Adventure of the Seas Cruise Review by hardingk
- Sail Date: September 2005
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
Saturday, September 3rd -- We flew down to San Juan early on a 7:10 AM American Airlines Flight from JFK. Flight was painless and we arrived into SJU at 11:00 AM. Got our luggage quick and then headed over to the Hertz Rental Car Area to get our rental car. We are Hertz Gold members, so our car was ready, but we had requested an Escape and they had given us a Toyota Rav-4 which was too small to fit all 6 pieces of our luggage in so we had to go inside and have the car switched to an Escape that was sitting out in the lot. No problem, 15 minutes later we had the new car and were on our way to the hotel. It was only about a 5 minute drive to the hotel from the airport as the Isla Verde Area is right next to the airport.
Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan We got a great rate on the Hampton Inn Website of $149 for 3 adults for a king, pool view suite. The room had a separate bedroom with a king-size bed, chest with 3 drawers and a 27 inch TV, 2 night tables and a closet. The other room had 1 huge chair, loveseat sized couch that pulled out into a full size bed, 29 inch TV, a table with 2 chairs, a coffee table, mini bar that had a small sink, small microwave, coffee maker and a mini-fridge. There was also a good size bathroom between the living room & bedroom. The room was nice and clean. The hotel had a huge sitting area in the lobby where they served a free continental breakfast in the morning and beverages all day along with a flat panel TV. There was also a nice sized pool with a swim-up bar and a hot tub. You also get free high speed internet access at the hotel as well!
The hotel is walking distance from the beaches, Walgreen's, Pueblo's supermarket, and many fast food restaurants. We ate lunch at the poolside grill and it was awesome!! DH and I had hamburgers and my brother had a grilled chicken sandwich. They were all amazing!! They had great flavor and huge portions for only $22 with soda. We really recommend you try the poolside grill if you ever stay there! The only negative to the hotel is that it did have a slight smell of mildew and because it was Labor Day weekend, the hotel was sold out and packed with a lot of "locals" so it was a bit noisy!
After lunch we drove over to the Bacardi Factory (the reason why we rented the car) and took a tour, had a few drinks, and bought a few souvenirs. The tour was free and was interesting. If you have the time, it is something worth seeing. We drove back to the Isla Verde area and stopped at the grocery to pick up a few items for the cruise and then had dinner near the hotel. After dinner we just hung out at the hotel and watched TV and got everything ready for the next day.
Sunday, September 4th -- We got up at 9AM and had breakfast at the hotel. Their free continental breakfast had a lot of options and was pretty good. After breakfast we went back to the airport to return the car, hoped on the Hertz shuttle and got a quick taxi back to the hotel for $8. We got our luggage ready and tagged and then head down to the lobby to check out at 12PM. We got a taxi right away and then head over to the pier, it was $22 with tip to the pier from the Isla Verde area.
Pier Check-In -- We are diamond members and went straight to the Diamond/Platinum & Suite check-in counter. It was somewhat chaotic outside as the porters were trying to take your luggage right away without listening to where it was supposed to go. One porter took our luggage and put it way down at the other end when ours was supposed to go behind the Diamond/Platinum & Suite check-in counter. This could be why we didn't get our luggage until after dinner!!! We waited online outside for about 5 minutes while one of the gate agents was trying to explain to a family that they had to go into the other line bc they were not Diamond/Platinum or & Suite guests....this should have been a sign as to what was to come!!!! Once inside we went to the "Setsail" Counter and had our SeaPass cards in 2 minutes! The process was so quick!!! We then went over to the Diamond/Platinum & Suite waiting area and waited until 1PM when they let us start boarding. There was a long line however of people outside in the hot sun waiting to board. I think RCL still needs to work on the boarding process in San Juan.
We were one of the first 50 on board and went straight to the Windjammer for lunch as our cabin would not be ready until 2PM. We had a nice leisurely lunch and then went over to Portofino's to make our reservation for Wednesday night. We walked around the pool area and then had down stairs to check out our new home for the week!
We booked an E2 balcony and had cabin 6320. (My brother had cabin 6318 right next door.) We were right on the "bump" and had a slightly larger balcony; however, the negative is that we were right off the elevator banks and will never book a cabin in that area again as we could hear everything and were woken many times during the night by people yelling & screaming (onetime being at 3:30 in the morning of which they were yelling & cursing in Spanish and I ended up calling security.). Our room was neat & clean, it could have used a little more storage space like shelving, but we are good at hiding everything and maximizing the space we had so we had no problems. The only negatives on the cabin was the noise and we had some problems with there not being any hot water or water pressure multiple times during the week and a few times there were problems with the toilets not flushing!
