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Hoopster95

EXPLORER IS BACK! May 16-20, 2016 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Hello CC family,

 

I arrived home from a very short (WAAAAAAY too short) cruise on Explorer this morning... really nice little cruise, great staff, great food in specialty venues, superb entertainment led by Graham Seymour, just a great little getaway for us West Coasters I totally recommend in the future.

 

I'll try to put together a short report for all of you with a ton of photos of the ship, plus this itinerary will be available next year so there may be some questions on formal night (is there even a formal night?), is there a Quest or not, Nanaimo as a destination, etc. I'll put together the report much in the same way as my last reviews, but having only 4 days on board I just couldn't possibly do/know everything that went on, so any of you that sailed with me please do chime in to say hello and maybe add something that I missed if you wish when we're on a specific topic.

 

But for tonight, here's a couple of teaser images until I can get more photos loaded....

 

Explorer for the very 1st time docked at Nanaimo

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Explorer of in the distance in Victoria (taken from the beach at the base of Beacon Hill Park)

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A ship not photographed too often! Excited to see more, she looks beautiful in Victoria! :)

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Sorry for the delay folks! Mega busy with work.

Will get back to this review over this weekend at some point :)

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I'm looking forward to seeing your photos! We have booked our very first cruise for next January and we are sailing on Explorer.

Edited by CupcakeSusie
autocorrect

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Thank you for doing this! DD will be on Explorer in Sept. And I have an Alaska cruise booked on her next year. So glad to have her out here on the West Coast! Looking foreword to your review, especially the pictures!

Thanks Again!

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Hello everybody,

 

For anyone who sailed on this cruise and can help, please post the Day 1 Compass. I thought I had kept it, but I can't find it. Also Day 3 Nanaimo was a day that I ripped the planner out for the evening to put in my pocket and forgot to replace it with a full compass. For now I will post what I have. I had again a full day of work today with very little time to work on this review but will be doing so over the next few days... still going through photos and need to upload to Photobucket and resize before posting. Thx for your patience everyone and hang in there

 

Day 1 Cruise Compass --- missing! Someone go ahead and post it if you wish

 

Day 2 Cruise Compass:

 

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Day 3 Cruise Compass --- if someone has pages 3 & 4 please post:

 

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I miss this ship. We sailed her so many times from Bayonne. It was home away from home. It's a wonderful ship with a wonderful staff.

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Looking forward to our September 2016 Pacific Coastal Cruise aboard the Explorer. The last time we sailed on her was March 2009 out of Bayonne.

Edited by davekathy

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I was soooooo ready for this break, albeit only 4 days. Almost 2 yrs ago I had the May 5th 9-day Anthem sailing booked, then had to change that and ended up booking a bucket list Med sailing on Jewel for May 23 also for 9 days.... then due to unforseen issues had to cancel that too. Very tough year for me personally and the busiest year ever on record for me business wise so likely things were meant to be. This 4 day sailing was the perfect short getaway mid-week with no flights:

 

Monday, May 16 - Seattle embarkation

Tuesday, May 17 - Victoria

Wednesday, May 18 - Nanaimo

Thursday, May 19 - at sea

Friday, May 20 - Disembarkation

 

I booked this cruise surprisingly on the Going, Going, Gone sail as a solo at an extremely great deal in a M interior. Turns out my new gf was able to get time off and join me, and only 6 days prior was able to add her to my booking with no change of price whatsoever (only port taxes).

 

It's always an extremely rare treat when I'm not flying a red eye to Fort Lauderdale, Houston, San Juan or New York to get to a ship. How super nice was it to leave my house around 8am, stop for 2 bottles of wine, bathroom break and little breakfast, and be parking down at Seattle's Pier 91 parking lot at approx 11:15am with no 10 hour flights (with connections), hotels, etc. That was the easy part....

