This was a ladies' family cruise. I am 40. This was my 11th Royal Caribbean cruise, but my first time on a voyager class ship. I shared a cabin with my aunt (50) who was on her 4th cruise but had also never been on a Voyager class ship. We traveled with my mom (6th cruise, second time on Voyager class) and my cousin who is 30 and was her first cruise. My mom is a full-time wheelchair user. We departed from San Juan and had stops in St. Croix, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
We flew into San Juan on the 25th and arrived late afternoon. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. The hotel location was good -- close to Ashford Street with a variety of restaurants, shops, and a small beach. There were many pre-cruise guests at the hotel. The hotel is not very well sound-proofed so we could hear both street noise and hall noise during the night.
The accessible room is not laid out well. My mom does not have an over-sized wheelchair, but I had to remove the toilet-paper holder from the wall so she could get her wheelchair into the bathroom. The space around and between the beds was also tight. It was okay for a manual wheelchair user but might be too narrow for someone with a scooter or electric chair.
Based on the recommendations of several people, we decided to try Cafe del Angel on Ashford Street for dinner. The food was pretty good but this is not a place to go when you are very hungry or want a quick meal. It took about 20 minutes after we were seated for someone to take our order and it was over an hour later before we got our dinner. We only ordered 1 course but everyone ordered something different. That may have caused a problem for the kitchen since two of the dinners arrived barely lukewarm while the other two were hot.
In the morning taxis were plentiful so we were able to find a minivan low enough to get my mom into for the ride to the port.
We arrived at the port around 11:30 and the line for check-in was already long. We first stood in line to drop off our checked bags. Then we went to another line for check-in. We had an accessible cabin and a junior suite so we were all able to go through the priority line. It took about 25 minutes from the time we got in line until we got into the terminal to have our carry-on bags scanned. I had a pack of Dr. Pepper cans in my bag that went though without a problem.
Security didn't seem to know what to do with my mom so that caused a delay in the line. We had trouble making them understand that even though my mom has legs, she cannot walk through the metal detector. The agent kept telling her that it was only a couple steps and she had to get out of her wheelchair. I guess they are used to most people with scooters or wheelchairs able to walk long enough to go through the metal detector. We finally got a woman to understand our situation and do a hand inspection of my mom.
Once through security, we were directed to the check-in area where we got our cabin cards. There was a priority line for suite guests that we used. However, it didn't seem to make much difference in the amount of time for checking in. The people who were in front of us going through the security line were at the front of the regular check-in line when we finished our check-in process.
We got onboard around 12:45 but the cabins were not ready yet. We had lunch in Windjammer then wandered around the ship for a while. The cabins weren't ready until around 2:15.
Although I have been on Liberty, Adventure also seems extremely big. To be honest, it's really too big for me. There is a ton to do, which is great for some people. My personal preference is still Radiance class ships.
The main dining room is beautiful. We ate there several nights. There is a nice variety of bars and lounges. The Jester Lounge made me claustrophobic and reminded me of a dungeon. I liked the singer in the Dog & Duck, but it was the only place to smoke on the promenade so the smoke smell in that area was overwhelming. The Schooner Bar also was too smoky to stay for very long. The Viking Crown is divided into several smaller lounges and offers views of the ship decks and ocean. The 19th Hole has an interesting sculpture similar to a Mouse Trap game. It was fun to watch the balls roll down the various tracks. The promenade got really crowded at times, particularly around the cafe. I didn't try the golf course, ice rink, or rock-climbing wall.
The Solarium has a Venetian theme. Unlike Radiance class ships, on Adventure it is uncovered. I prefer the covered Solarium. Adventure has a kid's pool area so there didn't seem to be as many kids as usual around the Solarium and main pools. However it was a February cruise so most kids were in school. I didn't try the main pool area. The water in the Solarium pool is salt water and a little cool but warm enough after a few minutes. The hot tubs were not very hot -- more like a warm bath so no danger of getting overheated when sitting for very long.
