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66 Royal Caribbean Canary Islands Cruise Reviews

Remember this song ?There was no land in sight !!!! October 25th was quite a nice day to embark on our 11 night cruise to the Canaries I have been on this cruise many times and couldn't wait to sail. Embarkation was reasonable ... Read More
Remember this song ?There was no land in sight !!!! October 25th was quite a nice day to embark on our 11 night cruise to the Canaries I have been on this cruise many times and couldn't wait to sail. Embarkation was reasonable but being Diamond does not seem to have that preferential treatment it used to ....sadly . Once onboard we were able to go straight to the cabin which was one of the last two available as we only booked three days prior to sailing at a great price too I hasten to add, an inside cabin on deck 8. Off we sailed and we were nowhere near the Bay of Biscay before we heard the most awful crashing at the front of the ship which was apparently the waves ! The ship was pretty rocky and there were several falls and lots of sickness all of which I have never witnessed before . The Captain informed us the weather was bad but would settle down which it eventually did a day later lol We ate in the main dining room svereal times but we were the only people on a table of six there were lots of tables likes this and despite asking to sit with others it was never granted so we decided to eat at at the Windjammer instead, The food was very good I especially enjoyed the curries and seafood of which their was plenty . The entertainment was not very good at all and sadly the cruise director not much better he gave you no incentive to put the tv on and find out what was happening .The only entertainer who drew crowds every night was Perry Grant he sang in the Schooner bar and he was my reason for going on this cruise this was the third time I had seen him in a year .The bar was packed and it was standing room only every night The audience participation was second to none on this cruise it was hilarious . After we had visited Madeira, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria the weather had started to take a turn for the worse for our route home and apparently we would approach four storms ,after a lot of confusing hearsay we were told that we would not be visiting Vigo nor La coruna and in fact we would be spending four extra days onboard to avoid the storms . We reached Lanzarote (theres a great zara in Lanzarote ) and some people disembarked , obviously this change of itinerary affeceted lots of people in many ways either children not being able to return to school and people waiting to have surgery that they could not rebook as they did not know how long before it would be rescheduled and some people just desperately wanting to get back to ther own businesses . Eventually the ship sailed and the Captain announced that we would now be stopping at Malaga for two days then a further two days in Lisbon ,I for one was elated I love Malaga, and Lisbons Antiques and general market was due to be held on the day we arrived (Tuesday ). The weather In Malaga was quite windy and there were several ships in port it was very busy the market was on but it was a thouroughly enjoyable stop,again some passengers disembarked and I admit to being scared regarding the seas as we sailed away . We arrived In Lisbon and it was cloudy with a few showers The market was great as you look from the ship its behind The Dome to your right so not far and I took a 10 euro tuk tuk there and walked back down the hill . As we sailed away from Lisbon we heard that our Captain had in fact given up his own vacation to keep us safe which I think is to be admired . People were apprehensive mainly because we had experienced such bad weatther on the way out ,We did feel more movement and I believe that peoples cabins were changed away from the front , we never felt a thing in our cabin as it was inside and midship .some people stayed in their rooms as they were unable stand up due to the movement and sickness and some people slept on the sofas on deck 11 as they felt the fresh air helped . Miraculously we avoided the worst of the four storms and reached Southampton late on the Thursday evening and started disemabarking about 20.30 . The passengers that left the shipprior to Southampton were offered £300 each as compensation to get home and I managed to claim on my travel insurance for delay and received £200.Passengers that had the drink package had to pay their own for the extra four days which was not appreciated by some .Unfortunately The Explorer was due to commence a Transartlantic Cruise and this itinerary was also changed they missed all the ports bar one and also lost four days so I believe lots cancelled .I will think twice before booking October and November in future as things could have been far worse but thanks to our Captain this time they were not . Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was our 3rd cruise on Indy and our first since it was refurbished. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with very little to complain about. I would say though that I preferred the ship before all the added whistles and bells. The ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on Indy and our first since it was refurbished. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with very little to complain about. I would say though that I preferred the ship before all the added whistles and bells. The overall condition of the ship was very good. The food in Windjammer and the MDR was some of the best we have had on any of our cruises and our waiting staff in the restaurant couldn't be faulted. Our balcony cabin was fine although the storage was limited and the wardrobe was badly set out. It was clean and functional. We rarely saw our cabin steward as we had nothing to ask him for as it was all there. We found a sun bed easily every day without resorting to getting up at the crack of dawn and in spite of reading in a recent review that people are charged $10.00 if the towels aren't returned at night this is simply not true. The only time you are charged is at the end of the cruise if the towels aren't returned. We never returned a towel at the end of the day merely changed them without showing our passes. We were served fairly quickly in all the bars we went to and also found a seat at all the shows.. Grease was particularly good and also The Jersey Boys show. The Cruise Director Cubby was just OK. We wish they would change the shows along the Promenade as they have been doing the same thing down Main Street for years now. The shops were a major disappointment on his cruise.. Normally there are carts with different items along Main Street but most nights there was one or none. Overall a great cruise Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We’ve recently returned from a 14 night cruise of Spain and the Canary Islands. It’s our second time on this ship and our fourth with RCI. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this holiday because I did, but there were a few issues that ... Read More
We’ve recently returned from a 14 night cruise of Spain and the Canary Islands. It’s our second time on this ship and our fourth with RCI. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this holiday because I did, but there were a few issues that prevent me from giving this a five star review. The ship and the staff are incredible. Despite being very busy we didn’t encounter any of the over-crowding problems mentioned in other reviews. It never took more than a couple of minutes to get a drink, even at busy times. The food was generally good. The main dining room seems to have slipped a little since last year, but it’s still good. The speciality restaurants are all excellent and not too expensive if you pre-book a dining package before you get on board. I enjoyed all the bars and felt we received great service from the staff right across the ship. The delux drinks package is well worth having, with a great selection of spirits and cocktails. What lets it down is the quality of the wines. The reds and whites are pretty poor and the “champagne” is awful. It’s a non-descript sparking French wine which smells like a clogged drain. Our cabin, a balcony on deck 6, was okay. It looked a little tired in the places and the carpets and curtains were outdated, but it was a good size and kept clean and tidy. I slept well every night, even in rough seas, so the bed was very comfortable. The entertainment was excellent. There’s a first-rate production of Grease and the ice shows are stunning. The themed nights on the promenade are good fun though they do get very crowded and hot. We had a party under the stars one night on the upper decks which was fun too. What let the holiday down for me was the large number of children and teenagers onboard. We deliberately went during school term time but this seemed to make no difference. I know the Scottish half term took place during this fortnight but most of the kids were English, meaning they’d been kept out school for this trip. It resulted in all the issues raised in previous reviews: kids running around unsupervised, playing in the lifts late at night, etc. We were also unfortunate to encounter a lot of Diamond class snobs on this cruise. They bragged about the Diamond lounge like it was the holy grail, then proceeded to moan about it: how small it is, how common it’s become, how there are too many diamond members on the ship and they were forced to mingle with the “riff raff”. We had four of these people on a table of eight at dinner and I found the constant moaning to be a drain, especially in the second week. Not RC’s fault, just the luck of draw for table seating. I wouldn’t like to think I’d ever go on a huge, beautiful ship and spend most of my time sitting in a single cafeteria-style room, not matter how many points I’d achieved, just to feel special. The itinerary was good, with a nice balance of sea and shore days. I always enjoy the sea days with plenty to do across the ship. We had a bit off iffy weather on the way back: 5 metre waves and 60 mph winds, but the ship handled it well and with the stabilizers engaged it wasn’t too bad at all. It took about six hours to get through the worst of it, which we spent on a low deck, midship with little to worry about. So, to summarise, Independence is a wonderful ship with lots of do and enjoy, let down by the odd issue here and there. But with the recent refit designed to appeal to families rather than couples, I don’t think I’ll be sailing on her, or any RC ship, anytime soon. I’d rather book with an adult only company and guarantee a child free, more relaxing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Wanted a longer cruise outside the school holiday. Never been to the Canaries before. The ship was Beaty with a lot of decoration and art. Clean and good taken care of. Our incide cabin had everything we needed and a lot of places to ... Read More
Wanted a longer cruise outside the school holiday. Never been to the Canaries before. The ship was Beaty with a lot of decoration and art. Clean and good taken care of. Our incide cabin had everything we needed and a lot of places to store our things, perfectly located on deck nine between the two lifts. Our stateroom attendant Ida did a Great job and kept it clean and was so nice to us all the time. Had read so many reviews about the need of upgrade, but that was not my experience. Always chairs available outside and it was never difficult to swim in the three pools or find a place in one of the jacuzzi. The food was very good. Specially impressed by the food in Windjammer that had a lot of choices. Also had very nice food in the MD and very good service thanks to Luise and Felix. Did take the Galley brunch and visit the kitchen and can understand how much work it is for the people in the kitchen and for the waiters to serve all the passengers. Also had some meals in chops grill and Giovanni as part of a prebooked 5dinner package. The entertainment was overall very good with some extra memorable experiences as the ice-show, the Barricade boys, Perry Grant and Craig Halliday. Cuddly was a very good as entertainment manager. Only one bad experience; with the spa treatment with a big pressure of bying products, so don’t think I will take any more spa treatments in the future. Did very excursion wit RCCL in Lisbon and Agadir. The Hippo Hippo tour with Anna in Lisbon was fantastic fun and let us see some of the major places. I don’t think We would like to go by our self in Agadir but had an very nice guide and did not felt unsafe during the excursion. I also think they was so pushing selling things in Agadir as earlier experience in Morocco. The best excursion we had was in Lanzarote with Lanzarote Experience. We had a group of 13 with our very nice guide and driver Angela on the whole day trip called grand tour. We was able to see the Timanfaya National Park, wine growing area, cactus garden, Cuevas de los Verdes and Jameos del Agua. We also had a tour in La Corunna with Hercules tours, a two hour tour around the city. The other places as Vigo, Las Palmas and Madeira we just walked around the city, easy from the chip. Will recommend Navigator and the Canaries. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
