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This was our fourth RCI cruise, first on Explorer, and it didn’t disappoint. Embarkation/disembarkation was quick and easy in Sydney. We’d dropped our bags off early and gone for a walk around Circular Quay, then boarded around 11.30, with no queues. Without crowds, we were able to book our MyTime dining and managed queries at Guest Services. There were just over 1700 kids on this cruise, and for the most part they were well behaved and didn’t encounter any issues (aside from the usual hit every floor in the lift). I think the crew were pretty happy it was the last school holiday sailing. Our dinner team were fantastic – same table every night, with all waiters noting our preferences from the second night. Our drinks order was waiting on the table for us when we sat down. Our Assistant Waiter, Nendi, was the most cheerful crew member I’ve encountered, and Nyomen (room attendant) was always happy and did a great job. I always read the reviews and wonder if some people were on the same ship! We received efficient and friendly service wherever we went. Minimal wait times to get in and out of venues/activities and on and off the ship (tender or port). Those complaining about queue times weren’t willing to adjust around peak times or be flexible (such as sharing tables for breakfast and lunch). Despite being at capacity, everything flowed well. Dinner in the MDR takes about 90 minutes – if you want a faster meal, go to Windjammer. Otherwise relax and enjoy the courses. The evenings we wanted to get to a show early, we let the waiters know, and they got us in and out quicker. All our MDR meals were fresh and hot (lunch and dinner). A la carte breakfast was a bit hit and miss (service and meal), but still good. It would be good if RCI would actually enforce the MDR dress standards and redirect those under-dressed to Windjammer. Several of the shows were repeats of ones we’d seen on Voyager, but we went anyway and still enjoyed them. Again, they’re catering to a wide range of tastes, you’re not going to love everything, but the experience is still worth it. Definitely go to the ice show – amazing! If you’re interested in how the ship is managed, go to the Captain’s Corner – a Q&A with the Captain, Chief Engineer, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director. Remember to convert the cost of items from USD and work out if it’s good value. I’ve always asked for my bank to do the currency conversion, rather than RCI, as it’s worked out better for us. I don’t drink, my husband has 2 beers in the evening, so the drinks package isn’t worth it for us. We got the boys soft drink packages, but it’s only worth it on the sea days. I’ll pay as I go next time. Yes, they do try to sell extras and upsell – but you can simply say no thanks. If you’re planning on snorkelling in a couple of ports, definitely bring your own gear. We’ll certainly continue to sail with Royal. Remember – be flexible, be happy, be kind to the staff and enjoy… you’re on holiday!

Wonderful family holiday

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by micma

19 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our fourth RCI cruise, first on Explorer, and it didn’t disappoint. Embarkation/disembarkation was quick and easy in Sydney. We’d dropped our bags off early and gone for a walk around Circular Quay, then boarded around 11.30, with no queues. Without crowds, we were able to book our MyTime dining and managed queries at Guest Services.

There were just over 1700 kids on this cruise, and for the most part they were well behaved and didn’t encounter any issues (aside from the usual hit every floor in the lift). I think the crew were pretty happy it was the last school holiday sailing.

Our dinner team were fantastic – same table every night, with all waiters noting our preferences from the second night. Our drinks order was waiting on the table for us when we sat down. Our Assistant Waiter, Nendi, was the most cheerful crew member I’ve encountered, and Nyomen (room attendant) was always happy and did a great job.

I always read the reviews and wonder if some people were on the same ship! We received efficient and friendly service wherever we went. Minimal wait times to get in and out of venues/activities and on and off the ship (tender or port). Those complaining about queue times weren’t willing to adjust around peak times or be flexible (such as sharing tables for breakfast and lunch). Despite being at capacity, everything flowed well. Dinner in the MDR takes about 90 minutes – if you want a faster meal, go to Windjammer. Otherwise relax and enjoy the courses. The evenings we wanted to get to a show early, we let the waiters know, and they got us in and out quicker. All our MDR meals were fresh and hot (lunch and dinner). A la carte breakfast was a bit hit and miss (service and meal), but still good. It would be good if RCI would actually enforce the MDR dress standards and redirect those under-dressed to Windjammer.

