Explorer of the Seas Review - Royal Caribbean


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Explorer of the Seas  Overview

Explorer of the Seas Review - Royal Caribbean 

Photo: Explorer of the Seas - Royal Caribbean.

Second of a series of 5 Voyager Class ships, the Explorer of the Seas is truly a destination in itself.

Royal Caribbean prides itself  on a wide variety of on board amenities and the Explorer of the Seas does not disappoint cruise passengers.  Amenities onboard include an ice skating rink, Rock climbing wall,  TV Studio, rock-climbing wall, inline-skating track, 9 Hole miniature golf course, full-court basketball, spa/solarium and the Royal Promenade which is the main shopping and gathering center and features street performers, shops and cafes, . 

 Public Rooms  

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Palace TheatreThe color scheme of the ship is quiet pleasing. The public areas are light and airy utilizing simulated  maple paneling and warm color tones.

The Explorer of the Seas features an $11 million art collection (highlighted by the work of Hollywood stars like Tony Curtis, Peter Falk and Anthony Quinn).

 The center focal point of the ship, is the Royal Promenade, which as mentioned above, is the main gathering area of the ship. This area recreates a main street with shops, Fashion Boutiques, artwork, snack places such as Ben and Jerry's ice cream, Cafe Promenade coffee bar, Champagne Bar, Weekend Warrior Sports Bar, Crown and Kettle Pub, The General Store and the Guest Relations center can all be found here.

The main show lounge on the Explorer of the Seas is the 3 tier Palace Theatre which can accommodate 1,350 guests. There is not a bad seat in the room, almost every seat offers an  unobstructed view of stage so everyone can enjoy the top rated stage shows.

On deck 4, passengers will find; the nautically themed Schooner Bar; along with the Chambers Disco; Casino Royale which has everything from slot machines to gaming tables.

Also on deck 4 is the Eco-Learning Station and Aquarium Bar which features a 56 ton saltwater fish tank.

On Deck 2 you can find the Ice-skating Rink, Studio B (TV Station) and Conference center.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the Promenade, there is well stocked library; Royal Caribbean Online (internet cafe open 24 hours - available at an additional cost); The Concierge Club; Sea Trek Dive Shop and the Sky Bar.

High above the ship is the Viking Crown Lounge with it's panoramic views; The 19th Hole Bar (decorated in Golf decor) on deck 15 and finally The Skylight Chapel (for those wishing to tie the knot).

Dining Options

Royal Caribbean offers flexible My Time Dining program for evening dining. Passengers can choose between the traditional assigned dining seatings (early 6 p.m. or late  8:30 p.m.) with assigned tablemates, or guests can opt for flexible dining option, The Flexible Dining Option allows you to pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), each night of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Main Dining RoomThe main dining rooms on the Explorer of the Seas are named after legendary explorers - Columbus, de Gama and Magellan and are quiet impressive. Each dining room is three levels and are among the most classic and elegant dining rooms afloat. The rooms feature a grand staircase and elegant railings which outline each level of the restaurant. Floor to ceiling columns add finishing touches and contribute to the grandness of the room.

Cuisine is good. The food is presented in a very appealing manner. Although the food is good quality and tasty, Royal Caribbean is not the highest rated in food among cruise lines. Royal Caribbean offers a wide selection at meal times including fish, meats, pasta, healthy entrees and vegetarian selections providing something for everyone.

Breakfast and lunch are open-seating in the dining room. Otherwise you can opt to eat at the Windjammer Cafe buffet, which offers a wide selection of entrees and side dishes. For breakfast the Windjammer offers eggs made to order and at lunch the buffet features a carving station with different prime cuts featured each day.

For Lunch, there is also Burgers, Grilled Chicken, hot dogs fries and salads poolside. 

The Windjammer Cafe, is also open for dinner should guests choose a less formal option. The buffet does feature the same menu items as the main dining room, but the quality and dining experience is much better in the main dining room than in this less formal - pre-made environment.

The Explorer of the Seas features specialty restaurants which are available at an additional charge. The 88-seat  Portofino Restaurant,. features many favorite Italian dishes. The service and cuisine are exceptional, but because this is a more formal dining experience, expect that the meal will take longer than a traditional meal. Reservations are normally required and a $20 per person surcharge is applied.

If you are in the mood for a burger fries and a shake, there is Johnny Rockets which is a 50's-style dining venue. The experience is more than just the food, since the staff frequently has fun with the passengers, performing songs-and-singing. There's a $4.95 cover charge- which does amaze me, but I think it is done for crowd control, since the restaurant is modest in size. To avoid the rush, it is advisable to arrive early (around 11:30 AM, or after 3:00PM when the lunch rush is over).

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via the 24-hour menus. The menu offers a range of snacks and sandwiches. There is no charge for room service between 5 a.m. and midnight. Late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee. Gratuities are always appreciated.

Explorer of the Seas Cabins

In total, the Explorer of  the Seas features; inside, outside, promenade view and balcony cabins. For those with wanting more luxurious accommodations  there are suites as well.

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Balcony CabinAll cabin feature adequate storage,  closed circuit TV.  Some cabins feature a sitting area as well. Bathrooms are compact but functional and include a sink, toilet and shower - suites have tubs,

Inside Cabins overlooking the Royal Promenade are nice and have large picture windows, so occupants, need to make sure they close the curtains so others cannot look in. In addition these cabins maybe noisy depending on what activities may be happening in the promenade below. Either way, they are a great alternative to an inside cabin.

