Sail Date: July 2007
We are a family of 5 plus daughter's fiancE. Wife 46, me 46, engaged daughter 19, fiancE 20, son 16 and daughter 11. My wife and I had been on one prior cruise, the Monarch of the Seas out of Los Angeles for a 3 day Mexico weekend ... Read More
We are a family of 5 plus daughter's fiancE. Wife 46, me 46, engaged daughter 19, fiancE 20, son 16 and daughter 11. My wife and I had been on one prior cruise, the Monarch of the Seas out of Los Angeles for a 3 day Mexico weekend cruise. This was everyone else's first cruise. We flew from Orange County, California to San Juan on Saturday and got in on time at about 7pm. We took a taxi-van from the airport to the Sheraton Old San Juan. I had reserved two adjoining double rooms, with my wife and the girls in one and my son and daughter's fiancE in the other. Upon arrival, however, they didn't have availability. Since I am a Starwood Gold member they offered me two suites that were four doors apart. Ok. That'll do. After throwing out luggage into the suites, we walked to Restaurante Raices, which was just around the corner from the Sheraton. We had good Puerto Rican fare and especially enjoyed the Frape de Parcha, a passion fruit smoothie. After dinner we walked around the port area and visited the Hard Rock Cafe. We were in bed by 11pm or so, eagerly awaiting our Adventure of the Seas cruise. Sunday - Departure Day I awoke early and went to the rooftop pool area of the hotel and took pictures of the area. Carnival's ship had docked nearby and the Adventure of the Seas was across the harbor at the Pan American pier. Once the family woke up, we walked to La Bombonera for breakfast. We had strong PR coffee and Mallorcas. We began our walking tour of Old San Juan and followed the Frommer's guide. http://frommers.com/destinations/sanjuan/0323010008.html We enjoyed the several mile walking tour and toured the El Morro fort, then made our way back to the Sheraton to grab our bags and head to the pier. We checked out and found another taxi-van outside. By 1pm we were dropped off at the Pan American pier and quickly dropped our checked bags with a porter and tipped a couple bucks per bag. Then inside the terminal with our Sea Passes and passports we checked in and got our cards, no lines, no waiting. Through the metal detectors and onto the Adventure of the Seas. We had lunch in the Windjammer and walked around for a few minutes before 2pm when our cabins were available. We had three cabins on deck 9. My wife and I were in a D2 balcony cabin 9590, the girls were in the inside directly across from us, 9591 and the boys were in 9593, right next to the girls. This worked out great as they were close enough to feel comfortable, far enough for alone time with the wife. Our bags arrived right away and we began to unpack. After the muster drill on deck 7, we returned our life vests and donned our bathing suits for the first of many visits to the pool and Jacuzzis. This was the only time they weren't crowded. We then showered for dinner (we had late seating at 9pm the first night, 8:30pm the rest of the cruise) and went to casual dress dinner in the dining room. Our table was on deck 3, bottom deck of the three deck dining room. After dinner we went to the comedy show, Gary Mule-Deer. We had seen him on the Tonight Show when we were kids. He was funny at times and not at others. After that it was off to bed. Monday - Day at Sea Slept in this morning and then wife and I did a workout in the fitness center. We showered and left notes for the kids that we were having breakfast in the dining room. They joined us a few minutes later. Breakfast in the dining room was nice and the food seemed better than the Windjammer. After breakfast we lounged by the pool and looked around the ship some more. I did get in line to get ice-show tickets for the next evening. We were too full from breakfast to partake in the poolside barbeque lunch. Later in the afternoon we snacked by the pool on some plates from the Windjammer. Dinner was formal that night. We enjoyed the food every night in the dining room. My daughter's fiancE is a red-meat lover and he and our son had at least two appetizers and two entrees every night. No one left hungry. Tuesday - Barbados After a Windjammer breakfast, we went into the terminal and found a taxi driver with whom we negotiated a tour of the island, with three hours at a nice beach. We rented Wave Runners and the kids went on a glass-bottomed boat and snorkeled. We paid $30 per person and gave him a 10%tip. Did a little shopping in town and back at the pier before re-boarding. Wednesday - St. Lucia This is the only island we had pre-arranged a tour. We had read about Franks St. Lucia tours online and emailed him to book directly. http://www.stluciafrank.com/ The day tour was $50 per person and included lunch. Frank met us in the terminal with a sign and we were quickly in his van and on our way. We saw the Pitons, the Diamond Botanical Gardens, Soufrière's "Drive-In" Volcano and had lunch at the Beacon with a view of the Pitons. A big thunderstorm blew through as we were enjoying our St. Lucian cuisine and just added to the atmosphere. Frank took us to a spot with a view of the harbor and the Adventure of the Seas for photos. Then back to Castries for some shopping and walk back to the ship. Thursday - Antigua Again we just found a taxi driver and negotiated a day trip with Dr. D. He took us to Nelson's Dockyard and across the island to Long Bay for a few hours. More Wave Runner fun here. He was there at the right time to take us back to the pier. All this for $20 per person. I signed up for the pre-paid the gratuities and also bought the $20 per person American Airlines valet service. Friday - St. Maarten/St. Martin I had been to this island on business before and had an idea of what I wanted to do. We took the water taxi for $5/person round trip and again found a driver at Phillipsburg to take us on my itinerary. We went to Orient Bay for a couple of hours. We paid for chairs and umbrellas and that included a drink for each of us. Then our driver met us and took us to Marigot for some upscale shopping. Then to Maho Bay and the Sunset Beach Bar to watch the airplanes land and take off and have some lunch. Then he met us at SBB to take us back to Phillipsburg for some shopping before taking the water taxi back to the ship. Saturday - St. Thomas After a quick walk through the dining room to clear U.S. Immigration, we had a Windjammer breakfast and off the ship. My family and I had spent a week on this island in 2003, so we again knew what we wanted to see again. We jumped in one of the open-air, multi-row truck taxis to Coki beach. We hired chairs and umbrellas and snorkel equipment and enjoyed our three hours there. We had stayed at the former Renaissance Resort which is across the road from Coki. That resort is now closed and sits unused. There is a little restaurant on the water next to the former Renaissance called Fungi's that we thoroughly enjoyed while we stayed at the Renaissance in '03. It is still open, however we were discouraged by the locals from walking as they say the closed resort has attracted those who might attack/rob tourists. So we got in another of the open-air taxi-trucks and were dropped at Fungi's. The food was Caribbean in nature and good, but the real attraction is that the restaurant is built right over the water. The same driver was waiting for us after we finished lunch. He took us back to the straw market in Charlotte Amalie. The kids remembered a particular vendor there who sang everything. We found "the singing lady" again and made a purchase from her again. After more shopping at the straw market, we walked into town and began to shop in earnest for jewelry. I bought my daughter a yellow diamond pendant as an engagement present. My wife had her heart set on a small Tanzanite ring. However, she was very particular about what she wanted and we literally went from store to store. Boarding time had come and gone and we were still shopping. We finally jumped in a taxi that took us back to the pier shopping area for more Tanzanite hunting. Finally one of the shop keepers saw us and said, "Hey, they blew the 5 minute warning horn a while ago!" That sent us running for the ship. Fortunately, there must have been others who were running late. We were back on the ship, albeit without any Tanzanite. That night after dinner, my wife an I visited the jewelry shop on the Promenade and found the perfect little Tanzanite ring. I'm sure I paid too much for it, but it was exactly what she wanted and I was happy to get it for her. Plus the double points on my RCCL Visa didn't discourage me. We packed and tagged our bags, both with the red RCCL tags and the American Airlines valet tags, and had our checked bags in the hallway before midnight. Sunday - Departure Red was one of the first colors to be called. So we had an early breakfast in the Windjammer and went directly off the ship. We went through customs, collected our bags and delivered them to the AA representative in the terminal. That was the last time we saw them until we returned to Orange County. We grabbed a taxi-van and were at the airport in plenty of time for our 11:35am flight to DFW. Uneventful and on-time best describe our flights home. Final Thoughts We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and have now booked a balcony and inside across the hall for the Liberty of the Seas for next summer. Our daughter will be married two weeks before and so won't be joining us. We didn't miniature golf, climb the rock wall or play basketball. The kids and teenagers didn't use any of the programs available for them. While the kids visited the midnight buffet, my wife and I did not. The kids also used room service for snacks in the afternoon and late night, my wife and I did not. The balcony was wonderful, especially at night as we moved from island to island. The solitude in the middle of the dark sea was inspiring. It was also nice as we arrived and left the islands. The only time I felt crowded was in trying to use the Jacuzzis in the afternoon. The shows were just ok with the exception of the not-to-be-missed ice show. We're definitely hooked on cruising and are looking forward to becoming Platinum C&A members in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
My husband and I took this cruise in celebration of our 10th anniversary. This is the third cruise we've been on. The first was the Carnival Sensation, the second on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. We are a couple in our ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise in celebration of our 10th anniversary. This is the third cruise we've been on. The first was the Carnival Sensation, the second on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. We are a couple in our mid 30s with no children. I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It sailed from San Juan to Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Martin and St. Thomas. We flew into San Juan the day before our ship was to leave and had reservations at the Hotel El Convento. There was a big wedding going on, so Hotel El Convento obviously bumped a few confirmed reservations to make room for the wedding guests. We were one of them. They graciously paid our cab fare over to our new hotel The Gallery and assured us we could use the pool and still come back for the complimentary wine and cheese at the hotel. They also comp'd us breakfast the next morning and gave us a $50 credit at our new hotel. I thought that more than made up for it. I actually really enjoyed staying at The Gallery. I never would've picked that place our for myself but it was really cool. We arrived at the Pier about 11:15 and promptly at 11:30 they opened the doors so you could get on the ship. We had printed out our SetSail pass before we left and it was very quick to get on the ship. It was great actually leaving San Juan at night—all the other cruises I've been on always leave during the day. They didn't even really announce we were leaving port either, it was more kind of like "Oh hey, we're moving!" We sprang for a balcony cabin this time for our anniversary (previously we have only had an inside cabin). For this packed of an itinerary and since we are very much "get out there" people, I'm not sure we needed it. I was eye level to the balcony railing when I sat outside in the chairs and I'm 5'5 so anytime I really wanted to see the ocean, I had to stand up. My husband, who is 6'4, could see fine sitting in the chairs they provided. It was nice to hear the ocean at night & have the balcony door open, but a few times it was just too hot to leave it open at night & we closed it. Overall, I was happy that we got the balcony for our special occasion but I would probably go back to having an inside cabin if we needed to save money. The ship to me seemed very clean and well kept. I was afraid that it would be too close to what we experienced on the Navigator but the ports kept us so busy we really didn't have time to go climb the rock wall or play miniature golf on this ship.   Entertainment: We went to the ice skating show and had front row seats. Wonderful show and should not be missed. We also attended the Rock-A-Roki on the ship. It's Karaoke with a backing band. That was enjoyable and fun listening to everyone get up and sing. We went to the Newlywed game & it was truly hilarious. We saw the parade and the 70's party on the Promenade. Entertaining enough, but the crew members during the parade looked like they maybe had dressed up for that thing one too many times. The people watching though and especially the kids were eating it up. Service: Our cabin steward was very good and rarely seen except to occasionally say hello in the hallway. Yet he had our room spotless the entire time. The only odd thing was that we found a wallet left from the previous cruiser and when we called to alert him about it thinking he would take care of it, he asked us to take it to guest relations. We did take it up there, but I thought maybe he should have handled it after we reported it. Our safe was not operating correctly when we got to our room & he did call maintenance for us on that & it was fixed immediately.   Dining: We had the late seating at 8:30 and sat with 2 honeymooning couples and an older married couple. They were nice dining companions and we enjoyed their company throughout the cruise. We decided to do the wine package since I am a wine drinker and we bought the least expensive one for $125 or so for 5 bottles of wine. I wasn't able to drink them all and they let me share what I thought was my last one as a bottle of champagne with the entire table on the last day. The champagne toast was a really nice way to end the cruise. Then, they told me that I still had one more to drink. I asked if we could just take it with us to our room since it was the last night of the cruise & they let us do that. After looking back at my receipts, we had already drank our 5 bottles so somehow we got an extra one. Our waiter and assistant waiter did an outstanding job. No complaints on their service. I am a very picky eater and often don't enjoy the food in the dining room that much so I can't really comment how good the food was. Everyone else seemed to really enjoy it. I enjoyed the pizza and little sandwiches they provided on the Promenade and we ate breakfast every morning in the Windjammer and it was always very tasty. We also ate at Johnny Rockets using our free meal coupons we got from joining the Crown and Anchor society and it was very good as well. We did not try Portofino's.   Ports: Since we have been on a few cruises, we know that you don't have to always go through the ship to take excursions and in fact, can save a lot of money if you don't. So, we aren't afraid to go exploring on our own. Barbados: We took a cab to the beach by the Crane Hotel with 4 others from the cruise. We had done our research and we were prepared to even try the bus if we couldn't get a cab for a reasonable rate. They first told us it would be $120 for us all to go there & back but when we told them we would just take the bus, the price dropped to $80. Splitting that 3 ways is pretty reasonable so we agreed. It took about 45 minutes to get there and when we arrived, we were the only people on a very gorgeous beach. The water there is rough and not really good for swimming. We walked over to the Crane Hotel and we were able to go up and enjoy the view from atop there and have a drink and split an appetizer. What an incredible day & very inexpensive when you can go with other people. I don't know why more people don't know about this spot on Barbados but I can't imagine any of the tours offered by the ship even coming close to this experience. St. Lucia: We did the COSOL tour often mentioned on Cruise Critic. We had Yellowbird as our driver and I enjoyed it very much. There were a lot of stops so I did not get tired of driving around. I loved trying all the food they provided and the local beer. The beach they take you to that is in-between the Pitons was the best. Again, we didn't see many people from the ship at that beach. Sometimes it's best to go off on your own. This trip cost a very reasonable $45 per person and lasted almost all day. Antigua: We could never make up our mind what we should do on this island & didn't book a shore excursion when we really probably should have. Instead we took a Taxi to Dickenson Bay & rented Jet Ski's. It was a nice beach and we had a good time but I still think we could've had a better time doing an excursion offered by the cruise ship. St. Marten: Looking at the water from our balcony when we docked here had to be a highlight. Gorgeous. We did the America's Cup Sailing Regatta shore excursion through the ship. It was a lot of fun but you did actually have to work on this excursion. Beforehand, we took a cab to Orient Beach. I know a lot is said about this beach because it has a nude side to it but really, the water here was just gorgeous, it was a beautiful beach, second only to the one we went to in Barbados. St. Thomas: We did our shopping here because I really wanted to get a ring at Cardow. I wanted to see Magen's Bay, but we just did not have the time. My husband and I don't usually buy expensive gifts for each other and I thought we really needed to take our time & not rush it just to get to another beach. I bought a nice diamond ring and he bought a watch and we had drinks a lunch before heading back to the ship.   Disembarkation: This was as easy as getting on the ship. They've got this down to a science. In summary of our trip, we had a great time. We met some really nice people in our age range through Cruise Critic at the Meet and Mingle. I encourage everyone to attend that and get to know your fellow cruises. I think that just enhances the experience you are going to have on the cruise. It's always better to have somebody to share the memories with. This cruise was about what I was expecting from Royal Caribbean and I would definitely sail them again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
My Wife and I have over 40 weeks of cruising under our belt, mostly on the higher category cruise lines (Cunard, Celebrity, etc.) We picked this ship because of the islands, price,and amenities for my me, my wife and four kids (2 boys - ... Read More
My Wife and I have over 40 weeks of cruising under our belt, mostly on the higher category cruise lines (Cunard, Celebrity, etc.) We picked this ship because of the islands, price,and amenities for my me, my wife and four kids (2 boys - 15, 1 girl - 13, 1 girl 9) plus my wife's parents (mid 70's). After reading all of the previous reviews before departure, we were prepared for a huge ship with lots of people and mediocre food. I can tell you that almost everything about our cruise exceeded our expectations. Boarding - We arrived at the pier at 11:40 with 16 bags to get on board. I had downloaded the luggage tags and laminated them and attached them to our luggage. All I had to do was grab a porter and he whisked the bags away after I gave him $20 and asked him to make sure our bags got to our rooms early. I don't know whether it worked or was a coincidence, but our bags arrived at our cabin by 2:30. Use the porters - you are on vacation! Because We had my sons best friend we had to have a notarized letter from his parents allowing us to be his guardians. This delayed our boarding process about 10 min. We were still on the ship in under 30 minutes. The Ship -spotlessly clean, more glamorous than we expected. All public areas are very well maintained and staffed. We had 3700 people on board. Most times you would never know it because the ship has been planned out so well. The major complaint would have to be the elevators. Plan on waiting 10 min. during the "peak" times. Cabins - We had cabins 9660,9662,9664,9666. Our Stewardess had already figured out that the 2 adult rooms would be queens and the kids would be twin beds! The ships official policy is an adult in every room, so we booked the cabins as one adult and one child in each. If you do this and want your kids together you can not get their cards changed, you must go to guest relations and ask for duplicate room cards. We each carried two cards - the official one and our "room key" card. The cabins were great! Very roomy in comparison to other ships we had been on. The beds and new bedding were very comfortable with ample room for the suitcases underneath. We always have a suitcase unzipped under the bed to put our dirty clothes in. The closets were plenty big and had 20+ nice wooden hangers. The bath had enough space, considering what it was. The balcony really makes the cabin bigger. Don't ever book a balcony cabin unless you are prepared to step up to a balcony for the rest of your cruise life - you will never go back. Our stewardess was adequate - very efficient, just less personality than most we have had. Food - This was our biggest and best surprise! Having read reviews comparing the food to Burger King, we were prepared for "average" cuisine. It was all very good. The presentation was as elegant as any of the higher class ships we had cruised on previously. The service was also just as good. The menu may not have had quite the high end feel but everything was very well prepared. There are about 5 daily starter, entree and desert selections, plus a standard menu of steak, chicken, fish and pasta. My only compliant was a steak that was grizzly, but my F-I-L's steak was tender and delicious. Luck of the draw I guess. A word about the dining room - probably the most beautiful afloat! three levels. We were on the bottom level. I was originally disappointed not to be on the top level, but more about that later. The wait staff is placed in the dining area by ranking. The higher the ranking, the closer to the kitchen. This would mean a table towards the back should have the better service. We all had tuxes and nice dresses for the 2 formal nights, and most people were at least in suit & tie. Guys - get a tux, either by renting on board, or by buying one for the same price as the rental . I got ours at uniformalwearhouse.com for $89.95 complete! We are now ready for the next cruise or formal occasion! The Windjammer grill was an average shipboard buffet. Very convenient with ample choices that should be described as standard fare. The four kid's drink cards cost me $128 total and were worth every penny. The room service was a treat for all. My kids must have ordered something every night for a midnight snack. It was fast and efficient, and should be tipped immediately so make sure your kids have some cash. Speaking of cash - it is not accepted anywhere on board ship. You need to authorize the card for charging for anyone you want to have the privilege of spending your money! Everything was priced fairly - Mixed drinks in the $5 range for example. What to do first - Go and make your Portofino reservations as soon as you get on board. You need to spend the $20 pp once and experience this fine dining. Our Waiter suggested Thursday as he felt this was the least popular dining room menu. Next, check your table in the dining room - they try to be as accommodating as possible. Shows - The ice skating show is truly not to be missed! even the teenagers were impressed! The evening shows were a good diversion if you need entertainment. We had late dining so we were usually ready to walk around, not sit and see a show. Kids - The teen area was really nice and might have been a great place for my 15 yr.old boy to hang. Details later. The younger kids programs seemed as though they were designed for adults who wanted to get rid of their kids instead of programs for kids to want to do. Our 9 yr old had no interest at all in them. The bad news - Having read the reviews mentioning the Puerto Ricans on board we were prepared for some ethnic diversity. We were not prepared for a full third of the ship to impose their morals and values on the rest of us. The teens took over the youth center - if you didn't speak Spanish you were out of luck. I have lived and traveled the world and I am not at all bigoted or prejudiced, but by the end of the cruise we were all fed up with the pushing, cutting in line, and taking over entire areas of the ship. RCCL did have all of them up on the top level of the dining room, so our evening meals were two levels below the din. I had feared there might be a fair number of PRs based on the great discount we got. Our half price cabins meant the locals must have gotten a really good deal. If you are getting a great deal on this cruise beware! Ports of Call - Having 8 cruisers the shore excursions were way too much money to participate. We rented a mini van in Aruba, St Maartin, and Puerto Rico. They cost @ $80 and we had the run of the island! We drove to the same spots as many of the excursions went. We are avid snorkelers and found great views at Baby beach in Aruba. In Curacao we took a cab to little blue bay - a best western resort that cost $40 each way in a big van, plus $10 pp to get in. What a great beach! Palm trees, warm clear water and great fish and coral. St Maartin - go to the resort directly across the bay from the ship, on the other side of the land. I cant remember the name - It cost nothing but $5 for the Umbrella And $5 for the recliners. Once again great snorkeling. The snorkeling excursion from the ship arrived by boat and stayed for an hour and a half . They paid $50 pp to see the same fish we did for the $76 total cost of the rental car. We didn't plan on a rental, but after hearing the cab fares we realized a rental was better. They are located just off the ship and to the right as you get to the welcome shops. In St, Thomas we decided to go into town with the In laws - Wow what an American place. I have never seen so many jewelry shops in my life. If you enjoy shopping for jewelry you hit the jackpot. We rode the tram up to the top of the mountain. A great view, a nice breeze and a fun parrot show. Buy your tickets on board before you get off the ship and save some $$. Disembarking - They want you out of your cabins by 8 AM. We went to the windjammer and had a nice breakfast and then waited for our number (5)to be called. Once called we waited about 10 minutes for the crowds to subside and then went down. We were off in under 20 minutes. Once again use the porters. They take your bags and whisk you through customs ahead of the people lugging their own stuff. The porter got us a cab without waiting in the long line too. another $20 well spent. Conclusion - What a wonderful ship and a great cruise,. We will definitely cruise RCCL again, but we will NEVER sail out of Puerto Rico again. I hope this doesn't come across as jaded - our family is very fun loving and easy going and the cruise line was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Just returned from a week of heaven onboard the Adventure! My husband of 24 hours and I were one of over 100 honeymooning couples onboard the Adventure! We're Philadelphians in our late 30's, active, and my new hubby is a night ... Read More
Just returned from a week of heaven onboard the Adventure! My husband of 24 hours and I were one of over 100 honeymooning couples onboard the Adventure! We're Philadelphians in our late 30's, active, and my new hubby is a night owl. Husband and I took an early afternoon flight on USAirways out of PHL, arriving in San Juan around 5:00. The flight was uneventful...until we landed. Turned out an earlier flight out of Philadelphia had been delayed, and was scheduled to arrive in San Juan approx. 7:30! SOMEHOW, some passenger baggage from our flight ended up on the latter flight. Fiasco! Luckily, all of our bags made it through. While waiting for a ride to the ship, we observed how hard the Royal Caribbean staff was working to resolve the baggage issue, in addition to working a plan for the 100 plus passengers arriving dangerously close to our 8:30 departure time. As it turns out, the Captain delayed the ship departure to accommodate the late Philly flight, which we thought was cool. No one on board really noticed or cared...too many things to do and see. Embarkation: took all of 4 minutes, and we were onboard on the way to our balcony room. I cannot stress how massive the ship is....you really have no sense of size until you're standing next to the ship! Room: clean, well maintained, nicely decorated. Good sized balcony. Our room steward knocked on the door to introduce himself within 5 minutes. (Chen was the best!!) We had plenty of room for our belongings and quickly unpacked. The beds were very comfy too! Ship common areas: Hubby and I spent the next several hours just exploring the ship! The Adventure is well maintained and tastefully decorated. Lots of interesting artwork displayed. Very rare to see cups or plates laying about. Very clean. Adventure has an interesting mix of common areas with no common theme, but it works. You have plenty of places to hide away, and the ship rarely felt crowded. We loved hanging out at the champaign bar or along the Promenade. Crew: Fantastic. Helpful, polite and genuinely seemed to enjoy their job. Also, no hard push for tips at the end of the cruise like some cruise lines. Excursions: Save yourself tons of money and grab a taxi when you hit land. In St. Thomas and St. Martin I think it's really unnecessary to need handholding around the island. Unless you're doing something that would be more interesting in a group, or a tour that's out of the ordinary like zip lining, Grab a taxi and go. Fellow Cruisers: As honeymooners, we were a bit concerned about the kid issue. Guess what? Not an issue! We rarely saw kids, and if we did, they were with parents. Older kids, like 16 or 17 had more autonomy and traveled in small groups. However, they were very well behaved and stayed in the vicinity of the teen club/arcade/Johnny Rockets. Or at the main pool. RC included in our welcome aboard package a sheet detailing the ship curfew policy, and it was enforced. There were quite a number of spanish speaking cruisers, but I found that most were bilingual. Didn't bother us a bit...had a few laughs trying to communicate using my 8th grade level Spanish. Lots a families traveling together. By and large, a nice mix of cruisers, everyone was pleasant and friendly. The Adventure crew did an excellent job of providing activities appropriate for various demographics. Food: Food was good. What they lacked in variety they made up in quality of preparation. Did room service for breakfast 3 times, food always arrived quickly and hot. We enjoyed the Windjammer Buffet more than main dining. Thought Portofino's was overrated. Promenade Cafe was great for a late night slice of pizza. Got a bit ill from Johnny Rockets - probably too much fried food for these bellies. There was always something available to eat, but the ship didn't seem to encourage the sick gluttony we experienced on Carnival. Tasty Frozen yogurt was available near the pool, which hubby loved. Shows: We saw several, and thought all were entertaining, creative and well executed. El Gaucho was a riot! Don't miss any shows that require audience participation, they were the most fun. karaoke in the Imperial Lounge was great too. Disembarkation: we booked a post-cruise tour of San Juan. A bit of organized confusion getting off the ship, but we were soon on our way to San Cristobal and El Morro. Hubby LOVED the fort, wish we could've stayed longer. Tour ended with a dropoff at the airport. Flight home was uneventful. Final notes: There is no way you cannot have fun on this ship, unless you're looking for the drunken frat party kind of fun. I have no negative comments about the crew, ship, or passengers on the Adventure. I don't know if I could go back to Carnival after experiencing Royal Caribbean - we're hooked! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Let me start by saying that this was the best cruise vacation I have had by far ever. It was me and my hubby;s 4th cruise both (26). Before we booked this cruise I became a cruise critic fanatic so I was so familiar with the ship before I ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this was the best cruise vacation I have had by far ever. It was me and my hubby;s 4th cruise both (26). Before we booked this cruise I became a cruise critic fanatic so I was so familiar with the ship before I got on it. Before I continue I have to shout out a couple whom we experienced everything including mishaps with(he was from queens, she is from L.I.)It was great meeting you.Okay, our cruise was Aug.26 so we arrived the day before so be able to take in some island time before departure. That was a dream that did not come true. Right from the moment we were waiting for our flight to board, the crew says that the flight was canceled due to the hurricane and the pilot was stuck in DR. Oh that felt really nice being that we were there from 6:30a.m. But we were lucky enough to get on the next flight out at 10:50 a.m. and free roundtrip for next trip. THANK YOU JET BLUE.That's were our friends come in they had to wait for a 4:00p.m. flight. Having it that we had gotten there 4 hours later than anticipated we were cut off of things to do once we arrived in San Juan Puerto Rico which is our decent. We were so anxious to spend time there that we did the most in a short time even if the sun was already setting. We stood at the Holiday Inn Express in Condado PR. Having read reviews I was weighing what to expect but I have to say with the exception of the elevator size being too small to fit large luggage everything else seemed to be fitting. The room size was moderate, clean, quiet and the front desk was very helpful. Then again we already knew where everything was and how to get there so we had no problems. Woke up next morning ate some breakfast and checked out by 11:00a.m We were at the pier and on board by 12:00 Check in was easier with the set and sail pass. I was so excited looking at the ship from outside I could only imagine what the inside was like. This ship is huge on the outside and that much inside.It was daunting to me how it could accommodate that quantity of people and never feel clustered. Our staterooms would not be done until 2:00p.m. And they made sure of the because the doors were closed in the hallways leading to cabins. Better for us had time to explore and have lunch in the windjammer. We had to sanitize first and then vacation officially started.While waiting we made reservations for portofino's which is a must try. The fee is 20pp but is well worth it because the food is fantastic. Tip: wear loose fitting clothes you be able to expand better LOL. We also booked our shore excursions when they opened up. Finally, went to our room to find the cutest looking shower and ample room in the stateroom for the two of us. My motto for this week was do all you can and take advantage, can't say the same for the hubby he said I lugged him around with a honey-do list.LOL Day 1- Had to speak with maitre'd about seating arrangements that I had made when I booked which were not granted but was quickly resolved. Thank You It was casual night our waiter was Allen from India he was so hospitable. Steven from Jamaica I believe was the assistant. The head waiter who's name I do not remember was really very nice and always made it a point to speak to us. With all the people he encounters and he remembered my hubby wanted a nap. We missed the welcome aboard show which I was upset about. Due to a late dinner and a theater that's capacity is only 1500 for 3000 guests who were on board. The seating was together only that night. I had no chance(LOL) Day 2 At SEA- This was the only day at sea we had. I wish there would have been at last one other to be able to find time for all activities that were offered. We ate breakfast at WJ, did the pool deck for some hours I line danced and the hubby played a pool game. Very fun Time flies by that time had to go change for dinner it was formal night and you know us girls need extra time.We took the portraits, went to the show, went to the midnight comedy and the parade.It was Caribbean casual I don't remember what we ate but nothing we had in the dining room was anything to talk about except lobster night. Day 3-Barbados Woke up very early dragging went to eat at the WJ and headed out to pier for our excursion. We took the Coral Park and Beach It wasn't coral park it was supposed to be an aquarium but was really someone's fish tank. It took us about 20 to 30 min to arrive there and after 4 exhibits it was over. At least there was beach next. They took us to Runaway Beach which was beautiful. The waters were so clear. As for the locals I didn't think they were the most sociable bunch. If you want a beach tour take one that doesn't bring you elsewhere first it shortens the time you have to bask in the sun. Back on the ship had lunch in the WJ which we found to be unsatisfying with all the variety we didn't find anything that suited our taste buds. Went to bathe, change and off to dinner. Tonight we ate at Portofino's and that was something to remember. I loved the food for 20pp it was well worth it. Our waiter Roberto was generous and made sure we got a full experience and full we were. Delicious must try the filet. Day4St. Lucia- I originally thought this would be pleasing but then I came to realize this was not an island to bring visitors to see. It was a very poor island with children washing and bathing in the rivers. Children begging for money on the roadsides. Our tour was called the ultimate island experience and there was nothing ultimate, island or experience about it, horrible PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS ONE.We sat on a bus for 4 hours roundtrip plus 1 hour for stops in between. The tour went over 1 hour with nothing to eat and 1 cup of rum punch only. All we did was walk the cocoa factory and get wet in what was thought to be a major waterfall which turned out to be an iced baby pool with trickles. Did not enjoy this at all and hubby blamed me for a poor choice.