Review of Adventure of the Seas
Depart Southamptom 8th May 2014
We stayed in The Holiday Inn 2/3 minute walk from the terminal building. We had great views of the ship docking at around 5am! (Yes, we were excited!!)
Day 1 & Day 2 at sea
Day 3 Cadiz
Day 4 at sea
Day 5 Barcelona
Day 6 Villefranche
Day 7 Livorno
Day 8 Rome
Day 9 Sardinia
Day 10 at sea
Day 11 Gibraltar
Day 12 Lisbon
Day 13 & Day 14 at sea
Embarkation: The process to check-in and board was very smooth. From leaving our hotel to stepping into the ship was 30 minutes max. We timed it right I think, we left hotel just after 11.30am. The security line wasn’t long and we passed through quite quickly. As we stood in the queue we heard the PA announce various number to board (such as red number 17 & 18) Once through security we went to check-in. The queue here was very short and only stood in line for no more than 3-4 minutes before being called forward and checked in. As we waiting to be checked in the PA made an announcement that it was “free boarding” I thought boost didn’t have to hang around. We got checked in and made our way towards the corridor leading to the ship. The doors got closed in our face and we were told that there were too many people queuing on the escalators and we would have to wait. They then started to hand out coloured and numbered cards. They started at the couple next to us and went all the way round the waiting area, avoiding us! I could see the numbers on the cards getting higher and higher so I cornered the lady and she apologised and went and got us priority cards!!
It felt like a long time we were waiting but in reality it was 10-15 minutes tops. Then we got through the doors and up the corridor. We avoided the boarding photo opportunity, which in hindsight was a mistake as we had bought the photo package and got every official photo on disk. We got our seapass pic taken as we stepped onto the ship and that was us. We were onboard by 12.05pm. Score 9.5/10
Stateroom: We booked a promenade stateroom on deck 7. We have had an indoor cabin before and found it way too dark for us. We found it very difficult to wake up in the mornings. So a promenade cabin, we thought was a good option. We were very happy with the cabin. It was a good size, with two single beds joined to make a huge “double” There was plenty storage, a wardrobe, drawer units, a dressing table and chair with a hairdryer. There is a bowed window over looking the promenade with bench seating, there was a second bench sofa alongside.
The bathroom was a decent size with plenty “cubby holes” to store your things. The shower was a good size with doors rather than curtains that stick to you!
The room was an adjoining stateroom. There was a little noise from next door but nothing to disturb or annoy. We were not disturbed by noise from the promenade that may have been because we were never back to our cabin before 1.30am, often nearer 3am!
Jeremy (Jeremie?) our cabin steward was very efficient. I had ordered the “Grand Romance” package which included a bottle of champagne. We didn’t drink it until day 4 or 5 however Jeremy kept the bottle on ice each day. We got towel animals on around 10 out of 15 nights (bat, elephant, monkey, rabbit, skate (flounder) amongst others)
The room was spotless, I know because I dropped my watch behind the bedside table and had to move it to retrieve the watch. Score: 10/10
Guest Services: We found this department to be very friendly and professional, even when some guests were being rather rude and shouting and making a scene!
We did have an issue with lost property that never turned up. (it was only a hooded top and baseball cap) The head of guest services asked security to review CCTV to see if they could find out what happened to it. As a gesture of goodwill they put a $50 credit onto our account. That was generous as it had been my mistake by leaving it behind! Score: 5/5
MDR (Dinner) We had early seating on deck 3. The food was fabulous. The meat was so tender, you could cut it with your finger, it just pulled apart. It didn’t matter if it was beef, lamb, duck. It was the best food I have ever tasted and I like my food. The portion size was good. (I have read on other reviews that the portions are small – NO! NO! There is no way that the portions are small.) The appetisers were delicious and the desserts were gorgeous (some days I had two!) The BBB Crème Bruleé is to die for, I went for this option 6 times out of the 15 meals.
The menu changed everyday, with the exception of the staple offerings. There was an opportunity to pay extra and get fillet mignon, lobster. We didn’t take this up and we never felt that it was pushed.
One evening our waiter Otis couldn’t recommend a dessert as they were all lovely. So we asked for a selection and Otis filled our table with desserts that the six of us shared. (Wine/drink service at dinner to follow) Score 10/10
MDR Breakfast: Buffet or table service. We used this a few times and it was a much more relaxed atmosphere than the rubgy scrum that is better known as the windjammer!
The buffet breakfast was quicker if you are in a hurry, as you can fill your plate and eat at your own pace.
