After 5 cruises on Carnival in the last few years (yes, we're hooked!) and 1 on Celebrity, we just booked an August cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. My husband and I will be cruising without the kids for the first time!!! We've had balconies, port-holes and an interior cabin on prior cruises, so we booked an Atrium cabin on the Explorer to try something different. We're on Deck 7 in the middle. .
We felt like we knew what to expect on Carnival -- but when you KNOW what the Cruise Director is going to say next (even if it's a different Cruise Director and ship), it's time to try something different.
Is there anything that we should know about cruising with RCL and on Explorer? I've seen references to wine lists and drink cards on the boards and member reviews. What are they, and are they really a good value? Where do you buy them? Can you get an excursion list for the Western Caribbean before cruising, and book before the cruise? Do you need to bring your own beach towels? Where do you get tickets for the ice-skating show and how do you sign up for mini-golf? Carnival has been getting increasingly informal, so formal nights are everything from dark suits to sports jackets -- work dresses to prom gowns. How formal are the RCL formal nights? Do you feel like you're in a goldfish bowl in the Atrium cabins if you leave the curtains open during the day?
Visit cruisecritic.com and then click on "boards" and then click on Royal Caribbean. Go to a posting titled "Explorer May 18-who's going with us" and you will find loads of info on any subject just about regarding this cruise. We are going in 8 days and it is our first time with RCCL too (we have always sailed on Holland America) and the cruisecritic.com website has given us more than enough information to be ready for RCCL! Enjoy!
I think your whole family will love this Explorer cruise, its a fantastic ship, lots to do and see onboard. If you go the the RCCL web-site, http://www.royalcaribbean.com/asp/default.asp you can see what shore excursions they have for the certain port. I believe you can also pre-register for them once you are within your 60 days of cruising.
Be sure to catch one of the parades and an ice show, they are must see shows!
I have been on Carnival before too and took my first RCI cruise in September but it wasn't on the Explorer! I absolutely LOVED it!! Better than Carnival. I don't know what drink card you've heard about but I got one and it costed about $45 or so and it's limited to what drinks you can use it for and it's really only a good deal if you use the whole thing up - 12 punches. I bought it at the pool bar but I think you can get it at any bar - not sure exactly. Anyway, have a wonderful time - I'm sure you'll love it! Oh, check out www.cruiseone.com - it has virtual 360-degree ship tours. Really cool! I have been wanting to go on the Explorer so I will be interested to hear how it goes!
You are going to love it! We have been on the Explorer twice. They will leave you beach towels in your room. You will need to return these towls to your room and have your room steward replace them when needed. You don't have to sign up to play miniature golf. Just go on the deck grab a club and a ball and start playing. Some people really dress up for formal nights (tuxes and "prom " dresses) but we saw alot of men in just regular suits and the ladies in what I call nice church dresses. One word of warning I have heard of about atrium room is that you need to remember if you are going to do any undressing remember to close those curtains. I've heard several people state they forgot the curtains were open and had to dive for the floor. At any rate you are going to have a fantastic time!
Thanks for all the feedback! I'll check out those web sites. Our kids are making me feel very, very guilty about going without them, since we've never done that before. We're taking them on Carnival's Pride in 4 weeks, but they're whining THAT ship doesn't have a basketball court, skating, etc. We probably should have planned on taking our family vacation on the Explorer, but the RCL cruise without the kids is a surprise to me from my husband (THANK YOU, HONEY!). I've promised the kids that they will get to go next year if they keep their rooms clean, get on honor roll, and do their chores without complaining. . .
WOW LOTS OF QUESTIONS. FIRST OF ALL I'VE BEEN ON THE EXPLORER AND WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. I HAVE HEARD SOME PEOPLE SAY THEY WOULD NEVER GET THE ATRIUM ROOMS AGAIN BECAUSE OF THE NOISE. NOT ALOT OF PRIVACY. AS FAR AS FORMAL NIGHTS GO YOU WILL SEE ALL TYPES OF GOWNS....I'D SAY ABOUT 80% OF THEM LONG AND LOVELY. ALOT OF MEN IN TUX'S...BUT SUITS ARE FINE AS WELL. YOU CAN GET YOUR EXCURSIONS A HEAD OF TIME. GO TO MYTRAVEL.COM AND GO TO EXCURSIONS. ALSO YOU CAN GET YOUR ICE SKATING TICKETS RIGHT BY THE DOOR WHERE THEY SKATE. JUST GO EARLY ENOUGH. YOU CAN GET AS MANY AS YOU NEED. IT'S A GREAT SHOW.