(At least we had fun laughing about our horrible time after)Got back to the ship to bathe, change and off to dinner. Again I don't remember what we ate not that enticing but the bread was good. Day 5 St. Johns- Woke up early ate breakfast at the WJ which was getting boring by now and to the pier for the excursion We went to the beach It was absolutely the best waters I had seen ever. The waters were calm clear and clean. Loved it. Had some jellyfish and tropical fishes at shore but all else was great. Got back to bathe, change and off to dinner Tonight was formal night again. Took portraits, which i found to be beautiful and went to dinner. Only thing I did not understand was we dressed up not to eat lobster tonight but tomorrow casual. (no sense) We did the midnight buffet which was visually yummy but not when eaten. Day 6-St.Maarten- Loved it went to Divi Little Bay the locals were very welcoming relaxed on the beach. Hubby jet skied and we had a mini lunch and back to the ship we went. We walked around the pier where we stopped to have some frozen drinks the pina colada is a must have. Back on the boat we ate at the promenade pizza and sandwiches because WJ menu was not happening anymore.Went to dinner lobster night YUMMY loved it had 3 tails all courtesy of Allen our waiter. It was really good. Went to the show . Day 7- Already felling sad it's coming to an end we didn't book an excursion because this is our 3rd time here and we 've done the local beaches so we decided to souvenir shop. Oh by the way you have to get up early for customs it was short and simple. We went back on the ship ate at the promenade hit the pool deck for the last time and went to bathe, change and of to dinner. It was tip night and it's all so sad you wish you could give away your paychecks to these crew and staff for doing exceptional work. B-4 I continue things I didn't mention because I don't remember what days they occurred. The ice show (cool art show)liked that the rink was small but the performance was big. Dominican Quartet they kept us latinos moving with there music loved that. Every night we had a place to go.The quest game show Loved that we were team captains for our section and I've never had more fun and laughs. What people will do for a keychain. latin fiesta very nice. The buffet poolside interesting loved the diversity in the cultural foods.The 70's parade that got everyone moving even the stiffs.Jester's nightclub Loved the music very up to date for people my age enjoyed it.I hope I didn't lave any out but everything entertainment wise was enjoyable. Mike the cruise director fits the job well. He is so funny, entertaining and down to earth. Disembarkation- It wa fast for us since we had an early flight we were off and at the airport by 8:30a.m. I hated this part having to leave my seven days of memories behind. To end I LOVED THIS CRUISE my hubby and I are already trying to figure out if we want to do this ship again. It was a blast. Stateroom attendant elvin left us towel animals every night and the quality of service was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
This was our 2nd cruise, and the 2nd with Royal Caribbean. As in the past, travelling by air, especially in the summer warrants an extra day to make sure there are no airline delays in arriving on time at your embarkation port. My wife, ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise, and the 2nd with Royal Caribbean. As in the past, travelling by air, especially in the summer warrants an extra day to make sure there are no airline delays in arriving on time at your embarkation port. My wife, younger son 22 and his fiance, and older son 29 who had a close friend join him travelled together. We left Philadelphia at 8:15am on Saturday 8/11 the day before the cruise. We flew AA this time and in fact must've had a tail wind because we arrived 1/2 hour earlier than expected at 11:30am. The flight was interesting as my son asked the stewardess at 11am what time we would arrive while she was passing out a second round of refreshments, and she responded with 12 noon as expected. Ten minutes later, the pilot came on and said we were 48 miles from San Juan and would be landing in about 10 minutes. Rush, Rush, Rush by the cabin crew to retrieve the unused refreshments as apparently there was no communication from the cockpit that we were arriving that much sooner. Upon landing we went to the baggage claim area and retrieved all of our luggage. Since we were 6 people with luggage and were travelling to Old San Juan to stay at the Sheraton, I thought it would be more practical to arrange for a limo service to take us all together. I contacted Fairway Travel by e-mail in San Juan, who was recommended by our cruise agent, and as promised, they were there at 12 noon waiting for us in the baggage claim area; loaded all of our luggage and ourselves and took us directly to the Hotel. In addition, I had arranged to have us picked up the next day at 11 am to transport us to the Pan American Pier where our ship was leaving from. The drivers were great, and it eliminated any anxieties of getting where we had to be, when we had to be there. The Sheraton Old San Juan was great. We had reserved 2 double bed rooms and when we arrived, since only one was available, they upgraded one of the rooms to a suite at no additional cost that had a balcony and overlooked the pier and ships. Our kids urged us to have dinner, etc at Senor Frogs, which was located next door to the Sheraton and we had a ball, including free entertainment. On Sunday morning, upon arriving at the pier at 11:15am, our driver obtained a porter for our luggage and all we had to do was get in line. At 11:30am the line started to move and the processing with Sail-Pass went very smoothly as we were on board in about 20 minutes. Since our access to our respective cabins was not till 2pm we proceeded to take care of a few items. 1st of all we booked our dinner in Portofino for Tues eve. If you want to make sure you're not locked out of that dining experience, it should be the 1st thing you do when you get on board. Next we purchased the non-alcoholic (soda passes) for the week, and went to have some lunch in the Windjammer restaurant. At about 1:45pm we proceeded to our cabin on the 9th deck and our Stateroom with Balcony was ready. We met Julian our cabin steward, who was GREAT ALL WEEK !!! Anything we needed, extra towels, etc. was taken care of immediately. I guess because we had a porter take care of our luggage, we lucked out because our luggage arrived about 10 minutes after we got to our stateroom. Only 1 piece of luggage was delayed, as my wife decided to put her laptop in it instead of carrying it on-board with her, and when it was scanned by the ship's security staff they held it and requested that we come down to Guest relations for it. They told me when I retrieved it that it was the ship's policy not to leave it outside of the stateroom, since it contained the laptop, but to make sure we were given it directly. The 1st afternoon since the ship was not leaving the dock until 8:30pm was spent around the Solarium Pool, and its hot tubs. This ship has a separate pool area with 2 whirlpools for 21 and over, which for us was a pleasure, since our kids were older and didn't need supervision. We had selected the later seating at 8:30pm and had a very nice table location for the 6 of us next to a window. Our waiter was Domingo who told us at the end of the cruise that he had been working on about 4 cruise ships with Royal Caribbean over the last 20 years and that he was retiring in December. Shirley was our assistant waiter and Mustapha was our head waiter. All three (3) waitstaff persons were very friendly and went out of their way to make sure that we had excellent service and if anything additional was needed just to ask. Long 1st day, so my wife and I went to bed early. Our 20 year olds with us obviously thought that went to heaven and partied and partied. On Monday, which was a cruising day, we all relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. Dinner that night was the 1st formal nite and my wife I met the Captain at the reception before dinner. Previous to the cruise I had booked an excursion at the end of the cruise for a tour of Old San Juan, which when finished would take us directly to the airport. That worked out well on our previous cruise, as we had no hassles with getting off the ship (1st in Line) and zipped through customs and our baggage was taken care of and was waiting for us at the airport. I had reserved a tour of St. Lucia privately which I will get into shortly. We booked a number of excursions earlier in the day as they were filling up fast. On Tuesday, our 1st port of call was Barbados. We took a short shopping tour earlier in the morning and took an excursion with a Catamaran snorkeling with the large Sea Turtles in the afternoon. The trip was great, including unlimited liquid refreshments. Because of Hurricane Dean raising its ugly head, the Captain made note that it was possible some of the islands might be averted and or if it affected San Juan on Sunday, we might have a free day staying out at sea. That did not materialize. On Wednesday we docked in St. Lucia. As I had mentioned earlier we reserved a tour of the island privately for the day. I had read on other reviews that the BEST TOUR GUIDE on St. Lucia was COSOL at www.cosoltours.com We were not disappointed. The tour of the island started as soon as we got off of the ship and was non-stop fun and entertaining. COSOL WAS PHENOMENAL. In fact he was our personal driver and there were 6 others in our air-conditioned van. He knew everything about the island, and made many stops to the points of interest (Sulfur Volcanoes, Waterfalls, etc. ) We stopped at numerous local produce stands and were provided with samples just harvested. (Bananas, passion fruit, pineapples, etc.) Specialty foods such as Johnny cakes, warm bread and cheese just to name a few. Plenty of liquid refreshments too. Soda, local beer and home made rum punch). We were provided access to the beach at Jalousie Plantation resort for swimming. The private beach was nestled between the 2 piton mountains, and the warm water was crystal clear. We were back at the pier in plenty of time to do some shopping before getting back on board the ship. On Thursday we arrived in Antigua, and we used it, other then going into town to look at some more shopping and touring as a rest day. Hurricane Dean was starting to show it's muscle as the ship, as big as it was, started to wobble in the ocean. Fortunately we left Barbados and St. Lucia the day before the Hurricane winds arrived there. Thursday eve was the 2nd formal nite for dinner and service in the Main Dining Room was very good. I should mention that on three of the days on Board we ate in the main dining room for breakfast, and the rest of the days we had our lunches at the Buffets in the Windjammer and Island Grill. Food was good and service as well. On Friday after a rocking nite on ship we arrived in St Maarten. My wife and I had spent an entire week 2 years ago on that island. We had booked an afternoon on Orient Beach (Our 20 year olds had heard a lot about the NUDE beach) but unfortunately for them, the excursion was cancelled because of the weather. We took the water taxi into town, did some more shopping in downtown Phillipsburg and relaxed the rest of the afternoon and evening on Board. Each evening there was plenty of entertainment going on from the Ice Show, to live entertainment in the main theater, as well as Karaoke and other musical groups performing throughout the ship. On Sat we arrived in St Thomas and had a number of excursions for the afternoon between us with more shopping in the morning (St. Thomas had the best prices for shopping for just about everything than the other islands) Because of the rough water from the outer bands from Hurricane Dean. They were cancelled. My wife and I were supposed to go on the Atlantis Submarine and the kids were to done dive suits for underwater viewing of sea life, and that was the only disappointing part of the trip for them, but beyond anyone's control. The immigration process back into the US in the morning before getting off of the ship took about 5 minutes and after spending extra time for shopping we relaxed on Board. On Sunday morning we had quick breakfasts like everyone else in the Windjammer because we were scheduled to be 1st off of the ship for our walking tour excursion. Our flight back to Philadelphia went smoothly, although because the flight didn't leave till 5:55 pm we had a number of hours to kill in the airport. Had lunch and took it easy. In summary, we had a fantastic time, the weather was great except for the last few days, but not unbearable, and Royal Caribbean made our trip a great experience. Kudos again to COSOL in St Lucia for our tour of the island. Anyone going to St. Lucia MUST contact him in advance to reserve a tour with him. You won't be disappointed. Looking forward to our next cruise over XMAS from Tampa to Cozumel & Yucatan, on the Grandeur of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
BACKGROUND: 2 Cruises NCL/Alaska & 2 Cruises RCCL/Caribbean so this was our 5th AGES: 39, 42 & 4 years Pre-cruise: We decided to stay at the Marriott Stellaris for 2 nights, which we did not regret. The rooms we very clean and ... Read More
BACKGROUND: 2 Cruises NCL/Alaska & 2 Cruises RCCL/Caribbean so this was our 5th AGES: 39, 42 & 4 years Pre-cruise: We decided to stay at the Marriott Stellaris for 2 nights, which we did not regret. The rooms we very clean and spacious and COMFORTABLE BEDS! Everyroom had a balcony and we loved the view from the 20th floor! We had a city view and loved it. The food was good and we took advantage of the all you can eat buffets for breakfast and lunch (in La Vista) because our 4 year old's meal and drink were included with our buffet purchase for free. The buffets were $16.95 p/person. FYI, there is a Walgreens across the street from the Marriott and we visited there prior to heading to the ship and bought a case of bottled water and a 12 pack of sodas with some strapping tape. We super-reinforced the cases with tape and slapped one of our luggage tags on them and they were at our cabin with our luggage. The staff at this resort were very friendly and accommodating. One night we went to KAKAOS...a restaurant WEST of the hotel on Ashford St....it is about a 2-3 block walk...and while pricey, the TAPAS there are VERY GOOD! We enjoyed it for our "nice meal out" in San Juan. There were no tourists and plenty of locals to ad to the authentic feel of this place. On Friday and Saturday night, the hotel lobby became a salsa dancing frenzy with locals coming to dance...it was a sight to see with 300-400 people crowded into the lobby area to enjoy the music. The long Island Rum Tea at the hotel was fantastic! SAN JUAN: The city has it's own buzz...we chose the visit the San Cristobla & San Felipe del Morro Forts. The charge was only $5 per adult to see both. They were simply amazing! The are very large and there is some very steep climbing that should be considered...but I am a "BIG GIRL" (over 200 pounds) and had no problem. We actually toured the San Cristobal first and then walked to the San Felipe...it was about a 20 minute walk and took us through the heart of Old Town San Juan and by many wonderful shops.The famous bakery, La Bonbombera, was on the path we took. If you go to the forts, look for the numerous large green Iguanas on the grassy area. Great photo opts. EMBARKATION: We embarked AOS on 8/12....we hit the Pan American terminal at 11:00am and had to wait in line briefly while they readied the group to board. We were on by noon and were in our rooms by 2pm. There was plenty to do and see on the ship in the meanwhile. Shortly after touring the ship I started feeling weird and having problems with my vision.....I got to take a first class trip to the ship's medical facility. They had a wonderful staff and after one look at me realized that I was having an adverse reaction to "THE PATCH" (Scoplomine). I have worn it on all of my other cruises...but had never had a problem....NOT THIS TIME. The reason I am including this in the review, is I want you to be aware in the case that you have the same symptoms. Not knowing what was causing the very dilated eyes and dizziness, I visited the ship medical facility. I have a heart murmur, which the doctor heard (I had forgotten to tell him) and was experiencing slight arithmia with it....all things compounded...I wound up staying in the facility for four hours with an IV and benadryl flushing the patch meds out of my system and an EKG to check my heart. The first ship board account charge was to the medical facility for ALOT of money (they do not accept insurance) and my first dinner/night aboard ruined. With that said...be careful of the patch...I always sang it's praises, until this...if you eyes dilate or you feel dizzy..TAKE IT OFF and start drinking WATER! 2nd DAY: SEA DAY: Our son LOVES Adventure Ocean. He could not wait to go. He was not disappointed. The staff was very good. They were not as pumped as the team we had experienced on the Splendour of the Seas, but they were good all the same. We found this cruise to be very international...we met tons of Spaniards, English, Irish...it was great. There were many Puerto Ricans on board, but we were told there were no Quncieneros. There was a different feel due to the internationality...and a general lack of consideration by other passengers of others, unlike other destinations, but it did not ruin our trip by any means. THE SHIP: Awesome facility!! One thing that really shocked us, was there were NO hand sanitizers in the Windjammer and other public areas as we had experienced before on our other RCCI cruises...I missed them...It gives me a sense of security, even if it is false! On the Splendour they MADE us use them or we could not enter the dinning facility. No worries, I had my PUREL. The Ice show was GREAT...do not miss it. The Promenade entertainment was really nice. The Promenade and Picture Gallery got really crowded just before and just after the dining times so maybe think about that...we got tired of wading through the masses to see our pictures or shop. JOHNNY ROCKETS was great! The service there was awesome and the burgers are awesome to boot...it is well worth the cover charge! The dining room food was good....appetizers were the highlight and I would order two every night. We did not think our wait staff was very good.I am not picky, but our waiter seemed indifferent....we did not even have salt & pepper on the table until the 4th night. But we just rolled with the flow. We had to ask for the wine menu each night. That seemed odd. Never had that happen before. They we very nice...just did not seem very competent. STATEROOM: We had an OV on the starboard side and it was fine...the bedding was great. We did notice however that our mini fridge was not cold at all when we got there. We asked our cabin steward if would check it and he argued with us saying that was how it was suppose to be. That irked me! He did agree finally to have maintenance look at it and they changed it out and VIOLA...we had nice cool water! Our attendant was not a very happy guy...he actually seemed to HATE being there, however he did an INCREDIBLE job! The room was refreshed no less than 3 times daily and we had a towel creation EVERY DAY! We tried cheering him up, and by the final day, he was starting to come around. Another tip, we put a 5 liter box of wine in our luggage, wrapped in 2 heavy duty trash sacks and it made it on board just fine and allowed us wine to sip in our room precruise & during the cruise. I like the box because it does not break. We finished it while gone, thus freeing up souvenir packing space on the way back. SHIP CLEANLINESS: This ship was not as well maintained as the Splendour. PERIOD. There were cleaning details that were not taken care of. Splatters on our head boards, things spilled and not cleaned up in the elevators. Dirty walls in the stateroom. Did not ruin the cruise, but was not as clean as I would have liked it. The tables in the windjammer were not cleaned well enough...the were smeared around and left for the next person to eat on BUT, the Windjammer was PACKED OUT in the mornings especially on port days. The food was good enough, and the SERVICE was EXCELLENT!However, on numerous occasions we had to wait for or search out a table, or join others at a table. People would cut in line infront of you constantly. Just a different experience than I am used to but you certainly cannot control other passengers and is no way the fault of the cruise line. We loved the peekaboo bridge where you can see the bridge and the captains doing their thing. be sure to be there when you sail out of port! OK...THE BEST PART: THE PORTS! Barbados: This was the only ship arranged tour we did...we loved it! THE JOLLY RODGER PIRATE SHIP. The narrator was exceptional and funny...people were made to walk to plank and the beer and rum punch flowed freely. They served a nice lunch of local flavors. As an added bonus, we were able to swim with the Sea Turtles for only $5 extra...LOVED IT! St. Lucia: COSOL TOURS. We had read so much about this tour that I was ready to go! We were not disappointed in the least...it was the best tour I have ever been on! Again, there was rum punch, beer, water, soft drinks. We saw the Volcano, snorkeled between the Pitons, ate local food, visited the banana plantation and visited many local vendors and a local farmer to sample fruits and food. YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TOUR! Be mindful if you do get motion sickness to take something to help it and ride in the front of the van. There is alot of driving seeing GORGEOUS scenery, but there is not a straight area of road for 100 yards. Everyone we found on this tour was a CC frequenter. Glad we were able to see it since DEAN visited it only 30 hours after we left. ANTIGUA: We took the Gordon's Antigua Beach Runner Tour and really enjoyed it. He was such a nice guys and we saw Devils bridge, Jolly Beach, Nelson's Dockyard. It was very laid back and we got to meet some fellow CC board members. St. Maarten: The weather was starting to get ifie while we were there but we took a nice private tour with SXM tours. Lloyd was our driver and he took us to the most amazing SOUVENIR place. It was called RIMI. It was very clear the moment we walked into Rimi's that this is were the shop owners SHOP for their items to sell. It was a wholesaler. Not only that, you could purchase souvenirs from any of the islands we visited there. For example, we picked up 3 embroidered St. Maarten bags for 3.99 EACH. These are large and heavy duty and we were very happy with our finds! He took us to a restaurant for lunch called KAKOAS...I know, the same as the other place San Juan. It was on the French side and WOW the food was incredible. Freshest seafood and on the beach. My favorite part was the butterfly farm. You must go....sounds sissy, I know...but it is amazing and they have a wonderful tour. The photo OPTS there are wonderful too! St. Thomas: We just did the SKYRIDE. It offered a gorgeous view of the bay. While the shopping here was good, I think St. Maarten was better, thanks to Lloyd. Overall this cruise was wonderful! We had such a nice time and made good friends with other families from Barcelona and the UK. The ports were awesome and we truly had a marvelous time. The ship was a little disappointing. I am not sure if I would travel on AOS again, however, we talked to MANY people that had wonderful service and such....we probably should give it one more shot. The ports and things you get to see will more than make up for any of the little things. WARNING: if you are not crazy about large crowds, lines,and rude people, you might want to rethink this ship. If you are a clean freak, you certainly want to rethink it. Overall it was a very good trip! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Adventure of the Seas -Southern Caribbean -19 August 2007 Unfortunately, I found this site long after we got back from our cruise! Too bad, I would have known all details and tips... Anyway, excuse my english, since I m from Greece. ... Read More
Adventure of the Seas -Southern Caribbean -19 August 2007 Unfortunately, I found this site long after we got back from our cruise! Too bad, I would have known all details and tips... Anyway, excuse my english, since I m from Greece. Sunday 19th of August Loooong flight to San Juan from Athens-Greece, via Madrid. At 5:00 pm easy embarkation with no lines, off to our cabin #7297 overlooking Royal Promenade street (stateroom for handicapped people so it was huge!!) At 6:00pm there was a compulsory mustering drill, where everyone should wear the life jackets and go out to the indicated deck. This lasted about 15-20mins. After that I had to find the maitre d' in order to change our seating from 6pm to 8.30pm (as we, Greeks are not used to dine this early!) They told us that they would answer the next day and that for the first night we had to dine at 6!! So here we are with our (really early) morning clothes, dining in a super dining room. Anyway, this did not spoil our enthusiasm. We ate fast as we were eager to begin exploring this huge ship. We missed the welcome aboard show as we were wandering around to discover all the places that we read on the brochures (found the small chapel, the sports court, the golf court the in-line skating track, the pools, bars etc. Of course after being up almost 24hrs we head to our cabin and gladly found out that our luggage was there. Monday 20th day at sea... Early exercise! at the gym and breakfast at Vivaldi dining room was super! Fun by the pool, Mr. Sexy legs contest and dancing lessons with Caribbean music! Light lunch at Windjammer and first formal night. Tuesday 21st-Aruba Sights and Swim excursion with a bus took us to some of the sights of the island such as rock formations, natural bridge and California Lighthouse, then onto Eagle Beach which was great but the waters very cloudy! After that, back to the ship and walk in Oranjestad to do some shopping. Wednesday 22nd Curacao, we missed our 9.00am jeep safari as we could not find the chief of the excursion. Anyway they told us that we could do it at 1.00pm so visit the colorful city of Willemstad (shopping souvenirs) and back to the ship for the Jeep Safari. I did not enjoy as much as the others as we paid 75$each for a tour in the desert part of the island, see some cacti trees and be in a cave with bats!! Finally we ended this tour with a small stop at a wonderful beach (I think it was Blue Bay) for a quick swim. This was the best part of this excursion. (Aruba and Curacao are two islands that I d reconsidered to visit and stay for a longer period than 2 days) Thursday 23rd day at sea by the pool after some exercise at the gym. Caribbean music, Men s International Belly flop Contest and cocktails... Friday 24th My husband s birthday and here we are in St. Maarten taking an excursion to Marigot (which is the capital of the French side of the island) and then to Orient Bay a famous beach. Marigot was beautiful, better than Philpsburg (capital of the Dutch side of the island) and Orient beach was ok but it was too windy and the sea too wavy. Back to the ship and just before getting of the bus heavy rain started. We got all wet and I caught a cold because of the high air condition when we entered into the ship. Saturday 25th and right before we go out and visit St Thomas (best island of all) we have to pass through immigration, which is a simple procedure. The excursion was the Ultimate island experience and it was! With a semi-open bus we drove up to some hills from where we could see almost all the island. Then we went to the most beautiful beach I have ever seen (and I m from Greece) Magens Bay... Magical, amazing beach with white sand crystal waters and not crowded. We only enjoyed the first hour of our stay since it started to rain again! Too bad! After 30 minutes the rain stopped and sun was up again. Then we drove back to Charlotte Amalie, visit Blackbeard s castle and after 99 steps (easy ones) you are downtown. Souvenirs shopping and back to the ship for the last sail away experience for this summer. HIGHLIGHTS: Definitely Mike Szwajkowski the cruise director an amazing guy full of energy that made us laugh all the time. We miss him already. Manolis Kampanakis Food and Beverage Manager, the only Greek person in the crew. We are so much obliged since he made our trip unforgettable with all his treats. FOOD: EXCELLENT in all places. Windjammer for breakfast and lunch Ah! the endless buffets…. spoiled us. Cafe at the Promenade with pastries, sandwiches, pizza, cakes and cookies and great coffee (open 24hrs) The huge dining room was incredible; too bad I didn't take the menus with me.(Derya from Turkey and Cecilia from Philippines fulfilled all our culinary wishes) Portofino's the ultimate culinary experience! (only 20$ pp) Manolis, made a reservation for us for Friday night and my husbands birthday will not be forgotten. Champagne, French wine and a birthday cake along with the birthday song from all the waiters…. Unforgettable moments, unforgettable experience! ENTERTAINMENT : EXCELLENT! Great shows, tried to go every night Don't miss EL GAUCHO, the guy is super! (Try NOT to be the one who picks to perform his act!!) Singers and dancers performance was really good. Don't miss: Love and Marriage game show with Mike at his best! FOUNTAINS right next was hysterical!! Don't miss it! And of course COOL ART HOT ICE show…. How do skaters manage to perform in such a small ring?? The Quest game show at Studio B, could not stand up from the laughs also with Mike as host! Jester s night club loved the music specially when it was the 80s night. SHIP: As this was our first cruise, we cannot make comparisons. Overall it was a great experience and probably the best vacations we have ever had!(and the most expensive ones!) Will be back next year probably on the same ship. (when I will loose all the kilos gained on this cruise!) Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Adventure of the seas, Aug. 26-Sept 2/07 This was our 3rd cruise in the last 4 years. First was RCL-Explorer and second was Celebrity Century. I think Celebrity spoiled us for life. Definitely this cruise had pros and cons. We did enjoy ... Read More
