chairs if you are away more than 30 minutes. Evening shows- Some shows good and some were very poor. When they had shows in the maharaja lounge,if you did not get there at least 45 min earlier it would be difficult to get a seat. They had karaokee every night.I am not a fan of karaokee but to do it every night is a bit much. They also had a sing a long at the piano bar.Every night the same routine.It felt like there was no emphasis put on the Adult activities . Cruise Dircetor- Leigh is very funny and witty unfortunatly was not around enough. I actually thought Yerky was the cruise director until 3 days in. Islands- Bermuda very nice... St marteen 1-730.. We didnt get off ship til almost 145 Not the best time to go to and island to go to beach and shop ,You can do one or the other. San Juan-- 8- 2 which really means 830 to 130- Shops dont open til 10 so options limited labadee -- wasnt impressed but kids enjoyed it excpet for seaweed that was in the water and no place to stand. Staff- My waiter and server were Exceptional and my cabin steward was great also- Unless they were taking care of you individualy they were not that friendly I guess becuase it didnt reflect there gratuity. Overall ship condition- I thought the ship was very good condition even though it is going to be dry docked in December. Prior to this we were on NCL the last 2 years and we will go back to NCL. I always thought that RCCL was the King of all cruises but there standards have changed. Even some of the staff had commented on the cut backs that RCCL had made.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Hotel Information - We stayed on Staten Island at the Hampton Inn. Good staff and very affordable. They provided parking while we cruised, shuttle to and from the port, and breakfast in the morning. The staff was friendly and helpful. Be ... Read More
Hotel Information - We stayed on Staten Island at the Hampton Inn. Good staff and very affordable. They provided parking while we cruised, shuttle to and from the port, and breakfast in the morning. The staff was friendly and helpful. Be aware, that the pick of the shuttle for us was 45 minutes late. Other than that, we were happy with our experience. Ship Information - Ship was in good condition. We like this size of ship better than the smaller ships because of the variety of activity. Activities - Great variety of activities. There was always something to do if you wanted. Service - As always, Royal Caribbean staff always provide terrific service. The staff got to know us quickly and attended to our needs. The one time we needed assistance with changing something, they were able to accommodate us quickly. They are the reason that we will sail with them again. Port and excursions - Very happy with the choices we made except for one stop. I recommend the walking tour of Old San Juan and the visit to the butterfly farm on Saint Maarten. Both were very interesting events. Also, on Bermuda, we visited the museum on King's Warf. For $12 per person, its a great way to learn a lot about the history of Bermuda. Skip the Deviil's Isle tour. Its not worth your time. Cabin was exactly what we expected based on our previous experiences. It was clean and well kept. We had a interior cabin so we didn't spend much time in it except for sleeping. Dining - The food was outstanding. Really enjoyed the huge variety and everything we ate was well prepared. We only went to the Portofino restaurant once. It was good but with the high quality of the food available elsewhere, its not necessary to spend your money on the optional restaurant. The night we went, it was a murder dinner theater. It was fun and enjoyable. Children's club - The kids enjoyed the activities that they participated in. Our children made friends on the ship quickly. They chose to spend most of their time hanging out with the new friends. The entertainment at night was excellent. We went to all of the shows and were very happy with all of them except for one. We never had a problem getting a seat. We enjoyed the live music available throughout the ship. Disembarkation - It was pretty well done. We stood in line for about 20 - 30 minutes but it wasn't too bad. We waited in the dining room so there was plenty of room for people to sit. Summary - Overall, we were very happy with our experience. Taking a 9 night cruise is definitely a great way to spend a vacation   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I won't bore anyone with a long review, so her it goes.....Cape Liberty port is disgusting, but you're not there that long so no bigeee. Parking was $171.00 for (9) days. The ship is definitely outdated and in need of an ... Read More
I won't bore anyone with a long review, so her it goes.....Cape Liberty port is disgusting, but you're not there that long so no bigeee. Parking was $171.00 for (9) days. The ship is definitely outdated and in need of an overhaul. It's very 90'sish, colors are old and our room had a box TV. We were never in the room, so it was easy to deal with. Our stateroom attendant was awful, she was never around so we made do. The food was excellent in the dining room and the staff there were AWESOME !!! The buffet upstairs (Windjammer) was good, a lot like the Golden Coral on steroids.....We didn't try the specility restaurant. The pool area was a lot of fun just small. The entertainment was OK, I've been on other ships where the talent was amazing, but it was still enjoyable. The ports were fantastic and it was very easy getting on and off the ship. I'm not a big gambler, but I heard several people complain that the slots didn't pay out that much. Go see the C Wind band in the Viking Crown, THEY WERE THE BEST ! Overall, we had a great time and would do this cruise again. I was told the Liberty of the Seas is replacing this ship, so that's a good thing. My review 4 out of 5 Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Background: This was my third cruise and my husband's fifth. We are both in our early 30s. We were very blessed on this trip to have mostly calm seas and good weather, which was right off the bat a huge improvement over my last cruise ... Read More
