Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Explorer of the Seas
Maiden voyage: 2000
We were on board this ship in 2001. The Explorer is the second ship in the Voyager series, which generally marks the beginning of the mega-ship era. The ship was only a year old when we cruised, so it was practically new. As our previous cruise was on the Majesty, this ship seemed so large.
We had a Royal Promenade room on this ship, which was technically an inside room - but an inside room with a view. The cost of the Promenade rooms are only a few dollars more than a standard inside room, and I would highly recommend upgrading to this room if you are looking at inside rooms. The dollar savings vs. an outside or balcony room are still pretty significant; and you have a great view of everything happening in the Royal Promenade.
During a cruise, the Royal Promenade is the center of many activities, typically including a Bon Voyage party, and several other events. The noise generated by these events will be heard in the room; but they are usually over by a decent hour, so you should not have any issues with trying to sleep through folks partying.
One nice feature of this ship is the Solarium, which is an adult-only pool area. This pool is in addition to the main pools, and set aside for the enjoyment of adults without children.
A unique feature on the Voyager class ships is an ice-skating rink, called Studio B. It is surreal to skate at the rink with a view of the Caribbean through the port-holes.
Like most of the newer ships, the Windjammer cafe is located at the stern of the ship, while the theatre is at the bow.
The propulsion system of this ship consists of a diesel-electric system with diesel engines driving huge generators. The propellers are connected to huge electric motors, slung under the ship in pods called fixipods or azipods. There is one fixipod on the centerline of the ship, and two azipods on either side. The azipods can rotate 360deg, not unlike a small boat with an Inboard/Outboard (stern drive). Since there are no long shafts in the boat, the vibrations are at a minimum.
The ship also features stabilizers; little winglets that extend out of the sides of the ship underwater that serve to minimize the rolling of the ship. This provides a smoother ride in rough water, which enhances passenger comfort (and minimizes the propensity to become sea-sick).