Overall Rating: Excellent
|Destination:||Caribbean - Southern|
|Departed From:||San Juan|
|# of Nights:||7 Nights|
Karen and I sailed on Adventure of the Seas for your 22nd anniversary. With the weather on the east coast cold, we enjoyed 84 degree weather for the week and only 1 partly rainy day.
While we had sailed on the inaugural cruise of the Freedom of the Seas, we had never sailed on a Voyager class ship, so Adventure was our first.
Embarkation was a mess, due to the fact that the ship had just arrived from a transatlantic crossing and customs/immigration for the crew and debarking passengers was VERY slow. When we arrived at the pier in San Juan about 4pm the embarkation lines were long and outside. Fortunately, we are Diamond members of Crown & Anchor club, and when I asked a cruise line rep I saw on the pier if there was a Diamond embarkation line, he escorted us all the way to the door, bypassing the long line. Some of these people were still waiting at 6pm when they had the lifeboat drill. Even the first seating was delayed 30 minutes, as was the second seating.
We had a nice balcony cabin on deck 6 starboard side aft. Storage space was amply. The balcony only had 2 regular chairs and a small table, not really large enough for a breakfast. However we didn't use room service breakfast all week.
I had been unimpressed with RCCL food over the years, and on a 12 night cruise this year they didn't even have lobster once.
On this cruise the food was terrific, we had lobster and shrimp one night, and the table staff was the best in our 61 cruises.
We had a table for 2 at the second seating and they were prompt, anticipated our needs, and even the Head Waiter stopped by regularly and was assisting the wait staff with various tasks.
We found many Europeans who had made the transatlantic sailing that were sailing the 7 night cruise back to back. In fact, we met a couple from Norway who were on their 9th sailing of the Adventure of the Seas. It seems to be a favorite ship for many people.
We went up to the Lido for breakfast the 2nd morning and it was not memorable. There was a 15 minute wait for omelettes. They don't have the actions station "islands" that have been installed on even some of the older RCCL ships that eliminate lines. They have the conventional buffet lines. You can't pour your own beverages. We tried it for a late lunch one day after returning to the ship and the service was not good, no lemons for iced tea, etc. That is the last time we ate in the Lido all cruise.
The Diamonds, those past passengers with 10 or more combined Celebrity/RCCL cruises, have a private dining area every day that is quick, and the service outstanding. Our own dinner wait staff were even there one day. In the evening from 5-8:30pm there is a lounge, in this case the 19th Hole on deck 14, that provides free beer, and wine, including champagne. The result was we didn't order a bottle of wine some nights at dinner, as a result, but only a glass or 2. That was a savings on our shipboard account. They also have an additional past passenger reception, and they provided a preview during it of 2 of the featured dancers from the production show.
There were numerous times and several locations for dancing, although 1/3 of it was salsa/latin due to the sailing from San Juan and the many Puerto Ricans aboard. Announcements were in English, Spanish, French and German. Unusual for a Caribbean sailing. Most ballroom dancing was in the Imperial Lounge, forward on the Promenade Deck. The ice show was terrifiic, as usual, and the 2 production shows were very good. However, they were very poorly attended. They had 7pm shows for late diners, and 9pm shows for early diners, and neither was even half full. No problem getting excellent seating. We don't usually attend the entertainers/comedians shows, however.
There were 2 parades on the Promenade, one on sail away and one during the week. The performers really seem to be enjoying themselves, and they are not all regular entertainment staff.
The itinerary included the first day at sea, followed by daily stops in Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten, and St Croix.
We spent the day at the Boatyard beach in Barbados, after walking to town and observing the Cheapside Market. $12 per person admission includes use of all facilities, one drink, and a taxi ride back to the ship. They also had "happy hour" from 12-1 and 3-10pm, and some free shots. I don't remember them doing that in previous trips, but we enjoyed it.
In St Lucia we took a taxi to Sandals Regency La Toc, and their shuttle to Sandals Grande St Lucia. As a Sandals Certified Specialist, I am required to inspect at least one resort annually, and they provide a free day pass for us. We arrived in time for breakfast and stayed through a late lunch, enjoying the beach. Traffic was heavy as there were 3 ships in port.
In Antigua we took a taxi to Sandals Grande Antigua. We did do room inspections there, and also had breakfast and lunch. I had registered for a snorkeling excursion in the afternoon but it was cancelled due to impending weather. It rained periodically during the day.
In St Maarten we did our usual: we had pre-reserved a car from Avis since the last time we were there with many ships in port they doubled the price of rentals. Avis is a short walk outside the pier area. We drove past the airport to Cupecoy where we have used the beach before, then on to Marigot, capital of the French side, to a super market to buy a bottle of French wine (Corbiere), a baguette, some cheese, and some glasses for $10.20. We forgot our plastic wine glasses so we bought some small tumblers.
Then on to Orient Beach for the afternoon, where it was windy but pleasant. That night we celebrated our anniversary at dinner and Karen even wore her 22 year old wedding dress, and looked marvelous.
In St Croix Karen had purchased a snorkeling excursion for me from ShoreTrips, as that was our anniversary day, and we took a taxi from the pier in Fredrickstadt for $6 per person roundtrip to the Sand Castle Hotel where the boat met us. There were just 2 couples on the excursion. We had to wade to the boat. We visited a deep water site where there were two wrecks and saw several barracuda and schools of fish. Then to a more shallow reef site where we saw some stingrays. Not as many fish as I would have expected. After our ride back to the pier we purchased tickets for $16 per person for a roundtrip ride to Christianstadt, the capital. There are more shops, hotels, historic buildings etc in the city. We took a water taxi for $3 per person roundtrip to a small cay called Protestant Cay where there is a beach and an RCI timeshare hotel. Pleasant having a drink on the beach at a table (you don't have to pay for the table/chairs like you would for a lounge chair) listening to music. Ships stopped going to St Croix several years ago due to crime, but they worked to control it, and improve facilities, and ships began going back to St Croix.
We had no problems and found the taxi drivers very amiable and willing to tell us about St Croix. I was my first time there.
Debarkation was very smooth, with no announcements. They simply provided a sheet to each cabin stating where their colored tags could wait and what time to disembark. You didn't need to vacate the cabin by 8 and they served breakfast till 8:30. We chose to wait in the library after breakfast and stay as late as we could as our flight wasn't until 1:30pm. Outside we found a shuttle for $10 per person to the airport. The taxi to the ship had been $19 plus $1 per bag.
In summary, we had a great time, enjoyed the ship, service, and food. There was no tendering, all docked. Although the Adventure of the Seas can carry 3200 passengers it doesn't seem crowded at all except on the Promenade. And it was a great itinerary. The Christmas decorations were very nice.