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LETS TALK ABOUT THE EXPLORER OF THE SEAS


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Hi everyone.  My wife and I and our 2 kids (18 and 14) just booked the explorer of the seas out of san juan for Jan 16.  We have been on 6 Princess cruises but know nothing about Royal Caribbean.  I havent started my research yet but I figured I could get some tips, tricks, or anything you can tell me about Royal Caribbean or specifically the Explorer of the Seas.  I have read some reviews saying how old and tired she is and she was supposed to go in for a dry dock but i guess it got cancelled.  We are very easy to please and are just excited to cruise again.  Anything you can tell me would be great.  Great menu items, must do's on the ship, do they play movies every night?  We have never been to San Juan either so any must see's there?  Thanks for your comments.

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Have your 14yo go to the teen meet-n-greet at the teen club the first evening.  Kids tend to form groups that night, and then hang out together the rest of the cruise (either at teen club activities or just in the pool or whatever).

On sea days, Royal has lunch available in the MDR -- check it out!  They have some buffet items (chafing dishes over Sterno) and an incredible salad bar where they chop/mix the salad with the dressing for you, in addition to a menu for regular lunch service (and you can do all items at the same time, mix and match).  

The port side of the pool deck allows smoking, so if you're sensitive to the smell, pay attention to which side of the ship you're on when you leave the elevator lobby.  (There is no smoking on either side of the Solarium pool deck.)

Excursions, drink packages, wifi, etc., that are purchased in the Cruise Planner can be cancelled and rebooked if the price goes down, so recheck prices regularly for potential savings.  There is usually a pretty good sale on everything for Black Friday / Cyber Monday.

I was on Explorer in December 2019 just before she was supposed to go into drydock and COVID hit.  She may not have been the shiniest ship I've ever been on, but in no way did I feel like I was walking around a dirty rust-bucket.  I wouldn't be concerned about that.

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When the Explorer had her homeport in Bayonne, we sailed her many times. We loved all our trips then. A nice thing I remember was that it was easy to find a deck chair without needing to get one early each day and I could usually find one in the shade, which I liked. Always good memories and I’m sure you will have a great cruise.

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Explorer was one of my favorite ship.  The kids may enjoy mini golf,  and I  believe there is a poolside movie screen.  There was ar one time not sure if it's still there a movie theater. Also one of my favorite go to places anytime of the day Cafe Promenade. You can get coffee ,tea, ,flavored water, sandwiches , sweet goodies and best of all for the kids pizza.

I know the cruise you are going on is very port intensive,  if I'm  not mistaken you have no sea days  so enjoy the ship as much as possibe.

Oh and don't  miss the ice show, haven't  seen one  that wasn't  amazing.

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Our family is also cruising on Explorer a month after you! This is the first Royal Caribbean ship we sailed on, back in 2010, and as our kids were approaching their teens, we found Royal to be a great fit for our family (Disney was great for their younger years). It will be fairly different from Princess.

Make sure to attend all the evening entertainment events (ice skating show, theatre productions etc), always fun and top quality. The whole family can enjoy the ice skating, rock climbing, mini golf, but the flow rider is a must! Movies are played on the outdoor screen at different times. Although it missed its big amplification, Explorer is still a beautiful ship and crew are constantly performing maintenance and cleaning.
        Try to board as earlier as you can, and take the time to just explore the ship while it’s quieter.

        Definitely book things that interest you (specialty dining, drink packages, excursions, internet etc) in advance with the Cruise Planner, as prices onboard will be higher.  For our family, one person gets the 4 device internet package, so then we each get 1 code. It allows us to contact each other via iMessage while onboard, and the kids get their social media fix by staying connected with friends.
        After 9pm, your best bet for late night snacks is the Cafe Promenade for pizza, sandwiches, desserts. We always take some chocolate chip cookies back to the cabin with us.

