Disappointed with explorer

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#1
Edinburgh Scotland
130 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Just came off explorer on Sunday after a 13 night med cruise have to say for the first time I have left disappointed with my experience due to a few things . I have wrote a recent review on here which is now live you can have a read off here. Http://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/member...er=TripAdvisor

I'm not one for complaining but just didn't feel it was up to standard I did however still make the most of it and had a good time!
I have only done freedom class ships below and I did notice the difference in size it seemed they crammed as many people on but in much smaller space and for the first time on a cruise I felt it really overcrowded. Cruise was at full capacity with over 3500 people onboard. I am booked again for next year on Indy and harmony and hope these will restore my faith in RCI.
Main issues where due to removal of public spaces for more cabins and staterooms for the first time I experienced no sun beds available no seating in bars lounges. We had also booked MTD but they struggled with our request. There seemed to be a lot of new staff and for the first time I've experienced rude and unhelpful staff there was still a few however who did offer that wow service which made up for it.
I had read a few bad reviews before i went but thought it was just the usual complainer and went with an open mind but it pains me to say they where right. This has put me off trying any smaller ships. If anyone has any questions I'm happy to answer but just wanted to share as left somewhat underwhelmed by the latest cruising experience.
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Past
09-12-2010 Freedom of the Seas eastern caribbean
09-11-2012 Carnival Dream western caribbean
04-11-2013 Carnival Dream eastern caribbean
05-04-2014 Independence of the Seas Transatlantic
26-10-2014 Liberty of the Seas Transatlantic
Future
29-06-2015 Explorer of the Seas Med & Beaches
01-05-2016 Independence of the Seas Transatlantic
23-10-2016 Harmony of the Seas Transatlantic
#2
California
7,127 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Sorry you had a bad experience. In 2012 I was on Explorer for a Bermuda cruise. The ship never felt crowded, but that was probably before the extra cabins were added.

Thank you fro sharing.
#3
Canada
18,577 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by CruisingThom87
...for the first time on a cruise I felt it really overcrowded. Cruise was at full capacity with over 3500 people onboard... This has put me off trying any smaller ships....
I'm also sorry it was not a wonderful cruise for you. I would agree with you about the crowding issues on Explorer, and we sailed last November before her refurb. I felt she was already pushing her limits to the max... WJ always crowded and noisy, much more so than other WJ's.

Please try Radiance-class ships. Although they are slightly smaller, we feel they are more manageable and the crowds are more spread out. They are beautifully appointed with lots of windows and glass everywhere. All but Jewel have had their refurbs; Brilliance and Radiance have shower curtains and Serenade and Jewel have shower doors, just as a note. This class has the outdoor aft seating area in the Windjammer, which is absolutely spectacular on a Caribbean or Med cruise, for instance. Dinner out there, or even dessert and coffee is absolutely wonderful. Glorious sunsets.
.
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RCI - Explorer Sept/Oct 2008 - 25th anniversary! Canada - Hurricane Kyle
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#4
Central Florida
3,293 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
CruisingTom87,

Having read your review I believe that most of the problem you faced was trying to have the Explorer dining staff accommodate 8 people at My Time Dining. We have seen that being a problem in the MDR but not so much. To have it be a requirement in MTD is certainly harder to accomodate.

Bar service wait times is a problem that the booze packages have caused across the fleet.

I don't know of any public areas that were made smaller that would affect seating.

As you said the disco was moved to the Viking Crown. The one on Freedom compared to the Crypt it replaced was hardly used by anyone during the time we were aboard. Like you we enjoyed the previous entertainment in the Viking Crown.

If you have a chance to do a Radiance Class I would give it a go!
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Ian and Linda
RCI Crown and Anchor - Diamond Plus (549)
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Cunard-White Star MV Georgic 1951 Southampton - NYC; Song of America '96, '97 & '98 Bermuda; Nordic Empress/Empress of the Seas '99, '01 Bermuda. '16 Grand Cayman, Key West. '17 Yucatan; Sovereign of the Seas '00, '01, '03, '04, '05, '07, '08 Bahamas; B]Monarch of the Seas[/b] '03 Central Caribbean, '09, '10, '11, '12 Bahamas; '13 Farewell Week; Celebrity Horizon '04 Bermuda; Mariner of the Seas '08 Eastern & Western Caribbean; Freedom of the Seas '09 Eastern Caribbean, '11, '12, '13, '14, '15, '16 Western Caribbean; Jewel of the Seas '10, '11 Ultimate Caribbean, '11, '12 Western Caribbean; Celebrity Equinox '12, '14 Ultimate Caribbean; Enchantment of the Seas '13, '14, '15, '16, Bahamas; Brilliance of the Seas '14 Western Caribbean; Celebrity Constellation '14 Western Caribbean; Vision of the Seas '14 Western Caribbean and Bermuda; & Bahamas; Explorer of the Seas '14 Bahamas; Legend of the Seas '15 Lesser Antilles; Majesty of the Seas Feb, Apr, May, Jun, Oct, Nov, Dec '16, Jan, Mar '17 Bahamas

