7 Perth (Fremantle) to Australia & New Zealand Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas Cruise Reviews

This Fremantle to Sydney via New Zealand's South Island cruise was the inaugral ‘down under’ voyage for Explorer of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to make Australia home for the season. It was a massive, luxurious vessel with ... Read More
This Fremantle to Sydney via New Zealand's South Island cruise was the inaugral ‘down under’ voyage for Explorer of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to make Australia home for the season. It was a massive, luxurious vessel with great potential for a wonderful cruise. It was also our first mega ship cruise for a longer duration than the many cruises we had experienced in Asian waters. Embarkation out of Fremantle was horrific. The night prior to embarkation the ship had advised cruisers that the embarkation times had changed due to a need to sanatise the ship. However many did not receive the message as they were in transit from all over Australia and indeed the World. It’s unclear as whether the ships last minute change of times or inexperienced embarkation staff in Fremantle were the cause for the havoc that prevailed for hours. The Fremantle Terminal itself was an embarrassment being old and jaded and, it was quickly found that even the fans in the embarkation processing area were not working. It was also painfully obvious that little thought had been given to the special needs for travelers with disabilities and those of us feeling our age Generally the weather was kind to us although the winds made the top deck area less attractive for much of the journey. The Southern Ocean, Bass Straight and the Tasman sea lived up to their reputations with a few days of rough weather. Mid-ships with a balcony is certainly the more comfortable area to be located on cruise. Excursions/attractions were subject to change with little if any notice. Dusky Sound, one of the advertised attractions in Fiordland, was missed without explanation. An hour was lost in disembarking from Picton as the wharf could only accommodate 1 gangway. It was here that the habit of ships staff blaming other parties for shortcomings became apparent. If something went wrong it was always the fault of anyone but ships staff. The debacle at Fremantle was, according to the ship, due to terminal staff. The Picton disembarkation delays were apparently the fault NZ Immigration and not Royal Carribean’s for putting a ship of this size into an inadequately equipped port. If you are organising things on this scale you are responsible for setting the requirements at both ends . If a port or provider cannot meet your needs, bypass the port in favor of one that can . Rail excursions in Adelaide should have been on separate train/s and not causing friction between normal commuters and ships tourists fighting for space on normal scheduled services. The excursions were generally pretty good but over priced. The same tours sourced elsewhere were around half the price. The duty free shops were relatively expensive compared to on shore duty free. The main difference was that much of the product was the ship or Royal Carrabean specific. Many of the products were of Chinese origin. Sales were regular events The entertainment in terms of the ice skating show and the 3 stage shows was great. Generally the rest was pretty mediocre. The commedians were crass and the last ‘show’ did not meet its advertised description. One also became very tired of watching the same limited TV shows on loop each day Meals were reasonable but had a certain sameness about them over the 16/17 days. Unadvertised deviations from printed menus occured. Potential health risks caused by deviations from menus were initially blamed on the client not having advised of a potential health risk and then when that failed, the steward was blamed for not having clairvointly warned of the changed ingredients. Ultimately a higher authority righted this attitude. Touting for customers in the dining areas by the pay as you go speciality restaurants became tiresome. We found that the advertisments that entice you to book these trips don’t contain all you need to know. It is only when you register on the ships records that you find most of the hidden costs and the packages you have an ‘opportunity’ to purchase. In some cases the less expensive options (ie wi-fi) only become apparent when you are actually on board and start digging around. We had a real gem as our suite Steward . In fact we now count him as a friend rather than just a steward. Our table waiter in the dining room was another great bloke. We in fact declined to participate in the ‘compulsory gratuities package’ and instead directly tipped those we had direct contact with and had established a rapport with. Overall we had a great time. Cruising is all about what you make of it and who you meet along the way. It is amazing how much you can relax – you won’t believe just how tired you get doing nothing Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We took a 16 night cruise from Perth, Australia, and disembarked in Sydney. We chose the Explorer of the Seas because it covered several ports in South Australia, with visits to both islands of New Zealand. Unlike our initial experience ... Read More
We took a 16 night cruise from Perth, Australia, and disembarked in Sydney. We chose the Explorer of the Seas because it covered several ports in South Australia, with visits to both islands of New Zealand. Unlike our initial experience with Royal Caribbean to Alaska which was excellent, the quality of the food and entertainment was sorely lacking. In addition, we and another couple at our table encountered rudeness by a buffet server and at our dinner table when a guest was served a dried out entry that was uneatable. Rather than the chief apologizing and offering to serve her another dish, he argued with her at the table! While we are seniors, we felt we were on a geriatric cruise as the mean age of guests had to be about 70, with an unusually large percentage of canes and wheelchairs present. Also, we felt like cattle being directed to meeting places to wait for tours to depart, then encountering long lines and masses of people. Everything was a profit center with outrageous prices charged for internet