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34 Royal Caribbean Pacific Coastal Cruise Reviews

This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean. We chose Explorer of the Seas because of the pacific coast itenerary. It was just my husband and myself. Our previous cruise had been on the Oasis of the Seas so the Explorer was much ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean. We chose Explorer of the Seas because of the pacific coast itenerary. It was just my husband and myself. Our previous cruise had been on the Oasis of the Seas so the Explorer was much smaller compared to the Oasis. We had priority boarding so check in was a breeze. We had an inside room. It was small but adequate. I was apprehensive about an interior room but it worked out well for two people and since this was a colder weather cruise I don’t think we would have made much use of a balcony. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and every day and the food was very good and had a great selection. We ate in the main dining room for supper and enjoyed the food there too. We had the late seating. I think we would pick the choose the My Time dining next time. The Royal Promanade seemed much more crowded than on the Oasis. Even though Oasis has a much larger number of people on board there is more space to spread out. The pools and hot tubs looked nice but it was so chilly few people were using them. We used the fitness center twice and found it to be in good condition and had a great view. We really enjoyed trivia in Schooner Bar and the drinks there. First port was Astoria, OR. It is a quaint seaside town. We enjoyed the Maritime museum. I went out shopping and there are a lot of shops selling wares made by local aritisans. There Are also 3 or 4 craft breweries if that is your thing. We then spent two days in San Francisco which we enjoyed this stop the most. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge was amazing! We booked one excursion through the ship for Muir Woods which is an amazing place. The only downside of this excursion is it stops in Sausalito for a little over an hour on the way back. We would have rather gone back to San Francisco not much in Sausalito to see other than shopping. We booked our own tour to Alcatraz which was very interesting. Our next port was Victoria, B C. This is a very pretty and clean city. We just walked around there and did not take any tours. I was glad we did not take the kids on this cruise because it is definitely more adult oriented and they would not have enjoyed the pool or flow rider do to the colder temps. I would recommend this cruise to adults who would like to see this part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The wife and I booked this cruise about a year out, long before our son moved up to Tacoma with his girlfriend for a great career last March. Once we told them about our cruise plans her parents and the kids joined us. Embarkation was ... Read More
The wife and I booked this cruise about a year out, long before our son moved up to Tacoma with his girlfriend for a great career last March. Once we told them about our cruise plans her parents and the kids joined us. Embarkation was very easy arriving around 10:30am we were on board by eleven. We toured the ship a bit then down to check on our "first night done right" booking. We had been told that a restaurant would be assigned to our group but it was not.....we booked Chops at 7:15pm. Finding some lunch in windjammer we went on exploring the Explorer. She is in pretty good shape considering her age....all pools and hot tubs worked and were heated well. Our cabins (we all got interiors) were also in good shape, however the beds are quite firm as everyone says.....they were replacing the bed foundations all week. I will say RCI could improve their bedding game here, while the linens are great the beds suck as compared to the new Princess dream beds. We loved the brewed coffee always available down in the cafe all day long and free, Princess makes you pay for it and wait in line. Dinner at Chops was very good, though having eaten there four years ago on the Oasis I can see where quality and/or quantity has gone down. Meals in the dining room were good, not great.....service was good and we tried to get the same table each night but that did not work out. The last night we were put at another area and table which was not very good, issues like being charged full bottle price for glasses of wine. The entertainment was good not great......but we managed to find things to do each night. The casino was not very generous and nobody we spoke with had won on machines. I for one enjoyed the smoking lounge that I hear they are removing soon. Overall it was a great cruise however we'll be using Princess going forward as we're close to elite status there. Debarkation was a breeze we were off the ship by 7:30am carry off. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We picked this cruise because it left from Seattle, we liked the itinerary and the price was good. We had not been on a Royal Caribbean cruise for many years because we are Princess elite people. But this was very pleasant. My husband ... Read More
We picked this cruise because it left from Seattle, we liked the itinerary and the price was good. We had not been on a Royal Caribbean cruise for many years because we are Princess elite people. But this was very pleasant. My husband has eating problems but the dining room staff were very helpful. We enjoyed the Windjammer Buffet. The selections were excellent. The Ice Skating Revue was outstanding. The first entertainment show was just okay for us. The music was for the younger crowd. The next show was great, beautiful costumes and wonderful singing and dancing. We arranged this tour through a travel agency. We were very unhappy because Military On Board Credit didn't count. It only counts if you make your reservations through the Royal Caribbean Company. This is different than Carnival Cruise Lines. Our embarkation and debarkation was very smooth. We have had troubles in Seattle at Pier 91 before but because there was only one ship there it might have made a difference. We would probably go again - same price, same ship and same trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
The NW itinerary is very relaxing and has lots to see and do. The weather can be unpredictable. This is the second year we’ve done this cruise. The crew on EoS were outstanding. They did everything thing they could to make the event ... Read More
The NW itinerary is very relaxing and has lots to see and do. The weather can be unpredictable. This is the second year we’ve done this cruise. The crew on EoS were outstanding. They did everything thing they could to make the event special and enjoyable. The ship has some great venues for a wide variety of activities. We tried the promenade view room. It was fun but would probably not do it again. We like to see the ocean. The cabin staff was terrific. We had a group of 11 and arranged a regular dining time. It worked out great. The staff was very accommodating. It took some time to eat because of the size of our group. The shows we saw were very good and we really enjoyed the ice show. Getting on and off the ship in Seattle is a breeze. Much easier than any other ports we’ve used. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
we had been dreaming of a cruise for a very long time, we are both disabled and on a fixed income and almost seniors, the ad came in an email, what seemed like a good deal, we were booking an inside cabin when a balcony became available ... Read More
we had been dreaming of a cruise for a very long time, we are both disabled and on a fixed income and almost seniors, the ad came in an email, what seemed like a good deal, we were booking an inside cabin when a balcony became available for the same price so we jumped on it, the first cruise experience was great and we met some amazing people, and the crew and staff were amazing and very graciouse and polite. we enjoyed a number of shows onboard and although we don't drink , we did enjoy some of the bars and lounges, the food for the most part was very good except the food was very salty most the time, if your on a salt free diet you might be in trouble! my wife spent some time in the casino and won some money, this is where the trip went bad, my wife on the last night onboard came up missing some money from her purse which she left in the room when ever we left the room. we decided to report it to security, they came to our cabin and searched the room and our luggage at least three times, causing us to miss the last night of festivities and shows, and treatment from the security personal made us feel like we were criminals, we didn't accuse anybody of anything just that we were missing money. I felt humiliated, and confused. and they made us feel as we had done something wrong, would like to go again maybe on this ship, just won't report any problems. probably should checkout other cruiselines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary and secondly for the Friday to Friday sailing. We have never been to any of the ports of call and they didn't disappoint! We