FIRST OFF: I don't know why people start out reviews talking
about their flight, cab right to the hotel, hotel they stayed, San
Juan night life, and so on. YOU DON'T CARE.
EMBARKATION: I read a particular review before my cruise
suggesting one use on-line checkin to speed up embarkation and it
was EXCELLENT advice. Via online registration, you can enter nearly
all necessary data rather than wait in line for some clerk who can
barely type. At the pier you go right to the "Set Sail" line and
breeze through in minutes, and that gets you on the ship much
In general the earlier you arrive at the pier the better you are
going to be. If you arrive in morning you will likely have to wait
as passengers are still disembarking. But the sooner you arrive
after 12:00 the better off you will be. Less people are there
registering, and the sooner you can board ship. Remember, it's only
a '7 day cruise' if you can enjoy the ship on your first day.
It's a good idea to fly in the day before and stay at a local
While San Juan hotels are expensive, you can relieve your mind of
the travel woes of bad weather delaying flights. No matter what
happens the day before, as long as you arrive, you'll be rested and
ready to cruise on Sunday. And if you waste all Sunday flying into
San Juan you may arrive late and miss the cruise.
BAGGAGE TRANSFER: Baggage transfers are a hornets nest which
people don't get until they've cruised a few times. Prior to THIS
cruise we cruised a couple of times out of San Juan, and if you
allow RCCL to handle your bags you stand a good chance of having
trouble. Specifically, I'm talking about breaking into your bags
and perhaps even theft. Locking your bags provides no guarantee
they won't be broken into, and in fact, they will cut your locks
off and pilfer your bags.
If you get the transfers from RCCL your baggage is handled NOT
by RCCL but by a 3rd party cartage company in San Juan, hired by
RCCL. So if you complain to RCCL you get blank stares and hollow
apologies, but no resolution. Since your baggage contains your
personal items, breaking into them is akin to breaking into your
house - you feel VIOLATED. RCCL can do nothing about a a 3rd party
cartage company even though they hire them, because cruise lines
don't care. The only people who do are the ones working for tips
My advice is to skip the transfer and handle that yourself. It's
a $19.00 cab fare from the airport to the pier and that fee is set
by the government. Just put your bags in the trunk and go. You know
your bags are safe and you leave at your convenience, NOT the
convenience of a bus driver.
When you pay for transfers you travel on a bus (your bags by
truck) and we've been stuck waiting over an hour once by a bus
driver that had to fill his bus. As a result on that prior cruise
we arrived late for checkin and couldn't make our 6:00 main dinner
seating. When we arrived at 6:30 the doors were already closed and
there was no entry. No bags and no dinner. Bad start.
On this cruise we did in fact skip the transfers, arrived 2 days
early, and enjoyed both our hotel and San Juan. It was a short cab
ride over to the pier and we arrived by noon with bags intact.
After that we refused to allow RCCL to handle our bags and
transported them ourselves. As soon as they allowed us into our
cabin (at about 2:00 PM) we arrived with our bags.
If you let them handle your bags they can arrive many hours
later and you probably won't have them before dinner. Sometimes
they just disappear without explanation, and when you talk to guest
relations you get this crap about "your bags will arrive soon". Oh
yeah? One year they didn't arrive until after 11:00 PM, we couldn't
change clothes for dinner, and our bags were broken into with the
locks cut off. This is for real.
We NEVER, EVER allow the cruise line to handle our bags. This
we've learned the hard way after 5 cruises. And DO NOT bring large
bags because they cannot get through the x-ray machines. Bring
medium and/or small bags.
THE SHIP: Adventure is huge. I've been on several other ships
and this one was by far the biggest. It's been very tastefully
decorated, far more so than Carnival ships, which tend to be
overbearing. You can find it's features on the RCCL website so you
don't need me for that. The Royal Promenade is a great place to
DINING: Food is very good and most people typically eat lunch
and breakfast at Windjammers on deck 11. Some choose the dining
room instead. Breakfast at Windjammers tends to be the same every
day, but with so many selections it doesn't matter. Lunch tends to
be similar also but they do vary some of the meats, fish, and
sides. The deserts change daily and are very good.
The main dining room, which is 3 floors high with each having
their own name, is excellent. For us service was very good and the
food was great.