The layout of Windjammer on Adventure is not very good. Some of the other ships have several small islands so passengers can go around the various islands to make their selections. It can be a little chaotic but the lines are not very long. Adventure is set up like a long buffet bar. The line can get very long and move slowly if people take much time with their selections.
There were the usual signs of wear and tear onboard -- stained furniture and carpets, worn places, rusty spots, etc. but nothing that made me think the ship was ready to fall apart. The artwork in the stairways was a bit bland, but the hallways of decks 7 -- 10 had some interesting pieces, particularly "Love Handles" displayed outside the Royal Suite. We lost count of how many tapestries named "Aquatic" were displayed on the ship.
We had cabin 9624, which is a junior suite on the port side at the back of the hump on deck 9, and cabin 2320, which is an accessible ocean view cabin on the starboard side of deck 2.
The junior suite was spacious enough for 2 with a walk-in closet and plenty of storage cabinets. We had the bed divided into two twins. There was a wall unit with a desk and vanity across from the beds. There was a night stand with a drawer for each bed plus the vanity had three drawers on each side. The vanity also had hinged mirrors on each side with shelves behind the mirrors. There is a curtain that can be closed to partially block the bed area from the sitting area. The sitting area has a couch, two chairs, and a coffee table. The couch can be pulled out to make a double-bed if needed.
The bathroom had a tub, sink, and the toilet. There is a mirror with shelves on each side above the sink plus a shelf under the sink for storage. We received some travel sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body gel, and a box with Q-tips and cotton balls in the bathroom. There was also a dispenser with the typical Royal Caribbean generic soapy goo in the bathtub. We didn't use the provided toiletries so I don't know if they get replenished during the cruise.
The desk had the TV and a few cabinets for storage plus the "fridge" for the mini bar and the safe. We put the sodas and snacks from the mini bar on the desk so the bar attendant would know where the items were and used the fridge for our sodas and water. There was a small coffee maker and hot pot for boiling water for tea in the desk cabinet.
The balcony had a table with 2 straight-back chairs and one reclined chair. The balcony is fully covered and is recessed into the structure of the ship. I haven't been on a balcony that was recessed like that so it had a cave-like feeling, but the recess made it extremely difficult for others to see into the balcony. The railing is also part of the structure, not Plexiglas like on other ships, so you cannot see through it when sitting down on the balcony. This was the first time that I didn't have a lounge chair on the balcony of a junior suite so I asked the cabin steward for one. He said they don't allow lounge chairs on balconies and if I brought one down from the pool deck, he would remove it. Very disappointing!!
I found the bed to be extremely hard, which is typical for Royal Caribbean beds. The cabin steward was able to provide a foam pad, which helped but still too hard.
We discovered that the rumors about not providing ice on Adventure are true. We had no ice bucket in the cabin when we arrived. We asked the steward about the ice bucket and ice and were told that ice was a special request. Once requested, he provided ice twice a day, but new cruisers would probably not know to ask for it.
I had a diamond gift basket in the cabin. When I sailed on Liberty in December, I got a basket with cookies, trail mix, and dried fruit. This time there were only cookies and dried fruit. I'm not sure if the lack of trail mix was a change to the basket or if I got a better basket in December because I was in a grand suite rather than a junior suite. Grand suites get chocolates left during turn-down but junior suites do not.
The ocean view cabin was larger than normal to allow for wheelchair space. The bed was divided into two twins. There was a wall unit with a closet and vanity across from the beds. The vanity had the TV and two cabinets for storage plus the "fridge" for the mini bar and the safe. The vanity also had hinged mirrors on each side with shelves behind the mirrors. The sitting area had a couch and a coffee table. There was a night stand with a drawer for each bed plus the vanity had three drawers on each side. The closet was small but adequate for two people.
The bathroom had a roll-in shower, sink, and the toilet. There is a mirror with shelves on each side above the sink but no shelf under the sink for storage. There was a dispenser with the generic soapy goo in the shower.
