Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: June 9th, 2002
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
What a great trip and a great cruise! We are 46 years old with two kids, but we didn’t take them this time. Here are some thoughts that may help everyone. This was our eighth cruise but I will try to write this for both first time and experienced cruisers.
1. What an awesome, beautiful ship. Very easy to learn your way around and the signage is excellent. (you do need to know that forward is the front of the ship, aft is to the back, starboard is right and port is left). This ship might honestly be too big for some, but it wasn’t to us. We rarely felt crowded (exceptions were around the pool on the at sea day and in the immigration line).
2. Service in the dining room. We had great service from our waiter, Mustapha, and our assistant waiter, Oana. We spoke to many other people and all were universally happy with the service in the dining room. We also got excellent service in the show lounges.
3. Food. Very good to excellent with only a very few misses.
4. Portofinos. (see below).
5. Room Steward. Great! Our room was cleaned twice a day and we always had fresh ice. We got everything we asked for and got it quickly.
6. Entertainment. I will discuss the individual shows below but RCCL usually does an above average job on entertainment, and this cruise was not different. I must mention “HOT ART - COOL ICE”, you must see this show!!
7. Children’s Program (Adventure Ocean). We did not bring our children but many people we talked about raved about how good it was. Only negative comment was from the parent of a 15 year old who did not want to participate.
1. Service around the pools and room service. I was at the pool for 3 hours Saturday and not one waiter asked if I needed anything. Had to keep going back and forth to the bar. Room service could never seem to get our order right. There always seemed to be something missing. Also, service in the bars was spotty, sometimes good, sometime bad, and sometimes non-existent.
FAVORITE PLACES ON THE SHIP
I know everyone’s taste is different, but here are the spots on the Adventure we really enjoyed.
1. Deck 4 - Both inside and outside. Inside, the casino. Outside, the promenade all the way around the ship. You can go all the way to the bow (the “King of the World” spot) and all around the ship. One unique feature of this promenade is you are actually outside the ship by the dining rooms. It’s hard to explain but the deck juts out so you can look forward, back or up and it feels like you are suspended outside the ship.
2. The Pool - enough said!
3. Blue Moon (Viking Crown Lounge - Deck 14) - every veteran of RCCL knows these spots. Great for a drink at sunset before dinner.
4. Royal Promenade (Deck 5) - Very unique. We especially liked the Duck & Dog Pub and the Café Promenade (24 hour cookies and sandwiches).
5. Our Own Balcony!!! (Cabin 7256) - Best of all. Our first balcony and I think we are spoiled now. I think I may need one of these for every cruise.
We actually got to San Juan on Saturday and spent the night at the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel. This hotel is across the street from the cruise ship terminal RCCL used to use (and Carnival Destiny still does) but it is not across the street from where the AOS docks. It is across the channel and is a cab ride ($12 and 5 minutes) away. We got to the pier at 11:45 and the porters took our luggage right away. They open the doors at 12:00 and then you are led into a waiting area with the now famous rows of white chairs. People are called row by row to proceed to the next area where the agents will check your documents and issue your cruise card. This card is your room key, charge card and pass to get on and off the ship. DO NOT LOSE IT! If you have a lanyard, just ask and the agent will punch a hole in the card for you. Everything went smoothly and we were an the ship by 12:45.
I heard some complaints about this procedure but do no share them. Yes, the air conditioning should have worked better in the embarkation waiting area (I suggest being sure you are wearing something cool when you arrive at the pier) but considering that they have to board 3500 people, most of whom show up between 12 and 5 (about 700 per hour) they do a very good job. The Krooze Komics are in the embarkation area to entertain. If you just go in with a little bit of patience and the right attitude, the procedure should be relatively painless.
Spent the day exploring the ship, unpacking and relaxing. We had the second seating, which is normally 8:30 but on Sunday only was at 9:00. We generally prefer second seating because unless you are by nature an early riser who just can’t stay up past 10:00, it seems to work out with the cruise ship schedule so much better. It is nearly impossible to spend a day outside or on the island du jour and get back in time to clean up for a 6:00 dinner, which is the main seating. Since the ship almost always leaves port at 6:00 you miss every sailing, sunset and sail away party! Too much of a sacrifice to us! We did see a lot of people in the Windjammer Restaurant (the always casual buffet line choice) every night between 7:00 - 7:30 and this may have been the early seating people who couldn’t quite make it. The food served in the Windjammer is nearly the same as in the dining room with a few exceptions but your miss the service and the little extras on the menu (like lobster!!). Most people do chose the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.
We had booked all our excursions on line so we did not have to do this on board. You can book excursions on line or at the Explorations! Desk on Deck 5 aft. We did make a reservation for Portofinos for Tuesday night, which is Caribbean night in the dining room.
We met our cruise director, Omar, for the first time. I have seen a lot of criticism on this board about Omar but we did not share that criticism. We thought Omar was friendly and did his job. This is our 8th cruise and we have had better cruise directors that Omar but we have certainly had worse! He does nothing to detract from the experience.
This seems also a good time to comment on the “Latin” flavor of the cruise that so many people seem concerned about. First of all, you must realize that you are sailing out of Puerto Rico, a place were Spanish is the native language. Naturally you will have a higher quotient of Spanish speakers on this ship than those that sail from a U.S. port, just as you would have a higher quotient of French speakers in a cruise that originates in France. The official language of the ship is English, so everything is done in English. Important announcements are also done in Spanish as well as some of the songs (maybe one or two) in the shows. It is not intrusive, and any English speaking person should feel very comfortable. The Latin people are well behaved, friendly, and on the cruise for the same reason as us, to have a great time. In my opinion, this is a non issue. In any event, it is not a problem and English speakers will be very comfortable.
