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ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE - ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS REVIEW (CARIBBEAN CRUISE - APRIL 2016) In early April 2016 my wife and I took 7 days Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean International. This was our 4th cruise in 5 years (2nd with Royal Caribbean). Our ship was Adventure of the Seas - which is rather old ship in the fleet. To note, in 2001 i cruised with Royal Caribbean on the same exact ship, so luckily i can pinpoint drastic differences between now and then and also compare Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas (2012 cruise). I'll do my review in small sections with positive and negative points, inserting my personal opinions and remarks. The sections are: 1. Departure Date, Cruise Line, Itinerary 2. Cabin selection, cabin price, online check-in 3. San Juan airport to cruise termninal, check-in 4. Adventure of the Seas - the ship and the cabin 5. Ports of Call 6. Stateroom, entertainment, swimming pools, cleanliness 7. Crew (Room attendant, Guest Services, Restaurant Staff, Bar and Pool Staff, overall attitude) 8. Food variety and quality in Bars, Speciality Restaurant, Main Dining Room(s), Buffet; Drinks 9. Internet and tv 10. Disembarkation 11. People on board, self-control, overeating, who cruises are really for 12. Overall opinion, Comparison to other cruises, Message to CEO, President, CFO, and others 1. I had to pick the destination based on the time my wife and I (we are in the late thirties) could take off work - which turned out to be the first week of April (April 2-9). I was deliberating between resort and cruise and decided upon latter due to the cost and ease of travel (less preparation for me - points of interest, commute, things to see and do...). Keep in mind that mid-December to mid-May Caribbean is having "peak" season for vacations especially considering Spring Break, Easter Break, school breaks, and generally people trying to get away from cold climate. During early Sprint, the prices in the Caribbean region (anywhere you go) are at its highest (besides Christmas and New Year - blackout dates with no discounts). Also, to note, i take my travel seriously - i work hard and i travel fun - in the past 15 years i visited 28 countries around the world with most notable trips to Historical Egypt in 2008 (extremely pampered vacation that i had not experienced since), three weeks vacation in South Africa for World Cup 2010 (traveling all over the country by planes, cars and buses; and attending 10 World Cup matches including the Final), three weeks in Europe in 2014 (Austria, Chech Republic, Hungary, and Italy). Since 2009 I started creating my travel itineraries and consider each trip planning an adventure, learning experience, and just a fun process. So, even simple trip like Caribbean Cruise i take very seriously. On a final note about myself, i want to mention that i am also an independent travel agent with GTI (Global Travel International) which also gives me additional knowledge and ideas on how and where to travel. So, to summarize, i had to pick our trip destination a month prior to departure - to go somewhere warm, and have as minimum hastle as possible. After researching our options for South America, Central America, and Caribbeans; the choices of adventure trip, resort, or a cruise, i decided on the cruise. And since i already had a set date, i only had to chose a number of options by my preferred itinerary. None of the cruise itineraries leaving from continental US (mainly Florida) interested me (i already visited many of these places, plus from prior experience i know that the warmest water during early April will not be in the Eastern Caribbean but in the South or South-West). That made it even easier - departure port should be San Juan, Puerto Rico. This decision is also based on exclusion of the specific cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess, Celebrity. This process left me with 3 choices - my prime option Royal Caribbean (since i had very good experience with them twice before). In addition - the itinerary was quiet interesting: St Thomas, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada. With this cruise selection i would not be able to avoid massive crowds and lots of kids (due to holidays), but would be able to avoid Easter Break crowd and most Spring Breakers. And the price was very acceptable as well (cabins starting from $630, depending on the website where you book the cruise). 2. Cabin selection: finding a cruise is one thing, getting a decent cabin is another. Defining your price limit helps, especially since there is a drastic difference between inside room and balcony cabins (i am not even mentioning suite). In brief, cheapest inside cabin cost was $630 per person while balcony was twice as much. That is only one month prior to the cruise. Granted that most people book the cruise 3-12 month in advance, that should not be an issue. Also, this is the price for the cheapest cabin which is based on the location on the ship, such as deck and positioning (front, aft, above and below noisy areas...) I did some minor research on few websites such as cruisecritic.com to read up on the cabin reviews, then i campared the prices on Expedia, Orbitz, GTI, RoyalCaribbean.com, and some others. Prices differed by $60-70 depending on website. Same goes on the cabin availability - various sites (as long as they are not affiliated) offer different cabins. I decided on inside cabin on Deck 8 in the quieter part of the ship and since cabins have various categories based on the deck and location, the one i picked cost us $730 per person including taxes. Once reserved (i did it on Orbitz website), and received confirmation via email, i did Online Check-in - to add Passport information, Credit Card account for on-board expenses (you can use cash later, but keep credit card on file), information aboout travelers, and to print SailPass documents that will be collected during the onboard check-in. You can do online check-in up to 3 days prior to departure. 3. We flew to Puerto Rico day in advance and stayed in Old San Juan where we spent fun and relaxing day visiting major sites and walking charming town streets (did all of it before, but not for a whole day and never stayed overnight). Cab from airport to Old San Juan cost $22 + $1 per a piece of luggage. I believe cab to the Port cost $19 plus $1 per piece of luggage. Cab from Old San Juan to the Port was $14. We arrived at the pier around 12:20 and the line to the check-in was already quiet long (check-in started at noon). But it moved quicky enough considering huge number of people boarding the ship. Initial line is where you drop off your luggage (you can use pre-printed tags at home or cruise employees will give you a tag on the spot and will attach it to your luggage). The guys picking up your luggage expect few dollars tip for handling it. Once you drop off your luggage, there is another line to get into the terminal (metal detectors) where you do your check-in and receive on-board sails pass (card). You'll need your passport, your picture will be taken, all the final registration completed. Few more security points where you have to show your Passport and Sails Pass Card, and you are on-board. The rooms will not be ready until 2pm, so you do not need to rush. The ship usually does not leave before 6pm (departure time depends on the ship), so if you are checking in at 4pm you are even better off - there will not be a long check-in line outside. If you arrive at noon, the check-in process will most likely take around an hour. If your room is not ready, you can go to Windjammer buffet and grab something to eat. Or you can explore the ship or have a drink at the bar. One point to note, before your give away your luggage, make sure you take with you (hand bag) all that you might need throughout the day such as