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Sail Date: December 2017
Overall, we had a good holiday. My biggest issue is that the food is hit and miss in the main dining room. Some really good dishes and then some poor ones with a dominance of bland and the unfortunate use of MSG. I often eat fish and ... Read More
Overall, we had a good holiday. My biggest issue is that the food is hit and miss in the main dining room. Some really good dishes and then some poor ones with a dominance of bland and the unfortunate use of MSG. I often eat fish and it was overcooked on two occasions with once being about right. This is difficult with the difference being as little as one minute but dry fish is terrible. I understand that a lot of the people on-board are probably into bland food but when you have ten odd dishes on the menu surely there is room for a bit of taste somewhere. Someone at RC needs to realize that Thai Restaurants are very popular in Australia and Australians travel to Asia a lot leading to people being used to spicy food that actually has some spice in it. There was usually an Indian dish but they were very light on the spice. I had Thai prawns that were in no way what I would call Thai. Thai food involves some combination of garlic, chili, basil, coriander and lime. This dish had onions and loads of MSG. MSG is a lazy way of adding flavor that I associate with KFC and Pizza Hutt. After eating it I have extremely disturbed sleep. The following night our poor waiting staff coped an ear full. We also had a night in the Windjammer when I should have seen the sauce the prawns was in was loaded with MSG resulting in me having two very bad nights sleep on what is supposed to be a holiday. We shared our dinner with a very nice family making our time in the main dining room very pleasant even if the food wasn't that great. We ate at Chops Grille one night and we all liked our meals, the atmosphere and the service. Overall the staff and service were great. The exception was that some staff on New Years Eve didn't want to be there. We moved to the Pool Party and had a great time there. The entertainment in the theatre was good except for one night where there were two singers doing material that wasn't to our liking. Their orchestra was significantly improved from two years ago as was the sound engineering. Given that it was 14 nights this was fairly important and the acts were again much better than two years ago. It was a good mix of different shows. I had my first experience of enrichment lectures with a Clinical Psychologist providing 7 very interesting talks. The numbers increased with each day. I like this very much. Joe Hollywood was playing in the Schooner Bar and I enjoyed his show playing a lot of well known songs. The other acts did not impress. We left after 15 minutes of the 5 piece band and skipped another party they were playing at. We only caught a few minutes of the other acts and that did not inspire us to seek out their whole shows. One of our party has mobility issues so our shore excursions were limited. I had an amazing massage on Mystery Island. My partner had one on the boat a few days earlier and rated the one on the Island much higher and about a quarter of the price. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
It was our 14th cruise and 7 of them were during Christmas & New Year period. It was the most BORING New Year ever. What you will get on Royal Caribbean for New Year: some balloons fallen from the ceiling and, if you are lucky a glass ... Read More
It was our 14th cruise and 7 of them were during Christmas & New Year period. It was the most BORING New Year ever. What you will get on Royal Caribbean for New Year: some balloons fallen from the ceiling and, if you are lucky a glass of free champagne. Compare with other New Year Cruises on other ships, we did not really felt we have celebrated a New Year on Explorer of the Seas. They were trying to squeeze every dollar out of us: buy champagne (every other New Year Cruise were arranging Champagne Tower - good fun of free drink for NY, buy specialty restaurants for New Year Dinner ...... We also would like to mention the negative side we have experienced during our cruise. We have purchased a quite expensive jewellery and none of the sale representatives advised us that additional 10% duty would be payable to customs upon arrival to Australia. It seems it was done on purpose to get the sales going and mislead the buyers. Though the list of people who spent over $900.00 was provided by ship officials to Australian customs. Many passengers did not expect such a "surprise" and extensive additional charges at the Sydney Port after disembarkation. VERY DISAPPOINTING! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise as it was an opportunity to get away from the usual xmas new year routine. Our daughter and son in law were celebrating their fourth anniversary and we decided to invite them. we advised the company that we were ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was an opportunity to get away from the usual xmas new year routine. Our daughter and son in law were celebrating their fourth anniversary and we decided to invite them. we advised the company that we were celebrating this event .the immediate response was for them to rattle off all these overpriced packages. We simply asked that there be some small recognition - card on the door? announcement at meal? -There was none. Having in recent times (-over the last 3 years ) travelled with P&O and princess cruises, I'd expected the drinks prices to be high and had budgeted for a $40AUD bottle of wine with our meal each evening. I believe many had forgotten they were paying USD for everything.They were duped into thinking lets say $36 for a bottle of wine or $9 for a stubby was acceptable - in reality using "The Ship's official" rate of exchange these prices were nearly 40% more in aud. I Hadn't expected prices for a bottle of wine to start at $60 aud! many who had the $1100aud drinks package (which they thought was$900)were cheating by sharing drinks with their partners. Cabin , meal service excellent as always , entertainment had a "sameness" .reggae which i enjoy but not for 11 days solid! I was bit wary of the cruise director whose accent sounded Russian . "Topi" turned out to be a very likeable guy I thoroughly enjoyed his sailing account . Im not certain he was good at planning the entertainment .New year's and Christmas Eve were rather flat . The dance team were good though couldn't help feeling that every show was a dancing competition.orchestra, magicians were excellent also the comedy with the exception of one who i felt attracted the cult following "yobo" element. We wouldn't travel with Royal Carribean again .We have felt P&O were more in touch with Australian travellers. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Love Royal Caribbean cruises. We travelled with some family this time who were in the cabin beside us and one of them was in a wheelchair. This showed us another side to cruising, as to what it is like for people in wheelchairs around the ... Read More
Love Royal Caribbean cruises. We travelled with some family this time who were in the cabin beside us and one of them was in a wheelchair. This showed us another side to cruising, as to what it is like for people in wheelchairs around the ship and in ports. Embarkation was great and went smoothly and quickly (probably quicker because of our family travelling with us being in a wheelchair). From the time we arrived at the dock it took around 30 minutes and we were on the ship. This was our second time on the Explorer so we were familiar where everything was. After having lunch in the Windjammer, our cabins were ready for us. We had a window cabin which was small but for 2 people it has everything you need. Our cabin steward was great, nothing was too much trouble for him. The dining was a bit of hit and miss in the main dining room. Some nights the food was great, and other nights just ok. Unfortunately, the service was also the same. some nights ok and some better than others. We took the package for the 3 nights for the speciality restaurants. Not sure if we will do that again? Giovanni's was not as good as usual, maybe because the restaurant was very busy. Food was ok and service very slow and lacking. Chops Grill was where we had dinner for NYE and the food was delicious and service much better than Giovanni's. We booked Izumi for our last night on the ship. The food was great (as usual), but one disappointment was that they told us they had run out of a certain desert. This left one person in our party of 4 unable to eat any deserts because of her food allergies, as there are only 3 desert choices, and the 2 available had ingredients she couldn't eat. They were also not very appealing to the rest of us. One hint, don't book specialty restaurants on the last night. But there is plenty of food on the ship, and you can always find what you want elsewhere, (for free) Windjammer has an amazing selection of food and deserts, and there is also the cafe in the promenade with a good selection, so nobody could ever say they were hungry. Entertainment was enjoyable, and the activities director and his staff were amazing, always providing lots of fun with everything they did. In general, the service on RCI is fantastic and we can't wait to cruise again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I was wanting a cruise over Christmas and this was suitable. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze thanks to good organisation The cabin and it's steward Nino were perfect except for having to get in the bath to have a shower, I ... Read More
I was wanting a cruise over Christmas and this was suitable. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze thanks to good organisation The cabin and it's steward Nino were perfect except for having to get in the bath to have a shower, I know some people like to wallow but I prefer a shower and it is safer at sea. The food was ok for such large numbers and strangely Windjammers was hotter. Chop Grille was my choice for specialty dining. The specialty coffee was dire I suspect it was the low fat UHT milk. The alcohol in mixed drinks such as cocktails was very Scrooge like must have been the Christmas spirit or lack of. I wished there was a large table or more for singles and couples travelling alone, we asked to be seated with people but that was ignored ( not answered or acted upon) . There were mostly families saiing so it was oddly hard to meet people. The ports were poor Pacific island countries. We took 2 trips booked via the ship and one we did with a taxi. Enjoyed all of them and thought the were reasonable value. This was my first sailing on a ship over 200 people so it was an eyeopener. We found it hard to work out some dining options in the MDR. As when we booked via the lines office we were told there were 2 options 6 pm too early and 8 pm too late. We chose 6 but then on the ship found dine anytime so we just went when it suited us. Actually quite a few instructions were written presuming a previous knowledge. For all my little quibbles I thought she was a nice ship and would go again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I went on the 9 night South Pacific Cruise to Noumea, Mystery Island and Lifou. The cruise compromised of mostly 3000 Australians and about 1200 kids. This was my first cruise and I am in my early 30's. I came with my partner. ... Read More
