Have you read Part I of Adventure of the Seas By L. Watson? Part II 12/14/01 ----- Day 6 ---- St. Maarten We got up about 8:30am and went to the fitness center and I did about 20 minutes on the machine I liked so much. It is ... Read More
Have you read Part I of Adventure of the Seas By L. Watson? Part II 12/14/01 ----- Day 6 ---- St. Maarten We got up about 8:30am and went to the fitness center and I did about 20 minutes on the machine I liked so much. It is getting harder to work out. I don't have the same energy level I had at the beginning of the week. I weighed myself and found that I had gained 6 pounds. I guess that isn't bad considering how much I have eaten and drank these last few weeks, but I guess that might explain my lower energy level. Also, Brian had caught a cold and wasn't feeling very well at all. He had a sore throat and an ear ache. He did a brief workout and then he did a steam thinking it would help, but I'm not sure a warm moist climate is good for a cold, but I don't know. The Adventure of the Seas is now in the port of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. This is the island of two countries - St. Maarten - Dutch and St. Martin - French. We had been to St. Maarten on a previous cruise, but had not been to the French side of St. Martin. The last time we were here, a tender had to take us since there the pier for cruise ships had not been built yet. Since then a huge pier was built for cruise ships to dock at. It is an incredibly nice pier, but it is a ways from Phillipsburg. We didn't realize how far it was and instead of paying a taxi to take us just around the corner, we decided to walk over to Phillipsburg and catch a bus to Marigot, St. Martin on the French side. Well, Phillipsburg, wasn't just around the corner and we walked about a mile before we got into town. It wasn't too hot and it wasn't a bad walk, we just were not expecting it. We read ahead of time that the most inexpensive way to go to Marigot was by bus for $1.50 per person. We could of done on of the excursions, but we wanted to see Marigot on our own so we found a bus stop and waited. We realized after about 15 vans went by that those were the buses and that we had to look in their windows for a card that read their destination and wave them down. It was not a very far distance - the whole Island is only 37 square miles - but it took about 25 minutes to get to Marigot with traffic. The most congested of the traffic was right in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Marigot was not as crowded with tourists and it was enjoyable to walk around the quaint coastal French town. We stopped at a small cafe for a thirst quenching Orangina before setting off to explore. My favorite part was the marina harbor side with all the French style restaurants on the water front. It was a picture out of a painting until it started to rain. We ducked into the Le Galleon restaurant to get out of the rain. We had to move back from our original table when it started to rain harder and blow in on us. It was a really cool rain storm that I don't think they get very often. We ordered a couple of beers and an appetizer that consisted of raw ham, white ham, and homemade (liver?) pate - it was definitely interesting and not what we usually consume. Then I had mussels with French baguettes that were excellent and Brian had a flank steak that was too rare for his tastes but he ate it anyway and said it was good. The waiter was very nice, good looking and French of course! Ooh La La - don't all us girls have those French guy fantasies? It was a very enjoyable meal and the rain had lessened a great deal when we were ready to go. We found another bus stop and went back to Phillipsburg and walked back to the ship. It started raining again when we were about half way to the ship, but we didn't care because we were already damp from earlier and we didn't mind the rain. We rested and got cleaned up when we got back to the room. From the looks of the weather outside, it seemed like it was going to rain for the rest of the day and it did on and off. We went bar hopping for a couple of hours and stopped in the casino for our daily black jack and won $60. Then we went to supper and Moses acted like he was hurt that we skipped the formal dinner the night before. We jokingly apologized over and over and said it would not happen again. He was a very funny guy who we enjoyed very much. He spent a lot of time with us talking and joking around. We had ordered a bottle of wine from our interactive television screen to have with dinner but it was not there. The system was down, but Moses took care of it right away. I had shrimp that night and Jasper, the head waiter came by and cut the tails and shells off my large butter flied shrimp. He made it a point to stop at our table every night to make sure everything was okay. The show that night was a singer/impressionist from Canada named Martin Dube who we would get to know a little better while playing Blackjack in the casino tomorrow night. He sang songs and sounded just like the original artists. I thought he was great. There were a couple we thought he shouldn't have tried, but most of his impressions were amazing - even of female singers! He did everyone from Madonna to Shaina Twain from Elton John to Garth Brooks. This is the only time I got to hear country music so I was happy even if it was just a couple of phrases. Country music is one small thing I would request that cruise lines add but we are probably too small of a group to accommodate. There is a really good assortment of music like piano, jazz, calypso, guitar, top 40 dance, easy listening and especially Latino music on this cruise but no country music. I definitely liked all that they had to offer, but it would have been nice to hear my favorite type of music too. But that's just my opinion - Brian of course doesn't share it, because he is a little bit rock and roll. HA! After the show, we tried to catch the "Rockin' through the Decades" parade in on the Promenade street but it was just too crowded to see anything. But of course we saw the Krooz Komics on stilts who were just as upbeat and spectacular as ever. Later there was a "Rockin' thru the Decades" party in Studio B where they had covered the ice with a dance floor. We had already missed the 50s and 60s and had heard YMCA at least 15 times through out both of our cruises which was fun to dance to for the first 5 times or so. There were other bands in the 70s besides Village People, wasn't there? Brian was feeling pretty cruddy because of his cold, so we didn't stick around and called it an early night at midnight. 12/15/01 ---- Day 7 ---- St. Thomas It poured down rain all day long! I thought it never rained in the Caribbean like that! We think that St. Thomas got all of its average rainfall for the year that day. All the excursions were cancelled which didn't bother us because we were not planning on getting off the ship anyway. It was a bummer though because this was our last day on the cruise and we had been looking forward to swimming, playing miniature golf and maybe rollerblading while most of the people were off the ship. Oh well, we had to make the best of it so we had room service breakfast on our balcony and enjoyed the sound of the rain for awhile. Then we went to workout which was really not a good idea so soon after breakfast. We should have worked out before we ate because it took everything I had to do 15 minutes on the machine because I was so sluggish. We sat in the mineral hot tub in the center of the spa for awhile, then we did a sauna and a steam. Clearly it was going to be a day for pure relaxation and doing as little as possible. Later that afternoon, we went up to the Solarium pool area and dozed on the deck chairs. It was raining hard but we were under a covered spot. Brian noticed the Solarium Bar was open so we got a Bloody Mary as we headed back to our room. Brian decided the Bloody Mary didn't have enough alcohol so he called room service. I didn't think they would deliver drinks to your room, but they did. A girl came with a tray that held two very full vodka martinis. She came in the room, knelt down and placed the tray on the coffee table. We were extremely impressed that she did not spill a drop. I would have had vodka all over the place. We got the cheese out of the fridge that we had bought in Aruba the previous Friday when we were on the Carnival Destiny, ate much of it and watched the movie, "The Mexican". It was so funny, but it could have been because of the martinis. After the movie when we were full of cheese and alcohol, we went back up to the Solarium pool and sat in a hot tub. The Adventure of the Seas left St. Thomas at 6pm and headed to San Juan. The overall mood of everyone on the ship was glum. Many had never been to St. Thomas and were very disappointed with the rainy day. We were feeling a little glum because our vacation was almost over. We went back to our cabin to get our gratuity envelopes ready for the staff that provided such wonderful service. Unlike Carnival who now automatically puts the tips on your sail and sign card, Royal Caribbean gives you the option of putting the tips on your super charge card if you want. We like to personally give each crew member their tip with a very verbal thank you for all the hard work they did for us. We then located Teodore, our cabin steward who did a fantastic job cleaning up after us and gave him his envelope. We went to the Farewell show before supper and Ken, the cruise director did his best to put everyone in a good mood again. There was a comedian and a balancing act that were part of the Welcome Aboard show that we had skipped the first night. They were excellent. The ship was really rocking again and it was incredibly amazing that the balancing guy didn't fall and break his neck! He managed to crawl up on top of a ton of various objects he placed on top of one another, including rolling cylinders and moving things like that. I held my breath the entire time. We then went to supper, handed out our tip envelopes and said good bye to Moses, Mustafa and Jasper. Then we went to the casino for our last night of gambling. Brian won a little over $70 on roulette while I lost about $25 on black jack. We were ready to call it quits when we decided to play a Pink Panther dollar slot machine. I had never played anything more than quarters so that my $20 lasts a little longer, but we decided to live a little since it was our last night. We played about $10 and won $115! We cashed out, shopped a little at the Promenade shops and went bar hopping again. Our bar tab by the way was fairly extensive with the wide array of alcohol we consumed. Finally, we decided we better get back to the room and pack. How depressing of a thought that was because I did not want to think about getting off this incredible ship in the morning. We had a really difficult time packing because for one, we didn't want to and for another the rocking motion was horrible. I actually got sick to my stomach for the first time. We managed to get everything packed and out in the hall at 12:15am. We did not fall asleep easily with the all the rocking the ship did on this last night. 12/16/01 ----- San Juan, Puerto Rico ------ Debarkation of the Adventure of the Seas Yesterday in St. Thomas, we went through immigration process while on the ship. Everyone had to do this even if they did not get off of the ship in St. Thomas because we were back in an United States port. But since we didn't get off the ship, we did it at our leisure just before the deadline and there wasn't any wait at all. It only took a couple of minutes and we were happy to be done with this the day before we debarked. The morning of debarking, we didn't have to report to a lounge at a certain time and get off the ship when our color tag was called - like we had to on all our previous Carnival cruises. All we had to do was to be out of our room by 8:30 and we had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room since we were staying in San Juan that day and in no hurry to get off the ship. Then we walked around and decided to relax in the Lyric Theatre where they had CNN on for awhile, then Animal Planet and the Travel Channel. They announced airline flight numbers for people to know when to get off the ship. I was catching up on my notes for this review when finally around 11:45, they announced that all remaining guests should debark at that time. There were no lines of people waiting to get off and when we got into the massive terminal, it was empty except for a few people and pieces of luggage here and there, so ours was extremely easy to locate. We hired a porter to load up our bags and take us to a taxi. He collected our customs card from us and commented about how busy the place was an hour before. We got into a taxi and headed to the El Convento Hotel because we were not flying back to Anchorage until the next day. We got to the hotel before check in time a little after noon, but our room was ready. The El Convento Hotel was a small luxury hotel right across from the San Juan Cathedral on Cristo Street in Old San Juan. For 250 years, it served as a convent to the Carmelite Nuns. It is really old and slightly musty, but restored very nicely. It is very comfortable and decorated with Spanish antiques, yet had all the conveniences and amenities we could possibly have wanted. We had a couple of beers and tried Puerto Rican style pizza in a cafe downstairs and then spent a couple of hours in the hot tub on the sun deck. It was very cloudy, but it did not rain on us. The clouds were nice because we didn't have to worry about burning our still pale arctic skin. We took a short nap and then headed to the lobby for complementary wine and cheese that was being offered from 6pm - 7:30pm. We called home to check on our dog whom we missed very much and he was doing fine. We took a short walk around Old San Juan and down to the Governor's mansion to see his Christmas decorations at night and headed back to the hotel. We rented a bad movie but managed to stay awake to see the Adventure of the Seas go by on its way back out to sea for its fifth official cruise. Sniff - our vacation is over. 12/17/01 ------ American Airlines ----- Flight 1777 ----- San Juan to Barrow Alaska We checked out of the El Convento hotel at 7:00 and had a light complementary breakfast there. The porter got us a taxi and loaded our bags and we headed to the airport. The lines were massive and we were happy to be flying first class thanks to travel awards. We like taking vacations and cruising, but right now, we wish we didn't have to fly to get to these destinations since our location is quite remote and the trip from San Juan to Barrow took us 24 hours. We were definitely happy to be back home with Merlin, our dog and to put and end to the transportational commute portion of our vacation. Final thoughts: The worst complaint or more of an "irritation" - that we experienced on both ships - was the population of the Spanish only speaking people on board. The people from Puerto Rico received incredible bargains for these cruises and brought whole families. It was one big party for them and many of these families acted like they were the only ones on board. Everyone deserves to have a good time, but it was very hard to move through or around large groups of people as they congregated in walk through areas. They didn't seem to care that they were always in the way of others, and they didn't understand the phrase "excuse me" or they wouldn't hear it until we said it the 3rd or 4th time because they were always talking so loudly to one another. It was a little bit of a pain at the beginning, but by the end of cruise, it was extremely annoying! I happily embrace other cultures and peoples but I don't have much tolerance for anyone who's down right rude. It was uncommon to find ourselves on an elevator with any one who spoke English and on several of the occasions that we were with English speaking people, they commented that they were happy to be on an elevator that was not loaded with overly loud Latino conversation and rude families. I was relieved to know that we were not the only ones to feel this way. Read Less
The great adventure 1-20-2002 review is here !!!!!! To everyone who has or is thinking of taking their cruise on the adventure, my vote is most definitely!!!!! We were fortunate to have an owners suite, and all I can say is wow !!! ... Read More
The great adventure 1-20-2002 review is here !!!!!! To everyone who has or is thinking of taking their cruise on the adventure, my vote is most definitely!!!!! We were fortunate to have an owners suite, and all I can say is wow !!! We had lots of company to say the least. I will try and list some of the highlights for you but if you have any specific questions please ask away and I'll answer. To start off the cruise we boarded very quickly due to the VIP boarding we had, about 15 minutes we were on board. Her colors are absolutely gorgeous, the planets off the Centrum elevators are something else, also the floating glass sculpture at the other lifts was quite remarkable. Had Mike (hubby) take video of both, not to mention everything else we did. We had a surprise call from the Captain's wife Tove, and she came to visit us in our suite, we talked and to say the least we were very impressed with her. They invited us to the bridge for the sailaway from San Juan after the muster drill, and folks I must say it was like nothing we ever imagined, we met Captain Remo on the bridge and his son Frederick. It could of been off the Starship Eenterprise, everything was just cool.....cant think of the right words to really describe it. We also met the Staff Captain Darin Bowland, he was very nice to us as well. We saw the fort leaving as we sailed away..... Folks, after that we went to the party on the pool deck, go and have a great time, a drink or 2 wouldnt hurt either....lol Food on Sunday was like a thanksgiving dinner when you board at lunchtime, trust me you'll eat, just leave room for dinner. Dinner we all had something different, our son ate the smoked fish appetizer he enjoyed it, the Tuscan tomato soup was delicious and the shrimp ravioli mmmmmmmmm. Our first day, at sea.....we had a bit of high waves , so that the pool seemed that it was a wave pool instead of a normal swimming pool, we had a ton of fun doing the wave thing. Guess you would have to have been on board to understand but it was a riot. Please join in on the fun of the Mr. Sexy Legs contest-Mike won Mr. Sexy Legs - 2 years in a row, next year he'll let someone try, but women try to get your man into it, you'll have a blast. Kirk Detweiler - cruise director was alot of fun all week long, trust me on this he got his own later on during the week. We ate breakfast in the dining room everyday, and the food was excellent. We love to be served so we skipped the Windjammer, but the food is good there as well. Lunch back to the dining room, we like to be served.dinner, what can we say, some of the best, we were sent an invitation to the Captain's table for dinner on Monday night, the hostess Genie, introduced us to each other and then brought us over to the Captain's table, once she escorted the Captain and his wife Tove, she introduced him to each person, and I was the lucky one who was seated next to the Captain, our son was seated next to Tove. It was a wonderful evening, they are both so personable, dinner was fabulous. Shrimp cocktails for the appetizer, lobster bisque, caesar salad, and filet and a dessert with fruit and ice cream to die for. We then left for the show. Day 3, well this could take forever...... I'll try and shorten this up we did the snorkel tour by catamaran with 2 stops to snorkel, well we had a ball, had some of our cruise critics on board and yes when it came time to sail back, Tony got the rum punch and tequilla snorkel shooter going, folks all I can say that I wasn't sure if anyone got off that wasn't a bit happy!!! Thanks Tony we do have you on our video.....we shopped Aruba and saw our buddies in town, we bought a 15lb Gouda cheese, we have to cut it open soon. Bought some other stuff, printed shirts and asst. Stuff, then back to the ship to pass out in the pool. Dinner was great, crab and shrimp salad, Ocho Rios pepper pot soup, Key West grouper, Mike and Ben had roast lamb and seafood penne pasta, chocolate rainforest cake, and Costa Rican banana creme pie. Folks all the selections were delicious. We also made it to carlos and charlies, go, is all I can say !!!! Day 4, Curacao great snorkeling there, and shopping afterwards, take a taxi folks dont walk to town. Really need to look at the video, mind is getting foggy. Dinner was excellent. Do the ice show when you get a chance. Day 5, at sea, how peaceful, needed the day to relax by the pool, get up early if you want a good lounge, they go fast, we had our group by the pool bar, it figures with this group that's where we would sit for the day. Some of us got into the swimming relays, no reason to say we lost but had fun trying to win. Folks I am just going to give you some other highlights cause i'm getting tired, so here goes, go to the beach party, it was fun have some great pics, try and find sometime to sleep. On Wednesday, we had our cruise critic party, we were very fortunate to have Captain Remo and his wife Tove attend, the Staff Captain Darin Bowland, Kirk Detweiler - Cruise Director, Martin Rissley the Hotel Director, Michael Rasmussen - Food and Beverage manager, he put out quite a spread for the group, had servers with drinks for us as well, we did miss Genie -social hostess and Michelle McGregor due to the fact they had previous meetings scheduled. Everyone in the group wanted their picture taken with the Captain and Tove and they were very accommodating to all, they met lots of poeple with the group, and we were very honored to have all of the staff in attendance. Thank you all for making us the 1st Rubberband party on the Adventure of the Seas. We went to many shows, so to make it short the entertainment was great, I even got in the headliner show with Greg Bonham, have a signed CD to prove it. Guess I was recognized a lot of that show .......lol In St. Marteen's we went to Orient beach and it was delightful, beautiful beach and our guide was great, had a great day !!! Even got some guavaberry liquor from our frineds because my feet swelled up like 2 bananas. Thanks Jim and Michelle... Well St. Thomas off to snorkel by private yacht - we were on the Island Girl with Mike and his wife Debbie as the owners, she was great at pointing out the fish and other interesting wild life on the reef, highly go and do this tour out to Buck Island. Then shopping, well Mike my hubby bought me a beautiful diamond ring, I cried when he put it on me. Very sentimental I am, he got a man's ring too, but he didn't cry...lol R We ate in Portofino that night, and pay the cover charge folks, its fabulous, we ate there on the Voyager as well and just trust me and make reservations. Then we went to the farewell show, and then to pack, what an ordeal, 2 1/2 hours..... As I promised more great adventures........... Its kind of hard to recall everything, but the memories are forever lasting, our group of Cruise Critics were so fun, that no matter where you were in and off the ship we were there. To give you folks some info on the owners suite, it has a king size bed, a 48 inch wide screen tv, nice balcony, a curved sectional with a queen sleep sofa, dining table and chairs ample of drawer space and tons of closet space, we are clothes horses so we had plenty of room. Also there was a dressing table in the bedroom area and an chaise lounge also another window to look out at if you chose not to be on the balcony, we chose the balcony, what sites we saw from her. The bathroom was fab...listen to this all marble, a glass enclosed shower, a jacuzzi tub, a toilet and a bidet. Mike and I used it, our son Ben was chicken....lol. Our room steward Audley made sure everything was top notch, never needed a thing and he did great towel art, on Sat night he made us 2 kissing monkeys...how sweet, plus he made a puppy dog, an elephant and some kind of mouse, he explained it to us but still unsure of it, it may bite!!!! We were in the McKinley suite 1300, in case you book it, you may find the leftovers from us. We had Hors D'Oeuvres each afternoon in the suite when we came up from the pool, and also the concierge service with Marise located on the 9th deck was superb, she made us feel welcome from day one, and we had appetizers there every night prior to getting dressed for dinner, also included was drinks. If anyone is a Crown and Anchor member we hope you attended the Repeaters Party, it was very nice, wait staff with all kinds of drinks from frozen, to wine, to mixers and champagne, passing Hors D'Oeuvres, so yummy, Captain Remo gave a speech, I love to listen to him. We hope everyone went to the Midnight Buffet, one thing is so amazing is the ice and butter sculptures, what a talented staff, we saw the ice carving at the beach party, doesn't take them long, me it would be a lifetime. Please feel free and contact me with questions if I can be of any help in your AOS sailing. To Captain Remo & Tove, and the entire staff of the Adventure of the Seas, this was a spectacular cruise for us, thank you for making it so special. Always, Reina, Mike and Ben Sachs RJSachs1@aol.com February 2002 Read Less
Ports of Call; Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Deck #9 Room 9622 portside balcony (Bumpout) This was our second cruise with RCI. Our 1st was on the Enchantment of the Seas in the Western Caribbean. That was what got us ... Read More