       There will be 2 formal nights, commonly day 2 and day 6, but these are optional….dress as formally (or not) as you wish. The evening of Day 2 is the captain’s welcome gala (around 7-8pm) we always try to attend that, have formal photos taken,  then head to supper afterwards. Day 6 is lobster night in the main dining room.

    Every evening, you will receive the Cruise Compass newsletter which outlines all activities and venue times for the next day, so that you can plan your day onboard.  Right now, Explorer is one of the few ships that still isn’t available on the Royal App, but I’m hoping that will change. Once onboard the app will show all the activities, menus, safety info etc. The menus are pretty standard across the ships, so you can look at some of them in advance to see what you like and whether you want to enjoy the specialty dining.

   As for San Juan, we have cruised from there before, on Adventure of the Seas, and arrived 2 days before the cruise. We stayed at the Embassy Suites, which was a short walk to the beach. One day we took the local bus to Old San Juan, and spent the day there exploring….loved that! Excited to go back in Feb, and we will probably do the same.

Of note - San Juan has 2 cruise ship piers. Royal cruises embark/disembark at the pier that is NOT at Old San Juan.

Also, you are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine and a case of 12 water/pop onboard per cabin if you wish. 
Overall, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time!

 

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We were booked to do a B2B on Freedom March 2022. In October RCI changed the ship to the Explorer....which gave us no concerns at all...same itineraries, same category/location and actually a bit cheaper.

 

We have sailed several times out of San Juan on various RCI ships and stay at the Sheraton Old Town a great walkable location to everything we do in the city. It's also a quick, easy, cheap taxi ride to the Pan American where RCI sails from.

 

Don't have any concerns about Explorer she's a well maintained ship !

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I'm excited to sail on Explorer this November 7th from San Juan if she goes. I can't get any information on cruising's return to San Juan and Explorer's status. I sure hope it happens.

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Posted (edited)

I would say get there a couple of days early if you can then you can enjoy more of the island before the cruise. Don't be afraid to get a rental car and go out of San Juan for a couple of days before the trip. Puerto Rico is a great island with history,  beaches, rain forest, bioluminescent bays, terrific food and culture. Many cruises stop in San Juan but it is much tougher to see the rest of the island during a stop. Old San Juan can be done in the hours on embarkation day if you wish. 

Chocobar Cortes is one of our go tos whenever we are there. Barrachina has a great Flamenco show if you're in town for dinner. 

 

Explorer was my first cruise and it was during a major hurricane and we still had a great time. For active things there is the FlowRider and also the ice rink that are pretty cool. 

Edited by death_star
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3 hours ago, death_star said:

I would say get there a couple of days early if you can then you can enjoy more of the island before the cruise. Don't be afraid to get a rental car and go out of San Juan for a couple of days before the trip. Puerto Rico is a great island with history,  beaches, rain forest, bioluminescent bays, terrific food and culture. Many cruises stop in San Juan but it is much tougher to see the rest of the island during a stop. Old San Juan can be done in the hours on embarkation day if you wish. 

Chocobar Cortes is one of our go tos whenever we are there. Barrachina has a great Flamenco show if you're in town for dinner. 

 

Explorer was my first cruise and it was during a major hurricane and we still had a great time. For active things there is the FlowRider and also the ice rink that are pretty cool. 

We always go into San Juan pre-cruise anywhere from 2-3 days. Love the Chocobar & Cafe Mallorca but I'm sad the roof top bar/restaurant above the Milano Hotel and the Flamingo Club has closed....they both had great drinks & food. We'll be back for a pre-cruise stay in March.

 

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10 hours ago, stryker12 said:

How early can you go on the cruise planner to book things?

Things become available at different times between when you book up to three days before the sailing when the planner closes. Keep checking.

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13 hours ago, stryker12 said:

How early can you go on the cruise planner to book things?

We just booked Explorer for Dec. 2022 and can book stuff now on the cruise planner. 

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17 hours ago, stryker12 said:

How early can you go on the cruise planner to book things?

