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92 Royal Caribbean Transpacific Cruise Reviews

I was really surprised at how easy embarkation was, after having stood in long lines with other cruise lines, this was really easy if you had done the electronic "pre-check in". Great idea RCCL, keep it up. The cruise itself ... Read More
I was really surprised at how easy embarkation was, after having stood in long lines with other cruise lines, this was really easy if you had done the electronic "pre-check in". Great idea RCCL, keep it up. The cruise itself was good, but as it was a relocation cruise, there were a lot of sea days. I have done such a cruise before (with a different cruise line), so I knew that it was very different from the type of cruise where you stopped every day, or almost every day. BUT the activities did get a little repetitive. There is only so much trivia/card games/dancing you can do. A little more variety would have been great. Even something as simple as more movies available on the big screen, not necessarily just for kids either. The lines for the dodgem cars were very long, but it was fun anyway. I didn't brave the roller skating, not being confident enough to do it on a moving ship! The food was great, although the Windjammer did get a bit repetitive. Perhaps varying the food by having theme days (ie:, Italian, Mexican etc...) instead of having the same two or three things on rotation all the time would have been good. I can't praise the executive chef highly enough though, having a coeliac hubby can often mean sitting opposite a grumpy face as there isn't enough variety, but the Coeliac One was usually satisfied. The main dining rooms were of course lovely, although we didn't try any of the specialty restaurants. The shopping on board was just as expected, same old same old kept getting trotted out, and after seeing the same things "for sale" for about the fourth time, I was constantly surprised at how many people were showing interest, although that may have been due to the boredom some people were feeling after the fifth sea day in a row. My cabin (10316) was excellent and kept clean (how I would love a stateroom attendant at home). The internet was expensive and often slow, so don't buy it unless you really need it. Some of the shows were a bit "meh" but some were great. As an Australian, I really enjoyed the INXS tribute, the band was very energetic and got the room pumping. Lucky things got to stay on the ship for the next cruise too, so even more people would have had a great time! Now, here comes my BIG gripe. Disembarkation was a disaster. Every other line I have been on (including a previous experience with RCCL) you are given a questionnaire with a choice of times you would like to leave, and preference is given to people who have to catch planes after getting off the ship. Not this time, oh no. We were TOLD when we would be getting off the ship, unless we wanted to walk off when the ship docked. So that's what we decided to do. Unfortunately, so did about 3,000 other people, luggage included. Deck 5 was a nightmare, people and bags everywhere. Had there been an emergency at that time, it would have been disastrous. To RCCL, YES I know there was a delay getting clearance, but that only made the problem worse, there wouldn't have been a problem with better management. There was no facility for people catching flights to be getting priority. When we finally got off, we found ourselves on the train platform (obviously there weren't enough cabs in Sydney to cope with the instant demand) with people who were just catching the train home. Getting off then, or a few minutes later, would not have mattered to them, but to us, it meant missing our flight. We were not the only ones, Mascot airport was inundated with frantic people that day. Friends of ours couldn't get another flight until after 8pm. Of course, these flight changes cost money, and when RCCL was asked for assistance as they had caused the problem, nothing was forthcoming, not even the offer of a stateroom credit on a forthcoming cruise. Well, as much as I enjoyed my holiday, I did not enjoy the stress afterwards, so for me, it will not be a Royal Caribbean ship next time. Hubby and I are already looking forward to our next cruise, but RCCL have put us off their brand by their mismanagement and misinformation. If you live near the port and don't have any time pressures to get home, give them a go. If you don't, I wouldn't risk it, even though it is a fun ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We’ve done many transatlantic and transpacific cruises, most of which offered many activities and good entertainment for the many sea days. Unfortunately, this 18-day transpacific cruise was sorely lacking in both entertainment and ... Read More
We’ve done many transatlantic and transpacific cruises, most of which offered many activities and good entertainment for the many sea days. Unfortunately, this 18-day transpacific cruise was sorely lacking in both entertainment and enrichments opportunities, and was a boring experience overall. This was made all the worse by inclement weather that forced us to spend a lot of time indoors. And the few entertainment events that were offered almost always conflicted with dining times. As for the ship itself, Radiance of the Seas is an older ship in great need of some basic refurbishment. The lounge chairs and theatre seating are badly worn (some with tears) and very uncomfortable. The deck floor of our balcony was all rust, and the balcony chairs extremely uncomfortable because of worn seat cushions. The ship’s cruise director was a complete amateur, curt and unfunny. He took great delight in telling us he was leaving on vacation after this cruise, and we were sorry he didn’t leave sooner. The two so-called “enrichment” speakers were equally amateurish and, no doubt, came at little cost to the cruise line. The good news: service overall and in all venues was excellent, and both the service and food in the MDR was very good. Unfortunately, the breakfast and lunch buffet were limited and mediocre at best, with many repeat offerings. Lastly, we were very disappointed at how slovenly many of the passengers were, and that the ship’s staff did not enforce their own dress codes. Men wore shorts and cutoff t-shirts at dinner in the main dining room even on evenings when “casual chic” was requested. When we complained, we were told that people interpret “casual” differently. We’ve had good experience with RCCL in general, but this sailing reflected a definite cut-back in overall quality and care. This sailing was not inexpensive, but definitely over-priced for what was provided and from a comfort standpoint, and will cause us to think twice about RCCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was meant to be an aniversary present for my husband. We expected to see some of Hawaii but the itinary was changed several times before the sailing. We sat in Oahu for a survey instead of cruising. They cancelled all our prebooked ... Read More
This was meant to be an aniversary present for my husband. We expected to see some of Hawaii but the itinary was changed several times before the sailing. We sat in Oahu for a survey instead of cruising. They cancelled all our prebooked shore excursions leaving us with a breif stop in Maui. If you wanted to shop great if not disapointing. It was just a really long boat trip from Hawaii to Vancouvre via Maui. Our time in Victoria was cut short due to the tide. We sat in Vancouvre overnight in port. Dissembarkation was a nightmare. Locating bags was like a really sick idea of a scavenger hunt. Close to 3 hours to get off, find your bag and wait in the longest line ever for a taxi. Of course the taxis were busy bringing people for embarkation so it was a mess. We were told when we complained that everyone received the same compensation. We received refunds for our shore excursions and refunds for 2 nights we spent in port instead of cruising. We received a credit to buy lunch because they couldnt one day. That certainly is not compensation its reimbursment! Royal Caribean do not care. They changed everything about our holiday, we did not get what we paid for or what we expected. If we had wanted to do a long boat ride from Hawaii to Vancouvre then we would have booked one. We didnt but thats what we got. Wouldnt travel with them again. The cruise was a comedy of errors and changes. Appauling customer service. MSC gave us a better cruising experience at a far better price. The activities onboard were sometimes hard to get onto and into. You certainly needed to be everywhere very early and not mind waiting in line at times. The artists were of a high standard. The food was nice in the restaurant but it did get a little boring after 10 Days as several meals were repeated. The buffet had a large range but again the choices got boring as they seemed to be the same each day. We dinned at Wonderland on one occasion and really enjoyed the quirky nature of the food. It was fun and a nice break from the main eating areas. The robot bar is fun the first time but the novelty soon wears off. Unfortunatley there were a large amount of people who had very small children in the bars even as late as midnight. We had the drinks package and found it was a good idea as the prices on board were expensive. There were multiple shopping events. Its such a shame that this cruise was spoilt by poor planning. We complained to our travel agent who passed our concerns onto Royal guest services who said that all passengers were given the same compensation. We were refunded the cost of shore excursions and 2 nights that we sat in port as well as the cost of lunch on a day they could not provide it. That certainly does not qualify as compensation. Perhaps they need a dictionary to understand the difference. At the end of the day they just did not care about our experience it was all about the money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My husband and I were on the recent reposition cruise from Australia to Honolulu. We usually love RC and are Diamond (now Diamond Plus) members. This ship is in a run down condition. One of the main elevators was not working over half ... Read More
My husband and I were on the recent reposition cruise from Australia to Honolulu. We usually love RC and are Diamond (now Diamond Plus) members. This ship is in a run down condition. One of the main elevators was not working over half the time causing a log jam at the elevators. In our cabin, the sink was cracked, and hot water was seldom available. Rust was prevalent almost everywhere. There was not enough room for the Diamond and up members. In order to find seating, one had to be at the longe at least an hour early. The food is getting worse and worse over the years. The same items were on the menu night after night. And to our dismay, they ran out of vanilla ice cream in the WindJammer. On the plus side, we seemed to have a new mattresses. Our neighbors, however had an old one and were very uncomfortable. Overall, we were very disappointed in a cruise we had been looking forward to. We will be trying other cruise lines in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
ok!! here are the pros cabin comfortable. food in dinning room good. staff in most bars great, very friendly, coffee shop guys fantastic. entertainment ok, some great acts, ( Freddy show ) some a bit ordinary. plenty of ... Read More
ok!! here are the pros cabin comfortable. food in dinning room good. staff in most bars great, very friendly, coffee shop guys fantastic. entertainment ok, some great acts, ( Freddy show ) some a bit ordinary. plenty of activities going on if you want to participate OK!! now the cons. the ships billing system is a nightmare, they add cost and credit cost all the time. very hard to understand. I spent severial days visiting guess services trying to understand. travelling with us a friend who is a finance manager and accountant was dumbfounded. so just be careful!!, an example I paid my bill second last night, then on my final statement, they had a charge of $100USD for pool towels. now we only used them 3 times and returned every time back too counter. so with another visit to guest services, they credited the towel without a murmur. i just wonder how many people just pay it??? dining room staff not that great, seem to be more interested in cleaning tables than serving the guess, we where always having to ask for drinks, if we could find our waiter. windjammers average, tend to a bit the same if I ever cruise again I will look at other companies. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our first cross ocean repositioning cruise. The opportunity to visit Sydney/New Zealand again, see French Polynesia for the 1st time and wind up in Honolulu was the attraction overcoming the twelve sea days. Had prepared for ... Read More
This was our first cross ocean repositioning cruise. The opportunity to visit Sydney/New Zealand again, see French Polynesia for the 1st time and wind up in Honolulu was the attraction overcoming the twelve sea days. Had prepared for stormy weather in New Zealand, but were surprised by the rainy, windy weather most of the way to Tahiti. Sea days from Bora Bora to Hawaii were sunny and warm allowing for sunbathing and deck walking. My sister and brother-in-law joined us on this cruise. Embarkation started out with a short walk from our hotel to the Overseas Passenger Terminal. The door alarms were having difficulties. Many loud sirens and announcements ensued to immediately vacate the building. These were ignored and check-in continued through the din. My four-plug power strip was taken away at the security check along with many others. Was surprised, as it had not been a problem for past cruises. Heard later that power fluctuations on board had caused a power strip to catch fire, resulting in the ban. No notice in advance from Royal Caribbean. The Radiance is older, but we felt that all the areas we visited were well maintained and quite clean. Our cabin was 1556 on Deck 10. For those researching in future years, there were three formal nights. Days 2, 8 & 16. Enjoyed the main dining room most nights. Our waiter and assistant waiter from Indonesia were excellent and very enjoyable. Head Waiter was quite nice and dropped by for a chat each night. Different menus were provided for each of the eighteen nights – no repeats! A number of standard offerings offered every night of course. Tahitian-themed dinner leaving Papeete was our favorite. Also enjoyed nights at Chops Grille, Giovanni’s, Samba and the Chef’s Table to break things up a bit. Entertainment in the main showroom was fine, but a little sparse with the long stretches between ports. Only two production shows during the cruise. Cruise Director Cuddy Cudworth was enthusiastic and worked hard to entertain. We really enjoyed the Sunny Duo – Ukrainian Violinist and Guitar player in the Schooner Bar along with the other music around the ship. To help get us through the stormy sea days, the night time entertainment did a number of matinee shows in the main showroom. Movies were also scheduled in the main showroom each afternoon. The little Cinema was swamped with customers most of the days. Overall service on board was very good to excellent. Kristina in the Schooner Bar took great care of the four of us. Would probably not do this cruise again, but had enough adventures and new experiences to make the one time memorable! Ports/Excursions Sydney – attended the Handa Opera West Side Story musical on the harbor. Great production and amazing singing/dancing in a great setting. Also visited the Sydney WildLife Zoo and had dinner at Aria. Picton – rainy day. Did the Queen Charlotte Sound cruise, visited the Vines in Blenheim and walked around Picton for a bit. Not much open on Easter Sunday. Wellington – nice day. Full day Lord of the Rings Tour was excellent. River Anduin, Isengard, Rivendell and "Get off the road" filming sights plus an excellent lunch. Tahiti – snorkeling tour, walking around downtown Papeete and sunset catamaran tour. Moorea – Motu Picnic Lunch included snorkeling with stingrays & sharks – very enjoyable. Bora Bora – booked Patrick’s tour with Maohi Nui. Incredible snorkeling outside the reef with lots of sharks and colorful fish. More great snorkeling inside the reef with stingrays and sharks. Amazing Polynesian lunch followed by a fire dance. Highly recommend this tour. Honolulu – did the Little Circle Island Tour. Good way to leave the ship a little later and bridge the gap to hotel check-in or flight departure. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Trans-Pacific cruise as ships relocated to US Northwest. Normal RCI quality, i.e. excellent food and quality staff. We we disappointed that Rita’s restaurant has been closed as we used to enjoy sitting out eating guacamole / chips and ... Read More
Trans-Pacific cruise as ships relocated to US Northwest. Normal RCI quality, i.e. excellent food and quality staff. We we disappointed that Rita’s restaurant has been closed as we used to enjoy sitting out eating guacamole / chips and sharing the grande margarita with friends (it would be nice to be able to get a pitcher of margaritas for sharing but bartender thought it was mitigate over-serving issues that have happened). The ports were only ok, generally a little on the boring side but guessing due to the last ship of the season. The ship was good shape although showing signs of external wear Horrible cabin location, it’s beneath the Windjammer and Izumi speciality restaurant. The room sounds like you’re in a bowling alley due to the carts in the restaurants above running over the stippled tile in the kitchen areas. It does subside around midnight until around 4:30 am, currently 4:21 am and the banging has started. Called several times and restaurant manager did state they would try to mitigate noise, unfortunately to no avail. Asked to be moved but was not accommodated although RCI did give coupon for small discount on future cruise. VOOM on this cruise was marginally above worthless. Using SpeedTest by Ookla, download speeds ranged from a high of 1.5 mbps down to a non-functional low but averaged at 0.55 mbps across the multiple occasions that I tested. Onboard Tech stated that it speeds is up to 4 mbps, subject to weather and sea conditions but even docked with clear skies the speeds were typically sub 1 mbps. Be warned, no refunds or recourse from RCI for poor VOOM service Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Travelled to Singapore from the UK stopped in there for four days very humid pool at hotel came in handy went on a few excursions bay of trees at night, trip to Clarke quay and up to the top of the Marnia bay sands what a view, then ... Read More
