Maiden Voyage

Wyndham & Dock
We left Houston 11/18/01 at 4:30 a.m. arrived in Puerto Rico at 6:00 (by way of Newark). We felt security was wonderful in Houston, Newark and San Juan. We found [our friend] Felix easily at ... Read More
Maiden Voyage

Wyndham & Dock
We left Houston 11/18/01 at 4:30 a.m. arrived in Puerto Rico at 6:00 (by way of Newark). We felt security was wonderful in Houston, Newark and San Juan. We found [our friend] Felix easily at the Wyndham Old San Juan since he was wearing the hat he had printed A.O.S. 11/18/01 "God Bless America". We enjoyed Felix and Kim's company while having beer on the balcony. We noticed the Adventure right across the street (a easy walk). My husband woke in the middle of the night only to find the Adventure was gone. In talking with some of the local people we found that the Adventure went out for a one night cruise. When she returned, they docked her at the new port (too far to walk). We met Felix and Kim the next morning (11:00) and took a taxi to the new port ($6.00 per person). The Wyndham was a wonderful hotel for the $99.00 rate we were charged. We booked it for $158.00.

Check-In
RCCL met us at the door, where we dropped off our luggage and told to take a seat close to the front with our carry-ons. RCCL called three rows at a time. We were the second group to check in. The check in went very smooth. We inquired about an upgrade, but by that time all rooms were sold. From that point, we were allowed to board the ship (12:15) and went through security. Again RCCL met us once we stepped foot on the ship to direct us to our rooms. Very organized.

Upgrades/Room
We originally had a DA category but we were upgraded to a C category before we left home. The room was wonderful - lots of space with a walk in closet and a bathtub with shower. This was the first cruise that we didn't fill all the drawers. The balcony was small, but nice. We have been getting the rooms of the back of the ship where the balconies are huge.

"Dog & Duck", Windjammer Cafe
We again met up with Felix and Kim to see their owner's suite. It was truly gorgeous!!

We decided to try to find the "Palace Arms" (since that was our meeting place). We were surprised to find that it had been renamed to the "Dog and Duck". We stopped by the Cafe Promenade for a quick sandwich (shrimp). We proceeded to the Windjammer Cafe. The food was as good as any other cruise I've been on (this was my 9th).

Cruise Critic Group
We met up with the "Cruise Critic" group at the Dog and Duck prior to dinner. Everyone was so excited to meet each other. We felt we already knew most of the group! It was truly a delight to be with everyone. What a great group!! We met again after the muster drill (10:00 - 10:20) at the Viking Crown Lounge to watch the ship sail away.

Dinner First Night/Meals
We wore shorts to dinner the first night, which was fine since most had not received their luggage. We had ours before dinner. Dinner was wonderful-baked cod was my choice.

Our table of eight was two away from the captain's table. Two of the wives didn't speak English, but we all tried to communicate. The husbands translated. One couple never showed up for dinner. Our waitress and assistant waitress were wonderful. She always remembered what we liked to drink with our meals. The headwaiter was the best we ever had. He came by every night to see how we were and what we needed. Some of the meals included: Filet, New York Strip, Shrimp Scampi, Lobster Tail, Turkey.

Ports

Aruba
I love Aruba! We took the Sailing and Snorkeling Tour (9:00 a.m.) We had a wonderful time, met a couple that we drank rum punches with once we completed the snorkeling. We had a quick lunch at the great Johnny Rockets on the ship and went back out and did some shopping (walked) to the Harley Davidson Shop.

Curacao
For those of you who have never been (like me) you are in for a treat! This is a wonderful little island. We took the Curacao Snorkeling Tour (1:00 p.m.) and were surprised to have Corey and Barbara join us. Don't forget about the dolphins we all saw. The snorkeling was better here than Aruba. It may because it was later in the day. We enjoyed Corey and Barbara's company and the rum punch (or rum and Coke or should I say rum and rum). We returned to the ship changed clothes and went shopping in Curacao crossing the floating bridge. The shops were quaint and prices were good. We saw Shirley shopping while Russ was scuba diving!!

St. Maarten
We were there last year, so we didn't venture to the French side (topless beaches). We stayed on the Dutch side where we did some shopping with Felix and Kim. Prices are good and make sure you see the Jimmy Buffet shop. Beer is $.50 - $1.00 in most places. A small bottle of wine is $1.25.

St. Thomas
We had to get up early to go through US Immigrations. All family members must attend.

We joined Corey and Barbara for yet another snorkeling tour at 9:00 a.m. for (Captain Nautica's Power Raft Snorkeling Tour). We all felt the Curacao snorkeling was much better. We also thought the St. John stop was much better than the first stop. The crew of two young guys were very nice and well informed. We were disappointed to find out that it was a non-alcoholic excursion, but they served shrimp cocktail (which was very good). Once back on the ship we changed clothes and met Felix and Kim (and a couple from their dinner table) at Gladys' in St. Thomas for a pretty good lunch and drinks. After lunch, Dave & I went shopping. St. Thomas is one of my favorite shopping ports - duty free, no taxes.

Theme Nights
Formal nights: Day Two and Day Five (Note this could be different since Day 5 was Thanksgiving for us).
Day Three - Caribbean Colors
< Day Four - Latin Night
Day Six - 50's-80's
Day Seven - Red, White and Blue
Sorry no toga parties.

Ice Skating Shows
It is free, but you must have a ticket. Get it early since they book quick. It is a must see!! Shows are 9:00 p.m. Tues and 7:00 p.m. Wed.

Shows
Went to Can't Stop the Rock. We didn't feel it was worth our time. My husband went to Gary Puckett. He thoroughly enjoyed it (I was sick and didn't go).

Library
I went the first day and checked out The Painted House for the entire week. Library has a great selection with wonderful leather chairs.

Solarium Pool
Even though there is a "no child" rule, it was not enforced. The pools were salt water. The chairs are more comfortable than the others and the towels were thick and soft.

Cafe Promenade
As stated earlier, serves sandwiches, pizza (cheese, pepperoni, veggie), cookies, brownies, cakes, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. This is a wonderful place for a quick bite to eat or coffee/hot chocolate before bedtime.

Johnny Rockets
A must do! The hamburgers, cheese/chili fries, milkshakes (charge for this) were all great. That is what blew my diet!!

Ice Skating
I didn't make it this trip, but did on the Voyager. It is really fun. The ice is in fairly good condition considering you are on a ship out in the middle of the ocean!

Golf
I didn't make it this trip, but did on the Voyager. It is a little windy and hard to put the ball where you want it. Not for the serious golfer. This is something that you may want to do after a couple of drinks.

Rock Climbing Wall
We didn't do, but Kim and Felix did and enjoyed it!!

Alcohol
OK, now for the sticky subject. We purchased alcohol on board. There was a $9.50 charge to take it back to our room. We felt it was still a better deal than purchasing it at home and packing it (the heavy stuff). We packed in our luggage our favorite bottle of wine and some smaller bottles. None were taken from us. At just about every port, we purchased a bottle of something. None of it was taken from us when we entered the ship. They were taking the bottles that were boxed. We walked on with beer in a bottle - no problem.

Look for: Curacao orange peel liqueur (blue) and Curacao chocolate. There are plenty of samples right off the ship in Curacao. We found the best prices were closest to the ship.

Room Service
We ordered room service for breakfast almost every day. They call you before knocking on your door. It is a wonderful service with a great selection. Always good before the 9:00 a.m. shore excursions.

Parties
Felix and Kim had a wonderful "last night" party in their owner's suite. Look for Felix and Kim's photos. Sorry we didn't find that suitcase big enough for the TV, Felix. We never really said goodbye to anyone, because I think deep down in we feel we are all going to meet again.

Disembarkation
We were staying two extra days after the cruise so, we were last on their list to leave the ship. We waited in the library since it was the closest to our 9th floor room and the most comfortable. When they stopped calling out flight numbers, we decided to venture our way down to the 4th floor to exit the ship. RCCL claimed that after awhile it was a "free for all" and had given up on their disembarkment procedure. Since we waited, we exited easily. We found a taxi without hassle (easier than Miami or Ft. Lauderdale).

Caribe Hilton
Taxi from the pier is $11.00. The hotel is very remote. It is a very nice hotel in which we received concierge service (free drinks and food), but we preferred the Wyndham Old San Juan. Caribe does not have a casino or one nearby. There are no restaurants other than the ones at the hotel. It has a beach and a wonderful pool area, no real shopping in the area.

Barcardi Factory
This is a wonderful tour that we did from our hotel. Do this from the ship's excursion since it is much cheaper. There is a gift shop there where we purchased a bottle of Ron Bacardi Reserve (you can't purchase it in the US).
San Juan Shopping
All shopping is in the Old San Juan area ($7.00 from Caribe Hilton). There local coffee is one of the three best in the world - Blue Mountain (Jamaica), Kona (Hawaii) and Alton Grande (Puerto Rico). We found 7 oz for $13.50. I'm sure you can find it cheaper! There is also a Coach shop. Remember no tax and no duty!!

Friends
The best thing we acquired from Cruise Critic is all the great friends we met on the ship! We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation because of all of you!! We can only hope to meet again on another cruise or somewhere else.... Felix, Kim, Corey, Barbara, Terry, Sharon, Shirley, Russ, Sharon, Ron, Sandy, Dennis, Jackson and Becky. We had a blast!

Final Note: If you are afraid to do what we did (meet people you don't know), don't be afraid! Life is short. Enjoy it! Meet everyone you can because you may be missing an opportunity of a lifetime!

dwoodson@Houston.rr.com

December 2001 Read Less
Adventure of the Seas - December 2, 2001
Let me start by saying that we had a great time! I know this review is more information than any of you want, but maybe bits and pieces will be helpful to you all. It's very long, but there's a ... Read More
Adventure of the Seas - December 2, 2001
Let me start by saying that we had a great time! I know this review is more information than any of you want, but maybe bits and pieces will be helpful to you all. It's very long, but there's a lot to tell, so here goes...

Sunday- Getting to San Juan and the Ship
We arranged our own air. We flew American Airlines from New Orleans to San Juan (through Miami). On our flight from Miami to San Juan, we were upgraded to first class, which was wonderful! There was so much leg room (I had to get out of my seat to reach the magazines in the seat in front of me!), not to mention each seat had a TV with remote for games, an automatic leg rest, a reading 'flashlight' - needless to say, we were spoiled! It was hard going back to coach, but all our flights were fine. Security was quick and efficient in San Juan and New Orleans, but seemed a little disorganized in Miami. When we arrived in San Juan, it did take a LONG time for our bags to arrive at baggage claim, but when we did finally get them, it was very easy to arrange for a taxi. Directly across from baggage claim, there is a booth for 'Ground Transportation'. Let them know where you are going and how many bags and they give you a ticket for the cab. Including extra charge for bags and tip, its about $20 to the pier.

At the pier, the porters take your bags and you enter the terminal. There are about 20 rows of chairs and someone will direct you where to sit. Each row is called one by one and you are lead to the check in stations. From the time we sat down to the time we finished checking in was about 15 minutes! It was great! RC does a great job of crowd management. Although there were nearly 3,000 passengers onboard, we hardly ever had to wait in line for anything (food, guest relations, reboarding ship...). We were in a cabin category D9. There is plenty of closet and drawer space, and all of our luggage fit under our bed. There was a telephone with a small clock, a small hairdryer, a small safe, and the interactive TV. The TV allowed you to order excursions, Portofino, spa and other reservations, check your balance, plus had RCTV and movies running all day in addition to a few cable stations.

At dinner the first night, we were disappointed to find that we had been assigned to a table for 2 because we had actually requested a large table. However, we spoke to the Maitre'D and were able to change to a great table right near the captain's table.

Monday - Day at Sea
We started our day at Sea with breakfast at Windjammer/Island Grill (same food, four buffet lines). We were able to find chairs right by the main pools at 9:30, but the good chairs do fill up fast. As the day went on and the pool became more crowded, we moved to the Solarium pool, which was a little quieter and more room in the pool itself. We ate lunch at Johnny Rockets at about 12:30 and there was no wait at all. There are booths outside with great views of the water. As you know, sodas and shakes/malts are extra, but fries, onion rings, burgers, etc are all free of charge.

Tuesday- Aruba
We rented a jeep on our own. We had reserved a Suzuki Jimny online through Avis for $46. All the rental car places are right there as you walk out of the cruise terminal. In addition to Avis, Thrifty and several other local companies had booths there. Aruba was easy to get around, but the traffic signs are quite different from here in the states, so be careful. We drove to the California lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, and the Natural Bridge. We returned to the ship for lunch and were able to park the jeep in a lot close by the terminal. After lunch, we drove to Baby Beach and when we finally got there, we were quite disappointed with what we found. The beach is very remote and isolated (the only thing close by in the jail), and the beach was covered with driftwood and debris. We decided to head back toward the ship and go to Eagle/Palm Beach. These beaches near the hotels are great - they have everything you could want: crystal blue water, white sand, places to rent chairs and floats, bars, restaurants...we wish we had gone there earlier in the day. You can access the beach from any of the hotels.

After dinner, we went to Carlos and Charlie's. It was fun, but not nearly as crazy as the one in Cozumel.

Wednesday- Curacao
We booked the Animal Encounter Excursion at the Seaquarium through the cruise line. We had so much fun; I highly recommend it to anyone even if you don't dive (you don't have to be certified). After a brief training session, we went diving in an enclosed cove with stingray and fish of every size imaginable. Then we swam to two areas that had sharks and sea turtles behind plexiglass walls. You were able to feed them through small holes in the plexiglass. It was quite an amazing experience, and one you don't have the opportunity to do too often!

After we walked around the Seaquarium, we walked to the Seaquarium Beach. Admission was $3 pp and chairs were $2.50 each. The beach was beautiful and had everything you could want including a snack bar, gift shops, clean bathrooms, several bars, lockers...it was pretty close to heaven! We stayed there all day and hated to leave. The cab ride back was about $12.

Thursday- Day at Sea
Another day by the pool. There are plenty on chairs, but get the ones in the best locations go fast, so get there early. If the main pools get too crowded and loud as the day goes on, try the Solarium pool - its very nice.

Friday- St. Maarten
We did the Orient Beach Rendezvous Excursion through the ship, but if you want to do the beach, I recommend you just go on your own. Cab fare is about $20 for 2 to Orient Beach, you can easily rent a chair and umbrella, and you can eat at any beach restaurant you want (Kakao was just OK). Also, we didn't think the tour allowed us enough time at the beach, so we ended up not going back with the tour bus and caught a cab back to town on our own. A few warnings: Orient Beach is clothing optional and you will see more body parts than you want to see! And the water is pretty, but can be very rough. Be careful of the waves, they can be deceiving. There's not that much shopping in St Maarten (basically only one street), so you can spend all day at the beach and still hit the stores later. Be sure to stop by the Guavaberry House at the end of Front Street (closest to the ship) and try a Guavaberry Colada. Yum! St Maarten has built a new cruise ship pier, but it is a pretty decent walk to the shopping area downtown. If you don't want to walk, you can easily catch a cab or take the water taxi for $3 per person (RT, I think).

Saturday - St Thomas
We spent the day at Magens Bay. National Geographic once named it as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, supposedly the beach has been neglected over the years, but it was just as beautiful as I remembered it. Cab fare from the ship was $6 per person, admission to the beach $3 pp, chairs $5 (plus $5 deposit). There's also a snack bar, bar, gift shop, sail/paddle boat rental, bathrooms and changing areas. We thought the beach was wonderful, and it filled up quite fast as the day went on (there were 3 cruise ships in port). Be sure to stop by Udder Delight at the St Thomas Dairy just outside the entrance to Magens Bay. They make the best shakes, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. One of St Thomas' best-kept secrets!! With the exception of Havensight Mall, the shopping is in Charlotte Amalie, which is a pretty long walk from the pier. You can easily catch a cab from the ship for a ride to town for $3 per person.

Sunday- Leaving the Ship
We left our cabin at about 8:00 am expecting to have plenty of time for sit-down breakfast in the dining room. But, by 8:25 am they were announcing the first flights for disembarkation. We were trying to get on stand by for a 10:45 flight, so we decided to skip breakfast and leave the ship. Getting off was fast and easy, and after we located our bags, we caught a cab to the airport. We made the 10:45 flight with plenty of time to spare.

The Ship
The Adventure of the Seas is a beautiful ship and she still had that "new ship" smell! Even though she's 140,000 tons and carries 3,000 passengers, it never felt crowded or hard to get around. RC does a good job of placing detailed maps in good locations i.e. at elevators, entrance to dining rooms and theaters. The Promenade runs about ½ the length of the ship on Floor 5 with atrium rooms looking down from Floors 6, 7, and 8. The Promenade includes Explorations (shore excursion desk), Guest Relations desk, Logo Store, General Store, Perfume Store as well as a few others, plus the Promenade Cafe for 24-hour snacks, the Duck and the Dog Pub, Gravity Sports Bar, and Sprinkles Ice Cream Stand. Be sure to visit Paul at the Duck and the Dog, and listen to Pete play! The usual Viking Crown lounge is called the Blue Moon, Jesters is the nightclub (very cool), Schooner Bar (still smells like new teak wood), and of course there are the Pool Bars. The Casino has a Hollywood theme and a very cool entrance you must check out, even if you don't want to stop in and lose some money! The gym looked very nice, although I must admit I didn't work out at all. Passed by the Internet cafe, Concierge Club, Library and Card Room and all looked very nice as well. We didn't try the Rock Climbing or skating, but they looked fun.

