Explorer OTS Western Caribbean Review (4-24-05 to 5-1-05)

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#1
16 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Overall: Beautiful ship, good food, hit and miss service, GREAT entertainment/Activities

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!
#2
453 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Thanks for the nice review. We will be taking the same trip on 7/31. Already booked an excursion with Native Way in Grand Cayman to do the Reef, Rays, Rum thing. Glad you enjoyed.

Did you do ship's excursions or did you find your own?
#3
16 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by as41shots
Thanks for the nice review. We will be taking the same trip on 7/31. Already booked an excursion with Native Way in Grand Cayman to do the Reef, Rays, Rum thing. Glad you enjoyed.

Did you do ship's excursions or did you find your own?
booked all excursions outside ship. The ports of call section on this forum was a great resource! Definitely cheaper and better. Grand cayman was with portpromotions.com since it was free from cruise.com when we booked. I was very worried about that since i've never heard of them nor seen any reviews on this forum, but it turned out to be very good. Only 12 people on our ship. I plan to write a seperate review for them under the ports of call section shortly. HAve a great time!
#4
3 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
This is my first post and our first cruise...I was wondering how to get to Majahual from the pier and how to find Ivan, as we are taking the same tour next week. Thanks so much for the info!
#5
Winter Springs, FL, 32708
40 Posts
Joined May 2003
Great review- thanks!
Did you feel safe in Belize? We are also doing the cave tubing -with Yhony- but I'm a little concernd about the most recent civil unrest- I think you were probably there on the 26th-when they had the riots- I've been waiting to here from you and your cruisemates to find out first hand if you saw anyting- we leave on the 5th of June- I'm very excited about the trip but don't want o put my 3 teenagers in any jeopardy-
Looking forward to your thoughts-
#6
Atlanta Suburb
2,151 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
I have used Portpromotions.com several times. Always great service. If they do not have an excursion listed, give them a call and they will find it. When I did this for a ST.Lucia excursion, I gave the the excursion name from the ship we were sailing on and they found it and still beat the price by 20.00 a head.
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#7
Brentwood, NH, USA
552 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Hi, we were also on the same cruise and totally agree with the OP reviews. This was our third RCCL cruise and thoroughly enjoyed it. Our room attendant was very nice and we received very good service. A couple of our observations and experiences:

Portofino's - definitely go. The food is excellent, the service is wonderful, it was a very pleasant experience. We had 6:30 reservations on Monday evening and requested a window seat. We watched a beautiful sunset while we enjoyed dessert. The staff commented that many people make later reservations and they miss watching the sunset.

Adventure Ocean-there were over 750 kids on this cruise, but AO did an excellent job with the groups of kids. Favorite was Pirate Night and going to dinner at Johnny Rockets. The staff was energetic, and really helped my shy DD feel welcome.

Belize- never heard of the unrest until I read this thread, so no, we did not experience anything. The tendering to Belize is quite a trip, at least a 20-30 min trip, and the waters can be rough. So, if you may want to consider a dramamine if you have a tendency for seasickness on smaller vessels. The "port" area of Belize is very contained with numerous shops and restaurants. You are highly encouraged to stay within this area, and you are also encouraged to book excursions rather than explore on your own. There were several tour companies at the pier who were looking for people to take tours, so if you have not pre-booked, you still have choices when you arrive. But, strongly recommend reading up on the different tour companies in the Ports section of CC to get an idea of which companies you want to use.

Costa Maya- this was one of our favorite ports. Mahahaul is about a 10 min drive from the pier, there are plenty of taxi's and busses available to take. At the pier itself, there is a large complex of stores, restaurants, a huge pool with pool bar and chairs. But, if you are a beach person, definitely head out to Mahahaul. It is a beautiful beach. There are tons of little beach bars where you can grab a chair, have lunch, shop, hairbraiding, etc. We went to a smaller beach bar a little further up the beach called Pez Quadro, and there were a lot less people at this location.

Cozumel- we went to Xcaret Ecological park, I recommend taking a good look at this excursion. It was an amazing day with tons to do.

