Explorer Review July 31 - Long Review!

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#1
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Explorer of The Seas – July 31st 2005


Embarkation – Everything went very smoothly. We were allowed through security at 12:00 sharp. There are two x-ray machines that carry-ons must go through, and a walk-through detector as well. Once though security it’s on to check-in. We are Platinum members so we proceeded around the lines to Priority Embarkation. We had printed the online SetSail pass for the 4 of us before leaving home. It didn’t work. The agent had to manually check in all 4 of us. No big deal, only 5 minutes.

The agent made a mistake that proved embarrassing to us later in the week. She entered the wrong expiration date on my Royal Caribbean VISA card. On Tuesday I was summoned to the purser’s office to present a new card since my charges had been declined by MBNA. They allowed me to make a call from the purser’s desk at no charge to MBNA. I was told it was RCI’s mistake with the expiration after waiting 30 minutes on hold with fraud prevention. They apologized, but it was uncomfortable to stand in line for 30 minutes waiting to straighten out the mess. They apologized and resent the charges. No problems from then on.

We were in Cabin 1388 on Deck 10 Aft. GREAT ROOM! I am an aft fan now. It was extremely quiet. It was a long walk, but the exercise was great. We didn’t hear Windjammer/Island Grill noise at all. The ship is so big we didn’t even feel the rocking motion of the ship, which we like. One tip…bring along Clorox wipes and clean your cabin. The stewards do an OK job between cruises, but we took no chances. All 4 of us wiped down every surface. They wipes were grey by the time we were done. We did not want to leave anything to chance and get sick from grime in the cabin. Hint: leave the curtains open slightly so you can see when getting up for the bathroom in the middle of the night. We had a pole in the foot of the queen-sized bed that made it tricky to get around in the dark. The cabin was huge. The size of a Junior Suite.


As many of you may have read on CC, the ship listed slightly on Sunday night while passing through the Florida straights. It was not a big deal, but it was clearly noticeable. On the Royal Promenade they lost around 20 bottles of liquor that were out for sale, not in bars. The floor was a mess. It smelled like a liquor factory. The whole event lasted no more than 20 seconds. We didn’t even think about it again during the week.

Meet and Mingle was held on Monday in Portofino’s at 11:30 AM. Clo came by and was surprised to see 37 had signed up and attended on a sunny day. I met some great people who I’d chatted with on CC before the sailing. Went to wine tasting session with one group from CA, and Nativeways tour in Cayman with two other groups from FL and MD. Clo mentioned that the program will continue as long as there is support for it.

We booked the Explorer for the ports. We wanted adventure, and adventure we got. Belize was nothing if not on a tour. We did the Land Rover 4 X 4 Jeep Safari. With small kids (10 and 7) we opted out of the cave tubing. This tour was one we will never forget. Best activity of the week. Well worth $100 per person. Look for my review to be posted on the Belize page later in the week.

Costa Maya is a small town with a dirt road (actually Majahual). We went to Pez Quadro at the end of the dirt road. Keep walking until you see the sign for this club on the left (beach side). Marco is an Italian from Milan, and he and two friends own the club and new hotel they’re constructing. Great place. Quiet water and good snorkeling. $2 beer, and $5 nachos and guacamole.

Cozumel was our day to relax and play at the beach before Cayman, and we went to Paradise Beach Club. Wonderful experience. $8 per person to enjoy the beach activities (trampoline, ice berg, kayaking, hammocks, and many others). Look for Tom, the owner. Friendly staff. Pricing was comparable to the US for food served on the beach. Beautiful water that was a little cloudy from Emily. We saw a starfish that was at least two feet in diameter. Oh, snorkeling equipment is included too, although you have to give your credit card or $20 deposit per person (refundable upon return) for the gear.

Grand Cayman was awesome, however RCI did a poor job with the tender schedule. Many people almost missed our Nativeways “Reef, Rays, and Rum” tour because they couldn’t get off the ship. The tour was wonderful and exciting, and we just made the last tender back to the ship. There were 33 people on the tour with us. We all wondered if they would hold the ship for so many passengers not on a RCI tour.

The ship was in good condition. I read a lot of posts about how clean or beautiful the ship is, but my theory is it’s hard to keep a ship in perfect condition with 3500+ passengers each week for 52 weeks. The staff is friendly, outgoing, and wanting to please the passengers. The ship NEVER felt crowded. Lines were nothing. Ice Show tickets line was 2 minutes. The passengers were pretty laid back and seemed to go with the flow.

Once thing that did bother us was the lack of decorum in the dining room. Even on Formal night people would show up in shorts, jeans, cut-offs, flip-flops, sneakers…whatever they wanted to wear. On top of that they would show up 30 to 90 minutes late. I’m sorry, but go to the Windjammer if you want to eat casually. That’s why they designed the dining service that way. RCI doesn’t want to offend passengers by saying something. Our waiter was Ketut, and the assistant was Gomes. Good guys. Good service. Food quality was good, not great. But it’s hard to serve 15,000 meals daily and make them at tableside. If you go in expecting 5-star or better you’ll be disappointed. Go in without high expectations and you’ll have a great experience.