The Food
I really was impressed by the food! There is only so much you can do with breakfast, but the Windjammer/Island Grill had it all, and we never had to wait in line. For lunch, there was always a wide variety of choices from sweet and sour pork, burgers and hot dogs, pizza, salads, desserts, and everything in between. I enjoyed every dinner I had, too. Some of my favorites were lobster (of course), shrimp scampi, and chicken cordon blue. Small sandwiches, pizza, and desserts were available 24 hours at the Cafe Promenade at no charge. Don't forget to try lunch at Johnny Rockets at least once.

A quick side note: When we asked to move tables, we absolutely lucked out with our tablemates! Ken, the CD, says cruising is about meeting people, and he's right. We had a great time getting to know our tablemates, had some great laughs (and cries?), went to a shows together, and toured each other's cabins! But we feel very fortunate to have met a bunch of great people.

Service
No complaints here! We had a great cabin steward (he made cool towel animals!) and a great waiter/assistant waiter. He didn't take my lobster out of the shell for me, but he did peel my shrimp scampi!

Entertainment
All the shows we saw were great! Can't Stop the Rock and the Ice Show were excellent. The lead female singer at the shows (I think her name was Tressa) was amazing! The Ice Shows were on Tuesday and Wednesday, but you need to pick up tickets in advance. Also, the farewell show was fun; they had a great comedian, an amazing balancing act, and more great singing and dancing. Get to the shows about 20 minutes early to get good seats. We found the best seats to be on the center balcony about 3 rows up.

A few "issues" we had
Unlike other ships we've sailed before (including RCCL), we were disappointed by the lack of availability of free beverages (tea, lemonade). They were only available at the Windjammer/Island Grill during open hours. At any other time or place, you could only get tea/lemonade for a charge. So if you were thirsty (or let's say having a midnight snack at the Cafe Promenade), you're choices were coffee or purchase a drink from the bar. RC's way of cutting costs perhaps, but a little disappointing. Also, let me state the FACT that the majority of the people onboard spoke Spanish. Not knowing a word of Spanish, it did become a little aggravating to us. Unfortunately, some customs and mannerisms of particular passengers were not what we were used to back home in the "50 states", and this became pretty annoying. Not that I expect all people to act like me, but I do expect basic courtesy and respect from and for people around you. But enough about that...

Wheeewww.... that's a lot of information! It's hard to put 7 days of fun into a short summary! I'm sorry this is so long, but I think its all the information I would have liked to have known before I sailed. If I missed answering any of you specific questions, please fell free to ask me.

You all will have a wonderful time!

December 2001 Read Less
My husband and I flew into San Juan on 12/2 from Fort Lauderdale, FL on Spirit Airlines. Things went smoothly at the Fort Lauderdale airport, went through security with a bottle of water and they made me take a drink before I could pass ... Read More
My husband and I flew into San Juan on 12/2 from Fort Lauderdale, FL on Spirit Airlines. Things went smoothly at the Fort Lauderdale airport, went through security with a bottle of water and they made me take a drink before I could pass through. They hand checked my backpack and we were through the security check in 5 minutes. This was at 8:30am on a Sunday. Our flight left Fort Lauderdale at 10:50pm and arrived in San Juan at 2:30pm (local time). Taxis are easy to find and we paid $20 (including tip) for the ride to the pier.

I think we arrived at the pier at a very crowded time (around 3:30pm). No one came to help us with our luggage and we had no idea with whom to leave it with. I finally found a Royal Caribbean representative who told me I needed to leave my luggage with the appropriate porter, according to what deck my cabin was on. I think I talked to 3 different porters before I was actually able to find the correct one to leave my luggage with. No one offered to help carry the luggage even though I had tip money in my hand. In my opinion this was very disorganized compared to the terminal in Miami. Once inside the terminal we followed the crowd and were seated in chairs. We were told that if we had already filled out all of the forms we didn't need to sit in the chairs, just proceed to the check in counter. This line moved very fast and we were soon on our way up the gangway!

They took our pictures for our Super Charge cards and then we were on the Adventure. All I can say is WOW! She is a beautiful ship and still had the "new" ship smell! We went to our cabin to put down our carry-on luggage. We had a balcony room on deck 7, starboard, aft. The cabin had a connecting door, so I was afraid that we might hear a lot of noise from the cabin next door, but we never heard a word. This was our first balcony cabin and we thought the room was very spacious. We loved having a balcony! Lots of closet and drawer space and plenty of room under the beds to store your luggage.

We then went to the Island Grill for lunch. Lunch was served until 5pm(only on embarkation day). The layout of the Windjammer and Island Grill is very nice. DEcor was uplifting and light with lots of tables and pretty views from the floor to ceiling windows. Tables were cleared promptly and the staff was very helpful and friendly. Lots of food choices to choose from and some of the best desserts I have ever tasted (I love chocolate!).

We then took a tour of the ship. Everything was so amazing! The Royal Promenade was incredible! How I wish I was back on board right now!

We returned to our cabin at 6pm to find our luggage had already been delivered and was inside our cabin. We met our cabin steward, Martin, and he took very good care of us throughout the week.

We had 2nd seating for dinner at a table for 2 in the Vivaldi dinning room. Our waiter was Jaroslaw from Poland and our assistant waiter was Charlie from the Philippines. They were both wonderful! There was always a coke waiting for me when I walked into the dinning room and replaced with another one before I finished the first. My glass of milk and my husband's cup of coffee always arrived with dessert. We didn't have to ask for anything. The service was superb! Our favorite dishes were the filet mignon, lobster tails, chicken cordon blue, shrimp scampi, and prime rib. I ordered 2 desserts on the first night because I just couldn't make up my mind and from then on Jaroslaw knew I loved chocolate and would always bring me an array of desserts! Hmmm....can I blame him for the 5 pounds I gained during the cruise?

The shows in The Lyric were very good. I couldn't stop laughing during the performance by Ronn Lucas, Ventriloquist (this was his last show on board the Adventure). Don't miss the show with "Rain." They look and sound just like the Beatles! Can't stop the Rock and Velvet Rope by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers was also very good. The ice show, Cool Art/Hot Ice, was incredible! You could pick up tickets beginning on Monday for the 4 shows, 2 on Wednesday and 2 on Thursday. The announced the distribution of tickets several times, so you will definitely know when they become available.

About the ports

Aruba
We rented an automatic jeep with air-conditioning from Avis at the pier. There is a parking lot right next to the pier where you can park the jeep and hop back onboard for lunch or a quick nap. We went to the California Lighthouse and then went to Arashi Beach and did a little snorkeling. This beach is very pretty with small grass huts for shade and nice soft sand. There were only about 6 other people on the beach with us. We stopped off at the ship for a quick bite to eat and then went to see the Natural Bride. Our final stop was at Baby Beach. The beach was pretty crowded and there was not any shade to be found. The sand is hard and the beach is not pretty like Arashi Beach. On the other hand the snorkeling at this beach is wonderful! If you head out towards the rocks to the left of the beach, past the inlet, you will see a lot of coral and all kinds of fish. This was the best snorkeling we have ever done!

Curacao
We walked into town for a little shopping, but the weather was extremely hot....so we quickly returned to the ship. After lunch we took the Snorkeling Excursion offered from RCCL. The boat departed from the pier for a 30min ride to our snorkeling destination. We snorkeled by a sunken tugboat surrounded by lots of fish. They gave us bread to feed the fish and they would eat right out of our hands! On the way back to the pier they served rum punch, rum and coke, or soda. We enjoyed the trip!

St. Martin
Shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Make sure to stop at the Guavaberry Emporium for a taste of their Guavaberry Colada! I bought a bottle of Guavaberry Liqueur and I am ready to make some coladas and try to pretend I am back on board the Adventure!

St. Thomas
We did the 9am Captain Nautica Snorkeling offered through the ship. This excursion was a lot of fun! We boarded a power raft for a fun and thrilling ride to our first snorkeling destination. The ride is very bumpy, so if you have neck or back problems this is not the tour for you. After the fist snorkeling stop we had fresh fruit and beverages (coke, diet coke, sprite, water). The second stop was on St. John in the National Park. We saw a lot of fish and coral and were able to swim up to Honeymoon Beach. This beach looked like a postcard! We had some shrimp cocktail and beverages on the way back to the pier. This was a wonderful excursion and I would highly recommend it!

Sea Days
There were always a lot of chairs available, but the ones closest to the pool fill up fast. We watched the belly flop contest, played miniature golf, went ice-skating, and my husband went rock climbing. There was something for everyone on this ship!

Don't forget to check out the peek-a-boo bridge and the bow with the helipad!

The gym looked great! Lots of equipment (free weights and machines), separate saunas for men and women, and a whirlpool that was always empty. We only went in here to weigh ourselves! Ironic, don't you think??

The solarium was also very nice with a nice size pool and 2 large hot tubs. The chairs in the solarium were padded and very comfy. If you want a to get away from all of the partying on the pool deck, go to the solarium pool.

The formal nights were on the days at sea, Monday and Thursday. Formal portraits were available at multiple locations in the Centrum. The Gala Buffet was on Thursday. Viewing was from 11:30-12:30am and then the buffet was open from 12:30-1:30am.

We did not try Portofino, but heard it was excellent.

Jester's nightclub was really neat! Make sure to take a look inside even if you don't like the "dance club" atmosphere.

Debarkation began around 8:30am when they started calling flight numbers. Our flight did not leave until 3:40pm, so we left the ship around 11am even though our tag color had not been called. We took a taxi to the Crown and Anchor in Old San Juan for $11. We left our luggage there and went to check out El Morro fort. After that it was off to the airport (by taxi $16) and home to Florida.

This was a wonderful cruise and I can't wait to return to the sea!

If you are planning on taking a cruise on the Adventure I am sure you will have a wonderful time!

December 2001 Read Less
ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS
Southern Caribbean
December 9 - 16, 2001

By Mary & Vincent Finelli

OVERVIEW
Since we have sailed on both the Voyager and the Explorer of the ... Read More

ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS
Southern Caribbean
December 9 - 16, 2001

By Mary & Vincent Finelli

OVERVIEW
Since we have sailed on both the Voyager and the Explorer of the Seas, we thought that sailing on their sister ship would just be deja` vu; however, the Adventure of the Seas is unique due to the exquisite decor and refinement of her interiors, all enhanced by beautiful holiday decorations.  This was our 22nd cruise in the past five years and our 11th on RCI, so we are Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor Society.

The Adventure was built by the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Turku, Finland and had her inaugural voyage from San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 18, 2001.  She looks just like her sisters, all white with aqua/green glass on her upper decks, a blue stripe above her yellow life boats and the same awesome size which could be seen from everywhere in San Juan.   Her length is 1,020 ft. and beam is 157.5 ft.; gross tonnage is 142,000 tons with a draft of only 29 ft.  She has 15 decks, a cruising speed of  22 knots and a crew of  1,185 with guest capacity of 3,114, and 26 of her cabins, in various categories, are wheelchair accessible.  This is not just a ship, she is the largest resort afloat!

Captain Arnolf  Remo (Norway) is a grand seasoned mariner, whose charm was evident at welcome aboard ceremonies, dinners and receptions.  He comes from a long line of sea  captains (father, grandfather and great grandfather).  He graduated from the Naval Academy and Captain's School in his hometown of Alesund, Norway and he is an excellent representative of  RCI who exudes competence.  Most of this review will center on descriptions of  this elegant new vessel; she certainly merits it.

EMBARKATION
Normally we sail out of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, but this itinerary and the attraction of a new ship moved us to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Through RCI we had purchased transfers from the airport to the ship, but American Airlines made us claim our luggage and accompany it personally across the street to unmarked trucks, which delivered it to the ship.  Needless to say, Mary was steamed by the time she had dragged the luggage and pushed the wheelchair so far.  This was an unnecessary hassle, since after checking with other cruisers, we found out that only American Airlines required passengers to first claim their bags, all other lines allowed the luggage to be transferred directly to the ship.

We arrived at the port about 12:30 pm and found long lines, but as soon as Migdalia de Leon,  RCI Terminal Manager, saw the wheelchair, she took us personally in hand, did our check-in and assigned a crew member to take us aboard.  In less than ten minutes, we were onboard checking on our table assignment, all was in order and we were in our cabin by 1:00 pm.

The welcome aboard buffet was nicely displayed, fresh and crisp looking with plenty of variety and we enjoyed it, with the help of wait staff, who were attentive.

THE SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS
The center for many activities is a 394 ft. long Royal Promenade, located on Deck 5, between the front and aft Centrums.  It is reminiscent of a quaint European town.  This four deck high mall area hosts the Captain's Champagne Reception as well as carnival like parades with street jugglers, dancers, jesters, etc.   Passengers may stroll, shop, or sit at the Duck & Dog Pub, or in the Sports Bar with a cold brew, while their children help themselves to ice cream, cookies, pizza or sandwiches at the Cafe` Promenade, where Seattle's Best coffee and tea are always available.

In the aft Centrum starboard are located the Guest Relations and Explorations Desks, while on the port side is the Champagne Bar (with two sculptures by the American artist Helaine Blumenfeld: "Cleopatra" and "Frieze").  This  Centrum is dominated by a four deck tall art work entitled "The Dive" by Lawrence P. Kirkland (America): depicting a diver's view when looking up from the sea bottom; the blue and silver tubes represent a school of  silvery fish once seen at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA.  To us it looked like a water spout or tornado funnel.  Very interesting, especially since it is a big improvement over the less inspiring art work in the Centrums of the Explorer of the Seas.  Another attraction of the Royal Promenade is the 1939 Citroen Roadster (purple and beige with roll and tuck leather interior and rumble seat) restored by Bent Bowitz (Norway).

Deck 2 forward has the Entertainment Complex, Conference Center and La Marquis with screening room -- plus cabins.

Deck 3 forward has the Lyric Theatre, where live performances are held every evening, and the Entertainment Complex featuring Studio B, a two deck high skating rink and a Hi-Tech multipurpose TV Studio.  Also here is the entrance to the Jester's Club (a disco for 18 and over) marvelously decorated with beautiful stained glass and gothic heraldic furnishings. On Deck 3 aft is found the Vivaldi Dining Room, the first floor of the three tier restaurant connected by a grand staircase and elegantly lit by the opulent central Crystal Chandelier (very impressive after the missing chandelier on the Explorer).

Deck 4 forward has the second level of the Lyric Theatre with its beautiful Peacock Curtain in blue and green with shimmering lights.  Toward aft is the Schooner Bar with the characteristic odor of old ships' ropes, and four huge portholes overlooking the starboard side outdoor promenade; on the opposite side are four matching porthole shaped artistic compositions with nautical collages titled "Romance At Sea" by Janice Ebbing (Norway) utilizing ropes, textiles, sails and ceramic figures, very nice!

The upper deck entrance to Jester's is flanked by two cannons, miniaturized replicas of 19th century maritime artillery, "La Joelette" and the "Brillante," with two description plates erroneously switched, but very interesting anyway.  There is also a model of  the "Kalmar Nyckel," Capt. Peter Minuit's ship; Minuet is famous for purchasing Manhattan from the Indians for 60 Dutch guilders ($24.)

Farther along aft is the Casino Royale, which RCI claims is the largest afloat.  This Las Vegas style Casino has a glitzy  Hollywood Theme that enticed us into making our usual donation.  Next is the Aquarium Bar with fishes swimming in and out of  its walls of coral formations.   However, the aquariums on this ship were not as well stocked with aquatic life as those on the Explorer.  Still though watching them relaxes the pulse and brings down the blood pressure.

Aft on Deck 4 is the middle level of the restaurant, the Strauss Dining Room:  Each level has 12 large, elegant round crystal lights and numerous other crystal lights on poles evoking an Austrian theme.

Deck 5 has the Royal Promenade and forward is the Imperial Lounge with a Chinese motif.  Bronze like lions guard the entrance flanked by huge Chinese porcelain vases from Wah Tung China Ltd.  Copies of paintings of "Chinese Warriors"  and "Yunan Chinese Beauties" are on all four walls interspersed with huge floral panels.  Most notable in this lounge entrance are two exact copies of  the Terra Cotta Guards from the burial site of Chinese Emperor Qin, famous for the unification of China and initiating construction of the Great Wall (2nd century B.C.).   In this archeological site have been found about 50,000 terra cotta warriors surrounding the Emperor's tomb.

To go to the elusive prow of the ship and the outdoor observation deck, take the starboard exit door either from this lounge or from the adjacent Connoisseur's Club (cigar smoking atmosphere and lots of leather seating).

On Deck 5 aft is the Mozart Dining Room, the top tier of the Restaurant.  It is a truly glorious sight looking down from the laurel and ribbon festooned balconies.   At the entrance of each dining room are two glass cases displaying 18th century costumes designed for "The Virtuosos" by Patrizia Zappaterra (Italy); these are masterpieces of needle work and quite stunning.

