Explorer of the Seas January 13-25, 2008
Embarkation Disembarkation These were the most frustrating hours of the entire trip, which was otherwise largely enjoyable. Royal Caribbean simply did not have elevator or check in capacity to handle 3200 passengers. 3.5 hours to get off, 4.5 hours to get on. The first days lunch was similar to many port days when the main dining room was closed, not enough seating in the Windjammer meant that people were sitting on the floor or standing up to eat.
The Ship Absolutely beautiful beyond description, more space devoted to retail than seating in the Windjammer cafeteria, and it is a cafeteria. Wonderful theatre and Ice Skating Pavilion, plenty of space on the decks, pools, bars, casino, hot tubs, and Internet café.
The Staff Extremely courteous and helpful except for the Customer service area where information about ports was guarded like a military secret. Expect no help from these people who do not want you to find your own way around the islands, they want you to sign up for excursion.
Excursions Surprisingly good value for the money. Be prepared however to fight for the right to snorkel without a foam rubber life preserver and against other minor silly rules.
Food Chefs and Health Boards refer to the zone between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F as the danger zone because this is where bacteria thrive. Most of the hot food in the Windjammer is in this zone. You can see cooks grilling hamburgers at 10:30 AM which will not be served until 11:30 AM and you know that the steam table is NOT going to keep them hot enough to be enjoyable OR germ free. Portofino is worth the extra charge.
Entertainment Absolutely top notch, especially the ice skating shows. Much better than on smaller ships or any other cruise line that we have traveled with.
Passengers There are a lot of them, and quite a few take up a great deal of space. Unlimited food attracts some serious eaters and the calculations for elevator capacity obviously did not take in to account the space that some of these people might take.
Overall A good cruise and a positive experience, I would take this cruise again but be mentally prepared for the logistical problems of moving and feeding that many people.