 

Embarkation was not the smoothest. Firstly Pier 91 cruise parking is outrageously expensive at $26 per day (now add a 20-25% exchange for the Canadian buck!). But heck, it was only a 4 day cruise and I wanted the convenience to be right there closest to the pier. The price has gone up big time since I did Alaska on Rhapsody back in 2013. I had thought it may be easy to walk to the pier rather than wait for the shuttle, but 3 yrs ago I couldn't remember if there was ability to walk from the parking to the ship either. Here's my first glimpse of Explorer in the near distance from the parking area

 

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Looks close yes? But it's quite industrial there so doesn't look convenient nor well marked for walking (I was wrong as I'll explain later), so we waited under the tent for the parking shuttle with about 100 others

or so. And we waited... and we waited... and we waited... and the lines grew larger and larger. The parking lot only had two 15 seat small buses staffed. How stupid when they've known since this itinerary was established there would be a 3000+ passenger ship docked here on this day! After a good long almost 1 hour wait we finally were able to get onto one of the shuttles and I payed close attention to any possible walking paths. There definitely is one! I followed it all the way to the pier the best I could so that I would not get caught in any ridiculous waiting lines upon our return. Ill have pictures and some instructions at the end of this review. Seriously, if not raining and you are mobile without mega luggage, the walk was at most 15min (I should have timed it as I feel it was more like 10min but I do walk quickly). Here's one pic I snapped from the bus with the large lined walking area leading into the entry of the pier.

 

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Once dropped off, porters were right there by the shuttle/bus area and we handed our luggage in. Arriving at the Pier I noticed the lines right away outside, snaking at the front of the building and going all the way in and this is when I first thought to myself we will have embarkation issues with the USGH inspections as Explorer has just arrived from a 24 night overseas sailing from Sydney and has not been in the US for a few years, and the likelyhood of change of staff, immigration issues for "zero-count", etc would delay boarding. Moving across the roadway to actually get into the pier building, another long line emerged from within the building to the outside, with another 15-20min wait or so as it slowly moved through.

 

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Thankfully once inside the D+ and up priority line was shorter than the regular line, and then the priority-line after the security check to get up the escalator to check-in was also much MUCH shorter than the regular line. All in all, the priority lines from line-up outside to the check-in desk was likely about 1/2 hour. Those in the regular line were easily over 1 hour (likely the 1.5-2 hour range in my estomation). Soon we were heading up the escalator with our first close-up view of the Explorer. I was hungry and ready for lunch... WJ here we come!! .... hmmmm, maybe not. Stay tuned

 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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Thankfully once inside the D+ and up priority line was shorter than the regular line, and then the priority-line after the security check to get up the escalator to check-in was also much MUCH shorter than the regular line.

 

 

 

We were on the same cruise and found check in a bit different.

 

One line was for Suite and Pinnacle

 

One Line was for:

Diamond+

Diamond

Emerald

Platinum

 

Yes, all bunched together. The line was so long that we jumped to the line reserved for Gold and were checked in much quicker. Is something wrong here?

 

I do appreciate your report and look forward to seeing your evaluation of the Windjammer fiasco on the first day, not to mention the MTD major problems.

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Your estimate of 1.5 to 2 hours for the non-Diamonds at noonish is right on. Doing this with a 3 year old in tow was not an enjoyable start to the trip. Glad that I had packed toddler friendly foods and that by the time we boarded (after 2 o'clock) our cabin was ready and we picnic'd on the balcony and avoided the mess in the Windjammer.

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I miss this ship. We sailed her so many times from Bayonne. It was home away from home. It's a wonderful ship with a wonderful staff.

 

I heartily agree! Sorry she left Bayonne. I love the smaller ships.

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I was on this short cruise and have to say I was pretty disappointed. I was on the Explorer Bayonne to Bermuda/E Caribbean in June of 2012 and had a good time. The activities on this cruise were good: entertainers were pretty good, Royal Promenade is fun (disco party on first night), rock climbing wall, ice show, and the recently added Flowrider were great. But the food was pretty poor. First night's prime rib was skimpy, overcooked, and oversalted au jus, the crème brulee was atrocious (clumpy, and it's NOT difficult to make), carrot cake more solid than cake-like, and the melon at breakfast had been frozen. Perhaps they're trying to steer us to the specialty restaurants, or perhaps they just didn't care as this was a pre-season sampler cruise. This was my 3rd RC cruise, and I'm not sure I'd return. Princess does it better (sailed on the Royal Princess in December).

