Adventure of the Seas 9/21/2003 By Cruisinfanatic
We're in our 40's and have cruised 12 times , six with RCCI. We always fly into the port city a day ahead just in case flight arrangements do not go as planned. San Juan was our destination this cruise. We booked a room through priceline for only $65 and received the Caribe Hilton, not too far away from the Pan American pier. This was a great deal since the going rate for this hotel on Expedia was over $200. It's a beautiful hotel only about a $18 cab ride from the airport and only minutes to the pier. If you get the Hilton anywhere, we recommend that you sign up for Hilton Rewards on their website ahead of your stay. We did this and received faster check in (at a separate desk on the second floor) , and a free continental breakfast in the morning. This hotel has no casino, but is lacking in no other way. It has a beautiful pool area and their own private beach. There are several restaurants in the hotel, none of which are inexpensive. The lunch buffet in one of them runs $19.95. We're sure it's good, but are not accustomed to spending upwards of $50 + tip just for lunch. It showered on and off this day, but we still managed a short dry nap on the warm beach.
Sunday is finally here. We left the hotel at around 10:30AM and arrived at the pier in about 10 minutes. Cab ride here is $10. There are already about 30 people in line waiting. About 11AM, the doors opened and we were allowed into the terminal. We were seated in the first row. This terminal holds about 500 people and quickly filled by around 11:45AM. Everyone else waited outside in the heat. From past experience we always arrive early if possible. You get to start enjoying your cruise sooner. About noon someone announced that we would be processed by rows. The platinum and diamond members plus the suites in each row went first. We were checked in very quickly and for the second cruise in a row, were the first on board. We went straight to our bump cabin 6616 to check it out and to drop our things. We liked it very much. We quickly proceeded to the Windjammer for lunch. My wife immediately noticed that there is no Jade restaurant (Oriental) on this ship as there is on the Navigator and the Mariner. She missed it a lot. During the last couple RCCI cruises the food in the Windjammer has become a disappointment. Not that it isn't good, but because it doesn't change. It's identical in almost every way to the other RCCI cruises that we've been on. The same exact selections as in the past, only there seem to be less choices. Some variety would be appreciated. Same donuts and danish for breakfast. Same frozen cakes, pies, jello, and cookies for desert. If you only been on 1 or 2 RCCI cruises, you won't notice. After 7 you will. Lunch always featured: 1. Jello 2. One type of cookie 3. A sugar free desert 4. Fresh mixed fruit. 5. Only 3-4 other new choices (we counted). We used to find a larger selection of choices available. One service that we enjoyed, is that when you sit down there will usually be someone right there asking what you'd like to drink. Coffee, tea and lemonade are free. Soft drinks along with beer etc. are additional cost. After our lunch we headed straight for the hot tub. We enjoy the first day because there is never a problem finding an empty one. Our dinner was main sitting at 6:30PM. Dinner is always good even though we feel the menu does not change much from cruise to cruise. I guess we'll "suffer". Muster drill was at 8:30PM, a bit more tolerable because the hot sun had set. Tonight's show is started off with our cruise director, Kirk Detweiler singing "Come Sail Away". He is an excellent singer and has a CD out. Wish he did another during the cruise, but he didn't. Duo Claudio (acrobatic team) and Max Dolcelli did a great comedy act. Went to the parade at 11PM and turned in.
Day at Sea
We wake to a beautiful day. We tend to hang out near or in the Solarium on our sea days. It's usually very quiet there, but this cruise was not. Many on this ship turned out to be very LOUD. Seems the Puerto Rican people party hard. On this entire cruise, there was never a problem with getting chairs on deck. I would assume that it was because of their high numbers (almost half) on the ship. Had lunch in the Windjammer. Yup, same stuff again. Managed to find something good though at the meat carving station. More relaxing and off to dinner. Today is ticket distribution for the ice shows during the week. They are free. RCCI does this so that too many people don't overwhelm the limited seating in Studio B at one time. Since we are Crown and Anchor Platinum members, we received complimentary tickets for the show anytime that we wanted to attend. A nice perk along with coupon books that RCCI gives you the first night of your cruise. In the books (1 per person) , you'll find coupons for free wine or beer, wine tasting admission, 15 minutes of free internet, a couple $5 match coupons for the casino, and more. Tonight's show is entertainer Finis Henderson. A very talented singer and dancer who had the audience screaming. Tonight's late show was an R rated comedy of Max Dolcelli. We managed to stay awake and we were glad we did. He was very funny.
We got up fairly early, ate breakfast and headed straight to Palm Beach. It's not inexpensive to go, but how many times do you get to come here? The taxies on all the islands visited on this trip were fairly new air conditioned vans and were quite comfortable. The taxi back and forth along with a couple lounges and umbrella was about $50. It was worth it to us. We love the beach. When locating a spot to lounge, be aware that there are lots of small native enterprises set up along the beach and they all charge different rates for chairs and umbrellas. Scout out the best price. After about 4 hours on this beautiful beach, we got back to the ship around 1PM. After showering and lunch, we headed out for some shopping. Came back and hit the hot tubs for awhile. Since we were in port very late, there was no main show. We saw the skating show, and as in our past cruises, this was excellent . The Love and Marriage game was tonight and we never miss it.
Wow another perfect weather day. Hot and Sunny! As much as we like the beach, we decided to take it easy today and just do some shopping. We've never been to this island before and wanted to explore. It's an easy 15 minute walk into town with lots of very inexpensive outdoor t-shirt type shops on the way. (The batik clothes are very inexpensive. $4 for a skirt, and $7 for a dress for the wife.) If you go by taxi, it will take about 25 minutes because they can't drive on the floating bridge that you need to use to get to town. They have to take a large bridge that is a ways away. If the floating bridge is not in place, you take a ferry free of charge. For lunch we tried Johnny Rockets and were very happy with the choices. I bought a shake for myself ($3.75), but only got to drink about half. My wife decided that she liked it too! Tonight's first production show, "Velvet Rope" starring the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers was performed. Very good show with music from the 50's through the 80's. Excellent singers with strong voices. A quality show! The "Rockin' Through The Decades Dance Party" is tonight, and as in the past, the cruise director is the star. Kirk put on a very funny show and the band was also very good. A good time here.
Day at Sea
We're up early and hungry. We decide to hit the dining room this morning because we know from past RCCI cruises that the French Toast is excellent here and HOT! I hit the Blackjack tournament at 10:30AM and was out fast unfortunately. It was cloudy and windy today, so the solarium fit the bill nicely. Spent the day being blobs. After dinner tonight was RCCI's Platinum and Diamond members get together in the Viking Crown Lounge. It's open bar here, not just what the waiters have on their trays. All you do is ask for your favorite beverage. The cruise director Kirk told us how much RCCI appreciated us being there and the captain made the rounds chatting with folks. The lounge they chose was too small and so there were not nearly enough seats, but this is a small criticism only. Tonight's show is Jay Johnson's comedy ventriloquism show. He was good, but we thought it went on a little too long. Tonight after the show was "The Quest". If you've never seen this, try not to miss.
Can you believe it? Perfect weather again. We're up again early, eat and head straight to Orient Beach. Cab fare is $5 pp going and $6 pp coming back unless there are only 2 in the cab. It's $9 pp if there are only 2 of you. We walked as far left as the lounges went and found a nice spot among the empty lounges. That's the great part about coming to the beach early. There is no crowd and you avoid the afternoon showers that are often prevalent among the islands. We stayed a full 4 hours and still didn't want to leave. But hunger set in and it was back to the ship.
We decided not to wait for company and decided to pay the $18 for the 2 of us for a ride back to the ship. We had a very informative and friendly driver who chatted about the island customs. We ate and then decided to relax this afternoon also. We shopped here last year, so we passed on that this time.
Tonight's Variety Showtime was Duo Claudio's second performance on this cruise, and their short show did not disappoint. Then came comedian T.J. McCormack. He started off strong, but we found that he was not up to par on this night. His final joke of the night was probably supposed to be about 10-15 minutes long with the participation of a child from the audience. Guess what? No kids of the appropriate age to come up on stage. There was an 8 year old, but he wouldn't go up. The guy just about begged on his knees to get this kid to come up there so he could do his final routine of the evening. Not gonna happen. This comedian just stuttered along telling jokes that he had to try and remember for the next 10 minutes until it was finally over. He was quite embarrassed. This guy is Holiday Inn material, not RCCI. We turned in after this 11PM show anticipating our favorite port, St Thomas in the morning.
Definitely high on our favorite islands list, we always look forward to coming here. We went to mandatory immigration on board. All you have to do is walk by with your passport etc. Not much wasted time. Off the ship by around 8:30AM and to Morningstar Beach Resort. It's much smaller than Megan's Bay, thus much less crowded. It's also right next to the Frenchman's Reef Marriott. We'd been there once before and enjoyed it even though it showered then. Perfect weather this time.
Go to St Thomas and not shop? Never! Back to the ship around noon for lunch and then to shopping in Havensight Mall right off the pier. All the big stores are there, so we saw no need to go into town. Saves a lot of time. After shopping, back to the ship and on to a great dinner as always.
Tonight, the second main headliner show is "Can't Stop The Rock" with the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. Another good show. The singers on this cruise were all excellent.
Dining Room Opinion
I wrote previously about the Windjammer being all the same food as on previous cruises. The restaurant menu falls into the same category. It needs to be overhauled. At least changed somehow. Deserts are not as good anymore, at least in our opinion.
My complaints are very few except they didn't give me any money this cruise. I'd like to see more than a single $5 blackjack table open when it's busy. One table open just doesn't cut it. Everyone was very friendly and I won a T-shirt for getting blackjack with hearts. The guy sitting next to me won $50. He wouldn't trade.
There has been much discussion on the boards about the advantage or disadvantage of having a bump cabin. For those who are not familiar with the term, a bump cabin is a little further rear of the center of the ship. See picture at left. It's where the sides of the ship bow out a little. If you are in front of this, you cannot see the rear of the ship. If you are in back, you cannot see the front. If you are in one of the 4 middle cabins of "the bump", you'll be able to see in both directions. It's also a great location because of their proximity to the elevators. Only one level down from our deck 6 cabin was the upper level dining room where we dined. We thought the location was one of the best we've ever had on any ship. We saw no disadvantage at all and booked one on the Voyager for a 9 day next September. By booking this cruise on the ship, we received an onboard credit of $100.
On the Adventure, there are the same different colored tags as on all the other RCCI cruises, but the color means nothing except where to find your luggage. Debarkation depends on your flight time. Flights were first called at about 8:15am. Probably about 15 of them. Our flight unfortunately was not until 3:25PM. We hoped to get an earlier one, so we got off the ship with the early flight announcements. No problem. No one cared. From the time we walked off the ship, picked up our luggage, through immigration, and to the airport by taxi, it took 1 hour. No early flights available though, so we waited.
Overall service, and most entertainment and food were excellent this week. The Adventure is magnificent. All of the Voyager class ships are designed very well and are easy to get around. Even with up to 3800 passengers, there are few times where you feel crowded.
As I stated before, onboard credits for future RCCI cruises can be obtained by booking while onboard. The credits range up to $200 for a 14 day cruise. Also, if you own 100 shares of RCCI stock, an onboard credit of up to $250 per cabin for an RCCI or Celebrity cruise can be had. You must book your cabin by March 31st, 2004.