Travelled to Singapore from the UK stopped in there for four days very humid pool at hotel came in handy went on a few excursions bay of trees at night, trip to Clarke quay and up to the top of the Marnia bay sands what a view, then onto Australia to visit family five days had breakfast with the Koalas at the Wild life Centre in Darling Harbour which was brilliant, trip around the bay at Sydney, then full day at the Blue Mountains, Wow well worth the day of walking, outstanding views. Days flew by then it was hopping onto the Ovation of the Seas, weather good when leaving Sydney, very windy and overcast later and rained two of the port days, but Bora Bora did not disappoint, beautiful. Very overcast but warm the remaining days. The ship was outstanding the Two Seventy lounge at the back of the ship on deck 5 was our favourite spot also Quinttin Holis talk about the Hawian Islands and it history was enjoyed by all, the shows.in the Theatre were stunning, we were entertained every night The staff were very pleasant the Cruise director and the Entertainment Director was funny we nicknamed Chris and Chris the double act. We ate up at the windjammer more as you could pick better, we also eat in two seventy, pick your own salads great. All this said, I felt that there could of been more Entertainment in the daytime especially when sea days were wet and windy. Arrived at Honolulu for a two day stay, got off on the second day, stayed at the Imperial Hotel on Waikiki beach for 4 nights, after this our stay was over, we then flew to NYC for 3 days, arrived back home in England to cold weather, arrr well. Planning our next Adventure. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I choose this cruise for Sydney and Polynesians Island. First I must tell you I am Celebrity guy. This is my second RC experience after the Harmony last January, I will maybe go back with RC but only on a very good deal. The quality of ... Read More
I choose this cruise for Sydney and Polynesians Island. First I must tell you I am Celebrity guy. This is my second RC experience after the Harmony last January, I will maybe go back with RC but only on a very good deal. The quality of food is not at the level I expected. We got my time dining as usual, and after 2 diners , we asked to be changed for fix time dining at 8 hrs, the 2 my time dining rooms are not nice and jam packed, service and food are bad, although the food selection is the same at the 2 fix time dining rooms. the dining rooms are much nicer, almost empty, service and food are much better, even that the latest are not at the level of beauty of other ships, try not to skip the formal night because we got lobster at the second formal night, same as the Harmony, and it was the best lobster we got for long time. We got the 5 specialty restaurants package, went twice at the Gril and Uzimi and one time at the Wonderland, we skipped the italien Jamies because of the comments and mostly of poor menu selection. The Grill and Uzimi are very good. Got the package the first day at the embarkation, they give 15% discount on top of the already discounted price. all in all it is about 40% cheaper than the equivalent on Celebrity but less impressive in quality then Celebrity. The smoking area is around the main pool left side in a kind of not vented area,,, very bad. The buffet is the same as the Harmony, but a bit better quality but below Celebrity, Holland or Princess. The pizza is good, the tacos are not and same for the hamburger and shame... no grill to have fresh grilled hamburger, they are made 30 pieces or so in advance and stacked them somewhere at the buffet,, very bad. The french fried are good but a way less than HAL Koningsdam witch they have the best of the best. The regular coffee is good but all juices are awful, way to sweet. The buffet area is to small, we have been asked few times to hurry up and leave, not as much as on the Harmony though, there it was every day on Harmony they called up to move and vacate the place. Another thing that I dont like about the buffet, it is open only for some period of time, out of those time the doors are close, total area is inaccessible including the open area at the back of the boat attached to the buffet, instead of closing the food area only and leave all the tables, chairs and the open back of the boat available for a coffee pastry etc, they decide that every thing should be close, very bad. The gym area is good, in location and quality of equipment, I do treadmill twice a day and 5-6 times in my morning session I had to wait up to 15 minutes to get a machine, not enough treadmill that is for sure. On 16 days transpacific we had only 4 stops, 3 in french Polynesia and 1 at Maui. Because of the RCL company lack of planing, and because the Ovation havent sailed yet in USA water, They had to skip Maui and go directly to Honolulu for the last 2 days of the cruise in order to have the boat inspected by the coast guard, inadmissible, they should have known that before the planing of the port of call, they company did compensation us by giving us back 1/16 of the cruise price in OBC, good for them. The solarium no kid area is very nice with nice pools and nice double bed lounge chairs, but you need to wake up no later than 0630hrs to get one. This transpacific was against 30knd wind the first 8 days until Papetee, that mean in addition of the 20 knds boat speed, we got 50knd (60 mph) of wind the whole time, I couldnt enjoy my balcony very much, and the balcony separator were making a lot of noise by vibrating I return in November on the Celebrity Reflection for another trans Atlantic from Barcelona but this time with the wind in our back, that makes a great great difference on the comfort, boat noise and no boat big vibration like we were experiencing non stop the first 8 days on this transPacific. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Ovation is a spectacular ship with friendly accommodating crew who work extremely hard and diligently, except for one crew member who managed to spoil our cruise experience for us to the extent that we are now canceling 3 more booked ... Read More
Ovation is a spectacular ship with friendly accommodating crew who work extremely hard and diligently, except for one crew member who managed to spoil our cruise experience for us to the extent that we are now canceling 3 more booked cruises aboard the same ship even though it means we will lose a $1200 non refundable deposit. We are so upset by our experience that we have chosen to lose our money rather than cruise with Royal Caribbean again! The specialty dining at Wonderland and Jamies is a true delight but Chops Grille is now trading on their reputation from years ago, as for the dining room....I've had better food in a hospital. Entertainment was creative and visually pleasing on all levels, but did find queuing for shows hours ahead of time a tiring experience. Our cabin was well appointed and spacious, more storage than you could dream of, tea was provided but no coffee. Getting on and off was easy and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
There were 5 of us and the cruise was to celebrate a 70 birthday .We are all experienced cruisers whilst every thing was very clean and the food was ok ,the ship has no soul we could have been in a large department store with a pool on the ... Read More
There were 5 of us and the cruise was to celebrate a 70 birthday .We are all experienced cruisers whilst every thing was very clean and the food was ok ,the ship has no soul we could have been in a large department store with a pool on the roof ,cruise ships have lots of areas to sit listen to soft music catch up with friends for a coffee sit quietly to read the Atrium is the hart of the ship where you gather ,catch up ,listen to the piano whilst have a coffee on this ship there was virtually no where to sit. on level 4 from one end to the other virtually no seating any where ,this ship had no tables ,every cruise i have been on you could go to the pool deck "14 on ovation," and sit at tables with chairs play cards eat your meals whatever , what do you find on ovation hundreds of lounges every where go up more lounges ,50% unused ,want a table don't have any ,every thing on this ship was geared to seperate you from your money you felt like it was a definite strategy to gently keep moving you in to some where to spend .this was our 3rd RCI cruise . Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
To meet friends from New Zealand to Vancouver. It was spring break in Australia so you can guess how many children were traveling free on board. It was a zoo. II was assigned to cabin 8292 which is located where the decks are aligned to ... Read More
To meet friends from New Zealand to Vancouver. It was spring break in Australia so you can guess how many children were traveling free on board. It was a zoo. II was assigned to cabin 8292 which is located where the decks are aligned to the exterior outline of lower decks of the ship. Embarkation went smoothly, but we were parked in a lobby area near the Schooner's lounge until the rooms were ready. The room seemed small as the queen bed was at the balcony door. Only about 6 inches from the closed curtain. All night long the wind howled. This noise was generated by the wind flowing past the door that separated the 2 balconies. Not the balcony door of the cabin. I reported this problem to guest services at least on 3 different occasions and finally a maintenance man was sent to my room to inspect the problem. He wanted to have the seal on the cabin-balcony door cleaned. Once I demonstrated that the problem was outside the room and there was no way to fix the problem, He agreed. The balcony was unusable due this noise. We were unable to use it for the entire trip except when at port. Royal Caribbean wanted to give use a $588 credit for a future cruise which is not going to happen. They gave me $150 on-board credit. Dining: I only ate 2 lunches in the dining rooms. All other meals were taken in the Windjammer buffet. I found the meals in the buffet much better quality and variety. The service in the buffet was just okay. Other cruise line buffets have been much better. Embarkation: Was excellent. My wife needed a wheel chair and the terminal got us on board without any hang ups. Enrichment Activities: The 2 speakers were very good. They knew their topics and were interesting and entertaining. Entertainment: Not great. Only saw 2 productions shows and the Pixels twice. Fitness and Recreation: A lot of activities available, but not utilized. On Board Experience: On board with 5000 other passengers not very good. Always a crowd. Public Rooms: Always crowded! Service: The stewards, wait staff in dining rooms were good. The guest service staff were knowledgeable, polite and helpful. Shore Excursions: Took a bus tour of Moorea which was interesting, reasonably price and worth the visit. Value for Money: I felt that my cabin says it all. Charged for a balcony room which was not much better that an inside cabin due to the wind noise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this repositioning cruise from Sydney to Honolulu primarily because we got a good deal and the fact that the itinerary included three stops in Tahiti and a stop at Lahaina, Maui. Unfortunately, after booking, we were advised by ... Read More
We chose this repositioning cruise from Sydney to Honolulu primarily because we got a good deal and the fact that the itinerary included three stops in Tahiti and a stop at Lahaina, Maui. Unfortunately, after booking, we were advised by Royal Caribbean that they would have to cancel the Maui stop. Since this was to be Ovation of the Seas' first visit to the US, the US authorities apparently needed to carry out thorough inspections of the ship and it would, therefore, have to remain in port for an extra couple of days. So we would have to skip Maui and arrive in Honolulu one day early, although we could remain on the ship an extra day in the port. Consequently Royal Caribbean promised to refund passengers the equivalent of one day's fare to their onboard accounts, which we thought was fair and reasonable. So while we were a bit disappointed to miss out on Maui, we appreciated the credit in our onboard account and the extra day in Honolulu. Anyway, after that long-winded introduction, I have to say that this was a pretty good cruise! Leaving Sydney Harbour after dark was quite memorable. We also enjoyed the three stops in Tahiti, particularly Bora Bora. The weather was kind of damp in Papeete and Morea, but we were especially lucky with the weather in Bora Bora, which is a stunning place. It's definitely somewhere I would like to return to. My wife particularly enjoyed shopping for Tahitian pearls in Vaitape, the main town in Bora Bora! The ship itself is huge, modern and well appointed, and being less than three years old is still in very good condition. I had thought that having more than 4,000 fellow passengers might result in the ship being too crowded, but we didn't find it to be a real problem. For example, while the Windjammer Marketplace (the main buffet on Deck 14) got very busy at times, we never had a problem finding a table. Also, due to the size of the ship, there was not too much motion most of the time. We did find the food in the main restaurant to be a bit disappointing the first few nights. However, we then started asking our waiters for recommendations on which dishes to choose and after that enjoyed almost every meal. We ate in the main restaurant most evenings and had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Marketplace where we found the food quite acceptable. Overall, the food on the cruise was, in our view, fairly good but not as good as we have experienced on some prior cruises. Our balcony cabin was great. No problems there at all. Also, the level of service provided by the crew and their friendliness throughout the ship was almost always exceptional. We went to a few of the evening shows in the Royal Theatre and were not disappointed although the sightlines from the upper audience levels were a bit restricted. Embarkation in Sydney and disembarkation in Honolulu both went smoothly. We found the wifi to be very good. We pre-purchased a "surf and stream" package for one device, which worked out quite well as we were able to switch between our three devices (two smartphones and a laptop) as required. The cost of pre-purchasing the package, while not cheap, turned out to be considerably less than if we had bought it on the ship. So, overall a memorable cruise on a nice, modern ship, with the highlight for being the one-day stop at Bora Bora! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our 6th cruise (2nd with RCL) and our longest by 4 days (relocation) and most sea days. Embarkation ran smoothly and we were on this gorgeous, huge ship by 11.30 and in our cabin by 1pm. We met Amri, our cabin attendant, who ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise (2nd with RCL) and our longest by 4 days (relocation) and most sea days. Embarkation ran smoothly and we were on this gorgeous, huge ship by 11.30 and in our cabin by 1pm. We met Amri, our cabin attendant, who immediately answered my request for a robe and could not have been more helpful, best attendant we've ever had :) This ship is new (only 3 years old) and was kept very clean. It functions well, apart from the waste of space with all the high end shops (almost always empty with super bored staff) and the general store selling ship merchandise and souvenirs stuck in a tiny corner shop which was hot and impossible to navigate by more than one person at a time! Lifts ran smoothly and we never had to wait very lon considering the amount of passengers! Art work is dotted all over, rather than in a "gallery" as such and we saw some different and interesting pieces! Entertainment was standard ship-type, which we've seen before, nothing outstanding. We missed the INXS tribute band both times due to poor choice of venue (270 lounge) which was too small and consequently overcrowded leaving us unable get in!! Unsure why they didn't appear in the theatre which would have been a better venue. Enrichment talks were interesting and other activities well attended although they were not our cup of tea. Food was pretty good! We ate mostly at Windjammer as we'd heard not so good reports about the dining room/s and it suited us to eat only 2 meals a day when we felt like it - food at the WJ was excellent generally, tasty, hot and fresh. with plenty of choice from antipasto, to salads or hot meals, however the desserts were average and repetitive and strangely tasteless. We did the Tastes of Ovation specialty lunch which at the start seemed very disorganised, but ended on a high note with delicious food. Solarium food was also fresh and tasty, as were the salads/sandwiches on offer at Cafe 270. Coffee was surprisingly good too and pizza at Sorrento's was excellent! We used room service twice and both times the food was good and on time. Bar and general staff were great and friendly, some more engaging than others, and they work so hard! Overall, we loved this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was a cruise of a lifetime celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary on the magnificent Ovation of the Seas. We were lucky enough to stay at the Four Seasons Sydney and had a fabulous view of the arrival of this beautiful ship into ... Read More
