This is my full review of the 12 night cruise I went on, I know it is lengthy (I am going to put it on some review sites) but if you got some time to kill at school or something, then here ya go...
My review of Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas April 5th Cruise
After going on Carnival, Celebrity, and NCL for the past 9 cruises, my family decided to try something different. We booked a cruse on the Explorer of the Seas. I was very excited to go on a different line, especially Royal Caribbean because of how they seemed to compare to NCL. I went on with an open mind promising not to compare the two, and this is what I thought.
Getting on the ship: We left out of Bayonne, NJ. Getting on was a breeze. We drove there ourselves, and when we pulled up to the covered terminal 2 porters unloaded our car and took care of the bags. Check in was a simple; we went into a quick security check and then into a room for the actual check in. There was no lines, and very few people. On line, I was handed a letter signed by the captain explaining what I was not permitted to do as a teen cruiser. Check in took a little while because my dad and I share the same first name, but our seapasses were soon handed to us and we were off to get the security photo taken. My seapass looked just so wonderful with the two holes in it, a silhouette of teens dancing, and all sorts of restrictions listed on it. We then got on a shuttle bus and were off to the ship.
The ship: My first impression of the Explorer was good. Seeing it from the bus I got more and more excited. When I got on deck one, waiting for an elevator it didn't even feel like I was on a ship. We had to wait a little while. I then got off on deck 6, and headed to our balcony rooms. The rooms themselves were slightly better than NCL as far as size goes, however the bathroom was very small. The balcony was roomy and private. The bed was very comfortable and the couch was great as well.
Sail Away: Before we left port I went to the buffet to grab something to eat. The food tasted good. I found a spot on the deck and 15 minutes after sailaway we were under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and out in the ocean. I went back downstairs to unpack. By about 7:30 I decided to try and find Optix, the teen disco. I wanted to go to the meet and greet. I couldn't find it so I went downstairs, called reception and found out I had actually missed it. I was pretty disappointed. I went an hour late anyway and there were a few people left, talking. I didn't really join in on the conversation. Then we had an air hockey tournament and after I finished unpacking. I skipped dinner because I was sick and needed some rest. We were at the late seating and I heard my family of 4 was with another family of equal people, and they were amazing. I went to the welcome show, it was pretty good.
I came back to my cabin and again took a nap because my sore throat was getting worse. I woke up at 12:30 and and needed something to drink badly. My throat hurt really bad. At just a few minutes after one I went to the stairwell which was just 5 doors down the hall from me and started to walk down the one flight to deck 5. I was planning to go to Cafe Promenade, get some tea and bring it back to my room. As soon as I began walking down the steps, I heard somebody behind me. He told me to stop and I turned around and saw a tall man wearing a suit and an earpiece behind me. He demanded that I show him my seapass. Two other guards were standing next to him, apparently lower ranking than him. I showed it to him and he told me I was in violation of RCI's curfew and was to return to my stateroom immediately. I explained to him that I only wanted to get some tea because I wasn't feeling well. The response was "Thats too bad, you could have gotten it before 1 am, and that I better not see you again tonight." I told him that I am not trying to break any rules but I really did need something to drink. He then was extremely nasty to me, telling me that if I don't go back to my room then I will be brought to his boss. I really wasn't in the mood to argue, so I went back to my room. He followed me and told me he was going to be outside my room. He actually stood there for about 20 min. (I could see him through the hole). I was pretty upset about this but I went to bed and didn't even bother to get up till about 2 pm the next day.
The incident put me in a bad mood. But I did end up going to dinner that night and meeting the tablemetes, they really are amazing people and I am glad I met them. We are still in touch with them and will get together soon. Luckily sitting right next to me was a boy the same age as me. I got to become good friends with him and soon we had our own little group.
Towards the middle of the cruise, I began to go to Optix occasionally. There were always 2-3 guards standing outside. They would always check to see if our name was on the list and matched up OK before we were allowed inside. Once inside there were about another 3 or 4 guards standing in different areas watching us dance. I was unable to be myself because I just didn't feel comfortable with somebody standing against a wall staring at me the whole time but soon I got used to it. One night instead of hanging out with my usual group I went to check out the teen dodgeball which was listed in the teen activities. I was told it was too windy so we weren't playing. The teen director was trying to organize teams to play soccer instead, but she couldn't control anyone. There were about 60 kids there running around, grabbing the soccer ball from her, and then eventually the megaphone she was trying to use to get everyones attention. When all failed she walked away crying and the megaphone was smashed. I felt bad for her. I began talking to somebody there and ended up becoming good friends with him. The next night I met him in optix and talked to a girl, a friend of his. Turns out like me, she was on the Dawn many times and liked it much more than the Explorer. I then met a friend of hers that night, Sam. It was her birthday that very day. We all went to Cafe Promenade and like every night, were escorted back promptly at 1 am and forced to waste whatever food we weren't able to eat prior to the curfew. The next day we all met up, I was now friends with the three girls I met and we were going to go in the pool and see a show before dinner.