We're sailing on Harmony end of April 2022 and things have been on our cruise planner for quite sometime....I started looking at Coco Cay cabanas back in Aug 2020.

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On 7/16/2021 at 10:38 PM, stryker12 said:

Explorer of the Seas.  I have read some reviews saying how old and tired she is and she was supposed to go in for a dry dock but i guess it got cancelled.  We are very easy to please and are just excited to cruise again.  Anything you can tell me would be great.  Great menu items, must do's on the ship, do they play movies every night?  

 

DW and I were on Explorer about 4 cruises ago, (that would have been mid Feb 2020, pre Covid) and we were also wary of some of the “needs a refurbishment” reviews.  We also are easy to please.  We found the ship fabulous.

 

I believe they had movies every evening at the pool deck.

 

FWIW, while we were on board, they had workers on board prepping the ship, as it’s scheduled dry dock was March 2020, until the dock closed.  So some of the elevators were closed as they did maintenance, and every once in awhile they would close off a section of the ship for the workers.  So even though it did not go to a full fledged refurbishment, they have done work on it.  I also seem to remember it did go into dry dock for regular scheduled equip maintenance.  

 

Have a fabulous cruise.

 

Eddie

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Posted (edited)

Previous post, I meant 4 cruises ago for the Explorer.  It was our last cruise.

 

Explorer after our cruise had an Ohio State charter cruise, followed by a Star Trek charter cruise, and one other normal cruise before Covid shut things down.

 

Cruise staff said the two weeks of charter is like a vacation for them, as the charters manage all events, and they are more or less crowd control.

 

Eddie

Edited by Eddie Wilson
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Not sure if they’re still doing it but when I was on the explorer in 2017 for the ice show. they Will assign specific day and time for  the Ice show.  How they did it was in the cruise compass they would have specific muster stations assigned to a show. They still had a standby line In the event you’re not able to make it on the day assigned to your muster station . With the Covid protocols they may has switched to a first come first serve reservation system And schedule more opportunities to see the show . The ice show on explorer of the seas Was very good quality

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1 hour ago, stryker12 said:

Isn't the ship getting some kind of work done to it right now?

I think Liberty is the only ship in dry dock now - Explorer is in warm layup near CocoCay.

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Explorer was one of my favorite RCL ships and I was on 3X back when the ice shows were fairly new so I'm sure they have changed since then as well as other things on the ship.

 

I haven't been back on Explorer since Dec. 2007 but wouldn't hesitate to sail her again.

 

Enjoy.

 

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I've beenn on Explorer twice, although it's been awhile. Great ship. No worries.

 

I'm surprised no one has warned you about the guy that hangs out on the edge of Old San Juan and tells tourists a story about a family member  of his getting mugged, in a car accident. or some other story and asks for $$ since theirs was lost. Don't believe it- it's a scam- there's been people doing that for years. Just walk on. Everyone else in San Juan is great!

 

We stayed at the Sheraton in OSJ as well- they upgraded us to a suite with a view- very nice, I'd stay there again if you're getting in early!

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Carnival's Mardi Gras is sailing on July 31 with a port call in San Juan.

Next up is Freedom on Oct 9 with a port call in San Juan.

 

https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/25529-when-the-entire-carnival-cruise-line-fleet-will-restart-july-update.html

 

If Carnival can do a port call in San Juan, then RCL restarting sailings from there should be possible. 

 

Also, PR now allows fully vaccinated people from the USA to fly to PR without a COVID test.

https://www.travelsafe.pr.gov/

 

If RCL uses the rule for Galveston (vaccinations required for 12 and older), then they might be able to use the CDC's 95% rule to resume sailings. 

 

https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/questions/do-i-need-a-covid-vaccine-to-cruise-what-counts-as-proof

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I agree with spending extra time in San Juan if you can.  We are booked for March 22 with a Guaranteed Inside cabin.  There is a port everyday so there are no Sea Days.  Thoughts on upgrading to a Guaranteed Balcony ... are there bad Balcony cabins?

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