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On this cruise were my husband and me (ages 30 & 29) and my in-laws. This was my sixth cruise (4 previously with RCI and 1 with Carnival), my husband's third, and my in-laws' first. We arrived in San Juan the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. This hotel was a 10-15 - minute drive from the Pan American Pier. I loved staying in Old San Juan because there was plenty to do and see there. We had dinner at the Parrot Club, which was excellent. My husband and I went to Senor Frog after dinner, but it was pretty dead there, so we had just one drink and then decided to use the match play coupons given to us by the hotel. (This hotel has an attached casino.) I won $75 in blackjack that night (which was later "donated" to the casino on Adventure)! The morning of the cruise, we had breakfast at La Bombanera, which (along with Parrot Club) had been highly recommended here on Cruise Critic. The food at La Bombanera was great (Try the mallorca!), but the service left a lot to be desired. Embarkation was the fasted and easiest I have ever experienced. We arrived a little before noon. It took less than 30 minutes from stepping out of the taxi to stepping on to the ship. The only time we had to wait in a line was to drop off our luggage with the porters. Since it was so early, the cabins weren't ready yet, so we headed to the Windjammer. I was still full from breakfast, so I can't comment on the food, but the service was much better than it had been on previous cruises. There was always a server available to bring a drink or clear away the used plates. The cabins were supposed to be ready by 2:00, but by 2:05 the doors to the hallways were still closed (at least on Deck 9). After seeing several people open the doors themselves and go to find their cabins, I decided to do the same. The cabin was ready, but this was the messiest cabin I have ever had. I always bring a packet of Clorox wipes with me to disinfect things like door handles, the phone, and TV remote; but this time I actually had to use them to clean the cabin. Some kind of liquid had been spilled or splashed (and dried) against the wall, the cabinets, and drawers, so I cleaned those off myself. There was a similar type of stain on the outside of the front door that would not come off. In the bathroom, our shower doors wouldn't close completely, leaving a half-inch gap that let water out onto the floor. After my first shower, the shampoo was empty and remained empty for a couple of days while we tried to get in touch with our cabin steward. We tried calling him, but that didn't work. We thought about leaving a note, but we didn't have any tape, and I kept thinking that surely we'd run into him in the hallway sometime anyway. (We finally did two days later.) I didn't get a good night's sleep during the entire cruise. The bed was extremely hard - like sleeping on a board with a blanket tossed over it. And our wall often made a clicky, creaking sound which kept us up at night. The food was good but not great. Some of the food was bland, such as the vidalia onion tart, which had been so good on Explorer. The service was mostly good; there were just a few occasions of being served the wrong item. The bartending service at dinner, however, was exceptional. The server (Garry?) always remembered exactly how I like my after-dinner coffee. And I was very impressed that when he saw me at the Crown & Anchor party he remembered my name and came over to say hi. I was disappointed at the number of people wearing jeans and casual t-shirts in the dining room, but I guess that's getting more and more common these days. Most people, however, were appropriately dressed. We ate at Portofino one night, and the food and service there were much better than in the main dining room and much better than what I experienced at Portofino on Explorer last year. The seafood skewer was absolutely delicious! We also had lunch at Johnny Rockets. Again, the service was significantly better than it had been on Explorer. However, after waiting at least 30 minutes to sit down, I did not appreciate the server's attempts to rush us through our meal. They really ought to try to fit in another booth or two up there. One other disappointment was learning that RCI no longer does the Gala Midnight Buffet. They did have a poolside buffet one night, which was okay, but I really miss the spectacle and tradition of the Gala buffet. The production shows on this cruise were not quite up to par with what I've seen in the past. I thought they were cheesy, a little boring, and generally unimpressive. The performers were great, but I think they need a new idea for their shows and a new choreographer. The first adult comic was hilarious, but the second one (the older gentleman) was not very funny at all. We attempted to watch "Beatle Mania," but it was so loud that it was becoming painful. And I'm someone who has enjoyed front-row seats at alternative/rock concerts in the past! We left during the second song, and my in-laws left