We enjoyed the ship all day and had dinner at 6:30 the first time and then the muster drill was at 8:00 PM. Afterwards, we unpacked as luggage didn't arrive until after dinner and then we went up to the deck as we sailed away from San Juan!
Monday, September 5th - Sea Day -- We spent the day enjoying the pool area, playing bingo, and trivia. Tonight was the first formal night and everyone was dressed up.
Tuesday, September 6th - Aruba -- This was our second time in Aruba. We booked 2 excursions through RCl. The first was the 4x4 Half Day Jeep Safari. This was AWESOME and well worth it! Someone meets you at the pier and buses you to the place where the Jeeps are. Everyone has to spilt up into groups of 4 and then pick out a jeep. We were lucky as only a few were automatics and we got one of them! (You'll see why later….) There were about 25 jeeps in total and we all followed each other on the road.
First we drove to the rock formations…do not do this excursion if you are allergic to bee stings….there were multiple bee hives all through out the rocks and anyone could have been stung easily….I am not sure people knew we were going on this hike bc some people were not in shape to do it and huffed and puffed as we hiked up and down through the rocks. (It was only about 20 mins or so.) Then we got back in the jeeps and drove over to the natural bridge….well here is the sad part…..The bridge collapsed on Friday, September 2nd at 6AM after being there for 4,000 years!!!! They didn't tell us until we got there. The other bridge also had a crack in it as well. After taking pictures there we all got back in the jeeps and headed over to the fort, we stopped there for 10 mins where you could climb around the fort. Now to the fun part…..we spent the next hour plus driving along the coastline on dusty, dirt roads that were super bumpy! I don't think some people knew what they were in for! At one point we came to white sand and they told us not to slow down…..well those people who didn't know how to drive standard well got STUCK!!! We spent over 20 mins getting multiple jeeps out of the sand!! Afterwards, we drove all the way around the island along the coast to the California Lighthouse and then we stopped at Arashi Beach for 45 minutes to swim. The beaches in Aruba are so pretty and clean!
Afterwards, we headed back to the jeep place and returned the jeeps. They drove everyone back to the pier or to the beach, what ever you wanted to do. We had a great time and highly recommend this tour for anyone that is up for an adventure….just be sure to bring sun screen as they are open top jeeps and we got a lot of sun! Also this tour was only supposed to be 4 ½ hours……we were actually gone for almost 7 hours, just an FYI!
Once back on the ship we had lunch at the windjammer and then spent some time in the pool. We showered and got ready for dinner. Dinner on Aruba night is Caribbean night…..this is a good night to book Portofino's in my opinion! After dinner we headed out for our second excursion, the Aruba Bar & Pub Crawl. We meet the Kukoo Kunuku bus right out the terminal. We were supposed to go to 5 bars and get the first drink free at each one, but the first bar was mysteriously closed, so we went to the 2nd one and got an extra free drink. The first 3 bars we went to were all local bars and our group was the only one in them…..a little weird I thought…The last stop was Carlos N'Charlies which is about ½ the size of the one in Cozumel and was PACKED! There was not room to move and we all had to go up to the second floor to get our last free drink. Once we got our drink we headed straight back to the ship as there were just sooo many people there, you couldn't move.
We went to the sail away party on the pool deck, but there were so many people in line for the buffet that we went back down to the Cafe Promenade for a snack and then watched the ship leave Aruba at 1AM!
Wednesday, September 7th - Curacao -- This was our first time in Curacao. We did another excursion through the ship which was a 2 ½ hour snorkel tour where you could see a sunken tugboat. It was about a 45 minute boat ride from the pier out to the snorkel site which was very, very, very rough! Some people even got sick from the waves. Once we were there we had a little over an hour to snorkel. This was the beat snorkeling I have ever done! You could see so many fish and the water was super clear! The ship wreck was neat also! The boat ride back was much calmer and I got some great shots of the ship! Bring sunscreen though because the sun is very strong there! It was so clear that we could see Venezuela from the ship too!
After the snorkel trip we had lunch at Johnny Rockets. The food was great and the service was excellent as well. We used our C&A coupons so we didn't have to pay the $3.95 cover charge, but I would say it was worth the $3.95 anyway! I spent the afternoon at the pool and then we got ready for dinner.
