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Old July 26th, 2004, 09:07 AM
Marina
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Default Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL cruis

Hello everyone. We just returned yesterday from our First Royal Caribbean Cruise on Explorer of the Seas. (Western Caribbean Itinerary). I’ll write my observations and helpful tips on saving money by “doing it on your own in each port” (We kept our final bill to 295.00)

When commenting on this cruise, I’m keeping in mind our past cruising experience, Celebrity Horizon, Carnival Paradise, Disney Wonder (two weeks ago for 4th of July), and now the Explorer.

The Boat Itself: Beautiful, kept clean, although I did not see that presence of people frequently disinfecting elevator buttons, handrails, like on other cruises I had been on. Disney keeps trays of free hand sanitizer packets in front of all their dining rooms, I think all cruise lines should do this. We saw two people throw up on the ship (one small child by the elevators, and another person a few days later on the deck). It must have been because they were sick because we felt very little movement on this ship (the seas were calm). I have always wanted to sail on a mega-ship, and the Explorer did not disappoint me, she is a beautifully designed ship.

The Food: Here is the only area where Royal Caribbean disappointed me, the food on this boat was terrible! The worst food on any vacation we have ever been on (land or sea). I actually lost 2 pounds on this cruise, my husband called it “the diet cruise.” In terms of the lines we have been on, here is (in our opinion), a “report card” of the dining:

Celebrity A
Disney A-
Carnival B+
Royal Caribbean D-

When I read some reviews about this boat, I expected average to so-so food, but we couldn’t believe just how bad the food was on this cruise. The Windjammer Buffet was so terrible that we ate all of our meals in the main dining room! We have never had lunch or breakfast in the main dining room on any of our other cruises, but after 2 awful meals in Windjammer, we knew we were in trouble. Here are some examples: breakfast would have hot orange juice and apple juice (it was like drinking hot cider in the mornings), awful scrambled eggs, Lunch NO variety, the same buffet meals every day, mashed potatoes every day. We would go to Johnny Rockets, which was good, but who wants to eat hamburgers every day on a cruise? Even in the dining room, you would get occasional good dishes (some of the soups were good, some salads were good, the turkey dish on the last night was good, but we never had one great meal the entire cruise.) The lobster was disgusting, it tasted like a not fully defrosted tiny lobster tail I bought in my local A&P freezer. The chicken marsala was inedible; my local Italian Deli makes one that puts the cruise one to shame. Our servers were charming, they were the only pleasure we got going to the dining room because (and this is a first for us) we never looked forward to eating in the dining room. My local diner serves food much better than this ship did. We were truly amazed at how bad the food was, it was such a disappointment. The deserts, even in the dining room the deserts were awful! We had sherbet or ice cream every night!

We talked to a lot of fellow passengers who expressed how terrible they also thought the food was. One man said, if this dining room were a restaurant at home, I’d never eat there again! Also, we cruised the week before on Disney, and the cuisine was exceptional. We did not know exactly what type of food to expect on RCCL, but we never expected such poor food on a pretty expensive cruise! (For example I paid ½ of what I did on Carnival last year when I did the exact same itinerary on the Paradise, and Carnival’s food was far superior to the Explorer’s). We talked to quite a few first time cruisers who said comments like “we though the food is really good on a cruise.” Others we talked to were pissed that the food was so bad considering the price they paid. A lot of people were talking about it. On my survey sheet I basically wrote that RCCL has a lot of nerve charging what they do if this is the type of food they serve.

Now we had a great time on the cruise, we loved the staff and the boat was gorgeous, but a great dining experience is something we expect on a cruise and this was the first time we ever had such awful food. I always love going to the dining room at night, but there was no joy in it this time.

Are all RCCL boats like this? What RCCL boats have better food?
I’d hate to write off RCCL entirely, but I want to make sure I never have to eat like this again on a cruise.

Helpful Hints:
The ice show, see it!
Johnny Rockets did not charge a cover charge, just for sodas & shakes. The shakes are excellent! (Disney now gives free sodas on all their cruises. We thought this is a nice touch that hopefully catches on to all the other lines.)