Background: This was my third cruise and my husband's fifth. We are both in our early 30s. We were very blessed on this trip to have mostly calm seas and good weather, which was right off the bat a huge improvement over my last cruise in which a hurricane tailed the ship across the Caribbean and closed half our ports of call. We hit the jackpot in two other ways as well, one being that we had easily the best random stranger tablemates I've had (all young couples around our own age, and we ended up hitting it off immediately), and I had one of the best surprises I've ever had the day before our departure, when I logged in to triple-check our reservation and discovered that the actual, mythical upgrade fairy had bestowed upon us a leftover balcony. YAY! Embarkation: Barring a few impatient guests, the whole thing was overall smooth and nothing to note. The ship: We've previously sailed on both the Voyager and Liberty so were familiar with what to expect. She seemed to be in pretty well-oiled condition. I understand the ship is due for dry dock this coming winter, meaning her interior is older. You can see this if you're looking for it, in the carpets, the older tvs, the windows seeming in need of a good powerwashing in some areas. But really, she was as clean and tidy (if not more so) than the vast majority of hotels I've stayed in. I'm really only describing this because I've seen others mention concern, really, I would have otherwise thought nothing of it. The room: Like I said, we lucked out and were moved to a leftover balcony just prior to cruising. It was my second time in a balcony. The cabin we were moved to was #7660 which is port side, aft above the rear lifeboats. We must not have been the only cruisers struck by lightning, because several cabins around us were listed as available the day before the cruise, and were all full on the voyage. Being port side on this sailing was definitely the way to go. We ended up on the dock-side at all four ports, and got to enjoy observing the docking procedures for the first time. The cabin did still have one of the old-style tvs (which my husband made much mockery of), but one potential perk for privacy lovers is that the cabin is right next to a fire wall/door, meaning the one wall is thicker and the balcony wall on that side is made of metal, not a divider. The service: My husband and I are pretty low-key travelers and didn't run into any snafus on this trip. In my experience everything was great. Both our room steward and waiters were perfectly friendly and helpful when we had questions. Our stateroom attendant brought us a corkscrew and wineglasses no questions asked, and on more than one occasion both in the Windjammer and in our hallway, someone stopped what they were doing to help me carry my things (I swear, I'm young and not frail). One of the high points of the ship you can't miss, is the lady who mans the purell station outside the Windjammer and sings dance songs about handwashing. She's hysterical and often had the kids dancing with her. Speaking of kids, a general observation: There were far fewer kids than I expected for a summer cruise. I don't know if it's because it was a longer trip, or the crazy winter resulted in longer school years and fewer vacation days for the parents, but I didn't feel like I was constantly seeing kids dart around the way I did on our last sailing on Liberty. Activities: We didn't go to most of the parades or shows. At 30, ice shows and musical reviews generally aren't our thing. We did go to the comedy show on opening night and were moderately entertained, as much from people watching as from the actual show. We also did trivia on several occasions and enjoyed this. We had a general gripe that they need to limit the size of the teams here, us playing as two just can't compete against big 6-7 person families. However when you're competing for a keychain your gripe isn't really worth worrying over. It's just for fun. The food: My husband and I had differing opinions here. I'm a pretty adventurous eater, with a lot of influence from the local health nut/international communities where I live. From this perspective I found some high points worth noting, mainly the station in the Windjammer dedicated to Indian and Asian food (and usually vegetarian Indian at that), and the make-your-own stir-fry they have available at dinnertime. This is a very worthy alternative if nothing on the MDR menu is calling to you. We ended up doing just that on two of the casual nights. As far as the MDR goes, we did both notice that the portions were smaller than we had on our last cruise (several years ago), but as both of us have grown more health-conscious since then we were fine with this. We both tried several things with both hits and misses, my personal favorite being a chocolate espresso souffle for dessert one night. Di-vine. One major downside we both also agreed on: this ship