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Jill

Age: 39

Occupation:Campaign Manager

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Explorer of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 14th, 2002

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Highlights
We chose the Explorer of the Seas based on reviews from this site and research and it served us very well. The ship is, quite simply, beautiful! She sails beautifully too!

Out at sea, coming in and out of port and docking were the best parts of the cruise for us as we are fascinated by the size of the ship and the engineering marvel that she is. Our balcony was critical to our enjoyment of the cruise.

St. Thomas is the gem among the ports of call on our itinerary. I would return here in a heartbeat.

The staff in the dining room were warm and friendly. We really got to know our servers and became very fond of them. I get the impression that not many people take the time to ask these staff about their life and their careers. It was heart breaking for us to know that these kind, young folks are all away from their loved ones over the holiday season. Many of them have children of their own that they miss for approximately 6 months. Don't get too hung up on your position as the paying customer - these folks have seen it all and they are humans just like you doing a respectable job and doing it well.

Johnny Rockets was so much fun. The entire staff does a dance routine when a customer plays 'Y.M.C.A' on the jukebox. I joined their line while having lunch one day and it was a lot of fun.

The Adventure Ocean Kids club was run by highly trained professionals. This group of talented individuals gave our 2 girls memories that will last them a lifetime.

The Review style shows were fabulous. The singers, dancers and skaters were all wonderful.

We also liked coming back from excursions early to an almost empty ship. It was such a good feeling to enjoy the pool all to ourselves as a family and escape the crowds. This was very relaxing and the fancy drinks are delicious.

Lowlights
Be sure to arrive at the terminal as early as noon. Our travel agent and ship documents both said to arrive at 2 pm, however we spent an hour and a half in line looking at an RC sign that indicated they had been boarding since noon. This was disappointing as we had just been killing time to avoid arriving early.

There is no sign to say that the pools are salt water. Upon jumping in my nose and eyes burned as I was not prepared.

Not enough elevators. During busy times at ports when many passengers are coming and going you can never get an elevator. We ended up using the stairs many times, which was probably a good thing after all the food we were eating but still an inconvenience.

My kids always wanted an ice cream but the ship closes all 5 self serve locations at the same time (11am) each day. It would be nice if they rotated so that only one machine was closed at a time.

Be prepared to spend a lot of money. We had arrived thinking that we knew what our trip would cost before leaving given the all-inclusiveness of the ticket. Wrong! They only cover the bare essentials and before you know it you are racking up a big bill. From photographers with mascots in the dinning room and room service, to soda or milkshakes everything costs extra as every attempt is made by the cruise line to get more of your money. I do feel that I got very good value for my money on the cruise. The quality of the food and the entertainment was well worth it. However, I do resent having to tip so well to offset RC's choice not to pay their staff well. I would prefer to pay more for my cruise and not be nickled and dimed to death.

If I had the cruise to do all over again I would arrive to the terminal at noon, get involved in more of the Cruise Director's activities and would have reserved the late sitting in the dinning room as the early sitting compromised our ability to do everything we would have liked to do. RC has videographers taping passengers at ship events and they compile the clips into a video that you can buy on the last night. We were not in the video at all as we did not go to any of the featured events. I urge you to get out, have fun and get on film as this, in my opinion, would be the best souvenir money can buy.

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