CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews


Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Explorer of the Seas Eastern Caribbean June 09, 2001

PREVIOUS CRUISES This cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Explorer of the Seas was my eleventh over all. It was my second cruise with Royal Caribbean, and the second on a Voyager-class ship. My previous cruises include Premier's Big Red Boat Oceanic to the Bahamas; Celebrity's Zenith to the Western Caribbean; Majesty's Royal Majesty (currently NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to Bermuda; Holland America's Veendam to the Eastern Caribbean; Holland America's Westerdam to the Eastern Caribbean; Princess' Crown Princess to Alaska (Vancouver to Seward); Carnival's Carnival Destiny to the Western Caribbean; Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas to the Western Caribbean; Carnival's Elation to the Mexican Riviera; and Carnival's Carnival Victory to the Eastern Caribbean.

MISSING THE SHIP Our whole cruise had a very stressful and disappointing beginning unfortunately. Due to work constraints, we had fly to Miami the day of the cruise...this turned out to be a complete mistake. We live in Houston, Texas, and over that particular weekend, our area received torrential rainfall (43 inches in 3 days) and massive flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Allison. Our flight to Ft. Lauderdale was scheduled to leave at 7:00 am from Houston Hobby Airport. We anticipated on having a few problems getting to the airport, but we had no idea it would be as difficult as it turned out to be. After trying to get to the airport via every major freeway in the Houston area, we discovered that they were all flooded. At this point (around 9 am), desperation set in, and we eventually made it to the airport by using back roads at around 10:30 am - at thirty-minute drive ended up taking us six and a half hours to complete. Needless to say, Houston was a complete disaster area. Our flight that we thought we were late for had been cancelled, and we were told that only four flights would be able to leave. We caught the last flight out of Houston right before they closed the airport, and luckily Southwest's Florida flight, which eventually got to Ft. Lauderdale via New Orleans and Tampa. Throughout the course of the day, I kept in touch with Royal Caribbean representatives, my travel agent, and the cruise insurance company, keeping them advised on our delayed status. As we were making our final descent into Ft. Lauderdale, around 5:30 pm, I looked out of my window towards Miami only to see the Explorer sailing out of Government Cut without us. Royal Caribbean representatives met us at the gate to confirm the bad news - we were too late. The RCI reps then led us to the American Airlines ticket counter where we booked a flight immediately to Nassau, where the Explorer would be the following day. As we were booking our flights, the Royal Caribbean representative called and booked us a hotel room at the Marriott Crystal Palace Resort on Cable Beach in Nassau. I wish I could remember the RCI representative's name because she did everything in her power to assist us in getting to Nassau the next day. The whole fact that the Explorer did not wait for us did upset us quite a bit. There were overall 10-15 people on our flight from Houston who also missed the Explorer. On probably 75% of our other cruises, we have waited for at least an hour or two for late flights, but I guess they didn't hold the ship since we booked our air transportation on our own. Anyways, during our flight over to Nassau, we actually flew right over the Explorer...it was both an impressive and depressing sight at the same time. We landed in Nassau at around 8:30 pm, and took a Taxi to the Marriott Resort, which was very, very nice. We awoke at around 7:30 the next morning to see the Explorer docked in the distance. As we were getting ready to leave for the port, we watched Carnival's Fascination sail out of Nassau. We arrived at the ship at around 9 am, went to talk to security about our dilemma - they were expecting us, so we went to check in at the Purser's desk, which took about ten minutes, and then boarded the ship. Someone came down to take our luggage to the room. It was a very stressful and exhausting start to our cruise, but Royal Caribbean handled it the best they could I suppose. Our cruise on the Explorer just started out with an adventure I guess. I just wish RCI could have held the ship for even an hour like many lines normally do for late passengers.

