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Sailing the Explorer of the Seas

Sailing the Explorer of the Seas
April 23rd, 2014 5:56 pm     A+ | a-
Hello! My name is Rachel, and I recently got back from a 9-day cruise to Bermuda, St. Maartin, Puerto Rico, and Haiti on the Explorer of the Seas.  I traveled with my mother, father, and my fiance'. My parents have cruised a lot over the years, but this was my fourth cruise and my fiance's second.  Overall we had a great time on the cruise; however there were some things that we weren't too happy about.

CabinStateroom:
My fiance' and I had an interior promenade stateroom on deck 8. It was a lot smaller than staterooms we had stayed in the past, and it had very little storage. This made it hard to keep our room tidy because there was no place to put our stuff! A few of the nights we could hear loud music from the promenade deck which made it very hard to sleep. The television in our room was very small and outdated, and half of the small amount of channels available were in a different language.

CabinThe shower in the room wasn't too bad, although it was small. It was nice that it had a door on it, unlike some other cruise lines that only have curtains. Our room steward was very nice, and he introduced himself at the beginning of the trip and asked if we needed anything. He continued to bring us fresh ice everyday as well as some nice bathrobes. In the mornings he would make the bed for us and in the evenings he would pull the blankets back for sleeping and bring us the daily newsletter for the next day. It was nice to read it and know what was happening for the next day.

My parent's room was a Superior Balcony stateroom on deck 9 which was larger than our room, and they did not have any problems with noise or storage.

Dining TableDining:
Dining overall on the ship was pretty good, although not as tasty as some of the other cruise ships we have been on. The buffet food in the Windjammer seemed to get better each day, although there was a little bit of inconsistency. There were certain areas of the buffet that were better than others: for breakfast there was an omelet station, all the way in the back (which we did not find until the second to last day), as well as a Caesar salad station for lunch. It was also hard, most of the time, to find seating during the day. We went to breakfast a few times in the dining room, however the same food that was ordered on one day seemed to be cooked a lot differently on the next day, which made it hard to know what to expect.

For dinner we chose “my-time” dining which allowed us to choose our reservation time each night, although we generally stuck to the same time. On the first evening, when we arrived for our reservation, we made sure to ask for a table for 4 people.  We ended up getting a very nice round table in the corner of the restaurant that had a large window close by. We were then assigned this table every evening per our discretion. Our waiter was very nice, although it did take a few nights for him to become comfortable with us as well as our preferences. There was a nice selection on the menu each night with about 10 appetizer items (5 staples that did not change), and about 8 entree items (4 or so that did not change).

LobsterWe all found that the food was inconsistent. We enjoyed trying different things, however we ended up being unhappy more times than we had on previous cruises, and we sent back the plates and ordered something else instead.  Our waiter always accommodated these changes.  We enjoyed most of the soups; we had great rack of lamb, and the lobster tail on the last formal night was fantastic. The food did not seem to be as exotic or unique as we have experienced in the past, and there was nothing very exciting or out of the ordinary on any of the menus. One noticeable thing that did not show up on any menu was escargot.

Unfortunately, our dinner was interrupted every night by a small group of entertainers that would bring a karaoke machine around the dining room and sing to random songs. Although some guests seemed to enjoy it, it was very annoying to us, as they would often show up right in the middle of our meal, encouraging the passengers to participate. They were not very entertaining at all.

Johnny Rockets was a really cool addition to the dining options. It is located on one of the top decks which allows for a great view while you sit and eat. The price was $5.95 per person for as much food as you wanted, however all the beverages (including milk shakes) were an additional charge. They brought an unlimited amount of fries and (amazing) onion rings, which was a nice touch!!

Although room service was delivered quickly most of the time, the food was always cold and lacked flavor. 

Life on the ship:
There seemed to be a lot of children and teenagers on the ship due to the timing of school vacations. A few nights we saw a lot of teenagers and children in “adult” activities like the game shows and bar events. It was a little disturbing to see so many children in inappropriate situations. Unfortunately, the curfew for anyone under 21 was 1:00am which I felt was way too late as that was the time that most adults stayed up until. It seemed like there were not enough activities for the teenagers to do, so they ended up in all of the bars (except the casino and dance club). The younger children were not seen as often as they had more activities to do everyday.

DrinksBeverages:
Drinks throughout the ship were good but pretty inconsistent. We found that the drinks ordered in the theater or at dinner seemed to be made differently than the drinks that we ordered at certain bars. We did enjoy having so many choices for beverages as they always seemed to have a good selection and some fun drink menus. Two people in our party ending up getting the Premium Drink package which allowed them to pay a set price at the beginning of the cruise and have unlimited beverages. It was nice for them to just be able to order a drink and not worry about the cost or about finishing them. Bottled water was also included in the package which was very useful.

