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Cruise Ratings
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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our very first cruise so had nothing to compare it with. Overall the ship was beautiful, our cabins were great. The food got to be very boring on the second leg as the variety never changed in the Windjammer. The dining room food ... Read More
This was our very first cruise so had nothing to compare it with. Overall the ship was beautiful, our cabins were great. The food got to be very boring on the second leg as the variety never changed in the Windjammer. The dining room food was very good at night and we couldn’t complain about the service. Entertainment was hit and miss and we waited so long for the big productions to come on. The Silk Road didn’t appear till near the end of the second cruise. They had 3 different boy acts which were fabulous. We mainly went to the Two70 bar which was a lot quieter and we had one bar staff who knew our names and what we had. Couldn’t afford anything in the high end shops and like $US 9 for a bar of chocolate REALLY. Room for improvement in many areas. We tried all the bars and were very annoyed that no nibbles were available and they ran out of Lavender syrup. Drinks were also pricey. The coffee shops were very good would have liked to see some pastries on offer. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and meeting some interesting people. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Ovation is a spectacular ship with friendly accommodating crew who work extremely hard and diligently, except for one crew member who managed to spoil our cruise experience for us to the extent that we are now canceling 3 more booked ... Read More
Ovation is a spectacular ship with friendly accommodating crew who work extremely hard and diligently, except for one crew member who managed to spoil our cruise experience for us to the extent that we are now canceling 3 more booked cruises aboard the same ship even though it means we will lose a $1200 non refundable deposit. We are so upset by our experience that we have chosen to lose our money rather than cruise with Royal Caribbean again! The specialty dining at Wonderland and Jamies is a true delight but Chops Grille is now trading on their reputation from years ago, as for the dining room....I've had better food in a hospital. Entertainment was creative and visually pleasing on all levels, but did find queuing for shows hours ahead of time a tiring experience. Our cabin was well appointed and spacious, more storage than you could dream of, tea was provided but no coffee. Getting on and off was easy and efficient. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Hmmn. The good - Great service by the crew who work hard to keep us all happy. Good food overall in the main restaruant, though I think Carnival do a far better job at the bistro. Chops Grill was fantastic at breakfast. No passnegrs ... Read More
Hmmn. The good - Great service by the crew who work hard to keep us all happy. Good food overall in the main restaruant, though I think Carnival do a far better job at the bistro. Chops Grill was fantastic at breakfast. No passnegrs were to be seen at Johnny Rockets. Those who went reported back on bad food. The pools were great.. This is one thing RC have all over Carnival. The pools are bigger, cleaner and the life guards ensure the kids are behaving well at all times. The not so good - The ship is looking increasingly old and tired. Quite a few rust spots on her. The cabins are worse than a 2 star hotel. The crew works hard to keep her clean, mind you. The lifts were particuarly slow and not well programmed. The evening shows were better than expected. The ice rink shows were fantastic. While the crew works hard to reinforce the message of "wash your hands," for some, the message will never get through. Time and time again we saw quite a few other passengers disregard good hygene standards, particuarly at the bistro. e.g picking up food with their bare hands instead of using the tongs. Sure enough, there was an outbreak of cold and flu on the cruise. The whole process of disembarking for shore excersions was average at best. At The first port) Penang, it took over an hour to get us off the ship once the ship was cleared. That had a negative flow on affect for the shore excersion which was cut short. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was part of a 3 leg repositioning cruise from Australia to Europe ... with hardly any stops on the 13 day leg from Dubai, we transited the Suez Canal without proper narration as to what we are seeing starting at 4 am. The only ... Read More
This was part of a 3 leg repositioning cruise from Australia to Europe ... with hardly any stops on the 13 day leg from Dubai, we transited the Suez Canal without proper narration as to what we are seeing starting at 4 am. The only other port calls were Athens and Valletta... both stops if you haven't been before were guessing games as the cruise line did not give port information for those wanting to explore on their own.. it's all geared to those taking shore excursions This cruise had a lot of sick people on board .. it was difficult not to catch whatever was going around. The captain withheld much information about what was going on on the ship and of course sugar coated what little information he gave... of course with 3,000 people you don't want to cause alarm but intelligent people are not sheep.. Although the Explorer OTS is my favorite class of ship in the RCI fleet, the ship is very tired.. obviously in need of maintenance and refurbishment..it will be limping into the shipyard.. Our last cabin was a disgrace.. so many items broken or not working.. (our reward for Royaling Up) .. Dining room service for breakfast and lunch..? How about waiting for 40 minutes for a menu item that they don't have... grapefruit! Lunches were only good on sea days when you could help yourself to the salad bar buffet style... I don't understand if the wait staff is short handed or something else.. The entertainment is never the best on repositioning cruises but this was probably the worst.. Some of the dancers were sent home at selected ports as they also got sick..The ventriloquist stayed healthy but...! The ice show is always good, but at one point the lead female ice dancer got sick and was also sent home.. The ports from Australia to Dubai were selected for the convenience of RCI .. not enough hours in any port except Darwin and Dubai where the ship stayed overnight.. The inconvenience of having to pack up everything and move to another cabin defeated the purpose of unpacking once and enjoying a relaxing cruise ... totally for the convenience of the cruise line ...this cruise, not even offering to move your closet of hanging clothes for you to lessen the blow.. imagine being sick and having to pack your bags and move to another cabin ... Would i take this particular cruise again...? probably not! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We liked the ports of call and finish in Rome. The food was not great. Windjammer had very small selection for lunch but dining room at lunch was the best better than dining room at night.Theater entertainment was great very good ... Read More
We liked the ports of call and finish in Rome. The food was not great. Windjammer had very small selection for lunch but dining room at lunch was the best better than dining room at night.Theater entertainment was great very good choices specialty the classic series and Forever group.Embarkation was slow and disorganized same at ports .One thing they did not pay much attention to washing hands at the venues sometimes machines was empty. Dining room waiter and assisted we had were excellent in general everyplace waiters were absolutely helpful. and good. We're nice set up for Crown Royalty members. We never met all the officer just few and on Capitan reception only cruise director and hotel manager excursion stuff. In many areas different than our other cruises on Royal. Food was good some days others not fish was or overcooked or not cooked enough. Desserts small choices specially at dinner time. Always pushing sales but merchandise is same all the time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Great ship, Andrea, the cruise director is a gem. Afternoon concerts across the pond were great. Food ok but very boring; it is unfortunate that Adrea’s Enthusiasm does not rub off on balance of crew. Luggage handling, and shore ... Read More
Great ship, Andrea, the cruise director is a gem. Afternoon concerts across the pond were great. Food ok but very boring; it is unfortunate that Adrea’s Enthusiasm does not rub off on balance of crew. Luggage handling, and shore excursion desk beyond poor. Expansion of diamond lounge was a great move. Luggage confiscated without notification or cause. Incorrect and conflicting information on shore excursions. No one at desk would double check with vendor for correct information. I completed a cruise questioner on day 6, all above comments mentioned and ignored. Sometimes simple things can be best: egg drop, master chef contest, free speciality coffee, all great ideas. By what appeared to be a concerned crew, but lack of follow up in many other areas disappointing. Made my time dining reservations six months out, but had to change time due to another person. Entertainment was the cruise highlight, as was my mate Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to visit Cuba. The Good - Our best experience was table 512 in the main dining room! Marvin and Louie, awesome people! Dinner we had the best service, great guys with a sense of humor, friendly and professional! The shows ... Read More
We wanted to visit Cuba. The Good - Our best experience was table 512 in the main dining room! Marvin and Louie, awesome people! Dinner we had the best service, great guys with a sense of humor, friendly and professional! The shows were fantastic and there was plenty to do on the at seas days! The food was nice, kudos to the chef as things were no overly salted or sweet! The Bad - No Jacuzzi was available the entire trip and the pool was not available until after two days . We decided to do an inside cabin this time and the cabin was much smaller than the pictures show you on the Royal Caribbean website . In addition the beds were put together and there was no walking space. The only way to get to the restroom was to jump over the bed and out through the front of the bed . The bathroom was much smaller than I remember another crew ships. In addition, multiple days on the more common floors there were foul odors transmitting through the air . I attempted to do the Royal Caribbean survey however I missed the deadline so I thought it would be best to put it here . The Ugly - The ship was in poor condition and definitely showed its age . Also, because we did not book shore excursions with Royal Caribbean we were treated as second best . In areas where there were tenders, we were not allowed to get off the boat until all the royal Caribbean shore excursion people were off first . When you asked a Royal Caribbean employee what can be done since they were time limit on the excursions they said if you didn't book them through us there's nothing we can do . One employee even said, next time get down to the room where they were giving out passes earlier. Which was just a rude comment! I certainly wouldn't consider that customer centric! I did call him out on it and even though there was an apology, it was disheartening to be spoken to like that while on vacation. I'm not sure if it's the ships we picked on royal but I'm doubtful I would choose Royal again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I was disappointed on this cruise. My bag never made it to my room. I had to find it myself - at 5pm. That is unacceptable! The food was good and I like having the same table every night that was a plus. My cabin mate felt the rug was ... Read More
I was disappointed on this cruise. My bag never made it to my room. I had to find it myself - at 5pm. That is unacceptable! The food was good and I like having the same table every night that was a plus. My cabin mate felt the rug was very dirty in our room. In the Windjammer they have the cruisers serve themselves - that is not good because that can spread disease very quickly. That is why I prefer ships that don't allow that- like Holland America. The ports were good on this cruise - Puerto Rico, Saint Maarten and Labadee Haiti - where I ziplined which I really enjoyed. The biggest positive comment I have about this ship was the entertainment - it was AMAZING. Mama Mia was just as good as on Broadway in NYC! Ocean Aria was very different - like a Cirque Show! The comedians were awesome!!! Royal Caribbean's entertainment has improved and I have always love their entertainment but it actually got better! So all in all there were positives and the bags not arriving till 5pm was a definitive negative! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of leaving from Boston and the islands to be visited. The ship is very easy to get around on and the staff is pleasant. Some areas of the ship are in need of repair. In our stateroom ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of leaving from Boston and the islands to be visited. The ship is very easy to get around on and the staff is pleasant. Some areas of the ship are in need of repair. In our stateroom bathroom the mirror seemed to have a buildup of algae around the edges and after a brief rainstorm the floor of our balcony was covered in a muddy debris. The cabinets and table are scratched and worn and the bed not very comfortable. The biggest drawback was an extremely unpleasant odor in the hallway on our deck (8). It could only be described as the foulest of odors that one would find in a poorly maintained nursing home. Travel companions on deck 7 also noted this smell. Though it was not constant it was present daily at different times. Having sailed on Princess and NCL before I was expecting more from Royal Caribbean as I had always believed it was a step up. I was wrong. The entertainment, in my view, was extremely lacking compared to other ships I have been on. There was one Caribbean duo in the centrum who was very good and one night there was a Village People tribute band who were a lot of fun but otherwise none of the piano bar singers or musicians were appealing. The games, karaoke and trivia challenges were not conducted in any kind of organized manner and it was sometimes hard to understand the questions shouted over a microphone (on Princess the trivia challenge questions are usually displayed on a TV screen). I have a hearing deficit and because most of the hosts have some kind of accent I would be lost and would have to have my travel companions repeat the questions to me. I do enjoy the art auctions and did purchase a Peter Max that I love but don't feel that Park West was offering enough of a variety to appeal to a large number of people and that made the attendance rather scarce. As for the food, it was just ok. I was mostly satisfied with everything that I ordered in the dining room but some of my companions were not. Rubbery calamari and fatty beef are not desirable. If you can't make a creme brulee with a hard top then you might as well not make it at all. We did have great servers in Gerald and Hafifi in Reflections deck 5 and that made up for some mediocre food. Food on the buffet in the Windjammer is mostly salty and I stuck with hard boiled eggs, freshly made waffles, pizza or hamburgers and of course soft serve. All of the islands we visited have their own unique appeal. We took a private tour in St, Maarten which brought us to the shopping district where the same items were displayed over and over in booth after booth, and hour and a half stop at Orient beach ($15 for one chair and umbrella and constant harassment from illegal beach vendors). Antigua has the most beautiful beaches imo. We went to Valley Church Beach( the sand is not sand but made up only of crushed shells and te ones that are intact are just beautiful) where you can get a nice 1/2 hour massage for at Pam's Wellness Center (it's just a little hut but it was very inviting and relaxing) If you book online through Tripadvisor.com you can get a couples massage for $60. We didn't book ahead of time so my husband and I were only able to get separate massages but still it was good. In Barbados we went to Harbour Lights Beach at Carlisle Bay. Two chairs and umbrella were $20. Local vendors but not as intrusive as the ones in St. Maarten. Curacao, a tourist's mecca! Walk along the historical path to the moving bridge and into a great sopping district and don't forget to stop at the Renaissance Hotel for free wifi and some casino action. We skipped the beach in Aruba and went into town for more shopping and a little casino play($10 coupons were being given out for both the Crystal and Seaport casinos). All in all it was a relaxing and fun 12 days but in the future I will stick with Princess or NCL which have more to offer. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
