Year Started: 1969
Ships in Fleet: 23
Summary: The largest and most technically impressive cruise ships in the world. Great for kids, families and adventurous adults. A large fleet, but Oasis and Brilliance are often cited as favorites
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Mediterranean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean, Canada, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Teens.
Good for: Teens. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Families. Overall Service.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Regions:China (as of May 2015)
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Tasmania
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Suez Canal, Bahamas, Dubai
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Brazil, Western Mediterranean, Greek Isles
Good for: Seniors. Families. Singles.
Regions:Norwegian Fjords, British Isles, Scan Russia, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:UK, Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda
Good for: Disabled Travelers. Group. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket & Port Kelang,
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Hawaii, Alaska, South Pacific
Good for: Families. Group. Overall Service.
Regions:Toyko To Taipei, Australia, Asia
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
"Best of Europe"
This was a repositioning cruise. We had 15 in our group. We all flew from Cincinnati to London. We spent a few days in London prior to the cruise.
We visited the normal tourist attractions. We took a private coach (First Class Cars) to the port. We arrived in Southampton around 12:30, took about 15 minutes to board the ship, and headed to the Windjammer for lunch.
The ship had just come out of a 10 day dry-dock in Germany, and it had sailed to Southampton early that morning. Since no passengers had to disembark, we were able to get into our staterooms right away.
The ship looked wonderful. The staff and maintenance crews were doing some minor touch ups during the cruise. They were laying carpet in different staterooms, and gift shops on the Promenade.
Here is the review:
The Ship The Voyager looked to be in good shape. The Windjammer café was great; the bars all over the ship were in good repair. The staff in the dining room was great. We ate on deck 5 for dinner. We had late seating. Our head waiter, table waiter, and assistant table waiterwere great. The food was wonderful, and I only saw a few items repeated during our 11 night cruise. Our group ate in Portofino's. The food and service was well worth the extra $20. Ate in Johnny Rockets twice; I love this type of food and atmosphere. The shows at the La Scala Theater were good. The comedians and magician were great. The Royal Singers and Dancers were very good.
We had a Grand Suite on Deck 10. Good location. We had one floor up to Windjammer, and one floor down to the concierge lounge. Never heard any noise from the pool area above, and never heard any noise when we were out on the balcony. The suite gave us plenty of room, lots of storage space, drawers, closet space, and the bathroom had a tub and double sink. We were very pleased with the Suite.
Staff Our captain was the youngest in the Royal fleet. He stated on the first day out that he didn't believe in having the "invitation only" captain's dinner. He said he would stop by the dining rooms during the cruise and stop at different tables. He said he could visit more passengers by stopping by tables then having ten select passengers at his table. This is a wonderful concept, however; during 11 nights, our group of 15 never saw him. Seems like the only time we saw him was during formal nights, when he was posing for pictures on the Promenade.
Our Cruise Director was Jill Tasker. Like the captain, we saw very little of her. She was in the theater to introduce the shows, but seems like every time we had an event, she sent one of her staff to that event. During the cruise the onboard staff was always accommodating and helpful.
Our ports of call were Vigo-Lisbon-Gibraltar-Sardinia-Rome-Florence-Nice-Barcelona. We used the ship's excursions for all but two tours. In Rome and Florence we used Romeinlimo. They provided an excellent service and gave us the opportunity to see more in both ports than the ship's tours did.
All in all I would rate this cruise as 5 out of 5. There were a few minor glitches; but for the most part everything worked out, and our group was very well taken care of. We had a great time.
This was my third cruise with Royal Caribbean, my 12th overall. I booked this cruise two weeks before sail date and at that time I requested a small table for 2, second seating.
The embarkation could not have been more smooth. I arrived at the pier in San Pedro at approximately 11:55am. I was able to drop bags, check in and board all within 15 minutes of arriving at the port.
Once on board, knowing staterooms would not be ready until 1:00pm, I made my way to the dining room to check on my dining assignment. The Mariners main dining room is located in the aft section of the ship, and is divided into three levels, The Sound of Music on deck 5, Top Hat and Tails on deck 4 and the Rhapsody in Blue on deck 3.
I was to discover that I was given a seat at table #320 which is a table for 6, second seating, which I felt was unacceptable. I was informed by one of the servers setting the dining room that I could possibly request a change of the assignment at 1:00 pm. This is whenone of the head waiters would be available to reassign me if possible.
