My boyfriend, John and I, had this cruise booked for 10 months. I can't believe the trip is now over and I'm writing a review! How time flys! We went with 20 other people, mostly couples..Berna, Max, Mike, Tish, Joanne, Dan, Pat, Doreen, George, Sandy, Rachel, Jane, Mike, Ann, Tammy, Kevin, Michelle, Freddy, Joe and Andrea. This was a first time cruise for both of us. Others in our group had been on cruises before, which was helpful to us when planning our time. I had done a lot of research and reading of other people's reviews also, so I figure I can only return the favor. Hopefully, it will be helpful to those of you who are planning to go on this spectacular ship!
Sunday, March 17, 2002 St. Patrick's Day
6:30am - Left for Logan airport. We flew on American Airlines. The airport was packed when we arrived. There were two lines; one for check in and one for security, both about the same length.long!! It went fairly quickly because they would keep moving you up if your flight time was getting near. by the time we checked our luggage, there was no line for security. I did get pulled aside for a random check. I had to take off my shoes and some sort of paper test was done to check for explosive residue on my bag and sneakers. It didn't take very long though.
9:30am - boarded airplane..we had the emergency exit.lots of leg room. Everyone commented on all of our festive gear.we were all dressed in St. Patrick's Day stuff. Many of us started drinking to celebrate the kick-off of our big vacation. It was a big party flight down.
1:30pm - landed in San Juan (they are an hour ahead of EST, so it was really 2:30). We had to retrieve our own luggage. This is a change since the September 11th events. The airlines don't want Royal Caribbean handling the luggage directly from the airport. We met up with the Royal Caribbean representative and waited in a designated area for about 20-30 minutes for a truck to arrive to transport our luggage to the ship. We then boarded a bus that brought us to the ship's pier. When we got off the bus, we were escorted into a room with a lot of chairs. We sat there until we were called to go to the window to receive our supercharge card. This did not take long at all. There was a duty free liquor store right there offering free shots. So, of course we did two before boarding the ship. We were on the ship by 3:30pm.
My first reaction to the size of the ship was "OH MY GOD, IT'S SO MASSIVE! We walked up the ramps to enter and just before you do, there is a photographer there ready to take your "Welcome Aboard" picture.
There will be many photo opportunities during the week. They display all the photos on Deck 3 in the Photo Gallery. My advice is, get the picture taken! There is no obligation to buy it! I didn't even think about the price of them, this was our big vacation and I wanted the memories to cherish! I do have to say that they should get rid of the fake backgrounds they use for some pictures. I would much rather have my picture taken with the real ship in the background rather than a fake one or some painted canvas!!!
We had a Promenade Stateroom on Deck 7, Room 7305, near The Library. The Library had big comfy leather chairs and lots of books you could borrow. I don't know when you would have time to read though!! Our stateroom had a large bowed window that overlooked The Promenade, which was a whole deck long with bars and shops that reminded me of a mall. I remember that everyday I woke up, I had no idea what day or time it was, if it was dark, light, or raining out!! That was a strange feeling to deal with. Once you got on the elevator though, you knew what day it was. Just look down and the day was displayed on the floor!! Our stateroom attendant was Castro. He left cool towel animals every night.stingray, lobster, bunny, shark. We didn't meet him until late the second day though.Some of the staff: Captain - Johnny Faevelen Staff Captain - Trym Selvaag Cruise Director - Kirk Detweiler Executive Chef - David Southby Chief Purser - Terry Balfour Food & Beverage Manager - Michael Rasmussen
Everyday, a Compass was left for you in your room. It listed the days tips, events, weather, sunrise and sunset, bar service hours and service open hours, pretty much everything going on for that day. Be sure to pay attention.there are days where specials are going on in the shops, etc. that you might want to take advantage of. If you shop on the ship at the end of the week, I hear the prices are lower. I wouldn't know, because I just shopped whenever I wanted!
We immediately went to a bar..the Gravity Sports bar, Deck 5, located along The Promenade.then to the Lobby Bar. Here we bumped into another couple that was with us but had flown up a day earlier. They were allowed to get on the ship around noon. They booked their trip a lot later than everyone else and were put at a different dinner seating. They went to see if they could change it and be with all of us and it was done with no problem whatsoever.
6:00pm - Bon Voyage Dinner. The dining room was amazing! Three levels with a beautiful, very large chandelier. We were near the windows, which allowed us a spectacular view. They would raise and lower the shades depending on what the sun was doing. We had the main dinner seating at 6:00pm. We were in the Strauss dining room, table 413. We had three tables, all right next to each other. The first night, John and I had a romantic dinner for two at a table for eight!! The rest of our table decided to skip the dining room dinner the first night. Our waiter, Sedat, was from Turkey, the Asst. Waiter, Harish and the bartender, Isaac, both were from India. I had the Shrimp Ravioli, which was very good and after dinner they bring around the "Shot of the Night". We did these almost every night You could keep the shot glasses. I think I have a collection of about 15
7:45pm Welcome Aboard Show - The Adventure Begins - The Lyric Theatre. This is a two deck high theatre.really unbelievable. 10:00pm-11:30pm Sailaway Party , Calypso Music with Rhythm Section - Poolside 10:45pm-11:15pm Jimmy Buffett Margarita Party, Vocalist Derek Lewis - Duck & Dog. This is an English style pub that serves Guinness. This was a lot of fun, lots of singing, dancing and a conga line! 11:15pm World of Adventure Parade - Promenade - Lots of stilt people and dancers.
Monday, March 18, 2002 AT SEA - partly cloudy 85, sunrise 6:39am, sunset 6:44pm
We had breakfast in the Windjammer, Deck 11. Everyday for lunch and dinner the Windjammer had a huge buffet. You should be able to find something you like to eat here.
10:30am Muster Drill - Mandatory.grab your lifejacket and go to your designated Muster station. You basically just show up and wait around for them to let you go. This was a pain, but I guess you need to know what to do in case there was an emergency.
We spent the day at the pool with the Calypso Music w/ the Rhythm Section. I believe Strawberry Coladas were the frozen drink of the day. YUMMY! They came in cool Royal Caribbean glasses that you could keep.
1:00pm John entered the "Mr. Sexy Legs contest". He dropped his drawers (he kept his undies on, thank god)! They had six categories, Mr. Hairiest, Hairless, Athletic, Chicken, Whitest, and Sexiest legs. Needless to say he didn't win.
We had lunch at Johnny Rockets.the burgers were very good!
I did manage to use the ShipShape Fitness Center for a half an hour the whole week. The have a lot of machines and I suggest using it, just to say you did.
Already, I was ready for a nap. It was the only one I would get all week!!
We went to the Duck & Dog and Schooner Bar before dinner. The Schooner Bar usually had a guy playing the piano and it was never really crowded. There are a lot of cozy leather seats with a boat motif. We used this a lot as a meeting place.
6:00pm - Captain's Gala Dinner. Tonight's dinner was formal. We had a group picture taken of all 22 of us! If you have a large group, you need to make an appointment to have your picture done. They really weren't prepared for a group of our size. I had the Filet mignon and the "Shot of the Night" a French Kiss.
9:00pm Can't Stop the Rock Production Show - The Lyric Theatre - dancing and singing 10:00pm Karaoke - Imperial Lounge - Chinese type looking theatre with a dance floor/stage, lots of comfy chairs. You received a Royal Caribbean key chain for participating. Mike, Michelle, Joanne, Berna, and I all sang. 12:15am Late Night Comedy Show with Max Dolcelli - The Lyric Theatre - He made lots of ship jokes, toilet flushing, etc. I thought he was pretty funny.
Jesters Nightclub is open late and we spent most nights there! It has a small dance floor, but there are plenty of places to sit and you can request music.
Tonight and last night stopped at the Cafe Promenade Bar. It was a lifesaver for that late night snack you need after drinking a lot. It's on Deck 5.
