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lschrage

12/5/04 Adventure Review Part 1

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Hi there-

 

Well, we just returned late last night from our fabulous cruise on the Adventure of the Seas. For those wondering, we did the Aruba route.

 

Overall impressions: Wonderful! So wonderful, in fact, that we booked the same cruise for next year while onboard. It was a very different cruise for Hubby and I since this was the first time we've cruised with a group. It had a completely different feel to it in that we never made it to any of the evening shows, nor either of the midnight buffets. We also had main seating this time, rather than late seating as we've done in the past.

 

Players:

Myself - 35

Hubby - 36

BIL (Hubby's brother) - 35

SIL (Hubby's sister) - 34

Nephew (hubby's sister's son) - 6

Neice (hubby's sister's daughter) - 3

MIL - low 60's

 

Pre Cruise

 

We booked our air to San Juan through Spirit Air as they came in about $200 cheaper than Northwest. Unfortunately, that meant that we had a 7:00 am flight to San Juan with a brief layover in Fort Lauderdale. Since the flight was so early, I booked a room at the Four Points Sheraton near the airport the night before. Got a decent rate ($89/night) that included 8 days free parking, which practically paid for the room. We didn't arrive until about 9:30 that night to the Sheraton due to all the last minute running around and packing that needed to be done (including last minute trips to the vet since one of my two pooches came down with strep throat right before we left....didn't even know that dogs could get strep throat!!!!!!)

 

Finally got to the Sheraton, showered, and got ready for bed, only to have to get up in 5 hours for our 4:30 wake up call. Why did we decide to do this again? 4:30 am is just not a very good time to get up on your first day of "vacation"...

 

We snarfed down breakfast pretty quickly (I brought a box of cereal and a 1/2 gallon of milk with plastic bowls and spoons so that we could eat breakfast in the room and save us some very precious time), and were out the door by about 5:15 am. We dropped the car off at the Qwik Park lot and caught the shuttle to the terminal where Spirit is located. For those that aren't familiar with the Detroit Metro terminals, Spirit is located in the old terminal where Northwest used to be, until Northwest moved into the modern (and spacious) McNamara terminal that was built about 2 or 3 years ago. Well, stepping into Spirit's terminal is akin to stepping into the Stephen King movie/book "The Langoliers". It's old, outdated, and has this "vacant" feel about it. Except for the check in line, which on this particular day is more crowded than normal since the computer system is down. Oh joy, Oh bliss! Glad we got here early!!

 

Finally checked in, and upgraded to Spirit Plus for the Ft. Lauderdale to San Juan leg of the flight. Things are looking better already. Got to the gate with about 20 minutes to spare, and boarded immediately. They held the flight up about 20 minutes or so to make sure everyone got on due to the logjam at check in.

 

Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale a few minutes late, grabbed a quick lunch from the only fast food restaurant in the terminal (don't know the name of it, but do yourself a favor and don't eat there...it was nasty. We're talking thick oily and limp french fries. Yuck!), and waited for our flight to San Juan, which was also running a few minutes late. Finally got on the plane and took off.

 

Spirit Plus is Spirit's version of first class; you get bigger (and leather) seats, beverage/cocktail service, and snacks. Not bad for a $30/person upcharge (for this leg of the flight). I had the window seat and looked out the window just about the entire way. It's very cool to fly along the shoreline of Florida, and even better when you're flying over the Bahamas, as it looks like God's version of a giant blue Etch n Sketch as you fly over the sandbars. Now we're on vacation!!!

 

Arrived in San Juan around 3:15 (and realized that San Juan is actually an hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone) and met up with hubby's family in the baggage claim, as their Delta flight from Atlanta came in only a few minutes later than our flight. We grabbed all of our bags, headed to the taxi dispatcher and got a full size van taxi for all 7 of us plus all of our bags, and headed to the Radisson Ambassador. The taxi ended up costing $27 for all of us, which I thought was pretty cheap. We tipped the guy $10 because of all the heavy lifting that he did with the bags. He was so grateful and happy that he ran back to us (after he counted the $), and gave us his business card so that we could call him when we needed to go to the pier on Sunday. It was a good thing we tipped him what we did as you will see later on....

