BACKGROUND: My DH and I sailed with 4 other couples. All of us have cruised many times in the past. We usually pick newer ships but decided to give AOS a try because of the itinerary and price. We are all 60ish and enjoy assigned seating. We all have cruised NCL, Carnival, Princess and Celebrity as well as RCL's Serenade of the Seas and Mariner in the past. My husband and I were on the new NCL Gem in Oct sailing to Italy. Although the ship is new, we think the AOS staff was better and the ship easier to maneuver!
EMBARKATION: We decided NOT to fly down to PR the night before and take a flight the same day. We didn't arrive on board AOS until 4:30ish. Our plane was a little late in taking off. Next time, we go the day before-much more relaxing. It took only 15 min from the time we got in line to the time we were on board. Just a note of caution.....since this is close to the muster drill, we all had a hard time finding anything to eat... and we were hungry! Things were closing up to prepare for the muster drill. 6 of us were lucky enough to get pizza at the Cafe Promenade right before they closed.
CABIN: We had a cabin near the elevators on the 7th deck. We LOVED the location. Very convenient and no noise as there are cabins above and below us. The room had enough storage and was in good condition. I loved the bed! All 10 of us made the same comment about the bedding on this ship. Very comfortable! Our Cabin Stewart was Rhonda -she was excellent and very pleasant.
DINING: We had a table for 10 at the late seating in the Strauss dining room. The dining rooms are all lovely. The wait staff was excellent. They knew our names and what we liked to drink by the second night! Food was actually very good. There were some nights that I loved many of the entrees and found it hard to select one. My hat off to JOWA, from India, our waiter and assistant waiter Gabriella, from Mexico -exceptional service. We ate lunch in the Windjammer most days. Food was good but could have more variety. This is my only complaint of the cruise, as well as the others in our group. Each day, the menu was the same. We ate one lunch at Johnny Rockets. It was, as always, yummy! We used our coupon from out past passenger booklet for the cover charge. We all left happy and very full.
ENTERTAINMENT: Other than the Welcome aboard show, we went to all the shows and loved them all. This ship, in my opinion, had the best entertainment. We loved the cruise director Mike S. Normally, I don't even know or care who the cruise director is. But Mike is exceptional and a stand out without even trying. He is extremely entertaining and very friendly. He is great at comedy and magic too! We enjoyed and took pictures with the Nelson Brothers. They were wonderful and very friendly. Also, our entire group enjoyed Dominic Allen (from the group Foreigner), who is extremely talented, El Gaucho, who made us laugh as he displayed some very unusual talent, Ice Skating show, Jackpot show performed by the RC singers and dancers and the crew show on Friday night. It was hilarious and very creative. Also, we saw two late night adult only comedy shows. Both were very funny and not offensive. I can't say enough about the talent on this cruise. Although it was varied, each act was outstanding and got standing ovations. Several nights I made my "deposit" of $20 in the casino! I have won in the casino on other cruises -but not this one. However, one in our group won $500 on the slots,and anothers won a little here and there.
ITINERARY: We had been to all the islands in the past (Aruba, Curacao, St Marten and St Thomas). In Aruba. our gang decided to do the Sail, Snorkel and Swing excursion. It was relaxing and fun to do as a group. In Curacao, 6 of us decided to do the Beauties of Curacao excursion. We all enjoyed it. The scenery was breathtaking. We never would have seen some of these photo ops if it wasn't for this tour.
St RC we did both the Dutch side and French. The ladies in our group love the open air market on the French side. Lots of fun stuff to buy. We ate lunch near the market and enjoyed local cuisine.
OVERALL: I loved this ship and cruise staff. We hadn't been on a night adult cruise in 5 years and remember now, why we enjoy RCL so much. It just goes to show that you can be on an older ship with a great team and enjoy it. You can be on a new ship with an adequate staff and think it is just so/so. AOS is one of my personal favorite ships now -replacing the Serenade of the Seas. I favor RCL over the other cruise lines because of service. Personally, I think not automatically putting on tips makes a difference. And for us, part of the cruise experience is getting personal attention from assigned seating. Our group is planning the next cruise adventure and is leaning towards another RCL.
Great location, convenient and quiet.