Background: My wife and I have cruised a lot, mostly on Royal Caribbean, and have "Diamond" status. I enjoy the consistent quality of RCI. We usually take a cruise during January or February to thaw out during the cold winter months. This cruise was a group cruise for us, traveling with family and friends. Reservations were made about 12 months earlier and we were able to book cabins close together.
Flight & Hotel: The cost of the flights from DFW to San Juan was high. I opted for the non-stop flight arriving 2 days before the cruise. I had booked a room at the Hampton Inn by the airport. We liked the location of the hotel; there were many good restaurants within a 10-minute walk. There is no hotel shuttle van because San Juan has an agreement with the taxi companies and there are no meters--they have set rates to locations throughout the city, plus the extra charge of $1.00 per bag. From the airport to the Hampton, the taxi cost us $25 ($20 taxi and $5 for 5 bags). The Hampton Inn is an older Hilton property but well maintained. The rooms were very clean and furnishings nice. The complimentary breakfast was typical of Hampton Inns, to include eggs, sausage, Belgian waffles, pastries, etc. The front desk helped us book an excursion trip of Old San Juan and the Bacardi Distillery for the second day ($65 per person).
Embarkation: We stayed at the hotel until the 12-noon checkout time, getting a taxi to the port ($23 taxi and $5 for bags). It took about 15 minutes to get to the pier; we arrived about 12:30 pm. A porter took our luggage and we walked into the terminal to the "Priority Check-In". The terminal was very crowded and nobody was being checked in because the line of people waiting to board the ship was so long. We waited about 20 minutes until we could be processed and proceed to Adventure of the Seas. We were in the Windjammer having lunch by 1:15 pm. Cabins were available by 2 pm.
Stateroom: We were in cabin 6548, a category D-3, close to the forward elevators. It was very clean but the furnishings were well worn. Our stateroom attendant met us and we requested an ice bucket which he refreshed every morning and evening.
Ship Info: Adventure is an older Voyager Class ship. She is beautiful and and clean but worn around the edges and some carpet and furniture is worn. She could use a facelift and technology updates. I heard from the crew that she will go to drydock in 2014. The cruise director mentioned that there were over 3,100 guests on board. Since all the ports of call are close together, the average ship cruising speed was 8 knots. The Captain was Ole-Johan Gronhaug and his personality was the opposite of "Captain Johnny". Anthony Richards was the cruise director and he is like a Ken Rush clone.
Dining: Windjammer was typical. We were always able to find a seat. Food selection was very good with many choices and options. Service was excellent. In the evenings we had late dining, usually at 8:30 pm but on the first night it was at 9:00 pm. Our table was a 10-top for our group and we enjoyed the service from our waiter and assistant waiter. The head waiter made an appearance each evening. The menu options have changed, for the better I believe. Each evening there are the basic entrees that are always available and RCI has added appetizers that are on every menu, like escargots, shrimp cocktail, caesar salad. Old favorites are gone (Vidalia onion tart) and new entrees are nice. I particularly enjoyed the chicken cordon bleu.
Diamond Lounge: There is no dedicated "Diamond Lounge" area but Adventure provided a "Diamond VIP Event" each evening 5:00-8:30 on deck 14 in the 19th Hole. Soft drinks, champagne and wine are provided free of charge. We enjoyed this Diamond Event each evening (except during the ice show) as it is quiet and Norman provided friendly conversation and great bar service. Other drinks can be ordered with a 25% discount. Diamond, Diamond + and Pinnacle members were provided a special breakfast area with full breakfast and complimentary specialty coffees. The Cafe Promenade is smaller than on other Voyager ships but it's always nice to stop for coffee/tea and a quick snack.
Entertainment: I give high marks for the music talent and headliner shows. The ice show was spectacular "Cool Art, Hot Ice"! On Friday, the headliner show was "Tribute, A Salute to the Temptations". Do not miss these entertainers! They were great!
Excursions: I booked 2 excursions for us before we left home: In St. Lucia we took the "Coastal Cruise to the Pitons" and it was very nice, a 4 hour catamaran trip to the famous Pitons with a swim break and very good rum punch! The only draw back was during the swim break, when about 8 to 10 men in kayaks, canoes and boats came right up to the catamaran to sell conch shells, coconut birds and other items and they were quite persistent. On Barbados we really enjoyed the "Classic Blends" tour of two rum distilleries. In St. Maarten, we got a taxi and went to famous Maho Beach to watch the air traffic fly into the Princess Julianna Airport. We all had a great lunch at the Sunset Bar and Grill. There was only one sea day to work on our suntans.
Disembarkation: Our group stayed together during departure and we sat in the Lyric Theatre for about 2 hours waiting for our tag number to be called. It was a very slow process but not chaotic. Once we departed the ship, it was easy to find the luggage and get a porter. The line to go through Customs was pretty long but kept moving. We easily got a taxi and went back to the Hampton Inn about 12:30 pm. Although check-in time is 4 pm, they gave us a room which was a huge relief. The hotel lobby was filled with cruisers waiting for taxi service to the port. There was a taxi shortage that day due to a big holiday.
RCI offered "Beverage Packages" that I never saw before. The "Premium Package" was $55 per day and included "all house wines, beers under $6.25, fountain sodas, well, call or premium brands of liquor and frozen drinks." The "Beer Package" was $45 per day and included "all house wines, beers under $6.25, fountain sodas and frozen non-alcoholic drinks."
Before the cruise, I had read many Cruise Critic reviews of this ship and itinerary. I am so glad I did. I thought I was mentally prepared for the Puerto Rican culture. There were many, many PR's on board and like previous reviews, I found them to be loud, rude and pushy. They would intentionally cut in front of you and slam into you if you didn't get out of their way; no common courtesy at all.
Conclusion: Would I cruise on Adventure of the Seas again? Yes. Would I cruise out of San Juan, PR again? No.