rented a car in Oregon and drove down the coast a bit and ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for the itinerary and secondly for the Friday to Friday sailing. We have never been to any of the ports of call and they didn't disappoint! We rented a car in Oregon and drove down the coast a bit and back. San Francisco we did the Ship tour- HoHo bus with the harbor cruise. Then in Victoria we did the ship tour to Buchart Gardens with the picnic. This was my favorite!!!! The food was delicious and plentiful and the Gardens were stunning. I only wish it wasn't so crowded but I can see why it was! The service on the cruise was outstanding from the Dining room to the cabin steward. The Explorer of the Seas was in very good shape with no visible wear and tear. The only thing we didn't like was when we booked our anytime dining we had no idea of when the entertainment was scheduled for the night. We usually missed it. I like how the Oasis Class ships let you prebook both the entertainment and your dining times. No chance of missing anything! We had a wonderful, relaxing cruise and can't wait to sail again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I always cruise with Royal Caribbean, and have many times. Among the obvious reasons, such as itinerary, food, and service, my main reason is the entertainment. I believe this is the only line that has a Pub on every ship. I have had ... Read More
I always cruise with Royal Caribbean, and have many times. Among the obvious reasons, such as itinerary, food, and service, my main reason is the entertainment. I believe this is the only line that has a Pub on every ship. I have had the great fortune to be on several cruises where Robbie McNay has been the Pub Entertainer. Robbie is amazing in that he has been performing for what seems like forever. Robbie knows every song you can think of. His guitar playing is phenomenal! Every night he played every requested song and he played them so well. We even had people trying to stump him, and they couldn't. Robbie's nightly concerts are reason enough to sail with Royal Caribbean. I have been on both Princess and Norweigan lines...Princess has piano players who ONLY do show songs and the Norwegian ship I was on had NO live music!! I have to say though, while on the Explorer, this pub was a bit of a disappointment. Robbie was stuck in the back, almost in the fire place, and it was difficult to hear him on the other side of the bar, where there are more seats. It would be nice if he was in the open, like the Schooner Bar. By the way, Dave in the Schooner Bar never finisbed ONE song! I did not like his version of entertainment. I went to an ice show and it was fabulous. The ship was rockin and they skated and landed so well. I was quite impressed. Thank you Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, but we were happy with so much more! Having come off of a very bad cruise experience with Celebrity, we were a bit hesitant to try Royal Caribbean (as we understand Celebrity is owned by ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, but we were happy with so much more! Having come off of a very bad cruise experience with Celebrity, we were a bit hesitant to try Royal Caribbean (as we understand Celebrity is owned by them). That said - our experience with each cruise line was very different. On this cruise, there was a wide variety of entertainment, the food was very good, the service was excellent & their on board activities were fantastic: from mini-golf to rock climbing, ice skating, the flow rider and more - never a dull moment! There was lots to do, the ports were great & best of all - we weren't bombarded by high-pressure sales pitches at every turn (like on Celebrity). It felt like a real vacation! On the down side, the ship is starting to look it's age & one of their specialty restaurants, Izumi, smelled extremely 'fishy'. I love seafood, but this was not a good smell & it turned us off from trying it out. The odor even carried into the neighbouring lounge at times. Aside from that, we really enjoyed this trip & look forward to checking them out again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Our first time cruising RC. Explorer is an older ship and the retrofits they have done to increase accessibility can be hit or miss--we found a lot of door buttons that didn't work and really jarring door lips and transfers for folks ... Read More
Our first time cruising RC. Explorer is an older ship and the retrofits they have done to increase accessibility can be hit or miss--we found a lot of door buttons that didn't work and really jarring door lips and transfers for folks with wheelchairs. The buffet was not low enough for my husband, in a wheelchair, to see what food options were. The food was just average, but the excellent service of the staff made up for it some. It was a low key trip for us--just wandering around at ports--so we didn't do excursions. We also didn't do many of the shows and entertainment as they didn't appeal to us. The cabin was good but /noisy/ with creaking, clicking, clanking noises from the ship. The bed was too firm, but some people with mobility issues might appreciate that for getting in and out of bed. Enjoyed the cruise, but wish the ship had been a little newer and accessible features better maintained. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
The ship was very nice and the food was good. The service was above average. Entertainment was good and the ice show fantastic☺. There were a lot of activities to keep you busy while onboard. It seems the specialty dining takes away from ... Read More
The ship was very nice and the food was good. The service was above average. Entertainment was good and the ice show fantastic☺. There were a lot of activities to keep you busy while onboard. It seems the specialty dining takes away from the main dining experience because most of the tables were only half full. Since we were cruising the Pacific North coast in September there was rain and cold winds the first sea day so we could not relax on the deck. Heavy fog going into San Francisco kept us awake through the night with the fog horn blowing (our room was Deck 12 Forward) and rough seas heading north to Victoria had us feeling the motion of the ocean. Overall we had a great time, made some new friends and enjoyed the food selections and the activities during the 7 day cruise, We would sail on Explorer of the Seas again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We did this same cruise last year and enjoyed the itinerary. This year, we also enjoyed the itinerary. Some issues arose with the hard beds. The bed was so hard that we bought a 2" foam topper and the room steward was kind enough ... Read More
We did this same cruise last year and enjoyed the itinerary. This year, we also enjoyed the itinerary. Some issues arose with the hard beds. The bed was so hard that we bought a 2" foam topper and the room steward was kind enough to put it on the bed for us. The food was good and there was plenty of it available. Lobster night was exceptionally great. So good that we each ate 2. Windjammer seemed to have fresh fruits and vegetables and a very nice variety. There was only one production show. It was their first performance as a group. Some nice dance moves, but it got very repetitive and there was no story - only the same dance over and over. The comedian Criss Bliss was very good. All in all a good cruise. The captain was quite visible and did a great job of greeting his guests. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We took a 4 night cruise out of Seattle last week. It was great weather and a grand time. The Explorer of the Seas is a beautiful ship and is in great shape! Navigating around the ship was easy and fun. Plenty to do and see. Main dining ... Read More
We took a 4 night cruise out of Seattle last week. It was great weather and a grand time. The Explorer of the Seas is a beautiful ship and is in great shape! Navigating around the ship was easy and fun. Plenty to do and see. Main dining room food was good. The best? No, but very tasty and the service was top notch. The buffet was good food. What can you say, it's a buffet. The pubs / Taverns were very nice with some interesting entertainment in them. Plenty of pools and hot tubs, flow rider, miniature golf, rock climbing wall...very cool. Soft serve ice cream on deck 11 was point on. Casino did not treat me well, but what casino has. The entertainment director did a great job and was very likeable. The connoisseur club was awesome for cigar smoking and located well. I would take another trip on the Explorer without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
The cruise was cheap and local port to us. Food was very good despite the bad reviews I read, we have been on about 40 cruises. RC treats us well but that smelly room and hallway real bad was the worst. The carpet should have been ... Read More
