*My wife and I flew from Orlando to Miami and rented a car from Avis for a 2 day pre-cruise. (on our own.) We stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay were you can see the bay and the Port of Miami. This is great hotel and is worth the few extra $ to stay on the 29th. floor for the view. I was able to drop the rental car back at Avis which has an office located at the Port of Miami within easy walking distance or a quick shuttle ride provided by Avis to the Explorer Of The Seas.
*At about 9:45am we were one of the first in line for embarkation waiting at the baggage conveyer belt with our luggage and not allowed to check in the terminal until about 11:15am and no one was able to board until about 12:30pm as passengers were still leaving the ship at 11:00am.
*The Explorer is a BIG, beautiful, clean ship and it's easy to get around as long as you have your handy "Welcome Aboard" pamphlet with map.
*We were in an owners suite on deck 10 which was very, very spacious but had an extremely small balcony. My wife received her luggage at 3:00pm and I finally received mine at about 5:15pm. (explain that one)
*Food at the Windjammer Cafe on deck 11 was good and plentiful. Johnny Rockets has great hamburgers (chili) fries and onion rings. There is no charge for this or water but for lemonade, soft drinks or shakes there is.
*Portofino is an Italian alternative restaurant in which reservations are required and is $20.00 per person. We did not eat there and I understand that not many passengers did.
*Midnight Buffet is on Thursday and it starts at 11:30pm-12:15am for picture taking only and then at 12:30am you all wait in line to partake in the buffet. The ice sculptures and chocolate carvings were just beautiful I thought the buffet itself was very disappointing as compared to other Royal caribbean cruises and other cruise lines.
*In San Juan it was easy enough to leave the ship but you had to go through 5 security checkpoints and baggage x-ray to get back on the ship.
*The Explorer was not filled to capacity and they were offering a back to back cruise for the second week from $350-$775 per person depending on your cabin.
*Debarkation went extremely well. At 7:50am the first group of passengers were allowed to leave ship according to the ticket color given to you by your cabin attendant on the last evening. All luggage is now on a carousel to be picked up according to your ticket color called. The cruise line is very strict about this as all ticket stubs with the color called are checked before you leave the ship. Security is plentiful and you will be checked at the customs booth prior to leaving the terminal.
*All in all the cruise was great, we made new friends and looking forward to our next Royal Caribbean cruise. (smaller ship though.)