Ports of Call; Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Deck #9 Room 9622 portside balcony (Bumpout) This was our second cruise with RCI. Our 1st was on the Enchantment of the Seas in the Western Caribbean. That was what got us hooked a couple of years back. We had been planning this cruise for over a year. With the help of a great TA, who is also a very good friend. I shopped this trip and she was right on the money. She has never lead me wrong. We became good friends with our tablemates from our 1st cruise and have stayed in touch. So we planned this 2nd cruise together. They are from Minnesota. So when your cruise director says, "Don't worry about acting foolish you'll never see these people again" you never know what type of friendship you may be building while you are on vacation. We built up such a great relationship with Karen, Rick, Brain and Elizabeth that we just had to get together and do it again. We loved cruising so much that we talked our NASCAR friends into going with us on this cruise also. Needless to say Sherri and Dan are now hooked on cruising. This was their 1st but I don't believe it will be their last. What a vacation and great time we had! We all agreed we would do these ports of call and ship all over again! I have been reading all about these ports and this ship. I did put a lot of time into researching this trip. I read every review I could, both the good and bad. So this is my take on this ship and the ports of call. We left home on Feb.1 at 4:00 am and arrived at BWI at 7:00 am. When we left home it was raining, foggy and 34 degrees with snow still on the ground. We have been having a very cold winter in Maryland. We flew on American Airlines. The self-service at the airport sucked and we had to ask for help. Would not take our information. Everybody was helpful, so no problems. I was really afraid they were going to tell me my luggage was too heavy. What can I say with 2 girls and all they need to pack? Our 13-year-old daughter and myself. We girls need shoes to match every outfit. Anyway, no problems with the weight of our luggage. Security was not bad at all. No one in our group of 5 had to take off any shoes. Sherri and Dan live near us so we all drove together to the airport. Flight was a little late leaving by 20-25 minutes. Calculating weight. Oh no!!! I know it was my suite case with all our shoes. Arrived in San Juan at approx 2:40 pm. 85 degrees and overcast. Took about 20 minutes to get our luggage. Took taxi to Wyndham Condado Plaza for $25.50 for 5 of us and lots of luggage. Taxi driver spoke very little English. At Condado Plaza in about 15 minutes. It did take us about 30-35 minutes to check in. They were very busy. They did take my Wyndham By Request Number. I faxed it about 2 weeks prior. Room 722 on 7th floor Ocean View. Dan and Sherri were right next-door. Had wine, fruit and cheese waiting for us in our room. Beautiful view. We could see the Caribe Hilton looking out the balcony towards the left. Room was clean, sheets were clean, towels clean and bathroom was clean. The walk-in closet was bigger than the bathroom and had a safe. The room had blow dryers, safe and coffeemaker. The rooms need some renovation but for $75.00 through Priceline and took our WBR # we could not go wrong. I've stayed in worse and better but boy the view! I overheard the people standing in line behind us and they paid $199.00. Got things straight and went to see if Karen, Rick, Brian and Elizabeth had arrived. Perfect timing they were next in line to check in. Now they didn't except Karen's WBR #. She emailed it to them and they emailed back that because she got her room through Priceline they would not accept it. I walked up to the desk clerk with her and told him that she had forgotten her number and asked if he had anything available near us...guess what...he put her right next door. Being friendly and a smile always helps. Besides the fact that Sherri and I had already paid him a compliment on how well he smelled. Not only did he smell good he looked good too. We left our husbands with the luggage by the couches while us girls checked in....hey it worked!!! So while Karen and her gang checked out their room we checked out the hotel. Small beach area, swim up bar but closed around 5-6:00 pm. Salt water pool and pool overlooking the lagoon. 9 restaurants. Casino. After we all sat out on the outdoor patio and had a couple of drinks, we went to Tony Roma's Ribs. Food was O.K. Service a little slow. They were busy. After we ate Sherri and I scoped out the casino. They had a live band playing out side the casino in the bar. It was getting late and we knew we wanted to check out Old San Juan in the morning so we called it a night. San Juan Beautiful sunny morning. Ate breakfast at the hotel. It was high around $15.00-$18.00 for a buffet style breakfast. Went to El Morro fort. Cost $10.00 to be dropped off at the El Morro Fort by taxi. It cost $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for kids. Karen and her gang headed to the rain forest. Beautiful views from the fort. We could have left the guys there all day. They like history. Walked downtown, very narrow streets. Did a little shopping and looked at the birds in the plaza. They also had a band playing. We saw our ship when we were going back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. WOW!!!!! Checked out of the hotel at around 11:45 am and headed to the ship. $20.00 to the pier. Don't worry about taxis; they are all over the place. Just make sure you ask the price before you get in. Got to the pier at around 12:00 pm. Long line. We went through fast when that line started to move! No problems except Sherri could not find her license at first...we told her we would wave to her when we pulled out of port....(lol), Showed our papers, got our cruise cards and were off to the ship's store in the terminal. Bought Crown Royal at the ship store. Put in our carry on and did not have a problem. They did take booze from the ones that just left it in the store bag and ran it through the x-ray machine. It was lined up!! Even if they had taken it, it would have not been a problem, basically bought it because it was cheap! To those of you who have a problem with people bringing booze on the ship...don't worry we helped the ship out with our bar tab. My husband would fix a drink and sit on the balcony while us girls got ready for dinner then would fix one after dinner while we waited to go to a show. So we even brought a bottle back home with us. We were on the ship by 1:00 pm, so the line moved real fast and that including the time in the ships store before boarding. Got our pictures taken before going up the gangway. Put our cards in the check in machine had our picture taken for security and were off!!! This ship is BIG! Had to get our bearing straight! Found our rooms. Found out that we weren't sitting at the same dinner table...Oh No! Went down to the dinning room got it straight. 1st ones in line. Everybody at the same table, they original had Sherri and Dan at another table. We had main seating 6:00 pm because we had kids with us. No problems with main seating but if you had a problem on 2nd seating I was told by our headwaiter that it wasn't a table to be had. We checked out the ship and left the guys and my daughter to explore while Sherri and I went to do the spa tour. Sherri found out about the ship shape classes and signed up while I read what was available for massages. Purchased a coke card for our daughter $20.00 and a cocktail card for myself $39.00 plus 15% service charge. Never had a problem with this cocktail card. Imported Beer $3.75, domestic beer $2.75, Absolut Vodka $4.50, Canadian Club $4.50, Crown Royal $5.00 just to give you some indication as to what drinks cost. They always offer drinks of the day for $3.95. They no longer offer soda for free in the dinning room. The ship is so big, very clean for the most part although there was some worn spots on the carpet but who's looking at the carpet all the time? If you had around 3,000 people walking on you every week you'd be worn too. Somebody was always cleaning and shinning on something. Anyway, found Karen, Rick, Brain and Elizabeth. Rick was already by the pool. Their rooms were right next door to us and Sherri and Dan were across the hallway. They were on the starboard side of the ship also in a balcony room with the bump out. Everybody did get their entire luggage before dinner accept us, missing our big suitcase. No problem. I talked with Sherri and Dan's room steward and she said "Go as you are because everybody is waiting for luggage." It was causal night in the dinning room. So we went and we did not feel out of place because there were quite a few (majority) dressed in shorts and sandals. Met our waiter, assistant waiter (His 1st week) and our headwaiter. Came back from dinner and there was our last piece of luggage! Muster drill was at 8:15 pm, maybe took 20 minutes. After muster drill the guys went to play basketball, then we all went up to the pool for the sail away party. We left around 10:35 pm had to wait for 2 other ships to leave before us, Carnival and Costa. Roger went to the Royal Promenade on deck 5 to watch the parade. Lindsay was tired so we went to the cabin. I finished unpacking He said we missed a good parade. Sherri could not get her sea legs! Sea Day Watched the sun come up -- what a beautiful day. Ordered room service for coffee and juice. At the room in 4 minutes. I always give a tip for a couple of dollars and I always had room service in less than 5 minutes, just enough time to brush teeth and hair so I wouldn't scare anyone. Lindsay slept in. Roger and I sat on the balcony and drank coffee. Went and ate breakfast in the Windjammer. They have anything and everything you would want for breakfast. Somebody from our group also got omelets to order. Sherri went to ship shape class and a kickboxing class. Couldn't find Dan for a long time. Hung by the pool and had drinks. Roger and Lindsay went rock-climbing, in-line skating and played miniature golf. Dan did show up by the pool and found out fast that just because people are speaking a different language doesn't mean they can't understand what you are saying!!! I told Dan we needed to go get tickets for the "Cool Art Hot Ice" show but I couldn't remember what deck we needed to go to....This little sweet voice spoke up....the young lady sitting next to us speaking beautiful French, was in the ice show...she told us were we needed to go get tickets...ha ha Dan! She was very nice and nothing was said out of the way only how beautiful they were. So we carried on a conversation when we got back with the tickets. She was from Canada and her sister was visiting. Gave us some tips on places the staff goes while in port. By now all of our gang was around the pool. Watched the "Sexy Legs" contest. Boy, what those men will do to win!!! Make sure you wear lots of sunscreen. Went and had lunch at the Windjammer. The pool was busy but there were still plenty of chairs around just not on the main level by the pools. Saw flying fish. Went to cabin to get ready for dinner. Did finally meet our room steward, Katia from Costa Rica. Tonight was the formal night. Boy we all looked sharp. Got pictures taken. Went to our table. They changed our headwaiter! I had to ask what happened which did not make me happy because I had to ask. I am in management and run a tight ship in my office and know how important it is to keep our customers posted on any changes before they ask. With that said... our headwaiter came around just before desert and explained that another table had had our waiter on a past cruise and requested him again. Needless to say I had to put my two cents in on how it was handled. Amelia our headwaiter from Romania was very apologetic. I did feel like second best but it did not last for long. Deepak from India worked out great and didn't mind that we were always laughing and cutting up. I think he enjoyed us just as much as we enjoyed his service. Our assistant waiter was Zoltan from Hungary. This was his first week!! Boy did we break him in right! He would always ask, "Coffee, yes please". I think we made him feel very at ease on his 1st week because as the week went on he didn't seem to be as nervous. Amelia our headwaiter was very nice. I noticed she always seem to spend more time at our table talking with us and giving us tips on what to do in port the next day and asking what we did that day, Of course, Dan just had to get her to talk to him in Russian. That Dan. Desmond from St. Vincent was our bar steward. It didn't take long for him to have the type of beer my husband would drink already for him. Dan tried the shooter of the evening every night. He has the collection of shot glasses to prove it. I believe they all enjoyed us just as much as we enjoyed them. Our group always had a smile, was always laughing, thanked them at the end of the night and advised them "We'll be back". Saw Kenny James, he was a past "Star Search" winner. Boy, could he sing!!! Great show. He made the hair stand on my arms. Went to the Casino with Sherri. Had a good time. I lost $30.00 but did play for a while before I lost it. Dan and Lindsay went to the Arcade. Roger and Rick went to the Duck and Dog on the Royal Promenade. Roger said it was a good crowd with a great guitar player/singer. Sherri and I hooked up with Lindsay and Dan at the arcade. Went to Johnny Rockets. Great shakes. They cost $3.95 and always have a flavor of the day. Make sure you play the jukebox and make sure you play "Stayin Alive" by the BeeGees. I'm not going to tell you anything else! We set my husband up for a major laugh! Had the best time in Johnny Rockets, the staff is great. Aruba Rented jeeps. $80.00 for the day plus $15.00 for insurance. We had a hairy start!!! Please read the roadmap the clerks give you and just what their road signs stand for. Went down one way streets and streets we were not suppose to go down. This was self-inflected because we were suppose to turn left on L.G. Smith Boulevard and turned right because the traffic was heavy and we could not get across. For the 1st 15 minutes it was crazy. Three women in the back and 2 men up front with our friends following.....need to go into details? I will share this...Dan's head spun around 3 times, eyes bugged out and horns came out!!!! Got straight, had a great laugh about it allllll weeklong. Poor Dan was the driver and my husband was co-pilot. Went to the "Butterfly Farm" $10.00 dollars for adults and $3.00 for kids. Great stop!! We enjoyed this very much. Went to the beach right across the street, Palm Beach. We then headed out to the California Lighthouse for the views. Ordered pizza at the restaurant at the California Light house can't remember the name. Headed out around the north side of the island. This was fun. When they tell you don't go in the soft white dunes.... Don't...saw a few youngsters stuck! They did however get out. The views are amazing, rocks, cactus, desert like landscape, then the breaking waves on the coastline. You'll see all these rocks stacked up; make sure you do the same. It is suppose to bring good luck. Stopped by the Alto Vista Chapel, stopped by Bushiribana and headed towards the Natural Bridge. This ride was bumpy because you are on a dirt path but worth the ride. I'm glad we had A/C in our jeep. It was hot that day around 87 degrees. Headed back to the ship. A local tour guide that we talked with at the California Lighthouse told us that the mountain in the center of the island that is shaped like a haystack is a good point of reference for keeping you bearings straight. The guys agreed that they could go back and finish going the rest of the way around the island. After the Natural Bridge you have to go way up this steep hill/mountain to get to the Natural Pool. Us girls were chicken. Took the road back to the ship to get ready for dinner. Caribbean night for dinner. Saw the "Cool Art Hot Ice" show. Good show. Lindsay, Sherri and myself crashed and burned this night. Roger, Dan, Rick and Karen went to the Corona Beach Party by the pool. They said that was great. Missed "The Love and Marriage Game Show" but we watched it the next day on the ship's TV. Curacao Had breakfast in the Windjammer. Walked across the floating boat into town. Did a little shopping. Got a taxi for $3.00 each to the beach. $3.00 each to get into the beach and $3.00 to rent a chair. Started at a beach that started with a "T" walked a little down the beach and ended up at Mambo Beach. If you walk down the beach you'll end up at the Seaquarium. Karen, Rick and the kids went to the Sea Aquarium. I think she said it cost them $40.00 for 4 of them. They really seemed to like it. They found us planted on the beach after they got done at the Sea Aquarium. Once the guys seen the eye candy at this beach they threw their anchors over and that was that! You will see some topless bathers and thongs. We laughed at the guys all day! My daughter is 13 and I had explained to her that she may see these types of things and explained that different cultures live different lives than we do. She has always traveled with us so we can expose her to different cultures and different ways of living. She really didn't act too upset about it because as parents we explained this to her on a mature level. She spent most of the time in the water and hanging out with Brian and Elizabeth. I think I needed to have this talk with the guys. We ended up with a very young, attractive lady right next to us...topless. This beach is very nice and was not crowded. There is a rock and cement formation out away that your can climb up on and view the whole beach area. Over these rocks it is very choppy. This is a good beach for families. They have shade, bars, and restaurants, live music, bathrooms and changing areas. No problem to get a taxi back to town. Went back to town. Shopped some more, bought some Curacao liquor and headed back to the ship. Dinner was smart casual or 50's - 80's attire. Went to the "Velvet Rope" show. Very good but I did think it was a little loud but we were in the front. Went to " Rockin' Thru The Decades" Roger got on the ship's video doing the Electric Slide. They played "Win a Cruise Bingo" we didn't play. It was one game only. One card was $50.00. At Sea. Dan, Lindsay and myself went to the Spa and treated ourselves. Lindsay and I had room service because our appointments were at 8:00 am. Dan had his 1st massage, Lindsay had the "Teen Facial and Capsule Massage" I had the full body massage and facial. What a life! Roger went to play basketball. Went to Windjammer for a late breakfast. Went to the St. Maarten and St. Thomas port and shopping talk. Watched the men's' belly floppy contest. Roger, Karen, Rick the kids and myself hung by the pool and watched the Owner's Cup Horse Racing while Sherri, Dan and Lindsay Learned how to joggle with the Krooze Komics on the Royal Promenade and then they went to the towel folding class to learn how to make all those towel animals that they put in your cabin every night. Tonight was formal night in the dinning room. Some of us had 2 lobster tails for dinner, I won't name names. Went to see Comedian Tom Parks and laughed all night. Saw "Duality" before he came on. How do they do that stuff? Everybody crashed this night except Sherri, Dan and myself. Went to the casino. Sherri was on a roll for a while. We went to see the Gala Buffet, which I missed on my 1st cruise so I was determined to see this one. WOW!!!!! St. Maarten Carnival Spirit was docked right next to us. When we looked out our balcony, our ship kept going and going and going. AOS was massive compared to this ship. Ate at Windjammer for breakfast and headed to town. Road the water taxi to town from the ship. $5.00 per person for all day. Ladies, ladies, and ladies this is the place to shop and shop and shop. Just make sure you bargain! If you love jewelry this is a shopper haven. Hooked up with taxi driver for $5.00 each to Orient beach. He took us to the prude side of Orient beach. This beach is long and narrow because of the time of the year. You will see topless women even on the prude side. Went in front of 7 Continents Beach Bar. For $7.00 each we got a chair, umbrella and a rum punch. Boy that rum punch was great. There are some rocks right out in front in the water. Wear beach shoes or just go around the rocks. They wait on you all day. A cheeseburger, French fries with Cole Slaw was $6.50. If you go past Pedro's you will find the clothing optional side. Travel at your own risk!!! Sherri and I did. (lol) Sometimes these naturalists will find their way to the prude side. Saw 3 of them together, 2 men and 1 woman walking together. I think they do it for the shock value. My husband was not happy about that one because our daughter was with us. I don't even think she saw them. She was eating a Cheeseburger. All types of beach bars and snack shops up and down this stretch of the beach. They also have jet skis, parasailing and a water trampoline. We gave our taxi driver the time we wanted to be picked up and he came back and got us. There are taxi drivers all around. If you do not see one just tell the bar waiters and they will get one for you. I spent some time talking with George our waiter about the island. They call St. Maarten "Devils Island." No drinking age limit, not a lot of police, if you get caught with marijuana they let you go, and nudity is accepted. If you stop by 7 Continents Beach Bar tell him you heard about the place from the group with the "Tall, white, hairy man wearing the pink neon shorts". Our taxi driver took us back to town for more shopping. Bought some Guavaberry liquor to take back home from the Guavaberry Emporium. $12.95 for a bottle. You can try samples right at the store. Took the water taxi back to the ship. Casual attire for dinner. Went and saw the "Can't Stop the Rock" show. St. Thomas Went through immigration without any problems. Arrived at 7:35 am. It took us longer to walk around the dinning room. We had I.Ds, ship card and birth certificates. They asked us were we were born and that was that. Never really had to show anything even though I had everything in my hand. Received our gangway pass and we were off to breakfast. Got Off the ship and got a taxi to American Yacht Harbor Marina in Red Hook. I had booked us on a private sail and snorkel trip on The "Winifred" with Captain Sharon Allen and her 1st mate Andrea. This is a 43' wooden sailing vessel. We never touched one thing all day. They did everything for us. We tacked across Pillsbury Sound. Andrea even let my daughter help pull in the sail when we got close to the beach. Beautiful day for a sail. Saw the ferries taking cars and passengers over the St. John. Andrea pointed out the points of interest, Tortola, and the other islands. She was very informative. Anchored off the national park in a quite cove and we snorkeled to the beach area. Saw turtles, conch and stingray by the grass beds. Snorkeled over to the rocks by the beach and saw fish, coral, urchins, Roger even got to see a barracuda. They even have a pack of wild donkeys that were roaming on the beach! I couldn't believe my ears and eyes! The water is crystal clear. The beach and scenery is so beautiful. Had lunch on the boat that Andrea had prepared. It was very good, salad, chicken, rice, bread, drinks. Great Rum Punches! We touched nothing on this boat. They did everything for us. We loved this sail. Captain Sharon and Andrea are very accommodating and personable. Captain Sharon has been sailing for 22 years. She knows her stuff and loves her boat. We felt like the rich and famous. Took a taxi back to town. Did a little shopping and Lindsay got her hair braided. Watched two vendors get into a loud verbal fight over a parking space. Took at taxi back to the ship, which we could see from town for $3.00. Took a little longer getting Lindsay's hair braided. Didn't make it back to the ship until 5:15 pm. They were missing 7 people, 5 of which were us! Karen, Rick and the kids went to Megan's Bay. They liked this beach. Quite and peaceful. They sat in front of a snack bar were the waiters brought drinks right out in the water to you while you were floating on floaties. She said they enjoyed this beach. She bought a Tanzanite ring in St. Maarten and saw it at the same store in St. Thomas when she went to have it sized for less than what she had paid in St. Maarten. Karen was upset at dinner but she spoke with the shopping director, Daniel and plus the young lady in the store in St. Thomas gave her a business card and advised her what to do. When she got back, she called and explained the problem. She is now very happy and will be keeping the ring. They took care of the problem to her satisfaction! Casual night for dinner. Our last night in the dinning room....boohoo! Handed out tips and wished everyone well and thanked them for their great service. Went to see the "Farewell Spectacular Show" starring comedian Jimmy Carroll. Great show and lots of laughs. Had to start packing. How to fit all this stuff in this suitcase? Roger, Dan, and Karen went to play bingo. Some lady won over $4000.00! Put our luggage outside the door and walked around the ship one last time. Went back to Johnny Rockets. There is one lady that really sticks out in my mind, not that the rest of the staff isn't great, but she was an exceptional people person. "V' from Jamaica is a real asset to RCCL. She is going home for 2 months at the end of this week to be with her kids. She was very excited about going home. She was soooooo much fun to be around. Everything closes up around midnight so they can tally the damage you have done over the week. Your bill will be outside your door in the slot were your room number is. San Juan We all got up and had breakfast in the dinning room. This was a sad time for us. I even cried when I said my good-byes to Karen, Rick, Brain and Elizabeth. We are just going to have to plan another cruise together! Karen, Rick, Brain and Elizabeth went back to the Condado Plaza to hang out by the pool. She had already arranged this with the hotel. They had a flight time at around 2:00-2:30 pm. Sherri, Dan, Roger, Lindsay and myself had pre-booked the tour to go to the El Yungue Rain Forest. This was the only ship's tour we did all week. Met in the Imperial Lounge, found our luggage, cleared customs. Outside is very busy. Thank goodness our porter knew which truck our luggage went on and what line we were to stand in for this tour. We enjoyed the Rain Forest. Our guide was very good. The views are beautiful! Stopped for snacks and some last minute shopping and off to the airport. Our guide dropped us off right to our luggage. Checked in. I could not find Roger's I.D. Oh no, well just have to stay in PR!!! Found it, no extended vacation! Lots of security guards all over the place. Ate lunch, called home and played cards until flight time. Won't you know it; we sat right in front of a group with 5 small kids. One of which was not a happy camper all the way home. Thank goodness for headsets. Ate dinner and watched the in-flight movie. Roger halfway sleep. Sherri and Dan were a couple of rows behind us. Back at BWI and the real world. It's cold and I want to go back!!!!! This was an excellent vacation. This ship is beautiful and huge. Never felt like it was crowded. You can always find spots on the ship to be alone if you wanted to. We loved this ship and all the ports of call. Beautiful sights and friendly people. We have all agreed we would do this same vacation all over again in a heartbeat! I think Royal Caribbean does a great job. I know our family is completely satisfied with this cruise line. Right now RCI is 2 for 2 with us. I have read about people encountering rude Puerto Ricans on this ship. All I can say is this....if there was anybody rude on this ship whether they were Puerto Ricans or French or Germans or whatever...they were not on the same side of the ship as we were. Our group could strike up a conversation with anybody and we did. None of us had any bad experiences except, Dan with that towel monkey attack in the middle of the night!(LOL) We laughed so hard this week! Nothing but great times, great laughs and everlasting memories. We were very happy with everything from the food, to the service, to our rooms, to the ship, to the ports of calls. The only complaint is this; The week went by too fast! Just not enough hours to get to experience every single thing both on the ship and in the ports of call. We were very upset to hear about the Challenger tragedy. We didn't find out about it until Saturday morning. The El Morro in San Juan was flying the American flag at half mask. We didn't find out that we went to code "Orange" until Saturday when we saw a Navy ship anchored in the harbor. That did make us a little nervous. I wanted to share my cruise vacation with everyone because reading other cruisers reviews and comments has been a great help to me in all my planning. There is still a lot of bits and pieces about this vacation I have not included only because the length of this view. Please feel free to email me if you have any additional questions. I will answer them very honestly and openly the best to my ability. I saved all my compasses and maps on the different ports so even if I didn't do something or see something I may have some information on it. Enjoy your cruise!!!! dsa@shore.intercom.net May 2003 Read Less
Before I start, I want to make it clear that my review is from a former "virgin cruiser". I have not read any other reviews from the December 2nd trip before writing my review because I wanted it to be untainted by the ... Read More
Before I start, I want to make it clear that my review is from a former "virgin cruiser". I have not read any other reviews from the December 2nd trip before writing my review because I wanted it to be untainted by the views of others. Keep in mind that I have nothing to which I can compare this cruise. We like to take nice vacations, but are used to doing everything ourselves. We've traveled Europe, been to Hawaii a few times, do a lot of camping, etc. But this was our very first cruise, and I'm sure that it will be the first of many to come. Having said all that, let's get to the review. There is so much I would like to say that I'm not sure where to start. So, I guess I'll just start from the beginning. My wife and I flew in to San Juan by route of Chicago O'Hare airport on Sunday, the day of departure. We had booked transport to the airport with Royal Caribbean. They were very helpful and the transfer went smoothly. It was nice to have the driver give us some information about Puerto Rico during the ride to the ship. He was quite funny. They will load your luggage into a van, and you won't see it until you board the ship. Hopefully, you will have a better experience with it than what we had-but I'll get to that later. Upon arrival at the ship, you will be awestruck by the size and beauty of this vessel. It's enormous, and is docked right across from the Carnival Destiny. I understand that the Destiny is Carnival's largest ship, but is visibly smaller than the AOS. Embarking the ship was quick and painless. I think we arrived between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, and didn't wait in line for over 10 minutes. I was quite impressed, as I heard that sometimes it is a lengthy process. The Stateroom The first thing we noticed when boarding the ship was the smell. It smelled like a new RV. There will be people at the door telling you where your room is located. My wife and I booked an inside stateroom on the 9th floor and had it guaranteed. Much to our surprise, they assigned us a room on the sixth floor. At first, it appeared that they had downgraded our cabin. But, upon entering our room, we found that we were assigned an outside stateroom with a large port-hole window. It was one of very few on the ship and is a $350.00 per person upgrade. We were elated! Thank you Royal Caribbean! We, of course were expecting the room to be quite small. But, the size wasn't all that bad. We never felt cramped. There is a seating area as well with a little table. There's plenty of room in the closet and drawers. The bathroom was a little small, but served its purpose just fine. Within minutes of arriving at our room, our room attended showed up. Her name was Maria. She was from Hungary. You would be very lucky if you had her as a room attendant as she was very friendly and went out of her way to give us an overview of what a first-time cruiser can expect. She showed us the TV features, gave us her phone number, and just went out of her way to make us as comfortable as possible. I know that I'm new to all this, but my wife and I can not understand how a cabin attendant could have been more attentive to our needs throughout the entire week. Many of these workers on the AOS have previous experience on either the Voyager or the Explorer. One of my concerns was that they would be so new to the ship that they wouldn't be used to the way things are done on the AOS. I found that that really wasn't the case. We really only had one significant problem as alluded to above. We understood from others who have posted their reviews that the luggage sometimes wasn't delivered until the evening. Therefore, the evening meal attire was casual. However, when it was 9:00 in the evening, and we hadn't yet received our luggage, we became a little concerned. We called up the customer service desk, and they told us that since the ship leaves at 10:00 in the evening that baggage often does not get delivered right away. The reason is that people can arrive late, and that causes some disarray in getting luggage to the rooms in a timely manner. We felt that since we arrived mid afternoon, that the luggage should have been delivered. We informed the desk that we had received an upgrade, and that our luggage could have been delivered to the other room. They said that they would have someone check the room. In addition, we also checked outside the room. No bags. About 11:00 in the evening, we became very concerned that maybe our bags were lost. So, we went down to the desk, expressed our concerns, and they gave us free t-shirts, and travel bags with deodorant, shaving supplies, etc. They said that sometimes the bags get misplaced and aren't delivered until the early morning. We again asked them to check our original room. A little later, we get a call that someone was going up to check the room that we were originally assigned before being upgraded. We didn't hear back from him. So, we went to bed expecting our bags to be delivered sometime that night. At about 8:00 in the morning we get up, and guess what...still no more luggage. So, I promptly called the desk and once again explained the situation and my concerns. They told me again that they would have someone check the originally assigned room. They called back in a few minutes and said they found them. This was the only major problem we had. It was a temporary problem that didn't leave a good first impression. However, it all got better. The Ship I don't want to go into detail on this because that's what it is all about-detail. It's the small things such as the carpet in the elevators and the aroma of the Schooner bar that really add up to make the experience something really special. Yes, the ship is unlike any other (except the Voyager and the Explorer). It is enormous. Yes, it has an ice-skating facility, a rock climbing wall, putt-putt, basketball/volleyball court, inline skating, etc. Yes the ship cost 678 million dollars to build. I knew about all that stuff when I booked the cruise. Chances are you knew that too. But to me it is the effort they put into the fine details are what really struck me. Again, I won't go into detail, as I want you to be as impressed as I was. Just keep you eyes open to it, and you'll appreciate it too. Dinners Dinner that first night was casual. Our waiter, Osman was from Turkey, and was quite funny. He did a very nice job. Our assistant waiter was Engin. I believe he also was from Turkey. He was quiet most of the time, but he did a very good job. Soft drinks are free in the dining room, but they don't come out and tell you that. Feel free to order it-they won't charge you for it. I thought the meals were excellent. I'm not the type of person that is used to spending money on fine dining, so this was an absolute treat for me. Okay, so maybe it was wasn't "fine dining", but seemed like it to me. It is certainly much better than what I'm used to eating. Beware of the tea. It's very strong. The dining room was beautiful. The piano / orchestra was very nice, though I couldn't help but get a little concerned when they started playing the theme song from Titanic. I heard that the chandelier cost them about half a million dollars. The two nights at sea were the formal nights. Saturday night was a patriotic night. One night was a Caribbean colors night. I think there was another them, but I don't remember what it was. There are three levels to the dining facility. They are called Mozart, Strauss, and Vivaldi. Mozart is on the third level. Vivaldi is on the first level. As far as the midnight buffets, there was only one. It was the gala buffet, and it is a must see. I don't want to go into detail, but please, don't miss the viewing at 11:30. We didn't actually wait to eat any of it, but bring your camera to the viewing. You'll be surprised. There weren't any other midnight buffets. If you're actually hungry then, you have three options. You can either get food from the promenade cafe (sandwiches, pizza, cookies, pie, etc), Johnny Rockets, or room service. I never did the Portofino thing, but heard it was excellent. I enjoyed the dining hall so much that I couldn't see doing it. Johnny Rockets was fun, but we have one here in Indianapolis, so it was no big deal to me. The Windjammer and Island Grill are virtually identical. Windjammer has views to each side, and the Island grill faces the aft of the ship. The views are incredible. The food was very good, I thought. Our head waiter told us that much of the food is exactly what is served in the main dining room. The exceptions are the really good entrees such as the lobster. The Promenade cafe was decent. Nothing special. Entertainment I didn't see all of the shows. We went to the ventriloquist show, the ice show, the Beatle's show, and the Velvet Rope (song and dance)show. I enjoyed every one of them. However, the ventriloquist show, in my opinion, wasn't up to my expectations. I happen to love ventriloquist shows, so I think my expectations were quite high. However, he was supposed to be really great. I guess someone who isn't used to seeing really good ventriloquist shows would think he was really good. However, I understand that it was his last performance on the ship and now has an ongoing gig in Vegas. I'm not sure who is replacing him. The ice show was absolutely incredible. They do things that you wouldn't expect in an ice show. That's all I'm going to say about that. If you want to know more, just be sure not to miss it. Be sure to get your tickets early as they do go quickly. The Beatles show was also very good. It's a group called Rain. In my opinion they aren't as good as 1964, which is another Beatles group. They did the typical cruise thing and add some flash to the show with some wacky costumes and comedy. I think that detracted a little from the show if you're a die-hard Beatles fan. It took away from the look of authenticity. But, they still are worth seeing. Velvet Rope, in my opinion was quite a surprise. I'm not much of a song and dance person, but I really enjoyed it. It was a very artistic show. The poolside performers were good. I especially liked the Caribbean band. Sorry, I don't remember the group's name. Maybe one of the other reviews will have the names. Also, if you get a chance to listen to the piano player in the Schooner bar, do so. She's a lot of fun and really knows how to work the crowd. There are a lot of other entertainers on the ship. I'm not much of a bar person, but we did go to a few. The Viking has the best view. The Schooner, in my opinion was a great nautical theme, and as I mentioned before, a certain aroma. The Jester's bar was really neat with a medieval theme. It's also a disco. I noticed some of the crew would frequent it. Pools The pools were nice. There were a lot of chairs, but they did get filled up around the pools quite quickly. However, there are plenty on the surrounding decks. The hot tubs in the main pool area are only lukewarm. The hottubs in the Solarium were much warmer. I didn't notice any kids in the Solarium. The belly flop contest was funny, as were the horse races. One note: the pools are supposed to be open until midnight. However, they sometimes drain them before midnight for cleaning. Usually, they only drain one at a time, but there was one time when my wife and I were enjoying a late evening dip in the Solarium hot tub. The other one was closed for cleaning. We were just talking, and before we knew it, both of us were on the floor of the hot tub with water half way up to our chests. The tub had been draining, and we hadn't realized it until then. We wish that if the pools are to be open until 10:00 pm as they say, that they wouldn't drain any of them before they close them. Cruise Director I thought Ken Rush did a great job. He's very quick on his feet. Captain You just have to love Captain Remo. He's from Norway, and begins every announcement with "Good Morning Ladies and Yentlemen". He pronounces the ship "Adwenture of the Seas". Ports of Call Aruba I knew that Aruba would be more like a desert than the other ports. But I wasn't expecting it to be that arid. We didn't think it was a very pretty island. We rented a Jeep and explored on our own. The streets are pretty good, though not very well marked at all. If you find yourself lost, just look for the cruise ship, and you'll be able to find your way back. Be sure you understand the street signs before you start driving. They are very different than ours. You can see it from as far as the lighthouse. I highly recommend renting a Jeep. Go to the lighthouse (about a 20 minute drive). Then, take the dirt path across the north side of the island. It's a rough ride, but fun. Stop and see the natural bridge, the church, and the gold mine building. It's a neat ride. You'll be able to do that in the morning. We went to Baby Beach in the afternoon. It's a nice little beach. It's very calm, and has good snorkeling. In my opinion, it's not that special of a beach, even though it's supposed to be one of the best on Aruba. I'd probably go back for the snorkeling alone, though. Aruba has spent a lot of effort in building up their island, and unfortunately, I think they lost their charm. There are a lot of mainstream stores and fast-food restaurants. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the island, but still had a great time. We didn't do any shopping in Aruba. Curacao My wife and I loved Curacao. It was what Aruba wasn't. The Dutch charm was very evident in the buildings. Shopping was good, and close to the ship. You should be able to get a very good picture of the AOS from this port. We rented a taxi and went to the Sea Aquarium. We enjoyed it, but thought it was overpriced. It was much smaller than I expected. We did not do the feeding the sharks thing, though one of our tablemates did. He really enjoyed it. The Sea Aquarium beach is right next door, and nice. It can get crowded, though. There is a ridge of rocks around the beach. Inside the rocks, the water is very blue, but has practically no visibility if your snorkeling. However, if you go over to the other side of the rocks, it's really a nice view. There are a lot of fish on the other side, too. It was a decent beach. Nothing too special about it. St. Martin We liked St. Martin even better. Though it didn't quite have the same charm, it was a prettier island. I wouldn't recommend renting a car on it as the roads are very narrow and windy. We took a taxi to Orient Beach. That was quite the experience. We got there early, and walked the beach. No matter what people tell you, there is nudity on both sides. Most of it is on the right-hand side (south side) You'll see a sign that designates it as a clothing optional part of the beach. If that stuff offends you, I wouldn't go there. I heard that the snorkeling was good on that side, so we did go into it. They were wrong. I might have seen only 3 or 4 fish. The waves and wind were quite rough. It is a nice beach, however, with a lot of shops and restaurants. The left hand side, does have nudity, but much more limited. I recommend that side of the island as there are a lot of shops and water sports. Shopping was good on St. Martin. I guess the only unpleasant thing was the constant soliciting for hair braiding. I don't recommend it as I have heard that people come home with lice in their hair. Buyer beware. St. Thomas/St. John It just kept getting better and better. We virtually did nothing on St. Thomas. It's not that we didn't want to, but we definitely wanted to do St. John. We took a taxi ride to Red Hook, and then took a ferry to St. John. From there, we took a taxi to Trunk Bay. As my wife would attest, it has to be the most beautiful place we've ever been. The snorkeling was very good, as well. The sand was like powder. You feet would sink in it like snow. If you like the beach and/or snorkeling thing, this is a great thing to do. We stayed there until about 12:30, then took a taxi back to the ferry. We got back in plenty of time to do some shopping in St. Thomas. This was our favorite port, and I wish we could have spent so much more time one both islands. Puerto Rico We stayed the night in Puerto Rico and the Wyndham Old San Juan. It is not within walking distance of the ship. But it is adjacent to the shopping area and El Morro fortress. Being a Sunday, it wasn't very crowded. Some of the restaurants were closed, but we ate at the birthplace of the Pina Colada (so they say anyway). It was a beautiful place to eat, and I highly recommend the Steak Foralezza. You can also buy Bacardi at this place. I don't remember the store name, but it's on Fortalezza Street, on the port side. Well, that about sums up my "virgin" cruiser review. There is so much more to say, but my fingers are getting really tired of typing. I hope this review has been useful to you as many of the other posts [on the message boards] have helped me. Bon Voyage, tomgerber@flavorburst.comFebruary 2002 Read Less
"Lessons Learned" by Paul N. Brown I would like to start this review with a little personal information so others can understand my perspective. Seems like we read endless reviews pre-booking that were written by ... Read More
"Lessons Learned" by Paul N. Brown I would like to start this review with a little personal information so others can understand my perspective. Seems like we read endless reviews pre-booking that were written by disgruntled retirees and the like. Here we go: I am 24 years old and my new bride is 21. We are both Caucasian Texans who are active individuals who enjoy adventurous activities. This was our first cruise and chose the Adventure of the Seas for our honeymoon. We actually got married on the 22nd of Dec, but decided to hold off on the cruise until after the New Year for cost reasons (about 38% less). I will try to dispel any rumors of the ship and recant our lessons learn for the ports of call. Airfare/Lodging Decided to book our own airfare b/c the ones through RCL were about $150 per ticket. Booking your own airfare means the onus is on you to catch the ship, so we decided to go down two days early. Our airfare was expensive and had a very circuitous routing - but it was the only way we could afford the trip. I think we paid $460/person for airfare from San Antonio, TX to San Juan. That's a big part of the Southern Caribbean cruise cost - just getting to the port. Neither of us had ever been to Puerto Rico before so we didn't have a clue where to stay. We ended up having William Shatner do the selection for us - via Priceline.com. I think Priceline is an excellent way to be adventurous and save some cash in the process. We simply stated that we wanted to stay in the city of San Juan, input what rating hotel we wanted (we chose 4-star for the honeymoon), and whallah! They choose the place for you! We ended up getting the Intercontinental Hotel for $139/night. It was very nice with a large flora garden, multiple pools, nice beaches, guards everywhere, and free chairs. I have never seen so much security at any hotel before. We drank too much the first night so we wasted one half-day recovering. Tried to go to the Bacardi factory but they were closed for Tres Reyes Day. Must see next time. Walked around Old San Juan and enjoyed the history. The shopping is EXPENSIVE with lots of American stores. The fort in San Juan is a must see. It's exactly how I envisioned pirates as a child. The next day we got a rental car for $40 and took off. The autopistas (highways) are nice with multiple 35 cent tolls out of San Juan. We drove half way around the island in two hours. El Yunque (the rain forest) is beautiful and you can drive all the way up in a car. A must see. That was the last thing we did before going back to get on the ship. Lessons learned for Puerto Rico Two days is a drop in the bucket! Heck, we'd need two weeks to do everything we wanted to. Taxis are pricey so if you're going to see the place then definitely rent a car. Next time we're going to rent another car in San Juan and start driving. We're going to use Priceline.com and get rooms all over the island and then drive around the whole thing - staying at a different place each night. We brought our own snorkeling equipment so we were set - however we never even made it to the Caribbean side of island. We can't wait to go back and explore. The Ship Getting on the ship was easy and VERY quick. Probably b/c we got there at 8:00 for a 10:00 pm sailing. We were in a cat DA balcony room which wasn't cheap but was worth it for the honeymoon. The balcony is private which is cool b/c you can be totally naked outside without anyone but the dolphins seeing you. The ship is brand new - made in Nov 01 and is beautiful! It was soooooo much more extravagant than I ever imagined. In fact, it was so beautiful, that I was really pissed off to see folks leaving empty glasses and trash lying around. The cruise staff do their absolute best, but it's the average Joe who didn't learn respect for property as a child who screws it up for the rest of us. I digress..... The food was outstanding. Windjammer was great for casual dining and most any time. Johnny Rockets was good with a great atmosphere. The main dining was OUTSTANDING and our service was EXCEPTIONAL. You can get anything you want! I got two entrees each night while my wife got two desserts - don't be afraid to ask. We dressed as listed b/c RCL for the different nights - no probs. I would definitely recommend getting room service for breakfast. We did it every morning but one. It doesn't cost anything to get it e/x that you can tip the waiter - that's the only thing that was done in cash the entire trip. We gave him $2 per morning and I dearly miss eating breakfast out on the balcony. The shows were AMAZING. Go to all of there. You're shorting yourself if you don't. Lesson Learned There is a full day of activities the first day you can get on the ship. Go on mid-day, get acquainted with the ship, and enjoy the bon-voyage dinner. Aruba The most friendly island we visited - hands down. The people were incredible. Aruba is a DESERT - it looks just like Arizona surrounded by water. No shade but wonderful people. Like I said we wanted to do our own thing so we packed the snorkeling gear and rented a moped right outside the ship. $50 for the super-rama-rama-delux one full day. That sucker would do 63 mph as we hauled off into the great unknown. Drove across the island to Baby Beach which is very remote with only two stands selling food and drinks from coolers. If you take a cab out there you must pre-arrange a pick-up - like I said it's very remote. One shower which costs $1 per person to use. There is a shallow lagoon which has a narrow strait that opens up to the Caribbean. Outside that strait was the best snorkeling we did the entire trip. The visibility was twice as good as anywhere else we visited with no-kidding 80 foot visibility in the open ocean. I couldn't believe it. Lot's of corral and fish. Drove from there to the Land Bridge and the Gold Fortress via the dirt roads on the east side of the island - both very cool but lots of tourists running around. Went to Carlos and Charlies for a while that night. The party was great, but the beers were expensive and the place was crowded. Decided to street walk instead. Lessons Learned in Aruba I would definitely rent a jeep next time. There were LOTS of Suzuki Samurai's all over the place and they weren't much more than $50/day. Made the dirt roads much easier to travel and much more comfortable. However, if you're going to stay around town and not planning on leaving the pavement - get a moped! They're great fun and we only used $3 in gas to cover the entire island. We also got sun burned like you wouldn't believe. I'm not kidding - the tropical sun is much worse than in the US b/c you are closer and there is less atmosphere for the rays to traverse. Wear lots and re-apply often or suffer the consequences like we did! Next, stop at the tourist info shop when de-barking the ship. They have maps which were unavailable anywhere else b/c the island is just too small for the locals to need any. And definitely read the back of the tourist packet for the international street signs - they don't resemble anything in the US! Lastly, if you want to get away, travel to the SE corner of the island. The developed portion is on the NW side, and that's where most of the cruise folks go. I think they miss out on the snorkeling at Baby Beach and some of the beauty in desolation - you can see both in one day b/c Aruba is so small! Live it up. Curacao Did the only RCL booked excursion of the trip - the Animal Encounter Excursion at the Seaquarium. Booked this based on some reviews from other Cruise Critic folks. All I can say is WOW! I have experience with SCUBA before but wanted to get my wife's feet wet (pun intended). No certification necessary, just suit up, hop in, and frolic for 45 mins underwater. Fed everything from small fish to stingrays to sharks to sea turtles. The sharks and turtles are separated by plexiglass but you can hardly tell! I will never forget this excursion. Bring an underwater camera!!!!!!!!!!! Spent the rest of the afternoon perusing the shops. Very Dutch island. Lessons Learned Do the Animal Encounter Excursion! St. Maarten Rented a car right off the ship for $40. Drove around the island once to check out both the French and Dutch sides. They are very different indeed. Visited the Guavaberry Emporium and bought a bottle. Took a stroll down the main drag and it was very nice. Too many shops to take in at once. WE then left the city and decided to snorkel near the Dutch airport but the tides were strong so we decided to move along. Drove back across the island (25 min drive) to hit Orient Bay. The beach seemed to never end. Not as many topless chicks as I expected but it was a nice change of pace from the US. The nudist resort is on the East side of the bay - and is worth taking a peek at for comedic value alone. The snorkeling was average there with no coral and mostly grass beds. Orient Bay is more of a beach for hanging out, topless bathing, parasailing and the like - but not oriented for snorkeling/scuba. There is lots of real estate development going on in the Orient Bay area - looks like it will be a major French vacation spot in the near future. Lessons Learned Buy more Guavaberry Coladas. They're great and sure put you in that island state of mind in a hurry. Remember that if you decide to go al-natural at Orient Bay, the "un-tanned" portions of your body need more sunscreen than those which are regularly exposed to the sun. If you're looking for cheap booze - the cheapest I saw the entire trip was at the duty-free shop right at the ship. St. Thomas Thought this was the best shopping of the tour. The prices are the same in town as they are right off the ship so you can hit all the stores on foot. We bought my wife a nice stainless-steel Citizen watch for $48. The island is real small so the rent cars go quickly and are expensive! Approx. $90 per day. Based on local advice, we took a cab to Sapphire Beach for snorkeling. $14 for two folks. This was one of the highlights of the trip! The beach was small, very quaint, $3 chairs, crystal clear water, lot's of corral, fish everywhere, and just wonderful. Lots of locals go there. We snorkeled for hours along the shores and had a blast. Got out and ate at a local food stand for $3 person. Everything you want was there: bathrooms, changing room, water hose to rinse off, food, drinks, etc. It's not like a five-star resort at all - it's a simple, relaxing, beautiful hangout without the entire cruise ship on the beach. I miss it already.... Lessons Learned We did exactly the right things for us. Back to San Juan - very sad day. Disembarkation DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. I cannot stress this enough. It seemed that the folks who had been relatively nice to each other all week turned back into selfish jerks as soon as it was time to leave the ship. Very sad way to end a wonderful week. The cruise line did everything they could and the process is very efficient - but the paying cruisers in a rush can make it unpleasant. The same thing applies at the airport - take your time - remember you're on vacation! Lessons Learned From now on I want to be one of the last ones off the ship. I will plan to either take a late flight or stay another day to avoid the rudeness and pushing that occurred at disembarkation. We always carried our own bags both off and on the ship to eliminate mishaps with lost luggage - and what do you know - it worked! Overall Of course there were some negatives, but almost none of them had anything to do with RCL. There were very few kids running amuck b/c of the cruise date. The majority of them were doing the Adventure Ocean deal and well taken care of. However, I will say that the majority of negative experiences (pushing, being loud and verbose, not staying on right sides the hallway, etc.) were definitely not kids and they definitely weren't from the Continental United States. Take that for what you will, but there was a very definitive line of respect and politeness between half of the ship. All right, now that the petty things are out there, the experience was amazing. The ship is gorgeous. The food was unbelievable in the main dining room. The food was good everywhere else. The cruise director, Ken Rush, was outstanding and really set the tone for the entire week. The entertainment was world-class. The RCL shows, comedians, and El Goucho were Broadway/Vegas quality. The facilities were well thought out. The intra-net thru the TV was very classy. And most of all, my wife said it was everything she ever dreamed for a honeymoon. And that, more than anything else, means the world to me. We will return to RCL in the future and would recommend this cruise to anyone. Please contact me if you want any more information. pnb987pb@yahoo.com February 2002 Read Less
I'm going to try and just give you some info that I think could be helpful. Did you know the airlines only allow for two suitcases per person plus one carry-on per person? One of our "carry-ons" was oversized (larger than 9 ... Read More
