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Explora Journeys vs Crystal


Noggins
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Yes, I know we've been here before and, yes, I know we have Terry's (Stickman's) review / comparison coming up following his recent Serenity cruise.

But the EJ product delivery is clearly evolving. Almost 2 years ago, when Crystal was no more we booked a 10 day Caribbean trip. It has finally come around and we are a few days in. I have been trying to capture the daily essence of things and, if that could be of interest to you, pop across to the Explora forum.

It's too early for conclusions but what I will say at this point is:

- it's way better than expected (but not perfect. Who's perfect?)

- it feels like it could be future Crystal. The hardware is just what Crystal could do with. (I forget who suggested Crystal take two of the 4 EJ ships off their hands. An inspired idea - but surely won't happen!)

 

I'll be back here when we're done to offer my detailed summary comparison to help anyone still deciding whether to mix up their cruising experiences with something new 

 

Adrian 

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2 hours ago, bitob said:

Paul mco has been on both lines

Maybe he will post

 

 

I think, I have made my Explora feelings known and will not do anything over 10 days on Explora, even though we loved the ships amenities, staff, environment, and even most of the food.  The killer for us is the never changing menus.  For us the food grew tired after 14 days.  Especially since we found at least one restaurant Sakura -- subpar (1 decent meal out of 4).

 

Then there are their itineraries, which are rather basic Caribbean and Med.

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Anyone have any thoughts of Explora vs Crystal? I will do a 7 night solo cruise in november/december on either Explora 2 or Crystal Serenity in the Caribbean. Solo outside cabin on Crystal and ocean terrace suite on Explora. $3500 Crystal and $5.000 Explora, including $400 on board credit for Explora. Any recommendations? 

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3 hours ago, magnus1977 said:

Anyone have any thoughts of Explora vs Crystal? I will do a 7 night solo cruise in november/december on either Explora 2 or Crystal Serenity in the Caribbean. Solo outside cabin on Crystal and ocean terrace suite on Explora. $3500 Crystal and $5.000 Explora, including $400 on board credit for Explora. Any recommendations? 

Why not compare more similar rooms?  The ocean terrace suite is much nicer than the solo outside cabin on Crystal.  

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6 hours ago, magnus1977 said:

Anyone have any thoughts of Explora vs Crystal? 


I’ve been on both lines recently (just got off Serenity two weeks ago and was on Explora last September) and do plan to do a bigger comparison but I’m still working on that to be fair to both lines 

 

Bottom line is both are excellent luxury lines - for different reasons and we’re booked for a month on both Crystal and Explora Over the next year

 

We felt the food and service was excellent on both lines (in most cases) and in each case there are some restaurants we prefer over others - so for us we don’t see any major difference when compared across all the options - both lines have very high quality options across a range of cuisines - we did 18 nights on Explora and never tired of the options available to us and I struggle with some of the negative comments I see about menus and dishes - but o guess everyone has different tastes 

 

The entry level Explora cabins are much larger than the Crystal solos

 

It depends what’s important to you as to which you might prefer - if you like dancing and entertainment Crystal wins but the physical features of Explora are hard to beat

 

As I say I’d be happy on either and I don’t think it’s a case of one being better than the other - there are differences and it depends what’s important for you

 

The itinerary would be one important factor for us as both lines are limited at the moment with 2 ships each (once Explora 2 comes into service). I know you’ve shared the itinerary options elsewhere but I can’t comment the Caribbean is not an area I’m familiar with 

 

The other thing would be to look at what you like on your cruises and that will guide you - if you like shows and dancing then it would be Crystal. If you like pools, fitness centres and spas then I’d be looking at Explora

 

I see someone raised the issue of comparing similar cabins - if that were to happen you’d be comparing an entry level OT1 with an Aquamarine suite (no butler on Explora - but other than that pretty similar

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  • 1 month later...