can't cook a scallop to save its life. Seriously, don't get them. We tried them three times between us and every time felt they were slightly undercooked. We did have lobster night (second formal night), and all three guys at the table ordered it. One mentioned how he loved lobster and was sure he wanted two, and our waiter (Andrew) brought an extra tail not only for him but for all three of them. We thought that was pretty cool. Also, the coconut ranger cookies that everyone on Cruise Critic mentions loving made frequent appearances, and we loved them so much I've been googling recipes to try and recreate them at home. As far as the coffee goes, I drink it regularly. I've seen criticism of the Windjammer coffee so I'll say I found it pretty comparable to what you'd get at a place like IHOP. It's not gourmet but it's certainly better than the can of Folger's they give us at work. One last thing about food: We went to Johnny Rockets one day for lunch and it was good, pretty comparable to Five Guys we thought. But we'd like to suggest to RCI that what they really need to to replace it with Chipotle. The ports: We were blessed with remarkably calm seas and good weather on our trip. However when I say that, please note I'm a fisherman's wife and don't blink at a little swaying. We decided on two excursions The first, in Bermuda, was a catch-and-release reef fishing trip (reference the previous section). This was actually far more fun than catching rockfish at home because the crew really knew their spots and put us right on top of the fish. Everyone on the boat caught something and most people more than one. So for my H, this was great, and for me the pace was fast enough to keep my attention and hey, I got a nice boat right and view of the reef out of it. Our other excursion was a trip to the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico. They call it a hike in the program, but all the paths are paved (they need to be, it would be very muddy otherwise); it is really more of a nature walk with some stairs and hills. The downside to this trip is easily the long bus ride it takes to get from the cruise port to the rainforest. You definitely want to be off the ship and ready to go when they dock. But on the other hand, it was really beautiful in the forest, there were no mosquitoes, we saw some great views and some wildlife, and the temperature was perfect compared to the hot sun by the port. If you like getting out, I think this is a part of Puerto Rico worth seeing. Debarkation: It is a crying shame that RC doesn't put more effort into this. It's the very last part of your cruise you experience and probably the first thing in your mind when you get home. Anyway, since we had driven and had a long day of driving and relatives ahead of us, we decided to the the self-debarkation a whirl rather than waiting for our tags. This was just awful. We were told by various crew members that when we arrived at our waiting area, we'd get numbered tickets to organize the procedure. So, we showed up an hour early and were among the first there. No crew members, no tickets. More people arrive. Finally, just after the ship has officially docked, Erky from Turkey strolls in and states that the line will form on one side of the room, eliciting shouts from people on the other side who 'arrived first' (but after us, although we aren't the type to shout and make a scene over this). He promptly caves and moves the line to their side, disgruntling all the people on the first side who had arrived early too. So now we all move to the 'line', except Erky has left and placed another crewmember in charge, who vaguely directly newcomers to the end side of the room. Then when they call us to start downstairs, makes no effort to control which side of the room is leaving first and the thing ends as basically a free for all. Super organized guys. Seriously, that ticket thing people had mentioned to us would have worked so much better. The only upside to this whole thing was that we did, in fact, get off the ship around 9:30, breezed through customs, and were headed home before most regular tickets would have even been called. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We were part of a forum that started 486 days before we sailed. Over that time almost 2,500 posts were made with over 30,000 page views. A great deal of information was shared, questions asked and answered. Our group grew to 150+ people ... Read More
We were part of a forum that started 486 days before we sailed. Over that time almost 2,500 posts were made with over 30,000 page views. A great deal of information was shared, questions asked and answered. Our group grew to 150+ people that we met finally at the Meet & Mingle the Royal Caribbean puts on for free on a sailing day outbound. Beyond the M&M we organized other actives aboard ship with those that read the forum and wanted to participate. We ran an "investment seminar" at the slot machine. We put our $15 in at $5 a yank hoping the last yank would win a big jackpot for all to share. Since we did not hit on the last pull we decided to donate the left over funds to the Make A Wish foundation for some terminally ill child to take a cruise. I gave the funds to the cashier and they announced it over the ship's broadcast system during the walk on board for the Make A Wish foundation. Now, onto the review of the trip. We arrived at 10:30am, off loaded the luggage and checked in. I believe we were onboard by noon in our cabin. The ship is going into dry dock for repairs/upgrade