We had dinner at Portofino's that night and it was well worth the $20. The food was amazing and the service was great! I highly recommend going to Portofino's. I had the veal which was good, DH had the fillet which he said was one of the best ever, and my brother had the tuna steak which he said was one of the best ever also! I really recommend going to Portofino's!!! Tonight was also the C&A Party….there were over 560 C&A members on board. They had some good hors d'oeuvres and drinks…but we were so stuffed from dinner! The captain gave some details about the RCL Fleet and told everyone about the Freedom of the Seas in case they didn't know already. He also said that RCL is coming out with something even greater then the Ultra-Voyager Class ship in 2009!!! After the C&A Party we went up to the Blue Moon lounge for a drink!
Thursday, September 8th - Sea Day -- We spent the day enjoying the ship playing Bingo and trivia, contributing to the casino, and relaxing. This was the second formal night and I must say the menu was not appealing at all. I couldn't even tell you what was on it, just that I was not impressed with the menu for a formal night.
Tonight was also the C&A Diamond/Platinum Event which was a private recital with the Rosario Strings trio in the Cloud Nine Room on Deck 14. They had hors d'oeuvres and we got to meet the captain afterwards.
Friday, September 9th – St. Maarten This was our third visit to St. Maarten and we decided to book a duck tour. I booked the tour on our own through www.caribbeanducktours.com. It was $40 per person (in cash) for a 1 ½ hour tour of the Dutch side of St. Maarten. The vehicle is amphibious and took as around the island and then into Simpson Bay for a boat ride. There were just 5 of us on the tour (boat holds 48 people) so we really enjoyed our own private tour of the island! We even got unlimited rum punch and a quacker!!
After the duck tour we walked around Front Street and checked out some of the shops. They did have some great buys and St. Maarten is the place to buy basic liquor like Bacardi, Absoult, Baileys etc for $5-7 a bottle. You can also get basic cigarettes for $15 a carton there like Marlboro’s etc. We ended up at our favorite place, The Guavaberry Emporium and stocked up on our favorite liquor! They even ship it right back to the ship for you!
We then headed back to the ship (it is a $3 per person ride to/from the pier to/from downtown Philipsburg). We had lunch at the Windjammer and then spent the afternoon at the pool. Tonight was semi-formal night and they had lobster on the menu “The Fisherman’s Platter” as it is now called. Tonight was Win-A-Cruise Bingo, but we lost ?, we spent the night at the sports bar watching the Yankees vs. Red Soxs!!
Saturday, September 10th – St. Thomas -- First, because we were arriving into a US Territory everyone had to go through immigration on the ship before we were allowed off. Between 7:30 – 9:00 AM everyone had to go to the dining room and show proof of their citizenship. It was painless, just that you had to get up early and walk on a long line throughout the dining room while everyone scanned your seapass card, looked and your passport and then marked your seapass card!
Once we were done with that we had breakfast in the Windjammer and then my brother and I went on the Skyride to Paradise point to take a few pictures of the ship. It had rained a little while earlier so it was super humid and we were soaked by the time we got to the top. We took a few pictures and then went right back down! The view was amazing though. Had it been clear, we would have been able to see Puerto Rico perfectly along with Sabe Island and we could see Visques Island. We then got a taxi into town ($4 per person each way) and did a little shopping. St. Thomas has a great selection of liquor; however, know your prices because some things were cheaper on the ship. My brother bought some liquor and cigars and I got some Clinique items and then we headed back to the ship. We had lunch at the Windjammer and then DH and I went on a ships excursion to Meghan’s Bay called Meghan’s Bay Beach Getaway. A taxi meet us at the pier and took us to a look out point where we took a few pictures of the ship and then we went to Drake’s Seat for a few pictures of Meghan’s Bay from above. Then the driver brought us down to the beach for 2 hours. We rented a lounge chair for $6 and enjoyed the warm water and the sun! The driver brought us back to the pier or could drop you off in town if you wanted. We went back to the cabin and started packing and got ready for dinner.
The last dinner was again not that appealing. We gave our waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter their tips and thanked them for their service over the week. We did notice that several people did not come to dinner that night. After dinner we finished packing and then spent some time at the Promenade.