Most balcony cabins have enough room for 2 chairs and a small snack table on the balcony. As you progress to more expensive Balcony cabins the cabin space and balcony size also increase.

The Explorer of the Seas features cabins that can sleep up to 4 guests but also does have some interconnecting cabins so larger families can travel together.

Out of 1,557 staterooms, 939 of these have an ocean view (765 have balconies) and 618 are interior staterooms.

In general the cabins are modern, clean and adequate for passengers traveling on a 5-14 day cruise.

Explorer of the Seas Entertainment 

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Royal PromenadeRoyal Caribbean is known for their activities and entertainment.

Evening shows usually feature Broadway style reviews, magicians, ice shows (sometimes even including ice jugglers), comedians and more.

On deck, there is full court basketball, jogging track, inline skating, rock climbing wall -rising 200 ft. above the sea , pools, whirlpools, Kids Pool, Ping pong, shuffle board and more.

Inside there is the Spa (14 Therapy Rooms managed by Steiner. Spa treatments available at an additional cost), Library, internet cafe,  Casino, sports bar, live music, dancing and disco, bingo, horse racing, crafts, workshops, movies, card games, aerobics classes, gym, indoor thalassotherapy pool, art auctions and dance lessons to name a few.

You will never have to worry about being board.

Explorer of the Seas Family & Children 

Explorer of the Seas is an outstanding choice for family cruisers. The facilities on this ship are among the largest in the industry -- encompassing more than 16,000 square ft. -- and include a large playroom, an outside area with splash pools for little kids, a video arcade and a teen nightclub (Optix) with a dance floor, DJ booth and soda bar.

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Kids ProgramRoyal Caribbean's excellent Adventure Ocean Youth Program divides kids into age-appropriate groups. For instance, Aquanauts (the program for ages 3 to 5) may feature activities like "Alphabet Scavenger Hunt," story time and Adventure Theater acting classes by Camp Broadway. Explorers (ages 6 to 8) play backwards bingo, make their own surfboards and engage in basic science activities. Voyagers (ages 9 to 11) play foosball and capture the flag, as well as engage in science experiments that range from earthquakes to hailstorms. Even the teens are divided into two groups. The Navigators (ages 12 to 14) have "open-mic" karaoke contests and a rock-wall challenge. The 15 to 17 year olds have their own dance parties and arcade competitions.

In addition, Royal Caribbean has partnered with Fisher Price, Mattel and Crayola to offer a variety of kid- and family-friendly games and activities for all ages.

Generally, activities at Adventure Ocean cease during lunch and dinner times (children's menus are available in the main dining room), but there is the occasional organized meal outing (to Johnny Rocket's, for instance). On sea days, you can leave your kids (ages 3 to 11) at Adventure Ocean for a noon to 2 p.m. lunch-and-play for a cost of $7.95. Plus, new My Family Time Dining offers an option that lets kids finish dinner in the main dining room in 45 minutes, then theyare escorted by an Adventure Ocean counselors back to the kids' club to play (letting Mom and Dad enjoy a more leisurely meal).

Late-night group babysitting is available in the kids' areas (for ages 3 to 11). Baby sitting is available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $5 per hour, per child. In-room babysitting for kids over the age of 1 costs $10 to $15 per hour and requires a 24-hour advance reservation.

Explorer of the Seas Dress Code

 During the day, dress is casual. Evenings are either casual, smart casual or formal.
On casual nights, suggested attire is sports shirts and slacks for men and sundresses or pants for women.
On more formal evenings, men should wear jackets and tie, with women wearing dresses or pantsuits. On the formal night(s), men are suggested to wear tuxedos or suits with a tie, while it is suggested that woman wear cocktail dresses.

In Conclusion

The Explorer of the Seas is one of the World's  largest ships and features a Rock Climbing Wall, Ice Skating Rink, Miniature Golf and the Royal Promenade - a street, 4 decks high that runs through the center of the ship lined with shops and Cafes. The Explorer of the Seas will be offering alternating 9-Day Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean and 5-Day Bermuda Cruises. During the winter months, she will conduct longer Caribbean cruises from Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey.

Royal Caribbean is very kid friendly and has an extensive kids program. My children (6 and 9 years old) enjoyed the kids program so much they were begging me to stay longer at midnight. After 10 PM there is a nominal charge for the kids program, but well worth it. Per diems on Royal Caribbean are somewhat higher than those found on NCL and Carnival, but not quite as high as the cruise lines contained in our "Premium" category. Dining on board is traditional with a limited number of  alternative restaurants. Overall a good quality cruise with an incredible amount of  activities which can keep all cruise passengers busy at any age..

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas sailings depart from conveniently located Cape Liberty, Bayonne New Jersey.

Explorer of the Seas Statistics

Explorer of the Seas Royal Caribbean STATISTICS 

 Photo Explorer of the Seas
 Gross Tonnage 138,000 Tons
 Length 1,020 feet
 Beam 157.6 feet
 Draft 29 Feet
 Cruising Speed 23.7 knots
 Guest Capacity (Double Occupancy) 3,114
 Total Staff 1,185
 Registry Nassau, Bahamas
 Maiden Voyage October, 28, 2000