12/4-11/05 Explorer Review from a First-Timer

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#1
8 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Hi, everyone! My DH and I lurked on this site a lot before we took our cruise. Now, I thought I would give something back. This is a review of the Explorer Western Caribbean tour from December 4-11.


Overall, this was a fantastic cruise. To give you a little background, this was a honeymoon cruise. It was my first cruise and my DH’s second.



GENERAL
Pre-Trip: We were booked for a D1 balcony stateroom (9216), but three days before the trip, we were upgraded to a Grand Suite (1248)!


Embarkation and Debarkation: Both were rather painless. We had priority embarkation because of the suite status. Love those perks!


The Ship: Sure, there were some signs of wear and tear. But, for carrying 3000 passengers every week for the past 5 years, I think it looks pretty darn good.


Our Room: Fabulous! Wonderful! Amazing! Huge balcony. Large bathroom with a tub and double sinks.


Stateroom Attendant: Kerrel from Jamaica. He was great. We didn’t see him much during the week, but there was always evidence that he had been by. Ice bucket was always full.


Concierge Lounge: Martin from Argentina is the Concierge. He was really nice. We loved being able to go there for breakfast, and for drinks and apps before dinner.




FOOD
Dinners in the Dining Room: Waiter was Marek and assistant was Tamara, from Yugoslavia and Slovakia, respectively (I think!). I do not know what everyone is talking about on here, saying the food has gone down hill. I thought it was wonderful. I definitely appreciate fine dining, and thought the food ranked highly. If you have a chance to try the Tuscan Tomato Soup, try it. That was one of the best things I ate all week. (And if anyone has the recipe, please pass it on to me!)


Lunch in the Dining Room: We ate lunch in the dining room once. Food was good. Service was horrible. Water glasses sat empty for long periods of time, and about 20 minutes elapsed between the time we finished lunch and dessert was brought out.


Portofino’s: The best $40 we’ve ever spent. Really. The food was amazing and the service was superb. I’ve never been so full in my life as I was when I left there. But, it was worth a little discomfort!


Windjammer and Island Grill: Always very crowded. The food was decent. Nothing spectacular.


Café Promenade: Great for an afternoon snack. Pizza was like upscale frozen pizza. Definitely edible.




ENTERTAINMENT
Planet Ice Show: Horrible. We left early. I normally love ice skating, but I found the show to be very disappointing. Didn't seem to have a plot. Skating was decent.


Gizmo Guys: The best jugglers I’ve ever seen. They were spectacular. Let’s put it this way: one of the guys juggled 5 balls – from his mouth!


Love & Marriage Game: Very funny to watch.




PORTS
Belize City: We booked a snorkeling excursion through Coral Breeze. It was very well run and the guides were informative and funny. We got to snorkel around the reef, then with nurse sharks and stingrays. The town itself was unimpressive.


Costa Maya: We took a $3 pp bus ride to Mahajual, and spent the day at a beach-side restaurant (Guero?). We ordered lunch and drinks and were waited on the rest of the day since we sat in their beach chairs. Very nice, relaxing time. We shopped a little in Costa Maya at the end of the day. You definitely have to bargain with these guys, but we got some great gifts.


Grand Cayman: We took the Rays, Reef and Rum tour through Native Way. It included a stop in Stingray City, snorkeling at the reef, and lunch and relaxation at Rum Point. Our guides were great, wrangling stingrays for us, and coaxing an eel out of his hiding place for us to see while snorkeling. Rum Point was the most relaxing beach I’ve ever been to, with tons of trees providing shade from the very intense Cayman sun. We definitely want to go back there.



I think that’s it. We had a great time!
#2
Long Island, NY
124 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
OK - It's only a matter of minutes before this question is posted - how did you get so lucky to get that kind of upgrade?
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#3
8 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Not really sure how we managed it. But, I have some theories.

1) The room was open and they decided to upgrade a honeymooning couple.

2) Someone needed our old room, because it adjoined to a JS.

Interestingly, one of the other honeymooning couples we ate dinner with were upgraded as well. So, I'm thinking it's more number 1 than 2.

Whatever it was, I'm now spoiled by the GS!
#4
Rhode Island, U.S.A.
22,899 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
I'm a bit surprised that you didn't like Planet Ice. I saw it three years ago when I was aboard so I don't even know if it is the same show now as it was then. I was so impressed with it back then that I went to see it twice. I thought it was better than the ice show aboard Mariner that had something to do with a Russian Circus. I didn't like the music used anywhere near as much as in Explorer's show.

I'm glad you enjoyed the ship. She is my favorite. Someday I will be back!!
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#5
St Peters, MO
211 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I will be on the Explorer in April and I was wondering when is the best night to eat at Portofino's instead of the dining room. Also do you have a copy of any of your cruise compass.

Thanks
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#6
8 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
Sorry, but I don't have copies of my Compasses to post. We went to Portofino's on Caribbean night (your first Cruise Compass will tell you which night that is), because I heard the food wasn't as good that night. But, when I saw that menu, I saw lots of things I would have eaten! I recommend making your reservation as soon as you board the ship. I called within an hour and many of the times we wanted were taken.
#7
9 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
I was on the same cruise with you...I had a blast. It was my family's first cruise. I can't believe of all the vacations we've taken, this was our first cruise! We have already looked into booking a cruise for next year.
I have no complaints about the cruise, only that my motion sickness medication blurred my vision for the entire trip. It was better than being sick though.
In Belize, we took the Jungle Buggy and Mayan cave tour. It was amazing...what a beautiful country. In Mexico, we did the crocodile swamp...it was silly, but for 15 bux it was cool to walk on those 35 ft high suspension bridges...over a crocodile swamp. In Grand Caymen, we visited Hell for about 20 min, sent postcards and returned to 7 mile beach to relax for the rest of the day.
We had a great time, I sincerely miss our dining room waiter Madhu and the bar singer Shane Topper. He was great. Monday I uploaded about 350 pictures from the trip. I sit here in NJ, in the cold and the snow and dream of being back on that ship!