We booked my time dining thinking it would allow more schedule flexibility. We stopped by the dining room early just to take a look. The hostess asked about our dining and we replied that we had my time. She immediately began pressing us to make reservations. I thought the point in my time dining was the flexibility of not being tied to a schedule. She said that there were usually long waits (30-60 minutes) between 7 and 8:30 so we should really make a reservation. I thought if the wait were too long we could just go eat in Windjammer but some of the others in my group had their hearts set on eating in the dining room. We agreed to try the 6:30 reservation for that night.
The dining room was okay -- typical Royal Caribbean. The variety of food was acceptable. I would not consider it 5-star dining, but it wasn't McDonald's either. I don't eat red meats but was able to find seafood, chicken, or vegetable dishes. The appetizers were generally better than the main courses. I don't usually eat dessert so I skipped most of those. The one thing that I wish RC had on the menu is a house salad. They offer Caesar salad every night but I would prefer a house salad with tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, etc. I've had a salad made special in the past, but I don't like requesting special dishes.
The second night of the cruise was formal night. We had already decided not to bring formal clothes so we ate at Johnny Rockets instead. The onion rings were really good. Fries were just okay. The chicken was dry and burgers slightly greasy. We had oreo sundaes for dessert, which were good. The waiters sang and danced for a couple of songs while we were there.
When we got back to our cabin, there was an irate message that we had missed our dinner reservation. That was a surprise to me since I hadn't realized that we made a reservation. What had not been explained very well is that once you make a reservation, the system automatically carries it over to the next day. Even though I had said the night before that we would try the reservation for that night only, we were assigned the 6:30 reservation for every night. We didn't know that we had a reservation so didn't realize that we had to cancel it. Since we were dining in Portofino the next night and the next formal night, we canceled those MDR reservations.
The third night we went to Portofino for the Mystery Dinner. We initially met in the Blue Moon for the start of the mystery show. We met the characters and got a basis for the mystery. We were served sparkling wine or sodas and appetizers (meats & cheeses on toast). We were divided into 6 groups then taken downstairs to Portofino. Each group was seated around a table. We were given a choice of soup of the day or Caesar salad. The entree choices were shrimp or beef tenderloin. Dessert was tiramisu. I had shrimp that were overdone but the rest of the meal was good. Wine, beer, or sodas were included with the meal. During dinner, the cast gave us more information about their characters to help decide who the murderer was. Each table was allowed to ask one cast member one question. Our group had to reach a consensus on who to question and what to ask. Each person at the table was given a paper to record their guess on the murderer. I guessed wrong. The papers with the correct guesses were put in a basket. One name was drawn to win a gift basket.
The fourth night we kept the 6:30 dinner reservation and had the same table and staff as previously. The fifth night we were tired from a long port day and decided to eat in Windjammer so we wouldn't have to dress up for dinner. When we called to cancel, we were made to feel so guilty that we ended up agreeing to go. The hostess said that she had turned down several requests for that table already and we would throw off their schedule if we didn't use it. So much for flexibility! I don't really want to be given a guilt trip while on vacation.
The sixth night formal night so we ate at Portofino again. We wanted to experience the full dinner menu. The four of us split antipasti and crostini appetizers. Two of us had the risotto, one had the seafood skewer, and the other the veal osso buco. All the food was wonderful. We each had a different dessert. We had our same waitress from the Mystery Dinner. She did another fantastic job.
The last night we ate in the dining room and again had the same table and waiters.
Most mornings and afternoons we ate in Windjammer. We did not try the dining room for breakfast or lunch. I'm not a big eater in the mornings so I usually had a bowl of fruit. The others had a variety -- eggs, sausage, cereal, pastries, etc. In the afternoon I was usually hot and tired after being in port so I had a salad. The salad bar had a good selection but the only meats were ham or tuna. I would have liked chicken, turkey, shrimp, or crab a few days for variety. There were pastas, burgers, pizza, and hot dogs also.
Next time I think I will stick with late fixed seating for dinner. To me it is easier than my time dining. The waiters seem to be more easy-going during fixed seating. They have never made me felt guilty about dining in a specialty restaurant or going to Windjammer for dinner.
