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Judy & Frank Starrett

Age: 47

Occupation:Asst. Bank Manager

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Adventure of the Seas

Sailing Date: June 10th, 2007

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

I must start out by saying that this was our 6th RCCL Cruise. We did 5, then took a Disney and Princess break and we are glad to be back! We have only done Princess in Alaska so it’s hard to compare, it was a more subdued cruise-not the party headquarters of the Caribbean. We did Disney, and that was awesome but specific.

RCCL crew members from the top to the bottom are the best on the ocean (yes, even including Disney!) Our room stewardess (Juliet!) was ALWAYS lurking in the hallways and it became a big joke because we were never going the right way when we ran into her and she had to turn us around. Half the time she was there to open the door to our room for us. I NEVER saw the room person on Princess. Our waiter (Negi alias James Bond) and his assistant Winston were awesome. After the first night, we didn’t need to remind him who liked pepper and who like ice tea and a Caesar salad for this one and no soup for this one. They had it down including little tricks with the toothpicks and forks and the events for the day following. We did all our dinners in the dining room. I miss the “entertainment” there every night but on the two nights they did something it was fun. I miss the little flags on Italian night and the flags of their home nations on the last night however the last night always leaves me with a little lump in my throat like I want to take everyone home with me! (Or better yet, stow away!)

The promenade was awesome. Always something going on. The parade on the first night was fun, the 70’s party was a blast, the Captain's cocktail party was fun and just walking through on any given night there was music someplace with a little group of people getting into it. I got a little nuts a few times trying to get around the sale tables but a small thing in comparison.

This was our second time on this class ship and I would rather not go downward unless absolutely necessary to get where we want to be. It is truly a beautiful piece of work in every nook and cranny. The solarium is awesome for quiet comfort and the main pool was awesome for music and activities (though less activities at the pool than in past cruises-maybe because of our itinerary?) The sports deck was awesome and there was almost always a basketball game going on or rock climbers or in line skaters. The miniature golf course was awesome in comparison to the joke that is on Princess’ Diamond!

Mike the cruise director was the best one we’ve experienced on any cruise. He was funny to say the least and very entertaining and always willing to stop for a picture or a short conversation. The first show “Can’t Stop the Rock” was awesome. The second show – something about a velvet rope – had people walking out of it. The performers were awesome, voices spectacular, high energy, however, the show left this passenger wondering where they were coming from…nothing tied together, weak theme…or maybe I just didn’t get (along with everyone else I spoke to).

Didn’t really dine in the Windjammer this time around. The two breakfasts we ate there were great with made to order omelets or eggs cooked to your liking. Staff was great at getting additional drinks or misc condiments you forgot. We seemed to eat mostly at the Café Promenade. Just because of our scheduling and NEED TO SHOP! Our plan was to tour, eat and then shop but we wanted to make sure we had time to shop so we toured, changed, shopped, ate and then went to early seating dinner. Not our brightest decision but seemed to work at the time. The pizza there was great along with the little sandwiches and cookies/desserts. No charge and, once again, friendly staff willing to get you refills on food and drink.

The only meal thing that sort of sent me sideways was their “make your own pasta” in the main dining room for lunch. The waiters couldn’t tell us what the options were so he sent us to look at the table, which is right by the entrance. They had these sheets of paper on the table which the chefs said were for the waiters and had all the ingredients on them. I explained that there were others at the table who needed this info and he eventually let me take 2, then he hid them. So we went back to the table and ordered and the waiter didn’t take the ticket. What the heck? It also took a long time because in the process of figuring it all out, it got crowded.

I am questioning getting “RCCL” transfers from the airport to the ship as we lost a good 45 minutes to 1 hour waiting for them to load us on the bus for the ship. I assumed they knew there was another plane coming, thus the delay, but we got on the bus with the same people we started with so I’m clueless. We got there so late, there was no line in the boarding area which was great cause it was a disaster last time in San Juan (but that was a different pier) and we missed a much anticipated lunch at the Windjammer (since we’ve been up since 4:30 a.m.), thus we were at the Promenade Café which was the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship.

Now for our stops:
ARUBA: Sail/Snorkeling/Beach Break. It was on a “Pelican” catamaran. It was very windy there but they say they are not in the hurricane path so I’ll take the wind over a hurricane any time. 1st snorkeling break was just OK, kind of got you primed for the big one, the Antilles German Freighter from WWII. AWESOME snorkeling there! Fish and of course the wreck which at times was about a foot from the surface. The whole thing is in about 70 feet of water and out in the middle of the water, not near a beach and remember the wind. Strong snorkel would enjoy, not strong snorkel should not attempt it. The location and wind made getting in and out of the boat tricky but doable. Open bar during the whole trip and the ending on Palm Beach with lunch made the whole experience awesome, including the crew. Shopping was pretty cool too. It was very close to the ship, truly walking distance.

