Royal Caribbean InternationalExplorer The Seas ReviewEastern CaribbeanPete Poplawski
Occupation:VP Sales and Marketing
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Explorer of the Seas
Sailing Date: April 30th, 2006
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Royal Caribbean International
Explorer Of The Seas Cruise Review
I’ll try not to repeat what you’ve already read on
previous reviews. Yes, the ship is amazing, it was one of our best vacations
ever, the dining rooms are beautiful, you will gain a few pounds, you will have
a great time etc. I’ll try to give you some fresh info.
THE ROOM. We had the deluxe balcony room and my wife and I were both amazed with the amount of storage space. Two full suitcases and a garment bag all got put away with no problem. 40 coat hangers in the closet easily handled all our folded up clothes from the suitcases. Note: No irons on the ship so consider this when picking the type of clothes you bring. We ironed everything first, folded it carefully and it all came out pretty well. Incidentally, those travel steamers are almost useless. We brought one and used it only once. My only complaint is that the balconies on this ship do not have a glass front. One side of your balcony will be steel, the other will be a very private frosted glass. The front side facing the ocean is steel up to about three feet. Most other cruise ships we saw in other ports had glass fronts affording you a better view of the ocean. I have a feeling the steel makes for a more structurally stable ship though. All in all we had no complaints about the room.
PICKING YOUR ROOM. Put some thought into this when checking out the floor plan. Remember, center ship you’ll feel the least ocean movement. Pick one by the rear elevator. Then you go down to the dining rooms and up to the pool decks. Port side rooms give you great sunsets coming back from the Caribbean. Isn’t that when you really need it?
HAND SANITIZING. You cannot enter the ship or any dining room without using the hand sanitizers. We were really glad to see this and so was everyone else. After all, no one wants to get sick on a cruise.
DINING. There were many bad reviews about the food on this ship. Most were reviews from a few years ago. Forget them, you will get a lot of great meals, appetizers, main dishes etc. and you may also get a few that the quality was less than expected. You will enjoy most of the food and you will certainly not leave this ship thinking that you didn’t eat well. Review the menu for the Windjammer (buffet) and compare it to the main dining room menu before you decide where to eat. Sometimes you may actually find a few more exciting things in the windjammer. The plus is that the cooks are from many different countries so you get some really interesting dishes and spices. The tandoori chicken in the Windjammer (WJ) was better that that at our local Indian restaurant. It was a shame that it only appeared on the menu one night. Something as mundane as meatloaf was also very delicious. In the main dining room each night there are usually 4-5 entrees to pick from. Then they also list four more alternative items. Most of these are usually avoided. Beware of the tempting sounding black angus steak usually offered every day. You will not rave about it. Of course on lobster night they will bring you as many as you like. That pretty much goes with everything all week. Like two appetizers? Get them both! Also, why go (and pay extra) to go to Johnny Rockets when there is Burgermania in the Windjammer? It’s also very o.k. to bring food back from the WJ to the pool area. Incidentally, The WJ and the Island Grill are basically the same place with the same buffet menu.
DINNER SEATING. We chose the 8:30 seating. Be forewarned that on two of the nights on a 7 night cruise the time usually gets pushed back to 9:00. Don’t figure this out after the Windjammer has closed for the afternoon break usually around 3:30 or you will wind up running down to the Promenade Café for Pizza to keep you going till dinner.
THE COFFEE. Wow, it is strong, everywhere on the ship!!!!!!!! They use a European dark roast and brew it strong. By the second day I learned that the trick was to fill your cup ¼ full with hot water and then fill it with coffee. That worked for me.
SERVICE. This bears repeating. The service everywhere was exceptional. This ship had the friendliest most helpful staff that you could imagine. So many times we would ask where a place was on the ship and the staff would just take us there instead of just giving us directions. We had a bulb flickering in our room. We called before dinner and we came back it was fixed. The same thing with calls for more pillows or towels.
THE COKE/JUCE DEAL. $6.00 a day gets you all the Coke or juice you can drink. The good thing is that they give you a insulated travel type mug in the beginning for the Coke that holds 16-20 oz. or so. This is handy for the people that bring their own bottle of liquor on board to mix their own drinks from time to time. FYI- Liquor in your checked on suitcase gets onboard without a problem. We bought one Coke pass for the cruise and the two of us did just fine with it. This may not work if two people constantly both order Coke with every meal. Iced tea is free.
