Just thought I'd give a review of our cruise on the Explorer Oct 16 Eastern Caribbean. We had 13 family members from age 4-54. We let RCCL book our air. We flew into Miami and it was a later flight so we felt rushed when we got on the ship. Check in took about 20 minutes. Not too bad. It was 4:30 when we got on the boat so we missed the Welcome Aboard lunch buffet which meant nothing to eat until dinner. Next time we will book our own air and get there earlier.
We wanted the late seating but they were unable to change us from early since there was 13 of us. It worked out okay, we just seemed rushed to get back on the ship and get ready for dinner every night. One night we ate at the Windjammer because when we got back from San Juan we didn't have time to get ready by 6:00.
Dining room service was okay. We've had better. It took a long time to get refills on Tea and Lemonade. I know they work really hard and I tried to be patient. The waiter was very good with always having a riddle for my 12 year old to try and solve each night. It was fun.
The asst. waiter was very shy and didn't say too much. One time I hurt his feelings by asking him if it was too much trouble for him to get the Lemondade. I just meant "Do you have to go to Windjammer to get it because we wouldn't order it anymore if it was too much trouble" I tried to explain to him that I wasn't mad or upset, but he just didn't get what I was asking. This was his first contract on a cruise and I think he was just young and unsure of himself still.
Day 1 Day at Sea- Weather was great. We tried to get familiarized with this huge ship. It took us a couple of days to remember which floors went all the way from front to back (we are a little slow) My kids (age 9 and 12) enjoyed basketball, putt putt golf, ice skating and the pool. The adults enjoyed pool, casino, and the evening show which was a comedian.
Day 2 San Juan- Weather was humid, but only a ten minute shower. We had expected much worse since the forcast was 60% chance of thunderstorms. This was probably my least favorite port of all of my 6 cruises. I didn't like the shopping there. We hadn't planned an excursion. We just walked to the San Cristobal fort and down a few streets. That was enough for us. We headed back to the ship.
Day 3 St Maarten- Another beautiful sunny day. We went to the butterfly farm first. It wasn't quite what we expected. It was just okay.
I thought that the butterflies would be thick and flying all around and they weren't. My 8 year old enjoyed it. Then we went to LeGalion Beach which I read on Cruise Critic to be a great beach for little kids. It was a pretty beach and the kids could walk out several yards before it was too deep, but it had a lot of seaweed on the ocean floor. We didn't like that. We were told that it would be easy to call a cab when ready to leave, but the guy at the little food shack tried to call someone and they didn't answer so he told us we would need to walk over to Orient Beach (the nude beach) to get a cab. Well I didn't want to take my kids over there so my mom and I took about a 15 minute walk over there to get us a cab. (Some people definately need to leave their clothes on) Anyway we made it back to the ship on time to get ready for dinner.
Day 4 St Thomas- Another great day of sunshine. We did a tour with Godfrey ( A tour I learned about here at Cruise Critic) He gets great reviews. However, it didn't go too smooth for us. He was late picking us up at the ship by about 15 minutes. He apparently has more than 1 bus, so he wasn't even the one to take us on the tour. It was another man that didn't say too much about the island and when he did talk you couldn't understand him. When he picked us up from shopping, he was suppose to be there at 11:45 and didn't arrive until 12:00. Then the other people that was suppose to join us on the bus thought that it was going to be their private tour and they didn't realize that he had brought us to the shopping area at 9:00 and them at 10:00. So at noon, when they saw us on the bus they didn't want to join us. So while they were arguing with Godfrey about not enough room, it was putting us behind schedule. Plus we were double parked and Godfrey's driver got a hundred dollar ticket. Finally, the other group squeezed on the bus and we went for our 2 hour site seeing tour that had to be rushed into 1 1/2 hour. (Really that was plenting of time for us) Next he dropped us off at Cokki beach for 2 hours. It was beautiful. Everyone in my family would have rathered stayed there all day. Then we headed back to the ship and only had 5 minutes to spare. It made me very nervous!!
Day 5- Day at Sea. Great weather, slept in finally. The interior rooms make it very easy to sleep late! Lots of fun. Pool, rock climbing, basketball, ice skating, ping pong, a little relaxing and the ice skating show. It was awesome to see the skaters perform the stunts on such a small rink. The theme of the show was a bit odd, but the skaters were great.
Day 6- Nassau - Yet another great day of sunshine. All this great weather while Hurricane Wilma was reaking havoc in the Western Caribbean. The port was very crouded since other ships had to be diverted. We did the straw market and then upon a suggestion from a local, we just walked around the corner to the beach. Not a good idea. This was not a very nice beach, so we grabbed the #10 bus and took it to Cable Beach. We went on the beach by the Raddison Hotel. Very nice and we were able to use their chairs for free. Definately hit this beach instead of the other one.
Day 7- I thought that we might get an extra couple of days at Sea since the first projection of Hurricane Wilma was to hit Florida on Sunday, but since it stalled we arrived in Miami around 4:00 am. They let people off the ship early if they wanted to try and make earlier flights. We had to transfer to Ft Lauderdale via bus, and was shocked that there wasn't much evacuation traffic. I guess everyone who left had already went on Friday. We made it back to OK. by 6:45 pm to 40 degree weather. Yuck.
When I woke up Monday morning and saw how devastating the Hurricane was to Florida it was hard to believe that we had just been there less than 24 hours earlier and it wasn't even raining. Thank the Lord we made it home before it hit.
If you have any specific questions regarding the ship or the Kids Program just give me an email.