I'm going to try and just give you some info that I think could be helpful. Did you know the airlines only allow for two suitcases per person plus one carry-on per person? One of our "carry-ons" was oversized (larger than 9 x 14 x 22) and we were fortunate that they didn't charge us extra. Oh yes, and make sure your suitcases weigh less than 70 pounds! There is an extra charge for being overweight. We left on the RCI Adventure of the Seas October 20. Got to the pier at about 1:30. Check-in took a total of about 35 minutes from the time that we sat in the "chairs". No big deal. The Bacardi tasting booths are there and you can go get a few shots while you wait. My cousin made the mistake of purchasing several bottles of alcohol at the shop on the pier. Any alcohol you take on board must be in your suitcases or they will take it from you and give it back on the last night. The first couple of days they serve drinks in nice souvenir glasses. Purchase those if you want to start a collection. Luggage was at our room by 6:00 pm. We had an inside cabin... seems to be worth the money saved. Just use the wake-up call service so you don't oversleep! The boat is huge and I don't think anybody could get seasick. We stopped taking Dramamine on the first day. The meals were excellent except for the night they served "Jerk chicken" (yuk! Get the steak). Ate in the Vivaldi Dining Room every night (2nd seating). Aruba- don't rent a car unless you can deal with getting lost and poor street signs. We wasted the whole day driving in a jeep around the backside (rough side) of the island (from California lighthouse to the natural bridge) before we gave up and headed back to the ship. Don't do that! Wish we would have just took a taxi and snorkeled at the beach! A taxi might be inconvenient but it will actually save you time! We wanted to go to Baby Beach but we never made it. Next time! Curacao- (pronounced Kur-A-Sou) was better. Still, we rented a car and couldn't find where we wanted to go (Jan Theil Beach). Ended up staying on the Seaquarium Beach (Kon Tiki Beach) and snorkeled. The snorkeling is best out by the rocks. If you're a good swimmer you can go farther out (past the rocks) where the water is fantastically blue! Do not step on any round, black things with spines- they hurt- ouch! Make sure you wear something on your feet. They are under water out by the rocks and are attached to the rocks. We brought our own snorkeling gear. If you have never snorkeled before, make sure you practice first. There is a learning curve that may take some time. St. Maarten- Got a taxi which took us exactly to where we wanted to go (Orient Beach). The driver told us there were two sides to this beach- The nude and clothed. Well, a few people didn't get the memo which was fine with me! :-) What warm water! I stayed in that water for hours. Not good for snorkeling though- a little rough and no fish. After the beach we went shopping downtown. The cab fare was $5 (per person) to the beach. $5 from the beach to downtown (Guavaberry Emporium!), and $3 back to the ship. Bought my wife a pretty rainbow topaz gold ring. Shopping is fun here. St. Thomas- The immigration check before you get off the boat is a hassle. The line goes the entire length (and back!) of the Promenade and around the Imperial lounge. Even at that we stood in line for about 40 minutes then we went and had breakfast. I'd suggest either getting in line very early or at about the time they start threatening you :-) A cab took us directly downtown ($5). Bought a diamond ring for my wife at Cardows. Wow, it was more expensive than the whole cost of the cruise (including airfare from California) but it is worth it. They will bargain with you, don't be afraid to ask. Also bought her some perfume. Good prices. No time left for anything else! Didn't dance much on the ship like my wife wanted. The smoking in Jesters was awful! I can't believe that it was even allowed in there. Didn't like the music either. I thought there would be more places to dance but we only found a couple inside the ship and we didn't care for them. Outside was a lot of dancing by the pool. Maybe I don't like to dance after all? Just not my kind of nightclub style I guess. The ship is beautiful! Details, details, details!!! You will love this boat. Ate a few times at Johnny Rockets. The food is good. My cousin kept wanting to hear the YMCA song for some reason. The servers there were all very nice. Everybody that worked on this ship I believe is sincerely nice. Our waiter Harish, our assistant waiter Karla, the head waiter Juan, the dining room drink attendant Fernando were all wonderful. The Ice skating show and The Velvet Rope were good shows. Would love to do this again! The duty paid upon re-entry to San Juan was only $29.00. I claimed everything. No big deal. The taxi ride back to the airport I believe is $8.00 per person. We had a voucher for the bus. Don't forget to tip each person that handles your luggage (at least $1.00/bag). They know what you need and will get you there much faster. Take this one and have a great cruise! keven@california.com February 2003 Read Less
What a great trip and a great cruise! Here are some thoughts that may help everyone. This was our eighth cruise but I will try to write this for both first time and experienced cruisers. GOOD What an awesome, beautiful ship. Very ... Read More
What a great trip and a great cruise! Here are some thoughts that may help everyone. This was our eighth cruise but I will try to write this for both first time and experienced cruisers. GOOD What an awesome, beautiful ship. Very easy to learn your way around and the signage is excellent. (you do need to know that forward is the front of the ship, aft is to the back, starboard is right and port is left). This ship might honestly be too big for some, but it wasn't to us. We rarely felt crowded (exceptions were around the pool on the st sea day and in the immigration line). Service in the dining room. We had great service from our waiter, Mustapha, and our assistant waiter, Oana. We spoke to many other people and all were universally happy with the service in the dining room. We also got excellent service in the show lounges. Food. Very good to excellent with only a very few misses. Portofinos. (see below). Room Steward. Great! Our room was cleaned twice a day and we always had fresh ice. We got everything we asked for and got it quickly.Entertainment. I will discuss the individual shows below but RCCL usually does an above average job on entertainment, and this cruise was not different. I must mention "HOT ART - COOL ICE", you must see this show!!Children's Program (Adventure Ocean). We did not bring our children but many people we talked about raved about how good it was. Only negative comment was from the parent of a 15 year old who did not want to participate. BADService around the pools and room service. I was at the pool for 3 hours Saturday and not one waiter asked if I needed anything. Had to keep going back and forth to the bar. Room service could never seem to get our order right. There always seemed to be something missing. Also, service in the bars was spotty, sometimes good, sometime bad, and sometimes non-existent. FAVORITE PLACES ON THE SHIP I know everyone's taste is different, but here are the spots on the Adventure we really enjoyed.Deck 4 - Both inside and outside. Inside, the casino. Outside, the promenade all the way around the ship. You can go all the way to the bow (the "King of the World" spot) and all around the ship. One unique feature of this promenade is you are actually outside the ship by the dining rooms. It's hard to explain but the deck juts out so you can lokk forward, back or up and it feels like you are suspended outside the ship.The Pool - enough said!Blue Moon (Viking Crown Luonge - Deck 14) - every veteran of RCCL knows these spots. Great for a drink at sunset before dinner.Royal Promenade (Deck 5) - Very unique. We especially liked the Duck & Dog Pub and the Cafe Promenade (24 hour cookies and sandwiches).Our Own Balcony!!! (Cabin 7256) - Best of all. Our first balcony and I think we are spoiled now. I think I may need one of these for every cruise. SUNDAY We actually got to San Juan on Saturday and spent the night at the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel. This hotel is across the street from the cruise ship terminal RCCL used to use (and Carnival Destiny still does) but it is not across the street from where the AOS docks. It is across the channel and is a cab ride ($12 and 5 minutes) away. We got to the pier at 11:45 and the porters took our luggage right away. They open the doors at 12:00 and then you are led into a waiting area with the now famous rows of white chairs. People are called row by row to proceed to the next area where the agents will check your documents and issue your cruise card. This card is your room key, charge card and pass to get on and off the ship. DO NOT LOSE IT! If you have a lanyard, just ask and the agent will punch a hole in the card for you. Everything went smoothly and we were an the ship by 12:45. I heard some complaints about this procedure but do no share them. Yes, the air conditioning should have worked better in the embarkation waiting area (I suggest being sure you are wearing something cool when you arrive at the pier) but considering that they have to board 3500 people, most of whom show up between 12 and 5 (about 700 per hour) they do a very good job. The Krooze Komics are in the embarkation area to entertain. If you just go in with a little bit of patience and the right attitude, the procedure should be relatively painless. Spent the day exploring the ship, unpacking and relaxing. We had the second seating, which is normally 8:30 but on Sunday only was at 9:00. We generally prefer second seating because unless you are by nature an early riser who just can't stay up past 10:00, it seems to work out with the cruise ship schedule so much better. It is nearly impossible to spend a day outside or on the island du jour and get back in time to clean up for a 6:00 dinner, which is the main seating. Since the ship almost always leaves port at 6:00 you miss every sailing, sunset and sail away party! Too much of a sacrifice to us! We did see a lot of people in the Windjammer Restaurant (the always casual buffet line choice) every night between 7:00 - 7:30 and this may have been the early seating people who couldn't quite make it. The food served in the Windjammer is nearly the same as in the dining room with a few exceptions but your miss the service and the little extras on the menu (like lobster!). Most people do chose the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. We had booked all our excursions on line so we did not have to do this on board. You can book excursions on line or at the Explorations! Desk on Deck 5 aft. We did make a reservation for Portofinos for Tuesday night, which is Caribbean night in the dining room. We met our cruise director, Omar, for the first time. I have seen a lot of criticism on this board about Omar but we did not share that criticism. We thought Omar was friendly and did his job. This is out 8th cruise and we have had better cruise directors that Omar but we have certainly had worse! He does nothing to detract from the experience. This seems also a good time to comment on the "Latin" flavor of the cruise that so many people seem concerned about. First of all, you must realize that you are sailing out of Puerto Rico, a place were Spanish is the native language. Naturally you will have a higher quotient of Spanish speakers on this ship than those that sail from a U.S. port, just as you would have a higher quotient of French speakers in a cruise that originates in France. The official language of the ship is English, so everything is done in English. Important announcements are also done in Spanish as well as some of the songs (maybe one or two) in the shows. It is not intrusive, and any English speaking person should feel very comfortable. The Latin people are well behaved, friendly, and on the cruise for the same reason as us, to have a great time. In my opinion, this is a non-issue. In any event, it is not a problem and English speakers will be very comfortable. MONDAY - St. Thomas We did not do an excursion this day. We had spent our honeymoon on St. Thomas and St. John 20 years ago so we arranged with the same hotel to spend the day there. We did see a wedding party on the dock at about 9:00 a.m., Preflyt, was that you? The first formal night and the Captain's cocktail party. First production show, "Velvet Rope". It was very good. Some gambling in the casino. Note to gamblers: RCCL has several rules which are not favorable to gamblers so take note. Craps is a "single odds" game and the blackjack tables us constant, automatic shufflers. If you are a gambler, you know what this means, and if not, never mind. TUESDAY - St. Maarten/St. Martin We took the Golden Eagle, a catamaran excursion to an island beach for swimming and snorkeling. The crew was friendly, the beach beautiful and the cruise enjoyable. We really had a good time. NOTE: RCCL warns you that nudity may be observed, and sure enough, it was. A whole boatload! There were children with us but after a few moments of staring, they went back to what they were doing. I think we all learned why people wear clothes! Portofinos for dinner. Excellent! In our opinion worth the $20.00 (each) cover charge). The food was great (we had the lobster and filet mignon). The atmosphere was just right. We had 6:30 reservations and were able to watch the sun set. Very romantic. If the ship is sailing south you will be able to see the sunset because Portofinos is on Deck 11 starboard. There is live music and it is a nice romantic change of pace from the dining room. After dinner we saw the "HOT ART - COOL ICE" show. As I said above, WOW!!!! Do not miss this show. It is amazing what they can do on that relatively tiny ice surface. They generate amazing speed in short time. There are 5 shows during the week and you must get tickets on Monday or Tuesday between 5:30 - 6:30. The tickets are free. Just go down to Studio B, there is ample information in the Cruise Compass, the daily newsletter to let you know what to do. WEDNESDAY - Antigua Probably the worst excursion we went on and I would not recommend it - the 4x4 Adventure. I'm more of a beach and boat person anyway so it could be personal preference. I did hear that the people that booked the Ecotour themselves has a good time. Maybe that would be a better bet if you want to go off road in Antigua. In the past we have always loved the beaches here and I think we'll stick to that next time. At night, the first guest entertainer. He was good and we enjoyed the show. THURSDAY - St. Lucia What a beautiful island! This was our first time in St. Lucia and were struck how different it seemed from many other Caribbean islands. Would definitely like to spend more time here. We took the catamaran tour to Mount Couberil Estates. A very good tour although it takes all day (we got back to the ship about 3:30). The tour takes you by catamaran to Soufriere and the you go by bus to the "drive in volcano" and a plantation before you get back on the catamaran for a stop at a beach. Be forewarned, the vendors at the volcano and especially on the beach (mainly rastfarians) are very aggressive. They were never rude but they are persistent. The volcano tour is informative and last about 20 minutes. At the plantations you learn about cocoa production and coconut production. This was informative but a little long. Ultimately I would say the tour to the Plantation was worthwhile but I don't think you'd want to be there much longer. Second production show of the week, "Can't Stop the Rock". Again an excellent show. One of the female singers is especially strong (she was very good in "Velvet Rope" as well). I'm sorry I do not remember her name, but she is well worth the time by herself. FRIDAY - Barbados We went on a scuba excursion - we are experienced certified divers. Didn't experience much of the island because we were tired and went back to the ship right afterward for a nap. I can say that the folks on the Jolly Roger sure seemed to enjoy themselves!!! They cruised right past our balcony and were having a good time! The second formal night. The second guest entertainer, a Canadian who did vocal (singing) impersonations. Probably the weakest show of the week. While he was occasionally right on he often was not. His answer to impersonating a woman seemed to be get as nasal as possible. Still, the show was entertaining but was definitely missable if you needed to miss one. Later that night (12:30 a.m.) Was a comedian doing an adult show. Very funny and very good. He was not over the line for my sensibilities. You certainly wouldn't want your children there but he was not filthy or gross. I thought it was just right for the audience. The only midnight buffet of the week was at the same time as the comedy show so you have a decision to make. Personally, I had eaten so much during the week that I figured I could miss a meal and I've never been that much into food as spectacle. SATURDAY - at sea One of the few things I didn't like about this cruise was the fact that there was only one sea day. We really like the sea days - they don't seem as rushed and are very relaxing. But if you are only going to have one, I'm glad it was the last day. Time to rest and de-stress at the end of the vacation. The pool was very crowded but I was able to find a deck chair near the pool in the early afternoon. The service was awful though (see above). SUNDAY - San Juan (boo hoo!) Everyone, including U.S. Citizens, must now go through immigration. This process begins at 6:00 and you go my your stateroom location. The ship gives you a information sheet that tells you when to go. The line is VERY long but don't panic, it only took us about 10 - 15 minutes to get through. This was the only LONG line of the week. I has heard that the line could be long to get off and on the ship in the various ports but did not experience this. The longest line we had was about 8-10 people and took 2 minutes. NOTE: there are usually 2 gangways, fore and aft, to get off and on the ship. (This is not true in St. Lucia, only one). When you approach the ship there is usually one, the farthest away, that has no line. If your cabin is that way anyway, why not walk to it on the pier, you got to walk that distance one way or the other. We had no problem with debarkation but we had an early flight so we were first called off the ship at 8:30. We were at the San Juan airport by 9:00. Can speak for later departures but it seemed pretty organized with ample porters to help with luggage and taxi's to take you where you wanted to go. Well, that's it. What a great time. We look forward to our next cruise and maybe we'll be cruising with one of you. GREAT CRUISIN"!!!!!clarkrobm@attbi.comJuly 2002 Read Less
Well guys, I'm back from AOS 2/17-2/24 sailing! What more can I say.......it was AWESOME. Like the commercial says, "It is way more than a cruise". We had never sailed on a Voyager class ship and it was incredible. It ... Read More
Well guys, I'm back from AOS 2/17-2/24 sailing! What more can I say.......it was AWESOME. Like the commercial says, "It is way more than a cruise". We had never sailed on a Voyager class ship and it was incredible. It took cruising to a new level and I don't know how I'll be able to sail on any ship that lacks all of the amenities found on the Adventure. I jotted down journal notes from each day, because there is so much to do. I knew I would forget to tell you something. I'll warn you in advance this will be very long, so just skip around to the subheadings that interest you. Here goes... PRE-CRUISE - 2/14 I'll start with the plane ride, only because we flew first class! This was my first time flying 1st class and it was terrific. We were served a 3-4 course meal. Flounder stuffed w/ shrimp and salmon over a bed of rice and veggies. It was delicious. I didn't even realize that dining was so fine on an aircraft. Each reclining chair had its own private television that mounted to the arm. It was equipped so that each person could watch one of six different movies simultaneously. The trip was off to an AWESOME start. There were no problems on the SJ airport, at least not when we entered SJ. Our luggage came within 10 minutes and we snatched a cab ($8 and roughly a ten minute drive) to the Caribe Hilton. We explored the hotel, the common areas are nice, with a definite Caribbean influence to them. The rooms were just adequate though. I've definitely stayed in nicer hotels. I've heard that the hotel was recently remodeled but I think they skipped the bedrooms. I really liked our bathroom though, double sinks, separate shower, vanity area etc. The pool was also really nice. Anyway we got settled and then walked about 2 miles into Condado for dinner. We ate at Chili's Grill & Bar which was almost directly across the street from Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino (by the way, a very nice hotel). 2/15 We ate breakfast at Las Palmeras inside of Caribe. Prices ranged from $10-$25 and it was edible, not good. We rented a car right across the street ($25-$45 per day + $12 insurance). Two tips for future travelers, if you pay by credit card there is no extra charge for insurance (Some agents won't volunteer that information) and get there early to have your choice of rentals. The hotel excursions were overpriced (just my opinion, they wanted $45pp for El Yunque). We found it to be far cheaper to do it on your own, especially if you have more than 2 people. Most of the major attractions are really easy to find and Caribe will give you very accurate directions anywhere you need to go in PR. First stop, El Yunque Rainforest (no charge for admission). We didn't get lost and the ride took nearly 45 minutes. El Yunque was very beautiful. There are several trails you can take, ranging from 10-minute hikes to 2 hour hikes. The waterfalls are nice and there are miles and miles of lush flowers trees and plants. Several lookout points offered panoramic views of San Juan. It was definitely a place worth visiting. I took a ton of pictures. Next, we tried to find the dock for the ferry that takes you to bioluminescent bay. This is where we got lost. We were coming from a different direction, so the hotel directions were hard to follow. It was a little nerve wracking. I speak a little Spanish and my mother speaks none. I tried to get directions but I learned quickly that the further you get away from San Juan, the fewer people you find who speak fluent English. We drove past Luquillo Beach it seemed very nice. It was getting late, so we decided not to stay. We wanted to eat at the Ajili Mojili restaurant, it generates rave reviews, however, it was booked for the entire weekend (make reservations early). Instead we did what any two American women would do in this situation......we went to the mall. Plazas Las Americas Mall, it was very nice. I helped improve the economy with my spending. I found some nice buys, but I guess it would depend on what you are shopping for. Most of the mall had the traditional department/anchor stores etc, however, there were some alternative stores. If you are into eclectic, contemporary arts and crafts you will enjoy some of the places here. I sure did. 2/16 We were really exhausted so we overslept. It was late morning by the time we got ready so we grabbed a quick drive-through breakfast from McDonalds (couldn't find an IHOP'S). Next we headed into downtown San Juan. We drove just to take pictures and tour the "new San Juan" area then we spent the rest of the day in "Old San Juan". We saw the massive Radiance of the Seas and I believe the Celebrity Galaxy. Boy, the Radiance is a beautiful ship. Anyway, we did some of the walking tour through Old San Juan, but we got bored. If you are a history/military-type buffs you will enjoy this. Like I said, we were bored. We went to San Cristobal, Christos, La Plazuela and a few others. After a few sites we got the general idea and were ready to shop. Fortunately for us, Old San Juan is also rich in quaint stores and boutiques. We ate dinner in a wonderful restaurant. I repeat W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L. It was near hotel El Convento. It was called El Picoteo. I had empadillas for an appetizer and garlic shrimp for the main entrEe. My mom had an exceptional salad and lamb chops (I tasted all of her meals for proof ). Afterwards, we headed back to the mall to finish the right wing (it is a very large mall). We also decided to take in a movie - A Beautiful Mind (Yes, the movies are in English, with Spanish captioning at the bottom). 2/17 Finally, the day we were waiting for arrived. We checked out of the hotel and returned the rental car. One interesting thing, gas is sold by the liter not by the gallon. At first my jaw dropped when I saw 26.5. I thought, gee I know we are in a recession but dang! I don't know what kind of conversion factor the used but ¾'s of a tank cost approximately $8-10. Anyhow, we took a cab to the Pan American pier ($10 total, roughly a ten minute drive). It is a different pier than the one used by most of the ships. Somehow I was under the impression that the new pier was across, on the other side of the island, meaning the other side of Puerto Rico. It is on the other side but not of the entire island, just the little canal area. You are able to see all of the ships in port, so it isn't much further than the other docks. Embarkation We arrived at the pier at 11:00 am. The porters were on lunch break (literally) so there was no one to help with the bags. There were maybe 8 people there at the time. We met a wonderful family from New York, they quickly became our cruise buddies that we ran into 4-5 times daily once aboard. I amazed us how, even on a ship so large, we could run into the same people again and again. By 11:30 an RCL representative emerged and began to collect our luggage. We were then led into "the room". You know that room that has rows and rows of plastic white chairs. I met my first Cruise Critic [member] there, Lois and her husband spotted us and came over for an intro. We sat for maybe 5-10 minutes and then they began the "check-in" process. It took all of ten minutes. We were the third family to board, on slightly before noon. Please - get there early. Before we even entered "the room" the lines were already down the side of the building. Save yourself the hassle. All Aboard We got on board and it was- "Wow". The ship is beautiful, incredible, innovative etc.etc. It was definitely the nicest ship either of us have ever sailed on. The thing that continued to strike me was that, it was so well thought out...down to the very last detail. We went to check out our cabin and set our things down. Once again the small details stood out to me. The carpet in the halls was very plush, I'm talking foot-sinking plush. Paintings and sculptures were everywhere. We got to our room and we were impressed. This was our first inside cabin. I thought I'd really miss the window and feel closed in, but it wasn't bad. The room was decorated in pastels and we had a little sleeper loveseat. Our cabin attendant came by and greeted us, he wasn't finished straightening our room. We set our things down and figured we'd give him some time. Besides it gave us the opportunity to indulge in the most important aspect of cruising....the eating. We headed up to the Windjammer (the only place open) and there was a yummy buffet waiting for us. I sampled a little bit of everything. There were pastas hot and cold, salads, fruits, sandwiches, chicken, fish, combination items, P-A-E-L-L-A, and of course, deserts. These were the standard types of foods offered in the Windjammer. One of my favorite cruise traditions is to go and explore the ship taking pictures. After eating, we returned to the room for more film, SURPRISE - OUR LUGGAGE was waiting for us. I'll say it again, guys- GET THERE EARLY! I've NEVER received luggage so timely before. So we were off to explore. I won't go into detail about each of the various rooms aboard and their locations (this is long enough review already). Besides, so many have already done an exceptional job with that. I will point out some of the things that stood out to me that I haven't heard mentioned before. -A good portion of the ship is non-smoking. The casino has a "non- smoking section, as do several of the lounges etc. By the time they finished listing all of the sections where smokers couldn't smoke, I began to wonder what was left for them. I was grateful though because I didn't have to fan away the smoke everywhere I went. -There is a light switch by the bed. No more getting up to turn off the overhead light. -There were reading lamps/wall sconces above each bed. This enabled you to read without disturbing your other sleeping cabin mates. -There was more than adequate storage space. I'm talking mirrors that hid storage cabinets, shelves, drawers, nightstands and even enough space under the bed to store suitcases. I can't remember who but someone asked about the number of hangers - there were 20. -There was a curtain to separate the sitting area from the twin beds. This could really come in handy for families that share the same cabin. -There was a full-length mirror. Maybe this is a woman thing, but when I get dressed I like to see my floor length image. So ladies, get ready you can see your entire outfit, from your hat to your shoes. -Finally, my favorite the bathroom. I know this will probably sound a