ADVENTURE OF THE SEAS
December 9-16, 2001
Mary & Vincent Finelli
Since we have sailed on both the Voyager and the Explorer of
the Seas, we thought that sailing on their sister ship would just
be dejà vu; however, the Adventure of the Seas is
unique due to the exquisite decor and refinement of her interiors, all
enhanced by beautiful holiday decorations. This was our 22nd cruise in
the past five years and our 11th on RCI, so we are Diamond members of
the Crown & Anchor Society.
The Adventure was built by the
Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Turku, Finland and had her inaugural voyage
from San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 18, 2001. She looks just like
her sisters, all white with aqua/green glass on her upper decks, a
blue stripe above her yellow life boats and the same awesome size
which could be seen from everywhere in San Juan. Her length is 1,020
ft. and beam is 157.5 ft.; gross tonnage is 142,000 tons with a draft
of only 29 ft. She has 15 decks, a cruising speed of 22 knots
and a crew of 1,185 with guest capacity of 3,114, and 26 of her
cabins, in various categories, are wheelchair accessible. This is not
just a ship, she is the largest resort afloat!
Captain Arnolf Remo (Norway) is
a grand seasoned mariner, whose charm was evident at welcome aboard
ceremonies, dinners and receptions. He comes from a long line of sea
captains (father, grandfather and great grandfather). He graduated
from the Naval Academy and Captain's School in his hometown of Alesund,
Norway and he is an excellent representative of RCI who exudes
competence. Most of this review will center on descriptions of
this elegant new vessel; she certainly merits it.
Normally we sail out of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, but this itinerary
and the attraction of a new ship moved us to fly to San Juan, Puerto
Rico. Through RCI we had purchased transfers from the airport to the
ship, but American Airlines made us claim our luggage and accompany it
personally across the street to unmarked trucks, which delivered it to
the ship. Needless to say, Mary was steamed by the time she had
dragged the luggage and pushed the wheelchair so far. This was an
unnecessary hassle, since after checking with other cruisers, we found
out that only American Airlines required passengers to first claim
their bags, all other lines allowed the luggage to be transferred
directly to the ship.
We arrived at the port about 12:30 pm
and found long lines, but as soon as Migdalia de Leon, RCI Terminal
Manager, saw the wheelchair, she took us personally in hand, did our
check-in and assigned a crew member to take us aboard. In less than
ten minutes, we were onboard checking on our table assignment, all was
in order and we were in our cabin by 1:00 pm.
The welcome aboard buffet was nicely
displayed, fresh and crisp looking with plenty of variety and we
enjoyed it, with the help of attentive wait staff.
THE SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS
The center for many activities is a 394 ft. long Royal Promenade,
located on Deck 5, between the front and aft Centrums. It is
reminiscent of a quaint European town. This four deck high mall area
hosts the Captain's Champagne Reception as well as carnival like
parades with street jugglers, dancers, jesters, etc. Passengers may
stroll, shop, or sit at the Duck & Dog Pub, or in the Sports Bar
with a cold brew, while their children help themselves to ice cream,
cookies, pizza or sandwiches at the Café Promenade, where Seattle's
Best coffee and tea are always available.
In the aft Centrum starboard are
located the Guest Relations and Explorations Desks, while on the port
side is the Champagne Bar (with two sculptures by the American artist
Helaine Blumenfeld: "Cleopatra" and "Frieze").
This Centrum is dominated by a four deck tall art work entitled
"The Dive" by Lawrence P. Kirkland (America): depicting a
diver's view when looking up from the sea bottom; the blue and silver
tubes represent a school of silvery fish once seen at the
Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA. To us it looked like a water spout or
tornado funnel. Very interesting, especially since it is a big
improvement over the less inspiring art work in the Centrums of the Explorer
of the Seas. Another attraction of the Royal Promenade is
the 1939 Citroen Roadster (purple and beige with roll and tuck leather
interior and rumble seat) restored by Bent Bowitz (Norway).
Deck 2 forward has the Entertainment
Complex, Conference Center and La Marquis with screening room -- plus
Deck 3 forward has the Lyric Theatre,
where live performances are held every evening, and the Entertainment
Complex featuring Studio B, a two deck high skating rink and a Hi-Tech
multipurpose TV Studio. Also here is the entrance to the
Jester's Club (a disco for 18 and over) marvelously decorated with
beautiful stained glass and gothic heraldic furnishings. On Deck 3 aft
is found the Vivaldi Dining Room, the first floor of the three tier
restaurant connected by a grand staircase and elegantly lit by the
opulent central Crystal Chandelier (very impressive after the missing
chandelier on the Explorer).
Deck 4 forward has the second level
of the Lyric Theatre with its beautiful Peacock Curtain in blue and
green with shimmering lights. Toward aft is the Schooner Bar
with the characteristic odor of old ships' ropes, and four huge
portholes overlooking the starboard side outdoor promenade; on the
opposite side are four matching porthole shaped artistic compositions
with nautical collages titled "Romance At Sea" by Janice
Ebbing (Norway) utilizing ropes, textiles, sails and ceramic figures,
The upper deck entrance to Jester's
is flanked by two cannons, miniaturized replicas of 19th century
maritime artillery, "La Joelette" and the "Brillante,"
with two description plates erroneously switched, but very interesting
anyway. There is also a model of the "Kalmar
Nyckel," Capt. Peter Minuit's ship; Minuet is famous for
purchasing Manhattan from the Indians for 60 Dutch guilders ($24.)