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#5
Manchester, UK
10,105 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by Scotty G
Bar service wait times is a problem that the booze packages have caused across the fleet.
Sorry but I don't agree about beverage packages being the cause of long waits at bars, but it's the obvious reduction in staff numbers that has caused the long lines. E.g. just 1 bar server at the R Bar in the centrum, 2 at Boleros, just 1 at the Schooner Bar, none in the Spotlight Lounge, 2 at the Island Bar on the pool deck and 2 at the main pool bar. All this was during the busiest times for those venues and so long lines ensued on Enchantment of the Seas recently.
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Peteukmcr from Manchester, UK



#6
Central Florida exactly on north-29
2,053 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
On a cruise to Norway, I chose not to write a review, but I agree with you RIGHT NOW
However in a few weeks or a month or two She could be a totally different ship.
I should say there were both good and bad with our cruise so no cruise is ever a BAD cruise.
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#7
Central Illinois
107,733 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by peteukmcr
Sorry but I don't agree about beverage packages being the cause of long waits at bars, but it's the obvious reduction in staff numbers that has caused the long lines. E.g. just 1 bar server at the R Bar in the centrum, 2 at Boleros, just 1 at the Schooner Bar, none in the Spotlight Lounge, 2 at the Island Bar on the pool deck and 2 at the main pool bar. All this was during the busiest times for those venues and so long lines ensued.
Before beverage packages, the company had an incentive to serve people as fast as possible to make more money. With beverage packages, I'm not sure that incentive is there anymore.
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Bob

Past Cruises

Celebrity: Mercury
RCCL: Adventure, Allure, Brilliance, Enchantment, Explorer, Freedom, Independence, Legend, Liberty, Majesty, Mariner, Monarch, Navigator, Oasis, Radiance, Rhapsody, Serenade, Sovereign, Vision, Voyager
#8
Edinburgh Scotland
130 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
On this sailing it appeared everyone had some sort of package I did notice a few months ago it didn't seem to be selling to well so there where lots of drinks offers flying about there was a lot on the select package beer n wine and to be fair they did have extra stalls out at pool bar etc serving beer n wine to help with the service but I did notice a reduction of staff at the bars and experienced wait times much longer that before.
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Past
09-12-2010 Freedom of the Seas eastern caribbean
09-11-2012 Carnival Dream western caribbean
04-11-2013 Carnival Dream eastern caribbean
05-04-2014 Independence of the Seas Transatlantic
26-10-2014 Liberty of the Seas Transatlantic
Future
29-06-2015 Explorer of the Seas Med & Beaches
01-05-2016 Independence of the Seas Transatlantic
23-10-2016 Harmony of the Seas Transatlantic
#9
Manchester, UK
10,105 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Originally posted by clarea
Before beverage packages, the company had an incentive to serve people as fast as possible to make more money. With beverage packages, I'm not sure that incentive is there anymore.
But not everyone has a beverage package and there is definitely a reduction in staff, even in the MDR it's harder than ever to get a beverage.
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Peteukmcr from Manchester, UK



#10
Rhode Island, U.S.A.
22,554 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by clarea
Before beverage packages, the company had an incentive to serve people as fast as possible to make more money. With beverage packages, I'm not sure that incentive is there anymore.
Maybe the way to fix that would be to take the gratuity money obtained from selling the beverage packages and distribute it to the bar staff according to the number of drinks they make. It would be easy to track just by swiping the seapass card with out charging anything just like they do with diamond C&A drinks. That way it would work similar to sold drinks where they get a percentage for each drink. That should provide some incentive.
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#11
Central Illinois
107,733 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by Ocean Boy
Maybe the way to fix that would be to take the gratuity money obtained from selling the beverage packages and distribute it to the bar staff according to the number of drinks they make. It would be easy to track just by swiping the seapass card with out charging anything just like they do with diamond C&A drinks. That way it would work similar to sold drinks where they get a percentage for each drink. That should provide some incentive.
I think the bar staff is working as hard as they can, and I would not be surprised if they already do get some amount of tip incentive based on the number of drinks they serve. However, as Pete mentioned (and as we have observed), it appears that there is less bar staff to go around, leading me to believe that as the packages get more popular, the company has an incentive to reduce staff.
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Bob