This was a cruise of a lifetime celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary on the magnificent Ovation of the Seas. We were lucky enough to stay at the Four Seasons Sydney and had a fabulous view of the arrival of this beautiful ship into the OPT terminal right in front of us. We just love the Four Seasons and its proximity to Circular Quay and all the buzz and excitement of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. As this was a first cruise on a Quantum Class ship we were nervously excited ! Embarkation was a breeze and we were in our cabin 11596 just after 1pm where we found our luggage waiting for us in the corridor. Amazing as we only boarded at 12.30pm! After unpacking we set off to explore and find our allocated MDR table. It was not quite right for us but was easily changed to something that we were more comfortable with. Our table was in the Grande MDR and the service and food was outstanding every night. We also enjoyed the company of our neighbours immensely ! Our Head waiter was Shasshank and his assistant Agus and both were simply awesome! There is so much to do on the Ovation. There is the I Fly, North Star ,Flow Rider, walking tracks, dodgem cars ,bingo, trivia, dance lessons, The Morning Show etc etc. The evening shows were fantastic with the highlight for us the INXS tribute band. Also every night the pub Amber and Oak was literally pumping with Steven and all the other musos who came and jammed with him until late! We met some fantastic party people there and we were all well looked after by Nelson and his team! The whole crew provided excellent service every day1Our room was beautifully clean and cared for by Nilde! So spoilt! We did day excursions on Papeete Moorea and Bora Bora and all were amazing! Tendering was a breeze and we were well looked after by all our guides. Disembarkation in Honolulu was also so easy and Anthony of Direct Shuttles Honolulu had us at our accommodation by 8.00am. He also took us to the airport 5 days later at the crazy early time of 3.30am Overall our trip way exceeded our expectations! The weather was cool wet and windy as most days so when the sun did come out it made everything even better! The ship is stunning! The crew were awesome and our fellow pax were the best! Thanks everyone! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. After booking the 21 day cruise I discovered I was gluten intolerant and went on a gluten free diet. I thought I would be doomed to eat foods naturally gluten free and have to pass up so many ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. After booking the 21 day cruise I discovered I was gluten intolerant and went on a gluten free diet. I thought I would be doomed to eat foods naturally gluten free and have to pass up so many of the goodies. The first night, in the dining room, when I told my waiter about my diet needs, he brought the head waiter over to talk to me. From then on, they made sure I was enjoying as much as possible while not messing with my diet. Every evening Clinton would bring me the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus from the next day and have me place my orders. In addition to those things marked as gluten free, they would make changes to the food if possible to meet my needs. For example, replacing the pasta with GF pasta, replacing the toast with GF (finally eggs and toast for breakfast), etc. My order was always prepared in a special gluten free section of the kitchen, to prevent cross contamination. In addition to the dining room, the buffets were also accommodating. They had a gluten free section which always had GF breads and rolls, GF entrees, deserts etc. If I wanted the GF bread toasted, they used fresh gloves and used a dedicated toaster. They offered delicious GF pizza upon request. They had great GF cookies at the Cafe Promenade. I am sure they would be as accommodating and attentive to any special diet needs. Other than the food, the rest of the cruise was spectacular as well. We loved the ports, the ship is beautiful, and enjoyed many of the activities. My only complaint would be that the evening entertainment started too late for us, so we missed a lot of it. In past cruises we were able to listen and dance to music before dinner and go to the show shortly after dinner. We missed that. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Despite what I consider to be the most apt review title, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise albeit plagued by a very high numbers of people experiencing prolonged bouts of chesty coughing and sneezing with some also suffering ... Read More
Despite what I consider to be the most apt review title, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise albeit plagued by a very high numbers of people experiencing prolonged bouts of chesty coughing and sneezing with some also suffering bouts of the dreaded Noro Virus. Thankfully my wife avoided the Noro Virus but both regrettably fell foul to the coughing sickness and in my case twice, with only 3 days clear around Mid trip. There were many cruisers being taken off the ship by ambulance in the various ports of call, there was also a helicopter high line medivac on the 2nd day of the cruise. There were frequently large lines of people standing outside the medical centre. Apologies for the rather lengthy review but this was a 21 day cruise. Our vacation started with a BA from London to Seattle on Wednesday 4th October arriving in Seattle around 18:00, we took the light train from Seatac to Westlake for the amazing Seniors price of $1 each. Unfortunately as we had been previously advised, regular taxis were rather thin on the ground in Seattle and as we don't use Uber we set off to find the Edgewater hotel on foot. After a couple of wrong turns and taking advice from some very friendly and helpful locals we arrived safe and sound at the hotel some 20 minutes later. It was a bit of a hike dragging our luggage but perfectly doable for the relatively fit and healthy. I would however most probably chose a hotel closer to Westlake station if I were to return to Seattle in the future . (Or figure out how to use Uber) The Edgewater was a great hotel ideally located for sightseeing. However was a bit miffed by the concierge who quoted $45 for a hotel taxi to the cruise terminal, telling us it was about the same cost as a regular taxi. We took a regular taxi and only paid $15 including the tip. We arrived at the pier 91 around 11:00 and were on board the magnificent Explorer of the seas by 11:20 with the absolute minimum of fuss... well done to both the port authorities and RCL for this. After running the now normal gauntlet of crew trying to up sell almost everything imaginable, including the kitchen sink, we settled down on the Royal Promenade to await access to the staterooms. Despite the rather gloomy weather, first impressions of both the ship and staff were very good. Our stateroom which was ready at exactly 13:00hrs was spic and span and our stateroom attendant Ketut from Indonesia found and delivered our bags and also a couple of extra pillows as requested. Our wait staff Renato and Guilherme in the Sapphire deck 3 my time dinning were very friendly and efficient and our first dinner was both excellent and served in a very timely manner which we very much appreciated. We took the majority of dinners in the Sapphire dinning room, lunch was just a sandwich in the Promenade cafe and breakfast in the Windjammer. We gave up doing speciality dinning around 10 years back, finding them none to special after the 2nd or 3rd time and not worth the additional cost. The entertainment and activities organised throughout the cruise from were numerous and well organised by the entertainment staff. The very experienced cruise director (head of on board sales) was very good at his job. He did appear to be quite elusive at times during the day and only turned up at events as and when he had to. In a similar manner the master of the vessel was certainly not a high profile character. If were not for his somewhat repetitive noon announcements we would not have known he was on the ship. The Hotel Director on the other hand was the complete opposite, he was to be seen frequently on a daily basis around the ship carrying out his various duties and interacting with both crew and passengers on numerous occasions. The continued on board attempts to up sell various products and services was occasionally annoying but thankfully not overly so, with the exception of speciality dinning being touted within the main dinning room. Which I personally considerer to be a somewhat shoddy practice and rather insulting towards the food being served in the Sapphire dinning room. Thankfully the Park West art auctions were being held in the ships conference room. Well out of the way and not taking up valuable seating in any of the lounges, every 2nd day or so. (You may guess, I am not a great fan of Park West).....We heard frequently about RCL being an environmentally aware company and doing all within its power to save the planet. I have a great suggestion for RCL to assist in their most noble effort, stop delivering Park West paper copy junk mail to all Staterooms Fleet Wide.....that would certainly save quite a few trees each year.... The ice show as always was phenomenal, the 2nd show impromptu show was also very good. The majority of the headline acts were very good however the initial production show Wild Cool and Swinging by the resident singers and dancers, was rather disappointing with respect to both vocals and set design. The other production shows after this however, were very professional and most enjoyable. The exceedingly high number of Diamond and Diamond Plus cruisers on this very popular voyage resulted in the pre-dinner social drinks event being extended from the dedicated lounges to the Star lounge to accommodate the numbers. Despite this change, seating in the Star lounge was at a premium for the first hour or so. It took until around day 10 or so to realise just why we could never find and empty seat at 17:00hrs., there were people queuing up from before 16:00hrs to rush in and grab their favoured seats in the star lounge. Our first port of call Honolulu was a bit of a disappointment, the local tourist board have obviously no interest in cruise passengers. There was no warm welcome to Hawaii indeed there was no welcome either within or outside the extremely large and barren cruise terminal. No greeting of any sort, no local guides or tourist pamphlets, no maps etc. absolute zero, an opportunity lost by the Honolulu tourism industry. Lahiana our 2nd port of call and our first tender port was considerably better. There was a group of singers on the jetty giving us a real Hawaiian welcome. There was also plentiful local information to be had on the jetty and a considerably better atmosphere in comparison to the rather inhospitable Honolulu. There was about a 10-15 minute wait for our tender going ashore which has to be expected with so many people wishing to get ashore at the same time. However the line was well organised and controlled by ships staff. On the return trip we listened to the cruise directors advice and came back slightly before the high volume rush time, getting a tender with no delay on the jetty. The crossing the line ceremony (equator) was a hoot and very well attended and the certificates we received from King Neptune were a great souvenir as was the one for crossing the international date line westbound loosing a full day in the process, on the occasion Friday the 19th Suva Fiji was a bit rough looking around the port area but the people were very friendly polite and most helpful. We took a shore 4 hour excursion with Mona tours, visiting the Museum, a native village and some sightseeing along the way. Our guide was excellent, and the bus/group size was ideal with only around 20 passengers. (One of the 2 reasons we no longer use ship tours is the delays involved with large bus groups, the other being the extortionate price charged by RCL) Again regrettably Port Villa Vanatu was also somewhat rough around the edges, and not somewhere I would be in a hurry to return to. We took the $5 water taxi into town and had a good look around before returning to the ship. Mystery Island was just expected, a very small uninhabited Island with a grass airstrip running down the centre. We had a great time wondering round the island, sitting on the sand and dipping into the clear water occasionally to cool down. Just a shame the weather turned rather wet in the afternoon. Numea New Caledonia was a great port of call, the compulsory free shuttle bus takes you from the ship to the In town Cruise Terminal" from where there are many many options to go sightseeing. The cruise terminal has excellent free WiFi and reasonably priced souvenirs. Well done again to both RCL and the Australian immigration authorities for carrying out the immigration checks prior to our arrival in Sydney. This resulted in a very smooth departure from the ship. From the volume of moaning and groaning by some Americans and the repeated PA announcements regarding the Australian Visa requirements, not all US cruisers were aware of this requirement prior to the cruise. All in all a great transpacific cruise, the sea days were brilliant, the crew were great, the ports were OK, but not a cruise I would repeat Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We have been C&A members for many years and been always pleased with the services and treatment on board of RCI ships. We been grateful to the army of the hardworking members of the RCI team, many ymployees, cabin attendants, ... Read More
We have been C&A members for many years and been always pleased with the services and treatment on board of RCI ships. We been grateful to the army of the hardworking members of the RCI team, many ymployees, cabin attendants, restaurant workers, cooks, etc. for their efforts to make our vacation comfortable and enjoyable. We never complained. This time, however , we encountered something different. The detailed account of our recent misadventure is enclosed to this message. Thank you for reading In October 2018, to celebrate a wedding anniversary, we boarded Explorer of the Seas for a 21-day cruise journey from Seattle to Sydney. In addition to cruise sailing we also planned a detailed itinerary in Australia, including flight from Sydney to Cairns, scuba diving in Great Barrier Reef for six days, and return home to Portland Oregon. For two years prior to travel we were looking forward to once in a life time exotic adventure. My husband and I like to cruise and dance. We enjoyed RCI hospitality and have been diamond members of Crown and Anchor Society for several years. We are both seniors, but continue to work full time, therefore each vacation is very special. To travel to Australia these days, all U.S, citizens must have an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) approval. It is an electronic application that is filed on line and approved (or rejected) within seconds. Once approved, it is electronically attached to your passport and subsequently secure the entry to Australia. Prior to boarding the ship, we were provided with the web site address and instructions how to apply for the ETA. Day 1. Departure Our dreams were instantly ruined once we stepped aboard a magnificent cruise liner Explorer of the Seas. My Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) was approved; my husband’s one - rejected. No reasons or explanation provided. But the automatic response suggested that we should apply for a tourist visa. Day 2 In search of advice and assistance we met with the Explorer of the Seas’ manager of guest services. At the Crown and Anchor parties we often attend, the captain and officers always thank and praise the past guests for loyalty, and pledge support and assistance in ANY perilous situation and circumstances. Right? Wrong! Meet Mr. X, the manager of the guest services office of Explorer. On surface, he appeared groomed and polished. In substance, he was cold, unsympathetic, indifferent. He advised, that my husband’s ETA rejection is not the RCI problem, but rather decision of the Australian government; that we should disembark in the next port of call, preferably Honolulu (albeit a huge fine we were responsible for under the Jones Act). He frequently used the word “unfortunately, as the highest degree of sympathy and compassion. In addition to his arrogant demeanor he was amazingly misinformed. In fact, everything he said was either flat wrong or highly inaccurate. For instance, he advised that the ETA rejection was a decision of the Australian government ( wrong; it was not a government decision just yet, but rather a computer program with certain preset data); that we shouldn’t be allowed to board the ship without the visa on the first place ( wrong, the passengers were allowed to board and did apply later); he said he could not say if there were any other guests in the same or similar situation, as it was against the RCI policy (there was no such policy); he said, we could not disembark in New Caledonia because it would require Australian visa( wrong again, it is a French territory and visas for the US citizens are not required). His demeanor was unfriendly, if not arrogant. He did not offer any constructive advice or suggestions. At the contrary, he behaved as if we were common criminals or habitual visa violators. His verdict was simple and clear “get out of the ship”. The fact that we had purchased a twenty-one-day cruise fare and paid for the hotels and air in Australia meant nothing. If before the meeting with manager X we felt upset and worried, after it we were completely devastated. This cruise was becoming the worst nightmare. The same day ( which was second day of the cruise in the middle of the Pacific) we were provided with the rules of disembarkation that was carefully placed on our well-made bed. Perhaps, Mr. X wished my husband to disembark in the open ocean…. Day 3. Once we realized there was not much help or assistance coming from the guest manager’s office of RCI to rely on, we decided to take some actions and get to work. Within the next twelve hours, we learned all we could about the Australian visas and applied electronically for all of them: again, for ETA, but from different intermediary; for the transit visa (in hopes to at least be able to fly back from Sydney and save the costly airfare); and the Australian tourist visa (visa # 600). This one required 20-page application and numerous supporting documents that we too provided electronically. In the meantime, our cruising was business as usual: the RCI praised us, as diamond members, for loyalty. Each day we were invited to various celebrations, lunches, behind the scene tours, dinners, exclusive member shows, etc. Also, we were presented with elegant souvenirs as a token of appreciation for our loyalty. Day 4. We called the manager’s office to say that, first, we applied for Australian tourist visa; and second, in case the tourist visa is not approved, we would like to disembark in New Caledonia. Day 5. Manager's assistant, guest administration officer called back to advise that we would be allowed to disembark in Noumea ONLY if we provided the flight itinerary and hotel accommodation confirmation in New Caledonia. The deadline - tomorrow, in the port of Lahaina, the eighth day of the cruise. We were stunned. This information is required at the time of entry New Caledonia. Why manager X demanded it 12 (twelve) days in advance ? It remained a mystery. Regardless, we did not question or dispute his demands. What else you do, if you are in the middle of the ocean under complete power and control of an incompetent and arrogant RCI official? You just comply. Again, we spent hours on internet putting together a new itinerary, booked a new flight from New Caledonia back to the US, and cancelled all the previously booked (nonrefundable) flights in Australia and cancelled all existing hotel reservations in Sydney and Cairns. As was required by officer X, we provided the info to the guest services desk. Day 11 On the 11 th day of the cruise, and twelve days before Sydney, we discovered my husband’s visa was approved. The guest service manager’s assistant called and asked If perhaps we still wanted to disembark in Sydney….. No, we did not. By that time, we already cancelled all booking in Australia and made a new reservation in New Caledonia. On October 24th, we disembarked in New Caledonia. We wanted to leave the unfriendly ship ASAP. The manager X did not offer a single word of regret, sympathy, or apology. It was business as usual. Yes, we suffered financial losses due to improper conduct of the RCI manager’s indifference, and his insistence on booking a new itinerary ahead of time; and yes, we lost two full days of the cruise vacation. Most importantly, we lost faith in RCI and felt deep disappointment in treatment and attitude we had experienced on board of the Explorer. Mr. X is not good for the RCI guests and he is not good for the RCI reputation. He should be removed, or seriously retrained. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