Knowing I booked late, I understood there may be a chance my request may not be granted. I decided "nothing ventured nothing gained," so I parked myself outside of the entrance on deck four at 12:20pm to wait for the opportunity. As it turned out, it was a good thing I did as the line began to form quickly. Shortly before 1pm Mr. Dinesh Dogra arrived, and being first in line he quickly informed me that basically he could not help me, and I was out of luck, stating "we only have 11 tables for 2 in second seating on this sailing."
When I asked what he would suggest I do for dinner since I really did not care for dining with a large table and truly didn't enjoy the buffet dining experience, his response was "that's your choice. I don't care what you do." Mr. Dogra was very condescending, which made for not exactly a great start to this cruise vacation.
After I booked this cruise , I called a friend Carmen "H," who has been on many cruises with RCI (73+) just to see if she might be available to book as well, and she was.
Miss "H" was in line directly behind me and prefers to dine at a large table. When her time came to talk with this gentleman, she simply asked if her dining assignment was in the section of one of her dear friends who is also a headwaiter on the Mariner, and who was also expecting her to be assigned in his section. She was informed by Mr. Dogra that he was too busy to check and that he wasn't there for that purpose. In my opinion Mr. Dogra's guest relations skills need work and he should not be permitted to interact with guests until being sent for retraining in guest relations.
After the confrontation and being somewhat disappointed, Miss "H" and I agreed to meet later for a drink. Off we went to check out our individual staterooms.
My cabin was a category E1, #7216 which is located forward on this ship and included a balcony.
This cabin is spacious, clean, and in fairly good condition, although I discovered the heating system was not working properly, and after informing my stateroom attendant of this fact, it was corrected in less than 90 minutes.
My stateroom attendant for this voyage was a Mr. Mark Bonner, who is from Jamaica.
Mr. Bonner's responses to my needs throughout this cruise were met on a higher level than my original expectations. He was consistently able to quickly and efficiently keep my stateroom in a constant ready state. He should be commended for his professionalism and attention to details. Two big thumbs up from me!
Around 5:00 pm that first evening a wonderful gentleman; Merrick Saldanha -- another one of Royal Caribbean's excellent head waiters -- informed me that indeed he was able to arrange a table for two for me and in his section, although he wasn't able to accommodate Miss "H" and her request for a large table at her friend's station (because her friend was not scheduled to work second seating), so she decided to dine with me. A big thanks to Mr. Saldanha, which provided a terrific win-win solution.
This being my first voyage on the Mariner, I was presented with my chance to see what all the hullabaloo was about concerning the Promenade.
The Promenade, for those that aren't familiar, is a wide corridor in the middle of the ship. It runs forward to the aft on deck 5. This is where the ship conducts some of it's many activities including parades and musical performances, and it is also the location for the onboard shops, the coffee café, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Parlor, and the champagne bar, as well as the guest relations desk. There are cabins that are located over the area that will enable guests to look over the area, and I was told by many staff that those staterooms were soundproofed. Although, the Promenade tends to be a bit loud for my taste, I admit the concept is a 5 star idea!
The highlight for me on the Promenade is the wine bar Vintages!
Vintages is a delightful place that houses many excellent wines. There you are encouraged to "taste" a wine before purchasing, and you are also allowed to purchase by the glass or bottle. They will store your unfinished bottle for you, if you so desire.
On this particular cruise, three of Vintages' employees Gustad Irani, Alme Morrison and Lloyd Tan provided outstanding descriptions of the wines, and their service was exceptional.
This cruise had three ports of call -- Astoria Oregon, Victoria, BC and Seattle, Washington. There were also three sea days as well. Personally I ended up treating this as a mostly sea days cruise, only getting off in Victoria in order to look over the garden spot of British Columbia. We were told by the locals that Victoria was a community of retirees and gardens, so as he put it "Welcome to Victoria -- the home of garden beds, newlyweds and almost deads!" Victoria was very charming and I am looking forward to returning.
The Mariner has three specialty dining venues that impose a surcharge. Portofinos' "Intimate Italian Dining" $20.00 per person, Chops Grille "The best steak on the high seas" $25.00, and Johnny Rockets $4.95.
On Wednesday I had my chance to try specialty dining. I chose Chops Grille, and I will say I was quite pleased.
Thursday evening I was invited to dine with the Chief Engineer, Harri Kulmajarui -- a delightful man from Norway.
On Friday I received an invitation to tour the bridge.
Formal Nights were on Monday and Friday. While preparing for the second formal night, the top button on my tuxedo shirt popped off. Not knowing what to do I went to guest services. Gaston Somonte, one of the guest services officers, went above and beyond the call. He found an emergency sewing kit and quickly dropped it by my stateroom. Talk about saving the day!
