Preface: This writing was written by "weatherguy", on June 21, 2014, and relays my personal experiences I encountered on Adventure of the Seas cruise ship, during the May 30, 2014 to June 12, 2014 voyage, visiting Iceland and Norway.
I. Background Information.
We are a couple in our 40's, travelling from New Orleans, Louisiana. This cruise marks our 17th cruise, in the past 12 years, and 6th cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Consequently, I have a goodly amount of experience to compare with from other cruises of the past. We travelled just as a couple, without any children, and secured a promenade stateroom cabin on Adventure of the Seas, on deck 8, mid-ship. Of all my 17 cruises, this cruise sailing was the highest cruise rate of any cruise I'd ever paid for, round-trip from Southampton, England visiting Norway & Iceland. But if you skip down to my summary at the bottom, you'll know it was well worth it, every penny of it!
II. Hotel Information.
I chose to arrive Southampton, England, which was the port of embarkation, one full day in advance to account for potential travel delays or mishaps with the airlines. The hotel I chose was the Premier Inn, Southampton West Quay. For International standards, this hotel was suitable for us, & provided a good night's stay. All furnishings in the hotel room were in acceptable working order, and is one of the newer hotels in the area. I did encounter one major mishap in the hotel room. My power surge protector blew-up when I used an adapter plug to go from 230V down to 120V. An adapater plug was not sufficient. A voltage converter is needed here at this hotel. My power surge suppresor was obviously not a dual voltage unit. Consequently, when the it blew, it took out the TV, the lamp, and the blow dryer on the reverse side of the wall. The hotel comp'ed me for the inconvenience. Understand and know that, in the United Kingdom you will pay for all ancillary services. It's not like in America. You will pay extra for useage of internet here. You'll pay extra if you want a breakfast too. There are no courtesy shuttles to take guests to the seaport pier, even though it's only about 1/2 mile to 1 mile away. A cabbie cost me about £5 and 20 pence. The English breakfast offered at the hotel gave 2 options: A continental breakfast or a hot breakfast. The difference was about £6.50 versus £8.75, as I remember. The internet worked fine from my room in the hotel, and I used my battery the whole way, because of the mishap with the voltage conversion hardships I encountered. The bed was adequate; a bit springy & had mileage on it. The shower tub is among the narrowest I've seen, with the length of my foot, being the distance WIDTH across! Everything is smaller in Europe & U.K. Cars are smaller; hotel rooms are smaller; beds are smaller, & tubs are smaller. To the credit of the hotel service staff, they were able to provide me with washcloths upon request, as well as extra shampoo & body shower gel. No bar soap is provided at this hotel.
III. Travel to Embarkation Port of Southampton, England.
This was a breeze! It was truly the fastest embarkation experience I've encountered in 17 cruises! Since we stayed at the Premier Inn Southampton West Quay, we were only a 5-minute drive away from the seaport. It cost only £5.20 for a transport from the hotel to the Adventure of the Seas cruise ship. Check-in and embarkation here at Southampton was among the quickest, most efficiently handled embarkation experience that I've encountered in 17 cruises. There was NO waiting. We were quickly on the ship in no time! What a pleasure!
IV. Ship Information, (adopted & extracted from the Royal Caribbean website, et al.)
Adventure of the Seas, is a Voyager-class ship, and first entered service in the year 2001, so it is getting to be an older ship, as it is now 13 years old at the time of this published writing, (June 2014). It received a recent dry dock refurbishment in March 2014, but even as I was cruising on this ship in June 2014, carpet was still being replaced in the Lyric theatre and on other higher decks where passenger cabins were situated.
• Length: 1,020 ft
• Weight: 142,000 gross tonnage
• Cruising Speed: 22 kts
• Max Beam: 157.5 ft.
• Draft: 29 ft.
For a ship this age of 13 years old, the most obvious wear & tear I found was at the elevators where several of the elevator key buttons were missing, or otherwise worn & dirty. Also many elevator floor buttons would not light on one side when pressed. Severe overcrowding on the elevators on this cruise was frequently encountered & become commonplace. Public bathrooms weren't kept as clean as they should be.
