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jordanaire

"ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS" review (VERY long)

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First let me say that after cruising with Carnival eight times since ’95, this was our first Royal Caribbean cruise. We decided to give RCCL a try simply to see how it compared with all of the other cruises we have taken in the past, plus to see what one of the world’s largest cruise ships was like.

Our flight left Lexington, Kentucky at 6:15 am on Sunday, arriving in Atlanta, then on to San Juan. We arrived at San Juan around 12:00 pm (local time). We were met by RCCL representatives that told us to pick up our luggage at baggage claim, then take it to another rep that was located nearby. As soon as we picked up our bags off of the conveyor, we put our RCCL tags on our bags. We were a little concerned about the tags being torn off or lost during transit. After turning our luggage over to the RCCL rep, we were told to head back up to the airport entrance to meet another rep that would place us on a transport to the ship. We only had to wait for about 15-minutes until we boarded a van-type bus that took us to the ship. I believe the driver we had was the slowest driver in Puerto Rico, as he never drove over 30 mph all the way! Fortunately, the ride was only about 20-minutes long.

Our first view of the “Adventure of the Seas” was awesome! She was docked along with the “Dawn Princess”, “Norwegian Sky” and the “Carnival Destiny”. The AOS overshadowed all of them! She is HUGE! Everyone on the bus was simply amazed at her size and beauty. I guess “bigger is better”.

Embarkation was the fastest we have ever experienced since we started cruising! The bus stopped in front of the terminal at 12:50. After having our IDs checked, we proceeded into the terminal. Here, they have lines set up by the deck your cabin is one. We went to the Deck 8 line, found only 1 other couple there who immediately were called forward. Less than a minute later, we were called to the check-in counter. We presented our passports and showed them our credit cared we planned to use for our “Sea Pass” payment. The rep handed us our “Sea Pass” cards and said “Welcome Aboard”. That was it! We were in our cabin at exactly 1:00 pm, ten minutes after stepping off the bus! Having pre-registered online made all the difference in the world. So make sure you do this prior to leaving for your cruise. It is definitely worth it!

The first thing you see when you enter the AOS is the Royal Promenade. It is remarkable! You cannot imagine the beauty of this wide-open area in the middle of a cruise ship. And since we had an Atrium cabin, we were able to see this area all of the time.

Our cabin was very nice. It is a little smaller than an inside cabin on Carnival, but we had plenty of room. The bed is queen size and very comfortable. There is a small sofa, table, dressing station, a fairly large closet and a smaller-than-Carnival bathroom. There’s even a small sofa at the window so you can sit and watch the action down on the Promenade, as well as in other cabins if their curtains happen to be left open. There is a safe inside the closet that allows you to create your own 4-digit number to use to open it. We kept all of our valuables inside the safe during the cruise.

The shower in the cabin is round and doesn’t allow too much movement. A person of large stature (300 lbs +) might find it difficult to use. TIP: If you use the shower before the ship sails, please keep an eye on the water at the bottom of the shower, as the drain was very slow, coming close to overflowing. Our steward told us that it did this while in port, but it would be fine after the ship sailed. And it was.
After getting things put away in our cabin, we headed to the Windjammer Island Grill for lunch. The food here was OK. It is typical buffet-style food, but after only having a snack on the plane, it was filling. They had meatloaf, pasta, hamburgers and hotdogs, etc. The ice tea that they serve was the same that we’ve had on previous cruises. It is a fruit flavored tea that I personally don’t care for, but my wife does. You can get other drinks, such as apple and orange juice, coffee, milk and water. My wife, the coffee drinker, said that the coffee was very strong. We had heard from other posters that it was nasty, so she packed some coffee in our carryon, but she never used it. She “aquired” the taste of the coffee served onboard.

After lunch, we explored the AOS. What a beautiful ship! Everything was spotlessly clean. We checked out the dining room to see if we had been awarded the table of two that we requested and, sure enough, we found out that we had. The first time ever! The dining room is absolutely beautiful. It is 3 stories tall with a wonderful winding staircase at one end.