CURACO: Careful here! It depends upon which beach you choose. We took the “Fun Bus” and it took us to Blue Bay Resort. I heard someone say they asked the taxi for a particular beach but they ended up here. Somebody’s got something going on! I understand Kon Tiki (?) was wonderful. This place was pretty, you had a kid playground, chlorine pool you could use, a place for food and drinks, lounge chairs under the most beautiful palm trees and it was very picturesque, however, the water had rocks in it and if we hadn’t read it somewhere and wore our water socks, it could have been really uncomfortable! There was actual coral where we were suppose to be swimming and the beach was truly made of broken shells/rocks….very hard on the feet. They provided snorkeling equipment, which was probably the way to go but we were more interested in floating and no description anywhere mentioned snorkeling. HOWEVER, THE SHOPPING was awesome, very clean, very colorful and within walking distance (a little more than expected). They had regular stores and open air markets and the pontoon bridge is very cool when it’s in place. It wasn’t on our way over to the town (free ferry-short trip) but it was on the way back. Everyone is friendly…it was just a lovely experience.

ST MAARTIN: We have been there three times, and every time we go to Orient Bay Beach. The beach is beautiful and it has waves and undertow just like the old days in New Jersey, only with beautiful white sand and beautiful clear water and I just can’t say enough about it. (Also great place to people watch as there is a nudist beach down the end and some of their vacationers spill over for a walk. Topless is permitted on the regular side). We do the Beach Rendezvous that includes the lunch (grilled Mahi Mahi is always our choice) because you are served on the beach so you don’t miss a minute of beauty and because they will drop you off in the shopping area on the way back to the ship which saves you 1) walking or 2) taxi fair. Not much on trinket shops/t-shirts, but loads of everything else. We always make a donation to the Del Sol place and the Jimmy Buffet place “Last Mango in Paradise”.

ST THOMAS: By far, our favorite stop. It’s our fourth time. They have it all! This time we took a tour over to St. John’s to get to Trunk Bay. It’s always a toss up on this stop so we go back and forth, Megan’s Bay one trip, Trunk Bay the next. Don’t waste your time or money on the tram ride to the top, buy a postcard in town of the view from up there! We always save our shopping for this port just from familiarity. If you’re not into walking a bunch or taxi $8.00 for 2 each way, the Havensted Mall is within easy walking and it’s got all the big names.

Note: Every darn time I go to those shopping talks on the ship, I say I am not going to buy one of those cute little books for $25.00 that will save you a whole bunch of money. I usually end up with a list of free stuff which some stores give you willingly but others want to talk to you about buying stuff (obviously) If you’re serious about shopping for a particular item, get a VIP card from the shopping talk people with your specific item and store on it. The book is fun if you just want to kill time and make shopping a scavenger hunt.

Photos: are becoming more of a rip-off by the cruise. I thought it was Princess when I was on Princess but I’m back to RCCL, and they are doing the same thing. A special for your welcome aboard photo is $19.95 for the cute one with their framing which is cruise specific and you get a 5X7 of the same photo free. Big deal. You also have to buy 4 - 8X10’s to get their precious portfolio. Otherwise $19.95) I’m relying more and more on my own photography. They do have this cute new process though….it’s a kiosk where you swipe your card and all your pictures come up on a menu. You can look at them on the screen and ask them to be printed and then pick them up instead of looking through walls of pictures. I’m thinking this is the process of the future. Not a bad idea…it will save people stepping on my feet, but it will just be another line to stand in, but it will probably always be open, unlike the Photo Gallery itself.

I have also noticed a difference in the bar staff which I didn’t catch until the end of the cruise. Silly me wasn’t looking at the ticket which already including the basic tip. So I was adding a little to each ticket. At least I had them following me around! But they are not as peppy as they used to be with the tray twirling etc. Some are, but most of them are not but still very cordial.

Platinum Member stuff: The two cocktail parties that we were invited to, one for just returning passengers and one for Platinum and above were nice. The captain spoke at the returning one and free drinks were flowing and I think there were appetizers but we got there late. It was a question and answer session with the captain, pretty cool. The Platinum and above was actually a performance by the small musical group from the Promenade with free drinks and appetizers. Hey, if there are free drinks involved, it's cool. They gave us stuff on two nights on our bed which had the logo on it, a book of coupons which gets you into Johnny Rockets free, free wine tasting, a bunch of casino coupons and a buy one get one at the photo place. Bathrobes in your room for your use are a nice plus and our balcony was a minimal upgrade. The BEST part was a private part of the real dining room with Danish and coffee available until you disembark. No sitting on the floors for us! Couldn’t tell you about the disembarking thing cause we did that. I wandered out into the hall and it looked messy. We were seated at a dining table where all the other couples were Platinum and above and the captain stopped by the last night to say high on his way his speech. Your cruise card has it stated on there, the room stewards know it, the table dudes know it… their attention is kicked up a notch, another perk

This was a really good itinerary on a really excellent ship….looking forward to hopping aboard one of the Freedom class ships. The news we heard on the ship (from the captain himself) was that he was moving to an RCCL ship in the Mediterranean and that Voyager is coming to Galveston, Texas soon.

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