Adventure of the Seas Cruise Review by BENBOOKS: RCI Gentle Degradation
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RCI Gentle Degradation
Adventure of the Seas Review: Transatlantic San Juan, Puerto Rico (21 April 2013) to Southampton (5 May 2013)
We live in New Orleans. We drove to Houston to visit our daughter and family and to leave our dog while we went on the cruise. We flew from Houston Hobby to Orlando. The Air Trans flight was about 80% empty and was quite enjoyable. I was surprised to have a luggage charge since Southwest has taken over Air Trans. The flight to San Juan, Southwest, was absolutely full. Fortunately we found a taxi quickly and went to the ship in
about twenty minutes.
We were fortunate to travel with a good friend of over 58 years.
Embarkation was very efficient.
San Juan, Puerto Rico (21 April 2013) to Southampton (5 May 2013)
Adventure of the Seas debuted in 2001 as the third in the series of Royal Caribbean's game-changing Voyager-class vessels. Though Adventure has been bypassed in size and amenities by the Freedom-class trio and the More massive Oasis-class twins, it's still among the world's larger ships, with a range of the most uncruise-like venues at sea, such as a rollerblading track, ice-skating rink and rock-climbing wall -- not to mention the bustling hub that is Royal Promenade, a shopping mall-esque boulevard of retail stores, bars and cafes. But, the ship is large. There are only two banks of elevators toward the center. Anywhere you want to go is always on the other end of the ship. Our room was one room from the very back of the ship. The theatre was in the forward part of the ship.
Ambience: variety is key. The Lyric Theater has a nifty Art Nouveau interior; the solarium pool evokes the glories of Venice; and the Casino Royal centers on a Hollywood theme. The Duck and Dog Pub is perfect for Anglophiles, Champagne Bar is elegant and Jester's Nightclub resonates with a Gothic vibe.
This ship is well designed -- with lots of very distinctly themed rooms and with even the larger venues like the Lyric Theater and Imperial Lounge feeling unexpectedly cozy -- that Adventure of the Seas has the potential to spoil first-timers and even seduce some of us crusty ol' cruise traditionalists.
Adventure of the Seas Fellow Passengers
Passengers range in age from 25 - 85-plus with a number of families onboard. Adventure of the Seas is a great option for couples and families -- particularly multi-generational groups. Our transatlantic cruise had 1591 passengers with United Kingdom passports and a little over 500 from the U. S. Speaking of a mix of people, one of the more interesting facets of passenger demographics on this ship is international diversity (the daily Compass is printed in six languages) and public announcements are made in three languages.
Adventure of the Seas Dress Code
Dress is quite casual as befits the Caribbean (temperatue~80F); but continued into the North Atlantic (temperature about 60F). There were three formal nights where most men wore tuxedoes or suits and women wore dressy (but not long) cocktail gowns. Otherwise, people dressed in "smart casual" which varied from country club wear to dressy.
Adventure of the Seas Gratuity
Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs. Our wait staff was marvelous and we gave both additional money. Likewise our room steward was outstanding and we rewarded her with extra cash.
Adventure of the Piano Bar
We encountered new phenomena in the designated "Piano Bar." It is not unusual for the player to have a "tips" on top of the piano. On this cruise, the piano player had a price list for the performance of favorites. For example, Billy Joel's Piano Man was $15. We don't know if the take was shared with the RCI management.
Adventure of the Seas Cabins
Out of 1,557 staterooms, 939 of these have an ocean view (765 have balconies). A hallmark on this ship's class is the Royal Promenade-facing staterooms that overlook that engaging thoroughfare -- these are a step up from the usual inside cabin. A warning however: Privacy is at a premium with these cabins because they do not have privacy glass windows. Also, due to the late-night reveling that goes on, all but night owls may find them noisy.
The Royal Promenade is a great addition to the cruise ship. However, when the shops put counters into the middle of the deck, there is instant congestion. A similar congestion results when there is entertainment on the deck or on the bridge, There are virtually no seats from which to watch the entertainment.
Our inside cabin was about 150 square feet.
All staterooms come with a twin-that-can-be-converted-to-queen bed, private bathroom, phone, closed-circuit television, mini bar and hair dryers. They're decorated in festive Caribbean-esque colors, from mist-green to buoyant oranges and yellows. We had to ask our room steward for ICE and toiletries. There were no stationary or postcards in the room.