Tuesday, March 19, 2002 ARUBA - sunny & windy 86, sunrise 6:40am, sunset 6:41pm
Woke up around 8-8:30, got off the ship. Again, the photographers are ready to take your picture in front of a life preserver with Aruba adorned across the front of it. It was VERY WINDY and raining a bit little (I had heard it NEVER rains here!). We wanted to rent a Harley for the day. We walked all the way to Big Twin on Smith Blvd., which was about a 10-15 minute walk from the ship. Unfortunately, they were sold out. I didn't find them very helpful, but the people that were in all the shops right as you got off the ship were. They told us a place where we could go to rent a jeep since we weren't prepared. We got a taxi to the airport to rent a jeep. We drove to the Natural Bridge and four wheeled around the desert. It was totally awesome! I thought we were going to get killed, but we made it. Even though it was raining, the Natural Bridge and the water were beautiful. We drove by the Bushiribana ruins, the Alto Vista Chapel (there were a ton of stray dogs around). Then we went for a ride by the High Rise Hotels. We ate at Iguana Joe's in Oranjestad. Did a little shopping and then brought the jeep back to the airport. Renting the jeep worked out for the best because it did rain off and on all day.
We didn't go to dinner (Caribbean Colors) this night because of our planned excursion for the night.We did the KuKu Kunuku Party Bus. To find out more - http://www.arubaadventures.com/kukookunuku/. It is a hand painted...one of a kind...1957 Chevy Bus that sat about 40 people. You shook your provided maracas as they played very loud dance music and taught you dances. First, they bring you to Arashi Beach overlooking the lighthouse and golf course for a champagne toast and some rules, guidelines and sales pitches (you can buy t-shirts, leis and CDs). Then we went to the Silvia Lee Residence for dinner. We received a flyer that stated that Mr. Atan Lee has been working with the government for thirty years, and has for the last sixteen years held the position of Chief Protocol for Aruba. He is the organizer of many social events, franchise holder for the Miss Universe pageant and organizer of Miss Aruba pageant. Mrs. Lee has been an employee at the ABN Amro Bank for 37 years, and is currently working in the human resources department.
The backyard was set up with tables and tiki torches. Dinner was fantastic! Steak and chicken with rice and salad. The drink special for the night was "Sex on the Bus". Very yummy and only $2.00 at the house. I talked to the owner and asked him why he invites strangers in his house? He said, it started off as a joke at first and then progressed from there. He does it every night except for Sunday! We then went to three local bars.
We got a pass for each bar that allowed us to have the first drink for free. The first bar was the Laguna Bar. It was basically a deck with no railings! You could easily fall in the water. We were allowed to dance on the bar! At the next bar (don't remember the name of it) we were taught the Bacardi Dance.we will sing Bacardi, yellow, limon, Coca-Cola for months to come! Our bus driver, Hyme, was a cutie! Raymond, the other bus driver, was a very large man! We were all dancing and having a blast! Lastly we went to Carlos & Charlie's which is an island favorite. It was very crowded! Don't know how we got ourselves in. They were having a "best butt" contest on stage. One of the guys was from our ship!! It was pretty funny! We were standing on the chairs and tables in the back watching, yelling and cheering!
We went to the Beach Party poolside when we returned to the ship.
Aruba wasn't as nice as I had expected after hearing so many good things about it. I didn't think there was much there. I guess if you are staying at the high rises or a resort it's different.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002 CURACAO - partly sunny 85, sunrise 6:40am, sunset 6:47pm
It was very windy here also!! We rented a Harley! Yay! We had to take a taxi to where they rented it. It was a complete beater but it was a Harley. And the helmets were disgusting. We dealt with them though. We drove all the way to one side of the island called Wespunt. Very scenic.mountains, beaches, cliffs. The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge was very neat. We got to see it in action as one of the other cruise ships was leaving port. The Queen Juliana Bridge is very high and steep coming down it on a motorcycle!
Curacao had a nice little port where there were lots of cart vendors selling things. We had henna tattoos done since we had some time to kill before getting back on the ship. We got on and watched the ship pull away from port. Make sure to watch the ship pull away from port as much as you can.it's neat! I never got up early enough to see us pull into port.I hear that too is neat.
6:00pm Venetian Feast Dinner
That night was the comedy show with Two Funny Guys, Mario & Daniel with special guest Franz Lery in The Lyric Theatre. Franz Lery would use a big chair type trampoline to bounce all over the place! Then he balanced himself on several buckets, it was quite amazing. I thought for sure that he was going to fall and kill himelf. Mario & Daniel were very funny! At one point, someone came in late and they were like, "oh great, we have to start all over again". They rehashed 20 minutes of the show in 2 minutes! Then we went to Rock Trivia through the Decades in the Imperial Lounge.it was all real old trivia. I didn't enjoy that.
Off to Jesters nightclub.
Thursday, March 21, 2002 AT SEA - partly sunny 85, sunrise 6;33am, sunset 6:40pm
Up at 8:30am. I had ordered room service for breakfast. Then we went to the pool for the day. John stayed in bed for a while longer. He was hurting! I believe the drink today was Strawberry Colada with Mango. I think they called it the Love Connection. They came in these heavy, v-shaped glasses you could keep.
Today, there were pool games being held. Berna and I entered. We were on a team of 6. We had to put a wet t-shirt on and swim to the other side of the pool and back and then take the shirt off and pass it to the next person. Our team won!! We won a waterproof money holder case.
Make sure to experience the jacuzzi. It was very relaxing and warm. The pools are also salt water pools. They were their own wave pools too.the ship's movement caused lots of rolling waves.
Then there was the belly flop contest. You definitely have to catch this!
Then they had the horse race. Pat had bought a horse for $425 in an auction they had held on Monday. If it won, he stood a chance to win $3000, which was the total of all the money collected in the auction. Joanne was the jockette that presented the horse, Champ (he was dressed in Patriot gear), and moved it along the course. She was horse number 4, if they rolled the dice and a 4 came up, you got to move. The only hitch was you needed a double or a triple four to win. We were one space to from the finish line.waiting for a double or triple and I swear a single four came up about three times in a row! Finally, a double four and Champ won!! Woo hoo!
We never ventured into the Solarium, the adult swimming pool, there was so much more entertainment going on in the main area.
6:00pm Chef's Dinner - This was the 2nd formal dinner. John and I had a picture taken of the two of us in front of the big hanging ice-crystally looking piece by the stairs. That night was the lobster tail dinner! YUMMY! I wish I had gotten two. It was absolutely delicious.
We all met in the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14, which overlooked the pool area with huge ceiling to floor windows, after dinner to have a celebration for the horserace win! We went through about three bottles of champagne. A little incident happened, while Pat was giving a toast, he swore. I guess one of the customers pulled him aside and asked him to watch his language. It was brought to the supervisor's attention and we received a complimentary round of champagne and Pat got a $200 credit on his card! There weren't any children around, nor were there many people in there at that time. I don't know why this person had such a problem. Also, at least check out the Chapel, which is accessible through this lounge.
10:15pm We moved on to the Imperial Lounge for the Adventure Quest Game Show. Examples of items needed, two unworn bras, a man with lipstick on, a man dressed in woman's shoes. You had to run up to the MC with your team number and the item. They called for two pairs of unworn pants. None of the men on our team budged.Joanne didn't hesitate and whipped hers off. I had a thong on..I wasn't going to do it!! Well, I ended up doing it.I ran up there in my thong and a shirt!!!! I hope no one got pictures of that!! In the end John had to have lipstick on, a bra, women's shoes and a purse. There were about 20 men prancing their stuff around in woman's clothing! That was hysterical! It's all about having fun!!!!!
10:45pm-12:15am Karaoke Blow Out - Imperial Lounge. Joanne, Mike and I sang.
Then we went to Jesters to dance. Went to bed at 2:45!!
Friday, March 22, 2002 ST. MAARTEN - partly sunny 83, sunrise 6:15am, sunset 6:24pm
Berna, Max and I shopped in the morning. I bought a tanzanite ring and bracelet, two pairs of gold earrings for gifts, and a watch. You had to haggle and bargain. I didn't think I was too good at this, but I had the tanzanite ring and bracelet appraised when I got home. They were worth twice what I paid!
We were booked on the Shipwreck Snorkeling Excursion. A boat took us out to this area where there was a shipwreck. The water was not that clear, so I didn't see any of that. But I saw lots of fish! I saw a big one called a permit. I thought it was shark at first! They gave you food to feed to the fish. The permit ate right out of my hand! After that we could jump off the top of the boat into the water and swim for a while. They then took us on a sea tour of the island. Many people said the snorkeling wasn't that good, but this was my first time ever and I thought it was awesome! It is such a pretty place.we would definitely go back. So far, St. Maarten was my favorite island. I wasn't feeling so good on the boat for some reason.I laid down and just sat there for most of the trip. I just wanted to go back to the ship.
We had a drink at Fat Tuesday's, which was right at the Port of Call, before getting on the boat. I had a BBC.Bailey's, Banana and something.very yummy!
John and I decided to skip the main dinner. It was a good night to miss.everyone said it wasn't the best selection that night. We watched the ship leave port and the sun set. We ate at the Windjammer. After dinner, we toured the boat a little and played miniature golf, where John beat me!
The Platters starring Herb Reed were playing that night in the Lyric Theatre, but I had no interest in that. We went to the "Cool Art Hot Ice Show" at 10:30 in Studio B. It was incredible. They had people flying through the air! It was pretty incredible since the ice rink itself is pretty small.
For some reason the movement of the ship bothered me today after being out on the snorkeling boat. This was the first time all week. Very strange! You can feel the ship move if you concentrate on it, but for the most part you never feel it. If you are prone to getting seasick.definitely take something like Bonine.
Saturday, March 23, 2002 ST. THOMAS - partly sunny 83, sunrise 6:21am, sunset 6:31pm
Everyone had to go through Immigration between 7am-9am. This was kind of a pain. The line was incredibly long..all the way down the promenade!! John talked to someone about going up front because he had an 8am excursion he had to be ready for. They let him go right to the front, no problem. The Immigration Official barely glances at your paperwork. I sent John off on his golf excursion to Mahogany Run. I went up to the "Peek-A-Boo" Bridge to check out where the Captain "drives" this massive ship. It was pretty cool to check out.
A bunch of us went to Megan's Bay, one of the World's Most Beautiful beaches according to National Geographic. We caught a taxi right in front of the ship to Megan's Bay. The taxi driver was "007" and he was scheduled to pick us up at Magen's Bay at 2:00pm.
The beach was absolutely beautiful, totally picturesque. We rented lounge chairs and floating mats. It was so peaceful and the water was so clear! We drank frozen drinks called Bushwhackers. It had all sorts of alcohol in it.tasted like a Mudslide, but stronger. The pizza and fries from the concession stand were surprisingly good, but very expensive.
The taxi guy was great! He promised that on the ride back to the ship, he would stop at some picture taking areas. First, he took us to one that overlooked Megan's Bay. It was a breathtaking view!! The other one, overlooked the town and where our ship was docked. It was sooo beautiful! There were three ships docked that day. You could have put both of the other ships in our ship!!! Again, I can't emphasize how big the Adventure of the Seas is!! I tipped "007" very well!
John said the golfing was excellent! He shot an 89. There were these three holes called the Devil's Triangle. He actually beat it and received a certificate for doing so. The holes overlooked huge cliffs. He had originally wanted to golf in Aruba but the excursion was sold out. This excursion only had seven people on it. He had talked to someone who had went golfing in Aruba and they had said it was awful because it downpoured the whole time. Half the people quit and the others played because they felt they had to, but they were miserable while they did. It all worked out for the best.
John and I went ice skating in Studio B, just to say that we did, before dinner. It was pretty cool. The skates aren't anything great, but I had read in one review to bring your own skates. If you are going to do that much skating.why would you be on a cruise? I wouldn't bother packing ice-skates. We only skated for about half an hour. There were only two other people skating when we were there. We had heard that earlier in the week it was crazy with tons of people.
6:00pm Feast of Nations Dinner. I had prime rib and it was awesome! Max got 3 different dinners, prime rib, pasta and turkey! That was one thing that was great.you could really eat as much as you wanted. I would get two dinners some nights, just because I was indecisive about what to order. This way I could have a little of both. The same with the appetizers and desserts!
The "Shot of the Night" had 6 liquors in it and was topped with whipped cream. I was told I had to do it w/ my hands behind my back. I put some napkins over the front of me so I wouldn't spill it all over me and complied. It was very strong and went immediately to my head. It is customary to tip all of your waiters, etc. on the last night. We tipped Sedat, Harish, Big Al and Isaac very well. They all did an excellent job!! We had group pictures taken with them also.
We went to final bingo because they were giving away almost $7000. We didn't win but Berna was one number away from covering her card!! John went to the Casino a few times during the week, but I had no desire to use it. I know I would just lose money. It is definitely worth looking at though.
Max, Andrea and I went to the "Farewell Variety Show, No Day but Today" in the Lyric Theatre. It starred, Levent, a magician/comedian and Franz Lery again. The Captain gave his Farewell Address at the beginning. The cruise director sang and said some jokes. They also debuted the Cruise in Review video, which John was in with his pants down from the Mr. Sexy Legs contest. The horserace results were also featured. I bought this.only because it featured people we were with. Otherwise, I may not have bought it.
All of your luggage had to be put out by midnight, so I went back to my room to finish packing and fill out my customs form.
Sunday, March 24, 2002 HOME
We were all very sad that we had to leave the ship. We were up at 8:00am to get ready. Since all of our bags had to be out the night before, we were left w/ our carry-ons. We all met in the Schooner Bar to wait for our flight to be called. We probably were off the ship by 8:30am or so. We walked down the ramp to porters waiting to take you into the warehouse of luggage. We found our luggage very easily. You had to put colored tags on your luggage when you put it out the night before. The warehouse was split up into colored sections. The porters took the luggage to the bus for you. You had to have your customs paper and transfer voucher handy here. Make sure to tip them!
We breezed through customs and got on a bus to the airport. Everyone was a little edgy because they were tired. A lot of people in our group stayed out last night.so some were hurting. We had 2 hours to kill at the airport, so John and I went to a restaurant.ate mozzarella sticks and quesadillas for breakfast!! Some people were drinking.it was only 9:30am (really 8:30am at home)! But then again we were drinking mudslides and margaritas at that time all week. We got on the plane, again, lucked out with the emergency exit, and almost everyone slept on the way home.what a difference from the flight down.
* I was very impressed with all the people who worked on the ship. All of them were very friendly and helpful.
* There is so much going on, I wish I could have done it all. You definitely don't get enough sleep. There is a radio/announcement control in your room. Every morning when you pulled into port at 8am, the Captain would broadcast announcements. You can have this turned on or off, but you could still hear it outside even if you had it off in your room.
* Make sure you have a little card in a slot on the back of your door that says "do not disturb" and "make up room". That is put in the key slot to let the stateroom attendant know what to do with your room. We had problems with people stealing ours!!
* I liked St. Maarten and St. Thomas the best out of all the islands.
* The elevators were very slow at times. They were moving so many people around at certain periods that it was faster to take the stairs. I also found it a little confusing to figure out which end (forward or aft) of the ship I was supposed to be at to get to specific areas. Remember that you can walk to each end easily by being on Deck 5, the Promenade.
* Be careful on the steps leading down to The Lyric Theatre. I almost fell down them a few times! It might just be because I'm clumsy.thought I'd warn other clumsy people out there
* The menu always offered a low-fat suggestion and had vegetarian entrees. The waiter always made his own suggestions too. Other reveiwers said that dinner took too long. We were usually out of there within an hour, an hour and a half at the latest. I can't remember which nights they did what, but, the waiters all sing one night, another night all the chefs come out, another night they all walk around with different countries flags, and another night the waiters dance with you.
* The rooms are decent sized. We used all the available shelving and closet space. We used the in room safe to store valuables. The shower was nice.round with doors. The toilet is VERY loud when it flushes. We also had plenty of towels.though there was a message about "Save the Seas" and that you should hang your towels if you plan on using them again.we hung them everyday, but they were always replaced with new ones!! I don't know why. I do find it crazy that they make up your bed in the morning and then turn it down for you at night. Being as busy as you are, you might never even see the bed made!!! If you wonder where you comforter has gone.look under your bed!
* Disembarking at ports was sometimes confusing. Make sure to listen to announcements as to where you are supposed to go. In Aruba, things were different because of construction.
* Definitely take Monday off from work! I definitely needed the day to recover, unpack, do laundry and get my pictures developed!!