A transatlantic cruise on a new ship, a very large one, without a lot of children on board seemed like a good idea. In many ways, it was a fine experience, except for dining. It is unclear to me how meals could be so bad, how service ... Read More
A transatlantic cruise on a new ship, a very large one, without a lot of children on board seemed like a good idea. In many ways, it was a fine experience, except for dining. It is unclear to me how meals could be so bad, how service could be so sloppy to non existent to unconnected. There were lots of pluses on the ship. Entertainment was top notch, including a great production of the musical Hairspray. Public spaces and cabins are well fitted and mostly comfortable. Housekeeping and cleanliness were highlights of the ship. And there were lots of deck chairs and lounge chairs available on sunny days. The solarium, at the front of the ship, on decks 14 and 15 is a great space, but it turns into a heat trap on hot sunny days. There are lots of spapools spread around and they were always clean, despite being well used. But, beware the inconsistent food service. So many examples, I am not sure where to begin. There was a lunch at the Park Cafe where we ordered two sandwiches, which were delivered to the table on one plate. We asked for a second plate, but were told they were running out of plates. Another day they ran out of forks. In the Solarium cafe, one could order an omelette, made to order, but we were told they did not provide fresh toast of bagel to go with it. And the tables in this space were jammed so close to each other that you could not get out of your chair without bumping into other guests. Then there was the main dining room. It was consistently inconsistent in service, but the food was consistently mediocre to bad. I complained to guest services, Diamon Club concierge and dining room managers, the cruise director and many other staff. The reply was always the same, You must remember Symphony is a very large ship. Duh, Royal built it and has been operating it since April. They should know how to run a big ship. Strange thing is, they know how to service the cabins, they know how to keep the ship immaculely clean, and they know how to move crowds of people around the ship. Despite the poor dining experiences, we had a good time on this transatlantic voyage. But I doubt I would ever travel on a mega ship again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We sail frequently mostly on Celebrity, are Elite+, and wanted a big ship with lots to do for our transatlantic crossing. Symphony of the Seas was amazing with lots of venues and activities. Btw/ We loved the newly designed cabin ... Read More
We sail frequently mostly on Celebrity, are Elite+, and wanted a big ship with lots to do for our transatlantic crossing. Symphony of the Seas was amazing with lots of venues and activities. Btw/ We loved the newly designed cabin layout, colour palatte and spacious showe. The crew below Officers/Managers were friendly, engaging and often exceeded our expectations. Wonderful to experience this great service and teamwork on such a big ship. Food quality was generally poor in the free venues. Speciality food and service was EXCELLENT but came with extra costs. Not many deals once on-board so pre-purchasing before departure is recommended. Other than Captain Rob, the Officers/Managers were not very present or engaging throughout the cruise. Loved Captain Rob. At our stop in Port Canaveral the ship’s Officers/Managers made a mistake by not completely exiting excursion passengers ahead of general departures like normal and promised but didn’t take ownership for their mistake and instead blamed the usual immigration processing delays that often plague sailings returning to America, particularly transatlantic crossings. Oddly, neither the ship nor port personelle made any effort to remedy their mistake as it unfolded. Everyone that day had reason to be upset by the immigration delays but excursion passengers were particularly hard hit. We then hit another round of delays getting off at our final stop in Miami as the transportation facilities and process was a disaster. Organization by Royal on the ground was non-existent and the brand new terminal seemed poorly designed to handle busses efficiently and queue taxis and Uber’s. A terrible final 2 days getting off the ship. Thankfully the 10 days prior were great once we started paying for quality food. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the timing. We were in Europe for 6 weeks and wanted to cruise back home at this time. This was the second cruise we took on RCCL. We thought it was just ok the first time. We find other cruise lines ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the timing. We were in Europe for 6 weeks and wanted to cruise back home at this time. This was the second cruise we took on RCCL. We thought it was just ok the first time. We find other cruise lines better. We were not impressed with RCCL at all with this cruise. The ship needs a lot of work. Most of the furniture is old, chipped and needs to be replaced. And get rid of those hideous artificial plants! The food is mediocre at best. The dinner service was excellent though. The breakfast service in the dining room was so bad that most days we didn’t eat there. We had to wait a long time for a table even though there were empty tables and it took a long time to get our food. The whole breakfast service was very chaotic and disorganized. The only thing good about eating breakfast in the dining room was Hans. He is a delight! The cruise director, Steve was very good and worked hard, as was his staff. Orlando was very personable and funny. He would make an excellent cruise director. We also enjoyed Talita very much. She is funny but at times difficult to understand. We enjoyed laying out by the pool most sea days, but found the music annoying. They should take into consideration that the average age of their cruisers is 60+. We don’t enjoy techno, teenie bopper music. Same with the movies the showed on the outdoor screen. They were mostly kids’ movies and no one was watching them but you couldn’t get away from the sound. The evening shows were a mix, some very good and others not so much. We really enjoyed the Beatles show, the pianist, the ship’s orchestra, David Nestor, and James Stephens. We didn’t really care for the 2 production numbers, they seemed to drag. Also didn’t like Neal Austin. He should be doing children’s parties. We also enjoyed the enrichment forensics talks very much. They were very interesting. The shows in the Centrum were good and enjoyable, but too crowded and hard to see. Late comers squeeze in in front of those in seats so people that were there and seated coulddn’t see. The ship seemed clean, and the cabins were also clean. The room attendants worked very hard. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Ports of Call! Started in Quebec City and docked in Nova Scotia, Halifax, Portland, Boston and then to Florida. Our Cabin was situated near the elevator which was nice. The elevators however were horrendous. They were doing maintenance ... Read More
Ports of Call! Started in Quebec City and docked in Nova Scotia, Halifax, Portland, Boston and then to Florida. Our Cabin was situated near the elevator which was nice. The elevators however were horrendous. They were doing maintenance on 2 elevators which made it difficult but what made it frustrating was that the other elevators would bypass our floor with one or two people on them. This was a major gripe of just about all passengers. The staff was terrific. We had only one or two exceptions to that review. The Chops Grille was just okay. Giovanni's and Izumi were both fabulous. Exiting the ship at the ports of call could have gone better. In some instances we waited on long lines to get off. The shows were pretty amazing. RC dancers and ice shows were great. The Tenors of Las Vegas did a great job as did the pick pocket. Giovanni, the pianist was awesome...great entertainer...lots of fun. We took a tour to Peggy Cove and also to Kennebunkport. Both were fabulous. Very informative and picturesque. However, the daily activities were just so-so. Very repetitive. Coffee bar on 5 was good and had a nice variety of food. We chose anytime dining. It was mostly good. The Windjammer was okay. Desserts were the same for the most part and were just okay. The sweets in the Windjammer were the same every day. There were a few good things but probably not worth the calories. The one very positive thing was the staff. Most were eager to please and could not be more helpful. This was our first RC cruise. We will probably stick with Celebrity or chose another line in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Joe and I love cruising. We have always been 'Loyal to Royal' and are Diamond Plus--not that it matters, except it is relevant to our experiences on this cruise. It started out well--the air connections the cruise line ... Read More
Joe and I love cruising. We have always been 'Loyal to Royal' and are Diamond Plus--not that it matters, except it is relevant to our experiences on this cruise. It started out well--the air connections the cruise line arranged worked out well, though they were time-comsuming. We got to the airport in Quebec City tired after 17 hours of traveling. We had asked RCI for an airport to hotel transport (their choice hotel) and were told none were available (18 months before the cruise.) When we got to the airport, there were Royal Caribbean representatives collecting people for transport to the hotel. They would not include us since we had no reservation with them. So we hit the taxi stand. We told the dispatcher there that we wanted to go to the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. He quoted us the price for going to downtown Quebec City. Since we knew no better, we said okay and he called a cab. The driver again asked us where we were going and we told him the Marriott Courtyard. He said 'Which One?', and we were stymied. We thought there was only one, and had no address for it. He claimed there were two and took us to the one downtown. Well, the one downtown was NOT a Courtyard, and was twice the fare it would have cost to get to the 'Courtyard'. So we had to call another cab and pay another fare. Grrrrrr. Checkin the next day was less than perfect--no priority boarding, long lines, and at least one less than friendly cattle herder. However, room was good, dining and wait staff were good, and room attendant was good. Now we get to the really rude awakening: Happy Hour-4:30pm-8pm. This spring we had sailed on the Brilliance on a repositioning cruise from Tampa to Amsterdam. They, like Adventure on this cruise, had a HUGE percentage of Diamond and above cruisers (who but us old geezers and rich whippersnappers have the time for a repositioning cruise?) Unlike Adventure, they had prepared for it. The staff on Brilliance turned their largest 'ballroom' area into a diamond lounge, with a different theme and entertainment every night. We were happy, and the non-diamond passengers were happy because the other bars weren't packed with us monopolizing them for drinks off our allotted 3 a night. Everyone had a relaxing, pleasant voyage. In contrast, on Adventure the 43-seat diamond lounge was FULL from breakfast through 8 pm. The Viking Crown was almost as bad. If you weren't in a seat there by 2:30 pm, you could forget Happy Hour. For us, it isn't just about drinks. This is our socializing time. We enjoy talking to other couples. The ones we meet at Happy Hour have experiences similar to ours. It is easy to start a conversation and one thing leads to another--we have had some really good times in the Diamond Lounge on other cruises, including on Adventure. Sometimes the free drinks we get are Cokes--we're too old for sustained booze. Unlike Brilliance, this time the experience on Adventure was more like Mayhem. It was packed. If you got there at 2:30 so you actually had a seat, it was hard to carry on a conversation with all the people standing around your chair waiting for you to vacate it. The crew appeared powerless to change anything. Their 'fix' for 13 nights of mayhem was a final night show and buffet--both of which were so crowded you couldn't see the show or get to the buffet. Adventure and RCI, you need to do better--MUCH better! Now for the good stuff! The absolute best part of the cruise was the carriage ride in Acadia National Park. After a whole lot of rain and cold, we lucked out and got sunshine and mild temps for our excursion. The draft horses that pulled our 8-passenger wagon were Moses and Molly. It was an hour of absolutely gorgeous fall colors, trees, a driver who carried on a leisurely and intelligent commentary--more like a conversation--with us, stops to watch deer, and just a wonderful time enjoying the world we're blessed with. It was one of those experiences I'll have a hard time ever repeating. Take a look at the picture I'm attaching and you'll get some idea of what I mean. The other really good excursion was to the Anne of Green Gables House. If you've read any of Maude Montgomery's books, you'll really enjoy this one. If you haven't--at least take the walking trails. They are really worth doing. When we were there, it was a slow, dripping rain. We went through the house first. Best thing there was seeing the cupboard where 'the raspberry cordial' was kept. You have to read the book to appreciate it. After heading outside, we took the 'Lover's Leap' path. It was beautiful, and brought back memories of Montgomery's descriptions of where the children played. There were trees, a brook, a bridge across it, and steps leading upward. Definitely a fun adventure. Well, by this time we were soaked, our time to meet the bus was near, and although I wanted to do the other path, I had to go. Hope there's a next time! I'll try to add the picture I took on the path to my uploads. Adventure is a good ship. She has some really good folks in her crew. This was our fourth cruise on her and we enjoyed them all. Captain Szynkarczuk appeared to be very professional, and concerned only with the operation and command of his vessel--a very good thing, considering we had some stormy weather on the cruise, an unscheduled return to port for medical reasons, and some ticklish navigational situations. My impression is that he is a bit uncomfortable around passengers. He could stand to unbend just a bit. We're really not a bad lot. If you haven't taken this cruise, do it. I'm sure RCI will fix the Diamond Lounge problem, and all the Canadian and New England ports are well worth it. I just may go again myself. I want to walk that other path on PEI and take the longer carriage ride at Acadia. See you onboard! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Just got back from 16 days on the Brilliance. Our stateroom was so tired. Furniture was scuffed, needed replacing or refurbished. The bathroom had an odor we couldn't identify, sort of like mold. The main dining room needs more ... Read More
Just got back from 16 days on the Brilliance. Our stateroom was so tired. Furniture was scuffed, needed replacing or refurbished. The bathroom had an odor we couldn't identify, sort of like mold. The main dining room needs more variety. Food was mediocre. Some of the entertainment was good, other so-so. I had a good time, but I began to feel like I was in steerage, no amenities in the stateroom. No lotion in the bathroom, no pen and paper in the desk. But what I did like was the amount of storage. Large closet with shelves for shoes, etc. Vanity had six nice sized drawers. The bathroom had one mirror that opened so one could see the back of their hair. The mirrors over the vanity opened up for storage. The stewards, waiters, all the folks serving our needs were excellent and wanted to please. Ports were excellent. The captain plotted course to avoid hurricane Florence entirely. The overall feeling was that Royal Caribbean is cutting expenses to the bone. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was our 37th cruise and 10th on RCCL. By far, the ship was the biggest disappointment we have ever had and not up to the standards we have come to expect from RCCL. Voyager of the Seas is heading for drydock next year but by the ... Read More
This was our 37th cruise and 10th on RCCL. By far, the ship was the biggest disappointment we have ever had and not up to the standards we have come to expect from RCCL. Voyager of the Seas is heading for drydock next year but by the looks of her, she should have been there last year. * The hull is a patchwork of rust and paint. Usually, they paint them so much that it always looks beautiful. * The carpet in the hallways is dirty and has numerous holes where luggage is left. * The public restroom floor baseboards were gross. There are not enough restrooms in public areas which results in long lines after events. The entertainment was lacking. The productions shows are always wonderful and the Broadway in the Movies was especially great, with numerous costume changes throughout. And the skating shows are always amazing considering the small ice surface and the movement of the ship. Other than that, the theater shows were lacking. One juggler (?) just thought it amusing to continually drop things. The comedian was not funny and the singer from the Philippines was fine but not very entertaining. Many people walked out of all of these shows before the end. We traveled from Hong Kong to Singapore. It was disappointing not to have any speakers to help us learn about that fascinating part of the world during our sea days. Our cabin had no coffee table so the only place to eat was on the balcony. Unfortunately, it was so hot we had to rush to eat and then run back in. Then where are we to leave our room service tray?!? I'm not sure where anyone could eat in an inside cabin. The dining room staff is obviously overwhelmed. We asked for a table of 2 but were assigned a table of 9. The tables are so squished together that the staff has trouble serving. One couple was consistently 15-20 minutes late and then the staff would slow our service for them to catch up! And the food was just plain boring and awful. For example, the JUMBO fried shrimp was 4 very small pieces with rice. They could be swallowed in one bite...that is not JUMBO! The Windjammer was JAMMED! There's lots of food stations which is great and it's huge but we struggled every time to find a place to sit. Overall, I would describe this cruise as very disappointing. We were in a wonderful part of the world and we would have appreciated enrichment and entertainment that reflected Southeast Asia and enhanced our trip. We know RCCL can do much better! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This cruise was so unappealing in so many ways. To start this experience the line to check in at the Miami Port took over 35 minutes. There were not enough agents to fulfil all the people at check in. The staterooms are tiny, with 139 ... Read More
This cruise was so unappealing in so many ways. To start this experience the line to check in at the Miami Port took over 35 minutes. There were not enough agents to fulfil all the people at check in. The staterooms are tiny, with 139 sq. ft. The bathroom as miniscule with a small shower. The beds, two twins to make a large bed was so uncomfortable, as were the pillows. Both made my bones ache. The food in the main dinning room was bland and had no real taste. The specialty dinning room was better, although the menu is fixed and doesn't change, so that got old after two consecutive nights there. The day at sea makes this small ship very crowded, noisy and annoying and claustrophobic. The pool area with it's spa sized (small) pool was very crowded on the day at sea. The Windjammer café on the pool level could be very crowded as well. They had a good variety of foods. Some okay, other not so much. But you could always find something there to eat. Elevators slow and crowded. There really are no quiet places aboard, what with loud music constantly blasting. There was even a karaoke set right by guest services which made speaking to a representative very difficult. The casino was small and had no inviting vibe. It was mostly very empty. What was especially annoying was the upsells and hawking of the ships extra's such as the specialty dinning, the spa and the photo gallery. This was constant. The library and the card room were not enclosed and basically in the hallway. Again, very noisy. The only reason we went on this cruise was for the overnight in Havana which made every other annoyance on the ship worth it. It was super easy to get on and off the ship in Havana. No lines and we did this a few times the first day in port. Havana was most interesting. This ship was probably a jewel when it was built in 1989, but 30 years later, it is time to put her to rest. I had been on many RCCL cruises and this ship was by far the worst. I kind of felt bad for the staff that constantly, and I mean always asked if you were having a great time and to give them good reviews when an email was sent to follow up. Upon return to Miami, the debarking of the ship was flawless and took no time at all. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
+I had never been on a cruise before let alone out of the United States of America. I chose this exciting cruise because of a combined decision among family members. The ship is not even the biggest ship offered, yet is still really large! ... Read More
+I had never been on a cruise before let alone out of the United States of America. I chose this exciting cruise because of a combined decision among family members. The ship is not even the biggest ship offered, yet is still really large! The state rooms were very clean and the staff members were lovely. Most of my meals were held at the Marketplace. The food had many options- some the same every day but definitely enough variety for me to enjoy the experience and not feel like I am eating the same thing every day. -There were two fires while I was on this ship. One was at 3am. This consisted of staff members and the captain over the loud speaker at 3 o clock in the morning. The way the staff handled the situation was great, however a fire in the incinerator at 3am is not always the best wake up call. The second fire had to do with the A/C units. I don't know how far the A/C outage occurred, but me and my floor did not have air conditioning for a night & half the next day. The last negative I have is that the bathroom toilet in my state room randomly did not have water flowing in it and would refuse to flush. This is gross and not acceptable for obvious reasons. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Every couple of years we do a longer cruise as our getaway. This year it was the back to back reposition and Greek Isles cruise from May 6 to May 30. The cruise itinerary was fantastic and every stop was a great experience. Thanks Royal. ... Read More
Every couple of years we do a longer cruise as our getaway. This year it was the back to back reposition and Greek Isles cruise from May 6 to May 30. The cruise itinerary was fantastic and every stop was a great experience. Thanks Royal. Just one thing wrong. And it was a surprise. The food was way below par. For the past couple of years I have noticed a deterioration in the quality of the food both in preparation and food quality selection. The service has remained very good. The problem is that the service staff can't correct food quality with no alternatives. Example: On four occasions in the dining room, medium rare meat was delivered medium well. Upon questioning the waiter I was told on every occasion that was the best he could do. Preparation problem. Example: In the Windjammer the food is notoriously tepid to cold in the buffet. After a while you get used to it. But every now and then you just want something hot. so one morning I waited for the service staff to put out fresh eggs from behind the counter. I took the egg right off the outstretched spatula. I went straight to the table. Stone cold! You couldn't eat it. They had stored it without heat! My wife was astonished. As to the quality of food, beyond the preparation problems there is the issue of the quality of food purchased. Tasteless tomatoes were green to light pink even following ports that had terrific local tomatoes. Beef Bourguignon was made with beef that was very chewy. The bacon, which is usually very good was constantly tough. In the Windjammer the lowest grades of meat were used most of the time. Whether in ethnic dishes or grilled recipes it was almost impossible to find a piece of chicken breast. The potatoes and rice were good as were the gravies. But too many dishes were sloppy, stewy, or soupy. The ethnic displays were non existent except for some India dishes, which I like. But not every day. When the buffet is overrun with stewy stuff it begins to feel like a food trough. For two glorious days they served 'home made' burgers that were to die for and then, back to the old prepackaged frozen hockey pucks. Shame, you know what to do and how to do it and you don't! When something was good, and there were a few good dishes, they 'sold' out quickly. On several occasions I asked them if they could get more they responded, "It's coming". So, on two occasions I waited. 10 minutes on one, 15 on the other. Frustrating. In the dining room the menu selection was poor. In 24 days we were offered lobster once, shrimp twice, and no fillet mignon. (tenderloin medallions excepted). The temperature of the food is always an issue but I can deal with that if the food is good. When it was all said and done, the best meal served on our trip was a chicken cordon blue. I never order it, but my wife does. It was so good, I ordered it on the second offering. Finally, a piece of chicken breast thicker than 1/4 inch. Yummy. I could rattle on, but I think you get my drift. Food is important to me and many other cruisers. We sat beside 6 other cruisers from novice to loyalty and the consensus of food quality was disappointing for all of us. Royal.... you can do better than this. You have done better than this. Kitchen staff are committed but they have lost their passion. I didn't see a real joy in executing their part of our culinary experience and it showed up in the eating! Discussions behind the counter between staff often seemed to be strained. I have never written this type of review before, but I feel it's time to speak up or stay away. Let me end on two things I loved. I loved going to the concierge lounge in the morning. Putting a bagel in the toaster, garnishing it with cream cheese and lox and washing it down with a cappuccino. And lastly, in the Windjammer, on many mornings they have begun serving fresh waffles straight out of the waffle machine. Don't take the premade ones. Ask the attendant to make you a fresh one. Top it with butter, cream and maple syrup....OMG. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
I decided to go on another transatlantic cruise with Royal Caribbean because I had such a great time on the 2017 transatlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Sea. This year I decided to take the Rhapsody of the Seas from Tampa to ... Read More
I decided to go on another transatlantic cruise with Royal Caribbean because I had such a great time on the 2017 transatlantic cruise on the Brilliance of the Sea. This year I decided to take the Rhapsody of the Seas from Tampa to Barcelona. The ship is probably about 20 years old and could use a make-over but even though it's a little dated it is clean and a very nice ship. The cruise director Elvis and his assistants, Eric & Bernie, are fabulous. They are the best I have experienced and made every day fun. Their expertise at keeping the activities fun and the good entertainment made the cruise enjoyable. Most people hear about how great the food is on a cruise. Well, NOT ON THIS CRUISE! If this was my first cruise, I would probably call everyone who talked about delicious food on cruises a liar. This food looked fantastic but tasted the opposite. Out of 9 dinners in the dining room, there were 7 days that people at our table sent food back because it was so bad they couldn't eat it. Appetizers and desserts were left uneaten after taking one bite. The buffet wasn't any better. How can hard boiled eggs be so hot that you can't peel them and pizza be cold? Everything in the buffet was dried out. Pancakes were so hard they could be used as frisbees, toast would completely crumble when you picked it up and bacon always ended up as bacon bits. If you can live off boxed cereal & milk for 14 days then you would be happy. I on the other hand lost over 10 pounds. It's nice to lose weight but I didn't book this cruise to lose weight. This is only my second cruise with Royal Caribbean so I won't be recommending Royal Caribbean to friends. Hopefully, this is just a fluke and not normal. I have a couple more Royal Caribbean cruises booked this year and I'm hoping they are better, otherwise, it's bye-bye to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was my first voyage on Rhapsody of the Seas and my first on Royal Caribbean. As someone who has sailed fairly extensively on Holland America Lines (HAL), this is my point of comparison. The positive aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas ... Read More
This was my first voyage on Rhapsody of the Seas and my first on Royal Caribbean. As someone who has sailed fairly extensively on Holland America Lines (HAL), this is my point of comparison. The positive aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas on this transatlantic crossing to Barcelona were the friendly, competent level of service and the food. The lunch buffet choices and quality were actually better than HAL. Kudos to the chef who creates such wonderful curries and other Indian food. The dinners in the dining room fell a wee bit short of HAL, but not by much; they were completely fine. The shore excursions on the Canary Islands were reasonable and had excellent guides and venues. Check-in was quick and easy in Tampa. The several lectures presented by a doctor speaker on medical/health history were top drawer. The negative aspects of Rhapsody of the Seas compared to Holland America are significant. First, the entertainment. Certainly, entertainment is a matter of personal taste, but for us a kid in a backwards ball cap doing wheelies on a BMX bike is not for us. Neither were the magician, the (rather embarrassingly talentless) guests’ talent show, and so on. As for music, I missed the classical music and the jazz I’ve experienced on HAL. (Yes, there’s a violinist and electrical guitarist playing modern movie themes and pop hits, but their playing, no matter how good, didn’t appeal to classical or jazz fans). Second, the noise. Almost everywhere you go on the ship, it’s noisy, either from the entertainment in the central atrium, or the top outdoor-pool deck, or the ubiquitous PA system, which is constantly playing Muzak-type noise. This was heard even in the hallways on the cabin levels. What’s wrong with allowing some quiet spaces without Muzak? Third, the amenities. Yes, I do like smaller ships, but certain amenities were lacking compared to HAL. No free New York Times online or in hard copy, no real library, no indoor movie theatre, no quiet indoor lounges, etc. We met some nice people on board, and enjoyed the voyage a lot. However, the hard-to-define characteristic of ambience – the vibe – was not as good on this voyage for the most part compared to HAL. I’d say that the HAL ambience is more relaxed and also more elevated. We’ll stick with HAL in future, when possible. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this as a first cruise and it was priced nicely. Pros included service staff. They were very attentive and always cheerful. That's it. Cons: food was mediocre to awful. The main dining room offerings were ... Read More
We chose this as a first cruise and it was priced nicely. Pros included service staff. They were very attentive and always cheerful. That's it. Cons: food was mediocre to awful. The main dining room offerings were sparse...spaghetti? really? roasted turkey? seriously? The windjammer buffet was good for breakfast...horrid for lunch including several Asian dishes that were unrecognizable hunks of meat in various heavy gravies. Burgers were pressed something or another. Pizza at the pizza place was quite atrocious. The pools and hot tubs were overly crowded and always loud.. The main entertainment shows were essentially 4th rate comedians who will remain obscure I'm sure. After midnight, there is absolutely nothing to do except go to the casino...what a shock, right? The schedule was adhered to so that's another plus. The cabin was surprisingly comfortable with built in conveniences, a nice mattress and cool sheets. The entire ship was amazingly clean considering how crowded it was. Overall, not sure I'm a cruise person. I like more space, more peace and quiet, and more control over the quality of food and entertainment. Also, disembarkation was a nightmare. We waited in lines for about 3 hours. Lastly, the beverage policies are ridiculous. You get bombarded with food, but can't have a cheap soda fountain unless you overly paid for the package. To enjoy this cruise (or many I suspect), you have to agree to be controlled and manipulated. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We booked this trip as a quick recharge vacation. The price for a balcony was perfect and being a re-positioning cruise, there were days at sea where it felt okay to do nothing but catch up on sleep, eat well, and read. We had an overall ... Read More
