Adventure of the seas Review - France and Spain 27oct - 04nov 2013
Ports of call: Southampton - Cherbourg - Vigo - Gijon - Bilbao -Southampton
Embarkation: Smooth and very easy at the So’ton City terminal. Loyalty lanes were clearly labelled and took advantage of that as a crown and anchor member, saving up to 20 minutes of queuing.
Once onboard by 1pm we headed to the windjammer for our first meal. Very busy as expected. By 2pm the cabins were ready. Our interior stateroom 6377 was roomier than expected and the stateroom attendant looked after our room extremely well throughout the cruise.
It was a windy departure and captain Sorensen had adjusted the itinerary to ensure a smooth sailing as much as he could amid storms and low pressure systems developing in the atlantic ocean that were moving east, creating rough conditions in the sea. I liked the insightful updates in TV channel 27 between the captain and the cruise director informing everyone about the weather and showing their thinking on a daily basis.
Portofino was excellent and we went twice. The second time we went with a lovely couple we met in dining room table #464. The risotto was great and the T-bone steak in particular was succulent, not to mention the tiramisu. Service was exceptional. Some of the servers were one of the most experienced with RCI.
The Ice show and quest show were great. My girlfriend and I participated in a flashmob dance which was fun and took place at Studio B just before the Quest show; it was a nice touch to receive a certificate from the entertainment staff for our dedication to have fun during our rehearsals on sea days. Also attended the ballroom dance classes with the experienced couple “Val and Vira” and zumba fitness lesson in Jesters Disco during the sea days. It was great to get involved.
Had nearly forgotten it was Halloween during our cruise but the Monster bash in the Royal Promenade was a lot of fun and we were surprised how many people dressed up. There was definitely a great atmosphere that evening.
Took advantage of the martini happy hour for 6.00 USD each, Brilliantly served and by far excellent value for money when compared to the London standard; Similar story with the cocktails. For 8 dollars you could get a decent cocktail and for spirits and mixers served on double measure would equate to half price compared to London. My girlfriend was really happy she could keep the glasses as well. We hope RCI will continue doing it!
We attended the two crown and anchor events. The captain was very cheerful speaking to us about his experience, working as a captain and shared his excitement about working for the company. Julio Gomez, our cruise sales manager made us feel very welcome and treated us as truly loyal passengers. It certainly made me feel at home. Two thirds of the cruise passengers were first time cruisers with Royal, of which many have not cruised ever before. Enough said, RCI is doing well in attracting not only the loyal, but new people onboard.
One of the reasons I booked the cruise besides the ship, of which I will write about in the next paragraph, was the itinerary. At Vigo, we booked the excursion to Santiago de Compostela; a very notorious city for its cathedral and renowned for its Pilgrimage trail. At Gijon, we booked for Oviedo, the capital of the principality of Asturias, very beautiful and with plenty of local traditions such as the chorizo and its cider. At Bilbao, we only docked until 1:30pm, which was our new early departure time back to Southampton. Despite the short time we booked an excursion the previous night but we managed to oversleep the following morning! We were concerned about the money we had paid (67USD each) but after visiting the shore excursions desk in Deck 5 at 6pm, they were understanding and we were delighted to get a full refund.... which bought me a sale price Citizen watch later that evening ;)
The departure time change was due to the weather coming into Bay of Biscay the next day so we wanted to make sure not to get caught in it although that evening it got very rough with up to 8m waves! But it was safe and an interesting experience. I must admit I could not sleep very well that night but on the flipside my tolearance to rougher weather is greater.
The Ship: This is for me between 60 and 75% of my cruise holiday and with Royal Caribbean I am certainly not too choosy about which ship to go for because I trust all ships are kept to a high standard (It only takes 5 minutes or so to pay attention to the video of Royal in the interactive channel in your stateroom to appreciate that). The only variable would be the size and the number of amenities. Service is what counts followed by food quality and entertainment, in that order. I am pleased to share that the crew did a fantastic job. However, I feel shows in the theatre have degraded a bit and it’s lacking preparation, colourful stages and costumes (Serenade on December 2012 and Brilliance December 2010 was much better). Guests were ok. Bingo we only played on the jackpot which was a whopping 3900USD, the Lyric theatre was full of people, but I do feel the cartons are overpriced!! Jenny and Bjorn made the Bingo experience more fun. Also it was nice to have giveaways in between games. This is definitely a good idea!
The Casino staff was wonderful, the tournaments on sea days are a good choice if you don’t want to spend too much but still have a laugh and who knows, you could win something, like I did with a 2nd place in Blackjack, taking 100USD.
I also used the gym which was big enough with a Jacuzzi in the centre. Great layout, maybe the machines are a bit outdated but seeing as this vessel will undergo a revitalisation it might just get the treat, as well as many other additions and upgrades just before her second round at Southampton next year.
Another spectacular cruise packed with unforgettable memories. Overall I am very satisfied and looking forward to my next cruise holiday with Royal Caribbean International. In fact, knowing that Adventure is coming next spring to Southampton I would sail on her again. But I might consider Independence of the seas this time if not both.