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I know we have been going through the pandemic and the Covid-19, and hopefully before long, we ALL will be able to cruise again.  I have done RC ships before, but normally I do another cruise line.  My question in regard to The Explorer of the Sea ship.  If you have cruised this line within the past couple of years, would you give me YOUR opinion of the pros/cons of this ship?  My main reason for going on this ship, I am wanting to take my sons/d-i-l's to St. Lucia, and when checking the different cruise lines, this ship is the ONLY one that is doing it now, or next year.

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, beshears said:

I know we have been going through the pandemic and the Covid-19, and hopefully before long, we ALL will be able to cruise again.  I have done RC ships before, but normally I do another cruise line.  My question in regard to The Explorer of the Sea ship.  If you have cruised this line within the past couple of years, would you give me YOUR opinion of the pros/cons of this ship?  My main reason for going on this ship, I am wanting to take my sons/d-i-l's to St. Lucia, and when checking the different cruise lines, this ship is the ONLY one that is doing it now, or next year.

Going to St Lucia? Explorer, Vision, Enchantment, Radiance, Grandeur, Anthem, Rhapsody, Voyager, all go there on multiple sailings in the next year and beyond

Edited by ONECRUISER
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What things are important to you though? I was on her 2 years ago and had a great time. Obviously much smaller than the mega ships but it was our first cruise and it had enough to entertain me and a 6 year old boy at the time. 
 

We subsequently went on Ovation and preferred it for the extra activities for kids but that may not be what you need? 
 

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Explorer was THE ship out of Bayonne for many years. We loved sailing on her. Not as fancy as the newer ships, but a comfortable ship with lots of room around the pool area to relax. 

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I sailed on Explorer in March 2020, just before the pandemic shut down the cruising world.

 

The ship was scheduled for a dry dock and "amplification" three weeks after my cruise, so I was not surprised that there were many components that were tired and needed attention. I assumed that things would be freshened up at that time.

 

The cruise I was on was a charter, so there were no children and the child-centric parts of the ship were closed for the week.

 

The good:

  • For the most part, the crew was friendly and very helpful. My cabin steward was wonderful. The waiters we had most nights (the charter had open seating at dinner) were great, moving chairs as soon as they saw us (two handicapped people were in our party) and bringing our preferred beverages without us asking as soon as we were seated. They were also quick to suggest menu items based on what we had before.
  • There's a pretty good flow to the ship. Being wheelchair-bound, I can get "stuck" in an area if there are few elevators. The only place where it was a problem was if I was going from an event in the ice rink directly to an event in the theater. That would force me to go to the elevators and go up to another deck to traverse the ship as the ice rink cuts deck three in half and there's only one way out. The rest of the ship was pretty easy to get around.
  • I liked the library, especially since it was very close to my cabin. It was in a central location, not tucked off in a dark corner somewhere.
  • The hallways were much wider than some other ships I've been on. Being in a mobility device, it can be a challenge to navigate hallways, especially when the stewards' carts are there or when someone leaves a tray of dirty dishes out.
  • I liked the fact that there were bars at the back of the theater, that made it easier to go get a beverage. I've been on ships where you have to leave the theater to get a beverage.
  • The food was pretty good. I'm not into gourmet meals, so what was served was fine with me.
  • I liked the solarium area. It was a little calmer and quieter than the main pool area.
  • I liked the ice rink. It's a nice venue and a cool place to be.
  • I liked that the ship is not too big. I'm not a fan of mega ships.

The bad:

  • The aforementioned maintenance issues. My cabin was very worn and one of the closet doors fell off twice, almost striking me in the head. I had the door propped open the first time as I was just coming in, the steward saw it and came running. He propped a chair against it, made sure I wasn't injured, and contacted maintenance to come right away. They were there very quickly and fixed it. Unfortunately, it happened again on the last night. There were also many places around the ship that needed attention. They didn't detract from the cruise, but were definitely present. I believe that if the ship hadn't been scheduled for a dry dock, those items would have been addressed before they became so noticeable.
  • I hated the layout of the buffet. It led to several bottlenecks at every meal. The area at the end, with the two separate stations, was especially bad because there was not much space between them and the railing. Explorer is the only Royal ship I've been on thus far, so I don't know if that layout is the norm. I guess I'll find out when my trip on Mariner comes early in 2022.
  • I'm not a big fan of the layout of the theater for handicapped passengers. The sightlines are tough and the handicapped area, while large, is right at the entryway, so you often get people congregating in the lobby talking loudly right behind you, making it tough to hear. If I could have navigated the stairs, I would have sat down a few rows and avoided the issue.
  • The Promenade is a great idea and can be a lot of fun, but it also gets pretty loud. I can't imagine staying in a promenade view cabin.

I hope this info helps. Explorer is a fine ship and I'd be happy to sail on her again, assuming that the dry dock/amplification happens.