Public Areas:
The main pool area is very large on the ship; however it got quite loud with all of the people, so we always went to solariumthe Solarium, as much as possible when we were outside. The Solarium is a nice adults-only area with comfortable lounge chairs, a pool and 2 large hot tubs. Unfortunately, it was not on the top sun deck, so the sun often got blocked at different times of day and it was hard to get the “perfect spot” either in sun or shade.  Often people would “save” their lounge chairs for hours at a time. People would show up in the morning and put their belongings on 4 or 5 lounge chairs, and then leave and not return again until a few hours later. At the beginning of the cruise we saw this happen a lot, but towards the end the staff seemed to start to catch on and they began taking people's belongings once they were gone an hour or so.

Although the casino was nice, it smelled like cigarette smoke all of the time because smoking was allowed in parts of it. Since it was in the middle of the ship, we had to walk through it often, and I continued to get a headache every time I went through.

HelipadThe helicopter pad in the front of the ship was a really nice and unique area to sit when it was warm outside, especially when it was not too windy. It was a little hard to get to as it is not on the ship's map, which made it kind of a secluded area that not many people knew about.

The Royal Promenade had some nice bars and places to sit and “people-watch”. We often enjoyed sitting at the “Crown and Kettle Pub” which had an Irish pub feel to it. Live music played often, and although the area tended to get busy, it was nice to be in the midst of it all. Throughout the ship there were a lot of good bar options. We really enjoyed being able to go to different bar venues throughout the night and listen to music or just sit and chat.

The fitness center is located at the front and top of the ship. It has large windows that allow you to look out at the water while on a treadmill or elliptical. My mother and I went here a few times and really enjoyed what they had for exercise machines and space. We were always able to find a machine to use.

Shopping:
The shops on the ship seemed to be pretty nice; however I didn't find many clothes options as they were all “older” styles that I was not interested in. There were some good liquor options and deals, and we ended up getting a bottle of really nice coffee liquor and a large bottle of crown royal for $37 together which was a pretty good deal. They had a lot of “sale bins” at certain times throughout the cruise; however the quality of the items were lacking.

Cleanliness:
The ship was very clean and the staff all seemed very set on making sure everyone used the hand sanitizer as often as possible. It did not seem like there was much illness or problems with cleanliness at all. 

Activities:
Unfortunately, there did not seem to be much to do on this ship in the evenings after dinner. If we chose not to go to the show in the main theater, then we had to wander around the ship looking for something to do until 11pm at night, when the dance club opened. We often got tired by this time and went back to the room early. Although there were some nights that they held interactive “game shows”, they were often packed full of kids and we missed having late-night comedy shows and activities only for adults.

The mini-golf course was nice, however it was pretty short and it only took about 25 minutes to go through the entire 9-hole course with 4 people in our party. I would have liked some more obstacles and statues to shoot in-between as well, rather than the simple rocks and grass that they had.

The rock climbing wall looked like it was fun, and it was very large, however we never got the chance to climb because it was windy on the days that we wanted to do it.

iceshowThe ice rink was a cool feature although it was pretty cold inside. The ice show was very nice- they had a special guest skater who added a nice acrobatic element to it which made it very exciting.

Performances:
As mentioned, the ice show was great, and I really enjoyed it the most out of all the performances on the ship. Each night there was a different production show in the theater which my parents often attended and enjoyed, however my fiance' and I felt that some of the singing performances were a little boring for us. We really enjoyed the comedy routines on two of the nights. 

Debarkation process:
Unfortunately, the debarkation process on this ship was not very enjoyable. We were woken up with a knock on the door at 8:00am by our room steward who told us that we needed to leave our room as soon as possible. This started our day off in a rush, and we were unable to shower and organize our things as much as we wanted to. After we left our rooms, we proceeded to the buffet to have some breakfast, and we found that they had closed at 8:30am!

We had never seen a cruise ship close off breakfast that early on debarkation day, and we were very upset that we were unable to have the breakfast we had planned on. We ended up going to the Cafe' Promenade which offered some Danishes and coffee. However we were not planning to get off the ship until at least 10:30am so we had a lot of time to kill, and not many places to go.

shipAt about 9:30am we were all told to leave the Cafe' Promenade and go to our designated areas, which for us was the ice rink. We sat for about an hour at the ice rink without any entertainment, until our number was called to get off the ship. During all this time, the staff on the ship seemed to be very rude and I almost felt like they were not trying to be helpful to anyone, and the staff seemed like they were just getting ready for the next group of people to come on the ship. This was very upsetting, and it put our entire group in a sour mood.

Summary:
Despite the food inconsistency, the excess of children, and the problems with our stateroom and disembarkation, we really had a great experience and a lot of fun times on the cruise. The staff was generally pretty friendly, the ship was very clean, and we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves.

Rachel Millay
2 Comments:
Out2sea
#1
April 26th, 2014 10:09 am
I have been on this ship twice. While I love the ship, I find Royal Caribbean does not provide as good of an experience as other cruise lines. Plus the internet on this ship is a joke.

When we arrived at the port we found ourselves in a traffic jam a mile long. What a terrible way to start a cruise. Then at the end of the cruise, Royal kicked us out of our room, closed the buffet, closed the cafe promenade. What a terrible way to end the cruise.
FanofRC
#2
June 13th, 2014 2:41 pm
This is one nice looking ship, but sorry to hear that it is heading to China. It will be missed.
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