Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Adventure of the Seas
Sailing Date: May 7th, 2006
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
This was our second cruise and our first
on RCLL. My wife and I sailed the Southern Caribbean on Adventure of the Seas to
celebrate our one year anniversary.
Let me begin this review by saying we spent many weeks reading reviews of the ship and ports and tried to gather as much information as possible to squeeze out the most of our 7 days at sea. There were a lot of helpful entries that we used to make our cruise a very fulfilling experience. I had read a few negative reviews as well, and I have to say this...what you get from a vacation is what you give. If you go in with a positive attitude and look for fun...you will get just that.
We live in Southern California and our itinerary was to fly to San Juan on Saturday, spend the night there and embark on Sunday afternoon. Our flight left our local airport at 6:10 am. We arrived there around 5:45 am and were told that it was too late to board the flight. After an unsuccessful plea to sneak us on board, we ended up renting a car and driving to Los Angeles International to catch a flight out of there. It ended up being an advantage for we arrived in San Juan 30 minutes earlier. My wife and I really liked Puerto Rico. It was our first time together outside the U.S. so that may have contributed to our 'awe'. San Juan has a 'rainforest' climate and we soaked it all in. We stayed at the Hyatt Dorado which was gorgeous!! Unfortunately they are shutting the hotel down in late May which is sad. During our short stay we appreciated the weather, clear ocean, lizards and local foliage. We had rented a car and the next morning we packed up and headed toward the pier (which was about a 30 minute drive from our hotel). The freeway system in Puerto Rico is very confusing. We got lost a couple of times (because I wouldn't ask for directions...its a guy thing) but we finally ended up at the pier! After dropping off our car, we took a taxi to the ship.
Embarking was a breeze. We were in a suite so we had priority in our boarding which we took full advantage of. From stepping out of the taxi until stepping onto the ship took about 20 minutes max.
The first sight of this awesome vessel was amazing! Absolutely monstrous! We arrived just after 2:00 pm so we went straight for our suite. The suite was nicer than expected. It was nicely designed and all of the room we would need. We had a private balcony and I read a few opinions regarding balconies. We absolutely loved our balcony and used it each day for breathing the ocean air during our 'at sea' times to having a room service meal to smoking my Cuban cigar. I will have a balcony on every cruise I will ever take again. Our bags weren't going to arrive till around 6:00 pm or so, so we headed to the Windjammer Cafe. Its a buffet style restaurant and we snatched up a couple of plates and began filling them with food like little kids in a candy store. We picked a seat by a window and sat there with big smiles on our faces eating chicken and roast beef and potatoes and whatever else we could grab. We looked at each other with that expression that said "We made it...we're finally here." After lunch we ordered our first alcoholic beverages (Yellow Bird for Janette and some fruity rum drink for me) and then played our only round of miniature golf (just to say we did it). We were exhausted but still explored some of the ship before we fell asleep around 8:00 pm.
Day 2 - At Sea. We woke up refreshed with a spring in our step. Janette and I are very young at heart and are very active for a couple of 40 year olds! We couldn't wait to get our vacation into full gear! Breakfast at the Windjammer was the start of our day. We had spent the previous 12 weeks on a pretty strict diet and workout program that we stuck to with great discipline. But our reward was eating whatever we wanted on the cruise. We took full advantage of that. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, toast with jelly, coffee, OJ...you name it, we probably consumed it. (Just an early reference, we both only gained 4 pounds on the cruise...chalk it up to metabolism I guess) An hour after breakfast we went to the fitness center (which was very nice) and had our only workout of the cruise. We spent the afternoon out at the pool drinking the "Drink of the Day" (they will have a different one each day on the cruise..that day it was Razzonade). We swam and listened to a Caribbean band and soaked in the sun. We were just basking in our vacation. The smells of rum and tanning lotion filled the air. In the afternoon we toured the ship some more and wanted to experience a piece of every room. We played cards in the Seven Hearts Room...had a drink in the Blue Moon Lounge...etc. We stopped into the casino and decided to play some blackjack. About 30 minutes of playing we noticed we were up $55 bucks and decided to quit and use the money shopping in one of the ports. Dinner in the main dining room that evening was formal night. I didn't want to haul a suit jacket so I had no formal wear. Our seating was at 6:00 and it was around 4:00 pm. I was now becoming obsessive about wanting to attend the formal dinner so I called the on-board tailor and asked if it was too late to rent a tux. He said "I'll be right up to measure you" and was in our suite about 15 minutes later with a tape measure. After reluctantly having my inseams measured by this guy, he took my measurements and had a tux delivered by 5:00 pm. This was the beginning of the awesome service we would experience on our trip. We donned our outfits and headed to the main dining room. The main dining area is comprised of 3 floors (decks 3,4 and 5) We were on deck 3. It was a elegant room and beautifully designed. Our waiter's name was Sayit. The waiters were very attentive to our needs...remembered all of our names and were great. The food was great! I've read reviews good and bad about the food, but come on now...the chef is cooking for over 3200 people and did a damn good job. We each had double strawberry cheesecake for dessert...mmmmm. After dinner we headed to the Promenade. It is like Main St. in Disneyland. Shops lining down the deck with a few pubs and a cafe tucked in. I stopped at a shop for a high end cigar. We headed to the Connoisseurs Club for me to smoke it. The Connoisseurs Club is a smoking lounge complete with leather couches, dark lighting and mahogany finish. My wife and I just looked at each other with love in our eyes as I puffed away. It was one of my highlight moments of the cruise. We then returned to our suite to watch the ocean...a little TV...and we were out like babies.
