Explorer of the Seas…Changes

The Explorer of the Seas will be going in for a major refurbishing after Royal Caribbean introduces Quantum of the Seas near the end of 2014. 

Having been on Explorer of the Seas, we have five unsolicited suggestions on what to change — and five on what not to change — when this beautiful, 13-year-old ship gets a facelift.

What not to change:

1. Stairway of the Stars: As artwork on ships goes, this is fascinating for our demographic. It was not just photos and artifacts of "stars" like Bruce Springsteen, the McCartneys and The Rolling Stones, it was also items like a self-portrait by Peter Falk and paintings by Herb Alpert.

2. Promenade: It's not likely to change much because it's a staple on Royal Caribbean ships now and it (almost) always gives you an idea exactly where you are on the ship, and it exposes the heart of the ship from several perches on the floors above.

3. Ice Rink: Having an ice rink on a cruise ship is cool and, besides being a double-entendre, that makes it unique in the industry.

4. Quality of food and servers: We ate in the main "My Time" dining room every night on this 9-day cruise…because that's where we wanted to be. The servers — Tankica Gogova and Vivek Golsalves — became friends and the head waiter (Balachandran Sankaranutty) was exceptional. The food was so good we didn't dare take a chance on missing the new items each night.

5. A changing day-of-the-week inserted in carpet in elevator: Hey, it's a small thing, but doesn't everybody forget what day it is when you're on a cruise?

What to change:

1. Spanish omelette on the breakfast menu in the dining room: This creation is eggs, potatoes and onion…no ham, no peppers, no spices. Even in Spain, they call that a potato omelette. One of the staff said "Don't have it" — too late.

2. Room 9514, and any others like it: This room is directly below the bridge, on the starboard side, which is fine. It has an ocean-view window and if you walk over to take a look at the view, anybody over five feet tall is certain to bump your head on the curved ceiling.

3. Internet: Always an issue on cruise ships, this one only had hot spots and, in this day and age, having it everywhere on the ship is becoming the common practice. As an aside, and this doesn't apply just to Explorer of the Seas, don't you wonder if cruise staff who depend on Internet connections, too, have the same slow speed as passengers who pay 75 cents a minute? Just wondering…

4. Televisions: This is certainly a no-brainer, because almost nobody has what one Explorer staffer said his daughter called "fat TVs" nowadays. The fat shall become flat. However, when the renovators get rid of the old TVs, they should make sure that access to CNN doesn't go with them.

5. Window tables for two: For those of us who enjoy "My Time Dining" and who enjoy each other's company because cruising is not a mission to make new friends, getting stuck under a staircase or against the back wall at every meal is unacceptable when there are many tables for four not being used by the windows.

Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas
7 nights
July 7, 2013
Seattle (return): Juneau, Skagway, Tracy Arm, Victoria
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $114

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