Sail Date: March 2007
My husband, daughter (27), and son (24) left for a wonderful cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas on March 11, 2007. We flew into San Juan on Sunday, and arrived at the airport at approximately 1 p.m. Embarkation was quick. We got our ... Read More
My husband, daughter (27), and son (24) left for a wonderful cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas on March 11, 2007. We flew into San Juan on Sunday, and arrived at the airport at approximately 1 p.m. Embarkation was quick. We got our sea passes, and placed our carry-on luggage in our cabins (two Promenade cabins: 7603 and 7601). My son and husband went to the Fort, while my daughter and I went to Dooney & Bourke, where we purchased two purses. Then it was back to the ship. Our previous cruise was on the Navigator of the Seas. When we began exploring the Adventure, we remarked how it felt as if we had not even left the Navigator. The Adventure is in excellent shape, and is a beautiful ship. We did not have the beds/bedding replaced in our cabins, but I did ask for the egg crates, and that helped out immensely. We enjoyed the captain, Per Arne Kjonso, and looked forward to his daily musings - at times lengthy, but enjoyable nonetheless. The Entertainment: Excellent Day One: Sarah and Daniel - excellent; Eric Lyden, comedian - hilarious, and the Royal Caribbean Dancers and Singers. Day Two: The Original Drifters - EXCELLENT. They performed their hit songs. Later that evening, Eric Lyden gave a late-night adult comedy show. Absolutely hilarious. The audience egged him on. Day Three: The Ice Show, "Cool Art, Hot Ice" - Not to be missed - we went on Thursday evening. Day Four: The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, "Can't Stop the Rock" - We enjoyed this production; it was the better of their two performances. Day Five: El Gaucho (interactive comedy, music, and visual effects): excellent; as well as the ice show, "Cool Art Hot Ice". Day Six: The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, "Velvet Rope" - we were not as impressed with this performance. Day Seven: Carl Banks, comedian: Excellent; Sarah & Daniel: Excellent; and, the Royal Caribbean Dancers and Singers. As well, there were many other entertainment venues around the ship. We played a couple of trivia games in the Schooner Bar, and enjoyed the performers in the Duck and Dog and the Schooner Bar. We always enjoy Quest, and this week's game did not disappoint. This is adult comedy, and not to be missed. If anyone can be easily offended, they should not attend. I could go on and on about the entertainment. There really was so much to do. The Ports: Excellent Itinerary Aruba: My husband and son did the snorkeling excursion through the ship, while my daughter and I took a taxi to Palm Beach (we were dropped off at the Radisson). On the way back to the pier, we simply took a bus: price for two -- $2.50 U.S. This was very easy. Beautiful beach. My husband and son enjoyed their snorkeling excursion as well. One of the highlights of our trip was dining at the Flying Fishbone in Aruba. I had made reservations upon the advice of BuyReallyLow. This is such a romantic spot, and the ambiance is exquisite. The tables are at the waterfront in the sand. The food was delicious, and the views of the sunset breathtaking. It was approximately a twenty-minute taxi ride to get there. We all agreed that we would return to this restaurant upon our next visit to Aruba. Curacao: It was an overcast day, and we did not have any excursions planned. The weather did not prove enticing for a day at the beach, so we basically crossed the floating bridge, shopped, visited the Jewish synagogue and the floating market. St. Maarten: My husband and son did the America Cup sailing regatta excursion. They have wonderful memories and pictures. My daughter and I shopped, and then took a taxi to Orient Bay. What a beautiful beach!!! There are many beach activities available here, including jet skiing, snorkeling, and parasailing. St. Thomas, USVI I reserved Godfrey Tours (www.godfreytoursvi.com) about two months prior. We had used Godfrey Tours two visits' ago to St. Thomas, and felt he provided an excellent service. He did not disappoint. This tour costs $25 U.S. per person. However, for this price, Godfrey picked us up at the pier at 9 a.m. and drove us into town for shopping. At 11:45, he picked us up and took us on a two-hour tour of the island with many photo stops along the way. Godfrey is very proud of his island, and provides a very informative narrative throughout the journey. He then gives a choice of beaches: Meagan's Bay, Sapphire, or Coki. We chose Sapphire, a very beautiful beach. He picked us up at 3:45, and we were back at the ship at 4:15. Godfrey has two safari vans. He offers an excellent service for this price. Food: VERY GOOD - EXCELLENT Dinners in the dining room were excellent. We were seated at a table for eight - great company-- and all seemed to be very pleased with their selections of food. We ate, as mentioned previously, at the Flying Fishbone in Aruba, and the next day in Portofino's. Portofino's is a must. What an excellent meal for $20! My daughter and I ate breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer, while my son and husband ate in the dining room when it was open for breakfast and lunch. They also ate at Johnny Rocket's and at the midnight buffet. They enjoyed everything. Meet & Mingle: It was great meeting people with whom I have been chatting over the last few months. Some of us were notified of an incorrect meeting time at 11 a.m. on Monday, when the actual meeting time was 5 p.m. in the Blue Moon Lounge. For this error, we were surprised with a bottle of champagne in our stateroom. Kathleen Tucker, Cruise Critic's President and Publisher, was on this sailing. It was great meeting and chatting with you, Kathleen. Cruise Staff: We liked Mike Hunnerup, the cruise director. He was not obnoxious, and had a quirky sense of humor. Our stateroom attendant and dining staff really aimed to please. Summary: This was our fourth cruise. Previously we had sailed on the Enchantment, the Radiance, and the Navigator. While all our cruises were wonderful, I think that this one was the best. It seemed as if people had a good time, and the ship, entertainment and itinerary were fabulous. What a great adventure we had aboard the Adventure. I'll be happy to answer any of your questions. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
This was our fifth cruise (4th with RCCL) and third on a Voyager Class ship. It was our first in any type of Suite. We arrived the day before departure in San Juan (as we had about 10 hours of travel from Las Vegas to San Juan) and stayed ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise (4th with RCCL) and third on a Voyager Class ship. It was our first in any type of Suite. We arrived the day before departure in San Juan (as we had about 10 hours of travel from Las Vegas to San Juan) and stayed until the day after disembarking. The cruise was from March 4-11, 2007. The weather every day in every port and at sea was sunny and hot with highs in the mid 80s. The seas on the sea days were rough (didn't bother us but our assistant waiter did get sea sick)and winds got up to 40-50 MPH at times. Saturday March 3-Arrived in San Juan with no problems after a red eye and layover in Philadelphia. Checked into the Courtyard Marriott Miramar (ask for Tony he was very helpful) which was relatively between the airport and the Pan Am Pier. It was a nice hotel although there was only one elevator (hint...there is a service elevator behind the main elevator which was much less crowded). A lot of cruise passengers were staying there for both our sailing and the Carnival destiny that left the same as us. There were also lots coming off both ships and staying on the back end so the lobby can get very crowded. Spent the afternoon and early evening walking around Old San Juan and enjoyed a nice dinner and Pina coladas. Sunday March 4-After a nice breakfast at Bistro de Paris at the hotel, we headed off to the pier about 11:15-11:30 (which is late for us as we are normally there by 10-10:30). There was a small line when we arrived (maybe 100-200 people) waiting to get into the terminal. However, when the line began moving, it moved fast and we were checked in and on board before noon. We had priority check in with our suite but it didn't make a difference because of how fast they moved everyone through. Checking in Online saved a lot of time First impressions of the ship were that she has held up very nicely with time. I didn't notice any major signs of age except for some chipped paint on the point guy statute on the promenade (which was a favorite picture spot and people were actually sticking his finger in their noses) and some elevator buttons didn't light up/work. The cabins weren't ready until 2pm and the doors were shut. Our routine is to immediately make our spa and specialty restaurant reservations. We were somewhat disappointed that even though we were one of the first on the ship, the first 4 spa appointment times were tried were all taken already by "VIPs." We had never encountered that before. We made our appointments and reservations at Portofino and then headed to the Windjammer. The food at the Windjammer was, IMHO, not as tasty as it had been on either the Vision or the Navigator but it was still plentiful and good. Seating was, surprisingly, not a problem. One thing that was different was that they had crew members serving every dish at the windjammer (my guess is they had a little sickness the cruise before). This lasted for I think the first two days of the cruise. At 2pm, we got to check out our cabin. As I said, this was our first Junior Suite. We have previously been in Promenade and Balcony staterooms. I must say that the extra space was very nice as was the bathtub as opposed to the "transporter" tubes that other cabins have for showers. We actually had more storage space then we knew what to do with and the walk in closet was very nice. On our sailing, we did not have the new bedding as we were told by our stateroom attendant that they had delivered the wrong shape of mattresses. While our balcony was bigger than our other balconies on prior cruises, it was not that great of a difference. We had two chairs, a small table and a lounge chair on our balcony. At 5pm we met up with a bunch of the Roll Call people and then back to check for the rest of our luggage. All of our luggage arrived with no problems (some had started arriving shortly after 2). Dinner the first night was very good (unfortunately, it would go downhill from here and the food and dining room service was about the only thing on the whole cruise that was not as spectacular as prior cruises). The welcome aboard show was as expected and the cruise director Mike Hunnerup was IMHO very good. Monday-At Sea The seas were very choppy and rough (I felt movement a lot but it never bothered me). Our routine for the first sea day is relax and spa. After a nice breakfast in our cabin, we headed out to the Discover Shopping Show and bought our Savvy Traveler Books (Now I know there are some strong opinions about both the shopping guide and the books. Let me say that we do our research at home and we enjoy the books and the "free Junk" the shops give away in Port. It is a type of treasure hunt for us and our young daughters love all the "jewelry" they get...so we don't get the book for the savings per se but for the fun of tracking the stuff down and for little things we can give our kids) The rest of the day was spent in the spa and relaxing. My one complaint about the spa is the hard sell they put on you at the end. I understand why they do it and don't mind them trying to upsell me, but when I say I don't want something, I don't like getting a response like "Well, its your body and if you don't want to take care of it so be it." To me, that sorta deadens the nice massage experience I just had. We had our official Meet and Mingle Meetup and it was great seeing everyone from the roll call thread (hey Kent, Shannon, Chris, Diane, Penny, Pam, Robyn, Kerri, Claudia, and everyone). I will leave my dinner observations for a summary at the end. The entertainment was the Production Show velvet Rope which I wasn't too hot on although the singers were very good. Late night comedy was a blast and extremely funny. Tuesday-Aruba Aruba brought an early morning and horseback riding. Normally, I book a blend of excursions between private tours and through the ship if nothing private is available. This cruise however, nothing was standing out at me from private operators so all the excursions were through RCCL. The horseback riding was very nice...the ride itself was well over an hour and took us through some neighborhoods as well as down by the water. The horses were not as tame as I've seen in other ports and one woman actually got bucked off her horse. All in all though it was a very nice excursion. After taking shower number 2 for the day because of the heat and dust from riding, we headed into town mainly just walked around and did shopping. DW managed to get her Pink Iguana at Iguana Joes and we enjoyed a nice afternoon of shopping and people watching. We also started a new tradition of trying to find the customs house to get our passports stamped. We returned to the ship for Shower Number 3 of the night and dinner at Johnny Rockets. After dinner we met up with several people at Carlos & Charlies for a few hours. As the ship didn't leave until 1am, we had a blast watching the drunk late returnees to the ship (several of whom we recognized from Carlos & Charlies). Wednesday-Curacao. I had read about how important it was to be up early to see the ship pull into Curacao as it was supposed to be very cool coming into the channel etc. with the pontoon bridge. So, I dragged DW up to the bow EARLY in the AM. Braving 30+ MPH winds, we were disappointed because the Adventure was too big to dock in the channel (As I should have known). Curacao was very pretty. We did the sea lion swim at the Seaquarium which was a highly enjoyable excursion. The rest of the day was spent wandering around town and enjoying the Dutch architecture. DW and I are not "beach" people so we tend to stay away from the beaches during our trips. The entertainment comedy and it was again quite good. This was the evening for our Portofino dinner. I've never eaten at a Portofino before on any of the other ships so I was curious to see if it compared well to the Chops I've been to. While the food and service were excellent (much better than the dining room) my preference (being originally a midwestern guy from Ohio) is still with a good meat and potatoes meal from Chops. I would however highly recommend Portofino and would book it again on a future cruise. Thursday-St. Maarten. Yet another early morning as we had tickets for the Loterie Farm Treetop adventure. This was the best excursion of the trip IMHO. It was physical climbing through the trees and ladders but it was well worth the money. The bus trip over gave us a view of both the French and Dutch sides of the island. After the excursion, we spent the remainder of the day wandering through town and then back to the ship for the ice show. Everyone says the ice shows aren't to be missed and this was our third ice show. It is amazing how the skaters do what they do on such a small sheet of ice especially given the rocky seas. The ice show is not to be missed. The entertainment was either The Original Drifters or the Second Production show (Can't Stop the Rock). We didn't see the Drifters but did enjoy Can't Stop the Rock. It was a much better show than the Velvet Rope show earlier in the week. Again the singers (Hi Dani) were very good. Friday-At Sea. The second sea day was filled with naps, relaxing and just bumming around the ship in general. This would be a good time to discuss the dining room. Overall, this dining room experience was the worst I've had on any RCCL ship. Our tablemates were wonderful, we actually somehow got a 4-top with tablesmates who were also on our roll call so it was really cool. Our waiter and assistant waiter however were not up to normal RCCL standards. It appears that the service went downhill as the week wore on. We later learned that our assistant waiter was brand new (it was her first week in the dining room and only second week on board and she was sea sick). However, the little things were missed (like cokes waiting for us when we sat down). We were presented with more bread though than any human could possibly eat. It took a very long time for our waiter to arrange wine (one night our tablemates' wine sat unopened for 15 minutes on the wait station until finally they had the head waiter open and pour it). Several times, they had to go and find their bottle and refill their glasses as our waiter would disappear and our assistant waiter wouldn't come around once she made her second pass with the bread. A couple of nights, we did not get our entrees until after the bartender had been around hawking the after dinner liquor shots. Although we were always in our seats at 8:30, we never made it out of the dining room until almost every other table had emptied. The food, while acceptable, was not as tasty as I found it on prior cruises and the cuts of meat were fattier than prior cruises. I don't take cruises for the fine gourmet cuisine though so it was all very acceptable. Saturday-St. Thomas. This was a bit weird for us as we had always had the last day be a sea day so it was strange to be in port the day before we were scheduled to depart. We did a discover scuba diving excursion as neither DW nor I am certified but wanted to try it out. The excursion was very cool and we got to both scuba dive and snorkel. The remainder of the day was spent strolling through St. Thomas and people watching from a cafe. The evening brought another trudge through dinner and then the farewell show which was, IMHO, the best of the farewell shows from any cruise. Sunday-San Juan. Time to get off the ship...I hate this day. Although there were hiccups with the dining room, the cruise was excellent and I would recommend the Adventure to anyone. As DW and I didn't have a flight until Monday, we were in no hurry to get off the ship. We lounged in our cabin enjoying the balcony for one last time and then wandered up to the pool deck to hang out. We did not end up getting off until they had made the "Last Call." Customs was nothing more than handing our form in and we breezed through the whole process. It was quite depressing seeing people already lined up to board though as we were catching our cab back to the Courtyard. A few notes about entertainment etc. Overall, I thought the entertainment on this cruise was better than my prior cruises. The comedians were very good and the RC Singers and Dancers were the best I've seen. The piano player in the Schooner Bar was very good (although my favorite all time is still Matt Yee) and we enjoyed several nights listening to James in the Schooner Bar. The staff was very friendly and helpful and we received excellent service for the most part. One odd thing was that in the "English/Irish style Pub" on the Promenade, they didn't have a beer like Bass on tap. Made for interesting discussions when we wanted to order a Black and Tan before dinner. A quick note about the demographics. There is an ongoing discussion about cruises out of San Juan and the "local" factor of there being a lot of Puerto Ricans on board and disrupting things. My views on this are that the people who complain the loudest are usually the ones who have no business being on a vacation where they are likely to encounter different cultures. That being said, I did not notice any of the rude or pushing behavior that others have complained about. Yes, there were announcements in Spanish. There were also announcements in French and German. Yes, there were some activities that were done in Spanish but who cares? No, I did not see hordes of rude Puerto Ricans or anyone else pushing, running, cutting in line, or anything else. I believe that on our cruise, there were like 2500 Americans, of which 250 or so were Puerto Ricans. The rest of the 3200 people were Canadian, Mexican, Panamanian, and from various European countries. One of the reasons I like cruising is the international flair of the trips (yes I realize that a lot of it is faux and not representative of the country but I still like getting a small taste). Overall, I really enjoyed the trip and loved the ship. The layout is very familiar to anyone who has been on a Voyager class before (although I did prefer the balcony makeup on the Navigator as opposed to the balconies being in the superstructure as on Adventure and the older Voyager class). The ship was clean and looked great. Having San Juan as the departure port was a nice change compared to Miami or some other mainland port although the plane ride was very long. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
This was our 4th cruise with RCCL, but our first cruise to the Southern Caribbean. Our ports of call were San Juan, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. We loved the itinerary. Our only complaint was that the last two days were ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with RCCL, but our first cruise to the Southern Caribbean. Our ports of call were San Juan, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. We loved the itinerary. Our only complaint was that the last two days were port days. (We prefer a sea day at the end to unwind and relax before going home.) We flew into San Juan from JFK in NYC a day ahead and stayed at the Howard Johnson Carolina on Isla Verda Ave. We paid $155 w/an AARP discount...which was a steal from what we could tell! Most rooms in San Juan start at $200 a night. The hotel was a bit older, but clean and in a convenient location. We loved flying in a day ahead, as this allowed us to arrive at the ship well rested at noon the next day. We had filled out our set sail passes online and breezed through check in. We were in our cabin within 20 minutes of getting out of our taxi. (A word to the wise...ask your cab driver what the fare is BEFORE you get in the cab! We were told at our hotel that it should run around $10 to get to the pier. When we were dropped off, the driver asked for $22.00. We found out at the port that we had been ripped off...it should have been $10!) We dropped our carry on luggage in our stateroom (which was not quiet ready since we arrived so early) and had lunch in the windjammer. Then we took off for Old San Juan and spent the afternoon shopping and visiting The El Morro Fort, which was beautiful! Our first day was a sea day. We were told that the ship had room for an additional 300 or so passengers, which probably explained why we never had to wait for anything all week and why we always found a lounge chair at the pool without any problem. The week before was a college spring break week and we heard it was very full. We found the ship to be extremely clean...much more so than our last cruise on the Mariner (although it could just be because the ship was less crowded.) The crew was VERY friendly and the atmosphere was much more relaxed, and children better behaved than previous cruises. The food was okay, but nothing to write home about. Our dining room waiter (Dalton) was very distracted all week. He was nice enough, but not a very good waiter, in spite of the fact that he told us he has been working for RC for 12 years! I think he was overdue for a vacation! All the other servers we encountered were wonderful, as was the rest of the crew. Many went above and beyond the call of duty! We had 7 sunny, warm, but windy days. We were told that this is the windy season. If you put your book down at the pool, it was likely to blow away! We had sand blowing all over us on the beach at St. Maarten, which was a bit annoying, but the breeze kept us cool, so I guess we shouldn't complain! Our Cruise Director Mike was wonderful, as was the security staff at the gangway. They were extremely pleasant and made a serious effort to say your name and pronounce it correctly each time you got on or off the ship. The RCCL Singers and Dancers were amazing! We took the backstage tour, given by a dancer from New York, Alexis, and we now have new respect for these entertainers! From the audience, they make everything look so easy! It is amazing to see the tiny space they have to do their many costume changes! The ices shows were also wonderful and should also not be missed. We were lucky enough to get seats front and center and actually had ice shavings hit us as the skaters stopped right in front of us. All of the entertainment on board is top notch and one of the main reasons we continue to cruise with RCCL. We booked our first excursion though RCCL. We decided to see the French side of St. Maarten, as we had seen the Dutch side last year on the Mariner. The excursion took us for an hour of shopping in Marigot which was much more expensive than on the Dutch side. Then we went to Orient Bay Beach the three hours where lunch was provided at the Boo Boo Jam Restaurant...a very crowded, touristy area of the beach. I would not recommend this excursion. Overall, we had a great week and would choose this ship and itinerary again in a heartbeat. We find RCCL to be a great value for the money. We have never cruised any other cruise line, but met many passengers who have and they ALL say they like RCCL the best! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
Our sailing dates were March 25-April 1 on Adventure of the Seas. This cruise was just my wife and I. My fifth cruise, her seventh. Last spring break we enjoyed the Navigator of the Seas with our 2 daughters. We were so impressed we joined ... Read More
Our sailing dates were March 25-April 1 on Adventure of the Seas. This cruise was just my wife and I. My fifth cruise, her seventh. Last spring break we enjoyed the Navigator of the Seas with our 2 daughters. We were so impressed we joined the Crown and Anchor and booked the AOS for this spring break to the southern Caribbean. After reading all of the wonderful insights on these boards we decided to fly to San Juan on Saturday the 24th. The horror stories of O'Hare at spring break really solidified the decision to go a day early. Our flight was scheduled for 3:30...we were air born by 5. All in all not too bad! Arrival in San Juan was routine. We got a cab from the airport to the Radisson Ambassador. The method for getting a cab is a bit hectic, but heck, just being in San Juan made everything good! The cab driver took us to the wrong hotel at first, but we were just minutes from ours, so that was no problem either. We grabbed a late night bite at the Ambassador, caught up on the NCAA scores, wandered through the casino and were in bed by 1 a.m... Sunday morning, with relaxing time on our hands, we walked up the street and bought a few essentials we had forgotten at Walgreens. We walked back to the hotel up the beach. The sand and surf were just fantastic after a winter in Chicago. We returned to the Ambassador and found a wonderful, peaceful rooftop pool! At 11:45, we checked out, and grabbed a cab to the pier. Even though all of our documents told us 4:00 check-in, again thanks to these message boards, we hoped we would be able to board the ship. By 12:10 we had our first plate at Windjammers. As we made our way from the embarkation gangway to Windjammers we realized that the AOS was not only as beautiful as the NOS, but a carbon copy as well. The only difference being that Vintages is replaced by the Sports Bar. We had packed pool attire in our carry-ons. We were in lounge chairs by the pool enjoying fantastic weather and some frozen something or other drink by 1:00 p.m... We had a great time watching the ship and pool area fill up. In summary, embarkation was so quick, it is almost a blur! Monday and Thursday were our days at sea. Getting deck chairs was not a problem for us either day. I do not have a lot of respect for guests that save chairs by the pool and elsewhere. I think one chair per person is plenty, but... The ship was definitely full! Early Monday morning, my wife had booked us massages, or rather, spa treatments. It was great. However, I can do without the sales pitch at the end. Amazingly during the week, I could cure all of my ailments with 2 more treatments and buying a couple of elixirs from the spa. :-D Please let me enjoy the experience without the hard sell at the end. The fitness equipment is second to none. Anyway, both days at sea were great. We lunched at Windjammers. We didn't feel much of a need to explore the ship as it is identical to NOS. We felt like we pretty much knew our way around! Neither my wife nor I had been to Aruba. We booked an excursion to the Butterfly Farm, Aloe Factory, and Natural Bridge for the morning. The Butterfly Farm was really interesting. My wife is an avid gardener and she tries to attract local species of butterfly at home. I do think she could have spent the entire day here. The 'Aloe Factory' was merely a trip to a store...yuck. The Natural Bridge was very interesting and beautiful. Upon returning to the ship we immediately got a cab and headed to Eagle Beach for the afternoon. Gorgeous, peaceful, not crowded at all. All of the adjectives that we read pertaining to the beach were true. We went back to town and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Don Carlos. Disappointingly, they did not have any live lobster, which we had heard are out of this world, we had a great dinner though. The next day in Curacao, we booked a trip to the Ostrich Farm and Aloe Farm. The Ostrich Farm was fascinating. Aloe farm was better that Aruba, but... We wandered into town upon returning to the ship. Very cute, fun town to experience. St. Maarten is a family favorite. Last year, my wife found her Christmas/birthday/valentine/anniversary gift in St. Maarten. 132 jewelry stores we were told!!! This year she was determined to find another gift!!! The morning was a bit drizzly, so I accompanied her as she went on her pursuit. After lunch we just rented a couple of chairs and umbrella on Great Bay. Saturday in St. Thomas we just grabbed a cab to Magen's Bay. Shopping had been accomplished in St. Maarten, so as it was our last day, we just relaxed and beached it. We had kicked around the idea of going to St. Johns and find a beach, but as the week wore on, that sounded like too much effort!!! All in all, these 4 ports were just great. We thoroughly enjoyed each of them. Our dining experience was definitely first class. The dining room had the same menus as all of these ships, but very enjoyable. We ate at Portofinos twice. We went on our first night as we were leaving San Juan. We had a window table and the atmosphere, food, and service were outstanding. We decided to return later in the cruise so we could enjoy the items we didn't have on the first trip! We also pre purchased a wine package that we enjoyed at dinner. We really didn't take part in much of the organized entertainment. The Casino and Champagne Bar served that purpose. I have to give a shout out to the 2 bartenders at the Champagne Bar. Jerry and Jennifer were just outstanding, and they managed within a couple of days to attract a number of regulars to their bar. Unfortunately, bartenders are on a rotation, and Jerry was off to a new venue the following week. Our stateroom was identical to the previous year. They is plenty of room in the cabin and balcony for 2 of us. Sunday, leaving and going home was very organized and easy, even though I don't think anyone wanted to leave. I am very thankful we flew American as we were able to check our bags all the way through to Chicago. The only bad part of the entire trip occurred on the way home. We were delayed 3 hours leaving Miami for Chicago. With school the next morning...oh well a tired Monday!!! To summarize, we had a wonderful trip. The ship is great. The staterooms are great. We loved the itinerary. So much so in fact I think we are going to book the trip next year. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Hello all my fellow CC'ers! Here is the lengthy AOS review I promised while aboard the most beautiful ship I have ever seen (albeit this was my first cruise)!! Here is a link to see all of our pictures. I'm sorry, you might ... Read More