 

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I'll be on the Explorer for a B2B next March...it was supposed to be Freedom but RCI changed ships last October...I have no worries or concerns about this particular ship...RCI maintenance on all their ships fleet wide is great.

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We sailed on her 3 years ago, Pacific Coastal.  I would sail on Explorer again tomorrow if I could even with the obvious long-in-the-tooth issues that VirginiaIsForCruisers accurately described above.  We have since cruised on Ovation and Allure.  It's fun to have that perspective.  There is no denying that the resort vacation experience was on a higher level on Ovation or Allure.

 

However as far as Explorer goes I like the more formal main dining room, the Viking Crown Lounge for a nice view, and the less crowded buffet (realizing that this may be time of year dependent).

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Ashland said:

I'll be on the Explorer for a B2B next March...it was supposed to be Freedom but RCI changed ships last October...I have no worries or concerns about this particular ship...RCI maintenance on all their ships fleet wide is great.

I agree. Exactly why I don't concern myself with others positive or negative opinions or experiences concerning a ship or itinerary. Enjoyed the Explorer both times we cruised on her. 

Edited by davekathy
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4 hours ago, Ashland said:

I'll be on the Explorer for a B2B next March...it was supposed to be Freedom but RCI changed ships last October...I have no worries or concerns about this particular ship...RCI maintenance on all their ships fleet wide is great.

Same here, we had our Dec 2021 and April 2022 changed from Freedom to Explorer. Still a big ships so we are not concerned at all

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I’ve been on Explorer a few times and will be sailing on her again in December from San Juan.  Great, packed itinerary visiting my favorite island of St Lucia. There are plenty of things to do on the ship.  Don’t pass up seeing the Ice show.  

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I've sailed on Explorer ten times.  Love the size and the crew.  Can't wait to get back on her (or any ship!). A few more pics.

 

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Oh my, how WONDERFUL to be "bombarded" by ALL of your comments to my question of  Explorer of the Sea ship, and "pictures" as well. Actually tonight after some of our family had been out eating together, I noticed (our twin sons live on each side of us, and our other son who came 11 years later after I had cancer, lives about 30 minutes from us) when my husband and I got home, the back door to our vehicle would NOT open up, even though it was unlocked! I called my son who works for Ford Motor and told him to "put it on his list of things to do, that I have a door that needs checking out." The next thing I know he came right over, and to make the long story short, he got it fixed! He and one of his brothers like doing the All Inclusive,  which I have never done, but I'm sure it is nice also, but for being over 70, I am a person that LIKES to be on the go, if I want to.  One reason the two sons like the All Inclusive, they can do a LOT of resting there and taking it easy.  I mentioned to Clint that I was "thinking" of doing RCCL either the end of this year, or the first part of next year, and I KNEW he and his brother preferred taking it easy and lounging around. I told him that if we did this cruise, he and his brother could STAY on the ship all they wanted to,  and then he said, "No Mom, I really don't have a problem with that, and if that is what YOU want to do, that is what we will do!" It was mentioned (thank you) in these postings that there were several ships that go to St. Lucia, and that may be true, but this ship was the one I found, and maybe it  was for the time I was checking for us to do it, and the length of the cruise. My 3 sons are all grown with families, and they do LOVE snorkeling, or pretty much anything that has to do with water, and this trip will get them away from their children. 🙂 As for wanting a MEGA ship, or a new ship, that is not me, and I'm sure my sons/d-i-l's would be happy, just doing the cruise to get away! As was suggestion, I was able to see the Ice show too several years ago, and I'm sure my family would enjoy it as well.  Once again to ALL of you, thank you for your comments, and the pictures too.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm BACK , with another question. 🙂  Have any of you who have responded, or know of anyone,  used a Royal Caribbean PCP?  If so, how did you feel, or the one you know that used one, like how the PCP handled the booking of your/their cruise?

 

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1 hour ago, beshears said:

I'm BACK , with another question. 🙂  Have any of you who have responded, or know of anyone,  used a Royal Caribbean PCP?  If so, how did you feel, or the one you know that used one, like how the PCP handled the booking of your/their cruise?

 

I have in the past had an RCI person contact me as my PCP. My opinion is to forget about it. I simply deal with who ever answers the phone when I call. 

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I've only used my local travel agent who is my good friend.  He makes sure everything runs smoothly for our cruise vacations.  Worth his weight

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Anybody hear any news on when Explorer might do a test cruise or the status of the port in San Juan when ships will start there?

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2 hours ago, Sea Dog said:

Anybody hear any news on when Explorer might do a test cruise or the status of the port in San Juan when ships will start there?

Would also love to hear some info regarding San Juan. From what I understand cases are way down and restaurants etc are back to full capacity. No covid test required for entry or face diapers  if fully  vaccinated

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8 hours ago, beshears said:

I'm BACK , with another question. 🙂  Have any of you who have responded, or know of anyone,  used a Royal Caribbean PCP?  If so, how did you feel, or the one you know that used one, like how the PCP handled the booking of your/their cruise?


