RCI Adventure of the Seas TA Nov 3-18 Malaga Spain to San Juan, Puerto Rico
Cabin: Balcony 9250 Diamond SOCIOCATS
We planned a year ago to arrive four days early to see Malaga and the Costa del Sol. Part of the reason (alright the main reason) was to get out of the States and avoid the last 7 days of the election campaign. We did not foresee Hurricane Sandy. Fortunately we flew out of Chicago and left on time (others on our cruise who lived on the east coast did not have it so lucky and many missed the cruise because of the hurricane). Even traveling the great circle route that took us over Toronto and Newfoundland, we could feel the outskirts of the storm roughing us as we flew over it.
We love TAs and cruises, we hate today's airline industry. Nine hours of cramped space, no legroom, and hard to recline chairs leaves one with leg cramps and backaches. Of course we had to fly through Madrid. This is a challenge for anyone and I only wish it on my own worse enemies (note to self: avoid Madrid at all costs in the future). Finally arrived Malaga.
Pre-cruise, we took side trips to Granada to see the Alhambra and Gibraltar to see the Rock. Enjoyed both of them and they added considerably to the cruise experience. Spent one day on the Hop On Hop Off Malaga bus, taking in its many sites and experiencing as many Tapas as we could manage.
Met many of our cruise critic buddies pre-cruise. Had a great time at the Friday night rooftop party. Great group to travel with. Did not participate in any of the ship's excursions so cannot evaluate; anecdotally others said they were excellent and well conducted but expensive compared to the private excursions we set up through cruise critic.
Cruise: Note: This review may appear to be negative in tone. However, we have experienced twenty cruises and our expectations are high. Small points as they may be, these items make the difference between an average cruise and an exceptional one.
The ship is in great shape, well maintained, and runs like a charm.
Portofinos was outstanding and great value for the price charged. Food was excellent. Only problem was we had to wait as much as 30 minutes between courses--not acceptable. Service otherwise impeccable. But we wish the ship had a CHOPS as well as additional eating venues.
Entertainment acceptable nothing terrific. El Gaucho was good. Cruise Director Drew was fine. 4Ever good singing. The Singers and Dancers showed great talent but their "Rock" show was poorly conceived; very few in the audience favored Lady Gaga, Rap singing, or Michael Jackson: Know your audience folks.
The all purpose musician was excellent.Lionel Richie impersonator was fine. One negative here: the pantomime clapping routine done before the show by the cruise activities staff was entertaining the first night, okay the second but by the four night and later one it became irritating (annoying and condescending after the second time). The Magician comedian was adolescent in his humor. Beatles Maniacs the next to last day made up for all the other inconsistencies; it was superb and had the audience rocking both performances.
Claire was excellent handling trivia despite some fanatics. Although the prize selection could vary: how many key chains can you bring back anyway? Cannot give enough Kudos to her. Overall personality great!!!
Staff is friendly and knowledgeable and helpful. Our cabin attendant wendell always had a smile and a friendly word and was prompt in meeting any of our requests.
Food was acceptable but not consistent. We are not gourmets. We believe in small portions and when filled, stop. For the most part food was fine.
Sailing has been reasonably smooth.
DW loved the artwork on the walls of the ship, the textures, the uniqueness, the colors.
The Ice show (Cool art and hot ice) as always was fantastic. The performers are skating at full speed and doing full stunts on an ice rink a fraction of normal size. Astounding.
Balcony dividers are permanent metal rather than transparent glass as we have had in the past on other cruises.
Disembarkation was a breeze alas a few minutes late courtesy of US Customs. Was off the ship and on a taxi within 5 minutes.
Embarkation was very smooth; we were on the ship within 15 minutes. However, we were not allowed in our staterooms until nearly 2pm. A thousand and more passengers in every lounge waiting for over two hours.
Could not hear public announcements in the cabin. There was an announcement channel but even switched to "on", one could not hear and had to go outside to the aisle to hear messages.
Did not see the cabin attendant at all until 730 the first evening. I had called ahead and asked for an extension cord and distilled water (I have a CPAP). Neither was in the room when we checked in and only when I pressed the case with the steward were they found.
Music being played in public areas was way too loud.
As always, internet too slow and too expensive but if you must use it for business, there is no choice. Kudos to first cruise line to have an "all you can use it " price available with reasonable speeds. Had to get up at 5am to be able to use it at anywhere near a reasonable speed.
Most other cruise ships have additional dining venues beyond the Main Dining Room and the buffet. AOS has only Portofinos, a fine restaurant, but insufficient to meet additional needs. It needs not only a Chops but other venues like Celebrity's Bistro on Five, and HAL's Asian restaurant.
Other cruises we have been on have had a wide choice of breakfast beverage drinks available. Here the only options were orange juice or apple juice. Perhaps we got spoiled from having Guava, Passion Orange, and Tomato juice but more variety is equivalent to higher quality.