clothing for a dinner, swimming pool attire, and so on. Most likely your luggage will not be taken to your room until 7-10pm. 4. Adventure of the Seas is one of the older ships in the Royal Caribbean Fleet. In 2001 it was a excellent (one of the newer ships in the fleet). Now, it still packs that greatness, but surely can't compete with newer monsters as Oasis, Navigator, and others. It does show signs of wear, but as a visitor, and especially first time visitor it probably will not bother you much. There are 14 Decks on the ship, Deck 11 hosts dual swimming pool with jaccuzzi's and Windjammer buffet restaurant. Deck 3,4,5 host 3-tier main dining room (Mozart, Strauss, ....), as well as Lyrics Theater, Ice Skaing Rink, Cinema, Royal Promenade (fantastic feature of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line). Deck 12,13,14 have spa services, Giuzeppe's Italian Speciality Restaurant (have to pay extra to get in - price varies depending on dinner), Basketball court, Rock Climbing Wall, jogging track, and numerous bars. Majority of other decks host cabins with additional spaces occupied by Internet center, Library, Next Cruise Booking Center. There is Jester Lounge and Dance Club on the Deck 3. Our cabin on Deck 8, close to Internet Center was an inside cabin (no windows) - the drawback of that is that you are completely disoriented when you wake up since you have no clue if it is day or night until you look at your watch. That makes it much harder to wake up as well. We are rather slim individuals and since the cabins are small it did not bother us much. That is as much as expected on the ship. We had one large bed, one small sofa, coffee table, flatscreen 28" TV, closet, safe. The bathroom is small with stand-up shower only. There are some signes of wear and tear around the room - paint that is coming off, scratches on the furniture in some places. This is all minor and not very important. What is important is not to throw all kind of stuff in the toilet since it cloggs the sensitive piping system which will influence the whole deck segment (we had that issue twice on our deck). Also, we did have an issue with the hot water - it was not working in the shower - i addressed it to guest services and they resolved it in the timely manner. The stateroom attendant will come by to introduce himself/herself - he/she will be your primary contact for the cruise for most of your cabin's problems and requests. 5. Ports of Call: St Thomas, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada. This is a very good itinerary in my opinion, and it was one of the main reasons for selecting this cruise. Even though i am not a big fan of US Virgin Islands or British Virgin Islands since they are severely destroyed by civilization, Antigua, St Lucia, and Grenada are excellent islands to visit. St Thomas is known for its great duty free shopping that is why it is so heavily (even painfully) promoted by the ships' crew. Our main purpose was to go to the beaches - living in New York, and with nowaday ability to shop online, you can always find anything you looking for at a great price. If you want to go to the beach, it's all well organized - there are numerous shuttles at the end of the shopping mall that will organize groups to go to specific destinations. We went to Coki beach (one of the best snorkel spots on the island) and the shuttle filled up in 5 minutes. Chairs and umbrella at the beach are $20 for the set. Snorkel equipment can be rented as well. St Croix - we went to Rainbow beach which is 25min walk from the cruise terminal, or $4-5 by the taxi (5min drive). Chairs and umbrella are $20 for the set. Antigua - unfortunately i can not say anything about this great island since i got overhated during stay on St Croix and also got bad food "disagreement" - whole day i spent on the ship recovering from side affects St Lucia - we took a cab to Redduit Beach (around 20-25min drive from port). Excellent beach - home of the Sandals and some other resorts. I was also able to purchase some local fruits from passerby boat - Soursop, mangoes, cocoa. Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent ($20-25 for the set). Grenada - we visited Grand Anse beach - it is the closest and one of the most popular. There is a shuttle boat that takes people to the beach and back ($8 per person roundtrip). You can also take a local bus (arouns $1 each way) or taxi ($10 one way). The beach is almost 2 miles long. It can get a bit windy, but the water is clear and warm. Chairs and umbrellas $15-25 depending on who you get it from. Besides beaches, all the Ports of Call offer shopping and island tours. Not to be unfriendly, but everyone tries to take advantage of you - so do not be naive and be on your guard. Always ask for the price first before accepting any service. For example, on St Lucia, my wife wanted to get a drink in the coconut, so an old haggler never answered my question on its cost while preparing the drink. Once he was done and handed it to her (90% coconut juice 10% ice with rum) he asked for 86 EC (approximately $30). I initially wanted to give him $10 even though real cost should be $6-8. So, after 20 seconds of bargaining, the price was dropped to $20, then $12. Evntually he got $10. Similar thing with Grenada - one minute the price for the umbrella-chair set was $20, and $25 the next. Another interesting option that you can do are island tours. Yes, the ship offers quiet good shore excursions. The price is not that good. Some people mentioned that when you book online the price is lower than if you book at the shore excursion desk. Here are some other options - once you are off the ship at every island - there are island tours offered on the shore at half the price with same great quality as the ones on board. Ship has more variety of excurisons. But you can also pre-book your excursion with the company of your liking and have them pick you up in the port (this requires more work and planning). The positive about ship's excursions is that they are convenient and hastle free. Plus you are guaranteed that you'll not going to miss your departure. And the last thing is the time in the Ports of Call - sometimes the departure is at 6pm and sometimes at 5pm. It might be very frustrating for those who want to spend as much time on the island as possible and have to get back on the ship at the "curfew" time. There are virtually no Caribbean cruises that stay in the port past 6pm (i know that sometimes in Aruba ships stay until 10pm). 6. Stateroom, on board entertainment, swimming pools, cleanliness a. Stateroom - the stateroom was kept clean, stateroom attendant did a great job, attended to our needs, bed was done, towels folded (or exchanged for new ones), Daily Compass (guide) on our bed on daily basis. Besides initial issues with the shower and pipe-clog on the deck, i can't say anything but positive. b. Swimming Pool Area - packed with people during "cruising" day, two small swimming pools packed with kids and adults like sardines in a tin can, 3rd pool in the "spa" area, busy as well. Someone managed to vomit in one of the pools - it seems like it had been cleaned up, but with the amount of people no amount of chlorine would be able to sanitize it. Kids are getting out of control and jumping on peoples' heads but that is their parent's fault for not knowing any better how to conrol and manage their kids in the public places. You know who you are! One of the days during the trip, one of the pools was closed for repairs. It seems there are enough lounge chairs on a deck for most of the peole either to sunbathe or hide in the shade. Jaccuzzis even more packed than swimming pools. Life music performed on daily basis - great island music. Daily activities held by the swimming pool kept people entertained. c. Shows - excellent international crew. Highly recommended ice show did not disappoint at all - ice skaters are real professionals and can easily compete with