Occupation:Self Employed Heating Contractors
Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: 03-1-2009
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
The cruise was overall the fine experience we have come to expect on RCCL. While the ship is showing her age in some respects (a little wear and tear on upholstery and carpets), she is being kept up/clean/polished/painted. Had I not had previous experience on ships in service 1-4 years I would have found her in very good condition. Everything was cleaned quietly and an efficiently. The staff was marvelous. Casey Pelter is the current cruise director. We had sailed with him on the Navigator a couple years ago and he was great then and has improved since. Delightfully whitty and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, for all he is serious about his job helping us enjoy our cruise. The cabins were as we experienced previously on Voyager class ships. The bedding was lovely and still appeared very new.
The quality of the food was not what I had come to expect. It was still very good but seemed somehow to be a bit . . . less. Not quantity. Just small things: The shrimp was a bit tough (overcooked). Salad dressing choices in the dining room were limited to blue cheese and thousand island on all nights a tossed salad was available--I am sure I could have requested something else but where was a basic vinegrette? Ranch? Is blue cheese really everyone's favorite? Pasta dishes I enjoyed previously were gone and their replacements were not to my taste. Lobster is still available but smaller--they do bring seconds, thirds, etc. by request. Salad station at lunch was amazing--could have lived on that all week (lots and lots of dressing choices, shrimp, chicken, beef, 5 different choices of greens, every vegetable you can name, eggs, cheese, all the crunchy stuff) in addition to a luncheon menu and entre and soup of the day. The beef dishes were flavorful and tender, and portions generous (filet, prime rib, sirloin).
Having said that--I am comparing to previous cruises and finding fault. Our future son-in-law was on his first cruise, had no basis for comparison, and thought he had died and gone to heaven.
Our stateroom was lovely, the balcony clean, and our attendent, Mario was quietly efficient and coped with a lot of sand during our week['s stay. The bedding was beautiful and comfortable. The balcony is on our must have list and this year we enjoyed it a lot (no smokers alongside or below!) Our interior room was comfortable and roomy enough for the showering and sleeping, which were all that we cared to do there. A pipe in the hallway wall of this stateroom did break during our week on board. Water on the entire ship was turned off to remedy this--this took place twice and at a time the ship was nearly empty during two port days and did not inconvenience many guests--at least not us. Unfortunately the room flooded--RCCL staff did a bang up job trying to vacuum up the water, but it returned as fast as it left. The carpeting stayed wet and we were grateful this was the "man's room" as they weren't as repelled by this as myself and my daughters were. The ship was full and this room was their option unless we wanted two more bodies in our "girl room" (which was a quad)--but we did not!
We laughed until we cried at the Quest. Casey does this game better than any director we have seen try it. We personally were in a great group, and my daughter and future SIL were the leaders and had a marvelous time. The love and marriage gameshow was a laugh a minute, giving cruise director Casey another place to shine. We had felt the the production shows in the past were getting "tired" and similar to each other, but this year we saw a dance (dancing with the stars type) review show that may be the best show we have seen on a ship. The comedians were a riot and it made our cruise when husband ended up on stage assisting a physical comedian/juggler in his act (comedian was again someone fresh to us and riotously funny). Mosaic (a capella singing group) was really good as well. We danced in the street to the 70's beat--all the activities staff shone on that one. The ice show was new also and a really nice time. The crew talent show was delightful, with the highlight being a living fountain act put on by the activities staff which had us all laughing our heads off.
We booked a taxi (bullytaxi) in Aruba. He took five of us EVERYWHERE for $40 an hour, ended our tour at Palm beach and returned for later return to the ship. It was wonderful and we got really great pictures. The kids went over to Eagle beach and jetskied (New Guy on the Beach Kiosk). New machines, reasonable price, nice helpers, and not super picky about the 1/2 hour rental time. In Curacao we booked a "world of water" tour with Actief on the recommendation of others. It was all day. We were at many marvelous attractions alone--lots of amazing sights, including an ocean cave, blow whole, natural spa tub (with blow hole adjacent), a sea turtle cove, and snorkel site which we also had to ourselves. They had new land rovers with open backs and padded seats. Also provided a wonderful lunch. The guide was Howard and this was our favorite island, favorite tour, from ALL our cruises. This turned out to be a private tour for just our family.
St. Maarten we tried to rides horses (too windy--wind surfers spook the animals) went to Orient Beach (again, too windy) Our favorite thing there was the beach by Phillipsburg which was still that day, and the ferry was $6 per person, round trip, unlimited to and from the ship. It isn't the best beach, but on a windy, intermittantly rainy day it was an excellent choice.
On St. Thomas we booked a sailing yacht, the Simplicity and had an entire day of looking for secluded bays to swim, snorkel, and beach comb on adjacent islands. The captain was competent and personable, the First mate had a degree in Marine Science and both of them made the day memorable, including providing a fruit and crescent tray for breakfast and a grilled chicken luncheon. Great snorkeling in spite of the high winds again that day. This turned out to be a private tour for our family as well, the yacht accommodates 6 guests and there are five of us.
Back in San Juan we took a rain forest tour for people with later flights. We got into port late, took a while in customs, and started the tour late (it should have been cancelled). The guide drove between 19-22 mph to the rainforest (the second major delay). We got about 10 minutes there before we had to insist on being returned to the airport where we had time to check our bags, clear security, and be the LAST people to board our flight. This was booked through RCCL. 12 of the 16 people on this tour had 4 p.m. flights and it was an adventure in aggravation. Never again.
This may be our favorite itinery yet, in spite of the really long flight from Minnesota to San Juan. Curacao is breathtaking. The natural beauty there was unexpected after the dessert condition of Aruba. We are told this is their green season, and a warm rain in the afternoon (we were snorkeling by then and didn't mind) rinsed any dust off the flora. The harbor town was gorgeous with fantastic views from the harbor bridge and quaint and beautiful architecture. The beaches of Aruba were wonderful and that was probably more fun than a tour, and luckily we were able to do both. St. Maarten was a lot of fun in spite of the disappointments provided by the weather. St. Thomas was pretty, but again high winds limited our experience there. We shopped briefly in all four ports--the young and in love couple was on the hunt for a quality T-shirt and a Christmas tree ornament in each port. St. Maarten probably had the best shopping, although the native style market in Aruba was really a lot of fun, and the Aruban merchants were low key and not pushy.
I would return to any of these islands in a heart beat and we would all sail on the AOS again given the opportunity. In spite of a few bumps the overall experience was overwhelmingly positive, and averaged with all our other great experiences on RCCL we remain satisfied and loyal customers.