Introduction 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I asked our driver, Richard, a native of Aruba, what was the
local buzz with regards to the Natalee Holloway disappearance
exactly two years ago. He echoed the popular stateside belief that
Urine (excuse my spelling)van der Sloot, knows exactly what
happened to her and that his judge wanna-be father, had the
necessary legal connections to put in the fix with the local
authorities. Aruba now has its own O.J. celebrity. Urine has
changed his story on the evening's events at least eight times.
Book him Danno...murder one!!! Richard drove us past the beach next
to Natalee's hotel where Urine supposedly left her relaxing on the
beach at 3 a.m. Gag me with a Smurf, somebody get a rope for this
guy, his father and the Kalpo brother accomplices!
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
Kapitan 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,
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. (It's the bar where Urine
van der Sloot picked up Natalee and where she was last seen alive.)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
I realize this review may read like an ad for the Adventure of
the Seas and Royal Caribbean. I don't care. Almost every word of
this review is true and Joanne and I savor the anticipation leading
up to our vacations nearly as much as the actual cruise. I write
these reviews so you, and me, can enjoy them after the fact. I am
basically a positive, optimistic sort of guy that women mistake for
George Clooney. On past cruises, we've been chased by category-four
hurricanes, sailed through twenty-five foot seas and have had the
waiter serve the steak over-done. While the steak was fixed, I just
love the experience of being at sea with its unpredictability and
spirit of adventure.
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
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 ships'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@example.com