Royal Caribbean International, Adventure of the Seas, cruise October 12-26 2014
All monies paid to Royal Caribbean, we were given notice of when to check in for boarding at Southampton, as we were on deck 7, our time was for 13:30. We were asked not to turn up before this time so as not to overcrowd the departures lounge. 9th October I received an email requesting me not to turn up until 15:15, “As a number of guests on board experienced Gastrointestinal Illness. In an abundance of caution, we are conducting enhanced sanitizing on-board the ship and within the cruise terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise”. This was a fair enough comment, I had arranged with my son to take us to Southampton, but the time of our arrival could not be changed due to his personal reasons.
We arrived at the departure lounge for 13:45 and settled down to a longer wait than originally planned for. The departure lounge was closed, so we all had to stand around outside of the building. 15:15 came and went, still nobody was allowed into the building No catering for refreshments was available, the small outside shop was closed by 11:00. It seems that the lady who was working in the shop was contracted to stay until 11:00, as the numbers turning up for the cruise was unexpected??? Unbelievable!
My wife who had recently had a knee operation was left to stand, in the cold, with no refreshment available. I asked if water could be found for her as she was feeling the strain. An attendant was quick enough to go looking for water, and came back some minutes later saying there was none to be had, but we could use the rest room taps, we waited a father hour before succumbing to the taps as suggested. I would like to congratulate the Port Authority on their complete disregard to passengers needs.
Our deck number was eventually called for the check-in process, along with all other deck numbers before us. It had started to rain just as we managed to get under the canopy. We passed a water dispenser some way into the building, I queue jumped a few lines to get the water my wife needed, not a popular move, but our needs were greater. The check-in counter was not the most efficient I have ever come across, despite checking in on-line. Having got the checking in out of the way, we then had passport control and security checks to contend with. The ship was due to depart at 16:30, we still had to go through the passport control and security checks, the queues behind us must have been in the 100's. We eventually did get aboard somewhere around 17:15 I can't be certain with any accuracy, by this time I had lost the will to live. Our next job was to find our muster station for lifeboat drill, we eventually found it, no thanks to the attendants standing around, trying to look important. Deck 4, D23 Aft' was our destination a long walk through the ships bar (one of many), through the Casino, then outside to find D23...in the rain where we stood for the next 15 minutes or so waiting for other passengers to turn up (admittedly, partial shelter). After a further 10 minutes or so, the lifeboat drill was officially ended by the Captain’s announcement. Now we were able to do what we wished...Straight to the Promenade Café on deck 5 for a very much needed drink before going to our state room to offload our hand luggage.
We had taken 4 luggage bags with us, there were 3 bags waiting outside our room. As luggage was still being delivered, I was not too concerned, as it could not get lost, after all we were not in an airport, and we saw our luggage being taken to the drop off point. We went for our dinner in the Windjammer Restaurant, where we met an army of servers who’s job it was to put our food onto the plates, we were not allowed to touch anything other than our plates and napkin wrapped cutlery, we were not even allowed to pick up our condiments, but had to watch as they were put onto the food. I have to add that this was done with no skill whatsoever, but dumped, shaken or just scattered, you had to trust to luck you got what you wanted. (This was due to the GI scare and the sanitation was being carried forward). It was the same, every meal, every day throughout the 14 days, with the exception of the last meal, Breakfast on the morning of departure, the only attendants were behind the serving counter, either cooking or restocking as required. Where had the servers gone? Who knows, who cares? The only meal we had where we got exactly what we wanted with no hanging around.
But I digress... After our dinner, we went to deck 5 for a coffee before retuning to our room, still no 4th luggage case (mine). Back to deck 5 reception to enquire the reason. I was asked if I had been to deck 1 to see if it was there. I replied “No, it is off limits to passengers to the best of my knowledge.” I was then told that it is permissible to go and look for my case. This I did...NO CASE. Back to deck 5 to report. I mentioned that this case was very important to me, as I had medical supplies, they would be needed on the voyage, and that if my case had been lost, there would be problems for me later in the voyage, and very big (legal and supply) problems for the company. I was then told to go back to my room and wait for a phone call, this I did. We unpacked what baggage we had and sorted ourselves out, At 22:25 I looked out of the door to find my case had turned up, identity label not where it was fixed originally but threaded into the luggage strap. I went to report the case found, and that all was well. I was told that they were not aware of this and that a form had been made ready for me to fill. On my return to the room, my wife told me that a call had been put through asking if I had my case.
