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"Lessons Learned" by Paul N. Brown I would like to start this review with a little personal information so others can understand my perspective. Seems like we read endless reviews pre-booking that were written by disgruntled retirees and the like. Here we go: I am 24 years old and my new bride is 21. We are both Caucasian Texans who are active individuals who enjoy adventurous activities. This was our first cruise and chose the Adventure of the Seas for our honeymoon. We actually got married on the 22nd of Dec, but decided to hold off on the cruise until after the New Year for cost reasons (about 38% less). I will try to dispel any rumors of the ship and recant our lessons learn for the ports of call. Airfare/Lodging Decided to book our own airfare b/c the ones through RCL were about $150 per ticket. Booking your own airfare means the onus is on you to catch the ship, so we decided to go down two days early. Our airfare was expensive and had a very circuitous routing - but it was the only way we could afford the trip. I think we paid $460/person for airfare from San Antonio, TX to San Juan. That's a big part of the Southern Caribbean cruise cost - just getting to the port. Neither of us had ever been to Puerto Rico before so we didn't have a clue where to stay. We ended up having William Shatner do the selection for us - via Priceline.com. I think Priceline is an excellent way to be adventurous and save some cash in the process. We simply stated that we wanted to stay in the city of San Juan, input what rating hotel we wanted (we chose 4-star for the honeymoon), and whallah! They choose the place for you! We ended up getting the Intercontinental Hotel for $139/night. It was very nice with a large flora garden, multiple pools, nice beaches, guards everywhere, and free chairs. I have never seen so much security at any hotel before. We drank too much the first night so we wasted one half-day recovering. Tried to go to the Bacardi factory but they were closed for Tres Reyes Day. Must see next time. Walked around Old San Juan and enjoyed the history. The shopping is EXPENSIVE with lots of American stores. The fort in San Juan is a must see. It's exactly how I envisioned pirates as a child. The next day we got a rental car for $40 and took off. The autopistas (highways) are nice with multiple 35 cent tolls out of San Juan. We drove half way around the island in two hours. El Yunque (the rain forest) is beautiful and you can drive all the way up in a car. A must see. That was the last thing we did before going back to get on the ship. Lessons learned for Puerto Rico Two days is a drop in the bucket! Heck, we'd need two weeks to do everything we wanted to. Taxis are pricey so if you're going to see the place then definitely rent a car. Next time we're going to rent another car in San Juan and start driving. We're going to use Priceline.com and get rooms all over the island and then drive around the whole thing - staying at a different place each night. We brought our own snorkeling equipment so we were set - however we never even made it to the Caribbean side of island. We can't wait to go back and explore. The Ship Getting on the ship was easy and VERY quick. Probably b/c we got there at 8:00 for a 10:00 pm sailing. We were in a cat DA balcony room which wasn't cheap but was worth it for the honeymoon. The balcony is private which is cool b/c you can be totally naked outside without anyone but the dolphins seeing you. The ship is brand new - made in Nov 01 and is beautiful! It was soooooo much more extravagant than I ever imagined. In fact, it was so beautiful, that I was really pissed off to see folks leaving empty glasses and trash lying around. The cruise staff do their absolute best, but it's the average Joe who didn't learn respect for property as a child who screws it up for the rest of us. I digress..... The food was outstanding. Windjammer was great for casual dining and most any time. Johnny Rockets was good with a great atmosphere. The main dining was OUTSTANDING and our service was EXCEPTIONAL. You can get anything you want! I got two entrees each night while my wife got two desserts - don't be afraid to ask. We dressed as listed b/c RCL for the different nights - no probs. I would definitely recommend getting room service for breakfast. We did it every morning but one. It doesn't cost anything to get it e/x that you can tip the waiter - that's the only thing that was done in cash the entire trip. We gave him $2 per morning and I dearly miss eating breakfast out on the balcony. The shows were AMAZING. Go to all of there. You're shorting yourself if you don't. Lesson Learned There is a full day of activities the first day you can get on the ship. Go on mid-day, get acquainted with the ship, and enjoy the bon-voyage dinner. Aruba The most friendly island we visited - hands down. The people were incredible. Aruba is a DESERT - it looks just like Arizona surrounded by water. No shade but wonderful people. Like I said we wanted to do our own thing so we packed the snorkeling gear and rented a moped right outside the ship. $50 for the super-rama-rama-delux one full day. That sucker would do 63 mph as we hauled off into the great unknown. Drove across the island to Baby Beach which is very remote with only two stands selling food and drinks from coolers. If you take a cab out there you must pre-arrange a pick-up - like I said it's very remote. One shower which costs $1 per person to use. There is a shallow lagoon which has a narrow strait that opens up to the Caribbean. Outside that strait was the best snorkeling we did the entire trip. The visibility was twice as good as anywhere else we visited with no-kidding 80 foot visibility in the open ocean. I couldn't believe it. Lot's of corral and fish. Drove from there to the Land Bridge and the Gold Fortress via the dirt roads on the east side of the island - both very cool but lots of tourists running around. Went to Carlos and Charlies for a while that night. The party was great, but the beers were expensive and the place was crowded. Decided to street walk instead. Lessons Learned in Aruba I would definitely rent a jeep next time. There were LOTS of Suzuki Samurai's all over the place and they weren't much more than $50/day. Made the dirt roads much easier to travel and much more comfortable. However, if you're going to stay