We are from Topeka, Kansas. This was our eleventh cruise, the seventh consecutive on Royal Caribbean.
The Ship itself.
The Adventure is clean and generally bright, given her age. The crew is keeping her in good condition. I noticed crew refinishing railings throughout the ship. Some carpet appears to be stained and should be replaced. We just happened to walk down a stair when a staff person was calling facilities telling them a bulb was out in an art display case, so we know folks are attentive to detail and appearance, engaged, and taking responsibility The ship is comfortable and bright.
From Topeka, we drove to and then flew from Kansas City to Chicago to London, then had a 2 hour bus ride to the pier, and arrived on the day of embarkation with no issues and plenty of time. RCCL Choice Air works well. The RCCL greeters met us after we claimed baggage and exited customs. (Seeing them is ALWAYS a comforting sight!) Check-in at the pier was quick and simple.
We ate in the main dining room every night at the early seating. We thought the food was very good. The menu has changed from just seven months ago on our last cruise (the Voyager in Sydney), and it is better! There now seems to be a nightly seasoning theme. We also thought the plating and presentation is different and better. Some favorite, and, thankfully, not so favorite or tiresome items are gone, but they have been replaced well. Overall, welcome and positive changes to dining.
We thought the Windjammer was OK, but we tried to avoid it, if possible, in favor of the main dining room for breakfast or lunch. The main dining room is MUCH more relaxed, a seat is more easily found and assigned, and the food is better.
Very clean and comfortable. They are always cleaning and making sure we sanitize our hands. The ship still looks and feels good.
Our cabin was comfortable although small, pretty much standard. We valued our balcony. However, we were slightly disappointed with the third bed for our son. We were hoping for a fold out couch but instead got the standard pull-down bed from the ceiling. The cabin had a door to the adjoining cabin, so we did not even have a couch upon which to toss our stuff, but rather a smaller chair. The door, although always locked, did not seal well and we could clearly hear conversations in the next cabin through the door. Fortunately, the disturbance was tolerable and not during the night.
The live stage band was very good. The ice show was excellent, well done. Other musicians and musical groups across the ship were good. After visiting with the cruise director we learned, as we suspected but not to this degree, that the number of Americans on board was very slight: we were 3 of only 23 Americans out of 3600+ (?) passengers. Consequently, many of the traditional games played on board had a very British response to them, and the headliner comedian focused on the British. That's certainly fine. We enjoyed that change.
This ship had nightly theater production shows different from those on our trip just seven months ago on the Voyager. These shows were new to us, which was quite refreshing. We'd seen the other shows several times, and they were getting old. The dancers here were competent and did well. They exhibited energy, style, grace, and appropriate emotional expressions. However, we thought the female lead singers were too loud and often overbearing. They had, for our taste, too many vocal runs, and they seemed to be trying too hard, as if in an American Idol competition. The male singers were easy to listen to.
The headliner acts were quite good. The comedian was actually funny and the vocal/instrumental act "Graffiti Classics" was funny, musically talented, and entertaining.
As I've stated in other reviews, one of the best shows I saw was NOT by RCCL. On a clear night I would urge you to go to the dark helideck and look at the stars. You'll have to do it from the helideck, where the lights are off and glare is minimized. The Milky Way was clearly visible and there were more stars than I've seen in a long time from our home city location.
My advice has always been to study the excursions on the Royal Caribbean web site (and the locations from other travel sites) and book them in advance via RCCL. We did that and our tickets were waiting for us in our room. In my opinion, RCCL does an excellent job organizing and facilitating tours. As we toured various locations, we were surprised by the amount of population along the fjords. There is more than we were expecting. The slight population certainly did not detract from the natural beauty and most locations are devoid of any population or signs of population. Indeed, Alesund has only 200 people or so, but there are a few farms, buildings, or small villages scattered in places along the fjords. We were blessed with excellent weather for the excursions. Several of our guides stated the clarity of the weather was rare.
