Not what we expected.....
WHERE do I start? We traveled in a group of 13 people who came in on various flights on different days. Two in our group decided to fly in and out on cruise days and booked flights with RCCL. Disastrous! The flight was late and the ship almost sailed without 6 of their passengers; 2 of which were in our group. Ship personal advised that the ship would sail with or without them at 4pm resulting in extremely stressful moments. Finally, they arrived but with no bags...bags arrived 2 days later in Juneau! Our friends where shaken up to say the least. No clothes, no food, nothing.. RCCL gave them a little bag with toothpaste and toothbrush... on the 2nd day. Clothing vouchers where to come from the airline which was difficult to contact. Our friends just bought what they could. No underwear, socks or personal type clothing onboard for purchase. IT WAS SOOO STRESSFUL for all involved.
DINING: We were suppose to have a diner table for 13. Somehow it was for 11. We asked the maître d to add the two extra chairs to our enormous table and he said he could not do that. After two nights of eating separately, our waitress accommodated the two chairs and had us all sit together...stress...again!
Our dining room experience, other than the seating, was wonderful. Our waitress (Geraldine), her helpers (Imade 1) and the Bar runner (Imade 2) where FANTASTIC! Food was good! Windjamer (buffet) was ok. Suitable for it's purpose...but found it to be closed at times when we needed to eat.
CAFE PROMANADE is open 24-7..thank goodness...but needs more seating as its the only place to eat when everything else is closed...so MOST passengers are there or have to "take out" when there is no room.
Next to the cabins... we had an outside balcony on the 9th deck (9292). Balcony was smaller than I expected but worth getting. Room steward (Clayton) was excellent! Rooms were clean and large.
CHOPS GRILL murder mystery dinner experience was ok. The meal served was EXCELLENT!!!! The performance was ok. The actors did not have microphones so if you are sitting in the back, you miss a lot of the dialogue.
PHOTOGRAPHY- Disappointed - the backdrops were all geared for "island" photos...not one backdrop had a mountain, snowcaps, Alaskan view... they had tropical sunsets, palm trees, beaches. I hardly took any photos.... sooo disappointing! Did like the automated photo center!
ENTERTAINMENT - AWFUL. First of all, the Cruise Director (Graham Seymour) was basically the entertainment.. he sang, was the comedian, danced, performed, hosted..you name it (also, can behave inappropriately from time to time). There were 4 excellent professional singers on board and we hardly saw them. There was 1 excellent professional comedian on board and he had only 2 shows, which was FANTASTIC (Kivi Rogers). The Cruise Director was selling a personal DVD and CD of himself after "his" late night show. I have cruised many times and the Cruise Director "directs" his team to cover events and the performers perform and the actors act... This guy was actually lip syncing to a series of British tunes in the promenade dressed up in a British flag..awful! There were parades in the promenade that where not conducive to the crowd... clown like characters...performers where out of sync...laughing at themselves when they messed up the choreography...child like shows that did not fit the Alaska experience and the COST of this trip. And if you didn't get a front seat, you pretty much missed it... my advice is to get up high and watch from above.
ICE SKATING show was very nice and worth going to. Get in line early and if you are in a group, expect not to be together for the show. Its based on your Munster station code.
SHORE EXCURSIONS where amazing... Helicopter/Glacier tour; White pass Train Tour; Zip lining ... PORTS of CALL where amazing.. EZ on and off ship to shore experience.
THE EXPLORER OF THE SEAS was not prepared for the ALASKA experience passengers where expecting. This ship was still in Australia mode.... warm summary type of vacation. Rock climbing is only opened on sunny days "non wet" days...Flow Ryder (wave machine) closed most of the time because we're in ALASKA. We did play a very cold and wet game of Dodge Ball..which was fun. We played shuffle board...cold but fun. Jogging/walks in the morning was lovely but FREEZING. Decided to take my walks INDOORS.
GYM was awesome. STEAM room and saunas where nice and clean. SPA was lovely however We booked 3 massages... 2 Swiss and 1 Deep tissue. All three left us all bruised and sore. I ALWAYS book spa massages on all my cruises and never had this happen before.
Cruise in General: Not happy
Disappointed especially with the cost of flying across the country (Florida); staying in Seattle before and after cruise and the cost of the cruise.
Sad to say but I don't think I would recommend RCCL for Alaska.
Our group age range = 21 though 60. (13 people)
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Front elevators are usually easiest to get.. Main elevators are always a WAIT. Arrive early for ICE SKATING Show.. Sleep with your curtains and sliding doors open...lovely. tip you room steward and waiters extra,,,they are the hardest working people on the ship look out for graham Seymour...