The table service, on deck 5 was at a slower pace. Perfect on a dull sea day.
The food was the same for both and was very nice. British bacon and sausage (if you are of the “I only eat british food” brigade)
You can ask for a table for just the two/four of you. However most times you share a larger table with fellow cruisers. Some people had real problems with this! Get a grip, it’s a good way to meet fellow cruisers especially if you are cruising as a couple.
MDR Wine/drink: I felt the bar service was kind of slow in the MDR. We only ever had, got the offer of, two glasses of wine. Was it because we were on a package? I don’t think so. We had no problems elsewhere. Perhaps if we were drinking by the bottle we would have had our glasses kept full. Score 3/5
WindJammer (daytime): This is great for an informal meal. It is always busy during the day. I honestly believe that some folks grabbed a good table for breakfast and sat there all day until dinner. This was probably truer when the weather outside wasn’t great. One needed to find a table then one of the party would keep the table with the other went for food. There were plenty staff during the day cleaning & clearing and getting hot & cold drinks. The food was kind of repetitive there was always a roast of some kind; beef, chicken, ham. Repeated throughout the cruise. My DH says the salads were of a very good quality and he had no problem with choice. The desserts were nearly always the same. Small cakes, jelly or mousse that sort of thing. The second have of the cruise they were offering ice cream with various toppings. Score: 7/10
Windjammer (Evening meal): It is much quieter at this time. Very easy to find a seat. Much less staff to clean, clear and serve. We used this only one evening as we just couldn’t be bothered with dinner in MDR. The staff never once came near us to offer us any drinks, our empty plates were left to build up on our table. The food was just like what is available for lunch. It wasn’t what was on offer in the MDR. We will not use the WJ for dinner again. Score: 2/10
Daytime entertainment: quizzes and expensive bingo – usual cruise fare, usual prizes. We won a key chain. However they found a stack of medals and were handing them out later in the cruise. Score 4/5
Theatre (Production Shows): There was only three production shows during our 15 night cruise. We found out from staff that RCI had taken the production shows from a one week cruise and stretched them over the 15 nights! The production shows were very good, although at 40 minutes they aren’t very long. The staging, lighting and production is very good. There just wasn’t enough of them. The Lyric is set out as a proper theatre as opposed to cabaret seating as I’ve seen on other ships. If one wanted a drink it was easiest to buy one at another bar and take it in. There were waiting staff taking orders however if you were in the middle of a row it made getting their attention and then giving them your order and receiving said order difficult. Also one couldn’t get a drink during the show. This may be the reason the shows only last around 40 minutes. Score 6/10 (lack of shows brings the score down)
Theatre (Headline Acts): Some of the headliners were quite good. Some were dire. There wasn’t many that took our fancy so we didn’t watch many. **Top Tip** If there is a comedy magician “headlining” then DON’T GO! You’ll have more fun removing your nose hair with tweezers! He was awful. Score 2/10
Promenade Entertainment: Three shows in the promenade in our cruise. All very good, but kind of short at around 40 minutes. It can get very busy, if you have a promenade view stateroom then that might be an option. We didn’t but we would have had a good view. Score: 9/10
Johnny Rockets: Fab diner with a cover charge ($4.95) for all you can eat. “Everyone say hello!!” I won’t tell you what that means, go and find out. When you sit down you get 2 large bowls, one of fries, one of onion rings. Then you choose your burger. They just keep bringing bowls of fries/onion rings. They offer you another burger, if you wish. Then of course there is pudding! Ice cream sundae or apple pie.
**Top Tip** Have the apple pie, it’s delicious!
There is music playing from the era and every 15/20 minutes the staff stand at your table and dance. “Everyone say Good-bye!!” Score 10/10
Excursions: We have been to most of the ports of call already and we are quite happy to do our own thing. However we decided to take a ships excursion to Rome. Our reasoning is that with Rome being 90 minutes from the port anything could happen with regards to getting back to the ship on time. We have been to Rome twice before, doing ships tours each time. Both times we have heard of passengers that were mugged/robbed and spent their whole time in Rome in a police station filing reports.
Our excursion was the one that went into the Coliseum. Ships excurions are not cheap and for the two of us were over £120. We were handed electronic earpieces so that we could hear the guide we picked up in Rome.
We got dropped off a few minutes walk from the coliseum and were taken into it quite quickly. It was very interesting and we spent 60 to 75 minutes within the walls. When we left we headed across the road and up into the Roman Forum. We had visited here on our first cruise and we loved the Roman Forum. That time we spent around 2 hours exploring. (back then (12years ago) there were no electronic earpieces therefore the guide had to keep his group close so that we could all hear.