during the third. As a former figure skater, coach, and choreographer, I am always eager to see the ice show, but I was a little disappointed with this one. Aside from the part with the giant metal rings (which was really amazing and something I had never seen on ice before), I felt a lot like I did watching the production shows - the performers were great, but the substance and choreography of the show itself were not very impressive. This is kind of random, but I was really surprised and annoyed by the fact that the casino won't take dollar coins. I know they're not really common, but they're legal, legitimate currency! And I'm not just talking about using the coins at the tables or in the machines, I couldn't even get the cashier to take the dollar coins and give me dollar bills to use in return! I like bringing dollar coins on the cruise for easy tipping, and I had planned to use the rest of what I had left in the casino on the last night. Oh well, I guess they saved me some money! Shore Excursions: Aruba: Sail, Snorkel, Swim, & Swing - This was a really fun excursion run by Jolly Pirates. The snorkeling (2 different sites) was very good, and the rope swing was a blast. My only complaint about this excursion is that they could have been a little more generous with the open bar. The rum punch was so weak that some of us started asking for an extra shot of rum in our drinks. The girl serving drinks did give us an extra (small) shot of rum, but she seemed less than thrilled about doing it. On most excursions that offer an open bar, they're constantly refilling your drinks, but on this one, I almost felt bad about asking for a drink. But the excitement of the rope swing more than made up for the lackluster bar service. Sunset Catamaran - They were much more generous with the drinks on this one, and they had a better selection of drinks too. One warning: If they tell you that the seas are rough, do not go to the very front of the catamaran! I did and got completely drenched when we suddenly hit a big wave! I was soaking wet for the remainder of the cruise. Nevertheless, I found this to be a very nice, relaxing excursion that offered excellent views of the ship lit up at night. Curacao: Culinary Delights - Being a beach-lover and not much of a cook, I wasn't sure how I'd like this excursion, but I decided to take a chance and try something different, and I am so glad I did! This was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Clarita and her wonderful staff made the cooking fun and easy. And after all that cooking, it was really nice to sit out on the back porch and enjoy a long lunch (with some pretty good wine) with about 20 of my fellow cruisers. Clarita also told us a lot about the local culture and life on the island. When I got back home, I made the "hidden sardines" with "spicy onion pickle" for my family and everyone went nuts for it! I know it sounds strange, but I promise you it's delicious! After the excursion we went across the street to a little pastry shop for an extra treat, and then we were led back to town where we could either go back to the ship or explore the area on our own. St. Maarten: We got a good deal on some jewelry at Joe's on Front Street. (This is one of the recommended shops in the shopping booklet.) At 10:30, we decided to get an early lunch before our scuba excursion. We tried the Greenhouse, but they don't open until 11:00. Next we tried Holland House, but they don't open until noon. We went back to Joe's to pick up my jewelry (I needed a ring resized.) and the salesman there recommended Talula Mango's for lunch. This was a casual restaurant with very good food. (The shrimp and scallop skewer was delicious!) We ate outside on the covered patio where we had a view of the boardwalk and the ship in the distance. Then it was off to our Discover Scuba excursion, which we've done several times before, and once before in St. Maarten. Our guide, (Kelly?), was great at pointing out interesting fish (and an octopus!) that we wouldn't have noticed on our own, and she even took a few pictures of us scuba diving with my underwater camera. The diving was fantastic, and even the ride to and from our dive site was really nice, with great views of the ship and the coastline. We bought one bottle of Rum Jumbie in St. Maarten, and wished we had bought 3. That is some good stuff, so stock up! St. Thomas: This was my 3rd time here, so we decided to do the St. John Champagne Catamaran. This and the scuba diving were my favorite excursions of the entire trip. The snorkeling at St. John was fantastic! I had planned on spending about half my time snorkeling and half my time on the beach, but there was so much to see that I lost track of time and ended up snorkeling the entire time! The crew was friendly and fun, and very generous with the drinks on the way back to St. Thomas. There was constantly someone walking around to refill our champagne. We also enjoyed snacks of cheese, bread, pretzels, veggie chips, and fresh fruit. I think my favorite part of the entire week was sitting out on this catamaran and soaking up the sun while sipping on champagne and enjoying the beautiful scenery. But no trip to St. Thomas is complete without a stop at Magen's Bay. The beach was surprisingly uncrowded and breathtakingly beautiful as always. We swam for a while, then I relaxed in a lounge chair sipping on a Bushwacker until it was time to leave. Magen's Bay is my favorite place on earth - it really is paradise! The next day it was time to disembark. We had a tour of the Bacardi Rum distillery that day. I was worried that it would be hectic fitting in an excursion between disembarkation and the flight home, but everything was relatively smooth and easy. The only glitch was that we arrived at the Bacardi factory about 50 minutes before they opened, so we had to drive around San Juan for a while longer. We got a nice bus tour, but I would have rather been able to take my time getting off the ship instead. When we did get into the Bacardi tour, it was a little disappointing. We were only given two small rum drinks; I had thought that we'd be able to sample several different varieties of rum. We watched a video on the history of Bacardi, saw artifacts and reproductions, but we didn't really get to see where they make the rum. I would call this a "Bacardi Museum Tour," as opposed to a "Bacardi Distillery Tour." When my parents took this tour last year, they were given samples of the 12-year limited edition rum that sells for $80 per bottle. We were told that this is not available to sample. It's probably a good thing because my parents had warned me that it tastes terrible! On my parents' tour, there was a couple who purchased 2 bottles before tasting it. After tasting it they tried (in vain) to get their money back! I guess they can sell a lot more of the rum now that they don't let anyone taste it first! We used the luggage valet, which I was nervous about, but our bags arrived safe and sound at our final destination. I would not have paid for the luggage valet, however, if I had known that my bags would be taken to the airport in a separate van for free since I had booked an excursion. So the only real benefit of the luggage valet for me was not having to take my bags from the drop-off point at the airport to the check-in counter. Not exactly worth $20. I had been very disappointed with my cruise last year on Explorer of the Seas. I was looking at this cruise on Adventure as Royal Caribbean's chance to redeem themselves; otherwise, I was planning to return to Carnival for my next few cruises. (Love those Carnival beds!) Although it was far from perfect, this cruise did restore my faith in RCI, and we have already booked Adventure for May of '09!

RCI Redeemed!

Adventure of the Seas Cruise Review by perkyblue

Trip Details
On this cruise were my husband and me (ages 30 & 29) and my in-laws. This was my sixth cruise (4 previously with RCI and 1 with Carnival), my husband's third, and my in-laws' first. We arrived in San Juan the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. This hotel was a 10-15 - minute drive from the Pan American Pier. I loved staying in Old San Juan because there was plenty to do and see there. We had dinner at the Parrot Club, which was excellent. My husband and I went to Senor Frog after dinner, but it was pretty dead there, so we had just one drink and then decided to use the match play coupons given to us by the hotel. (This hotel has an attached casino.) I won $75 in blackjack that night (which was later "donated" to the casino on Adventure)! The morning of the cruise, we had breakfast at La Bombanera, which (along with Parrot Club) had been highly recommended here on Cruise Critic. The food at La Bombanera was great (Try the mallorca!), but the service left a lot to be desired.
Embarkation was the fasted and easiest I have ever experienced. We arrived a little before noon. It took less than 30 minutes from stepping out of the taxi to stepping on to the ship. The only time we had to wait in a line was to drop off our luggage with the porters. Since it was so early, the cabins weren't ready yet, so we headed to the Windjammer. I was still full from breakfast, so I can't comment on the food, but the service was much better than it had been on previous cruises. There was always a server available to bring a drink or clear away the used plates.
The cabins were supposed to be ready by 2:00, but by 2:05 the doors to the hallways were still closed (at least on Deck 9). After seeing several people open the doors themselves and go to find their cabins, I decided to do the same. The cabin was ready, but this was the messiest cabin I have ever had. I always bring a packet of Clorox wipes with me to disinfect things like door handles, the phone, and TV remote; but this time I actually had to use them to clean the cabin. Some kind of liquid had been spilled or splashed (and dried) against the wall, the cabinets, and drawers, so I cleaned those off myself. There was a similar type of stain on the outside of the front door that would not come off.
In the bathroom, our shower doors wouldn't close completely, leaving a half-inch gap that let water out onto the floor. After my first shower, the shampoo was empty and remained empty for a couple of days while we tried to get in touch with our cabin steward. We tried calling him, but that didn't work. We thought about leaving a note, but we didn't have any tape, and I kept thinking that surely we'd run into him in the hallway sometime anyway. (We finally did two days later.) I didn't get a good night's sleep during the entire cruise. The bed was extremely hard - like sleeping on a board with a blanket tossed over it. And our wall often made a clicky, creaking sound which kept us up at night. The food was good but not great. Some of the food was bland, such as the vidalia onion tart, which had been so good on Explorer. The service was mostly good; there were just a few occasions of being served the wrong item. The bartending service at dinner, however, was exceptional. The server (Garry?) always remembered exactly how I like my after-dinner coffee. And I was very impressed that when he saw me at the Crown & Anchor party he remembered my name and came over to say hi. I was disappointed at the number of people wearing jeans and casual t-shirts in the dining room, but I guess that's getting more and more common these days. Most people, however, were appropriately dressed.
We ate at Portofino one night, and the food and service there were much better than in the main dining room and much better than what I experienced at Portofino on Explorer last year. The seafood skewer was absolutely delicious! We also had lunch at Johnny Rockets. Again, the service was significantly better than it had been on Explorer. However, after waiting at least 30 minutes to sit down, I did not appreciate the server's attempts to rush us through our meal. They really ought to try to fit in another booth or two up there. One other disappointment was learning that RCI no longer does the Gala Midnight Buffet. They did have a poolside buffet one night, which was okay, but I really miss the spectacle and tradition of the Gala buffet.
The production shows on this cruise were not quite up to par with what I've seen in the past. I thought they were cheesy, a little boring, and generally unimpressive. The performers were great, but I think they need a new idea for their shows and a new choreographer. The first adult comic was hilarious, but the second one (the older gentleman) was not very funny at all. We attempted to watch "Beatle Mania," but it was so loud that it was becoming painful. And I'm someone who has enjoyed front-row seats at alternative/rock concerts in the past! We left during the second song, and my in-laws left during the third. As a former figure skater, coach, and choreographer, I am always eager to see the ice show, but I was a little disappointed with this one. Aside from the part with the giant metal rings (which was really amazing and something I had never seen on ice before), I felt a lot like I did watching the production shows - the performers were great, but the substance and choreography of the show itself were not very impressive.
This is kind of random, but I was really surprised and annoyed by the fact that the casino won't take dollar coins. I know they're not really common, but they're legal, legitimate currency! And I'm not just talking about using the coins at the tables or in the machines, I couldn't even get the cashier to take the dollar coins and give me dollar bills to use in return! I like bringing dollar coins on the cruise for easy tipping, and I had planned to use the rest of what I had left in the casino on the last night. Oh well, I guess they saved me some money! Shore Excursions:
Aruba: Sail, Snorkel, Swim, & Swing - This was a really fun excursion run by Jolly Pirates. The snorkeling (2 different sites) was very good, and the rope swing was a blast. My only complaint about this excursion is that they could have been a little more generous with the open bar. The rum punch was so weak that some of us started asking for an extra shot of rum in our drinks. The girl serving drinks did give us an extra (small) shot of rum, but she seemed less than thrilled about doing it. On most excursions that offer an open bar, they're constantly refilling your drinks, but on this one, I almost felt bad about asking for a drink. But the excitement of the rope swing more than made up for the lackluster bar service.
Sunset Catamaran - They were much more generous with the drinks on this one, and they had a better selection of drinks too. One warning: If they tell you that the seas are rough, do not go to the very front of the catamaran! I did and got completely drenched when we suddenly hit a big wave! I was soaking wet for the remainder of the cruise. Nevertheless, I found this to be a very nice, relaxing excursion that offered excellent views of the ship lit up at night.
Curacao: Culinary Delights - Being a beach-lover and not much of a cook, I wasn't sure how I'd like this excursion, but I decided to take a chance and try something different, and I am so glad I did! This was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Clarita and her wonderful staff made the cooking fun and easy. And after all that cooking, it was really nice to sit out on the back porch and enjoy a long lunch (with some pretty good wine) with about 20 of my fellow cruisers. Clarita also told us a lot about the local culture and life on the island. When I got back home, I made the "hidden sardines" with "spicy onion pickle" for my family and everyone went nuts for it! I know it sounds strange, but I promise you it's delicious! After the excursion we went across the street to a little pastry shop for an extra treat, and then we were led back to town where we could either go back to the ship or explore the area on our own.