The ship has so many things to do you can never get bored. It’s great for families. The kids on the cruise acted like you would expect. Most were well-behaved, and a few got out of hand and ran through the hallways and stairs. The aft elevators had more teens on them than adults. So much for getting exercise on the ship.

Debarkation was a breeze. We had a 12:00 flight from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta so we got WHITE tags. We were through customs and on the curb with baggage in 20 minutes. We even had to wait 30 minutes for our limo driver to show up because we were so early. Job well done on debarkation.

If you’re looking for a great cruise value the Explorer will not disappoint.

Any questions? I’ll be happy to answer them. Can’t wait for the next cruise. Got to start making more money.

Mark[b]
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#2
67 Posts
Joined May 2005
Great review! Glad you had a good time. You said that you had to get tickets for the ice show, do you have to pay to go see the show?
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#3
3,131 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
What a wonderful review!

Was the grime in your cabin from the ship's exhaust or just regular dirt the cabin staff was missing

Charmedone- the tickets are for crowd-control, since studio B only holds a limited number of people. There is no charge for the ice show.


Cheers,
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#4
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by Charmedone619
Great review! Glad you had a good time. You said that you had to get tickets for the ice show, do you have to pay to go see the show?
Tickets are free. They just hand out tickets to ensure everyone gets a chance to see the show.
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#5
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by digital_curator
What a wonderful review!

Was the grime in your cabin from the ship's exhaust or just regular dirt the cabin staff was missing

Charmedone- the tickets are for crowd-control, since studio B only holds a limited number of people. There is no charge for the ice show.


Cheers,
The grime was probably a build-up from previous cruisers. The stewards cannot possibly clean the room the way we did. We're just being cautious to minimize our chances of picking up anything from the cabin as we go about our way during the week. We're not clean freaks, but want to minimize the germs and viruses that are in abundance. We saw a 20/20 segment about what's left in hotels or ship cabins from previous cruisers. Yuck! I posted it as a godd idea, not a must-do.
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#6
Rochester NY, The World's Image Centre
286 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Great review -- thanks for taking the time. Every little bit of info helps as we count down the days to our trip on Explorer. The Clorox Wipes are an awesome idea -- one more thing to pack along with my duct tape, ZipLoc bags, and refridgerator magnets (for our door sign)
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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.
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#8
4,132 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Thanks for the review!!!
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#9
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by cruising10
Who was your cruise director
Clodaugh O'Conner. She was very personable. She sat with us after the farewell show and chatted about her career, the ship, passengers, and everything else we could bring up.

You'll have a great time.
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#11
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by booboo3
Could you please tell me when the formal nights were held? And also if you remember when the "smart causal" night was? Thanks
Formal nights were Monday and Friday. The rest of the nights were a mixture of dress, a few in shirt and tie/dress, and most in khakis and shirt/casual dress. We were surprised at how many people actually shorts or jeans every night, including the formal nights .
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#12
Mystic, CT
1,683 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
Thanks so much for the review!! I'll be on the Explorer in 3 weeks and just can't get enough!! I have a question regarding the ice shows: We love watching the shows in the theater, especially the broadway style reviews...do the ice shows conflict w/these, or are they usually on nights when they just have a comedian or juggling act in the theater? Also, did you by any chance check out the oceanographic (or atmospheric or whatever) lab? Was wondering if it's worth checking out. That stinks that people don't respect the dress code. It's part of the away from the norm, old fashioned, rarely seen (kinda like prom) experience. I just got home from a "cruise meeting" (4 of the people going w/us are 1st timers) and one of them was questioning why he couldn't wear shorts for dinner and I said that it's just a respect thing....if we're all going to put time and effort into looking nice it just shows that you appreciate it and respect it by doing the same, don't you think?...(he then complained that he'd have to bring pants...ekh). I told him he could wear shorts every night in the Windjammer, if he REALLY wants to. Anyway...thank you so much for the positive review, w/the seapass problem and all, because no doubt some people would make a big stink and let it set the tone for the rest of their cruise. I'm happy you didn't pick the ship apart because after reading some reviews you'd think the ship was dilapatated and in shambles. My main question....are the 4 first time cruisers that I'm taken going to be blown away or what?
Thanks!!!
LaUrA
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#13
York, PA
30 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Thanks for your quick response. We leave on Sunday for our cruise and I can't wait any longer! I for one like the formal nights and like to get dressed up for dinner. It makes the experience so much more than what you would do on a regular basis.
#14
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by KillaFee
Thanks so much for the review!! I'll be on the Explorer in 3 weeks and just can't get enough!! I have a question regarding the ice shows: We love watching the shows in the theater, especially the broadway style reviews...do the ice shows conflict w/these, or are they usually on nights when they just have a comedian or juggling act in the theater? Also, did you by any chance check out the oceanographic (or atmospheric or whatever) lab? Was wondering if it's worth checking out. That stinks that people don't respect the dress code. It's part of the away from the norm, old fashioned, rarely seen (kinda like prom) experience. I just got home from a "cruise meeting" (4 of the people going w/us are 1st timers) and one of them was questioning why he couldn't wear shorts for dinner and I said that it's just a respect thing....if we're all going to put time and effort into looking nice it just shows that you appreciate it and respect it by doing the same, don't you think?...(he then complained that he'd have to bring pants...ekh). I told him he could wear shorts every night in the Windjammer, if he REALLY wants to. Anyway...thank you so much for the positive review, w/the seapass problem and all, because no doubt some people would make a big stink and let it set the tone for the rest of their cruise. I'm happy you didn't pick the ship apart because after reading some reviews you'd think the ship was dilapatated and in shambles. My main question....are the 4 first time cruisers that I'm taken going to be blown away or what?
Thanks!!!
LaUrA
Laura,

