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Royal Caribbean International: Adventure of the Seas

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
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Nov 10, 2015

souther caribbean

If the motel 6 ran a cruise ship than it would be Adventure of the Seas. Only difference is they might not leave the light on. That requires changing the burnt out light bulbs all over the ship. If you thought Carnival was the bottom of the barrel you thought wrong!! Think of the Golden Carroll Buffett and go down a couple of notches. Everyday was the filler buffet. Rice, pasta, canned sauce. One day they were so cheap that one of the deserts

on the buffet was a white sheet cake. Dinner the portions were miniature and every night freezing cold. Menu items like Yukon Gold potato pie or a seafood mash. Every vegetable was definitely frozen. It was so obvious they were cutting corners everywhere. We booked a Grand suite which was a nice size with a huge balcony but it stopped there. Our room was filthy at arrival and throughout cruise it was never cleaned properly. Stains on the carpets and the curtains. Mold in the bathroom tub wall. Burnt out light bulbs. Dirty sliding doors. Stains on the sofa and chairs. There wasn't anything to do. They didn't even have a show every night in the theater and when they did it was cheap las vegas style. Honestly for 7 days there was barely anything going on. Bottom Line is I would never go on Royal Caribbean again. We paid thousands for a suite to get absolutely no perks. The suite class is a total joke and they are ripping you off. The boat is poorly maintained and the water is dirty. don't drink the water on this boat!!!! Food is horrible. The staff doesn't seem to even care about the customers. If you want to have a fun time with just average food then go on Carnival and save your money. Royal is a total joke. I can't even begin to list all the things that went wrong no our cruise. It go so bad by the 3rd day that we almost got off the boat at one of the islands and flew home. I was so miserable by the 2nd day I cried myself to sleep. It was like living a nightmare and no one onboard cared. Took days to get anything taken care of and even then we couldn't wait to get off that boat.

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May 25, 2013

Western Med

A right Royal Caribbean rip off!!!! The bar prices are an absolute joke. All they think about is how much EXTRA they can squeeze out of you everyday. The ship has the finesse of a 1950/1960's hi de hi holiday camp. The worst we have ever experienced in 15 years of Cruising. Reasonabley good but give the Windjammer a miss Junior suite, good size but could have been cleaner. Bed and pillows smelly Loud and over the top run by the

worst team of entertainers I've ever seen especially Clo Don't do any all far too expensive A gross disappointment and confirmation never to use RCI ever again

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May 25, 2013

Western Med

A right Royal Caribbean rip off!!!! The bar prices are an absolute joke. All they think about is how much EXTRA they can squeeze out of you everyday. The ship has the finesse of a 1950/1960's hi de hi holiday camp. The worst we have ever experienced in 15 years of Cruising. Reasonabley good but give the Windjammer a miss Junior suite, good size but could have been cleaner. Bed and pillows smelly Loud and over the top run by the

worst team of entertainers I've ever seen especially Clo Don't do any all far too expensive A gross disappointment and confirmation never to use RCI ever again

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Apr 17, 2013

Southern Carribean

I read many of the reviews before I went on this cruise and I was a bit worried. Needless to say, I had a great time on this cruise. The service was excellent as well as the entertainment. My only complaint would be the food in the Windjammer was not the best but it was OK. I would go back in a minute.

By Kada_CR

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Apr 14, 2013

Southern caribbean

Just return and must my family had an AWSOME time. The ports was wonderful, the staff was great, the food was great, it was just a beautiful time my family and I had. The ship is beautiful clean and is well maintain. At first I was kind of worried based on some review that I read. I went with an open mind and had no complain. Everything was fine. The food everyday was enjoyable a large selection to choose from. The was was comfortable

with four people. Not a huge issue but the bed dings need updating. The white look a bit brown and the towels and wash cloths need to b thrown out and get some new one. AWSOME two thumbs up.

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Dec 6, 2012

southern caribbean

My first time with Royal and the last !!! It took 3 hours under the hot sun in Sun Juan to board the ship and after that everything was down hill !!! The ship was dedicated to the latino passengers ( 2000 of them ) from the food to the entertainment even all their waters spoke only spanish to all the passengers even when I told many of them no coprente espaniol they didn't care to answer in English ...Take my advise..never book from Puerto Rico during

any holidays ...you will be very disappointed and as far as Royal ... never again. I'm going back to Princess ( I have done 10 cruises with them ) Thank God there was some cheese and bread because the rest was all typical spicy spanish Smaller room and balcony compared to Princess other then the ice skating show the rest was for the latino customers N/A Read the above ...overall from 1 to 10 I'll rate this cruise - 1

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Dec 6, 2012

southern caribbean

My first time with Royal and the last !!! It took 3 hours under the hot sun in Sun Juan to board the ship and after that everything was down hill !!! The ship was dedicated to the latino passengers ( 2000 of them ) from the food to the entertainment even all their waters spoke only spanish to all the passengers even when I told many of them no coprente espaniol they didn't care to answer in English ...Take my advise..never book from Puerto Rico during

any holidays ...you will be very disappointed and as far as Royal ... never again. I'm going back to Princess ( I have done 10 cruises with them ) Thank God there was some cheese and bread because the rest was all typical spicy spanish Smaller room and balcony compared to Princess other then the ice skating show the rest was for the latino customers N/A Read the above ...overall from 1 to 10 I'll rate this cruise - 1

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Sep 26, 2011

western med

The cruise was very good, service was faultless,food great,entertainment very good. Great selection well cooked well presented. We only used the buffet resturant. Large enough for 2 well maintained towels changed twice daily. Plenty to do, varied and well organized. The cruise was well worth the money and we would go again. Excursions were good and we could not fault the service HOWEVER the choice of prepaying your tips

is something that should be avoided. We were told that by paying a set sum upfront($50 per person)this would cover all our tips WRONG this only covers 3 waiters in the main dining room(who we never saw)as we only used the buffet resturant and the cabin steward. When buying drinks we were charged a service charge every time this is the waiters tip 15%+tax. On two drinks this put the price up from $10 to nearer $15

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Sep 12, 2011

Europe

Lets just say we have been on holidays all over the world and enjoyed many years of traveling, but never before have we ever experienced anything like it, it was out of this world, from stepping on the ship to going home it was amazing.Every day was filled with superb locations and on board the ship from dining to entertainment you were spoiled by such attentiveness and service. Where do i begin, at the beginning ! On our first night we went

to the restaurant, we were greeted by our waiters. Our waiter was Elmer form the Philippines and our assistant waiter was from Serbia, they waited on our family every night and made our holiday complete. The food was delicous, lots of choice every night. The menu was well explained every night and being a chef i always had lots of questions which were always answered. They both made us look forward to dinner time, thank you both for all you did for us, we loved having you as our waiters. Very comfortable and always kept immaculately clean by our housekeeper Henri. The balcony for me was a bonus and i loved sitting out and taking in the views or just watching the waves. The room was spacious and the shower room was more than adequate for what you need. Look out for towels in disguise as animals ! Henri worked very hard and there was nothing that was too much trouble for him. We enjoyed the shows and would say that the ice show and the Bee Gees night were our favourites. There was always something to do for every age group more or less 24 hours a day. By the pool we enjoyed the singers every day and my daughter enjoyed the childrens club. We went on 2 tours and would reccomend them highly for people that prefer going with a guide. The trip to Rome was great as it was a panaramic tour so in the 42 degree heat you were able to see all the sights and sit in a very comfortable air conditioned bus. Also there was time to grab an italian pizza and ice cream, what could be better. The day in Pisa again was great, you got picked up by bus then taken to a little boat, which served free ice creams, then on a raod train right into the centre of Pisa, we then were taken to a little cafe for cool drinks and nibbles, then had plenty of time to look round the market stalls and see a very odd building that happens to lean ! The day in Corsica we went by ourselves, the ship docks right by the village (whereas to go to Pisa and Rome its a good hour away ) so within 2 minutes walking you are there. Its a lovely wee village with a market, plenty of cafe, shops and souvenir shops. Not a day has gone by since we got home that we don't miss being on board. We loved the whole experience, from waking and then going off to explore another city to looking forward to dinner with our waiters. We already have the 2012 brochures, so lets hope there is another review on here soon ! Thank you Royal Caribbean for a memory we will never forget.

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May 21, 2011

Southern Caribbean

This was my 14th cruise, my 4th with Royal Caribbean. I found the Adventure of The Seas to be a beautiful ship with many activities and good shows. Our cabin was on Deck 8 with a balcony. This cruise was 7 days visiting Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Croix. We sailed from San Juan. The first day was a day at sea. There were 2 formal nights. The check-in process ran smoothly and took very little time. There was enough staff

at the airport and the pier to assist making the entire process an efficient one. The show on the skating rink was so good I saw it twice! The suitcases took a while to get to the cabin. I would cruise on this ship again. The food was good. I found there was more to choose from in the Windjammer Café. The buffet was very good with many selections. Since the weather was great during the 7 days, there were always tables available in the Café. Some days we ate by the pool. The waiter and assistant in the Vivaldi dining room were great. They were very attentive. We had a table for 2. The main dining room is 3 levels and is beautifully decorated. We purchased a water package and had a box of Evian water waiting for us when we got to the cabin. Evian water is has an odd taste to it, which we did not care for. Poland Spring water is better. Even the cruise ship's water was better than Evian. The stateroom was nice, though I found it smaller than on other cruise ships I have sailed on. The Cabin Steward, John, was excellent and was always ready to assist us in any way he could. Nightly we'd find towel animals in our statement. We enjoyed seeing them. There were on board activities to please everyone. Since this cruise was during Easter/Spring Break, there were a lot of young children. The children were well behaved and the ship had enough activities to keep them busy. I found the excursions to be excellent but on the pricey side. The guides on all the tours were very friendly and answered all our questions. All the tours met on the pier or in a terminal and they all left on time. Barbados' eastern side is beautiful and we enjoyed the Bathsheba area very much. On St. Lucia we visited the volcano in Soufriere, a botanical garden, stopped at 2 fishing villages and had lunch on our way to the volcano. We visited Shirley Heights, Nelson Dockyard, etc, on Antigua. The views from all stops made were incredible. We were able to see the island of Montserrat with its volcano sending a white cloud upward. The tour on St. Maarten took us to the beach with lunch included. Orient Beach is beautiful. Unfortunately the sea was a little rough and some of us got knocked over by a huge wave. This would be the only island that we had rain. It rained for about 10 minutes. Since I was born and raised on the island of St. Croix, I did not take any tour. I did take my friend on a walking/driving tour of the island. Would I have taken a tour, it would have been to Buck Island. We flew to San Juan from New York. The airfare was costly. Again, this could be due to it being the week of Easter and Spring Break. All sites, including AA.com and Choice Air, did not have low prices on the airfare. This cruise was booked at the last moment so that could also be a reason for the high prices. We finally used Choice Air to book the flights. Our connecting flights were cheaper than flying direct to San Juan yet we flew first class! I was surprised that luggage check in at the San Juan pier was not available. In the past on other cruise ships we were allowed to check in our luggage on board or on the pier. Since our flight was after 5 p.m., I decided to visit relatives in San Juan. We had to take our luggage to the airport to have it stored for a minimal fee. Luckily, we had purchased transfer to/from the airport.

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Jan 27, 2011

Caribbean

My experience in the beautiful island of Dominica started since I descended from the cruise ship and saw the island and its people, I met a young man named Omar from EcoExotica Tour, thanks to him my family and friends learned the beauty and charms of Dominica; its volcanoes, fantastic waterfalls, lovely fruits, luxuries of nature, the people, and its rich customs and history. The excursion with Omar from EcoExotica Tour was to never forget, his

humor and intelligence, his good treatment and kindness, for the three hour tour he was very informative and revealing. Omar took us to many and different important touristic sites of the island, he is for us as a very qualified, professional and talented tour guide, thanks to him we discovered the beautiful island of Dominica. Outstanding service and unbelievable food! This was so much fun. The people were very nice. When we go back we will do this again!!!! Fun, Relaxing and wonderful

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Jan 3, 2011

repositioning -- transatlantic

This was our third transatlantic repositioning cruise (the previous two having been with Celebrity). Although we enjoyed the cruise, it did not rise to the standard of our previous cruising experiences. We have sailed with RC before; this time we were left feeling that Royal Caribbean's ships are just getting too big, and it's standards of service are sagging noticably. Our first evening onboard, we discovered that our reserved table for 6 had

been assigned for 8. Ooops. That error was corrected for the next evening. The food wasvery good typical cruise fare. We've had better, most notably aboard Celebrity and Holland America. We always ate our evening meal in the beautiful dining room, where the service at our table was excellent... although the quality of the entrees was a bit hit and miss. Some evenings the entrees were superb, othertimes less so. But, there was always a good choice. The deserts were consistently dreadful, leaving us to wonder why there was a better choice of excellent deserts at the buffet. Our 6th deck balcony stateroom was excellent, as was the care and attention provided by the stateroom staff. Note however that many passengers were complaining that their staterooms were only being serviced late in the day. Apparently, RC was training a lot of new hotel staff on this cruise, and conducting a lot of daytime training seminars for crew... who were expected to catch up later in the day, after their classes. Well, I guess that's one way to interpret "service". This secenario was repeated with the onboard bars, most of which remained closed during the daytime while inexperienced bartenders received classroom training. No complaints regarding the typical onboard activities, except for ENTERTAINMENT. This was the worst feature of this cruise -- the formal shows and various lounge entertainers, as a group, represented the worst offering of entertainment that we have experienced on our previous 8 cruises. There was a very good Ice Show that everyone seemed to enjoy, and there was an Elton John 'impersonator' who was excellent. Otherwise, the selection of onboard entertainment was pretty awful. The port of departure was the beautiful city of Barcelona. If you have the opportunity to spend a few days in Barcelona, do it. It's fabulous. And the embarkation in the modern was was a model of organization and excellent service. The selection of the Mediterranean Ports of Call was very good, althought the timing of some of the visits was questionable. For example, we visited Toulon on a Monday. Doesn't RC know that the French generally work Saturday and take Monday off? The port city was essentially closed. In San Juan, we had booked a city tour that was to take us to the airport in time for our early afternoon flight. However, disembarkation was a disaster, and we missed this prepaid tour entirely. Scheduled to clear port customs around 7:00 AM, the ship was only cleard at around 8:30 AM. Then, passengers were summoned to a large metal building where, in 80 degree heat and without washroom facilities or water, we stood in line for three hours to clear US customs. Welcome to the USA!

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Dec 31, 2010

Southern Caribbean

This is our first cruise. My wife and I travelled with our children aged 20 and 17. They had an inside state room right beside ours. We did not know what to expect from the cruise, but were very impressed with the overall experience. We will cruise again. Food in all areas was great. The main dining room with my time dining was very useful. We pre-purchased 5 bottles of wine. The dinners were fantastic - great lamb chanks, duck, rack of

lamb and lobsters. We dined the last night in Portofinos, the specialty restaurant for $20 more. It was over the top! Buffets were plentiful but on one or two days when it was more rainy it was tough to find a seat. Breakfasts in the main dining room were great as you got a made to order meal without the buffet lines. The staff were a bit confused about what to do with our 20 year old. Could she drink or not? At dinner it was ok but the main desk said no. Would be nice to make it clear. She is drinking age in Canada. We had 2 pop packages but would only buy one next time. There were lots of bars and most had good service. Our stateroom was fine for an inside room. It was well laid out with no problems what so ever. In the future we will get a balcony but at the time we did not know if we'd like cruising so opted for the lower cost option. There is a lot to do all the time on the boat. We enjoyed the shows that we attended and for sure make sure you get tickets for the ice show the day that you arrive. Movies (movie room needs a new projector - movies had a green tinge), art shows, swimming, hot tubs, minigolf all were hits. We liked the excursions we did. In St Thomas we took a taxi to town, did some chopping and then hopped aboard a local tour bus/taxi for a 2 hour tour. Well worth the $25. In St Maarten, we did the Royal Caribbean sponsored all day jeep adventure. It was a blast. For 6 hours we drove our own jeep as part of a convoy and saw the whole island. It was something different than a tour bus and well worth the experience. The guide gave us walkie talkies and kept us informed of all that was going on. St Kitt's we arranged our own tour over the internet with Roosevelt Taylor, a St Kitt native who lived in the US for 30+ years. (http://www.stkittsislandparadisetours.com/index.cfm). Tour was supposed to be 3+ hours but stretched on for 4+. He had 20 attendees when he usually has about 8-10 so perhaps this slowed us down. Well worth it and very affordable at $48. Grenada and St Lucia visits were hampered by poor weather. We flew in on our own Detroit to Charlotte NC and then to San Juan with US Air. In Charlotte the plane could not fly and we had to wait for another plane which had fewer seats. We wondered if we'd get there on Saturday! We arrive 3 hours late while other people had to wait til the next day. Stayed at the Embassy Suites. It had a great pool and breakfast, and the room was ok. Next time we'll splurge for 2 rooms. On the way back we flew from San Juan to Chicago and then to Detroit (American Airlines). The boat arrived in San Juan on the Sunday Am and flew out on the Tuesday. In the future we'd shave a day off that stay. We saw old San Juan and then stayed at the Radisson in Condado. I would choose another hotel next time but the rate was great. Its close to the beach and lots of restaurants but we had problems with one room and had to request another. Hotel staff were great. It has a noisy casino but it calmed down after midnight. Flights home were great except San Juan airport was disorganized with extra stranded passengers from the eastern seaboard snow storm.

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Jan 25, 2010

Eastern Caribbean

This was my first cruise ever. The excitement was so powerful, it was hard to sleep at night. We arrived at the port of call, San Juan Port Rico. The shuttle took us to the dock and we saw this MASSIVE ship over 1,000 feet long. We boarded and headed to our room. It was spectacular. We had a inside stateroom that joined. The entire thing is more than I expected. The food was one of the best parts of the trip. Our waiter was very nice and took our

orders quickly. We were referred to as "The Big Family" by him as we sat with another group of four, making us nine people. The food was absolutely outstanding. Everything was cooked just the way we ordered it. It was seasoned properly, not too spicy and not too blah. The meat seemed fresh and marinated wonderfully. Our waiter gave all the kids at the table free desserts a few times, I guess because the crew on board is so generous. The stateroom, since it was a joining interior stateroom, was small and had no windows. But you don't really need to see anything when you are going to bed. And if you need to see something, go to the top deck. Anyway, there was plenty of storage and comfort in the room. Every night, there would be a candy on our pillow and the towels would be shaped in the form of an animal by the housekeeper. There was water and ice conveniently located on a shelf under the TV. The stateroom was nice and cozy to go back to after a long day on the islands. Being a kid, I spent most of my on-board experience in Adventure Ocean which is a club for kids. I went in there on the first day not knowing anybody but my sister. By the end of the day, we had made about 5 friends and more as our wonderful and enchanted journey moved on. The counselors hosted many fun games and awarded prizes. Also, each night, there was a late night party for kids. This was a fun experience as each night was a different theme. One night was sports night and we spent the whole night on the sports deck. I also spent time on the pool deck. The pool is surrounded by food stands and beach chairs. There is a pool-side bar, a serve yourself, low-fat soft serve ice cream machine and cones. The deck is also compacted of many beach chairs. The pool was very clean, crystal-clear. It was on the small side but not too many people were in it at once. My parents enjoyed many on-board comedy shows and the midnight buffet. They recommended the buffet as it was a great way to finish off your day without the kids! Dont miss out on the Dolphin encounter in Curacao. This was great because you learned about and interacted with live bottle-nosed dolphins. You can see them jump and a trainer actually ride the dolphin. You also take a picture with one too, The trip was excellent from the food, stateroom, the on-board activities, all the way to the shore excursions. This cruise is great to bring families closer together. As it may sound like there is no family time, you would be surprised at how much your family interacts with one another. This cruise is perfect for anyone looking for a lot of fun and relaxation.

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Sep 25, 2009

Southern Caribbean

This was my and my boyfriends first cruise. I was really worried that I wouldn't like cruising and we debated just going to Mexico and stay at a resort or to go on this cruise. I finally decided on the cruise because it's something neither of us had experienced. Overall I am very happy with our decision. Breakfast was available in the dining room, the cafe, and through room service. The room service was nice on the days we had early excursions

because we didn't have to get dressed and walk to the other side of the ship. The food selection is limited and our order was always a little wrong, but overall it was fine. The buffet in the cafe had plenty of options although some you could tell had been sitting there for a while. Seating was always a struggle with any meal we ate here. Dinner in the dining room was incredible. The waiters are amazing. The food was always perfect and you could order as much of it as you wanted. Dinner in cafe was good, my favorite being the sushi rolled fresh right in front of you! I figured the rooms would be pretty simple, seeing as how you are never in them except to sleep, and I was right. Oringinally, I booked an inside room but after a couple weeks the price of the cruise went down so I upgraded to a balcony room. I'm not sure if the price drop is something that happens all the time but it's definitely worth paying attention to. I also heard other seasoned cruisers saying that as soon as you board the ship, go straight to the guest services desk to ask for an upgrade in case someone doesn't show for their cruise. Anyway, the balcony was very nice to have and now that I've had one there will be no way I will book a room without one. It's great to be able to look outside and see how the weather is. Also, when you're outside at night you can see all the stars and listen to the waves. We went to a couple comedy shows which were entertaining and the love and marriage game and the quest were both hilarious. We always attended karaoke which was never long enough. Miniature golf was fun. There were pool-side activities like belly flop contest and men's sexy legs contest which were hysterical. When we first booked the cruise, I saw the prices for the excursions and I thought "that's not worth it, I'll find stuff to do on my own". After searching forever on the internet, I decided I didn't have the time or patience to find activities on my own. We ended up booking four excursions through RCCL. Our first one in Barbados was sail and snorkel with the turtles. It was $100pp for the whole day. A little pricey but well worth it. We sailed out to Turtle Bay and snorkeled while the guys from the excursion fed the turtles so that they would swim over to us. It was awesome, unfortunately it wasn't sunny that day so visibility was less than perfect. Then we sailed to the reef and then stopped at a beach. The staff was wonderful and kept us entertained the whole time. We got a huge lunch and as many glasses of rum punch as you could handle. This is a "don't miss"! Another trip not to miss is swimming and snorkeling with the stingrays in Antigua. I was scared at first, but it is one of the coolest things I've ever gotten to experience! Our next excursion was to the butterfly farms and Marigot which is a city in St Maarten. I love butterflies so I was really excited, however, it really wasn't very fun. Marigot is not fun at all because it's on the french side of St Maarten which is the expensive side so you don't want to do your shopping there. We basically sat on the bus until it was time to go. Our last excursion was in the Virgin Islands and it was to the rum factory, botanical gardens and a plantation. Personally I thought this trip was horrible. The guide didn't really explain anything and it was so hot that it was hard follow along anyway. They take you up and down some really steep stairs so I stayed behind the rest of the group to make sure the older people that were there made it without getting hurt. The botanical gardens were pretty but it was so hot that the guides had us stay in the shaded areas so we missed some stuff. We also couldn't tour any of the rainforest due to hurricane damage (which no one told us until we got there). The plantation was pretty boring and again it was so hot that it lost all it's appeal. We took off our shoes and sat at a picnic table until it was time to get back on the bus. The only day we didn't have an excursion was the day we were in St Lucia. We tried to walk to all the shops and along the way we were hasseled constantly by taxi drivers. At one point, there was a traffic jam because 5 different cab drivers were trying to get us in their cabs. It was crazy. The whole time we were shopping there were guys following us in and out of the stores trying to get us in their cabs. We were so fed up that we ended up getting back on the ship. Our friends had a lot of fun on the ATV excursion and the parasailing excursion. I wish we would've done one of those. For the most part the excursions are fun, and I think it's worth it to pay for RCCL to arrange them. Also, since the trip is arranged by them, if for some reason you are late getting back, the boat won't leave without you! We stayed in Puerto Rico for 2 days before the cruise left. I can't say that I liked it very much. It's definitely not somewhere I would stay any longer than a couple days. It's expensive and not very clean. From what a few locals said, it's not very safe either so stay close to your hotel, especially at night. The cruise started boarding at 2, but check-out at the hotel was at noon so we just decided to head over early. There was already a really long line. None of the staff were saying which line to stand in so we just got in one. We ended up being in the right line which was the line to send your big bags to your room. They placed tags on your luggage depending on your room number. Unfortunately, since I upgraded our room, we didn't know our new room number. I found an employee and told him our problem and he said not to worry, he'd find out what to do. Well, he never came back. So I told the guys collecting the luggage that we didn't have a new room number and they said that was fine just to give them the old number. I did even though I suspected this would cause problems later (which it did). Next, we were ushered into a huge building without air conditioning or fans, with about 150 other people to sit and wait. Everyone was covered in sweat and we were beginning to fear for the elderly people's lives. Finally a staff member comes in and says they will take us 10 at a time to get us checked in so we should be patient. I would think with as many cruises as RCCL has done that they would have this process down a little better. Eventually, they filed us all out of that building and into another; I guess after they realized that someone was going to croak pretty soon. As soon as we got on board we went to the guest relations desk to tell them about our bags being labeled with our old room number. They said it happens all the time and they'd tell the housekeeper to send them to the new room. So we thought it was all taken care of. Wrong. The next day at 11am we had to go back to the desk because we still didn't have them. All in all we had a great time and I'm sure we will go on more cruises. I do recommend getting motion sickness patches before you leave if you've never been on a cruise. I have never had problems with motion sickness but I did get sick the first night and was glad to have the patch to put on. Also, if you plan on drinking on the boat be careful! Drinks are 5.75-10.00 a piece plus a mandatory 15% tip. It adds up quick and you don't really realize how much you're spending because everything gets charged to your seapass.

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May 23, 2009

Southern Carribean

We had a great time. The Adventure of the Seas was our first cruise ship. My wife was afraid of being sea sick so wore a patch which she highly recommends if you are doing any boat excursions or even going to the theater in the front of the ship while cruising. Junior suite was great. Great staff. Good food in the dining rooms. Windjammer is good but not special. We liked our excursions but they are very pricey. On ship entertainment

very good, if you have time. Lots of things to do on board. Even bridge tournaments. Did too much this time, but don't regret it. The dining room food was very good and included prime rib, lobster, steak and other treats. The head chef was from India so if you liked curry or other indian dishes you could select them as well. The Windjammer was fine for comfort foods to fill you up and they had some novelties each day but it was mostly just a upscale cafeteria. Desserts were endless and varied but I could not find cheesecake. Oh well. The Adventure of the Seas was our first cruise ship. We paid for a Junior Suite, which was great. The room was very much like a nice hotel room with full bath and balcony. It was a 7 day cruise so I didn't want to get claustrophobic. Our stateroom attendant took great care of our room. We left for the morning and came back it was clean and ready. When we came back after dinner the bed was ready and always a cute towel animal to entertain (my wife looked forward to a new one every day). There was so much to do on the ship and so much to do at the ports. We took in the ice skating show and one comedian. These were class acts. We were too worn out to do more. Next time we will enjoy life on the ship more. I thought I would actually take advantage of the exercise facilities, climbing wall and other things but with island adventures every day we just wanted to lay back at the boat. We did 4 excursions and one island trip with friends. We liked all our excursions. The excursions are pricey but we enjoyed the ones we did. We did the Tiami catamaran snorkeling with the turtles in Barbados. We really did swim with the turtles and the crew was great fun and interaction. Not much to see other than turtles though - must like rum punch or beer for the ride back. It was a party boat. In St Lucia we did the boat cruise to the Pitons (with rum punch). It was a beautiful cruise where you sail right up to the shore of the large peaks. The stop and swim at the beach was a nice break on the way back, there were vendors on boats selling local crafts - not as cheap as at a shop unless you talk them way down. We did a great 4X4 ride in Antigua (more rum punch) and that was our first view of the inside of a island with the history and lifestyles of the typical resident. The stop at Turner beach was fun. Probably the nicest water we saw all cruise. On St Maarten we traveled with friends we made in a taxi around the island. For $150 we had the van for the day for all 6. I am sure you can get a better rate but this was the way to go. We first went to the infamous Orient beach, the European style beach. While it was nice I think you will enjoy others as well. Then we with to Marigot. Take cash as they don't take credit in most of the smaller shops and restaurants. It was not as nice as Phillipsburg and there were even some prostitutes working near the small restaurant where we ate lunch. Phillipsburg had so much shopping that you can find anything you want there. On St Croix we did another snorkeling, this time at Buck Island. The Buck Island snorkel on St Croix was beautiful, lots of colored fish, spiney lobster and small baracuda. It is not as nice as snorkeling in Hawaii per my wife. The ride over there is not for the sqeemish and the crew was so so. This tour included a drive across the island so you can see both cities while you are there. Christensted seems to be the life of the island for shopping etc. You can ask to leave the tour and visit Christensted and take a taxi back. We did not have enough time for this but it would be a good add on adventure. Fredericksted has the deep port and has had trouble getting cruise ship. They had an event with local dance groups and music near the pier apparently to celebrate and entertain the first cruise ship in a while. The local shops and vendors in Fredericksted were more down to earth and what you may think of vs the chains of jewelry stores at the other ports, It was a refreshing break. We paid for a Junior Suite which was great. The room was very much like a nice hotel room with full bath and balcony. It was a 7 day cruise so I didn't want to get claustrophobic. Our stateroom attendant took great care of our room. We left for the morning and came back it was clean and ready. When we came back after dinner the bed was ready and always a cute towel animal to entertain. The ship is HUGE. There are 15 stories. We enjoyed being able to walk to the very front of the ship and look out, a la Titianic. There really is a skating rink and nice sized theater. We found a nice quiet bar called the Schooner where we hung out sometimes before dinner. The dining room food was very good and included prime rib, lobster, steak and other treats. The head chef was from India so if you liked curry or other indian dishes you could select them as well. The Windjammer was fine for comfort foods to fill you up and they had some novelties each day but it was mostly just a upscale cafeteria. Desserts were endless and varied but I could not find cheesecake. Oh well. The staff on the Adventure of the Seas were great. Everyone greets you and tries to help in any way they can. We went to one of the bars where I had a beer but my wife wanted coffee. The bar did not have coffee so the waiter ran down the promenade to the coffee shop and brought my wife her coffee. There was so much to do on the ship and so much to do at the ports. We were too worn out to do more. Next time we will enjoy life on the ship more. I thought I would actually take advantage of the exercise facilities, climbing wall and other things but with island adventures every day we just wanted to lay back at the boat. One word of advice for new cruisers. At each meal, meet someone and find out more about cruising. We made friends with two experienced cruise couples that allowed us to brave St Maaten as a group, which was not only more fun, but also made the taxi much cheaper. One thing I read about and it is true. On the first day of cruising, everyone is at the pool. They have two large pool areas but they do not accommodate 3000 folks. Save your pool days for later in the cruise unless you want to go early and get there before the crowd. The cruise ship seems to be tied to the stores on the islands, especially with Diamonds International. We attended a session on shopping in the islands and thought we would learn about currency, customs etc. It turned out to be a 1 hour ad for jewelry shopping. Just say no. This was the next to the last Caribbean cruise for the Adventure of the Seas. This summer it will be moving to the Mediterranean to sail out of Spain, I think. They will get a new crew. A new ship is coming in December called the Oasis of the Seas. It has room for 5000 and looks on the main hall more like a city park than a promenade. We did 4 excursions and one island trip with friends. The excursions are pricey, but we enjoyed the ones we did. We did the Tiami catamaran snorkeling with the turtles in Barbados. We really did swim with the turtles and the crew was great. It was a party boat. In St Lucia we did the boat cruise to the Pitons. It was a beautiful cruise where you sail right up to the shore of the large peaks. The stop and swim at the beach was a nice break on the way back, We did a 4X4 ride in Antigua and that was our first view of the inside of a island with the history and lifestyles of the typical resident. The stop at Turner beach was fun. Probably the nicest water we saw all cruise. On St Maarten we traveled with friends we made in a taxi around the island. For $150 we had the van for the day for all 6. I am sure you can get a better rate but this was the way to go. We first went to the infamous Orient beach, the European style beach. While it was nice I think you will enjoy others as well. Then we with to Marigot. Take cash as they don't take credit in most of the smaller shops and restaurants. It was not as nice as Phillipsburg and there were even some prostitutes working near the small restaurant where we ate lunch. Phillipsburg had so much shopping that you can find anything you want there. On St Croix we did another snorkeling, this time at Buck Island. This included a drive across the island so you can see both cities while you are there. Christensted seems to be the life of the island for shopping etc. Fredericksted has the deep port and has had trouble getting cruise ship. They had an event with local dance groups and music near the pier apparently to celebrate and entertain the first cruise ship in a while. The local shops and vendors in Fredericksted were more down to earth and what you may think of vs the chains of jewelry stores at the other ports, It was a refreshing break. The seven days went fast. I would not consider a cruise under 5 days based on this experience. I might recommend staying a day before the cruise or a day after to vacation in San Juan to avoid the massive crowds on embarking and disembarking at the airport . There were three ships arriving at the same time (this was out of season).

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May 19, 2009

Caribbean

This was the first cruise for my husband and me. We booked this cruise with other family members that had already been on cruises, which helped a lot. I was really impressed with this cruise. The crew members were extremely nice and went out of their way to get you whatever you needed. The entertainment was great!! The cruise director, Casey Pelter was wonderful. He seemed to have everything organized and under control. The Newlywed Game and

the Quest shows were extremly funny and enjoyable. I will definitly cruise again with them. The ship was beautiful!!! I really felt like we were in another world while we were sailing. Our cruise was a 7 day cruise and before we left friends of ours had said that was to long for a cruise. No it is not. There is all kinds of things to do. We didn't get to do some of the things we had said we were going to do because we just ran out of time. You never ran out of things to do. It was so relaxing and enjoyable. The head waiter and waitress were wonderful. I think the head waiter was George. He was hallarious!! We looked forward to seeing him every night at dinner. Ima, our waitress, was wonderful also. She was so polite and excellent with her service. I definitely hated to see the last day come. Clifford, our stateroom attendant, was also excellent. He was very efficient with his work and we never wanted for anything. The little animals he made for us every night with the towels were very cute also. We had a early flight out on Sunday morning in Puerto Rico so we were one the first people off the ship. I was really impressed with how they handled the early flight people. Our flight left at 9:40 a.m. and we got off the ship and had plenty of time to get to the airport. The crew members of this ship are EXTREMELY WONDERFUL!!!!!!!! We felt fight at home and never met a rude crew member at all. This ship has a wonderful crew. Keep up the good work!!! We definitely will cruise again on the ADVENTURES OF THE SEA!!!!! The food was wonderful!!! All kinds of a selection!! The room was beautiful and was real impressed with the privacy of the balcony in our stateroom. The activities were wonderful also. Some of them were overpriced. We went on the pirate of the Caribbean excursion in Barbados. We had alot of fun but I don't think it was worth what we paid. We definitely had a wonderful time and will do it again SOON!!!

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Mar 20, 2008

Southern Caribbean

My wife and I just got back from our cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas. We are both in our early 30’s and had sailed on Carnival together four previous times and wanted to try a different line. I’ll hit the highlights and the “issues” that others have written/asked about and also compare to Carnival. Much has been written about the islands themselves, so I will focus more on the ins and outs…warning…kind of long!

Day 1 – Arrive in San Juan. Our flight arrived at about 11:15 into San Juan. It’s not the nicest airport, but hey, we are off on a cruise, so who really cares! We had arranged our transportation through RCCL. In the baggage area, there was a representative who directed us to a line to wait with our luggage for the bus to take us to the ship. As it was early, and buses were still bringing people to the airport, we waited about ½ hour. Once the bus arrived, it was nice to be able to leave your luggage and not have to deal with it again until it was delivered to the stateroom. The only suggestion I would have is that outside nobody really told anybody what to do. Instead, I think the head of the line was told and then everyone who followed just kind of did what the people in front of them did….which was leave your luggage on the curb as someone loaded it into some cargo vans. So, your luggage does NOT go with you on the bus and you hope it is delivered to your room. Which it was! The bus ride took about 20 minutes and when we arrived at about 12:15, there was a short line outside the terminal. Having arranged the transportation form the airport, we did not have to carry our luggage through the line, which was nice. We waited here about 15 minutes and once inside, it moved SO quickly, as they really had their act together. We were on the ship by 12:45. The obligatory “welcome aboard” photos were taken, but not causing any delays! Once we got on, the doors to the stateroom hallways were closed and we had tostay in the public areas. They open the doors at 2pm, so don’t plan in getting to your room much earlier! We went to the Windjammer/Island Grill for some food. The buffet setup is similar to the Carnival Conquest-class ships (in number of stations), and the food selection/quality is comparable. What was amazing, though, was the quality of service in the Windjammer/Island. Rather than just clearing your plates, the staff members in these areas are constantly refilling your lemonade/fruit punch, etc. and are always asking if you need anything. Great service in here! Be forewarned though on Day 1…you may wait a bit in line on this day, as this is really the only place open for a lot of hungry travelers. You need to expect that, but don’t fear…it is the worst line of the week, and you will never wait more than a minute or two! Also, the key here later in the week is if you see a line when you enter, go around to the other stations out back (Island Grill)…same food, shorter lines! The ship is beautiful. Having been on the Carnival Fantasy, Destiny, and Conquest class ships, this one took the cake. While we liked the “themes” that Carnival has on their ships (each ship has a theme throughout the ship), overall the décor was nicer. The Royal Promenade was more impressive seeing it for real and the pool decks have much more open deck space and chairs. On the Destiny/Conquest-class ships, saving deck chairs is a problem because there are simply not enough chairs/space. Their deal is that they give you two “beach/pool” towels in your room and if you lose them, they charge you $20. This is supposed to encourage people not to leave towels out to save chairs, but it still happens here. Though it is really not a problem because you will find one somewhere in all of that open space! And they (staff) do not pick up your stuff if you leave things unattended for over 30 minutes, as several signs warn people. Bottom-line…plenty of space, saving chairs not an issue! Our luggage arrived around 10pm, but we are able to eat in the dining room with what we had on. The dining room is unbelievably impressive…three levels and very elegant. We ended up changing our seat assignment, and they were very accommodating. Food was comparable to Carnival, though again, the service was far superior. We thought the menus were a little corny. Water glasses seem to be magically filled up as soon as you take a sip! Day 2 – At Sea All of the typical activities you would expect…bingo, pool games, etc. I did notice there were more “teaching” activities, where you could learn to play piano, cook, etc. Nice touch in addition to the regular items. Bingo was offered everyday. Carnival has the announcements in your face 24/7, whereas RCCL is more subtle about it. The price is more though. $35 for 6 cards for five games (6 on each game). This can add up obviously, and we only ended up playing once! On Monday morning, I think around 9, you can line up to get tickets for the ice shows. They are worth seeing. They offer four shows (two on two different days). They are general admission tickets and you do need one to get in. The line backed up if you were not there just before 9, but here’s the trick….save yourself the aggravation of the line and just go to Guest Relations later that day or later in the week. They had plenty left over for three of the four shows. If you are not picky about the day/time, why bother waiting in line Monday morning when you can get them later on line-free!! Day 3 - Aruba. We found the excursions to be slightly cheaper than Carnival, and they have a nice system on the TV, where you can see videos of some tours and book from there. No port talks like on Carnival where they briefly mention the tours and then tell you about all the places to shop! You can learn right from your room. Even though the tours were reasonable, we often did our own things and save more money. On Aruba, we rented a taxi for two hours and our driver took us all around. The taxi rates in Aruba are high…$40/hour, but you can see most of the island in 2-3 hours. What’s nice too, is they post all of the taxi fares on the piers and there are no surprises when it comes time to pay the driver. Oranjestead was a pretty town, a lot of action, and we stayed docked until 1am. What is particularly impressive about here and Curacao is that you don’t feel pestered by the merchants at all. They do not hassle you and let you shop without any pressure at all. Day 4 – Curacao Again, we did our own thing in the morning, taking a taxi to the Hato Caves. They are not advertised much anywhere, but are definitely worth seeing. I think we paid $40 and the driver stayed with us while we took the tour…he was with us for about two hours. And we avoided the busloads that pulled in as we were leaving! We did take the RCCL excursion to the dolphin encounter. On the day the Adventure is in town, you can only book it through them and not directly through the Dolphin Academy. We tried, but no luck…RCCL has the monopoly on it on Wednesdays, but oh well….a very nice place and a memorable tour! Day 5 – At Sea The rock-climbing wall called! You sign up and don’t have to wait more than ten minutes to get on. They keep it moving, with 2-3 lines going at once. I made it to the top, but didn’t really know what I was doing. The staff is there to help you out if you get stuck halfway up, bit didn’t expect much in the way of instructions at the start!! Johnny Rocket’s is definitely worth doing once. It is $4/pp cover charge and when we went while on a sea day, we did not wait at all. Day 6 – St. Marteen We had been here before, so we took a van to Marigot. It is pretty over there. The taxis are reasonable ($12 total to get there….1/2 hour) and the taxi dispatch is organized, stuffing as many into a cab as comfortable and off you go! Day 7 – St. Thomas Having been to St. Thomas several times, we stayed on the ship. The only hassle here is the immigration line. Between 7 and 9am you have to present yourself to the officials in the dining room. We went around 8:30, and the line started at the dining room, went back all the way through the Promenade, and looped halfway back again. The good news is that is moves quickly (they look at your passport real quickly), but it is the longest line of the week if you catch it at the wrong time. Day 8 – San Juan We had arranged RCCL transportation from the pier to the airport. They call you off according to a number they give you based on your flight info. Our flight was for 1:15 and we were called off at 9:15. We decided to wait a bit and get some more sun. They ask you to wait in lounges, but don’t seem to have any problem with people waiting on deck. We finally dragged ourselves off and picked up our luggage in the terminal. The in became chaotic. If we had gotten off before 10am, we could have checked it with American Airlines right there and not had to deal with it again. This was never really made clear previously, but no big deal, as it just meant we’d board the bus with our luggage and check it at the airport. This is more of the problem though: your luggage gets put in a cargo van and you have to pick it up at the airport to check it. The issue is that the van does not necessarily leave when your bus does. Once your bus fills, you go. Once the van fills with luggage, it goes. So, if your bus fills, but the van is loading other luggage for other buses, you wait at the airport for it to show up. We waited about 20 minutes, but others waited 30-35. And when it arrives, there is no RCCL sign on the van (just remember which one you put your luggage on). Bottom line save yourself aggravation, time, and money, and take a taxi yourself from the pier to the airport. Notes: Entertainment was solid, with a lot more live music than Carnival, but one less production show. Comedians galore…three over seven nights. Love & Marriage is just like Carnival’s Newlywed Game. What is really worth seeing though, is the Adventure Quest “Scavenger” hunt game. It is held in the ice rink with a cover over the ice and teams compete to bring a variety of things to the audience. They didn’t really push this show, but it was full and clear to see why! Cabins are about the same size as Carnival’s, though more thought put into them. Sliding doors on the showers, sliding doors to the balcony (no propping them open with a chair), and much more drawer/cabinet space. Service was unbelievable. Everywhere you go, a staff member says hello, asks how you are, etc. Carnival has good service, but I did feel that RCCL went above and beyond. Once I asked if they had an extra copy of the newspaper they print up and put in the library. The Guest Relations rep apologized they were out and gave me ten minutes free Internet time. I hadn’t even complained! Having sailed on Carnival several times and only once on RCCL, I would definitely recommend both, but we will definitely take another Voyager-class ship aboard RCCL soon! As they say, Get Out There! Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the ship, trip, etc.

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Sep 23, 2007

Southern Caribbean

My husband John, daughter Jennifer and I are Platinum members of Crown and Anchor Society. We were in need of a vacation as it had been some time since we had been on a vacation together and thought it would be fun to take a cruise out of San Juan. We have sailed on Explorer of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas and now Adventure of the Seas, it is a very similar sister ship. We decided to take a cruise with a new port every day, but we

forgot to leave time to relax! This cruise was just what we needed. I require an electric scooter as I have a bad back and leg so will write this review from my point of view. I will be including pictures of the handicapped bathroom in our stateroom. As always, we have a travel agent to do our booking (Bill and Sammie of Above and Beyond Travel) and Bill makes my reservation for my electric scooter at Care Vacations. This is a wonderful service and there were several sizes of scooters available. The scooter allows me the freedom to come and go as I please. John and Jennifer can go snorkeling and etc., knowing I am safe. Also, RCI is there to assist getting on and off the ships at ports of call. We decided to have an overnight stay the day before the cruise in San Juan. We stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan. The cab ride from the airport to the hotel was $28.00. The cruise lines might want to rethink this hotel as it was quite run down for the price charged and it was not close to the RCI ship terminal. It is right across from the Carnival main ship terminal. We did have a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel and watched the ships come in which was quite nice. The hotel bellboy was extremely helpful and was from New York. The cab ride from the hotel to the ship was $20.00. There were cabs everywhere ready to help and we had a nice driver. Always ask the cab driver the fare before getting in. Embarkation: As Platinum members of Crown and Anchor Society we have priority boarding. I require wheelchair assistance and there was someone available to take me to the room. We were on deck 10, room #1244 JS handicapped in no time at all. The young woman that helped us took us all the way from the pier to the room. John gave her a nice tip! She did a great job of helping us. Cabin: We had a JS handicapped room and they are spacious. As you can see from the enclosed pictures of the bathroom there are plenty of railings to hold onto and you feel safe. There is a seat in the shower that you can pull down if you are not able to stand up and hand rails all around. The electric scooter was waiting all charged up and ready to go. This was the largest electric scooter I have ever rented from Care Vacations. I called it my “Harley” scooter! It was a Shoprider Deluxe with all the bells and whistles. The only problem I had was it was such a large scooter it was a tight fit thru the door but manageable. One of the tires was low on the scooter and we called the service desk and they called someone from maintenance and within five minutes someone was there to fix the problem. We were very impressed with the service provided. Our room attendant, Lyda, was always prompt in providing whatever we needed. We loved the little towel animals.

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Jun 10, 2007

Southern Caribbean

I must start out by saying that this was our 6th RCCL Cruise. We did 5, then took a Disney and Princess break and we are glad to be back! We have only done Princess in Alaska so it’s hard to compare, it was a more subdued cruise-not the party headquarters of the Caribbean. We did Disney, and that was awesome but specific. RCCL crew members from the top to the bottom are the best on the ocean (yes, even including Disney!) Our

room stewardess (Juliet!) was ALWAYS lurking in the hallways and it became a big joke because we were never going the right way when we ran into her and she had to turn us around. Half the time she was there to open the door to our room for us. I NEVER saw the room person on Princess. Our waiter (Negi alias James Bond) and his assistant Winston were awesome. After the first night, we didn’t need to remind him who liked pepper and who like ice tea and a Caesar salad for this one and no soup for this one. They had it down including little tricks with the toothpicks and forks and the events for the day following. We did all our dinners in the dining room. I miss the “entertainment” there every night but on the two nights they did something it was fun. I miss the little flags on Italian night and the flags of their home nations on the last night however the last night always leaves me with a little lump in my throat like I want to take everyone home with me! (Or better yet, stow away!) The promenade was awesome. Always something going on. The parade on the first night was fun, the 70’s party was a blast, the Captain's cocktail party was fun and just walking through on any given night there was music someplace with a little group of people getting into it. I got a little nuts a few times trying to get around the sale tables but a small thing in comparison. This was our second time on this class ship and I would rather not go downward unless absolutely necessary to get where we want to be. It is truly a beautiful piece of work in every nook and cranny. The solarium is awesome for quiet comfort and the main pool was awesome for music and activities (though less activities at the pool than in past cruises-maybe because of our itinerary?) The sports deck was awesome and there was almost always a basketball game going on or rock climbers or in line skaters. The miniature golf course was awesome in comparison to the joke that is on Princess’ Diamond! Mike the cruise director was the best one we’ve experienced on any cruise. He was funny to say the least and very entertaining and always willing to stop for a picture or a short conversation. The first show “Can’t Stop the Rock” was awesome. The second show – something about a velvet rope – had people walking out of it. The performers were awesome, voices spectacular, high energy, however, the show left this passenger wondering where they were coming from…nothing tied together, weak theme…or maybe I just didn’t get (along with everyone else I spoke to). Didn’t really dine in the Windjammer this time around. The two breakfasts we ate there were great with made to order omelets or eggs cooked to your liking. Staff was great at getting additional drinks or misc condiments you forgot. We seemed to eat mostly at the Café Promenade. Just because of our scheduling and NEED TO SHOP! Our plan was to tour, eat and then shop but we wanted to make sure we had time to shop so we toured, changed, shopped, ate and then went to early seating dinner. Not our brightest decision but seemed to work at the time. The pizza there was great along with the little sandwiches and cookies/desserts. No charge and, once again, friendly staff willing to get you refills on food and drink. The only meal thing that sort of sent me sideways was their “make your own pasta” in the main dining room for lunch. The waiters couldn’t tell us what the options were so he sent us to look at the table, which is right by the entrance. They had these sheets of paper on the table which the chefs said were for the waiters and had all the ingredients on them. I explained that there were others at the table who needed this info and he eventually let me take 2, then he hid them. So we went back to the table and ordered and the waiter didn’t take the ticket. What the heck? It also took a long time because in the process of figuring it all out, it got crowded. I am questioning getting “RCCL” transfers from the airport to the ship as we lost a good 45 minutes to 1 hour waiting for them to load us on the bus for the ship. I assumed they knew there was another plane coming, thus the delay, but we got on the bus with the same people we started with so I’m clueless. We got there so late, there was no line in the boarding area which was great cause it was a disaster last time in San Juan (but that was a different pier) and we missed a much anticipated lunch at the Windjammer (since we’ve been up since 4:30 a.m.), thus we were at the Promenade Café which was the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship. Now for our stops: ARUBA: Sail/Snorkeling/Beach Break. It was on a “Pelican” catamaran. It was very windy there but they say they are not in the hurricane path so I’ll take the wind over a hurricane any time. 1st snorkeling break was just OK, kind of got you primed for the big one, the Antilles German Freighter from WWII. AWESOME snorkeling there! Fish and of course the wreck which at times was about a foot from the surface. The whole thing is in about 70 feet of water and out in the middle of the water, not near a beach and remember the wind. Strong snorkel would enjoy, not strong snorkel should not attempt it. The location and wind made getting in and out of the boat tricky but doable. Open bar during the whole trip and the ending on Palm Beach with lunch made the whole experience awesome, including the crew. Shopping was pretty cool too. It was very close to the ship, truly walking distance. CURACO: Careful here! It depends upon which beach you choose. We took the “Fun Bus” and it took us to Blue Bay Resort. I heard someone say they asked the taxi for a particular beach but they ended up here. Somebody’s got something going on! I understand Kon Tiki (?) was wonderful. This place was pretty, you had a kid playground, chlorine pool you could use, a place for food and drinks, lounge chairs under the most beautiful palm trees and it was very picturesque, however, the water had rocks in it and if we hadn’t read it somewhere and wore our water socks, it could have been really uncomfortable! There was actual coral where we were suppose to be swimming and the beach was truly made of broken shells/rocks….very hard on the feet. They provided snorkeling equipment, which was probably the way to go but we were more interested in floating and no description anywhere mentioned snorkeling. HOWEVER, THE SHOPPING was awesome, very clean, very colorful and within walking distance (a little more than expected). They had regular stores and open air markets and the pontoon bridge is very cool when it’s in place. It wasn’t on our way over to the town (free ferry-short trip) but it was on the way back. Everyone is friendly…it was just a lovely experience. ST MAARTIN: We have been there three times, and every time we go to Orient Bay Beach. The beach is beautiful and it has waves and undertow just like the old days in New Jersey, only with beautiful white sand and beautiful clear water and I just can’t say enough about it. (Also great place to people watch as there is a nudist beach down the end and some of their vacationers spill over for a walk. Topless is permitted on the regular side). We do the Beach Rendezvous that includes the lunch (grilled Mahi Mahi is always our choice) because you are served on the beach so you don’t miss a minute of beauty and because they will drop you off in the shopping area on the way back to the ship which saves you 1) walking or 2) taxi fair. Not much on trinket shops/t-shirts, but loads of everything else. We always make a donation to the Del Sol place and the Jimmy Buffet place “Last Mango in Paradise”. ST THOMAS: By far, our favorite stop. It’s our fourth time. They have it all! This time we took a tour over to St. John’s to get to Trunk Bay. It’s always a toss up on this stop so we go back and forth, Megan’s Bay one trip, Trunk Bay the next. Don’t waste your time or money on the tram ride to the top, buy a postcard in town of the view from up there! We always save our shopping for this port just from familiarity. If you’re not into walking a bunch or taxi $8.00 for 2 each way, the Havensted Mall is within easy walking and it’s got all the big names. Note: Every darn time I go to those shopping talks on the ship, I say I am not going to buy one of those cute little books for $25.00 that will save you a whole bunch of money. I usually end up with a list of free stuff which some stores give you willingly but others want to talk to you about buying stuff (obviously) If you’re serious about shopping for a particular item, get a VIP card from the shopping talk people with your specific item and store on it. The book is fun if you just want to kill time and make shopping a scavenger hunt. Photos: are becoming more of a rip-off by the cruise. I thought it was Princess when I was on Princess but I’m back to RCCL, and they are doing the same thing. A special for your welcome aboard photo is $19.95 for the cute one with their framing which is cruise specific and you get a 5X7 of the same photo free. Big deal. You also have to buy 4 - 8X10’s to get their precious portfolio. Otherwise $19.95) I’m relying more and more on my own photography. They do have this cute new process though….it’s a kiosk where you swipe your card and all your pictures come up on a menu. You can look at them on the screen and ask them to be printed and then pick them up instead of looking through walls of pictures. I’m thinking this is the process of the future. Not a bad idea…it will save people stepping on my feet, but it will just be another line to stand in, but it will probably always be open, unlike the Photo Gallery itself. I have also noticed a difference in the bar staff which I didn’t catch until the end of the cruise. Silly me wasn’t looking at the ticket which already including the basic tip. So I was adding a little to each ticket. At least I had them following me around! But they are not as peppy as they used to be with the tray twirling etc. Some are, but most of them are not but still very cordial. Platinum Member stuff: The two cocktail parties that we were invited to, one for just returning passengers and one for Platinum and above were nice. The captain spoke at the returning one and free drinks were flowing and I think there were appetizers but we got there late. It was a question and answer session with the captain, pretty cool. The Platinum and above was actually a performance by the small musical group from the Promenade with free drinks and appetizers. Hey, if there are free drinks involved, it's cool. They gave us stuff on two nights on our bed which had the logo on it, a book of coupons which gets you into Johnny Rockets free, free wine tasting, a bunch of casino coupons and a buy one get one at the photo place. Bathrobes in your room for your use are a nice plus and our balcony was a minimal upgrade. The BEST part was a private part of the real dining room with Danish and coffee available until you disembark. No sitting on the floors for us! Couldn’t tell you about the disembarking thing cause we did that. I wandered out into the hall and it looked messy. We were seated at a dining table where all the other couples were Platinum and above and the captain stopped by the last night to say high on his way his speech. Your cruise card has it stated on there, the room stewards know it, the table dudes know it…..so their attention is kicked up a notch, another perk This was a really good itinerary on a really excellent ship….looking forward to hopping aboard one of the Freedom class ships. The news we heard on the ship (from the captain himself) was that he was moving to an RCCL ship in the Mediterranean and that Voyager is coming to Galveston, Texas soon.

