April 2015 - 7 Night Southern Caribbean (San Juan Roundtrip) Cruise on Adventure of the Seas
We got off to a bad start when our bags were searched as we boarded and two 1/2 bottles of Scotch were confiscated. This being only our second cruise ever, we were not aware of the rule against bringing any alcohol aboard the ship, and it was never brought to our attention before we boarded. We were 'punished' by having to wait nearly eight hours for our bags to reach our stateroom - long after the ship had set sail and all our fellow travelers had received theirs. We did get the bottles back at the end of the cruise, but then only after some confusing and wrong information at the guest services desk.
Our stateroom was a decent size, with a comfortable balcony (room for two chairs and a table) on a quiet cul-de-sac at the front of the ship. Everything was clean and functional, with plenty of closet and drawer space. Water in the bathroom sink was always warm - not good for brushing teeth but otherwise OK. The PA system in the room did not provide the periodic ship's announcements, only 'elevator music", so we had to hold the door open to hear them.
We had chosen the 'MyTime' dining option, which worked reasonably well although we often had to wait several minutes to get a table even when you could see a half empty dining room. Other than our final night, we had dinner each night in the Mozart Room which was very pleasant and service was good without making us feel rushed. DInner usually lasted about two hours. Our first night was not a good meal at all. Salads came drowned in too much dressing, and my pork chop was terribly overcooked and barely edible. It had clearly been sitting under a heat lamp for a long time. The second night was a little better (we moved to a table on the other side of the room and the service was noticably better). However, the fish entree was disgusting - no taste and tough as shoe leather with lots of freezer burn. It was then that we found out that the serving staff are more than willing to take such items back, provide alternatives and even find things that are not on the menu if you speak up and complain. From then on the food got a lot better! Salads and soups were first rate, and entrees like rack of lamb and lobster tails were exceptional. For our final night, we went to Giovanni's Table, the upscale Italian-style restaurant on board -food and service were first class. One final comment on food - the breakfasts were mediocre at best. Getting crispy bacon and dry toast was almost impossible, and the 'regular' serving of scrambled eggs (using powdered eggs, for sure) was tasteless. Again, as long as we were prepared to complain and make very specific requests (and not just order what was on the menu) things got a lot better.
We did not use the shore excursion services on the ship but preferred to find our own way around. This worked out better - we got to see more of each island and make changes to plans rather than being locked in to a set tour. In general we paid about the same or a little less than the planned tours, without having to haggle over price with taxi drivers.
Entertainment on the ship was good - shows each night in the Theatre varied in quality with the music being aimed at the older audience with mostly "Vegas-style" song/dance routines. There was plenty of choice of places to go in the evenings - not just a casino, karaoke bar or British-style pub, but also a disco/night club, ice rink and quieter lounge/bars.
Walking around the ship, I heard about 50/50 of English and other (mainly Spanish) languages. This surprised me as they told us on the first night that based on nationalities when everyone checked in, a little over 3,000 of the 3,600 passengers were from the US/Canada. SInce the ship's home port is in Puerto Rica, we assume that a lot of passengers came from there.