around town and not planning on leaving the pavement - get a moped! They're great fun and we only used $3 in gas to cover the entire island. We also got sun burned like you wouldn't believe. I'm not kidding - the tropical sun is much worse than in the US b/c you are closer and there is less atmosphere for the rays to traverse. Wear lots and re-apply often or suffer the consequences like we did! Next, stop at the tourist info shop when de-barking the ship. They have maps which were unavailable anywhere else b/c the island is just too small for the locals to need any. And definitely read the back of the tourist packet for the international street signs - they don't resemble anything in the US! Lastly, if you want to get away, travel to the SE corner of the island. The developed portion is on the NW side, and that's where most of the cruise folks go. I think they miss out on the snorkeling at Baby Beach and some of the beauty in desolation - you can see both in one day b/c Aruba is so small! Live it up. Curacao Did the only RCL booked excursion of the trip - the Animal Encounter Excursion at the Seaquarium. Booked this based on some reviews from other Cruise Critic folks. All I can say is WOW! I have experience with SCUBA before but wanted to get my wife's feet wet (pun intended). No certification necessary, just suit up, hop in, and frolic for 45 mins underwater. Fed everything from small fish to stingrays to sharks to sea turtles. The sharks and turtles are separated by plexiglass but you can hardly tell! I will never forget this excursion. Bring an underwater camera!!!!!!!!!!! Spent the rest of the afternoon perusing the shops. Very Dutch island. Lessons Learned Do the Animal Encounter Excursion! St. Maarten Rented a car right off the ship for $40. Drove around the island once to check out both the French and Dutch sides. They are very different indeed. Visited the Guavaberry Emporium and bought a bottle. Took a stroll down the main drag and it was very nice. Too many shops to take in at once. WE then left the city and decided to snorkel near the Dutch airport but the tides were strong so we decided to move along. Drove back across the island (25 min drive) to hit Orient Bay. The beach seemed to never end. Not as many topless chicks as I expected but it was a nice change of pace from the US. The nudist resort is on the East side of the bay - and is worth taking a peek at for comedic value alone. The snorkeling was average there with no coral and mostly grass beds. Orient Bay is more of a beach for hanging out, topless bathing, parasailing and the like - but not oriented for snorkeling/scuba. There is lots of real estate development going on in the Orient Bay area - looks like it will be a major French vacation spot in the near future. Lessons Learned Buy more Guavaberry Coladas. They're great and sure put you in that island state of mind in a hurry. Remember that if you decide to go al-natural at Orient Bay, the "un-tanned" portions of your body need more sunscreen than those which are regularly exposed to the sun. If you're looking for cheap booze - the cheapest I saw the entire trip was at the duty-free shop right at the ship. St. Thomas Thought this was the best shopping of the tour. The prices are the same in town as they are right off the ship so you can hit all the stores on foot. We bought my wife a nice stainless-steel Citizen watch for $48. The island is real small so the rent cars go quickly and are expensive! Approx. $90 per day. Based on local advice, we took a cab to Sapphire Beach for snorkeling. $14 for two folks. This was one of the highlights of the trip! The beach was small, very quaint, $3 chairs, crystal clear water, lot's of corral, fish everywhere, and just wonderful. Lots of locals go there. We snorkeled for hours along the shores and had a blast. Got out and ate at a local food stand for $3 person. Everything you want was there: bathrooms, changing room, water hose to rinse off, food, drinks, etc. It's not like a five-star resort at all - it's a simple, relaxing, beautiful hangout without the entire cruise ship on the beach. I miss it already.... Lessons Learned We did exactly the right things for us. Back to San Juan - very sad day. Disembarkation DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. I cannot stress this enough. It seemed that the folks who had been relatively nice to each other all week turned back into selfish jerks as soon as it was time to leave the ship. Very sad way to end a wonderful week. The cruise line did everything they could and the process is very efficient - but the paying cruisers in a rush can make it unpleasant. The same thing applies at the airport - take your time - remember you're on vacation! Lessons Learned From now on I want to be one of the last ones off the ship. I will plan to either take a late flight or stay another day to avoid the rudeness and pushing that occurred at disembarkation. We always carried our own bags both off and on the ship to eliminate mishaps with lost luggage - and what do you know - it worked! Overall Of course there were some negatives, but almost none of them had anything to do with RCL. There were very few kids running amuck b/c of the cruise date. The majority of them were doing the Adventure Ocean deal and well taken care of. However, I will say that the majority of negative experiences (pushing, being loud and verbose, not staying on right sides the hallway, etc.) were definitely not kids and they definitely weren't from the Continental United States. Take that for what you will, but there was a very definitive line of respect and politeness between half of the ship. All right, now that the petty things are out there, the experience was amazing. The ship is gorgeous. The food was unbelievable in the main dining room. The food was good everywhere else. The cruise director, Ken Rush, was outstanding and really set the tone for the entire week. The entertainment was world-class. The RCL shows, comedians, and El Goucho were Broadway/Vegas quality. The facilities were well thought out. The intra-net thru the TV was very classy. And most of all, my wife said it was everything she ever dreamed for a honeymoon. And that, more than anything else, means the world to me. We will return to RCL in the future and would recommend this cruise to anyone. Please contact me if you want any more information. pnb987pb@yahoo.com February 2002

Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the Seas Cruise Review by PNB987pb

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
"Lessons Learned"
by Paul N. Brown

I would like to start this review with a little personal information so
others can understand my perspective. Seems like we read endless reviews
pre-booking that were written by disgruntled retirees and the like. Here we
go:

I am 24 years old and my new bride is 21. We are both Caucasian Texans who
are active individuals who enjoy adventurous activities. This was our first
cruise and chose the Adventure of the Seas for our honeymoon. We actually
got married on the 22nd of Dec, but decided to hold off on the cruise until
after the New Year for cost reasons (about 38% less). I will try to dispel
any rumors of the ship and recant our lessons learn for the ports of call.

Airfare/Lodging
Decided to book our own airfare b/c the ones through RCL were about $150 per
ticket. Booking your own airfare means the onus is on you to catch the ship,
so we decided to go down two days early. Our airfare was expensive and had a
very circuitous routing - but it was the only way we could afford the trip.
I think we paid $460/person for airfare from San Antonio, TX to San Juan.
That's a big part of the Southern Caribbean cruise cost - just getting to the
port. Neither of us had ever been to Puerto Rico before so we didn't have a
clue where to stay. We ended up having William Shatner do the selection for
us - via Priceline.com. I think Priceline is an excellent way to be
adventurous and save some cash in the process. We simply stated that we
wanted to stay in the city of San Juan, input what rating hotel we wanted (we
chose 4-star for the honeymoon), and whallah! They choose the place for you!
We ended up getting the Intercontinental Hotel for $139/night. It was very
nice with a large flora garden, multiple pools, nice beaches, guards
everywhere, and free chairs. I have never seen so much security at any hotel
before. We drank too much the first night so we wasted one half-day
recovering. Tried to go to the Bacardi factory but they were closed for Tres
Reyes Day. Must see next time. Walked around Old San Juan and enjoyed the
history. The shopping is EXPENSIVE with lots of American stores. The fort
in San Juan is a must see. It's exactly how I envisioned pirates as a child.
The next day we got a rental car for $40 and took off. The autopistas
(highways) are nice with multiple 35 cent tolls out of San Juan. We drove
half way around the island in two hours. El Yunque (the rain forest) is
beautiful and you can drive all the way up in a car. A must see. That was
the last thing we did before going back to get on the ship.