little bourgeoisie, but I'm normally repulsed by the bathrooms on ships. As soon as I go in, I'm struck by that feeling, let me get in and out of here ASAP and I don't want to touch anything . The bathrooms on the Adventure don't give you that feeling at all. Starting with the showers! Goodbye shower curtains that stick to you and make your skin crawl, hellooooooo sliding plexi-glass doors. This was a welcome change! There was nothing spectacular about the bathroom, I guess it was just the combination of the newness and the bright dEcor that made you feel at home. Before the day was over we took in a little miniature golf, ping pong, Ms. Pac-Man, lounging in the "adults only" Solarium, the sail-away party, dancing at Jester's and I donated a whopping $5 to the nickel slots. There was a welcome aboard show, we didn't stay very long though. As soon as the guy began to juggle plates, well, that was my cue to leave. Not my kind of entertainment. We returned to the cabin to unpack. We did attend the parade though. It was wonderful. I don't think it was the parade itself that was as exciting as knowing all of this was occurring onboard a ship. Oh, I almost forgot, dinner. I won't list all of the entrees but for those of you that have the AOS menu, I will give you enough dishes so that you can figure out which days they are serving which foods. The embarkation dinner was Shrimp Ravioli and Cordon Bleu. 2/18 At Sea This is when I began to appreciate the inside cabin. I don't remember the last time I slept so deeply. There was absolutely no light to awaken you. It's easy to sleep late. I went for a jog on the track (5x = 1 mile). For people who really like an intense jog.....you will be disappointed. There were sooo many blasted people in the way. They stood still in the middle of the track, talked on the track, took a leisure stroll occupying both lanes, moved their lounge chair in the middle of the track. It was constant dodging my entire run. That is poor design on behalf of the ship's designers. The track needs to be in separate location, around the pool area just doesn't work well. I also lifted weights for a while in the Ship Shape Gym. The gym is nice it doesn't have quite all the equipment of most health clubs but it is sufficient. There were treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines. They had the basic weight machines a few for the abs, leg extension, leg press, inner and outer thighs, reverse leg curls, lat pulls etc. In addition, there was a free weights section. Anyway, once I was finished I hurried back to the room for the dreaded Muster Drill. Fortunately, we were only missing one person from our section, so the muster drill went quickly. Then it was off to the Island Grill for brunch. In the main dining rooms they were serving Caribbean Curry and Lasagna. Afterwards, I went to lay out, while my mother went shopping in the Promenade. There were a lot of lounge chair savers on board this week. I'd say probably only one in two lounge chairs were actually occupied. The other 50% had a towel/ magazine to occupy it. I circled the pool area three times....no available lounge chairs. So, I waited by a string of 5 vacant lounge chairs. After 10 minutes, I moved the towel and sat down. About an hour later the owners returned, they looked quizzically but didn't say anything. The sexy leg contest was cute. They also had horse racing and a few other games. Around 3pm I left to shower and change for the cruise critic party. Go to your cruise critic parties! I met the most wonderful people. (Hi to Rstamper, LRCruiser, luvstowrkout and Nikki and family. Periodically, we ran into each other throughout the remainder of the trip. Cruise critic buddies are so much fun! We hung out in the Aquarium Bar/Lobby Lounge for a few hours and then it was off to dinner. Today was the first formal night -The Captains Gala Dinner. Two of the main entrees were Duck and Salmon. I had selected Monday to go to Portifino's because I didn't really care for anything on the menu. I loved Portifino's and so did my Mom. Ideally I am opposed to the concept of spending extra money for food, especially when there is adequate free food available. Boy, am I glad I did I went anyway. The ambiance, service and food were top notch and it was well worth every penny. The 7-course menu is the same every night in Portifino's. I had some kind of shrimp and rice appetizer that was GREAT. I also had a huge lobster tail. Dessert was Fruit de Rossi. This was incredible! Like I said...go to Portifino's it's worth it. By the way, someone asked about the table sizes in Portifino's. There were tables for 2, 4 and 6. Space got a little tight for certain days, so make reservations early. After dinner we returned to the casino, I won $28 dollars. We also went to karaoke in the Imperial Lounge( not a large turnout), the Velvet Rope Show (nice) the Comedy Show - starring Hank McCauley (very funny), and finished the morning at Jester's (The DJ doesn't play. A note to parents- the comedians were funny-except Julie Barr, however they were not appropriate for children. It is strictly ADULT Comedy. A warning also to the sensitive cruisers, some jokes are a bit risquE. If you are easily offended, you may not enjoy the comedy shows. 2/19 Aruba We went to the Windjammer for breakfast and ate quickly. It was mother's second trip to Aruba, but my first. I wanted to enjoy every minute of it. Another word about purchasing sight seeing excursions, unless you just like the whole "tour bus" feeling, you can do it cheaper on your own. We got off and there were private tour companies clamoring for your business. The first people who got off the ship were being offered $15pp, by the time we got off it was $8pp. We toured on air-conditioned mini-tour van with about 15 other cruisers. Our tour guides' name was Winston (very nice and knowledgeable about the island. He took us to the Lighthouse Bridge, the Ayo Rock formations, Eagle and Palm Beaches. He also showed us the infamous divi divi tree. We returned to the ship at lunch to try Johnny Rockets. Okay Eddie PR this one is for you. We thought Johnny Rockets was just OK. I didn't understand what all the hype was about. The shakes were delicious, so were the onion rings, but nothing else stood out to me. I admit I'm not a beef eater, but I had a hamburger anyway just because ......well, it's Johnny Rockets. It was just OK. By all means go and judge for yourself, after all it is FREE. We went shopping at the Plaza Mall for souvenir-type stuff. A note about phone cards- they are not universally accepted. We purchased an AT&T phone card from Sam's Club before we left. After we departed Puerto Rico we were unable to use it until we returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was told by a local resident that each island has its' own phone card system. A phone card in Aruba cannot be used in Curacao and vice versa. Later that afternoon, I took a nap. Boy is cruising exhausting. Afterwards, I watched my Mom play the slots and then it was off to dinner. It was Caribbean night and boy was I glad I didn't schedule Portifino's this night. The jerk chicken was great and the conch fritters.....let's just say I had two orders. Later we watched the Love and Marriage Game Show (very funny) and went to the sail away party by the pool. 2/20 Curacao We went to the Windjammer again for breakfast. Come to think of it, I've never made breakfast in the dining room, on any cruise. Since both of the activities that I really wanted to do were on opposite ends of the island...we just toured and shopped. Again, we found a tour guide as we debarked who showed us the city for $15pp. I thought the floating bridge was really cool. Curacao was very quaint and did have a lot of charm. We returned to the ship and caught the tail end of lunch in the Windjammer. Later on we watched the sunset....it was incredible. We changed and went to dinner, shrimp scampi and four cheese ravioli. Both were delicious. I'm glad I didn't choose between the two. The risotto was also good. Later went to the hear Michael Eric Hall perform. He has a terrific voice and a sparkling sense of humor. We also went to the Rock and Roll 50's 60's and 70's. We stayed for a little while and then went to the Imperial Lounge to salsa. We ended the morning in Jester's. Make sure you make it aboard on time. One lady was left behind today I hope she was able to make it to St. Maarten, When the captain says we leave at 6 he means 6. At 6:01 we are pushing off. 2/21 Day at Sea I was glad to have another at sea day. We tried so hard to make it to as many of the activities as we could...it was tiresome. Today we slept in and ordered room service. The portions were generous and the food was served hot. Then it was off to the rock-climbing wall. I had never been rock-climbing, it was a lot of fun. I watched so many kids scramble up to the top that I felt sure I could do it easy. Nope! I made it half way and lost my balance. The winds were kind of strong so, I just kept swinging around. (Thank goodness for safety equipment) Oh well, it was great experience, better luck next time. It drizzled off and on so I went back to Ship Shape and used the stationary bike. Today we had our first lunch in the dining room. I had quiche and a blackened chicken sandwich. Next, I went online to check my e-mail. The cost is 50 cents per minute. Needless to say I got on and off very quickly. Later we went to the ice show (Cool Art, Hot Ice) In my opinion, this is the BEST show onboard. Don't miss it! It is amazing what they were able to do on such a tiny rink. At some points there were ten skaters on the rink at a time. Amazing! We also went to Can't Stop the Rock (this was better than the Velvet Rope). I was really impressed with the innovative lighting and set design. Today was the second formal night. At dinner the highlights were the peach soup, lobster tails (I ate two) and the Berry tart for dessert. We went to the comedy show starring Julie Barr. I felt kind of sorry for her. The audience was dead and nobody was laughing. It wasn't a very good show in my opinion. I even dozed a bit.:eek: 2/22 St. Maarten This still remains my favorite port for beaches. I went to Orient Beach the last time I was in St. Maarten (loved it) so I was determined to see some of the others this time. We spent most of the day visiting the several beaches. We went to Mahoe Bay, Simpson Bay, Little Bay and Great Bay. They were all really nice but I haven't found one yet that tops Orient. Afterwards, we did a little shopping. They have some nice art stores and I found some great island crafts. We also went to Guavaberry Emporium. I didn't realize they didn't have any non-alcoholic drinks. Since, I had heard so much about it, I decided to have a little taste. It was good, but boy, whatever they put in that stuff.....STRONG. It put some hairs on my chest. Shortly afterwards we returned to the ship. We missed lunch so I headed to the Promenade deck for pizza and tuna croissant. When we finished eating, I went rollerblading. It was my first time rollerblading. It was pretty cool.... great fun. It took me a little while to get the hang of it. I never did learn how to stop (thank goodness for the guard rails). We rested for a little while and watched the sunset. Then we were off again. We hit the arcade to kill a little time before dinner. Note to parents, be careful with your children in the arcade. The game room does not take coins or tokens. You swipe your cruise cards and it appears as a charge to your stateroom. You can charge amounts ONLY in $10 increments. I saw several parents fussing at their children for running up a huge tab in the arcade. One kid spent $1200 You may want to place a restriction on the charge card or you may live to regret it. Anyway, off to dinner. They were serving lamb that night. I don't remember what I had, so it must not have been too good. I do remember eating shrimp cocktail and TO DIE FOR crab cakes. Later on, we went to the battle of the sexes- the ladies won...of course. It was a lot of fun, but the game didn't last long enough. We went to see a comedian that was pretty good. All I remember was that he was from Russia with a name I couldn't pronounce, let alone spell. We also caught the tail end of the Latin Fiesta by the pool that was a lot of fun. 2/23 St.Thomas/St. John Today we decided to get up early to watch the sunrise. Plus, we were going to St. John and we wanted to catch the early ferry. I really recommend St. John. I've never been impressed with St. Thomas and after visiting St. John, I found it much more to my liking. We took a taxi to Red Hook, ($8pp) then a ferry to Cruz Bay ($3pp). The ferries leave every hour on the hour and it was an easy excursion to plan on your own. The shopping is awesome better than St. Thomas. I'd say if you like to buy jewelry you are better off in St. Thomas, but if you prefer art and island crafts....St. John all the way. We walked around to all of the shops. The island has such a different flavor to it. It is not as developed as the other islands so you get the true island feel. I later found out it was home to only 600 people. Just to illustrate how remote this island is, I wanted to go to Lameshure Bay and I was told that there was no road to take you the entire way. The taxi could drive us only part way and then we would have to hike to the beach. So, we decided to take a taxi ($8pp) to Trunk Bay ($4 admission pp or $10 for a family pass). I thought Trunk Bay was beautiful, but to be on the top 10 list of Best Beaches in the World....hmmmmmmm. We stayed for awhile, then headed back to Charlotte Amalie. I changed clothes and then went ice skating. Ice skating was a lot of fun. My feet are still sore from those rigid skates. I've only been ice skating once, so needless to say I was no Michelle Kwan. I did manage to avoid falling though, that was my only expectation. I got in the whirlpool for a little while. I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I walked past and there were only two people in the tub, that was EXTREMELY RARE. We went to the Farewell show, it was just ok. The cruise director is very funny, but he's better as a cruise director than as a singer. . At dinner I had a delicious spring roll, the main entrEe I choose was the Rigatoni. All I can say is Ewwww! Don't do it! Can anyone say Chef Boyardee. Ah well, every meal can't be great. We returned to the room to pack and set out our luggage. They requested that everyone have their luggage out by midnight. We rushed to get packed but at 2 am our luggage was still sitting there. Anyways after we packed we went to the Final Fiesta parade. It was great. There was a strong energy in the crowd. You know that feeling that your cruise is about to end and you want to squeeze every possible minute out of it. We went to the casino again and back to Jester's and then we called it a night. We stayed up so late, only to postpone the inevitable...the end of a fabulous cruise. 2/24 Debarkation Debarking went off without a hitch. I believe it started about 8:30. We got off shortly after nine. They give you color tags but only so that you can find which section your luggage is in. Passengers actually debarked when their flight times were called. There was no one checking to confirm flight schedules though, so it would have been easy to depart earlier than your actual flight. We hailed a cab to the airport and waved goodbye to the incredible Adventure of the Seas. It was sad to say goodbye, but I knew xpcoodook and friends were eagerly awaiting their turn. We arrived at the airport and all I can say is OH MY GOSH! SAN JUAN AIRPORT has got to be the most disorganized airport in America. From the time we first entered until we taxied off we witnessed these atrocities. When we first came in there were massive lines. I'd say the average line had about 50-60 people waiting to check their luggage. Within hours, thousands of people began to pour in (literally). The Carnival Destiny, AOS and Norwegian Majesty all docked around the same time. People were coming in by the busload. SJU is such a teeny airport, it just wasn't equipped to process a large number of people quickly. Fortunately for us US Airways only had 4 people. We checked right in and were grateful we didn't have to wait. There were some who spent over 2 hours just to check their bags. One shocking thing, the lady never asked for identification or whether we packed our luggage, whether it has been with us the whole time, yada, yada, yada. Osama himself could have used my ticket and boarded. We went around to the security checkpoint, again no one asked for our I.D.'s we merely showed plane tickets, ran our bags through the scanner and walked through the metal detector. When we got to our gate we observed the real drama. We were told one gate and then they switched to another. About an hour later they switched our departing gates a third time. The most irritating thing....the gate staff couldn't seem to answer any questions people had about the status of their flights! It was comical! We didn't have a seat assignment so we went to check-in. They told us they would call our names when they were ready for us....they never did. We had to return the line several times to get a seat. The flights leaving at the gate before ours, 2 were cancelled and 1 was delayed. Our flight ended up being delayed by 2 ½ hours as well. US Air had also overbooked several of their flights so even full paying passengers ended up being bumped. There were goo gobs of people everywhere. One couple told us they waited 3 hours to eat at McDonalds inside the terminal. When we finally got on the plane we were grateful to be leaving behind a sea of chaos. Overall the cruise was excellent. I'd recommend it to anyone! We didn't have any of the problems that many wrote about here. There was even yogurt, sprinkles and diet coke the entire cruise!!!!!! Run, run, run to book the Adventure...you'll be glad you did. Whew.....now that I have carpal tunnel syndrome and have bored everyone to tears I'll sign off. I'm open for questions if there was anything I left out Happy sailings QueenLFebruary 2002 Read Less
We just returned from our one-week cruise on the Adventure of the Seas and what a wonderful time we had. The weather in the Southern Caribbean is fantastic in comparison to the weather in the Eastern and Western Caribbean. The whole ... Read More
We just returned from our one-week cruise on the Adventure of the Seas and what a wonderful time we had. The weather in the Southern Caribbean is fantastic in comparison to the weather in the Eastern and Western Caribbean. The whole staff of the Adventure of the Seas is to be highly commended. They went out of their way to make our vacation the dream of a lifetime. We were very fortunate to have had dinner with our Hotel Director, Martin and our Cruise Director, Kirk. Getting to know the VIPs was very exciting. We learned a lot about their families and their private lives and felt that we truly made friends that we will never forget. We got to cruise with "Tracey" our Social Director for the 2nd time. Tracey was on the Explorer of the Seas back in Oct. of 2001. Ill bet she is missing "Goose" (her boyfriend) from the Explorer! She is doing a wonderful job on The entertainment was a pure delight. From the Welcome Aboard Show, The Velvet Rope production, The Ice Production, The comedy acts.....all we can say is "WOW". "BRAVO." Then we had service that was beyond my wildest dream....I could have brought each one home with me. Our head waiter, assistant waiter, room service attendants, my wonderful, Humberto, who kept my room in tip top shape and also went out of his way to make us pillows that were "hard" in comparison to the ships pillows. I can go on and on about each staff member that touched our lives on board our stay and can only say, I hope to see you all again. The itinerary of the ship was excellent.....San Juan, Aruba, St. Maarten and St. Thomas....and we added one of our own....St. John, while we were in St. Thomas. You have to see Baby Beach in Aruba and Orient Beach in St. Maarten and Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas. Soooooo beautiful. To us, out of all the beaches...these were the best. I have to make a comment regarding all of those on the boards that complained about this or that on their previous cruises......we found none of what was said to be true. We have sailed on the Voyager, The Explorer (twice) and now the Adventure and there has never been room for complaints. It's all in your own attitude and how you make your own fun. Because many have implied that the [ethnic diversity onboard the Adventure was unbalanced] .....we took notice and perhaps [it] was but we had a hard time differentiating. We had a great time with every nationality on board ....."discrimination has no place on a cruise ship. If you discriminate cruising is not for you." As we left San Juan, we beheld a sight that was heart warming....they were celebrating with US flags flying everywhere, a bus load of children were waving their US flags from their buses at us...they were showing their thankfulness to the US for having purchased them and making them "US Citizens". God Bless America! To all future cruisers, have a wonderful time......how blessed and privileged that we all our to have the finances to be able to live the lives of the "rich and famous". And God Bless RCCL for providing us with a way to do this for one week...here and there! Thank you for these Voyager Class ships, they are the best! Barneykh@aol.comMarch 2002 Read Less
Review of 11-17-02 Sailing of Adventure of the Seas Itinerary.... Southern Caribbean Ports of call.... Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, St. Thomas First off let me say that the following review is my opinion only, based on my cruise ... Read More
Review of 11-17-02 Sailing of Adventure of the Seas Itinerary.... Southern Caribbean Ports of call.... Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, St. Thomas First off let me say that the following review is my opinion only, based on my cruise experience, your experience may differ. With that said, let's continue. This is our 3rd cruise vacation, 2nd on Royal Caribbean and 2nd cruise out of San Juan. Pre and post cruise stay: We had a pre and post cruise stay at the Wyndam Condado Plaza. This hotel is awesome. The pre cruise night stay we were upgraded to a suite. I think that this spoiled us! The room even had a 3 man Jacuzzi/hot tub. The post cruise stay was a regular room, but had a balcony that overlooked the ocean. This hotel is incredible, great pool with a swim-up bar, several hot tubs, onsite 24hr casino (for those of you that like to partake). There is a Tony Roma's restaurant that serves delicious ribs. The prices aren't too bad for hotel style food. I would stay at this place again if I were going out of San Juan. Embarkation: We left the hotel about 10:20 and arrived at the pier about 10:30. The cost for the cab was $12.00. There was a short line already waiting with about 20 people ahead of us. They won't let any in the building until 11:00 am, but it wasn't too unbearably hot outside. At 11:00 we were allowed to proceed, and there were pier workers that took your checked bags and stowed them on the luggage carts for delivery to your staterooms. The room we entered was very large and AIR CONDITIONED with about 500 or so chairs that you could sit on. There was also a nice table at the front with ice cold water or lemonade. They had several employees going down each row of chairs helping everyone get their cruise documents ready. We were only on our chairs about 15 minutes before they called us up to get our sea pass cards and check our passports. This was incredibly fast! The wife and I proceeded to our cabin to drop off our carry-on stuff and to change into our swimsuits, and then off to the pool! A total time of 45 minutes. When we sailed with Carnival out of Miami, we were in line 3 hours waiting to board the ship. This ship is so beautiful and HUGE! Everyone waiting in the building had they mouths wide open staring in awe of her! Food: Now let my say up front that I'm not a connoisseur of fine food or restaurants, but I would say that the food on this cruise was the best that I've had on my previous 2 cruises, with 1 of them being Carnival. The service was what I've come to expect from Royal Caribbean, excellent! The staff was friendly and accommodating. This is the first cruise that we've ever left a tip for the headwaiter. Big Al, as he was affectionately called, was attentive, spending time to talk to each every one of the passengers inquiring how he could help or perform any special need or service for them. We did not go to Portofino's. It's not that I've heard anything bad about them. In fact I've heard only rave reviews for the food and service. It's just that I am not the kind if person that would enjoy sitting down to a 3-3 ½ hour meal. I know that this is the norm for some people, but not me! Johnny Rockets is fun! The food is free, but the shakes cost extra...but they are sooo worth it! I managed to have 3 lunches there. Entertainment: We saw all the major shows in the Lyric Theater. While I would not rate the shows on par with Carnival, I felt that they were very entertaining and fun. The wife and I are not the late party animals that some cruisers are so I can not review the dance lounges are entertainers. I've heard that some of the shows did cater to the Latin flavor of the guests, but I can not vouch for this as being fact. I would like to say that I never had one bad experience with rudeness or shoving pushing etc. from the Latin passengers. There were over 3,000 thousand passengers on this cruise but I never felt crowded or overwhelmed at all. The only time that we noticed any large group was in between the dinner sittings when the guests would migrate to the promenade to wander up and down and visit the various shops and bars. There were several parades and shows done from the royal promenade area. Pools: The main pools are large, with plenty of room for everyone. There are 2 small hot tubs, which seat 8-10 people, and there are also 2 big covered hot tubs which could possibly seat 15-20 people each. There were lots of available lounge chairs, and saving of the chairs seemed to be no problem at all. What we really loved was the Solarium pool area! This was forward of the main pool and was for adults only. They have a pool deck crew who patrolled the area and strictly enforced the 'adults only in the pool' rules! There are also 2 of the large covered hot tubs in this area also. Shore Excursions: Now of course I can only review the trips that we took, but if any of you have any questions about any of these, please ask and I will attempt to answer them. Aruba: I did the 2-tank scuba dive with the on-board dive staff, Sea-Trek. But it was fun. The wife did the spa treatment for the early part of the day. We then rented a jeep and drove over to Eagle beach and spent a few hours enjoying the baby powder soft sand beach. How come the sand here is never hot? We then drove over to Palm Beach, and then visited the Natural Bridge area and then finally over to Baby Beach. Just a word of advice, there are NO street signs in Aruba so be careful and carry a map. Aruba is not very big so it's not hard to get around, just a little confusing at first. We took the sunset catamaran sail and am I glad we did! If you only take one excursion, make this one it! You leave from the pier at 5pm. Before the sun sets, and take a leisurely cruise down the coast. Beautiful scenery and lots of rum punch! Take your camera because the sunset is breathtaking! We then sailed back to the pier, but not before we passed alongside of the ship. That was a blast! We had the whole ship coming out to wave and cheer us on as we passed by. We finished up our stay in Aruba with a visit to where else, but Carlos and Charlie's. It's right on the pier, and only a 5-minute walk, or 20 minute crawl from the ship! It's not quite as big as the one in Cozumel, but it really gets jumping around 10-11pm at night. Just leave time to make it back to the ship! Curacao: Here the wife and I did the animal encounter dive at the Seaquarium. This was awesome and so much fun! You do not have to be certified divers for this since it is only in 12 feet of water. There give you a thorough briefing on the different type of fish and turtles that you will see. They also give you a bait box filled with sardines to feed the huge loggerhead sea turtles and sharks through holes in the Plexiglas. The rest of the dive area is a secluded bay in which you will encounter large quantities of stingrays and fish. My wife called the rays 'big 'ole puppy dogs' they are so tame and fun to pet! But be careful because they try and mooch all your sardines out of the bait box if you're not careful! If you do run out of fish, they will give you more, so don't worry about being too stingy with the fish. The shopping was fun and crossing the floating bridge is a blast! St. Martin/St. Maarten: Since we have been to Orient Beach before and seen all the naked 80-year-old people we care to see, we decided to take the Explorer Cruise & Grand Island tour. This was a nice easy trip. We started out by air-conditioned bus with guided tour from the pier and did a tour of Grand Case, Cul-de-Sac, and Orient Bay. There were several photo stops along the way and this gave us the opportunity to see both the French and the Dutch sides of the island and all the areas that we haven't seen before. We then boarded the double-decked catamaran Explorer for a nice cruise of Simpson Bay. This was a nice leisurely trip with lots of free flowing, yes you guessed, it RUM PUNCH! The boat stopped in Marigot where we had a chance to do some shopping and then re-board the bus for the trip back to the ship. If you're looking for an easy excursion this is it. St. Thomas: We opted to take the Catamaran sailing & snorkeling tour. This again was a good choice. There were only 12 of us on the catamaran King Kamehameha, and she was a blast to sail on. She is the fastest boat of the Buck Island group, which means you get to snorkel longer than the other boats. We went to Turtle Cove and got to see lots of fish and even a few green turtles grazing on the sea grass bottom. Just a word of caution though, there is a lot of fire coral on the bottom so be VERY careful not to brush up against any of it. After this we did the skyride up to Paradise Point to get some very nice photos of the ships at the pier. Of course the Adventure of the Seas kind of makes the rest seem small by comparison! The Adventure was in between the NCL Norwegian Sky and P&O Dawn Princess and we were the first to leave port a 5:30pm. All the passengers on the other 2 ships were outside to watch the largest cruise ship in the world pull out. Both the other 2 ships were saluting the Adventure with long blasts of their ships' horns and she returned the complement with blasts of her horn! It was a lot of fun and even the wait staff on the Dawn Princess formed a long chorus line and waved to us with their trays. As much fun as this was, it was kind of sad to know that this was going to be our last night onboard. Disembarkation: This also went rather smoothly considering that we had to get 3,000 people off before the next group could get on. They use the colored tag system and the people who had early flight departures got off in plenty of time to get to their flights. They had a trivia show and the Krooz Komics put on a little show for the rest of us that were in no hurry to get off the ship. It took us about 45 minutes to 1 hour to find our luggage and get through the customs line, not too bad considering the large group of people. The trick is not to get too stressed out and to allow things to just take their time. The Condado has a check-in time of 11:00 am, which makes it easy so you can get to the hotel early to use the pool and facilities to unwind from the cruise. I know that this is a long review and I've probably missed covering some areas, but if I can answer any questions about the Adventure of the Seas, I'd be more than happy to assist. Would I cruise out of San Juan again? Yes, any time. In fact the wife and I are considering taking this same ship and cruise again next year. Cruise Critic Party: The Cruise Critic party was a lot of fun. We had about 30 people show up. The party was on the 1st sea day before the main dinner sitting in the Imperial Lounge. The cruise staff was fantastic, providing nametags, green rubber bands to get in to this exclusive members only party, and hors d'oeuvres. We got to meet and greet one another and afterwards they got us together for a group photo. I am in the process of getting it scanned so that I can post it here. This board has been a great service to me. I hope that I can return the favor to some of you. Thanks... jimprayn@charter.net February, 2003 Read Less