Hello all my fellow CC'ers! Here is the lengthy AOS review I promised while aboard the most beautiful ship I have ever seen (albeit this was my first cruise)!! Here is a link to see all of our pictures. I'm sorry, you might have to create a login for this, but it's free...and the pics go along well with the stories! http://photo.walgreens.com/share/p=701201177101125769/l=9039649/g=4934616/cobrandOid=1009/otsc=SYE/otsi=SALB Note: Skip "Day 1a" if you don't want to hear about my nightmare airline experience. Day 1a: Well the dream vacation didn't exactly start out as planned. At one point of our early morning start from Hartford, CT, it looked as though we were going to miss our cruise (or at least day 1 of it). We arrived at the airport over 2 hours early in anticipation of a smooth flight down to PR with plenty of time to get aboard. Our American Airlines flight was scheduled for 7:25am, which would get us to San Juan around 11:30a. However, around 7am, a general announcement was made that said there was a mechanical problem with the plane and that there would be a delay...not sure how long. OK, I wasn't too worried at this point as we could definitely afford to lose an hour or 2 and still have plenty of time. Well, just around 8:30am, we hear this announcement: "Unfortunately, this has turned into more than just a delay as this plane will not be able to fly this morning...all passengers may want to consider making alternative travel plans...call this 800 number for help re-booking..." Here was my reaction: NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! How could these people do this to me?!?! I have been waiting for this day for almost a year, planned it perfectly and now it's ruined?!?! Well I called that number and sat on hold for a minute. I told the woman on the other end to get me and the other 3 in my group to San Juan by 4pm at the latest (knowing I had more time than that but just in case). She said there was a 9:20am flight on US Airways that would connect in Miami, but get us to San Juan by around 3pm. PERFECT! This would work just fine! Now all we needed to do was get our bags back from AA and run to the other terminal (now we had to re-check our bags and go through security again). In any case, we go to the baggage claim where AA said our stuff would be and of course, there's nothing there but an empty belt. Unfortunately, this was the morning of Easter, so there wasn't enough people on staff for me to yell at. I was so mad, because now, we would obviously miss the 9:20am flight. So back to the phone I went...this time, I did not have as much luck as the first. The AA agent I was speaking to told me that I now had to call US Air, as my reservations have been transferred to them and there was nothing AA could do anymore. OK, so I called US Air and the woman told me that I needed a confirmation number to access my account. I told her the whole situation and that I wasn't given any confirmation number, but she said there was nothing she could do to access my reservation. I was just about to go postal (excuse the expression) in the terminal when another couple that was trying to catch AOS told me that the original flight was now back on and that is was leaving at 12:30pm. Apparently, AA was flying in another plane from NY. So as a reconciliatory gesture, AA bought each passenger a hamburger from McDonald's...no I am not kidding...this was there way of keeping everyone happy after the morning of misery...and the sad thing is...it worked. Day 1b: We arrived in San Juan about 4:30pm, 5 hours later than we wanted to. Nevertheless, we were pretty well rested, as the new plane we flew in on was HUGE and had 4 seats in the middle row of the plane...so we were able to use some rows as beds and spread out to take a nap on. We got our luggage and easily grabbed a taxi for the pier. About 15 minutes later, the anticipation was incredible as AOS was now in sight!! We pulled right up to the pier about at about 5:15pm (the taxi ride was about 20 minutes long). For the 4 of us, it was $25 + tip. We then waited to give our bags to the porters. They tagged our bags and placed them in the pile waiting to be inspected. We then headed inside to get our SeaPass cards. Naturally, I was directed to the slowest moving line, so it took about 15 minutes to finally receive our cards. After that, it was on to the ship. We didn't stop for that annoying camera-person waiting to take your picture as we boarded the ship...we looked like crap from our morning charade and we really just wanted to get on the ship!! Once we were on, we were in complete awe of the beauty and sophistication of this marvelous ship. Since it was now so late, we headed straight for our cabins so we could put down our carry-on luggage. My dW and the other couple we were travelling with had balcony rooms right next to each other (6334 and 6336). While I was pretty impressed with the size of the room and the balcony, the bathroom was still pretty cramped. This goes especially for the shower...I couldn't soap-up without it looking like I was attacked. After that, we headed for the Windjammer for some late lunch since our dinner was not going to be until about 9pm (after the muster drill). I was impressed with the quality and selection of food in the Windjammer all week. For breakfast, there was 4 buffet-style lines going at all times with all kinds of food (Pancakes, Fr. Toast, Waffles, Eggs, omelettes, Assorted Breads and Pastries, Bacon, Ham, yada yada yada. At lunch, there was always salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, pasta, rice, some sort of meats, sandwiches, wraps, etc. It was always hard not to fill up too much at lunch in anticipation of dinner. BTW, we must have had about 20 self-serve frozen yogurts during the week. After the Windjammer, we went back to our room for the muster drill. It was pretty uneventful, as we put on our life jackets and headed to the dining area. After the muster, we were hoping that our luggage would be delivered to the room...of course, they were not. Luckily, I had packed an extra set of clothes in my carry-on, so I took a quick shower and slipped into shorts and a t-shirt. My travel-mates were not as lucky (or smart). We had to go to dinner that night very informally, as our luggage did not end up arriving until almost midnight. Our tablemates were awesome and we made good friends with them throughout the week. Jeff, Michelle, Fran and Jeff #2 were the best matches for our personalities...lucky us!! I think I had a steak the first night which was pretty good. After dinner, we went to the "welcome aboard" show where we met our cruise director Mike Hunnerup. Mike was very friendly and could be seen all over the ship all week. He encouraged people to come up to him and say "G'day" as he is Australian. The show consisted of a preview of the week's feature shows...the first was a strength and agility show put on by two french gymnasts. There we doing some ridiculous poses that required the strength of 10 horses. You could obviously see from afar that this pair was built ford tough. After that, the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers did a couple of numbers and previewed their two shows "Velvet Rope" and "Can't Stop the Rock". Then comedian John Wing closed the night out with a pretty decent PG-rated, act. Day 2: This was the first at sea day of the week. We got up kind of late (around 9:30am) and waited for our room service breakfast to arrive. We were pretty happy with the quality of the room-service food, although there wasn't a huge selection and our fellow travelers did not care for it as much. In any case, we headed to the pool deck around 11am on a gorgeous, 85 degree day. Needless to say, the pool area was completely jammed. Not a free chair in sight (in the sun at least). So we headed up one deck and found some chairs towards the front of the ship (around the track). We didn't really care since it was much quieter in this spot and had less kids running around. We planted ourselves there and laid out. We got two of the daily drink specials which were Strawberry Creamsicles or something like that. These were the best drinks we had all week. They cost $8.25 each, but you could keep the glass (which we liked very much). I left the group at around 1pm to go join the Texas Hold 'Em tournament in Casino Royale. Unfortunately, I thought it started at 1:30, but it really started at 1pm. So I decided to play some blackjack instead. This proved to be a good move since I won about $150 in 30 minutes. I then headed back out to get some more sun and to hit the pool. We went in the very crowded adult-only pool to avoid the kids...but only dipped in for a few minutes because it was so packed. After showering up and unpacking, we walked the promenade and explored the shops. Nothing too outstanding to speak of, although we did end up buying a few things. We headed up to the "Blue Moon Lounge" for our CC meet and mingle!! We met some of the folks that we had chatted with for months (Hi Jim, Gary, Lori, Anne, etc.) After that, we got into our formal attire and headed to the early production of "Velvet Rope". The show was pretty good, nothing spectacular, but definitely an entertaining show. After that, we headed towards the dining room and waited in line for a professional picture. We then had dinner with our whole crew. That night, there was a roasted duck on the menu that was excellent. After dinner, it was back to the Lyric Theatre for the comedy of Rondell Sheridan. He was the funniest of the 3 comedians for the week and he had about a 45 minute set. After he was done, we waited around for the R-rated comedy return of John Wing. He started off pretty terrible, but ended the set on a roll. Day 3: We woke up about 9am and stepped out on the balcony (starboard side) to see a clear blue ocean with a thin strip of sand. We were in Aruba!! Once again, we scarfed down our room serviced breakfast and got ready for the day. We made it out of the ship by 10:30am and headed for the Renaissance Hotel (which was only about a 10 minute walk). There were a few locals trying to sell island tours, but they were not too annoying. We had heard on CC that the Renaissance has their own private island with a gorgeous beach...and boy was that an understatement. After paying $50pp at the front desk, we were given 3 tickets: 1 for admission to the island, 1 for a complimentary lunch and beverage of your choice and 1 for free water sports equipment rental (excluding motor sports). The hotel has their own ferry which actually picks you up in the middle of the lobby then takes you out (right past the docked AOS) and to the island. We arrived just in time to see an iguana feeding which attracted like 20 iguanas of all sizes for a perfect photo op!! The beach is split into a "family" side (kids) or an adults-only side. There were not too many children on the family side, but we still opted for the adult side. We were surprised to see a whole flock of gorgeous pink flamingos right on the beach. We got some great pics here too. The weather was great and the water was crystal clear. We had lunch around 2:30pm at their cafe on the "family-side". The food was surprisingly tasty and the beverages were great (nothing like a frozen drink on the first day at the beach). All in all, this was totally worth the $50. We re-entered the ship around 5pm, exhausted from a full day in the sun. We had perused through some of the jewelry stores, but didn't find much. I showered up and took some time to relax, while dW went to the gym (which by the way she thought was more than adequate for a ship). We had reservations at 7:30 for Portofino's. I was a bit disappointed because I would be missing "Italian Night" in the main dining rooms, but I heard it was nothing special (except for the entire waitstaff singing "O Sole Mio"). The quality of food in Portofino's was excellent. They had an extensive wine list, although we declined since we are not big drinkers. The waitress looked at us like we had 3 heads after we declined the wine menu. In any case, they serve you like a 5-course meal over a leisurely 2 hours. They even ask if you any plans after dinner, as to warn you of the time it takes to get served. With all the food coming at us, it was a perfect pace. As is the case with the main dining room, you can order as much or as little food as you want from the menu. So after the bread, a few appetizers, salad, soup, a nice filet and 2 desserts, it was bed-time for me. We managed to stumble around the ship for a few nighttime views of Aruba, but we were done in by this wonderful dinner. Again, worth the extra $20pp. Day 4: We woke up about 9:30am for another room service breakfast. After that, we headed out for Curacao. We did not have anything planned here, so it would be a leisurely day of walking and shopping here. After walking past the construction of a new Renaissance hotel, we reached downtown Willemstad. There was a car/buggy rental service right in front of us, but we were not interested. RCL actually issues a warning against such rentals right in the daily compass (I guess a lot of people were getting into accidents). The "removable" bridge was already disassembled, so we took the ferry across the inlet to the other side of the city. There were well defined avenues for shopping and some cafes lined up along the streets as well. We walked around, stopping in a few shops looking for knock-off handbags. There was a pretty wide selection of them in a few stores and the pricing was not so bad. Dw decided to pass as she had her heart set on a Guess bag she saw on the ship. The day was super-hot and pretty muggy. We wound up heading back to AOS around 2pm for a dip in the pool. My friend Miles and I actually headed for the bball court first. There was probably 15 or so people playing, mostly teenagers. We played a couple of games then hit "The 19th Hole" bar for a refresher. We were soaking with sweat, but luckily not many people we back from the Island yet to notice us in the bar. We headed back to shower up and hit the casino some more. After winning about another $100 at Roulette, I went straight to the shop to buy the Guess bag that dW wanted so badly. After dinner, we headed to studio B for the 50's, 60's and 70's dance party. This was a lot of fun as the band was playing all our favorite songs from these years. The band was excellent and the place turned into American Bandstand. The entertainment crew dressed up as the "Almost Village People" and danced to some of their famous tunes. It was a very fun night. Day 5: We woke up late...around 10:00am. We decided to tryout the Windjammer for breakfast since it was an at-sea day. There was definitely more selection up there than for the room service. We made the decision to eat breakfast here for the rest of the week. After breakfast, we headed up to the pool area to try and find some chairs. We didn't even bother looking around the pool, since we had learned our lesson on Tuesday. We went straight up to the same spot we had chosen on Day 2, but still had a hard time finding chairs. Eventually we did, but it was already time for me to head over to the Casino to sign up for the Hold 'Em Tourney. I headed over around 12:30pm and was surprised to find that the first table (of 7) was already full. So I signed for the second table and went back for a quick drink at the pool bar. I returned for my seat at the tourney around 1:45pm and my table started around 2:15pm. I got really lucky in the tourney...the first hand I doubled up and coasted from there. Then I caught a miracle 10 on the river to seal the deal. I won $325 (needless to say, the casino was good to me this trip). After taking in some sun up on deck, we went back to shower and get into our formal wear. We went to the ice show at 7pm in Studio B. We got there nice and early so we had front row seats. The show was excellent. The amount of tricks they can do on such a small ice surface was very impressive. This was easily the best show of the week. After our last formal dinner, we headed back to our room for some r&r on the balcony. Day 6: After we got ready for the day, we headed out onto St. Maarten. This island was gorgeous! The new port is huge and there were actually 2 other (smaller) ships docked as well. We caught a taxi to Orient Beach for $10pp. We got some nice views of the island from the windy road to the French side of the island. The beach was magnificent...the sand was fine and the water crystal clear. You could see St. Bart's in the distance which the cabbie described as the "new playground of the rich and famous". He said that celebs and rich folk would fly into St. Maarten and either charter a plane or take a yacht over to St. Bart's (niiiiccceee). Where the taxi dropped us off is on the "top optional" part of the beach. I would say that 10-15% of the women were actually topless. The cabbie did tell us that a bit further down was a nudist resort, so be aware that you may see some of that as well. While we saw a few old men in g-strings (ew), there was one guy who was letting everything flow as he ran through our side of the beach. Even though there were a lot of kids around, I don't think I would bring mine there because of this. After we had enough sun, we headed back to downtown Phillipsburg for some shopping. We didn't find the jewelry prices to be as much of a bargain as we had heard they would be. There are definitely many stores to chose from, but prices were pretty standard. We did visit "The Yoda Guy's" store. Apparently he was the guy who created the Yoda models used in Star Wars. He has all sorts of authentic memorabilia from the movies and he is really an interesting guy to talk to. After we were ready to return to the ship, we tried to get on the water taxi back to the pier, but found that you had to buy a round trip from the pier side in order to get back over. In other words, there were no one-way tickets back to the pier. We thought that was pretty stupid, but nevertheless, we summoned a cab instead. After another $6pp, we got back on the ship. We took a dip in the hot tub for a while then lined up to watch all of the last minute sprinters try to beat the 5:30pm sail time. It was pretty funny, as both our ship and the Ocean Village ship next to us had rows of people lined up on each deck to cheer on these poor souls. As we departed the pier, the Ocean Village ship gave us a nice send off with a few pulls of the horn and a plethora of waving cruisers. Before dinner, we attended the second performance of the RC Singers and Dancers, "Can't Stop the Rock". The scenes and songs were different than the first show and again it was pretty good. Still nothing to write home about though. This night in the dining room was "Captain's Night". dW LOVES lobster, so she was very excited. We figured the lobster tails that were offered would be pretty small, so we ordered a total of 4 plates for her. To our surprise, the tails were actually pretty big, so she had a lot to eat (she ate it all anyway). I had the prime rib which was pretty good too. I am completely blanking on what we did after dinner...so I guess it wasn't too much to get worked up about. Day 7: Well this was the last full day on the trip and we stayed very busy. We were instructed on Day 6 that we would have to meet with immigration officers BEFORE 9am this morning. This did not make us very happy, especially since we were getting pretty warn out at this point of the cruise. In any case, we arrived at the dining room at 8:59am with passports and SeaPass cards in hand. We walked around the room (there weren't really any lines as I guess we were last) and basically flashed our ID's at a few immigration officers. Cruise Director Mike then put a smiley face on our cards indicating that we had gone through the process and we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. After breakfast, we got off the ship and grabbed a taxi to the St. John ferry. We heard that St. Thomas was nice, but the snorkeling on St. John was not to be missed (another CC recommendation). The taxi to the ferry was $10pp and took about 25-30 minutes with all the traffic. Then the ferry was $5pp each way. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the ferry to arrive, then we had to wait about 20 minutes while they unloaded. Apparently, most people that are staying on St. John take this ferry...so people had bags and bags of luggage to unload. After we baked in the sun that entire time, we finally embarked on the 10-15 minute ferry ride. When we got to St. John, we hoped 1 more cab to Trunk Bay. The taxi ride was $6pp. Luckily, we had another gentleman from St. Croix who was very knowledgeable about the island and he made the driver stop at an AMAZING lookout over Trunk Bay. He actually told us that the exact view from that point is the same image that is on the license plates in St. John (and I can see why). We finally arrived at Trunk Bay and had to pay another $4pp for access to the "State Park". We did and went to the beach. WOW! This was certainly the most romantic, gorgeous and possible the most beautiful spot I have ever laid eyes on. In any case, we rented snorkel equipment for only $5pp (with a $25pp deposit that you get back). The snorkeling was truly incredible. You didn't even need the equipment because the water was so clear. But when you looked underwater, it seemed like you were in the middle of a big fish tank. So many types of sea-life and beautiful coral. As we were getting out of the water, we saw a huge stingray feeding on the sea floor. I can't believe how shallow it was...seriously in about 4 feet of water! We got about 30 seconds of a "rain shower" here, then it cleared right up. We then started the long trek back to the ship. I really wanted to stay longer, but we knew we needed to head back. As it was, we got back just in time for the all aboard at 5pm (we saw the people lining up to watch the sprinters). Before dinner, we attending the farewell show. It featured the french gymnasts mentioned previously and another comedian (PG-rated). Then the RC singers and dancers came out along with the entire cruise entertainment staff to say thank you and farewell. We attended our final dinner and said goodbye to our tablemates and waitstaff. They had a little "song and dance" to say farewell as well. After dinner, we went to the "Quest Adventure" gameshow. The staff did very well hiding what this was really about all week, but we had a feeling it would be good (since it was recommended for adults only). I won't say much, but let's just let the pictures speak for themselves...(see: dressing up like a member of the opposite sex). It took a while to unwind from this show...it was a blast. But alas, we had to head back and pack our bags...the cruise was over. Day 8: We took advantage of the RCL/American Airline program that lets you check your bags and get printed boarding passes right from the ship. The cost was $10pp, but I would have probably paid up to $50. Thank god we didn't have to lug around our 4 big suitcases all day (we overpacked). We were in group 10 to disembark, which was the last group to leave the ship. According to the compass, we should have had until around 11:30-11:45am to leave the ship...however we waited until the final final call around 10:45am to leave. It was funny because everyone though we were doing a B2B cruise...we must have been asked about 5 or 6 times if we were staying around for another go (I just responded: "I wish"). I was SHOCKED to see the lack of security leaving the ship. We walked right through customs and immigration WITHOUT being checked! Apparently, they thought everyone was gone, so they left too! In any case, we had about 8 hours until our flight, so we were left with a long day ahead of us. We went to the main mall in San Juan (Plaza de las Americas). It was a very nice mall with all the stores you would find on the mainland. We had lunch at Margarita's and then headed to the airport. We waited and waited...anticipating a delay or even a cancellation due to the crappy weather in the northeast. However, we left on time and flew right into Hartford (we tossed and turned like popcorn in a bag and couldn't see the ground until about 12 seconds before we landed...but we were safe). Like I said, this was easily the best trip I have ever taken and I cannot wait to do it all over again. I hope you all enjoy your trips! If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Thanks! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was a gift cruise from my fabulous mother-in-law for her 3 sons & spouses. It was our 3rd time on Adventure of the Seas, in the same cabins. I'll write a summary of our trip, and answer questions if you have any. Pre-Cruise ... Read More
This was a gift cruise from my fabulous mother-in-law for her 3 sons & spouses. It was our 3rd time on Adventure of the Seas, in the same cabins. I'll write a summary of our trip, and answer questions if you have any. Pre-Cruise in San Juan: Holiday Inn Express. Arrived Friday. This is not a fabulous place, but they have upgraded the rooms. They had all new bedding (like they're putting on the ships). It is easy to maneuver from. We always walk to this little Mexican restaurant, walk to casino(s), and cab to Old San Juan. We like it and the price is right. Embarkation was painless and quick. We arrived at the pier around 10:30 a.m. and were on quickly by 11:00-11:15. Very quick process. Went directly to the Windjammer (as cabins not ready), ate lunch and by that time cabins ready. We dropped off our carry-ons. DH changed went to Solarium w/his brothers and I went off to see the ship (again). Weather, for the first time in 4 years, was not the best. It was showering when we arrived at the ship, and showered off and on for the first couple of days. It did not hinder us, but might have some others. Food - we thought the food was outstanding this trip. The deserts in the Windjammer, however, left something to be desired (in our opinion). We ate in the dining room each night except Aruba night (had to do Carlos & Charlie's). Our waiter, Cyrus (Table 270) was absolutely fabulous! Anything we wanted, Cyrus made happen, whether on the menu or not. He was the best. The food in the Windjammer was good each day - a nice variety and very tasty. Johnny Rockets is always good, if you want a great burger, hot dog, fries or onion rings. Cabin - we had balcony cabin #8532. Stacy, our attendant, was a jewel. The new bedding, which I believe has been completed on the ship, was very nice. I will say, however, that the bedding is a real inconvenience for the room stewards. A lot of extra work taking the pillow(s) and "sham" thing off and storing in a bag each night and putting back on the next morning. The duvet's are extremely heavy and hard to manipulate. I feel sorry for the stewards...much extra work. Casino - is what it is. I won some and lost more, but had a good time doing so! Connoisseur Club - DH & brothers used the club. If you have never seen it, it is a beautiful room and never smells of smoke. Leather furniture, very nice. Disembarkation - we were in early disembarkation. We were off the ship by 7:30 and on our way to the airport. Painless. Summary - ship in great shape. Workers constantly varnishing, painting, fixing, etc. There were young people aboard, but no issues at all. Never a problem getting chairs either by the pool or in the solarium. Only saw the ice show, and it was great, as usual. Bingo.....played each time but never won. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to try and answer them. We only went to one beach (Coki in St. Thomas). We really like Coki beach. Have been to St. Johns, but prefer the closeness of Coki. Palla Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
WHAT A WONDERFUL CRUISE.We sailed on AOS week of 042907.Everything went smooth from the very beginning.The Limo picked us up on time. The airport was easy although my suitcase weighed 67 lbs and I had to pay an extra 25 bucks. Our flight ... Read More
WHAT A WONDERFUL CRUISE.We sailed on AOS week of 042907.Everything went smooth from the very beginning.The Limo picked us up on time. The airport was easy although my suitcase weighed 67 lbs and I had to pay an extra 25 bucks. Our flight was on schedule and was a smooth flight into Puerto Rico.We went a day early so we could have a restful night. Stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.A little slow at check in but a nice place. Had a nice Dinner then explored the casino.Lost a bit of money then found a party at the beach. Next day checkout was a bit hectic and the elevators were very slow and small.There was 4 of us and lots of luggage... Cab ride was smooth to the port. Everything went well there as well. The porter was great. Took all our luggage tagged it and we never saw it again till we went to the cabin. Getting checked in was so easy.We were checked in in 10 minutes had 3 shots of something on the way up to the ship that was yummy and we were having lunch at the Windjammer by 1200pm. We hung out at the Pool bar with our favorite bartenders Jose and Giavanni.They made the best Pina Coladas on the ship. Went to our Junior Suite about 300pm and all our luggage was waiting for us. We unpacked and were dressed for Dinner by 600pm. We had wonderful Waiters Ajit (honey) and Eric (bunny). The dining room was elegant.We partied till 100am.We loved our lobby bartender Jerry.He was so funny and made a good Chocolate Martini. and then we went to the Suite .The couch (bed) was not comfortable at all but I brought an air mattress with me and boy did that come in handy. All our excursions were awesome as well.At sea day one then day 2 Barbados.That was a blast. Snorkeled for the first time ever and that was so much fun except when the Turtle scared me half to death and I swallowed half the ocean. Day 3 was St Lucia what a beautiful Island but so many poor people there..Day 4 was Antigua another beautiful place. They were having the sailing races that week so many nice Sail boats.Day 5 was St Maarten my favorite place for bargains.Shopped till I dropped and spent most of my hard earned money there.Day 6 St Thomas.Went to the Mountain Top had a Banana Daq Not as good as they were 15 years ago and much more expensive..No deals in St Thomas everything was high priced..Then back on the ship for the Journey home. Disembarkment went very smooth. We were off the ship and the porter had our luggage by 1030. He took it We followed and never saw the luggage again till we got to Sweet home Chicago .Took a tour of Puerto Rico to kill time before we went to the airport since our flight wasn't till 428pm.The tour guide was a hoot.He dropped us at the airport and our flight was on time and a smooth ride home. To end the cruise on a wonderful note. The limo company picked the 4 of us up in a brand new Cadillac Escalade 22 passenger LIMO.What a great ending to a PERFECT TRIP...ROYAL CARIBBEAN is the Best cruise line as are all the employees that work on the Ship.Everyone was wonderful and very kind Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our first cruise. Overall, it was a great trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat! There were a few negatives, but not enough to put us off from another cruise. Arrived in San Juan at 11:30 Sunday morning. Very uneventful ... Read More
This was our first cruise. Overall, it was a great trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat! There were a few negatives, but not enough to put us off from another cruise. Arrived in San Juan at 11:30 Sunday morning. Very uneventful from getting off the plane to getting to the pier. Everything proceeded quickly and we were in the Windjammer having lunch by 12:45. At 2pm we were in our cabin. The cabin was very nice. A queen size bed, and a sofa. I don't believe our deck had the new bedding, but it was comfortable enough. The bathroom was small, but it didn't really matter. The balcony was just right. Had 2 chairs and a table. Our room steward was Simon. He was incredible! He introduced himself right away, and he had an incredible sense of humor. We always had plenty of ice and on the first day I asked for 2 extra towels. He made sure we always had the extra's every day. They do encourage using towels more than once which was no problem for us. The ship itself was beautiful. I always found it very clean. The dEcor was interesting and well done. It certainly was large! Food-this was one of the disappointing parts of the trip, however I was warned by others on this board that the food was not as good as other ships. I found that the Windjammer breakfast buffet left a lot to be desired. The waffles, French toast and pancakes were almost always underdone and usually cold by the time I got to the table. The oatmeal was tasteless. The fruit did not seem to be ripe enough. I wound up having boxed cereal most mornings. The exception to breakfast was to have it in the dining room, I think on deck 3? That food was very good. We did have dinner one night in the Windjammer and that wa much better than breakfast. We had a very nice young waiter that night. His name was Deckster, Very friendly and helpful. Dinner in the dining room was very good. My husband is a big eater and had no problems getting seconds. Our Waiter was Keith and the assistant was Kathy(I think). Both were wonderful! We had very nice tablemates. Hi to Cherie and Skip from N Carolina! The other couple, Nell and Hans were from Holland and spoke very little English. We did manage to communicate a bit. The pool- yes, we did see chair hogs, but didn't let it bother us. We just went up a deck and could still hear the music and walk down for a dip. It was crowded on sea days. We stayed on board in Curacao and got great seats that day! The Spa-I had a massage and a facial. The massage was done by Louisa who was an absolute doll and very good at her job! The facial was done by Mindy, also very sweet . The is some pressure to buy products, but I know how to say no thank you! It can be very expensive if you fall into it. The gym-yeah, they had one! LOL! I did take a peak and it looked great, but I was on VACATION!!! The Casino. I won 250.00 at the slots! They also had great drinks there. That is actually the only place I drank on board. I highly recommend the mint chocolate Martini or the Mojito. Excursions-we were on our own in Aruba and St Maarten. Walked around the town and shopped. Did not get off the ship in Curacao. Did the Maegans Bay excursion in St Thomas. In St Marteen, we and another couple we met at the taxi stand hired a driver for a 3 hour drive around the Island and stopped for 45 minutes at Bikini beach, right next to Orient Bay Beach. It was pretty awful..the cab ride that is. First of all, he had very little AC. Then at every stop for pictures, he brushed the bottom of our shes off so there would be no sand in his van. We stopped for gas and had to stop so he could pay his mechanic. Having little or no AC wiped us out and we passed on the formal dinner that night. Entertainment-we enjoyed everything we saw. The Ice show was beautiful! The love and marriage game was very funny. El Gaucho was hysterical! The cruise director( G'day Mike!!) was very friendly to all. Leaving the ship was pretty uneventful. We had a 1pm fight and were off the ship by 8:45. We took advantage of American Airlines luggage deal, where they take it from the pier to the airport. Made life easier. I'm sure I've left something out, but it was something I will do again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
7 Apr - We got to San Juan around noon time. Our luggage took about 30 minutes to come out. We went outside, got a ticket and grabbed a taxi in less than 15 minutes. We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Hotel. Absolutely a beautiful hotel ... Read More
7 Apr - We got to San Juan around noon time. Our luggage took about 30 minutes to come out. We went outside, got a ticket and grabbed a taxi in less than 15 minutes. We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris Hotel. Absolutely a beautiful hotel with all the new renovations they just made. Unfortunately our room wouldn't be ready until 4pm. We changed into shorts, left our luggage with the porters for storage and jumped into a taxi to go to Old San Juan. My daughter wanted to go to the Coach outlet to spend her graduation money. The taxi dropped us right on there. Great prices, good selections and I even bought a purse too. Got more of a discount on it but more on that later. We chose to do a quick lunch at Wendy's,then walked around a little before heading back to the hotel about 3pm. We sat on the beach admiring the great view and soaking up the warm sun until our room was ready. The room was gorgeous, fluffy new bedding, flat screen TV and marble bathroom. We ate dinner in one of their 3 restaurants. Can get pricey but good food. We were asleep by 10pm from our long day of traveling. 8 Apr - We were up by 9am, ate breakfast at the hotel, grabbed a taxi to the Pier by 11:15 and were on the ship by noon! We had the whole day to explore and relax. There weren't many people on the ship just yet. We made our Spa appts, ate some lunch, I sat by the pool while my daughter ran off to the teen club to meet friends. It was a nice warm day, the waiters were already out and the band was playing music. At 3pm we went to see our cabin. This was the first time we had JS and I was anxious to see it. We had the center hump cabin. It was pretty large compared to the balcony cabins we usually book. I would say it was the equivalent size to a hotel room, walk in closet, tub in the bathroom, lots of storage space, seating area and larger private balcony. You could see up and down the ship from our balcony. At 4pm we met a few of our M&M friends by the pool bar for an hour. It was nice to finally meet everyone. We had the early seating and had asked for a large table. Since it's just my daughter & I we always like to meet new people. To our surprise they gave us a table for 2! My daughter was immediately disappointed and so was I. We sat there the first night but my daughter had it changed for the next night. We didn't go to any shows that night. My daughter made some friends immediately and was off and running. I continued to explore the ship. I absolutely love the promenade, always my favorite place to walk, people watch and I like all the shops. Of course my first shop is jewelry. They had a pretty good selection and the prices weren't bad. But it was only the first night and I wanted to shop/compare to the other islands. After having a drink in the Promenade I headed to bed about 11pm. 9 Apr (Sea Day) - I was up on deck 12 to claim my lounge chair by 9:30. It wasn't very crowded at all, it got more crowded as the day went on but not unbearable. I really didn't much chair hogging at all. They had the usually Sexy Legs Men contest and for the first time, I volunteered to be a judge. I picked Mr Sexy Legs! It was actually lots of fun and a good way to end my afternoon in the warm sun. It was extremely hot that day with little wind. Back to the cabin to shower and get ready for dinner to stop at the M&M. There were quite a few people this time. Cheezy & company had trouble getting in with their flight but we were all glad they made it! Off to dinner, they seated at a table for 8 but there was only another family of 3. We hit it with them immediately, great people from WI (Todd, Laura & son Drake). My daughter & Drake were close in age so that was a plus. They were together the balance of the cruise with a group of 10 kids. We had wonderful waitstaff, Reganald and Riche', food is always good. I'm not really picky. After dinner I went to the production show. I usually like the shows but didn't like this one at all, actually left after 30 minutes. I found the music, costumes and decor depressing. I ended up going to the Promenade to browse, people watch and have a drink. 9 April - Forgot to mention it was our first formal night. They had plenty of photographers set up from decks 3-5 to take photos. Lines moved very quickly. The next formal night would Thursday (second sea day), 12 April. 10 April (Tues) - Aruba finally!!! We decided to walk into town around 10am, do some shopping and go to the Renaissance Hotel to use their private island for the day. It's only a 10 minute walk from the port area. We did stop at Diamonds International to get the Aruba charm for my daughter's bracelet. She's been collecting them since our trip in January. We paid $50 per person at the hotel, went downstairs in the hotel and waited for their small ferry boat to take us to their island. I got some great pictures of AOS on our way out to the island. The price included use of all their water toys, lunch, drink, ice cream and beach chair. The food was actually very good, I had a burger and my daughter had a club sandwich. The island was wonderful, it was surrounded by a reef so the water was calm, clean and the beach was white sand with flecks of pink. There were hammocks in the sun and shade, lots of beach lounges, waitress service, a small store, flamingos and lizards wondering around. There was plenty of palm trees for shade too. We stayed for about 4 hours, took the ferry back into town and shopped a little more. After dinner I took my tablemates with me to the Crown & Anchor welcome back party. The drinks and appetizers were free and quite good. Afterward we went to the show, cannot remember the comedians name but he plays the dad on the show "That's So Raven". He was extremely funny, PG rated and put on a great show. 11 April (Wed) Curacao - We decided not to do an excursion that day. We took a taxi into town. I liked the town with it's cobblestoned streets, small shops and different colored buildings. The small flea market had some cute bags, necklaces, etc and what I liked about it, they didn't badger you to buy anything. The town reminded me of Germany a lot. There was a ferry that you take from the pier into town but the water was very choppy and my daughter opted not to take the ferry, she gets sick on smaller boats. Had a quiet night walking on upper deck and inside at the Promenade. There was something different each night for sale, jewelry, watches, sweatshirts etc. 12 April (Thurs) Sea Day - I was on deck 12 to sun about 10am, a little more crowded than the first sea day but still lots of lounges. They had the belly-flop contest for men and the horse racing that afternoon. The band entertained most of the afternoon on the deck and the weather was nice. I decided to take advantage of one of the Spa Specials this night; $99.00 for a choice of three different treatments. I opted for the hot stone massage, facial and reflexology. We went to the ice show before our main seating for dinner. The show was even better than the first one we saw on NOS two years ago. It always amazes me how they can do so much in such a little space. Well worth seeing! 13 April (Friday) St Maarten - Our excursion was to Orient Beach (French) side of the island. Orient Beach has become my absolute FAVORITE beach in the Caribbean now! It was gorgeous, white sands, mountains along the side, miles of great beach, clean clear waters, and interesting little shops/eateries. Yes we did see some nudity, mostly topless women but after seeing a couple, the novelty wore off, lol. Let's face it the women that tend to go topless shouldn't, . It was about a 30 minute bus ride from the port. It included lunch, chicken for me and ribs for my daughter plus a drink. Lounges were included but if you wanted an umbrella it was an extra $3.00, well worth it because the sun was intense. Lots of locals walking around pedaling their goods, not obnoxious about it though. My daughter had the top of hair braided for $30. Afterward 2 hours at the beach, you could either be dropped off in center of downtown to shop or back to the pier. We shopped of course. I bought my daughter an inexpensive Guess watch, I got tanzanite studs and we took the water ferry back to the pier for $3 each. Dinner was lobster night. I don't eat seafood. Everyone raved about how good it was. Didn't go to the show, opted to sit in the Promenade for the entertainment, singers and small band playing. 14 April (Saturday) St Thomas - Going through immigration was very quick on the ship. You had to have your seapass card and proof of citizenship. You went to the deck 5 dining room and we were in/out in 5 minutes. They mark your seapass card with a smiley face and you can get off the ship. We went to the shops near the pier. I have a local jewelry I like and wanted to buy a citrine ring (Majestic Jewelers). I ended also buying a tanzanite w/shell opals too because of the great prices. We were supposed to go to Magen's Bay. Unfortunately we decided to stay on the ship because we were so tired of the sun. The ship was very quiet and the pool area was great to relax with everyone off the ship. We packed i the afternoon, always a sad day when you have to pack knowing you will be off the ship the next day. I prefer to have a sea day the last day before we leave. We went to the show, they showed the AOS in review DVD, a good comedian (sorry I'm bad with names) and the production singers. The last night I just wondered around the ship, taking in all the sites one last time and enjoying the ship. 15 April (Sunday) San Juan - We met our tablemates for breakfast at 8;30 and took our time for breakfast. We all had late flights that day and were in no hurry. We had all taken advantage of the American and United Airlines taking our luggage/getting our boarding passes option. I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat, $10 per person. Getting off the ship was effortless, short line and no problems, 10-15 minutes tops. After dropping off our luggage to the airlines, we took a taxi into Old San Juan for the day. We got dropped off at Barrachina restaurant to leave our carryons with them while we walked around. I love Old San Juan, we explored the walkway along the channel, the shops and then came back to Barrachina for lunch. It was very yummy, I had the chicken nachos. After our late lunch, we grabbed a taxi to airport. Absolutely no waiting outside for American at all. Since we had our boarding passes, we only had to go through security and we were at our gate. Luckily flying into Philly, we didn't get hit with any delays with the Nor'Easterner. We were actually early. All in all it was a wonderful spectacular cruise on AOS. The voyager ships are our favorite ships currently. If you have any other questions, just let me know or you can email me at AnneR40@yahoo.com Happy Cruising!!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
First of all I would like to Thank Cruise Critic . com for all the help and info I gathered on the boards. This was our Fifth cruise third Royal. First for the east coast, the others were the Mexican riviera and coastal short cruises to ... Read More
First of all I would like to Thank Cruise Critic . com for all the help and info I gathered on the boards. This was our Fifth cruise third Royal. First for the east coast, the others were the Mexican riviera and coastal short cruises to Ensenada. We booked our cruise while on the last day at sea in april 2006 booked on ship through Royal. All air hotel and transportation was booked also through Royal around june of 2006. I liked the convenience having everything done and nothing left to bother with. Friday evening left LAX on the redeye nonstop to San Juan arrived too early to check in . Finally checking in got a good night's sleep and took a small self guided tour around old san juan and the forts . Took a cab ( to save the trouble going back to the hotel) To the ship and to my surprise , was onboard the AOS in less than 10 yes ten minutes. online docs and seapass already to go luggage transferred for us , started our tour of this beautiful ship. I did not encounter any loud drunken or rude individuals all week, Take all the reviews with a grain of salt! Dining was fair to good our waiter and assistant were not as good as previous dinners but they tried. Portifinos was worth the extra for the service the quiet atmosphere and good food . The sampler dessert was very good! Activities were good although need to be organized differently because I found them to crowd together too much. Ice skating show was good then run to the room change for formal dinner. The Meet and Mingle in the blue Moon was fun although again organization left little time to mingle and head off to get pics before dinner. Yes formal night. I didn't really get acquainted with our fellow minglers. I found the connoisseurs club very relaxing after dinner cigars most every eve conversations pleasant with other cruisers. The golf simulator on deck 12 was fun nothing more than a colorized indoor driving range. (swing the clubs etc!) Ports aruba not a place I think I would go out of my way to visit again. Curacao found a tour off the boat for $15.00 apiece a 2 1/2 hour informative tour of the island. not a bad deal . Again wouldn't go out of my way to visit again. St Maarten Took a Rental car with our Dinner companions Paul and Treska from Canada (wonderful couple) around the island on our own and had a great time. Stopped at three different beaches all were very nice. Tis one I could return to. YA moN St Thomas Godfrey tour... found this on critic boards. Stores for shopping were closed because of carnival in town. I really don't go on a cruise to shop I'M on vacation . Tour of the island very informative and the the choice of three beaches to swim relax etc! We chose coki point just like gilligans island.... Very clear water my wife really enjoyed this beach as did I. This was our favorite port and would love to go back and spend some time here!!!!!!!! We met some very nice people on this cruise and had a very enjoyable time with each of them, as this is what really made the trip memorable. WHERE TO NEXT?..................? Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was my first cruise. I went with four friends (since elementary school) to celebrate all of us turning 50 yrs old. We talked about this trip for five years and planned it a year before we sailed. We book a grand suite online and ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I went with four friends (since elementary school) to celebrate all of us turning 50 yrs old. We talked about this trip for five years and planned it a year before we sailed. We book a grand suite online and were assigned to suite 1588. We originally were going to have all five of us in the suite but opted to split the group using an inside cabin directly across the hall from the suite (worked out great!!). We arrived at different times on Saturday, April 21st and stay at the Courtyard by Marriott in Miramar. We originally were going to book at the Sheraton Old San Juan because of the convenience, but at over $400 for one night, we changed our minds. We took a late check out at the hotel and taxied to the Pan American Port ($20 taxi for five). Good thing we did not stay at the Sheraton because the Pan American port on the other side of the lagoon! Royal Caribbean allowed people to check in and drop luggage, but we were not able to go the stateroom until after 2:00 pm. We went into town. We arrived back at 6:30 pm and went to our room. Our suite was just great. Plenty of room for the three of us. A large bed and a fold out sleeper (which was just a little too firm). We had our room decorated for the birthdays and had ordered a cake. The bathroom was a good size with a soaking tub. I would have preferred a bathroom with a separate toilet, but this was still very nice. Because we had a grand suite, we had access to the concierge lounge on the 9th deck. Happy hour type food in the evening. You can have soda, beer, wine and mixed drinks just cannot leave with them (no problem). The employee was very helpful with some excursion issues and it was a nice place to sit for a little bit. The ship is beautiful and I never felt like there were 3,000 other passengers or over 400 children on this cruise. We had two days on the ocean which gave us time to lay around the pool and we still did not feel overwhelmed. The ship had the regular shows, comedian (who I did not get to see) a song and dance show (passed) and Ice show (Passed but my friends all saw it and said it was very good). The Quest game which I participated in (a lot of fun- bring a lot of junk with you) and the newlywed game (old but fun-someone told me the questions were the same from a cruise they took 2 yrs before). The dining room (Vivaldi) was beautiful and we ate dinner each night was a wonderful family from Ohio. Our waiters were excellent and the food was good. We had one night in Portofino's which was fabulous!!!! I did the Aruba Jeep and De Palm island excursion and had a great time. I saw people riding around in ATCs and thought that looked like a lot of fun. Had a great time on the excursion and especially at De Palm Island which was an all inclusive lunch, equipment, chaise lounge event. They have a small water park for children. Did the Dolphin swim on Curacao which was fantastic! I did not think I would be able to go into the water with the dolphins but I did and enjoyed every minute. On St. Maarten I did the Butterfly farm and Marigot. Would not recommend this excursion. The Butterfly people have their heart in the right place to protect butterflies, but due to time constraints, we had little time to actually walk among the butterflies and take pictures (maybe 15-17 minutes). We then drove to Marigot and had only 45 minutes to shop. (I am not a shopper but this just was not enough time). Back at St. Maarten, there is a water taxi ($3 one way/ $5 round trip) that is near the ship and will take you to the downtown section Last, we went to St. Thomas and took the ultimate excursion to Blackbeard's tower except it's not really Blackbeard's tower, it was named that by the U.S. Military when the island was purchased in 1917. We did go to Maegan's Bay for swimming which was very nice considering how hot it was. I huge iguana walked took a stroll through the sand right past us. I had a wonderful time on the cruise and the Ship was great. The public areas were laid out for easy access. I had a partial body massage in the spa and was disappointed after the massage when I was pressed to buy $300 in salts and oils for continued therapy. There are so many things to do on the ship that we never made it to the rock climbing wall or go ice skating. They had a latin night pool side which was fun. Except the couple of small complaints, I would go on this cruise again. Cannot say enough good things about the trip. We were very sad it ended so soon and after three days still a little depressed!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
I am 37 and my husband is 39. This is our 6th cruise,1st 4 were with Carnival and our last 2 were with RCL. Personally, we both like RCL the best...seems to be a lot better profile of people on RCL. Trip from Dallas/Ft.Worth to San Juan ... Read More
I am 37 and my husband is 39. This is our 6th cruise,1st 4 were with Carnival and our last 2 were with RCL. Personally, we both like RCL the best...seems to be a lot better profile of people on RCL. Trip from Dallas/Ft.Worth to San Juan was great. We got there 1 day early so we could be at the cruise terminal by 11:00a.m. the first day and were were able to board by 11:30a.m. My husband bought a bottle of Crown Royal and stuck it in between some clothes and it made it to our room on the cruise just fine. If anyone does that they sell individual bottle cokes in the liquor store on the boat so you can take them to your room. I would like to write some tips that I wish I knew before our first cruise and this is just my personal opinion on some issues. Balcony room is a must 1. really look at the age of the ship before booking, even if the ship is old and been renovated it still is an old ship and it tends to rock and creek more (way less amenities also).......it will make or break a cruise if you are on an old ship. Adventure is newer and it is awesome. 2. there is no alarm clock in the room, there is wake up call service but even though you are on vacation you still need to know what time it is so be sure and pack a small one. 3. there is only 2 electrical outlets so if you need more plugs you you need to bring a plug outlet extender 4. anyone booking the spa or specialty dining needs to book the minute you arrive on the ship. They book up completely by the first night. 5. Ice show is a must see. The ice show is free however; you must get a ticket to enter and they book up also very early. 6. please do not feel it is a must on buying all the excursions on the trip. We did that our first 2 cruises and learned hundreds of dollars later to plan things on your own. 7. A past guest wrote to buy a book called "Frommers Caribbean Ports of Call" and that is an AWESOME book to get for only $16.99. you can plan things on your own for alot cheaper and it tells you step by step 8. if anyone wants to bring Cuban cigars back be sure where you buy them that they give you a generic box and pull all the labels off and you will not have a problem taking them back thru customs to the U.S. (we did not do this but were told by people who buy them on every trip what to do) 9. I realize it is against the rules to "save a chair" at the pool however;everyone does it and they do nothing to stop it. If you do not save a chair on sea days by 9:30a.m. they are all taken by the pool. 10. cell phones also work at sea now if you want to bring yours. Aruba- We rented a 4X4 jeep from aruba top car rental agency thru the internet website and were able to pick it up at the pier when we got off the ship for $80.00. We had a blast and all the street signs guide you in English as to what to see Lighthouse, natural bridge and natural pool. We also booked on line eating at 6:00p.m dinner on the beach at the www.flyingfishbone.com and it was well worth the $100.00(check out the website)AWESOME. It was also safe over the net to use your credit card Curacao- took a taxi from the pier to Hato Caves (must see) and took at taxi over to the beach at the Seaquariam ($15 p/p) chairs were included St.Martin- shopped all day, my opinion best shopping port better deals than in St.Thomas. I heard the Orient Beach is also the best beach on the trip to visit. St.Thomas- shopped and then took a private taxi to Sapphire Beach. We did spend alot of money on taxis this trip however;we did not do tours thru the cruise so we still saved money. I love to cruise so if anyone ever has a question about anything please feel free to contact me at parkplaceleasing@charterinternet.com and I will be glad to help! (its a long email address, sorry) Sara Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Cruise Review: Adventure of the Seas, Southern Caribbean - May 27, 2007 Hi! Let me start by saying that I booked this cruise in August 2006 and it was our first vacation (other than weekend trips) in 6 years! We choose the Southern ... Read More
Cruise Review: Adventure of the Seas, Southern Caribbean - May 27, 2007 Hi! Let me start by saying that I booked this cruise in August 2006 and it was our first vacation (other than weekend trips) in 6 years! We choose the Southern Caribbean itinerary because there were ports that neither of us had been to before. We flew to San Juan on the Friday before the cruise to jump start our vacation and spend some time in San Juan sightseeing. We stayed at the Hilton Caribe (courtesy of HH points), this was a nice hotel but WOW - it was pricey! Beers were $9, mixed drinks were $12, lunch was reasonable if you ate outside in the pool area, otherwise the lunch in the hotel restaurant was $35 for the buffet or about $17 for a hamburger. We grabbed breakfast at Starbucks which was located in the hotel which was nice as well. The accommodations were great and every room has a view of the ocean. We spent our time walking around Old San Juan touring the forts - which was really nice. We also went on a tour of the Bacardi factory which was great as well - unfortunately we didn't take advantage of the store because I did not want to get my alcohol confiscated while boarding the ship. One other note about San Juan - the taxi's are un-metered and can be pricey, it may have been worth renting a car. On Sunday we left the hotel at 1145 to head to the pier. We waited online for about 45minutes, and then they opened the doors. The process went really quickly and we were on the ship within 20 minutes. At that time we headed to grab some lunch at the windjammer and then explored the ship. Our room was available at 2pm, bags were there by 8. Ship - The ship itself is absolutely amazing. It is huge and has so much to do. We really loved the ship, its layout, etc. RC is really on top of keeping everything clean - spotless; we were really impressed with how clean everything was. The entertainment was great - really enjoyed the late night shows and the casino's. The cruise staff was fantastic - the cruise director did his job! We had an awesome time! Our waiter was awesome and so was the room steward as well. All service people were great and we did not encounter 1 bad person. Stateroom - we were in a d2 category with a balcony. The stateroom was comfortable and we loved having a balcony. Food - Dining room - We had the late dinner seating - it was OK, we were sat in a room off of the main dining area which was not the greatest, and our table mates weren't the best - 6 didn't speak English, and the other 4 were very unsociable - we only ate dinner 3 times in the main dining area the entire cruise. Food was good, lobster night was great! Portofino's: Ate there 2x - once for the mystery dinner and once for regular dinner - it was AWESOME (I can't begin to say how good) and I would definitely recommend to anyone! Windjammer - OK, the selection rarely changed, it catered to more to Puerto Rican cliental (i.e. rice & beans, yucca, fried plantains, etc); often very hectic and crowded Ports of Call: Aruba - very nice, we headed up to palm beach in the morning and relaxed by the ocean and did some swimming. We went back to the ship, changed, and then headed out for our ATV excursion. I booked this excursion through shoretrips - I was not impressed. They forgot to pick us up, then said we were supposed to have our excursion at 830 am but my paper said 230 (and I clearly booked for 230); then we sat outside for 45 minutes by ourselves waiting for the excursion to actually start. I would not book privately again, I think the benefits of having everything organized and timely out weight the $60 savings. That being said, once on the ATVs we had an awesome time and saw some great sights. Curacao - the area where the ship docs is nice, once you get out into the country (went to the Hato caves) it is a little run down. We learned that AOS is the only ship that visits this island. We went to the aquarium which was really spectacular. If you want to do swimming with dolphins, I would go here and just do it on your own. St. Maarten - the day was a little overcast, we got off of the ship in the AM, walked around and then found a local place that did private Segway tours - we took the tour which was a neat experience, the Segways are pretty cool machines. We were back on the ship by 1pm to enjoy an empty pool area and have lunch at the windjammer which was also empty. St.Thomas - Explored and shopped a little but went back on the ship early. I will say that I didn't realize how centered around shopping st.thomas and St. Maarten are. We were not into shopping so on these days we went back to the ship early and enjoyed an empty ship - it was great to have the pool to ourselves and just relax in peace and quiet. Getting off the ship - was pretty easy. We had an early flight so we were able to get off by 730 without a problem. Conclusion: -Loved cruising, loved royal Caribbean - will definitely do it again ( I actually have one booked already). -Would not go out of Puerto Rico again for a cruise - about 75% of the cruise people were Spanish (which isn't a problem, I don't have any issues with Spanish people), I like to be able to understand and meet new people without a language barrier. -Can't say it enough, the service was great! -Would recommend brining smaller bills for tips - all taxi's luggage carriers, etc -Would recommend brining a junky watch just to carry around Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Adventure Of The Seas - Sail Date: May 27th, 2007 Introduction My wife, Joanne, and I are Diamond level Crown and Anchor Society members (10+ cruises on Royal Caribbean). A couple of months back, she found a whale of a deal for this ... Read More
Adventure Of The Seas - Sail Date: May 27th, 2007 Introduction My wife, Joanne, and I are Diamond level Crown and Anchor Society members (10+ cruises on Royal Caribbean). A couple of months back, she found a whale of a deal for this cruise online We had an outside D2 cabin 8648 with balcony including round trip air fare from Atlanta, for less money than a windowless inside cabin without air fare. We booked this cruise before somebody discovered the aberration. We had taken the identical cruise in January 2004 and loved both the ship and itinerary. A Couple Of Pre-Cruise Tips I've posted a number of cruise reviews over the past few years to journal my travels and interact with fellow cruisers like you. Another cruiser made me aware that if you owned 100 or more shares of Royal Caribbean stock, the cruise line would credit your on-board account with $100 for every cruise you take. Royal Caribbean told me to send them a recent brokerage statement indicating ownership, my cruise date, ship name, reservation number and Crown and Anchor member numbers and they would take care of it. They did. I also have a Royal Caribbean VISA card and redeemed 25,000 points for an additional $250 in on-board credits. When we stepped on the ship, our account had a $350 credit for use in the shops, casino, spa, bars, shore excursions or anything else your sea pass card is used for. It's pretty close to free money. Sunday - San Juan Departure Our 8:30 a.m. flight from Atlanta arrived in San Juan at noon and we were aboard by 1:30 p.m. Check-in was fast and efficient. We had a small roll-on suitcase for essentials until the rest of our luggage caught up with us. You can't get to your cabin until 2 p.m. so the staff can get everything cleaned and ready. The ship keeps the heavy steel fire doors closed between the elevators and stair case areas and the cabin hallways. We headed for lunch in the Windjammer. Later, we met our cabin attendant, the delightful Agnes from Peru, who kept our cabin ship shape for the week. She met her husband on the ship and he is one of the chefs aboard. She introduced us to him later in the week and he told us he hoped we were enjoying all the food he and his fellow chefs were serving up all week. The scales do not lie. We were enjoying it to the extreme. A fellow cruise critic once wrote me and told me a great way to enjoy an evening departure from San Juan is to make dinner reservations in Portofino. We made reservations for 7:30 p.m. with an 8:00 p.m. sailing time. Portofino is on deck 11, starboard (right) side of the ship and there is a $20 per person, charge which is well worth it. It is a truly sublime experience to have a table for two at the window and watch the lights of the city and Morro Castle glide past while enjoying an exquisite dinner. I had a pasta appetizer, Caesar salad, made tableside (with anchovies) and veal wrapped in prosciutto with a wonderful cream sauce. The first night of any cruise is apparently the slowest night of the week in the premium restaurants. There were few tables occupied and the largest group was a table full of the ship's officers celebrating some occasion. Jeanette from the Philippines took wonderful care of us. After leaving port, the Adventure hung a left in the Atlantic to loop westward around the island and into the Caribbean for the week. Having gotten up at 4:15 a.m. to make our flight, we couldn't bring ourselves to partake of the ship's evening entertainment that was capped off by a big parade in the Royal Promenade at midnight. The Adventure has some wonderful new bedding. White-on-white sheets with embroidered RCI logos and multiple fluffy pillows beckoned us to dreamland. Monday - Cruising South To Aruba In a futile exercise against the culinary temptations of the Adventure this week, we arose, donned our exercise clothes and headed to deck four, the Promenade Deck at about 9 a.m. to do some brisk orbits of the ship. Six trips around the Adventure, worked up a good appetite that was sated up in the Windjammer. Note to self...we have 3,600 passengers, 1.200 crew onboard and walking on the promenade deck, there were exactly six other people besides us. A couple was playing shuffleboard portside and four people were similarly occupied on our starboard pass. There were hundreds of empty deck chairs and lounges for the taking if you wanted a private chunk of ship for your own. After breakfast, we grabbed our books and a couple of lounge chairs in the shade up at the pool deck on 11 and we had a front row seat for the Women's Hairy Chest Contest, or whatever complemented the excellent songs aired by the band, Mega 4. These musicians set a fine mood for a Caribbean cruise, and when we sailed with them on the Mariner two years ago, we bought two of their albums. At about 2:30 p.m., we headed to the Cafe Promenade on Deck 5 forward to grab a couple of coffees. A bridge crosses the Royal Promenade between the Promenade Cafe and the Duck and Dog Pub. Tucked underneath a stairway heading up to this bridge, is an 8x10 foot raised band platform. The Rosario Strings, (a violinist, bass fiddle player and guitar player) started filling the Promenade with Latin flavored tunes. These guys are an instrumental group, not singers. At the second number, all the surrounding Puerto Rican passengers joined in song to the tune. In a few minutes and a few songs later, the shops emptied of all of our Spanish speaking friends. At least 200 were singing the tunes played by the Rosario Strings. We sipped our Seattle's Best coffees and just relished the superb concert unfolding in front of us. I have no idea if this happens every Monday at 2:30 in the afternoon or if this was a special moment to be savored, but what a great cruise experience. Sailing south all day, we were escorted by numerous sea birds. They were white with a black stripe along the leading edge of their wings. I guess the ship's passage was churning up lunch for them as they would rise to a couple of hundred feet above the wave tops, tuck in their wings and dive like a bullet vertically into the Caribbean. A few seconds after they disappeared underwater, they would resurface with a smile on their beak, belch, flap their wings to get airborne and renew their search for another bite of lunch. At 5 p.m. we headed up to the Blue Moon on deck 14 four our Cruise Critics Meet and Mingle get together. The ship laid out a spread of hors d'oeuvres and we could meet with about twenty-five fellow cruisers that we had been exchanging e-mails with prior to sailing. Sign up for one of these prior to any cruise you take. It's really fun to correspond with people you will be vacationing with. This was the ship's first of two formal nights. I used the Royal Caribbean web site, prior to our departure, to order a tux for the week. When we entered our cabin upon boarding, it was hanging in our closet. It came with everything as advertised, including two shirts, and it all fit. I was one of the few black tie clad passengers that evening, but our Puerto Rican young lady contingent dressed to the nines. We had ship-wide eye candy galore. There were hundreds of lovely young ladies aboard and they all dressed like J-Lo headed to the Grammies. This evening, we met our wonderful tablemates for the week along with Nareen our waiter from India, Paulo his assistant from Peru and Mahai our head waiter from Romania. I don't know why, but our last two cruises on a ship this size, the Mariner of the Seas, the main dining room cuisine was ordinary and I said as much in my reviews. The meals on Adventure were superb. Tuesday - Aruba - Das Boot With Cheese And A Side Of Murder At dinner the previous evening, Del Gado, one of our tablemates from San Juan, recounted that Aruba was THE place to buy your Dutch cheese on this cruise. I said, "I beg your pardon?" Apparently, everyone living in the Caribbean knows that the best place to load up on your Gouda cheese is Aruba. Folks from the Caribbean on this trip, will return home with Gouda and share it with their friends and families. Del Gado recounted that one of his fondest childhood memories was having a hot chocolate with a slice of Gouda cheese melting in it. What a quaint custom but I'll take mine on a Ritz cracker. We got off the ship with the plan of hiring a taxi for an island tour. Step out of the terminal building at the pier and it's difficult to avoid. We shared a taxi/van with another couple from St. Croix for a two-hour island tour for $15 each. Three years ago, one of the trademark tour stops was "Natural Arch" on Aruba's North shore. We learned, not on this trip. The Natural Arch was now Fallen Arch and it collapsed into the sea about a year and a half ago. I asked our driver, Richard, a native of Aruba, what was the local buzz with regards to the Natalee Holloway disappearance exactly two years ago. He echoed the popular stateside belief that Urine (excuse my spelling)van der Sloot, knows exactly what happened to her and that his judge wanna-be father, had the necessary legal connections to put in the fix with the local authorities. Aruba now has its own O.J. celebrity. Urine has changed his story on the evening's events at least eight times. Book him Danno...murder one!!! Richard drove us past the beach next to Natalee's hotel where Urine supposedly left her relaxing on the beach at 3 a.m. Gag me with a Smurf, somebody get a rope for this guy, his father and the Kalpo brother accomplices! We had a lunch back on Adventure. At 1:00 p.m. we exited the dockside terminal and walked about 50 feet across the pier to the waiting tender that would take us out to the Atlantis VI submarine tour, $89 per adult, $49 per child. The tender ignited its warp drive engines and flew us at 40 knots to Submarine Atlantis VI. First, the preceding submarine passengers got off onto our tender and then we boarded the Atlantis. Our sub driver bore a striking resemblance to the actor, Jurgen Prachow. You film buffs know what I'm talking about. We have been on submarine tours before in St. Thomas and Bermuda. This was the best. First of all, the water was extremely clear with well over 100 feet in visibility. We made a pass at the reef at a 30 foot depth. The reef was rich with all kinds of fish and coral and you could still see lots of colors at this depth. The Kapitan then did a 180 degree turn so the passengers at our backs on the port side of the sub could enjoy the identical view we just had. We dropped down to 90 feet and made a pass at a ship that was sunk on purpose, years ago, to provide scuba divers with a neat site to dive. We were delightfully still dry and enjoyed our tour. The sub driver did another 180 so everyone had a view of the wreck. We then dropped to a 120-foot depth to make passes at another wreck. This one was sunk the old fashion way, by a drunken crew, gravity and Mother Nature. It appeared to once have been a three-masted cheese schooner out of Amsterdam. For the highlight of this mini-sub cruise, Jurgen put the sub gently on the sandy bottom at a depth of 150 feet. No fish were present at this depth. There is more food for the fish up at shallower depths where the sunlight is stronger. Good news. No popping rivets, bursting water pipes, or ASDIC pings by British destroyers about to drop depth charges on the intruding tourists. The sub, we were told, was certified to dive to 180 feet, so we had at least a comfortable 30 feet to go before crush depth was reached. Pass the Gouda and celebrate. Having done this before, and being a certified scuba diver, you know that the deeper you dive, only the blue wavelength of light penetrates. I was wearing a light pink polo shirt, which photographed as white on our digital camera without using the flash and just the natural light through, the portholes. With the flash at that depth, the shirt was its predictable pink. Gee Mr. Wizard, that's neat. When we surfaced and hopped back on the tender, it stayed in the area so we could watch and film Atlantis VI dive with its next load of passengers. If you want to take a different tour in Aruba, this one is a good choice. Dive, dive, dive! Prior to returning to Adventure, we celebrated our mini cruise with a couple of fluffy drinks at Carlos and Charlie's that is at the end of the pier in view of the ship. (It's the bar where Urine van der Sloot picked up Natalee and where she was last seen alive.) We asked our waitress where the best place to buy cheese was in the neighborhood. She told us to take the first left out of the bar into the mall and head to Planet Cheese. The store would sell you a ten-pound wheel of young Gouda cheese in a handled carry-on box for $19.95. We were one of the few couples returning to Adventure without cheese in tow. There were quite a few passengers each hauling four to six ten-pound boxes of Gouda aboard. Who would of thunk it? After dinner, we headed to Studio B on deck 3 for "Cool Art, Hot Ice". Be sure to see the ice show. It's great. You have to appreciate the incredible talent and athletic prowess of these performers. There were two more performances on Thursday, our second sea day. Wednesday - Curaçao - Andruw Jones, Proprietor After breakfast, we walked off the ship onto the Mega Pier. As in Aruba, we hooked up with a two-hour island tour for $20 per person. We had a nice, clean, air-conditioned mini-bus with driver and a tour guide. It would take days to cover the island but in two hours, we got a good flavor of the island and had numerous stops for photographs etc. One of the stops was the original Curaçao liquor factory. It was a quaint old mansion in town where no distilling took place any longer but was a purely delightful tourist destination. You could taste the Curaçao liquor in all its variations, orange, coffee, chocolate, rum raison, and of course purchase all you want. We didn't buy anything, but I noted a 750 ml bottle of the blue liquor was $9.95 at the factory and the same bottle was $16.95 in the shops in Willemstad. If you want Curaçao liquor...buy at the factory and save some bucks. One of the final stops was a little gift shop with a spectacular view of a cove where we actually snorkeled on our last cruise here. Overlooking the cove and everything within miles was the Atlanta Braves ballplayers' house of Andrew Jones. Local boy makes good. Andrew built himself a very nice hacienda three stories high and bigger than the Governor's house and second in size on Aruba only to the Oil Refinery. Our tour finished near the floating bridge to town. At the moment, the bridge was retracted to let ships into and out of the harbor. A couple of free ferries operate every few minutes so we boarded one to cross to the side of the harbor with the floating market, shops and restaurants. We strolled past the floating market and took some colorful pictures of the vendors selling fresh fish and produce to the locals. Around the corner we settled into an umbrella shaded table at the harbor-side for a bit of lunch. The bridge opened and closed twice during lunch with numerous ships coming and going. Your club sandwich will cost more than back on the Adventure, but what a wonderful view! When returning to the Adventure side of the harbor, Joanne remarked that, back in the States, OSHA would be having kittens over the hundreds of laws we and everyone were breaking as we hopped either on or off the floating bridge before it had stopped swinging into locked position. We started to really feel the peer pressure as we again returned to the Adventure without armloads of Dutch cheese. Many of our fellow travelers bought up the town's supply of this Caribbean delicacy. Late in the afternoon, Joanne had signed up for an acupuncture treatment on her back in the spa. She thought they were very professional and felt it helped. That evening as we cruised out of the area for a sea day to St. Maarten, you could look south towards Venezuela and see towering black clouds illuminated by lightning. Sadly, the storm didn't reach us. This may sound twisted, but a nighttime electrical storm at sea is not something to sleep through. You want to head up to a comfy lounge on a high deck and watch the horizon-to-horizon lightning show. We've seen a few spectacular ones in our travels and their not to be missed. Thursday - Cruising North To St. Maarten Sleep late and relax. We spent a leisurely day up at the pool reading and listening to Mega 4. The interesting thing on our two sea days on this cruise, was that I saw no other ships at all. We had the sea lanes traversing the Caribbean to ourselves. Had we hit an iceberg this week, we'd all be treading water for at least a day before another ship reached us. At one point during the day, I was looking over the ship's side and saw some very small fish, just two to four inches in size, sail out of the side of a swell and fly a few inches above the water's surface for ten or twelve feet before submerging. I've seen flying fish on previous cruises and they were bigger, 10 to 14 inches, and flew much further distances. I'm guessing these were baby flying fish just getting pushed out of the nest. Late in the afternoon we were down in the Royal Promenade shopping for a few gifts and the Rosario Strings struck up the band with the same reaction from hundreds of passengers as occurred on Monday. The crowd wouldn't let them leave without a couple of encores. These concerts were, honestly, two of the most wonderful hours spend in a great week aboard. When the set finished and the crowds moved off, I went up to one of the trio members and asked him if this happened every time they played? He smiled and told me "Pretty much. We know what they like." Clearly they did. Joanne had been going into the Perfume Shop on the Promenade twice a day for a spritz of something nice smelling. Today she broke down and legitimized her free aromas for the week by buying her perfume. Eau du Overpriced. I'm just saying, for what Joanne paid for five ounces of eau de cologne ($59), you could buy your weight in Absolute Vodka ($6.95/liter) on St. Maartens. Oh the humanity! This was our second formal night and it was great to see how everyone dressed up. Unfortunately this evening, we did not attend "Motown Live!" featuring Spectrum, the headliner show that evening in the Lyric Theater. All of our fellow cruisers we spoke to the next day said these guys put on an incredible show. We'll just have to rebook this cruise, but you people learn from our mistake and go to the show. After dinner, we attended the Crown and Anchor member reception in the Imperial Lounge on deck 5. There was music, food, friends and drink. It was a cozy reception where the crew welcomed everyone back to Royal Caribbean. Captain Nyseter hosted and talked a bit about the new "Genesis" class ship coming into service in a year or two. It will be a few feet longer than the Freedom class, however it will be two decks taller, 300 feet in width (almost double the Freedom), displace something like 240,000 tons or another 75% more than the Adventure. It will accommodate 6,000 passengers 2,000 crew and still have a draft of 29 feet like the existing super ships. This allows the ship to dock at all the current Caribbean ports that the Voyager and Freedom class ships visit today. I love the Voyager class of ships, I have not yet tried the Freedom class, but Genesis sounds disturbingly large for my taste. I will wait to read your reviews before I step up to that one. I sensed that Captain Nyseter, who is one of the most senior Royal Caribbean ship drivers, was hoping he be retiring before he had to deal with Genesis. This is my impression, not his words. Captain Nyseter did a great job hosting us for the week. Friday - St. Maarten - Damn Your Diamonds...Give Me Cheese!!! Prior to this cruise, we were hoping to catch a high-speed ferry to St. Barths from our stop in St. Maarten. We have never been to neighboring St. Barths which we have sailed past on previous cruises to the area. We were told by the folks on the Adventure that the high speed ferries to St. Barths weren't operating at the present time. New ferries were on order from France. As a flashback, I was at Tiffany's in NYC last August and told Joanne I saved us $8,500 by not buying her some exquisite diamond earrings I saw. Big mistake, wrong answer. Joanne has held that over my head for the past year. The best prices on jewelry in the Caribbean are on the Dutch side of St. Maarten and I now needed diamond earrings in the worst way. The diamond earring crusade was on and we were successful. Beautiful earrings were found at Diamonds International. They have like thirty-five locations in St. Maarten on Front Street and they are probably all owned by RCI. Great diamond earrings for many mucho thousands less than Tiffany's in New York. Joanne may have freed her demons, but I was feeling incredible pressure. This was our last Dutch West Indies stop of the week. I cracked from the stress and went into a local shop and asked the owner to show me Gouda. I resisted buying the 40 pound starter pack and settled for a three cheese micro sampler of young, flavored and aged Gouda. They were the conventional size you would find at the Kroger back home. I felt a wonderful catharsis and didn't see my modest purchase as a threat to our cholesterol levels. We returned to the ship walking tall with the pride that cheese ownership bestows. The increase in height also reflected the lightening of my wallet in Diamonds International. Dinner tonight was the chef's mega Ausgeschwein (Pig-out) Lobster was the signature dish but they were also serving up prime rib. Only one solution I could see. Nareen, see if you can scrounge up a surf-and-turf combo. What a great meal. The buttered lobster melted in your mouth and the prime rib was perfectly medium rare with horseradish sauce. A dollop of Lipitor garnished the feast. Joanne is a purist and just had four lobster tails. After dinner, there was a special reception we were invited to as Diamond Crown and Anchor Members. Up in the Blue Moon lounge on deck 14 we were entertained by the Rosario Strings and had a special thank you from Royal Caribbean for our loyalty. It was a very nice event and Royal Caribbean really tries to make their repeat customers feel special and appreciated. Shortly after leaving the pier, Captain Nyseter, got on the PA system to tell us we were returning to St. Maartin as there was a medical emergency and we needed to get a passenger to a hospital ashore. While not knowing any of the specifics, the next morning, the Captain announced that the passenger that we dropped off was doing much better. Saturday - St. Thomas - When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping We had diamonds, we had perfume, we had gift watches, we had Gouda. Why wasn't I on a booze cruise snorkel catamaran tour to Caneel Bay on St. John's? Because, St. Thomas is the Hong Kong of the West and there might be something in town we (read...Joanne) can't live without. I actually enjoy browsing around the shops and alleys of St. Thomas. There is a neat little shop downtown that overlooks the harbor and sells marine salvage items dating back 300 years or so. Ship's wheels, binnacles (or is it Rabbinicals?), antique maps, etc. Despite diamond earrings and perfume, I am forbidden to purchase a front porch mountable, five-inch diameter, troublesome neighbor, deck cannon. It was reasonably priced and was last used to clear enemy shipping in 1750 or there about. Joanne just lacks decorating vision for the man-cave. I'll look for one on eBay. Diamond Crown and Anchor Status This is reached after ten cruises and has some nice benefits. It gets you in the Concierge Club Room on deck 9. When you board, in addition to your Sea Pass card, you are also issued a special card to gain access to the Concierge Club Room. You also have access to the Concierge Club if you book one of the large suites, which are essentially double sized cabins. A continental breakfast was laid out every morning and there was an open bar and hot and cold hors d'oeuvres each afternoon from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. DeDe was there to help you with reservations to ice shows, shore excursions or reservations to Portofino. It is really a nice service and DeDe is wonderful. There are other benefits that start after five cruises or sooner. These include special check-in lines, departure lounges, bath robes, private receptions, discount coupon books for all sorts of things on the ship, little Royal Caribbean gifts left in your cabin such as beach bags. One day, the cabin elves welcomed us back to the room with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. Because Royal Caribbean also owns Celebrity Cruise Line, I believe all the benefits you enjoy, gain you the same status on Celebrity. Don't quote me but ask your travel agent if this is so. It seems to me this is a relatively new enhancement to the program. Dining And Food Service Meals in the main dining room combined wonderful service with what I thought was high quality delicious food. Book your Portofino reservations early. When we finished our meal there on Sunday night, we immediately tried to make another reservation later in the week. Everything was booked save for a few late sittings. This was the first cruise in memory, where we were in the main seating dinner at 6:00 p.m. I think we like the second seating better. It just always seemed rushed to conclude your afternoon activities and get cleaned up for dinner. The shows and ship activities seem to flow better around the second seating. Our Cabin And The Ports As reported earlier, Agnes took great care of our cabin and us all week. We were on the port (left) side of the ship. In San Juan, this faced the airport south. In Aruba and Curaçao the view was the piers we were tied up to and the islands (northward). In St. Maarten and St. Thomas the opposite side of the ship had what I would call the preferred view overlooking the harbors to the west of the piers. The Adventure was the only ship in port in Aruba, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. We only had one other small ship in Curaçao with us. What this meant was that we weren't competing with other ships' passengers for taxis, excursions, shopping or restaurants for the week. This time of year, a number of cruise ships are repositioned to the summer Alaska routes from the Caribbean, so a winter cruise on the Adventure will have more company in port. Summary I realize this review may read like an ad for the Adventure of the Seas and Royal Caribbean. I don't care. Almost every word of this review is true and Joanne and I savor the anticipation leading up to our vacations nearly as much as the actual cruise. I write these reviews so you, and me, can enjoy them after the fact. I am basically a positive, optimistic sort of guy that women mistake for George Clooney. On past cruises, we've been chased by category-four hurricanes, sailed through twenty-five foot seas and have had the waiter serve the steak over-done. While the steak was fixed, I just love the experience of being at sea with its unpredictability and spirit of adventure. This review reflects my experience for the week. Ships like Adventure are so large and diverse that you need to appreciate that for every experience you have, you probably missed fifty other events happening elsewhere aboard or ashore. The only person that attends them all is your cruise director, which is a mystery. You could probably book a cabin for a year and not get bored. The week flies by, but by Sunday were ready to head home. There was a new service we tried. For $20 we could check our luggage with the airline at the pier after we cleared customs. I don't know if it's available with all airlines, but it worked with American. If your catching a flight, the check-in service is money well spent. We made it off the ship as efficiently as we checked on a week earlier. This was our second time on this cruise and we enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time. The ship, crew, entertainment and fellow passengers were all wonderful. We may do an Alaska cruise next year and my preference would be that at least half the ships's passengers hail from San Juan. This could be tough to arrange. If you enjoyed my review, drop me a line. If I can answer any questions you may have on an upcoming cruise, ask away. I look forward to hearing from you. Austin Kearney Dunwoody, GA pepperdog@mindspring.com Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We are a family of four from south Florida. My daughters are both 12. We just returned from the AOS off the 6/17/2007 - 6/24/2007 sailing. We cruised the Barbados route, traveling to St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and St. ... Read More
We are a family of four from south Florida. My daughters are both 12. We just returned from the AOS off the 6/17/2007 - 6/24/2007 sailing. We cruised the Barbados route, traveling to St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. This was our eighth cruise, our 2nd with RCCL. Pre-Cruise/ Embarkation: Our flight left Fort Lauderdale around 7 and we were in San Juan around 9:30. We decided to walk around Old san Juan before taking a taxi to the pier. Embarkation was short and easy considering we got to the pier at the worst time (1:00-2:00). We received our luggage shortly after. Cabin: We all loved our cabins. We had two connecting PR rooms on deck 8. We had a great view of the promenade and they were great for people watching. One problem was the limited storage (less then usual). Our cabin steward was not the best. She was always late to make up our room and when she did manage to come on time you could tell she was in a hurry. She was only friendly when she wanted to be. Dining: ~ Breakfast: On the first day (sea day) we ate in the dining room and both the service and the food were great. We also had great tablemates. For the next 6 mornings we ate in the windjammer due to time. We found the windjammer food to be better than usual. The windjammer service was excellent! ~ Lunch: Lunch overall was very good. We never got a chance to eat in the dining room for lunch, but one day we ate at Jonny Rockets. The food was really good and well worth the cover charge of $3.95. Every other day we ate at the buffet. The windjammer service was excellent at lunch also. ~ Dinner: We ate in the dining room every night. The service and food was outstanding. We had a table for four on deck 4 (Straus dining room), main seating. The head waitress, Diana, was wonderful. She came to our table to see how things were every night and we also saw her up in the windjammer at breakfast. Our wait staff was also great. Our waiter Mitch was from Turkey. Our Assistant Waitress, Lea was from Romania. The Bartender was also very good, he had our drinks waiting for us every night when we got to the table. ~ Cafe Promenade was perfect for late night snacks, and the service was also good. Ship: The ship itself was amazing. It was the prettiest ship we had ever sailed. The dEcor was gorgeous. We loved the ice skating, the golf, the promenade and the inline skating. The pools were also very nice. We didn't have enough time to enjoy everything the ship had to offer. Entertainment: The entertainment quality varied. "Riptide", the band in the imperial lounge was great. The welcome aboard show and the farewell shows were the best. The ventriloquist was hilarious. The ice show and the production shows we found to be boring. We were 15 minutes early to the ice show and there were no seats. Barbados: We had been to Barbados once before and liked the island a lot. Last time we had gone to the boatyard for the day.This time we had booked though Silver Moon in Barbados, and were really looking forward to it. But due to a tropical wave coming through they canceled the tour and we got a full refund. We decided to do a two hour island tour with Scott, he was very friendly and informative. The tour cost us only $80 (not including the tip) for the four of us. We got back on the ship and had lunch, than got back off and walked to the downtown area to shop. We had a good day, and we felt we had just as much fun as we would if our excursion wouldn't of been canceled. St.Lucia: We had nothing planned for St. Lucia. We walked around the shops at the pier, then took a water taxi downtown. There, we were offered a 2 hour tour of the island for $60 for the 4 of us. Our tour guide was Felix. Although he was friendly, he was not very knowledgeable of the island. The tour ended at Rodney Bay beach. We spent approximately an hour there before taking a $10 taxi ride back to the ship. The shopping was expensive here. We enjoyed Barbados more then St. Lucia. Antigua: Antigua was our favorite island. We spent the day at Dickenson Bay beach. It was gorgeous. We did this on our own. It worked out cheaper. It was a $12 taxi ride for the 4 of us. At Tony's water sports we rented an umbrella and 4 chairs for $20. The shade was worth it. We also rented a jet ski for half an hour ($45) and a Hobie cat for an hour with lessons ($50). All beaches in Antigua are public - so I recommend spending the day at one of the 364 beaches. The shopping here is also expensive. St. Maarten: St. Maarten was a shopping day. We had been there before and the prices are the best. We took the water taxi to the shops ($5pp roundtrip). We had a good day overall. St. Thomas: The immigration went smoothly and we were done in 5 minutes. In St.Thomas we did a half-day sail with Island Girl, we had so much fun!!! It was $90 a person... and worth it. It was just the four of us, but it can accommodate up to 6 people. The Sea Scooters were great for snorkeling. The captain, Mike and his daughter Aerial were both great. We usually do our shopping in St.Thomas but the prices were much better in St. Maarten. Disembarkation: Going through immigration in St.Thomas made disembarking much easier. Once off the ship were out of the port in 10 minutes. Overall: The AOS is a beautiful ship and we do plan to sail her again. Next time we'll try the opposite route even though we loved the ports. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We left NY on Saturday and headed to PR. WE arrived and went to the Marriott Hotel where we were provided with a suite for the night. Sunday we could see Adventure of the Seas from the executive balcony at the hotel. We left the hotel at ... Read More
We left NY on Saturday and headed to PR. WE arrived and went to the Marriott Hotel where we were provided with a suite for the night. Sunday we could see Adventure of the Seas from the executive balcony at the hotel. We left the hotel at 11:30 am and went to the pier. We arrived and within 15 minutes the lined moved in and as Diamond members we were finished in 10 minutes.Aboard the ship by 12:15PM. Our cabin was inside and typical 160 sq ft .. RCCl cabina are small but inside doesn't bother us at all. We also received a sENIOR RATE so the cost was 619 per person....The food in the windjammer was very good and the service was outstanding in all aspects. No dirty plates or glasses lying around. They are quick cleaners for a spotless ship. The food in the three tier dining room was also very good and the service also outstanding. Our cabin steward made the room every day and we hardly saw him except to say good morning or evening. The ship is in great shape for a 6 year old vessel. The pools and solariums and spas are fantastic. Even on cruise days there is always plenty of room in sunbathe or swim in the pool. The capt was terrific and usually announced daily how parents must ensure their children adhere to the rules of the ship. There were 700 kids on board and there was no problem with them at all. Guess mom and dads listen to the captain. We did have an unfortunate incident between PR and Aruba. A man had a heart attack and his heart did stop but the were able to revive him and he was eventually airlifted to PR. The captain however had to turn the ship around in order to meet with the coast guard. We travelled back and he was airlifted. Even though we got to Aruba 3 hours late the saving of one life was well worth it. We received many amenities from the cruise line since it was our 35th anniversary, including dinner with the captain. The ports of call were romantic and lovely to see. We had been to the islands several times so we kinda took it ease and ventured on our own. In Aruba we went to eagel beach and had a great time in the water. In curacao we shopped and went to the beach for the rest of the day. In st martin we did lots of shopping. this island has changed for the better and the people are so warm and friendly. St Thomas we took Atlantis the underwater sub for a ride and that was fun to see the sharks,fish and the reef.Many times we got back early and had the ship to ourselves. The shopping on board the vessel was also good. Overall give RCCL 5 stars on their service and accommodations Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
My boyfriend and I (40 & 41) departed on June 3rd 07 from San Juan. We were part of a large group on Adventure of the Seas. We flew into SJU from JFK the day before and stayed at the Marriott. On Sunday, we made took a cab from the ... Read More