Due to the economy, RCL has undergone major cost saving measures, including forgoing the grand buffet -- the chocolate extravaganza. They have raised prices across the board as well. Pellegrino is now $6.95 a bottle and they are also charging $14.95 for a decent steak in the dining room. They have also eliminated the chocolate on the pillow at night.
I truly hope this is not an indication of things to come.
Jeers * To Royal Caribbean International's efforts in cost cutting and revenue generating by charging $14.95 for a decent steak in the dining room and for the removal of chocolates on the pillows at night. Please don't cut too many pennies!
Extra Cheers * Mario Panganiban -- the waiter whose station I eventually was assigned ensuring that my dining experience was all it could be.* Manuel Datayan, the assistant waiter whose attention to detail always ensured an exceptional dining experience.
What started out with a bad customer service experience ended up as often happens with great guest relations and the gaining of new acquaintances.
In general the crew of the Mariner try to please, and as with any organization you will run into a bad apple now and again.
This was my first cruise and it was truly wonderful. All crew and staff were very friendly and helpful especially the Stateroom Supervisor (Marcus), the Stateroom attendant (Angelique) on deck 2 and the Chief Housekeeper. The food was exceptional and the Waiter, Assistant Waiter and Head waiter in the King and I Dining Room were great. We had table 77 for the 6.30pm sitting. The Entertainment Director and his staff were very helpful (especially Vicky) and the DJ Savio was Fantastic. Poolside attendants were also great especially Kalish.
We had booked a Junior Suite for 2 adults and one child. The stateroom was adequate. There were plenty of drawers and wardrobes although the wardrobes were very dark inside and could do with an internal light.
The bedding, carpets, sofa and chairs were clean and fresh. The dressing table was large with plenty of mirrors and storage space, but they were looking rather tired.
I can cope with that as long as everything is clean -- which is was.
We were on deck 8 and did get lots of noise from people walking above. We also had a couple of mights when high wind whistled throughthe balcony and made a huge racket keeping us all awake. However if we hadn't have had the balcony, we would have missed the dolphins and a fantastic lightening storm and pouring rain on our last night. We could have gotten any other view from the deck above. When the rain came the public were told to go inside and were not allowed back on deck until it had stopped.
The pool in the Solarium and outside were both salt water.
There are 2 jacuzzi's outside and 2 in the solarium. We used the gym which, although small, had a good selection of equipment. For a charge of $10 you could do the spin class, which was always busy.
The pitch and putt was well worn and bland but we still played. The rock climbing wall was busy at times, but the staff were very encouraging and didn't hurry anyone. The wall was open many times during the week and once a week they would open it at night, which was a totally different experience -- great fun.
The entertainment was good in 42nd Street and the bands that played in the lounges and on deck were very good.
My 15 year old son was rather bored as there wasn't really that much for him to do.
I met some truly interesting people on the cruise and made a few friends. It was nice to see that the crew members were so multi-cultural as were all the passengers. I can truly say I had a dream cruise and would recommend this cruise to all of my friends. Thank you all once again.
Shore excursions were available although quite expensive. For some of the port calls like Santorini and Kusadasi we booked private tours in advance. We contracted with local tour operators.
PORTS OF CALL Venice, Italy: The highlight was Venice and I would advise anyone sailing from Venice to go out a couple of days early and have a good look around, because it's wonderful.
Dubrovnik, Croatia: Dubrovnik is easy walking around the old town, although the walk around the old city walls is worthwhile but quite energetic.
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: Our group of six toured Ephesus with a guide that Denizhan (www.transbalkan.com) had arranged. We had the best tour with him -- better than in any of the other ports. The guide took many pictures of us with stunning views as backgrounds.
Santorini, Greece: We had a fabulous time on our tour in Santorini. Booked a private tour from Anna (www.santorinidaytours.com). Our guide took some great pictures and she did a terrific job in tailoring the tour around our needs, while at the same time making sure we saw all of the island's highlights. We truly enjoyed it.
Corfu, Greece: We took the Paleokastritsa and Corfu town tour which first took us to the resort area of Paleokastritsa where four busloads of tourists visited a small 12th century Greek Orthodox monastery. We saw the Greek Orthodox church of St. Spiridon in Corfu. People commented that Corfu didn't look like Greece. It doesn't have those old whitewashed buildings, and it has a strong Italian and French flavor. There is a picturesque old town and a great old fort jutting out into the sea.
All in all, the cruise was fine -- a small, clean, if tired ship with a friendly staff.