We checked out the rest of the ship, including the minature golf course, rock climbing wall, basketball court and ice rink. It is hard to imagine all of this on a cruise ship. We walked down the Promenade to see the sports bar, café, gift shops and jewelry shops. Then it was off to locate my wife’s favorite spot…the casino. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching passengers board the ship and enjoying the warm weather.

For the first time, our luggage arrive before our 6:30 pm Main Dinner seating. The dinner, as well as all dinners that we enjoyed during the cruise, was excellent! Everything was delicious and well presented. Compared with Carnival, the meals were as good, if not just a little better. During the entire cruise, there was only one item that I ordered that I didn’t like. And one night, my wife ordered Jamaican Jerk Chicken, which was a little spicier that she liked. Other than that, we had absolutely no complaints about the meals.

But what impressed us the most about our dining room experiences was the service. The waiter, assistant waiter and beverage server were the best we have ever had! Lubo (our waiter), Renee (assistant waiter) and Sahdan did an outstanding job. All three were really on the ball and made our dining room experiences memorable. In fact, every crew member we encountered treated us very kindly. Hats off to RCCL and their staff!

After dinner, we enjoyed the thrilling muster drill. Having this at 8:30pm was not too bad. At least it was not hot outside, since this drill lasted longer than the 15-minutes that were we told. At 10:00pm, the ship set sail. Then it was off to the “Welcome Aboard” show.

The entertainment aboard the AOS was spectacular. Mike Hunnerup, the Cruise Director, did a pretty good job. Other entertainers included a couple of comedians from Las Vegas and a female comedian. All three were very good. A couple from Hungary did some acrobatic stunts that, too, were amazing. But the highlight of the cruise was the ice show! You will need to get your complimentary tickets ahead of time, but it was well worth seeing. Try not to miss this one!

Our first day at sea involved a lot of relaxing around the pool area. The AOS has several pools, and many hot tubs. There are lots of deck chairs and, yes, chair hogs! Finding a chair is easy. However, it’s the chairs near the pools that the hogs go after. You have to get up early to get one of these. TIP: pack some clothes pins to hold you towel to your chair! It gets pretty windy out there and we saw towels blowing off chairs all the time.

Make sure you use plenty of sunscreen, as the sun does get pretty warm. Both of use got sunburnt after only 2 hours. Neither of us could wear our sneakers comfortably for the rest of the cruise.

Our ports of call included Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Here is what we did at each port:

Aruba: We signed up for the “See & Sea Tour”. This tour took us around the island, stopping to see some rock formations, the Natural Bridge, and the various scenery the island has to offer. One side of the island is green with lots of vegetation. The other side is like a desert, with lots of cactus. Then it was off to board a semi-submersible boat that took us over coral reefs and a ship wreck. This was a very interesting tour. Afterwards, it was off to Carlos & Charlies for lunch.

Curacao: We didn’t sign up for any shore excursions here. Instead, we walked from the ship to the downtown area for some shopping. It’s about a mile walk, with vendors all along the way. One thing you need to check out while here is the floating bridge! Very unique.

St.Martin: WOW…what a beautiful island! We signed up for the “Beach Rendevous Tour” here. This tour took us to Orient Beach for a day of relaxation and lunch. The beach is probably the prettiest beach we have ever been to. The sand is cool and the water clear. But the scenery is worth the trip alone. The scenery does, however, include things that you normally don’t see back here in the USA. Orient Beach is a clothing-optional beach. Only a few women went topless here, but at the other end of the beach it’s totally nude. So keep this in mind if you have small children with you. I highly recommend spending some time here if you get the chance. It really is a very nice beach.

St.Thomas: Since we had been here before, the only thing that we did was to take the “Screaming Eagle Jet Boat Tour”. WOW…what a ride! This boat will take 20 passengers for a thrill of a lifetime. It’s a 700-hp boat that will do high-speed turns, spins and stops. And you will get soaked! You will cruise along some wonderful coastlines and see the sights of the port city. You’ll see porpoise and turtles. This tour is well worth the money!

This cruise was one of the best we’ve been on yet. As compared to Carnival, they are really about the same. There were things that this cruise line offered that the other didn’t and vice versa. Carnival offers more live bands, while RCCL offers more activities. We had a great time and wouldn’t hesitate to take another RCCL cruise. In fact, we’re considering a “Mariner of the Seas” cruise next. The staff aboard the AOS was the best we’ve ever experienced. The ship quickly became our favorite one, so far. And St.Martin became our all-time favorite port of call. Yes, we had a wonderful time on this cruise. But with the good, comes the bad.

Debarkation was typical of any cruise ship. Long waits to get off the ship. After sitting in the Lyric Theatre for almost 3 hours and watching the “Cat In The Hat” movie 3 times, we finally left the ship at 10:30am. You leave the ship when your flight time is called, unlike Carnival, who calls you by your luggage tag color. Transportation to the airport was a breeze. It was at the airport where all of the problems began!

With 4 cruise ships returning to port at the same time and 10,000 passengers heading to the airport, it made for very, very long lines at the ticket counters. We arrived at the airport at 10:45am for a 3:05pm flight home. After standing in line for the Delta ticket counter for over 2 hours, and waiting in the security line for almost 2 hours, we got to our gate just as they were beginning to board the plane. All of this taking place in an airport without air conditioning! There were many irate people with short tempers, people cutting in line, people in the wrong lines, etc. It was a total mess. IF we were to ever sail out of San Juan again, then we would spend an extra day there and fly out early the next day.

Hopefully, I have answered any questions you may have regarding this cruise. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.

[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img] Bill [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

3/28 "Adventure of the Seas" Cruise
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Welcome back Bill [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] Thank you for your very information review, glad you enjoyed your vacation!

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Navigator of the Seas 6/26/04

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I really enjoyed your review. Thank you for sharing.

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Email: [email]Deanna34769@wmconnect.com[/email]

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Until our Martian Yatch Club Adventure

RCCL Adventure of the Seas 11/14/04
RCCL Voyager of the Seas 10/26/03
Carnival Pride 11/9/02
Premier Cruise Lines (5 sailings)

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Thanks for the review. We just returned from the AOS in January and we enjoyed it just as much as you!

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UNTIL I SET SAIL ON THE JEWEL OF THE SEAS
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Great to hear you enjoyed the cruise and AOS we will be on her 10/31 and sometimes I have been discouraged by some reviews of her. But any cruise is wonderful IMO so I really don't care what others think but sometimes they are so negative.

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Thanks so much for the great review. We are doing exact same itinerary and ship in mid June this summer and really looking forward to it.

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wondeful review. we sail her in may!!!

ALICE & DEAN
ADVENTURE 5/23/04 EXPLORER 9/27/03
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time left till adventure of the seas

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Jordan - Have you been on Carnival recently? Its been about three years for me. I keep reading posts about how much their food has improved and much better their activities are. I'm asking because Im thinking about trying the Valor and cancelling the Voyager next February. Just wanted your thoughts because you seem pretty unbiased in your review which is very refreshing. Thanks

Rick

Norwegian Sea 8/94
Ecstasy 8/96
Nordic Empress 6/97
Imagination 8/98
Carnival Destiny 8/00
Carnival Triumph 7/01
Voyager of the Seas 3/04
Navigator of the Seas 08/07/2004....
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Seconds Please on the Voyager of the Seas!!!! 02/26/2005
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Great review and we're sorry we missed you guys. There was so much to do aboard the AOS that time got away from us.

We too found embarktion incredibly fast and painless (and courteous). The crew and staff were friendly and helpful and seemed to sincerley appreciate our patronage.

We also had an atrium room (4 of them actually) and found them very comfortable with ample space. The bathroom size, for us, was not an not an issue and was very functional.

After reading many reviews discussing food quality, we were very pleasantly surprised to find the food ranging from very good to excellent. Service was exceptional (thanks Christina and Jasper) and we all got really attached to "our" wait staff and felt sad to part.

This cruise was exceptional with a few exceptions. We did run across a handful of future inmates who seemed to be totally free to do as they pleased wherever they pleased. These felons-in-training were well versed in the art of using profanity where none was called for, as well as being the type of turds that were caught several times pushing all the elevator buttons on every elevator and then standing back and laughing at the inconvience they caused others.