The cruise was cheap and local port to us. Food was very good despite the bad reviews I read, we have been on about 40 cruises. RC treats us well but that smelly room and hallway real bad was the worst. The carpet should have been replaced as it was beyond repair but I think they try to save it because of the re-furbished coming up but like I said the carpet stunk so bad they should have thrown overboard and just replaced it with something that maybe didn't match but it would been more pleasing to the customers I did not complain about it to the person because I know it would not have done any good that ship was full there were no rooms available. Royal Caribbean treats us really well as we have cruised with them a lot of times can I complain about their service the food was great though in the dining room Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Overall a very nice cruise. This was only my second cruise so I don't have a lot to compare it to. I found the staterooms to be clean and comfortable and the house keeping staff were always there to do anything to make our stay more ... Read More
Overall a very nice cruise. This was only my second cruise so I don't have a lot to compare it to. I found the staterooms to be clean and comfortable and the house keeping staff were always there to do anything to make our stay more comfortable. The food was good although after talking to other passengers, they commented that the food was not as good as it used to be on their previous cruises through out the years. The crew and staff were outstanding, friendly, helpful and always ready to lend a hand. The ship had plenty of activities to keep anyone busy night and day. I especially enjoyed the ice skating rink. The shows were very entertaining and never too crowded There was a lot of audience participation during some of the shows. The most entertaining shows were 70's dance and the British invasion that were put on by the ship dancers and singers. I would sail with Royal Caribbean again and recommend this cruise line to any one . Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise as we love Pacific Coastals and Seattle wasn't too far to fly. We have cruised over 50 times across several different lines but this was our second cruise on Royal Caribbean, the first being close to 10 years ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we love Pacific Coastals and Seattle wasn't too far to fly. We have cruised over 50 times across several different lines but this was our second cruise on Royal Caribbean, the first being close to 10 years ago. But, because of our status on Celebrity, we were given reciprocal benefits as Diamond members on RCCL. The embarkation went very smoothly after we arrived at the port around noon. Upon entering the ship, we noticed it was probably the prettiest ship on which we've sailed. Everything was maintained well and the ship was absolutely immaculate. Our room was ready when we boarded. We were able unpack our carry on luggage that we brought onboard (we had no luggage to check) and were off to explore the other areas of the ship before meeting up with our roll call at 3 PM by the pool. We had a great roll call membership, many of which were Diamond or above so they gave us the scoop on where to meet and the benefits we could expect onboard. We were called for muster, which had us lining up on deck 4 without having to bring our life jackets. It was efficient and completely rather quickly and we were off to grab a quick bite to eat before going to the Diamond Lounge at 4:30. We should have gone up early to save a seat as there was nothing available at that time, as I understand there were close to 900 Diamond and above members onboard. We were told the crowds would probably die down after the first couple of days but that never happened. It was very crowded every single night even though they opened up Dizzy's for the overflow. But, even with standing room only, the bartenders and waiters did a bang up job of keeping everyone's glass filled. After a couple of hours, the crowds did thin when patrons went to the dining room but still not a lot of empty seats to be found. Our official meet and greet was held in the morning of our first sea day and was well attended. RCCL had contests and prizes so made it even more fun to attend. We met more of our group at that time, a few of which we planned some excursions with. The following day was our slot pull which also had well over 100 attendees making it a very fun event. RCCL also included a raffle and prizes during the slot pull. Although we didn't win anything during the slot pull, we also didn't lose everything we put in, rather, we pretty much broke even. We spent a bit of time and money in the casino. We saw some people winning, but for the most part, as with any casino, more were not pulling out a profit. The casino host was very friendly but also very busy. He did take the time to recognize our Mlife status so were treated to a specialty dinner and complimentary drinks in the casino. Our first port of call was the following day, in Santa Barbara. Once we started sailing back up the cost, the seas got quite choppy and were the worst between sailing north from San Francisco to Astoria and then again up to Victoria. Because of very high winds, we were not able to dock on time in Victoria but the Captain tried again and was successful by noon or so. He extended our stay by 3 hours into the evening while in Victoria as the weather started to clear up. Although, we stayed onboard and got our packing done as we had just been to Victoria the previous month and couldn't get any packing done with the rough seas we hit the previous days. Our cabin was an aft facing stateroom on one of the upper decks so may have been susceptible to more movement than the midship cabins. Since we were way at the end of the hall, we usually had quite the walk to the midship stairs but it made for a nice quiet environment since very few people walked down that hallway. There was some banging noise that occurred in our stateroom when the seas were rough but for the most part, it was not all that bothersome. There was no noise from the Windjammer just above our cabin. Our room was meticulously maintained and cleaned. Our room steward, Nino, provided stellar service. Also, Sherwin, right down the hall was so sweet and always greeted us with a smile and a cheerful hello whenever we saw him. I was rather worried when I read of the extra firm mattresses and pillows but Nino put a duvet under the sheets and found us a couple of softer pillows and it was pretty comfortable. There are no robes, no box of tissues or lotion in the staterooms but if you request it, your room steward will bring you what you need. I can only surmise this is a cost saving effort and I have no problem with them bringing only items that people request to the staterooms. I heard some fellow passengers complaining about it, though. We ate at the dining room most mornings during the cruise and only a couple of times for dinner and once for lunch. The MDR was one of our disappointments on this cruise. We never felt as though the waiters there ever connected with us. Not once did the head waiter introduce themselves and they seemed very hurried. The assistant waiters actually delivered the food and we'd not see the head waiters again. The food was of decent quality. We did eat at Giovanni's Table, Chops Grille and Izumi's as well. The service in all of these was excellent and the food at the first two listed was absolutely spectacular!! We didn't care for the food at Izumi's but that is so subjective. One other disappointment wasn't really with the food in the Windjammer but that it closed during certain times of the day. They would send us down to the Cafe Promenade but they didn't have any vegetables or salads, which is usually what we wanted in the middle of the day. Of any cruise I've sailed, I have never seen the entire buffet closed down at any time. Even on the last morning, we were unable to get coffee in the Windjammer as they weren't open until 6 AM. One compliment I can give to the staff in the Windjammer is that the staff there cleared tables in a split second to make sure there was room for fellow passengers to sit and they brought beverages around every few minutes. The staff was very efficient and friendly in this area. Ajay was always out in front to welcome patrons and remind them to use purell upon entering the buffet area. Kudos also to the bartenders at the Windjammer. They were always friendly and most accommodating. The programming on the television and even the movies were geared towards a much younger crowd. Several stations only showed cartoons and only one international news station was available. There were also 2 ESPN stations, which I am sure was appreciated by sports fans. There were no movies that were of interest to us; Angry Birds seemed to be the dominant choice. The non-smoking section in the casino was extremely limited. My only other disappointment was with the long lines or huge crowds at nearly every venue. We don't often use elevators on any cruise but saw many people complaining about the excessive waits for a car to arrive. We didn't see any of the productions on the Promenade as it was just too crowded. We also had an incident where I had waited in line for 45 minutes at the excursion desk, only to find out that the excursion I wanted was sold out. I turned to walk away but turned right around and inquired about being put on the waiting