Myself, my husband and four year older daughter with autism sailed on the Adventure on May 30th on a 7 night cruise, departing from San Juan. We arrived in San Juan at 11 pm. The airport was empty and it took a while to get our luggage. ... Read More
Myself, my husband and four year older daughter with autism sailed on the Adventure on May 30th on a 7 night cruise, departing from San Juan. We arrived in San Juan at 11 pm. The airport was empty and it took a while to get our luggage. Then we took a taxi on our own to the Sheraton Convention Center hotel. It is close to the cruise terminal. Paying for a taxi on our own cost much less than using the cruise transfer services. We arrived at the hotel and they were so kind. Royal left me a voice message asking us to board the ship at 4 PM for our deck (7). The hotel allowed us to have a free late check out of 1:30 PM. This allowed us to sleep in and take our time in the morning.
We slept very late and got up and ready around noon. The hotel took our luggage and arranged to have it transferred to the cruise terminal. This was immensely helpful and made the process of getting onto the ship extremely simple. We then took a taxi to old town San Juan. We ate lunch at Cafe Puerto Rico (recommended by our taxi driver). The food was moderately pricey, but absolutely amazing! I had limeade and pollo con arroz and it was one of the best meals I ate all week. The staff was great with my daughter and kind.
We shopped around old town until 3:30 then headed on down to the cruise terminal. My daughter has autism that affects her ability to communicate. She does fairly well traveling, but is has a great deal of anxiety when it comes to huge crowds and lines. I spoke with a cruise representative at the cruise terminal and they immediately took us ahead of the lines to the counter, helped us check in and got us on the ship within in 15 minutes. It was absolutely amazing. They were so compassionate of my daughter's special needs, especially when she got frightened during the security process. They were amazing!
Once on the ship, we were able to go straight to our cabin, which was wonderful. I had been initially disappointed that we were not allowed on the ship earlier but it was wonderful to just go up and find our room. We were in cabin 7658, balcony stateroom. I was expecting a little more updating to the rooms but the only thing that was updated was the flat screen tv. We had cruised on the Adventure two years prior before it went to dry dock. We could tell that the ship had been painted but there was still a great deal of wear.
We went and had dinner at the dining room at 5:30 for My Time Dining. We received our table right away. We ate tiger shrimp and my daughter had a steak. Last time, our waiter had de-shelled our shrimp for us, but our waiter did not offer and it was an extremely messy process. But it was tasty.
We headed back to our room and our luggage was there. We unpacked and hung out at the pool for sail off. Unfortunately, it began to rain but it was still nice. We got my daughter registered for Adventure Ocean and went to back to turn in for the night.
The next morning we arrived in St. Martin. We were supposed to go on a beach excursion, but I read the ticket wrong and we missed our transportation. We were easily able to get a taxi to Oriental Beach for only $20. Our taxi driver hooked us up with a bar owner who had two beach chairs and umbrella, plus two drinks for $15. The chairs were just feet away from the water and it was absolutely gorgeous. We had a wonderful day on the beach. There are lots of peddlers who come by, which can either be good or bad depending on your preference. We bought a hat for my husband for $10 and my daughter got a few braids with beads put into her hair. I ended up having my entire head braided for only $2 per braid. The lady did an excellent job and I got lots of compliments the entire cruise. It takes forever to take out once you get home, so definitely carefully consider getting braids. Also, make sure they don't try to change the price on you at the end. The lady who did my hair was good, but not all the peddlers are as scrupulous. My husband also got an aloe vera foot massage for $20 and he was very relaxed. We got horribly sun burned but it was wonderful.
We headed back to the ship, got cleaned up, and took my daughter for her first afternoon at Adventure Ocean. After we dropped her off, we went back onto the island to the small shopping area at the pier. Then we got back on the ship, collected my daughter who had the time of her life at Adventure Ocean. They had done face painting, which she really loves. She even said, "Can I go again?" which made us very happy.
We decided not to do any formal nights because I already had enough luggage with a 4 year old and did not want to travel with formal clothes. We went and ate dinner at Johnny Rockets which was very good. Then my daughter went back to Adventure Ocean and my husband and I roamed the ship. We had drinks at the sports bar and had a wonderful evening.
The next day, we arrived at St. Kitts. I made sure to read our tickets closely and we met our excursion group on the pier. We walked to the other end of the pier and boarded a catamaran for Nevis. We sailed on the catamaran for an hour. Then we arrived at Nevis and had a Caribbean lunch barbecue that was really tasty and played on the beach. We were alone with our group on the beach. There were tons of shells and it was gorgeous. There were no beach chairs as this was just a deserted beach, but it was fun. Then we got back on the catamaran and went back to St. Kitts. It was a 5 and a 1/2 hour excursion and the crew was especially kind to my daughter. I would certainly do this again.
Again, we got back on the ship, got cleaned up and then went shopping on the duty free shopping area right off of the pier. The shop keepers were very pushy here and items tended to be more expensive than they were on San Juan. We got back on the ship and ate dinner in the dining room. I was not very thrilled with the service in the dining room or the quality of the food. It seemed to have gone down a bit since the last time we cruised.
