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slgray

Just back from Explorer--Any questions??

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Welcome back- we are going on our 1st cruise with royal caribbean in dec. doing the western itinerary. how was the ship, food, service, and what excursions if any did you do and would recommend? how was your cabin? any input would be appreciated and thanks in advance

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I'd love to hear how the ports were. My friends and I are doing the Western Caribbean on May 8th with the Explorer. Any recommendations?

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slgray-Please tell us anything, and everything. I've heard she is magnificent.

 

annettebms-I see you are going the same time as us. Have you joined up for the meet and mingle? There is a great group of us on the roll call boards, come stop in and say hello. Just look for the May 8, Conga line. Hope to see and chat with you soon.

 

 

 

Jessica ;)

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Hi Jessica,

 

No, i haven't posted on the meet & mingles as everyone seemed to have met already on the board. I have just been reading all the posts I can about the Explorer as it will be my friend's and my first Royal Caribbean Cruise. I was on the Norwegian Dawn and my friends were on Carnival quite a few years ago so we are really looking forward to this trip! We are looking for good tips on beaches/shopping in Grand Caymans, Cozumel and Costa Maya. I think we are doing the Lamanai excursion in Belize.

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annettebms-This is my first cruise ever, some of the people on the roll call have met before, but they welcomed me with open arms. I'm not to sure about shopping in the ports, but I'll tell you what I'm doing as far as excursions. In Belize-Nurse Shark/Ray Swim w/Coral Breeze's. In Costa Maya, just going in to Mahahaul on our own for some relaxing, sightseeing, and beach time. In Cozumel, doing the Dolphin Swim(done it before, amazing), and then probably over to San Francisco beach for some parasailing and jet-skiing. Then in Cayman, Rays, Reef, and Rum Point w/Nativeways. I've done a ton of research on excursions, so if there is anything thing I can help you with, I'll try.

 

Jessica ;)

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The food: not so good, small portions----Portofino's is pricey at $20 per person but worth it----all you can eat ice cream is yummy!!!! The pop for some reason was always flat. Mixed drinks were good. Eat in the dining room for lunch if you have the option--much better than windjammer. I have no advice for breakfast other than the made to order omelet.

 

The cabin: better than what I was hearing, I was in 9218 with a window---I really miss a balcony. Bed was really (suprisingly) comfortable. Bathroom only has a combo shampoo/conditioner (bring your own conditioner) and soap. Those were the only amenities. Also, no clock in room--bring that too. We had a room that had an adjoining room attached, however, we didn't have that room booked, but be warned!!!! We could hear everything in that room! Everything. The room to the other side of us did not have an adjoining door and we heard nothing. I think the door inside the room is not soundproofed. Pick a room that cannot adjoin.

 

The shows: We have a welcome aboard variety show--pretty good (comedian, flexible people), They had Beatles band which was very good and a comedian which was good. Not so good was the variety show "History Repeating" borrrrrring! and the ice show (kinda of techno, alice in wonderlandish).

 

The Pools: cold and salt water---kids pool was in the back under a deck (so no sun) with a little slide---Solarium area was cool --very upscale looking and quiet

 

The amenities: boardwalk area---very cool and lively, ice rink small and open only once in awhile (you need to bring pants to skate), rock wall --you have to be with your children to sign a release everyday. This takes a bit of the spontaniety away and it is a little unorganized. It's a bit hard to mini-golf on a moving ship.

 

The dining room-magnificant---it is beautiful!

 

Ports of Call: Belize-very depressed area--takes about 45 minutes to tender to the port from the ship. No reason to go there if you don't have an excursion. We kayaked there which was cool but a bit too long and very, very physical. Monkeys in the trees, iguana's, no croc's, and a pretty good lunch. Heard that the tubing excursion was fun.

 

Costa Maya: Has a dock so no tender (yeah!) worth it to get off the boat to see the little area. It is a very small shopping/dining area about the size of 2 strip malls. They have a saltwater pool in the middle of the shopping area that you can swim in and have a cocktail by the two restaurants. It was o.k. not much to see if you don't have an excusion, we didn't.

 

Cozemel- Another dock! I guess there are several doc's in Coz and we docked at the one that was the furthest from downtown. Did some shopping but very crowded and same ol same ol stuff (save shopping for Caymen) Cool little outdoor restaurant called Palmero's worth stopping in at (downtown). We didn't do an excusion here.