On a cheery, festive note, activities on this cruise were a pleasant HIGHLIGHT on this voyage, in comparison with many other cruises I have been on. Your cruise director, Rob McNally, has incorporated a goodly amount of activities in to this 13-Night cruise. Many game shows were featured, an abundance of the usual trivia, many different kinds of dance venues, that included line dancing, ballroom dancing, themed dancing from the 60's, 70's, 80's, & even 50's twist, were showcased & appeared on the cruise compass directory from day to day. Creative game shows I participated in, which included "Finish That Lyrics" game show, "It's Your Choice Game Show" and after pushing hard for a special request, Jaime, the Activities Director, went ahead & incorporated the Quest Game show on this cruise, although they were first not going to do it. But, I hounded him, until I got the "go-ahead". As you can see, I'm BIG in to game show participation! They also had "Fill in the Blanks" game show & a version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionnaire?" game show.
Other activities included mini golf tournaments, poker tournaments, art auctions, card games, movie showings in the small screening room, bingo, slot tournaments, blackjack tournaments, wellness seminars, shuffleboard games, complimentary footprint analysis, and even a rare belly dance class. Ummm, okay, that was weird! If you're not in to these many activity games, then they did have the more passive "destination lecture" talks given about ports of call, which typically appeals to many who desire history enrichment & an overview of upcoming ports of call. Did I mention there was all kinds of different trivia games? There were also many various sports venues up in the sports court. In the sports and fitness area, they sponsored pathway to pilates & pathway to yoga for a small fee. Talks were given on acupuncture & facial rejuvenation. I even caught a Wii Tennis challenge on the cruise compass daily, too. There are so many other kinds of activities in addition to what's been listed, as even a napkin artistry class and a choreography flash mob dance that I participated in. There's absolutely something for everyone in the activities department here!
The activities offered were SO STRONG, SO ABUNDANT, and such a robust strength on this cruise, that I award it the HIGHEST marks possible, and makes up for any shortfall deficiencies in other categories that I rate on this ship.
One particular Ass't Maitre d', whose name was Amit Chandra, really stood out, head & shoulders above the rest! I tipped him handsomely, for effectively serving as my personalized assistant, as I requested expedited service in the main formal dining room, so I could get out of the 6 PM dining room service quick to get front row seats in the 7 PM Lyric theatre show. He even went out of his way to provide exemplary service in arranging a separate private table to seat me one night for formal night, with a very nice couple of ladies from Long Island New York, whom I enjoyed my time with very much on the cruise. His willingness to go above and beyond deserves special recognition for an outstanding degree of service for his fine job. His service was remarkable, & he's the BEST I've ever had in 17 cruises! And that is the truth! In other areas, stateroom service was adequate & courteous. My stateroom steward always acknowledged me & was friendly & professional, too. My original dining room waiter was quite slow, though, at our table for 8, table #438. So Amit really stepped things up a bit for me, by intervening, to accelerate service when needed.
As for service in the Windjammer buffet, I was pleasantly surprised how WELL the service attendants were here. Many times I was approached asking if they could get any beverages for me, like water, juices, milk, or lemonade. This has been a rarity on previous cruises. They were also quick at clearing tables and taking dirty dishes away, a signature of fine service. However, one particular gripe I had about the Windjammer was the HOURS of operation. Too many times in the EARLY morning, it was not open EARLY enough for those who had EARLY morning tours. This was quite frustrating to me. I opened up the door anyways to let myself in, as though I owned the place & helped myself to whatever I could muster. Overcrowding in the Windjammer was commonplace again at the peak hours of eating. The key to get around this was to either get there EARLY or get there late. If you come during peak hours, you'll become lost looking for a table & finally expect to dine in the company with others, as you'll have to share tables. One unfortunate drawback was that the beverages that were filled, had no ice in them, so juices were room temperature. They had attendants here at all times to fill the glasses, but did so without ice.
As for guest services, at the reception desk, again I was pleasantly surprised how lines were quite minimal, and they efficiently moved people through the line at a decent speed. I had no long waits at any time I was there. They were business-like, but not overly friendly, as I've seen on other cruises, like Holland America & Celebrity.
You can check your stateroom billing portfolio from your stateroom TV, and can also book tour excursions from there as well. So if you see a long line & it's a simple billing question, you can access this from your stateroom TV. So there are other ways to explore self-service options if lines get exceedingly long on your cruise.
Originally, I booked an inside cabin stateroom on deck 8. When I kept checking for rate drops or cabin upgrades, I finally clinched an upgrade to a promenade stateroom cabin, on deck 8, midship. This time it was cabin stateroom #8609 we were seated in. The promenade stateroom has an inside window view of the promenade down below. For anyone with questions about noise emanating from the promenade area of the ship, I can attest to my personal experiences. On the whole, it was generally quiet where I was at. I was 3 decks above the quiet Champagne bar, and was well-removed from the noisier English pub, that is farther found up front, in the promenade. However, on nights when there were parades or "themed" parties of music held in the promenade of the ship on deck 5, the music CAN BE HEARD inside the stateroom, even at the far distance I was away, up on deck 8 towards the mid-ship elevators. So, if you're an EARLY sleeper, and are sensitive to noise, you have 2 options: Avoid getting a promenade inside stateroom; or bring a sound machine as I did that masks extraneous outside noises. Since I went to sleep late and got up early, noise wasn't a problem for me, as I had a hand in those themed parties & parades anyways, participating in them, as it wasn't sleep time for me, until around 12 Midnight or 1 AM.
As for the functionality of the cabin, and amenities, there are 2 sockets for 110-120 voltage electronics. This is the standard for U.S. electronic devices. There are also European plug outlets in the stateroom as well. So now, everyone can find some compatibility, even if you're coming from Europe. A hair dryer is provided in the vanity drawer. This stateroom was 160 square feet, with a sitting area at the window side. In truth, this was an obstructed window view with decorative ornamentation obstructing my straight view outward. Side views were unobstructed. Ice can be provided upon request. The sink & shower worked without any problems. One time the toilet stopped flushing, so a report to guest reception got maintenance up there quickly and resolved the problem very timely. You're supplied with bar soap and shampoo. Towel linens were scratchy & thin, & not their best collection I've seen on cruise ships. I never watched TV during the entire 13-Nights, so I don't know about what TV channels are offered. I was too busy participating in many shows. The stateroom safe was situated in an awkward position facing sideways inside the closet, instead of face-on, making for difficult access to the safe, with the door swinging open in to the clothes. The bedding was okay, and I always fell asleep quickly every night. Climate control was excellent, too. Hot water worked well, but water pressure in the sink was weak. Overall, the cabin functionality and condition was very good for a ship this age at 13-years-old.
Royal Caribbean, in my previous 6 encounters with them, has always exhibited a weakness in the QUALITY of food. It is mass-produced, and thereby is processed food. However, quantity of food is never a problem on any cruise line. This dining experience was a bit different on this go-around in RELATIVE comparison with previous Voyager-class & Freedom-class ships that I have been on.
I found that on Adventure of the Seas cruise ship, as long as you stick with the beef and red meat selections, you're generally going to have a decent dining experience in the main formal dining room. Desserts I found to be actually ABOVE-average, several times, for a Voyager-class ship. In comparison with my Freedom of the Seas cruise and Mariner of the Seas cruise, this dining & quality of food experience on Adventure of the Seas was the BEST of the 3 ships I encountered, in the main formal dining room. I never dined at Giovanni's Table, the specialty restaurant. Nor, did I ever go to Johnny Rockets, a $4.95 cover charge fee applies there for a 50's style burger & milkshake experience.
Seafood selections in the main formal dining room at dinner time came accompanied by a repulsively strong seafood odor, a sign that the seafood is not fresh. Fresh seafood should not come with strong, foul odors, but very frequently this occurred, and I just ceased with any further seafood selections. I don't even recall lobster tails being served either. Any ethnic cuisine dishes I auditioned weren't so great. If you're choosing a cruise, solely for QUALITY of FOOD, this is NOT the cruise line you should be looking at!
As for dining in the Windjammer buffet, the quality of food up here was about average, in comparison with other cruises. Run-of-the-mill is the norm here. Morning buffets strangely served baked beans, (a British staple of morning food), which is something us Americans don't consume at morning time. But, overall, the morning breakfasts were acceptable and I didn't have any complaints with selection here, for breakfast. The yogurt was quite strange, again a cultural difference clash between my American taste and the British style of yogurt. Peak dining times in the Windjammer resulted in inability to find adequate seating. Fortunately for me, I came EARLY or LATE, for breakfasts and EARLY for any rare dinners I had up there. But I do recall on occasion, in a couple instances when I had a light lunch, I integrated with others, sharing a table a few times.
