Sail Date: March 2007
This was our second trip on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan and it was great again, wonderful ship, easy to get around, lots to do all day and night, just a few negative comments, the food is great at some points but can be a bit ... Read More
This was our second trip on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan and it was great again, wonderful ship, easy to get around, lots to do all day and night, just a few negative comments, the food is great at some points but can be a bit boring as well, deserts were consistently good and the Cafe promenade was wonderful for snacks and coffee at any time. Entertainment was good just not as much happening at night as we are used to on Norwegian Cruise lines in the past, only one hour at a time of Karaoke or Rock a Rokie and with such a large ship a lot of people were disappointed with that. Too much Bingo Bingo Bingo after hearing that fifty times over the loud speaker I wanted to choke the guy! Pool music was good but short at times too, line dancing was supposed to be for a hour but the girl doing it (assistant cruise director no less) said her throat was sore so she was cutting it short by 15 minutes, then when the cruise director didn't show up to do the sexy legs contest proceeded to do that for a hour. Ice show is alright but if you go to actual ice shows this is not something you have to see like everyone says. Johnny Rockets was just basic food nothing to pay extra for. San Juan is the biggest problem with this trip, a 3 hour wait with 15000 other cruise travelers is no fun. I will not travel through there again they don't get it that everyone was saying never again to San Juan. We did have a great time and will use Royal Cruise line again just not through San Juan Puerto Rico. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
EMBARKATION We arrived at SJU about noon on our day of departure and were on the ship by 12:30. We were allowed into our rooms promptly at 2:00 p.m. This was my 6th cruise since 8/05, all with Royal Caribbean. All other trips were on her ... Read More
EMBARKATION We arrived at SJU about noon on our day of departure and were on the ship by 12:30. We were allowed into our rooms promptly at 2:00 p.m. This was my 6th cruise since 8/05, all with Royal Caribbean. All other trips were on her smaller ships including Majesty, Empress and last, but not least, Sovereign of the Seas. Even though it rained on the first two days almost non-stop, it did not deter from the overall cruise as the first day following departure was a cruise day. Adventure of the Seas is a first class ship and I must add very clean. The Promenade was quite impressive with all the shops, cafes, sports bar, etc. The architecture of this ship was beautiful. My impression of the dining room is that it, in my opinion, is not the prettiest for being a big ship. We did not bide well with our waiter. He was one of the worst I ever had on a cruise soliciting annoyingly each time we dined there. I will end here as I'm sure others on this very same voyage had better experiences, at least I'm hoping the entire staff isn't that way. STATEROOM We had a Superior Oceanview in the aft of the ship which was very, very quiet. We did have 40 mph winds on one or two nights and it did some rocking, but not enough to bother either of us. The new bedding was beautiful and very comfortable. The bedspread was white with silky stripes in the fabric and the contrasting dark green pillows were quite attractive. The bed was between a queen and king in size and very comfortable. We also had a couch which could have, and should have, been cleaned. Our bathroom was not small, but not large by no means, but it was only the two of us with one being in the bathroom at a time so sufficient spacing. Only gripe here was that there was very little hot water ONLY on the first day. The closet was quite large with side shelves and sufficient hangers. We had an excellent balcony, again not large, but not too small with two chairs and a small glass table. We had room service for two breakfasts and at those times we brought the oval glass coffee table onto the balcony which sufficed. The luggage (3 large pieces) fit under the bed, but they also had two other comforters in plastic bags stored under there as well. Don't know what that was all about. We had a mini-bar and a safe as well. Our balcony was on the port side and we had great views in all ports except St. Thomas. The sun always rose on our side of the ship which was fantastic. The moon was also on our side and it was almost full moon with the glittering off the water. Awesome display! DINING We had first seating at a table for six. Only two of our dining tablemates showed up on the first night. We got along great from the start. I won't repeat myself about our waiter. He is the reason we didn't eat more than two nights in the dining room. There are many complaints about the food on this ship, but I found it all to be quite palatable. It could have been a little bit hotter, but no real gripe there for us. Many selections to choose from in the Windjammer. CASINO Although I did cater to the casino while my husband stayed in the room and read, I did not hear many machines "going off" with bells blazing and lights twirling. I did "hit it rich" on one machine (20,300 pennies to be exact; yes, pennies). I allotted myself a certain amount per day for gambling and did not take my room card to be tempted to charge more onto my account. Enough said. PORTS We both really enjoyed the ports of call. Although our flight was from PHL to SJU, we did not take the time to explore San Juan itself as we wanted to spend the time in port to explore the ship and become somewhat familiar with it. In Aruba, we rented an air-conditioned Jeep and bounced our way around the island. What a great way to explore! This island is absolutely mindboggling. So beautiful. We drove from the desert into mountains, climbed atop huge rocks (almost slipped off with flip-flops on in a high wind at the top, wrong move on my part...wear sneakers). Curacao we rented a Toyota Camry and drove north exploring on our own again and found a great snorkeling beach in the middle of nowhere with parakeet-like birds. On the way, we went by what may have been salt flats with pink flamingos. Great picture taking opportunity. Saw some who rented scooters to do the same trip. Would not recommend that mode of transportation. One couple in front of our car almost lost it. Guess he wasn't too experienced and I wondered why he would attempt this feat. To each their own. Not for me. In St. Marten we took the ferry ($5 r.t.) in the a.m. and then took a taxi ($20 one way) to Orient Beach in the afternoon winding up smack dab in the middle of "The Orient Beach Club". We looked around a bit before choosing to "participate" and found an umbrella and two lounge chairs ($18) and did a little bit of skinny dipping. What an experience, a freeing one at that. Would highly recommend it. Don't knock it until you try it. Just do these people a favor should you decide to go explore. If all you come for is to gawk, then stay on the clothed side. The people who really want you to look at them will undoubtedly come your way at one point in the day regardless of what side you are on. St. Thomas was a big disappointment again, as I had been there on an earlier cruise. The captain negated to tell us that the town shops would be closed all day on Saturday when we were in port due to their yearly carnival parade in town. We would have gone elsewhere to do something had we known more than a half day ahead of time. GENERAL INFORMATION We never sit our luggage out the night before disembarking because we know that we are going to see them again if we don't do that. We also were off the ship at 8:15 and on our way to the airport via private taxi versus RCL busses (curious as to why the same trip back to the airport was $22.50??). Our room steward(ess),Jenny, was excellent. If you have excellent service they DO appreciate an extra incentive to continue giving impeccable service. I did just that mid-week and we never had to ask for anything extra...no ice, no refill of our mini-bar, etc. Another couple we met never saw their steward the whole week. They ran out of towels, ice, etc., and their room always smelled of smoke and they don't smoke. He never introduced himself to them. As for our waiter, he better get another profession and attitude. You can guess what his tip was from us. Normally, I wouldn't even think of not leaving a tip less than what is expected, but I have notified RCL that this did not make me happy at all. This waiter also asked me for our room number. What did he need our room number for??? Very, very suspicious. Be careful who you give your room number to. This was an excellent time of year to travel to the Southern Caribbean. The ship had very few kids running about and the kids who were on this trip were very well behaved. Some people seem to be concerned about the Puerto Rican population on this particular itinerary. We had no problem whatsoever. Live and let live is our motto. Cultures are different and we can accept those differences. I can only say, other than our waiter's service, there was just one other thing that bothered me that had absolutely nothing to do with Royal Caribbean and that was the two canvas boxes with handles at curbside on our arrival for departure at the airport. There apparently were a pair of fighting roosters in those bags crowing their heads off. Poor things! I will not hesitate to continue to choose RCL for our next cruise (or quite possibly my next cruise as I travel a lot by myself). All I can say is "Get out there!" Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Stayed pre-cruise one night at the Caribe Hilton (Condado area). It was a beautiful resort, but eating in the hotel was quite expensive. EMBARKATION: Arrived at Pan Am port at 12:15 pm. Checked in and was on board Adventure by 12:40 pm. ... Read More
Stayed pre-cruise one night at the Caribe Hilton (Condado area). It was a beautiful resort, but eating in the hotel was quite expensive. EMBARKATION: Arrived at Pan Am port at 12:15 pm. Checked in and was on board Adventure by 12:40 pm. Easiest check-in out of our 12 cruises. STATEROOM: Clean upon arrival. Plenty of storage room and adequate balcony for 2. The only negative was that we were in a room that connected with an adjacent stateroom and the conversations during the day were somewhat loud. This was not RCCL's problem. We chose this room and didn't realize there could be a problem. Luckily, our neighbors went to bed earlier than us so at night the problem didn't exist. 2nd SEATING DINING: Wait staff (Paul from India and Helen from Philippines) were great. Always cordial and provided prompt service each night. Food was fair. WINDJAMMER CAFE: The omelets are very good and worth standing in a short line for. Everything else was good too, except there was never tuna salad at the buffet, only at Johnny Rockets and afternoon tea. Had it once at Johnny Rocket's and it was disappointing. We were hoping that RCCL was using Celebrity's recipe which is great. But they weren't. ALTERNATIVE DINING: Portofino's was FABULOUS and worth the extra $20 per person. Can't say more, except don't miss it. ENTERTAINMENT: We made the show every night but one and all were good to great. The ICE SHOW is not to be missed. It's amazing. In 12 cruises I believe the entertainment on this ship was the best we've had. SERVICE: Our service in every area was really good. We did talk to other passengers that had not experienced the satisfaction that we did, but most of our contacts were with those from the Philippines which we've always found to be more eager to please. Our only bad service was with Martin at the Exploration Desk and the folks in the Photography Studio. Their automatic viewing system was always "down" and they were not eager to assist with finding photos. The response was "our system is updating so come back later". Well, we tried to view pictures 3 different times on 4 different days and the system was never working, so we left without purchasing any pictures. That was good for our seapass account. EXCURSIONS: Aruba (Were there from 8 am - 1 am) - Rented a jeep (independent of RCCL)to tour island in, went to Palm Beach for afternoon and shopped on the way back to ship. Cost $75 Curacao - Did Dolphin Encounter (Booked through RCCL). It was fabulous! St. Maarten - Shopped on Dutch side in the morning. Shared the cost of a car and driver with another from ship ($25 per person) for 3 hr tour of French side and Orient Beach. Very nice to see the "other side". St. Thomas - Downtown was closed due to Carnival so we shopped at Havensight Mall and then rode the tram up to the top and had a few BUSHWACKER'S before making our way back to the Adventure. They were very, very good and the view was breathtaking. DISEMBARKATION: We were off by 8 am because we had booked a rainforest tour through RCCL ($36 per person). The rainforest was beautiful, but the tour guide and bus used was just ok. Stayed 1 night Post-Cruise at Marriott Stellaris Resort & Casino which was in a very nice area (Isla Verde) with a great restaurant selection OVERALL: This was our 12th cruise and 3rd with RCCL. Our 2 other RCCL cruises had been "fair". We were skeptical about this one going in but were not disappointed at all. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and could not have asked for a better itinerary, ship or staff. We will go again on RCCL and the voyager class ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2007
My wife, 2 children, and I are first time cruisers and I'm going to write this review for the first time cruiser. I hope to capture all the things I wish I knew before I got on the boat for others. We decided on the Adventure of the ... Read More
My wife, 2 children, and I are first time cruisers and I'm going to write this review for the first time cruiser. I hope to capture all the things I wish I knew before I got on the boat for others. We decided on the Adventure of the Seas because we currently live in Puerto Rico and the port is close by, the Adventure is thought to be the best boat from Puerto Rico (i.e. Biggest, most amenities, and newer), and my kids had their heart set on going ice skating. We are living down in Puerto Rico as expatriates temporarily. We have 2 daughters, aged 10 and 8. We sailed on April 8, on Easter day. We got a ride to the pier around 11:15 am and hauled our bags to the luggage pick up area. The porters look like they are from a moving company vs. uniformed. Doesn't really matter, but it is just a little different than what I expected to see. We had 6 bags. The porters like to remind you that they work for tips. I flipped them a few dollars after they threw my bags into a container pile. We then got in line. We waited maybe 20 minutes and the line began to move. They checked our passports going into the building. I had them all lined up with photos exposed to keep things moving quickly. Lots of people had to fumble around for their ID's to get in, but in all fairness it was not obvious exactly what we needed to get through the door until you got close. Inside the terminal, it got a little confusing. We had our Set Sail Pass all ready to go. I believe this expedited the process. The organization was a little confusing as to how they were coordinating the multiple lines, but we just went with the flow. It took us approximately 20 minutes to get through the line in the terminal and get our cards. We headed toward the ship and passed the Bacardi cart. We knocked 2 flavored shots back for free which set a nice tone to start our cruise. They took each of our photos for the embarking and disembarking process for the islands to store into the computer. Then it was up and away into the escalator and subsequent ramps. We headed to the 4th floor of the ship. They took our photo (first of many, many photos!) and we crossed the plank to board the ship. As we entered, a Canadian employee began to welcome us in Spanish. We had a good laugh because he really struggled in Spanish. We let him finish (it was a slow, deliberate welcoming) and we let him in on the joke when I responded "thank you very much!" We had a good laugh with him. While the boat is certainly big, I was surprised that it was not bigger. The beam was not as wide as I had imagined. I think I've read too many reviews as to how big the ship was and, since it is my first cruise, I imagined it to be bigger. First thing, we got our kids checked in with bracelets. We had no idea what they were for until later that night, but they are for identifying which muster station the minors are to report to if they are not with their parents in an emergency. The kids wore them for the whole cruise, as expected. We headed for the Promenade on the 5th floor. We began to familiarize ourselves with the boat a little. We purchased the soda passes for my wife and kids. It was $6 per day for adults and $4 per day for the kids. They tack on 15% gratuity for a grand total of $112.70! You have to sign up for the whole week or skip it altogether. I passed. While my wife certainly is not, I'm cheap and couldn't bear the thought of making a $50 investment in soda for the week for myself. We learned as we went through the week that the drink passes were not that great of a deal and we would pass on them the next time and pay as we go. More on that later. We headed up to the buffet in the back of the boat for lunch. We sat in the very back (The Island Grille) and enjoyed the perched view over San Juan. It was a perspective of the city we had not previously enjoyed. You are not going to hear a lot of details about food in this review. The food was decent, but not super spectacular. We found the buffet adequate. The family ordered drinks to go with lunch (soda for my wife, water for my younger daughter, lemonade for my older one, and unsweetened iced tea for me). Now, for a quick lesson on drinks... Lemonade, fruit punch, water, coffee, and iced tea are included free of charge. So, now that I spent $112.70 on these soda cards, my kids drank mostly free stuff through a lot of the cruise. Go figure! I drink a lot of diet soda (don't like the sweet drinks) and fell in love with the iced tea. It was nice to go without carbonation. Now we explored the ship. It was almost 2pm and we were able to get to our room. We booked the cheapest room we could get. We did this for 2 reasons. First, this is not the big break away from the cold type of vacation for us like it was for most of the folks from the states. It was a nice week break from home, but not my big trip of the year. Hitting the beaches was nice, but is not nearly as special for us as it is for the shivering Upstate New Yorkers or the folks freezing in Detroit. We were not going to go all out and spend a lot of money (remember, I'm cheap). Second, we are planning a trip to Europe and were testing out how well the kids could travel with us. The room was commensurate to a sleep car on a train and we wanted to see how the kids would react to it. They did surprisingly well. Net, we booked an inside room for the 4 of us. We actually could have paid a little less (~$60) by booking 2 separate inside rooms, but we did not want to be separated. We dropped off our carryon bags, changed into bathing suits, and headed for the deck. We dipped in the pool a little bit and milled around to get familiar with the ship. The captain informed us that there were over 1000 children on the boat this week. That is more than I ever saw posted and he was asking for help in managing the crowd. I never had any problems with kids running around (sure some did, but they are kids), but nothing out of control. The boat is pretty well designed for families and it looks inviting for bringing children. The sports area in the back of the ship has rollerblading, basketball court, rock climbing wall, and mini golf which we played that afternoon. The Meet and Mingle crowd agreed to meet at the Pool Bar at 4 pm. I dropped in to say hi. Nice bunch of people. We agreed to meet at the official Meet and Mingle the next evening. We went back to find 5 of our 6 bags waiting outside of our room at approximately 5pm. That was a relief because I changed room reservations approximately 1 month prior to boarding. We had already received our documents with our old room number. They do not issue you new documents with a room change, so I was nervous that our bags would get lost for a while. I manually relabeled our bag tags (with envelope labels) so it was clear where they were supposed to go. Our room attendant, Alberto, was there and I informed him that there is still one more bag that we are expecting, but was glad that we got our stuff before dinner without a hitch. We began unpacking. I was very impressed with how well designed the room was. Four people with 6 big bags were well accommodated for. Every inch is designed for use. We put our passports, money, camera, and camcorder into the safe. Our 6th bag arrived shortly thereafter. We headed for our dinner at 6:30pm. We were stuck in the very back corner of the room. We met another family at our table from Virginia who were very nice and we had good interaction with, but the other seats were empty for the whole cruise. It was hard to see what was going on in the rest of the dining room, which was beautifully decorated. We later learned that we could have asked to be moved. Some experience cruisers informed us that this is the only job the Maitre 'D has and you should take advantage of it. Ok, lesson learned. After dinner was the muster drill. That was an interesting experience. We all jammed into a lounge and learned where we needed to report in case of an emergency. Then, it turned into us being a captive audience to buy all sorts of junk from them. This was just the beginning of the demonstration of what a captive audience we were. To be fair, I'm not the type of person that likes to be marketed to (e.g. I like to browse a shop before asking for help rather than be waited on), so this bothered me a little more than the average person. After the muster drill we continued to explore the ship. We found 90% of all the areas that night. We stayed up to watch the 10pm sail away even though the kids were tired. It was exciting to watch the El Morro fort go by from that vantage point as we swept into darkness and heard the motion of the sea. It was a very pretty setting. In conclusion, with all of the logistics on the first day, it certainly did not feel like a full day. It felt like less than half of a day. I can't imagine how the first day must be for people flying in. It must be exhausting. I don't know how they made it through the muster drill. Wait! I can feel the boat moving. We thought the ship was so big you would not feel anything. It doesn't move a lot, but you definitely know you are moving. The super queasy could have a problem, but my wife is a Dramamine Queen and she had no problem throughout the cruise. You will walk down the long hallways a little wobbly sometimes, but hat is about it. I stayed up with my little one who wanted to see the parade on the Promenade deck. They rolled the barrier lines out. Shortly thereafter, singers and dancers along with dress up costume animals, and people on stilts came by. It was like a Disney-like theme park type parade. I was a little worried since I've taken my kids to Disney over a half dozen times and I definitely wanted to do something else on this vacation. I almost lost it when my 8 year old told me it looks like Disney Studios to her. In many ways, the cruise felt like a Disney experience for grown ups. That's ok, but it was not what I expected. The next morning was a sea day and we went to the dining room for breakfast. The selections were more upscale, but there was less selection than the buffet upstairs. This was the last time we ate breakfast in the dining room. While the kids did well with the breakfast, the variety and simplicity of the buffet and the freedom to choose whatever you wanted worked much better for them. In addition, the buffet was quicker so we could start our day earlier. My impression of the dining room for breakfast and lunch was that it was more of an escape for adults from children. First thing after breakfast was to go rollerblading. That was surprisingly decent and it was completely empty. The track did not look like much, but it was more than adequate to move around. After a nice little workout, we went to get changed into long pants (requirement) and hit the ice skating rink. It is a little rink, but my kids loved the ice skating since they don't get much opportunity to do it. The rink was pretty empty since all of the pale white northerners were briskly roasting themselves at the pool for the first time in months. Needless to say, they all left a different color than how they started. It was pretty surreal to be in the Caribbean Sea on the way to Aruba while ice skating. After lunch, we hit the rock wall. My younger daughter made it to the top after some effective coaxing from the instructor and was so proud! She did better than her dad! We didn't get our Meet and Mingle invitation in our room and had no idea where it was going to be. Subsequently, we just didn't get our act together and missed it being busy having fun with the kids. In the end, it was really our fault. I was very disappointed and felt like I missed out on connecting with the others. We dressed up for formal night. I wore a suit and a tie which was par for the course in the dining room. There were a few in the over 50 crowd who donned tuxedos, but this was more of an exception than the rule. Women wore various levels of dresses. They go around and take photos during dinner. Now, it is time for another learning rant. We found the formal nights to be more trouble than they were worth. I don't aspire to dress up like this on vacation, since this is how I dress for work. When I get home, I can't wait to get the suit off of me. Packing all of the stuff, storing it in our tiny room, taking the time to change, fussing with the kids, etc. was simply not worth all of the hassle. Our tablemates were equally uncomfortable and we ditched the ties on the next formal night. Next time we cruise, we are just going to skip the formal nights altogether and save the suitcase space. The smart casual night, by the way, was completely indistinguishable from any other casual night. My wife used her smart casual outfit for the second formal night because she felt her cocktail dress was too fancy for the occasion. She went casual on the "smart casual" night which I honestly have no idea which night that was. After dinner, we went to the Lyric Theater for see a comedian do his routine. I don't know his name, but he was the father from the "That's so Raven" sitcom on the Disney Channel. He was very funny while being age appropriate for the kids. My wife and older daughter laughed and laughed. My younger daughter was upset because I think she was expecting to see the guy in his Disney Channel character. She felt ripped off since that was not what she expected. She quickly got over it. The kids were tired and they all went to bed and I went to the late night, adult comedy by myself. I think his name was John Wise. He was pretty funny, but not as polished as the previous performer. Obviously, some of his stuff was a bit edgier and I don't take any of that kind of stuff seriously, but some people had a mixed reaction to it. Tuesday, we arrived in Aruba. I woke up at 6:30 am while the rest of the family slept in, as usual. I jogged around the track on deck 12 (5 laps to complete a mile) while watching Aruba get closer and closer. We docked in Oranjestad right at 8 am, as scheduled. I was expecting to see a dry, desert-like island, but I was surprised at how flat Aruba was. I woke the family and we ate breakfast while the hordes disembarked. We went straight down to the 1st floor after eating with our backpacks. Getting off the boat was a breeze and I was pleasantly surprised given the size of the ship. You need identification and your Sail Pass Card. They run your card to track that you are now off the boat. You need identification to get back into the port for the Aruban authorities. The ship personnel said that this is an American requirement that the US insists that the islands follow. As it turns out, Aruba was the only place that checked for photo identification. Everyone else just checked to see that you had a Sail Pass Card. We brought multiple copies of our passports. We did not want to bring our actual passports with us to the beach and this was an acceptable practice. We did a little light kiosk shopping. The people of Aruba are very nice and hospitable. We crossed the street and got on the 10A bus to the "hotels." My wife was in Aruba over a decade ago and she wanted to return to the beautiful beach she was at, but she could not remember the name. We deducted it was Palm Beach. For $9.20 roundtrip for the 4 of us, we took off for Palm Beach. We got there, walked through