Overall Rating: Very Good
|Destination:||Caribbean - Eastern|
|Departed From:||Ft. Lauderdale, FL|
|# of Nights:||7 Nights|
|Overall Rating:||Very Good|
We were watching our budget on this one so that our daughter and SIL could join us on a warm getaway, so we chose the Adventure of the Seas, a class of ship I have sailed on before, and thought would appeal to all of us. This is an older ship of RCI but very well maintained on the whole. The one area that could use a bit more tender care are the staterooms. Boarding was very smooth, partly because we are Emerald (making Diamond on this cruise,) and partly because they have streamlined everything so that you can get right on board and locate your room cards at your cabin door. The cabin hallways were closed off until 1:00, which is customary for RCI. We went up to the Windjammer, which was berzerk, as it usually is on embarkation day, but managed to find a table fairly quickly. I was immediately impressed by the variety and quality of the food at the buffet. And as it turned out, that impression held true no matter what venue we ate from. So kudos to RCI - I feel like they have really stepped up their cuisine game! The other immediate impression I got was that there were a "boat-load" of kids on this cruise. Yes....it is spring break time....and yes....I did know that when I booked...but WOW! I have never seen that many kids on one cruise before...and it did impact our enjoyment to a degree, mainly because they were allowed to basically roam the ship in unsupervised "packs" (thank you, parents.) We did the buffet exclusively for breakfast, most lunches, and several dinners and were always very pleased with the food. Anytime Dining in the MDR was hit-or-miss service-wise, even though we were in the same section every night we ate there...the personnel seemed to changed not only nightly, but midstream during the meal! Everyone was very friendly and were dashing around like crazy, but not always with the best outcome. Again, though, the food was always very good. On the final night onboard we did eat at Johnny Rockets and were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and ice cream concoctions.
This itinerary included Labadee, which is always a nice, relaxing beach day. We had reserved clamshells, and our daughter and "guy" did the zipline which streams across the ocean in front of the beach, so we could watch them zoom past. They loved it! The ocean floor is very rocky, which limited our ability to stay in the water, but the beach itself is very nice and well-kept. They have really built up the facilities since we were there last and it was pleasant to stroll around the "town". Next up was San Juan, PR. We were anxious to see how the recovery is going and there is still a lot to be done, but the Old San Juan Area is very much alive. We took a tour to Casa Bacardi, which carried us through some of the other side of the bridge and you could see the damage to the trees and structures that still are waiting to be repaired. Casa Bacardi is definitely worth a visit - it is very well done. Since we were in port late, we decided to have dinner in Old San Juan so went to a restaurant recommended by our tour guide which was within several blocks of the ship: Raices. There was a short wait and then we were seated, surrounded by other cruise passengers but many locals as well. And the food was fabulous! This was my favorite meal of the cruise, and my favorite stop as it was so lovely to stroll through the town in the beautiful evening air and the friendly, laid-back atmosphere. There are many vendor carts set up, especially by the pier, but never was anyone aggressive or loud. In fact, they didn't even call out to you - their wares were just there to see if you were so inclined. The final stop was Ste. Maarten. Since this was another heavily impacted port, we were anxious to see how they were doing. Most things that would appeal to cruise passengers are up and running, however there are still many properties (hotels, restaurants...) that are waiting to be rebuilt. Front Street and the Boardwalk are open and we enjoyed some beers by the beach and a lovely lunch at Greenhouse. We also paid a visit to "The Yoda Man" - the artist who created Yoda's appearance, along with many Star Wars and other action movie characters. He has a small museum there and many collectibles, particularly from Star Wars. While we were touring the museum, the power went out, which they mentioned was still an all-too-frequent occurrence. They had to run out back to start up the generator and then reset everything so they could continue doing business. I had found quite a few items to purchase since my Grandson and other SIL are rabid Start Wars fans, and had planned to pay by credit card, but they could not get that process up and running again. But by then I felt so sorry for them I scraped every dollar together that we had and bought everything anyway. I figured I had access to an ATM at least on the ship, and they definitely needed the cash flow.
We had 3 days at sea, one outgoing and two coming back, and we were always able to find a deck chair....away from the pool area. The Solarium was a "no-go" unless you wanted to haul yourself down there about 5:30 and reserve loungers.
The entertainment on this cruise was quite spotty...the production shows were okay, but I think the choreography and caliber has declined, maybe because they are focusing on major productions on their bigger and newer ships? The lounge entertainers were better, but the venues have been made smaller, so they were always very crowded and quite loud.
The variety of stores and merchandise for sale was good, with items in every price range. The casino is huge, but mostly filled with smoke, which made it hard to spend much time there (not such a bad thing, actually, because the machines were quite stingy!)
All in all we had a great time - not our best, but certainly not anywhere near regrettable...) We don't rule out another cruise on this ship, but certainly will pick a different time of year, which might leave us with a better impression. And to RCI, I would say, keep up the good work on the cuisine - bravo!!