First, let me say, I loved the itinerary for this cruise - 21 nights across the Pacific from Seattle to Sydney. Embarkation (and disembarkation) went very smoothly, though we were surprised there was no welcome aboard glass of champagne. ... Read More
First, let me say, I loved the itinerary for this cruise - 21 nights across the Pacific from Seattle to Sydney. Embarkation (and disembarkation) went very smoothly, though we were surprised there was no welcome aboard glass of champagne. This was a minor change from the previous cruises we'd taken on Celebrity (a sister company), but was just the beginning of a slew of disappointments in the quality of Royal Caribbean as it compared to Celebrity. My biggest complaint was the quality of food in the main dining room. Steaks were low quality and very tough. Selection was low quality and, most surprising, did not improve on formal nights. They were literally offering higher quality food selection at the buffet! The result of this however, was that the huge dining room was virtually empty while the buffet was packed with long lines and full tables. Secondly, was the unabashed up-sell! Even the dining room menu had choices that you needed to pay extra for! Apparently, if you wanted decent food, you had to pony up another $30-$50. Breakfast in the dining room had an option on the menu for the fresh-squeezed orange juice, but that would cost you an additional $5. We looked at menus from the signature menu and even they offered up-sell selections!! That's just plain tacky. Next was the sick-boat-syndrome. Every one of our party of 5 had upper respiratory illness throughout the entire 3 week period. It never abated until we got off the boat. Yet my husband and one of our friends, who suffered the most severe symptoms, had to pay exorbitant medical fees and wait for long lines to get treatment. The long lines and loud chorus of coughing throughout the boat was enough proof that this entire boat was suffering the same symptoms. The design of the ship itself left much to be desired. There was no outdoor dining section. In fact there was little emphasis on offering outside views. There were few window seats in the lower level lounges and even those just looked out on the lifeboats. There was one upper-level lounge that had a wide array of windows, but that looked out at the pool rather than out to sea. There were a lot of little lounge areas that looked into the atrium, but who wants to look at that when you're out at sea? The shows also didn't live up to the quality of those we had experienced on our Celebrity cruises with the only exception being the ice show. That was actually quite extraordinary! The one area they excelled at over Celebrity was the more active offerings for younger travelers - the FlowRider, climbing wall, miniature golf - and the larger children's activity center. Personally, I would never take another Royal Caribbean cruise. As an after thought - I forgot to include a review of the enrichment activities. On a cruise this long with SO MANY sea nights, they were unprepared for the number of people wanting to participate in the activities. There were literally fights between people trying to get into watercolor and jewelry classes and the lounges used for trivia were way too small to accommodate the crowds. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was a 21 night cruise from Seattle to Sydney Australia. Our previous cruises were all on Princess so this was our first experience with RC. The ship was in excellent condition and the staff was friendly with great emphasis on washing ... Read More
This was a 21 night cruise from Seattle to Sydney Australia. Our previous cruises were all on Princess so this was our first experience with RC. The ship was in excellent condition and the staff was friendly with great emphasis on washing your hands. However, the food was not good. In 21 days we ate at every outlet and struggled to find a "good" meal. Speciality dining was the only option that approached "average". We were in a Jr. Suite 9270. The suite was roomy with a really nice walk-in closet. Our steward was fabulous. The entertainment and production was very poor. We sailed on a 13 day Princess Cruise from Sydney a week after this cruise and the difference was significant. The quality of Princess food was significantly better and the quality of entertainment was light years ahead of RC. One last comment.......RC was reasonably priced for cruise but everywhere we turned RC had its hand out wanting more. We will not waste our money on another RC cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We spent one week in Waikiki before our cruise back to Australia. We had a great time. Boarding the ship was super easy. Never been easier in fact. I’m a celiac so I was worried about my food choices but the dining room team looked ... Read More
We spent one week in Waikiki before our cruise back to Australia. We had a great time. Boarding the ship was super easy. Never been easier in fact. I’m a celiac so I was worried about my food choices but the dining room team looked after me. I don’t think there were as many choices in the windjammers. Coffee has improved a little. Room attendant was amazing as always. I don’t think there was as many activities to do on board unless you were prepared to pay. The shore excursions were overall good though expensive. The interior of the ship was nice everything easy to find. The digital cruise compass near the lifts was good if you forgot the paper compass. I think there was too much paperwork left in our cabin most of it is very wasteful. The beds could do with new mattresses. At the end of the day I love cruising and it’s hard to find complaints. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We booked this cruise while we were sailing on Empress of the Seas to Cuba. We have sailed with this line several times before, with Celebrity and RCL ships. In every instance except for this one, the cruises have been excellent. NOT this ... Read More
We booked this cruise while we were sailing on Empress of the Seas to Cuba. We have sailed with this line several times before, with Celebrity and RCL ships. In every instance except for this one, the cruises have been excellent. NOT this one. Cruise was from Hawaii, around the islands, ending in Vancouver, BC. 10 days. We had been to the islands 35 years ago and wanted to get back to see the changes. Sailing dates were May 3-13, we flew in a day early to catch up on Honolulu sights which was a good thing, should have come in two days early or more. Pearl Harbor was outstanding(not a RCL feature) We were scheduled to board at 12:30, got to pier at 12:15, checked luggage and then lines started. Did not get to cabin until 2:30 at which point we were told that cabin was not ready and would not be ready until 3:30-4pm. That was the first clue. Finally got to cabin at 4, luggage arrived at 7pm. we had dinner at 5:30. Ship was full, 2500 guests, wait staff was stretched. We had a table for 4, but our waiters also were serving three other tables, 2 tables of 10 and one table of six. Guess who came in 4th. Seriously understaffed in Dining room. This was true for entire cruise. Maui was next day, Tenders in, very small harbor, we were fortunate, to get out early, later passengers were not able to get off the ship due to congestion in the harbor. It got worse later when all the tours that had gotten out came back at the same time. The line for the tenders was 90 minutes in the heat, and 500 yards long. Oh and it was formal night, we did not get back to ship until 5:15 pm, not a lot of time for changing and cleanup. Big Island was day 3, Tenders again, I had an accident getting into the tender-what a fiasco, nothing from RCL, Sitting in the tender bleeding from the knees, and the only comment from staff was to ask what was my cabin number. Went to infirmary to get it checked out, Medical staff was great-but as I walked out of infirmary, I was accosted by one of the security staff who proceeded to interrogate me and tried to criminalize the incident. By the way, he had a body camera on him and was filming the entire interrogation., When I complained to the desk, the response was "we apologise for the inconvenience" Next stop Kauaii, that was on a pier and the visit was excellent. However at Kauaii and also in Victoria, BC, I was now subject to "special attention" whenever I reboarded the ship. I wear an external brace on my knee, so I got "wanded and patted down" each time back to the ship. I did bring this up to RCL on two occasions, first on board the ship where there was no response. Second directly to RCL via the website, there has been no response to date. I am completely baffled by this indifferent or even vindictive response by the staff to a guest. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because of the destinations and to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. We had an amazing time! The ports of call were incredible. We love cruising and enjoyed 23 nights on this Transpacific cruise. The ship size is ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the destinations and to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. We had an amazing time! The ports of call were incredible. We love cruising and enjoyed 23 nights on this Transpacific cruise. The ship size is perfect....love the Promenade. Good food, excellent service, lots of activities and our Cruise Director Graham was great!! Embarkation and Disembarkation went smoothly...it helps to be Diamond Crown and Anchor members. RCCL has a very good system to get guests processed through as quickly as possible coming on board and exiting. Prices on board ship have increased...Johnny Rockets, Specialty Restaurants, Excursions, & all beverages. We bought a drink card for $71.00 for 10 Specialty drinks and that was a good purchase....but make sure you confirm the price of the beverage as it may cost more then the $12.00 cap per drink. We were in cabin 6390, Aft of the ship. This cabin has a noise issue that we were not aware of....a slamming door from deck 5 below that the crew uses to get to the galley to the dining room. Our cabin attendant and the Deck Supervisor worked with us to lower the noise level...still is an issue with this cabin. We would definitely go again ...but book a different cabin. We are loyal RCCL cruisers and have booked another cruise already!! Bon Voyage Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was the first time my wife and I have cruised with Royal after cruising 4 times with Celebrity. We were expecting it to be a bit less quality to Celebrity. But it wasn't at all. The ship is 18 years old. Royal have done a great ... Read More
This was the first time my wife and I have cruised with Royal after cruising 4 times with Celebrity. We were expecting it to be a bit less quality to Celebrity. But it wasn't at all. The ship is 18 years old. Royal have done a great job keeping the ship in good condition. There isn't really anything to complain about. All the bars are great, the specialist restaurants were amazing. The main dining room was good. The windjammer food was ok. Celebrity buffet was a lot better. One small issue we found was there isn't a lot of inside areas to sit. Alot of areas are closed off for the upper levels of the crown and anchor society. We completed the behind the scenes tour as we have done on the other cruises but found the tour with Royal was not worth the $89 per person they charge. We cruised from Sydney to Seattle for 23 nights and had a ball. We had the drink package as we were lucky to get it at a sale price months before we sailed. After about 3 days the bars were selling drink cards at 10 drinks for $70 dollars, so I really good deal as most wines are $9 or more and top shelf and cocktails at $14. Not sure if they do it all the time. We will be cruising with Royal again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who cruised solo. I used the Explorer of the Seas as a vehicle to leisurely get home after intense touring in Australia and New Zealand. This was supposed to be my second non-charter Royal Caribbean ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who cruised solo. I used the Explorer of the Seas as a vehicle to leisurely get home after intense touring in Australia and New Zealand. This was supposed to be my second non-charter Royal Caribbean sailing but my first one on the Radiance to go around New Zealand was cancelled (April 6 departure). Overall, this was my fourth Royal Caribbean cruise with the other 3 being full ship charters (Atlantis, Inception at Sea and Groove Cruise). I’m not new to cruising with 44 total completed cruises and the majority having been on Norwegian Cruise Line. Other cruise lines I’ve sailed are Celebrity, Princess and Carnival. Reader’s Digest: Usually I write my reviews on a day by day format as I’ve experienced the items. However, given the length of this cruise, I realize you might not want to read all of it so here is a brief summation and for details you can read it all. The ship is only as good as it’s crew. The stateroom steward, dining team and bartenders were what made this trip. The cruise staff, minus Veronica who joined in Fiji, were disengaged and the DJ was the worst I’ve ever experienced on a non-chartered cruise. I truly believed my Sapphire Dining team could’ve done a better job engaging guests as cruise staff then most of the actual cruise staff ever did. As a solo cruiser and a shy one, I had to come out of my shell by day 4 to meet people my age after the ship botched solos events for my age demographic. Guest entertainers were some of the worst I’d ever seen at sea and I’ve done repositioning cruises on NCL. If you’re a solo cruiser, I would steer clear of this ship and cruise line if you’re shy. As for LGBT friendliness, the scavenger hunt to find the meet up spot was excessive. I was told repeatedly to go to guest services to look for a bulletin board only to be told it was moved to the library and the library said the meet up was at the R Bar on Deck 5. No one paid attention to this until Day 4 and by then it was a haphazard meet up. With Celebrity being such a supporter of LGBT equality, it’s beyond me why their sister brand is so far backwards. DAY 1: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – EMBARKATION Guests were encouraged to show up at designated times to check in for the cruise to help spread out passenger flow. I adhered to the assigned check in time for 2PM for my deck but came earlier to drop off the checked bags. Tip: You can drop bags earlier outside at the pier and not go into the terminal. Take advantage and explore the Rocks neighborhood around or Circular Quay. At 2:30PM when I turned up to check in, there wasn’t a line or a wait or anything. A lot of the passengers had already embarked the ship I was told. I sped through check-in, cleared customs and was on my way onto the ship within 20 minutes of stepping foot into the terminal. It was very fast and efficient! BALCONY STATEROOM 7216: The balcony room can fit four people with a pull-out sofa bed which meant there was no coffee table inside the room. The bed was firm. I switched from side to side some nights to see if one side was better compared to the other. The side closest to the balcony seemed softer. The room itself was in good condition given the ship’s age. Dings, dents and scratches were covered over with paint or stickers. The light over the sofa was cracked but still functioned. The balcony was spacious and recessed into the superstructure. It provided more privacy then modern ones with the partitions. Being so far forward, the water drained inefficiently off the balcony when it rained causing it to pool for quite some time. The bathroom was the only portion of the room I found challenging. The water from the sink always ran hot, even all the way on cold. It changed once the ship reached the equator so perhaps the water temperature being taken in by the ship was hot to begin with and since the room was so far forward it was being heated by the ship more before it’s arrival to the room. The shower was equally scorching hot and would temperature fluctuate frequently during the 3PM to 6PM time frame. The water from the sink would come out annoyingly slow with no water pressure. Out of all the cruises I’ve taken it was also