As promised this part of the ships tour deals mainly with the Pool Deck and Sports Deck . There are not many public rooms on decks 6-10. The Next Cruise Centre is on Six, the Library and Card Room on Seven and the Online Centre on Eight but mostly these decks are staterooms. We did visit the Library a few times but didn’t find it very well stocked. There were four sets of Mah Jongg which were always in use. We never knew Mah Jongg was so popular, or so noisy. Shuffling all those tiles makes a lot of noise. We went to play Scrabble but on the first day there were only two sets, on our next visit there was only one and the set was incorrect as it had too many of some tiles. After our third visit that set disappeared completely and we had to use Naomi’s Magnetic Travel Scrabble which has really tiny pieces. There was a jigsaw puzzle or two and they had Twister, a strange game to play in a library. If anyone from Royal Caribbean is reading this you need to get more games.
The Online Access Centre had several computers but as the ship has wi-fi all over now I wonder if they really need it. Perhaps for people to upload photos but we were told that the wi-fi was slow and intermittent at sea and it certainly was expensive. We did not expect to spend a lot of time online so while we’d have been happy to pay by the hour for what we used we did not think an expensive internet package was good value for money.
So we’ll continue in the glass elevators that travel up the centre of the ship to Deck 11. Our first stop on Deck 11 was always the Windjammer Marketplace for breakfast. This is the casual dining restaurant and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a buffet and there are two big sections so there is room for everyone to serve themselves. We were usually up early so we did not often find it crowded. It had a huge variety of things to eat including some I would not have thought of eating for breakfast. While at home I am usually happy with toast, onboard ship we had the choice of scrambled, fried, poached or boiled eggs, several different kinds of sausages, bacon, cereal, porridge, fruit, pancakes or Danish. My favourites were the little English sausages with either fried eggs and bacon or scrambled eggs. I did see some donuts too but I couldn’t quite get my head round the idea of eating chocolate donuts for breakfast. Some days I had fruit to have something healthy. I think the thing with buffets, and we saw a lot of people doing this, is that you don’t have to pile your plate high. Just eat the amount you would normally eat. The Windjammer was open right up until around 11am for breakfast so sometimes if we’d eaten before 7 am we’d pop back in around 10:30 am for a cup of tea and a Danish for morning tea. By this time we would have probably walked around the deck on the walking track a few times and were ready for a snack. Naomi did several laps every day, sometimes morning and night, I had some trouble with my ankle so did not get as much walking done. We would also go up to Deck 12 and play mini golf and later discovered the table tennis tables.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Deck 11 has the Windjammer, the main pool deck and the Solarium. The main pool deck has hot tubs as well as two larger pools. The big movie screen is up there and at night sometimes people would watch movies in the tub. There were often activities like aqua aerobics in one of the pools and competitions like Officers v Passengers volleyball or the infamous Belly Flop contest. We are not joiners so we usually looked for somewhere quieter when these things were on. Often there would be a band on the Pool Deck as well and both the main pool area and the Solarium had bars.
The Solarium is an adults only area. It has hot tubs and is partly enclosed so it offers shelter from the sun and wind. It is quieter than the main pool deck too as there was no music so we enjoyed sitting there and sometimes took our puzzle books, reading material and so on up there when we wanted to relax. Later in the cruise more people started using it and we had to find another place but for the first few sea days we had no trouble finding a good spot. We also liked the soft serve machine in the main pool area where you could help yourself to a frozen yoghurt during the day.
Also on Deck 11 was Chops Grille, another specialty restaurant. We had a good steak dinner there one night.
Deck 12 is the Sports Deck and has the walking/jogging track, mini golf, rock climbing wall, table tennis, Flow Rider surf simulator and a court where people could play basketball, volleyball etc.
Adventure Ocean the video arcade is on that deck as well. There is a dedicated children’s area too where the few children on board seemed to spend a lot of their time. Passing Adventure Ocean and going towards the stern we found an area with table tennis tables which was a shady place to sit and on the other side Johnny Rockets Diner.
Johnny Rockets is fun. It’s decor is retro although I think it is more a 70s style diner than a 50s one. The menu is hamburgers, hot dogs, club sandwiches and sundaes or apple pie for dessert. It is a specialty restaurant, you have to pay but you don’t have to book and the cost of $7.95 for your main course and dessert is very reasonably. In addition you get the floor show. Every now and then the waiting staff stop what they are doing and go into a dance routine miming to a record, usually either “Love Shack” or “YMCA” by The Village People. Most staff members on Explorer of the Seas seem to dance to YMCA at the drop of a hat as we saw it done at Promenade parties as well. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of them doing this as I didn’t have the camera handy when we went for lunch.
At the other end of the ship there is another bar, the Sky Bar, and the Vitality Spa and Fitness Centre. There you could use the gym equipment and even have the services of a personal trainer for a fee. There was a hair salon and the beauty salon offered such services as tooth whitening, also for a fee. I don’t know about you but I don’t go on holidays to get my teeth whitened. We gave this area a wide berth.
There are still a few odd corners of the ship I haven’t shown you yet but as this post is already rather long I’ll save them for another time. Look out soon for the first post about New Zealand. I am looking forward to sharing it with you all.