St. Maarten: We got a good deal on some jewelry at Joe's on Front Street. (This is one of the recommended shops in the shopping booklet.) At 10:30, we decided to get an early lunch before our scuba excursion. We tried the Greenhouse, but they don't open until 11:00. Next we tried Holland House, but they don't open until noon. We went back to Joe's to pick up my jewelry (I needed a ring resized.) and the salesman there recommended Talula Mango's for lunch. This was a casual restaurant with very good food. (The shrimp and scallop skewer was delicious!) We ate outside on the covered patio where we had a view of the boardwalk and the ship in the distance.
Then it was off to our Discover Scuba excursion, which we've done several times before, and once before in St. Maarten. Our guide, (Kelly?), was great at pointing out interesting fish (and an octopus!) that we wouldn't have noticed on our own, and she even took a few pictures of us scuba diving with my underwater camera. The diving was fantastic, and even the ride to and from our dive site was really nice, with great views of the ship and the coastline. We bought one bottle of Rum Jumbie in St. Maarten, and wished we had bought 3. That is some good stuff, so stock up!
St. Thomas: This was my 3rd time here, so we decided to do the St. John Champagne Catamaran. This and the scuba diving were my favorite excursions of the entire trip. The snorkeling at St. John was fantastic! I had planned on spending about half my time snorkeling and half my time on the beach, but there was so much to see that I lost track of time and ended up snorkeling the entire time! The crew was friendly and fun, and very generous with the drinks on the way back to St. Thomas. There was constantly someone walking around to refill our champagne. We also enjoyed snacks of cheese, bread, pretzels, veggie chips, and fresh fruit. I think my favorite part of the entire week was sitting out on this catamaran and soaking up the sun while sipping on champagne and enjoying the beautiful scenery. But no trip to St. Thomas is complete without a stop at Magen's Bay. The beach was surprisingly uncrowded and breathtakingly beautiful as always. We swam for a while, then I relaxed in a lounge chair sipping on a Bushwacker until it was time to leave. Magen's Bay is my favorite place on earth - it really is paradise!
The next day it was time to disembark. We had a tour of the Bacardi Rum distillery that day. I was worried that it would be hectic fitting in an excursion between disembarkation and the flight home, but everything was relatively smooth and easy. The only glitch was that we arrived at the Bacardi factory about 50 minutes before they opened, so we had to drive around San Juan for a while longer. We got a nice bus tour, but I would have rather been able to take my time getting off the ship instead.
When we did get into the Bacardi tour, it was a little disappointing. We were only given two small rum drinks; I had thought that we'd be able to sample several different varieties of rum. We watched a video on the history of Bacardi, saw artifacts and reproductions, but we didn't really get to see where they make the rum. I would call this a "Bacardi Museum Tour," as opposed to a "Bacardi Distillery Tour." When my parents took this tour last year, they were given samples of the 12-year limited edition rum that sells for $80 per bottle. We were told that this is not available to sample. It's probably a good thing because my parents had warned me that it tastes terrible! On my parents' tour, there was a couple who purchased 2 bottles before tasting it. After tasting it they tried (in vain) to get their money back! I guess they can sell a lot more of the rum now that they don't let anyone taste it first!
We used the luggage valet, which I was nervous about, but our bags arrived safe and sound at our final destination. I would not have paid for the luggage valet, however, if I had known that my bags would be taken to the airport in a separate van for free since I had booked an excursion. So the only real benefit of the luggage valet for me was not having to take my bags from the drop-off point at the airport to the check-in counter. Not exactly worth $20.
I had been very disappointed with my cruise last year on Explorer of the Seas. I was looking at this cruise on Adventure as Royal Caribbean's chance to redeem themselves; otherwise, I was planning to return to Carnival for my next few cruises. (Love those Carnival beds!) Although it was far from perfect, this cruise did restore my faith in RCI, and we have already booked Adventure for May of '09!
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9652
creaky, clicking wall makes it hard to sleep
stain on outside of front door
shower doors don''t close completely
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