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Have cruised before but this was the first with RCI. Boarding was relatively quick, which was a blessing given the rainy weather and the number of people boarding. We flew in to Sydney that morning and were able to drop off the bags about 8-30am and then came back about 10am. After filling in forms and going inside, we sat and waited in rows until the ship was ready for us to board. They had adequate numbers of immigration officials and the process was smooth and orderly and the most organised I have experienced. We were on board just before 11am. Cabins - We had a twin inside room which we found to be spacious enough for two, but would be a little cramped as a quad room. The bathroom is small but the towels are nice and plush, replaced daily, and there is a flannel. There is only liquid soap in the shower cubicle and no shampoo /conditioners, tooth brushes or body lotions provided. The bed was comfortable enough. Was good to be able to check location, accounts, what is happening on the TV. We booked one tour through the telly which did not work, but other than that, no issues. Towel animals not provided daily but some of the ones we got were the best I have seen. Food - we ate breakfast and most lunches in the Windjammer. There was certainly a good variety of food available at most sittings, but the quality varied. As a vegetarian, I was pleased to always be able to find something to eat at both meals. They also have a gluten free section. In general could not complain about the food for a buffet style restaurant. The staff were friendly, helpful and did a great job given how busy the place is and generally you never had to wait long to have the tables cleared. We had dinner at a set time each night ( My time dining ) in the Sapphire Dining Room. Our waiters, Steven and Kalpesh, were wonderful - friendly, good attention to detail, good knowledge of the food and able to have things adapted to suit my food needs. Could not fault them. Our drinks man, Shashi, was just as lovely, always smiling and happy and my drink arrived as soon as I sat down on most nights ( depending on how busy the restaurant was ). The food was generally of a high quality, always arrived hot ( or cold as described ) and thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. We ate twice at Johnny Rockets, which provides unlimited amount of food for $6.95US. The first vegetarian burger was delicious but the second visit, they had run out of the burgers so had a vegetable burger which was not quite as good. The sundaes were lovely and the whole dining experience fun, including dancing waiters during service. We did not dine at any of the speciality restaurants as they seemed rather expensive. Entertainment - we went to every evening show and the ice show. Don't miss the ice show - you get allocated a show based on your assembly station number on your room card although anyone else can enter the last 5 minutes if there is any space. We went twice, with standing room only on the second show. Loved it both times. Night time entertainment with two show times each night - we had a good variety from guest singers, impressionists, comedians, a hypnotist and 3 shows from the ships singers and dancers. Some brilliant and we went to both shows, and others just okay. The ship orchestra was amazing. Some good singers and bands around the ship although some advertised in the cruise compass not always on as advertised. Generally quite happy with the quality and variety of music and entertainment on offer. Activities - there are only 5 cruise staff on board ( along with Cruise director and assistant ) who do the games, quizzes, bingo, dancing, trivia and some other activities and a sports team that run most of the outdoor sporting activities such as the rock wall and flow rider. Generally the cruise staff were good, with one stand out being Lisa ( from the UK ) who was hilarious and full of fun and character. We enjoyed everything she hosted. The dance parties were hit and miss with the staff not showing up until late some times. There was daily line dancing, which was really popular but it could be extremely hot on the sports court which offered minimal sun protection and the dances were generally the same few repeated over and over. The quizzes ( about 4 a day ) were popular although some venues way too small for the number of people who attended. There is a library with a variety of games ( be quick if you want the 1 scrabble game). We did not try the sports activities but the Flow rider was very popular and the staff generally very good. Activities were open for good periods of time ( some days the flow rider was going all day ) and there was enough to entertain people if they wanted to be active. Two pools and one in the adults only section, and several spas available. The ship itself is lovely although some parts showing signs of wear and tear but nothing significant. Could not complain about the staff, who work very hard under some trying conditions, and we had all issues resolved in a timely fashion. There is queuing for some things, but that's a part of life and to be expected when on board with 3000 other people. Overall, a very positive experience on the ship and thoroughly enjoyed it and will sail again with RCI.

Enjoyable experience on first RCI cruise

Explorer of the Seas Cruise Review by Deb1971

16 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Have cruised before but this was the first with RCI.

