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OceansOfTravels

5 Year Absence from Royal - Explorer Questions!

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Hello,

 

I am so happy to say that we will be returning to Royal Caribbean in January! We were Carnival-Turned-MSC cruisers, but found a good deal on a 9 night cruise on the Explorer of the Seas to all new ports that we could not turn down. However, by the time we board the ship, it will be nearly 4 years since my last RCI cruise (which was on the Empress of the Seas, which obviously does not reflect the grandeur of the Royal ships), and 8 years since my first RCI cruise, a Hurricane Sandy cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas. For the other two people in my party, it will be their first RCI cruises. Either way, I am very excited to not only make it back to RCI, but to give them a fair try and see if they can win me over in 2020. I just booked this cruise and I have some questions, so I'm grateful for any help whatsoever!

 

 

1) We are booked in a Panoramic Oceanview Stateroom (very excited!), which is above the gym and next to the Vitality Spa. Will there be a lot of hallway traffic specifically for the Spa, or is the spa entrance by the elevators/stairs? Will there be noticeable noise from the gym and/or spa? Obviously, the gym will be closed at night, but will a morning yoga or spin class wake us up?

 

2) We will have a 19 year old with us, a college freshman. When he was younger, he loved going to the teen clubs and making friends, but now that he's over 18, he's struggling to make friends on cruises. Does Royal do anything for the 18-20 age group since they can't drink? Or will he just have to hope for a lonely straggler his age at night and just strike up a conversation?

 

3) Does Royal have any special restaurants included in the price of the cruise? Carnival has Guys Burgers, Blue  Iguana Cantina, etc, does Royal have a similar concept? Or are all the specialty dining options for an upcharge?

 

4) Are there any "secret decks" or special areas to note on the Explorer like Carnival has on many of their ships? We are trying to get the local tips before we sail so we can try to blend in 😉

 

5) Since we take vacations the same week each year, we typically board a ship with that week off and try to use the specials onboard for booking a future cruise. What will the onboard special be for booking onboard? If we like RCI/want to give it another chance, we may want to just book onboard.

 

6) What are the drink options in the Windjammer without the drink package?

 

7) What are the lunch options on embarkation day besides Windjammer? And when will our stateroom be available? Can you carry suitcases onboard, or will you need to leave them with the porters? We will be embarking from Port Miami. I can also assume that embarkation will begin around 11AM?

 

8 ) What machines/appliances are in the gym/spas? Are there saunas and steam rooms for regular passengers? Does it usually get crowded?

 

9) Any excursion or day trip recommendations for Labadee, Aruba, Bonaire, and/or Curacao? All of them will be new ports for us, so any tips would be greatly appreciated!

 

10) Any general RCI tips/notable differences between MSC and Carnival? We really want to like RCI, and I'm hoping now that we're trying one of their new ships, we will have a great experience that propels us to book with them again in the future, so any general tips on how to maximize either the Explorer specifically and/or a Royal cruise in general would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

Again, thank you in advance so so SO much to anyone that can help, happy cruising!

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19 minutes ago, OceansOfTravels said:

Hello,

 

I am so happy to say that we will be returning to Royal Caribbean in January! We were Carnival-Turned-MSC cruisers, but found a good deal on a 9 night cruise on the Explorer of the Seas to all new ports that we could not turn down. However, by the time we board the ship, it will be nearly 4 years since my last RCI cruise (which was on the Empress of the Seas, which obviously does not reflect the grandeur of the Royal ships), and 8 years since my first RCI cruise, a Hurricane Sandy cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas. For the other two people in my party, it will be their first RCI cruises. Either way, I am very excited to not only make it back to RCI, but to give them a fair try and see if they can win me over in 2020. I just booked this cruise and I have some questions, so I'm grateful for any help whatsoever!

 

 

1) We are booked in a Panoramic Oceanview Stateroom (very excited!), which is above the gym and next to the Vitality Spa. Will there be a lot of hallway traffic specifically for the Spa, or is the spa entrance by the elevators/stairs? Will there be noticeable noise from the gym and/or spa? Obviously, the gym will be closed at night, but will a morning yoga or spin class wake us up?

 

2) We will have a 19 year old with us, a college freshman. When he was younger, he loved going to the teen clubs and making friends, but now that he's over 18, he's struggling to make friends on cruises. Does Royal do anything for the 18-20 age group since they can't drink? Or will he just have to hope for a lonely straggler his age at night and just strike up a conversation?

 

3) Does Royal have any special restaurants included in the price of the cruise? Carnival has Guys Burgers, Blue  Iguana Cantina, etc, does Royal have a similar concept? Or are all the specialty dining options for an upcharge?

