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Matt & Jim

Age: 32

Occupation:Physicians

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Explorer of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 14th, 2002

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

We traveled on Voyager of the Seas about 2 years ago, so we were very excited to attend a conference on board Explorer, Voyager’s sister ship. We have cruised many times on various lines, but always considered our first RCCL trip one of the better ones, mostly because of the many activities and the “energy” on the ship.

The itinerary was great with a nice balance of sea days and port days. St Thomas is always a favorite (we bought 12 bottles of booze…) and St Maarten has some nice beaches. The 4-hour stop over in San Juan was a waste, and Nassau is kind of lame, but not horrible.

The ship is quite nice and our C level suite was very spacious. We loved the walk-in closet. And of course, a balcony is a must.

The entertainment was good…especially the ice show and the production show. Our celebrity headliner was Yakov Smirnoff…lets hope he is not yours. There’s a reason he does cruises. He stinks.

Now for the complaints…the food was AWFUL and the service was spotty at best. RCCL has clearly made some cutbacks since our last trip.

We aren’t the pickiest of eaters, but the food in the Windjammer buffet was slop. It made Old County Buffet seem appetizing. Princess and even Carnival had better buffet food. Cold meats, poor selections, and lack of taste. YUCK.

Unfortunately, the dining room was not much better. I realize that on a ship with 3000 passengers the quality can’t always be good, but I was thoroughly disappointed with most of the meals.

First off, fewer menu choices, and a terrible wine list. One waiter told me that too many people complained that some of the wine was too pricey, so they basically cut out anything that was half way decent. Gee, thanks.

The food itself was bland, poorly cooked (if you want medium, you get WELL done), and unimaginative. Everyone at our table agreed that it was some of the worst cruise food they had ever had. Compared to what I had on Voyager 2 years ago, it was definitely a step down. Furthermore, when compared to other cruise lines, it was well below par.

The service also lacked. I had 2 people tell me that they thought all the crew appeared bored and didn’t want to be there.

Our cabin steward rarely came around…and always seemed put out by requests. Our waiter and asst. waiter fought all the time.

The only bright side was in Portofino, the alternative dining room, where the food was excellent and the service was top notch. But of course that cost an extra $40 AND a tip. But, given the slop in the dining room, it was well worth it.

I have told many people to go on RCCL based on my experiences on Voyager 2 years ago. But based on this recent cruise, I’d say look elsewhere if you enjoy quality food and service. If all you want is a big ship with lots of activities, and don’t care about what you eat, Explorer may be ok for you…a lot of people I talked to had no complaints. But if you want a little class, a little pampering, and good, quality meals…I suggest Celebrity’s bigger ships (Summit, Millennium) or Princess (Golden, Grand).

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