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labeachcomber

Adventure of the Seas 7/23/06 Review

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Just got back from AOS and wanted to post a quick review.

 

I thought the ship was in great shape. I had read some threads about dirty carpets (didn't really notice unless I looked really hard), mold in the bathrooms (none), and elevator buttons that didn't work (never saw any). We thought all the common areas were very well maintained, with the exception being the very busy Windjammer where some of the furniture seemed a bit weathered. We always seemed to sit in seats where some inconsiderate cruiser had previously sat with his or her wet swimsuit. But overall, the ship was great.

 

The cruise director Simeon Baker was average at best. I couldn't get over his resemblance to a taller and leaner Ron Howard, at least from where I observed him from my customary spot in the Lyric theater. He certainly wasn't as good as Richard Spacey- lacking the humor, the funny dancing, and the general showmanship that Richard exuded during a previous Voyager cruise. I also didn't really see a lot of the cruise director staff around the boat, but maybe I wasn't hanging around in the right places. DJ Cisco did some pool stuff, Lee did the daily bingo, but other than that, I don't really know who he was working with during the week.

 

On to the days...

 

Day 2 (at sea): Woke up early and headed out to the pool around 9 am. Was expecting to see almost all the chairs already hogged, but surprisingly, I think we were some of the first people at the pool. Even around noon, there were plenty of chairs to be found. It was a nice surprise. They only allowed one beach towel per guest on sea day, in likely anticipation of possibly running out. Yes, they made you "check out" a towel with your cabin number, but has been speculated here in the past, it is unlikely that you would be charged if you forgot to return it or had it picked up by the staff if you left it on your chair and walked away.

 

Day 3 (Barbados): We did the "Swim/Snorkel with turtles" excursion through RCCL. It was on the Silvermoon II that everybody here talks about. I didn't know that you could book this excursion separately on your own. But at least on this day, everybody on the catamaran was there with the cruise tour. The turtles were great - fun to swim with and touch their shells. The rest of the tour was so-so, consisting of swimming over a "shipwreck" (basically looked like an old military tanker) and then to a pathetic beach for about 20 minutes where most people just stayed on the boat. Went into town later that day after lunch and honestly didn't feel safe at all. Should have known it wasn't going to be a good time when the cab driver pretended he couldn't make change for a twenty dollar bill at 1 pm (the fare was $2 a person), despite likely making countless back and forth runs from the pier to downtown. We walked around for less than 30 minutes and decided to head back to the boat.

 

Day 4 (St Lucia): We didn't arrange a tour for this day. Had heard that the downtown area was even sketchier than Barbados and nothing special, so we skipped it all together. There is some so-so shopping in a little outdoor mall right as you get off the boat. Hopped in a cab and went to Reduit Beach on the advice of some of the staff. It was a great time. The beach area is very organized - there is somebody there in charge of taxis and he makes sure that you have a prearranged ride to get back to the boat at the time you desire. The best part of the beach experience was this "Fruitman", who comes close to shore on a ratty boat with tons of flags from all countries sticking out in all directions. His boat is loaded with fresh fruit - coconuts, mangos, pineapples, papayas - and he'll chop open coconuts or slice whatever fruit you desire. Prices were relatively cheap - $1 for some of the best mangoes I have ever had and a few bucks for a coconut.

 

Day 5 (Antigua): We did the Stingray City tour through RCCL. It was ok, but not quite the experience of what I hear Grand Cayman to be. The stingrays are all in an enclosed pen. They give you squid in the beginning to feed the stingrays and you have an opportunity to hold a stingray for a photo that you can buy later(at $15 a shot!). But after that, it's really quite boring because the stingrays then kind of all disperse. One woman had a true panic attack - I saw her screaming everytime a stingray brushed by her leg. She was crying and hyperventilating to the point where she got out immediately. I think she tried coming back in later but didn't last more than a minute the second time. I felt bad for her. After the stingrays, we tried to go to the Big Banana restaurant in town as recommended by the Compass. Don't do it! The service is incredibly slow- we walked out after a while without ever receiving our food. They should take this out of the Compass. Then we followed another Compass suggestion and went to Runaway Bay. The place was literally deserted. But it was nice because we felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves and it was a relaxing afternoon.

