This was our fourth cruise in all, and our second with Royal Caribbean. We joined the cruise on Adventure of the Seas in Malaga, departing on November 7, 2011 for the Canary Isles and then the Transatlantic crossing to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
We arrived at the port at approx. 1 pm and within one hour we were in our balcony stateroom on Deck 7. Boarding was very easy, except for problems with the check-in clerks with respect to the ESTAs which all non-US residents need. Apparently the clerks needed to keep a copy of the ESTA's and there was a long line for the copying machine. But apart from that, everything went smoothly. One of our three bags arrived almost immediately, and the other two arrived in plenty of time to change for dinner at 8.30 pm. We were in a balcony stateroom number 7346 and had the best cabin steward you could wish for. His name was Simeon Downes, and he made our cruise very special. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him and he took the best care of us. Just seeing Simeon's big smile every day made our journey very special. The stateroom was to the usual Royal Caribbean standard and the a/c was fantastic. It worked silently but very well. The balcony was great whilst we were in the Canaries and for the transatlantic crossing, but once we headed off for the South Caribbean (back-to-back with the transatlantic crossing) it was uncomfortably warm and humid out there.
One thing that other contributors have mentioned, was the "shuddering" of the ship. When we first set sail in Spain it was really bad. We were told that it was because the ship was moving slowly between the islands. Once we set off on the Transatlantic portion, the "shuddering" was minimal. But for the first couple of nights, we were very concerned, because the moment you lay down in bed you could really feel this movement.
We were also very lucky with our waiter at table number 338 in the Mozart Dining Room on deck 3. His name was Gennaydi from the Ukraine and he was also fantastic. He took the best care of all 8 of us at the table, and was kind, helpful, humorous and just a pleasure to have as a waiter. In fact Gennaydi was so good that we would have liked to have kept him as our waiter for the Southern Caribbean portion of our journey. Unfortunately this was not possible. See my posting for the Southern Caribbean cruise for more info. The assistant waiter was Gabriel from Chile. He also did an excellent job.
Other posters have said that the Adventure of the Seas is looking her age. I cannot agree with these comments. We thought she was in great shape, and our stateroom certainly did not look "tired". It was very nice. In fact whilst we were on board, the Adventure celebrated her 10th birthday. There was a big party with birthday cake, champagne etc. and we all sang "Happy Birthday". Maybe this sounds a big cheesy, but in fact it was quite a moving celebration.
We visited four ports after departing Malaga: Madeira, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. In all 4 ports we participated in land excursions booked on the ship and they were all excellent. The only thing that bothered us was that the "all aboard time" after the excursions was 4.30 pm. and that took quite a big chunk out of the afternoon.
Then we set off for the 6 sea days of the transatlantic crossing. We had been worried whether this portion of the cruise might be boring. But it was fantastic. We gained an hour every day, since we put our watches back every evening. This meant that we were wide awake at 6 am. To take advantage of this, we went jogging or "power walking" on the track on Deck 12 for about 45 minutes. Then we freshened up for breakfast. We heard a lot of complaints that in the main dining room the breakfast service was very slow. We can't confirm this since we only had fruit and granola for breakfast, and this was self-serve. There was a fantastic buffet with lots of fresh fruit to choose from and really good granola with all the trimmings. A really tasty and healthy start to the day. We heard some complaints that towards the end of the transatlantic crossing that RCCL had run out of strawberries or fresh dates, or teabags. But there was so much variety to chose from, we did not find this a big deal. Then we found ourselves sun-loungers at the pool on deck 11. For lunch we also used the main dining room. They had a really good salad buffet, which the staff in the main dining room mixed the salad for you and with great trimmings, such as huge king-prawns, tuna fish, eggs, chicken etc. We tried to eat all of our meals in the main dining room because the Windjammer cafÃ© was always packed and very very noisy. The evening meals in the dining room were all very good. One evening we spoiled ourselves with a romantic dinner for two in Portofino (USD 20 surcharge per person). It was excellent, the service was very good and certainly worth the surcharge. One evening we dined at Johnny Rockets. That was fun. Every half-hour, the staff do a sing and dance routine. Really cute and the burgers, french fries and onion rings were delicious.
Entertainment in the evening was good. We only went to the dance show and the ice show, both were excellent. We spent more time in the bars because of the opportunity to dance. The dance music was very good, with south American flair, but unfortunately the Adventure of the Seas does not have any large dance floors, so it is very cramped and you have about one square foot per couple. At the "Black and White Party" in Studio B there was a really good dance floor with good music. But because the band took a break at a point in time where the party had only really just got going, a lot of people left. So Dennis, the Cruise Director, decided not to bring the group back on, so that was the end of that. Thanks Dennis!
Up until now, we had had a great time. Now here are the complaints, and they are BIG. When the ship arrived in St. Thomas, all passengers had to pass immigration. All non-US residents were told to be at the Imperial Lounge on Deck 5 at 8.15. All US residents were told to be at the theatre on deck 4 at 8.15. For approximately 2,000 non-US residents there were 4 immigration officials. We stood in line for over 3 hours until we were finally cleared. Other people stood in line for other 4 hours. People with knee or hip problems included. And there was nowhere to sit. The whole of the Royal Promenade was one huge queue. Royal Caribbean should have organised this much better, for example deck by deck, and they should have given the passengers with land excursions priority. It's not the first time that the passengers have to pass immigration. We had a land excursion booked and were worried that we would miss it. Dennis, the Cruise Director, told us whilst we were waiting in line, not to worry, that everyone was in the same situation and that the buses would wait. Wrong, Dennis. The buses did not wait. They left once the American citizens had exited the ship and reached their excursion buses. Thanks for a spoiled day in St. Thomas, Royal Caribbean. Thanks for getting our hopes up, Dennis!
Next day, Puerto Rico. Of 2,800 passengers, 2,400 were disembarking and heading home. 400 passengers, including us, were remaining on the ship for the cruise down to the Southern Caribbean. We were all given "transit" passes, meaning that we could disembark whenever we wanted and return to the ship without queuing. In theory, this was a good idea. However, Royal Caribbean staff were unable to tell the transit passengers where we could disembark. There were huge queues, separated between US-nations and non-US nationals, but no queue for transit guests. So we had to stand in line with guests who had to clear customs etc. The result of this was that we spent another couple of hours waiting to disembark. In fact some people were so fed up, there was almost a punch-up. Thanks for wasting our valuable time in San Juan, Royal Caribbean!
Due to Royal Caribbean's incompetence, we lost valuable time in two very attractive ports. And when you consider what we paid for this trip, it is just not good enough. We wrote a letter of complaint to RCCL management, together with the other parties seated at our dining table and handed this in on the ship. Paolo, the "international ambassador" confirmed to us that RCCL were taking our complaint very seriously and that it had been passed on to Miami. That was mid. November 2011. Since then, despite an additional letter to RCCL requesting their comments, we've not heard anything. Looks like RCCL management just cannot be bothered to answer and are just ignoring our complaint.
We have now reached platinum status with RCCL. However, given that the RCCL management in Miami cannot be bothered to reply to our letter of complaint, we are really wondering whether we will remain loyal to RCCL. Previous cruises on Carnival were also excellent, so maybe we'll revert to them.