list and the staff member that I spoke to said I had to go back and wait in that long line again. I wasn't 2 steps away when I turned around and she refused to help me. I waited again and asked to speak to someone other than her and requested to lodge a complaint with her supervisor. I am pretty sure this was never done as I received no response in the subsequent days. I wasn't requesting anything for my trouble except for an acknowledgement that that was poor customer service and additional training would be done. Now, on with the excellent aspects of the cruise and there were many: The computerized events display and maps at the stairwells are the best idea of all. The ice show was absolutely phenomenal. Every venue on the ship, including the public bathrooms, were immaculate. The Promenade was beautiful and made shopping or sitting for a cup of coffee or glass of ale was very inviting. We loved being able to go up to the Diamond Lounge in the morning to get a cup of cappuccino! The musicians onboard were very talented, as were the dancers and entertainment staff. We liked being able to check on our account or order room service right from our stateroom TV. The photo area and the concept of ordering your photos through a computer is the best idea I have ever seen. Very advanced and wish all cruise lines would do this. The entire ship was designed so beautifully. One would be hard pressed to find a bit of rust, dirt or even a light bulb that had burnt out. The hallways for the passenger cabins were nice and wide and were also kept spotless. Our cabin, including our balcony, was so comfortable and had very tasteful furnishings and curtains. The bathroom had the sliding shower doors instead of a curtain and there was a nice shelving unit off to the side behind the mirror for your toiletries. And, as mentioned, our room steward was beyond excellent so everything was kept spotless. He even decorated our room with very nice birthday decorations which was such a nice touch. RCCL allows passengers to each bring on one bottle of wine and it can be consumed anywhere throughout the ship without a corkage fee. Embarkation and Disembarkation were about the best we've ever experienced. Even in our one tender port, everything ran quite smoothly. I would definitely consider sailing on another RCCL cruise as the excellence far outweighed the small number of what I considered missteps. And even though the Explorer of the Seas was one of the most gorgeous ships on which I have sailed, I think the 3600 capacity or above is something I would steer away from. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Overall we had a very good cruise. There were a few things that could have been better. We arrived the day before the cruise and stayed at the Quality Inn, Seattle Center. This was an older hotel and it showed its age, but it was the ... Read More
Overall we had a very good cruise. There were a few things that could have been better. We arrived the day before the cruise and stayed at the Quality Inn, Seattle Center. This was an older hotel and it showed its age, but it was the only place that we could get a transfer from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier at a reasonable price. We used Speedy Shuttle. They were there on time and everything was handled very well. Overall, the food was very good and was cooked as we requested. The variety of food in the main dining at night was very good, but the breakfast and lunch menus got a bit repetitive. The situation with the lounges at night needs to be worked out. The concierge lounge on deck 9 was packed and the Diamond lounge on 14 was also packed. The servers did a great job in trying to get everybody served, but there needs to be a better system when there are over 800 people on board who are Diamond or Diamond Plus or Pinnacle. Embarkation was the best we have experienced. We arrived about 11:45 and were on the ship in a matter of minutes. Very well organized process. Rooms were not ready until 1:00, so we went to the windjammer and found several tables available. The food served was hot and fresh. First impression was excellent. Cabin ready at 1:00 and room steward had delivered our water and wine (we are diamond plus). He kept the cabin clean and refreshed and was very friendly and helpful and always called us by name. His name was Made Darmka and he was great. The bed was hard as a dining room table and we asked for a foam topper. Evidently, they no longer have them. We used extra pillows for softness. The next 2 days were sea days and we found ourselves looking for things to do that did not involve a sales pitch. We like the trivia and we found an excellent lecture to attend (thanks to the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle pages) If you ever get a chance to hear Fred Cink talk about Astronomy and the stars and the planets - be sure to attend his lectures. This was probably the best thing we did on the 3 sea days. He did 3 lectures. The ship did not offer any enrichment lectures that did not involve a sales pitch. We did not take any ship tours. In Santa Barbara, we did a walking wine tasting, along the Funk Zone. Found some interesting wines, but didn't have enough time to visit very many before we had to return to the 7 block long line that was waiting for the tender boats back. The tender situation in Santa Barbara needs to be changed. We wasted almost 2 hours of the 6 hours we had - just waiting in lines. In San Francisco, we did the Fisherman's Wharf and fish & chips and the sea lions. We have been there several times and just did a very easy day and then returned to the ship. It was cold and windy and we stayed inside. In Astoria, we took the shuttle to downtown and explored the Theatre and the Museum and found Josephson's fish market. They smoke their own fish and had a very nice smoked salmon sandwich . We also had clam chowder. Both were fabulous. The tram was useless because it was always full both ways, so we had to walk al the way back to the ship. We probably needed the exercise anyway... In Victoria, the wind and rain caused the ship to be delayed by almost 4 hours. We took the shuttle to downtown to the Empress Hotel and then went on a harbor tour on one of the little harbor boats. The guide was very informative and we got to see the port and watch the sea planes take off and land. It started misting and we headed back to the ship before it poured. The promenade was great for people watching except for the smoke that was ever present from the casino. We ended up avoiding the promenade at night when the smoke was the worst. The ice show was excellent. We are always amazed that they do so well on a moving ship. And THIS SHIP WAS MOVING A LOT!!! We bounced all over the ocean. The production shows were maybe average, but we have seen much better on other Royal ships. Disembarkation was a breeze and we were off with Speedy Shuttle again to the airport for our flight home. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We selected this cruise to experience the West coast ports of the United States, and it certainly provided an outstanding overview. The ports from Santa Barbara to Victoria were well selected, and each entertained in a different way. We ... Read More
We selected this cruise to experience the West coast ports of the United States, and it certainly provided an outstanding overview. The ports from Santa Barbara to Victoria were well selected, and each entertained in a different way. We took the ship's journey to Reagan Library in Santa Barbara, and it far exceeded our expectations (Imagine being on Air Force 1); our independent journey to Alcatraz in San Francisco was the most organized handling of thousands of people I have ever witnessed; the Maritime museum in Astoria was a historical view of Astoria's past and was excellent; Victoria's visit was diminished, despite the captains excellent handling, by the weather. Would love to go back. The ship was immaculate as was our room, the people crew were great and the embarking and disembarking were our best in 20+ cruises. Our wait staff in my time dining were excellent, however the food was inconsistent and the fish and shell fish severely overcooked. We were well entertained by all the performances we viewed, but often just relaxed to music in the large lounge. We would return to the West Coast with RC, but would visit different ports except Victoria Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise for two reasons: even though we live on the West Coast, we'd never sailed this itinerary before, and the prospect of driving to a port and not having to endure the torture of air travel appealed to us. However, ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons: even though we live on the West Coast, we'd never sailed this itinerary before, and the prospect of driving to a port and not having to endure the torture of air travel appealed to us. However, driving to the port is one thing-finding a place to park our car in Seattle at a reasonable cost was quite another. There are two parking lots dedicated to cruise parking that we were able to find, and the cost at either was exorbitant. $140 for 8 days was the cheapest (and we're paying in CAD dollars, making