My wife and I had the pleasure of sailing on this magnificent new ship from 3/3 to 3/10. We stayed in a category 'C" suite on deck nine. The islands we visited included Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. A brief ... Read More
My wife and I had the pleasure of sailing on this magnificent new ship from 3/3 to 3/10. We stayed in a category 'C" suite on deck nine. The islands we visited included Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. A brief description of our excursions is included below. I will try to keep my comments brief. Unlike some of the other reviews for this ship, I am not going into enormous detail about every inch of the ship. I will limit my comments to what I liked, what I disliked and discrepancies between my experience and what was written in other people/s reviews. I will also briefly mention my excursions. For more info, feel free to contact me at my e-mail address, which is listed below. I could spend the next week writing about all the things I liked about the cruise. Suffice it to say that almost all my expectations were met or surpassed. Everything on the ship still has that "new" feeling. The food was superb, the accommodations beautiful (category C) and the entertainment (every night) first rate. The spa treatments were expensive but relaxing (I highly recommend the massage with the hot rocks). A few things I especially enjoyed that others did not comment on are worth mentioning. The solarium pool is a great place to relax. It is much quieter than the main pools. Unlike other people's experience, on our cruise the "no children" rule was enforced. The seats by this pool are incredibly comfortable. By the end of the cruise we were gravitating to this pool daily. The shade is also nice after you get sunburned (as we did). Second, this was our first cruise with interactive television. The schedule for every day on the cruise is accessible from the TV, making it easy to get information on anything. Reservations for Portofinos or for the spa can be made this way also. Finally, the card room (part of the Viking Crown Lounge) is another great place to relax that a lot of people don't know about. It is a great place to pass the time while awaiting to disembark on the last day (see comments below). I will mention only a few dislikes. First and foremost, our dinner was very slow. By that I mean that it took almost two hours. We were first seating and our waiter had three large tables to service. We were constantly the third of the three to get served so we were first getting our appetizers while the other tables were already on their main course. The conversation was good but two hours is a long time to sit for dinner. This is one of the reasons we went to the Windjammer Cafe for dinner a few nights (see below). Also, my wife and I like to dance but the dancing did not begin until 11pm. The disco opened at 10 but there was no action there until after 11. On other cruises I have been on there was some dancing as early as nine for people who don't stay up late at night. I also thought that having the Muster drill on the first sea day was a pain. It was mid-morning and was very inconvenient. In fairness there is probably no other time it could be done. Finally, everyone on the ship had to be checked by immigration at St. Thomas. This would not have been so bad if it was not done at 7am! The idea of vacation is not getting up that early. With 3000 people on board, the line was enormous and many people were very upset. Of course everyone went for breakfast immediately afterwards so the Windjammer was a zoo that morning as well. A brief word about our excursions. We did the sunset cruise in Aruba. It was very nice and had an open bar which we did not expect. In Curacao we did the canoeing excursion. This was mildly disappointing as we only canoed for about 1 hour. The rest of the 3.5 hours was spent driving to and from the beach or snorkeling at the beaches we stopped at. I felt like I had signed up for a canoeing excursion so we should have done more canoeing. The America's Cup racing at St. Maarten was the highlight of the cruise. It was awesome. I highly recommend it to anyone. It was one of the most fun things we have ever done. A few last pieces of advice. Get to the ship early the first day. They started boarding about 12:45. It took about 45 minutes for us to board. Make all your reservations that first day including Portofino's and the spa. Use lots of sunscreen. The sun is deceptively strong. We got burned after one day of sitting out in the sun. Finally, I recommend the Windjammer cafe for those lazy nights when you don't want to get dressed up. The food is the same as in the dining room and you can sample everything. They have waiters who will bring you bread and drinks after you select a table.ALANALW@aol.comMarch 2002 Read Less
First, a little about us. We are a 48 yr old married couple and this was our 8th cruise. First cruise was with the kids on the Big Red Boat and all the rest have been on RCI. We have considered other lines but we enjoy RCI so much that we ... Read More
First, a little about us. We are a 48 yr old married couple and this was our 8th cruise. First cruise was with the kids on the Big Red Boat and all the rest have been on RCI. We have considered other lines but we enjoy RCI so much that we are afraid we will be disappointed so we stay with what we like. Pre-Cruise We flew in to San Juan on Friday from MSP and spent 2 nights at the Marriott/San Juan. We usually stay at the Tres Palmas guesthouse on our San Juan cruises but we had Marriott Rewards pts. and ended up with 2 nights free. The Marriott was very nice. We had a great room overlooking the pool and the ocean. The lobby area gets kinda wild on weekend evenings with loud salsa type music but it was a fun place to hang out. The staff at the Marriott were very accommodating. My wife is a runner and when she returned from her morning run, the doorman greeted her with a towel and a cold bottled water. Lots of Brownie points there! The pool area was great and would recommend the hotel highly. We had the buffet on Friday night in LaVista rest. at the Marriott and it was very good with lots of grilled fish, chicken, steak, salads, etc etc. Sat night we ate across the street at the Tropical rest. It was just OK. Nothing special. Sunday, we checked out at 12:00 noon and grabbed a cab (about $20) to the Pan Am pier. Check in was pretty quick and at about 1:00 we were in the Windjammer enjoying our lunch. Cruise We had a balcony room on deck #6 (lowest price balcony room) and it was fine. We were right by the elevators and the first afternoon/evening we heard quite a bit of noise/talking outside our door and were afraid it was going to be a problem but never noticed any noise after the first night. We sleep with the balcony door open and enjoy the breeze and sound of the waves so that probably drowned out any hallway noise. Our cabin steward was perfect. Low profile, not in your face all the time, but very efficient. We enjoyed the ship very much but my wife and I both agreed that we enjoyed the Radiance (last year's cruise) more. The Adventure seems more geared towards families while the Radiance seems more elegant and refined. The Royal Promenade(while very impressive) gets VERY crowded during the parades and the Captain's welcome party. We passed on fighting the crowds for the free champagne. We never had a problem getting a deck chair near the pool/or a deck above on sea days. We enjoyed the Johnny Rockets but liked the Seaview Cafe on the Radiance more. Again, quieter and more refined than the party atmosphere at Johnny Rockets (although it was fun!), The shows and presentations on the Adventure were some of the best we have ever seen at sea. The ice show was very impressive. The Lyric theatre was also lovely and the stage sets were incredible. We had a great server and asst in the lovely Mozart dining room. The food was very good and close to the Radiance in quality/taste. The only poor item I had was a NY strip steak that was very tough. I ordered it to compliment the shrimp scampi (which was great!) so I didn't go hungry. The ship had about 40% Puerto Ricans on board. Much has been written about this in the past, but to us it's a non-issue. The good people of Puerto Rico were polite and enjoyable to be cruising with. Like I said, a non-issue. Ports We have done this same route before so were familiar with all the ports. In Aruba, we rented a small jeep (Jimny) from Amigo rent-a-car and cruised around the island. It was fun but dusty and bumpy on the windy side of the island with the unimproved roads. Next time we will probably spend a beach day by the big hotels. Snorkeling is also available out by the wreck of the Antilla (have done b4- but not this time). In Curacao, we took the Spanish waters snorkeling/canoe trip. It was very enjoyable with some of the best snorkeling I have ever had. Lots of big, beautiful fish while snorkeling over the sunken tug at Bayo Beach. Next time I would probably just take a cab to Bayo Beach. You can snorkel on your own (rentals available). They have a nice beach, chairs, shade, fresh water pool. Saw people eating lunch there and it looked very good. Also bar service available. In St. Maartin, took a cab to Orient Beach and just swam and read a book in our rented chair with umbrella ($15-2 chairs and umbrella). Had lunch there but it was expensive. Good, but expensive. In St. Thomas, we took the cab to Red Hook and then took the ferry to St. John. Last year we took a day sail on the New Horizon and it was one of the best shore trips ever. This year, we just took an island tour to see the National Park and the island ($16 pp for 3 hour tour-arranged with a driver at Cruz Bay). Then took the ferry back to Charlotte Amalie for some shopping and then walked back to the ship. Summary As I mentioned, we thought the ship was great. The crew was pleasant and we had no complaints as far as service or food. RCI continues to deliver a very solid value for the $$ spent. We shared a cab in St. Maartin with a couple from the Radisson Diamond. They had been on the Celebrity Infinity last year and were very disappointed in the Radisson ship. For the huge $$ spent, they said it was a disappointing. They said they were going to return to Celebrity. We will return to a Radiance class ship for our next cruise. We are thinking the Brilliance for the Panama Canal route, as we have never been there before. In summary, I would recommend the Adventure and would probably sail her or a Voyager class ship again but would prefer the slightly smaller, more elegant and intimate Radiance class. Any questions, feel free to email. fishnhnt@attbi.com June 2003 Read Less
My boyfriend, John and I, had this cruise booked for 10 months. I can't believe the trip is now over and I'm writing a review! How time flies! We went with 20 other people, mostly couples....Berna, Max, Mike, Tish, Joanne, ... Read More
My boyfriend, John and I, had this cruise booked for 10 months. I can't believe the trip is now over and I'm writing a review! How time flies! We went with 20 other people, mostly couples....Berna, Max, Mike, Tish, Joanne, Dan, Pat, Doreen, George, Sandy, Rachel, Jane, Mike, Ann, Tammy, Kevin, Michelle, Freddy, Joe and Andrea. This was a first time cruise for both of us. Others in our group had been on cruises before, which was helpful to us when planning our time. I had done a lot of research and reading of other people's reviews also, so I figure I can only return the favor. Hopefully, it will be helpful to those of you who are planning to go on this spectacular ship! Sunday, March 17, 2002 St. Patrick's Day 6:30am - Left for Logan airport. We flew on American Airlines. The airport was packed when we arrived. There were two lines; one for check in and one for security, both about the same length...long!! It went fairly quickly because they would keep moving you up if your flight time was getting near. By the time we checked our luggage, there was no line for security. I did get pulled aside for a random check. I had to take off my shoes and some sort of paper test was done to check for explosive residue on my bag and sneakers. It didn't take very long though. 9:30am - boarded airplane..we had the emergency exit...lots of leg room :-) Everyone commented on all of our festive gear...we were all dressed in St. Patrick's Day stuff. Many of us started drinking to celebrate the kick-off of our big vacation. It was a big party flight down. 1:30pm - landed in San Juan (they are an hour ahead of EST, so it was really 2:30). We had to retrieve our own luggage. This is a change since the September 11th events. The airlines don't want Royal Caribbean handling the luggage directly from the airport. We met up with the Royal Caribbean representative and waited in a designated area for about 20-30 minutes for a truck to arrive to transport our luggage to the ship. We then boarded a bus that brought us to the ship's pier. When we got off the bus, we were escorted into a room with a lot of chairs. We sat there until we were called to go to the window to receive our supercharge card. This did not take long at all. There was a duty free liquor store right there offering free shots. So, of course we did two before boarding the ship. We were on the ship by 3:30pm. My first reaction to the size of the ship was "OH MY GOD, IT'S SO MASSIVE! We walked up the ramps to enter and just before you do, there is a photographer there ready to take your "Welcome Aboard" picture. There will be many photo opportunities during the week. They display all the photos on Deck 3 in the Photo Gallery. My advice is, get the picture taken! There is no obligation to buy it! I didn't even think about the price of them, this was our big vacation and I wanted the memories to cherish! I do have to say that they should get rid of the fake backgrounds they use for some pictures. I would much rather have my picture taken with the real ship in the background rather than a fake one or some painted canvas!!! We had a Promenade Stateroom on Deck 7, Room 7305, near The Library. The Library had big comfy leather chairs and lots of books you could borrow. I don't know when you would have time to read though!! Our stateroom had a large bowed window that overlooked The Promenade, which was a whole deck long with bars and shops that reminded me of a mall. I remember that everyday I woke up, I had no idea what day or time it was, if it was dark, light, or raining out!! That was a strange feeling to deal with. Once you got on the elevator though, you knew what day it was. Just look down and the day was displayed on the floor!! Our stateroom attendant was Castro. He left cool towel animals every night...stingray, lobster, bunny, shark. We didn't meet him until late the second day though. Some of the staff: Captain - Johnny Faevelen Staff Captain - Trym Selvaag Cruise Director - Kirk Detweiler Executive Chef - David Southby Chief Purser - Terry Balfour Food & Beverage Manager - Michael Rasmussen Everyday, a Compass was left for you in your room. It listed the days tips, events, weather, sunrise and sunset, bar service hours and service open hours, pretty much everything going on for that day. Be sure to pay attention...there are days where specials are going on in the shops, etc. that you might want to take advantage of. If you shop on the ship at the end of the week, I hear the prices are lower. I wouldn't know, because I just shopped whenever I wanted! We immediately went to a bar....the Gravity Sports bar, Deck 5, located along The Promenade...then to the Lobby Bar. Here we bumped into another couple that was with us but had flown up a day earlier. They were allowed to get on the ship around noon. They booked their trip a lot later than everyone else and were put at a different dinner seating. They went to see if they could change it and be with all of us and it was done with no problem whatsoever. 6:00pm - Bon Voyage Dinner. The dining room was amazing! Three levels with a beautiful, very large chandelier. We were near the windows, which allowed us a spectacular view. They would raise and lower the shades depending on what the sun was doing. We had the main dinner seating at 6:00pm. We were in the Strauss dining room, table 413. We had three tables, all right next to each other. The first night, John and I had a romantic dinner for two at a table for eight!! The rest of our table decided to skip the dining room dinner the first night. Our waiter, Sedat, was from Turkey, the Asst. Waiter, Harish and the bartender, Isaac, both were from India. I had the Shrimp Ravioli, which was very good and after dinner they bring around the "Shot of the Night". We did these almost every night :-) You could keep the shot glasses. I think I have a collection of about 15. 7:45pm Welcome Aboard Show - The Adventure Begins - The Lyric Theatre. This is a two deck high theatre...really unbelievable. 10:00pm-11:30pm Sailaway Party , Calypso Music with Rhythm Section - Poolside 10:45pm-11:15pm Jimmy Buffett Margarita Party, Vocalist Derek Lewis - Duck & Dog. This is an English style pub that serves Guinness. This was a lot of fun, lots of singing, dancing and a conga line! 11:15pm World of Adventure Parade - Promenade - Lots of stilt people and dancers. Monday, March 18, 2002 AT SEA - partly cloudy 85, sunrise 6:39am, sunset 6:44pm We had breakfast in the Windjammer, Deck 11. Everyday for lunch and dinner the Windjammer had a huge buffet. You should be able to find something you like to eat here. 10:30am Muster Drill - Mandatory...grab your lifejacket and go to your designated Muster station. You basically just show up and wait around for them to let you go. This was a pain, but I guess you need to know what to do in case there was an emergency. We spent the day at the pool with the Calypso Music w/ the Rhythm Section. I believe Strawberry Coladas were the frozen drink of the day. YUMMY! They came in cool Royal Caribbean glasses that you could keep. 1:00pm John entered the "Mr. Sexy Legs contest". He dropped his drawers (he kept his undies on, thank god)! They had six categories, Mr. Hairiest, Hairless, Athletic, Chicken, Whitest, and Sexiest legs. Needless to say he didn't win. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets...the burgers were very good! I did manage to use the ShipShape Fitness Center for a half an hour the whole week. The have a lot of machines and I suggest using it, just to say you did. Already, I was ready for a nap. It was the only one I would get all week!! We went to the Duck & Dog and Schooner Bar before dinner. The Schooner Bar usually had a guy playing the piano and it was never really crowded. There are a lot of cozy leather seats with a boat motif. We used this a lot as a meeting place. 6:00pm - Captain's Gala Dinner. Tonight's dinner was formal. We had a group picture taken of all 22 of us! If you have a large group, you need to make an appointment to have your picture done. They really weren't prepared for a group of our size. I had the Filet mignon and the "Shot of the Night" a French Kiss. 9:00pm Can't Stop the Rock Production Show - The Lyric Theatre - dancing and singing 10:00pm Karaoke - Imperial Lounge - Chinese type looking theatre with a dance floor/stage, lots of comfy chairs. You received a Royal Caribbean key chain for participating. Mike, Michelle, Joanne, Berna, and I all sang. 12:15am Late Night Comedy Show with Max Dolcelli - The Lyric Theatre - He made lots of ship jokes, toilet flushing, etc. I thought he was pretty funny. Jesters Nightclub is open late and we spent most nights there! It has a small dance floor, but there are plenty of places to sit and you can request music. Tonight and last night stopped at the Cafe Promenade Bar. It was a lifesaver for that late night snack you need after drinking a lot. It's on Deck 5. Tuesday, March 19, 2002 ARUBA - sunny & windy 86, sunrise 6:40am, sunset 6:41pm Woke up around 8-8:30, got off the ship. Again, the photographers are ready to take your picture in front of a life preserver with Aruba adorned across the front of it. It was VERY WINDY and raining a bit little (I had heard it NEVER rains here!). We wanted to rent a Harley for the day. We walked all the way to Big Twin on Smith Blvd., which was about a 10-15 minute walk from the ship. Unfortunately, they were sold out. I didn't find them very helpful, but the people that were in all the shops right as you got off the ship were. They told us a place where we could go to rent a jeep since we weren't prepared. We got a taxi to the airport to rent a jeep. We drove to the Natural Bridge and four wheeled around the desert. It was totally awesome! I thought we were going to get killed, but we made it. Even though it was raining, the Natural Bridge and the water were beautiful. We drove by the Bushiribana ruins, the Alto Vista Chapel (there were a ton of stray dogs around). Then we went for a ride by the High Rise Hotels. We ate at Iguana Joe's in Oranjestad. Did a little shopping and then brought the jeep back to the airport. Renting the jeep worked out for the best because it did rain off and on all day. We didn't go to dinner (Caribbean Colors) this night because of our planned excursion for the night...We did the KuKu Kunuku Party Bus. To find out more - http://www.arubaadventures.com/kukookunuku/. It is a hand painted...one of a kind...1957 Chevy Bus that sat about 40 people. You shook your provided maracas as they played very loud dance music and taught you dances. First, they bring you to Arashi Beach overlooking the lighthouse and golf course for a champagne toast and some rules, guidelines and sales pitches (you can buy t-shirts, leis and CDs). Then we went to the Silvia Lee Residence for dinner. We received a flyer that stated that Mr. Atan Lee has been working with the government for thirty years, and has for the last sixteen years held the position of Chief Protocol for Aruba. He is the organizer of many social events, franchise holder for the Miss Universe pageant and organizer of Miss Aruba pageant. Mrs. Lee has been an employee at the ABN Amro Bank for 37 years, and is currently working in the human resources department. The backyard was set up with tables and tiki torches. Dinner was fantastic! Steak and chicken with rice and salad. The drink special for the night was "Sex on the Bus". Very yummy and only $2.00 at the house. I talked to the owner and asked him why he invites strangers in his house? He said, it started off as a joke at first and then progressed from there. He does it every night except for Sunday! We then went to three local bars. We got a pass for each bar that allowed us to have the first drink for free. The first bar was the Laguna Bar. It was basically a deck with no railings! You could easily fall in the water. We were allowed to dance on the bar! At the next bar (don't remember the name of it) we were taught the Bacardi Dance...we will sing Bacardi, yellow, limon, Coca-Cola for months to come! Our bus driver, Hyme, was a cutie! Raymond, the other bus driver, was a very large man! We were all dancing and having a blast! Lastly we went to Carlos & Charlie's which is an island favorite. It was very crowded! Don't know how we got ourselves in. They were having a "best butt" contest on stage. One of the guys was from our ship!! It was pretty funny! We were standing on the chairs and tables in the back watching, yelling and cheering! We went to the Beach Party poolside when we returned to the ship. Aruba wasn't as nice as I had expected after hearing so many good things about it. I didn't think there was much there. I guess if you are staying at the high rises or a resort it's different. Wednesday, March 20, 2002 CURACAO - partly sunny 85, sunrise 6:40am, sunset 6:47pm It was very windy here also!! We rented a Harley! Yay! We had to take a taxi to where they rented it. It was a complete beater but it was a Harley. And the helmets were disgusting. We dealt with them though. We drove all the way to one side of the island called Wespunt. Very scenic...mountains, beaches, cliffs. The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge was very neat. We got to see it in action as one of the other cruise ships was leaving port. The Queen Juliana Bridge is very high and steep coming down it on a motorcycle! Curacao had a nice little port where there were lots of cart vendors selling things. We had henna tattoos done since we had some time to kill before getting back on the ship. We got on and watched the ship pull away from port. Make sure to watch the ship pull away from port as much as you can...it's neat! I never got up early enough to see us pull into port...I hear that too is neat. 6:00pm Venetian Feast Dinner That night was the comedy show with Two Funny Guys, Mario & Daniel with special guest Franz Lery in The Lyric Theatre. Franz Lery would use a big chair type trampoline to bounce all over the place! Then he balanced himself on several buckets, it was quite amazing. I thought for sure that he was going to fall and kill himself. Mario & Daniel were very funny! At one point, someone came in late and they were like, "oh great, we have to start all over again". They rehashed 20 minutes of the show in 2 minutes! Then we went to Rock Trivia through the Decades in the Imperial Lounge...it was all real old trivia. I didn't enjoy that. Off to Jesters nightclub. Thursday, March 21, 2002 AT SEA - partly sunny 85, sunrise 6;33am, sunset 6:40pm Up at 8:30am. I had ordered room service for breakfast. Then we went to the pool for the day. John stayed in bed for a while longer. He was hurting! I believe the drink today was Strawberry Colada with Mango. I think they called it the Love Connection. They came in these heavy, v-shaped glasses you could keep. Today, there were pool games being held. Berna and I entered. We were on a team of 6. We had to put a wet t-shirt on and swim to the other side of the pool and back and then take the shirt off and pass it to the next person. Our team won!! We won a waterproof money holder case. Make sure to experience the jacuzzi. It was very relaxing and warm. The pools are also saltwater pools. They were their own wave pools too...the ship's movement caused lots of rolling waves. Then there was the belly flop contest. You definitely have to catch this! Then they had the horse race. Pat had bought a horse for $425 in an auction they had held on Monday. If it won, he stood a chance to win $3000, which was the total of all the money collected in the auction. Joanne was the jockette that presented the horse, Champ (he was dressed in Patriot gear), and moved it along the course. She was horse number 4, if they rolled the dice and a 4 came up, you got to move. The only hitch was you needed a double or a triple four to win. We were one space to from the finish line...waiting for a double or triple and I swear a single four came up about three times in a row! Finally, a double four and Champ won!! Woo hoo! We never ventured into the Solarium, the adult swimming pool, there was so much more entertainment going on in the main area. 6:00pm Chef's Dinner - This was the 2nd formal dinner. John and I had a picture taken of the two of us in front of the big hanging ice-crystally looking piece by the stairs. That night was the lobster tail dinner! YUMMY! I wish I had gotten two. It was absolutely delicious. We all met in the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14, which overlooked the pool area with huge ceiling to floor windows, after dinner to have a celebration for the horserace win! We went through about three bottles of champagne. A little incident happened, while Pat was giving a toast, he swore. I guess one of the customers pulled him aside and asked him to watch his language. It was brought to the supervisor's attention and we received a complimentary round of champagne and Pat got a $200 credit on his card! There weren't any children around, nor were there many people in there at that time. I don't know why this person had such a problem. Also, at least check out the Chapel, which is accessible through this lounge. 