whatever. So, yes the carpets were worn, the wood railings and such were worn as the paint was in certain areas. It did not distract us from our vacation. With a very responsive I board crew, things went well. The food is ok, no 4 Seasons here but I noticed no overt complaints and the usual array of folks with different eating styles from minimal to ' where's the plate?' Types. Portofino was a nice one night change from the Windjammer or Main Dining room. We did like the "My Time" dining feature. Activities on board are up to you but generally I did not here if any complainers. We did find a few buffoons that would argue over a lounge chair by the pool, or try and shove themselves past others from the back of the bus and plow forward. However, since our M&M group was so large enough people got the word out that most of us were able to avoid any contact with these few types, even the lady that threw herself across the T-shirt table sale onboard. They do need to improve the hours of operations for booking on-board for future trips if the OBC and such are a temptation. If finally got my 2016 trip booked but it took a few days of passing by the sales area to get it done. As I mentioned, if you get past customers with poor manners the ship bound voyage was fun. Getting off the ship is a different matter. Not until I was off the ship in Bermuda, did I find out my Snuba excursion was cancelled due to water conditions. I wished RCL and the RCL vendor had established a better communications protocol so I would not be left just standing there. I waited and found my family and we found a last minute replacement, the glass bottom boat tour. On getting on thar boat my camera slipped and fell into the water at the dock. The tour operator asked if it was waterproof, yes it was, and odd he goes diving into the water to recover my camera safe, sound and operable! While he was digging around underwater, I got some dash from my wife to tip him regardless of the outcome for the effort he made! I did get the camera back, the rest if the tour was very nice. So, lighting strikes again when I get off the ship in St. Marteen. I asked where I should go and was told to disembark. I did not read the instructions on the ticket that wanted us to meet in a certain place on the ship. Those that were there were left there for a long time. Again, more mis-communication between RCL and their vendor, with the vendor making us somewhat uncomfortable with how she was throwing RCL 'under the bus' when I expect it was a mutual foul-up. The trip onshore was nice. The bus tour in San Juan got off without a hitch and I thought our bad luck was behind us. Actually, part of it was. So e woman would try and push her way from the back to the front when we hit a stop off point. Why she could not wait for an orderly exit from the bus I do not know why but she was that way getting on and off the bus. Not the tour operator's fault but an annoying distraction nonetheless. So, feeling we're were going to have a trip without issues, the bus makes a turn right to go up past the old fort San Juan and his transmission would not get us going. So we started a nice traffic jam trying to get up, backing up, going up until finally the police officer got us turned around and back on course. Off to Labadee the island RCL has a private lease with Haiti for. Yep, the coordination here went haywire. Whatever RCL badged employee I asked where were the cabins at Nellie's Beach, none of them knew where Nellie's was! They said "Nellies" very clearly in the rest if the sentence in their language they speak. We went through a lot of people, constant handing off and more radio chatter. Finally they found a cabin on the beach an put us there, I still wonder if that was the exact cabin I was supposed to get, the beachhead is mild, nice and no waves. Avoid the sellers in the little huts, they hustle you to no end and can make you feel very uncomfortable. The brick building selling wares was much better, nano hustle and helpful staff. Lunch was fair. Back on board depending on what your like to do is up to you. I am sure you will read a lot of pluses and minuses on thus forum about certain aspects if whatever. I still think the M&M set the proper tone with me and the hellos and conversations we had with M&M and non-M&M folks was very enjoyable. Getting off the ship was late and a pain. Once past customs, I was able to load my car and take my family and luggage home. I did not a long line of vehicles waiting to get into the ship by noon. My advice is to leave early and not to stress. I know some folks may have missed connections/flights etc. if you can, always build in some more cushion if time to allow for fouls ups if your schedule permits. We had two Superior Balcony cabins and loved them. Quantum in 2015 will be similar but I did get a center back JS for the 2016 cruise :-) Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We have been on 23 cruises over the past 20 years. This was our fourth cruise with RCI. We arrived at the terminal at around 11:00 to find two long lines of cars waiting to drop off their luggage, which took about 45 minutes. After paying ... Read More