it even more painful). For this reason alone, we probably won't sail out of Seattle again. We were unable to find any hotels that had a reasonably priced park/cruise package. We liked the size of the ship-easy to find your way around, and we never found it too crowded. We had an inside cabin on Deck 8 overlooking the Promenade-a room with a view. While it did provide a bird's eye view of the Promenade activites, we did have to be careful to keep our curtains shut at all times. Noise was only an issue on the two evenings when there were activities with music late in the evening-the music pounded from 10:15 until 11, then it shut down. Since we travel only with carry on luggage, we never have a problem with waiting for our luggage to arrive. Deck 8 seemed to be the luggage depot on embarkation day-the hallway was lined with lined with luggage, much of it from other floors. We observed many frustrated passengers cruising the hallway, looking for their luggage. By the next morning it had all (we assume) been delivered to the right cabins. We loved the shower door-no clingy wet shower curtain this time! We did find the bed to be seriously hard, and since we had anticipated this from our previous cruise, we had purchased and brought along our own egg crate foam topper. For me, it was the difference between sleeping or not! The cruise line got rid of their 'egg crate toppers' a while ago, because the foam can't be sterilized. Or so we were told. Have they never heard of plastic covers?? I had also requested a mini-fridge for meds (filled out a 'special needs' form online months ago), but I had to chase that down. Nobody seemed to know anything about my request. It eventually showed up. We skipped the MDR (haven't eaten there in years-too slow and noisy) and ate all our meals in the Windjammer. From the comments in some previous reviews, we were a bit concerned about what we were going to be getting, but we found the food excellent. Some people are just born to gripe, I guess. Each day had a different theme for the food (Chinese, Mexican, etc), but there was always lots of variety. The staff were always quick to clear the tables, and if you looked out the window too long, your plate might disappear. I'm lactose intolerant, which means 98% of the desserts are out of bounds, but two evenings the chef brought me lactose free desserts. Apparently they do keep them in the kitchen, and you just have to ask. Same for lactose free milk-it was always available at the counter where the cereals were, at breakfast. We loved the Promenade cafe, and often ate there-their sandwiches were awesome. We are diamond plus level, and we did go to the diamond lounge on Deck 14 for drinks and appetizers before dinner a few times. The lounge was hopelessly overcrowded, and incredibly noisy, so we gave up on that after a few evenings. There is definitely a class structure in the Palace Theater-the prime upper deck middle seating section was roped off for those with certain color cards only. The only show we considered to be a 'must see' was the ice show, and if you miss your designated evening, there were always seats available at the other times. (It was done three times.) The two production shows were, in a word, awful. The singers and dancers are incredibly talented, but the material they were given was at best mediocre. We found the staff to be unfailingly cheerful and helpful, although the motto for the front desk should be "I know nothing!" There was zero information about the ports, aside from a very short writeup in the daily Compass, so we were glad we'd done our homework. There was lots of tourist information/maps available on the pier, once you get off the ship, but it helps to know what you're looking for. We had planned to catch the waterfront trolley in Santa Barbara, but it didn't show up for a long time, so we just walked the waterfront to State Street, and up to the courthouse. We got there just as one of their free tours was starting-definitely a must see. San Francisco was lovely-the weather was spectacular. First nice day in a week, we were told. We bought tickets for the SF Big Bus HOHO on the ship (they were the same price as buying from the bus line directly), and that meant we got picked up and dropped off right in front of the ship. Otherwise, you have to find your way to their ticket office, which is several blocks away. The buses were crowded in the morning, but there were lots of bus staff to help out with seating and tickets. We opted to do the entire tour and not to get off. Turned out to be a wise choice, since there were no seats to be had when people did try to get on at different stops. The 90 minute tour was narrated by a lively girl, who'd grown up in San Francisco, so she added lots of bits of information that was not in the prerecorded narration. BTW, everyone (at least in the morning) got earbuds, a poncho, and a map. The tour ended up being almost 3 hours long-we crossed the Golden Gate bridge, and stopped briefly at the other end before returning to the city. The views were spectacular. After lunch, we decided to do the tour again and to sit on the top open deck. We were lucky to get the front row, right behind the windshield-it was pretty breezy farther back. We could see far better from the top deck, but I wouldn't want to be up there in wet weather. There was also no live narration in the afternoon, only the prerecorded stuff. The driver was on his own, with no other staff on board to help out. But it's a good way to see lots of the city. Astoria was ok-a small town with little to see, although the waterfront trolley (ride all day for $2) was interesting. The two drivers provided narration. Victoria almost didn't happen-because of high winds, we couldn't dock in the morning, so had to retreat to the open water until 1 pm, when the captain tried again and was able to dock. Instead of leaving at 4 pm, departure was extended to 7 pm. We've been to Victoria many times, so chose to just walk around. Because of the winds, most excursions were cancelled, even those to Butchart Gardens. We love the trivia activities, although the prizes that RCI hands out for any activity are an absolute joke. Seriously--zipper pulls and highlighters?? No free galley or back stage tours anymore, nor free cooking demos either (except for one cake making demo). You have to pay big bucks for all of that now. The library is made up mostly of books left there by other cruisers, so get there early on the first day if you want any books. Better yet, bring your own Kindle or Kobo. There are games tables set up in the library, with some games provided, so it was a nice place to have a game of dominoes (bring your own). The one thing we really, really didn't like was the smoking in the casino. We observed a lot of people simply standing around in the casino and smoking, instead of going out on the deck. The smoke drifted up the stairs into the Promenade and much of the surrounding area. Come on RCI, ban smoking in the whole ship!! We did enjoy the cruise, except for the sea day between San Francisco and Astoria. That was 24 hours of stomach churning rocking and rolling. I didn't leave the cabin all day-even green apples and meds didn't help. We've experienced rough seas in this area before, and for that reason (and the expensive parking and seriously hard beds) won't sail this itinerary again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose RCI because a friend had recommended them to us. We chose this particular cruise because we booked last minute and it was one of the few left with rooms available; plus we had never been to California. Embarking at Seattle was ... Read More
We chose RCI because a friend had recommended them to us. We chose this particular cruise because we booked last minute and it was one of the few left with rooms available; plus we had never been to California. Embarking at Seattle was wonderful. It was also our first time in Seattle so we took the early train and arrived just before noon. By this time, it would be wise to start making your way to the cruise terminal as we did. The terminal was already quite full but the lines were moving so there wasn't much fuss getting our bags and ourselves checked in officially. The attendants at the port were friendly and helpful. The ship itself is breath-taking. It's very large and the interior is spectacular, yet cosy. We gave ourselves the tour down the Royal Promenade (central strip) right away and took in our surroundings with glee. The Cafe Promenade was the only thing open at the time so we sat down for a snack there. Coffee and tea is also available. Next, we thought we'd find our cabin so we could put away our carry-on. It was small, but very sufficient. It was very clean, which was probably the most important thing for us. Our assigned steward, Christian, came by later that evening to introduce himself. He is very friendly, sincere and has proven himself to be most attentive. He welcomed any requests and while we made none, he continued to observe our habits and always had the room made just the way we liked it! Well done, Christian! I wonder if we are able to request stewards by name... The Sapphire Dining Room (Main Dining Room) was wonderful throughout