Several of the shows were repeats of ones we’d seen on Voyager, but we went anyway and still enjoyed them. Again, they’re catering to a wide range of tastes, you’re not going to love everything, but the experience is still worth it. Definitely go to the ice show – amazing! If you’re interested in how the ship is managed, go to the Captain’s Corner – a Q&A with the Captain, Chief Engineer, Hotel Manager and Cruise Director.

Remember to convert the cost of items from USD and work out if it’s good value. I’ve always asked for my bank to do the currency conversion, rather than RCI, as it’s worked out better for us. I don’t drink, my husband has 2 beers in the evening, so the drinks package isn’t worth it for us. We got the boys soft drink packages, but it’s only worth it on the sea days. I’ll pay as I go next time. Yes, they do try to sell extras and upsell – but you can simply say no thanks.

If you’re planning on snorkelling in a couple of ports, definitely bring your own gear.

We’ll certainly continue to sail with Royal. Remember – be flexible, be happy, be kind to the staff and enjoy… you’re on holiday!
micma’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Cabin 1852
We travelled as a family of four (2 teenage boys) in one Panoramic Room (Deck 12) – right at the front above the bridge, with an amazing view out floor to ceiling windows.
Room was ready earlier than the advised 1.30pm, and our room attendant Nyomen was wonderful. Our room had plenty of storage, drawers and hanging space for the four of us. We had our beds together and the boys had a pull out couch converted to a bed. (This is the last time we'll do this, as they're now too big!!)
This room gets the full range of motion from the swell. We were very lucky that we didn't have seas over 4 metres (which was still a lot of movement). If you get sea-sick, stick to midship and lower decks to counter the swell.
  Explorer of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    We caught the shuttle into town in the morning, and did the Excitor trip to Bounty Island for snorkelling in the afternoon. The shuttle into town is $8 USD per person, unless you’ve booked on to another shore excursion, then it’s free. There are markets and shops in town – we just walked around and went through the fruit and vege markets.
    Bounty Island was beautiful, and the snorkelling tour was the highlight of our trip. I was really worried when I saw the Excitor (which looks like a fast jet boat, and I’m a sook), but the trip was smooth and straight! After the snorkelling tour, there was time to do your own thing and relax on the beach (or go for another snorkel!) Visibility was great and conditions were mild, making it good for young kids.
    View All 7 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Mare
    Tenders and shuttle to the beach (USD $15 per person) ran efficiently. Snorkelling conditions were good while we were there, with good visibility, reef and fish. Definitely take your own gear, if you’re planning on snorkelling in more than one port. You can take towels from the pool deck ashore. If you want your passport stamped, take it with you ($1 per person).
    View All 88 Mare Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Mystery Island
    I loved Mystery Island. Beautiful beach and vegetation. Tenders worked really efficiently. Took photos of the boys in the Cannibal pot. I’d really looked forward to snorkelling here, as others have said it’s fantastic – unfortunately conditions weren’t great, poor visibility, waves and a really strong current. After 15 minutes, we got out, walked almost to the end of the island and caught the current back to our gear on the beach (this might not be great for young kids, as the current was strong). We then tried the other side of the island, which wasn’t much better. Had we assessed the conditions beforehand, we would have taken a snorkelling tour off a boat.
    View All 224 Mystery Island Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Noumea
    We did our own thing and walked around town. Went to the markets (10-15 minute walk from the visitor centre) and did a bit of shopping. There’s free wifi in various locations around town. On reflection, we should have done a tour for this stop. Upstairs at the visitors centre there’s another opportunity to stamp your passport (different stamp to Mare).
    View All 365 Noumea Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Suva
    We did our own thing. Got off the boat and started walking. The locals will attach themselves to you and guide you to their shop in town. We’d hoped for free wifi, but couldn’t find any. We bought cheap data SIMS from Digicel and all was good! I loved the fresh fruit and vege market – the colours and smells were amazing, and the locals so friendly. Suva has big supermarkets, and you can stock up on personal items. If you’re after postcard Fijian beaches, take a tour (they’re about an hour out of town).
    View All 103 Suva Cruise Port Reviews
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