We saved loads of money by doing each island on our own! Here is what you can do:

Costa Maya: Go into the shopping area, there are booths set up for various excursions. We did a 20.00 per person snorkeling by boat which was great. (1/2 the price the boat wants). You will be completely safe, the guides were wonderful and we had a great time. (The company’s name starts with an O, I forget the name. There is one big booth, you will see it. You take a 3 minute cab ride to the Tequila Hotel where the guide is waiting for you. Other explorer passengers did this tour as well. It’s a nice group, 12 at a time. You snorkel for an hour or so, a nice canopied boat, I highly recommend it.

Grand Cayman (free snorkeling): Take the public bus, there are loads of them (2.50 US dollars per person) to “Cemetery Reef”. There is no cover charge, it’s on a public access section of 7 mile beach (next to a cemetery, of course). The beach is gorgeous, and the snorkeling is great, no cover charge.

Cozumel: (free snorkeling) Take a cab (about 6.00 for your entire party) to Dzul Ha, there is no cover charge, great snorkeling.

Belize: We just did shopping this time & enjoyed the pretty empty boat. We snorkeled last year when we were on the Paradise, but there are plenty of tour operators at the town. A lot of cruise passengers used them.

By the way, I got the white tags & had no problem making our 11:40 flight. We were off the boat by 7:20 and at the airport by 8:00. We could have even been on standby for an earlier flight home, but hubby does not like to change flights.

Hope this info helps,
Marina
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Old July 26th, 2004, 04:00 PM
Nay
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

Sorry to hear about your dining experience; however, I just returned from RCCL's Grandeur of the Seas, departed from Baltimore (Bahamas & Florida cruise) and the food was excellent. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed each meal and especially the desserts. We were too full to even enjoy the midnight buffets. We thought overall the main dining room experience was equal to a 4-5 star restuarant. Can't compare to Celebrity thought; we haven't cruised them yet. Hope you have better luck next time.
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Old July 26th, 2004, 07:55 PM
joanied.
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

I just got off the EOS also (July 25th) and totally agree. The food was the absolute worst on any cruise ship I have been on. Our assistant waiter was also horrendous and forgot to give us water, drinks, salad dressing--anything we asked for every night.

NONE of the 15 of us in my family gained a pound on this cruise because the food was so terrible. My kids ate at Johnny Rockets every chance they could.

The Explorer needs a major revision of their food service department.

We did have fun, didn't see much disinfecting either--my daughter got "pink eye" during the cruise.
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Old July 27th, 2004, 04:51 PM
Mike Fast
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

I'm surprised about your comment about the food too, altho I haven't been on that ship. I have been on the Rhapsody twice and the food was great, both in the restaurant, and the buffet. The buffet to my thinking was better than what we had on the NCL Sea, and the Sun Princess. Even though we ran into 27 foot seas one night, I didn't see anybody get sick in the public areas.
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Old July 28th, 2004, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

I certainly hope this is not all true about the food--we dine out a lot in Vancouver Canada and our family is cruising early September--maybe the food will improve by then???? Thanks for the info though.
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Old July 28th, 2004, 02:28 PM
Got2Cruise
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

I was recently on the AOS, where I would give the food a Bplus, which was what I was expecting. I would give NCL a B. The meal in Portofinos was an A. Everyone always raves about the Celebrity food. And here is my pondering. . .If RCI and Celebrity is owned by the same parent company why is there such a discrepancy in the food? I mean, don't you think they purchase the food from the same vendors to receive a better deal in the price? And, can't the people in charge of the way the kitchen is operated on Celebrity ships train the kitchens on RCI? Ok, I will stop my rambling now. ;-)
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Old July 28th, 2004, 02:39 PM
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

It is strange. The food on these ships tends to change each sailing. We had a similar experience on Grand Princess. Several of the main entrees in the dining room were inedible. Others aboard pleaded with us not to judge Princess by our experience.

Having sailed voyager class ships 10 times (Explorer twice), I can say that the food is usually pretty good. Having said that, I will add that you shouldn't be shy if you do not like something in the main dining room. There have been several times where I told the waiter I was unhappy with my meal and they bent over backwards to find me something else. Not ideal of course, but I always end up finding something I like. As for the buffet, I have actually seen some improvement there lately. They seem to be adding more interesting ethnic foods such as indian and mexican. Some ships are now offering sushi as well.

