|Kuki's daily accounts aboard the Explorer of the Seas.|
|Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Days 4 & 5 | Days 6 & 7 | Day 8|
We slept in late today, as promised. It was almost 11 a.m. by the time I headed up to the Lido Deck for my first cup of coffee. It seemed most people onboard had the same idea, and were arriving about the same time. The Windjammer Cafe was set up with four identical buffet stations, easily accommodating the fairly sizable crowds. Once again, food quality and selection was very good. If this improvement is true throughout the fleet, RCI has certainly made great strides in this area.
One thing I found disturbing was the limited availability of tables for al fresco dining. There are only six tables on either side of the ship for this purpose, so passengers are almost forced to eat inside. This is surprising to see on the largest ship in the world.
The weather today was warm and sunny, but there was a pretty stiff breeze across the open decks. This limited some activities like rock climbing (at least that was my excuse) and miniature golf. The sports deck was a busy place, with basketball games and contests scheduled through much of the day. There is even computerized full-swing golf available, where one can play a simulated game on some of the world's top golf courses.
Line dancing and Electric Slide dance lessons by the pool seemed surprisingly well attended. This was followed up later in the afternoon with belly flop contests, and RCI's trademark horse racing and horse auction. Prices got fairly high, and since Mrs. Kuki and I hadn't had the opportunity to form any kind of syndicate with other passengers, we watched from the sidelines.
Before dinner we attended the Crown & Anchor cocktail party, held for past RCI passengers. We learned that of the 2,800-plus passengers onboard, 1,275 were previous RCI cruisers. It's easy to see that this ship would be attractive to new cruisers who had previous experience with land-based resort vacations. There's no question in my mind that the Explorer was built for this purpose. It is surely more of a resort that happens to float than a traditional cruise ship.
Dinner this evening was interesting: Mrs. Kuki and I sat there like lepers at a table for 10, with no other table-mates present. The four ladies we'd joined the previous night had opted for casual dinner in the Windjammer Cafe, and the missing table-mates from the previous night had opted to change their dining assignment. I can only assume they talked to someone who knew my bad table manners and forewarned them.
I suppose I've learned a valuable lesson here. Next time we request a large table for dinner, we should specify that it comes with bodies in the chairs.
Oddly, even sitting by ourselves at our large table, we had another wonderful dinner experience.
After dinner we went to relax and have a drink in the Schooner's Bar. Tonight's headline entertainer in the Palace Showroom was a song stylist. Neither Mrs. Kuki nor I are fans of musical presentations, so she decided to go to the cabin, relax on the balcony and read her book, while I headed back to the casino to make my fortune at the blackjack tables. I encountered quite a few people who should have read my article about gambling on cruise ships. Somehow, despite some bizarre play I grimaced my way through, I ended up leaving up a few dollars, and had some fun socializing.
Tomorrow morning we wake up in one of my favorite Caribbean ports, St. Thomas. Mrs. Kuki is already asleep. Please don't tell her I'm ahead in the casino, or St. Thomas may not be one of my favorite stops for long.