I rarely ate lunch during this cruise. It was generally breakfast and dinner and that was it. They say you're to gain about 1 pound in weight, for every 1 day you spend on a cruise ship. Ergo, a 13-night cruise should have gained me 13 pounds, but I escaped gaining only 3 pounds instead!
About Cafe Promenade: I don't have anything favorable to say about Cafe Promenade, at all. I just won't sugar coat it, gang. I think it should be blown-up and erased from the map! The seating is always tight & unavailable. It's a very dark & gloomy place to sit, inside, if you're not close to the promenade walking strip. ALL the food selections are unappealing and should have a COMPLETE menu overhaul! The few items they offer are just undesireable. Little, cold finger sandwiches and the same ones served day in & day out gets tiring. I really crave & miss the equivalent Blue Lagoon cafe' on Norwegian cruise line, which is model cafe all other cruise lines should be aiming for. On NCL cruise line, they serve soul food in their late night cafe: chicken wings; chicken fingers, hot fish sandwiches, burgers made to order, and hot french fries. But on RCCL's Adventure of the Seas' cafe', all you get is these little, cold finger sandwiches, of ham & cheese or tomato, mozzarella; cold tuna finger sandwiches, or as a final ditch last choice, what they attempt to label as pizza that is just NOT pizza, as the way I understand the definition of pizza to be. It's just a train wreck! I sometimes wonder if they pedal-out these undesireable food selections as a means of crowd control to keep people away in order to make seating available in the scant supply of seating they have in that little dark hole of a cafe they have. People were exiled to Cafe Promenade when the Windjammer buffet was not open, even in the early morning hours for tour excursions, on port days when Windjammer should have adjusted its hours to be open.
By entertainment, I classify this as the nighttime shows in the Lyric Theatre & the dance bands that performed in the lounges. I really connected with the Teddy Quartet dance band. The lead drummer looked me eye-to-eye early on in the cruise, when weather-GIRL and I were on the dance floor about to take our seats, and leaned towards me, asking if I had any special requests for any dance music or any dance style that he could play us. Y'know I don't ever recall the lead musician turning to me on any cruise, asking me what I'd like for his band to play, so that was really an outstanding experience to write about! I felt that he & his band were there to PLEASE us, as the passengers, and customer service on a cruise ship had been revitalized! In the past on previous cruises, most musicians just play what THEY want to play, and don't consider their viewership market audience, sometimes blasting people out of bars & lounges, too, with too much volume. So, weather-GIRL and I appreciated the Teddy Quartet dance band, & we danced a goodly bit to their music, dancing Cha-Cha, Waltz, Rhumba, Meringue, Samba, Tango, and a few swing tunes as well.
In the pre-recorded ballroom dance music down in Jester's on deck 3, we got to spread our legs out a little more with less people down there, where we practiced our beginner steps to Fox Trot and Tango. So we passed a good time with dancing to many music venues.
As for the nighttime shows in the Lyric Theatre, I took an instant notice to Rob McNally's entertaining style in which he was really heavy at incorporating comedy in to many shows. He had the comedy of "Tucker" the first night; the second night, RCCL dancers peformed "Invitation to Dance" featuring a couple ballroom dancers in the production show. A rather unique show I'd never seen before was the Graffiti Classics, a string quartet of musicians with an original concoction of blending music & comedy together! That was pretty entertaining! The Love & Marriage Game Show came by night #4. Then day 5 came headliner comedy showtime of Steve Rawlings. Day 6 brought the comedy ventriliquist of Jimmy Tamley & Diane Cousins' vocal comedy came along by Day 7. On Day 8 a one-woman vocal show took place, that had no dancing, but told a story, through singing. I was a bit bored with that show. It took me all the way until Day 9, to finally land a spot on-stage, in the BIG Lyric Theatre, whereby I BECAME the entertainment, when the hypnotist show came in, that involved audience participation. Previous shows like the ventriliquist & magician also had one or two audience participation shows, but only 1 or 2 graduated up on stage, and I was unable to get picked for those shows. They then had 2 more production shows on the cruise ship, and ended with the cruise on Night #13, with a 2nd magician that infused some comedy in to his show, as well.