our stay. We dined there almost every night, except when we were at the specialty restaurants. The reservations attendant, Ethel, befriended us quickly and knew us by name by the 3rd or 4th night! We opted for My Time/Flex Dining, which worked out really well for us as we enjoyed planning our itinerary daily. They would always accommodate our request for a table for 2 without any fuss. The food was always very good. The waiters were mostly very engaging and would actively participate in our menu selections. We found it helpful as they would make some really good recommendations! We really enjoyed the variety and quality of food here. There will be packages available for the specialty restaurants when you get on board, so watch for those. We bought the package at $75 for 3 meals. The ideal for them is that you try all 3 of their specialty restaurants, but you can always choose to visit 1 of the restaurants twice instead. It's well worth it, ladies and gents. I would highly recommend purchasing the package! Chops Grille was fantastic. Filet Mignon speaks for itself, but please get it with the peppercorn sauce! The scallops and the crab cakes were my favourite appetizers. The brut is a lovely accompaniment to a meal here. For dessert, look no further than the mud pie! Giovanni's Table was also marvelous. The lamb chops are actually rack of lamb, and it is SO GOOD. Finish off with the Tiramisu and you'll be in heaven! The shore excursion that we bought was quite a mess. It was for Santa Barbara - Historical City and Wine Trail ($90 per person). My foot. The bus driver got lost(?!). Is the bus driver not from Santa Barbara? We wasted half the tour rounding the city blocks with the tour guide rambling on about the same nonsense over and over again. We then got off the bus at the Mission, and given the most boring talk ever by the other tour guide. The information was uninteresting and you could see it on everybody's faces: "Get me out of here". We hopped back on the bus and was driven to the Funk Zone (wine trail) with a mere 45 minutes to spare. We were all given 3 tasting tickets for 3 different tasting rooms. Although the wine tasting part went well (probably because it was self-guided), it did not change any of our opinions on the sham that is the first half of the tour. After this, I hesitated to buy any more excursions. Shame, as this was our very first stop. When we got to San Francisco, we decided to just go off on our own and had a marvelous time on the Big Bus! I have to tell you that Astoria is one of the most boring places on earth. It was a waste of a stop, frankly. We got off and walked the "waterfront" trail into "town" and saw all 3 blocks of their "town". Can't say it was a good time. As for Victoria, we are from Vancouver so we already know how lovely Victoria is. We had a wonderful cruise director and a really enthusiastic activities team, so that made the entertainment portion of this cruise really, really great! We especially enjoyed the game shows hosted by the cruise director, Graham. His morning shows are also not to be missed. It's your first piece of entertainment in the morning! The headliners and staff performers were all great, except for the comedian on the last night. His jokes did not sit well with the audience and his delivery tumbled even further down the rabbit hole. After conversations at breakfast the next morning, we can confirm that practically no one enjoyed his act. I'd suggest maybe not hiring this act again. The activities in the lounges were quite entertaining. The various trivias and games kept us busy all day! Finally, the service staff were all really lovely. I have already sung my praises for the steward, but the servers and everyone else on staff was really very charming and accommodating. We did not travel with children but I saw that they had a kids club where parents could leave their children under the supervision of a crew member all day. The kids seem to have their own itinerary so I'm assuming they manage to have good fun while mummy and daddy soak up some fun! I would most certainly do this again! In fact, we visited the NextCruise department before the end and booked our next cruise! Good job, RCI! We will see you again soon! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
It's all about value. This cruise was very affordable. We cruise for the cruise experience and not just ports. The food was good but the evening dining was excellent. The breakfast and lunch (and snacks) is always a cattle call on the ... Read More
It's all about value. This cruise was very affordable. We cruise for the cruise experience and not just ports. The food was good but the evening dining was excellent. The breakfast and lunch (and snacks) is always a cattle call on the 11th floor. The only thing that kept this from being a "Very Good" cruise was the re-boarding process, especially on the return from Astoria. The line was single file and there was only one scanner in service (but their were two others sitting idle. The re-boarding was tedious and lengthy. As always (cruise #26), the room steward and the main dining staff were excellent. the best entertainment was the ice show...5 stars! The dance troupe was proficient but the pageantry was not what we are used to seeing...3 stars. The ports were okay...been to Astoria and San Francisco enough that there was nothing new we wanted to do. The shore excursions are way too expensive and the photos were so expensive we didn't even take pictures on formal night or when coming and going on the ship. Royal Caribbean is still our favorite cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We were delighted to be able to drive to a cruise instead of flying several hours and the itinerary was great. Embarkation was the easiest ever in 9 cruises; it was under 30 minutes from the first door to walking onto the Explorer. We ... Read More
We were delighted to be able to drive to a cruise instead of flying several hours and the itinerary was great. Embarkation was the easiest ever in 9 cruises; it was under 30 minutes from the first door to walking onto the Explorer. We parked at Seattle Cruise Parking (the Armory), arriving about 10 a.m. and shuttled to the port within minutes. Lunch was available at the Windjammer buffet and Cafe Promenade on level 5, which combined Starbucks, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and various sandwich and bakery offerings (complimentary). In the morning, there were egg & sausage English muffins, an assortment of pastries, and free coffee (regular but good), teas, and hot chocolate. Chocolate croissants were very popular. A good assortment of cold sandwiches (and cold pizza) later in the day. Our balcony cabin was mid-ship on the port side, done in restful blue shades and light cabinetry, very nice and clean. Cabin attendant Henry was wonderful and prompt, even finding us some mattress toppers for their EXTREMELY FIRM MATTRESSES. If I didn't sail Royal again it would be because of the overly-firm mattresses, even with the toppers. A nice round shower with doors, very user-friendly. The dining service was superior (Igusti and Oomkar) but the food items were hit and miss. Salads were good, every soup was meh, the lobster was cooked properly. We also ordered filet mignons twice in the MDR, both times perfect. A satisfactory experience though not outstanding. We loved the ice show, not to miss! If you don't make your assigned time, show up at the open seating at least 20 minutes early (long line). Listened to some of the pub musicians but no comedy or juggling shows. Really enjoyed the quiet areas, including the library. Bring a couple of good books and leave them to build their inventory! We had super friendly, helpful, and professional service throughout the ship, from the MDR to guest services. Only saw one grumpy face and he might have been having a really bad day. Felt like we were treated Royally! We did a jet boat ride in San Francisco and had a good pizza at Pier 39 (free shuttle here from the pier) and wandered Fisherman's Wharf. Will have to go to Chinatown another time; my hip gave out. Also had a ball in Victoria, a gorgeous city. We went to Chinatown on our own and ate there, a good luncheon special at $10.95. Taxis seemed pretty reasonable as well. Also did the Hippo 90-minute ride combining a land tour of the city and an awesome Inner Harbor water tour. Very interesting with great photo ops and able to get off very close to the pier. Beautiful weather for most of the trip: bring some layers for the cooler days but S.F. was 90, NINETY and humid, so we didn't even need jackets out in the bay. The jet boat ride was way fun and got some good shots of the ship from the Oakland side. One of best excursions ever at a nominal cost. We did not travel with children; I was surprised at how many school-age children were aboard but they were quite well behaved and I'm sure that there were some proud parents on our cruise. We'd love to go on a Pacific Coastal again but will probably try Celebrity next time. The beds were a real detriment for me and the dining overall wasn't comparable to Carnival last year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We enjoyed the ports very much and the ship is quite beautiful. We visited Astoria, San Francisco (overnight) and Victoria. Everything from embarkation to ports to disembarkation was smooth and organized. We did a Seattle tour after our ... Read More
