For our annual Spring Break cruise, our family of 3 decided on the warm climate of the Southern Caribbean. Our family (Dad, Mom & Daughter, 14) have been on cruises for the last 3 years on Carnival Spirit class ships; two to the Mexican Riviera and one to the Western Caribbean. Mom & Dad had been to the Southern Caribbean many years ago and thought it would be a great time to re-visit. For 2008 we were bit by cruise fever and booked this year's cruise two weeks after our 2007 cruise. After a fair amount of research we decided on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas. None of our family had been on RCI before and we had heard so many great things about the line, we wanted to try it (our previous cruises being on Carnival, Norwegian, and Holland America). In booking this cruise, we booked direct with RCI and arranged all of our travel (including transfers) through them in order to guarantee not being responsible for missed/late flights. Coming from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle), with a fairly narrow window of vacation time, we didn't have time to get in a day early or out a day late. Our cruise documents came in on time and included, of course, the dreaded red eye flight to the San Juan, Puerto Rico embarkation point from Seattle via Washington, DC (Dulles/United Airlines). The flight, including connections, went well; and we arrived in plenty of time at the San Juan airport. We were, however, concerned that all of the 5 checked bags would make it all the way; in fact they did. There was a RCI agent near baggage claim who guided us to a meeting point, put us into single file, and marched us to our transfer vans. When we got there we were told to hand our baggage to their baggage handlers where they were tossed into the back of a small box van. Often you are told about tipping porters; here there was not really the opportunity and it was the last time we saw our bags until they showed up outside our room. For expediency's sake, I would recommend having your cruise tags on and all your items for the day with you before you leave baggage claim. The trip from the airport was relatively quick except for another party on the bus had become separated from another in their party and slowed us down by having to verify where all their passes were. The embarkation was the smoothest I think we have ever been through. We got to the ship around 11:30AM and were able to go through a shorter line as we didn't have any luggage to check. The check in was simple as Mom always completes the sea pass first and has everything organized perfectly. The trip through security and screening was no big deal and we were on board really quickly. Being the first trip on a ship as big as Adventure of the Seas, we were a little concerned about there being 'too many people' on the ship and it being too big. Carrying over 3000 passengers, Adventure carries about 1000 more passengers than Carnival's Spirit class vessels. In spite of that, it sure didn't feel that way. Waiting was really only a problem where it comes to elevators. The ship itself, to us, was beautiful; very nicely decorated though not gaudy. Materials seemed well chosen and of good quality. Our room, an outside cabin with balcony was clean and comfortable. It was probably smaller than the Carnival ships we have been on, with a little less storage. The room had a bunk (over the main bed) for our daughter; this was comfortable enough (except for dad regularly slamming his head into it) though the Carnival ships had a convertible sofa for this purpose. The sofa in our RC cabin was not very comfortable and largely useless. One of the best benefits of this cabin was that the door to the balcony was a sliding door that required no bungees to keep open! The deck chairs were comfortable. The bathroom was typical of most every other cruise ship we have been on; tight but efficient. This ship had a hard plastic shower enclosure so there was no wrestling with any shower curtain. Water was warm, to hot. The shower was relatively easy to control the temperature, but it was hard to get cold water at the sink sometimes. The toilet was sometimes reluctant to flush; but eventually it decided to after a few minutes. The layout of the ship was generally OK though getting around was more difficult than it seemed it should be. Elevator travel was pretty bad; especially after a shore excursion. Further, you couldn't skip up a floor and migrate to the other end of the ship to catch the other elevator bank as a lot of the lower floors do not 'go through'. As could be expected, these always seemed to be overly busy at meal time or when coming back from a shore excursion. Dining areas, including the Windjammer informal dining area, are on the aft end of the ship. The ship also had an ice rink, putting course, in line skating course and a basketball court. These seemed to get a fair amount of use; though with dad's recently torn ACL we didn't use a lot of them. The main pool deck is carpeted with 'Astroturf' which was cool to the feet; though you could still get some hot feet on the hard woods near the pool. There were the typical sea day scourges of lounge savers. We did not see RCI enforce this though we didn't have too much of a problem finding space in some nook or cranny. There is a small kid's pool/slide on the aft end that seemed popular. This was also near the kids clubs; our daughter didn't participate in any of these, nor the teen programs, so we