There isn't much for teenagers to do, so I wouldn't really recommend it for older families.
You do feel the engine and movement on this ship.
Explorer of the Seas Review Cape Liberty April 17th, 2009 9 day Eastern Caribbean Itinerary -- San Juan, St Thomas, Sanama Dominican Republic, Labadee Haiti
This was our first time out of Cape Liberty. We are not a real fan of NYC and then seeing the port as you approach, it does look like a dump. The nicest thing you see is the monument that is located by the ship. The boarding processes seemed very confused. Even with us having priority boarding because of a wedding, we still did not get on before noon. We had 55 of us. And WHY do you have to take a bus about 100 yards to board the ship? You got me.
On the ship -- FOOD, LOTS OF IT in the Windjammer, and it was very good. The food sculptures were amazing. I took pictures of just about every one we could find. It was very hectic to try to get to see all of the ship in the time before she pulled out so you could stand on deck for sailaway.
Elevators are slow when that many people are trying to use them, soUSE THE STAIRS!
The sail away party is fun, but why does it have to be at the same time as you are leaving and want to stay on deck?
Get your tickets for the first ice show; because you'll want to go back and see the second day's show. It was amazing.
The Welcome Aboard show was good, and then the parade was cool.
ROUGH SEAS at night, with gale force winds of 35+ mph and 7-9 foot seas, and the ship going 26 mph. That made for many sick people. Someone I know had to go to the doctor for a shot and it cost them $160. BRING your own Dramamine and start to take it the day before so it gets into your system.
Day 2 Rock wall is open. RECOMMENDATION: Wear long pants as the wall is worn and made of fiberglas and we got many little baby splinters in our knees.
The skating rink was open. Still very cold out as we have not passed S.C. yet.
I had two 17 year olds with us and there really isn't much to do for them if they are not into the sports deck. Can't go into casinos, can't go into clubs.
Many tournaments during the day to sign up for. It can keep you busy if you don't want to just lie out. We saw many people already burned, but also many were cold on decks.
Vibeology was a good show.
Day 3 Again, many tournaments for you to enter into. The ice show was AWESOME!
We did not go to the headliner show.
Bingo cards are expensive, but I guess if you win it's okay.
Entered the slot tournament for $25 pp, but did not have enough to make it to the final night.
Day 4 -- San Juan We got an extra hour because the ship arrived early. We had a 6:30 Segway tour, so we then had 2.5 hours to visit shops and we walked them all, got all the freebees from the book you can buy at the meeting they have the day before.
The SEGWAYS were awesome. It was too bad that it got dark while we were on them and we couldn't see all of San Juan. A movie was being filmed on the grounds of the fort in the grassy area. I forget which male star was there.
We missed our dinner time, so we went to the Windjammer, and the food was very good.
By this day we were partying with the crew in the Chamber every night. Remember we had 55 people and it was great to hang out with the dancers, skaters, and singers. They are changing at the end of this next cruise.
Day 5 -- St. Thomas Part of our group did the St John beach and snorkel tour, and were not happy with it. Only had about 1 hour in the cold water. The seas were rough going over and it took an hour. Many people got sick on the boat.
I had five of us do the SNUBA and it was cool. For me, as a fireman it was hard for me to learn to breathe through a mouthpiece rather than my nose as I have been taught in order to control my breathing. MANY, MANY fish in the water and that was really cool.
The Fast Forward show was good.
Did not make it to the midnight buffet, since I was too tired from being in the sun all day.
The toilets were not working in the forward section of deck 3 because someone put something in there. Made a call to front desk.
Day 6 -- Dominican Republic I ended up being sick and did not go on the excursion. But several people in our group did and they went to Cayo Beach. It was just like the Jersey Shore as I was told, but the beach was rocks.
The headliner comedian with Chucky and he was so funny I couldn't stop laughing.
The toilets AGAIN not working on deck 3 in the forward section. Called maintenance, same thing.
Day 7 -- Labadee It was VERY HOT today! We did the zipline and it was cool, but it went by SO FAST.
I wish they had another piece that went through the woods.
The kids had fun in the aqua park climbing on all of the blow up things. It was worth the $15 to cool off. Everyone wears a life vest because you cannot reach bottom.
The show was good. It was The Quest -- well, let's just say I'm glad I wore clean undies. And everyone else got to laugh at us and they said they couldn't stop.
We partied all night with the crew in the Chamber.
Day 8 -- At Sea I had to enter the sexy legs contest since I already embarrassed myself in front of 1300 people last night, and I almost won.