We have been on 23 cruises over the past 20 years. This was our fourth cruise with RCI. We arrived at the terminal at around 11:00 to find two long lines of cars waiting to drop off their luggage, which took about 45 minutes. After paying for parking ($19/night), we were directed to a tent and got a number to board the bus which would take us to the ship. We were on the ship by 12:15 and a quick and seamless check-in. The port is under construction building a new terminal and while not ideal right now, it will be a wonderful option in the future. It was a pleasure not having to fly as the port is only 1-1/2 hours from our home. We immediately went to lunch in the Windjammer, which was jammed! It was difficult finding seats for the 8 of us, but we managed. At 1:30, an announcement was made that cabins were now ready, so we dropped off our carry-ons and then explored the Explorer! Although old and scheduled for a dry dock rehab next year, I found the ship to be in nice condition, certainly nothing to be concerned about. The food in the Main Dining Room was wonderful. I can't understand some of the complaints I read previously. We had My Time Dining and I had made reservations on line beforehand for the 8 of us. We ended up at the same table each night and with the sames servers, Imdat and Michael, were attentive, funny and caring of our requests. We did not to any ship excursions. We went to Horshoe Bay in Bermuda - took the bus for $8 r/t; did a private excursion in St. Maarten, walked around old San Juan because we were only there for such a short time and spent a gorgeous day in Labadee. We found the service by everyone on the ship to be great, especially Guest Services when my husband got sick one day . They were very helpful. Our cabin was kept spotless although we did not see much of our cabin steward, which is the way we like it! I would have given this ship a "10" except for two things, We were very disappointed in Portofinos. Not only were the menu choices limited and uninteresting, but the food came out cold and was not very good. We all agreed the food in the MDR was far superior to what we had in Portofinos. I had made reservations on line beforehand as we were celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary so this was disappointing. Also, we were seated in the entrance way and that certainly lacked ambiance. I will say that service was okay. The other disappointment was the entertainment, mainly the three production shows. Only one we considered okay, but the other two were certainly not worth watching. The cruise director, Leigh and his co-hort, Erky from Turkey, were highly amusing and very enjoyable, as were the various parties they had each night. I will be sure to attend The Quest on any more RCI cruises I do - that was a riot! Disembarkating was slow, but we expected that because we knew we had to board the buses again to return to the terminal. However, we were back in our home by 12 noon! All in all, it was a fabulous cruise and one which we would like to do again, expecially when the Quantum or Liberty cruises out of the Port Liberty.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was the first time sailing out of Bayonne. Our group of four consisted of two 18 year olds, a 52 year old mom, and an 80 year old active grandma. We live in Brooklyn so Bayonne turned out to be super convenient. Traffic on a Thursday ... Read More
This was the first time sailing out of Bayonne. Our group of four consisted of two 18 year olds, a 52 year old mom, and an 80 year old active grandma. We live in Brooklyn so Bayonne turned out to be super convenient. Traffic on a Thursday morning was not too bad and we arrived at the port in about 45 minutes. Embarkation was relatively smooth and we were aboard ship by 12:45. Went directly to the Windjammer for lunch. Had a little trouble finding a table for 4, but not too bad considering the hour. Of course, it was packed. The quality and variety of food was surprisingly good. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet daily and dinner in the MDR. The quality of food in the MDR was far superior and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. The service was exceptional. Our waiters, Erol and Jeffrey were fantastic! They were super friendly and very accommodating and seemed genuinely concerned that we were happy with the food and service. In fact, everyone we encountered seemed to try their best to make us happy, from guest services to our room steward. We all agreed, as seasoned cruisers with over 30 cruises on over 7 different cruise lines, that the service and the professionalism and friendliness of the crew was the best we ever encountered. Because of this we will certainly sail with Royal Caribbean again from Bayonne. The reviews saying the ship is run down or dirty is simply not the case. Yes, she is an older ship, but she has been impeccably maintained. We had inside cabins on Deck 7 and we found them to be spacious and well-appointed with enough hangers, closet pace, and storage. The quality of the food in the MDR was superb. We enjoyed every meal. The buffet was surprisingly good too although we found the burgers to be too well-done for our liking. We enjoyed all the shows, especially the ice skating show. Daytime activities were numerous and varied. No complaints. We enjoyed all the ports. Labadee was beautiful. We would sail again just to visit this port. All in all we really enjoyed everything about this cruise and would not hesitate to sail again on the Explorer. If you can go just go. You won't be disappointed! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was my third cruise and first time on Explorer. We did read CC reviews beforehand and joined a very active M&M group online. Without question, we had a great time and would sail on Explorer again. We drove up from Virginia the ... Read More
