This was our third transatlantic cruise, the first two having been with Celebrity on their Millennium and Century. Using that experience as a standard, this cruise did not quite measure up. It could be that RC is doing some product ... Read More
This was our third transatlantic cruise, the first two having been with Celebrity on their Millennium and Century. Using that experience as a standard, this cruise did not quite measure up. It could be that RC is doing some product differentiation, allowing its Royal Caribbean brand to slide, while promoting its Celebrity brand as their 'premium' cruise line. Or, it could be that the very large newer ships in the RC line are posing new service/management issues. Then again, maybe it's both.
This cruise left from Barcelona. For us, this was deja vu because we've sailed from Barcelona on two previous occasions. Embarkation in Barcelona has always been a model of efficiency and superior service. This embarkation was no exception. Incidentally, if you have an opportunity to spend time in Barcelona, do so. It's a wonderful city; one of Europe's very best, in our experience.
From Barcelona, the Adventure of the Seas visited several Mediterranean ports (Toulon, Ajaccio, Mallorca, Cartagena) and two Canary Island ports, before setting out across the Atlantic to San Juan... 14 days in all. The selection of ports was very good, but the timing of some of the visits left room for improvement. For example, we visited Toulon on a Monday. Does RC not know that the French normally work Saturdays and take Mondays off? Disappointingly, this interesting port city was closed! This experience was replayed in Cartagena. Our favorite port was Ajaccio in Corsica, and we plan to return there for a land holiday.
Onboard, the Adventure of the Seas is a marvel -- lots of room, lots of glitz, and an excellent smooth performer in rough seas. The maintenance on this ship is superb. Our stateroom was on deck 6, roughly amid-ship, with a balcony. It was excellent; and the service from the stateroom attendant was flawless. Some guests were complaining that their rooms were being serviced annoyingly late in the day. Later, we were to learn that RC had a lot of 'new recruits' among the crew on this voyage, and they were running daytime training sessions for the rookies... who were expected to catch up after class, I guess. Anyway, the problem was affecting some staterooms, and quite a few of the bars. Until the evening hours, fully half the bars were not open, and quite a few of the bar-tenders had difficulty mixing some of the drinks that were listed in the bar menus.
The dining room was mediocre in many respects. On the first day aboard, we arrived at our reserved table for 6 to learn that it had been assigned to 8 guests. Anyway, the problem was addressed for the second evening, and all affected parties seemed satisfied. But, how can this kind of rookie mistake happen? Let's move on to the food. The quality of the entrees was inconsistent -- some evenings it was superb; some evenings it was difficult to choose an acceptable entree from the day's menu. Inconsistency! But the deserts were consistently bad. Indeed, we noted that the desert offerings at the buffet were much better than those being offered in the dining room. Incidentally, our table service was excellent; probably the best we've ever experienced. But we did note that some of the guests at nearby tables were not so fortunate. We used the buffet for breakfasts and lunches. The quality and choice of food was very good cruise fare. The only negative was the service, in terms of speed of clearing tables, etc. We did not frequent any of the extra-charge restaurants. And, speaking of costs, the cost of alcoholic beverages has been creeping up at RC. The cheapest bottle of wine that I could find was $27 + an automatic 15% gratuity. This is for a bottle of wine that I could have purchased for the equivalent of $6 in Barcelona.
The activities aboard were typical of any very large cruise ship. We can't imagine anyone being bored. Still, this area of service was not without its problems. The gymnasium is probably too small for 3100 passengers, with much of the more popular exercise machines (treadmills, for example) being impossibly over-demanded. Also, the quality of the entertainment aboard was a huge disappointment. Except for an excellent Ice Show and one entertainer (an Elton John impersonator) the entertainment was dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.
Generally, we enjoyed the cruise very much, and I have chosen to focus on the areas needing improvement. Would I repeat this cruise? Probably not; but that may be attributable to the very bad disembarkation that we experienced on arrival in San Juan (home port for the Adventure of the Seas). The ship was scheduled to clear port at about 7:30 AM and we booked a San Juan tour, since our flight only left at 4:00 PM. However, the ship did not clear until after 9:00 AM, and then the problems began in earnest. Passengers were off-loaded into a large metal building where, in 80 F heat, and without water or bathroom facilities, we stood in-line for three hours to clear US customs. During this experience, NO Royal Caribbean crew were in evidence. I can't believe that this is normal procedure in the ship's American home port! Welcome to the USA. Read Less