This time our guide had us in and around the Roman Forum in under 20 mins! It felt a bit like a boot camp march! Then it was toward the coach pick up point so that we could get dropped off for our free time.
We got three hours of free time and we managed to fit in a lovey lunch, visit to the Pantheon, Trevi fountain and Spanish steps before making it back to our pick up point. **Top Tip** The best ice cream I have ever tasted is from a little gelato on the left hand side of the Trevi fountain as you look at it. Score: 7/10
Tendering at Villefranche: We had read of horrendous tendering problems with RCI on the internet. We were concerned.
We went down early for our tender number and I think we had number 15. We were told we would be called between 10.30/10.40. Great time for a leisurely breakfast. We went for a table service breakfast and took our time. As we headed back to the stateroom to get ready with almost 30 minutes to spare we heard our number being called. So it was a quick rush to get things together then dashed down to deck 1 to get the tender. There wasn’t a queue, we got straight onto the tender and we sat on the tender for perhaps 10 minutes till it filled up. Painless! Score 5/5
Pools/Decks: Unfortunately on most of our 6 sea days the weather was not great. Port days the weather was generally good. We found there was always plentiful supply of pool towels regardless of time of day. The main pool area, especially, by the pool was always popular. There were towels left on chairs. However there were chairs to be had somewhere. It may have been on decks 12 or 13 but you could get a chair in the sun! There are two pools (salt water and quite cold) + two whirlpools. There is also a new large screen (We called it the jumbo-tron) Until around lunch time the screen played a European TV program similar to the UK “you’ve been framed” it played inane music along with canned laughter which at times could be annoying. From lunchtime(ish) they played music videos from RCTV. There were some kids however they weren’t bothersome. I think most were in the various kids clubs. Score: 4/5
Solarium Pool Area: This is the adults only area (16+) I didn’t see any kids in this area. The pool area was smaller than the main pool. There was more shade as there was more of the ships structure to cause shade. Therefore loungers in the sun were more difficult to find. The loungers here have a cushion and are therefore more comy! Again there are two pools (salt water, but warmer than the main pool) + two whirlpools. This area was nice and quiet. The one thing it could with is a clock.
General Bar Service: We found the service in all the bars was very good. The service wasn’t slow and there was no problem with having a drinks package. The bars we used mostly were Viking Crown, Schooner, Casino and Champagne. Our favourite was the Champagne bar. Philip and his team were very friendly and knew our names in no time. We were so impresses with Philip and Juxton that we filled in a WOW card for them both and we gave Philip some money to buy his team some drink from the crew bar. We found in all bars that the drinks were strong, more so in Jesters. Score 10/10
Bars/Lounges: We found that there wasn’t a quiet lounge, unless you count the card/games room. The Viking crown lounge would be a great lounge if only there wasn’t Karaoke blasting out. There are great views from Deck 14 out over the sea and it would be perfect with no music or a piano tinkling away, with no amplification.
The music in many of the lounges was IMO quite loud and intrusive. The music from the lobby bar (deck 4) was heard in the Champagne bar (deck 5). The pianist in the schooner bar was amplified and we felt it was too loud to hold a conversation in comfort. Score 3.5/5
Casino: Roomy with plenty slots and tables. Slot machines from 1cent to $30/spin.
Biggest negative for us was the smoking area. Our clothes always reeked of smoke after we had been in the casino. **Top Tip** If you are just after a bit of fun then find the “shake your booty” machine. We spent 30cent/spin. When you get the feature you have to choose three pirates to shake their booty and get you cash! Score 4/5
Vitality Spa: We found the Spa treatments over priced and the “free” seminars were just a sales pitch. The indoor whirlpool, steam room and sauna were good. We never used the gym but it looked well equipped. DH booked a male grooming service. A shave, head neck arm and hand massage. It cost around $95 + tip. They cut his top lip as they shaved him. She did knock 10% off but the tip still had to be added and we didn’t notice until the last night. Had we noticed before we would have asked for the tip to be removed then have the 10% discount. Never mine we know for next time. Score 3.5/5
Photgraphy: There are official photgraphers everywhere. There are loads of photo opportunities starting before you embark. We took a photo package before we sailed $249 for EVERY photo on a disk. There are photo opportunities at every port, usually three photos. Every evening before/after dinner there are three opps (outside each dining room) different backgrounds. They also come round the dining room a couple of times and of course there is the formal wear evenings. You will also spot them by the stairs and the “fishy” art. By the end of the cruise we had 169 official photos, on disk. We decided to buy the prints so we paid an additional $100 and got all the prints too. The large prints were $22.99 each and the smaller ones (the port ones)were cheaper, think it was $14.99. There was various other packages you could buy. The pictures were all good quality. **Top Tip** Don’t waste your money on the “your cruise in review” dvd. We didn’t buy one, we won a copy at the art auction. It’s just a glorified advert for RCI. It is about 55 minutes long with perhaps 15 minutes footage with passengers in it. The clips of the production shows only show the video, the sound had been dubbed over with their “elevator” music. If we had bought it we would have been very disappointed. Score 9/10
Entertainment Staff: We felt that the entertainment staff was not visible. Perhaps this is to do with their uniform not standing out enough. We only saw two staff, James & Michael, both were chatty but we didn’t see much of them. Who were the rest of the staff? Was there anymore? Well there was mad money Mandy, whose only job, it appears was to do the expensive bingo.