We booked this trip as a quick recharge vacation. The price for a balcony was perfect and being a re-positioning cruise, there were days at sea where it felt okay to do nothing but catch up on sleep, eat well, and read. We had an overall mixed experience. What was good: -Dining staff and services was fantastic. We ate in Chops and Giovanni and the main dining room and all our waiters were fantastic. The food was great, we left full and happy every night. -Our excursion in St. Marten was wonderful, we did the half day catamaran/snorkeling excursion. The staff was informative, the boat was clean, the company was good and it included lunch and beverages. I would do this again. What we disliked: -The art auction was awful purely because they masked an opportunity for a free piece of art by handing out credit card forms and not explaining what they were doing. It was very shady. I am suspicious of the art sales on board anyway, but this was the first time I had seen this happen and I was horrified at how they were taking advantage of people like that. Awful. -Our room was dated, which was fine, it was clean, however, our bed, which was two twin beds pushed together, would separate at night, we joked that there was a 'pit of despair' in the middle keeping us a part. Annoying more than anything. -Activities and entertainment was okay, but felt light, especially for a trip where most time was spent on the boat. We didn't do much because our dinner time was at a time when most evening activities took place. I think overall, it felt short staffed, but not sure if that is typical for a re-positioning cruise. It was okay. WE slept a lot, worked out, ate and drank which is what we wanted. We were happy to get off after five days though. Longer would have been too long. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We are a couple in our early 60's, newly retired. We have done this itinerary twice before. Each time the cost is higher, but the # days is shortened. This was a B2B cruise for us, since we boarded the ship in Sydney Australia for ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 60's, newly retired. We have done this itinerary twice before. Each time the cost is higher, but the # days is shortened. This was a B2B cruise for us, since we boarded the ship in Sydney Australia for the TransPacific repositioning. We stayed in the same cabin (9616), and had the same fabulous cabin steward (Boren Franover), so we were very happy with the stateroom. The service on the ship was great, as usual. Most of the staff goes out of their way to be friendly, answer questions, and to provide a wonderful experience. Instead of our usual Early Dining, we opted to try My Time Dining this cruise, in order to free up time to watch sunsets and sailaways. We made reservations for dinner times in the MDR, but didn't have great experiences with that. The first night, we were seated at a table with others who had reservations for a 1/2 hour before us, and had to wait until we arrived in order for the table to be full enough to order. The second night didn't go much better, so we opted to eat in the Windjammer Buffet after that, except for one night in Chops Grille. The buffet, Park Cafe and steakhouse were excellent food, and the sunset views on the aft deck were an added bonus. The first 4 days were port days (Honolulu, Lahaina, Kona and Kauai), so the Meet & Mingle was held on day 6. It was not well attended, and very little mingling happened -- a real disappointment after the previous cruise from Sydney. The port day in Hilo was cancelled after the volcano erupted and the earthquake happened. RCI substituted a day in Victoria instead at the end of the cruise. Victoria is a great city and we had a lovely day, but we would rather have had another day in any other Hawaiian port. We live in Greater Vancouver, and having paid a premium price for a Hawaiian cruise, we weren't thrilled with the substitution. Entertainment on this segment was mostly a repeat of the previous cruise, so we didn't attend many of the shows. Instead we saw more of the game shows in the Colony Club, and played pool on the self-levelling pool tables. We also spent more time trying to improve our mini-golf skills, doing puzzles and working out in the gym. The weather from Kauai to Victoria was cooler and rocky the first few days, making poolside lounging unappealing. Due to a medical emergency, we picked up speed and arrived in Victoria the evening before planned ETA. The one bonus to stopping in Victoria was that we were able to clear Customs in Victoria and avoid the Customs lineups in Vancouver, where 3 other ships were also docked at the same time. Kudos to Alex (Activities Director) and Sophie (Activities staff) for their tireless enthusiasm in running activities, contests and games to keep us entertained. I would consider doing this cruise again, but only if the duration is restored to 12 or 13 days, and if our favourite Hawaiian port of Hilo is restored. That last part, of course, is up to Mother Nature, and beyond RCI's control. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who cruised solo. I used the Explorer of the Seas as a vehicle to leisurely get home after intense touring in Australia and New Zealand. This was supposed to be my second non-charter Royal Caribbean ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a mid-30s male who cruised solo. I used the Explorer of the Seas as a vehicle to leisurely get home after intense touring in Australia and New Zealand. This was supposed to be my second non-charter Royal Caribbean sailing but my first one on the Radiance to go around New Zealand was cancelled (April 6 departure). Overall, this was my fourth Royal Caribbean cruise with the other 3 being full ship charters (Atlantis, Inception at Sea and Groove Cruise). I’m not new to cruising with 44 total completed cruises and the majority having been on Norwegian Cruise Line. Other cruise lines I’ve sailed are Celebrity, Princess and Carnival. Reader’s Digest: Usually I write my reviews on a day by day format as I’ve experienced the items. However, given the length of this cruise, I realize you might not want to read all of it so here is a brief summation and for details you can read it all. The ship is only as good as it’s crew. The stateroom steward, dining team and bartenders were what made this trip. The cruise staff, minus Veronica who joined in Fiji, were disengaged and the DJ was the worst I’ve ever experienced on a non-chartered cruise. I truly believed my Sapphire Dining team could’ve done a better job engaging guests as cruise staff then most of the actual cruise staff ever did. As a solo cruiser and a shy one, I had to come out of my shell by day 4 to meet people my age after the ship botched solos events for my age demographic. Guest entertainers were some of the worst I’d ever seen at sea and I’ve done repositioning cruises on NCL. If you’re a solo cruiser, I would steer clear of this ship and cruise line if you’re shy. As for LGBT friendliness, the scavenger hunt to find the meet up spot was excessive. I was told repeatedly to go to guest services to look for a bulletin board only to be told it was moved to the library and the library said the meet up was at the R Bar on Deck 5. No one paid attention to this until Day 4 and by then it was a haphazard meet up. With Celebrity being such a supporter of LGBT equality, it’s beyond me why their sister brand is so far backwards. DAY 1: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – EMBARKATION Guests were encouraged to show up at designated times to check in for the cruise to help spread out passenger flow. I adhered to the assigned check in time for 2PM for my deck but came earlier to drop off the checked bags. Tip: You can drop bags earlier outside at the pier and not go into the terminal. Take advantage and explore the Rocks neighborhood around or Circular Quay. At 2:30PM when I turned up to check in, there wasn’t a line or a wait or anything. A lot of the passengers had already embarked the ship I was told. I sped through check-in, cleared customs and was on my way onto the ship within 20 minutes of stepping foot into the terminal. It was very fast and efficient! BALCONY STATEROOM 7216: The balcony room can fit four people with a pull-out sofa bed which meant there was no coffee table inside the room. The bed was firm. I switched from side to side some nights to see if one side was better compared to the other. The side closest to the balcony seemed softer. The room itself was in good condition given the ship’s age. Dings, dents and scratches were covered over with paint or stickers. The light over the sofa was cracked but still functioned. The balcony was spacious and recessed into the superstructure. It provided more privacy then modern ones with the partitions. Being so far forward, the water drained inefficiently off the balcony when it rained causing it to pool for quite some time. The bathroom was the only portion of the room I found challenging. The water from the sink always ran hot, even all the way on cold. It changed once the ship reached the equator so perhaps the water temperature being taken in by the ship was hot to begin with and since the room was so far forward it was being heated by the ship more before it’s arrival to the room. The shower was equally scorching hot and would temperature fluctuate frequently during the 3PM to 6PM time frame. The water from the sink would come out annoyingly slow with no water pressure. Out of all the cruises I’ve taken it was also the first cruise where I’ve clogged a toilet. Just flush more frequently. At first I thought it was something I did but the toilet line for this section of the ship broke down twice during the voyage and the entire section wouldn’t flush. Perhaps this has more to do with the ship’s age then what I was doing. When heading to my room I spotted one of my cases in the corridor, I grabbed it and brought it to the room and unpacked it. The closet space for a solo cruiser and the amount of storage drawers was amazing. Plus, you could store your luggage under the bed to provide for additional space in the closet. Time had flown since boarding the ship and wondering around. The ship looked great and I needed to get my bearings for the 23 days. Once orientated, I returned to the room and it was immediately greeted by Christopher Hy, the stateroom attendant. He informed it was actually time to go to Muster Drill and welcomed me to the ship and asked if the room was setup ok. I told him it was perfect since I was cruising solo. At muster drill I actually sat on the floor of the Star Lounge stage. I was surprised our muster station didn’t have enough seating given the ship wasn’t sailing completely full and there were quite a few solos onboard. I watched the ship sail off from Sydney and the sunset just behind Sydney harbor. It was breathtakingly beautiful and the best place to watch sail away was at the aft on the top deck. I stayed up there until the ship had reached the ocean and commenced it’s turn North for New Caledonia. The crowd dwindled until it was me and a security guard watching. I went back to the room and the second case which didn’t have the cruise clothing in it had arrived. I took a shower and discovered the temperature issues. Afterward, I headed off to the Sapphire Dining Room and did a table share. I was sat with a number of people who were on the cancelled Radiance cruise and an older couple from Australia. Dinner service seemed remarkably slow but talking helped pass the time. The waiter apologized and said the first two nights of service are customarily like this as a lot of people go to the dining rooms then and then spread out or go to Windjammer. Dinner went late so I floated around the ship. Tonight’s featured entertainment was a Star Wars movie. Oddly enough there wasn’t a welcome aboard variety show for one show only like most cruise lines do on embarkation day. I decided to stay up until the solo and single traveler get together up at the Dizzy’s Nightclub on Deck 14. I went up and ordered a drink and sat at the bar. Met the bartender named Made and spoke to him for a bit. The bar was dead. No one had really turned up and when the 18-25s gathering was at 11PM, the music was in the 1950s. What young people did turn up left when they heard the music! What was this DJ thinking? DAY 2: SEA DAY The day started really late but this was not surprising as I was exhausted from extensive traveling leading up to it. I went up to the Windjammer Buffet at around 10AM and was surprised how packed it was. I couldn’t find a seat to sit at and it was a mad house. The people with interior rooms must have been chair hogging in the buffet. I also wasn’t keen on the people in the line with one pushing me out of the way to get bacon. I went up on deck for some sun, coming down to meet up for the solos luncheon. I figured it would be a great way to meet people. The problem was the solos gathering lunch was placed just after the ship’s first one hour forward which happened at Noon. All of the ship’s time changes were done at Noon instead of overnight. At first I didn’t like it at all as it shortened my day but towards the end of the cruise I got used to it. It did help the crew a lot by not shortening their sleep time to try and keep them healthy. Only about 10 people turned up for the solos gathering luncheon and all of them were older females. I turned around and left before being sat. I headed up to the Windjammer Buffet for a quick bite before heading back out to the sun. Tonight, was the first of four formal nights of the cruise. I decided to dine on my own and ordered a bottle of wine with dinner. I only had one glass and kept in on hand for other nights of the cruise. The guy who served it to me remembered me and always said hello in the Windjammer on the rest of the days of the cruise even though I never sat in his section again for dinner service. Impressive he remembered my name but sadly I can’t remember his. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: ROCK RHAPSODY I turned up for the late show at 10PM. The show featured the hits of Queen and largely featured the production cast singers versus the dancers. The singers were great! The girl from Australia could really belt out a song. The overall production aesthetics seemed to be lacking. It was more of a singing show then a full-scale cruise ship production. Afterwards it was time to head back to Dizzy’s nightclub and give this a try again. Upon arrival I discovered DJ Tony was again playing big band music and ballroom dancing was taking place. I checked my watch and it was 10:55PM. At 11PM there was supposed to be 18-25s meet up. I was hoping there was a younger crowd on the ship so I sat at the bar facing the entry way and again saw people turn up and leave. This DJ either didn’t know what was supposed to be going on or didn’t care. Tonight, I finally met someone who was around my age at the bar and was traveling alone as well. The music never really flipped from the 70s format. The DJ kept disappearing too which I thought was odd. DAY 3: SEA DAY I tried breakfast in the buffet again after rising late and decided after another rude encounter and lack of finding available seats that I would just order room service for the remainder of the voyage. I disliked having to regiment my morning rise times on holiday but this was sheer madness with the amount of chair hogging going on. I walked around the ship and got some sun while waiting for the World’s Sexiest Man competition to begin at 1PM. When I turned up for it, they were having a hard time getting participants to join in so it was postponed. I went to the gym and did a workout since I discovered the afternoons the gym was largely dead and the sun was too strong at that time making me burn even with SPF50 on! I gave the LGBT gathering a second shot tonight and turned up at the R Bar where the bulletin board in the library said it was supposed to be. There was no one around who looked like LGBT. Guest services was opposite the bar so I went over and asked them how come they don’t put the LGBT gathering in the daily yet there’s veterans ones and some friends of Carol activities going on. Friends of Bill W (alcoholics anonymous) also was made to seek out the bulletin board. I found the selection of what was and was not placed in the Compass odd. I spoke to a gentleman at guest services and he said he would let management know and composed an email right there to send to them. I explained my experience with other lines and he said someone would contact me about it. I never was until I put it in the mid-cruise survey again. Tonight, was casual attire in the dining room. I had requested a table for two as I had turned up rather early. I was placed in Domnic and Gede’s section and it was the first time I had dinner service where the meals, if more then one was ordered, were served one after each other instead of all at once. It was classy service and I was truly impressed. I informed both the head waiter and assistant waiter I was very impressed with their service that night. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: CRAIG DAHN, PIANIST At first this started off as almost being a piano recital with older piano favorites coming along. As the show progressed it moved more current and he played a mix of more current artist hits and you could hear the words in your head. His tribute to Lady Gaga was quite nice. In between songs he would talk about his past experiences in show business. Overall it was a pretty good show. I gave up on Dizzy’s as we had a port day tomorrow and went to bed. DAY 4: NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA COMMEMORATION: ANZAC DAY The Australians and New Zealanders asked repeatedly if there would be an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp) services on the day of observation. The Cruise Director did arrange a service to be done at sunrise. I decided to attend the ANZAC service but stayed up the back. The ship’s senior staff were all in attendance minus the Captain who was steering the ship towards Noumea (and it was in sight). The cruise staff were dressed and handing out fake poppies and programs to those in attendance and the ship’s galley and waitstaff were on the lower pool deck handing out coffee and ANZAC biscuits. The ship’s staff did a great job with the ceremony despite a technical glitch when playing the Australian national anthem. The attendees from Australia sang it on their own. It was a short service and a reef was laid in front of the pool bar. I thought it was a very nice touch by Royal Caribbean to honor the fallen. It was very well attended too. NOUMEA I went back to the room and had room service delivered and ate it on the balcony as we pulled into port. It was a much calmer breakfast experience today. I even got to experience a show from a local performance troupe who greeted the ship as well pulled alongside. The ship was docked at a working container port which meant we had to use a bus shuttle to get to the actual passenger terminal designed for smaller ships. I got off the ship early and caught one of the transfer busses. I didn’t book anything and a lot of the items the ship was selling for shore excursions were to beaches. The weather wasn’t conducive for the beach as it was raining. At the cruise terminal I found a lady who was selling a historical tour with a stop at the Melanesian Cultural Center and an island tour. The total cost was far less then anything the ship was offering and the tour provider accepted Australian currency and provided change in it as well. I had some time before the tour took off so I explored downtown Noumea a bit and did part of the walking tour they give out at the visitor’s center located in the same building. The independent excursion took off about on time and took us over to the Melanesian Cultural Center first. We spent about an hour there and were shown some exhibits and cultural history was explained as we navigated through two of the showing halls. It was also explained about the architecture of the building itself. I wish we could’ve spent more time here and if you go on your own and love culture, be sure to just take a taxi to this location. You could easily spend a better part of your day there. Afterward, we continued on an island tour going past the beaches, an old church and stopping at a view point lookout for photos. All in all given the weather, it wasn’t a bad day. When we returned to Noumea, I finished the walking tour before heading back to the ship. I turned up for dinner and requested Domnic and Gede’s section again as I was impressed by their service. I was informed his section was full but I could table share if I wanted to. I did so and was sat a four seater. I waited a good 20 minutes and no one was sat so Domnic came by and took my order. The meal was amazing. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: INVITATION TO DANCE For a 23 day cruise I was surprised the first of the three production shows so soon! I attended the first show which was at 8:30PM. This show was more high energy and featured more dance numbers compared to the first show. The singers and dancers were out in full force and the ballroom dancers performed as well. I loved this production show and the backgrounds were far more thought out and appealing compared to Rock Rhapsody. FEAUTRED ENTERTAINMENT: PERFECT COUPLE GAME SHOW Having caught up on my sleep, I decided to stay out a bit later tonight instead of going to bed early for Lifou. I turned up for this game show and they were looking for volunteers. Not a lot of people were in attendance but out of those who were, a lot of them wanted to be IN the game show, not watch. They had to dwindle it down first before the show began. It was entertaining to watch as the couples the audience selected were fun. Afterwards, I headed to bed as we were in port the next day. DAY 5: LIFOU, NEW CALEDONIA It wasn’t a great looking weather day again so I brought my rain gear and headed ashore. If you were not on an organized tour there was a church to the left and up a hill to explore and a road to the right which went into town. The road to town was a long road and at the end you were in for a rude awakening if you didn’t have local currency. I walked to the town and took some photos of the ship but the sky had turned really dark so I decided to start the journey back. This stop was my least favorite out of all of them. I didn’t think there was really anything much to see that you didn’t see the previous day for culture. I headed back to the ship for a late lunch and decided to go workout as the weather didn’t look good. I was happy I did as I went to workout the sky opened up and since it was a tender port, a lot of people were stuck on the barge (aka tender platform) getting soaked. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: MONIQUE MONTEZ, VOCALIST An amazingly talented vocalist brought the crowd to a standing ovation by the end with her style. She sang some old tunes and more current ones which showcased her vocal range. Along the way she told us stories and sang to a picture of her child on the display. Out of all the Australian guest entertainers, she was the best of the cruise! A note about the showtimes, tonight the showtimes were moved to 6:30PM and 8:30PM from the 8:30PM to 10PM show times. It would stay this way for the rest of the cruise largely. I’m not sure what triggered the change, but it left a hole for when you were waiting for the nightclub to get decent. FEATURED ENTERTAINTMENT: TROPICAL DECK PARTY This was supposed to be outside but Mother Nature rained it out and it was moved to Dizzy’s Nightclub. I turned up for a bit to see what was going on and met up with some new cruise friends at the bar. Finally on Day 5 it was easier to meet people and the ship was starting to come alive. What I couldn’t understand was why a deck party was scheduled on a night with a port call the next day. If you’re encouraging people to stay up later and generate alcohol revenue, this was NOT the way to do it. The party had the obligatory line dance songs and I stayed until just before midnight. The music never moved from the 70s the whole night. DAY 6: MYSTERY ISLAND RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: MODERN VILLAGE TOUR (ANEITYUM) The tour meet up time was 8:15AM and this was pre-booked online. The ship did offer hourly tours from 9AM onward but I was in the first tour. Upon arrival to the theater I was given a sticker and told to sit with the group. We were called rather promptly and taken to a tender boat to be transferred to Mystery Island. The tender operation seemed a bit rocky at this location and they were having issues with the ropes at first. We were then transferred to another boat that had pulled up on the beach and took us over to Aneityum next door for the village tour. Upon arrival we were greeted on the beach by two women who would guide us through the rest of the tour. We were brought in and a piece of what appeared to be seaweed bestowed upon each of us. What ear it hung from determined if you were single or married. We were moved through different demonstrations within the village including weaving of baskets, making of coconut water and splitting coconuts as well as a small native dish. Samples were given to guests on the tour. Given the sanitation standards around, I passed on sampling the food but did take photographs. Ancient history was discussed including the use of cannibalism among the different tribes and how ancient traditions seem barbaric compared to today’s standards. For a short 2 hour tour, this tour was more informative then I thought it was going to be. The ship was selling it for USD 94 but it was cheaper if you pre-purchased online. I would recommend it. I returned to the ship after the tour ended taking a tender boat back over. The weather looked great for a change so I wanted to give Mystery Island a go for the beach. I didn’t have anything else planned. I returned to the ship and went to the Windjammer. It didn’t open until 11:45A and I was early. This was a first for lunch service! After lunch I headed ashore immediately and was with a few other fellow cruisers and mostly crew on the tender. Guests were trying to get back to the ship for lunch and the tender queue was snaked down the pier and into the island. I was thankful I did it the opposite way. About 1 hour later, most of the back side of the beach was deserted! I had a nice small section to myself. I spent a good amount of time on the beach until about 3PM when most of the crew had returned to the ship. The place was literally a ghost town when I went back at 3:30PM! Tonight I dined in the Sapphire again and within Domnic and Gede’s section. I asked Ethel, the hostess, to be assigned to his section with a table and she said would see what she could do. I guess I had told too many cruisers how good the service was as his section was now full! She was able to accommodate me when someone gave up a table who switched to a later dining time and I would have that table for the remainder of the cruise. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: JONATHAN CLARK A comedian and impressionist from the UK, Jonathan Clark put on a decent show. No politicians were left unscathed no matter where you hailed from. He poked as much fun at Australian politicians as he did with America’s Trump. However, it was interesting the number of people who got up and walked out when he did his Trump jokes. Unless you were up on Australian politics, the other part of his show didn’t make much sense to you. He did try and do both countries since the demographics onboard were split among Australians and Americans. I thought his show was enjoyable and could understand the basics of what he was throwing out there for the Australian politics. His impression of Trump was hilarious. We had a sea day so I gave Dizzy’s nightclub another try. The Compass for the day was screwed up because in one place it said Dizzy’s was a chill out zone and in another place it said for the same time it was Rock N Roll Hour. Either way, upon arrival to Dizzy’s it was rock and roll mixed with ballroom and 70s music. Good grief with this nightclub. When the older clientele left after 11PM, we stayed stuck in the 70s as the same mix tape DJ Tony had been using was played and he disappeared AGAIN. Where does this man go? He’s there to play and take requests! A guest reported when he asked for something the DJ requested a tip. DAY 7: SEA DAY It was a leisurely day at sea and a one hour forward day. I spent the morning grabbing some sun and when the ship shifted one hour forward and the weather turned cloudy. I checked out the World’s Sexiest Man competition on the way to lunch. This time it ran and a person was crowned the winner. I figured out a hole in the fitness area stretch and seminar schedule and went to the gym in the afternoon. The sun is very strong in this area and I was burning too much. Bring SPF50 or higher! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: WILD, COOL and SWINGIN This was the second of three production shows on a 23-day cruise and it was day 7? This was the highest energy production of the ship, I guess save the best for last. This production also had the highest amount of backdrop usage and sets. I loved it! The singers and dancers took us on a journey through the USA with stops in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Las Vegas with different vibes in each. The costuming was the best for this show as well! Make sure you catch it. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: FRIENDLY FAMILY FEUD GAME SHOW There were a lot of families who wanted to participate so they rotated through the families for each round. No family won by clearing the board. Some of the survey results were impossible to guess such as what are the top pizza toppings? The answers were geared for the North American market versus the Australian market so that stumped the participants. Even Guido, the cruise staff, said who the heck picked those for answers! LOL It was Frank Sinatra hour in Dizzy’s and I was trying to stay awake. I walked the Promenade and sat up on the bow helipad staring at the starry night. I fell asleep briefly there and headed back to the room and called it a night. I figured the nightclub wouldn’t get out of the 50s all night anyway. DAY 8: SUVA, FIJI I was up early watching the arrival to Suva, Fiji’s capital. Our arrival in the channel was fun to watch as there were plenty of ship wrecks in the area so the channel had to be narrow. The port side of the ship had the best views of the islands mangroves and green landscaping. We docked starboard side to the city of Suva. RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: COUNTRYSIDE DRIVE and FIRE WALKING SPECTACULAR We were taken by an open air motorcoach meaning no AC. A lot of people were displeased with this type of accommodation but I was fine. I sat up the back and had a nice breeze the whole drive. Along the way the tour guide pointed out things and the locals waved as we passed. The natural beauty of the Fiji outside the city was nice scenery to view along the way. There wasn’t too many highlights between Suva and Pacific Harbor but the tour guide did her best. Upon arrival to the Arts Village in Pacific Harbor, we were greeted by a performer who was banging the drum. We were then informed we had time to go shopping and when the drum performed again we had to meet up and head to the performance platform. I didn’t realize shopping was included in this tour or that it would be about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The time came to go to the theater to watch the show. It was an outdoor venue with well kept landscaping including a tribal house, a sand pit to do dancing and demonstrations and hot stones from which the Fijian firewalkers performed. The show lasted some 45 minutes and showed the firewalkers at the start, cultural presentations and explanations and ceremonial dances. This show was amazing and made the whole tour worth it. I would recommend this tour. INDEPENDENT TOURING: WALKING TOUR After a quick lunch on the ship, I headed into town. The shopping mall was offering a free shuttle transfer and I took it not knowing just how close it was to the ship. When I got out I headed down the main roadway towards the Holiday Inn and found the Fijian Parliament Building and Prime Minister’s residence. Looping back into town I found Suva’s oldest church on the back street and then headed for the mall which between two malls in the city were the only things open. The ship had called on a Sunday when most everything was closed. I returned back to the ship late so I wanted to have a later dinner, I called up the dining team and informed them of the time change and they said it was ok. I watched the ship sail from the balcony which coincided with the same time as the early show which was 6:30PM. I went to dinner after the ship was away from land missing the second show. Tonight’s entertainment was a hypnotist named Tony Laffan. Some Australians said he was good and some Americans said he wasn’t. I can’t comment but that’s what was on for entertainment. Tonight, the Cruise Director made a special place for the ballroom dancers in Studio B ice skating rink. He had the show band play for 45-minute sets twice in there and covered the ice so the people could dance there. I was thankful because I was hopping the nightclub would actually start to play some nightclub music for a change! It was Motown hour in Dizzy’s and I only stayed for a short bit. DAY 9: LAUTOKA, FIJI From one port on the Fijian big island to another. We docked at the sugar port for Fiji but a short walking distance into Lautoka meant more shopping malls. These malls featured most of the same names they had in Suva but a lot more other stores were open too since it was Monday. The ship was offering a shuttle bus transfer for those who didn’t want in the unrelenting sun and heat for 9USD. RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: NAWAKA VILLAGE TOUR This tour requires no bare shoulders or exposed knees. You must cover up. I wore linen pants and a button-down shirt. We were transferred by air-conditioned motor coach (different day over day but same island in Fiji) to the Nawaka Village. Upon arrival to the village we were greeted by several women who handed out a necklace with a flower around it. A kava making demonstration was done by one of the local villagers under the direction of the tribal chief. The kava was made using Fijian bottled water but after using their ‘bathroom’ (more like out house) and it did not have a sink, I passed on the sampling which was done. Also, there two cups to hand out the samples which were dunked back into the kava to draw up samples for the next person. The cups were not washed. I could understand from this demonstration why the Cruise Director said there was always an uptick in noro cases after Fiji. Sanitation in Fiji is not up to Western standards. The tour continued on with a walking tour of the village. It wasn’t really a village but more of a walk around the corner to the tribal chief’s house with an explanation of the items were could see outside. We were not allowed to enter the house. I took a photo by the house and then we were brought to the village church was the sturdiest building they had. In the event of a weather emergency such as a cyclone a few weeks prior, the church would be used as a shelter. Our tour guide performed in the choir and someone asked her to sing us a hymn. She obliged. We later discovered she was also the story teller during the cultural performance show back in the same spot as the kava making demonstration. For being on the same island and seeing the show the previous day, some of the cultural performances were different. On the way back to the ship, the tour made a stop in Nadi where the airport is located. We were again dropped off a Tappoo shopping center. I was starting to wonder if the tour provider was getting some sort of kick back from this shopping mall. The tour the previous day dropped folks off at one prior to returning to the ship. I was able to find a Fiji shirt in my size and purchased it before we returned back to the ship along the same route we did on the way out (no commentary so we could snooze if we wanted to). Back at the pier, I went to the ship and had some lunch before venturing back off the ship in search for sunglasses. I had crushed my final pair and needed to buy new ones! Unfortunately, all the vendors setup by the pier didn’t sell them and it was simply too hot to walk into town in the mid-day sun. I returned to the ship after being hounded by taxi drivers every few feet. I watched the ship sail away before heading to dinner at 5:30PM in Domnic and Gede’s section. I also had a lovely chat with my neighbors in the forward most balcony room 7214. By the end of the trip they would become great friends! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: MOVIE NIGHT The Palace Theater was quiet for guest entertainers tonight and all the productions shows had run so the only option left was to run movies. Tonight’s featured movie was Victoria and Abdul starring Judi Dench. It was about Queen Victoria’s friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim who won her heart. This was based on a diary which was discovered. I love as a remarkable actress and so I did attend the 8PM viewing of it. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: RED and WHITE ATTIRE DECK PARTY Another theme party planned for the deck and another party where Mother Nature had other plans. The party was moved to Dizzy’s nightclub after the rain started shortly after the deck party began. Dizzy’s had a Michael Jackson hour going on until 11:30PM. The music flipped around and then landed on the 70s mix tape with the DJ leaving again. Tonight, since we had nothing but sea days ahead of us, a lot of people stayed up later including some newer, younger faces I hadn’t seen up there before. We were younger then 70s music so the music should’ve changed. The music didn’t change because DJ Tony was missing. When DJ Tony showed up, he had a coffee and sat on the stairs drinking it while we were at the bar watching him. No one wanted to dance because the music wasn’t applicable to our timeframe. The grumbling at the bar was enough and we had many, many more sea days to go. DAY 10: SEA DAY – May 1 – International Date Line A leisurely late start to the sea day meant some going to the gift shops and purchasing a new pair of sunglasses. This time the lady was kind enough to put them in a hard case so I wouldn’t break them. Afterward I walked around the ship as it wasn’t good weather to grab sun. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Captain’s Corner with Captain Kjetil The Captain, Chief Engineer, Hotel Director and Cruise Director were on hand to ask questions. Questions posed from the weirdest such as what was this random rock in the Pacific called to whether or not we would be doing scenic cruising past a volcano in Hawaii. At the time I didn’t know why the Hawaiian question kept coming up as I wasn’t watching the news (exploding volcano on the big island was current top story). Another guest asked about why the chairs on the Royal Promenade were so short because people were having a hard time getting into and out of them. I thought this was odd as I am tall and didn’t have any issues. Someone asked for details about what caused the Radiance cancellation and the Captain rightly ducked it, he didn’t know and it wasn’t applicable to our sailing. The Cruise Director would crack jokes between the questions to help pass the time. If you have a burning question for any of the four of them, be sure to turn up and sit on Deck 3 to ask. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: FAST FORWARD This was the final production show of the cruise and it was Day 10 of the cruise? What on Earth would we have for entertainment for the rest of the trip? Out of all the production shows, this was my least favorite. I don’t know if it was because I was already annoyed with the amount of 70s music I had been subjected to or if the show really wasn’t entertaining for me. The show centered around 70s and 80s music. It didn’t feel as high energy as the previous ones but it was still far more entertaining then some guest entertainers which lay ahead. Tonight after the 8:30PM show I returned to the room to discover a mid-cruise survey asking about all facets of the cruise along with the Day 11 Cruise Compass on the bed. Since it was Elvis Presley hour up in Dizzy’s, I figured I would take some time out and fill out the survey with detail. I outlined how the dining room service, food and stateroom stewards were doing excellent work but the entertainment was lacking. On the back it asked about details of what was working and what needed work. I went into detail about the DJ not gauging the audience, disappearing for a spans of time and then sitting down and not paying attention or playing music that would engage people to dance after 11-11:30PM. It asked if I wanted to be contacted about it and I said yes. I dropped it off on my way up to Dizzy’s nightclub and that night DJ Tony’s behavior was no different then any other night previously, he put his mix tape on and left. DAY 11: SEA DAY – May 1 – International Date Line As I was about to leave the room and head for the pool deck, the phone rang. I received a call from the Cruise Director Graham Seymour to discuss my mid-cruise survey. Graham listened attentively to what I had to say about how the solos gatherings and younger age group which has a presence on this ship have been ignored or botched since Day 1. We also discussed the DJs behavior. Graham admitted he wasn’t readily aware of what happens in the nightclub as it’s usually when he was asleep. He said he would have a chat with the DJ and work on having some solo gatherings outside of the lunch time hour. I thanked him for his call and follow up. When I mentioned the LGBT gathering, he said it was corporate policy and that more recently RCI had told the ships to move the bulletin board from Guest Services to the library. Given the special requests being put in the Compass by guests, I thought this rationale was still lacking but RCI corporate will be the final judge as I’m sure they’re reading this. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: COMEDIAN SIMON PALOMARES After a leisurely sea day and a nice dinner in Domnic and Gede’s section, it was off to the 8:30PM late show for the comedian. Simon was an Australian comedian and I guess the differences were in the jokes. I found his humor very dry and he didn’t have a lot of good punch lines. Even the Australians at the dinner table next to me said they didn’t think he was overly funny but said some of the jokes may have sailed over my head as again they were related to Australian politics. I did leave his show earlier then when it finished and walked around the ship. It was a nice night for star gazing on the forward helipad again. I did turn up for dancing through the Decades after the Rock N Roll hour. The nightclub wasn’t really changing from Rock N Roll and a mix tape had seemed to be on again. This time the DJ was around but he wasn’t actively mixing music. I gave up and called it a night. DAY 12: SEA DAY Today featured the equator crossing ceremony. After a leisurely morning of room service on the balcony, I went to the gym. There weren’t any classes going on so was able to stretch in the studio! I finished the workout just prior to the one hour forward making it 1PM and almost time for the ceremony. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Equator Crossing Ceremony The event started off with a flash mob (ironically scheduled in the Compass) doing a dance number. I knew a few of the people who were going to be in and turned up to support. Immediately after Graham started the ceremony presenting King Neptune and Queen Neptunia. It was actually a show where cruisers who had been naughty were brought up and turned into some form of pasta dish. Yes, I said pasta. Not going to say what specifically happened but the UK cadet officer who had gained a bit of fame was also christened with this pasta creation and kissed the fish. Next up it was the hotel director who knew what he was in for an wore shorts. The poor cadet didn’t have the luxury. Comparing this ceremony to the one NCL did on a repositioning cruise from San Diego to Chile, this one was far more entertaining. I liked it. Afterward you could take photos with the Neptune folks who were the dancers I believe and James, the cadet, also hung around for photos too. After this ended, the whole pool deck shifted to the buffet. The pushing and shoving to get food was a bit much. It’s not like anyone was going hungry. Headed back to the balcony for a bit. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: SPIRIT OF THE SEASONS ICE SKATING SHOW By far the best performance I’ve seen on the Explorer cruise so far. I give props to all the figure skaters who did this show. To do it on a moving ship, have several costume changes and a smaller than usual rink to get the speed up for jumps, the show was simply amazing! Even with a fall or two, the performers brushed it off like true professionals and kept going. The skating was equally matched to slow and fast songs. The costumes changed with the seasons and were the best costumes of all the productions on the ship. Bravo RCCL for having such an incredible show! Since the show was at 4PM, it made for a tight turn around for the early dinner with Domnic and Gede. Tonight, I had the Calamari appetizer at Domnics recommendation and it was quite good. I usually don’t eat seafood. I also had the lamb chops. The lamb chops were so bony and had very little meat on them so I got a side of strip steak. The desserts tonight didn’t really stand out. Coconut flan was on order so I went with the apple pie which is always available. I wasn’t crazy about it. It was rather tasteless and needed more cinnamon and nutmeg. The spices just weren’t there to give it flavoring. I followed it with a fruit plate. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: DUELING DIVAS featuring Rechell and Danielle Two of the production singers belted out tunes from divas like Celine Dion (my favorite), Barbara Streisand, Donna Summer and many more. They told us their personal stories between songs. It was a wonderful and powerful performance. After the show I bounced around the exterior promenade and bumped into the lecturer who was talking about the stars up on the helipad. I stuck around for a bit as he was pointing out constellations and telling stories about how far light traveled. It was fascinating and just the beauty of being able to go out to the front of the ship with mostly no light and just stare at the sky. This has been a hidden gem in the cruise. A lot of people haven’t been out there yet. I met up with some of my fellow cruisers at the R Bar and bought a drink. After chilling there for a bit, some went to bed and a few of us went to try Dizzys nightclub. It was 80s night. Upon arrival to the club, we saw all the senior staff in the corner table by the Diamond entrance. The captain and the folks seemed to be talking and just relaxing. They stayed until just about 11 when the format was supposed to flip. It sort of did and out came the mix tape by the DJ. It wasn’t until I went to the bathroom and walked by the DJ booth did the music suddenly flip to current. It appeared Graham did talk to him and likely showed him the security embark photo as well. The rest of the night was fun and those of us in the nightclub took turns dancing. With the more current music playing new people turned up who hadn’t been there the whole cruise. It was nice to meet new people and to dance with them! All in all it was the best sea day of the cruise so far. DAY 13: SEA DAY Another leisurely breakfast on the balcony. I noticed the Compass said chance of showers and in the distance there were clouds. I figured it was a good idea to go and get some sun for a bit. I was able to get two hours before it started raining just after noon time. The rain stayed around all afternoon and I hung out on the balcony reading. It was a low key day but there was plenty to do including a matinee movie in the theater and the first meeting of the guest chorus group. Assembly station B and C have their ice show today. I was thinking of doing standby but with the weather like this, I’m sure everyone will turn up for it unlike my assembly station yesterday. I turned up for dinner at Sapphire a bit past my usual time but my table was still available. Domnic and Gede held back the service to get me caught up with everyone else. I felt bad but two of the couples stayed behind with me for dessert at neighboring tables. Tonight’s menu had prime rib again. I opted for the tortillas and had a strip of prime rib. It was a good thing I did that because the tortillas were quite small. Be sure to order two of them. I had the carrot cake for dessert which was nice along with the nightly fruit plate. Unfortunately during dinner service a guest on the starboard side choked. Thankfully fellow guests helped by performing the Heimlich maneuver on her. The ship paged a code alpha but it was resolved by the time they had done so. I’m still hoping the injury in carpentry on Deck 1 the other day wasn’t severe. I’ve noticed a lot more people popping up with braces and crutches. The ship is moving but I’ve been in rougher seas. My room is all the way forward on Deck 7. If anything, the ships motion keeps putting me to sleep. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: PATRICK MCMAHON I turned up for his first show at 8:30PM. The show times keep moving around and this was the first show. It was packed. I’m not sure if it was because he was Australian and there’s a lot of Aussies on the ship or what. He came out and started with performing the same song with different impersonations several times over. Patrick was very animated and was running back and forth all over the stage. I wasn’t sure if he was just hyperactive, drunk or high. He was very animated and telling lots of stories. I thought he was a performance musician but he didn’t do much singing. I gave him a half hour as there wasn’t much else on. I left and walked the promenade deck. Later I bumped into some Aussie friends who told me it is customary for the storytelling in performances in Oz. Overall, he wasn’t my cup of tea. Tonight, cruise director Graham had arranged the first solos gathering at Schooners Bar on Deck 4. It was at 9:45P instead of at lunch. Guido, cruise staff, was assigned to the meet up. Four people turned up but no one really talked except me to someone I already met earlier in the voyage (not at a solos gathering). I appreciated the effort and told Guido that. It was my first time at Schooners Bar so it gave me something new to experience as well. The piano player there may have been a reason I didn’t go before. Yikes. She could get better with more alcohol perhaps like the dueling pianos on the NCL ships. DAY 14: SEA DAY I can’t believe I’ve been on this ship for two weeks. Feels like an eternity since I’ve seen land last. After leisurely room service on the balcony it was time to head up to the top deck for some sun. I stayed up there 2 hours and left at 11:45A to get to the buffet before the noon announcement from the Captain. It was one hour forward today. After lunch it was gym time. The gym was fairly quiet and Busi let me stay in the back to do my stretches during her Good Feet presentation. It was very nice of her to allow me to and she did a nice presentation for the folks who showed up. The ship was rocking a bit today according to some guests. With my room all the way forward it made for a fun time getting ready for dinner but I wasn’t sea sick. Two tables in the row didn’t show up tonight. I had the duck with a side of strip steak. The duck was very good and the steak was cooked to order. Dessert tonight repeated the sky high lemon meringue pie, cold soup and fruit plate. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: RAT PACK RELOADED A trio of singers performed music of the big band era with songs from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior. While the entertainment was outside my time period, the guys were actually quite entertaining between songs. They passed jokes but kept the show flowing. For a change they kept me engaged for the entire show and I stayed until the end. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: 70s Disco Dance Party The Royal Promenade came alive with the sounds of the 70s. The same mix tape we heard at the beginning of the cruise with 70s tunes in the nightclub was played by the DJ. Live vocals kicked off the actual party by cast members Danielle and Michael. They did an amazing job getting the energy up and then the cruise staff came out dressed as the village people and disco divas. They did some dance numbers and got the audience involved. It was a great night with a lot of energy on the promenade. The body heat in the venue made it a little stifling but it was still a great time. Tip: Wear shorts to the party and a light shirt. After the party ended I checked out Dizzys Nightclub. As expected the music stayed in the 70s until the crowd thinned towards 11:30. It began to flip to more current music by the end of the night. I left just before 2AM. DAY 15: SEA DAY It was a late start to the morning with room service on the balcony. Room service again told me they were out of bananas. I tried roaming the ship in search of them to no avail. I went upstairs for some sun before lunch and to catch the FlowRider safety demonstration. At 1 PM a group of new friends went up and tried it out for the first time. It was tricky given my height but the kind folks there gave a lot of direction. My execution wasn’t so good though. By the time I finished, I was able to pull myself up on the boogie board with my knees. Thanks to the crew working the FlowRider for the encouragement and patience! The rest of the afternoon until and including dinner was spent relaxing. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: JOHNNY BALANCE I was skeptical about staying up for the 8:30PM show as I wanted to be up early to see the ship into Honolulu. I went anyway and was surprised with how good he was. The opening set is a bit of juggling which itself is not so entertaining but when he moved to his magic tricks with slight of hand stuff, it was impressive. He also poked fun at some of the tricks recreating them in slow motion. His closing act of balancing items, especially the last one (not going to spoil it), is just downright awesome! Be sure to check out his show if he’s on your ship. Afterwards, the rest of the ship and I retired for what would be a long three days in Hawaii. DAY 16: HONOLULU, HAWAII The excitement of seeing land was too much for some on the ship and I was awakened by them at 5:30A. I did want to see the ship in from the balcony and a sunrise so it worked out. We were alongside about 6:30A. Immigration started at 8AM. For USA citizens, it was very easy. The queue stretched from the aft dining room to the forward elevators but moved along. They looked at the passport and then gave a sticker to show you’ve cleared customs. The international guests had a lengthier queue and theirs moved much slower. I did hear complaints about how long it took them to clear customs, especially those who waited. Tip: To clear customs first, be sure to have a tour booked and have proof on you when entering the dining room. RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: Explore and Taste Oahu’s North Shore Our tour meeting time was 8:30A but due to delays with international guests clearing immigration, we didn’t leave the theater until 9:15 or shortly thereafter. Our tour was split into two groups and put on smaller tour vehicles compared to motor coaches. Our first stop was in The Valley of the Temples and stopped at the Byodo Temple for about 30 minutes. It was enough time to get out and see the temple from outside and to go inside. You must remove your shoes to go inside. Seats are provided to put your shoes on and off. Next, we drove along the North Shore stopping at various beaches known for different things like surfing, snorkeling and marine life. We stopped at the China Man’s Hat for photos as well. Lunch was at a shrimp farm stand where we had the choice of various prawn dishes and a few non-seafood options. I tried the spicy prawns. I didn’t realize you had to peel them so I made a small mess when doing so. The lunch was great and dessert was offered of shaved ice or popsicles. The popsicle flavors ranged from odd to bizarre but I gave the Thai Tea popsicle a go and it was quite good. Next, we stopped at a beach the driver said would have some sea turtles at. There were plenty of turtles there! She said the usual stop wouldn’t have any so she brought us someplace else. Tip: Hawaiian law requires you remain at least 10 feet away from sea turtles or you can be fined. Respect marine life and use your zoom lens. The last stop on the tour was the Dole Plantation. Now this is where the tour went screwy. The driver guide told us we would be there for a span of time. She followed up this announcement by saying do not do the train and do not go into the maze. The maze was obvious because it would be too long if you got lost. Essentially this was a contrived shopping stop where you could also get Dole Whip, a pineapple soft serve. The problem was you had to wait in a horrendously long line as all the tour busses doing the north shore tours were in there together! The shop was a mad house. I went outside to get some photos of different pineapples before getting a photo taken in a display of them. There wasn’t much else to do unless you wanted to be in a pushing and shoving match inside the shop or queue for Dole Whip. Either more time should be given to this stop to enjoy the plantation and have a train ride or it should be cut from the tour completely. What I found odd was the tour guide said we started the tour late but she still got us back on time. If this were the case, what did she cut out to do that? The tour was good and the driver guide was great but the Dole Plantation needs to be looked at more. I would book it independently as E Noa Tours was along with us for most of the stops and much cheaper too. After a quick shower and change, it was off to the dining room. A lot of people did the the Germaine’s luau tonight so the Sapphire Dining Room was quiet. Domnic and Gede had the largest amount of guests show up in their section. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: HAWAIIAN FOLKLORIC SHOW For one show only at 7:15PM, RCCL brought aboard Halau Hula Olana School of Living Hula. It was a 45-minute presentation along with storytelling on the history of Hula, the stories behind each dance and a performance cast which included women of all ages from kids to older adults. All of them moved gracefully and smiled the entire time. It was a very good show and glad I stayed aboard to catch it. After the show ended I immediately went ashore taking an Uber to Waikiki beach for USD 13 from pier 2. Uber can pick up directly at the terminal, no need to stand out at the corner. I started my night out at the famous Dukes bar. It was crowded and getting a drink there to chill was next to impossible but persistence paid off. I went on Waikiki beach and dipped a toe in the water to say I had been. I next went off in search of LGBT bars. There were three I tried but for a Sunday night, only one was hopping. Bacchus bar served well in a Grey Goose bottle. I was not impressed and left. The best place on Sunday night was Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand. Located across from the zoo, it had an open-air concept and was playing music of today and some retro songs. The drinks were strong and reasonably priced. A lot of the ship turned up there as it spread that it was the most happening place on Waikiki Sunday night. I had to curtail my time there as I had an early tour to get up for. DAY 17: HONOLULU, HAWAII An early rise at 4:45AM led to the discovery the Cafe Promenade which was supposed to be open 24 hours did not have any breakfast foods to serve. The food was in the case but no one was around. I did find someone to give me a muffin but was told service didn’t begin until 6AM. I’m not sure how all the people getting up insanely early are finding food on this ship. INDEPENDENT EXCURSION: E NOA TOURS - PEARL HARBOR WITH ARIZONA MEMORIAL The scheduled pick up time was 5:45A and they were punctual. I got a phone call from the company as I was clearing ships gangway at the time saying they were there. After we stopped at the far end of Waikiki beach to pick up more people and headed off to Pearl Harbor Memorial. Upon arrival there was a bit of traffic trying to get into Pearl Harbor but the tour guide went to a different entrance. The tour allowed for 1.5 hours to explore the visitors center and exhibits before we needed to queue for the 8:30AM USS Arizona movie and boat ride. Unfortunately, the wharf had become separated over the weekend due to high winds and they were still assessing the safety of it so the ride only went alongside the Arizona, not onto the Memorial itself. After the boat ride was completed, it was off to the USS Missouri for a guided ship tour there. A brief 15-minute guided tour around the top deck by a worker showed us the spot where the cessation of war was signed by Japan and US forces. Afterward we had about 45 minutes to explore the Missouri. This didn’t and wasn’t enough time to check out all the exhibits there. On the way out of the Missouri was the USS Oklahoma Memorial. I ran out of time to properly look at this Memorial during the tour stop. We drove back to the bag check to retrieve the bags and it was off to Honolulu for a city tour. The last part of the tour was an overview of the sights in the downtown area along with the popular sights in Waikiki. The guests picked up after us were dropped off first since the tour concluded on Waikiki. The tour did run a little late due to traffic encountered but I was back on the ship by 2PM. INDEPENDENT SHORE EXCURSION: Magnum Helicopter The pickup time was at 3:30PM outside the terminal and the transfer arrived on time. Upon arrival at the helicopter building, I must’ve looked tense or like a ghost. The pilot introduced himself and asked if it was my first time flying. Once the safety briefing was completed, it was time for the flight. I was sat directly behind the pilot. The pilot always advised me of what was coming up and when he would swap sides so the folks on the other side could see whatever it was we looked at. It was a 50-minute exhilarating tour flying over the cruise ship, Waikiki to Diamond Crater and China Mans hat to Dole Plantation and the waterfalls in the north side of the island before looping back and heading over to Pearl Harbor and the US Naval base moth balled ships area. This tour was amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. You can book direct with them by visiting their website. They had me dropped back off the at the ship by 5:30PM. I showed up to the dining room about 1 hour later then usual. Ethel, the hostess, was able to seat me in Domnic and Gedes section. Dinner service was quick and tasty. However, during this dinner service the Captain came on and said our departure from Honolulu was delayed because of an azipod repair on the starboard side which was not completed on time. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Since the Radiance Cruise was cancelled due to an azipod issue, I truly wondered whether we would be stuck in Honolulu. The Captain said he expected us to be under way by midnight and we could go ashore. He came back on a few minutes later and said no one could go ashore as the security team had left the terminal building. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: COMEDIAN SCOTT HENRY A comedian always has to offend someone to make a joke. It’s the nature of the business. A lot of Australians didn’t care for his style of comedy and left. I was neither amused or unamused by his jokes. I did leave early simply because I couldn’t stay awake. One could say this entertainer mellowed me out to sleep. I wouldn’t recommend seeing him if something else is on. Unfortunately, the Explorer runs all the activities during the day so there’s nothing else to do when the entertainer at night stinks. I went to bed. When I awoke just after midnight for a brief bit, the ship was traversing the channel to leave Honolulu. Thank goodness! DAY 18: LAHAINA, HAWAII I woke up and we were still heading towards Maui. We had not arrived yet to the anchorage. It was just before 7AM. We arrived close to the time we were scheduled to and the crew wasted no time getting tenders in the water and going. I had a leisurely breakfast on the balcony and went ashore. The visitors center is to the right of the tender landing in Lahaina. At the visitors center they have lots of information on tours without the sales pitch you’ll encounter in town. They also have a map of Lahaina so you can do the walking tour. There’s over 40 points of interest and plaques around town. It takes a few hours to do it and you have plenty of places to rest along the way or shopping options too. Front street was the hub for shopping but if you rounded the corner and went up some side streets you’d find the same stuff cheaper. I returned to the ship on a tender around 2 to grab some lunch and shower for the luau. INDEPENDENT SHORE EXCURSION: OLD LAHAINA LUAU RCCL was offering a luau called Drums of the Pacific for this port call. According to Trip Advisor both luaus RCCL offered were not number one and each had comments about why. Old Lahaina luau was rated number one for luaus by Trip Advisor and AAA. The quality showed from the moment I arrived. They had live music going while we checked in. Once inside you were escorted to your seat and then were free to explore the different areas of the grounds. They had the fire pit, a net demonstration for how to catch fish, a children’s play area, an adult Polynesian game area and multiple photo areas with real back drops. The dancers performed an opening number before the food was ready. The buffet was very good. You could go up and get seconds if you wanted to. Pulled pork and steak were available. There was also an open bar with a selection of drinks to choose from on a menu. I tried the Chi Chi which was vodka, pineapple and coconut juice. I also tried the Blue Hawaii which had vodka, pineapple, sweet and sour and blue curaçao in it. Lastly, I tried the Green Passion featuring vodka, passion orange, sweet and sour, lime juice and Blue curaçao. Three desserts were presented afterward. After dinner was completed, the rest of the show commenced with five acts. The run time for the show was over 1 hour and the costuming, live musical entertainment and energy the dancers gave off was just astounding. This luau was a great way to finish my stay in Hawaii. I highly recommend it and it can be booked online or by calling. After the luau there was no rush to get back to the ship as the featured entertainment was a movie shown at two different times. I met up with some fellow cruisers and pub crawled our way back to the tender pier. Stops along the way included the Bad Monkey (good drinks, bad on service), a place where Fleetwood Mac drummer was playing (did not know and walked in and then was bounced out) and lastly the Down the Hatch bar and grill (fast service and good drinks). We waited until the second to last render to return to the ship. The group of us agreed to go check out the deck party which was running until midnight. Upon arrival there were only the nightclub regulars. The DJ was no where to be seen and his mix tape was on. Some party this must have been. I went up to see the ship off. Next time we would see land is disembarking in Seattle. I went up to Dizzys for a bit and then went to bed. DAY 19: SEA DAY It was the last day to get sun and the temperature had dropped a bit. I headed up to the usual Deck 13 forward spot and tried to get as close to the bulkhead as possible. The wind was relentless and the seas were kicked up. Eventually we sailed into some rain and that curtailed the last bit of sunning I would get this voyage. It was also one hour forward at noon and this pushed the time to 1. I was still exhausted from Hawaii so I took a nice afternoon nap. At dinner tonight the menu had repeated once more but Domnic made good suggestions on alternates to try. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: BOBBY ARVON Who? This entertainer (and I use the word loosely) was the guy who sang the opening number to the Happy Days tv series. Bobby let everyone know this was his claim to fame. His voice was horrid, either from performing too much or from smoking. Either way, it didn’t sound at all like how the opening to Happy Days sounded. Bobby proceeded to play Happy Days song over and over again with variations based on who would be singing it like Barry Manilow or Stevie Wonder. This entertainer was so boring I walked out. Unfortunately, since the entertainment on the ship is on early for all the elderly folks nothing was on besides karaoke. When I returned after looping the ship, Bobby then proceeded to murder a Boston hometown favorite Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. I walked out again and this time just sat at a bar waiting for Dizzys to open. Bobby was the worst entertainer of the cruise so far. The wait was grueling for Dizzys as it was Frank Sinatra hour there. This ship is stuck so far in the past it’s unreal. Most of the older folks are in bed after the first show is over! DAY 20: SEA DAY Another day at sea and another workout to be had. I didn’t do too much else. The weather outside was exceptionally cold and meant bundling up to walk the Promenade. It was a low key sea day. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: ELTON JOHN TRIBUTE - Craig Meyer A night over night improvement of entertainment. Craig didn’t sound exactly like Elton John but he did a passable job. When you know the lyrics, sometimes your mind can fill in the actual voice. He was very entertaining and good showmanship. I saw the second show and from what I heard he had a technical mishap in the first one. In the second show he shifted the piano when he tried to brace himself on it. He tried to shift it back but it didn’t move that much so the show went on. He is lucky he didn’t injure himself when that happened. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: ROCK BRITANNIA DANCE PARTY This show was for the Royal Promenade featuring the cruise staff. The 45 minute show featured song and dance numbers. It was good at getting the crowd involved. Children were engaged with blow up balloons so all ages were entertained. The after party was up in Dizzys. DAY 21: SEA DAY A leisurely day at sea included giving the ice skating a try. I would say it’s not something you should try out for the first time on a cruise ship which is moving in the ocean. I didn’t do too bad but also was hanging onto the side. You do sign a waiver for it so if you fall, that’s on you. There were three open skating sessions from 9-11AM, 1-3PM (as we did the one hour forward) and 4 to 6PM. I did the 4PM to 6PM session after stopping in to ask questions during the 1-3PM session. I found some of the nightclub folks at the Dodgeball game and they came along too for the 4PM session. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: HAYDEN SMITH FINALLY! Hayden Smith was a variety entertainer, both good with instruments and with his singing. He was the BEST guest entertainer of the whole cruise and his wife Alexa Jayne performed some moving theater anthems. I wished I had caught their earlier show as well. The second show which I attended went a bit longer as they didn’t have time constraints but they did an amazing job. Rightfully so they received a standing ovation and people wanted an encore. While they didn’t oblige it, this speaks volumes to just how good they were and how starved we as audience members were for a good show! I decided to give Dizzy’s a go. It was an ok night. The DJ stayed around and actually mixed songs for a change and played a wide variety. The Aussies love their Macarena and Nut Bush dance (Tina Turner)! It’s amazing how when the Macarena comes on it gets more people on the dance floor compared to the Cupid Shuffle. DAY 22: SEA DAY A leisurely day at sea meaning another workout as it was too cold outside to do too much. It started with 10 laps around the Promenade deck and up to the gym. With it being colder, there’s more seminars scheduled for the fitness center stretching area so it has become a challenge to find time to stretch. Busi was nice about it and would let me stay in the back corner but the other fitness trainer from Portugal didn’t care where you were in there, she wanted you out of there. Given how much they scheduled the room for and for what few people showed up, her reaction was overkill. The only reason why the ship was so quiet and the gym was dead was because there was a 1:15PM show of Karaoke Superstar Finals, Michael Jackson Dance Performance and the Guest Choir. It was something arranged on the sea days for guests to participate in and rehearse for. Today was the big day. I completely spaced on the event and by the time I knew what was going on, I had missed it completely. I did take advantage of the empty buffet to enjoy a meal without being coughed on or shoved so someone else could get food. I spent the afternoon relaxing and bundled up on the balcony before dinner. I was determined to get some usage out of it even though the air temperature was hovering around 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius. It was another night of great service in the Sapphire with service from Domnic and Gede. It was also our last formal night on the ship. I had two dinners tonight. The first was at the usual slot of 5:30PM which I had the Cesar Salad and the lobster tail. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: MAGIAIN LEO WARD I saw the early show at 6:30PM and there was a kid in the front row who kept on distracting the performer. Leo was not pleased with this and let the whole audience know but it didn’t seem to phase the parents too much because they kept the kid in the front row and the kid kept interrupting. I felt bad for the magician, illusionist because in one of his tricks the sword got stuck in the box and the trick was timed to an audio track. The track finished and the big reveal wasn’t anywhere near to being complete. Leo definitely seem frustrated with some parts of the performance but barring technical issues, he was not bad in comparison to some of the other dodgy performers we’d had this cruise. It was back to the dining room for an 8PM reservation with the nightclub crew. We decided it was best to have one night where we would meet up and just have a leisurely dinner talking. This time around I had the prime rib and asked for an end cut. They did have an end cut piece available and it was quite tasty cooked medium. Tonight the cooks presented themselves to the dining room and were happily cheered on as they came through. I was going to try and catch the Darkest Hour in the theater but that didn’t work out. I ended up back up at Dizzy’s nightclub for a bit. It was Dizzy’s or nothing else at this point so if you didn’t like the music, you just had to drink more until you did! DAY 23: SEA DAY It was Mother’s Day and after a late start, I had lunch with my neighbors with the final one hour ahead of the cruise. We dined in the Sapphire Restaurant and then I took them on the tour of parts of the ships they had not seen. They were part of the needlework group on the ship. All their sea days were spent with the group and tutors learning about things they were passionate about. It was nice they had such a group organized for the sea days but you had to book through the travel agency to take advantage of it. I showed them the Sports Deck with the mini-golf, basketball court and the Flow Rider. I also showed them how to get to the helipad which was open during the entire cruise – day and night! I was busy packing and missed the Royalpallooza Parade on the Royal Promenade just before the 5:30PM seating happened. From what I was told I didn’t miss much anyway. It was at a really odd time and it must’ve lasted only 15 minutes as when I went through the Promenade at my assigned time they were dismantling the props for it. The final night in the Sapphire Dining room meant saying goodbye to a great team of people including Ethel, the hostess who helped me out this cruise, Domnic and Gede. The assistant waiters including Gede did a song for us to send us off. I also thanked Carlos, the restaurant section supervisor for helping get messages back and forth to a couple whose table I took over much earlier in the cruise. They were really nice and it was nice to keep in touch. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: FAREWELL VARIETY SHOWTIME featuring Bruce Gold I went to the late show at 8:30PM. I gave it a go and lasted until the comedian came on. He said a few things and then I decided the sunset on the bow of the ship was far more important. I had only caught the last two days of sunsets, so I wanted to make it memorable and the cloud condition was favorable. I did pop back in and see the singers performing a number. However, I was then informed marine life was spotted and went back out to the deck. Sea lions were popping up and it also looked like a pod of dolphins as well. We were just turning into the channel between Canada and Washington State when this was going on. The sunset was amazing and it was a more fitting end to the cruise. After the sun had set it was time to go back and put the suitcases out. Unlike other cruise lines, RCCL wants the suitcases out by 10PM. I went around the ship and said goodbye to people I had met along the way and catching the 60 seconds or less game show. It didn’t seem all that exciting so I said goodbye and headed off to bed. I had an early rise for a shore excursion the next morning and a long day so I wanted to be well rested. DAY 24: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DISEMBARKATION RCCL SHORE EXCURSION: EMERALD CITY AND TILLICUM VILLAGE I had a red eye flight so I booked the longest tour option from RCCL and it was the Emerald City and Tillicum Village. It had some of the primary highlights in the tour like the Space Needle and the Pike’s Market to visit so I figured it was worth it. However, just after sailing from Hawaii I received a phone call saying the village portion was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the ship. When the revised itinerary showed up, it was a boxed lunch on the motor coach and not the fish bake at the village. I thought this was some sort of bait and switch by them but since the RCCL shore excursions were not overly impressive to begin with and I did not have the ability to independently book something this close in, I kept the tour. Not a lot of people did it. The tour bus was not full by any means. We were off the ship and onto the tour bus about 9AM. Two people had missed the tour bus but caught up with us in Pike’s Market. We started the tour by going to Botanical Gardens and seeing the locks we would later traverse. The next stop was the Seattle Space Needle which was under construction and then it was off to Pike’s Market. We were given until noon to get back on the bus and everyone did. The city tour consisted of going to visit spheres Amazon had built. It seemed more like a tour about the big corporations of the city versus the history of it. We were brought to the locks cruise terminal at the wharves along the waterfront. The locks cruise took about 1.5 hours and we sailed through the lock we saw earlier in the day. The tour then took us by the sports stadiums before we started the hotel drop offs for guests staying in the city. The remainder of us were taken to the airport and dropped around 4:30PM. The tour was something to do but felt I paid way too much for what was given. In closing, this was my first non-chartered Royal Caribbean cruise and I was impressed with the dining team in the Windjammer and especially Domnic and Gede in the Sapphire Dining Room. Christopher Hy and the other housekeeper down the hallway on the starboard side forward section were both a pleasure to interact with during the cruise. The bar staff in the R Bar, Marcela (a bar server from Brazil in the Palace Theater) and the Dizzy’s bar team of Made and Ferdinand were always enjoyable to chat with, even if you didn’t buy a drink in that moment. The service from these individuals made the cruise what it was. Anyone of these individuals could easily be in the cruise staff team as each had a sociable personality and did a far better job of engaging me then any of the cruise staff besides Veronica (who got on in Fiji) did. The biggest negative I had about the Explorer was the entertainment, cruise director and staff and most disappointing was the lazy DJ Tony. Entertainment is a big part of what makes up a cruise for me. The Cruise Director misjudged the amount of young people on the ship and failed to engage programming for us leaving a crappy nightclub as a last resort. The DJ was the worst I’ve ever experienced and became flippant with guests after a number of us reported his lazy behavior. I’ve never wanted a crew member fired before but this guy does not belong on a cruise ship, perhaps a retirement home disco but not a cruise ship. Walking off for long periods of time, sitting on the stairs, demanding tips for requests and playing the same 70s mix tape night after night is not the way to get people to drink or have fun. Botching the young cruisers mingle on the first and second night by playing 50s music only hurt the age demographic coming together at the start. It was a comedy of errors led by the Cruise Director not keeping up with his staff. Graham seemed more focused on the elite cruisers then he was on anyone else. He tried mid-cruise to address my concerns, but it was already too little, too late to fix the missteps. I do give him partial credit for trying. For a 23-day cruise, I had 34 drinks and a bill less then $200. Had the nightclub been better and the evening entertainment more engaging, my bar bill would’ve been considerably worse. I’m not sure I would try Royal Caribbean again any time soon unless the itinerary were really right. Norwegian Cruise Line is a far better cruise line for solos and LGBT cruisers. You don’t have to scavenger hunt to find the LGBT meet up spot and you don’t have to dine in the middle of the day following one-hour forward to meet solo cruisers. RCCL has a long way to go to woo either of these segments based on my impressions of this cruise and if you fit either of these, I would suggest steering clear of the Explorer of the Seas. Read Less
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