This was an absolutely wonderful vacation. Our second cruise, both of which were on RCI. At first, we were a bit apprehensive after hearing some of the AOS horror stores, but none of this rang true for us. I would recommend this ship to anyone and would definitely cruise out of San Juan again. Here are some details:
General Info - We booked our airfare through Royal Caribbean and arrived in San Juan on Sunday at around 3:00. We decided to skip the RCI provided bus transfer and take a taxi to the pier. The San Juan airport was very hectic and crowded, but getting our luggage did not take long at all. FYI when we arrived at the pier we noticed that some of the people who were on our flight and took the RCI provided transfer were actually ahead of us in line since they did not have to wait in a separate line to drop off their luggage, so it may not have been a bad idea to just go ahead and take the transfer.
We had to wait for about 45 minutes to an hour to finally get on the ship. The AOS is beautiful. Yes, the ship is very culturally diverse and the over half of the passengers seemed to be Spanish speaking. But with that said I did not encounter one rude person the whole trip. There were also a lot of families on our sailing as well as children and teens, but I must say after the first day at sea, I really did not notice them that much. The Adventure Ocean must do a good job of keeping them occupied.
Stateroom - We had a category D6 #6246. This was an excellent location; right outside our door were the stairs to the forward promenade, an easy walk to get snacks or coffee that is provided 24 hours. Our room steward was very good, but shy of excellent. Having a balcony was wonderful; we had breakfast there almost every morning and drinks almost every night. I was a bit disappointed that the bottom wall of the balcony was not Plexiglas as in the other decks, but it was still wonderful to have a balcony. Next time I would book deck 7 or above. There are plenty of drawers/storage areas in the room.
Food - Overall the food on the ship was excellent, considering that they have to feed over 3000 people. We were very impressed with the dining room and the food in the windjammer. Granted, it is not what you would get in a 5 star gourmet restaurant, but it is still pretty darn good. It is going to be hard getting accustomed to not eating four full meals a day plus snacks in between. Not to mention the lack of a pina coloda in my hand now:)
Dining Room - We had second seating dining, Lazlo was our waiter and we loved him. On the first night we were seated with a Spanish speaking family, they all were much, much older than we were and only one of them spoke any English. They were very friendly, but dinner was a bit awkward. We asked to have our table changed the next day, and we, very luckily, were seated with two honeymooning couples that we had a wonderful time with.
Onboard Activities - We never had trouble finding a deck chair, but we also always preferred to sit on the deck above the pool since it was a bit less hectic and there seemed to be a better breeze.
Bars - We really enjoyed the Duck and Dog pub, singing along with the guitar player was a blast. We went to Jester's a couple times but all they seemed to play was Latin music. I even made some requests for some popular songs, but they weren't played. We did not go back there often.
Aruba - We did the bike excursion. It was a great way to see the island, it was challenging at times, but the tour guide made sure everyone was o.k. and there were frequent stops for water. We began at the natural bridge and then finished up after the chapel.
Curacao - We just walked around town. It is a very quaint, European -feeling town. The shopping was pretty much your tourist stores, sarongs, magnets, etc. We headed back to the ship pretty early this day.
St. Marten - We took a cab to Marigot to do some shopping, which was great. After that we took a cab to Orient Beach and rented beach chairs from the Kon Tiki restaurant and had lunch and lounged in the sun. The beach was absolutely beautiful. We observed minimal nudity and there were tons of children having a great time, as there was also tons of water sports. If I had kids, I would not have a problem taking them there. Also - the cab fare (for two people) is pretty expensive on this island, after the cab fare and lunch/drinks, we thought it may have been cheaper to have done the ship's excursion which included free lunch, lounge chairs, etc. Either way, Orient beach was beautiful and a highlight of the trip.
St. Thomas - We did the BOB adventure. It was so cool. You are basically on a little motor scooter under water. They also provide snorkeling equipment for when you are not on the BOB. Afterwards we took a cab into town. The shopping in St. Thomas was the best. There is this great store, I believe called Tradewinds, that has really nice souvenir type items, not the typical junky magnets, t-shirts etc. We bought these locally made candles that are in seashells that smelled wonderful. They also had a great selection of other really nice gift items. I would highly recommend this store. Also, prepare to be haggled by the jewelry store workers and other types of time-share solicitors. They actually stand outside their store and yell for you to come in. This was very irritating, but I still think St. Thomas had the best shopping selections.
Disembarkation - We had an early flight (10:30) so we were tagged for early disembarkation. We had to meet in a lounge at 7:00 but it was a good while before we were let off the ship. The airport was hectic and disorganized but fortunately we found our way to the e-ticket check in kiosk. All you need to do is insert a credit card for identification purposes and you are good to go. We avoided having to wait in the monstrous lines.
As I previously stated, this was a great vacation. If you are thinking about booking AOS, go for it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!