May 2014 - Explorer of the Seas to Caribbean
Overall I thought the cruise was nice. The food was pretty good in the dining room, though at times I thought it could have been better. I did have a great experience with the helpfulness of my server in meeting my gluten free needs. They had fresh baked gluten free bread for me every dinner, and I ordered breakfast for the following morning which included gluten free french toast or gluten free pancakes. Both of which I can't remember the last time I had! My server was Wendell - he was absolutely wonderful. He told me everything I could want to know about the ship, how to get the food I needed (for my gluten allergy), and even about the islands. He was a pleasure. I cannot say good enough things about him!
Just a note - Portofino's was a little overrated. Its only $25 per person for the dinner, but the food wasn't fabulous and it was more about the "presentation" of the food than the taste of the food. You might as well not waste your money since the normal dining experience (sit-down as well as the buffet) are included in your costs.
My niece who is 7 months old also accompanied my family on the trip - and the cruiseline was less than helpful when it came to her. She wasn't allowed in the pools and they reminded us constantly of this (we just had her feet in the water to cool off). They had a pack and play for her to sleep in but it took up the bulk of the room which was frustrating and they said they could not take out the table that was in the room to give us more room. They don't provide any baby food or anything like that so my sister had to bring everything herself. They also don't allow children that are not potty trained to be in their children's activities so she could not be apart of that. Lastly, they say they offer babysitting for nights you want to go to dinner/drinks without the kids - but really its based on the staff doing overtime if they choose, but it is not guaranteed that they will show up because if they have other duties needed, then they dont have anyone to babysit. This was very frustrating because they advertised it like it was 100% there and available, but really its not. So from the sounds of it - it just seems like the cruiseline isn't very accomodating to little children. The biggest problem was that they still charged for the baby as a full passenger along with gratuities - which is crazy. She wasn't allowed to use any of the ammenities!
I think at the end of the day, the cruiseline is really meant for people without kids, people with elementary school aged kids(they were better with their activities for them), and elderly people. If you have young kids - you're constantly running around with little help from them.
The biggest complaint I have is that there were no signs posted about getting your photos from the cruise prior to the day of embarkment back in the US. They did not have their photo area appropriately staffed for the demand on the last day of the cruise. Becuase of the craziness in the photo area - we waited until the morning of embarkment - and we were unable to purchase them. Its a little crazy. But essentially I was told that there are international laws that keep them from selling things once we're back at port. The physical pictures were discarded (recycled) as of midnight the night before, and the electronic photos were deleted as of midnight the night before the cruise ended. I'm disappointed about that.