Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Royal Caribbean International
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

In 2000, Explorer of the Seas was the second of five Voyager-class ships to be introduced. Like sister ships, Explorer will also be upgraded to receive more features in 2014, including an outdoor movie screen poolside, an updated wine bar, casual Park Café, Italian specialty restaurant, digital signage, lounges for elite past passengers, and a new nursery.Read More

A truly impressive building program introduced one of these gigantic Voyager-class ships per year over a five-year period. With their rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, in-line skating tracks, miniature golf, and multiple dining venues, they are destinations in their own right. Sports enthusiasts will be thrilled with nonstop daytime action.

The unusual horizontal, multiple-deck promenade-atriums on Voyager-class vessels can stage some of the pageantry for which Royal Caribbean is noted. Fringed with boutiques, bars, and even coffee shops, the mall-like expanses set the stage for evening parades and events, as well as spots to simply kick back for some people watching.

Other public rooms are equally dramatic. Though it’s considered to be three separate dining rooms, the triple-deck height of the single space is stunning. These ships not only carry a lot of people, but carry them well. Space is abundant, and crowding is seldom an issue.

Big, bigger, biggest! Royal Caribbean has the largest modern mega cruise liners in the world, as well as some of the most innovative technology on its newest ships, from robot bartenders to the fastest Wi-Fi at sea. Its fleet of 25 and counting are all-around favorites of passengers—arguably the most multigenerational (and Millennial) crowd at sea—who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Each ship in the fleet has action-packed activities such as surfing pools, rock-climbing walls, and on the newest ships, skydiving simulators, and 10-story slides.

Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.

  • 14 passenger decks
  • 1 specialty restaurant (2 on Mariner and Navigator), dining room, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Internet, Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
  • 3 pools, children’s pool (only Voyager, Explorer, and Adventure)
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 12 bars, casino, 2 dance clubs, library, 3 showrooms, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • dry-cleaning, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
Royal Promenade may elicit the biggest “Wow!” onboard when a parade is center stage
Professional ice-skating performances are staged twice during each cruise
Equipment to participate in sports activities is provided at no additional charge
With the exception of the gym and some fitness classes, nearly everything else onboard carries a price tag
Although there is no charge to attend, you must get tickets for the ice-skating shows
Smokers may be frustrated to find that smoking is prohibited in cabins, on balconies, and in most indoor areas

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Amenities
Accessibility

As on other Royal Caribbean ships, cabins are bright and cheerful. Although more than 60% are outside—and a hefty 75% of those have private verandas—there are still plenty of bargain inside cabins, some with a bowed window for a view overlooking the action-packed promenade. Cabins in every category have adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage and bathroom shelves. Junior suites have a seating area, vanity area, and bathroom with bathtub. Family ocean-view cabins with a window sleep up to six people and can accommodate a roll-away bed and/or crib, have two twin beds (convertible to a queen), and additional bunk beds in a separate area, a separate seating area with a sofa bed, a vanity area, and a private bathroom with shower.

Wood cabinetry, a small refrigerator-minibar, broadband Internet connection, a vanity-desk, a TV, a safe, a hair dryer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical Voyager-class features in all categories. Bathrooms have shampoo and bath gel.

Twenty-six staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

Triple-deck-high formal dining rooms serve open seating breakfast and lunch; dinner is served in two evening assigned seatings or open seating My Timing Dining. For a more upscale dinner, each ship has an Italian specialty restaurant; Mariner and Navigator also have a steak house. Both specialty restaurants charge a supplement and require reservations. The casual Lido buffet offers service nearly around the clock for meals and snacks, including dinner; Mariner, Explorer, and Navigator also serve Asian fare in their Jade section. Johnny Rockets is a popular option for casual meals, though it also has a separate charge. In the promenade are a pizzeria, coffee bar, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which charges for frozen treats. All but Mariner have Park Café, which serves casual fare. Room service is available 24 hours; however, there is a delivery charge after midnight.

Entertainment

Nightlife runs the gamut from Broadway-style production shows to bars and lounges that include a piano bar, pub, wine bar, and disco, and on Mariner and Navigator, a Latin-themed bar. Music abounds for dancing or listening, or you can choose to end the evening with a movie on the outdoor screen overlooking the pool.

Spa & Fitness

The full-service spa operated by Steiner Leisure offers an extensive treatment menu including facials, tooth whitening, body wraps and scrubs, massages, acupuncture, and FDA-approved Medi-Spa treatments performed by trained physicians. Spa rituals also include treatments designed especially for men and teens. While there are no thermal suites, complimentary saunas and steam rooms are located in men’s and women’s changing rooms.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
2000
Number of Cabins
1,557
Passenger Capacity
3,114(3,835 max)
Crew Members
1,185
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.63
Gross Tons
142000
Width
158 feet
Length
1,020 Feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/539–6000 or 800/327–6700

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