The December 9-16, 2007 Southern Caribbean cruise on Adventure of the Seas was our 3rd on a Royal Caribbean Voyager class ship; however it was our 1st on the Adventure. The ship was at full capacity (3600+), consisting of people from over 30 countries. The largest number of passengers was from Puerto Rico, estimated by the Cruise Director as exceeding 1800. As I will describe below, the cruise was very disappointing due to the inadequate sanitation efforts taken by the ship staff and their management team.
Embarkation: Overall, the quickest we have ever experienced. We arrived at 11:15 am and were on board in the Windjammer by 11:45. While waiting in line to get into the processing area we noticed ambulances leaving the dock adjacent to the ship. We later were informed by ship's personnel that some passengers from the previous cruise were being transported off-ship for the completion of their required quarantine / recovery period of 48 hours after being diagnosed with norovirus.
Dining Facilities The food quality in Windjammer was OK, but didn't seem to have the variety of foods we have seen on other cruises. We had dinner in the main dining room twice. The food was good, but our head waiter was very inexperienced (starting his 3rd week) and made several mistakes on our orders and confusing orders between his assigned tables. We noticed that there were no sanitary wipes or supplies for cleaning hands at the entrance to the Windjammer or the main dining rooms. This seemed unusual and a departure from what we have seen on other Royal Caribbean cruises, especially in cold & flu season. Few ship's personnel were on station at the entry to Windjammer, and the handling of multiple plates by children and adults was common practice.
Excursions We had three excursions booked through Royal Caribbean. The first two, in Aruba and Curacao, were promptly refunded due to our quarantine status. The third, a snorkel trip to Trunk Bay on St. John, was excellent. We rented a car in St. Maarten and drove completely around the island, stopping in Margot for lunch. A truly great day of shopping and sightseeing! Car rental at the pier was very quick and easy.
Entertainment The three evening shows we were able to attend were good. The group that performed the Temptations many hits was excellent! Also, as always, the ice show is not to be missed!
Norovirus Outbreak We became early victims to the norovirus outbreak. Even with the liberal use of the Purell we always travel with, and frequent hand washing, our symptoms surfaced within 12 hours of checking onboard. Using over-the-counter medication we carried with us did not stop the situation. After spending a miserable Monday at sea in our stateroom (and missing Meet & Mingle) we went to the medical section on Tuesday when it opened. After several hours and a bag of IV fluid, we were quarantined in our stateroom until Thursday evening, missing Aruba, Curacao and our 2nd day (Thursday) at sea.
According to medical, the ship was approaching critical numbers of sick guests and crew members on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday the crew was prohibited from leaving the ship in St. Maarten and St. Thomas due to the large outbreak of norovirus. Several crew members were very vocal about the frequency of outbreaks and quarantines they are subjected to and the lax sanitary measures that are consistently being taken. Several crew members repeatedly called the Adventure "the sick ship".
Medical Staff After completing the lengthy forms, we were quickly attended to by the medical staff nurses and doctor on duty. They were excellent and checked on us repeatedly throughout the remainder of our quarantined period. We have heard horror stories of the cost of medical treatment on ship, but were pleased to find out that all treatment for intestinal viruses is provided free. From discussions with other passengers, this fact apparently wasn't well known. A Puerto Rican physician we met during the last day of the cruise told us that due to the common belief of expensive medical treatment, many of the Puerto Rican passengers stricken during the cruise did not go to medical. He stated that he was personally treating several members of his extended family.
Disembarking: Used the Delta airlines baggage handling service for $20 each. Wow!! What a smooth, quick process. Well done Royal Caribbean and Delta!
Summary: The cruise would probably have been great if the proper sanitary precautions had been implemented from the onset. You can't beat the itinerary, and the amount of activities provided on the Voyager class ships is fantastic. The issues we had read about concerning the behavior of the large Puerto Rican population didn't materialize. Yes, some folks cut the line, but it wasn't limited to any one ethnic group. But with the recurring health issues, I'm not interested on boarding the Adventure again.