Cruise Director: Rob McNally, he was good but I’ve seen better. He had only joined the ship the week previous so perhaps he had to “find his feet”
Activities Manager (what is that title all about?? Surely it’s Assistant Cruise Director?): Jamie Fentiman he was very funny he had a great rapport with passengers of all ages.
Score 8/10 (Jamie brought this score up)
Ship Cleanliness: There was always cleaning going on around the ship. The handrails on the stairwells were cleaned often. Nearly everytime I used the gents rest room there was someone in cleaning. It was reassuring to see. As a side note I did not see ANYONE leave a rest room without washing n drying their hands. ** Top Tip** Either use a hand towel to open the door to leave the rest room or use the hand towel to use the button (disabled access) to open the door automatically. Score 5/5
Appearance of Ship: The Adventure although it’s 13 years old does not show its age. It appears to be good condition. There was a couple of bench seating in the WJ that was torn/worn and the crazy golf had some wear & tear. It had just gone through a brief dry dock a few weeks previous to our cruise, it is a pity this couldn’t have been fixed. Carpet in the corridors by the staterooms was being replaced during our cruise, starting port side upper decks working down to the lower decks. It should have been done during dry dock however the shipment was delayed so it had to be done “in service” We found no inconvenience they did the work between 10am and 4pm when most folks were on deck or on shore. Score 9/10
Disembarkation: We were allocated an early number a quick visit to guest services got it changed by an hour to 8.45am. Our bags were outside by 11pm the night before and we had our one and only early night. We were tucked up in bed by half past midnight!
An early rise, shower and nipped up to the MDR for a buffet breakfast. Back to stateroom, final finishing touches, carry on bags & toiletries packed and were headed to our meeting point, MDR on deck 5 after a final walk through a very quiet promenade. We were in the MDR by 8.20am and sat down with a tea. By 8.30 our number was called and we headed down to deck 4 to leave. There was only a small queue (1-2 min) we had our sea pass scanned for the last time and stepped off the ship. We were number 33 and we must have been one of the first as we found our bags very easily and stood around for about 5 minutes to see if there was anyone around to say final goodbyes to. We were through customs and out in the wet Southampton weather at 8.45am. Our cruise was over! Score 10/10
We were disappointed to see a number of passengers by pass the alcohol gel at the entrance to the MDR & WJ. This was in the main the older passenger, the ones who really should, not only, know better but be extra careful as stomach upsets can be more serious at their age. It was also the older passenger who thought the tongs were for someone else as he fingered the bread rolls in the WJ. I know when one has false teeth one needs to find a soft roll in order not to break them – But USE the tongs!
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have been on other ships. Our biggest disappointment was the entertainment.
Best thing was the food – it was delicious in the MDR.
I believe we will cruise with RCI again, give them the chance to prove the entertainment can be good. We’d also cruise a little later in the season for two reason, firstly for better weather and secondly to get a younger demographic. There was no “quest” on this cruise due to the demographics. (I wouldn’t have joined in the Quest, however I would have watched!!)
We did meet some lovely people, through the CC “meet & mingle” If you are reading this then I do hope that you agree with at least some points.
**Final Top Tip** If you are travelling either as solo passenger or as a couple then look at cruise critic and see if there is a “meet & mingle” for your cruise, it’s a great way to meet people even if its just a hello as you are passing. I don’t know what cruise lines do this, I know RCI organise the “meet & mingle” in a lounge for the first or second day.
My final score is 170.5/210, which is around 81%, a pretty good result in my opinion.
I haven’t reviewed the ports as in all but one we did our own thing.