Deck 6 is mostly cabins.  The Business Services area, adorned with several models of RCI ships, is between the aft stairways, facing the Centrum and the Royal Promenade.

Deck 7 is mostly cabins.  Facing the aft Centrum and the Royal Promenade is the library (well stocked).

Deck 8 is mostly cabins and "RC On Line" with 19 internet stations (IBM).  Vincent accessed his e-mail for only $5.00 -- not bad.

Deck 9 is almost all cabins and the Concierge Club, most capably managed by Marise Gagnon: She made many things simple for us.

Deck 10 has suites and Superior Staterooms.  The views from the two Centrum Balconies are really nice from up here.  Suspended in the aft Centrum is Austdahl's (Norway) "Free Sculpture of the Solar System" which is light and space evoking, but try as we may, we never saw the ninth planet.  You must see this.  Suspended in the forward Centrum is a sort of wooden helix or something, a modern sculpture, uninteresting to us.

Deck 11 has the Fitness Center & Spa, the Solarium Pool (sea water), Whirlpools and Bar.  In the morning, between 8 am and 9 am this is deserted and wonderfully peaceful.  The Venetian Theme in this area is carried out with 15 bronze murals "Scenes of Venetian Life" by Gianni Arico (Italy) and three larger than life bronze figures titled "Meeting at the Redotto," by Philip Jackson (America).  The beauty of this area is enhanced by laurel and boxwood topiaries, while two giant Gondoliers survey it all from above.  Next is the Portofino, an upscale restaurant, the Windjammer Cafe and the Island Grill.

Deck 12 has the Spa, Club Ocean, Video Arcade, Johnny Rockets (50's style diner), Adventure Beach and the Jogging track.

Deck 13 has Rock Climbing, a full size basketball court, Adventure Dunes Golf and in-line skating.

Deck 14 has the Viking Crown Lounge which is divided into Crow's Nest, Blue Note Jazz Club and the 19th Hole Sports Bar.  On the port side there are the Seven Hearts game room and the Cloud Nine Lounge.

Deck 15 has the Skylight Chapel which can accommodate 60 people and this is the highest point on the ship.  There is a stained glass skylight and the Chapel can be accessed by the handicapped through a special motorized chair lift.

The Adventure of the Seas is truly a destination in itself considering all it has to offer in activities.

FOOD AND SERVICE
Hotel Director Martin Rissley oversees the service aboard, which is top notch.  Martin is friendly and extremely competent.  He took time to answer our questions and supplied us with many interesting bits of information.  Chief Purser Michelle McGregor was efficient and very helpful.  Gary Davies and Bob Tavadia are the nexus of the RCI Start-up Team for new ships coming on line and they are superb (more about Gary later).  This ship runs like a well oiled machine considering she is so new. . . . smooth sailing!

Executive Chef is Helga Finnsdottir, unfortunately we did not speak to her personally, but her food spoke for her.  We found the food good with flashes of excellent.  The menu is eclectic with something to please everyone (Prime rib and salads were superb).   Our waiters in the Mozart Dining Room were very efficient and friendly: Waiter Cengiz Coskus (Turkey), Asst. Waiter Cyrus Engineer (India).  The Head Waiter Juan Gay-Frontal (Spain) was a kindly gentleman with whom we enjoyed conversing.  By far, the best dessert was the Warm Chocolate Cake served with slices of pears on a lake of melted chocolate.

We dined at the Portofino ($20 per person).  The service was first rate under Manager Alex Listuzzi.  We felt the appetizers were good and the bread not so good (fresh breadsticks and crispy Italian or French bread would be better).  The Risotto with prawns was excellent and the sole was wonderful (a huge fish served table side, light and succulent).  However, RCI needs an Italian Chef if it wants to serve true Italian specialties.  The Cacciucco Livornese tasted more like a cabbage soup than a fish stew. Especially at the Portofino, meals should be prepared with authentic Italian recipes, otherwise change the names on the menu.  In addition, in such a small restaurant the pastas should be cooked to order, not parboiled without salt and held until served.  These simple changes could result in a truly exceptional restaurant, as exceptional as their desserts, such as the Tiramisu` and Zabaione with wild berries.  Our expectation for Italian food is quite high, since as Italians we have traveled throughout Italy from top to bottom and know the various regional cuisines;  there is no surprise that we were disappointed again at the Portofino as we were a year ago on the Explorer.

We found Johnny Rockets to be a great trip down memory lane.  The 50's atmosphere was created by red vinyl booths and stainless steel everywhere: juke box music, peppy service and line dancing by the servers ("YMCA" and "Staying Alive") added a fun atmosphere.  They serve the best hamburgers on board (try the St. Louis with bacon, swiss cheese, sautEed onions and pickles, or a mega caloric "Shake of the Day" like the "Elvis" made with peanut butter, bananas, vanilla ice cream, soda and a cup of whipped cream on top, "Don't Be Cruel!").  The Asst. Manager Stefania Murariu (Romania) keeps the staff hopping and our waiter Pablo Antunez (Spain via Uruguay) made our three visits there fun. Thanks!

We found Room Service excellent.  We ordered a full breakfast every morning with omelets, bacon, hash browns, rolls,  juice and coffee.  It was always on time and hot.  There is good food all over this ship and ice cream machines on the Royal Promenade and at the Windjammer.

Our most memorable meal was at Captain Remo's table with his lovely wife Tove and their son Fredrik and friends; the company was great and the food delizioso.

CABIN
We had booked Cabin #7600 wheelchair access with balcony and it was spacious and airy, but we were only in it for an hour or so when Chief Purser Gary Davies called to welcome us aboard.  He gave us an upgrade to an owner's suite, "The Himalayan," on Deck 10 (these suites are all named after famous mountains).  This was the first upgrade we ever had in 22 cruises; thanks to Gary we spent a fabulous week.

This suite has a separate bedroom with a king size bed, five mirrored armoires and a vanity/desk.  The full living room has a gold sectional sofa, two chairs and oversized coffee table, a dining area with a glass table and a full bar with refrigerator, not to mention the 48" flat screen swivel TV; the balcony has a mosaic table, two chairs and chaise lounge.  The bathroom had green granite counters (as did the rest of the suite), two sinks, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, bidet and mosaics on the wall and floor.  The color scheme is maroon, beige and gold with oak wood all around.  If this is how the other half lives, then there is no problem in acclimating.

Our cabin stewardess was Amelia and she was stupendous.  Needless to say this became one of our best cruises.

ENTERTAINMENT
Cruise Director Ken Rush was a welcome sight, we had cruised with him before and enjoy his friendliness and natural warmth.  The Director sets the tone for the passengers and he made us want to experience every show aboard.

We felt the highlight of the cruise was Studio B's "Cool Art, Hot Ice" show.  The international skating cast was "Olympic Class" and Emmanuelle Balmori (Canada) did breathtaking aerial routines to standing ovations.

The shows in the Lyric Theatre were entertaining and we especially enjoyed Tressa Thomas; she has a beautiful voice and wowed the audience.  If you get a chance, sit in the Duck and Dog Pub and listen to Pete Wickersham (guitar and vocal). You'll enjoy him.  There are plenty of activities aboard from Bingo to Art Auctions and many different levels of entertainment for the young:  Aquanauts Ages 3 to 5; Explorers ages 6 to 8; Voyagers ages 9 to 11; Navigators ages 12 to 14 and Guests ages 15 to 17 (movies, talent shows, special dinners, tournaments, dances, relay races, etc.)

ACTIVITIES AND PORTS
Depart San Juan, Puerto Rico Sunday 10:30 pm.

ORANJESTAD, ARUBA, Tuesday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm.
We took the Town and Country Tour ($32) which is a bus drive through the capital with stops at the Casibari Rock Formations, The Natural Bridge etc., very nice.  Also available are Snorkeling Tours ($37), Atlantis Submarine ($79) and Sea and Island ($48).

WILLIAMSTAD, CURACAO, Wednesday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm.
There is a Williamstad Trolley Tour ($28) which is a nice way to see this new, for us, port.  There is also a Discover Curacao Hato Caves ($36) with stalagmites, etc. and a Canoe Safari ($60).

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN, Friday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm.
There is an Island Tour ($21) an America's Cup Regatta ($78) , a Snorkel Tour ($35) and other physical activities like biking.

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS, USVI,  Saturday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm.
We have been here so many times that we do it on our own; however, there are good tours like the Sail and Snorkel ($46) and the Kon Tiki Party Raft ($34)  Don't forget Mr. Tablecloth, Mary's favorite store with great bargains.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, Sunday arrive 8 am.
We took the Old and New San Juan Tour ($23)  We started from the port and our luggage was brought with us and we were left off at the airport at noon.  We had a nice guide, Alex, who was informative.  We spent time at Fort San Cristobal (by wheelchair).  There is a steep entrance going up to the fort, but it was all down hill from there.  Interesting.  We had booked the El Yunque Rain Forest Tour ($28) but had to cancel it due to a change in the airline schedule. . . next time!

SUGGESTIONS
Although we had a great cruise on this beautiful vessel, we can think of a few suggestions to further improve it, aiming for perfection.

  • A strong chlorine odor is present in the water and ice cubes in the dining rooms and cabins.  It is recommended that purifying filters be used at the serving stations for drinking water and ice makers.  There are very effective and inexpensive filtering systems which can be utilized by RCI.
  • If RCI wants to maintain the Portofino as an Italian style restaurant on some of its ships, it should redesign the recipes on the menu to better reflect true Italian taste.  Now that RCI may merge with Princess, it will be possible to share information between the two lines, and RCI may learn from Princess something good about Italian cuisine.  Princess has some great Italian chefs.  We know Executive Chef Antonio Cereda, who does marvels with Italian dishes and bread.  We had the fortune of meeting him on the Grand Princess and the Golden Princess and we loved his pasta sauces.
  • RCI should try to arrange with American Airlines a better direct transfer of luggage from San Juan Airport to the ship without involving passengers.  At the airport the RCI staff gave us contradicting information regarding the retrieval of the luggage and inadequate wheelchair assistance.  There is a definite need for improvement in airport transfer assistance.


Overall, this was a great cruise on a new ship.  We enjoy sailing with RCI and seeing old friends while making new ones!  In fact we enjoy new ships so much that we are sailing on Carnival Pride's inaugural cruise, December 30, 2001.  Look for our next review early in 2002.  Happy Holidays!



VNFinelli@mindspring.cm

January 2002 Read Less
First, my apologies for not getting this written sooner. It has been crazy since my return. If I fail to cover anything in this review that you may have a question about, please feel free to email me at bill.kennedy@fmr.com. Having said ... Read More
First, my apologies for not getting this written sooner. It has been crazy since my return. If I fail to cover anything in this review that you may have a question about, please feel free to email me at bill.kennedy@fmr.com. Having said that....on to my review...

This was our family's first cruise. I had wanted to go on a cruise for years and finally convinced all those in my family that lack sea legs that it was a good idea. What a way to start my vacation, I tripped over my own suitcase trying to get out of the house and landed on the concrete, scrapping my face and popping the lenses out of my glasses...LOL

We departed out of Boston on a 6:50 a.m. flight on Saturday. This is where I met the Boston contingency of our Cruise Critic Group. What a great group of people. We had an awesome time with them all week. Thanks Tony, Nancy, Jim, Maria, Costas, Lou, Vin, Gail, Carolyn, Buster, Reina, Mike, Ben and all the rest of that crazy bunch. You really made the week for us. We had such a good time.

We arrived in San Juan a day early and stayed at the Ritz Carlton. The hotel was beautiful and the service was excellent. They also have the largest casino on Puerto Rico with a 25 x 25-foot television screen that made the Patriot's win over Pittsburgh that much sweeter! The only drawback of the hotel (if you see it that way, which it didn't bother me) is that the hotel is directly across the street from the airport runway, so a plane takes off every 5 minutes or so. But for me, there is nothing that a Pina Colada can't overcome.

We arrived at the ship at 12:40 p.m. even though it stated boarding could not take place until 2:00 p.m. I think it was smart to get there early because they were boarding the ship already. We were in line for about 20 minutes and then herded into the terminal where you sit in chairs placed in rows. They move 1 row at a time into the main part of the terminal for check-in. There is a small duty-free shop inside the terminal, but I found the prices to be just o.k. Worth waiting until you are on the ship or in a port. That being said, we were on the ship at 1:30 p.m. I heard that people who arrived after 2:00 p.m. had waits from an hour to two and half-hours, so if you can get there early, it's worth it.

Once on the ship, it is absolutely beautiful. Everything everyone has said about the ship is true and no need to rehash the same info here. The ship also still smells new, especially in the Schooner Bar, you can smell the beautiful wood. We immediately went to the cabin to drop our bags and begin exploring. We had a family stateroom (cabin # 8200). The room was awesome. It fit all 5 of us great. This particular room, because of it's location on the ship has a little more room than other family staterooms, so if you are booking a family stateroom try to get room 8200. When we walked in there was a sofa and 2 chairs. A separate room with a curtain had a queen size bed and another room with a closing door, contained 2 bunk beds for the kids. The bathroom amazed me. How they could fit so much in such a small space. Each of the 3 rooms had a full closet with shelves, so there was more than enough room for all our stuff. The height under the bed was also great. It allowed up to easily fit all of our roller luggage underneath it. Our room steward Nathalie arrived immediately and introduced herself. SHE WAS AWESOME! She took such great care of us all week. We had a stomach bug run through the cabin and hit each of us for 2 days on the cruise. Nathalie would coordinate when to clean the room that was best for us. She really made the week for us. I commended her to Martin the Hotel Director. Martin, I know you are watching, so make sure you go thank Nathalie for us,. You promised!!!

The first things we did were check out our table location in the dining room and sent my sister-in-law to make all our spa appointments. This is key since the spa appointments fill up, especially on sea days. Next, I was off to find my partners in crime....Reina, Mike and Ben. I called them on the phone. I went to meet them in their Owner's Suite...It was beautiful. We then ventured out for lunch at the Windjammer together. The food was very good for a buffet with an excellent selection. What other's have said though is true...the food can be lukewarm sometimes and by the time you get to your table and through all the selections on the buffet it can be cold. Best idea, get your hot selections last right before you sit down.

The first night we went to dinner (first seating) and it was done at 5:30 p.m. to accommodate the muster drill at 10:00 p.m. Our tablemates were great. We really had a nice time with them all week. They had sailed on Voyager last year. It was two couples and a single guy from Cleveland (they guys had all been college roommates) If they are reading this, hello to Tom, Tony, Julie, Wendy and Jim ! Dinner in the dining room was "good". I am a food snob, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Never did we have a bad meal. It was always good with a good selection. Our waiter Zafer and assistant waiter Cornel were great. Thank you guys for a great week.! You have to understand when they are making 5,000 Filet Mignons for an evening, you can't grill them. They need to be done in a convection oven, so you loose that "grilled" taste. I like my meat rare and everytime I ordered it rare it came out rare. Great job kitchen, that is not an easy feet. We were at table 349, which was along the windows. It was a great location. There were 2 tables of 10 or 12 across the aisle from us. It contained 3 sets of parents in total and all the kids were under 10. These kids were so obnoxious, fighting, climbing under the tables (including ours) and running around constantly. These parents did not do a thing. The third morning, I complained to the headwaiter, saying that I was afraid a waiter might get hurt with these kids under foot. He promised to do something, but nothing was ever done. That is why there was no tip for him at the end of the week. These people and their kids were a pain in the butt. The women in the group sat at the blackjack table the first night at sea and did nothing but bitch. The husbands looked like they were going out to change the oil in the car on the formal nights in the Dining Room. They arrived in short sleeve shirts and shorts on Formal Night's. The headwaiters should really turn people away when they show up on a formal night like this. These families (especially the adults) just totally lacked any respect or class the whole week. And by the looks of the diamonds on the wives hands, they could afford it, they just lacked respect....

Just after we departed San Juan on Sunday night, the ship started rocking. Not bad by my standards, but my wife and daughter were having a hard time with it. We had 30 mile an hour winds and choppy seas all night and thru the first day at sea. My daughter took Bonnine, but the first day at sea, I bought her the bracelets in the General Store on board. Neither worked 100% for her. I think it was a little psychological for her and she was starting to get that bug that went through the cabin. On the sea day, I decided to lean how to play blackjack. Bad idea....Lost my shirt this week. Great dealers all week. Especially, Samantha from the U.K. She was hysterical. We laughed our butt off with her.

Now to talk about the ports of call. I will not bore you with every detail. I will try to tell you some good hints here and things that helped. First, all ports are docking ports. AOS does not tender at any of these ports. Additionally, I found in each port close to the dock an Internet Cafe (I didn't get to go at each port though). Save your money on the ship. Internet access is $.50 per minute on the ship. The Internet cafe in Aruba was $3.00 for a half-hour. I did not do the cyber cabin option, so I can't help anyone there.

Aruba
We did the Atlantis Submarine in the morning, which was really fun, especially if you have kids. We did the sunset catamaran cruise late in the day, which was great too. I had decided since we were going to be in Aruba until 1:00 a.m., we would go for dinner off the ship. I had made reservations at El Gaucho over the Internet a few weeks before we left. It was AWESOME. El Gaucho is an Argentinean beef restaurant. I had the best Filet Mignon I have ever had in my life. It was huge. The price for dinner including tip for 5 of us was $137. Very reasonable. Take a cab there from the dock. You can walk it, but it's a little bit of a hike.

