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Explorer 9 Nt. 8/14/14 - Review


tantine
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Just off the Explorer 9 Nt. We (myself, husband, son (10), daughter (7)) sailed on 8/14. This was our 6th cruise(the kids' 3rd) - we have sailed Norwegian and Royal. We had an amazing time!!

 

I had concerns after reading reviews about the ship falling apart and sub par food - I am glad to say we were pleasantly surprised! This was a sold out sailing but we rarely felt the crowds (except for debarkation - more to come on that later).

 

We stayed in Grand Suite 1568 and loved it!

 

Ship

The ship is in much much better shape than I expected. I read about how worn she looks -ripped carpets, rust, etc. and I can say we didn't see that. She is wonderfully maintained, clean and a really nice ship. A little rust on our deck but nothing shocking. We didn't see ripped carpets anywhere. There are some areas that could be updated but overall this is a very nice ship.

 

Stateroom

Grand Suite 1568 was great. Lots of space for storage. Refrigerator did not have too much in it to begin with so we were able to put in some water bottles that we brought on with us. Room is well maintained. Kids slept on pull out couch and were comfortable. Even with the bed open at night there is plenty of space to move around. Curtain closes to provide the bed area with privacy which helped when 4 of us were showering and getting dressed at the same time. Balcony is a nice size. Lounge chair and table with 2 chairs. The 4 of us could hang out there without being crowded at all. Marvin, our room steward, was very good. We didn't see him much but he kept the room clean and well stock with towels, etc. Pulled out the bed each night for the kids. Towel animals 4 nights. Great room!

 

Food

Overall, we were again pleasantly surprised!

Windjammer: We had read about the crowds and subpar food. At times it was crowded but never crazy. We could've taken our food into Portofino but we never needed to. We always found a table within a couple of minutes. A couple times we needed to wait until a table was cleaned but that's it. Plenty of choices - some good, some not great. There was always something to choose - we never went hungry.

 

Room Service: We ordered three times - once for breakfast and twice after returning to the ship from a port. About an hour wait each time. Burger was undercooked but chicken fingers and pizza were good. Spinach and artichoke dip was great!

 

Johnny Rocket's: Ate lunch here one day. Jess our server was great - entertained the kids with magic while we waited - very pleasant. Great milk shakes!

 

Portofino: Ate here twice - amazing dinner. Waiter Alex was great - he recommended dishes and brought a couple of dishes for us to try. Really a great meal! TBone steak, filet, and seafood tower were all very good. Risotto appetizer was great!

 

Main Dining Room: Our waiter Augustine and asst. Rosario were very good. Pleasant and professional. They were good about getting us served in a good amount of time - with kids wanted to get to the kids club, we didn't want to take 2 hours for dinner and we never needed to say it - they kept the meal moving. A couple of nights the menu items didn't sound appealing so we ordered from the classic choices which are available every night. There was never a night that we couldn't find something to eat-most nights we were very pleased with our choices. Some nights better than others but overall the main dining room was very good. Kids could order off kids menu or regular which gave them more choices. There was only one night we had to send food back - kids both ordered steak from the kids menu - the cut was not good and you could see when they came out that they were not good. Not a problem at all - they ordered something else and were served within minutes.

 

We went a couple times for lunch and once for breakfast. My husband was asked to change out of a tank top the first time we went for lunch. A couple days later the same woman asked my son to go change. Both times there were people walking in and already seated who had tank tops on. I don't have an issue with the woman enforcing their policy but it needs to apply to all - didn't seem fair. And her attitude about it was not nice at all. This was the only instance of a staff issue for us.

 

 

Adventure Ocean

I was concerned about the Kids Club because I couldn't seem to find much info about it - wasn't sure if they offered anything good. I'm so glad to say there was no reason for concern. Staff are enthusiastic and always running an activity. We did not go during the day. Usually during the evening session after dinner and a couple of nights kids wanted to stay for late night (after 10pm - cost if $7 per hour per child). The kids absolutely loved it! There were a couple of theme nights (pajama night, pirate night) which they enjoyed and a talent show on the last sea day which was cute. They made friends and enjoyed the activities - it was a nice way to get some adult time on a family cruise.

 

There seemed to be a lot of kids unattended around the ship. I don't mean the teenagers that you expect to see hanging around. A lot of kids my own kids age (7-10) walking/running around. You can make your child a self signer meaning he/she can sign themselves in and out of Adventure Ocean which explains all the kids hanging around. We did not do that. Heard a couple of people looking for their kids after they signed themselves out and parents didn't know where they were.

 

Barbie Experience

$199 - Barbie, Barbie blanket and pillow case, tote bag in the room when we embarked. Mermaid dance class, fashion workshop and fashion show activities during the cruise. We felt it was worth it - our daughter loved it!

 

Casino

Great staff both casino staff and bar servers. Slots were hit or miss - you could win or lose very quickly. A couple of people around me hit pretty good ($800, $1,000, $5,000) so I guess it is possible!

 

Staff

This is the area in which this cruise blew others away. There was not one crew member that we passed who didn't say 'hello'. All of the staff we encountered seemed genuinely happy and concerned with guests' happiness. Though we did get to know a few staff members and they did tell us about their intense work schedules, etc., you don't see it in their service. We were really amazed at the level of service.

 

Concierge

Denzil is great! Very professional and he knows his stuff. Concierge lounge on deck 9 is a little drab with no windows. We used 19th Hole which most people seemed to us. Savio is an excellent bar server who knew our names after the first day. Great appetizers - kids loved them, good drinks - awesome view!