one of the big hotels to the shore and were disappointed. My wife realized that this was not the beach she remembered. I saw how commercial it was and knew this was not where I wanted to spend my afternoon. We walked south down the beach until we hit a pier. We got the kids a bottle of water and were solicited politely for a timeshare. We kindly refused and began to chat with the gentleman about how crowded the beach was and we wanted to know how far Eagle Beach was. He told me he likes Eagle Beach better also and that is where the locals go. He pointed how to get to the bus and we hit the road again. Eagle Beach is wider, quieter, and has far fewer people. It was, however, extremely windy. We located a bunch of loungers with fixed straw roofed canopies and sat down. I looked around to see if there was anyone to pay for it, but there was no one I could identify. I figured if there was money to be paid, they would find me. It was so windy; the back of the lounger swung and nailed me in the back of the head while I was sitting up. Ouch! A gentleman did approach me, but informed me that the furniture was the property of the little hotel across the street (I think Little Divi is the name). I had no idea and informed him I'd move without any problem. He stopped me and simply asked that if his hotel patrons begin to fill up the beach, then please move for them. How nice is that?! That was my experience of Aruba. He didn't even charge me anything. We headed back for lunch on the boat and then went shopping again. I got an Amstel (hard to get in the states) and we picked up a few souvenirs. We spent only $25 the whole day. One other thing surprised me about Aruba. While my first language is English, my whole family is fluent in Spanish as well. Nearly everyone in Aruba was more comfortable communicating with us in Spanish than English. While everyone speaks English well, that was a big surprise. I was not expecting to speak Spanish in Aruba. We went back to the ship for dinner. We had the ice show tickets for that night at 9 pm. It didn't feel right to be in the port at Aruba until 1am, but sitting on the boat watching a show. From a logistics standpoint, I would have rather been walking Oranjestad and seen the ice show another day (either a sea day or an early port departure). That felt a little like a lost opportunity, but late nights on the town with the kids were not necessarily in the cards anyway. Wednesday, we arrived in Curacao. We got a late start after breakfast again. We never tried to be the first off the boat. Curacao is an island that I had the most trouble investigating. I later determined that information was not easily available because the Dutch have been wisely keeping it to themselves. The island is beautiful. It is much bigger than Aruba. The one thing I did know about Curacao is that this is the place to dive or snorkel. We did not want to do any of the foofy excursions from the ship. It was important to me to get lost ourselves and immerse into the local culture a little. I figured there was a lot of structure on the boat, so I wanted to approach the ports in an unstructured manner. We got a taxi to Caracas Bay where there is a sunken tugboat that is close to the shore and good for snorkeling. It cost $25 to get there and we arranged to be picked up at 1:30 by Alvin. There was a huge boat for snorkeling off the shore with over 50 homosapiens swimming all over the tugboat site that were from our ship. That was exactly what I did not want. I'm sure with that many people, it has to affect the marine life you'd see. There was a little shop at the shore where we arrived. We were expecting go snorkeling ourselves, but a young Dutch gentleman named David came out and offered us a snorkel tour for an hour to 90 minutes. He gave us wetsuits and offered snorkel gear, but we brought our own. He sat down with my family with a marine life book and gave us a quick, 5 minute review of the different sea life he was going to show us. Again, he spoke English and Spanish to us (he wanted to practice). Curacao was like Aruba in that regard and we were speaking a lot of Spanish. David took us out and we first headed under the pier there. He dove down up to 35 feet in some places and picked up marine life and brought it to us. I quickly realized that he knows these waters well and knows where to find all of this stuff. The first item was a "Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber." I held it while he snapped a photograph with the underwater camera he provided for us. My kids loved it! Sea urchins and wild starfish that I've never seen before were incredible. David showed us a huge variety of coral and he was very knowledgeable. He dragged our kids on a floatation device when they got tired and was fantastic. By the time we were done at the pier, all of the people on the snorkeling excursion from the ship were back on the boat and sped away. Now, it was time for us to go to the tugboat. We had it all to ourselves. We saw huge, colorful fish. David pulled out a banana and fed them. Wow! What a great experience! We had a half hour wait until our taxi was to arrive and I had a drink at the bar, which was included with the tour. I chatted with Jerry who worked at the dive shop also. I learned that they took over this little shop (www.downtowndiving.com) months earlier. Jerry, who was originally from Aruba, spent time explaining Curacao at a level that I was unable to through my own research. Curacao is very Dutch and it shows. I saw a lot of Dutch people here vs. Americans in Aruba. It was a European sideshow. I mentioned that I missed an opportunity to buy Gouda cheese in Aruba, and he asked Alvin, the taxi driver, to bring me to Albert Heijn to buy some. He said it is a great place to go. Alvin stopped there on his way and we went Dutch supermarket shopping. I thought I was in the Netherlands. Shopping for cheese in Dutch is a challenge. I wanted to make sure "oud" meant "aged" and I asked a pretty, bright blonde (almost stereotypical) Dutch girl if she could help me. She didn't speak much English and struggled to find the word, so we figured it out together. Just the kinds of experiences I enjoy. We got back to the ship with a 10 lb. wheel of Gouda ($100 worth of cheese for $29. Please don't ask what I'm going to do with all of that cheese). I put it in the refrigerator of our room and we headed back out to town. Willemstad, the port town, is gorgeous. Pretty pastel colors with Dutch facades. The layout of the town had a European feel too. We walked around the Otrabanda side of the city and picked up souvenirs. There is a ferry that shuttles you to the other side, named Punda, which is even more picturesque. We were worried about the time since we needed to be back on the ship by 4:30 pm and decided not to go to Punda. We did not want to risk missing the ship by some inefficiency of the ferry schedule although it looked to me like it went back and forth every 10 minutes. This is our next learning that we experienced. The captain told us to be back on the ship by 4:30 for a 5:00 pm sailing. They do really leave people behind if you are late. However, they do know who is not yet back on the ship. They start announcing people's names who are late and attempt to find them. They also can see a ½ mile inland from the top of the ship and keep an eye for people because they really don't want to leave people behind. Now, you would be a fool to tempt fate at 5:00 pm, but we realized that there was no reason to be ultraconservative (like we were) and be back on the ship by 4:00 pm. We could have easily returned at the 4:30 pm embarkation time without concern and we would have gone to Punda with that extra 30 minutes. Rookie mistake... Went spent $55 on cab, $60 for snorkeling, and $15 for the underwater camera. It was cheaper than the cruise excursion and I'm sure it was far superior in quality. I felt great supporting this little local business off the cruise ship tourist-trap path. I felt like I got a little slice of Curacao that way. This was our favorite experience on our entire cruise and we want to come back to Curacao for a week. Curacao is big, so renting a car is probably a better option if you want to move around a little more than we did. Back on the boat, we ate dinner. We went to a show called Velvet Rope. The kids had a lot of sun and, with the lights dimmed down, they were falling asleep. They walked out and crashed the minute the head hit the pillow. I'd like to think it did not have something to do with the fact that the show was incoherent and the transitions were rough. Honestly, I thought the show was so bad that I had no idea what it was all about. I got back to my room and read a description and at least figured out what they were trying to do. I wandered the ship that night. I tried to find all of the little corners I had not seen before to find the last 10% of the ship. The observation point at the front of the ship on the 11th deck is cool. You can see the captain's chair where they control the ship. But, the absolute best, not to be missed experience, is to go to the 4th level. Go outside and head toward the front of the ship until you have to go up a flight of stairs. Continue until you reach the bow of the ship and get on the helicopter pad (it is very dark, but keep going). If you do this on a sea day at night, you will experience the starriest night of your life. It is absolutely gorgeous. I did this every night of the cruise from that point on and took my family. It is no wonder that 1000's of years ago, people charted the stars. They were able to see them much better than we ever could with the naked eye. Don't miss it!!! It is worth the theme park admission. Thursday, the next sea day, was more of the same. This time I got to the top of the rock wall twice. A boat like the Adventure is handy for sea days. I'm not sure what we would have done without all of those amenities. Sitting at the pool is not a big deal for us. However, there were so many things on the Adventure that we never got to experience all of them. Formal night was dressed down. My picky-eater kids did amazingly well with the dinner nearly every night. I was not thrilled that my 8 year old ate chicken nuggets and French fries every night, but she was in heaven and we were on vacation so I let her indulge. Both found food they really liked and ordered it time and time again. Reynaldo (from the Philippines) was our waiter for the last 6 days and took good care of us. Dwayne (from Jamaica) was fantastic. He took time to show my 8 year old some amazing tricks with forks and toothpicks. He really made my girls feel special. Moshen was our headwaiter from Tunisia. He was pleasant and stopped by to say hi once each night. Honestly, I have no idea what his job was other than a little chit chat. You tip the headwaiter for his services, but I still don't know what that was for. That is something we never learned on this trip. That night we went to another show. This one was music based. It was interesting, but we, again, were tired. This time we all stepped out early. Friday, we arrived at St. Maarten. We grabbed a cab and went to Orient Beach on the French side. Everything was Dutch so far on this trip. So, now we wanted to go French. For $25 we got dropped off at the Bikini Beach section of the beach. We wandered a little bit looking for a place to drop our stuff down. We saw some nice loungers and walked over to Kakao Beach. The loungers (2) and umbrella were $25 for the front row and $20 anywhere behind. We got the front row. We got there early. Before it gets crowded the people from Club Orient, the nude part of the beach, like to wander up the shore fully nude. These are the few exhibitionists. We had to have a little chat with our girls to explain what that was all about. We made no big deal out of it, so the girls did not either. After 9:30 am, we did not see any more fully nude wanderers. All of these folks are well over 50 years old. There were some topless women on the beach. This comprised itself of less than 5% of the women and they were primarily French women over 50. We were surprised that this was the first place that we had seen any topless women. We thought we would have seen more on the cruise since Aruba and Curacao are also European influenced islands. The beach was gorgeous and is now my wife's favorite. We stayed until 2 pm. We headed back to Phillipsburg to do some shopping. Alain was our driver and he liked to talk so we had some fun. I sat in the front seat with him. He told us about the island, the people, what it is like to live there, the relationship with the French, European investment on the island, etc. It was all very interesting. Shopping in St. Maarten was pretty good. Prices seem to be better than any of the other islands. We were not "jonesing" jewelry or anything. Shopping is not my idea of a vacation endeavor, but we just wanted a couple simple memories and I wanted to sample the town. From there, we walked back to the boat. It was a 15 minutes walk. Another lesson learned was that the water taxi is a cute idea, but if you are not averse to walking, you'll probably get into town faster by foot. We should have rented a car in St. Maarten. They were cheap. Our tablemates got one for $55 and roamed the island while we spent $45 on taxi fare and went to 2 places. Next time I'll rent a car. The other thing we would do differently is eat at the second seating. We noticed that the early dinner impeded on a number of things. Sail aways from the ports were missed, sunsets were missed, and hurrying back to the port was a hassle with dinner right on the heels at 6:00 pm. Even with the kids, we could get a snack easily to hold us over to the late dinner. We found we were not even hungry at 6:00 pm because we tended to eat a later lunch anyway. To think that our kids would be too hungry to eat at 8:30 pm on a cruise ship is ridiculous. There is food everywhere! Woof! I don't know what we were thinking. Saturday, we arrived in St. Thomas. We had breakfast at the buffet. It was crazy up there because the dining room was not serving breakfast. It was hard to get a place to sit. The dining room was being used for customs/immigration. We needed to deal with customs/immigration since we are hitting a US port again. We were shocked at how efficient they have this down. We showed them our identification, they marked our passes and we are done. If you don't do this, they won't let you off the ship. They also scan your card, so they have any accounting for everyone. I saw a lady trying to convince security that she did pass through immigration, but she got sent back because she did not have the marking on her card. They need everyone to do this so they can "clear" the ship. Once off into St. Thomas, we decided to change our plans and go to Magen's Bay. We hopped into an open air taxi. The taxi drivers are loud, rough, and aggressive. You pile into their taxi until it is full and off they go. It is $8 per person to Magen's Bay including kids and it is regulated by the government. There is no other way to get there other than renting a car. This is St. Thomas' solution to provide employment to the island. There are a lot of taxi drivers and they wait in a long line for their turn to fill their taxi. They won't go until their cab is full. I figure they probably take 3 roundtrips a day to make a living and that is it. The rest of the time, they are off or are waiting in line for their turn. Once we got into the taxi, we're off on our 4 mile $32 ride when the taxi driver behind us accosts our taxi driver. They had a dispute over whose passengers we were supposed to be. So, we got thrown out of the cab in the middle of a hairpin turn going over the mountain and get into the other taxi. The new driver is mad so he is flying down the mountain at high speeds. I was inches away from getting gashed by the foliage in the taxi (remember that it is open aired!). We were a little scared, and I drive everyday in Puerto Rico so I'm pretty stalwart! We got to the beach and paid $3 per adult and $0.25 per child. Magen's Bay was beautiful. We laid out our towels under a sea grape tree for shade and enjoyed the beautiful tranquil beach. There were no motorized sports there, which made it peaceful. We took another taxi back for another $32 dollars to the pier (no other choice) and did a little light shopping before getting back on the ship. I will either take the bus or rent a car the next time I'm in St. Thomas. I know they drive on the left side of the road and the bus is a little bit of a walk, but I'm not willing to support that taxi business again. I felt a little "taken"and that left a bad taste in my mouth about St. Thomas even though we had a great time at the beach. That night, back on the ship, was primarily for goodbyes. We tipped everyone and packed our bags. They picked it all up from the hallway at around 1:30 am. We did see the end of another comedian show which was good. The stars were not nearly as bright since we were not far from Puerto Rico and the pollution of light from the island has a big impact on the visibility of the stars. Oh well. We got a number card in our room. They number you from 1 to 10 based upon your need to get off the ship. You get this on your final night. The folks with early flights are typically first. For some reason we had a number 2 on our departure schedule. I expected to be number 10 since we didn't need to get on any flight. Sunday morning, we got up at 7 am. We needed to shower and pack our carry-ons since our bags were already taken. We got to the buffet by 8 am and it was just as crazy as the day before. In retrospect, we should have taken the advice we got from our waiter. We should have woken up later and gone up to the buffet at 8:30 am. After eating, we found ourselves with nothing to do and we were ready to get off. We walked to front of the ship and down the stairs to the 4th floor and got right off the ship before 9 am. We handed in our customs card with no problem. They directed us to our designated bag area (Yellow 1) and we got our bags. We handed in our customs card with no problem and hit the street. We were picked up by my wife's family and headed for home. Some final thoughts: 1) There were over a 1000 kids on the ship due to the Easter holiday. The boat is designed for families. We sat with an older couple during lunch that made an off comment that they did not want to be around so many kids. If you don't want to be around children, for whatever reason, choose a more upscale cruise line. Otherwise, go with it. I did not observe anything inappropriate as far as people being inconvenienced by children. I did observe some uptight adults with extremely low thresholds of patience. 2) Yes, everything is in English and Spanish. You need to understand that you are traveling away from the mainland US between North and South America. A good percentage of the boat had Spanish speakers (roughly half), but nearly all Spanish speakers were bilingual. I am sophisticated enough in Spanish to realize that a great deal of the Spanish I heard was not Puerto Rican. Americans travel down to Puerto Rico to get on the boat, while some South and Central Americans travel up to Puerto Rico to get on the boat. Both languages are appropriate for the audience. If you don't want exposure outside of the American culture and only want to hear English, then you shouldn't leave the mainland US for travel. If you are going to travel to Puerto Rico and leave out of that port, you should expect to hear Spanish being spoken (it is the primary language of the home port). 3) I did notice that some things were not kid friendly. We did our best to respect all of the adult only aspects of the ship, but there was a moment or two where I found it very hard to do. The solarium area (adult only) is a walk through area to get access to the front of the ship. If the adults don't want kids walking through, then that is next to impossible. There are 2 large adult only Jacuzzis in the main pool area and 2 smaller ones for general use. The adult Jacuzzis are empty while the kids can't get room. I noticed some well behaved kids in the adult Jacuzzi which should have been no problem (unless they acted up), but this becomes an accommodation problem when you want to use a Jacuzzi with your kids, but can't get use of one. 4) I did not see any of the Puerto Rican dynamic I hear about in other reviews. I know the Puerto Rican culture well. While Puerto Rican people are not rude, they are inconsiderate in general. It is just not the way the culture is built and not meant with poor intent. They are, however, very warm and friendly. Interaction with other people is important and many rules of conduct are not so strict. Americans on the other hand are considerate, but can be rude. Rules are important and less value is placed on personal interaction. I did witness adequate consideration for others and thought everyone got along just fine. I think past reviews are from the intolerant complainers who expect everything to be like home. They are the ones with the big problem on this issue. The cultures are different. Just embrace it as an interesting difference. 5) The drinks are a little interesting on the ship. If you are trying to order something that is considered complimentary (lemonade, iced tea, etc.), it is only available in a few areas of the ship. You will not find them at any of the bars on the ship. They don't make it easy. You feel like the staff wants nothing to do with you if you do not want to buy a drink from them in the way that they send you away. That treatment was consistent enough for me to determine it was deliberate. Having said that, it is not that hard to get what you want once you know where to go. I did not attempt to bring any water, soda, etc. onboard and I am glad I didn't. I really did not see reason for it. I did see a person getting hassled by Security for having Kirkland water bottles on the deck while the staff was selling water. You can easily buy $1 water bottles on the islands and get water downstairs. Alcohol, on the other hand was very expensive. 6) It was a challenge to tackle an island on an 8 am to 5 pm schedule. Aruba's 1 am sailing was a noticeably nice exception. I'm guessing some of the concern is pulling in and out of some of the ports without visual light (for safety reasons) in addition to needing the time to get from one place to the next. I don't know, but it would be a big selling point if they could leave the ports later in the evening. 7) I was not able to comment much on the Adventure Ocean program because my kids did not want to do it. We signed them up and it looked interesting, but we couldn't get the kids to do it on their own. 8) Don't miss the Meet and Mingle. I felt uncomfortable about missing it during the whole cruise and definitely missed out on meeting a bunch of interesting people. In summary, we had a good experience on the cruise. The kids loved it. I did not like the captive audience aspect of cruising or the incessant marketing that goes on, but it is a good way to sample a bunch of islands. I don't think I will be a habitual cruiser like some die-hards, but I do think I'd take another to see a new set of islands before I leave the Caribbean. I like to savor my destinations and that is something that is hard to do on a cruise. However, I don't know a better way to visit a bunch of destinations in such a short period of time. I hope this helps and I'll definitely do a few things differently know that I know better. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
By way of background, we are a 50ish professional couple from California & each been on 6 previous cruises. Traveling with no kids. Fiance has been on RCL Voyager class for W. Carib cruise. I've never been on RCL previously, but ... Read More
By way of background, we are a 50ish professional couple from California & each been on 6 previous cruises. Traveling with no kids. Fiance has been on RCL Voyager class for W. Carib cruise. I've never been on RCL previously, but have liked Celebrity. Okay, we booked this cruise thru an internet agency as a post tax season getaway. Long way to travel from Ca, but cruise price & airfare were right. Too early in season for Alaska & not enough vacation time or $$$ for Europe. Flew on Sat morn via American Airlines from SF via Miami & arrived in San Juan Sat around 6 pm. Prenight hotel was Marriott Stellaris booked at $155 via Priceline. Absolutely gorgeous hotel. Just remodeled, flat screen tv, view room, beautiful pool, Tuscany restaurant in hotel was good. Left hotel Sun morning around 11:15 via cab to Pan Am pier for AOS. We got there too early at 11:30. About 150 people in line outside on a hot & humid day with no seating. Luckily the line started moving about 10 minutes after we got there. Had Set Sail passes printed at home & were on board ship by 11:50. First order of business was get up to Portofino & book dinners for Tues & Wed nights. We had a leisurely lunch in Windjammer on 11 deck and were in room around 1:45. Midship balcony on deck 7, portside. Excellent room. Brand new comfortable bedding, nice balcony, plenty of room. Found cabin attendant, Thomas & were able to ask for and receive bathrobes and 1 feather pillow for our use during the week. Thomas was always pleasant, courteous and extremely efficient. Entertained us throughout the week with his incredible towel animals. He deserved and received his above recommended gratuity. Then toured the ship. It is beautiful. Went to the dining room and discovered we were at a table for 10 in the 3rd floor Vivaldi room 4 ft. from the captain's table. The dining room is gorgeous & includes 3 levels. The staircase is unbelievable. Our tablemates included couples from NJ, Baltimore, NM, and Maine. Meals. We were main seating for dinner 6:30 on Sun & 6 pm thereafter. The food in the main dining room was better then I expected. Not up to Celebrity standards but always good. The prime rib was excellent, the duck and pork chop stood out, the onion quiche was very good, the mushrooms in puff pastry was good and the grand marnier souffle was excellent. The service could have been better. The waiter would get things, but it could take awhile. I did not enjoy having to catch the asst. waiter's attention in order to get water, coffee or bread. We also had breakfast in the main dining room 3 or 4 days. Really enjoyed it. They put tables together and we had really fun tablemates at breakfast. Simple things, but the juice and cheese danish were excellent in the dining room. We also had breakfast in Windjammer on 11 a few times. The omelette station is recommended if you want your food hot or eggs to order. Sometimes we would order coffee & juice via room service for early morn & enjoy it on the balcony before Windjammer or dining room for breakfast. Lunch was always at Windjammer and was inconsistent. Some of the food was good & some wasn't. Good pizza was always available. Before I forget, Cafe Promenade on 5 deck always had great pastries and pizza available. We had dinner at Portofino, the alternative restaurant on Tues & Wed nights. the setting, service and food were outstanding. Loved the saltimbocca & fillet and desert sampler including white chocolate creme brulee & tirimisu were great. The mushroom pasta was also super. One other thought on food, tried writing our own breakfast order on room service for breakfast in St. Thomas & got a call from room service saying NO, they were busy & only doing cold food or omelettes. Entertainment. The ice show was super. We saw it on Tuesday and Thursday. Kenny James was a headliner act and was fantastic. The Abba show was also great. The production shows were both bad & we walked out on them. Ports. Aruba was great. We booked the RCL excursion of afternoon sail, snorkel & swing which used Jolly Pirates & it was one of our best excursions ever. We're not sure if we liked the bus ride or boat ride better, both were so fun. The snorkeling at the German shipwreck was great & yes, I did do the swing. In Curacao we joined a minivan tour & were taken all over the island, including the caves. St. Maarten was mostly about shopping and pics from the water taxi. In St. Thomas we shopped and did the RCL excursion to beautiful Megan's Bay. Only glitch was the Capt announced 5 times the night before that we needed to clear immigration before disembarking in St. thomas & we would announce when that happened. He NEVER announced it & people's timing was thrown off. We met a few people that missed tours (including St. John's) because no announcement was made. Bad error! Disembarkation in san Juan was one of the smoothest we've ever had and we enjoyed touring old San Juan, El Morro & our post cruise night at El Convento. It was a great cruise & we feel RCL is a good fit for us. We booked the Panama Canal for next year while on board. Enough said. Even on Monday the San Juan airport was a challenge. It took us 1 1/2 hours to get thru. Most rigorous security we've seen. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
First off, I want to say that I used this site primarily when looking to help my parents book our first cruise. This sight was very helpful, but I admit I was concerned about people in the travel industry providing overly exaggerated ... Read More
First off, I want to say that I used this site primarily when looking to help my parents book our first cruise. This sight was very helpful, but I admit I was concerned about people in the travel industry providing overly exaggerated positive reviews, or negative ones to providing concerns for readers. I will tell you straight away that this is the first cruise I have been on, so maybe my opinions will not help much. However, I also can come at this from a unique view, not looking at comparisons and pre-established standards, but from an independent view. And you will see that my review is mostly positive, but there are definitely a few negative points too. I hope that demonstrates my candor and my interest in providing this review. I went on this cruise with my wife, my sister and her husband, and my parents. So we had age ranges from 28 to 60, and I think that is a key perspective to give in such a review. Also, my parents had both been on other cruises before (Celebrity and Princess), my wife had been on a smaller cruise ship around the Panama Canal 10 years ago, and myself, my sister, and brother-in-law had not cruised before. Others helped me with their reviews, and I hope I can do the same for any of you out there reading this, and considering this itinerary or this boat. Pre-cruise - We flew down a day early to San Juan, something I would recommend. No hassle about relying on airlines or worrying about transportation. Old San Juan is also great, and even though our cruise ship actually was in port about 10 minutes away from the Old San Juan port (something to check by the way if you are booking a hotel), you want to be in Old San Juan. It is well worth an afternoon and you can get some authentic meals and food options. We were a little bit worried about it being Cinco De Mayo, but surprisingly it was not a concern and we slept like babies. Day 1 - All I ever read about was that you can't get on the boat before 3 or 4pm, and that many say if you do it is a madhouse. Obviously this must be based in some reality of others past experience, but I will tell you that we got there at 12:30, and they were letting people in. The ship was massive, and I guess for a first cruise, I was worried about that. You will see later on that it didn't matter much. We gave our bags to the porters, and then entered the waiting area. I am not exaggerating that we waited in the porter line for no more than 4 minutes, and once in, we checked in and were through the lines and through security in no more than 10 minutes. Maybe the timing was right, or maybe there was something else, but we got there early, got on the boat right away with no hassle, and had NO lines. I wouldn't believe it after other reviews I read, but this was the case for ours at least. The greeter on the ship was great, and helped us know where we were going, plans, etc. I knew most of it from doing "research" beforehand, but even if you don't, you will find your way around even on a huge boat. There are many picture opportunities even this first day if you want them - and trust me, you can't get away from them - some are nice to do, but you may get sick by the end. For those that do cruises just to get great family pictures or shots, you will do just fine. So we got on, and went to the Windjammer for food. It was great, and buffet style. But the food was good, plenty of options, fresh vegetables and fruit, and good desserts. I am a soda-lover, but I didn't want to pay for the soda pass - and not only that, people had to carry around this goofy cup with them the whole time for soda and it was not worth it. Lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, juices in the morning, and water are always free. That was plenty, and you could save room for the food. Now mentioning the FOOD, let's get this out of the way. I was happy with the food, but it is not going to blow any of you away. Cooking for 3000 people has to be hard, but people expect 5-star dining. This is a cruise ship, nobody is paying $100 per meal for part of their package, and the food is still above most restaurant quality. The steaks are nothing to write home about, but it didn't stop me from having 3 over the week. The lobster tails are nice, and they are actually from the Northeast. Rock lobsters from down south or Mexico are not real lobsters. We are from Maine, that is the home of true lobster. These were Canadian, but they were still quality, and it is all you can eat. The prime rib was a winner, the appetizers (including soups and Caesar Salad) were all strong, and the desserts were just average. But the variety is there. We didn't try Portofino because it was $20 per person - we paid for a cruise and the dining room eating was some of the best family time of the trip - so why pay when it is essentially the same things? We also didn't try Johnny Rockets, which I was bummed about. It looked and smelled good, but was isolated on the ship, and there was a fee. We are not cheap, but when food is free everywhere else, why go there? And there were fries, burgers, and hot dogs every day at the windjammer. I don't need a song and funny hats to make my experience better. Windjammer breakfast was good (with omelets being the top), lunch was not the greatest for you but there were healthy options, and we did dinner every night in the dining room. We also did room service one morning for breakfast before an excursion, and they were right on time, friendly, and the food was basic but good. Cafe Promenade was open 24 hours, and they always had good munchies. It had great little sandwiches and pizza, and an easy hit for a snack or to supplement another meal if necessary. Options were plentiful, and you will not go away from this cruise hungry. I think the food on Celebrity and other upscale smaller boats probably is a key difference in the positive for them. But we still enjoyed it, and again, multiple courses cures anything in my mind at least. On to Day 1 (Part 2) - our bags were at our room an hour after we checked-in! Again, maybe we were just lucky, but they were on top of it and this was with NO SUITE OR SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR EXTRA MONEY. Some way that is worth it to pay more for a suite, but our service was second to none for a regular room. We each had balconies, which I HIGHLY recommend. The rooms were huge, spacious, bathrooms tight but ample, and the beds were great. But the balcony was key. We saw some other rooms, and the only ones I didn't like was the inside rooms over the Promenade. Yeah, it is a fun view, but it is loud, always busy, and I like my sleep. We did dinner that night and met two HIGHLIGHTS of our trip - the dining room staff Richard (our waiter) and Isabeth (our Assistant Waiter). They blew us away, joking around and funny with our table (which have a good time), but could be more reserved with older tables or those that took themselves way too seriously - a cheap shot, but it is true. Every night we looked forward to them being there, and they bust their humps 110% every night. But they stay friendly, nice, helpful, and we formed a rapport with them. You know already I can be thrifty, but on top of the suggested tip, we gave them more - that is how good they truly were. We also had a table right next to the window on the fourth floor overlooking the water. We didn't ask for it, it was selected for us, the 6 of us together, and we loved it. If possible to ask for it, I would recommend it. We then toured the boat a little bit, the promenade is not nearly as cheesy or tacky as I thought, and had just the right amount of tackiness to make it fun. I did the casino, and won't give details like everybody else about each night's winnings and losings (although at the end of the trip, I was down only about $125 - not bad for a few nights worth I guess...) And we went to bed early. Day 2 - at sea - This was more exploring, we got up and got the seats early, and then went back to the windjammer for breakfast and took it back to our seats to eat outside. Adults, enjoy the Solarium pool! It is the best part of the outside, a cool little pool that never gets crowded, seats somewhat in the shade, and more peace and quiet with no bellyflop competitions or the like. Some reviews made it sound like it was covered - but the pool is not covered, some of the seats have covering for the rain I guess. Just wanted to clear that up, as I was confused by it. This is the best pool, though, and you will enjoy it. We went to the fitness center (my wife and I did this 4 days on the trip), and the facilities were great. As others have said, there was no wait, and the only weird part was that on some days with the boat rocking, running became an adventure. I run every day normally, and I thought the equipment was top shelf. Classes like yoga and spinning cost money, which I think is cheap after what people pay for this cruise at times - but that is your option of another activity. We did mini golf, checked out the rollerblading rink, did the rock well (my first time, and I loved it), checked out the bars, and most of the sights. It was never hard to get a seat, and not nearly as crowded as people made it out to be. A great day to relax to be honest on the boat without feeling pressure to get off for an excursion. Day 3 - Aruba - This was a nice day, we did the room service and got ready for horseback riding. I would not recommend it. It was $85, the stretch along the beach was nice, but the people at the ranch were not the friendliest, and even worse, there were a few issues with my halter and reigns that they tied up wrong, and it caused the horse to buck a few times with them just telling me to "keep going". If I were not an average horse rider and were a first-timer, I could have fallen off. It was fun and a good excursion overall, but the 20 minute approach (and return) to and from the beach were through a residential area and construction, and it was very unpleasant. We had fun because of our group, but you can do this on most islands, and I wasn't impressed here. Actually, I hear the resort part of Aruba is great, but I didn't like the port where we were. It was bars, industrialized buildings, and didn't seem that clean. So we got on the boat upon our return and enjoyed the afternoon back on the boat. We got tickets for the ice show too this night (for night 4, but you have to pick them up). Most of the shows are after 10pm, and we go to bed early to get up early, so I can't tell you much. But the ice show was the highlight. And we also did some ice skating this day, and although the skates they give you were cheap and poorly constructed, this is neat to be doing this on a boat where it is 90 degrees outside. We played some shuffleboard (hidden on deck 4), and then went to bed. Day 4 - Curacao - I can't tell you much about this day, as I found a great hidden gem of a beach there that had no tourists, and definitely no people from the cruise. It was 30 minutes away, and we paid 120 for the 6 of us (round trip). It was the nicest beach I have seen other than when I traveled to the Great Barrier Reef. Incredible Scuba, great food, and facilities were all right there. Do your research, as there are many hidden gems - do NOT go to where they take you that are tourist traps or chaos of crowds. This town we enjoyed in the afternoon when we returned from the beach, and it was worth it. You can't do a whole day here, but great for a few hours. Everybody goes nuts at all of these islands for cigarettes, alcohol, jewelry, etc - it is a vacation, spend some money, but you have to haul all of this crap back. Good deals, but worth that hassle? I don't think so. And honestly, you really don't know with the jewelry, but that is your risk. We enjoyed shopping for unique things on the island, not looking for the big deal or wasting our time. Day 5 - at sea again - great planning on their part to split it up this way, another relaxing day on the boat. We did have a few members of our party sick with the stomach bug. It made it tough, but they relaxed outside, and were better a couple of days later. My wife and I were fine, and we liked the days at sea. Some complain about more islands, but this is vacation - what is wrong with relaxing? Day 6 - St. Maarten - Bottom line is that we would vacation specifically on the island of St. Maarten again in the future - and for a whole week - it was that nice and unique. One person in our group went deep sea fishing, but it was expensive, and the boat was very rocky with the waves. He had fun, but I didn't get the most glowing review. My wife and I did the Treetop adventure of ziplines, ladders, etc. If you think you want to maybe do this - DO IT. HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP for off-boat activity! It is physically challenging, but doable for anybody. But it is in a rainforest, so you get to see both the French and Dutch sides of the island, do this incredible adventure in a beautiful place, and it is so worth the money. This one is a no brainer, and my wife and I would do it again. This island is incredible and really won us over. Day 7 - St. Thomas - More jewelry and watches, oooh. So what? We found a beach that was nice and nothing that special. But they are all over the place, and just the open-aired buses and taxis that everybody takes makes it worth heading somewhere. We did the town in the afternoon, and every other (and that is an under-exaggeration if anything) store was a jewelry shop. But the little tents set up for local goods, knock-off coach purses (which I thought were even better than on the streets of NYC) and some stores were fun. A gorgeous town right on the water, but nothing that will blow you away. Other random thoughts - Bingo is fun, but a rip off. Some people did it every night. It was $35 a card for only 6 games, and my sister won a game, and the payout was only $150! They had 200 people in the room, and the payoffs covered probably 1/3 of the card fees - I am not lying about this. I wouldn't do it again and wouldn't recommend it. Find the Blue Moon - nicest bar, quiet with nobody ever there, and some great shows. On the 14th floor, you have to earn it, but enjoy it. Watch the boat leave port from San Juan - it is neat with the lights at that time of night. Fitness Center and pools are great, and the variety of bars is great. You will not feel overwhelmed on this ship, although the size does affect food quality slightly, and may also make it hard for some (not us) with getting on or off the boat. In terms of getting off the boat, we waited in line for 30 minutes (this isn't great, but manageable), then found our luggage, and waited 10 minutes for a cab. We were sorry to leave, but feel that our timing and attitude helped us make the most of it. The rooms are great, go for the balcony, but the suites were saw were nothing that much more incredible. More money for little extra value. Many may disagree, but I am glad we didn't go for the suites. The staff members are great - and tip them accordingly. They add 15% to the drinks bill, so don't do more (be careful about this), but with end of trip tips, they work their behinds off and deserve the little amount RC offer recommends. In conclusion, I realized one major fact on this cruise and through the process (not to mention the fact that I am anal retentive and therefore kept an eye on reviews, what others had to say, other experiences, etc.): You will get out of a cruise what you put into it, and you have to realize that sometimes there are variables that nobody can control. By that I mean that with people sick, with doing cruise excursions and some on our own, with the weather being good in general (but knowing you can never really know), with us being assigned incredible dining room staff to help make the experience better, etc. - we each got what we wanted out of it, enjoying the great things, and making the most of some minor inconveniences. Those people who complained about X, Y, and Z and then were surprised their luggage was lost - I think they deserved it to some extent. People think that the service industry should bow to whatever you want. On this boat, the staff was incredible, but that doesn't mean you have a blank check for every little thing. Some people were acting that way, and therefore maybe didn't enjoy it or thought the service wasn't as good - but they were complaining and negative to start. We had sick people in our group, and even they came away so positive with the experience. And also, as I mentioned before, control what you can control. The weather forecast for the 8 days of the trip had either showers or scattered showers every day. We saw a grand total of 30 minutes of rain. Some boats may have a bunch of families on that week (not necessarily the cruise line, but the specific cruise). I wouldn't have ideally liked that, and it wasn't that way on our boat, but if it is, you take that chance. You take that chance going to even a resort, where some company of young meatheads could be celebrating their yearly performance by drinking and cursing all over the hotel pool. It happens - vacation is not a guarantee as much as we want it to be. At the end of the day, Royal Caribbean, and at least this boat, did all they could to make the experience incredible, have the staff go above and beyond, provide excellent facilities, and offer suggestions. Some of the best parts of the trip - including hidden beaches - I found on my own through the internet. This will not be handed to you, as again, you get out of it what you put in. Every couple in our group had different expectations and plans for this trip - and for the most part, we got out of it what we wanted. Thank you for that Royal Caribbean, and as a first-time cruiser, I will tell you that I will absolutely cruise again, I would do so on Royal Caribbean, and it exceeded my expectations by far. If anybody has more questions, feel free to email (poiuypoiuy8989@yahoo.com) and I'll you what I know, what we experienced, etc. I'm a first-timer, but this will not be my last. And hopefully that helps some of you make a decision for or against such a trip... Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
REVIEWER'S BACKGROUND My wife and I reside in Wappingers Falls, New York (90 miles north of New York City on the Hudson) and have cruised on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean in the past. Our children are grown and we have been taking ... Read More
REVIEWER'S BACKGROUND My wife and I reside in Wappingers Falls, New York (90 miles north of New York City on the Hudson) and have cruised on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean in the past. Our children are grown and we have been taking annual cruises to celebrate our anniversary and just to relax from our busy jobs. OUR ITINERARY DATE PORT ARRIVE DEPART Sept 22 Caribe Hilton, San Juan 1:00 PM Sept 23 San Juan, Puerto Rico 8:30 PM Sept 24 Day at Sea Sept 25 Bridgetown, Barbados 8:00 AM 5:00 PM Sept 26 Castries, St. Lucia 8:00 AM 4:30 PM Sept 27 St. Johns, Antigua 8:00 AM 5:00 PM Sept 28 Philipsburg, St. Maarten 8:00 AM 5:00 PM Sept 29 Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas 7:00 AM 5:00 PM Sept 30 San Juan, Puerto Rico 8:00 AM SATURDAY 09/22/2007 (San Juan, Puerto Rico) We flew American Airlines from Bradley International Airport, Hartford Connecticut to the Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico arriving at 11:35AM. The flight was smooth and uneventful. We typically fly in a day before our cruise is scheduled to depart to avoid any unforeseen flight delays. From the airport we took a taxi to the Caribe Hilton with a cost of $25.00 for the two of us and four bags with tip. The hotel is located at Los Rosales St, San Geronimo Grounds, San Juan on the Atlantic ocean. The water front was spectacular. A sequence of pools progress from a shallow kiddie pool up level by level to a swim up bar. A small waterfall separated two of the pools. A spacious beach wraps a small bay. Very picturesque. We chose this hotel to start our vacation based on our on-line research and positive customer feedback. We were not disappointed. The room was spacious and clean with a balcony that faced the ocean. The staff were very attentive and friendly. We paid $135.00 for the night using my company discount. That evening we ate dinner at one of the on-site restaurants called the Madrid-San Juan. The atmosphere was warm and our server was very pleasant and attentive. We enjoyed the Spanish cuisine and tapas with a lovely Rioja wine. SUNDAY 09/23/2007 (San Juan, Puerto Rico) We woke up early from the anticipation of our cruise and went to the Olas Spa health club to head off a few of the anticipated pounds. The club contained modern aerobic equipment along with an array of specialized machines and free weights. After exercising, we went to the Olas Health Bar Cafe for breakfast. We were the only ones in the seating area which overlooked the ocean and gardens of the hotel. All the menu selections were healthy and reasonably priced. My favorite was the banana and rum flavored pancakes. We were happy to learn the hotel had a 10:00 AM Roman Catholic mass on site saving us the effort of locating a church. The priest made the small number of attendees feel at home. After the half hour mass, we spent time relaxing in a hammock under the palm trees. It was a great way to kill some time before heading to the Pan American pier. The taxi to the pier cost $20.00 for the two of us and four bags with tip. When we arrived at the pier, the first thing we noticed was the long line of people. It appeared to stretch the length of the building. As we approached the line we noticed a booth off to the side for Platinum and Diamond Crown & Anchor members. As we fall into this category we were able to check our bags and head inside the terminal relatively quickly. The check in process was quick and well rehearsed. This was enhanced as we had completed our paperwork on-line and printed our SetSail Pass before leaving home. We were soon heading up the gangway to board the Adventure of the Seas. There was a photographer located on a bend in the gangway, but we elected not to get our picture taken. After crossing over and into the ship, we heard the familiar "bing" of the security check point welcoming us aboard. We were informed that the cabins would not be available until 1:00 PM, but we decided to swing by to see if ours was ready early. It wasn't so we went to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. After reviewing the buffet choices and making our selections, we secured a table by the window. We took this opportunity to talk of our plans for the week while enjoying lunch and the view of San Juan. After lunch we went to our stateroom to see where we would call "home" for the next week. Since my wife and I prefer the front of the ship, we had selected cabin category D1 stateroom number 1234 on deck 10. It was a clean and comfortable room with a balcony. Upon entering, there is a large closet on the right with shelves (The tuxedo I had arranged previously on-line was already in the room). On the left is a bathroom with shower of average cruise ship size. Further into the stateroom on the left is a sofa with small table. Across from the sofa is a built in wall unit that contains drawers for storage, a large mirror with sections that open for additional storage, a stocked mini refrigerator and television. Further in was a comfortable queen size bed with a small night stand on each side. The exterior wall contained a large sliding glass door that lead out to an ample size balcony with two chairs and a small side table. We had no sooner finished checking out our stateroom when we were welcomed by our cabin steward, Lyna. She was very pleasant and would prove to be very good at her job. With time to kill before the Muster Drill at 6:00 PM, we decided to check out the ship. We went to the Shipshape Fitness Center and Spa. The Fitness Center on deck 11 was well laid out with a view of the outside from just about every position. All the equipment appeared relatively new and in good working order. We did not see much of the spa on deck 12 as there was a long line of folks waiting for a tour. We decided not to wait. Heading aft we passed through the Solarium on deck 11. The Solarium is our favorite place. It is an adult only quiet place with one large hot tub located on each side of the ship with a pool in the middle. The bar is at the aft end of the pool. The lounge chairs have comfortable cloth padding and are located throughout. Passing through the automatic doors into the main pool area there are two large pools and four hot tubs. There is a bar and stage at the forward end along with multi-level sun decks. We then went down to deck 8 to Royal Caribbean Online. There were ample computers to go around, but that would be a problem as we learned later in the week. We then made our way to the dining room. The main floor of the dining room is located on deck 3 and extends up through decks 4 and 5 which wrap around a huge crystal chandelier. We noticed table sizes from two up and shapes of square, round and oval. The chairs were in an elegant, warm wood tone with cloth seat and back. Heading to deck 5 we arrived at the aft end of the promenade. Walking the promenade we noted shops, bars, the excursion desk, guest relations, shops and bars. This multi-story open walkway leaves one with the impression of a downtown street having shops and stores on the main level and residences on the levels above. We could see folks looking down on the promenade from their rooms. They will have a birds eye view of the upcoming activities on the promenade. When we reached the forward end, we looped through the Lyric theater on decks 3 & 4. A large multi-story space with comfortable seats throughout. Most seats have a clear view of the theater with only a few blocked by columns. Not long after we returned to our stateroom, our luggage arrived. This was good as we wanted to unpack and get settled in as much as possible before dinner. We were just about unpacked and most of the suitcases tucked away under the bed when we heard the Muster (Lifeboat) drill signal. Donning our life jackets we headed to Muster station A1 located on the starboard side of the Imperial Lounge on deck 5. This was relatively quick and was well organized. Before we knew it, we were back in our stateroom wrapping up the unpacking we had started earlier. My wife and I prefer Main seating for dinner as we enjoy eating before heading to the show followed by some dancing. It was a casual attire evening so we found our way down to the Strauss Dinning Room on deck 4. Our table (#482) was located on the port side immediately after entering the dining room. The folks we would be dining with for the upcoming week had already arrived. This first meeting is always awkward as we introduce ourselves and get to know each other. The three other couples were very nice. We shared stories of our lives and plans for the up coming week. Our waiter Yurkhan Vashi was outstanding! She was always there to get whatever you wanted and to banter about your day. I highly recommend her to anyone. Our assistant waiter Duran spoke only a few times and restricted his presence to serving bread at the start of dinner and tea or coffee at the end of the meal. Our maitre'd was very personable and made a point of stopping by each evening to ask if there was anything he could do for us. Unfortunately, I do not remember his name. My dinner was OK. My wife had the chef's recommendation for the evening, which was a seafood dish, that tasted like old fish that had been in the freezer for too long. Definitely under par from prior dinners on this cruise line. As we sailed from San Juan's Pan American pier at 8:30 PM, we chose to relax on our balcony and watch the night time city fade into the distance while calling home (Before we left home we had made arrangements with our wireless carrier Verizon for Wireless Maritime Services). We then went down to the Lyric theater deck 3 for the "Welcome Aboard" Show. The show was introduced by the ships Entertainment Director, Pierce Ivan. Pierce was very energetic and personally involved in much of the entertainment throughout the week, something we had not experienced on any of our prior cruises. The show was okay. It had an acrobatic couple called Duo Ignatov who performed a series of balancing/juggling routines. A comedian named Miguel Washington did a set of ghetto comedy. He was just okay. Miguel was scheduled to do an adult show at midnight, but we did not attend. The Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers did an introduction show that was average. Afterwards we went back to our room for an early night. MONDAY 09/24/2007 (Day at Sea) After a restful night, I awoke and checked my cellphone to see what time it was. My wife wanted to participate in the 7:30 AM Sunrise Stretch and I wanted