I went on the 9 night South Pacific Cruise to Noumea, Mystery Island and Lifou. The cruise compromised of mostly 3000 Australians and about 1200 kids. This was my first cruise and I am in my early 30's. I came with my partner. Embarking was really quick and easy, I checked in at approximately 3pm. Just have your luggage tags printed out, passport ready and credit card for the seapass handy. I got my luggage pretty quickly to my room as well. Tip: Bring your own lanyard for easy access of your seapass As it was nearing Xmas, the boat was beautifully decorated with lots of xmas decorations. The boat is quite nice although feels outdated in parts. By the second day, my partner and I were very familiar with the boat and there were lots of maps about if you are lost. I found it best to wake up early to get a great table with a view at the buffet and to ensure a short wait at the buffet. A lot of people sleep in so by the time it's 8am-9am or beyond - it was difficult to get a table. We had an interior room which fit a bed, small couch, small desk and a tiny bathroom. There was also shelves, draws and hanging space for clothes. It was fit for purpose although as there were no windows, it was pitch black when you turned off the lights. Our room attendant cleaned our room twice a day and was very polite. The first few sea days when things were new, I felt like there were lots of things to do. We avoided mini golf as there were so many kids, the rock climbing wall seemed to have a large line as well but I did do a zumba class and right after we registered for plastic archery. A number of people turned up at the time archery was meant to start and missed out. We quickly learnt that you had to get there early or you would miss out. This is where I thought the planning of the activities was poor. By the final days of the cruise, people were lining up 20-30minutes prior to events starting and people were everywhere. People would sit at the schooner bar claiming several seats for other people waiting for Trivia which made it impossible for popular trivia including Harry Potter where I felt like 150 people were trying to fit into a space that would fit 40 people. The hosts of trivia seemed to be quite stressed at having enough paper and pens for people to participate and would really focus on people returning pens. On the last few days of the cruise, I wasn't able to do a number of activities such as xmas card making, ginger bread decorating or ice skating as so many people were there. At the animal towel demonstration, approximately 80 people were trying to crowd around a small table which the kids and parents of about 15 people could see. I felt that better planning was needed or they needed multiple "attractive" activities occurring at one time. At times I saw very few people attend the seminairs that obviously didn't seem that interesting. The evening shows were good, with the quality improving as the cruise went on with external acts on board. The ice skating show was really cool and entertaining with ex-olympians. I went to the chef's table (additional $$) which was a nice dinner but the quality of food did not compare to the high quality food in Sydney. The food was still the best on the cruise. I found the buffet to be a bit repetitive but was sufficient. The Main Dining Room had food that was always incredibly salty in taste. The seafood quality was poor compared to Sydney standards. They had "jumbo prawns" on the menu which would be considered king prawns in Sydney. We have much bigger prawns that would be considered jumbo. There were still some good dishes in between but I was hoping the food would be better. I wasn't sure if there was a cultural difference - is American food typically a lot more saltier than Australian? I would recommend eating breakfast in the buffet and switching to the main dining room for breakfast as well. The buffet for lunch and the main dining room for dinner. Other patrons on the cruise said they didn't think Giovanni's was worthwhile and I did not think Johnny Rockets was worthwhile unless you are desperate for a chocolate shake. It was really good. The islands were really beautiful and I recommend going early for a seamless tender to the island. DO NOT book any shore excursions as you can easily book for 1/3 of the price as soon as you enter the islands. Noumea was nice, I did a bus tour which my partner really enjoyed. You can also pay an additional $8 for access to the hop on and hop off bus. Other people just went straight to the cove. My partner also had really nice french pastries in a local patissier. Mystery Island was my favourite and I paid $30AUD for a dodgey looking glass boat tour but it was still nice. There weren't loads of schools of fish but you did see various fish like Dory fish and coral. My partner also did a cultural tour which he really enjoyed. Lifou was a bit touristy and we paid $10 AUD to go into a cave. There was a guy at the entrance so I wasn't sure if it was official or if he just made an opportunistic play. Regardless I hope he shared the profits with the broader community. The cave was a relatively quick descent although not ideal for eldery, I was fine in flip flops (thongs) and there was a small pool of water at the bottom which a few daring people dived into. The last few sea days were really boring as It was very difficult to get into the activities. I managed to line up for a while and get into ice skating which was nice. Overall the staff were really friendly and lovely. Overall, as I got the cruise on sale, I think it's very high on value when you have accomodation, travel, food and entertainment included. The service was great and the people on the cruise were generally quite polite. With some better planning in activities and adjustments on the food - the cruise could significantly be great. I was a bit bored in the end. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We have been on the Explorer and her sister, Voyager a few times now, and have always enjoyed the feel of these ships. This time, we combined the previous 6 day cruise down to Tasmania with this Pacific cruise, great way to extend the ... Read More
We have been on the Explorer and her sister, Voyager a few times now, and have always enjoyed the feel of these ships. This time, we combined the previous 6 day cruise down to Tasmania with this Pacific cruise, great way to extend the seaboard life at sea!! The only drawback we had was that there was over 1,000 children on board for this cruise, which is a bit overwhelming to say the least. But, it was school holidays and it is a fun way for a family to have a holiday together. I do think the cruise line, and probably the industry as a whole, should look at tighter guidelines in regards to child free zones (bars, casino etc) as well as children's curfew hours, (1AM on this ship). Far to often were there children running amok on the ship without parental supervision after the last show, which is not acceptable. Having said all that, it is a very big ship and everyone fitted in nicely and you weren't constantly dodging children or fighting for a seat. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
TL:DR: If you are reading these reviews purely as a first timer: Do it! It is a fantastic experience that is worth trying once. We will be doing this again. We just alighted from our first cruise, and I wanted to tell you all that are ... Read More
TL:DR: If you are reading these reviews purely as a first timer: Do it! It is a fantastic experience that is worth trying once. We will be doing this again. We just alighted from our first cruise, and I wanted to tell you all that are curious about it, that it is fantastic. It's not perfect, but nothing in this world is. Take it for what it is, and embrace the situation. Avoid the whining reviews from the entitled parents, self righteous regulars and cranky old people. Most of them in these reviews that are negative basically seem to be demanding or wanting more than they are willing to pay for. (ie:If you want a rolls royce service, buy the most expensive cabin and spend lots of money) Have an open mind, take it for what it is, and know that it is a business, and a customer experience. The crew are fantastic, the service is fantastic, the destinations are fantastic. If there was anything to fault or pick on, it was the other passengers. - Too many feral kids. I dont hate kids, but there was a lot of kids that were left to their own devices for whole days at a time, and the whole ship became a playground at the back end of the trip as they had become bored. The whole ship became a game of chasey.... But that's what you get when you cruise in December during the school holidays I guess. - Too many arrogant entitled passengers. Get used to being cut in front of in queues, other passengers ignoring signs and rules, and occasionally getting shafted or blocked by others - Aussies generally need to learn how to dress better and wear more than singlets and shorts. it's a cruise, not a beach. A simple request to wear nice clothes at dinner seemed to be a struggle. The cruise has formal nights and smart casual nights, and the idea that wearing pants and shoes seems to be beyond a lot of people. - Other 'cultures' need to use manners and be more considerate of others. Once again: the food, the staff, the service, the entertainment was simply amazing. As a very experienced world traveller, I thought the concept of cruising would be a shallow version of a holiday, but the transit to your destinations is much more enjoyable on a ship than it is on a jet aircraft. Royal Caribbean is a business, and from hearing from other passenger's experiences on other cruise lines, I will not be trying Carnival or P & O. A lot of regular cruisers say that RC are more professional. After hearing this from several people I am more than convinced that we chose the right Ship. Things cost money, and things dont come for free. The Ship is fantastic. It has more than enough features and options for all. The bars are great, the Restaurants and eateries are great. The Solarium is a great sanctuary away from the hordes. It may not be for everyone, but give it a go, most of you will not regret it. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We thought we give cruising a go with a 8 night Pacific Island tour and see what all the fuss is about when others tell you how much of a wonderful time they had cruising here and there. We are a family of 4 with 2 boys at the ages of 12 ... Read More