Day 3 - Aruba. Aruba ended up being our favorite port of call. For a few reasons. The first being this was the first island we have ever been on plus the hype of being in Aruba. After breakfast we exited the ship and stepped onto shore. We rented a taxi from I believe is the only female taxi driver on the island and asked her to show us the highlights of the island for $40 an hour. The rate seemed high but we didn't barter it down. She took us to see the high end hotels, the natural bridge, the ostrich farm and the ocean. We had an ATV excursion at 1:30 so we had to get back. It was around 1:00 when we returned so we didn't really have time to eat before a bus took us to our excursion. My wife rolled her eyes when she heard 2 months ago that I booked 'ATV Mania'. She was being a trooper though and we arrived at our excursion. There was only one other couple that was there and our tour guide (Luis) showed up. He gave us a quick run down on how they operated, donned us with helmets and told us to drive around this field for 10 minutes for practice. These things had some kick! They topped out at 45 mph and really stuck to the road. After practice he told us that it was time to go. I have to be honest, when I booked this excursion I had no idea where we would go on these things, I thought we might just ride around on the sand for a couple hours....boy was I wrong. We started out and headed down a main street. Yes, a main street with cars and busses! We rode in a single file line with assigned numbers. (I was #5, the last in the pack) Luis took us to see the goldmines....the natural bridge...the highest point in Aruba and the rock formations. Taking dirt roads and main streets, we literally rode tip to tip and end to end on Aruba! It is only 19 miles wide and 6 miles up and down but we saw the whole thing! What an experience. It was the absolute highlight of the trip for my wife Janette! She said "I never had so much fun in my life". There are many excursions to do in Aruba, but I highly recommend this one if you want to see the whole island going 45 mph and having a blast.
After ATV Mania, we took a taxi to Arashi
Beach to watch the sunset. They say the sunset in Aruba is the prettiest on
earth. I think they were right. When the sun was setting, all of the warm colors
of the rainbow blended together to set the stage for this awe inspiring sight. I
took about 6 pictures at various stages of the setting sun. Absolutely gorgeous.
After soaking in the ocean, we took a taxi back to the ship. We had a late
dinner at the Windjammer and headed to bed.... not buying one thing in Aruba.
Day 4 - Curacao. Breakfast at the Windjammer filled us with French Toast, grits and the rest. A couple of cups of java and we were on our way. We had no excursions in Curacao which allowed us more freedom to see the island. We started by taking a taxi to the Hato Caves. It was a unique tour of the limestone caves complete with stalagmites and stalactites, beautiful rock formations and fruit bats! After that we took the taxi to Kon Tiki Beach to spend a few hours. The beach was a popular party beach which included a rainforest themed outdoor restaurant, full bar, volleyball net, and water sports rentals. We had the special of the day "bacon cheeseburgers" which helped us feel at home again. There were these large lizards that befriended Janette and she appeased them by feeding them her lettuce. A couple of rum smoothies later and we found ourselves basking in the clear lagoon cooling off. Afterwards we found a couple of lounge chairs under the shade of a palm tree and relaxed for awhile. It was around 3:30 and the ship left at 5:00, so we scurried back. On the dock, there was a vendor giving out free rum tastings. We tasted the orange and pistachio and much to my amazement, bought a bottle of the pistachio for $10. Around 5:00 pm when the ship was departing, there is a place where you can watch the crew on the bridge called the "Peek-a-Boo bridge". The captain was in there and off we went. He stayed on the bridge for about 15 minutes and got up to leave, waving his hand to the appreciative crown applauding through the glass. Tough job he has. Back on the ship we played in the casino and won another $140! Dinner that night was the great! It was semi-casual and for the first time, all of the 4 groups were there together. We had lobster bisque and filet finished off by cheesecake and a chocolate brownie. One of the ladies at the table had brought her own wine and was filling everyone's glass. I was more than happy to taste the wine. Near the end of dinner, the waiters broke out into a Mambo dance in which most of the diners (including Janette and myself) grabbed an unfamiliar waist in front of us and began dancing around the main dining hall. Our waiter was a big ham and was the most animated of the waiters. After dinner the photographers were staging photos in front of a backdrop of the Titanic stairwell. We got to don period costumes and had our picture taken. It turned out pretty good actually. I didn't mind spending $19.95 on this photo. After walking around the ship, we headed to bed.