Adventure of the seas, Aug. 26-Sept 2/07 This was our 3rd cruise in the last 4 years. First was RCL-Explorer and second was Celebrity Century. I think Celebrity spoiled us for life. Definitely this cruise had pros and cons. We did enjoy ourselves very much, but don't think we will pick this type of ship again. First I will mention that we had 2 nights at the Condado Plaza, San Juan. When I was reading reviews, I was interested where people had stayed so that is why I mention it. Yes, this hotel is under construction, and we were apprehensive about staying there. I had emailed the manager ahead and he promised me that we would be taken care of including an upgrade. He sure did!!! We were very pleased with our room, were never Bothered by any noise like others had mentioned. The bed was the biggest we had ever slept in and the most comfortable, amazing! The views were great which is why I wanted to stay there, right on the ocean. The hotel staff knew me by name, and were always really pleasant and helpful. Hats off to the two reception people, I think they were Maryann and Evelyn...terrific!!!! Thank you Henry for looking after us like you promised. Your hotel will be beautiful when it's finished. On to the ship.!!!! Boarded early, 11:30, no long lines at all. All went smooth. The ship was clean and well maintained. Always someone was cleaning. Entertainment- Mike the CD was the funniest and the best we have ever had before this. He was such a natural and a born comedian. He was always out and about and did a great job at the Quest. The cruise director and his staff presented us with a routine called the "Fountain" I won't give it away for you upcoming cruisers...but don't miss it. Room- we had a last minute upgrade to a junior suite, aft. We really enjoyed the view and the balcony. Plenty of room and storage area for the 4 of us. Room steward Knight, did a fine job for us .He was always peeking around a corner for a quick hello or running down the hall to open the door for us. Very sweet man. My red dress was not returned with the laundry and after leaving him a note, it was placed in our cabin while we were at dinner. We did have one request that he could not accommodate, which was a jug of water in the room. We had the ice bucket daily, but water had to be ordered from room service and there would be a charge. I really started feeling nickel and dime to death when I heard that. About aft cabins- we had deck 7, and yes it had the funny structure, but we really thought the room and balcony were neat, so don't worry if you don't get prime spot being deck 9 or 10. We enjoyed watching the crew, the flag man each port and of course the view. We did spend quite a bit of time there each evening before retiring. We would order a bucket of beer for our room and enjoyed those on the balcony too. The crew quarters were within sight and heard them a few times. Nothing unpleasant, but we really enjoyed watching the couple early in the morning seeing the Pitons. It helped to add to our excitement in what we were viewing as well. They were sooo excited it was really neat. Dinning- this would be a major disappointment for all of us at the table. We really did not enjoy the windjammer, and there were nights when there really wasn't anything on the menu that interested us in the dinning room. The WOW factor was not there. By mid week, it did improve. The grilled porkchop was great, lobster was nice and tender, and the final steak they served was lovely. The soups were really good, really enjoyed them. I did have one night where the steak was awful and didn't eat much. Most food was served slightly cold instead of warm. Our head waiter Emry was by far the best we had ever had. He visited our table every night and did ask if we were enjoying the food. When we spoke up and said we were somewhat disappointed, he did say that they would be changing the menu soon. We used to be able to order things like shrimp cocktail every night if we wanted them. This time it was offered twice. We could definitely see how they are cutting corners. Our waiter was Mejit and asst was Roy. Both did a fine job and went the extra mile when they could. Terrific service. When Mejit knew we weren't too impressed with the menu, he offered us a surprise in our cabin the next day. Our table mates- lovely family from California expressed their likeness for chocolate covered strawberries. We all received a lovely fruit bowl and a plate full of dipped strawberries. Nice of him to do that, and much appreciated. Speaking of our tablemates, we have two girls and they have two boys the same ages. They put up with our girls and they all hung out in the evenings. We even ended up seated together for some of the shows and participated in family feud. Thanks Nancy for being such a great sport. Yes, we won the feud so it really made the night special!! Your family is wonderful. Nice to make new friends on a trip like this!!!!! Hopefully we meet again. Room service tip- we ordered chicken wings one night. Be aware, we ordered 2 orders and they asked for how many people. I replied for 4. We received 2 plates with 4 chicken wings on each plate. I guess they figured 2 each were sufficient. Not quite what we had in mind to go with the beer, but that is what we got. (Gee, another cut back???) No problem with the morning delivery of our coffee and tea for the balcony. How wonderful!!!! By the way, the O.J. in the windjammer is more like a water juice. If you want the real thing, freshly squeezed, it costs you $2.95 a glass. What you order from room service in the morning,it is real O.J. Delicious!!!! No charge. Ports- it was a very busy week but we loved it. First cruise all we did was shop. Second trip we had a few excursions. This one was all about the beaches!! And how sweet they were. Barbados had so much fun at Malibu break, taking the rum tour and we swam for hours on a lovely beach. Water was so warm and clear, it was great. (booked with the ship) St. Lucia was a day trip with Cosol tours. He is terrific and we had a great time. I loved St. Lucia. Hi-light was swimming at the beach between the Pitons....wow....beautiful. Our cabin was awesome for the early morning view of the Pitons. We happened to wake up right as they were right outside our balcony. How wonderful is that!!!!! Other reviews said they didn't get much to eat or drink. Cosol takes care of you the entire day. Plenty of food stops and drink stops. If you like to drink, it's all unlimited. Have as much as you want no worries. He really was a great host. We must of had 8 vans all in a convoy, and most stops we were all together. Food was set up at different places and they were only for Cosol tour people. Antigua we had to miss. Much too tired after our early morning rise for the Pitons and the late bedtime after staying up to watch the Quest. We hopped off the ship and wandered a bit and then spent the day having the boat to ourselves by the pool. We will have to do this island again. It looked very flat, unlike the other islands. St. Maarten we saved for our shopping and enjoyed the buck a beer by the water. It was a fun day for the 4 of us. We swam in the water right near where the boat was parked and still loved it. Very nice beach. St. Thomas we swam in Meagan's bay and lucked out with a lovely lady for our taxi driver. She gave us a mini island tour and went up to Mountain top to enjoy the view and of course have a banana daiquiri and then were dropped off for some shopping by the pier. This island I definitely want to return to. (As well as St... Lucia) Beautiful lush island with beautiful color flowers too. Loved it. Ask for Winifred when you need a taxi, she was super. Overall- the ship staff was great. Everyone really friendly. Very hard working staff. The captain is quiet entertaining, very funny with his comments. Menu selections were not always appealing, food was usually on the cold side. Missed the sandwich bar that had been on Explorer, so felt quiet limited with choices. Entertainment was not as good as we remembered it being on the Explorer, but it was enjoyable most nights. The RCL singers and dancers, were great at the dancing but there Singing was terrible. Simon Cowell would have had a hay day. Ice Skating show was terrific, and they had only performed it 2 weeks up to that point. Quest I slept through on the Explorer but made sure I did not miss on this one. What a hoot. So much fun. This ship really had a laid back attitude which we liked. They didn't make a big deal of the mandatory St. Thomas custom check or departure from the ship. Appreciated both. Some people had commented about the Puerto Ricans. We had no problems what so ever. All we met were very friendly so no issues there. So we loved the islands and the beaches, but did not have a lot of time to use what all the ship had to offer. With the kids being older now, I think its time we go back to Celebrity or try a Radiance style ship. We don't need the larger boats. We met a lot of really nice people and up to this, had only cruised with family, but really enjoyed our new tablemates. Met several fellow Canadians, and were of course welcomed with open arms. How nice. Adventure of the seas is a fun ship, so you shouldn't be disappointed in either itinerary. We take away another trip with great memories...and yes...we are going through withdrawal. If we had only brought Knight the stateroom guy home with us!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Pre-cruise: We spent two nights in San Juan at the Embassy Suites in Isla Verde. The hotel was in very good condition, and we took advantage of the 2 bedroom suites, which offered plenty of room--and the always favored two baths! We ate ... Read More
Pre-cruise: We spent two nights in San Juan at the Embassy Suites in Isla Verde. The hotel was in very good condition, and we took advantage of the 2 bedroom suites, which offered plenty of room--and the always favored two baths! We ate the first day at a local Puerto Rican restaurant 2 blocks from the hotel, Mi Casita, which was very reasonable in cost and provided a local dining experience. We also ate at the Outback in the hotel--about what you would expect, but favored by the kids. On Saturday, we rented a car and drove out to El Yunque (http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/caribbean/). It was an easy, well marked drive, and the trails in the forest made for a great day of hiking. La Mina falls was a hit. Footwear is definitely key--no flip flops on these trails. As there we were a party of five with lots of luggage, I was anxious about finding taxis for airport and port transfers, so I checked with several private car companies. We chose Fairway Transportation (http://www.fairwaypr.com/), which provided awesome service. We were met by the same driver for each segment, who was very professional and helpful. Having a vehicle waiting and avoiding the cab line was great for arrival and departure. Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal at 11:30 a.m., and the doors opened around noon. All went smoothly--we did on-line check-in and it worked great. We were in the Windjammer for lunch, and the cabins were available about 1:45 p.m. Cabins: We had connecting cabins, 1578 and 1584. The balconies were huge, and received much use over the week. Having a full lounge chair on the balcony made for much relaxing and reading--especially with the early departures every afternoon. The new bedding was very comfortable, and overall the cabin was very clean, and in very good condition. Ship: This was our first cruise on a "Voyager" family ship, and WOW! The space and flow of the ship was wonderful, and we did not feel crowded all week. There were waits for elevators at "seating times" for dinner, but otherwise, the ship seemed to spread the crowd with little pressure. Pool chairs were generally available, and seating was never a problem in the Windjammer for breakfast or lunch. We really enjoyed the Promenade, and the snacks and coffee at the Cafe Promenade were a treat late at night. Overall cleanliness was maybe a little less than we experienced on Brilliance on the Seas in 2005, but was still fine. Dining: We requested Main Seating dining, and a table for 6, and received both. Service in the restaurant was improved from our experience on Brilliance, and we found the food quality a little better as well. No difficulty finding a good choice each night. We tried Portofino's, which was well worth the $20 additional charge--the kids did Johnny Rockets that night, and all were happy! One new wrinkle was the "table salad" on two nights, which eased the flow of serving--it made a nice presentation, and even encouraged the kids to try some. Entertainment: The Ice Show is a "must see". It was remarkable how they managed on a small rink with so many skaters. The crowd loved it, and it was a very different experience at sea. Shows in the main theater were fair--average cruise show quality. There was a faithful crowd in the Schooner Bar every evening at 8:00 p.m. for "Name that Tune" with various themes--one team from Boston won four of the nights--very impressive! We also enjoyed Shane in the Duck and Dog late evenings--he puts on a great show, and drew a good crowd by the end of the cruise. Adventure Ocean: The 12-15 bracket had very little going on--the kids pretty much made their own fun--so much to do around the ship. Our son was in the 9-11 bracket again, and had done all the activities--but still went a couple of nights after dinner. The arcade was impressive, and a magnet for the kids--games range from 50 cents to $1--a budget is critical. Ports: The itinerary was a real draw for this cruise, and we tried to make the most of each port. --Barbados: We chartered the catamaran Shasa (www.shasacatamarancruises.com) for a 3 hour snorkeling sail with Capt. Jason, who really knew the waters and got us to great locations for both turtles and a wreck. We sailed the entire time, having driven up to Holetown to meet him, so we had lots of time on the water away from the crowds. --St. Lucia: My son and I wanted to fish, so we arranged a half day charter with Captain Mike's (www.captainmikescharters.com). They met us at the dock with the 31' Betram, rigged with 5 lines. The boat had a Captain and a fishing guide, and we had a great day. A couple of barracuda, but the big fish were deterred by the roughening seas from Hurricane Dean (more on that later....). --Antigua: We really enjoyed Eli's Ecotour (www.advantageantigua.com), which provided a great vantage and much insight about Antigua. We would have enjoyed a little more snorkeling, but the hike on Bird Island and the crawl up to Hell's Gate made for a memorable day. --St. Maarten: We had planned to rent a car and split the day between a lunch visit to Marigot and time at Orient Beach, but Hurricane Dean finally caught up with us. 25-35 knot winds and frequent rain squalls kept us on the ship and the port area. There were breaks where the weather cleared, but we were in and out of the rain all day. --St. Thomas: We saved our shopping for Charlotte Amalie, and had a successful day. Lunch at the Greenhouse, with excellent Conch fritters and wraps. Again, we had fairly strong winds, but a nice afternoon on the ship by the pool. Overall Assessment: We find Adventure of the Seas to be a remarkable ship, and would not hesitate to sail on another Voyager family vessel. The quality of the food and dining experience was improved from our last RCI cruise, which was welcome. This was our first time in a Grand Suite, and we find the balcony to be a real treat, but the rest of the suite amenities were just o.k. We did not use the Concierge Lounge, but did fine the Concierge, Ana, to be very helpful and approachable. What we noticed the most was the early departure time from all the ports--generally 5:00 p.m. It made for a short day, especially when the islands on this itinerary were in such close proximity. The ship generally sailed at no more than 6-8 knots through the evening, as the ports were so close. While main seating would have brought us back to the ship by 5:00 p.m. on most afternoons, we would have stayed in port later and used Portofino's or Windjammer to have stretched one or two days. For those with Late Seating, it seemed to make for a long afternoon. Again, having dedicated transportation for a group our size took a lot of worry out of the logistics--and was a better deal than using the luggage check service on the ship at $20 per person. As always, we learned a great deal from these Boards, and appreciate everyone's help and insights! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
We just returned from a great week onboard the Adventure of the Seas. Below is the start of my review, and my pictures can be seen here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mrskennedynd Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any questions! ... Read More
We just returned from a great week onboard the Adventure of the Seas. Below is the start of my review, and my pictures can be seen here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mrskennedynd Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any questions! Adventure of the Seas Review August 5-12, 2007 Pre-Cruise: Who we are: I am Jimmie, and I am 25 years old, and this was my fourth cruise (but first on Royal Caribbean). I traveled with my best girlfriend Liz (24), and this was her first cruise ever. We left the guys behind for this trip and had a wonderful girls' week out on the Adventure of the Seas! We began our journey on Friday, August 3. We live in North Dakota (me) and Montana (Liz), so getting anywhere fun is quite the process. We both flew to Minneapolis that evening on Northwest Airlines. After meeting up in baggage claim, we rented a little blue Chevy Cobalt from Avis and set off to find our hotel - the Holiday Inn Bloomington/MSP Airport (a fabulous Priceline find for a bid of $35). As previous travelers have complained, this hotel is not really that close to the airport, but it's right off I-35W, so it's really not hard to find. It was clean, felt safe, and the room was nice, so we really had nothing to complain about. After checking in, we drove the short distance to the Mall of America (Liz's first visit) for some last-minute shopping and a great dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. By the time we had finished dinner, we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel knowing we had a long day of travel ahead of us. As we got to talking that night, we came to the conclusion that we might have some big problems getting to San Juan the next day. First of all, President Bush was flying into Minneapolis on Saturday because of the terrible bridge collapse, which would certainly halt air traffic for a long enough time period to cause delays...and secondly, the Weather Channel was predicting thunderstorms in the Twin Cities area the next morning. We didn't want to chance missing our connection in Chicago, so we called American Airlines at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning and found out what our options were. Basically, our best chance for getting out of MSP earlier in the day was to go standby on a flight to Chicago at 7:40 a.m. Not a problem - we got to the airport in plenty of time, and were numbers 2 and 3 on the standby list. We got our seats, and happily arrived in Chicago in plenty of time to make an earlier flight to San Juan, as well. After a very long and uncomfortable (4 hrs and 40 mins) flight on a 757, we arrived in San Juan around 3:15 pm. It felt so nice to finally be there after so many months of planning and anticipation. We claimed our bags (thankful they all arrived together even though we went standby), and as others reported, they DO check that your bag tags and your baggage claim receipts match. So, don't throw those stickers away before they are inspected. Here's where our trip gets interesting and where we almost got scammed...haha. I knew from reading on CruiseCritic that taxi fares are regulated in San Juan, and I also knew approximately how much we should have to pay to get from the airport to our hotel, the Caribe Hilton. So, I was just as surprised as the next person when I stupidly allowed some guy who asked me if I needed a taxi to take our bags and load them into his unmarked (although quite nice) vehicle that his wife was driving. Liz and I got in the vehicle and told them where we were headed and asked how much it would be. The man said $45. I knew right then we weren't in the right kind of cab...haha. I told him no way are we paying that much, so he wanted to know how much we wanted to pay. I told him $15 or $20 and he wouldn't go that low. I guess he thought we'd just pay it since we were already in the car and pulling away, but Liz and I both looked at each other and said NO...lol. They screeched over to the curb and let us out of the cab. I don't know what they were doing...besides obviously running an illegal cab business. You'd think they'd at least undercut the tourism association rates by a few bucks if they were going to get any business. Anyway, scam avoided, we hauled our four bags back over to the OFFICIAL taxi stand (it's easy to find - everyone wears bright orange shirts) and we were given a slip of paper with a price of $19. Much better! The tourism association lady working the taxi stand was really nice...she showed us to a cab and told the driver where we needed to go. Everything worked out just fine...so traveler beware - don't get into a cab without a tourism association logo on the side of it! The ride to the Hilton was only about 15 minutes tops, but it was enough to make us both realize that maybe we shouldn't venture beyond the resort grounds on our own that night. (Admittedly, now that we've seen other nicer parts of San Juan, I'd feel much better...but the area around the hotel is not that great.) We checked in at the front desk, and I inquired about getting a villa room or an executive tower room. Much to my surprise, the clerk said we were already booked in a villa room (yay!). I should mention that we got this hotel on Priceline also, for a bid of $65. I should probably also mention that it was HOT and HUMID. I've been spoiled living in North Dakota for the past year, as we have practically zero humidity year-round...just standing in the open-air lobby at the Hilton about killed us...whew! We had to wait about 10-15 minutes for our room to be ready, and when it was, an absolutely wonderful bellman took us to the villa towers in a hotel minivan, and escorted up to our room, unloaded our luggage, and offered to get us ice and anything else we needed. Now I'm not completely from the sticks, and I realize that this is what bellmen do (haha), but this guy was SOOO nice and helpful...big-time kudos to him. After cooling off in the comforts of air conditioning and marveling at the view from our balcony, we decided to take a look around. First of all, our room was fabulous. It was clearly recently renovated...we had a gorgeous marble bathroom with separate shower and soaking tub. The bathroom even had a bidet (eww), but Liz made better use of it by rinsing the sand off her feet there...haha. We walked around the resort grounds, taking pictures, gawking at the ocean, and trying to decide where to eat for dinner. Had we had more time at the resort, we would have had a blast. The pool and beach area looked great, but by the time we got there and got settled, it was late evening and the sun was already starting to go down. The Caribe Hilton has several restaurants, most of which are pretty pricey and quite nice-looking. As a side note, the concierge desk has a large album filled with all of the hotel restaurant menus and prices, as well as menus for a lot of nearby places. We settled on the Palmeras Restaurant, which is very near the main lobby area. They have a special buffet each night, and that night's feature was the oriental buffet, priced at $30 each. The buffet did look appetizing, but we really didn't want to spend quite that much on dinner, so we decided to order off the menu. We both got the rosemary chicken breast. Wow...quite possibly the best chicken I've ever had...seriously. It was $17, the portions were huge, and it came with bread, vegetables, and your choice of potato. I honestly didn't expect much from a generic hotel-type restaurant...but they totally exceeded our expectations. Liz and I would both definitely recommend eating there if you have the opportunity to do so. By the time we finished dinner and got back to our room, it was about 8:00 pm. I'm sad to say that we were both so exhausted, we crashed and didn't get to enjoy any of the nightlife going on around the resort (there seemed to be plenty). Oh well...maybe next time! Embarkation Day: We woke up around 8:00 am and quickly got ready and checked out of the hotel. The nice thing about the villa tower is that you can check out right there at their front desk, rather than making the hike over the main lobby. The desk clerk summoned a cab for us (yes, a tourism cab this time!), and we asked to be taken to Old San Juan and dropped off at the Barrachina restaurant on Calle Fortaleza so we could take advantage of their luggage storage service. The taxi fare was around $15 and it was a very picturesque drive there. By the time we got there, it was probably around 9:30 a.m. and the restaurant was not yet open. However, there were a few people milling about, and we were able to determine where to take our bags. A very friendly employee took care of us and gave us claim slips for the luggage. I had read that the service was free and that they operated on tips only, but I can report that they now charge $1 per bag. We checked 4 suitcases and a backpack, and the fee was $5. Totally reasonable, and it appeared to be quite safe. None of the shops in Old San Juan were open yet on a Sunday (they open around 11 am, I believe), so we left the restaurant and headed down Calle Fortaleza in search of another famous restaurant - La Bombonera. I couldn't remember what street it was on, so we were sort of on a wild goose chase trying to find it until we went into the Hotel Milano and asked the front desk clerk. Fortunately, we were only about a block away (it's on Calle San Francisco), and it was quite easy to find, once we knew where we were supposed to go. We arrived at La Bombonera and drooled over their pastry display in the window before going in to be seated at a table. We both tried the famous mallorcas - a fried pastry filled with your choice of meat, eggs, and/or cheese, and all topped with a generous heap of powdered sugar. It might sound a little strange, but it was amazing. It was also budget-friendly - I think they were $3-$4 each. After eating our breakfast, we walked around Old San Juan for just a little while more before we decided it was way too hot and humid yet again. We walked back to Barrachina and claimed our luggage. It must have been around 11:00 a.m. at this point, and when the proprietor of Barrachina discovered we were headed to the ship already, he vehemently tried talking us out of it. He kept telling us it was too early, and that we wouldn't be able to board until at least 1:30 or 2:00. I'm not quite sure what his problem was, but we didn't listen. I walked about half a block to where the cabs were lined up, and secured a driver to take us to the Pan American Pier where our ship was docked. We arrived at the pier shortly after 11:00, and saw a line forming outside of the building. What may not be clear to everyone at this terminal is that you go to the front of the line to drop off your luggage, and then return to the back of the line to enter the building. It really should be better-marked, but there were several employees there directing people where to go, which was pretty helpful. We were about the 30th or 40th person in line, and we only had to wait about 10 minutes before the line started moving and we were inside! We filled out our SetSail passes online prior to arriving, so we went to the designated SetSail check-in area. There was no line at all, and we were quickly issued our SeaPass cards and were able to board the ship right away. We're so glad we didn't listen to that man at Barrachina! We were ?one of the first few on the ship, and it was so much fun! We were told the cabins wouldn't be ready until 2:00, so we set off on a self-tour of the ship, starting at the top. Keep in mind that this was Liz's first cruise, and I think she was in absolute awe of the ship and its massive size. We had a lot of fun walking around and taking pictures...however, we didn't get very far until we decided it was time for the first foo-foo drink of the trip! The closest bar was the Sky Bar, and we both ordered a Miami Vice. Anthony at the bar took great care of us, and he was very personable, but there was a problem with our SeaPass cards...they wouldn't scan. So, after being held up at the Sky Bar for about 20 minutes while they fiddled with our cards, they finally entered our drink charges manually and told us to go to Guest Relations to have our cards replaced. Why they couldn't have just done that 20 minutes earlier is beyond me, but hey...we were on vacation and nothing was going to spoil our fun! We continued our tour through the ship...it was pretty cool to be able to take pictures and explore before the ship got packed with over 3000 people. Once we got to the deck with the Guest Relations desk (Deck 4?), we stopped there to inquire about our SeaPass cards. They had a Guest Relations employee pre-screening passengers about what they were inquiring, assumedly to solve any minor problems quickly and prevent people from standing in line unnecessarily. When she got to us, we explained what happened, and we got a lecture about our SeaPass cards and how sensitive they are to magnets and other magnetic cards, etc., and how we should be more careful with them. Funny, though...we'd only been issued the cards an hour before, and they hadn't been anywhere but our pockets since...not anywhere near any other cards, magnets, etc. Oh well...we got up to the desk and a WONDERFUL guest relations employee (can't remember her name!) totally apologized for the situation before we'd even said a word. She just took one look at the account and was able to easily fix whatever was wrong with it. It appeared to be just a computer glitch and we were off and running. She was so nice and had wonderful customer service skills...she even told us if we have any more problems with the cards (which we didn't), that we didn't have to wait in line...just come find her and she will fix the problem. This would be the first of many Royal Caribbean employees we encountered who were willing to go above and beyond without even being asked. After visiting Guest Relations, we headed over to the dining room to check out our seat assignment. We had Table 251 in the Vivaldi (lowest-level) dining room on Deck 3. We searched and searched for table and were having a hard time locating it, until we realized there was a side room off to the right side of the dining room...La Notte. We found our table, which turned out to be a table for 12 (geez), and affectionately referred to our secluded little dining area as the "reject room"...haha. I'd never been seated at such a large table before, and was hoping we'd have friendly tablemates. By the time we finished our ship tour, it was almost 2:00, so we headed up to our cabin to check it out. We had #8445, which was a Category N inside. Prior to this trip, I have only cruised with a balcony, so I was sort of dreading the experience with an inside cabin...but I have to say, it turned out just fine. I just felt a little detached from the world when I couldn't tell what the weather was like outside or when we were pulling into or out of port. We opened our cabin door, and found that the beds were pushed together and made into a king-size. We kind of joked that Royal Caribbean must have thought we were "together," rather than just friends...little did we know they really may have thought that (more on this later)! Other than the bed issue, the cabin was perfectly fine. It was in really great shape, minus a few stains on the carpet. We also felt that we had plenty of storage space and room to move around in for the week, which was quite obviously a plus. After seeing the beds together, I went off down the hall in search of our cabin steward, Castillo. (We found his name and picture on the card by the guest services binder in the cabin.) He was more than happy to separate the beds for us, and he was very friendly and capable throughout the week. Our luggage still had not arrived, so we decided to go up to the Windjammer for snacks and a beverage. The Windjammer was crowded, but there were still plenty of seats to be easily found. We filled our plates with some yummy desserts (the sugar free Key Lime mousse was awesome!) and grabbed a lemonade, then sat down by the window to people-watch and just take it all in. After snacking a bit, we headed back up to the cabin to check for our luggage...Liz's two bags had arrived, but mine were still nowhere to be seen. So, she was able to unpack, and then it was time for the ever-dreaded muster drill. The one thing I didn't really like about Royal Caribbean's version of the muster drill, is that we had no idea where our muster station was. There was a diagram posted on the back of the cabin door, but it didn't make much sense, and it didn't give a name for the place we were supposed to "muster"...haha. We asked Castillo where to go, and he said just to follow all the people heading downstairs, so we did. Turns out, our muster station was the dining room...would have been much easier to find if we had known where we were heading! The drill itself was quite painless. We headed back to the cabin to put our life jackets away, and discovered my luggage had finally arrived! We unpacked, lounged around the ship some more, then went up on deck for the sailaway party. It was so much fun, even though we did more watching than participating! The crew members had a large number of people doing various line dances...the calypso band was pretty good, as well. By then, it was time for our 8:30 dinner seating. We made our way to the dining room, unsure of who we'd find at our table. Admittedly, I was sort of hoping we'd either be seated with other women traveling together, or a wide variety of people. We were actually seated with FIVE married couples…four of which were honeymooners in their early 20s, plus another couple who looked to be in their mid-40s. Indeed it was a little weird, and conversation was pretty strained that night. Everyone was perfectly nice, but I'm pretty much convinced that Royal Caribbean thought Liz and I were more than just friends…haha. The food was also so-so that night…I had the Vidalia onion tart (more like quiche, which was excellent), the Tuscan tomato soup (decent), the shrimp ravioli (yuck), and some sort of apple tart for dinner (not that great). Liz had the melon and mango and the stuffed chicken breast, both of which she thought were excellent. After dinner, we had grand plans of going to the welcome-aboard show and to the Rock-a-Rokie karaoke, but we were so exhausted, we ended up going straight to bed. Oh, I forgot to add... our waiters were Mustafa and Ericson, with Mihai as our headwaiter. All 3 were great! Mustafa was from Turkey, and he was such a ladies' man...so charming! Ericson, from the Philippines, was his assistant. Ericson always performed tricks or told us jokes...he was a riot, and definitely our favorite! Mihai was probably the friendliest of all the headwaiters I've ever had...he came to our table each night to check on us and to make conversation. Was he fishing for tips? Yes, probably, but at least it didn't seem forced. First Day at Sea: We slept in this morning (yay!), and ordered pastries, cereal, and juice from room service to be delivered between 9:30-10:00. They called to let us know they were coming at 9:20, and were at our door at 9:30 exactly…talk about prompt service! Something I noticed, that I thought I should share: the room service breakfast cards that you can hang on your door the night before do NOT list any of the hot items that are available for breakfast, such as eggs, bacon/sausage, omelets, etc. However, if you look in the guest services binder in your cabin, there is a much more extensive room service breakfast menu. You will have to call them that morning to order it, rather than hanging the card the night before, but that information was good to know for when we wanted a larger breakfast. After breakfast, we put on our swimsuits and headed up to the pool. The pools were actually packed, but there were plenty of loungers to be found. We grabbed a couple on Deck 12, and laid out in the sun for a couple of hours, just reading and enjoying the tropical weather. Here's another bit of information I discovered: the Pool Bar and the Sky Bar do not have the same extensive drink menus that all the inside bars have. I ordered the frozen Key Lime Pie drink from a pool deck waiter, but I was unable to get it, so I "settled" for a strawberry daiquiri (good nonetheless!). Maybe everyone else knows this, but I didn't! :-) Around noon, we headed indoors to have the Brasserie 30 lunch in the dining room. They were advertising made-to-order pasta in addition to the regular menu. The pasta looked delicious, but I decided on the mulligatawny soup, the buffalo chicken sandwich, and the carrot cake pyramid for dessert. The soup was fabulous - I had no idea (and still don't) what mulligatawny soup was, but it was quite delicious…almost had a mustardy-curry taste to it. The sandwich was just okay…I should have gotten the pasta…and the cake was yummy. I think Liz had a Caesar salad, the cheeseburger and fries, and a peach crumble for dessert. She said the peach crumble was great…it was the waiter's recommendation, and it did look good! After lunch, we went back out to the pool for awhile, and then went inside to get ready for our formal night dinner we had reserved at Portofino. We took a few formal portraits before dinner (hardly any lines), then headed up to Portofino. I should qualify what I'm about to say by stating that we are both fairly picky eaters (neither of us eat very much fish or seafood), and I am extremely picky about what vegetables I eat. I admit that it was a little bit difficult for us both to find items on each course that we liked, BUT…what we did pick was quite simply amazing. I started with the shrimp risotto, then had the bean soup, the mushroom pasta, and the filet mignon. Liz had the eggplant roulades, the mushroom pasta, and the veal. Everything was so delicious, but our favorite was decidedly the mushroom pasta. It was served in a mascarpone cream sauce, and it literally melted in my mouth. By the time dessert came around, we were too stuffed to even think about it, but we did have a few bites of the strawberry pistachio panna cotta (me) and the apricot tart (Liz). I don't really remember our waiter's name, but Mary Grace was our assistant waiter, and she was awesome. She was really on top of things, as well as being super-friendly and seemed to really love her job. You should also know that after you've had dessert, they bring you out ANOTHER plate of chocolate-covered strawberries and petit fours, which we couldn't even bring ourselves to touch, so Mary Grace boxed it up and sent it back with us to our room. Our dinner there was fabulous, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone wanting an upscale dining experience. Once again, we had plans to go to the show and the nightclub after dinner, but after stuffing ourselves silly at Portofino, we pretty much just passed out and watched tv for awhile before falling asleep. (It was nice to get the Style network on the in-cabin tv...I got to catch up on my celebrity gossip and makeover shows...!) Oh well…vacation is for relaxing, right? Haha How could I forget…the CruiseCritic roll call party at 5pm on the first formal night! We met at the Blue Moon lounge, and we had a pretty good turnout (25-30, maybe?). Marvin from the cruise staff hosted the event, and Royal Caribbean provided canapes and lemonade/tea/water. They also did a raffle drawing for about 10 or 12 different prizes…I ended up with a Shipshape towel and Liz got a Royal Caribbean hat. It was a very nice event overall, and also fun to be able to finally put faces with names. Aruba: We woke up around 8:00 a.m. and turned on the TV to the bridge cam just in time to see us pulling into Aruba. We went down to the Windjammer for breakfast (still not that crowded) and tried to formulate a game plan for the day. Prior to the cruise, someone on the CruiseCritic Aruba board mentioned how great the Spa del Sol at the Manchebo Beach Resort was, so after checking out their web site (www.manchebo.com) we decided to book spa services for our day there. Soraya, the spa receptionist, was the one we corresponded through e-mail with, and she was awesome when we got there, as well…so very welcoming and pleasant. We disembarked the ship and walked the short distance to the bus station. There are signs by where each bus stops letting you know where the bus is headed. This probably won't make any sense to you before you get there, but the bus to Eagle and Palm Beach is the one that stops on the far left side of the terminal. Check the white 8.5x11 sign posted there to make sure. The fare is $1.30/pp one way or $2.30/pp roundtrip. They do take US dollars, and they will make change if you need it. Our driver was very nice, and he gave us our transfer ticket for the return trip. Getting to the Manchebo Resort was a little bit confusing. I knew beforehand that it was near the Alhambra Casino, so when I saw the bus stop near the casino, we got off there. It was on a little side street about 100 yards from the corner where the casino and the Tamarijn Resort are. We crossed the street and walked into the Dunkin Donuts next to the casino to ask for directions to Manchebo. Turns out it was just right behind us…there is a smaller street that runs parallel to the main street in front of the casino, and the resorts are along there. We arrived at the resort, and although it's a fairly small property, it was absolutely beautiful. We followed the pathway signs to the Spa del Sol pavilion, and Soraya greeted us warmly. Even though we had about 2 hours before our scheduled services, Soraya was able to give us lockers, robes, and anything else we needed, including a nice glass of delicious pineapple juice. I have to say here that Eagle Beach was BEAUTIFUL…I have never in my life seen such a gorgeous, perfect beach, and I've been to the wonderfully picturesque Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (my favorite until this trip). Soraya had mentioned to us that chairs and umbrellas at the resort were $5 each, so we headed over to the beach attendant. He wanted to charge us $8 each, so we declined upon principle. I know that it sounds silly to fuss over $3, but we were only going to be there about an hour, and there were plenty of places for us to sit and put our stuff for free over by the spa. That's the one thing I wish - when we're spending big bucks at the spa, it would be nice to get resort guest privileges for the chairs and umbrellas, at least. So, we dropped our towels under a palm tree and headed for the water! Seriously…amazing. There were no rocks, seaweed, or anything. I didn't even see a fish. So, it's probably pretty rotten snorkeling, but that was okay. The water was a crystal-clear turquoise, and the sand was powder-soft white. If I ever get the chance, I will definitely be back to Aruba and will definitely be staying at a resort on Eagle Beach. We returned to the spa a little while later, and used their showers…too hot to use the complimentary jacuzzi. Shortly thereafter, it was time for our spa services. I booked a 50-minute relaxation massage, which took place in one of the open-air beachfront cabanas. I felt like a celebrity! Liz had an eyebrow wax and a French pedicure, which she said she really enjoyed. My massage therapist, whose name escapes me, was very good. Our CruiseCritic roll call friends Ben and Judy were also there for massages, so it was nice to see them again and chat for a bit. After our spa treatment, we took the bus back downtown. The bus stop to return is much easier to find. Soraya drew us a little map, and there is a closer stop nearer the casino than where we stopped earlier. The bus came within 5 minutes of our arrival, and we were back downtown probably 10 minutes later. We walked around and did a little bit of shopping for about an hour, then decided we were hungry. Rather than eat in Aruba, we decided to just walk back to the ship for a late lunch in the Windjammer. After eating, we headed to the nearly-empty Solarium pool and lounged around there for a couple of hours, getting in some more sun for the day. I really, really enjoyed Aruba and wish we could have spent more time there. Is there a cruise that stops there for a couple of days? :-) Before dinner, we participated in the Majority Rules game show (we didn't win…), then returned to our dining table for the first time since embarkation night. I was sort of dreading it, since conversation was so difficult the first night, but it turns out we had nothing to fear! Two of the honeymoon couples did not show up again, and we had a new honeymoon couple, Dan and Amanda. Turns out their flight to San Juan had been cancelled and they had to join the ship in Aruba…boy, do they have stories to tell their kids someday about their honeymoon adventures! They were super-nice, and we really got along well the rest of the week. The table dynamic was much-improved. I think on this night I had the Caprese salad, which I did not like, the roasted garlic soup (good), and the chicken marsala (very good). I don't recall what I had for dessert that night. Liz had the scallop risotto with no scallops (haha), and the chicken marsala. We were both pretty pleased with the food that night. After dinner, we FINALLY made it to some entertainment and went to see BeatleMania. I was not expecting much, but these guys were awesome! They performed near-perfect covers of Beatles songs, and they really had the crowd moving. I think some of the baby-boomer crowd forgot they were cheering for a cover band and not John, Paul, George, and Ringo. (haha) The crowd loved them so much, they came out to do two encores, which was definitely not planned, because the sign language interpreter had to get new lyrics before they could start! They were, quite possibly, the best cruise ship entertainment I have seen. If you get a chance to see them, definitely go! Curacao: In Curacao, one of our fabulous roll call members, Sandytoes (Kris), had organized a private bus through Blue Angel Tours to take 16 of us CCers to Playa Porto Mari. We had prearranged to meet on Deck 2 by the Screening Room, then we all went out and disembarked the ship together. Our air-conditioned bus was waiting on us and we all loaded in, along with our guide Noosha (sp?). She was very sweet, and gave us a wonderful tour and Curacao history lesson all the way out to Porto Mari, which was about a 30-minute drive. We had the option to add on a city tour at the end of our trip for an additional $8/pp, but we all declined…we were so tired by the end of the day. May I just say right here that if you are planning on renting a car and driving yourself to Porto Mari, don't…unless you are already familiar with the island. Nothing is marked…there are hardly any road signs, and we even went over some questionable "roads" on the way there. I really would not feel comfortable driving all that way, unless I knew I had a good map and good sense of where I needed to go. Otherwise, the roads and traffic in Curacao in general were probably the easiest to travel on out of all the islands we visited (drivers are just crazy in St. Maarten and St. Thomas!). Playa Porto Mari was just like the pictures. (www.playaportomari.com) It was very scenic and remote, just as we had expected. When you first walk in the bar/restaurant is on your left, and the dive shop and restrooms are on your right. We were one of the first groups to arrive for the day, so we had our share of loungers and umbrellas to claim. Shortly after our arrival, a beach attendant came by to collect the entrance fee ($2 each) and the lounger fee ($3 each). Umbrellas are free, and are first-come, first-serve. Liz and I went up to the dive shop to rent snorkel equipment ($9 each)…the mask and snorkel were good quality, but the fins were bent out of shape and made it difficult to maneuver with them. This beach area is an EXCELLENT beach for snorkeling (more on that below), but maybe not so much for just bobbing in the waves, since there is a lot of coral and sharp rock in the shallow areas. However, once you get out to about 5 ft deep, there are large sandy spots that are much better for just hanging out. Just about the time I was ready to start snorkeling, it started to rain…and rain…and rain some more. It downpoured hard for about an hour, I'd guess. Most people didn't mind - snorkeling and swimming continued, but Liz and I waited it out under our umbrella laughing at our bad luck. Fortunately, our bad luck didn't last long, as the sun finally came out (and stayed out) a little bit later. I started snorkeling around, trying to find the underwater snorkel trail they have, marked by the reef balls. If you're not sure what reef balls are, look on Porto Mari's web site…it's quite informative and really pretty cool. I never finished the whole trail, as it was quite long and the water was a little too choppy, but what I saw was really cool…all sorts of beautiful fish and sea life. Supposedly there is some fire coral out there, but I never saw any. The people at the dive shop will give you a map of the snorkel trail to get you started…but it's kind of difficult to follow once you're in the water…they should plant some sort of sign or arrow on the bottom directing you which way to go to follow the trail (is this even possible?). After snorkeling for a while (Liz stayed in the shallow area), we headed up to the bar to get some lunch. At first, I was a bit shocked at the high prices until I realized they were in Netherlands Antilles Florins (NAF). The conversion rate to USD is $1.75NAF=$1.00USD, so things were quite cheap there, actually! I had the grilled Hawaiian sandwich (grilled chicken with pineapple and a spicy ketchup-like sauce) and a Diet Coke, and my total was $3.36 USD. Awesome…Liz had a grilled cheese sandwich (not like any you've seen before…much better, with lots of vegetables and fresh bread) and a soda, and her total was also around $4. You really can't beat that with a stick. They had burgers, all sorts of sandwiches, and dinners with chicken skewers, shrimp, and some Dutch items that we weren't quite sure about…had we been hungrier, I probably would have asked what they were, but a sandwich was sufficient, so we were set. After lunch, we laid out in the sun for a couple of hours, and proceeded to get fried (oops). (I was tan by the next day, so it wasn't too bad!) We met up with our CC friends in the bar about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to leave and had a great time chatting and talking about our cruise. Our bus arrived on schedule, and we got back to the port area around 3:00 or so. The total cost for roundtrip bus transportation was $15/pp. This was a pretty good bargain, considering some people have reported on CruiseCritic paying over $30/pp for a roundtrip cab. I also just wanted to say thanks again to Kris for organizing this wonderful tour! We had to be back onboard by 4:30, so we decided against going into town, and just did some last-minute shopping at the souvenir huts by the ship. Here's another little pointer for you—one of the huts there sells some local liquor brewed in Curacao…I don't remember the names, but one was a banana cream, and one was a pistachio cream. They gave out free samples, and the banana cream liquor was so smooth and delicious! I thought about buying some, but at $23 for a 750ml bottle, I decided not to. I later saw the same stuff at Le Gran Marche (supermarket) in St. Maarten for about ½ the price. Keep that in mind if you really like it! I think this is the day that we got back on the ship and ordered room service for snacks. Liz had the turkey sandwich, I ordered the chicken drummettes, and we got the chili dip and chips to share. Sandwich and chicken = good. Chili dip = kinda weird. Just so you know…lol. My memory is starting to get a little hazy here, but I think we just lounged around in the room that evening reading and watching tv before dinner. Dinner that night was good, and it was a menu that I have never seen before. For those of you who have seen the menus at www.thepreismans.com/Freedom_menus.htm, they have dropped the Caribbean menu, and replaced it with something different. Since I don't have it for reference, I really don't remember what I got, but I think I had a pork chop. I do remember about the dessert that evening - we did not have a choice, unless someone needed a low-fat or sugar-free option. Mustafa brought us all out a dessert sampler plate…and it was just okay. There was a rum cake, some sort of chocolate cheesecake, and another item that I don't recall. No one was really impressed with it, I don't think. However, before you think that I'm complaining, I'm really not. I just would have preferred something different, I think. The Love & Marriage game show took place this night, and we had the best intentions of going to it, but of course, we walked back to the room and decided sleep was calling our name. Fortunately, we were able to catch it on the in-cabin tv later in the week…it was very funny! (The guys had to write down their wife's bra size…one of them said 8A…!!) Second Day at Sea: After our busy days in Aruba and Curacao, we decided to sleep in until we woke up, which was around 9:30 or 10:00. As you may recall, we were in an inside cabin, so we put on our swimsuits and headed up to Deck 12, fully expecting to be able to lounge around by the pool and work on that tan some more! Well, we were in for a BIG surprise when the elevator doors opened on 12…it looked like a hurricane outside! The wind was whipping around, rain was pouring, and the seas were churning like crazy. We both just looked outside and laughed…how could we not have known? :-) We decided to head up to the Blue Moon on Deck 14 for a better vantage point of the storm…it was kinda funny watching people try to cross the deck in the wind…and some people stayed outside in the pools even though we were in the middle of a storm! Technically, I suppose, it was a tropical wave, and we were out of it by that night, but the ship really tossed and turned all day. I, for one, am especially susceptible to motion sickness, and I started to panic when I saw the way the ship was getting tossed and turned. Fortunately, however, I think either the combination of ginger pills and Target-brand Dramamine did the job, or, as my husband thinks…I've conquered my motion sickness! (I usually get sick with or without the pills, and I didn't even feel queasy…he thinks it's probably because we recently took up kayaking [in the last year], and maybe my body has adjusted to the constant motion on the water…I don't know…it just nice to not feel sick all day!) After gawking at the weather for awhile, we returned to the cabin to read…we both had picked up some great summer reading before the trip, and by this point, we were really engrossed in our books. Although I hate that the sun didn't even peek out once that day, it was also quite relaxing to just lay in bed and alternate reading, tv-watching, and napping…what a life. :-) At around noon, we headed up to Johnny Rocket's to try it out. It was quite the challenge getting in the door, as the winds had picked up and everyone was getting blown around! We made it inside, and our fabulous waiter (I really need to work on remembering names!) took great care of us. We both had the smokehouse burgers, along with the requisite basket of fries and onion rings, followed by Oreo sundaes. Also, for you Dr. Pepper lovers like myself (which is available nowhere on any cruise ship that I know of), Johnny Rocket's was the only place on the ship that had Pibb Xtra. I know it's not DP, but it was a pleasant substitute. Also, for the same price as a soda anywhere else onboard ($2.01 with gratuity), you got your drink in a giant Johnny Rocket's cup there…a better value, if you ask me. The burgers were absolutely delicious, and the fries/onion rings were just okay…I like seasoned, salty fries, and these were pretty bland. Our assistant waiter from the dining room, Ericson, was moonlighting in Johnny Rocket's that day as the dessert maker, so it was nice to see him during the day! Also, the staff performed the YMCA dance and they really got into it…so fun! After JR's, we went back to the cabin to take up our strenuous activities of napping and reading again for awhile. Later in the afternoon, we got a little tired of being cooped up, so we went to the covered area of the solarium and sat in the loungers and read some more. By then, it was time to get ready for formal night yet again. We got ready in time to go to the "Where in the World" trivia game in the Schooner Bar before dinner. As always, we didn't win, but we only lost this one by a point! We met a nice family from Fort Worth, Texas, there who helped us out in getting some of the answers right. At 8:30, we headed to dinner, where we were served the Crown & Anchor menu. I had the fresh fruit (yummy), the chilled apple soup (tasted like watery applesauce, but still okay), the pork chop (very good…and I stand corrected about what we ate the previous night…I have no idea now!), and the low-fat apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream, which turned out to be great. Liz had the fruit, the cheese tortelloni, and the black forest mousse. If I recall correctly, she and Amanda, our table mate, really thought the tortelloni was excellent. After dinner on this night, we made it to the show (yay for us for staying awake!!). We went to see Wilde & Hanes, billed as "dangerous comedy". They really were hilarious, and they did some pretty crazy knife and juggling tricks. However, what really made the show, was the 9-year-old kid volunteer, "Bryan from America" (only funny if you were there...hehehe). It was a definite must-see. We called it a night after the show, looking forward to the following day in St. Maarten. St. Maarten: We had to get up early on this day (around 7:30) so that we could disembark and meet our tour guide onshore by 8:30. We had a completely private tour booked with Beau of No Rush Tours. (www.norushtours.com) We had forgotten to order breakfast the night before, so I just called room service and asked for some pastries and juice…they were there within 5-10 minutes…very prompt service! Once onshore, I followed our guide's instructions on where to meet him, and we easily located Beau's girlfriend, Anett, at the designated meeting spot. Beau and Anett were so wonderful…they are both German, and I believe that Beau has lived on St. Martin (he lives on the French side) for the past 12 years. Anett, his girlfriend, has only been there a year or so, I think. (They met on the internet, and when she came to visit, she decided she loved it so much, she up and moved to the island!) Anett is also still learning English, but she is incredibly sweet and her English is much better than she thinks! We were driven around in their Nissan Quest minivan, which was impeccably clean and had a great air conditioner (thank goodness!). We started our day by going up to Guana Bay, where we took pictures of the Atlantic. There are beautiful photo opportunities there, and the pictures turned out pretty well. After leaving there, we ventured over to the Divi Little Bay resort. We all walked up to Fort Amsterdam, which is located on the Divi property. This is a pretty neat historic site, and you can get a picture of the old cannons pointed directly at your cruise ship…too cool! After spending some time at the fort and then walking around the resort a bit, we left and headed over to the Dutch/French border to take some pictures, and then on to the Cole Bay area. Beau asked if we wanted to buy anything like liquor, coffee, etc., and since we did, he took us to Le Gran Marche, an awesome supermarket there. It's pretty much just like any large supermarket back home, but the prices were great. Liquor was the cheapest here that I saw anywhere, and I picked up a bottle of Mount Gay and a bottle of Ponche Caribe for a friend back home. Beau also recommended Santo Domingo coffee, brewed in the Dominican Republic. Liz and I both picked up some for gifts. Total for my two bottles of liquor and can of coffee? $20 USD…it probably would have cost twice that in the tourist area, so definitely think about checking out one of the many local supermarkets while in the islands. Also, we're not smokers, but cigarettes were like $15-$17/carton here. I had no idea, but someone told us that they're over $50/carton back in the U.S., so if you need to stock up on cigarettes, St. Maarten is the place to do it! After our little shopping trip, Beau drove us over to Tri-Sport kayak rental in Simpson Bay. I mentioned earlier that I had taken up kayaking, and I really do love it, so Liz and I both wanted to give it a shot on the ocean. It was pretty windy that day, so the guide suggested we both get single boats instead of a tandem (for better control). I got in the water and started paddling around while waiting on Liz to get in her boat, but she just wasn't having it. It was pretty windy out there, so she wasn't comfortable at all. No worries, though…I was able to kayak around the bay for quite awhile on my own. It was tons of fun and there's lots to see. A word of advice for kayaking anywhere on the ocean: try to go perpendicular to the waves at all times. Kayaking parallel to those big waves can tip you over faster than you realize it's happening! Fortunately, I didn't tip over, but came close a few times! When I finished with the kayak, we still had about 20 minutes before Beau and Anett were due back to pick us up, so we walked across the street from Tri-Sport and Liz checked out the Bubble Tea place. She said it was awesome, but I'm not much of a tea drinker, so I couldn't really tell you. When we came out, we saw Beau and Anett, so we continued on our journey. The next stop was Mary's Boon Plantation beach resort. It's pretty close to the airport, and Beau wanted us to see it because it's rated as one of the best, most romantic resorts in the Caribbean. It did look pretty fabulous. The beach there was quite serene, and I could totally see myself spending some time there with my hubby! After Mary's Boon, we headed over to Mullet Bay Beach to spend a couple of hours. Beau's van is stocked with coolers of beer, soda, and water, as well as beach towels and beach chairs. He really is like an island concierge at your disposal…so wonderful! We toted the chairs over to the beach and found a nice spot. The water was sooo clear, and the bottom was perfectly sandy, except for on the left side of the beach where there were a lot of rocks, and snorkelers were seeing plenty of fish. Liz and I had been in the water about 15 minutes when I kept feeling a stinging sensation on my right arm…I kept looking around in the water, but couldn't see anything. I finally decided to just get out because whatever it was really hurt! Turns out I got stung by jellyfish, and I wasn't the only one! That pretty much did it for swimming in Mullet Bay, at least for Liz and I…my arm was starting to swell up, and I didn't want to get stung anymore. So, we made the best of it (the beach was beautiful), and I walked up to the beach bar (Daleo's Snack) to get some lunch. A gentleman at the bar suggested I rub sand on my arm, which really seemed to help the swelling. (It was completely fine by later that night, so all was well!) The folks working at Daleo's Snack were pretty cool…they had some great music playing, and the food smelled delicious! I ordered a plate of ribs with French fries ($7), and they were scrumptious! The only downside was I had to wait almost 30 minutes for them (there were several families before me who had placed large orders), but so worth it. One of the guys working there even offered me a free beer since I had to wait awhile. After we ate, it was time to meet Beau and Anett again, so off we went! Beau had the flight schedule for arriving planes at the Princess Juliana airport near Maho Beach, so we went to the Sunset Beach Bar just in time to see several of the "big planes" land. That was a totally cool experience…I'm a little bit of a commercial aviation nut myself, so it was especially fun to watch. Regrettably, there weren't any 747s landing that day (I think they only come in the winter), so we didn't get the big drama-show when one takes off, but we certainly had fun and got some great pictures nonetheless. After leaving Maho, we had about 3 hours left before we had to be back on the ship .We told Beau we'd like to get some shopping in downtown, so he dropped us in the very center of Philipsburg, and we were able to see and find just about everything we wanted. Liz found herself a pretty tanzanite ring at one of the cruise ship-recommended jewelry stores…I found myself plenty of sparkly things I like, but my problem is that I have uber-expensive taste, and a $7000 aquamarine-and-diamond ring just wasn't in the budget this time…imagine that! :-p I did find perhaps the best bargain of the cruise…five St. Maarten beach towels for $13. I don't recall what store I found them in, but they're all over the downtown area. They're not great quality (obviously), but they made affordable souvenirs for my 5 office-mates back home. I gave them out today, and they were really excited to get them! By the time we finished shopping, we were too beat to even consider walking back to the ship, so we hopped on the water taxi for $3/pp. We were somehow famished when we got back, so we headed down to the Café Promenade for some pizza and dessert…the peach cream tart was to die for! After eating, it was time to go upstairs and get ready for the dinner and the pre-dinner production show, "Can't Stop the Rock." (It seems like we were always eating on this cruise!) The show was just okay…it was a compilation of various movie themes throughout the years, and the song choice was just odd. Hard to describe, but it didn't have a smooth feel to it…very choppy and weird. Dinner that night was the Chef's Dinner menu. I had the cheese plate from the dessert menu for the appetizer, chilled peach soup, the prime rib, and a chocolate sampler dessert that was heavenly! (It had a white chocolate mousse, a flourless milk chocolate cake, and a cheesecake, I believe….yum.) Liz had the sun-ripened pineapple, the Thai BBQ chicken breast (which everyone reported was not that great), and the chocolate sampler. After dinner, we were off to bed again…another busy day ahead of us in St. Thomas! Oh, I guess I should also put in a bit more about Beau and No Rush Tours. Quite simply, the best tour we've ever taken, anywhere! Beau is very knowledgeable and EXTREMELY nice and personable. He will take you wherever you want to go on your tour - the places we went were places Beau and I had discussed prior to the trip that we were interested in seeing. Certainly if you are interested in more beach time or in seeing more of the French side, he will be able to accommodate you. We felt it was just perfect for what we wanted. I also left out one of our other tour stops - we stopped at the Turtle Pier restaurant by the airport, because they have 6- to 7-ft Caribbean carp just hanging around the dock because they get fed often. These were definitely a sight to see, and I wouldn't want to run into one of them while snorkeling, even though they are harmless! We would both highly, highly recommend Beau as a tour guide. He can take just about any size group of people, as he even has a larger van and a bus for groups over 6 and 12. We paid $60 each for the two of us for the whole day. The more people you have in your group, the lower the per-person price is...but, it was really nice just being able to do exactly what we wanted and nothing else! St. Thomas: I was in St. Thomas for the first time in March 2006 aboard the Zuiderdam, and it has since become one of my all-time favorite places to visit, so I was pretty excited we were going to return there on the Adventure. We were so torn about what to do there - so many fun things to choose from! After much debating, we both settled on doing an 11:00 a.m. Snuba dive through www.visnuba.com . After going through U.S. immigration in the dining room that morning, we went up to the Windjammer for breakfast around 8:30 a.m. This was the one and only time on the whole trip that it felt like there were 3000+ people on the ship - the Windjammer was completely packed and we couldn't even find a place to sit. We ended up sharing a table with someone else just so we could eat. Anyway, after we ate, we disembarked the ship and got in a cab headed to Coral World. The fare was $9/pp, and it was about a 15- to 20-minute ride there. Sandytoes and her hubby from our roll call also ended up the same taxi van, but they were headed to Sapphire instead of Coral World. It was nice to see them again! We arrived at Coral World, and per the e-mail instructions I had received from VI Snuba, we checked in at the ticket counter and paid for our Snuba, which included an all-day admission pass to Coral World. Liz had decided the previous evening that she did not want to do Snuba, but she still had to pay for it since she did not give a 24-hour notice. Frank was nice, though, and only charged her ½-price, even though their web site states that that they will charge the full $68 price if you cancel too late. We had some time to kill, so we walked through some of the aquarium buildings and the lorikeet garden at Coral World. It was pretty decent, but if you've been to Sea World or to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, you might be a little disappointed. Fortunately, I knew what to expect, so it was exactly as I had imagined it. Liz, on the other hand, had not really been to any larger aquariums before, so she thought it was pretty great. They did have some unique fish, and the giant spiny lobsters were incredible…I had no idea they got so large! I met Frank, our Snuba guide at the Coral World snack bar area at 10:45 as instructed. He tried to convince Liz to go ahead and try it out, but she didn't budge. She was pretty sunburned, so she just waited for me the whole time under the shade at the snack bar area. Frank was an excellent instructor and guide - he's pretty much the expert on Snuba, as he has taken over 40,000 people on dives since he and his wife started their business in the Virgin Islands. He's also a PADI instructor, which kind of gave him a little more credibility in my book. He was very thorough, and safety was his number one concern, which was nice. Turns out there were only 3 of us on the dive - myself, and a father/son combo from the Carnival Miracle, which was also in port with us that day. Frank was also with us the whole time, of course. We probably spent 30 minutes (at least) on shore going over all the safety rules and techniques for clearing your mask and relieving the pressure in your ears. I can't imagine that the cruise ship excursion spends that much time going over those important points. After we got in the water at Coki Beach (next to the Coral World aquarium), Frank took us out to about waist-deep to fit us with our masks, fins, and the Snuba weights and gear, then we had about another ½-hour to get used to breathing the pressurized air and to get used to controlling our depth with our breathing…too cool! (I definitely want to get SCUBA-certified now before my next cruise in March!) After everyone was comfortable, we started doing out a little deeper. We even passed a few SCUBA divers returning to shore! There were tons and tons of fish, coral, and all kinds of sea life. Frank even took me down to show me a moray eel hiding behind a rock. He was careful and showed us the things that are okay to touch and the things to stay away from. He also had an underwater camera with him, where he took a bunch of pictures of us that were posted on his web site for us to purchase. They can be seen here: http://www.visnuba.com/081107/index.htm . We were probably underwater around 30-40 minutes, and it was absolutely amazing. I loved being under the water swimming with the fish…it's an experience that I will always remember and that has inspired me to pursue SCUBA! I wish Liz had talked herself into trying it, especially since she had to pay anyway, but she was so wary of the water and of the "sea creatures," that maybe it just wasn't for her. I will say this to anyone who is unsure if Snuba is for them: You (and only you) are in complete control of your depth underwater at all times. If you think that 15- to 20-ft deep is too deep, that's totally fine. You can just hover around nearer to the surface, if you prefer. There is absolutely no pressure to do anything you are not comfortable with. That said, it truly was awesome and I can't wait to do it again someday (or actually dive)! After we finished with Snuba, it was around 1:00pm, and Liz and I decided to catch a cab to go downtown for some shopping. I think the fare was $8 each, but I don't remember exactly. What I do remember is the wild ride! It was one of those open-air truck cabs, and I don't think our driver drove below 60 the whole time…the posted speed limit was 10-20. Thankful to have arrived safely, we were dropped off by Emancipation Gardens and we walked to the main waterfront area. After stopping in at a few souvenir stores (including finding some Swarovski goodies!), we made our way around to the 19th Hole Bar, which is located in the Royal Dane alleyway shopping mall. I had visited this bar on my previous trip to St. Thomas, and it's just a wonderful little place. It's run by a retired couple from Dallas, and I think they said they have been living in St. Thomas for either 16 or 18 years now. They are so sweet, just like the nicest little old grandparents, and they make a mean Bushwhacker! After our lovely conversation with them (and an equally lovely drink), we continued on our way shopping. After another while, we decided we were hungry when we stumbled upon another alleyway dive, the Giggling Gecko Bar & Grill. The bartender/waitress was also from the mainland U.S., and she was super-nice, as well. We both had lamb gyros with homemade cucumber sauce and a BBC (Banana Bailey's Colada). Yum! The food and drinks were fabulous! I should also mention that you shouldn't really expect anything in St. Thomas (or Puerto Rico, for that matter) to be cheap. The tourist areas definitely have tourist prices…but we were expecting that, and felt that everything we had was worth it. After stumbling out of the Giggling Gecko, we decided to head back to Havensight and do some shopping there before returning to the ship. Cab fare was $4 each, and might I just say that cabs were more than plentiful. Every time we turned around downtown, someone was asking us if we need a taxi. Enough already! We walked (or should I say we teetered and giggled) our way through several stores in the Havensight Mall, where, as Liz says, the alcohol made her loose enough to buy a pair of tanzanite earrings and a beautiful aquamarine ring. Again, I saw plenty that I liked, just not anything that was even remotely close to being in my budget! (Darn my expensive taste…) After seeing all the pretty jewelry that Liz bought on the trip, neither of us really know if she got an unbeatable deal or not, but the important thing is that the jewelry she got was good quality, she really liked it, and she