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May 27, 2007

Southern Caribbean

My wife, Joanne, and I are Diamond level Crown and Anchor Society members (10+ cruises on Royal Caribbean). A couple of months back, she found a whale of a deal for this cruise on Orbitz. We had an outside D2 cabin 8648 with balcony including round trip air fare from Atlanta, for less money than a windowless inside cabin without air fare. We booked this cruise before somebody discovered the aberration. We had taken the identical cruise

in January 2004 and loved both the ship and itinerary. A Couple Of Pre-Cruise Tips I've posted a number of cruise reviews over the past few years to journal my travels and interact with fellow cruisers like you. Another cruiser made me aware that if you owned 100 or more shares of Royal Caribbean stock, the cruise line would credit your on-board account with $100 for every cruise you take. Royal Caribbean told me to send them a recent brokerage statement indicating ownership, my cruise date, ship name, reservation number and Crown and Anchor member numbers and they would take care of it. They did. I also have a Royal Caribbean VISA card and redeemed 25,000 points for an additional $250 in on-board credits. When we stepped on the ship, our account had a $350 credit for use in the shops, casino, spa, bars, shore excursions or anything else your sea pass card is used for. It's pretty close to free money. Sunday - San Juan Departure Our 8:30 a.m. flight from Atlanta arrived in San Juan at noon and we were aboard by 1:30 p.m. Check-in was fast and efficient. We had a small roll-on suitcase for essentials until the rest of our luggage caught up with us. You can't get to your cabin until 2 p.m. so the staff can get everything cleaned and ready. The ship keeps the heavy steel fire doors closed between the elevators and stair case areas and the cabin hallways. We headed for lunch in the Windjammer. Later, we met our cabin attendant, the delightful Agnes from Peru, who kept our cabin ship shape for the week. She met her husband on the ship and he is one of the chefs aboard. She introduced us to him later in the week and he told us he hoped we were enjoying all the food he and his fellow chefs were serving up all week. The scales do not lie. We were enjoying it to the extreme. A fellow cruise critic once wrote me and told me a great way to enjoy an evening departure from San Juan is to make dinner reservations in Portofino. We made reservations for 7:30 p.m. with an 8:00 p.m. sailing time. Portofino is on deck 11, starboard (right) side of the ship and there is a $20 per person, charge which is well worth it. It is a truly sublime experience to have a table for two at the window and watch the lights of the city and Morro Castle glide past while enjoying an exquisite dinner. I had a pasta appetizer, Caesar salad, made tableside (with anchovies) and veal wrapped in prosciutto with a wonderful cream sauce. The first night of any cruise is apparently the slowest night of the week in the premium restaurants. There were few tables occupied and the largest group was a table full of the ship's officers celebrating some occasion. Jeanette from the Philippines took wonderful care of us. After leaving port, the Adventure hung a left in the Atlantic to loop westward around the island and into the Caribbean for the week. Having gotten up at 4:15 a.m. to make our flight, we couldn't bring ourselves to partake of the ship's evening entertainment that was capped off by a big parade in the Royal Promenade at midnight. The Adventure has some wonderfull new bedding. White-on-white sheets with embroidered RCI logos and multiple fluffy pillows beckoned us to dreamland. Monday - Cruising South To Aruba In a futile exercise against the culinary temptations of the Adventure this week, we arose, donned our exercise clothes and headed to deck four, the Promenade Deck at about 9 a.m. to do some brisk orbits of the ship. Six trips around the Adventure, worked up a good appetite that was sated, up in the Windjammer. Note to self...we have 3,600 passengers, 1,200 crew onboard and walking on the promenade deck, there were exactly six other people besides us. A couple was playing shuffleboard portside and four people were similarly occupied on our starboard pass. There were hundreds of empty deck chairs and lounges for the taking if you wanted a private chunk of ship for your own. After breakfast, we grabbed our books and a couple of lounge chairs in the shade up at the pool deck on 11 and we had a front row seat for the Women's Hairy Chest Contest, or whatever complemented the excellent songs aired by the band, Mega 4. These musicians set a fine mood for a Caribbean cruise, and when we sailed with them on the Mariner two years ago, we bought two of their albums. At about 2:30 p.m., we headed to the Café Promenade on Deck 5 forward to grab a couple of coffees. A bridge crosses the Royal Promenade between the Promenade Café and the Duck and Dog Pub. Tucked underneath a stairway heading up to this bridge, is an 8x10 foot raised band platform. The Rosario Strings, (a violinist, bass fiddle player and guitar player) started filling the Promenade with Latin flavored tunes. These guys are an instrumental group, not singers. At the second number, all the surrounding Puerto Rican passengers joined in song to the tune. In a few minutes and a few songs later, the shops emptied of all of our Spanish speaking friends. At least 200 were singing the tunes played by the Rosario Strings. We sipped our Seattle's Best coffees and just relished the superb concert unfolding in front of us. I have no idea if this happens every Monday at 2:30 in the afternoon or if this was a special moment to be savored, but what a great cruise experience. Sailing south all day, we were escorted by numerous sea birds. They were white with a black stripe along the leading edge of their wings. I guess the ship's passage was churning up lunch for them as they would rise to a couple of hundred feet above the wave tops, tuck in their wings and dive like a bullet vertically into the Caribbean. A few seconds after they disappeared underwater, they would resurface with a smile on their beak, belch, flap their wings to get airborne and renew their search for another bite of lunch. At 5 p.m. we headed up to the Blue Moon on deck 14 four our Cruise Critics Meet and Mingle get together. The ship laid out a spread of hors d'ouvres and we could meet with about twenty-five fellow cruisers that we had been exchanging e-mails with prior to sailing. Sign up for one of these prior to any cruise you take. It's really fun to correspond with people you will be vacationing with. This was the ship's first of two formal nights. I used the Royal Caribbean web site, prior to our departure, to order a tux for the week. When we entered our cabin upon boarding, it was hanging in our closet. It came with everything as advertised, including two shirts, and it all fit. I was one of the few black tie clad passengers that evening, but our Puerto Rican young lady contingent dressed to the nines. We had ship-wide eye candy galore. There were hundreds of lovely young ladies aboard and they all dressed like J-Lo headed to the Grammies. This evening, we met our wonderful tablemates for the week along with Nareen our waiter from India, Paulo his assistant from Peru and Mahai our head waiter from Romania. I don't know why, but our last two cruises on a ship this size, the Mariner of the Seas, the main dining room cuisine was ordinary and I said as much in my reviews. The meals on Adventure were superb. Tuesday - Aruba - Das Boot With Cheese And A Side Of Murder At dinner the previous evening, Del Gado, one of our tablemates from San Juan, recounted that Aruba was THE place to buy your Dutch cheese on this cruise. I said, "I beg your pardon?" Apparently, everyone living in the Caribbean knows that the best place to load up on your Gouda cheese is Aruba. Folks from the Caribbean on this trip, will return home with Gouda and share it with their friends and families. Del Gado recounted that one of his fondest childhood memories was having a hot chocolate with a slice of Gouda cheese melting in it. What a quaint custom but I'll take mine on a Ritz cracker. We got off the ship with the plan of hiring a taxi for an island tour. Step out of the terminal building at the pier and it's difficult to avoid. We shared a taxi/van with another couple from St. Croix for a two-hour island tour for $15 each. Three years ago, one of the trademark tour stops was "Natural Arch" on Aruba's North shore. We learned, not on this trip. The Natural Arch was now Fallen Arch and it collapsed into the sea about a year and a half ago. We had a lunch back on Adventure. At 1:00 p.m. we exited the dockside terminal and walked about 50 feet across the pier to the waiting tender that would take us out to the Atlantis VI submarine tour, $89 per adult, $49 per child. The tender ignited its warp drive engines and flew us at 40 knots to Submarine Atlantis VI. First, the preceding submarine passengers got off onto our tender and then we boarded the Atlantis. Our sub driver bore a striking resemblance to the actor, Jurgen Prachow. You film buffs know what I'm talking about. We have been on submarine tours before in St. Thomas and Bermuda. This was the best. First of all, the water was extremely clear with well over 100 feet in visibility. We made a pass at the reef at a 30 foot depth. The reef was rich with all kinds of fish and coral and you could still see lots of colors at this depth. The Capitan then did a 180 degree turn so the passengers at our backs on the port side of the sub could enjoy the identical view we just had. We dropped down to 90 feet and made a pass at a ship that was sunk on purpose, years ago, to provide scuba divers with a neat site to dive. We were delightfully still dry and enjoyed our tour. The sub driver did another 180 so everyone had a view of the wreck. We then dropped to a 120-foot depth to make passes at another wreck. This one was sunk the old fashion way, by a drunken crew, gravity and Mother Nature. It appeared to once have been a three-masted cheese schooner out of Amsterdam. For the highlight of this mini-sub cruise, Jurgen put the sub gently on the sandy bottom at a depth of 150 feet. No fish were present at this depth. There is more food for the fish up at shallower depths where the sunlight is stronger. Good news. No popping rivets, bursting water pipes, or ASDIC pings by British destroyers about to drop depth charges on the intruding tourists. The sub, we were told, was certified to dive to 180 feet, so we had at least a comfortable 30 feet to go before crush depth was reached. Pass the Gouda and celebrate. Having done this before, and being a certified scuba diver, you know that the deeper you dive, only the blue wavelength of light penetrates. I was wearing a light pink polo shirt, which photographed as white on our digital camera without using the flash and just the natural light through, the portholes. With the flash at that depth, the shirt was its predictable pink. Gee Mr. Wizard, that's neat. When we surfaced and hopped back on the tender, it stayed in the area so we could watch and film Atlantis VI dive with its next load of passengers. If you want to take a different tour in Aruba, this one is a good choice. Dive, dive, dive! Prior to returning to Adventure, we celebrated our mini cruise with a couple of fluffy drinks at Carlos and Charlie's that is at the end of the pier in view of the ship. We asked our waitress where the best place to buy cheese was in the neighborhood. She told us to take the first left out of the bar into the mall and head to Planet Cheese. The store would sell you a ten-pound wheel of young Gouda cheese in a handled carry-on box for $19.95. We were one of the few couples returning to Adventure without cheese in tow. There were quite a few passengers each hauling four to six ten-pound boxes of Gouda aboard. Who would of thunk it? After dinner, we headed to Studio B on deck 3 for "Cool Art, Hot Ice". Be sure to see the ice show. It's great. You have to appreciate the incredible talent and athletic prowess of these performers. There were two more performances on Thursday, our second sea day. Wednesday - Curaçao - Andruw Jones, Proprietor After breakfast, we walked off the ship onto the Mega Pier. As in Aruba, we hooked up with a two-hour island tour for $20 per person. We had a nice, clean, air-conditioned mini-bus with driver and a tour guide. It would take days to cover the island but in two hours, we got a good flavor of the island and had numerous stops for photographs etc. One of the stops was the original Curaçao liquor factory. It was a quaint old mansion in town where no distilling took place any longer but was a purely delightful tourist destination. You could taste the Curaçao liquor in all its variations, orange, coffee, chocolate, rum raison, and of course purchase all you want. We didn't buy anything, but I noted a 750 ml bottle of the blue liquor was $9.95 at the factory and the same bottle was $16.95 in the shops in Willemstad. If you want Curaçao liquor...buy at the factory and save some bucks. One of the final stops was a little gift shop with a spectacular view of a cove where we actually snorkeled on our last cruise here. Overlooking the cove and everything within miles was the Atlanta Braves ballplayers' house of Andrew Jones. Local boy makes good. Andrew built himself a very nice hacienda three stories high and bigger than the Governor's house and second in size on Aruba only to the Oil Refinery. Our tour finished near the floating bridge to town. At the moment, the bridge was retracted to let ships into and out of the harbor. A couple of free ferries operate every few minutes so we boarded one to cross to the side of the harbor with the floating market, shops and restaurants. We strolled past the floating market and took some colorful pictures of the vendors selling fresh fish and produce to the locals. Around the corner we settled into an umbrella shaded table at the harbor-side for a bit of lunch. The bridge opened and closed twice during lunch with numerous ships coming and going. Your club sandwich will cost more than back on the Adventure, but what a wonderful view!When returning to the Adventure side of the harbor, Joanne remarked that, back in the States, OSHA would be having kittens over the hundreds of laws we and everyone were breaking as we hopped either on or off the floating bridge before it had stopped swinging into locked position. We started to really feel the peer pressure as we again returned to the Adventure without armloads of Dutch cheese. Many of our fellow travelers bought up the town's supply of this Caribbean delicacy. Late in the afternoon, Joanne had signed up for an acupuncture treatment on her back in the spa. She thought they were very professional and felt it helped. That evening as we cruised out of the area for a sea day to St. Maarten, you could look south towards Venezuela and see towering black clouds illuminated by lightning. Sadly, the storm didn't reach us. This may sound twisted, but a nighttime electrical storm at sea is not something to sleep through. You want to head up to a comfy lounge on a high deck and watch the horizon-to-horizon lightning show. We've seen a few spectacular ones in our travels and their not to be missed. Thursday - Cruising North To St. Maarten Sleep late and relax. We spent a leisurely day up at the pool reading and listening to Mega 4. The interesting thing on our two sea days on this cruise, was that I saw no other ships at all. We had the sea lanes traversing the Caribbean to ourselves. Had we hit an iceberg this week, we'd all be treading water for at least a day before another ship reached us. At one point during the day, I was looking over the ship's side and saw some very small fish, just two to four inches in size, sail out of the side of a swell and fly a few inches above the water's surface for ten or twelve feet before submerging. I've seen flying fish on previous cruises and they were bigger, 10 to 14 inches, and flew much further distances. I'm guessing these were baby flying fish just getting pushed out of the nest. Late in the afternoon we were down in the Royal Promenade shopping for a few gifts and the Rosario Strings struck up the band with the same reaction from hundreds of passengers as occurred on Monday. The crowd wouldn't let them leave without a couple of encores. These concerts were, honestly, two of the most wonderful hours spend in a great week aboard. When the set finished and the crowds moved off, I went up to one of the trio members and asked him if this happened every time they played? He smiled and told me "Pretty much. We know what they like." Clearly they did. Joanne had been going into the Perfume Shop on the Promenade twice a day for a spritz of something nice smelling. Today she broke down and legitimized her free aromas for the week by buying her perfume. Eau du Overpriced. I'm just saying, for what Joanne paid for five ounces of eau de cologne ($59), you could buy your weight in Absolute Vodka ($6.95/liter) on St. Maartens. Oh the humanity! This was our second formal night and it was great to see how everyone dressed up. Unfortunately this evening, we did not attend "Motown Live!" featuring Spectrum, the headliner show that evening in the Lyric Theater. All of our fellow cruisers we spoke to the next day said these guys put on an incredible show. We'll just have to rebook this cruise, but you people learn from our mistake and go to the show. After dinner, we attended the Crown and Anchor member reception in the Imperial Lounge on deck 5. There was music, food, friends and drink. It was a cozy reception where the crew welcomed everyone back to Royal Caribbean. Captain Nyseter hosted and talked a bit about the new "Genesis" class ship coming into service in a year or two. It will be a few feet longer than the Freedom class, however it will be two decks taller, 300 feet in width (almost double the Freedom), displace something like 240,000 tons or another 75% more than the Adventure. It will accommodate 6,000 passengers 2,000 crew and still have a draft of 29 feet like the existing super ships. This allows the ship to dock at all the current Caribbean ports that the Voyager and Freedom class ships visit today. I love the Voyager class of ships, I have not yet tried the Freedom class, but Genesis sounds disturbingly large for my taste. I will wait to read your reviews before I step up to that one. I sensed that Captain Nyseter, who is one of the most senior Royal Caribbean ship drivers, was hoping he be retiring before he had to deal with Genesis. This is my impression, not his words. Captain Nyseter did a great job hosting us for the week. Friday - St. Maarten - Damn Your Diamonds...Give Me Cheese!!! Prior to this cruise, we were hoping to catch a high-speed ferry to St. Barths from our stop in St. Maarten. We have never been to neighboring St. Barths which we have sailed past on previous cruises to the area. We were told by the folks on the Adventure that the high speed ferries to St. Barths weren't operating at the present time. New ferries were on order from France. As a flashback, I was at Tiffany's in NYC last August and told Joanne I saved us $8,500 by not buying her some exquisite diamond earrings I saw. Big mistake, wrong answer. Joanne has held that over my head for the past year. The best prices on jewelry in the Caribbean are on the Dutch side of St. Maarten and I now needed diamond earrings in the worst way. The diamond earring crusade was on and we were successful. Beautiful earrings were found at Diamonds International. They have like thirty-five locations in St. Maarten on Front Street and they are probably all owned by RCI. Great diamond earrings for many mucho thousands less than Tiffany's in New York. Joanne may have freed her demons, but I was feeling incredible pressure. This was our last Dutch West Indies stop of the week. I cracked from the stress and went into a local shop and asked the owner to show me Gouda. I resisted buying the 40 pound starter pack and settled for a three cheese micro sampler of young, flavored and aged Gouda. They were the conventional size you would find at the Kroger back home. I felt a wonderful catharsis and didn't see my modest purchase as a threat to our cholesterol levels. We returned to the ship walking tall with the pride that cheese ownership bestows. The increase in height also reflected the lightening of my wallet in Diamonds International. Dinner tonight was the chef's mega Ausgeschwein (Pig-out) Lobster was the signature dish but they were also serving up prime rib. Only one solution I could see. Nareen, see if you can scrounge up a surf-and-turf combo. What a great meal. The buttered lobster melted in your mouth and the prime rib was perfectly medium rare with horseradish sauce. A dollop of Lipitor garnished the feast. Joanne is a purist and just had four lobster tails. After dinner, there was a special reception we were invited to as Diamond Crown and Anchor Members. Up in the Blue Moon lounge on deck 14 we were entertained by the Rosario Strings and had a special thank you from Royal Caribbean for our loyalty. It was a very nice event and Royal Caribbean really tries to make their repeat customers feel special and appreciated. Shortly after leaving the pier, Captain Nyseter, got on the PA system to tell us we were returning to St. Maartin as there was a medical emergency and we needed to get a passenger to a hospital ashore. While not knowing any of the specifics, the next morning, the Captain announced that the passenger that we dropped off was doing much better. Saturday - St. Thomas - When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping We had diamonds, we had perfume, we had gift watches, we had Gouda. Why wasn't I on a booze cruise snorkel catamaran tour to Caneel Bay on St. John's? Because, St. Thomas is the Hong Kong of the West and there might be something in town we (read...Joanne) can't live without. I actually enjoy browsing around the shops and alleys of St. Thomas. There is a neat little shop downtown that overlooks the harbor and sells marine salvage items dating back 300 years or so. Ship's wheels, binnacles (or is it Rabbinicals?), antique maps, etc. Despite diamond earrings and perfume, I am forbidden to purchase a front porch mountable, five-inch diameter, troublesome neighbor, deck cannon. It was reasonably priced and was last used to clear enemy shipping in 1750 or there about. Joanne just lacks decorating vision for the man-cave. I'll look for one on eBay. Diamond Crown and Anchor Status This is reached after ten cruises and has some nice benefits. It gets you in the Concierge Club Room on deck 9. When you board, in addition to your Sea Pass card, you are also issued a special card to gain access to the Concierge Club Room. You also have access to the Concierge Club if you book one of the large suites, which are essentially double sized cabins. A continental breakfast was laid out every morning and there was an open bar and hot and cold hors d'ouvres each afternoon from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. DeDe was there to help you with reservations to ice shows, shore excursions or reservations to Portofino. It is really a nice service and DeDe is wonderful. There are other benefits that start after five cruises or sooner. These include special check-in lines, departure lounges, bath robes, private receptions, discount coupon books for all sorts of things on the ship, little Royal Caribbean gifts left in your cabin such as beach bags. One day, the cabin elves welcomed us back to the room with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. Because Royal Caribbean also owns Celebrity Cruise Line, I believe all the benefits you enjoy, gain you the same status on Celebrity. Don't quote me but ask your travel agent if this is so. It seems to me this is a relatively new enhancement to the program. Dining And Food Service Meals in the main dining room combined wonderful service with what I thought was high quality delicious food. Book your Portofino reservations early. When we finished our meal there on Sunday night, we immediately tried to make another reservation later in the week. Everything was booked save for a few late sittings. This was the first cruise in memory, where we were in the main seating dinner at 6:00 p.m. I think we like the second seating better. It just always seemed rushed to conclude your afternoon activities and get cleaned up for dinner. The shows and ship activities seem to flow better around the second seating. Our Cabin And The Ports As reported earlier, Agnes took great care of our cabin and us all week. We were on the port (left) side of the ship. In San Juan, this faced the airport south. In Aruba and Curaçao the view was the piers we were tied up to and the islands (northward). In St. Maarten and St. Thomas the opposite side of the ship had what I would call the preferred view overlooking the harbors to the west of the piers. The Adventure was the only ship in port in Aruba, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. We only had one other small ship in Curaçao with us. What this meant was that we weren't competing with other ships' passengers for taxis, excursions, shopping or restaurants for the week. This time of year, a number of cruise ships are repositioned to the summer Alaska routes from the Caribbean, so a winter cruise on the Adventure will have more company in port. Summary This review reflects my experience for the week. Ships like Adventure are so large and diverse that you need to appreciate that for every experience you have, you probably missed fifty other events happening elsewhere aboard or ashore. The only person that attends them all is your cruise director, which is a mystery. You could probably book a cabin for a year and not get bored. The week flies by, but by Sunday were ready to head home. There was a new service we tried. For $20 we could check our luggage with the airline at the pier after we cleared customs. I don't know if it's available with all airlines, but it worked with American. If your catching a flight, the check-in service is money well spent. We made it off the ship as efficiently as we checked on a week earlier. This was our second time on this cruise and we enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time. The ship, crew, entertainment and fellow passengers were all wonderful. We may do an Alaska cruise next year and my preference would be that at least half the ship's passengers hail from San Juan. This could be tough to arrange. If you enjoyed my review, drop me a line. If I can answer any questions you may have on an upcoming cruise, ask away. I look forward to hearing from you. Austin Kearney Dunwoody, GA [email protected]

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Apr 8, 2007

Southern Caribbean

My wife, 2 children, and I are first time cruisers and I’m going to write this review for the first time cruiser. I hope to capture all the things I wish I knew before I got on the ship for the benefit of others. We decided on the Adventure of the Seas because we currently live in Puerto Rico and the port is close by, the Adventure is thought to be the best boat from Puerto Rico (i.e. biggest, most amenities, and newer), and my kids

had their heart set on going ice skating. We are living down in Puerto Rico as expatriates temporarily. We have 2 daughters, aged 10 and 8. We sailed on April 8, on Easter day. We got a ride to the pier around 11:15 am and hauled our bags to the luggage pick up area. The porters look like they are from a moving company vs. uniformed. Doesn’t really matter, but it is just a little different than what I expected to see. We had 6 bags. The porters like to remind you that they work for tips. I flipped them a few dollars after they threw my bags into a container pile. We then got in line. We waited maybe 20 minutes and the line began to move. They checked our passports going into the building. I had them all lined up with photos exposed to keep things moving quickly. Lots of people had to fumble around for their ID’s to get in, but in all fairness it was not obvious exactly what we needed to get through the door until you got close. Inside the terminal, it got a little confusing. We had our Set Sail Pass all ready to go. I believe this expedited the process. The organization was a little confusing as to how they were coordinating the multiple lines, but we just went with the flow. It took us approximately 20 minutes to get through the line in the terminal and get our cards. We headed toward the ship and passed the Bacardi cart. We knocked 2 flavored shots back for free which set a nice tone to start our cruise. They took each of our photos for the embarking and disembarking process for the islands to store into the computer. Then it was up and away into the escalator and subsequent ramps. We headed to the 4th floor of the ship. They took our photo (first of many, many photos!) and we crossed the plank to board the ship. As we entered, a Canadian employee began to welcome us in Spanish. We had a good laugh because he really struggled in Spanish. We let him finish (it was a slow, deliberate welcoming) and we let him in on the joke when I responded “thank you very much!” We had a good laugh. While the ship is certainly big, I was surprised that it was not bigger. The beam was not as wide as I had imagined. I think I’ve read too many reviews as to how big the ship was and, since it is my first cruise, I imagined it to be bigger. First thing, we got our kids checked in with bracelets. We had no idea what they were for until later that night, but they are for identifying which muster station the minors are to report to if they are not with their parents in an emergency. The kids wore them for the whole cruise, as expected. We headed for the Promenade on the 5th floor. We began to familiarize ourselves with the ship a little. We purchased the soda passes for my wife and kids. It was $6 per day for adults and $4 per day for the kids. They tack on gratuity for a grand total of $112.70! You have to sign up for the whole week or skip it altogether. I passed. While my wife certainly is not, I’m cheap and couldn’t bear the thought of making a $50 investment in soda for the week for myself. We learned as we went through the week that the drink passes were not that great of a deal and we would pass on them the next time and pay as we go. We headed up to the buffet in the back of the boat for lunch. We sat in the very back (The Island Grille) and enjoyed the perched view over San Juan. It was a perspective of the city we had not previously enjoyed. You are not going to hear a lot of details about food in this review. The food was decent, but not super spectacular. We found the buffet adequate. The family ordered drinks to go with lunch (soda for my wife, water for my younger daughter, lemonade for my older one, and unsweetened iced tea for me). Now, for a quick lesson on drinks… Lemonade, fruit punch, water, coffee, and iced tea are included free of charge. So, now that I spent $112.70 on these soda cards, my kids drank mostly free stuff through a lot of the cruise. Go figure! I drink a lot of diet soda (don’t like the sweet drinks) and fell in love with the iced tea. Now we explored the ship. It was almost 2pm and we were able to get to our room. We booked the cheapest room we could get. We did this for 2 reasons. First, this is not the big break away from the cold vacation for us like it was for most of the folks from the states. It was a nice week break from home, but not my big trip of the year. Hitting the nice beaches was nice, but is not nearly as special for us as it is for the shivering Upstate New Yorkers or the folks freezing in Detroit. We were not going to go all out and spend a lot of money. Second, we are planning a trip to Europe and were testing out how well the kids could travel with us. The room was commensurate to a sleep car on a train and we wanted to see how the kids would react to it. They did surprisingly well. Net, we booked an inside room for the 4 of us. We actually could have paid a little less (~$60) by booking 2 separate inside rooms, but we did not want to be separated. We dropped off our carry-on bags, changed into bathing suits and headed for the deck. We dipped in the pool a little bit and milled around to get familiar with the ship. The captain informed us that there were over 1000 children on the boat this week. That is more than I ever saw posted and he was asking for help in managing the crowd. I never had any problems with kids running around (sure some did, but they are kids), but nothing out of control. The boat is pretty well designed for families and it looks inviting for bringing children. The sports area in the back of the ship has rollerblading, basketball court, rock climbing wall, and mini golf which we played that afternoon. We went back to find 5 of our 6 bags waiting outside of our room at approximately 5pm. That was a relief because I changed room reservations approximately 1 month prior to boarding. We had already received our documents with our old room number. They do not issue you new documents with a room change, so I was nervous that our bags would get lost for a while. I manually relabeled our bag tags so it was clear where they were supposed to go. Our room attendant, Alberto, was there and I informed him that there is still one more that we are expecting, but was glad that we got our stuff before dinner without a hitch. We began unpacking. I was very impressed with how well designed the room was. Four people with 6 big bags were well accommodated for. Every inch is designed for use. We put our passports, money, camera, and camcorder into the safe. Our 6th bag arrived shortly thereafter. We headed for our dinner at 6:30pm. We were stuck in the very back corner of the room. We met another family at our table from Virginia who were very nice and we had good interaction with, but the other seats were empty for the whole cruise. It was hard to see what was going on in the rest of the dining room, which was beautifully decorated. We later learned that we could have asked to be moved. Some experience cruisers informed us that this is the only job the Maitre ‘D has and you should take advantage of it. Ok. After dinner was the muster drill. That was an interesting experience. We all jammed into a small room and learned where we needed to report in case of an emergency. Then, it turned into us being a captive audience to buy all sorts of junk from them. This was just the beginning of the demonstration of what a captive audience we were. To be fair, I’m not the type of person that likes to be marketed to (e.g. I like to browse a shop before asking for help rather than be waited on), so this bothered me a little more than the average person. After the muster drill we continued to explore the ship. We found 90% of all the areas that night. We stayed up to watch the 10pm sail away even though the kids were tired. It was exciting to watch the fort go by from that vantage point as we swept into darkness and heard the motion of the sea. It was a very pretty setting. In conclusion, with all of the logistics on the first day, it certainly did not feel like a full day. It felt like less than half of a day. Wait! I can feel the ship moving. We thought the ship was so big you would not feel anything. It doesn’t move a lot, but you definitely know you are moving. The super queasy could have a problem, but my wife is a Dramamine Queen and she had no problem throughout the cruise. You will walk down the long hallways a little wobbly sometimes. I stayed up with my little one who wanted to see the parade on the Promenade deck. They rolled the barrier lines out. Shortly thereafter, singers and dancers along with dress up costume animals, and people on stilts came by. It was like a Disney-like theme park type parade. I was a little worried since I’ve taken my kids to Disney over a half dozen times and I definitely wanted to do something else on this vacation. I almost lost it when my 8 year old told me it looks like Disney Studios to her. In many ways, the cruise felt like a grown up Disney experience. That’s ok, but it was not what I expected. The next morning was a sea day and we went to the dining room for breakfast. The selections were more upscale, but there was less selection than the buffet upstairs. This was the last time we ate breakfast in the dining room. While the kids did well with the breakfast, the variety and simplicity of the buffet worked much better for them. In addition, the buffet was quicker so we could start our day earlier. First thing we did was go rollerblading. That was surprisingly decent and it was completely empty. The track did not look like much, but it was more than adequate to move around. After a nice little workout, we went to get changed into long pants (requirement) and hit the ice skating rink. It is a little rink, but my kids loved the ice skating since they don’t get much opportunity to do it. The rink was pretty empty since all of the pale white northerners were briskly roasting themselves at the pool for the first time in months. Needless to say, they all left a different color than how they started. It was pretty surreal to be in the Caribbean Sea on the way to Aruba while ice skating. After lunch, we hit the rock wall. My younger daughter made it to the top after some effective coaxing from the instructor and was so proud! She did better than her dad! We dressed up for formal night. I wore a suit and a tie which was par for the course. There were a few in the over 50 crowd who donned tuxedos, but this was more of an exception than the rule. Women wore various levels of dresses. They go around and take photos during dinner. Now, it is time for another learning rant. We found the formal nights to be more trouble than they were worth. I don’t aspire to dress up like this on vacation. When I get home from work, I can’t wait to get the formal dress off of me. Packing all of stuff, storing it in our tiny room, taking the time to change, fussing with the kids, etc. was simply not worth all of the hassle. Our tablemates were equally uncomfortable and we ditched the ties on the next formal night. Next time we cruise, we are just going to skip the formal nights altogether and save the suitcase space. The smart casual night, by the way, was completely indistinguishable from any other casual night. My wife used her smart casual outfit for the second formal night because she felt her cocktail dress was too fancy for the occasion. She went casual on the “smart casual” night which I honestly have no idea which night that was. After dinner, we went to the Lyric Theater for see a comedian do his routine. I don’t know his name, but he was the father from the “That’s so Raven” sitcom on the Disney Channel. He was very funny while being age appropriate for the kids. My wife and older daughter laughed and laughed. My younger daughter was upset because I think she was expecting to see the guy in his Disney Channel character. She felt ripped off since that was not what she expected. The kids were tired and they all went to bed and I went to the late night, adult comedy by myself. I think his name was John Wise. He was pretty funny, but not as polished as the previous performer. Obviously, some of his stuff was a bit edgier and I don’t take any of that kind of stuff seriously, but some people had a mixed reaction to it. Tuesday, we arrive in Aruba. I woke up at 6:30 am while the rest of the bums slept in, as usual. I jogged around the track on deck 12 (5 laps is a mile) while watching Aruba get closer and closer. We docked in Oranjestad right at 8 am, as scheduled. I was expecting to see a dry island, but I was surprised at how flat Aruba was. I woke the family and we ate breakfast while the hordes disembarked. We went straight down to the 1st floor after eating with our backpacks. Getting off the boat was a breeze and I was pleasantly surprised given the size of the ship. You need identification and your Sail Pass Card. They run your card to track that you are now off the boat. You need identification to get back into the port for the Aruban authorities. The ship personnel said that this is an American requirement that we insist the islands follow. As it turns out, Aruba was the only place that checked for photo identification. Everyone else just checked to see that you had a Sail Pass Card. We brought multiple copies of our passports. We did not want to bring our actual passports with us to the beach and this was acceptable. We did a little light kiosk shopping. The people of Aruba are very nice and hospitable. We crossed the street and got on the 10A bus to the “hotels.” My wife was in Aruba over a decade ago and she remembered the beautiful beach she was at. We deducted it was Palm Beach. For $9.20 roundtrip for the 4 of us, we took off for Palm Beach. We got there, walked through one of the big hotels to the shore and were disappointed. My wife realized that this was not the beach she remembered. I saw how commercial it was and knew this was not where I wanted to spend my afternoon. We walked south down the beach until we hit a pier. We got the kids a bottle of water and were solicited politely for a timeshare. We kindly refused and began to chat with the gentleman about how crowded the beach was and we wanted to know how far Eagle Beach was. He told me he likes Eagle Beach better also and that is where the locals go. He pointed how to get the bus and we hit the road again. Eagle Beach is wider, quieter, and has far fewer people. It was, however, extremely windy. We located a bunch of loungers with fixed straw roofed canopies and sat down. I looked around to see if there was anyone to pay for it, but there was no one I could identify. I figured if there was money to be paid, they would find me. It was so windy; the back of the lounger swung and nailed me in the back of the head while I was sitting up. Ouch. A gentleman did approach me, but informed me that the furniture was for the little hotel across the street. I had no idea and informed him I’d move without any problem. He stopped me and simply asked that if his hotel patrons begin to fill up the beach, then would we kindly move for them. How nice is that?! That was my experience of Aruba. He didn’t even charge me anything. We headed back for lunch on the boat and then went shopping again. I got an Amstel (hard to get anywhere) and we picked up a few souvenirs. We spent only $25 the whole day. One other thing surprised me about Aruba. My whole family is fluent in English and Spanish. Nearly everyone in Aruba was more comfortable communicating with us in Spanish than English. While everyone speaks English well, that was a big surprise. I was not expecting to speak Spanish in Aruba. We went back to the ship for dinner. We had the ice show tickets for that night at 9 pm. It didn’t feel right to be in the port at Aruba until 1am, but sitting on the boat watching a show. From a logistics standpoint, I would have rather been walking Oranjestad and seen the ice show another day. That felt a little like a lost opportunity, but late nights on the town with the kids were not necessarily in the cards anyway. Wednesday, we arrive in Curacao. We got a late start after breakfast again. We never tried to be the first off the ship. Curacao is an island that I had the most trouble investigating. I soon determined that information was not easily available because the Dutch have been wisely keeping it to themselves. The island is beautiful. It is much bigger than Aruba. The one thing I did know about Curacao is that this is the place to dive or snorkel. We did not want to do any of the foo-foo excursions from the ship. It was important to me to get lost ourselves. We got a taxi to Caracas Bay where there is a sunken tugboat that is close to the shore and good for snorkeling. It cost $25 to get there and we arranged to be picked up at 1:30 by Alvin. There was a huge boat for snorkeling off the shore with over 50 homo-sapiens swimming over the tugboat site that were from our ship. That was exactly what I did not want. I’m sure with that many people, it has to affect the marine life you’d see. There was a little shop at the shore that we were not expecting, but a young Dutch gentleman named David came out and offered us a snorkel tour for an hour to 90 minutes. He gave us wetsuits and offered snorkel gear, but we brought our own. I sat down with my family with a book and gave a quick, 5 minute review of the different sea lift he was going to show us. Again, he spoke English and Spanish to us (he wanted to practice). Curacao was like Aruba in that regard and we were speaking a lot of Spanish. David took us out and we first headed under the pier there. He dove down up to 35 feet in some places and picked up marine life and brought it to us. I quickly realized that he knows these waters well and knows where to find all of this stuff. The first item was a “Donkey Dung Sea cucumber.” I held it while he snapped a photograph with the underwater camera he provided for us. My kids loved it! Sea urchins and wild starfish that I’ve never seen were incredible. David showed us a huge variety of coral and he was very knowledgeable. He dragged our kids on a floatation device when they got tired and was fantastic. By the time we were done at the pier, all of the people with their fins were back on the boat and sped away and it was time for us to go to the tugboat. We had it all to ourselves. We saw huge, colorful fish. David pulled out a banana and fed them. Wow! What a great experience! We had an extra half hour and had a drink at the bar, which was included with the tour, and I chatted with Jerry. I learned that they took over this little shop (www.downtowndiving.com) months earlier. Jerry, who was originally from Aruba, spent time explaining Curacao at a level that I was unable to through my own research. Curacao is very Dutch and it shows. I saw a lot of Dutch people vs. Americans like Aruba. It was a European sideshow. I mentioned that I missed an opportunity to buy Gouda cheese in Aruba, and he asked Alvin, the taxi driver, to bring me to Albert Heijn to buy some. He said it is a great place to go. Alvin stopped there on his way and we went Dutch supermarket shopping. I thought I was in the Netherlands. I wanted to make sure “oud” meant “aged” and I asked a pretty, bright blonde Dutch girl if she could help me. She couldn’t find the word in English, so we figured it out together. We got back to the ship with a 10 lb. wheel of Gouda ($100 worth of cheese for $29. Please don’t ask what I’m going to do with all of that cheese.). I put it in the refrigerator and we headed back out to town. Willemstad, the port town, is gorgeous. Pretty pastel colors with Dutch façade. The layout of the town had a European feel too. We walked around the Otrabanda side of the city and picked up souvenirs. There is a ferry that shuttles you to the other side, named Punda which is even more picturesque. We were worried about the time since we needed to be back on the ship by 4:30 pm and decided not to go to Punda. We did not want to risk missing the ship by some inefficiency of the ferry schedule although it looked to me like it went back and forth every 10 minutes. This is our next learning that we experienced. The captain told us to be back on the ship by 4:30 for a 5:00 pm sailing. They do really leave people behind if you are late. However, they do know who is not yet back on the ship. They start announcing people’s names who are late and attempt to find them. They also can see a ½ mile inland from the top of the ship and keep an eye for people because they really don’t want to leave people behind. Now, you would be a fool to tempt fate at 5:00 pm, but we realized that there was no reason to be ultraconservative and be back on the ship by 4:00 pm. We could have easily taken our full 4:30 pm embarkation time and we would have gone to Punda with that extra 30 minutes. Rookie mistake… Went spent $55 on cab, $60 for snorkeling, and $15 for the underwater camera. It was cheaper than the cruise excursion and I’m sure it was far superior in quality. I felt great supporting this little local business off the cruise ship tourist-trap path. I felt like I got a little slice of Curacao that way. This was our favorite experience on our entire cruise and we want to come back to Curacao for a week. Curacao is big, so renting a car is probably a better option if you want to move around a little more than we did. Back on the ship, we ate dinner. We went to a show called Velvet Rope. The kids had a lot of sun and with the lights dimmed down, they were dragging. They walked out. I’d like to think it did not have something to do with the fact that the show was incoherent and the transitions were rough. I had no idea what the freak show in really bad costumes was all about. I got back to my room and read a description and at least figured out what they were trying to do. Yes, I really thought it was that bad. And, I’m a really tolerant person. I’ve never walked out on a movie or show because I did not like it. I wandered the ship that night. I tried to find all of the little corners I had not seen before. The observation point at the front of the ship on the 11th deck is cool. You can see them driving the ship. But, the absolute best, not to be missed experience, is to go to the 4th level. Go outside and head toward the front of the ship until you have to go up a flight of stairs. Continue until you reach the bow of the ship and get on the helicopter pad. If you do this on a sea day at night, you will experience the starriest night of your life. It is absolutely gorgeous. I did this every night of the cruise from that point and took my family. It is no wonder that 1000’s of years ago, people charted the stars. They were able to see them much better than we ever could with the naked eye. Don’t miss it!!! It is worth the theme park admission. Thursday, the next sea day, was more of the same. This time I got to the top of the rock wall twice. A boat like the Adventure is handy for sea days. I’m not sure what we would have done without all of those amenities. Sitting at the pool is not a big deal for us. Having said that, there were so many things on the Adventure, we never got to experience everything that we wanted to. Formal night was dressed down. My kids did amazingly well with the dinner (meaning they were very happy). I was not happy that my 8 year old ate chicken nuggets and French fries every night, but she was (and we were on vacation, so indulge). Both found food they really liked and ordered it time and time again. Reynaldo (from the Philippines) was our waiter for the last 6 days and took good care of us. Dwayne (from Jamaica) was fantastic. He took time to show my 8 year old some amazing tricks with forks and toothpicks. He really made my girls feel special. Moshen was our headwaiter from Tunisia. He was pleasant and stopped by to say hi. Honestly, I have no idea what his job was other than chit chat. We were supposed to tip him for his services, and I still don’t know what that was for. That is something we never learned on this trip. That night we went to another show. This one was music based. It was interesting, but we, again, were tired. This time we all stepped out early. Friday, we arrived at St. Maarten. We grabbed a cab and went to Orient Beach on the French side. Everything was Dutch, so now we wanted to go French. For $25 we got dropped off at the Bikini Beach section of the beach. We wandered a little bit looking for a place to drop our stuff down. We saw some nice loungers and walked over to Kakao Beach. The loungers (2) and umbrella were $25 for the front row and $20 anywhere behind. We got the front row. We got there early. Before it gets crowded the people from Club Orient, the nude part of the beach, like to wander up the shore fully nude. We had to have a little chat with our girls to explain after they were a little taken back. We made no big deal out of it, so they did the same. After 9:30 am, we did not see any more wanderers. All of these folks are well over 50 years old. There were some topless women on the beach. This comprised itself of less than 5% of the women and they were primarily French women over 50. We were surprised that this was the first place that we had seen any topless women since Aruba and Curacao are also European influenced islands. The beach was gorgeous. My wife’s favorite. We headed back to Phillipsburg to do some shopping. Alain was our driver and he liked to talk so we had some fun. I sat in the front seat with him. He told us about the island, the people, what it is like to live there, the relationship with the French, European investment on the island, etc. and it was all very interesting. Shopping in St. Maarten was pretty good. Prices seem to be better than any of the other islands. We were not “jonesing” jewelry or anything. Shopping is not my idea of a vacation endeavor, but we just want a couple simple memories and I wanted to sample the town. From there, we walked back to the boat. It was a 15 minutes walk. Another lesson learned was that the water taxi is a cute idea, but if you are not averse to walking, you’ll probably get into town faster by foot. We should have rented a car in St. Maarten. They were cheap. Our tablemates got one for $55 and roamed the island while we spent $45 on taxi fare and went to 2 places. Next time I’ll rent a car. The other thing we would do differently is eat at the second seating. We noticed that the early dinner impeded on a lot of things. Sail away was missed, sunsets were missed, and hurrying back to the port was a hassle with dinner right on the heels at 6:00 pm. Even with the kids, we could snack to get us to dinner. We found we were not even hungry at 6:00 pm. To think that our kids would be too hungry to eat at 8:30 pm on a cruise ship is ridiculous. There is food everywhere! Woof! Saturday, we arrived in St. Thomas. We had breakfast at the buffet. It was crazy up there because the dining room was not serving breakfast. It was hard to get a place to sit. The dining room was being used for customs/immigration. We needed to deal with customs/immigration since we are hitting a US port again. We were shocked at how efficient they have this down. We showed them our identification, they marked our passes and we are done. If you don’t do this, they won’t let you off the ship. They also scan your card, so they have any accounting for everyone. I saw a lady trying to convince security that she did it, but she got sent back because she did not have the marking on her card. They need everyone so they can “clear” the ship. Once off into St. Thomas, we wife decided to change our plans and go to Magen’s Bay. We hop onto an open air taxi. The taxi drivers are loud, rough, and aggressive. You pile into their taxi until it is full and off they go. It is $8 per person to Magen’s Bay including kids and it is regulated by the government. There is no other way to get their other than renting you own car. This is St. Thomas’ solution to provide employment to the island. There are a lot of taxi drivers and they wait in a long line for their turn to fill their taxi. They won’t go until their cab is full. I figure they probably take 3 roundtrips a day to make a living and that is it. The rest of the time, they are off or are waiting in line for their turn. Once we got into the taxi, we’re off on our 4 mile $32 ride when the taxi driver behind us accosts our taxi driver. They have a dispute over whose passengers we were supposed to be. So, we get thrown out of the cab in the middle of a hairpin turn going over the mountain and get in the other taxi. The new driver is mad so he is flying down the mountain at high speeds. I was inches away from getting gashed by the foliage in the OPEN AIR taxi. We were a little scared, and I drive everyday in Puerto Rico! Magen’s Bay was beautiful. We laid out our towels under a sea grape tree for shade and enjoyed the beautiful tranquil beach. There were no motorized sports there, which made it peaceful. We took another taxi back for another $32 dollars to the pier (no other choice) and did a little light shopping before getting back on the ship. I will either take the bus or rent a car the next time I’m in St. Thomas. I know they drive on the left side of the road and the bus is a little bit of a walk, but I’m not willing to support that taxi business again. That left a bad taste in my mouth about St. Thomas, but we had a great time at the beach. That night was primarily for goodbyes. We tipped everyone and packed our bags. They picked it all up from the hallway at around 1:30 am. We did see the end of another comedian show which was good. The stars were not nearly as bright since we were not far from Puerto Rico and the light pollution has a big impact on the visibility. Oh well. They number you from 1 to 10 based upon your need to get off the ship. You get this on your final night. The folks with early flights are typically first. For some reason we had a number 2 on our departure schedule. I expected to be number 10 since we didn’t need to get on any flight. Sunday morning, we got up at 7 am. We needed to shower and pack our carry-on bags since our bags were already taken. We got to the buffet by 8 am and it was crazy as well. In retrospect, we should have taken the advice we got and woken up later and gone up to the buffet at 8:30 am. After eating, we found ourselves with nothing to do and we were ready to get off. We walked to front of the ship and down the stairs to the 4th floor and got right off the ship. We handed in our customs card with no problem. They directed us to our designated bag area (Yellow 1) and we got our bags and hit the street. We were picked up and headed for home. Some final thoughts: 1) There were over a 1000 kids on the ship due to the Easter holiday. The boat is designed for families. We sat with an older couple during lunch that made a comment that they did not realize there would be so many kids. If you don’t want to be around children, for whatever reason, choose a more upscale cruise line like Celebrity. Otherwise, go with it. I did not observe anything inappropriate as far as people being inconvenienced by children. I did observe some uptight adults with extremely low thresholds of patience. 2) Yes, everything is in English and Spanish. You need to understand that you are traveling away from the mainland between North and South America. A good percentage of the boat had Spanish speakers, but nearly everyone was bilingual (except the Americans). I am sophisticated enough in Spanish to realize that a great deal of the Spanish I heard was not Puerto Rican. Americans travel down to Puerto Rico to get on the boat, while some South and Central Americans travel up to Puerto Rico to get on the boat. Both languages are appropriate for the audience. If you want to be only with “your kind” and only hear English, then you shouldn’t leave the mainland US for travel. If you are going to travel to Puerto Rico and leave out of that port, you should EXPECT to hear Spanish being spoken (it is the primary language of the island). 3) I did notice that some things were not kid friendly. We did our best to respect all of the adult only aspects of the ship, but there was a moment or two where I just wanted to say to heck with it. The solarium area is a walk through area to get access to the front of the ship. If the adults don’t want kids walking through, then that is next to impossible. There are 2 large adult only Jacuzzis in the main pool area and 2 smaller ones for general use. The adult Jacuzzis are empty while the kids can’t get room. I noticed some well behaved kids in the adult Jacuzzi which should have been no problem (unless they acted up), but this becomes an accommodation problem when you want to use a Jacuzzi with your kids, but can’t get use of one. 4) I did not see any of the Puerto Rican dynamic I hear about in other reviews. I know the Puerto Rican culture well. While people are not rude, they are not known to be considerate in general. It is just not the way the culture is built. They are, however, very warm and friendly. Interaction is not to be avoided through rules. Americans on the other hand are considerate, but can be rude. Rules are important and less value is placed on personal interaction. (People don’t need to talk to each other if everyone already knows what they are supposed to do). I did witness adequate consideration for others and thought everyone got along just fine. I think the intolerant complainers who expect everything to be like home are the ones with the big problem on this issue. The cultures are different. Just embrace it as an interesting difference. 5) The drinks are a little interesting on the ship. If you are trying to order something that is included (lemonade, iced tea, etc.), it is available in a few areas of the ship, but not in any of the bar areas across the ship. They don’t make it easy. You feel like the staff wants nothing to do with you if you do not want to buy a drink from them in the way that they send you away. That treatment was consistent enough for me to determine it was deliberate. Having said that, it is not that hard to get what you want once you know where to go. I did not attempt to bring any water, soda, etc. onboard and I really did not see reason for it. I did see a person getting hassled by Security for having Kirkland water bottles on the deck while they are trying to sell water. I just didn’t think it would be worth the effort of lugging all of that onboard and I’m glad I did not. You can easily buy $1 water bottles on the islands and get water downstairs. Alcohol may be a different matter, but it is not my objective to drink a lot in front of my kids. 6) It was a challenge to tackle an island on a 8 am to 5 pm schedule. Aruba’s 1 am sailing was a noticeably nice exception. I’m guessing some of the concern is pulling in and out of some of the ports without visual light (for safety reasons). I don’t know, but it would be a big selling point if they could leave the ports later in the evening. 7) I was not able to comment much on the Adventure Ocean program because my kids did not want to do it. We signed them up and it looked interesting, but we couldn’t get the kids to do it. We had a good experience on the cruise. The kids loved it. I did not like the captive audience aspect of cruising or the incessant marketing that goes on, but it is a good way to sample a bunch of islands. I don’t think I will be a habitual cruiser like some die-hards, but I do think I’d take another to see a new set of islands before I leave the Caribbean. I like to savor my destinations and that is something that is hard to do on a cruise.

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By Paul_CR

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Jan 21, 2007

Southern Caribbean

This was my first cruise, my wife’s second (she went with her girlfriends last year). We had a fabulous time. For a first time cruiser, I was impressed. After we got to San Juan and pulled up to the ship, I was amazed how large it was. We ponied up for a balcony stateroom and were glad we did. The view during the entire cruise was spectacular. We got room service for breakfast and ate out on the balcony several times. I was glad

the first day was at sea- got a chance to relax at the pool. I really loved the Solarium (adult only pool), nice and quiet with the bar service close by! The weather was great all week- 85 degrees and sunny. Our first stop was Aruba. We had been there before for a week a few years ago, so we knew what we wanted to do. My wife went shopping in the morning (her favorite activity), while I went fishing. We then got a taxi to Palm Beach for the afternoon. The chair/shade spot charge was a little pricey ($28) but, hey, we’re on vacation. We then got back for the sunset Catamaran cruise. This was great! The open bar sure helped. We did the second seating for dinner (8:30), and our waiter, Siddesh, was great. The food was very good. Next day was Curacao, not nearly as developed as Aruba. Wanted to go to Porto Mari beach, but the taxi drivers wanted $80 round trip ! So we opted for Kon Tiki beach- a nice little beach club- food and drink were available with a nominal fee to get in and use their chairs. The next day was at sea. As usual, I hung out at the adult pool (rum runners were great). My wife did bingo and some small shows. If you only do one show, go to the ice show. I am not a big show person, but this show was spectacular. Amazing what they could do on a small ice rink. Next day was St Martin. We rented a small jeep for the day, which we later nickname the Rattrap. It seemed like almost all the rental cars are really beat-up, but, hey, it got us where we wanted to go. We drove up to Marigot, the French capitol, and stopped at a little French pasty shop (the Creperie) for a snack. Good stuff there. There was some shopping there, but mostly high end inside and an outdoor bazaar. We headed out for Orient beach and quickly got to appreciate how crazy the drivers are getting there. Your head always had to be on a swivel, looking out for the motorcycles and scooters passing down the center lane. Orient beach was nice, very clear water. We just hung out and enjoyed the scenery. Yes, it is a topless beach, but mostly 55+ European ladies, so nothing to get excited about. We went for a walk on the beach, and figured out where the nude beach was when a middle aged guy turned around. We nick named him ‘Half-mast Harry’. On the way back to the pier, we twice had to drive around wild goats. This drive was a great experience. We went shopping at the shops across from the pier. My wife found some good bargains on jewelry and linens, me with rum. If you are spending a decent amount for something, always try to bargain better price, especially if you are paying with cash. Next stop was St Thomas. I setup a day of sailing with Jester Sailing adventures (http://www.sailjester.com). This was the highlight of our trip. We took a taxi to the Point Pleasant resort and met up with Captain Jim at the bar at the bottom of the hill. He takes, at the most, 3 couples for a day sail. This day there was just us and another couple. He has a beautiful 38 ft sailboat. See the website for details. We sailed from Water Bay to St Johns and dropped anchor at Honeymoon beach, which can only be reached by boat or hiking in. I did some snorkeling while my wife laid out on the front of the boat. I swam onto the beach, softest sand I have every walked on! Jim then put together a great lunch (he used to be in the restaurant business). The bar was always open (try his Jester juice rum drink). We then sailed back to St Thomas (we were out for 6 hrs). We had to hustle to get back to the ship by 5:00. We made it with 5 minutes to spare! The traffic on Saturday is bad. Arrange at the bar to have a taxi waiting for you when you get back. Overall, the best vacation I have ever been on! The only issue, now, is where are we going next year !

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Jan 21, 2007

Southern Caribbean

This was my first cruise, my wife’s second (she went with her girlfriends last year). We had a fabulous time. For a first time cruiser, I was impressed. After we got to San Juan and pulled up to the ship, I was amazed how large it was. We ponyed up for a balcony stateroom and were glad we did. The view during the entire cruise was spectacular. We got room service for breakfast and ate out on the balcony several times. I was glad

the first day was at sea- got a chance to relax at the pool. I really loved the Solarium (adult only pool), nice and quiet with the bar service close by! The weather was great all week- 85 degrees and sunny. Our first stop was Aruba. We had been there before for a week a few years ago, so we knew what we wanted to do. My wife went shopping in the morning (her favorite activity), while I went fishing. We then got a taxi to Palm Beach for the afternoon. The chair/shade spot charge was a little pricey ($28) but, hey, we’re on vacation. We then got back for the sunset Catamaran cruise. This was great! The open bar sure helped. We did the second seating for dinner (8:30), and our waiter, Siddesh, was great. The food was very good. Next day was Curacao, not nearly as developed as Aruba. Wanted to go to Porto Mari beach, but the taxi drivers wanted $80 round trip ! So we opted for Kon Tiki beach- a nice little beach club- food and drink were available with a nominal fee to get in and use their chairs. The next day was at sea. As usual, I hung out at the adult pool (rum runners were great). My wife did bingo and some small shows. If you only do one show, go to the ice show. I am not a big show person, but this show was spectacular. Amazing what they could do on a small ice rink. Next day was St Martin. We rented a small jeep for the day, which we later nickname the Rattrap. It seemed like almost all the rental cars are really beat-up, but, hey, it got us where we wanted to go. We drove up to Marigot, the French capitol, and stopped at a little French pasty shop (the Creperie) for a snack. Good stuff there. There was some shopping there, but mostly high end inside and an outdoor bazaar. We headed out for Orient beach and quickly got to appreciate how crazy the drivers are getting there. Your head always had to be on a swivel, looking out for the motorcycles and scooters passing down the center lane. Orient beach was nice, very clear water. We just hung out and enjoyed the scenery. Yes, it is a topless beach, but mostly 55+ European ladies, so nothing to get excited about. We went for a walk on the beach, and figured out where the nude beach was when a middle aged guy turned around. We nick named him ‘Half-mast Harry’. On the way back to the pier, we twice had to drive around wild goats. This drive was a great experience. We went shopping at the shops across from the pier. My wife found some good bargains on jewelry and linens, me with rum. If you are spending a decent amount for something, always try to bargain better price, especially if you are paying with cash. Next stop was St Thomas. I setup a day of sailing with Jester Sailing adventures (http://www.sailjester.com). This was the highlight of our trip. We took a taxi to the Point Pleasant resort and met up with Captain Jim at the bar at the bottom of the hill. He takes, at the most, 3 couples for a day sail. This day there was just us and another couple. He has a beautiful 38 ft sailboat. See the website for details. We sailed from Water Bay to St Johns and dropped anchor at Honeymoon beach, which can only be reached by boat or hiking in. I did some snorkeling while my wife laid out on the front of the boat. I swam onto the beach, softest sand I have every walked on! Jim then put together a great lunch (he used to be in the restaurant business). The bar was always open (try his Jester juice rum drink). We then sailed back to St Thomas (we were out for 6 hrs). We had to hustle to get back to the ship by 5:00. We made it with 5 minutes to spare! The traffic on Saturday is bad. Arrange at the bar to have a taxi waiting for you when you get back. Overall, the best vacation I have ever been on! The only issue, now, is where are we going next year !

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Dec 23, 2006

Southern Caribbean

My husband and I just completed our second cruise with Royal Caribbean (RCCL) and we were not disappointed. Christmas time is a great time to cruise as the temperatures are a little lower and you can escape the craziness of the holidays. On the downside, the ship is filled to capacity and the ports are busy with all of the Christmas travelers staying on the islands. Also, if you port on Christmas day, the stores are closed and there

are limited hours on Boxing Day. We booked our airfare through RCCL and although it was considerably cheaper than if we had booked it ourselves, the flight was quite long and a bit of a milk run. It took us 13.5 hrs to get to Puerto Rico from Calgary Canada. In hindsight, I would probably book my own flight that was more direct, however, if you don't mind a long flight the savings are worth it. By booking our flight with RCCL our transfers were included to the ship. A very nice touch as we didn't have to worry about our luggage. If you want, you can even put your luggage on the bus and then grab a taxi or rent a car for the day so that you can see San Juan. The ship doesn't leave until 10pm so you have lots of time to explore. Like all cruise ships, your luggage is delivered to you later in the evening. Make sure you take items with you on the ship so that you can clean up and dress for dinner as your luggage will likely not be available before then. In case you haven't flown in a while, there are some serious restrictions on bringing liquid and gel products onto the aircraft. I would recommend packing a small bag with your toiletries and change of clothing and put it in your suitcase (and they will actually take it from you at the airport). This way you can just grab that bag when you land in San Juan and not have to dig through your suitcase to find items before handing your luggage over to the ship. When leaving San Juan, the ship offers an airport check-in service for $10 per person. If you chose this option, you actually check your luggage in at the airline counter at the cruise dock and get your boarding pass. This will avoid the lineups at the airport to check-in. Although they moved fast, there were so many people there at once that it is a little overwhelming. We'll definitely doing the boarding from the ship option next time. About the ship, all I can say is that it is beautiful and well maintained. They have an Italian restaurant, Portofino, on the ship that costs $20 per person to eat there. We just loved the food and service there and found the extra cost to be worth it. If you do want to eat there, be sure to make your reservations as soon as you get on the ship as it fills up quickly, especially if you have a group larger than 4. There are two formal nights on the cruise. For you first time cruisers, this actually means formal dress. Men wear tuxes and women wear gowns. Now with that said, I did see some people in very casual clothing so they will let you in the dinning room but you will stick out!! There's not much to say about the food. There is a wide selection at the buffet for breakfast and lunch (didn't eat there for dinner) but the choices are mostly the same from one day to the next. The first time I cruised, I took a little of everything and after a few days I got sick of eating the same food. There are no spectacular dishes served at the buffet so if you are thinking that you'll get lots of seafood and exotic fruit you'll be disappointed. The ports on this cruise are wonderful. All of the islands are very small and you can see the entire island in a day. What's nice about that is the excursions tend to be shorter in length and then you still have time to see the town and shop. ARUBA - very desert like place with tons of very neat cactus. We did the ATV Mania tour and it was fabulous. You get to drive your own ATV (automatic transmission) from one end of Aruba to the other. You do take them onto the highway and there is some tricky terrain near the end. It is a suitable tour for a first-timer or limited ATV experience, however, if you scare easily, you may find the highway driving and rugged terrain a little intimidating . There was an older lady in our group that really struggled and didn't have a lot of fun because she was afraid. The rest of us had a blast!! You don't have to be back on the ship in Aruba until midnight so there is plenty of time to go out in the evening. A taxi to the Palm Beach area (where all the luxury hotels are) is about $15. Make sure you confirm this before you get in. The beaches in Aruba are spectacular and the sunset is something you'll never forget. Don't miss out on them! CURACAO - I can't say enough about this island. I didn't even know it existed before I booked the cruise and it is now my favorite place in the world. The town is just charming and a great place to sit by the water and eat lunch or have a drink. We did a snorkel excursion to a sunken tugboat. The boat ride out was a little rough - because of the constant trade winds, it's always windy and rough. If you have a tendency for sea sickness, I would rent a car and drive to the snorkel location rather than take the boat. A beautiful trip, but a few people did get sick. The snorkel area is beautiful with tons of interesting fish. I would recommend bringing a fish identification card with you as there were lots of fish that I had never seen before and didn't know what they were. ST. MAARTEN - a very beautiful island and a nice change from the desert islands in the south. We rented a car and toured the island on our own. The car rental (4 door compact) was $67 and we paid $9 to fill up the car at the end of the day. There is one road that loops the island and one that cuts through the middle so there really is no way to get lost. It takes about 1.5 - 2 hrs to do the loop around the island. The signs for different attractions are not well marked so you may find yourself driving past it a few times. There is a fort in Marigot (the French capital) and the views from it are breath taking. We did make a stop at Orient Beach and sure enough there was some nudity. It wasn't over the top and most people were sunbathing nude rather than walking up and down the beach with no clothing. Lots of children around! We weren't brave enough to take off our clothing on shore but we did strip down once we got in the water and swimming naked is a complete joy! Depending on the number of cruise ships in port that day, there can be a long line of traffic back into the dock so make sure you plan for this so that you don't miss your ship. ST. THOMAS - before you get off the ship, you have to clear US customs. This is done in the dining room between 7-9am. We got there at 7am and moved through the line in about 10 minutes. When we went by at 8:30, there were line ups out the door. The island is very beautiful island, but expensive! We tried to rent a car but they were all rented. We were told that this is common because of the large number of cruise ship passengers that come every day. If you want to rent a car, I would recommend booking it online before you get there and getting off the ship as early as possible to get your car (on-line rentals are not always guaranteed). If you don't rent a car, there are taxis that do regular stops around the island and are readily accessible. I would recommend going to Maegan's Beach. It is ranked in the top ten beaches in the world for a reason! SHOPPING - RCCL has a professional shopper on board who can give you great information about shopping and where to go. They do have a list of preferred stores and they actually guarantee your purchases there. With that said, buyer beware!! Do your research before you go or you will get burned. I bought a 1.6 ct tanzanite and diamond ring from Diamonds International in Aruba (a guaranteed store). I didn't know anything about tanzanite (and not much about diamonds either) and ended up not getting a good deal. I managed to bargain the price down by about $500 USD but when I got home and got it appraised, it is actually worth $300 USD less than what I paid for it. RCCL is currently looking into this for me, and have been very helpful. However, if I had been educated about tanzanite, I wouldn't have gotten suckered in like that. Also, some of the stores on the back streets offer substantially better deals. The other area I would look out for is with watches. The prices are excellent, however they tend to only carry the best of the best in watches. My husband was looking at Tag Heuer and Tissot watches that were about 75% cheaper than what we can get them for in Canada; however, because they only carry the best of the best, you may find yourself being sucked into buying a watch that is more expensive and with more gadgets than you would have both at home. Do your homework before you go and know what you would pay for a similar item at home and you won't run into problems. If you have any questions, please contact me at [email protected]

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Dec 17, 2006

Southern Caribbean

We arrived a day early in San Juan as is our custom. Arriving early for a cruise is very important. We have heard too many horror stories of people getting delayed flights and having to miss the beginning of their cruise. So we always find that it’s worth it to fly down a day early; plus you can board the ship early, avoiding the long lines, and its like another day on the ship with fewer crowds. The Embassy Suites in San Juan served

as our overnight accommodations. It has a fantastic location; close to the airport and highway, a 10 minute cab ride to the port. We could walk to the beach and it is near restaurants and shopping center; this came in handy especially when certain hair appliances were broken in the luggage and we traipsed to the nearby Walgreen's to replace and also purchase sunglasses which somehow I always neglect to pack. We arrived at the Adventure around noon and avoided the check-in crowds. It took us maybe 10 minutes to get on the ship, record time for us. This was our second sailing aboard the Adventure, the first being 3 years ago on our Honeymoon. Not much had changed since our honeymoon and the ship is just as fantastic as my memories. One caveat to early boarding was that our rooms were not ready until 2 PM. So we lugged our carry-on bags up to the buffet at Windjammer which was terrific in selection and taste. Then we retreated to a quiet chaise lounge chair in the Solarium by a window to read and relax in until our room was ready. Our room was as we remembered it. The cabins are fairly large for a cruise ship with a sofa sitting area with a coffee table. Then, we changed into bathing suits to hit the Jacuzzis and the pool. The first day is a great time to take advantage of the ship’s amenities without the crowds and we sat in the Jacuzzi watching the newly arrived walk by with cameras and bags in tow exploring the ship. At dinner that night we met the other couple we would be dining with. We hit it off and had a great time the entire cruise sharing experiences with Eric and Jessica. Food and service were superb and very filling throughout the cruise. Derya our waitress and Mustafa our head waiter kept all of the dinners entertaining, spectacular, and deserve kudos. A few observations about the ship experience before discussing the ports: this time the ship at times felt very crowded. The stated passenger capacity of the ship is 3100. On this week there were 3600. There were times when the promenade was jammed (captain’s reception, parades, even random evenings when the shops had sales), and it was difficult to find a seat at breakfast in the Windjammer. Breakfast in the dining room was heavenly compared to the noisy, crowded Windjammer. Also, the ship was probably a bit more than 50% Spanish-speaking. This was not a problem as everything on board was still in English, but I know that some families with kids were hoping to meet more English speaking groups. The pool deck was surprisingly un-crowded even on sea days. There were always ample chairs and even room in the Jacuzzis in the solarium. The adult pool was refreshing with the exception of some drama we encountered when a woman refused to stop doing the butterfly stroke with flip turns in the 10 foot pool (WITH A DOZEN PEOPLE). We made use of the gym and the equipment a few times during the week to keep from gaining 10 pounds (I still gained 5). Equipment was never hard to come by and we even used the track on the top deck a number of times for walking and jogging. One of my favorite things to do is walk around the top deck during the sail away from an island. The views of the sun, ocean, and the islands are truly breathtaking. A note on Portofino: a pay restaurant. The meal was truly an event and very nice. The food was a step above the dining room because it is made fresh to order. We both got so full before the main course that we kind of wimped out and didn’t even get desert. I don’t think I would pay to do it again, but it was nice to do once. Richard Spacey, the Cruise Director, was fabulous. He was funny and energetic throughout the trip and very visible. He really puts on a great show. Make sure to check out Richard at the Decades Party. Do not miss this. The entertainment was very good overall. An especially funny comic was Rondel Sheridan. Music was good although we didn’t see much of the live music. We did go to Jesters a few times. It is always a very fun scene. One highlight for me was dancing at the Frank Sinatra hour at Jesters. Islands: Aruba – Public Transportation is great! We took the bus to Palm Beach for $2 round trip per person. Very easy to negotiate and tourist friendly. This was a very high quality beach with nice calm water and soft sand. Lots of facilities at the hotels and opportunities for chair and umbrella rentals. The ship is docked long enough in this port that we could go back to the ship for a late lunch, change, and head back out to the city. Carlos and Charlie’s was a macabre must-see as Natalie Holloway’s final stop before disappearing. This has a great party atmosphere where they will actually pour liquor down your throat for free! Curacao – Don’t do Public Transportation. We walked into town after docking. This is a great walk, very neat little shops built into an old fort. The town is probably the best we have seen in the Caribbean. It looks Dutch and is very colorful. The town is photogenic and great for shutterbugs like my wife. We tried the bus system here but it looked municipal and there were no other tourists there so we took a cab to Mambo Beach. This beach looks very nice, but it is still under construction. It does cost to get into the beach, like $3 a person and money to rent chairs as well. There was lots of concrete mixed in with the sand and it was not so pleasant on the feet. The water was nice but got deep very quickly. I probably would try a different beach next time in Curacao. St. Maarten – Second time is the charm. We went here on our honeymoon and it is still just as nice. We shared a cab with some other cruisers to Orient Bay Beach, which is one of the best beaches in the world for good reason. The water is electric blue and there are actually some small waves (a rarity in the calm Caribbean). Great sand, nice facilities, cheap chair rental with umbrella and drinks, all added up to lots of fun. A little free entertainment was provided by the Club Orient all nude beach just beyond the rock jetty. It was priceless to see people with no tan lines (and no shame) wearing only Santa hats playing cards on the beach. St. Thomas – You’ll get wet. For this island, we took a ferry to St. John to go to Trunk Bay. Sitting on the side of the ferry outside, we were warned that we were in the wet zone. This was fine for me since it was hot outside and I figured that a little splash might feel good. However 2 tsunami waves later I was blindly groping for the door to the inside of the ferry as buckets of water were crashing against me. As I stood in the doorway, the other ferry members got quite a chuckle taking in my soaked visage as I dripped to a nearby indoor seat. Trunk Bay is a visually stunning beach and part of a national park. It does lack amenities as there are no chair rentals, the beach is very narrow and can get crowded, and the ship excursion there only gives you a couple of hours on the beach. Snorkeling there is below average, but there are some nice underwater plaques to read about the fish. St. John’s is probably the most photographed beach in the Caribbean and it is good to see it at least once. Overall for the trip, it was a great experience. Leaving the ship was exciting for us because we had an 8:30am flight out of San Juan on Christmas Eve. I have to give props to the early departure Guest Relations angel, Carolina who made sure that my wife and I were the first two off the boat. She was pulling for us to make the flight and without her help and phone calls to ask Homeland Security to clear the ship, we would not have made our flight. As it was, we only made check in with minutes to spare. Thank you, Carolina. If you have any questions or comments email us at [email protected] Thanks for reading. Phil Dacey Link to see photos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xydK3m4JpY

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Aug 13, 2006

Southern Caribbean

It is virtually impossible to have a bad time on a cruise. We had a blast and love cruising. With that said, I would grade RCLL as a "fair" cruise line. The ship was the most beautiful ship I have ever seen! Spectacular! The ship was gorgeous and had a nice "adults only" pool that was fantastic! The food was not so hot and very tasteless. I remember the good old days where waiters wore white gloves, and everything right down to the

salad dressing, was homemade. You don't get that on RCLL. The steak was cooked to death and tough as leather! The pasta dishes had no flavor at all and the desserts lacked flavor as well. The ports of call were great but I did not like Aruba. We went to a "famous" beach but the whole place stunk like raw sewerage. When we asked about the smell we were told that the hotel on the beach had a septic tank "issue" that had not been fixed. We had to leave the beach early because it smelled so badly. Also, I found Aruba to be kind of dirty, the streets were littered with garbage and there were bad smells. Getting off the ship was a pain! You had to be out of your cabin by 8am, on Celebrity and Carnival we were allowed to remain in the cabin until at least 10! The line to get off the ship was very long and very discombobulated! No signs, no directions or anything! It was bedlam and took over 4 hours! Several people wound up missing flights because it was such a mess! Overall RCLL is a good value. You will definately have fun! However, if you are used to luxury cruising you will NOT find that here. You are one of almost 4000 people and you don't get any "special touches" like you would on Celebrity or another pricier line. I can tell you, the price is right, the ship is gorgeous and with the right mindset you will have a great time!

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Aug 13, 2006

Southern Caribbean

If you're looking for a first-rate cruise for the family, look no further. This was our 4th Caribbean cruise and our 2nd on Royal Caribbean, and hands down Royal Caribbean is the best. We have two teenage children, a 16 year old son and a 13 year old daughter, who traveled with us and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. From rock climbing, ping pong, video arcades, basketball, miniature golf, kid friendly food such as Johnny Rockets and Ben

& Jerry ice cream, in-room movies and room service, your kids are guaranteed a great time. Older couples traveling together will have an enjoyable time too, but in my opinion, Royal Caribbean caters more to the family-friendly crowd. Last year we sailed on Mariner of the Seas (another Voyager class ship) and it was equally as good so you can pick from any of the 9 Voyager ships and know you're in good hands. I'm assuming all of the Voyager ship's are built exactly the same, since Adventurer and Mariner were identical! We definitely knew our way around the ship this time. We arrived in San Juan on Saturday, August 12th and spent the night at the San Juan Marriott which is only 15 minutes from the pier. The next morning, we arrived at the pier at 2pm right when you could board because we wanted to start enjoying the ship's amenities right away. We had pre-ordered a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to be delivered to our stateroom upon arrival, which made our sail-away very special. We had 2 balcony staterooms on Deck 8 in the Aft section of the ship. Last year we had adjoining staterooms, but we couldn't get them this year. The adjoining rooms have a pocket door (sliding interior door) between the rooms. Getting on the ship was a breeze, although it was very hot. We had pre-printed our Sail Away Passes which speeds the entire process, so be sure to do that before you go. We were on-board around 2:45pm, which includes having our photo taken as we boarded. We met our Stateroom Attendant, Arlex from Costa Rica, who was very pleasant. We promptly changed into bathing suits and headed to Deck 12 to read books and lay in the sun. The muster drill (lifeboat drill) was at 8:30pm with dinner for second seating guests at 9pm the first night. If you've never cruised before, be sure to request second seating for dinner (8:30pm dining) because you'll have more time for excursions and won't have to rush back to the ship to get ready for dinner by 6pm (first-seating dinner time.) Our only disappointment on this cruise was that we didn't have a table for 4 at dinner, which we had specifically requested when we booked. We were seated at table for 10! We're a busy family we don't eat meals together at home as much as I'd like, so the cruise was a special opportunity to dine alone together as a family. You know kids, they won't talk if the adults are talking. Luckily, you can make changes to your dining room assignment on the first night, so I spoke to the Head Dining Manager (Mustafa from Turkey) and he was kind enough to move us to our own table. Mustafa became a special friend on the cruise because he knew how happy he'd made us by honoring our dining request. Not everyone is accommodated in the dining room, the most common request is to move from first seating to second seating, so be sure to make your dining request when you book and follow-up the first night if there's a problem. I'm not going to talk much about each port, except for a few highlights. In Aruba, we spent the day at Palm Beach, which is top-rated popular beach in Aruba that's only a short taxi ride from the ship. We did not book an excursion in Aruba because we'd heard about Palm Beach and wanted to go there. At the beach, we rented 2 chairs, 2 floaters and an umbrella. We forgot to bring our towels from the ship, so we purchased 2 inexpensive $10 towels at a beach-store. The kids also forgot their goggles on the ship, so we purchased 2 pairs of goggles for $10 each too. There were lots of others from the ship, who were part of the Beach Break excursion, but they could only stay for 2 hours on the beach before they had to leave. Those folks paid more and stayed less, so my recommendation is if you want to spend a day at the beach to take a taxi on your own. It's definitely cheaper and you'll have a longer day. Next stop was Curacao. We booked the snorkeling excursion at the underwater park, which you access by boat. There were about 40 guests from the ship on this excursion. The boat ride was a bit choppy but once we got there we saw LOTS of fish, rainbows, angel fish and even a small barracuda! Seriously! But we're told it was harmless, hmmmm. Back on the ship, we overheard some other guests talking about the Sea Lion tour which they enjoyed but thought it was too long (if you've seen 1 sea lion, you've seen them all, ha, ha.) That night dinner was "Caribbean Night" and we had Red snapper, shrimp salad, lobster bisque and cherries jubilee for dessert. We purchased a Wine and Dine package (5 bottles of wine at the gold level, although there are other packages too in various price levels) and we had a nice bottle of Merlot. You can only purchase the Wine and Dine Package on the first and second nights of the cruise. Next port was St. Maarten, on the Dutch side. Here the street vendors are a bit more aggressive, so be sure you can say NO if you're not interested in their goods. It's tricky with kids because they will come up to the kids and put merchandise in their hands and ask "How much you give me?" Just be firm, take off the merchandise and walk away. We struggled with this on our first cruise, but we're pros now. Have a tough skin, unless it's something you really want to purchase. (Side note: Jamaica is WAY worse! St. Maarten was a piece of cake.) I purchased a beautiful ivory shell and silver necklace and paid cash to get a better deal. Then we took a taxi to Orient Beach and had another wonderful day. My daughter had corn rows and beads put in her hair on the beach for $40, which she likes. dinner that night was "Italian Night" and we had cheese tortellini, crab cakes, caesar salad and baked alaska for dessert. Next port was St. Thomas, the highlight of the trip. We've been here before but never to Magen's Bay, one of the Top 10 Beaches in the world. We took an open-air taxi to the beach for $8 per person. Tried to negotiate the price down to a flat $20, but they are firm and won't budge. The taxi ride is a bit unnerving because you're basically in the back of a pick-up truck that's been converted to a taxi with padded bench seats and a canopy overhead. The roads are very narrow and mostly uphill to the beach, so it's a roller-coaster ride. My husband and kids didn't mind, but I was not a fan. At Magen's Bay, the views are spectacular! We took lots of pictures, rented beach chairs and floaters, had lunch at the beach bar and enjoyed another great day. We all purchased Magen's Bay T-shirts before we left. Last night: We attended the Farewell Show, which was good but a repeat of our last cruise (same jokes, same skits "Top 10 Questions the crew is Asked) so it wasn't as funny this time for us. There's definitely a "formula" to the cruise industry, so if you're a repeat customer you'll pick up on that right away. We put our luggage outside our door at 1AM even though it was supposed to be out by 12midnight. We just couldn't get everything packed on-time and wanted to soak up as much of our last night as possible. They were still moving luggage at 2AM, so I doubt it was a problem. Leaving the ship: This was the only time we felt like we were part of a crowd. There are 3000 people on board and you don't realize it until you're leaving! They put everyone in Groups (1 through 10) and you wait in the public areas until your number is called. We were group 10 (the last one) because our flight home wasn't until later that night. We didn't mind because we sat up on Deck 11 in the solarium (covered outside deck chairs) and read. Oh and don't forget that the food on Deck 5 (Promenade Deck) is FREE, except for drinks and Ben&Jerry's ice cream. The pizza, sandwiches, cookies, cake, muffins is all complimentary. But since it's behind a glass case (and not self-serve) it's not obvious, I guess. We felt so sorry for a family that didn't realize that until they were leaving! Oops! And another piece of advice, you can order 2 or more meals at dinner too. So when it's lobster night, be sure to get plenty! Bon Voyage!

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Jul 16, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Adventure was a wonderful ship. It was beautiful and clean with excellent service. It felt very much like home for the 7 days we were on it. Compared to the cruises I have been on, Adventure had the best food hands down. The buffet at lunch and breakfast was okay but the dinners in the dinning room were outstanding. Portofino, the Italian style restaraunt you can pay extra to go to was great also. The shows and commics were fair, but

the ice skating show was wonderful. There was a lot to do at night, but the casino tended to be crowded and only had 1 five dollar table. The mid night buffet was not worth going to, as much of the food was nothing to write home about, but a nice time to take pictures. We had a balcony room which was beautiful, clean and had plenty of space for the 2 of us. We stayed in the superior class room. The beds were not very comfortable but that is expected on a cruise. A few things we did not like about the ship is that we found it very difficult to find a seat at the pool, even early in the morning, specifically days at sea. The pools were crowded and the adult pool did not have enough lounge chairs surronding the area. The mini-golf was cheesy and small, and it usually was too windy or hot to play anyway. Another time we could feel the size of the ship was when it was formal night and we went to take pictures. We waited on line for at least 45 min. to take horrible pictures. The wait sometimes was just rediculious. Getting off of the ship at the end of the trip was un-organized and took several hours. We almost missed our flight because of this, so I would suggest you leave early on the last day. The Islands were for the most part beautiful, excluding Curracco which we found to be run down, dirty and lacking activities. We went to the aquarium and found it to be dirty and small, not worth going to. Although there is a surrounding beach which is beautiful. Curracco was the only Island we did not fully enjoy and would not go back to. Overall, the cruise on Adventure was wonderful and we were so sad to leave the last day. The staff was wonderful and there was always plenty to do. Drinks and activities like Bingo are expensive ($35.00 per person to play) but you just have to go knowing your going to spend money. We loved the trip and would highly recommend Adventure!

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Jul 16, 2006

Southern Caribbean

My wife and I really enjoyed this cruise. Our 7-night trip itinerary consisted of boarding in San Juan, a day at sea, Aruba, Curacao, day at sea, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. It was a nice pace to have two ports, one day at sea, two ports; it seems that too many islands in a row would be a bit tiring, and two days at sea would get a little long. San Juan We flew to San Juan a day early and would recommend this. May as well see Puerto

Rico while you’re there. When you arrive at the airport, find the people in orange vests at the orange kiosk. They will get you a cab (for free) and make sure you know how much it should cost. We stayed in Old San Juan, which is right next to the pier. (Our view looked out over the cruise ships.) We did the walking tour of Old San Juan that was in our travel guide (Frommer’s Caribbean Ports of Call), which included the old city wall, city gate, El Morro fort, and others. It was a great way to see the sights. We also highly recommend Café Puerto Rico for dinner – very friendly service and good food. The next morning we went to see the El Yunque rainforest, booked through the hotel concierge. ($40 per person) It was cheaper (and more convenient) to see the rainforest through an organized excursion than it would have been by renting a car, taking a cab, or through the cruise line because it’s about a half hour drive away from Old San Juan / the pier. Embarkation We arrived at the pier around 3:00. Embarkation was quite hectic outside the building but very organized inside. Royal Caribbean could certainly do more to welcome travelers to their cruise by just putting up a few signs and having a few employees out there to direct people. Since they don’t, though, here’s what you do: If you are in a suite, you can take your luggage directly to the employees working at the luggage carts along the sidewalk. Otherwise, wait in the line/herd with your luggage and give it to the porters. Then you have to go back down the line and cut across the line in order to meet the employee who will check that you have your confirmation papers. They will send you on your way into the building where they will check your passport and give you your Sea Pass card, which serves as your onboard credit card and ID. (Honeymooners, it’s easiest to just book your cruise ticket in whatever name is on your passport / identification in order to avoid having last names on your ticket and identification that don’t match.) There is a duty-free shop in this building, but keep in mind you cannot bring alcohol onboard. Some reviews have stated that you can bring wine onboard and bring it to the dining room for a corking fee, but we learned that what this means is that you can buy wine in the onboard stores and bring it to the dining room. All alcohol is (supposed to be) checked when you board the ship. Pack a carry-on with clothes for dinner, because some friends didn’t get their luggage until after dinnertime. There's a muster drill after dinner on the first night. Bring your camera along with you for some fun pictures of all your friends (and everyone else) in their giant life vests! The Ship The ship was certainly impressive – very clean and spacious. The pools were nice, and they have the usual poolside band and games, although they could afford to turn the volume down on the pool games. There are plenty of chairs available on deck, even on the days at sea. Be sure to check out the peek-a-boo bridge where you can look in on the ship’s bridge. Also, I think that you can walk out on the helicopter pad at the ship’s bow, but we didn’t realize this until the end of the cruise. For the ice skating shows, there’s a huge line for tickets when they first give them away, but there were plenty to pick up at the Guest Relations desk later on. Our tablemates went to the “Quest” scavenger hunt show (adults only) and had a great time. We did the wine tasting on one of the days at sea ($10 per person) but wouldn't recommend it. It was a bit rushed and the presentation was hard to follow. The entertainment we saw in the theater was great - comedians, an a cappella group, a juggler, and an impressionist. The comedian was funny, but I agree with previous reviews that he made some jokes that were pretty inappropriate for the opening night family welcome show. Dining There are multiple options for dining onboard: - The main dining room serves all three meals - The Windjammer is a cafeteria open 7 am – 9 pm - The Promenade Café has light eats and is open 24 hours - Portofino’s restaurant is $20 per person. (Alcohol and specialty drinks still not included.) - Room service is free and was great - Johnny Rockett’s is onboard but has a $4 per person cover charge There are two formal nights in the dining room (on the days at sea). There is a dress code for all the other nights, though, so don’t go tromping in there wearing a tank top and flip flops. Our wait staff, Lobo and Mehmet, was great and very friendly. You can get as much food as you would like, and we thought the food was fantastic. Portofino’s: Great service and great food. I had the best filet mignon I've ever had there. Our cruise agent gave us dinner there as a congratulations for my wife’s grad school graduation, and we really enjoyed ourselves – we spent three hours at dinner, just relaxing and making and evening of it. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the cost for you, though - don’t forget that you’ve already paid for a full four-course meal in the fantastic dining room. Aruba The island of Aruba is very quintessentially desert (see picture), not the lush vegetation of some of the islands. We rented a Jeep on our own and drove around the island with our tablemates and had a great time. We tried to book a Jeep ahead of time, but don’t bother – there are multiple car rental agencies right on the dock with agents competing for your business. Use this to your advantage and negotiate a good rate. We got a Jeep for the entire day for $75, plus gas. Gas is expensive on the island, though - $1.75 a liter! (That’s more than $6 a gallon.) This was much cheaper than the shore excursion doing the same thing, though, and we had the whole day to drive around instead of just four hours. We drove up to the Arikok National Park where there are some pretty beach views (no swimming) and some caves (definitely not spelunking, though – just little tourist caves), wild goats and lizards. Like I said - pretty much a big desert. There is a bar / restaurant / gift shop along the coast. Also, yes, the Natural Bridge did fall down, as reported by other reviews. After the national park we drove up the western coast. At the end of the road is the California Lighthouse, but Jeeps can continue along the northern coast by off-roading (legally). Very fun! On the way back to the boat, we stopped at several beaches along the west coast. The water was actually a bit chilly, but there was some great snorkeling. Aruba is also very big on wind sports (parasailing, wind surfing, kite surfing, etc), so it would be easy to find those there. The boat stayed until 1 a.m. in Aruba, so we hit up the bars with our tablemates. We had fun together, although there didn’t seem to be a ton going on except for Carlos ‘n Charlie’s bar right next to the pier. This is a Latin American chain and can be fun – kind of a throwback to college frat parties, though. Very loud party atmosphere. Curacao We booked a scuba diving excursion through the scuba shop onboard the cruise. (By the way, they also offer scuba certification onboard the ship, and they sell and rent scuba and snorkel equipment as well.) Of all the islands on our trip, Curacao and St. Thomas were recommended to us by multiple sources as the best islands for diving. We really enjoyed the two shore/wall dives that we did, although the current was quite strong that day. We saw porcupine fish, the typical angel and parrot fish, a huge school of silvery fish, and even a barracuda. Don’t forget to bring cash to tip your scuba guide because none of the places we went to had the change to break a U.S. $20! St. Maarten We started off the day by doing some souvenir shopping near the pier. We hadn't planned on buying any alcohol, but they have the stuff cheap there. We bought a bottle of name brand vodka for $5, and I would say on average the prices are a third to half the price you would pay stateside. Some of the sales people tend to be a bit pushy, but there's plenty of friendly ones as well. After shopping we went on an afternoon shore excursion booked through the cruise with our tablemates. The excursion was called Loterie Farm Treetop Adventure Tour. The excursion catalog pitches it as a tour including 'history, ecology, and preservation of the 300 year old former sugar plantation', but the tour was minimal. It's really just a ropes course including rope bridges and zip lines. We had a lot of fun and certainly enjoyed the company of our tablemates, although I don't know that I would pay $82 per person to do this again. I didn't really feel like I experienced the island by doing this excursion, which is what I like to do while traveling. We hit the beach near the cruise for a short time before heading back to the ship, although the beach wasn't very impressive except for its view of the port. St. Thomas St. Thomas was my favorite port of call of the cruise and I will definitely be heading back there some day for a vacation. It's what I picture when I think Caribbean - lush vegetation, beautiful beaches, and islands dotting the horizon. In the morning we did the St. John Beach Tour shore excursion and really enjoyed it. We debated trying to get over to Trunk Bay (on the neighboring island of St. John) by ourselves, but it would have involved finding multiple modes of transportation, so we decided it would be easiest just to book it through the cruise line. Although we couldn't really hear the 'tour' part of the beach tour because our taxi driver's PA system was broken, Trunk Bay is totally worth the trip. (See the panoramic.) I've been to quite a few beaches and this is easily one of the best I've seen. It's a beautiful setting and has great snorkeling. The reef goes out probably 300 yards or more, so you can swim quite a ways without getting into deep water. I wish the excursion would spend more time at Trunk Bay, though, because you only get an hour or so there. After returning from our excursion, we took a taxi ($9 per person) over to the north side of St. Thomas to visit Magen's Bay ($3 per person entrance fee). It was also a beautiful beach with more space (and people) than Trunk Bay, although there isn't any snorkeling at Magen's Bay. There are taxis right at the beach that can take you back over to the cruise ship. One tip for St. Thomas is the info booth in town near the cruise ship. The woman there was more than helpful and gave us a map, recommendations on shops and beaches, and even coupons for our lunch! Also, our friends did the mango grove kayak and snorkel excursion and had a great time. Disembarkation Disembarkation was painless. The only annoying part is that you have to pack your bags and put them outside your cabin doors before midnight. It would be nice if this didn't have to be done until later, like 3am or so, for those of us that would like to stay up for one last night on the ship without needing to worry about getting back to the cabin to pack. Anyway, you can just go to breakfast and wait around until they call your disembarkation number, which they will tell you the night before. I do NOT recommend booking your ground transfer to the airport through the cruise line. It’s more expensive than a cab, you sit around waiting for your shuttle to load, and then there’s this idiotic system of brining your luggage to the airport in a separate van. Anyway, there’s plenty of cabs at the port, so I would recommend that. A few negatives - No non-alcoholic beverages at the pool. I understand they're trying to sell alcohol, but how many dads are going to walk up to the bar, ask for a few lemonades for his kids, and then say, “Oh, no lemonade? Then just give me four Mai Tai's instead.” Come on. - Although the pools are “open 24 hours”, a lot of the pools and hot tubs closed early for cleaning. It would have been nice if the hot tubs didn’t close until late (at least after midnight) so that all of those wanting to go for a late night dip didn’t have to cram into one of them. - My wife would have liked a wider selection of wines by the glass in the dining room, and a wider selection of beer on the ship would have been nice as well. - Beer was served in a can at the theater - I'm not a snob, but that seems a bit rustic for a cruise ship. General tips - Check with others (valet, bellhop, information kiosk, etc) about how much cabs should cost before getting in one. - US cash was accepted in all ports. - You can buy local stamps from Guest Relations desk and mail postcards right there too. They take the mail off the ship before leaving each port. - There are no irons in the room. (The whole 'potential fire on a cruise ship' thing isn't encouraged by the Coast Guard.) - No alarm clocks in the rooms, but you can get a wakeup call. There is, however, nice, relaxing music in the room if you turn on the switch next to the vanity. - Book your shore excursions ahead of time online, or if you don’t get a chance to, you can use the interactive television system to book them in your room. Much better than standing in line at the excursion desk. - There are a limited number of feather pillows available from your room steward, so ask him/her for them right away if you want them. - Our cell phones worked in the U.S. ports (Puerto Rico and St. Thomas), and I saw other passengers on the phone at other ports as well. Check your carrier for coverage. - My public service plug: Take the opportunity to take care of your body and your wallet onboard. Take the stairs when you can because they’re quicker than the elevators anyway. Forget buying soda because you have all the tea, lemonade, water, and coffee you want, plus you would have to lug around a soda cup all the time. Forget buying junk fast food and ice cream when you have all the gourmet food (and non-brand-name junk food and ice cream) you could want. Summary We really enjoyed our vacation on the Adventure of the Seas. The ship was clean and offered plenty of activities, the staff was quite helpful and friendly, and the food was first rate. I felt like the cruise line was always trying to sell me something (drinks, gambling, jewelry, photographs, etc), but I'm guessing that might be typical of the mega cruise lines. All of the ports of call were interesting, although my personal favorite was St. Thomas. The shore excursions we booked through the cruise line were all fun, but some excursions can easily be done on your own for less money. I will happily travel with Royal Caribbean again, and can't wait to return to the Caribbean! Happy cruising!

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Jun 18, 2006

Southern Caribbean

My wife, son (age 12), and I traveled together on this cruise. We shared a balcony cabin #8544. To immediately dis-spell any doubts as to my opinion, we loved the ship and everything about the cruise. I'll break this into categories for easier reading. The Ship. I have no problems with being on one of the largest cruise ships afloat. There were more activities than we've ever seen on a cruise. The ship was well cared for and its decor

was beautiful and tasteful. Our son enjoyed the roller blade track (the blades are issued free) and the rock climbing wall (available at no charge). All of us enjoyed the miniature golf course. My son started to ice skate, but the time we chose had lots and lots of skaters on the rink, and at the last minute he declined. The ship has a set of pools limited to adults and also a set for everyone. Notwithstanding 3800 passengers on the ship, even on days at sea there did not seem to be an overcrowding. Food. Very good to excellent. We ate virtually all meals on board and enjoyed all of them. My wife and I enjoy wine, so we ordered a bottle of wine every evening. The wine package worked well for us. By purchasing the wine package we had good wines and saved money from the regular wine list. The package has three different levels. On each level one can chose 5, 7, 10 or more bottles. We are good for a bottle a meal, so I chose the 7 bottle package at the highest level. It was priced at $185, which equates to about $26.00 per bottle. There was only $30 difference between this level and the lowest of the levels, and at the higher level one had several more choices. We did not try Portofino, primarily because it was implied that kids under 13 would not be welcome, and our son is 12. There was one midnight buffet. It was worth visiting before in the time allotted for picture taking, due to its beauty. The food and deserts were comparable. We ended up in Johnny Rocker's cafe late one night just before closing (11:30). All of the food is free, but each guest will be charged $3.50 regardless of what is ordered. The Entertainment. Adventure had what was by far the best entertainment of any ship I have been on. We enjoyed 4 stand-up comics on different nights and all were great. The ice show was outstanding, living up to its billing in other reviews. The ice show is held twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Passes are available for guests on Monday morning, and should be picked up at that time. There was also a Vegas style review one evening, and it was good. My hat is off to the cruise director - Simeon Baker. He was great. Places. Aruba is flat, sandy, and its picturesque spots include a lighthouse and a natural rock bridge. Its main appeal is to those who snorkel/scuba. We took no tours, as we had been to Aruba previously. Curacao has a very picturesque town area with bright colored buildings similar to what you might expect in Holland. It's great for photo ops. We also went to the Sea Aquarium, about a 20 minute taxi ride out of town. I've been to a number of aquariums with larger displays, but I enjoyed the somewhat unique approach at this one. The admission price was about $15.00 for adults. I would recommend it for first time visitors. St.Marteen/St.Martin is great. I'm hip to the variations of the guavaberry rum available on the Dutch side, and bought several bottles. On the French side there is Orient Beach, somewhat infamous because of the nudist resort at the south end of the beach. But I do believe it is one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen in my travels, and well worth the visit. St.Thomas is probably best noted for its shopping, and we did buy my son a digital camera at about a $30 saving from my favorite photo discounter in New York City. I do applaud RCCL for Adventure and the other ships of this class. I would go out of my way to travel again on one of these ships.

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May 28, 2006

Southern Caribbean

When I first arrived on the ship, I thought WOW! It looked like a floating Las Vegas resort. We immediately went to our room, which my boyfriend found to be small (we didn't have a balcony). I found it to be cozy. We then went to sign up for the wine and dine package. If you think you will drink wine at dinner, it's a must. we also got the soda package which we ended up not really using because your off the boat most of the time. We also

made reservations at Portofino's. This restaurant has a charge of 20 dollars, but it is like a five star restaurant. Good thing we got a reservation because it quickly filled up. Next, we waited 2 hours in the line to book our excursions. Hint- do it online before! Most will be booked by the time you get aboard. Day- 1 (St. Thomas) We weren't sure if it was wise to go to trunk bay in St. Johns by ourselves so we hesitantly got in a cab and went to Magen's Bay. I had heard mix reviews about the facilities and water, but we thought what the heck! It was GORGEOUS! We were like wow, this is paradise. It was quiet like a lagoon and wasn't busy until 11:00. We got there at 10:00 and got a spot in front of the bar. The bar was cheap, but the food at the snack bar was a little expensive for what they were offering. there were chairs to rent and we also rented a float. There were no umbrellas which sucked. Day 2 (St. Marteen) We decided to go to Orient Beach because we didn't have enough money to go to Pinel Island which is the best snorkel on the island. We liked orient a lot, the water was not placid like Magen's bay, but rather had waves. What was so great about the beach was the facilities and the service. I mean I was impressed and I have been everywhere (kind of a princess). We got a cushy chair and umbrella and were constantly approached by a young man named Val who was offering drinks from the bar. The facilities themselves looked like it came out of a movie scene. There were little tiki huts, and paths and bars surrounded by palm trees. The restaurant was good, but slow. I was so upset when we had to leave. It was my boyfriend's favorite day. Day 3 (St. Johns) Okay, now we decided to go on an excursion: the snorkel sea-ferry. we got to the "35 foot power boat" and saw it was basically a hovercraft. It was kind of shocking. We had to ride on our seats like we were riding horseback. They then told us that instead of going to Cades Reef National Park (suppose to be the best snorkeling) they took us to a private island. In fairness to them, it was the most beautiful water I've ever seen. However, the snorkeling was horrible. It was so shallow that people were getting cut on the coral. I mean it was only like 4 feet deep with 3 foot high coral. They offered rum punch and then we headed back. If I were to go back I would definitely go to Dickenson Bay. We stopped by it on the way and I was blown away. I wanted to jump of the boat and say "see ya"! All in all, it was my least favorite day. Day 4 (St. Lucia) I just don't really like St. Lucia. I've been there before and I wasn't impressed then either. We went to Reduit Beach. They had chairs and umbrellas, but no bar and a horrible restaurant. The water was clear, but you couldn't really enjoy it because you were constantly being heckled by locals for everything! I was kind of glad to go back to the ship. Day 5 (Barbados) All I can say is I want to go back. we were planning on going to Mullens Bay, but we were talked into going to Monkey Beach. Now, I've read everything online and in books about Barbados and nothing was mentioned about this beach. I walked down the path to the beach with the taxi driver to check it out and we were like "why the hell wasn't this mentioned, this is beautiful!" They had every water sport possible. Also, and this is important, the excursions that were 74 dollars which take you to swim with the turtles went to monkey beach. We rented snorkel gear for 10 dollars and swam out ourselves. It was great. I even petted one. We rented a jet ski and were allowed to go wherever as long as we were back in 30 minutes. The bar was reasonable and the restaurant was fun! If you don't mind some locals who might be smoking pot, this is the beach of the trip to go to. It was also only 15 dollars per person round trip. General Tips- Go to the champagne bar and meet Raphael and Calvin. They are the coolest crew members on the ship. While your there, get the champagne package. Instead of paying 8 dollars a drink, you can purchase 10 for 43 dollars. Also, you have to see the ice show as well as the game show love and marriage. Bingo was a rip off- 35 dollars to play. I was like forget it and told the guy that was ridiculous. Also, don't buy the fancy drinks around the pool. They are 8.95, but you get to keep the glass. Just go to the bar, get the same drink, and pay 4.50. Lastly, on the day at sea you have to secure your spot by the pool early. We put our stuff out before breakfast. By 10:30 there was not a seat to be found. I hope you enjoy the trip as much as I did. If you get champagne, tell the guys that Ellen and Ryan say hello!

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May 7, 2006

Southern Caribbean

This was our second cruise and our first on RCLL. My wife and I sailed the Southern Caribbean on Adventure of the Seas to celebrate our one year anniversary. Let me begin this review by saying we spent many weeks reading reviews of the ship and ports and tried to gather as much information as possible to squeeze out the most of our 7 days at sea. There were a lot of helpful entries that we used to make our cruise a very fulfilling experience.

I had read a few negative reviews as well, and I have to say this...what you get from a vacation is what you give. If you go in with a positive attitude and look for fun...you will get just that. We live in Southern California and our itinerary was to fly to San Juan on Saturday, spend the night there and embark on Sunday afternoon. Our flight left our local airport at 6:10 am. We arrived there around 5:45 am and were told that it was too late to board the flight. After an unsuccessful plea to sneak us on board, we ended up renting a car and driving to Los Angeles International to catch a flight out of there. It ended up being an advantage for we arrived in San Juan 30 minutes earlier. My wife and I really liked Puerto Rico. It was our first time together outside the U.S. so that may have contributed to our 'awe'. San Juan has a 'rainforest' climate and we soaked it all in. We stayed at the Hyatt Dorado which was gorgeous!! Unfortunately they are shutting the hotel down in late May which is sad. During our short stay we appreciated the weather, clear ocean, lizards and local foliage. We had rented a car and the next morning we packed up and headed toward the pier (which was about a 30 minute drive from our hotel). The freeway system in Puerto Rico is very confusing. We got lost a couple of times (because I wouldn't ask for directions...its a guy thing) but we finally ended up at the pier! After dropping off our car, we took a taxi to the ship. Embarking was a breeze. We were in a suite so we had priority in our boarding which we took full advantage of. From stepping out of the taxi until stepping onto the ship took about 20 minutes max. The first sight of this awesome vessel was amazing! Absolutely monstrous! We arrived just after 2:00 pm so we went straight for our suite. The suite was nicer than expected. It was nicely designed and all of the room we would need. We had a private balcony and I read a few opinions regarding balconies. We absolutely loved our balcony and used it each day for breathing the ocean air during our 'at sea' times to having a room service meal to smoking my Cuban cigar. I will have a balcony on every cruise I will ever take again. Our bags weren't going to arrive till around 6:00 pm or so, so we headed to the Windjammer Cafe. Its a buffet style restaurant and we snatched up a couple of plates and began filling them with food like little kids in a candy store. We picked a seat by a window and sat there with big smiles on our faces eating chicken and roast beef and potatoes and whatever else we could grab. We looked at each other with that expression that said "We made it...we're finally here." After lunch we ordered our first alcoholic beverages (Yellow Bird for Janette and some fruity rum drink for me) and then played our only round of miniature golf (just to say we did it). We were exhausted but still explored some of the ship before we fell asleep around 8:00 pm. Day 2 - At Sea. We woke up refreshed with a spring in our step. Janette and I are very young at heart and are very active for a couple of 40 year olds! We couldn't wait to get our vacation into full gear! Breakfast at the Windjammer was the start of our day. We had spent the previous 12 weeks on a pretty strict diet and workout program that we stuck to with great discipline. But our reward was eating whatever we wanted on the cruise. We took full advantage of that. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, toast with jelly, coffee, OJ...you name it, we probably consumed it. (Just an early reference, we both only gained 4 pounds on the cruise...chalk it up to metabolism I guess) An hour after breakfast we went to the fitness center (which was very nice) and had our only workout of the cruise. We spent the afternoon out at the pool drinking the "Drink of the Day" (they will have a different one each day on the cruise..that day it was Razzonade). We swam and listened to a Caribbean band and soaked in the sun. We were just basking in our vacation. The smells of rum and tanning lotion filled the air. In the afternoon we toured the ship some more and wanted to experience a piece of every room. We played cards in the Seven Hearts Room...had a drink in the Blue Moon Lounge...etc. We stopped into the casino and decided to play some blackjack. About 30 minutes of playing we noticed we were up $55 bucks and decided to quit and use the money shopping in one of the ports. Dinner in the main dining room that evening was formal night. I didn't want to haul a suit jacket so I had no formal wear. Our seating was at 6:00 and it was around 4:00 pm. I was now becoming obsessive about wanting to attend the formal dinner so I called the on-board tailor and asked if it was too late to rent a tux. He said "I'll be right up to measure you" and was in our suite about 15 minutes later with a tape measure. After reluctantly having my inseams measured by this guy, he took my measurements and had a tux delivered by 5:00 pm. This was the beginning of the awesome service we would experience on our trip. We donned our outfits and headed to the main dining room. The main dining area is comprised of 3 floors (decks 3,4 and 5) We were on deck 3. It was a elegant room and beautifully designed. Our waiter's name was Sayit. The waiters were very attentive to our needs...remembered all of our names and were great. The food was great! I've read reviews good and bad about the food, but come on now...the chef is cooking for over 3200 people and did a damn good job. We each had double strawberry cheesecake for dessert...mmmmm. After dinner we headed to the Promenade. It is like Main St. in Disneyland. Shops lining down the deck with a few pubs and a cafe tucked in. I stopped at a shop for a high end cigar. We headed to the Connoisseurs Club for me to smoke it. The Connoisseurs Club is a smoking lounge complete with leather couches, dark lighting and mahogany finish. My wife and I just looked at each other with love in our eyes as I puffed away. It was one of my highlight moments of the cruise. We then returned to our suite to watch the ocean...a little TV...and we were out like babies. Day 3 - Aruba. Aruba ended up being our favorite port of call. For a few reasons. The first being this was the first island we have ever been on plus the hype of being in Aruba. After breakfast we exited the ship and stepped onto shore. We rented a taxi from I believe is the only female taxi driver on the island and asked her to show us the highlights of the island for $40 an hour. The rate seemed high but we didn't barter it down. She took us to see the high end hotels, the natural bridge, the ostrich farm and the ocean. We had an ATV excursion at 1:30 so we had to get back. It was around 1:00 when we returned so we didn't really have time to eat before a bus took us to our excursion. My wife rolled her eyes when she heard 2 months ago that I booked 'ATV Mania'. She was being a trooper though and we arrived at our excursion. There was only one other couple that was there and our tour guide (Luis) showed up. He gave us a quick run down on how they operated, donned us with helmets and told us to drive around this field for 10 minutes for practice. These things had some kick! They topped out at 45 mph and really stuck to the road. After practice he told us that it was time to go. I have to be honest, when I booked this excursion I had no idea where we would go on these things, I thought we might just ride around on the sand for a couple hours....boy was I wrong. We started out and headed down a main street. Yes, a main street with cars and busses! We rode in a single file line with assigned numbers. (I was #5, the last in the pack) Luis took us to see the goldmines....the natural bridge...the highest point in Aruba and the rock formations. Taking dirt roads and main streets, we literally rode tip to tip and end to end on Aruba! It is only 19 miles wide and 6 miles up and down but we saw the whole thing! What an experience. It was the absolute highlight of the trip for my wife Janette! She said "I never had so much fun in my life". There are many excursions to do in Aruba, but I highly recommend this one if you want to see the whole island going 45 mph and having a blast. After ATV Mania, we took a taxi to Arashi Beach to watch the sunset. They say the sunset in Aruba is the prettiest on earth. I think they were right. When the sun was setting, all of the warm colors of the rainbow blended together to set the stage for this awe inspiring sight. I took about 6 pictures at various stages of the setting sun. Absolutely gorgeous. After soaking in the ocean, we took a taxi back to the ship. We had a late dinner at the Windjammer and headed to bed.... not buying one thing in Aruba. Day 4 - Curacao. Breakfast at the Windjammer filled us with French Toast, grits and the rest. A couple of cups of java and we were on our way. We had no excursions in Curacao which allowed us more freedom to see the island. We started by taking a taxi to the Hato Caves. It was a unique tour of the limestone caves complete with stalagmites and stalactites, beautiful rock formations and fruit bats! After that we took the taxi to Kon Tiki Beach to spend a few hours. The beach was a popular party beach which included a rainforest themed outdoor restaurant, full bar, volleyball net, and water sports rentals. We had the special of the day "bacon cheeseburgers" which helped us feel at home again. There were these large lizards that befriended Janette and she appeased them by feeding them her lettuce. A couple of rum smoothies later and we found ourselves basking in the clear lagoon cooling off. Afterwards we found a couple of lounge chairs under the shade of a palm tree and relaxed for awhile. It was around 3:30 and the ship left at 5:00, so we scurried back. On the dock, there was a vendor giving out free rum tastings. We tasted the orange and pistachio and much to my amazement, bought a bottle of the pistachio for $10. Around 5:00 pm when the ship was departing, there is a place where you can watch the crew on the bridge called the "Peek-a-Boo bridge". The captain was in there and off we went. He stayed on the bridge for about 15 minutes and got up to leave, waving his hand to the appreciative crown applauding through the glass. Tough job he has. Back on the ship we played in the casino and won another $140! Dinner that night was the great! It was semi-casual and for the first time, all of the 4 groups were there together. We had lobster bisque and filet finished off by cheesecake and a chocolate brownie. One of the ladies at the table had brought her own wine and was filling everyone's glass. I was more than happy to taste the wine. Near the end of dinner, the waiters broke out into a Mambo dance in which most of the diners (including Janette and myself) grabbed an unfamiliar waist in front of us and began dancing around the main dining hall. Our waiter was a big ham and was the most animated of the waiters. After dinner the photographers were staging photos in front of a backdrop of the Titanic stairwell. We got to don period costumes and had our picture taken. It turned out pretty good actually. I didn't mind spending $19.95 on this photo. After walking around the ship, we headed to bed. Day 5 - At Sea. We had our only breakfast in the main dining area. By chance we had our evening waiter, Sayit the Ham. He was more low key (Thank God) and our breakfast was wonderful. The eggs were fresher than the Windjammer and the service was top notch. After breakfast, we picked up some of our photos including the photo from formal night where for some reason I looked like Elvis. We played some ping pong, soaked in the huge fitness center jacuzzi and reluctantly weighed ourselves. Much to our amazement, we only gained 2 lbs apiece. A miracle considering the gluttons we were. We did do a lot of physical activity, so that may explain it. We decided to order room service lunch. We ordered pizza, hot dogs and cookies. The staple to any nutritious diet. We had read in earlier review that the Ice show was "not to be missed", so we asked out stateroom attendant (who was awesome!) to get us some tickets. She had them on our bed by 3:00 pm that same day. The show started at 5:00 and we were there 20 minutes early with a drink of the day in hand to get a good seat. The show began and I was totally amazed. A lot better than I would have expected. They hired some very talented skaters. Great show. After the show, we proceeded to lose $80 at the casino. No big deal....we were still way up! That evening we went to the Schooner Bar to see "Barry from Boston" play some Elton John hits. He was ok. Very cookie cutter lounge singer. Dinner tonight was at Portofinos. We reserved Portofinos the first night we were on board and even that early, it was almost completely booked. We managed to get a 7:30 reservation. We were excited to eat here because of all the positive reviews I had read. Man, I was not disappointed! From the moment you are greeted at the door, you are dipped into an ambiance of elegance, class and service. They take tremendous pride in the 'little' details of making your experience a memorable one. We soaked in every nuance of our dinner. From the 4 different types of bread they start you off with, to the 4 courses that delighted our palate to the dessert tray that had us shaking our heads in pleasant disbelief, it was one of the finer dining experiences I have ever had. Even if the food was just adequate, the service alone was enough to make this night one of the more memorable nights in our vacation memories. We called the maitre'd over to praise her staff and she was just beaming. She said that meant so much to her and that was their goal. After that fantastic dinner, we headed over to the Connoisseurs Club for my last cigar of the cruise. Just completing my dining experience...(my wife is awesome by the way! she hates smoke and was a trooper when I indulged in my cigars). Around midnight we headed to the nightclub called Jesters. It was 80's night, which suited us just fine and we danced the early morning hours away to Prince, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson and more! Afterwards we went down to the pool where we sat on a lounge chair under the stars and settled in....we were in bed shortly thereafter. Day 6 - Day 6 was interesting. Probably my favorite day on the trip. The Port was St. Maarten. We had our first and only snorkeling excursion at 1:15 pm so we had the morning to explore the island. We did that by renting a jeep right off the pier. That was an interesting event, for when we approached the 6 windows of rental companies, we had reps calling out to us with different prices for our attention. "$40"! Yelled one guy. "$30" Yelled another....then I heard a woman yell "$10". Curious, my wife and I stopped at her window. I looked her in the eye and said "10 dollars? Are you sure". She politely said "No". We moved to the guy who quoted us "$30". For 30 bucks, we rented a jeep for an hour to tour the island. The island has a French side and the Dutch side (where the port was). Taking the road we jammed around the island. We stopped at a tucked away place where there were a few outdoor shops that sold Rum (what else), clothing, etc. We purchased some rum from this lady who hand decorated the bottles. They were awesome! Her 3-legged dog named Angel fell in love with my wife! There was also a one eyed cat. We must have been close to a nuclear waste dump or something. We then headed back. We met on the pier around 1 pm for our snorkeling excursion in Shipwreck Cove. The boat pulled up and there was a crew of 5 Rastafarians there to greet us with big smiles. We boarded and took a short trip to Shipwreck Cove. Even the name of the Cove was inspiring enough. We arrived and dropped anchor. My wife was terrified because she hates getting her head wet in fear of water going up her nose. The mask solved that problem. We geared up and in the water we went. The water was crystal clear! Not like the California beaches we were used to. We swam around in a group of about 20 and saw various shipwrecks from WWII and other older ones. We were in about 20 feet of water so I was able to dive down and touch the ships. There were a school of curious (and hungry) fish following us a! round. My wife was a trooper and did very well. She really enjoyed it. There was a 5 foot barracuda that was following our group around which unnerved some of them. There was also a large Mahi Mahi that was hanging around. If he only knew how delicious he was, he might think twice about hanging around humans. Afterwards we took the boat home and a couple of the crew made some "rum punch" for those who wanted to drink. I was one of those. I had about 4 or 5 of them. Drinking them like fruit juice. Trust me, they weren't fruit juice. My wife claimed later that my speech was slurred and I walked into a pole. I had to take her word for it. All I know was, I was feeling pretty good! After we docked, I stumbled off the boat and we boarded Adventure once again. We took showers in our stateroom and got ready for our 5:00 pm couples massage. We were really looking forward to this! Still fairly intoxicated I joined my wife at the couples massage. We waited in what they call "The Relaxation Room". Our 2 massage therapists came in and said "are you ready"? There was one guy and one girl. Being a typical guy, I thought to myself "There is no way I am letting some dude give me a massage"! We went into the massage room and they told us to dress down to our skivies and get under the sheets. My wife then told me that she would feel more comfortable with the female masseuse. After a couple minutes of my futile attempt to win the argument...I was stuck with the guy. Stiff as a board I laid there and let him dig his elbows into my back and shoulders. Remember, I was still pretty buzzed so this was a bit surreal for me. Getting a couples massage from some dude from Australia while fueled by Rum Punch. After about 15 minutes I let my guard down and around the 30 minute mark I was snoring. After my wife woke me up we paid the $260 charge and headed to Johnny Rockets for dinner. Another fantastic meal at JR! A bacon burger and a vanilla malt for me this time! My wife had a burger and Strawberry shake. Who cares about the few dollar cover charge, that's some good eating! We were the only ones in the restaurant while a thunder storm carried on outside. We walked around the ship and went to bed. Day 7 - St. Thomas. We had to do an immigration check at 7:30 which was a bit inconvenient but expected after 9-11. We had a bike tour on Water Island at 9:30 so we had breakfast then headed out. There were only 4 of us in the group. Water Island is about a 20 minute ferry ride from St. Thomas. We had a nice guide and arrived at the island. The bike tour was fun but a bit too much work for our 7th day on a cruise while hung-over. I don't recommend it. We played on honeymoon beach and headed back. In St Thomas we took a cab to the world famous Megan's Bay. Rated one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. It was a gorgeous beach with a stunning backdrop. After an hour or so, we snuck onto a tour bus and headed back to the ship. The driver was hilarious and thought he was a comedian. He drove like a madman and almost killed the entire group 3 or 4 times with his reckless driving. We got back to the ship around 4 pm and were exhausted! We decided to order room service dinner and eat on our balcony. Went to the casino afterwards and lost $100 in about 15 minutes. We then put our gratuities into envelopes and delivered them to our waiters and stateroom attendant. Our stateroom attendant was the highlight of the service group. She was awesome! We packed, placed our bags outside our room and fell asleep within 5 minutes of our heads hitting the pillows. Day 8 - Debarking. We had a flight out of San Juan at noon so we were one of the first groups off the ship. We got off quickly, hailed a cab and headed for the airport. We had to wait at the terminal for a couple of hours and killed time by playing cards and reading. We then boarded the plane on with our first class tickets and rode first class back to Los Angeles. Our first first class trip ever! Just amazing! We arrived home safe and sound. Our pets were doing fine and our house didn't catch on fire. Overall. Had a wonderful and memorable trip! A great anniversary with the love of my life! Cruises are simple...you get what you put into it.

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Apr 16, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Weather great. Service excellent Food Good. Ship is on its 229 cruise and starting to look a little "worn", but still very nice. Main tip I would pass on is that in each port we were in, we elected not to do the "tours" of different places offered by Royal Caribbean which I felt were ridiculously overpriced for what little you got. Instead, using guide books and the internet, we simply planned what beach or place we wanted to go to each

day, walked off the ship and hopped on a taxi, asked what the price would be (having a general idea of what it should be) and off we went. MUCH easier and cheaper and can come and go as you please. Quite a long line 30-45 min. getting off the ship, go as soon as your number is called! Overall went smoothly though

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Feb 26, 2006

Southern Caribbean

Background: This was our 5th cruise, our 3rd with Royal Caribbean, the first on Adventure of the Seas. We’re a 30-something couple with two kids, ages 5 and nearly 3. All four of us went. The ship / facilities: This was the biggest cruise ship we’ve ever been on, and we were somewhat worried about feeling crowded. Actuality was quite the opposite – we felt the least crowded as we have ever been on a cruise ship. There were so

many different and diverse things to do onboard (mini-golf, sports court, ice skating, casino, shows, shopping, movies, kids pool and waterslide, pool, bars, gym, spa, etc) that people tended to be very spread out – never nearly everyone onboard in all one spot like some cruises. Even though I didn’t personally use all the facilities (not sure you can in a week), I really appreciated that they were there. Makes for a very “open” ship. The food: Dining room is standard cruise ship fare. Not five star (if expecting that, RCL is not your cruise line – keep what you get in perspective to what you pay), but decent and certainly better than we eat at home. Johnny Rockets makes an excellent burger, and Portofino’s is well worth the $20 additional fee (had a great filet mignon). Additional dining tip: Bring your own wine. For a $12 corking fee, they’ll serve the wine you brought onboard at dinner. Although the onboard wine prices weren’t terrible (what you might expect at a local restaurant), buying your own at home +$12 is still generally cheaper. The entertainment: The ice show was by far the best, not to be missed. Very well done, quality skaters (think about what it takes to pull off triple jumps on a moving ship on relatively small ice). Big theater shows were decent, but again, standard cruise ship stuff. Kids programs: “Adventure Ocean” (the Royal Caribbean kids program) was the absolute best thing about the cruise. Although not quite three (stated minimum for the program), they did take our son into the program (he is fully potty trained, which is a non-negotiable requirement). Our kids LOVED it. They stayed over dinner a couple of times, (they take the kids to Johnny Rockets), spent some afternoons there during the two sea days, spent all day in St. Martin there. Great staff, great activities, all included in the base cruise fare. Couldn’t keep our daughter away. Kids have fun, parents get some time to go off by themselves, both on and off the ship. The “Adventure Ocean” program is the single largest reason we’ll be back with Royal Caribbean. The ports / excursions: Nothing booked through the cruise line. If you’re willing to do a little advance homework and look around, nearly everything the cruise ship offers can be booked directly for cheaper, even considering transportation. Everything described below also available through the cruise ship. Aruba: Went on the “Jolly Pirates” sail, snorkel and (rope) swing trip. Big pirate looking sailboat, holds maybe 40. Three swimming and snorkeling spots, plus lunch and drinks. Highlight was snorkeling at the “Atilla”, an old German wreck. Low light was lunch, very dry, room temperature chicken breast. Curacao: Went to the Sea Aquarium. Very reasonable in price, very interactive. Highlights include the sea lion and dolphin training demonstrations. At no extra cost, were also able to sign up for a kiss from a sea lion at the end of the show (we did buy the picture….). Compares very favorably with Sea World in my opinion (been there too) at 1/3 the price and 1/20 of the crowds. St. Martin / Maarten: Kids got left at Adventure Ocean and we went to Orient Beach. Yes, THAT beach, and THAT part of the beach – the nude beach, and yes, we fully participated. Orient Beach is among the best beaches anywhere in my opinion. The clothing optional (nude) section in front of Club Orient is generally far less crowded than the more covered section, almost alone reason enough to go to that part. People there are pretty typical of those that you’d see anywhere, which is to say mostly middle aged and nothing special to look at – which is precisely the point. Anyone expecting to be titillated will be disappointed. If you’ve never swam naked in a tropical sea, laid out nude in the Caribbean sun, try it, you won’t regret it. Shedding the clothes in this situation (far from home, around other naked people who you’ll never see again) is easier than you think. We walked off the beach feeling more relaxed than we’d been in a long time, could barely move a muscle. Did some shopping in Phillipsbug on the way back. Best shopping in the Caribbean (cheapest alcohol and jewelry) in my opinion. St. Thomas: Went to Coral World. Not nearly as nice as the Sea Aquarium in Curacao in my opinion, but decent value for the money. Highlight was the open water “aquarium”, which was an open water undersea observatory maybe 50 yards offshore in ~15 ft of water. Surrounded by coral, it was neat knowing that none of the fish or features were just dropped in a tank, and you truly might see anything. Coral World also has some traditional aquariums, but not nearly as cool. Also did some shopping in Charlotte Amalie. Decent, but not quite as good as St. Marteen. Overall: We really, really enjoyed ourselves on this cruise, one of our best ever. Right up there with our first during the honeymoon. Adventure Ocean really made the trip, both us and our kids had more fun at times off on our own. We loved the flexibility to be able to do stuff and be with our kids, but also keep the “mommy / daddy” time too. Adventure of the Seas is a great ship and I’d recommend it for anyone, but I’ll especially recommend for young families.

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Feb 5, 2006

Southern Caribbean

This was our 4th cruise (2nd on Royal Caribbean) - we had a great time. We arranged our own air to San Jaun, we arrived at noon thinking we could not board the ship until 4 pm, but there was a RCC representative at baggage claim, they took our luggage and told us we could indeed board the ship now. They took us to the ship, we boarded with minimal waits, and we had lunch onboard. The only catch of going onboard earlier than 4pm is that

you cannot get into your stateroom before 2 pm. That seemed fair to me, I was just glad to be onboard instead of finding things to do for 4 hours. The stateroom (number 8590) was in a great location. Only complaint is that the loveseat in the room is terribly uncomfortable and they really needed a new mattress on the bed. The bathroom could not get any smaller, the balcony is great. We ordered breakfast room service the days we were at sea and really enjoyed eating it on the balcony. They had plenty of activites onboard. I did see the rock climbing wall and ice rink (although I did use use either), they had an ice skating show a couple of evenings which we did not attend. We did see the show every night in the Lyric theatre, a different one every night, it was OK, however the Las Vegas reveiw type shows really are not good. They tend to be monopolized by a few who are constantly singing, like 5 songs each, which makes the show drag on. As far as bingo goes, I love bingo but I have no idea why the packages of cards are so much money (you get a choice between a $35 or $50 package). That is a lot of money when the prize is $150. The food was great, we ate breakfast at the Windjammer, dinner in the dining room. There is a place on the promenade that has snacks 24 hours a day as well as coffee, tea. hot chocolate and pizza and deserts. Don't buy any coffee at the Seattle coffee place, the free stuff is right next door. The ports - Aruba was great - don't miss "Let's Go Latin" a review at the Crystal Theatre. It was fantastic - the dancing was great - I have never seen such pep in dancers. It was worth the money. During the day we took a taxi to Palm Beach, rented a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella. We didn't do a tour since we have been there in the past. Curacao was OK, the moving bridge that gets you to the shopping was out of order- but they have a free water taxi to the downtown which was nice. We took a tour of the island in the afternoon - it was OK. St. Martin was my favorite shopping place. The beach and the shopping are on the same street - you take a $5 water taxi from the shop to downtown. St. Thomas - well that is another story. Never again will I shop in St. Thomas. The people were so aggressive, it made the whole shopping thing very unpleasant. They hound you constantly, you can't even stop to look at your map or think about where you want to go without someone talking to you, hounding you, offering you bargain prices t-shirts, etc. etc. Stay away from St. Thomas shopping. I am glad that was our last stop and I had purchases souvenirs and the like. As far as "shopping Shelby" was concerned I felt she gave us a lot of good tips, she had 2 meetings (one for shopping in Aruba and Curacao and one for shopping in St. Martin and St. Thomas) she gave us maps and tips on where to go for a good deal (I have no idea if she is getting kickbacks from all that!!), but I found her talks informative, very informative. She also has a desk near guest relations and she is there in the evenings if you have any questions for us. She is very high energy, perfect for that job. All in all we loved the trip. If you can take the trip to St. John and snorkel at Trunk Bay at the underwater snorkeling trail, it was so good. We also took a boat called the Golden Eagle (in St. Martin) to an island for swimming and snorkeling - it was very nice, the water was beautiful. One thing I was sick of was the tipping. Every time you went off the ship people expected a tips. It was out of control. It's like we paid $150 for the 2 of us to snorkel on St. Martin and then they are advertising that tips are appreciated and accepted. Why must we tip when we have paid all that for a tour? Even the water taxi people in St. Martin - you pay $5 for the taxi - then at the steps when you depart there are 2 containers for tips. I think - why must we tip for people to do their job? Skip all the tips. The only person we tipped was the tour driver in San Juan. He was great - very informative and went out of his way for us. He was so nice. I thought everyone was great - I would highly recommended the cruise.

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Jan 22, 2006

Southern Caribbean

It was a lovely ship and as others have said and there is plenty of room for all . First some observations about Royal Caribbean, then the destinations. While Royal Caribbean does a lot of things well after a while you get the feeling they have their hand in your pocket the entire trip, for example $45.00 usd pop package (yes that's for pop), so you can drink as much pop as you want so long as you lug around a travel mug. If this

sounds like a rip off, it is They have a wine package at several levels from about 150.00 USD to $250.00, which gives you your choice of 5 to 10 bottles from a selected list. First thing to learn is that all bottles are not necessarily available despite being on the display. The Pino Grigio I wanted wasn't available so ended up with a lousy Chardonnay and the rest of the selection on the white side isn't that great. In VERY SMALL print is a mentioned that they will allow wine to be brought on board and used in the dining rooms for a $12.00 usd corkage fee. This is a better deal. Load up on decent wines ( French Martin has a great selection at a good price - try the store Gout de Vin ) and bring it on board. The line confiscates all liquor brought on the ship and will hand it over as you leave ( this way they get you to pay $ 6.50 usd for a scotch ). However INSIDE the loading terminal in San Juan is a duty free shop which has not bad prices for the hard stuff. So leave some room in your carry on luggage and pack it in there as they don't check the immediate luggage loading. In fact the guys at the duity free will tell you this as well. We went to the BINGO as it was raining but at $ 35.00 USD TO PLAY BINGO we decided to skip it. Now it was tempting as the prize was $ 1,500.00 but what they didn't say at the start is that you have to get the BINGO in less than 45 numbers or you only get about $ 150.00. As far as information sessions about the islands etc prior to arrival - NOTHING. Only the seemingly never ending spiel from " Shopoing Shelby" who is flogging a $ 20.00 passport which gets you coupons similar to the ones you can get at the tourist information booth on arrival at each island for free. If you ever wanted to know what happens to the Home Shopping Channel staff once they grow too aggressive for TV now you know. In a nutshell that is the problem with the cruise - it was a never ending pitch to get your cash. Even a " horse race " next to pool cost $ 5.00 to bet ! Celebrity and Princess pay far more attention to its clients requirements for information. A simple example is that the Adventure of the Seas has a wonderful Art selection but do you think they would organize a tour - no chance even though we had 2 days at sea. Aruba - skip the tour and hire a cab as you can see the whole place in 45 minutes (which we did ). By the way the natural bridge fell down last year. Curacao - ignore the huge polluting oil refinery and it's a wonderful place. Like giving Amsterdam a coat of bright paint and a lot better weather. There is a fish market and a delightful hotel called Kula Hulanga ( I'll tell you how to locate this stuff at the end.) St Martin - the best of the islands the French side is a delight and the best place for shopping - it is 30% cheaper than St Thomas. Wonderful stylish women's clothing I was told ( and the Visa bares this out ). St Thomas a disappointment as far to many hucksters (70% off jewelry , are they kidding ) Do your shopping in St Martin and take an island outing to St John. Finally when booking a cruise check to see how many ships will be in each port the same day as yours and whether there are any holidays. The day prior to our arrival in St Thomas 5 cruise chips landed about 12,000 touristas into an area 1 mile wide and three blocks deep. Absolute Chaos. While the day after we arrived in Aruba it was the National Day and EVERYTHING was going to be closed. For a great guide book locate Caribbean Ports of Call it is a wonderful guide. It told us about the Hulanga Hotel, which is actually several blocks of Curacao that has been turned into a hotel, restaurant, museum complex. It is simply an amazing atmosphere and lunch (although expensive) is an experience. I wish you well and a Great Holiday. By the way we saw the Windstar ships in St Thomas and they looked amazing.

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Jan 15, 2006

Southern Caribbean

My wife and I flew into San Juan a day early and stayed at the Caribe Hilton. Great hotel and the food at Morton's Steakhouse was wonderful. We left the hotel at 1:30pm and were on the ship walking around at 1:50pm. Our room was ready at 2:00 pm. We had a junior suite and I highly recommend spending the extra money for the room and comfort. our ports of call were Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. All of the ports were nice and

we found the best jewelry prices in St. Maarten. The food and the service on the Adventure of the Seas was better than any of our previous cruises. I had some reservations about the number of people but I never felt crowded our rushed. There was always a seat in the Windjammer, at the pool and at the shows. This was the best cruise I had ever taken!

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By Dan_CR

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Jan 8, 2006

Southern Caribbean

My wife and I recently returned from the 7-Night Southern Caribbean itinerary aboard Royal Caribbean’s beautiful Eagle-class ship, Adventure of the Seas. This was our second cruise. The first was last March on Norwegian. We arrived in San Juan PR the day prior to sailing (Saturday) as did our friends. Our friends used the option to include airfare and transportation from the ship to the airport after the cruise. I am not sure if because

they arrived a day early that option was not available to bring them to the hotel, or if the hotel we stayed at was not part of the RCCL package. You will have to check with RCCL if you wish to have ground transportation set up prior. My wife and I arranged our own travel. Getting a cab was easy and not all that expensive. It cost $20 for a cab from the airport to the Sheraton Old San Juan. Nice hotel and easy location to the town and several of the piers. Plus it was the least expensive by far. I think the pier used depends on ship traffic. We embarked and disembarked from the Pan American Pier, which will require a cab ride. Other piers are located directly across the street from this hotel. Sunday boarding began at 2pm which allowed us to walk around town some more and go to Fort San Cristobal before heading to the ship. The hotel will hold all bags and arrange cabs for you. The fare for the cabs is based on car load and bags, not per person. Don’t eat lunch though – you can get that free on the ship after you board! The boarding process had its problems. Arriving at the pier there were no signs directing you where to go. Further, there were no Royal Caribbean personnel helping either. This was in stark contrast to our Norwegian cruise where you stepped from the cab, and were immediately greeted and your bags taken for you while being directed exactly where to go to get in line, through security, and onto the ship. Easy. This time you stepped into a mob of people and bags. Once finding what appeared to be a line to drop our bags off we then had to stand in another line to have our tickets and passports checked. The interesting thing here was my wife and I walked right into this line no questions asked, but our friends were stopped at the beginning of the line as well to show their passports. This seemed rather inconsistent. Some people were being stopped twice, others not at all. Once inside the pier is where you clear security and the process went fine from here on. Quickly and easily we got our Sea Pass cards and were off the ship. (For those unaware, Sea Pass cards are like a hotel room key that gets you on and off the ship and into your cabin. It is also linked up to your credit card for all your purchases onboard. So you really don’t need to carry anything other than your Sea Pass card. Norwegian had the same basic thing called an Embarkation Card. I would assume all cruise lines have the same basic thing). Once onboard, you realize quickly how big this ship is! There were plenty of RCCL employees around at the stairs and elevators to direct you to your cabin. We were on deck six, mid-ship, with a balcony. We recommend balcony cabins. Many people say all you do is sleep in your cabin, but it is relaxing to go back to your own view of the water, sunset, port or whatever. We had breakfast there a few times as well. Our friends were on deck six with an inside cabin and said they will get a balcony from now on. The other thing we suggest is getting onboard as early as you can. This allows you to start learning your way around the ship before you even leave the pier. Plus who needs the stress of rushing to the ship an hour before you leave. If you haven’t signed up for your shore excursions prior to arriving for your cruise, do it right when you get onboard. We had no trouble and booked all we wanted to do in about 5 minutes. This is probably true for anything else you want to do onboard as well as far as spa appointments or dinner reservations at the Italian specialty restaurant, Portofino. We never went to Portofino – the food in the main dining room was excellent and we figured why pay the up charge? I have read in other reviews that Portofino is worth the charge and it probably is. I have also read that the dining room food was only average, and this I would have to disagree with. We thought the main dining room food was excellent all week. Naturally the lobster tails on the Friday night were fairly small, but you can ask for more if you want more, they are happy to get you more of anything. The buffet was your typical buffet with parts of the menu being altered slightly each day it seemed. The one thing we didn’t like about the dining room was the assigned seating time. This was new to us as Norwegian is “free style” cruising allowing you to eat at whatever time you want. We were second seating which was at 8:30pm all week. This first seating was at 6:00pm and we figured that might be too rushed after getting back onboard from shore excursions perhaps as late as 5pm, depending on which port you are at. Turns out all the excursions we went on were early morning, but we still would have liked a 7:45 or even 8pm seating time. By the time we left the dining room it was 10pm or later. However, having the same time all week allowed us to get to know our waiters and learn about where they are from, etc. Hakan and George were great; too bad they can’t see the review…. Overall I was impressed with the cleanliness of the ship. Having 2,000 plus people, most of who appeared to be slobs, to clean up after I figure the staff did a great job keeping things clean. At the ports they even cleaned the outside of the windows! Each night the pool deck was power washed as well. And speaking of the pools, they were open 24 hours (except of course when cleaning was taking place). There is also a solarium that is reserved for adults only. It is kind of like a roman bath type pool and has two rather large hot tubs. The “adult’s only” rule was actually enforced too, for the most part. We were surrounded by about six 12-14 year olds at one point fairly late at night. They spoke Spanish so I guess they didn’t understand the signs. They weren’t being loud or obnoxious so it was no big deal to us Onboard entertainment was not as good as Norwegian. The ice rink was neat to see and I give the skaters credit for doing jumps and so forth when shifting around over the waves. The rest of the shows were not that great. Some of the selections needed large ensemble casts of 15 or more to work but were being done with 4 or 5. It seemed rather amateur. The quality of photography however was excellent. The only problem here was that all you could buy was the displayed picture. You couldn’t even get a different size. Norwegian allowed you make up whatever package you wanted. Some of the pictures we would have liked in 4x6 but were only available in 8x10 for example. As for the ports, each island got progressively better in our opinion. Aruba was a let down actually. We did a horseback riding excursion there that was nice but after that, just walking around the area was not all that impressive. Next was Curacao. Better than Aruba as far as appearance, but there was no easy way to a beach. We had been told that a beach was a five minute walk. No way. We went to the top of the ship and looked around – the only beach that looked walk-able distance was a hotel surrounded by factories and what appeared to be a junk yard! We guessed it would be at least a 25 minute walk….along the highway. After a second sea day, we arrived at St. Martin. Our excursion here was the America’s Cup Regatta. We highly recommend this!!! It features four of the America’s Cup boats from the 1987 America’s Cup race. Two are Canadian boats (True North and Canada II) and two are Stars and Stripes. The sailing you do is real too, or as real as they can with tourists onboard. You get going quite fast, boat tilted in the water and you are a working crew member, while the boats pass by each other within a foot or two. All in all, the best thing we did. The pier in St. Martin we were told can hold five or more ships making for what I assumed would be a mess of people….we were the only ship there that day. Last stop was St. Thomas. The ship docks a fairly easy walk (10 minutes) from the town. More of your typical shops and stores but you can get a cab to nearby hotels and enjoy the beach and water. Disembarkation seemed less organized than what we remember from the Norwegian cruise. Seemed you waited in stopped lines a lot even though we all had “assigned” times to leave the ship. Overall, we were impressed with RCCL and the Adventure of the Seas. The ship has a ton of places to go. The casino, bars, rock wall, inline skating, ice rink, pools, sun decks, gym, etc. One other neat feature was the Peek-a-Boo-Bridge. This was located one deck above the bridge and had a window looking down over the bridge. Get there early if you intend on watching a docking, as the area fills up quickly. I enjoyed watching from here and it is the next best thing to a full tour of the ‘behind the scenes’ of the ship – which is unfortunately not offered. An overall friendly staff makes the Adventure a great choice. We will definitely cruise on Royal Caribbean again in the future. I hope this was a help to someone and that you enjoy whichever cruise itinerary or cruise line you choose.

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Nov 20, 2005

Southern Caribbean

This was our 4th cruise in the past 16 years, 1st with children. Prior sailings were with Carnival (2) and Holland America. We are in our late 30’s and our children are 6, 9, and 12, traveling with extended family members for a total of 17 in our group. We were in a Grand Suite on deck 10 (#1256) and this was a Thanksgiving week cruise. Boarding the ship went very well. We arrived at the dock around 12:30 and we were on the ship by 1:00.

This was partly because of priority boarding for suite guests and partly because of the time. We were not able to go to our cabin until 2:00 so we went up to the pool deck and had a drink and explored the ship a little. After checking out our cabin (absolutely gorgeous and more than enough room for the 5 of us/beautiful marble bathroom with double sink and bathtub/shower and more than ample closet/storage space), we decided to get off the ship and go into Old San Juan. This was very easy to do and we were back on the ship by 5:00. Overall, we had an absolutely fantastic vacation. The staff on the ship was extremely friendly and really took an interest in our children. The Adventure Ocean kids club was a godsend! Our children absolutely loved the activities – never at a loss for something to do! The food in the dining room was comparable to other cruises we have been on, with the exception of Thanksgiving dinner. This left a lot to be desired. Should of got the salmon instead of turkey! We ate breakfast mostly in the Windjammer because of the great variety and fresh fruit. Because of an early arrival in St. Thomas and the need to go through immigration before going into port, we decided to have room service on this morning. We requested it for 7:30 a.m. and they called at 7:15 to say it was on its way and sure enough, it arrived fresh and hot by 7:30! I had read several reviews of this particular cruise prior to booking and I did have my reservations about leaving from Puerto Rico. Other family members were insistent on this itinerary so there wasn’t much choice for us. I do have to say that on this particular cruise there was probably a 60/40 ratio, Puerto Ricans/Americans (or others). This was apparently a big week for the 15 year old “coming out” celebration. There were large groups of Puerto Ricans who would congregate in the common areas and in the stairwells and it took several times of saying “excuse me” before they would move to the side. Also, no matter how many people were on the elevator they would squeeze on anyway. Also, other than the sail away party and one other night, the pool deck parties at night were geared towards Latin music and salsa dancing. We went to go to Jesters nightclub one night and it was all Latin/Spanish music and both times we went to watch karaoke it was all in Spanish. Every announcement on the ship was first said in English, and then repeated in Spanish. The entertainment was good, not your typical Las Vegas style dance shows. The ice show was okay to us. We are a figure skating family so to us it was just average. To the average person, you would think it is spectacular. As far as the ports of call, Curacao has a long way to go before I will ever return. We did the Highlights excursion offered by RCCL and it honestly was not worth the money. Yes, it was nice to see the village on the drive to the Curacao distillery, but there was really not much to see other than oil refineries (which is there main export – import the crude oil and export it out as oil!). The folklore dance demonstration was nice. In Aruba we rented a jeep and drove ourselves to the Natural Pool (Conchi trail), Natural Bridge (which we had no idea had collapsed) and to the lighthouse, stopping at a fort along the way. This was extremely fun and quite a thrilling ride – very rough, steep, rocky terrain! However, I was quite surprised at how dirty Aruba is. There was trash washed up all along the shore. Not just the occasional bottle or trash you might find at the beach, but piles of household trash. The people were very friendly. Aruba is not going on my list of places to see again anytime soon. St. Martin/St. Maarten and St. Thomas were both very beautiful. These are two of my favorite islands (4th time to each). In St. Martin we also rented a jeep so that we could see more and it was easier with the kids. We first drove to the French side and went to the beach at Bikini Beach at Orient Bay. This was very nice, the surf was right because of the wind direction, and we saw very little nudity. I know there are parts of Orient Beach where you will see a lot more nudity. From here we drove around the other side of the island and stopped in Marigot for lunch and shopping, then back to the ship, making several stops along the way. Pretty much the same in St. Thomas – did shopping first (go into town, not the Havensight mall area). Then go over to Megan’s Bay. This is one of the most beautiful beaches you will see. All in all, we loved the Adventure of the Seas. Yes, of course, as with any vacation, there were some drawbacks but we managed to overlook the negative things and had an absolutely great time. I wouldn’t say I will do this same cruise again, but I can say that I honestly don’t have anything negative to say regarding the ship itself, or its crew members. We will, however, definitely cruise with Royal Caribbean again, especially with our children.

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Nov 6, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Terrible Incident on Adventure of the Sea's. Be careful they may change your rugs while you are in port. Your clothes will remain in the closetand your luggage will be in the hallway! They did to at least 5 of us! Attached below please find the link that describes asthma and COPD. My COPD is a direct result of childhood asthma. On this site you can see the triggers i.e. Dust Mites. http://www.about-copd.com/html/copd-vs-asthma-symptoms.php3

On Thursday, November 10, 2005 our cabin steward Justin approached both my husband, Tom my daughter, Amanda and myself and asked us if it was possible for them to change our rugs while we were in port in St. Maarten. We said "NO". We informed Justin that they could change the rug in our cabin when we departed the ship on Sunday. After returning from the beach on St. Maarten on Friday, November 11, 2005 we were very surprised to see that our rugs were being replaced. Because of my Asthma and COPD it was impossible for me to return to this room A very small inside cabin was provided to us to shower in however, we were not able to retrieve any clothing from our cabin as they were hanging in our closet and were contaminated with dust mites. My husband and my daughter had to go to the cabin to retrieve my asthma medication. I am currently taking Advair, Xeopenex and Pulmicort along with a rescue Proventil inhaler. I am only required to use the Xeopenex and Pulmicort in a breathing machine when something triggers an attack (I packed this in my suitcase just in case). Guest relations had all of our clothes dry-cleaned this process took approximately 3 hours. I ended up sitting totally naked with only a robe until this process was completed. Additionally, I had to request this robe it was not even offered to me! Our original cabin was 265 square feet and was able to accommodate the three of us (note that my daughter is only 15). We were then moved to two small cabins 9600 and 9602 while I was still in a robe. Since these cabins could only accommodate 2 passengers it was necessary for me to bunk with my 15 year old daughter rather than my husband. We finally received our clothes back and we received a knock on the door. I was partially dressed and my husband was not. I answered the door and standing outside the cabin was the Guest relations manager Arlee, the chief guy in charge of housekeeping and Justin our cabin steward. It felt like an interrogation! My husband and I explained that we told Justin that it was not possible to change our rugs period. Arlee the guest relation's manager indicated that if they knew that I had this condition this would not have happened. I did not feel that it was my responsibility to explain the reason why we said no to the rug change. My husband indicated that as part of a corrective action that Royal Caribbean should put something in writing and require signatures to avoid this from ever happening to another passenger. We missed dinner with friends we had made on this cruise and attended second seating dinner. When I approached Arlee the next morning to find out what was going to be done about our situation and that reminded her about our proposed corrective action she indicated that there was a letter that was supposedly sent to our room. I advised Arlee that we did not receive a copy of this letter and asked that one be sent to our room. I further indicated that our steward should be written up at this point, as he did not do his job! This situation has caused a lot of stress on the last days of our vacation. I cannot believe that Royal Caribbean would rent out a room and expect anyone to be inconvenience with a rug change. Unfortunately, for my family and me it was not that simple as there were medical reasons behind our not agreeing to this maintenance. To think we would allow the rug change given my medical condition is completely ludicrous. I await your reply. Additionally, please forward a copy of the incident report that was provided to you from the ship. Please note that prior to this incident we applied to be members of your Gold Anchor club. Thanks In Advance, Kathy Would never sail with RCCL again! This trip cost me over $8,000.00, I went to relieve my stress but came back from my vacation more stressed since I spent so much money and my vacation ended up ruined!

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Jul 10, 2005

Southern Caribbean

The ship is big and beautiful - this was our 2nd RCCL cruise - we also cruised on Princess and Carnival cruises to the Caribbean. I will only comment on the ship - not the ports - been to them and saw most of them before. We flew to San Juan from Boston on the date of sailing requiring a 4am wakeup to arrive in san Juan at 11am. We had paid for the airport to ship transfers and the ship had representatives at the airport to meet people

and gudie them to shuttle busses. I found the entire airport to shipboard registration a negative experience - the worst of our 4 cruises (2 out of San Juan , 2 out of Miami). I suspect part of the problem lies in the logistics of unboarding and boarding up to 3500 passengers in one day - of course a certain number of the 3500 passenger capacity are on 2 week or longer itineraries so the entire 3500 passenger capacity is probably rarely turned over in any one week. There appeared to be some disorganization at the airport because there seemed to be too few ship representatives at the airport guiding the passengers to the shuttle busses. The lack of ship personnel at the dock was more noticeable and made hundreds if not more than a thousand passengers wait outside the pre-boarding air-conditioned building at the dock for up to a couple of hours. During this period there was a severe tropical downpour that lasted about 30 minutes. I was already in the air-conditioned building along with maybe another 1000 passengers waiting for 2pm to arrive so boarding could begin. Fortunately there was seating for all of us and complimentary beverages and cookies. However there were only 2 xray screening lines for all those passengers and once the early arrivals filled the air-conditioned waiting area - everyone else had to stand outside. I was told by a ship's officer who is a manager in the windjammer he saw a very long line on the dock outside and took it upon himself to open up some of the eating areas sooner than originally planned. Many passengers I spoke to about this boarding problem were like me very disapproving of how it was handled. During the time I waited outside the security area before getting my SeaPass, I saw only 1 ships officer on the dock outside the security dockside area - and many people were confused where the lines started and ended, and a bunch of dockside workers with blue tshirts seemed to be answering questions but were not well organized. On prior trips, especially my last trip on Carnival - the pre-boarding ran like clockwork with no confusion whasoever. Grade for boarding coordination and organization on a scale of A to F - C- Service on the ship once on board was always very good - but not excellent - see comment at the end below - Grade B+ Communication to passengers - grade A - during this week Hurricane Emily crossed our path East to West while we had to go north to St Maarten from Curacao. The captain made sure that passengers were well aware of the circumstances and what his intentions were to avoid the storm - and we lucked out only encountering some high winds and a little rain - a little roughness - but no extreme seas. Food in the dining room Grade B- - a dinner of duck was dry (I have cooked better and more tasty duck), a dinner of lamb was as tough as mutton, and good old fashioned pie was on the desert menu only once or twice. The dining room I learned was on 3 decks - with a spectacular 2 story chandelier in the center - the dining areas are appointed beautifully - we were so fortunately to have a window-side table. The head waiter told me there is a gally on each deck of the dining room - which could mean that food quality varied from deck to deck - but there is no way for me to know this. The captain's table is under the chandelier on the lowest of the 3 decks - I do not know if that menu was any different or if the food tasted better. I know if I was the captain - I would want my best chef on my level. Go figure. Windjammer food - overall more tasty and more variety than the dining room. Grade B+. I found the scrambled eggs consistently more watery than desirable every day I tried them. The sauces and various more complex dishes (as opposed to burgers, fries, dogs - which I do not go on a cruise to eat - ) The soups were outstanding. The desserts were of the more common variety than the dining room but I enjoyed them more. Beverage policy - Grade D - I learned that last fall a new non-alcoholic beverage policy was put into place for carbonated and juices. You either pay $1.50 for each coke, sprite, etc or you buy a unlimited beverage sticker for your Sea-Pass - it costed about $95 for my wife and I for the 7 days and includes a 15% gratuity. As a bonus a metal drinking mug - about 12 ounces - with the Coke logo - was given to people who bought the unlimited coke sticker. This really rubbed us raw - that after paying about $1000 pp the ship dings us about $47 per person for carbonated drinks. Every passenger I talked to about this also was at the very minimum irritated to disgusted about this policy. Entertainment - Grade B - we saw very good stage shows in a wonderful theater - the largest shipboard theater I have seen - with no blocking pillars - which was the case on Princess. On my carnival cruise before every live show they sold bingo cards - but there was none of that on AOTSeas - whew! We saw two very good ice shows at the ice rink. The live shows with imported talent were excellent - the Platters and a Las Vegas singer - but the two elaborate dancing shows put on by the ships dance and singing troop were well choreographed, technically complex and technically excellent - but either boring or not completely thought out. I thought the live troupe shows on Carnival were better. The lead male singer has to go. GO. Go. For some reason the welcome show on Sunday nite was not scheduled until 1030 or 1045 pm - which was very late. On prior cruises this show was always scheduled for 930pm or earlier. THe cruise director - a very live wire and good looking woman - knows that a lot of people started the day REALLY early on the first cruise day - and should never schedule the welcome show that late. Ships' layout - A The sheer size of the ship allows for a sort of main street of shops in the middle of the ship about 100 yards long with a 3 story high atrium with inside staterooms overlooking the promenade area - it gives a central focus to activities. Main Pool area - (there is actually a 2nd pool area for adults on the same deck in a Roman theme flanked by 2 hot tubs) big and noisy - needs a water slide - Always could fing a lounge chair as the area is so big. Grade B+ Rock wall, basketball court - miniature golf - roller blading - did not use these - they look great for people who did use them. Non-alcoholic beer - there are a few of us that drink it - and for various reasons we either cannot or do not drink alcohol. I drink it and do not drink alcoholic beverages. ODoul's is the absolute worst of the NA beers - and that is all they had. Although there were probably 20 regular beers, 60-100 different wines and who knows how many hard liquor choices on board. In better restaurants I have been to - such at the Oak Room in Boston or Mortons steak houses at least two or three choices are offered that usually include Clausthauler and Haecke Becke or St Pauli Girl which I consider the best of breed. I brought this matter to the attention of my beer waiter - he did not do anything about this - even though we docked at 4 ports that week . You would think that a case of NA beer could be found at one of those 4 ports. This is a perfect example that distinguishes good service from excellent service. Overall our experience is Grade B - the boarding, dining room , dance troupe, large crowds and NA beer are the reasons. We may or may not go to another cruise line next time.

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Jul 3, 2005

Southern Caribbean

We just returned from a 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise aboard RCCL’s Adventure of the Seas, which was a combination graduation present for our 18-year old daughter, and a celebration for our son’s 15th birthday on July 4. We have cruised with RCCL and Celebrity on three previous occasions, but this was our first experience aboard a Voyager-class ship. I admit that I was apprehensive to cruise with 3,000+ passengers when we booked

this itinerary, but this ship was so huge and well-designed, I never felt overwhelmed by the number of passengers onboard. We decided to stay overnight in San Juan a day prior to departure, which I would strongly suggest to anyone departing from this port. Old San Juan has quite a few tourist amenities, and it’s comforting to know that both you and your luggage have arrived safely, and in plenty of time for your cruise departure the next day. Adventure arrived in San Juan port early Sunday morning from its previous week’s itinerary, and since check out in our hotel was at noon, we decided to take a cab from the hotel to the ship and take our chances for an early embarkation. We were fortunate…we stood in line for only 15 minutes or so, and then the line started moving as they opened up the ship for early embarkation at approximately 12:30PM. We were impressed with the efficiency of the staff during the check-in procedure…after taking a quick tour through the ship, we were enjoying an early lunch in the Windjammer prior to 1:00PM. Since our stateroom corridors were still off limits until mid-afternoon, we continued to tour this immense ship after lunch to familiarize ourselves with the deck layouts and take in all of her beautiful, functional furnishings. Our cabin was available by 2:30, but our luggage did not arrive until close to 5:00PM. First-seating dinner was delayed until 6:30PM the first evening, probably as a planned precaution for late arrivals. The mandatory mustering drill was scheduled between dinner seating, and then Adventure set sail for St. Thomas promptly at 10:00PM. My wife and daughter had booked a parasailing excursion at St. Thomas (through Sky Pirates), and enjoyed it immensely even in the stiff wind. We spent the afternoon snorkeling at Coki Beach (calm water, great visibility) with numerous fish in the area, due to it’s proximity to the Coral World Aquarium attraction. It began to rain, so we took a cab back to the port and shopped for awhile before boarding the ship for its 5:30PM departure for St. Maarten. We felt the effects of the wind in St. Maarten, which was probably due to the outer bands of Hurricane Dennis located a few hundred miles to the south. The weather that day was overcast and windy, and we were glad that we did not plan any shore excursions for that day. We slept in, and then took the water taxi into the Philipsburg shopping district to spend a few hours shopping prior to returning to the ship for the 5:30PM departure to Antigua. We discovered quite a few shopping bargains in St. Maarten if you take the time to compare prices, especially for jewelry. The weather in Antigua was much the same as St. Maarten for most of the morning, and then it began to improve throughout the afternoon. We booked the Kayak & Snorkel Eco Adventure as a family excursion, and would highly recommend this event to others. The ½-hour cab ride from the ship to the excursion location will take you through local villages and points of interest, and provide tourists with images of island life seldom seen from luxury hotels and cruise ship piers. Our tour operators were great…we witnessed sea-bird nesting sanctuaries on Bird Island, hiked up a small island hillside, spent time snorkeling off a deserted island, and kayaked through the mangrove thickets. After returning to their base camp, we were welcomed with a refreshing aroma-therapy towel to wash the salt off of our faces, and a unique nutmeg-induced rum punch. We then returned to the ship’s dock for some quick shopping (beware…very insistent sales people) prior to the 5:30PM departure for St. Lucia. The weather in St. Lucia was the week’s best. The harbor in Castries has the nearby shopping complex of Pointe Seraphine, which is very modern and clean. Since the weather was beautiful, we decided to spend a few hours at a beach, so we took a cab to Reduit Beach. I would highly recommend this white sand beach…clean, quiet, with lush surroundings, and calm, pristine waters. The kids rented a jet ski, and local vendors have all forms of water sports equipment available to rent. There was no charge to use this beach, and cab fare was only $4 per person, each way. We returned to shop at Pointe Seraphine for a while prior to departing for Barbados at 5:30PM. Barbados was enjoyable, because I accompanied my son on his first scuba dive while the women did some sight-seeing and shopped. We took the introductory course for non-certified divers, and received excellent instruction and supervision by our guides. We dived over wrecks and reefs in Folkstone Marine Park, and the fish and marine life we observed was spectacular. Back to the ship for 5:30 departure, for our return day at sea to San Juan. This itinerary was busy, but not overwhelming. We saw many new islands, each with their own distinct culture and appearance. I would suggest booking a few shore excursions that are of interest, but not every day. Our plans were flexible enough to enable us to get off the ship each day, but we could have easily stayed onboard for one or two days had we chosen to do so. The ship arrived in port each day at 7:30AM, so debarkation by 8:00AM was possible at every port. Now, let me summarize our shipboard experience…Adventure of the Seas was truly an impressive vessel. We have been onboard RCCL’s Empress and Enchantment on previous cruises, but nothing can compare with the immensity of the Voyager-class ships. The vessel appeared to be well maintained, well designed, and very efficient utilization of space to accommodate approximately 5,000 passengers and crew. Our ocean view stateroom was slightly larger than what we remembered from previous cruises, but still crowded for four people. Next time, we’ll consider booking two staterooms as our children are no longer kids anymore. The ship’s crew was outstanding…very friendly, efficient, and they all went out of their way to service the passengers. The food was above average and plentiful in both the dining room, and especially in the Windjammer and Island Grill. As compared with previous cruises, we noticed a larger selection of entrees in the Windjammer, and a slightly limited selection in the dining room. I would even say the quality of the food followed a similar comparison. Our dining room wait staff was very efficient and attentive, and we got to know each of them personally as the week progressed. Unfortunately, the service of our cabin steward had a few shortcomings, but this might have been due to something as simple as his lack of experience, didn’t feel well, etc. He did a good job, but not a great job. The ship offered numerous activities such as the arcade, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, miniature golf, in-line skating, etc., that our kids took full advantage of. The pools and deck areas were spacious, and much to my amazement, were not overly-crowded, even on our day at sea. I firmly believe that since there are so many available activities, lounges, promenades, etc., people disperse themselves throughout the ship’s numerous locations well enough so as not to congregate in any specific areas. As I stated before, I was apprehensive of cruising with so many passengers, but I quickly overcame this concern. The evening entertainment (mostly comedians, RCCL singers and dancers) was good, with the Ice Show being the most memorable…don’t miss it. In summary, this cruise and ship met all of our expectations, and then some. I have no major complaints, and hopefully have offered several compliments. I would highly recommend this vessel and this itinerary to anyone who is in search of good value and a rewarding cruise experience. I trust that this review will be beneficial for anyone considering (or already booked) on this ship or itinerary…similar reviews were helpful for me when planning our trip. Feel free to contact me by email for any specific details. it.

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Jul 3, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Great cruise. Pity about one of the excursions. While most excursions were fun we run out of luck in St. Thomas when we took the BOB Underwater Adventure. Not only any good snorkeling tour is better than this gimmicky tour, but also the captain of our boat turned out to be a prankster and budding comedian. He had a large water gun with which he blasted people when they least expected it. It’s a bad idea and his behavior was thoroughly

unprofessional. He splashed us and ruined our camera and cell phone, and when I contacted Bob Underwater Adventure about it they blew me off. Replacement cost was over $600, not to mention the inconvenience of having one’s phone and camera disabled on the first day of the vacation. We expected to get wet during this excursion but not on a stationary boat on a calm sea and while listening to the captain’s briefing. While it would be nice to have a BOB scooter for the whole day, the time you get to on it is much too short after going to all the trouble to learn how to use it. It’s much ado about nothing. Skip it. Royal Caribbean delivers an up-market experience, and this particular cruise is one of the best, especially in the summer when the hot Caribbean is less oppressing in the small islands where a breeze blows most of the time. St. Thomas is great; don't miss Magens Bay Beach, where you see flying fish next to you and trip over starfish. St. Maarten is great for shopping, but forget the French side, if you have only one day spend it on the Dutch side. Antigua is in a sorry state, grab a cab to to Runway Beach or Half Moon Beach and keep away from the towns where only misery and hawkers are in attendance. St. Lucia has the best geography and vegetation, it's simply stunning. We took the Land and Sea tour which is excellent. Travel on land to Soufrieres , good buffet lunch, and then back by sea with free drinks with the great local rum, with a stop for snorkeling. Barbados same as Antigua, stay on the beaches. We took the Swim with the Turtles tour, which is great and unlike the BOB tour delivers a great experience. Turtles are big, curious, and friendly. I can't wait to return to the Caribbean again. Truly paradise if you make the right choices.

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By Josh_CR

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Jun 19, 2005

Southern Caribbean

This was my third cruise, my first with Royal Caribbean and the first to the eastern Caribbean stopping at St. Thomas, St. Marrtine, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. I have cruised with Norwegian and Carnival previously. Prior to this cruise I had been checking numerous boards to get an idea of what this cruise might be like and found that there were not too many reviews that gave a lot of information. There were some but most just said

the food was good and the activities were fun. I decided that I would write one that was as detailed as I could get. This was my honeymoon cruise and also the first for my wife. We sailed out of San Juan, Puerto Rico on June 11th on the Adventure of the Seas. I am going to try to break up the review in to sections mainly dealing with food, service, activities, and appearance of the ship and over all enjoyment. First thought is actually getting to the ship. We arranged out flights through Royal Caribbean, this was the only down side I really had over all. We ended up sitting across from the aisle on our flight from Charlotte to San Juan. On the way home we were in totally different rows. So I suggest if you book your flights through Royal Caribbean call your airline as soon as you get the cruise book and verify your seats. We arrived in San Juan around 3:30 pm and got to the dock about 4 pm. They didn’t actually start embarking until 4 pm but we were able to get in line as soon as we got there. There were not a whole lot of people there so they just directed us to any line we wanted. We got stuck in some line that the people in front of us needed to ask every single unnecessary question they could think of. We finally got on about 4:20 and found out room. We had an inside room over looking the promenade. Let me tell you if you have had outside rooms with windows before and didn’t like them, the inside rooms with windows are totally different. We could look down over the promenade and could tell when people were going to dinner, what people were wearing, what they were selling that night and we also could watch the parades that they had at night. It was so worth it. After we saw out room we went exploring. We ate at the windjammer restaurant and really enjoyed the food. We also purchased the soda package, we figured that if we each drank 3-4 a day we would it would equal the cost of buying them separately. I know we drank more then that so for us it wound up be more cost effective. We also wanted to get more excursions but the line was really long but the nice thing is that you can get them from the RCTV in your room. Unfortunately some of the ones we wanted were already sold out. My suggestion is to buy them on-line before you go on the cruise. You can do until 10 days before the cruise leaves and that way its paid off before you even get there, if you buy them early enough. We got 2 before we came on board. That night we had dinner in the dinning room which was amazing looking. We were at a table for four which I first didn’t like because I enjoy talking with a lot of different people. However this turned out to be a great table. We were seated with another couple that was on their honeymoon, they had just gotten married the day before. We had a great time with them. I had read a few reviews that said that they were upset because of the amount of Puerto Ricans that were on the ship and the problems that they had with them. I never had any problems with anyone on this cruise. Usually I never noticed that there were almost 3000 people on board, only the last day at sea. I found that the people I did see were usually the same people over and over again. I also never noticed many kids running around and being annoying. But enough with that lets get to what everyone wants to know about, the food. I ate more then I should have, way more then I should have. The usual day was getting up around 8-9 depending on when our excursion was and skipping breakfast. Usually we would grab some fruit and that was fine. We ate breakfast one morning in the dinning room and it was good, but breakfast cooked for a large group of people is usually not as good as cooking for a small group, so I don’t really fault Royal Caribbean for that. Don’t get me wrong I was still very good but it’s hard to cook breakfast for a very large group of people. For lunch we ate in the dinning room one day, usually we were on excursions during lunch or trying to hurry back out for more shopping. The lunch was good, the steak sandwich I had was very taste and not to dry. They had a pasta bar that you could choose what paste you wanted, with what sauce and other extras. My wife had that and she loved it. We usually ate lunch in the windjammer and we usually ate way to much. If you didn’t get there during the actual lunch serving you most had salad, hamburgers, hotdogs, pasta, and deli sandwiches. It was very simple but it was good and you could eat as much as you wanted. They would also have something special each day, once was ribs, and another was spicy chicken breast. The windjammer is nice because it looks out over the back of the boat and you get a nice view of the ports and island. We also ate lunch at the Promenade Cafe a few times. This is the only food that is 24 hours a day on the ship. They have pizza, and sandwiches as well as deserts. It’s good food and makes a great snack. You can also get fruit here too, they had whole kiwi that you could get too. We did eat dinner in the dinning room every night. The food was wonderful. Yes you might be able to get a better cut of meat at a restaurant here in the states but I would say that even though it was not a 5 start dinner it came very close. You can get as many plates as you want and I had soup, salad and appetizers on a couple occasions. They have a very good variety and if you don’t like the suggested courses they always had standard meals, like sirloin, chicken, and paste every night. The deserts were wonderful, and some nights it was hard to decide what to get. That’s the best part about going with someone. You both get something different and then share. Over all the food was just wonderful, and if you go on any cruise and don’t get enough to eat then there must be something wrong with you as they had something for everyone. The service one this ship was wonderful. Our cabin steward introduced us and knew us by name before we even meet him, he also asked the first night if we had gotten our luggage and when we said we had not he said he would go find it. It was in the room the next time we got there. Our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful. The assistant waiter had glasses of soda for us every night after the first one. She even had one for me when I brought another glass in with me. She also had a glass for us as soon as she saw our current one was empty. Our waiter was funny and always stopped by to see if we were ok, he even tried to push more lobster tail on us. He also gave me more tiger shrimp one evening after I had finished mine, and I didn’t even have to ask for it. The service staff on the ship all was very helpful, two in particular were the waitress at the Duck and Dog Pub on the promenade. I usually had a drink there before dinner and they new my name by the 3rd day. It surprised my wife when we walked by and both of them said “Hi Josh”. She made the comment that maybe I was spending a little to much time there. Even the people in the casino were nice to us. On this cruise I found that because we spent 5 out of 6 days at an island I had enough to do. When I cruised with Carnival there were 3 days at sea and usually they were very boring. On this cruise, the day at sea was spent very busy. The rock climbing wall was a nice thing and I saw people of all ages trying. The mini golf course was very fun although it was more difficult to putt with the ship moving and tilting at times. During the evening they had shows, we went to one of the theater shows, one of the comedy acts and the ice show. The theater show was ok not great but it had some very nice singing and dancing. The comedy act was an impersonator and he was funny and did some very good impersonations. The best thing to see was the ice show. It was very impressive. They had a guest skater and he would hang from the ceiling on bolts of fabric and would do gymnastic routines. It was very good and really amazing. If you take a cruise with an ice rink you need to see this show even if you’re not the biggest fan of ice skating. You did need to get tickets as the seating is limited but we go them the day before with no problem. It also had a coupon for a dollar off a drink during the show. The casino was always fun, we spent one evening and one afternoon in there. We did end up winning over all but just enjoyed the time. The one thing I did like was they were not trying to shove bingo down your throat. They would have announcements that they were going to have some bingo going on but when I sailed with Carnival it seemed that every other announcement was come play bingo. When your not that big of a fan anyway it gets very annoying. I will have to say this ship looked wonderful. The artwork was amazing and the promenade made you think you were not at sea. They even had a statue of a guy that you thought was real. He had a crease in his pants and at least twice I found my self saying excuse me to him. Out room was nicely decorated and did not go over board. The dinning rooms looked amazing as well as all the lounges and bars. This cruise was with out a doubt the best that I have been on and the best line. I will never again sail with Carnival, but will probably do Norwegian if they have a cruise that I like. Royal Caribbean however impressed me beyond anything I could imagine. I don’t know how someone could take this cruise and not enjoy it.

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Jun 12, 2005

Southern Caribbean

We were on one cruise before; on Carnival's Conquest. In general everything was just a little bit nicer than Carnival. The decor, entertainment, customer service, ship, and activities were all a little bit better. We had a wonderful time on a great cruise. The Not So Good: The ship's home port is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On the surface this does not seem to be a problem. You get to see yet another foreign land *before* you go on your

cruise. It is like a free bonus! There was one Little teensy problem. Rumour has it that the locals get some kind of deal when the ship is full; like a $250 deal. We paid a couple of shekels more than that. I'm estimating that the ship mix was about 55/45 Puerto Ricans to Americans. Now, I don't have any particular problem with Puerto Ricans; but it was like spending a week in Puerto Rico. They dominated all on-deck activities; they filled the halls. It was really weird. Although all ship announcements were done in both languages; everything about the ship was focused on English. They had to be just a little uncomfortable. We went on a few of the expensive excursions; no Puerto Ricans were seen there. So I guess they stayed on the ship or just shopped. Puerto Rican culture appears to have some marked differences from what we expect in the USA. There appears to be little to no sense of urgency for *anything*. If you are thinking about going on this cruise in the off-season, and you do not like having your personal space invaded, and it annoys you for people to clog the halls talking and being completely oblivious to the existence of anyone else: Then too bad. There is nothing you can do about it except steam in your own juices. I have no way of knowing if this is the most accurate sample of Puerto Rican culture. It is just what I saw. Next time I go I will learn some Spanish; it would have been very helpful. I would like to know how to say: "Please control your child; or I will". Or, "When did you first notice that there were other people in the world? or has that happened yet?" I will take my phrase book next time. On the plus side; the Puerto Ricans were friendly and as clean as anyone else. No *real* problems occurred; just me being annoyed. I won't go into this in much more detail, but if you get hurt or sick in Puerto Rico; get treated by the ship doctor. Someone on our cruise got hurt before boarding and was treated to a medical tour of the island and a real-life example of malpractice in action. Just get on the ship; even if you have to stitch your own guts up with shoestrings. The only thing close to a real issue is that the food in the main dining room was hit or miss. We had heard that the food on RC was better than on Carnival; we did not find that to be the case. In almost all cases the main entree was just great. The sides were usually of poor quality - like they were made by a different kitchen. The deserts were mostly good, with the exception of the cheesecake which was very poor. The food at the Windjammer (the buffet) was generally very good. Fresh and hot was standard. Great service by the wait staff. The breakfast was really not very good. The scrambled eggs were tasteless and the sausage was poor. All other items for breakfast were fine. The "Promenade" offered 24hr a day food. Carnival had something similar in a remote location on the ship. The food on Carnival in this area was just OK. The food at the Promenade was excellent; the pizza was not frozen and it was always available in large quantities. The cold sandwiches were delightful. One last "beef": The Internet access. The actual access was fine; the problem was that RC completely dropped the ball in letting us know what was available. From speaking directly to several people at RC before our Cruise, what we understood was available was this: Cybercabin in your room (modem Internet access) for $100/week Internet cafe at $.50/minute. NO packages available NO WiFi anywhere. Since I need to stay in touch for my business, I decided to lug my laptop along so i would not run up a thousand dollars in the Internet cafe. What we found upon getting to the ship was this: Packages WERE available for the Internet cafe: $50 for 150 minutes ($.33/minute) Cybercabin (which connected at 48k - which is fine - but was MUCH slower in prat ice) WiFi was available in MANY places on the ship; using the minutes you bought at the cafe. Now how did this slip by? Why is it that no one at RC knows that their own ship has WiFi? I was a little pissed as I probably would not have lugged my huge laptop along if I had of know there was packages at reduced rates at the cybercafe. Very strange. The drinks were stronger than on Carnival - a big plus. My wife enjoyed the nickel slots; even won $100... OK, now all you liberals can knee-jerk because I said something bad about someone other than America.  

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Jan 2, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I had been on a Royal Caribbean cruise once before but it was a much smaller trip with a shorter itinerary. This time was a 7 night cruise with our 3 yr old. We arrived at the ship a few hours before our scheduled boarding time. This was definitely a good idea because there were so many people and the line outside was rather long. Once we got inside the terminal to check in things moved much faster. We had a grand suite

which was a good size for the three of us. The first day we just explored the ship. There was so much to see. The ship is huge. The first day was at sea and we just relaxed by the pool. You really need to get up there early to get chairs. The wait staff was really nice and very friendly and the food was good. By far the best part of the cruise was the casino staff. They had us laughing all night. If I had to make a suggestion to Royal Caribbean it would be to do a comedy show featuring the casino staff. The cruise was great and definitely recommend it.

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By Fred_CR

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Dec 19, 2004

Western Caribbean

Boarding the ship was a lil confusing as no one tells you to check your bags on the right and then get on line to board on left. A little annoying .The boarding process went fairly quickly although we asked for late seating and were given early. Other than that, we boarded from curb to boat in under 1 hr. We boarded at 5:15 p.m. for a 10 p.m. departure although others boarded at 11:30 a.m.--a nice bonus if you want to take advantage of

the day. Royal Carib. is a better line than Carnival in a few ways. Cleanliness, quality of food and overall quiet of boat (for most part). The adult jacuzzis(2) and pool is a nice touch as kids are kept out. The bars make NICE drinks (strong) and even stronger when you add a 1$ tip on top! VERY friendly staff. Ship is huge so do not notice all the people even when sailing for the day. Special xmas dinner was nice as was lobster/prime rib. Stateroom was small but who stays in there anyway. Balconies looked nice and private. Ports were the usual--shop, snorkel,etc. Overall a good experience

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Nov 7, 2004

Southern Caribbean

This was my first cruise experience so my mind was completely open. In short – it was not a disappointment. Getting onto the ship was easy and very organized (they even had complimentary cookies and juice in the waiting area). The first thing we did was check out our room. Although they weren’t done prepping it, I was excited to see the room. It wasn’t nearly as small as I expected (although I’m not a big person to begin with)

and there were three of us in a room. We had an outside room on the 2nd deck. I was glad to have a window. The 2nd deck was great because it was close to deck 1 where you get off at the ports. This was key when everyone was getting on or off the ship (the elevator wait was kind of a pain – use the stairs and enjoy all the wonderful art when you can). After seeing the rooms we went to the pool deck. Since we boarded around noon there weren’t many people out there yet. This was perfect as the sun was shining and I was ready with my bathing suit in my carry on. My boyfriend and I celebrated the beginning of our vacation with frozen drinks at the sky bar. Drink prices, by the way, are reasonable. They range from $4.50 to $6ish for the fancy ones. Remember they put gratuities right on the bill already. Also, some evenings offered 2 for 1 specials. Otherwise, lemonade, iced tea, water, coffee and tea are free. The first evening we went to the dining room for dinner. Often people crowded in front of the dining rooms waiting to get in. I wouldn’t worry about getting there a few minutes late to let the crowd pass through. We were a party of five and had a table all to ourselves. This was fine because we rarely had dinner with each other otherwise. Our head waiter, Simon, was a doll and the other waiters were great too. We had the later seating. This is a good way to go if you plan of exploring during the day – no rush to make it to dinner. My boyfriend and I ate there a few nights and the others at the Windjammer Buffet or the Promenade, 24-hour pizza, sandwiches and desserts. The food was good. I can’t compare to other cruises though. Some items I thought were a little salty, but overall a wide range of choices. (Try new things while you’re getting anything you want!) Also, if you happen to be a picky eater, not to worry – there are simple alternatives every night. The group I went with loves to gamble. There’s a decent selection of slot machines and table games (no poker). I played craps for the first time and actually won! This got crowded by the last night at sea because there is only one table. The casino was only open when out at sea. They held some tournaments (slot & blackjack) and their bar also had some 2 for 1 specials. The first day at sea was great for exploring the ship. I checked out the gym, which is spacious and has some great machines. This was the only day I actually used it as we kept finding more to do. They also had classes and mini-seminars during the day. Also onboard is the rock-climbing wall, volleyball/ basketball court, ice rink, in-line skating, etc. I was content to sit in the sun. When the sun was out. I checked the weather forecast beforehand and it predicted rain. I was told not to worry as “it never rains in Aruba.” Let’s just say the bus drivers, tour guides and locals were scratching their heads on Tuesday when the clouds covered up the sun. They say it was a “good drinking day.” It was disappointing to not have that first look at the blues of the Caribbean water. Still, we went on with our day. My boyfriend and I went on the Rhino Rider Excursion. This was a lot of fun. We were worried it would be cancelled because of the weather but ultimately we were going to get wet anyway so it didn’t matter. I recommend this excursion! You get on these seadoo/ raft things that zip around on the water. You have to go pretty fast but is very safe. We went to a little dock where you can jump in and snorkel (equipment provided). You might want to check your mask out before you go because mine leaked. Also, don’t bring much with you. They tell you only bring what you want to get wet. You just need yourself in a bathing suit and an underwater camera if you have one (which I wish I did). The other stuff is left in a shack (behind a locked door they told us?!) We saw some fish and coral, etc despite it not being super clear because of the weather. A fun trip, beginners or otherwise. Monday night was formal night. My boyfriend wasn’t prepared for dressing up for the occasion but got away with a nice shirt and khakis. Some people were very dressed up in ball gowns and tuxes. It looked like anything would fly though as long as you looked nice The next island, Curacao, felt similar to Aruba. The shopping was similar as well as the surroundings. We went to Mambo Beach on the island in the morning. There was an interesting cove area to swim and beyond that I’m told there was good snorkeling. You can swim out to some rocks and check out local crustaceans (snails and huge crabs!) Watch the rocks and coral! The next day at sea was the best. By now, we knew the ship and felt relaxed since we didn’t have to rush off the boat. That evening we saw the ice show. It was pretty good, especially since the size of the rink is small and you’re on a ship. The music and costumes were great, not to mention the talent. Our room was right next to the rink so we heard the music a few times, but not to worry, the show is only a few times a week and only 50 minutes long). This was the second formal night. It was fun to spend the whole evening dressed up. After the show was dinner (lobster – order two!), more casino time, and then we went to Jesters, the night club. It was 80’s night, which we kind of enjoyed reminiscing about. They had a Michael Jackson contest that was impressive. A fun place to let loose in – lots of types of people, not just the young crowd. This night was also when the midnight dessert event was taking place. We were having so much fun dancing we forgot. I hear it’s great though – I would have liked to see it. (And all the chocolate desserts I had tried at dinner were awesome – even the sugar free choices). My favorite islands were St. Maarten and St. Thomas. By then the sun was shining a bit more and it was hot! The best beaches and shopping – especially flea markets. (Buy your liquor here – it’s even cheaper than the ship specials.) We went to Bikini Beach in St. Maarten (bikinis optional). There were fun trinkets and jewelry here. During one of the brief rain showers passing through we even saw a rainbow on our last day (it made up for not so great sunsets on the cloudy horizon). As far as other ship activities, they had line dancing by the pool, a Caribbean Midnight Buffet by the pool one night, mini-parades on the promenade and lounge chairs everywhere to be a part of the activities (or not). The other shows that went on were the Battle of the Sexes (silly but funny), Love and Marriage (awesome – don’t miss it) and some others I missed. I heard the comedian was good but some of the others not so much. You can always leave if you don’t like it and you can catch it on the in-room TV’s where they repeat it during the week. Getting off the ship is the least fun. Packing the night before and having everything you need for the next day in your carry on is a pain. The wait to get off the ship was a bit long. Go to the buffet for breakfast if you can to kill time (if you don’t have an early flight). Also, be prepared to show your passport a million times between customs and the airport (and wear slip on shoes). I would recommend staying away from the Internet on the ship, but try out all the places to eat (we skipped Portofinos). If you want to climb the rock wall sign up early. Take your time getting to dinner or the buffet when it first opens, unless you like lines, and take the stairs when you can. Don’t worry too much about motion sickness. I usually get sick in the backseat of a car but the movement of the ship didn’t really affect me and we were definitely rocking. Double-check your bill – we were charged for something in the min-bar that we hadn’t touched (I suspect the motion of the boat may have knocked a sensor). And no matter what the weather is, enjoy the Caribbean and the ship because it is a great vacation.  

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Nov 7, 2004

Southern Caribbean

This cruise was a 40th birthday present and I had very high expectations. I've cruised twice before with Royal Caribbean and was very pleased both times. My best friend and I were looking forward to time away from telephones and responsibilities. Our embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the San Juan pier just a bit before one p.m. Since we weren't scheduled to leave port until 10 p.m. we had plenty of time but still expected to

wait in a line, however, we stepped onto the Adventure about twenty minutes after we stepped out of the shuttle from the airport. We spent quite a while looking over the ship. The Adventure is huge but I never felt overwhelmed. Everything was easy to find and even though there were over 3000 passengers there was never a feeling that we were crowded. We grabbed lunch at the Windjammer. The food was good. Personally, I think that anyone who complains excessively about the food on a cruise, needs to stop cruising and start visiting third world countries. There was plenty of variety, never a shortage of anything, and I enjoyed almost everything that I tried. We continued checking out the ship after we'd eaten lunch. Studio B was a delight. An ice rink on the ocean...what a concept! The Lyric theatre seemed to offer promise of great entertainment. The many lounges and the dining rooms looked as if they would provide us with fun and more food throughout the voyage. The solarium pool and the more public pool were both beginning to draw the early boarders. We looked over the spa and the fitness equipment. (We really had very good intentions regarding the treadmills but somehow we lost those intentions somewhere between San Juan and Aruba) We found our stateroom. We chose to take the smallest cabin available. It was very adequate. Our cabin steward, Norberto, was friendly, efficient and very polite. He supplied us with a zoo of towel animals and made sure that we had everything we needed. After unpacking a few things, (one suitcase arrived early, the other late) we headed to the Vivaldi dining room for dinner. Our head waitress, Amelia was excellent. We appreciated her positive attitude and her friendly professionalism. Our waiter, Daniel always had helpful recommendations and was quick to remedy anything that had not met our expectations. Our assistant waitress was Eva and she worked very hard to make sure that we never ran out of anything we desired. Although I have experienced more warmth from some of the staff in the past (Daniel was a bit distant) I really must say that the service of our dining room staff was very good. The food was tasty and anything that we wished to sample was quickly brought to us. Our dining companions, a family of three sisters and one of their husbands, found an appetizer that they really loved. Daniel, brought as many helpings as they desired. We pulled out of the port at 10pm on the dot. It was beautiful to stand as far forward as we could and head into the open sea. The weather was not always as we wished it to be. Two of our three excursions were cancelled due to rainy conditions or after effects of hurricanes. We swam at the beach by the Wyndam hotel on Aruba. We shopped in Curacao. We enjoyed Orient beach in St. Maartin, and we just strolled the shops in St. Thomas. There were plenty of activities on and off the ship and so we never let the weather get the best of us. We enjoyed ice skating in Studio B, mini golf, people watching at cafe promenade and tanning whenever the sun was shining. The entertainment on Adventure is very good. The ice show is an absolute must. Considering the limitations of the rink, the skaters do a fabulous job! The shows at the Lyric were good. The headliners were enjoyable and the Adventure orchestra is really top notch. Many of the passengers raved about the two performances of the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The vocalists were indeed very good and the dancing was technically precise, however, the style was just not my cup of tea. I'm much more a Broadway fan than an artsy Vegas type. The one exception to an otherwise good lineup of headliners was a Mr. Achilles. He performed the last night of the voyage. There were some children in the audience who shouldn't have heard several segments of his routine. At one point the children even shouted about something pretty off color. Granted, they shouldn't have been as far from their parents as they were, and they were rude little kids, but, they too recognised that the humor was a bit more adult than it should have been. I enjoyed the Adventure very much. I had read earlier reviews regarding noisy, unattended children, and I had read something about the overabundance of Spanish in preference to English. I did not find either of these things to factor into our trip. Although there were some Puerto Rican folks who were pleading for something in Spanish to watch during the disembarkation proceedings, there was really no tension or preference that I could sense. I enjoyed the international flavor and found that graciousness comes in many ethnic forms, as does rudeness. Disembarkation is always tedious but the Adventure staff did their best to keep those of us with late flights happy. The airport at San Juan was a bit jammed but even there we did not experience the delays that we had been told to expect. I'd recommend Adventure to families and to the more energetic crowd. Be aware that the beaches do occasionally sport a nudist or two. If you have children, Orient Beach may not be the best choice. Since I'm pretty modest and since the nudists were predominantly over seventy, I kept my eyes focused on the surf. All in all an excellent cruise!  

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Oct 31, 2004

Southern Caribbean

I booked this I cruise with some trepidation, as I didn’t expect to like a ship this size. But my husband was excited to try something new as our last three cruises were with Celebrity (my 1st love). So I was really going to be critical and was looking for reasons to complain. Turns out that was tough. We arrived in San Juan at 4:30pm, day of cruise. Grabbed our bags and hopped in a cab (we don’t like ship transfers, cabs are cheaper

and faster). We were at the port in 15 minutes and on the ship 5 minutes later! No lines? What about the other 3400 people? We had an inside cabin for the first time since our first cruise. Lucky for us, it was a handicapped cabin and so much more spacious. Not sure why we were assigned that cabin, but I highly recommend it if possible. We were on deck 10, aft, which was the most ideal location. Run up one level to the pool and buffet area, two of the places we went to the most. And the dining rooms are aft, so just take the elevator and you’re right there. Near the aft elevators is ideal. First thing we did on arrival is ask our room steward for feather pillows, which are limited availability, so ask immediately. Several times, we also used the dry cleaning services and thought it was reasonably priced and efficient. Why send your formal wear to the cleaners before you leave home? We had dinner the first night at Portofinos. It’s the small, gourmet restaurant, requires a reservation and costs $20 each. We thought it was well worth it. The food was a notch above the dining room and the attentive service was excellent. We heard one man who was traveling alone, make a reservation for every night. A nice option if you prefer a small, intimate dining experience and want to dine alone. The food and service in the main dining room was also very good. I don’t think either my husband or I had a single course that we didn’t like. We asked for a large table, but were seated at a table for 4 which turned out to be fine as we had very nice table mates. We ate all our breakfasts and lunches at the Windjammer Café. The food was varied and good. They did need more omelet lines as it was a long wait. The best was the sandwiches at the Café Promonade on level five. Fabulous deli sandwiches as well as pizza and desserts 24 hours a day. I became addicted to the sandwiches. So much for locarb. The entertainment was good. Don’t miss the Ice Show!!! The biggest disappointment was the RCCL singers and dancers. They were very talented, but the show they put on, called Velvet Rope, was awful. And by the crowds response, we’re not the only ones who thought that. Loved the pool area, open 24 hours! We hadn’t seen that before. This ship has so much to offer to the active person. Climb the rock wall (I did and I’m 51!), inline skate, mini golf, golf simulator (that was fun), ice skate, basketball court, etc. Our 1st port was Aruba. We did the Half day Jeep Safari. Don’t do it! It was way too long, driving over lots of rocky terrain. It was fun for a while, but other than the Natural bridge, you will wonder why would anyone come to Aruba. It’s ugly and much trashier than I expected. To be fair, we didn’t go to the hotel zone, which I guess is nice. We walked into town and found an internet café, much cheaper than the ship. In Curacao, we did the Swim with the Dolphins. What an neat experience that was. I highly recommend it. It’s costly, but a rare opportunity. In St. Maartan, we did snuba. I don’t recommend doing any snorkel or dive here. There just wasn’t much to see. Had lunch in town. It’s a nice island with nice people. In St. Thomas, we did the St. John beach tour. It’s about an hour ferry ride over, but so worth it to see this beautiful paradise island. We were taken to Trunk Bay Beach and the snorkeling there was good. Overall, we were really impressed with the Adventure of the Seas. It rarely seemed crowded as theres so many places to be. An occasional wait at the elevator is the worst that it got. Even disembarkation only took 10 minutes! I wanted to find fault with a ship this size, but truth be told, I loved it and so did my husband. Can’t wait to go back with the kids and grandkids.  

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Oct 3, 2004

Southern Caribbean

For the first time, we stayed at an Ameri- Suites hotel and took advantage of the sleep, fly, park program that they offered. It was great. You are going to have to spend money to park your car anyway at the airport, so you might as well spend that money on a room and park for free for the week. They transport us to the airport the next morning right by the curb of American Airline. We were not as tired at the end of the day. The first

day can be very long. The flights were probably as good as they could be with one exception. My husband and I both had window seats. On one flight he was to be up one or two rows in front of me. A small child had taken his seat so the attendant put him in an aisle seat four rows up in front of me. My window seat had no bargaining power. I tried. On the next flight, we had a three-hour lay over in Miami. (not much fun) Again, we both had window seats. Again our seats had no bargaining power. We both tried to exchange seats with other people. He was on one side of the plane and I was on the other side seven seats away and two aisles. I am not sure what was up with the window seat “thing”, but we could have cared less about the window seats. It would have been nicer to have been sitting together. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) made all of our reservations. I am sure that we did not request window seats. Once we arrived in Puerto Rico (PR), this is where we become Decrowned & Unanchored. (a spoof from the so called Crown and Anchor Society that we belong to with RCCL). We got our luggage and found the RCCL people waiting for us and all the others. Only one catch. It is now 3:30- 4:00 and the ship, Adventure of the Seas (AOTS) still has its passengers on board from the previous cruise. RCCL tells all of us that it may be 8:00 pm before we can board. They are not really sure of everything that is going on back at the pier. It is obvious that they are anxious over the entire situation. Needless to say there were a lot of unhappy campers. There were a lot of questions asked and RCCL couldn’t really answer all of them. RCCL just kept saying that there was a strike at the pier and the previous passengers could not leave the ship and therefore we could not board. Apparently some hotel in town had over two thousand people waiting in a ball room to board just like us. The hotel was full, so we had to wait at the airport. Apparently the pier had all of the people it could handle waiting just like us. We questioned if we could take a taxi. We were told that the taxi’s were on strike. We were told that if we left the airport, that we would not be allowed back in. We were told the airport was not cooperating with RCCL, either. We only had pretzels all day and were hungry. Finally, after so many people had complained for so long that RCCL went and got us some food. We apparently could not get it for ourselves, they had to get it for us. RCCL took four orders at a time. We got to choose from hotdogs, nachos, and drink. And yes, we had to pay for it. When they brought the food back, of course the hot dogs were not ready so only half of our order got filled. By the time RCCL was working on the 3rd to 4th order, they said we could go. The time is now 6:30 pm. It was kind of them to bring us food. Thanks Sacha! (RCCL employee) The one thing that everyone noticed was that Carnival and Princess was not having the same problem. We spoke to several of those employees at the airport and they didn’t know what we were talking about. They were not having any problems getting their cruisers off of the ship and on the ship. It was apparent that it was a RCCL problem only. We were told a variety of things; 1) some boxer in town had won a fight and everyone was partying, 2) taxi’s were on strike, 3) teamsters strike at the pier and so on. It would be nice to know the truth. We were told that most of the passengers on the previous cruise had missed their flights and that RCCL was having to make new reservations for everyone. RCCL kept saying “not to worry, we are taking care of it”. Once we got to the pier what appeared to be a major mess actually was not as bad as it could have been. We were only about 30 minutes getting through the lines and on our way to the ship. It was the first time that we had our arrival photo taken in the dark Most people behaved rather well trying to not cut lines and go as quickly as possible having their documents out. Most were trying to be kind in a difficult situation. On Monday, I had left my robe and pajamas on the bed. When we came back to the room, they were not to be found. I looked around, under, and behind everything. I finally called the attendant. He came in and looked also. He then called someone (the person that had actually done our room; not him). Of course the conversation was not in English. Once off of the phone, he went around the bed on the balcony side reached down behind the nightstand between the wall and balcony curtain and brought up my robe and pajamas. I just stood there with my mouth open! How could that have happened? I was speechless. It was Tuesday night that we got our first mints- yeah! Our pool towels were taken away and not replaced on Monday after our day at sea. We had to sign for towels pool side just to have towels the next day. The towels reappeared then the next day. On Monday, I asked for the drink special advertised at $5.95 in the compass and was charged $10.29. They were to correct the charge. I am still waiting. We had always been told that muster had to be done the first day. It was required before the ship could go out to sea or so many miles away from port. Just to let you know, we did not do muster until 10:30 the next morning. What if something had happened that night? I was amazed. I honestly think that the atmosphere was not conducive to muster on Sunday anyway after all the problems with just getting on board. There were a lot of unhappy people with a lot of talking going on. I am still amazed that muster was really put off until the next morning. Right after the muster, the cruise director announced that ice show tickets were available NOW. Come and get your ticket NOW. Do you know how many people were pushing and shoving to get those tickets? It was total chaos. Why did he choose that time to make such an announcement? Maybe he wanted us to NOT forget the day before too quickly! We scheduled a bike ride exploration for Tuesday on Aruba. It was around 3:30 pm on Monday that we got a call stating that it had been cancelled. RCCL stated that they had just received a notice that the exploration had been cancelled. Funny thing though, an envelope with a letter stating the cancellation had been delivered much earlier that morning. Now if they had JUST received a notice, who knew hours earlier that morning and took the time to type up a letter and get it to our room? The truth is much easier to deal with! Makes you wonder if the exploration was ever really available in the first place. Humm-mm-mm. The dinner menu one night had listed Rib Eye. I love rib eye steaks. What you order and what you get are sometimes different. I got prime rib. How does one get Rib Eye and Prime Rib mixed up? I am not a meat cutter but I know when I go to a restaurant and order Rib Eye I don’t usually get Prime Rib. Prime Rib was available one other night and it was listed as Prime Rib. Go figure. The Beef Tip was excellent on the one night. It melted in my mouth. It was great! Room Service was good. Food was good. Service was timely. Good job. We are big coffee drinkers in the morning so we learned to order two coffees. The cream was really special for me. Thanks. This was our first cruise with a balcony. It would be nice if RCCL could put all the smokers on one side or at the back. Not everyone enjoys cigar and cigarette smoke, especially the stinky cigar smoke. We could not go out on the balcony one night as the gentleman one deck down and one room over really enjoyed his cigar. The wind blew his smoke right up to us. I hope he enjoyed his cigar at our cost of not getting to enjoy our balcony. He ruined our night. He was smoking one other time, but the smoke was not blowing up to us. One day we went to the solarium. It is so nice. We were in the pool. We had placed our shoes at the side. When we were finished, my husband’s shoes were gone. We found them later off to the side of the ship. A little annoying! We had asked for a cheese tray to be at our table for dinner. We are still waiting for the first tray. Yes, we could have asked again, but after a while; it is just not worth repeating. We had no problem getting a cheese tray each night on the Majesty. Thanks majesty. The toilet in our room would not flush on two different days. The toilets in other areas on the ship were not flushing either. The one ladies room on either 4th or 5th, I forget, was totally disgusting. They apparently had already closed two stalls as the door showed occupied and no one was in either of them. That left one stall open and guess what? You are right- it didn’t flush either. Why would they close some and not all? We were late for dinner as I had to go back to my room to use the bathroom. Luckily, ours was working. We had never had that problem before. It is hard to believe that you are on a 500 million dollar ship and the toilets won’t flush. The water is another issue. Our water for the entire week was yellow. Finally the last day, I took a photo of a wash cloth to show the color of the water. In the morning when you first turned on the water in the sink it would stain the cloth. I am not joking. I will enclose photos if I can to show you. Some other cruisers were saying the same thing about their room. Those traveling above the 7th floor didn’t seem to have the problem as badly. I used the laundry service for the first time. I needed my gown pressed for one of the formal nights. The service was excellent. My gown was pressed very nicely and only cost $4.00. Thanks. RCCL really took care of me on that. One night my husband and other table guest ordered extra lobster. They got it without any problems. Head server, was more than glad to get it for them. We were second dining guests. We also ordered extras on other nights and had no problems getting anything that we wanted. Now, drinks were a different thing. The first and second nights we were never asked if we wanted anything else to drink. Water was an automatic. Tea was different. Finally the third night we were asked re: drink orders and didn’t have any other problems. The one guest liked beer. I heard him say he had waited an hour and still hadn’t seen his second beer. To get seconds on drinks you had to ask at least once or twice and wait awhile. They really wanted to push the wine. Apparently the head servers were in charge of the wine as they apparently had done away with the wine stewards. (this is what we were told by RCCL) We were also glad that the captain only came to dinner once for the entire week. Our service was not so great the night he was there. Not sure why!! Our head server offered choices and he was usually right. He had good taste. He also gave us tips re: the ports each night to prepare us for the next day. We got more information from him then anyone re: just stuff in general about taxi fares, where to go, what to shop for and not shop for, etc. He had a lot of good information. The assistant server was okay. No one at the table could understand anything that he said. He just mumbled and muttered all the time. It is funny how we can still remember our very first head server and assistant server from our very first cruise. LeeAnn and Amin were great. I might remember this waiter in years to come. There was just something special about LeeAnn and Amin. Maybe because it was our first cruise. (Servers names intentionally left out) Another thing that I noticed about service on the ship-- We stood in line for the service desk. It is roped off and states to enter here and exit here. We were about the 4th people back to get waited on. The line was moving well. We were up to the 2nd people to be waited on and a group of 4-5 came right up to one of the clerks without waiting in any lines and believe it or not, the clerk waited on them. How rude. Maybe not so much rude for the group of 4-5 people as it could have been a language issue to understand where to go or what to do; but major rude for the clerk to precede to wait on them instead of directing them to the line like everyone else. Also, at the coffee café a lady was placing an order for pizza. She was getting food for several. There was hardly any pizza out. The trays were about empty. The server found more pizza to meet the order. The lady continued to place orders for sandwiches and desserts. The server stopped serving the lady and started to clean up the empty pizza trays and restock the area and finally as in a theatrical production acted like she didn’t know that the lady was still standing there waiting to be served. The lady and I both were taken back by the server’s intentional attitude of not serving the customer. Could the cleaning up and restocking been done after completing the service to the one customer? The server could have easily asked me to wait, as I was next in line. Very rude! At one port we were right by the Golden Princess. I stood in amazement one morning watching this lady prepare the breakfast table on the balcony. There was enough room on the table for 2 coffee containers, 2 plates, 2 coffee cups, and tableware. There were four chairs on the balcony. Two were large with cushions that appeared to recline. Two chairs were just regular sitting chairs. There appeared to be three tables, two small and one large. Our balcony had two sitting chairs without cushions. The table would hold service for one. We both ate with our plates in our laps, our coffee cups on the floor, our juice glasses on the side rail by the window. We put the coffee pots on the floor along with the sugar container and cream. The plate covers were also put on the floor. The table was used to hold the tray that had the fruit, jellies, pastries, etc. Do you get the picture? It is not a good idea to get room service if you aren’t willing to eat it like you are on a picnic. The table needs to be larger. Speaking of our balcony. I got a drink during the week. The day we left the ship, the glass from that drink at least 3 days prior was still on the deck with the straw still in the glass. HUM –mm-mm. The ship in general appeared to be dirty. The buttons for the elevators were consistently filthy. Speaking of elevators- the elevators would be full and believe it or not at the next stop 2 or 3 would manage to get on. You would think that there wasn’t going to be another elevator all day with the way some people insisted that they just had to get on just because the doors opened. There should be some sort of an alarm. One man loudly stated, “ We are already packed in here lack sardines”. It didn’t matter. Of course the others probably didn’t speak English at that moment in their life. St. Thomas and Meagan’s Bay- the beach is nice. Too bad that the locals decided to play their boom box the day we were there. I don’t mind music, even loud music; but that constant boom, boom, boom that vibrates your body is more than I can take. I stood it for two hours. I couldn’t take it any longer. We left. We had spent $12.00 to get to the beach, $6.00 to get in, $11.00 to rent a chair and mat (not counting the deposit), and $8.00 for pizza and drink. Now don’t forget to add in another $12.00 to get back to the ship. Grand total is $39.00 for two hours. We asked one of the bar ladies about the noise. Her first comment was yeah it is annoying. It is just what the locals like to do. When we went into the shop to get our deposit back for the chair and mat rental, my husband explained to them re: the boom, boom, boom. He explained that we would have like to stayed longer, but couldn’t tolerate the vibrating boom, boom, boom. The lady in the shop just looked at us. For some reason, no one seemed to care what we thought. RCCL staff would ask things like-“ are you enjoying yourselves” and “are you having a good time”? We would start to explain some of the things that just seem to not be of standard for RCCL and they would totally ignore our statements. I actually told one lady in the casino that this was probably the worst trip that I had ever been on. She had absolutely no comment at all. She changed the subject quickly. If RCCL doesn’t want to know, then they really shouldn’t ask. I could handle that better. My husband and I both thought that the food in the Windjammer was not like it use to be. Hotdogs with saukraut and hamburgers were the main items. I remember a much better variety in years past. The Crown and Anchor coupon book had less appeal to me this year as well. The booklet states; “savings as big as the adventure you’ll find on every cruise”. On the inside cover there is a statement re: “ it’s also our way at RCI of showing you how much we appreciate your loyalty”. Let me tell you about some of the coupons- 1) 10% off of one spa or salon service, 2) one single jackpot bingo card- but note that it can’t be used at the jackpot (does that make sense), 3) wine tasting (my husband doesn’t drink), 4) buy $10.00 of slots and get $2.00 free, 5) 5% off of RCCL logo merchandise, 6) wine discount of 10% (only for wine under $50.00) after you buy one bottle, and 7) Ben and Jerry’s 25% off after you buy one and some others re: coffee, photos. Someone else reading this might help my memory, but I believe that in years past the gift shop coupon was for 10% on any merchandise from the gift shop, not just RCCL logo mdse. Correct me if I am wrong. Correct me on this as well, please. I asked some other cruisers why there was a special night just for “Latin”. There was a Latin parade and some special Latin performance in one of the lounges. I didn’t remember any of this from before. I was told that since we left from PR that RCCL offers some big savings to the people of PR if the ship is not full. One couple told us that the tickets on Saturday sold for $250.00. I believe that the cruise director told us that over 600 cruisers on board were from PR. That is good for them. I am glad that they got the opportunity to save. I paid $3,048.30 for the two of us. Did I get a special parade or special entertainment in a lounge? NO! One night I went down to the photo gallery to see our photos. I looked for about 10-15 minutes and finally asked one of the staff if all of the photos were out. They assured me that all photos were out. I explained that I had been looking and could not find any of mine. I was told to just keep looking. After another 10 minutes, I went to another RCCL employee and asked the same question and got the same answer. At this point I was getting a little upset. I looked again for another few minutes. I went back to the last RCCL employee again and asked if they could find the negatives, as the photos were not anywhere to be found. He sighed did and eye roll and followed me. I explained that I had put all of our photos together the day before and that they were now nowhere to be found. I showed him the wall where I had last left them. He smiled (smirked) and proceeded to pull out a wall that had been shut with all of our photos right where I had left them. I was furious! If the first employee had helped me a little more, it would have saved me a lot of frustration. Yes the photos were out, but how was I to know that I should have unlocked the door that held our photos from behind? That was not my job. I wonder how many others had looked for their photos? The wall was full of photos on two sides after the door was opened. Hum-mm-mm. On the last day while going through customs, they had us in groups. So many were allowed downstairs to form a line to get through customs. If you are familiar with this process you will understand how everyone goes as quickly as possible to get this job done and over with. Now visualize two escalators full of people and being routed in 5-6 different directions. Now visualize the room full and people still coming down the escalators with no place to go. Got the picture. It was about to be a trampling accident waiting to happen. RCCL kept loudly saying, don’t stop at the bottom of the escalators, keep moving. What RCCL didn’t realize is just where were the people supposed to go? The room was packed. They had no emergency button to push to stop the escalators. It was a bit scary just watching the people running into each other let alone being one of them. Also, our line was not moving at all. An elderly couple was at the front of the line and was just not fast enough to get a running start before someone from another line jumped in front of them. People were coming over from three rows away to get to the agent intended for our line. Finally someone noticed what was going on and went up to the man and woman and verbally encouraged them to move! They were so worried about cutting line and getting in front of someone. How kind of them. RCCL should have people down there doing some coordination with who goes where and when. One of the couples at our table felt that the Captain was not personable. It really didn’t matter to me, but apparently it did to others. They stated that on other cruises the Captain would walk around meeting and greeting people on the ship. He made himself visible to the public. This Captain certainly did not. Honestly, he was probably afraid to. We did receive a plate with a few goodies on it, a postcard of the ship, and a card taking the opportunity to thank us for our patience and understanding with the events that occurred on boarding day. RCCL regretted that the boarding process was not up to their standards and understands that the labor dispute that arose unexpectedly on Sunday complicated our arrival onboard and may had impacted the beginning of our vacation experience. RCCL hoped that we would enjoy the rest of our cruise. At the airport in PR, the gentleman was very kind to fix our previous seating problem and got us seats together for both flights home. Thanks! Well to make this long story short, I guess one could say that it was the combination of a lot of little things that just kept going on and on all week that really bothers the both of us. The ordeal at the airport was unbelievable. Why wasn’t Carnival and Princess affected? The inconsistencies that we got as to what the real problem was is a little puzzling as well. I have invested a lot of money with Royal Caribbean. We both have full time jobs and work hard. We take one vacation, one week off for the entire year and I have to say, this past week was not at all what I envisioned. Yellow water and non-functioning toilets on a 500 million dollar ship is totally ridiculous. We usually book our next cruise prior to leaving the ship. This is the first year of three that we did not. I am not sure what loyalty I will have with RCCL. I have encouraged many of my friends and family members to use RCCL and I know that many have. Now I have to take a serious look as to what I will do in the future. I am afraid that I am currently Decrowned and Unanchored with the Crown and Anchor Society of RCCL. The yearly vacations were something that I looked forward to all year. I have been “glowing” over the excitement of this cruise and now I just feel numb. What do I say when my co-workers (approx. 100 men and women) and my husband’s co-workers (approx. 30 men and women) ask us how was our vacation? Do we tell them the truth? Do we give RCCL an exception this time? What if our friends go on a cruise and experience what we did. I would feel somewhat responsible. I heard several first time cruisers say that they probably would not go on another cruise. I am not sure how royal the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is now. Decrowned and Unanchored from Kentucky  

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Oct 3, 2004

Southern Caribbean

This reply is after reading the review from Anna Lee. We were on the same cruise and experienced many of the same comments noted in Anna's response. Please note my comment about MANY, not that I agree with ALL her comments!! I'll have to look into staying at Ameri- Suites in the future, we've saved money on this kind of deal but never parked for FREE. Please check before jumping into a "free" week's parking through a hotel/motel,

you'll probably save money but it's not free. The ordeal at the airport was far from pleasant - but it happened. What's really sad is I witnessed some people from New York getting into the face of the girls representing Royal Caribbean and badgering them to the point of making them cry, then they would leave them alone and enjoyed it! (that's sad). Someone of authority should have addressed us and told us what had happened and not left these girls to deal with a hostile crowd. Once we got to the pier things couldn't have gone smoother. The check-in room looked like a disaster when the bus pulled up but we were through it in less than 10 minutes. After check-in we walked up the ramp to the ship, were ASKED if we wanted our picture taken, and got on the ship. Yes, by now it was dark. I'd rather not comment on robes and PJ's and how they got behind the nightstand. Yes, having the muster drill once at sea is unusual but evidently (I don't know) complies with Coast Guard regulations? About a month before the cruise I booked an all day Off Road Jeep tour ($400 worth) for 4 of us and we enjoyed every minute of it on our day on Aruba. It's too bad the bike tour was cancelled because it was a beautiful day. I can only say three things about the meals – excellent, excellent, excellent! Putting up with yellow water would really suck, I'm glad we didn't experience any in our room. The toilets not flushing did happen but for what ever reason it seemed to be a timing issue. One day our toilet didn't flush but when we returned a couple hours later the toilet was flushed. We also ate at the second seating and the offer of extra Lobster Tail was delicious!! We've had balconies on previous cruises and understand smoking cruisers have to smoke outside because the rooms are nonsmoking. I'd rather have a choice of not being on my balcony at a certain time than smelling smoke while I'm trying to sleep. As for the "veranda for 12" (balcony) on the Golden Princess, they were huge and most likely for the high dollar suites that we've never seen, maybe some day. The hot dogs and hamburgers in the Windjammer were excellent but if you wanted them you had to go to the end of the buffet to find them, not where anyone would consider putting the "main item." We experienced a problem similar to what Anna mentions with not being able to find our photos but later found out our daughter bought them!! Thank God our experience of leaving the ship wasn't what Anna's group had to endure, ours was very orderly and controlled. I personally never met the Captain but I can tell you I was very impressed he took the time to be part of the farewell show on the last night. Getting the ship ready to come into port for debarkation has to be a major endeavor, but he took time to be with his team at this show. I'm not crowned, anchored, or any other way associated with Royal Caribbean, in fact this was my first cruise with them. I felt the need to respond because our daughters looked at reviews such as this one before we left and were scared about going on their first cruise because "everything was bad!" In the end it was quite to the contrary as our daughters really enjoyed this cruise, as did my wife and I. Everyone works hard and spends a lot of money to go on a cruise and expects to be pampered, which we were!! By Anna's salutation it looks like "someone" is looking for Royal Caribbean to make things right by responding “favorably” to the issues listed? In addition I would like to give special recognition to Romona and Yasin for the outstanding attention and professional/personable service our party (all 17 of us) were given during the second seating EVERY night! Dinner was truly an event to look forward to every night!!

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Sep 26, 2004

Southern Caribbean

This is a slightly edited copy of a letter that I am sending to Jack Williams, the President and COO of Royal Caribbean International: I would very much like to be writing a different review. In fact, I was prepared to write a very different review. For the first time in three years, I was able to enjoy a vacation from work. It is the one and only week of vacation that I will receive in 2004. After great deliberation, we decided that

we would take a cruise. After weighing the many cruise lines available to us, we decided that we would give our business and hard earned dollars to Royal Caribbean International. We booked our cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas, departing 26 September 2004 from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The review that I wanted to write would describe the wonderful time we had. I would go at great lengths to laud the friendly, polite, and clearly dedicated crewmembers on board the Adventure of the Seas. Most especially, I would sing the praises of Adrian and Vladimir – our waiter and assistant waiter – during dinner. They epitomize what every company hopes for from their employees. We enjoyed their service and their personalities so much that we were sorry to depart the ship. From port-of-call destinations and excursions to on-board entertainment, dining, and shopping options, we enjoyed a wonderful week. The Advenute is a remarkable vessel - with just about every feature you can imagine. I could spend a month on the Advenute and not run out of things to do. Until Sunday. Dockworkers at the Pan American Pier announced that they were striking when we docked on Sunday, 3 October 2004. We learned that the dockworkers had blockaded the port – no taxis or buses could enter the port area and there was no one to unload the luggage from the vessel. At the time, we were under the impression that the dockworkers were protesting all three cruise lines that dock at the Pan American Pier. We later learned that their grievance was solely levied against Royal Caribbean International and the Tourism Board. The other vessel docked in port was able to unload their passengers and luggage in a timely manner that enabled them to depart as scheduled. We were informed by an ill-prepared young man who worked for the cruise line that Royal Caribbean International representatives were in negotiations with the dockworkers and we would be kept abreast of the situation. By ten o’clock in the morning, the young man announced that a settlement had been reached with the dockworkers and the disembarkation process would commence in approximately forty-five minutes. At that time, a movie was started in the Lyric Theater and the few Royal Caribbean crewmembers that we had seen disappeared. No crewmembers were available for questions. I was disheartened that we never saw or heard from Michael Hunnerup, our Cruise Director for the week. Despite having seen and heard from Mr. Hunnerup all week, he apparently did not deem this situation important enough to make his presence known. At no time did he make an appearance nor did we ever hear his voice on public address. Instead, this poor, ill-prepared young man was sent in proxy. He was clearly unable to provide us with any answers, guidance, or support. Therefore, he too disappeared from the stage of the Lyric Theater. What followed was an exercise in utter futility. It showed extreme disorganization, a clear lack of emergency preparedness, and complete failure to comprehend and handle the situation. The crew began making announcements via the public address system, rather than appearing in person. I can only assume that this is because the crew feared hostility from the passengers. To this point, the passengers remained calm and patient. The first announcement, made well after ten o’clock in the morning, was that anyone with a flight leaving before ten o’clock could begin to disembark. This seemed odd since those persons had already missed their flight. Might it not have been more logical to allow those with an opportunity to still make their flights disembark before those passengers who had already missed theirs? Finally, at approximately noon, an announcement was made for anyone with a flight leaving before two thirty in the afternoon to begin disembarkation. What we discovered upon leaving the Lyric Theater can only be described as a mob scene. We were to disembark from the port side of the vessel but first had to stand in line with the countless other passengers who were also attempting to leave. We found ourselves standing in an unmoving line on the starboard side of the vessel, waiting to progress forward. At this point, we knew that we still had to disembark, proceed through Customs, retrieve our baggage, find a cab, make it to San Juan International Airport, complete the U.S. Agriculture inspection, obtain our boarding passes, and make it to the appropriate departure terminal. As our flight was scheduled for 2:10 p.m., we knew that we had little chance to make our flight on time. The ill-prepared young man who seemed to be the only remaining spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, did reappear as we finally approached the port side of the vessel, telling us that the airlines had been informed of the situation and were working frantically to reroute flights. We were also told that a Royal Caribbean representative would be at the airport to help us get home. This, we later learned, was a bold faced lie. According to American Airlines representatives – representatives for the largest airline in the United States, where a great number of Royal Caribbean passengers were booked – no one from Royal Caribbean had ever contacted them regarding the situation. It should come as no surprise that no one from Royal Caribbean was able to help us at the airport either. The only Royal Caribbean employees we found at the airport were busy making excuses to new passengers of the Adventure of the Seas for why they could not be transported to the vessel. As we finally neared the exit, with hoards of passengers in front and behind us, an announcement was made for anyone with a flight eight-thirty p.m. or earlier should disembark. Those of us who had flights from ten a.m. until four-thirty p.m. were still trying to get off the ship, so this announcement infuriated us. Passengers had reached the boiling point; starting to push, shove, yell, and it became increasingly clear that violence could break out very quickly. I was close enough to the ill-prepared young man to tell him that he needed to get Ship Security to the area quickly. He assured me, dismissively, that they already had security. Unfortunately, he was wrong. No Royal Caribbean Security personnel were in the area. They may have been viewing the situation via CCTV, but none were in the vicinity. In fact, the only Ship Security member we saw all day was leaning lazily against a railing on the exterior of the port side of the vessel. He did little to calm the crowd or inspire confidence for our safety. I spoke to the representative again and told him that I knew he was doing the best job that he could, but he was failing. I told him that the situation was growing increasingly volatile and could easily grow violent if he did not have security called immediately. As a Security Director, my job is to handle unruly crowds, be prepared for any eventuality, and most importantly, to have an emergency preparedness plan. There was no evidence of such preparation onboard Adventure of the Seas. No security personnel were present to keep the disembarkation line orderly. Areas were left exposed to allow passengers to shove their way into line and the amount of people gathered in such a small space, without order or instruction, made for a very terrifying fire hazard. I was able to note a multitude of security vulnerabilities during the time that I waited to leave the ship. I wonder how prepared the crew would be for an emergency at sea. Like approximately 3000 other passengers, Wendy and I missed our flight, scheduled for 2:10 p.m. from San Juan to Philadelphia. We were unable to obtain another flight out of San Juan on Sunday. We had to pay for two new airline tickets, pay for a hotel room, pay for dinner and breakfast, along with two cab rides to and from our hotel. The delay, caused by Royal Caribbean International’s inability to properly handle a difficult situation forced Wendy and I, and so many other passengers, to cancel appointments, call out from work, make hasty arrangements for babysitters, house sitters, and cat sitters, and spend a fortune in additional costs for plane tickets, hotel accommodations, and food. It was an unnecessary and unfortunate inconvenience and ruined what was otherwise a restful, relaxing, and wonderful vacation. After a week of every Royal Caribbean International crewmember going to great lengths to make us happy and comfortable, after hearing speech after speech from our Cruise Director telling us how much he wanted us to enjoy a vacation of a lifetime, after spending a fortune to do just that, we were ultimately let down by Royal Caribbean. Instead of returning home well rested, I returned stressed and anxious. While an apology from Royal Caribbean would not begin to make up for the extreme inconvenience, we did not receive even that. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I was on my first vacation in three years. We planned every step of the vacation carefully and selected Royal Caribbean because of your company’s reputation for being the premier cruise line. I completed a glowing review on the final evening of the cruise and even decided to enroll in the Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society – so sure that I wanted all of my future vacations to be onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Instead of coming home with positive memories, the performance of the Adventure of the Seas staff on that final day has left me disenchanted, disappointed, and disgusted. We do not know how we are going to recoup our unnecessary expenditures after being stranded for an extra day in Puerto Rico. I have high hopes to cruise again but I feel that I will have to choose one of Royal Caribbean’s competitors. It is a shame that after a week of working hard to impress the passengers of the Adventure of the Seas, we encountered nothing but apathetic, unsympathetic, and discourteous crewmembers, when we could find a crewmember at all. It seemed that after 8:00 a.m. that morning, we were no longer considered Royal Caribbean’s problem. We weren’t even off the ship before we were discounted and disposed! I am angry about the treatment we received and hope that Royal Caribbean will take the necessary and appropriate steps to rectify the deep disappointment that we, the Royal Caribbean Castaways faced on Sunday, 5 October 2004 and ensure that no future passengers have to face the panic, anxiety, and stress that comes with being stranded in a foreign land. All-in-all, we enjoyed every moment of our week until arriving back in San Juan. I would recommend cruising but would be very cautious when selecting your cruise line.

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Aug 22, 2004

Western Caribbean

We arrived in San Juan without any issues. Our flight landed at 4:30. We met the transfer group at the luggage claim. We were able to get right on the ship..no lines at that time. This was our second time on the adventure. We went on our honeymoon in October and had a great time. The itinerary was different for this cruise. We were very bored on the two days at sea. We spent a few hours poolside..watching the typical pool games-bellyflop

contest, horse race, sexy legs etc. It was like de-ja-vu! It was a different cruise director than in october...but he said the same lines! All of his comments and jokes were from the last guy. We thought since it was different ports and 10 months later we would have different on-board shows. wrong!! Velvet Rope, Can't stop the Rock, cool art hot ice were all repeats from our last trip. we were so dissapointed!! Granted these 3 shows are wonderful...it was kind of boring to sit through them again. As I said before, we were kinda bored an the ship. we don't like bingo, lost too much money too quickly in the casino, and aren't big drinkers. thats about all there was to do besides swim in the over crowded with children pool. nothing like getting jumped on by a group on 6 year olds in the pool. The adults only pool didn't have the band and was also crowded. our dining room service in october was EXCELLENT! this time it stunk!! we were at a table of 8 (fun people from NY - two sisters, their husbands, and a 25 yr old daughter and her 25 year old friend) dinner took close to 2 hours to finish. in october it took 35 minutes! the waiter fell all over one of the 25 year old girls. i soon realized why! my husband and i are only 25, we look even younger, and i'm sure the waiter assumed we didn't have much money and wouldn;t generously tip. The other couple was in the 50's and very well dressed. I believe the waiter felt that if he paid special attention to their daughter then he would receieve a bigger tip. we were practically ignored. but anyway...service in the main dining room sucked! we were greatly dissapointed and did in fact give him a smaller tip than suggested (we are usually generous). now on to the food....gross!! the windjammer food was cafeteria style...poor quality, but many options. the dining room food was no better, but less options. the presentation was beatiful, but the portions were miniscule and the quality was horrible!! i work in a school and the cafeteria serves better tasting meals. this was also and issue in october...but i had forgotten just how bad it was. One particular night i ordered jerk chicken...i hated it so i didn't end up eating it. we had been in the dining room for an hour and a half already and i just wanted to get out. so we went to the prominade for A sandwich...but all they had was tuna (i hate fish) so we went to johnnie rockets and ordered a grilled cheese with tomato. 20 minutes later it came out...no tomatoe. it was 2 pieces of toast with a warm slice of cheese in it. no butter, no grill, not melted gooey cheese. it was so dry i took one bite and we left. the wind jammer was closed at this point. needless to say i went to bed hungry that night. this should never happen on a cruise! our stateroom attendant was very quiet and almost angry. she did clean our room very well so we tipped her the suggested amount. she just didn't seem to like her job or the peopel on the ship. in october our stateroom attendant was very friendly and went out of his way to say hi and ask how our day was. this lady saw us coming, mummbled hi and took off. noty a big deal, but a little strange. We loved all 4 islands we visited. curacao was very pretty. we found an almost deserted beach that a crew from a magazine was taking pictures of models at. in aruba we went to palm beach..very nice water but busy with boats and jet ski's. we had booked a quad tour with Rancho Notorious months in advance. come the day of the tour the guide showed up 10 minutes late to the meeting area and brought us to his house in a beat up car! His yard looked like a junk yard, his wife was running the "office" (a shack made out of drift wood) it was very dirty and scary! apparently rancho notorious overbooked and sold us to the guy! he owned 2 quads (both pieces of junk!). he got in the car and had us follow him (because he didn't have enough quads for himself!) mine kept back firing and my husbands stalled a few times. he brought us on a very long tour to some pretty sights. we had never laughed so hard! we wore old army helmets and filthy goggles. at the end of the tour my husbands chain fell off so he had to get in the car to go back to the guys house. once there he brought out all kinds of food...salmon on crackers, tuna on crackers, lime juice. my husband was brave and took some...i just stuck with my bottle of water. this guy was very nice and tried hard. i will NEVER again book with rancho notorious. we paid almsot $140 for the tour and ended up in some guys yard. in st thomas we went to saphire beach. it was absolutely gorgeous. the swimming wasn't the best because it is mostly a reef, but the snorkeling was great. they rent gear there for $5 an hour and we saw some amazing fish. we did an exsersion in st martin called sensation beach esacpe or something like that. it went to marigot(french capital) and was soooo boring! the bus was so hot everyone was grouchy and miserable. the beach was nice. the water was very rough and the waves were like 6 ft high. we had a great time but people with little kids, and older people were very unhappy. they couldn't even go in the water. i think we should have been told how rough the atlantic side was and that the beach would have huge waves. in san juan our flight wasn't leaving until 5:45pm so we booked the bacardo rum tour. bacardi tour was ok, but again the bus was too hot. we went to a fort and had 30 minutes...of course one lady took 45 minutes so we all had to sit on the hot bus and wait for her. we then went to old san juan for 30 minutes. again the same lady was late! ! we circled around for her andf finally found her still shopping!! i was so mad...i think we should have left her there. she wasn't even embarrassed about keeping us waiting (again) for another 20 minutes!! so then we get to the airport where our luggage is waiting for us. we have a few hours before we can board our plane. this city/island is disgusting. the amount of poverty is crazy. 45% klive in government housing. but anyway...the airport bathrooms were disgracful. some were so dirty that i couldn't even use them. we had to hunt around for cleaner ones. i have been in cleaner/fresher smelling outhouses! so thats our trip....nice islands, poor food, not so great service, beatiful ship, not enough activities/entertainment here are my own personal ratings ship appearance: A+ interior stateroom: B+ dining room service: C dining room food: C windjammer service A windjammer food C- Rancho Notorious F- St martin sensation excursion: B san Juan excursion C San Juan cleanliness F feel free to email me with any questions you have about the ship or itinerary

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Jul 11, 2004

Western Caribbean

First off let me say the ship is absolutely magnificent. My wife and I took this cruise w/o children from July 11 - July 18 out of San Juan to Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten, and St Thomas. It is unbelievable how they were able to put so many things on to this ship. The few areas where I feel they could make improvements (and there were not many) which I will mention in this review will certainly not deter me from sailing on this ship again.

I am already planning on sailing on it next year to the other itinerary. A few areas that I would like to see improved: 1. faster check in - we arrived at the pier at 1:45 and got on a very long line. We did not get aboard the ship until 3:30. My wife was told that there was a drug bust with a passenger from the previous cruise coming off earlier and therefore everything came to a stop. I do not know if this was the case or not, and if so it was out of the control of RC. It actually was not so bad, afterall, you're on vacation and my company was great (my wife) so we passed the time by chatting and looking forward to our next 7 days on the cruise. 2. Captain's Night - thought they should have had some picky type foods while drinking the champaign, mimosas, and rum punch. We had the second seating dinner and were getting hungry so we thought it would have been nice to just "pick" a little. 3. My biggest area of concern is the need for supervision at the pools. Because the ship has so much to offer to children, you will find an enormous amount of families on this cruise ship. Although the ship does have the solarium which only allows adults and is beautiful and very nice, I particularly enjoy being at the main pools where the band is playing and is what I consider the heart and soul of the cruise ship during the day. The solarium is much more peaceful, but in my opinion away from the action. I have seven kids of my own so I know how kids can be kids, but there is a limit. Some of what was going on around the pool areas went beyond fun and was dangerous and very bothersome to other cruisers. There is not suppose to be any jumping or horseplay, but kids were jumping from the railings of the adjacent hot tubs, doing flips, diving and jumping into the hot tubs, throwing water at each other with their cups in the hot tub, etc. On a couple of occasions, we had to find someone to complain to, but they need to have someone supervising this because the parents certainly are not going to. More than it being a nuisance, I was concerned that someone was going to split their head open. Those are really the only "negatives" I have about the cruise. Positives: 1. All of the crew from maintenance to officers were extremely friendly and helpful. 2. Food throughout the ship was excellent. You may not always like something, but there are plenty of choices and if you choose something you do not care for, you can always order something different. 3. Our dinner waiters Richard and Filip were outstanding and we looked forward to seeing them every evening. Their efforts were second to none. 4. Although the ship is immense, it was very easy to get from one place to another. Within the first day we had the ship down pat. Everything aboard the ship was very clean and well kept. 5. Ice show is a must see. 6. With 3,200 people aboard you would think that everything would be crowded, but it was not. Plenty of room and so much to do spreads the people out. There was no need to get to anything too early because the theatre and ice rink are very big and hold a lot of people. 7. Getting off and on the ship for excursions was a breeze, very easy on and off. 8. At end of cruise getting off ship was very smooth and clearing customs went great. 9. Entertainment and shows were outstanding. The RC singers and dancers are fantastic, we could watch and listen to them all night. 10. Johnny Rockets is a blast, Royal Promenade makes you feel like you're in New Orleans, Casino very nice. What else can I say other than WOW what a cruise. If you're reading this I say hello to Ed and Leslie and to Mike and Donna and thanks for being part of our dinner group and making it such a wonderful, fun experience. If anyone has any questions or would like some pictures sent to them I would be happy to do so. Let me know. Last thing to mention if I haven't already is if you are looking for a cruise where there are not many kids this is not the one for you. Perhaps one of the RC smaller ships would be more to your liking. If that isn't a concern take the Adventure.

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Jun 27, 2004

Canada

We live in a suburb of Philadelphia so this was a great itinerary. Leaving from Bayonne, NJ only 90 minutes north. Great trip. I would, however, forewarn guests to arrive early at the Bayonne port, and be in the FAR RIGHT HAND LANE to park. Unfortunately there are no signs directing traffic-nightmare-and we got into the wrong lane-the left because it was moving-only to find us leaving and making a u-turn to come back. Other than that

and the bussing from the check-in pier-again no signage and miserable help, it was ok. We took the New York harbour tour and, get this, the bus that brought us back to the pier could not take us to the ship-about 1/4 mile away-union rules. The check in was fine-they had a lunch at the port for us in the lesser class of cabins, and for the suites,I understand they had a bigger buffet. My guess is they had warmer hot dogs, colder sodas. etc. Our cabin - 9469-was in a great location. The weather was chilly which was expected-high was 60 in New Brunswick and in Halifax. The ship was almost totally sold out-loads of family reunions, plenty of well behaved kids AND adults. Great ice show. A tip on the ice show-get in line early for tickets. Some negatives- cabin showers are fine if you don't weight more than 180 pounds. There were several heavy weights that took showers at the spa because they couldn't fit into the cabin showers. No pool cover. It would have been great on the trip because of the cool temperatures. Royal Promanade-Royal pain in the butt. If you don't order a bar drink, there is no place for anything cold except water and that nasty coffee. Thay ration the food-which is ok for me-at the food court. Plenty of whinning about that. There are 14 bars on board and you can get a "soda pass" for the week if one must have soda. We found the ice tea and lemonade-when available-were great. Also if you wanted ice it necessitated a trip back to the cabin as none was available anywhere except at a bar. Casino-noisy, and reeking of cigarette smoke which found its way up the stairs to the Promanade. Island grill is open only at lunch. The Windjammer is closed at 5 for the balance of the day. Johnny Rockets was always crowded since the Windjammer was closed. Impossible to get a reservation at Portofino. It seats 70 at 2 seatings. With 3,000+ passengers on 5 nights, well, no reservations. It was booked by 8PM on Friday. It looked lovely. No midnight buffets except for the less-than-grand buffet. Pretty tired looking wax sculptures and ok fruit and cakes. Wed took photos and left. More than 75% of the passengers were first time cruisers. We never actually met our cabin steward although we did say hi once in a while. Our dinner companions raved over their cabin stewards. Something was missing there. Meals were very good-nothing bad the entire week. The ice show was fantastic; the rest of the entertainment, well, everyones tasts are different. The reviews were ok-the "screamers", oops, singers, we had seen on the Grandeur of the Seas last year. Herb Reed of the Platters was a guest at the 11:30 show- which we skipped, again having seen him last year. Disembarcation. Again, needs work. With 3,000+ passengers it was chaotic but we were off the ship, bussed to the luggage depot, schlepped our suitcases across a partially paved parking lot, and on the NJ turnpike by 10:30Am, and at the grocery store by noon, home by 1:30. Major gripe: disabled passengers should always be off the ship FIRST and not herded in with the rest of the passengers. It is unfair to push someone in a wheelchair with the crowds of anxious passengers disembarking. They and families with small children in strollers should be off the ship FIRST. This trip is a definite winner for the price, departure port and itinerary. It's just enough to say you got away, but not long enough to be unhappy.

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May 25, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

This is a family oriented review of our cruise on Adventure of the Seas. I will make some comparisons to the Cruise that we took last year on Voyager of the Seas. For our May 2004 cruise we booked a Family Stateroom 6500. This sleeps six comfortably, especially when four are children. The room is not overly large and privacy can be a problem as the only doors are the main cabin door and bathroom door. A large curtain partitions the

main cabin separating the sofa bed and queen bed. Another curtain closes off the small room with the bunk beds. There is no DVD player, but programming on the standard size TV was entertaining for the kids. Storage was OK, but not great. Last year we had booked a Family Suite. This had tons of room and was very comfortable (not luxurious). This Suite has two bathrooms and doors that close the Master Bedroom off from the rest of the cabin. It also had a DVD player hooked up to the standard size TV in the Lounge/Dining area. This cabin easily had enough storage for its capacity of eight people. For our five it seemed spacious. One item about the Family Staterooms forward on deck six. They are located just above an area for crew recreation (sunning). There are metal gates on either side of this area and metal hatches opening into the ship. These gates and hatches slammed all day and night at odd times. Loudly. We also had problems getting the curtains on the windows to close all the way. This bothered my wife, who needs darkness to “sleep in” properly. Adventure Ocean is popular with the 10 and under crowd. I highly recommend this program for the kids. On both Formal Nights the kids can be signed up to eat at Johnny Rockets supervised by the Adventure Ocean Staff. My 7 and 9 year olds always wanted to stay as late as possible. Note: you pay for “Late Night”, but it is great for the parents and kids. For the older kids the program is poor. My son is 13 and did not feel comfortable in the Teen Disco. The activities that the Staff organized for young Teenagers never inspired or entertained him. I think the idea is to encourage Teens to stay in the arcade and spend money. I firmly told my kids that I was not paying one cent for the Arcade. Optix should have Play Stations or Game Cubes, in addition to the Disco. Cabin TVs should be compatible with these game systems, too. Heck, if RCCL wants to make money they could rent these systems out. The arcade could be more for adults, of which there were always a few. I am not surprised that teenagers are often an annoyance on these cruises. Teenagers should be entertained, too. Last year we took Voyager of the seas to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozemel. My older son, at twelve was bored out of his skull until we started hitting the beach and doing tours. We rode horses in Jamaica, including in the water, swam with stingrays in Cayman and snorkeled in Mexico. In May 2004 we did SCUBA at St. Johns (Coki Beach Dive Club for kids 8 and older), America’s Cup Regatta at St. Maarten, sailed on the Unicorn and climbed up to Fort Rodney at St Lucia and snorkeled with Turtles at Barbados. Lots of activities to keep the teenagers busy and happy. I also bought the Laptop for games and DVDs. Overall, I highly recommend the Voyager Class of ships for a family vacation.

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Apr 7, 2004

Southern Caribbean

Ill make this quick, and hopefully it helps anyone who is reading for advicce. Boarding the ship is unusually quick, food was great, service was great, ship was great, except it could use more shuffleboard or pingpong. Entertainment was great, rooms were great, ans all the amenities were awesome. Ive been on three royal caribbean cruises so far, Voyager, western caribbean 2002, rhapsody western caribbean 2003, and adventure southern

caribbean 2004. RATINGS: Voyager Food 9.2 Ship 9.5 Service 9.1 Amenities 9.5 Adventure Food 9.0 Ship 9.1 Service 8.9 Amenties 9.1 Rhapsody Food 9.5 Ship 9.4 Service 9.6 Amenties 9.3

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By Gene_CR

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Feb 1, 2004

Southern Caribbean

Embarkation Embarkation was to begin at 4pm - we arrived at 3 pm and were on the ship and in our cabin in about 15 minutes - very efficient! Ship In a word - AMAZING! This is the seventh (and best) cruise ship I have been on. Not only the sheer size of the ship but the intelligent design and artistry make this vessel stand out. Where to begin? The Royal Promenade is a brilliant "downtown" for this little floating city.

The "Main Street USA" of the seas. Excellent for people watching. They even have a parade! At one end are the theatres - at the other end the 3 story main dining room. In between - shopping, a quaint English pub with appropriate live music (and Guinness!), a cafe with snacks, pastries, pizza and loads of coffee, the usual ship-board shopping, a sports bar and access to the large casino one flight down. Royal Carribean did something realy cool on this ship - inside cabins with a view (overlooking the Royal Prominade). The Rock Climbing Wall - Tried it twice (made it more then half way up). The key is use your legs or your arms will get really sore (trust me - I looked like Popeye after my first attempt). Miniature Golf - Very cool on a ship! Basketball / Volleyball Court - When the court is empty it's fun to horse around and shoot some hoops. Also fun to watch when a game gets going. Pools - There is a great (adults only) pool area that is very nice (the deck chairs are more comfortable). A little more shady and a bit more sheltered from the wind. Excellent spot for a snooze - my wife called it "nap row". The decor was a Venetian type of theme. The main pool area is great too - with plenty of live music. Entertainment Ice Show - Probably the best show I ever saw at sea. Great stuff! I believe the rink is open for skaters when not in use by the show staff. Not being a skater myself I don't know this firsthand. Feature Acts - A really funny comic (forgot his name) performed as well as the old time act The Coasters ("Charlie Brown"). The production shows were good - similar to what I've seen on other cruise lines. G rated Vegas review stuff. Shopping Didn't do to much shopping - YEAH! Bought souvenirs for everyone at work in one spot in Aruba - T shirts 7 for $20. Key chains 6 for $5. That's it - I'm done! Oh - and we bought a 6 pack of rum cake on the ship - also a great gift! Ports Aruba - Booked a snorkeling excursion through the ship. Rode a catamaran out to a cool reef for some snorkeling then sailed to a ship wreck for some more snorkeling before we sailed back to the ship (rum punch included). A great trip (did the same excursion last time we were in Aruba). Worth the money. After lunch took a 2 1/2 hour island tour for $10. Went to the natural bridge and various points of interest. If crazy partying is your thing then go to "Carlos and Charlies" in Aruba (a two minute walk / stumble) from the pier. We didn't stay long but in that short time we took part in the tequila shot conga line (imagine a line of grown men and women dancing past a guy pouring a tequila concoction in their open mouths as they dance by - reminded me of a bunch of drunk, dancing baby birds waiting to be fed) and were dancing some wacky dance on the bar. Enjoy! Curacao - Took a cab ($14 for two) to a really cool aquarium ($15 admission). After we strolled over to a really nice beach by the aquarium ($3 for a chair). Took a cab back to town - had a local flavor of Amstel beer (just like Corona - with the lime). Don't miss the floating pontoon bridge that opens for boats on occasion. Jumped onto the bridge as it was opening - otherwise we would have had to take the (free) ferry across. Very colorful (friendly) town. St Martin - Went to Orient Beach (and yes we went to the nude beach and, unlike most ship people, we went native. And loved it!) If you do as we did be warned - you may bump into your (fully clothed) dinner table mates. They were more embarrassed then I was (hello - its a nude beach! didn't you see the sign? what did you expect to see?) St Thomas / St Johns - Trunk Bay - AMAZING! This must be where beaches go when they die! Bumped into the same table mates here too. Our driver to Trunk Bay told us to remember his name (Beva) for the return journey, so to make remembering it easier I tried to think of some thing to remind me of his name. So I started singing "Beva Las Vegas". A few hours later when it was time to find our driver I thought for a second and then said to my wife - "Ok - now lets go find Belvis" (Ok - maybe you had to be there - but boy did we laugh!!!). Puerto Rico - El Morrow fort in San Juan still amazes me - and I've been there 4 times in the last 4 years. Try not to miss it! Matter of fact try not to miss old San Juan in general - I could wonder that place for hours - and at sunset - WOW! Food Pretty average (meaning good) for a cruise. My wife says it was a bit better then Carnival but not quite as good as Norwegian. Didn't have a bad meal. And remember on lobster tail formal night - you can order as many as you can eat! Packing Try to travel light and remember - you WILL return with more stuff then what you came with. Also - remember that your luggage may not get to your room for a few hours - so pack a few items (ie bathing suit) in your carry on that you may need immediately after getting on the ship. Here's a tip that I use (I've been made fun of for it but that's ok, I'm gonna tell you anyway). I throw away my luggage. Let me explain. My drawers and closets are full of stuff that is on the verge of being thrown away. For the flight out - I wore a pair of torn jeans and a shirt with an ink stain that I can't wear to work. That night - in the trash. I have a drawer full of sweat socks that are on their last legs (no pun intended) when I've worn them once - out they go. No smelly socks stinking up my luggage. Old t-shirts - wear 'em and chuck 'em. Wore a pair of beat up old sneakers every beach trip - they got sandy, salty and dirty. Who cares! Last day of the trip - in the trash. For reading material - bring all those old magazines you haven't gotten around to reading that are lying around the house. Chuck them when you're done. Feel free to modify this technique as you feel appropriate. It will guarantee that your luggage will have room for all the worthless junk you didn't plan on coming back home with. It will help you in your spring cleaning. After your trip packing, unpacking and laundry are now that much easier. (I don't recommend this tip for clothes to be worn on formal nights). Dis-Embarkation We had a 1 pm flight. Left our room before 8am. Had a relaxing breakfast. We were off the ship just after 9. At the airport by 10. Whent through check-in in 20 minutes (I think we were lucky - other folks had much longer waits). Security took another 20 minutes. Be warned - at San Juan airport they will occasionally change the gate of a flight without making an announcement. Half an hour before your flight ask at the counter if you are at the right gate (this happend to us two of the four times we sailed out of San Juan). Gene

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Dec 7, 2003

Southern Caribbean

This was our third cruise and our long awaited honeymoon. It was our third cruise as we had previously been on RCCL’s Rhapsody and Sovereign. Overall the cruise was a wonderful vacation. The ship is a marvel of modern engineering, and the ports are great as well. Embarkation: RCCL will allow passengers to start boarding at around 2:00 pm on the day of the sailing. The airport is well stationed with RCCL employees directing passengers

to appropriate busses. We heard from other guests that the lines at the cruise terminal early were a nightmare and took almost 2 hours to pass through. Due to our later flight, we did not get to the ship terminal until around 5:00. Boarding the ship was a breeze! The only line we had to wait in was to take our embarkation picture. Our luggage was delivered to the room just before dinner, but with plenty of time to meet our table showered and dressed up. Entertainment: The ice show and the comedian were very entertaining, but the headliners and the RC singers and dancers were sub-par at best. We thoroughly enjoyed the comedian’s wit and were amazed by the ice show. The ice show is an absolute must see. They really put some time and effort into its production. Ship: Amazing is the best word I can think to describe it. Not only was it state of the art, it was also very well kept and never felt crowded. The pools were great, the hot tubs were a lot of fun, and the dining room was beautiful. The Adventure has everything you could possibly want. Our stateroom was very accommodating and we really enjoyed the private balcony overlooking the sea and the ports. Our favorite places to enjoy the world were the pools on the main deck, the gravity sports bar, and our balcony. Food: This is where the cruise somewhat struggled relative to the previous Royal Caribbean cruises that I have been on. The food in the dining room had its moments, such as lobster night, but was not up to the standards RCCL showed us on prior cruises. The Windjammer is a not much different than a high school cafeteria. Do what you can to avoid it. The pizza and sandwiches at the promenade café are certainly a good substitute. For days that we wanted a quick lunch, we stopped into Johnny Rockets and loved it each time. The shakes are worth every dime as well. When you sit down, they bring out a bowl of fries and onion rings with ketchup and ranch dressing. At first I thought it was part of a dream. Crew: The crewmembers that worked for tips could not have been better. They worked hard and were very pleasant. Our stateroom attendant and waiter did whatever they could to make our trip better. The crewmembers that did not get tips could not have cared less about your questions or requests. I could not believe some of the reactions we got for simple questions when were first learning the ship. On the Adventure, asking for ketchup or how to get to the pool will get you an eye roll. Ports: Each island is very beautiful and is surrounded by beautiful water. In Aruba, we took a $4 city bus up to Arashi Beach, which is right next to the California Lighthouse. We are scuba divers, so we had snorkel equipment and we able to go snorkeling. We swam out to a reef about 75 yards from the shore and snorkeled with people that booked the excursion from the ship. The difference is about $35 per person. In Curacao we booked the 2 tank dive through RCCL and enjoyed it for the coral and the marine life. It was a shore dive, but a very good one. In St. Maarten, we rode horses with Lucky Stables on the island. We booked it with them direct and were the envy of many that felt limited to the RCCL list. The guide took us on a two-hour ride through a mountainous area and on the beach. The trip ends with swimming the horses in the ocean. Cost is $50 per person, plus a $5 for the taxi ride to the stable. Lucky Stables has a website if you want more info on the rides. St. Thomas is the most beautiful island on the tour in my opinion. We rode the Kon Tiki party raft and had a great time. We heard that the snorkeling there was great as well. Disembarking: Patience is the key. Over 3000 people have to get off the boat and that can never be a quick process. However, RCCL did a nice job of communicating and making it as painless as possible. Other comments: This is very important if you have young children. Like most cruises, if the cruise is not full, they will offer unbelievable deals to get more people on to the ship. As a result, many people that are normally deterred by the cost of the get on for the week. This group makes their presence known strongly and their children run around like wild animals. Ship rules are treated as suggestions and common courtesy is non-existent. Young children will be introduced to very provocative displays of affection in the public areas of the ship such as the hot tub, the dining room, stairways, and the promenade. While I will most likely go on future RCCL cruises, this will be our last out of San Juan. In conclusion, we really enjoyed the Adventure of the Seas and its itinerary. The ship and ports were great and will be remembered forever. Hopefully this review will give you some insight that will help you to have the best time possible while sailing on the Adventure of the Seas! BA

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Oct 21, 2003

Southern Caribbean

This was our honeymoon and 1st ever cruise. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and recommend both the cruise line as well as the ship. This is my story. Embarkation : We flew into San Juan from Montreal, Canada (via Newark, NJ) on Continental. We passed by security with ease, and met up with our RCC contact. The transfer was a smooth transition, and our luggage showed up at our room without incident. One thing we did not do was put our

luggage tags on our bags before we left home. I WOULD RECOMMEND YOU PUT YOUR TAGS ON BEFORE YOU LEAVE. We took the Royal Caribbean arranged shuttle to the ship. When we arrived at the ship we were able to check in without a problem and didn’t have to wait at all. That was a huge relief. We got our ship card and got right on the ship after a painless picture was taken. Ship: The Adventure Of The Seas was a relatively young ship, no more than 1 year old. It was huge, tastefull, and relatively easy to navigate through. The elevators (though there are many of them) are usually in use when you seem to need one. I recommend waiting only if you have multiple decks to climb, and to take the stairs when going down. Stateroom: We had an balcony stateroom. We were pleasantly surprised at how spacious it was even though we hadn’t cruised before. There are tons hidden cubbies behind mirrors above the desk and in the bathroom and the closet is a decent size. The love seat was comfortable and all of our suitcases easily fit under the bed. Food: We ate in the main dining room every night. We found the food to be great, and I am one picky eater! We thought about eating in the Portofino restaurant, but couldn’t seem to justify the extra spending, especially since we had no bad experiences in the main dining hall, and that the food was already paid for/included.. The best part is the variety - there is something for everyone. Our waiter was great with his recommendations for the meals. We ate our breakfasts and most lunches in the Windjammer, though we did try breakfast in the main dining hall once, but was unimpressed. Entertainment: Overall we enjoyed the entertainment, however trying to stay awake after dinner was difficult for the late late show, and we didn’t want to rush to the early one. That’s the only downside to the late dinner seating. The animators and staff on board were fantastic, and tried their best to accommodate in every way possible. Ports: We enjoyed our port selection, and had great weather in all locations. Aruba, Curacao, St.Marteen, St.Thomas are the islands we visited. Jewelery was abundant, and guys, don’t let your girls try on too much stuff. It gets easy to get caught into buying too much, especially when the beer is on the house while you’re waiting. Shop around, and follow the RCC guidelines. Days at sea were restfull, even on the cloudy days. Never worry about potentially bad weather… you can’t change it, but can certainly make the best of it. Disembarkation L: It was a sad day leaving the ship. We ate our last breakfast in the dining room, a nice change from the Windjammer, but remember that food issue I said earlier. Disembarkation went very smoothly. We had no problems going through customs. We put our bags on a truck to get to the airport and got on a bus for the airport. Unfortunately our flights were delayed, and all we wanted to do, was to get home. All in all, we can thank Royal Caribbean for making our honeymoon the best that we could have hoped for.

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Oct 19, 2003

Southern Caribbean

WOW.. that is the first thing that comes to mind when you see this ship! We had a late flight into San Juan, arriving at about 7:30 PM.. the airport was not crowded there were Cruise line people waiting at EVERY possible turn at the airport to make sure you got where you needed to be. We got to the ship around 8:15 PM and our suit cases were not there YET, so I would recommend packing a carry-on bag..keep it with you on the plane,

with contact solution if you need that kid of stuff, swim suit, maybe a lite jacket or long sleeved shirt if you are prone to get chilly; As you will be on the ship and want to run around looking or even want to jump in the hot-tub or pool, and your luggage will not get to you until about the time you sail (10:00) Things for 1st timers.. PACK LIGHT!!! oh my lord we packed too many changes of clothes, 2-3 swim suits.. 2-3 changes of shorts per day...shirts YADAA YADA YADA... you are on vacation.. take a pair of sandels, a pair of Sneakers..a pair of dress shoes if you choose to do formal nights..and that's IT for shoes, 1-2 swim suits.. a few comfy Tee shirts, 2-3 polo shirts, 2-3 pair of baggy shorts to put on over your swim suit..a pair of Dockers or 2 and you are packed!!! leave room in your suit case as you will buy trinkets to bring back.. and if your suit case if full on arrival..you will need to buy another to go home with. BAR-SERVICE.... there will be people selling you drinks as soon as you get to the pool deck! these are great drinks.. but they are in EXPENSIVE fancy glasses.. we are talking $8.95 but you keep the glass.. so if you like the glass and buy the drink...have them re-use the glass next time and you will only pay $4.50 for the drinks!! or goto the bar and get your own for $4.00 or so, we didn't learn this until about the 4th round of 8.95 drinks!! FOOD dine at the Dinning room the first night you can!! that way you can meet the people at your table, you may LOVE them and meet friends for life, and have fun people to hang out on the ship with...or you may find that they are sticks in the mud...and you may want to eat else where:) Just being married the day before I did not want to dress up, and wait in line for photos to eat at formal night, so we ate at other places on the ship all nights but the last night, I wish we would have gone to the dinning room a few more times, the food there is MUCH MUCH better.. but we did not starve, We spent most of the mornings on the 12th deck at the Windjammer Cafe, this is a multi-line buffet with great fast food of all types... you walk up and grab as much of what ever you like.. pizza, burgers, sea food.. salads, pasta... just a lot of good food with a great view..and you can wear short etc. Johnny rockets is also free food..Johnny rockets is a 50's 60s style hamburger joint complete with nickel jukeboxes (they will bring you nickels if you have none) they come to your table the moment you sit down with a bowl of French fries, and onion rings, ranch dressing and Ketchup.. you can eat as much free fries, and onion rings as you care to!! only the liquor and sodas (and Malts in Johnny rockets) cost extra I would advise buying the soft drink card..I think it is $33.00 and you get unlimited sodas the whole cruise.. if you are a soda junkie..it is worth it, I got a headache the first day from not drinking any sodas.. only the free waters and lemonaides... a shot of COKE perked me right up..and sodas are $1.75 each on the ship.. after a day or 2 of sodas you would have that card paid off!. There is also a great pizza joint on the 5th deck it is called the Promonade cafe' it is open til the wee hours in the morning and is free to eat there as well. there is another italian resturant on board it costs $20.00 per person to eat there.. but then the food is free..you pay for the booze. Shopping on board they have some great watches..Tee shirts and cloths set up the first day you get there... all of that stuff goes on sale for about 1/3 price the last day of at sea.. save your money!! same with shopping at ports of calls.. Aruba.. expensive.. but nice! Curaso.. dirty..but lots of shops.. St. Martin, and St. Thomas.. where the deals are!! You will eat like horses on this boat..if you don't want to gain weight..take the stairs...always if you are going DOWN decks.. and if we were going up 4 or less decks.. we took the steps! we only gained 5 lbs. Take sun-block!! if you are doing any snorkeling, or swimming.. take SUN-BLOCK for the head, ears, and lips!!! Eye-drops are not a bad idea either! I purchased a lot of trail sized shampoos, toothpastes, anything I could..so at the end of the week I just threw them away, so I had more room in the suit case..and did not have to worry about them leaking on the way home! Cameras.. if you do any snorkeling.. get underwater cameras and LOTS of them..at HOME they are about $8.00 in the USA and about $25.00 anywhere in walking distance at any port or on the ship! Take a portable alarm clock.. there are now clocks in the rooms, and the rooms are DARK.. unless you have an outside room.. or an inside view room like we had, but we closed the curtains to keep the light out at night.. and when you woke up in the morning, you could not tell if it was day or night unless you turned on the TV..and saw the outside cameras. you can get wake up calls from the phones, which is a must if you have any morning excursions planned. Excursions.. plan them soon. When you get on the ship, book them!! they fill up fast, but don't do more then 1 per port or you will be tired!!!! I strongly suggest the Debloon snokeling trip to Turtle Cove!! we did a snorkel or scuba trip at each island... they were the BEST great group, fun sail boat ride to turtle.. great views of large sea turtles, baracudi, squid, fish... and BOAT DRINKS for the ride home!!!! A++ excursion. On your last night, you must put your suit-cases in the hall and what you go to bed with is all you will have for the ride to the airport.. so again.. the carry on bag.. wear what you will to bed, but leave what you will need the next day in your carry-on bag.. have fun!

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By Lynn_CR

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Aug 24, 2003

Southern Caribbean

My family and I sailed on the RCCL-Adventure of the Seas in August 2003. The ship is beautiful. We have gone on five cruises total and this is by far the prettiest ship we have ever been on. We always go on Carnival and decided to change. What a mistake that was. The food on this cruise was awful. I mean awful. Down to the coffee! The coffee was awful. If you plan on going on this cruise, take a minute and listen to what I am saying.

They serve the same old menu for breakfast every morning. The food has no taste! They should fire the chef and hire Carnival’s. Portofino’s which is a restaurant that you pay $20.00 for is excellent. But, why should you have to pay for good food – you’ve already paid. The kids programs are great and the pools are good. There is an adult pool only which is good. The spa is more advertising and selling than the actual event. The ports are good. We loved San Juan and Aruba. The bargains that you get in St. Thomas are awesome. You can save a lot of money on jewelry. Even the drinks were just so-so. Unlike Carnival. The fun, the food and everything is excellent. I won’t ever go back on RCCL – any ship. I will always go on Carnival. Like I said, listen to what I’m saying about the food. It’s not worth having a beautiful ship and the food stinks.

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Aug 17, 2003

St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua

Dear all, I am not a complainer, but I have a complaint all should know about. I have been fighting with Royal Caribbean for over a month now regarding a watch, brand new in the package that was removed by my stateroom attendant (either by accident or on purpose). The watch was a Citizen Dive watch purchased at Colombian Emeralds International at Antigua. Upon finding that the watch was not in my room I immediately went to the guest

services to file a complaint. I provided a receipt and asked for an investigation to be started regarding the disappearance of the dive watch. I was told the day before departing the ship that the item was thrown away and that the watch would be replaced immediately upon their return to St. Thomas (3 days later). I spoke to the purser and the head manager who was in charge of guest shopping. She assured me that within a week I would get a replacement watch. A month has passed. I have spoken to Royal Caribbean five times, each time they claim to be waiting for a response from the ship. They claim they can't even call the ship and that as soon as the ship answers the claim they will make a decision regarding whether or not to replace the watch. All this and the stateroom attendant admitting that the package was thrown away by accident. I strongly suggest that you think twice about cruising with Royal Caribbean. Their customer service after the sale is absolutely horrible. I have contacted the BBB and low and behold there are hundreds of open cases regarding property theft and customer service complaints with Royal Caribbean. My latest phone call today September 19th is over a month after I sailed on the Adventure of the Seas. They keep telling me I will have to wait, because they have not received one bit of response from the ship. Totally unacceptable. With Regret, Bernard

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Aug 17, 2003

Southern Caribbean

Summary Onboard service = A Food quality = A Cabin accommodations = A Off-shore excursions = A- (can be pricey) Ship amenities = A Casino slot machine payouts = don’t ask This was the second cruise for my wife and I. Our first cruise was on a smaller ship (to the Western Caribbean) in the mid 1990’s. This time we wanted a larger cruise ship and we wanted to see islands in the Southern Caribbean. After a moderate amount of research,

we decided to book our 7-day cruise on Royal Caribbean. The cruise was on the Adventure of the Seas, which departed San Juan, Puerto Rico and cruised to St. Thomas, St. Marten, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. We arrived in San Juan a day early and stayed at the Marriott Hotel Resort. Check-in was pleasant and quick and we had a room with a beach/ocean view. As we arrived in the early afternoon, we decided to grab a quick lunch and head to Castillo de San Felipe del Morro (a fort in old San Juan considered a National Historical Site by the National Park Service). From the Marriott, it was an inexpensive taxi ride (less than $15) to the fort. By the way, taxis do not run by meter. The charge is by destination. The fort was part of the defenses of old San Juan built by Spain when they controlled the island. We then walked briefly around old San Juan before heading back to the hotel for showers and dinner. All in all, a nice, relaxing way to spend the day before the cruise. The next day we took a taxi to the pier to begin our cruise. Taxi fare was once again below $15.00. Boarding time began at 2PM and we arrived shortly before 2PM. Luggage is collected before you enter the embarkation building and we wound up leaving three pieces of luggage with port workers and tipped them $3.00. Tipping, however, is optional. We then entered the building and were asked to sit down in one of the many rows of seats and wait for our row to be called. At this point let me digress. When your documentation booklet from Royal Caribbean arrives, you will find a page within the booklet asking for personal information. This is to be filled out and presented to the check-in agent prior to boarding. You have the option of filling out this information via the Internet or filling out the form and having it ready at check-in. I filled out the forms (one for each of us) on the Internet and all information was computerized and available at check-in. When our row was called, we proceeded into the main check-in area where the line was long but moved smoothly and reasonably quickly. There was a duty-free store selling liquor and giving away free samples of rum-laced fruit drinks. I took the opportunity to sample a number of flavors. There was not enough rum in the samples to worry about getting tipsy, so for those of you who have low tolerances to alcohol, go for it. When we reached the check-in desk we were pleasantly greeted and were asked for our passports and credit card. Our personal information (see previous paragraph) was already in their computer. The check-in agent then generated a plastic card the size of a credit card which is used for all on-board purchases and as your room key. We learned that no cash is required to make any purchase on the ship. All you do is present the card given to you at check-in and they automatically post it to your on-board spending account. At the end of the trip they will give you a listing of the amount you’ve spent and the total will be posted to your credit card number (you may be thinking, this can add up quickly; your right). The best way to see how much your spending is to access your account daily on your room TV). After check-in (which took no longer than 30-40 minutes) we proceeded to board the ship. If you’ve never been on one of these floating behemoths before, you’re in for a surprise. It is huge from the outside and lavish and even more impressive from the inside. We felt we had boarded a floating palace. We proceeded to our room where we found two bags waiting for us in front of our cabin. We unpacked the two bags and left to explore the ship. After this initial exploration, we returned to the room to find our third bag waiting for us. We unpacked this bag and proceeded to see the rest of the ship. The Ship 14 decks (I think). PC room (internet access at $0.50 per minute), library, Studio B (ice skating rink), art gallery, Lyric Theater (shows), numerous bars/lounges with different themes, pools, hot tubs, one mile jogging track, workout club, complete spa and hair salon facilities, aerobics area, three levels of main dining hall connected by a grand staircase (think Titanic staircase), Windjammer café (huge café buffet style), Portofino Italian restaurant (extra charge per person), Johnny Rockets 50’s style hamburger diner (extra charge for goodies like shakes, malts, floats, etc), casino (nickel, quarter, dollar slots and $5, $10 and up tables), rock climbing wall, basketball court, miniature golf, child’s skating area, video game arcade, child/teen area, wedding chapel, shuffleboard courts (I was told they exist, but I did not see them) and the Promenade. The Promenade is on deck 5 and consists of a British style pub, deli style eatery, and numerous shops (liquor, cigarettes, jewelry, clothes), shore excursion purchase area, and guest service area. Staterooms Staterooms forward and aft. Staterooms aft are closer to the Windjammer Café and main dining Hall. But no cabin is really far from anything. We stayed on deck 7, aft, inner cabin. The room was fairly large with a King size bed. The room had a control for piped in music and contained a 19-20 inch color TV. Half the stations were in English and the other half were repeated in Spanish. There was a thermostat in the room that gave you control of the temperature. The bathroom was adequate in size although the shower was definitely built for one (honeymooners take notice). We had toyed with the idea of paying extra for a room with a window or balcony, but based on our daily activities, we were hardly in the room. At night, it is pitch dark outside so a window is useless. A balcony is nice if you plan to sit outside and read or sun. We read in the library and sunned poolside or on a beach. So in our case, the money we saved on the room we spent on board the ship and on the islands. Food and Food Service Dinnertime included a 6:30PM early sitting and a 9:00PM late sitting. We chose the early sitting. Food service was exemplary. There was a primary waiter and assistant waiter for each table. A headwaiter circulated around the tables making sure everything was all right. Service was unobtrusive and on the level of a high-priced fine dining restaurant. Orders were taken and returned promptly and all food arrived at temperature levels appropriate for the dish. If you left the table for any reason, your food was covered to retain its cooked temperature. Food quality was high and quantity was adequate. Extra servings for each course were available (upon request). We ate dinner each night in the main dining hall; for breakfast and lunch, we ate in the Windjammer Café (buffet style). Food in the Windjammer Café included hot and cold dishes, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, soups, salads, fruit, cereals, dessert bar, and beverages (coffee, iced tea, lemonade, and water). Soda, beer, and wine were extra cost items. Quality of all food was excellent. The Windjammer Café has an extra meal each mid-afternoon known as Tea Time. This is the equivalent of lunch number two. We had the early seating for dinner and we were off ship every day, so lunch number one was sufficient for us. Off-Ship Excursions If I remember correctly, off ship excursions ranged in price from $35.00 per person to $100.00 per person. Excursions included beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, going undersea in submarines, kayaking, 4x4 tours, hiking tours, distillery tours, island tours and others. You have the opportunity to purchase tours via the Internet after you receive your cruise verification number or you can wait until you board the ship. We decided not to book on the Internet as we wanted to know the times of tour departures and how long each tour took. This information may have been available online, but we couldn’t find it. In any case, once you board the ship, you will be given a list of all tours, their departure times and their durations. We found we had enough time to book whatever tours we wanted after boarding the ship. Tours are ordered by filling out a tour sheet and leaving it at the tour desk on deck 5. Tour tickets are then delivered to your room the same day. For those not wishing to purchase offshore excursions, you can disembark at any island and hire a taxi driver to take you to areas that interest you. We did just that on St. Lucia and our driver took us to one part of the island and returned us to the main downtown shopping area. We negotiated a $35.00 fee for the 1.5 hour tour. Whatever you decide, you are permitted to disembark after docking but you are requested to return to the ship by 5PM for a 5:30PM departure. Entertainment We were always off-ship during the day, so I cannot tell you what shipboard entertainment took place during daytime hours. However, with the onboard amenities available, those who did not wish to leave the ship had more than enough diversions to occupy their time. Evening hours included singing and dancing shows (with small orchestra), comedians, game playing (newly wed game etc.), karaoke, promenade parades, ice skating show, rock and roll party, pool party with food, one mid-night buffet (make sure you bring your camera), casino, art auction, and loads of bars and lounges with live or piped in music. All performances were first rate and I would suggest attending every show available to you. Shopping One of the great pastimes of cruising is the duty free/tax free shopping awaiting you on board the ship, at the pier, and at islands of call. Items most often purchased include jewelry, watches, liquor, tobacco products, and women’s clothing. I did not see bargains for men’s clothing or electronics. Your best bargains are at downtown stores on each of the islands although onboard stores guarantee to meet all prices you may have seen off ship. Conclusion I guess the best conclusion we could give for this cruise would be to say that we recommend this cruise without reservation. Royal Caribbean should be commended for the excellent training they provide their staff, the quality of service the staff provides, the quality of food served, and their cabin accommodations. My only nit-picking request would be for Royal Caribbean to include soft drinks in the price of the cruise. Other than that, all aboard for a cruise you won’t likely forget.

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Jun 22, 2003

Southern Caribbean

This Cruise leaves from San Juan, Puerto Rico and does an island every day except Saturday. We booked this cruise for our honeymoon (we were married on Sat. June 21 at the University of Maryland.) We had an early morning flight on Sunday, and after reading about the ship, we were very happy to arrive in San Juan in time to be one of the first to board the Adventure. The ship at first and last glance is amazing. We had to wait at

the terminal for almost an hour before we were able to board. The tickets say boarding begins at 2, but this being our 3rd cruise, we know that they always let people on earlier. We waited in the terminal until a little before 1 PM when RC began letting people board the ship. We used this time to review our excursion book and select the excursions we were interested in (more on excursions later). Sitting in the plastic lawn chairs in the terminal was ok, but be warned, once the cooler inside was full before the boarding began, many people were forced to wait outside in the heat standing in lines. A nice touch for those waiting inside was the complimentary lemonade and iced tea. Boarding the ship was relatively smooth, and we bolted straight to our sixth floor aft room. The photographers can be a little pushy and annoying at times, especially in our excitement to see this ship. We walked right up to our room and opened the door to find a pleasantly spacious cabin with a nice balcony. This was spacious compared to our two previous cruises, one on RC and one with Norwegian. Our room had a couch, king sized bed, and a nice closet and bathroom. The TV was a good sized 25”, unlike the smaller TVs I had previously experienced when cruising. The programming was somewhat lame, but you’re certainly not there to watch the boob tube. Closet space was efficiently organized, enough for all of our clothes – I think we packed enough for four seasons. We were staying in San Juan for four nights after the cruise, and are too cheap to pay for the laundry service, so we packed like we were moving in. After we checked in, we grabbed some lunch in the Windjammer and went exploring on the ship. It is such a large ship that it certainly takes some time to find everything. Our bags soon arrived at our room, and we unpacked and made the room homey. After taking a nap, it was almost dinner time. We skipped the initial meal in the dining room in order for some good, greasy, junk food from Johnny Rockets. I was badly craving some good American food after some swanky wedding and rehearsal dinner food. Johnny Rockets hit the spot, and is a really cool place to eat. We shared a milkshake, which costs extra but it was worth it. They bring fries and onion rings out immediately, and I got a juicy bacon cheeseburger, while Alicia had a big Nathan’s hotdog. After dinner, it was time for the safety drill. This was much nicer on Adventure than previously. It was painless and quick, especially since we were indoors in the gorgeous dining room waiting seated, unlike previous outdoor experiences. A picture of the three tiered dining room is below: We changed into our bathing suits and headed up for the sail away party. We said goodbye to San Juan from the Solarium Jacuzzi. The solarium is a very nice touch to the ship. It is for adults only, and has two Jacuzzis and a pool, with many padded lounge chairs surrounding it. The sail away party was not as crowded as usual, I guess it was the 10 PM time, but we enjoyed being able to swim in the pool and hot tub while listening to the band without the crowds. We changed and went to the late show which was pretty standard with a comedian, a couple dance numbers, and a circus like balancing act which was pretty amazing. Cruise director Omar was affable and charming, but we rarely saw him around the ship outside of the shows. St. Thomas Day 2 We awoke to pull back the curtain to beautiful views of St. Thomas. Our plan for St. Thomas was to become our blueprint for how we would handle the islands. We had considered signing up for an excursion to Magen’s Bay Beach at a cost of $22 per person. Instead we decided we would take our chances with a taxi. The gamble paid off. It cost us $6 per person to get a taxi to Magen’s Bay beach and we were able to set our own schedule and stay as long as we wanted. Magen’s Bay was beautiful. The water was very clear and calm. Very nice views of the surrounding hills too. Find a picture of me there below (pre fried pale skin): I highly recommend doing many of the tour spots on your own. Taxi drivers are generally knowledgeable and friendly and are able to steer you towards your interests. Excursions from RC are overpriced, you can always get a cheaper price on land, and somewhat restrictive in the times etc… We were driven back through town and had a nice conversation with the very chatty cab driver who was also very knowledgeable about the island. Being the thrifty shoppers we are, we did not eat lunch until we were back on the ship. We got back to the ship around 3 PM which was perfect for lunch, because our dinner was the late seating 9 PM. The drawback is that the buffet around 3 PM was always the same, as we missed the variable fancier lunches. The early afternoon buffet always included hot dogs, chili, cold cuts, salads and fruit. The other lunch options were the café with pizza and sandwiches, Johnny Rockets, or room service. Dinner in the dining room was great that evening. We were seated at a table of 4 with another honeymooning young couple who provided enjoyable company. We were eating on the third floor and had excellent views of the large chandelier. Live dinner music provided great atmosphere and our waiter, Mark Hudson was excellent and very attentive. One night as I was preparing to ask for another bowl of soup because it was so tasty, out came Mark with another bowl. I’m still pretty freaked out about how he knew I was going to ask for another one, since I had not asked for seconds on any food previously on the trip. St. Martin’s Day 3 St. Martin looked similar to St. Thomas, and we followed our normal routine of breakfast, town, taxi, beach. We both enjoy spending time on the beaches, and we found that talking to the townspeople would yield helpful information about what were the best beaches. For a $20 cab ride, we first went to a smaller beach on the Dutch side. Our cab driver convinced us that Orient Beach was where it was at, without too much nudity, so we decided to go there. Our driver arranged a time to pick us up, and showed us the beach. The beach is great, very big and long with gorgeous blue water. It is clothing optional, but I would say that only 10% of women went topless. There is an all nude section that we did not wander down to. We rented nice beach chairs with an umbrella $15 and enjoyed our day on the beach. It was a little windy, but the water was great. This beach also had the option of any water sport you could want. The one thing that I regret is not seeing the French capital which I heard was very nice. Phillipsburg was nice, but fairly standard for a Caribbean town. St. John Antigua Day 4 Antigua was probably the poorest island that we visited this trip. They only get a cruise ship in the summer every other week. We ate breakfast then followed our standard procedure of getting a taxi to a beach. Antigua has 365 beaches as the driver informed us. He drove us to Dickenson Bay Beach on the Caribbean, which is also the site of a Sandals Resort. One nice but quasi-socialist, part of the Caribbean islands is that all of the beaches are public, meaning we could swim with the Sandals resort elite. This beach was classic Caribbean, white sand, blue, calm water etc. The cab fare was $10 and renting the chairs was another $10. This public beach also had many waterspout amenities including snorkeling. A picture is below: On the way back, we asked the cab driver to let us off at the St. John’s Cathedral. He instructed us on how to walk back to the pier which was a nice walk through town. This island seemed less touristy than others, probably because of the lack of consistent cruise ships. St. John’s Cathedral is an old, prominent site in the town with great views, but it has fallen into disrepair. They do not have the money to keep it up, and windows are broken, gravestones crushed, no landscaping etc… I’m glad we saw it anyway, and a picture of it is below. St. Lucia Day 5 I had booked an excursion for this island, the full day beach snorkel for $98 per person. We had decided to do only one excursion for the trip, and wanted to do it in Barbados. However, when I tried to cancel this excursion, I was informed that you must provide them with 24 hour cancellation notice for a refund. I was very disappointed with their failure to work with me on this aspect, considering this policy is not widely advertised or known. I still fail to see why I cannot get a refund for something that I have not yet taken advantage of. It was an unpleasant experience. First I had to wait in the long line at the excursion desk to find this out, then discussing it with the manager who promised to try to resell my tickets to someone else. He virtually guaranteed the tickets would be resold, but then never contacted me again as promised. In the end, they were unable to resell them, and rather than continue to fight with them on our honeymoon, I gave in and paid the $200 bucks for the excursion. The excursion was great, as St. Lucia is a fabulous island. Probably the best island of all the ones we saw. They have two very large mountains, The Pitons and very dense foliage and rainforest. Snorkeling at the Anse Chastanet was pretty nice. I was impressed with this resort. It is nestled high above a beach, in harmony with the trees and we were able to explore around the hotel. It’s kind of a Swiss Family Robinson hotel. Barbados Day 6 We were kind of slacked on this day, awoke late and got a late start. Barbados is pretty close to the equator, so the sun is very intense. The thermometer actually is just as high in Maryland, but the direct rays of sunlight burn you much quicker at 13 degrees latitude. I had been wearing SPG 30 and still burning a bit. We took a short carbide to a very close beach in Barbados, it cost $3 per person. Malibu beach is apparently where the Malibu rum factory was. The beach was pretty standard, but probably the least impressive of all the ones we had visited. It was kind of crowded with so many people from our ship coming there, the ship was in view from the beach. We were both kind of looking forward to the Day at Sea to do more on the ship. At Sea Day 7 This was a fun day. There is so much to do on the ship, that I almost wish we had another day at sea. The ship is traveling very slowly since there is so much time to travel back to San Juan. We sat out on the top deck overlooking the ocean. Didn’t have much of a problem finding a lounge chair, there were plenty. Pools were very crowded, and it was too hot to do the Jacuzzi during the day. We did the peek-a-boo bridge where you can see the staff steering the ship. We did the very front of the ship, the “King of the World” spot. We did some shopping, played some mini-golf and unfortunately hit the casino. Let’s just say the blackjack tables were not kind at all to us during the cruise. The farewell show was excellent mainly because the comedian was terrific. San Juan Disembarking Disembarking on Royal Caribbean can be kind of annoying, waiting to be allowed to leave the ship. Norwegian allows you to wait in your cabin, while RC makes you wait in a lounge. My advice, take advantage of the full serve breakfast in the dining room on this day, because it is your last chance to be pampered. Overall This was a great cruise and a fabulous honeymoon. The ship was so nice that I didn’t want to leave, but they wouldn’t let me stay. It was so nice, that I could do the same exact cruise again and not feel bad. We had a balcony room, and I don’t think that I would spring for that again. It was nice to have, but there was no opportunity for us to really use it since there was so much to do on the ship. I would have been just as happy with a window view as in the past. The promenade was so nice, you don’t even feel like you’re on a ship. The ship sometimes felt full, but rarely felt crowded. We were always able to find seating and tables at various places around the ship. The ship feels very open and there are lots of fun and hidden things on the ship to do. We enjoyed dancing at Jester’s Nightclub which is elaborately decorated. The library was neat, but a little light on the actual books. The pool area is beyond compare, and there are a number of detailed little bars to hang out in. We never got to see the ice show, but I don’t consider myself and ice capades person anyway. I wouldn’t miss the rocking through the decades party at Studio B. It was pretty wild and a very good time for all ages. If you are bored on this ship, or don’t have a good time then cruising probably isn’t for you.

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May 25, 2003

Southern Caribbean

David (DIG) Let me start this review by saying that I just got home from my cruise vacation on Sunday and I am really sad that it is all over. I left on the Adventure of the Seas on May 25, 2003 and booked the cruise a couple of months before that. During my cruise selection, I was reading the reviews and they were very helpful for me in deciding what cruise line to take and what ship to sail. In knowing how happy I was with reading

everyone’s review, I knew that I would write one as soon as I got back in hope that I can help someone in their decision making process. We left the house early on Sunday morning to catch a flight from New York’s JFK to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We decided to leave on a 9:30am flight arriving at 1:25pm. We arrived with out any problems in San Juan and The Royal Caribbean staff was waiting for passengers like promised at the gate. Once we gathered our luggage, we were escorted to a bus and then driven to the pier. The bus driver was very nice, giving everyone a mini-tour of San Juan, but all we really cared about was getting to the ship. After a 15-20 minute drive, we were there and we were all awestruck. The shear size of this ship is breath taking. I have never seen anything like it on this planet. There were some other ships at the pier, but The Adventure of the Seas dwarfed them. Once being dropped off at the pier (2:15pm), we encountered a huge line. Lucky for us, the line was for people who had luggage and did not use one of the transfer services. Everyone on my transfer bus just walked by everyone on the outside line and headed into the pier. Inside the pier we were directed to sit down in rows (chairs were provided) and wait for your row to be called up to the check-in area. This is the line where you get your Sea Pass Account/Room key, etc and start to board the ship. Once we finally got called up from our row, the line to check-in was huge. At least a 2-hour wait. However, if you are staying in a suite, R,A,B,C class stateroom, you are able to avoid the line all together and get served immediately. My girlfriend and I did not have a suite, but my parents did, and they let us check-in with them. My advice is, either get your self a suite, or go with someone who is staying in one. We boarded the ship at 2:30pm and we were in awe of the elegance of the Adventure of the Seas. She is an absolutely beautiful vessel with many attributes to brag about. As soon as we boarded, I decided to follow other people’s suggestions in their reviews and book everything I wanted on the ship. First, I went to the Portofino (Italian reservation restaurant) to make two reservations and next I went to the spa. I was informed at both places that you have a 24-hour window to cancel. So, I booked everything knowing that I could cancel my treatments and second dinner at the Portofino if I did not like the first treatment or dinner reservation. As you will read on, that never happened because everything was great. As we walked through the ship for the first time, we noticed how everything was very clean and well taken care of. The staff on the ship was very helpful with helping us around and more than happy to serve you any beverage you liked, especially the mixed exotic drinks. When we boarded we were given a map, so we were just following it until we went through every lounge on the 12th and 14th decks. By the way, there are 6 lounges/bars between the two decks. It is a must see. While traveling from the 12th to the 13th deck, we encountered our first glimpse of the in-line skating track, basketball court, and rock-climbing wall. It is awesome. I still can not get over a ship having these attractions. Also, don’t forget about the ice-skating rink on deck 2, just in case the other activities are not enough. There is a lot I could write about this trip, but I think it is more important to read about the essentials. I am going to share my personal views on the food (dining room), Portofino, service, spa, cabins, ports, and excursions. -One of the criticisms that I read before boarding the ship was that the food was not so good. I tend to agree with that. The ship is serving over 12,000 meals a day and a buffet, so I got what I expected with the food. I would recommend eating in the main dining room for the two formal nights. On those nights (Monday and Thursday), the food was rather good (for the ship) because they had prime rib on Monday and lobster tails on Thursday. These nights I ordered 2-3 servings. -Another option for food is a reservation restaurant called Portofino. This is where the best food is on the ship. Naturally there is a fee of $20, but it is well worth it. The ambiance is romantic while live music is being played. The service and presentation compares with Manhattan dining. We ate here on Tuesday and Friday. -For the people that like the great tasting burger, onion rings, and fries, try Johnny Rockets. This is a fun place that is open to 1:00am every night and is a lot of fun. Try their milk shakes or malts for an additional $3.50. -The service on this ship was fantastic. I do not have one complaint about anything in this area. My head waiter, Okhan was awesome, while my room steward Kathleen was amazing as well. I wish they could see this review, because they deserve the very best. I am sure my gratuity was a great thank you. Also, all the bartenders, servers, assistant waiters, and crew were excellent. -Like I stated earlier, the spa treatments were great. I am used to treating myself to spa treatments at home, but it is a different feeling doing it on a ship. The treatment that my girlfriend and I enjoyed was a massage. We both found it to be very relaxing. My father treated himself to two massages and a facial and loved it all. Too bad we all can’t afford his lifestyle. I highly recommend the spa. Massages cost $109 and facials cost the same (not including tip). They are 55 minute treatments. -The cabins on the ship were very nice and I would know this because every morning and evening the room stewards cleaned the rooms and left the doors open. Knowing I was going to write this review, I checked out all the cabins except the Royal suite (could not get in there). The inside cabins were a little cramped but still provided enough room for two people. Also, these ships have an inside cabin that has an atrium view. These cabins view the promenade. Very cool, but still a little cramped. The outside cabins were a little larger, but still looked a little tight. Then there were two different types of balcony staterooms. There is the deluxe and superior cabin. The deluxe is 15 square feet smaller than the superior and looked a little tight around the bed, but definitely suitable for two. The cabin I had was the superior, and I really enjoyed the cabin. It was big enough for two and the balcony was fantastic. Then, there are the suites. There are 4 categories of suites. They all looked as if there was plenty of room to walk around and relax in. And most importantly, bigger balconies. My favorite of the cabins was the A suite (owner’s suite), but they cost a pretty penny. If money is not a concern, this is the way to go. -As you have read, we hit five ports of call. At these ports, I went on three excursions. We went to St. Thomas, St. Martin, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. +In St. Thomas, we shopped all morning at Charlotte Amalie and at around 12:00 we went to Magen’s Bay. Magen’s Bay was rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world and it is a must see. We hung out there for hours and had an unbelievable time. For the people that are interested in the bar seen and have seen the movie Cocktail, with Tom Cruise, that is the atmosphere. Bartenders are throwing drinks, bottles, fruits, and tips everywhere and never seem to miss the glass. +St. Martin is where I made the big purchase for my girlfriend. We shopped until we found a great little store and picked up a diamond bracelet and earrings at a great price. Check out Ray’s Jewelry. Great bargains. After that, we had lunch at this very good restaurant called La Escargot. Give it a try. +Antigua is where we did our first excursion. We swam with the dolphins and it was fantastic. It is an experience that we will never forget. Unlike some reviews that I have read, we actually got to swim with the mammals for 30 minutes. After the dolphins, we saw very cool birds, turtles, and my favorite, the stingrays. In the stingray water, we were able to feed and play with them. This was a great excursion. However, Antigua as a whole is a very depressed area. This is one of the poorest islands I have seen. +St. Lucia is where I went deep-sea fishing with my father. To our surprise, the boats that they used were excellent. The captain of the boat took us out for four hours and sort of gave us a tour of the island from the water. The boat had six passengers on it, a fighting chair and two crewmembers. We had good room because we were on a 32 footer. The overall experience was something I will always remember. Too bad we did not catch anything. +Barbados was my favorite. My girlfriend and I went on the Five Star Catamaran and Sea Turtle Encounter and had a blast. This excursion was awesome. You start off by walking on the catamaran and getting handed champagne, mimosas, or juice. They take you out to a beautiful area to snorkel with the huge sea turtles and upon your return to the catamaran, they have a great lunch prepared for you. They made us chicken, fried fish, cole-slaw, potato salad, and salad. And of course, the open bar. At this point they took us to a beach area and we had a blast. We rented a jet ski and laid out for a bit. This excursion was for five hours and was amazing. This is a must do! Sadly, all trips must end and it seems like vacations always go by very quickly. So, the good news is that the debarkation was done very smoothly and we all got off the ship by 9:30am. It happened to work out great because our return flight was at 2:45pm and it gave us ample time to get to the airport and have lunch. We boarded the plane at 2:15pm and made our way home to New York a little before 6:00pm. In many of the reviews that I read people were complaining about the natives of San Juan overwhelming the ship. There happens to be a lot of Spanish people on the ship, but it did not seem to bother me at all. However, it is strange having a lot of people speaking a different language around you all the time. I am going to conclude my review by saying that this is quite a ship to sail on. We had an unbelievable time and if you are thinking about cruising, this ship is a must. Enjoy, and safe sailing!

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May 18, 2003

Southern Caribbean

Upon arrival in our rented Limo at JFK, we had curbside AA check in, so the bags were not weighed and we were inside the terminal and thru the screening in less than 10 minutes. The flight was unexciting, but we did get a decent breakfast and the seats were roomy. We landed On Time and thanks to the help of many, knew to go to the booth for the pricing for the cab. For 4 of us the total, with lots of bags, was $24. We got a porter and

was in the cab within 10 minutes of getting off the plane. The RCI transfers were still gathering when we had left and did not make it to the pier for at least another 20-30 minutes. This gave us an advantage and we went into the terminal at the pier and got seated. Within 15 minutes after we arrived the inside was filled and the rest of the passengers had to wait outside on line in the heat. There was a considerable wait to board because the last route also has immigration along with the customs check. But we were on the ship by 1PM and our rooms were ready. At first sighting this ship is very impressive and as time goes on, her beauty becomes more prominent. We then went up to the Windjammer for the lunch buffet, it was sumptuous. There was plenty of seating. Then we were off to explore the ship. We had already been on the Radiance and was impressed with that, but this ship is something else indeed, what an incredible ship. It is a beauty to behold inside and out. We tried to find every nook and cranny, but I am sure there were some that even after a week we did not find. I am in love with the promenade with it's little cafes. We found it relaxing after a tour to sit and have drinks or a snack. We had a TR cabin which overlooked the promenade and it was lovely and roomier than I thought it would be and noise and light were never a problem. I had already seen pictures from travel site, so knew pretty much what to expect. Our friends had a balcony cabin on the bump and it was very spacious. We then went to meet our CC pals at the pool bar and had fun introducing ourselves. 2 other couples from CC were also our tablemates and we had talked before so we were bonded fairly well. It is always nice to know the people you are going to spend dining with for an entire week. Dinner the first night was wonderful, (as were the food the rest of the week) and so were our servers, which set the tone for the entire week. We were at table 529 on the 5th floor, right by the piano landing, so the music added ambiance to our lovely table. I was very pleased with all the food and our servers made every effort to anticipate our individual needs, no matter how demanding. They went out of their way to correct whatever anyone was not pleased with, and for that I give them credit. Especially since one couple sent things back even when the rest of us enjoyed the same dish. The servers deserved a double tip! I loved all of the shows and was wowed by the ice show, such precision skating on such a small surface. And the same goes for the production shows. I am used to Broadway in NYC with expansive stages. It is hard to believe they all perform so well on a moving stage that is smaller than most. The show the last night was wonderful with the song :"Proud to be an American "and then" Imagine" by John Lennon which brings tears to my eyes. The both songs to me represent the fact that the world can be one if we tried and yet it is still wonderful to be proud of out heritage's, which are diverse. The ship houses many nationalities which work in unison. The day at sea was relaxing and we did more ship exploring and played mini golf, a real adventure when the ship is rolling back and forth. The pools were full, but there was room for all. The ship was full as Party Lite had 1500 winners also onboard. There are 6 hot tubs and three pools and plenty of deck space if you wanted to lie in the sun (as I am fair, I do that as little as possible and even with my 50 SPF applied frequently, I still got a little pink). We made a visit to Johnny Rockets of course, as we have one here on LI and I love them. Later in the day we had the official CC party and we all had a good time. The cruse director Kirk spent a considerable amount of time talking to us and when we saw him on the ship anytime on the ship he stopped to say hello. He is a very nice man and was very entertaining. The islands were nice and on Aruba we did the DePalm Jeep safari/snorkeling tour, which we affectionately refer to as shake and bake. The tour involved an off road jeep caravan with the tour guide in his own lead car and the rest driven by the tourists, which is a scary thought! Imagine 6 cars with crazy drivers (driving a stick shift) following each other in the dunes and dust without running into one another or hitting anything. It was dusty, and we got shook all over the place, and baked in the hot sun and came back with dirt in places we did not even know existed, even after swimming. We saw the old chapel, the gold mine ruins and the caves and the natural bridges. Then we went to DePalm Island where we were served a lovely buffet lunch and drinks. Then you did one of the following, snorkeled, swam, helmet dived or scuba dived or just laid on the beach. I booked it on my own online and saved $25 per person over the ship price. We had a great day, and this tour was the highlight of our trip. In the evening we had dinner in Carlos and Charlie's, a real party place, and we loved it. I must say that while we had fun that day, I do not think I would go back to Aruba again as we had seen all there was to see and aside from the beaches, many of which are manmade, and the casinos, there is not much to do for more than a day. The island is extremely windy, so do not even think about a hairdo, and when wearing at hat, make sure you hold on or it will fly away. Our next stop was Curacao. We were so zonked from the day before, we took a tour in the afternoon on the trolley. This is a lovely Island and the city is very pretty, the beaches lovely: I would go back someday. Next stop was St. Martin. We did the butterfly farm tour which was fun. And then we had a tour of the rest of the island and some shopping on the French side, which was included in the price of the tour. Also another island I would enjoy seeing again. Next was St. Thomas and we did the St., John tour. The beaches there are spectacular. We also stopped to visit a friend on St. Thomas who is from NYC and has a pizzeria near the pier, Pizza Amore. He makes real NY pizza. He also told us which shops were good and we found some lovely things, I had a hand painted t shirt which was done in the little mall his shop is in. I like unusual souvenirs, and this was just lovely and it also comes in all sizes, not just small ones. My husband and our friend Jim retired the day before the cruise and believe me, if it were not for our families, we would all consider retiring to St. Thomas. We had a wonderful time on this ship and have only one or two small gripes, which did NOT ruin my trip as it was an incredible experience. The first is that The Quest was scheduled at 10:15 and those of us at late seating could not get there in time to be in the contest. And right after it another show was scheduled, so Kirk had to fly thru it and then run off to another theater. It was still fun nonetheless, as usual something not to be missed. The second is the fact that Partylite had such a presence on the ship, that even the jokes were geared to them. The last show which was for both seatings was scheduled right after they had some sort of event in the main theater and so they just remained in their seats, so the good seats were all gone and if you were with other people you all had to get single seats as the only other ones were behind poles or other spots which you could not see from easily. The lounges and bars were also taken over by this group many nights, so others sought refuge in other spots in the ship (which were of course plentiful). Of course that is not their fault, because as individuals they were all nice people, but in a group they had a group mentality some of the time, and took over things. Of course when I booked this date I was aware of the fact that a group was on the ship, so could have taken a different date, so the choice was always mine. But I will not make that mistake again. All in all I would say that this was one of the most fun and memorable trips I have taken in my life and I have made great friends and love this ship and plan to go back.

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May 4, 2003

Southern Caribbean

Adventure of the Seas – Southern Caribbean Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St.Thomas May 4th through May 11th Embarkation: We flew down to San Juan on Saturday so that when the cruise left on Sunday we would not be so worn out and tired. It was a great idea. There were a lot of cruise people at the hotel. We had a connecting flight in Charlotte,

but heard some others from Newark got direct flights. We booked rather early, so we were amazed we did not get the direct flights. We stayed at the Condado Plaza where we had a nice lunch, sat by the pool and then some dinner and gambling. The next day, our luggage was sent to the ship and we were to take a pre-arranged bus at 1pm. At 12:50 we arrived at the front of the hotel and were told that the bus was leaving at 1:45. We decided to take a cab instead for only $10. Turns out there was a bus that left already which we were not happy to hear about. The cab got us there quickly though and we were one of the first groups to board. We did have to wait a bit and there were rows and rows of white chairs. They called one row at a time and it moved pretty quickly. Plus RCCL had their Krooze Komics entertaining the passengers waiting to board. For one of the cruise documents necessary to board, they had a way to fill out the forms on line before you left on your trip, which I did. Then, they had a line for Paperless Boarding. We went on this line (however, it did not look any shorter than the other line) and when we got to the desk the woman asked if we had printed out our forms. I asked her why they wanted it printed if it was Paperless Boarding. She did not seem amused, but she said it was not necessary to have a printed version. Also, I had heard at one time that if you are a Crown and Anchor member and the ship is not full that you can upgrade. They would not do it for us, even though the ship was not full. What is up with that I wonder??? It was nice boarding early, we went to the pool and relaxed. It is a good idea to keep a bathing suit, shorts, dinner outfit in your carryon since some of our tablemates did not get their luggage till after dinner. Our luggage came quickly and we unpacked before dinner. We had a great table of 8 – we got along famously and had a ton of fun. The waiter was very efficient and the asst waiter was great as well. Stateroom: I recommend getting a balcony. It is really nice when you get up and can go out on the balcony to check the weather, etc. If you cannot afford that, get the atrium view that we heard was nice as well. Even the smaller cabins – 172 sq ft have balconies. This is what we had and it was small, but not too small. We did use room service on occasion and they were very accommodating. I even ordered just soda, and it came with glasses of ice too. Drinks: On board they had a wine package – you could order a different bottle every night out of a select group of wines (just so happened our favorite – Calleterra (sp?) – was one on the list). It was a very good deal which we took advantage of. Also, they have a drink-card that you can purchase which is also a good deal if you drink. But, do not order beer with this, save it for the more expensive drinks or wine. Entertainment: In my opinion the entertainment was only so so. I enjoy comedy and it just was not that good. Only the magician comedian was funny. I am not into the dancing shows but I guess they were OK. The ice show was really cool, pardon the pun. You need tickets that are just for crowd control purposes. It looked like no matter where you sat, though, the view would be great. Shopping: On board they have a loose gemstone selection. You can buy the stones and have them set in Kay’s Jewelry store. I got 2 ctw each ear of citrine, and with the setting, they were about $85. Not too shabby… Another perk is that if you are a Crown and Anchor member, you get a coupon book to use on board. I did use a couple of them – one is for a free photo of the ship with the purchase of any photo. Regarding shopping on the islands, most of them have the same stores. The ship recommends certain stores and stands by the merchandise. So, we usually go there to shop. There are some pretty good deals, but they do start out with a high price and then, as you are saying I do not think so, they go down lower and lower. Keep trying till they reach rock bottom. I shop on the jewelry shopping channels, and I found that the prices are comparable. You should know the value of what you are buying beforehand, however. I think St. Thomas has the best selection and the most stores. There are some right off the ship and more stores in the town of Charlotte Amalie which is a $3 ride from the ship. There is also a straw market with some good bargains on tee shirts. Pool: There were 2 sea days, so we got to enjoy the pool. There were plenty of chairs in the shade which was nice. Not too crowded and no one fighting over chairs. The pool is gorgeous with a ledge to sit on and then you can sit in about 4 inches of water or go totally in the pool. The pool band – I have heard much better. Activities: We attended the Port and Shopping talk on our first sea day. They recommended purchasing the Passport for $20 which had tons of coupons for the Caribbean islands, including the ones we were visiting. One of the coupons was for a free tote bag that changes color in the sun and this was worth the $20 bucks. Then, you get all kinds of free earrings and such – really cheap stuff and the stones are microscopic, but it was fun hunting for the stuff. Treasure hunting in the Caribbean. I ended up winning a 5 carat Amethyst pendant at the end of the shopping talk!!! So, of course, I had to buy some Amethyst earrings in one of our ports. We did not take advantage of the more adventurous activities, like rock climbing, etc. However, we did have breakfast with 2 young couples who had been on an Off Road Adventure in Aruba. They claimed it was awesome. They started out in 7 jeeps and came back with 5 since the terrain was so rough and the driving was so wild. RCCL had lots of these excursions (which are extra of course except the rock climbing). So, there is something for everyone. Aruba – we went to the Radisson Hotel which was on Palm Beach. The beach was really nice, but for the ‘ship people’ they had crummy chairs and put us down by the water. We felt like we were in ‘downtown’ Aruba. It was OK, though, if I was staying there I would not want all the cruise ship people taking my beach chairs. We did try Carlos N Charlies too, that evening, since we were in port till 1am. It is a wild place, with lots of young kids. We ended up sitting upstairs and could not see anything. So, we had a couple of drinks and then left. The music was great and it seemed like fun but I guess I am just too old for this stuff. Curacao. For this beach you need water shoes. It was very rocky and had broken shells. We went to the Seaquarium Beach which was really pretty and not too crowded. St. Maarten. Here we went to Little Divi Resort. The chair and umbrella rental was much cheaper. The water had a nice bit of waves and was very relaxing. If they recommend Dawn Beach, do not go. It was destroyed in the last hurricane and there is not much there. No facilities. Good shopping, but it is hard to avoid the hawkers for taxis, hair braiding or tours. You try and ignore them but they are pretty insistent. St. Thomas. Our favorite. We did some shopping and then the St. John Sea and Snorkle. We did this tour the last time and it was really fun. The boat ride is at least an hour and it is so relaxing while they tell you about the islands. Then, you can go to a little beach on Trunk Bay or snorkel around the rocks. I saw squid, parrot fish, angel fish, schools of a pretty blue/purple fish, a needle fish and many, many more that I did not recognize. The Promenade: The Duck and Dog pub that is on the promenade was really fun. They had a guy who did his own karaoke and what a hoot. They had a small crowd of people outside stopping by to listen. When my tablemate and I did Sweet Caroline, the whole place was hopping!!! Johnny Rockets – we tried once to get in on a sea day, but there was a 20 minute wait. Bummer. Overall, this was a fantastic cruise. The year before we did the same ship but a different Southern itinerary that was equally fabulous. I highly recommend this cruise line and the Southern Caribbean itineraries are our favorite. We had such great tablemates this time and I hope to keep in touch with some of them.

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Dec 29, 2002

Southern Caribbean

I was very disappointed w/this particular cruise - seems like every time we sail out of San Juan things just aren't right - the last time we sailed out of San Juan about 3 years ago they lost our luggage- this time my son-in-law did not get his piece of luggage delivered and when he reported it they said they would look for it - it was put in front of his door the following morning, but it had been opened - a new jogging suit he received

for Christmas was gone and he did put his camcorder in the suitcase and it was gone as well - the suitcase was filled w/sand - of course this has been reported but they took a lackadasical approach to it - we have the insurance but that is a bad way to start out on a cruise/vacation that you look forward to each year. I found the ship not to be as clean as in past cruises - hairs were on the floor - the carpet in the (we had balcony staterooms) but the carpet is filthy - it looks like they never ever clean it - it is just horrible looking w/stains and all - under the sofa it was filthy - all in all I thought the staterooms were not up to par as to cleanliness and yet the man was in to clean them daily - they give you 2 beach towels and you are responsible for them - one of my beach towels was sent in for washing and it never came back - i told my steward that i did not have the 2nd towel and that we were responsible for the towels or they would charge it to our bill - he told me not to worry - well yesterday i received a call from my credit card company who said they just received a bill to be posted to my master card for $21.32 which was not on my final bill when I left the ship and in checking that was for the towel which the steward told me not to worry about it would not be charged to me- they just ran out of towels - I disputed this charge w/ Royal Caribbean today and they said they are putting through a credit - see that is all needless and it takes away some of the joy of the trip when you have to come back and fight with an insurance company about a break in with the luggage and a towel - the food was not up to par - rather tasteless - we complained on the Explorer of the Seas last year about the salad dressings being tasteless in the dining room well they did improve that on this ship but the food did not have a good taste - really bland - even the lobster was bland - the escargots came cold and i had to send that back- i know this is a big ship with lots of people aboard but they are used to this - this is their business - and it is their business to make everything better so you can write good reviews and not ones that a filled with negativity. I am a platinum member and when we arrived at the ship - we came in late - there was no one checking in and I had to stand there and wait until several employees had a conversation among themselves before they came to help us get on the ship and situated. Again the attitude was a problem. Leaving the ship was fine no problem with that - In closing this review I just feel that Royal Caribbean has sort of lost the good stuff that they had so long and resorted now to being just another cruise ship. They need to make lots of improvements - let the owners tour the staterooms and see if they would want to stay in those rooms w/the depressing dirty carpeting and the depressing looking bedspreads and hairs on the floos in the common bathrooms - not in our stateroom but in the common bathroom areas - nasty.

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Dec 29, 2002

Southern Caribbean

Oh Adventure of the Seas, where to begin.... Never in my life have I had such an amazing vacation with kids). My wife, 15- going on 23 year old son, and my ten year old son came with me on this cruise. There was never an unwanted dull moment. We decided to let RCCL plan our air travel plans for us, maybe not the best idea. WE left Washington DC in the wee hours of the morning and arrived in San Juan in the afternoon after a change in

Miami. Not exactly an enjoyable day, although I did run into and old high-school friend on the flight. Arriving In San Juan, we were hustled out of the terminal and loaded onto a packed bus for a short ride to the pier. Leaving our luggage on the curb was uncomfortable. At the pier, we were taken to the check-in and given our all-in-one key-ID-and of course, charge card. My youngest son, 10, was given an emergency wrist band, to help crew members assist him in an emergency. We found our rooms, a promenade view state room, for my kids, and my wife and I had an ocean view room with an amazing balcony. We spent our time before our dinner in the Mozart dining room, wandering the ship looking at everything, and the kids wanted to sit in the sun and drink their seven dollar pina coladas while watching the city of San Juan. The dining room sat us with another family, with amazingly, two teenagers, my son was so glad. Dinner consisted of a small appetizer, salad, and main course. Dinner also featured Emre, our loud, smiling Turkish waiter. He jumped and made jokes, did magic tricks, and called all of the kids as "baady" and "sweety". He entertained the adults as well, always providing wonderful recommendations. And If you ordered something he thinks is not good, he would say " are you sure, is not very good". Dinner was a fabulous time every night, although, the food was good, not great. Our first day was spent at sea, frying in the sun, eating ice cream, swimming, rock climbing, golfing, and just letting go of all of our worries. The next day, we arrived in beautiful Aruba, for new years eve. What a celebration!!!!! We took an early morning tour of Aruba by way of a semi-submersible boat, showing us the wreck of the Antilla. Unfortunately, we did not bring bathing suits with us on the excursion, so we did not do any "beaching". The downtown area of Oranjestad is extremely touristy, and very expensive. (Men, tell you wives this, so you still have money left for the remainder of the week. St. Maarten has much better shopping) After an interesting walk with my sons through the city, we ended in the middle of a local drunken firework party, so we just turned and walked, well, it was more of a jog. New Years on the Adventure was wonderful for all of us. After dinner my youngest son left for the kid's club, and we did not see him till morning. Our older son left with his two new friends from our table, and ended up in the casino spending our money. they "just hung out and did stuff" all night. My wife and I spent the evening with the other couple from our table, at the Viking Crown, over looking the pool deck. New Years was an amazing time for us all because of the view. The ship stopped of the coast of Aruba and turned in circles most of the night, so all could see the beautiful fireworks. The next day, we arrived in Curacao, and took a short, and I mean short walk through the city. There is not a lot to see in Curacao on new years day. In the afternoon I took my sons snorkeling on a beautiful reef, and enjoyed the view on the ride back to the boat. The night life onboard Adventure is wonderful. There are clubs, pubs, bars, and shows to keep you busy all night. Another day at sea went by, "pooling and tanning" just relaxing. St. Maarten/ St.Martin was the highlight of the ports of call. The City was beautiful. And we met a taxi driver who took us on a great three hour tour around the island. We saw both cities, mullet bay, maho bay (a must see) and grand case as well as orient bay. I recommend taking a tour, the taxis are glad to serve you and will take as much or little time as you want. Our driver, Michael Anjello, took us to all of his favorite spots, including a restaurant on the dock of grand case that he grew up in. The restaurant called "Talk Of The Town" featured a rack and a half ob BBQ ribs, corn, rice, peas, a Johnny cake, and drink for about ten dollars. We got a great feeling of what island life is like eating ribs at the local join with out taxi driver. remember "Talk of The Town" if you like ribs or lobster or shrimp. Maho Beach( not bay) is also a must see, go in the afternoons). Maho is a small beach located at the end of the airport runway, making for an exciting beach time. If you like sun, sand, blue water, and low flying 747's. this is the place for you. Be careful though. this, as well as many other beaches is a top-optional beach. St. Thomas was a short visit, we parasailed and explored. Watch out for taxis though, they will try to take advantage of you. The Adventure if the seas is a magnificent marvel of machinery. She is a great floating resort with wonderful staff, who do their very very best to provide you with a great experience. Here are a few tips for first time travelers or cruisers. Pack a spare change of clothes and bathing suit in your carry on when arriving, because you will not get your luggage until later at night. Promenade view rooms are very loud at night. The balcony is well worth the few extra dollars. Bring Dramamine, you might feel uneasy the first day, but the feeling soon passes. Buy the Soda sticker for your kids, or your self. It cost 30 dollars and gives you free sodas all trip long. It is well worth it for kids. If you plan on going to the bars, buy drink cards, for about 25 dollars you get 14 drinks, and there are different variations of this card. Buy them, even if you do not drink heavy, it is worth saving a few bucks on the pina colada. The ship is big, very big, so bring a two-way radio, and let your kids, wander around with the radio, they will thank you. Surprisingly, the cruise is not eat-eat-eat. If you want, you definitely can, but there is always a low-fat menu, and great gym facility. Take and excursion, at least one in each port, there are many different choices, but BOOK IN ADVANCE!!!!!!! in fact, BOOK EVERYTHING YOU CAN IN ADVANCE. The ship is very large, and there are an insane amount of people, but if you want alone time, try the helicopter pad( deck 4) the far aft of the boat (deck 4) the library (deck 7) or a lounge. This is a wonderful cruise for children and adults, but if you want to relax in the quiet, eat a lot, and just be lazy, this may not be the best cruise for you. Thank you, and I hope this will be helpful for you in choosing a cruise. If you have any questions about anything cruise related, or are uneasy about Adventure, email me.

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Dec 12, 2002

Southern Caribbean

Preface: If you have not cruised on a voyager class ship by RCCL, you are truly not cruising. This is our second cruise with RCCL (last one was on the Explorer). These ships combine classic style elegance, lively atmosphere, quality service, fine dining, endless activities and first class entertainment and the smoothest-hassle-free cruising experience available. Great for all ages and hardly any kids as long as you go when kids are in

school. Very mature cruise. Prime ages 25-55. Embark: Hassle free in San Juan. $15 taxi ride plus tip from major hotels in Old San Juan. Ship has its own port separate from all other ships making it less crowded! We arrived at 1pm, boarded at 1:30pm, finished lunch and a drink in the Windjammer by 2:30 and had our luggage at 2:35pm. Amazing job! You have to experience to believe! Much nicer than Carnival, Celebrity and Princess lines. Lounges have opulent Asian themes, the dining room makes the Titanic look like McDonalds (the best dining room at seas—BY FAR), cigar bar very classy and warm, royal promenade like streets of Paris/Venice. Ship is immaculately clean, light wood and marble textures, vibrant jewel tones and high-tech lighting throughout. Disco known as Jesters better than NYC clubs! Casino large yet intimate while being glitzy. 1 craps table, 5-6 blackjack tables, 4-5 poker tables, other games, several roulette wheels and slots everywhere. Stateroom: Category DA, balcony-8594. Exactly midship, deck 8. Large balcony w/ table and 2 chairs, outdoor light, sliding glass door that you can keep open. Beds form a king, light wood and pastels, well appointed, lots of lights, very spacious with TONS of room, safe, mini bar, walk in closet, interactive TV, extremely SOFT sheets, bathroom all custom tiled, shower has sliding doors (no gross curtains) and built in soap dispensers, plenty of storage. Incredible job on the room RCCL! Food: 4 ½ stars out of 5. Excellent. Johnny rockets for great burgers, fries, onion rings. Windjammer for ‘good’ quality lunch buffets and ‘excellent’ quality breakfast buffets. Dinner was also very good. Formal dining room was the best for dinner. GO W/ THE LATE SEATING!!!! Lobster tails (I had 3, my friend 5), filet, prime rib, fresh fish, vegetarian stuff, etc. Appetizers just okay, salads okay, soups very good, entrees excellent to superior, deserts fabulous. Café promonade for pizza, sandwiches, sweets—very good, open 24hrs. Ice cream bars throughout open most of day/night. Service: Exceptional. Dinner seat 372—Alex and Cornelias are the BEST. Room service food = fair. Maid service excellent. Entertainment: Ice show not to be missed-I will leave it at that. Velvet rope is broadway quality. Other production show was great too. Lounge acts just okay, better on explorer—very Spanish themed on adventure. Bars: Over 15 bars. All must be hit, HARD. GREAT DRINKS, GREAT PEOPLE, GREAT PRICES $2.75-$4.50 only. Best spots are: royal Viking lounge, jesters, irish pub, champagne bar, cigar bar, pool bar, sky bar. Ports of call: Who cares? No really here is a brief summary: San Juan: Charming Old San Juan. Good food, friendly people, clothing bargains. Nice city. Bacardi factory cool, beaches very nice. St. Martin: Beaches absolutely suck despite what many people say!!! AVOID BEACHES and shop instead—BEST BARGAINS HERE!!! French side is nothing like France, Dutch side dirty. Beers $1. St. Thomas: Opposite St. Martin=BEST beaches, worst shopping. Curacao: Skip beaches (they suck) and go in town. Aruba: Do 4x4 safari on wild north side, then hit quiet beaches on south/west side. Use ABC tours. Club scene cool, but does not crank till 2am. Shopping not good. Debark: 15 minutes total—WOW!!! Spa Services: Scalp massage $26, foot and ankle massage $39, reflexology $109…all splendid. Look for specials. Spa is incredible and gym is state of the art.

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Nov 10, 2002

Southern Caribbean

WHY DID I SELECT ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL? Going back in history, I took my first cruise in 1981. It was the Carnivale, a Carnival Cruise Line ship, one of the three ships own by then. After this one, my wife and I have taken a total of 13 cruises in total. Among them, we had gone in Carnival, Premier, Celebrity, Commodore, and RCCL. I remembered seeing the Song of America docked in San Juan and said, "One of this day I

will take a RCCL cruise." After waiting for 19 years, we finally went in the Sovereign of the Seas out of Port Canaveral, FL. Even though it's the oldest ship of their fleet, it was great. Last year, exactly a year after, we took the RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas out of Galveston, TX. We had so much fun, right before we left the ship, our mind was already set up for another cruise in the near future. My wife thought about changing the Caribbean route for this one. That same week I called my travel agent to book us in the Adventure of the Seas. Two reasons made us to select the AOS. First, we had heard so much about the mega ships and second, we like to try the southern Caribbean. Incredible but true. On all the cruises we have taken, this one top all of them. Our memories on all the RCCL ships have been great. They have the best service in all respect from The wait staff, cabin stewards/stewardess, bartenders, etc. Elegance in all the interiors, colors, brass and Glasses. If you have not cruised on one of the RCCL mega ships, you are not really cruising. We decided to fly three days before to spend sometime in the island and return back home two days after. Timing was perfect because we get to see some of the island interior. Beaches are crystal clear, the mountains greenery is a breath taking. People are very friendly and pleasant. Puerto Rican food is outstanding. One of the views that were recommended is the Hotel Conquistador in Las Croabas. Is like looking at a postcard. Instead having lunch at the hotel, we stop by an "open" diner on the beach. We tried the "alcapurrias" and the "arepas de bacalao (cod fish)". If you have a chance, is a must to try them. The price is extremely reasonable and the taste is delicious. EMBARKATION After being drop off by the taxi driver, we arrived at the pier at 1:00 PM. HASSLE FREE!! Luggage process, I was pretty impressed. Following the procedure of waiting in the already famous white chairs, I didn't even get a chance to relax when I was directed to the check-in window. After receiving the all-in-one cabin key/ID Card/charge card, we had a free rum drink and visit the duty free shop across from the check-in room. If you planning to buy liquor, this is the place. I made the right decision and spent the money in here, which I didn't regret. The only draw-back, the cruise line holds your liquor until the last night. SHIP How can I explain the beauty of this ship? WOW, WOW, WOW, unbelievable its decoration. On all the cruises I ever being, this is the most elegant of all. Carnival, Celebrity, NCL, and Princess lines don't even get close to the AOS. Can somebody explain to me the difference from Luxury, Premium and Contemporary? Since we arrived early enough, we had a chance to get acquainted with the surrounding. First, we went to check the dining room, the location of our table. Unfortunately, the table assigned was for four people. Even though we were a group of four, we decided to change table for a table of ten. When we travel, we like meet people and exchange thoughts. I was lucky to do it before the crowd arrives. After, we took a walked across the Promenade, had some ice cream, and window shopping. Then we visited the casino, which is a deck below the Promenade, very colorful. The glass floor entrance is impressive. STATEROOM Category D7, exactly ¼ port ship, deck 7 across from elevator (very convenience), with a large balcony with a table and 2 chairs, outdoor light, steel wall between balconies for privacy, sliding glass which you can sleep with the door open. Very spacious with a lot of room, comfortable bed, roomy closet, color TV, hair dryer mini-bar, safety box, spacious bathroom with tiled shower and sliding door (not curtain), and built-in soap dispenser. TIP: DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING IN THE FRIDGE UNLESS YOU DON'T CARE TO PAY FOR IT. THE FRIDGE IS AUTOMATIC AND WILL BILLED IT TO YOUR CHARGE CARD. IF YOU WANT TO TRY IT, DON'T BE SURPRISED WITH THE PRICES. Before, I forget, when we went to check our cabin, would say around 2:30 PM, our luggage was sitting by the door. Amazing!! FYI: This is the first time my wife and I had an outside cabin with balcony. Highly recommended if you can spend a little more money. Trust me on this one, is worthy. Is relaxing and mostly romantic. We sat in the balcony and watched as we pull up to the port. In the afternoon, after having a busy day, we had a drink and relax in the balcony, only by contemplating the ocean. Our next cruise, Navigator of the Seas, we are already booked in Category D6, balcony stateroom. By the way, we are renewing our marriage vows and celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. Our sons, wives, and grandchildren will join us for the celebration, a total of 13 people. Don't recommend the Category TR, stateroom with a view to the Promenade. If you care about privacy, curtain need to remain drawn, unless you don't cares about your neighbor across from you spend the time staring at you? For the price, I take a balcony. In addition, the room is too noisy coming out from the Promenade. FOOD AND SERVICE We were assigned to the Vivaldi dining room, deck 4. Our waiter, from India, and his assistant waiter, from Rumania, (sorry forgot their names), were all outstanding. Food was OK and plentiful. When I classify as OK is because some nights were not impressed with the menu and my choice was limited. The Lobster night was succulent. My wife and I had a second. The first night I asked for a glass of milk and my wife asked for ice tea and from their on it was religiously served every night without asking. We love the first seating because give us time to digest our dinner and enjoy the rest of the night. For dining, I recommend the Formal dining room. For excellent quality breakfast and good quality lunch buffets, try the Windjammer. If you don't care about the Formal dining room, the Windjammer is very good for diner. Honestly, I've never try it, but I heard good words of it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Johnny Rockets for great burgers, fries, and onion rings. Shakes are outstanding, number one. Food is free but shakes are $3.78 and are worthy, delicious and filling. The place is so good that most of the time is a waiting time of 30 minutes. Instead for us to wait, since we are night owls, we went at midnight and the waiting time was, for the most 5 minutes. They close at 1 AM. Another place we went for snack before going to bed, almost every night, was the Café Promenade for pizza, sandwiches and sweet goodies. It is opened 24-hour. The ice cream cart is opened until midnight. Never tried the room service and the Portofino restaurant. If my dinner is included on the price, why do I have to pay $20 more to dine? When I was exploring the ship on the first day, I found the Portofino has no intimacy because the table spaces are compacted. BARS Over 15 bars throughout the ship. We can say that we hit all of them. Great drinks, great people, and reasonable prices. My best spot before going dancing was the Casino bar. While my spent my money I had my Bombay Dry Martini with olive and lime followed by a Long Island Ice Tea. The Bulgarian bartender (again I don't remember his name) mixed the best Martini and Long Island Ice Tea I ever try outside my house. After that I was ready to dance all night long, which I did. Most of the time we went dancing to the Viking Crown (Blue Moon) lounge. Music was lively and great, until the wee hours. The bartender didn't even ask me, he knew ahead of time what I like. As of now, I believe that I can brag I am a party animal. 60 years old going into 20. ENTERTAINMENT Ice show is a MUST. Not to be missed. Velvet Rope is good quality. Of all the stand up comedians, I can say only one was worthy to see. Must improve in this area. Name performers, I thought were dead entertainers. Other productions were okay but not great. Lounges shows were excellent. In general, the production is lacking a central theme. FORMAL NIGHTS There are two formal nights for a 7-day cruise. Maybe it is this type of ship's particularly festive reputation that induced most men on board to use tuxedoes for formal nights. On all the cruises I've ever been, is the first time I seen high percentage of men wearing tuxedo and women were extravagant. For men, a dark suit is just as appropriate. My wife purchased for the Sovereign of the Seas an evening dress which she used also for the Rhapsody of the Seas, and she felt herself into the group. For this one she wore a dress in the same category and felt that was undressed. PORTS OF CALL Shore excursions are TOO EXPENSIVE for the time and quality. We didn't care about scheduled excursions. Anything that is being offered, you can do it by yourself. Let me give you a summary. San Juan: Beautiful Old San Juan, good history and impressive. Good food, friendly people, good bargains, beautiful beaches. Rent a car and do-it-yourself. Aruba: Beautiful beaches, Oranjestad is extremely touristy and very expensive. If you like shop, wait until you get to St Martin/St. Marteen. I rented a car and drove around the island. Curacao: Don't waist your time going to the beaches, rather stay in town. Is a beautiful island but nothing to see and do. This time I paid for my wife and myself $25 to drive me around. The only places he took us were to the big bridge and the liquor factory. At least, it was cheaper than a rental car. St. Martin/St. Marteen: BEST BARGAINS!! I bought the champagne Dom Perignon for $69. Not impressed with the beaches. If nudity doesn't affect you morally, this is the place. If you like the sun, blue water and see the low flying 747's, this is the place. Maho Beach is a small beach at the end of the airport runway. We rented a Jeep and drove around the island. Went to both capitals, Marigold (France) and Philipsburg (Dutch). People are pleasant and nice. Not expensive to spend a vacation to relax. St. Thomas Because the island is a U.S. possession, is a U.S Customs process before departing the ship and the process moves pretty fast. This is not my first time in St. Thomas. We spent our honeymoon in ST in 1965. Beautiful beaches but the shopping is the worst. You can find better bargain in U. S. than in here. I was planning to rent a car but my wife got scare of seeing the driving on the left hand side. We lazily went about the town and we felt sorry. The retail store employees are rude, lazy, and with a long face. Why the cruise lines have ST as a Port-O-Call? OBSERVATIONS Pictures packages are too expensive. Enhance the closing night show with better performers and better production. OBSERVATIONS (CONT.) Update the dancing music. Heard the same songs every night. Night on board is wonderful with clubs, pubs, bars, and shows If you like to drink, buy the drink card sold in every bar. Buy them, even if you don't drink heavy. The ship is great for all ages. I think this is also a good place to comment of complaints of people about the Latin flavor of the cruise. First of all, the cruise sails out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a place were Spanish is the native language. Of course, the quotients of Spanish speakers are higher on this ship than if it sails out of a U.S. port. If you heard the announcement by the Captain, that 40% of the passengers are Puerto Rican, 48% are Americans and the balance from other foreign countries. Think about this, what will be the higher quotient of passengers if the ship departs either from Italy or France? The official language of the ship is in English, so everything is done in English. Important announcements are done in both languages. If one of these Spanish speaking people goes to U. S. they have to speak English. But, on the other hand, if you come to San Juan, the native has to speak English because you don't speak the language. Looks to me like a one-way street. I don't speak fluent Spanish but I get around. DISEMBARKATION After U.S. Customs cleared the ship, it took me only 15 minutes and we were out. No problem in finding our luggage. IN REALITY, THIS SHIP IS A TOP OF THE LINE FLOATING RESORT!!!!

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Jul 15, 2002

Southern Caribbean

We can't say enough to praise the crew of Royal Caribbean's Adventurer of the Seas when we decided to cruise of the Southern Caribbean. My suggestion to you is to loose 20 pounds before you sail so you can fit into those suits that you bought for this vacation. Whether its Captain's Night, sailing a Cat to Turtle Cove or a day on the beach in Aruba you can't go wrong choosing Royal Caribbean. Visit www.leisuretyme.net for some great

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Jun 9, 2002

Southern Caribbean

Review - Adventure of the Seas - June 9, 2002 to June 16, 2002 What a great trip and a great cruise! We are 46 years old with two kids, but we didn’t take them this time. Here are some thoughts that may help everyone. This was our eighth cruise but I will try to write this for both first time and experienced cruisers. GOOD 1. What an awesome, beautiful ship. Very easy to learn your way around and the signage is excellent. (you do need

to know that forward is the front of the ship, aft is to the back, starboard is right and port is left). This ship might honestly be too big for some, but it wasn’t to us. We rarely felt crowded (exceptions were around the pool on the at sea day and in the immigration line). 2. Service in the dining room. We had great service from our waiter, Mustapha, and our assistant waiter, Oana. We spoke to many other people and all were universally happy with the service in the dining room. We also got excellent service in the show lounges. 3. Food. Very good to excellent with only a very few misses. 4. Portofinos. (see below). 5. Room Steward. Great! Our room was cleaned twice a day and we always had fresh ice. We got everything we asked for and got it quickly. 6. Entertainment. I will discuss the individual shows below but RCCL usually does an above average job on entertainment, and this cruise was not different. I must mention “HOT ART - COOL ICE”, you must see this show!! 7. Children’s Program (Adventure Ocean). We did not bring our children but many people we talked about raved about how good it was. Only negative comment was from the parent of a 15 year old who did not want to participate. BAD 1. Service around the pools and room service. I was at the pool for 3 hours Saturday and not one waiter asked if I needed anything. Had to keep going back and forth to the bar. Room service could never seem to get our order right. There always seemed to be something missing. Also, service in the bars was spotty, sometimes good, sometime bad, and sometimes non-existent. FAVORITE PLACES ON THE SHIP I know everyone’s taste is different, but here are the spots on the Adventure we really enjoyed. 1. Deck 4 - Both inside and outside. Inside, the casino. Outside, the promenade all the way around the ship. You can go all the way to the bow (the “King of the World” spot) and all around the ship. One unique feature of this promenade is you are actually outside the ship by the dining rooms. It’s hard to explain but the deck juts out so you can look forward, back or up and it feels like you are suspended outside the ship. 2. The Pool - enough said! 3. Blue Moon (Viking Crown Lounge - Deck 14) - every veteran of RCCL knows these spots. Great for a drink at sunset before dinner. 4. Royal Promenade (Deck 5) - Very unique. We especially liked the Duck & Dog Pub and the Café Promenade (24 hour cookies and sandwiches). 5. Our Own Balcony!!! (Cabin 7256) - Best of all. Our first balcony and I think we are spoiled now. I think I may need one of these for every cruise. SUNDAY We actually got to San Juan on Saturday and spent the night at the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel. This hotel is across the street from the cruise ship terminal RCCL used to use (and Carnival Destiny still does) but it is not across the street from where the AOS docks. It is across the channel and is a cab ride ($12 and 5 minutes) away. We got to the pier at 11:45 and the porters took our luggage right away. They open the doors at 12:00 and then you are led into a waiting area with the now famous rows of white chairs. People are called row by row to proceed to the next area where the agents will check your documents and issue your cruise card. This card is your room key, charge card and pass to get on and off the ship. DO NOT LOSE IT! If you have a lanyard, just ask and the agent will punch a hole in the card for you. Everything went smoothly and we were an the ship by 12:45. I heard some complaints about this procedure but do no share them. Yes, the air conditioning should have worked better in the embarkation waiting area (I suggest being sure you are wearing something cool when you arrive at the pier) but considering that they have to board 3500 people, most of whom show up between 12 and 5 (about 700 per hour) they do a very good job. The Krooze Komics are in the embarkation area to entertain. If you just go in with a little bit of patience and the right attitude, the procedure should be relatively painless. Spent the day exploring the ship, unpacking and relaxing. We had the second seating, which is normally 8:30 but on Sunday only was at 9:00. We generally prefer second seating because unless you are by nature an early riser who just can’t stay up past 10:00, it seems to work out with the cruise ship schedule so much better. It is nearly impossible to spend a day outside or on the island du jour and get back in time to clean up for a 6:00 dinner, which is the main seating. Since the ship almost always leaves port at 6:00 you miss every sailing, sunset and sail away party! Too much of a sacrifice to us! We did see a lot of people in the Windjammer Restaurant (the always casual buffet line choice) every night between 7:00 - 7:30 and this may have been the early seating people who couldn’t quite make it. The food served in the Windjammer is nearly the same as in the dining room with a few exceptions but your miss the service and the little extras on the menu (like lobster!!). Most people do chose the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. We had booked all our excursions on line so we did not have to do this on board. You can book excursions on line or at the Explorations! Desk on Deck 5 aft. We did make a reservation for Portofinos for Tuesday night, which is Caribbean night in the dining room. We met our cruise director, Omar, for the first time. I have seen a lot of criticism on this board about Omar but we did not share that criticism. We thought Omar was friendly and did his job. This is our 8th cruise and we have had better cruise directors that Omar but we have certainly had worse! He does nothing to detract from the experience. This seems also a good time to comment on the “Latin” flavor of the cruise that so many people seem concerned about. First of all, you must realize that you are sailing out of Puerto Rico, a place were Spanish is the native language. Naturally you will have a higher quotient of Spanish speakers on this ship than those that sail from a U.S. port, just as you would have a higher quotient of French speakers in a cruise that originates in France. The official language of the ship is English, so everything is done in English. Important announcements are also done in Spanish as well as some of the songs (maybe one or two) in the shows. It is not intrusive, and any English speaking person should feel very comfortable. The Latin people are well behaved, friendly, and on the cruise for the same reason as us, to have a great time. In my opinion, this is a non issue. In any event, it is not a problem and English speakers will be very comfortable. MONDAY - St. Thomas We did not do an excursion this day. We had spent our honeymoon on St. Thomas and St. John 20 years ago so we arranged with the same hotel to spend the day there. We did see a wedding party on the dock at about 9:00 a.m., Preflyt, was that you? The first formal night and the Captain’s cocktail party. First production show, “Velvet Rope”. It was very good. Some gambling in the casino. Note to gamblers: RCCL has several rules which are not favorable to gamblers so take note. Craps is a “single odds” game and the blackjack tables us constant, automatic shufflers. If you are a gambler, you know what this means, and if not, never mind. TUESDAY - St. Maarten/St. Martin We took the Golden Eagle, a catamaran excursion to an island beach for swimming and snorkeling. The crew was friendly, the beach beautiful and the cruise enjoyable. We really had a good time. NOTE: RCCL warns you that nudity may be observed, and sure enough, it was. A whole boatload! There were children with us but after a few moments of staring, they went back to what they were doing. I think we all learned why people wear clothes! Portofinos for dinner. Excellent! In our opinion worth the $20.00 (each) cover charge). The food was great (we had the lobster and filet mignon). The atmosphere was just right. We had 6:30 reservations and were able to watch the sun set. Very romantic. If the ship is sailing south you will be able to see the sunset because Portofinos is on Deck 11 starboard. There is live music and it is a nice romantic change of pace from the dining room. After dinner we saw the “HOT ART - COOL ICE” show. As I said above, WOW!!!! Do not miss this show. It is amazing what they can do on that relatively tiny ice surface. They generate amazing speed in short time. There are 5 shows during the week and you must get tickets on Monday or Tuesday between 5:30 - 6:30. The tickets are free. Just go down to Studio B, there is ample information in the Cruise Compass, the daily newsletter to let you know what to do. WEDNESDAY - Antigua Probably the worst excursion we went on and I would not recommend it - the 4x4 Adventure. I’m more of a beach and boat person anyway so it could be personal preference. I did hear that the people that booked the Ecotour themselves has a good time. Maybe that would be a better bet if you want to go off road in Antigua. In the past we have always loved the beaches here and I think we’ll stick to that next time. At night, the first guest entertainer. He was good and we enjoyed the show. THURSDAY - St. Lucia What a beautiful island! This was our first time in St. Lucia and were struck how different it seemed from many other Caribbean islands. Would definitely like to spend more time here. We took the catamaran tour to Mount Couberil Estates. A very good tour although it takes all day (we got back to the ship about 3:30). The tour takes you by catamaran to Soufriere and the you go by bus to the “drive in volcano” and a plantation before you get back on the catamaran for a stop at a beach. Be forewarned, the vendors at the volcano and especially on the beach (mainly rastfarians) are very aggressive. They were never rude but they are persistent. The volcano tour is informative and last about 20 minutes. At the plantations you learn about cocoa production and coconut production. This was informative but a little long. Ultimately I would say the tour to the Plantation was worthwhile but I don’t think you’d want to be there much longer. Second production show of the week, “Can’t Stop the Rock”. Again an excellent show. One of the female singers is especially strong (she was very good in “Velvet Rope” as well). I’m sorry I do not remember her name, but she is well worth the time by herself. FRIDAY - Barbados We went on a scuba excursion - we are experienced certified divers. Didn’t experience much of the island because we were tired and went back to the ship right afterward for a nap. I can say that the folks on the Jolly Roger sure seemed to enjoy themselves!!! They cruised right past our balcony and were having a good time! The second formal night. The second guest entertainer, a Canadian who did vocal (singing) impersonations. Probably the weakest show of the week. While he was occasionally right on he often was not. His answer to impersonating a woman seemed to be get as nasal as possible. Still, the show was entertaining but was definitely missable if you needed to miss one. Later that night (12:30 a.m.) Was a comedian doing an adult show. Very funny and very good. He was not over the line for my sensibilities. You certainly wouldn’t want your children there but he was not filthy or gross. I thought it was just right for the audience. The only midnight buffet of the week was at the same time as the comedy show so you have a decision to make. Personally, I had eaten so much during the week that I figured I could miss a meal and I’ve never been that much into food as spectacle. SATURDAY - at sea One of the few things I didn’t like about this cruise was the fact that there was only one sea day. We really like the sea days – they don’t seem as rushed and are very relaxing. But if you are only going to have one, I’m glad it was the last day. Time to rest and de-stress at the end of the vacation. The pool was very crowded but I was able to find a deck chair near the pool in the early afternoon. The service was awful though (see above). SUNDAY - San Juan (boo hoo!) Everyone, including U.S. Citizens, must now go through immigration. This process begins at 6:00 and you go by your stateroom location. The ship gives you a information sheet that tells you when to go. The line is VERY long but don’t panic, it only took us about 10 - 15 minutes to get through. This was the only LONG line of the week. I has heard that the line could be long to get off and on the ship in the various ports but did not experience this. The longest line we had was about 8-10 people and took 2 minutes. NOTE: there are usually 2 gangways, fore and aft, to get off and on the ship. (This is not true in St. Lucia, only one). When you approach the ship there is usually one, the farthest away, that has no line. If your cabin is that way anyway, why not walk to it on the pier, you got to walk that distance one way or the other. We had no problem with debarkation but we had an early flight so we were first called off the ship at 8:30. We were at the San Juan airport by 9:00. Can speak for later departures but it seemed pretty organized with ample porters to help with luggage and taxi’s to take you where you wanted to go. Well, that’s it. What a great time. We look forward to our next cruise and maybe we’ll be cruising with one of you. GREAT CRUISIN’!!!!!

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May 19, 2002

San Juan, Sea, Aruba, Curacao, Sea, St. Maarten, St.

So many dining choices, however, contrary to my pre-cruise plans, we ate 6 nights in the dining room. Only one dish my boyfriend thought was bland (eggplant), but he could have very well asked for something else. One night he selected something not on the menu and it was done without a PROBLEM! We ate breakfast (A FULL BREAKFAST) every morning at the Windjammer – something we very rarely do at home. There is something for everyone. We ate ALL DAY

long. The shows: We really did not attend many of the shows; the ones we did attend were good. I hear very good comments about the ice-skating show and other shows. The casino is beautiful and lucky for my boyfriend, not so friendly for me. The Cruise: The itinerary offered the 2 of us an opportunity to relax – something we don’t take advantage of too often. We did not do any scheduled excursions – our focus was to relax and enjoy one another. Aruba was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Rented a jeep and toured island on our own. View from the lighthouse was breathtaking! Only wish that cruise line could work out a deal with one of the hotels for passengers to be able to use their facilities for the day. Next time I would probably book either the booze cruise or the tour bus in Aruba. Curacao was amazingly clean and colorful. We shopped around. Nice floating bridge down by the shops. Very interesting to walk over and to see it open up. St. Maarten was my favorite stop. What a beautiful island!!??!! Relaxed on the beach and jet skied – what BETTER day could I have asked for! Great cigarette (for those who smoke) and alcohol prices – definitely better than in St. Thomas, but beware of US custom allowances. St. Thomas began with an early morning customs process before departing the ship. Let me add – pulling into port is AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL! Customs process really goes pretty fast and considering all things a definite plus in my book, however, I was expecting greater detail. Anyway, St. Thomas is beautiful, we lazily went about the town…getting to close to the time to disembark and I was truly beginning to feel sorry! Disembarkation: I was in a totally bummed out mood! I really wanted to stay on…. This day seems like a total blur…we had a late flight, so we didn’t leave the boat right away. Easily found our luggage. Took a cab down to Old San Juan – small streets, stores and restaurants. I enjoyed looking around, however, my boyfriend could have done without it. Cab ride to the airport, checked in without any real security issues. Couple of drinks, visit to the duty free shop, lots of consoling me and we were headed back to the Big Apple. Overall: Kudos to Royal Caribbean. Going on your 1st cruise (maybe any) can be an extremely exciting and nerve-racking ordeal. Reading reviews can cause you to change your mind again and again. I am so HAPPY that I decided on the AOS! I’d tell anyone to book a cruise on this ship! If you don’t have a good time and enjoy this ship you need to look at yourself. There is no explanation for having a bad cruise on the AOS. Suggestions: Create a drink program for those who like to drink while on vacation and have no responsibility for driving. Drinks can really add up. Or allow passengers to bring aboard their own liquor (not that this stopped me…I actually brought my own and spent a huge amount on the ship.) Update the music collection in the Disco. Experiment and be creative. I enjoyed the disco, but night after night seemed like the same tape was being played over and over. Lids PLEASE for coffee cups. It upset me to see how so many people would spill their coffee on the beautiful floors (although the staff was more than adequate in cleaning messes up). Picture packages PLEASE! Everyone loves to have pictures to show off, but give me a break - $10 or $20 apiece!!! I am a late owl when I vacation – why not allow bars to be open ALL NIGHT LONG? Can we extend the hours for the pools? What is the reason behind closing them? I would have loved a late night/early morning swim. Last night should end on a BANG!! How about a MONSTER POOL PARTY JAM!! Well, nothing is perfect, but this trip was extremely close! ENJOY CRUISING THE BIG BLUE!

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May 19, 2002

Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas

To begin, this was my honeymoon cruise and it lived up to every expectation ever! It was everything and more, not one thing went wrong. Embarkation: We left from Dallas Fort Worth, TX at 8 a.m. and landed in San Juan at 1:30 p.m., we were on the ship by 2:45 at the latest. Do not let other reviews fool you? There might be rows of white chairs that you have to sit in, but we were only in the chairs for 10 minutes max. The process

went by so quickly, before we knew it we were on the ship! The ship: All I can so is WOW! I have been on a cruise before, and this ship is sooo amazing! We got lost trying to find our room! The decor is just beautiful; Royal Caribbean did not skimp out on any detail. My favorite was the entrance to the casino. There is a glass floor with movie props underneath it! The dining room is breath taking. The Lyric theatre was monstrous; the Royal Promenade is just amazing. I can go on and on, but everything was just AWESOME. Our Room: We had a category DB (balcony stateroom) and it was just perfect! They even decorated it for us!! We paid extra since it was our honeymoon, but now we do not know how we are ever going to go back to an inside stateroom. We would sit out on our balcony numerous times a day. Plus we would set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. to take pictures of us pulling into port! The toilets make funny noises when they flush, every time we would flush the toilet we would both just die laughing. The shower was small but comfortable. Our room steward was perfect. He left us towel animals all the time. The first day we got there we quickly unloaded our suitcase and forgot to put a few things back in, and when we came back they were nicely folded! We felt so bad! So the rest of the time we made sure we picked up a little bit! The service: I thought the service was top-notch, however we were eating breakfast one morning and a couple beside us was complaining. It made me so mad. I have read tons of reviews that say the service is not good, but I am here to say that is a lie! Every night when we would go to dinner our assistant waiter Stephen would give my husband and I two iced teas each, and they were always refilled before they were half way empty! Our waiter was fantastic, Sudesh from India. He knew exactly what we wanted by the third day of the cruise. It was absolutely fantastic. The food: We had main seating, and I would not do it any other way. It was amazing! Everything was either good or great. We loved the Windjammer and Island Grill! We ate 4 times a day. The omelets in the morning are to die for. There are also Chilidogs during the snack time and they were huge! Just like if you had gone to a ballpark. I had to order a side of mashed potatoes with every dinner because they were so good. The desserts, oh the desserts, my mouth just waters thinking about them! We had such a good table of people! We miss them already. They would practically tell us it was time to leave we would sit there and talk so long. The shows: We did not do the Ice skating show, which I wish we would of; we were to stuck in the Casino! The welcome aboard show was great. We loved Chucky the duck! The Love and Marriage game show was so funny! We went and we wanted to audition, but what they do is tell all the newlyweds to stand up and you had 20 seconds to get their attention. Well I was in a skirt so there was no way I was going to let Billy (my husband) lift me up like some of the other couples did. The late night comedy shows were fantastic. The Can't Stop the Rock show was our least favorite, but it was still good. We also attended the Honeymooners party, it was so funny, they band they have playing is called Dreamscape and we felt like we were in the movie "The Wedding Singer" the main lady has a side pony tail and they play cheesy love songs, but we went for the free champagne and cake! Monday: At Sea: This was such a relaxing day. I don't know if it was because the entire wedding was finally over or maybe it was they ship! It was perfect. Except Billy got so sunburned! We played Bingo today and won!!! I recommend playing Bingo, it was fun and exciting. The tickets cost $20 for 3 cards a game or $35 for 6 cards a game. It was kind of costly but worth it. Tuesday Aruba: The water and scenery in Aruba was breathtaking! Aruba and St. Maarten were our favorite for beauty. We did the Sail Away Beach Cruise! It was one of the highlights of the trip. The crew on our catamaran was great. They played good island music. We got to snorkel in two places. They first dropped us off in 12 ft. of water, it was pretty with lots of fish, and then they take you to the wreck of a German ship! In 60 feet of water! I know now what my fear is and it is DEEP WATER! Besides being scared the ship was cool to look and snorkel around. The marine life was flourishing. The beach that you can lay out and swim on is amazing. I look at my pictures and I am amazed at the beauty of that island. There are also a lot of water sports available. The bar-b-Q they serve is great. This was a perfect excursion when we come back we would definitely book it again, I do not know if I would snorkel by the wrecked ship or not. On the way back to the boat they serve you more rum punch and there is a dance contest. Then something funny happened, the other catamaran that was with us all the people lined up and Mooned us!!!! The town of Aruba was so nice. The architecture was brilliant. This was our favorite town. There was so much shopping and even casinos. We went in to Carlos and Charlie’s, but we did not go there at night. The people from out table went after dinner and they had a great time! Oh, if you want to buy a diamond, Diamonds International is the place they have so much loose diamonds for very good prices, we are going to bring some money next time and upgrade my diamond!!! Wednesday Curacao: This was our least favorite island. But when I say least favorite I mean on a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 9.99, were all the other islands are 10's! We slept in that day, we didn't mean to but we left the blinds closed on our balcony and did not get up until 11. We vowed we would not do that again. We booked the Curacao beach break. We had to provide our own transportation; it was only a $3 cab ride per person. The beach was beautiful and the sand was almost white. The only reason this was our least favorite beach was because the sand had lots of broken shells in it and it hurt when you walked along the shore. But other than that, it was just a relaxing day on the beach, and you can never top that. We spent about 3 hours there and then we went back to the ship got money and went shopping! The town is also nice like Aruba’s. The buildings are in all spring colors. There is a floating bridge down by the shops and it is a marvel to look at. Overall it was a super day. Thursday At Sea: This was a relaxing day again. We played ping-pong and miniature golf, but it was nice to have a day to relax. Friday St. Maarten: This was the prettiest island we went to. We did the St. Maarten Beach Rendezvous. It took us to Orient Beach. There were tons of water sports. We played on the Water trampolines. It was very interesting on the way back to the ship when our tour guide told us all about the island. We were dropped of in town and we shopped. The alcohol and cigarettes are cheap here, if you smoke and drink. We saw a carton of cigarettes for $9.95, we were going to buy one for our friend at home who smokes but we thought that St. Thomas might be cheaper but it wasn't. One thing neat was the Jimmy Buffets shop. It was filled with memorabilia. The pier is also so nice. That night we watched the Comedy show with the ventriloquist and it was hilarious! Just be sure not to walk out on the show. Saturday St. Thomas: This is the island you have to go through customs before you can get off the ship. We thought for sure the line was not going to be long, but it was all the way down the promenade. I have also read some reviews that say it takes hours, but it only took 20 minutes. Also, there was some guy behind us complaining the whole time about how dumb this was and going on and on about it. First of all it is not something Royal Caribbean decided to do. It is the United States policy. RCCL has to comply with it. And second of all it is better to be safe than sorry, as the United States has realized after 9/11. I was personally glad they did it. Just don't get automatically upset at the size of the line, it goes by fast I promise. St. Thomas is a beautiful island. We booked two excursions for this day. In the morning we did the Planet Aqua, it was by far the coolest thing ever. They put these helmets on you and you can walk around the ocean floor. We saw so many beautiful fish! You are down there around 25 minutes. After we got back to the ship we had some time to go grab a quick bite to eat and then we were off for the Kon Tiki! Our table friends from Connecticut also went with us and we had a blast. This was the wildest boat ever! They serve you unlimited Rum Punch and tell you all about the island. We stopped at Honeymooners beach; it looked like something off a postcard. We stayed there for about an hour and then we set sail on the Kon Tiki again. This is when it gets really wild! The steel band was playing, we did the Macarena, limbo and just danced and it was the best! After we arrived we all went shopping! Needless to say you should never go shopping after the Kon Tiki party boat. Billy and I went to the liquor store and bought 8 bottles of alcohol. But the good news is it only cost us $60! Overall we had a super day. And we started getting sad we had to leave. Disembarkation: The worst day of our trip, we did not want to leave. We had an early flight and we were the first group to get off. I kind of liked having an early flight. It was not crowed with a bunch of people. The room were all the luggage was, was not crowded so it was easy to find our bags. The only thing I would do differently is I would take a cab to the airport. With the transfers you had to wait on everybody else and their bags. While we were in the airport I overheard some people talking about the disembarkation process, they said it was a mad house, but I did not experience that at all. Even the scary flight home could not of ruined this vacation. Overall: I tell people on a scale of 1 to 10 it was a 20! I think that Royal Caribbean has done an excellent job with this ship. We are going to book another one as soon as possible. Probably even on the Adventure. Also, I have read reviews about there are too many Spanish-speaking people. There were quite a few, but it did not bother us one bit. If anyone is considering this cruise I would tell you to book it now!!! I had a vacation of a lifetime and I owe it all to Royal Caribbean. I do not know how anyone could of had a bad cruise, maybe those people are just a little to up tight! Happy Sailings! Ashley

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Apr 28, 2002

St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados

My friend Nancy and I went on RCCL Adventure of the Seas Southern Caribbean cruise on April 28th. We visited St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. What a fantastic cruise! I can honestly say it is one of my favorites (I’ve been on 11 cruises). This itinerary is fantastic. We love these islands. The ship is beautiful and ENORMOUS! Of course, there were some not so nice aspects, as with anything. I’ve tried to categorize my review

into sections. Arrival: Since 9/11 you now have to claim your baggage upon arrival in the departure city’s airport. This is a royal pain. The cruise reps meet you by baggage claim. We waited about a half hour in the San Juan airport baggage area and then were led outside. Where we waited, and waited, and waited. After another half hour, we followed some of our fellow passengers and got a cab for $16 to the ship. Before we left, we asked the rep what the problem was. She said that the bus was late due to traffic delays because there was some type of special events going on in San Juan. However, our cabbie said there was no traffic that he knew of and we didn’t notice anything along the way to the ship. Our luggage, luckily, was put on a truck and on it’s way to the ship too. We were glad we took the cab, but unhappy with the poor excuses of the cruise reps. Check in at the pier was quick. It is good to join the Crown and Anchor (if you’ve cruise with RCCL before). However, I had to ask if I could just go up to that desk and check in instead of waiting on the long line. The line did move fast, but it would have helped if they directed us immediately to the express check-in. ,b>The Ship This ship is like first class as compared to coach. Gorgeous! Huge! But not so big that it is overwhelming. Some didn’t like it – thought it was too big. But, we had no problems. On any new ship, you need to get your bearings and there is more to locate, but there are plenty of signs and maps around. I could never explain all the stuff they have, it has to be seen to be believed. The Dining Room: The dining room is awesome – 3 levels with a titanic-like stairway with a huge chandelier. Main seating was at 6 and Late was at 8:30. That is pretty late to eat and we were happy with the early seating. They were very flexible on times you arrived to dinner. We had one couple join us while we had our entrée. Another problem we had was with our table assignment. We were seated at a table for 10 and for the first 3 nights, only one other couple showed up – 2 other women who spoke mostly Spanish and kept to themselves. This was unacceptable to us as we are very social and wanted to meet people. One of the most fun aspects is to have nice dinner companions and share the day’s events and the plans for the upcoming day. So, finally, the maitre d’ got us relocated to another table and this was so much better. The couples were older (one married 55 years and the other married 52 years), but that never bothers us. They were very enjoyable and we had lots of laughs and good times. Pool: Or should I say pools. There were 2 big ones on the main pool deck and another in the solarium (no kids allowed). A fourth kiddie pool was at the back of the ship. This is our favorite kind of pool cause it has a bench around it where you can sit and put your feet in the water. Or, sit down on the ledge and lean against the bench, letting the 6 inches of water gently lap around your legs. Finally, there’s the pool itself. Something for everyone! Then had the usually fun stuff poolside (Men’s sexy legs contest, etc), but the horse racing was loud and somewhat annoying. Keep in mind everything is videotaped so you might get in the Cruise Memories video which is for sale. Cabin: We had a Cat 9D cabin which was 180 sq ft with a balcony. Very nice for 2, but a little tight for women. A little tight on closet space. But, we made do. The steward was wonderful – left little towel animals every night. Only problem was the mini bar was not refilled and we would have liked a big bottle of water for the room (they only had little ones in the mini bar). Islands: One general note – the shore excursion rep was not very helpful or knowledgeable. He only knew the ship’s recommended stuff. But, we managed to find some really great spots by asking the reps and the taxi drivers on the pier. Also, ask people you meet on the cruise, at breakfast, lunch and dinner. We got some great info just from people we met a breakfast! St. Thomas – My favorite island. It has it all. Shopping, beaches, side excursions to St. John. Plus, it’s American. This time we went to St. John (Trunk Bay snorkeling). This was a very nice trip, but I prefer to snorkel from the beach. This one you had to jump off the back of the boat or climb down a ladder into the water. I’ve seen better snorkeling too. But, shopping is the best here, especially Jewelry. They have the best selection of all the islands. Antigua – On Antigua we went to Long Bay. What a nice beach. It was a long ride – about ½ hour, but it was worth it. $24 each way for 2 people. We had a nice lunch in an open air bar and had some local beer. On the way back, our cab didn’t return (luckily we didn’t pay him for the round trip) so we hitched a ride with another couple from the ship. The cab took us to Devil’s Bridge first. Really wild. Very bumpy road out to a point of land and the waves crash into the rocks where they formed a tunnel through them. It was just starting to rain so it was especially windy and wild. We thanked him so much for that little side trip. St. Lucia – Here we went to Sandals resort. $40 gets you in, and you have all drinks and food included. One note, there’s not much shade here. The beach was unbearably hot and no umbrellas. We found a little shade by the pool and that’s where I burned, I think. Stayed in the pool to cool off. Had a nice buffet lunch here. This was not recommended by the ship, but was a very nice excursion. Barbados – Loved Barbados. We went to Tamarind Cove. Very lovely. Plenty of shade and a nice resort. Here you have to rent chairs and umbrellas, but it’s worth it. Nice restaurant to eat and they serve drinks on the beach, and again we tried the local beer - yum. Leaving: The line for the US immigration on the ship was unbelievably long – for US citizens. We waited a half hour! They really need to rethink this procedure. If you have an early flight, get there early and then eat, or eat in your room the last morning.

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Mar 17, 2002

San Juan, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Thomas

Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas, March 17-24, 2002 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 flies! 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 Café 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 himself. 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. Miscellaneous: 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 mad his own suggestions too. Other reviewers 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!!

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Feb 17, 2002

San Juan, Aruba, St. Maarten, St. Thomas

As a first time cruiser I had many pre-conceived notions (both good and bad) about what to expect on my cruise. Some were realized, while others were not. I was cruising with 25 other family members as part of a family vacation. About half of us have never cruised before. When we arrived at the docks in San Juan I expected a lengthy delay in boarding the ship, since boarding time was not scheduled until 2:00 pm. I was pleasantly surprised

when arriving at 1:00 they allowed us to board right away. It was a painless hassle free experience. After boarding we found our cabins and all of us had inside staterooms, even though we had requested upgrades. We assumed the ship was probably full since it was during Winter break in the Northeast. This was not the case, but no upgrades were offered. [For “The Lowdown on Upgrades” please read this article – Editor’s Note] Our first meal was in the Windjammer Restaurant that was a buffet and offered breakfast from early a.m. until about 10:30 a.m. and then lunch and dinner accordingly. Food was good, however not what I expected (again, pre-conceived notions). Staff was friendly, constantly removed dirty dishes and offered refills on coffee, iced tea and lemonade. Our luggage arrived earlier than 10:00 p.m., another pleasant surprise, since I had heard stories of not obtaining luggage until well after midnight. The first evening we ate in the Vivaldi dining room and food again was good, but nothing spectacular. One major disappointment was the wait staff in the main dining room. We had requested that the entire family be seated together, however the sheer size of our party prohibited such. Unfortunately they put ten of us at one table, eleven at another and a family of four at yet another. The tables were in somewhat close proximity, but not what we had hoped for. After the third night, the head waiter did scoot the family of four over to one of our main tables, which was appreciated. Our waitress, while friendly, just didn't seem to genuinely like us, or go out of her way to be helpful. As an example, at one point my husband asked for a cup of coffee after dinner was served, and she stated that she "didn't do coffee". Unbeknownst to us at that time, serving coffee was the responsibility of the assistant waitress (who by the way was a joy to know). While we realized afterwards the roles of each of the wait staff, I think a more appropriate response would have been, "Certainly, I'll let "Elsie" know you would like some coffee." On more than one occasion when an entree or appetizer appeared that was incorrect, the staff questioned us if we were sure we didn't order it. The cabin stewards were very competent, however again, they never acknowledged any of my cabin mates by name. On the other hand other family members who had different cabin stewards were very impressed by their helpfulness and friendliness. We had booked a snorkeling excursion in Aruba through the cruise-line on-line prior to leaving. It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end. We were met at the docks by the snorkeling company and had a great time in Aruba. Booking through the cruise line certainly held advantages since no other transportation arrangements have to be made. We had such a great time snorkeling in Aruba we decided we wanted to try it again in St. Thomas. Two days before arriving in St. Thomas we attempted to book an excursion through RC's interactive television service and were unable to. My husband then went to the main desk on the fifth floor to do so and was told he had to make those reservations through Sea Trex on the eleventh floor. After going up to 11 and finding Sea Trex closed, he was extremely disappointed in the customer service. We had thirteen kids in our party, nine of them teenagers and they had the time of their life. There was constantly something for them to do, whether it was at the arcade, rock climbing wall, ice-skating rink or relaxing in the hot tubs. Some of the kids were disappointed since a lot of the activities had limited hours. It's a big ship to travel from one end to the other only to find out something was closed! For the adults a variety of clubs, bars and shows always kept us busy and the performers were excellent. Debarkation should have been a painless process except for an "incident" just as our flight was being called. We were waiting in a lobby area that also contained cubicles for internet access. Two of the younger boys were sitting in the cubicle with the shutter-type doors closed, when another child (I admit it, it was my son), came up and kicked on a small button at the bottom of the cubicle. The doors were locked! We tried everything to get them open, but nothing worked. After calling Guest Services someone came and tried to get it open and muttered something to the effect that the same thing happens on the Explorer of the Seas also. When a master key was unable to be found, maintenance had to be called to drill the lock out. All of this happened just as we were disembarking, and added an extra half hour to that process. I was truly amazed that any lock would exist on that ship that didn't have a master key! All in all we did have the vacation of a lifetime, but I think that the staff of Adventure of the Seas needs to take some refresher courses in customer service.

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Jan 20, 2002

Southern Caribbean

The embarkation procedures were horrendous. We stood for nearly two hours in the hot afternoon sun before we were herded into the terminal to sit and await our turn at the check in-counter. Once aboard the ship, we were left on our own to locate our cabin. Our cabin was located at the bow of the ship, so the room was an odd shape. The big porthole was great. It was beautifully appointed in corals and turquoise, with lots of drawers,

shelves and cupboard space. The shower was small and if you dropped the soap, you were lucky if you didn't bump your head when you bent to pick it up. It's definitely not made for tall people! There was a stocked mini-fridge in the room. I guess I don't like paying $1.75 for a fifty cent can of Diet Coke! Bottled water was also available in the fridge at an inflated price. A pitcher of water was unattainable. Our cabin steward took great care of us during our stay. We would arrive back in our cabin at night to find a rabbit or elephant made of towels on our beds, a chocolate and the next days events. The ship is beautiful. The public rooms are tasteful. The Promenade is wonderful and there are lots of activities...parades, kids shows and the Kruise Komics who perform 'street entertainment'. Upon booking, we had requested late seating. We were traveling with eight other people and had requested to sit with them. On our documents, it was stated that we had late seating. Low and behold, six of us were assigned to the early sitting and the other two couples had late seating but were seated separately. All efforts to correct the problem were brushed aside. They would see what they could do...no promises. The fact we were celebrating a ninetieth birthday didn't seem to phase them. Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant start to our vacation. The only way they could correct the problem was to form a table for 7 and add 3 seats to a table for 10. That proved a problem to the 10 people who were celebrating a family reunion and didn't want outsiders at their table. The head waiter told them that they were there to make sure everyone had a good vacation and that the three people from our party would be sitting at their table. It made for a very uncomfortable situation. The waiter was incapable of getting our orders right and often made inappropriate comments. The assistant waiter was efficient. The food was occasionally great and at other times, boring and tasteless. This had never been a problem on Celebrity ships. The lunch and dinner menu in the Windjammer and Oasis Grills were repetitive and uninteresting. There was no cream for the coffee. The omelets at breakfast were great, as they were cooked to order. Johnny Rockets, the 50's diner was a great place for a hamburger, fries, rings and a shake. Lots of white tile and chrome and red leatherette seats completed the effect. The staff were having a good time and a nickel bought one play on the juke box...all golden oldies. It was a popular place at meal times, so go when you're in port if you don't want to wait. We selected all morning shore excursions, so we could shop in the afternoon. We were tied to the pier in all ports, so if you have a problem with tenders, you don't have to worry. We visited Aruba and took the Town and Country tour. It was interesting. We visited the Natural Bridge and rock formations. There is only a limited amount of time at each location so you have to hurry. Mind you, this is a problem on all tours. In Curacao, we took the Highlight tour that included a stop at the Curacao distillery (too many people and too little time!), a manor house and the seaquarium. We got to see them feed nurse sharks. There's a touch tank so you can handle sea urchins, star fish and sea cucumbers. There are also flamingos and outdoor tanks for sharks, sea turtles and a sea lion. In St. Maarten we did the America's Cup Regatta Race. It was the best shore excursion I had ever taken so I did it again this year. You get to crew real 12 metre America's Cup boats under the direct supervision on the captain and the 'real' crew. You can participate as fully as you wish. The day we were there, the waves were 8-10 feet, a good wind, lots of sunshine and great racing. They even manage to take a photo of the boat and crew, while you're learning the ropes. It makes a great souvenir of the day! Pop, water and beer are supplied. There was even time for a short sail along the coast with the participants taking the helm. In St. Thomas, we took the Island Sightseeing tour. We stopped at Mountaintop, the highest point on the island. We had one of their famous banana daiquiris. We also stopped at St. Peter's Great House, a fabulous place. All the ports have the usual souvenir t-shirt places and St. Maarten and St. Thomas are crammed with jewelry stores to suit every taste and budget. We had great margaritas at Carlos 'n Charlies in Aruba. It's a great place it you like it noisy and fun. In St. Thomas we had lunch at the Calypso Cafe in the A.H. Riise block. The food was delicious and the locals eat there! The ship had an ice skating rink. You had to get tickets in advance (no charge) for the skating shows. The show we saw was good. The seas were rough so there were a few falls. You could borrow skates and skate. The skates are molded plastic and my friend was not impressed with them, neither were the professional skaters who hand out the skates. The blades were dull. Figure and hockey skates are available. The ice was soft. If you really want to skate, bring your own. There were a lot of people skating for the first time but there are times for more experience skaters. You must have your own skates to participate in that. The stage shows were typical of cruise ships.. overblown production numbers with some things unsuitable to the many children in the audience. There was nothing spectacular about them. Our group had a mini-putt tournament on the Adventure Dunes course. It's a nine-hole course and has simulated sand traps. It's a challenge when the ship is at sea and the wind is brisk. There is a basketball court that converts to volleyball and many people took advantage of the rock climbing wall. It seems that RCCL spend millions on building a fabulous ship and then blew their chance to extend that to the cruise experience. It was little things that added up to make the cruise forgettable...the horrendous embarkation procedures, the dining room screw ups, the uninspired food, the lack of crew interaction with the passengers, children running around the ship unattended by their parents, no cream for the coffee, no water available in the rooms, no team trivia (a favorite of our group), poorly made drinks, over-priced photos, and the list goes on. On the plus side, the ship is beautiful, Adventure Dunes, rock climbing, the skating show, the Kruise Komics. We heard comments from other passengers that matched our own. And more than one person is seriously considering writing the CEO of RCCL, myself included. Would I recommend the Adventure of the Seas to anyone. Probably not. If the trend towards mega-ships continues, the cruise lines had better learn to handle large crowds better than they do now. They need to realize that the little things can make our break your cruise experience. Next year, we will not be on a Royal Caribbean ship and it will definitely not be on a mega-ship!

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Dec 9, 2001

Southern Caribbean

I'm going to go into great detail with this review, just like I did on the last one. Please keep in mind that this is the largest cruise ship in the world if my review appears too run a little long . My husband Brian and I are in our mid-thirties and this was our fifth cruise together and the second one of which I have written a review. 12/09/01 ----- San Juan, Puerto Rico We just returned to San Juan from a 7 day

cruise on Carnival Destiny so you may see me make a lot of comparisons in my review. We left the boat when our color tag was called at about 10:30. We were hoping to hang out for awhile longer since we would not be able to board Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas until 2pm. We got off the ship and took a cab to Barrachino's restaurant where we had been told by the cruise director on Carnival that they would store our luggage for a few hours (we tipped $5). That was very nice because it would have been really difficult to walk around Old San Juan with 5 pieces of luggage. The sidewalks were barely wide enough for 2 people to pass each other let alone drag luggage without it falling off the curb into traffic. Then we were at a loss for things to do. We had already explored Old San Juan the week before when we arrived in Puerto Rico. We were really tired because we had stayed up really late the night of the 8th because it was our last night on the Carnival Destiny and we had put off packing as long as possible. So we just walked around. We walked down to the gates of the governor's mansion. The street leading to the entrance gate was all decorated for Christmas and the house itself had a very large wreath and many pretty decorations as well. We were getting a little hungry so we stopped into a McDonald's to eat. Since we just got done with a 7 day cruise, we were used to eating like every 2 hours so we couldn't wait to get on the Adventure of Seas to eat! I can't remember what we ordered, but the kid working the counter didn't get it right and it was doubtful that he spoke any English. He was getting very frustrated with us and finally his supervisor who hardly spoke any English came over and straightened it out. The frustration with us for speaking English and not Spanish ticked us off a little bit. I mean we are after all still in a territory of the United States, right? Are the children in Puerto Rico not taught to speak English in School? And what happened to being polite to customers instead of getting mad at them? But hey, we could be a little crabby too from lack of sleep. After our less than satisfying lunch we walked back to Barrachino's to pick up our luggage and call a cab. The cab took us to the new Royal Caribbean terminal, which we are told is the largest and newest cruise terminal in the world. He pulled right up to a porter and gave our bags directly to him (On Carnival, we had to lug our bags with us for the 2 hours it took to get to the security point). So already we were thinking, this was great and happily we got into a line that wasn't too large and was let inside the terminal (we didn't have to wait outside at all). Once inside, we followed the crowd to many rows of chairs and this is where the process got a little confusing. There wasn't any one directing traffic so no one really knew where to go, so we all just took some seats. Then we observed a line that was moving directly to the left of the chairs. So we all got up and joined the line which promptly stopped. Another line was now forming on the right side of the chairs and now it was moving. So we weren't sure if we were where we were supposed to be or not. The other line kept moving while ours moved a little. While we waited in line, a couple of people dressed in bright orange jumpsuits came through the line cooling people off with fans and misting people down with spray bottles and being extremely funny. We found out later that they were the Royal Caribbean "Krooz Komics" who were a big highlight of the cruise we were about to take. But even with this amusing distraction our line still was not going anywhere fast. We all observed people that were just coming into the terminal get into that other line and move right on through. When we finally got close to the front row of chairs, we saw someone directing people from the other line to sit in the front row of chairs. She would then wait for the line of people she just let through to get a little smaller, then she would tell those people sitting down to get up and go through ahead of us. Then she took more people from that other line on the right of the chairs. We were all getting pretty disgusted by this and finally someone spoke up and wanted to know why our line to the left wasn't moving. She got pretty snippy saying that we weren't in the right line and blah blah blah. Well if someone would have directed us instead of just ignoring the mile long line that had formed, maybe we all wouldn't have been so upset. Finally she let us through and we never did figure out what all the rows of chairs were for. Once we got past that, the line went fairly fast to the check in counter. We got our super charge cards and were then directed to another line to talk to a supervisor. Brian had asked what the cost and possibility of a room upgrade would be and we were directed to a supervisor. There was a small line formed there and apparently we weren't the only ones that had that in mind. When we got up to her, we asked and she looked at our super charge card and said, "but you are already in a category D7 balcony room" We said we were wondering about upgrading to a suite. She said it would be $1000 more each. Oh, ok - never mind! It never hurts to try, right? So we proceeded along and boarded the wondrous Adventure of the Seas. 12/09/01 ----- Day 1 ---- Afternoon aboard the Adventure of the Seas The moment we set foot on the Adventure of the Seas, we were awestruck. Only the words "WOW" would come out of either of our mouths. And this was just within walking a few feet onto Deck 4 of the boat and looking at an elevator area and over a banister into a bar (It was the Schooner Bar, but I didn't know it then). We used the stairs to begin the journey to our room. The stairs are more spread out and not as steep as Carnival's and easier to take even up many flights. The entire ship right down to the carpeting was brand new, beautiful and cushy. Everywhere we turned, we saw a piece of artwork and this is just on the way to our room! We were surprised that artwork was even displayed on the very hallways to the cabins. There were many millions of dollars worth of art pieces and displays on this ship. Our room was located on deck 7 at the aft of the ship just down the hall from a beautiful library facility. The library was designed with dark woods and warm colors and extremely comfortable furniture. It was 3 stories with the Internet cafe on the upper floor and a sort of cruise consultant office with models ships of the Royal Caribbean fleet on the deck below. This library was open 24 hours and was very large with the most incredible selection of books written both in English and Spanish. By comparison, Carnival's libraries are open maybe an hour or two everyday and are quite small. I liked it in there a lot and always wished I could spend time in it every time I passed it to and from our room. But it seemed like we were always doing something and I didn't pick up a book during the entire cruise. When we got to our room we found that the door was propped open. It looked ready so we went in but didn't want to get comfortable just in case. I found our cabin steward Teodore down the hall and he wasn't upset that we just let ourselves in but said he wasn't quite ready. We said that was okay, and that we were going to just drop off our carry on bag and begin exploring the ship. Our exploration took a great deal of time because this boat is 140,000 tons of non stop beauty. Carnival's largest ship the Destiny that we just got off of was 101,000 tons by comparison. The attractive color scheme on this ship along the hallways to the cabins and in the cabins themselves was in mostly blues and peaches. It was SO different from any of the Carnival ships that we have been on that it is hard to describe because the differences are like night and day. At either end on The Adventure of the Seas on many of the decks, we could gaze down onto the Promenade Deck. The Promenade was a wondrous street with shops and bars and cafes running alongside complete with lamp posts. There was a restored purple and beige 1939 Citroen Roadster with leather interior in front of the Gravity Sports Bar (that was a sports bar with TV's obviously) and many little tables with chairs right outside the pubs and cafes so you could sit on the "street" and have your drink or whatever. Many of the interior cabins had windows that looked down on the promenade - so I'm sure it was like looking down on a street. I hope you can picture this from my description because it was quite amazing. We stopped at the Duck and Dog Pub, an English type pub for a Guinness. We were happy to find Royal Caribbean also had Guinness, but like Carnival, they didn't have any other beer I liked except Amstel. There was a little stairway that led from the Promenade street down to the largest casino at sea. The Casino Royale Hollywood was really nice and had a classic early Hollywood theme to it. At the entrance, there was a hole in the floor enclosed with glass that you could walk on. In the hole was Hollywood memorabilia (ruby red slippers, etc), gambling tokens, film reels, old time newspapers and stuff like that. Many of the slot machines had TV or movie related themes, like the I Dream of Jeanie, the Munsters, Pink Panther and those kind of things. The roulette wheels had pewter like tops with Marilyn Monroe on one and King Kong on another. We tried to see everything this first day, but it was just impossible. The many bars and lounges we walked through that first day were really nice. Another difference between the Adventure of the Seas and carnival was that Carnival's lounges are all like rooms off to the sides while on this ship they were so open. The bars weren't in separate rooms, but were just there when you came down or up a flight of stairs or out of the elevators. It is very hard to explain, but it made it all seem so roomy and nice because there were not many walls and doors separating areas. The Schooner Bar was probably the nicest in my opinion. It was located just outside the casino and had a sailing motif with really dark wood and boat type decorations. It smelled so good - you know - that nice wood smell. Most of the bars had no smoking sections too which was really nice. Brian's favorite, the Champagne Bar was completely non smoking and was decorated with tubes that had bubbles in it to look like champagne. At this bar you could order a bottle of champagne or wine and if you didn't finish it, they would cork it and keep it for you until another day. Then we came across Studio B which was the ice rink. It is too cool to have an ice rink on a cruise ship! And it isn't just a rink, it is a showroom with many seats. They have professional ice skaters on this cruise that put on a fantastic show. Then we found the Lyric Theater where they will have all the other shows. They have a peacock curtain on the stage that is just beautiful. The seating is just like movie theater seating is which was for us a lot better than Carnival because there are very few things to obstruct your view. They also have drink holders on the chair's arms rather than tables so there is room for a lot more seats than what Carnival has. By this time several hours had passed and we haven't even gone back to our room to see if our bags had arrived to unpack yet! On the Promenade deck, there were guys dressed like fools stopping people to talk to them. No, really they were dressed in medieval jester garb. They were from the restaurant Portofino's which is an alternative dining experience located on deck 12 that cost $20 per person. It came highly recommended by most of the reviews we had read, so we decided to make a reservation. We asked him if he knew which night that the main dining room wasn't serving anything real interesting and he said that Tuesday night was Caribbean night. That sounds like a night we wouldn't mind missing, so that was when we reserved to go to Portofino's. Next we made a quick tour of the magnificent three story dining room to check on our table assignment before heading off to explore the upper decks. There are 15 decks on the Adventure of the Seas compared to 12 on the Destiny. On deck 11 we checked out the spa and gym where we would spend a lot of time through out the week to come. Outside from the spa is the Solarium Pool area which is an adults only area. It has one pool and two large hot tubs. There was also a larger main pool area for everyone that was very large with 2 pools and 4 hot tubs (I think - don't remember for sure). Also on deck 11 we found the Island Grill and Windjammer Cafe which were the buffet style dining options on the ship. There were floor to ceiling windows looking out so it was really bright and cheery. There were more areas to get food at and though I never thought the food was quite as good as Carnival's, there was more of a selection. The tables did not have silverware settings like Carnival so we always had to remember to get silverware. We only ate here a couple of times for lunch and I will tell you why later. Can you say Johnny Rockets??? We continued up and up and found the Sky Chapel on deck 15. It was a very nice little chapel for anyone who would like to get married on the ship. There wasn't an elevator that went all the way to the top, but the stairs were set up to take people who were in wheelchairs or who couldn't walk up stairs to the top. One deck down from the Sky Chapel (deck 14) were a couple of more bars, the Blue Moon Piano - Jazz bar had floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the pool areas which were on deck 11 and the jogging track which was on deck 12 below us. On the other side of the Blue Moon is the Hole in One Bar (golfing decor) that overlooks the Sports Deck. This bar has a contraption that is enclosed in glass that has a bunch of golf balls that go through a series of pulleys and chains that depending how the ball hits goes on in whatever direction and goes through loops and other maze type things until it reaches the bottom where it starts all over again. It is really hard to describe but tons of fun to watch. Also on this deck is the High Note Piano Lounge and the Seven of Hearts Card room. This particular piano lounge was pretty much just a room with a piano in it and we missed any activity that took place here. The card room had all sorts of board games and a couple of tables to sit down and play. Then we went down to deck 13 which is the most incredible deck you would ever expect to see on a cruise ship. The Sports Deck has a basketball/volleyball court, in-line skating rink, a 9 hole miniature golf course, a golf driving simulator AND a rock climbing wall! We decided to play a game of putt golf right away. I kicked Brian's butt. We continued our tour by returning to deck 12 where we found the arcade. It was very nice and much larger than any we had seen before on previous cruises. Just outside the arcade, we found our favorite place to eat and indulge in sinfully delicious milkshakes. Johnny Rockets is a 50's style diner complete with the nickel juke boxes on the tables. The terrific old 50's - 70's rock music was blaring when we walked in and the entire staff turned to us and hollered some very cheerful "hellos". We were seated in a booth and fries and onion rings with ranch dressing were brought to the table. This is great! All the food is free but the shakes and drinks are not. But boy are they GOOD! We decided to have the shake of the day which was the Orange Creamsicle flavor and it was to die for. Brian ordered one of the many specialty burgers and I had a BLT. They were both very good and the shake filled us up to the top. We knew we would definitely be coming back to this place - and we did so every single day. It was time to head back to the room and see if the luggage was there yet. It was so we spent the next hour unpacking. The room was very roomy and only slightly smaller than the room we had on the Destiny. It was a lot nicer. The bed was an actual queen size bed, not two twins pushed together. The bedding was very pretty and the bed was decorated with throw pillows that Teodore, our cabin steward had arranged in a different way each day. There was a very comfortable couch and a little glass coffee table. The bathroom was very small but the shower was so cool! It was circular and had a shower door instead of a curtain! There was plenty of closet and drawer space and the suitcases fit under the bed. The balcony was wider than the one on the Destiny and much more private. The door to the balcony was a sliding glass door instead of a regular open and close - which the wind always seemed to grab and slam - on the Destiny. It was just a nicer room in every aspect. Also we were happy to see that the Adventure of the Seas had laundry service so we got together everything we wanted pressed and set it out. 12/09/01 ----- Day 1 ---- Early evening aboard the Adventure of the Seas Before supper, we went to the Promenade street for the World of Adventure Parade. People lined the outer edges of the street while the staff closed off the middle with a rope that they had guests hold up. Then the parade began. Our cruise director, Ken Rush and 2 singers appeared on the bridge above the street. They entertained with music while Ken announced who was coming down the street in the parade. The Krooz Komics came through on stilts dancing and waving and having a grand old time. It is amazing how good they were on those stilts! The parade had some kind of "world" theme with crew and entertainers dressed in outfits depicting different parts and sport like activities from around the world. We had never seen anything like it before and it was pretty cool. It was hard to see unless you had a view from right up front. But at least everyone got to see the Krooz Komics because they were on stilts and I thought the best part anyway. Then we headed to supper in the Mozart Dining room. There were three dining rooms making up three floors of this beautiful, gigantic and absolutely breathtaking room. Piano and cello music was played during dining from the second floor. I wish we were on a lower floor because the gorgeous chandelier was not visible from our level on the third floor. This time we got the table for two that we requested (we didn't on Carnival which was fine because we completely enjoyed visiting with our table companions) Our Waiter's name was Moses and he was from Jamaica. Our Assistant Waiter, Mustafa was from Turkey and our Head Waiter's name was Jasper from Romania. We dined at the late seating on this cruise which was at 8:30. We had the early seating on the Destiny at 5:45 so it was kind of difficult to get used to the new schedule. We wanted to try both to see which seating we liked better. They both have their pros and cons, but I personally like the earlier seating a little better because it takes so long to eat all the courses. At the earlier seating, you can be done eating by 7:15 or so and have the rest of the night ahead of you to digest. At the late seating, when we finally finished sometimes barely before 10:00, it was hard to conjure up the energy to do anything but go to bed and let the fat settle onto our bodies. We finished eating with just enough time to head back to our rooms, grab our life jackets and head to our muster station for the boat drill. This is always the crummiest part of any cruise, but it usually only lasts a few minutes. This one, however; seemed to go on longer than usual. They finally let us go after 25 minutes by announcing that we were pulling away from San Juan. I know this is a very necessary thing to do, but who likes to think of emergencies when they are on vacation?! We then headed to the casino for complementary gaming lessons. We wanted to learn how to play craps. The girl who taught us, bless her heart, was extremely patient with us and went over many things again and again. We finally grasped a very basic understanding and played for awhile. It was it was a bit more than we could concentrate on and when we finally got to a point where we broke even, we called it quits. We decided to stick to the less stressful games that we totally understand and feel more comfortable playing. I didn't note it, but Brian says we won $65 the first night. Then exhausted from this very long day we decided to return to our cabin and call it a night. 12/10/01 --- Adventure of the Seas ----- Day at Sea ------ Formal night At 7:30 we were up and off to the Ship Shape Center. It was the best fitness facility I have ever been in (which isn't very many sadly). I immediately fell in love with a machine that you step on and jog and work your arms at the same time. They had about 12 of them and I never had any problem getting one all week. After a little bit of a work out, we headed outside to the Solarium Pool. This was one of our favorite places. The pool had a couple of lion head fountains spraying a stream of water into the pool and there was also a hidden fountain that would spray lines of water on us at different intervals. We had a good time trying to figure out when the water would start again to try to avoid it. We had the pool and the entire Solarium all to ourselves for awhile. We sat in one of the two large hot tubs and then relaxed on the comfortably padded deck loungers against the floor to ceiling window that the sun was shining brilliantly through. Ahhhhh, it was so nice. The hot tubs were actually heated and hot tubs are supposed to be heated, but the Destiny's didn't seem to be. The deck was completely surrounded with windows (the area above the pool was exposed to the sun) so there were no wooden railings or anything to obstruct the view. We went to Johnny Rockets for shakes. The shake of the day was the "Elvis" - which was peanut butter and banana of course! It was excellent! We spent the day doing numerous things, mostly exploring areas we missed yesterday. Up near the bow was a peek-a-boo window where we could look in on the captain's bridge and there was also a helicopter pad at the very front of the ship. I would like to see a helicopter land there. I'm sure it couldn't be done too easily, but it would still be a cool thing to see if we weren't moving of course. In front of the pad is the bow where we did the "Titanic - King of the world" thing. That was extremely cool. It is hard to explain the feeling of the ocean spread out in front of you while this 140,000 ton ship is propelling you forward from behind you. It was such a beautiful sunny day. The wind whipped through our hair and well.... Wow. Then we explored the outer areas of some decks and found shuffleboard! Oh for fun. Brian and I played a few games making up our own rules and I kicked his behind once again. I may be no match for him in many sports but apparently I'm pretty good at miniature golf and shuffleboard! There were many activities we could have joined in on throughout the day. Royal Caribbean has the belly flop competitions and other silly things just like Carnival, but of course they also have the entire sports deck and ice rink to play on. We didn't go out there this day because we thought it would be jammed packed with people since we were not at a port. I was very happy to just play shuffleboard. We headed inside, went to the casino and played black jack on and off through out the day. Just about every time we were in the vicinity of the casino, we stopped in for a few hands. The blackjack shoes are different than any I have seen before. Carnival has 6 deck shoes and they shuffle when they come to the card they insert about 3/4 of the way through the decks. On Royal Caribbean, the dealer would insert the discarded cards after a couple of hands right back into an automated shuffling machine and I guess it shuffles randomly. This cuts down on time when the dealer would be shuffling instead of taking your money. I like seeing the dealer shuffle. Then I know all the cards are there and it is easy to set a time when to quit. Usually we would play one or two shoes. Now we had to set a definite time when to quit. We won a little over $100 through out the day. Ken, the cruise director made an announcement that there was going to be a bingo game in the Imperial Lounge for a room upgrade to an owners' suite. We don't play bingo on cruises unless we are really bored, but this sounded better than a cash prize to us. So we decided to go. The Imperial Lounge had an Japanese motif that was really cool. It cost $30 to play bingo which we thought was pretty ridiculous once we found out that the room upgrade game wasn't going to be played until later that day anyway, so we decided not to play. I wonder who won and what the room was like. That would have been awesome - but we were very happy with our balcony room. And since I didn't see the room that was given away, I don't know what we missed out on. We went to a wine tasting in the dining room. We have been to these before, but this one was a little different in that for the $6.00 fee, you get a very little cup thing on a chain to drink your wine out of. It was also supposed to be your souvenir. This was pretty silly because it was so shallow that when the waiters came around to fill it, many times it overflowed onto the tablecloth. We ate a lot of cheese and tried to listen to the speaker that was trying to educate us on the wines, but even though we really didn't get that much wine, by the time we were half way through the wines, all the tables were talking amongst themselves and having a good time. So we didn't learn anything, but it was enjoyable. We listened to the music of the Rosario Strings at the lobby Aquarium bar where I also had an awesome banana daiquiri. The band consisted of a piano, cello and a violin player. They played the prettiest relaxing melodies I have ever heard. The Aquarium Bar was a bar that had a couple of large aquariums. There were not very many fish though. We were kind of disappointed in that one because we had pictured it quite differently from what we had read about it. But THAT was no big deal. It was still a really nice and quiet bar with comfortable furniture. We had Filet Mignon at supper that night. I ordered my steak medium and it was well done. I can eat medium well, but I don't like well done too much. Moses had no problem taking it back for another one. I cut into it and it wasn't much better, but I wasn't going to complain again. I don't like being a pain in the butt so I was just going to eat it. But Moses appeared from behind me and whisked it away muttering that it was way too done! The third steak was perfect. Brian told me later that Moses was right behind me waiting for me to cut into it looking to make sure it was right. That was really nice. Moses, Mustafa and Jasper showed up with a birthday cake for Brian even though it wasn't his birthday. It had coconut in the frosting. Nummm. From here we went to the "Can't Stop the Rock" show in the Lyric Theatre. It was incredible and by far the best show we have ever seen on a cruise. There were four vocalists and lots of dancers. One girl sang "I will always love you" that gave Whitney a run for her money (of course I have always liked Dolly's version better). They sang and danced to songs from classic movies like "Where the Boys Are", "All that Jazz", "The Graduate", "Valley of the Dolls", "The Rose" and modern ones like "She's All That" The crowd gave them a standing ovation. Next we went to Jester's Night Club. This was a two story disco with a fantastic medieval motif. They were playing 80s stuff when we got there so we were like "hey cool - let's dance!" Almost immediately, the music changed to the modern dance stuff. Darn it anyway. But we danced a little bit anyway. It was fun and we felt young again for a little while anyway. We decided to call it quits and went back to our room around midnight. We slept really good with the balcony door open letting the sound of the ocean put us to sleep. 12/11/01 ----- Day 3 ----- Aruba We were up at 7am again. We went to the Solarium for a swim. I was determined to get a little bit of a work out since we did not go to the gym. I am not a very good swimmer, so it didn't take very long to wear me out. We sat in a hot tub and relaxed. Again we had the Solarium area to ourselves. The early mornings are a great time to take advantage of the solitude. We didn't notice the day before that there were shower stalls right next to the hot tubs. That was a nice thing to have. Next we went to breakfast in the Island Grill or maybe it was the Windjammer Cafe. The Adventure had their buffet style dining set up split into two restaurants. They were right next to each other and from what we could see they both served about the same buffet. I don't know why they didn't just give it one name. It was the usual buffet style breakfast, so Brian had an omelet. I had cereal, fruit, part of Brian's omelet and of course coffee. We were docked in Aruba, but we did not get off the ship. We were just there the previous Friday on the Carnival Destiny and did a terrific excursion that covered the whole island. We also bought some edam and gouda cheeses at a local grocery store that was currently being kept chilled in the fridge in our room. One of these days when we are not so full, we plan to snack on them. Like we are ever going to actually be hungry on this cruise. I would have liked to have gone snorkeling at Baby Beach since many people have said that was the best snorkeling they have ever done. Oh well, maybe next time since of course there will be a next time! We spent a few hours just relaxing on our balcony and enjoying the quiet time. We had good intentions of going up to the sports deck, but never got around to it. That day, Brian and I did something that we have never done before. We decided to pamper ourselves and get massages. We were both pretty shy about the whole thing, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. For $85, we were rubbed down and had all our stresses - which were not many - away. I didn't want the hour to end. Who would have thought that a person could be so relaxed. When it was over, the girl left me to get dressed and came back with products that she believed I needed to continue my "treatment". I didn't have a massage for continued treatments. I just wanted the treat part. It was difficult to decline the products because I was in such a relaxed state that just about everything she said to me I could only manage a nod through a euphoric daze. Brian who is so much better at turning down sales solicitations that he doesn't need than I am, came out with $100 worth of lotions. I guess he was in a deeper daze than me. The pitch that nailed him was the girl telling him that after each shower, his "wife" should rub the lotion into his back. Yeah, in your dreams buddy. The next day when we eventually came down from our relaxed state, he decided he would have rather spent that money on yet another massage. Oh well, live and learn. The rest of the day we walked around on a cloud. I don't think much of anything would have annoyed us that day. We wondered from bar to bar just relaxing and having a drink here and there. We didn't even talk that much. We would once in a while just sigh and comment on what a nice day it was. I wish I could be in that state all the time. We had a reservation for the fine Italian restaurant, Portofino's that night. There is a $20 cover charge per person to dine here. We ate a lot of food and drank a bottle of wine. We had shrimp appetizer, Caesar salads, scallops and a really good Tiramisu for dessert. It was good. We certainly wouldn't think twice about spending more than $20 off the ship in a fine restaurant and we have, but we didn't necessarily find Portofino's to be as fine as we expected or that much better than the food and presentation in our dining room. The wait staff was good, but they were very busy. There was a lot of down time between courses. But since we were still in our "relaxed state of mind from the massages" it didn't bother us too much. It was a nice dining experience and we're glad we did it. After we finally finished eating we headed to the casino, where we promptly lost $200 playing black jack - oops! We must have been a little too relaxed and not cautious enough. Then we went to the Love and Marriage Game Show in the Lyric Theatre. Ken, the cruise director picked 3 couples from the audience. One newly weds, one married for awhile and the other married the longest - 51 years. They had the spouses leave while Ken asked silly questions that the spouses that stayed on stage had to figure out what their other halves would answer. It was really funny. We enjoyed it very much. We would not have done very well with the questions they asked, like "what is the sexiest piece of clothing that your wife owns" or "where is the weirdest place you have ever - you know" We played along with each other and always had completely different answers. At 11:30, there was a deck party at the pool which we decided to check it out. It was windy and somewhat rainy and crowded by the pools, but it was quiet at the Solarium pools. We decided to get into our swimsuits and sit in a hot tub for the second time today. We could still hear the music, and it was quiet and nice. We watched our 1am departure from Aruba while sitting on our balcony and then went to bed. 12/12/01 ----- Day 4 --- Wednesday ------ Curacao On this day we slept in until 9am, grabbed a quick bite in the Island Grill and made our way back to the room to relax on the balcony with some coffee. From our balcony, we looked down upon the town of Willemstad, Curacao at the brightly colored Dutch colonial houses and shops. The Queen Juliana Bridge that connected the two sides of the town loomed largely in the background. Curacao which is the largest of the Netherlands Antilles located 39 miles off the coast of Venezuela between Aruba and Bonaire, was a beautiful port with a landscape that appeared to be similar to Aruba's. Since we had not been to Curacao before, we decided to get off the Adventure of the Seas and walk around. This was the first time we had been off the ship since we boarded on Sunday so it was the first time we saw the expanse of it. It went on forever - just amazing. We tried taking pictures with the whole ship in view and had to keep going further and further away from it. The shopping district was on the other side of the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. We started to cross it and realized that it was moving to allow a boat to pass by. When we reached the other end, we waited for the bridge to return to the land and we stepped off. We went shopping and found the stores and stands were very much the same as elsewhere, but all the touristy trinket type stuff was pretty cheap. So we bought a couple of items and I bought a hot pink short outfit for $10. If it shrinks or falls apart in the wash, I'm not out that much. Venezuelan vendors set up a fish and produce along the floating market which is along the waterside where they tie up their boats. I didn't recognize some of the produce and I definitely couldn't tell you what kind of fish we saw, but it was interesting to look at. We were going to do a trolley town tour, but the guide didn't have change for a $50 bill. I guess it would have been wiser to schedule the excursion from the ship even though it would have cost more. But we had not planned on doing this tour until we saw the trolley. We read up on both Aruba and Curacao prior to doing the cruises and came to the conclusion that they were similar. We did a fantastic excursion of Aruba on the Destiny the week before so we don't feel like we missed out on anything in Curacao. It was getting pretty warm, so we decided to head back to the ship. We went for a swim in the solarium pool, relaxed for awhile and then headed to Johnny Rockets for lunch. We had burgers and a strawberry shake. Oh, strawberry is my absolute favorite and I can't tell you enough about how good those shakes were. You are going to just have to get one yourself when you sail on this cruise ship! If the shakes aren't enough of an incentive to book this cruise, I don't know what could be. The staff at Johnny Rockets danced to "Old Time Rock and Roll" They were so much fun to watch. After leaving Johnny Rockets feeling like the blobs we were, we went to the Ship Shape Center and each did a steam. There was a steam room and a sauna in the changing rooms. But of course they were gender segregated, so Brian and I couldn't do a steam together, just at the same time. This is the first steam I had done and I liked it better than a sauna because I didn't get too hot. Later that afternoon, I had an appointment to get my hair permed. I have gotten a perm about every two years my entire life, but have never used the salon services on a cruise before. According to the booklet they had of prices, a perm for my length of hair was cheaper at $85 than what I usually pay. Since we were not spending much time off the ship at the ports, I decided to take the time and get a perm. My appointment was at 4:30 and we had tickets to see the ice show at 7:00. I didn't think my appointment would take over 2 hours since it never has in the past, but I checked ahead of time anyway to make sure my hair would be done in time for the show. The girl at the desk said there would be no problem. I was on time for my appointment, but didn't get sat in the chair until 4:45. The girl asked how I wanted my perm. I said that I usually get spiral perms, but this time I just wanted just a wave with some body to it. I told her how often I get perms and that my hair permed very easily and I never needed the solution on for the entire time. She said ok and we got started. She said she would trim my hair when we were finished to give it a lift. I said that was fine - (that's standard procedure when you get a perm besides I just had a hair cut before this vacation.) We made some small talk while she rolled my hair. I mentioned that I was happy to see that the perm prices were so reasonable, she agreed. After the solution was put in, she put me under a dryer and said the solution should stay in 20 minutes, but she would check me between 10 and 15. I said good - because I definitely didn't need 20 minutes. In the meantime, she had a couple of other appointments come in. I kept an eye on my watch. She did not come back until after 20 minutes. She said - "How are we doing?" I told her - "I'm DONE!" She took a curler out and exclaimed that yes indeed I was done. She noticed my eyes were burning from the chemicals and applied a soothing eye mask that was very nice. She put the other solution in and put me back under the dryer. She took care of more clients. I was starting to get a little worried about the time. I wasn't sure I would be done in time for the ice show. Finally she came back and we rinsed. I mentioned what time the ice show was and then she went a little faster. (I don't think she had any intention of getting me out of there before 7:30 at the rate she was taking other clients) As she was taking off the curlers, she asked me what kind of make up I wore. I told her that I have used Mary Kay all my life, that I loved it and that my sister was my consultant. She showed me a jar of some kind of brown powder. I didn't pay much attention because I wasn't interested. I wanted to get going! I knew my hair was going to be curly and it was... So much for a little body wave. But it looked good. She put in a protein thing - that isn't standard procedure for the perms I have had - and left me for a few minutes again while she worked on someone else. She came back, rinsed me and started the trim. At 6:40, Brian walked in ready to go to the ice show. I told him I was just about done. She finished my extremely poofy do and then grabbed that make up jar and did my face in 30 seconds. I looked good! I thought she had done that as something nice to do, but when she rang up my bill, I found I was charged for it! I was also charged for the protein treatment and eye mask that I didn't ask for AND the haircut! I was shocked. Never in my life have I been charged extra for a trim after a perm. She gave me a break and only charged $65 for the perm, but with all the other services including a bottle of shampoo (which I was planning to buy), the total was $140! We were really cutting it close to get to the ice show and I was in such shock that I didn't know what to say anyway, so I didn't dispute the charges. But I wish I had. I realize this has been a very long story, but I hope that anyone that reads this becomes aware to watch for the hidden charges in the salon. I felt like I was really taken advantage of. But the perm is very nice and will hopefully last a long time. We made it with just a few minutes to spare to catch the Cool Art, Hot Ice Show in the Studio B ice arena. The Krooz Komics appeared prior to the show and did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd. We sat fairly close to the ice and at times the skaters came flying almost right in our faces. It is amazing that they don't go flying over the wall at times. They went through many cool costume changes and had the neatest props on the ice. It was just like any other dance type show on a cruise, but they were on skates and were so excellent. Once again, this was yet another incredible entertainment show and the crowd gave a very loud standing ovation. After supper, we went to the celebrity show in the Lyric Theatre. We were in for a treat. A group called Rain did a wonderful tribute concert (Beatlemania style) to the Beatles. They dressed, talked and sang like the Beatles and changed costumes as they went through the Beatles chronicle of music. George Harrison had just died the week before, so it was even more special to hear this tribute band play his contributions. We then went to the casino of course and played some black jack and won $55. Then we headed over to the Promenade street to briefly view the end of the Latin Street party before going back to the room. We spent some time on the balcony and went to bed. 12/13/01 ---- Day 5 ---- Day at sea ---- Formal night We stayed in bed until 10:00am ! Aaahhh, that was so nice. Then we went to the Cafe Promenade, which is Royal Caribbean's version of the Cafe on the Way that I loved so much on the Destiny. We got a couple of cappuccinos and pastries and found seats just outside the cafe on the street where the Krooz Komics were demonstrating the art of being a clown. They gave a brief history while they put on make up. It was really interesting and for a fleeting moment I thought it would be really cool to have a career as a clown. But I don't think I could be in such a good mood all the time. From here we went back to the room and watched on CNN the video tape that was just released of Bin Laden yucking it up with an admirer. It was horrifying and chilling to watch that monster talk, laugh and praise himself. We went to the casino and played a little of everything. I won some on roulette, black jack and slots but Brian lost so much that we didn't come out ahead. We lost about $45 total that day. Oh well, you can't win all the time. HA! - no kidding. Since we got up so late and had those pastries, we skipped lunch and by mid-afternoon, we were getting hungry - but believe it or not - not hungry enough for Johnny Rockets' burgers and shakes! We were actually getting tired of eating all the time. I didn't think that was possible! There were afternoon snacks being served at the Windjammer cafe so we headed up there. There was a bunch of food there, not what I would call a light snack. We loaded up our plates with various items. Brian found strawberry crepes that were excellent so we both ate a bunch of those. Then we went out to the sports deck and watched a volley ball game being played and people climbing the rock wall. It was way too windy for my new perm to be out there playing miniature golf, so we were content to sit outside the 19th Hole Bar with a couple of bloody mary's and watch every one else be physical. The ship really rocked all day long - just as it had the last day we were on the Destiny. I guess these bigger ships aren't as stable as we thought they would be. But the movement didn't seem to bother anyone playing sports. We then continued our bar hopping and moved on to the Blue Moon bar that overlooked the pool area. An extremely drunk girl who was dancing down by the pool caught our eye and we had a great time making up conversations that she was having with her boyfriend or husband because they appeared to be arguing. She stumbled away for awhile and then came back, then he left and she left and then they both came back and seemed to eventually make up. I have a feeling they missed supper that night and woke up with headaches the next day. Then we went to the Champagne bar because I wanted to try one of the many champagne cocktail concoctions they make there. Paul and Ringo from the Beatles tribute band, Rain came in and we complemented them on their show and they responded very nicely. They sat at the bar for awhile and appeared to be having a nice time. It was getting to be time to head back to the room to get ready for supper. But for the first time ever in the history of our cruising, we decided to skip supper! Gasp! I missed steak and lobster! I know - something crazy must have come over us! But we were tiring of the two hour meals. We went to the early seating in the Lyric Theatre for the entertainment show "Behind The Velvet Rope". It was incredible and the singers and dancers were so talented that the audience gave them a standing ovation once again. After the show, we went to Jesters Nightclub for awhile. It was still pretty early and it was not very exciting there yet. We drank a couple of beers, danced one dance and left because viewing of the Gala Buffet was about to begin. The buffet was definitely on scale with Carnivals if not better. By midnight we were STARVING! (That's what we get for skipping supper!) We decided to only take pictures and not to wait in line to eat the buffet. By this time we had plenty of beer in us and no food so we went to Johnny Rockets and pigged out! Johnny Rockets has several different cheese burgers with special sauces like the Route 66, St. Louis, Old Number 12 and the Smoke House. Brian thought they were all fantastic and he recommends trying the Smoke House with Tillamook cheddar cheese, bacon, onion ring, and extra barbeque-ranch sauce. I liked the Original burger with lots of mustard and no cheese. Have I mentioned that we are sold on Johnny Rockets? The ship rocked all night, but we were so tired by the time we got back to our cabin that we went straight to bed and slept like babies rocking in a cradle. 12/14/01 ----- Day 6 ---- St. Maarten We got up about 8:30am and went to the fitness center and I did about 20 minutes on the machine I liked so much. It is getting harder to work out. I don't have the same energy level I had at the beginning of the week. I weighed myself and found that I had gained 6 pounds. I guess that isn't bad considering how much I have eaten and drank these last few weeks, but I guess that might explain my lower energy level. Also, Brian had caught a cold and wasn't feeling very well at all. He had a sore throat and an ear ache. He did a brief workout and then he did a steam thinking it would help, but I'm not sure a warm moist climate is good for a cold, but I don't know. The Adventure of the Seas is now in the port of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. This is the island of two countries - St. Maarten - Dutch and St. Martin - French. We had been to St. Maarten on a previous cruise, but had not been to the French side of St. Martin. The last time we were here, a tender had to take us since there the pier for cruise ships had not been built yet. Since then a huge pier was built for cruise ships to dock at. It is an incredibly nice pier, but it is a ways from Phillipsburg. We didn't realize how far it was and instead of paying a taxi to take us just around the corner, we decided to walk over to Phillipsburg and catch a bus to Marigot, St. Martin on the French side. Well, Phillipsburg, wasn't just around the corner and we walked about a mile before we got into town. It wasn't too hot and it wasn't a bad walk, we just were not expecting it. We read ahead of time that the most inexpensive way to go to Marigot was by bus for $1.50 per person. We could of done on of the excursions, but we wanted to see Marigot on our own so we found a bus stop and waited. We realized after about 15 vans went by that those were the buses and that we had to look in their windows for a card that read their destination and wave them down. It was not a very far distance - the whole Island is only 37 square miles – but it took about 25 minutes to get to Marigot with traffic. The most congested of the traffic was right in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Marigot was not as crowded with tourists and it was enjoyable to walk around the quaint coastal French town. We stopped at a small cafe for a thirst quenching Orangina before setting off to explore. My favorite part was the marina harbor side with all the French style restaurants on the water front. It was a picture out of a painting until it started to rain. We ducked into the Le Galleon restaurant to get out of the rain. We had to move back from our original table when it started to rain harder and blow in on us. It was a really cool rain storm that I don't think they get very often. We ordered a couple of beers and an appetizer that consisted of raw ham, white ham, and homemade (liver?) pate - it was definitely interesting and not what we usually consume. Then I had mussels with French baguettes that were excellent and Brian had a flank steak that was too rare for his tastes but he ate it anyway and said it was good. The waiter was very nice, good looking and French of course! Ooh La La - don't all us girls have those French guy fantasies? It was a very enjoyable meal and the rain had lessened a great deal when we were ready to go. We found another bus stop and went back to Phillipsburg and walked back to the ship. It started raining again when we were about half way to the ship, but we didn't care because we were already damp from earlier and we didn't mind the rain. We rested and got cleaned up when we got back to the room. From the looks of the weather outside, it seemed like it was going to rain for the rest of the day and it did on and off. We went bar hopping for a couple of hours and stopped in the casino for our daily black jack and won $60. Then we went to supper and Moses acted like he was hurt that we skipped the formal dinner the night before. We jokingly apologized over and over and said it would not happen again. He was a very funny guy who we enjoyed very much. He spent a lot of time with us talking and joking around. We had ordered a bottle of wine from our interactive television screen to have with dinner but it was not there. The system was down, but Moses took care of it right away. I had shrimp that night and Jasper, the head waiter came by and cut the tails and shells off my large butter flied shrimp. He made it a point to stop at our table every night to make sure everything was okay. The show that night was a singer/impressionist from Canada named Martin Dube who we would get to know a little better while playing Blackjack in the casino tomorrow night. He sang songs and sounded just like the original artists. I thought he was great. There were a couple we thought he shouldn't have tried, but most of his impressions were amazing - even of female singers! He did everyone from Madonna to Shania Twain from Elton John to Garth Brooks. This is the only time I got to hear country music so I was happy even if it was just a couple of phrases. Country music is one small thing I would request that cruise lines add but we are probably too small of a group to accommodate. There is a really good assortment of music like piano, jazz, calypso, guitar, top 40 dance, easy listening and especially Latino music on this cruise but no country music. I definitely liked all that they had to offer, but it would have been nice to hear my favorite type of music too. But that's just my opinion - Brian of course doesn't share it, because he is a little bit rock and roll. HA! After the show, we tried to catch the "Rockin' through the Decades" parade in on the Promenade street but it was just too crowded to see anything. But of course we saw the Krooz Komics on stilts who were just as upbeat and spectacular as ever. Later there was a "Rockin' thru the Decades" party in Studio B where they had covered the ice with a dance floor. We had already missed the 50s and 60s and had heard YMCA at least 15 times through out both of our cruises which was fun to dance to for the first 5 times or so. There were other bands in the 70s besides Village People, wasn't there? Brian was feeling pretty cruddy because of his cold, so we didn't stick around and called it an early night at midnight. 12/15/01 ---- Day 7 ---- St. Thomas It poured down rain all day long! I thought it never rained in the Caribbean like that! We think that St. Thomas got all of its average rainfall for the year that day. All the excursions were cancelled which didn't bother us because we were not planning on getting off the ship anyway. It was a bummer though because this was our last day on the cruise and we had been looking forward to swimming, playing miniature golf and maybe roller blading while most of the people were off the ship. Oh well, we had to make the best of it so we had room service breakfast on our balcony and enjoyed the sound of the rain for awhile. Then we went to workout which was really not a good idea so soon after breakfast. We should have worked out before we ate because it took everything I had to do 15 minutes on the machine because I was so sluggish. We sat in the mineral hot tub in the center of the spa for awhile, then we did a sauna and a steam. Clearly it was going to be a day for pure relaxation and doing as little as possible. Later that afternoon, we went up to the Solarium pool area and dozed on the deck chairs. It was raining hard but we were under a covered spot. Brian noticed the Solarium Bar was open so we got a Bloody Mary as we headed back to our room. Brian decided the Bloody Mary didn't have enough alcohol so he called room service. I didn't think they would deliver drinks to your room, but they did. A girl came with a tray that held two very full vodka martinis. She came in the room, knelt down and placed the tray on the coffee table. We were extremely impressed that she did not spill a drop. I would have had vodka all over the place. We got the cheese out of the fridge that we had bought in Aruba the previous Friday when we were on the Carnival Destiny, ate much of it and watched the movie, "The Mexican". It was so funny, but it could have been because of the martinis. After the movie when we were full of cheese and alcohol, we went back up to the Solarium pool and sat in a hot tub. The Adventure of the Seas left St. Thomas at 6pm and headed to San Juan. The overall mood of everyone on the ship was glum. Many had never been to St. Thomas and were very disappointed with the rainy day. We were feeling a little glum because our vacation was almost over. We went back to our cabin to get our gratuity envelopes ready for the staff that provided such wonderful service. Unlike Carnival who now automatically puts the tips on your sail and sign card, Royal Caribbean gives you the option of putting the tips on your super charge card if you want. We like to personally give each crew member their tip with a very verbal thank you for all the hard work they did for us. We then located Teodore, our cabin steward who did a fantastic job cleaning up after us and gave him his envelope. We went to the Farewell show before supper and Ken, the cruise director did his best to put everyone in a good mood again. There was a comedian and a balancing act that were part of the Welcome Aboard show that we had skipped the first night. They were excellent. The ship was really rocking again and it was incredibly amazing that the balancing guy didn't fall and break his neck! He managed to crawl up on top of a ton of various objects he placed on top of one another, including rolling cylinders and moving things like that. I held my breath the entire time. We then went to supper, handed out our tip envelopes and said good bye to Moses, Mustafa and Jasper. Then we went to the casino for our last night of gambling. Brian won a little over $70 on roulette while I lost about $25 on black jack. We were ready to call it quits when we decided to play a Pink Panther dollar slot machine. I had never played anything more than quarters so that my $20 lasts a little longer, but we decided to live a little since it was our last night. We played about $10 and won $115! We cashed out, shopped a little at the Promenade shops and went bar hopping again. Our bar tab by the way was fairly extensive with the wide array of alcohol we consumed. Finally, we decided we better get back to the room and pack. How depressing of a thought that was because I did not want to think about getting off this incredible ship in the morning. We had a really difficult time packing because for one, we didn't want to and for another the rocking motion was horrible. I actually got sick to my stomach for the first time. We managed to get everything packed and out in the hall at 12:15am. We did not fall asleep easily with the all the rocking the ship did on this last night. 12/16/01 ----- San Juan, Puerto Rico ------ Debarkation of the Adventure of the Seas Yesterday in St. Thomas, we went through immigration process while on the ship. Everyone had to do this even if they did not get off of the ship in St. Thomas because we were back in an United States port. But since we didn't get off the ship, we did it at our leisure just before the deadline and there wasn't any wait at all. It only took a couple of minutes and we were happy to be done with this the day before we debarked. The morning of debarking, we didn't have to report to a lounge at a certain time and get off the ship when our color tag was called - like we had to on all our previous Carnival cruises. All we had to do was to be out of our room by 8:30 and we had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room since we were staying in San Juan that day and in no hurry to get off the ship. Then we walked around and decided to relax in the Lyric Theatre where they had CNN on for awhile, then Animal Planet and the Travel Channel. They announced airline flight numbers for people to know when to get off the ship. I was catching up on my notes for this review when finally around 11:45, they announced that all remaining guests should debark at that time. There were no lines of people waiting to get off and when we got into the massive terminal, it was empty except for a few people and pieces of luggage here and there, so ours was extremely easy to locate. We hired a porter to load up our bags and take us to a taxi. He collected our customs card from us and commented about how busy the place was an hour before. We got into a taxi and headed to the El Convento Hotel because we were not flying back to Anchorage until the next day. We got to the hotel before check in time a little after noon, but our room was ready. The El Convento Hotel was a small luxury hotel right across from the San Juan Cathedral on Cristo Street in Old San Juan. For 250 years, it served as a convent to the Carmelite Nuns. It is really old and slightly musty, but restored very nicely. It is very comfortable and decorated with Spanish antiques, yet had all the conveniences and amenities we could possibly have wanted. We had a couple of beers and tried Puerto Rican style pizza in a cafe downstairs and then spent a couple of hours in the hot tub on the sun deck. It was very cloudy, but it did not rain on us. The clouds were nice because we didn't have to worry about burning our still pale arctic skin. We took a short nap and then headed to the lobby for complementary wine and cheese that was being offered from 6pm - 7:30pm. We called home to check on our dog whom we missed very much and he was doing fine. We took a short walk around Old San Juan and down to the Governor's mansion to see his Christmas decorations at night and headed back to the hotel. We rented a bad movie but managed to stay awake to see the Adventure of the Seas go by on its way back out to sea for its fifth official cruise. Sniff - our vacation is over. 12/17/01 ------ American Airlines ----- Flight 1777 ----- San Juan to Barrow Alaska We checked out of the El Convento hotel at 7:00 and had a light complementary breakfast there. The porter got us a taxi and loaded our bags and we headed to the airport. The lines were massive and we were happy to be flying first class thanks to travel awards. We like taking vacations and cruising, but right now, we wish we didn't have to fly to get to these destinations since our location is quite remote and the trip from San Juan to Barrow took us 24 hours. We were definitely happy to be back home with Merlin, our dog and to put and end to the transportational commute portion of our vacation. Final thoughts: The worst complaint or more of an "irritation" - that we experienced on both ships - was the population of the Spanish only speaking people on board. The people from Puerto Rico received incredible bargains for these cruises and brought whole families. It was one big party for them and many of these families acted like they were the only ones on board. Everyone deserves to have a good time, but it was very hard to move through or around large groups of people as they congregated in walk through areas. They didn't seem to care that they were always in the way of others, and they didn't understand the phrase "excuse me" or they wouldn't hear it until we said it the 3rd or 4th time because they were always talking so loudly to one another. It was a little bit of a pain at the beginning, but by the end of cruise, it was extremely annoying! It was uncommon to find ourselves on an elevator with any one who spoke English and on several of the occasions when we were with English speaking people, they commented that they were happy to be on an elevator that was not jammed with loud Latino conversation. I was relieved to know that we were not the only ones to feel this way. In closing I'm happy to say we had a wonderful time those two and a half weeks sailing back to back cruises on the Carnival Destiny and Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. They are both great cruises, but the Adventure of the Seas was just so incredible that we absolutely fell in love with the ship. It was really hard to compare the Destiny to the Adventure of the Seas because it was a brand new ship that raises the bar for all cruise lines. Due to post 9/11 cruise discounts we actually p

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Dec 9, 2001

Southern Caribbean

Since we have sailed on both the Voyager and the Explorer of the Seas, we thought that sailing on their sister ship would just be déj’a-vu; however, the Adventure of the Seas is unique due to the exquisite decor and refinement of her interiors, all enhanced by beautiful holiday decorations. This was our 22nd cruise in the past five years and our 11th on RCI, so we are Diamond members of the Crown & Anchor Society. The Adventure was built

by the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Turku, Finland and had her inaugural voyage from San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 18, 2001. She looks just like her sisters, all white with aqua/green glass on her upper decks, a blue stripe above her yellow life boats and the same awesome size which could be seen from everywhere in San Juan. Her length is 1,020 ft. and beam is 157.5 ft.; gross tonnage is 142,000 tons with a draft of only 29 ft. She has 15 decks, a cruising speed of 22 knots and a crew of 1,185 with guest capacity of 3,114, and 26 of her cabins, in various categories, are wheelchair accessible. This is not just a ship, she is the largest resort afloat! Captain Arnolf Remo (Norway) is a grand seasoned mariner, whose charm was evident at welcome aboard ceremonies, dinners and receptions. He comes from a long line of sea captains (father, grandfather and great grandfather). He graduated from the Naval Academy and Captain's School in his hometown of Alesund, Norway and he is an excellent representative of RCI who exudes competence. Most of this review will center on descriptions of this elegant new vessel; she certainly merits it. EMBARKATION Normally we sail out of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, but this itinerary and the attraction of a new ship moved us to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Through RCI we had purchased transfers from the airport to the ship, but American Airlines made us claim our luggage and accompany it personally across the street to unmarked trucks, which delivered it to the ship. Needless to say, Mary was steamed by the time she had dragged the luggage and pushed the wheelchair so far. This was an unnecessary hassle, since after checking with other cruisers, we found out that only American Airlines required passengers to first claim their bags, all other lines allowed the luggage to be transferred directly to the ship. We arrived at the port about 12:30 pm and found long lines, but as soon as Migdalia de Leon, RCI Terminal Manager, saw the wheelchair, she took us personally in hand, did our check-in and assigned a crew member to take us aboard. In less than ten minutes, we were onboard checking on our table assignment, all was in order and we were in our cabin by 1:00 pm. The welcome aboard buffet was nicely displayed, fresh and crisp looking with plenty of variety and we enjoyed it, with the help of wait staff, who were attentive. THE SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS The center for many activities is a 394 ft. long Royal Promenade, located on Deck 5, between the front and aft Centrums. It is reminiscent of a quaint European town. This four deck high mall area hosts the Captain's Champagne Reception as well as carnival like parades with street jugglers, dancers, jesters, etc. Passengers may stroll, shop, or sit at the Duck & Dog Pub, or in the Sports Bar with a cold brew, while their children help themselves to ice cream, cookies, pizza or sandwiches at the Café Promenade, where Seattle's Best coffee and tea are always available. In the aft Centrum starboard are located the Guest Relations and Explorations Desks, while on the port side is the Champagne Bar (with two sculptures by the American artist Helaine Blumenfeld: "Cleopatra" and "Frieze"). This Centrum is dominated by a four deck tall art work entitled "The Dive" by Lawrence P. Kirkland (America): depicting a diver's view when looking up from the sea bottom; the blue and silver tubes represent a school of silvery fish once seen at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA. To us it looked like a water spout or tornado funnel. Very interesting, especially since it is a big improvement over the less inspiring art work in the Centrums of the Explorer of the Seas. Another attraction of the Royal Promenade is the 1939 Citroen Roadster (purple and beige with roll and tuck leather interior and rumble seat) restored by Bent Bowitz (Norway). Deck 2 forward has the Entertainment Complex, Conference Center and La Marquis with screening room -- plus cabins. Deck 3 forward has the Lyric Theatre, where live performances are held every evening, and the Entertainment Complex featuring Studio B, a two deck high skating rink and a Hi-Tech multipurpose TV Studio. Also here is the entrance to the Jester's Club (a disco for 18 and over) marvelously decorated with beautiful stained glass and gothic heraldic furnishings. On Deck 3 aft is found the Vivaldi Dining Room, the first floor of the three tier restaurant connected by a grand staircase and elegantly lit by the opulent central Crystal Chandelier (very impressive after the missing chandelier on the Explorer). Deck 4 forward has the second level of the Lyric Theatre with its beautiful Peacock Curtain in blue and green with shimmering lights. Toward aft is the Schooner Bar with the characteristic odor of old ships' ropes, and four huge portholes overlooking the starboard side outdoor promenade; on the opposite side are four matching porthole shaped artistic compositions with nautical collages titled "Romance At Sea" by Janice Ebbing (Norway) utilizing ropes, textiles, sails and ceramic figures, very nice! The upper deck entrance to Jester's is flanked by two cannons, miniaturized replicas of 19th century maritime artillery, "La Joelette" and the "Brillante," with two description plates erroneously switched, but very interesting anyway. There is also a model of the "Kalmar Nyckel," Capt. Peter Minuit's ship; Minuet is famous for purchasing Manhattan from the Indians for 60 Dutch guilders ($24.) Farther along aft is the Casino Royale, which RCI claims is the largest afloat. This Las Vegas style Casino has a glitzy Hollywood Theme that enticed us into making our usual donation. Next is the Aquarium Bar with fishes swimming in and out of its walls of coral formations. However, the aquariums on this ship were not as well stocked with aquatic life as those on the Explorer. Still though watching them relaxes the pulse and brings down the blood pressure. Aft on Deck 4 is the middle level of the restaurant, the Strauss Dining Room: Each level has 12 large, elegant round crystal lights and numerous other crystal lights on poles evoking an Austrian theme. Deck 5 has the Royal Promenade and forward is the Imperial Lounge with a Chinese motif. Bronze like lions guard the entrance flanked by huge Chinese porcelain vases from Wah Tung China Ltd. Copies of paintings of "Chinese Warriors" and "Yunan Chinese Beauties" are on all four walls interspersed with huge floral panels. Most notable in this lounge entrance are two exact copies of the Terra Cotta Guards from the burial site of Chinese Emperor Qin, famous for the unification of China and initiating construction of the Great Wall (2nd century B.C.). In this archeological site have been found about 50,000 terra cotta warriors surrounding the Emperor's tomb. To go to the elusive prow of the ship and the outdoor observation deck, take the starboard exit door either from this lounge or from the adjacent Connoisseur's Club (cigar smoking atmosphere and lots of leather seating). On Deck 5 aft is the Mozart Dining Room, the top tier of the Restaurant. It is a truly glorious sight looking down from the laurel and ribbon festooned balconies. At the entrance of each dining room are two glass cases displaying 18th century costumes designed for "The Virtuosos" by Patrizia Zappaterra (Italy); these are masterpieces of needle work and quite stunning. Deck 6 is mostly cabins. The Business Services area, adorned with several models of RCI ships, is between the aft stairways, facing the Centrum and the Royal Promenade. Deck 7 is mostly cabins. Facing the aft Centrum and the Royal Promenade is the library (well stocked). Deck 8 is mostly cabins and "RC On Line" with 19 internet stations (IBM). Vincent accessed his e-mail for only $5.00 -- not bad. Deck 9 is almost all cabins and the Concierge Club, most capably managed by Marise Gagnon: She made many things simple for us. Deck 10 has suites and Superior Staterooms. The views from the two Centrum Balconies are really nice from up here. Suspended in the aft Centrum is Austdahl's (Norway) "Free Sculpture of the Solar System" which is light and space evoking, but try as we may, we never saw the ninth planet. You must see this. Suspended in the forward Centrum is a sort of wooden helix or something, a modern sculpture, uninteresting to us. Deck 11 has the Fitness Center & Spa, the Solarium Pool (sea water), Whirlpools and Bar. In the morning, between 8 am and 9 am this is deserted and wonderfully peaceful. The Venetian Theme in this area is carried out with 15 bronze murals "Scenes of Venetian Life" by Gianni Arico (Italy) and three larger than life bronze figures titled "Meeting at the Redotto," by Philip Jackson (America). The beauty of this area is enhanced by laurel and boxwood topiaries, while two giant Gondoliers survey it all from above. Next is the Portofino, an upscale restaurant, the Windjammer Cafe and the Island Grill. Deck 12 has the Spa, Club Ocean, Video Arcade, Johnny Rockets (50's style diner), Adventure Beach and the Jogging track. Deck 13 has Rock Climbing, a full size basketball court, Adventure Dunes Golf and in-line skating. Deck 14 has the Viking Crown Lounge which is divided into Crow's Nest, Blue Note Jazz Club and the 19th Hole Sports Bar. On the port side there are the Seven Hearts game room and the Cloud Nine Lounge. Deck 15 has the Skylight Chapel which can accommodate 60 people and this is the highest point on the ship. There is a stained glass skylight and the Chapel can be accessed by the handicapped through a special motorized chair lift. The Adventure of the Seas is truly a destination in itself considering all it has to offer in activities. FOOD AND SERVICE Hotel Director Martin Rissley oversees the service aboard, which is top notch. Martin is friendly and extremely competent. He took time to answer our questions and supplied us with many interesting bits of information. Chief Purser Michelle McGregor was efficient and very helpful. Gary Davies and Bob Tavadia are the nexus of the RCI Start-up Team for new ships coming on line and they are superb (more about Gary later). This ship runs like a well oiled machine considering she is so new. . . . smooth sailing! Executive Chef is Helga Finnsdottir, unfortunately we did not speak to her personally, but her food spoke for her. We found the food good with flashes of excellent. The menu is eclectic with something to please everyone (Prime rib and salads were superb). Our waiters in the Mozart Dining Room were very efficient and friendly: Waiter Cengiz Coskus (Turkey), Asst. Waiter Cyrus Engineer (India). The Head Waiter Juan Gay-Frontal (Spain) was a kindly gentleman with whom we enjoyed conversing. By far, the best dessert was the Warm Chocolate Cake served with slices of pears on a lake of melted chocolate. We dined at the Portofino ($20 per person). The service was first rate under Manager Alex Listuzzi. We felt the appetizers were good and the bread not so good (fresh breadsticks and crispy Italian or French bread would be better). The Risotto with prawns was excellent and the sole was wonderful (a huge fish served table side, light and succulent). However, RCI needs an Italian Chef if it wants to serve true Italian specialties. The Cacciucco Livornese tasted more like a cabbage soup than a fish stew. Especially at the Portofino, meals should be prepared with authentic Italian recipes, otherwise change the names on the menu. In addition, in such a small restaurant the pastas should be cooked to order, not parboiled without salt and held until served. These simple changes could result in a truly exceptional restaurant, as exceptional as their desserts, such as the Tiramisu and Zabaione with wild berries. Our expectation for Italian food is quite high, since as Italians we have traveled throughout Italy from top to bottom and know the various regional cuisines; there is no surprise that we were disappointed again at the Portofino as we were a year ago on the Explorer. We found Johnny Rockets to be a great trip down memory lane. The 50's atmosphere was created by red vinyl booths and stainless steel everywhere: juke box music, peppy service and line dancing by the servers ("YMCA" and "Staying Alive") added a fun atmosphere. They serve the best hamburgers on board (try the St. Louis with bacon, Swiss cheese, sautéed onions and pickles, or a mega caloric "Shake of the Day" like the "Elvis" made with peanut butter, bananas, vanilla ice cream, soda and a cup of whipped cream on top, "Don't Be Cruel!"). The Asst. Manager Stefania Murariu (Romania) keeps the staff hopping and our waiter Pablo Antunez (Spain via Uruguay) made our three visits there fun. Thanks! We found Room Service excellent. We ordered a full breakfast every morning with omelets, bacon, hash browns, rolls, juice and coffee. It was always on time and hot. There is good food all over this ship and ice cream machines on the Royal Promenade and at the Windjammer. Our most memorable meal was at Captain Remo's table with his lovely wife Tove and their son Fredrik and friends; the company was great and the food delizioso. CABIN We had booked Cabin #7600 wheelchair access with balcony and it was spacious and airy, but we were only in it for an hour or so when Chief Purser Gary Davies called to welcome us aboard. He gave us an upgrade to an owner's suite, "The Himalayan," on Deck 10 (these suites are all named after famous mountains). This was the first upgrade we ever had in 22 cruises; thanks to Gary we spent a fabulous week. This suite has a separate bedroom with a king size bed, five mirrored armoires and a vanity/desk. The full living room has a gold sectional sofa, two chairs and oversized coffee table, a dining area with a glass table and a full bar with refrigerator, not to mention the 48" flat screen swivel TV; the balcony has a mosaic table, two chairs and chaise lounge. The bathroom had green granite counters (as did the rest of the suite), two sinks, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, bidet and mosaics on the wall and floor. The color scheme is maroon, beige and gold with oak wood all around. If this is how the other half lives, then there is no problem in acclimating. Our cabin stewardess was Amelia and she was stupendous. Needless to say this became one of our best cruises. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Ken Rush was a welcome sight, we had cruised with him before and enjoy his friendliness and natural warmth. The Director sets the tone for the passengers and he made us want to experience every show aboard. We felt the highlight of the cruise was Studio B's "Cool Art, Hot Ice" show. The international skating cast was "Olympic Class" and Emmanuelle Balmori (Canada) did breathtaking aerial routines to standing ovations. The shows in the Lyric Theatre were entertaining and we especially enjoyed Tressa Thomas; she has a beautiful voice and wowed the audience. If you get a chance, sit in the Duck and Dog Pub and listen to Pete Wickersham (guitar and vocal). You'll enjoy him. There are plenty of activities aboard from Bingo to Art Auctions and many different levels of entertainment for the young: Aquanauts ACTIVITIES AND PORTS Depart San Juan, Puerto Rico Sunday 10:30 pm. ORANJESTAD, ARUBA, Tuesday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm. We took the Town and Country Tour ($32) which is a bus drive through the capital with stops at the Casibari Rock Formations, The Natural Bridge etc., very nice. Also available are Snorkeling Tours ($37), Atlantis Submarine ($79) and Sea and Island ($48). WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO, Wednesday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm. There is a Willemstad Trolley Tour ($28) which is a nice way to see this new, for us, port. There is also a Discover Curacao Hato Caves ($36) with stalagmites, etc. and a Canoe Safari ($60). PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN, Friday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm. There is an Island Tour ($21) an America's Cup Regatta ($78), a Snorkel Tour ($35) and other physical activities like biking. CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS, USVI, Saturday arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm. We have been here so many times that we do it on our own; however, there are good tours like the Sail and Snorkel ($46) and the Kon Tiki Party Raft ($34) Don't forget Mr. Tablecloth, Mary's favorite store with great bargains. SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, Sunday arrive 8 am. We took the Old and New San Juan Tour ($23) We started from the port and our luggage was brought with us and we were left off at the airport at noon. We had a nice guide, Alex, who was informative. We spent time at Fort San Cristobal (by wheelchair). There is a steep entrance going up to the fort, but it was all down hill from there. Interesting. We had booked the El Yunque Rain Forest Tour ($28) but had to cancel it due to a change in the airline schedule. . . next time! SUGGESTIONS Although we had a great cruise on this beautiful vessel, we can think of a few suggestions to further improve it, aiming for perfection. A strong chlorine odor is present in the water and ice cubes in the dining rooms and cabins. It is recommended that purifying filters be used at the serving stations for drinking water and ice makers. There are very effective and inexpensive filtering systems which can be utilized by RCI. If RCI wants to maintain the Portofino as an Italian style restaurant on some of its ships, it should redesign the recipes on the menu to better reflect true Italian taste. Now that RCI may merge with Princess, it will be possible to share information between the two lines, and RCI may learn from Princess something good about Italian cuisine. Princess has some great Italian chefs. We know Executive Chef Antonio Cereda, who does marvels with Italian dishes and bread. We had the fortune of meeting him on the Grand Princess and the Golden Princess and we loved his pasta sauces. RCI should try to arrange with American Airlines a better direct transfer of luggage from San Juan Airport to the ship without involving passengers. At the airport the RCI staff gave us contradicting information regarding the retrieval of the luggage and inadequate wheelchair assistance. There is a definite need for improvement in airport transfer assistance. Overall, this was a great cruise on a new ship. We enjoy sailing with RCI and seeing old friends while making new ones! In fact we enjoy new ships so much that we are sailing on Carnival Pride's inaugural cruise, December 30, 2001. Look for our next review early in 2002. Happy Holidays!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

First let me tell you how many people on our cruise had read all the cruise reviews on this site! I printed them out so I wouldn't forget. Okay, well, this is my first Royal Caribbean cruise line cruise, the others had been Carnival. WOW! I can't ever go back to Carnival after this! 99.9% better on almost everything than carnival. The staff was GREAT, the food was great, the decor was really tasteful, not the cheap cheesy sort of decor

on the other ships. We didn't even have that "boat moving" feeling after we got off, because there was hardly any ship movement. This was especially amazing because our cruise was the week prior to Hurricane Katrina, so the captain seemed to navigate us back and forth out of the cloud cover for optimum sun on the deck. The previous cruise people didn't debark on time so we arrived at 2pm and had to wait in almost entirely direct sunlight for 1 1/2 hours to get on. Our first photo looks like we are wet rats! The bed was more comfortable and I took advice of other cruisereviewer and got the down feather extra pillows for the room. There are no samples of toiletries or robes, so be sure to bring your own. The "shampoo plus" in the shower looked weird, and no body wash. The towels for the room were qty 2, at 2 ft X 3 ft. Not great for 2 people with hair, had to get a couple extras. The water pressure was more of a fast drip, which made showers a little annoying and there is no such thing as a cool shower, you can only take a "pretty warm" to "very warm" shower. There were only a couple things that Carnival did better; the beach towels on RCCL were sort of beige, 3X4 foot Motel 6 type towels. Really hard to use as a beach towel or out by the pool. Also the fire drill is not optional, they were marking doors of rooms of people who tried not to go. At 8:30 pm after a long day of travel they did the fire drill, first day, 1/2 the boat had been asleep! Carnival waits a day. The first and third nights there are HUGE parties on the top level starting at night going till like 2AM with a food buffet and super fun, bring your video camera. GREAT activities and laughter at these. The dinners were excellent, even the "top sirloin" substitute is GREAT, there was not one thing we didn't like. Prime Rib especially good, A+++. The breakfasts at the buffet restaurant "windjammer" were pretty good, scrambled eggs a little odd, but in general, great, and again, GREAT service. I do wish we'd have done the dining room breakfast more than one morning, when we did that was MUCH better. The lunches in the same room were pretty good with daily theme changes. The part we didn't know right away is that if you pass the regular buffet and go to the back, that's where the hot dogs, pizza and burgers and more variety is located. The burgers were mediocre. They were sort of cold and no hot cheese, just slices available. We did the onboard "Johnny Rockets" the last day and the burgers were the best I ever tasted, they give you fries and Onion Rings and dip and only charge you for shakes/malts and special drinks. The coolest thing we loved was the adult pool. They have REALLY comfy padded chairs and it's a genuine ADULT pool, they actually monitor it unlike Carnival. The pool was a good temperature too. The jacuzzis were huge and semi private too, not like the fish bowls on carnival. We did Curacao the first day, the "Fun Bus" excursion wasn't exactly as represented, there is no swimming, it's all lava rock and coral and they will happily sell you snorkel gear for an additional fee. Not many people were happy about it. Small beach, rocky corral beach, hard to walk. Apparently this stop is sort of "in progress" as far as being a true resort stop, but maybe we didn't do the right excursion. Next stop Aruba, took a $1 cab to the Hyatt and swam there. Did find out you can rent rafts, chairs etc, but the ones there are numbered and reserved for others. We went back to the little town and shopped and had food and drinks at Iguana Joe's and looked over the traffic and shoppers. VERY friendly people there. After dinner on the ship we went back out to Carlos and Charlies which was nearby and really fun. Next day at Sea and then St. Marteen. Our fun rum boat tour was cancelled last minute and we couldn't get on another one in short notice. We found the little town and went shopping, bought a pretty ring and shirts. They will barter and deal, so walk away when you need to... We found Mango something restaurant on Orient Beach for lunch and then walked down a few more stores to La Playa restaurant to the Coldest "Carib" beer (sort of like Corona) and more people watching. We were a tad sunburned from the day before so we couldn't swim in the gorgeous beaches there. Also, note BRING ALOE, pure, clear aloe, not the green stuff. It kept us from peeling and not hurting and healing fast. Okay, so on to St. Thomas. Our friends did the excursion to Trunk bay in St. John through RCCL for $50 each. We thought we'd do it ourselves to save money. The cab there was $20 for both of us, but we got to REALLY see the pretty roads and pretty vegetation. THEN you pay $6 each round trip for the water ferry. So far 1 1/2 hours since we left the ship. THEN you get there and need to take another cab to trunk bay, $5 each. GORGEOUS. This is truly the prettiest beach in the world. It is like a postcard. Then of course it was $7 each for a chair and $5 each for snorkel equipment. (snorkel equipment was included in RCCL excursion). The snorkeling was amazing, fish that were in the millions, little minnow type things and just incredibly colorful tropical fish. The water is like it is in the Caymans, clear, buoyant, soft white sand. They had a fun little hut for cold Heineken beer too. Great facilities for showering and changing too. Okay, so back to taxi which somehow went to $11 from $10, and back to the town to shop. Took the water taxi back and discovered that the taxis' that were available to go back towards the ship are now $2 per person, but it's like a bus with stops, you need to know where you are going or get help. We took it "downtown" and shopped some more. Found a fun bar called "Bobby's Place" and had more cold beer and Crippling wonderful Mai Tai's. Taxi back to ship $8 more. So, all in all, to do it ourselves was $75, but we saw more sights and had more freedom to stay as long as we wanted or wander off and shop. Downside, you REALLY get a little nervous being so far from the ship and doing the "trains planes and automobiles" thing. We would love to go back just to St. John, it was gorgeous and more friendly people. The debarking was a big mess, took another 1 1/2 hours to get off, with lines in the heat, even after our number was called. We traditionally are wine drinkers with dinner etc, and felt that their "wine" package deal and variety was pretty bad and obscenely overpriced. Kendall Jackson $42 per bottle, ($7.99 at Costco), Stone Cellers $23 per bottle, ($9.99 for two bottles at market). No nail polish remover permitted or sold on ship. (flamable) Photos were $20 each, not $10 or $12 like on Carnival. No Laundry on board or ironing boards, and their service is obscenely overpriced. ($30 for like 5 pieces for us, $1.20 per pair of undies). Remember cell chargers, cell phones work in US ports, (San Juan, St. Marteen, St. Thomas, St John) The internet room has lots of computers but only 1/2 of them worked and they were INCREDIBLY slow. Bring hats and water cameras. The ice shows were only Tuesday and Friday, and we were sad we missed them both. The other shows are only one per night, and they change, so don't miss one night. We had noisy kids in the next room (unaccompanied teenagers) and RCCL quickly handled it with their parents and upgraded us to a different room. Room Service eggs were pretty nasty, brown and cold, stick with the restaurants. And this ship was unique in that you actually met and chatted regularly with the maitre d', he seemed to genuinely care and remember your names. The whole thing, the overall trip, I can't speak highly enough, just super people. We did not see any of the "local" cheap tickets people referenced in previous posting. The ship did seem to have guests from all over, France, Germany, all parts of the US, (but mostly New Yorkers) and many people from countries we didn't know, sort of Jamaica or Haiti. EVERYONE was friendly and pleasant. The kids seem to have a great place to play, but for us without kids on the cruise, they were not running troops of little indians chanting through the adult pool as they did on Carnival. VERY nice.

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By Kate_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Oh my gosh, I am missing the cruise so much! There were activities to please any and everyone! The dining service was fabulous, we grew very close to our friendly waiters! The food was great too, considering they put out 30,000 meals. Whoa! Then there is Richard Spacey, the cruise director. He made the entertainment department! He was always dancing, making jokes, just making me laugh. When you were around him, it just made you smile,

because he was so funny! He was everywhere too! I swear he never sat down! He charmed everyone with his British humor and quick wit! The next cruise director who I have certainly has some big shoes to follow! Hopefully, maybe I will have him again. Then, the people on the cruise. They were so nice. Always smiling, saying hi, I met some very nice people on the cruise. The excursions were great too! I snorkeled which was fun, although they gave poor directions on how to. Then there was swimming with the dolphins. That was an all time fabulous, never forget memory! Excursions were great! Overall, my cruise was fabulous, A+++! Thanks RCI staff for making it so great!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

The cruise was overall the fine experience we have come to expect on RCCL. While the ship is showing her age in some respects (a little wear and tear on upholstery and carpets), she is being kept up/clean/polished/painted. Had I not had previous experience on ships in service 1-4 years I would have found her in very good condition. Everything was cleaned quietly and an efficiently. The staff was marvelous. Casey Pelter is the current cruise director.

We had sailed with him on the Navigator a couple years ago and he was great then and has improved since. Delightfully whitty and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, for all he is serious about his job helping us enjoy our cruise. The cabins were as we experienced previously on Voyager class ships. The bedding was lovely and still appeared very new. The quality of the food was not what I had come to expect. It was still very good but seemed somehow to be a bit . . . less. Not quantity. Just small things: The shrimp was a bit tough (overcooked). Salad dressing choices in the dining room were limited to blue cheese and thousand island on all nights a tossed salad was available--I am sure I could have requested something else but where was a basic vinegrette? Ranch? Is blue cheese really everyone's favorite? Pasta dishes I enjoyed previously were gone and their replacements were not to my taste. Lobster is still available but smaller--they do bring seconds, thirds, etc. by request. Salad station at lunch was amazing--could have lived on that all week (lots and lots of dressing choices, shrimp, chicken, beef, 5 different choices of greens, every vegetable you can name, eggs, cheese, all the crunchy stuff) in addition to a luncheon menu and entre and soup of the day. The beef dishes were flavorful and tender, and portions generous (filet, prime rib, sirloin). Having said that--I am comparing to previous cruises and finding fault. Our future son-in-law was on his first cruise, had no basis for comparison, and thought he had died and gone to heaven. Our stateroom was lovely, the balcony clean, and our attendent, Mario was quietly efficient and coped with a lot of sand during our week['s stay. The bedding was beautiful and comfortable. The balcony is on our must have list and this year we enjoyed it a lot (no smokers alongside or below!) Our interior room was comfortable and roomy enough for the showering and sleeping, which were all that we cared to do there. A pipe in the hallway wall of this stateroom did break during our week on board. Water on the entire ship was turned off to remedy this--this took place twice and at a time the ship was nearly empty during two port days and did not inconvenience many guests--at least not us. Unfortunately the room flooded--RCCL staff did a bang up job trying to vacuum up the water, but it returned as fast as it left. The carpeting stayed wet and we were grateful this was the "man's room" as they weren't as repelled by this as myself and my daughters were. The ship was full and this room was their option unless we wanted two more bodies in our "girl room" (which was a quad)--but we did not! We laughed until we cried at the Quest. Casey does this game better than any director we have seen try it. We personally were in a great group, and my daughter and future SIL were the leaders and had a marvelous time. The love and marriage gameshow was a laugh a minute, giving cruise director Casey another place to shine. We had felt the the production shows in the past were getting "tired" and similar to each other, but this year we saw a dance (dancing with the stars type) review show that may be the best show we have seen on a ship. The comedians were a riot and it made our cruise when husband ended up on stage assisting a physical comedian/juggler in his act (comedian was again someone fresh to us and riotously funny). Mosaic (a capella singing group) was really good as well. We danced in the street to the 70's beat--all the activities staff shone on that one. The ice show was new also and a really nice time. The crew talent show was delightful, with the highlight being a living fountain act put on by the activities staff which had us all laughing our heads off. We booked a taxi (bullytaxi) in Aruba. He took five of us EVERYWHERE for $40 an hour, ended our tour at Palm beach and returned for later return to the ship. It was wonderful and we got really great pictures. The kids went over to Eagle beach and jetskied (New Guy on the Beach Kiosk). New machines, reasonable price, nice helpers, and not super picky about the 1/2 hour rental time. In Curacao we booked a "world of water" tour with Actief on the recommendation of others. It was all day. We were at many marvelous attractions alone--lots of amazing sights, including an ocean cave, blow whole, natural spa tub (with blow hole adjacent), a sea turtle cove, and snorkel site which we also had to ourselves. They had new land rovers with open backs and padded seats. Also provided a wonderful lunch. The guide was Howard and this was our favorite island, favorite tour, from ALL our cruises. This turned out to be a private tour for just our family. St. Maarten we tried to rides horses (too windy--wind surfers spook the animals) went to Orient Beach (again, too windy) Our favorite thing there was the beach by Phillipsburg which was still that day, and the ferry was $6 per person, round trip, unlimited to and from the ship. It isn't the best beach, but on a windy, intermittantly rainy day it was an excellent choice. On St. Thomas we booked a sailing yacht, the Simplicity and had an entire day of looking for secluded bays to swim, snorkel, and beach comb on adjacent islands. The captain was competent and personable, the First mate had a degree in Marine Science and both of them made the day memorable, including providing a fruit and crescent tray for breakfast and a grilled chicken luncheon. Great snorkeling in spite of the high winds again that day. This turned out to be a private tour for our family as well, the yacht accommodates 6 guests and there are five of us. Back in San Juan we took a rain forest tour for people with later flights. We got into port late, took a while in customs, and started the tour late (it should have been cancelled). The guide drove between 19-22 mph to the rainforest (the second major delay). We got about 10 minutes there before we had to insist on being returned to the airport where we had time to check our bags, clear security, and be the LAST people to board our flight. This was booked through RCCL. 12 of the 16 people on this tour had 4 p.m. flights and it was an adventure in aggravation. Never again. This may be our favorite itinery yet, in spite of the really long flight from Minnesota to San Juan. Curacao is breathtaking. The natural beauty there was unexpected after the dessert condition of Aruba. We are told this is their green season, and a warm rain in the afternoon (we were snorkeling by then and didn't mind) rinsed any dust off the flora. The harbor town was gorgeous with fantastic views from the harbor bridge and quaint and beautiful architecture. The beaches of Aruba were wonderful and that was probably more fun than a tour, and luckily we were able to do both. St. Maarten was a lot of fun in spite of the disappointments provided by the weather. St. Thomas was pretty, but again high winds limited our experience there. We shopped briefly in all four ports--the young and in love couple was on the hunt for a quality T-shirt and a Christmas tree ornament in each port. St. Maarten probably had the best shopping, although the native style market in Aruba was really a lot of fun, and the Aruban merchants were low key and not pushy. I would return to any of these islands in a heart beat and we would all sail on the AOS again given the opportunity. In spite of a few bumps the overall experience was overwhelmingly positive, and averaged with all our other great experiences on RCCL we remain satisfied and loyal customers.

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