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So now it's about 12:30'ish and we were hungry! So without further adieu, instead of turning the corner and heading up to the Promenade on deck 5 for gf's first ever live view of the Promenade, we decided to shoot up to the Wj right away as we were both ready for lunch. Getting off at 11 I was floored at what I saw... a MASSIVE line wrapping all the way out the door, past the elevator lobby and onto the pool deck. Looking out the pool deck I lost sight of the end of the line as it went way over to the other side towards the Solarium. Incredulously, I went up to the front to ask the WJ attendant what was going on and he said they have been closed. I knew exactly why... the USCG inspection. I quickly made up my mind to get down to the Promenade after all and over to Sorrento's for a sandwich to tide us over. The line-up was only about 20 people deep but the selection was really poor with only turkey & tuna sandwiches available along with a few cookies/desert type of foods. By the time we made it to the front all the turkey was gone so we opted for 2 tuna and 2 cookies... the tuna sandwiches maybe had a teaspoon of tuna salad and the rest was the bun. What can you do? We made do, snarfed those down and went on our way to explore the ship.

 

It was now past 1pm so I wanted to make our way up to our cabin right away, in the meantime I snapped my first photos on 7 as we went up the stairs.

 

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The sculptures in the Centrums are quite ugly imho, both of them on either side! I'll have a few more pics through the review. We made our way to deck 8 on our M interior cabin aft to find the room had been made up with both beds separated... many people have asked on CC what the interior rooms look like with beds separated so here it is

 

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I normally take a few shots of the interior hallways as the interiors do change from ship to ship a bit. Here's the interior passage ways at the entrance to the elevator lobby on 8, which are the same on most cabin decks. This is the elevator lobby at my deck 8 on the port side, with full view aft from the "map" as well as forward as the hump begins looking forward

 

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I was on this short cruise and have to say I was pretty disappointed.The activities on this cruise were good: entertainers were pretty good, Royal Promenade is fun (disco party on first night), rock climbing wall, ice show, and the recently added Flowrider were great. But the food was pretty poor. First night's prime rib was skimpy, overcooked, and oversalted au jus, the crème brulee was atrocious (clumpy, and it's NOT difficult to make), carrot cake more solid than cake-like, and the melon at breakfast had been frozen.

 

Thx for following along dagama. As I go forward with this review you'll see that I agree with you. We went to MDR on night #2 and never returned. On the positive side both Chops & Giovanni's were excellent, and the entertainment was extra good considering this was a shorter cruise... I thought they might throw in a couple of "B" acts but all 4 nights were excellent with a new Production Show I hadn't seen before as well as a new Ice Show.

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We were on the same cruise and found check in a bit different.

 

One line was for Suite and Pinnacle

 

One Line was for:

Diamond+

Diamond

Emerald

Platinum

 

Yes, all bunched together. The line was so long that we jumped to the line reserved for Gold and were checked in much quicker. Is something wrong here?

 

I do appreciate your report and look forward to seeing your evaluation of the Windjammer fiasco on the first day, not to mention the MTD major problems.

 

Hey Yogimax! Thx for following along... hope you had a good sailing.

Yes, the lines you're speaking of I believe were at check-in. The ones I was mentioning in my explanation were downstairs before going up the escalator... they were slightly different. When I got up there to the check-in area atop the escalator the "lowly" (lol :D) gold check-in line and Platinum/Emerald/D/D+ lines were totally equal so there was no priority there at all. The PN & suite line right beside me had only 3 people there at any one time so they got through very quickly from what I saw

Edited by Hoopster95

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Having dumped our stuff in the cabin, we were ready to start exploring The Explorer. We made our way out and I decided to take a few picks of the Promenade from the various decks... in the meantime we were right there in front of RC Online on Deck 8 so we decided to start our tour right there. I did not even log-in once so I can't help anyone who may ask an internet question... I had my iphone with me and residing in BC I turned of me cellular data but was able to text and call when on shore when I needed to, so I didn't bother with any on-board wifi.

 

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Heading out I wanted to check out the view of the Promenade from one od the Romeo&Juliet balconies that are located at the dead end of the elevator lobbies on decks 6, 7 and 8. Here's the view from deck 8 both down the Promenade and back towards RC OnLine. You can also see deck 7 (Library) and the "bow" of deck 6 jutting out where "Next Cruise" desks are located. I love that winding sculpture art and have several photos at the various decks, it's beautiful and has some inlay artwork you can;t see from afar. Take a close look at it when you're on board, it really is gorgeous.

 

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As mentioned in the previous posts, images from the Library on Deck 6...

 

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.... and Next Cruise on Deck 6 looking both into the seating area as well as a shot from standing at the outcropping "bow" looking out at the Promenade for you to enjoy. Note that only Deck 6 is open out to the Promenade, whereas Deck 7 and 8 is separated by floor to ceiling glass.