THE EXPLORER The Explorer of the Seas, along with her sister ship, is the largest ship in the world. Weighing in with a gross tonnage of 138,000 tons (though it is published as being 142,000 tons), and spanning 1020 feet, the Explorer creates quite an imposing presence when in port. Since we had sailed on the Voyager of the Seas last summer, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect when we boarded the Explorer. When I entered the ship however, I once again was just in awe of the ship - just as I was as I boarded the Voyager. The Explorer is truly an amazing and completely impressive ship. Words really cannot describe this ship; I guess one just has to experience these ships for themselves. The Voyager class ships are the most beautiful and well thought out ships at sea in my opinion. There are a few differences between the Voyager and Explorer however. On the Explorer, all the bars and lounges are in the same place, but many of them have different designs within the bar or lounge. The most notable changes occur in the Chamber Nightclub, Cafe Promenade, and the addition of an arcade and foosball tables along the Royal Promenade, adjacent to the Weekend Warrior sports bar instead of the Spinner's Casino that occupies that space on the Voyager. Of these little differences, I appreciated the change in the Cafe Promenade and the deletion of Spinner's in this 'new' ship design. Cafe Promenade has a more open feel on the Explorer with the addition of dozens of tables that line the Royal Promenade instead of barstools. One thing that I missed was the circular skylight on the Voyager that went from the top of the Royal Promenade up to the pool deck - this was lacking on the Explorer. Also, the impressive chandelier in the dining room of the Voyager is absent on her sister ship. Despite these differences, the Explorer is still just a beautiful ship. She has a more colorful feel than the Voyager did. As I previously stated, words really cannot describe this beautiful ship, but I will try my best to cover the highlights of the public areas that grace the Explorer of the Seas. Down on deck two is the Screening Room and Conference Center. Periodically throughout the course of the cruise, movies are shown in the Screening Room. On Deck 3 is the first floor of the Palace Theatre, the Chamber Nightclub, Studio B, the Photo Gallery, RCTV, and the first floor of the dining room: the Magellan Dining Room. The Palace Theatre itself is very impressive. It is absolutely huge! The sightlines are very good from most places, but up on the balcony, you may get behind a pole. The Chamber was great, it was decorated in a gothic theme, but it had a completely different design than the Vault on the Voyager of the Seas - there is no bridge across the dance floor in the Chamber. Studio B is the ship's ice rink, and being in there just makes one in awe that they are actually aboard a cruise ship. It is a very impressive room. The Dining Room is beautiful. It is three stories, and the staircase is reminiscent of the Titanic's Grand Staircase. Huge circular windows line the walls on deck three while expansive walls of glass create a beautiful view in the dining room on decks 4 and 5. On deck 4, there is the balcony entrance to the Palace Theatre, the upstairs entrance to the Chamber, the Schooner Bar, Casino Royale, the Aquarium Bar, the University of Miami Ocean Lab Kiosks, the outside promenade deck that wraps completely around the ship, and the second floor of the dining room: the De Gamma Dining Room. Every night in the Schooner Bar, a pianist played popular songs, and attracted a large crowd who joined in for sing alongs. Casino Royale is huge! It is the largest casino afloat. Up on Deck 5 are Maharaja's Lounge, The Royal Promenade, and the third floor of the dining room: the Columbus Dining Room. Maharaja's was a smaller show lounge, and the home to many bingo games and karaoke nights. The Royal Promenade is the heart of the ship. It is a street with many lounges, bars, and shops. On either side of it is a Centrum (or atrium). The forward Centrum goes from deck 2 up to 12, and it is capped with a skylight through which tons of sunlight pours through. The Aft or Main Centrum soars from Deck 3 to Deck 14. Located on the Royal Promenade are Cafe Promenade, Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar, the Crown & Kettle Pub, the arcade, the Weekend Warrior Sports Bar, the Explorations Shore Excursion Desk, the Purser's Desk, the Champagne Bar, and several shops such as the Royal Caribbean Logo Shop, the Liquor store, a Tommy Hilfiger shop, a jewelry shop, perfume shop, and a few others. All together, there are six stores along the Royal Promenade. Deck 6 consists mainly of cabins, and then along the main Centrum, there is Business Services. Here, there are several neat models of RCI ships as well as a cruise consultant who books future cruises for passengers. Deck 7 is all cabins except for the Library, which is right above Business Services. Deck 8 is the same, but Royal Caribbean Online, the Internet facility is right above the library. Decks 9 and 10 are all cabins, and there is a Concierge Lounge on Deck 9 for passengers in suites, category B and higher. Deck 11 is home to the Shipshape spa and gym, the peek-a-boo bridge, the Solarium Pool, the Main Pool area, Portofino, the Windjammer, and Island Grille. The spa and gym are just expansive facilities; some of the nicest at sea. The Solarium is the pool for passengers 16 and older only. It is quieter in here, but it often got really humid and steamy. There was the solarium pool in here along with two large hot tubs that must have been able to hold 20 people. The main pool area consists of two bars, two huge pools, two regular sized hot tubs, and one large hot tub. There is plenty of deck space around the pool for sunning, as deck 11 and 12 are terraced together to provide even more deck space for extra deck chairs. Portofino, of course is the ship's alternative restaurant. Windjammer and Island Grille are the ship's two buffet restaurants. Up on Deck 12 are more of the Shipshape spa, lots of deck area for sunning, the jogging track, Johnny Rockets', the Optix Teen Disco, the Challenger's Arcade, and the Adventure Ocean Kids Facilities. Johnny Rockets' is a popular 50's diner chain restaurant, and it is very unique to see on board a ship. The Challenger's Arcade is huge! There are dozens of arcade games, and air hockey. The Adventure Ocean Kids Facilities take up so much space...I never went in them, but they kept little kids busy; they always wanted to be there! Never has so much space on a ship been devoted to kid's facilities...it practically takes up half of a deck! Deck 13 forward is the University of Miami Labs, and aft is the Sport's Area. Here, there is a 9-hole putt-putt golf course, a regulation-sized basketball and volleyball court, an inline skating track, and a couple golf simulators. The putt-putt golf course is very challenging, especially when the wind is blowing at sea! Basketball and Volleyball games were taking place all afternoon. Up on deck 14 are the rock-climbing wall that ascends up the back of the funnel, and the Viking Crown Lounge. The Viking Crown consists of the 19th Hole Sports Bar, Dizzy's Jazz Club, the Observatory, Heart's Cardroom, and one other lounge used for private receptions. Great views of the ocean and pool area were available from the Viking Crown. Finally, on Deck 15 is the Skylight Chapel which is used for church services and weddings performed on board. Overall, the Explorer is just an awesome ship. Words really do not do this ship justice-you really just have to see this ship to believe it!

