7-Days on Adventure of the Seas (this couple’s honest review)

We no sooner had set foot on dry land when Royal Caribbean’s first email hit my iPhone.

We had just spent 7-days aboard Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas and RC was eagerly anticipating our feedback by way of an online survey. Of which we were most happy to respond and of course share with our readers.

This was a southern Caribbean, four island-hopping tour, departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 25th, 2017. Our itinerary included; St. Maarten, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. We had a Junior Suite, mid-ship, on deck nine, starboard side.

This wasn’t our first time sailing with Adventure, we experienced a different itinerary two years ago. We’ve totaled nine cruises on various ships and sizes, mostly sailing through the Caribbean and one in the Mediterranean. What should be noted is that our previous cruise experience has definitely influenced our satisfaction level and subsequent answers to this survey.

 

Aruba's-divi-tree

Here’s the Survey – and our candid responses

We were asked to rate our experience from 10 through 0, with 10 Very Likely and 0 Not at all Likely.
We used a (0) grade when the question didn’t apply.

Please rate your overall vacation experience. (8)
Anywhere hot that includes palm trees and a beach sounds good to Canadians in February. For that I’ll give it an 8. (We have some gripes, but overall we did enjoy ourselves).

How likely would you be to recommend Royal Caribbean to a friend, family member, or colleague? (7)
Those with little to no cruising experience will likely find Adventure a blast. But it’s hard to judge if you have no other cruising experience to compare it to. The more discerning cruisers with way more experience may not appreciate this category of cruise line (but that’s why they invented Celebrity and Azamara).

If you were planning another cruise, how likely would you be to choose Royal Caribbean? Please share the primary reason for your rating. (6)
Maybe – and that’s a stretch. At this point in our cruising experience, itineraries are key drivers in the planning process. We’ve pretty much exhausted the Caribbean and are not satisfied with their existing itineraries.

 

Sailboat in water, Aruba


Please rate your experience on each of the following:

– Pier experience: (10)
We arrived at noon and were whisked through the onboarding process fairly quickly. If you are a Suite guest you have priority boarding and miss any lineups. A nice perk.

– Friendliness of staff: (6)
Whoops, there’s something lacking here and it was quite apparent to us in both the Windjammer and the main dining room. There was a definite drop in the overall “happiness factor” of the staff. The dining room waiters, although friendly enough, seem less engaged, rushed and simply going through the motions. Likewise with the Windjammer crew.

– Staff’s ability to resolve issues: (10)
Doesn’t really apply but the query I had for Guest Services was taken care of.

– Itinerary / Ports-of-call: (6)
A bit boring, but okay. However, Aruba was a gem. The extended stay (departure 11:00pm) allowed us the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful dinner on the beach complete with a stunning sunset.

– Departure/Leaving the ship (terminal, customs, luggage collection): (10)
Leaving the ship was a breeze (ports and final departure). This is one thing that they have improved upon over the years.

– Crown & Anchor Society: (0)
Doesn’t apply. We are Crown & Anchor members and heard nothing about it onboard. Hopefully we didn’t miss anything.

 

Island bar, San Juan


Overall dining experience, (I have also included the second part to their question), our satisfaction with each meal: 

– Quality of food in the main dining room: (6) 
Blah! Sorry, but we’ve seen a decline or at least no improvement in the quality of meals offered in the dining room. In our opinion, smaller portions were the norm, i.e.: large Tiger Shrimp where promoted but what you got were pint-sized shrimp that you’d see in a $15 Costco shrimp ring. And one evening our fish dinner was served ‘raw’. An absolute no-no in any kitchen.

– Main dining room service: (6)
Very average. As noted above, the wait staff seemed disengaged, and rushed.

– Quality of food in Windjammer: (6)
As expected. Tons to choose from but at times it’s tough to find a hot meal and a place to sit.

– Service at Windjammer: (5)
Lots of solemn faces. Not sure what the problem is.

– Quality of food from room service: (7)
We only experienced a light breakfast a few times and it was satisfactory. But we noticed that the coffee pot delivered was less than half the size as ordered on previous cruises. Cost-cutting? Once we figured out that we needed two pots, we ordered both, but still only one arrived. Also a heads-up to anyone ordering the advertised ‘cheese tray’ for two from room service – let’s just say a mouse would be back for seconds.

– Service provided by room service: (8)
They delivered at the designated time in the morning. However, you could wait up to 45 minutes, as we did, ordering a cheese tray and ice one late afternoon. 

– Bar service: (8)
I can’t speak for any of the other bars around the ship other than the Champagne Bar which we frequented every evening. Service was good and we enjoyed every one of our Martini’s and Negroni’s. The wait times to be served however could be lengthy depending on the crowds. Shortage of staff?

– Giovanni’s Table: (8)
Our only secondary dining option was Giovanni’s as Chops was closed for renovations. We ate there once and enjoyed our meal and the quiet ambience. We love Italian and were not let down. It wasn’t over-the-top by any means, but it was a refreshing alternative to the dining room. If you’re new to RC these specialty dining restaurants charge a fee, which still isn’t bad considering the alternatives; dining room, Windjammer, Johnny Rockets?

 

St.Maarten_dock


Rate the following experience:

– Ship security staff: (0)
Doesn’t apply.  

– Guest services staff: (10)
Already noted above.

– Cruise line airport transfer experience: (0)
Doesn’t apply.

Do I agree or disagree with each of the following statements:
I feel the crew onboard the cruise were:

– Passionate: (6)
The crew, that we interacted with were mostly wait staff and the number speaks for itself.

– Committed: (6)
I think you’d have to ask them.

– Friendly: (6)
Yes, but not above average.

 

Docked-boat-St-Maarten


Thinking about the stateroom:

– Stateroom attendant service: (10)
We had no complaints. And there was little interaction.