 

Grand Caymen: Tender but very short about 5 minutes. More upscale looking that the other ports. Shops are nicer inside and out, restaurants are better, etc. We did the "swim with the stingrays"--very cool. We didn't book this one through the boat--we booked when we got off the ship for $35 per person and they let my 7 year old go free. A big saving from the ship. However, I was a little nervous how it would go, definately wasnt' professional but all went well. The stingrays are on a sandbar in the ocean and it takes about 45 minutes or so to get there on a small boat. (the boat ride was a bit too long--a little choppy and I felt a little seasick coming back) The water is about waist deep by the stingrays and they are plentiful, my 7 year old was scared to death but gradually warmed up to the idea of being in the ocean with the stingrays. Then they stopped again at a coral reef to snorkle on the way back. Cool excursion but had no time to really do anything else but the stingrays and 2-3 stores.

 

Embarkation-Disembarking: Getting on the boat was horrible, getting off the boat a breeze

 

Pictures: 85 % of pic's taken were 8 x 10's at 19.95 a piece.

 

Bar's ---very nice and plentiful the jazz bar and sports bar on deck 14 were the best.

 

Service-was excellent

I think I covered most of it let me know what else you'd like to know.

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We are going on the same trip in two weeks... you said the boarding was awful what time did you get to the ship???? How were the formal nights???What was the percentage of men in tux vs. suits? and finally what nights were the ice shows trying to coordinate the night for Portofinos???Thanx

Granduer 1999

Victory 2001

Triumph 2003

Explorer 2005

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They scheduled the ice shows so that it doesn't interfere with any other shows. The ice show was on several nights, Saturday at 5, Friday at 7:30 , and Wednesday at7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday at 6 is a good time to go to Portofino's--the menu is Carribean in the dining room and not the strongest (our waiter told us to do Portofino on Wed. and he was right). Formal nights were Monday and Friday and only about 5-10% of men were in tux's. Some suits, some shirt and ties, and even some golf shirts. Overall though people were dressed very well. Love and Marriage game show was on Wed. night at 10:30 so you could do Portofino's at 6 the Ice Show at 9 and the game show at 10:30 (that's what we did and it worked out great)

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oops forgot to answer you question about boarding--we got to the terminal about noon and didn't get on the ship until 2:45 or so. The biggest problem is that RCCL doesn't have anyone telling you what is going on, if we knew why we were so delayed it'd be tolerable. Supposedly the guests departing the ship has 1900 non-US passengers that needed to be processed before we could board. I'll tell you the process so you know what to expect--

You wait in a long line outside the x-ray machines, gradually they start letting people through. This takes some time since they start everyone at once and there is no ebb and flow. After that you wait in another line according to your deck # (if you are a platinum member or suite cruiser you can check in at the lounge to the far right--look for this it isn't obvious) After checking in which took longer than it should we waited in another long, long line to have our photo taken to coorespond to our key card. I guess one of the machines were broken which is why this took so long. Finally, aboard the ship!!! I think we had some glitches with our cruise 1. Spring Break 2. Disembarking was slow 3. A broken camera. Hopefully this is not alway the case. They even delayed the departure and safety drill because everyone wasn't on board in time. Before I went I thought it might help if we came later but after arriving early we made the right call. The people who arrived after 2 got on the ship at 5!!!

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Thanks for your review, Slgray. The only problem is, I was excited about The Explorer since we cruise on it April 17. Now, I am wondering....??? The only good thing I see about your review are the small food portions. That could be a positive since my husband gained 9# and I gained 5# on Grandeur last June.

I have gained much knowledge on Cruise Critic boards, but I probably shouldn't ready anything & just form my own opinion.

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Don't feel that way--I am over critical by nature. It was really a good time but it wasn't all it promised. I read and research too much myself. You should just form your own opinion since everyone likes something different. Just use this as a "heads up" with certain items. For everything I hated, I'm sure someone else loved.

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slgray, good info... I think embarcation is always messy..ick

 

We'll be on EOS in July, good to know when fml nights are, and we will def. go to Portofinos(did that on Navigator two summers ago)!

 

Do you remembersome of the other 'theme' nights in the restaurant? If not its no big deal as I'm just curious :)

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Theme nights were:

Day 1-Casual

Day 2-Formal

Day 3-County Western attire or casual

Day 4-

Day 5 50's, 60's or 70's attire or casual

Day 6-Formal

Day 7

(I forgot 4 and 7 but one of them was wear your nations flag colors)

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Can you tell me if the hairdryer is attached in the bathroom or could you move it out into the main room mirror? We are 3 girls sharing a Junior suite and I was wondering if we should bring another small hairdryer along.