The Adventure of the Seas features an advanced interactive, closed Circuit TV system in cabins that allows for guests to order shore tours and check on the status of their onboard account. The Express Checkout worked very well. Movies (from old to new), FOX, CNN, TNT, TCM, ESPN, Discovery, and children's channels are available. Also available are in-house replays of enrichment lecture, excursion descriptions, and a Cruise Director's reporting channel. Activities of the day are also played on the "Cruise Channel." First run movies are available on TV at $12.95. There may not be a flat screen television in your stateroom. Channels that you might expect to receive by satellite may also vary in availability.
Adventure of the Seas Dining / Cuisine
Mouthwatering descriptions on the menus notwithstanding, you probably won't hear people raving about the food. Particularly annoying are misleading descriptions of food items, a notable one being a dessert called "chocolate fondue" which evokes a plate of fruit and marshmallows for dipping into a bowl of hot, molten cocoa-laden chocolate. What arrives is a refrigerated bowl of congealed white pudding with a few berries stuck to the bottom. The immediate response is, "Huh? What is this?" It turns out the description says "white chocolate" and as for the word "fondue," - well, it just isn't one.
These ships have changed their dining room menus, limiting the number of courses. While most ships list appetizers, soups, salads and entrees separately, there are now but two categories, starters and entrees, with a single type of salad offered as a separate option. The result is people getting different items (soup, salad, appetizers) all at different times. Entrees will all arrive at once, however. Beef is the best bet - fish is unpredictable. In addition to entree selections that vary nightly, the menu always offers salmon, chicken breast, steak or pasta. These are often the best choices on the menu.
Particularly problematic is the bar and wine service. Wine service was left to the assistant waiter. There are no dedicated sommeliers so don't be surprised if your white wine arrives at room temperature and no ice bucket if you order a bottle. Wine by the glass is three fingers in the smallest wine glass made, and costs over $7.00. Royal Caribbean does offer to keep unfinished bottles for their guests. We purchased a 7 bottle package for about $250 (about ten red or white wines at ~$36 each). The wine we liked most was a Lafitte-Rothschild Chardonnay on the menu for $46.
Specialty coffees like espresso or cappuccino with dessert, with or without liquor, have to be ordered from bar service which can be tortuously slow. Try to order these well ahead of dessert or you will likely be served after your meal is finished.
From the meals in the dining room to the buffet choices in the Windjammer Cafe to the options available at the 24-hour Cafe Promenade, the food is consistent and prepared with a view to cost at all times. There was a great deal of chiffon and custard in the deserts. There was no outstanding entrees or deserts on the menus.
The Vivaldi, Strauss, and Mozart Main Dining Rooms:
Respectively located on Decks 3, 4, and 5, The Vivaldi, Strauss, and Mozart main dining rooms on Adventure of the Seas are a spectacle with 3 levels of tables. Classically appointed decor brings together vintage golden columns and chandeliers in celebration of these master composers
You may choose between My Time Dining, early dinner (6:00 PM), or late dinner (8:30 PM) seating when you make your cruise reservation. With My Time Dining, you are welcome to show-up at any time to be seated for dinner. However, it is advised that you inform the Maitre D' of your preferred dining time earlier in the day, or, set a consistent time with the Maitre D' on the first day of your cruise. If you show-up and you have not set a dining time previously, you may have a lengthy wait until a table becomes available. (Note: Those choosing My Time Dining must pre-pay gratuities -- Royal Caribbean does not automatically add gratuities to your final bill if you've elected set-seating.) Cuisine is generally well prepared, if not innovative; Royal Caribbean doesn't pretend to be a gourmet-dining cruise line. Each menu includes healthy fare options, vegetarian dishes (at least one, like vegetarian chili, but sometimes there's an Indian vegetarian dish in addition) and a standard in-case-nothing-else-appeals selection of entrees (rigatoni with marinara sauce, Atlantic cod, chicken breast and black angus top sirloin). We were on the RCI Mariner last November and the choices on the Adventure seem a little bit less. Escargot was offered as an appetizer for the first ten days of the trip, but eventually ran out. The daily dinner menu featured a small box on the lower right side that offered three additional choices:
1. Lobster at about $30.
2. Surf and Turf at about $20.
3. Filet Mignon at about $25.
We did not try any of the options.
We were fortunate in our table mates: a couple from Southampton and a couple from Houston.
Breakfast and lunch are open-seating, though you shouldn't take that to mean that you can always snare a quiet little table for two. We always ask for a large table and found that a very efficient way to meet people.