First time on Indy and highly impressed. Embarkation was seamless as was all service once aboard. After the recent refurb, the ship was radiant and fun to explore. Was told cabins had not been refreshed but ours was as good as new, ... Read More
First time on Indy and highly impressed. Embarkation was seamless as was all service once aboard. After the recent refurb, the ship was radiant and fun to explore. Was told cabins had not been refreshed but ours was as good as new, spacious, spotless and with a deep balcony. Had been a bit worried with some reviews...kids running round, drunken antics, overcrowded...but this was not the case on our September cruise. A good mix of passengers and came across no problems. I have not given 5 stars because I did feel there was a lack of queit space/coffee shop options and had the ship been any fuller ( school holidays?), I would call it overcrowded. Think the extra cabins installed during the refit are not in the interest of overall passenger comfort/experience. Staff were brilliant, friendly without being overbearing. Never came across the selling hype. Main dining room food and that it the Windjammer was good, but certainly not exceptional. We had My Time dining but in reality had to book a fixed time as there was not availability between 6.30 and 8.00. Only had lunch in The Winjammer. Breakfasted in MDR buffet and never waited more than 5 minutes for a table for two. Often straight in and that was always between 8.30 and 9.15. Entertainment was very good. The 90 minute Grease show and The Bohemians Queen tribute band stood out....as did the 9 piece orchestra. Loved the music in the different bars too e.g. Mattiz in Boleros Latin bar. Joff Eaton was briiliant as the Entertainment Director...especially in whipping up the crowds on the two Royal Promenade street parties. Joff is both highly professional and approachable. I do think Sailaways could be more of an occasion as they are on some other lines. We had the deluxe drinks package which probably meant we drank a fair bit more than we would otherwise...and often resulted in a late night tasty slice of pizza from Sorrento's! Always good service across the bars. Normal bar prices are expensive. Many of the new additions are aimed at children/youngsters which we did not use much. Did enjoy watching the surfers on the Flowrider at the stern. Loved the Independence Dunes mini golf at the front of the ship. Indy has an excellent promenade deck on Deck 4 and you can get to the bow of the ship on Deck 5. We didn't use the sunbeds..hundreds of them. However, if you looked around there were always some free. Would liked to have seen more upright chairs on deck. The itinerary was excellent. Nine ports over 15 days. All lovely and easily accessible from the ship. We went on 2 ship excursions (farm and Agaete on Gran Canaria and Teide volcanoes walk on Tenerife) and the guides excelled with their knowledge and humour on both trips. The whole RCI and Indy experience proved better than what we had envisaged. If RCI can positively address the issues which seem to have dogged the school holiday cruises, Indy will continue to be a real winner with families. Outside of these times, Indy is a busy, lively cruise ship that has much to offer...but don't choose this ship for a quiet retreat! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Just returned from an excellent family cruise around the Canary Islands. We were a group of 6 adults and one very young child occupying three staterooms No. 8368 a port side aft balcony, No. 8690 an aft balcony and No. 1655 an internal ... Read More
Just returned from an excellent family cruise around the Canary Islands. We were a group of 6 adults and one very young child occupying three staterooms No. 8368 a port side aft balcony, No. 8690 an aft balcony and No. 1655 an internal virtual Balcony. The port side balcony was very roomy with a 4 seat couch. The aft balcony stateroom was rather restricted in size for the 2 adults and a small child in a cot. The virtual balcony stateroom was more like a broom cupboard with room only for a bed and one chair. Due to a slight mix upin our transport arrangements to the Southampton cruise terminal, we arrived rather early at around 10:30hrs. Much to our surprise and delight we were ushered immediately through both security and the check in process and were on board the Navigator by 10:45hrs. My wife and I settled down in the Solarium while the others charged around the almost deserted ship. The staterooms were opened up on schedule at 13:00hrs and our luggage was delivered around 14:30, an Ideal start to any cruise. The required safety drill was held at 16:30 and we set off soon after on our way down the Solent and into the English channel. Ports of Call: Apart from Gran Canary the time scheduled in the various ports was rather limited, which was a bit annoying. I assume these timings were fixed to reduce the very costly consumption of ships fuel when travelling at max speed and not for our benefit. We managed to walk into each of the ports taking between 20 to 30 minutes to do so. At this time of the year, with the temperatures around 23C it made for a very pleasant and easy walk. Entertainment: We watched the majority of the shows and there were some very good acts and some average. The RCL singers and band put on an excellent performance on one occasion, simply singing well know musical numbers. The slightly different ventriloquist and the string quartet acts were excellent. The Ice show as normal was superb; ice dancing on a moving ship has to be classed as very impressive. There were lots of organised quizzes and music playing around the ship so overall I would say it was good value for the money. Have to mention we were not too overly impressed by the cruise director; her rapport with the audience at the shows etc. was rather limited. Dinning Food and Beverage. Very pleased to report, that the Windjammer on the Navigator we consider to be the best in the fleet. “The Hot food was kept hot” and “The cold food cold” we have done numerous cruises with RCL where the windjammer food was served lukewarm. There was also a noticeable change in the variety of food served and with more British style dishes on offer and also in the quality which we though was much improved. Fully agree with many reviewers if you go in the windjammer at the peak times it is occasionally very hard to find an empty table. We avoid this issue by going in either early or later and avoid the busy peak times at breakfast and lunch. The food in the main dinning room was much of an RCL standard and both our waiters Chetan and Wilson were excellent, with no request for changes or additions being too difficult for them to achieve. I can never fully understand some cruise reviews where there are complaints about insufficient quantity, when all you have to do is ask for more…… Two of our party had a full drinks package, two had a soft drinks package and we had the loyalty free drinks a plenty in the evening and a coffee package. Our grandson stuck with his formula milk…. Various points: The normal hard sell to upgrade or buy RCL packages was in evidence but thankfully was not quite so pronounced or long lasting as we have experienced on previous RCL cruises. The ship appeared to be in very good and clean condition, having been I believe recently refurbished. The photo prices and ship booked excursions are now so costly, we seldom purchase either. Our stateroom safe proved somewhat temperamental from day one and failed completely on day three. This was removed from our stateroom for service but regrettably no immediate replacement was a available. From anecdotal evidence I believe there were issues with quite a number of safes. We were offered use of a safe deposit box in the customer relations office however that would hardly have been convenient to use on a regular basis. There would appear to be very little in the way of onboard services for the under 1 year olds. This despite having to pay almost full price fare and be expected to pay full gratuities…. In respect of gratuities, we along with many many others removed our auto gratuities on the first day. There appeared to be pages of people doing this. After years of paying full rate gratuities, cruise after cruise, we have decided to stop doing so. We gave tips to every person who served us a beverage, also to our stateroom attendant to our MD waiters and a couple of servers in the windjammer who we got to know. Having gone up from a reasonable 6$ to 14$, it is just not on. It is now long past time the various cruise companies to pay improved wages to all their staff and not rely on gratuities to compensate for low wages. Sad to say we encountered quite a few drunken passengers this cruise, who as well as being unable to hold their liquor were unable to control their foul mouthed language. Acceptable this may be in in some places but most certainly not on a family cruise ship, it is not pleasant to see people staggering around, cursing and swearing. Never did hear the fate of Mr and Mrs Thomson of Deck 5 who sadly missed the ship sailing from port, mid cruise. The Captain took the time to explain that he had to sail on time to make the next port on schedule. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this cruise for the late summer sun, sailing from Southampton (just up the coast for us now). It was our 5th time on IoTS - so we knew what to expect. Boarding was efficient as ever, and our luggage reached us at a reasonable ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the late summer sun, sailing from Southampton (just up the coast for us now). It was our 5th time on IoTS - so we knew what to expect. Boarding was efficient as ever, and our luggage reached us at a reasonable hour. We had a "D" grade superior ocean view with balcony stateroom, so there was plenty of room to store our belongings and to not feel claustrophobic. Ramesh looked after us very well, responding to our few requests promptly. We joined the Facebook group who had organised a cabin crawl (thank you very much), and we found it very interesting seeing the other grades of cabins. We have visited the Canary Islands on few occasions, as well as Western Spain and Lisbon, so didn't feel the need to do shore excursions. It's a steep climb to go anywhere in Vigo, but EL Corte Inglese is well worth a visit if you want any cosmetics. They also have good, free wifi and good coffee!. Lisbon doesn't look quite as down-at-heel as it did 4 or 5 years ago. Hopefully it is starting to recover from the crash of 2008. The City Sightseeing Ho-Ho buses are good value here. Don't forget to keep your ticket to get 10% off your next ride on City Sightseeing. Cadiz is a beautiful town. It was glorious walking around the city wall areas with the parks. La Palma was new to us, but we had been to the other 3 islands. As usual, we visited one on a Sunday and it was closed!! Sunday definitely seems to be a family day there. In Madeira, we visited Blandy's to buy some of their Madiera wine. Made our suitcases heavy to take off ship, but we managed. We took a private excursion in La Coruna. This was very good value. The coach was waiting for us, close to where the ship docked, and we had a tour around the town and out to the Roman Lighthouse, with a very knowledgeable guide. We had arranged anytime dining, in Romeo and Juliet. However, I developed a cold during the first week, and didn't want to inflict it on others, so we mainly dined in the WIndjammer. The food in the Windjammer is excellent; I felt the choices on the MDR menu (we looked anyway) were not as good as previous cruises. We often lunched in the Café Promenade. The choices there were definitely not as good as previous cruises. One day, there were 3 different rolls and a tuna wrap. The rolls were mozzarella and something, Brie and something or 3 cheeses. So cheese, cheese or cheese. Drinks prices were extortionate, but we are very fortunate in that we have attained entry to the Diamond Lounge, so a couple of glasses of wine a night went down very well! The staff and crew are wonderful. They are so cheerful, helpful and polite. We didn't go to much of the entertainment, though we did see Grease, which was excellent. My husband was really looking forward to the Queen tribute band, but even he complained that the theatre sound systems drowned out the singing. Disembarkation was a little delayed. A crew emergency on the Friday night meant that we reached Southampton an hour late, with the consequent delay in the crew getting luggage off. What's good about Indy? The ambience, the crew, the staff, the whole experience. What's not so good? (I wont say bad). The food is letting her down a little - corners are being cut. Extras are costing more and more: excursions, drinks, duty free, cosmetics. I am concerned that there will be reportedly 64 more cabins after the refit. That's potentially 128 more people to fill the bars, the WIndjammer, the cafes, the pools, get on and off ship etc. School holidays are a time to avoid anyway, but in future the ship will be bursting at the seams with the 3rd and 4th beds filled. We don't have another cruise booked on Indy, but we will. Let's hope we won't be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We booked this cruise to enjoy some decent weather, for most of the cruise, as we had awful weather at home. Unfortunately we didn't realise that schools in some parts of the country, were on holiday....bad idea when sailing from ... Read More
