At last, Deck 4
Though there are obviously further decks below here with staff accommodation and suchlike, Deck 4 is the last general public access level of the ship. There is one notable exception on Deck 3 which I’ll include here as well.
I’ll begin with the theatre. Superficially, it’s an attractive space with a clever design of the stage area to create a wide screen effect. However, as I’ve mentioned previously, there are some practical design issues which only become apparent when the theatre is in use and it will be interesting to see how these are addressed as the ship develops.
At each entrance to the theatre on Deck 4 is one of four variations on this piece of art worked in glass “feathers”. The aqua coloured one here, is set alongside the same design in opaque white glass. On the opposite entrance walkway it can be seen in amber and clear, colourless glass. It’s rather striking I think and reflects the light beautifully.
I’m not so sure I feel as warm towards the next piece of art I come across. It’s one of a few in this general area which I find a little troubling for some unknown reason. I’ll share the others in a while.
The main feature of this area of the ship is the Boutique. We both feel that this is rather better stocked on the Explorer than on the other ships, though there are many who disagree. Thinking about it, we haven’t seen the “bargain basement” style sales of jewellery or local souvenirs here in quite the same way as on the other ships and that could be a factor.
Generally speaking, we don’t shop here at all, tempting though some of the offers could be.
But for those seeking souvenirs, there’s quite a choice.
Directly across from the general boutique is a fine jewellers with some beautiful and more extravagant souvenirs.
and adjacent to that, a store with rather lovely accessories too.
In stark contrast, the view from those lovely, stylish boutiques are what I regard as the two most aggressive and troubling pieces of art on the ship. At least they steer my eye in the direction of prettier things.
One thing I very much appreciate about the Explorer is represented here, however. The marble floors throughout are absolutely stunning and this particular one is a fine example. The craftsmanship involved in creating the design is first class and in several places around the ship we find ourselves admiring the floor we are stepping or sitting upon.
Standing on the centre of that rose design, then, and turning to look along the length of the ship, here is another expansive lobby area. The grand staircase comes down from the Reception area on Deck 5 here and there’s a great view.
Since we boarded a couple of weeks ago, there has been a beautiful flower arrangement on this table, but today it has been removed, allowing a clear unimpeded view of that gorgeous Lalique vase. It’s one of a pair – though I can’t recall where I’ve seen the other one!
There’s a pretty, curved area of seating just along here, with niches containing attractive vases and vessels. Last evening, as the Captain announced that there would be a heavy swell and high seas overnight, I spotted a fellow passenger checking that those items were all securely placed – they are all fixed in place, she was assured. The symmetry is maintained with a mirror image of this area on the other side, forming a circular “frame” for the table and flower arrangement.
No area is left unadorned then, and under the staircase is a piece of white sculpture, mirrored by a similar piece under the other staircase.
The next area is punctuated by another marble motif in the floor.
and a pair of paintings, either side of the central walkway.
Turn left into the Casino.
Turn right into the Explorer Bar.
Like the Meridian Lounge upstairs, this isn’t really somewhere best viewed during the daytime. In the evening it’s a darker, cosier setting for a pre dinner drink, with music played on a small stage to the right. The chairs here are a strange, squat design – thankfully, comfier than they appear!
There are seating areas outside here to, in the central area, with further niches containing objects of interest and very comfortable seating. Actually, we prefer to enjoy our pre dinner drinks out here than in the bar, where a little passing traffic offers conversation and occasionally, entertainment
Step straight ahead and here’s the main restaurant, Compass Rose.
There’s actually a table for the Maitre D’ at the point, but my eyes go immediately to the spectacular lighting installation and the lovely atmosphere it creates.
Sadly, this stylish atmosphere doesn’t continue to all four corners of the restaurant and there are areas where I think the decor has been rather overlooked in comparison to details elsewhere. So we have chosen to request a table in the shiny area each evening we’ve dined here, with our favourite sparky team of lovely staff and have enjoyed some memorable dinners as a result.
Much has been said about the Versace designed tableware here, too, so let’s not continue without capturing one of those beauties!
Unlike the other ships, the restaurant on Explorer has no aft entrance and so we return the way we came, paying attention to a couple of small points such as these beautiful cushions. They are fine examples of the soft furnishings throughout the ship, elegant and beautifully made of high quality fabrics and trimmings. They definitely add to the luxurious feel and I hope they will withstand careful use!
The other aspect which is so easily overlooked is the spotless condition of every area of the ship I have explored. Continual maintenance, cleaning and polishing, quietly done throughout the day ensures that every surface is immaculate. Of course, it doesn’t magically happen but is as a result of a team of staff whose eye for detail and dedication to the task in hand is reflected in every glass tabletop.
That, I think, completes my walkthrough of the Explorer, with just two notable exceptions. The first is the Spa, which I’ll share in a shorter post later today. The other is a place on deck 3 which we all hope we won’t need to visit.
The clue on the design of the door. It’s the Medical Centre. I have it on good authority that it’s well equipped and staffed by a team of capable and very experienced people. I’m thankful for that, but here’s hoping their skills are not challenged too frequently.
Time for coffee, I think!