Everyone who knows me well, knows I LOVE RCL and their beautiful ships. The staff on RCL ships have always been the greatest ~ happy and helpful ~ just fun to be with for a week. Explorer is every bit as beautiful and magnificent as advertised.....perhaps more so when you first see her sitting at the dock in Miami! Just an awesome sight that will forever stay with you. From the time we met RCL staff at the airport until we left the ship on our last day, they were the BEST. Our cabin steward was absolutely one of the nicest....Emanuel could not do enough for us 6 females. We always had ice in our ice buckets and cooler...he made fantastic animals out of towels for both cabins! No matter what time we left our cabins and no matter how soon we returned to them....they were made up! Our robes were always there and the beautiful big shells in each bathroom were always full of goodies for us! Needless to say, Emanuel received a great tip! We let him know just how much we appreciated him too ~ realize it is his job, but picking up for 6 females is no easy task! lol
Our first meal in Windjammer was good ~ muster drill went off without a problem. All our luggage arrived by 6PM (most before that) and we found that we had ample space for all our clothes and shoes. Having adjoining cabins is always a plus for the 6 of us....as is having the 2 balconies. Room service was delivered on time the first morning and we were able to get ready to visit downtown Nassau's straw market before we left on our scheduled tour ~swimming with the dolphins in Blue Lagoon. Danalyn, my adult daughter & my 2 nieces ~11 and 13, enjoyed this more than anything! Mom, my sister in law and I enjoyed watching them. It was an experience for all of us and the video of them is a happy remembrance of a perfect day. The boat ride to the dolphins was beautiful ~ Atlantis looks as grand as in all the magazines and as seen on TV.
Monday was our first day at sea. We had no problem finding 6 lounge chairs together and in a spot we wanted....of course 3 of us got up early to get them and the other 3 followed within 1/2 an hour. It was a very relaxing and fun day. RCL pools are salt water so always fresh and clean. We enjoyed them very much. We did notice that people are not dressing as formally as they used to - which is fine with us....to each their own as long as some codes are followed (ex:all men in at least suits). We are finding we enjoy the casual nights better ~ perhaps the novelty of wearing gowns and the time it takes to all get ready has worn off for us....whatever the reason, we like dressing more casual now....but on formal night did dress very formally.
Because we have cruised this itinerary so much, we decided not to take another excursion when we stopped inn St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. In St. Thomas we shopped in the AM and came back on the ship, ate and enjoyed the pool with a lot less people! In PR some went shopping while 3 of us stayed back to relax more around the pool. They were both fantastic days. The only reason my sister in law and nieces got off the ship in Labadee was to have the girls hair braided....we LOVE staying on the ship while others are off!
We had a blast in the pool that day! The pools were always clean as were the spas/hot tubs. Children seemed to be well controlled by their parents. Fun games around the pool were great as always....lots of fun people.
FOOD: Our first dinner did not impress any of us. Our waiter and assistant were very friendly but did not care for us as we had become accustomed to cruising on RCL ships. When the head waiter came over to introduce himself and ask what we thought, I told him. I also mentioned that I would be writing a review and posting it on the RCL board, AOL Cruise Critic board and also Cruisemates.com. The following evening our meat was cut, pepper was offered, never did they forget what drink to bring any of us!
The basket of rolls was always full ~ anything we wanted we got and in the friendliest way. Dinners were very enjoyable and we found that our food was better! (although not sure if that had anything to do with my saying I felt the steak was not up to RCL standards the first night). WINDJAMMMER~we found that they offered the same foods every day....in years past, they had more of a variety each day rather than the same ole' same ole'. Breakfast is breakfast ~ they offered just about anything and always good.
ROOM SERVICE: We had late seating ~ 8:30PM so found that about 4PM, when we got a little hungry ~ so we ordered room service and the food was very good. Usually would order a salad, some pizzas, cheese/fruit platter....by 8:30 we were ready for a good meal in the dining room.
SHOWS: RCL is known for it's fantastic shows and again they did not let us down. Do not miss the ice show! It is just fantastic. Bowzer (remember Sha-Na-Na?) came aboard in PR with his backup singers and dancers. His show was such fun, especially to those of us who were raised in the 50s or who love the 50s music. My niece (13) and I were selected to come on stage and we had a blast. My partner and I won the dance contest ~ he had me twirling upside down, on his hip, you name it and he had me swinging! My daughter was laughing so hard she was crying! Bowzer made sure I became an instant star and was noticed and applauded by so many during the rest of the cruise.....even I was embarrassed by the attention! ;o) It was fun....clean, good fun. Bowzer is one of the nicest and sincere people in show business. He made a point to come up to us at the pool as well as to our dinner table. He asked to autograph my shirt I won and posed while we took pictures. He made his way around others in the dining room, only to happy to give his autograph. It was a nice experience. We had met him on another RCL ship and walked with him on the deck ~he is a kind man.
Personally speaking: I have cruised most of the Mega RCL ships and have been on Voyager and now Explorer. I prefer the Mega size ships more. I will miss some of the extras on the Voyage size ships, but feel a few hundred less people is better. I have poor sense of direction, yet never got lost on Explorer....they lay out of these ships is wonderful. I won $90. in the casino ~ better than losing!
The CHAMBER (disco) is a MUST! An awesome disco. Ken Rush was his usual fun and friendly self ~ making the rounds and spending time with guest. The last evening he sat with Danalyn and Sandy for some time in the Chamber, just enjoying the evening and not talking cruise, etc.
INTERNET: We had the Internet connection in our cabin and found it more convenient than going to the library or computer room to e-mail. To do this, you have to make the arrangements ahead and take a laptop with you. The cost is $100. for unlimited for the week...and with 6 of us, that was a bargain!
One thing we found was that you must check your prices ~ a lot of new staff were on the ship and prices varied for the same product from place to place ~ ex: a drink.
If you have the opportunity to cruise on Explorer, do so....I can't see how anyone would have a bad experience.
Remember ~ this is my own personal opinion and experiences......Happy cruising! Hugs, Lindy
PS ~ this is dedicated to my Mother ~ NANNY ;o)