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Explorer vs. Freedom

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I know these are out of 2 very different ports, but logistics make them the most accessible for us.


The only other RCCL ship we have cruised is Independence, which we loved- I know Freedom is the same class so I know we will love her too :-)


We love the length of cruise (9 day vs 7) offered on Explorer, and the ports really interest us- whereas ports on Freedom are not exciting for us at all (how many times can we possibly go GC and Cozumel anyway??? lol) If I felt that Explorer as a ship will not disappoint it's the obvious choice.


Explorer, as I understand it is slightly smaller, older, and has fewer of the "fun things", is this correct?


So for those that have sailed both- what do YOU think?

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I would definitely choose the 9 day more interesting itinerary. Explorer is a great ship-just a tiny bit smaller than the Freedom but it has lots of places to hang out. The ice show, theatre, bars, restaurants, casino are as good or better than Freedom. It's just missing a flow-rider.

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The only thing that stands out as really different on the two classes of ships is the H2O zone. My kids love it and I'm glad that our next cruise will be on Freedom because of it. If I were going with just adults or teenagers, then both ships would be equal to me.

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Explorer (a voyager class) will not have:

* Sorrentos (pizza instead will be in Cafe Promenade)

* Cantilevered hot tubs (solarium does have two hot tubs, just not over the ocean)

* Flowrider (although the Navigator is getting one -- maybe other Voyager class ships will also)

* And as already mentioned the H2O Zone.

Everything else, including the basic layout, is the same and the freedom class.

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Explorer is a fantastic ship. You will not be disappointed unless the only things you cruise for are the flow rider and the cantilever hot tubs. She is a little older and in rougher conditions regularly, but is very well maintained.


100% of the time we choose a longer itinerary over anything else, if it is an option. the flights usually cost about the same, there and back, no matter if you stay for 2 days or 2 weeks. We pay our pet sitters (friends) off with a nice dinner, and they get all the eggs they can eat for the duration of our trip (we have chickens). So for us it really costs about the same to be gone on a longer trip as it does a shorter one. We do not like shorter trips as it just barely starts to feel like you are relaxing and you have to pack up and go home. Even better if the longer trip has preferred ports.

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I also say go on the Explorer. More days on the ship are always better. What it comes down to is what are you looking for in your cruise? Is it just adults, or will there be children coming too? Both ships are beautiful ships. You already know what the Freedom will be like. The Explorer doesn't have the bells and whistles, but is still a beautiful ship. They both have the Royal Promenade and Ice skating rink. Either cruise will be a great one, but 2 extra days on a ship are always a big benefit!

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We did the 9 day Explorer cruise last year and it was great. Leaving out of NJ was very convenient and the ports were fun. One thing I didn't like was that we only had a few hours at most of the ports. We only had the morning in San Juan and only the afternoon in St Maarten which made it hard to plan excursions. Keep that in mind when looking at the itinerary. Explorer and Freedom are both great ships with plenty to keep you occupied. I would choose based on the islands you want to visit as you can't go wrong with either ship.

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Just got off the Explorer for the fourth time. She's a great ship. The cruise right before that one was on the Freedom and I noticed a few things that I wouldn't have thought of before had I not been practically back to back on them. The showers on the Explorer were about twice the size of the Freedom showers!! I'm not kidding. The balconies on select cabins (mainly the one we had) was way smaller on the Explorer and you have the steel structure around the balconies rather than the more open balconies with lots of glass on the Freedom. The Windjammer on the Freedom was jammed packed crowded ALL the time......well......every time I was in there anyway!! The Explorer WJ never felt too crowded.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Explorer. She is in good shape and has a wonderful crew.

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We go between Voyager and Freedom class ships very easily. I don't think Explorer would disappoint you after having been on Independence. We have done both of those classes of ship after having sailed Oasis also and we still enjoy the "smaller" ships just as much as when we first sailed them.


Unless you absolutely have to have a flow rider to enjoy the cruise I would say pick by itinerary.

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I love it when people refer to the Explorer and Freedom class as "smaller" ships:D.


Other differences-


Freedom class has two flying bridges that descend from above during Promenade shows and events. Explorer has a single fixed bridge that the stilt walkers have to duck as they clump along underneath.


Freedom class is 60 feet longer which is obvious on the Promenade and the pool deck with the Freedoms having a slightly larger adult Solarium and the H20 pool.


I don't think that the Jammie is that much larger on the Freedom class then the Explorer accounting for the more crowded feel. I could be wrong on this as DW forcibly pitched my large collection of Cruise Travel magazines when we relocated from NY to Fla, which were a good source of numeric data about many ships.


We did a 14 night TA crossing on the Indy and spent many hours going back and forth on the Promenade. 3 weeks later we did a 12 night holiday cruise on the Explorer out of NY. Our body systems were stilled tuned to the longer Indy Promenade and for the first few days we felt "Something is wrong, the Promenade ended too soon,:)


On the Freedom class Cafe Promenade is split into 3 venues - Cafe Promenade for snacks and sandwiches, Sorrentos at the other end for pizza, and Ice Cream in the middle under the cow. On the Explorer, there is only one spot, right where the Cafe is on the Freedom.


That being said, 9 nights trumps 7 nights always.


Enjoy the trip.

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