The ice show tickets are handed out based upon seating at dinner. Early show tickets were available on Wed night at 9:00 or Saturday at 5:00 PM. We went on Wed and didn't miss anything in the shows.

My DW and 10-year old daughter went to the lab tour on Saturday afternoon. They loved it. There are also some cool lab items located on Deck 4 on both sides of the aquarium bar and whatever was on the opposite side of the ship. Explorer has the ability to track up to 47 objects around it, estimate the speed of the object, and pinpoint the time of intersection or impact (bad word, but impact like when a tender will arrive at the gangway).

We're old time cruisers, even though my wife is late 30's and I'm just over 40. Our kids (10 & 7) love to dress up and be fancy. It was amazing to hear all of the comments from people who were impressed that our girls dressed up. They even wore the same dresses on the second formal night (Friday). Even had a few people want to take their picture . Cruising is more casual, but the dining room should be respected in my opinion. That's why they built the Windjammer and filled it with the same food at dinner.

Your first-timers will be amazed at the Explorer. I've been on 35 cruises now, and Explorer has to be one of my favorites. There are so many things to do and see. Even if you want to just hang-out there are 100 different areas to do it. I thought it would be crowded but found it to be very easy to get around and enjoy what we wanted to do. The casino was tight, but so is Vegas. They want to trap you when you get in.

Have a great cruise, and don't forget to share your thoughts when you return.

Mark
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#15
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by booboo3
Thanks for your quick response. We leave on Sunday for our cruise and I can't wait any longer! I for one like the formal nights and like to get dressed up for dinner. It makes the experience so much more than what you would do on a regular basis.
Make sure you have a tour scheduled for Belize. If not, there's really nothing to do. You can read my Land Rover 4 X 4 Jeep review on the Belize board. It was the best excursion I've ever taken.

Have a great time. Enjoy the Explorer. I'm jealous......

Mark
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#17
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by booboo3
I had already heard that and we booked a cave tubing trip. I read alot about it. Hopes it fun! Any other suggestions? Thanks
In Cozumel, if you beach it, try Paradise Beach. Playa Mia and Chakanaab are not fully operational after Emily. Paradise was beatiful. Lots of fun.

If you've not booked anything for Cayman, try Nativeways "Reef, Rays, and Rum" tour. Three Cruise Critic families went on it last week with us. We snorkeled on a reef and saw sharks, eels, and lots of fish and beautiful coral. Then we swam with the rays for 45 minutes, followed by lunch and beach time at Rum Point. Cost was $55.00 per adult and $40.00 per child under 10. The ship's tour does not include a meal. We got to order off the menu from a restaurant at Rum Point. Anything we wanted. Fabulous time.
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#18
York, PA
30 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Thanks for the info about Cozumel. Did not know that parts of it was not back yet from Emily. Can you take a taxi to Paradise Beach? What is there to do beside bask in the sun?
#19
ATL
231 Posts
Joined May 2005
Originally posted by booboo3
Thanks for the info about Cozumel. Did not know that parts of it was not back yet from Emily. Can you take a taxi to Paradise Beach? What is there to do beside bask in the sun?
Yes. Paradise was $12 per cab (not person) to the beach from the pier. The ride back to downtown was $15 per cab, and the ride from town to the pier was $6 per cab. The pier that Explorer uses is 3 miles from downtown.

There were a lot of excursions to the ruins (various), city tours, and even 4 X 4 Safaris, but we opted to sit on the beach and enjoy a laid-back day before heading to our Nativeways tour in Cayman. The family sitting next to us a dinner went on the swim-with-the-dolphins excursion and loved it. If you've never done that it's a blast. We did it in Nassau in 2004 on the Disney Wonder.
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