As the number of Australian passengers taking a cruise grows seemingly without any limitation, ships are in turn growing to meet the masses. Explorer of the Seas, which sails under the Royal Caribbean flag, is the largest ship ever based in Australian waters.
I have travelled with Royal Caribbean on two previous occasions and as the world’s second largest cruise line, they are a slick, professional operation which delivers a fun, entertaining and youthful approach to cruising, catering to the young through to the young-at-heart.
The embarkation process was noticeably fast this time around, perhaps because the ship had been in port since the night before on this occasion, so had been cleared by local authorities earlier and was therefore able to spend more time disembarking passengers from the previous cruise. Saying goodbye to more than 3,000 people and hello to more than 3,000 more in the space of a few hours is an exercise in military-like precision. Like most cruises, a passenger’s stateroom is not always ready immediately on arrival so bags are checked in while necessary items for that day should be carried personally, such as essential medications and swim gear. The weather was great on embarkation and the pools were full.
Modern cruise ships are exemplary in being able to make use of every possible square inch and the staterooms on Explorer of the Seas are no exception.
Explorer’s staterooms offer a comfortable king bed which can be split into two single beds if required. A large television sits directly in front and can be pulled out ever-so-slightly from its wall mount and rotated to face the adjacent couch. A small desk with tea/coffee facilities runs along one wall.
There is ample space for storage, with no less than 15 different drawers, shelves and compartments. The balcony is actually quite spacious, with plenty of room to move into one of the chairs and making for a fairly comfortable place to watch the sea drift by while reading a book.
Passengers usually take a little longer to adjust to the size of the bathroom, which is typically minimal in size. The basic shower, toilet and vanity is all there along with more storage space, however it still feels very tight. The hair dryer is located inside one of the compartments out in the main part of the room, not in the bathroom itself and so changing clothes and drying hair should be done outside of the bathroom just for the extra space.
Any more than two people into one of these basic staterooms would be a squeeze, but they still provide everything one needs to sleep. With so much going on throughout the ship, the stateroom shouldn’t really become your main hangout.
In plentiful supply around the ship and delivered to your cabin each night is the Cruise Compass – Royal Caribbean’s daily round-up of what is scheduled for the following day. Fold it up and keep it with you in your pocket or handbag for easy reference. Unless you’ve found a great lounger poolside and still in handy access to the bar, the biggest question you’ll ask yourself each day is ‘Where do i go next’? This guide will often answer that question.