I hope this report is as helpful to those heading to New England & Canada as other reports were for us preparing for our cruise.
This was our 5th cruise all with RCL and the first time on Adventure of the Seas. Liberty is our favorite ship. Overall we had a very nice time. What attracted us to this ship was its itinerary. We had wanted to do the NE/Canada itinerary for some time. We flew to Newark airport and took an Uber to the port. It was hands-down the smoothest boarding we have every had.
We had a balcony cabin on the bump out of deck 9. The location was great, not too far from the elevators yet very quiet. Two of the elevators near our cabin were out of service frustrating many passengers. We opted to take the stairs most of the time. Once onboard we checked out our cabin and then went to the Windjammer for lunch. After lunch and back to our cabin our luggage had arrived. We unpacked and then went up to the top deck as we sailed out of the harbor. You don’t pass the Statue of Liberty when you leave out of Cape Liberty but you can see it in the distance. It was very windy as we set sail.
We chose my time dining. We tried to call to make reservations but so was everyone else apparently. We decided to walk down and see if we could make them. The best time we could get was 7:30. A little later than we had hoped but better than waiting in the long line with the others that did not make reservations. The third-floor my time dining room seemed to confuse a lot of people. There was one desk to the left as you approach the dining room where you would go if you did not have reservations and then two desks past that one on either side of the entrance to the dining room for reservations. No one seemed to want to go to the left despite the sign that clearly read reservations both sides. It was a long line on the right hand side and hardly anyone on the left. More than once we walked past that long line to the desk on the left side. We had asked for a table for two most nights. One night we sat at an odd table placed in a doorway right next to the servers staging/cleaning area. Our waiters didn’t have any of the tables around us. It appeared to us that this table was an add on and not a usual table. Needless to say we didn’t get very good service that night. When asked by our head server how everything was I felt compelled to tell him that this was not a very good table. He offered to move us but by then we had already had our appetizers and didn’t want to move. He took note of our displeasure so we weren’t seated there again.
Our ports on this cruise were Portland, Bar Harbor, St. John New Brunswick and Halifax. We booked our excursions on our own, independent of the cruise line. We prefer doing things on our own so as to have flexibility.
We arrived in Portland early Sunday morning. We were in Portland a few years ago so we had already been to Kennebunkport and to the Portlandhead lighthouse. Once off the ship we walked to a nearby church for mass and then headed over to the Holy Donut. If you go there, don’t let the long line around the corner deter you, it moves fast. The donuts made from potatoes were very good and worth the wait. We had 1pm reservations on a small lobster boat with just 10 other people. The company, Lucky Catch is close to the port. We had a great tour with them. We learned a lot about trapping lobsters. Everyone on the boat had a chance to participate baiting the traps and pushing them in. We learned the difference from male and female lobsters and got to band the ones big enough to keep. At the end of our 90 minute tour we got to purchase the lobsters big enough to keep for just $7 each. You then walk them next door to the Portland Lobster Company where they cook them and serve them with lunch for $12. It was a lot of fun and interesting. The beautiful weather added to the fun time that we had.
Next port was Bar Harbor. This was a tender port. If you didn’t have a ship excursion booked you needed to be off the boat before 9 am or else wait for those with booked excursions to get off. They were using large whale watch boats to tender so it went fast. We were on the first boat to tender in. Here we had booked bikes to ride through Acadia. We aren’t big bikers so we opted for the Pedego electric bikes. This was so much fun. You can pedal as much as you want or push the pedal assist when you get tired. The bikes also have a throttle that makes going up hills very easy. The bikes can go up to 20 miles per hour if you want. The owner of the shop gave us great directions to the park loop road. There was some traffic before we got to the park that can be a little nerve wracking but once on the park loop road the traffic is one way and two lanes making it easy for cars to get around you. We stopped at Jordan Pond restaurant in the park for an early lunch before heading back. We hoped to ride up Cadillac Mt but didn’t have enough time as we had only rented the bikes for 4 hours. Back in town we stopped for a drink at an Irish pub near the port. We then walked up and down the main street checking out the shops and ended the late afternoon having a bite to eat on the patio at the Bar Harbor Inn where you get an amazing view of the harbor. I could have sat there all day.