felt like she got a fair price. We returned to the ship, exhausted as usual (haha), and just kind of lounged around until it was time to get ready for the farewell show that was held before dinner in the Lyric Theater. This was the weirdest show…it started with a comedian, whose name I don't recall…he had some funny parts, but I think he didn't expect to see so many children in attendance and he had to clean up his act at the last minute. It seemed like he was just taking up time trying to figure out something to say. After his act, it was Duel Ignatov, a Russian couple who did this crazy mime-hula hoop-contortionist act thing. Oh my, that was strange, and really not that entertaining. Apparently they were the headlining act during the welcome aboard show, which we missed…thank goodness. After the show, we went to our final cruise ship dinner, where we said sad good-byes to our wait staff and our new friends. This night's menu was the Feast of Nations, and I had the table Caesar salad (very delicious), spinach dip (good, but weird with carrots in it), the onion soup (decent), the grilled NY strip steak (good), and I tried both the frozen banana custard and the key lime pie for dessert. The pie was amazing, and the banana custard would have been better if it hadn't been half-melted by the time we got it. I think Liz had Caesar salad, spinach dip, NY steak, and the brownie madness. She liked everything she had, but the brownie dessert looked pretty uninspiring. After dinner, we headed back to the cabin to pack and set our luggage out by midnight. We discovered on the very last night while setting out our luggage that Amanda and Dan, our tablemates, had the cabin right next door to us! How we managed to go the whole week without seeing each other was amazing, but we thought it was quite funny. Disembarkation: We were assigned Group 2 for disembarking. Let me talk about the one big thing that RCCL did not do right - disembarkation. First of all, we received Pink 1 baggage tags and little slips of paper that said we were in Disembarkation Group 2. I was a little confused by this, so I asked our cabin steward if we need to listen for Pink 1 (like on all the other cruise lines I have been on), or Group 2…Group 2 it was. The colored tags were given out by floor, rather than by departure time. I then asked him if he had a list of approximate times the groups would be called off, and he did not. That's the big thing I really missed from my previous cruises - the night before disembarkation, we would always be left a sheet of paper detailing the approximate times each group would be called. That way, I would have known if we needed to switch our group for an earlier or later departure, based on our flight time. Well, we had a 2:20pm flight, so we weren't exactly worried about missing our plane, so we just decided to stick with Group 2. Oh, here's another little minor beef with disembarkation procedure…never did I see anywhere where it was announced what time we had to have our bags out in the hallway. We just assumed midnight, because that's what it's always been in the past, but I never saw it printed anywhere. Okay, so the morning of disembarkation we got up around 7:00, and vacated our cabin before 8:00am as requested in the daily Compass. We went down to breakfast in the dining room, and had one last delicious meal on the ship - I had banana pancakes and bacon…yum! While we were in the dining room, no announcements came over the p.a. system, so we just assumed they had not started disembarkation yet. So, we went over and found a place to rest by the aquarium near the loyalty ambassador's desk. Next thing we knew, they were calling Group 4 to leave. We were a bit confused, so I asked someone sitting nearby if they had called Groups 1-3 yet, and sure enough, they had. They just didn't play the announcements in the dining room. Oh well, no harm done, but it just didn't make a lot of sense to me. We exited the interior of the ship, only to find an extremely long line out on deck to actually exit the ship into the terminal. It was only around 9:30am at this point, so we had nothing to do but wait, but I know a lot of people with earlier flights were starting to get nervous. It took us about 30 minutes to get through the line, but as it wound back through the inside of the ship just before we exited, there was a large group of VERY RUDE people who thought it would be okay to cut in the front of the line right there, rather than waiting in the long line with the rest of us. One lady in particular cut right in front of me, pushing and shoving her way through…then when we got outside, she threw her gum away by just tossing it out onto the walkway. The audacity and rudeness of some people just blows me away! Anyway, once we got into the terminal, it was pretty easy to locate our luggage in the Pink section. Liz's luggage is black-and-white patterned, so it stands out in the crowd. Mine, not quite as easy…plenty of black Samsonite bags out there! We grabbed our bags and headed out to the taxi stand. We were hoping that they would just cram as many people as possible headed to the airport in these large van and SUV cabs, but they didn't…I'm sure they get more money doing things this way…haha. We arrived at the airport by 10:00 a.m. and zipped right through Delta check-in and security. We must have arrived before the big rush, because we were expecting mayhem and didn't have any of the hassles I had read about in San Juan. By the time we reached our gate, we effectively had 4 hours to kill before our 2:20 flight to Atlanta. It actually went by a lot faster than we expected, and it also helped that two of our other tablemates, Dawna and Michael, were waiting with us for the same flight…so at least we had someone to talk to! We were able to take off on time, and one of the reasons we flew Delta back instead of American (they were the same price), was because we were flying in a 767 and we were able to get exit-row seats! To me, the ride was extremely comfortable…the bigger the plane, the smoother the ride, and it was quite nice. It was also nice to have the exit-row, even though it was a bulkhead, which meant we couldn't see the movie screen. We landed in Atlanta on time, and had about 2 hours before our connecting flight to Minneapolis. We had dinner with Dawna and Michael at Popeye's Chicken (I've been craving it ever since moving away from Oklahoma last year!), then went to wait at our gate. We arrived back in MSP with no incident and took the shuttle to our hotel for the evening, the Marriott Springhill Suites in Eagan. If any of you are staying in the Minneapolis area, I would highly, highly, highly recommend this hotel. We got it on Hotwire for $67 with tax, but I think their regular rate is only around $85. The beds have the new fluffy bedding (much like Royal Caribbean), and there are two queen-size beds in the studio suites. Soooo comfy! They also have a complimentary hot breakfast and airport shuttle. I took the shuttle back to the airport early the next morning, and flew Northwest home on a very bumpy ride back to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Hubby picked me up at 10:30 a.m. and it was so nice to finally be there! This might have been the only cruise I have ever been on where I was ready for it to be over when it was over. Not to worry, it wasn't because the cruise was mediocre or I wasn't having a good time - it was because I hadn't seen my hubby in over two weeks, since he was away presenting at a scientific conference in New Hampshire the week before I left for the cruise. It was so good to see him again! Post-Cruise Thoughts: This cruise, without a doubt, was full of the best-dressed passengers I have ever seen. I noticed in Sandytoes' review, she mentioned she thought it was quite casual. In our experience in the dining room, even on casual nights, the majority of the women wore very dressy outfits (not formal, just very nice). Sure, there were the occasional folks who wore jeans or shorts, but from what we saw, these were few and far between. I don't really know what else to say, except to reiterate what I told KillaFee on an earlier post in this thread. Everyone has asked me which cruise line I like the most now that I have cruised on Princess (twice), Holland America, and Royal Caribbean. I really don't know if I can choose a favorite - I like the anytime dining concept on Princess, and I like the classy feel to their ships. However, I don't like how every single one of their ships are decorated exactly the same…kinda boring to me. On Holland America, I think their service is second to none (I still have to try Celebrity), and I also really enjoyed the full-size bathtub in a regular balcony cabin. Royal Caribbean was great, as well. I think the Voyager-class ship design with the Royal Promenade is something to see, and I also thought the food was excellent. I mentioned before that I'm a picky eater, and it was pretty easy for me to find something that I enjoyed for each course every night. The food in the Promenade Café, as well as in Johnny Rocket's, was also very good. It was also nice to be able to get lemonade and fruit punch in the Windjammer, since I drink water at all the other dining venues. Additionally, Liz really enjoyed the self-serve Seattle's Best coffee in the Promenade Café. I know a lot of people have complained about so-called "issues" on the Adventure sailing from San Juan, but I can truly say that we did not experience anything negative that I would perceive as related to the clientele on the ship or sailing from San Juan in general. I wouldn't hesitate to sail from here again (or on the Adventure). We really had a great time. I don't know if I've converted Liz over to cruise addiction yet, though. She kind of discovered that she wasn't much of a beach/water person on this trip, but she did say that she really enjoyed the cruise overall, and might enjoy a trip to Alaska better than in the Caribbean. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! Also, for those of you who made it this far and want to see the pictures without scrolling back to the first post, here you go: http://picasaweb.google.com/mrskennedynd/ (my pictures) http://www.visnuba.com/081107/index.htm (St. Thomas Snuba pictures) Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Who we are: I'm 28 y.o. single straight female, my friend 31 y.o. single gay male. PRE CRUISE: Flew to San Juan Saturday and stayed at the Intercontinental right next to the area on the Beach of Isla Verde. Nice hotel, not as good ... Read More
Who we are: I'm 28 y.o. single straight female, my friend 31 y.o. single gay male. PRE CRUISE: Flew to San Juan Saturday and stayed at the Intercontinental right next to the area on the Beach of Isla Verde. Nice hotel, not as good as I thought it would be. The best part about this hotel is that it is right next to the El San Juan Resort and Casino—where they have an awesome dance club called Brava. The place was packed with both locals and tourists and it was definitely dress to impress. It was $16 for men and $11 for ladies to get in, and drinks were pricey at around $7 each for a basic drink. I highly recommend this club for the younger set (20's crowd) if you are looking for a cool place to hang out. EMBARKATION: Taxi to the pier was about $20 and we checked in around 11:45 a.m. It's obvious where you stand in line to drop off your luggage before going into the building. You better have some $ to tip the baggage handlers because they are not shy about holding out their hand. This seem very well organized. We didn't have a chance to print out set sail pass, so we just had to sit down for a minute and right out our card info. There was no line, and we were able to check in within 10 minutes. As soon as we got on the ship, the first thing we did was check out dining room assignment, which was fine in the Vivaldi room. We then went to the purser's desk and they were so kind and were able to print out each night's menu for us because we wanted to find out what day we should do Portofino's. We opted to do that on Caribbean night. We then left the ship and took a taxi to Old San Juan ($12) and walked around a bit and went to El Castillo. We went back to the ship at about 4 p.m. and our luggage was already at our room. The rest of the night we explored the ship, went to dinner, went to Jester's and the casino. The show was Beatles Mania, which besides the ice show was the best. DAY AT SEA: I woke up before my friend and grabbed a coffee at SBC, booked our Antigua excursion and got the ice tickets (they start distributing at (9:30 am in front of Studio B—there was already a line when I got there right at 9:30!) My friend got up and we had breakfast in the Windjammer, then went rock climbing and did rollerblading. For both activities you must fill out a simple release form and for the rock climbing you only have to do it once for the whole cruise, they punch your card for this. The rest of the day we spent at the pool, casino, and we went to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire Game and Rock Band Karaoke in the Imperial lounge. Later we saw the show which was a Russian contortionist duo act and a comic. The comic was ok—but I've definitely seen better on Carnival. BARBADOS: We had signed up for the Snorkel and Shipwreck excursion and I THOUGHT we had signed up for the powerboat instead of the catamaran. Well, when we got to Port they put us on the bus that took us to the boat docks and it was a catamaran. I was a bit disappointed, as I would prefer a powerboat (it's much faster) and I wanted to be with the turtles before everyone else got there. No big deal—we made it to the turtles fine and it was a great experience. Then, they took us out to another spot right off the beach and I was able to go over a shipwreck, which apparently went down in the 1960's. After that, they took us to a small beach where we had to jump off the ship and swim over there, that was for about 20 minutes. This excursion was OK but I would not do it again. I found out from our dinner mates that they had swam with the turtles too, but just took a taxi over there for about $20 round trip. So I know next time I will do that instead of paying $60 for this excursion. Back on the ship we decided to go to Johnny Rocket's which was AMAZING and totally worth the cover charge, and so we consequently missed dinner that night in the dining room. We also went to the theater and the comic was there again, supposedly to do the "adult" show—but it was not adult enough in my opinion. I really didn't care for this guy, it was not raunchy enough!! ST. LUCIA: We booked the Cosol Tour which was so highly recommended on these boards and I am glad we did it!! Definitely one of the best tours I have ever been on. Almost everyone in our group was from Cruise Critic. We toured the whole island and got many photo ops all over. We saw the banana plantations, botanical gardens and waterfall, volcano, several villages, and swam right beneath the pitons. Cosol has this tour down to the tee—very well organized. He served us bananas, coconut milk, fish cakes, all kinds of fruit, fresh baked bread, rum punch (REALLY GOOD), and Piton Beer. The cost of the tour was ONLY $50 which you pay at the end. Please do this tour and don't go on one through the ship!!!! That night we went to the dining room and the best thing about the dinner was the banana crème brulee. We did "The Quest" which was fun—but again, not as "adult" as I thought it would be and went to the show "Las Vegas Jackpot." This show really sucked bad—I couldn't stop laughing and/or falling asleep. We walked out. ANTIGUA: Here we did the Canopy Tour which is zip lining through the rainforest—SO FUN!! We had the last tour, which left the port at 12:15 pm which was fine with us because it had rained in the morning. Took a bus which took us up to the rainforest. When we got there, we had a brief demonstration and geared up. This consisted of about 8 zip lines, some short and some very long. At the end was a ropes/obstacle course which freaked me out more but I made it through. The last part was a free fall off the tree platform, not scary at all. The staff was very friendly and professional, they also had a snack shop and restroom area. This excursion was worth the $98. I've heard people say that the beaches in Antigua are not as nice, and that they wish they had done this excursion. DO IT! Got some great pics and videos here. Back on board, we decided to go to the pool and hot tub before dinner. Now, this was my first bad experience with the Puerto Rican's on board. At the main hot tub, kids ARE NOT allowed—this father had his 3 kids in there splashing about and when he was asked to have them removed by cruise staff, they really gave an argument and claimed not to speak English or understand what was going on. After about 5 minutes they finally got out. Kudos to RCI for enforcing the policy. We saw the ice show tonight and it was excellent. ST. MAARTEN: We rented a car from Budget ($60 including insurance) and this was perfect, because as soon as you walk off the ship the rental cars are directly around the corner to the right. We had no problem getting the car or finding our way around. This island is easy to navigate. We drove up to Orient Beach which was so beautiful and stayed there for about an hour. We then drove to the French side, and walked around Marigot where they have some neat European clothing shops. There is also a really cool graveyard here that we walked through. I guess we didn't realize that a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed down for low season. We ended up paying $29 for a lunch of ham/cheese croissant and chicken salad. RIP OFF!! Then we drove down to Maho Beach to watch the planes land and low and behold—they had an awesome beach bar right there with all kinds of food for cheap. Watching the planes come in was one of the coolest things ever! You must do this!!!! We saw an Air France come in from Paris and American from Miami, along with several smaller planes. They are literally right in front of your face and over your head. Driving back to Phillipsburg was rough—we encountered traffic here. If you plan to go to Maho, make sure you leave for the ship no later than 3 p.m. ST. THOMAS: This was a no brainer for me since I had researched beaches, so it was off to Coki beach. As soon as you walk off the ship they will ask if you want a taxi, and we were immediately placed on an open air taxi with about 12 other people all going there. The trip took about 15 minutes and was $9 per person each way. Coki is a small beach, but famous for their coral reef and shallow snorkeling. We rented the snorkel gear ($5 for fins, $5 for mask). They also had beach chairs to rent, but we just put our stuff on rocks and it was fine. THIS SNORKELING IS FANTASTIC!! Just like being in a fish tank. We swam around the whole reef twice, needless to say my whole back is sunburned. The beach was not crowded at all. However, I did wonder why some people even bothered with the snorkel equipment, and they were at the other end of the beach where there was no coral reef---I was thinking, "god, how can they miss this??" They seemed a bit stupid for not wandering to our end of the beach (which, looking at it is to the far right). On the ship I rock climbed again and that night we saw the Russian duo act and the "Can't Stop the Rock" show. Again, this entertainment was BAD!!!!!! We walked out. DEBARKATION: Since we had late afternoon flights, we decided to be the last ones off the ship, which was fine. No waiting in line at all. It was easy to get a taxi to the airport. The airport was the worse part about coming back. They really are slow at security and it is a "one by one" process of going through the metal detector. Be prepared to wait in line to check in for your flight and security. GENERAL THOUGHTS: THE SHIP: Huge and very well maintained. I had gone on Freedom of the Seas and this was just like it. ENTERTAINMENT: Bad. Not as good as Carnival. Ice Show was the best, do not miss. They need to fire their entertainment director. FOOD: Ok. The desserts in the Windjammer were better than the dining room. French toast was really good in the morning. The midnight buffet on the pool deck was great, as was the one in the dining room where the chef's showed off all their culinary expertise. SERVICE: Excellent. Everyone we encountered was pleasant, said hello and seemed genuinely interested in what we were saying. STATEROOM: #1535 10th Deck, interior handicap accessible. AWESOME! We lucked out on this buy not having an assigned room when we book. This room was 2X bigger than a normal interior. I would only take an interior again if I get this type of room. The beds were comfy, lots of storage space, large vanity area, many mirrors to get ready in. EXCURSIONS: Good. Don't book an excursion every day. Do some stuff on your own and you will not regret it. PORTS: Excellent. This was the best time of year to go—we were the only ship in port everyday. OTHER: RCI needs to get rip of their tipping system. It should all be pre paid and automatic upfront like Carnival does, which allows you the freedom to adjust how you like at the end. Digging up cash at the end of the trip really sucked and I had to go to the Casino to get more. This cruise was sold out, and I believe that is why there were generally less Puerto Ricans on board, unlike stories I've heard about the ship being overrun with them. Except for the hot tub incident, and a few kids running up and down the hallways, I experienced nothing bad with them. However, I did hear that the week before our cruise was AWFUL in this regard (it wasn't sold out). The clientele on this ship for the most part were honeymooners and married couples. Not too many families with kids and not a lot of singles. Most people were well behaved, yet I do miss Carnival in some regards, because with them I had met more like-minded single people my age. I would do this cruise again, but try the Aruba route next time. I would definitely want to go in a group, so hopefully I can persuade my other friends to give it a try! If you would like to see videos from the zip lining, planes landing at Maho Beach and the belly flop contest, then go to youtube and look up my user name "misseattle". Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Our cruise was from September 9-16 aboard the Adventure of the Seas. We had a party of 10 people - 6 from Ohio, 2 from Wisconsin, and 2 from Maryland. We all went down a day early (Sept 8) and we met up in the San Juan airport for the trip ... Read More
Our cruise was from September 9-16 aboard the Adventure of the Seas. We had a party of 10 people - 6 from Ohio, 2 from Wisconsin, and 2 from Maryland. We all went down a day early (Sept 8) and we met up in the San Juan airport for the trip to our hotel - Holiday Inn Express - San Juan. It was reasonably priced ($116) and suited our needs - I will warn you however the elevators are real small! After reading about the quality transportation provided by Fairway Transportation, I arranged for a van from Fairway to take us all from the airport to the hotel. They also picked us up the next day to drive us to the port, and they also were there to pick us up after the cruise for the trip back to the airport. Our driver was Nelson all 3 times - he was always on time, handled all the luggage for us, and was extremely polite and very professional. A special "thanks" go out to "Jorge" at Fairway for arranging all the pick-ups. Jorge was always willing to answer my phone calls and emails - I would highly recommend Fairway Transportation if you need reliable transportation in San Juan. On Saturday the day before the cruise we arrived at the hotel around 4:30 - we dropped the luggage in our rooms, then walked around for a while by the beach - it was only 5 minutes from the hotel. The area includes stores like Cartier, Gucci, etc. This area is really going upscale. We asked for recommendations for food and they suggested a nice Mexican restaurant - La Miriachi - it was close by so we could walk. Food was very good and cheap! We had a good time. Then we stopped by a convenience store to pick up some bottled water and Medalla (Puerto Rican) beer for the cruise. Nelson picked us up at exactly 11 AM for the trip to the port. We arrived, checked our luggage, and we were in line by about 11:25 AM. We are Platinum members so they had a special check in line - really saved us time. We were on the ship by noon, and enjoyed a nice lunch at the Windjammer. Then, three of us hopped a cab to explore Old San Juan ($4 ea.). Visited the Hard Rock for souvenirs and a cold beer, walked and shopped around, then visited San Cristobal Fort - really worth the $3! We were back on the ship by 4:00 - plenty of time for a quick pool dip before the dinner at 6:30 (the first night dinner was at 6:30 - the rest of the week it was at 6). We had great weather all week - mostly sunny and 85-88 degrees except for Monday morning which was breezy and cloudy. Our ports included Barbados - where we took a neat island tour with a cab drive named "Paul". He was very informative and a pleasure to be with. And, he only charged us $20 a person for a tour that lasted 2 1/2 hours. St. Lucia- don't go into town - it is a dump and everyone hounds you for money and there a a zillion tour operators bugging you as you try to navigate the streets. Book a beach tour or something through the cruise line - the walk into town was a real waste. Antigua - Nice visit - nothing spectacular - did not take a tour so I really can't comment much on the island. St. Maarten - Our favorite stop ! Take the water taxi to town - it is only $5 for an all-day pass. Did some shopping - bought the little lady a real sweet blue sapphire and diamond ring at the Venetian Jewelers (PS - they will deal with you). Went back to the ship (Windjammer) for lunch - then back to the beach for the afternoon. We love St. Maarten! St. Thomas - another favorite stop. Took the beach break to Trunk Bay for some swimming and snorkeling ($54). Had a real nice time - the visit to the beach could have been a little longer - you take a 45 minute ferry, then a 20 minute bus ride to Trunk Bay. You really only have around 2 hours to swim and snorkel. The ferry ride and the bus ride are pretty neat - entertaining and informative. Dining Room Staff - was great - we had Lucilio as our head waiter, and his assistant was also always there for our needs. Room - Our room person was Sharon, and she was excellent - always there when we needed something - we had a fun time with her, and she always had our room spic and span. Tipping - Folks - don't go cheap here....these people have families just like you and me. They spend months away from their family so that they can provide them a decent life - tip AT LEAST what is recommended if you are pleased - and more if you feel like it.... All in all - this was our 7th Royal Caribbean Cruise - and we have yet to be disappointed with RCCL. The food, the service, and the entertainment were all up to our expectations. If you want to go cheap - go Carnival. If you want to go CLASS - go Royal Caribbean - it is as simple as that! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
We just returned from a fabulous journey aboard the Adventure of the Seas to the Southern Caribbean ports of Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, and St. Thomas. We traveled Sep. 16-23, 2007, and the weather was perfect! We began our trip with a ... Read More
We just returned from a fabulous journey aboard the Adventure of the Seas to the Southern Caribbean ports of Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, and St. Thomas. We traveled Sep. 16-23, 2007, and the weather was perfect! We began our trip with a stay at the San Juan Intercontinental Resort and Casino. The hotel was booked through RCCL and although it was expensive, ($280/night double occupancy) it was very classy. We spent Sunday morning enjoying a delicious buffet breakfast, and then we lounged by the gorgeous pool, complete with rock waterfalls and a pool bar. Finally we noticed that over the boardwalk was the beautiful beach and sea! We then waited from 12:45 PM to 3 PM in the hotel lobby waiting for a pre-arranged RCCL transfer to the pier. This was the only bad part of the trip--waiting to be picked up for the cruise. We arrived at the pier at 3 PM. The lines were extremely long and we were skeptical, but nevertheless we were in our cabin by 4PM. We settled in and ordered our first drink of the day at the Gravity Sports Bar before taking our first tour of the ship. We fell in love with the giant vessel, being most impressed by the pool, spa, and ice-rink. By the time the early dinner rolled around, we were famished! We enjoyed a great meal with spectacular service by our waiter Sanjay and his assistant waiter Dick. They were both flawlessly polite and attentive. That night we enjoyed many drinks, a great comedy show, and some dancing at Jesters. We also gambled a little and my husband won about $100 in the slots. What a great night! :) On Monday, we were slow to recover from the previous night's drinking. My husband laid by the pool and I spent some quality time at the spa getting a great swedish massage by Juvi. Then we enjoyed afternoon ice-cream cones! On Tuesday we were in Aruba. We did the ATV tour, which I will remember as one of the funnest days of my life! We drove all over the island and got to see the beach, the national park, etc. I felt sorry for all the tourists trapped in jeeps, busses, or walking tours. This is a tour I highly recommend! On Wednesday we were in Curacao. We went kayaking and snorkeling. It was a nice tour and fun to be on a kayak on the rough waters of Storm's Pass. Snorkeling was only okay, but I think the site was not ideal. Thursday was at sea again. We love being at sea. It's nice and restful, but there are plenty of activities too. We ice-skated and I had a wonderful facial in the spa. That evening, I had a make-over by Danica in the cosmetics shop. She did a great job. I felt like a real princess for the captain's formal and the midnight buffet. On Friday we were in St. Martin. It was our favorite island. We spent time on both the Dutch and French side. We went on the Rhino Rider tour which was a blast. We also snorkeled which was great. The shopping was fantastic. We hope to return to this island for a long stay. On Saturday in St. Thomas, my husband did snuba and loved it, but I chose to shop. I found the shopping to be pretty much the same in all the islands. I didn't really find the bargains that I thought I would, though I did buy some fun replica handbags. Saturday night we had our final great dinner, tipped our waiters and stateroom attendants, packed our bags, and enjoyed one last night on the ship. It was a long vacation, but we loved it and highly recommend RCCL. It was top-notch service and very memorable! Our cruise director, Pierce Ivan was really entertaining. We saw most of the shows, but we enjoyed the comedy of Rodney the most. We also liked the show Fountains, which you just have to witness for yourself. It was very, very interesting! The ice-skating show is not to be missed. The food in the Windjammer was excellent, and we ate lunch there every day. Be careful not to get too full though, you want to save room for dinner! We met lots of great staff, with our favorite being "Minni" in the sports bar. She was very friendly. We laughed, danced, and ate alot, and we truly enjoyed the beautiful and romantic sailing. My husband bought me a beautiful caribbean topaz set with diamonds aboard the ship, and it is a beautiful memento of an amazing trip. Although we are happy to be home to our daughters, we loved our voyage aboard the Adventure, and we highly recommend this vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Hello Fellow Cruisers!! Well, we have just gotten off the Adventure after a FABULOUS week in the Southern Caribbean! In fact, we are sitting in the Starbucks in Old San Juan (Free Internet--WOO HOO!!) waiting for our 2pm Delta flight ... Read More