On the whole, I guess the nighttime theatrical shows were acceptable & okay. The production shows could have been been better. The costumes weren't that fanciful, as on Carnival & Princess cruise lines, and music selections could have been better, in the production shows. There were no Cirque du Soleil production shows, as you see on Norwegian Cruise Lines. All the headliner shows, whereby they contracted out entertainers, seemed to be all British entertainers. This ship had a demographic of 80% British, and less than 20% Americans aboard this cruise ship. The British style of entertainment and their humor is more toned-down than the American style of entertainment & humor. So when I appeared on-stage, I was pushing the envelope!
I'll say the BEST production show you'll see on this ship is going to be the ICE skating show, down on Deck 3, in Studio B. So be sure you get your reserved tickets, (free), to see that one. There, they do have more costuming, and it's a more dynamically-changing production show with skaters on ice, scenery changes, costuming changes, and you'll even get to see some sky dancer scenes! So that's the one show that stands out above all the rest. Don't miss it!!
X. Port & Shore Excursions.
• Port #1; In Reykjavik, Iceland, Day 1:
-- I booked the Golden Circle with Lunch tour.
Weather was uncooperative on our 1st day in Iceland, where we received rain & cloudy skies much of the day. This ship-sponsored tour visited Thingvellir Nat'l Park, geysir area, and the Gulfoss waterfall. The tour accomplished what it was supposed to; however these Icelandic tour operators RUSH, RUSH, RUSH!! OMG. I've been on a heckuva LOT of cruises & numerous tours, but NONE of which were as so much rushed as in Iceland. The tour operators have zero tolerance for even being as little as 3 minutes late. They will come hunting after you, if you're just a smidgen over your time allowance. As for my subjective opinions of what was visited, I think Thingvellir park is totally missable, and not really worthy of visiting. It is where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is at, but the walk and the scenery is totally missable. The geysir area, Strokkur geyser, and Gulfoss waterfall are DEFINITELY worth visiting however! You are afforded several different viewing angles up close and farther back at a couple different vantage points for pictures. So, 2 out of 3 isn't bad! I only wished we had a cooperative sunny sky. I cannot stress enough the extreme importance for a sunny sky, when picture-taking. As we had a cloudy sky, this meant NO background contrast in pictures when it came to the Strokkur geyser eruption, which comes about every 4-6 minutes. Since the steam & water are white in appearance, and a cloudy sky background is also white during daylight hours, this means no contrast, without a blue sky background, so the picture you receive you cannot differentiate the outline of the geyser, as it blends with the white background of a cloudy sky. This is NO fault of anybody or any tour operator; just bad luck about Northern climates where cloudy skies are typically the norm. I recommend this tour for the Strokkur geyser and the geysir area, as well as for the Gulfoss waterfall, but not for Thingvellir Park.
• Port #1, 2nd day: 2nd tour in Reykjavik, Iceland:
-- On our 2nd day in Reykajavik, Iceland, I booked Krysuvik Geothermal Field and Blue Lagoon, a ship-sponsored tour.
I must say, the Blue Lagoon is NOT to be missed! Be sure you visit this area, as it is a most unique place seeing the volcanic rock, amongst the bluish-hue of the geothermal waters. Again, we were plagued with another CLOUDY day, and so the true brilliant colors of the Blue Lagoon could not be realized the day we were there. I have no doubt if we had a sunny sky, it would be a stunningly bright blue appearance to the Blue Lagoon, and vividly, colorful memorable photos would be the reward! Nonetheless, I could still salvage decent pictures, with the steam & gasses gracing the backdrop of the Blue Lagoon. People inside the waters of the Blue Lagoon, could be seen with the white silica placed on their faces. It is known that the geothermal baths of the Blue Lagoon have healing properties for people with joint pain and the silica acts as a natural cleansing agent of the face. Since I'm a guy, I don't need all this pampering, but I did want to take a visit to see the Blue Lagoon, but didn't actually go in it. Weather-GIRL, my other half, did choose to go in to the Blue Lagoon on a separate tour.
