Explorer of the Seas is a beautiful ship. It has many different public areas to enjoy. Our favorite place was on the 14th floor...a 360 view of the water. Up there was Dizzys, a jazz bar, that had terrific live jazz music playing at night. Also up there is a game/card room. It is a great place to go for atmosphere and views. The casino was nice..we only played there one night. There is a limited number of tables to play and the minimum bet for blackjack is $10. Plenty of slots choices. The Chamber is the dance club on board. From 10-11 is romance hour. Nice place to go for a nice slow dance with your love...however you may want to request some songs as the selections were not always the best. We were never there for the disco times. The atmosphere in there is very cool. In the Promenade there is a pub called Crown & Kettle...my husband discovered this about Tuesday and that is where he got his beers for the rest of the trip. $4 drafts of Guiness...There was a cafe there where you could get sandwiches, cookies, pizza etc at no extra charge. We did notice a little wear on the ship, but only because other posters had mentioned it so we were looking (and we had to look pretty hard). It is a wonderful ship.
We were extremely impressed the number/varieties of activities on board. My husband and our friends did both the ice skating rink and also the roller hockey course while onboard. We played mini golf and also did the golf simulator ($25/hour for up to 4 people). They had a huge main pool area with 2 pools and at least 3 hot tubs. This is the pool where the band and music are played so it is more the party, festive area. There was another pool area called the Solarium pool, which was our favorite. It is a somewhat Medeteranian theme and much quieter and more relaxed. It is a smaller area and very popular. Overall, we felt that the Royal Carribean ship had more activity choices to offer than we had experienced on Carnival.
We didn't really love the entertainment onboard. The 2 things I really enjoyed were Mosaic, a group of six men who use only there voices for the singing and music (quite impressive) and the love and marriage show was a riot. Oh yeah, the ice show was really fun to watch. Overall, I felt it was a much lower quality than we had experienced in the past and also seemed targeted more at the older crowd. The CD was Carly and we were not that impressed with her. Although she did an okay job, I felt like everything she said was so scripted. She sped through everything so fast you knew she had said it many times before.
The service we received was okay. At dinner we had a few occasions where
someone ordered a salad or dessert and it never came, but mostly everything was good. Our assistant waiter tried extremely hard to please everyone. We always had plenty of bread. The beverages became our little joke. At first we drank Ice Tea/Lemonade mix, so he would bring us 2 of each plus a water. Then my husband saw someone get chocolate milk so he asked for that...the next night he got 2 ice tea/lemonade, 2 chocolate milks and a water. Then he caught a cold so he asked for orange juice...for the rest of the cruise he was brought 2 ice tea/lemonade, 2 chocolate milds, 2 ojs, and a water. It was quite funny, but he just wanted so badly to please us. Our stateroom attendent was just okay. We only had to ask for pool towels once, because he forgot to leave them for us. For the most part, everything was fine...we were just hoping it would have been more personalized.
The food was pretty good. I would say "unmemorable" is a good word to describe it because nothing was so bad that you wouldn't ever eat it again, but there wasn't one thing that I will remember for the rest of my life as wonderful. They did a nice job considering they serve almost 4000 people a night. The steak was slightly tough whenever we ordered it. The lobster was my favorite night...yummy. We also tried quite a few of the sugar free desserts and they were good.
We enjoyed the ports quite alot. In Belize, we did the cave tubing excursion with Wet N Wild. The tour was alot of fun. During the bus ride, we were given a very detailed history of Belize and a ton of interesting information on everything from wild life to education systems. The ride is extremely bumpy, but you just have to laugh. The bus sounded like it was going to fall apart from all the rattling, yet we were still passing large buses at a pretty good rate of speed. We did the jump off the cliff to get into the river, and as a warning to anyone to does it...watch all you valuables...we lost a watch and an inhaler doing the jump. BUT, we would still do it again. The water was cool but refreshing and lunch afterwards was fantastic..one of the best of the whole cruise. Belize itself was pretty poor and without an excursion planned there wasn't much to do there.
In Costa Maya we booked the Chocoban mayan excursion with Ivan and David. It was a really great tour. We ended up going with one of Ivan employees, Luis, and it was just the four of us. What a difference from the cruise tours which had probably a hundred people with one guide. It was extremely educational and fun. Quite hot, but not too bad if you can stand in the shade. After that tour we went to Majajual to Tapas Bar. We sat at a table and had great food and service. The water was a beautiful color and although kind of rocky on your feet to start with, very fun to swim in and cool off. There are quite a few dogs there to keep you company if you are missing yours from home. There were quite a few vendors that would come to the table trying to sell you things (massages, hair braiding etc) but they didn't bother you after you said no.
In Cozumel, we did Paradise Beach. This was a great, relaxing day. We got there around 9 so we got chairs right on the water. There are umbrellas by all the chairs so you can get shade if you want it. There is plenty to do there, kayaking, snorkeling, trampoline, ice wall, etc all for just $5 and they will serve you right at your beach chair. There were no vendors here to pester you into buying something. It was a great day.
Finally, in Grand Caymen we did the Sting Ray City and Coral Reef tour with Captain Marvins. This was a nice tour...14 people on our tour which was great. During the snorkeling we saw a nurse shark and 2 eels. There's nothing quite like it.
Overall, we really enjoyed the cruise and would do it again. I think the only thing that we thought was missing was the personal attention and touch that makes a cruise stand apart from all the other vacations you can take. We were taken very good care of and have many new memories to enjoy. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.
Carnival Jubilee 6/95
Carnival Pride 5/02
RCCL Explorer of the Seas 5/05
Carnival Freedom 3/12
Carnival Dream 3/14