My boyfriend and I (40 & 41) departed on June 3rd 07 from San Juan. We were part of a large group on Adventure of the Seas. We flew into SJU from JFK the day before and stayed at the Marriott. On Sunday, we made took a cab from the hotel to the dock. We arrived at the dock approx. 3pm. The lines moved very quickly. The Set Sail passes that we pre-printed certainly made it easier. We were in our cabin # 7580 Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom within 15 minutes. The Ship is absolutely beautiful. We grabbed a beer from the Promenade Bar on the 5th level and walked around the ship to check it out. Came back into our room and our bags arrived around 5pm. Not bad. Had to do the mandatory emergency drill - about 15 minutes. Boring. But, it must be done. Back in the room we booked 2 excursions on the T.V. Of course we waited until 10 days prior to the cruise and we could not book what we wanted from home. But, no worries. Able to book the following: Barbados: Tiami Five Star Catamaran & Turtles. This was $84.00 pp. It was a great experience to swim/snorkel with giant Sea turtles. Sean and the group on the tiami were very helpful and friendly. Then, we headed for a small beach area and were able to snorkel in a coral area with a lot of cool fish. The finally was a Caribbean lunch on the Catamaran. Open Bar etc. Definitely a great choice to spend a day. St. Lucia: Disappointed. Booked the tropical islands experience thru RC. This was $45.00 pp. An old van picked us up and took us thru winding roads. Driving is crazy on this island. I am a native New Yorker so driving does not normally phase us but this was crazy. Took 1 ½ hrs to get to a small waterfall. Took a quick dip in the pool. Had ½ hour there. One local (big mama is her name) set up a grill outside of the entrance to the waterfall. I was hungry so I grabbed a small piece of chicken. $4.00 for a leg. Then we got into the van and went to a cocoa processing plant. Took a tour of the grounds. They were beautiful. Every spice you can imagine is harvested there. Then, a small lunch is served. Consisted of fried bananas and coconut candy. The ride back was longer than 1 ½ hrs. The cost of this excursion we believe is for the gas to get there. Don't even bother. The shopping area on the dock is nice but we found St. Lucia expensive and not tourist friendly. Taxis on our own: Antigua: Taxi from the port to Halcyon Cove on Dickenson Bay. Excellent stop. Taxi was I believe $7.00 each. Rented chairs for $5.00 each and the locals are very friendly. It is quite popular there. The beach area has a restaurant and a beachside bar. Bought handmade jewelry and trinkets from the locals. This is my 3rd time to Antigua and the beaches always stand out. After the beach our taxi driver named Cynthia dropped us off to shop near the cruise port. Heritage Quay is a nice shopping area. St. Maarten: Taxi from the port to Orient Beach. Taxi was I believe was $18.00 per couple. It is on the French side of the island. You pay for the chair and one rum punch was included. And they give you a ticket to use their rest-rooms. Part of Orient Beach is clothing optional.(we were on the clothing side if you are wondering). The beach is very pretty and we took a walk on the beach. This was great stop and my favorite island on this cruise. The locals are warm and friendly. Bought more trinkets etc. Oh, and the beers are very cheap and COLD here. The girls and I got dropped off in Philipsburg to shop. I purchased a Caribbean Topaz. This purchase took me 5 minutes. I knew what I wanted and knew what I wanted to pay for it. Named my price and got a fantastic deal. We said that we will definitely go back to St. Maarten for a 4 day hit in the future. St. Thomas: Taxi to Megan's Bay for $7.00 each. It is very picturesque. This area is a mile-long beach. We did find it very commercialized. This area did not have an "island feel" We knew we were back in the US here. It was very expensive just to get a burger. ($9.00). It was overcast but non-the less we made the best of it. We took French fries and a ½ of sandwich into the water and fed the fish. That was really cool. All kinds of small and medium brightly colored fish came out of know-where. It is a simple process to enter and exit the ship. Just show your Sea pass and have picture ID on you. Ensure that you are back on the dock on time. Seems several people were left behind at certain ports. On the ship one night we ate at Portofinos. Very worth the $20.00. Breakfasts were in the Windjammer Buffet. Breakfast was great! We had the late seating for dinner of 8:30pm on other nights in the Vivaldi dining room. Our waiter was Riza. What a nice guy. Keisha was the "wine lady". Hello Keisha. Food - well, not great. Several of us ladies booked "ladies night" in the spa. It was $99.00 and well worth it. Sauna, steam room, facial, scalp massage, body massage, chocolate and champagne. I tried to book a pedicure but it was all booked up. Had I gone to book it when we arrived on the ship I could have gotten one? Book spa stuff early as it fills up quickly. The Casinos killed us. Oh well. The joy of gambling. The casinos close at 3am promptly. The morning comes very quickly. There is a lot of entertainment on the ship. The duck and dog is fun with live music and sing-alongs. The Casino Bar has a great pianist. Overall, the service is impeccable on the ship. The cabins were clean and everyone on the ship had a smile. On the last day of the cruise we finally got the lay of the land on this ship. It is tremendous. We would recommend this wonderful cruise anytime. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We sailed from San Juan on Sunday 3rd June 2007, following the "Southern Caribbean" itinerary that took in Barbados, St.Lucia, Antigua, St.Maarten and St.Thomas. My wife and I are both 50 years of age and while we are regular ... Read More
We sailed from San Juan on Sunday 3rd June 2007, following the "Southern Caribbean" itinerary that took in Barbados, St.Lucia, Antigua, St.Maarten and St.Thomas. My wife and I are both 50 years of age and while we are regular vacation-takers, we were first-time cruisers. We flew in from Scotland for the trip, staying at the Marriott Stellaris resort in Condado for one night before the cruise, and a very relaxing four days afterwards. As this is a Cruise Review, I will stick to the events of the seven days on board, and won't cover the flights, hotel etc. Basically, I will summarize our views in six main categories - Embarkation, Accommodation, Dining, Entertainment on board, Excursions and Disembarkation. It's going to be long, so if you want to look at only one or two sections, I'll try and make it easy to do. EMBARKATION: After watching our ship arrive in San Juan early in the morning from our hotel balcony, we checked out and set off for the Terminal around 11:45am. Around fifteen minutes later we were at the dockside which was relatively quiet. We unloaded our luggage and possibly made one of our few mistakes on the trip as I did not follow the "Express Check-in for Suite guests" which directed us to the left, but instead gave our luggage to the first available porter who offered his services. He quickly took our bags and pointed us in the direction of the main entrance. While he did a good enough job, we were one of the last to ultimately get our luggage (at 8:45pm), though whether we would have gotten it sooner had we gone to the sign-posted spot for Suite guests, who knows? Anyway, we quickly went through the doorway, was asked to fill-in a questionnaire about flight times for our return, and proceeded to the counter to hand over our pre-printed SeaPass forms, and get our Sea Passes. As part of this process, they also validate the credit card you use to get your SeaPass account, and you are done. A quick detour to sample some free Bacardi shots, a quick photograph for "security purposes" and we were walking up the ramp to the ship. One quick "souvenir photo" later, and we were walking onto Deck 4 of the ship at 12:10, less than half an hour after leaving our hotel and only ten minutes or so after arriving at the pier. If anything, it was possibly too efficient as we did not have time to take it all in. But, you have to say, it was efficient - though one warning. Despite the fact that they validated my credit card, and gave us our Sea Passes, and even though they worked for the first day or so, at one point (on the evening of Day 2) the waiter pointed out to me that my card wasn't working as no credit card had ever been registered, so it was being treated as a cash account, and I would have to go see Guest Services. One very quick visit to the desk sorted things out and I had no further problem, but I was advised by Guest Services that in future even if they tell you at the dock that they have added your credit card details to your record, there is often a bug in the system and it doesn't transfer correctly onboard, so you should always double-check that the card has been registered with them as soon as you board. As we stepped onboard we were told that the cabins would be ready at 2pm, but we were free to "join us for lunch" in The Windjammer and explore the ship until then. Since our Wedding Anniversary was on the Tuesday, we wanted to book Portofino's for Tuesday, so we immediately took the elevator up to Deck 11 to make our booking; we also tried to get tickets for the Ice Show from Guest Services, but was told that they would be given out for both evenings at 10:30 the next morning, which they were. So, we then went back up to Windjammers and had a very enjoyable, leisurely lunch. Overall, a remarkably efficient embarkation. ACCOMMODATION: Just after 2pm, the doors opened and we were able to go to our Staterooms. I was a little anxious as I am used to staying at good hotels on business, and even though I had researched the cabins thoroughly, I was worried about its size and location. Given that we had travelled so far, and we would be staying in San Juan for four days after the cruise, we had three large suitcases, and I was worried about storage space also. However, as soon as we got off the elevator on Deck 10 and turned into the corridor, we sensed all would be well. We were in a Junior Suite, Aft on the Starboard side - 1340 to be precise, about 4 suites behind "the hump". When we walked in we were immediately impressed. The dEcor was very fresh and the room seemed very spacious. A Queen-size bed, three-seat sofa, a couple of armchairs and a coffee table, all nicely spaced with no sense of anything being crammed into a small space. The glass doors opened onto a good-size balcony with two more chairs, a sun-lounger and another small table. Very impressive. Even the bathroom - which included a bath with an integrated shower unit - was decent sized, though the slightly stale odor in the bathroom was one of the few minor irritants we encountered. For closet space, there was a large walk-in closet that had more hanging space than even we needed, with ample room to store our three suitcases when empty - though I discovered almost at the end of the cruise that all three cases fit comfortably under the bed. It didn't matter, there was so much space in the closet that the cases were not a problem there. I must hand it to the designers of these staterooms - there were so many drawers, cabinets, etc in the room that we had several storage spaces that we did not even use. There was way more storage than you get in an average room in a good hotel. We loved our Stateroom and would never even think of sailing in anything other than this type of room again. Lastly, the bed was so comfortable, the AC worked really well, and the location was good too, directly under Portofino which meant we were close to Windjammer, while on the right part of the ship to get up and down quickly to the main dining room - it was just wonderful. DINING: We were assigned table 318 in the Vivaldi room, on Deck 3. In fact, we had the table immediately alongside the Captain's table. We were assigned to a Table of ten (can't recall what I requested), though only on one night were all ten of us there. Sometimes there were eight, but mostly there were only six of us. All of our tablemates were interesting and good company, and we enjoyed their company very much. We ate in the main dining room every night except the Tuesday (our anniversary) when we ate in Portofino's. In the main dining room we had Robert (from Romania) as our waiter, with Pamela (Peru) as his assistant. They were very efficient, friendly and knowledgeable, without being over-bearing or pushy. Robert always gave good recommendations, and they were both willing to help whenever he could. In fairness, I think we all gave them quite an easy time, for while lots of people at other tables were asking for extra portions of this or that, or multiple different options, we all pretty much ordered one starter, one main, one dessert each - with one or two rare exceptions. We certainly couldn't fault the service. The food was generally of a high standard, though perhaps did not have as many options as I expected. However, there was always a Steak dish, a Pasta dish, a Fish dish and a Vegetarian option as the main entrees which varied each night, as well as another one of each that remained constant every night. The quality of the dishes was all as good as most good restaurants in any major city in the world, though perhaps for the bigger appetites, portions might be a little small - but, as I said, you could always ask for more. For me, it was just about perfect. We ate dinner in Portofino on Tuesday and were very happy to have done so. Even though it's an extra $20 per head, the extra-personal service, and the slightly higher standard of food was well worth it. Again, top marks for service here. As for Windjammer, that scores high marks also. We ate lunch a few times, as well as breakfast most days. The selection was always good, and the quality surprisingly high given the amount of food they had to prepare. I was impressed with the cleanliness as often in a buffet-style restaurant serving large numbers, hygiene is an issue. I felt that because everything was "under glass" it seemed to be more hygienic, and even though this made it slightly more difficult to access each item, it was a worthwhile trade-off. One last point on the buffet is that they did not seem to be slow to replace items. In many buffets they will wait until an item is almost completely finished before replacing it, but here they seemed to replace a tray with a fresh one when there was around 30% remaining in the existing one - and they seemed to discard the old one, not add it to the new one! I should have checked them out for dinner just to see how it was then, but I am sure it would have been equally good then. While we ate Breakfast in Windjammer most days, on two occasions when we were going off on excursions we ordered room service for "7:30-8:00". On both days we got a telephone call at exactly 7:30 to tell us that our order would be with us "in two minutes" and it was. The quality was very good again, and there was something special about having breakfast on our balcony as we slid into port. Lastly, we had Pizza and sandwiches a couple of times in the Cafe Promenade. As stated in previous reviews, good quality at all hours. The only possible complaint is that the pizzas are quite small and they only have three out at a time, which means you might have to wait a little to get what you want. It was never a big delay, but it just seemed like they could put out possibly a few more pies, and perhaps bigger ones, simply to cut down the waiting time. ENTERTAINMENT: There was so much going on, we didn't see nearly as much as we wanted to. We saw a little of the comedian on the first night, and he looked promising, though we didn't catch him after that. The "Motown" show featuring Spectrum was superb - around 50 minutes of top-notch entertainment from four highly-talented singers. I lived for 18 years in New York and saw a number of top acts, but even I was quite happy to part with $30 the next day for a double CD that they recorded in Vegas. The Ice-show was spectacular, and even the occasional stumble or fall did not detract from a very professional and highly-enjoyable hour or so. The disco (Jester's) was always a little too much, too late, for us, though we did stop in for a drink a couple of times and enjoyed our time there. The bars were generally of a high-standard, with Bolero's in the Blue Moon on the top deck a particular favorite. We also liked Schooner's (the singer on the piano was excellent) and the Champagne Bar which served nice Hors d'oeuvres before dinner. One last point on "entertainment" was the information session on the "At sea" day which explained the best way to shop on shore. I thought it would be a waste of time, but was a very valuable hour as it turned out as it gave such good advice, and was quite reassuring as I hoped to make a significant purchase for my wife during the trip, which I eventually did in St.Maarten. EXCURSIONS: As "rookies" we didn't know what to do as far as excursions went, so ended up doing a mixed bag. I did a lot of research on Cruise Critic before we left, and decided to book Cosol's Tour in St.Lucia, and Henry's (Christopher) for St.Thomas. We decided to wait until we were on the ship to decide what to do with the others. As it turned out, during our first day (at sea) we booked the "Flavor of Barbados" tour through the interactive service on the ship's TV; we decided to wait until we docked before we did anything in Antigua or St.Maarten, though we were thinking of a beach day for Antigua, and shopping for St.Maarten. Our experiences were generally very positive, though with a few disappointments. The tour in Barbados was OK, and when we returned to the ship that afternoon we were quite happy. It was only after seeing how much better the other tours later in the week that we started to feel "let down" by this first one. Perhaps we chose poorly, though since we only booked it the afternoon before, there was not much choice. We were met at the pier on docking, and were underway quite quickly. Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable, but he seemed to be a little jaded - he obviously did a lot of these and struggled to make each one seem "fresh" as it needs to be for a new group of guests. We went to a Rum factory, followed by Sunbury Plantation, then the home/workshop of Reggie Medford who made wonderful carvings from Mahogany. All very interesting, and we even parted with some cash for a couple of pieces from here. All quite nice, but when we returned to the ship at lunch time, all we had seen of beaches or coastline was 15 minutes or so as we drove out of Bridgetown. After a quick lunch at Windjammer, we then went shopping back in town which was a little less friendly than the other islands proved to be, due to the general untidiness of the place, and the number of people hanging out on street corners begging. In fairness we saw nothing on this excursion or our walk around town that would encourage us to return to Barbados, but I know there is a beautiful island out there, so we will return at some other time and choose our tour more carefully. The next day was St.Lucia, and boy did I strike gold there - thanks to Cruise Critic. I had found Cosol Tours on this site and booked with them only a week or so before leaving Scotland and was delighted to find that we would be in his van. There was a convoy of three vans going, with 8 or so in each van. We had Cosol himself driving, but a feature of their tours is that all vans travel in convoy and get together at each stop. I strongly recommend this tour and suggest you go on the web for all the info you need and contact details. Basically, you see the Botanical Gardens, the Waterfall, the Volcano, various wonderful sights and spend around 90 minutes at one of the most spectacular beaches you have ever seen. Now, for the particular interest of French guests (that's a running joke - ask Cosol to explain) there is NO LUNCH included in the tour. But let me tell you, we have healthy appetites, and after having breakfast onboard at 7:30am, we did not eat "officially" again until dinner, which for us was at 8:30pm and we did not go hungry! You set off with Cosol around 9:30, and return to the terminal around 3:30pm, which gives you around an hour to do some shopping before re-boarding the ship. During the tour, you are stopping approximately every 45 minutes or so, and at most of these stops, Cosol has arranged for a sample of local produce - bananas, bread fruit fritters, papaya, Johnny Cakes, Fish Cakes with Hot Sauce and some incredible hot bread with cheese. Each time he throws the coolers open to provide as much water, soda, beer and rum punch as you want. And all of this food, drink and admissions to sights, beach etc are covered in your excursion cost, which is $45 per head, payable at the end of the tour. Quite frankly, I think this tour is sensational, and while there may be other good ones out there, I cannot see how anyone would ever be disappointed with Cosol - one of the absolute highlights of the week for us. The next day was Antigua and we got our only bad weather of the week. Thankfully we had decided to wait until we got there to make any plans as we heard that tours could be arranged quickly with the local taxi dispatcher right on the pier. We hoped to do a morning tour, followed by the afternoon on the beach. After a relatively bright start, the heavens opened up around 9:30 and it rained very hard (even by Scottish standards!) until around 1pm, to the point where it would have been totally pointless to take a sight-seeing tour, though some people did report later that the other side of the island was fairly clear for the whole day. Anyway, we used the time to explore some of the ship we had not seen, and do the only bit of email/web-surfing we allowed ourselves. Around 1pm it got much brighter, and we frantically rushed ashore. While the official taxi-dispatcher was looking for $90 for an afternoon tour, we haggled with one of the drivers to get him down to $60 to take us to Nelson's Dockyard, English Harbour etc, and then to take us to see some nice beaches, in particular Jolly Beach. We ended up getting a very nice private tour for around 3 hours and came away with a positive feel for Antigua. Friday was St.Maarten and the object of the exercise was shopping for the long overdue gift for my wife, which we ultimately got at the very pleasant shops right at the pier. After taking a water-taxi over to do a little more shopping and sight-seeing in the town, we went back to the ship and shared a taxi ride with some others to "Orient Beach" (specifically the Bikini Beach section) where we had lunch and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours. Our last full day (Saturday) was St.Thomas where I had booked a tour with Henry Christopher, a retired cop with many years of experience. We were afraid of being delayed as everyone on the ship had to clear US Immigration before we could go ashore, but the whole process ran very smoothly, and less than 5 minutes after leaving our stateroom, we were on our way off the ship after having absolutely no line to negotiate with the immigration guys. After a slight delay in getting started with Henry (we were waiting on another family who eventually decided not to take the tour) we got underway around 10, and as there was only the two of us we transferred from Henry's Safari Vehicle into his private car where we were joined by his lovely wife, Norma. We then spent a very enjoyable couple of hours with them, seeing the sights with the overlook above Magens Bay being the most impressive. As we requested, Henry then took us to the Beach there, where he left us for a couple of hours for lunch, swimming etc. After getting picked up by him he took us on the last leg of the tour which also included a couple of personal touches which I will keep to myself as he can't always do these for every tour, dependent on numbers. Suffice to say that we felt quite privileged to be shown around by Henry and his wife and thoroughly enjoyed the day, and we still had an hour or so to do some shopping before boarding the ship for the last time. To sum up these excursions, all were good value, but the RCCL trip in Barbados was certainly the weakest of them all, and clearly the research on the internet and sites such as Cruise Critic are worth their weight in gold! DISEMBARKATION: Frankly, we were worried. We had no flight to catch, and expected to be last off the ship. While we had no real rush to go anywhere, we also didn't want to hang around after leaving our stateroom at 8am as required, though we were encouraged when Guest Services told us that we would be off "no later than 10-10:30". As it turned out, we worried needlessly. We had mostly packed before dinner on Saturday night, and put the finishing touches to it immediately afterwards. We tagged our bags, colour-coded grey, and had received a "disembarkation group" number of 5. We put our bags outside the door as requested before midnight, and went for a night-cap in one of the bars. As recommended by our waiter, we went down to the Main dining room for breakfast around 8am on Sunday morning, and they began to call the first group by 8:30. We finished breakfast just before 9, and wandered around the Shops for a while before settling in at the (closed) Schooner bar on Deck 4 Forward, close to where people were disembarking. At around 9:30 our group was called, and no more than 3 minutes later, we were off the ship and our "Adventure" was sadly over. We got to the bottom of the ramp and were greeted by staff who pointed out where "Grey luggage" was stored in this aircraft-hangar sized area. Here, I probably made my best decision of the whole trip. I was asked if I needed help by one of the army of porters armed with a luggage trolley, which I accepted. I was then greeted by Luis who took me swiftly to the area where my bags were to be found. I quickly spotted all three, at which point Luis took my Customs form from me, and told me to follow him. We probably would have got through this point quickly anyway, as no one seemed to get stopped, but after breezing past the Customs guys, Luis really struck gold! We were now outside, but faced with a line at least 50 yards long of people waiting for taxis - remember the ship had been disgorging people for an hour before we got off. Luis took one look at the line, said something like "I am going to find a friend, follow me" and he took off way down the line of taxis until he found what he was clearly looking for - a lady dispatcher whom he spoke quickly in Spanish to. Thirty seconds later my luggage was in a taxi, and after handing Luis the best $5 I spent the whole trip, we were off and back at our hotel in Condado within 20 minutes of leaving Deck 4. OVERALL: A wonderful trip that we already want to repeat on a regular basis. Things we really liked were: The Ship - just tremendous. Clean, spacious, with never a feeling of being crushed. The "at sea" day was busy around the pool, but not unbearably so; you had to wait for the elevators sometimes, but usually only at main meal times, or when getting on/off at ports of call. The Stateroom - cant speak for them all, but the Junior Suites were very comfortable and really had a "touch of class" about them. We had the slight odor problem in the bathroom, and one time when my wife ran a bath she got a little "gunge" coming out of the overflow - probably because no one ever actually takes a bath, but overall the quality was very high. The crew and staff - all very friendly and always very positive, with the exception of just one guy who was "Mr Grumpy" for the week, though thankfully we only saw him when getting on/off! The service generally, including the Tuxedo rental service. was great. I had booked a Tuxedo for the cruise - again I only did so a week or so before the trip - and that was waiting for me, hanging up in the closet, when I arrived in our Stateroom, and magically disappeared on our last evening. If you are planning to "go formal", I highly recommend this service - no need to carry a tux/suit, and everything is right there waiting for you. The food - high quality, well presented. Cleanliness - can't be faulted anywhere. The bars - all very pleasant; all with their own theme; all classy. The "Solarium" Pool area. We like kids, but it was nice to be able to be in a pool area for "adults only", which seemed to be observed (almost) 100% of the time we were there, though after the only "at sea" day we had on Day 2, we didn't get many chances to go to the pool area. The food - good quality, well presented. The itinerary - great ports of call; limited "sea time", though it is a little frustrating that they leave port so early - never later than 5pm - despite having such short distances to cover. Clearly the desire to get you back on board spending money in the bars and casino dictates this as an "average cruising speed of around 8 knots" as reported by the Captain is just about my running speed! Surely, they could give us another couple of hours ashore? Things we didn't like? The odor in the loo - must bring an air freshener the next time! One of the reasons I had chosen a Junior Suite was because it also has a bath which my wife likes to take each evening; it was disappointing that she could not do so due to the "stuff" that came out of the overflow. In truth, we should have made a report of it and got it addressed, but we decided that for the week the shower would suffice, which it did! The inability to get COLD water in the bathroom (for brushing teeth); somehow, we expected to have a problem getting hot water, but that was in plentiful supply. We could never get it to run cold! Would we do it again? Without a doubt, and a Junior Suite on a Voyager-class RCCL ship will be our first choice next time also. In fact, we are already thinking of the "other " Southern Caribbean itinerary that they do in alternate weeks out of San Juan for next June! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
OK All...here is my take on the Adventure of the Seas. I hope this helps all of you future cruisers. I know this might be a little long, I want to try to be pretty thorough to answer any questions you may have. We arrived in San Juan the ... Read More
OK All...here is my take on the Adventure of the Seas. I hope this helps all of you future cruisers. I know this might be a little long, I want to try to be pretty thorough to answer any questions you may have. We arrived in San Juan the night before. We stayed in the Sheraton located in Old San Juan. Nice hotel...convenient to tons of restaurants in the Old San Juan area. We had a few hours to walk around and explore the old San Juan area. We ate dinner that night at The Parrot Club. The food was great. Now on to the real info you're all looking for... "The Ship" On Sunday we arrived to the pier at about 11:30am. There was already a short line of people. Arriving at the pier was a little bit confusing, but not too terrible. A few signs on where to bring your luggage would definitely help. We figured out that you have to take your luggage to the front of the line. So make sure you bring your luggage up to the front where porters will tag your bags (if you haven't done so already) and take them from you to bring on board. Once they open the doors, things flowed pretty smoothly. You have to pass thru metal detectors then proceed to a counter where you receive your sail pass card. From there, you walk up a few ramps, they take a photo of you and then you're on the ship. All total, I would say this process took no more than 30 minutes. I'm sure if you got to the pier later in the day, the line would have been much longer. We were not able to get to our cabins until close to 2pm. However, once on the ship, we were able to roam around, make our reservations at Portofino's make spa reservations, walk thru the lounges, bars, casino, eat lunch etc... We ate lunch in the Windjammer which was decent. (More on the food later). At just before 2pm they released the fire doors so we were able to get into our cabins. We had a Jr. Suite located on Deck 9 (Cabin 9558). The room was great by cruise ship standards. My wife and I brought a TON of stuff and we still had PLENTY of storage space. I've been on 2 previous cruises, but this was my first cruise that we had a balcony and now we are spoiled forever. Having that balcony to sit on in the morning or at night as we're pulling into or out of port was amazing and well worth every penny. Our stateroom attendant was really great. Fitzroy was very helpful with whatever we needed. Extra towels, no problem. Laundry and cleaning....sure thing. Such a pleasure to deal with. I think we had our luggage by about 5pm or so. At 6 or 6:30pm was the requisite muster drill where everyone looked very sexy in their big orange life jackets. While slightly annoying, it was painless and only lasted about 15 minutes. That night's dinner was casual dress. Here is where I'll talk about how everyone was dressed throughout the cruise. On the two formal nights, most men were dressed in either tuxedos or suits and women in suits or evening dresses. There were a few however who ignored those dress recommendations and decided to dress in jeans and short sleeve shirts the entire trip (and in my opinion made themselves look foolish). On the non-formal nights, most men were dressed in slacks and a nice shirt (either long or short sleeve) and women in cocktail or sun dresses. On to the food… We ate in the dining room for dinner every night except Wednesday night (when we ate in Portofino's). The food in the dining room was really incredible. I wish I had kept the menus, but unfortunately did not. The service was great. Our waiters name was Edmund and he was awesome. Such a great personality and so helpful. His recommendations were right on track and always got us anything we wanted and how we wanted it. Our assistant waiter was Luciano and was also very good at what he did. The chef's specialties were great. I think there was only one night which the food was just ok. Everything from the prime rib, to the duck, to the lamb shank, to lobster tails were just great. I happen to love the chilled fruit soups, and ordered that every night in addition to another appetizer. My wife loves more of the hot soups, and they were great as well. The roasted garlic soup and lobster bisque were great. (Rating: 10 out of 10) As I said, on Wednesday night we ate at Portofino's. We almost had a little trouble with that as it appeared that they lost our reservation. However, they had no problem seating us right away. The food at Portofino's was great. It was a dining experience however and did take a little over 2 hours. It was definitely worth the extra $20 per person. (Rating: 10 out of 10) We ate lunch at Johnny Rockets one day when on board. I've eaten at Johnny Rockets on the mainland before and this did not disappoint. When you sit down, they bring you a big plate of fries and onion rings. You then order your lunch however you want it. The only thing that was extra was beverages. However, if you purchased the soda card (which we did, more on that later) then you didn't have to pay for sodas. The burgers were definitely good sized and cooked just right. For breakfast we ate at either Windjammer or in the dining room. Breakfast was good. Fresh omelets were available in the windjammer or in the dining room. The pastries and muffins were good as well. Overall, breakfast was simple, consistently good, however it was nothing spectacular. (Rating: 8 out of 10) Of course there was also the Cafe located in the promenade. This had pastries and muffins available for breakfast and sandwiches, pizza, cakes and cookies the rest of the day. I'm from the New York City area and as such VERY picky about my pizza. This was actually pretty decent pizza. (Ratings: Pizza 6.5 out of 10, everything else 9 out of 10). Overall Rating of food: 9 out of 10. Norwalk virus… Unfortunately, on our first day at sea, the Captain did make an announcement that there was an outbreak of what he termed "GI sickness". We knew this meant norovirus or Norwalk virus like outbreak. From that moment on, every time you went into ANY food establishment on the ship, there was someone there to squirt alcohol disinfectant on your hands. We also walked around with a bottle of Purell and used it religiously. We didn't want to take any chances of getting sick. We used it almost after virtually everytime we touched a railing, an elevator button, or just about anything. They had crews running around the ship cleaning everything in sight from top to bottom CONSTANTLY. By Day 4 or 5, they pretty much had everything contained, but erred on the side of caution and continued to clean, clean, clean and enforced that everyone used the sanitizers before entering the dining rooms or windjammer. Onto the ports… Aruba We did the Sights and Swim excursion. We boarded a bus that took us around to some of the sights of the island such as the rock formations, the natural bridge (which collapsed a few years ago) and then onto Palm Beach. Palm Beach was a beautiful beach. You can rent lounge chairs from several vendors and there is a bar right on the beach. If you want snorkeling or diving, this is not the place to go though. After the beach, we went back into town where we ate lunch at Iguana Joes and then walked thru some of the shops. Overall, I'd give Aruba 6 out of 10. (Good place to visit with a cruise, don't know that I'd run back to spend an extended period of time there) Curacao We booked the Spanish Water Snorkeling excursion. For this excursion, you get on a boat and its about a 40 minute boat ride to a sunken tug boat. The seas were a bit choppy that morning. The snorkeling was great. We had about 75 minutes to be in the water. We saw some beautiful fish. After the 40 minute boat ride back, we walked around town for a bit. We went into the synagogue in town. If you're into historical artifacts, it's definitely worth checking out. Rating: 6 out of 10. (As with Aruba, I felt it was a good place to visit with a cruise, don't know that I'd run back to spend an extended period of time there) After a day at sea, we arrived in St. Martin. For this island, we booked the Dolphin Discovery Adventure. This involves about a 45 minute boat ride over to the neighboring island of Anguilla. Then a 10-15 minute bus ride to the dolphin school. After a short introduction, you put on life jackets and are broken up into 3 groups. Be aware, this excursion does not involve SWIMMING with the dolphins. You get to pet it, touch it, kiss it, hold its fins, and a few lucky ones get to feed it. All the while, someone on dry land is video taping this. The DVD is available for about $30 bucks. Photos and other souvenirs are also available. Lunch is included which consisted of hamburgers, chicken, tuna salad etc… We then walked over to the beach right next to the dolphin facility called Meads Bay. This was an absolutely amazing beach. Crystal clear waters….pretty good snorkeling (you just have to find the spots). And just overall a great experience. After the return bus and boat ride, you still have about 90 minutes to walk around downtown and do any shopping you may want to do before you get back on the ship. Rating: 10 out of 10. (Such a beautiful island, would definitely go back to spend more time) (Last and but not least, unfortunately) St. Thomas The morning that you arrive in St. Thomas you have to clear customs. This was a VERY easy process. For US citizens, you go to one level of the dining room, for non-US citizens you go to another level. The entire process took about 3 minutes. You show your sea pass and passport. At the first station they scan your sea pass card. At the second station they look at your passport and mark your sea pass card. And as Porky Pig says… "That's All Folks". This island we decided to do our own thing and not book a formal excursion. When we got off the ship, we found plenty of taxi cabs just waiting for passengers. We decided to go to Sapphire Beach. This was such an amazing beach. Beautiful powdery sand, great snorkeling. My wife and I rented wave runners. This cost $50 per person for 30 minutes to drive our own. These things move!!! We were moving around out on the water at about 30 - 35 mph. We had a great time. They also had parasailing, and other water sports available at this beach if you were interested. We stayed for about 2 hours. Once our driver picked us up, we picked up some fellow passengers at Coki Beach. Coki Beach appeared to be a beautiful beach, but much more crowded and lots more locals. On our way back to the ship, we stopped at a lookout on top of the mountain where we were able to see for MILES!! Our driver took us to downtown to walk around, do some shopping, and have lunch. We ate lunch at a place called Tavern on the Waterfront. The food was really great. I had the ribs, we had several appetizers which were all phenomenal. The burgers looked really good as well. (Rating: 10 out of 10. Would DEFINITELY go back) Shopping on the islands… We did look around in many of the stores on all the islands. Maybe we just went into the wrong stores, or were looking at the wrong items, but we didn’t feel that there were any incredible bargains. Many of the stores you will see on every island you visit. The one thing we felt was a great bargain was liquor. The only problem with that is getting it back home with the new restrictions on bringing liquids onto airplanes. You may actually find a better deal for certain things on board the ship. Entertainment on board… We went to the shows 5 of the 7 nights. The production shows were pretty good. A few of the singers were really great. We had a few comedians who were hilarious. Our cruise director was Mike Szwajkowski and he was amazing. Always made you laugh, and always having fun. We went to the Quest which was one of the best experiences. I highly recommend all adults going to that. The ice show was incredible. The band that played in the Imperial Lounge (I think their name was Riptide) was great. One night they did something called Rock-a-rokie. I’ve done karaoke before but this was a whole different experience. You actually sang with the band. This was SO MUCH fun and such a unique experience. You actually felt like a rock star for a few minutes. The casino was ok, but unimpressive. It was big enough for the number of people that actually gambled it suppose, but with so many other things to do on board, we actually only spent about 30 minutes the entire week in there. Overall rating for entertainment 8 out of 10. Pool areas… We spend a few hours each day (especially the days at sea) out by the pool. We never had any trouble finding lounge chairs to plop ourselves down onto. If you wanted to be in the solarium or right next to the pool, then you had to get there a little earlier, but otherwise, we had a pretty easy time getting lounges. Every few minutes someone came by asking if you wanted a drink. Drinks… The cost for drinks was reasonable (by New York City standards at least). Beer was about 4 bucks. Other drinks ranged anywhere from $5 - $8 bucks per drink depending on the type of drink. And the drinks were really good. They had some great variations on your standard tropical drinks. My wife and I both purchased the soda package. We felt this was well worth it. The only place you can get iced tea or lemonade was in the windjammer or in the dining room. Otherwise, if you don’t want alcoholic drinks, you have to pay $2 bucks per soda. With the card, you can drink as much soda from any of the bars anywhere on the ship. Physical activities… (gym, rock climbing, etc…) We tried the rock climbing wall. Of the four of us that did it, the two guys had a relatively easy time reaching the top. The ladies had a little bit of a harder time and only got about halfway up. It does require a decent amount of strength. We also used the gym on board a few times. The gym was really nice. Good equipment, well maintained. Unfortunately we never got to go ice skating, play mini golf, or use the inline skating track. Thoughts on Quinceanera… We found out right before we left that this sailing was going to have some quinceaneras. We didn’t know what to expect and were a little worried. It turned out this was really not as big of a deal as we thought it was going to be. As with any big group of teenagers, there were some rude and inconsiderate ones. One night in the dining room they did their little parade thru the dining room and took some photos on the staircase. But all in all, it was nothing to worry about. Disembarking… You luggage has to be out in the hallway by midnight on the last night of the cruise. The next morning, the dining room is open until 8:30am. Windjammer is open later. They ask that everyone clear out of the cabins by 8am. The bars, the lounges, and the theater are open for people to sit and wait to disembark. You are assigned into groups and you just have to wait for your group to be called. It actually only took about 10 or 15 minutes to get off the ship. This was truly the only time that I felt like we were on the ship with 3000+ other passengers. However we were still off the ship, found our luggage, and out of the pier in about 30 minutes total. If you are flying American, United, Delta (I think) or Continental, they have an express luggage service where for about $20 bucks per person, you get your boarding passes and luggage tags delivered to your stateroom on Saturday before you place your luggage outside. Once outside of the pier, you hand luggage to a representative from the airline and that’s it. You don’t see your luggage again until you arrive at your final destination. Please be aware, I think you can only do this if your destination is within the US. I don’t believe international travelers have access to this service. OK, so I realize this has been quite a long narrative, but I wanted to try to touch on just about everything and answer a lot of questions I know we all had going into this vacation. Overall I would rate this vacation as 10+ out of 10 and would love to do it again. Overall, everything from the food and service to the excursions to the shows and entertainment and the ship itself was just incredible. It was definitely tough getting off and heading back to reality and back to work. I can’t wait for my next cruise… Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
We recently returned from my 3rd cruise and my husbands 2nd. This was our first experience with RCCL. Getting to the ship was a real accomplishment. Our flight was delayed 7 hours in Philadelphia, compliments of US Airway. Initially, when ... Read More
We recently returned from my 3rd cruise and my husbands 2nd. This was our first experience with RCCL. Getting to the ship was a real accomplishment. Our flight was delayed 7 hours in Philadelphia, compliments of US Airway. Initially, when finding out about the delay and the fear that the Adventure of the Seas would be leaving us behind, there was panic. But finding strength in numbers (about 120+ were affected), passengers banded together and began a rigorous 2 hours of contacting US Airway Customer Service (they were NOT sympathetic) and RCCL. After several hours and numerous phone calls, RCCL agreed to postpone the departure time from San Juan. We arrived at the ship at 8:15 pm and did not depart until 10:00 pm. We must compliment RCCL Customer Service and the Captain for showing some understanding in the situation. Embarkation was smooth and uneventful. This was a plus as we were exhausted after leaving home at 2:00 am to catch a flight that left at 6:15 am, and arriving in Philadelphia at 7:30 am for the unexpected 7 hour delay. We did take advantage of the online check-in prior to our leaving home. It was easy for even me, a person who is not always comfortable with on-line activities. The ship was a city within itself. It was amazing to stand on the promenade deck and think that it was actually a ship. Our cabin was a balcony stateroom. A little on the small side, but yet larger enough for 2 people. One of the most enjoyable times was spending time sitting around the dining table in the evenings and sharing a meal with two other families. One family had 3 children (12, 15 and 16) and the other family had 2 children (7 and 10). My husband and I are grandparents. I found it interesting that after the first evening, our waiter pulled me aside and asked if I was ok with the set-up. What he did not realize that it brought back fond memories of when we had taken our children on a family cruise several years ago. We still cherish those memories and certainly enjoyed being a part of the family bonding that we were able to observe going on with these 2 families. The waiter and assistant waiter went out of there way to make our dining experience wonderful. Pitty, assistant waiter, figured out our likes from the very first meal, and we rarely had to ask for anything. Our waiter was always a wealth of knowledge, making recommendations for each of the ports of call. He had been cruising for 15 years and shared with us that August would be the end of his cruising days, as he pursues plans to share his life with a special girl waiting back home. St. Lucia Taking a cruise can be exciting, but bring much anxiety when trying to determine where to go, what to see, and who to use for a guide during the visits to the various ports. There were so many options given by the cruise ship, but we decided to go independent and seek a private tour, prior to our departure date, that would give us a taste of what the island was really like from the perspective of someone who lived there. We were not disappointed. Fabian's Taxi Tour Service of St. Lucia, info@fabiantoursstlucia.com provided an absolutely wonderful experience for my husband and me. Fabian, himself, met us at the pier and spent the day sharing the beauty of St. Lucia. We started our tour as we traveled through the capital of Castries. We visited Walcott Square, where we were able to see a large Samaan Tree, which is over 400 years old. We drove the winding, mountainous road heading south where we were able to see several fishing villages. The views were breathtaking, including Marigot Bay. Part of the tour included driving through the rain forest, which gets 160 inches of rain/year. We visited the Toraille Waterfalls/Botanical Gardens and Sulfur Springs, a drive-in volcano. We had never experienced the sulfur smell of a volcano or the bubbling, black lava. He shared the history of the island that dates back hundreds of years. We were able to see several churches that were over 200 years old. We sampled local foods (tasting freshly made cassava bread, coconut cookies, fresh coconut, sugar cane, banana ketchup and the best, freshly baked bread ever). He provided unlimited beverages including local beer, rum punch, soda and water. We hit the bottled water heavily that day, but could not finish the day without tasting the rum punch. We had the opportunity to swim at Jalousie Beach that lies between the Pitons, Gros and Petit. We stopped along the road and had lessons on the growing of bananas and cashews. We now understand WHY cashews are so expensive in the US! Fabian stopped and bought roasted cashews so that we could taste how the locals prepare them. We were allowed to leisurely view each stop. It was a relaxed tour and one that Fabian created to meet OUR expectations. His vehicle was air-conditioned and comfortable. We could have invited others to join us, but we chose to make it OUR day. We now have our pictures to remind us of an unforgettable day. We promised Fabian we would share our experience with others upon our return home. Tourism is the primary income for St. Lucia. Word of mouth is the best advertisement for success. We highly recommend using Fabian's Taxi Tour Service when visiting St. Lucia. His ultimate goal is one of customer satisfaction. He went BEYOND our expectations. St. Maartin Upon leaving the ship in St. Maartin, we met up with a couple who we had met in the dining room the day before. We were making plans to walk into town and explore the shopping opportunities, when during our conversation, they invited us to join them for a private tour that they had scheduled prior to their departure from home. The pre-arranged tour was with Joyce's (Prince) Personal Tours, www.joyceprince.com. I must say our decision was an absolute excellent one. Joyce immediately made us welcome. We began the tour stopping in town for some shopping. Once we finished, she began the journey through the town, taking us through residential areas, giving us a clear picture of life on the island. We were able to visit both the Dutch side of the island, as well as the French. We wanted to go to the beach in the afternoon. She took us to a beach that most would never have visited – Divi Beach. It was beautiful and not crowded at all. We gave her a pick-up time and she was waiting on us at the designated location. She had lived most of her life on the island and was a wealth of knowledge. She directed us to the best places to shop for jewelry. I am happy to say that we made a few purchases. Our tour lasted 6.5 hours and she only charged $35.00/person + tipping. Joyce provided a quality tour. She really knows how to “sell” her island. We would like to return and spend some extended time on St. Maartin. St. Thomas We had already decided that we were going to visit Magan’s Bay and relax our last day in port. We made the choice to go to the beach in the morning. It was wonderful. While everyone else was shopping, we arrived at the bay with very few on the beach. It was peaceful and beautiful. By the time we left at 12:00, it had become quite congested. A wise decision to go early. Disembarkation was every bit as easy as embarkation. We enjoyed visiting with friends that we had made during the time that we were waiting to leave. RCCL is a cruise line that we would re-visit. We were satisfied with the customer service, the cleanliness of the ship, our dining experiences and the many opportunities/activities available. We will cherish the memories made. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
My husband and 2 boys (under 8) flew to San Juan a few days early. We had done our SeaPass forms on-line - highly recommend - and boarded the ship about 1:30. Not crowded and really easy to get on. Plenty of time to eat lunch and explore. ... Read More
My husband and 2 boys (under 8) flew to San Juan a few days early. We had done our SeaPass forms on-line - highly recommend - and boarded the ship about 1:30. Not crowded and really easy to get on. Plenty of time to eat lunch and explore. We had our bags at our room by 4. Ship: We had a really great time. The food was good. We had a junior suite - very nice and roomy. The boys loved the Adventure camp. Only bummer for them was that the slide at the kids pool was not working. And the only time we tried to play mini golf there were no clubs or balls (I heard this was commonly experienced.) This is small stuff - everything else was great. Only attended two shows - Welcome show was ok - the ice show was great! I heard good things about the others. Ports: Barbados: Before we left, we booked the Thriller Turtle & Shipwreck Snorkeling Adventure with owner Stephen Tryhane. AWESOME time. Great snorkeling spots, nice crew and really good rum punch! St. Lucia: Again we booked this direct before we left. We used Fabian's Taxi Tour Service of St. Lucia. He was a really nice guy, had a nice van and did a good job showing us this beautiful island. Antigua: Went on the Black Swan pirate boat excursion. We sailed to a small cove to swim. Fun time, but nothing extra special. St. Maarten: We took a cab to a ferry dock to go Pinel Island. It was a windy day but the beach on Pinel Island was so calm and beautiful. There are rentals and a restaurant. A great place to spend the day with kids. Due to the water quality snorkeling wasn't great, but others there said it had some good spots. St. Thomas: Booked the St. John Beach Tour excursion. Highly recommend. 45 minute ferry ride was nice. Trunk Bay is amazing. The snorkeling there is great. A beautiful island. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
On Sunday, July 15, we woke up at about 3:00am to catch a 6:00am flight at O'Hare Airport. Our flight was wonderful with no problems, and we really enjoyed the MD-80 we flew on. We arrived at Fort Lauderdale right on time, and met ... Read More
On Sunday, July 15, we woke up at about 3:00am to catch a 6:00am flight at O'Hare Airport. Our flight was wonderful with no problems, and we really enjoyed the MD-80 we flew on. We arrived at Fort Lauderdale right on time, and met with the Princess airport transfer person. While waiting just a short time to get on the bus for Port Everglades, we overheard a couple talking to the Princess transfer person. All 3 of their checked bags were lost by the airlines! We felt so bad for them! Unfortunately, we don't know what happened to them or their bags. That is always a terrible fear for all of us! We arrived at Port Everglades around noon. Waited in a quick line, and embarked the ship within an hour. We walked passed the first photo opportunity on the gangway. I didn't feel like it because I was hot and had been through it before. (That wouldn't be a pic I would want to purchase. By then, all makeup was worn off anyway.) :blush: We dropped off our carry-on luggage in our room on the Dolphin Deck. Our room number was D218. It was nice, just as we expected. We had the same room last year. We were greeted by our room steward, Restituto, or Rusty, as he liked to be called. I don't think he ever slept. He was great and welcomed us back on board after checking our cruise card and noticing it was gold. (I felt so special!) He gave us our champagne and we checked out the room. I noticed that our itinerary had COMPLETELY changed. It really was not a big deal, but I was only expecting one port change. Had to make some adjustments to my own schedule that I brought with. Like to write down the ports, places to shop, things to see, etc. I am an organizational freak. Mike, my hubby, has learned to ignore my OCD. After a few changes to the schedule, we went off to eat lunch. We had our lunch at the buffet. Not totally impressive, but I love their soups! After lunch, we stopped back at the room, to check our luggage. It was all there! We unpacked some items, and got ready for the muster drill. Our muster station was in the Caribbean Princess Theatre. It was a lot of fun watching the entire theatre turn orange while trying on our lifejackets. After the drill, we partied on the deck and enjoyed the sail away party. We went to dinner at our traditional dining time, 6:00pm in the Palm dining room. If you have never been on the ship before, you could have been confused about how to get to this dining room. You have to walk to the end of the ship and take ONLY the far left or right elevator. After this navigation, the dining room is right off of the elevator. Dinner was great. Our waiter was Alex. He was very professional, and we hoped to loosen him up by the end of the week. We sat next to a great couple the whole cruise! Nate and Angie were on their honeymoon and booked the 14 day itinerary. This was their 8th day on the ship, and we really enjoyed their company. Coincidentally, they are from Illinois as well! But it gets better! We hung out together every night. They ended up taking the same flight home with us!!!!!!!!!!!! We couldn't have planned better coincidences. Anyway, we went back to our room after dinner, and went to bed. We were beat! Monday, July 16th. We woke up early for a 7am breakfast. One of our only breakfasts in the dining room during the whole cruise. We couldn't wake up in time and had to eat at the morning buffet. I had an 8:00am pedicure appointment at the Lotus Spa. I love how I am treated there. I felt like a queen after my foot massage, and bought some oil for my feet. I guess I got sucked into it, but it was the only thing I bought at the Spa. We took care of odds and ends this day. We booked our next cruise through the future cruise booking center. We will sail July 19, 2008 on the Caribbean Princess out of New York, and enjoy the caribbean. It is a 9 day cruise, and we would like to stay a few days to enjoy New York. We are so excited, and can't wait to spend our shipboard credits! We also visited the Captain's Circle Membership desk, and didn't find the woman to be that friendly. There was a long line behind us and she seemed preoccupied by it. I took my new Caribbean stamp to put in my Princess Passport book, and we were off. Sorry to have bothered her during a busy time. :unsure: We visited Princess Cays today, and enjoyed one of our only sunny days. I laid in the sun, and Mike played a ton of beach volleyball. If you have never visited Princess Cays there are many tips I could give: If you plan on swimming, bring water shoes. The rocks/coral could cut up your feet in a second. You can NOT use your Coke card on the island. You must pay for all drinks. Except water and iced tea. If you rented a beach cabana, DO NOT wait in the rental line. you could wait up to 20 minutes and they will just tell you what I'm about to say: Walk around the beach, and simply choose a cabana that hasn't been put together yet. Find a staff member to assemble it for you. They wear Princess Cays shirts. I believe they are yellow. You simply hand him your beach cabana ticket, and they are off to help others. If you are interested in playing basketball on the island, you will be disappointed. When we visited the island last year, the basketball and the net were stolen by the locals. This year, they had a net! My husband got really excited. However, the ball was deflated and no one had a pump. :sad2: He was stuck playing sand volleyball. By the end of the day, there's no more water in the coolers around the island. Solution: Flip the top of the cooler open, and take a cup full of ice. It melts in no time, and is just as refreshing. If you want to be a cheap skate, take this advice: Bring your camera on the island. You will not be sorry you did. When you pass over the bridge for the rental station, stop and have someone take a picture with you and the ship in the background. You are being a cheap skate, because early in the day, Princess photographers offer to take the same picture that you would pay big bucks for on the ship. Take this picture at the end of the day when the Princess photographer is gone. This way, you will not be wasting their time. This picture is one of my favorites from our trip! Tuesday, July 17 Today begins our first few days of rain, rain, and more rain. Today was not a good day for me. The storms, 8 foot waves, and choppiness contributed to my terrible bout of sea sickness. I visited the doctor today to get medicine. I didn't eat all day, and slept almost all day and night. I was dead to the world. :sick: Wednesday, July 18 St. Thomas, USVI I was so excited today because I felt much better when I woke up. After going through customs, and watching someone get grilled about their credentials, we decided to check out St. Thomas. I thought I would enjoy this island more, but I didn't. The shopping deals were not as great as everyone boasted about. I tossed around buying either a Coach purse, a Tiffany bracelet, or a Cache dress. I picked the Coach purse and did not regret it. After pushy salespersons, and observing poverty stricken people and buildings, I was ready to get back on the ship. However, all I was looking forward to was Magens Bay Beach. We really enjoyed the softness of the sand. This beach is now on National Registry. I thought it was gorgeous and will return to it when our ship stops in St. Thomas next year. However, I have many cons about this beach. These are: You pay for admission into the beach. Where does this money go towards? The bathrooms are atrocious. I was disgusted, but when you have to go....... Also, the line for food was approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes long. I am not exaggerating!!!!!!!!!!!! We waited in line for about 15 minutes when a family in front of us started talking to us. We laughed and discussed what we would change if we worked there. :laugh: They were so nice. You won't believe what they did! They gave us their food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They told us that a couple who had to catch a bus to their cruise ship, didn't have time to eat their food, so they gave their gyros to this family. The kids had never eaten gyros before, and would rather wait in the long line then eat food they'd never tried before. Walaaa! FREE FOOD! We were so thankful! On the way back to the ship, we took some really great pictures. Thursday, July 19 St. Maarten Rain, rain, and more rain! It rained, so we slept in late hoping it would pass. It didn't, so we ventured out. We loved this island. The people were friendly, and it was beautiful. Wish it wasn't raining. We were hoping to go to the beach. We went back to the ship for a late lunch. We were nervous about eating out and after our food experience yesterday, we didn't want to take any chances. After dinner and shows, we ventured up to Skywalkers Nightclub. This is the place that gets me through hard days at work. I think about the entrance to the club. This includes a moving walkway with amazing views of the ocean and ship on each side. Once you are up there, the dance floor is always hopping, and the views of the ocean are amazing. While sitting at a table, you look straight down into the wake the ship is leaving behind. Truly amazing. Anyway, we met a lot of great friends that we saw and partied with each night. Friday, July 20 At sea More and more and more RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGGGGGGGGGHHHHH! We made the best of these rain days, but it did not bode well for my fading, beautiful tan. Mike played in the basketball shootout, but did not place for a medal. He had fun anyway. It was nerve racking up there, though. The court is at the very top of the ship. It was getting more and more windy as the shootout was still going on. I thought I was going to get blown off the ship by the gusty winds and occasional rain. By the end of the shootout, I was ready to go back to the room to hold onto something sturdy. Tonight was formal night, and we enjoyed the Princess Circle Captain's cocktail party. We really enjoyed ourselves. They announced the most traveled person on Princess Cruise lines. The winner actually surpassed the captain by 8 days at sea. He didn't want to admit it because of his pride. However, we knew we were in good hands with Captain Giuseppe Romano. We made our 6:00 dinner seating with our favorite couple and saw some great shows together. We saw Carl Strong, a funny comedian who made up some of his acts as he went along. But, you couldn't tell. He had us rolling on the floor! We also enjoyed the hypnotist act. It definitely didn't look like it was staged. We really laughed our butts off with him. We also saw Bert Stratton. He's entertaining, but I can only sit through one full show. The Elvis impersonation is annoying, since I'm not a huge fan. Mike took a picture of me in front of our cabin door with the Cruise Crazies sign this night. We partied the night away at the nightclub this night as well. Saturday, July 21 At sea A partly sunny day????? We were feeling pretty excited when we woke up this day. Finally, good weather! We got up mid morning to search for deck loungers. After a terrible argument with an entire family, we finally settled into our stolen deck chairs. Oh, come on! Their family told us they were eating lunch. How dare we steal their chairs? Oh well, we were just at the buffet, and it took us 45 minutes to get through the line and sit down to eat. Did I do the wrong thing? Who knows. Saving a deck lounger for someone who doesn't come back is a little weird. After making this family mad for 1 hour, we got up and left. They were glad to see us go. Today was also the final Survivor challenge. Mike seemed to have made his way into this competition. I was hoping for some awesome prizes in the end. After beating out a bunch of people, he finished number 5 out of six final people. He won a Princess reversible bag, a bracelet, a hat, a lanyard, and a bottle of champagne! I love my husband! He knows how to make me happy. Free stuff! We split the bottle of champagne with Angie and Nate at dinner that night. We saw the final show in the Princess Theatre. The juggler was a disappointment, and Ms. Fox, the singer, seemed a little too full of herself to perform to an audience. The ending act was Carl Strong, and he was worth waiting for. He was a knee slapper all night. He went out in the audience and made jokes about/with the people. It was great!Our awesome cruise was coming to an end, but we were looking forward to spending time with Angie and Nate at the airport. I really dislike packing my luggage before dinner the last night of the cruise. How sad. :sad2: Sunday, July 22 Disembarkation at Port Everglades, Florida Disembarkation was a breeze and we were at the airport around 11:30. Our flight was at 5:25pm. We sat at the airport all day, and had lunch with Angie and Nate at Chili's. If they weren't there, I think Mike and I would have been so bored! Could you believe while we were waiting for our flight, a terrible thunder/lightning storm came through and delayed some flights? This weather was following us!!!!!!!!! Our flight was only 20 minutes late even after the storm. We really love the Caribbean Princess and will be taking our 3rd cruise on this same ship next year. We are counting down the days until the next cruise. There are some changes that could be done on the ship. A few things I would like to see change on the Caribbean Princess: The bathroom tiles in our room show a lot of wear. I think the clothesline above the tub causes this to happen. Perhaps they could move this line directly over the shower. Offer other free drinks besides water and iced tea. Perhaps lemonade, or even pop. I don't think they would go bankrupt if they gave away soda at meal times. They made a pretty penny off our bar bill, and it didn't even include soda. Extend the buffet time on Princess Cays Island. I know they bring everything off the ship, but they should extend this time. Also, they should refill the water containers on the island as well. The bars close at an early time, so you can't even get a water if you wanted. Perhaps they could fix the basketball situation on Princess Cays as well. They were doing some work 2 decks below us at 8:00 one morning. They were hammering and drilling, and no one warned us of this situation. The front desk was VERY apologetic. They were pretty embarrassed by the maintenance crew and assured us it wouldn't happen again. I told them a simple warning would have been just fine with me. If I was expecting the ruckus, I would have been more accepting of the situation. I do like seeing the upkeep of the ship. They were constantly fixing and cleaning things. I like seeing that. All in all, we had an absolutely wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
