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Nancy Allen

Age: 41 to 50

Occupation:investments

Number of Cruises: 6 to 10 Cruises

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Explorer of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 18th, 2000

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Explorer of the Seas is more magnificent than one can imagine. Every inch of her is beautiful. Enough said about the ship - you can read descriptions elsewhere. I want to provide the reader with PRACTICAL information.

We sailed Thanksgiving week with 3500 passengers on board. It sounds like a lot, but RCCL handled the crowd beautifully. The only waiting we did all week was the process of getting onto the ship. Once we were on, there were no lines, not even to tender off at Labadee. Of the 3500 passengers, 1900 were repeat RCCL cruisers! About 1/5 were children, but all were well behaved because parents were reminded to read and reread the rules of conduct for kids.

Four of us, my husband, myself, and two teenage daughters, shared an inside cabin. This was a big mistake! The room was only about 8 feet wide and 15 feet long, with very limited storage space. The girls lived out of their suitcases all week because there was nowhere to store their stuff (also, they brought too much!). We were constantly tripping over each other. We had to get ready in shifts, unpack and repack in shifts, etc. Next time we'll get two rooms...

The on-board activities were great. There is no need to bring any sports equipment. All the equipment is free, new, and top quality. All the activities are free, except the golf simulator which we never saw, and there was no problem getting to do everything we wanted to do as many times as we wanted to.

The Palace Theater is wonderful. There were plenty of good seats left at each showtime, so there is no need to arrive early. Also, plenty of deck chairs for everyone. The pool attendants pull the pool towels off the chairs every couple of hours.

A few recommendations:

1. Eat all your meals in the formal dining rooms. You'll get the best food and service.

2. At the Ice Show, go a little early and sit in the front of the middle section.

3. Don't get off the ship in San Juan. It is a slum and getting worse. My girls were terrified walking around Old San Juan. I hope RCCL drops this port - everyone hates it.

4. Definitely get off the ship at Labadee - it's beautiful and the tendering is easy.

5. Choose your RCCL shore excursions wisely. Most are very expensive and there are many trips that you can do on your own much more economically.

6. Johnny Rockets was very popular. To avoid waiting to get in, go at odd times. They charge for malts and milkshakes - about $4.40 with tax.

7. Cruisers under age 21 should buy a soda card immediately. It costs about $24.50 with tax and tip, but will save a great deal over buying sodas individually.

In conclusion, I was hesitant to try a mega-ship, but after experiencing Explorer, I'd never sail on anything smaller. Happy cruising!

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