The only other negative item we noticed on the cruise were what you called chairhogs. I have some other words for them that seem better suited to their level of rudness, but we'll stick with chairhogs. I would never dream of being so inconsiderate that I would "save" a chair buy laying a towel on it so that someone else couldn't use it, especially if I only spent a minimal amount of time in the chair that I prevented others from using for an entire day. Someone needs to explain this one to me, because I don't understand it.

We found the ice show fabulous!

Our favorite ports, by a wide margin were St. Maarten and Aruba. St. Thomas has become a hotter version of Pigeon Forge Tennessee and Curaco, while freindly, seemed to have little to offer.

San Juan was a nightmare! We spent several days there, and will never go back. The people seemed to resent the presence of tourists, the service was exceptionally bad everywhere we went, navigating the city is impossible and it seemed everyone we handed money to (from cab drivers to cashiers) were unable to count and attempted to give the wrong change (3 guesses whose favor the error was on).

Great cruise. Great cruise line. Great service. Great ports (for the most part). Nightmare departure port. While we will take many more RCCL cruises in the future, San Juan will never figure into our plans again.

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Great Review folks! I like hearing good things!

WOO HOO! Welcome to the Martian Yacht Club!
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SS Emerald Seas 81
SS Viking Serenade 92
SS Nordic Empress 93
SS Norway 15 Cruises since 93
SS Majesty of the Seas 98
SS Norewgian Sea 99
SS Carnival Destiny 2000
SS Carnival Destiny 2001
Voyager of the Seas 26Oct03
Adventure of the Seas 14Nov04

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Wow! This review makes me feel better about picking the AOS for our first RCL cruise. We too are Carnival veterans wanting to try another cruise line. I was getting concerned with all the negative reviews on this board regarding food, kids etc. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

RCL Adventure of the Seas July 4, 2004
Till we leave :
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Carnival Destiny 7/01
Carnival Pride 7/02


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Thanks for taking the time to write your comments.

Can both of you expand on the bar/lounge/live entertainment aspect?

Any good bands? Was there a disco type atmosphere for an old foggy like me? Kareoke, any experiences?

Thanks,

Glen

CCL Fantasty - 85
CCL Destiny - 99
NCL Sky - 00
CCL Destiny - 01
NCL Star - 02
CCL Inspiration - 03
vegas trip- can I do this on a cruise board?
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The big 50 years old cruise
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RCI Adventure - 05 'BIG 50'

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Thanks for the review! If you don't mind a question, did you have one steward for your room or a team of 2-3 stewards?
Chris

Adventure of the Seas
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Thanks for the reviews. We were on Exployer of the Seas Jan. 2002, then went on Radiance Jan. 2003. We liked Radiance but missed the voyager class ships. We signed up for AOS for Jan. 2005 can't wait! The reviews of what you did in each port really helps.

Thanks again

Sea Princess 2000
Grandeur of the Seas 2001
Infinity 2002
Exployer of the Seas 2003
Radiance of the Seas 2004
upcoming Adventure of Seas Jan. 2005

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I also loved that ship and want to go back on her very badly! And I loved all the ports except Aruba. Noit that it was bad, but for me at least a one visit port.

My vacation pics[url="http://community.webshots.com/user/abridalmaven"]http://community.webshots.com/user/abridalmaven[/url]
Norwegian Dawn May 23
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Thanks for the great reviews, guys! I will be there in just a few weeks and started to get concerned from all the bad publicity the AOS has been getting. You all make it sound beautiful! Thanks! Debbie [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

<MARQUEE direction=left width=33%>[B]ADVENTURE ON THE AOS 4/25/04 [/B]</MARQUEE>

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by glentally:

Can both of you expand on the bar/lounge/live entertainment aspect?

Any good bands? Was there a disco type atmosphere for an old foggy like me? Kareoke, any experiences?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Glen, although I can't drink alcohol, I did spend some time in several of the bars and they all have very different personalities. From the elegant Champagne Bar & Imperial Lounge, to the the wilder Jesters & Blue Moon. I have no doubt you'll gravitate toward one or two have a great time.

