Number of Cruises: 13
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: May 4th, 2003
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Adventure of the Seas – Southern Caribbean
Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St.Thomas
May 4th through May 11th
Embarkation: We flew down to San Juan on Saturday so that when the cruise left on Sunday we would not be so worn out and tired. It was a great idea. There were a lot of cruise people at the hotel. We had a connecting flight in Charlotte, but heard some others from Newark got direct flights. We booked rather early, so we were amazed we did not get the direct flights. We stayed at the Condado Plaza where we had a nice lunch, sat by the pool and then some dinner and gambling. The next day, our luggage was sent to the ship and we were to take a pre-arranged bus at 1pm. At 12:50 we arrived at the front of the hotel and were told that the bus was leaving at 1:45. We decided to take a cab instead for only $10. Turns out there was a bus that left already which we were not happy to hear about. The cab got us there quickly though and we were one of the first groups to board. We did have to wait a bit and there were rows and rows of white chairs. They called one row at a time and it moved pretty quickly. Plus RCCL had their Krooze Komics entertaining the passengers waiting to board. For one of the cruise documents necessary to board, they had a way to fill out the forms on line before you left on your trip, which I did. Then, they had a line for Paperless Boarding. We went on this line (however, it did not look any shorter than the other line) and when we got to the desk the woman asked if we had printed out our forms. I asked her why they wanted it printed if it was Paperless Boarding. She did not seem amused, but she said it was not necessary to have a printed version. Also, I had heard at one time that if you are a Crown and Anchor member and the ship is not full that you can upgrade. They would not do it for us, even though the ship was not full. What is up with that I wonder???
It was nice boarding early, we went to the pool and relaxed. It is a good idea to keep a bathing suit, shorts, dinner outfit in your carryon since some of our tablemates did not get their luggage till after dinner. Our luggage came quickly and we unpacked before dinner. We had a great table of 8 – we got along famously and had a ton of fun. The waiter was very efficient and the asst waiter was great as well.
Stateroom: I recommend getting a balcony. It is really nice when you get up and can go out on the balcony to check the weather, etc. If you cannot afford that, get the atrium view that we heard was nice as well. Even the smaller cabins – 172 sq ft have balconies. This is what we had and it was small, but not too small. We did use room service on occasion and they were very accommodating. I even ordered just soda, and it came with glasses of ice too.
Drinks: On board they had a wine package – you could order a different bottle every night out of a select group of wines (just so happened our favorite – Calleterra (sp?) – was one on the list). It was a very good deal which we took advantage of. Also, they have a drink-card that you can purchase which is also a good deal if you drink. But, do not order beer with this, save it for the more expensive drinks or wine.
Entertainment: In my opinion the entertainment was only so so. I enjoy comedy and it just was not that good. Only the magician comedian was funny. I am not into the dancing shows but I guess they were OK. The ice show was really cool, pardon the pun. You need tickets that are just for crowd control purposes. It looked like no matter where you sat, though, the view would be great.
Shopping: On board they have a loose gemstone selection. You can buy the stones and have them set in Kay’s Jewelry store. I got 2 ctw each ear of citrine, and with the setting, they were about $85. Not too shabby… Another perk is that if you are a Crown and Anchor member, you get a coupon book to use on board. I did use a couple of them – one is for a free photo of the ship with the purchase of any photo. Regarding shopping on the islands, most of them have the same stores. The ship recommends certain stores and stands by the merchandise. So, we usually go there to shop. There are some pretty good deals, but they do start out with a high price and then, as you are saying I do not think so, they go down lower and lower. Keep trying till they reach rock bottom. I shop on the jewelry shopping channels, and I found that the prices are comparable. You should know the value of what you are buying beforehand, however. I think St. Thomas has the best selection and the most stores. There are some right off the ship and more stores in the town of Charlotte Amalie which is a $3 ride from the ship. There is also a straw market with some good bargains on tee shirts.
Pool: There were 2 sea days, so we got to enjoy the pool. There were plenty of chairs in the shade which was nice. Not too crowded and no one fighting over chairs. The pool is gorgeous with a ledge to sit on and then you can sit in about 4 inches of water or go totally in the pool. The pool band – I have heard much better.
Activities: We attended the Port and Shopping talk on our first sea day. They recommended purchasing the Passport for $20 which had tons of coupons for the Caribbean islands, including the ones we were visiting. One of the coupons was for a free tote bag that changes color in the sun and this was worth the $20 bucks. Then, you get all kinds of free earrings and such – really cheap stuff and the stones are microscopic, but it was fun hunting for the stuff. Treasure hunting in the Caribbean. I ended up winning a 5 carat Amethyst pendant at the end of the shopping talk!!! So, of course, I had to buy some Amethyst earrings in one of our ports.
We did not take advantage of the more adventurous activities, like rock climbing, etc. However, we did have breakfast with 2 young couples who had been on an Off Road Adventure in Aruba. They claimed it was awesome. They started out in 7 jeeps and came back with 5 since the terrain was so rough and the driving was so wild. RCCL had lots of these excursions (which are extra of course except the rock climbing). So, there is something for everyone.
Aruba – we went to the Radisson Hotel which was on Palm Beach. The beach was really nice, but for the ‘ship people’ they had crummy chairs and put us down by the water. We felt like we were in ‘downtown’ Aruba. It was OK, though, if I was staying there I would not want all the cruise ship people taking my beach chairs. We did try Carlos N Charlies too, that evening, since we were in port till 1am. It is a wild place, with lots of young kids. We ended up sitting upstairs and could not see anything. So, we had a couple of drinks and then left. The music was great and it seemed like fun but I guess I am just too old for this stuff.
Curacao. For this beach you need water shoes. It was very rocky and had broken shells. We went to the Seaquarium Beach which was really pretty and not too crowded.
St. Maarten. Here we went to Little Divi Resort. The chair and umbrella rental was much cheaper. The water had a nice bit of waves and was very relaxing. If they recommend Dawn Beach, do not go. It was destroyed in the last hurricane and there is not much there. No facilities. Good shopping, but it is hard to avoid the hawkers for taxis, hair braiding or tours. You try and ignore them but they are pretty insistent.
St. Thomas. Our favorite. We did some shopping and then the St. John Sea and Snorkle. We did this tour the last time and it was really fun. The boat ride is at least an hour and it is so relaxing while they tell you about the islands. Then, you can go to a little beach on Trunk Bay or snorkel around the rocks. I saw squid, parrot fish, angel fish, schools of a pretty blue/purple fish, a needle fish and many, many more that I did not recognize.
The Promenade: The Duck and Dog pub that is on the promenade was really fun. They had a guy who did his own karaoke and what a hoot. They had a small crowd of people outside stopping by to listen. When my tablemate and I did Sweet Caroline, the whole place was hopping!!!
Johnny Rockets – we tried once to get in on a sea day, but there was a 20 minute wait. Bummer.
Overall, this was a fantastic cruise. The year before we did the same ship but a different Southern itinerary that was equally fabulous. I highly recommend this cruise line and the Southern Caribbean itineraries are our favorite. We had such great tablemates this time and I hope to keep in touch with some of them.