As for the 2nd portion of this tour, the Krysuvik Geothermal Field, this part was a little disappointing. As a comparison, after visiting New Zealand's Rotorua geothermal wonderland park back in a cruise in 2011, this encounter at Krysuvik, seemed like "small potatoes". It is missable. What may have helped this visit to the Krysuvik Geothermal Fields, is if we had SUNSHINE, to enhance the colors for better picture quality, & greater contrast, but I really do feel a cloudy sky really hampered the colors of the geothermal deposits, the acidity colors of the mud, and the varying oranges, greens, browns, and whites of the landscape here. Sulfuric gasses can be seen lifting up from the ground's landscape here, and there are some spotty locations of boiling mud, off the trail that can be seen and pictured. Notice that there is NO red lava and NO volcanic eruptions anywhere near this area. So, if you're looking for red lava, it's not going to happen here!
The final 3rd visit of this tour was to a new Viking Museum to visit the Viking ship replica called the "Islendingur". Here, you will get the opportunity to board this Viking vessel at the museum and take pictures inside this museum. I managed to get a few creative pictures. I gathered a sense of appreciation at admiring the pitch & steep slope of this Viking ship's hull & its amazing architecture all the way around. This tour I recommend for the Blue Lagoon, and for the Viking Museum; but not for the Krysuvik Geothermal Field.
• Port #2, Akureyri, Iceland:
Between Akureyri and Reykjavik, JUST comparing these 2 ports of call at the seaport ALONE, by far, without a doubt, Akureyri is the PRETTIEST of these 2 ports in Icleand. It's a suprise there aren't more ships going here! It is surrounded by a beautiful mountain landscape, all the way around, and in early June, the mountains still had snow-capped peaks on them, affording for excellent picture opportunities!
Okay, let's move on to the tour I chose here. This time it was the "Jewels of the North", a ship-sponsored tour.
This tour visits some more geothermal fields, and this time, you get to see elevated fumaroles that appear above-ground. You can hear them hissing, and see distinctive thick plumes of steam emitted from them carried, downwind by the wind flow. There are boiling pools of gray thin water seen. The backdrop scenery are surrounding mountains, and the predominant colors of these geothermal fields are white, orange, and gray hues. The next segment of this tour covers pseudo-craters found next to Hotel Gigur. The restaurant in Hotel Gigur where we visited offers a scenic view of a lake with mountain scenery beyond the lake. A most scrumptious spice cake was served to us, resembling a gingerbread cake, with smooth frosting layers, absolutely delicious, but I'm a sucker for gingerbread cake anyways! When arriving at this hotel, we were attacked by midget insects, swarming in high density. There was no way to avoid them, unless you had a net over your face. I swallowed one or two, and breathed-in one or two as well through the nose, when getting off the motor coach bus in to the hotel lobby. I've never seen anything like this in my life! The final stop, the Godafoss waterfall, was the most worthy sightseeing visit on this trip. I'm a huge fan for waterfalls, big ones, so I can get photographic opportunities. Even on this 3rd day in Iceland, the weather gods, were determined NOT to let us see sunshine, so once again, for the 3rd time, the waterfall picture, which could have been accompanied by a beautiful rainbow, if the sun were shining, was nowhere to be found. The waterfall is still very worthy of visiting, even with dark, gray cloudy skies, but the photography of this sight was curtailed by the overcast cloud deck. You are afforded several different viewing angles up close and farther back at a couple different vantage points for pictures. I recommend this tour for the Godafoss waterfall, and secondly for the geothermal fields, if you're in to seeing fumaroles & boiling gray lakes with colored land scenery. There is no volcano eruptions and no red lava either to see.
• Port #3, Trondheim, Norway:
Here, at this port of call, I selected Trondheim & the Ryngve Museum. I'll be honest and tell you here, that Trondheim had really nothing appealing to offer me in terms of ship tours here. It's an unrealistic expectation, to presume EVERY port of call on a cruise will be a spectacular one, and so here at Trondheim, there's certainly some "downtime" as I call it.