Curacao
We did the snorkel trip here. It was great. Huge fish and a great tug wreck you swim over. Other than that, we had a lazy day in Curacao because we had the Cruise Critic party at 3:30 p.m. Thanks again Reina and Mike for coordinating the party. It was great. And a huge thanks to Captain Remo for his great hospitality. As Reina has stated already, the entire executive staff was there. Their presence at the party showed how important it is to the Captain and executive crew that people have a wonderful time and report back about what a great vacation they had. The issues posted here are watched closely by the Captain and his staff (Hello again Martin !!!) As I have stated already, Martin and the Captain always made sure to greet me the remainder of the week. It really made you feel special to constantly be asked how everything was going or if they could do any more for you. They couldn't, I was having too much fun!!!

St. Maarten
I was ill this day so I had to forgo the excursions. The rest of our crew went on the island tour and horseback riding on the beach. Horseback riding was pretty good, but the island tour was not. Our group was on an overflow bus and the tour guide never showed up, so $80 for a bus ride we could have done for $1.50! I complained to the excursion desk on board but never heard anything back about getting my money refunded. Martin, if your watching could you have someone from the Excursion Desk email me at the above listed address? I would really appreciate it! This is where to do your duty free shopping! Don't go to the first shop off the ship though, there are tons in town that really compete with each other. Examples: Cigarettes - $10.99 per carton (usually $50.00 per carton here in Boston). 1 liter bottle of Grand Marnier - $16.95 (usually $38-$42 at home). Both these prices beat the ship store by a lot.

St. Thomas
Was planning on going to St. John to Trunk Bay but still being sick I stuck close to the ship. Just walked to town. LONG WALK. It took me about 45 minutes and it was hot as hell. Took a cab back. Take a cab to town here folks. You can bargain price the cab drivers here. DO NOT PAY MORE THAN $2.50 each way to town. They will try to quote you $3.00 and up, but tell them someone else quoted you $2.50 and start to walk away. They will come down in price.

Well, that about does it for my review. Again, if I missed anything, please email me at the above email address and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

My thanks go out to everyone who uses Cruise Critic's message boards. Everyone has provided great information for me as a first time cruiser. I hope that my review here can help others as well. To my Cruise Critic boat mates, thank you for making this an awesome vacation for my family and me. Most of all, thank you to Captain Remo, his beautiful wife Tovo, Martin, Kirk, Darin and all the staff aboard AOS for making this the best vacation on earth. We will definitely sail on this beautiful vessel again.

Bon Voyage for now !

bill.kennedy@fmr.com

January 2002 Read Less
I'm going to go into great detail with this review, just like I did on the last one. Please keep in mind that this is the largest cruise ship in the world if my review appears too run a little long . My husband Brian and I are in our ... Read More
I'm going to go into great detail with this review, just like I did on the last one. Please keep in mind that this is the largest cruise ship in the world if my review appears too run a little long . My husband Brian and I are in our mid-thirties and this was our fifth cruise together and the second one of which I have written a review.

12/09/01 ----- San Juan, Puerto Rico
We just returned to San Juan from a 7 day cruise on Carnival Destiny so you may see me make a lot of comparisons in my review. We left the boat when our color tag was called at about 10:30. We were hoping to hang out for awhile longer since we would not be able to board Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas until 2pm. We got off the ship and took a cab to Barrachino's restaurant where we had been told by the cruise director on Carnival that they would store our luggage for a few hours (we tipped $5). That was very nice because it would have been really difficult to walk around Old San Juan with 5 pieces of luggage. The sidewalks were barely wide enough for 2 people to pass each other let alone drag luggage without it falling off the curb into traffic.

Then we were at a loss for things to do. We had already explored Old San Juan the week before when we arrived in Puerto Rico. We were really tired because we had stayed up really late the night of the 8th because it was our last night on the Carnival Destiny and we had put off packing as long as possible. So we just walked around. We walked down to the gates of the governor's mansion. The street leading to the entrance gate was all decorated for Christmas and the house itself had a very large wreath and many pretty decorations as well.

We were getting a little hungry so we stopped into a McDonald's to eat. Since we just got done with a 7 day cruise, we were used to eating like every 2 hours so we couldn't wait to get on the Adventure of Seas to eat! I can't remember what we ordered, but the kid working the counter didn't get it right and it was doubtful that he spoke any English. He was getting very frustrated with us and finally his supervisor who hardly spoke any English came over and straightened it out. The frustration with us for speaking English and not Spanish ticked us off a little bit. I mean we are after all still in a territory of the United States, right? Are the children in Puerto Rico not taught to speak English in School? And what happened to being polite to customers instead of getting mad at them? But hey, we could be a little crabby too from lack of sleep.

After our less than satisfying lunch we walked back to Barrachino's to pick up our luggage and call a cab. The cab took us to the new Royal Caribbean terminal, which we are told is the largest and newest cruise terminal in the world. He pulled right up to a porter and gave our bags directly to him ( On Carnival, we had to lug our bags with us for the 2 hours it took to get to the security point). So already we were thinking, this was great and happily we got into a line that wasn't too large and was let inside the terminal (we didn't have to wait outside at all). Once inside, we followed the crowd to many rows of chairs and this is where the process got a little confusing. There wasn't any one directing traffic so no one really knew where to go, so we all just took some seats. Then we observed a line that was moving directly to the left of the chairs. So we all got up and joined the line which promptly stopped. Another line was now forming on the right side of the chairs and now it was moving. So we weren't sure if we were where we were supposed to be or not. The other line kept moving while ours moved a little.

While we waited in line, a couple of people dressed in bright orange jumpsuits came through the line cooling people off with fans and misting people down with spray bottles and being extremely funny. We found out later that they were the Royal Caribbean "Krooz Komics" who were a big highlight of the cruise we were about to take. But even with this amusing distraction our line still was not going anywhere fast. We all observed people that were just coming into the terminal get into that other line and move right on through. When we finally got close to the front row of chairs, we saw someone directing people from the other line to sit in the front row of chairs. She would then wait for the line of people she just let through to get a little smaller, then she would tell those people sitting down to get up and go through ahead of us. Then she took more people from that other line on the right of the chairs. We were all getting pretty disgusted by this and finally someone spoke up and wanted to know why our line to the left wasn't moving. She got pretty snippy saying that we weren't in the right line and blah blah blah. Well if someone would have directed us instead of just ignoring the mile long line that had formed, maybe we all wouldn't have been so upset. Finally she let us through and we never did figure out what all the rows of chairs were for.

Once we got past that, the line went fairly fast to the check in counter. We got our super charge cards and were then directed to another line to talk to a supervisor. Brian had asked what the cost and possibility of a room upgrade would be and we were directed to a supervisor. There was a small line formed there and apparently we weren't the only ones that had that in mind. When we got up to her, we asked and she looked at our super charge card and said, "but you are already in a category D7 balcony room" We said we were wondering about upgrading to a suite. She said it would be $1000 more each. Oh, ok - never mind! It never hurts to try, right? So we proceeded along and boarded the wondrous Adventure of the Seas.

12/09/01 ----- Day 1 ---- Afternoon aboard the Adventure of the Seas
The moment we set foot on the Adventure of the Seas, we were awestruck. Only the words "WOW" would come out of either of our mouths. And this was just within walking a few feet onto Deck 4 of the boat and looking at an elevator area and over a banister into a bar (It was the Schooner Bar, but I didn't know it then). We used the stairs to begin the journey to our room. The stairs are more spread out and not as steep as Carnival's and easier to take even up many flights. The entire ship right down to the carpeting was brand new, beautiful and cushy. Everywhere we turned, we saw a piece of artwork and this is just on the way to our room! We were surprised that artwork was even displayed on the very hallways to the cabins. There were many millions of dollars worth of art pieces and displays on this ship.

Our room was located on deck 7 at the aft of the ship just down the hall from a beautiful library facility. The library was designed with dark woods and warm colors and extremely comfortable furniture. It was 3 stories with the Internet cafe on the upper floor and a sort of cruise consultant office with models ships of the Royal Caribbean fleet on the deck below. This library was open 24 hours and was very large with the most incredible selection of books written both in English and Spanish. By comparison, Carnival's libraries are open maybe an hour or two everyday and are quite small. I liked it in there a lot and always wished I could spend time in it every time I passed it to and from our room. But it seemed like we were always doing something and I didn't pick up a book during the entire cruise.

When we got to our room we found that the door was propped open. It looked ready so we went in but didn't want to get comfortable just in case. I found our cabin steward Teodore down the hall and he wasn't upset that we just let ourselves in but said he wasn't quite ready. We said that was okay, and that we were going to just drop off our carry on bag and begin exploring the ship.

Our exploration took a great deal of time because this boat is 140,000 tons of non stop beauty. Carnival's largest ship the Destiny that we just got off of was 101,000 tons by comparison. The attractive color scheme on this ship along the hallways to the cabins and in the cabins themselves was in mostly blues and peaches. It was SO different from any of the Carnival ships that we have been on that it is hard to describe because the differences are like night and day. At either end on The Adventure of the Seas on many of the decks, we could gaze down onto the Promenade Deck. The Promenade was a wondrous street with shops and bars and cafes running alongside complete with lamp posts. There was a restored purple and beige 1939 Citroen Roadster with leather interior in front of the Gravity Sports Bar (that was a sports bar with TV's obviously) and many little tables with chairs right outside the pubs and cafes so you could sit on the "street" and have your drink or whatever. Many of the interior cabins had windows that looked down on the promenade - so I'm sure it was like looking down on a street. I hope you can picture this from my description because it was quite amazing. We stopped at the Duck and Dog Pub, an English type pub for a Guinness. We were happy to find Royal Caribbean also had Guinness, but like Carnival, they didn't have any other beer I liked except Amstel.

There was a little stairway that led from the Promenade street down to the largest casino at sea. The Casino Royale Hollywood was really nice and had a classic early Hollywood theme to it. At the entrance, there was a hole in the floor enclosed with glass that you could walk on. In the hole was Hollywood memorabilia (ruby red slippers, etc), gambling tokens, film reels, old time newspapers and stuff like that. Many of the slot machines had TV or movie related themes, like the I Dream of Jeanie, the Munsters, Pink Panther and those kind of things. The roulette wheels had pewter like tops with Marilyn Monroe on one and King Kong on another.

We tried to see everything this first day, but it was just impossible. The many bars and lounges we walked through that first day were really nice. Another difference between the Adventure of the Seas and carnival was that Carnival's lounges are all like rooms off to the sides while on this ship they were so open. The bars weren't in separate rooms, but were just there when you came down or up a flight of stairs or out of the elevators. It is very hard to explain, but it made it all seem so roomy and nice because there were not many walls and doors separating areas. The Schooner Bar was probably the nicest in my opinion. It was located just outside the casino and had a sailing motif with really dark wood and boat type decorations. It smelled so good - you know - that nice wood smell. Most of the bars had no smoking sections too which was really nice. Brian's favorite, the Champagne Bar was completely non smoking and was decorated with tubes that had bubbles in it to look like champagne. At this bar you could order a bottle of champagne or wine and if you didn't finish it, they would cork it and keep it for you until another day. Then we came across Studio B which was the ice rink. It is too cool to have an ice rink on a cruise ship! And it isn't just a rink, it is a showroom with many seats. They have professional ice skaters on this cruise that put on a fantastic show. Then we found the Lyric Theater where they will have all the other shows. They have a peacock curtain on the stage that is just beautiful. The seating is just like movie theater seating is which was for us a lot better than Carnival because there are very few things to obstruct your view. They also have drink holders on the chair's arms rather than tables so there is room for a lot more seats than what Carnival has.

By this time several hours had passed and we haven't even gone back to our room to see if our bags had arrived to unpack yet! On the Promenade deck, there were guys dressed like fools stopping people to talk to them. No, really they were dressed in medieval jester garb. They were from the restaurant Portofino's which is an alternative dining experience located on deck 12 that cost $20 per person. It came highly recommended by most of the reviews we had read, so we decided to make a reservation. We asked him if he knew which night that the main dining room wasn't serving anything real interesting and he said that Tuesday night was Caribbean night. That sounds like a night we wouldn't mind missing, so that was when we reserved to go to Portofino's. Next we made a quick tour of the magnificent three story dining room to check on our table assignment before heading off to explore the upper decks.

There are 15 decks on the Adventure of the Seas compared to 12 on the Destiny. On deck 11 we checked out the spa and gym where we would spend a lot of time through out the week to come. Outside from the spa is the Solarium Pool area which is an adults only area. It has one pool and two large hot tubs. There was also a larger main pool area for everyone that was very large with 2 pools and 4 hot tubs (I think - don't remember for sure). Also on deck 11 we found the Island Grill and Windjammer Cafe which were the buffet style dining options on the ship. There were floor to ceiling windows looking out so it was really bright and cheery. There were more areas to get food at and though I never thought the food was quite as good as Carnival's, there was more of a selection. The tables did not have silverware settings like Carnival so we always had to remember to get silverware. We only ate here a couple of times for lunch and I will tell you why later. Can you say Johnny Rockets???

We continued up and up and found the Sky Chapel on deck 15. It was a very nice little chapel for anyone who would like to get married on the ship. There wasn't an elevator that went all the way to the top, but the stairs were set up to take people who were in wheelchairs or who couldn't walk up stairs to the top.

One deck down from the Sky Chapel (deck 14) were a couple of more bars, the Blue Moon Piano - Jazz bar had floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the pool areas which were on deck 11 and the jogging track which was on deck 12 below us. On the other side of the Blue Moon is the Hole in One Bar (golfing decor) that overlooks the Sports Deck. This bar has a contraption that is enclosed in glass that has a bunch of golf balls that go through a series of pulleys and chains that depending how the ball hits goes on in whatever direction and goes through loops and other maze type things until it reaches the bottom where it starts all over again. It is really hard to describe but tons of fun to watch. Also on this deck is the High Note Piano Lounge and the Seven of Hearts Card room. This particular piano lounge was pretty much just a room with a piano in it and we missed any activity that took place here. The card room had all sorts of board games and a couple of tables to sit down and play.

Then we went down to deck 13 which is the most incredible deck you would ever expect to see on a cruise ship. The Sports Deck has a basketball/volleyball court, in-line skating rink, a 9 hole miniature golf course, a golf driving simulator AND a rock climbing wall! We decided to play a game of putt golf right away. I kicked Brian's butt.

We continued our tour by returning to deck 12 where we found the arcade. It was very nice and much larger than any we had seen before on previous cruises. Just outside the arcade, we found our favorite place to eat and indulge in sinfully delicious milkshakes. Johnny Rockets is a 50's style diner complete with the nickel juke boxes on the tables. The terrific old 50's - 70's rock music was blaring when we walked in and the entire staff turned to us and hollered some very cheerful "hellos". We were seated in a booth and fries and onion rings with ranch dressing were brought to the table. This is great! All the food is free but the shakes and drinks are not. But boy are they GOOD! We decided to have the shake of the day which was the Orange Creamsicle flavor and it was to die for. Brian ordered one of the many specialty burgers and I had a BLT. They were both very good and the shake filled us up to the top. We knew we would definitely be coming back to this place - and we did so every single day.

It was time to head back to the room and see if the luggage was there yet. It was so we spent the next hour unpacking. The room was very roomy and only slightly smaller than the room we had on the Destiny. It was a lot nicer. The bed was an actual queen size bed, not two twins pushed together. The bedding was very pretty and the bed was decorated with throw pillows that Teodore, our cabin steward had arranged in a different way each day. There was a very comfortable couch and a little glass coffee table. The bathroom was very small but the shower was so cool! It was circular and had a shower door instead of a curtain! There was plenty of closet and drawer space and the suitcases fit under the bed. The balcony was wider than the one on the Destiny and much more private. The door to the balcony was a sliding glass door instead of a regular open and close - which the wind always seemed to grab and slam - on the Destiny. It was just a nicer room in every aspect. Also we were happy to see that the Adventure of the Seas had laundry service so we got together everything we wanted pressed and set it out.

12/09/01 ----- Day 1 ---- Early evening aboard the Adventure of the Seas
Before supper, we went to the Promenade street for the World of Adventure Parade. People lined the outer edges of the street while the staff closed off the middle with a rope that they had guests hold up. Then the parade began. Our cruise director, Ken Rush and 2 singers appeared on the bridge above the street. They entertained with music while Ken announced who was coming down the street in the parade. The Krooz Komics came through on stilts dancing and waving and having a grand old time. It is amazing how good they were on those stilts! The parade had some kind of "world" theme with crew and entertainers dressed in outfits depicting different parts and sport like activities from around the world. We had never seen anything like it before and it was pretty cool. It was hard to see unless you had a view from right up front. But at least everyone got to see the Krooz Komics because they were on stilts and I thought the best part anyway.