Lessons learned for Puerto Rico
Two days is a drop in the bucket! Heck, we'd need two weeks to do everything we
wanted to. Taxis are pricey so if you're going to see the place then
definitely rent a car. Next time we're going to rent another car in San Juan
and start driving. We're going to use Priceline.com and get rooms all over
the island and then drive around the whole thing - staying at a different
place each night. We brought our own snorkeling equipment so we were set -
however we never even made it to the Caribbean side of island. We can't wait
to go back and explore.

The Ship
Getting on the ship was easy and VERY quick. Probably b/c we got there at
8:00 for a 10:00 pm sailing. We were in a cat DA balcony room which wasn't
cheap but was worth it for the honeymoon. The balcony is private which is
cool b/c you can be totally naked outside without anyone but the dolphins
seeing you. The ship is brand new - made in Nov 01 and is beautiful! It was
soooooo much more extravagant than I ever imagined. In fact, it was so
beautiful, that I was really pissed off to see folks leaving empty glasses
and trash lying around. The cruise staff do their absolute best, but it's
the average Joe who didn't learn respect for property as a child who screws
it up for the rest of us. I digress..... The food was outstanding.
Windjammer was great for casual dining and most any time. Johnny Rockets was
good with a great atmosphere. The main dining was OUTSTANDING and our
service was EXCEPTIONAL. You can get anything you want! I got two entrees
each night while my wife got two desserts - don't be afraid to ask. We
dressed as listed b/c RCL for the different nights - no probs. I would
definitely recommend getting room service for breakfast. We did it every
morning but one. It doesn't cost anything to get it e/x that you can tip the
waiter - that's the only thing that was done in cash the entire trip. We
gave him $2 per morning and I dearly miss eating breakfast out on the
balcony. The shows were AMAZING. Go to all of there. You're shorting
yourself if you don't.

Lesson Learned
There is a full day of activities the first day you can get on the ship. Go
on mid-day, get acquainted with the ship, and enjoy the bon-voyage dinner.

Aruba
The most friendly island we visited - hands down. The people were
incredible. Aruba is a DESERT - it looks just like Arizona surrounded by
water. No shade but wonderful people. Like I said we wanted to do our own
thing so we packed the snorkeling gear and rented a moped right outside the
ship. $50 for the super-rama-rama-delux one full day. That sucker would do
63 mph as we hauled off into the great unknown. Drove across the island to
Baby Beach which is very remote with only two stands selling food and drinks
from coolers. If you take a cab out there you must pre-arrange a pick-up -
like I said it's very remote. One shower which costs $1 per person to use.
There is a shallow lagoon which has a narrow strait that opens up to the
Caribbean. Outside that strait was the best snorkeling we did the entire
trip. The visibility was twice as good as anywhere else we visited with
no-kidding 80 foot visibility in the open ocean. I couldn't believe it.
Lot's of corral and fish. Drove from there to the Land Bridge and the Gold
Fortress via the dirt roads on the east side of the island - both very cool
but lots of tourists running around. Went to Carlos and Charlies for a while
that night. The party was great, but the beers were expensive and the place
was crowded. Decided to street walk instead.

Lessons Learned in Aruba
I would definitely rent a jeep next time. There were LOTS of Suzuki
Samurai's all over the place and they weren't much more than $50/day. Made
the dirt roads much easier to travel and much more comfortable. However, if
you're going to stay around town and not planning on leaving the pavement -
get a moped! They're great fun and we only used $3 in gas to cover the
entire island. We also got sun burned like you wouldn't believe. I'm not
kidding - the tropical sun is much worse than in the US b/c you are closer
and there is less atmosphere for the rays to traverse. Wear lots and
re-apply often or suffer the consequences like we did! Next, stop at the
tourist info shop when de-barking the ship. They have maps which were
unavailable anywhere else b/c the island is just too small for the locals to
need any. And definitely read the back of the tourist packet for the
international street signs - they don't resemble anything in the US! Lastly,
if you want to get away, travel to the SE corner of the island. The
developed portion is on the NW side, and that's where most of the cruise
folks go. I think they miss out on the snorkeling at Baby Beach and some of
the beauty in desolation - you can see both in one day b/c Aruba is so small!
Live it up.

Curacao
Did the only RCL booked excursion of the trip - the Animal Encounter
Excursion at the Seaquarium. Booked this based on some reviews from other
Cruise Critic folks. All I can say is WOW! I have experience with SCUBA
before but wanted to get my wife's feet wet (pun intended). No certification
necessary, just suit up, hop in, and frolic for 45 mins underwater. Fed
everything from small fish to stingrays to sharks to sea turtles. The sharks
and turtles are separated by plexiglass but you can hardly tell! I will
never forget this excursion. Bring an underwater camera!!!!!!!!!!!
Spent the rest of the afternoon perusing the shops. Very Dutch island.