 

4) Are there any "secret decks" or special areas to note on the Explorer like Carnival has on many of their ships? We are trying to get the local tips before we sail so we can try to blend in 😉

 

5) Since we take vacations the same week each year, we typically board a ship with that week off and try to use the specials onboard for booking a future cruise. What will the onboard special be for booking onboard? If we like RCI/want to give it another chance, we may want to just book onboard.

 

6) What are the drink options in the Windjammer without the drink package?

 

7) What are the lunch options on embarkation day besides Windjammer? And when will our stateroom be available? Can you carry suitcases onboard, or will you need to leave them with the porters? We will be embarking from Port Miami. I can also assume that embarkation will begin around 11AM?

 

8 ) What machines/appliances are in the gym/spas? Are there saunas and steam rooms for regular passengers? Does it usually get crowded?

 

9) Any excursion or day trip recommendations for Labadee, Aruba, Bonaire, and/or Curacao? All of them will be new ports for us, so any tips would be greatly appreciated!

 

10) Any general RCI tips/notable differences between MSC and Carnival? We really want to like RCI, and I'm hoping now that we're trying one of their new ships, we will have a great experience that propels us to book with them again in the future, so any general tips on how to maximize either the Explorer specifically and/or a Royal cruise in general would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

Again, thank you in advance so so SO much to anyone that can help, happy cruising!

1. The entrance to the spa is separate and there is a hallway separating you from the spa.  Noise would not be an issue.

 

2. He can still go to the bars he just can’t drink.  Try hanging out at the flowrider or basketball court.

 

3. All specialty dining is an upcharge

 

5. Yes you can book a cruise on board.  A balcony on a 7 day cruise with a non refundable deposit gets you $100 in OBC and a reduced deposit.  The same thing but with a refundable deposit is a $75 OBC and you pay the full deposit.

 

6. Free drinks are coffee, tea, iced tea, water, flavoured water, milk, chocolate milk juices from concentrate and lemonade.

 

7. Windjammer and Cafe promenade.  As long as suitcases fit through the scanner you can carry them on.

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20 hours ago, Ourusualbeach said:

1. The entrance to the spa is separate and there is a hallway separating you from the spa.  Noise would not be an issue.

 

2. He can still go to the bars he just can’t drink.  Try hanging out at the flowrider or basketball court.

 

3. All specialty dining is an upcharge

 

5. Yes you can book a cruise on board.  A balcony on a 7 day cruise with a non refundable deposit gets you $100 in OBC and a reduced deposit.  The same thing but with a refundable deposit is a $75 OBC and you pay the full deposit.

 

6. Free drinks are coffee, tea, iced tea, water, flavoured water, milk, chocolate milk juices from concentrate and lemonade.

 

7. Windjammer and Cafe promenade.  As long as suitcases fit through the scanner you can carry them on.

 

Do you know what the reduced deposit comes down to or does it change for each cruise? 

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17 minutes ago, OceansOfTravels said:

 

Do you know what the reduced deposit comes down to or does it change for each cruise? 

A 7 day cruise would be $100 per person deposit 

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21 hours ago, OceansOfTravels said:

Hello,

10) Any general RCI tips/notable differences between MSC and Carnival? We really want to like RCI, and I'm hoping now that we're trying one of their new ships, we will have a great experience that propels us to book with them again in the future, so any general tips on how to maximize either the Explorer specifically and/or a Royal cruise in general would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

Again, thank you in advance so so SO much to anyone that can help, happy cruising!

Although Explorer is in excellent shape she is nearly 20 years old and a much smaller ship then the Oasis Class with far fewer bells and whistles.  Happy cruising.

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2 minutes ago, taglovestocruise said:

Although Explorer is in excellent shape she is nearly 20 years old and a much smaller ship then the Oasis Class with far fewer bells and whistles.  Happy cruising.

 

Compared to Empress and Enchantment ... she's like the Oasis to me 😉 If I end up falling for RCI, I cannot wait to try the Oasis or Quantum Class!

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Regarding 8 ) What machines/appliances are in the gym/spas? Are there saunas and steam rooms for regular passengers? Does it usually get crowded?

 

It looks like you're sailing prior to the so-called Amplification, so the existing fitness center with its nice locker rooms and complimentary saunas/steam rooms will still be in place. It's unclear what will happen to Explorer, but when Navigator was "amped," they tore out the fitness center and replaced it with cabins, and built a much smaller fitness center elsewhere on the ship with no locker rooms/showers/sauna or steam, only a small locker area with a restroom.

 

The current fitness center will have treadmills and bikes, weight machines, and a small free weights area. At times it can get busy, but I've never had a problem getting cardio equipment. 

