We used Royal Caribbean's online check-in and this is a must because it saves a great deal of time at the pier. Upon arrival at the pier all they need from you is your signed "Set Sail" agreement, where ... Read More
We used Royal Caribbean's online check-in and this is a must because it saves a great deal of time at the pier. Upon arrival at the pier all they need from you is your signed "Set Sail" agreement, where you agree to pay your ship account, take your photo, and a swipe of your credit card. Then you wait to board if its prior to 12:00 PM.
The port at San Juan is about the worst embarkation we've ever encountered, and we've been through that port around 8 times, so we know the drill. There is NO ONE there to guide you in any way, you are on your own and the people handling bags are NOT Royal Caribbean employees so they just see people outside the building and don't care. It is your job to act in your own benefit and READING THE SIGNS IS A MUST. There is a line to drop off bags, another for those without bags, and one for high caliber cruisers who take lots of cruises and get perks. When in doubt, ask. No one will volunteer anything.
Adventure of the Seas is still a beautiful ship. It's been very tastefully decorated, far more so than Carnival ships, which tend to be gaudy & overbearing. The Royal Promenade is a great place to hang out having shops, bars, and a cafe with pizza & deserts (included in your cruise price). The pizza has degraded unfortunately. The ship however is looking tired and needs a trip to drydock for refurbishing.
In case you are not aware of this, cruise lines offer rooms VERY cheap at the last minute to keep cabins full. Be aware that cruise ships have relatively fixed costs (crew wage, food, beverages, etc) which don't change from week to week. Because of this the cruise industry maintains a business plan to fill rooms at almost literally any price, and after that they can then make their profit on excursions, booze, and gambling. HOWEVER - keep in mind this is usually only possible for locals who sometimes are ill mannered. You ALWAYS want to carefully consider the departure port for this reason AND cruise length. Generally the more expensive cruise have less problems with unruly passengers, and there certainly IS a cultural difference between people in the states and locals.
Food is very good and most people typically eat lunch and breakfast at Windjammers on deck 11. Some choose the dining room instead. Breakfast at Windjammers tends to have some of the same items every day, but with many choices it shouldn't matter because you can't eat everything. Lunch tends to be similar also but they do vary some of the meats, fish, and sides. The deserts change daily and are good.
The main dining room, which is 3 floors high with each having their own name, is excellent. For us service was very good and the food was great. Waiters work for tips so they highly motivated to please you.
DINING ROOM DRESS:
This is one major flaw in cruises and not due to the Royal Caribbean but rather very lax social standards. Many people don't understand the etiquette of dressing for dinner on cruises.
There are 2 formal nights in which the majority of people actually dress in accordance. If you are the kind of person who refuses to dress up then I suggest having dinner at Windjammers Cafe on deck 11. Also, if you cannot get to dinner on time you should have dinner at Windjammers. It's informal and buffet style. When people refuse to dress properly in the dining room they disrespect their fellow passengers. When they refuse to arrive on time they disrespect the dining room staff and make life very difficult for them. If you need a reason why its because waiters typically have 3-4 tables they serve and it works much better if all tables are on the same schedule, which is to say serving starters at all tables, serving main courses at all tables, and not breaking up the rhythm due to diners coming in late, forcing wait staff off their schedule. This affects service at tables where guests did arrive on time.
Often reviewers talk about how bad the beds are, though our prior experiences were good. This time was the exception and the bed was poor. The mattress was hard as if something was place underneath to prevent sagging, a strategy we've seen used before.
We had planned on renting a car in St. Maatern as we've done in the past, and then drive to the French side and visit the town, market area, fort, and of course the airport. However, the cruise line advised against visiting the French side as it had not yet recovered adequately from the hurricane. Phillipsburg exhibited substantial damage, though many shops were open and vendors working hard to get customers to visit their shops. I'd estimate 30% of the shops were still closed.
We used Shore Excursions Group on Bonaire and Curacao, purchased through Costco with a 10% discount. No matter what the source is, cruise line or excursions company, they all use local vendors. We have never had a bad experience through Shore Excursions Group.
Most importantly you MUST return to the ship ON TIME and that is SHIP TIME. Cruise line excursions guarantee that. Most any vendor will be sensitive to that but remember you not America, you're on an island, and they live and exist on "island time" (code for very laid back, "don't worry, be happy").
This is pretty subjective and depends upon your personal taste so that must be up front. There typically is a musical shows that is 'Broadway' and/or Las Vegas quality. Around the ship there are various other musicians and usually pretty good. As a former professional musician I can attest to the quality of singers, musicians, and dancers. Fortunately, the ice show was performed because the seas were not rough.
Auctions are held on most cruises lines and most ships. I've sailed Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival, and Park West Galleries was the auctioneer on all of them. Park West has a checkered history of and is a lightning rod for complaints. Browse the Internet for details. We DO NOT purchase from Park West Galleries.
People leave the ship in groups and you are provided with a group number, which they call for disembarkation. Cruise ships want you off the ship as quickly as possible so expect a knock at your door early to get you moving. This cruise required us to go through customs which took more time than without a customs inspection.
LOCALS PASSENGERS AND CULTURE:
When sailing out of San Juan you should be aware that a SUBSTANTIAL portion of the ship (perhaps most) are locals who booked passage for last minute cheap rooms. Reading these words may make you uncomfortable as if this is a racial matter, but its really a CULTURAL matter, and this cruise we did touch on this subject with several people from the states, more than we have on any past cruise.
Often you will notice local groups (families) moving in squad and platoon sized groups which can make people feel very uncomfortable, overwhelming people nearby, and they were often inconsiderate of others and rather rude like they didn't know how to act in public. Here are some of the problems encountered:
* Teenagers were at times unsupervised by parents and unruly.
* Children running the hallways and yelling.
* Some sat on and stood around stairwells blocking them.
* Walked into elevators without letting people off first and you were shoved in by a large group who insisted they all get on the elevator.
* People shoving into lines, being inconsiderate of those in line.
* Very loud in hallways at night, sometimes yelling.
I'm sure citizens of Puerto Rico will view these as "whats the big deal?" but to Americans from states and Europeans this was a violation of civility. At this point we likely will NEVER sail out of San Juan again, not just the cultural issue but embarkation as well.
BTW forget about people who take just one cruise and then tell you not to complain. Rookies lack perspective.
Royal Caribbean is still a good cruise line but it is highly unlikely we will ever sail out of Puerto Rico again. Read Less