RSSC EXPLORER MIAMI TO LISBON AND ON TO BARCELONA
March 25th to April 18th 2019
We left Miami full of anticipation for our first Cruise on the RSSC Explorer and after all the Regent Hype regarding the “Most Luxurious Cruise Ship in the World” we were expecting great things. We have previously sailed twice on the Mariner and also on our all-time favorite the Seven Seas Diamond Catamaran but most of our cruising has been on Seabourn and SilverSeas. This would be our fifth crossing and our favorite way of getting to the other side with many relaxing Sea Days.
The big question of course is was our anticipation justified? The answer to that is no and yes. Firstly the weather did not co-operate and it was a wet, windy, rough and cold crossing. The rough weather started the second night out of Miami and let up a bit our first day in Bermuda then came with a vengeance our second day and never let up as we crossed the Atlantic to our first stop in the Azores and onwards. This brought up our first big disappointment ‘THE SHIP`!!.....The Explorer appears to be top Heavy and the continuous pitching and rolling made for sleepless nights and uncomfortable days. Stabilizers are supposed to correct or at least help with the rolling but did the Captain refrain from frequently using these as it apparently causes a speed reduction of one to two knots and we were on a tight schedule?
There is no outside area to turn to as with the strong winds the upper jogging deck 12 was closed off. For the same reason the pool was mostly empty and the strong cold winds made that area unusable, similarly the infinity pool area behind the Spa. There was an uncomfortable feeling of being hermetically sealed inside the ship. As others have pointed out there is a definite lack of outside space especially when many of the suite balconies were not useable as they were always wet and salt encrusted…. It is to be hoped that the designers of the Splendor would have recognized this outside space shortcoming, but perhaps it is too late for that now. Originally the Explorer was designed with glass on the balconies but had to be redesigned due to the top heaviness observed by the Miami designers (according to the Explorer build video shown on the ships TV) and steel rails were substituted. Would glass instead of steel have made the balconies drier and more useable? It’s a matter of conjecture but our personal experience on other Cruise Lines would indicate so…too bad they did not just remove the top deck instead.
Frankly the Explorer Hull has to be one of the worst riding ships that we have experienced and we have been in Hurricane conditions on many ships including both the Silver Shadow and Seabourn Quest without the discomfort that we felt on this ship. Has Regent maybe tried to put to many decks onto too short a Hull?...would she be better balanced if they had left off the 14th (actually 13th. ) deck ??
Another area of disappointment was the lack of communication from the Captain who seldom deviated from his daily noon scripted message.
We enjoyed the large gym although its placement on the stern made working out at times a difficult balancing act but not so the Canyon Ranch Spa which was overpriced and underserved and really took up far too much space which maybe could have been better served with a more useable outdoor area.
Was all Doom and Gloom on this trip...absolutely not! We had some of the best food and met many friendly and outstanding staff on our 24 days on board.
With the exception of the first two nights in Compass Rose where we sent back both our dinners for being over cooked before we discovered the answer. The secret was always request the Starboard side and to the back of Compass Rose and our favorite waiter ‘Jonathan`. Interestingly one of these poor meals happened when we were seated next to a table occupied by Regent President Jason Montague and his guests. He was on board until Bermuda.
There were only 625 guests on the crossing so we were lucky to be able to dine many times in the various restaurants on board. (This flexibility changed on the second cruise when the passenger numbers increased to 740) Many of the restaurants were exceptional from Chartreuse with Jeorges who we knew from Silversea`s to Prime 7 and Pacific Rim (our least favorite ) However our all-time favorite was Sette Marie run by a very personable and efficient young Lady, Theresa from Italy. We frankly had many Italian dishes that had to rate as some of the best Italian that we have had anywhere in the World including Italy!. The Veranda restaurant however was a hit and miss affair sometimes very good but often lack luster. We tended to avoid it when we could especially when Chartreuse and Prime 7 were often open for lunch. By far the worst eating spot on the ship was the Pool Grill. It was like a cold wind tunnel, the food was many times totally inedible and the staff behind the counters were grumpy and often darn right rude. They obviously did not want to be there.
We indicated this on all the comment forms that we received during the back to back cruises but never received any indication or feedback that any attention was being paid to any comments and suggestions. A notable difference from Seabourn where comment cards always elicited a quick response. During our Cruise Critic meet and greet reception on the second day on board Stephane the F&B director and the GM Michael Coghlan introduced themselves and indicated that their doors were always open! Well we never saw Stephane again and Mr. Coghlan’s door was in fact always open but we never saw him in the ‘GM Office` next to reception!.
The Entertainment was what one would expect on a ship this size some very good and others not so good but in everything the very personable Lorraine Weimerskirch Cruise Director was very visible and obviously doing her best with what she had to work with. Ross the Pianist was exceptional and made the Observation Lounge a delightful place to visit before or after dinner for a drink.
The Suites were without a doubt some if not the best at sea, well designed with very high end and comfortable furniture. Our Explorer suite on deck nine was an example of this excellent design and other than the almost constant movement of the ship felt very safe and relaxing. While our butler was not the best that we have had on various ships, both he and the suite steward did their best to make our cruise as comfortable as possible including dealing with constant Toilet problems. Either the toilets (two) would not flush or the noise was so intense that plugging ones ears were necessary every time. We have incidentally added three posts on Cruise Critic with pictures of some of the top suites showing their elegant design.
I am sure that there are those on this board who will disagree or take exception to some of our comments but this is our own personal views as to how we perceived the Explorer and the cruise in general and we are not going to enter into a back and forth discussion on this. Would our comments have been different had we had smooth seas and light winds?, quite possibly regarding the ship and how she handled the seas but this is what we experienced and everything else would have been the same.
We for one will not be going back to the Explorer for many of the reasons listed above but would return to the Mariner which we much preferred.