This was our very first cruise for my wife and I and it was just so much fun! What an experience!
We did Western Caribbean (4-24-05 to 5-1-05) onboard the Explorer of the Seas. As you can see from my one sentence summary, it was excellent!
Boarding: This is got to be the most impressive part. While the shuttle was dropping other passengers off at Carnival and other ships in Port of Miami, we saw tons of passengers waiting outside in the sizzling heat waiting to board. My DW and I were dreading the boarding. However, when we got to the RCCL terminal, it was completely covered, and there was NO WAIT whatsoever. Entire boarding process took about 5 minutes to complete. This was at about 12:30pm
Ship: Beautiful ship. Like a 5 star hotel. We were just so amazed by the beauty of the ship. From the 3 story dining room to the atrium, the lounges, pool deck, show room, on and on. Spend some time just exploring the ship.
Stateroom: We had an interior stateroom. While small, it had tons of shelf and was actually pretty good usage of space. No complaints there. Handheld shower head. nice!
Activities: This ship really got everything for everyone. We did a lot of hanging out in the pool deck. The 5 jaccuzzis and 3 pools were more than enough for us. Since there were 2 days out a sea, we spend those days doing activities from rollerblading to golf simulator to rock climbing. Never a boring moment. There were organized games as well like Dodgeball and pool volleyball tournaments. The only complaint I have is that they didn’t want to leave the net on for some free play pool volleyball after the tournamnent over. Their excuse was “We only have 1 net and 1 volleyball and we need to use it for the other organized activies”. A multi million dollar ship can’t afford one more volleyball and net??
Service: This was our only real complaint. The formal dining service was great! Greg and Cassandra did an excellent job. However, as we bump into some of the staff members, they hardly care to greet us as if it was a hassle to make eye contact. The tone of some staff members in the Windjammer buffet were somewhat rude.. “ you done with this?” No excuse me, or smile. We probably had some unrealistic expectations as well. Our complaint is very minor, not a big deal to us. Stateroom attendant was also fair. We had to call them up a few times to get clean swim towels even tho we told them we need it everyday on day 1.
Entertainment: The shows were fabulous! The productions were very well choreographed and well executed! On the celebrity show, we even had the Osmonds on! (They joined us at Cozumel). The ice show was great. Don’t miss it! We took advice from this forum to get in line early to make sure we get tickets. Bingo was always fun too (Even tho we didn’t win). Casino games are good and fun as always.All the dealers were very nice and actually likes to talk to you unlike some Vegas dealers.
Dining/Food: LOTS AND LOTS of food. We went to formal dining room every night. The food was very good there. Couple entrees were a bit salty, desert was delicious all the time. But overall, good to excellent food served. The Windjammer buffet food was very good and hot all the time. The pool party buffet at midnight and the midnight buffet gave us that special “oh man, we ate too much” feeling. 2 dinners in one night is just crazy. The 24 hour café promenade had excellent cookies and pizza.
Ports of Call:
Belize – Tendering was a bit of a pain, Country was quite poor. We did the cave tubing thing. That was really really fun. The driver joked “Here is tourist attraction…stop lights, there are 6 of them in the entire country and half of them doesn’t work”
Costa Maya- Nice waters, nice pier area. We did the Chaccoban mayan ruins tour with Ivan and then hung out at Majahual beach. The water was very nice and blue at the beach. The pier was one big pool party mixed in with some shopping. Pretty fun day. Except that Chaccoban was extremely hot and humid.
Cozumel: Play time for us. We went to snorkel at Dzul Ha right away. Saw some nice fishes. Then we spent the rest of the day at Paradise beach. That beach was so much fun. For $5, there are tons of beach chairs with umbrellas and hammocks to choose from. Water trampoline and iceberg was really fun to jump off. We didn’t use the kayak or the snorkel gear but its nice that the $5 also includes the rental of those equipment as well. It was just so relaxing. Also got a chance to meet Paradise Tom.
Grand Caymans- What a beautiful country. People there are so nice a laid back. The waters were blue and clear there. Very well developed country. We did see a lot of damage caused by hurricane Ivan still left over. We did the sting ray city trip. That was really the highlight of the trip. Swimming around with stingrays in 3 feet of clear water in the middle of the ocean. Wow! Shopping was good there. Very good deals on alcohol, duty free and tax free! Too bad we’re not much a drinker.
Feel free to ask any questions about the ship or the ports of call. We've learned a lot after researching this board and finally experiencing it first hand. As RCCL say, get out there!