The ship ($ = extra payment)
I have to say that the ship has amenities for almost every type of passenger, too many to list here, I would advise looking at their website for more details. The staterooms of which there are 100's on several decks (we had over 3,000 guests on board) vary in size and cost, the bigger the room the greater the gratuities paid by all occupants, including children from what I can make out. We had an inner stateroom just big enough for two occupants, but will take up to 4 (be prepared to keep clothing in suitcases and store them under the beds, we had to do this 3 years ago when we took my Father-in-law with us). All beds are single, but can be converted to twin or double, just ask. The top beds are stored in the ceiling and have ladders to climb. The shower room is compact, but has all that is needed. Look at it this way, the inner stateroom is just a large caravan with a safe and fridge, also on-board interactive TV to order excursions and also to keep tabs of your credit. Daily morning 'shows' from the cruise director to keep you informed. Other amenities include Multi faith chapel, mini golf, in-line skating track [which was not open on this trip] rock climbing, golf simulator I think ($), health spa ($), sports arena, basket ball & football, games room (cards etc.) Library, access to books this trip was not available due to the GI outbreak, although the room could be used, Internet access ($) very expensive Professional photographers are everywhere ready to take your pictures at the drop of a hat ($), there is also a cinema on deck 2 I think, as well as a big screen on deck 11. Beauty parlour ($), gymnasium ($), shopping is a regular feature for some guests. These are a selection, and other activities can be found on a daily basis, not forgetting free poolside towels, 2 per guest, as many times as needed. There are bars for your drinks at $8+ a go. No wines, beers or spirits are allowed to be taken aboard, any purchase have to be handed in before boarding, and will be returned to you on the last night of your cruise
On the whole, the holiday was enjoyable, the weather after the first 2 days was perfect, the evening shows at the Lyric (decks 3 & 4 forward) were OK, but not up to the usual standard, (we have been on 2 cruises previously with Caribbean) the exception being the Ice show (Deck 3 Aft'), this was perfect. We only did the one excursion, a panoramic tour of Valencia, and thought it a rip off, but that is another story. All other ports visited, we walked off and explored under our own steam in temperatures of mid 20's to low-mid 30's C. My wife who loves crafting would often disappear to make cards or jewellery ($) as part of the ship's programs. For myself I was on a learning curve with my camera, the holiday presented opportunities I would not get back at home. I did not achieve all I wanted, but I was happy with what I had done. I gave the jacuzzi (1 of 4 or was it 6?) plenty of use, also the swimming pool a go, there were 3 of these. To lay in the sun on a mattressed sun bed in October to dry out in mid 20's to low 30's is something I can certainly recommend. Several types of tea and coffee or even drinking chocolate were always on tap for the asking. Also frozen yoghurt is available during the daytime. Cakes, Pizza slices, fruit, sandwiches, cookies etc. were available from the Windjammer from 15:00 on deck 11, or the Promenade Café deck 5 almost 24/7.
Now, here is the rub. Having sailed with Royal Caribbean International on two other occasions, this was our second cruise on 'Adventure', we thought that standards had gone down in a big way, I have already mentioned the evening shows at the Lyric, some of the furniture needed repairing in Windjammer, a couple of armchairs in the library were past their best. I took my laptop to the games room on deck 14 to edit some photographs, and felt the table was going to collapse, any time soon. In the semi enclosed area of deck 11, some tiles were broken and could cause some nasty wounds to the feet. I think this was caused by the rearranging of the sunbeds, dragging and dropping after use. A lot of guests thought that many staff were close to being ignorant (It’s just a job attitude). Fortunately these were in the minority.
To be fair, the holiday was enjoyable. You can certainly expect crowds during meal times at various restaurants, certainly after a show has ended at the Lyric also the Promenade gets very busy every evening.
Departure for home
On the last night you will be given new case labels, ask for the numbers required. Having packed to depart, fix labels to your baggage and leave outside your room before 23:00. These will be collected and taken to the collection point for when you leave the ship. This was very straight forward for us off and out in less than 10 minutes, and no customs or passport control. [Regarding no customs, last cruise we did 2011, there were packets of cigarettes stacked on several tables, plus drinks of all varieties, confiscated by customs. So, be warned]
Our departure was not the best, we sat in the arrivals lounge, waiting for our son to collect us. We were 2 of 4 people with all our luggage, one of the Port staff came in and asked us when we would be departing, I mentioned that we were waiting for our lift, hopefully aground midday. We were then told in no uncertain circumstances that the lounge would have to be closed, and that we would have to leave, now. I asked the reason why, and was told that in order to minimize cross contamination, the arrival lounge will have to be closed. This seemed a very weak argument, as the departure guests would be going into another building, or milling around outside, as we did two weeks previously. We were also told the toilets would be locked, along with the arrivals lounge. It is a good job the toilets were not locked two weeks ago, we both used them twice, and to drink from the taps. Our argument fell on deaf ears. We were however supplied with a coach to take us to the Holiday Inn just outside the gate. So we could contaminate the other people there???
In all we had a good time, we enjoyed our food and amenities, we visited places we had not seen before, all in good weather. It does no do to dwell on the 'bad side' of the event. Hopefully, this is just a one off incident. A last word to Royal Caribbean International, BIGGEST IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST.