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Copyright 1995-2005 
Linda Coffman

 

Adventure of the Seas -- Royal CaribbeanAdventure of the Seas
Southern Caribbean
August 28, 2005

by Pat McAlister

I would like to begin by sharing, my husband has a saying, "If I give you a dollar, give me a dollar's worth; not $1.25 or $0.75, just a dollar's worth is all I ask." Also, please don't think that Canadians are cheap but with the exchange rate better now than it has been for a long time, for each US$ it costs us $1.25 just for starters.

I wanted to write this in the same way that Mal wrote her review from 2003 as I had read it before we sailed; however, I am afraid my review will turn out a little different. For starters, as I said we are Canadian, and live about 2-1/2 hours north of Toronto where the term cheap fares is never a possibility. We had already cruised on Holland America and found that it is much easier to arrive a day or two prior to departure, so with this in mind, we were able to book a flight leaving from Toronto to Philadelphia (concourse A arriving there at 8:40 am) and then all we had to do is get on one of the electric carts and be rushed from concourse A all the way to concourse D to catch our US airways flight leaving at 9:30, arriving in San Juan by 12:30 pm. This did not happen. We instead arrived in San Juan after 3 pm and we spent the 1st hour watching the luggage belt go around and around without our luggage. By 4:30, we took a cab (still $18.50) with only our one piece of carry-on luggage (which consisted primarily of my husband's medications) to the Caribe Hilton. The cost for a one night stay with no meals was $236.33 (booked by Expedia.ca). We had an average hotel room and we walked around the property in our travel clothing, but without luggage, there was no chance of a swim or going on a tour, all we wanted was to have our luggage and to change out of our sweaty clothing. We don't drink so we didn't try the $7 Pina Coladas; however, my husband had a dinner of greasy fries and a sandwich for $24.00 that he threw out. I was too upset to eat. 

We repeatedly called US Airways who repeatedly told us no luggage had arrived, so we went to sleep. After a fretful night, we called US Air and they said they had found our luggage. They insisted on bringing it to the hotel, so we went and had a very light breakfast and cancelled our plans to see any of Old San Juan. We waited till noon (we had to vacate our room at 11 am) and despite numerous phone calls (@$1.25 ea) US Airways finally admitted they did not have our bags and suggested we head over to the cruise ship and they would make sure our luggage would catch up with us. 

So off to the Port we went (no swimming, no tours, no shopping at the outlets, no fruit plate in the room) and while everyone checked their luggage, we just stood in line and waited for check in. We had completed our forms on line and that does speed things up. We were told we should go to Guest Relations (a counter we would become very familiar with) and the first nice thing happened after waiting patiently for an hour, the young man at the desk, gave us each a clean RCCL shirt and a key to our room that wasn't yet made up, but we could sit on the balcony. We did not worry about our dinner seating as we spent the afternoon trying to get some assistance with our luggage. We skipped dinner, watched a bit of television and, as it was mandatory, attended the Muster Drill, and yes babies were crying, old folks were swaying and a large group had already had so much to drink that the noise level was very high, but the captain droned on and only heaven knows what he was saying, and then we returned to our room. 

But there was good news, just after 10 pm we heard a thump at our door and there was our luggage - be it all wrinkled, but we had swim suits, dress clothes and best of all a complete change of clothing. We were too tired to attend the farewell party and the midnight parade but we now had clothing and for the first time we thought we might just enjoy our trip on this beautiful ship. What we didn't count on was a bed that sagged so much that we both woke up with a sore back.

Day 2 - Arrive in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas 
Woke-up already in port with two other cruise ships, had a quick breakfast, and tried to get on a Magen's Bay tour; however, we had not booked it and there was no space left for us. We walked to where the shops are, an overwhelming amount of jewelry stores that is, and returned to our room, had a nap and then a late lunch, and as it was a formal night I found out you need to plan ahead for clothing to be ironed and I was too late (on Holland America they have a self serve laundry and iron and board). Nevertheless, we really were not hungry and we enjoyed the departure from the dock on our balcony and called it a day. Each evening they leave what is called the 'Cruise Compass' which is a book that tells you all about your next port, what is happening on the ship, what clothing to wear that night, etc. This evening's copy arrived with a full page enclosed on how much and when you should tip the staff who have 'helped' you enjoy this cruise so much.

Day 3 - Arrive in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
We were herded through breakfast, herded to the exit gangway, and took a taxi cab downtown. There we found more jewelry stores; however, these stores all had sales people standing in the doorways beckoning you to come in. We took the water taxi back - got into our swim wear and spent the afternoon in the adult only pool with the only interruption being a waiter wanting us to order drinks. 

We dressed for dinner at 6 pm (Caribbean style night) this was our first time into the dining room, where only the staff and the two of us were dressed in Caribbean clothing somewhat embarrassing. They sat us outside the kitchen and our wait staff came to the table, after introductions the waitress suggested the veal parmigana so that what we had. Now, if you are one that likes calamari, then RCCL veal is for you, it was like having a mouthful of rubber so we finished the pasta on the plate and although she offered to bring us something else we really didn't care by then. We left the dining room on the 5th floor and as we passed the Guest Relations counter, also on the 5th floor, we both decided that we would just a soon fly home. The young lady suggested that we move to a nicer suite on the 9th floor, with a better bed and see how we felt in the morning. They also sent up some bottled water and ginger ale for us to drink. 

That evening, we attended the 'Love and Marriage show' at the Lyric Theater and Richard Spacey did a terrific job with the three couples, it was very funny. Following that my husband went to the casino (be aware, the casino, shops and most activities are not open when the ship is in port, which on this particular trip was every day) and I returned to our suite to watch CNN in horror as Katrina hit New Orleans. This might be a good time to mention the TV programming. RCCL basically controls most channels except for CNN, Bloomberg, and the sports channel. This leaves you with old 'Bewitched" shows, old movies, or just the constant shipboard barrage of BUY! BUY! BUY!, go for a tour, the list of activities, and all of it is followed by, the daily reminder of 'How much one should be tipping the staff' in at least 4 languages. 

Day 4 - Arrive in St. John's, Antigua
Back to the herding and line ups, first for breakfast, next to the gangway, and finally we make it to the main street of St. John's only to fight our way up one side and down the other dodging beggars, jewelry sales staff, and traffic jammed streets, we finally managed to retreat to the safety of the ship and went to the Guest Relations counter to inquire as to whether they had found us a flight home yet. So far we would have to find accommodations in St. John's and fly out the following evening, and as we were frightened enough by the downtown, that did not seem like a good idea. While we were at the counter, we inquired as to where are the oranges and grapefruits up to then we had not seen any. The young lady acted surprised by that, but we never did see any on board. She did arrange for someone to bring up a "fruit plate" while we were out and we have a picture of it. It consisted of 3 over ripe bananas, grapes with pits, and an orange that was bad in the middle. We returned to the pool, enjoyed our afternoon, had a late lunch of warm salad and cold hamburgers. As we had lunch so late, and didn't like the evening's menu, we decided to skip dinner at 6pm.

Day 5 - Arrive in Castries, St. Lucia
We awoke in St. Lucia and it was absolutely beautiful and the shopping was in a new shopping complex that was made up of mostly of jewelry stores, but they did have some interesting clothing, pottery and tablecloths which was a pleasant change. We returned to the ship, back to the Guest Relations counter, and they had found a flight from Barbados on Friday evening but it was $1300 per person and since we would be back in San Juan at 8 am Sunday we decided to remain with the ship and return by US Airways. 

That evening we tried the dining room again. The staff all wanted to know why we had not been in so we told them the truth, they were all great it was the cook whose food we did not like. So that evening they brought us real shrimps, followed by a piece of "roast beef' that was certainly not 5 star cuisine, but the staff really tries so hard to be accommodating. That evening we attended the Lyric Theatre and they put on a cute show with 50's 60's and 70's music, we spent some time in the casino and retired to our room, by now I was counting the hours till we would be back in San Juan.