We are old Crystal fans, not on new Crystal until next year; just got off Explora in January.  Explora is a luxury product and I agree with others that the ship itself is beautiful and the food is great (we were only onboard for a week so didn't get tired of menus but I think I could eat on that ship for at least 2-3 weeks with no problems - many options appeal on all the different restaurant menus and the buffet also has a very diverse selection).  What I missed on Explora: lectures were not as many or as interesting; no ballroom dancing; no promenade deck (walking track is much shorter).  The service was good but not as "loving" as I recall on Crystal.  Agree about the dull itineraries but once Explora has more ships they will likely offer more options.  The kicker for me at the moment is that the pre-cruise experience on Explora was dreadful..... serious website problems and not much help when we called them.  They are working on fixing it. Right now that is a deal breaker for me.  Also, they did not even read our feedback forms, in the end it was also because of a tech issue which I think they HAVE fixed now, but I did not feel sufficiently that they "cared" about guest experience and that leaves me very unsatisfied.  Ultimately I was able to talk to a manager about our issues and she was sympathetic but no incentives offered to get us back on board so I am not feeling the love.  In the next 18 months we are playing the field with Disney, Viking, AMAwaterways, Crystal, Windstar, Virgin and Cunard, so if we don't fall in love with any of them maybe I'll "date" Explora one more time and see if it has improved with a bit of maturity.  Or maybe I'll get back on Silversea and Regent instead.

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1 hour ago, JTor said:

we are playing the field with Disney, Viking, AMAwaterways, Crystal, Windstar, Virgin and Cunard,

 

That's quite the diverse cruise line up! I would think that you will find your "style/fit" somewhere in that group along with other previous lines you have tried!  I would love to hear your impressions after all these experiences!

 

Thank you and have wonderful cruises over the next 18 months!

 

~Nancy

 

 

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On 3/14/2024 at 8:17 AM, bitob said:

Paul mco has been on both lines

Maybe he will post

 

 

i will be on the Symphony early June  -  will report

was on the silver Dawn 7 days  : was 4th time in 16 months  

transformation was of such a kind  that i did cancel another week an no more SS

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, JTor said:

 The kicker for me at the moment is that the pre-cruise experience on Explora was dreadful..... serious website problems and not much help when we called them.  They are working on fixing it. Right now that is a deal breaker for me. 

 

I agree, I just got on their site and tried to check my booking and magically it was gone...  Known issues for over a year and "working to fix this" is always the excuse.

 

Dreadful site reflects on the line.  Imagine when they have 5 ships...

I have been on the fence about canceling my next cruise with them, this may put me over the edge.

 

Now compare this to Crystal.  Spent 30 minutes to book two excursions and reservations each specialty, and enter my data.  Today went back to update our new passports into their system -- finished in 5 minutes. Perfect.

 

Went to Regents site and updated the passport info into our next cruise and the info filtered into all reservations.   Now that is how a web site should work!!

Edited by PaulMCO
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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

It was fun listening to a Brazilian housekeeper during recent time on Explora.  She worked mostly deck 11 on Serenity for seven years until the shutdown.  She liked to talk, and I enjoyed listening.  She has finished the Explora contract and hope to see her on Serenity this December.  She did one contract with Seabourn.  A company neither of us will spend time on again.

 

After first Explora cruise of 21 days, my suggestion would be to limit a first time Explora experience to 14 days.  Explora might be luxury for hardware.  Falls short of luxury on the soft product.  Some areas where they fall short can be compensated for by yourself, some by on board staff.  After 60 days on Explora, fewer bum meals than NC for 20 days.  

 

Not mentioned ..... Explora on board internet is fastest and without blockage.  

Edited by saminina
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25 minutes ago, saminina said:

Explora might be luxury for hardware.  Falls short of luxury on the soft product.  Some areas where they fall short can be compensated for by yourself, some by on board staff

 

How so? What soft product are you referring to?

 

We found Explora soft product very good when we were on last year for 16 days - dining and service were as good as any luxury line and in many cases better. We're looking forward to returning next year for 26 days with a group of friends who will be new to Explora

 

Only possible issue was entertainment/enrichment but that's a variable and depends on ones tastes - sure they don't do Broadway type production shows but many of the guest artists and enrichment speakers they had when we were onboard also appear on Crystal

 

Now all they need to do is add on bingo! 

