This was our second cruise (the first was on 2010). We started to look for a cruise when we were told of our kids November vacation's schedule. Their week off coincided with their birthday and with the cruising low season in Europe. The fact that RCI had a cruise leaving from Malaga on a interesting itinerary to Canary Islands at a really good price, convinced us to go. The ship was the Adventure of the Seas, the same ship we had already cruised before but that was not a problem, as we had really liked the first time.
We learned from previous mistakes and travelled to Malaga the day before, which allowed us to visit the city. We slept at the very convenient and confortable Barcelo Malaga, right on the train station/shopping center, as we went from Madrid to Malaga by AVE, the Spanish high speed train. In Malaga, we visited Picasso's museum and the Cathedral.
Next day, we went to port at 11:00 AM, just after a late breakfast. Arriving early, check-in was a breeze and in 15 minutes we had dispatched our luggage, had our sea pass cards, shopped at the duty free shops, got our kids the security bracelets and boarded the ship, in time to sit at a still almost empty Windjammer for lunch.
During the cruise, we always ate at the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. It was still a crowded place, but getting tables was less difficult than on our first cruise. I guess, the main reason was the passenger mix. This time, only 500 Spanish people were on board, being the third nationality after 1500 British and 600 Irish. So, our Spanish eating habit and times (late breakfast and lunch) seemed a better option. Food in the Windjammer is perfectly ok buffet food. We enjoyed eating there.
For dinner, we had a second turn slot allocated at our request, and we ate everyday at the Main Dining Room for exquisite food and exceptional service. It must be luck, but we only had the best astonishing good service with RCI so far. Very nice waiter and assistant, very attentive to our needs and requests. For my kids birthday, a cake + candles + happy birthday was provided by them, together with balloons.
Compared to our previous cruise, we felt that this time the activities organization was lacking a little bit, maybe due to a weaker cruise director. There were no parades, the 70s party and the pool buffet were really much weaker than last time.
We only watched the first spectacle on the theater, a show called "El Gaucho". The next spectacles were compromised by what I consider a bad policy mistake on RCI's part. The problem is that my kids were appointed to the Adventure Ocean, which only opens at 7:00 PM (and not only once, opened a few minutes late), while the shows for second turn dinner also start at 7:00PM, making it impossible for parents to leave their kids and go get a seat in time for the theater. We did watch the Ice Hockey show at 7:00 PM on day 3 of our cruise because our kids also wanted to see it. But from day 4 onwards, we were always busy leaving them at their mini-club at spectacle time.
We booked the a type H deck 2 outside cabin, same type we had last time. Looking at the AOS deck plans, we chose cabin 2338 because it was supposed to be the only one with a sofa-bed and we thought that this would be better than having 2 overhead beds for the kids. Alas, it is incorrect information as this room does not have a sofa bed. It does have a couple of overhead beds, so not big deal, just a small disapointment. Also, this room communicates with 2336 and as consequence, the 2 place sofa is replace by a single place chair. That was more annoying as we did not need the communicating room and the larger sofa was surely missed.
Otherwise, the cruise was highly enjoyable, relaxing and worth it. We spent a lot of time on our own activities, from ice skating to mini golfing to jacuzzing to partying and even playing on the casino. We especially liked the lively ambiance on bars with music in the evenings.
Two special events marked our trip. Halloween was celebrated on Oct 31st, and the ambiance was great. From the kid's halloween party to the royal promenade disguised parade, the ship was pure excitement. Also, my kid's birthday, which was celebrated throughout the day, on the Adventure Ocean, on the MDR and also by some crew members who just helped to know it and made a point of saluting my kids.
I had read lots of complaints in this forum regarding this ship, ranging from "bad behaviour of passengers" to "smoking on public areas" to "bad food and service" and also "screaming kids". Well, for us, none of these problems existed, we did not see it nor felt anything like that. The ship is well maintained, clean and gorgeous. Service was excelent, to the point of having people remember our names and my kids birthday, and not only on the MDR. Passenger's were very polite, including during the usual though situations one encounters, like lack of tables or elevator queues.
So, bottom line, I give it a 100%. Loved it and will go back again.