CABINS On this cruise, we had two cabins for our family. My sister and I were in cabin 7227, a category N Inside cabin on the forward, starboard side of deck seven. My parents were in cabin 7364, a category D7 balcony stateroom on the starboard side of Deck 7, aft. Our two cabins were separated by about 700 feet, so I rarely spent time in their cabin except for a few nights before dinner out on their balcony. It was an identical room to the D9 cabin we had last summer on the Voyager of the Seas. I did notice that the balcony was actually larger than the balcony we had on the Carnival Victory three months ago. Now, for my inside cabin. The room itself is quite spacious...plenty of room and storage for two people. The sleeping area can be divided off from the rest of the cabin with a curtain. Besides the two twin beds, there was a small sofa and coffee table. Actually, the sofa was almost miniature...I felt like a giant sitting in it. Through the use of several mirrors in the room, it seemed much bigger than it was in reality. The bathroom was adequate size, and the shower had a sliding glass door instead of the annoying shower curtains. During all times of the day or night, if you turn off the lights, it is pitch black in the cabin...there are NO signs of daylight whatsoever, so I found that a wakeup call was necessary if I wanted to wake up before noon. All in all, the cabin was very comfortable, I never felt cramped, and it was much more pleasing to the with its colors than the only other outside cabin I have had, last summer on the Elation.