Sunday, September 11th – Disembarkation -- Because we are diamond members were had first priority to get off the ship. We got up at 6:30 AM showered, got breakfast and packed up everything else. At 8:05 AM they called Letter “D” to get disembark. We went down to deck 4 and the line did not move. We stood for over 30 minutes inching along to the seapass security checkpoint as people cut in line and pushed their way through. There was NO one from the ship monitoring the process at all. The only RCL employee was the security man who was checking the seapass cards, have of which were not working holding up the line. We saw people who had passes of numbers 4 and higher getting off the ship when they hadn’t even been called and no one was there monitoring it at all. RCL really need to improve the disembarkation process. Once we got off the ship we found our luggage right away and cleared customs. We also paid $10 person for a new service offered by American Airlines and RCL called American Airlines Luggage Valet. We filled out a paper by Friday with our flight details and on Saturday night we got an envelope with our luggage tags and boarding passes. Once we came through customs we just brought our suitcases over to the American counter and they took them to the airport for us!
Our flight wasn’t until 2:10 PM so we called the Hampton Inn & Suites and San Juan to see if we could get a room for the day. They had availability so we took a taxi from the pier to the hotel for $20 with tip to the hotel and checked in. It was great because we took a nap and I was able to download all my e-mails for the week and we had another great lunch from the poolside grill! Well, we checked out at 1PM and right as we checked out and got in the taxi, I got an update from American Airlines that our flight was delayed (it had been thunderstorming pretty hard for the last hour or so). We got to the airport and went through security, to find out our flight was delayed even more. It ended up leaving 2 hours late.
Once we finally landed at JFK, we waited 30 minutes on the tarmac for an agent to bring us to the gate and then another 25 minutes at the gate waiting for another agent to bring the jetwalk over to the plane. Once we were finally off the plane, we waited 10 minutes for our luggage which ended up coming out on 2 conveyer belts and took forever to find out luggage. We ended up not getting home till 9:30 PM. :(
The Ship -- Adventure was great. There were some things that I liked better about her over her sister ship the Navigator that we had been on like the Sports bar, the Windjammer, and the children’s pool & area looked nice. However, I did miss the all glass balconies and chops. The ship is great shape; however, you could see some wear in some of the carpet and elevator buttons. Our cabin could have used a new bedspread as well.
The Crew & Staff -- Everyone was extremely friendly. Our cabin attendant Anthony was good and gave us everything we asked for! Our waiter Cristian was great and got us anything we asked for. Claudio our assistant waiter was a little spacey, but got was what ever we asked him for. He did forget all the time though that DH was lactose intolerant and would try to give him sour cream, or a creamy dressing etc every night and we would have to keep reminding him of DH’s dietary needs! Yolanda was our head waiter and she was good. She checked on DH every night for his dietary needs and got him a few special deserts! We saw the captain several times out and about in the Promenade and he was always saying hello to the guests!
We did have one problem with a staff member….the loyalty ambassador/future cruise consultant. My brother booked his next cruise while onboard on Monday and on Thursday I noticed the price had gone down while I was checking my e-mail. I called the “FCC” and left him a message that I noticed the price had gone down and would like the price adjusted and that he had spelt the last name wrong. We saw him later that night at the Diamond/Platinum C&A Party and he said that he had gotten our message and would change it. Well by Saturday afternoon we had not heard back from him so we went down to him and asked him about it. He said he had corrected the spelling of the name and sent it over this afternoon. I asked him about the price change and he said he didn’t looked. So I asked him to check and he told us what the price was and I explained that it had gone down over $300pp. He said “oh”. I asked him to change it and left my brother there with him to fix it while I met DH. My brother came back 10 minutes later saying that he said he “didn’t know how to fix it”!!!!!!! Isn’t he the Future Cruise Consultant??? Isn’t that his job??? Our table mates then told us that the night before they went down to book a cruise and he told them to “book it online, it is cheaper that way” and wouldn’t help them. They went to guest relations and complained, but no one every got back to them about booking their cruise. So we too then went to gust relations and filed a complaint and no one got back to us as it was the last night (even though that is not an excuse!). So RCL will be getting a phone call first thing Monday morning about the situation and I hope they adjust the price!
Food -- Overall, we had a great cruise and really enjoyed the ports. The only downfall was the quality and selection of food. There was nothing that really stood out as appealing on the menus, it was the same things as before and the quality of the food was not that great. Celebrity’s food is much better in my opinion.
Negatives: Besides the food the other negative is that because the ship did not fill up, RCL offered a huge discount to Puerto Ricans and there were over 1,800 of them onboard…more then 2/3 of the ship. All the announcements were made in Spanish and English, even bingo. Some of them were very rude especially the children. They wouldn’t run rampant all over the ship yelling and screaming and no one said a word to them. I even caught one of them making fun of a heavy lady in the elevator and scolded them in Spanish. They didn’t say a word once they knew that someone else understood them. I am not so sure that we will ever leave out of Puerto Rico again though.
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