Southern Caribbean Cruise Review (long)
Let me preface this review by saying that we have sailed on Navigator of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas twice and now Adventure of the Seas. This review is not in any way meant to be a comparison of these great vessels and their crews but mearly our interpretation of our vacation and the sights and experiences that we had. We hope that this information is helpful for any of you either booked on Adventure of the Seas in the future or those of you contemplating a cruise with her. By the way, we are in our 50's just so you know.....old people do have fun too.
We arrived in San Juan PR on Friday evening Feb 6 on Spirit Airlines at 11pm San Juan time. Weather was rain and we hoped that this was not a preliminary of things to come. We were confirmed at the Marriott Resort on Ashford and quickly found a taxi for the four of us and our luggage and made our way to the Marriott in the Condado section of San Juan. Hotel was about 20 minutes from the airport and the taxi for all of us was 22.00 plus tip. The Marriott was a beautiful resort and as we entered the lobby we were surprised to find a band playing and the lobby bar filled to capacity with people. The casino is off to the right of the lobby entrance and the front desk is to the left. Our room was ready upon our arrival so we sent our checkd baggage up to the room and stayed in the lobby area for a few drinks to decompress coming out of the winter weather in Colorado. Wonderful service and music. With Caribbean music dancing in our heads we proceeded to our room which was on the 8 floor overlooking the public beach area. We opened the door and listened to the ocean all night and quickly fell asleep. The next morning we decided to explore Ashford street and shops and resturants that line it. There is a Walgreens drug store about one block to the right and many little shops and boutiques along either side in both directions. The day we arived the whole city of San Juan was without water due to a new treatment facility being put into place but the Marriott has its own water system so there was no problems with showers and such. Later that evening we decided that a true Puerto Rican resturant was in order, so we inquired at the hotel and with many to choose from we settled on one we could walk to. The Muiro, is out the front door one block to the right and three blocks to the left on Condado Ave. The hotel made reservations for us and so at 6:30 we walked down (casual dress) and enjoyed a superb meal. Cost for the four of us was $120.00 plus tip but well worth it. The prawns are huge and all the food at the table was excellent and prepared and presented beautifully. The walk was short and the night air in San Juan was warm.....what a nice beginning to our vacation. The following morning we went into La Vista which is the poolside resturant at the Marriott for breakfast checked out of our room around 11:30 and headed by taxi to the pier. Cost $24.00 for all of us and luggage.
Upon arriving at the pier we realized that the taxi driver had dropped us at the Princes embarkation....not to worry, we only had about a 5 minute walk to the correct embarkation stop for Adventure of the Seas. Lines were very short and processing only took about 45 minutes from the time we were dropped by taxi until we were in our stateroom. Our luggage followed very shortly behind us. We spent the rest of the day exploring the ship and giving our friends a tour whom had never sailed on a voyager class prior to this. We were scheduled for first seating at 6:30 and so we dressed for dinner. Our table was in Valdi Dining room, level four, located right at the entrance to allow for great people watching. Our wait staff were the best, attemtping to fulfill our every wish and not just the first night but every night. The food throughout the cruise was always hot, flavorful and presented beautifully.
We had made our reservations for Portofino's as soon as possible when we boarded. I would recommend that you do this to get the seating day and time that you wish to dine in this restaurant. We dined at Portofino's on Thursday night which was the second formal night but lobster was on the Portofino's menu as well so we didn't loose out. We had a string ensemble playing while we dined and the complete treatment you receive in this restaurant is stunning. Plan to spend at least 2 hours dining and enjoying the full experience. With before dinner drinks, two bottles of wine, the $20.00 upcharge per person, and after dinner drinks and tip we spent $160.00 for the meal and it was worth every penny!!!!!!
This buffet style restaurant was very easy to navigate, stations were clearly marked and the food selection was excellent each and every time we dined there. The food was hot when it was supposed to be and chilled when it was supposed to be. The wait staff were courteous and helpful. We used this for lunches and occational breakfasts when dining in the dining room was precluded due to excursions departure times.
This cozy little cafe is located in the forward area of Promenade. A great place for a quick sandwich, pizza cookies, drinks, coffee etc. It became our late night hang out for bed time pizza. The croissant sandwich selection changed daily and were always fresh and the cookies were plentiful and "just like mom used to make". The sprinkles soft serve yogurt machine for this level is located next to the Promenade Cafe so if cookies and ice cream are you fancy, you need not walk far.
We attended three shows, the comedy of Rondell Sheridan (laughed until we were crying), the comedy of Phil Paisoul (laughed until we were crying and the ice show (AWESOME)!!!!
We attended one bingo session and really enjoyed it as a time to relax..unfortunately none of us won a dime but then oh well!
A definate do not miss is the ice show. This we attended at the 5:30 show dressed in our formal attire and then off to dinner the first formal night. A great performance and something for the whole family to enjoy!
The guys decided to attempt the rock wall and one made it to the bell and one made it 3/4 of the way to the bell but we cheered them on and had a good time doing it. The inline skating track is a nice one....a little uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back. Fabulous view on the way out, I think to keep your mind and body off using muscles you haven't for a long time.