The Ryngve Musuem that we visited on your ship's tour, is a music museum that showcases historical instruments used over the centuries. It displays the instruments, and the founder of the museum wanted this to be a "LIVING" museum. By "LIVING" museum, this meaning, that it was intended to be a place where the musical instruments of the past can be PLAYED by the tour hosts of the museum. I really respect & admire that vision, and it was much more meaningful to HEAR these instruments being played, instead of looking at a museum without hearing it, live. The unfortunate shortfall is that like most musueums, videography of the instrument playing and photography of these ancient musical instruments is not permitted in the 2-tiered house, but there was another portion of the musuem where pictures could be taken in. This tour can be skipped if you're not in to the history of music.
• Port #4, Alesund, Norway:
Of the 5 ports of call visited in Norway, this port of Alesund marks my 2nd favorite port of call in Norway. Here, I booked the tour excursion, entitled, "The Path of the Trolls". It visits the Trollstigen mountain. It's a lengthy 8-hour tour, but it delivers exceptional scenery at this port of call, with steep rocky mountains, waterfalls, valleys, and travels through gorges. A stop is made to where you can take a long walkway out to the edge of a cliff and get some pretty great pictures, weather-depending. Sometimes clouds will enter the valley, but if you can be patient and wait about some 15 minutes or so, typically wind currents will move along the clouds, flusing out the clouds, and it'll clear for enough time for you to get improved pictures of the gorge, waterfalls, and the steep rocky mountain terrain. Patience goes a long ways to getting the best photography shots. I've learned from this experience & other experiences that fog or clouds may completely obscure the scenery that you're attempting to see or photograph, at the moment you get to the end of the walkway, but waiting between 5-15 minutes' time, it often will clear as the fog or clouds mix-out, or disperse by wind currents. This is a tour I recommend!
• Port #5, Molde, Norway:
At Molde, Norway, the tour selections were again less than stellar, (just like Trondheim), and this marks my 2nd least favorite port of call, next to Trondheim. There is a pretty good summit point for viewing and picture taking atop a mountain side adjacent to the ship that we visited on this "Molde City & Folk Museum" tour sponsored by the ship's tour selection menu. As for the folkloric dancing show, it was honestly a bit disappointing, as I was expecting a professional singing & dancing show by entertainers. Instead, what I got was children from grade school attempting to piece together an amateur dance, in non-flashy costuming; more like school dance costuming in the country side. While some may find it cute to see children doing a folkloric dance, it just didn't appeal to me. I did participate and join-in, though, as one of the girls approached me and invited me in for their rituals. But, I have to be honest here, this tour is just not appealing, in my subjective opinion. The scene of the grounds are country-like, and they show you the old historic ways of living in their country houses, done many years ago, but is not practiced in modern time. The country houses are just for show, but they don't live inside there, because I asked. They also show a spin-weaving demonstration on knitting, too, from a wheel. There's also a little demonstration on making crepes, on top of a hill. This tour was just a little too "fluffy" for me, as a guy! About the only aspect of this tour that was worthy of visiting was the summit point where the motor coach bus took us upside a steep mountain overlook pass to get pictures of the natural landscape beauty, able to view & photograph the cruise ship down below.
• Port #6, Olden, Norway:
"Golden Olden" is what I'm now calling it!! Of all the ports of call between Iceland & Norway, THIS is the port of call NOT to be missed! It is a must-see! This port of Olden, is my #1 favorite port of call, as it has it all! It comes packed with steep, rocky gorges, breathtaking waterfalls, rugged mountainous beauty, snow-capped mountain peaks, reflective lakes, (on the drive to the hiking trail), graced with rivers that come alive, in a multi-dimensional display that you've never seen before! The particular tour that I'm referring to is the Briksdalen Glacier hike, that I chose, a ship-sponsored tour. I had the delightful pleasure of sharing this hike with a couple of ladies, from Long Island, I met on the cruise ship. The written description of this hike has the standard, scare tactic language, attempting to "weed-out" the elderly & the unfit, claiming you need to be physically fit & in optimal health to be able to hike 2 miles uphill to see the glacier. But alas! There is a way of getting around this, if you're physically unfit to do this hike. They have motorized jeeps that will take those who are unable to hike, up the hiking trail, instead. So now even the most unfit people can still appreciate & capture the rugged beautiful scenery of this trail. It is a dirt trail, but a wide-laned hiking trail. I was able to complete the hike with perfect ease. It was not hard and I enjoyed every bit of the surrounding landscape, especially with a beautiful girl I was hiking with! There are numerous photogenic scenes to take advantage of along this hiking trail to the Briksdal Glacier, as you parallel a river for some way, and then undertake the sudden beauty of a raging powerful waterfall along the way, while feeling the rush of the mist pouring out from this waterfall along the hiking trail! This is the awesome spectacle of nature in its purest form, with all the surrounding beauty there is to soak in! There is a large gift shop at the base of the hiking trail, in the valley, accompanied with restrooms as well. I was hoping to be able to get closer to the glacier itself, but a lake impeded the way. This is because the hiking trail had ended at the lake. Beyond the lake is where the glacier had started. So you view the heart of the glacier from a distance. Nonetheless, I still highly recommend this tour, for all it has to offer!