We booked this cruise to enjoy some decent weather, for most of the cruise, as we had awful weather at home. Unfortunately we didn't realise that schools in some parts of the country, were on holiday....bad idea when sailing from Southampton ! Our Junior suite was very comfortable, plenty of storage space in the walk in wardrobe, & the shower, over the bath, was powerful & hot. Valerio, our stateroom attendant was attentive, & cleaned our room early, as he knew we were early risers. Jacki, Ralph & Antonio in the Concierge lounge, were delightful people, helpful, efficient & engaging. This lounge was a haven to which we could retreat from the masses, in the late afternoon & early evening. We met some lovely people here & enjoyed their company in the evening. We did not attend many events, although enjoyed the Bohemians, as did all the audience. The two ice shows were spectacular, especially Freeze Frame. We have seen both shows before, but thought that FF was the best ever, with experienced, energetic performers. The violinist in Strings, was, as usual, very good, & it was a joy to listen to some classical music, instead of a modern, loud cacophony of noise ! Captain Ted McCourt, enrichment lecturer on aviation, was outstanding. We have heard him on a previous cruise, when he gave many lectures, but on this cruise, he was limited to only four. His knowledge & delivery was superb, and we could have listened to him for much longer than the allocated hour. The only criticism,which had nothing to do with him, was the venue. Goodness knows why he was allocated the Conference Room, a small, hot, airless place, but maybe RCCL thought the majority of the cruisers would not be interested in attending a lecture.....by the last day, we were in the theatre. The last time we heard him, we were moved to the theatre after a couple of lectures, as the numbers wishing to listen to him grew rapidly. I hasten to add, on that cruise, we did not sail from Southampton. The best news we heard was that smoking, at long last, has been banned from the casino. We have been complaining, as have others, for many years, about the smoke in that venue, which permeates through to other areas. Alas, some people smoked on their balcony, but even that ceased after a few days, so maybe their anti smoking policy is working. We suspect that the people concerned were advised about going against the rules, or at least we hope so ! We ate our breakfast in the Diamond Lounge, as it was very civilised to have a plate of fruit, followed by coffee, looking out over the sea, in quiet surroundings. Normally, we were the only ones in the lounge,apart from Laura, Diamond Concierge & John, Giovanni's waiter, who looked after the food & coffee machine, as we stated, we are early risers. Both these people were again, friendly & helpful. Lunch, if taken, was a light snack in the Windjammer, which was adequate, or a slice of pizza on the Promenade. Dinner was either in the MDR on deck 5, or again in the Windjammer. We have sailed quite a few times, so know the restaurant menu intimately, thus our choice of alternating venues. Dining in the speciality restaurants was not worthwhile, as we are not big eaters, preferring to have one course of various items. In the MDR, we had a light starter & only a main course, forgoing anything else. Normally we have never found fault with the food, but this time, oh dear, we had a couple of culinary disasters, most notably, the Duck leg confit. This dish was disgusting....dripping in fat, tasteless, totally unhealthy and in fact, inedible. The other dish, which my husband chose, on a different night, was mince & onion...far too salty, and again not appealing. The aged Manhattan steak, which is normally a good standby, was not very good and again I was unable to finish it. I hope that the company is not trying to cut cost by purchasing inferior quality food, as that would be false economy,causing much waste. We enjoyed the ship, but we will never again sail from Southampton during the summer months, as the standard of clientele was much lower than we have ever experienced during our years of cruising. Many people were obviously on the drinks package, either purchased, or included in their fare, and were determined to make full use, & more of it. Regardless of what time we walked along the Promenade, the seats were full of people drinking alcohol, talking loudly & not caring about fellow cruisers. Unfortunately, the majority appeared to be unaware of others, as their behaviour & language was most unacceptable. On port days, sun loungers were occupied by people not interested in experiencing new places & cultures. The reason for many to be on board appeared to be able to go home sunburned,looking like a cooked lobster. Many of the older children became feral by the end of the cruise, going around in packs, being rude, and trying to outdo each other in being offensive to others. One night in the Concierge lounge, three boys stood in the doorway of the lounge when the door opened, making remarks & eventually swearing, before running away....totally uncalled for. We are going on this ship again, when she makes her return transatlantic crossing in April, so we hope we shall have a better experience than this cruise ! Finally, we must congratulate the crew for being so upbeat & friendly, in circumstances which must have been very trying for them. I certainly would not like to whistled to, or having to respond to finger snapping, in order to serve them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
As a way of explanation we are a retired couple and cruise about 3-4 times a year and our mantra is Cunard for ourselves and Royal Caribbean when we take the grandkids. In the last three months we have cruised twice by ourselves, once on a ... Read More
As a way of explanation we are a retired couple and cruise about 3-4 times a year and our mantra is Cunard for ourselves and Royal Caribbean when we take the grandkids. In the last three months we have cruised twice by ourselves, once on a 10 day Cunard Round Britain cruise and once on a 10 day Canaries cruise with Royal Caribbean. This review I by means of a direct comparison. PRICE Very similar as for both 10 day cruises we paid a bit under £2k per person. In the case of Cunard it was for a Superior Balcony and we got free parking and a bit of on board spend and on RCC we had a junior suite with the free basic drinks package (more of which later). A DRAW EMBARCATION and DISEMBARCATION Both superb, as they now have it down to an art form. We were on board within about 15 minutes on both ships and similarly leaving the ship did not entail any waiting. A DRAW CABIN Both were fine and much the same price but the Junior Suite (7714) on RCC was superb. The notion of it being a suite, is a misnomer as it gives no specific advantages apart from being at the back of the ship with a bit more room, a bigger balcony and a bath/shower rather than a shower. The Cunard cabin was just fine but the totally balcony privacy and the superb view of the wake made the RCC cabin a real winner A WIN for RCC SERVICE I cannot speak highly enough about the service on both ships and I marvel at the high and consistent level achieved by both crews. We never had a reason to complain on either ship and both crews could not do enough to make things special. It does help if one walks around oneself with a smile on ones face and treats the crew positively but that is obvious as the 'moaners' never do this, as seasoned cruisers all know A VERY HIGH SCORING DRAW. FOOD I had imagined Cunard would win this hands down but they only did on one category, the high level speciality dining. On both ships we found the normal restaurant food and the buffet food to be of a surprisingly high standard. For example both presented really good protein options with the salads such as prawns, smoked salmon, Italian meats etc and there was no evidence of cost cutting in this aspect. The choice in both of the main restaurants was very good. As to the high end speciality restaurants, which we frequent a lot on board, as we find them a real bargain given their standard, we have to say that Cunard came out on top here. Their Verandah restaurant is in our view at least 1 star Michelin level and we had the pleasure of meeting their chef, Trevor and he was a total class act and a genuine star chef. In comparison the Chops Grill concept is a bit outdated.....and although there is nothing wrong it is all a bit formulaic with the emphasis on huge jumbo prawns and huge steaks etc rather than being on culinary finesse. In comparison we thought the lower level RCC speciality restaurant of Giovanni's much more interesting and a very good Italian standard with a good choice and an excellent wine list. However we have to give the edge to Cunard but not by much and both cruise lines maintain a very high standard. A WIN FOR CUNARD JUST LOYALTY PROGRAMMES As these link with free drinks, I will talk about these first. We are Diamond members of RCC and Platinum members of Cunard... which is about equivalent in terms of numbers of cruises. However one loyalty programme is streets ahead of the other and that is RCC. By comparison Cunard is Scrooge like and this is one thing they need to look at. On RCC we were provided with a discrete lounge with free coffee, a large deck, three free drinks of any type per evening and canapés plus a free photograph each plus a number of other incentives. It says much but I can't remember what Cunard give as it so measly in comparison. A WIN FOR RCC BY A LARGE MARGIN DRINKS If you cruise you get used to all cruise lines charging high prices with high compulsary tips. It is a fact of life and so no use moaning to no avail. However RCC now push drinks packages as the solution and I for one find this unattractive. We were given the free standard package which was quite useless unless you drank beer, as the $8 wine, one could get on this package was quite undrinkable unless you had no interest of wine. It was New World garbage and we found ourselves having to buy higher priced wine. The alternative was to pay $40 a day per person for the premium package but that did not cover bottled wines for dinner, only the glasses of wine up to $12 and we had the free loyalty drinks provided each evening. However there were a lot of people on drinks packages and as a result they were drinking more alcohol, with some less than attractive side effects. We even found one guy having vodka at breakfast. In comparison there is no such emphasis on drinks packages with Cunard and I believe they are more civilised as a result and they have kept sommeliers in the dining room, a thing that is now fazed out on RCC. If one took the package element away the choice of drinks and the choices of good wine were much the same, which meant you had to pay around $50 for a decent bottle of vino. However wine is taken much more seriously on Cunard and their sommelier system is outstanding. A BIG WIN FOR CUNARD ENTERTAINMENT This is an area where there is a marked difference. If you want activity then RCC predominates with climbing walls, flow rider surf, ice skating, putting etc etc as opposed to mainly bowls and croquet on Cunard. As to indoor activities Cunard provides far more high brow activity in the form of lectures, specialist activities such as ballroom dancing and more classical as well as popular music whereas RCC were more into quizzes with everything and less demanding fare. The theatre shows were more to our taste on Cunard, as they tended to have better known vocalists and comedians but RCC had the one real showstopper with a stage production of the musical Grease, which was exceptional. Overall however Cunard was far more to our taste. A WIN FOR CUNARD AMBIENCE To be fair both have a fairly high level feel to them with luxury fittings and glitzy atrium areas and a variety of bars and speciality restaurants. Cunard puts more emphasis on formality and on standards but RCC is not hugely far behind and the standard is quite acceptable for most people. In fact the concept of having a 'main street' area in RCC is very successful and probably more interesting than the rather staid shopping precincts in Cunard. I believe although there is not a huge difference at the moment that there is going to be a considerable difference in the future due to the drinks package syndrome being pushed by RCC. This will attract less family orientated people and the ambience will change accordingly. A SMALL WIN FOR CUNARD WHCIH IS LIKELY YO TURN INTO A HUGE WIN FOR THE FUTURE THOSE LITTLE EXTRAS This is the area where Cunard wins hands down and which RCC should really so something about. When on holiday one wants to feel pampered rather than at a Travel Lodge but RCC do not seem to understand this. At the bars Cunard provide nibbles, not so RC.....Cunard provide branded toiletries, good size and quality bath towels and such things as gowns, slippers and bathroom extras .....in comparison it is real basic level stuff on RCC and the whole experience suffers as a result. Have the accountants been in to strip any semblance of luxury to save a few dollars? If so they on this count alone they will lose a great many customers. A RESOUNDING AND GAME WINNING VICTORY TO CUNARD CONCLUSION There are many very good things about both Cunard and RCC but Cunard seems to have a settled product and a settled marketing niche. In comparison RCC seem to be moving away from its trusted niche of being a family orientated ship and putting this at conflict, by trying to be an 'all in' standard brand with a high emphasis on alcohol packages and on cutting out any 'nice' extras. As such it risks being seen as more akin to such as the P&O and Travel Lodge level which if you are attracted by that is a fine thing but if not is going to be a further step away from the level Cunard and Celebrity. Going on both cruise lines, within a few months has made up my mind who I will cruise with next but as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our fifteenth cruise. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean on five occasions and this was our third trip aboard this ship the others being Brilliance and Adventure of the Seas. We have also cruised with Cunard, Princess and ... Read More
