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Ponders adventure on Explorer of the Seas.

Explorer of the Seas – May 2015
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It was with great excitement I arrived at Southampton for my mini cruise experience to Paris and Bruges aboard Royal Caribbeans Explorer of the Seas. In my time in travel I had seen a few P&O and Fred Olsen ships but I was told the real WOW factor should definitely be experienced with Royal Caribbean.
We had stayed at a hotel in Southampton the night before which I would highly recommend as it definitely takes the stress out of travelling down the morning of your embarkation. We left our car with a lovely local man David Cookson (details on request) who stored our car in a secure garage and took us and our luggage to the port, on return we called him at 7am and within 20 minutes he had arrived to collect us – hassle free and all for £20!!
On arrival at Southampton, initially once through security I thought the queue to check in looked horrendous but it moved very quickly and as long as you have filled out your Sea Pass documentation check in is smooth and quick.
On entering the ship – it certainly was a WOW moment for me!! The Atrium is spectacular and really beautiful and the glass elevators were wonderful for spectating what was going on in the ship, with the added extra of having a removable part of the carpet which changes every morning to show the day – a little something that made me giggle!!
Explorer is a very large ship carrying up to 3800 passengers, however with the different range of public areas it never felt overly busy or crowded at any time which was nice.
Our cabin was an Inside cabin overlooking the Royal Promenade which I was initially nervous about but I was pleasantly surprised at the size – adequate room for 2 friends sharing and I also thought facing onto the Promenade may feel a bit like we were overlooked but I felt complete privacy – helped by the fact we were quite high up I think. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend an Inside Cabin at all with the mini fridge, TV and 24 hour room service.
The main focus of the ship has to be the Royal Promenade where plenty of time can be spent strolling and looking at all the shops, restaurants and bars there. On the last night there was a particularly good steel band there serenading us while we sipped our pre dinner drinks.
Up on deck, once again, there is plenty of space and sunbeds so it never felt crowded – there was always some place to escape if it got a bit noisy!! For kids the pools and waterslides can keep them amused all day long.
As well and the Royal Promenade Explorer also boasts an ice rink, basketball court, mini golf, 200 feet Rock Wall (I was quite happy just to spectate), spa and fitness centre, 3D Movie Theatre, plus the more traditional West-style End Theatre and last but by no means least the FlowRider Surfing Simulator where you are faced with 60000 gallons of water to show off your boogie board and surfing skills (again I was a happy spectator)!!
The requisite excursions were offered in both Paris and Bruges – mainly opportunities to explore the cities. These were priced from around £80-£105 per person.
Now to the best bit – the food!! We spent the first evening in Chops Grille where I had possibly the best Scallops, Steak and Red Velvet Cheesecake I have ever tasted. I would highly recommend a visit here at least one of your evenings.
The other two nights were spent in the main dining room which is rather large with possibly one of the largest chandeliers afloat!! Here we were sat on different tables both nights which added to the enjoyment as we got to meet different people. It is by no means fine dining in here but there is a good choice and the food was very pleasant. Breakfast and lunch were spent at the Windjammer Café – a casual, informal venue with a great choice of food from all over the world.
In all venues the service is quick and good and the staff very friendly.
After dinner the most taxing thing is to decide where to pop for a nightcap – there are many different venues to choose from – the sophisticated Connoisseur Club, the traditional English pub Crown and Kettle, the Sports Bar if you want to check the latest scores plus many more.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my time aboard the Explorer and was definitely ‘WOWED’ by my experience. I would quite happily board her again and because of the diverse range of activities would feel more than happy taking both my 5 year old son and 82 year old Dad with me!!

Top Booking Tips.
1. Before you book your cabin make sure you fully understand which basis / promotion it is booked on. For instance we were All Inclusive and it wasn’t until I asked on board I realised this was just house wine, beer and soft drinks but no prosecco, spirits or cocktails so we upgraded on board, however, this may have been cheaper to do before we travelled so if you want to upgrade it may save you some money.
2. It is definitely worth pre-booking speciality restaurants, West End shows and excursions before you go (this can be done via Manage My Booking online.) This does involve a bit of forward planning but it is worth it to save time and money and also to ensure you get what you want. This can be done 180 to 4 days before you cruise but the sooner the better.
3. Once your booking is made you are able to log into it and fill out all pre-cruise information including your Sea Pass. My advice would be to do this and print off all relevant documentation before embarkation as it will speed up your check in process.

 

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