The Windjammer, Adventure of the Seas' buffet restaurant, is open for breakfast and lunch, and it features steam-table cuisine. Kudos must be given, however, to the egg station at breakfast (where you can request a variety of prepared-to-order dishes) and the carving station at lunch. Baked goods are consistently excellent. Vegetarians will do much better in the main dining room at lunch.
The Windjammer is also open for dinner and is an option for those nights when flexibility is preferred. The buffet features the same items as are on the main dining room menu.
Specialty eateries include Johnny Rockets, the 1950s-style burger diner; passengers can indulge in burgers, hot dogs, chili fries, apple pie and onion rings. Royal Caribbean has instituted a $4.95 per-person cover charge for both in-restaurant and take-out dining (and beverages are additionally charged, specifically malts at $4.95).
On the Royal Promenade, the Cafe Promenade (FREE) features light fare at all times (pastries in the morning and always, sandwiches at night); try the pizza, it's excellent. The coffee is the best on the ship. The cookies were also excellent.
Portofino is the Adventure of the Seas specialty restaurant. The Italian-themed restaurant, which charges a $20 per-person cover (specialty beverages, beer, wine and soda are charged separately), offers a leisurely multi-course meal. The menu did not change at all on our trip, but that didn't seem to matter to a number of folks who were back for repeat dinners. Note, however, that you need to make reservations as early as possible in your cruise or you may miss the restaurant.
Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, Continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service between 5 a.m. and midnight (though a two to five dollar tip is recommended); orders made between midnight and 5 a.m. incur a $3.95 fee. We had breakfast, primarily tea or coffee, every morning.
Adventure of the Seas Entertainment
It can be very hard to relax on Adventure of the Seas -- even on sea days -- because of the head-spinning array of activities that run from dawn to dusk and beyond! There is a ubiquitous loudness in almost every public area on the ship. The ship's entertainment staff offers an intriguing blend of options, and everyone, from the most traditional passenger to the completely contemporary traveler, will find something to do.
DAY 1, Sunday, April 21, 2013. Rodney Johnson, Comedian. ***
DAY 2, Monday, April 22, 2013. Tribute to the Temptatations, Group singing. ***
DAY 3, Tuesday, April 23, 2013. RCI singers and Dancers, Invitation to Dance. ****
DAY 4, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Martin Lewis, Magician. ***
DAY 5, Thursday, April 25, 2013. Ollie Spencer, Comedian. DID NOT ATTEND.
DAY 6, Friday, April 26, 2013. Jayne Curry, Singer. ****
DAY 7, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Cool Art, Hot Ice, Ice Show. DID NOT ATTEND.
DAY 8, Sunday, April 28, 2013. Ash & Mike, Pianist and Singer. ****
DAY 9, Monday, April 29, 2013. Christopher Caress, Hypnotist. ***
DAY 10, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Cool Art, Hot Ice, Ice Show. DID NOT ATTEND.
DAY 11, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. . RCI singers and Dancers, Can't Stop the Rock. ****
DAY 12, Thursday, May 2, 2013. East Coast Boys (Tribute to Franky Valli and the Four Seasons). ****
DAY 13, Friday, May 3, 2013. RCI singers and Dancers, Las Vegas. ****
DAY 14, Saturday, May 4, 2013. Beastro, Magician. **
NOTE: when the ice show was on, there was no major event in the Lyric Theatre.
During the day, you'll find plenty of traditional cruise activities, such as trivia, bingo, dance lessons (line-dancing), rock-climbing wall competitions, horse racing, art auctions, lectures (on everything from healthy eating to gemstones), Mr. Sexy Legs contests, bridge playing, art and craft workshops and films in the tiny cinema. Poolside, throughout the day, a live band plays a blend of Caribbean and American songs.
Throughout the day and night, there's often some type of performance along the Promenade, either a parade or jugglers and comics who wander through the giant mall-like space and perform with the crowd. There is often a parade at 5 PM with costumed performers.
At night, there are two kinds of entertainment -- the traditional-style cruise productions -- singing and dancing shows in The Lyric, and goofy passenger-inspired episodes like "Love and Marriage" (a tired idea, perhaps, but still, on our cruise it was screamingly funny. This was the first time we saw a gay couple as contestants). Bar venues, of course, offer a variety of musical performances that are aimed to please just about everybody at any time -- classical guitar, country/western, jazz.