This was my third cruise and first time on Explorer. We did read CC reviews beforehand and joined a very active M&M group online. Without question, we had a great time and would sail on Explorer again. We drove up from Virginia the morning of departure and parked ($19/day) at the port. We chose to park and roll our bags to the "tent" terminal instead of waiting in the luggage drop off line, and highly suggest everyone do this. We arrived at 10:30am, quickly went through check in, and then waited for about 45 minutes to load the bus and get on the ship. Surprisingly quick embarkation for the chaotic terminal that is being replaced now with the construction of a new terminal. We then fought the crowds at the Windjammer and had a first cocktail at the Sky Bar. Vacation began! Our room 8618 (hump cabin with balcony) was a perfect size for two, clean, and comfortable. Our cabin steward Henry wasn't seen often, but our room always was cleaned up throughout the trip. Yes, we had an older tube TV (I didn't really care) and the furniture was a little scuffed, but nothing that ruined our vacation. The lid/seat on our toilet broke on the 6th day and was replaced within 6 hours and I never had to say anything, as it was repaired automatically. The ship looks great. Ignore the nay-sayers who say she is poor condition. Yes, it is not new, but the maintenance staff could be seen all week painting, cleaning, and keeping her in good condition. I am impressed with how good it looks knowing there are 3000+ on her every week for over 12 years. Food in the MDR was good to excellent each night. Some items better than others, and when I didn't like something, our waiter brought me something else. Our waiter Christopher and assistant waiter Maria did a super job keeping us happy, with plenty of Asiago cheese rolls, more than one appetizer each, and always asked if we wanted to try different entrées. We did dress in tuxes on the two formal nights, and about 25% that we saw did as well. But many wore nice suits, and that was fine. Lastly, The Windjammer is a buffet and always had plenty of options to choose from. The fresh omelet station is a must in the mornings. We only watched one of the main theatre shows, and it was pretty good. We preferred spending our evenings in the lounges listening to live bands. Really enjoyed the Latin group Azucar in the Aquarium bar and C Wind Band in Dizzy's. Wasn't much of a fan of the piano guy in the Schooner bar. Even though the ship was sold out, we never had a problem finding a deck chair, and enjoyed the pools and Jacuzzis often. The best bartender is Arif at the Sky Bar. Go see him! The poolside fun was a mix of DJ music, Caribbean music group Umoja 4, line dancing, and games and contest. All fine. The cruise director Leigh and activities director Irky are both great. The best piece of entertainment is the Ice Show. Fantastic performances and a not to be missed activity. We also partook of the Casino with some blackjack and slots and always had fun. Beware of the smoking in there if you are easily bothered by that. We also enjoyed the rock climbing wall and mini golf. So much to do onboard, I can't see how people get bored. Ports we visited were all good: Bermuda we went snorkeling, St. Maarten we took a taxi to Moho Beach to watch the airplanes land, San Juan we went to the Bacardi factory and then shopped, and on Labadee we just relaxed on the beach. Didn't spend a lot of money in ports and still had a great time each day. Sadly, the cruise had to come to an end. 9 nights is great cruise length. We did self assist disembarkation, which means we carried our own bags off the ship. We got off very quickly but heard others had a horrific experience with disembarking. In summary, Explorer is a fantastic ship with a super staff. No, it is not a shiny new bauble, but they do take care of her. We enjoyed our cruise immensely and are booked for another RCI cruise for summer of 2015. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
If you like cruises in general, this review is not for you. We went on our first cruise to be able to visit three new countries while still having a toddler with us. Husband, wife and 9 month old child. This ship is not meant for kids ... Read More
If you like cruises in general, this review is not for you. We went on our first cruise to be able to visit three new countries while still having a toddler with us. Husband, wife and 9 month old child. This ship is not meant for kids under 3 years old. (Almost) every singel day, we had to convince some of the staff in a restaurant to help us heat up the baby food. There is a play room, which is really a lounge that they put out a few toys in on the floor. It closes at 3 pm, some times at 4 pm. And there were small objects on the floor for the day before when the place is used as a bar/lounge. Not suitable for kids. So over to the cruise in general. I've never been together with so many obese americans at one time. The average age was about 50 years. The ship is cheezy old, and in desperate need for an update. The food is average. The dinners give you a choice of things, and the staff will help you pick out things. Some days the food was really great here, but breakfast and lunch is always the same buffet. But at the end of the cruise they start to run out of things. We're a young couple, who travel around the world and love beeing active. The activities on this ship is a joke. The all american "please-dont-sue-us" policy makes everything extremely boring. Rock climbing is like this: wait for 15 minutes to sign