SERVICE I cannot say enough about the service we received in every aspect of this cruise. Our room steward, Lockhardt from St. Vincent was great. He went out of his way to make sure he did our room. Even though his shift ended at 11:00am, he waited on several occasions to make up my room when I slept past noon. He always kept the ice bucket full and the room very clean. He always greeted me in the hallway with a smile and a high five. We were seated on the third floor, back in the Cortes Dining Room by a huge window. The Cortes Dining Room is not part of the main dining room, and it is not near as pretty, but for some reason, we got stuck back here. However, we decided not to move because we were seated at a great table for ten, and we could not have had a better wait staff. Our waiter, Rao from India was outstanding. He very well may have been the best waiter we have ever encountered on a cruise. Rao was very professional; he flawlessly and quickly took our orders and delivered our food. He also was happy to comply with our every wish, going out of his way to make sure that we had the best dining experience possible. One night when my mom was sick and could not come to dinner, he even offered to bring dinner up to the room for her himself! Rao's assistant, Dante (from the Philippines) was without a doubt, the most attentive and best assistant waiter we have EVER had on a cruise. Dante apparently has been with Royal Caribbean for thirteen years, but never wanted to take on the job of waiter. As a result, he is the best assistant waiter I have ever seen. After the first night we ate in the dining room, he had all of our drinks memorized. Yes, most assistant waiters do pick up on what you like to drink, but it is sometimes rare for them to remember after one night of dinner. Though he rarely talked, Dante's service was impeccable, and I cannot get over how well we were treated by our wait staff in the dining room. Unlike other cruises, we NEVER felt rushed out of the dining room, even when we stayed until 8:00 - only fifteen minutes before late seating started. As a result, we had very pleasant, relaxed dinners. Service around the rest of the ship was also outstanding. The crew's morale seemed quite good, and the service they provided was first rate. Last summer on the Voyager, we had our favorite bar waiter, Phyllis from Jamaica, and ironically, our favorite bar waiter on the Explorer was his brother! All in all, the service on this ship is really amazing considering how many people were on board. On my two cruises with Royal Caribbean, the service has some of the best I have received on any ship.

FOOD You will not go hungry on the Explorer. Breakfast is available every morning in Cafe Promenade, the main dining room, Windjammer, and Island Grille. Croissants, pastries, bagels, coffee, and juice are served every morning in Cafe Promenade. I ate in the main dining room only once, on the last morning. The food was pretty good, but not as good as the breakfast was last year on the Voyager of the Seas. Breakfast service in the dining room that morning was a bit slow and spotty, but nonetheless, it was acceptable. Most of the mornings, I ate breakfast in the Windjammer and Island Grille. The Island Grille, in the back, usually had a much shorter line than the Windjammer. Here, standard buffet breakfasts were served, along with a made to order omelet bar. The omelets were excellent, as were the waffles with strawberry toppings! Lunch was available on the Explorer at Cafe Promenade, the main dining room, the Windjammer, Island Grille, and Johnny Rockets'. After 11:30 am, Cafe Promenade offers Pizza and small sandwiches for the rest of the day until the following day's breakfast. The readily available pizza was often hard to pass up as I was walking through the Royal Promenade. Pizza was very tasty - it's almost as good as the pizza on Carnival! Though I never ate lunch in the main dining room, I heard that it was excellent, just as it was last summer on the Voyager. Buffet Lunch was available every afternoon up in the Windjammer and Island Grille. Each buffet line featured an array of hot and cold entrees and pasta, plus the Island Grille featured hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza in addition to everything else. Food on the buffets was very good, and never cold. There were also small stations with hamburgers and fixing's around the pool. The one lunch I had up in Johnny Rockets' was excellent. I'd suggest arriving there early (around 11:30 am) to avoid lines here. Service here was great, as was the food. A very enjoyable feature on the Explorer was the self-serve soft ice cream and yogurt. There was an ice cream station on the Royal Promenade with a toppings bar that was open practically 24 hours. It was probably the most used feature of the entire ship! Ice cream machines were also located up on the pool deck and back in the Windjammer and Island Grille Restaurants. Dinner was available on the Explorer in the main dining room, Windjammer, Johnny Rockets, and Portofino - the alternative restaurant that was reservation only and $20 per person. We ate all of our dinners in the main dining room. Food here ranged from very good to excellent. The appetizers were very good, as were the soups. The Caesar salads were outstanding. Pasta was very good, and the entrees were excellent. I ordered multiple entrees most nights, and they were delivered with no problem. The best meal of the week was the lobster. They were huge, juicy lobster tails, and Rao brought us second and third helpings without us even asking for them! One thing I did notice was that Royal Caribbean has changed the menu up from last summer when we were on the Voyager. I really appreciated this. On another cruise line (Carnival), we have done three or four cruises with them in the last two years, and the menu has not changed AT ALL!! I like some variety in the food I get from cruise to cruise, so I enjoyed the different menu. Overall, the food on board the ship was outstanding - I really couldn't have asked for more.