This was our fifteenth cruise. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean on five occasions and this was our third trip aboard this ship the others being Brilliance and Adventure of the Seas. We have also cruised with Cunard, Princess and Celebrity X. We very much enjoy life on board and although Independence of the Seas was visiting ports we have been to a few times before, we are happy just to relax and enjoy what the ship has to offer and hopefully a bit of sunshine. We had a Grand Suite which entitled us to a gold card with some extra privileges such as the concierge lounge and reserved theatre/ice show seats and also permission to use Chops Grille to eat our daytime meals instead of joining the scrum for a table in Windjammer. Together with the extra comfort of the room these little extras make life on board much more enjoyable. Obviously this comes at a cost but we feel it is worth paying the extra. Our room was always cleaned quickly and efficiently by our steward who was delightful as were all the staff. We always find the staff and crew to be smiling and pleasant but as a previous review so rightly states - it really is important to smile and treat them in a friendly and respectful manner rather than some of the surly attitudes that they certainly don't deserve. They are all so hard working in order to make our cruise pleasurable and they spend months away from their families so a little kindness and interest in them goes a long way. So to the actual brief .... We stayed in the Premier Inn in Winchester overnight and made our way to the port around 11am. Embarkation was a breeze and so slick. From parking the car to boarding the ship probably no more than 20 minutes. Absolutely excellent. Also disembarkation was similarly easy. Our stateroom was lovely and spacious with everything we needed. Bed was very comfy and balcony was roomy too. Dwi our room steward was excellent. The ship is still beautiful although looking a little tired in places. One gripe about it though would be that it isn't kept quite as spotless as a Celebrity Ship. Finger marks were apparent on screens and glass that had not been cleaned during the night, whereas on a Celebrity ship everything is absolutely spotlessly clean every morning although we never hear the actual cleaning process so I think it must be the fairies that come during the night!! Another small issue - again regarding tidiness and cleanliness ... we found the toilets in general, weren't up to the standard that we have come to expect when sailing with Celebrity. Brown paper towels (Celebrity provide individual flannel towels and the toilets are inspected very regularly and constantly attended every evening during the busiest periods and each cubicle is mopped between users). On the Independence I visited a cubicle at 6pm and again at 10.30pm. The same debris of cardboard roll holder and bits of tissue were littering the floor showing no cleaning had taken place in over four hours. The bins were overflowing with used brown paper towels and it was generally untidy. I felt this was substandard. We thought the food in general was good. Having read other reviews prior to our cruise we were sceptical as many said the food had really deteriorated. Windjammer always had a good selection although we didn't eat there in the evening. We ate in the Main dining room every evening and sat in the same section of Romeo and Juliet Dining Room. Our waiters were Jonathan and Dewa who were both fantastic and we always enjoyed chatting to them and looked forward to our evening meal. The menu was mostly good with a couple of evenings having less attractive choices but we ate some wonderful beef and we felt in general that the food was very acceptable and enjoyable. I have to say we are quite critical of food as both my husband and I are very capable in the kitchen, so I would go as far as to say that I think some previous reviews have been a bit harsh in their criticism of the food. Entertainment wise we enjoyed the shows. We loved the Queen tribute band "The Bohemians" and the ventriloquist was good although we have seen him before on board this ship but we still laughed a lot and he was very entertaining. The ice shows were brilliant even though they were same shows that we saw many years back. They are incredibly impressive - Freeze Frame is particularly good. The RC Singers and Dancers were putting on the same shows that we have seen too many times before so we did give these a miss this time. Our one grumble about the evening entertainment was the amount of children that were freely running around in the Pyramid lounge and taking over the dance floor. The band would start to play at 9.15pm and parents would not call their children off the dance floor. We wanted to dance but it became dangerous to do so and despite announcements being made and a mention of this in an edition of the Cruise Compass, nothing was done to enforce this. This issue needs to be addressed by Royal Caribbean before there is an injury. Also, adults want to be able to enjoy the live music and use the dance floor once the musicians start to play. The band "Pulse" played some excellent numbers and I think it is disrespectful to such talented musicians if parents allow their children to run riot whilst they are performing. We ended up going into The Labrynth nightclub where Paul made us feel very welcome and played some decent dance music so that we could do a bit of ballroom dancing though the dance floor in there is much smaller than in the Pyramid Lounge. We made the best of the situation anyway and still had a good time. (Thank you Paul !!) We didn't go ashore apart from in Vigo as we have visited all the ports on previous cruises and as previously mentioned we choose to cruise for what we enjoy on board the ship as much as for the destination. So all in all we had a good break although not our best cruise. We prefer Celebrity X as a cruise line but Royal Caribbean still have plenty on offer. Will we book again with RC? They need to sort out what is happening in The Pyramid Lounge with the kids running around and until there is some sort of curfew or rule made about children during the evenings ... No we won't be booking again. But perhaps Royal Caribbean are now trying to encourage a different type of cruiser in looking towards young families which isn't our scene and therefore we will choose a different cruise line in future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I enjoyed the ports of Call....new to us & would enjoy if my travels caused me to repeat them..I would not go out of my way to do a repeat of this specific cruise. the only poor excursion was the one booked thru RCI in Morrocco. I ... Read More
I enjoyed the ports of Call....new to us & would enjoy if my travels caused me to repeat them..I would not go out of my way to do a repeat of this specific cruise. the only poor excursion was the one booked thru RCI in Morrocco. I was told no one else had complained..so my take away was if one person says something..it didn't happen! It was suggested that my expectations were too high? I replied I expected to get what I paid for! I like Southampton, pleasant town to stroll..Friday night is not a beehive of activity & that might have surprised some. Entertainment was first class and varied..food was decent..all cruise lines have reduced their culaniary experience for the regular dining room..Anytime dining, whatever they call it..sucked..almost everyone made reservations for a specific time..so 3 nights we sat at a table of 6 or 8 alone..no one to share..this has not happened on any other cruise line..but we Americans were in the minority..it might be a cultural difference. Cabin was fine, our toilet "leaked" from the vent in the wall at 5AM..we mopped it with towels, told the room steward but we had no note from maintenance... Our guy was very non-pulsed with the news..apparently these things happen..another pax had it happen at 11PM ..maintanance came right away and blah blah .... Yes, they nickel dime you and it seemed everyday they had the same one day sale with nothing to buy..leftover & picked over.. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
A review of Independence through the eyes of our 3½ year old granddaughter Jessica. Very excited sleep countdown to our departure on 9th September 2016, travelling with my Nanna and Granfer. After quick hugs with mummy who we were ... Read More
A review of Independence through the eyes of our 3½ year old granddaughter Jessica. Very excited sleep countdown to our departure on 9th September 2016, travelling with my Nanna and Granfer. After quick hugs with mummy who we were leaving behind to “look after the cats”, we boarded and it only took 15 minutes before we were on and my fun started. All of the crew and staff made me feel very special. Lots of the guests talked to me too. OK so there were a few who seemed to think I shouldn’t go on holiday on a cruise ship, but my Granfer said we were best off ignoring them. Deck 11 ......the water facilities. It wasn’t warm enough for me to get stuck in until we arrived in the Canaries, but I still pestered on the cooler windy days through the BoB. The H2O area was a bit of a waste of time and space and wasn’t really used much. Much better is the main pool and hot tub area, which was surrounded by sun loungers with all sorts of people laying on them changing colour by the hour. Some of the sun loungers only had towels on them, but we only shared one for the 3 of us, so I think that was OK. By the towel stand, they let you borrow a buoyancy jacket, which comes in lots of children’s sizes, to keep us kids safe. The self serve ice cream stand was used lots on this deck .....I could just about reach up to pull the leaver myself, when I hadn’t had enough to eat everywhere else on the ship that is. Deck 3 .....My Time Dining, where we ate between 6 and 6.30 each night. I was treated like a princess every single night of the cruise, from the second I walked into the room. Our waiters had our table ready, with a booster seat in place for me, and folded up paper animals. I could choose from the kids menu or the adults one, and if I didn’t like it, they went off and found me something else. Deck 12.....Aquanauts (kids club for 3-5 year olds). Brilliant place to visit and spend some time with lots of new friends that I made. I could go there anytime between 9-12, 2-5, 6.45-10, or for all of it. I could even go from 10pm to 1am, but I was too busy dancing. On port days I could have stayed to lunch too, but I didn’t need to. They do lots of activities and I made some things that Nanna had to pack to bring home for mummy. Our stateroom....we had an inside one, which Nanna said we had to try and keep tidy cos there wasn’t a lot of room. When I woke up I didn’t know if it was night or day, so most of the time I just went back to sleep and had to be woken up. I missed lots of breakfasts, but Nanna had cereal ready for me anyway and said thank you to me for giving her a lay-in. I slept in a Pullman bed over the top of Granfer....he said I should have been at least 6 years old to be up there, but I thought it was cool climbing the ladder each night, and it had a bed guard so I couldn't fall out (and he said he didn’t want to sleep up there himself anyway). Entertainment: The Ice Shows were amazing. 2 shows each lasting about an hour. Make sure you get your mummies or daddies to collect your tickets from Guest Relations and get there half an hour before the show starts, so you can get a front row seat. Deck 5.... The Pyramid Lounge is a great place to let loose and have a run around, a dance and generally let off steam (as long as the sad folks that don't think you should be on the ship, are not there). I was a good girl though and made people laugh with my dancing, and Granfer got me special lemonade with a cherry in it every night, like Nanna's, though I only had one, she had more!! The Main Shows in the Theatre.....some were a bit late for me, but I tried hard to sit still. Lots of music and dancing, but very loud for my little ears. Getting dressed up.....I had lots of pretty dresses to wear each evening and lots of people wanted to take my photo, though Granfer said that would cost him lots of money. Mummy packed me far too many clothes for 10 days, so I had to make sure I got changed at least 3 times a day, some times more. Excursions: Madeira was the best. Nanna and Granfer took me up the cable car and then we came down the hill in the 'basket' taboggan. In Gran Canaria we visited the beach which is only about 10 minutes walk away. Nanna said it wasn't as calm and safe as she hoped it would be, but I still enjoyed myself eating the sand, having a shower on the beach, then eating chips watching the waves crash in. In Tenerife Nanna said we HAD to go shopping, so I'm glad they brought a buggy for me to relax in....it would have been very tiring if I hadn't and not very nice for Granfer to have had to carry me. If you want to ask my Nanna any more questions, then that’s OK. She might remember more than I did about all the fun things I did and places I visited. So, if Nanna and Granfer ask me if I want to go on a crusing holiday again, I think I would have to say yes, but I think I might need some new pretty dresses, cos the ones I came home with are now a little tight xxx Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
