edit4ever Posted October 9, 2006 #1 Share Posted October 9, 2006 Just got off of the Adventure of the Seas a few hours ago…literally. I’m actually sitting at the Dallas airport on our layover to Denver, and decided to pass the time by writing a review of our trip while it was all still wonderfully fresh in my mind. I want to make sure I do this because the postings at this site were tremendously helpful to my husband and me as we planned our trip, and I want to return the favor. What follows is a summary of our trip, some highs and not-so-highs, and a few tips. Feel free to read what you want, and ask any questions after you’re done. Let me begin by setting the stage. This is the third cruise for my husband and me, our first on Royal Caribbean. Our other two were on Norwegian, and we were very pleased with both of them. We booked this one because of the itinerary, the ship itself, and because the price was right. It turned out to be a wonderful trip. There are two of us, no children, and we’re the kind of people who believe that going into things with an open mind and a focus on having fun will make all the difference in the long run. We had a room on the 9th deck, room 9336 to be exact. It had a balcony. Compared to NCL, we found our room to be bigger and in general had a better use of space…same with the bathroom. I would only book a suite if it was a super deal (they do have walk in closets, after all), but we really thought our room was quite comfortable. The Food: As people who are fairly early bed-timers (despite our early-thirty-something-ages) we booked the first seating for dinner. This is actually the place where we felt the biggest difference between RCCL and NCL. We are big fans of Norwegian’s freestyle cruising, which is very flexible, includes a choice of more than ten restaurants, and does not assign dinner seating. On this trip we wound up at a table with several other couples, all very nice…though we really wanted some alone time and before we even showed up the first night we asked to switch to a table for two if at all possible. We were moved the next day and had our intimate dinner each night following. Our waiter, Hedi, was absolutely exceptional. He made great recommendations, and was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. There were several occasions where he would often bring us a few different plates at each course so that we could try different things…a wonderful perk, but also left us uncomfortably stuffed on more than one occasion. (Our fault, not his obviously.) We found the food to be wonderful. We dined one night at Portofino’s for dinner and would recommend it. It’s a longer meal, and very romantic. $20/person is a small price to pay. We ate out at our excursions for most lunches, and at the Windjammer for the rest of the lunches and all breakfasts. It had everything we could possibly have wanted. If you can’t find something that works for you, not for nothing, but chances are it’s not RCCL’s fault. You may want to consider how picky you’re being. The Service: Overall we found staff friendly and attentive. We loved our stateroom attendant, Berris, as well as the many others who greeted us in the hallways. Not absolutely every crew member smiled and waved hello, but I didn’t take this personally as I honestly think they may have had more important things to do. When at the Windjammer, we often got our own drinks before we sat down, so we didn’t need any service there. Everyone gets so busy and you get the sense they are scrutinized at every turn. We never, ever, felt that any crew member was rude to us. It was all just different levels of friendliness. Activities: Okay, he’s admittedly a bit cheesy, but in the end I really did love love love Richard Spacey, the Cruise Director. His schtick may get a bit old for those who are on the ship for more than one week, but we found he kept us entertained throughout the cruise. He had no problem making fun of himself. He’s quite dashing, really. The activities were great, I thought. Lots of fun stuff like a belly flop contest at the pool on sea day, the Love and Marriage game show, and Quest, another crazy game that is not to be missed. We laughed all week. My husband and I differ a bit on our opinions on the shows at night. I thought they were all great (with the exception of one, somewhat cliché lounge singer who had his last performance while on our cruise so it’s of no use to bash him now) The singing/dancing numbers were great. (My husband disagrees…all of a sudden he’s set the bar at Broadway caliber for cruise entertainment. He thought Norwegian was closer to the ritzier, Vegas-hotel show quality). The comedian was fine, the impressionist also good. The ice show should not be missed! It’s not your run-of-the-mill show, and is somewhat like Cirque de Soleil on ice. One note around an entertainment choice…we did the murder mystery dinner at Portofino’s (in addition to our private dinner at the restaurant later that