MONDAY - St. Thomas
We did not do an excursion this day. We had spent our honeymoon on St. Thomas and St. John 20 years ago so we arranged with the same hotel to spend the day there. We did see a wedding party on the dock at about 9:00 a.m., Preflyt, was that you?
The first formal night and the Captain’s cocktail party. First production show, “Velvet Rope”. It was very good. Some gambling in the casino. Note to gamblers: RCCL has several rules which are not favorable to gamblers so take note. Craps is a “single odds” game and the blackjack tables us constant, automatic shufflers. If you are a gambler, you know what this means, and if not, never mind.
TUESDAY - St. Maarten/St. Martin
We took the Golden Eagle, a catamaran excursion to an island beach for swimming and snorkeling. The crew was friendly, the beach beautiful and the cruise enjoyable. We really had a good time. NOTE: RCCL warns you that nudity may be observed, and sure enough, it was. A whole boatload! There were children with us but after a few moments of staring, they went back to what they were doing. I think we all learned why people wear clothes!
Portofinos for dinner. Excellent! In our opinion worth the $20.00 (each) cover charge). The food was great (we had the lobster and filet mignon). The atmosphere was just right. We had 6:30 reservations and were able to watch the sun set. Very romantic. If the ship is sailing south you will be able to see the sunset because Portofinos is on Deck 11 starboard. There is live music and it is a nice romantic change of pace from the dining room.
After dinner we saw the “HOT ART - COOL ICE” show. As I said above, WOW!!!! Do not miss this show. It is amazing what they can do on that relatively tiny ice surface. They generate amazing speed in short time. There are 5 shows during the week and you must get tickets on Monday or Tuesday between 5:30 - 6:30. The tickets are free. Just go down to Studio B, there is ample information in the Cruise Compass, the daily newsletter to let you know what to do.
WEDNESDAY - Antigua
Probably the worst excursion we went on and I would not recommend it - the 4x4 Adventure. I’m more of a beach and boat person anyway so it could be personal preference. I did hear that the people that booked the Ecotour themselves has a good time. Maybe that would be a better bet if you want to go off road in Antigua. In the past we have always loved the beaches here and I think we’ll stick to that next time.
At night, the first guest entertainer. He was good and we enjoyed the show.
THURSDAY - St. Lucia
What a beautiful island! This was our first time in St. Lucia and were struck how different it seemed from many other Caribbean islands. Would definitely like to spend more time here. We took the catamaran tour to Mount Couberil Estates. A very good tour although it takes all day (we got back to the ship about 3:30). The tour takes you by catamaran to Soufriere and the you go by bus to the “drive in volcano” and a plantation before you get back on the catamaran for a stop at a beach. Be forewarned, the vendors at the volcano and especially on the beach (mainly rastfarians) are very aggressive. They were never rude but they are persistent. The volcano tour is informative and last about 20 minutes. At the plantations you learn about cocoa production and coconut production. This was informative but a little long. Ultimately I would say the tour to the Plantation was worthwhile but I don’t think you’d want to be there much longer.
Second production show of the week, “Can’t Stop the Rock”. Again an excellent show. One of the female singers is especially strong (she was very good in “Velvet Rope” as well). I’m sorry I do not remember her name, but she is well worth the time by herself.
FRIDAY - Barbados
We went on a scuba excursion - we are experienced certified divers. Didn’t experience much of the island because we were tired and went back to the ship right afterward for a nap. I can say that the folks on the Jolly Roger sure seemed to enjoy themselves!!! They cruised right past our balcony and were having a good time!
The second formal night. The second guest entertainer, a Canadian who did vocal (singing) impersonations. Probably the weakest show of the week. While he was occasionally right on he often was not. His answer to impersonating a woman seemed to be get as nasal as possible. Still, the show was entertaining but was definitely missable if you needed to miss one.
Later that night (12:30 a.m.) Was a comedian doing an adult show. Very funny and very good. He was not over the line for my sensibilities. You certainly wouldn’t want your children there but he was not filthy or gross. I thought it was just right for the audience.
The only midnight buffet of the week was at the same time as the comedy show so you have a decision to make. Personally, I had eaten so much during the week that I figured I could miss a meal and I’ve never been that much into food as spectacle.
SATURDAY - at sea
One of the few things I didn’t like about this cruise was the fact that there was only one sea day. We really like the sea days – they don’t seem as rushed and are very relaxing. But if you are only going to have one, I’m glad it was the last day. Time to rest and de-stress at the end of the vacation. The pool was very crowded but I was able to find a deck chair near the pool in the early afternoon. The service was awful though (see above).
SUNDAY - San Juan (boo hoo!)
Everyone, including U.S. Citizens, must now go through immigration. This process begins at 6:00 and you go by your stateroom location. The ship gives you a information sheet that tells you when to go. The line is VERY long but don’t panic, it only took us about 10 - 15 minutes to get through. This was the only LONG line of the week. I has heard that the line could be long to get off and on the ship in the various ports but did not experience this. The longest line we had was about 8-10 people and took 2 minutes. NOTE: there are usually 2 gangways, fore and aft, to get off and on the ship. (This is not true in St. Lucia, only one). When you approach the ship there is usually one, the farthest away, that has no line. If your cabin is that way anyway, why not walk to it on the pier, you got to walk that distance one way or the other.
We had no problem with debarkation but we had an early flight so we were first called off the ship at 8:30. We were at the San Juan airport by 9:00. Can speak for later departures but it seemed pretty organized with ample porters to help with luggage and taxi’s to take you where you wanted to go.
Well, that’s it. What a great time. We look forward to our next cruise and maybe we’ll be cruising with one of you. GREAT CRUISIN’!!!!!