Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: January 22nd, 2006
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
First some observations about Royal Caribbean, then the destinations.
While Royal Caribbean does a lot of things well after a while you get the feeling they have their hand in your pocket the entire trip, for example
$45.00 usd pop package (yes that's for pop), so you
can drink as much pop as you want so long as you lug around a travel mug. If
this sounds like a rip off, it is
They have a wine package at several levels from about 150.00 USD to $250.00, which gives you your choice of 5 to 10 bottles from a selected list. First thing to learn is that all bottles are not necessarily available despite being on the display. The Pino Grigio I wanted wasn't available so ended up with a lousy Chardonnay and the rest of the selection on the white side isn't that great. In VERY SMALL print is a mentioned that they will allow wine to be brought on board and used in the dining rooms for a $12.00 usd corkage fee. This is a better deal. Load up on decent wines ( French Martin has a great selection at a good price - try the store Gout de Vin ) and bring it on board.
The line confiscates all liquor brought on the ship and will hand it over as you leave ( this way they get you to pay $ 6.50 usd for a scotch ).
However INSIDE the loading terminal in San Juan is a duty free shop which has not bad prices for the hard stuff. So leave some room in your carry on luggage and pack it in there as they don't check the immediate luggage loading. In fact the guys at the duity free will tell you this as well.
We went to the BINGO as it was raining but at $ 35.00 USD TO PLAY BINGO we decided to skip it. Now it was tempting as the prize was $ 1,500.00 but what they didn't say at the start is that you have to get the BINGO in less than 45 numbers or you only get about $ 150.00.
As far as information sessions about the islands etc prior to arrival - NOTHING.
Only the seemingly never ending spiel from "
Shopoing Shelby" who is flogging a $ 20.00 passport which gets you coupons
similar to the ones you can get at the tourist information booth on arrival at
each island for free. If you ever wanted to know what happens to the Home
Shopping Channel staff once they grow too aggressive for TV now you know.
In a nutshell that is the problem with the cruise - it was a never ending pitch to get your cash. Even a " horse race " next to pool cost $ 5.00 to bet !
Celebrity and Princess pay far more attention to its clients requirements for information. A simple example is that the Adventure of the Seas has a wonderful Art selection but do you think they would organize a tour - no chance even though we had 2 days at sea.
Aruba - skip the tour and hire a cab as you can see the whole place in 45 minutes (which we did ). By the way the natural bridge fell down last year.
Curacao - ignore the huge polluting oil refinery and it's a wonderful place. Like giving Amsterdam a coat of bright paint and a lot better weather. There is a fish market and a delightful hotel called Kula Hulanga ( I'll tell you how to locate this stuff at the end.)
St Martin - the best of the islands the French side is a delight and the best place for shopping - it is 30% cheaper than St Thomas. Wonderful stylish women's clothing I was told ( and the Visa bares this out ).
St Thomas a disappointment as far to many hucksters (70% off jewelry , are they kidding ) Do your shopping in St Martin and take an island outing to St John.
Finally when booking a cruise check to see how many ships will be in each port the same day as yours and whether there are any holidays.
The day prior to our arrival in St Thomas 5 cruise chips landed about 12,000 touristas into an area 1 mile wide and three blocks deep. Absolute Chaos. While the day after we arrived in Aruba it was the National Day and EVERYTHING was going to be closed.
For a great guide book locate Caribbean Ports of Call it is a wonderful guide. It told us about the Hulanga Hotel, which is actually several blocks of Curacao that has been turned into a hotel, restaurant, museum complex. It is simply an amazing atmosphere and lunch (although expensive) is an experience.
I wish you well and a Great Holiday. By the way we saw the Windstar ships in St Thomas and they looked amazing.