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The hairdryer in my cabin was in the drawer in the vaniety outside the bathroom. It didn't look like you could move it--it was plugged in behind the drawer somehow. There were outlets in the bathroom and another outlet in the vaniety. There were US and european outlet.

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Thank you for the information SLGRAY!! It is nice to know that the bathroom won't be tied up by anyone drying their hair. I like the fact that it is outside of the bathroom. It will help us get ready faster in the mornings.

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tinykygal, don't fret about your upcoming cruise. Everyone's opinion differs! Explorer gets far more positive reviews than negative. With the thousands of folks cruising everyday, someone is bound to have a negative experience sooner or later. Read the thread in the following link and you'll feel better about your cruise...

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=160653

 

By the way, Explorer is my all-time favorite ship! ;)

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slgray

 

We have nothing to add or dispute what you have said about the Explorer. We are going on her May 29th eastern and am really looking forward to it. We work about 75-100 hours each week in our own business and really need our weeks vacation.

 

The main reason for posting is this, THANK YOU for your honest and sincere answers to others questions and the way you noted the negatives you experienced. You also follow that up with "I am over critical by nature." That honest statement helps us evaluate your "personal" review. By stating this, we take it that you expect others to have a different perception of those negatives. Thanks again for not bashing the entire cruise because of your "personal" feeling towards it. Hopefully we will experience the opposite as you stated.

 

This is not intended to be a personal attack against you, again this is a thank you for the honest answers to the quesitons.

 

Tim & Crystal

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Thanks for the note--actually my original review is not all negative. Somehow it is being perceived as such. But anyway.....thanks!

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If my opinion means anything...I didn't think your review was THAT negative either. I guess that shows us how different perspectives work. I would imagine everyone runs into a few gliches along the way of any vacation. But for the record, I thought your review was pretty positive!

...But thats just me.

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I don't think anyone actually said the review was negative. Tinykygal seemed concerned because the review wasn't "glowing" and she sails on the same ship next week so I mentioned to her that there are far more positive reviews about Explorer than negative. I did not mean that slgray's review was negative. I apologize to slgray if I gave the wrong impression. ;) I too thought it was a very honest and open-minded review. But I also thought I heard tinykygal's little happy-bubble pop when she read the review. :D I imagined her saying, "WHAT? :eek: My ship isn't perfect? Oh No!!!!" I just wanted to help her restore her excitement so she doesn't cause herself to worry that her cruise will be less than she is hoping for! ;) We all know though, that there are NO bad cruises, only varying degrees of good! :D

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I apologize to any who thought I meant that the review was all negative. It was not. I just wanted to thank slgray for the negative things he/she pointed out. I never thought I stated the review was negative. I just liked and appreciated the negatives brought out in the review. He/she did post some positives.

 

Again sorry if I offened anyone.

 

Tim

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I am not offended. I just didn't want everyone to get the wrong impression. I like the quote from Bonnie Voyager , "there are no bad cruises --just varying degrees of good";)

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Something else that I noticed about the hairdryers when we were on Explorer last month...they don't stay on. You have to hold the button down the entire time. Get's tiresome. I ended up using my own blow dryer.

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Very surprised on coments on embarkment, on the Explorer in January and we got to the pier at 12:15 and was in our room by 1. Thought they did a great job and liked the fact that you registered by deck. We had all of our paper work filled out so that did not take long. Getting off the ship was a little longer as they backed the ship in and the luggage for the people who had the white slips were on the wrong side but even with this problem we were off in a hour to hour and half.

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Thanks for your review, Slgray. The only problem is, I was excited about The Explorer since we cruise on it April 17. Now, I am wondering....??? The only good thing I see about your review are the small food portions. That could be a positive since my husband gained 9# and I gained 5# on Grandeur last June.

I have gained much knowledge on Cruise Critic boards, but I probably shouldn't ready anything & just form my own opinion.

 

tinykygal, We also will be on the Explorer on the 17th of this month. Have you signed up for the meet & mingle? We only need two more and its a go.

Thanks for the review of the Explorer. I am soooo excited for this trip that i don't think it would be possible to "burst my bubble"!! I know that we will have a great time!!! Thanks again.:)

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