the first cruise where I’ve clogged a toilet. Just flush more frequently. At first I thought it was something I did but the toilet line for this section of the ship broke down twice during the voyage and the entire section wouldn’t flush. Perhaps this has more to do with the ship’s age then what I was doing. When heading to my room I spotted one of my cases in the corridor, I grabbed it and brought it to the room and unpacked it. The closet space for a solo cruiser and the amount of storage drawers was amazing. Plus, you could store your luggage under the bed to provide for additional space in the closet. Time had flown since boarding the ship and wondering around. The ship looked great and I needed to get my bearings for the 23 days. Once orientated, I returned to the room and it was immediately greeted by Christopher Hy, the stateroom attendant. He informed it was actually time to go to Muster Drill and welcomed me to the ship and asked if the room was setup ok. I told him it was perfect since I was cruising solo. At muster drill I actually sat on the floor of the Star Lounge stage. I was surprised our muster station didn’t have enough seating given the ship wasn’t sailing completely full and there were quite a few solos onboard. I watched the ship sail off from Sydney and the sunset just behind Sydney harbor. It was breathtakingly beautiful and the best place to watch sail away was at the aft on the top deck. I stayed up there until the ship had reached the ocean and commenced it’s turn North for New Caledonia. The crowd dwindled until it was me and a security guard watching. I went back to the room and the second case which didn’t have the cruise clothing in it had arrived. I took a shower and discovered the temperature issues. Afterward, I headed off to the Sapphire Dining Room and did a table share. I was sat with a number of people who were on the cancelled Radiance cruise and an older couple from Australia. Dinner service seemed remarkably slow but talking helped pass the time. The waiter apologized and said the first two nights of service are customarily like this as a lot of people go to the dining rooms then and then spread out or go to Windjammer. Dinner went late so I floated around the ship. Tonight’s featured entertainment was a Star Wars movie. Oddly enough there wasn’t a welcome aboard variety show for one show only like most cruise lines do on embarkation day. I decided to stay up until the solo and single traveler get together up at the Dizzy’s Nightclub on Deck 14. I went up and ordered a drink and sat at the bar. Met the bartender named Made and spoke to him for a bit. The bar was dead. No one had really turned up and when the 18-25s gathering was at 11PM, the music was in the 1950s. What young people did turn up left when they heard the music! What was this DJ thinking? DAY 2: SEA DAY The day started really late but this was not surprising as I was exhausted from extensive traveling leading up to it. I went up to the Windjammer Buffet at around 10AM and was surprised how packed it was. I couldn’t find a seat to sit at and it was a mad house. The people with interior rooms must have been chair hogging in the buffet. I also wasn’t keen on the people in the line with one pushing me out of the way to get bacon. I went up on deck for some sun, coming down to meet up for the solos luncheon. I figured it would be a great way to meet people. The problem was the solos gathering lunch was placed just after the ship’s first one hour forward which happened at Noon. All of the ship’s time changes were done at Noon instead of overnight. At first I didn’t like it at all as it shortened my day but towards the end of the cruise I got used to it. It did help the crew a lot by not shortening their sleep time to try and keep them healthy. Only about 10 people turned up for the solos gathering luncheon and all of them were older females. I turned around and left before being sat. I headed up to the Windjammer Buffet for a quick bite before heading back out to the sun. Tonight, was the first of four formal nights of the cruise. I decided to dine on my own and ordered a bottle of wine with dinner. I only had one glass and kept in on hand for other nights of the cruise. The guy who served it to me remembered me and always said hello in the Windjammer on the rest of the days of the cruise even though I never sat in his section again for dinner service. Impressive he remembered my name but sadly I can’t remember his. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: ROCK RHAPSODY I turned up for the late show at 10PM. The show featured the hits of Queen and largely featured the production cast singers versus the dancers. The singers were great! The girl from Australia could really belt out a song. The overall production aesthetics seemed to be lacking. It was more of a singing show then a full-scale cruise ship production. Afterwards it was time to head back to Dizzy’s nightclub and give this a try again. Upon arrival I discovered DJ Tony was again playing big band music and ballroom dancing was taking place. I checked my watch and it was 10:55PM. At 11PM there was supposed to be 18-25s meet up. I was hoping there was a younger crowd on the ship so I sat at the bar facing the entry way and again saw people turn up and leave. This DJ either didn’t know what was supposed to be going on or didn’t care. Tonight, I finally met someone who was around my age at the bar and was traveling alone as well. The music never really flipped from the 70s format. The DJ kept disappearing too which I thought was odd. DAY 3: SEA DAY I tried breakfast in the buffet again after rising late and decided after another rude encounter and lack of finding available seats that I would just order room service for the remainder of the voyage. I disliked having to regiment my morning rise times on holiday but this was sheer madness with the amount of chair hogging going on. I walked around the ship and got some sun while waiting for the World’s Sexiest Man competition to begin at 1PM. When I turned up for it, they were having a hard time getting participants to join in so it was postponed. I went to the gym and did a workout since I discovered the afternoons the gym was largely dead and the sun was too strong at that time making me burn even with SPF50 on! I gave the LGBT gathering a second shot tonight and turned up at the R Bar where the bulletin board in the library said it was supposed to be. There was no one around who looked like LGBT. Guest services was opposite the bar so I went over and asked them how come they don’t put the LGBT gathering in the daily yet there’s veterans ones and some friends of Carol activities going on. Friends of Bill W (alcoholics anonymous) also was made to seek out the bulletin board. I found the selection of what was and was not placed in the Compass odd. I spoke to a gentleman at guest services and he said he would let management know and composed an email right there to send to them. I explained my experience with other lines and he said someone would contact me about it. I never was until I put it in the mid-cruise survey again. Tonight, was casual attire in the dining room. I had requested a table for two as I had turned up rather early. I was placed in Domnic and Gede’s section and it was the first time I had dinner service where the meals, if more then one was ordered, were served one after each other instead of all at once. It was classy service and I was truly impressed. I informed both the head waiter and assistant waiter I was very impressed with their service that night. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: CRAIG DAHN, PIANIST At first this started off as almost being a piano recital with older piano favorites coming along. As the show progressed it moved more current and he played a mix of more current artist hits and you could hear the words in your head. His tribute to Lady Gaga was quite nice. In between songs he would talk about his past experiences in show business. Overall it was a pretty good show. I gave up on Dizzy’s as we had a port day tomorrow and went to bed. DAY 4: NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA COMMEMORATION: ANZAC DAY The Australians and New Zealanders asked repeatedly if there would be an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp) services on the day of observation. The Cruise Director did arrange a service to be done at sunrise. I decided to attend the ANZAC service but stayed up the back. The ship’s senior staff were all in attendance minus the Captain who was steering the ship towards Noumea (and it was in sight). The cruise staff were dressed and handing out fake poppies and programs to those in attendance and the ship’s galley and waitstaff were on the lower pool deck handing out coffee and ANZAC biscuits. The ship’s staff did a great job with the ceremony despite a technical glitch when playing the Australian national anthem. The attendees from Australia sang it on their own. It was a short service and a reef was laid in front of the pool bar. I thought it was a very nice touch by Royal Caribbean to honor the fallen. It was very well attended too. NOUMEA I went back to the room and had room service delivered and ate it on the balcony as we pulled into port. It was a much calmer breakfast experience today. I even got to experience a show from a local performance troupe who greeted the ship as well pulled alongside. The ship was docked at a working container port which meant we had to use a bus shuttle to get to the actual passenger terminal designed for smaller ships. I got off the ship early and caught one of the transfer busses. I didn’t book anything and a lot of the items the ship was selling for shore excursions were to beaches. The weather wasn’t conducive for the beach as it was raining. At the cruise terminal I found a lady who was selling a historical tour with a stop at the Melanesian Cultural Center and an island tour. The total cost was far less then anything the ship was offering and the tour provider accepted Australian currency and provided change in it as well. I had some time before the tour took off so I explored downtown Noumea a bit and did part of the walking tour they give out at the visitor’s center located in the same building. The independent excursion took off about on time and took us over to the Melanesian Cultural Center first. We spent about an hour there and were shown some exhibits and cultural history was explained as we navigated through two of the showing halls. It was also explained about the architecture of the building itself. I wish we could’ve spent more time here and if you go on your own and love culture, be sure to just take a taxi to this location. You could easily spend a better part of your day there. Afterward, we continued on an island tour going past the beaches, an old church and stopping at a view point lookout for photos. All in all given the weather, it wasn’t a bad day. When we returned to Noumea, I finished the walking tour before heading back to the ship. I turned up for dinner and requested Domnic and Gede’s section again as I was impressed by their service. I was informed his section was full but I could table share if I wanted to. I did so and was sat a four seater. I waited a good 20 minutes and no one was sat so Domnic came by and took my order. The meal was amazing. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: INVITATION TO DANCE For a 23 day cruise I was surprised the first of the three production shows so soon! I attended the first show which was at 8:30PM. This show was more high energy and featured more dance numbers compared to the first show. The singers and dancers were out in full force and the ballroom dancers performed as well. I loved this production show and the backgrounds were far more thought out and appealing compared to Rock Rhapsody. FEAUTRED ENTERTAINMENT: PERFECT COUPLE GAME SHOW Having caught up on my sleep, I decided to stay out a bit later tonight instead of going to bed early for Lifou. I turned up for this game show and they were looking for volunteers. Not a lot of people were in attendance but out of those who were, a lot of them wanted to be IN the game show, not watch. They had to dwindle it down first before the show began. It was entertaining to watch as the couples the audience selected were fun. Afterwards, I headed to bed as we were in port the next day. DAY 5: LIFOU, NEW CALEDONIA It wasn’t a great looking weather day again so I brought my rain gear and headed ashore. If you were not on an organized tour there was a church to the left and up a hill to explore and a road to the right which went into town. The road to town was a long road and at the end you were in for a rude awakening if you didn’t have local currency. I walked to the town and took some photos of the ship but the sky had turned really dark so I decided to start the journey back. This stop was my least favorite out of all of them. I didn’t think there was really anything much to see that you didn’t see the previous day for culture. I headed back to the ship for a late lunch and decided to go workout as the weather didn’t look good. I was happy I did as I went to workout the sky opened up and since it was a tender port, a lot of people were stuck on the barge (aka tender platform) getting soaked. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: MONIQUE MONTEZ, VOCALIST An amazingly talented vocalist brought the crowd to a standing ovation by the end with her style. She sang some old tunes and more current ones which showcased her vocal range. Along the way she told us stories and sang to a picture of her child on the display. Out of all the Australian guest entertainers, she was the best of the cruise! A note about the showtimes, tonight the showtimes were moved to 6:30PM and 8:30PM from the 8:30PM to 10PM show times. It would stay this way for the rest of the cruise largely. I’m not sure what triggered the change, but it left a hole for when you were waiting for the nightclub to get decent. FEATURED ENTERTAINTMENT: TROPICAL DECK PARTY This was supposed to be outside but Mother Nature rained it out and it was moved to Dizzy’s Nightclub. I turned up for a bit to see what was going on and met up with some new cruise friends at the bar. Finally on Day 5 it was easier to meet people and the ship was starting to come alive. What I couldn’t understand was why a deck party was scheduled on a night with a port call the next day. If you’re encouraging people to stay up later and generate alcohol revenue, this was NOT the way to do it. The party had the obligatory line dance songs and I stayed until just before midnight. The music never moved from the 70s the whole night. DAY 6: MYSTERY ISLAND RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: MODERN VILLAGE TOUR (ANEITYUM) The tour meet up time was 8:15AM and this was pre-booked online. The ship did offer hourly tours from 9AM onward but I was in the first tour. Upon arrival to the theater I was given a sticker and told to sit with the group. We were called rather promptly and taken to a tender boat to be transferred to Mystery Island. The tender operation seemed a bit rocky at this location and they were having issues with the ropes at first. We were then transferred to another boat that had pulled up on the beach and took us over to Aneityum next door for the village tour. Upon arrival we were greeted on the beach by two women who would guide us through the rest of the tour. We were brought in and a piece of what appeared to be seaweed bestowed upon each of us. What ear it hung from determined if you were single or married. We were moved through different demonstrations within the village including weaving of baskets, making of coconut water and splitting coconuts as well as a small native dish. Samples were given to guests on the tour. Given the sanitation standards around, I passed on sampling the food but did take photographs. Ancient history was discussed including the use of cannibalism among the different tribes and how ancient traditions seem barbaric compared to today’s standards. For a short 2 hour tour, this tour was more informative then I thought it was going to be. The ship was selling it for USD 94 but it was cheaper if you pre-purchased online. I would recommend it. I returned to the ship after the tour ended taking a tender boat back over. The weather looked great for a change so I wanted to give Mystery Island a go for the beach. I didn’t have anything else planned. I returned to the ship and went to the Windjammer. It didn’t open until 11:45A and I was early. This was a first for lunch service! After lunch I headed ashore immediately and was with a few other fellow cruisers and mostly crew on the tender. Guests were trying to get back to the ship for lunch and the tender queue was snaked down the pier and into the island. I was thankful I did it the opposite way. About 1 hour later, most of the back side of the beach was deserted! I had a nice small section to myself. I spent a good amount of time on the beach until about 3PM when most of the crew had returned to the ship. The place was literally a ghost town when I went back at 3:30PM! Tonight I dined in the Sapphire again and within Domnic and Gede’s section. I asked Ethel, the hostess, to be assigned to his section with a table and she said would see what she could do. I guess I had told too many cruisers how good the service was as his section was now full! She was able to accommodate me when someone gave up a table who switched to a later dining time and I would have that table for the remainder of the cruise. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: JONATHAN CLARK A comedian and impressionist from the UK, Jonathan Clark put on a decent show. No politicians were left unscathed no matter where you hailed from. He poked as much fun at Australian politicians as he did with America’s Trump. However, it was interesting the number of people who got up and walked out when he did his Trump jokes. Unless you were up on Australian politics, the other part of his show didn’t make much sense to you. He did try and do both countries since the demographics onboard were split among Australians and Americans. I thought his show was enjoyable and could understand the basics of what he was throwing out there for the Australian politics. His impression of Trump was hilarious. We had a sea day so I gave Dizzy’s nightclub another try. The Compass for the day was screwed up because in one place it said Dizzy’s was a chill out zone and in another place it said for the same time it was Rock N Roll Hour. Either way, upon arrival to Dizzy’s it was rock and roll mixed with ballroom and 70s music. Good grief with this nightclub. When the older clientele left after 11PM, we stayed stuck in the 70s as the same mix tape DJ Tony had been using was played and he disappeared AGAIN. Where does this man go? He’s there to play and take requests! A guest reported when he asked for something the DJ requested a tip. DAY 7: SEA DAY It was a leisurely day at sea and a one hour forward day. I spent the morning grabbing some sun and when the ship shifted one hour forward and the weather turned cloudy. I checked out the World’s Sexiest Man competition on the way to lunch. This time it ran and a person was crowned the winner. I figured out a hole in the fitness area stretch and seminar schedule and went to the gym in the afternoon. The sun is very strong in this area and I was burning too much. Bring SPF50 or higher! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: WILD, COOL and SWINGIN This was the second of three production shows on a 23-day cruise and it was day 7? This was the highest energy production of the ship, I guess save the best for last. This production also had the highest amount of backdrop usage and sets. I loved it! The singers and dancers took us on a journey through the USA with stops in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Las Vegas with different vibes in each. The costuming was the best for this show as well! Make sure you catch it. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: FRIENDLY FAMILY FEUD GAME SHOW There were a lot of families who wanted to participate so they rotated through the families for each round. No family won by clearing the board. Some of the survey results were impossible to guess such as what are the top pizza toppings? The answers were geared for the North American market versus the Australian market so that stumped the participants. Even Guido, the cruise staff, said who the heck picked those for answers! LOL It was Frank Sinatra hour in Dizzy’s and I was trying to stay awake. I walked the Promenade and sat up on the bow helipad staring at the starry night. I fell asleep briefly there and headed back to the room and called it a night. I figured the nightclub wouldn’t get out of the 50s all night anyway. DAY 8: SUVA, FIJI I was up early watching the arrival to Suva, Fiji’s capital. Our arrival in the channel was fun to watch as there were plenty of ship wrecks in the area so the channel had to be narrow. The port side of the ship had the best views of the islands mangroves and green landscaping. We docked starboard side to the city of Suva. RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: COUNTRYSIDE DRIVE and FIRE WALKING SPECTACULAR We were taken by an open air motorcoach meaning no AC. A lot of people were displeased with this type of accommodation but I was fine. I sat up the back and had a nice breeze the whole drive. Along the way the tour guide pointed out things and the locals waved as we passed. The natural beauty of the Fiji outside the city was nice scenery to view along the way. There wasn’t too many highlights between Suva and Pacific Harbor but the tour guide did her best. Upon arrival to the Arts Village in Pacific Harbor, we were greeted by a performer who was banging the drum. We were then informed we had time to go shopping and when the drum performed again we had to meet up and head to the performance platform. I didn’t realize shopping was included in this tour or that it would be about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The time came to go to the theater to watch the show. It was an outdoor venue with well kept landscaping including a tribal house, a sand pit to do dancing and demonstrations and hot stones from which the Fijian firewalkers performed. The show lasted some 45 minutes and showed the firewalkers at the start, cultural presentations and explanations and ceremonial dances. This show was amazing and made the whole tour worth it. I would recommend this tour. INDEPENDENT TOURING: WALKING TOUR After a quick lunch on the ship, I headed into town. The shopping mall was offering a free shuttle transfer and I took it not knowing just how close it was to the ship. When I got out I headed down the main roadway towards the Holiday Inn and found the Fijian Parliament Building and Prime Minister’s residence. Looping back into town I found Suva’s oldest church on the back street and then headed for the mall which between two malls in the city were the only things open. The ship had called on a Sunday when most everything was closed. I returned back to the ship late so I wanted to have a later dinner, I called up the dining team and informed them of the time change and they said it was ok. I watched the ship sail from the balcony which coincided with the same time as the early show which was 6:30PM. I went to dinner after the ship was away from land missing the second show. Tonight’s entertainment was a hypnotist named Tony Laffan. Some Australians said he was good and some Americans said he wasn’t. I can’t comment but that’s what was on for entertainment. Tonight, the Cruise Director made a special place for the ballroom dancers in Studio B ice skating rink. He had the show band play for 45-minute sets twice in there and covered the ice so the people could dance there. I was thankful because I was hopping the nightclub would actually start to play some nightclub music for a change! It was Motown hour in Dizzy’s and I only stayed for a short bit. DAY 9: LAUTOKA, FIJI From one port on the Fijian big island to another. We docked at the sugar port for Fiji but a short walking distance into Lautoka meant more shopping malls. These malls featured most of the same names they had in Suva but a lot more other stores were open too since it was Monday. The ship was offering a shuttle bus transfer for those who didn’t want in the unrelenting sun and heat for 9USD. RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: NAWAKA VILLAGE TOUR This tour requires no bare shoulders or exposed knees. You must cover up. I wore linen pants and a button-down shirt. We were transferred by air-conditioned motor coach (different day over day but same island in Fiji) to the Nawaka Village. Upon arrival to the village we were greeted by several women who handed out a necklace with a flower around it. A kava making demonstration was done by one of the local villagers under the direction of the tribal chief. The kava was made using Fijian bottled water but after using their ‘bathroom’ (more like out house) and it did not have a sink, I passed on the sampling which was done. Also, there two cups to hand out the samples which were dunked back into the kava to draw up samples for the next person. The cups were not washed. I could understand from this demonstration why the Cruise Director said there was always an uptick in noro cases after Fiji. Sanitation in Fiji is not up to Western standards. The tour continued on with a walking tour of the village. It wasn’t really a village but more of a walk around the corner to the tribal chief’s house with an explanation of the items were could see outside. We were not allowed to enter the house. I took a photo by the house and then we were brought to the village church was the sturdiest building they had. In the event of a weather emergency such as a cyclone a few weeks prior, the church would be used as a shelter. Our tour guide performed in the choir and someone asked her to sing us a hymn. She obliged. We later discovered she was also the story teller during the cultural performance show back in the same spot as the kava making demonstration. For being on the same island and seeing the show the previous day, some of the cultural performances were different. On the way back to the ship, the tour made a stop in Nadi where the airport is located. We were again dropped off a Tappoo shopping center. I was starting to wonder if the tour provider was getting some sort of kick back from this shopping mall. The tour the previous day dropped folks off at one prior to returning to the ship. I was able to find a Fiji shirt in my size and purchased it before we returned back to the ship along the same route we did on the way out (no commentary so we could snooze if we wanted to). Back at the pier, I went to the ship and had some lunch before venturing back off the ship in search for sunglasses. I had crushed my final pair and needed to buy new ones! Unfortunately, all the vendors setup by the pier didn’t sell them and it was simply too hot to walk into town in the mid-day sun. I returned to the ship after being hounded by taxi drivers every few feet. I watched the ship sail away before heading to dinner at 5:30PM in Domnic and Gede’s section. I also had a lovely chat with my neighbors in the forward most balcony room 7214. By the end of the trip they would become great friends! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: MOVIE NIGHT The Palace Theater was quiet for guest entertainers tonight and all the productions shows had run so the only option left was to run movies. Tonight’s featured movie was Victoria and Abdul starring Judi Dench. It was about Queen Victoria’s friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim who won her heart. This was based on a diary which was discovered. I love as a remarkable actress and so I did attend the 8PM viewing of it. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: RED and WHITE ATTIRE DECK PARTY Another theme party planned for the deck and another party where Mother Nature had other plans. The party was moved to Dizzy’s nightclub after the rain started shortly after the deck party began. Dizzy’s had a Michael Jackson hour going on until 11:30PM. The music flipped around and then landed on the 70s mix tape with the DJ leaving again. Tonight, since we had nothing but sea days ahead of us, a lot of people stayed up later including some newer, younger faces I hadn’t seen up there before. We were younger then 70s music so the music should’ve changed. The music didn’t change because DJ Tony was missing. When DJ Tony showed up, he had a coffee and sat on the stairs drinking it while we were at the bar watching him. No one wanted to dance because the music wasn’t applicable to our timeframe. The grumbling at the bar was enough and we had many, many more sea days to go. DAY 10: SEA DAY – May 1 – International Date Line A leisurely late start to the sea day meant some going to the gift shops and purchasing a new pair of sunglasses. This time the lady was kind enough to put them in a hard case so I wouldn’t break them. Afterward I walked around the ship as it wasn’t good weather to grab sun. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Captain’s Corner with Captain Kjetil The Captain, Chief Engineer, Hotel Director and Cruise Director were on hand to ask questions. Questions posed from the weirdest such as what was this random rock in the Pacific called to whether or not we would be doing scenic cruising past a volcano in Hawaii. At the time I didn’t know why the Hawaiian question kept coming up as I wasn’t watching the news (exploding volcano on the big island was current top story). Another guest asked about why the chairs on the Royal Promenade were so short because people were having a hard time getting into and out of them. I thought this was odd as I am tall and didn’t have any issues. Someone asked for details about what caused the Radiance cancellation and the Captain rightly ducked it, he didn’t know and it wasn’t applicable to our sailing. The Cruise Director would crack jokes between the questions to help pass the time. If you have a burning question for any of the four of them, be sure to turn up and sit on Deck 3 to ask. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: FAST FORWARD This was the final production show of the cruise and it was Day 10 of the cruise? What on Earth would we have for entertainment for the rest of the trip? Out of all the production shows, this was my least favorite. I don’t know if it was because I was already annoyed with the amount of 70s music I had been subjected to or if the show really wasn’t entertaining for me. The show centered around 70s and 80s music. It didn’t feel as high energy as the previous ones but it was still far more entertaining then some guest entertainers which lay ahead. Tonight after the 8:30PM show I returned to the room to discover a mid-cruise survey asking about all facets of the cruise along with the Day 11 Cruise Compass on the bed. Since it was Elvis Presley hour up in Dizzy’s, I figured I would take some time out and fill out the survey with detail. I outlined how the dining room service, food and stateroom stewards were doing excellent work but the entertainment was lacking. On the back it asked about details of what was working and what needed work. I went into detail about the DJ not gauging the audience, disappearing for a spans of time and then sitting down and not paying attention or playing music that would engage people to dance after 11-11:30PM. It asked if I wanted to be contacted about it and I said yes. I dropped it off on my way up to Dizzy’s nightclub and that night DJ Tony’s behavior was no different then any other night previously, he put his mix tape on and left. DAY 11: SEA DAY – May 1 – International Date Line As I was about to leave the room and head for the pool deck, the phone rang. I received a call from the Cruise Director Graham Seymour to discuss my mid-cruise survey. Graham listened attentively to what I had to say about how the solos gatherings and younger age group which has a presence on this ship have been ignored or botched since Day 1. We also discussed the DJs behavior. Graham admitted he wasn’t readily aware of what happens in the nightclub as it’s usually when he was asleep. He said he would have a chat with the DJ and work on having some solo gatherings outside of the lunch time hour. I thanked him for his call and follow up. When I mentioned the LGBT gathering, he said it was corporate policy and that more recently RCI had told the ships to move the bulletin board from Guest Services to the library. Given the special requests being put in the Compass by guests, I thought this rationale was still lacking but RCI corporate will be the final judge as I’m sure they’re reading this. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: COMEDIAN SIMON PALOMARES After a leisurely sea day and a nice dinner in Domnic and Gede’s section, it was off to the 8:30PM late show for the comedian. Simon was an Australian comedian and I guess the differences were in the jokes. I found his humor very dry and he didn’t have a lot of good punch lines. Even the Australians at the dinner table next to me said they didn’t think he was overly funny but said some of the jokes may have sailed over my head as again they were related to Australian politics. I did leave his show earlier then when it finished and walked around the ship. It was a nice night for star gazing on the forward helipad again. I did turn up for dancing through the Decades after the Rock N Roll hour. The nightclub wasn’t really changing from Rock N Roll and a mix tape had seemed to be on again. This time the DJ was around but he wasn’t actively mixing music. I gave up and called it a night. DAY 12: SEA DAY Today featured the equator crossing ceremony. After a leisurely morning of room service on the balcony, I went to the gym. There weren’t any classes going on so was able to stretch in the studio! I finished the workout just prior to the one hour forward making it 1PM and almost time for the ceremony. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Equator Crossing Ceremony The event started off with a flash mob (ironically scheduled in the Compass) doing a dance number. I knew a few of the people who were going to be in and turned up to support. Immediately after Graham started the ceremony presenting King Neptune and Queen Neptunia. It was actually a show where cruisers who had been naughty were brought up and turned into some form of pasta dish. Yes, I said pasta. Not going to say what specifically happened but the UK cadet officer who had gained a bit of fame was also christened with this pasta creation and kissed the fish. Next up it was the hotel director who knew what he was in for an wore shorts. The poor cadet didn’t have the luxury. Comparing this ceremony to the one NCL did on a repositioning cruise from San Diego to Chile, this one was far more entertaining. I liked it. Afterward you could take photos with the Neptune folks who were the dancers I believe and James, the cadet, also hung around for photos too. After this ended, the whole pool deck shifted to the buffet. The pushing and shoving to get food was a bit much. It’s not like anyone was going hungry. Headed back to the balcony for a bit. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: SPIRIT OF THE SEASONS ICE SKATING SHOW By far the best performance I’ve seen on the Explorer cruise so far. I give props to all the figure skaters who did this show. To do it on a moving ship, have several costume changes and a smaller than usual rink to get the speed up for jumps, the show was simply amazing! Even with a fall or two, the performers brushed it off like true professionals and kept going. The skating was equally matched to slow and fast songs. The costumes changed with the seasons and were the best costumes of all the productions on the ship. Bravo RCCL for having such an incredible show! Since the show was at 4PM, it made for a tight turn around for the early dinner with Domnic and Gede. Tonight, I had the Calamari appetizer at Domnics recommendation and it was quite good. I usually don’t eat seafood. I also had the lamb chops. The lamb chops were so bony and had very little meat on them so I got a side of strip steak. The desserts tonight didn’t really stand out. Coconut flan was on order so I went with the apple pie which is always available. I wasn’t crazy about it. It was rather tasteless and needed more cinnamon and nutmeg. The spices just weren’t there to give it flavoring. I followed it with a fruit plate. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: DUELING DIVAS featuring Rechell and Danielle Two of the production singers belted out tunes from divas like Celine Dion (my favorite), Barbara Streisand, Donna Summer and many more. They told us their personal stories between songs. It was a wonderful and powerful performance. After the show I bounced around the exterior promenade and bumped into the lecturer who was talking about the stars up on the helipad. I stuck around for a bit as he was pointing out constellations and telling stories about how far light traveled. It was fascinating and just the beauty of being able to go out to the front of the ship with mostly no light and just stare at the sky. This has been a hidden gem in the cruise. A lot of people haven’t been out there yet. I met up with some of my fellow cruisers at the R Bar and bought a drink. After chilling there for a bit, some went to bed and a few of us went to try Dizzys nightclub. It was 80s night. Upon arrival to the club, we saw all the senior staff in the corner table by the Diamond entrance. The captain and the folks seemed to be talking and just relaxing. They stayed until just about 11 when the format was supposed to flip. It sort of did and out came the mix tape by the DJ. It wasn’t until I went to the bathroom and walked by the DJ booth did the music suddenly flip to current. It appeared Graham did talk to him and likely showed him the security embark photo as well. The rest of the night was fun and those of us in the nightclub took turns dancing. With the more current music playing new people turned up who hadn’t been there the whole cruise. It was nice to meet new people and to dance with them! All in all it was the best sea day of the cruise so far. DAY 13: SEA DAY Another leisurely breakfast on the balcony. I noticed the Compass said chance of showers and in the distance there were clouds. I figured it was a good idea to go and get some sun for a bit. I was able to get two hours before it started raining just after noon time. The rain stayed around all afternoon and I hung out on the balcony reading. It was a low key day but there was plenty to do including a matinee movie in the theater and the first meeting of the guest chorus group. Assembly station B and C have their ice show today. I was thinking of doing standby but with the weather like this, I’m sure everyone will turn up for it unlike my assembly station yesterday. I turned up for dinner at Sapphire a bit past my usual time but my table was still available. Domnic and Gede held back the service to get me caught up with everyone else. I felt bad but two of the couples stayed behind with me for dessert at neighboring tables. Tonight’s menu had prime rib again. I opted for the tortillas and had a strip of prime rib. It was a good thing I did that because the tortillas were quite small. Be sure to order two of them. I had the carrot cake for dessert which was nice along with the nightly fruit plate. Unfortunately during dinner service a guest on the starboard side choked. Thankfully fellow guests helped by performing the Heimlich maneuver on her. The ship paged a code alpha but it was resolved by the time they had done so. I’m still hoping the injury in carpentry on Deck 1 the other day wasn’t severe. I’ve noticed a lot more people popping up with braces and crutches. The ship is moving but I’ve been in rougher seas. My room is all the way forward on Deck 7. If anything, the ships motion keeps putting me to sleep. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: PATRICK MCMAHON I turned up for his first show at 8:30PM. The show times keep moving around and this was the first show. It was packed. I’m not sure if it was because he was Australian and there’s a lot of Aussies on the ship or what. He came out and started with performing the same song with different impersonations several times over. Patrick was very animated and was running back and forth all over the stage. I wasn’t sure if he was just hyperactive, drunk or high. He was very animated and telling lots of stories. I thought he was a performance musician but he didn’t do much singing. I gave him a half hour as there wasn’t much else on. I left and walked the promenade deck. Later I bumped into some Aussie friends who told me it is customary for the storytelling in performances in Oz. Overall, he wasn’t my cup of tea. Tonight, cruise director Graham had arranged the first solos gathering at Schooners Bar on Deck 4. It was at 9:45P instead of at lunch. Guido, cruise staff, was assigned to the meet up. Four people turned up but no one really talked except me to someone I already met earlier in the voyage (not at a solos gathering). I appreciated the effort and told Guido that. It was my first time at Schooners Bar so it gave me something new to experience as well. The piano player there may have been a reason I didn’t go before. Yikes. She could get better with more alcohol perhaps like the dueling pianos on the NCL ships. DAY 14: SEA DAY I can’t believe I’ve been on this ship for two weeks. Feels like an eternity since I’ve seen land last. After leisurely room service on the balcony it was time to head up to the top deck for some sun. I stayed up there 2 hours and left at 11:45A to get to the buffet before the noon announcement from the Captain. It was one hour forward today. After lunch it was gym time. The gym was fairly quiet and Busi let me stay in the back to do my stretches during her Good Feet presentation. It was very nice of her to allow me to and she did a nice presentation for the folks who showed up. The ship was rocking a bit today according to some guests. With my room all the way forward it made for a fun time getting ready for dinner but I wasn’t sea sick. Two tables in the row didn’t show up tonight. I had the duck with a side of strip steak. The duck was very good and the steak was cooked to order. Dessert tonight repeated the sky high lemon meringue pie, cold soup and fruit plate. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: RAT PACK RELOADED A trio of singers performed music of the big band era with songs from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior. While the entertainment was outside my time period, the guys were actually quite entertaining between songs. They passed jokes but kept the show flowing. For a change they kept me engaged for the entire show and I stayed until the end. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: 70s Disco Dance Party The Royal Promenade came alive with the sounds of the 70s. The same mix tape we heard at the beginning of the cruise with 70s tunes in the nightclub was played by the DJ. Live vocals kicked off the actual party by cast members Danielle and Michael. They did an amazing job getting the energy up and then the cruise staff came out dressed as the village people and disco divas. They did some dance numbers and got the audience involved. It was a great night with a lot of energy on the promenade. The body heat in the venue made it a little stifling but it was still a great time. Tip: Wear shorts to the party and a light shirt. After the party ended I checked out Dizzys Nightclub. As expected the music stayed in the 70s until the crowd thinned towards 11:30. It began to flip to more current music by the end of the night. I left just before 2AM. DAY 15: SEA DAY It was a late start to the morning with room service on the balcony. Room service again told me they were out of bananas. I tried roaming the ship in search of them to no avail. I went upstairs for some sun before lunch and to catch the FlowRider safety demonstration. At 1 PM a group of new friends went up and tried it out for the first time. It was tricky given my height but the kind folks there gave a lot of direction. My execution wasn’t so good though. By the time I finished, I was able to pull myself up on the boogie board with my knees. Thanks to the crew working the FlowRider for the encouragement and patience! The rest of the afternoon until and including dinner was spent relaxing. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: JOHNNY BALANCE I was skeptical about staying up for the 8:30PM show as I wanted to be up early to see the ship into Honolulu. I went anyway and was surprised with how good he was. The opening set is a bit of juggling which itself is not so entertaining but when he moved to his magic tricks with slight of hand stuff, it was impressive. He also poked fun at some of the tricks recreating them in slow motion. His closing act of balancing items, especially the last one (not going to spoil it), is just downright awesome! Be sure to check out his show if he’s on your ship. Afterwards, the rest of the ship and I retired for what would be a long three days in Hawaii. DAY 16: HONOLULU, HAWAII The excitement of seeing land was too much for some on the ship and I was awakened by them at 5:30A. I did want to see the ship in from the balcony and a sunrise so it worked out. We were alongside about 6:30A. Immigration started at 8AM. For USA citizens, it was very easy. The queue stretched from the aft dining room to the forward elevators but moved along. They looked at the passport and then gave a sticker to show you’ve cleared customs. The international guests had a lengthier queue and theirs moved much slower. I did hear complaints about how long it took them to clear customs, especially those who waited. Tip: To clear customs first, be sure to have a tour booked and have proof on you when entering the dining room. RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: Explore and Taste Oahu’s North Shore Our tour meeting time was 8:30A but due to delays with international guests clearing immigration, we didn’t leave the theater until 9:15 or shortly thereafter. Our tour was split into two groups and put on smaller tour vehicles compared to motor coaches. Our first stop was in The Valley of the Temples and stopped at the Byodo Temple for about 30 minutes. It was enough time to get out and see the temple from outside and to go inside. You must remove your shoes to go inside. Seats are provided to put your shoes on and off. Next, we drove along the North Shore stopping at various beaches known for different things like surfing, snorkeling and marine life. We stopped at the China Man’s Hat for photos as well. Lunch was at a shrimp farm stand where we had the choice of various prawn dishes and a few non-seafood options. I tried the spicy prawns. I didn’t realize you had to peel them so I made a small mess when doing so. The lunch was great and dessert was offered of shaved ice or popsicles. The popsicle flavors ranged from odd to bizarre but I gave the Thai Tea popsicle a go and it was quite good. Next, we stopped at a beach the driver said would have some sea turtles at. There were plenty of turtles there! She said the usual stop wouldn’t have any so she brought us someplace else. Tip: Hawaiian law requires you remain at least 10 feet away from sea turtles or you can be fined. Respect marine life and use your zoom lens. The last stop on the tour was the Dole Plantation. Now this is where the tour went screwy. The driver guide told us we would be there for a span of time. She followed up this announcement by saying do not do the train and do not go into the maze. The maze was obvious because it would be too long if you got lost. Essentially this was a contrived shopping stop where you could also get Dole Whip, a pineapple soft serve. The problem was you had to wait in a horrendously long line as all the tour busses doing the north shore tours were in there together! The shop was a mad house. I went outside to get some photos of different pineapples before getting a photo taken in a display of them. There wasn’t much else to do unless you wanted to be in a pushing and shoving match inside the shop or queue for Dole Whip. Either more time should be given to this stop to enjoy the plantation and have a train ride or it should be cut from the tour completely. What I found odd was the tour guide said we started the tour late but she still got us back on time. If this were the case, what did she cut out to do that? The tour was good and the driver guide was great but the Dole Plantation needs to be looked at more. I would book it independently as E Noa Tours was along with us for most of the stops and much cheaper too. After a quick shower and change, it was off to the dining room. A lot of people did the the Germaine’s luau tonight so the Sapphire Dining Room was quiet. Domnic and Gede had the largest amount of guests show up in their section. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: HAWAIIAN FOLKLORIC SHOW For one show only at 7:15PM, RCCL brought aboard Halau Hula Olana School of Living Hula. It was a 45-minute presentation along with storytelling on the history of Hula, the stories behind each dance and a performance cast which included women of all ages from kids to older adults. All of them moved gracefully and smiled the entire time. It was a very good show and glad I stayed aboard to catch it. After the show ended I immediately went ashore taking an Uber to Waikiki beach for USD 13 from pier 2. Uber can pick up directly at the terminal, no need to stand out at the corner. I started my night out at the famous Dukes bar. It was crowded and getting a drink there to chill was next to impossible but persistence paid off. I went on Waikiki beach and dipped a toe in the water to say I had been. I next went off in search of LGBT bars. There were three I tried but for a Sunday night, only one was hopping. Bacchus bar served well in a Grey Goose bottle. I was not impressed and left. The best place on Sunday night was Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand. Located across from the zoo, it had an open-air concept and was playing music of today and some retro songs. The drinks were strong and reasonably priced. A lot of the ship turned up there as it spread that it was the most happening place on Waikiki Sunday night. I had to curtail my time there as I had an early tour to get up for. DAY 17: HONOLULU, HAWAII An early rise at 4:45AM led to the discovery the Cafe Promenade which was supposed to be open 24 hours did not have any breakfast foods to serve. The food was in the case but no one was around. I did find someone to give me a muffin but was told service didn’t begin until 6AM. I’m not sure how all the people getting up insanely early are finding food on this ship. INDEPENDENT EXCURSION: E NOA TOURS - PEARL HARBOR WITH ARIZONA MEMORIAL The scheduled pick up time was 5:45A and they were punctual. I got a phone call from the company as I was clearing ships gangway at the time saying they were there. After we stopped at the far end of Waikiki beach to pick up more people and headed off to Pearl Harbor Memorial. Upon arrival there was a bit of traffic trying to get into Pearl Harbor but the tour guide went to a different entrance. The tour allowed for 1.5 hours to explore the visitors center and exhibits before we needed to queue for the 8:30AM USS Arizona movie and boat ride. Unfortunately, the wharf had become separated over the weekend due to high winds and they were still assessing the safety of it so the ride only went alongside the Arizona, not onto the Memorial itself. After the boat ride was completed, it was off to the USS Missouri for a guided ship tour there. A brief 15-minute guided tour around the top deck by a worker showed us the spot where the cessation of war was signed by Japan and US forces. Afterward we had about 45 minutes to explore the Missouri. This didn’t and wasn’t enough time to check out all the exhibits there. On the way out of the Missouri was the USS Oklahoma Memorial. I ran out of time to properly look at this Memorial during the tour stop. We drove back to the bag check to retrieve the bags and it was off to Honolulu for a city tour. The last part of the tour was an overview of the sights in the downtown area along with the popular sights in Waikiki. The guests picked up after us were dropped off first since the tour concluded on Waikiki. The tour did run a little late due to traffic encountered but I was back on the ship by 2PM. INDEPENDENT SHORE EXCURSION: Magnum Helicopter The pickup time was at 3:30PM outside the terminal and the transfer arrived on time. Upon arrival at the helicopter building, I must’ve looked tense or like a ghost. The pilot introduced himself and asked if it was my first time flying. Once the safety briefing was completed, it was time for the flight. I was sat directly behind the pilot. The pilot always advised me of what was coming up and when he would swap sides so the folks on the other side could see whatever it was we looked at. It was a 50-minute exhilarating tour flying over the cruise ship, Waikiki to Diamond Crater and China Mans hat to Dole Plantation and the waterfalls in the north side of the island before looping back and heading over to Pearl Harbor and the US Naval base moth balled ships area. This tour was amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. You can book direct with them by visiting their website. They had me dropped back off the at the ship by 5:30PM. I showed up to the dining room about 1 hour later then usual. Ethel, the hostess, was able to seat me in Domnic and Gedes section. Dinner service was quick and tasty. However, during this dinner service the Captain came on and said our departure from Honolulu was delayed because of an azipod repair on the starboard side which was not completed on time. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Since the Radiance Cruise was cancelled due to an azipod issue, I truly wondered whether we would be stuck in Honolulu. The Captain said he expected us to be under way by midnight and we could go ashore. He came back on a few minutes later and said no one could go ashore as the security team had left the terminal building. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: COMEDIAN SCOTT HENRY A comedian always has to offend someone to make a joke. It’s the nature of the business. A lot of Australians didn’t care for his style of comedy and left. I was neither amused or unamused by his jokes. I did leave early simply because I couldn’t stay awake. One could say this entertainer mellowed me out to sleep. I wouldn’t recommend seeing him if something else is on. Unfortunately, the Explorer runs all the activities during the day so there’s nothing else to do when the entertainer at night stinks. I went to bed. When I awoke just after midnight for a brief bit, the ship was traversing the channel to leave Honolulu. Thank goodness! DAY 18: LAHAINA, HAWAII I woke up and we were still heading towards Maui. We had not arrived yet to the anchorage. It was just before 7AM. We arrived close to the time we were scheduled to and the crew wasted no time getting tenders in the water and going. I had a leisurely breakfast on the balcony and went ashore. The visitors center is to the right of the tender landing in Lahaina. At the visitors center they have lots of information on tours without the sales pitch you’ll encounter in town. They also have a map of Lahaina so you can do the walking tour. There’s over 40 points of interest and plaques around town. It takes a few hours to do it and you have plenty of places to rest along the way or shopping options too. Front street was the hub for shopping but if you rounded the corner and went up some side streets you’d find the same stuff cheaper. I returned to the ship on a tender around 2 to grab some lunch and shower for the luau. INDEPENDENT SHORE EXCURSION: OLD LAHAINA LUAU RCCL was offering a luau called Drums of the Pacific for this port call. According to Trip Advisor both luaus RCCL offered were not number one and each had comments about why. Old Lahaina luau was rated number one for luaus by Trip Advisor and AAA. The quality showed from the moment I arrived. They had live music going while we checked in. Once inside you were escorted to your seat and then were free to explore the different areas of the grounds. They had the fire pit, a net demonstration for how to catch fish, a children’s play area, an adult Polynesian game area and multiple photo areas with real back drops. The dancers performed an opening number before the food was ready. The buffet was very good. You could go up and get seconds if you wanted to. Pulled pork and steak were available. There was also an open bar with a selection of drinks to choose from on a menu. I tried the Chi Chi which was vodka, pineapple and coconut juice. I also tried the Blue Hawaii which had vodka, pineapple, sweet and sour and blue curaçao in it. Lastly, I tried the Green Passion featuring vodka, passion orange, sweet and sour, lime juice and Blue curaçao. Three desserts were presented afterward. After dinner was completed, the rest of the show commenced with five acts. The run time for the show was over 1 hour and the costuming, live musical entertainment and energy the dancers gave off was just astounding. This luau was a great way to finish my stay in Hawaii. I highly recommend it and it can be booked online or by calling. After the luau there was no rush to get back to the ship as the featured entertainment was a movie shown at two different times. I met up with some fellow cruisers and pub crawled our way back to the tender pier. Stops along the way included the Bad Monkey (good drinks, bad on service), a place where Fleetwood Mac drummer was playing (did not know and walked in and then was bounced out) and lastly the Down the Hatch bar and grill (fast service and good drinks). We waited until the second to last render to return to the ship. The group of us agreed to go check out the deck party which was running until midnight. Upon arrival there were only the nightclub regulars. The DJ was no where to be seen and his mix tape was on. Some party this must have been. I went up to see the ship off. Next time we would see land is disembarking in Seattle. I went up to Dizzys for a bit and then went to bed. DAY 19: SEA DAY It was the last day to get sun and the temperature had dropped a bit. I headed up to the usual Deck 13 forward spot and tried to get as close to the bulkhead as possible. The wind was relentless and the seas were kicked up. Eventually we sailed into some rain and that curtailed the last bit of sunning I would get this voyage. It was also one hour forward at noon and this pushed the time to 1. I was still exhausted from Hawaii so I took a nice afternoon nap. At dinner tonight the menu had repeated once more but Domnic made good suggestions on alternates to try. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: BOBBY ARVON Who? This entertainer (and I use the word loosely) was the guy who sang the opening number to the Happy Days tv series. Bobby let everyone know this was his claim to fame. His voice was horrid, either from performing too much or from smoking. Either way, it didn’t sound at all like how the opening to Happy Days sounded. Bobby proceeded to play Happy Days song over and over again with variations based on who would be singing it like Barry Manilow or Stevie Wonder. This entertainer was so boring I walked out. Unfortunately, since the entertainment on the ship is on early for all the elderly folks nothing was on besides karaoke. When I returned after looping the ship, Bobby then proceeded to murder a Boston hometown favorite Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. I walked out again and this time just sat at a bar waiting for Dizzys to open. Bobby was the worst entertainer of the cruise so far. The wait was grueling for Dizzys as it was Frank Sinatra hour there. This ship is stuck so far in the past it’s unreal. Most of the older folks are in bed after the first show is over! DAY 20: SEA DAY Another day at sea and another workout to be had. I didn’t do too much else. The weather outside was exceptionally cold and meant bundling up to walk the Promenade. It was a low key sea day. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: ELTON JOHN TRIBUTE - Craig Meyer A night over night improvement of entertainment. Craig didn’t sound exactly like Elton John but he did a passable job. When you know the lyrics, sometimes your mind can fill in the actual voice. He was very entertaining and good showmanship. I saw the second show and from what I heard he had a technical mishap in the first one. In the second show he shifted the piano when he tried to brace himself on it. He tried to shift it back but it didn’t move that much so the show went on. He is lucky he didn’t injure himself when that happened. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: ROCK BRITANNIA DANCE PARTY This show was for the Royal Promenade featuring the cruise staff. The 45 minute show featured song and dance numbers. It was good at getting the crowd involved. Children were engaged with blow up balloons so all ages were entertained. The after party was up in Dizzys. DAY 21: SEA DAY A leisurely day at sea included giving the ice skating a try. I would say it’s not something you should try out for the first time on a cruise ship which is moving in the ocean. I didn’t do too bad but also was hanging onto the side. You do sign a waiver for it so if you fall, that’s on you. There were three open skating sessions from 9-11AM, 1-3PM (as we did the one hour forward) and 4 to 6PM. I did the 4PM to 6PM session after stopping in to ask questions during the 1-3PM session. I found some of the nightclub folks at the Dodgeball game and they came along too for the 4PM session. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: HAYDEN SMITH FINALLY! Hayden Smith was a variety entertainer, both good with instruments and with his singing. He was the BEST guest entertainer of the whole cruise and his wife Alexa Jayne performed some moving theater anthems. I wished I had caught their earlier show as well. The second show which I attended went a bit longer as they didn’t have time constraints but they did an amazing job. Rightfully so they received a standing ovation and people wanted an encore. While they didn’t oblige it, this speaks volumes to just how good they were and how starved we as audience members were for a good show! I decided to give Dizzy’s a go. It was an ok night. The DJ stayed around and actually mixed songs for a change and played a wide variety. The Aussies love their Macarena and Nut Bush dance (Tina Turner)! It’s amazing how when the Macarena comes on it gets more people on the dance floor compared to the Cupid Shuffle. DAY 22: SEA DAY A leisurely day at sea meaning another workout as it was too cold outside to do too much. It started with 10 laps around the Promenade deck and up to the gym. With it being colder, there’s more seminars scheduled for the fitness center stretching area so it has become a challenge to find time to stretch. Busi was nice about it and would let me stay in the back corner but the other fitness trainer from Portugal didn’t care where you were in there, she wanted you out of there. Given how much they scheduled the room for and for what few people showed up, her reaction was overkill. The only reason why the ship was so quiet and the gym was dead was because there was a 1:15PM show of Karaoke Superstar Finals, Michael Jackson Dance Performance and the Guest Choir. It was something arranged on the sea days for guests to participate in and rehearse for. Today was the big day. I completely spaced on the event and by the time I knew what was going on, I had missed it completely. I did take advantage of the empty buffet to enjoy a meal without being coughed on or shoved so someone else could get food. I spent the afternoon relaxing and bundled up on the balcony before dinner. I was determined to get some usage out of it even though the air temperature was hovering around 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius. It was another night of great service in the Sapphire with service from Domnic and Gede. It was also our last formal night on the ship. I had two dinners tonight. The first was at the usual slot of 5:30PM which I had the Cesar Salad and the lobster tail. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: MAGIAIN LEO WARD I saw the early show at 6:30PM and there was a kid in the front row who kept on distracting the performer. Leo was not pleased with this and let the whole audience know but it didn’t seem to phase the parents too much because they kept the kid in the front row and the kid kept interrupting. I felt bad for the magician, illusionist because in one of his tricks the sword got stuck in the box and the trick was timed to an audio track. The track finished and the big reveal wasn’t anywhere near to being complete. Leo definitely seem frustrated with some parts of the performance but barring technical issues, he was not bad in comparison to some of the other dodgy performers we’d had this cruise. It was back to the dining room for an 8PM reservation with the nightclub crew. We decided it was best to have one night where we would meet up and just have a leisurely dinner talking. This time around I had the prime rib and asked for an end cut. They did have an end cut piece available and it was quite tasty cooked medium. Tonight the cooks presented themselves to the dining room and were happily cheered on as they came through. I was going to try and catch the Darkest Hour in the theater but that didn’t work out. I ended up back up at Dizzy’s nightclub for a bit. It was Dizzy’s or nothing else at this point so if you didn’t like the music, you just had to drink more until you did! DAY 23: SEA DAY It was Mother’s Day and after a late start, I had lunch with my neighbors with the final one hour ahead of the cruise. We dined in the Sapphire Restaurant and then I took them on the tour of parts of the ships they had not seen. They were part of the needlework group on the ship. All their sea days were spent with the group and tutors learning about things they were passionate about. It was nice they had such a group organized for the sea days but you had to book through the travel agency to take advantage of it. I showed them the Sports Deck with the mini-golf, basketball court and the Flow Rider. I also showed them how to get to the helipad which was open during the entire cruise – day and night! I was busy packing and missed the Royalpallooza Parade on the Royal Promenade just before the 5:30PM seating happened. From what I was told I didn’t miss much anyway. It was at a really odd time and it must’ve lasted only 15 minutes as when I went through the Promenade at my assigned time they were dismantling the props for it. The final night in the Sapphire Dining room meant saying goodbye to a great team of people including Ethel, the hostess who helped me out this cruise, Domnic and Gede. The assistant waiters including Gede did a song for us to send us off. I also thanked Carlos, the restaurant section supervisor for helping get messages back and forth to a couple whose table I took over much earlier in the cruise. They were really nice and it was nice to keep in touch. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: FAREWELL VARIETY SHOWTIME featuring Bruce Gold I went to the late show at 8:30PM. I gave it a go and lasted until the comedian came on. He said a few things and then I decided the sunset on the bow of the ship was far more important. I had only caught the last two days of sunsets, so I wanted to make it memorable and the cloud condition was favorable. I did pop back in and see the singers performing a number. However, I was then informed marine life was spotted and went back out to the deck. Sea lions were popping up and it also looked like a pod of dolphins as well. We were just turning into the channel between Canada and Washington State when this was going on. The sunset was amazing and it was a more fitting end to the cruise. After the sun had set it was time to go back and put the suitcases out. Unlike other cruise lines, RCCL wants the suitcases out by 10PM. I went around the ship and said goodbye to people I had met along the way and catching the 60 seconds or less game show. It didn’t seem all that exciting so I said goodbye and headed off to bed. I had an early rise for a shore excursion the next morning and a long day so I wanted to be well rested. DAY 24: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DISEMBARKATION RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: EMERALD CITY AND TILLICUM VILLAGE I had a red eye flight so I booked the longest tour option from RCCL and it was the Emerald City and Tillicum Village. It had some of the primary highlights in the tour like the Space Needle and the Pike’s Market to visit so I figured it was worth it. However, just after sailing from Hawaii I received a phone call saying the village portion was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the ship. When the revised itinerary showed up, it was a boxed lunch on the motor coach and not the fish bake at the village. I thought this was some sort of bait and switch by them but since the RCCL shore excursions were not overly impressive to begin with and I did not have the ability to independently book something this close in, I kept the tour. Not a lot of people did it. The tour bus was not full by any means. We were off the ship and onto the tour bus about 9AM. Two people had missed the tour bus but caught up with us in Pike’s Market. We started the tour by going to Botanical Gardens and seeing the locks we would later traverse. The next stop was the Seattle Space Needle which was under construction and then it was off to Pike’s Market. We were given until noon to get back on the bus and everyone did. The city tour consisted of going to visit spheres Amazon had built. It seemed more like a tour about the big corporations of the city versus the history of it. We were brought to the locks cruise terminal at the wharves along the waterfront. The locks cruise took about 1.5 hours and we sailed through the lock we saw earlier in the day. The tour then took us by the sports stadiums before we started the hotel drop offs for guests staying in the city. The remainder of us were taken to the airport and dropped around 4:30PM. The tour was something to do but felt I paid way too much for what was given. In closing, this was my first non-chartered Royal Caribbean cruise and I was impressed with the dining team in the Windjammer and especially Domnic and Gede in the Sapphire Dining Room. Christopher Hy and the other housekeeper down the hallway on the starboard side forward section were both a pleasure to interact with during the cruise. The bar staff in the R Bar, Marcela (a bar server from Brazil in the Palace Theater) and the Dizzy’s bar team of Made and Ferdinand were always enjoyable to chat with, even if you didn’t buy a drink in that moment. The service from these individuals made the cruise what it was. Anyone of these individuals could easily be in the cruise staff team as each had a sociable personality and did a far better job of engaging me then any of the cruise staff besides Veronica (who got on in Fiji) did. The biggest negative I had about the Explorer was the entertainment, cruise director and staff and most disappointing was the lazy DJ Tony. Entertainment is a big part of what makes up a cruise for me. The Cruise Director misjudged the amount of young people on the ship and failed to engage programming for us leaving a crappy nightclub as a last resort. The DJ was the worst I’ve ever experienced and became flippant with guests after a number of us reported his lazy behavior. I’ve never wanted a crew member fired before but this guy does not belong on a cruise ship, perhaps a retirement home disco but not a cruise ship. Walking off for long periods of time, sitting on the stairs, demanding tips for requests and playing the same 70s mix tape night after night is not the way to get people to drink or have fun. Botching the young cruisers mingle on the first and second night by playing 50s music only hurt the age demographic coming together at the start. It was a comedy of errors led by the Cruise Director not keeping up with his staff. Graham seemed more focused on the elite cruisers then he was on anyone else. He tried mid-cruise to address my concerns, but it was already too little, too late to fix the missteps. I do give him partial credit for trying. For a 23-day cruise, I had 34 drinks and a bill less then $200. Had the nightclub been better and the evening entertainment more engaging, my bar bill would’ve been considerably worse. I’m not sure I would try Royal Caribbean again any time soon unless the itinerary were really right. Norwegian Cruise Line is a far better cruise line for solos and LGBT cruisers. You don’t have to scavenger hunt to find the LGBT meet up spot and you don’t have to dine in the middle of the day following one-hour forward to meet solo cruisers. RCCL has a long way to go to woo either of these segments based on my impressions of this cruise and if you fit either of these, I would suggest steering clear of the Explorer of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
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