Lessons Learned
Do the Animal Encounter Excursion!

St. Maarten
Rented a car right off the ship for $40. Drove around the island once to
check out both the French and Dutch sides. They are very different indeed.
Visited the Guavaberry Emporium and bought a bottle. Took a stroll down the
main drag and it was very nice. Too many shops to take in at once. WE then
left the city and decided to snorkel near the Dutch airport but the tides
were strong so we decided to move along. Drove back across the island (25
min drive) to hit Orient Bay. The beach seemed to never end. Not as many
topless chicks as I expected but it was a nice change of pace from the US.
The nudist resort is on the East side of the bay - and is worth taking a
peek at for comedic value alone. The snorkeling was average there with no
coral and mostly grass beds. Orient Bay is more of a beach for hanging out,
topless bathing, parasailing and the like - but not oriented for
snorkeling/scuba. There is lots of real estate development going on in the
Orient Bay area - looks like it will be a major French vacation spot in the
near future.

Lessons Learned
Buy more Guavaberry Coladas. They're great and sure put you in that island
state of mind in a hurry. Remember that if you decide to go al-natural at
Orient Bay, the "un-tanned" portions of your body need more sunscreen than
those which are regularly exposed to the sun. If you're looking for cheap
booze - the cheapest I saw the entire trip was at the duty-free shop right at
the ship.

St. Thomas
Thought this was the best shopping of the tour. The prices are the same in
town as they are right off the ship so you can hit all the stores on foot.
We bought my wife a nice stainless-steel Citizen watch for $48. The island
is real small so the rent cars go quickly and are expensive! Approx. $90 per
day. Based on local advice, we took a cab to Sapphire Beach for snorkeling.
$14 for two folks. This was one of the highlights of the trip! The beach
was small, very quaint, $3 chairs, crystal clear water, lot's of corral, fish
everywhere, and just wonderful. Lots of locals go there. We snorkeled for
hours along the shores and had a blast. Got out and ate at a local food
stand for $3 person. Everything you want was there: bathrooms, changing
room, water hose to rinse off, food, drinks, etc. It's not like a five-star
resort at all - it's a simple, relaxing, beautiful hangout without the entire
cruise ship on the beach. I miss it already....

Lessons Learned
We did exactly the right things for us.

Back to San Juan - very sad day.

Disembarkation
DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN
EARLY FLIGHT. I cannot stress this enough. It seemed that the folks who had
been relatively nice to each other all week turned back into selfish jerks as
soon as it was time to leave the ship. Very sad way to end a wonderful
week. The cruise line did everything they could and the process is very
efficient - but the paying cruisers in a rush can make it unpleasant. The
same thing applies at the airport - take your time - remember you're on
vacation!

Lessons Learned
From now on I want to be one of the last ones off the ship. I will plan to
either take a late flight or stay another day to avoid the rudeness and
pushing that occurred at disembarkation. We always carried our own bags both
off and on the ship to eliminate mishaps with lost luggage - and what do you
know - it worked!

Overall
Of course there were some negatives, but almost none of them had anything to
do with RCL. There were very few kids running amuck b/c of the cruise date.
The majority of them were doing the Adventure Ocean deal and well taken care
of. However, I will say that the majority of negative experiences (pushing,
being loud and verbose, not staying on right sides the hallway, etc.) were
definitely not kids and they definitely weren't from the Continental United
States. Take that for what you will, but there was a very definitive line of
respect and politeness between half of the ship.

All right, now that the petty things are out there, the experience was
amazing. The ship is gorgeous. The food was unbelievable in the main dining
room. The food was good everywhere else. The cruise director, Ken Rush, was
outstanding and really set the tone for the entire week. The entertainment
was world-class. The RCL shows, comedians, and El Goucho were
Broadway/Vegas quality. The facilities were well thought out. The intra-net
thru the TV was very classy. And most of all, my wife said it was everything
she ever dreamed for a honeymoon.

And that, more than anything else, means the world to me.

We will return to RCL in the future and would recommend this cruise to
anyone. Please contact me if you want any more information.


pnb987pb@yahoo.com
February 2002
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