EXPLORER 6/12 Review...categorized but long

Welcome to Cruise Critic! If you'd like to participate on our forums by joining in the conversation, please Register Now! Be sure to visit our FAMOUS Roll Call forums, where you can meet other cruisers sailing with you and share a tour or shore excursion and SAVE MONEY!

#1
NW Burbs, Chicago
306 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
This review is based on the experiences of 2 families (adults early 40's) and 6 kids 6-14. I may be long winded but I know how much I craved info. for my cruise so I'm just trying to "pay back".
Feel free to skip over categories...
The Facts: June 12 '05 sailing/ Eastern carb./ Cabins E1-connecting Deck 8
Main seating, Dining Room DaGamma
PRE-CRUISE: 2 nights @ Eden Roc. Older hotel, nothing near by for activites, Good pool and beach, Arcade is a joke! Great workout room.
EMBARKATION: Arrived 11:35, started boarding the masses @12;15, we were on board by 12:30. Did Doc's online AND printed them out. RCL rep took the Print out = speeds up the process!! Definately do this. Cookies & Lemonaide available for the first hour or so (they were not replenished)
LUGGAGE ARRIVAL: in our cabin by 5:30, cutting it close for a 6:00 main seating. We wore our bathing suits to terminal, spent out time at the pool = very nice, not alot of people yet.
CABINS: for anyone considering what type of arrangement with kids...connecting cabins is FABULOUS. Plenty of room, 2 bathrooms are essential! Balcony was nice but we could have done without it. The big negative here is the condition of the carpet. The stains are very heavy. Hopefully it will be replaced during dry dock. (But nothing to wine over) With 3 in a room, the shoe rack over the door is a god send. Luggage under the bed can be used for dirty clothes. Both our showers flooded the bathroom floor. The attendent was not surprised and did fix it but it started again the last day.
DINING ROOM: Table of 10 at window. Taner (from Turkey)was wonderful, endlessly patient when people showed up an hour late - every nite (not us). Note~ window table is great for main seating as sun goes down. By late seating its pitch black and you'll see nothing. Food was good! Listen to your waiter's suggestions.
CRUISE DIRECTOR: Clo is the best I've ever had the privledge to encounter. She was SO FUNNY. She looked like it was the first time she'd done this. Very personable, even when trying to have a private drink on the promenade.
PORTOFINO"S: Very good service, food was considerably better. Dress is smart casual. So worth the extra charge. Make res. early!
DRINKS: waiters everywhere to get you something. Aprox. $6 for a drink of the day in RCL glass. #3.75 for a corona. Kir Royale was 7 or 8 (yikes!)
T.V.: Reception was not always in good working order. Could turn on or off by itself (twilight zone-ish) 2 movies a day would play for free. Also movies to purchase. CNN TNT CBS stuff to name of few.
PHOTOS: On formal nites, 3 stations on Decks 3/4/5 with different backgrounds (portrait, night scene, titanic stairs) so find the one you like. Other nights, white backgrounds infront of Studio B for casual pictures.
SHOPS: not a great selection = booze, cosmetics/purfumes, RCL stuff, jewelry, limited resortwear. They do sell pasmeena's (s.p.) for $10.00 In all colors and good quality, a great buy for one who needs a wrap!
ENTERTAINMENT: THIS WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE OF ALL FOR US! The parade was cute but the shows were some of the best we've seen (including Vegas). The comedians could make you pee in your pants, the dancers needed a little help but the sets and choreography was great! The songs that were picked to perfection for anyone 25-70. The jazz bands were perfect for listening/dancing. The Temptations-like group was wonderful.
The Love & Marriage Game was very cute (again Clo was the key to its success).