Adventure of the Seas TRIVIA
Trivia is treated as a separate subject because the Cruise Director and staff made a number of errors. First, the Cruise Director, Clodagh O'Connor or "Hello Clo", as she is known was outstanding. However, there were some problems with trivia. The first four days were Caribbean island stops. Trivia was held in the Schooner Lounge and the small room was adequate. However, once sea days started, the lounge was terribly overcrowded. The cruise director staff person said nothing could be done. It was almost impossible not to notice that JESTER"S, a night club, a few steps from the Schooner was empty. It could easily have held the crowd for trivia. A similar situation obtained when trivia was scheduled for the DUCK & DOG PUB. Too, too many people. Once it was moved into the Imperial Lounge which held the crowd easily. On another day an ART Preview was in the Imperial Lounge and trivia was moved to the DUCK & DOG PUB with loud, complaining overcrowding. It is hard to believe that the size of the crowd for trivia could not be estimated correctly and accommodated.
A new kind of trivia was introduced on the ship. It was trivia player trivia. That is, trivia players submitted the questions and answers for the quiz. The fatal flaw is that the answers could not be objectively verified. For example -- WHAT ARE THE FOUR MOONS OF JUPITER? Unfortunately, Jupiter has over sixty moons; so the question is nonsense. The question could have been salvaged if the adjective Gallilean had been inserted into the question or if the question asked for the largest four moons. Again, the trivia leader was powerless to change the question or answer. Similarly, Buenos Aires was proclaimed as the most populous city south of the equator. In the real world Sao Paolo is the largest.
Adventure of the Seas Excursion Desk & Guest Relations
Adventure of the Seas Information (or lack therof)
One would think that service from either area would be of benefit to the guests of the ship. However, it would appear that the staff has severe "tunnel vision" or is commanded to have
"tunnel vision." Questions like:
Where does the ship dock?
How far is it from the terminal to town?
Is there a ferry from St. Lucia to Martinique?
How much is a taxi tour per hour?
Such questions had no answers unless the answer was a ship service for charge. I. E., question about ship sponsored excursions could be answered; but, non-ship activities could not be discussed.
Adventure of the Seas Public Rooms
Feel like an Asian atmosphere? Head for the Imperial Lounge. In the mood for Gothic? Try Jester's nightclub. Feel the urge for a clubby, elegant salon? With or without the cigar smokers, the Connoisseur's Cigar Club is a peaceful hideaway. Most of the major indoor venues are located off or along the Royal Promenade, which tends to really come alive at night. There you'll find shops (the usual cruise-style boutiques that sell logo items, duty-free liquor, perfume and cruise wear) and bars like the Duck & Dog British style pub (though many of its draught beer choices are puzzlingly non-Brit), the Gravity Sports Bar (which seemed empty most of the time) and the somewhat-elegant-but-mostly-bland Champagne Bar. However, the highlight is the 24-hour Cafe at the Promenade, which is a great place to snack and people watch.
Off the main promenade, in various directions, are the Imperial Lounge (the ship's secondary theater with entertainment ranging from line-dancing classes to cooking workshops) and the Connoisseur Club (a very elegant, cozy cigar bar). Connected to the Promenade, via various stairways, are additional entertainment arenas, including Casino Royale, the Schooner Bar, the Aquarium Bar (with its huge fish tanks), the Lyric Theatre and the Jester's nightclub. Tucked away on Deck 2 -- easy to miss -- are the ship's intimate cinema and conference facilities. Each of the performance venues -- Lyric Theatre and Imperial Lounge, for instance -- has its own bar as does Studio B, the phenomenal ice-skating rink/show lounge on deck three.
Overlooking the Royal Promenade is the Library, with an small collection of books (about half English and half foreign) and comfortable leather chairs. . The ship has an Internet cafe and cabins are wired for Internet usage. The cost for Internet access, via Wi-Fi or at a work station, is 55 cents a minute, or you can buy packages of 60, 90 or 150 minutes for $28, $38 or $55, respectively.
The Photo Gallery on Deck 3 is the place to giggle over silly photos of your shipmates and buy your own for outlandish prices ($19.95 for 8x10's, often a smaller photo of you surrounded by generic ship images).
Blue Moon Jazz Club, the name on this ship for the traditionally styled Viking Crown Lounge, has the usual fabulous vistas. On the same deck you'll find Seven Hearts Card Room, 19th Hole Golf Bar and Cloud Nine. Adventure of the Seas has a nondenominational chapel called the Skylight Wedding Chapel.