to hit one of the elliptical machines in the Shipshape Fitness Center. My phone showed 6:00 AM so we slept in a little longer. We awoke at 7:15 AM and headed to the Shipshape Fitness Center. Then it hit us... Ships time and my cellphone were off by an hour. It was actually an hour later than my phone displayed. Since we were already at the fitness center, we spent a few minutes on the elliptical machines. On the way to breakfast, we decided to detour to Studio 'B' on deck 3 to pick up a couple of Ice Show tickets. The line was just forming when we arrived and it moved quickly. We selected the Tuesday 9:00 PM show. These tickets are free, but because of the size of Studio 'B' they limit the attendance. With tickets in hand, we enjoyed some breakfast before heading to our room. To make the most of the day at sea, we decided to while away the hours in the Solarium. We found a couple of lounge chairs out of the sun, next to the windows and settled in for some quiet time. We had our books and magazines and a desire to unwind from residual work stress. All was going along nicely until some folks from the main pool area decided that the Solarium was better place to hang out with their children. The only problem is that this is an adult-only area. One child ran back and forth along the side isle yelling. Two other children were in the hot tub. The parents were not paying any attention to the children and I was surprised that the crew did little or nothing to remedy the situation. Since it did not look like anything was going to be done, we went back to our room where it was quiet. This evening was the first Formal dinner so we decided to get ready a little early. We wanted some extra time to be able to attend the Meet & Mingle held in the Blue Moon Lounge on deck 14. The Meet & Mingle was fantastic! We met some great folks that we had only known from their postings on CruiseCritic.com. We realized how small the world really is when we learned that one of the women was actually the mother-in-law of a member of our yacht club back home. We then went to dinner showing up fashionably late (this would be our forte for the week). Service was excellent and the conversation interesting. It is amazing how many different things folks can do in one day on the ship. The food was good, but not outstanding. After dinner we went up to deck 12 to sit under the stars and placed a wireless call to our children. After a little catching up with home, we headed to the Lyric Theater to attended the 9:00 PM Revolution "Tribute to the Beatles" show. It was outstanding. The best Beatles show I have seen since Beatlemania. The music and wardrobes were so realistic it was as if the fab four were on board. The videos of old commercials and movie clips that supplied some background visuals really brought back old memories. We highly recommend this show. TUESDAY 09/25/2007 (Bridgetown, Barbados) We arrived in Bridgetown, Barbados about 8:00 AM and settled alongside a very industrial looking dock. Warehouses, shipping containers and cars lined the port. After a quick breakfast in the Windjammer (they have good custom made omelets), we were off the ship and listening to the welcoming sound of a steel drum band. Traversing down the dock and into the main terminal, we made our way to the excursion gathering area. The wait was not long before we were loaded onto a small bus and on the way to our "Malibu Beach Break" excursion. We typically book our excursions through the cruise line, especially in a new port of call. We take comfort in knowing the excursion is legitimate and that we have no issues with the ship departing without us. After a relatively short ride, we arrived at our destination. Malibu beach was accessed through a small Caribbean flavored building which housed a small gift shop. Progressing through the store we headed down a wide path lined with small buildings to the beach. We had been warned that there would be locals on the beach that were not affiliated with Malibu who will try to sell us things and services. This was the case, but when you told them you were not interested, they politely left you alone. They were offering everything from jet ski rentals to natural aloe foot massages. This excursion included a beach lounge chair for each of us and a large beach umbrella to share. It also included one complimentary drink each and a tour of the distillery with rum tasting. We elected to take the first distillery tour of the day. It was an in depth tour of the physical facility and Malibu's history. It also included a humorous and informative video (about 8 minutes) about making rum. The tour wrapped up with a rum tasting. Our guide was very personable and knowledgeable. We recommend this tour. We then returned to our lounge chairs to enjoy the rest of the morning on the beach. We did attempt a little snorkeling just off the beach, but the water was murky and there was a lot of boat activity. We gave up quickly and returned to our chairs for some rum punch. All in all, a very relaxing morning. Once back on the ship, we grabbed some lunch at the Windjammer. One thing that appeared to be a little odd to us was that not many people left the ship in each port. There was always a fair amount of people on the ship throughout the day. This resulted in the need to circle the Windjammer a couple of times to find an open table. After lunch, we headed back to the terminal for a little shopping. The terminal was set up in a U shape and resembled a small one story mall with an array of local shops. We picked up a few souvenirs and returned to the ship. Back on board, we went back to the Solarium and today it was very quiet and relaxing. Tonight was casual or Caribbean dress for dinner. Our waiter and maitre'd continued to make our dining experience enjoyable. The food and choices were good. After dinner it was up to deck 12 to find our favorite quiet spot to call home. Once we had caught up with the family we went to the "Cool Art, Hot Ice" show at 9:00 PM. This was a a great show and was well worth picking up the tickets the day before. We went to Royal Caribbean Online on deck 8 to check some email and regretted it moments after arriving. The mouse was on a leather desk top that stuck like glue. We noticed that the speed of the connection was inversely proportional to the number of people who were logged on. Our connection went from being slow to almost stopped. We gave up after a few minutes. Since Royal Caribbean charges by the minute, I don't see them fixing the connection speed anytime soon. Later that evening we went to the "Dancing under the Stars" Deck Party at 11:30 PM Pool side on deck 11. The crew were busy setting up the two buffet lines, one down each side of the ship. There was an array of food from fruits to chicken and ribs to various deserts. My wife and I could not wait to sample the fare as we waited for the lines to be opened. The lines opened and we stood in one spot for what felt like forever without moving. We started looking around for the reason for the delay. The cause was that people were cutting in line a little further up by the buffet table. The crew did not appear to notice or care until people in line started complaining. The crew then blocked off the access points, but this did not stop the line cutters. They simply went to the exit end of the line and walked in. When we finally got to the buffet, we selected a few choice treats and took them back to our balcony to enjoy in quiet. The food was good and we called it a night soon afterwards. WEDNESDAY 09/26/2007 (Castries, St. Lucia) For some reason, I woke up early and decided to go out onto the balcony. Since we had a room on the starboard side of the ship, I was able to watch the sun rise over the pitons as we sailed up the western coast of St. Lucia. Well worth the loss of a few moments sleep. It wasn't long before we reached Castries and the captain had us safely at the dock. The port had a very lush Caribbean look and feel with a small airstrip across the bay. We had an average breakfast in the Windjammer of fruit, oatmeal and eggs then made our way off the ship to our "Coastal Cruise to the Pitons" excursion. We boarded what appeared to be about a 50' catamaran and found a comfortable spot on the front deck. We no sooner settled in and we were off sailing south toward the pitons. The view of the island of St. Lucia and the water was beautiful. The crew of the catamaran pointed out the points of interest along the way while Caribbean music played. As we approached the pitons their enormity and natural beauty were more than we had expected. The pitons had an inverted cone shape that reached over 2000 feet into the air. The catamaran pulled along side a local dock at the base of the pitons. After a few minutes wait, the crew had some locally made treats loaded aboard. Off we went, back up the coast toward our origin enjoying the music and some rum cake. About two thirds the way back we pulled up on a small beach for some swimming. As we were approaching, the catamaran was quickly surrounded by locals on small boats and kayaks looking to sell sea shells, beads and renting snorkeling equipment. We were not sure how well the snorkeling equipment was sterilized between customers, so we did not partake. My wife and I enjoyed a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water for about a half hour before returning to the ship. Very relaxing. It was now par for the course to have to circle the Windjammer at least once before finding a table to have lunch. Following lunch we left the ship to peruse the shopping area located adjacent to the dock. We found some good souvenirs and were happy with the quality. The people were very friendly and helpful. Later that afternoon we attended the Crown & Anchor members party in the Imperial Lounge on deck 5 where we enjoyed some rum punch and listened to Captain Tommy Nyseter thank the members and talk about the ship. The Loyalty Ambassador took the opportunity to discuss options to book future cruises. It was crowded, but the crew made everyone feel welcome and at home. Tonight was casual or 70's attire night for dinner. Dinner was very pleasant with usual exceptional service from Yurkhan. After a call home, we went to the show in the Lyric theater on deck 3. It was the first production show of the cruise and was called "Jackpot". The performance was disappointing. It was a series of disjointed dance routines that felt unnaturally crammed together. The performers looked awkward and the songs did not enhance their voices. It was one of the worst shows we have ever seen. The "70's Disco Street Party" kicked off at 10:30 PM on the Promenade. It was a wild sea of people. The music was great and fun abounded everywhere. Pierce Ivan the Entertainment Director was one of the Village People in an excellent rendition of YMCA. This was the first time we saw an Entertainment Director actually participate in the entertainment itself. Afterwards we went to Studio 'B' on deck 3 to participate in "The Quest" game show. I will not divulge the fun and wildness that goes on here, but will highly advise attending if you get the chance. You will not be disappointed. THURSDAY 09/27/2007 (St. Johns, Antigua) It is becoming a habit for me to wake up early and watch our ship make it's way along the coast to our next destination. Today I watched as the captain slowly maneuvered our ship through the narrow channel of St Johns, Antigua and gently rest our ship against the dock. I had been looking forward to this day all week long. It is the day that I am going zip lining in the rain forest. Before leaving home, I researched the various zip line experiences and the Antigua Rainforest Company (http://www.antiguarainforest.com/index.htm) came out a clear winner. This place just opened December 2006 and the equipment reflected the newness. The staff were well trained and stressed "safety first, safety last with fun in the middle". An important feature I liked was the double cable system. It eliminated any potential cable concerns. This was the "Canopy Tour" excursion and I would highly recommend it. Even though it rained while in the rain forest and we could not do the challenge part of the course (safety concerns due to the wetness) it did not dampen the experience. I will most definitely do it again on my next visit to Antigua. My wife decided to pamper herself at the Shipshape Spa while I was out on the excursion. She was warmly greeted upon arriving at the spa and after completing a personal history form, she was escorted to a private room to start her session. My wife chose the Port Special Trio ($99.00) selecting the Scalp Massage, Seaweed Wrap and the Hot Stone Massage. The female spa staff person was well versed at her job and made her feel comfortable. My wife had been warned that the spa members would try to push their products at the end of the session and she was not disappointed. The staff person stopped pushing when she declined. My wife enjoyed her spa experience and would definitely do it again. After meeting up, we took a quick lap around the Windjammer to locate a table and we were seated for lunch. Each day my wife and I would take turns selecting deserts while the other would hold possession of the table. It was interesting and a little exciting to see what deserts would be brought back or which to select. I still can't believe how many people don't leave the ship. This is unlike any of our prior cruise experiences. Tonight was the second formal dinner night and since we were all dressed up, we decided to have our picture taken. The photographer had moved one of the reclining couches from in front of the dinning room as a prop for the photographs. It had the makings of a unique setting for a picture. Unfortunately, we did not end up purchasing the pictures as we noticed a few things we would have liked to correct before hand. A mirror at the photographer's station would have been handy. We arrived at dinner late because of the pictures, but by now everyone at our table expected us to be the last ones there. It was our signature. On prior cruises, lobster and fillet mignon were served on the second formal night, but not his cruise. Those menu items would be available tomorrow night. This struck us as a little odd. I know by now I must sound like a broken record, but I can't say enough how wonderful our waiter was. Always there, anticipating your every need and pleasant to talk to. After dinner my wife and I headed up to the Blue Moon Lounge on Deck 14 for the Crown & Anchor Platinum/Diamond Recital. This was excellent. The Royal Caribbean band played some classical music while we sat at a table by the window enjoying the music, the view and of course the rum punch. Membership sure does have it's perks. We attended the 9:00 PM performance in the Lyric Theater where Greg Bonham was performing his "Up From Down Under" show. He had a good voice, but I could not help thinking that this was nothing more than a glorified lounge act. I was not impressed. We stayed to the end in anticipation that it had to get better. It didn't. Tonight was the Late Night Buffet, but the doors to the dining room would not open until 11:00 PM. To help pass the time, my wife and I went to Jesters Nightclub on deck 3 & 4 for some romantic dancing. The place was quite empty, but this did not bother us. Most times we had the dance floor to ourselves. At 11:00PM the music changed to 90's Old school and this was fine with us as we wanted to head back to the dining room to view the buffet. As we made our way down the main dining room stairs, the buffet opened up before us. But something was different. We were mentally comparing what we saw to late night buffets we had seen on our prior cruises. The food was still impeccably well crafted. The ice sculptures were elaborately carved, but something was missing. That's it... there was a lot less of just about everything. When you viewed the tables, you saw more tablecloth than you saw food. I understand the need to scale back if the expectation is that it would not be eaten, but at least make an effort to arrange the tables and food displays not to emphasize the reduction. We realize there are many hours that go into the food preparation and we really do appreciate it. Our concern was that the display should have had an equal amount of effort. On prior cruises we have come back to the dining room to eat and enjoy the food at the midnight buffet, we saw the crowds hanging at the back of the dining room after viewing and were concerned that we would experience the same issues of line cutting as at the island buffet earlier in the week. Instead, we grabbed a couple of cookies and some milk from Cafe Promenade and headed to our room. We enjoy ending our day sitting on the balcony for a few minutes and just winding down. FRIDAY 09/28/2007 (Philipsburg, St. Maarten) Again up early and today I saw a rainbow as our ship approached the Philipsburg, St. Martin dock. One end of the rainbow was firmly mounted in the mainland and the other end disappeared into the Caribbean sea. It was so clear that one would half expect to see a pot of gold. Color was the theme this morning as the beautiful turquoise hue of the water begged a peek of the sea bottom. Kudos to Captain Tommy for bringing such a massive ship up to the dock with such gentleness. We did not have an excursion planned for today, so we had made an appointment to meet with the Loyalty Ambassador, Jorge Bustos at 8:30 AM. When we arrived, Jorge welcomed us and offered us a seat. We had some questions about Caribbean cruises, but no brochures were available. According to Jorge, while he was out on vacation the person who was covering failed to order them. He did print out the itinerary for a few different cruises for our review. When we asked about Royal Caribbean's sister line Celebrity, Jorge was not able to answer our questions. We stated that we had noticed a couple of things about this cruise that we felt were not quite up to par. We noted that the level of service was not consistent across the ship. The violation of Solarium rules, crew that paid little attention to people cutting in line, etc. We noted that the public announcements were made in two languages. This is a good idea, but the execution left much to be desired. The ones in English were mechanical and purely informational while the ones in Spanish came across as an interactive event. Whether this was the difference between the Captain's style and the International Ambassador, Carolina Cubillas' style or not, it left us with the impression that the Spanish speaking passengers were more important. We were told this is what to expect when sailing out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We learned that local residents of Puerto Rico can come down to the pier the morning of a departing cruise and get some fantastic deals (few hundred dollars) if you don't mind taking whatever staterooms are not booked. This information possibly explains the focused communications. It supplies a possible reason why the ship is so crowded. Folks who have taken advantage of these minimal rates appear to be on board for an inexpensive vacation and not necessarily the ports or any expectation of four star service and customer care. As a result, the staff and crew appear to adjust their level of service accordingly. We also suspect that tipping becomes a low priority for people who are just trying to have a last minute, inexpensive getaway. From other cruise reviews and from discussions with fellow passengers, we don't appear to be the only ones who feel this way. We don't agree that we should adjust our cruise experience expectations based on the port we sail out of. Jorge appeared relieved when his next appointment arrived and we had to leave. Needless to say, we walked away without booking anything. After some breakfast we took a Water Taxi over to the main part of Philipsburg. This is a great deal. For $5.00 you receive a wrist band that allows you to travel as many times as you like back and fourth on a Water Taxi for the day. There are multiple Water Taxis that travel a triangle route between the pier, the marina, and the main part of town. We left the taxi at the marina and wound our way through downtown, checking out the shops and scenery. It was very picturesque. We enjoy browsing for souvenirs while checking out the local artists. We returned to the ship and went to Johnny Rockets on deck 12 for lunch. As we approached, we could see the staff singing and dancing. It looked like a lot of fun and we learned this was done on the half hour. The food and service was exceptional. During the entire time we were at Johnny Rockets, everyone was very helpful and friendly. From the warm welcome as we entered, to holding the door for us as we left, they could not do enough for us. This was well worth the $3.95 cover charge. I highly recommend enjoying a meal or two at Johnny Rockets. Tonight was Smart Casual, but you would not have noticed the difference from the Casual by the way the majority of folks were dressed for dinner. Lobster was on the menu and you could have more just by asking. One gentleman at our table made the mistake of telling us he really enjoys lobster. That was it, we each made it our mission to egg him on to eat more. After dinner and our regular call home, we went to see the second production show called, "Can't Stop The Rock". Unfortunately, this show was just as awkward as the first production show. It wasn't long before I was wishing I "could stop the rock." We stayed for the whole performance more out of sympathy for the entertainers than the individual who put the show together thinking it was good. To help offset our disappointment, we decided to pick up some snacks at Cafe Promenade and take them back to enjoy on our balcony before bed. SATURDAY 09/29/2007 (Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas) Another early morning and we pull into Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. This morning U.S. Immigration came on the ship, as this port is a United States territory. We were expecting this to be a long drawn out process. Not the case. We were in and out in no time. This was a very efficient and quick process especially for those with passports. After putting our passports back in the room safe, we grabbed some breakfast at the Windjammer. In no time, we were out on the pier ready for our "Yacht Adventure Sail & Snorkel" excursion. We had taken this excursion on one of our prior visits to St Thomas and really enjoyed it. This excursion is limited to a maximum group of 6 people per sailboat. We were shuttled out to a waiting 36 foot sailboat and quickly begun our 45 minute sail to an offshore snorkeling location. One of the deck hands was our guide in the water. He brought us to sea turtles, hermit crabs, a Caribbean lobster and many, many tropical fish. It was one of the best snorkeling experiences we have ever had. When we returned to the boat, the captain welcomed us with a large cheese and cracker platter and all the soda and/or rum you wanted. Excellent excursion. As the afternoon waned on, the reality of having to go home tomorrow started to set in. But we were not going down without a fight. To soften the blow of packing, we started some before dinner. As I was packing, I noticed my tuxedo was no longer in my closet. Apparently my room steward had already returned it. One less thing for me to worry about. Thank you, Lyna. We left our tip envelope on the bed. Dinner was casual dress and the experience was a more somber one than those earlier in the week. The realization that tonight would be the last night on board was hitting everyone. As dinner came to a close we said our goodbyes and slipped the tip envelopes to our waiter, assistant waiter and maitre'd. We will miss the pampering. Another call to home and back to the stateroom to finish packing. To make the most of the few hours remaining, we headed to the show. Tonight was the "Farewell Variety Show" which was comprised of a preview of the week's "Cruise in Review" video, a magician/comedian named James Michael and a performance by Duo Ignatov. We arrived late and missed most of the video. James Michael was one of the best shows we saw all week. He was funny and performed some good magic. Duo Ignatov performed a balancing/juggling routine similar to the one they did earlier in the week. Very flexible people. The show wrapped up with the stage being filled with crew representatives from all areas of the ship. After the show we went to Jesters Nightclub for Romantic dancing. Tonight we literally had the place to ourselves. The only other folks in the club were the employees. Very romantic. At 11:00 PM we left Jesters and we went up to the Blue Moon Lounge on deck 14 for "A Tribute To Jazz". Two of the Royal Caribbean singers were performing with the Royal Caribbean band. This forum really brought out the talent that was being masked behind the sub par production shows. In this forum the voices blended well and were pleasant to listen to. We found a comfortable seat overlooking the pool deck and settled in for awhile. We returned to our room just in time to place our bags in the hall before the midnight deadline. SUNDAY 09/30/2007 (San Juan, Puerto Rico) At 7:00 AM we were already docked at the Pan American pier in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We decided to try the dining room for breakfast this morning. It was open seating which means you are seated at a table with others based on the order in which you/they arrive. Luckily for us, we ended up sitting across the table from two ladies who we met on the "Yacht Adventure Sail & Snorkel" excursion the day before. We talked about how much we enjoyed the sail and snorkeling. The food was good and delivered fast. With breakfast done and the conversation coming to an end, we went back to our stateroom for the last time. Making our way down the stairs to exit the ship, we reach deck 5 to see a line already wrapped across the ship and down the starboard side. We took up our position at the end of the line and made slow, but steady progress toward the exit. The line was long and we felt it should be moving quicker, but we had no suggestions as to how to make that happen. At least not until we turned the corner and noticed that people were cutting in line by the elevators. This caused a verbal altercation from the frustrated folks who had been standing in line for over 20 minutes. This did not seam to deter the line cutters. A crew member could have been placed at this point in the line to control the cutting, but none were around except way off at the exit itself. A more orderly disembarkation could have been easily realized with the placement of one or two crew members to control the line cutting. Once we arrived in the terminal, it was a matter of minutes before we were through customs. Earlier in the week we had taken advantage of the airline pre-check in offered. This where your boarding passes are delivered to your stateroom and you can check your bags before leaving the terminal. Luckily, American Airlines was one of the airlines that participated in this service. After turning our bags over to the porter, we were on our way by taxi to the Caribe Hilton. The taxi cost $15.00 for the two of us with tip. We enjoyed the Caribe Hilton so much prior to the cruise, we wanted to spend the day there as we waited for our 6:00 PM flight time to arrive. We arrived about 9:30 AM and made our way to the Tropical Room where they would be holding Roman Catholic mass at 10:00 AM. It was the same priest who said mass last week and he made all feel welcome. We returned to the lobby with a desire to relax by the ocean until our flight time. As we approached the exit we noticed a security guard screening people allowing only current guests to enter the beach and pool area. To avoid any confrontation I went to the Hilton Honors desk to see what I would have to do in order for my wife and I to enjoy the waterfront. The lady behind the desk called the manager over and he personally escorted my wife and I to the security guard and instructed them to allow us to pass. Thank you, Dominic. We enjoyed a light lunch, some pina coladas and an afternoon under the palms. Every staff member we met was very friendly and helpful. I highly recommend the Caribe Hilton if you are planning to stay in San Juan. Before we knew it, the time had come to head to the airport. It had started to rain and it was really coming down. In fact, on the way to the airport we pass a car that was submerged up to the windshield. It was in the middle of the road. Luckily our taxi driver knew the roads well and was able to find routes that were not flooded. $20.00 for the two of us and tip and we were at the terminal. A few minutes at security and we soon found ourselves at the gate. Before long we were on the plane, toasting a good vacation. We settled in for an uneventful flight back to Hartford, Connecticut. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: STATEROOM - Always well maintained. Great towel animals every evening. DINNER - Service was excellent. Food is OK, but there is still some room for improvement. WINDJAMMER/ISLAND GRILL CAFE - Sporadic soft drink service. Always very crowded. Food had a good variety and par for a buffet. GUEST RELATIONS - Very friendly and helpful. EXPLORATIONS! DESK - Very informative and helpful. EXCURSIONS - The excursions were all on time, as described and professionally run. TUXEDO - Ordered on-line before sailing. In the room when we arrived on board. Returned automatically. Perfect fit. BOOKING ON-LINE - Easy and user friendly site. INTERNET ACCESS ON BOARD - Slow. No, slower than slow. Just about stopped. WIRELESS AT SEA - Access was great. We had signal just about the entire cruise while on the ship. ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR - Pierce Ivan was very energetic. We were pleasantly surprised to see how involved he was in the actual performances. He was really good. LOYALTY AMBASSADOR - Ambivalent. Indicated that sub par crew interaction was to be expected due to clientele on this route. ITINERARY - Fantastic ports. Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten, and St Thomas. DEMOGRAPHICS - A mix of ages, families, singles and groups. Most of the passengers were from Puerto Rico. SHIP - Excellent. Well laid out and maintained. Only negative is that there is really no outside dining. COMMON ARE HOUSEKEEPING - Plates, cups, etc. left in various places by passengers around the ship, including shelves in front of hallway artwork. Although you can't control people being slobs, we would expect the crew to be more on top of this. MAINTENANCE - Maintenance was done during the day in high traffic areas (i.e. Carpet replacement, painting, refinishing of wood, etc.). The smell was particularly offensive outside on the pool deck in the heat of the day. CAPTAIN - Very personable and approachable. Visible at functions around the ship. PRODUCTION SHOWS - Unnatural flow of disjointed routines and songs. Disappointing. SUMMARY: This cruise has an excellent itinerary and the ship offers a wide variety of activities that are sure to appeal to just about anyone. The food is average, but the variety of offerings is good. Service was not consistent crew member to crew member, but some of the ones we directly experienced helped to make up for the ones who didn't put forth the effort. Royal Caribbean has a few areas in which they can improve (i.e. Crowd control, Entertainment, Evening Dinner Food). Over all we enjoyed the cruise and would give Royal Caribbean another try, but possibly not out of San Juan. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
