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nc liz 03-19-2007 08:43 AM

Hi all, Just got back from our Western Caribbean cruise on Explorer of the Seas. What a great time! I've been on everything from the QE2 to Crystal to Radisson Seven Seas and I have to say, this ship rivals them all. The crew was the nicest by far. The ship was beautiful. So many activities to do. Food was so-so (it's that expectations thing), so we shelled out the bucks and ate at the Portofino - FABULOUS. Shore excursions were well organized. Despite the fact that there are signs everywhere on the docks saying you can't embark until 2:00pm, we walked right on at noon and were in our cabins by 12:45. The junior suite is well worth the money. We had the kids in the inside cabin across the hall and it was no more expensive than if we had booked two balcony cabins. I won't babble anymore, but if anyone has any questions, please let me know. One other thing, go to Chankanaab in Cozumel and do the Dolphin Swim Adventure. It was GREEEEAAAT!!!!

NC Liz

peter l 03-19-2007 09:34 AM

Hi NC Liz ! Welcome Back; start planning that next one. I was excited to see your remarks as we are out on 4/8 and can't wait.
Have been considering Chankanaab in Cozumel but not for the dolphin thing. How was the water there? What is the cover for Portofino's? What other things did you do on the other islands, and how would you rate them. This will be our largest ship yet and really looking forward to the experience.
Thanks in advance.


nc liz 03-19-2007 10:20 AM

Hi Peter1,
OK, here goes! Cover is $20/person for Portofino and is well worth it. The service is impeccable and food was first class. They have their own kitchen and it is prepared as ordered. If you want to reserve a night or two or three, I would do so when you arrive on the ship, as it fills up.
Chankanaab was completely destroyed by Hurricane Wilma a year and a half ago (as was most of the area). I was not sure what to expect, but they have rebuilt it and it is gorgeous. Everything is brand new and clean. The beach goes on forever. There isn't much of a reef there, but the snorkeling was fun. My hubby said he felt like he was in a big aquarium. We saw a school of squid, which I had never seen before. I think the thing that amazed me was how pleasant everyone was. Their industry was devasted and this is the first year the Spring Breakers are back. They go out of their way to make sure you enjoy yourselves.
Did the reef snorkel and beach break in Belize. It was great. The snorkel boat picks you up right from the ship, so you don't have to mess with the long tender ride. We have two teenagers and they didn't want to do anything that was going to result in hours of traveling, hence the cave tubing and Mayan ruins were out. I heard the deep sea fishing was terrible. 30 miles out on a 28 foot center console boat (no shade) only to catch a couple of grouper and then 30 miles back....yuck!
Did the power snorkel in Costa Maya, which was so-so. Great concept, but not enough equipment for everyone, so you had to go in shifts. 30-40 minute bumpy ride on a bus too.
Did the two stop Snorkel and Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman, which is a must. The snorkeling was great and the Stingrays were just an unbelievable experience.
As a note of caution, on Costa Maya, one of the tour groups was late coming back. The ship waited a good half an hour for them. If you are not going to book a shore excursion through RCI, make sure you allow yourself ample time to make it back. Also, book your shore excursions on line!!!! You have to do so at least 10 days out, but the line was huge at the shore excursion desk and many people were disappointed when the excursion they wanted was sold out.
So, I guess I've gone on enough. What is so great about this ship, is it is huge, so there is tons to do, but there are so many separate areas that you don't feel you are with 3000 other people, with the exception of perhaps the dining room (and even that is separated into three). But, there really is no way to feed that many people without it feeling rather assembly lineish.
Oh, one other thing. On your days at sea, if you want a lounge chair in the sun, take your towel and your book and reserve one early. I know they say you aren't supposed to, but EVERYBODY does, and then you are stuck searching for one to open up.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. You will have a blast!

NC Liz

penny3333 03-19-2007 11:47 AM

Glad to hear you had a great time, welcome back to the cold harsh reality. Start planning your next one, it'll ease the pain. However, DO NOT, save chairs. Get up early, go and occupy your chairs. You can go in shifts to the buffet, but PLEASE, do not save chairs.

goin' cruisin' 03-19-2007 02:00 PM

Great review of the Explorer; I am scheduled for the 4/1 Eastern Caribbean and am full blown giddy in anticipation. WWWWWeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

If you can't find a lounge on deck, is there anything saying you can't take your balcony chair for a walk? Or, hang on your balcony (not literally for all you Titanic fans).

Sonny V 03-20-2007 06:39 AM

Reguarding the saving lounge chairs... there is a pool attendent on all RCCL ships. If they know a chair or chairs are vacated for more than 30 minutes they may remove the towels. If you want to save chairs, keep this in mind. My wife will save a chair for me, but if I don't show up in 15 minutes she will give it up to someone else.


peter l 03-20-2007 09:54 AM

Thanks NC Liz for the info. I take it from your comments that you did book thru RCI ; we have always done this in the past knowing that we may pay a little more but feel safer for the reasons stated and pre book as well. Is snorkle equipment avail to rent at Chankanaab? Which reef did you snorkle in Belize? We have done the stingrays and will probably opt for beach that day. I am feeling more comfortable with the size of the ship after your comments.
Again, thanks for your input.


TonynFla 03-20-2007 12:57 PM

I'm glad to read you had a great time. We leave on the Explorer sunday!!!!!! We are so excited. It feels like the minutes of today won't go fast enough.

A couple of questions.

1. Does the explorer have the new bedding?
2. Did they have express debarkation where you can carry your luggage off early?
3. What was your favorite thing to do on the ship?
4. We have two 14 yr old girls coming, what was your teenagers favorite thing to do on the ship?

Thank You

nc liz 03-23-2007 10:54 AM

Hi everyone,

Let's see...answers.
Yes, there is equipment rental at Chankanaab. Not sure which reef we snorkelled in Belize. It was the reef snorkel and beach break excursion that picks you up right from the ship (no tendering required).
Other answers.
1.Our junior suite had wonderful bedding. They put the beds together for hubby and me and had a nice pad on top, so it felt like one bed.
2.Express debarkation takes place betweem 6:15am and 6:30am. We were in group 1 and had to be off by 6:45am, so there wasn't much difference. However, if you can get up early and wheel your bags off, do so. If you put out your bags the night before, you have to reclaim them right after you get off the ship. It's like the baggage claim conveyer belts at the airport and it probably took a good 45 minutes before our bags showed up. If you are flying out of Miami and on a major carrier, pay the $15 and check your bags at the port to your home destination. Miami International is a zoo.
3.My favorite thing was eating at the Portofino and having a glass of champagne at the champagne bar with my hubby while my kiddies were safely occupied elsewhere. I'm not much of a shopper, but every night there were sales going on in the promenade. The ice show was great, but get tickets the very first time they are made available (I believe it is at 8:30 on the first night). Dizzy's is a great place to have a drink as you are leaving whatever island you have visited. It is up on the 14th floor and has fabulous views.
4. As far as teenagers, each night they will receive, along with the Compass, their own "newsflash" as to what is going on for teens the next day. They had scavenger hunts, etc. My 15 year old mainly enjoyed hanging out at the pool with everyone and going to their teen club at night to chat.
Man oh man, I want to go again!!!!!

NC Liz

goin' cruisin' 03-23-2007 11:08 AM

9 more wake ups for me; then I'm as happy as one of Cheffy Ken's hogs in slop.

ncliz: do we need to keep all the sharp tools away from you? We wouldn't want the post cruise blues to get the best of you!

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