We were divided on day trips to take so we took different trips in some ports. We all started at Aruba with Roberto's Snorkeling trip (not booked through the cruise line). This trip was a two hour 22 foot boat trip with a captain just the four of us aboard and we got to go where we wanted to for two hours. Cost was $37.50 each for four. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. We had Happy Captain Nick as our captain and he is a wonderful guy and very knowledgeable of the area. We snorkeled the wreck (AWESOME) and he then took us over to a cove beach area for further snorkeling. rum unch and soft drinks were available the entire trip and bread to feed the fish (they will eat out of your hand). I will take this opportunity to caution you that the wind blows hard in Aruba and the chop is very hard to snorkel in so if you are not an experienced snorkeler or diver, just be aware. We had a great snorkel experience but it was alot of work to fight the current and the chop. We were very tired but enjoyed the entire experience.
KUKU KANUKU Night LIFE BUS:
We boarded this very brightly colored open air bus (booked through the cruise line) for an evening experience in Aruba. The evening began with a Champagne stop at Orient Beach at sunset! They give you the itinarary at this time. You are furnished a free drink ticket at each of the watering holes and if you want to purchase more drinks you may do so and they are about $3.00 or so each depending on your choise of alcohol. Moraccas are furnished and the music is playing, and you find yourself having a hard time not getting into the flavor for the evening. We then were taken to dinner at the home of one of the island dignataries. This was quite the house let me tell you. After a great meal, we were allowed to tour the residence, sign the guest book and then onto the party bus to the next local watering hole.
You will find your self dancing, learning new dances, dancing on bars (yes on the bar), wearing head dresses, and completely having a great time. Our final stop was Carlos and Charlies which is located right next to the pier. We did not go in for our final drink as the place was mobbed!!!!! We decided instead that since it was 11:30 and we all had excursions booked for the next day, that a stop at Cafe Promenade for our bedtime pizza and then off to bed.
We did not have a excursion booked on this island as we really wanted to wander around town (both sides) and walk the Emma Bridge which is a waterway swing bridge. It connects one side of the city to the other. If you hear the bell, run to the other side you need as you will be caught on the bridge until water traffic is through which can be a few minutes or several minutes.
This is a very picturesque dutch island and photo ops of course are everywhere. The people are very friendly and the island is very clean. Our friend had a dive scheduled for the wall which was a shore dive and he indicated that it was very choppy and the current was hard to fight in order to get to the wall. He said that he would really have to think long and hard again if he was going to do a dive from shore. Boat diving is the way to go as was Aruba. Shopping was a little pricey but depending on what you were in search of there were bargains to be found.
It still astounds us that there are any vehicles with side mirrors on this island. Narrow streets, stop signs that are merely a suggestion. A beautiful island and good shopping but I would not recommend renting a car for this island. Our taxi driver used the street, the sidewalks, passed on curves, and in general made me thankful for the US drivers, even the worst ones where I live. My husband and I then went back to the ship for a 1:00 excursion on the Americas Cup Regatta (scheduled throug the cruise line). WHAT A BLAST!!!!!! We were assigned to the Canada II and our crew worked very hard. All of us were assigned a job on the boat. My husand was a main grinder and I was assigned the wench wench (no I did not studder) position aft. We tried our best but unfortunately we lost by a nose (I think Stars and Stripes were cheating) but then none of us felt like losers as we had all worked as a team on one of the most wonderful boats and had a great crew and host crew. I highly recommend this to all. Our friends took the butterfly excursion and bus tour of the island and loved every minute of it and found it to be very informative and a beautiful scenic tour.
We were scheduled on Captain Nautic's Power Snorkeling through the cruise line). WHAT A HOOT! You take a inflatable zodiac style boat (same kind the Navy Seals use) and you scream at 50-70 mph across the water to Turtle Cove to snorkel with turtles and sting rays and lovely fish for about 45 minutes and then you get back on board and you scream across the water to Honeymoon beach which is in the Marine National Park. WOW!!!!!! Fish, reef, white powder sand, clear water, what more could you ask for! It was truly wonderful. The crew Parker and Carlos are the best and they are a wealth of information about the area. Then they take you back to the ship via the coastline so you can get a glimse of how the other half lives. Highly recommend!!!!
The debarkation process is somewhat confusing and I would highly recommend that you don't attempt to make a early flight out of San Juan. Not because the process is so lengthy but all things add together to trouble with a early flight, cab ride to the airport, folks that move to a slower pace in San Juan airport, you could find yourself in trouble. We had opted to spend another night back at the Marriott Resort so as to miss the turmoil on Sundays departures. Debarkation begins around 8 am and we got off the ship at around 10. They disembark according to your flight number so we stayed as long as we wanted and then got off. Terminal debarkation was not big deal, lines moved quickly and luggage was of course lined up by color of your tag in a very large room. GO FISH!!!!!!
OVERALL: This is only a glimpse of our trip but as I'm sure you can tell, it was atleast a 9 on a scale of 10. We would be happy to go back and get on board the Adventure of the Seas anytime. I understand that she now has been given a east and west itinerary......maybe we will try the other side next time. I could have gone on and on but figure that some things should be a surprise for those sailing her. We are booked on Explorer of the Seas for October and we hope that she can measure up to her sister, the Adventure of the Seas. Bon Voyage to all sailing and if you have any questions please feel free to email me at GoatPro@aol.com.
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