Then we headed to supper in the Mozart Dining room. There were three dining rooms making up three floors of this beautiful, gigantic and absolutely breathtaking room. Piano and cello music was played during dining from the second floor. I wish we were on a lower floor because the gorgeous chandelier was not visible from our level on the third floor. This time we got the table for two that we requested (we didn't on Carnival which was fine because we completely enjoyed visiting with our table companions) Our Waiter's name was Moses and he was from Jamaica. Our Assistant Waiter, Mustafa was from Turkey and our Head Waiter's name was Jasper from Romania. We dined at the late seating on this cruise which was at 8:30. We had the early seating on the Destiny at 5:45 so it was kind of difficult to get used to the new schedule. We wanted to try both to see which seating we liked better. They both have their pros and cons, but I personally like the earlier seating a little better because it takes so long to eat all the courses. At the earlier seating, you can be done eating by 7:15 or so and have the rest of the night ahead of you to digest. At the late seating, when we finally finished sometimes barely before 10:00, it was hard to conjure up the energy to do anything but go to bed and let the fat settle onto our bodies.

We finished eating with just enough time to head back to our rooms, grab our life jackets and head to our muster station for the boat drill. This is always the crummiest part of any cruise, but it usually only lasts a few minutes. This one, however; seemed to go on longer than usual. They finally let us go after 25 minutes by announcing that we were pulling away from San Juan. I know this is a very necessary thing to do, but who likes to think of emergencies when they are on vacation?!

We then headed to the casino for complementary gaming lessons. We wanted to learn how to play craps. The girl who taught us, bless her heart, was extremely patient with us and went over many things again and again. We finally grasped a very basic understanding and played for awhile. It was it was a bit more than we could concentrate on and when we finally got to a point where we broke even, we called it quits. We decided to stick to the less stressful games that we totally understand and feel more comfortable playing. I didn't note it, but Brian says we won $65 the first night. Then exhausted from this very long day we decided to return to our cabin and call it a night.

12/10/01 --- Adventure of the Seas ----- Day at Sea ------ Formal night
At 7:30 we were up and off to the Ship Shape Center. It was the best fitness facility I have ever been in (which isn't very many sadly). I immediately fell in love with a machine that you step on and jog and work your arms at the same time. They had about 12 of them and I never had any problem getting one all week. After a little bit of a work out, we headed outside to the Solarium Pool. This was one of our favorite places. The pool had a couple of lion head fountains spraying a stream of water into the pool and there was also a hidden fountain that would spray lines of water on us at different intervals. We had a good time trying to figure out when the water would start again to try to avoid it. We had the pool and the entire Solarium all to ourselves for awhile. We sat in one of the two large hot tubs and then relaxed on the comfortably padded deck loungers against the floor to ceiling window that the sun was shining brilliantly through. Ahhhhh, it was so nice. The hot tubs were actually heated and hot tubs are supposed to be heated, but the Destiny's didn't seem to be. The deck was completely surrounded with windows (the area above the pool was exposed to the sun) so there were no wooden railings or anything to obstruct the view.

We went to Johnny Rockets for shakes. The shake of the day was the "Elvis" - which was peanut butter and banana of course! It was excellent! We spent the day doing numerous things, mostly exploring areas we missed yesterday. Up near the bow was a peek-a-boo window where we could look in on the captain's bridge and there was also a helicopter pad at the very front of the ship. I would like to see a helicopter land there. I'm sure it couldn't be done too easily, but it would still be a cool thing to see if we weren't moving of course. In front of the pad is the bow where we did the "Titanic - King of the world" thing. That was extremely cool. It is hard to explain the feeling of the ocean spread out in front of you while this 140,000 ton ship is propelling you forward from behind you. It was such a beautiful sunny day. The wind whipped through our hair and well.... Wow.

Then we explored the outer areas of some decks and found shuffleboard! Oh for fun. Brian and I played a few games making up our own rules and I kicked his behind once again. I may be no match for him in many sports but apparently I'm pretty good at miniature golf and shuffleboard! There were many activities we could have joined in on throughout the day. Royal Caribbean has the belly flop competitions and other silly things just like Carnival, but of course they also have the entire sports deck and ice rink to play on. We didn't go out there this day because we thought it would be jammed packed with people since we were not at a port. I was very happy to just play shuffleboard.

We headed inside, went to the casino and played black jack on and off through out the day. Just about every time we were in the vicinity of the casino, we stopped in for a few hands. The blackjack shoes are different than any I have seen before. Carnival has 6 deck shoes and they shuffle when they come to the card they insert about 3/4 of the way through the decks. On Royal Caribbean, the dealer would insert the discarded cards after a couple of hands right back into an automated shuffling machine and I guess it shuffles randomly. This cuts down on time when the dealer would be shuffling instead of taking your money. I like seeing the dealer shuffle. Then I know all the cards are there and it is easy to set a time when to quit. Usually we would play one or two shoes. Now we had to set a definite time when to quit. We won a little over $100 through out the day.

Ken, the cruise director made an announcement that there was going to be a bingo game in the Imperial Lounge for a room upgrade to an owners' suite. We don't play bingo on cruises unless we are really bored, but this sounded better than a cash prize to us. So we decided to go. The Imperial Lounge had an Japanese motif that was really cool. It cost $30 to play bingo which we thought was pretty ridiculous once we found out that the room upgrade game wasn't going to be played until later that day anyway, so we decided not to play. I wonder who won and what the room was like. That would have been awesome - but we were very happy with our balcony room. And since I didn't see the room that was given away, I don't know what we missed out on.

We went to a wine tasting in the dining room. We have been to these before, but this one was a little different in that for the $6.00 fee, you get a very little cup thing on a chain to drink your wine out of. It was also supposed to be your souvenir. This was pretty silly because it was so shallow that when the waiters came around to fill it, many times it overflowed onto the tablecloth. We ate a lot of cheese and tried to listen to the speaker that was trying to educate us on the wines, but even though we really didn't get that much wine, by the time we were half way through the wines, all the tables were talking amongst themselves and having a good time. So we didn't learn anything, but it was enjoyable.

We listened to the music of the Rosario Strings at the lobby Aquarium bar where I also had an awesome banana daiquiri. The band consisted of a piano, cello and a violin player. They played the prettiest relaxing melodies I have ever heard. The Aquarium Bar was a bar that had a couple of large aquariums. There were not very many fish though. We were kind of disappointed in that one because we had pictured it quite differently from what we had read about it. But THAT was no big deal. It was still a really nice and quiet bar with comfortable furniture.

We had Filet Mignon at supper that night. I ordered my steak medium and it was well done. I can eat medium well, but I don't like well done too much. Moses had no problem taking it back for another one. I cut into it and it wasn't much better, but I wasn't going to complain again. I don't like being a pain in the butt so I was just going to eat it. But Moses appeared from behind me and whisked it away muttering that it was way too done! The third steak was perfect. Brian told me later that Moses was right behind me waiting for me to cut into it looking to make sure it was right. That was really nice. Moses, Mustafa and Jasper showed up with a birthday cake for Brian even though it wasn't his birthday. It had coconut in the frosting. Nummm.

>From here we went to the "Can't Stop the Rock" show in the Lyric Theatre. It was incredible and by far the best show we have ever seen on a cruise. There were four vocalists and lots of dancers. One girl sang "I will always love you" that gave Whitney a run for her money (of course I have always liked Dolly's version better). They sang and danced to songs from classic movies like "Where the Boys Are", "All that Jazz", "The Graduate", "Valley of the Dolls", "The Rose" and modern ones like "She's All That" The crowd gave them a standing ovation. Next we went to Jester's Night Club. This was a two story disco with a fantastic medieval motif. They were playing 80s stuff when we got there so we were like "hey cool - let's dance!" Almost immediately, the music changed to the modern dance stuff. Darn it anyway. But we danced a little bit anyway. It was fun and we felt young again for a little while anyway. We decided to call it quits and went back to our room around midnight. We slept really good with the balcony door open letting the sound of the ocean put us to sleep.

12/11/01 ----- Day 3 ----- Aruba
We were up at 7am again. We went to the Solarium for a swim. I was determined to get a little bit of a work out since we did not go to the gym. I am not a very good swimmer, so it didn't take very long to wear me out. We sat in a hot tub and relaxed. Again we had the Solarium area to ourselves. The early mornings are a great time to take advantage of the solitude. We didn't notice the day before that there were shower stalls right next to the hot tubs. That was a nice thing to have. Next we went to breakfast in the Island Grill or maybe it was the Windjammer Cafe. The Adventure had their buffet style dining set up split into two restaurants. They were right next to each other and from what we could see they both served about the same buffet. I don't know why they didn't just give it one name. It was the usual buffet style breakfast, so Brian had an omelet. I had cereal, fruit, part of Brian's omelet and of course coffee.

We were docked in Aruba, but we did not get off the ship. We were just there the previous Friday on the Carnival Destiny and did a terrific excursion that covered the whole island. We also bought some edam and gouda cheeses at a local grocery store that was currently being kept chilled in the fridge in our room. One of these days when we are not so full, we plan to snack on them. Like we are ever going to actually be hungry on this cruise. I would have liked to have gone snorkeling at Baby Beach since many people have said that was the best snorkeling they have ever done. Oh well, maybe next time since of course there will be a next time! We spent a few hours just relaxing on our balcony and enjoying the quiet time. We had good intentions of going up to the sports deck, but never got around to it.

That day, Brian and I did something that we have never done before. We decided to pamper ourselves and get massages. We were both pretty shy about the whole thing, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. For $85, we were rubbed down and had all our stresses - which were not many - away. I didn't want the hour to end. Who would have thought that a person could be so relaxed. When it was over, the girl left me to get dressed and came back with products that she believed I needed to continue my "treatment". I didn't have a massage for continued treatments. I just wanted the treat part. It was difficult to decline the products because I was in such a relaxed state that just about everything she said to me I could only manage a nod through a euphoric daze. Brian who is so much better at turning down sales solicitations that he doesn't need than I am, came out with $100 worth of lotions. I guess he was in a deeper daze than me. The pitch that nailed him was the girl telling him that after each shower, his "wife" should rub the lotion into his back. Yeah, in your dreams buddy. The next day when we eventually came down from our relaxed state, he decided he would have rather spent that money on yet another massage. Oh well, live and learn. The rest of the day we walked around on a cloud. I don't think much of anything would have annoyed us that day. We wondered from bar to bar just relaxing and having a drink here and there. We didn't even talk that much. We would once in a while just sigh and comment on what a nice day it was. I wish I could be in that state all the time.

We had a reservation for the fine Italian restaurant, Portofino's that night. There is a $20 cover charge per person to dine here. We ate a lot of food and drank a bottle of wine. We had shrimp appetizer, Caesar salads, scallops and a really good Tiramisu for dessert. It was good. We certainly wouldn't think twice about spending more than $20 off the ship in a fine restaurant and we have, but we didn't necessarily find Portofino's to be as fine as we expected or that much better than the food and presentation in our dining room. The wait staff was good, but they were very busy. There was a lot of down time between courses. But since we were still in our "relaxed state of mind from the massages" it didn't bother us too much. It was a nice dining experience and we're glad we did it. After we finally finished eating we headed to the casino, where we promptly lost $200 playing black jack - oops! We must have been a little too relaxed and not cautious enough.

Then we went to the Love and Marriage Game Show in the Lyric Theatre. Ken, the cruise director picked 3 couples from the audience. One newlyweds, one married for awhile and the other married the longest - 51 years. They had the spouses leave while Ken asked silly questions that the spouses that stayed on stage had to figure out what their other halves would answer. It was really funny. We enjoyed it very much. We would not have done very well with the questions they asked, like "what is the sexiest piece of clothing that your wife owns" or "where is the weirdest place you have ever - you know" We played along with each other and always had completely different answers. At 11:30, there was a deck party at the pool which we decided to check it out. It was windy and somewhat rainy and crowded by the pools, but it was quiet at the Solarium pools. We decided to get into our swimsuits and sit in a hot tub for the second time today. We could still hear the music, and it was quiet and nice. We watched our 1am departure from Aruba while sitting on our balcony and then went to bed.

12/12/01 ----- Day 4 --- Wednesday ------ Curacao
On this day we slept in until 9am, grabbed a quick bite in the Island Grill and made our way back to the room to relax on the balcony with some coffee. >From our balcony, we looked down upon the town of Willemstad, Curacao at the brightly colored Dutch colonial houses and shops. The Queen Juliana Bridge that connected the two sides of the town loomed largely in the background. Curacao which is the largest of the Netherlands Antilles located 39 miles off the coast of Venezuela between Aruba and Bonaire, was a beautiful port with a landscape that appeared to be similar to Aruba's.

Since we had not been to Curacao before, we decided to get off the Adventure of the Seas and walk around. This was the first time we had been off the ship since we boarded on Sunday so it was the first time we saw the expanse of it. It went on forever - just amazing. We tried taking pictures with the whole ship in view and had to keep going further and further away from it. The shopping district was on the other side of the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. We started to cross it and realized that it was moving to allow a boat to pass by. When we reached the other end, we waited for the bridge to return to the land and we stepped off. We went shopping and found the stores and stands were very much the same as elsewhere, but all the touristy trinket type stuff was pretty cheap. So we bought a couple of items and I bought a hot pink short outfit for $10. If it shrinks or falls apart in the wash, I'm not out that much. Venezuelan vendors set up a fish and produce along the floating market which is along the waterside where they tie up their boats. I didn't recognize some of the produce and I definitely couldn't tell you what kind of fish we saw, but it was interesting to look at. We were going to do a trolley town tour, but the guide didn't have change for a $50 bill. I guess it would have been wiser to schedule the excursion from the ship even though it would have cost more. But we had not planned on doing this tour until we saw the trolley. We read up on both Aruba and Curacao prior to doing the cruises and came to the conclusion that they were similar. We did a fantastic excursion of Aruba on the Destiny the week before so we don't feel like we missed out on anything in Curacao. It was getting pretty warm, so we decided to head back to the ship.

We went for a swim in the solarium pool, relaxed for awhile and then headed to Johnny Rockets for lunch. We had burgers and a strawberry shake. Oh, strawberry is my absolute favorite and I can't tell you enough about how good those shakes were. You are going to just have to get one yourself when you sail on this cruise ship! If the shakes aren't enough of an incentive to book this cruise, I don't know what could be. The staff at Johnny Rockets danced to "Old Time Rock and Roll" They were so much fun to watch. After leaving Johnny Rockets feeling like the blobs we were, we went to the Ship Shape Center and each did a steam. There was a steam room and a sauna in the changing rooms. But of course they were gender segregated, so Brian and I couldn't do a steam together, just at the same time. This is the first steam I had done and I liked it better than a sauna because I didn't get too hot.

Later that afternoon, I had an appointment to get my hair permed. I have gotten a perm about every two years my entire life, but have never used the salon services on a cruise before. According to the booklet they had of prices, a perm for my length of hair was cheaper at $85 than what I usually pay. Since we were not spending much time off the ship at the ports, I decided to take the time and get a perm. My appointment was at 4:30 and we had tickets to see the ice show at 7:00. I didn't think my appointment would take over 2 hours since it never has in the past, but I checked ahead of time anyway to make sure my hair would be done in time for the show. The girl at the desk said there would be no problem.

I was on time for my appointment, but didn't get sat in the chair until 4:45. The girl asked how I wanted my perm. I said that I usually get spiral perms, but this time I just wanted just a wave with some body to it. I told her how often I get perms and that my hair permed very easily and I never needed the solution on for the entire time. She said ok and we got started. She said she would trim my hair when we were finished to give it a lift. I said that was fine - (that's standard procedure when you get a perm besides I just had a hair cut before this vacation.) We made some small talk while she rolled my hair. I mentioned that I was happy to see that the perm prices were so reasonable, she agreed. After the solution was put in, she put me under a dryer and said the solution should stay in 20 minutes, but she would check me between 10 and 15. I said good - because I definitely didn't need 20 minutes. In the meantime, she had a couple of other appointments come in. I kept an eye on my watch. She did not come back until after 20 minutes. She said - "How are we doing?" I told her - "I'm DONE!" She took a curler out and exclaimed that yes indeed I was done. She noticed my eyes were burning from the chemicals and applied a soothing eye mask that was very nice. She put the other solution in and put me back under the dryer. She took care of more clients. I was starting to get a little worried about the time. I wasn't sure I would be done in time for the ice show. Finally she came back and we rinsed. I mentioned what time the ice show was and then she went a little faster. (I don't think she had any intention of getting me out of there before 7:30 at the rate she was taking other clients) As she was taking off the curlers, she asked me what kind of make up I wore. I told her that I have used Mary Kay all my life, that I loved it and that my sister was my consultant. She showed me a jar of some kind of brown powder. I didn't pay much attention because I wasn't interested. I wanted to get going! I knew my hair was going to be curly and it was... So much for a little body wave. But it looked good. She put in a protein thing - that isn't standard procedure for the perms I have had - and left me for a few minutes again while she worked on someone else. She came back, rinsed me and started the trim.

