My wife and I sailed on Adventure of the Seas on the 10/05/2008 sailing. In a word, it was great.
Pre-Cruise We flew into San Juan on Friday, 10/03. It was a direct flight from Hartford, and, believe it or not, was only 60% full! We had plenty of room to stretch out. We arrived at a little after 1:00 PM, and took a cab to the Marriott Stelaris on Ashford Street. It is an absolutely gorgeous property. We had a corner room on the 19th floor.
We looked around the immediate neighborhood after we settled in, and had dinner at Tuscany, one of the restaurants in the hotel. Wonderful, but not inexpensive.
Saturday we took a free bus to Old San Juan and wandered around. In retrospect we should have waited until later in the day or evening, as it was very warm and humid. We had lunch and went back to the hotel. We went to church, came back and had some gelato -- there is a small store right up the block from the hotel -- and settled in to watch the ocean from the balcony for the rest of the evening. Sort of practice for the cruise.
Embarkation We left the hotel and arrived at the ship at approximately 11:15 AM. We were somewhat surprised that there were no porters waiting for the cabs in order to help with luggage. So we started to drag ours through a line to where they were which took about 10 minutes. We are used to Fort Lauderdale where the porters will take the luggage from right next to the cab. No big deal, just different.
We were in line waiting when an RCI employee noticed that we had a junior suite. She immediately escorted us to the front of the line where we went through security and then immediately to the desk where we were given our Sea Passes. This is a great perk as the line was long and it was already hot.
So off we go, up escalators and ramps and finally at the ship itself where once again, we go through security. Once again, everything through the scanners. Again, no big deal, but having gone through once already, this was unexpected.
We then went to our cabin, 9264, starboard side, and dumped our carry-ons and put valuables in the safe. This was around 11:50. While they say the rooms won't be ready until 2:00 PM, ours was. We met the steward and he said it was OK to leave our stuff. Then off to the Windjammer for a bite and then walk the ship for familiarization.
Cabin As I mentioned, we had a junior suite, and compared to other cabins we have had, it was really large. There was a walk-in closet with floor to ceiling shelves and a long clothes rack with plenty of hangers. The bathroom had counter space as well as a cabinet on either side of the mirror for storage. There was also a shelf underneath the counter. It had a bathtub/shower which provided plenty of room. For once I didn't wash the sides of the shower enclosure while showering!
There was a queen size bed, a sleeper sofa, 2 chairs and a small glass topped table. There was also a large mirror with cabinets on either side, and plenty of drawers and other cabinets as well. There was so much storage space that my wife, who packs quite a bit, didn't need all of it.
The balcony was large, with 2 chairs, a chaise and a small table. We are now spoiled for life, and will be sad if we go back to regular balcony cabins.
Our steward was excellent, making different towel animals every night, keeping the cabin spotless, and always attending to it early. We gave him an additional tip in addition to the normal suggested amount which we opted to put on our Sea Pass account.
The Ship The last time we sailed RCCL was in 1999 aboard Monarch of the Seas. It was our first cruise. We thought Monarch was huge when we first saw it. At somewhat over 1,000 feet in length, AOS dwarfs it in comparison.
There is the usual Windjammer in the aft of the pool deck, with the main pool in front of that. This is separated from the Solarium, or adult pool, by bathroom facilities, and back to back bars. The Solarium has 2 jacuzzi's and a small pool. In front of it are the forward elevator bank, and then the spa. We spent all of our pool time in the Solarium area. The only drawback to this was that you could not hear the band as it was near the main pool. Still, it was really nice.
The Promenade, with all the shops and small bars and restaurants is a sight to see. We ate lunch a couple of times at the coffee place (can't recall the name) when we had returned to the ship and it was peak time in the Windjammer. Rather than wandering looking for a table, it was just easier to go there, have a couple of slices of pretty decent pizza, and some pastries, and finally a coffee. In fact, this is where I would go each morning to get the free coffee from the dispensers, and it wasn't all that bad. Not Dunkin' Donuts to be sure, but acceptable. I did this rather than room service, because we are early (6:00 AM) risers, and room service doesn't start usually until 7-ish.
The casino is pretty large, and we made sure to donate our usual few dollars. The theater is also large and has pretty good sight lines. It was interesting that even though the theater has 2 levels, one on deck 3 and the other on deck 4, we never saw anyone in the upper (deck 4) level seats. I have no idea why.
The ship is easy to navigate around as all but a couple of decks have pass through companion ways. This is unlike the Caribbean Princess which we were on last year and had a difficult time getting from fore to aft. I do not like that ship's layout at all.
There are 3 dining rooms in the aft of the ship named Mozart, Strauss, and Vivaldi. All nicely done.
Food It was OK. Some things were excellent, while others were just OK. One thing we did notice was that the menus were not sectioned with Appetizer, Salad, Soup, Entrée, and Dessert. Rather, the left hand page held choices for appetizer, salad and soup, while the right hand page was for entrees. We were never asked what we wished for each course. While I know we could have had all courses, we ordered an appetizer and then the entrée, followed by dessert. Perhaps someone can shed some light on how long this has been going on with RCCL, because it was not that way last year on Princess.
Our waiter, Cyrus, and his assistant were excellent. Cyrus does look like Buddy Holly though. Doesn't know the words to Peggy Sue though.
The one shining moment food wise was Portofino's. We were both absolutely amazed at the presentation, service and quality of food there. We each had the filet, and it was easily one of the best we have ever had. I can't recommend this strongly enough to anyone who wants quality dining. Granted, it's extra, but worth every penny.
One night we skipped the main dining room and went to the Windjammer instead. It was a buffet, and the food was good. They also had a guitarist playing during the time we were there. It was actually a pleasant break from the normal formal dining room routine, and we enjoyed it.
Entertainment If you can at all help it, do not miss the Ice Show. Those performers, doing what they did on an abbreviated ice surface, with the ship moving, are not to be believed. The house was packed and with good reason.
We also really enjoyed both production shows. We thought the dancers were excellent, and the singers good as well. Granted, it's not Broadway, but then what else is? These kids worked their butts off for 45 minutes, and it was good. We did miss the Motown group and heard they had them dancing in the aisles.
Ports Aruba: It rained, and there is nowhere you can buy an umbrella. Took a bus to check out the Marriott Ocean Club (stunning). Bought the magnet and t-shirt, got the DI charm bracelet for the grand daughter and went back to the ship. Next time we will explore more.
Curacao: It didn't rain; walked to the shopping area, got the magnet and t-shirt, took a couple of photos, then headed back to the ship. FYI -- internet access was $1.50 per 30 minutes, which is a great rate.
St. Maartin: Picked up the freebies for the grandkids, a ring for our daughter (and one for my wife as well), and went back to the ship. This was our 4th time there.
St. Thomas: Just went to Havensight where we got another DI charm for our granddaughter, then back to the ship. It rained late morning.
Sea Days We spent our time in the Solarium alternating between the lounge chairs, the pool and the jacuzzi's. We met 2 other couples from Connecticut in the pool at the same time we were. What are the odds?
Miscellaneous I want to give a plug for AOS Guest Services here. In particular Vanessa Rodriguez. When we booked the cruise it was with a $300 on board credit. When we checked our account the Monday after we sailed, it wasn't there. After emails and phone calls to out TA, it appeared that the credit was somewhere in Royal Caribbean's system. Vanessa took ownership of the issue and got it resolved the Wednesday after sailing. We were so grateful for this as we had factored that in our budget. I hand wrote a note to her manager describing what she had done and expressing our thanks. She is good people.
Disembarkation It was the usual thing. We went to the theater to wait for our number to be called. We were in group 3. Well, it was never called until the announcer said that they were disembarking groups 1, 2, 3 and G. No big deal, but that meant that a whole bunch more people now had to climb up the stairway to deck 4 at once. Still, from the time of the announcement until we were looking for the luggage wasn't more than 20 minutes.
We got a porter who helped find our bags, got us through Customs, and got us a cab. This is really the only way to do it. I tipped him well, and we were on our way back to the Marriott.
Post-Cruise This time we had a regular ocean front room on the 18th floor. Since it was very near the corner of the hotel where our other room had been, we had a great view of the ocean as well as Old San Juan.
Our plan was to use the pool Sunday afternoon, but the intermittent rain showers prevented that. So my wife enjoyed the balcony and I watched some football. We had an early dinner, and hit the sack fairly early.
We left San Juan at 8:30 that morning and arrived in Connecticut around 3:15 that afternoon. Walked in the house around 4:30.
Conclusion It was a great cruise, and we had concluded that we are "big ship" people. The staff on board was wonderful, and we will definitely sail RCCL again. Our dream cruise however is a 10-11 day Med cruise, and we are eyeing Celebrity's Solstice, but a lot has to come together to make that happen.
In the meantime, I would heartily recommend AOS to anyone.