 

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That's it for tonight.... will continue tomorrow.

Thx for the kind words from all of you that have done so and thx for following along to everyone who's clicked on this review so far.

Edited by Hoopster95

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Looking forward to more sailing on her end of September

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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Your nightly posts have made my day. Thank you for taking the time to share your trip with the rest of us. Can't wait until we experience the Explorer in August for ourselves!

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Following. I'll be on her within two weeks! One of my favorite ships. :)

 

We are also on this cruise. WE will probably be well known due to the company we are traveling in. Look for 11 West Coasters and 2 Midwest hanger ons. We tend to be happy noisy and involved !

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We are also on this cruise. WE will probably be well known due to the company we are traveling in. Look for 11 West Coasters and 2 Midwest hanger ons. We tend to be happy noisy and involved !

 

Sounds like we may spot you! Alaska is my favorite of all 44 sailings. Enjoy:D

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we decided to shoot up to the Wj right away as we were both ready for lunch. Getting off at 11 I was floored at what I saw... a MASSIVE line wrapping all the way out the door, past the elevator lobby and onto the pool deck. Looking out the pool deck I lost sight of the end of the line as it went way over to the other side towards the Solarium.

 

Very nice review and photos Hoopster!

 

The Windjammer finally opened at 11:30 but half of the sections were closed. We chose what appeared to be shortest of three lines and waited about 30-45 minutes to reach the food. The food consisted ONLY of hot dogs, hamburgers and a few French fries.

 

We had My Time Dining reserved for 7:30PM. When we got down to deck 5 we saw a mob of over 100 people jammed into the hallways and no one was moving. The explanation given was people were not leaving the dining room. We wound up going to the late seating at 8PM. I will say that they fixed this problem for the next three nights.

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I booked this cruise surprisingly on the Going, Going, Gone sail as a solo at an extremely great deal in a M interior. Turns out my new gf was able to get time off and join me, and only 6 days prior was able to add her to my booking with no change of price whatsoever (only port taxes).

 

My 2 girlfriends and I would like to take this cruise next May. How late did you wait before booking this cruise?

 

Thanks for the review!

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My 2 girlfriends and I would like to take this cruise next May. How late did you wait before booking this cruise?

Thanks for the review!

 

I booked on Monday, Apr 4 when the Tue Going Going Gone sail prices are available to Crown & Anchor. On the Tuesday Apr 5 that same M interior was up close to $80 per person, within a week the sailing was almost sold out with only a few balconies left. Looks like I hit that sweet spot at about 45-60 days out.

Edited by Hoopster95

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Very nice review and photos Hoopster!

The Windjammer finally opened at 11:30 but half of the sections were closed. We chose what appeared to be shortest of three lines and waited about 30-45 minutes to reach the food. The food consisted ONLY of hot dogs, hamburgers and a few French fries.

 

Ah so WJ was open with that humungous line all waiting, wow!!! I went back at about 2:15-2:20 to finally have some real food and no more line, and some decent selections albeit only about 1/3 of normal on embarkation day.

 

We had My Time Dining reserved for 7:30PM. When we got down to deck 5 we saw a mob of over 100 people jammed into the hallways and no one was moving. The explanation given was people were not leaving the dining room. We wound up going to the late seating at 8PM. I will say that they fixed this problem for the next three nights.

 

Ah we saw the lines! Thanks for sharing your experience... I was wondering about that. We had Chops booked so fortunately no issues for my dinner.

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We headed up to pool deck again to check out the WJ line... still on the long side but much shorter than before, so I continued as the tour guide showing off the ship. The line was on the port side facing the WJ aft, so we headed out from the WJ starboard side onto the pool deck and headed forward.

 

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Ah yes... familiar territory here with many cruisers vs. staff volleyball games and belly-flop competitions under my belt lol!

 

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And here too... lots of pool games, dancing and events. This is a great ship for the Caribbean and other hot weather climates with an awesome pool deck and a TON of loungers. I am only guessing that this will be a ghost town deck with hundreds of cruisers all jamming into the Promenade during nasty and colder Alaskan weather.

 

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And this is the first time on any ship that I have noticed life-jackets of all sizes available right at the pool deck beside the towel station.... is this new? Interesting.

 

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