GYM Well, I ended up working out EVERYDAY on this cruise. The gym facilities are very complete on the Explorer. There are dozens of treadmills and stair machines. I used the weights. There are free weights with three benches, along with about 20 resistance weight machines. I enjoyed working out in here, especially with the view. Although the gym is very nice and very adequate for the ship, I still do not think it compares to the gyms found on board Carnival Victory, Triumph, and Destiny. There is certainly enough exercise equipment on the Explorer; a very comparable amount to the Destiny-class ships, but I just like Carnival's layout better for the gyms. Those are my favorite gyms on board any ship. The jogging track on the Explorer circles the pool deck, and it can really only be used in the mornings and evenings since during the day it is partially littered with deck chairs. Five times around this track equals a mile. If I had a choice, the place where I would run would be the complete wrap-around Promenade Deck on Deck 4. It goes from bow to stern, and is a one-mile run in only two and a half laps!

ACTIVITIES This is what sets the Explorer of the Seas and her sister apart from EVERY other ship at sea. One could not even come close to doing everything on this ship in one week. You can do anything...from bingo to ice skating to golf to rock climbing, to just plain relaxing. This ship has so much to offer - it is truly a floating 5-star resort. The Royal Promenade allows for there to be three parades during the week right through the heart of the ship! No ship in service today can come close to topping the Explorer and Voyager in this category, and I think that other, larger ships in the future will be hard pressed to have more activities than this class of ships.

INTERNET ACCESS Internet access is available in Royal Caribbean Online, above the Library on Deck 8. There are 16 computer stations here. With your supercharge cards, you can access your email or the internet for $.50 per minute - a very reasonable rate compared to some other ships with internet service today. If you have a laptop, in cabin, unlimited Internet connection is available for $100 a week I believe.

ENTERTAINMENT The Cruise Director, Ken Rush, and his staff of 124 entertainers lined up a very enjoyable and memorable week for us. Ken is one of my favorite cruise directors. We had him last year on the Voyager, and I actually enjoyed him more this year on the Explorer. We will probably have him again next summer when we sail the Adventure of the Seas as he is scheduled to be on board that ship starting upon its delivery. Anyways, the entertainment on this ship is second to none. The production shows were quite good; the comedians were excellent; and the singers were great too. There were different bands, singers, and orchestras that performed nightly all around the ship. DO NOT miss the Ice Show down in Studio B. It was the best show we have ever seen on any ship. These skaters were very talented, and the stunts they pulled were amazing...it was hard to believe that this was happening on a cruise ship. There are five performances of the Ice Show during the cruise, and tickets for the shows are to be obtained during the afternoon the ship is in Nassau. Overall, entertainment was truly first rate; among the best I have seen.

NIGHTLIFE The nightlife on this ship can easily compare to Carnival's. There is so much nightlife on this ship! There are several clubs throughout the ship such as Dizzy's Jazz Club up in the Viking Crown Lounge, the pianist and sing along in the Schooner Bar, the Casino Royale, karaoke in Maharaja's, and of course the nightclub in the Chamber. On several nights, there are theme nights like the 50's/60's sock hop, the Latin Fiesta, and Toga Night. The Casino was going strong until the early morning. The Chamber was open pretty much ALL night. One night I was in there until 5 am, and it never closed! This surprised me considering that on my other cruises (even Carnival), they close the disco at 3 am. A great thing is, whenever you feel a tad bit hungry, there is always pizza still available at Cafe Promenade! The amount of nightlife on this ship is really impressive, and it is not at all a letdown if one is used to the nightlife on Carnival.

WHO GOES? Everyone! Families, teens, college-aged kids, honeymooners, couples, singles, and older people are found all throughout the ship. On this class of ships, there are a lot more families than on the other RCI ships since the Voyager and Explorer are primarily marketed towards that type of client. There were several high-school graduation groups as well as college-age groups on this cruise. I'd say the average age was about 35-40...just a guess.

EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION Well, since I did not experience the embarkation procedure in Miami, I cannot really comment on it. Like I said, embarkation in Nassau went as smooth as it could have I suppose. Disembarkation was a breeze. Our group was called to disembark at 7:30 am...this came as a surprise to us since it was so early, and we didn't end up getting off the ship until 8:15. We were at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale by 9:15. It was very impressive how smoothly and quickly they got everyone off the ship considering that there were more than 3,500 passengers that week. I think all other cruise lines need to take notes to how Royal Caribbean handles their disembarkation procedures, because we got off quickly on the Voyager too, and I still find it amazing that we got off the ship so fast when I have stayed on board until 11 on ships half the size of Explorer. They really can't improve this procedure in my opinion!

SEVEN NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN ITENERARY This was my fourth trip to the Eastern Caribbean. I had been on a similar itinerary last March on the Carnival Victory, so I knew all the ports. This cruise was taken purely for the ship. The following is a day-by-day summary of our week on board the Explorer of the Seas.

SATURDAY, JUNE 09, 2001 Miami, Florida

Well, we missed the ship, I wrote about it earlier, so I will spare everyone the repetition.

SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2001 Nassau, Bahamas 7:00am - 2:30 pm *Also in port was Carnival's Fascination

Today, as I previously stated, we boarded the ship at around 9 am. After unpacking in the room, I went walking around to acquaint myself with the ship. We had a great lunch at Johnny Rockets'. I then went out to the very bow of the ship to watch us sail away from Nassau. The rest of the day I spent just walking around the ship and working out before I went to dinner. I then set out to meet some new people, went by the Chamber, and eventually called it a night. Dress: Formal

MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2001 At Sea

I started off the day by working out up in the gym, then breakfast. I then hung out by the pool for a few hours and had lunch. I then played basketball and putt-putt golf for the rest of the afternoon. I went to dinner, hung out around the ship, and then headed to the Chamber. Dress: Smart Casual

TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2001 St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. 7:00 am - 6:00 pm *Also in port was Carnival's Carnival Triumph

Today, I woke up, had breakfast, and headed off the ship to see the impressive sight of these two mammoth ships docked right next to each other. These two ships represent two of the three largest classes of cruise ships ever built, and it was just awesome to see them docked next to each other. I went into town with my dad to do some shopping...yeah, that lasted a whole 15 minutes before I headed back to the ship. I got back, worked out and had lunch. We then went to Studio B to meet our tour group. We opted for the two-tank certified dive. We were on a very nice dive boat with a group of about twenty people. It took us to a dive sight off of Buck Island where there was a nice reef and mini-wall. It was about a 65-foot dive, and quite enjoyable. The second dive was about a half mile off the Marriott Resort, near the entrance to Charlotte Amalie Harbor. It was a 35-foot dive of a wreck of two naval barges. Here, we saw a ton of fish, and a HUGE, ten foot Nurse Shark. This was the first shark I have ever seen diving, so I thought it was pretty cool! The diving excursion was great - well worth the $85. We went back to the ship, showered and I took a nap. I headed to dinner and the ice show, hung out with some friends and headed to the Chamber for a while before going to bed. Dress: Casual

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2001 San Juan, Puerto Rico 7:00 am - 2:00 pm *Also in port was Carnival's Paradise

This, as always, was my least favorite port of call simply because I think it is just like another Miami - I think it should be used only as a port of embarkation, and not as a port of call, but that's just my opinion. We woke up this morning and ate breakfast. As we ate, we couldn't help but realize that we were looking down onto the pool of the Paradise, docked next to us. As we went to shore, I realized how large the Explorer was. Last summer I sailed the Elation - Paradise's sister, and it was by no means a small ship, but it was dwarfed by the Explorer. We walked around Old San Juan for a bit before heading back to the ship. I ate lunch, and then laid out by the pool until we departed at around 2:00. I then went to work out, and just laid out by the pool some more until dinner. After dinner, I went to the show, and did the normal: hung out and went to the Chamber! Dress: Formal

THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2001 Labadee, Haiti 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