The karaoke was a hoot. We had the best time watching the performers, Some were excellent while others were horid. A lot of fun.

On the band side, The performers that I heard were all first rate, but we really didn't run across too many while we were there. I guess we were either in the wrong place at the wrong time or there weren't that many bands there in the first place.

All I can say is if a passenger aboard the AOS doesn't have a good time, either they aren't trying to have one, or their expectations are off in la la land.

Have fun.

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Well said, Rick! The entertainment on the AOS was as good as any on the cruises we've taken in the past. We were hoping to see a live band that played oldies or country every night, but there were none. The only live band onboard the ship was "House Party" and they only played one night ("Dancing Thru the Decades" in Studio B). They were pretty good, but wished they had played more.

sbgrace...there is only one cabin steward per cabin. Ours did an outstanding job!

Glentally...the kareoke (sp) was subpar to what we've seen on Carnival. The cruise staff member that hosted it, Felix, could hardly speak English and his humor left alot to be desired. The main problem was the lack of volunteers to sing! It seemed as though the same people sang song after song every night. Some, like Brad, did a very good job. A guy sang "New York, New York" better than I've ever heard it sang! All-in-all, it was OK.

The food onboard the AOS was just as good as any ever enjoyed on our Carnival cruises. We sailed aboard the "Inspiration" last summer, so we are aware of their improvements in the food department. We have ALWAYS had great food on all of our cruises!

[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img] Bill [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]

3/28 "Adventure of the Seas" Cruise
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mombandy4 - What bad publicity? I've not heard anything like that. [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

Adventure of the Seas will be our maiden cruise!
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My wife and I were also on Adventure of the Seas that sailed the southern caribbean mar 28-Apr 4 2004. This was our first cruise ever -- and here's my review:

[B]Arrival:[/B] Arrived at San Juan around noon and found the RCI reps very easy to find to get to our transfer. The van ride to the ship was fine. Note -- The two of us were able to get all of our stuff into two carry-ons each (a backpack and a 24" carry-on drag behind) so we had no checked luggage to claim. The van had overhead storage for bags.

[B]Embarkation:[/B] What a pleasure. Huge building; separate lines for each deck; quick check-in especially due to completing boarding documentation online before the cruise. Then, a quick stop at the security kiosk so that they can take your picture (for use by the security crew to verify you are who your Seapass® card says you are each time you return to the ship in port) and up the ramps to the ship (segregated by fore and aft located cabins).

[B]Finding Our Room: [/B]Easily located -- cabin 8764; port-side/aft. Signage all around this huge ship was very good. Though it was only 1:30 PM the room was ready for us -- and since we carried on our luggage we were able to unpack and hang up things right away.

[B]Other Room Stuff: [/B] We had a D8 - Ocean View cabin with verandah. What a treat having a (fairly) private space to relax outside and see the sea (and other sights). Queen size bed (two beds combined but done so well you'd swear it's only one) was very comfortable, had room to stow our empty luggage underneath and plenty of closet space, shelves and drawers (for two adults, that is). Bathroom was very well laid out, and since we mainly use a shower stall at home, the tubular shower on the ship was not an issue. [B]Thing I brought that I was glad I did:[/B] A 6-outlet power strip. With that my camera battery could be charging while my wife's hot-rollers and curling iron could both be plugged in, while my cell-phone (usable in San Juan, St. Thomas, and while traveling to and from home) could recharge.

[B]Dining and Food: [/B]Much better than led to believe by reading some of the comments on these boards. We had Main Seating (6:30 PM) and that was fine -- we had plenty of time to get ready for dinner even after returning from shore excursions and it helped even out the food intake over the course of the night. We also were given a table for two. At first we considered trying to trade it in, thinking that part of the cruise experience was meeting other people. But, we kept it, figuring we'd have plenty of time to socialize elsewhere (which we did). This also allowed us to arrive at our table within a wider time range and not have to worry about everyone else eating their entrees while we waited for our appetizers. Dinners were great in the dining room. We also had breakfast in the dining room on two occasions, also having it in Island Grill as well as room service. Room service breakfast was the least desirable of the three as the menu is limited. But it was delivered on time and they call you on the phone two minutes before delivery which makes sure you're up.