can't really comment on them. The other common areas of the ship that we saw include the main promenade, libraries, lounges and internet 'cafes'. The promenade seemed, for some reason, smaller than the pictures we had seen of it. Nonetheless, it was nicely decorated, a good location for people watching or getting a drink. We didn't see a lot of food available as you would think in a typical pub/bar scene but you could probably find food somewhere else. There were also a number of shops down there that were selling the typical cruise fare of merchandise; nothing too special except for the cruise doggie T-shirts. The lowest aft floor had the photo display area and art display near the entrance to the ice rink. This trip we didn't feel the impact of ships photographers like we have in the past. We also didn't purchase any of the photos they took. The lines for many of the sessions seemed long as well. One of the main things people seem to comment on is the food. While our experience is largely a comparison from our Carnival Spirit class ships; suffice it to say we were disappointed in the food. This may be partly from high expectations and shouldn't be construed as saying the food was bad; however, the food was the most disappointing, to us. Simply put, we thought the menu was un-imaginative, bland and not up to the standards we have expected from our previous cruises. We are not really into haute cuisine, but thought it would be better than it was. We were told that this cruise had a new menu that was being worked through. There is room for improvement. None of the dinner dishes seemed to have any flair or spice to them. The steaks were marginal, seafood plain and chicken very average. One night there was a menu entitled "Brilliance of the Seas" so I doubt they were firing on all cylinders. No sign of fillet mignon; anywhere. For breakfast, we ate mainly in the Windjammer; this was pretty plain too. The sausage and potato offerings were bland and not too exciting; scrambled eggs varied by additives daily and there was also an omelet bar. There was no midnight chocolate extravaganza. While there were plenty of bars to get a drink or a soda, there was no quick-access lemonade/juice/ice water available right near the pool. Lunch was OK though limited in scope. The meals seemed largely the same day to day. Carnival had a rotating, made to order, menu that was both fun and tasty. RCI, while largely filling and OK to taste, was less than we expected. The entertainment on AOS was about what we had expected. The stage shows were what you would expect on the open seas; there is a reason these acts are on the sea and not on Broadway. That isn't a complaint, just a fact of life in our eyes. The ice show was really pretty good and should not be missed if you are looking for entertainment. Shore excursions!! Aruba was the first; mom & dad had been there before and had high hopes for this island. We had booked on the Jolly Pirates, private booking, but were cancelled due to 'mechanical problems' the week before the cruise. Conveniently, RCI closed its shore excursion bookings at the same time so we couldn't book through them, or anything else. Needless to say our back up was less than inspiring. Our advice, hit a beach straight away or do a jeep trip. Skip the sights of Aruba. Curacao, our second site, was great. We booked a tour through Curacao -ACTIEF, privately. They arranged a 'customized' tour that hit a lot of the island and some of the beaches. It was a lot of fun. Kudos to Howard, our guide, who made it most fun; probably the best guided tour we have been on. St. Maarten mom & daughter went to a beach (Oyster Bay - don't miss the infinity pool) and shopping. This was probably the best shopping opportunity for our family; especially if you are into 'purses'. Look for Sona or Kenny's on Front Street. Dad had booked an excursion on the Americas Cup sailing regatta, through the ship. If you are into sailing, and maybe if you are not, this was the BEST shore excursion that dad has ever been on. We raced a five leg race with a pair of original Americas Cup 12 meter yachts. Everyone wants to be on Stars & Stripes; we were on Canada 2, racing against Stars & Stripes and won. What fun! It can be a lot of work (grinders) but you can also enjoy the ride. A GREAT day. On St Thomas, we ditched shopping and booked a catamaran trip to St Johns for snorkeling, sun enjoyment, and drinks on the way back. This was great for us as it allowed us some relaxing downtime towards the end of the cruise. Other random comments: Drinks seemed more expensive than they should be; caveat emptor, and be aware of ways to minimize the hit. We had read about the 'make up' of the passenger clientele being skewed to a particular direction; this cruise was no different than any we had been on before and probably better behaved than some. The service was generally great; we would not discount RCI based on this. Our trip back from San Juan took TWO DAYS!! Booked through RCI on United we missed connections and spent a lost day in Washington DC. We were taken care of and put up in a nice place, but when you call RCI and ask about 'getting us home' they tell you that 'you have to talk to United; we have a contract with them.' What about our contract with RCI?!! In all, we had a great time. While we were disappointed in a number of factors, none of them ruined our trip. We probably would do this trip and other RCI trips, again but with different expectations.