CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Explorer of the Seas Western Caribbean April 24, 2004

We purchased our own air travel and arrived in Miami the day before our cruise. We took the free shuttle to the Radisson Plaza Mart & Convention Center. This was a really nice place to start our vacation as the motel was very nice and there were over 300 little wholesale stores to shop in.

Embarkation: We took a cab to the port and arrived there at about 11:30 which was the perfect time to get there. We were on the ship in no time at all and having lunch at the Windjammer Buffet by 12:15. The food was very good and there was quite a nice selection. My husband especially loved the honey stung chicken, but only found it there on the first day.

Dining: We found the food to be very good in the Columbus dining room and our waiter Eduardo and assistant Giovanni were both excellent. We never had to wait for anything and we could order 2 entrees or extra desserts with no problem. They were also very entertaining and made us laugh quite often. We sat at a table with 2 other couples and a mother and daughter from Ireland. Everyone was very friendly and we all got along fine. We ate breakfast in the dining room once and it was very good. The other mornings we ate at the Windjammer Buffet with the exception of room service one morning. We ate lunch in the Windjammer each day and found the food to be really good. The salad was fresh and there was always a lot to choose from. I didn't think the desserts were quite as good as they looked. However, the home made cookies at the Promenade Café were out of this world. I stopped there just about once a day...which isn't a good thing. Johnny Rockets was terrific, we ate there twice. The onion rings are delicious as are the chili fries. Don't miss this stop for lunch or dinner.

Entertainment: We thoroughly enjoyed all of the entertainment. I thought the ventriloquist was excellent and the singers and dancers were very good. The ice show is awesome and hard to believe that these people can keep their balance while on a ship. We played the bingo for the cruise for two which was fun and exciting to think that we might win, but of course we didn't! The art auction was nice, although we didn't purchase anything. It was nice to learn about the art and a good way to stay out of the sun for a few hours. The pools were beautiful and lots of deck chairs. We had a difficult time finding chairs on one sea day, but we found a couple in the shade and later moved into a sunny area. Be sure to use sun screen with a high SPF if you don't want to burn. We used SPF 15 every day and got a burn every day. We do not have fair complexions either!! The band "Heat Wave" was truly entertaining; we enjoyed that as often as we could. The Kruise Komics were really a lot of fun and very friendly. Be sure to see the parades on the Royal Promenade, they were a lot of fun. I always had fun shopping in the little shops and at the sidewalk sales each night.

Ports of call: Nassau: This was a substitute port, as we were supposed to go to Labadee, but with the unrest in Haiti they stopped in the Bahamas instead. We stayed on the ship in Nassau as we had been there on our first cruise and didn't really enjoy it. Its great being on the ship at the different ports as there is hardly anybody around the pool. Had a nice relaxing day by the pool and never regretted not getting off.

Jamaica: I loved Jamaica! I thought it was just beautiful there! We did the Best of Ocho Rios tour and had a great time. We first stopped at a garden area with a 40' water fall and had a lot of fun with our tour guide Michelle. She was so cute and could really bat those eyes. We then went on to Dunns River Falls. That was beautiful; however we did not actually climb the falls. We did go into the water in different areas of the falls. My husband and I both have bad knees and were afraid that the climb might make us miserable for the rest of our trip. It did look like people were having a lot of fun; although we did see a few people fall down. Everybody holds hands as they climb with a tour guide. It seems as if everyone is trying to help the next person up the falls. Be sure to take a waterproof camera if you go. Our next stop was the Island Village, which was a neat little market area with a Bob Marley museum, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville and a lot of little stores and a beach. We only had about 1 hour there before our tour would take us back to the port. We had a meal of jerk chicken with beans and rice which was delicious. We never made it to Margaritaville. It would be nice to spend a little more time here, as it was relaxing with nobody bothering you to buy their wares, like at the Dunns River Falls. There was a little shopping area as you exit the falls and the locals are selling their things and are very pushy. We just walked right through there and didn't stop to look at one thing.

Grand Cayman: I thought the port was a little bit commercialized, not that impressive to me. Everything in the stores was priced pretty high. But we booked the Stingray City Swim and Snorkel tour thru the ship and loved it. The water was so gorgeous, you can't even begin to explain it and the stingrays were pretty cool. They would swim right underneath you and you could pet them. Our tour guide gave us a few lessons on petting them and also feeding them. I had my picture taken while holding one! The only letdown was that the only snorkeling you do is in 3 feet of water at Stingray City Sandbar! But, this was a wonderful tour and as I said the water was beautiful and it was pretty neat to be out in the middle of the ocean in 3 feet of water. I would've liked to snorkel in another area and see the Stingrays. There is a tour available for that, but you don't go to the sandbar to see the Stingrays, you will be in 12' of water.

Cozumel: This was lovely, although pretty hot and humid. It was a little scary to see the guards with rifles near our ship. We did not do a tour here, but took a $6.00 taxi ride to the downtown area for shopping. Things were definitely a lot cheaper here than in Grand Cayman. Lots of t-shirts and lots of silver jewelry. We bought a lot of souvenirs here. We had lunch at an open air café, which was okay. I think it was called Palmera's. It wasn't anything great, but was okay.

Overall: This was our second cruise. The first was on Carnival for 4 days and we loved it, but this was unbelievable. We can't think of one thing that we were unhappy with on this cruise. The ship is awesome. We were in awe from day one. It is huge, beautiful and a wonderful place to take a vacation. The ship was sold out with over 3,000 guests and 1,200 or so staff and you never felt crowded. We never waited in line, except once or twice in the ladies restrooms, which is normal. There were a lot of kids on board, but they were never a bother. We would highly recommend this cruise to everyone. It has so much to offer, although we didn't do the rock climbing, ice skating, mini golf or many of the other things it has to offer. The ship is truly a vacation in itself. You are guaranteed to have a lot of fun on this ship.

Mary R.

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