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On 8/10/2019 at 8:32 PM, OceansOfTravels said:

 

9) Any excursion or day trip recommendations for Labadee, Aruba, Bonaire, and/or Curacao? All of them will be new ports for us, so any tips would be greatly appreciated!

 

 

I'm doing this itinerary for NYE.  My kids are 9 and 12 so younger than your son.  For the ABC islands, we love the diving and snorkeling.  My daughter (12) dives and so do I.  At 9, my son is still too young to dive so he snorkels.

 

Last time we were in  Aruba, we did an outing to the aqua water park.  I just bought tickets directly and took a cab.  Kids thought it was a lot of fun.  It's next door to a bar that has loungers for rent as well as a fresh water shower.  This time we are going go DePalm Island.  Probably not worth the cost but it has all the activities that the kids will like.  I bought my tickets directly from the park rather than the excursion desk though.  I'm not sure why but the park opens a few hours before the excursion departs even though the schedule says we are docked early.  The park also closes later than the excursion bus returns and that night we are in port very late so I'm not worried about staying at the park and making it back on to the ship.

 

For Bonaire, I hired a diving/snorkling guide to take us out.  There will be a dive master with my daughter and me and a snorkeling guide for my son.

 

Curacao is by far my kids favorite island.  We always seem to end up at Mambo Beach.  There is an aquarium there that is nice.  There are some cute shops along the blvd.  A cab costs me around $20 or so from the port.  This year I heard that the aqua water park (like the one in Aruba) will be back in the water.  I'm crossing my fingers.  Otherwise, this is our "beach" day.  If you are a diver, Ocean Encounters is fantastic.  They took my kids on their first dive (Padi Bubblemaker) in the aquarium and got my kids hooked.

 

I've never been to Labadee.  I think we'll just do some of the activities on the island and try to get a beach chair on Nellie's beach.

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11 hours ago, CharmCity2000 said:

 

I'm doing this itinerary for NYE.  My kids are 9 and 12 so younger than your son.  For the ABC islands, we love the diving and snorkeling.  My daughter (12) dives and so do I.  At 9, my son is still too young to dive so he snorkels.

 

Last time we were in  Aruba, we did an outing to the aqua water park.  I just bought tickets directly and took a cab.  Kids thought it was a lot of fun.  It's next door to a bar that has loungers for rent as well as a fresh water shower.  This time we are going go DePalm Island.  Probably not worth the cost but it has all the activities that the kids will like.  I bought my tickets directly from the park rather than the excursion desk though.  I'm not sure why but the park opens a few hours before the excursion departs even though the schedule says we are docked early.  The park also closes later than the excursion bus returns and that night we are in port very late so I'm not worried about staying at the park and making it back on to the ship.

 

For Bonaire, I hired a diving/snorkling guide to take us out.  There will be a dive master with my daughter and me and a snorkeling guide for my son.

 

Curacao is by far my kids favorite island.  We always seem to end up at Mambo Beach.  There is an aquarium there that is nice.  There are some cute shops along the blvd.  A cab costs me around $20 or so from the port.  This year I heard that the aqua water park (like the one in Aruba) will be back in the water.  I'm crossing my fingers.  Otherwise, this is our "beach" day.  If you are a diver, Ocean Encounters is fantastic.  They took my kids on their first dive (Padi Bubblemaker) in the aquarium and got my kids hooked.

 

I've never been to Labadee.  I think we'll just do some of the activities on the island and try to get a beach chair on Nellie's beach.

I just booked a 5 night in January.  Booked it for the price and dates.  A little wary because we just got off the Navigator and the new refurbishment was fabulous - I know this ship won't have all the bells and whistles.  We are taking our 6 & 8 year olds - can you tell me a little about kids activities - pools and adventure ocean specifically if your kids spent any time there.  They loved the water slides and the xbox games which allowed us a few hours of adult time each night and a little worried they won't be as excited about this ship..

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On 8/10/2019 at 8:32 PM, OceansOfTravels said:

3) Does Royal have any special restaurants included in the price of the cruise? Carnival has Guys Burgers, Blue  Iguana Cantina, etc, does Royal have a similar concept? Or are all the specialty dining options for an upcharge?

 

 

Your dining options on Explorer are: (restaurants with a separate cover/fee marked with an asterisk)

Complementary

Main Dining Room

Windjammer (Buffet)

Cafe Promenade (Snacks, sandwiches, pastries)

 

Specialty (all have  a cover/up-charge)

Ben & Jerry's (Ice cream, of course)

Chops Grille (Steakhouse)

Giovanni's Table (Italian)

Izumi (Sushi & Japanese hot rocks)

Johnny Rockets (Burgers)

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