Olympic skaters (not just my opinion - that what i heard from people on board). Other shows such as tribute to U2, comedy show, and dance show were great too. d. Daily Entertainment - besides shows, movie theater showed movies such as Spectre, Hunger Games, Star Wars... Lounge areas had some piano and band music on various nights, others had some game shows. Cruise director Dan tried to be as funny as he could be; hosted number of games by the pool area. The days were filled with activities from the morning to the night which would be more than enough for most of the individuals. e. Cleanliness - overall the ship is kept clean, sanitizer is all over the place, dirty plates, glasses, utensils are rmoved very fast; bathrooms are spotless; pool towels can be exchanged for the clean ones at any time. 7. Ship's Crew. Now, that is where it gets interesting. The crew is how to put it - NOT that keen on keeping the people happy. They are doing their job, but without any enthusiasm. Let's just say around 85% of the on-board personnel are lacking such facial features are smiles and hearty friendliness. Yes, given it is Royal Caribbean's CEO, President, and CFO fault for making budget cuts, crew cuts, and supposedly "making things better", it turned as expected - it backfired on the customers - us, the cruisers. Here are few examples - it's not enough that surcharge for the drinks is automatically added to the bill, i always add $1-2 to the bill as well. Only once i heard from the crew member that brought me a drink "thank you". Another thing about servicing staff - 50% of them walk around with the trays like they do not belong there for the reason of just walking around - until someone calls them. Just recently, on the Brilliance of the Seas, similar service was done with the smile and constant offering for the service. I can say only positive thing about our Dinner Service - our waiter Ljubica in the Main Dining room was one of the highlights of the trip. Swimming Pool Patrol/Attendants - do their job without a care in the world. They see people sitting and enjoying peace and quiet, yet they have to drag the chairs and lounge chairs to adjust the positioning making screeching sound. Just lift it up a bit! "Security" control - be more welcoming - people are not the heard of animals that need to get back on board of the ship. Bar staff - it certainly would not hurt to have a smile! Yes, i know the long hours you have to work, that you work seven days a week without days off for 6-8 months (or whatever the terms of your contract are), but it is your job, so do it well. Just like most of us do our job back home so we can pay for you to have an opportunity to work on the ship - this is the Servicing Industry Business not a factory or IT. Guest Services - i have to give lots of compliments to Marisol - she works well with people - great attitude! Windjammer staff - one day are attentive, another day - nowhere to be found. Granted, the tables get cleaned up fast. Our Stateroom attendant - Frank did a great job, did it seemlessly with no intrusions. 8. Now, and this is very important for many people - Food: This will probably require pages and pages of writing so i'll keep it brief. After this cruise, i once and for all nailed it im my head that all-inclusive option (especially on the ship) is for people who's main purpose of vacation is to indulge in gluttany no matter how good or bad the quality of the consumed product might be. We ate at Windjammer restaurant (buffet) and at the Main Dining Room. The food experience varied. If you are looking for healthy food choices, you might have difficulty finding the right food for you. The veggies are there, basic fruits are present as well. Healthy dishes - not that much. Most dishes are cooked on corn or palm oil, number of dishes are processed food, there are virtually no gluten free choices (very very few things are labeled as gluten free). There is no Soy or Almond or Coconut milk (granted many of those who dine have no idea of those choices). Food selection is quiet limited even though there is nightly variety of the Dinner Theme such as Italian, German, Caribbean nights. Seafood such as shrimps and crab meat is totally off buffet menu (may be due to health concern - for getting spoiled too fast). No pasta variety. Off course burgers, so-called pizza, and hot dogs are always there! No veggieburgers though. Oatmeal cookies are tasty but taste like half of margarine stick had been added to each cookie. Presentation and sanitation are on a good scale. The breakfast is the same on daily basis with the only decent choice - omelet. There was absolutely no variety whatsoever. The fountain drinks(ice tea, orange juice, lemonades) are highly diluted - that is a welcoming thing - at least a sugar content will not be jumping off the radar after the trip. Comparing to any of my previous experiences, buffet dining on Adventure of the Seas is all time low. I would give it 2 out of 5. Main Room Dining - main room on Adventure of the seas spans over 3 decks (3,4,5). Tables like on other ships range from individual (2 persons) to large groups of 10-12. Due to our late booking we automatically had been assigned late sitting (there are 3 types of dinner sitting: early at 6:30pm, late - at 8:30pm; and any time (you either schedule it at the beginning of your trip or call in the morning to book available sitting 6:30-8:30). All are fine options. We did want to change ours from 8:30pm to any time, but were told that everything was booked; same story with 6:30pm, and to get individual table - we were told that nothing is available at any time. That was frustrating and annoying since we did not want to sit with the group of people at large table but just wanted peaceful dinner - just the two of us. So, we really did not like that there was supposedly "no individual table" availability. First night we went to the buffet; 2nd night we went to the Main Dining and asked front desk to change our table reservation - fortunately individual table opened up. We were lucky to get a great waiter - Ljubica and very nice assistant waiter. Thanks to both of them our dining experience throughout the trip really brightened not such glorious food (both at the buffet and at the Main Dining). Food presentation was nice, quality - very average. There are few comments i like to make - first of all, living in New York i am exposed to huge variety of various ethnic foods all over city - there are 23000 restaurants in 5 boroughs - quality at many of them is very high and i can say that throughout my world travels over last 15 years any food that i ate abroad (besides some exceptions) tasted as good at home. Remember, this is New York we are talking about - the melting pot of USA - every ethnicity, all types of restaurants, be it a small Tibetan store in Queens, or Equadorian bodega in Brooklyn. I am quiet sure (and not to offend anyone), the food experience for people from smaller cities with less food variety and limited ethnic diversity would be very different on the cruise ship than for myself. This is absolutely logical and understandable. Another point i would like to bring up is the "Formal Night". Personally it is just killing me - this is a vacation, i want to enjoy myself, dress light and relaxed. Not to be stuck in the suite with a tie. I am not saying that shorts should be permitted in the dining hall, but making things formal is just overboard. Also, to note, you do not have to dress fancy - forget your jacket and a tie or long dress and high heels. Dress lighter - like you go to dinner with friends to a simple restaurant. This is totally fine as well - no one going to look down on you. I have to wear shirt and a tie for work every day. Believe me this is the last thing i want to put on during my time off. It is great for people who rarely dress up, or who enjoy doing so, or for those people/families who want complete once-in-a-lifetime entertainment experience. Off course you can just go to Windjammer Buffet. And another note about the food at the Main Dining - there are choices, but not as much daily variety as on other cruise ships. Drinks on the ship are way overpriced, and if you are a drinker - think about purchasing drinking package - the best is $55-59 per person per day and includes virtually all drinks on board (not sure about exceptions). The cost of wine per glass ranges from $8 and up; beer $8 and up, mixed drinks $10 and up. This is not so bad, but the tax as well as automatic 18% surcharge is added to each drink. On top of that, there is another line for Additional tip on the receipt. So, if you do your math, $10 mixed drink, will end up around $13-14 (if you add another dollar to it). If you are planning to gulp 5+ drinks a day, think about those drinking pacakges. Simpler options are available at lesser cost. There is also non-alcoholic package including brand name sodas and lemonades which are not available at the drinking fountains. Off course many mixed drinks will be diluted and will contain tons of sugar and syrup. Also, bottled water on board comes with a price tag of $4.75 per 1L bottle. 