Adventure of the Seas Spa & Fitness
Even on sea days, everyone has plenty of room around the two pools -- an admirable feat. One interesting feature about the hot tubs is some are double-sized, which again makes room for more folks. Tiered decks surround an outdoor theater, where everything from "men's sexiest legs" contests to live dance band performances take place. There are two bars by the main pool. The Solarium pool and whirlpools are situated in a quieter, more laid-back setting; the area is adults-only.
All of the major (outdoor) athletic activities -- the nine-hole miniature golf course, rollerblading rink, full-size basketball/volleyball court, golf simulator and rock-climbing wall -- are tucked into a "sports center" that lies aft. The pocket-sized ice skating rink is tucked well below, into the bowels of the ship. Note that some of the more specialized activities -- rock climbing, rollerblading and ice skating -- are offered only at specified times so check your daily Compass for available hours. The ship's jogging/power walking track winds around the main pool area.
One nice touch: Royal Caribbean does not layer on a lot of extra fees for equipment "rental" -- there is no charge for using everything from ice skates (you can choose between hockey and figure models) to rollerblades.
The 15,000-square-foot spa -- the usual Steiner, Ltd., production -- spans two levels. One houses the quite ample fitness facility (no overcrowding here) and a workout room where classes are offered. Upstairs in the spa and salon facility, a wide range of treatment programs are offered, such as facials, massages, manicures and hair-styling.
A couple of caveats: The prices for treatments have risen to breathtaking levels, with a basic 50-minute massage now costing $119 or more. (The industry average is $99.) A manicure starts from $29, a pedicure from $45. The spa did offer "discounts" on port-of-call days (and as the cruise wound down), but that just brought the prices down to industry-normal levels. In addition, treatment employees will engage, way too aggressively, in the much-loathed "Steiner Product Pitch" at the end of your appointment. The products are also over-priced. Just say no.
DAY 2, Monday, April 22, 2013. ST. THOMAS, We talk a little walk around the dock.. We have been to St. Thomas quite a few times and did not need to take any tours. ***
DAY 3, Tuesday, April 23, 2013. ST. MAARTEN & ST. MARTIN. We took a ship Excursion for the bargain price of $29 each and saw most of both Dutch and French parts of the island. It was indeed a true bargain for a ship's excursion at $29. It was very enjoyable. *****
DAY 4, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. ST. LUCIA. We engaged a knowledgeable cab driver and toured at least half the island for. $20 each.*****
DAY 5, Thursday, April 25, 2013. ST. KITTS. Took a nice taxi tour for $20 per person ($5 for a ferry and $15 for a taxi). ****..
DAY 11, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. . PONTA DELGADO. AZORES, PORTUGAL. Again we had a very pleasant taxi tour for $20 each.. ****
DAY 15, Sunday, May , 2013. SOUTHHAMPTON.
Adventure offered interesting tours to STONEHENGE and/or WINDSOR on the way to the airport. We had a private sedan which took us from the ship to Heathrow. The American Airlines flight to DFW was the nicest we have had in a long time. Very smooth.*****
The Adventure of the Seas has a variety of events and lively entertainment for you to participate throughout the ship. There is also Loud Music virtually everywhere. The Atrium allows broadcast of whatever is playing on Deck 4 to invade the entire ship center. Adventure was the noisiest ship we have been on since several Carnival trips. But, if you are looking somewhere to get away and enjoy some quiet time onboard the Adventure of the Seas, try the Champagne Bar, the Viking Crown Lounge, the Solarium, the Library, and the Skylight Chapel.
Usually before 9:00 AM, most areas (save the pool areas) are not crowded. Also, the ship pretty much empties when it is in port. If you are looking for quiet onboard the ship, port days are a great time to be aboard the Adventure of the Seas.
Quiet places onboard the Adventure of the Seas:
- Champagne Bar (Deck 5)
- Solarium (Deck 11)
- Library (Deck 7)
- Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 14)
- Skylight Chapel (Deck 15)
Adventure of the Seas VALUE
There are a lot of hidden extras, for example, Starbuck's, Ben & Jerrys, Curry Demonstration, ships tours, mystery dinner, etc all with an extra cost. While expecting to pay extra for the Specialty apparent that RCI has adopted the airlines approach to pricing. You pay for the cruise but there are restaurants and Theme nights some of the extra costs are unacceptable. Less
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