I don't think it is reasonable to expect the same quality on a mega ship as the smaller ones. It is funny, I am almost afraid to try Celebrity because the food sounds so good I fear gaining too much weight. Did you try Portofinos? I would advise doing a newer voyager class ship. They offer an alternative steakhouse as well as portofinos.
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Old July 28th, 2004, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

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Old July 30th, 2004, 02:45 PM
mb mb is offline
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Default Re: food on RCL

Okay--I have read and read and read the posts regarding the poor quality of food on some of the mega-ships--Can't imagine that a company as large as Royal Caribbean isn't somehow addressing such a large problem... Has anyone received responses to their complaints? Are the complaints getting to the right people? Does Royal Caribbean even acknowledge that their IS a problem?
I am planning a May 2005 cruise on the Mariner and am getting a bit worried, as having good meals will be high on our priority list. It would be rather odd for me to complain about something that I have yet to experience, but I would be willing to voice my concerns to the Roayl Caribbean personel if anyone thought it would do any good. Just a thought.
MB
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Old August 1st, 2004, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

Here Here MB!! My thoughts exactly, Like you, I'm sailing June'05 and am surprised at all the food comlaints. Does anyone really think RCCL DOESN'T know about the complaints?? I lthink perhaps this company is run like so many other business...If there's a problem but its not reflected in the profits (i.e. these ships are full, most of the time) then don't spend the money, man power, and time to correct it! I too, have false hope that maybe, just maybe, things will improve over the next 10 months !

You have to admit, this is a lot of money for a vacation where you get - AT BEST - banquet food!
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Old August 4th, 2004, 10:01 AM
mb mb is offline
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Default Re: Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RC

It IS a lot of money, and I certainly will be dissapointed -to say the least-- it the food is sub-par. I would even consider a higher priced cruise ship --but they tend to cater to older passenger and less of a "party" atmosphere. We aren't THAT old yet (40's) and want to be able to party without feeling out of place. Here's to hoping we luck out with a "good food week!"
MB
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Old August 5th, 2004, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

MB - You took the words right out of my mouth!! Kelly
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Old August 6th, 2004, 09:23 AM
MelissaPasquantonio
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

Maybe it is just the Chef on that particular ship
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Old August 7th, 2004, 02:23 PM
Tmpy
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

We did the Disney Cruise in 2002 and since that was so great we thought RCCL would be fantastic. Guess what? Disney has it all over RCCL and I'm not a Disney fan per se. 16 of us were on the Voyager in 2003 and not one person thought the food was good. I'd never give RCCl my money again.
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Old August 8th, 2004, 10:57 AM
mimikens
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Default Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RCCL c

I went on the Explorer in May and have to agree with you on the food in the Windjammer. I didn't have a problem with the dining room food however. Overall, it was the worst food I've ever had on RCI (my 13th on RCI). I have always had horrible luck with Carnival and always lost weight on their cruises (one time 10 lbs from food poisoning). I find the food on the mega ships is not as good as the smaller Radiance or Vision class ships. Given the price difference between Disney & RCI (at least 2x more expensive for Disney for FL residents) I would hope that the food would be beyond compare. And even though I do generally like Disney, I'm not really into Disneyesque entertainment and decor every place I go. I have never been on Princess or Celebrity and am debating about whether to go or not. I have heard that although the food is good, neither have the more active offerrings on the ships. I am leaning towards Princess in the spring though just to try it out.
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Old August 9th, 2004, 07:33 PM
G3115
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Default Re: Re: Just got back from the Explorer of the Seas - 1st RC

We were on the Mariner on June 20th. I agree that the food in the windjammer leaves alot to be desired. Very few dishes that we could eat. We ate almost all our meals in the dining room and were very pleased. In 10 cruises this was the best food we have had. Dont miss the creme brulee.
The best buffet we have ever had was on the Carnival Pride. We liked all the different stations and the food was good.
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