Explorer Dream Entertainment & Activities
The two-deck Zodiac Theatre is the ship's largest venue, with tiered seating so that everyone gets a good view of the shows. Shows are held once per night and include musicals, dance, magic, aerialist performances and special guest bands. Ladies Night is held on the last evening at 11.30 pm, with an adults-only ticketed show ($30) starring the Dream Boys performing sexy, choreographed dance routines. (Don't sit in an aisle seat or the front row if you don't want to be dragged up on stage to participate.) In the mornings of port days, the theatre is used as a meeting point for guests booked on shore excursions.
Activities include bridge tours to meet the captain, magic and juggling classes, bingo, trivia, game shows, destination lectures, live music, poolside dance and fitness, laughter yoga, movies on the big screen in the Grand Piazza, and craft classes to make things such as friendship bracelets, bookmarks, potpourri and finger puppets. The Zone is a family-friendly lounge with an ice hockey table, virtual reality (VR) computer games, PlayStation and Nintendo Wii U. The Esc Experience Lab is equipped with the latest VR/AR gaming technology for playing a variety of simulator and arcade games.
Explorer Dream throws seven parties over seven nights. Themes include '70s and '80s, Mexican Fiesta, Masquerade and Pyjamas, as well as a White Party, where passengers wear white clothing, and glow in the dark, where they dress in bright colours. Other options include listening to live music, watching live sports events or movies on the Grand Piazza's big screen, dancing, shopping, karaoke, trivia, fitness classes, virtual reality experience 'happy hour' and participating in or watching the guest talent show. The casino is huge, allows smoking and attracts a lot of gamblers until late.
During the Australia season, Explorer Dream presents an adults-only show called Dream Boys featuring muscular male dancers performing an interactive performance with sexy, choreographed dance routines. Held on the last night of the cruise, Dream Boys is restricted to passengers aged over 18; tickets cost $30.
Explorer Dream Bars and Lounges
For an Australia-based ship, Explorer Dream lacks a wide range of bars. Drinks attract an 18 per cent gratuity plus 10 per cent GST when in an Australian port or cruising near the coast; New Zealand's GST of 15 per cent is added when the ship cruises there. Beverage packages can be purchased for a flat fee for the duration of your cruise, starting at $338 per person (for seven days of beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks) or $615 with the addition of spirits.
Lobby Cafe (Deck 7): Added in the 2019 refurbishment, this is a long counter that sells alcoholic beverages, mostly beers, as well as tea, coffee and cakes. There is no seating at the bar but the adjacent Grand Piazza has lots of tables and chairs set up in front of a big screen that broadcasts sports and movies. It's a lively area but often lacks a fun ambience because it backs onto the guest services desk.
Mahjong Lounge (Deck 7): Open 24 hours, this is simply a few tables in the middle of a food court. Drinks can be ordered from the table but the clientele is mainly Chinese men playing mahjong.
Palace Bar (Deck 8): This private and sophisticated small bar is accessible only to guests booked in The Palace suites. The plush, creamy leather stools are perfect to settle in for a chat with the bartender while waiting for your cocktail.
Palm Court (Deck 12): The ship's main bar is this large indoor venue with a dancefloor. Live music and theme parties are held here in the evenings. It is used for art and craft classes, dance lessons, trivia and afternoon teatime with a musical duo during the day. Drinks, especially cocktails, are brought to your table, but service is slow. The atmosphere is fun when a party is well attended but fairly lacklustre when it is quiet; however, it's a nicely refurbished space for an indoor drink with ocean-view wrap-around windows and tropical decor. Open from 8 am until 2 am.
Humidor Lounge (Deck 12): Near Palm Court, this cosy room allows smoking. Passengers can buy a Cuban cigar and ask the sommelier to match it with a single malt, cognac, port or wine. Open from 8 am until 2 am.
Sun Deck Bar (Deck 13): This outdoor eatery overlooking the pool has a bar on the side with tables and chairs to sit at, but it sometimes feels like you're crashing the restaurant. It's the closest thing to a pool bar on the ship, so grab a sofa on the side to enjoy the views and occasional live music. Open from 9 am until midnight.
Explorer Dream Outside Recreation
The main pool on Deck 12 is surrounded by sun-loungers, tables and chairs. There are four hot tubs and a slow-moving waterslide that ends in a separate area to avoid splashing people in the pool. Drinks trolleys are set up poolside on Australia and New Zealand cruises to cater for the local market as the nearest bar is on the deck upstairs, housed within the Seafood Grill eatery. Live music is performed on a small stage a couple of times a day, along with dance classes, but otherwise it's a relaxing space for sunbathing.
The Palace has its own private pool at the back of the ship on Deck 8. Reserved for passengers booked in The Palace suites, it has a wonderfully spacious pool deck with lots of tables, chairs, couches, sun-loungers and shaded cabanas spread across three tiers with ocean views.
Explorer Dream does not have outside recreation facilities, except for the waterslide and sports court.
Deck 13 overlooking the pool deck has plenty of comfortable sun-loungers with small side tables, ideal for reading or relaxing away from the crowd.
Explorer Dream Services
The ship has a wide range of shops, guest services desk, shore excursions desk, box office for bridge tour tickets and private ballroom dance classes, mahjong lounge and a photography corner. A function room can also be booked for meetings and conferences.
Wi-Fi packages can be purchased from the Dream Cruises app: prices for up to two devices to be used simultaneously start at $24 per night for a basic package or $32 for faster speeds allowing light streaming; six nights costs $144 standard or $192 premium.