It was the best of times it was the worst of times. That's the summary of our cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas on October 28, 2007. We were fortunate to sail with the best group of Cruise Critic members we have ever sailed with ... Read More
It was the best of times it was the worst of times. That's the summary of our cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas on October 28, 2007. We were fortunate to sail with the best group of Cruise Critic members we have ever sailed with in 20 cruises. These wonderful people and the others we had the good fortune to meet in the Concierges Club and at the repeaters reception were the highlight of our cruise. We flew in the night before and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan. The hotel was fine although over priced but most things are in OSJ. One of our Cruise Critic ship mates arranged for us to have a pre-cruise dinner at the Parrot Club. The food and drink were good although over priced but most things are in OSJ (you might be seeing a theme here) but the people we were about to begin our cruise with were friendly and had a great spirit. It rained all night as we were catching the tail end of what would become hurricane Noel. Our hotel lost power twice that night and once in the morning. I'm glad I packed a flashlight although my wife thought we didn't need to. Please excuse my one chance to say I was right. We got up early Sunday and strolled around OSJ and then went back to our hotel to get our luggage and go to the ship. Our new found friends Kevin and Teresa (who we met on Cruise Critic) joined us and made our cruise very special. A quick taxi ride to the ship and priority registration as diamond members made getting on the ship a breeze. The Adventure of the Seas is a great ship not unlike her sister ships in the Voyager class. There are some minor differences (no Chops) but not that many to mention. Our cruise director was great, very funny and down to earth. I enjoyed him more than Ken Rush who we have sailed with about 4 times. Captain Johnny was very nice as well although I have to get use to younger captains (I think I'm getting old). The entertainment had its high's and low's. The ice show and great and most of the other entertainment was fine. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers had one very good show and one show that didn't meet our expectations (I think you have to do better than 50% when providing entertainment to cruise ship passengers who have cruised before and a majority of RCI passengers are now return cruisers). The food was below what we have come to expect on our RCI cruises. While there were some good dinners, I thought the lobster on this cruise was poor and the steak, chicken and prime rib were disappointing. Our waiter was acceptable but his assistant was poor. He did not refill our water or give us ice tea without asking every night. One of the things we have liked most about assigned dinning with RCI is how the dinning room staff get to know you and your preferences. This did not happen on this cruise. We did enjoy our table mates, especially T & K who celebrated their 5th anniversary on this cruise. We enjoyed all of the ports and contributed to the economy on each island. Now for the worst of times. Let me start by saying that I grew up in New York City and I am not intimidated, surprised or offended easily by the behavior of other cultures. That said, the general behavior of a significant majority of the Puerto Rican people on this cruise was horrible. It is not my intent to condemn all Puerto Rican's but the actions of so many have caused me to re-think if I will ever visit Puerto Rico again. I have visited Puerto Rico at least 10 times in the past and never experienced such repeatedly rude, disrespectful, loud, pushy (remember I'm a New Yorker) and down right mean behavior by so many people from the same culture in my life. Of the almost 1600 Puerto Rican's on this cruise, it felt like 1200 were like the cruisers from hell. I would have to agree with almost every thing in dddewitt77's review posted earlier. We will never sail out of San Juan again and take the chance of sailing with a group of people who seemed to take over the ship in the worst way. As nice as our CD was, the rest of the ship's crew did nothing to help the situation. The loyalty ambassador, concierges and others simply ignored the problems that were obvious to literally almost everyone we spoke to. My wife and I have enjoyed RCI and the advantages afforded us as Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor Society. However, a few free drinks and some minor additional advantages are not worth the problems we experienced or the indifference of most of the crew. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
My mother (an avid cruiser) booked my fiance & I on our honeymoon cruise as a wedding gift to us. We chose the Adventure of the Seas October 21, 2007 sailing since being that I have numerous cruises under my belt as well...this was the ... Read More
My mother (an avid cruiser) booked my fiance & I on our honeymoon cruise as a wedding gift to us. We chose the Adventure of the Seas October 21, 2007 sailing since being that I have numerous cruises under my belt as well...this was the only sailing leaving with RCL the day after our wedding. All in all, we had a great time. It was his first cruise ever, now he is hooked! The ship was very nice. We were impressed with the Aquarium bar's serenity. We spent a lot of our time there getting a quiet drink in passing. One of the barmaids remembered our names throughout the entire sailing! She would greet us even in passing which we thought was a great personalized service. I have never experienced this sort of customized attention on any other sailing, except the Mariner of the Seas. Unfortunately, we had horrible weather our entire time on vacation. We were about 1 day ahead of a hurricane so that would explain it. So about 1-3hrs after arriving in an island, it would cloud over and start monsoon raining into the late nights at sea. Our Barbados experience was absolutely horrendous and not for the weather. We booked a beach shore tour. Our tour tickets simply said to "meet on pier 15mins prior." I have been to Barbados before...even with RCL...and have never had a problem. When we docked this time, it seemed like a military compound free-for-all. I am used to seeing tour guides waving signs collecting their guests, reps from the ship taking photos...there was none of that. It was us, a few other shoppers, and local men with rifles. We walked thru the pavilion trying to find our tour and met a local customs agent with a rifle...complete with sign saying if we leave we can't come back. We headed back to the ship in hopes to find a RCL staff member...nothing until ship security. At that point we gave up since it was clouding over. About 1 hour back on board, it started pouring anyway. RCL would not refund the cost of the tour. We tried the beach again in St Lucia with their "St Lucian Beach Break" tour. I can't believe RCL sent us all on this tour! First off, we got to the beach and it looked fantastic. We headed off of the bus and got stopped by our guide saying we're not allowed to that side of the beach. We have to "stay left" unless we want to pay again. The left side of the beach was behind a wall...and looked like a tiny strip that they use as a landfill. It was small, dirty and we were all ontop of each other. The islanders were haggling you and would even wake you up from sunning to look at their goods about every 5-10mins. They kept calling my fiance... who is asian..."Bruce Lee" to wake him up. They were trying to sell watersports & boat rides infront of us so the smell of boat exhaust was choking us all. Yet, we were all stuck there until the tour was over. Third time a charm? Antigua has 366 beautiful beaches so we booked the ship's "Antigua Beach Break" tour. This turned out to be a hit! The beach was absolutely beautiful and fantastic. They gave you a free drink. Get it non-alcoholic though, the rum punch is like bad cough medicine! There is a bar, showers & even a restaurant (food costs extra)...definitely worth going back. Looks similar to the Corona commercials or Passion Island out of Cozumel, Mexico. No island hagglers. Its all about relaxing your way here. The trip thru town to get there is a bit interesting. Streets are very crowded and tight. We even saw a man chasing a rooster with a machete. The rooster seemed to win. Our tours for the remainder of the cruise got cancelled/refunded due to the weather. RCL made up for it by turning The Lyric theater into a movie theater. They showed the movie "The Holiday" quite a few times, haha! Food on the ship was great! We decided after all the chaos of a wedding & dressing up for that, this was the time to be relaxed & casual. We did the 1st formal night dinner in the dining room. Food was excellent, the waitress seemed a little annoyed that we skipped dinner the welcome aboard night before and served us the wrong entrees. The other couples we were dining with were probably the most stuck-up people I've ever met in my life...I mean c'mon, its vacation! We decided to try the buffet for dinner the next night in order to save ourselves from the 3rd degree, or the bad dining company. My fiance discovered the sushi up there and so it was no turning back now. We ate there every night after that which was so much better of a choice. Eat what you want, when you want...and there is entertainment with a latin guitar player who was excellent. We would get a table by the window for a beautiful view, something we didn't have in the dining room. We even wound up with the same waitress in there each night who was great with our drinks...and again our names. There was never a crowd, it was almost always empty. I would consider this more to "freestyle dining" than even NCL can offer. Our cabin was fantastic..balcony stateroom. Always clean and tended. Always with ice. Never too hot or cold. The drain in our sink didn't seem to work. It never did get fixed during our stay...our stateroom attendant would just close it and we would have to (nasty) pull the drain out in order to use the sink. That was the biggest downfall to the whole vacation. Getting off the ship was a COMPLETE NIGHTMARE! Oh my god, I have never seen anything like it before. They had us in a line, snaked through the whole Royal Promenade deck. Then....you get outside to the open air deck & think, "Hmm...why are they sending us out on this side of the ship when the port is on the other...are they dumping us in the ocean?" They made you snake on the OPEN AIR DECK thru THREE tight lines up & down the planks....with your carry on...before walking through the hallway by the Lyric theater just to step onto the pier. It took an extremely long amount of time. We heard so many bag colors being called while we were in line...and for what? We weren't moving so where are these people going to stand! Collecting luggage was actually quite easy once you made it through the RCL "line of disembarkation." However, finding out where you go after you get your bag was pandemonium. There wasn't a RCL rep, or pier rep in sight. The bus reps were not helpful because they were airline bus attendants. We stood in a random line & luckily enough it was for our airline. The USAIR rep was the courteous one that directed us where to go. No thanks there to RCL. The airport takes your bags from you at the pier (if you're so lucky) and you don't see them again until you arrive home at bag claim. We were nervous about doing this...but lucked out. Everything got home in one piece. So did we. All in all, we had a great time. We would have wished there were more activities planned on board for a younger crowd (we are 28 & 30yrs old)...things were catering to music of the 50's & 60's this sailing. But we will definitely be sailing again with RCL hopefully soon! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We had both cruised with Carnival before but came away from this cruise vowing never to return to Carnival. We arrived in PR the day of departure around 2p. We finally arrived in our ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We had both cruised with Carnival before but came away from this cruise vowing never to return to Carnival. We arrived in PR the day of departure around 2p. We finally arrived in our stateroom around 5p. The lines were long and seemed to take hours to get through since we were so anxious to actually get on the ship and start our vacation. The ship itself was wonderful. The outside of ship was nice but the inside of the ship was very impressive that words will not do it justice. The grand promenade was HUGE and the amount of diverse restaurants/bars really impressed me. If you like a sports bar feel then you can hang at the sports bar. If you more of a pub type of person - you've got the Duck and Dog Pub you can kick back and enjoy a brewsky. If you like the upscale quiet atmosphere you can go to the Blue Moon or the Champagne Bar. It was just like being in a city with a ton of variety but all in walking distance. The demographics on the ship - There have been some talk about the amount of Puerto Ricans on the ship. When I first read about this I thought people were being a bit intolerant and harsh but I must say it did bother me much more than I thought it would. My husband and I are minorities ourselves and welcome diversity but there is a line between cultural differences and obnoxiousness. That being said we were not going to let this ruin our vacation - we simply looked at it as an opportunity for growth. I read posts about people sequestering themselves to their rooms after being turned off by rude interactions but I was determined not to let it get to me. Food - Food in the dining room was hit and miss but you must try Portofino's. It was so worth the $20 per person charge. We made 8p reservations for Sunday night when we got on the ship because I wanted to eat there while we were leaving PR. It was magical to see the city disappearing while eating some of the best food ever! Our server wasn't the friendliest guy ever but the food made up for the lack in customer service. We also went to Johnny Rockets, which was good as well. For breakfast, we often ordered room service and ate it our balcony. It was one of highlights of our trip that as we were docking in Aruba - St. Thomas and St. Martin we enjoyed our breakfast on our balcony while watching the city get closer and closer. Simply incredible! Did I mention room service was free and (relatively fast)?! Excursions - In Aruba we did ATV Mania. It was fun but it was harder than I anticipated. Now I must admit out of our group of 20 people I was the only one who got stuck and need assistance TWICE! I thought my husband was going to die of embarrassment when I held up the entire group because somehow I ran off the road and got stuck on top of a huge rock! After a lecture from one of the guides about going too fast - she somehow got my vehicle off the rock and I nervously smiled and gave a enthusiastic thumbs up at the rest of the group that patiently waiting for me. We traveled on regular roads with other drivers and went to the natural bridge- the rock formations - and other places that were wonderful photo opportunities. **If you are doing this excursion - take sunglasses or some type of goggles if you have them (and pray if you are accident prone like I am). The dust/sand on the road can really hurt your eyes and don't wear anything you might want to wear again on the trip. We were extremely dirty (and relieved) when it was over. In Curacao we did the Animal Encounter Scuba Adventure. I picked this excursion because my husband loves stingrays and I am so happy I did! It was both of our first time scuba diving and it was a perfect environment for it. The instructors were patient and the fish were hungry. They don't rush you while you are in the water and trust me you will see all types underwater entertainment! **Tip on this excursion - take an underwater camera. There was an underwater photographer that will gladly take pics of you while underwater for the low price of $10 a picture (and trust me - he takes a TON of pics). We ended up buying the CD of all the pictures for the low price of $45! There were some wonderful pictures of my husband with his favorite animal so I just had to get them. YIKES! In St. Martin we did the Rhino Rider, which was fun as well. It was simply beautiful zipping across the different bays. They advertise snorkeling on this excursion but there really wasn't much to see at Happy Bay (were we docked for about 30 min). The instructors were cool but it did bother me that they mentioned the fact that they took tips about 10 times in the span of one hour! The ride can be bumpy due to the waves and my back side was sore the next day but it was a fun excursion. St. Thomas we did the ½ day St. John Champagne Catamaran sail - This was our favorite! It was perfect sailing out to St. John and the snorkeling was incredible. We saw stingrays - turtles -and a spotted eagle ray while out there. When we got back on the boat they had a light lunch waiting for us with great drinks. The staff was so attentive and made sure everyone was having a great time. This truly was a great excursion. Pool time - It was amazing to me that the "Family" pool area had belly flop competitions - live bands and many many...did I mention many? kids jumping in and out of the pools screaming at the top of their lungs. Don't miss the competitions including the dodgeball games - tug of war - it never ceased to amaze me what people would do for a Royal Caribbean key chain. Funny stuff! But over at the adult pool area people were sleeping - reading and simply relaxing. Two completely different atmospheres separated by a sliding glass door. Like I said earlier - tons of variety! Night Life - I wish I would've experience more but as you can see we had some pretty active excursions so by the time dinner rolled around we were simply exhausted. I did go to the Midnight Gala Buffet where they had ice sculptures and chocolate delicacies of every type. It was beautiful! We did venture to the nightclub Jesters a couple of nights but there might've been a total of 7 people (including us) there. I must say that every night we went it was about 11p so the party probably hadn't begun yet. We saw two shows - the Love and Marriage show which was funny and we saw the show "Jackpot". They were both fairly entertaining. But not to be missed is the ice show! Get the tickets (they are free) as soon as possible because space in the theater is limited. I used to be a competitive ice skater so I was skeptical about how good this show could be on such a small ice surface. But I was extremely impressed with the creativity they used to pull this show together. Take your camera - I got some wonderful shots of the skaters doing various stunts. Various other tips: Go to your Meet and Mingle! If you haven't signed up for one - do it! It's fun to meet with like-minded individuals who was as determined to have a great vacation by doing research on Cruise Critic as I was! Shout out to Janice who I ran into many times while on the ship.Your welcoming attitude and big smile was simply inviting and disarming amongst strangers! There wasn't a clock in our room except for a small 4-point font time display on the phone. I wish I would've known this so I could've brought a small clock just to be aware of the time. This didn't bother my husband one bit - I guess it just depends on your personality. Formal nights were overrated. The lines at the photo opp areas were super long, which led to major congestion while entering the dining room. Lastly - check the cruise compass every day!! There are many exciting things to do on the ship that I missed simply because I didn't look at the cruise compass until it was too late. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to email me! Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Wonderful cruise with the kids (older teens). Second time on this specific ship (3-4 times on this class of ships w/ RC. The ship remains well maintained, the staff is cordial and genuinely friendly. The food is good (not great but ... Read More
Wonderful cruise with the kids (older teens). Second time on this specific ship (3-4 times on this class of ships w/ RC. The ship remains well maintained, the staff is cordial and genuinely friendly. The food is good (not great but good!) The beef (as usual on board) is the best quality food for dinners. The kitchen likes to overcook the dinners so order things rarer than you really like. The dining room staff is very accommodating and make your dining room experience enjoyable. The bar staff also shine. There is a problem if you really like late dinners. Most people who choose second seating do so because they like to lounge around until 8-8:30. Well, the cruise line scheduled most of the second seating shows at 7:00PM thereby negating the "benefit" of second seating dinners! They need to move the second shows to AFTER the second seating dinners (in my opinion.) The kids had a blast...after all, it was a Christmas cruise and there had best been a lot of kids around! While this was great for my kids (15 & 18); it created a problem in the gym if you wanted to get to the aerobic machines. You put lots of 10-18 year olds on a ship and they come with lots of 35-55 year old parents who ALL want/need to workout! There is no ship in the world that can accommodate that! They did a good job in controlling the kids. They are pretty strict early on with curfew for under 18 yr olds (1PA) but were (appropriately) more lax as the cruise progressed. They seem to keep tabs on underage drinking which is a welcomed attitude these days--especially aboard a ship in the middle of the ocean! The lounges seemed a bit problematic...many were way too crowded..but that goes with the crowd! I guess if you want quiet you need to make sure the ship is packed with 75-80+ y.o.--most of whom are too smart to cruise during the school breaks! The biggest negative was the lounge chair scene on sea days!! :( People were not happy and to get any chairs you needed to be out at 8:30AM! There were some near fisticuffs on deck over stupid chairs!! You believe that...people go away to relax and wind up fighting over a lounge chair!! Again, this is due to the crowds and I am not certain if this is really avoidable! Overall: Very good cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
My family--me, my husband and our 12-year-old son--are all platinum members in the Crown and Anchor club. We firmly believe that the best and most relaxing vacation is on a ship--for us, a RCCL ship. Embarkation: We took a taxi from the ... Read More
My family--me, my husband and our 12-year-old son--are all platinum members in the Crown and Anchor club. We firmly believe that the best and most relaxing vacation is on a ship--for us, a RCCL ship. Embarkation: We took a taxi from the airport. It was a short trip, and very easy. Upon arrival, we handed over our luggage. We went through the metal detectors and right up to an agent. This was about 3:00pm or so. We were on the ship within 30 minutes of arriving at the dock. Room: Our room was the first one we've ever booked with a balcony. It was an aft balcony which was problematic in that we were not over the water, but instead in from the water about 20 feet. It was very nice, though, because it was probably twice as large of a balcony as they have on the sides of the ship. We even had a lounge chair on it where I did nap occasionally. One problem was that, as non-smokers, we did have to endure some smoke from the crew (there was a crew walkway just below our balcony) and from fellow passengers (on their balconies). The room was clean and our room steward was almost invisible. Public Areas: Public areas were clean, for the most part. Some areas (like the loyalty ambassador area near our room) ended up becoming "hang out" areas for groups of passengers--not all teen agers, either. Some older people, too. Dinner: We were upset that none of the passengers who were assigned to our dinner table showed up for dinner so, after two days, we moved to another table and had a blast for the rest of the cruise. The Head Waiters and Maitre'd were very helpful. The food was typical RCCL fare--in fact, we looked forward to "lobster night" and "escargot night." Our waiters and assistant waiters were wonderful. Ports of Call: It was our first visit to Aruba and Curacao. We loved Aruba and spent almost the whole day snorkeling. Curacao was nice--we walked into town and loved the pontoon bridge. St. Maarten was great for bodysurfing (since a tropical storm was passing to the south of us and we got the waves). We had been to St. Thomas many times and longed for one more "at sea" day, so we really didn't even get off the ship. Johnny Rockets: We took our son to Johnny Rockets for his birthday and, let me tell you, if you don't stop in at least once, you are missing something. It was the nicest dining experience we had. The waiters and waitresses are personable and fun. The food is FANTASTIC. And the cost is reasonable. We went back one more time before the end of the cruise. Passengers: Of the 3,600 persons on board, over 2,000 spoke only Spanish. This manifested itself in some Spanish-only announcements (which annoyed me as I wanted to know what was going on, too), some Puerto Rican rap (really nice, by the pool), and some Spanish-only call-and-respond at the final dinner and at other times (I wish I knew what they were saying only because they sounded like they were having a blast!). Other reviews have complained about the number of Spanish-only speaking people on the Adventure, but I didn't find it problematic. Norovirus: We had no idea that the norovirus was a problem on the ship. We did notice the lack of hand sanitizer (which was all over other ships we've been on recently) for the first half of the week. But one day, Thursday, I think, all of a sudden the hand wipes came out. We knew that this meant that norovirus had broken out. None of the three of us were effected by the virus. Disembarkation: We ran into a lot of people trying to get off the ship before their group was called which really slowed things down a lot. That was annoying, but we got off the ship quickly, got our luggage quickly, and into a taxi quickly. Things went pretty smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was our fourth RCCL cruise and our second time on Adventure of the Seas. Overall, we had a wonderful time but there were some ways in which this trip did not measure up to past RCCL cruises. We agree with so much of the good that ... Read More