Past Cruises

Celebrity: Mercury
RCCL: Adventure, Allure, Brilliance, Enchantment, Explorer, Freedom, Independence, Legend, Liberty, Majesty, Mariner, Monarch, Navigator, Oasis, Radiance, Rhapsody, Serenade, Sovereign, Vision, Voyager
#12
Rhode Island, U.S.A.
22,554 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by Scotty G
CruisingTom87,

Having read your review I believe that most of the problem you faced was trying to have the Explorer dining staff accommodate 8 people at My Time Dining. We have seen that being a problem in the MDR but not so much. To have it be a requirement in MTD is certainly harder to accomodate.

Bar service wait times is a problem that the booze packages have caused across the fleet.

I don't know of any public areas that were made smaller that would affect seating.

As you said the disco was moved to the Viking Crown. The one on Freedom compared to the Crypt it replaced was hardly used by anyone during the time we were aboard. Like you we enjoyed the previous entertainment in the Viking Crown.

If you have a chance to do a Radiance Class I would give it a go!
Maybe the public areas were not made smaller but adding more cabins and passengers will certainly affect seating. And as people who frequent the areas in the Viking Crown become displaced as that area is used for other things, those folks will affect the seating available in other public venues too. I used to love it up in the Crown. But I have no interest in being up there for a disco and getting my ears blasted. Heck, on Serenade the sound from the disco up there used to ruin my evenings out on the pool deck it was so loud.

When we first sailed Voyager class ships I thought they were so well designed for the number of people that they carry. I hope RCI is not so set on squeezing money out of these ships that they end up being no longer are fun to sail on.
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#13
Rhode Island, U.S.A.
22,554 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by clarea
I think the bar staff is working as hard as they can, and I would not be surprised if they already do get some amount of tip incentive based on the number of drinks they serve. However, as Pete mentioned (and as we have observed), it appears that there is less bar staff to go around, leading me to believe that as the packages get more popular, the company has an incentive to reduce staff.
Now I understand your point. I thought you were saying that the staff didn't care about service because they were not getting tipped per drink. I completely agree that RCI has an incentive to reduce staff. If the staff can't get around to serving as many drinks to package customers the company makes out twice...less people on the payroll and less alcohol going out on a pre-paid package.
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#14
RAMSEY, NJ
651 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Overcrowding isn't limited to the small ships. On Liberty last month there was always trouble finding seats in the Windjammer. They kept making announcements encouraging people who were finished eating to leave. And this is before they add those 120 cabins to deck 12. Didn't have any problem getting drinks at the bars, but poolside service was almost non-existent.
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#15
Central Illinois
107,733 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by Ocean Boy
Now I understand your point. I thought you were saying that the staff didn't care about service because they were not getting tipped per drink. I completely agree that RCI has an incentive to reduce staff. If the staff can't get around to serving as many drinks to package customers the company makes out twice...less people on the payroll and less alcohol going out on a pre-paid package.
The current situation with getting drinks served in a timely manner reminds me of the old "per minute" internet rate. The slower the internet was, the more money the company made. The incentives should not be backwards like that.
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Bob

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Celebrity: Mercury
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#16
Central Florida
3,293 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by peteukmcr
Sorry but I don't agree about beverage packages being the cause of long waits at bars, but it's the obvious reduction in staff numbers that has caused the long lines. E.g. just 1 bar server at the R Bar in the centrum, 2 at Boleros, just 1 at the Schooner Bar, none in the Spotlight Lounge, 2 at the Island Bar on the pool deck and 2 at the main pool bar. All this was during the busiest times for those venues and so long lines ensued on Enchantment of the Seas recently.
My Enchantment experiences run counter to what you claim. During peak times: at the R Bar never less than 3, 3 or 4 at the Island Bar; and, 3 at the Viking Crown Bar. 2 at the Schooner Bar during slack times.

Some bar crowding is caused by guests who do not wait for the servers assigned to the area around a particular bar but see fit to stand at the bar waiting to be served then return to the lounge seats. This is particularly true at the R Bar.

My experiences at the Vision R Bar are similar to those on the Enchantment and I saw no degradation of bar service or reduction of servers there either.