At 6:40, Brian walked in ready to go to the ice show. I told him I was just about done. She finished my extremely poofy do and then grabbed that make up jar and did my face in 30 seconds. I looked good! I thought she had done that as something nice to do, but when she rang up my bill, I found I was charged for it! I was also charged for the protein treatment and eye mask that I didn't ask for AND the haircut! I was shocked. Never in my life have I been charged extra for a trim after a perm. She gave me a break and only charged $65 for the perm, but with all the other services including a bottle of shampoo (which I was planning to buy), the total was $140! We were really cutting it close to get to the ice show and I was in such shock that I didn't know what to say anyway, so I didn't dispute the charges. But I wish I had. I realize this has been a very long story, but I hope that anyone that reads this becomes aware to watch for the hidden charges in the salon. I felt like I was really taken advantage of. But the perm is very nice and will hopefully last a long time.

We made it with just a few minutes to spare to catch the Cool Art, Hot Ice Show in the Studio B ice arena. The Krooz Komics appeared prior to the show and did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd. We sat fairly close to the ice and at times the skaters came flying almost right in our faces. It is amazing that they don't go flying over the wall at times. They went through many cool costume changes and had the neatest props on the ice. It was just like any other dance type show on a cruise, but they were on skates and were so excellent. Once again, this was yet another incredible entertainment show and the crowd gave a very loud standing ovation.

After supper, we went to the celebrity show in the Lyric Theatre. We were in for a treat. A group called Rain did a wonderful tribute concert ( Beatlemania style) to the Beatles. They dressed, talked and sang like the Beatles and changed costumes as they went through the Beatles chronicle of music. George Harrison had just died the week before, so it was even more special to hear this tribute band play his contributions. We then went to the casino of course and played some black jack and won $55. Then we headed over to the Promenade street to briefly view the end of the Latin Street party before going back to the room. We spent some time on the balcony and went to bed.

12/13/01 ---- Day 5 ---- Day at sea ---- Formal night
We stayed in bed until 10:00am ! Aaahhh, that was so nice. Then we went to the Cafe Promenade, which is Royal Caribbean's version of the Cafe on the Way that I loved so much on the Destiny. We got a couple of cappuccinos and pastries and found seats just outside the cafe on the street where the Krooz Komics were demonstrating the art of being a clown. They gave a brief history while they put on make up. It was really interesting and for a fleeting moment I thought it would be really cool to have a career as a clown. But I don't think I could be in such a good mood all the time. From here we went back to the room and watched on CNN the video tape that was just released of Bin Laden yucking it up with an admirer. It was horrifying and chilling to watch that monster talk, laugh and praise himself.

We went to the casino and played a little of everything. I won some on roulette, black jack and slots but Brian lost so much that we didn't come out ahead. We lost about $45 total that day. Oh well, you can't win all the time. HA! - no kidding. Since we got up so late and had those pastries, we skipped lunch and by mid-afternoon, we were getting hungry - but believe it or not - not hungry enough for Johnny Rockets' burgers and shakes! We were actually getting tired of eating all the time. I didn't think that was possible! There were afternoon snacks being served at the Windjammer cafe so we headed up there. There was a bunch of food there, not what I would call a light snack. We loaded up our plates with various items. Brian found strawberry crepes that were excellent so we both ate a bunch of those.

Then we went out to the sports deck and watched a volley ball game being played and people climbing the rock wall. It was way too windy for my new perm to be out there playing miniature golf, so we were content to sit outside the 19th Hole Bar with a couple of bloody mary's and watch every one else be physical. The ship really rocked all day long - just as it had the last day we were on the Destiny. I guess these bigger ships aren't as stable as we thought they would be. But the movement didn't seem to bother anyone playing sports. We then continued our bar hopping and moved on to the Blue Moon bar that overlooked the pool area. An extremely drunk girl who was dancing down by the pool caught our eye and we had a great time making up conversations that she was having with her boyfriend or husband because they appeared to be arguing. She stumbled away for awhile and then came back, then he left and she left and then they both came back and seemed to eventually make up. I have a feeling they missed supper that night and woke up with headaches the next day.

Then we went to the Champagne bar because I wanted to try one of the many champagne cocktail concoctions they make there. Paul and Ringo from the Beatles tribute band, Rain came in and we complemented them on their show and they responded very nicely. They sat at the bar for awhile and appeared to be having a nice time. It was getting to be time to head back to the room to get ready for supper. But for the first time ever in the history of our cruising, we decided to skip supper! Gasp! I missed steak and lobster! I know - something crazy must have come over us! But we were tiring of the two hour meals. We went to the early seating in the Lyric Theatre for the entertainment show "Behind The Velvet Rope". It was incredible and the singers and dancers were so talented that the audience gave them a standing ovation once again.

After the show, we went to Jesters Nightclub for awhile. It was still pretty early and it was not very exciting there yet. We drank a couple of beers, danced one dance and left because viewing of the Gala Buffet was about to begin. The buffet was definitely on scale with Carnivals if not better. By midnight we were STARVING! (That's what we get for skipping supper!) We decided to only take pictures and not to wait in line to eat the buffet. By this time we had plenty of beer in us and no food so we went to Johnny Rockets and pigged out! Johnny Rockets has several different cheese burgers with special sauces like the Route 66, St. Louis, Old Number 12 and the Smoke House. Brian thought they were all fantastic and he recommends trying the Smoke House with Tillamook cheddar cheese, bacon, onion ring, and extra barbeque-ranch sauce. I liked the Original burger with lots of mustard and no cheese. Have I mentioned that we are sold on Johnny Rockets? The ship rocked all night, but we were so tired by the time we got back to our cabin that we went straight to bed and slept like babies rocking in a cradle.

Continue reading Part II of Adventure of the Seas by L. Watson
January 2002 Read Less
Have you read Part I of Adventure of the Seas By L. Watson?

Part II

12/14/01 ----- Day 6 ---- St. Maarten
We got up about 8:30am and went ... Read More
Have you read Part I of Adventure of the Seas By L. Watson?

Part II

12/14/01 ----- Day 6 ---- St. Maarten
We got up about 8:30am and went to the fitness center and I did about 20 minutes on the machine I liked so much. It is getting harder to work out. I don't have the same energy level I had at the beginning of the week. I weighed myself and found that I had gained 6 pounds. I guess that isn't bad considering how much I have eaten and drank these last few weeks, but I guess that might explain my lower energy level. Also, Brian had caught a cold and wasn't feeling very well at all. He had a sore throat and an ear ache. He did a brief workout and then he did a steam thinking it would help, but I'm not sure a warm moist climate is good for a cold, but I don't know.

The Adventure of the Seas is now in the port of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. This is the island of two countries - St. Maarten - Dutch and St. Martin - French. We had been to St. Maarten on a previous cruise, but had not been to the French side of St. Martin. The last time we were here, a tender had to take us since there the pier for cruise ships had not been built yet. Since then a huge pier was built for cruise ships to dock at. It is an incredibly nice pier, but it is a ways from Phillipsburg. We didn't realize how far it was and instead of paying a taxi to take us just around the corner, we decided to walk over to Phillipsburg and catch a bus to Marigot, St. Martin on the French side. Well, Phillipsburg, wasn't just around the corner and we walked about a mile before we got into town. It wasn't too hot and it wasn't a bad walk, we just were not expecting it. We read ahead of time that the most inexpensive way to go to Marigot was by bus for $1.50 per person. We could of done on of the excursions, but we wanted to see Marigot on our own so we found a bus stop and waited. We realized after about 15 vans went by that those were the buses and that we had to look in their windows for a card that read their destination and wave them down. It was not a very far distance - the whole Island is only 37 square miles - but it took about 25 minutes to get to Marigot with traffic. The most congested of the traffic was right in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten.

Marigot was not as crowded with tourists and it was enjoyable to walk around the quaint coastal French town. We stopped at a small cafe for a thirst quenching Orangina before setting off to explore. My favorite part was the marina harbor side with all the French style restaurants on the water front. It was a picture out of a painting until it started to rain. We ducked into the Le Galleon restaurant to get out of the rain. We had to move back from our original table when it started to rain harder and blow in on us. It was a really cool rain storm that I don't think they get very often. We ordered a couple of beers and an appetizer that consisted of raw ham, white ham, and homemade (liver?) pate - it was definitely interesting and not what we usually consume. Then I had mussels with French baguettes that were excellent and Brian had a flank steak that was too rare for his tastes but he ate it anyway and said it was good. The waiter was very nice, good looking and French of course! Ooh La La - don't all us girls have those French guy fantasies? It was a very enjoyable meal and the rain had lessened a great deal when we were ready to go. We found another bus stop and went back to Phillipsburg and walked back to the ship. It started raining again when we were about half way to the ship, but we didn't care because we were already damp from earlier and we didn't mind the rain.

We rested and got cleaned up when we got back to the room. From the looks of the weather outside, it seemed like it was going to rain for the rest of the day and it did on and off. We went bar hopping for a couple of hours and stopped in the casino for our daily black jack and won $60. Then we went to supper and Moses acted like he was hurt that we skipped the formal dinner the night before. We jokingly apologized over and over and said it would not happen again. He was a very funny guy who we enjoyed very much. He spent a lot of time with us talking and joking around. We had ordered a bottle of wine from our interactive television screen to have with dinner but it was not there. The system was down, but Moses took care of it right away. I had shrimp that night and Jasper, the head waiter came by and cut the tails and shells off my large butter flied shrimp. He made it a point to stop at our table every night to make sure everything was okay.

The show that night was a singer/impressionist from Canada named Martin Dube who we would get to know a little better while playing Blackjack in the casino tomorrow night. He sang songs and sounded just like the original artists. I thought he was great. There were a couple we thought he shouldn't have tried, but most of his impressions were amazing - even of female singers! He did everyone from Madonna to Shaina Twain from Elton John to Garth Brooks. This is the only time I got to hear country music so I was happy even if it was just a couple of phrases. Country music is one small thing I would request that cruise lines add but we are probably too small of a group to accommodate. There is a really good assortment of music like piano, jazz, calypso, guitar, top 40 dance, easy listening and especially Latino music on this cruise but no country music. I definitely liked all that they had to offer, but it would have been nice to hear my favorite type of music too. But that's just my opinion - Brian of course doesn't share it, because he is a little bit rock and roll. HA!

After the show, we tried to catch the "Rockin' through the Decades" parade in on the Promenade street but it was just too crowded to see anything. But of course we saw the Krooz Komics on stilts who were just as upbeat and spectacular as ever. Later there was a "Rockin' thru the Decades" party in Studio B where they had covered the ice with a dance floor. We had already missed the 50s and 60s and had heard YMCA at least 15 times through out both of our cruises which was fun to dance to for the first 5 times or so. There were other bands in the 70s besides Village People, wasn't there? Brian was feeling pretty cruddy because of his cold, so we didn't stick around and called it an early night at midnight.

12/15/01 ---- Day 7 ---- St. Thomas
It poured down rain all day long! I thought it never rained in the Caribbean like that! We think that St. Thomas got all of its average rainfall for the year that day. All the excursions were cancelled which didn't bother us because we were not planning on getting off the ship anyway. It was a bummer though because this was our last day on the cruise and we had been looking forward to swimming, playing miniature golf and maybe rollerblading while most of the people were off the ship. Oh well, we had to make the best of it so we had room service breakfast on our balcony and enjoyed the sound of the rain for awhile. Then we went to workout which was really not a good idea so soon after breakfast. We should have worked out before we ate because it took everything I had to do 15 minutes on the machine because I was so sluggish. We sat in the mineral hot tub in the center of the spa for awhile, then we did a sauna and a steam. Clearly it was going to be a day for pure relaxation and doing as little as possible.

Later that afternoon, we went up to the Solarium pool area and dozed on the deck chairs. It was raining hard but we were under a covered spot. Brian noticed the Solarium Bar was open so we got a Bloody Mary as we headed back to our room. Brian decided the Bloody Mary didn't have enough alcohol so he called room service. I didn't think they would deliver drinks to your room, but they did. A girl came with a tray that held two very full vodka martinis. She came in the room, knelt down and placed the tray on the coffee table. We were extremely impressed that she did not spill a drop. I would have had vodka all over the place. We got the cheese out of the fridge that we had bought in Aruba the previous Friday when we were on the Carnival Destiny, ate much of it and watched the movie, "The Mexican". It was so funny, but it could have been because of the martinis. After the movie when we were full of cheese and alcohol, we went back up to the Solarium pool and sat in a hot tub.

The Adventure of the Seas left St. Thomas at 6pm and headed to San Juan. The overall mood of everyone on the ship was glum. Many had never been to St. Thomas and were very disappointed with the rainy day. We were feeling a little glum because our vacation was almost over. We went back to our cabin to get our gratuity envelopes ready for the staff that provided such wonderful service. Unlike Carnival who now automatically puts the tips on your sail and sign card, Royal Caribbean gives you the option of putting the tips on your super charge card if you want. We like to personally give each crew member their tip with a very verbal thank you for all the hard work they did for us. We then located Teodore, our cabin steward who did a fantastic job cleaning up after us and gave him his envelope.

We went to the Farewell show before supper and Ken, the cruise director did his best to put everyone in a good mood again. There was a comedian and a balancing act that were part of the Welcome Aboard show that we had skipped the first night. They were excellent. The ship was really rocking again and it was incredibly amazing that the balancing guy didn't fall and break his neck! He managed to crawl up on top of a ton of various objects he placed on top of one another, including rolling cylinders and moving things like that. I held my breath the entire time. We then went to supper, handed out our tip envelopes and said good bye to Moses, Mustafa and Jasper. Then we went to the casino for our last night of gambling. Brian won a little over $70 on roulette while I lost about $25 on black jack. We were ready to call it quits when we decided to play a Pink Panther dollar slot machine. I had never played anything more than quarters so that my $20 lasts a little longer, but we decided to live a little since it was our last night. We played about $10 and won $115! We cashed out, shopped a little at the Promenade shops and went bar hopping again. Our bar tab by the way was fairly extensive with the wide array of alcohol we consumed.

Finally, we decided we better get back to the room and pack. How depressing of a thought that was because I did not want to think about getting off this incredible ship in the morning. We had a really difficult time packing because for one, we didn't want to and for another the rocking motion was horrible. I actually got sick to my stomach for the first time. We managed to get everything packed and out in the hall at 12:15am. We did not fall asleep easily with the all the rocking the ship did on this last night.

12/16/01 ----- San Juan, Puerto Rico ------ Debarkation of the Adventure of the Seas
Yesterday in St. Thomas, we went through immigration process while on the ship. Everyone had to do this even if they did not get off of the ship in St. Thomas because we were back in an United States port. But since we didn't get off the ship, we did it at our leisure just before the deadline and there wasn't any wait at all. It only took a couple of minutes and we were happy to be done with this the day before we debarked.

The morning of debarking, we didn't have to report to a lounge at a certain time and get off the ship when our color tag was called - like we had to on all our previous Carnival cruises. All we had to do was to be out of our room by 8:30 and we had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room since we were staying in San Juan that day and in no hurry to get off the ship. Then we walked around and decided to relax in the Lyric Theatre where they had CNN on for awhile, then Animal Planet and the Travel Channel. They announced airline flight numbers for people to know when to get off the ship. I was catching up on my notes for this review when finally around 11:45, they announced that all remaining guests should debark at that time. There were no lines of people waiting to get off and when we got into the massive terminal, it was empty except for a few people and pieces of luggage here and there, so ours was extremely easy to locate. We hired a porter to load up our bags and take us to a taxi. He collected our customs card from us and commented about how busy the place was an hour before. We got into a taxi and headed to the El Convento Hotel because we were not flying back to Anchorage until the next day.

We got to the hotel before check in time a little after noon, but our room was ready. The El Convento Hotel was a small luxury hotel right across from the San Juan Cathedral on Cristo Street in Old San Juan. For 250 years, it served as a convent to the Carmelite Nuns. It is really old and slightly musty, but restored very nicely. It is very comfortable and decorated with Spanish antiques, yet had all the conveniences and amenities we could possibly have wanted. We had a couple of beers and tried Puerto Rican style pizza in a cafe downstairs and then spent a couple of hours in the hot tub on the sun deck. It was very cloudy, but it did not rain on us. The clouds were nice because we didn't have to worry about burning our still pale arctic skin. We took a short nap and then headed to the lobby for complementary wine and cheese that was being offered from 6pm - 7:30pm. We called home to check on our dog whom we missed very much and he was doing fine. We took a short walk around Old San Juan and down to the Governor's mansion to see his Christmas decorations at night and headed back to the hotel. We rented a bad movie but managed to stay awake to see the Adventure of the Seas go by on its way back out to sea for its fifth official cruise. Sniff - our vacation is over.

12/17/01 ------ American Airlines ----- Flight 1777 ----- San Juan to Barrow Alaska
We checked out of the El Convento hotel at 7:00 and had a light complementary breakfast there. The porter got us a taxi and loaded our bags and we headed to the airport. The lines were massive and we were happy to be flying first class thanks to travel awards. We like taking vacations and cruising, but right now, we wish we didn't have to fly to get to these destinations since our location is quite remote and the trip from San Juan to Barrow took us 24 hours. We were definitely happy to be back home with Merlin, our dog and to put and end to the transportational commute portion of our vacation.