Portofinos has great food and offered the best tenderloin I've
ever had. Great deserts! Worth the $20.00 per person. Make your
reservation(s) as soon as you board the ship. It can be a great
escape from noisy diners.
DINING ROOM DRESS: There are 2 formal nights in which the
majority of people actually dress formally. If you are the kind of
person who refuses to dress up then I suggest having dinner at
Windjammers Cafe on deck 11. Also, if you cannot get to dinner on
time you should have dinner at Windjammers Cafe. It's informal and
buffet style. When people refuse to dress properly in the dining
room they disrespect their fellow passengers. When they refuse to
arrive on time they disrespect the dining room staff and make life
very difficult for them.
BEDS: Other reviewers talk about how bad the beds are and if
they are talking about the edge of the bed they are right. But what
people forget is the cardinal rule of beds - which is you DO NOT
sit on the edge of the bed. In addition you don't sleep on the
edge. The beds are large and though the mattress is thin it's not
bad in the middle. My wife and I had plenty of room.
PORTS OF CALL & EXCURSIONS: There are tons of excursions
offered by Royal Caribbean, but what's not generally known is there
are other companies providing excursions. One such is 'Port
Promotions', and since we booked our cruise through 'Cruise.com' we
got a free excursion worth up to $84.00 per person. Port Promotions
has any number of excursions on many Caribbean islands and are
probably better than those provided by the vendors selected by
RCCL. But if you choose them you MUST keep track of the time
returning to the ship. DO NOT expect them to keep track of
departure time because they won't. You DO NOT want to arrive late
for the ship since it may not still be in port.
ALCOHOL: RCCL is pretty chintzy about this and want to make sure
you ONLY buy THEIR liquor at their inflated prices. Consequently,
in the home port even though you've already been through security
and your bags x-rayed, they force you through another security scan
on the ship. This is so they can catch you sneaking in booze. While
they do have the need to screen you when returning to the ship from
port, nonetheless, in the home port you get screened twice. They
want to make sure you don't buy booze at the San Juan pier (which
you can at the duty free shop) and bring it on the ship.
Ironically, it's at the ports where you might be able to sneak
it on. What happens is they make you go through security and your
purchases are scanned. When you detect you having liquor they tell
you to go over to a desk and check it in there. But if the scanner
guy gets busy with a lot of people he cannot watch you. Just walk
past the liquor check in desk and enjoy. How DARE they make you
purchase liquor from them if you want a drink. Try to board with a
bunch of people so they get too busy to keep track of you and your
liquor. It's your property and you should be able to bring it on
board - just like they let you bring on money (which they WILL get
from you). This is a real downer about crusing.
THE TABOO TOPIC: While it may be politically incorrect to talk
about I'm going to, which is Hispanics. If you are going to cruise
out of San Juan you are going to see a great deal of Puerto Ricans.
While I suspect some might tune out at this point I think with the
assumption I'm a racist, nonetheless hear me out on this. There's
upper, middle, and lower class people in every country in the
world, but because RCCL wants the ships full they offer cheap fares
in the home port. Consequently, all the San Juan natives have to do
is drive themselves over to the pier and board the ship - for only
$200.00 per passenger. Unlike lower class Americans who find flying
to San Juan and then paying $800.00 per passenger cost prohibitive,
it's the lower class Puerto Ricans taking the cruise, not the upper
class, so the behavior on board can be a major problem. On this
cruise it was only about 16% Puerto Ricans and they seemed well
behaved. But a cruise of over 60% Hispanics is NOT unusual.
On a cruise last year on Carnival we experienced about 75%
Puerto Ricans and the ship was under siege. The halls were noisy
virtually 24 hours a day, the stairs were crowded with kids sitting
on them and blocking people, kids were fooling around in elevators
and drunk (14-15 years old), they refused to dress appropriately in
the dining room, and there were altercations. Last year I posted
those comments and several emailed me saying they encountered the
same problems on their cruises.
One of the big problems was Hispanics being rude and pushing
into lines. On this cruise the lines were pretty short and it
wasn't a problem until debarkation, when they pushed in front and
were rude. Sadly I have to admit that on prior cruises, when there
was noise, it came from Hispanics. Call that racism if it makes you
uncomfortable but it's true. It's lower class Hispanics on the
cheap tickets causing the problems. On this cruise we encountered
mostly middle class Hispanics and they conducted themselves
Last year we cruised during Christmas and it was a nightmare.