Table service. No teaspoons are in the pre-made rolled packet. This needs to be added. Also, several of the cloth napkins were dirty (multiple stains). And some tableware as well. This all goes under the heading of quality control which at times seem to be lacking on board.
Tickets for the Ice Shows were handed out the first day from 930 to 11am. The line was frightfully long and the ship's personnel incredibly slow and incompetent in their handling of the line. Instead of just going down the line and giving out tickets, all had to go to Studio B's box office. And to further upset the crowd, at 11 handing out tickets was stopped: unfortunately instead of stationing someone at the end of the line, the line was cut at the theatre and hundreds of angry cruisers were told they had to go upstairs to Guest relations and stand in ANOTHER line. The closest thing to a riot I have ever seen almost resulted. How stupid and lacking in customer service can you get!!!
I do not know who did the decorating of the cabins but the ugly shade of turquoise does not complement the wood tones.
Guest Relations speak Spanish very well but have a hard time understanding English. I guess they think being based in Malaga and San Juan means English is second language.
The library is probably the worst of any cruise line I have ever seen. Quite a disgrace. both quantity and quality is bad. RCI needs to improve this.
We are Diamond on RCI and elite on Celebrity. Happy hour is much more delightful on Celebrity, beers are free and hors d'oeurves are served. Not so on RCI.
The Deli on the Promenade which we always love and frequent, was being torn apart as we entered the ship and on that first day the sound of Jackhammers could be heard all around the ship. No explanation was given why nor when it was expected to be back in business. Certainly better communications need be given on this matter.
On other ships, there was a small food stand in the pool area to serve those who did not want to change to go eat in the buffet. No such luck here. Plenty of bars but no eatery.
i understand the cost cutting on board but you would think they would have different prizes for Trivia than key chains everytime.
Slots extremely tight. On land many casinos are required to have 90 cents payback for every dollar; here it could not have been higher than 50 cents.
Venues and events did not match up. Events listed for one place were moved to another venue where they did not happen.
Saw the Cruise Director at the Theatre Shows and heard him announce activities but did not see him anytime else. Usually see Cruise Directors everywhere on the ship talking and greeting people. Not this guy.
Ice Cream. Spoiled by Celebrity's dozen different flavors and different ones each day. On RCI, Ice cream of the day: Vanilla. Need more flavors and choices.
Typically Diamond or Elite have robes in the room when one gets there; not the case. We had to ask to have some brought to us.
On Previous cruises have had many invitations to special events. On this cruise even being Diamond, none.
Supposedly had a Welcome Back party for Diamonds but no invitation was ever received so we missed it.
The Casino sponsored a free blackjack and slot tournament to Crown and Anchor members. Over a hundred showed up and the casino had only one table open. It did open a second table but should have planned for the large number that did show up. Poor planning and execution on their part.
Twice while in Port, window washers appeared outside our window, once while DW was getting dressed. Not good. Need some warning and clearance.
Ate often in the Main Dining Room (Diamond) for Breakfast. Usually took 30-40 minutes each time for our entrees to arrive (How long does it take to cook 2 eggs?). Thrice I asked for Chocolate Milk and three times I ended up getting Cold Hot Chocolate (there is a big difference). Similarly I asked for American Bacon and ended up with English Bacon. Get some English speaking servers and teach them the difference.
Pools and Spa and Jacuzzi closes at 10. Since second seating is not over until afterwards or the evening show not over until afterwards, no one attending these events are able to utilize these activities at night. There is no earthly reason why these cannot stay open until Midnight. Think of the Guest for a change!!
The ship is in generally good condition. I did notice, however, that outside on our balcony, corrosion and rust has taken its toll on the frame, with ruts as deep as one inch or more. It is unsightly and not confidence inspiring.
I have often suggested that the ship's online center should allow unlimited free access to Cruise critic. So far no one has taken me up on the offer--too much common sense I presume.
Just noticed something else missing from our cabin. In every other cruise, we have had a tray with a bucket of ice and glasses; not here. I suppose it is available upon request but should not it be standard?
On Previous TAs, had multiple Diamond events. Very few here.
Surprised to see the room still had the big thick old TVs. I would have thought by now all would be replaced by flat screens.
We stayed over in San Juan at the Marriott Resort on sunday after debarking from the ship. This is our standard tactic as we do not have to worry about making the same day flight. Went over and walked around Old Town and tried several delicious restaurants. Flew out monday morning and were home by that night.
Cruise: wrap-up: the Adventure of the Seas is an excellent ship with many fine high quality friendly staff. But it needs to take service up a notch before its service can be considered of highest quality. Little things add up and there were too many little things wrong that should not have been and should have been addressed before passengers even board the ship.