[B]Alternative Dining: [/B]We did do the [I]'Portofino'[/I] specialty Italian restaurant one night ($20 extra pp) and that was excellent as well. Ask your headwaiter in the dining room which night would be best for that so that you don't miss anything "special" in the main dining room. [I]'Johnny Rockets'[/I] - a bit of a line to eat there for lunch on a sea day. Food was good, but the best part were the wait staff, who break out into song and dance on occasion. So I suggest eating inside rather than outside for that reason.

[B]Drinks - Because I know it matters to some:[/B] [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] Expensive? So-so... But there are things you can do to get them most for your money. [I]Wine with Dinner [/I]- Don't buy by-the-glass. Buy a bottle and your Asst. Waiter will save whatever is left for the next night and so on until it's gone. Prices were reasonable for a restaurant. [I]Champagne [/I]- Cheapest glass of Champagne (Moet-Chandon) is $9.95. Cheaper and more fun are champagne cocktails (champagne with Midori, Apple Schnapps, Peach Schnapps, etc.) at $7.95/ea. Best Buy: At the Champagne Bar (only there) located on Deck 5, you can buy pre-paid Champagne cocktail cards - 10 cocktails for 43.13 (including gratuity) or $4.13 each. My wife and I "shared" 30 of them over the course of the week [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] [I]Soft-Drinks -[/I]I like soda. I don't drink coffee so I guess I get my caffeine from Coke. I bought the unlimited soft-drink card and while some might think the $48 for the week excessive, trust me in the end I paid less than I would have if I purchased them separately. Also, our Asst. Waiter had my "Coke-no ice" ready and replenished each night at dinner.

[B]Entertainment:[/B] By far the best were the entertainers from "off the ship." In particular, [url="http://www.twofunnyguys.com/"]'Two Funny Guys'[/url] - Mario and Daniel who play the 'Venetian' hotel in Las Vegas were great. The RCI house entertainers were 'OK', but not better than you'd see in Disney World. Cruise Director Mike Hunnerup was good and much of his staff were, too. Best Game: The Love & Marriage (Newlywed Game format) one where three couples compete. Adventure Quest was fun, too. Karaoke was OK. Bingo on he last night was surprisingly exciting as they give away whatever remaining pot was left. For our cruise, $10,800 was shared by three simultaneous winners.

[B]Shore Excursions: [/B]Wed did at least one in each port.
<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI> Aruba - [I]Morning:[/I] Catamaran Snorkeling Trip - Good time was had, two snorkeling stops (one in 15' of water; the other in 40' over a WWII freighter wreck) followed by a barbecue lunch on a pier. [I]Evening:[/I] Kuku-Kunuku Dinner and Pubs. We had a blast on this 6 hour excursion. Big red party bus with no windows, garish paint job, morroccas for all and a bus horn that played the opening strains of the 'Godfather' theme. Throw in entertaining bus driver, outrageous bus host and blaring island music and you have a party on wheels. Stopped for s sunset champagne toast; dinner at the house of Bruce Lee's brother (I kid you not); and then three bars: "La Ronda Cafe"; "UWannaBeer"; and, of course, "Carlos & Charlie's." If you get "into it" you'll have a great time - if not, do something else.<LI> Curacao - Another snorkeling tour, this time off a dive boat. Another wreck, this time a tug boat. Better snorkeling as the water was clearer and there seemed to be more fish. Afterwards, we explored Willemstad, and ate lunch outdoors observing the floating bridge opening and closing. Had to actually make a run for it as it was just about to open again -- odd feeling to jump onto a moving platform. <LI> Sint Maarten - Our favorite island. Splurged and did the "America's Cup Regatta" excursion. You get to actually be part of the crew of a 12 meter racing yacht that was used in the mid-80's in the "America's Cup" races. Raced on Canada's 'Tru North IV' against one of the "Stars & Stripes" - and won. Roles on board range from active (primary grinders and main grinders), semi-active (back-stay winch and winch-wench), and inactive (timekeeper, bartender, sunbather). Professional crew of three give training and commands and the race was exhilarating. Even got a chance to drive the boat (30-tons of racing yacht) after it was over. <LI> St. Thomas - Back in the Water with 'BOB' (Breathing Observation Bubble). Sort of an underwater scooter, electrically powered, where you slide your head up into an attached helmet so it is dry with air supplied from a scuba tank to breathe. You then take an underwater tour. You get about 30 minutes in the BOB, then can snorkel while others take their turn.[/list]

