This trip was really for my parents who are in their late 50s; my father has been in a wheel chair with very limited mobility due to an accident for many years, and also suffers from a number of other conditions including Parkinson's ... Read More
This trip was really for my parents who are in their late 50s; my father has been in a wheel chair with very limited mobility due to an accident for many years, and also suffers from a number of other conditions including Parkinson's this trip was on the bucket list that they are working through before it gets impossible for my father to travel any more. We decided on this itinerary as my parents were visiting me in NY for a month and it was a good way to break up their month long visit; my Mum has always wanted to go on a cruise and it seemed like a fairly easy way to travel and see a lot with someone who is mobility impaired. My husband and I have cruised once before on Royal and twice on NCL, we actually prefer NCL but Royal has the perfect itinerary with no tender ports and only one sea day and a good reputation for accesbility which made it easier for my parents.
This review is written from an accessibility perspective and is quite long; when I started planning this trip I found it very difficult to find up to date comprehensive information on any of our ports of call. Royals offerings for accessible shore excursions were dismal and limited to only 2 of the islands we visited; and a lot of information I found on line was limited or dated so I spent a lot of time with my friend Google and emailed a lot of tour vendors. I also utilized a travel agent to help me make the booking. Who arranged an accessible stateroom for my parents, ordered special equipment and arrnged pier and air port assistance.
Travel and Hotel:
We flew from New York to San Juan the day before so that my Dad could rest and stayed at the La Concha Hotel in Condado; we chose this hotel as we got a great rate and being in the newer area of town and by the beach it is really easy to get around in a wheel chair as opposed to the old city which has very narrow streets and cobblestones. We arrived after a very easy Delta Flight where we were able to easily gate check my Dad's wheel chair and found it very easy to get a taxi that could accommodate my Dad's collapsable wheelchair, 4 people and our luggage; we were in the hotel and checked in within 40 mins of landing. The La Concha is a beautiful and completely accessible hotel they have ramps everywhere and the 2 pools by the beach have very wide and easy steps. The only area not accessible was the beach as there were steps down to the beach level. The rooms were clean and bright with balconies overlooking the ocean.
We had arranged late check out so left the hotel at 2pm; we took a short 20 min taxi ride to the port where we found a porter who took our luggage and directed us to the front of the very long security line to get into the port building. We were then directed a short line for disabled passengers and were checked in and directed to the elevators very quickly. In general the port seemed very chaotic and badly laid out; I feel like if we were not fast tracked through for my Dad it would have taken a long tine to get through.
Mobility Scooter Rental:
As it was past 2pm our rooms were ready so we went to drop off bags and make sure that the mobility scooter we had ordered from Care Vacations has been delivered. My Dad uses a mobility scooter at home to get around town and we rented one for his stay in NY so thought renting a scooter on the ship would give him more independence while on the ship. The scooter was there so we took it for a spin; at first it seemed fine but we had problems all week with the scooter retaining a battery charge and going at a decent pace. We called Care Vacations a number of times during the cruise; after the second time the technician indicated that it needed taking out of service and probably a new battery but there was nothing he could do. We were very disappointed with the care vacations equipment; there were a number of other rental scooters on board from another company and they seemed to be newer and in better condition; so I probably would not use care vacations again.
The Adventure is an older ship and this can be seen in some areas; the crew do an excellent job of keeping it cleaned but you can see the age especially in the cabins and the My Time Dinning Room.
The ship was very easy to navigate and get around for my Dad; the only frustration was the long waits for an elevator and other rude passengers who jumped in front of him to get into an elevator before he could get moving.
All of the staff were friendly and helpful and were especially great with my Dad.
When my Dad wanted to go into the pool all we had to do was ask the pool attendant and they set up a portable hoist for him to go into the pool or hot tub; they did this promptly and even arranged a specific time to meet my parents and set up the hoist so they did not have to wait.
We only ate in the main dinning room twice; we did My Time dinning and just did not like the experience. They seem to put guests in wheelchairs in a really awkward location along the edge of the dinning room by the pantry so it was loud, drafty and had no ambiance. We also found the wait staff to be over bearing and annoying. The food was ok nothing terrible but nothing amazing either.
We ate at the Windjammer Buffet on days we had long excursions as it was easier on my Dad who was tired and did not want to sit in a dinning room for an hour or more. The buffet food was not great I found the selections to be limited and carb heavy but we always found something to eat at dinner. We also ate in the Windjammer for breakfast. We never had any problems finding a table but did try to avoid busy times as it was difficult for my Dad to navigate around and tell us what he wanted while in his scooter when there were a lot of people.
We ate at Giovanis the speciality restaurant 3 times mostly because of the lovely waitress my parents made friends with and the way they really took care of them. The food was the best on the ship and the Giovannis staff went out of their way to make my parents happy.
We saw 2 shows and the ice show all were very good; we were not able to sit with my parents so we usually set them up with a wheelchair spot and a seat next to it, then we visited the bar and brought them drinks before finding our own seats. We would then collect them at the end of the show.
This was a packed itinerary and my parents are not night owls so we pretty much called it a night by 10:30 everyday. Except for one night when me and husband sat by the pool with expresso martinis and watched Avengers on the big screen, this was one of the coolest moments on the ship with a nice breeze blowing, a nice drink and a fun movie under the stars.
Getting on and off the ship at each port was very easy; except for the long elevator wait time. We turned up at the gangway and immediately a member of staff was there to wheel my Dad off and back on again when we were ready to get back on the ship.
On Disembarkation day we opted to put our bags out for collection as we could not manage the luggage and the wheelchair; when we were ready to leave just before they called our tag number we went down to deck 4 where they had a disabled waiting area and were escorted off; we found our luggage and got a porter to help. The porter was a great idea as he carried the bags and fast tracked us through the customs/immigration line and found us an appropriate taxi very quickly.
We booked all of our shore excursions independently after extensive research.
St Martin was the easiest port to organize an accessible tour; I found a company Accessible Caribbean Vacations that specialize in accessible shore excursions, unfortunately St. Martin was the only island we were visiting that they operated in. I booked an all day tour with beach visit through them and they made all of the arrangements with Accessible Ventures a local company. We were met right off the gangway by our guide who escorted us to an accessible van with a wheelchair lift. So my Dad didn't even have to get out of his chair. The guide was informative and the tour a lot of fun. We drove to a number of overlooks, saw Iguanas, held sea urchins and live conch and were dropped off in Marigot for lunch and in Phillipsburgh to visit the beach. The only disappointment was the beach we were hoping for an accessible beach but the beach in Phillipsburgh while nice and with a boardwalk was not really practical for my Dad. The beach was made up of shells rather then sand which my Dad could not walk on and there was quite a drop into the ocean.
I had a lot of difficulty finding something accessable in St. Kitts I emailed a lot of companies but no one seemed able to offer anything my Dad could do. A number of companies I contacted recommended Perera tours; who indicated that they could do a tour and my Dad would be able to get into their van and they could take his wheelchair. However we were disappointed in St. Kitts when my Dad could not physically get into the van. So my parents stayed in port and hung out on the ship while me and my husband went on the tour. The tour was ok but not what we were expecting and I would not recommend this company. The tour bus was an old taxi bus with very small uncomfortable seats and the driver had to turn the AC off to make it up hills. The tour itself was a bit too long but interesting we visited Romney Manor, Brimstone Hill and the Black Rocks with the option to be dropped at a beach and picked up later. After seeing the beach everyone who had asked to go to the beach decided not to bother; it was very small and crowded.
We intentionally did not plan anything for my parents in Antigua as we had big plans for St Lucia and wanted to make sure my Dad was rested up. My parents stayed in port and on the ship again and me and my husband went on a tour with Antigua Buggys. This tour is offered through Royal but by booking independently we got a longer tour with lunch included for less money then the tour offered by the ship. Getting a taxi to the meeting location was very easy. Antigua has taxi dispatchers that help you at the port. We arranged for our driver to pick us up at the end of the tour. For the tour you have either a 2 or 4 seater off road budget which you drive in convoy. The tour was great we drove over a dry lake bed, up and down hills with spectacular views and stopped at a deserted beach only accessible by off road vehicle for a swim. This was a fantastic tour but we both felt that you need to be an experienced driver to handle it. This is not a safe or easy drive.
One of the items on my Dad's bucket list was deep sea fishing; to make it happen I booked a private charter with Exodus Boat Charters in St. Lucia. We made our way to the Ferry dock across from the cruise ship and our boat and crew were waiting for us. The crew really made the trip; they lifted my Dad in his wheelchair off of the dock into the boat and then stored his chair in the cabin. They did this 3 times during the course of the day when we stopped for lunch and when we returned to the port; they were absolutely wonderful.
We started the day with some fishing even though we had 5 lines out the fish were just not biting so we sailed into a quiet cove for some snorkeling. My Dad stayed on the boat taking pictures while the rest of us snorkeled. Then we stopped for lunch in a small town and sailed between the Pitons before heading back. This was by far the best excursion we did and the crew could not do enough to make sure everyone was happy.
After a busy day in St. Lucia we decided to have a slow day in Barbados we had booked day passes at the Sandals Barbados. We easily found an appropriate taxi and were at the resort by 10am; we arranged with our driver to be picked up later. Sandals is a lovely resort and almost completely accessible. The beach has hard packed sand quite a way out so we could wheel my Dad quite far onto the sand he could then walk with our help into the water. Unfortunately the winds were high so it was too rough to do more then paddle so we moved to the pool which he was able to walk into with some assistance. We hung out, had lunch and relaxed. The only negative we found was that there were no accessible rest rooms by the pool or anywhere in the resort which made it a little difficult.
Overall this was a really good trip the ship fit our needs and the itinerary suited us perfectly. Read Less