My spouse and I (mid-thirties, two youngish kids) took this cruise to celebrate our tenth anniversary; it was our fourth cruise together. We sailed to Port Canaveral, CocoCay, and Nassau, and had an inside cabin on Deck 9. We were very happy when scheduling this trip to find that Royal now had two ships sailing from Bayonne, and chose this cruise over trying the Anthem partially for the price (cheaper than Anthem), and partially to try the new 7-day itinerary (Anthem is currently sailing the long time 5-9 day cruise rotation).
Adventure was updated earlier this year and is in very nice shape. We took time to try out the new waterslides - fairly tame for thrill seeking adults but popular with the kids, enjoyed the updated mini golf and somewhat more modern music choices, and found more opportunities to indulge our trivia appetites than in the past. I'm an active person and visited the gym most mornings - it was always busy but in good shape and clean. Our cabin though small was in good shape and sufficient for two active adults, and our staff were all friendly. Our cabin steward Lisbeth was wonderful and particularly deserves a shout out, she was always ready to say hello and chat, and even kindly offered to lend us some supplies to repair a lost button.
One other particular highlight was Izumi on the final sea day - it was our first time trying this restaurant. We took a 'learn to roll your own sushi' class under the restaurant's head chef, which was great fun and ended in a huge (and very tasty) lunch that we had made ourselves. Highly recommend to try it if you too like sushi (and don't be afraid if you don't like the raw stuff...4/5 of the things we made were cooked).
I'll include on the positives list the self-disembarking process - it was so incredibly easy. We showed up at the allocated time and walked right off the ship with no waiting. 10/10 would do that again.
Both my spouse and I couldn't help but notice the change that has been happening in the food quality. I tried to be open-minded here having read a number of other reviews noting the changes, and decided that the food is not as terrible as some people claim, but also not what it was in the past. What really seems to have changed is that the food in the included venues have become more cafeteria feeling. In the Windjammer this is probably to be expected - it's a buffet that feeds quite a lot of people all day long. It's a little more disappointing in the main dining room, where based on the decor and multiple-course format you might have expected a little more. We were in agreement that perhaps the formal-format dinner is no longer very practical. We would rather have had a single good quality entree than the current appetizer/entree/dessert of moderate quality. I would have also like to see some more modern flavors and culinary trends represented on the dinner menu. (Side note: We did visit both Izumi and Johnny Rockets, and the quality difference was immediately noticeable that these items were prepared to order).
One other lesser point we noticed related to dining was how the wait staff in the main dining room feels stretched more thinly than in the past. Both our head and assistant waiter were very pleasant and helpful persons, but neither seemed to have the time to banter like we have enjoyed in the past - the wait staff as a whole was all business. Honestly it looks like a hard job these days and I don't envy them.
Port Canaveral - we did the self-guided Kennedy Space Center shuttle and I must recommend it! The bus ride over was reasonable, and the Center itself is amazing! The included bus tour takes you all around the launchpads and shuttle assembly facility, and we got to see where they are converting one of the launch sites for future SpaceX launches. There were excellent exhibits and videos chronicling the Apollo missions and shuttle program, and lots of interactive spots for the kids. And as a side note - it poured for a long time that afternoon. While all the folks who traveled to Disney, Universal etc were doubtless getting soaked, we were happily indoors.
CocoCay - This was our first time visiting Royal's private island and the weather was beautiful. We had no excursion planned and had decided to take our time and head over after the tender line died down. This turned out to be a good idea, as the first time we checked around 10:30 the line snaked up to Deck 4, about an hour later it was gone and we walked right on to the tender. CocoCay itself was pleasant, right now it's primarily a long beach, some cabanas, food stations/bars, and the straw marked. (Royal is in the process of updating the island, and the center is all blocked off behind shields. You can also see the beginnings of the pier snaking our). We found an empty chair halfway down the beach to leave our things on, and enjoyed some time playing in the water. It was beautifully warm and clear. The close in section is calm and mostly waveless, but there is a roped off area where you can swim farther out and bob in the water, and some floating waypoints to climb up on and rest, and lifeguards hanging out around the edges. We swam out to sit on several of them and enjoy the peace, and saw lot of fish swimming around. All in all a very pleasant and low-key day.
Nassau - We had an excursion planned to go snuba diving (this is basically scuba-lite, you breathe through a simple regulator but the air tank floats on the surface, limiting you to only going about ten feet down). An early morning deluge got things off to a rough start, but fortunately had cleared by the time our bus arrived at the dive shop. This excursion was run through a legit dive shop and everyone was very professional. They took us out to a reef about a 10-15 minutes boat ride away, and the site itself was sheltered and calm. Because it was a bigger group we had to take turns with the snuba part, which I think actually made the excursion as a whole longer and better. We spent the first half just snorkeling around the boat - the reef they said was 15-20 feet down at different points, but you could easily make out plenty of coral formations and fish swimming around. Some of the larger fish also swam up under the boat and around us. It was really neat! Then it was our turn to snuba, and this is an experience worth trying once. Our guide explained that you do need to descend/ascend gradually to avoid issues with your ears and lungs, and I did notice the pressure increase and had to clear my ears. But it was fascinating to get down close to the fish. Our guide had some bait to bring the larger ones closer, so they swam all around us, and we even saw a barracuda come close. (No sharks haha! We were told they are actually rare on the reef because their typical prey does not like the warmer water in the shallows).
Overall, we had a great vacation and look forward to our next cruise. We plan to change it up a little next time - our kids are getting old enough to appreciate the variety of activities and will be coming along for the first time, and I think I may lean towards experiencing more of the 'extra' dining. This would mean a little bit of adjusting the budget upwards, but I think would make the overall vacation better.