Grand Cayman- our favorite port. We rented a jeep through Avis, it was so easy. We were picked up at the Blue Iguana gift shop just up the street from the pier. The took us to their location at the airport and within 15 mins we were on the road. We drove up to Rum Point (about a 40 min drive, but very easy to find) and spent the day at the Rum Point Bar. There is no way to describe the unspoiled beauty of this beach. The Wreck Bar served the best drinks we had all week, the food was excellent. They do not charge anything for chairs, and there are plenty of water toys to rent at very reasonable rates (waverunners,bicycles, etc). We were able to do some snorkeling from the beach as well. We also explored the area a little bit and found a deserted beach at the end of Finger Cay where there was an abundance of starfish in the shallow water. I highly recommend exploring this area. Unfortunately, we did drive through many areas of the island that were drastically affected by the Hurricane.

As for the ship, the entertainment was great, although we did not care too much for the Osmond Bros. There was a 2 brother comedy team from Vegas who were fantastic! This ice show was amazing, even better than the one we saw 2 years ago on Adventure.

And best of all, we made some great friends that made our vacation one of the best we have ever taken and look forward to keeping in touch with them!
#8
Phoenix
3,562 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Thanks for all your comments! We are going on September and can't wait!
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#9
16 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by prplhrt27
This is my first post and our first cruise...I was wondering how to get to Majahual from the pier and how to find Ivan, as we are taking the same tour next week. Thanks so much for the info!
There's only 1 way to Majahual. you have to take the shuttle. $3 per person. Once you get there, Ivan and his staff will greet you with a "Native's choice" sign. Majahual is only about 3 blocks long, very easy to find things. Have fun!
#10
16 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by lstiblier
Great review- thanks!
Did you feel safe in Belize? We are also doing the cave tubing -with Yhony- but I'm a little concernd about the most recent civil unrest- I think you were probably there on the 26th-when they had the riots- I've been waiting to here from you and your cruisemates to find out first hand if you saw anyting- we leave on the 5th of June- I'm very excited about the trip but don't want o put my 3 teenagers in any jeopardy-
Looking forward to your thoughts-
My wife and I felt pretty safe in Belize. The tender dock is very tourisy and safe. Once you get on with the tour, the guide will take care of you. We saw like a protest while driving over to the cave tubing site, but only about 30 people holding up signs. There are lots of tour groups/buses and guides. We felt pretty safe. There were also couple of soldiers patrolling the cave tubbing meeting site as well. Have fun!
#11
Yucaipa, Ca
402 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Thanks for the review. Glad to hear wonderful, and posiive things about her. We are leaving on Explorer this Sunday. WOW, it's so great to finally say that. Can't wait to read the port reviews.
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Jessica....



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Freedom of the Seas 05/07
Monarch of the Seas 03/06
Explorer of the Seas 05/05
#15
Winter Springs, FL, 32708
40 Posts
Joined May 2003
Originally posted by dsharky
My wife and I felt pretty safe in Belize. There were also couple of soldiers patrolling the cave tubbing meeting site as well. Have fun!
Thanks for the info- it makes me feel better- my DH and myself are one thing-but it's a different senario when your kids are involved
Can't wait! We leave June 5th!
#16
Baltimore, MD
24 Posts
Joined May 2005
I was on the same voyage (a total of 11 of us, including 6 kids, ages 6 to 13). We all had a great time - first cruise for all of us except my mother. I generally agree with the OP's comments. As to the food, it was very good, with the exception of the entrees in the main dining room, which were only average (the starters and desserts were typically excellent). A plus was that we made the kids order from the main menu, so they were able to try new kinds of foods. Service in the dining room was okay (the waiter and the assistant were trying hard, but did have some lapses). Our head waiter was great -- continually checking with the chef as to the gluten-free needs of my sister for entrees and starters. Our group (my extended family) also had a preference for a particular brand of butter served on the ship (2 types were available) -- after mentioning it to the head waiter the first night, we had that butter for all the other dinners.

The older kids of the group did not participate in the AO activities, as we were on second seating -- they thoroughly enjoyed their independence in pool activiites and getting ice cream and cookies whenever they wanted.

The entertainment was excellent for all of us. We all thought that the comedians the first and last night were super (for adults and kids).
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Jerry
Baltimore, MD

Explorer of the Seas 4/24/05
Star Princess 4/7/07
Celebrity Solstice 4/5/09
Allure of the Seas 6/26/11
Allure of the Seas 12/30/12
Celebrity Reflection 3/29/14
Celebrity Reflection 1/3/15
#17
NW Burbs, Chicago
306 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I also feel the need to "thank all of you" for your comments and reviews of the EOS. This info. is so helpful to the rest of us and I know that I will be reporting my thoughts after we cruise in June.

Thanks Again!!!! Kelly