 

Checked in at the Radisson Ambassador (secured at $85/night through Priceline), and schlepped our stuff up the the room (rooms are average...nothing special about them). Since Hubby and I were still in our Detroit cold-weather travel clothes, we needed to change into shorts as we were beginning to melt. Met up with the family and went across the street to get a snack from Burger King to tide us over until dinner. I ordered a diet coke and a small order of fries and waited FOREVER to get it. Complicated order, I know....Well, this was our first taste of what the service (or lack there of) is like in Puerto Rico. Went back to the hotel, checked out the rooftop pool (pool itself is fine...small, but fairly clean. Hot tub was not running as it was not filled. Deck chairs and tables needed to be cleaned, though), and then wandered over to the beach that's a block or two away from the hotel, and hung out there for a bit.

 

We walked back to the hotel, and left the gang there while Hubby, I, and SIL took a cab to the Pueblo grocery store to stock up on water, pop, and some snacks. Waited FOREVER to check out. We were there so long that I was starting to get worried that we might miss the ship which was to sail in 2 days! Fianlly made it back to the hotel, and changed for our 8:00 dinner reservations at Ajili Mojili.

 

Dinner was very good. We had the appetizer sampler and then the majority of us had the shimp and lobster mofongo (smashed plantains loaded up with garlic and then with shimp in lobster mixed in...very yummy!!!!). Dinner was $217 for the seven of us including tip (but only one cocktail ), so it was a little on the pricey side. Great ambiance, though. I would go back. They had a real christmas tree up in the lobby and I got my first real whiff of christmas for the year (in puerto rico of all places...very cool). We had the restaurant call us a cab, and we waited on the front porch for about 10 minutes. Then we hopped in and all 7 of us headed back to the hotel ($10 cab ride + tip...we learned quickly that cabs are very cheap in puerto rico), and called it a night. We were pooped.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2: The day before the cruise in San Juan

 

Lynne

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Thanks for your review so far, Lynne! I am sailing on the Adventure 2/13/05 and trying to plan a post-cruise stay...the Radisson is one hotel I've been considering, along with the Marriott and the Caribe Hilton. I've never stayed in PR and have been looking hard for information. I'll be looking forward to part 2!

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I'm exactly 1 month after you, 3/13/05. We too are baffled as to what hotel to book.

 

Glen

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To avoid any flight delays from the Thanksgiving weekend, we went down a few days early and stayed at the Caribe Hilton (they pronouce the "e").

 

Someone in our group was a frequent business traveler so he used his Hilton points to get us a free night! This hotel had a Business Lounge that was actually quite vibrant as it would seem that lots of "business types" use their points similar to what we did. We met lots of great folks here, and even a few couples that were sailing on our ship. We kept in contact with these folks all through the cruise and are now sending them Xmas cards.;)

 

This hotel was very nice and is only about a mile from the docks. It had a nice pool, nice resturants, and a Starbucks. :p

 

The rooms can be a bit expensive, but since Old San Juan kind of shuts down in the evenings, having the Business Lounge was quite nice. We usually stayed and talked with new folks or played Majhong till they closed at 11pm.

 

Check out my web review for more info on our cuise!

 

-Zac

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I'm exactly 1 month after you, 3/13/05. We too are baffled as to what hotel to book.

 

Glen

Glen, it certainly has been frustrating. When I booked the cruise it was because the date and the cabin I wanted became available on a Voyager-class ship. I nailed that down and then discovered that February is high-season in PR after the fact. Live and learn but I will be sure and post any useful information I may find here on the boards.

 

Zac, thanks for the info on the Hilton. I loved your review, btw, it was nice to see some positive comments for once!

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Lynne: Great spelling to your name!!! as it is mine!!

Looking so forward to the rest of your review as we are going on the AOS on February 20th.....

So tell us more....

 

Lynne:D

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Thanks for posting your review. I'm looking forward to reading the remainder. We'll be on the AOS on 1/23/05. Can't wait!!

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Hey VanessaC322, my DH and I are on the same sailing as you. I can't wait to go. Was wondering if you are going down a day ahead and if you are where are you staying? Did you sign up for the M & M? I'm sorry for so many questions but there doesn't seem to be many people going on this sailing. Please give me a shout back.

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wife booked the coral princess room for $120 plus tax.

 

Glen

Glen, thanks for the update. I will check it out, as that's about as cheap as I've found. I don't mind spending a little more for the nights we're staying after the cruise if it means a nice pool or beach or cocktail hour included, but for the night before we'll get there late enough that none of those things will matter.

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It's like reading a good mystery, I can't wait to see what's going to happen next. You sense of humor brings a smile to my face. As a fellow Detroit Metro-er I love your describtion of the Smith Terminal. It reminds me of the Tom Hanks movie "The Terminal" when he was living in the part under construction.

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