By now my 12 year old and the two 17 year olds have spent about $150 in the arcade. But he did win 2 iPODs on Stacker game.
I found out that someone else in our group who had a room on the 3rd floor got a bottle of champagne and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries for the toilet issue. So we went to guest relations and asked where our compensation was. I had 3 rooms full of crap for 2 days. I was told that I didn't make any complaints to the front desk or maintenance, but we did. I talked with three supervisors and got the standard 101 response of sorry. Told them we weren't happy with this. In turn they gave us one bottle and three trays of cookies.
By tonight the 17 year olds are getting angry. The Compass said there was a midnight teen dodgeball game. There had to be 25 kids there to play and no one from the ship showed up. So we went to Guest Relations and were told not to follow the Compass and that all teens should be in their cabins. It was only midnight and curfew is for 1:00 a.m. We made a complaint card out and got the public relations 101 standard response again of sorry.
Day 9 -- At Sea I played the Bingo games, $48 bucks for cards at the 11am show and then again at the 4pm show. One woman won $9150 in the final jackpot.
The 17 year olds were not allowed to play in the adult Nintendo Wii challenge.
There was another 18+ Dodgeball Tournament at 3pm today. We had played earlier in the week and my 12 year old and the two 17 year olds all played in it. BUT this time it was run by an African American woman and my 17 year olds were not allowed to play, but she did allow a 14 year old African American boy to play in it. How we know he was 14 was because he was in the Optic Club when the 12-15 year olds were in there and security checks all ID's at the door. So the boys felt there were some racial overtones to this and they made a complaint to guest relations. But all they got was the "it's at the discretion of the person running the sport" line.
By this time we are ready to be done with this cruise!
The farewell show was very good.
The ride home was smooth.
Departure Man, this always seems to be a headache. There was not enough tables to sit and eat at because everyone was sitting up there instead of in the areas they were assigned. Got off at 10am. Why do we have to get bags PRIOR to going thru customs? So many people trying to drag suitcases thru cattle chutes, running over your feet, cutting in line, getting in line before they have all the bags. It's a mess!
We had a private bus waiting and we headed home at 11am. It's finally over!
Drinks were very expensive. Dinner -- there was not much variety for the kids to eat. Ice Cream -- No free stuff after 9pm.
In closing, the ship is beautiful (A). Guest Relations were very insensitive and rude (F). Meals were so so, even though we got it when we asked for seconds(C). Singers, Dancers, Skaters were awesome(A+). Room Attendant was good (B). Activities for Adults (B+). Activities for 15-17 year olds (D). Activities for 12-14 year olds (C). Cruise Director (A). Activity People (F). Ports of Call (B). Timing of events throughout the day (D). Drink Prices (C). Waiter (F). Asst Waiter (A+) -- Mehmet from Turkey was awesome and funny, and he worked a lot. OVERALL RATING of this cruise -- C.
We left Columbus Ohio on April 14, 2009 for Ft. Lauderdale for our 30th anniversary cruise. This was a 14 day transatlantic cruise to Spain. We spent 2 nights in Ft. Lauderdale at an Encolodge on Taft Street. It was very reasonable and newly remodeled. We rented a car from Gold Coast and drove to Hobe Sound where we used to live. We ate at an Italian restaurant called Napoli's, and it was so good we ate there both nights that we were in the area. The pizza was the best.
We got on the ship on April 16 for our 14 day cruise. This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean and we were not sure what to expect. Getting on the ship went very smooth and fast. The ship was beautiful. We had not been on a ship this big, and so very well laid out. We had no trouble finding our way around and the 5th floor Promanade Hall was great.
The ship was very clean and the workers were very friendly. We had a leak in our bathroom somewhere and it came out onto the carpet. Theywere there really fast to fix the leak, though it took a couple of days for the carpet to dry which was no big deal.
We found lots of things to do on the ship. We did the climbing wall, ice skating, and laid out on the deck to read.
Some of the shows were really good, and some were just ok. The music in some of the lounges was great. We liked the ice skating show the best.
We did play the Quest game and that was a lot of fun.
Our dining room was very nice. It was very bright, which was good because we do not like dark dining rooms. Our waiter and our assiatant waiter were great. They were very friendly and funny, and they took time to talk with you. My wife ordered off of the kids menu and the waiter thought this to be funny, but he got her what she wanted. Our water glassses we could not empty. The waiters were there to refill them instantly.
Overall we had a great cruise and we are looking to book another transatlantic cruise. The next time we won't take too many clothes, because we did not wear all that we took on this cruise.