9. Internet - internet service is available in a "computer center" on Deck 8. There are 20+ computers. WiFi service is also available on board. The price is $20 per day but does not give you access to VOIP applications such as Skype and Facebook. Closer to the end of cruise, the price dropped to $15 per day. You can also purchase internet package for your whole cruise length. There is a TV in each cabin - the channels are not appealing, but we are not going on a cruise to watch tv. There are 5-7 channels that outline daily activities, ports of call, promos to sell future cruises and excursions, more promos to shop onboard and at the ports of call (especially with cruise affiliated shops). Most useful channel is the interaction channel where you can check your SailPass balance, messages, purchase excursions, and more. I am going to mention very interesting thing about your SailPass account and why you should check it at least once or twice during your cruise. Check it on the intractive TV channel in your room and make sure there would not be any additional or unusual charges on your Sail Pass. I am glad i checked mine - there was one crazy charge of $8868.70 - someone at Windjammer Cafe mistyped the numbers (would have been hell of a party at that charge). Marisol at Guest Relations on Deck 5 easily reversed the charge. But the point is, check your charges before your disembark. It's much easier to dispute the it right away (face to face) than a month later over the phone. 10.Disembarkation procedure is standard - by 11pm night before departure put your luggage with attached tag(will be left in your room) outside your cabin. Watch disembrkation procedure on one of the tv channels and follow the directions (you'll also get a disembarkation procedure document night before departure). Your departure time will vary (you'll be able to see it on the list, based on your luggage tag number). Ours was #11 and we were suppose to leave the ship around 10am (all the cabins must be freed up by 9:30am). On the morning of your departure you can have breakfast and then go to one of the designated areas to wait your departure time call. (You do not have to rush to leave the ship - if you miss your designated time range, you can always get off the ship a bit later - as long as you are off the ship). Once you leave the ship, you will end up in the huge hangar - there will be long line to go through customs and also rows of luggage cases lined up by the luggage number tag. Pick up your suitcases, then join the customs line (usually 30min). Say goodbuy to the cruise, hop on the taxi and head either to airport ($19) or wherever else you are going. There is nasty good buy from the taxi porters - they are rude and demanding - "give me a tip" - for the piece of luggage loaded in the cab. 11. Few words about people on board i.e. the passengers. There are some good and bad things that could be mentioned. The good - people are genuinly having fun - there are shows, activities, dance club, lounges, music, casino... For those who want peace and quiet - there is library, quiet areas on various decks... There is something for everyone on board. Now some cons - there are a lot of people onboard - you are stuck on the ship with 2-3000 other passengers. If you can't tolerate people well, probably cruise is not a vacation trip for you. Your co-cruisers might get roudy, irritating, annoying, drunk, and plain weird. Lots of on-board entertainment seems very lame and jokes are just dumb. But somehow people go along with them. And that makes you think - what kind of people am i surrounded by? And at the same time many others are genuinly fun, knowledgeble, and full of interesting stories. Eating is the whole different story - some people are conservative with what they eat; others, mostly those who should not be eating certain things in the first place, fill up their plates with tons of mixed junk food, and gulp one plate after another like they never tasted food before (buffet observances). Certain people are way too loud, inconsiderate, and just have no clue how to behave in public. In the environment like this it is easy to see why us, Americans seen and presented as obnoxius and disrespectful. 12.In this last section i'll compare this cruise to others that i took in previous years, and will drop few harsh word to Cruise CEO, CFO, President, and others. Over past 4 years i was on 4 cruises: Brillaince of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean; ms Nieuw Amsterdam by Holland America, and Summit by Celebrity. Also, my last cruise on Adventure of the Seas was also my first ever cruise in 2001 on the same ship. I'll just briefly compare the last 4 cruises. The main difference was noticable in general on-board service, crew attitude, and food quality and presentation. By far, Adventure of the Seas is on the lower end of the scale in all the categories; just above Celebrity Summit. Brilliance tops in all the categories, while ms Nieuw Amsterdam excelled in food variety and presentation. The crew on Holland America Line is predominanty Philippino, while very diverse on the other cruise lines. Evening shows were excellent on all the ships, while day entertainment was better on Brlliance and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Cruise director makes huge difference of the cruise experience. Brilliance excelled at that. Summit and Adventure - not so much. Food quality was excellent on Brilliance and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Adventure of the Seas somehow managed to win dining room award last year. Comfort and convenience was similar on all the ships - logically, the newer the ship, the better and more fun, comfortable, and luxurious it is going to be. The main problem with all the cruise ships on all the Cruise Lines, as it is easy to pinpoint - long and hard hours for the employees, budget cuts, and disregard of the older ships in favor of the newcomer monsters. This is such a shame though, because at the end, your most valuable asset is the one who is not pleased - your loyal customers. If the cruise company is aiming totally toward older crowd then they will not win younger or family crowds unless they drop cruise prices. And it seems that is exactly what is done, which causes, budget cuts, higher crew turnover, and expression of being displeased in the form of bad customer service, frowns, and lack of enthusiasm and passion. CEOs, CFOs, CAOs, COOs and such - take care of your employees, treat older ships like you treat new ships, embrace changes, welcome your customers, give them the best possible experience so they would come back again and again rather then chosing your competitors. Most likely i'll be back to Royal Caribbean, just not to Adventure of the Seas. Overall experience: 2/5.

