There were 27 of us who went to the Western Caribbean on the Explorer of the Seas. Overall, it was a fabulous vacation. We ranged in age from 1 to 74. The kids, most in the 6-10 range, loved the activities of the ship and were out quite late each night with their camp.
I wasn't thrilled about going back to Jamaica but was pleasantly surprised. We went to Margaritaville and had a wonderful time, without being hounded by vendors. It is a short walk off the pier, with shops, bar, beach and pool. For the price of a drink, you can use the beach with a floating trampoline and the pool with a slide. Umbrellas, chairs and floats can be rented for a fee of $5 each. We had lunch there and the food was very good and reasonable. They also have live music and dancing.
We also went to a beach club in Cozumel called Playa del Sol. It was a short cab ride from the pier and for $32 a person (group rate we negotiated, regular price is $39) we received chairs, umbrellas, towels, mats, snorkeling gear, food and all drinks (including alcohol). The beach was clean, the Margarita's were decent, food so-so, shops, music, pool, floating trampolines, floating rock climbing, paddle boats, kayaks and good snorkeling made for a great day.
The ship is the most beautiful one I have ever cruised on (8 previous cruises) and the entertainment was superb. The major complaint we had was with a shore excursion in Cayman. I had been there on two previous cruises, and I highly recommended the combination reef and ray snorkeling trip. All of us were highly disappointed in it this time. We waited over an hour in the hot sun to be picked up by the vans, then we waited another ½ hour to board the boat. The boat held 250 people ( previous boats I went on had 20-30 people) therefore, it took 20 minutes to get in the water and another 20 minutes to get out. While in the water, you frequently received someone's flipper in the face. We looked like survivors of the Titanic floating in the sea. At the rays, we were unable to walk on the sandbar. They took us to twelve feet of water. It was a wasted day and RC only gave a $20 refund to three of us who complained, ignoring the rest of us.
The other complaint I had with RC was the price increases. On my previous cruise with RC in November of 2003, soda cards were much cheaper and the corking fee for bringing your own wine to dinner was $8. A week of soda's is over $40 and the wine charge is $12.