 

Day 6 (St Maarten): Our favorite port. Went to Orient Beach and absolutely loved the water and the atmosphere. Beach chairs are cheap - most places were $7 which included a drink and an umbrella. The waves were fun to body surf and play around in. Yes, there were some naked people at the far end and a few topless women.

 

Day 7 (St Thomas): Unfortunately, it rained the entire day. So we spent it all shopping downtown! Will have to come back some day and check out Megan's Bay.

 

Some random thoughts-

- I've read threads here about the Sports Bar and the Pub, but everytime I walked by those places, there was probably one person in the entire joint. They should get rid of these places and replace them with something more useful to cruisers.

- I noticed two times were packs of kids sat on the stairs and didn't move for you when you came down them. And also lots of times where kids were running full speed around corners and down the halls. I really wish their parents would teach them to behave a little more properly.

- There have been threads with "concerned" cruisers over the Latin influence on this cruise as it leaves from San Juan. I really didn't notice any difference at all. All announcements were made in English, and then the international ambassador said them in Spanish followed by French. I think each day there was a 30 minute game in one of the lounges done in Spanish. Lots of Puerto Ricans on the boat, but they were not unruly or rude like some here have suggested.

 

Had some travel snafus getting home, but am now back home and wish I was still eating dinner nightly in the Vivaldi dining room. Going through cruise withdrawal and am already planning our next cruise on the Freedom!

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It sounds like a nice vacation - I can hardly wait until October 1st, when we sail on AOS! Did you fly into San Juan on the cruise departure date? If no, what hotel did you stay at? Any tips you can offer - things not to miss, as well as things to avoid?

Thanks-

 

Liz

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We flew into San Juan on Friday afternoon. On the advice of a friend, we chose to stay in the Isla Verde area of the island at the Intercontinental. Got a good price through Hotwire at $128 a night, but with the resort fees and everything, it ended up being $160 a night for two nights. I liked the Isla Verde area because there's more to do at night - casinos, nice restaurants, etc. The beach and pool area of the Intercontinental is really nice and we spent several relaxing hours there. There is a local restaurant across from the hotel called Mi Casita that we went to for a nice cheap authentic dinner. Don't miss trying a Mofongo - one of the local dishes which is a plantain cake with meat or fish stuffed inside.

 

Spent Saturday in Old San Juan, walking around downtown and then also touring the El Morro fort. I thought the fort was really neat, although it started to rain just as we were leaving. We just then hopped in a cab and went back to the hotel.

 

Many people say it is better to stay in Old San Juan, but the Pan American Pier is not anywhere withing walking distance from the hotels. We preferred more of the nightlife, so we chose the casino area with the Ritz, Intercontinental, and the El San Juan. I think the beaches in this area are also better.

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St. Maarten was our favorite port too. We loved Orient Beach and the atmosphere. The people were all so nice, we rode waverunners, had some drinks and pizza and just had the most glorious day!

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What I really liked about Orient Beach was that there were no local "hawkers" selling their bead necklaces, wooden bird carvings, cheap bags, etc. I think because the entire beach is sort of set up like a resort with lounge chairs that you pay for, that somehow this prevents them from bothering you while you are trying to relax. Much worse at Reduit Beach in St. Lucia with people trying to sell stuff to us almost every five minutes.

 

I'm sad that we didn't get to go to Megan's Bay because of the rain. I hear that it's really beautiful.

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For those who went to Orient Beach I have a couple of questions :)

 

How did you get there? How much did it cost?

What part of the beach were you at?

Did you do any parasailing and if so what was the cost?

 

 

Thanks so much!

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At the new pier, there is a taxi terminal area where you stand under a sign of where you want to go. They try to group you with other people going to the same area to save money. We had 10 people in our van, so it was only $6 a person. The van will drop you off anywhere on the beach you want to be at, but it's easily walkable no matter where you get off. Our van had somebody that had been there before, so he took charge and pretty much directed the driver to where he wanted to be. We got out there and walked up and down until we found a beach area we liked, which was kind of right in the middle.

 

We didn't do parasailing, so I don't know the cost. They also have kite surfing, wind surfing, and waverunners available.

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