Day 6 - Arrive in Barbados
As we had previously stayed in Barbados we decided to remain on the ship. This would be our last chance to have a swim or lunch without having the hordes (or herds would work just as well) of people who treat the buffet as their last chance on earth to eat. Now we understood why the chefs prepared quantity food instead of quality food - either way it would all will be consumed. Now we had only 46 hours before we could disembark.

Day 7 - At Sea
Woke up late - only 22 hrs to persevere until we were back in San Juan Harbor and I was already packed and ready. The line ups for food were difficult today as all 3000-plus passengers were on board. Many guests sit together at tables for 8 or 10 and think the rest of the dining room needs to hear their conversation and enjoy the fact that they have let their children have free run of the dining room. We looked so forward to sitting at a table, where no one asks for the 3rd, 4th, or 5th time if we would like a drink. There is always so much wait staff that if at anytime you need anything, trust me, you will have no problem attracting their attention.

The people that day were eating like they would never see food again. It is definitely not a pretty nor appetizing sight and this might be a good place to announce I lost 8 lbs over the week and my husband lost 10. We have never thought of cruising as a good diet plan but the Adventure of the Seas proved just how wrong we could be. Today's most important task was to get the Red number 1 so we could be in the second group to disembark from the ship--we would rather sit at the San Juan airport for six hours--anything to get off this boat! So we finally manage to leave and when we line up a customs the customs officer's computer is down ... 45 minutes later etc. etc.

THINGS THAT BEST NOT ANNOY YOU IF YOU PLAN ON CRUISING ON THE ADVENTURE of the SEAS

GRATUITIES - the regular staff is friendly, helpful and a great credit to RCCL, but they are also very intimidated by their superiors about losing their jobs and lots are the sole support of large families. It is certainly not the staff that reminds you either, its the powers that be that feed all the passengers a steady diet of tip tip tip.

ALL THE 'NOT INCLUDED' - Every drink of soda, water or alcohol and remember that welcome aboard drink (it + 15% will be on your bill). Movies on your TV are $11.95 They have Portofinos Fine Dining (I will bet it's not) only $20 per person, unless it's The Mystery Dinner Theater that will be $49.95 + 15%. If you would like to try pilates or yoga, that will be $10 per session. You think you like to try wine tasting ? Well, $9.95 will buy you half an hour. The internet that we all take for granted is $0.50 per minute. Johnny Rockets, that will be a $3.75 cover charge. If you go to a spa seminar it is simply a means to sell you something.

FOOD - The salad bar had the same ingredients every day, no chickpeas, no celery, dry cucumber, and a very poor supply of tomatoes that should be in good supply in August. Fruit salad should only be made with fruit that has the seeds removed or is seedless to start with no one wants to be spitting out seeds onto their plate in public. Bagels or English muffins for example when put through a toaster should come out browned. Orange juice is from a mix and there are no oranges, grapefruits or strawberries. The desserts were really just run of the mill (I guess that is a good thing if you watch your waistline as you will not be tempted. At all of the 11th floor buffet areas, 'the no bathing suit rule' is never enforced, so always feel your cushion before sitting down. You are not to take any food with you off the ship when it is in port, but they advise you to be very careful with what you eat off the ship - stick to bottled soda, water, or beer and best to avoid meat (I thought that would be good advise to give to passengers while on the ship as well - but then that's just me).

To finally conclude this way too long review, our trip home was just like our trip going. US Airways lost our luggage again and it was finally delivered to our house three days later by Fed Ex. But, if I learned only one thing, it is: in order to enjoy this cruise all you need is to drink your way through the week and most things just won't bother you.

Hope you all have better luck than we had on this cruise and some of my information will help you survive on the ship we have Christened 'The Sloop John B.'


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