Final thoughts:
The worst complaint or more of an "irritation" - that we experienced on both ships - was the population of the Spanish only speaking people on board. The people from Puerto Rico received incredible bargains for these cruises and brought whole families. It was one big party for them and many of these families acted like they were the only ones on board. Everyone deserves to have a good time, but it was very hard to move through or around large groups of people as they congregated in walk through areas. They didn't seem to care that they were always in the way of others, and they didn't understand the phrase "excuse me" or they wouldn't hear it until we said it the 3rd or 4th time because they were always talking so loudly to one another. It was a little bit of a pain at the beginning, but by the end of cruise, it was extremely annoying! I happily embrace other cultures and peoples but I don't have much tolerance for anyone who's down right rude. It was uncommon to find ourselves on an elevator with any one who spoke English and on several of the occasions that we were with English speaking people, they commented that they were happy to be on an elevator that was not loaded with overly loud Latino conversation and rude families. I was relieved to know that we were not the only ones to feel this way.
Adventure of the Seas - PROs and CONs

PRO - Beautiful balcony room (cat D7) with lots of storage and a great circular shower with doors.
PRO - In room Television selection was excellent and it was nice to have laundry pick-up service.
PRO - The Promenade Deck (street) with it's shops and parades featuring the Krooz Komics were fabulous.
PRO - Johnny Rockets is a great lunch or dining option that we enjoyed almost daily.
PRO - The Sports deck with it's many activities and the wide assortment of lounges kept us busy.
PRO - ALL the entertainment type shows - especially those in the Lyric Theatre and the ice show in Studio B.
PRO - The Solarium pool area was a nice place for a quiet swim or hot tub.
PRO - Fitness center had many machines - never had to wait for one.
PRO - The entire ship is just flat out gorgeous, from top to bottom.
PRO - The service was superb in every department.
PRO - We felt this cruise was better in every aspect to those we have taken on Carnival with but two exceptions.

CON - Although we found the food presented it the dining room was good it was not in any way impressive or exceptional. In our comparison of this cruise to our recent cruise on the Destiny we found that Carnival has the edge in the food department.
CON - We had hoped the beer selection would be better than Carnival's but it was about the same.

eider@barrow.com

January 2002 Read Less
The great adventure 1-20-2002 review is here !!!!!!

To everyone who has or is thinking of taking their cruise on the adventure, my vote is most definitely!!!!!

We were fortunate to have an owners suite, and all I ... Read More
The great adventure 1-20-2002 review is here !!!!!!

To everyone who has or is thinking of taking their cruise on the adventure, my vote is most definitely!!!!!

We were fortunate to have an owners suite, and all I can say is wow !!! We had lots of company to say the least. I will try and list some of the highlights for you but if you have any specific questions please ask away and I'll answer.

To start off the cruise we boarded very quickly due to the VIP boarding we had, about 15 minutes we were on board. Her colors are absolutely gorgeous, the planets off the Centrum elevators are something else, also the floating glass sculpture at the other lifts was quite remarkable. Had Mike (hubby) take video of both, not to mention everything else we did.

We had a surprise call from the Captain's wife Tove, and she came to visit us in our suite, we talked and to say the least we were very impressed with her. They invited us to the bridge for the sailaway from San Juan after the muster drill, and folks I must say it was like nothing we ever imagined, we met Captain Remo on the bridge and his son Frederick. It could of been off the Starship Eenterprise, everything was just cool.....cant think of the right words to really describe it. We also met the Staff Captain Darin Bowland, he was very nice to us as well.

We saw the fort leaving as we sailed away.....

Folks, after that we went to the party on the pool deck, go and have a great time, a drink or 2 wouldnt hurt either....lol

Food on Sunday was like a thanksgiving dinner when you board at lunchtime, trust me you'll eat, just leave room for dinner. Dinner we all had something different, our son ate the smoked fish appetizer he enjoyed it, the Tuscan tomato soup was delicious and the shrimp ravioli mmmmmmmmm.

Our first day, at sea.....we had a bit of high waves , so that the pool seemed that it was a wave pool instead of a normal swimming pool, we had a ton of fun doing the wave thing. Guess you would have to have been on board to understand but it was a riot. Please join in on the fun of the Mr. Sexy Legs contest-Mike won Mr. Sexy Legs - 2 years in a row, next year he'll let someone try, but women try to get your man into it, you'll have a blast. Kirk Detweiler - cruise director was alot of fun all week long, trust me on this he got his own later on during the week. We ate breakfast in the dining room everyday, and the food was excellent. We love to be served so we skipped the Windjammer, but the food is good there as well.

Lunch back to the dining room, we like to be served.dinner, what can we say, some of the best, we were sent an invitation to the Captain's table for dinner on Monday night, the hostess Genie, introduced us to each other and then brought us over to the Captain's table, once she escorted the Captain and his wife Tove, she introduced him to each person, and I was the lucky one who was seated next to the Captain, our son was seated next to Tove. It was a wonderful evening, they are both so personable, dinner was fabulous. Shrimp cocktails for the appetizer, lobster bisque, caesar salad, and filet and a dessert with fruit and ice cream to die for. We then left for the show.

Day 3, well this could take forever...... I'll try and shorten this up we did the snorkel tour by catamaran with 2 stops to snorkel, well we had a ball, had some of our cruise critics on board and yes when it came time to sail back, Tony got the rum punch and tequilla snorkel shooter going, folks all I can say that I wasn't sure if anyone got off that wasn't a bit happy!!! Thanks Tony we do have you on our video.....we shopped Aruba and saw our buddies in town, we bought a 15lb Gouda cheese, we have to cut it open soon. Bought some other stuff, printed shirts and asst. Stuff, then back to the ship to pass out in the pool. Dinner was great, crab and shrimp salad, Ocho Rios pepper pot soup, Key West grouper, Mike and Ben had roast lamb and seafood penne pasta, chocolate rainforest cake, and Costa Rican banana creme pie.

Folks all the selections were delicious. We also made it to carlos and charlies, go, is all I can say !!!!

Day 4, Curacao great snorkeling there, and shopping afterwards, take a taxi folks dont walk to town. Really need to look at the video, mind is getting foggy. Dinner was excellent. Do the ice show when you get a chance.

Day 5, at sea, how peaceful, needed the day to relax by the pool, get up early if you want a good lounge, they go fast, we had our group by the pool bar, it figures with this group that's where we would sit for the day. Some of us got into the swimming relays, no reason to say we lost but had fun trying to win.

Folks I am just going to give you some other highlights cause i'm getting tired, so here goes, go to the beach party, it was fun have some great pics, try and find sometime to sleep.

On Wednesday, we had our cruise critic party, we were very fortunate to have Captain Remo and his wife Tove attend, the Staff Captain Darin Bowland, Kirk Detweiler - Cruise Director, Martin Rissley the Hotel Director, Michael Rasmussen - Food and Beverage manager, he put out quite a spread for the group, had servers with drinks for us as well, we did miss Genie -social hostess and Michelle McGregor due to the fact they had previous meetings scheduled. Everyone in the group wanted their picture taken with the Captain and Tove and they were very accommodating to all, they met lots of poeple with the group, and we were very honored to have all of the staff in attendance. Thank you all for making us the 1st Rubberband party on the Adventure of the Seas.

We went to many shows, so to make it short the entertainment was great, I even got in the headliner show with Greg Bonham, have a signed CD to prove it. Guess I was recognized a lot of that show .......lol

In St. Marteen's we went to Orient beach and it was delightful, beautiful beach and our guide was great, had a great day !!! Even got some guavaberry liquor from our frineds because my feet swelled up like 2 bananas. Thanks Jim and Michelle...

Well St. Thomas off to snorkel by private yacht - we were on the Island Girl with Mike and his wife Debbie as the owners, she was great at pointing out the fish and other interesting wild life on the reef, highly go and do this tour out to Buck Island. Then shopping, well Mike my hubby bought me a beautiful diamond ring, I cried when he put it on me. Very sentimental I am, he got a man's ring too, but he didn't cry...lol
R We ate in Portofino that night, and pay the cover charge folks, its fabulous, we ate there on the Voyager as well and just trust me and make reservations.

Then we went to the farewell show, and then to pack, what an ordeal, 2 1/2 hours.....

As I promised more great adventures...........

Its kind of hard to recall everything, but the memories are forever lasting, our group of Cruise Critics were so fun, that no matter where you were in and off the ship we were there. To give you folks some info on the owners suite, it has a king size bed, a 48 inch wide screen tv, nice balcony, a curved sectional with a queen sleep sofa, dining table and chairs ample of drawer space and tons of closet space, we are clothes horses so we had plenty of room. Also there was a dressing table in the bedroom area and an chaise lounge also another window to look out at if you chose not to be on the balcony, we chose the balcony, what sites we saw from her. The bathroom was fab...listen to this all marble, a glass enclosed shower, a jacuzzi tub, a toilet and a bidet. Mike and I used it, our son Ben was chicken....lol. Our room steward Audley made sure everything was top notch, never needed a thing and he did great towel art, on Sat night he made us 2 kissing monkeys...how sweet, plus he made a puppy dog, an elephant and some kind of mouse, he explained it to us but still unsure of it, it may bite!!!! We were in the McKinley suite 1300, in case you book it, you may find the leftovers from us. We had Hors D'Oeuvres each afternoon in the suite when we came up from the pool, and also the concierge service with Marise located on the 9th deck was superb, she made us feel welcome from day one, and we had appetizers there every night prior to getting dressed for dinner, also included was drinks.

If anyone is a Crown and Anchor member we hope you attended the Repeaters Party, it was very nice, wait staff with all kinds of drinks from frozen, to wine, to mixers and champagne, passing Hors D'Oeuvres, so yummy, Captain Remo gave a speech, I love to listen to him.

We hope everyone went to the Midnight Buffet, one thing is so amazing is the ice and butter sculptures, what a talented staff, we saw the ice carving at the beach party, doesn't take them long, me it would be a lifetime.

Please feel free and contact me with questions if I can be of any help in your AOS sailing.

To Captain Remo & Tove, and the entire staff of the Adventure of the Seas, this was a spectacular cruise for us, thank you for making it so special.

Always, Reina, Mike and Ben Sachs

RJSachs1@aol.com

February 2002 Read Less
Before I start, I want to make it clear that my review is from a former "virgin cruiser". I have not read any other reviews from the December 2nd trip before writing my review because I wanted it to be untainted by the views of ... Read More
Before I start, I want to make it clear that my review is from a former "virgin cruiser". I have not read any other reviews from the December 2nd trip before writing my review because I wanted it to be untainted by the views of others. Keep in mind that I have nothing to which I can compare this cruise. We like to take nice vacations, but are used to doing everything ourselves. We've traveled Europe, been to Hawaii a few times, do a lot of camping, etc. But this was our very first cruise, and I'm sure that it will be the first of many to come. Having said all that, let's get to the review.

There is so much I would like to say that I'm not sure where to start. So, I guess I'll just start from the beginning. My wife and I flew in to San Juan by route of Chicago O'Hare airport on Sunday, the day of departure. We had booked transport to the airport with Royal Caribbean. They were very helpful and the transfer went smoothly. It was nice to have the driver give us some information about Puerto Rico during the ride to the ship. He was quite funny. They will load your luggage into a van, and you won't see it until you board the ship. Hopefully, you will have a better experience with it than what we had-but I'll get to that later.

Upon arrival at the ship, you will be awestruck by the size and beauty of this vessel. It's enormous, and is docked right across from the Carnival Destiny. I understand that the Destiny is Carnival's largest ship, but is visibly smaller than the AOS. Embarking the ship was quick and painless. I think we arrived between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, and didn't wait in line for over 10 minutes. I was quite impressed, as I heard that sometimes it is a lengthy process.

The Stateroom
The first thing we noticed when boarding the ship was the smell. It smelled like a new RV. There will be people at the door telling you where your room is located. My wife and I booked an inside stateroom on the 9th floor and had it guaranteed. Much to our surprise, they assigned us a room on the sixth floor. At first, it appeared that they had downgraded our cabin. But, upon entering our room, we found that we were assigned an outside stateroom with a large port-hole window. It was one of very few on the ship and is a $350.00 per person upgrade. We were elated! Thank you Royal Caribbean! We, of course were expecting the room to be quite small. But, the size wasn't all that bad. We never felt cramped. There is a seating area as well with a little table. There's plenty of room in the closet and drawers. The bathroom was a little small, but served its purpose just fine.

Within minutes of arriving at our room, our room attended showed up. Her name was Maria. She was from Hungary. You would be very lucky if you had her as a room attendant as she was very friendly and went out of her way to give us an overview of what a first-time cruiser can expect. She showed us the TV features, gave us her phone number, and just went out of her way to make us as comfortable as possible. I know that I'm new to all this, but my wife and I can not understand how a cabin attendant could have been more attentive to our needs throughout the entire week. Many of these workers on the AOS have previous experience on either the Voyager or the Explorer. One of my concerns was that they would be so new to the ship that they wouldn't be used to the way things are done on the AOS. I found that that really wasn't the case.

We really only had one significant problem as alluded to above. We understood from others who have posted their reviews that the luggage sometimes wasn't delivered until the evening. Therefore, the evening meal attire was casual. However, when it was 9:00 in the evening, and we hadn't yet received our luggage, we became a little concerned. We called up the customer service desk, and they told us that since the ship leaves at 10:00 in the evening that baggage often does not get delivered right away. The reason is that people can arrive late, and that causes some disarray in getting luggage to the rooms in a timely manner. We felt that since we arrived mid afternoon, that the luggage should have been delivered. We informed the desk that we had received an upgrade, and that our luggage could have been delivered to the other room. They said that they would have someone check the room. In addition, we also checked outside the room. No bags. About 11:00 in the evening, we became very concerned that maybe our bags were lost. So, we went down to the desk, expressed our concerns, and they gave us free t-shirts, and travel bags with deodorant, shaving supplies, etc. They said that sometimes the bags get misplaced and aren't delivered until the early morning. We again asked them to check our original room. A little later, we get a call that someone was going up to check the room that we were originally assigned before being upgraded. We didn't hear back from him. So, we went to bed expecting our bags to be delivered sometime that night. At about 8:00 in the morning we get up, and guess what...still no more luggage. So, I promptly called the desk and once again explained the situation and my concerns. They told me again that they would have someone check the originally assigned room. They called back in a few minutes and said they found them. This was the only major problem we had. It was a temporary problem that didn't leave a good first impression. However, it all got better.

The Ship
I don't want to go into detail on this because that's what it is all about-detail. It's the small things such as the carpet in the elevators and the aroma of the Schooner bar that really add up to make the experience something really special. Yes, the ship is unlike any other (except the Voyager and the Explorer). It is enormous. Yes, it has an ice-skating facility, a rock climbing wall, putt-putt, basketball/volleyball court, inline skating, etc. Yes the ship cost 678 million dollars to build. I knew about all that stuff when I booked the cruise. Chances are you knew that too. But to me it is the effort they put into the fine details are what really struck me. Again, I won't go into detail, as I want you to be as impressed as I was. Just keep you eyes open to it, and you'll appreciate it too.

Dinners
Dinner that first night was casual. Our waiter, Osman was from Turkey, and was quite funny. He did a very nice job. Our assistant waiter was Engin. I believe he also was from Turkey. He was quiet most of the time, but he did a very good job. Soft drinks are free in the dining room, but they don't come out and tell you that. Feel free to order it-they won't charge you for it. I thought the meals were excellent. I'm not the type of person that is used to spending money on fine dining, so this was an absolute treat for me. Okay, so maybe it was wasn't "fine dining", but seemed like it to me. It is certainly much better than what I'm used to eating. Beware of the tea. It's very strong.

The dining room was beautiful. The piano / orchestra was very nice, though I couldn't help but get a little concerned when they started playing the theme song from Titanic. I heard that the chandelier cost them about half a million dollars. The two nights at sea were the formal nights. Saturday night was a patriotic night. One night was a Caribbean colors night. I think there was another them, but I don't remember what it was. There are three levels to the dining facility. They are called Mozart, Strauss, and Vivaldi. Mozart is on the third level. Vivaldi is on the first level.

As far as the midnight buffets, there was only one. It was the gala buffet, and it is a must see. I don't want to go into detail, but please, don't miss the viewing at 11:30. We didn't actually wait to eat any of it, but bring your camera to the viewing. You'll be surprised. There weren't any other midnight buffets. If you're actually hungry then, you have three options. You can either get food from the promenade cafe (sandwiches, pizza, cookies, pie, etc), Johnny Rockets, or room service.

I never did the Portofino thing, but heard it was excellent. I enjoyed the dining hall so much that I couldn't see doing it.

Johnny Rockets was fun, but we have one here in Indianapolis, so it was no big deal to me. The Windjammer and Island Grill are virtually identical. Windjammer has views to each side, and the Island grill faces the aft of the ship. The views are incredible. The food was very good, I thought. Our head waiter told us that much of the food is exactly what is served in the main dining room. The exceptions are the really good entrees such as the lobster.

The Promenade cafe was decent. Nothing special.

Entertainment
I didn't see all of the shows. We went to the ventriloquist show, the ice show, the Beatle's show, and the Velvet Rope (song and dance)show. I enjoyed every one of them. However, the ventriloquist show, in my opinion, wasn't up to my expectations. I happen to love ventriloquist shows, so I think my expectations were quite high. However, he was supposed to be really great. I guess someone who isn't used to seeing really good ventriloquist shows would think he was really good. However, I understand that it was his last performance on the ship and now has an ongoing gig in Vegas. I'm not sure who is replacing him.