This was my favorite port on the cruise. We tendered in at around 9:45. There are five beaches on this island. The most crowded ones are the ones right by the tender pier, but the further of a walk, the less people there are at the peaces. We went to hide away beach, got some chairs, and we were set. I went on a snorkel for about an hour, and then laid out for a bit. We went to one of the pavilions for a nice, BBQ lunch, and then went back to the beach. Before heading back to the ship, I made a quick walk by the marketplace. I tendered back to the ship, worked out, and slept the rest of the afternoon until dinner. After dinner, I did the usual... Dress: Casual

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2001 At Sea

Ohhhhh no, the last day! Today was another very relaxing day. I spent most of it by the pool, playing basketball, and working out. I made the smart decision to pack during the afternoon so I would have the night free to do anything I wanted to do. At dinner, we said goodbye to our great tablemates from Florida and Rhode Island. Afterwards, I hung out with some of my new friends, and said goodbye to them after the night at the Chamber was over. Dress: Casual

SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2001 Miami, Florida Docked: 2:00 am; Debarkation begins: 7:30 am *Also in port was Carnival's Carnival Triumph

We docked very early this morning, at around 2. I woke up at around 7, and we headed up to the Windjammer to get breakfast, but because it was so crowded since EVERYONE on the ship was there, we decided to have sit-down breakfast in the main dining room. Right after we ordered our food, at 7:30, the first group was called to get off the ship (and that was our group). We didn't rush, finished our breakfast and then got off the ship at around 8:15. We proceeded to the baggage carousel and retrieved our bags, went through customs, and got a cab. Took the cab to Ft. Lauderdale Airport for $55. Since we had a 3:00 flight, we spent the afternoon with family in Coral Springs, and then caught our flight back home to Houston.

ODDS & ENDS

  • At most ports that I can remember, they X-rayed luggage, and took up alcohol, and gave it back at the end of the week.
  • While the Palace Theatre was beautiful, if you sat in the front it took a LONG time to exit the place after the shows. Some type of stairs connecting the main level with the lower balcony is badly needed.
  • The University of Miami's Scientific Labs and Kiosks are located on Deck 4, on both sides of the Aquarium Bar, and up on Deck 13.
  • Everyone I heard from loved Portofino. I would recommend that you eat in the Main Dining Room though on formal nights, because this is when the best food is.
  • Sunday night is fillet mignon; Wednesday night is lobster.
  • On the days we were sailing in route to St. Thomas, the wind up on deck was almost unbearable. It was very calm after we had hit St. Thomas and started sailing north again.
  • Don't try to do everything on the cruise compass...there's no way you will ever be able to.
  • Ice skating sessions are available mainly on the sea days...they need to offer more sessions when in port.
  • The only charges at Johnny Rockets' are for soft drinks and shakes.
  • You can do almost everything on RCTV, the program in your cabins. You can check your supercharge card balance, book shore excursions, order room service, order movies, and many other things. It was extremely convenient and easy.
  • It always seemed that I was waiting for elevators. There are 14 of them on the ship (6 forward and 8 midship/aft). I think RCI may want to add some more elevators on the next ships in this class, and maybe even a whole other bank of stairs further aft.
  • I cannot stress enough how much of a good idea it is to purchase travel insurance. This trip would have gotten extremely expensive if we did not buy it.
  • Travel the day before your cruise if at all possible...missing the ship is not a fun thing at all.
  • Shorter lines are always found in the Island Grille...it seems that most people waited in the first buffet line they saw, the Windjammer.
  • Go into the cruise with a positive attitude no matter what, and you'll have a great time...even if you do miss the ship!

    IN CONCLUSION... It is no coincidence that my two best cruises have both been on RCI and on Voyager-class ships. The Explorer and her sister offer so much more than any other cruise ship afloat today. Pretty much everything on the Explorer from food to entertainment to the ship itself was first rate. I could not have asked for anything better. Despite the disappointing beginning to our trip, we had a great cruise, and we are looking into booking the next Voyager-class ship: Adventure of the Seas next summer when it is sailing from San Juan to the Southern Caribbean. So far, Royal Caribbean has been my favorite cruise line, and the Voyager-class ships have been far-and-away my favorite ships. I cannot wait to cruise one of them again!

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