We enjoyed the ports very much and the ship is quite beautiful. We visited Astoria, San Francisco (overnight) and Victoria. Everything from embarkation to ports to disembarkation was smooth and organized. We did a Seattle tour after our cruise visiting the Space Needle and Chiluly Gardens. it was really enjoyable and the driver gave us a great tour of the city as well since we all had time before our flights - this was not originally included, but we had a great driver. The food in the MDY was ok, some dishes better than others as always, but our dining team (Oka and Igede) were the best and we looked forward to dining there just because of them. We didn't realize Johnny Rockett's is only open while at sea. Giovanni's Table was delicious as usual! We were on Deck 10 and enjoyed a delightful cabin steward (Ravi) as well. Our only issue is one that is very difficult to resolve. There were a large number of Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members on board ( over 400) as well as Suite customers. While we are Diamond, we were fortunate to be in the Royal Suite but getting a seat in the Concierge or Diamond Lounge was almost impossible. People were going in before 4:00 even though they don't open until 4:30 and saving seats. Yes, we did get 3 drinks per day loaded onto our Sea Pass cards as Royal is doing this to compensate for the overcrowding, but we still enjoy going to the Concierge Lounge. It is now so overrun with Diamond members that Suite customers are literally shut out. this lounge was originally intended for Suites only. We are not complainers, so just worked around it, but some Diamond members feel so entitled as though all other passengers should be excluded. Yes, they are true Loyalists and should receive perks, of course. We just feel that Suite passengers deserve them as well. The week of Sept. 30th, they were expecting 900 Diamond members! We still enjoyed our cruise very much! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I flew into Seattle on Wednesday with my 16 year old son. I was with a group of cross stitches. Spent Wednesday evening at the Chihuly museum, it was nice. I had seen some of his works in my home state. We ate at a local restaurant, 5 ... Read More
I flew into Seattle on Wednesday with my 16 year old son. I was with a group of cross stitches. Spent Wednesday evening at the Chihuly museum, it was nice. I had seen some of his works in my home state. We ate at a local restaurant, 5 Point Cafe, open 24hours. Good food. Thursday we rode the monorail and then the light rail to Pike's Market. You could spend days here and never see everything. Did see the flying fish, big piggy bank, and the awesome flower stands. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express , Aurora Ave N, it is very close to Space Needle. Friday time to head to the ship, embarked went went smoothly, FYI if you want a lanyard I suggest you buy it at the stand, just before you get on the ship. They had a big selection. We got there about 12:20 and did not really wait much at any point getting on the ship. We did head right to the room and dropped off our carry on and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. This is the one place that I would not give high marks. The food was not as good as I expected. I will give you a hint, always walk all the way around the food lines before choosing what to eat. There are 3 bars for food in the back, one a fruit station, one for desserts. My complaint was that some of the food choices didn't seem to go together. I ate dinner in the main dining room every night and was very pleased with the food. You got plenty, one night I ordered two appetizers plus my main dish and dessert. Loved the duck, lamb, lobster, roast beef. If you want to know what is for dinner, there is a touch screen in the lobby area of the dining room and shows the menus for supper. Breakfast time I ate 1/2 in the dining room and 1/2 in Windjammer. Dining room was ok, only complaint was toast was cold by the time it got to us. That is why I went to Windjammer, to get the warm toast and bagels. I did stop in for snacks at Promenade Cafe, loved the round sugar coated donuts and the shrimp roll. I did not attend any shows but my son went to the magician and thought the show was wonderful. I did play bingo and won the second pot, $771. It cost $38 for 3 sets of 6 cards or $49 for 3 sets of 9 cards. Or buy 2 sets get one free which means I bought the $49 set and split it with my friend so each game we had 27 cards to check. They sell daubers for $2 each but you can use a pen to mark the squares off. HINT get there early and sit at the railing seats so you have a place to lay your boards. It was well paced calling and not real hard to play for those of us that don't play often. All service across the ship was wonderful, I have no complains what so ever, all staff was friendly and smiles. Especially the dining room staff, if you order tea the first night, every night after that, there was tea at your place. Side note - I was sitting with people from the group I was with, not strangers. I was in room 7598, not too far from elevators, in the back side so going to dinner was just a quick ride down from 7 to 3. Room had a balcony, and a third sleeping bed that came down from the ceiling. That is where my son slept. I did have to store a suitcase under each bed but that was ok. Room had a 2 seater couch which most of the time we had stuff on it. Excursions: we did the Mount St Helen tour out of Astoria OR, 2 1/2 bus ride there, less than 1 1/2 at the viewing and then 2 1/2 ride back to the ship. I didn't really think it was worth the cost. We would have had more fun in Astoria walking around. Muir Woods and Sausalito tour - totally loved the Muir Woods, only had time to eat in Sausalito but that is ok, not really into shopping. HINT if you want to do your own Alcatraz tour, tickets go on sale exactly 90 days out, evening tours sell out early. It was a good trip, ship wise I have no complaints. I would cruise again. Disembarkation went mostly smoothly. 2 of our bags were in the wrong row but we finally found them. My son spent some time with teen Center, he found a couple of kids to run around with. Sometimes he just wanted to hang in the room and get room service. Internet- I got the streaming package for 2 devices, $156, we used an app KIK to communicate. That worked well. Occasionally I would have to log back in on my device. All in all it was a good cruise with great ports. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The Pacific Coastal itinerary is one of our favorites, especially when it involves sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. We cruised last year on RCL's Jewel of the Seas and vowed to try to do this cruise every year if the price was ... Read More
The Pacific Coastal itinerary is one of our favorites, especially when it involves sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. We cruised last year on RCL's Jewel of the Seas and vowed to try to do this cruise every year if the price was right. We booked a D1 aft after final payment at a great price and were so looking forward to another great time on the west coast. Since we like to take public transportation, the trip from the SEATAC to downtown, to the port, was quite the adventure but very doable if you pack light and are not afraid of stairs and a little bit of walking. The embarkation went quickly and we were in our room unpacking by 1:30pm. Our cabin was large but sparse with a big gap between the bed and couch and no table in front of the couch. Our steward explained the ship had recently been refurbished and RCL decided not to furnish tables in front of the couch. We especially enjoyed the large aft balcony which had a table and chairs and two loungers. The view was amazing. The menu and food in the dining room was very good but we found the buffet lacking most of the times we ate in there for lunch or dinner. The entertainment was just ok, with the exception of the ice show which should not be missed. There was really no live music during the sea days until the evening hours and no movies except for those shown poolside which may be great on a caribbean cruise but not on a west coast cruise where most nights are way too cold to be outside. We love the ports of the west coast and spending two full days in San Francisco is the best thing about this cruise. Not much to do in Astoria but it's a cute little town for wandering around and Victoria is always a special place. Everything about this cruise was nice, staff was friendly, cabin steward excellent, and great ports but the Explorer did not measure up to the Radiance class ships which are by far our favorites. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My wife and I cruised on EXPLORER on the Pacific Northwest Itinerary from 9/23-9/30. Our prior cruise had been last summer on NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS, a near twin to EXPLORER, so we knew the layout quite well from Day 1. For the first ... Read More