10:15pm We moved on to the Imperial Lounge for the Adventure Quest Game Show. Examples of items needed, two unworn bras, a man with lipstick on, a man dressed in woman's shoes. You had to run up to the MC with your team number and the item. They called for two pairs of unworn pants. None of the men on our team budged...Joanne didn't hesitate and whipped hers off. I had a thong on....I wasn't going to do it!! Well, I ended up doing it...I ran up there in my thong and a shirt!!!! I hope no one got pictures of that!! In the end John had to have lipstick on, a bra, women's shoes and a purse. There were about 20 men prancing their stuff around in woman's clothing! That was hysterical! It's all about having fun!!!!! 10:45pm-12:15am Karaoke Blow Out - Imperial Lounge. Joanne, Mike and I sang. Then we went to Jesters to dance. Went to bed at 2:45!! Friday, March 22, 2002 ST. MAARTEN - partly sunny 83, sunrise 6:15am, sunset 6:24pm Berna, Max and I shopped in the morning. I bought a tanzanite ring and bracelet, two pairs of gold earrings for gifts, and a watch. You had to haggle and bargain. I didn't think I was too good at this, but I had the tanzanite ring and bracelet appraised when I got home. They were worth twice what I paid! We were booked on the Shipwreck Snorkeling Excursion. A boat took us out to this area where there was a shipwreck. The water was not that clear, so I didn't see any of that. But I saw lots of fish! I saw a big one called a permit. I thought it was shark at first! They gave you food to feed to the fish. The permit ate right out of my hand! After that we could jump off the top of the boat into the water and swim for a while. They then took us on a sea tour of the island. Many people said the snorkeling wasn't that good, but this was my first time ever and I thought it was awesome! It is such a pretty place...we would definitely go back. So far, St. Maarten was my favorite island. I wasn't feeling so good on the boat for some reason...I laid down and just sat there for most of the trip. I just wanted to go back to the ship. We had a drink at Fat Tuesday's, which was right at the Port of Call, before getting on the boat. I had a BBC...Bailey's, Banana and something...very yummy! John and I decided to skip the main dinner. It was a good night to miss...everyone said it wasn't the best selection that night. We watched the ship leave port and the sun set. We ate at the Windjammer. After dinner, we toured the boat a little and played miniature golf, where John beat me! The Platters starring Herb Reed were playing that night in the Lyric Theatre, but I had no interest in that. We went to the "Cool Art Hot Ice Show" at 10:30 in Studio B. It was incredible. They had people flying through the air! It was pretty incredible since the ice rink itself is pretty small. For some reason the movement of the ship bothered me today after being out on the snorkeling boat. This was the first time all week. Very strange! You can feel the ship move if you concentrate on it, but for the most part you never feel it. If you are prone to getting seasick...definitely take something like Bonine. Saturday, March 23, 2002 ST. THOMAS - partly sunny 83, sunrise 6:21am, sunset 6:31pm Everyone had to go through Immigration between 7am-9am. This was kind of a pain. The line was incredibly long....all the way down the promenade!! John talked to someone about going up front because he had an 8am excursion he had to be ready for. They let him go right to the front, no problem. The Immigration Official barely glances at your paperwork. I sent John off on his golf excursion to Mahogany Run. I went up to the "Peek-A-Boo" Bridge to check out where the Captain "drives" this massive ship. It was pretty cool to check out. A bunch of us went to Megan's Bay, one of the World's Most Beautiful beaches according to National Geographic. We caught a taxi right in front of the ship to Megan's Bay. The taxi driver was "007" and he was scheduled to pick us up at Magen's Bay at 2:00pm. The beach was absolutely beautiful, totally picturesque. We rented lounge chairs and floating mats. It was so peaceful and the water was so clear! We drank frozen drinks called Bushwhackers. It had all sorts of alcohol in it...tasted like a Mudslide, but stronger. The pizza and fries from the concession stand were surprisingly good, but very expensive. The taxi guy was great! He promised that on the ride back to the ship, he would stop at some picture taking areas. First, he took us to one that overlooked Megan's Bay. It was a breathtaking view!! The other one, overlooked the town and where our ship was docked. It was sooo beautiful! There were three ships docked that day. You could have put both of the other ships in our ship!!! Again, I can't emphasize how big the Adventure of the Seas is!! I tipped "007" very well! John said the golfing was excellent! He shot an 89. There were these three holes called the Devil's Triangle. He actually beat it and received a certificate for doing so. The holes overlooked huge cliffs. He had originally wanted to golf in Aruba but the excursion was sold out. This excursion only had seven people on it. He had talked to someone who had went golfing in Aruba and they had said it was awful because it downpoured the whole time. Half the people quit and the others played because they felt they had to, but they were miserable while they did. It all worked out for the best. John and I went ice skating in Studio B, just to say that we did, before dinner. It was pretty cool. The skates aren't anything great, but I had read in one review to bring your own skates. If you are going to do that much skating...why would you be on a cruise? I wouldn't bother packing ice-skates. We only skated for about half an hour. There were only two other people skating when we were there. We had heard that earlier in the week it was crazy with tons of people. 6:00pm Feast of Nations Dinner. I had prime rib and it was awesome! Max got 3 different dinners, prime rib, pasta and turkey! That was one thing that was great...you could really eat as much as you wanted. I would get two dinners some nights, just because I was indecisive about what to order. This way I could have a little of both. The same with the appetizers and desserts! The "Shot of the Night" had 6 liquors in it and was topped with whipped cream. I was told I had to do it w/ my hands behind my back. I put some napkins over the front of me so I wouldn't spill it all over me and complied. It was very strong and went immediately to my head. It is customary to tip all of your waiters, etc. on the last night. We tipped Sedat, Harish, Big Al and Isaac very well. They all did an excellent job!! We had group pictures taken with them also. We went to final bingo because they were giving away almost $7000. We didn't win but Berna was one number away from covering her card!! John went to the Casino a few times during the week, but I had no desire to use it. I know I would just lose money. It is definitely worth looking at though. Max, Andrea and I went to the "Farewell Variety Show, No Day but Today" in the Lyric Theatre. It starred, Levent, a magician/comedian and Franz Lery again. The Captain gave his Farewell Address at the beginning. The cruise director sang and said some jokes. They also debuted the Cruise in Review video, which John was in with his pants down from the Mr. Sexy Legs contest. The horserace results were also featured. I bought this...only because it featured people we were with. Otherwise, I may not have bought it. All of your luggage had to be put out by midnight, so I went back to my room to finish packing and fill out my customs form. Sunday, March 24, 2002 HOME We were all very sad that we had to leave the ship. We were up at 8:00am to get ready. Since all of our bags had to be out the night before, we were left w/ our carry-ons. We all met in the Schooner Bar to wait for our flight to be called. We probably were off the ship by 8:30am or so. We walked down the ramp to porters waiting to take you into the warehouse of luggage. We found our luggage very easily. You had to put colored tags on your luggage when you put it out the night before. The warehouse was split up into colored sections. The porters took the luggage to the bus for you. You had to have your customs paper and transfer voucher handy here. Make sure to tip them! We breezed through customs and got on a bus to the airport. Everyone was a little edgy because they were tired. A lot of people in our group stayed out last night...so some were hurting. We had 2 hours to kill at the airport, so John and I went to a restaurant...ate mozzarella sticks and quesadillas for breakfast!! Some people were drinking...it was only 9:30am (really 8:30am at home)! But then again we were drinking mudslides and margaritas at that time all week. We got on the plane, again, lucked out with the emergency exit, and almost everyone slept on the way home...what a difference from the flight down. Miscellaneous * I was very impressed with all the people who worked on the ship. All of them were very friendly and helpful. * There is so much going on, I wish I could have done it all. You definitely don't get enough sleep. There is a radio/announcement control in your room. Every morning when you pulled into port at 8am, the Captain would broadcast announcements. You can have this turned on or off, but you could still hear it outside even if you had it off in your room. * Make sure you have a little card in a slot on the back of your door that says "do not disturb" and "make up room". That is put in the key slot to let the stateroom attendant know what to do with your room. We had problems with people stealing ours!! * I liked St. Maarten and St. Thomas the best out of all the islands. * The elevators were very slow at times. They were moving so many people around at certain periods that it was faster to take the stairs. I also found it a little confusing to figure out which end (forward or aft) of the ship I was supposed to be at to get to specific areas. Remember that you can walk to each end easily by being on Deck 5, the Promenade. * Be careful on the steps leading down to The Lyric Theatre. I almost fell down them a few times! It might just be because I'm clumsy...thought I'd warn other clumsy people out there :-) * The menu always offered a low-fat suggestion and had vegetarian entrees. The waiter always made his own suggestions too. Other reveiwers said that dinner took too long. We were usually out of there within an hour, an hour and a half at the latest. I can't remember which nights they did what, but, the waiters all sing one night, another night all the chefs come out, another night they all walk around with different countries flags, and another night the waiters dance with you. * The rooms are decent sized. We used all the available shelving and closet space. We used the in room safe to store valuables. The shower was nice...round with doors. The toilet is VERY loud when it flushes. We also had plenty of towels...though there was a message about "Save the Seas" and that you should hang your towels if you plan on using them again...we hung them everyday, but they were always replaced with new ones!! I don't know why. I do find it crazy that they make up your bed in the morning and then turn it down for you at night. Being as busy as you are, you might never even see the bed made!!! If you wonder where you comforter has gone...look under your bed! * Disembarking at ports was sometimes confusing. Make sure to listen to announcements as to where you are supposed to go. In Aruba, things were different because of construction. * Definitely take Monday off from work! I definitely needed the day to recover, unpack, do laundry and get my pictures developed!! lulu31_1999@yahoo.comApril 2002 Read Less
Precruise-Flights and Hotel Security was complete and thorough, and we didn't mind that a bit. (Made sure our socks were nice.) Our flights on American Airlines were great, and the business class seats from DFW to San Juan were worth ... Read More
Precruise-Flights and Hotel Security was complete and thorough, and we didn't mind that a bit. (Made sure our socks were nice.) Our flights on American Airlines were great, and the business class seats from DFW to San Juan were worth the extra miles...IMHO. Our service was extraordinary, and the two flight attendants were gracious and always there to get anything whenever we wanted it. (ONE NOTE: our flight was overbooked, and they were asking for "volunteers" to travel the next day. No one volunteered, even for a $300 voucher. If you have a really low fare, and you were the last one to book it, then you'll be recruited. Sometimes those LOW LOW fares have a price. This could be a disaster if you are trying to reach a ship!) Once on the ground, we easily grabbed our bags and stood in a short line for a cab. They ask "Where?" and then give you a slip with the price. It's a comfort to know the price was $18.50, and the next taxi won't be cheaper. Once at the Caribe Hilton, ($65 a night) we knew this was going to be another FANTASTIC vacation. The music was playing, and we saw lots of smiles. (Good Sign!) We are Hilton HHonors members, not because we travel a lot, but because if you stay there even once a year the perks are worth it. (KEEP READING...and sign up for Hilton HHonors when you finish!) Hilton HHonors members may check in on the SECOND floor, which means no line, no exhausted person at the Front Desk sick of hearing why YOU deserve that perfect room, and personal service even for Priceline customers. We got a HUGE corner room with a BEAUTIFUL view, a king bed, and HHonors members get a free continental breakfast and Happy Hour every day. We were so happy. Went down to the Oasis bar, where the Pina Colada was invented. (Other places make the same claim, so I don't know who's right!) There was live music, so we sat down to listen and split a burger. We also had a couple of cocktails before heading back up to our gorgeous room. Yes, the drinks were high...about $7 each, but they were good, and we only had a couple. Hey, we're on vacation! We fell asleep instantly... San Juan I always picture San Juan from the short three-hour visits we've had from the cruise ship. BIG MISTAKE. We had a really great day! We woke up rather early and went on our daily four-mile walk. There are many interesting places to hike around the hotel, and in the interest of safety we chose to stay close and in very populated areas. There were families on the beach, cooking and enjoying the water. On our return, the hotel pool seemed extremely inviting, and we paid it a three-hour visit. There were quite a few children, which should be expected at this time of year. What I did NOT expect was how wild some can be. (No one wants pool water in their pina colada.) We enjoyed a couple of "adult beverages" and split my husband's favorite lunch...a grilled chicken sandwich. Next, we caught a cab...$8.50... and visited Fort Morro, and then trekked to Fort Cristobal... (it's the one we've always visited before.) This was for my dear husband...he loves forts! The forts were interesting, and fun to walk through. We then realized we were dehydrated, so we paid a visit to Senor Frogs for some water and cerveza. Now ... the GOOD part...SHOPPING! We hit the Ralph Lauren outlet, and got some great deals on clothes for huz...he was quite impressed with the $60 slacks on sale for $20. He got three pairs of slacks and a couple of shirts....we were very happy with the purchases. Me???? Oh well...I will find something in St. Thomas, I'm sure. When we returned to our room, there was a fruit plate...obviously another perk from Hilton HHonors. We took a very short nap, and then got ready for our anniversary dinner. We made reservations at the Hilton at Morton's Steak House of Chicago, and we were not disappointed. The food and drinks were pricey, but wonderful, and we had a great meal. We then went to the Oasis for one more drink before retiring. Once again, live music and a relaxing atmosphere...lots of fun. A wonderful day in a beautiful and historic city... Embarkation-Day 1 We arrived at the terminal around 10:45 a.m. (Cab ride was about $10 from the Caribe Hilton.) We were #14 and #15 in line, and around 11:30, they allowed us indoors to sit for a while until they were ready for us. COMPLETE your forms ONLINE...it really does help. About 12:30, we began the boarding process, and we were at the Guest Relations desk getting our cyber cabin by 12:45. First to our cabin, a category DA with a beautiful aft balcony. The cabin really seemed small to me, but perhaps I've been spoiled with those mini suites. We checked out our table reservations, and they were a tad off....table for 8 is not a table for 2, so headed to the dining room to request a change...that process started at 1:30. No changes were granted on the first night, so we made reservations at Portofino's for dinner that first night. We wanted to go there anyway, so this worked out fine for us! Once completed, we headed to the Windjammer for a quick bite, and then to the pool to enjoy the sun. (Wear a swimsuit under your clothes, and have some sunscreen in your carryon.) The pool was great, and not crowded! There are pool towels in your cabin, but don't lose one or you'll be charged $20 for that ugly tan towel. We returned to our cabin around 4, and our luggage was there! Do bring a power strip...two outlets is not enough for a cabin, especially if you have cyber cabin. Sandra, our room steward, paid us a visit and was sweet and accommodating. She got us our extra towels and our robes with a smile. She also found us a lounger for our large balcony, and delivered it during dinner. We unpacked, showered, and got ourselves ready for the evening. Be aware that due to the late departure, some bags were arriving as late as 11 p.m. We saw some strange outfits this evening...so make sure you're covered. The Welcome Aboard show was cute and short, and then it was time for the MUSTER DRILL. This was the ONE WEAK LINK in our day. You are outdoors, and we stood there sweating for over 25 minutes with babies crying and old folks swaying, and the captain made remarks we could not hear due to the number at our station. They didn't do much instruction on anything, and wanted your life jacket on when you arrived. It was the one dark spot of the day for us. But we survived, and we understand the need to practice safety. Just felt it was poorly handled. Portofino's was after the Muster Drill, and it more than made up for the time we spent sweating on deck. Our dinner was fabulous, and the service outstanding. After dinner, we went to the parade on the Promenade....a MUST! The parade begins around 11, so be prepared! The parade really gets your vacation off to a fun start! We had a table at the Duck and Dog, and therefore a Front Row seat for the parade. Day at Sea-Day 2 I love it when the room service waiter is your wake-up call, with a pot of coffee, juice, and fruit. (Of course we also ordered an omelet too, but you didn't need to know that.) Then we were off for our daily walk. We also stopped on the way to pick up our tickets for the Ice Show. You are allowed to pick up the tickets you need for any show at this time. It took about five minutes! They allow you to pick up tickets from 9-12 a.m. in front of Studio B on that first day. There were dozens of lounge chairs with towels, books, etc., before 9 a.m. Sad that the folks don't listen. We found a perfect spot in the adult pool area, and enjoyed sitting in the sun from about 10 until 2. We took a 15 minute break to grab lunch, but did not feel guilty since there were some chairs that had not been occupied all morning, still sitting there unused with a book on top! One other area that is mentioned frequently is the fact that some adults think their children do not count when a sign saying "Adults ONLY" is posted by a pool. There were two different times when 2 year olds were in the pool splashing and throwing toys. Both were reported, and both were allowed to remain...you can choose to let this annoy you and ruin your day or not....I chose NOT. We had our dining changed to a table for 2...but we had to be at the early seating for this change...that's ok, since they will allow 2 to arrive a bit later. (7ish) Before dinner, we attended the ice show, "Cool Art, Hot Ice," and it was FANTASTIC. You HAVE to go see this show...perhaps the best I've ever seen. Then it was off to dinner...we had a great waiter named Luis, and enjoyed our formal night dinner very much. Then...HEADLINER SHOWTIME! Paul Boland was the entertainer, and did some wonderful impersonations, and made us laugh until we cried. We enjoyed this show almost as much as the ice show. We stopped by the Duck and Dog for an adult beverage, and then we were ready to turn in for the night...it was a GREAT DAY! Aruba-Day 3 I think we booked this cruise so we could visit Aruba. I have to admit that the beaches were gorgeous. We had a bit of trouble finding a place to park ourselves, though. Evidently, the best beach to use if you want a "Day at the BEACH" is Baby Beach, but it is about a 30 minute ride to the beach in a cab, and about $35 each way (for 2). We couldn't find anyone to share a cab at the time we wanted to go, and we spent about 3 hours that morning shopping for souvenirs, so we asked if there was a nice beach closer by. We were taken to Palm Beach, where the high-rise resorts are located (less than 10 minutes from the ship). Cab is about $8 for 2 each way, and the public bus is $2.50 for 2...take your choice. We rode the bus one way and the cab back...it was fine either way. We found that cruise passengers were not very welcome. (I have since discovered that it depends on how booked their resorts are at the time. No one would take our cash, or even speak to us. Other cruisers I have visited with told us they were allowed complete use of the facilities when they visited Aruba. Just know it's not a given that you will be able to get a chair or a drink. The beaches are public, but the amenities do not have to be offered to you. I understand why resorts have these policies, since their first loyalty should be to their guests. We did not want to use the pools, but maybe just rent a lounger and buy some drinks. I just don't think they are doing themselves a favor by alienating potential customers.) Please know I'm not complaining..just relating the information for the week we were visiting. We finally found a little guy next to the Radisson who rented us a lounge chair WITH a pool float for $6 each...his name was TATITO and he has a rental shack right on the beach, and the beach was nice. It's actually right by the Radisson. There is a place to get beer, water, etc., and after 3 it's HAPPY HOUR....two for ONE drinks. We spent a few nice hours there, and then headed back to the ship. We also heard that Eagle beach is nice, but the only thing at this place was the beach and some jet skis. No food, drinks, chairs, etc. So don't visit unless you want to jet ski ONLY. The beach was beautiful though. Back to the ship for a shower and some dinner. (Room service, since we were exhausted.) After a short nap, we went out to check out the nightlife in Aruba - mainly Carlos and Charlie's. It was WILD....I mean REALLY WILD. Even the Cruise Director was there leading some songs. Everyone was very happy, and it was packed. We could stand that about an hour, and then headed back to the Adventure, the Duck and Dog, and our table for some late night adult beverages. Curacao-Day 4 I have not heard too many good things about Curacao, but we enjoyed our brief visit there. It was a national holiday in Curacao on the day we visited, so many of the shops were closed. We took our time getting ready that morning, took a walk, and then headed off to explore the island. There are some interesting characters made out of stones that you will pass on your way to the shopping area. It was very crowded due to the holiday festivities, so we decided to sit at a sidewalk cafe and people watch for a bit. They had helicopter demonstrations, and huz loved watching them. After downing a couple of Amstel Lights, we shopped for a few souvenirs, and then headed back to the ship. All in all, we were gone for about 2 hours. We decided to use the afternoon as a "sea day" since it was less crowded and easier to get a great lounge chair and frosty beverage. Some passengers did visit a beach on Curacao, but we chose to stay close to the ship today and enjoy the Adventure of the Seas. It was Italian Night in the dining room, and the food was delicious. The production show that evening was "Velvet Rope." The music and productions seemed to be aimed at the Baby Boomers, and that is fine with us since we're baby boomers! They also had a 50s party later, but we opted to go to the Duck and Dog again, where our sweet waitress quickly brought our "usuals" without us even asking. She also knew my huz loved to take a glass of ice water with him, and I enjoyed sipping a Coke on the way back to the room. Both were there with our drinks in seconds! That's service, my friends. Day at Sea-Day 5 Seemed like most people got a late start today...that 50s party last night must have been a good one! Anyway, days at sea are meant for ONE thing...relaxing! So we walked, and then parked ourselves in loungers for the day. There were