This was our first time leaving out of New Jersey. The port is not near where the ports are in Miami and arriving there it looks like a deserted dump, with vacant boarded up buildings. There were no porters in sight and we were told to just leave our bags sitting there under the tent and get in line to check in. After checking in and getting Sea Pass pictures taken, you have to board a bus to the ship. Once on the ship it didn't matter how you got there, the ship was beautiful as expected. Leaving from Jersey has some good points. You can see the Statue of Liberty from the ship and when leaving you pass under a bridge that is definately worth braving the cold weather in order to see.
The first day at sea, as well as the last, it was rather rough and a bit cool. On the last day it was very rough seas and the outside decks were closed due to the gale force winds. This just added to the experience and was cool to watch from the window in our room.
Wehad an Owners' Suite (1300) which was a first for us, since we brought our 13 and 15 year olds. The cabin was very nice, roomy and had a huge bathroom with a jacuzzi tub and separate shower and the shampoo, conditioner, and lotion provided were of good quality. The couch was pretty worn and the stateroom attendant put a board under the pull-out couch bed at night for the kids. The bed for us was very comfortable as usual.
We have been to Labadee before and didn't book any excursions this time. We just spent the day at the beach, and it was a great beach day. Just remember that the sun is very strong there and use sunscreen. Water shoes are also highly recommended as the water has a very rocky bottom.
The second port was Samana DR. I was a bit worried about this stop because of what I had read on the threads. We booked an excursion to go to Cayo Levantado Beach and this was the most beautiful beach we had ever been to. It was a short tender ride and you can see the ship from the beach. White sand beach, crystal clear water and palm trees everywhere, it was paradise. There is also a barbecue on the beach and the food was reasonably priced and very good. The vendors there are very nice too, not too pushy (unlike Labadee where they harrass you so much it scared a lot of people away). They sell the usual souvenirs, but check out the Larimar jewelry, a light blue stone found only in the DR. It is very nice and a necklace and earrings only cost me $20.
I had been to St. Thomas before, so we decided to take an excursion to St. Johns which is a very nice island about a half hour ferry ride away. Went snorkeling at Trunk Bay. It's a nice place, but not the best snorkeling we have had and we only had an hour and a half there. I wish it would have been longer. Next time we will just stay in St. Thomas and find a beach on our own to spend the day. The port is nice and there is usually more than one ship there. There are a lot of huge yachts there too, which were quite a site to see. Shopping is right off the ship, within walking distance or you can take a taxi to the downtown area to shop.
We left St. Thomas and went right to San Juan, arriving there that night. Originally we were scheduled to be in San Juan from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., but this was changed to 10:30 p.m. after being in St. Thomas all day, and leaving the next morning at 11:30.
We had a letter in our room the first day stating that the ship is traveling at reduced speeds and that the times in port had been reduced by an hour each except for San Juan. Weird hours and because we aren't late night people, we didn't go out to see San Juan until the morning. We left the kids on the ship to sleep in and walked around and did some shopping. We wanted to tour the old forts but didn't have much time to venture too far from the ship.
We had been on the Voyager class ships before and really like the set up. The Explorer only has Portofinos and it is a definite do not miss. The food is excellent and worth the cover charge. Johnny Rockets is worth a try also if you have never been. We did eat at the Windjammer for dinner a lot more on this cruise and the food was very good, with create your own pizza bar, noodle bar, create your own pasta bar and a mongolian stir fry. Very good food and we wanted a change from the dining room. The Windjammer is very quiet for dinner and only the back is open and the lights are dimmed. The breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer is okay, but the menu doesn't change much and it gets a bit repetitive eating the same things for nine days straight.
Overall this was an incredible cruise, with great ports and plenty to do. We didn't go to many of the shows, but the ice show was great. Do not miss it. We also saw a hilarious ventiloquist act (Ronn Lucas). It was nice to have the extra two days compared to the usual 7 night cruises we have been on, and this was the perfect length of time.
Jim (67) and I (62) chose this ship for our 25th cruise, mainly because it is the nicest ship in the Carib this summer, and has (we thought) a live Hold'Em Poker table. Overall, the ship is stunning and service is good. We are not, however, accustomed to such a BIG ship with SO MANY passengers!
We booked our own flights, planning to fly in a day early so as not to risk missing the ship. Our first flight was late, making us miss our connecting flight. Delta confirmed us on a 5:05 flight, but was nice enough to put us on standby for the 2:30 flight, which seated us. Even though we could not sit together, we were thrilled to make the flight. If these plans had been for cruise day instead of the day before, we might have missed the ship, meaning we'd have to make our way to Ocho Rios three days later to join the ship. Whew!
We checked into the Holiday Inn Bayside, expecting the promised bay view, only to discover that all the smoking rooms are on the 3rd floor, and not high enough tosee anything else but traffic. The room was small but comfortable. We walked across the street to Bayside and, after browsing the many shops and kiosks, had a wonderful dinner at Bubba Gump's. The next morning we had a great buffet breakfast at the hotel and grabbed a cab for the short trip to the pier.
Embarkation We arrived at the pier at 11:30, and after going thru security and check-in, we were in the Lido line in 15 minutes. We easily found a table for two by the window, and even when we left 30 minutes later, we saw no evidence of anyone wandering around looking for a table. We sat by the pool for awhile and around 1:00 went to our cabin.
Our cabin, JS-9644, was a spacious room with a walk-in closet and plenty of other storage space. The balcony was deep enough for two loungers and two other chairs and a small cocktail table. The bathroom, however, was very small for a Junior Suite. The small single-sink counter could only accommodate one person. Only 2 doors away from the elevator bank, we never heard any noise from the passageway. A sign on our cabin door indicated a non-smoking room, and when I called the front desk, I learned that all cabins are non-smoking, but we could smoke on the balcony. Inconvenient, but acceptable. That's the most Jim has used the balcony in all the years we've been cruising!
We took our traditional nap before the safety drill, and prepared for our first (early) dinner in the Rembrandt Dining Room. We were seated with a couple from Florida and another couple who didn't show up until the next night. Our waiter, Andrae and his assistant were attentive and prompt, and the DR Supervisor came by to see that we were being taken care of to our liking, and with one exception, we were.
The Soca-licious Parade was really cool with the staff/crew/entertainers dressed in elaborate Carnivale-type costumes, singing, dancing and interacting with the crowd. It was really fun!
We adjourned to the casino where we donated a little to the Dealers' Benevolent Society (missed the Welcome Aboard Spectacular), and retired early.
On Sunday, our first sea day, I ventured to the Windjammer for my traditional lox and bagels. It was a little crowded, and although the lines were short, I had trouble finding a table for one. One of the stewards took my plate, found me a table with a view, and had someone get me some coffee. The food and selection was very good, but it was difficult to carry a plate, bowl, silverware and a drink by yourself.
Our Meet 'n' Mingle was held at 10:15 in the Olive or Twist lounge. We had about 35 attendees, which was great! Carla and Andrew were very personable, having provided a gift for everyone, coffee, tea, juice, canapés and pastries, and they raffled off bags of very nice ship stuff. Although we were allotted 45 minutes in the lounge, we were gone in half the time. The Port & Shopping Show (which was billed as a 'must-see show') was scheduled for the same time, so we missed it.
On Tuesday, in Ocho Rios, we braved the hoards of Taxi drivers and wandered into the little shopping area off the pier. One driver took us to a shopping center where the locals shop, and we picked up a few things we had forgotten to pack.
On Wednesday, the second formal dinner, we were surprised that there was not enough lobster to go around. At our table, one couple requested and received an additional lobster tail each. The remaining diners were told that not only could we NOT order two lobster tails, but that there were NOT ENOUGH for even ONE ORDER PER PERSON on this EARLY SEATING! The waiter said that any remaining tails were reserved for the second seating. Our table mates brought this up with the Concierge, and the following night all six of us were served lobster in addition to our chosen entrees.
Saturday was Debarkation Day, and I was, as usual, dissatisfied with the procedure. As suite guests, we were nearly first off the ship. Even at this early hour, the lines for Immigration and Customs were unbearable. We got off the ship quickly, but the luggage was not on the proper carousel, and when we found it, it took a long time to find a porter to help us through the line. There were two lines with at least 200 pax (some trying to maneuver their own luggage) and quite a few successful line-jumpers. Once past this roadblock, we easily found a cab and were on our way.
Due to air traffic congestion, we missed our connecting flight. Delta once again got us standby seats, and we didn't have to wait too long.
We liked the size and layout of our suite (except the bathroom), the attentive waitstaff in the dining room, and the friendly and helpful dealers in the casino. Other than that, We did not have any use for most of the activities and attractions on the ship, and did not care to take any of the excursions this time. I think the Liberty was simply more ship than we needed. We can generally overlook minor things that are not to our liking, but we do expect a higher level of service than we experienced on the Liberty.
So much to do it can be overwhelming but in a good way. Some do's and don't's IMHO
DO - eat at Portifino Best service and filet mignon I've had in my LIFE
DON'T - eat main seating too rushed to get ready
DO - Book sail and snorkle excersion St. Thomas with Doubloon to Turtle Cove - great fun & crew!
DO - Atlantis submarine tour in St. Thomas closet you'll ever come to being a diver
DO - Buy wrist keychains (spiral) for room keys We had the front desk punch a hole in them and wore them on our wrist. So convenient!
DO - Bring Woolite and a couple of those removable hooks and some line to make a clothline on the balcony. Used these alot. As well as that wrinkle remover spray.
DO - Bring an over-the-door shoebag to hang up in the restroom! Helped tremendously
DO - Buy the video done during your cruise at the photo lab. $19.95 and well worth the money.
DO - Stay up late to view the Gala Buffet AMAZING
DON'T - Expect your teen 16 - 17 to venture off on their own. Teen programnot so good. Daughter was disappointed that she had to do all of the activities with 13 year olds so she chose not to. 13 year old son not too crazy about activities either. :( But they still had a great time with us.
DO - Try the Coco Loco's AWEMSOME
DO - Have a drink at Dizzy's the view is spectacular
DO - Attend evening parades in the Promanade Short but very beautiful and entertaining
DO - Plan some time to rest, we were so tired even though we didn't do the late night activities
DO - IF YOU HAVE KIDS buy the coke card/$20 (unlimited) and the non-alcholic drink card $43 (20 drinks plenty for the week). THESE ARE WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD, saved us a ton of money.
DON'T - Stress at the Haitian Market, have fun with it, they really are harmless. If they ask $30 (which they do for everything) you can probably get it for $10.
DO - Take lot's of pictures
DO - Tip for chairs in Labadee if you want one that is
DON'T - Be rude! We heard and saw many people that were not so nice to us, servers, and locals. No matter how much money we spend it doesn't make it right to be rude! Those people are the ones that ruin a vacation for all.
DO - TIP they really do work so very hard and deserve it
MISC - We really had NO problems the entire trip. Flights on time, easy on and easy off the ship. Some damage with luggage, ship repaired most of it while on the cruise. No problems with customs/passports etc.... KEN RUSH was the most amazing Cruise Director. He was EVERYWHERE all the time with the biggest smile on his face, we truly do not know how he does it.
My hubby says that "if this ship ain't got it, you don't need it"
HAVE FUN, we're sad to be home.
We recently took our first cruise on Explorer of the Seas with my parents and my brother and his finacee. We had a wonderful time and are looking forward to going again.
All the staff were very friendly and went beyond the call to make sure you were having a good time. The only problem that we had was that we had bought a bottle of Rum in Haiti and gave it up when we got back to the ship for them to store for us. Well, Saturday nite they were bringing around all the liquer that had been purchased and our bottle was "delivered to our friends on the 6th floor," all of our party was on the 7th. The supposedly looked and looked for it, but it was gone. How it could disappear is beyond us. We had a receipt and it should have been marked. But after some complaining, they did replace it with a bottle from the ship's store. But it still wasn't the same.
The food on the ship was wonderful, and we were able to try things that we had never tried before. Ifyou liked something, you could ask for an additional portion. The drinks were expensive. Service again was excellent, and we had found out that the waiters in the dining room had to work for a 5 star restaurant for 3 years prior to being able to work for Royal Caribbean. It definitely showed.
We didn't do any ship excusions, but did pick up the local ones, and they were half the price of the ship's and all were very good. On St.Thomas we had the tour guide that had been voted by the Chamber of Commerce as the best on the island. St. Thomas' beaches and waters are as pretty as we had always heard.
We would have loved to have been able to spend more time in Labadee. My boyfriend snorkeled here for the first time and really enjoyed himself. The only thing that I didn't enjoy here were the locals trying to sell their wares. They were overbearing at times.
Overall we are looking forward to saving up and going again!
We just completed our third cruise with Royal Caribbean. This was our least favorite of the three.
The cruise director was obnoxious and annoying. The entertainment in the evening shows lacked the quality of the previous cruises. Two nights we actually got up and left during the show.
The cleanliness of the tables in the Windjammer was very poor. They were always streaked, looking like they had been wiped with a dirty cloth.
We were in a group of 16. Some of us experienced soiled linens and stained towels.
The food in the dining room was average, at best. The portions seemed much smaller than previous cruises.
The prices for alcohol were also more expensive.
All in all, it was disappointing, and we will definitely consider another cruise line for our next vacation.