Hello Fellow Cruisers!! Well, we have just gotten off the Adventure after a FABULOUS week in the Southern Caribbean! In fact, we are sitting in the Starbucks in Old San Juan (Free Internet--WOO HOO!!) waiting for our 2pm Delta flight home to PHX. We've read lots of reviews over the last 6 months and we'd like to "pay it forward" to all of you getting ready to cruise. If you have any questions, let us know--we'll be happy to answers. The Cruisers: AZ Parrothead--4th Cruise--3 RCCL, 1 Carnival. Loves all things boats and water related. Mrs. AZ Parrothead--3rd Cruise--2 RCCL, 1 HAL (UGGG). Loves all things alcohol. Shopping queen. Sudoku Diva. MISTRESS OF TRIVIA!! NOTE: This is our second trip on the Adventure. We did the Barbados route last year and had a blast. Some of our comments will reflect our comparisons between last year's cruise and this year's. Also, we stayed 3 days at the Wyndham Rio Mar Resort in Luquillo precruise. Getting There: We left on Wednesday 8/29 on a redeye from Phoenix to Atlanta at 11pm. This was great because we didn't lose a day travelling and we got to drag my brother from his comfy bed to drive us to the airport at 930. Last year, we flew JetBlue redeye through JFK and the flight was late (in Typical Jet Blue Style). It was so late in fact that we had to literally run from terminal to terminal at JFK just to make our flight to SJU. I didn't even have time to Pee. This year, I vowed to experience the bathrooms in Atlanta so we booked a 3 hour connection there. It also helped that we got a screaming deal to San Juan--320 per person round trip. All in all it was a typical trip; we left PHX 30 minutes late and got into ATL at 630. Stopped and had breakfast at a restaurant in the airport. Service was as bad as the food. Murphy's law--it turns out there was a nice Atlanta Bread Company next door. Oh well, we'll know for next time. Our connection to SJU left more or less on time at 945 and we arrived right on schedule. Suggestion: sit on the DEF side of the plane to get photos of Puerto Rico on landing. All in all Delta was fine. The seats are hard as a rock and I couldn't feel my butt after 20 minutes. We'll see how they do on the way home....cross your fingers. (We have tried the Pier Bag Check In so I'm hoping they arrive with us later on in Phoenix) When we arrived in SJU, we claimed our bags--yes, they really do check your Claim Tags against the bags--don't lose them. Rented a car with AVIS (we are both preferred members and they are our rental company of choice). In San Juan, the rental cars are one size smaller than in the US. We rented an intermediate and ended up with a Corolla. This was fine as the roads are narrow in PR. Note: Driving in PR is an adventure. People are nuts. You soon learn to "stick your nose in" in order to make a turn. The roads are not well marked and confusing. We got a Garmin with the car and that was a big help--AFTER we figured out that it was in Spanish. Yup, the GPS has all the roads in Spanish--even if it's set to English. Took us a day to figure it out. Like I said, driving in PR is an adventure... More to Come..... Pat Deux After many wrong turns and a useless spanish programmed GPS we finally made it to the Wyndham, which by the way, was a Westin last year. We chose the Wyndham because it is NOT along the hotel strip and because of the fantastic beach. They groom the beach every day. Unfortunately, there was a huge general contractor convention going on there during our stay. Participants were loud and funloving but that left us out and we were basically invisible to most of the staff. When we stayed last year we basically had the entire hotel to ourselves as it was practically empty. In general we thought the service levels when it was the Westin were better than as a Wyndham. The prices for drinks increased and they took away the free parking for Avis customers. Not sure we would recommend this hotel. It is in need of an update. Our rate of 160 per night plus 40 in taxes and fees was reasonable for what we got in comparison to most of the other hotel offerings in the area. But you need to have realistic expectations of what you are getting. The hotel is a good 45 minutes from the aeroport and old san juan so you need a car. The casino was closed for renovations, which we knew about in advance. The hotel offered a free courtesy shuttle to the Paridisus resort from 9pm-12am for their casino and return shuttle was offered every hour on the half hour. We tried a trip up to the EL Con but unfortunately there was ZERO parking available and valet service was not available either so we didn't get in and we just drove back to the Rio Mar. We ate out frequently in order to avoid the hotel's exorbitant charges. Breakfast was a coffee and muffin from the lobby coffee shop which cost about $8-$13 depending upon what we got. We tried a few of the local restaurants. Don Pepe's just down the road from the hotel was pretty good and offered us the opportunity to try some of the local dishes. Entrees ran about $15-$20. We recommend this restaurant-give it a try. We also ate in Old San Juan "Le Manolin" which is frequented mostly by locals and is old style diner in feel, complete with lunch counter and swivel stools. Try the MOFUNGO and the fried plantains for a taste of local cooking. Also the Dorado-(fish) the portions were huge and for those of you that aren't familiar you mix the beans in with the rice and eat it together. Our final dining venture was to a concierge recommended restaurant called MIO'S. A small store front and for the locals considered a 'higher end' restaurant than Don Pepes which is much more casual. We had the 'volcano' dinner which was a steak laid up on its side to simulate a volcano with shrimp dressing the top to simulate 'exploding lava'. It was a lovely presentation but overall a little too salty for my taste and a bit pricey for what it was (approx $24 for the entree). My recommendation would be head back to Don Pepes or try something else, skip this one. One other comment, last year we went to Dragonfly in Old San Juan. The tables are set very very very close to one another (you can feel your neighbors breath) and the menu is expensive tapas. Think $20 appetizers. There is a Dragonfly2 now in Old San Juan. There are plenty of other restaurants to try in Old San Juan and quite a few of them offer happy hour drinks and specials. We tried one and it was fine. We booked a fantastic private couples yoga class followed by a fabulous couples massage. Well worth every cent and it was a great way for us to start off our vacation. We booked with Yoga Buena. Nora and Rolando were awesome, awesome, awesome and we can't say enough about what a fantastic experience this was but we realize its not everyones cup of tea. If you're interested let us know and we can elaborate. Last thing to mention-getting out of the hotel and getting to the ship. Last year we were able to rent our Avis car at the airport and return it on the hotel property and for $30pp the hotel shuttled you to the cruise ship. However, this year the hotel wanted $46pp and the shuttle didn't depart til 2pm and Avis wanted a drop off charge. We elected to check out and drive to the airport and return the car directly, shuttled from the Avis drop off to the terminal, and then take a cab to the cruise ship ($10pp) which was completely painless. We even shared a cab with another couple that had arrived at the terminal and were willing to split the cost to the cruise ship. All in all, for us, this was the better choice. Getting On!!! We made it to the Ship at about 130 or so in the afternoon and they were well into boarding. We had checked in previously on line and this is clearly the way to go. Keep a pen handy as they have you fill out a departure card with your return flight information. A few weeks earlier, we took advantage of a price drop on junior suites and upgraded for free (JS was same price as D2 balcony cabin booked). They have special check in for suite customers both outside with the bag porters and inside the terminal with the check in agents. While in San Juan, we bought 4 bottles of alcohol to sneak on board in our bags. We tipped the porter 20 bucks and the hootch in the bag arrived unmolested. THANK GOD!! (For those of you who are frowning right now, drinks on board have gone up about 15% over last year and we are not made of money. Obviously, we like to drink on vacation so that left us little choice). We stopped in the duty free in the terminal as we've heard mixed success with getting the booze bought there through ship's security and into the cabin. Bought a small bottle of Bailey's (coffee and a nip anybody?) and put in DW's backpack. She got it through by smiling and winking at the guy at the X Ray. Then, Mrs AZ decided to push our luck a bit and try for a second bottle. Off the ship we went, bought another bottle and tried again. This time, ship's security not so nice and not so easily distracted. Good Bye Bottle.... So all in all, we went 4 for 5 on our smuggling operation. Decent odds but we won't do the duty free again. We did see a bunch of folks buying airplane minis and stuffing--everything--with them. I think they made it through as they only xray the bags you carry on board. We had our picture taken on the gangway and it was added to RCCL wall of shame on deck 3 (C'mon RCCL $20 for ONE 8x10???) on Monday afternoon. Took about a day to see the previous day's photos. We recommend packing a small carryon rollaboard suitcase with a swimsuit and evening wear if you have early seating as they bags are sometimes slow to get to your stateroom. We didn't get our bags until 5. We had a JS on deck nine #9268. It was in front of the hump on the starboard side about 1/3 of the way back from the bow. Last year, we were in a d2 behind the hump. We liked in front of the hump better. we were able to see forward and better sea breeze. Our cabin: we loved it. It feels about 1/3 larger than a standard balcony stateroom. The larger bathroom with tub and walk in closet really make this a nice room. DW and I were even able to share the bathroom which is simply not possible in a standard stateroom. Our room had a queen size bed and a couch with 2 chairs with a cocktail table. We had the new bedding (all the ships do now) but the bed is still hard. It's not a Heavenly bed by any means. All though we did find the sheets and blankets to be very nice. It was completely acceptable. Shockingly, our AC was over sufficient. We were traveling in the Caribbean but it felt link Anchorage in our cabin each night. All in all, I'll take too cold over too hot any day of the week. DW recommends a light sweater or sweats to augment your wardrobe. Make no mistake, they keep the ship cold. A note about our balcony: It was slightly larger than our D2 last year but much more private. We had a whole "cutout" to ourselves. The standard balconies share "cutouts" with another cabin. To me, this is what made the JS much nicer. DW liked the fact the shower was big enough for 2. VEERRY NIICEE. DW tends to get seasick so she was on the transderm patches and bonine. She was lightheaded for the first 2-3 days but then was fine for the rest of the cruise. Typically, we buy 1 soda card at a cost of $40 and use this to mix with all the alcohol we smuggled onboard. A very thrifty way to party on board all week long. After checking out our cabin we went over to the Brasserie on deck 5 for a quick bite-they serve 3 different styles of pizza and 3 types of petit sandwiches, typically 1 is vegetarian. They also have a selection of sweet desserts to choose from and the coffee and tea is available here 24-7 all inclusive, no additional fees. If there is a line, it usually moves pretty swiftly. There is also a Ben & Jerrys ice cream stand but they do charge you additional for your your selection. Just a brief note, we could have gone up to the Windjammer on deck 11 for the buffet but at that point of the day, this was faster and allowed us more time to explore the ships offerings. If you've never been, the Adventure is a spectacular ship and offers a lot for everyone's tastes and needs and is very well laid out. After our brief bite on deck 5 we went up to the solarium and took a dip in the pool and hot tub. It was still pretty quiet as people were still boarding and milling about. The following day at sea the chaises fill up with people pretty early and if you are choosey about where you want to hang out for the day, nearer the bar, in the sun, in the shade, you need to scope out a locale early in the morning or you will be SOL. After our dip we explored a little bit and went back to our cabin. We called room service for a cheese platter and fruit platter and had our own private happy hour on our balcony. Dont forget to take advantage of the free room service. We called home to gloat to our families over the cruise, the balcony and our upcoming itinerary. All in all a great afternoon. Even though the ship doesn't leave til 8 the muster drill is at 6. All passengers are required to be on board by 5:30. Keep this in mind for anyone flying in from the west coast. I recommend happy hour and a buzz for the muster drill. It makes it slightly more tolerable with a buzz and you cant get out of it. You are required to participate. After the drill we went back to cabin, showered and readied for our evening. Our first stop was the Schooner Bar on deck 4 for trivia. We are all about the trivia, seriously.....really serious, all about the trivia. I believe we won the first nights trivia and scored the coveted RCCL key chain and pen (wow) Better shwag comes later in the cruise. We also made a quick stop at the blackjack table. Was a good night for us. Then off to diner, late seating the first night was at 9 although all other nights it was 8:30. This year we requested a table for 2. We were stuck with some real boring couples last year and it was such an effort to make conversation we decided a private table was the way to go for us this year. Its a bit exclusionary but it was the right choice for us. I cannot say enough good things about our wait staff this year. Seri and Shirley were awesome. They were expedient, friendly, attentive and genuine. We tipped them above the recommended amounts. This year we actually met our head waiter, who stopped at our table each night, addressing us by our first names and exchanged some polite chatter about the day. We made sure to tell him his wait staff were doing a fantastic job. The food selections were okay to good. It's not 5 star dining but it is 5 star service. Plenty of choices on the menu and if you want to try several things, go ahead and ask, they encourage you to choose multiples. Each night they offer several alternative 'healthy selections' in addition to the main chef's selection. Ladies, the dining room is freezing-bring your sweater and order the soup to warm up!!! They have a special waiter come around to encourage and bring our alcohol with your meal. They will happily pair a wine to your dinner selection. Beware the drink guy can be a little pushy but thats his job. RCCL makes a lot off passenger alcohol consumption. They offer a drink of the day which is different every day. You can find the info about the drink, the ingredients and the price in the cruise compass (cruise bible) delivered to your stateroom each evening. We spent the first day at sea and spent most of our time checking the cruise bible for the various on board activities offered throughout the day. We played shuffleboard, hubby went for a workout in the gym, I was up in the Blue Moon for the sudoku challenge. Had lunch in Windjammer that day and gambled a little. All in all, a nice quiet sea day. There was plenty we skipped. Lots of activities and choices. Note about the Activities staff. This is where we thought there was a big difference over last year. Last year, we had the vivacious, awesome, flamboyant Richard Spacey as our cruise director. He was everywhere. On TV, at events, smiling and greeting everyone everywhere. He is just the best cruise director we've had. This year, we had Mike S (can't spell his last name). He was ok but not nearly as good or visible as Richard. Perhaps it's because it was his last week before vacation but we just didn't seem to click with him. Many other passengers seem to feel the same way. Some other cruise staff we were very good however, Marvin from Jamaica and Ken from Canada were particularly talented. Everyone else however, were pretty quiet. Finally, we went to Meet and Mingle on Monday afternoon. This was awesome. It was a great mixer and we met some great friends that we chatted with for months on CC. For those of you planning a MM we did a gift exchange and it was a great way to break the ice. We all brought a cheap 5 dollar gift from our hometown per person and the cruise host (Marvin) coordinated the exchange. Great time had by all and a nice way to meet people. We recommend attending on your cruise if it's available. More to come. Off the airport.... Day 3--Aruba We awoke to find ourselves on the beautiful island of Aruba. We ordered room service for breakfast. A note: RCCL has removed the omelets from the room service menu. This was a bummer for us as we like protein for breakfast. So we got eggs, bacon and coffee. It is the same stuff they serve in the dining room and Windjammer. Cafe promenade has pastries and coffee available in the morning also along with bananas and fruit. Got changed into excursion wear—board shorts and swimsuits—and headed out for our adventure. We didn't plan anything for this stop so we did a wait and see thing. I knew I had wanted to check out Eagle beach and possibly some watersports. Off the ship we went—passengers are required to scan their sea passes when getting on and off the ship so don't leave it lying around. (Actually, we did really well this cruise—we only thought we lost them 3 times and it turns out it was always in the abyss somewhere (Ms AZ Parrothead's bag). When we got off we walked around past the fence and got the lay of the land. From info posted on this board, we knew that we could take the public bus to the beach for $2.50 US per person. This is MUCH cheaper than the cabs. They were quoting upwards of 20RT pp just to get to the beach and back. Take the bus—it's easy and the drivers are very friendly. They even made change in us dollars. To get the bus, cross the street next to the mall and walk under the archways. The busses line up by route. L10 gets you to the beach or hotel zone. The drop off for Eagle Beach Is right in front of the beach bar and chair rental—PERFECT! Got to the beach and laid out our towels on some empty chairs. Then we got kicked out of the chairs. Turns out they were for the hotel across the street only. No big deal. We put our towels down on the sand (no charge for that) and jumped in. The water was a little sandy and not too clear since a tropical storm barreled through just north of Aruba 2 days before. Still, it was nice and the cloudy water provided some unique opportunities—SCHWING!!! We hung out on the beach frying like Mahi Mahi for a couple of hours and then it was time to go Jet Skiing. DW had never tried this and it was a calm day so we decided to go for it. Found a beach guy to rent us a 3 person ski on steroids (we're talking like 700cc and no governor ?) and headed out. DW lasted about 10 minutes—which was 5 longer than I thought she would. Cost was 55 for a half hour. I thought it was steep but it was the going rate at the other vendors too. We had done well at the casino the night before so we didn't mind splurging a little bit on this. Plus we saved on the cab fare. Thank you Cruise Critic! We headed back to the ship around 3 and got ready for the evening. The return busses run every 15 minutes so it was easy to get back to where we needed to be. We looked like strawberry creamsicles when we changed out of suits. Red on top and on the bottom—lily white in the middle. Here is something we learned—Aloe Vera gel is a godsend. It's 2 bucks at Walgreens. Pick some up. It's worth every penny. We ordered some cheese and fruit again and opened up the second bottle of vodka. Quick trip down to the Cafe Promenade for mixer (sprite, no ice) and we were ready to go. Side note, our cabin steward, Stefan was great. We pre-tipped him on Sunday and we were well taken care of the whole week. Bistro 9268 required lots of ice as it was quite busy all week. Stefan made sure we had 2 extra buckets of ice all week for out imbibing needs. Had cocktails on the verandah for an hour or so and then got cleaned up for our pre dinner ritual. A drink with Catherine at the Schooner bar and TRIVIA!!! Tonight was TV themes trivia. I am proud to say we once again KICKED BUTT. and took home our long awaited RCCL official blue pleather luggage tags. This was important as the airline managed to decapitate the tag off one of suitcases coming in to SJU. It needed to be replaced. Thanks Delta. Went to dinner and had another excellent meal with Seri and Shirley. Can't say enough about them. They are great. We listened to some music for a short while in the Duck and Dog and then headed off to bed and nursed our sunburns. More Aloe slathered on. Day 4—Curacao I had done some research on Curacao and we had a semi plan in mind when we got off the ship. Once again we got up and ordered room service and put on our excursion clothes. When you exit the ship in Curacao you walk through a construction zone (they are building a new Radisson next the Mega Pier) and through a mall built out of a colonial era fort. The fort is very picturesque and there is a photo area up the stairs where it's possible to get some great shots of Willemstad. We had arranged a scooter rental through a company called Scooby Tours. They promised to be available at the pier next to the ship. They weren't. Apparently, they booked a massive tour with one of the hotels and left us high and dry. Don't book with these people. They are dishonest. We walked across the floating bridge to the tourist information booth and the lady there arranged a scooter rental for us with another company next to the ship. So we walked back over the floating bridge and rented our bright yellow hog for the day. It was 55 bucks and they provide helmets, insurance and maps. Now I know what you're thinking. They are stupid and crazy to be doing that. Scooters are dangerous blah blah blah. Here's my take on this. We are adults and we know how to drive safely. We watch our mirrors, follow traffic signs and are generally defensive drivers. We also enjoy a little adventure and we were careful which island to rent a scooter on. We wouldn't have rented on St Maarten or St Thomas where it's all hills. Curacao was a little quieter, the roads are well marked and we had a plan in mind. I realize this is not for most people but we truly enjoyed it and look forward to doing it again on our next cruise. We headed off to Playa Port Marie and took the long way around the north side of the island. Once we got out of Willemstad it was very quiet and very beautiful. The island is dry with lots of cacti and wildflowers. Playa Porto Marie is down a side road and is a secluded semi-private nature reserve beach with a bar, chairs and dive shop. We paid our admission: $10 for entrance and 2 chairs in the shade under and umbrella. It's a small beach but the water is exceptionally clear and warm. I checked out the dive shop and rented some snorkels and fins for DW and I. 9 bucks a rental. A little high but it was good equipment and convenient. I also decided to do an intro dive here. For 40 bucks they offered an into scuba lesson with a 45 minute shore dive. I found the folks here to be very professional and friendly. I dove with one other tourist and we were given lessons on safety, equalizing, clearing masks and regulators and use of the equipment. Once we were briefed we went into the water and toured the reef. I am not sure if it was the most pristine reef I've ever seen but it was amazing to see it from 30 feet down. I will most definitely get certified soon. Like snorkeling on steroids. It was awesome. After my scuba lesson, we packed up and headed back to the ship. When we got to the ship, we noticed that the floating bridge was "put away" so that ship traffic could get into the little inlet. There was a ferry taking passengers across the channel back to the ship area. Keep this in mind if you're shopping in the afternoon in Willemstad. They do move the bridge. That's why it floats…. We headed back up to Bistro 9268 for sail away cocktails and appetizers before dinner. This time, finger sandwiches from Cafe Promenade and of course, Sprite (no ice). Sunburns were REALLY sore today so more aloe and cool showers to help soothe the pain a little. We stopped at the casino and it turns out lady luck decided to go home and leave us. Lost 20 bucks each in the blink of an eye and went to the Schooner Bar (hello Catherine!) to lick our wounds and play—you guessed it—TRIVIA!!! Tonight's trivia was 50/60's music trivia. We came in second. Lost on a couple of questions about 50s doo wop groups. How are we supposed to get that? We weren't alive then. Off to dinner. Again super service, ok food. After dinner I dragged Sheryl to the production show, "Headliners" with the RCCL singers and dancers. We both are a bit "critical" when it comes to stage entertainment so we didn't come in with high expectations. Some how, it was even worse than we expected. We suffered through until Barry Manilow showed up followed quickly by Shakira shaking her boo--tay. Back up to Cafe 9268 for shots (big ones) to dull the pain then on to the casino where we played a bit and broke even. Tonight was also the Love and Marriage game show. We auditioned but we were turned down for the newlywed couple who practically got it on in front of the audience in order to get on stage. I look at it this way: if you really want to answer embarrassing questions about your sex life for a tee shirt THAT BAD then you should be on stage. Tonight, the cruise director made fun of my new $150 Tommy Bahama shirt in the middle of the lyric theatre. Funny, it's so ugly that they sell it in the RCCL gift shop on board…go figure. More on this later…. After Love and Marriage we stayed for the world premiere of "Fountains." By far our favorite show. DO NOT MISS THIS. We literally laughed all nite. I will not give away the details but suffice it to say the cruise director and his staff outdid themselves. Supposedly there were many hours of rehearsal and you could tell. After fountains, off to bed. Day 5—Sea Day. Ahhh Sea Day! We slept in and enjoyed coffee in the windjammer around 9. I skipped breakfast as I was headed out for a run in the gym. It's weird to run on a treadmill while the ship is moving. Remember drunken streaking in college? This is similar to the sensation. While I worked out DW grabbed a bite for breakfast and went to Napkin folding 101. Our Thanksgiving guests can now look forward to little Eiffel Towers on their plate. Woo Hoo!!! We met up and had a late lunch in the dining room which was nice. We were sat with 8 other strangers and were quickly reminded why we liked our table for 2. "So, how was your day?" "Fine" "Great, Pass the bread…" Sigh… After lunch it was time for the blackjack tournament. I lasted all of 7 minutes. DW did a little better. She actually got her name on the leader board for all of 2 rounds. Like I said earlier, lady luck was on vacation—but not on the Adventure of the Seas. Today also featured Crew Vs. Guest Dodgeball. Mike (the cruise director) was captain of the 6 member All Guys AOS Dodgeball Team. I was still smarting from the nasty Hawaiian shirt comment and I looked at this as the perfect opportunity to avenge my pride. Voila Team Kill Mike. I figured we were pretty evenly matched. We had an ex pro ball player, 2 German body builders (they were there to PUMP—Clap—YOU UP!), the Puerto Rican soccer player and Me (short guy, red had). We warmed up for 15 minutes and looked pretty darn impressive. We were third to play the crew. Keep in mind they do this every week. The action was intense and furious. And it was over in 5 minutes. I took my wounded pride to the nearest bar—the blue moon and drowned my sorrows in a tasty, STRONG, Pina colada. Tonight, second formal night. Once again we stood in line for photos. They came out ok . We also had dinner in Portofino this evening at 830 after evening trivia. .I believe we won Trivia this evening but I don't remember what the theme was. We did score more Pens and Key chains though. Porofino was good. Again, it's not the best food I've ever eaten but it is well prepared. DW had the filet and I had the seafood platter. Dinner was well timed and spaced. We were surprised at the number of crew eating in Portofino this evening. In fact, we had dinner next to the Captain, Mike and the Hotel Director. Another table featured a crew member's birthday celebration. I recommend giving Portofino a try. It's a more formal dining experience. They call it Italian. I would consider it to be more international. The roasted garlic and the dessert sampler were superb. Recommendation—get dessert to go. If you eat the whole portion of each course, you will be too full to really enjoy dessert. That evening we attended the headliner show BeatleMania Live. They are one of the ubiquitous Beatles cover bands RCCL seems to have floating around their ships. They were good. Last year, we saw another Beatles cover band—Revolution—and they were not nearly as good as these guys. Beatlemania is a national touring act and they come to Phoenix often. We've always heard good things about them so it was nice to see finally see them live. Off to bed after the show for St Maarten. Day 6 St Maarten This day was great. Except DW is allergic to St Maarten. More on this in a little bit. We got off the ship and vowed to explore the island today. Last year, we did the Dolphin Experience on Anguilla and didn't get the chance to check out St Maarten at all. We got off the ship and decided to rent a car. This was the oddest car rental experience I have ever had. All the car rentals are lined up in a row of little shacks in the port area. Upon approaching, we immediately were accosted by ALL the car rental vendors at once screaming at us to rent with them. Each one trying to offer a better deal than the other guy. We were overwhelmed and felt like a circus ring leader or an auctioneer. In reality, it was pretty intimidating. In the end, we decided on Hertz since they are a name brand, take American Express and seemed more professional than everyone else. This turned out to be a good choice. We filled out the paperwork and were shuttled quickly over to our car. Cost for the day was 35 plus tax and license. I also took the collision coverage for an extra 12 bucks. It's an island—take the coverage. We had skipped breakfast on board and were famished. I was in the mood for a nice café breakfast so we headed over to Marigot on the French side. We parked on the street and walked around a bit. Everything was closed!! Even the restaurants. We stopped into a small café and the owner told us that since it was slow season everyone was on vacation. Bummer. We got back in the car and drove around Marigot a little bit looking for an open restaurant. About this time, DW's neck started getting itchy. We pulled into a space and were referred to a local butcher shop who might have sandwiches and cheese—Le Bouchard. Now, I speak French—poorly—and it was a good thing I could. The butcher/owner didn't speak any English but between his pointing and my incoherent French we were able to order 2 sausage and brie sandwiches to go. The owner had to run out to the bakery down the street to buy the bread!! It was classic! So as we drove around St. Maarten we had fresh, homemade sandwiches with some of the best ingredients I've ever had. It was awesome! While we waited for him to make the sandwiches, he also fixed us two nice espressos. By this time DW's neck was starting to break out so I got the chance to use my French agaiin and ordered some hydrocortisone (prescription strength) from La Pharmacie. The cream helped a bit and, sandwiches in hand, we headed out around the northern end of the island to check our Orient Beach. We got to Orient around 1130 and spent 30 minutes checking in with home and writing emails to work and friends.There was a small Internet/DVD rental shop in the shopping plaza at Orient. It was only $6.50 for a 30 minute session We both are professionals we needed to check in. We were warm and so we decided to head down to the beach for a quick dip. I thought the beach was OK but way too crowded and not as nice either of the beaches on Curacao or Aruba. While we were in the water, we overheard the guy next to us in the water say that Mullet Bay Beach was the nicest beach on the island. We promptly dried off and set out to find this pristine beach. We drove back around to the Dutch side through Philipsburg and out to Simpson Bay past the airport. We saw maho beach (it really is THAT close to the end of the runway!) on our way to Mullet Bay. We initially drove past Mullet but quickly realized our mistake and turned around after hitting Cupecoy. Mullet Bay beach is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is small, quiet and utterly pristine. The water is crystal clear aqua and as an added bonus the "natural scenery" here was much firmer and younger then anything on Orient. God Bless European Women. On the other hand, there were also guys in G strings. It was not a pretty sight. We spent about 45 minutes swimming and taking in the spectacular views and then headed over to the Sunset Beach Bar for a quick drink. I am an airplane geek and was hoping to catch a flight land. Unfortunately we timed it wrong but the Pina Coladas and conch fritters were tasty. By this time, DW was REALLY in pain and we drove quickly back to the ship, dropped off the car and re-boarded. For the second year in a row, we became intimately familiar with the Medical Facility on AOS. DW is allergic to St Maarten. She had the same violent skin reaction the same day last cruise. We will not be returning soon to St Maarten although we love the island. On the cruise bible, the hours for Sick Bay were 4-7. When we got there at 430 we were told that if we saw the doctor right away, it would be an extra 30 bucks since the passenger hours were only from 5-7. This didn't make much sense to me but we filled out the paperwork and came back a half hour later. We were the first passengers to see the doctor. I must say we were very impressed with the thoroughness and personality of the medical staff. No, the doctors are not American but they are highly trained and most practiced in US hospitals. We learned that RCCL requires that all its medical staff be trained in Emergency Room Medicine and all the nurses are RNs. By the time we saw the doc, the rash was all over DW's chest, neck and scalp. It was a good thing we went when we did as he diagnosed a severe allergic reaction made worse by sunburn. DW was given an IV with steroids, an antihistamine shot and a couple of prescription steroids along with prescription cream. We were in the medical facility for 90 minutes. The Damage: $441. But that's why we have travel insurance. Lesson of the day: BUY The TRAVEL INSURANCE!! We have used it twice now for the same ailment on the same island. The doctor gives you a copy of a receipt that is submitted to the travel insurance company. We will be doing this tomorrow when we are home. All in all, we were impressed with the Medical Staff and the care we received. Very expensive but we really had no choice. After our jaunt to the doctor, we went and got a bite to eat and DW took a nap in the cabin before dinner to rest from the medicines. That night, we just had a quick dinner, skipped desert and went to bed. Long day made longer by the doctor's office. Supposedly there was a midnight gala buffet but we missed it. Day 7—St Thomas Last year, we spent the day on St Thomas shopping and going to the doctor so I was determined to see a little bit of the islands and get to St John this year. We booked an all day charter with Captain Bobby and his first mate (boss) Karen on the Rumbaba. The yacht is named after the Hindu goddess of irresponsibility We hooked up on Cruise Critic with twin sisters from NYC who were interested in sharing the charter with us. For 110 per person (Cash, 125 credit card) we had a completely customized sailing day that included 2 snorkel stops (equipment provided) a gourmet lunch, open bar and excellent company. We got off the ship and met the twins on the pier. We went to one of the Taxi-shuttles that are all over the place on St Thomas. We told the driver we were headed to Red Hook and we had to wait until he filled the cab with 4 other passengers before he would leave. This was frustrating as we thought we were pressed for time. Turns out we were fine but I dislike that they make passengers wait for others. The cab was 10 bucks per person each way and all the cabs are cash only operations. We can't recommend Rumbaba enough. They are the best charter outfit on the island. Turns out Captain Bobby is from my neck of the woods—New England. He and I spent the morning swapping sailing stories from out time on Cape Cod. (I grew up on the Cape sailing so this was just awesome for me to run into a guy who's been to the same bars and clubs I have). While we were sailing over, my Blackbeard Ale ball cap (acquired last year on St Thomas) decided it wanted to go home and blew off my head in the middle of the channel. Fortunately, Captain Bobby and Karen have discovered the wonderful world of custom embroidery and I bought a new hat sporting the Rumbaba logo. $20 bucks. While we sailed out, we chatted about the islands, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney and others who are locals legends in that part of the Caribbean. It's important to note that Captain Bobby actually SAILS his charter boat. We only ran the engine to clear the moorings and get through the harbor. I was in sailing heaven as I had the opportunity to man the winches and play sailor for a day. Keep in mind Captain Bobby does not allow spray sunscreen on his boat—they make the deck slippery and dangerous. Fortunately for us, there happened to be a drug store across the street from the dock. Sunscreen lotion $10, Bottle of water $4. No headaches or sunburns? Priceless. We crossed the channel to St. John and pulled into Hawk's Nest Bay in the middle of a squall. It rained for about 10 minutes while we anchored and soon it was sunny and pleasant again. The snorkeling here was awesome with many varieties of fish including parrotfish and remora. We all snorkeled for about 45 minutes or so and then came back to the boat for lunch. Karen prepared a sumptuous meal that included the best grilled shrimp I have ever eaten. I want her recipe. And that was just one of two appetizers. We tossed the shrimp tails into the water and watched as the fish competed for them. It was cool A couple of weeks before, Bobby emailed us asking our preference for lunch—Ahi Tuna (local), Mahi Mahi (Local) steak or chicken. DW got the Mahi and I got the Ahi. Bobby actually has a grill on his boat so it is freshly prepared and delicious. We were also served a nice pasta salad and greens. Ohh, almost forgot, on the way out, we were served freshly baked blueberry banana bread made from bananas from their own backyard! It was sooo yummy. Karen makes a mean Rum Runner. Although none of us were really planning on catching a buzz, her drinks went down really smooth and we were soon begging for more pitchers. Good Stuff. After lunch, we moved the boat around the point to Kaneel Bay for more snorkeling. I saw a spotted eagle ray and a sting ray. Way cool. For you environmentally conscious types, the bays we moored at all have permanent anchorages set up by the National Park Service. By using these, we were able to avoid dropping the anchor and causing damage to the delicate ecosystems and corals. Finally time to head home. We set the foresail and took the downwind run to Red Hook. It was a great day. Side Note: Rumbaba is not docked . Bobby and Karen keep it on a mooring in the harbor. So your day starts out with a ride in a dinghy. Keep this in mind when thinking about booking the tour. He only carries 3 at a time on the dinghy so it might take 2 trips to get all the passengers back to the dock. There happened to be a taxi on the dock when we got off the boat so we grabbed it and headed back to the ship. Same cost (10pp) as heading out. This time though, we didn't have to wait for other passengers so that was nice. Got back to the ship around 430 and visited Bistro 9268 one last