The next day we arrived in St John New Brunswick. This was the only port we didn’t make any pre arrangements. It was going to be a short stop. We had to be back on the ship by 2:30. Many people were going to see the reversing falls but everything I had read said you either needed to be there right at the right time or go there twice in the day to see the water going in a different direction. Neither appealed to us. We decided to head over to the museum to learn about St. John. We walked along the walkway near the water and stopped at a craft show that was set up. I purchased a few pairs of unique earrings made of crushed lobster shells for gifts. What we learned at the museum was that St. John was once a vibrant ship yard where many vessels were built. The museum houses many ship artifacts. After the museum we headed over to the farmers market. Where we live we have an amazing farmers market so this wasn’t very impressive to us, but none the less I’m glad we went. From there we decided to start checking out the neighborhood pubs. This is something we like to do when we visit new cities. Our first stop was to the Cask & Kettle. We sat at the bar and had a pint and talked with the bartender. From there we walked around the corner and up the hill to the Big Tide brewery. Here we had some delicious sweet potato poutine with our drinks before taking a slow walk back to the ship.
Our last port was Halifax. It was here that we planned to rent a car and drive out to Peggy’s Cove. We hadn’t made reservations and didn’t think it would be an issue. The closet car rental to the port was Hertz and they didn’t have any cars left. They pointed us in the direction of Budget about a 15 minute walk from the port. Luckily they had a car. For about $42 US dollars we rented a Toyota RAV4 for the day. We set our google maps for Peggy’s Cove and were off. What a beautiful drive and area. Once there we parked at the Information Center and walked out to the light house. It was so scenic. This is what you imagine Nova Scotia to look like. The colorful houses reflecting in the water and the large rocks leading out to the lighthouse. There were quite a few tour buses parked behind the main gift shop when we arrived. They had pulled away before we left so we had a few minutes without the large crowds. I bought a latte just inside the gift shop that tasted great. We grabbed a few souvenirs and then decided to share a lobster roll from a stand on our way to the car.
We headed back to Halifax and decided to stop at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where many of those who lost their lives on the titanic are buried. This stop and Peggy’s are cruise excursions for those that rather go that route. We saw some of the people from the ship on tours at them both. As we approached the graves you could hear the tour guides commentary. It was very moving to see these graves, some with names while others with just numbers. From here we returned the car before headed over to the museum. We are not normally museum people and this was the second one on this cruise. The titanic exhibit was the highlight. We both agreed the cemetery was more interesting. We left there and headed back towards the ship along the boardwalk. With time to kill we stopped at the Garrison brewery close to the cruise port for a pint. You have to walk through a large market at the port to get to the ship, giving you one last chance to grab some souvenirs. Our last full day was at sea.
Observations about this cruise...you would definitely say the crowd on the ship was as “older” crowd. We never used the pool or hot tub but saw others that did. It never seemed hot enough to us. The highs were very pleasant, in the 70’s most days. We spent many nights in the Duck & Dog pub listening to Carlo. He had quite a following. He is a guitar player from the Philippines that sings many songs that the crowd sings along to. He had quite the following on our cruise. The balcony on this ship is not as large or as open as those on Liberty. The room are about the same. We used the gym both days at sea. The food on the ship was just okay, nothing memorable, good or bad. Our room steward was very attentive. There were very few people out on the deck at night but it was windy most nights. RCL seems to be cutting back on some of their services. Free room service is limited to a continental breakfast. Anything else will cost you. At the bar if you don’t request a certain alcohol you will be given top shelf and pay a lot more for a mixed drink. Being able to upload your photo and fill out your documents online makes for a quicker boarding.
If you have never been on a cruise you will enjoy the Adventurer. We had a good time and don’t sweat the small stuff, (like elevators being out). Others seemed very annoyed. This being said, I would likely not recommend this ship to others who have been on a higher class ship solely based on the food and the balcony, two things that we look forward to on ships.
Cabin was average. The balcony disappointing from other RCL ships. They seemed smaller and not as open.