We arrived in Puerto Rico on the Adventure of the Seas on their transatlantic crossing from Malaga. We remained on the ship for the Southern Caribbean cruise, departing San Juan November 21, 2011. We had really enjoyed the transatlantic crossing and were looking forward to remaining on board for the South Caribbean. It did not take long until we were wishing that we had disembarked in San Juan and flown home.
When we re-boarded the ship in San Juan, we thought we were on the wrong ship. Gone was the luxurious, pleasant cruise with 2,800 other guests. Of the 2,800 previous guests, 2,400 had disembarked. Only 400 of the previous guests were on board. The rest were all Puerto Ricans, and 600 of these were children /teenagers. They pushed in front of you in lines, they shoved their way around the ship. The teenagers (and often their parents) would sit in the stairways sending text messages and speaking on their mobiles. The teenagers sat on the floor of the elevators, thus limiting the number of people who could use them and were not even willing to stand up and make room when disabled guests wished to use the elevator. Kids were allowed to run up and down the corridors all times of day and night, screaming their heads off, same in the dining rooms and on the pool deck. As Europeans, we had not realised when we booked that we were cruising in the South Caribbean during the week of Thanksgiving and that children were not in school. Given the behaviour of most people on the ship, it would seem to me that RCCL gave away the tickets for this journey at rock bottom prices. If we'd known this, we would have disembarked following the transatlantic crossing. It was almost impossible to get a sun lounger on the pool deck and the whirlpools were full of kids and their ignorant parents. Luckily employees from security kept an eye on the pool deck and children and teenagers under 18 were told to get out of the whirlpools. The whole cruise was just noisy.
Luckily we had scheduled a land excursion in each port and so this got us out of the way of the rabble. Most of the land excursions were good, except for the fact that several were cancelled because there were not enough participants. Annoying however was the fact that "all aboard" time was always 4.30 pm., departure time 5 p.m. which means that you miss out on at least 1 Â½ hours of daylight in each port. All other ships left at least one hour later than we did.
At least we were able to stay in the same stateroom for both the transatlantic portion and the southern Caribbean. Some unlucky people had to change cabins. Thank goodness that we also kept our cabin steward, Simeon Downes. He is just the greatest. He managed to keep us sane on many occasions.
Unfortunately, we were not able to keep our waiter, Gennaydi Petrenko, in the main dining room. We were 4 couples on the Transatlantic portion and we were able to keep the same table but not the waiter. This caused huge problems, since we had all booked a wine package and still had some bottles left on our accounts and all of us had a half-full bottle from the previous evening. After much discussion and much delay, we finally got our half-full bottles. But every evening, there was a discussion as to how many bottles we still had left. Why in heaven's name they were not able to leave Gennaydi as our waiver, only RCCL management can know. It would have made everybody's life easier! In our opinion, the fault lay with the head waiter, responsible for our table, and not with the new waiter.
Due to the fact that we did not disembark in time in St. Thomas on the previous voyage, we missed out on our land excursion to St. Johns. We were disappointed, but thought that we could do the excursion on this voyage, since we also stopped in St. Thomas. Unfortunately, this trip was cancelled on the previous evening, due to "operational reasons". We were really upset about this and complained to guest relations and to the excursion desk. The manager of the excursion desk was very understanding, and gave us two complimentary tickets for a catamaran tour in place of the trip to St. Johns. We really appreciated this gesture and enjoyed the trip on the Catamaran. However, the "operational reasons" were due to the fact that the Oasis of the Sea was in St. Thomas at the same time of us, and since she 1. carries twice as many passengers as the Adventure of the Seas, 2. leaves St. Thomas two hours later than the Adventure and 3. the Oasis is on Eastern time and the Adventure is an hour ahead, the schedule for the trip to St. Johns was changed to suit the Oasis passengers, thus bumping the Adventure of the Seas passengers. Of course, RCCL do not tell you this, we found it out from the company who organises land excursions.
As in my previous post, we also experienced the "shuddering" of the ship. This was again probably due to the fact that we were moving slowly between the islands.
On this voyage, the food and service were as good as ever. The entertainment in the evenings was good, however, as I said previously, no decent dance floors. The Thanksgiving dinner was very good, considering that there were over 3,000 guests on board.
In order to avoid the noise and chaos and pushing and shoving in the Windjammer, we had breakfast in the dining room. Unfortunately, given that the dining room is only open for lunch on sea-days we did have lunch in the Windjammer when we returned from one excursion. Never again. I'd rather go hungry. Absolutely dreadful. There were announcements being made that guests who had finished eating should leave the Windjammer to make room for other guests. Following that experience, we made sure we had lunch on the excursions. It cost more, but it saved our sanity.
Disembarking in San Juan was very easy. Since our flight was not scheduled to leave until 5.40 p.m. we participated in the tour to the rain forest with drop off at the airport. Since we had booked this tour, we were escorted from the ship at 9 a.m. in a very orderly fashion. We cleared customs in no time. We heard from other passengers that those who had not booked a tour were not so lucky and it was organised chaos (yet again!)
All in all, I don't know whether we will cruise with RCCL again. They really disappointed us in several instances during this trip. There are so many other cruise companies around, maybe we'll give them a try next time. It's a shame, because we have "platinum" status with RCCL, but if they cannot be bothered to reply to our letters of complaint, we obviously are not of any importance to them.