 

We were invited as suite guests to a special dinner in the Windjammer which was amazing. Food was spectacular, décor was beautiful. We sat with Leigh (Cruise Director) and Jason (Beverage Director) and had a great time.

 

Ports of Call

Bermuda - Coco Reef Resort Day passes($59/person, no charge for the kids - includes lunch which we didn't have). Taxi $45 each way for the 4 of us. Nice taxi ride lets you see a little bit of the island. It was raining on our way to the resort but it stopped. Rained again while we were on the beach but not for too long. 10 people on the beach, 5 people at the pool. Absolutely gorgeous - a perfect beach day (except for the little rain!)

Front desk gives you towels. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are already set up on the beach.

 

St. Maarten - We rented chairs/umbrellas once we got off the water taxi (we would have gone to one of St Maarten's better beaches but we wanted to do some shopping too), and then went shopping. Returned an hour later - beach had gotten very crowded. Glad we got the chairs before we shopped. 4 chairs 2 umbrellas, 10 drinks (water, soda, beer) - $40. Spent a relaxing afternoon on the beach with our ship in the background. Would have been nice to have a couple more hours - we could've gone further into the island.

 

Puerto Rico - Our plan was to walk to El Morro, tour the fort and walk back. Once we exited the ship, there were people selling tours - 1 hour tour of the city - $10 per person. It was very hot - we chose the tour. Air conditioned bus, approx. 20 people. Driver was very informative and knowledgeable. Tour stopped in two places for photos - the Capital and El Morro. Tour ends either in the shopping area or back at the ship. We shopped and walked back to the ship.

 

Labadee - We had reserved a cabana on Barefoot Beach - Over Water #2. Absolutely amazing. This was our best day! They tell you that a golf cart will take you to barefoot beach but we couldn't find one and finally found someone to tell us where Barefoot Beach is. Not a far walk at all - we did take the golf cart back at the end of the day.

 

Beach is beautiful - you need water shoes. Entry to the beach is rocky - we forgot our water shoes in our cabin and I wish we had taken them. There are floating mats which we spent most of the day on.

 

The cabana is beautiful and relaxing - a nice way to get out of the sun. Labadee is HOT and the water was very warm. Barbeque was very good. A short walk to the buffet and you can sit at the tables closeby or take it back to your cabana. We had a wonderful day in Labadee.

 

Soda Package

We bought the soda package for myself and my son. When we had our cups with us, it was nice to have the package and fill up the cup on our way back to the cabin or on our way out to the pool. There were a couple of times we passed the machines and wished we had brought our cups. We were lucky to be one floor from Windjammer - my son enjoyed this brief freedom of going to Windjammer to get us a drink or some cookies.

 

Photo Package

We had prepaid for the $299 photo cd package. All photos on cd no prints. Our cd has over 140 photos - we got some nice family shots so to me this was worth is. You have to check your acct at the kiosk to make sure your photos are on your acct and that they are of you. A couple of times we had photos of other people in our acct so we had them removed. The first day the offered a $50 upgrade to get all the prints as well. We took the offer and the last night picked up our photos and cd. We have over 100 prints - that's a bit much - not sure we needed to do that. If you take this package, you need to find your prints around the studio and give them to the staff to add to your envelope.

 

Debarkation - A disaster. Told to meet in Concierge Lounge at 9:00 for debarkation at 9:15. (We had #2 tickets). Self debarkation was called 6 or 7 times. Then they called tickets 1-8. This results in hundreds of people crowded stairs, elevators, everywhere. Denzil got us an elevator but once we got off at 1 it was chaos. Pushing, yelling, a potentially dangerous situation while you wait for one man to scan everyone's card off the ship and then wait for the shuttle. Once we were in the terminal it was quick - luggage, customs and out the door. But you'd think after all these years Royal would have some up with a better process for getting all these people off the ship!

 

Overall a wonderful trip - amazing weather, great crew, ship and food.

Really a great time. I didn't realize I had this much to say - If I missed something, please ask!

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Thank you for the review! My family and I are doing this same itinerary on October 9th. We have only cruised Carnival so I was happy to hear your upbeat review of the Explorer. From the sounds of it we should have a great time.

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Thank you for writing the review! We are going on the Explorer in January, for 9 nights, and it was nice to read about your experience with dining, and the condition of the ship.

 

Glad that you and your family enjoyed your trip over all!

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Thank you for your review, and I'm glad you had a great experience! We love Explorer, and were planning to book this exact sailing but ended up on the Celebrity Summit last week instead.

Edited by DonnaK
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The downtown beach in St. Maarten was good. Definitely not the best beach in St. Maarten. But we wanted to do some shopping so this was our best option. It did get crowded but the water is clear and beautiful.

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I agree the demembarkment could go smoother got off just before you 8/9 cruise that boat made me want to see their other boats are up to date it was beautiful it is a little worn around the edges but nothing to complain about it does need an update. I'm glad you had a good time the mdr dinner menu was ok thank god for the old faithfuls at times it was nothing my hubby would eat. Our server was great! And Bermuda was a little rainy one day also but staying overnight was beautiful.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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The downtown beach in St. Maarten was good. Definitely not the best beach in St. Maarten. But we wanted to do some shopping so this was our best option. It did get crowded but the water is clear and beautiful.

 

Thanks for the info. Given the short day in port, there's not a lot of time to waste in taxis. That looks an option for beach time with some shopping.

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