PORTS OF CAL~~~
San Juan: 100 degrees that day! Toured El Morro. Shopped at Coach factory store. Kids couldn't wait to get back to ship(go figure).
St. Martin: Went to Orient Beach (Bikini Beach) Taxi was $5 per person. Vans that easily fit 12+. Best beach of the trip. Jet Skis/Water Tamp./parasailing, Live band, hair braiding. Use dog bones to feed fish - it works really well, my kids were screaming w/ delight. Nudey beach down the way, worth checking out for some giggles. Easy to get Taxi back to ship.
St. Thomas: Sapphire Beach on our own. $9 per person each way. Taxi holds 15+ Easy to get one back to ship. Hotel on beach w/ store & resturant. Jetskis, parasailing. $10 for raft for the day.
NASSAU: Another HOT day! Did Dolphin Encounter with RCL. WELL WORTH THE $$$ Note~ take a water camera with you so you can keep it w/you during the encounter. Very small lockers available at no fee. Snack shop there also. VHS available for $48.00 SO CUTE!

Will do a 2nd section for the Ocean Adventure reivew. But any questions please let me know. Also I kept all the compasses so if you have specific questions you can ask.
Let me know what you guys think..... Kelly
#3
Toronto, Canada
4,497 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Kelly,

Thanks for the review. We still have a ways to go until we cruise, but your review is perfect for us. Early 40's, 3 kids, 5-11. Can't wait to see your Adventure Ocean review.

Did they have snorkeling at Sapphire beach? Would you bother getting off the Ship in San Juan again? Would you leave the kids on the ship?

Thanks,

Sharonna
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
a.k.a. -- Sharonna






178 days at Sea.......so far

Freedom of the Seas - Nov/16 - 10th Annual BFF Cruise!
Adventure of the Seas - Feb/16 - BFF Family Cruise
Independence of the Seas - Nov/15 - 9th Annual BFF Cruise!!
Independence of the Seas - Nov/15 - First Solo Cruise!!
Oasis of the Seas - Mar/15 - March Break cruise with my daughters!!

Liberty of the Seas - Nov/14 - 8th Annual BFF Cruise
Liberty of the Seas - Nov/14 - 1st Back to Back!!
Freedom of the Seas - Mar/14 - Family cruise
Explorer of the Seas - Nov/13 - 7th Annual BFF Cruise
Freedom of the Seas - Mar/13 - Family cruise
Freedom of the Seas - Feb/12 - BFF Familes together again!
Freedom of the Seas - Oct/11 - 6th Annual BFF Cruise
Explorer of the Seas - Mar/11- Family cruise
Freedom of the Seas - Nov/10 - 5th Annual BFF Cruise
Liberty of the Seas - Aug/10 - Extended family cruise
Freedom of the Seas - Aug/09 - 4th Annual BFF Cruise
Explorer of the Seas - Mar/09 - Family cruise
Mariner of the Seas - Nov/08 - 3rd Annual BFF Cruise
Adventure of the Seas - Mar/08 - BFF Familes together!
Mariner of the Seas - Nov/07 - 2nd Annual BFF Cruise
Carnival Triumph - Aug/07 - Family cruise
Voyager of the Seas - Feb/07 - Family cruise
Radiance of the Seas - Nov/06 - BFF Cruise
Carnival Valour - Aug/06 - Mother/Daughter Cruise
Explorer of the Seas - Jan/06 - Cruise with my parents and kids!!
Radiance of the Seas - Feb/05
#5
New Jersey
408 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
So far so good.... Keep it coming. We sail 7/24 same itinerary.