The next day we arrive to Antigua, my least favorite stop on this cruise. It is a bit run down, lots of people asking for hand outs. Its not too safe to wander away from the shop area on your own. We left our daughter in Adventure Ocean as we walked around the shopping area. I was glad we left her because we were constantly bombarded for handouts by aggressive islanders. We got back on the ship right away and made it a pool day. We also booked appointments in the spa. The prices for the spa have skyrocketed in my years of cruising. I got a good deal and took the deal of the day - facial plus massage for $139. A simple Swedish massage cost almost $200 for 60 minutes. So I felt I got a good deal. Most of the ship decided to stay on the boat as well, so it was pretty busy. I would probably skip this stop if we had a cruise with this island on the itinerary.
We ate lunch in the Windjammer and it was excellent. My previous experiences with the Windjammer had been poor, but they have added more variety and better quality of foods. The desserts were also much improved. Our dinner in the dining room was fair, definitely not as good as it had been in the past. I found the items offered underwhelming.
The next day we arrived in St. Lucia. We had decided to purchase another excursion for this island while on the ship. We did the 4x4 island tour which went to a rain forest pond and waterfall. The island is beautiful and one of my favorite destinations. Our tour guide "Sunshine" was a nice guy and we had a nice drive around the island. We stopped at two different spots where we had the opportunity to try bananas and fruits grown on the island. We then went to a stop in the rain forest. We took a trail down to a small creek and a tiny waterfall. The rainy season had not started yet, so the waterfall was small but beautiful. Since we had a 4 year old with us, we waded in the water while others climbed the falls and jumped into the deeper waters. Then we hiked back up to a resting area and had beverages provided by the tour. The owner of the rest area had a puppy and it followed my daughter around much to her delight. It was a lot of fun and we would definitely do it again.
Then we shopped around the pier near the ship, which was very nice. I bought a really nice quartz ring at Effy for a very low price. I'd definitely recommend Effy for their great sales for the cruise goers.
Then we ate dinner in the dining room. I had the rage riggatoni which I had loved last cruise, but this time it tasted old. It was not very good. We ended up running over to the Windjammer and enjoyed a better dinner there. They had a crew member sautéing pasta to order with a wide selection of vegetables which was excellent. At Adventure Ocean, it was one of the crew member's birthday, so they had a birthday party, made cakes out of play doh and gave the kids presents. It was really sweet and my daughter, who loves to dance, got a ballet tutu and tiara to take home.
The next day we woke up docked at Barbados. We made it a beach day and took a taxi to a Accra beach. It was not busy and there were very few people around. We met a nice cat named Susan who belonged to a small shop owner. The owner let me daughter feed the cat and we bought a cute shell bracelet for my little one for $5.
The beach was not as nice as the beach on St. Martin because of all the seaweed, but this is an issue all the islands are having. We saw several ghost crabs on the beach which was fun. It began to rain, so we packed up and took a taxi to the downtown high street. The shopping here is a lot of duty free high end items. We ate lunch at a local place called Ryanne's. We had the chicken curry. I had rice and my husband had the local macaroni pie which was excellent. My daughter had a cheese burger that looked good. This was one of our favorite meals. Also, Barbados coca cola is like Mexican coca cola, made with cane sugar which was really good.
We took a cab back to the nice shopping area at the pier. We shopped some more and took the free shuttle back to the ship. I recommend taking the free shuttle because it is a long walk back to the ship. The shuttle takes you straight to the ship gangway.
It was another formal night, so we skipped it and ate Johnny rockets again. My daughter enjoyed superhero night at the Adventure Ocean and we had fun and drinks at the Harry Potter trivia in the pub.
The next day was finally an at sea day. We were so tired from the super busy itinerary. It was a good itinerary, apart from Antigua, but I prefer more sea days to rest between islands. We had fun at the pool, ate lunch in the dining room which was nice but had poor service. I never received my soda I ordered and the food was only so-so. I had ordered a zucchini pasta and the waitress gave me a salad, and tried insisting it was the pasta. Then she relented and admitted it was incorrect, but it took a short bit of arguing, which was ridiculous. I got my pasta right away but it was only so-so.
We paid $30 for their version of build a bear and it was great. My daughter loves her new pink stuffed dog complete with ballet tutu and shoes.
We ate dinner in the dining room which was bad. I had a pasta that tasted just like Lipton noodles. Not very good for a cruise dinner. We were jammed into a 2 seater table and asked to be moved but the staff was unresponsive. We ended up back at the Windjammer where we had a better experience. My daughter enjoyed her last night at Adventure Ocean. They had a huge pajama party for the kids and she got to decorate and take home a pillow case.
The next morning we got off the ship. The crew again was amazing helping us get off the ship and making the process extremely easy! Even though the dining room food was not very good, the cruise was amazing. I am hoping Royal will fix this issue, as they did improve the food and service at the Windjammer.
We stayed at the Doubletree overnight because the flight back home was a $1000 less if we traveled on Sunday instead of Saturday. I liked the Doubletree much better than the Sheraton and it was less money. We took a cab to the the Plaza las Americas, a beautiful shopping mall. We had a nice night and headed back to the hotel. We then went to Starbucks and sat outside, enjoying the sounds of the Coqui frogs that sing at night in Puerto Rico.
It was an excellent trip, even if the food could have been better. Read Less