When we arrived at Southampton the Embarkment process was brilliant , very fast and efficient especially if you had printed off e ticket. We were on the ship within 10-15 minutes. Once on ship could get drinks and food straight away. ... Read More
When we arrived at Southampton the Embarkment process was brilliant , very fast and efficient especially if you had printed off e ticket. We were on the ship within 10-15 minutes. Once on ship could get drinks and food straight away. Balcony room was great and wow bands and sea pass cards on bed ready for use. We choose classic dining at 6 pm and started in the American Diner where we were greeting with the waitress and barman who would follow us round the ship, this was great as the were full of useful information about goings on on the ship.then Chic, The grande which is where you dressed up (formal) then Silk. All restaurants were great. Food wonderful and if you have any special requests they dealt with it. I'm vegetarian and they sorted me out. Ask for the daily shot they come in a Royal Car shot glass that you can buy for 3 dollars. Poolside was good but sun beds were cramped up and was awkward to get on and off due to small space. Also sun beds were saved in the morning and left most of the day with towels on as guests off ship on trips. I did approach the towel man as Royal Caribean have a policy that if beds left for 30 mins unattended the towels would be removed. This didn't happen and towel man said management didn't enforce this. Very unfair as on sea days people searching for beds to sit on. We Will Rock You was amazing. Make sure you pre book these tickets as its ticket only. The comedians were both very entertaining. The only problem was that not many bar staff walking round to order drinks, which was disappointing. The North Star was amazing we did it at sea at it went over the ship and views were brill. long queues between 3/4 - 1 hour wait but well worth it. I-fly great fun. The shops are very expensive. The ports that we went to- most had a shuttle service rangeing from 8 dollars to 10 dollars. Lanzarote or as we named it Lanzagrotty not much there and shops were shut when we got there. Madeira brilliant lovely place to visit we used the shuttle bus that drops you in the town and then did a taxi tour which was great as he took us all around and waited for us at each stop. a must is the baskets that speed down roads. Als t he cable cars. Gran Canaria was mostly shut and sleepy so not much to do. Lisbon was great good shops and bars. Bilbao was the best port. Beautiful place and do the open top bus as you get to see the sights. Staff on ship very helpful, didn't see many officers walking around. My husband wanted to send me flowers so went to guest relations to be told they don't do them Health and Safety. Perhaps they should buy artificial ones as its very romantic to have flowers. The staff who looked after us were the best Ruchal the waitress and Dorata the Maitre Dee and Ellisson the barman and Brian Hamilton who attended the state room. The ship is very impressive but it did have a lot of movement but the weather was against us. The ship is very busy due to lots of guest. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We had a very positive embarkation experience. Pretty seamless and well organised. On board in less than 20 minutes, as a result of online check-in. Highly recommend this method. Very pleased with our cabin....until stepping out on the ... Read More
We had a very positive embarkation experience. Pretty seamless and well organised. On board in less than 20 minutes, as a result of online check-in. Highly recommend this method. Very pleased with our cabin....until stepping out on the balcony on deck 6 to find we were overlooking the smoking area. Having taken a lot of time and trouble looking at the deck plans before booking, nowhere was this shown on the deck plan, and there is no way we would have chosen this particular cabin. However, we spoke to Jose in guest services immediately and he asked if we would be patient and wait till Monday morning when he could speak to the booking agents of no show passengers. True to his word at 10 am the following morning he secured us a comparable cabin on deck 9 with no extra cost incurred. So,thank you RC your service was exemplary, and we had no further problems. We like the dynamic dining experience, choosing to dine in a different restaurant each evening, sometimes booking, sometimes just turning up at a time to suit us, depending on what we chose to do each evening.The food was good and we found the choices very adequate. Service was sometimes a bit hit and miss but we were never kept waiting long. On the whole no real complaints. We enjoyed the shows, Spectras Cabaret was excellent and we managed to see it twice. We Will Rock You was okay, just not our taste. The Gift was very well performed and the scene changes were amazing. With the exception of comedian Steve Womack, who was appalling, all the evening headliner entertainment was most enjoyable. The IFlY experience was excellent and we also managed that twice. The solarium is a lovely place to relax and we enjoyed that facility on cruising days. There were a variety of activities on board so so something for everyone. We are social ballroom/Latin dancers and we had some really good classes taken by Sunny and David. Lovely people, instructive, lively and fun. There was also social dancing from 6-7.30 each evening, but the music was dictated by RC and was not entirely easy tempos to dance to. RC should really consult ballroom instructors in order to ensure a good selection of music. Several times the relevant people were approached but it was only on the last evening did we actually have a good selection of music which was downloaded from a laptop. I appreciate us dancers were in the minority but we're sure future dancing cruisers would benefit. We were disappointed with Tenerife, docking in Santa Cruz and having our beach transfer cancelled due to adverse weather conditions we decided to go walkabout on our own. Open top bus trip was pretty boring and took forever as this is a big city. It rained heavily in Madeira but it did not stop us enjoying the basket toboggan and the cable car. However not enough free time to enjoy Funchal itself. We loved Gran Canaria and did an organised trip to Puerto Mogan and return along the coastal road calling in at Maspalomas to see the sand dunes. Plenty of free time in Las Plamas upon our return. Very enjoyable, lovely beach, cafes, bars and restaurants etc...Lanzarote not to our taster either , very touristy beach resorts. However our stops in Vigo, Lisbon and Bilbao were super. Lovely to just find your own way around and explore all the amazing sights, stopping for wine or coffee breaks in the numerous cafes and bars. Overall we really enjoyed our cruise. The Anthem is a lovely ship and you can fill your days admirably with all the activities, eateries, shows etc..... It is after all your cruising experience and you just have to embrace it. People keep comparing the Anthem to the Independence. if you want that same experience then choose the same ship each time. Each one should be taken on its own merits and the Anthem has that in abundance. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Recently returned from canary cruise, this was our 8th cruise with royal caribbean but first on anthem of the seas. The embarkation was excellent, fast and stress free. This is quite a new ship and is very big but easy to navigate ... Read More
Recently returned from canary cruise, this was our 8th cruise with royal caribbean but first on anthem of the seas. The embarkation was excellent, fast and stress free. This is quite a new ship and is very big but easy to navigate your way around. The big plus about this ship (and every other royal caribbean ship we've been on) is the staff, all staff from bar staff, stateroom attendants, waiters & waitresses, entertainment staff, cleaners, customer sevices and the especially man who assists with internet & technology issues are very polite, helpful and will do everything they can to help. The quality of the food in the restaurants is very good,- we ate in the grande, devinly decadence, silk & chic.- (the windjammer was the best buffet food we've had on a royal caribbean ship) The cabin was spacious, clean and had all you would need, including a kettle. The public areas were very clean and well maintained The entertainment was excellent. All R.C. shows are well choreographed and entertainig, the comedians and comedian/juggler were brilliant, and guest singers were very good. Our favourite place was the music hall with the excellent live bands. The only negatives were- deckchairs - packed very tight together & all full, this was an issue especially as the best places were taken early the different drinks packages could confuse as prices weren't always available, but the staff would always help you if you asked. The excursions we done were- Madeira where we went on the cable car & toboggan, Gran Canaria - camel ride in maspalomas Lisbon by land and water all these excursions i would recommend as all tour guides are helpful, informative, professional and good fun Overall this is an excellent ship with brilliant staff and very good entertainment I would have rated this ship 5 stars if not for the deckchairs Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I’m a regular on RCL and normally travel on my own in a GS grade suite. I would very much agree with nearly all reviewers that embarkation could not get any smoother. The agents that run the service for RCL are first rate. I boarded ... Read More
I’m a regular on RCL and normally travel on my own in a GS grade suite. I would very much agree with nearly all reviewers that embarkation could not get any smoother. The agents that run the service for RCL are first rate. I boarded at about 2.00pm and was in my cabin within 15 minutes. The usual extras were there including a new brand of coffee supplied I think by Starbucks. Plenty of fruit and some complimentary bottles of water. It was just as I expected. There were a choice of restaurants on board. Giovanies, Izumi’s and Chops. I ate in Giovanies several times over the next two weeks and I couldn’t fault them. It’s when they greet you by name that you know that they pay attention to detail. With the restaurant manager insisting I try a new sweet as I was leaving one night. Chops was a total waste of money. Having paid $30 excess for dining there I was charged another $21 for a “Surf and Turf” which included lobster. This wouldn’t have been too bad except that the lobster consisted of two bites of white meat plus a reasonable steak. But then to want to charge you $8 for a coffee was just too much. I cancelled my remaining reservations. Then they charged me a cancellation fee (or tried to). Just not good enough. I guess as a profit centre they were not earning the bucks. The food and service in the MDR was quite acceptable. But I still wish they had silver service. One day the Americans will learn that there are other types of potato than mash. I also noticed that the number of men wearing dinner jackets was on the wane. The entertainment was better than average with several decent shows plus a tribute act. However the magician was hopeless and I missed the hypnotist. Plenty of room in the theatre and the reserved seating worked well. Worth additional mention was the ice show which was par excellence. In fact this was so popular that entry was staggered according to lifeboat stations. The parades in the main shopping area were well presented with an enthusiastic cruise director. Moving