This was our fourth RCCL cruise and our second time on Adventure of the Seas. Overall, we had a wonderful time but there were some ways in which this trip did not measure up to past RCCL cruises. We agree with so much of the good that everyone has already said about Adventure of the Seas, and would definitely cruise Royal Caribbean again, but this review is just meant to point out some of our gripes, however small, so that people get the other side of the story. Our group was two families of four. My husband and I were with our two daughters ages 16 and 12 in two interior rooms (by the time we booked, there were no exterior rooms remaining). I have always had a windowed room in the past and after a week in a room without one, I would definitely go back to the window in the future. I really hated waking up in the morning having no idea what the world looked like outside. Our cabin was also much smaller than ones we have had in the past and was difficult to maneuver with two people trying to get showered and dressed at the same time. We flew into San Juan the day before the cruise left, and it was a good thing because USAir made a huge mess out of our flight. We left the northeast at 7:30 AM with a connection through Philadelphia and should have arrived in San Juan at 2:30 p.m. Due to the utter incompetence and lack of concern evidenced by USAir, we sat in the Philadelphia airport for 11 hours and did not arrive in San Juan until midnight. About 150 passengers who were to meet other cruise ships that day missed their sailings. This just reconfirmed to me how important it is to travel to the cruise departure the day before sailing. San Juan was not impressive (we have been there before) and we paid a lot of money to get a room at the Holiday Inn near the airport just to have somewhere to sleep for 6 hours. We were happy to board the ship. One issue with boarding was that we were given incorrect information beforehand The RCCL online paperwork we were sent said boarding would begin at 2pm and sailing was at 10pm. We killed time in San Juan, got to the ship around 3:00 to discover that we could have boarded much earlier, and that sailing was planned for 8pm. Glad we didn't wait til the last minute. As it turned out, sailing was delayed until 10pm because some passengers were late getting in from their flights. Seems that RCCL was a lot nicer about waiting for delayed passenger than the cruise lines on which our fellow Saturday USAir passengers were sailing. Boarding and checking themselves were a breeze and we were happy to be on deck very efficiently. Luggage arrived quickly also which was great. RCCL does a great job making people happy. The service on board is impeccable from the highest to lowest employee, and they go out of their way to be sure we always have what we need. Facilities are clean and well kept. Food is plentiful and delicious, though after 7 days in the Windjammer I was getting a little sick of the same selections each day. We also wondered why there weren't more kid-friendly choices in the Windjammer at dinnertime. My brother, who was travelling with his 8 and 6 year old daughters, had some big issues with the kids camp, because throughout the week they often failed to follow the published schedule of activities. When asked why, the crew indicated that they would "do what the kids want" even if it wasn't according to schedule. This seemed to translate into a lot of kids randomly running around the playroom without much structure. For families who wanted to pick and choose when to put kids in the programs, this was not very workable. My nieces would look forward to going to camp for a particular advertised activity only to show up and find that it was not happening. We were also disappointed with the quality and availability of the entertainment on this ship compared to others in the past. The ice show was spectacular, and one of the singers was great, but the production shows and some of the other entertainment were disappointing. I also personally dislike the scheduling of entertainment for the late dinner seating as a pre-dinner show. We opt for late dinner for maximum time in the sun, and just aren't ready to go to a show by 7:00. We far prefer the entertainment after dinner, but several evenings there was no after-dinner entertainment available except for a silly game show or in the lounges. One surprise came on the last morning before the cruise ended when we arrived in St. Thomas. We were informed the night before that we would have to wake up early (7:00 a.m.) to go through US immigration before anyone could disembark. I was pretty furious to find out that on my last full day of vacation, I would be required to wake up early, and wake my teenagers up early, to pass through the immigration process. We were all looking forward to one more day to sleep late before we got back to reality. The immigration process is a big joke anyway. Just be aware that if you have an itinerary that hits US soil before the end of the cruise, you may get rousted out of bed at the crack of dawn on a day of vacation. Another issue: my husband runs an internet business and required internet access throughout the week. The speed of the internet access on the ship was appallingly slow, to the point where it was virtually unusable. We tried both the wireless connection with his laptop and the ship's terminals and they were all working at the same lethargic speed. This caused him some big headaches. We noticed that the gala midnight buffet has been discontinued, which was fine with us because it struck me as incredibly wasteful. We also noticed other cutbacks from prior cruises. My 12 year old was sad to find that while on past cruises she could get as much soft serve ice cream as she wanted day and night from 2 or 3 different locations, on this cruise she could only get it between noon and 6pm in one location. As for Johnny Rocket's and Portofino's, I wish someone could explain to my why anyone would spend additional money in the form of a cover charge to eat somewhere on a cruise ship when they have already paid for abundant available food. But a lot of people said they were great. Oh, and I should mention that of my party of eight, three of us got sick at different times during the week. There was no hand sanitizer available as there was in the past, and I got socked for about 24 hours with a terrible intestinal thing with vomiting, etc. Two others came down with coughs, colds etc. and one of my party ended up in the ship's hospital with a high fever and bronchial infection. No reason to think it was a result of anything on the ship, but it sure crimped the week for her. And it did give me a chance to see what a great medical operation they run. Very impressive. The weather was fantastic, the ports were amazing, and we had incredible days on the beach in Aruba and St. Maarten. Of course we had a wonderful time, this is just to point out some of "the other side" of the gushingly wonderful reviews I have read. I still enthusiastically recommend Royal Caribbean and will cruise them again and again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was our first cruise to the Caribbean - my husband and I - our only other cruise experience was to Alaska. The ports were super - from San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and back to San Juan. Each one was fabulous. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise to the Caribbean - my husband and I - our only other cruise experience was to Alaska. The ports were super - from San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and back to San Juan. Each one was fabulous. We spent the majority of our time on the beautiful beaches. Although the signs all indicate that boarding is not permitted before 2:00 PM, we arrived at noon, our cabin was ready and we were permitted on-board. Entertainment: I recommend that you get tickets for the ice show as soon as they become available Monday morning. That was the only entertainment that I saw that was worthwhile. The revues were just OK. I was disappointed with the lack of dance music - the DJ (same one) went from one lounge to another playing different types of music for an hour each. Take the schedules of activities aboard the ship VERY seriously. If something is scheduled for 1/2 hour, don't think it will continue for 35 minutes. The pools are really nice - of course they get very crowded the day(s) at sea. The waiters walking around the pool decks trying to sell you alcoholic beverages every 5 minutes got very old during the course of the days at sea. Excellent gym facilities. Food and Service in the dining room was excellent across the board. I found the cruise we took on Princess to have MUCH better entertainment and live dance music. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
Sailed on Adventure of The Seas 2/24/08 in a balcony cabin deck 7. This was our 4th RCCL cruise. Loved the ship but honestly felt the food and service was less then our previous experiences. Windjammer food was the same every day and luke ... Read More
Sailed on Adventure of The Seas 2/24/08 in a balcony cabin deck 7. This was our 4th RCCL cruise. Loved the ship but honestly felt the food and service was less then our previous experiences. Windjammer food was the same every day and luke warm. Main dining room food was good but not great. Selections seemed more limited than in the past. Service good but not outstanding. The ship apparently did not receive it's wine order before departing San Juan and only re-supply in US ports. Did not have many wines I chose and in more than one case offered another wine that turned out to be $20 more a bottle than what I had previously ordered. Entertainment again seemed of less quality than past cruises. More technical glitter but lacking Vegas show talent. One observation made by a fellow passenger was the ladies in the song and dance troupe would not make it outside of a cruise ship due to physical appearance. Certainly not the well worked, toned bodies of acts I have seen on board in the past. Did not see the ice show. Paid cover for Johnny Rockets, minimal. Attempted to get reservations for Portofino's first day and told sold out. Put on wait list and got in on Thursday. Understood we would pay $20 cover but did not expect to be told that this did not include a tip. Food was good, service was better but after paying for the cruise I don't care to pay $20 plus a tip to eat at another location onboard. Traveled a day early and stayed in the Sheraton Old San Juan. It was a bit costly but good location. Used the voucher to get from airport to hotel but elected to pay for a cab to go from the hotel to the ship next day to beat the crowd. It was very difficult to get an elevator as all the cruisers are trying to move at the same time. Although told we could board at 2:00 we got on at noon. Cabins are not ready until 1:00 or 2:00. Ports were good, some excursions seemed a bit steep for what you get. Did have to go through the immigration thing onboard when we pulled into St. Thomas but it was very quick and easy. Found I was able to pay $20 per person to get express check in. Got my boarding pass and luggage tags the day before disembarking in San Juan. Had to claim my luggage once on the pier and the airline handled it from there. Others had to claim their luggage again at the airport and check their luggage and get boarding pass issued. It is worth it if you hit a long line at the airport. Overall I thought the ship was fun and beautiful but it seems perhaps the cruise lines are having to cut back the level of food and service to remain competitive and keep prices down. I will cruise again and likely on RCCL but for now my next vacation will be on an island for a week. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
This was our third cruise and second with RCCL. Allow me to say that overall the cruise was Very Good. I will just quickly summarize the good and the bads. The Bads: On previous cruises we discreetly tucked a bottle in our luggage and ... Read More
This was our third cruise and second with RCCL. Allow me to say that overall the cruise was Very Good. I will just quickly summarize the good and the bads. The Bads: On previous cruises we discreetly tucked a bottle in our luggage and had the odd drink in our room. Not so on this cruise. Our luggage had been opened and we had one of their nice orange cards that said we had been bad boys and girls and we could not have our bottle until the last day of the cruise. Judging by the huge cart of alcohol they were handing back on that last day it looks like there were many who were also punished. Give me a break RC. As we told your Guest Relations, we are all adults here (well most of us), we had already bought the wine package, had a number of drinks in your bars and then you pull that stunt because of your quote/unquote "security precautions". (translation: drink in our bars for $8 a drink). I must admit they tried to make it up to us by providing a free bottle of champagne to our room on the Thursday night (our anniversary was on the Tuesday night and our brought bottle of favorite bubbly had been confiscated...thanks for nothing) but the damage had been done at that point and our initial enthusiasm never really returned after the "orange card greeting". PS: We lowered ourselves to smuggling some in our "water bottles" on the next island which we mixed with soda from the $48 Soda "deal". Talk about feeling like a little kid. Nickel and diming: We had no less than 3 messages on our phone wishing us a Happy Anniversary" followed by come on down to our boutiques and spend some money (these were all automated messages...I thought we had left the telemarketers at home). Pamphlets being handed out everywhere: Buy, buy. buy. The "Additional Tip" area on all of your bills...after you are automatically deducted 15%. $4 to get into Johnny Rockets. Another $4.00 to have a shake and then you still want more tipping in there. No such thing as a free lunch I guess. Anyway, it just got tiring to be forever approached to spend more money. Some say it's to keep the price down. We paid $1100 each for our balcony room. I doubt they lost money on us. The Casino: The lights showing numbers previously winning on 2 of the 3 roulette tables were apparently "not working"...although they were working fine the first day. Funny how the display light at the top still worked. Back home we call that "cheating" and the table would be shut down. No matter, I made my money on the one table with lights. The Goods: Everything else could more or less be considered Good to Excellent. If they enforced their "no lounge chair saving" policy half as much as their no booze policy I might be impressed. I can guarantee that at any given time 50% of the lounge chairs are empty but saved with towels or whatever. Most remained that way for most of the day. Portofino's is a "Must Experience". Simply amazing. Dining room food was very good considering it is mass produced. Windjammer...well it's a buffet but there is always a good selection. Just expect buffet quality there. Beatlemania, the comedian and the juggler: Excellent. The other entertainers were OK. Way too much of the "let the audience entertain us" stuff for my liking. Mini-putt, golf simulator, climbing wall, exercise room, all excellent. Overall, like I said, it was a great trip but the drink policy (what hotel would ever even think of doing that???) and the constantly selling convinced us this was our last with RCCL. Others we talked to have not had this problem on other cruise lines. Sorry Kindergarten of the Seas. We're moving on. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
My family, (Mom, Dad, 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter) loved our Royal Caribbean cruise! This was our first cruise as a family, although my husband sailed previously on Carnival. We were so relaxed and happy on this ship that we ... Read More
My family, (Mom, Dad, 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter) loved our Royal Caribbean cruise! This was our first cruise as a family, although my husband sailed previously on Carnival. We were so relaxed and happy on this ship that we are going on another Royal Caribbean ship next year. The day before our cruise, we flew United from Washington, Dulles to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with an hour long stop in St. Thomas. We arrived on time at 1:00 pm. We stayed overnight at the Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino in the Condado Section of San Juan. Our room was on the Ambassador Club floor. Our rate included a room with two double beds, complimentary breakfast, internet access and happy hour food. Drinks were available from an honor bar. The hotel was clean and the location was convenient. We were a ½ block from the ocean and within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. The hotel was fine for a one night stay and our kids enjoyed the rooftop pool. However, the hotel lobby is narrow, confusing to navigate and dominated by a tired looking casino. The Club level elevator stopped working, which was annoying. The hotel staff was not very efficient, but they were nice. We got to the Panamerican terminal around 11:45 after about a 10-minute taxi ride from the Radisson. We had completed our SetSail Pass online at home and printed it out before we left Washington. We went right to the check-in line, got our Sea Passes and were on the ship within 15 minutes. Our stateroom was ready and our suitcases were waiting in the hall for us at 1:00 pm. We left San Juan on March 23, 2008 for a 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise. We visited Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. The ship is beautiful and tasteful. Once you get your bearings, you'll see that it is well laid out. Even though more than 3000 people were on the ship, we never felt crowded. We especially liked the 5th floor promenade with the pubs and shops. Cafe Promenade on deck 5 always has food, which is very convenient if you don't want to go all the way up to the Windjammer on the 11th floor for lunch. Because our stateroom was on the 2nd floor, Forward, we did do a lot of walking to get anywhere. Be aware that you can not walk all the way through the ship on some floors. We had to go up to the 4th or 5th floor to get across to the Aft elevators to eat in the dining room or the Windjammer. We didn't mind, but for those with limited mobility, it's something to keep in mind. Everything was very clean and crew were always cleaning and maintaining the ship. Even though some passengers just left trash and used glasses on the ground, the crew cleaned it up right away; they work hard on this ship. We had an ocean view stateroom, midship on Deck 2. We had two twin beds that we left as two singles so our kids could climb into their beds above. The beds are extremely comfortable; we slept like babies every night. The room was quiet and we didn't feel as much of the roll of the ship as we did when we were higher up at the pool. Our stateroom attendant Sheldon, was a wonderful person! Our room was always spotless and he was very nice to our kids. They were so excited when "Mr. Sheldon" left towel animals for them; the towel animals were one of the best parts of the trip for my daughter. I used the gym and it is very nice. It's a bit odd being on a treadmill with the roll of the sea, but it's a beautiful facility with a good layout and plenty of machines. The jogging track looks nice, but it shares a deck with the lounge chairs and when they are extended, they obstruct the track. It's also windy on the track; it's good to look at, but I preferred the gym. My kids loved the pools, and the inline skating track. The water slides had very limited hours and my kids ended up not using them at all. They spent most of their sea days in the pool until dinner. On the first day at the pool, they made friends instantly, and didn't really talk to us until dinner. Every day after dinner, at 7:00 pm, they went straight to Adventure Ocean. WOW! For parents and kids this is the best part of the cruise. My kids begged us to let them stay until 1:00 am, which we did a few times. They loved Adventure Ocean. They had a special meeting with the captain, dressed up as pirates and paraded around the ship, had a dance contest, it goes on and on. It's a wonderful facility and the staff is great and very creative. The only concern I had was with the behavior of a few of the kids. Adventure Ocean has a very clear policy about the children's behavior and they are very serious about the kids' security. A few kids refused to behave and had to be removed by their parents. The staff handled it all well and the rest of the kids were very well behaved. We didn't attend any shows, but the band at the pool was really good. We enjoyed listening to them every day. The Cruise Director seemed fun; he held contests at the pool that were fun to watch. We also saw a parade on deck 5 that my kids enjoyed. My husband really enjoyed the Cigar Lounge. The person in charge, Phil, was a great guy! He made my husband feel right at home and made his vacation that much better. We ate dinner at the main seating at 6:00 pm because of our kids. Our waiter, Franky, and assistant waiter, Chester, were lovely. They paid attention to our kids and treated us very warmly. When we saw them around the ship, they went out of their way to say hello. Victor, our beverage waiter, was friendly and funny. He knew what we liked to drink at the pool and at dinner and was ready with our drinks as soon as he saw us. The food in the Dining Room and the Windjammer Buffet was good. You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Dining Room or the Windjammer. We preferred breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and dinner in the Dining Room, although the kids ate at Johnny Rockets once. If you've ever been to Johnny Rockets, you can skip it on the ship. It's a fun time, but no different from the experience we've had at home. The food selection in all the eating venues was good and we all gained weight. When you eat in the Windjammer, go all the way to the back, on the left side, if possible. The food is the same all the way around, but the views are better in the back, and In addition to the regular buffet food, you can get made to order omelets, pizza, burgers and hot dogs only in the back. You'll figure it out after your first time there, but save yourself that first day and go straight to the back. My husband and I had dinner at Portofino once; it takes a full 2 ½ hours to eat there. It was lovely, and the food was a bit better than that in the main Dining Room. However, the service in the main Dining Room was better and friendlier than Portofino. Also, the ship information states that no kids under 13 can eat in Portofino, but while we were there, two families had about 12 kids under that age at their own tables. They were well behaved, but we were surprised to see them. Since this was our first cruise, we booked all of our excursions through Royal Caribbean. On Aruba we went on the Snorkel, Sail & Swing with the Jolly Pirates. You can book this trip yourself on the Jolly Pirates website. This trip was a blast! My kids are strong swimmers but they had never snorkeled before. The first stop was great for beginners; 10 feet of water, lots of fish, very clear. The second stop was at a sunken German ship in 60 feet of water. The seas were very heavy there and the current was very strong. My kids were fine, but my husband and I were too worried to enjoy this stop. The water was also too murky to see much. My advice is to stay on the boat at the second stop and relax. The final stop is the highlight of the trip! The crew climbs into the rigging and does all sorts of cool rope tricks and then dives off the side of the ship. Then it's your turn. My son and daughter LOVED this excursion. It's a good time. In Curacao we took the Sea and See tour: see the island, a liquor factory stop and a trip in a Semi-Submersible ship. The tour and liquor factory were ok, but the submersible was the best part of the excursion. There were only 3 kids on this tour. My kids enjoyed seeing all the sea life, including a small octopus. The crew was great and we had a good time. In St, Martin, we took the tour of the Dutch & French sides with a 2 hour stop at Orient Beach. The beach is beautiful, but the ocean was very rough and most people had a hard time with the waves that day. Our day in St. Thomas started with a 45 minute Screamin Eagle jet boat ride. If you have a 10 year old boy, this is a must. Power boat heaven! After that, we went to Megan's Bay for 2 hours, relaxing, lovely, but a bit crowded. The ocean was calm and my kids caught a fish. All in all a fantastic day. Overall, our fellow passengers were good, friendly people. There were people from a wide variety of backgrounds and everyone got along well. On the very few occasions when someone was obnoxious, the crew quietly stepped in to diffuse the situation. We did notice roving packs of teenagers after 9:00 pm, but they were all really polite kids out having a good time. None of them were rude or problematic. The ship has a 1:00 am curfew for teenagers, so we never heard noise or had a problem with their behavior. The only loud, obnoxious people I saw were four moms who seemed to have had too much to drink at the pool; go figure. Disembarkation was easy. We put our luggage out in the hallway by midnight the night before and didn't have to deal with it until we were off the ship. We left our room by 7:00 am the next morning; you have to be out by 8:00 am anyway. We had a relaxed breakfast in the Windjammer. We waited in the Lyric for about an hour and then disembarked. Be warned, the wait in the Lyric Theater is boring. Bring a book; they had CNN on large screen TV's that repeated the same news every 15 minutes. . .ARGH. Once we were off the ship, we had no trouble finding our luggage, it was color coded. We used the $20.00/person luggage valet service which means once we picked up our bags, we walked 10 feet and United took them from us and sent them to the airport. We didn't have to deal with them until we got home. Since we didn't have to worry about our luggage, we took a 2 hour tour of Old and new San Juan that ended with us being dropped off at the airport. Everything went very smoothly. We had a fantastic time overall and can't wait to do it again. Our vacation was easy, relaxed and fun. Thanks Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
We just returned from our Southern Caribbean cruise on Adventure of the Seas, and it truly was an adventure! We had booked a flight from Detroit to San Juan on Northwest Airlines for Saturday, the day prior to the cruise, so we'd be ... Read More