I prefer using a travel agent (as in, an actual human, not just a website).  This way I have direct access to the person, and they often have access to Group Rates that are better than I can get by booking directly with Royal (which I have also done in the past).  

My travel agent knows my preferences for itinerary, ship size, departure port, and room type, and will sometimes contact me with a deal he came across that he thinks I will be interested in.  And if I find a cruise I want, all I have to do is shoot him a short email with my desired room choice and he does all the paperwork (computer work) to get me booked.  He keeps my C&A member number and my credit card info on file, and I don't have to type in any information anywhere until it's time to check in for the sailing.  

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19 minutes ago, brillohead said:


I prefer using a travel agent (as in, an actual human, not just a website).  This way I have direct access to the person, and they often have access to Group Rates that are better than I can get by booking directly with Royal (which I have also done in the past).  

My travel agent knows my preferences for itinerary, ship size, departure port, and room type, and will sometimes contact me with a deal he came across that he thinks I will be interested in.  And if I find a cruise I want, all I have to do is shoot him a short email with my desired room choice and he does all the paperwork (computer work) to get me booked.  He keeps my C&A member number and my credit card info on file, and I don't have to type in any information anywhere until it's time to check in for the sailing.  

Good for you...many prefer to book themselves...nothing wrong with that. You keep your preferences and other's can keep theirs.

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I appreciate ALL your input on my question of whether to get a PCP or not.  I actually had not read any of your messages until now.  Before I read your messages, I decided to "take the bull by the horn," and call RCCL directly, not knowing who would answer the phone.  In other words, just someone answering my questions, or an actual PCP. This lady told me she was not a PCP, but was able to "answer" all my questions at that time, and even sent me an email with ALL the info I had ask for at that time. She said I could get a PCP, but generally who ever answers the phone, even if I had concerns about my booking, they should be able to get it taken care of for me.  I will say I have used (actually contacted her last week of what I was looking for) a cruise agency for years here. This agency quoted me what I had ask for, but told me there was an additional "fee" for each person that will be cruising, to make up for ALL the time that is spent (I really don't see a lot of time spent, as I check out ALL the information I am needing before I ask for their help) booking the cruise.

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5 minutes ago, beshears said:

I will say I have used (actually contacted her last week of what I was looking for) a cruise agency for years here. This agency quoted me what I had ask for, but told me there was an additional "fee" for each person that will be cruising, to make up for ALL the time that is spent (I really don't see a lot of time spent, as I check out ALL the information I am needing before I ask for their help) booking the cruise.


The travel agents I've used (there are two different ones) have NEVER charged me any fee, as they earn a commission from the cruise line.  I would steer clear of any agent charging an additional fee for cruises.  (A fee for booking airfare is fair, however, as there isn't a commission earned off that anymore.)  A lot of the online agencies charge a per-person fee or they have a cancellation fee over and above what the cruise line may charge, so it's always important to read the fine print.

Both of my agents have either gotten me the cruise for the same price I could have booked it myself, or have been able to give me additional OBC or a better fare price -- it has never cost me more to use an agent.  

And with all of the cancelled cruises due to COVID, my travel agent took care of all my FCC or "Lift and Shift" business for me -- I never had to make a single phone call or wait on hold.

But booking directly is perfectly fine if you're comfortable doing that (some people are, some people aren't).  That's what I used to do until I found my current agents, both of whom I have met in person on cruises, and who are each affiliated with larger companies that give them access to group rates that aren't available to the general public.
 

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22 minutes ago, Ashland said:

Good for you...many prefer to book themselves...nothing wrong with that. You keep your preferences and other's can keep theirs.


Exactly -- a question was asked and I gave my own personal experiences pertaining directly to the question that was asked.  

(Not sure why you feel the need to follow me around online and comment on my comments, but you do you, Boo.)

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As I said earlier, I appreciate ALL the feedback I have received on my question, and your answers. Yes, my TA that I normally use here in KC told me the "fee" was something new they were going to have to charge for.  She said the additional fee covers "everyone" in the office that has something to do with what is going on. I will say, once I received the email from Joanne with RCCL with the information I had ask (she also told me since I had cruised with RCCL before, I would get a discount, which she gave me in the quote) for, I emailed her back and thanked her for her help.  She then said anytime I need something, I can contact HER, which I feel, even though she does not call herself a PCP, to me, so far with the information she gave me, I believe she could follow through with booking the cruise for us next year.

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I failed to mention with the quote Joanne with RCCL gave me, I was saving about $250 pp. Also my TA, didn't mention that since I had cruised with RCCL before I would get a discount, like Joanne had given me.  I did ask Joanne if there was an "additional" fee, like my TA agent said they were doing this year, and she said no.

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