The following has been faithfully translated from Spanish from a vellum manuscript recently found at an archeological dig in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I have attempted to translate faithfully but at some points, I've had to use the ... Read More
The following has been faithfully translated from Spanish from a vellum manuscript recently found at an archeological dig in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I have attempted to translate faithfully but at some points, I've had to use the original words. The first page was missing: "...to accurately describe the voyage taken from this port city named San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, beginning on the 8th of July in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven on the vessel Adventure of the Seas. I am aged 40, work in the financial trade, and have had some previous experience in maritime voyages but these dated back to last century: Renaissance-IV (1994-Windward Islands Southbound), Nordic Empress (4 day: St Thomas/St Maarten), Monarch of the Seas (Eastern Caribbean), and the Sun Princess (1998-Alaska). I booked this route because I had never been to Aruba or Curacao before and looked forward to unwind with 2 days at sea. This was also my first time as a solo traveler. Sunday, July 8th 2007: Port of San Juan - docked along port side of the vessel. My starboard balcony view was that of Old San Juan Latitude North 18.27.566 Longitude W 066.06.001 As a resident of San Juan, I opted not to explore our fair city or seek lodging before our sailing. Instead, I used a hired carriage to arrive at the dock at around 4:04pm. Formalizing all the paperwork of the passage took about 20 minutes and I arrived at my stateroom scant 8 minutes later. My original assigned stateroom was 7504, an ocean-view cabin forward on deck 7. But on Friday my transportation agent informed me that I had been upgraded by the shipping line to a balcony cabin, numbered 7372, which is located aft and starboard. I hope this will aid me in my exploration of the islands and the needed rest I am seeking. My cabin attendant (Knight from China) quickly introduced himself and two minor requests were handled quickly and efficiently. My luggage was delivered at 6:45pm. The cabin size is quite satisfactory with a straightforward layout. Storage space is very adequate and would be even for two people. The only thing I miss is a large enough table to properly spread my map and plot our course on it... At 6pm, we had a safety drill. All of us passengers were lined up in an somewhat orderly manner on deck 4. If we should be attacked by pirates, the Kraken, or other sea monstrosities, we would have to report to these stations to abandon ship by squeezing into the orange longboats. Master Per Arne Kjonso, announced that over 1,200 passengers were Spanish speakers on this voyage. I could see some fellow travelers shudder in front of me as they heard that. I, on the other hand, shrugged this off. Having lived in these islands and the southern continent for most of my life, I was well versed in the language of these fellow explorers. To prepare myself for the evening meal, I wandered the topsides. The sun had finally set and half of the passengers had gone off for an early dinner. On the Fo'c'sle I spied across the bay noticing that the Carnival Glory was similarly tied to the dock. Further south of us in the San Juan bay, two three-masted schooners were anchored. One flew the flag of Brazil, the other bore no flag that I could see with my looking glasses. Pirates? Privateers? I do not know but I shall not sleep easy tonight. This sailing is also a quinceañera voyage, something that seems to often plague the voyages of this fine vessel. A quinceañera celebration is the Latin equivalent of Sweet Sixteen only that it is celebrated at age 15 (quince) instead of 16. At 8:30pm, the time of our casting off, I proceeded to eat in the galley called Portofino. The large portholes provided a magnificent backdrop as we departed San Juan Bay having one last view of the San Felipe del Morro castle. We sail into the unknown leaving the safety of the walled city behind. I chose to eat there this first night precisely because no other night on this sailing offers the same dramatic scenery to enjoy over one's dinner. Had I been accompanied by a fair maiden on this exploration, I am certain that dinner alone would have opened the door to many a joyous moment. Alas, I must travel by myself this voyage... My humble meal consisted of an Arrugula and Asparagus Salad with smoked duck and a lemon vinaigrette, followed by a simple yet tasteful tomato soup. For the pasta course I chose a small portion of Pappardelle with a mushroom cream sauce and as the entrEe, the Saltimbocco alla Romana which is served with a mushroom risotto. Jeanette's service was outstanding and unlike other horror stories I've read of solo travelers, she treated me like anybody else, as did the other members of the wait-staff, even if I did not order wine. I enjoyed Portofino so much, I talked to the manager and put down a standing reservation each night at 8:30pm. I then proceeded to the Strauss main dining hall and informed them that I wouldn't be joining the table of 4 I had been assigned to for the rest of the voyage. I was congratulated on my dining choice... 11pm: On the High Seas heading west along Puerto Rico's northern coast. The cabin food I ordered arrived in less than 15 minutes. I am not hungry, but my sugar disease requires I eat smaller portions more often and a late night turkey sandwich is a must. I also receive hot water for my evening teas I packed in my sea trunk. Being on a ship without proper tea would be - uncivilized. I shall turn in soon. The high heat and humidity of San Juan has drained me while I was tending to my home affairs before stepping on board. I will fall asleep, knowing we are crossing the shark infested waters of the Mona Passage between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Monday July 9th: At sea over the Venezuela Bain heading towards the Aruba Gap 10:15am - 16.45 N - 68.10 W; course 205 at 13.4 kts; sea with small chop and some white caps - visibility: unlimited Carelessness on my part. I forgot to properly draw the curtains last night and, although on the shaded side of the vessel, the morning light caused me to wake up much earlier than normal. 6:30am, an ugly hour more suited to go to sleep (as in my younger days) than waking up. I ordered some hot water for my teas and reviewed the shipboard activities. The selection is overwhelming and it would do little justice to enumerate even a few. I had breakfast in the Vivaldi dinning hall and was not impressed at all with the options available. A previous exploration of the Windjammer breakfast showed few differences that would make one go out of one's way to be in the dining room. Additional items in the areas of heartier breakfasts would be appreciated, such as steak & eggs. I ordered the smoked salmon and a tea. Unfortunately, the brand of tea left much to be desired although a generous selection of that brand is available. I am thankful to have heeded the advice of the many anonymous members of the Cruisecritic Explorers Association and packed my own. 1:50pm - 16.03N 68.30W - course 204 at 12.6 knots Lunch at the Vivaldi wasn't much better. I ordered the Indian soup (coconut and chicken), the Caribbean salad, and the Asian inspired catfish. Of these, the soup was the best. I resign myself to the fact that the only good meal each day will be dinner at Portofino as well as lunches on the islands. Having scouted the bowels of the ship where the portrait artist shop is located, I realize that Portofino has one additional benefit which is the absence of these omnipresent entities. 7:13pm - 15.00N 69.00W - Course 205 at 12.3 knots At 5pm I participated in the Cruisecritic Explorers Association meeting held at the Blue Moon Lounge. Unfortunately, having arrived late due to technical circumstances (I got lost...) all my fellow explorers were already in the Mingle part while I was starting to Greet. I recommend all fellow explorers to attend these meetings and to be on time. 10:15pm - 14.25N 69.17W - Course 205 at 13.3 knots Just returned from another delectable meal at Portofino. I allowed Jeanette to chose my dishes for me. This is what she came up with: Tiger shrimp on a saffron risotto, a bean soup (very tasty), the same pasta as yesterday (heavenly again), and Filetto di manzo alla Piastra (grilled tenderloin with truffle mashed potatoes and sautEed baby vegetables. Our vessel has also been invaded by animals!!! No, not the quinceañera passengers. But the real thing. As I entered my cabin, a small pachyderm stared at me from my bed lustfully looking at the chocolate left by the cabin attendant. I am at a loss where it could have come from... Perhaps it's a message from the Almighty Himself that I should stop eating so much. Our crossing of the Caribbean Sea will be over in the morning as we reach Aruba's capital Oranjestad. Tuesday July 10th: at sea nearing Aruba. 7:21am 12.31N 70.04 W - Course 106 10.4 kts and slowing; flat seas We have finally spotted land and are making our final approach to Aruba. I have awoken early to prepare for my exploration inland and ate breakfast at the Windjammer at around 6:50am. As noted earlier, the breakfast items available were essentially the same as in the dining room; as I was leaving, omelets and eggs cooked to order were being prepared at the Island Grill further aft. There were no lines of any kind at this hour although as I was returning to my stateroom, the throngs were starting to arrive. 11:24am Docked in Oranjestad along the port side of the vessel. The view from my starboard balcony was ocean I decided to do a small walking tour of Oranjestad on my own. Once out of the port, I took a northeasterly direction until I hit L.G. Smith Boulevard where I continued to my right. This blvd. runs through the waterfront eventually reaching the airport. Being out early (8:30am) was a good decision since shops were barely opening up and the town wasn't run over yet. After a very leisurely 10 minute walk, past Parliament and the Prime Ministers Office, I arrived at beautifully manicured Wilhelmina Park where there is a gorgeous statue of Queen Wilhelmina. After that park, I crossed the street inland to Oranje Street and a block down, saw and entered the Fort Zoutman Willem III Tower (which was once a lighthouse and has a couple of cannons in front - gifts from the people of Curacao). For $6.00 I explored this museum which recounts some of the early history of Aruba. One document I saw there impressed me. It was the 1845 census!!! Although I don't speak Dutch, my German helped - somewhat - in understanding the categories which I believe to be: Men, Women, Indians, & Mestizos (but it could be White, slaves, Indians, mestizos). All added up to 2,510. Then another column summed up the religious background to the same 2,510. A fascinating document from a different era of course. After the Fort, I continued on Orange St. until I got to Wilhelmina St. where I took a left. The ladies at the museum had recommended I go that way because it was architecturally more interesting. I stopped by a post office to buy some postage and a market to buy some sundries. Wilhelmina St. then becomes Haven St. where I continued until getting to the Numismatic Museum. I really had looked forward to this since coins tell so much history. However, at the Fort Tower they had already advised me that the coin museum would be closed "because grandmother died and her funeral is today. We are also closing up at 2pm to go to it." From the coin museum I made my way back onboard. 2pm Fearing a repeat of being disappointed by the on-board food for the masses, I went on-shore in search of a proper eating establishment. Not having prepared for this possibility before my departure in San Juan, I decided to eat Indian food at a restaurant I remembered seeing from my walk this morning. The whole southern part of the Caribbean, stretching from the ABC of the Caribbean up the island chain to about St. Maarten, has a large Indian descendent community and they brought their cuisine and tastes with them. I had an excellent lamb meal which was very spicy; not a curry, but more like a Marsala type dish. This was served with a side of perfectly cooked rice. It was delicious and the hotness did not take away from the flavors of the dish. After lunch, I wandered about the shop areas looking for small souvenirs for co-workers and friends. Once back on board, I've decided to drink a few cups of tea and read my book. 10:20pm 12.21N 69.53W Course 125 6.4kts We left the safety of Oranjestad harbor around 8pm to once again brave Caribbean waters on our way to Curacao. We must be sailing close hauled as our speed is half of what we have doing these past few days. We are now directly south of the Arubian town of Saint Nicolass. Being of German descent, I had always been inquisitive as to where he spends his time the rest of the year before delivering gifts to children in December. One childhood question answered. Dinner was again superb. I started with the carpaccio, followed by the vegetable minestrone, and then the grilled halibut. I skipped the pasta course tonight in order to indulge in desert. A sublime collection of 4 deserts were brought on the sampler plate. I found the white chocolate brulle and the pistachio mousse to be of particular interest to me. Returning to the cabin, I found that the invasion of the animals has not been able to be controlled by the security forces of this vessel. Tonight, a dog has joined my elephant. Fortunately, they appear to be house broken as I have yet to step into anything unbecoming of a gentleman. I retire for the evening early once more since I have left instructions to be awoken at the un-godly hour of 6:30am again tomorrow. My brain is telling me that something is wrong here. Why am I waking up an hour and a half earlier on board than when back in San Juan to go to work? Perhaps some soothing teas will bring me an answer before I drift off to sleep... Wednesday, July 11th - Curacao 8:10am 12.06N 68.56W - Docked at Willemstad on the port side (again). The view from my starboard balcony was ocean. Today is an important day. When booking this voyage, one of my goals was to search for the Mystical Ostriches of the Caribbean, that lore has are to be found on this island of Curacao. I am hoping against hope that if we find them, we are able to take one down and cook it on an open pit fire. I have heard that ostrich meat is delicious but have never had a chance to savor it. Me and my fellow safari participants have been summoned to meet pier-side no later than 8:30am. I have decided to give room service a try this morning rather than going to the Windjammer for breakfast. This service is very efficient on board and I have been using them at least twice daily for hot water for my afternoon and then late night teas (plus twice for a late night sandwich). However, quickness and a genuine warmth on part of the service personnel, has failed to mask some shortcomings. Out of the 6 times I have asked for tea service so far, once they failed to bring the cup and saucer, and twice the spoon. That's, unfortunately, a 50% failure rate. Breakfast was so-so and henceforth, I will go back to the Windjammer for variety's sake or eschew daytime ship food altogether and go ashore for an early lunch instead. 4:48pm: casting off lines I returned about an hour and a half ago from land after having spent most of the day there. The expedition to find the Mystical Ostriches was almost a complete success. We boarded a large carriage and soon left the town of Willemstad behind. Our local hunter guide first gave us some background history of the Island, as well as some current political news. For example, just like Puerto Rico, Curacao is neither independent nor a full part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands but in a limbo in between (which is the so called Netherlands Antilles). An election is coming up where the population will have to decide between these two choices. The Netherlands Antilles (comprising all 5 former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean) is on the verge of breaking up as its two largest members, Curacao and Aruba, seem to be taking the route of independence. We first made camp at the Aloe Vera Farm. This is a farm owned by the Curacao Ecocity projects N.V. The Aloe Vera plant has been in use for thousands of years throughout human history and is particularly adept to being farmed in a hot, arid climate which seems to be in abundance in Curacao. The plant takes between 4 to 5 years to become commercially harvestable and only needs 10 liters (a little less than 3 U.S. gallons) of water per week. Once old enough for harvest, only the 3 lowest leaves are cut off at a time and taken to processing. Inside the plant, a crew first trims back the fat end of the leaf, then another cuts off the two sides. Machinery is then used to remove the flat top and bottom. The remaining gelatinous pulp is then processed into a variety of different products for the local population and all cutaways used in composting. Once the trading of goods was finished... we were finally off to seek the Ostriches which we found but 5 minutes away from the Aloe Vera Farm at 12.07.6 North and 68.49.8 West. Upon arrival I immediately spot a BBQ pit with plenty of wood to light a fire and my gastric juices began flowing in anticipation of a sumptuous meal. But this was not to be to my great loss... Nevertheless, this farm was also part of the same Ecocity project. These are truly magnificent animals and they raised both the Australian as well as the African kind. We were able to see everything from 1 week old hatchlings to fully mature 5 year old animals. Males develop black plumage and are thus easy to differentiate from the grey coated females. Only productive females (40 to 60 eggs per mating season) are kept in the pens with select males while all others are placed in a free range area to grow larger for future gastronomic purposes. A male ostrich can grow to 400lbs, reach a height of 9 feet, and all ostriches can reach speeds of 50mph for stretches of half an hour at a time. Yet for all that power, they are as dumb as a doorknob (or politician - take your pick); case in point, their pens are lined by only 3 thin wires but their pea sized brain (literally) cannot comprehend that the 2 feet of space between the wires could be used to escape. I say, they almost deserve to be served more often on dinner plates around the world... I left disappointed that I was not able to taste this - supposedly - tasty and healthy (0% cholesterol) meat. If my travels should take me back to Curacao, I will make it a point to eat at the restaurant. Once back at the ship at around noon I immediately hired a carriage for transportation ($12) to Punda , the older part of the town of Willemstad. I asked to be dropped of near the Central Market where I found a restaurant named Deruyter Cafe which has both an indoor and outdoor section. I sat outside and ordered a Fish Soup (pepre watra) and a Roti. The fish soup was a wonderfully simple one based on mirocroix and bits and pieces of fresh fish; sometimes, simple dishes are so much better than the fancy ones. The Roti seemed to be an Indian inspired dish (without my knowledge, just a happy coincidence or just more proof of the Indian influence in the southern Caribbean) and was sort of a chicken curry served with boiled potatoes, green string peas, and a large pancake-like tortilla. It was delicious and at $13 total, a terrific value when including tax, service, and 2 bottles of water. I continued my exploration of Willemsted by walking to the Floating Market and then meandered about inside the maze of small streets that make up Punda. It was on Keukenstraat where I found a tiny gem. It was the Curacao Postal Museum ($2). The museum only has 2 rooms of exhibitions but what beautiful and interesting things they had. One wall was dedicated to Curacao's first stamps, another section showed a series of stamps against child abuse, and another dedicated to the Queen. The most interesting one was a whole wall dedicated to how a stamp is created, from working drawings to the final product and first issue. In this case, it was a commemorative stamp of the 200 year anniversary of the Kingdom of Holland recognizing the just recently independent United States in 1782. I found that interesting since the Dutch had lost New York. My walk back to the ship took me by Fort Amsterdam which I was unable to visit due to time constraints. However, after crossing the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, my path to this vessel did take me through Riffort. Riffort seemed to be the other fortress that guarded the harbor and has now been converted into what looked to be a thriving commercial area with quite a large number of eating establishments and specialty shops. What a practical way to re-use decrepit historical forts. But then again, the Dutch are some of the most practical people in the world. It wasn't quite swords into ploughs but... With my visit to Willemstad concluded, I drink tea and pen this long entry, while eagerly awaiting dinner tonight. 6:22pm: 12.02.7N 68.42.41W - Course 042 13.3kts I have stepped outside on my balcony and with my binoculars have been able to identify the island of Little Curacao including its lighthouse which is flanked by two smaller structures. The island appears very flat with one long, apparently uninterrupted, white sand beach around it and basically uninhabited. With our present course, we should be passing it by to our starboard side. I've also seen 3 small sailboats operating on their metal sail as well as 2 ships plying the oil trade. These are busy waters indeed, but then, there's safety in numbers considering the dangers out there. The wind has been heavy all day long and I can still see whitecaps around and ahead of us. Yet, the seas themselves do not appear to have larger waves. Perhaps, this crossing to St. Maarten will be uneventful as well. 10:10pm 12.40N 68.09W - Course 042 12.4 Kts The wind is still strong. In fact, our speed has dropped almost a full knot since 4 hours ago. With my binoculars I peered into the dark distance and was able to see the wind induced phosphorescent whitecaps of waves all around us. The sea is choppier than during our reach from Puerto Rico to Aruba. I also scanned the skies and was able to see many stars. Living in a city with its bright lights, I forgot how truly beautiful they really are. As usual, dinner at Portofino was terrific. First, an Insalata Caprese, then the Spaghetti di Mare, and finally the Petto di Pollo Marinato con Erbe di Campo salsa Scapriccio. Yesterday and today, there were a lot more passengers in attendance than before. Providence has saved me!!! Call it a sixth sense or something but by chance I ate more of the roasted garlic oil than usual at dinner. This has proven to be a Godsend for upon arriving in my cabin, a huge bat has taken up a perch over my bed. Surely, it is waiting for the right moment to strike and drain me of my precious blood. I am exhausted from my lack of sleep these past three days. Tomorrow, I have no intention of waking up at any hour that starts with a single digit. Sleep will come easy tonight since we finally have a bit of movement on the ship. The curtains are swaying a bit and the hangers are rocking in the closet; I now feel that I am finally on a boat. Thursday July 12th - At sea 11:33am 14.46N 66.16W - Course 041 at 12.9 kts The seas are unfortunately very calm again. Gone is that wonderful slight swaying feeling of last night. I must be cursed by Neptune himself. The one day I wanted to sleep into the late hours of the morning I wake up at 7:30am. I dragged myself to the Windjammer for a light breakfast and took some pastries back to the cabin. I will spend the day reading my book and sleeping when the urge hits me. At some point I will have to leave the cabin so that Knight can make it up but I have no clue as to when that will be. 7:08pm 16.05N 65.04W Course 041 at 13.6 kts The record will show that I did absolutely nothing in the least bit productive today. Well, essentially nothing in any case. I ate a light lunch at the Windjammer at around 2pm, then visited the shipping lines' representative and booked a similar voyage for September of next year on this very vessel, purchased some wares at the quartermaster's store and had tea with some pastries at 4pm. In between my last entry and now, I filled my time reading and napping when the moment so demanded it. Nice... Room service has also delivered a plate with 2 pieces of chocolate covered strawberries and 2 chocolate cookies. I do not know if that is because I have become a "frequent customer" or if this is simply delivered to every passenger on board. It is a gesture that is appreciated and I shall enjoy them tonight after dinner. 10pm 16.31N 64.39W Course 041 at 13.8 kts I chose to eat light tonight. Well, as light as one can in Italian cooking. For starters I had the Calamari fritti alla ligure which I enjoyed due to them being coated in a light batter. The Penne alla Caminetto was perfectly al dente and well matched with the Bolognese inspired sauce made out of plum tomatoes. Finally, I had the Spiedino di frutti di Mare alla Toscana which was a grilled seafood skewer. The scallops were perfectly cooked, an indication that the grill master knows his trade. I again took some mixed berries with me to the cabin from Portofino. As I was leaving, the staff also gave me a plate with 2 chocolate covered strawberries and 2 chocolate cookies. I now have the difficult task ahead of me to eat all this accumulated chocolate and the berry desert. Should my internist read this report, he will surely fire me as a client. I shall bury this voyage's account once back in San Juan to avoid his wrath. As each day goes by, the animal population aboard the ship continuous to explode and I begin to feel more being on an African Safari than a Caribbean exploration. Tonight, a monkey has joined his fellow group of stowaways in my cabin. I am keeping my door closed shut. Other cabins seem to have been invaded as well and I would hate to think what could happen if my animals start mating with their counterparts on this deck. Panic among the passengers surely would ensue... I want to finish tonight's entry by elaborating why I am disappointed with the other food choices on board. One should never blindly criticize without reason. As I look back on the less than stellar eating experiences, other than Portofino, I now realize why my comments were so negative and truth be told, it is for one reason only: taste. The other galleys put out food that has nice presentation and are certainly properly cooked. However, that food is bland. It has no taste of any kind and is reminiscent of baby food. At times, those dishes hinted at what they should taste like but always failed to achieve their goal. It is as if the galley staff has been forbidden to use the proper amounts of salt, pepper, and - most importantly - spices to create their dishes. Case in point, today at lunch I had a curried vegetable mix. The "curry" sauce barely hinted of the strong, spicy, and pungent smell a true curry dish should have. I cannot find fault if I don't like a properly professionally prepared dish because of my own culinary taste failings. However, I can accuse of incompetence a professional chef that purposely kills the spirit of a particular dish. However, I suspect this isn't the chef's decision but one handed to him by some landlubber, culinary challenged, corporate lackey. Tomorrow we should make landfall at St. Maarten. I have plans to travel to the French capital of St. Martin, called Marigot, with one purpose in mind: to eat a good bouillabaisse, which I think is one of the precious few things the world should be grateful for of the French. Any trading of goods will be secondary in nature, although I expect to do some of that as well. Friends back home have asked me for some items. As we approach the Sombrero Passage, the confluence of Atlantic and Caribbean waters naturally stir the ocean up a bit. Thankfully, I feel the ship moving a bit again. Friday July 13th - St. Maarten 18.00N 63.02W - docked along starboard(!) side of the vessel. The view from my balcony cabin was the dock and then all the glorious view of the bay in front of Philipsburg. 9:36am I have now given up on the thought of getting sleep on this voyage as I have awoken again at 7:30am. At least the day time naps are coming easier than normal. Little surprise considering how tired I feel. We are docked at the A.C. Wathey pier in Philipsburg which seems to be able to have sufficient space for 3 additional ships of our size; today we are the only ship in town. This pier lies to the east of the capital city but you can get transported either by carriage or smaller water vessels to that area. In the harbor I can see several small sailing crafts anchored including two of the speedy greyhounds of the seas the 12 metre class Stars & Stripes and Canada II. This will be our last stop of this mostly Dutch itinerary of this ship as tomorrow we stop off at the former Danish colony of St. Thomas before returning to our home port. I have prepared myself for my journey to the other side of the island and my quest for that bouillabaisse. I hope I will be successful. 