Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
First let me tell you how many people on our cruise had read all the cruise reviews on this site! I printed them out so I wouldn't forget. Okay, well, this is my first Royal Caribbean cruise line cruise, the others had been Carnival. WOW! I can't ever go back to Carnival after this! 99.9% better on almost everything than carnival. The staff was GREAT, the food was great, the decor was really tasteful, not the cheap cheesy sort of decor on the other ships. We didn't even have that "boat moving" feeling after we got off, because there was hardly any ship movement. This was especially amazing because our cruise was the week prior to Hurricane Katrina, so the captain seemed to navigate us back and forth out of the cloud cover for optimum sun on the deck.
The previous cruise people didn't debark on time so we arrived at 2pm and had to wait in almost entirely direct sunlight for 1 1/2 hours to get on. Our first photo looks like we are wet rats! The bed was more comfortable and I took advice of other cruisereviewer and got the down feather extra pillows for the room. There are no samples of toiletries or robes, so be sure to bring your own. The "shampoo plus" in the shower looked weird, and no body wash. The towels for the room were qty 2, at 2 ft X 3 ft. Not great for 2 people with hair, had to get a couple extras. The water pressure was more of a fast drip, which made showers a little annoying and there is no such thing as a cool shower, you can only take a "pretty warm" to "very warm" shower. There were only a couple things that Carnival did better; the beach towels on RCCL were sort of beige, 3X4 foot Motel 6 type towels. Really hard to use as a beach towel or out by the pool.
Also the fire drill is not optional, they were marking doors of rooms of people who tried not to go. At 8:30 pm after a long day of travel they did the fire drill, first day, 1/2 the boat had been asleep! Carnival waits a day. The first and third nights there are HUGE parties on the top level starting at night going till like 2AM with a food buffet and super fun, bring your video camera. GREAT activities and laughter at these.
The dinners were excellent, even the "top sirloin" substitute is GREAT, there was not one thing we didn't like. Prime Rib especially good, A+++. The breakfasts at the buffet restaurant "windjammer" were pretty good, scrambled eggs a little odd, but in general, great, and again, GREAT service. I do wish we'd have done the dining room breakfast more than one morning, when we did that was MUCH better. The lunches in the same room were pretty good with daily theme changes. The part we didn't know right away is that if you pass the regular buffet and go to the back, that's where the hot dogs, pizza and burgers and more variety is located.
The burgers were mediocre. They were sort of cold and no hot cheese, just slices available. We did the onboard "Johnny Rockets" the last day and the burgers were the best I ever tasted, they give you fries and Onion Rings and dip and only charge you for shakes/malts and special drinks.
The coolest thing we loved was the adult pool. They have REALLY comfy padded chairs and it's a genuine ADULT pool, they actually monitor it unlike Carnival. The pool was a good temperature too. The jacuzzis were huge and semi private too, not like the fish bowls on carnival. We did Curacao the first day, the "Fun Bus" excursion wasn't exactly as represented, there is no swimming, it's all lava rock and coral and they will happily sell you snorkel gear for an additional fee. Not many people were happy about it. Small beach, rocky corral beach, hard to walk.
Apparently this stop is sort of "in progress" as far as being a true resort stop, but maybe we didn't do the right excursion.
Next stop Aruba, took a $1 cab to the Hyatt and swam there. Did find out you can rent rafts, chairs etc, but the ones there are numbered and reserved for others. We went back to the little town and shopped and had food and drinks at Iguana Joe's and looked over the traffic and shoppers. VERY friendly people there. After dinner on the ship we went back out to Carlos and Charlies which was nearby and really fun.
Next day at Sea and then St. Marteen.
Our fun rum boat tour was cancelled last minute and we couldn't get on another one in short notice. We found the little town and went shopping, bought a pretty ring and shirts. They will barter and deal, so walk away when you need to...
We found Mango something restaurant on Orient Beach for lunch and then walked down a few more stores to La Playa restaurant to the Coldest "Carib" beer (sort of like Corona) and more people watching. We were a tad sunburned from the day before so we couldn't swim in the gorgeous beaches there.
Also, note BRING ALOE, pure, clear aloe, not the green stuff. It kept us from peeling and not hurting and healing fast.
Okay, so on to St. Thomas. Our friends did the excursion to Trunk bay in St. John through RCCL for $50 each. We thought we'd do it ourselves to save money. The cab there was $20 for both of us, but we got to REALLY see the pretty roads and pretty vegetation. THEN you pay $6 each round trip for the water ferry. So far 1 1/2 hours since we left the ship. THEN you get there and need to take another cab to trunk bay, $5 each. GORGEOUS. This is truly the prettiest beach in the world. It is like a postcard. Then of course it was $7 each for a chair and $5 each for snorkel equipment. (snorkel equipment was included in RCCL excursion). The snorkeling was amazing, fish that were in the millions, little minnow type things and just incredibly colorful tropical fish. The water is like it is in the Caymans, clear, buoyant, soft white sand. They had a fun little hut for cold Heineken beer too. Great facilities for showering and changing too. Okay, so back to taxi which somehow went to $11 from $10, and back to the town to shop. Took the water taxi back and discovered that the taxis' that were available to go back towards the ship are now $2 per person, but it's like a bus with stops, you need to know where you are going or get help. We took it "downtown" and shopped some more. Found a fun bar called "Bobby's Place" and had more cold beer and Crippling wonderful Mai Tai's. Taxi back to ship $8 more. So, all in all, to do it ourselves was $75, but we saw more sights and had more freedom to stay as long as we wanted or wander off and shop. Downside, you REALLY get a little nervous being so far from the ship and doing the "trains planes and automobiles" thing.
We would love to go back just to St. John, it was gorgeous and more friendly people.
The debarking was a big mess, took another 1 1/2 hours to get off, with lines in the heat, even after our number was called.
We traditionally are wine drinkers with dinner etc, and felt that their "wine" package deal and variety was pretty bad and obscenely overpriced. Kendall Jackson $42 per bottle, ($7.99 at Costco), Stone Cellers $23 per bottle, ($9.99 for two bottles at market).
No nail polish remover permitted or sold on ship. (flamable) Photos were $20 each, not $10 or $12 like on Carnival. No Laundry on board or ironing boards, and their service is obscenely overpriced. ($30 for like 5 pieces for us, $1.20 per pair of undies).
Remember cell chargers, cell phones work in US ports, (San Juan, St. Marteen, St. Thomas, St John)
The internet room has lots of computers but only 1/2 of them worked and they were INCREDIBLY slow.
Bring hats and water cameras. The ice shows were only Tuesday and Friday, and we were sad we missed them both. The other shows are only one per night, and they change, so don't miss one night.
We had noisy kids in the next room (unaccompanied teenagers) and RCCL quickly handled it with their parents and upgraded us to a different room.
Room Service eggs were pretty nasty, brown and cold, stick with the restaurants. And this ship was unique in that you actually met and chatted regularly with the maitre d', he seemed to genuinely care and remember your names. The whole thing, the overall trip, I can't speak highly enough, just super people. We did not see any of the "local" cheap tickets people referenced in previous posting. The ship did seem to have guests from all over, France, Germany, all parts of the US, (but mostly New Yorkers) and many people from countries we didn't know, sort of Jamaica or Haiti. EVERYONE was friendly and pleasant. The kids seem to have a great place to play, but for us without kids on the cruise, they were not running troops of little indians chanting through the adult pool as they did on Carnival. VERY nice.