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Royal Caribbean ReviewExplorer The Seas Review7 Day Western CaribbeanC.J. Kausch

Age: 14

Occupation:High School Freshman

Number of Cruises: One

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Explorer of the Seas

Sailing Date: August 14th, 2005

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Royal Caribbean Cruise Review
Explorer Of The Seas Cruise Review
7 Day Western Caribbean

C.J. Kausch

Spending a week of my summer on one of the "floating cities" of the world was a week that would change my entire outlook on the ultimate vacation. If you've ever desired to take up a cruise, you are in for quite a treat because it is a temporary life of pure luxury. Everything from the food, service, and activities were intriguing and extremely motivated myself as a person to push out and have fun.

It all started with the arrival in Florida. My family and I lodged in Ft. Lauderdale for an evening and managed to take a shuttle to the Port Of Miami the next day. One vital suggestion: Always arrive in the city of departure one day prior to the ship's departure. If flight delays or some other emergency occurs, there is still a multi-hour allotted time frame. This proved successful as our check-in at the Port of Miami was unstressful and efficient. My family and I, we arrived at 10:30 a.m. and were on board by noon since all of the travel documents were organized.

At first glance, the ship seemed colossal and impossible to navigate. By the next day, however, it felt like exploring my new home, places were easy to locate and I rarely had to ask for assistances in finding my way around. One aspect I did notice was that the stewards provided little assistance in finding people to their staterooms although I helped my family locate ours using my orienteering skills.

We booked an interior family suite and found it quite comfortable for the duration of the trip. Many experienced cruisers informed us that the quarters would be claustrophobic, but that didn't bother me at all since the majority of my time was spent around the ship and at the ports. It was very relaxing to hear the ships engines at night while lying in bed and my younger sister Elizabeth found the towel art pleasing and gave a few laughs with it.

Dining on the cruise ship was an experience better than eating out at a ritzy restaurant in the city. The Windjammer Café offered quite a variety of selections from entrées, desserts, and side courses for breakfast and lunch. My family and I were assigned to the Mageallan Dining Room and anticipated on a marvelous time each evening. It was there where we met the Sloan family from Chantilly, VA. Our families were a perfect match as their daughter Wendy and her little brother Robby clicked with myself and Elizabeth. It was so cute to see Elizabeth and Robby together and every evening, they shared a dish of ice cream. As for Wendy and I, we spent the next week doing everything together including rock climbing, roller blading, ice skating, and eating at the Pâtisserie. Our servers added to the delight of dining. Our main server was Cetin, from Turkey and our serveuse was Svitlana, fom Ukraine. Mike was our main host and served alcohol too. The food was phenomenal and out of this world. I motivated myself into trying new plates such as escargots with pesto sauce, eggplant/aubergine soup with ginger and garlic, and best of all: lobster.

Later that evening, I decided to meet some of the other teenagers at Optix, a teen disco with a circular lounge and diner-style bar, even complete with a computer lab and a music video screen. I felt a bit shy at first but I soon felt like the life of the party and quickly established a clique, introducing myself and met who would become my new "best friends" for the week.

Aside from myself, the teens I became closest with were Wendy, from Chantilly, VA; Dave from London, UK;Wesley and Eric from Ontario, CA;Jena from Geneva, IL, Jannina from Mannheim, Germany; Julian from Salem,MA; and Rachel. We did everything as a group on board, from playing foosball to eating cookies and pizza at the Pâtisserie, watching flims in the screening room, to playing cards at cloud nine. It was difficult to say goodbye after knowing each other for only six days, but I've managed to keep in touch with some of them since, via email and letters. So if you have teens or younger children. encourage them to do the activities and meet other people as this will be a life-lasting benefit. In fact, I spent practically little time watching television in my room as there were plenty of other things to do.

The service on the ship was outlandish as I didn't have to worry about making my own bed, cooking my own meals, and cleaning/vacuuming the room. One factor that impressed me even more was the cleanliness. Yes! Even the men's toilets and restrooms were spick and span with the scent of potpourri, herbs, and spices. Our room attendant, Antonio was very pleased to serve my family and I whether it was answering cruise questions, tidying the stateroom, or creating towel art.

The activities and entertainment couldn't have been any better. I took advantage of activities like daily trivia, rock climbing, ice skating, miniature golf, roller blading, and of course the games they had at Optix. One thing I disliked about the contests were the prizes (key chains, squeakers, stickers, etc.) although I was proud of my excursion bag, which was won in a raffle, and my RCI medallion, which I won in a swimming relay.

The entertainment was nice whether it was in Studio B or the Palace Theater. The Planet Ice show left me breathless. The skaters worked really hard and their incredible talent earned a minute of applause.

The photograph shop was nice as each night, something new was available. My only complaint was that they were too expensive and we couldn't afford as many as I wanted to buy.

My major bother was the Muster drill as I found it the most trivial of matters. Even though it was mandated, I wasn't a happy camper, dedicating a half hour to sweating like a dog in a line of people, wearing a bulky lifejacket, not quite the emergency scenario I had in mind. Perhaps, I would recommend a more interactive drill with volunteers to man the lifeboats etc.

The pools were refreshing. However, they were too crowded during the day and I couldn't spend extended periods of time underwater since the saltwater went through my nose and dehydrated me.

It was very beneficial to have the Soda Package on my card, eliminating any worries about carrying money on me in case I wanted to buy a drink.

The ports were of outstanding choice and earned a lot out of them. Even though I didn't participate in any ship-organized excursions, I still managed to do some of those things for a cheaper price. For example, in Cozumel, I snorkeled for two hours for $8.50 a person unlimited, compared to $50.00 a person for three hours in a ship excursion. An added bonus was the sight of a barracuda within 10 meters of me. Beat that! My advice to you:explore the orts freely on your own, you never know what deals or bargains await you, along with some cultural interaction with the natives. Yes, I met Marcel in Belize, City, and gained an outlook on life in Belize, with the hostility, corruption, and poverty seen by my own eyes.

In addition, taking up a cruise may be a wonderful opportunity to practice linguistics outside of the classroom. In Costa Maya, I ordered my lunch in Spanish and Victor, my server was flattered at my willingness to respect the Mexican culture, even though he spoke fluent English. My language abilities even earn me a girlfriend. As mentioned earlier, I met Jannina, a blonde beauty from Mannheim, Germany. On the first night, she and I met at Optix. I overheard her grandmother address her in German and I figured that I could impress her with the little German that I knew. I asked her a couple questions in German about her life and she was flabbergasted. She in turn didn't speak much English, but we taught each other parts of the language and that really brought us together. You never know what could happen on a cruise ship, could you?

Overall, my stay on the cruise was phenomenal and unforgettable. Everything that I did, everyone I met, everywhere I went, they are nothing but memories now and all I have are several dozen photos and a few souvenirs to remember. Another tip of advice: take photos no matter how random it is, and make sure you photograph yourself, your friends, family, and places/monuments as these are the most important aspects of cruise photography. Do everything, even if it sound lame. You will have the feeling like it was worth the money and created a better person in you. One constant problem I face is "Post-Cruise Blues" and I deeply miss everything about my cruise even though it was months ago. I feel better when i talk about with my friends and share my stories with others. In fact, I inspired a couple friends to take up cruising and had a very different experience. So if you feel blue about all of your vacations, tak a cruise! It will change your life forever.
 

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