Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas has called Southampton home this year after undergoing a huge multi-million pound refurbishment. I was invited onboard this revitalised ship to see the new-ship features like virtual balcony staterooms, luxurious Royal Suite and surf simulator.
The Royal Promenade is a staple for Royal Caribbean (renamed the Esplanade on Quantum Class), a dazzling walkway stretching down the spine of the ship and connecting all the public areas.
Amongst the stylish boutiques and bars is the ‘Crown & Kettle‘, a charming English themed pub that already proved to be a hit with guests.
I really liked the dramatic design of ‘R Bar‘ with its plush purple chairs and quirky patterns, this would certainly be one of my stop-off’s for a pre-dinner tipple.
Left: Entrance to the Star Lounge. Right: The glitzy Las Vegas-like lift area.
After exploring the public areas of the Promenade, I had a taste of life at sea for those of you not sparing any expense – the Royal Suite! Greeted with a piano, private bar and open plan living area, the Royal Suite is everything you’d expect and more.
One of my favourite features was the jacuzzi/bath on the private balcony which I can only imagine being the perfect spot to enjoy a sail away.
There’s an elegant bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and huge marble bathroom (with mirrored ceiling) to pamper yourself in.
Snapping out of dream land, there’s still a great variety of comfortable, well-equipped staterooms for those with a budget in mind. From ‘panoramic oceanview‘ to a ‘balcony stateroom’, the options are impressive!
Explorer really lives up to its name in many of these rooms as you can see the world from the comfort of your own lounger, bed or armchair. As mentioned, many of the ship’s accommodation has been given a stylish makeover, below is one of the virtual balcony’s in a windowless interior stateroom…
It’s a really clever way to bring the outside-in and gives guests something else to enjoy over their morning cup of tea or coffee. I also had chance to explore an accessibility stateroom on Deck 13 (number: 1814) for those requiring the extra space.
The ship was due to set sail for sixteen nights around Mediterranean, so the outdoor pool and bar area (below) is sure to be a real hotspot in the days to follow.
Johnny Rockets, a family-friendly American Diner with juicy burgers and tempting milkshakes.
From rock climbing and table tennis tournaments to mini golf and surfing, there’s plenty of activities to enjoy on Explorer for the young and young-at-heart. The Flowrider is one of Royal Caribbean’s biggest assets where you can attempt to boogie board or surf the raging torrent or cheer on your fellow shipmates.
I’ve always found Royal Caribbean to be excellent at offering something for all ages and lifestyles. If you’re not the adventurous type or like some downtime, the onboard spa is extensive and includes a hair salon and private treatment rooms.
Following an afternoon of thrills, spills or relaxing, there’s a wonderful variety of restaurants to choose from, including of course the Windjammer Marketplace buffet. I dined at Giovanni’s Table, an exquisite Italian restaurant on Deck 5.
For my main course I opted for the spinach and ricotta cannelloni with added bolognese sauce. The steaming crêpes were oozing with soft cheese – so good I almost forgot to leave room for dessert!
Creamy coffee cake with a dark chocolate crisp – Giovanni’s Table
The onboard facilities and refreshed design has a familiar feel to that of Independence of the Seas – a favourite amongst many Brits.
Take a look at my Explorer ship video below: