Let me start this review by saying that I just got home from my cruise vacation on Sunday and I am really sad that it is all over. I left on the Adventure of the Seas on May 25, 2003 and booked the cruise a couple of months before that. During my cruise selection, I was reading the reviews and they were very helpful for me in deciding what cruise line to take and what ship to sail. In knowing how happy I was with reading everyone's review, I knew that I would write one as soon as I got back in hope that I can help someone in their decision making process.
We left the house early on Sunday morning to catch a flight from New York's JFK to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We decided to leave on a 9:30am flight arriving at 1:25pm. We arrived with out any problems in San Juan and The Royal Caribbean staff was waiting for passengers like promised at the gate. Once we gathered our luggage, we were escorted to a bus and then driven to the pier. The bus driver was very nice, giving everyone a mini-tour of San Juan, but all we really cared about was getting to the ship. After a 15-20 minute drive, we were there and we were all awestruck. The shear size of this ship is breath taking. I have never seen anything like it on this planet. There were some other ships at the pier, but The Adventure of the Seas dwarfed them.
Once being dropped off at the pier (2:15pm), we encountered a huge line. Lucky for us, the line was for people who had luggage and did not use one of the transfer services. Everyone on my transfer bus just walked by everyone on the outside line and headed into the pier. Inside the pier we were directed to sit down in rows (chairs were provided) and wait for your row to be called up to the check-in area. This is the line where you get your Sea Pass Account/Room key, etc and start to board the ship. Once we finally got called up from our row, the line to check-in was huge. At least a 2-hour wait. However, if you are staying in a suite, R,A,B,C class stateroom, you are able to avoid the line all together and get served immediately. My girlfriend and I did not have a suite, but my parents did, and they let us check-in with them. My advice is, either get your self a suite, or go with someone who is staying in one.
We boarded the ship at 2:30pm and we were in awe of the elegance of the Adventure of the Seas. She is an absolutely beautiful vessel with many attributes to brag about. As soon as we boarded, I decided to follow other people's suggestions in their reviews and book everything I wanted on the ship. First, I went to the Portofino (Italian reservation restaurant) to make two reservations and next I went to the spa. I was informed at both places that you have a 24-hour window to cancel. So, I booked everything knowing that I could cancel my treatments and second dinner at the Portofino if I did not like the first treatment or dinner reservation. As you will read on, that never happened because everything was great.
As we walked through the ship for the first time, we noticed how everything was very clean and well taken care of. The staff on the ship was very helpful with helping us around and more than happy to serve you any beverage you liked, especially the mixed exotic drinks. When we boarded we were given a map, so we were just following it until we went through every lounge on the 12th and 14th decks. By the way, there are 6 lounges/bars between the two decks. It is a must see. While traveling from the 12th to the 13th deck, we encountered our first glimpse of the in-line skating track, basketball court, and rock-climbing wall. It is awesome. I still can not get over a ship having these attractions. Also, don't forget about the ice-skating rink on deck 2, just in case the other activities are not enough.
There is a lot I could write about this trip, but I think it is more important to read about the essentials. I am going to share my personal views on the food (dining room), Portofino, service, spa, cabins, ports, and excursions.
-One of the criticisms that I read before boarding the ship was that the food was not so good. I tend to agree with that. The ship is serving over 12,000 meals a day and a buffet, so I got what I expected with the food. I would recommend eating in the main dining room for the two formal nights. On those nights (Monday and Thursday), the food was rather good (for the ship) because they had prime rib on Monday and lobster tails on Thursday. These nights I ordered 2-3 servings.
-Another option for food is a reservation restaurant called Portofino. This is where the best food is on the ship. Naturally there is a fee of $20, but it is well worth it. The ambiance is romantic while live music is being played. The service and presentation compares with Manhattan dining. We ate here on Tuesday and Friday.
-For the people that like the great tasting burger, onion rings, and fries, try Johnny Rockets. This is a fun place that is open to 1:00am every night and is a lot of fun. Try their milk shakes or malts for an additional $3.50.
-The service on this ship was fantastic. I do not have one complaint about anything in this area. My head waiter, Okhan was awesome, while my room steward Kathleen was amazing as well. I wish they could see this review, because they deserve the very best. I am sure my gratuity was a great thank you. Also, all the bartenders, servers, assistant waiters, and crew were excellent.
-Like I stated earlier, the spa treatments were great. I am used to treating myself to spa treatments at home, but it is a different feeling doing it on a ship. The treatment that my girlfriend and I enjoyed was a massage. We both found it to be very relaxing. My father treated himself to two massages and a facial and loved it all. Too bad we all can't afford his lifestyle. I highly recommend the spa. Massages cost $109 and facials cost the same (not including tip). They are 55 minute treatments.
-The cabins on the ship were very nice and I would know this because every morning and evening the room stewards cleaned the rooms and left the doors open. Knowing I was going to write this review, I checked out all the cabins except the Royal suite (could not get in there). The inside cabins were a little cramped but still provided enough room for two people. Also, these ships have an inside cabin that has an atrium view. These cabins view the promenade. Very cool, but still a little cramped. The outside cabins were a little larger, but still looked a little tight. Then there were two different types of balcony staterooms. There is the deluxe and superior cabin. The deluxe is 15 square feet smaller than the superior and looked a little tight around the bed, but definitely suitable for two. The cabin I had was the superior, and I really enjoyed the cabin. It was big enough for two and the balcony was fantastic. Then, there are the suites. There are 4 categories of suites. They all looked as if there was plenty of room to walk around and relax in. And most importantly, bigger balconies. My favorite of the cabins was the A suite (owner's suite), but they cost a pretty penny. If money is not a concern, this is the way to go.
-As you have read, we hit five ports of call. At these ports, I went on three excursions. We went to St. Thomas, St. Martin, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
+In St. Thomas, we shopped all morning at Charlotte Amalie and at around 12:00 we went to Magen's Bay. Magen's Bay was rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world and it is a must see. We hung out there for hours and had an unbelievable time. For the people that are interested in the bar seen and have seen the movie Cocktail, with Tom Cruise, that is the atmosphere. Bartenders are throwing drinks, bottles, fruits, and tips everywhere and never seem to miss the glass.
+St. Martin is where I made the big purchase for my girlfriend. We shopped until we found a great little store and picked up a diamond bracelet and earrings at a great price. Check out Ray's Jewelry. Great bargains. After that, we had lunch at this very good restaurant called La Escargot. Give it a try.
+Antigua is where we did our first excursion. We swam with the dolphins and it was fantastic. It is an experience that we will never forget. Unlike some reviews that I have read, we actually got to swim with the mammals for 30 minutes. After the dolphins, we saw very cool birds, turtles, and my favorite, the stingrays. In the stingray water, we were able to feed and play with them. This was a great excursion. However, Antigua as a whole is a very depressed area. This is one of the poorest islands I have seen.
+St. Lucia is where I went deep-sea fishing with my father. To our surprise, the boats that they used were excellent. The captain of the boat took us out for four hours and sort of gave us a tour of the island from the water. The boat had six passengers on it, a fighting chair and two crewmembers. We had good room because we were on a 32 footer. The overall experience was something I will always remember. Too bad we did not catch anything.
+Barbados was my favorite. My girlfriend and I went on the Five Star Catamaran and Sea Turtle Encounter and had a blast. This excursion was awesome. You start off by walking on the catamaran and getting handed champagne, mimosas, or juice. They take you out to a beautiful area to snorkel with the huge sea turtles and upon your return to the catamaran, they have a great lunch prepared for you. They made us chicken, fried fish, cole-slaw, potato salad, and salad. And of course, the open bar. At this point they took us to a beach area and we had a blast. We rented a jet ski and laid out for a bit. This excursion was for five hours and was amazing. This is a must do!
Sadly, all trips must end and it seems like vacations always go by very quickly. So, the good news is that the debarkation was done very smoothly and we all got off the ship by 9:30am. It happened to work out great because our return flight was at 2:45pm and it gave us ample time to get to the airport and have lunch. We boarded the plane at 2:15pm and made our way home to New York a little before 6:00pm.
In many of the reviews that I read people were complaining about the natives of San Juan overwhelming the ship. There happens to be a lot of Spanish people on the ship, but it did not seem to bother me at all. However, it is strange having a lot of people speaking a different language around you all the time.
I am going to conclude my review by saying that this is quite a ship to sail on. We had an unbelievable time and if you are thinking about cruising, this ship is a must. Enjoy, and safe sailing!
If you are a food person, you definitely do not want to miss the midnight buffet. It was fantastic.
And if this was not enough, you could always play a little golf!BON VOYAGE, AND SAFE SAILING!