We thought we give cruising a go with a 8 night Pacific Island tour and see what all the fuss is about when others tell you how much of a wonderful time they had cruising here and there. We are a family of 4 with 2 boys at the ages of 12 and 9. Boarding was very easy and this surprised us. It did help that we had been quite early, but the whole process was a well oiled machine. Straight into the Windjammer for lunch and first impression was quite ok in the Restaurant. Loved the mashed potato. Once on board - and until you leave - be prepared for the hard sell. I felt quite harrassed by it all and they really try hard. Prices are high for most items. Give you and example - the laynards you really need for your sea card, 13AUD per piece! There is no denying that the ship is ageing and is starting to look like a rust bucket if you look closely, but the interior has been kept up ok. Could not wait to see the cabin which we where allowed to enter at 1PM. And from here onwards, it started to go downwards. We had an interior cabin 9277 and 9279. Both cabins are ok, adequate, if not a bit small. Furnishing is adequate and beds are comfortable enough, but furniture and furnishing is very aged. Both cabins are "virtual balcony" cabins, eg a large screen showing live screening of what is happening outside. Our screening was blurred and blotched, looked like a seagull had done its business on the lens. Despite asking the cabin attendant to see if they could clean it, it remained the same. So pretty useless. After the lunch, one had to have a meeting with the toilet. It appears that the previous passengers had a bit of the runs as the whole toilet was soiled up to the rim and not cleaned. This did not go down well with either my wife or myself. Upon inspection of the bathroom, it turned out it was cleaned very badly and soap residue was on taps, sink etc. It was rectified upon complaining, but, it set the mood a bit, as from here onwards, you start looking for faults... My time dining is really "time which suits them" dining as it has 2 sittings, take it or leave it, with difficulties getting in full stop. We opted for the Japanese restaurant on the first day (part of the dining pass - 25USD/person/dining) which gives you 35USD "dining credit" of the menu, priced by item. It is plenty for a good selection. Most memorable thing of the meal was the view of the Sydney harbour when leaving and the bottle of Moet Chandon, The restaurant is Japanese by name only and I honestly doubt they have seen a Japanese chef ever in there. The sashimi was cut in slabs which made it impossible to fit into your mouth in one go (and mine is considerably large), the rice of inferior quality and certainly not Japanese quality. My time dining, eg 5.15 or 7.30pm is a formal affair. Dressed up for the occasion and - oh my god! It is feeding the masses in tacky opulence with food of very average quality in such a noisy environment that it is hard to understand your own word. It appears that whenever entertaining is needed, the volume needs to be at such level that even deaf people can get it. Was quite happy to get out of there. The italian restaurant however, part of the dining package, is more quiet and we did enjoy dinner there. Again, food was absolutely nothing to rave about it and once again, the restaurant is italian by name only. The Gnocci was overworked and very starchy gooey and the meat - well, I am still figuring out how they managed to upset my meat so much. Although my wifes lamb chops where divine. Best thing of the dinner - Moet Chandon. Overall - food was PLENTIFUL, but of poor to average quality. That includes the paid restaurants also. Kids - there are kids clubs and the boys did sign up for them. The programs offered are minimalistic with little effort put in so it wore out very quickly for both our boys. But there are plenty of options with the rock climbing, pool, wave rider, arcade, ice scating, you name it. Caution - the arcade spending is hard to be controlled and kids could spend you a fortune. Shows - both the ice shows and theater shows have been divine and of good quality. Very enjoyable. Drinks packages: We did not buy any. Why would I want my kids to fill up with sugar so they become uncontrollable and hyper when there is already so much to do for kids. Equally, we drink very selected and little, so alcohol packages did not make sense. That did not stop the hard selling. The coffee - why pay for coffee made by people who clearly are not barrista trained and get awful coffee for almost 6AUD while you can get awful coffee for free at the dining rooms? We bought one and never again. Water is readily available at meals, but filling stations for your bottles have all but disappeared! We ended up filling our water bottles in the gym. Supposedly filling water bottles in the dining rooms is a health hazard (for corporate profits at least). Staff - here, I have a problem. Each member, when one asks for something, is friendly and helpful. But, they are a dreary looking bunch who clearly did not want to be there, but had to. Does not make for a great mood. At the sports venues like waverider and climbing walls - it went downright bad. There was only one staff who enjoyed working in the environment while all the others made it quite clear that they could not give a sh..! It would appear that this may be our first and last cruise. It is hard to get a quite place, food is average, staff is average. I guess it depends what you expect, and for us, it did not work at all. Read Less
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