HIGH SEAS. As luck would have it our first night out had 15 foot + seas. Even on a ship this size you will feel it but it’s still not nauseating. It can keep you up at night though with all the rocking and rolling. It rocks some to sleep. Opening your balcony door helps. The sound of the surf drowns out the moans, creaks and vibrations of the ship. Anything below 10 foot seas you will probably not even feel.
THE POOL DECK. Get your chairs by 10:30 or you will not get a choice spot. The pool temps vary in temperature from day to day and even from pool to pool. It seems like the Solarium pool was heated nicely while the other was not. Bring one of those clips to hold your hat (if you every wear one) to your shirt. The upper deck can get very windy.
RAIN. Pack a folding umbrella big enough for two. If it rains when you are on an island you will thank yourself a hundred times for doing so. All the umbrellas you can buy on the islands are small and almost worthless.
ISLAND PHOTO TIPS. You will probably be taking many pictures of people in bright sunshine. Take your flash off “auto” and make sure it is on “on” The flash fills in all the shadows. Many people don’t know this. Also remember to keep your horizon straight in your ocean pictures. You often don’t notice this when using a LED screen with a digital camera and it’s hard to see the horizon on the screen in bright sunlight.. Then you see the picture later and cringe. Using the viewfinder instead helps a lot. Don’t forget to use your cameras beach setting (if it has one). It lets the color of the water really come through.
PUERTO RICO. Our plan was to take a cab to El Morro and walk back to town. It was raining so we did the shops on the main streets and then found our way to Senior Frogs. This place will make you forget it is raining out. What a lot of fun. Also, on the right side of town near the other fort you will find a lot of tents set up and street vendors selling food. Try Some! I had some local dish that started with the letter “P” . It was a kind of deep fried pastry filled with pork and plantains. IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!! There is also a very old church in town near the square with all the pigeons. Go inside and take some pictures of the stained glass windows.
SAINT MAARTEN. The rain again changed our plans. We really wanted to go to Orient Beach but the weather did not cooperate. We did all the shops and then later ate and had some cocktails at The Greenhouse. St. Maarten has the most organized cab system I’ve ever seen. They have posted signs based on location, get in line and you’re off. Sure wish we could have gone to Orient. Now you see why I mentioned to pack the big umbrella.
ST THOMAS. Finally a beautiful day. To die For!! The best of St Thomas tour is the best for photo opportunities from high altitude locations. We took this same tour a few years ago and it was still great. Then did the Megan’s Beach Getaway tour. I could have stayed there for a week. Yes, it’s very crowded if you are dead center on the beach but I was in the water most of the time and didn’t care. Someone we met on the ship went there in the morning and said it was empty. Maybe that’s the secret. If you don’t want to rent a chair you can walk to the far left or right and be more secluded. But then again the bar is in the crowded part. Get a painkiller or two at the bar, they are extremely tasty. This beach was our favorite part of the entire trip. Sandy bottom beach not good snorkeling, where I was, nothing to see. IMPORTANT: On a previous cruise I went to Trunk Bay which was incredible. Highly recommended. But, what they don’t tell you is that the shop at Trunk Bay closes early (3:00?). If you don’t bring your own snorkel gear you can get screwed on an afternoon trip. Luckily I had my own. They should really tell you that.
NASSAU. Be sue to get a picture of the tiny lighthouse on the left when you are pulling into the harbor, the water is so blue on a sunny day. We heard many crappy reviews on Atlantis (not a guest, you lose) so we skipped that. Went to Cabbage Beach for the first part of the day and then went to the shops. We should have stayed at the beach all day. The shops and straw market sucked big time. A note on the cabs, you need to know this. There is no such thing as a cab as you know it, they are all vans. They will not go anywhere until they fill up the van, That’s the way it is. You may have to wait 5-10 minutes. We the people are the commodity to the cab drivers, they will fight over us. Most “cab” drivers go to Atlantis and the second stop is Cabbage beach. Be sure that this is their plan before you get on. $4.00 a person. All and all, no problem. This beach has the coolest water color you’ve ever seen. It is very crowded. Chair rental price $10, umbrella $20. I mentioned that this was robbery and the guy said, “hey, tell my boss” Drink all day on the beach for $10.00 though. Lot’s of drinks in coconuts. A very crazy place but very cool. The water drop off is very steep. You can walk out 20 feet and be in water 8 feet deep. I actually saw waves tossing 200 lb. women up onto the sand. I am not kidding. No problem if you are a decent swimmer. This beach was very cool.
So there you have it. We had a great time. Other than a trip to Hawaii we rate this as our next best vacation. Have fun!!!