Perfect age group too, this helps alot.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Carrie P
Grand Princess May 2003
Explorer of the seas July 2005
#6
NW Burbs, Chicago
306 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
To bemyer, Shar27 and Carrie P: I am so jealous that you're getting READY to go on your cruise! I had so much fun checking this boards and asking questions. Now its all behind us however... anyone traveling with me would tell you that we didn't make one mistake the whole week> in large part because of this boards! Every suggestion, piece of advice or opinion is helpful so don't be shy in asking for info.
Shar ~ Sapphire is pretty good for snorkeling. There were LOTS of people doing it. There is a small boat/ship reck down the beach (I don't know why it's there) and a small reef that people were talking about. Someone sharing a Taxi with us went to Coki beach. When we pulled up to drop him off, he almost didn't let his family get out! It looks very run down and "seedy" for lack of a better word. Later he told us that the snorkeling there was pretty good but several people suggested that he never let his belongings out of his sight as they would be gone. So they always had to have someone sitting on the beach with their stuff. He said next time he's going to sapphire.
As for San Juan, if your a big Coach or Dooney & Bourke fan, this would be good for you. These are factory stores where you can potentially save big (i.e. bought a black wristlette, in the states it sells for aprox. $76. There is was $34). We couldn't walk down the street without some women asking us where the store was. So yeah, I'd get off again. Alot of people go to BOTH the Forts there but we thought one was plenty! I could see why you'd ask that question though, we thought the same thing!
Leaving the kids on the ship while you get off is a tricky question. I can tell you that we went with one expectation regarding the kids and that's not what happened. You get very comfortable with the fact that their not with you. (I know that sounds bad but its true.) We expected all our kids to at least eat dinner with us , you know, to regroup and share the days activities. But that didn't happen (to our shock!) because the kids couldn't wait to get to Ocean Adventure. My husband & I have never been able to take a family vacation and spend time alone but thats what happened here and my kids loved it as much as we did!
Next time, depending on the time in port, we might leave them onboard. I know several families that did without an problems. I'm just new at this so I'm taking baby steps. The other alternative we considered is having my husband go back with the kids and I stay and shop with my girlfriend, but we never did that.
Anyway...all of you are about to have a wonderful vacation!!! My kids are begging (literally) to go on another cruise. We'll need to start saving NOW!
#7
Lake Orion, Michigan
519 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Hi Kelly

I have a question about your dinner time. Was the main (6pm) seating a good choice? We have always had late seating but this time couldn't get it and were put on a waitlist for late seating. While we were initially put on a waitlist, we decided to keep the main and give it a try. Now we are worried there may be too many kids at that time. It's not that we don't like kids (we have 3 children but they are not going to be with us on the cruise) but wondered if it was going to be a noiser dinner??

Thanks!

Tracy
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
RCCL Song of America (4-91 for Honeymoon )
RCCL Majesty of the Seas (6-93)
RCCL Monarch of the Seas (6-98)
RCCL Monarch of the Seas (6-01)
RCCL Explorer of the Seas (7-05)
RCCL Serenade of the Seas (4-11 20 year anniv Cruise )
NCL Pearl to Alaska--1st time NOT on RCCL (6-13)
RCCL Oasis of the Seas (1-16)


<img src="http://www.ucruiser.com/ticker/rccl/tickers/30ijzkg84c41q5nk.png" alt="Royal Caribbean Cruise Countdown Widget Clock" border="0"/></a>
#8
Huntington Beach, CA
2,347 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Great review. I definitely plan on going to the Coach store. I think I have directions but I would love a refresher on how to get there.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
*** Ruth (Talks to Strangers)
Ya Ya Princess Laughs a Lot



Radiance of the Seas 8/10
Ruby Princess 11/09
Mariner of the Seas 04/09
Carnival Pride 04/08
Freedom of the Seas 11/07
Monarch of the Seas 05/07
Carnival Paradise 03/07
Monarch of the Seas 05/06
Explorer of the Seas 11/05
Vision of the Seas 11/02
Viking Serenade 9/00
#9
Naples, Florida
69 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
Tracy,

We always have main seating for dinner, 8:30p is much too late for us. Kids have never been a problem for us in the dinning room. And we don't have any with us, and I would notice them

Kim
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Explorer of the Seas '04 (Western)
Explorer of the Seas '05 (Eastern)
Radiance of the Seas '06
Mariner of the Seas b2b 9/06
#10
96 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
MamaxX4, thanks for the great review. We were on the EOS last year and had a great time (Western). I loved Clo too, she's so funny! I am happy to hear you had a wonderful time. I have one question for you if you could... we are doing the Eastern this year and I am concerned about the beaches in St. Marteen. I have heard that Orient beach is beautiful, but I have also heard that it drops off quickly? I am looking for a somewhat safe, calm beach. I know about the nudity, just wondering about the ocean, waves, undertow, etc. Thanks for the info about Coach. I think I will have to take a little trip to that store!!!