– Stateroom cleanliness: (10)
No issues here. It’s always a treat to come back to a clean room with fresh towels.

– Stateroom appearance: (9)
I believe that this ship is due for renovations, and I hope that the guest suites are on the list. Some of the features are getting a little tired looking. But the ship is still good-looking.

Thinking about the ship’s appearance, rate the following:

– Overall ship appearance: (10)
Adventure of the Seas is still an impressive looking ship that is very clean and tidy.

– Overall ship maintenance: (10)
The ship is well maintained.

– Overall ship cleanliness: (10)
Always kept clean. The Windjammer can get a little messy with the masses of people moving through there at busy hours.

 

Aruba beach

 

Thinking about your experience with entertainment, rate the following:

– Sports activities: (0)
Didn’t apply.

– Daytime activities: (0)
Didn’t apply, but we were happy with that.

– Orchestra, bands and musicians: (0)
Didn’t apply.

– Cruise director and entertainment team: (7)
Really not visible to us other than at the Love and Marriage game show.

– Production shows (Theatre, Ice) (8)
We only went to two evening events: The late night (adult) comedy show with Mike Marino, which was absolutely hilarious. Kudos to Mike for a fun night. And we’ve seen the Love and Marriage game show before, but it’s still good for a laugh.

– Evening events and theme parties: (8)
As noted above, the only evening show we experienced was the comedian and the game show.

 

Divi Tree, Eagle Beach, Aruba

Rate your RC vacation on each of the following:

– Shore excursions: (0)
Didn’t do any shore excursions. Yet we did hear a number of people grumbling about the price.

– Shore excursion staff: (0)
Doesn’t apply.

– Casino experience: (0)
Didn’t use the casino.

– Quality of merchandise (also includes variety) in shops onboard: (10)
Seemed reasonable. Some things I’m sure are over-priced, but you don’t have to buy it.

– Port shopping experience: (7)
Ports were average. I’m not complaining, as we were able to get off the boat and stroll the area. However, most often you’ll find that the island shops sell much of the same thing. You can find decent deals in duty-free islands like St. Maarten – but you should know your prices ahead of time. Watches and jewelry deals can be had.

– Spa experience: (6)
We inquired about a massage at the spa. We’re fortunate enough to have a benefit plan that allows for massage treatments, provided that we use a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). But RC staff would not provide us with a receipt that included the therapist’s registration number, which we needed. They stated it was a ‘privacy issue’ which didn’t make sense to us as we had done this before on other cruise ships.

– Onboard internet: (5)
It’s expensive. But they are offering deals to purchase ahead of your cruise, so watch your emails for this. If you decide against a plan, you may want to take advantage of the WiFi zones and restaurants usually free of charge at all ports.

– Onboard telephone experience: (0)
Doesn’t apply.

– Photo experience: (0)
Doesn’t apply. We’ve done the photo thing on prior cruises so we opted out of this whenever a photograph was offered. We did look at the prints that were displayed in the gallery and were not impressed. Just don’t take it seriously.

– Art auction experience: (0)
Doesn’t apply.

– Next cruise/ future cruise experience: (8)
Future cruise staff will gladly help you book another cruise with up to 60% off the price of a second guest. They claim that this is a one day deal, only offered the first day of your cruise (to create urgency). Not so. The same deal was offered on day four, so you don’t have to rush your decision.

 

Beach view, Puerto Rico

Final remarks:
Our ratings and comments are specific to this cruise on this ship only. If you’re planning to sail with Royal Caribbean on Adventure of the Seas or any other ship in her fleet, I encourage you to check cruise reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic.

Tips and suggestions:

Drink Packages: Are expensive, but that’s just my opinion. You can pick up a bargain on day four with a 10-drink package special for $85. But just a heads-up, they’ll be adding an 18% gratuity fee on top of that. And, Canadians need to factor in the exchange rate. I’ll let you do the math.

Poolside seating and lounge chairs: On sea days you’ll have a tough time finding a lounge chair. Although cruise lines discourage this practice, (but everyone does it) get up early and place your towels and a magazine on a couple of chairs to secure your spot. Or fight for one later.

Towel clips: It can get pretty windy (almost gale-force at times) if you’re lounging on the top deck or an Aruba beach. Purchase a few towels clips (or bring clothes pegs) to hold your towel to your lounger in place – and hang on to your hat.

Booze on board: Yes, you can bring alcohol on board. Check with your cruise line but Adventure allowed two, 750ml bottles of wine onboard.

Bring extra hangers: There are (usually) never enough hangers in your stateroom, so why not throw a few extra in your suitcase. And, when you’re finished unpacking, there’s a great space under your bed to hide away two large suitcases for the week. Out of sight, out of mind.

Air freshener: You may want to pack an air freshener (Febreze) or a diffuser. We found our stateroom a bit stuffy and any of those would have helped freshen it up.

Reading material: Finished the six books you brought onboard? Check the ship’s library, they have lots to choose from and not just in English.

Appetizers: If you’re salivating over the appetizers on the menu in the main dining room, order two. No one’s judging you, you’re on holiday.

First-timers: If it’s your first time on board Adventure or any ship, take the time to thoroughly tour the ship. We found a helicopter landing pad on deck four at the bow of the boat that was the most strategic and yet quiet place to view the stars at night.

 

Back to you
We’d love to hear about your cruise experiences and any suggestions or questions you may have. Don’t be shy, please complete the comments section below.

Here’s a couple of additional blog posts focused on cruising that may also help you with your cruise planning:

– 19 Insider cruise tips for 2017 (and not just for first-time cruisers)

– Celebrity Summit, Aqua Class, first time experience

– How to visit 5 ‘Best of the Caribbean’ beaches in 7-days

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