Boarding was relatively quick, which was a blessing given the rainy weather and the number of people boarding. We flew in to Sydney that morning and were able to drop off the bags about 8-30am and then came back about 10am. After filling in forms and going inside, we sat and waited in rows until the ship was ready for us to board. They had adequate numbers of immigration officials and the process was smooth and orderly and the most organised I have experienced. We were on board just before 11am.

Cabins - We had a twin inside room which we found to be spacious enough for two, but would be a little cramped as a quad room. The bathroom is small but the towels are nice and plush, replaced daily, and there is a flannel. There is only liquid soap in the shower cubicle and no shampoo /conditioners, tooth brushes or body lotions provided. The bed was comfortable enough. Was good to be able to check location, accounts, what is happening on the TV. We booked one tour through the telly which did not work, but other than that, no issues. Towel animals not provided daily but some of the ones we got were the best I have seen.

Food - we ate breakfast and most lunches in the Windjammer. There was certainly a good variety of food available at most sittings, but the quality varied. As a vegetarian, I was pleased to always be able to find something to eat at both meals. They also have a gluten free section. In general could not complain about the food for a buffet style restaurant. The staff were friendly, helpful and did a great job given how busy the place is and generally you never had to wait long to have the tables cleared.

We had dinner at a set time each night ( My time dining ) in the Sapphire Dining Room. Our waiters, Steven and Kalpesh, were wonderful - friendly, good attention to detail, good knowledge of the food and able to have things adapted to suit my food needs. Could not fault them. Our drinks man, Shashi, was just as lovely, always smiling and happy and my drink arrived as soon as I sat down on most nights ( depending on how busy the restaurant was ). The food was generally of a high quality, always arrived hot ( or cold as described ) and thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience.

We ate twice at Johnny Rockets, which provides unlimited amount of food for $6.95US. The first vegetarian burger was delicious but the second visit, they had run out of the burgers so had a vegetable burger which was not quite as good. The sundaes were lovely and the whole dining experience fun, including dancing waiters during service. We did not dine at any of the speciality restaurants as they seemed rather expensive.

Entertainment - we went to every evening show and the ice show. Don't miss the ice show - you get allocated a show based on your assembly station number on your room card although anyone else can enter the last 5 minutes if there is any space. We went twice, with standing room only on the second show. Loved it both times. Night time entertainment with two show times each night - we had a good variety from guest singers, impressionists, comedians, a hypnotist and 3 shows from the ships singers and dancers. Some brilliant and we went to both shows, and others just okay. The ship orchestra was amazing. Some good singers and bands around the ship although some advertised in the cruise compass not always on as advertised. Generally quite happy with the quality and variety of music and entertainment on offer.

Activities - there are only 5 cruise staff on board ( along with Cruise director and assistant ) who do the games, quizzes, bingo, dancing, trivia and some other activities and a sports team that run most of the outdoor sporting activities such as the rock wall and flow rider. Generally the cruise staff were good, with one stand out being Lisa ( from the UK ) who was hilarious and full of fun and character. We enjoyed everything she hosted. The dance parties were hit and miss with the staff not showing up until late some times. There was daily line dancing, which was really popular but it could be extremely hot on the sports court which offered minimal sun protection and the dances were generally the same few repeated over and over. The quizzes ( about 4 a day ) were popular although some venues way too small for the number of people who attended. There is a library with a variety of games ( be quick if you want the 1 scrabble game). We did not try the sports activities but the Flow rider was very popular and the staff generally very good. Activities were open for good periods of time ( some days the flow rider was going all day ) and there was enough to entertain people if they wanted to be active. Two pools and one in the adults only section, and several spas available.

The ship itself is lovely although some parts showing signs of wear and tear but nothing significant. Could not complain about the staff, who work very hard under some trying conditions, and we had all issues resolved in a timely fashion. There is queuing for some things, but that's a part of life and to be expected when on board with 3000 other people. Overall, a very positive experience on the ship and thoroughly enjoyed it and will sail again with RCI.
Deb1971’s Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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