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 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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