I spend most of my evening after dinner time at the R Bar and I'd say the vast majority of the guests being served there have booze packages. Of those many are trying different drinks offered only at the R Bar. Some are reordering drinks as fast as the system allows. They do seem to get their money's worth.
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Cunard-White Star MV Georgic 1951 Southampton - NYC; Song of America '96, '97 & '98 Bermuda; Nordic Empress/Empress of the Seas '99, '01 Bermuda. '16 Grand Cayman, Key West. '17 Yucatan; Sovereign of the Seas '00, '01, '03, '04, '05, '07, '08 Bahamas; B]Monarch of the Seas[/b] '03 Central Caribbean, '09, '10, '11, '12 Bahamas; '13 Farewell Week; Celebrity Horizon '04 Bermuda; Mariner of the Seas '08 Eastern & Western Caribbean; Freedom of the Seas '09 Eastern Caribbean, '11, '12, '13, '14, '15, '16 Western Caribbean; Jewel of the Seas '10, '11 Ultimate Caribbean, '11, '12 Western Caribbean; Celebrity Equinox '12, '14 Ultimate Caribbean; Enchantment of the Seas '13, '14, '15, '16, Bahamas; Brilliance of the Seas '14 Western Caribbean; Celebrity Constellation '14 Western Caribbean; Vision of the Seas '14 Western Caribbean and Bermuda; & Bahamas; Explorer of the Seas '14 Bahamas; Legend of the Seas '15 Lesser Antilles; Majesty of the Seas Feb, Apr, May, Jun, Oct, Nov, Dec '16, Jan, Mar '17 Bahamas

Most Recent: Majesty, Mar '17

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#17
uk
662 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
I was on the same cruise and agree with some of your points. I've spent the last few days writing my own review. I've just got to work out how to add photos and then I'll upload my review so folk can read my opinion also.
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#18
Yorkshire
97 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
We've just got off the same cruise and loved it!

We're not massive sun bathers and prefer to wander round the ship during the sea days after a lie in and usually go to MDR for lunch - gravitating to the sun decks in the late afternoon when there's plenty of sun loungers available.

We did notice however, that during the day there were some available on the new Deck 13 forward and also chairs round the back of deck 12.

However, at any point in time there were loads of sunloungers "reserved" with towels - we witnessed one couple pack all their belongings into a rucksack and disappear for lunch but carefuly placing their towels on the loungers first. Anyway we just moved the towels and sat there anyway - they hadnt returned by the time we left an hour and a half later.

If people werent so selfish there would be loads of sunloungers available for the people that wanted them.

I think they should charge the refundable $25 for the towels as they did on Independence a couple of years ago - at least then people will have to return them instead of just leaving them on loungers all day, restricting their use by others.

Whilst the bars were busy and you sometimes had to wait to get served, they werent anywhere near as bad as we were expecting, given the previous reviews and certainly no worse than you'd expect in a local pub on a Friday/Saturday night.

The one thing we did notice that generally the staff werent as "smiley" and chatty as on previous cruises (more overworked and less well paid due to being mainly British guests and less tips????) other than one particular Ukrainian girl in the Sky Bar who was always helpful and cheerful, our room attendant in the new balcony rooms on Deck 12 and a girl in MDR Deck 5. Other than that everyone seemed to be going through the motions.

One particluar gripe was with Mike Cook (Chief Security Officer) who we found to be both rude and unprofessional primarily due to the following. After being told on disembarking at Villefranche that the last tender was at 7.30pm, we arrived back at the tender dock around 7.22pm to find we were the final two passengers to board (we had been sat at a bar within sight of the dock since around 6.50pm, so were well aware of the time).

Being such a beautiful place, one of the Villefranche port staff offered to take a photo of us both as we stood around 10 yards from the tender, which we thought was very nice and friendly. As we stood there, Mike shouted across, "come on hurry up, hurry up" making us feel like we were naughty schoolchildren, even though we were still 5 minutes from the final tender time.

Once we aboard the tender he then had to radio to the captain to request that we leave the tender station early (he stated the time was 7.26pm) as all passengers were now onboard.

On the journey back to the ship, he then began criticising the crew of another tender, (who apparently he'd asked to leave earlier to get the tender winched onto the ship) when the said tender was still in the water as we passed it. He wanted to know, what they'd been doing and why it wasn't winched aboard yet. I don't know the technicalities of the tender operation and they may have done something wrong, but to sit aboard a different tender and criticise the crew, clearly within earshot of passengers I found to be extremely unprofessional.