week) and found this to be okay, but probably not worth the $50/person…not the greatest acting or plot, which is fine, but again, not a great value for the dollar. Also, we paid the extra money, but actually had a smaller, more limited menu than the regular Portofino’s experience offers. That said, we did have an awesome filet mignon and all the wine we could drink for that price, but again, would spend that money at the casino if we had it to do all over again. Speaking of the casino, it was a pretty good one, even considering we lost more than we won. We played Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, and three-card poker. For Texas Hold ‘Em fans, don’t get your hopes up too high. We love the game, but were a tad disappointed by the Blackjack table converted into a Hold ‘em Table for seven, and you could only play at night. That said, we still got our fix…and unfortunately, we still lost. But that was our fault (and the fault of the guy who got me with his straight vs. my three of a kind) We had a few methods to battle the bulge caused by all of the food. We took the stairs almost everywhere we went. I worked out at the fitness center several times, and was happy with the equipment. (I wasn’t happy, however, with the fact that some of the classes, including pilates, yoga and cycling, were an extra $10 each…I know that’s the trend these days but it still burns me). They’ve got plenty of cardio equipment, as well as lots of weights. Excursions: Thanks to cruise critic, we had lots of great advice on booking our excursions, and had it all done before we got on the ship. Our excursions, in order of least favorite to most favorite, are: Caribbean Pirates Extravaganza, St. Lucia #5 Arrrr…a booze cruise this excursion be! This was an excursion with RCCL, and really was a traditional and somewhat cliché booze cruise. We booked the one in the afternoon to avoid the kids, which worked out great. We took our spot at the top of the ship and lounged on the padded mats while many around us got absolutely toasted on rum punch. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a bad time at all…just not as good as our other excursions. The pirate battle is pretty lame, and the treasure hunt isn’t exactly like trying to crack the DaVinci Code. If you do go on this, plan to spend some time exploring Pigeon Island, which is gorgeous. And again, just be aware that this is a booze cruise. We even had that guy…the one puking over the rail from too much rum, by the time we arrived back at port. #4 St. John’s Beach Tour, St/ Thomas This was another excursion we booked through the ship, and was quite wonderful. A ferry took us to Trunk Bay at St. John’s and, let me tell you, this spot is absolute paradise. Powder fine sand, beautiful waters and an underwater trail for snorkelers. We almost traveled to St. John’s on our own, but after reading about it on this website, decided to go with the ship. Getting to the ferry to St. John’s, then taking the ferry, then taking the taxi to Trunk Bay, then renting snorkel gear and paying to get into the park in the first place…all of that was handled by the ship. The only downside was that we had less time at Trunk Bay because we went with RCCL instead of doing it on our own. We finally arrived there at about 10:15 and had to pack up by about 11:45. That gave us an hour to snorkel and a half hour to lie down on the beach. I probably would’ve spent another hour or so reading on the sand if we did it on our own, but then again we would’ve been so paranoid about getting back to the ship on time that our experience could have been negatively impacted. The good thing was that we arrived back on the ship with plenty of time to enjoy AOS, as it was our last day. I lied out on the sun facing the ocean for several hours while my husband took some final pictures of the ship. #3 America Cup Sailing Regatta, St.Maarten Okay, I’m not just saying this because I was appointed captain of the WINNING sailboat, but this excursion was awesome! This was also booked through RCCL, and I read about it both on Cruise Critic and in Fodor’s, which both had lots of positive things to say about it. We were divided up into two teams and picked our sailing vessels, then we were put to work. Totally fun and a good few hours. This was another excursion where we were done by early afternoon. We grabbed some wonderful lunch and then walked around and shopped before we found a beach by the ship where I laid out for an hour or so before heading back. We considered a trip to Orient Beach, but in the end decided not to spend the time or money to do so. Next time. #2 Eli’s EcoTour, Antigua We found this on cruise critic, and it was absolutely wonderful. We boarded the motor boat and actually picked up people at another resort before they took us around the island (sometimes they went at super high and fun speeds) and gave us all kinds of interesting information about Antigua, the island and its ecology. We stopped at