We just returned from our Southern Caribbean cruise on Adventure of the Seas, and it truly was an adventure! We had booked a flight from Detroit to San Juan on Northwest Airlines for Saturday, the day prior to the cruise, so we'd be there safely ahead of time. Halfway to Detroit, we had a rear tire blow out on our car, and come to find out my dear husband had removed the spare earlier and not replaced it. We called AAA and ordered a towtruck, but when the truck arrived the driver told us he couldn't tow us with a rear tire flat. So he ended up driving us back home where we picked up the spare tire and drove ourselves back in our other car. In the meantime, we had called Northwest to let them know we wouldn't be making our flight. They offered to let us pick up the only other flight out to San Juan, which was leaving an hour later than our original flight. We couldn't make that one in time, either—so it looked grim. After arriving home, with both cars, I phoned Northwest again and they arranged for us to be on the Sunday flight—which would arrive in time for us to board the ship. We crossed our fingers for luck, and all went smoothly. The plane landed, we got our luggage, got a taxi and were dropped off at the pier before "official" boarding time of 2 pm. Since we had received our cruise documents in the mail, and checked in online ahead of time, we already had our luggage sticky labels filled out, and our boarding passes in hand. The waiting line at the pier looked long, but moved very quickly—we were on the ship within a few minutes. Considering the rocky start to the trip, this was such a relief! We found our stateroom on the 9th deck ready and inviting, my husband's tuxedo and shoes he'd rented were stowed in the closet, and we enjoyed the wine and cheese plate that was set out on the counter. Since we were on the starboard side, we had a nice ocean view on our balcony for drinking our wine (which was excellent) instead of seeing people boarding at the pier. Then we headed up to the Windjammer to sample the food. The buffet in the Windjammer was good, but not as tasty as what we had on the Jewel of the Seas (a smaller ship). Throughout the week, I swear at lunchtime they were serving leftovers from the day before, which I don't ever remember seeing on the Jewel. My favorite items were the desserts—they were ALL exceptionally delicious, often "gourmet" quality tarts, mousse, and cakes—so I could forgive them for serving the same exact pasta, lettuce, and Waldorf salad all week. Breakfast was like the lunch, adequate but the same exact scrambled eggs, ham and cheese omelet, sausages, bacon, etc. all week. We ate breakfast in the dining room twice, where there were elegant surroundings but not much difference in the food (except we got real toast there). Dinner was very good each day, we tried seafood, steak, duck, chicken, turkey, pork, and some Indian vegetarian entrees—all were tasty and well-prepared. Salads were made with the freshest ingredients. Desserts, to die for! Our servers were attentive and friendly. We were at a table for 8, but two nights we were the only 2 at the table. One other couple, who were delightful company, joined us at the table the other 5 nights. I felt sorry for the waiters, as two of their big tables were half empty along with ours, which surely cut into their tips. Why people would eat in the Windjammer for dinner instead of the dining room I can't imagine—the dining room meals are at the top of the list of what we love about cruising! Our stateroom was immaculately kept by our attendant, Billy. We requested distilled water for my CPAP breathing machine which he procured immediately. The entire week, he kept our cabin in great shape, replacing our used towels and making our bed multiple times each day (we got so tired out from all the activities we had to take one or two naps). Whenever we saw him, he greeted us heartily with a big smile. Other attendants in that hallway were the same way, very friendly and seemed to enjoy their work. The shows in the Lyric Theater and the Ice Show were exceptional—we have found cruise shows to be entertaining but somewhat cheesy, but these were way better than any we have seen before. The choreography, artistic sets, costuming, lighting, and performances were awesome! The "Cool Art, Hot Ice" show is not to be missed. It was not only entertaining, but quite emotionally moving due to the artistic quality (it's far beyond the "Ice Capades" we expected). El Gaucho and the adult comedy show were extremely funny. We didn't attend any of the activities involving cruise member participation (like the love and marriage game) but other people who like that sort of thing said they were fun. I'll take their word for it! We booked shore excursions through the ship ahead of time. On Aruba we did the DePalm Island Snorkeling Adventure, which involved riding in a small bus and taking a short ferry ride to the island. We took our own snorkeling equipment, but the excursion also included it (it was the same brand as my husband's own equipment). All the food and beverages you could eat were included. The snorkeling here was excellent, lots of colorful fish everywhere. The reefs are quite shallow, and the sea was rough—swells would carry us uncomfortably close to rocks and reefs at times—but that added to the excitement. A couple people got scrapes, but we emerged unscathed. This was a half-day excursion, so we were too tired to explore Aruba. We want to return there for a vacation to experience more of the island than a cruise allows. We snorkeled again at St. Maarten, at the Tiki Hut Snorkel Park. A boat took us all to the park, which consists of a floating raft with a Tiki Hut on it (a bar serves alcohol, freshly grilled hot dogs and burgers), and lounge chairs. They have a private area for snorkeling, in a beautiful spot of rocky shore. Lots of rocks, sunken ship wrecks, cannons, and a submarine lurk under the water's surface to look at while snorkeling. Fish were pretty but not plentiful. We saw an eel and lots of sea urchins and different types of coral. People were able to return to the cruise ship whenever they desired—the young people who operated this excursion were very pleasant and responsive. Once again, we were too tired to explore the town after returning to the ship (nap time, again)…so that will be on the next trip agenda. In Curacao, we walked around Willemstad, which had lots of places to spend money on drinks, food, and merchandise. We're not really into shopping, and the food on the ship was great, so I wished we had booked a shore excursion here. Our table mates told us at dinner that the Hato Caves and the Dolphin Encounter/Animal Encounter Snorkel and Swim, were among the most memorable experiences of their lives! So that will teach us not to be cheap next time… On St. Thomas we hopped into an open shuttle bus that took us free to a nearby shopping center, where we paid to ride the Paradise Point Tramway up to the highest spot on the island. The view of beautiful St. Thomas was worth the price (which was $1 higher than the price of a ticket through the cruise ship—who'd expect that??). There are some small shops with jewelry and souvenir items, and a restaurant/bar at the top. We had a flying fish sandwich (deep-fried, a bit too long) and French fries there. Looked around the shops in St. Thomas, if you are into serious shopping for jewelry, booze, or clothing you would be in heaven here. We aren't, so we mostly enjoyed looking at all the pretty bright and pastel colored houses and shops, and the gorgeous island scenery. People we spoke with later reported that their trips to Coral World and Magen's Bay were fun. Two days were spent just cruising, so we explored the ship further. There's a casino with a ton of slot machines, we actually witnessed a few people winning a bunch of quarters. We didn't, sorry to say. The pools, hot tubs, and deck lounge chairs were always full of people as was the Promenade street in the center of the ship. Many people enjoying their drinks at the pool and in the bars, all day and into the evenings. There were some great musicians playing-- Latin music and dancing in the Blue Moon bar on the 14th floor, and a folk/rock singer in one of the bars on the Promenade street most evenings. The pizza and Seattle's best coffee available free in the Promenade Café were frequent stops for us. It's the best coffee on the ship, you serve yourself any time of the night or day. We didn't eat at Johnny Rockets or Portofino's, since we saw no need to escape the regular fare. Portofino's got rave reviews from people. Maybe next time! Getting off the ship was easy and smooth—we left our room at 8 am as requested, went to eat breakfast at the Windjammer, then waited in the Lyric Theater with most of the ship's passengers for our number to be called for disembarking. We only had to wait about a half hour, when "group 2" was called to disembark and locate luggage on the pier. We found our luggage after a couple minutes of wandering, whisked through the departure points, got a cab immediately to the airport. Since our flight didn't leave for hours, we ended up sitting around the airport for what seemed an eternity—but the seats were comfortable and the air conditioning kept us super-chilled so it was not bad. Our plane left right on time, and that Northwest pilot actually got us to Detroit an hour early!! Overall, this was a great cruise, with lots of adventure. My husband preferred the smaller Jewel of the Seas to this ship, as it was more congested with people. He's pretty introverted and likes his space, and there just isn't as much private space available on this ship as the Jewel. If you like lots of activity, and have kids, this ship has so much going on all the time for all ages. The Jewel is a more elegant ship, with a more relaxed atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
For our annual Spring Break cruise, our family of 3 decided on the warm climate of the Southern Caribbean. Our family (Dad, Mom & Daughter, 14) have been on cruises for the last 3 years on Carnival Spirit class ships; two to the ... Read More
For our annual Spring Break cruise, our family of 3 decided on the warm climate of the Southern Caribbean. Our family (Dad, Mom & Daughter, 14) have been on cruises for the last 3 years on Carnival Spirit class ships; two to the Mexican Riviera and one to the Western Caribbean. Mom & Dad had been to the Southern Caribbean many years ago and thought it would be a great time to re-visit. For 2008 we were bit by cruise fever and booked this year's cruise two weeks after our 2007 cruise. After a fair amount of research we decided on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas. None of our family had been on RCI before and we had heard so many great things about the line, we wanted to try it (our previous cruises being on Carnival, Norwegian, and Holland America). In booking this cruise, we booked direct with RCI and arranged all of our travel (including transfers) through them in order to guarantee not being responsible for missed/late flights. Coming from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle), with a fairly narrow window of vacation time, we didn't have time to get in a day early or out a day late. Our cruise documents came in on time and included, of course, the dreaded red eye flight to the San Juan, Puerto Rico embarkation point from Seattle via Washington, DC (Dulles/United Airlines). The flight, including connections, went well; and we arrived in plenty of time at the San Juan airport. We were, however, concerned that all of the 5 checked bags would make it all the way; in fact they did. There was a RCI agent near baggage claim who guided us to a meeting point, put us into single file, and marched us to our transfer vans. When we got there we were told to hand our baggage to their baggage handlers where they were tossed into the back of a small box van. Often you are told about tipping porters; here there was not really the opportunity and it was the last time we saw our bags until they showed up outside our room. For expediency's sake, I would recommend having your cruise tags on and all your items for the day with you before you leave baggage claim. The trip from the airport was relatively quick except for another party on the bus had become separated from another in their party and slowed us down by having to verify where all their passes were. The embarkation was the smoothest I think we have ever been through. We got to the ship around 11:30AM and were able to go through a shorter line as we didn't have any luggage to check. The check in was simple as Mom always completes the sea pass first and has everything organized perfectly. The trip through security and screening was no big deal and we were on board really quickly. Being the first trip on a ship as big as Adventure of the Seas, we were a little concerned about there being 'too many people' on the ship and it being too big. Carrying over 3000 passengers, Adventure carries about 1000 more passengers than Carnival's Spirit class vessels. In spite of that, it sure didn't feel that way. Waiting was really only a problem where it comes to elevators. The ship itself, to us, was beautiful; very nicely decorated though not gaudy. Materials seemed well chosen and of good quality. Our room, an outside cabin with balcony was clean and comfortable. It was probably smaller than the Carnival ships we have been on, with a little less storage. The room had a bunk (over the main bed) for our daughter; this was comfortable enough (except for dad regularly slamming his head into it) though the Carnival ships had a convertible sofa for this purpose. The sofa in our RC cabin was not very comfortable and largely useless. One of the best benefits of this cabin was that the door to the balcony was a sliding door that required no bungees to keep open! The deck chairs were comfortable. The bathroom was typical of most every other cruise ship we have been on; tight but efficient. This ship had a hard plastic shower enclosure so there was no wrestling with any shower curtain. Water was warm, to hot. The shower was relatively easy to control the temperature, but it was hard to get cold water at the sink sometimes. The toilet was sometimes reluctant to flush; but eventually it decided to after a few minutes. The layout of the ship was generally OK though getting around was more difficult than it seemed it should be. Elevator travel was pretty bad; especially after a shore excursion. Further, you couldn't skip up a floor and migrate to the other end of the ship to catch the other elevator bank as a lot of the lower floors do not 'go through'. As could be expected, these always seemed to be overly busy at meal time or when coming back from a shore excursion. Dining areas, including the Windjammer informal dining area, are on the aft end of the ship. The ship also had an ice rink, putting course, in line skating course and a basketball court. These seemed to get a fair amount of use; though with dad's recently torn ACL we didn't use a lot of them. The main pool deck is carpeted with 'Astroturf' which was cool to the feet; though you could still get some hot feet on the hard woods near the pool. There were the typical sea day scourges of lounge savers. We did not see RCI enforce this though we didn't have too much of a problem finding space in some nook or cranny. There is a small kid's pool/slide on the aft end that seemed popular. This was also near the kids clubs; our daughter didn't participate in any of these, nor the teen programs, so we can't really comment on them. The other common areas of the ship that we saw include the main promenade, libraries, lounges and internet 'cafes'. The promenade seemed, for some reason, smaller than the pictures we had seen of it. Nonetheless, it was nicely decorated, a good location for people watching or getting a drink. We didn't see a lot of food available as you would think in a typical pub/bar scene but you could probably find food somewhere else. There were also a number of shops down there that were selling the typical cruise fare of merchandise; nothing too special except for the cruise doggie T-shirts. The lowest aft floor had the photo display area and art display near the entrance to the ice rink. This trip we didn't feel the impact of ships photographers like we have in the past. We also didn't purchase any of the photos they took. The lines for many of the sessions seemed long as well. One of the main things people seem to comment on is the food. While our experience is largely a comparison from our Carnival Spirit class ships; suffice it to say we were disappointed in the food. This may be partly from high expectations and shouldn't be construed as saying the food was bad; however, the food was the most disappointing, to us. Simply put, we thought the menu was un-imaginative, bland and not up to the standards we have expected from our previous cruises. We are not really into haute cuisine, but thought it would be better than it was. We were told that this cruise had a new menu that was being worked through. There is room for improvement. None of the dinner dishes seemed to have any flair or spice to them. The steaks were marginal, seafood plain and chicken very average. One night there was a menu entitled "Brilliance of the Seas" so I doubt they were firing on all cylinders. No sign of fillet mignon; anywhere. For breakfast, we ate mainly in the Windjammer; this was pretty plain too. The sausage and potato offerings were bland and not too exciting; scrambled eggs varied by additives daily and there was also an omelet bar. There was no midnight chocolate extravaganza. While there were plenty of bars to get a drink or a soda, there was no quick-access lemonade/juice/ice water available right near the pool. Lunch was OK though limited in scope. The meals seemed largely the same day to day. Carnival had a rotating, made to order, menu that was both fun and tasty. RCI, while largely filling and OK to taste, was less than we expected. The entertainment on AOS was about what we had expected. The stage shows were what you would expect on the open seas; there is a reason these acts are on the sea and not on Broadway. That isn't a complaint, just a fact of life in our eyes. The ice show was really pretty good and should not be missed if you are looking for entertainment. Shore excursions!! Aruba was the first; mom & dad had been there before and had high hopes for this island. We had booked on the Jolly Pirates, private booking, but were cancelled due to 'mechanical problems' the week before the cruise. Conveniently, RCI closed its shore excursion bookings at the same time so we couldn't book through them, or anything else. Needless to say our back up was less than inspiring. Our advice, hit a beach straight away or do a jeep trip. Skip the sights of Aruba. Curacao, our second site, was great. We booked a tour through Curacao -ACTIEF, privately. They arranged a 'customized' tour that hit a lot of the island and some of the beaches. It was a lot of fun. Kudos to Howard, our guide, who made it most fun; probably the best guided tour we have been on. St. Maarten mom & daughter went to a beach (Oyster Bay - don't miss the infinity pool) and shopping. This was probably the best shopping opportunity for our family; especially if you are into 'purses'. Look for Sona or Kenny's on Front Street. Dad had booked an excursion on the Americas Cup sailing regatta, through the ship. If you are into sailing, and maybe if you are not, this was the BEST shore excursion that dad has ever been on. We raced a five leg race with a pair of original Americas Cup 12 meter yachts. Everyone wants to be on Stars & Stripes; we were on Canada 2, racing against Stars & Stripes and won. What fun! It can be a lot of work (grinders) but you can also enjoy the ride. A GREAT day. On St Thomas, we ditched shopping and booked a catamaran trip to St Johns for snorkeling, sun enjoyment, and drinks on the way back. This was great for us as it allowed us some relaxing downtime towards the end of the cruise. Other random comments: Drinks seemed more expensive than they should be; caveat emptor, and be aware of ways to minimize the hit. We had read about the 'make up' of the passenger clientele being skewed to a particular direction; this cruise was no different than any we had been on before and probably better behaved than some. The service was generally great; we would not discount RCI based on this. Our trip back from San Juan took TWO DAYS!! Booked through RCI on United we missed connections and spent a lost day in Washington DC. We were taken care of and put up in a nice place, but when you call RCI and ask about 'getting us home' they tell you that 'you have to talk to United; we have a contract with them.' What about our contract with RCI?!! In all, we had a great time. While we were disappointed in a number of factors, none of them ruined our trip. We probably would do this trip and other RCI trips, again but with different expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
Some things were fantastic; others were just average. Most of the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. The ones that weren't were pretty bad. One in particular was rude, argumentative and inept. We had an inside cabin and ... Read More
Some things were fantastic; others were just average. Most of the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. The ones that weren't were pretty bad. One in particular was rude, argumentative and inept. We had an inside cabin and found it to be completely sufficient. The bed wasn't as comfortable at home but really not too bad. If you like to sleep late the very dark room will help. The Windjammer Cafe was the buffet and it was adequate. I wouldn't say great, but good as far as buffets go. The eggs aren't real (unless you eat eggs from the omelet station), bacon and sausage extremely greasy. Sometimes it is difficult to find a seat so I recommend not being afraid to ask if you can share. The food in the dining room was excellent and as is usual for a cruise, you can have as many options as you like. Service was exceptional. We attended the murder mystery dinner at Portofino and while the food and service were phenomenal, the "show" part was not as good as other murder mystery dinners I've been to. Way too pricey for what you get. We didn't bother with Johnny Rockets, room service or the Promenade Cafe. Tips are already included on most things, but the staff does expect a bit more each time. Drinks are expensive but they don't skimp on the alcohol either. Unless you drink a LOT of soda, the $50 price for unlimited soda is pretty high. Shore excursions were pretty good. Doing them though leaves little time for exploring on your own. Probably the one thing that will keep me from cruising again as I like to settle into a place and feel the culture, etc. If you like a more leisurely paced vacation with more flexible time restraints, you may not want to cruise. I found the nightly shows in the Lyric Theater to be amateurish and for one we actually left in the middle. The "sales" show was irritating, but if you want to do some jewelry shopping you can get all the coupons you need by going. Although more than once I found that what was advertised wasn't available. The repetitive tv shows in the room got old after a while, but you don't really spend a lot of time in the room anyway. The casino was horribly smoky. I walked in and immediately couldn't breathe and I was just passing through! Forget trying to stay in there and gamble. Most areas were smoke-free or adequately ventilated. The solarium pool (adults only) was nice and relaxing. The large pool though was very loud (the live band was incredibly loud and there was no way to escape it unless you left the pool area altogether) and crowded and lots of kids. Expect to do a lot of waiting for elevators. Either it takes forever for one to come or they are completely full. The spa was expensive and you are given a really hard sell for additional treatments and products. The salute to the kitchen and dining room staff during dinner seemed a bit pretentious to me. The lines to check in luggage upon embarkation were a disaster. No organization whatsoever and nobody seemed to know what was going on. Once you get rid of your luggage though it moves pretty quickly. When leaving the ship I highly recommend using one of the porters. It was worth the $10 we gave him to bypass the taxi line in the heat and humidity of San Juan and let him get a taxi for us further down the entrance. Taxi is about $25 to the airport from the pier. Watch your online bill carefully. We weren't the only ones who had charges on their accounts that weren't theirs. Don't pack liquor in your carryon. No matter what they tell you on the ship you cannot get through security with it. You'll have to check it or toss it out. And lastly, don't be late back to the ship. They will not wait for you. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
First time cruiser here. Just returned from Adventure of the Seas, Southern Caribbean, August 24-31. We were not prepared for the humidity! Never again will I go to the Caribbean in August! (We are from Denver -it's a dry heat.) No ... Read More
First time cruiser here. Just returned from Adventure of the Seas, Southern Caribbean, August 24-31. We were not prepared for the humidity! Never again will I go to the Caribbean in August! (We are from Denver -it's a dry heat.) No matter what, don't forget your sunscreen! And you actually have to put it on in order for it to work. This concept was apparently lost on many people on board. We arrived in San Juan on Saturday evening. We took a cab from the airport ($25 with tip) and stayed overnight at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. I thought it was across from where the cruise ship docked -- but this ship docked at the Pan America pier, which was another $20 cab ride away. The hotel was fine; the pool looks better on the website than it actually is. The burger place at the hotel was OK. We saw the Senor Frog's behind the hotel the next morning -- Oh well. Sunday morning we walked around Old San Juan. It took us quite a while to find anyplace open for breakfast -- we wished we had eaten at the hotel. We walked out to El Morro along the water, which was nice, but we were disappointed not to be able to get up to the fort from the end of the path. By the time we walked back to where we could enter, we were too drenched with sweat (did I mention the humidity?), so we called it a day (at noon) and went back to the hotel where we had stashed our bags with the concierge. What a difference a couple of hours makes -- The hotel lobby was now packed with people and luggage. We got ours and got our cab and went to the ship. I think everyone else was waiting for cruise ship transfers. We had booked a junior suite (it was only $100 more per person than a regular balcony room), so we checked in at the little suite check-in podium. Once we figured out we could do this, we were pleased with how quickly our check-in went. Everyone else was in one of two very long lines. FYI, it doesn't matter which line you get in, despite what the overhead signs might imply. We liked our cabin a lot -- #9328. It is quite large with much more storage space than we needed. The bathroom was small, but probably bigger than non-junior-suite balcony rooms. We had a tub but the shower curtain was tiny and our floor got wet every time we showered. Our balcony was nice but I didn't use it very often (it was too humid outside!). My husband used it more than I did. We both liked being out there as we left port, though. We shared a dinner table with two honeymooning couples who were very nice. I thought the food and service were fine. I read another review of this same cruise and was surprised at all the complaints. We never had any issues with the wait staff or the food. Johnny Rockets was fun for a change, but maybe not worth the cover charge since they charge you for shakes. We split one shake and ordered dessert instead of getting two shakes. Dessert is included -- and yummy (oreo sundae). Portofino's was awesome -- I highly recommend it! A meal like that in Denver would be $300, easy, so well worth the $20 per person. We only went to the adult pool. No chance of swimming. It was too crowded -- only room in the pool to stand and sip your drinks, which were always flowing, thanks to the omnipresent bar staff. Lots of shade, which was nice, and we always managed to find chairs. I think the combined space in the 2 whirlpools is probably bigger than that of the pool. I had a mediocre massage at the spa. Certainly not worth the $195 (pre-tip) for 75 minutes. The sales pitch at the end was really annoying. The only show we went to was the ice show. It was pretty cool. We had late dining, so by the time the other shows were on for us, we were too tired to go! Excursions: We went on a catamaran snorkeling tour on Aruba. The shipwreck was very cool -- not to be missed! On Curacao, we were supposed to do the dolphin swim, but it had to be canceled because of some sort of illegal waste dump or oil spill by a tanker. (The dolphin and cruise ship folks told us it was a dump of human waste and plastic; our cab driver later told us it was oil.) We were disappointed, of course, but I was really mad at the illegal dumpers -- I'll refrain from repeating the expletives I used to describe them at the time. So, we found a cab driver at the pier who took us to the Hato Cave (which, much to my chagrin, happens to be above ground, and thus even MORE hot and humid than the outdoors). She was great. She waited for us and then dropped us in town. $60 (with tip) for about 3 or 4 hours of her time. On St. Maarten, we did not have anything planned, so we rented a car at the dock for $40 and drove around the whole island. This is not recommended for the feint of heart. They apparently have no rules of the road on St. Maarten. We ended up at Orient Beach, which is beautiful -- except for the fat naked guy. On St. Thomas, we took the St. John Beach Tour to Trunk Bay. It was really beautiful. The ferry trip over was kind of rough, but I didn't see anybody losing it over the side. Trunk Bay is gorgeous, but I think we saw more fish at the shipwreck on Aruba. Days at sea: I really don't remember what we did on our first day at sea. On our second day at sea, we decided we needed to take advantage of some of the features of the ship. So, we went ice skating (the skates hurt my feet, but it was fun), rock climbing (tip: wash the sunscreen off your hands first so you can get a better grip on the holds), and in-line skating (the course is full of hairpin turns, so you can't really get any speed up), and we played mini-golf and shuffleboard. It was a busy morning! By then we were hot (although the humidity is not as bad during the days at sea), so we spent the rest of the day at the pool. Other notes: I got to experience the "Hospital" on board, as I got stung by something while snorkeling on Aruba. The last time I got a sting like that, which was in Hawaii 2 years ago, the rash spread all over my arms and legs, so I thought I would try to preempt that from happening again. When I told the doctor about the Hawaii experience, he said "Let's give you a shot." I asked if it was cortisone, and he said it was like that -- but I don't remember what it was. Suffice to say the rash did not spread, so to me it was worth the $148! The doctor was from Colombia, spoke English fairly well, and was very nice. Complaint: Every day there is a "drink of the day" for which you pay a certain price ($6.75 or so) and you get to keep the souvenir hurricane glass it comes in. Well, they ran out of the souvenir hurricane glasses by the third day, yet they still charged the same amount for the drink. We scoured every bar on the ship (and there are LOTS of bars on the ship) and no one had any more. Then on the last night they were selling them on the Promenade for $3.75 -- empty. LAME!!! Disembarkation: Bring a book. We were in group 2 (out of 10) and still had to wait for what seemed liked an eternity to get out of there. We took a taxi to the airport ($25 with tip) and checked our bags with no problem. I don't know why anyone would pay $20 to check bags at the ship, or pay $14.75 per person for a cruise ship transfer to the airport. If you have 2 people or more, it will be cheaper to take a taxi. The taxi prices I listed included 2 bags. Next cruise will be Alaska next year, but we will try a different cruise line so we can see how other ships are different. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