Overall though we thoroughly enjoyed the whole cruise and certainly arent put off booking again!!

We'll try and do a more detailed Port review in the near future for anyone who's interested!
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#19
uk
662 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
Originally posted by minsterman
We've just got off the same cruise and loved it!

We're not massive sun bathers and prefer to wander round the ship during the sea days after a lie in and usually go to MDR for lunch - gravitating to the sun decks in the late afternoon when there's plenty of sun loungers available.

We did notice however, that during the day there were some available on the new Deck 13 forward and also chairs round the back of deck 12.

However, at any point in time there were loads of sunloungers "reserved" with towels - we witnessed one couple pack all their belongings into a rucksack and disappear for lunch but carefuly placing their towels on the loungers first. Anyway we just moved the towels and sat there anyway - they hadnt returned by the time we left an hour and a half later.

If people werent so selfish there would be loads of sunloungers available for the people that wanted them.

I think they should charge the refundable $25 for the towels as they did on Independence a couple of years ago - at least then people will have to return them instead of just leaving them on loungers all day, restricting their use by others.

Whilst the bars were busy and you sometimes had to wait to get served, they werent anywhere near as bad as we were expecting, given the previous reviews and certainly no worse than you'd expect in a local pub on a Friday/Saturday night.

The one thing we did notice that generally the staff werent as "smiley" and chatty as on previous cruises (more overworked and less well paid due to being mainly British guests and less tips????) other than one particular Ukrainian girl in the Sky Bar who was always helpful and cheerful, our room attendant in the new balcony rooms on Deck 12 and a girl in MDR Deck 5. Other than that everyone seemed to be going through the motions.

One particluar gripe was with Mike Cook (Chief Security Officer) who we found to be both rude and unprofessional primarily due to the following. After being told on disembarking at Villefranche that the last tender was at 7.30pm, we arrived back at the tender dock around 7.22pm to find we were the final two passengers to board (we had been sat at a bar within sight of the dock since around 6.50pm, so were well aware of the time).

Being such a beautiful place, one of the Villefranche port staff offered to take a photo of us both as we stood around 10 yards from the tender, which we thought was very nice and friendly. As we stood there, Mike shouted across, "come on hurry up, hurry up" making us feel like we were naughty schoolchildren, even though we were still 5 minutes from the final tender time.

Once we aboard the tender he then had to radio to the captain to request that we leave the tender station early (he stated the time was 7.26pm) as all passengers were now onboard.

On the journey back to the ship, he then began criticising the crew of another tender, (who apparently he'd asked to leave earlier to get the tender winched onto the ship) when the said tender was still in the water as we passed it. He wanted to know, what they'd been doing and why it wasn't winched aboard yet. I don't know the technicalities of the tender operation and they may have done something wrong, but to sit aboard a different tender and criticise the crew, clearly within earshot of passengers I found to be extremely unprofessional.

Overall though we thoroughly enjoyed the whole cruise and certainly arent put off booking again!!

We'll try and do a more detailed Port review in the near future for anyone who's interested!
I love how we can be on the same cruise and have so many different view points,it's really interesting. I agree with a lot of your comments too, except for one. We are huge fans of Mike Cooke, he's been on our last 3 cruises and remembers us each time, due to the first ever convo we had with him and he realised we where from wales and his son in law is welsh. We spoke to him several times whilst on explorer and unprofessional is not a word that would ever cross my mind to describe him. To us he stands out!!
Interesting. I'm just trying to take some waffle out of my review and then I'll post it.
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Norwegian Spirit April 17



#20
Mumbai, India
525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
For European itineraries we choose Celebrity over RCI, even though we love Royal Caribbean (loyal to the family anyway). We feel that Celebrity's S class ships are the same size as the Voyager class, but they always seem less crowded. We also like the contemporary look of the ships and feel that the atmosphere is as laid back/ informal as Royal Caribbean.

We now choose Celebrity for their itinieraries (S class ships only) and RCI for their innovative new mega ships, which we're waiting to get on. You should look at Celebrity, if you like Royal Caribbean (and want to stay loyal within the RCI family). You wont be disappointed.
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2017 (May-June) - CELEBRITY REFLECTION - 11 Night Western Mediterranean - Accessible Inside - (#9206) Review
2016 (June) - ROYAL CARIBBEAN EXPLORER OF THE SEAS - 7 Night Alaska - Veranda (#9302) Review
2016 (May) - ROYAL CARIBBEAN ALLURE OF THE SEAS - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean - Veranda (#10716) Review
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