Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
Adventure of the Seas
by Steven Pattee
June 16, 2002
We arrived in San Juan via American Airlines non-stop from Chicago
at 15:45 for our 23:00 cruise. We saw several RCI reps at the gate
and baggage area. Our TA said RCI transfers were more expensive
than a cab, and that you would wait until they got a full load of
people. He suggested taking a taxi. We went to the ground transportation
desk by the baggage claim area to get a taxi ticket. Do this first,
as your luggage may take a while to appear, as did ours. They gave
us a ticket indicating the fare was US$16. Then, outside the terminal
doors, there's a short wait in line at the ground transportation
desk while the attendant gets your cab. She took the ticket, and
gave it to the cab driver. The ride is about 20 minutes and slightly
scary even for Chicago traffic veterans. When we arrived at the
terminal, the cab driver said the fare was $20, so rather than argue
I gave him $20 and no tip. That's what I would have paid him anyway.
Embarkation was smooth and well orchestrated, especially compared
to our previous experience with RCI in San Diego where we waited
in line for over 2 hours and thirty minutes. In San Juan we were
on the ship in about 30-45 minutes. I was able to smile for the
embarkation photo instead of scowling as I did in San Diego.
We had a category D9 balcony superior cabin and found it to be simply
wonderful. We will not sail again without a balcony. The balcony
was large enough for two chairs and a table, with room to move about.
We take our time in the morning getting ready, and the pleasure
of sitting outside having coffee and a smoke is very relaxing. At
night, I left the door open and we fell asleep listening to the
ocean sounds and enjoying the fresh air. The balconies are visually
private, so I grew to love being able to stand about naked in the
sun and moonlight. Many people say they spend so little time in
their cabins that the expense is not worth it. I say phooey! It
is worth the extra money to have a beautiful haven with access to
the outside that is all yours.
We only saw two shows. The ice show (for which my wife had to obtain
tickets, and then drag me to) was excellent, far exceeding my dreaded
expectations. The other show was "Don't Stop the Rock".
I found that very enjoyable also, except for the Whitney Houston
wannabe who screeched and warbled and exceeded her vocal range on
every piece she sang.the crowd loved her.
The ship's casino is a sure moneymaker.for the ship. It is geared
for the amateur gambler, and they do have fun. The most popular
slot was the $1 Wheel of Fortune. The daily Compass ship newsletter
claimed a one-night payout of almost $50,000, since I didn't see
the progressive go down, it must have all been in $1k wheel spins.
They were always crowded. The video poker was a bank of about 15
multi-game $0.25 progressives with the most horrid paytables I've
seen. The blackjack had favorable rules, and the dealers were very
professional, contrary to other on-line reports I've read.
Ship amenities have been covered in other reviews, as have dining,
bars, and activities. We found all to be of the highest quality.
In Aruba we walked about town and then we took a cab to the Holiday
Inn for their casino with full-pay video poker. We took an umbrella
spot on their beach and no one questioned us, but it was 16:00 so
they may not have been renting them by that time. We also rented
a jet ski there and had a great time. The ship doesn't leave port
until 01:00 the next morning, so we had time to see some of the
nightlife. Carlos and Charlie's, from 22:00 until they throw everybody
out at 00:30, was a really great time, even for geezers like us.
If you're 20-something and single and can't hook up with some company
for the rest of the cruise (or just that night!), put a big "L"
for loser on your forehead and go on with your life. We had a great
time drinking and watching the crowd. The D.J. and show were very
We found Curacao to be a lovely town. As you leave the ship there
is an interesting series of stone sculptures on the dock. My wife
made me film them all so we can build some in our garden. Then I
had to watch her the rest of the trip because she wanted to "bring
some rocks" home. I reminded her of what happened to Lucy in
the episode where she brought hundreds of rocks back in her trip
to the Rockies. The warning had little effect. I still had to watch
her. Walk across the moving bridge, and if you get a chance take
the water taxi too. We got to do both.
We were looking forward to St. Marten/Martin. The port town was
charming and had the same tourist stores as all the other islands.
Beware the time-share sales people who offer you a map and tourist
directions to hook you. We wasted an hour on a taxi ride to their
paradise, and bailed before they even began their pitch. But St.
Martin had Orient Beach. I read about this beautiful beach and it
was one of our must-see sites. A fifteen minute cab ride (US$16)
brings you to Pedro's, a beach side bar and grill (excellent burgers)
that separates the topless beach from the full nekkid beach. Once
again we were running late at 15:30, so most of the crowd was gone,
but we had to be back on-board at 17:30 and we weren't going to
miss this. We marched into the nekkid beach area marked by a sign
warning away tourist lurkers and cameras. Umbrellas were available
as to the late hour, so we found one sufficiently far from our cabdriver
to make the ride back less uncomfortable. To Barbara's bemusement,
I was naked and no longer a lurker in about twenty seconds. It took
her a little longer to get accustomed to the scenery. We had a great
time. I know it's not for everybody, but after fifteen minutes,
you forget about nakedness and you just enjoy the beach.sort of.
For first-timers like us looking forward to the experience, the
anticipation and expectation, and the first fifteen minutes, are
exciting. Maybe after a few more trips the real novelty will wear
off. Most people ARE nekkid! Like I said, it's fun. There's nobody
being nasty, no swingin' singles, no hanky-panky. There's just sun,
sea, wind, and beach, and a lot of real sun-tanned people. Unfortunately,
I spent the previous day at sea lounging at the pool from 10:00
until 14:00, and I looked liked a steamed prawn. Note to pasty white
guys: SPF 30 is not enough! I think I might have "stood out"
as a newbie in more ways than one!
The only excursion we went on was the Kon-Tiki Beach tour in St.
Thomas. We booked it early that morning, and it was not sold out.
The Kon-Tiki picked us up at the cruise dock, and there were people
from Celebrity Galaxy with us. We then went and picked up other
people at a dock downtown. As we were in town before and took a
taxi to rush back to the ship by 13:00 to meet them, we wish we
had known we could have boarded in town. I don't know the price
of the tickets from their town pick-up versus the excursion price
from RCI, but my guess is they were cheaper. Check it out. The cruise
was very entertaining with an M.C. and one-man-band. Free rum punch,
or rum and coke etc., was available throughout the cruise. They
also had $3.00 hot dogs and chip things, a tee-shirt shop, and $6
rum-soaked cigars. We went to Honeymoon Beach and stayed for about
45 minutes. There are no rental facilities for snorkeling or anything.
There is a snack-trailer and a very few souvenir vendors. On the
return trip they had the conga-line thingy and a limbo contest.
We thought the trip was a lot of fun and worth the money.
Disembarking was not as well orchestrated as embarkation. We waited
for almost two hours in the lobby lounge while they called several
groups for specific flights. Then they called nothing. Then they
closed the lobby bar. Then we noticed most of the people in the
atrium and lobby bar waiting areas were gone. Then we left. 'Nuf
We spent extra two nights at the Wyndahm El San Juan Hotel and Casino
(five minutes from the airport, $$$$, absolutely beautiful). I highly
recommend staying at least one night after, and next time we'll
stay the night before. San Juan airport is not a model of efficiency,
and if I were there on a Sunday with 3,000 returning cruisers, I
know I would not enjoy it. Although there would not be that many
people from the Adventure, as there were at least 25-45% local Puerto
Ricans on the ship. It is a popular holiday for them, as they don't
The bow is accessible, do your Titanic thing there. OK, just look
at the stars.
The bridge has a viewing area where you can watch the action through
a window with descriptions of the controls, stations, etc. Wave
to the officers, they wave back. The steering wheel is smaller than
our Miata. They must have power steering.
Portofinos is a fine restaurant and worth the extra $20 pp.
Board early, we got there at 17:00 and people told us they were
on board at 12:00.
The Caribbean night buffet has a whole roasted stuffed suckling
SPF 30 is not sufficient for us pasty white guys.
The only casinos with decent payback for video poker players are
in Aruba, at the Holiday Inn. The rest of the suckers will get what
they're used to. We did do well at the El San Juan in P.R. See;
I said you have to stay an extra day!
Reserve a balcony room.
Go to the Captain's Reception in the Promenade, it's one of the
only free drinks you'll get.
There were a lot of kids onboard. I didn't throw any of them overboard.
They weren't too annoying. Here's the tip.only throw them overboard
if they're annoying when their parents aren't watching.like always!!!
Buy the travel insurance. We didn't need it, but if you do.
Steve and Barbara