[B]Things we did not like:[/B] [I]VIP Passport for Shopping.[/I] Heavily hyped by "Shopping Shelby" your cruise shopping advisor, $20 for a ton of coupons. But, the coupons are for all Caribbean islands not just the ones you are visiting, and much of the "free" stuff us tiny -- ex., "free tanzanite earring" = a tiny fleck in a yellow metal setting. Buy the book only if you are certain you will be buying a big-ticket ($500+) item where some of the larger value coupons can come into play. Do attend Shelby's Shopping lectures though. You do get some insight as to where to find things. Sit in the 2nd or 3rd row center to catch some of the free trinkets she throws out. [I]Availability of some features: [/I]Rock climbing; in-line skating and ice skating sound great, but most are only available in two hour sessions twice a day. [I]"24 Hour" Pools: [/I]Or so they claim, except when you try to go swimming at midnight and see many of them closed for "chlorination" -- something I know needs to be done but perhaps could be done in the 3-5 AM range. And, what appears to be common to all cruise lines so I can't hold RCI responsible for this, [I]Early Port Departure.[/I] On seas days, the ship cruises at 15-18 knots (of the 23 knot max speed) - cool. But on short hops (Sint Maarten to St. Thomas; St. Thomas to San Juan) it has to slow to 8 knots in order to not get there too early, yet they still depart at 5:30 PM. Why? So that you can spend your money in the casino and shops and bars, of course. But, I'd prefer having more time on-shore and a 10:00 PM departure for those short trips.

[B]Service:[/B] Excellent. Cabin Steward Stanley was great, loved the animal towels, always had enough beach and bath towels; Waiter Benjamin of the Philippines was excellent, once overhearing me say that the pork-chop I had was small, so he brought out another, huge one; Assistant Waiter Daniel of Romania was excellent (especially with our multi-night bottles of wine and my Coke with no-ice); Headwaiter Emilia (also Romanian I think) was extremely friendly and personable.

[B]Overall Impression from a first-time cruiser: [/B]The best vacation of my life, on a great ship. I now think of cruising and doing so on Voyager class ships like I do about new automobile accessories - once you get them, they now become necessities going forward.

Sorry for the length of the above, but it was a (so far) once in a lifetime experience.

Ron & Debbie, Wayne, NJ

[B]Ron & Debbie[/B]

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Until Adventure of the Seas

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The time in port is something that is set by the ports themselves.

My vacation pics[url="http://community.webshots.com/user/abridalmaven"]http://community.webshots.com/user/abridalmaven[/url]
Norwegian Dawn May 23
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;5;23;17;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]

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Punderful:

Thank you also for a great review. We are sailing on 6/13/04 and cant wait to see her.

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Great Review Punderful!
Hey what night did you guys "do" Portofino's?

I totally agree about that dad-gummed coupon book! UGH!! My other half HAD to have it so we bought it and I still wanna throw it in the trash!!! What a waste of money that was!! I could have had a few drinks! LOL!! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

WOO HOO! Welcome to the Martian Yacht Club!
[img]http://community.the-underdogs.org/smiley/misc/abducted.gif[/img]

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=9400d3&cdt=2004;11;14;22;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
SS Emerald Seas 81
SS Viking Serenade 92
SS Nordic Empress 93
SS Norway 15 Cruises since 93
SS Majesty of the Seas 98
SS Norewgian Sea 99
SS Carnival Destiny 2000
SS Carnival Destiny 2001
Voyager of the Seas 26Oct03
Adventure of the Seas 14Nov04

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