We all actually ended up going to Sam's room and hanging out. The time flew and we never made it to the pool, instead we went to the show and sat in the front row. The show was REALLY good, not because I was in it but because its quality was up there with NCL. Surprisingly, all the entertainment I saw on RCL was worse than NCL. It was pretty bad but this show was good. This guy John Joseph who played imitations of different classic rock artists started off his show with a bit of a comedy routine, feeding it off of members from the audience. We were sitting to the left facing stage, in the front row and I thought he wasn't going to get to us but he asked my new friends, the 3 girls sitting next to me, how old they were and where they were from. We told him it was Sam's birthday, she was sitting next to me. The whole theater cheered for her and then he started talking to me. He asked my name, my age, where I was from. Then he asked Sam if she wanted to make her cruise more enjoyable. Of course she said sure and next thing I know we were going on stage.
I looked out and saw the whole theater was full. I wasn't nervous or anything. He made me and her stand facing each other, and I had to look into her eyes and ask her "Do you know who I am" In a Zorro accent (he was joking about Zorro before we went up there) I couldn't understand what he wanted me to say because of the way he said it. It sounded like he wanted me to say "Do you LOVE who I am?" And I asked him if that was it. He said yup and put the mic to my mouth. Of course I said it wrong and the crowd went crazy with laughter. Then he made me say it right. It was pretty fun and after that things got a little bit more close between me and her. Everywhere I went in the ship people were saying my name and talking to me after that. Those next 3 days at sea were pretty fun. We hung out, now I had 2 groups of friends. We all got closer to each other.
Early in the morning of the last day at sea we began to sail through a powerful front off of Cape Hatteras. I have been through some pretty nasty stuff before, but this was bad. Force 10-11 gale, with 30ft seas. It was enough to leave everyone in bed that day. Most of the people who dared to venture out and eat got very ill. Things were getting broken all around the ship and all morning all you would hear was objects slamming into walls, plates breaking, and objects falling everywhere. I didn't get seasick; I really didn't mind it, but the strong smell of vomit which was present throughout the ship nearly caused me to get sick as well. That night, the last night, I went to Optix for the final time. The seas had calmed down to about 15 ft. We all danced. At times everyone was jumping up and down and dancing their heart out, and other times we slowdanced, especially since a lot of us had ended up in relationships like I did. It was amazing. You could feel the energy in there and even when the curfew came at 1 am, the 9 guards inside could not get us out of there. By 2 am they had the club closed, I was the last one out. I did my best to say farewell to everyone, never have I felt so sad saying bye to people before in my life. In those 13 days I made such strong friendships with the people I met I don't know how to explain it. I walked Sam back to her room, and we spent some time together, and then it was time to say goodbye. It was extremely hard saying bye to her, she lives in the UK so I don't know when I will see her again, if I even will. I cant find her on facebook and her email is messed up, but I am sure I will get in touch with her. It was these friendships that I had on the cruise which made it so hard to leave in the end.
Things I didn't like:
The teen activities were not organized well at all, that was a big disappointment to a lot of us.
The entertainment really was nothing special. Everyone agreed with me on that.
The security guards were a bit too much for me. I wanted to relax on this cruise and not be bothered constantly and watched. I eventually lost it, I just couldn't take being treated that way anymore. I was in an elevator with Sam and another friend of mine, he was 18. It was 1:05 am and we were heading back to our rooms. A guard comes in the glass elevator and begins asking me questions about her, and then he asks my fried too. He kept asking where we were going, if we were minors, and for our Seapasses. I told him I am going back to my cabin. He asked me the cabin number. I told him I was on deck 6, that was all I said. She was on deck 8 and the elevator was on deck 7 which meant I was riding it up to her floor because I was going to walk her back to her room. He asked me why I was riding an elevator up when my deck was down. It really pissed me off when he told me that I wasn't permitted walk back with her. He was really nasty to me, I cursed him off and he stepped outside the elevator to get another guard because apparently my poor choice of words at the time required me to be brought down to deck 1 and have my parents pick me up. As soon as he stepped out I closed the doors and we were gone. Even though I did curse him out, which was wrong, I felt he was way out of line treating me like that and telling me I wasn't able to walk my girlfriend back to her cabin. I found it hard to relax and enjoy my cruise when I was constantly being watched by them and chased out of Cafe Promenade every night at 1 am.
The itinerary: We had so little time in some of the ports that as soon as we got back from an excursion, we had to get on the ship. We weren't able to shop too much. The food was nearly the same every day for lunch/breakfast in windjammer and it was difficult to find a table. The ship layout was very different compared to the decks on NCL, that took getting used to.
The activities listed in the cruise compass which were planned to just sell something were numerous, they mainly consisted of art auctions, bingo, shopping seminars, poker tournaments, music, and of course the traditional pool games which all took place on one day. On NCL I enjoyed the seminars, games, activities, and just having fun with the cruise director staff at the various events held.
I did however like the cabins, they were nice. The fixed dining time was great, the same wait staff every night along with our tablemates made it wonderful. I actually ended up going ice skating during the storm on the last day, it was short but fun. I liked the solarium pool, very relaxing. Many of the crew members were friendly. I liked partying at times and just relaxing at others. The itinerary was nice, we went to Dominica, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Antigua, St. Marten, and St. Thomas.
Overall I would give this cruise a "C". I would rather go on NCL because all that really made me enjoy this cruise enough to make leaving it hard was the people I met. I don't plan to be sailing on Royal Caribbean in the future due to their policy of mistreating young adults.