Thursday, January 22, 2015

Flashback Thursday: Review Explorer of the Seas

Explorer of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager Class ships. This is not their biggest ship, they have the Freedom Class and the Oasis Class that are larger but in no way can this be considered a small ship. It can hold over 3100 passengers and has been sailing for ten years.

The design of this ship is different from the class of ships we have previously sailed on. It has no Centrum; instead, you have a Royal Promenade which reminded me of a mild version of Bourbon Street. You can stroll shops, restaurants,and entertainment happening on this level. This design allows for a different room type that is not found on the smaller ships, the  Promenade Room.  These rooms are interior rooms but they overlook the promenade.  This is nice when there is a parade going on but seem to have a privacy issue as far as I am concerned. If you want light you would open your drapes but then the people across the promenade from you can look in as can anyone walking on the promenade.

This size of ship, has more balcony rooms than the smaller ships as well. This is the room type we had and they are spacious and well appointed. There is a lot of storage and the couch is full sized making seating easy and relaxing. The balcony is small but has two chairs and a small table.

Service on Explorer was alright but we found it not to be up to the standards that we are used to. This was right after the Oasis was launched and we were told that a lot of experienced staff was pulled from other ships and sent to Oasis. The ethnicity of our staff was a little different than the mix we usually had and was heavy on Central American and Southeast Asian workers. There were very few Eastern Europeans. There also seemed to be fewer workers. This was especially evident in the restaurant. 

The Windjammer Café suffered the most with dishes sitting longer on tables. But it was more than that, it was a general attitude, these workers were not the happy friendly ones we are used to and it was quite obvious. We really wondered if it was a result of the economy or maybe they were just short of help.

The entertainment was quite good; there were some very amusing comedians. There didn’t seem to be as many offering in the Compass as usual. It was a short cruise, only five days, maybe all the shortcomings we witnessed were indicative of that. We had problems with the spa, there was a major error in our booking and it was never resolved to our satisfaction. Overall there were issues in almost every aspect of this cruise except the cabin which was always kept spotless.

This class of ship is great, however. They have a skating rink and they offered two shows that you had to request tickets for and there was also open skating. On the fourteenth level, they have a nice game room which we used to play dominos. It had a lot of space in two rooms. The Internet was screeching slow and kept dropping the connection. The desk staff was great about giving a credit for this.

This ship goes to Bermuda, Canada, and the Caribbean out of Port Liberty New Jersey. All in all, I really liked the ship itself and the room in particular. The shortcomings that we experienced are not what I am used to from Royal Caribbean and I would need to take this particular ship, Explorer of the Seas at least one more time before I formed a firm opinion that they have staffing issues.

One thing worth noting, April is a very rough time to sail to Bermuda and the pool had to be drained and closed twice. The Solarium does not have a retractable roof and in April it was a bit chilly to use the adult only hot tub. The one time we did use it, the water was so hot everyone was turning red.

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