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Paul & Debbie Willer

Age: Paul- 50, Debbie- ?

Occupation:Paul- Self Employed/ Debbie- Hospital Department Director

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Explorer of the Seas

Sailing Date: March 1st, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Day 1- Arrived into Miami International Airport at noon, took a cab ($18) to the port and the porters who took our luggage promptly pleasantly greeted us. Being we had a reserved suite, we were able to skip the usual line (which we heard was quite speedy) and get processed in immediately. Once in the room, our "Romance Package" was quite impressive. The arrangement of flowers lasted the entire cruise. Our suite had a "tub" and was 180 square feet of room. We were quite impressed with the efficient use of the space, including a huge walk-in closet.
(The next day, we upgraded from our "C" suite on the 10th floor to a "B" suite. This cost us a mere $150 and this gave us nearly 400 square feet of room and our balcony was twice the size. We also picked up a DVD player and plenty of movies, which were available through our "Concierge." We also peaked at the “B” class “Owner’s Suite’s,” which were a little bigger. They each had flat screen 37” plasma televisions. And of course on the last day we were able to get a tour of the Royal Suite, which astonishes you upon entering the suite with a Baby Grand Piano. For those that cannot play there is a computer that allows one to pick their favorite ivory pieces. To the right is a huge living room, and to your left is a bar area with an entrance to the suites main lavoratory that includes a lavoratory, bidet and shower area. The main bedroom further to the left has it’s own lavoratory and huge walk-in closet. The bed is shaped in the form of a circle. The television rises out of it’s own cabinet with the switch of a remote control. The bathroom has it’s own spa tub and if you wish, go out onto the balcony where you can relax in your own hot tub. Why would anyone want to leave this room?)

After our muster drill at 4:00 PM (Painless) we went back to our suite and finished our champagne and treats. Off we went to our dinner where we enjoyed 5-star dining each and every night of our 7- night cruise. The food each night was as terrific as if you were eating in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Our waiter, Ramone and his assistant were superb as Giovanni, our headwaiter and Gagne, our personal bartender combined to make our dining experience a memorable event.
Later in the evening we had top-notch entertainment and a comedian that was truly an up and coming star.

Day 2- At sea, we took off to explore the ship and found rock climbing, basketball being played and the miniature golf course. Then we treated ourselves to the services offered by the spa. A couple of massages and a haircut for myself and a styling for the wife, we were well off on our way to a relaxing vacation.

Day 3- Labadee, Haiti is Royal Caribbean’s private beach area where if you want to bargain, it’s a buyer’s paradise. I proceeded to buy over $200 worth of souvenirs for less than $30 US Dollars. The Haitians selling their wares are tough in wanting your business, so bargain hard and you’ll end up with a gift for everyone back home on your list. Royal Caribbean provides all with a terrific buffet. When they came around selling “Cocktails” I thought the guy was selling “Laba-doobies.” As it turned out, he was selling frozen cocktail drinks that hit the spot.

Day 4- Ocho Rios, Jamaica was another perfect day. Our day started with the bus ride up into the hills to where we rode water tubes down a 3-mile section of the White River. We wore bathing suites, as I would recommend to anyone. Later in the day we went shopping in the new shopping area that has plenty of security guards watching over the area. We had heard that there was plenty of undesirable’s that made this excursion uncomfortable. This problem has been obviously been taken care of. The experience was wonderful, and there were plenty of bargains to be had. Jewelry prices here are a lot more negotiable than Grand Cayman Island. The Jamaican’s really want the US Dollar.

Day 5- Grand Cayman Island began with a bus tour down 8-mile beach to the small village of “Hell” where we sent out postcards to everyone. The tour took us to the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm where you’ll find a noble cause going on to keep the turtle population alive. Debbie even held a turtle and rubbed its neck to calm the poor thing. Back at the center of town, we shopped until it was time to get back to the ship.

*One small footnote. One of the women that sat at our assigned table in the main dining hall, was stung by a Stingray on an excursion offered by Royal Caribbean. Apparently someone dropped a container of squid that they feed upon into the water. You are supposed to feed them individually. This caused a commotion that brought approximately 40 stingrays looking for the handout. Her husband pulled the stinger out which had penetrated two of her toes. There was no medical equipment available on the boat that had taken them to this sandbar off the coast of Grand Cayman. We are still waiting to hear from our friends as to how Royal Caribbean ends up taking care of this. If it handles the outcome as they handled everything else then I’m sure there will be a happy ending for their vacation. She was sick in her bed for 2-days. Personally, I would not recommend this part of excursions offered by Royal Caribbean. (They say that a Stingray “sting” is worse than the pain of childbirth.)

Day 6- Cozumel, Mexico was in the distance as we entered the high-speed ferry to the mainland where we took a bus south to the Mayan ruins of Tumel. Our first stop was at the factory outlet for Capri’s Jewelers, where we found a couple of great buys that I quickly negotiated. The salesman was quick to get his manager who was able to finish our deal. The Mayan ruins were incredible. Since they are located on the coast next to the sea, the tour was comfortable for being very hot. (Mid 90’s)

Day 7- At sea for our last complete day of the vacation was spent at the spa area for a couple of last massages and then sitting out on deck by the pools with a couple of good cold cocktails along with the warm sun above.

I might add that disembarking the ship was simple and easy. Everyone is given color-coded tags, which was to be placed on our luggage; we placed out the prior night just outside our cabin door. Once our color was called we were headed off the ship. I had prepared a detailed accounting of all of our purchases. Customs was pleased to see this and pointed out that the penalty for not declaring an item can be 4 times its actual value. So if you bought a Rolex retailing at $5,000 for $3,500, your penalty could amount to a fine of $20,000. What a way to ruin a vacation.

I might point out that for this particular vacation that our deduction was $1,200 for each of us for a total of $2,400. The duty we paid for our items brought back was based upon 3.5%

This cruise was our first. We did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews such as you are reading hear and decided to go with the largest ship in the world. Not only is this ship one of the 3-sister ships of the Voyager Class ship that Royal Caribbean has, we feel that everything offered on this cruise was beyond any of our expectations. This is definitely the way we will vacation in the future and what we would recommend to anyone we know.

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