service, drinks and for the privilege of dining at restaurants on board where the food was excellent. The mandatory tips charged to our account were outrageous, amounting to over $850. Even the Captain included?? They could have eliminated half the evening shows. In my opinion, as long as it was loud, it "worked" for the cruise director who didn't miss an opportunity to participate/perform in some entertainment events on board himself. It bothered me that he spent time taking about disembarkation four days before, like they couldn't wait to get rid of us. We could have saved money by not upgrading to a balcony suite because the weather on many of the days at sea ,while sunny, temperatures were too cold to sit outside and at times, the water rough. Of course no one has control over weather conditions and we were told that it was projected to be "late" summer. Our cabin was adequate, and the bed comfortable. However, initially our bathroom smelled like a backed up sewer with the floor flooding after a shower was taken due to a clogged shower drain. This should have been corrected before our occupancy, not after we complained about it. Finally, all the windows throughout the ship were dirty, with no effort made to keep at least the dining/buffet area windows clean. We are well traveled, having spent at least 70 weeks in Europe, 12 trips to South Africa and many trips to Mexico touring independently. Additionally, while this was our 8th cruise, we have never been so disappointed as we were with this Royal Caribbean Cruise. We have decided that any future cruises taken will be of shorter duration, with another cruise line and on a smaller ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Started off the cruise with a 200 metre long queue in the hot Perth sun, supposedly because of norovirus which turned out to have been two sectors before. Elderly people standing in the heat for hours with their baggage just to drop off ... Read More
Started off the cruise with a 200 metre long queue in the hot Perth sun, supposedly because of norovirus which turned out to have been two sectors before. Elderly people standing in the heat for hours with their baggage just to drop off the bags and once into the terminal more long delays. No seats or cold drinks offered. A strange new policy never encountered before was to do the 5 one hour time changes between Australia and New Zealand between 12 midday and 1pm instead of the usual 2am so we lost an hour of our entertainment which would have been okay except that they then changed back to the normal 2am change when we headed back to Australia when we should have gained back the 2 hours during the day... is this more cost cutting by Royal Caribbean? Also now only shampoo, hand lotion, etc available by request instead of automatically in your stateroom, and the price of all the duty free alcohol was raised by $2 per bottle once the ship arrived in Perth. More bad news, they ran out of granola, prunes and even had run out of apple sauce to serve with the roast pork. Then the high light of this cruise was the cruising through the Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds. Despite the weather not being too kind, we did go through both Milford and Doubtful but Dusky Sounds was dropped with no explanation (and it wasn't weather related as the grapevine alerted us to this the day before) and the commentary was a wasted effort as the poor man couldn't be heard over the public address system. The excuse was that they "were working on it". Sad that they didn't use the system that calls you to go to Bingo or the Art Sales, which can be heard all over the ship. Having said all that, the cruise itself was quite nice, although the larger ships do tend to lose the nice intimate feeling that the smaller ships have, and there is a marked lack of sitting areas that are not in bars. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We were advised prior to departure that there would be delays in boarding, supposedly due to the outbreak of norovirus,which turned out to have been on the ship 2 legs prior, but as we were flying in from Brisbane and had arranged a ship ... Read More
We were advised prior to departure that there would be delays in boarding, supposedly due to the outbreak of norovirus,which turned out to have been on the ship 2 legs prior, but as we were flying in from Brisbane and had arranged a ship transfer, we had no option but to arrive any later.The queues were horrendous, up to 180 metres long and in the hot sun, some of these passengers queuing were quite elderly too, but no cold drinks or chairs on offer, and that was only to get into the terminal building itself.Then the long snake queue to get to the check in counter. All okay then but by the time we reached Adelaide 3 days later, they had run out of granola, prunes and apple sauce for the roast pork, despite there being apples available in the Windjammer.And the duty free liquor had risen by $2 a bottle according to friends that had boarded in Singapore! Then we get to the time changes, the first ship I have sailed on where we were required to do time changes of 1 hour forward in the middle of the day(and there were to be 5 of them on this voyage) which was reluctantly accepted, only to find that on the return fronmNZ to Sydney, the 2 one hour time changes were to be done at the normal time of 2am.Penny pinching by RCL perhaps? On that subject, they have cut out the courtesy shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion(now available only on request if you know to ask for it) and on my first night I didn't even have any soap! Trivia is about the only free activity on the ship, so it was always packed, and the Schooner bar is far too inadequate for the number of people wanting to play, but there is a shortage of seating areas on the ship after they converted one lounge into an extra 5 cabins.And always a shortage of pencils to play with, surely they make enough from our fares to supply enough pencils. The weather wasn't kind, although Royal Caribbean is not to blame for that, but it did mean that the pool area and the outdoor activities were not able to be used much, very windy and often a big swell. The major disappointment was the visit to the fjords.It was on the itinerary that Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds were to be visited but somehow Dusky was skipped, not due to the weather as we heard that it was being deleted the night before, although nothing official was said.Even the guest lecturer was under the impression that all 3 sounds were to be visited. But the biggest let down of all was the commentary as we traversed the Sounds.It was completely inaudible, unless you stood directly under the speakers, from where it was impossible to view anything, and complaints to the front desk fell on deaf ears, (they were looking into it). The only other comment is this business RCL seem to have adopted about having the waiters walking around the bars and sitting areas trying to sell off meals in the speciality restaurants, even including the Sapphire dining room while you are eating!! This is embarrassing to both staff and guests, and should stop. Despite this, the staff, although seemingly overworked after staff cuts, were helpful and friendly, and the cabin and the itinerary were suitable for me. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Firstly the winds blew from day 1 to last day - impossible to use outer decks. Solarium has no roof so useless. All that crew who would have been on deck disappeared cos they sure didn't offer anything extra indoors and it was ... Read More
Firstly the winds blew from day 1 to last day - impossible to use outer decks. Solarium has no roof so useless. All that crew who would have been on deck disappeared cos they sure didn't offer anything extra indoors and it was BORING! Movies suitable for teenagers not those on board with average age of 55. After Day 1 they stopped their usual salad bar in the dining room and it never reappeared. Lunch menu repeated every couple of days and same as past few cruises. Guest entertainers were mostly well past their good times and many we had seen time and time again. Shop stocked same goods as all past cruises. In the Diamond Club but doubt we will go again withRoyal Cbean - 10 years ago their entertainment was Las Vegas style every night, now it's like a localRSL. If you haven't cruised before you might enjoy it but once you've had 5 cruises with them it's time to change. Tried to talk to staff about nil to do indoors - said they couldn't Helps! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean having been with several other cruise lines previously. But I'm afraid it will almost certainly be our last. The check-in procedure at Freemantle was a disaster. We had to queue for a ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean having been with several other cruise lines previously. But I'm afraid it will almost certainly be our last. The check-in procedure at Freemantle was a disaster. We had to queue for a very long time in an incredibly hot building with no air conditioning. Eventually the fans were put on to waft the hot air around. People fainted and most were quite / very angry. It was certainly the worst embarkation we have ever expereinced. We like to have breakfast in the restaurant rather than go self service. They didn't have enough capacity on one deck leading to a very long wait so on day two they moved it to another deck. The upshot of this was that the kitchen staff weren't ready as nobody had told them. So we had to wait an hour for breakfast with no apology. When I complained to a senior person all I got was excuses. The dinner menu in the restaurant was the poorest I had ever seen. On day one we wondered where the rest of it was. The menus were probably equivalent to pub food in the UK. They still have so called 'fomal nights' but the menu on those evenings seemed even worse than normal. Lasagne was top of the list on one so called formal night. What is the point in dressing up for that? The same things appeared on the menu many times during the cruise, sometimes under a different guise. It's the only cruise I have ever been on where the food was better in the buffet than in the restaurant. The wine list was hit and miss. The was a 'special' wine list featuring the wines of Australia and New Zealand which turned out to be a folded piece of paper which came out of the wine waiter's pocket. On day one they had run out of one of the wines. The Cruise director was poor and the shows average. On the plus side most of the staff were helpful and happy, the lectures were excellent and the cabin was very good. We didn't take any of their shore excursions as we obtained them much cheaper by booking ourselves. We spoke to seceral people who had been on this cruise line previously and they said this was much worse than they expected from previous experience. They certainly need to do much better. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Enjoyable cruise overall but.. Inclement weather meant that outside decks were closed, but nothing that was planned for outside amusement was replaced .that meant a lot of time with absolutely no activities planned...and very few areas ... Read More
Enjoyable cruise overall but.. Inclement weather meant that outside decks were closed, but nothing that was planned for outside amusement was replaced .that meant a lot of time with absolutely no activities planned...and very few areas in the ship that you could sit and look out to sea....Dizzys ( for the lucky few that managed a seat) and one bar downstairs that had a porthole. Lack of enforcement of the smoking policy....the whole pool deck wreaked of smoke at times and blew into the solarium.....RCL even provided ashtrays for smokers use at the tables outside the pool bar on deck 12....not a smoking area Organize movies that appeal to the demographic.....minions movie at 6 & 9 pm was just plain lazy....really need a cinema on board if this ship is going to be in colder climes. Comedian that was on stage on the last night was inappropriate in content and language, very poor taste. Found the food to be fresh, varied and nicely presented in both windjammers and sapphire ...but did find service to be slow in saphire Staff were courteous and friendly. A lot more organisation needs to be thought about with getting passengers off the ship on shore days....a bit of a free for all. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
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 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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