Occupation:Senate of Maryland Chief of Staff
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: June 22nd, 2003
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
This Cruise leaves from San Juan, Puerto Rico and does an island every day except Saturday. We booked this cruise for our honeymoon (we were married on Sat. June 21 at the University of Maryland.)
We had an early morning flight on Sunday, and after reading about the ship, we were very happy to arrive in San Juan in time to be one of the first to board the Adventure. The ship at first and last glance is amazing. We had to wait at the terminal for almost an hour before we were able to board. The tickets say boarding begins at 2, but this being our 3rd cruise, we know that they always let people on earlier. We waited in the terminal until a little before 1 PM when RC began letting people board the ship. We used this time to review our excursion book and select the excursions we were interested in (more on excursions later). Sitting in the plastic lawn chairs in the terminal was ok, but be warned, once the cooler inside was full before the boarding began, many people were forced to wait outside in the heat standing in lines. A nice touch for those waiting inside was the complimentary lemonade and iced tea.
Boarding the ship was relatively smooth, and we bolted straight to our sixth floor aft room. The photographers can be a little pushy and annoying at times, especially in our excitement to see this ship. We walked right up to our room and opened the door to find a pleasantly spacious cabin with a nice balcony. This was spacious compared to our two previous cruises, one on RC and one with Norwegian. Our room had a couch, king sized bed, and a nice closet and bathroom. The TV was a good sized 25”, unlike the smaller TVs I had previously experienced when cruising. The programming was somewhat lame, but you’re certainly not there to watch the boob tube. Closet space was efficiently organized, enough for all of our clothes – I think we packed enough for four seasons. We were staying in San Juan for four nights after the cruise, and are too cheap to pay for the laundry service, so we packed like we were moving in.
After we checked in, we grabbed some lunch in the Windjammer and went exploring on the ship. It is such a large ship that it certainly takes some time to find everything. Our bags soon arrived at our room, and we unpacked and made the room homey. After taking a nap, it was almost dinner time. We skipped the initial meal in the dining room in order for some good, greasy, junk food from Johnny Rockets. I was badly craving some good American food after some swanky wedding and rehearsal dinner food. Johnny Rockets hit the spot, and is a really cool place to eat. We shared a milkshake, which costs extra but it was worth it. They bring fries and onion rings out immediately, and I got a juicy bacon cheeseburger, while Alicia had a big Nathan’s hotdog.
After dinner, it was time for the safety drill. This was much nicer on Adventure than previously. It was painless and quick, especially since we were indoors in the gorgeous dining room waiting seated, unlike previous outdoor experiences. A picture of the three tiered dining room is below:
We changed into our bathing suits and headed up for the sail away party. We said goodbye to San Juan from the Solarium Jacuzzi. The solarium is a very nice touch to the ship. It is for adults only, and has two Jacuzzis and a pool, with many padded lounge chairs surrounding it. The sail away party was not as crowded as usual, I guess it was the 10 PM time, but we enjoyed being able to swim in the pool and hot tub while listening to the band without the crowds. We changed and went to the late show which was pretty standard with a comedian, a couple dance numbers, and a circus like balancing act which was pretty amazing. Cruise director Omar was affable and charming, but we rarely saw him around the ship outside of the shows.
St. Thomas Day 2
We awoke to pull back the curtain to beautiful views of St. Thomas. Our plan for St. Thomas was to become our blueprint for how we would handle the islands. We had considered signing up for an excursion to Magen’s Bay Beach at a cost of $22 per person. Instead we decided we would take our chances with a taxi. The gamble paid off. It cost us $6 per person to get a taxi to Magen’s Bay beach and we were able to set our own schedule and stay as long as we wanted. Magen’s Bay was beautiful. The water was very clear and calm. Very nice views of the surrounding hills too. Find a picture of me there below (pre fried pale skin):
I highly recommend doing many of the tour spots on your own. Taxi drivers are generally knowledgeable and friendly and are able to steer you towards your interests. Excursions from RC are overpriced, you can always get a cheaper price on land, and somewhat restrictive in the times etc… We were driven back through town and had a nice conversation with the very chatty cab driver who was also very knowledgeable about the island.
Being the thrifty shoppers we are, we did not eat lunch until we were back on the ship. We got back to the ship around 3 PM which was perfect for lunch, because our dinner was the late seating 9 PM. The drawback is that the buffet around 3 PM was always the same, as we missed the variable fancier lunches. The early afternoon buffet always included hot dogs, chili, cold cuts, salads and fruit. The other lunch options were the café with pizza and sandwiches, Johnny Rockets, or room service.
Dinner in the dining room was great that evening. We were seated at a table of 4 with another honeymooning young couple who provided enjoyable company. We were eating on the third floor and had excellent views of the large chandelier. Live dinner music provided great atmosphere and our waiter, Mark Hudson was excellent and very attentive. One night as I was preparing to ask for another bowl of soup because it was so tasty, out came Mark with another bowl. I’m still pretty freaked out about how he knew I was going to ask for another one, since I had not asked for seconds on any food previously on the trip.
St. Martin’s Day 3
St. Martin looked similar to St. Thomas, and we followed our normal routine of breakfast, town, taxi, beach. We both enjoy spending time on the beaches, and we found that talking to the townspeople would yield helpful information about what were the best beaches. For a $20 cab ride, we first went to a smaller beach on the Dutch side. Our cab driver convinced us that Orient Beach was where it was at, without too much nudity, so we decided to go there. Our driver arranged a time to pick us up, and showed us the beach. The beach is great, very big and long with gorgeous blue water. It is clothing optional, but I would say that only 10% of women went topless. There is an all nude section that we did not wander down to. We rented nice beach chairs with an umbrella $15 and enjoyed our day on the beach. It was a little windy, but the water was great. This beach also had the option of any water sport you could want.
The one thing that I regret is not seeing the French capital which I heard was very nice. Phillipsburg was nice, but fairly standard for a Caribbean town.
St. John Antigua Day 4
Antigua was probably the poorest island that we visited this trip. They only get a cruise ship in the summer every other week. We ate breakfast then followed our standard procedure of getting a taxi to a beach. Antigua has 365 beaches as the driver informed us. He drove us to Dickenson Bay Beach on the Caribbean, which is also the site of a Sandals Resort. One nice but quasi-socialist, part of the Caribbean islands is that all of the beaches are public, meaning we could swim with the Sandals resort elite. This beach was classic Caribbean, white sand, blue, calm water etc. The cab fare was $10 and renting the chairs was another $10. This public beach also had many waterspout amenities including snorkeling. A picture is below:
On the way back, we asked the cab driver to let us off at the St. John’s Cathedral. He instructed us on how to walk back to the pier which was a nice walk through town. This island seemed less touristy than others, probably because of the lack of consistent cruise ships. St. John’s Cathedral is an old, prominent site in the town with great views, but it has fallen into disrepair. They do not have the money to keep it up, and windows are broken, gravestones crushed, no landscaping etc… I’m glad we saw it anyway, and a picture of it is below.
St. Lucia Day 5
I had booked an excursion for this island, the full day beach snorkel for $98 per person. We had decided to do only one excursion for the trip, and wanted to do it in Barbados. However, when I tried to cancel this excursion, I was informed that you must provide them with 24 hour cancellation notice for a refund. I was very disappointed with their failure to work with me on this aspect, considering this policy is not widely advertised or known. I still fail to see why I cannot get a refund for something that I have not yet taken advantage of. It was an unpleasant experience. First I had to wait in the long line at the excursion desk to find this out, then discussing it with the manager who promised to try to resell my tickets to someone else. He virtually guaranteed the tickets would be resold, but then never contacted me again as promised. In the end, they were unable to resell them, and rather than continue to fight with them on our honeymoon, I gave in and paid the $200 bucks for the excursion.
The excursion was great, as St. Lucia is a fabulous island. Probably the best island of all the ones we saw. They have two very large mountains, The Pitons and very dense foliage and rainforest. Snorkeling at the Anse Chastanet was pretty nice. I was impressed with this resort. It is nestled high above a beach, in harmony with the trees and we were able to explore around the hotel. It’s kind of a Swiss Family Robinson hotel.
Barbados Day 6
We were kind of slacked on this day, awoke late and got a late start. Barbados is pretty close to the equator, so the sun is very intense. The thermometer actually is just as high in Maryland, but the direct rays of sunlight burn you much quicker at 13 degrees latitude. I had been wearing SPG 30 and still burning a bit. We took a short carbide to a very close beach in Barbados, it cost $3 per person. Malibu beach is apparently where the Malibu rum factory was. The beach was pretty standard, but probably the least impressive of all the ones we had visited. It was kind of crowded with so many people from our ship coming there, the ship was in view from the beach. We were both kind of looking forward to the Day at Sea to do more on the ship.
At Sea Day 7
This was a fun day. There is so much to do on the ship, that I almost wish we had another day at sea. The ship is traveling very slowly since there is so much time to travel back to San Juan. We sat out on the top deck overlooking the ocean. Didn’t have much of a problem finding a lounge chair, there were plenty. Pools were very crowded, and it was too hot to do the Jacuzzi during the day. We did the peek-a-boo bridge where you can see the staff steering the ship. We did the very front of the ship, the “King of the World” spot. We did some shopping, played some mini-golf and unfortunately hit the casino. Let’s just say the blackjack tables were not kind at all to us during the cruise. The farewell show was excellent mainly because the comedian was terrific.
San Juan Disembarking
Disembarking on Royal Caribbean can be kind of annoying, waiting to be allowed to leave the ship. Norwegian allows you to wait in your cabin, while RC makes you wait in a lounge. My advice, take advantage of the full serve breakfast in the dining room on this day, because it is your last chance to be pampered.
This was a great cruise and a fabulous honeymoon. The ship was so nice that I didn’t want to leave, but they wouldn’t let me stay. It was so nice, that I could do the same exact cruise again and not feel bad. We had a balcony room, and I don’t think that I would spring for that again. It was nice to have, but there was no opportunity for us to really use it since there was so much to do on the ship. I would have been just as happy with a window view as in the past. The promenade was so nice, you don’t even feel like you’re on a ship. The ship sometimes felt full, but rarely felt crowded. We were always able to find seating and tables at various places around the ship. The ship feels very open and there are lots of fun and hidden things on the ship to do. We enjoyed dancing at Jester’s Nightclub which is elaborately decorated. The library was neat, but a little light on the actual books. The pool area is beyond compare, and there are a number of detailed little bars to hang out in. We never got to see the ice show, but I don’t consider myself and ice capades person anyway. I wouldn’t miss the rocking through the decades party at Studio B. It was pretty wild and a very good time for all ages. If you are bored on this ship, or don’t have a good time then cruising probably isn’t for you.