We didn't attend too many of the shows. I don't generally care for the production shows with singers and dancers. I enjoyed the pub singer in the Dog & Duck but couldn't stay in there for very long due to the smoke. I think I'm becoming jaded after so many RC cruises. The Love & Marriage show seems to have the exact same questions each time so I can almost recite them along with the cruise director. Quest was a little different since it was held in the ice rink rather than a lounge and had only 6 large teams instead of multiple small teams. The questions were the same ones from previous cruises. A couple people had bags with the items being called so they could grab them quickly.
I didn't see the ice show on Liberty so made it a point to catch one on Adventure. I thought the show was really good considering. The rink is very small and some of the skaters fell, but it can't be easy doing jumps when the ice moves.
The Compass listed a variety of activities and events so anyone who wants to do something, should be able to find an activity. They have games, trivia, belly-flop contest, bingo, shopping, etc. onboard.
Our cabin steward was efficient but we rarely saw him. Apparently he felt the same way. We got a phone call on the fourth day from the "front desk supervisor" who wanted to make sure that we were okay. She said our cabin steward was worried because he hadn't seen us very much. We had been using the ice, towels, sleeping in the beds, etc. plus our sea passes were used at least a couple times a day (we both got off the ship in every port) so it should have been obvious that we were both around. We were trying to figure out if he thought one of us had thrown the other overboard and was using her sea pass. It made an amusing story to tell the husbands when we got home.
The waiters in the dining room did a good job, but they always look rushed and I had to remind them several times when I wanted a refill of water. I think my time dining throws off the pace a little since you end up with several tables eating different courses at different times.
None of the people that I was traveling with were diamond members so I didn't attend the diamond event or meet the diamond concierge.
The cruise director was Abel Jenney. He was very energetic and I saw him several times onboard and in port.
Most of the rest of the onboard staff and crew were also very nice. We were almost always greeted as we walked around the ship.
Internet access onboard was horrible. I needed to keep in touch with my husband due to a sick family member at home. The ship does not have wifi available in the cabins -- only in certain areas of the ship. I tried several of them, but the wifi signal would come and go. Sometimes I would be in the middle of downloading or sending emails when the signal would drop and I would have to log in again and start over. The Solarium seemed to have the best signal, but it rained several of the days and the Solarium is not fully covered. Fortunately there is a coupon for 30 free internet minutes in the Diamond coupon book. I used all 30 plus 4 additional ones on email during the week.
I have a Droid 3 Global Edition cell phone with Verizon. I turned off wifi and data and just used the phone for emergency calls and texts while onboard. I had phone service most of the time while onboard. It had a few problems getting a signal during a storm and had "no signal" on some of the lower decks. I didn't have a problem with signal when on the islands. It shifted to GSM mode (picked up the Digicel tower) for St. Martin and St. Lucia. The other islands were CDMA mode like the US.
We left from San Juan at night. In the past there has been a fun deck party, but we had rainy conditions that kept many people inside. It was disappointing that El Morro was not lit up as we cruised past. That has been one of the highlights of leaving San Juan in the past.
Adventure docked as far from the terminal as possible. It was pouring when we got off the ship. The ship provided free buses to those who could climb the steps. However, they didn't have a single vehicle for wheelchair users. When we asked, the RC person directing the buses was very rude and said that was our problem and we should have planned better. The last time I was in Barbados we were docked right next to the terminal so I didn't realize we would be that far away this time.
Getting off the ship was a mess! We were supposed to disembark around 9:30 but there were delays in customs. It was around 10:45 before they called our number. We found our luggage easily but had to wait in line for almost 45 minutes before we got through customs. There were only 3 agents working that day. Once we got off the ship, catching a taxi to Old San Juan was relatively easy.
We stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan. We were able to drop off our luggage and look around town prior to check-in time. The hotel has an excellent view of the harbor from the pool on the roof. We were able to see Adventure and a couple other ships head off on their next cruise from the hotel roof. The hotel is very noisy and we had a room next to the ice machine so that made it noisier yet.
NOTE -- Both El Morro and San Cristobal forts have accessible bathrooms. The one in El Morro is kept locked so we had to locate a Park Ranger to ask for the key. Neither fort charged an admission fee for my mom since she was unable to fully access the forts.