This time we cruised in January and it was great. I think the time
of year can account for some of the problems so I recommend the
winter months, which you'd probably want to do anyway to avoid the
northern winter in the US.
I also find it very unfair that my wife and I paid over $1,000
per passenger, while in Puerto Rico they get cheap passage for
$200.00 - and yet receive the same cruise. So Americans and
Europeans pay the freight which is grossly unfair.
ENTERTAINMENT: This is pretty subjective and depends upon your
personal taste so that must be up front. The ice show is fabulous
and not to miss. Get your tickets as soon as they are offered,
which I believe is Monday. There were 2 comedians on separate
nights. There were also 2 musical shows. As a former professional
musicians I can tell you the shows were excellent. Good musicians,
good dancers, good singers who could sing in tune. Around the ship
there are various other musicians and usually pretty good.
ART AUCTIONS: Auctions are held on most cruises lines and on
most ships. I've sailed Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival,
and Park West Galleries was on all of them.
Park West used to claim they sell art for 60-80% below gallery
prices. That's hogwash. Today, they no longer make that claim
because people were catching on. On this last cruise they wanted
over $7,000 for pieces from Salvador Dali's 101 illustrations from
the Divine Comedy. But if you check the Internet you'll find them
being sold by Lockport Gallery (southwest suburb outside Chicago)
and their websites says the Divine Comedy pieces for around
Their appraisals come from outer space because they don't jive
with the real world. You can get some great pieces but you MUST do
your homework first. If you see something you like go research it
on the Internet BEFORE you bid. The will NOT tell you the minimum
bid they will accept so forget that. Watch out for opening bids
because they can be very high.
About once in each auction they give a low opening bid for piece
and let it go just to get the audience fired up, and so Park West
can claim the buyer got a really great deal. Maybe they did and
maybe they didn't. But be aware there are other places to buy art
so don't feel obliged. Drink their champagne and wait until the end
so you get your free artwork - which is an 8 x 10 that's probably
not worth much.
Also, you can catch the Park West people on the cruise, let them
know what you are interested in, and make them an offer. You're
going to have to do it blind, having no idea what their minimum bid
OR opening bid would be. FYI: Often their opening bid is higher
(maybe MUCH higher) than their minimum bid.
WARNING: Park West auctioneers like to talk about the value of a
piece and how it rises so quickly. Be advised - they are salesman
who know NOTHING about art. They are slick. They are superficial.
But they are NOT knowledgeable. Buy artwork because you like it and
NOT because some fast talking 29 year-old says it's a great buy.
Trust your instincts, not them.
Art work is shipped from a Detroit suburb and we've never had a
problem. HOWEVER, you WILL see some reviews in which people
describe their nightmares with Park West.
DISEMBARKATION: People leave the ship in groups and you are
provided with a group number, which they call for disembarkation.
We found that's where the shoving and rude behavior by Hispanics
was prevalent. RCCL wants you off the ship as quickly as possible
so expect a knock at your door by 7:00 AM, and they want you out of
your cabin by 8:00 AM.
OVERALL CONCLUSION: We had minimal problems with obnoxious
Puerto Ricans or Americans, probably because mid January is a
highly desirable time to travel so there's not too many cheap
tickets issued. Food was very good, entertainment was great, the
ship is fantastic, I would take this ship and cruise itinerary
1) It's worth it to try to sneak on alcohol at ports of call.
Stay in the middle of a group and the RCCL people will be
distracted, just don't report to the "booze" table after security.
It's your property.
2) Don't miss the ice show. It has world class skaters and
you'll see it up close rather than on TV. They are incredible on
such a small ice rink.
3) Check in online. Embarkation will be faster.
4) DO NOT allow ANYONE to handle your bags. You'll be sorry if
5) If you have problems with rude people at Windjammers then eat
all meals in the dining room.
6) WARNING: Be advised to avoid a confrontation with rowdy
people. You are at sea and there is no local sheriff to arrest
people. The ship's "security" will "file a report" which you CANNOT
get a copy of for documentation or further legal matters. They WILL
NOT cooperate with you. Been there, done that.