Day 5 - At Sea. We had our only breakfast in the main dining area. By chance we had our evening waiter, Sayit the Ham. He was more low key (Thank God) and our breakfast was wonderful. The eggs were fresher than the Windjammer and the service was top notch. After breakfast, we picked up some of our photos including the photo from formal night where for some reason I looked like Elvis. We played some ping pong, soaked in the huge fitness center jacuzzi and reluctantly weighed ourselves. Much to our amazement, we only gained 2 lbs apiece. A miracle considering the gluttons we were. We did do a lot of physical activity, so that may explain it. We decided to order room service lunch. We ordered pizza, hot dogs and cookies. The staple to any nutritious diet. We had read in earlier review that the Ice show was "not to be missed", so we asked out stateroom attendant (who was awesome!) to get us some tickets. She had them on our bed by 3:00 pm that same day. The show started at 5:00 and we were there 20 minutes early with a drink of the day in hand to get a good seat. The show began and I was totally amazed. A lot better than I would have expected. They hired some very talented skaters. Great show. After the show, we proceeded to lose $80 at the casino. No big deal....we were still way up! That evening we went to the Schooner Bar to see "Barry from Boston" play some Elton John hits. He was ok. Very cookie cutter lounge singer. Dinner tonight was at Portofinos. We reserved Portofinos the first night we were on board and even that early, it was almost completely booked. We managed to get a 7:30 reservation. We were excited to eat here because of all the positive reviews I had read. Man, I was not disappointed! From the moment you are greeted at the door, you are dipped into an ambiance of elegance, class and service. They take tremendous pride in the 'little' details of making your experience a memorable one. We soaked in every nuance of our dinner. From the 4 different types of bread they start you off with, to the 4 courses that delighted our palate to the dessert tray that had us shaking our heads in pleasant disbelief, it was one of the finer dining experiences I have ever had. Even if the food was just adequate, the service alone was enough to make this night one of the more memorable nights in our vacation memories. We called the maitre'd over to praise her staff and she was just beaming. She said that meant so much to her and that was their goal. After that fantastic dinner, we headed over to the Connoisseurs Club for my last cigar of the cruise. Just completing my dining experience...(my wife is awesome by the way! she hates smoke and was a trooper when I indulged in my cigars). Around midnight we headed to the nightclub called Jesters. It was 80's night, which suited us just fine and we danced the early morning hours away to Prince, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson and more! Afterwards we went down to the pool where we sat on a lounge chair under the stars and settled in....we were in bed shortly thereafter.
Day 6 - Day 6 was interesting. Probably my favorite day on the trip. The Port was St. Maarten. We had our first and only snorkeling excursion at 1:15 pm so we had the morning to explore the island. We did that by renting a jeep right off the pier. That was an interesting event, for when we approached the 6 windows of rental companies, we had reps calling out to us with different prices for our attention. "$40"! Yelled one guy. "$30" Yelled another....then I heard a woman yell "$10". Curious, my wife and I stopped at her window. I looked her in the eye and said "10 dollars? Are you sure". She politely said "No". We moved to the guy who quoted us "$30". For 30 bucks, we rented a jeep for an hour to tour the island. The island has a French side and the Dutch side (where the port was). Taking the road we jammed around the island. We stopped at a tucked away place where there were a few outdoor shops that sold Rum (what else), clothing, etc. We purchased some rum from this lady who hand decorated the bottles. They were awesome! Her 3-legged dog named Angel fell in love with my wife! There was also a one eyed cat. We must have been close to a nuclear waste dump or something. We then headed back. We met on the pier around 1 pm for our snorkeling excursion in Shipwreck Cove. The boat pulled up and there was a crew of 5 Rastafarians there to greet us with big smiles. We boarded and took a short trip to Shipwreck Cove. Even the name of the Cove was inspiring enough. We arrived and dropped anchor. My wife was terrified because she hates getting her head wet in fear of water going up her nose. The mask solved that problem. We geared up and in the water we went. The water was crystal clear! Not like the California beaches we were used to. We swam around in a group of about 20 and saw various shipwrecks from WWII and other older ones. We were in about 20 feet of water so I was able to dive down and touch the ships. There were a school of curious (and hungry) fish following us a!
