Thomas R. Close
Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: July 3rd, 2005
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
We decided to stay overnight in San Juan a day prior to departure, which I would strongly suggest to anyone departing from this port. Old San Juan has quite a few tourist amenities, and it’s comforting to know that both you and your luggage have arrived safely, and in plenty of time for your cruise departure the next day.
Adventure arrived in San Juan port early Sunday morning from its previous week’s itinerary, and since check out in our hotel was at noon, we decided to take a cab from the hotel to the ship and take our chances for an early embarkation. We were fortunate…we stood in line for only 15 minutes or so, and then the line started moving as they opened up the ship for early embarkation at approximately 12:30PM. We were impressed with the efficiency of the staff during the check-in procedure…after taking a quick tour through the ship, we were enjoying an early lunch in the Windjammer prior to 1:00PM. Since our stateroom corridors were still off limits until mid-afternoon, we continued to tour this immense ship after lunch to familiarize ourselves with the deck layouts and take in all of her beautiful, functional furnishings. Our cabin was available by 2:30, but our luggage did not arrive until close to 5:00PM. First-seating dinner was delayed until 6:30PM the first evening, probably as a planned precaution for late arrivals.
The mandatory mustering drill was scheduled between dinner seating, and then Adventure set sail for St. Thomas promptly at 10:00PM.
My wife and daughter had booked a parasailing excursion at St. Thomas (through Sky Pirates), and enjoyed it immensely even in the stiff wind. We spent the afternoon snorkeling at Coki Beach (calm water, great visibility) with numerous fish in the area, due to it’s proximity to the Coral World Aquarium attraction. It began to rain, so we took a cab back to the port and shopped for awhile before boarding the ship for its 5:30PM departure for St. Maarten.
We felt the effects of the wind in St. Maarten, which was probably due to the outer bands of Hurricane Dennis located a few hundred miles to the south. The weather that day was overcast and windy, and we were glad that we did not plan any shore excursions for that day. We slept in, and then took the water taxi into the Philipsburg shopping district to spend a few hours shopping prior to returning to the ship for the 5:30PM departure to Antigua. We discovered quite a few shopping bargains in St. Maarten if you take the time to compare prices, especially for jewelry.
The weather in Antigua was much the same as St. Maarten for most of the morning, and then it began to improve throughout the afternoon. We booked the Kayak & Snorkel Eco Adventure as a family excursion, and would highly recommend this event to others. The ½-hour cab ride from the ship to the excursion location will take you through local villages and points of interest, and provide tourists with images of island life seldom seen from luxury hotels and cruise ship piers. Our tour operators were great…we witnessed sea-bird nesting sanctuaries on Bird Island, hiked up a small island hillside, spent time snorkeling off a deserted island, and kayaked through the mangrove thickets.
After returning to their base camp, we were welcomed with a refreshing aroma-therapy towel to wash the salt off of our faces, and a unique nutmeg-induced rum punch. We then returned to the ship’s dock for some quick shopping (beware…very insistent sales people) prior to the 5:30PM departure for St. Lucia.
The weather in St. Lucia was the week’s best. The harbor in Castries has the nearby shopping complex of Pointe Seraphine, which is very modern and clean. Since the weather was beautiful, we decided to spend a few hours at a beach, so we took a cab to Reduit Beach. I would highly recommend this white sand beach…clean, quiet, with lush surroundings, and calm, pristine waters. The kids rented a jet ski, and local vendors have all forms of water sports equipment available to rent. There was no charge to use this beach, and cab fare was only $4 per person, each way. We returned to shop at Pointe Seraphine for a while prior to departing for Barbados at 5:30PM.
Barbados was enjoyable, because I accompanied my son on his first scuba dive while the women did some sight-seeing and shopped. We took the introductory course for non-certified divers, and received excellent instruction and supervision by our guides. We dived over wrecks and reefs in Folkstone Marine Park, and the fish and marine life we observed was spectacular. Back to the ship for 5:30 departure, for our return day at sea to San Juan.
This itinerary was busy, but not overwhelming. We saw many new islands, each with their own distinct culture and appearance. I would suggest booking a few shore excursions that are of interest, but not every day. Our plans were flexible enough to enable us to get off the ship each day, but we could have easily stayed onboard for one or two days had we chosen to do so. The ship arrived in port each day at 7:30AM, so debarkation by 8:00AM was possible at every port.
Now, let me summarize our shipboard experience…Adventure of the Seas was truly an impressive vessel. We have been onboard RCCL’s Empress and Enchantment on previous cruises, but nothing can compare with the immensity of the Voyager-class ships. The vessel appeared to be well maintained, well designed, and very efficient utilization of space to accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers and crew. Our ocean view stateroom was slightly larger than what we remembered from previous cruises, but still crowded for four people. Next time, we’ll consider booking two staterooms as our children are no longer kids anymore.
The ship’s crew was outstanding…very friendly, efficient, and they all went out of their way to service the passengers. The food was above average and plentiful in both the dining room, and especially in the Windjammer and Island Grill. As compared with previous cruises, we noticed a larger selection of entrees in the Windjammer, and a slightly limited selection in the dining room. I would even say the quality of the food followed a similar comparison. Our dining room wait staff was very efficient and attentive, and we got to know each of them personally as the week progressed. Unfortunately, the service of our cabin steward had a few shortcomings, but this might have been due to something as simple as his lack of experience, didn’t feel well, etc. He did a good job, but not a great job.
The ship offered numerous activities such as the arcade, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, miniature golf, in-line skating, etc., that our kids took full advantage of. The pools and deck areas were spacious, and much to my amazement, were not overly-crowded, even on our day at sea. I firmly believe that since there are so many available activities, lounges, promenades, etc., people disperse themselves throughout the ship’s numerous locations well enough so as not to congregate in any specific areas. As I stated before, I was apprehensive of cruising with so many passengers, but I quickly overcame this concern. The evening entertainment (mostly comedians, RCCL singers and dancers) was good, with the Ice Show being the most memorable…don’t miss it.
In summary, this cruise and ship met all of our expectations, and then some. I have no major complaints, and hopefully have offered several compliments. I would highly recommend this vessel and this itinerary to anyone who is in search of good value and a rewarding cruise experience. I trust that this review will be beneficial for anyone considering (or already booked) on this ship or itinerary…similar reviews were helpful for me when planning our trip. Feel free to contact me by email for any specific details.