time. The bistro was running out of booze so we switched over to Coffee and Bailey's. Drinking makes packing a much more tolerable experience. We stuffed, poked, prodded and jammed our clothes into our bags being careful to leave out a change of clothes along with toiletries for showers the day you get off the ship. You are required to have your large bags out and tagged by midnight in the hallway. We opted to go for the Delta on site luggage check in. There has been much discussion on this board about how this works so I'll try to point out the details as best I can. There is a fee. It's 20 per person up to 2 bags per person. Well, we were only checking in 2 bags so I only signed up one of us and put her bag and my bag under the same name. That saved us 20 bucks. According to RCCL, you can only sign up for this if you are flying Delta, American, Continental or United. However, there IS a US Air counter in the cruise terminal staffed by USAir agents and you can pay them a porter fee to take your bags and check you in. RCCL will only do it if you are flying on the other carriers. After you fill out the form, you are supposed to receive an envelope the night before you depart with your boarding passes and bagtags. If you don't get it you are supposed to check in with guest relations. Well, we didn't get the envelope or any instructions of any kind. We got off the ship, cleared customs (WHAT A JOKE!) and went to the Delta counter. They were able to reprint the bagtags but not the boarding passes. This was fine as Delta offers easy to use kiosks at the airport (more on the later). Anyway, we finished packing for the evening, closed down Bistro 9268 and then headed off to a final round of Trivia in the Schooner Bar. Topic was Movie Love Themes and we prevailed once again. RCCL logo hats this time around. The Schwag DOES get better at the end of the cruise. We had our final meal in the dining room and thanked our lovely waitstaff for their superior service. We will miss them. Then off to the room for rest and bed. Going Home: The last morning is always sad cause its much more fun being on vacation than being home in reality. Woke up, showered and dressed and packed the last few items amongst our rollaboard and backpacks. You are requested to vacate the room y no later than 8am. We opted for a final breakfast in the dining room. They offer a limited choice menu and it is somewhat rushed. DW asked for bacon instead of ham in her omelette and was summarily denied-no specials on the last day! Opted for French toast with a side of bacon instead. I think because we opted for the baggage check in we were given group one departure tags. We stopped off to pick up a few choice photos as souvenirs of our cruise…2 8x10's for $40 but they are 'memories of a lifetime' and we have a scanner so we can distribute knock offs for Christmas to our closest relatives. From there we went back up to deck 4 to the gangway and then the bedlam in the cruise terminal. If you haven't experienced this part in the past allow me to elaborate so that you are prepared…. You walk into a warehouse sized facility with hundreds and hundreds of bags and suitcases and hundreds and hundreds of your cruise mates. Hanging from the ceiling are giant colored signs. You are supposed to find your luggage under your color. The color matches the bagtag that you were provided in your room. Unfortunately they don't provide directions so you have to figure this out on your own. Not everyone there is capable of this feat. After climbing and clambering around we finally find our suitcases and roll them out and over to the customs agent. He worked for RCCL not the government. Again, nice to see our government hard at work and protecting our security!!! Out past customs to the Delta agent where we found out we didn't have the right documents. Actually we had NO documents. Fortunately we were 'on his list' and he just printed new bag tags on the spot. We were given the option to wait and someone would have gone back on board to print out our boarding passes but we opted to do it at the airport. Oh almost forgot. We received our on board account statement as we were leaving the stateroom. They say they slip it under the door but, for 2 years in a row, they have stuck it in our door number in the jam. It's easy to miss it as you walk out. That really big number in the really small print on the last page is the total damage. $930—of which half was the doctor on board. There is an adage among frequent cruisers. However much cash you think you need to bring, double it. Cash goes quick in the Caribbean and ATMs charge huge fees and give you local currency. You need cash for cabs, scooters, water sports, drinks on the beach, chair rentals, souvenirs and of course, the AOS Casino. This time we brought $500 and used it all. Tips for staff can go on your seapass account but it you want to tip more—like we did—you will need to stick more money in the envelope. Some folks on this board have talked about giving phone cards as thank you gifts to your crew. This is a small and appreciated token. However, if it's a choice between a phone card and cash, always give the cash. These folks live on tips and they really work hard for their money. You won't be disappointed but do plan for the cost of tips in your vacation budgeting. Once we got out of the building we grabbed a cab and headed to Old San Juan since we had 5 hours to kill. What a scary ride. This guy was in a rush to get back and pick up more people. I have been in many cabs in many countries but this one takes the cake as the most dangerous. On the plus side, we did get to OSJ quickly and promptly found out that nothing opens (except the Starbucks) until 11 on Sundays. Cab ride was $20. However, as you know, the Starbucks does have free internet, good air conditioning and lots of comfy seating. It's located on the square across from the parking garage. You can see the Destiny from the window. In fact, you will see a lot of locals taking advantage of the service and using Skype to call friends. Had a large coffee and sat down to write. Headed out at 1130 for lunch and stopped at Tamarind. This is one of these restaurants that also had a great happy hour. We shared coconut shrimp and the best steak quesadilla I've ever eaten. It was a cheese quesadilla topped with churrasco steak. YUMMY!! Coconut shrimp were good too. We knew were back to reality when it took 15 minutes to get a drink and 30 more minutes for the meal. Sigh. Walked back up the hill and took a taxi to the airport. Bye Bye 20 more bucks. This time it was much more tame and slow. That was ok by us. Got to the airport and ran into the entire ship again. There's a Jimmy Buffett quote that says, "Don't want to land in the San Juan Airport, where 5 minutes can feel like a day." That's the truth. Got to the airport and found the tucked away delta check in counter. We went to kiosk and tried to print boarding cards. Mrs Az's printed out just fine but mine wouldn't. I asked the check in girl to please print my passes and she did it for the first leg to Atlanta only. I politely asked her for the connecting pass and she told me it was against the rules for her to print the other boarding card. Now, between the two of us, Mrs Az and I have flown 145000 miles this year. We do this a lot—every week actually. So I was perturbed. I told her I do this all the time and she got snippy and said "I work here, don't you think I know what the rules are?" We asked for a supervisor. The supervisor walked over, didn't even look at us or acknowledge us and told the girl in Spanish that she had made a mistake. Not a word of apology or anything. Weak. But I did get my connecting pass. Here's our SJU airport tip: Most passenger leave from the B concourse and the security line there is really long. Walk around to the C concourse, clear security there (no line) and then walk back to B. We did this and it worked out well. Except we ended up in the line with the puffer machine. I hate that machine. It's scary and it takes twice as long to get through. Got to the gate and the flight was on time. Our flight had a group of 90 mentally handicapped folks who were on our cruise as well. They were having such a great time all week! They preboarded and then we sat down. I ended up with one of those window seats that don't have a window. Once again, back to reality. Flight was uneventful. Landed a few minutes early in Atlanta and we headed to our connection with a quick stop at the Au Bon Pain for a sandwich to take on the plane. ATL was busy and we left the gate 20 minutes late for PHX. The captain made up the time though and we got in right on time at 830. While on board, wrote some more and popped in a movie on the laptop. We were looking forward to Ocean's Thirteen on the flight actually but the tape had a skip in it and we couldn't watch it. DW was a little disappointed. The flight attendants put in the other movie—Georgia Rule but we weren't interested. We threw in Old School into the laptop—not sure that was airplane appropriate but we laughed the whole way home. Bags came down quickly and my mom picked us up (with Jack the Dog in the car happily wagging his tail) and we headed home. A nice end to a fantastic vacation. Final Thoughts: What a trip! I am not sure we topped our first AOS cruise and it was a little different since we knew what to expect. Still, it was a fabulous time. We highly recommend the junior suite. We also recommend taking a couple of days to see Puerto Rico. It's a fun island with a very unique culture. Cruises are what you make of them. You can have a great time or a lousy time depending on your attitude. You can one of those folks who spends all day, everyday shopping or you can "get out there" and experience what each of these ports has to offer. One small regret, we were so busy during the day, we did miss out on some of the partying and events late at night—on both cruises. That's ok though, it gives us something to look forward to on our next cruise. We thank you for your attention and comments. Please keep them coming and we'll try to answer any questions as best we can. Happy Cruising!!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Adventure of the Seas Sail Date: 10-21-07 Embarkation: San Juan Islands: Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas Embarkation: My wife and I booked all of our travel direct with RCCL including airfare and transfers. We ... Read More
Adventure of the Seas Sail Date: 10-21-07 Embarkation: San Juan Islands: Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, St. Thomas Embarkation: My wife and I booked all of our travel direct with RCCL including airfare and transfers. We left Atlanta at 9:40AM on Sunday, Oct. 21 and arrived in San Juan 3 hours later. We were greeted at the luggage carousel by RCCL customer service. They directed us to the luggage bus where we dropped off our luggage and got on the bus. We had our Set Sail Pass and other docs filled out when we got to the pier. There was a line waiting but because we had our info filled out, we got on the ship in about 20 minutes. This is our 3rd RCCL cruise but first on the AOS. We knew what to expect as we have been on Navigator twice and the two ships are very similar. As usual we were not disappointed. The balcony room was terrific and we had great views all week long. Having coffee in the AM on the balcony & wine in the evening was perfect for us. Our stateroom attendant, Natasha was great. She took care of the room and was very nice. Our first day was at sea and very relaxing. We had a Meet & Mingle with other folks from CruiseCritic and that was great to meet them. Eleven of us toured together one day on St Lucia and six of us hung out together most of the trip. Definitely do a Meet & Mingle and get on the message boards for you sailing dates ahead of time. Barbados: My wife and I had been here before and wanted to have Flying Fish & CouCou (great local dish). We took a shuttle into town about 10:00AM and did a little shopping. Then we went to Muster's for lunch. If you like to try local food this is a great restaurant. It is on a side street downtown. Turn down the alley by Scotia bank and it is on the right upstairs. Great hot sauce also. We took a taxi and did the Mt. Gay Rum factory tour. This was very interesting and you get to try their rums at the end. It was good tour. St. Lucia: This was the day we did a tour with 11 people from Cruise Critic we had met on the message board. It was prearranged with Cosol Tours (go to ports on CruiseCritic) and you will find info on Cosol. This was a real highlight of the trip. It was 5-6 hours long with lots of stops and a great guide (Adrian). All of Cosol's guides are good from what I have read. This is a must IMHO. Antigua: I had researched this a lot as I wanted a nice quiet beach with a nice beach bar. I got what I wanted at Darkwood Beach. It is a beautiful stretch of beach just past Jolly Beach Resort. If you want peace & quiet with lunch & soda or a few beers as options this is the place to hang out. Cab drivers will take you and arrange to pick you back up at a certain time. Antigua has many beaches so I imagine there are others like this. St. Maarten: We went to the Guavaberry Emporium with our CruiseCritic friends to buy our favorite liquor. We also had a Guavaberry Colada (or two). You really enjoy shopping after that. It rained most all day and we did not get to the beaches but it was fun all the same. We had lunch at Tallulah Mangoes and it was very good. Try the Pecan Pizza, it was great. St. Thomas: Our friends had rented a car as one of them knows the island well. It rained most of the day but we still got to go to Magen's Bay and walk in the water and on the beach. There is a great beach bar there as well that serves Baileys & Banana Coladas. It is a beautiful that we will come back to. The staff on the AOS was terrific. Capt Tommy, Cruise Director Mike and the crew always were smiling and willing to help people. I never heard anyone complain and with over 3,000 people on board that takes hard work. The food was very good in the main dining room and Portofino's. Make reservations for Portofino's on Sunday about 8:00PM for dinner and you can watch Puerto Rico sail by. The lights are beautiful and this makes for a romantic evening. VinnRoy (aka Vinny) is the bartender in the lobby bar (deck 4) and makes a great Mojito. He also tends bar at the Blue Moon Bar on 14. Our wait staff was terrific as well. We only ate once at Windjammer and it was good for a quick bite. Also, quick bites & cookies can be found on deck 5 Royal Promenade. Disembarkation: We had a flight at 4:10PM back to Atlanta so we booked a tour through RCCL and saw Old & New San Juan. We really enjoyed this as San Juan Rico is very pretty and it kept us in vacation mode after we got off the ship. We got to the airport about 12:15PM and had lunch. If your airline offers pre luggage check in at the pier do it. Once we went through customs we gave our bags to Delta people at the pier and did not see them again until we got off the plane in Atlanta. A few hints: If you like Splenda as a sweetener take your own. The ship does not carry it. Bring a large coffee cup with a lid if you like coffee like we do. You don't have to keep going back as often. Travel bottles of clothes wrinkle remover works well. If you are bringing liquor back on a plane take bubble wrap, packing tape & two gallon zip lock bags to pack it in. None of ours got broken in our suitcase... And RELAX you are on vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Adventure of the Seas is a beautiful ship with countless activities to keep you entertained! However, if relaxation is your style, there are numerous areas where you can find solitude and relaxation in a pristine setting. This was my ... Read More
Adventure of the Seas is a beautiful ship with countless activities to keep you entertained! However, if relaxation is your style, there are numerous areas where you can find solitude and relaxation in a pristine setting. This was my second cruise, my husbands first. I was nervous taking my husband, as he didn't foresee himself enjoying a cruise. By the time we boarded the ship and he saw the magnitude and decor, he was downright impressed. We had a promenade stateroom, which features an extended seating area looking into the promenade. We were happy with the room; it was extremely clean and there are many little "crooks and nannies" to store belongings. Our suitcases fit under the bed just fine. We were able to sleep through the night just find regardless of the activity in the promenade area. We traveled with another couple and had adjoining staterooms, which made the experience a lot of fun! Our first day was at sea, which was nice because it gave us ample time to explore the ship, get caught up on sleep, and relax by the pool. Barbados was our first port of the call. I will say, the shopping center there was not too impressive, but it was air conditioned and had some nice shops. We quickly got a cab (which cabs are waiting for the cruise ship passengers to get off so they are ready and waiting!) and headed towards Sandy Lane Resort. We spent most of the day on the beach, enjoying the exquisite turquoise water, blue skies, and warm sun. The beaches are pristine and relatively quiet. The waves are gentle, which makes it nice sitting in the water. The people are very friendly and approachable- we had a great experience! St.Lucia was our next stop. It was a gorgeous island- lush vegetation and beautiful water. We rented a car and headed off towards Soufriere...which is a curvy drive and they drive on the opposite side of the road, so we were constantly making sure we followed the traffic rules correctly!! St. Lucia is a very poor island, but the people are friendly and laid back. We did not feel safe driving in Soufriere..and quickly decided to turn around and head back. The Pitons are amazing- be sure to get outside before the ship pulls into port- there are terrific photo opportunities! Antigua was next....we went to Dickinson Bay. Gorgeous- very clean, very safe. We were next door to Sandals so everything was immaculate. There are outdoor cafes where the sand is the floor and you're only about 15 feet from the water. The water was murky from a storm, but was still beautiful. The sand felt like silk- it was amazing!! There is a lot of quality shopping and some wonderful linens to buy! St. Maarten was our fourth stop. What a port! There is a gorgeous port- it is very clean and modern. Lots of shopping options! We got in a van with other couples and went to Orient Beach. It was extremely quiet there and was the most relaxing day we experienced!! A local came by selling straw merchandise and actually wound up chatting with us for over an hour. He knew more about American politics than we did, and gave us great insight to island life and his country. I encourage you to try a guavaberry drink- it is native to the island and is a pink fruity drink mixed with coconut milk and pineapple juice! WONDERFUL! Ask a vendor to tell you the story on how guavaberry is harvested...its very interesting! St. Thomas was our last stop. We voted to take the ferry over to St. John for the day- best decision of our trip! Despite what our predictions were, St. John actually was the prettiest stop on the trip. The island is hilly with lush vegetation, the water is all shades of aqua, and the sand is like silk. It is a gorgeous place. We went to Trunk Bay...there is a slight entrance fee, but well worth the effort. We snorkeled around a tiny island, and there is a path on the ocean floor pointing to different species of coral and fish- its a great experience! All in all, the itinerary was a dream! Adventure of the Seas had so much to try and see, the staff was accommodating, fun, and professional. We highly recommend a promenade room in regards to the value and layout. I believe the only downside to the cruise was the food at the buffet was nothing fabulous or new, but it was always fresh and had a wide selection. Enjoy your trip! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on Adventure to the Southern Caribbean. This was my first cruise and it was a treat for my mother. She is 78. Was not sure how it would go but i have to say the overall experience was great. Royal ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise on Adventure to the Southern Caribbean. This was my first cruise and it was a treat for my mother. She is 78. Was not sure how it would go but i have to say the overall experience was great. Royal Caribbean was excellent. You definitely get value for money. We paid $1400 for two people which was an oceanview room. For this price you cannot expect fine cuisine when it comes to food but i have to say the food was actually very good. You could have breakfast in the dining room (served) or the windjammer which was buffet. Usually did not have lunch as we were off the ship but it was buffet style. Dinner was pre assigned seating in the dining room. You had a choice of 4 or 5 items from appetizers, main and desserts. I was impressed by every meal. Went to Portofino's ($20p/p) one night to check it out. It was very good but to be honest it was not necessary to do it again as the dining room had great food and service. (My plan initially was to eat at Portofino's every night if the food in the dining room was sub par). Did not book any excursions on the ship. Either rented a car or got on an excursion outside the boat. Just played it by ear and it worked out perfect. The entertainment was also quite good, definitely worth going to see. Anyway its either that or sit at the bar having a cocktail or shopping or hanging out in your room. You have lots of time to do this anyway so might as well go see the shows. Alot of reviews complain about the Puerto Ricans on board. I believe there were approx, 1700 on our cruise. Overall they were fine, a little loud at times but they were having fun. I live in NY and the PR's there tend to be much more uncivilized (lower class for sure). thank god they were not on the boat. We arrived from NY on the day of the cruise and everything was real smooth. We were in our room within an hour upon arriving at the port. Getting off the ship was also a breeze. Our flight was not until 4pm so got a 3 hr tour of san juan with time for shopping and lunch. They kept our luggage safe in the bus. The tour bus then dropped us of at the airport. Check in took about 20 mins max. My mum and i went to the bar and had a farewell cocktail. Overall i would recommend this cruise. the only thing i was not impressed with was Aruba and Curacao. Not much going on there really. I would say the eastern cruise (same boat) might be more interesting. St Thomas and St Martin were fine. Anyway it was a cruise so it was all about the ship and it worked out perfect for us. Hopefully will do a cruise to Alaska next year with my mum. Any ideas? If you have any questions i would be happy to help you, my email address bkiernan2005@yahoo.com bon voyage Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
This was my second cruise on Adventure of the Seas. I decided to take my wife on this cruise for our anniversary. It was 3 years ago in October that we were married on this ship. Our pre-cruise stay was 2 nights at the San Juan Marriott ... Read More
This was my second cruise on Adventure of the Seas. I decided to take my wife on this cruise for our anniversary. It was 3 years ago in October that we were married on this ship. Our pre-cruise stay was 2 nights at the San Juan Marriott and Stellaris Casino. This hotel came highly recommended to me and I pass on the same high recommendations to anyone else looking for a San Juan hotel. The hotel was gorgeous inside and out. The beds were very comfy and the view from my Oceanfront Room was awesome. The staff went overboard to satisfy us. Right across the street was a Walgreens, Starbucks, Ben and Jerry's, and a great local pizza joint. Embarking was a nightmare. In the past, we have been able to wait inside the building. Not this time. The line stretched the entire length of the building, outside. It was 90 degrees, very high humidity, and there are no fans or benches outside. Furthermore, no priority was given to Diamond, Platinum, or Suite guests. Once on board, I was impressed with the ship. She's in great shape. In fact, I think it looked better on this trip than it did 3 years ago. We were booked in Junior Suite 9628. The room is located on deck 9, port side, on the aft portion of "the hump." The room looked brand new. It had obviously been refurbished recently. The carpet was brand new, and very soft. The new bedding has been installed and it was very comfy. This cruise made stops in Aruba, Curacao, St. Maartin, and St. Thomas. Every stop was wonderful and we felt safe at all times. The Southern Caribbean is my absolute favorite. I very highly recommend Trunk Bay on St. John for a St. Thomas excursion. It was the most beautiful beach I've ever seen. For entertainment, The Platters and El Gaucho were on board. Both were great. The Production Shows were "Jackpot" and "Can't Stop The Rock." Jackpot could be missed, but Can't Stop The Rock was very good. Plus, the ice show was fabulous, as always. There was one very big downer to this cruise. I've read in the past about complaints concerning high numbers of Puerto Ricans on board. This did not bother me. But on board, I quickly came to realize these complaints were spot on. This cruise had 1700 Puerto Ricans, which seems to be common on this ship. I tell it like it is. And I will not make an exception here. Of 13 cruises, this cruise had the rudest group of passengers I've ever encountered. Here are a few examples: There were numerous people walking around with low-rider jeans showing their underwear, wife-beater shirts, crooked hats, and gold teeth. Don't think ghettos exist on cruise ships? Well, that seems to be changing. Don't even think about going into Jesters Night Club late at night. It looked like an inner-city bar ready to break out into gang violence at any moment. This is not an exaggeration. The line cutting was out of hand. The Pool Deck was also out of control. A woman actually stole my pool chair while I was in the pool! One night, these people TRASHED the Solarium. The deck was covered in broken glass and chicken bones. Every single bad incident involved the Puerto Ricans. They had no respect for the boat and their fellow passengers. I could go on and on with examples, but you get the point. Despite this beautiful ship and wonderful crew, this was my LAST San Juan cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
I was on Adventure from November 11 to the 18th, and had a great time, met a bunch of really interesting people and had yet another great experience with RCCL. For the ships age, Adventure is in great shape, new bedding that we first saw ... Read More
I was on Adventure from November 11 to the 18th, and had a great time, met a bunch of really interesting people and had yet another great experience with RCCL. For the ships age, Adventure is in great shape, new bedding that we first saw on Freedom is installed in all the cabins, and that is a huge plus; slept like a baby every night. The employees went above and beyond and truly exemplify what it means to provide top service in all the ship areas; never saw a weary face, frustrated staff member, just folks trying their hardest to make us welcome and special. The food was what you always expect it to be, not the greatest, but very good to say the least. We did eat at Portofino's and were so impressed we went back a second night. Top notch food and service, you almost forget your on a ship. I'd like to comment on the review written by dddewitt77. The review is so unfair and so prejudicial that I have to set the record straight. First of all, you are sailing out of Puerto Rico so guess what, the majority of people are going to be from Puerto Rico. To say that RCCL has lessened the standard and now promotes a Ghetto type ship is so far removed from the truth. The reality is that in the formal dining area, I never saw anyone arrive to dinner dressed in ghetto clothing. In the common areas there were kids who wore their hats on sideways and such, but by and large they were respectful. The nightclubs were never a place of gang type atmosphere. In fact we were in the clubs most every night, danced and had a great time, never felt threatened. Our table mates were all from Puerto Rico and we did have trouble communicating but we all had a great time together; many laughs, and good times. I am a white male and never once did I see anything that would cause me concern nor did I ever feel threatened. I believe dddewitt77 should take the time to learn that there are other people out there and that cultural diversities exist, and rather than shun another culture because of your preconceived notions you'd do well to learn about their heritage and culture, they are more than willing to share it with you. I love going out of Puerto Rico, the embarkation and debarkation always go so much easier there than say the Port in Miami. Whenever and wherever you cruise it is what you make it to be. The glass is either half full or half empty, how you view it, will determine how well you enjoy your cruise regardless of the people or surroundings. Well job job by the RCCL staff, and cruise line itself for always trying to make everyone as happy as possible. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
November 22, 2007 Arrived in San Juan on Thursday to tour the city prior to the cruise. Stayed at the Sheraton Old Town and what a nice place to stay. Plenty of areas for people watching and just across the street from the pier for the ... Read More
November 22, 2007 Arrived in San Juan on Thursday to tour the city prior to the cruise. Stayed at the Sheraton Old Town and what a nice place to stay. Plenty of areas for people watching and just across the street from the pier for the smaller ships. On arrival Celebrity ship in port can't remember which one but it certainly gave the sense of how large these ships have become. Ate a small snack and had the first mojito (blue) which by the way became our favorite. Lots of people roaming the streets even though it is 11pm. Getting late so it's off to bed. November 23, 2007 Off to explore the city and low and behold right around the corner is a Starbucks so grab a cup of coffee and we are off. Walked to Fort Morro took approximately 30 minutes at a slow pace and talking in all the sites of the city. The blue cobblestone streets are a nice change. Very narrow streets and it makes you wonder how these people drive them every day. Arrived at the fort via the cemetery, somehow we always find these. Very nice area to stroll around and see that history of the people that have fought and died for this Country. Walked around the outside of the fort on the way to the main part of it. Stopped at some of the turrets around the area. Be careful if you decide to go into them, they are used as bathrooms. Made it to the main part of the fort and walked around there this is a very nice area to stroll around. Great area for pictures and to get a sense of the rum history of Puerto Rico. Watch out for the steps leading to the lower level, lots of them and very steep. Back to the hotel for a shower and more mojitos and then off to dinner at Dragonfly. This is also very close to the hotel less than a 5 minute walk. Had a wonderful dinner there I would highly recommend. After dinner took a stroll around old town and this city comes alive at night. The small squares were all decorated for Christmas and the locals were out in force singing and having a great time. Time for some more mojitos and a little gambling at the hotel. November 24, 2007 Today we decided to take the Bacardi tour and a few blocks from the hotel is the ferry to the other side of the harbor, 50 cents each way. At the other side you are met by someone pointing to you to go to a parking structure to board vans for the trip to the factory $3.00 per person. Not sure if this is round trip didn't take the van back. Trip to the factory is about 10 minutes and you are let out on the Bacardi grounds. Get a tour ticket and with that you get 2 drink tickets at no cost. The wait for us was approximately 30 minutes. Looks like this can get quite long depending on the time of day. Boarded the tram for a 2 minute drive to start the tour. We are led into a building where we are given the history of Bacardi and then into another room for a video. This went on for about 1 hour. The information that was given was very informative and interesting. We are then led out to for the tram to take us further. Unfortunately when the tram arrived it just took us back to the gift shop. Didn't get to see the actual process of making the rum so I would pass on this tour. Dinner tonight was at the Parrot Club which is a sister restaurant of Dragonfly. Didn't care for the service or the food here. November 25, 2007 CRUISE DAY !!!! Well up to pack the bags and tag them for embarkation. Checked out of the hotel and took a taxi to the Pan AM pier $20.00 for the two of us. Taxi driver was a great tour guide giving us a very nice ride to the pier. Took approximately 20 minutes and we are at the pier. OMG this ship is HUGE!!. Get in line to check the bags on and then in line for check in. Arrived at the pier at 11:15 and there was about a 15 minute wait for the doors to open. Once the doors opened it was smooth sailing and we were on the ship by 12pm. Walked around the ship to get our bearings and at this point we realized that there is no way that we would see and do everything on the cruise (we were right). Right at 1pm went to the room and it was ready for us. Cabin Steward Eric stopped by and gave us the tour of the room. Eric turned out to be fantastic and did an excellent job. Bags trickled in and by 5 pm we had them all. Muster drill was at 6pm shape and lasted about 20 minutes. Dinner and lounge details to follow Ports Aruba, Curacao & St. Thomas Didn't have any excursions planned seeing that we just wanted to get off the ship and walk around the ports and see what we could find. All the ports were very nice and we enjoyed them all. Curacao was the best and had the most atmosphere. Sat at a waterside restaurant to people watch and drink the local libations. The floating bridge did open while we were there and this a cool thing to see. All in all the ports were nice and we had a good time just walking through them. St. Maarten At this port we took the Rhino rider excursion and the only thing to say about this is WOW. This was so much fun. It should be a must for the adventurous person. One word of caution is to remember to take a towel from the ship. The excursion took us to happy bay were we able to swim to shore and snorkel and walk around the beach. The guides were very energetic and knowledgeable. Dinning Main Dining Room Food was very well presented and good. Wait staff was a little off for the week but on a whole was very good. Levion was the head waiter and even though she was a little under the weather she did a very good job. Head waiter didn't even introduce himself and really the only thing he did was on lobster night came around and opened the tails for the other tablemates. He did make his presence known on envelope night where he was all over the place (I wonder why?). Portofino's Well from all the postings about this you have to wonder how they can be that good. Well it is that good. Our 25th was the night that we were there and it was a meal to remember. The service was outstanding and the food was wonderful. Windjammer The food here was very good and prepared well. Room Service Didn't have any problems here either Lounges All the lounges that we visited were very nice. All the staff were friendly and saw to your needs. One point that I must make is at the Connoisseur Lounge. Dexter was an absolutely the BEST. If you are a cigar smoker you must go there. He will take very good care of you. Overall This cruise was for our 25th anniversary and we had the time of our lives. Reading the boards prior about the AOS and Puerto Ricans made me wonder how it was going to turn out. Well there were 1700 Puerto Ricans on board and I never saw anything that would justify the negative comments that I have seen on the boards. This ship was an absolute joy to be on and I would sail on her again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
AOS Review 11-11-07 thru 11-18-07 Now first let me state that this is actually a positive review of OUR cruise on the AOS. Ok, so that being said, be warned this is a very long review and was the best cruise ever! This is mine and my ... Read More
AOS Review 11-11-07 thru 11-18-07 Now first let me state that this is actually a positive review of OUR cruise on the AOS. Ok, so that being said, be warned this is a very long review and was the best cruise ever! This is mine and my husband's 5th cruise. 2 with Carnival (yuk) 2 with Princess out of San Juan (just OK) and our first with Royal Caribbean (THE BEST) This will be a long review so you've been warned! We purchased air through the cruise lines and along with that come the transfers. We have purchased the transfers with other lines and it really didn't have any benefit. We arrived at the airport, our luggage was taken very uneventfully, (on both Princess cruises, my husband had to assist the guys with our luggage to get it on the truck) and we were quickly loaded on a bus for the port. The line was extremely long and we got off the bus. and were taken immediately to a special line for folks with transfers and were on the ship within 15 minutes. Unbelievable! Worth the extra money. THE SHIP AOS is a beautiful ship very well taken care of and we saw no evidence of real wear and tear. We immediately loved the lay-out, very easy to get accustomed to and we went to see the Royal Promenade. What an incredible design....we were in awe. We headed up to the dining rooms for pictures and were taken by the elegance and open feeling regardless of which one you were in. They were all very impressive! We liked the glass, wood and chrome that is everywhere on this ship.....nothing over done or "in your face" like Carnival and yet the whole ship had a fun character to it. It's hard to explain, you just have to see it for yourself. Pictures just don't do it justice. There were several lounges placed around the ship in addition to what is in the Promenade and so it was easy to be "in the thick of things" or find a quiet spot for relaxing and a glass of wine.....PERFECT! A special Thank you to Alyssa (spelling?) in the Aquarium Lounge, she is great! OUR CABIN We booked a D2, balcony on deck 7, and proceeded to see what we were in for in regards to our accommodations. We really liked the layout of the balcony cabin. The sofa was well placed; dEcor mild and Caribbean, storage plenty (although at first glance I was a little concerned) but when you start unpacking you realize just how much storage there really is. The bathroom was very nicely appointed, love the shower doors instead of a curtain!!!! (no slimy attacks by the shower curtain) and the shower larger than on Princess ships...I could actually shave my legs "in" the shower as opposed to having to sit on the floor outside the shower like I had to do on Princess. The removable shower head is a very nice touch not to mention the massage it gave to those sore muscles after long shopping days in port. We were very happy with our "digs"!!!!! THE CREW This had to be one of the biggest surprises (and there were many) of the whole cruise. Let me say that service and my accommodations is the most important thing to me. A vacation can be ruined quickly if the hotel employees or ship's crew are not up to par. THIS CREW IS AMAZING!!!! Smiles all around, from the very first person we came in contact with to the very last person (hated to leave) we came in contact with! They are eager, pleasant, friendly, and very accommodating people and it made all the difference in the world! Even the maintenance guys would stop and say hello, how are you, when seen in the halls. The cabin stewards (we had two as the first one had to leave to go home due to a family emergency we were told) were very good. There was never anything that wasn't done or completed and when I had special requests, like 2 extra FLUFFY pillows, they were there almost immediately. I could go on and on but let me just say again AMAZING CREW all around! ENTERTAINMENT I had read on Cruise Critic that some did not like the entertainment. I can't imagine why! First, the Ice Show was INCREDIBLE. We saw it twice, it was that good. Can't Stop the Rock was very good as well but the show Jackpot was excellent! Sets were elaborate, dancers and singers were EXCELLENT, very impressive! I don't go in much for the pool side games and such but from the looks of the crowd during the belly flop contest, it was fun. The parties on the deck pool side at night were loads of fun and I enjoyed the dancing and crowd watching. We had a Meet and Mingle from our Roll Call and Royal Caribbean really does this well. Gave out tickets and door prizes, food and non-alcoholic beverages....haven't experienced this from Princess or Carnival, so RC once again sits at the number one spot in this category as well. Also, there had been several threads on Cruise Critic stating that the live music was being done away with on RC ships. We did not find this to be the case. There was, thank goodness, a VERY good band out by the pool called Men of Culture. There were several bands of different varieties of music placed all around the ship on a regular basis. All were very good. Another thing worth mentioning is that we didn't have ALL PR/Latin style entertainment as some have stated, at least not on this cruise. Yes, there was a party that was geared toward Latin style but the entertainment around the ship, parties, etc. was Caribbean, jazz, Spanish, rock, etc. So, if you are like I was and concerned about this, don't be.....it was great! GUESTS ON OUR CRUISE This is the much talked about subject on Cruise Critic for the Adventure of the Seas. Let me say that I read tons of threads on this subject, asked questions, had concerns and the following is what we experienced on our cruise. 1. I believe the count was about half PR and half other. 2. Yes, they have a different way of life, a different fashion sense, a different sense of what is rude, etc. 3. Yes, they were in family groups of people 4. No, they didn't scream and yell in the dining room. 5. Yes, they laughed, partied, and had fun but at no time did we witness their partying getting out of control and they DID NOT have fun at the expense of others 6. No, I didn't see anyone drunk or being obnoxious. 7. I saw no one being pushed or shoved. 8. There was not a time the whole cruise that I felt that my safety was compromised. On one of the days at sea, we were on the upper deck overlooking the pool and some of the kids were jumping in the pool. It happened one time and one of the crew IMMEDIATELY, went over, told them to stop, stood there for a while to be sure that it stopped, came back several times to be sure that it wasn't continuing. After what I read on the boards, I have to say that from what we saw, the Captain, Hotel Director, and Crew are taking very seriously any display of un-safe behavior. and their direction to the crew to keep a close eye on everything and both the Hotel Director and the Captain were very visible throughout the cruise. Whatever, the reason, there were no issues of bad or un-safe behavior. Several times while we were in large crowds in the promenade, the PR people were just like everyone else. If trying to make their way through a crowd of people, we heard "excuse me" "pardon me" . There was no difference here at all. We never experienced or witnessed any behavior that made me feel un-safe or that would have angered me. The people referred to by some as "the locals" were, on our cruise, polite, fun-loving folks who dressed a little different than us (the gold chains the guys wore were plentiful but obviously just a trend there) Enough said on this subject expect, my fears, thank God, were not reality. FOOD Ok, this is so subjective so I will not go into much detail here. The food in the Dining Room to us was very good. The food in the Windjammer was good food for a buffet. The food in Portofino's was INCREDIBLE. Service in this restaurant was TOP NOTCH. Loved that in the Windjammer, you actually had servers who were very quick to come to your table to ask what you wanted to drink and if there was anything they could get for you. This is a nice touch as well and different than the other 2 cruise lines. ROOM SERVICE Room Service was always right on target. They were NEVER late, always earlier than they said and NEVER got an order wrong. The chili dip and chips were REALLY good from room service. My husband ordered breakfast a few mornings and it was really good, hot, and cooked to order. No issues for us here! EXCURSIONS We purchased one RC Excursion and that was in Curacao. It was a beach day. We were picked up by a boat, went up the coast line and could see the beautiful buildings of Curacao and were dropped off at a "man made" beach for 2-3 hours. This was very pleasant; the beach was very well done with lots of shade available. We felt that the price for this excursion was very reasonable and was exactly what was advertised. No problems here. THE ISLANDS There were no surprises here as all our stops we have seen before except Curacao and so here is what we did on our own. St. Thomas - Wanted to go to a beach on St. John but the weather was cloudy and so we ended up at Megan's Bay for the day. Not the same beach it was 3 years ago. St. Marten - Shopped for gifts to take home.....nothing new here Aruba - Went on our own to Eagle Beach. Nice beach.....water clear and beautiful. This beach was not very crowded and so we enjoyed a whole day here... IN REVIEW We are now official Royal Caribbean converts!!!!! If all ships and crew are like the AOS, then we have found our cruise home! My husband and I kept comparing the ship, crew, everything to the story of Goldilocks and Three Bears....."Not to hard, not too soft......JUST RIGHT" ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS it's Captain, Hotel Director and Crew were INCREDIBLE. We will be back to this ship as soon as possible as we are experiencing the worst case of Cruise Withdrawals we have every had! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We cruised "December 23-30 aboard Adventure of the Seas. Boarding was a breeze with the SetSail Pass. It took several hours to get our luggage so you may want to carry on sandals, shorts, etc. if you are coming from the frozen north. ... Read More
We cruised "December 23-30 aboard Adventure of the Seas. Boarding was a breeze with the SetSail Pass. It took several hours to get our luggage so you may want to carry on sandals, shorts, etc. if you are coming from the frozen north. Our party consisted of 3 staterooms, 6206, 6208, and 7206. These cabins are at the front of the ship, at the end of a long hallway and were chosen to avoid the problem of people walking or running by the cabins at all hours. It worked almost perfectly. The cabins do not have balconies but were very spacious. 7206 has two large port holes while the 6th floor cabins had one each. Most families with younger children seem to book in the lengthy hall sections where the inside cabin for the kids is across from the outside parental cabin. Our cabins were very convenient to the spa/gym, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Promenade shops. Adventure of the Seas is a beautiful ship. It was tastefully decorated for the holidays though we all thought they could have ditched the Christmas music after the 25th but that is a minor point. The evening entertainment was better than expected, especially MICKEY DOLENZ (formerly of the Monkees and, for those of you over 50, Corky of tv's Circus Boy). He gave an amazing show, really went all out. Book him again!! The Ice Shows were also excellent. Our group ranged in age from 20-55. There were many multi generational groups aboard as you'd expect during the holidays. We had no problems with children or rude people even though the ship was at capacity. The only time it even felt crowded was the two days at sea when people would "reserve" deck chairs even though there were announcements asking that one not leave the chair empty for more than 30m minutes. The second at sea day, we discovered practically empty decks on 3 and 4 with chairs and shuffleboard. They were in the shade which was more than o.k. with us but if you insist on sun be advised that there are chair hogs on board. The basketball court continuously hosted many of the young males on board. In the same area there is also a put put course, rock climbing wall, and in line skate track. All in all, plenty to do. The service personnel both on the floor and in the restaurants were great. The food was surprisingly good considering how many meals are prepared per day! There were many choices and even entrees for vegetarians or those on low cal (sure). The big disappointment was not being able to get into Portofino's, the italian restaurant. I was told that one could not reserve ahead of the cruise. I called the minute I got to the stateroom and it was already booked for every night of the week! I was told that travel agents call to make reservations early in the day for their clients. The pools and hottub areas were luxurious with a italian flair. The solarium area is adults only and we noticed no problems with enforcement. Internet service is very slow and only available in a few areas of the ship. I brought a lap top but there were plenty of computers available in the internet room. Cost is around .50 a minute and it takes about 5 minutes just to log onto email. Our itinerary changed a bit because of Christmas. Our first day was in St. Thomas. We stayed on board because we'd been there and just wanted to relax. Aruba has nice beaches but skip the town. Curacao boasts a new quay area with a nice walk to the colorful town. Beware the floating pedestrian bridge: it moves to allow ships to come and go. Seventeen people missed our departure when the bridge opened and they were stranded on the wrong side of the water. St. Maarten/St.Martin was our favorite: a nice town development is accessible by water taxi from the ship. Beach, shops, restaurants, etc...We toured the island by cab. There are some fabulous areas. Departure was a bit lengthy. We were close to last and it took several hours to get everyone off. Since one must vacate the cabin by 8 a.m. and stay in the theatre it is a bit boring. I would suggest that if you have a late flight, stay in your cabin as long as you can then have a long breakfast. The San Juan airport was crowded but efficient. Wandering musicians helped everyone stay happy. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Cruise Date: December 2, 2007. I am a 48 year old Caucasian woman who hates people who are rude, or don't follow the rules. I had read all the previous reviews about the Puerto Rican people and had wanted to cancel my cruise because ... Read More
Cruise Date: December 2, 2007. I am a 48 year old Caucasian woman who hates people who are rude, or don't follow the rules. I had read all the previous reviews about the Puerto Rican people and had wanted to cancel my cruise because it sounded so bad. My cruise had 1800 Puerto Ricans and I did NOT experience ANY of the issues mentioned in previous reviews. There were a few rude people; but, overall, everyone was well-mannered. A smile goes a long way. The ship was very clean and the staff was all very friendly. They would go out of their way to satisfy you. Since this was my first cruise, I would have like for someone on the ship to let us know what to do when we first boarded the ship, but we figured it out. We had a D2 balcony room on Deck 9 which was very nice. We were on the Port side, which meant that we were on the island side of the ship when it docked in Aruba and Curacao. The ice show is amazing. Make sure you get tickets. The other shows aren't as great, but are still good. The fitness center is great. The jacuzzi in the fitness center is less crowded than the one by the pool, and there is a changing room next to it. If you want any spa treatments, they are much cheaper on Port days, than on Sea days. Good to schedule on Curacao day, since there wasn't too much to do there. Spa services include: - The Micro Demabrasion Facial was $159 normally, $99 on Port Days. - There are other specials such as Ladies Night (St Maarten and St Thomas days) from 5pm-10pm for $119 you get a back massage, aromatherapy facial, champagne and chocolates. - There was a Mix n Match special for $99 where you choose 3 20-minute treatments (massage, facial, exfoliation). - Hair services include: Shampoo/Finish $35-$80, Shampoo/Cut/Finish $59-$79, Hair up (no shampoo) $49. - Nails services include Manicure $45, Acrylic Nails $85. - There was also Teeth Whitening for $199. The food was very good in the dining room, and the service was amazing. The food in the buffet (Island Grill/Windjammer) was not as good, but comparable to any other buffet, except for the night they had the Mongolian stir fry, which was great. The food at the Promenade Cafe was not great, but was very fast and convenient. The water on the ship was great; don't hesitate to drink it. If you plan to go to either of the midnight buffets, make sure you're there early. The lines are very long. December is the coolest month to go to the islands; however, there can also be some rain. We had about 2 hours of rain during the day in Aruba. We just went back to the ship for lunch during that time, and went on shore later, since we had until 8pm. Orient Beach on St. Martin was great. For $12 we got 2 padded lounge chairs, 2 drinks (1 per person), and a big umbrella. There are lots of bars and places to eat at the beach. In comparison, Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas was very quiet, some may say boring. It was beautiful, but there were very few people there, no water sports like at Orient Beach, only 1 bar/restaurant. For $12 plus a $10 deposit, all we got was a lounge chair each, which we had to drag ourselves to where we wanted it. No drinks, chair padding, or drinks included. Both beaches are sandy-bottomed beaches, no stone or coral to hurt your feet, but no sea shells either. You have very little time in St. Thomas. We didn't get off the ship until after 10am, due to Immigration. Immigration checks were held in the dining rooms. You bring your sea pass card and your passport and they put a mark on your sea pass card. Very fast, no questions. We took organized tours on each of the islands. However, whenever there are stops, you have to wait for everyone to get back on the bus. In St. Maarten, we took a taxi cab to Orient Beach. The bus driver was an excellent tour guide. I would recommend taking a taxi for the island tours. Make sure you give him a big tip so he comes back to pick you up, since there aren't taxis at the beach. There are many bars on the ship. The prices are the same at all. - Tropical drinks $5.00 to $8.95 - Frozen drinks $6.00 to $7.50 - Martinis $8.00 to $8.50 - Beer $3.95 to $5.95 - Wine $5.50 to $8.00 If it's not a cloudy night, make sure you go to the helicopter pad. It's very windy, but you can see so many stars. Go to the 4th deck, go to the front of the ship, take the stairs going up. Overall, it was an excellent cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We selected Adventure of the Seas (12/2-9/2007) for a cruise celebrating both our 60th birthdays and our 40th wedding anniversary - and we chose it based not only by its itinerary but also its reviews from Cruise Critic members, so thanks ... Read More
We selected Adventure of the Seas (12/2-9/2007) for a cruise celebrating both our 60th birthdays and our 40th wedding anniversary - and we chose it based not only by its itinerary but also its reviews from Cruise Critic members, so thanks to all the reviewers who took the opportunity to outline your experiences! We booked it directly with RCL and had no problems whatsoever. In fact, in late November when RCL posted sale prices, we were able to upgrade to a balcony cabin with no problem. I'm a disabled traveler who requires an electric scooter (Nascar Nelly, a/k/a NN) to get around, so this review will also address AOS' accessibility issues as well. We flew into San Juan on December 1st and stayed at the Radisson Ambassador. We'd stayed there the previous summer and were pleased with it, so imagine our surprise when we found out that what was already a great hotel was renovated, and we got what was essentially a Jr. Suite for the same (Priceline.com) price we paid 15 months earlier. Kudos to the property and staff - they were attentive and a delight to deal with. American Airlines had requested that we check my scooter all the way from IAH to SJU. When we arrived at the airport in PR, a wheelchair was there, but not my scooter! Thanks to a caring porter though, (and no thanks to AA) it was found just about the time we were set to leave for the hotel, and we avoided having to search for it the next day. We left for the ship on the 2nd at around 11:30 a.m. and porters immediately took care of our luggage and escorted us right to the doors of the terminal where we were able to find members of our Meet and Mingle group - more about them later however. I was the first person through the doors and the rest of the process was equally smooth. AOS at first glimpse is nothing less than a behemoth, but we soon found that it was a friendly one! Since cabins weren't available until after 1 p.m., our first stop was the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. RCL food, while not necessarily inspired, is attractively prepared and very tasty - not once during our cruise did we find it difficult to find a table. One comment though - cruisers, there is plenty of food to go around for everyone. It's not necessary to take five pieces of cheesecake "just in case." Parents, it would also be a good thing if you were to accompany your kids to the buffet line. The amount of food wasted is obscene - remember that the cost of food...even wasted food...goes into ticket prices! Several reviews have mentioned the behavior of the Puerto Rican community on this ship, since its location and discounted tickets make it an affordable vacation for families living there. Yes, there were issues with peoples' behavior and yes, many of those people were Puerto Rican; but we decided from the first that we were not going to let others ruin our trip. A lot of the problems could be alleviated by using plain old good manners. No one likes to wait in line, especially when you drive a scooter and can't use the stairways. "Please" and "Thank You", "Excuse Me" and "May I" go a long way! Ironically, we had more problems with older couples than we did with kids. One suggestion though...if you're going to claim that you don't speak English, wait until your victim is out of sight before you speak it. I was astounded at older women's ability to leap over NN just to get ahead of me for the elevator. Enough on that topic! This was our first experience with a Meet and Mingle group, and we joined ours late. Someone on the site had suggested that we wear mardi-gras-type beads to help identify each other, and it was truly an inspiration. We were able to find almost all the members of our group on Day One and it was such a treat to meet the people you'd been writing to for such a long time. Our RCL-sponsored event was held on Monday, 12/3 in the Blue Moon. The biggest problem was that RCL hadn't contacted everyone, so a few people missed out - a real shame! Kelly, the RCL rep was a delight, and the items he brought with him for a drawing were welcomed! We had also decided to have a grab bag and decided to do that in a "Rob Your Neighbor" format. Email me if you want more info on that. We each brought a $10 item that represented our home states. They ranged from Christmas Ornaments to candy to sports-related items, etc. and it was a good ice breaker...if you needed that, which we didn't. We enjoyed our time together so much that we scheduled a luncheon later in the week with the help of the Maitre d'. Rather than going day-by-day, I'm going to outline categories, and the first is cabin. As I said, we had a balcony cabin. Because we were late getting it, we couldn't get a handicapped accessible one, but once we moved the coffee table onto the balcony (an inspired move even w/o a scooter) all was well. The beds were comfortable, the linens a dream, and our steward, Peter, took good care of us. The closet space was ample, although the bathroom was miniscule. My daughter and I sailed on Carnival's Destiny in July, 2006, and were spoiled more than a bit! Still, Ed and I managed just fine. Maneuvering around Nascar Nellie (NN got to be a challenge, but we managed. We rarely encountered difficulties getting an elevator, but often had to rely on the "Go Up/Down" to just to get one. Kudos go out to RCL on their accessibility for handicapped people. We sailed on the Rhapsody for our 35th anniversary and had many, many problems - to the point where we ended up sitting down with the Hotel Manager and Purser's staff to discuss it. They've all been addressed. After the life boat drill, they restrict immediate access to those needing it, and the same goes for entrance/exit at Ports of Call. It would be nice if they had a Direct Access Solution for those of us who are "vertically challenged" but again, we managed. Staff in the dining rooms and elsewhere made sure that I was able to get seating so I could navigate the distance to the buffet or whatever else I was seeking with only a minor effort. THANK YOU SO MUCH for installing photo kiosks so that we could find our photos with ease - it's an inspired move. Meals...as said earlier, RCL's food/menus aren't inspired, but are good, plentiful, and attractively presented. The changes made to "what is served at what point in the cruise" leave a lot to be desired. I thought that the fancier food should accompany the fancier nights, but it wasn't that way. I also missed some of the dessert items that were formerly on the menu...we had a lot of pudding-gelatin based desserts that while they were good, weren't what I wanted all the time. (Why on earth isn't the Flourless Chocolate Cake on the dining room menu? It's one item you serve that's absolutely inspired!) It was also the first time that my beverage order wasn't anticipated by the Assistant. Every night I had to tell him that I drink tea and not coffee, and I had to ask for lemon each night as well. Our waiter, Wayan, was excellent. He quickly figured out what we liked and made every effort to be sure that we got it! His recommendations were spot-on and when we missed out on hearing him sing on Thursday night, he sang the Theme from Ice Castles for us on Friday. Wayan, if you ever do make a CD, be sure to let me know! He has hopes of transferring to the Mediterranean next year, and after six years with AOS, he definitely deserves to have those hopes rewarded! A minor point: RCL doesn't provide Splenda, so if you use that particular sweetener, then bring it yourself. Thursday night, we went to Portofino's to celebrate our birthdays/anniversary. It cost an extra $40 for the two of us. They tell you to allow at least 2 hours and that's absolutely right. The food, once again, was good and presented well, but wasn't what I expected from what I'd seen and heard about it. The biggest disappointment, however, came at dessert time. Our waitress took our dessert order and this time the desserts were up to my expectations. What I didn't know, however, was that my husband had ordered a birthday cake for me; and this came AFTER we'd had a huge meal and elegant dessert. There was no way either of us could even try a bite, so we ended up taking it back to our stateroom. (But without plates or utensils, we had to wait until the next day before trying it.) Because of medications, we're unable to drink, so be aware that there is an additional charge for Perrier or sparkling water, even at Portofino's'. Our water bill was $13, so with the cover, cake, etc., our Portofino's bill amounted to almost $70 - still a bargain. Entertainment...it goes without saying that you shouldn't miss the Ice Show. Words are simply not good enough to describe it. The comedian the first night was okay, but either someone behind us was a "plant" or he was much more than "three sheets to the wind" because he laughed loudly at the most inappropriate moments, and we finally ended up leaving. The Production Shows were good compared to other lines, and we enjoyed them. The highlight for us was the "Love and Marriage" show, similar to the TV show. Ed and I were selected as the oldest-married couple and had such fun with it. The clip was shown all during the week (they also sent us a copy of it for our DVD player) and everywhere we went we ran into people who'd seen it and congratulated us. It was followed by the premier of RCL's "Fountains". If you don't go to another event onboard, do be sure that you see this..mere words can't describe it. RCL excels at this type of event, and does it so much better than other lines. "The Quest." an adult-oriented participation later in the week was also a scream. It's truly amazing what people on vacation will do for a key chain! Enough said. I guess what I'm saying is that you get out of this type of entertainment just what you put into it. If you go on a cruise, you get out of it what you put in. These shows are not Las Vegas, but if you want Las Vegas, then go there and not to the Caribbean. Shore Excursions...we've done a lot of cruising, so we tend to avoid those provided by the cruise line. If you're new to an island, would I recommend you use the line? Absolutely. We rented a car in Aruba and explored the island. Be aware that the side roads are not well marked, but that you can usually see where the ship is, so it's hard to get lost. Baby Beach is absolutely elegant. It's the one you see on post cards with the white sand and turquoise waters. Shopping prices here tend to be a bit steep, but there are other islands to come. Last summer, we rented a jeep and went off-roading with a G.I. at the wheel. It was something never to be forgotten - my finger-marks are still on the post of the jeep - and is something everyone should experience here. This is the island of extremes...desert as well as tropical paradise... and great for photographs. We had problems getting an accessible tour in Curacao, so explored the downtown area on our own. It, too, is a beautiful island, but its beauty is somewhat marred by the oil refineries and their sooty smoke. Friends took the Trolley Tour, which they enjoyed, but were disappointed that it only covers the downtown area and none of the countryside. St. Maarten was next, and it is beautiful but unmarred. Be aware that much of the downtown area has curbs and uneven surfaces - not easy to maneuver if you're disabled. The bus to the French side is easily found and very affordable, as is the Water Taxi. The people operating it were wonderful with NN, and she made the trip with ease! If you've always wanted to ride a Segway (personal mobility device), this is the place. Our table-mates did the underwater scooter tour and said it was well worth the cost. They also visited the Seaquarium in Aruba and swam with the dolphins - highly recommending it. In St. Thomas, we did a "Godfrey" tour which we've done before. This time, however, he had someone else who operated ours and we didn't find it as good as the "real thing". Still, it's one of the better tours we've found. If you're a shopper, St. Thomas is heaven! Shopping...there's no denying that many people cruise for just this. That's not us, or perhaps I should say that we've been there and done that. The one thing I would suggest is that if you're shopping for jewelry and/or electronics, stick with the recommended stores unless you're sure of what you are getting. Even then, if you need to do a return or have a problem, don't expect a great deal of help. Be a smart shopper and know your prices ahead of time. Yes, it's tax free and duty free for the most part, but only you know how much a bargain it is for you. We try to find things that are native crafts or things that are native to the particular island we're on, and have found some wonderful bargains in the process. I have a snakewood walking stick from Barbados that brings comments wherever I go...and it cost me all of $6. I found some lovely Christmas ornaments at a stand outside the pier in Curacao this trip, and after talking with the artist, will remember her whenever I hang them. We've found that while a ship is in port, many ship-related tours and programs are scheduled since the bulk of the passengers are gone. My advice to cruisers is to be selective - don't feel that you have to do a tour or shop at every port. A cruise is about relaxation as well as tourism; and if you go home absolutely exhausted, then you lose some of the joy of the trip. Go through the information available on the different ports and be selective! Don't feel that you have to do every bingo game or Sudoku or Trivia game. Do what "floats your boat." Debarkation and travel...My biggest complaints came the final day of the cruise. The buffet lines were jammed and we were running out of food - or it just wasn't put out. My suggestion to RCL is that you push back the boarding times and put more attention to getting your existing cruisers off the ship happily...or as happy as one can be when your vacation is at an end. We'll also probably add an extra day at the end of our cruise next time. Our shore excursion was cancelled and the others wouldn't or couldn't guarantee that they'd get NN to the airport safely, so we ended up going to SJU at 9:30 a.m. for a 5:30 p.m. flight. I'd heard that some people were able to get a "Day Room" but when I checked, the Best Western rate for five hours was $133. I'd paid only $130 for a suite at the Radisson and the regular online price at the airport Best Western was around $78, so we passed on that. This was our fault, though, and not the cruise line. American Airlines was another story, and we won't fly them again unless we have to. As usual, flights were delayed by upwards of an hour. Again, they wanted to check NN through to IAH, and we did. When we arrived in Miami to change planes though, we were short a wheelchair and while we were two gates down trying to work it out, my husband glanced over and saw someone walking past pushing NN. Thank heavens we saw her or who knows where she'd be! The wheelchair attendant had been given not only the wrong flight but also the wrong gate and it ended up being a nightmare. We asked that a Customer Service Agent be paged, but he or she never showed up. The second leg was delayed 90 minutes and it was well after midnight when we got to IAH. It was not a good ending for what had proved to be a great cruise. Tipping...I'm not the only person who says that since they've changed tipping procedures, service has declined. We opted to pay them ourselves at the end, and while we got very good service from everyone, it was still not as good as "the old days." Someone I met said that he paid his attendants ahead of time, telling them that if service warranted, an extra amount would be added at the end. Who knows, that may be the way to go, but not for me. I can understand, because that last night, we saw a lot of empty tables in the dining room. Hopefully, those people had taken care of it before, but I wonder... As usual, we tipped over the amount suggested when service warranted; and that works for us until something better either comes along or it all goes back to what was. In retrospect, aside from flying a different carrier and scheduling an extra day at the end of our cruise, we wouldn't change a thing. RCL proved once again that they're the best for us. We had what we felt was great value for the money; and we feel that the line respects its clients. In today's world, you can't ask for much more than that. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. We're already talking about where we go next!! One last thing...don't forget to meet and mingle. It saves your friends from hearing about your trip incessantly before you leave, and gives you a chance to meet new people and make new friends. Happy sailing! Don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions or comments. Read Less
Adventure of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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