Not Such a Royal Experience

Adventure of the Seas Cruise Review by echern77

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE - ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS REVIEW (CARIBBEAN CRUISE - APRIL 2016)

In early April 2016 my wife and I took 7 days Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean International. This was our 4th cruise in 5 years (2nd with Royal Caribbean). Our ship was Adventure of the Seas - which is rather old ship in the fleet. To note, in 2001 i cruised with Royal Caribbean on the same exact ship, so luckily i can pinpoint drastic differences between now and then and also compare Adventure of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas (2012 cruise).

I'll do my review in small sections with positive and negative points, inserting my personal opinions and remarks.

The sections are:

1. Departure Date, Cruise Line, Itinerary

2. Cabin selection, cabin price, online check-in

3. San Juan airport to cruise termninal, check-in

4. Adventure of the Seas - the ship and the cabin

5. Ports of Call

6. Stateroom, entertainment, swimming pools, cleanliness

7. Crew (Room attendant, Guest Services, Restaurant Staff, Bar and Pool Staff, overall attitude)

8. Food variety and quality in Bars, Speciality Restaurant, Main Dining Room(s), Buffet; Drinks

9. Internet and tv

10. Disembarkation

11. People on board, self-control, overeating, who cruises are really for

12. Overall opinion, Comparison to other cruises, Message to CEO, President, CFO, and others



1. I had to pick the destination based on the time my wife and I (we are in the late thirties) could take off work - which turned out to be the first week of April (April 2-9). I was deliberating between resort and cruise and decided upon latter due to the cost and ease of travel (less preparation for me - points of interest, commute, things to see and do...). Keep in mind that mid-December to mid-May Caribbean is having "peak" season for vacations especially considering Spring Break, Easter Break, school breaks, and generally people trying to get away from cold climate. During early Sprint, the prices in the Caribbean region (anywhere you go) are at its highest (besides Christmas and New Year - blackout dates with no discounts). Also, to note, i take my travel seriously - i work hard and i travel fun - in the past 15 years i visited 28 countries around the world with most notable trips to Historical Egypt in 2008 (extremely pampered vacation that i had not experienced since), three weeks vacation in South Africa for World Cup 2010 (traveling all over the country by planes, cars and buses; and attending 10 World Cup matches including the Final), three weeks in Europe in 2014 (Austria, Chech Republic, Hungary, and Italy). Since 2009 I started creating my travel itineraries and consider each trip planning an adventure, learning experience, and just a fun process. So, even simple trip like Caribbean Cruise i take very seriously. On a final note about myself, i want to mention that i am also an independent travel agent with GTI (Global Travel International) which also gives me additional knowledge and ideas on how and where to travel.

So, to summarize, i had to pick our trip destination a month prior to departure - to go somewhere warm, and have as minimum hastle as possible. After researching our options for South America, Central America, and Caribbeans; the choices of adventure trip, resort, or a cruise, i decided on the cruise. And since i already had a set date, i only had to chose a number of options by my preferred itinerary. None of the cruise itineraries leaving from continental US (mainly Florida) interested me (i already visited many of these places, plus from prior experience i know that the warmest water during early April will not be in the Eastern Caribbean but in the South or South-West). That made it even easier - departure port should be San Juan, Puerto Rico. This decision is also based on exclusion of the specific cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess, Celebrity. This process left me with 3 choices - my prime option Royal Caribbean (since i had very good experience with them twice before). In addition - the itinerary was quiet interesting: St Thomas, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada. With this cruise selection i would not be able to avoid massive crowds and lots of kids (due to holidays), but would be able to avoid Easter Break crowd and most Spring Breakers. And the price was very acceptable as well (cabins starting from $630, depending on the website where you book the cruise).

2. Cabin selection: finding a cruise is one thing, getting a decent cabin is another. Defining your price limit helps, especially since there is a drastic difference between inside room and balcony cabins (i am not even mentioning suite). In brief, cheapest inside cabin cost was $630 per person while balcony was twice as much. That is only one month prior to the cruise. Granted that most people book the cruise 3-12 month in advance, that should not be an issue. Also, this is the price for the cheapest cabin which is based on the location on the ship, such as deck and positioning (front, aft, above and below noisy areas...) I did some minor research on few websites such as cruisecritic.com to read up on the cabin reviews, then i campared the prices on Expedia, Orbitz, GTI, RoyalCaribbean.com, and some others. Prices differed by $60-70 depending on website. Same goes on the cabin availability - various sites (as long as they are not affiliated) offer different cabins. I decided on inside cabin on Deck 8 in the quieter part of the ship and since cabins have various categories based on the deck and location, the one i picked cost us $730 per person including taxes. Once reserved (i did it on Orbitz website), and received confirmation via email, i did Online Check-in - to add Passport information, Credit Card account for on-board expenses (you can use cash later, but keep credit card on file), information aboout travelers, and to print SailPass documents that will be collected during the onboard check-in. You can do online check-in up to 3 days prior to departure.

3. We flew to Puerto Rico day in advance and stayed in Old San Juan where we spent fun and relaxing day visiting major sites and walking charming town streets (did all of it before, but not for a whole day and never stayed overnight). Cab from airport to Old San Juan cost $22 + $1 per a piece of luggage. I believe cab to the Port cost $19 plus $1 per piece of luggage. Cab from Old San Juan to the Port was $14. We arrived at the pier around 12:20 and the line to the check-in was already quiet long (check-in started at noon). But it moved quicky enough considering huge number of people boarding the ship. Initial line is where you drop off your luggage (you can use pre-printed tags at home or cruise employees will give you a tag on the spot and will attach it to your luggage). The guys picking up your luggage expect few dollars tip for handling it. Once you drop off your luggage, there is another line to get into the terminal (metal detectors) where you do your check-in and receive on-board sails pass (card). You'll need your passport, your picture will be taken, all the final registration completed. Few more security points where you have to show your Passport and Sails Pass Card, and you are on-board. The rooms will not be ready until 2pm, so you do not need to rush. The ship usually does not leave before 6pm (departure time depends on the ship), so if you are checking in at 4pm you are even better off - there will not be a long check-in line outside. If you arrive at noon, the check-in process will most likely take around an hour. If your room is not ready, you can go to Windjammer buffet and grab something to eat. Or you can explore the ship or have a drink at the bar. One point to note, before your give away your luggage, make sure you take with you (hand bag) all that you might need throughout the day such as clothing for a dinner, swimming pool attire, and so on. Most likely your luggage will not be taken to your room until 7-10pm.