The ice show was absolutely incredible. They do things that you wouldn't expect in an ice show. That's all I'm going to say about that. If you want to know more, just be sure not to miss it. Be sure to get your tickets early as they do go quickly.

The Beatles show was also very good. It's a group called Rain. In my opinion they aren't as good as 1964, which is another Beatles group. They did the typical cruise thing and add some flash to the show with some wacky costumes and comedy. I think that detracted a little from the show if you're a die-hard Beatles fan. It took away from the look of authenticity. But, they still are worth seeing.

Velvet Rope, in my opinion was quite a surprise. I'm not much of a song and dance person, but I really enjoyed it. It was a very artistic show. The poolside performers were good. I especially liked the Caribbean band. Sorry, I don't remember the group's name. Maybe one of the other reviews will have the names. Also, if you get a chance to listen to the piano player in the Schooner bar, do so. She's a lot of fun and really knows how to work the crowd. There are a lot of other entertainers on the ship. I'm not much of a bar person, but we did go to a few. The Viking has the best view. The Schooner, in my opinion was a great nautical theme, and as I mentioned before, a certain aroma. The Jester's bar was really neat with a medieval theme. It's also a disco. I noticed some of the crew would frequent it.

Pools
The pools were nice. There were a lot of chairs, but they did get filled up around the pools quite quickly. However, there are plenty on the surrounding decks. The hot tubs in the main pool area are only lukewarm. The hottubs in the Solarium were much warmer. I didn't notice any kids in the Solarium. The belly flop contest was funny, as were the horse races.

One note: the pools are supposed to be open until midnight. However, they sometimes drain them before midnight for cleaning. Usually, they only drain one at a time, but there was one time when my wife and I were enjoying a late evening dip in the Solarium hot tub. The other one was closed for cleaning. We were just talking, and before we knew it, both of us were on the floor of the hot tub with water half way up to our chests. The tub had been draining, and we hadn't realized it until then. We wish that if the pools are to be open until 10:00 pm as they say, that they wouldn't drain any of them before they close them.

Cruise Director
I thought Ken Rush did a great job. He's very quick on his feet.

Captain
You just have to love Captain Remo. He's from Norway, and begins every announcement with "Good Morning Ladies and Yentlemen". He pronounces the ship "Adwenture of the Seas".

Ports of Call

Aruba
I knew that Aruba would be more like a desert than the other ports. But I wasn't expecting it to be that arid. We didn't think it was a very pretty island. We rented a Jeep and explored on our own. The streets are pretty good, though not very well marked at all. If you find yourself lost, just look for the cruise ship, and you'll be able to find your way back. Be sure you understand the street signs before you start driving. They are very different than ours. You can see it from as far as the lighthouse. I highly recommend renting a Jeep. Go to the lighthouse (about a 20 minute drive). Then, take the dirt path across the north side of the island. It's a rough ride, but fun. Stop and see the natural bridge, the church, and the gold mine building. It's a neat ride. You'll be able to do that in the morning. We went to Baby Beach in the afternoon. It's a nice little beach. It's very calm, and has good snorkeling. In my opinion, it's not that special of a beach, even though it's supposed to be one of the best on Aruba. I'd probably go back for the snorkeling alone, though. Aruba has spent a lot of effort in building up their island, and unfortunately, I think they lost their charm. There are a lot of mainstream stores and fast-food restaurants. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the island, but still had a great time. We didn't do any shopping in Aruba.

Curacao
My wife and I loved Curacao. It was what Aruba wasn't. The Dutch charm was very evident in the buildings. Shopping was good, and close to the ship. You should be able to get a very good picture of the AOS from this port. We rented a taxi and went to the Sea Aquarium. We enjoyed it, but thought it was overpriced. It was much smaller than I expected. We did not do the feeding the sharks thing, though one of our tablemates did. He really enjoyed it. The Sea Aquarium beach is right next door, and nice. It can get crowded, though. There is a ridge of rocks around the beach. Inside the rocks, the water is very blue, but has practically no visibility if your snorkeling. However, if you go over to the other side of the rocks, it's really a nice view. There are a lot of fish on the other side, too. It was a decent beach. Nothing too special about it.

St. Martin
We liked St. Martin even better. Though it didn't quite have the same charm, it was a prettier island. I wouldn't recommend renting a car on it as the roads are very narrow and windy. We took a taxi to Orient Beach. That was quite the experience. We got there early, and walked the beach. No matter what people tell you, there is nudity on both sides. Most of it is on the right-hand side (south side) You'll see a sign that designates it as a clothing optional part of the beach. If that stuff offends you, I wouldn't go there. I heard that the snorkeling was good on that side, so we did go into it. They were wrong. I might have seen only 3 or 4 fish. The waves and wind were quite rough. It is a nice beach, however, with a lot of shops and restaurants. The left hand side, does have nudity, but much more limited. I recommend that side of the island as there are a lot of shops and water sports. Shopping was good on St. Martin. I guess the only unpleasant thing was the constant soliciting for hair braiding. I don't recommend it as I have heard that people come home with lice in their hair. Buyer beware.

St. Thomas/St. John
It just kept getting better and better. We virtually did nothing on St. Thomas. It's not that we didn't want to, but we definitely wanted to do St. John. We took a taxi ride to Red Hook, and then took a ferry to St. John. From there, we took a taxi to Trunk Bay. As my wife would attest, it has to be the most beautiful place we've ever been. The snorkeling was very good, as well. The sand was like powder. You feet would sink in it like snow. If you like the beach and/or snorkeling thing, this is a great thing to do. We stayed there until about 12:30, then took a taxi back to the ferry. We got back in plenty of time to do some shopping in St. Thomas. This was our favorite port, and I wish we could have spent so much more time one both islands.

Puerto Rico
We stayed the night in Puerto Rico and the Wyndham Old San Juan. It is not within walking distance of the ship. But it is adjacent to the shopping area and El Morro fortress. Being a Sunday, it wasn't very crowded. Some of the restaurants were closed, but we ate at the birthplace of the Pina Colada (so they say anyway). It was a beautiful place to eat, and I highly recommend the Steak Foralezza. You can also buy Bacardi at this place. I don't remember the store name, but it's on Fortalezza Street, on the port side.

Well, that about sums up my "virgin" cruiser review. There is so much more to say, but my fingers are getting really tired of typing. I hope this review has been useful to you as many of the other posts [on the message boards] have helped me. Bon Voyage,



tomgerber@flavorburst.com

February 2002 Read Less
"Lessons Learned"
by Paul N. Brown

I would like to start this review with a little personal information so others can understand my perspective. Seems like we read endless reviews pre-booking that were written by ... Read More
"Lessons Learned"
by Paul N. Brown

I would like to start this review with a little personal information so others can understand my perspective. Seems like we read endless reviews pre-booking that were written by disgruntled retirees and the like. Here we go:

I am 24 years old and my new bride is 21. We are both Caucasian Texans who are active individuals who enjoy adventurous activities. This was our first cruise and chose the Adventure of the Seas for our honeymoon. We actually got married on the 22nd of Dec, but decided to hold off on the cruise until after the New Year for cost reasons (about 38% less). I will try to dispel any rumors of the ship and recant our lessons learn for the ports of call.

Airfare/Lodging
Decided to book our own airfare b/c the ones through RCL were about $150 per ticket. Booking your own airfare means the onus is on you to catch the ship, so we decided to go down two days early. Our airfare was expensive and had a very circuitous routing - but it was the only way we could afford the trip. I think we paid $460/person for airfare from San Antonio, TX to San Juan. That's a big part of the Southern Caribbean cruise cost - just getting to the port. Neither of us had ever been to Puerto Rico before so we didn't have a clue where to stay. We ended up having William Shatner do the selection for us - via Priceline.com. I think Priceline is an excellent way to be adventurous and save some cash in the process. We simply stated that we wanted to stay in the city of San Juan, input what rating hotel we wanted (we chose 4-star for the honeymoon), and whallah! They choose the place for you! We ended up getting the Intercontinental Hotel for $139/night. It was very nice with a large flora garden, multiple pools, nice beaches, guards everywhere, and free chairs. I have never seen so much security at any hotel before. We drank too much the first night so we wasted one half-day recovering. Tried to go to the Bacardi factory but they were closed for Tres Reyes Day. Must see next time. Walked around Old San Juan and enjoyed the history. The shopping is EXPENSIVE with lots of American stores. The fort in San Juan is a must see. It's exactly how I envisioned pirates as a child. The next day we got a rental car for $40 and took off. The autopistas (highways) are nice with multiple 35 cent tolls out of San Juan. We drove half way around the island in two hours. El Yunque (the rain forest) is beautiful and you can drive all the way up in a car. A must see. That was the last thing we did before going back to get on the ship.

Lessons learned for Puerto Rico
Two days is a drop in the bucket! Heck, we'd need two weeks to do everything we wanted to. Taxis are pricey so if you're going to see the place then definitely rent a car. Next time we're going to rent another car in San Juan and start driving. We're going to use Priceline.com and get rooms all over the island and then drive around the whole thing - staying at a different place each night. We brought our own snorkeling equipment so we were set - however we never even made it to the Caribbean side of island. We can't wait to go back and explore.

The Ship
Getting on the ship was easy and VERY quick. Probably b/c we got there at 8:00 for a 10:00 pm sailing. We were in a cat DA balcony room which wasn't cheap but was worth it for the honeymoon. The balcony is private which is cool b/c you can be totally naked outside without anyone but the dolphins seeing you. The ship is brand new - made in Nov 01 and is beautiful! It was soooooo much more extravagant than I ever imagined. In fact, it was so beautiful, that I was really pissed off to see folks leaving empty glasses and trash lying around. The cruise staff do their absolute best, but it's the average Joe who didn't learn respect for property as a child who screws it up for the rest of us. I digress.....

The food was outstanding. Windjammer was great for casual dining and most any time. Johnny Rockets was good with a great atmosphere. The main dining was OUTSTANDING and our service was EXCEPTIONAL. You can get anything you want! I got two entrees each night while my wife got two desserts - don't be afraid to ask. We dressed as listed b/c RCL for the different nights - no probs. I would definitely recommend getting room service for breakfast. We did it every morning but one. It doesn't cost anything to get it e/x that you can tip the waiter - that's the only thing that was done in cash the entire trip. We gave him $2 per morning and I dearly miss eating breakfast out on the balcony. The shows were AMAZING. Go to all of there. You're shorting yourself if you don't.

Lesson Learned
There is a full day of activities the first day you can get on the ship. Go on mid-day, get acquainted with the ship, and enjoy the bon-voyage dinner. Aruba
The most friendly island we visited - hands down. The people were incredible. Aruba is a DESERT - it looks just like Arizona surrounded by water. No shade but wonderful people. Like I said we wanted to do our own thing so we packed the snorkeling gear and rented a moped right outside the ship. $50 for the super-rama-rama-delux one full day. That sucker would do 63 mph as we hauled off into the great unknown. Drove across the island to Baby Beach which is very remote with only two stands selling food and drinks from coolers. If you take a cab out there you must pre-arrange a pick-up - like I said it's very remote. One shower which costs $1 per person to use. There is a shallow lagoon which has a narrow strait that opens up to the Caribbean. Outside that strait was the best snorkeling we did the entire trip. The visibility was twice as good as anywhere else we visited with no-kidding 80 foot visibility in the open ocean. I couldn't believe it. Lot's of corral and fish. Drove from there to the Land Bridge and the Gold Fortress via the dirt roads on the east side of the island - both very cool but lots of tourists running around. Went to Carlos and Charlies for a while that night. The party was great, but the beers were expensive and the place was crowded. Decided to street walk instead.

Lessons Learned in Aruba
I would definitely rent a jeep next time. There were LOTS of Suzuki Samurai's all over the place and they weren't much more than $50/day. Made the dirt roads much easier to travel and much more comfortable. However, if you're going to stay around town and not planning on leaving the pavement - get a moped! They're great fun and we only used $3 in gas to cover the entire island. We also got sun burned like you wouldn't believe. I'm not kidding - the tropical sun is much worse than in the US b/c you are closer and there is less atmosphere for the rays to traverse. Wear lots and re-apply often or suffer the consequences like we did! Next, stop at the tourist info shop when de-barking the ship. They have maps which were unavailable anywhere else b/c the island is just too small for the locals to need any. And definitely read the back of the tourist packet for the international street signs - they don't resemble anything in the US! Lastly, if you want to get away, travel to the SE corner of the island. The developed portion is on the NW side, and that's where most of the cruise folks go. I think they miss out on the snorkeling at Baby Beach and some of the beauty in desolation - you can see both in one day b/c Aruba is so small! Live it up.

Curacao
Did the only RCL booked excursion of the trip - the Animal Encounter Excursion at the Seaquarium. Booked this based on some reviews from other Cruise Critic folks. All I can say is WOW! I have experience with SCUBA before but wanted to get my wife's feet wet (pun intended). No certification necessary, just suit up, hop in, and frolic for 45 mins underwater. Fed everything from small fish to stingrays to sharks to sea turtles. The sharks and turtles are separated by plexiglass but you can hardly tell! I will never forget this excursion. Bring an underwater camera!!!!!!!!!!! Spent the rest of the afternoon perusing the shops. Very Dutch island.

Lessons Learned
Do the Animal Encounter Excursion!

St. Maarten
Rented a car right off the ship for $40. Drove around the island once to check out both the French and Dutch sides. They are very different indeed. Visited the Guavaberry Emporium and bought a bottle. Took a stroll down the main drag and it was very nice. Too many shops to take in at once. WE then left the city and decided to snorkel near the Dutch airport but the tides were strong so we decided to move along. Drove back across the island (25 min drive) to hit Orient Bay. The beach seemed to never end. Not as many topless chicks as I expected but it was a nice change of pace from the US. The nudist resort is on the East side of the bay - and is worth taking a peek at for comedic value alone. The snorkeling was average there with no coral and mostly grass beds. Orient Bay is more of a beach for hanging out, topless bathing, parasailing and the like - but not oriented for snorkeling/scuba. There is lots of real estate development going on in the Orient Bay area - looks like it will be a major French vacation spot in the near future.

Lessons Learned
Buy more Guavaberry Coladas. They're great and sure put you in that island state of mind in a hurry. Remember that if you decide to go al-natural at Orient Bay, the "un-tanned" portions of your body need more sunscreen than those which are regularly exposed to the sun. If you're looking for cheap booze - the cheapest I saw the entire trip was at the duty-free shop right at the ship.

St. Thomas
Thought this was the best shopping of the tour. The prices are the same in town as they are right off the ship so you can hit all the stores on foot. We bought my wife a nice stainless-steel Citizen watch for $48. The island is real small so the rent cars go quickly and are expensive! Approx. $90 per day. Based on local advice, we took a cab to Sapphire Beach for snorkeling. $14 for two folks. This was one of the highlights of the trip! The beach was small, very quaint, $3 chairs, crystal clear water, lot's of corral, fish everywhere, and just wonderful. Lots of locals go there. We snorkeled for hours along the shores and had a blast. Got out and ate at a local food stand for $3 person. Everything you want was there: bathrooms, changing room, water hose to rinse off, food, drinks, etc. It's not like a five-star resort at all - it's a simple, relaxing, beautiful hangout without the entire cruise ship on the beach. I miss it already....

Lessons Learned
We did exactly the right things for us.

Back to San Juan - very sad day.

Disembarkation
DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. DO NOT BOOK AN EARLY FLIGHT. I cannot stress this enough. It seemed that the folks who had been relatively nice to each other all week turned back into selfish jerks as soon as it was time to leave the ship. Very sad way to end a wonderful week. The cruise line did everything they could and the process is very efficient - but the paying cruisers in a rush can make it unpleasant. The same thing applies at the airport - take your time - remember you're on vacation!

Lessons Learned
From now on I want to be one of the last ones off the ship. I will plan to either take a late flight or stay another day to avoid the rudeness and pushing that occurred at disembarkation. We always carried our own bags both off and on the ship to eliminate mishaps with lost luggage - and what do you know - it worked!

Overall
Of course there were some negatives, but almost none of them had anything to do with RCL. There were very few kids running amuck b/c of the cruise date. The majority of them were doing the Adventure Ocean deal and well taken care of. However, I will say that the majority of negative experiences (pushing, being loud and verbose, not staying on right sides the hallway, etc.) were definitely not kids and they definitely weren't from the Continental United States. Take that for what you will, but there was a very definitive line of respect and politeness between half of the ship.

All right, now that the petty things are out there, the experience was amazing. The ship is gorgeous. The food was unbelievable in the main dining room. The food was good everywhere else. The cruise director, Ken Rush, was outstanding and really set the tone for the entire week. The entertainment was world-class. The RCL shows, comedians, and El Goucho were Broadway/Vegas quality. The facilities were well thought out. The intra-net thru the TV was very classy. And most of all, my wife said it was everything she ever dreamed for a honeymoon.

And that, more than anything else, means the world to me.

We will return to RCL in the future and would recommend this cruise to anyone. Please contact me if you want any more information.

pnb987pb@yahoo.com

February 2002 Read Less
Adventure of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.7
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.0

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