Yes, the tours via RCCL can be a bit expensive, BUT I'd much rather buy a tour through the ship and have them know where I'm at, with their local representatives, sometimes even with ship staff. Our bus broke down on a tour on this cruise and on a tour during our most recent cruise in New Zealand, both in remote locations. When in Helsinki, our bus was stopped by the police and, although we were the last to arrive and late, the ship knew our situation, from calls made by the guide, and waited for us. If we had booked a tour independent from the ship under those circumstances, I'm sure our adventure would have been much more stressful and much more expensive. Booking tours via RCCL reduces many risks.
Alesund: AE22 - Alesund Highlights. This was one of only three tours in Alesund. This was a good tour - a nice simple tour of history with a stop at a lookout over the entire city.
Skjolden: OH12 Sognefjell Mountain & Scenic Jotunheim .... A good tour that took us up into the mountains for some of the expected inland views of Norway and also very high along the mountain.
Flam: FM23- Osterbo Valley Mountain Chalet. Our preferred excursion (FM17) was canceled due to an accident and fire in a tunnel, so we took this tour. This worked out very well, because we got some of our best pictures of the expected inland Norway scenery -- mountains rising from a river.
Stavenger: SR26 -Boat trip on Lysefjord. Although I wish our trip down the fjord would have been longer, this was a very good tour. Some of the boat ride, perhaps half each way, was through a more commercial aspect of a waterway leading to the fjord. Again, we saw what we were expecting to see: the "traditional" mountains rising from the fjord. The guides on this trip were very good. Ironically, one was a "transplanted" American there only 3 years.
Southampton Airport drop off. We booked our return flight so that we could take the "airport drop off" tour of Windsor Castle. We even booked the Windsor tour immediately after we booked the cruise; however, two days into the cruise, the Windsor trip was canceled due to lack of participation. We were very disappointed. (OK, fine. With only 23 Americans on board, I understand a bit. How many others (likely British) would want to see Windsor and then be dropped off at the airport?) So, we chose to see Stonehenge with the airport drop off. [Note: either final tour is only about $20 more than the ride to the airport, so the tour is a good deal.] Still, there were only 7 of us, all American, on this Stonehenge tour....and 5 of us (two family groups) booked it in response to the cancellation of the Windsor tour. So, the operator logic is somewhat faulty or perhaps nonexistent. Windsor was visible anyway as part of the drive back, and we persuaded the guide and driver to stop briefly, just so we could take pictures. Stonehenge was interesting and we enjoyed it. Hey, while we were there we'd be fools to pass that of such worldwide significance, just to sit at the airport, but our first choice was Windsor.
The service was sharp and friendly. No issues.
RCCL still does not yet, apparently, fully appreciate continuous internet connectivity for passengers, even when on vacation. There are now WiFi spots across the ship, but access is expensive and slow. I enjoyed watching crew and passengers at port just outside the ship or leaning across the ship, to connect to a free hotspot in a greeting area on the dock.
The total standard gratuity for a day per person is now automatically charged to your on-board account, if it is not prepaid. This is a welcome change making the process easier, albeit much less personal. Several documents stated the tip amount could be reduced or eliminated, but we did not at all consider that.
Be in line 30 minutes before the start of distribution of ice show tickets. The line just to get tickets for a particular day/time can be very long. Correspondingly, because the ice show is open seating, be in line at the door 15-20 minutes before the doors open, in order to get good seats.
Easy, fast, and well organized, especially since we had a final tour. No problems at the airport. Indeed, we arrived 45 minutes before we were allowed by the airline to check our bags!
Food was great...improved. The new menu is a welcome change. Service was friendly and helpful. Excursions were well organized and worth our time - all a good value. The live music across the ship was expert and well done. The stage shows were new to us and much better than what we've seen recently. We always felt safe on the ship and on tours. We bought an open booking for our next cruise while onboard.