4. Adventure of the Seas is one of the older ships in the Royal Caribbean Fleet. In 2001 it was a excellent (one of the newer ships in the fleet). Now, it still packs that greatness, but surely can't compete with newer monsters as Oasis, Navigator, and others. It does show signs of wear, but as a visitor, and especially first time visitor it probably will not bother you much. There are 14 Decks on the ship, Deck 11 hosts dual swimming pool with jaccuzzi's and Windjammer buffet restaurant. Deck 3,4,5 host 3-tier main dining room (Mozart, Strauss, ....), as well as Lyrics Theater, Ice Skaing Rink, Cinema, Royal Promenade (fantastic feature of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line). Deck 12,13,14 have spa services, Giuzeppe's Italian Speciality Restaurant (have to pay extra to get in - price varies depending on dinner), Basketball court, Rock Climbing Wall, jogging track, and numerous bars. Majority of other decks host cabins with additional spaces occupied by Internet center, Library, Next Cruise Booking Center. There is Jester Lounge and Dance Club on the Deck 3.

Our cabin on Deck 8, close to Internet Center was an inside cabin (no windows) - the drawback of that is that you are completely disoriented when you wake up since you have no clue if it is day or night until you look at your watch. That makes it much harder to wake up as well. We are rather slim individuals and since the cabins are small it did not bother us much. That is as much as expected on the ship. We had one large bed, one small sofa, coffee table, flatscreen 28" TV, closet, safe. The bathroom is small with stand-up shower only. There are some signes of wear and tear around the room - paint that is coming off, scratches on the furniture in some places. This is all minor and not very important. What is important is not to throw all kind of stuff in the toilet since it cloggs the sensitive piping system which will influence the whole deck segment (we had that issue twice on our deck). Also, we did have an issue with the hot water - it was not working in the shower - i addressed it to guest services and they resolved it in the timely manner. The stateroom attendant will come by to introduce himself/herself - he/she will be your primary contact for the cruise for most of your cabin's problems and requests.

5. Ports of Call:

St Thomas, St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada. This is a very good itinerary in my opinion, and it was one of the main reasons for selecting this cruise. Even though i am not a big fan of US Virgin Islands or British Virgin Islands since they are severely destroyed by civilization, Antigua, St Lucia, and Grenada are excellent islands to visit.

St Thomas is known for its great duty free shopping that is why it is so heavily (even painfully) promoted by the ships' crew. Our main purpose was to go to the beaches - living in New York, and with nowaday ability to shop online, you can always find anything you looking for at a great price. If you want to go to the beach, it's all well organized - there are numerous shuttles at the end of the shopping mall that will organize groups to go to specific destinations. We went to Coki beach (one of the best snorkel spots on the island) and the shuttle filled up in 5 minutes. Chairs and umbrella at the beach are $20 for the set. Snorkel equipment can be rented as well.

St Croix - we went to Rainbow beach which is 25min walk from the cruise terminal, or $4-5 by the taxi (5min drive). Chairs and umbrella are $20 for the set.

Antigua - unfortunately i can not say anything about this great island since i got overhated during stay on St Croix and also got bad food "disagreement" - whole day i spent on the ship recovering from side affects

St Lucia - we took a cab to Redduit Beach (around 20-25min drive from port). Excellent beach - home of the Sandals and some other resorts. I was also able to purchase some local fruits from passerby boat - Soursop, mangoes, cocoa. Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent ($20-25 for the set).

Grenada - we visited Grand Anse beach - it is the closest and one of the most popular. There is a shuttle boat that takes people to the beach and back ($8 per person roundtrip). You can also take a local bus (arouns $1 each way) or taxi ($10 one way). The beach is almost 2 miles long. It can get a bit windy, but the water is clear and warm. Chairs and umbrellas $15-25 depending on who you get it from.

Besides beaches, all the Ports of Call offer shopping and island tours. Not to be unfriendly, but everyone tries to take advantage of you - so do not be naive and be on your guard. Always ask for the price first before accepting any service. For example, on St Lucia, my wife wanted to get a drink in the coconut, so an old haggler never answered my question on its cost while preparing the drink. Once he was done and handed it to her (90% coconut juice 10% ice with rum) he asked for 86 EC (approximately $30). I initially wanted to give him $10 even though real cost should be $6-8. So, after 20 seconds of bargaining, the price was dropped to $20, then $12. Evntually he got $10. Similar thing with Grenada - one minute the price for the umbrella-chair set was $20, and $25 the next.

Another interesting option that you can do are island tours. Yes, the ship offers quiet good shore excursions. The price is not that good. Some people mentioned that when you book online the price is lower than if you book at the shore excursion desk. Here are some other options - once you are off the ship at every island - there are island tours offered on the shore at half the price with same great quality as the ones on board. Ship has more variety of excurisons. But you can also pre-book your excursion with the company of your liking and have them pick you up in the port (this requires more work and planning). The positive about ship's excursions is that they are convenient and hastle free. Plus you are guaranteed that you'll not going to miss your departure.

And the last thing is the time in the Ports of Call - sometimes the departure is at 6pm and sometimes at 5pm. It might be very frustrating for those who want to spend as much time on the island as possible and have to get back on the ship at the "curfew" time. There are virtually no Caribbean cruises that stay in the port past 6pm (i know that sometimes in Aruba ships stay until 10pm).

6. Stateroom, on board entertainment, swimming pools, cleanliness

a. Stateroom - the stateroom was kept clean, stateroom attendant did a great job, attended to our needs, bed was done, towels folded (or exchanged for new ones), Daily Compass (guide) on our bed on daily basis. Besides initial issues with the shower and pipe-clog on the deck, i can't say anything but positive.

b. Swimming Pool Area - packed with people during "cruising" day, two small swimming pools packed with kids and adults like sardines in a tin can, 3rd pool in the "spa" area, busy as well. Someone managed to vomit in one of the pools - it seems like it had been cleaned up, but with the amount of people no amount of chlorine would be able to sanitize it. Kids are getting out of control and jumping on peoples' heads but that is their parent's fault for not knowing any better how to conrol and manage their kids in the public places. You know who you are! One of the days during the trip, one of the pools was closed for repairs. It seems there are enough lounge chairs on a deck for most of the peole either to sunbathe or hide in the shade. Jaccuzzis even more packed than swimming pools. Life music performed on daily basis - great island music. Daily activities held by the swimming pool kept people entertained.

c. Shows - excellent international crew. Highly recommended ice show did not disappoint at all - ice skaters are real professionals and can easily compete with Olympic skaters (not just my opinion - that what i heard from people on board). Other shows such as tribute to U2, comedy show, and dance show were great too.

d. Daily Entertainment - besides shows, movie theater showed movies such as Spectre, Hunger Games, Star Wars... Lounge areas had some piano and band music on various nights, others had some game shows. Cruise director Dan tried to be as funny as he could be; hosted number of games by the pool area. The days were filled with activities from the morning to the night which would be more than enough for most of the individuals.

e. Cleanliness - overall the ship is kept clean, sanitizer is all over the place, dirty plates, glasses, utensils are rmoved very fast; bathrooms are spotless; pool towels can be exchanged for the clean ones at any time.