3:51pm I have been back for about an hour. My expedition to Marigot met only with partial culinary success. I departed via carriage from the pier ($15+2) and was dropped off by the Marina Port La Royale. I began walking around the area noticing quite a number of refined shops stocked with the latest of continental merchandise unlike what one would find on the Dutch side which has essentially decayed into a bazaar of jewelry, alcohol, and cheap trinkets. The French side still is retaining its French heritage but all shop owners had passable knowledge of English, as did the street bum who offered to procure a special herb, called "ganja" by the local populace, for me. I politely refused, not knowing in what meal that could possibly be used in... I passed by the Marigot cemetery (all graves above ground), continuing to the formal waterfront where there was a large open air market full of fruit stands and Caribbean folk art. There were several restaurants in that area (one of which, La Vie en Rose, I had been to some 20+ years ago) but I found the area too congested for my taste. Instead, I traveled through some side streets again until I chanced on the Hermes store where I promptly, and unwittingly, exchanged a quarter's worth of a monthly salary on two lady handkerchiefs and a tie for myself. In typical male fashion, I purchased without looking at the prices, so I am now the 'proud' owner of a $138 tie... For lunch, I went back to the marina and ate at a cafe called La Main a la Pate. As I was waiting after placing my order, I noticed people decorating the port area. It turned out that tomorrow is Bastille Day (the French cheap copy of the 4th of July); had we been in port a day later, all shops on the French side would have been closed (and my pocket book less light). While they didn't have a bouillabaisse, I did order a Marmite du Pecheur which was something akin to a seafood bisque with potatoes included in case the heaviness of a bisque wasn't enough of a burden for my ever expanding waist line. This soup had dolphin (mahi mahi), lobster, shrimp, and scallops. It tasted delectable. The price for the soup, a 1 liter bottle of Italian water, and tip was $44. I returned to the port, mailed postcards, and bought a bottle of liquor for a friend in Puerto Rico (JW Blue for $110 which included a beautiful blue leather carrying case). While I knew that the bottle would be confiscated, I mean held, by the ship's staff, I found the way they handled this was extremely rude. They loudly screamed "liquor!!!!" several times as if someone had just brought aboard a musket or a long sword. Very tacky; very tacky and unbecoming. This will be the 2nd negative point I will be contacting the line for under separate cover - there must be a better way to handle this. Perhaps a staffed table where passengers could go to before stepping onboard... In any case, I retreated back to my cabin to lick my financial wounds. I am at $717 in purchases out of the $800 one may bring into the U.S. from non-territorial islands (you get an additional $400 allowance for St. Thomas). My foolish purchases at Hermes will invite completely justified laughter by the customs officials. I look forward to lightening up their day... 6pm: 18.00N 63.07W Course 276 at 8.9kts We departed St. Maarten about 20 minutes late. As the stragglers arrived by the ship, they were all welcomed by the sarcastic applause of their fellow passengers perched on their respective balconies. In a way I don't blame the latecomers. St. Maarten/St. Martin is by far the nicest island to visit in the Caribbean and this is coming from someone who lives in one of the nicer ones. I could easily see myself living here. For me, leaving St. Maarten begins the closure of this voyage. Intellectually, I know we still have a day left, but St Thomas feels too close to home for me to still feel being completely away from it. After dinner tonight, I will begin preliminary packing of my bags. Many things and clothes can be packed away already without diminishing the enjoyment of the rest of the voyage but will greatly ease the packing frenzy tomorrow night. It also means shifting some things that were in my carry on luggage into my sea trunk as their space will be taken up by my purchases to date. For example, I now own a tie that is more valuable than most personal items I brought with me on board... 10:30pm 18.05N 63.48W Course 277 8.7kts Dinner was "light" again with a nice Insalata alla Cesare and Spaghetti di Mare (specially prepared for me with a lot of peperoncino). Of course, the fact that I took two deserts with me to the cabin negates any possible idea of not sending my sugar levels into the heavens before going to sleep... Tomorrow we must report early to the authorities. Since I've failed to sleep in on any of the days so far, this should prove like any other day for me. Of course, Mr. Murphy is likely to rear his ugly head... I am slowly being driven out by the animals finding shelter in my cabin. A boa constrictor has joined its merry fellows and I am but an afterthought at this point. The animals have taken over the ceiling and the length of the sofa. If you can't beat them, join them. I now too have begun marking my territory. I realize that this is a messy process but the balcony, bathroom, and bed are still mine. I now know how Noah must have felt on his Ark... Saturday July 14th: 18.19.99N 64.55.33W Docked along the starboard side in Havensight Mall, Charlotte Amalie. The view from my starboard balcony is that of Havensight Mall structures, two large oil tanks and a lushly green mountain with scattered middle/high class houses on it. 8:22am The whole ship woke up early for immigration procedures, whose lines moved very quickly. With the exception of staff, everyone was sleep walking through the formality. Because everyone woke up at the same time, the Windjammer area was very full for breakfast and people did seem to have trouble finding seating. On my way back to the cabin, I intercepted Knight who had my liquor purchase of yesterday. Amazingly, all was intact. Still, this system needs some vast improvement. As noted at the beginning of today's entry, we are docked at Havensight Mall. Shipping companies and the local Virgin Island Tourist Authority ought to be ashamed of themselves of this site. For one thing, one is virtually at the mercy of hired carriage to enter town. The adventurous traveler might decide to walk but the heat and sun, even in these early morning hours, would make that trek a very uncomfortable one - even in winter. Last night's pre-packing went extremely well. All that is left to pack tonight are the suits, the dirty clothes, toiletries, and some personal items. I have surprisingly little dirty laundry. However, I consciously used each shirt twice; first for a dinner or daytime on board and then again during island expeditions the following day when I knew they would truly get sweaty. This system worked exceedingly well and I highly recommend it to any reading this. I have also literally gone to every drawer and closet and wrote down where I still have items; as these get packed tonight I cross that location and thus will be certain not to leave anything behind tomorrow. As we are on our last port, I can now pass judgment which side of the vessel is "better". If I were to book a balcony or ocean view stateroom on this voyage again, and all things being equal, I would probably book on port. The views of Oranjestad, Willemstad, and Charlotte Amalie outweigh the view of Phillipsburg. However, since my balcony was an upgrade, my view was terrific!!! (Transcribers note: At this point of the document, the following was scribbled on the edge of the vellum in a different color of ink and in a different handwriting: "Here is an additional tip for future travelers. When returning from port, after passing the ship boarding formalities and security, do not wait like a lemming for the elevators close by. Walk through the crowd, take the stairs one flight up, and then take the elevators on the opposite side of where you just got on board. They are always empty.") 3pm: I had gone ashore at noon for about an hour to finish some gift purchases. As luck would have it, one of our clients is located right in front of the port area On next year's expedition, I shall pay them a call and thus write off the voyage as a business expense... Since then, I have deadened my taste buds by eating a lunch at the Windjammer since the area by the dock is but a large market with no noteworthy restaurant establishments nearby that I could see. Perhaps it is better so, for tonight's last meal at Portofino will taste all the better. The packing is almost done with just the last items yet to be put away late this evening. I came aboard with two pieces of luggage and leave with four. Yes, I was seduced by the shopping siren. However, in my own defense, this is my first mayor trip in close to 6 years so most purchases are souvenirs for coworkers which are quite overdue. They should not expect such generosity after my September expedition to the Western Caribbean, now just about a bit over 60 days away. 5:50pm 18.17N 64.57W Course 249 6.1kts We raised anchor to embark on our last leg of this expeditionary voyage. There's a certain sense of relief that we have survived so far without storms or attacks. But I do hope that the Master and Crew continue their vigilance. The strangest of situations often occur when close to home in familiar waters. I have been given departure time #1. Knight tells me that is good as I can depart at any time we are cleared to do so by the authorities. Those with later group numbers must wait until their group is called. I fail to understand the logic as I live in San Juan and do not have pressing time needs to catch other transportation means. I suppose that in the nautical trade, just like in the army, logic is often not a firm requirement in the organization... Since I have finished my book about an hour ago and, not being able to go to dinner until 8:30pm, I find myself bored for the first time on this voyage. I shall go to my balcony and watch the water rush by... 9:3pm 18.26.65N, 65.16.34W - Course 281 at 6.5 kts We are just north of the isle of Culebra, one of the two island municipalities of Puerto Rico. Rama, Portofino's manager, came to my rescue. I inquired about eating earlier than my usual 8:30pm and he accommodated me. For this final evening, I chose the dishes that I enjoyed the most this week: Insalata de Petto de Anatra Affumicata, the Pappardelle, and the Saltimboco. Ironically, I now see that is the same menu I chose a week ago after boarding. Excellent bookends I suppose. I said good-bye to Jeanette and her partner Szilamer. Szilamer was leaving the ship tomorrow to journey back to his home and it turned out that Jeanette would do the same in two weeks. However, she would be back on the Adventure of the Seas on September 23rd. As I was leaving, I rudely interrupted Rama's conversation with another of the ship's officers, and bid him good bye. I mentioned to him how much I enjoyed eating at Portofino every night this week and how it was something I looked forward to each day. He thanked me profusely and then the other officer said something similar. It is at this point that I noticed that she was the ship's Food and Beverage Manager. I don't think we could have planned this better... So dear reader, with the final notes of the 3rd Act of Richard Wagner's Goetterdaemmerung, conducted by the legendary Wilhelm Furtwaengler, fading in my ear, I choose to also bring to a close this account of this voyage started on July 8th out of the port of San Juan Bautista due to return to it tomorrow early morning, the 15th of July. It was a voyage thoroughly enjoyed with only some negative facets to it and highly recommendable to all. And with this, I bid you farewell and may all your journeys be as enjoyable and safe as this one was to me. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Well first off, let me just say this was a great vacation and we really enjoyed going out of P.R. Day 1: Left ATL at 9:00 and got into SJU around 1:00ish. We walked to the baggage claim, got our bags, and gave our bus vouchers to the ... Read More
Well first off, let me just say this was a great vacation and we really enjoyed going out of P.R. Day 1: Left ATL at 9:00 and got into SJU around 1:00ish. We walked to the baggage claim, got our bags, and gave our bus vouchers to the RCCL Rep at the claim. From there they take your bags and you don't see them until you are on the ship. Embarkation line for non-C&A was very long, Good thing we are C&A and got in a line and waited no longer than 10 minutes. Probably around 15 minutes from arriving at the pier we were on the ship. Show in lyric: Some Comedian and a Russian Dance Guy. (Both Sucked IMHO) Day 2: Sea Day: Got up at about 10:00, headed up to the windjammer/island grill and had a good breakfast. Rest of the day, We were up on deck. Played Mini-gold,pingpong and some pickup basketball at the sports deck. Show in lyric: El Gaucho (AMAZING! His act was very good) Day 3: Aruba: We went to Eagle Beach for the day and just relaxed again. We did some jet skis in the calm water and had a fun day. Got buried in Sand and got a bad sunburn. WEAR SUNSCREEN!!!!! Show in lyric: Guy of 1000 Voices (Very Very Funny. We loved his impression of Elton John. Day 4: Caracao: We went to another beach. Was also really relaxing. Did Jet Ski again and got yelled at by some crazy Dutch people for going too far out. Day was fun until some crazy American Woman/VERY DRUNK Lady came up to us and said that we were on her beach. She said she lived in Caracao and was from Utah once, and Wyoming another time. Thank God she had to go home to watch Dr.Phil. Show in Studio B: Ice Production (Cool Art,Hot Ice) Day 5: Sea Day: Went to a Piano lesson to start out the day (best friend and I). We ended up running out about a quarter of the way in while his back was turned. FACE RHYMES WITH SPACE!!!!! ? Long Story Show: Some guy who sang. (heard he was good, we didn't go) Day 6: St.Maarten: Did Golden Eagle tour in the morning. Was very fun....until the Tiko Tiko catamaran showed up at the beach we were at. They were a bunch of VERY OLD FRENCH PEOPLE......Nude. Show: Another Comedian: He was very good, and much better than the 1st nights Day 7: St. Thomas: Did lots of Shopping. By far the best place to shop. Can't talk about the beaches/water, as I did not experience it. Show: RCCL Singers and Dancers. As for the Food: Windjammer/Island Grill: We had to fill out own coffee, and get our own juice. Something we have not had to do on our last few cruises. The food was as usual and the omelet bar was awesome. Cafe Promenade: Had Great Pizza! I know people always say how good Carnival's Pizza is, this was just as good if not better. Johnny Rockets: We enjoyed JR's alot! The burgers were very very good and we ate their 3 times. One time was just for Milkshakes. Dining Room: Food was great. I enjoyed the Lamb the most out of everything. Waiters: Milton(India), and Fanny (Peru). Both were very good. We had table 451 in the Strauss Dining room with a family from The Dominican Republic. English was spoken at our table with NO PROBLEM AT ALL. Head Waiter was Singh, he was the best head waiter we have had. Room Steward: Sean, he was very good. Rooms where always clean. And Sean was also personal and got to know you. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
I want to start by saying that if you cannot stand to hear anything that even slightly criticizes RCI or cruising then stop here and read no further. This is not a bad review, but it is an honest one. I had a wonderful vacation cruising on ... Read More
I want to start by saying that if you cannot stand to hear anything that even slightly criticizes RCI or cruising then stop here and read no further. This is not a bad review, but it is an honest one. I had a wonderful vacation cruising on the AOS that leaves from San Juan and either travels to Aruba or Barbados. We traveled the Barbados route that includes St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. A little bit about my cruising background; I have cruised with Carnival twice and DCL once. I enjoyed cruising with both lines and occasionally I will compare RCI with the previous cruises. I hope this review will be helpful especially for those planning to cruise for the first time. Embarkation: This was truly the worst part of the trip. We arrived at a very busy time which was around 2:30 PM. We had to wait around 20 minutes outside in the hot sun to check our luggage then get in another line (for another 20 minutes) to actually check in. I would suggest getting there either before 1 PM or after 4 PM. Both Carnival and RCI port buildings are very ugly and give no indication of how nice the ship is that you are getting ready to board. Disney though, has a very beautiful building in Port Canaveral that makes you feel like you are getting ready to board something very special. The ship: Yeah we finally boarded and went straight to our rooms. I was traveling with my sister and two sons. My oldest DS (16) was sharing an interior room with my DS. I myself with my DS (14) was sharing a balcony room. I was so excited when I opened my stateroom door then; Oh no, it really stinks! Literally, the room smelled really bad. I can't even really describe the odor, only that it wasn't a sewage smell, but more like an old sock smell. I hated to make a compliant within the first couple of minutes on the cruise, but the smell was overwhelming. Fortunately, the stateroom attendant was close by and I told him about the smell. He was so nice about it and said that he would deodorize it. He did and the smell was much better, but it really never went away the entire trip. My DS room did not smell at all. I was in room 7518. For first time cruisers, believe it when you are told the staterooms are really small. We could not open the bathroom and closet doors and still be able to walk out of the room. The bathroom is so small that if it wasn't for the plastic door on the shower you could sit on the commode and take a shower at the same time. Carnival's rooms are actually just a little bit roomier and DCL seem much roomier (although they are all small). The beds were actually very comfy and the new bedding is nice. Other than the beds though there is really nothing special about the rooms at all. If you would check in a land based hotel with rooms like the ones on cruise lines, you would promptly check out. We all know though it is not for the rooms that we like to cruise. It is for the cruise ship, the ocean and the beautiful Islands in the Caribbean. The public areas are very nice on AOS. I liked the Royal Promenade, but I really don't think that it would make or break a choice of choosing a cruise line. Other cruise lines have the shops just not with 3 floors of cabins overhead. Only one of my DS used the rock-climbing wall and then only once. So, when planning a next cruise, the itinerary will probably be the most important issue. The adult pool area (the Solarium) was very quiet and peaceful. In previous posts people have complained about children using this area. I however, never saw any children using the pool. There was only one sea day so maybe this just isn't an issue with this ship. My DS really enjoyed the arcade. One night they had a "you play we pay" activity. Both sons took advantage of this and thought it was a really cool thing for RCI to do. The basketball area though is where they spent most of their time while on the ship. They would play with other kids at least a couple of hours every day. Neither one of my children (with the exception of the arcade) participated in any of the organized activities. I was disturbed though when they told me one night that a couple of the kids were really drunk one night. They were 16 and 17 year old boys. Some girls were laughing at them and their antics, saying their breath stank like rum. The pool area became very crowded and loud on the sea day, but my sis and I used the adult pool which still had some available chairs and was much quieter. There were chair hogs everywhere and if you wanted to sit by the main pool then you would have had to save a chair very early. As far as beauty, I think DCL wins hands down for the beauty of the decks and public areas. I just love all the teakwood and brass on the Disney ships. Next I think RCI wins over Carnival for aesthetics. I really liked the fact though that on AOS you could walk entirely around the ship on deck 4. My sister and I walked every night after dinner and loved to go to the bow of the ship and just look out over the ocean and up into the sky at the beautiful stars. We found that it was easier to walk on this deck then to try and walk around the jogging track. The joggers will knock you down if you get in the way! Tips on navigating the ship: The elevators are forward and aft. Decks 4, 5 and 11 are good for walking from the forward to the aft side. On deck four you can walk through the Casino, on deck 5 through the promenade and on deck 11 the pool areas. All dining is on the Aft, this includes the Windjammer and Portofinos on deck 11 and the formal dining rooms on deck 3, 4 and 5. The main lounges are forward to include the Lyric Theater (decks 3 and 4) where all the main shows are held and the Imperial lounge (deck 5). Studio B the Ice skating rink is located on deck 3 aft close to the photo gallery. Most disembarkation took place on deck 1 aft when visiting the Islands. Once we disembarked on deck 1 forward. It was a little confusing on where you were suppose to go to get off the ship, but I either followed where all the people seemed to be going or I think starting on deck 4 there were signs telling you where to go. Food: I thought the dinner food was the best part of the cruising experience. RCI beat out DCL and Carnival with their dinner food. Every dinner was just wonderful and I have probably gained about 5 lbs. The dinning staff was spectacular and went out of their way to make us feel special. For chocolate lovers, no there were not a lot of chocolate desserts but they were all still good. The first night I highly recommend the white chocolate fondue with berries. I really didn't think I would like it but it was really good! My sister and I ate at Portofinos on Thursday the second formal night. All I can say is that if you don't find something you like there then there's just no hope for you. LOL. They start out by bring you a bread basket filled with a variety of breads. Next they bring you all kinds of things to spread over your bread to include oils, and soft garlic cloves. I could have eaten only the bread and had a nice dinner. After the bread you have a choice of starters and pastas. I got the bean soup and the mushroom pastas. I have never seen soup presented like this bean soup. First they just gave me a bowel with beans and cheese on top with no broth. There was no explanation and so I thought well this is weird where is the juice? I was almost ready to take a bite and out pops the waitress and pours the broth over my beans. I was so glad I hadn't taken a bite which would have been embarrassing. The mushroom pasta was the best I have ever had and I wish I would have just made it my meal. I ordered the filet mignon though and it was very thick and good. For dessert my DS and I shared the dessert sampler. I would recommend this to everyone. There was chocolate, custard, candy and chocolate covered strawberries. My DS and I had to just lie on the floor and roll out the door by the time we were done. I only thing I didn't like about the overall food was the breakfasts. I have to say that the breakfast food was just horrible. If the Windjammer was a regular land restaurant serving a breakfast buffet I would have never gone back. The crust on the French toast was hard as well as the waffles. I later tried the French toast again later in the week and it was no longer hard but it still wasn't good. The eggs didn't taste good and my DS would not eat them. I finally just ended up eating a donut and cereal every day. The Velda milk that they use though had a peculiar taste to it. I was however the only one in my family that noticed. The breakfast in the dinning room was a little better, but not much. I am not a picky eater and love breakfasts at places like Bob Evans and IHOP. I just thought that RCI could have done a little better with their breakfasts. I thought Disney did a much better job with their breakfast food and I don't remember Carnival's breakfast but it must have been better because I don't remember thinking it was particularly bad. Lunch was a little better than breakfast, but at the end of the week I was getting tired of the same ole food. The last day we ate on the promenade getting pizza and ice cream. Really though no one should starve while on this ship. Service: I have no complaints about the service. My state room attendant was fabulous and made little towel animals ever night. The guest relations staff was always courteous and helpful. My sister got really upset with her credit card company when her card kept getting declined. She was not in a good mood when she sought out guest relations to help her with this problem. They let her use their phone to call the company and told her to just calm down as they were sure this could be resolved. They treated her very respectfully and were never rude. Come to find out the credit card company she uses will not let the card be used outside the US unless she calls them every time she is making a purchase. So, you may want to check your credit card policy before you travel. The dining staff was very attentive and kind. If I were them I may have gotten a little upset as our dinner companions as they were always 30 to 45 minutes late for dinner. My family and I didn't mind as we went ahead and started on time. Our wait staff did a tremendous job catching our dinner companions up with us and we always seemed to leave together. I really enjoyed our UK dinner companions as they were wonderful conversationalists. The Portofinos wait staff just cannot be beat. They anticipated your every need and made you feel at home. Since My sis and I do not eat in gourmet restaurants a lot we thought we may feel somewhat out of place, but we didn't feel that way at all. I would highly recommend eating there if at all possible. Entertainment: My sister and I went to the shows every evening. I was surprised to find that only the Ice show and one other show were actual productions with dancing and singing. The other shows were just comedians, impressionists and acrobatic type acts. I assume the entertainment changes from week to week and ship to ship. The only show that stays the same is the Ice and production show. I thought the entertainment was OK, but sorry, Carnival beat out RCI and DCL beat both of them. Shore Excursions: At Barbados we did the 4x4 Safari and shipwreck snorkeling. It was a pretty good way to see the Island, but it wasn't our favorite excursion. If you like the beach then I would just get a taxi and go and sit on the beach. You can rent the snorkeling equipment if that is something you want to do. Be warned though, the beaches do not say that they allow topless bathing, but when a very huge woman took off her top no one said a thing. I just don't know why people think that is OK just to start taking off their clothes in public. There are people like me (being with 2 teenage sons) that just don't appreciate it. In fact for the most part it is just disgusting. This woman looked like a beached whale and why she thought it was appropriate to subject people to her naked huge upper half is beyond me. If the beach says it is for topless bathing then go ahead enjoy and I will avoid it, but if it doesn't then please don't ruin it for all the unsuspecting clothed people. My family and I just decided to leave when it looked like no one was going to stop her. The beach we went to was called Malibu beach and the chairs were $20.00 to rent. There was also a $3.00 fee to get onto the beach and the lockers were a $5.00 deposit that you got back when you turned in the key. I think the taxi ride to the beach was $12.00/car. St. Lucia's Cosol tour was our favorite of the whole trip. Cosol has a private tour that you can book through www.cosoltours.com St. Lucia is a beautiful lush mountainous Island. Cosol takes you on a tour of the island in a nice air-conditioned bus. He makes many stops along the way and lets you try the local fruits, food and bread. You visit a waterfall, volcano and beach. The last stop is a bakery where he gives each person a half of loaf of bread and a piece of cheese that you place inside the hot bread. The hot bread is to die for!! Cosol is very entertaining and even my teenage boys thought he was cool. Both DS thought the tour was great. A word of caution though is that the bus ride is very long and the roads very curvy and steep. If you get carsick you may want to pre-medicate. This is also a good tour to take if it rains. It rained off and on the whole day for us and we still had a great time. Antigua was just OK. Our kayak and snorkeling tour was canceled due to bad weather. This was a little irritating since the weather actually never got that bad and actually it was just a little overcast and would have been perfect for kayaking. We did the stingray snorkel and while it was interesting it just wasn't that great. After the food ran out for the stingrays they all just disappeared and then there was really nothing else to look at. The area where you got onto the boat to go to the stingray area had a small park. There were some monkeys, and exotic birds. It was so funny when my DS and I went to the restroom and in the middle stall there was a parrot looking in the window saying hello over and over again. My DS went shopping after the tour and my DS and I went to Fort James beach. The umbrellas and chairs were just 5 dollars each to rent. They had jet skies that were $45.00/half hour. The taxi ride from the ship was around $3.00/person. St. Maarten was a lot of fun but everyone hated the tour. It was called Wonders of nature tour and it was really boring. If you really want to hear about the history of St. Maarten then this is the tour for you because the tour guide was very informative. We stopped at a little zoo which was the highlight of the whole trip. There were exotic birds, monkeys, lizards, iguanas, ostriches, turtles, bats, snakes and other animals. I would recommend that you just take the short taxi ride there and pay the $2-3.00 that it cost to get in and skip the tour. After the tour we went to the beach close to the ship. We paid $5.00/person for water taxi ride and that fee was good for the whole day. There was lots of shopping close to the beach so that there was plenty to do when you tired of swimming. The waves were pretty strong on this beach (I actually got knocked down). There were lots of pretty shells that washed up on the shore so it was perfect for shell finding. St. Thomas/St. John had the best snorkeling of the entire trip. We did the St. John snorkeling tour offered by the ship. We had a great time, but in hind sight we should have just taken the ferry over to St. John's then took a taxi to Trunk Bay beach. There was snorkeling equipment that you could rent there. The beach was gorgeous and the snorkeling awesome. The only complaint is that we only stayed a couple of hours. That is why I would recommend doing this on your own. This was also a very large tour so there was a lot of standing in line getting on and off the boat and it was hard to try and find seats on the buses that took you to the beach. The shopping in St. Thomas was good and I would recommend that you wait to purchase souvenir items here. This is because we saw a lot of the same items on other islands, but it was cheaper on St Thomas. For example I purchased a photo album on St. Lucia for $22.00, but on St. Thomas the same book was $17.00. Disembarking: It wasn't that bad. If you left the ship with the first group you probably stood in line for about 20 minutes in all. The worst part of the whole thing was trying to find our luggage. I would suggest that you put something on your luggage that makes it easily identifiable. There are lots of taxis waiting outside to take you back to the airport. Just a word on the San Juan airport: Yuck! There was a huge security line and I think they were trying to implement a new piece of scanning equipment. We stood in line for about 30 minutes hardly moving at all when they finally decided to open up some more lines. The one line they had open had a scanning machine that you walked inside of and then stood for about 5 minutes while it scanned. The other two lines that they opened up did not have this type if scanning machine. If you see this machine, I would suggest avoid it if you have a choice and go to another line. Overall this was a wonderful cruise and a great vacation. I would go again on RCI in a heart beat. I would though go again on Carnival and DCL. The most important part of the cruising vacation for me is the itinerary. I am thinking about going to Hawaii and will probably do a cruise. I am leaning towards NCL since it starts and stops in Honolulu and there are no sea days. I would definitely recommend RCI and the AOS for everyone. I hope this review was helpful. I know that it was long, but I really wanted to make sure that I went over things that I would have liked to know before my cruise. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. 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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