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service on board Crystal is far superior in general , the choice of complimentary drinks is great and you do not have to pay 10 € for a VSOP Cognac 😄 or 18€ for a decent Macallan 

skill of bartenders is far superior on Crystal

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The day by day account of our Explora trip was kindly posted by Terry (stickman) at post #2 on this thread. It's had a lot of views for some reason.

The overall sense I reported was that the 'hardware' (easy to define / explain / point to) was terrific but that the 'software' (not so easy to define  / explain / point to) let down the overall experience. 

I think it's important to remember that we don't all cruise in the same way and, in any event, we are all individuals with hugely different perceptions, views on what is or is not relevant, personalities etc etc.

I think most of us cruise as couples (with a good number of single too). At the other end of the spectrum are those that regularly cruise with a group of friends. In the middle are those that cruise as couples  / singles with the intention of finding like minded folk onboard to hook up with.

We have been in all 3 of those categories and without doubt we are most aware of the ships 'software' when we are just the two of us and least aware when we are in a group. It's inevitable and obvious really. Furthermore groups interact with staff differently (and vice versa ) - especially if the group is full of upbeat, cheerful folk!

Terry (Stickman), you usually (always?) cruise with friends. That doesn't make your experiences any less valid than anyone else's but I do feel there is a reason why your experiences are as they are and that your conclusions might be a little different if you experienced your cruises in the way most of the folk around here do.

It also makes a big difference if you spend many days a year cruising compared to those only able to have a precious few days at sea a year. 

Maybe I've done nothing more than set out the obvious. And after all it's always interesting reading about other peoples experiences!

And at the end of the day, as said so  often, only our own view matters. OOOVM......!

 

Adrian 

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Very well said Adrian.

 

In the end, no cruise line is for everyone just like no hotel brand, automobile, computer, tv, place to live, etc.....and lots of them is for everyone.

 

As you said we all have different reasons for cruising.

 

I would add to this that our reasons for cruising can change overtime and even what we like and dislike can change overtime.  Some of this has to do with age. Some of this has to do with our financial situation.

 

I also agree with you 100% that who you travel with can often (not always but often) could make the overall experience different.

 

Can anyone show me one product where the view is always  the same?

In fact, you can take 10 people who are on the same cruise and the evaluation can vary a great deal.

 

Take service as an example. Part of the service one experiences could be impacted by their room attendant(s), and butler.

 

Take food as an example.  Part of their experience could be impacted by the items they eat from the restaurant menus.

 

Even take the internet as an example.  Even sometimes one experience can be impacted by the device they carry with them and even the web browser they use.

 

And while most companies strive to make sure the product is the same each and every time my experience is it does not always work out.  We have some favorite restaurants and while most time the dining experience has been great on occasion it is not. Same goes for favorite hotel properties and I do believe that not all cruise experiences are the same for the same person. There are so many factors that impact that.

 

Anyway, each cruise line has people who sail it once and realize it is not for them, people who sail with the line and might sail again, and others who think the line is the best they have sailed and make it their go to line.  

 

And finally has anyone been on a cruise when one person says it's too cold on board, another says it's too hot, and another one says the temperature is just right? I have. And why is that? Reasons include our body chemistry, our size, our age, and our weight.

Who is right?

 

In the end the only opinion that counts is our own.

 

Of course for products to be successful they need a sufficient number of people to like them.

 

Keith 

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Things I bring on board Explora.  Facial tissue, toilet paper, wine.   Polyester mattress cover removed and top sheet added prior to boarding.  Beds have been great, but bedding just passable. 

 

Crystal is my idea of luxury with Explora being a decent runner up today.  Emphasize today, because I would not place a big bet on either being the same beyond. 

 

Noggins nailed it describing the three traveler categories and I agree with most of what has been written on here by those that have tried Explora.  I'm well aware that things that matter to me, matters not to most others.  Explora staff have been excellent. 

 

For those that have not tried it, It's worth a slight premium to do so.  That suggestion is aimed more at the SS and SB crowd.   I met an elderly, very well (land) traveled couple that think it wise to do more shipboard travel at this stage.  Totally disgusted with their Explora experience in a top level residence and rightfully so IMO.  They found Oceania superior,  Crystal is custom made for this couple and suggested they check it out.  Had no idea Crystal existed.

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