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Copyright 1995-2004 
Linda Coffman

 

Explorer of the Seas
June 20-27, 2004 
Western Caribbean

by Susan & Frank Maher

This was a 7-day cruise to Western Caribbean: Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. We had been to the Western Caribbean before, but went on this one because it was on Explorer of the Seas and it went to Belize, which was a new place for us. Frankly, we just needed a vacation... and in line with that, I booked my massage immediately! 

As we live in Florida, we drove to Miami arriving at 10:45am. They let us upstairs to the boarding area at 11am. By 12:30pm we were on the ship having coffee. Boarding was a breeze. Security was tight (Thank You!). Next time we can take advantage of the Crown & Anchor Society boarding area. 

We were allowed in our rooms at 1pm. I was very happy to see a very nice and CLEAN room with a sizeable balcony and no obstructions. The bathroom was excellent-nice sized shower. I took a Cruise Diva tip about bringing the hanging shoebag for all of our shower/bath accessories and it worked out great! Everything was organized, clean and off the bathroom countertop.

By about 2:30pm our luggage arrived. We had time to unpack before muster at 4pm. After muster, we walked around this incredible ship; went to the dining room to check out our table. We had a private table for 2 which was a real nice surprise. I booked this cruise through RCCL directly and the representative asked me if I wanted a table for 2 if she could get one. I never thought we'd be so lucky! It was wonderful.

We had main seating at dinner and met with our waiter Mariano and the assistant waiter Mauricio. Both were top notch waiters and a lot of fun too. They treated us exceptionally well. The food was very good. I bought the cookbook and am trying out some recipes.

This was the first cruise we'd been on where the Head Waiter actually made herself known before tipping time. Inga our Head Waiter was a blessing. She catered to us every night, fixing our desserts herself, bringing us every dessert with chocolate on the menu for my husband and catering to our every need. When we left Inga we truly felt we were leaving family. 

Explorer has an ice skating rink and they put on an ice show which is not to be missed. In fact, almost all of the entertainment was really good. We don't usually go to the shows but this time we did. I don't think we missed one. Revolution, an Australian Beatles-like band was terrific. 

On the 5th floor, Explorer has a Parisian type of street with cafes, bars and duty free shops. Looking up, are interior staterooms, but this is so well designed it looks like apartments on a street in Paris. Of course, the interior staterooms have curtains on the windows for privacy. But what a great way to tie in functionality to the design of the ship. Well done, RCCL.

There is also miniature golf on the 12th floor near the rock-climbing wall, in-line skating rink and basketball court. The miniature golf could have been a little better designed...maybe loop the holes around the other activities and make the surface sturdier. 

The gym and spa are excellent. The massage was wonderful. We were at the gym every day after breakfast and then hit the pool area. We never had a problem getting lounges at the pool. Even on at sea days... we did notice that if you came poolside at 11am, it would be more difficult. This ship had 3500 people on board and we never really noticed it... until... MIDNIGHT BUFFET time. 

RCCL had two cocktail parties for repeaters and they were both well received. My only suggestion would be that the second cocktail party be tied into a smaller scale midnight buffet gig (the same evening as the normal one) so the repeaters would not have to be hoarded in with the rest of the people who have never seen the artwork in food as is displayed. It would also serve to lessen the crowd a little besides giving a very nice incentive for Crown and Anchor Society membership.

As for Belize, we took the zoo excursion and it was good. Bring a lot of water before you go on this as it is quite hot walking around. Belize is a poor area so don't expect to see much unless you snorkel or scuba dive. 
Costa Maya was very nice. We stayed onboard at Cozumel and Grand Cayman is gorgeous and a great shopping area.

We are so pleased with Explorer that we are planning a cruise in the spring with some family members. I can't speak highly enough of this ship, the crew and the fantastic time they provided us. Thanks RCCL.

Photo courtesy of Kvaerner Masa-Yards


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