still quite a few saved loungers again, and most were in the adult only pool. Again, there were children in the adult only pool, but I think no one got upset enough to make it an issue. We chose to stay by the main pool today, and it was festive without being too noisy or obnoxious. They had games and contests, and the service around the pool was excellent. We did have a family arrive and put their loungers almost ON TOP of ours, in an obvious "squeeze play" to get us to leave. They needed 4 loungers and there were only 2 empty in the area. However, 2 feet from us....oh well, never mind! We stood our ground, even though those two family members just stood right behind our loungers waiting for us to go. There were plenty of chairs in plenty of places, but I guess they wanted this particular spot. Weird, huh? We were ready to leave about 45 minutes after they arrived, and then one of the people called out to her son and daughter standing at the pool bar..."They're Leaving!" So they came running over to our chairs and threw bags on them before we got our towels off. I didn't get mad, but I did giggle. How silly to base your entire happiness on ONE or TWO deck chairs. What was the big deal...three feet from us were 5 or 6 empty loungers.....oh well! All I can say is, don't let anyone ruin your day...just laugh at them. We had a nice lunch at the Island Grill...at the back of the Windjammer. In fact, we ate lunch there almost daily. We sunbathed a bit longer on our balcony, and then took a nap. It was formal night, and that meant LOBSTER. Actually, the lobster was not the best, but I still thought it was good and I didn't have to COOK IT! Our waiter was sweet and brought an extra for us since our lobsters were smaller than he liked. The show tonight was Revolution, and it was a Beatle tribute show. It was fun since they also included video clips from TV commercials from this time. There was also actual footage of the Beatles and their screaming fans! After the show, we did the usual...Duck and Dog. St. Maarten-Day 6 This is my one of my two favorite ports in the Caribbean. We have been to St. Maarten a few times, and I love it more every time we stop there. (Beers are ONE DOLLAR!) This year we opted to try the St. Maarten Sailing Regatta, since everyone has raved about that excursion for years. It is only a 2½-hour excursion, so it left us plenty of time to "beach it" and shop a little as well. The excursion is fun, but you do some work unless you are one of the two people out of 18 who are chosen to do nothing. One word of caution: the ocean can get rough, and if you are prone to seasickness, you need to take precautions to prevent "making a deposit in the ocean." I started taking Bonine the week before our cruise (one every night before bed, and every night during the cruise, as well as a few days after coming home.) I am usually the FIRST to get motion sickness. I didn't even have it for a second. I was also in the front of the boat, and that seemed to be helpful as well. Huz had an inner ear infection and a head cold brewing as the cruise began, and we thought he was about over it....wrong. He was in the aft, and did get quite queasy, but never made the "deposit." He was such a trooper to stick it out. Another point: some people on this excursion think this is the REAL race, and tend to be QUITE competitive. Luckily, we won, but I hate to think what might have happened if we had lost. We were on the excursion for fun, but one of the couples had done this before and lost, and they were determined to settle an old score, meaning that our boat was going to win at ALL costs. The huz appointed himself as captain almost before we got off the Adventure, and they were scoping all of us out to see who had done this before. Just know that every sailing has a different group aboard, and what we experienced is just one possibility. I just was not prepared for that attitude, but I have to admit that I did enjoy winning. We would do this excursion again, so I'd consider it a success, and something you need to experience at least once. After the race, you are given a chance to buy an authentic "crew" t-shirt, and a photo as well. The photo was $30, but it is a once in a lifetime picture of the crew while you're sailing. Then, we decided to stretch our legs and walk past the shops to the Ev'ryTing Cool beach. We did a little souvenir shopping on the way, and then had lunch and drinks at E.T. (They have a website...check it out.) The beach is gorgeous, and the water is wonderful. After about three hours there, we stopped by a shop on Front Street for the bargains on alcohol. We enjoyed relaxing so much at this beautiful beach. Many of the passengers go to the French side (clothing optional), but we enjoyed staying close to home and relaxing. Make sure to allow plenty of time for your return if you go to the other side...several passengers said they worried that they wouldn't make it back in time due to traffic. Wonderful beach, wonderful shopping, and wonderful day... St. Thomas-Day 7 The only place I love as much as St. Maarten is St. Thomas. All passengers are required to go through an Immigration check before leaving the ship. They ask you to come to a dining room between 7 and 9 a.m. The long lines shouldn't scare you, as they move VERY quickly. We went ahead and ate breakfast in the dining room since we were up and ready to go, and then headed off to the shops. The shops are open by 9 and ready for you. There are hundreds of cabs, but they are actually "vans" with drivers who want to fill the entire van before heading to town. We found a van with a couple of spaces left and hopped on...$3 a person. After shopping, (and be sure to check out the Flea Market across from Little Switzerland), we flagged another van and headed to Megan's Bay (about $6 a person...honestly can't remember what it was exactly). It's a perfect beach for us...food, sun, sand, gorgeous water, loungers, and adult beverages delivered to you. They also sell fantastic t-shirts. Our driver agreed to meet us at a certain time in the afternoon, and wouldn't even accept our money until the round trip was completed. (This is pretty common in St. Thomas.) Sailaway from St. Thomas is beautiful! It's really tough ending a cruise gazing at the beauty of St. Thomas, and knowing in the back of your mind that you have a ton of packing to do. We just took the time out to enjoy the scenery, and then it was time to go to the dining room for the last time. Tips are easily added to your card and then vouchers and envelopes are given to you to hand out on the last night. Luggage is due out in the hall by midnight...you know the routine! It's pretty sad... Dinner was great, and the farewell show was sad...it's hard to believe how quickly the time passes. We had one last drink at the Duck and Dog, and then it was time to get back to the cabin, put out the bags, and fall asleep. Disembarkation Never fun, always sad. Once again, it takes a bit longer in San Juan than in Miami, so prepare yourself. There was NO PIER BAGGAGE CHECK BY THE AIRLINES on our voyage due to security, so be prepared to get your own bags to the airport (a cab is about $18). We had a 2:30 p.m. flight, so we were among the last to leave the ship. Keep a book with you to read, and you can sit on the Promenade one last time and enjoy the ship. We were called about 10:45, stood in a rather long customs line, and still made it to the airport by 11:30. So you should easily make a flight by noon...any earlier might have your heart racing a bit. Final Observations If you have this ship and itinerary booked, you will have a wonderful cruise. The Adventure of the Seas is a beautiful ship, and the service we received is about the best we have had so far...at least on one of the mega-ships. The word "No" was never uttered to us, but always a smile and "We will do our best to take care of things for you." This was noted in every single area of the ship...dining room, cabin steward, bar....everywhere. The ship is also VERY clean, and kept that way throughout your stay. Itinerary- We chose this itinerary since we wanted to visit Aruba, and I'm not sure if the increased air cost justifies that one port. It was beautiful, but if your airfare is like ours, and close to $400 a person more than flying to Florida, I'm not sure it's worth the added expense. (Luckily we were able to use air miles.) However, cruising from San Juan is another experience, and we really considered San Juan an added port for us as well. We will probably just cruise the Eastern from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale from now on. If you live in an area where air to San Juan is reasonable, go for it and have fun! Dining room and Windjammer- Much has been said about the drop in the quality of food on the cruise ships recently. We thought the food was fine on this ship, and although the number of choices has been reduced, there was always something great to order. The waiters are very happy to bring you extra entrees to share so you can taste everything. The service in the dining room is outstanding, and we had enjoyable meals every night. Portofino's is a step above, no doubt, and fun for a special night during your cruise. We found the food at the Windjammer to be very good, and we utilized the Island Grill at the back for quick lunches. Room service on our sailing was PERFECT...every single order we received...and that was every morning...was exactly what we ordered. Huz said the coffee got a little bitter as the week wore on, but he drank it and said it was fine. Bravo to Room Service! Bar Service- The "Duck and Dog" is the cousin of the "Pig and Whistle" on the Voyager. It is in the middle of the activity on the Promenade, and the perfect place to have a drink. We did not purchase a cocktail card for $44 since they no longer allow you to request Stoli vodka. (They did last year.) The soda card for an adult is $33, a whopping $13 more than the exact same card on Princess. I wonder why their soda is so much more expensive on RCI...hehehe. Promenade Cafe- This is a fantastic place to grab a something sweet, like a cookie or a piece of cake or pie. They also have pizza and great sandwiches. It's open about 22 hours a day. This ship also had frozen yogurt machines located all over the ship, and they were always working. Fantastic! Alcohol- You were not allowed to carry on alcohol from the ports. It was taken and was delivered on the final night of your cruise. Alcohol bought in the duty free shop could be taken to your stateroom for an additional $9.95 per bottle. That made it cost us about the same as at home, but still less expensive than buying drinks at the bar. Photo service - Photos were taken every time you blinked, but the quality was VERY poor. We usually buy quite a few of the ship's photos, but the quality and poses were not good, and often we weren't even close to the center of the picture. Needless to say, be sure to take your own camera, and don't count on the ship's photographer to get a great pic of your group. We were really glad we took lots of pictures with our own camera. Cruise Director-The cruise director on this sailing was Omar Lugo. He was fabulous, and had such energy and vitality that it made you join in. He was everywhere, from sunrise to sunset, and the guy never stopped smiling. He seems to love his job. He was even at Carlos and Charlie's in Aruba, leading some dancing. W had a fabulous time, and hope you enjoy your cruise as well! Bon Voyage! Mal62875@aol.com July 2003 Read Less
Itinerary departed San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday evening. Ports of call were St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. This cruise was our first experience with a cruise ship. Because reviews are largely opinions, I ... Read More
Itinerary departed San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday evening. Ports of call were St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. This cruise was our first experience with a cruise ship. Because reviews are largely opinions, I believe it is important to provide a little background of the reviewer (me). Since this was our first cruise, I cannot make comparisons to other cruises or other ships. Well, that's not exactly true since I did sail the North Atlantic from Germany to New York compliments of the US Army, but that's another story. While being new to cruising, I am hardly new to traveling. I have spent time in 49 of the 50 states, Alaska excluded, Canada, Mexico and 9 European countries. I have stayed in many very nice hotels and dined in some of the better restaurants around the country. This then becomes my comparison basis. I'll provide a few pointers along the way for the peer-novice who may read this review. The seasoned cruisers may also gain some additional insight as well. With that being said I'll start at the out set. My wife and I planned this cruise to celebrate our 35th anniversary. She has been suggesting that we do this for the last 10 ten years. So last April I fired up the PC to see what I could find. Upon visiting the cruise site, I noticed what appeared to be a very reasonable offer for a 7-night cruise. After a few clicks I found out that the itinerary was on the Adventure of the Seas, a Voyager class cruise ship. Having seen the Discovery documentary on the building of Voyager I very rapidly became interested in this cruise. A little poking around and I choose a stateroom on the upper deck with a balcony. It was 9690, deluxe ocean view on the port side aft. Fast-forward for a moment to say the view was nearly 270 degrees and was simply spectacular. Anyway, I selected the cabin and then was prompted to select flights if I so desired. Since I was "new" I guess I figured I would do everything through RCI. POINTER - In retrospect, I would not book the flights with the cruise line. I could have saved about 50% by booking flights on my own. There are some risks to this, but if you do it smartly, you'll be fine. About three weeks before cruising, there was a price drop on our cabin class. After a few phone calls and e-mails, I was granted a refund that was certainly worthwhile. When the cruise documents finally arrived, we were really getting excited. We were to fly direct from DFW to San Juan on the morning of departure day. Also, the return flight was on the same day as docking back at San Juan. POINTER - Book you own airfare for the day before and the return the day after if you can. You will enjoy it much better and the money you save by booking your own airfare can be used for the hotels. There are several times during this experience that you will find yourself looking for your luggage. This will be either at the airport baggage carrousel or the in the ship terminal. We have all seen airport carrousels, but let me tell you, they are nothing compared to the ship terminal when you return to find your luggage. POINTER - Mark you bags so you can easily identify them. No, I don't mean put a cute little ribbon or bow on the handle. You wouldn't believe how many bags had a cute little bow that you can only see from 5 feet away. I marked our luggage with a double band of white duct tape all the way around the 4 sides. You could see it from 100 feet away. This will save time. While spending time on the Cruise Critic site and perusing the posts, I noticed many questions about how to get from the airport to the pier. When I booked I had done everything through Royal Caribbean so transfers where included. POINTER - For San Juan, skip the provided transfers and grab a taxi. Do this either by yourself or shared with another party. This will save a lot of time and possibly relieve a little anxiety. In San Juan this was a $20 cost for my wife and I. From the time our bags came onto the baggage carrousel until we opened the door to our stateroom on board ship was 1 hour and 5 minutes. This at 2:00 pm arrival at the airport. Another reason that I recommend the taxi is that I did not readily see a representative from Royal Caribbean to direct us to the proper transfer vehicle. There were two other cruise line representatives there holding up their signs providing comfort and direction to weary first time cruisers. During the "boarding" process at the terminal you will be exposed to free rum shots and have ample opportunity for duty free smokes and liquor if you so desire. POINTER - To speed things along, it really does help to have your paperwork filled out ahead of time. Fill out your embarkation forms on line, print them out and take them with you. Have your supercharge card form filled out accurately along with the other forms and you will not have to stand at the counter longer then 2 minutes. Be sure to have your government issued photo ID with you. You will drop your packed luggage outside and it will be taken to your stateroom later. Make absolutely certain that your cruise line provided luggage tags are affixed securely to your luggage. POINTER - Be sure to have toiletries and a change of cloths in your carryon. You may not actually get your luggage until later that night. Now, look up in absolute awe at one of the largest cruise ships in the world. You may think you are standing next to a building but it is actually the ship. You can get the stats on the ship from various sites on line so I won't go into that. POINTER - First photo opp comes right before you board on the gangplank. Of course, since you have only been up for nearly 12 hours, 6 of which has been spent sardines in coach class on the airplane, and you just got your first taste of San Juan taxis, you look marvelous. Right? Take the picture anyway. As you will come to find out, you will have many opportunities for "company photos". You have no obligation to take them unless you want so what is harm, especially if you are first timers. Chin askew, eyes popping, you smile to friendly greeters on board. This is your first opportunity to use your newly acquired supercharge card. You will also have your photo taken here. This one is more like the drivers license photo and it is mandatory so they have a face with the card. This card is everything on board ship. It is your pass to board to the ship, it is your room key, and it is your source of money for everything on board the ship expect the casino where real cash is used to buy token and chips. Oh yes, you can use your supercharge card to get more cash to buy more token and chips. After clearing on board security and the initial welcome, you are free to go to your stateroom or roam the ship or get something to eat. Whatever trips your trigger. We headed immediately to our stateroom. At San Juan, we entered the ship on deck 4 aft across from the Aquarium Bar. On each deck of the ship, fore and aft, by the elevators are illuminated profile maps of the ship. The usual "You Are Here" is clearly marked on the current deck floor plan. It then becomes very easy to navigate to your stateroom. On the way to the stateroom you will pass many ships crew. We received a smile and a friendly "Welcome on board!" from virtually everyone we met. We arrived at our stateroom and used the supercharge key to open the door. I think we have all had these types of keys and have also had to return to the front desk to get another because it wouldn't work. Not the case here. The key worked fine. The attentive Room Steward was either signaled that we had arrived or saw us, because it was only seconds before Elrid knocked on our door and asked if there was anything that he could assist with. He explained a few things and showed us our accommodations. He explained everything very thoroughly. To the seasoned cruiser, this may have led you to make comments like, "Yeah, I know that. Ok, that's all. If I need you, I'll call." But we viewed it as considerate and informative. As we were told, our main luggage would not come the stateroom until later, so we unpacked our carry-ons, enjoyed the champagne and strawberries I had ordered on line back in April when I booked the cruise and then proceeded to start to enjoy our vacation. Stepping on the balcony was a real treat, even at port in San Juan. We had a line of sight almost straight across the stern to starboard side and swinging full circle to look almost down the length forward on the port side. I had read a few posting about this particular stateroom on the boards and I have to admit the view is really great. On the balcony there was one chaise lounge, two chairs and a small table. What a peaceful place this turned out to be. Even under way, there was only a gentle breeze that swept of the balcony and churning of the wake behind the ship little more the noise of the waterfall in our water garden. Exploring the ship was an adventure in and of itself. It took us until Thursday to get to everyplace on the ship. There is soooooo much to do on board. From the ice skating and dancing in Studio B, to bingo in the Imperial Lounge, rock climbing on the wall, in-line skating, mini-golf, basketball, volley ball, internet lounge, library, adventure ocean, dive shop, health spa and gym, restaurants all over the ship, shops on the promenade, theaters and dinning. Not to mention the swimming pools, whirlpool spas, jogging track, artwork all over the ship, casino, disco bar/lounge, adults only lounge, peek-a-boo bridge, and the bow pulpit where you can be "King of the World". This ship is big and packed with just about anything you could ever want. You can even just lay back and relax on the deck chairs. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes so I won't go into each day specifically. Our overall view of the islands was that after the first couple, they are pretty much the same. Island economies surviving on tourism for a living. Mind you, we were there in the off-season. So many shops with the same stuff, diamonds and gold, tanzanite and "T" shirts. Souvenirs that all take on the same appearance except for the island name. The hype about duty free and super prices is just that, hype. Sure booze is cheaper but I looked at a JVC camera that I could buy in Dallas for $750.00, which after 30 minutes of price haggling could be had for the low, low price of $980.00. Hey, you're on vacation, in a foreign place, like the saying goes, "Let the buyer beware!" We did greatly enjoy the history, tours around the islands, and snorkeling. We did some excursions on our own and two through RCI. Those arranged through RCI, I would consider better then the self-directed ones. Shop around, there is abundant choice. POINTER - To reduce risk, I would recommend joining with at least one other couple, or maybe form a small group on your own. Cruise Critic Party We qualified with 33 people who had signed up for the party. There were about half of us that kept up a pretty steady stream of Q & A and general banter on the boards. We looked forward to the Cruise Critic Party. So much so that we organized a pre-party Party and agreed to meet on Sunday night in one of the bars. The Cruise Critic Party, I understand, is a fairly new event that RCI is doing. The sentiment was very nice and it did provide an "ice breaker" for members of the groups. Remember, you have people from all over the country coming together with typically only two things in common, the party and the cruise. After that it is sort of up to you to make it happen, whatever "IT" is. Cruise Critic and RCI provided a beautiful facility in the Blue Moon Lounge on deck 14, overlooking the pool area on deck 11. They brought out a large cheese tray and drinks were on your own. The amount of enjoyment you take away is up to you. We found it to be a very nice experience. I believe anyone who is more outgoing will enjoy this. If you're not a "joiner" then maybe it is not for you. Portofino We had heard so much about this "upscale" restaurant that we had decided long before the departure to be sure and make this a "must do". You need to make reservations early for the best choice in dining time. The service we received was excellent. You have your own table and attentive service. However, the food is a different story. We have dined at many fine land based restaurants around the country. In comparing, we found the food to be very average to sub-standard for all the talk about how good it was. Realize, that of necessity all meals are pre-plated (prepared ahead of time). This allows for great, if not spectacular presentation, but leaves much to be desired in food quality. As an example, I ordered a sea scallop appetizer. When it was presented the scallops were piping hot and the grilled vegetables they were setting on were stone cold, and I don't mean warm or cool. They missed the microwave completely on the way to the table. In a good 4 or 5 star land based restaurant, the meal is prepared when you order it to ensure absolute freshness and quality. The kindest comparison I can make is to food prepared for a large convention group at a very good hotel where they have to serve hundreds of people simultaneously. If you are used to dinning at Outback, Friday's, Appleby's, Olive Garden, etc., then the food will seem quite good, mainly because of its difference and uniqueness in selection, not quality. The lobster entree was on a par, or slightly lower then Red Lobster. If you have never dined at a really good restaurant, you will find this very acceptable. Portofino was worth the experience, albeit, not the food. Main Dining - We had selected second seating and a large table. Our late seating was preference was based largely on the comments on the boards about on-shore activities and having time to freshen and change cloths before dinner at 8:30 pm. Having now experience this, we would select the main seating at 6:00 pm because it would fit our style better. There are a number of late shows that we feel would have been more enjoyable with slightly more time between dessert and curtain time. The service in the main dining room was very good and our main waiter and assistant waiter made us feel very at ease. We had selected a large table because we are outgoing people and like to converse and learn about all the different life experiences of others. However, we ended up at a table with 6 Hispanic speaking people and 2 French Canadian, none of which spoke English. The other 2 seats remained empty for the duration of the cruise. Some friends we had made, setting at the adjoining table, were in the same situation with 6 or 8 Hispanic and no other English. We spoke to the headwaiter and a swap of tables was made. The Canadian's remained at our table and our English-speaking friends joined us. All in all, the dining room staff handled the whole thing very nicely. BTW - For those on the boards who said to do your own thing on formal night and wear what you want, if you are not wearing a tux or coat and tie, and evening wear, you will be out of place. We did not see a single person "inappropriately" dressed; yet everyone appeared to having a wonderful time. Entertainment Our cruise happened to be the last cruise for most of the entertainers as their six-month contracts were up when we hit port back in San Juan. Every performance was a farewell situation with emotions of the entertainers running very high. This energy carried right to the audience. All the shows were very enjoyable. Aside from the production events, the parades, spot promenade shows and poolside activities were great. Kirk Detweiler, Cruise Director, deserves a huge hand for his tireless work to entertain the guests. Debarkation All good things must come to an end. Alas, this cruise included. One slight bump in this process was avoided by a simple question to guest services. We had an early flight from San Juan back to DFW. The room steward had left a leaflet in the room stating the ship realized this and we would be given "Early Departure" white taps to affix to our luggage. However, that evening brown tags were left in the room. I went down to guest services on deck 5, showed them the leaflet and they promptly produced the early departure tags. These tags are not available for self-pickup at guest services. Had I not done this, our luggage would probably still be trying to make its way back home. As it was, our luggage with its bright white duct tape against the emerald green suitcase was easily retrieved. First Time Cruiser Overall Opinion You will enjoy virtually everything on this cruise. The ship is simply magnificent. If we were to book another cruise for next week on this ship, I really believe we would just spend the majority of our time on board ship. There is so much to do. One last comparison, the casino will take your money faster then Vegas or Atlantic City if you play the slots. bob.n.peg@verizon.netOctober 2002 Read Less
Adventure of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.0

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