up. Stand in line for 10 minutes. Climb one route, once with smelly shoes and helmet. Then wait in line for another 10-15 minutes to get a chance to try again. After 45 minutes, the session is closed. There is no lead climbing. We went from Cape Liberty to Bermuda, then St Maarten, then Puerto Rico and lastly Haiti. In all of these places, time is very limited,but you get of the ship right away an into a taxi instead of paying for excursions aimed at old people, you're set to see some good things. There is enough time to get to the french side of st maarten and Maho beach which is a cool airport next to the beach where planes come in right over you. Do some research before you leave to decide what you want to see, then tell the taxi driver. There are taxies waiting for you at all ports except Haiti. Puerto Rico is really not nessecary to do with a taxi. In Haiti, they will not let you out of their resort. Even with a stamped passport. They used to have a waiver program, but this has been discontinued. They will not let you out, so don't waste your (short and precious) time like I did. And when you decide to jump into the water at the beach, there are lines about 30 meters out in the see that you can't swim across, making you feel like you are inside a giant prison for adults that are not fit to enjoy and look out for them selves. There is no point bringing snorkeling gear to Haiti Labadee.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
First off this was my 2nd time on RCL, 7th cruise overall. We had two cabins an Inside and a balcony room SHIP- The ship it self is starting to show its age, but you can tell crew is trying hard to make sure she still looks beautiful. She ... Read More
First off this was my 2nd time on RCL, 7th cruise overall. We had two cabins an Inside and a balcony room SHIP- The ship it self is starting to show its age, but you can tell crew is trying hard to make sure she still looks beautiful. She is a little bigger then a mid size ship but no huge like some of the new ones. The ship is easy to navigate around. The royal promenade is awesome, wish ever ship did there promenades like this. The ship never really felt super crowed even tho we were walling at full capacity. The ship has a lot to offer people so we never felt board at any time. Stateroom- The rooms were a little on the smaller size for an inside cabin and about standard size for the balcony. The closets were extremely small, also not a lot of storage space. It would be hard to fit more then 2 people in a inside cabin. The rooms were clean but you could still tell she is in need for a makeover. Food- Very hit and miss everywhere. Main dining was just ok, windjammer just ok. We ate all our dinners in the main dinning room and nothing ever blew us away and wanting more. We also ate most of our lunch in the main dining room too and had the same affect on us. The windjammer is your typical buffet food so nothing surprising. Crew- This was probably one of the best crews we have ever experienced on any cruise. They did a wonderful job, from our steward to our waiters to the random crew that made our cruise that much better thank you! Embarkation/Debarkation- Was an absolute NIGHTMARE. It took forever to get into the terminal area, you get in line with all the other cars and it just takes forever to be dropped off. Getting off the ship was the worst experience out of any cruise we have ever taken. We were suppose to get of around 9:45-10 we were group 5 so not bad but RCL decided to call all numbers between 1-19 at the same time so it was crazy trying to get off the ship, horrible crowd management. We didn't get off the ship until 12:30-1:00 Overall- We had a wonderful time on RCL yes the ship needs a makeover and yes the food could have been better and yes they need to figure out a better plan for coming and leaving the ship but we would totally sail on RCL again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Embarkation and Debarkation: The Bayonne, NJ port is by-far the worst and most disorganized that we have experienced, compared to the NYC and Miami ports. The main reason is that you must take a shuttle from the main registration/customs ... Read More
Embarkation and Debarkation: The Bayonne, NJ port is by-far the worst and most disorganized that we have experienced, compared to the NYC and Miami ports. The main reason is that you must take a shuttle from the main registration/customs building to the ship, whereas at other ports you can walk right onto the ship. The wait for the shuttles is what makes the process super long. We arrived for embarkation and got a shuttle number at 10am and did not board the ship until past 12 noon - advice: arrive early! Debarkation was even worse - we lined up for the "express" self-assist at 9am and it took 1.5hrs to get off the ship and off the shuttle...and this is before you even reach the customs building! Again, long waits all due to that darn shuttle!! Many people volunteered to just walk (honestly, it would've been a quick 5 min walk), but the shuttle was not optional! Never ever ever again will we cruise out of Bayonne, NJ....FML! Entertainment: Not much to do or see during the day if you are like us and in your 20s. Evening headliner shows were the same old singers and dancers every time. Love and Marriage show was pretty lacklustre and not very funny compared to the ones on the Carnival ships - maybe it was just that the couples they chose on our cruise were really boring? lol i dont know! If you want a seat at the Quest show, get there at least 30mins early otherwise it becomes standing room only. No magic shows or comedy shows, which was a bummer. Lots of trivia, bingo, jewelery-making, food demos, and scrap-booking sessions. Pools and Hot Tubs: Abundance of these all around the ship and most are 24hrs. Not very crowded, so I'm sure you can find a spot - the ones in the Solarium are probably your best bet! Lounge Chairs: No need to wake up early to reserve lounge chairs on the decks - plenty for everyone, even on sea days! Food: Windjammer buffet sucks, especially at lunch time. Exact same pasta, burgers and hot dogs every single day, with no variation (not at all an exaggeration). The best burger is the room service bistro burger, and the best pizza is in Cafe Promenade (windjammer and room service pizza not as good). Main dining room food was excellent - pick one of the port days to go to Portofino (main dining room menu not as good on those evenings) Advice: If you want "my-time dining", make sure to book this option at the time of your reservation. Don't book set-time dining to avoid the pre-paid gratuities, thinking that you can easily switch to my-time when onboard the ship - there is very little flexibility to switch dining preferences once you are onboard. Too many unhappy people got stuck with 8:30pm dining. Ports of Call: Bermuda - Hands-down the best beaches (Orient Beach is the most highly-recommended). We really regretted not spending more time on the beach. Since it was our first port, we figured we would have lots of beach time in the other ports, but the other beaches simply cannot compare. Strongly recommend to make this your beach day and save your shopping, excursions, island tours for another port! St. Maarten and San Juan - Excellent for shopping! San Juan had a Coach Factory store, Polo Ralph Lauren, Victoria Secret, Dooney and Burke, Abercrombie, etc. Unless you plan to visit the rainforest, there is really no need to spend money on an excursion in San Juan because it is very much a walkable city with lots to see and buy - plus the city's shuttle is free! Labadee - We did the zipline and spent the rest of the day on the beach. Zipline was $95 per person and highly recommended, especially if you have never done it before. The beach was nice, but sand is extremely rocky (unlike the fine-grained sand found in Bermuda). Watershoes or at least rubber flipflops are necessary if you want to step foot into the water. Lots of people (ourselves included) rented the floating water mats for $14 - worth it because the water was very shallow so swimming was kind of difficult. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Airport to port: the four of us took a taxi van which cost us $50.00 + $5.00 tolls + tip. Cruise Port: Poorly organized. The shuttle to the ship does not start until 11:30 and not before. Room: Our family had rooms next to each other. ... Read More
Airport to port: the four of us took a taxi van which cost us $50.00 + $5.00 tolls + tip. Cruise Port: Poorly organized. The shuttle to the ship does not start until 11:30 and not before. Room: Our family had rooms next to each other. Upon opening room 1339 (10th floor), the smell was so bad it was uninhabitable. We were told to wait until 5:00 to find out if there were any available rooms. One was available on the 8th floor at the back of the ship. There were no other options. Dining: Dining room was good but not excellent. Service was slow but that can be expected when serving so many. We enjoyed the windjammer instead. It’s true they served almost the same food every day, but it was great food and many selections. Love the different food stations. Much better than Carnival. Carnival has you always in a food line and if you want seconds, back to the line you go. Bermuda: City bus transportation is available when you get off the ship. We used one token each ($7.00 ea.) to get to Church Bay. We love to snorkel, but water was too rough but would be a great place if calmer. Puerto Rico: We did the rain forest excursion. Expect to travel a good hour in an air conditioned comfortable bus. First stop is walking a short trail, second stop is the information center and third stop is a waterfall next to the road. But if we could do it again, we would tour old San Juan on our own and tour the forts and historical spots. St. Maarten: Just did the beach at the ship port. Labadee: There is a free tram to take you to the different beaches. Upon arriving at Columbus Cove, we were greeted by a man that insisted that he set up our beach chairs (for a tip). Be just as insistent and tell them you will get your own. We were the only ship docked and obtaining free chairs was no problem. But if there are more ships docked, it could be very crowded. Since we were the only ship docked there were only two stations set up for lunch. Leigh & Erky (cruise directors) were a highlight of the cruise. Very funny and truly seem to enjoy their jobs. Disembark: Absolutely terrible. Not organized at all. Our suggestion is to just take your time and don’t be in any kind of hurry. Once you’re off the ship, customs is no problem. Shuttles are available to take you to the airport for $16.00 ea., but they don’t leave until they’re full. The Oasis spoiled us last year. But the Explorer did offer the best ports we have visited.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Explorer of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.8
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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