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Lorna Anstruther

Age: n/a

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 11

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 20th, 2002

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

The embarkation procedures were horrendous. We stood for nearly two hours in the hot afternoon sun before we were herded into the terminal to sit and await our turn at the check in-counter. Once aboard the ship, we were left on our own to locate our cabin.

Our cabin was located at the bow of the ship, so the room was an odd shape. The big porthole was great. It was beautifully appointed in corals and turquoise, with lots of drawers, shelves and cupboard space. The shower was small and if you dropped the soap, you were lucky if you didn't bump your head when you bent to pick it up. It's definitely not made for tall people! There was a stocked mini-fridge in the room. I guess I don't like paying $1.75 for a fifty cent can of Diet Coke! Bottled water was also available in the fridge at an inflated price. A pitcher of water was unattainable.

Our cabin steward took great care of us during our stay. We would arrive back in our cabin at night to find a rabbit or elephant made of towels on our beds, a chocolate and the next days events.

The ship is beautiful. The public rooms are tasteful. The Promenade is wonderful and there are lots of activities...parades, kids shows and the Kruise Komics who perform 'street entertainment'.

Upon booking, we had requested late seating. We were traveling with eight other people and had requested to sit with them. On our documents, it was stated that we had late seating. Low and behold, six of us were assigned to the early sitting and the other two couples had late seating but were seated separately. All efforts to correct the problem were brushed aside. They would see what they could do...no promises. The fact we were celebrating a ninetieth birthday didn't seem to phase them. Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant start to our vacation.

The only way they could correct the problem was to form a table for 7 and add 3 seats to a table for 10. That proved a problem to the 10 people who were celebrating a family reunion and didn't want outsiders at their table. The head waiter told them that they were there to make sure everyone had a good vacation and that the three people from our party would be sitting at their table. It made for a very uncomfortable situation.

The waiter was incapable of getting our orders right and often made inappropriate comments. The assistant waiter was efficient. The food was occasionally great and at other times, boring and tasteless. This had never been a problem on Celebrity ships.

The lunch and dinner menu in the Windjammer and Oasis Grills were repetitive and uninteresting. There was no cream for the coffee. The omelets at breakfast were great, as they were cooked to order.

Johnny Rockets, the 50's diner was a great place for a hamburger, fries, rings and a shake. Lots of white tile and chrome and red leatherette seats completed the effect. The staff were having a good time and a nickel bought one play on the juke box...all golden oldies. It was a popular place at meal times, so go when you're in port if you don't want to wait.

We selected all morning shore excursions, so we could shop in the afternoon. We were tied to the pier in all ports, so if you have a problem with tenders, you don't have to worry.

We visited Aruba and took the Town and Country tour. It was interesting. We visited the Natural Bridge and rock formations. There is only a limited amount of time at each location so you have to hurry. Mind you, this is a problem on all tours.

In Curacao, we took the Highlight tour that included a stop at the Curacao distillery (too many people and too little time!), a manor house and the seaquarium. We got to see them feed nurse sharks. There's a touch tank so you can handle sea urchins, star fish and sea cucumbers. There are also flamingos and outdoor tanks for sharks, sea turtles and a sea lion.

In St. Maarten we did the America's Cup Regatta Race. It was the best shore excursion I had ever taken so I did it again this year. You get to crew real 12 metre America's Cup boats under the direct supervision on the captain and the 'real' crew. You can participate as fully as you wish. The day we were there, the waves were 8-10 feet, a good wind, lots of sunshine and great racing. They even manage to take a photo of the boat and crew, while you're learning the ropes. It makes a great souvenir of the day! Pop, water and beer are supplied. There was even time for a short sail along the coast with the participants taking the helm.

In St. Thomas, we took the Island Sightseeing tour. We stopped at Mountaintop, the highest point on the island. We had one of their famous banana daiquiris. We also stopped at St. Peter's Great House, a fabulous place.

All the ports have the usual souvenir t-shirt places and St. Maarten and St. Thomas are crammed with jewelry stores to suit every taste and budget.

We had great margaritas at Carlos 'n Charlies in Aruba. It's a great place it you like it noisy and fun. In St. Thomas we had lunch at the Calypso Cafe in the A.H. Riise block. The food was delicious and the locals eat there!

The ship had an ice skating rink. You had to get tickets in advance (no charge) for the skating shows. The show we saw was good. The seas were rough so there were a few falls. You could borrow skates and skate. The skates are molded plastic and my friend was not impressed with them, neither were the professional skaters who hand out the skates. The blades were dull. Figure and hockey skates are available. The ice was soft. If you really want to skate, bring your own. There were a lot of people skating for the first time but there are times for more experience skaters. You must have your own skates to participate in that.

The stage shows were typical of cruise ships.. overblown production numbers with some things unsuitable to the many children in the audience. There was nothing spectacular about them.

Our group had a mini-putt tournament on the Adventure Dunes course. It's a nine-hole course and has simulated sand traps. It's a challenge when the ship is at sea and the wind is brisk. There is a basketball court that converts to volleyball and many people took advantage of the rock climbing wall.

It seems that RCCL spend millions on building a fabulous ship and then blew their chance to extend that to the cruise experience. It was little things that added up to make the cruise forgettable...the horrendous embarkation procedures, the dining room screw ups, the uninspired food, the lack of crew interaction with the passengers, children running around the ship unattended by their parents, no cream for the coffee, no water available in the rooms, no team trivia (a favorite of our group), poorly made drinks, over-priced photos, and the list goes on.

On the plus side, the ship is beautiful, Adventure Dunes, rock climbing, the skating show, the Kruise Komics.

We heard comments from other passengers that matched our own. And more than one person is seriously considering writing the CEO of RCCL, myself included.

Would I recommend the Adventure of the Seas to anyone. Probably not. If the trend towards mega-ships continues, the cruise lines had better learn to handle large crowds better than they do now. They need to realize that the little things can make our break your cruise experience. Next year, we will not be on a Royal Caribbean ship and it will definitely not be on a mega-ship!

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