Thanks again for taking the time to share!!
#11
Queens, NY
132 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
kelly,
thanks for the review! we are going on the EOS Aug 21st. i will have my 2 1/2 yr old son w/me and i am wondering as far as the beaches go in St. Marteen which would be the best for us. if anyone else has any input also? thanks,
Gina
#12
NW Burbs, Chicago
306 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Remember, these are just my opinions...
Tracy,
We saw very few kids at the main seating for dinner. Keep in mind that the dining room is 3 stores high and is layed out very well. I don't think too many kids will be a problem. Unless of course, they assign you to a table with families (yikes!)
Dreamfinders,
I never felt like there was a big drop off at Orient beach. However, I didn't venture out THAT far. It was a perfect day for us, a nice wave for some fun but not TOO much at all!!!
Gina, I thought that Orient Beach was the best of the whole trip. However, if you are not in need of water sports (i.e. jeski's etc.) then maybe you should try Divi Little Bay. I've heard people talk about that one being great for kids. I don't personally know about it though.

As for the Coach store, we came from El Morro and found it very easily. Trust me, you'll see women with Coach shopping bags EVERYWHERE. Just ask them. I did get the directions from the pier on this website but I can't find them. I'll keep searching and let you know if I find them.

Any other questions I'd be glad to help! Kelly
#15
73 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Thanks for your review, we leave in less then a month now and I can't wait. Our trravel documents have arrived so it all seems so real. I love reading what people have to say about the Explorer. I have seen very few negative comments.
#16
169 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Thank you for the review.

Cruising on the same ship/itinirary this weekend. Do you happen to have the compasses from the cruise? If not, do you remember what nights were what in the dining room (which were formal, which was caribbean, etc.)?
#17
Rochester NY, The World's Image Centre
286 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Kelly:

Thanks for making the effort to share so much with us. We're getting more and more ideas for our upcoming trip on Explorer -- considering more seriously doing the taxi to Orient Beach "excursion" instead of anything through the ship. We may do practically nothing in Nassau -- maybe just take M-I-L to Atlantis Casino for an hour or two.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Ken & Kathy Hazlett
Rochester NY

Not exactly cruising, but Ken (in 4th grade) sailed New York City to Gibraltar on Italian Line's "Rafaelo" in January 1966 and Great Britain back to NYC on Holland America's "Statendam" in September 1966.
Royal Caribbean "Sovereign of the Seas", 12/98 (4 nts)
"Cruise Virgins" deflowered. Awesome food and "shooter" drinks. Missed Coco Cay due to high seas, but had a great "day at sea" on the way to KW.
Carnival "Sensation", 07/00 (7 nts)
A balcony suite shared with best friends, lunch with Emeril in New Orleans, and a surprise proposal. Swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman was a blast, and you can't pass up a trip to Hell.
Carnival "Jubilee", 01/01 (4 nts)
Key West was in the deep freeze, but margaritas at Jimmy Buffet's helped. Cozumel was toasty.
Carnival "Paradise", 12/01 (7 nts)

A perfect honeymoon on the only totally non-smoking ship --- what a breath of fresh air !
Royal Caribbean "Explorer of the Seas", 10/23/05 (7 nts)
The threat of Hurricane Wilma made departure interesting. The Meet & Mingle and spending time with other CCers was awesome. RCI's food IS better than Carnival's, and Portofino was a real treat.
<center style="margin: 0px;"></center><center style="margin: 0px;"></center><center style="margin: 0px;"></center>