CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Explorer of the Seas by kicker Western Caribbean February 14, 2004

Our family of four (14 yr ol daughter, 15 year old son) cruised on Explorer of the Seas on 2/14/04. 2nd cruise for my wife & I {20 yrs ago!}; first for the kids). My overall impressions: nothing at all negative to say; everything was great (we did miss Labadee because of Haiti unrest; Caymans because of rough seas; not Royal Caribbean's fault).

RC arranged our flights from Rochester, NY to Miami (next cruise I think I'd fly the day before just to ensure arrival, although we were lucky and had no connecting problems). I thought we'd have to wait on the dock but we were able to board as soon as we arrived (12PM); boarding procedure took less than 15 minutes.

WE had an inside cabin for the four of us; 2 pullman beds that folded to the wall when not sleeping. The room had everything we needed and was extremely clean and well kept, as was the entire ship. I didn't see a lot of our Room Steward, Erich (my kids did), but he did his job and was there whenever we needed something (When we got to our room a light bulb was out; we told ERich and it was replaced within 15 minutes).

Most reviews will tell you how beautiful the ship is. I won't go into details, but we were all highly impressed with the facilities and the cleanliness. One other note on the room: we truly were only in it when we slept, but in talking to other families, we probably could have had 2 rooms for nearly the same price. Check out the cost difference; the extra room would've been nice, but wasn't really necessary.

Food Review: Our waiter (waitress?) in the main dining room was Bettina from Romania, assisted by Sebastian. They were both wonderful. My wife and I had planned on dining one night at Portofino, but Bettina was too nice and accomodating, so we ate dinner there every night except Thursday, when we went shopping in Cozumel. That night we ate at the Windjammer; I was surprised to see some of the main menu items on the buffet. Breakfast was standard buffet fare; nothing spectacular, but plentiful with a good assortment each day. Tons of fresh fruit, plain scrambled eggs and enhanced scrambled (ham one day, mushrooms another); omellettes made to order. Plenty of cookies, desserts and sandwiches always available at the Cafe Promenade; Johnny Rockets was convenient when spending the day at the pools or for late snacks.

Entertainment: I've read reviews panning the singers and dancers. I don't know what people expect; we all thought they were great! There was an acrobatic duo (Duo Claudio), a comedy juggling team, two wonderful comedians, and on Thursday night the original Drifters (Under the Boardwalk; Save the Last Dance For Me). I couldn't have expected better. Our daughter took in most shows with us; my son was usually busy meeting friends and doing other things (like living in the arcade, where he actually won a medal for competition). Another neat feature: when we told our son about the comedians or shows, he was able to see them on tv (they rebroadcast the shows later at night). By the way, one tv station was usually a fixed camera on the Promenade. If anyone else was on the ship that week, that was my daughter and then my son doing a break dance routine in the middle of the Promenade on Sunday night while the other 3 of us watched hilariously from our room!

Shore excursions were great. I'm 50 years old but I did at least 3 things I've never done before, which were: climb a waterfall, ride a horse in the ocaen, kiss a dolphin. Truly unique experiences, never to be forgotten. My wife and daughter enjoyed shopping in Ocho Rios and Cozumel. One bummer: my wife packed some jewelry she'd bought in a suitcase for the trip home. The jewelry disappeared (99% sure it happened at Miami Airport). They took the good stuff and left some cheaper items, although the diamonique earrings fooled them. With travel insurance we will probably recoup some of the cost. When you travel, KEEP EVERYTHING VALUABLE IN YOUR CARRY-ONS!! We learned the hard way.

I could go on and on talking about how impressed we all were, but you can get the idea by now. A few other notes: our kids played volleyball and basketball and participated in some other organized activities. The kid's programs were good, just so much to do, so little time. I think younger kids (5 to 10?) and their families will have the best memories judging by the video we bought summarizing the cruise. And a big Canadian hello and best wishes to out table mates, Ken and Laurie from Kingston, Ontario who were great company at dinner and all the other times we met up with them on the boat.

Did we enjoy the trip? When we got home one of the first things we did was get out the RC book and look at where we could go next year. I would recommend this boat and RC to anyone of any age. We truly loved it.


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