My wife and I cruised on EXPLORER on the Pacific Northwest Itinerary from 9/23-9/30. Our prior cruise had been last summer on NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS, a near twin to EXPLORER, so we knew the layout quite well from Day 1. For the first time in my cruising experience, I bought the unlimited drink package. Unfortunately, I signed up for it just after the rates went up (and package choices dropped), but I went for it anyway. We have also in the past only sailed in balcony rooms, but this cruise enticed me because we got a good rate for an interior promenade room (on 7th deck). The price jump to oceanview or balcony was more than I wanted to pay. So the first lesson we learned was that for us, an interior room (even with the promenade window) is just not that fun. I know others don’t care, and that’s fine. But for US…not waking up to natural light and not being able to see the ocean and step onto the balcony was a big, BIG loss. We still enjoyed our cruise very much indeed, but interior rooms are NOT for us, it turns out. So we may find ourselves having more time between cruises because we need to make sure we can afford the balcony. The promenade cabin is about the same size as the balcony stateroom we had on the Navigator last year (maybe a smidge smaller), and we did enjoy the window seat…but people watching from the window didn’t end up being very fulfilling. We had a very good stateroom attendant, the bathroom worked great and we slept very comfortably. No issues there. (I always sleep well on cruises…I have to scratch my head at those who complain. Putting the severe stress of work behind me for a few days makes it so easy to sleep, especially after action-packed days in port.) The ship itself was clean and tidy. The layout is pretty simple, really. From the promenade deck, you can reach the theater, the dining room and most “interior” stuff very quickly. There are several bars around (which I enjoyed…try the ridiculously sweet/tart Caramel Daiquiri at the R-Bar), and with the drink package, service is so much faster. Most bartenders poured with a heavy hand, which I liked, but keep an eye out. A few were stingy, so I avoided them going forward. This was the first cruise I’ve been on where I finally begin to understand some of the complaints I read about food in the MDR. (We’ve sailed NCL once, and this was our third time on Royal). In the past, the food has always been pretty nice for us. Not every single dish was a home run, but we seldom left the table disappointed. On EXPLORER (we did My Time Dining as always), there were several nights where the food left me wanting. First night I had Prime Rib. It was a generous portion, but quite tasteless. Big disappointment. Few desserts were remarkable, and on several nights, we saw very few appetizers that appealed. On the 2nd formal night, we had lobster, but there was no steak & lobster option. The lobster plate came with some shrimp, and it was all tasty. My wife and I both ordered that…and I ordered the “always on the menu” strip steak entrée so we could split the steak. TERRIBLE steak. Terrible cut of meat, overcooked and really pretty dreadful. Also, our service was spotty. The first couple of nights, we were over in one corner, not a very nice location, and our waiter was a bit smarmy. So we asked for seating near the “balcony” (looking down on decks 3 & 4). We were accommodated with our seating choices each night, but had differing wait staff every night thereafter. Some were perfectly fine, others were just okay. I missed the experience of having the same wait team each night and getting to know them…but where they first seated us was simply NOT exciting at all. We still never went to Windjammer for dinner…just too chaotic. But by the end of the trip, our usual enthusiasm for dinner (“oh boy, it’s dinner time”) was quite dampened. In the past, we always spend a night in CHOPS, but decided to pass this time. However, we did do the “pasta making demonstration” lunch at Giovanni’s. It was $20 and VERY well worth that charge. It was a delightful two hours. The food was excellent…very, very tasty. The chef who presented on pasta making was humorous, and even though I didn’t learn too much about making pasta, it was still fun. Then we got a quick tour of the galley, which was great. $20 really well spent. I highly recommend this little treat on a sea day. On embarkation, we lunched at Windjammer. The usual chaos with getting a seat, and the extra clutter with everyone pulling luggage with them. But the food was fine. One morning, we had room service, but the food was disappointing enough that we then breakfasted regularly in the Windjammer. Again, getting a seat was tough, but the food was generally nice. Lots of selection. The omelet bar was always packed, so I never bothered, but I noted the adjoining fried egg station, where each morning I got a couple of eggs over easy in about 30 seconds. Never a wait…tasty treat. My drink card allowed me to get fresh squeezed OJ, which I certainly enjoyed. Especially compared to the regular “juice” they serve. If you have that package, take the extra time to get real juice! On our last sea day (seas were rough, and most outdoor areas were closed), we had lunch at Johnny Rocket’s. Enjoyed the decadent treat. The vanilla malts were excellent. My disappointment with the EXPLORER (as with the NAVIGATOR) is in Café Promenade. This is the little place where you can pick up food any time of day (pretty much), but it’s just little sandwiches and terrible pizza. I miss my experiences on other ships (smaller ones, ironically) that had 24 hours sit-down “comfort food” places. A ship as big as this could surely have found a place for such a restaurant. One day, we did the wine tasting (about an hour after we did the great lunch package with Giovanni’s) . It was $25, ($20 for me because of my package). We are not wine snobs in the least, so we enjoyed learning about the different wines. I think there were 5 glasses, if memory serves. We enjoyed the camaraderie at our table almost more than the tasting. I wouldn’t do this activity EVERY time, but it was something new for us, and lots of fun. Also new to us…we skipped some of the shows! Usually, dinner & a show is great for us. We work our entire dinner schedule to accommodate. But this time, we skipped the “Production shows.” They were really quite bland on NAVIGATOR, so we passed this time. We saw the guest stars, so we enjoyed the comedian, the juggler and yes, even the ventriloquist. And of course, we enjoyed The Quest. The time of year and itinerary made this cruise one with very few kids. My wife and I are in our early 50s, and we felt we were on the young end of the range for this cruise. So some of the usual “fun” events like Battle of the Sexes or Love & Marriage Game show were VERY sparcely attended, and when we went, we noticed that many of the same handful of folks were contestants. Same people who “led” groups in The Quest also competed in everything else. In general, the whole cruise was just a bit low key in atmosphere. Of course, the weather was very fall-like and often chilly, so the outside spaces were quite subdued. Very little party atmosphere. Even disco night was understated from what I’ve seen before. Those cruise director staff had to work really hard to drum up enthusiasm. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the port (via Uber) at 11:30. Bags were whisked away. We had our documents ready, and were shown right to the Gold line. Immediately called up to a desk. On board, sipping my first drink, by 11:45. Yay! Debarkation was also pretty simple. We walked right off the ship, found our bags and took all of 3 minutes getting through the VERY non-thorough customs line. No questions of anyone. Just show your passport, hand your form, and go on your way. Waited 10 minutes for our Uber driver to find us, and off we went. Really smooth. As far as the itinerary, we had a GREAT time. Seattle was fun to visit before and after (and we had a B&B that essentially overlooked the port, so when we woke up in the morning, there was our ship!). Astoria, OR was a delight to discover. We walked for miles, rented bikes (BIKES & BEYOND, $20 for the whole day), visited breweries, walked some scenic trails and just had a delightful time in this little, scenic town. Lots to do here, actually. Spending two days in San Francisco was great…I had been there all of one day in my life, so we rented a car and ventured out to Muir Woods & Napa Valley on day one, plus a great dinner in town. The next day, we hoofed it to Coit Tower and to Chinatown, and had a terrific lunch before visiting the Museum of Modern Art. Such fun. Victoria was delightful as well. I ended up enjoying this itinerary even more than I had hoped I would. I highly recommend it. (Kids probably would be tougher to thrill with it, though.) There were certainly bumps as described above. Since we have become jaded veterans (after only 3 prior cruises), perhaps the flaws are a little harder to ignore. But we still had a GREAT time, and I have few regrets. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
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