My wife was a trooper and did very well.
She really enjoyed it. There was a 5 foot barracuda that was following our group
around which unnerved some of them. There was also a large Mahi Mahi that was
hanging around. If he only knew how delicious he was, he might think twice about
hanging around humans. Afterwards we took the boat home and a couple of the crew
made some "rum punch" for those who wanted to drink. I was one of those. I had
about 4 or 5 of them. Drinking them like fruit juice. Trust me, they weren't
fruit juice. My wife claimed later that my speech was slurred and I walked into
a pole. I had to take her word for it. All I know was, I was feeling pretty
good! After we docked, I stumbled off the boat and we boarded Adventure once
again. We took showers in our stateroom and got ready for our 5:00 pm couples
massage. We were really looking forward to this! Still fairly intoxicated I
joined my wife at the couples massage. We waited in what they call "The
Relaxation Room". Our 2 massage therapists came in and said "are you ready"?
There was one guy and one girl. Being a typical guy, I thought to myself "There
is no way I am letting some dude give me a massage"! We went into the massage
room and they told us to dress down to our skivies and get under the sheets. My
wife then told me that she would feel more comfortable with the female masseuse.
After a couple minutes of my futile attempt to win the argument...I was stuck
with the guy. Stiff as a board I laid there and let him dig his elbows into my
back and shoulders. Remember, I was still pretty buzzed so this was a bit
surreal for me. Getting a couples massage from some dude from Australia while
fueled by Rum Punch. After about 15 minutes I let my guard down and around the
30 minute mark I was snoring. After my wife woke me up we paid the $260 charge
and headed to Johnny Rockets for dinner. Another fantastic meal at JR! A bacon
burger and a vanilla malt for me this time! My wife had a burger and Strawberry
shake. Who cares about the few dollar cover charge, that's some good eating! We
were the only ones in the restaurant while a thunder storm carried on outside.
We walked around the ship and went to bed.
Day 7 - St. Thomas. We had to do an immigration check at 7:30 which was a bit inconvenient but expected after 9-11. We had a bike tour on Water Island at 9:30 so we had breakfast then headed out. There were only 4 of us in the group. Water Island is about a 20 minute ferry ride from St. Thomas. We had a nice guide and arrived at the island. The bike tour was fun but a bit too much work for our 7th day on a cruise while hung-over. I don't recommend it. We played on honeymoon beach and headed back. In St Thomas we took a cab to the world famous Megan's Bay. Rated one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. It was a gorgeous beach with a stunning backdrop. After an hour or so, we snuck onto a tour bus and headed back to the ship. The driver was hilarious and thought he was a comedian. He drove like a madman and almost killed the entire group 3 or 4 times with his reckless driving. We got back to the ship around 4 pm and were exhausted! We decided to order room service dinner and eat on our balcony. Went to the casino afterwards and lost $100 in about 15 minutes. We then put our gratuities into envelopes and delivered them to our waiters and stateroom attendant. Our stateroom attendant was the highlight of the service group. She was awesome! We packed, placed our bags outside our room and fell asleep within 5 minutes of our heads hitting the pillows.
Day 8 - Debarking. We had a flight out of San Juan at noon so we were one of the first groups off the ship. We got off quickly, hailed a cab and headed for the airport. We had to wait at the terminal for a couple of hours and killed time by playing cards and reading. We then boarded the plane on with our first class tickets and rode first class back to Los Angeles. Our first first class trip ever! Just amazing! We arrived home safe and sound. Our pets were doing fine and our house didn't catch on fire.
Overall. Had a wonderful and memorable trip! A great anniversary with the love of my life! Cruises are simple...you get what you put into it.