• Port #7, Stavanger, Norway:
You can go your way, but I'll go Norway! This port here, of Stavanger, Norway, marks my 3rd favorite port of call, in Norway, for the tour selected; 3rd only behind Olden and Alesund. This time it was "Boat Trip on the Lysefjord" tour selection from the cruise ship that I selected. At the inception, the boat trip starts off uneventful, with seemingly, little hope of promise at the get-go, and very little notable scenery upon leaving the port of Stavanger. However, patience pays-off in the long-term of the boat ride, as the scenery picks-up, markedly later-on during the boat cruise. There is no motor coach bus to get on, with this tour. As soon as you leave the cruise ship, you board another boat right next to our cruise ship, from the adjoining seaport pier. The boat has both a covered deck down below, to shield you from the sun, and a second tier up top, for un-obstructed outdoor viewing atop the motorized boat. Deeper in to this boat trip, the scenery begins changing for the better, whereby you're greeted with steepening fjords along a winding river. The boat comes right close-up with some of the steepest monoliths that jut right in to the waterway, featuring a rocky landscape surface to the fjords. This provides ample picture opportunities up-close and when the boat pulls back for a landscape, panoramic viewing. The boat makes a stop, where guests off-load, along the way at a picnic area, whereby waffles and strawberry toppings are served. What appeared to be whipped cream as a topping, was actually a sour cream, that I had to scrape off the soft waffles. The picnic area was nestled in a prime area for taking pictures of the rocky fjords we just visited. While surprisingly I didn't spot waterfalls along the way, the unique encounter of the rocky fjords, and the serenity of being on the waterways of the river, was a relaxing experience. I can highly recommend this tour for those who appreciate natural scenic beauty of fjords.
Again, getting off the ship was a breeze!! Surprisingly as much crowding as there was on elevators DURING the cruise, I had no problems getting off the ship, and there was NO waiting in long lines. I couldn't believe how effortless it was to disembark. I was directed right to our motor coach bus to take us back to London's Heathrow Airport, where we entered the newly-built Terminal 2, the Queen's Terminal.
Of my 17 cruises, this cruise definitely marks one of the GREATEST cruises of all-time for me. Personally, it wasn't about the service or quality of food that made it that way, it was about the PEOPLE whom I found and shared my time with. It was about all the many activities I chose to participate in: Karaoke for the first time, appearing 4 times; participating in 3 game shows; 2 hypnotist shows, a choreography flash mob dance, line dancing classes, ballroom dancing in the public lounges, the Quest Game Show, a karaoke finale round I graduated to on the final night of the cruise, the 70's theme party dancing I participated in, the love train I was a part of on 70's night, the British-themed party night, enjoying a leisurely float in the uncrowded swimming pool, and the few relaxing moments in the hot tub, and taking part in ballroom dance classes as well. It was all about enjoying conversation with many new-found individuals, a couple of special young ladies from Long Island I met & dined with & shared the BEST hiking tour I've ever seen, as well as visiting with many other couples & groups, on the cruise ship, & spending time chatting with some of the cruise director's staff, while sharing past experiences. It was the people and activities I participated in that made the difference this time, and all the shows I attended & became a part of -- 10 times I appeared on-stage, livin' & lovin' every minute of it!! Adventure of the Seas was *THE* Adventure for me!! A big shout-out and thank you to the Cruise Director's staff for keeping me thoroughly entertained, and even allowing me to BE the entertainment on several occasions! Thanks for the memories, RCCL! This is my HIGHEST rating I've awarded any cruise experience in many years! All the BEST!
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A.