one, smaller island where we did a quick hike, were served a wonderful lunch, and could swim around a small cove if we wanted while some rookies got a snorkeling lesson. Then they took us to a rock formation called “Hell’s Gate”, which is between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. We actually swam to it and climbed around it while the guide explained the formation, the whirpool inside, and more interesting facts. Then they took us to the reef for some snorkeling before bringing us back. The price of this tour was a bit steep…about $100/person, but it’s worth it. Unlike the RCCL shorter tours, this was a long excursion…they picked us up around 10am and got us back by 4:15pm. We had experiences we will never have again. If we do go back, we’ll do Eli’s Extreme Tour, which is even crazier, I hear. One tip: we only had to pay $90/person because we booked on-line. Book this ahead of time, as it will fill up. For more information, go to: http://www.adventureantigua.com #1 Silvermoon One, Barbados It was a tough call, but Silvermoon won out in the end as best excursion. We again heard about this on cruise critic, and it was everything people have said. The Catamaran is beautiful. They took us snorkeling with sea turtles, which was absolutely incredible. They also took us to a shipwreck for additional snorkeling, then served us an awesome lunch. Because we were on the smaller boat, there were only 12 of us, which made for a wonderfully customized experience. (Silvermoon II holds 24 people) We met some super people on this tour (who may be reading this right now – hi guys!). I especially appreciated the front of the boat, which had netting you could lie on so that you were spread out over the water as we sailed. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. Only problem is it was the first excursion, so it set the bar super high for everything else. This is another one to BOOK EARLY. We were originally told it was full, but when another couple cancelled we got on it. Lucky! For more information on this go to: http://oceanadventures.bb/ In general, the full day excursions were separate from RCCL’s. We utilized RCCL excursions to do some things on our own for the other portion of the day. I’m glad we did some of each. Getting off the Ship: One important note to make about our last day. We were on American Airlines, and signed up for the “Airline Check-in and Express Luggage Service” – which was a deal where you could check in, get your boarding passes, and check your bags, all before leaving the ship. It turned out to be a bad experience. First of all, we were assigned a ship departure time that was much later than the time we needed to leave and make our flight, which was scheduled to take off at 11:20. We went to Guest Relations and changed our ship departure time so that we were in the first group to get off of the ship. By the time we got through the line, found our suitcases, and went to go check the suitcases in at American’s counter at the dock, we were told the truck with the luggage had already left for the airport and we would need to do it all ourselves. I wouldn’t care about that at all…it’s just that they sold this service to us, we got off of the ship pretty early, and it became a huge hassle. When we showed up at the airport to check our three bags, the airline already showed us to have checked them even though we still had them with us, which threw everyone off. I don’t know if this was American’s or RCCL’s screw-up, but it was a shame to leave the ship on that note. A few more tips on leaving the ship: when they call your group number to get off of the ship, do it in the gangplank at the front of the ship. We did it at the back of the ship, along with the hundreds of other people who ate breakfast at either the dining room or the Windjammer, and so we were backlogged. Also, if you’re going to sign up for the pre-check in service, do it only if you’ve got a flight after noon. Maybe it works better then. I wouldn’t chance it if you have a morning flight. Also, our experience at the San Juan airport was very quick and smooth when we landed, but getting through security on your way out is much slower. Give yourself as much time as possible to get through before your flight, especially if you have one in the morning. A general observation: If you need something, are unsure of something, or have a question, call guest relations and ask. As I’ve written, we changed a few things (table assignments, group number for leaving the ship, etc.) We’ve found the people do what they can to accommodate you, and do so with a smile. Not to lecture, but in the end you decide what kind of experience you’re going to have…and while not everything was absolutely smooth, we’re still walking away knowing we had an amazing experience. We’ll definitely cruise with Royal Caribbean again. Dee and Jay Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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