7. Ship's Crew.

Now, that is where it gets interesting. The crew is how to put it - NOT that keen on keeping the people happy. They are doing their job, but without any enthusiasm. Let's just say around 85% of the on-board personnel are lacking such facial features are smiles and hearty friendliness. Yes, given it is Royal Caribbean's CEO, President, and CFO fault for making budget cuts, crew cuts, and supposedly "making things better", it turned as expected - it backfired on the customers - us, the cruisers. Here are few examples - it's not enough that surcharge for the drinks is automatically added to the bill, i always add $1-2 to the bill as well. Only once i heard from the crew member that brought me a drink "thank you". Another thing about servicing staff - 50% of them walk around with the trays like they do not belong there for the reason of just walking around - until someone calls them. Just recently, on the Brilliance of the Seas, similar service was done with the smile and constant offering for the service.

I can say only positive thing about our Dinner Service - our waiter Ljubica in the Main Dining room was one of the highlights of the trip.

Swimming Pool Patrol/Attendants - do their job without a care in the world. They see people sitting and enjoying peace and quiet, yet they have to drag the chairs and lounge chairs to adjust the positioning making screeching sound. Just lift it up a bit!

"Security" control - be more welcoming - people are not the heard of animals that need to get back on board of the ship.

Bar staff - it certainly would not hurt to have a smile!

Yes, i know the long hours you have to work, that you work seven days a week without days off for 6-8 months (or whatever the terms of your contract are), but it is your job, so do it well. Just like most of us do our job back home so we can pay for you to have an opportunity to work on the ship - this is the Servicing Industry Business not a factory or IT.

Guest Services - i have to give lots of compliments to Marisol - she works well with people - great attitude!

Windjammer staff - one day are attentive, another day - nowhere to be found. Granted, the tables get cleaned up fast.

Our Stateroom attendant - Frank did a great job, did it seemlessly with no intrusions.

8. Now, and this is very important for many people - Food:

This will probably require pages and pages of writing so i'll keep it brief. After this cruise, i once and for all nailed it im my head that all-inclusive option (especially on the ship) is for people who's main purpose of vacation is to indulge in gluttany no matter how good or bad the quality of the consumed product might be. We ate at Windjammer restaurant (buffet) and at the Main Dining Room. The food experience varied. If you are looking for healthy food choices, you might have difficulty finding the right food for you. The veggies are there, basic fruits are present as well. Healthy dishes - not that much. Most dishes are cooked on corn or palm oil, number of dishes are processed food, there are virtually no gluten free choices (very very few things are labeled as gluten free). There is no Soy or Almond or Coconut milk (granted many of those who dine have no idea of those choices). Food selection is quiet limited even though there is nightly variety of the Dinner Theme such as Italian, German, Caribbean nights. Seafood such as shrimps and crab meat is totally off buffet menu (may be due to health concern - for getting spoiled too fast). No pasta variety.

Off course burgers, so-called pizza, and hot dogs are always there! No veggieburgers though. Oatmeal cookies are tasty but taste like half of margarine stick had been added to each cookie. Presentation and sanitation are on a good scale. The breakfast is the same on daily basis with the only decent choice - omelet. There was absolutely no variety whatsoever. The fountain drinks(ice tea, orange juice, lemonades) are highly diluted - that is a welcoming thing - at least a sugar content will not be jumping off the radar after the trip. Comparing to any of my previous experiences, buffet dining on Adventure of the Seas is all time low. I would give it 2 out of 5.

Main Room Dining - main room on Adventure of the seas spans over 3 decks (3,4,5). Tables like on other ships range from individual (2 persons) to large groups of 10-12. Due to our late booking we automatically had been assigned late sitting (there are 3 types of dinner sitting: early at 6:30pm, late - at 8:30pm; and any time (you either schedule it at the beginning of your trip or call in the morning to book available sitting 6:30-8:30). All are fine options. We did want to change ours from 8:30pm to any time, but were told that everything was booked; same story with 6:30pm, and to get individual table - we were told that nothing is available at any time. That was frustrating and annoying since we did not want to sit with the group of people at large table but just wanted peaceful dinner - just the two of us.

So, we really did not like that there was supposedly "no individual table" availability. First night we went to the buffet; 2nd night we went to the Main Dining and asked front desk to change our table reservation - fortunately individual table opened up. We were lucky to get a great waiter - Ljubica and very nice assistant waiter. Thanks to both of them our dining experience throughout the trip really brightened not such glorious food (both at the buffet and at the Main Dining). Food presentation was nice, quality - very average. There are few comments i like to make - first of all, living in New York i am exposed to huge variety of various ethnic foods all over city - there are 23000 restaurants in 5 boroughs - quality at many of them is very high and i can say that throughout my world travels over last 15 years any food that i ate abroad (besides some exceptions) tasted as good at home. Remember, this is New York we are talking about - the melting pot of USA - every ethnicity, all types of restaurants, be it a small Tibetan store in Queens, or Equadorian bodega in Brooklyn. I am quiet sure (and not to offend anyone), the food experience for people from smaller cities with less food variety and limited ethnic diversity would be very different on the cruise ship than for myself. This is absolutely logical and understandable.

Another point i would like to bring up is the "Formal Night". Personally it is just killing me - this is a vacation, i want to enjoy myself, dress light and relaxed. Not to be stuck in the suite with a tie. I am not saying that shorts should be permitted in the dining hall, but making things formal is just overboard. Also, to note, you do not have to dress fancy - forget your jacket and a tie or long dress and high heels. Dress lighter - like you go to dinner with friends to a simple restaurant. This is totally fine as well - no one going to look down on you. I have to wear shirt and a tie for work every day. Believe me this is the last thing i want to put on during my time off. It is great for people who rarely dress up, or who enjoy doing so, or for those people/families who want complete once-in-a-lifetime entertainment experience. Off course you can just go to Windjammer Buffet. And another note about the food at the Main Dining - there are choices, but not as much daily variety as on other cruise ships.