This was a a cruise undertaken by two families of four. This was our family's fifth cruise and first with RCI. Both sets of parents are 50-ish and the kids are 15, 15, 13, and 12. We flew into San Juan on Saturday, and stayed at the ... Read More
This was a a cruise undertaken by two families of four. This was our family's fifth cruise and first with RCI. Both sets of parents are 50-ish and the kids are 15, 15, 13, and 12. We flew into San Juan on Saturday, and stayed at the Intercontinental, all arranged by RCI. As this ship did not sail until 8 pm on Saturday it may not have been necessary. The Intercontinental is very nice, as it its beach and pool area. Restaurant Alfredo's is pricey and only fair. The only issue was confusion in our pickup on Sunday morning--we were told that it would be at 1 and that the driver would come into the lobby and identify himself as the RCI driver. We got on a bus at 1:30, the man never came in and announced himself, and frankly I am not certain that he was the right person. But he got us to the dock regardless! The beauty of this entire procedure was that our bags were taken separately to the ship; those persons who had their own bags (either from the airport or who stayed at the hotel but took themselves to the dock) had to wait in an extremely long line to take care of their luggage; those of us with no bags walked right on. We spent some time in Old San Juan before embarking. This was a waste. FYI, you cannot walk from the ship to Old San Juan (other ships dock right in town but not this one) Ship: Beautiful, and well maintained. The theatre spaces were a cut above those of other ships. The Promenade is a great public space. It works so much better than the "split" promenade deck of other ships. We loved having the shops, an eatery, and two bars in the central open space. Brilliant design idea. It was quite inviting, and a great place to people watch! Staterooms: From all accounts I was expecting these to be very small. They were more than adequate with plenty of storage space for two. Four would have been tough. Bathrooms were spotless. Tiny stall shower but perfectly adequate. One complaint: our daughters had an inside stateroom which frequently had a sulfurous smell. Outer decks and pool area: Laid out very well, with adequate number of chairs, plenty of walking space, and enough shaded areas. Very nice. Excursions: This was my only disappointment on this cruise. I did not feel that the desk personnel were really familiar with all of the excursions and they did not really help me to figure out what I wanted to do. In St. Maarten we took the Marigot/Beach tour, only to find on our arrival in Marigot that it was a French national holiday! (everything was closed.) They clearly should have been aware of this. They did give us a partial refund when we asked but we would not have chosen this tour had we known. In St. Thomas we did the Coral World/Megan's Bay tour. This was actually quite good. Coral World is an interesting place with an underwater observatory where you can see many varieties of tropical fish in their reef. We went to the beach on our own in both Aruba and Curacao. Overall I think that if we had it to do again, we would have just gone to the various beaches in a cab rather than doing excursions through the ship. Shopping: Excellent if you are interested in high-end watches, jewelry, etc. It was tough for my girls to shop--not much for them out there at a level between the souvenir shop and the diamonds. Ship staff: My husband and I felt very well taken care of and pampered by everyone we encountered. My girls, however, felt that they were not treated quite as well, as though they were an annoyance to some of the staff. Food: Very good. Interesting selections and overall great quality. The Cafe Promenade is open 24 hours, which is nice. Chef made a vegetarian Indian dish every night. Disembarkation: Take advantage of the offer to have your bags automatically checked. It is $20 and well worth it. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
On this cruise were my husband and me (ages 30 & 29) and my in-laws. This was my sixth cruise (4 previously with RCI and 1 with Carnival), my husband's third, and my in-laws' first. We arrived in San Juan the day before the ... Read More
On this cruise were my husband and me (ages 30 & 29) and my in-laws. This was my sixth cruise (4 previously with RCI and 1 with Carnival), my husband's third, and my in-laws' first. We arrived in San Juan the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. This hotel was a 10-15 - minute drive from the Pan American Pier. I loved staying in Old San Juan because there was plenty to do and see there. We had dinner at the Parrot Club, which was excellent. My husband and I went to Senor Frog after dinner, but it was pretty dead there, so we had just one drink and then decided to use the match play coupons given to us by the hotel. (This hotel has an attached casino.) I won $75 in blackjack that night (which was later "donated" to the casino on Adventure)! The morning of the cruise, we had breakfast at La Bombanera, which (along with Parrot Club) had been highly recommended here on Cruise Critic. The food at La Bombanera was great (Try the mallorca!), but the service left a lot to be desired. Embarkation was the fasted and easiest I have ever experienced. We arrived a little before noon. It took less than 30 minutes from stepping out of the taxi to stepping on to the ship. The only time we had to wait in a line was to drop off our luggage with the porters. Since it was so early, the cabins weren't ready yet, so we headed to the Windjammer. I was still full from breakfast, so I can't comment on the food, but the service was much better than it had been on previous cruises. There was always a server available to bring a drink or clear away the used plates. The cabins were supposed to be ready by 2:00, but by 2:05 the doors to the hallways were still closed (at least on Deck 9). After seeing several people open the doors themselves and go to find their cabins, I decided to do the same. The cabin was ready, but this was the messiest cabin I have ever had. I always bring a packet of Clorox wipes with me to disinfect things like door handles, the phone, and TV remote; but this time I actually had to use them to clean the cabin. Some kind of liquid had been spilled or splashed (and dried) against the wall, the cabinets, and drawers, so I cleaned those off myself. There was a similar type of stain on the outside of the front door that would not come off. In the bathroom, our shower doors wouldn't close completely, leaving a half-inch gap that let water out onto the floor. After my first shower, the shampoo was empty and remained empty for a couple of days while we tried to get in touch with our cabin steward. We tried calling him, but that didn't work. We thought about leaving a note, but we didn't have any tape, and I kept thinking that surely we'd run into him in the hallway sometime anyway. (We finally did two days later.) I didn't get a good night's sleep during the entire cruise. The bed was extremely hard - like sleeping on a board with a blanket tossed over it. And our wall often made a clicky, creaking sound which kept us up at night. The food was good but not great. Some of the food was bland, such as the vidalia onion tart, which had been so good on Explorer. The service was mostly good; there were just a few occasions of being served the wrong item. The bartending service at dinner, however, was exceptional. The server (Garry?) always remembered exactly how I like my after-dinner coffee. And I was very impressed that when he saw me at the Crown & Anchor party he remembered my name and came over to say hi. I was disappointed at the number of people wearing jeans and casual t-shirts in the dining room, but I guess that's getting more and more common these days. Most people, however, were appropriately dressed. We ate at Portofino one night, and the food and service there were much better than in the main dining room and much better than what I experienced at Portofino on Explorer last year. The seafood skewer was absolutely delicious! We also had lunch at Johnny Rockets. Again, the service was significantly better than it had been on Explorer. However, after waiting at least 30 minutes to sit down, I did not appreciate the server's attempts to rush us through our meal. They really ought to try to fit in another booth or two up there. One other disappointment was learning that RCI no longer does the Gala Midnight Buffet. They did have a poolside buffet one night, which was okay, but I really miss the spectacle and tradition of the Gala buffet. The production shows on this cruise were not quite up to par with what I've seen in the past. I thought they were cheesy, a little boring, and generally unimpressive. The performers were great, but I think they need a new idea for their shows and a new choreographer. The first adult comic was hilarious, but the second one (the older gentleman) was not very funny at all. We attempted to watch "Beatle Mania," but it was so loud that it was becoming painful. And I'm someone who has enjoyed front-row seats at alternative/rock concerts in the past! We left during the second song, and my in-laws left during the third. As a former figure skater, coach, and choreographer, I am always eager to see the ice show, but I was a little disappointed with this one. Aside from the part with the giant metal rings (which was really amazing and something I had never seen on ice before), I felt a lot like I did watching the production shows - the performers were great, but the substance and choreography of the show itself were not very impressive. This is kind of random, but I was really surprised and annoyed by the fact that the casino won't take dollar coins. I know they're not really common, but they're legal, legitimate currency! And I'm not just talking about using the coins at the tables or in the machines, I couldn't even get the cashier to take the dollar coins and give me dollar bills to use in return! I like bringing dollar coins on the cruise for easy tipping, and I had planned to use the rest of what I had left in the casino on the last night. Oh well, I guess they saved me some money! Shore Excursions: Aruba: Sail, Snorkel, Swim, & Swing - This was a really fun excursion run by Jolly Pirates. The snorkeling (2 different sites) was very good, and the rope swing was a blast. My only complaint about this excursion is that they could have been a little more generous with the open bar. The rum punch was so weak that some of us started asking for an extra shot of rum in our drinks. The girl serving drinks did give us an extra (small) shot of rum, but she seemed less than thrilled about doing it. On most excursions that offer an open bar, they're constantly refilling your drinks, but on this one, I almost felt bad about asking for a drink. But the excitement of the rope swing more than made up for the lackluster bar service. Sunset Catamaran - They were much more generous with the drinks on this one, and they had a better selection of drinks too. One warning: If they tell you that the seas are rough, do not go to the very front of the catamaran! I did and got completely drenched when we suddenly hit a big wave! I was soaking wet for the remainder of the cruise. Nevertheless, I found this to be a very nice, relaxing excursion that offered excellent views of the ship lit up at night. Curacao: Culinary Delights - Being a beach-lover and not much of a cook, I wasn't sure how I'd like this excursion, but I decided to take a chance and try something different, and I am so glad I did! This was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Clarita and her wonderful staff made the cooking fun and easy. And after all that cooking, it was really nice to sit out on the back porch and enjoy a long lunch (with some pretty good wine) with about 20 of my fellow cruisers. Clarita also told us a lot about the local culture and life on the island. When I got back home, I made the "hidden sardines" with "spicy onion pickle" for my family and everyone went nuts for it! I know it sounds strange, but I promise you it's delicious! After the excursion we went across the street to a little pastry shop for an extra treat, and then we were led back to town where we could either go back to the ship or explore the area on our own. St. Maarten: We got a good deal on some jewelry at Joe's on Front Street. (This is one of the recommended shops in the shopping booklet.) At 10:30, we decided to get an early lunch before our scuba excursion. We tried the Greenhouse, but they don't open until 11:00. Next we tried Holland House, but they don't open until noon. We went back to Joe's to pick up my jewelry (I needed a ring resized.) and the salesman there recommended Talula Mango's for lunch. This was a casual restaurant with very good food. (The shrimp and scallop skewer was delicious!) We ate outside on the covered patio where we had a view of the boardwalk and the ship in the distance. Then it was off to our Discover Scuba excursion, which we've done several times before, and once before in St. Maarten. Our guide, (Kelly?), was great at pointing out interesting fish (and an octopus!) that we wouldn't have noticed on our own, and she even took a few pictures of us scuba diving with my underwater camera. The diving was fantastic, and even the ride to and from our dive site was really nice, with great views of the ship and the coastline. We bought one bottle of Rum Jumbie in St. Maarten, and wished we had bought 3. That is some good stuff, so stock up! St. Thomas: This was my 3rd time here, so we decided to do the St. John Champagne Catamaran. This and the scuba diving were my favorite excursions of the entire trip. The snorkeling at St. John was fantastic! I had planned on spending about half my time snorkeling and half my time on the beach, but there was so much to see that I lost track of time and ended up snorkeling the entire time! The crew was friendly and fun, and very generous with the drinks on the way back to St. Thomas. There was constantly someone walking around to refill our champagne. We also enjoyed snacks of cheese, bread, pretzels, veggie chips, and fresh fruit. I think my favorite part of the entire week was sitting out on this catamaran and soaking up the sun while sipping on champagne and enjoying the beautiful scenery. But no trip to St. Thomas is complete without a stop at Magen's Bay. The beach was surprisingly uncrowded and breathtakingly beautiful as always. We swam for a while, then I relaxed in a lounge chair sipping on a Bushwacker until it was time to leave. Magen's Bay is my favorite place on earth - it really is paradise! The next day it was time to disembark. We had a tour of the Bacardi Rum distillery that day. I was worried that it would be hectic fitting in an excursion between disembarkation and the flight home, but everything was relatively smooth and easy. The only glitch was that we arrived at the Bacardi factory about 50 minutes before they opened, so we had to drive around San Juan for a while longer. We got a nice bus tour, but I would have rather been able to take my time getting off the ship instead. When we did get into the Bacardi tour, it was a little disappointing. We were only given two small rum drinks; I had thought that we'd be able to sample several different varieties of rum. We watched a video on the history of Bacardi, saw artifacts and reproductions, but we didn't really get to see where they make the rum. I would call this a "Bacardi Museum Tour," as opposed to a "Bacardi Distillery Tour." When my parents took this tour last year, they were given samples of the 12-year limited edition rum that sells for $80 per bottle. We were told that this is not available to sample. It's probably a good thing because my parents had warned me that it tastes terrible! On my parents' tour, there was a couple who purchased 2 bottles before tasting it. After tasting it they tried (in vain) to get their money back! I guess they can sell a lot more of the rum now that they don't let anyone taste it first! We used the luggage valet, which I was nervous about, but our bags arrived safe and sound at our final destination. I would not have paid for the luggage valet, however, if I had known that my bags would be taken to the airport in a separate van for free since I had booked an excursion. So the only real benefit of the luggage valet for me was not having to take my bags from the drop-off point at the airport to the check-in counter. Not exactly worth $20. I had been very disappointed with my cruise last year on Explorer of the Seas. I was looking at this cruise on Adventure as Royal Caribbean's chance to redeem themselves; otherwise, I was planning to return to Carnival for my next few cruises. (Love those Carnival beds!) Although it was far from perfect, this cruise did restore my faith in RCI, and we have already booked Adventure for May of '09! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
Since we were doing a back to back, we got to stay on the ship without even getting off in San Juan. You get the new cards and the room steward moves your clothes. Anthony helped us move. If I did not say, he was our room stewart on the ... Read More
Since we were doing a back to back, we got to stay on the ship without even getting off in San Juan. You get the new cards and the room steward moves your clothes. Anthony helped us move. If I did not say, he was our room stewart on the first half of the journey. They cleaned our room first so we stayed in the concierge lounge and waited with DeDe until our room was ready. We had the Royal Suite, #1620 for the second half. DeDe was wonderful and helped us on both parts of our trip. She is really a wonderfully funny person and stays active all the time. So much energy! We got into our room around noon and settled in to wait for the clothing, which came pretty fast. We had everything put away before most people boarded. Dave, of course, went to the balcony. The RS does not have an extra bathroom or bedroom like the RFS, so Cassie used the couch-bed, which she said was comfortable. The first few days were nice, but later on about Wednesday, when the tv went out, things got a little bad. For the last three days, we had tv parts all over the living/dining rooms and could not really get comfortable there, so were pretty much in the bedroom and deck most of that time. I finally asked them to leave so we could get dressed for dinner. Anyway, between the tv problems and the A/C not working in the bedroom, it was not the relaxing time we had on the first part. Besides which, we were directly under the pool deck, which was very noisy. Why they put the biggest room on the ship under the nosiest place is beyond me. We met Alahondro, our room stewart and he was very efficient and nice. He told us that on Friday he had to leave for his daughter's wedding and another person would take over for the other two days, but that he would pay him out of his tips. He kept a cooler for our champagne so we did not have to constantly ask for ice. There was a butler's pantry to the side which we utilized for cold pops and stored our luggage there also. Very convenient. Monday was a sea day, and we had another cruise critic gathering at 2PM, since as I said before, 5PM on a formal night does not give much time to get acquainted. We exchanged regional gifts - I got coffee from San Juan and did another cabin crawl. These are such fun and you get to see other cabin categories. Surprisingly, there were new shows this week from last week. The Beatles review was gone and we had Motown singers instead. Very nice. The singers and dancers were all good, but the singers were not Great. Tuesday, we were in Aruba, where we had been several times. We did some shopping for Cassie's girls hockey team back home and picked up some pop and other items. Back to the ship and relaxing time. The hot tub on our deck was one of the more pleasant memories from this cabin. We used it a lot. Dinner was nice, and we met up with another couple from Britain. The other couples were from Peru and San Juan. Everyone except us spoke Spanish, so we had a few moments where we felt left out, but after the second night, we got along a lot better. Wednesday, we did a shore excursion to Curosel where we did a cooking experience we had done last year. 15 of us were divided into groups who each did a part of the meal and then we ate and drank wine and chatted. It was a fun experience and we got all the recipes afterwards to take home. Angelica was a funny and warm person and we will probably go back again in the future. We ate in the specialty restaurant tonight and we all had the filet. It was good, but not up to a par with Celebrity specialty restaurants. There were several tables who were very loud and took away from the relaxing atmosphere that is usually a part of these places. We saw the show early that night and it was a good one with lots of singing and dancing. Thursday was a sea day and we decided to do another drink party for others we had met at the cooking class and our tablemates. Again, it was nice to relax and chat with new people. Afterwards, we went up to the pool in the quiet section. Friday, at St. Maarten, since we had shopped the week before, Dave & I decided to do a beach and went to Orient Beach. Beautiful turquoise water and very relaxing with chairs and umbrellas (for $11.00). I decided to do my first parasailing experience. Boy, was that fun! I could not believe how much fun it was to be way above the ocean and beach and see for miles. WOW! Then we went to a little restaurant on the beach where we had a burger and fries. Very expensive! But it was a pretty place. After a while, we decided to go back to the ship and relax a bit before dinner. Since tomorrow is the last day, I did a little packing. A comedian was that night and he was funny. Friday, in St. Thomas, Dave & I did another beach day but the beach was not as nice as St. Maarten. It was, however, nice enough. We left about 1PM to go back to the ship. Overall, the cruise was fun except for the problems with the room. Service was excellent and entertainment was good. Disembarkment was extremely fast and we were off the ship about 9:30 and in a cab about 10 minutes later. We had done the express delivery of luggage to the airport, so did not have to take it along. We rented a day room at the Caribe Hilton and enjoyed a few hours on the beach before heading back home. The person who impressed me the most was DeDe - the concierge. She was always ready to help and no problem was too small or too large for her to handle. Thanks DeDe for a wonderful cruise. Cassie says hi too. Back home was not as great, as we had to replenish our freezer and cold foods from Ike's visit. We waited until we got back in case power went out again without us there. We enjoyed AOS for two weeks, and the weather was beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
We have been on a dozen cruises since 1985 on various lines. The 3 prior to this one were on Carnival so that will be my comparison. This particular ship compares in size to the Carnival Glory which we sailed on about 3 years ago. ... Read More
We have been on a dozen cruises since 1985 on various lines. The 3 prior to this one were on Carnival so that will be my comparison. This particular ship compares in size to the Carnival Glory which we sailed on about 3 years ago. Boarding in San Juan was the WORST part of the cruise. There were two lines at the cruise port. One line was simply to drop your luggage off. There was one guy at the end of it and his job was to get your tip money (he did not get any from us). The line was about 1000 people long and was more than the length of the building. You set your luggage down and it is placed in luggage containers to be forklifted onto the ship. We were then told to get in another line to the left of the first line. This line was about half as long as it eventually became two lines. There were only 2 doors available to have ID checked and get into the cruise port building. Once we got into the building (after 1 1/2 hours) check in and boarding was a breeze. Had we known better we would have obtained luggage tags (up towards front of first line), placed luggage in containers ourselves (there were several to the side of the two lines), and gotten into the second line. Apparently this operation is run by an independent contractor (the line for the Caribbean Princess next door looked just as bad) and there must be a lot of importance in accounting for and getting as much tip $$$ as possible). Weather for entire 7 days was fantastic. Decor of ship was reserved but nice (I liked decor on Carnival Glory and Miracle better - my wife liked this). I thought cabin was small compared to other cruises - we did go with inside this time and have had balcony on last two cruises but still seemed PRETTY small. One nice thing about an inside though is the total darkness at night - great sleeping!!! We did not receive basket of toiletries as we have in past on Carnival and there were no adult beverages in mini bar as on Carnival. I thought cabin decor was downright plain. One nice touch was the shower enclosure which kept water from flooding rest of bathroom. Cruise director Mike was one of the best we have seen - the entertainment was very good. Enjoyed the live orchestra as well as the sing-along in the pub- had Murphys red ale there too! THERE WAS NO COLLEGE FOOTBALL SHOWN ANYWHERE ON SATURDAY. INEXCUSABLE! THE ONLY SPORTS ON TV WAS SOCCER AND TENNIS - YUK WHAT A WASTE 7 TVS IN SPORTS BAR SHOWING SAME CHANNEL! THEY SAY THAT DUE TO LICENSING RULES THEY CAN'T DO - BUT OTHER LINES DO!!! They did show Sunday night NFL and I think probably Monday night Food was excellent. I thought the first 5 days cuisine beat Carnival - the last two days so-so. The service in the dining room was great - better than Carnival - but several nights there were many empty seats at early dining. I guess it was a combination of folks dining elsewhere on the ship and some folks (esp Latin Americans) preferring late seating. Our cabin was located in the aft section of the ship on Deck 10. If I had it to do over again I would go to mid front of ship. This is because of the way the elevators are set up. There are really only 2 banks of public elevators. One is mid-front. One is mid aft. The aft elevators are frequently jam packed with people - especially during any eating time (which is pretty much all day) This is because all eating options except one are in extreme aft part of ship. The forward elevators can get crowded too - but not as often. We really enjoyed the viking lounge area (19th hole). Views were spectacular and lounge was uncrowded. Also we did not notice smokers as much. At pool they are restricted to starboard side. Speaking of pools-both were great, service was great, no problem finding deck chairs. did not enjoy "Euro music". I guess that's what it was if you want to call a bunch of banging percussion for 10 min at a time "music". It was only played a couple of times by DJ. Pool carib band was good. We brought laptop and surfed internet at pool $.37 per minute though! Ports were interesting and shopping director tried hard. We did not do any tours except for El Junque rain forest on last day after disembarking - it was "ok" - also allowed us to get off ship early and get free transport to airport. 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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