onto the shops there was as usual plenty for sale and RCL have cut down the tables lining the centre of the prom. Cigars were overpriced and I could have bought cheaper in the UK tax paid. I do wish that RCL wouldn’t take us all as fools announcing all products were tax and duty free. This might have been so but what they didn’t say was that they had increased their mark up accordingly. There seem to have been a considerable amount of complaints regarding seating. Although RCL have done away with one “nite spot” increasing cabins accordingly (more revenue) and a new specialty restaurant (yet more revenue). There was difficulty in finding spare seats for two or more people, and the extra two hundred plus people has certainly not eased seat availability. In fact overall guest space has been reduced and revenue raising areas increased. Prices in the bars was as excessive as ever with a Pinot Grigio priced at $9. A lager was $7. The ports chosen by the company were very acceptable other than Bilbao which is just a glorified port. I can thoroughly recommend The Azores which is administered by Portugal. A first rate island that deserves more visits. A two night stopover in Madeira was well worth the extra time. It gave cruisers the chance to explore the night life. Wifi was a bone of contention. As part of my package I was allowed one full (24 hours) of free Wifi. I’m glad that I didn’t buy the package priced at some $20 per day. The speed was so slow it hardly registered on my Nexus. My terminal came up with 0.27m per second. This so slow it took 5 minutes to download a lengthy email. Video was impossible. RCI really need to upgrade this service. Even the switchboard operator had the authority to credit dissatisfied guests. I could only get my copy of The Times on a couple of occasions. To put this into context I could catch up on the BBC iplayer whilst I was on the coach going home. No problems with a speed of 25mg per second. Being in a suite plus being a Diamond member of the Crown and Anchor program, I could use the Concierge Lounge from 5.00pm to 8.30pm (with free drinks). as a lounge to meet with fellow guests. I guess that there was seating for about 50 people. Unfortunately for me was that Crown an Anchor members with the status of Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle were also allowed in. The aforesaid members have their own Diamond Lounge on another deck. This is quite large and could accommodate 150 people. I understand that there were 13 Pinnacle members on board. With greatest of respect to Diamond and grades above, clients in Suites have paid many thousands of pounds for their onboard status and quite rightly expect to be able gain a seat when in the lounge. My suggestion is that RCL only allow into the Concierge Lounge guests with suite status. The present situation only devalues the value of the lounge. It was also noticeable that the lounge concierge did not check any of the gold passes for entry with their guests (or children under 18) If the door opened with your card - then you and your party were allowed access regardless of their status. As I had no children with me, I am not in a position to comment on their facilities. I would say though that there were less than a dozen children onboard. There were no zip wires, no bumper cars or air tunnels on this ship - although a wave rider had been added during the refit - not that I would have taken advantage anyway. Overall the ship fulfilled my expectations, but as always there is room for improvement. However, I’m back with P&O next year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Having been on IOS two years ago, we booked this cruise knowing that the Explorer was a "sister" ship, with all the same facilities and layout. This Cruise was also visiting many Ports that we had never been to before. We choose ... Read More
Having been on IOS two years ago, we booked this cruise knowing that the Explorer was a "sister" ship, with all the same facilities and layout. This Cruise was also visiting many Ports that we had never been to before. We choose a Stateroom with Balcony on Deck Seven (7272). At the outset I must say that we found neither outstanding nor awful aspects though some were better than others. Embarkation was fairly quick and with a short stop to upgrade our complementary "Drink Package", we were in our stateroom within half an hour of arrival from Eastleigh Airport. Similarly, Disembarkation was also really straightforward and well managed and luggage easily found with the numbering system. (Pity our pre-arranged taxi (O.T.S) didn't turn up, causing anxiety on getting to airport for flight home) The Stateroom was fairly compact but with adequate space for clothes. Queen size bed took up most of the room, along with a two seater couch. The bed mattress was rather firm and may not suit everyone. The Shower room/Toilet area was also fairly small, though the shower did have sliding doors rather than a curtain. The room was maintained to a good standard by our steward, who seemed to know when we were leaving, morning and night, as he was always outside the door. He kept us entertained by the towel animals, when changing the towels daily, though shower gel was not replaced. We took all our meals in the Windjammer Buffet, more for speed than anything else , as we had a busy schedule of events. There was always plenty of choices in various styles of cuisine. We never found any need to queue for a table and although there were busy times, again we never had any problems in finding what we wished to eat. Breakfast had all the normal aspects, with a dedicated grill for either fried eggs or omelettes to your requirements. Lunch and dinner were a mixture of many cuisines and all were well cooked and always hot. Trays were replenished immediately. The Main Dining Room had the normal timed serving along with "Mytime". You could also use, at extra costs, the "Speciallty" Restaurants of Chops Grill. Giovanni's Table, Izumi and Johnny Rockets Burger bar, along with Starbucks Special Coffees and Ben and Jerry's Ice Creams. The entertainment was split between the RCI Team and Professional acts. The day time activities ranged from quizzes, wall climbing, Flowrider to Seminars on various subjects including the Ports of Call and Art Auctions. For those who said that the RCI Team didn't put much effort into the activities obviously did not have Kevin, Amy or Katie with them. They made every activity, especially the "Quizzes" something special and hilarious with their "pronunciations" whilst taking it all in good spirit. The Pool side entertainment was a Caribbean group, "Belly Flop" competition, Water Volleyball and films on the "Big Screen". The various lounges had their own type of entertainment, with pianist in the Schooner Bar, Singer Guitarist in the "Crown and Kettle" Pub The Showtime acts in the Theatre were all well appreciated with full houses and ranged from Bohemians (Queen Tribute), Comedian Andy Watkins (could be funnier !), Julie Maguire and Jacqui Scott singing songs from Musicals (different nights), Juggler Pete Matthews (more juggling less running around as if breathless), Livewire a musical duo on guitar and fiddle (excellent show), Magician Martin Brock (more adept for close up rather than stage magic), Hypnotist David Knight (took 30 minutes of 45 minute show to get started), Westcoast a Beach boys tribute, BMX Acrobat Rob Alton and two Song/Dance shows by the RCI Entertainment Team. The PORTS of CALL included VIGO a nice town but rather hilly to reach town centre; ARRICEFE in Lanzerote with still a long walk to town centre from bus drop off point; SANTA CRUZ in Tenerife again a bus ride to town, though short free shuttle took you to outskirts of town; Overnight in FUNCHAL, Madeira which is well worth the visit for Architecture, Open Top Bus Tour and the Cable Car to the top of Monte and ride back down on the Funchal Toboggan; PONTE DELGADO, Azores which is really only a walk from port to town but not much to see or do; BILBAO a 12 Km bus to town from Getxo Port and is really a sightseeing tour for architecture and expensive shopping. All ports had organized tours but at a fairly expensive costs. Other main points of note through the Cruise included Captain Rick Sullivan's midday report in his "dry wit" giving ship's position and not knowing nautical terms, weather report, speed to next port, where he will be eating at night and selling of products around ship, There was the normal "Reserving" of sunbeds on "sea days" especially in the Solarium Pool area where the better sunbeds are found. One deck up there were still plenty to be found. The ship's "Smoking Policy" restricted people to the Starboard on certain decks,the Connoisseur Cigar Lounge and a part of Casino. However stale smoke has no way of telling boundaries and the smell drifted to many other parts of the ship, whilst creating a "fog" in that part of the Casino. The shops and stalls on the Royal Promenade were well stocked and had fairly competitive prices, whilst the Promenade Cafe served Coffee, sandwiches and sweet treats on a 24 hour basis, so good for early morning coffee or late night snack. All in all an enjoyable cruise where we met like minded people, visited new places, though might not return to some, enjoyed the entertainment, won some quizzes, though the Schooner Bar became very crowded during the quizzes, and never found any problems with meal times. Finally, one special mention for a staff member by name. ANCA BOUDAIN in the Schooner Bar is by far the outstanding member of RCI Staff. Within one visit to the bar she knew our name, our preference of drink at any particular time of day and always had a smile and time for a quick word asking how we were and what we had done. I'm sure she did this with many other people and deserves all the plaudits around. Always doing something but never looking harassed. A note to RCI Management, a PROMOTION to Bar Manager would not be out of the question but an enhancement to your Staff. By now this Review will only be appropriate for those taking a Far East or Australian Cruise as the Explorer Of The Seas is on its way to the Far East and Australia for the winter season. Thanks for reading this and hope it helps in deciding whether to cruise with RCI and the Explorer Of The Sea. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We are frequent Royal Caribbean customers and were looking forward to being on a brand new ship... We booked for car parking and arrived at the pier 1.15pm. The process should be superfast for this hi-tech brand new ship. If ... Read More
We are frequent Royal Caribbean customers and were looking forward to being on a brand new ship... We booked for car parking and arrived at the pier 1.15pm. The process should be superfast for this hi-tech brand new ship. If you've checked in online, you will be greeted with someone with an ipad and they'd check your photo and documents, and give you a sticker. You go to security and then straight onboard. Easy if it's quiet and with a steady stream of arrivals. However, it was busy and slow at our alloted time, there were nowhere near enough check in attendants. So a bit of a disappointing start to the #royalwow... TOP TIPS: Go see Hugh in the lower Pool Bar, he's a true star. And ask to sit with Courtney in The Grande. Ride the North Star around sailaway time and the queues should be short. Don't miss dinner at Jamie's Italian...breakfast/lunch in Cafe270 is so good and is much quieter than the Windjammer. Finally 'We Will Rock You' in the theatre is the star attraction of a cruise on Anthem, make sure you prebook. Cabin 11680 very spacious with sofa by the window, beautiful shower and plenty storage. You appreciate the ship is newly built with the sleek furnishings. Our cabin steward Beni was fantastic and very helpful with any requests. Sofa by the window in this cabin with 2 reclining chairs and footstools on the balcony. We had chosen Dynamic Dining with the freedom of choosing a restaurant at a time to suit us. The majority of passengers on this cruise seemed to dine around 630/7pm. Therefore many of the restaurants were quiet later on which meant less atmosphere. We had some great service and lovely food but at other times it was disappointing. The 1st night we went to The Grande and got a very good waiter, Courtney. The following night in Chic we were placed at a table near to the kitchen and all you could hear was dishes being sorted, despite lots of empty tables. The food was average. Onto American Icon, we found on both occasions the food was good in flavour but only luke warm through all dishes, others we spoke with thought the same. We chose not to try Silk as the menus were not to our taste... So it was back to The Grande and got a waiter Abdi who was apologising for his poor service to each table before he even took our orders, yes really (1st time I'd ever heard a waiter do that)...it was so slow we left after the main course. Thereon we requested to the Maitre D to sit with Courtney. She said no problem as we ate generally at the same time each evening. The next night we got that table and had a lovely meal. The following night at the same dining time we were placed with another waiter ... and so the story went on... The Grande has lovely food, which was hot and well presented and definitely a favourite. Highly recommend the halibut and the beef tenderloin. A couple of evenings we ate in The Windjammer which was always popular. Dont forget the the DogHouse in SeaPlex for top snack late afternoon or Sorrentos for made to order pizzas. Overall we found the dining concept erratic, it could be exceptional but equally disappointing. Personally we prefer My Time dining with a rotating menu in a two or three tier dining room that the other ships in the fleet still offer. Perhaps I'm more traditional in my cruise ship preferences than I thought :) And how much do we miss that Filet Steak option on the other ships at a supplement of $20, not available on Anthem unfortunately. The entertainment was varied. The 80s tribute act 'The Wild Boys' were absolutely fantastic and did three separate performances in Two70 and the Music Hall. 'Rock the Boat' are a firm favourite, mainly playing the Music Hall. This is a great venue and the band love it. They sound great too, however there is a lack of seating. Way fewer seats for example than the Pyramid Lounge on the Freedom Class, and Anthem is much bigger. The limited seats were taken early so after 9pm there was absolutely no option but to stand. The 'Beatles' tribute played this venue twice to a packed house, unfortunately we missed them due to a lack of seats. Two70 is a stunning venue but also does not have many seats for popular shows. The other alternatives are Boleros and the Schooner Bar which are also both small. It's a pity because the entertainment was actually really good. This is a design fault unfortunately with the Quantum class ships. There was the usual juggler, comedian and illusionist. Plus the other main shows, Spectres Cabaret and The Gift. It can be difficult to get served at the bars, there is a lack of waiters and lots of passengers on drinks packages so demand is high. Poolside, bar stewards do circulate the upper decks during the day but only stock alcoholic drinks on their carts. The ports of call were good, starting with Vigo in Galicia, Spain. An easy walk off port with shopping. A shore excursion in Lanzarote took us to Playa del Carmen, excellent value at £18 each. Almost 3 hrs on your own for the beach, bars and restaurants and shopping. Next up was the Southern Delights excursion in Gran Canaria. An excellent tour guide took us to Maspalomas to see the dunes, then a drive to Puerto Mogan marina. Again good value at around £20 each. Tenerife, we took the Puerto de la Cruz excursion. Another good value with a few hours alone in this popular resort. Lisbon, the ship docked at the old Tobacco pier which is close to the centre of town and shopping. The Celebrity Eclipse berthed at the more usual Alcantara pier. Stunning sail way under the bridge over the river not to be missed. Bilbao, shuttle buses offered for €10 from the pier, 20 min into the city. A delightful prosperous city. See the Guggenheim Museum and riverside. Cruise Director, Luke Aerowsmith, very enthusiastic and a good replacement for Joff Eaton who was on vacation. We did notice a lack of officers around the ship in the public areas, usually you know who the Hotel Director is or the Chief Officers, but unfortunately not on this cruise. Captain Claus was very entertaining with his daily updates. The deck area directly around the main outside pool is always busy and popular. But there were sun loungers to be had further along towards the aft. The Solarium is a stunning venue, popular on sea days. I had the 4 tier pool to myself after 6pm each day and the water was beautifully warm. There a multiple hot tubs available too. The fitness centre is very well appointed with fabulous sea views and some state of the art equipment. The Diamond Lounge is very busy in the evenings and overflows into the Music Hall. There were 4 waiters serving and they never had a minute, demand was so high. It is a nice venue but not big enough either. The concierge, Andrew was the poorest concierge we have ever had. He never circulated amongst the guests at all during the cruise. Overall a nice cruise, on a beautiful ship but let down personally by inconsistent dining and lack of seating in evening venues for 4000+ passengers. Everyone seemed to stay all evening in a chosen venue once they found a seat rather than circulate between venues and performances. But you've got bumper cars at sea, I FLY skydiving simulator and the North Star #justwow Download the Royal IQ app on your phone before you sail, it's fabulous. Lets you track dining, onboard account, entertainment and activities. Wifi is very fast and consistent. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Embarkation at approximately 1.00pm was quick and easy. From arrival in the City Cruise Terminal to entering our stateroom took approximately 15 minutes. Having checked in on-line prior to the holiday probably helped speed the ... Read More
Embarkation at approximately 1.00pm was quick and easy. From arrival in the City Cruise Terminal to entering our stateroom took approximately 15 minutes. Having checked in on-line prior to the holiday probably helped speed the process. Disembarkation was just as easy and quick. We had opted to carry our own luggage off the ship and had an early departure at 6.15 am as soon as the gangways were in place and were out of the terminal by 6.20! Travellers should note that the RCI gangways meet the cruise terminal at first floor level and to get to the ground floor you have 2 very slow lifts and an escalator – an obvious congestion area during busy departure times for those struggling with 2/3 heavy cases! Our first impressions of the Explorer were good . Some recent reviews were critical describing the ship as tired despite the 2015 refurbishment. That was not our impression. We thought everything was immaculate and spotlessly clean. The new interactive information panels on each deck were great and provided instant information on what was on and where and how to get there. The Saphire Dining Room which is three decks high is impressive with excellent furniture, fine cutlery and china. All the public areas, bars and the Windjammer buffet room were well appointed and well laid out. The toilets were always immaculately clean. The Palace Theatre is excellent with good sight lines, Studio B - the ice rink - was another impressive venue. We had a promenade stateroom [6605] on Deck 6 with a bow window that overlooked the Grand Promenade on Deck 5. We thought it might suffer from noise from the Promenade but the room was well insulated and there was no disturbance. The window seat was a good vantage point even though we were away from the centre of the Promenade The cabin was well equipped with a flat screen tv, tea and coffee making facilities, excellent king size bed, plenty of storage space, dressing table and a double seat sofa. The shower was excellent, piping hot water at all times, with a glass door - not curtains, and fine 100% Egyptian cotton bath towels. Towards the end of the cruise our shower developed a fault but was back in full working order in less than an hour after a telephone call to ‘Maintenance’. Full marks to RCI. The ship was full and had about 1,000 children on board but much to our surprise we had no problems finding seats in bars and other public areas. The loungers around the pools on deck were invariably full or reserved by selfish travellers who seldom occupied them. Unfortunately this was not policed by the staff. However we always found loungers or seats in lovely sunny locations a short walk away towards the stern or near the Flowrider. Dining in the Saphire main dining room was a pleasure. The venue is impressive and on three levels. Deck 5 was reserved for Mytime dining which meant you could dine at any time between 5.30pm and 9.00pm whilst decks 4 and 3 were for those on fixed dinner times. This was our first experience of Mytime dining and to ensure an early dining time we had booked on-line for 6.00pm. We presented ourselves on the first evening at that time and were taken immediately to a table for two. This table was reserved for us for the rest of the cruise so we were served by the same waiter and assistant just as if we were on a fixed dining time. The food and the choice in the Saphire was excellent and though we had planned to dine in one of the speciality restaurants we were happy to stay in the Saphire for the whole cruise. We also breakfasted and lunched a la carte [ Brasserie 30] in the Saphire and cannot fault the service, choice or the quality of the food. We thought it better than on P&O. The wine as usual was overpriced but when you’re on holiday………!! Our only other gripe was the quality of the coffee served on board. Even after paying extra for what was described as cappuccino it proved no better. In fact the biggest downside of the cruise for us was the absence of a proper coffee shop. Apart from the Windjammer the only venue was the Promenade Cafe which served Starbucks coffee in cardboard cups! This was the first cruise ship we have been on which did not have a nice coffee shop. Our only visits to the Windjammer were for afternoon tea or a quick snack after arriving back on ship after being ashore. We thought the buffet well planned and laid out and were happy with what was on offer. We were pleasantly surprised by the standard of dress in the Saphire with something like 90% of diners on the three formal evenings abiding by the dress code. Ladies were particularly well dressed but sadly a small minority of men opted for short sleeved shirts and one or two dined in flip flops and shorts! Unfortunately it appears that RCI have adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to their declared dress code and one is left to wonder how long it will be before formal evenings disappear from some cruise lines. On the other hand we did witness one brave member of staff refuse entry to a bare chested man to the Windjammer buffet but that was the only enforcement of the dress code that we saw. We were disappointed with the entertainment on offer in the theatre. There were only three full production shows featuring the orchestra, dancers and singers during the 10 night cruise. These fell well below the standard we have enjoyed on our three last cruises with P&O. The other evenings were taken up by solo performers – a singer and a comedian again of not a particularly high standard. However a ventriloquist did have a very funny act and the family of violinists were impressive. The most enjoyable entertainment for us was the ice show which was excellent. An added bonus for Crown and Anchor members was an invitation to the Captain’s reception and another ‘private’ ice show in ice rink. A minor irritant was the high noise levels in the theatre and the Grand Promenade discos. Our itinerary included Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Vigo. Unfortunately it was not the best planned itinerary principally because of the short stays in some of the stops. Having taken two and a half days to reach Madeira which is a beautiful island the time ashore was limited to some 5 hours just enough time for a coffee and a glass of wine. Time was also at a premium in Tenerife. We opted to take the ship’s bus ride to Puerto de la Cruz a lovely 40 minute ride away but which left just two hours in the resort before heading back to the ship. Gran Canaria on the other hand was the only full day [10 hours] in port. We opted to do our own thing and took the hop on hop off bus tour of what turned out to be a disappointing city. The visits to Lanzarote and Vigo were also limited to a morning and an afternoon respectively. Both were attractive locations particularly Vigo with its bustling fish restaurants. Any prospective travellers opting for a similar itinerary should consider opting for out of port excursions particularly in Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote but beware cruise line excursions [and shuttles] can seriously damage your finances. Overall, it was a lovely and leisurely cruise which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed. The ship is in fine shape, our stateroom was delightful and well placed close to the Grand Promenade and the Saphire dining room. The food and service in the Saphire was excellent and we only have praise for the friendly and efficient staff of the Explorer of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The ship was absolutely amazing. For my first time going on a cruise I was amazed by the explorer of the seas. The staff were so helpful and provided a fabulous service along with many smiles and even interacted with the children very ... Read More
The ship was absolutely amazing. For my first time going on a cruise I was amazed by the explorer of the seas. The staff were so helpful and provided a fabulous service along with many smiles and even interacted with the children very well. From the cleaners to the waiters and waitresses, they were all great (special mention to our waiter in the sapphire lounge) There is plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants so it will never be too crowded and lots of things to do when cruising. I personally didn't like the pools as they were salt water (that's just me) and they were very deep which is why the hot tubs would always have the children in and splashing everyone. Though when shows would finish it would be very very busy and hard to get a seat but everyone soon filters out. Though expensive, the shore excursions were wonderful, we went on one in lanzarote and seen many things and learnt many facts. Cabins were as good as any hotel room, but it was lovely having a balcony if you wanted to just sit somewhere. The most exciting thing on our cruise was seeing dolphins almost everyday! Of probably about 100 or more dolphins was absolutely fantastic and watching them jump out together was even better. The captain would interact with the people from the bridge and was very funny. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I don't normally write reviews but as this was our first cruise we read all the reviews on this site and asked lots of questions so hope it may help others like us. We travelled with our two Young boys, 3 (turned 4 during cruise) ... Read More
I don't normally write reviews but as this was our first cruise we read all the reviews on this site and asked lots of questions so hope it may help others like us. We travelled with our two Young boys, 3 (turned 4 during cruise) and 2 year old on the 12 night canaries and North Africa cruise. We booked one of the new panoramic rooms of deck 12. For us the room was fantastic. Spotless, amazing views and great location. Quiet and easy quick access to pool. Our room attendant Andrei was great also. Checking in: Quick and easy, once on the ship we did have difficulty finding room, but once found all was good. Food: We only ate in the main dinning room once. We made the mistake of booking the early sitting. For us with two Young kids the later one would have worked best. On the one occasion we did eat there the food was very good. Windjammer was very good, no complaints, food was varied, always hot and staff were always efficient. Chops grill was simply amazing. Food was incredible and staff were fantastic. Johnny rockets was great fun and good food. Drinks We had all inclusive package. Select and premium. The choice of drinks was endless, so much to choose from. Entertainment was very good although there was little to do after 10 pm other than hit the bars which was hard with kids. Could have done with something or somewhere quieter to sit for families. Great if your kid free though, lots of bars, music playing, disco and casino. Pool was very clean and tidy. They changed the water regularly in the pools. We knew the policy on potty trained kids which did cause us a bit of an issue but we found this out a few months before we left so endured our youngest was trained before we left. All they did was paddle their feet anyhow. Passengers on board were varied in age but everyone was great and freindly, we met some great people. Yes there were a lot of older people but we found these to be the nicest who always had tone for you. Staff were great, everyone had time for us, always friendly and were great with our two boys, especially washy washy. For us we had a great family holiday. We loved the ship, found it clean, with lots to do and will certainly return to cruise to RCI. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I would always say that people generally will only review if they haven't had a good experience and I therefore am going to defy the negative critics and give a positive review of our experiences on the Explorer of the Seas in June ... Read More
I would always say that people generally will only review if they haven't had a good experience and I therefore am going to defy the negative critics and give a positive review of our experiences on the Explorer of the Seas in June 2015. I would say that we chose RC to be on a family friendly Ship, which was the case with our family holiday, we travelled with our 5 & 10 year old children and they also had a great time, kids club was fantastic and the loved their time in the club and there is a reasonable amount of activities to keep the kids entertained with Ice skating, Rock climbing etc etc. There were a fair few slightly older guests on board the ship more than I had thought there would be, perhaps Cunard cruising might have been more their cup of tea and they did tend to be the worst culprits for hogging sun beds in two locations and for some reason they always wanted to be right next to the pools that they never used but to be fair most families with young children got their heads around getting up and reserving sun beds nice and early! That said there was only a problem on cruise days reply as lots of people go out for the days while in port! We upgraded our Al Inclusive Package to Premium Package which was excellent and we also treated ourselves to Fine Dining in the Italian and Chops Grill, they were excellent but so to was the Sapphire Dining Experience was also superb with My time Dining, no queues for a table and the best waiting service I have experienced for a while, we were treated like royalty by our waiting Team, who gave us the ability to feed the kids early and then enjoy a more leisurely meal while they played in Kids Club, but we did mix it up a fair bit with kids eating with us on the three formal nights plus others! The Wine on offer on our package was superb, but equally the wine offered on the package below was equally nice too! Food was fantastic and reasonably varied with some nice Indian dishes as an alternative to eating steaks, seafood etc. Getting on at Southampton was superb on the boat within 35mins and boom you are on holiday, Our destinations were superb can't really grumble about anything really. The staff are really friendly and attentive, we never really had a problem finding a seat in a bar but beware if you time it badly the Show lovers come out at 10pm so if you arrive at a bar at 10.05pm, there might be a slight wait and you might have to stand for 10mins! Room cleanliness was superb, Room Steward was very friendly and helpful we had a Oceanview Stateroom so as a family of four it was a bit tight but for all of you worrying it's going to be cramped don't panic as it's bearable as you spend so little time.in the room, you are only sleeping in the room at night, but if you can afford two cabins with an adjoining door then go for it as we did that previously but we gambled this time and if paid off :) If you are a couple with kids, try to use the kids club to give yourselves time together as its a really nice plus point to be able to enjoy one another's company and there are lots of bars to try out together or walks around the deck whatever takes your fancy :) I hope my honest review might set some people concerns at rest, we had an amazing holiday and met many other people who were also enjoying theirselves both young alike! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise on the Explorer to the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Spain. The reason we selected this cruise was that our vacation time is limited and the Canaries are rarely visited during the summer months, I ... Read More
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise on the Explorer to the Canary Islands, Morocco, and Spain. The reason we selected this cruise was that our vacation time is limited and the Canaries are rarely visited during the summer months, I don't know if RCCL is slipping a bit, or it was the ship, or because of the mostly UK guests, but from our perspective the food especially was pretty bland and uninteresting. NO AMERICAN BACON for breakfast - heartbreaking for a woman who only eats bacon on a cruise. Now that's not to say that we (my husband and I) didn't enjoy the cruise or couldn't find enough to eat, it was just not quite what we expected. We've done over 40 cruises and are diamond plus with RCCL. We've also done cruises from the UK that were also predominantly from the British Isles before. The best things about the trip were the people we met, the ports (except for Agadir, which deserves a minus 100 rating, avoid at all costs) entertainment and the wonderful service. We played some pretty serious trivia with my brother and new friends from Australia and England. If you read this John, Angie and Dave, drop me a line. Lanzarote was outstanding and every other port interesting. Embarkation and debarkation easy and smooth. In general a very nice cruise except for the food. I guess that I should be more specific about the food. Very heavy on starches, limited selection of fresh fruit, very limited selection of fish for dinner, ordinary and bland deserts, they ran out of cookies at the Windjammer every day, limited options for pizza, NO AMERICAN BACON, pastries were heavy and not much variety of fillings, and the self serve ice cream machine was very thin and watery. One bright spot was the Indian food and the evening selections at the Windjammer - much more interesting. I hope that the readers find this review helpful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was my 8th cruise and my 5th with RCL. The ship is amazing but it is by far the worst one I have been on for stability. Admittedly going through the Bay of Biscay it had 12 foot waves but even when it was only a slight swell it ... Read More
This was my 8th cruise and my 5th with RCL. The ship is amazing but it is by far the worst one I have been on for stability. Admittedly going through the Bay of Biscay it had 12 foot waves but even when it was only a slight swell it rocked ! It didn't help when friends went for sea sickness pills that the shop had run out ! Anyway, onto the positives: - The cabin was larger than usual and well laid out. The virtual balcony also worked well. - The 270 lounge is amazing and the screens/backdrops have to be seen to be believed - The ifly machine was so good we went on it twice - The north star, although good was a one-trip wonder and constantly had a 30 min wait - The food quality was constantly high although the waiters still needed a map to find the tables - All the headliner shows were excellent - The 'We will rock you' show was excellent, Spector had great special effects The not so positives: - The central promenade of independence has gone the central shopping area doesn't flow as well - the shops are very expensive - Hublot, Cartier, Tag etc etc so unless you've got several thousand pound to spend don't look - The Gift show was obviously an extravagant production but most people we spoke to came out and said 'what was that all about' - this ship is obviously aiming for the 30-60 age bracket so if your over 60 its maybe not for you (unless you like surfing, sky diving, rock climbing etc etc) Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Embarkation was the speediest I've ever experienced, so full marks for thatThe cabin was pleasant, but although I cannot back up my impression with measurements, it felt smaller than any previous ones. The dynamic dining was ... Read More
Embarkation was the speediest I've ever experienced, so full marks for thatThe cabin was pleasant, but although I cannot back up my impression with measurements, it felt smaller than any previous ones. The dynamic dining was success , we felt, as the food quality was excellent, and service very good.You have to be aware , though that , in spite of the long list of restaurants there are just 4 which provide a full formal meal...The Grande, American Icon Grill, Silk and Chic.The rest are paid or snack venues.Also, on 2 of our 11 nights we were given the same menu in all of these restaurants, called "A Taste of Anthem"with samples from each of the venues, to " give us an experience of them all"We thought this should have been renamed " A taste of 20 dishes we prepared instead of 80, because we thought you would not notice".We ate at 3 paid restaurants, Wonderland, great fun, fab venue, and deliicious food, Jamie's (twice),absolutely great and fab service, but be aware the single cover chatge has now changed to a la carte, which makes it expensive, and finally, our once favourite Chops Grille, which was a disappointment because of a reduced menu,dismal interior, and probably the worst position on the ship, with a miserable view of lifeboats.We wondered if this great venue was being phased out? The entetainment was profesional, but musically undiverse.We expected a spread from pop, rock , through to some classical, as the ship's name suggests, but found the constant loud performances, and piped musak grating for our taste.It was also difficult to plan our entertainment choices around our meal bookings.As the dining is more fluid than usual, it would be more sensible to present the full entertainment times at the start of the cruise rather than daily, so that meal bookings don't have to be constantly changed.The computer generated show in 2.70is amazing, but is not easy to view for the whole audience due to the informal seating. This report might sound negative, but we did have a great time, even though our cabin had a few bangs and creaks....lovely ship with some interesting art..but improvements can only be made if problems are aired. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
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