Drinks on the ship are way overpriced, and if you are a drinker - think about purchasing drinking package - the best is $55-59 per person per day and includes virtually all drinks on board (not sure about exceptions). The cost of wine per glass ranges from $8 and up; beer $8 and up, mixed drinks $10 and up. This is not so bad, but the tax as well as automatic 18% surcharge is added to each drink. On top of that, there is another line for Additional tip on the receipt. So, if you do your math, $10 mixed drink, will end up around $13-14 (if you add another dollar to it). If you are planning to gulp 5+ drinks a day, think about those drinking pacakges. Simpler options are available at lesser cost. There is also non-alcoholic package including brand name sodas and lemonades which are not available at the drinking fountains. Off course many mixed drinks will be diluted and will contain tons of sugar and syrup. Also, bottled water on board comes with a price tag of $4.75 per 1L bottle.

9. Internet - internet service is available in a "computer center" on Deck 8. There are 20+ computers. WiFi service is also available on board. The price is $20 per day but does not give you access to VOIP applications such as Skype and Facebook. Closer to the end of cruise, the price dropped to $15 per day. You can also purchase internet package for your whole cruise length.

There is a TV in each cabin - the channels are not appealing, but we are not going on a cruise to watch tv. There are 5-7 channels that outline daily activities, ports of call, promos to sell future cruises and excursions, more promos to shop onboard and at the ports of call (especially with cruise affiliated shops). Most useful channel is the interaction channel where you can check your SailPass balance, messages, purchase excursions, and more.

I am going to mention very interesting thing about your SailPass account and why you should check it at least once or twice during your cruise. Check it on the intractive TV channel in your room and make sure there would not be any additional or unusual charges on your Sail Pass. I am glad i checked mine - there was one crazy charge of $8868.70 - someone at Windjammer Cafe mistyped the numbers (would have been hell of a party at that charge). Marisol at Guest Relations on Deck 5 easily reversed the charge. But the point is, check your charges before your disembark. It's much easier to dispute the it right away (face to face) than a month later over the phone.

10.Disembarkation procedure is standard - by 11pm night before departure put your luggage with attached tag(will be left in your room) outside your cabin. Watch disembrkation procedure on one of the tv channels and follow the directions (you'll also get a disembarkation procedure document night before departure). Your departure time will vary (you'll be able to see it on the list, based on your luggage tag number). Ours was #11 and we were suppose to leave the ship around 10am (all the cabins must be freed up by 9:30am). On the morning of your departure you can have breakfast and then go to one of the designated areas to wait your departure time call. (You do not have to rush to leave the ship - if you miss your designated time range, you can always get off the ship a bit later - as long as you are off the ship). Once you leave the ship, you will end up in the huge hangar - there will be long line to go through customs and also rows of luggage cases lined up by the luggage number tag. Pick up your suitcases, then join the customs line (usually 30min). Say goodbuy to the cruise, hop on the taxi and head either to airport ($19) or wherever else you are going. There is nasty good buy from the taxi porters - they are rude and demanding - "give me a tip" - for the piece of luggage loaded in the cab.

11. Few words about people on board i.e. the passengers. There are some good and bad things that could be mentioned. The good - people are genuinly having fun - there are shows, activities, dance club, lounges, music, casino... For those who want peace and quiet - there is library, quiet areas on various decks... There is something for everyone on board. Now some cons - there are a lot of people onboard - you are stuck on the ship with 2-3000 other passengers. If you can't tolerate people well, probably cruise is not a vacation trip for you. Your co-cruisers might get roudy, irritating, annoying, drunk, and plain weird. Lots of on-board entertainment seems very lame and jokes are just dumb. But somehow people go along with them. And that makes you think - what kind of people am i surrounded by? And at the same time many others are genuinly fun, knowledgeble, and full of interesting stories. Eating is the whole different story - some people are conservative with what they eat; others, mostly those who should not be eating certain things in the first place, fill up their plates with tons of mixed junk food, and gulp one plate after another like they never tasted food before (buffet observances). Certain people are way too loud, inconsiderate, and just have no clue how to behave in public. In the environment like this it is easy to see why us, Americans seen and presented as obnoxius and disrespectful.


12.In this last section i'll compare this cruise to others that i took in previous years, and will drop few harsh word to Cruise CEO, CFO, President, and others.

Over past 4 years i was on 4 cruises: Brillaince of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas from Royal Caribbean; ms Nieuw Amsterdam by Holland America, and Summit by Celebrity. Also, my last cruise on Adventure of the Seas was also my first ever cruise in 2001 on the same ship. I'll just briefly compare the last 4 cruises. The main difference was noticable in general on-board service, crew attitude, and food quality and presentation. By far, Adventure of the Seas is on the lower end of the scale in all the categories; just above Celebrity Summit. Brilliance tops in all the categories, while ms Nieuw Amsterdam excelled in food variety and presentation. The crew on Holland America Line is predominanty Philippino, while very diverse on the other cruise lines. Evening shows were excellent on all the ships, while day entertainment was better on Brlliance and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Cruise director makes huge difference of the cruise experience. Brilliance excelled at that. Summit and Adventure - not so much. Food quality was excellent on Brilliance and ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Adventure of the Seas somehow managed to win dining room award last year. Comfort and convenience was similar on all the ships - logically, the newer the ship, the better and more fun, comfortable, and luxurious it is going to be.

The main problem with all the cruise ships on all the Cruise Lines, as it is easy to pinpoint - long and hard hours for the employees, budget cuts, and disregard of the older ships in favor of the newcomer monsters. This is such a shame though, because at the end, your most valuable asset is the one who is not pleased - your loyal customers. If the cruise company is aiming totally toward older crowd then they will not win younger or family crowds unless they drop cruise prices. And it seems that is exactly what is done, which causes, budget cuts, higher crew turnover, and expression of being displeased in the form of bad customer service, frowns, and lack of enthusiasm and passion. CEOs, CFOs, CAOs, COOs and such - take care of your employees, treat older ships like you treat new ships, embrace changes, welcome your customers, give them the best possible experience so they would come back again and again rather then chosing your competitors. Most likely i'll be back to Royal Caribbean, just not to Adventure of the Seas. Overall experience: 2/5.
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