Farther along aft is the Casino
Royale, which RCI claims is the largest afloat. This Las Vegas
style Casino has a glitzy Hollywood Theme that enticed us into
making our usual donation. Next is the Aquarium Bar with fishes
swimming in and out of its walls of coral formations. However, the
aquariums on this ship were not as well stocked with
aquatic life as those on the Explorer. Still though
watching them relaxes the pulse and brings down the blood pressure.
Aft on Deck 4 is the middle level of
the restaurant, the Strauss Dining Room: Each level has 12
large, elegant round crystal lights and numerous other crystal lights
on poles evoking an Austrian theme.
Deck 5 has the Royal Promenade and
forward is the Imperial Lounge with a Chinese motif. Bronze like
lions guard the entrance flanked by huge Chinese porcelain vases from
Wah Tung China Ltd. Copies of paintings of "Chinese
Warriors" and "Yunan Chinese Beauties" are on all
four walls interspersed with huge floral panels. Most notable in
this lounge entrance are two exact copies of the Terra Cotta
Guards from the burial site of Chinese Emperor Qin, famous for the
unification of China and initiating construction of the Great Wall
(2nd century B.C.). In this archeological site have been
found about 50,000 terra cotta warriors surrounding the Emperor's
To go to the elusive prow of the ship
and the outdoor observation deck, take the starboard exit door either
from this lounge or from the adjacent Connoisseur's Club (cigar
smoking atmosphere and lots of leather seating).
On Deck 5 aft is the Mozart Dining
Room, the top tier of the Restaurant. It is a truly glorious
sight looking down from the laurel and ribbon festooned balconies. At the entrance of each dining room are two glass cases
18th century costumes designed for "The Virtuosos" by
Patrizia Zappaterra (Italy); these are masterpieces of needle work and
Deck 6 is mostly cabins. The
Business Services area, adorned with several models of RCI ships, is
between the aft stairways, facing the Centrum and the Royal Promenade.
Deck 7 is mostly cabins. Facing
the aft Centrum and the Royal Promenade is the library (well stocked).
Deck 8 is mostly cabins and "RC
On Line" with 19 internet stations (IBM). Vincent accessed
his e-mail for only $5.00 -- not bad.
Deck 9 is almost all cabins and the
Concierge Club, most capably managed by Marise Gagnon. She made many
things simple for us.
Deck 10 has suites and Superior
Staterooms. The views from the two Centrum Balconies are really
nice from up here. Suspended in the aft Centrum is Austdahl's
(Norway) "Free Sculpture of the Solar System" which is light
and space evoking, but try as we may, we never saw the ninth planet.
You must see this. Suspended in the forward Centrum is a sort of
wooden helix or something, a modern sculpture, uninteresting to us.
Deck 11 has the Fitness Center &
Spa, the Solarium Pool (sea water), Whirlpools and Bar. In the
morning, between 8 am and 9 am this is deserted and wonderfully
peaceful. The Venetian Theme in this area is carried out with 15
bronze murals "Scenes of Venetian Life" by Gianni Arico
(Italy) and three larger than life bronze figures titled "Meeting
at the Redotto," by Philip Jackson (America). The beauty of
this area is enhanced by laurel and boxwood topiaries, while two giant
Gondoliers survey it all from above. Next is the Portofino, an
upscale restaurant, the Windjammer Cafe and the Island Grill.
Deck 12 has the Spa, Club Ocean,
Video Arcade, Johnny Rockets (50's style diner), Adventure Beach and
the Jogging track.
Deck 13 has Rock Climbing, a full
size basketball court, Adventure Dunes Golf, and in-line skating.
Deck 14 has the Viking Crown Lounge
which is divided into Crow's Nest, Blue Note Jazz Club and the 19th
Hole Sports Bar. On the port side there are the Seven Hearts
game room and the Cloud Nine Lounge.
Deck 15 has the Skylight Chapel which
can accommodate 60 people and this is the highest point on the ship.
There is a stained glass skylight and the Chapel can be accessed by
the handicapped through a special motorized chair lift.
The Adventure of the Seas is truly a
destination in itself considering all it has to offer in activities.
FOOD AND SERVICE
Hotel Director Martin Rissley oversees the service aboard, which is
top notch. Martin is friendly and extremely competent. He
took time to answer our questions and supplied us with many
interesting bits of information. Chief Purser Michelle McGregor
was efficient and very helpful. Gary Davies and Bob Tavadia are
the nexus of the RCI Start-up Team for new ships coming on line and
they are superb (more about Gary later). This ship runs like a
well oiled machine considering she is so new... smooth sailing!
Executive Chef is Helga Finnsdottir,
unfortunately we did not speak to her personally, but her food spoke
for her. We found the food good with flashes of excellent.
The menu is eclectic with something to please everyone (Prime rib and
salads were superb). Our waiters in the Mozart Dining Room
were very efficient and friendly: Waiter Cengiz Coskus (Turkey), Asst.
Waiter Cyrus Engineer (India). The Head Waiter Juan Gay-Frontal
(Spain) was a kindly gentleman with whom we enjoyed conversing.
By far, the best dessert was the Warm Chocolate Cake served with
slices of pears on a lake of melted chocolate.
We dined at the Portofino ($20 per
person). The service was first rate under Manager Alex Listuzzi.
We felt the appetizers were good and the bread not so good (fresh
breadsticks and crispy Italian or French bread would be better).
The Risotto with prawns was excellent and the sole was
wonderful (a huge fish served table side, light and succulent).
However, RCI needs an Italian Chef if it wants to serve true Italian
specialties. The Cacciucco Livornese tasted more like a
cabbage soup than a fish stew. Especially at the Portofino, meals
should be prepared with authentic Italian recipes, otherwise change
the names on the menu. In addition, in such a small restaurant
the pastas should be cooked to order, not parboiled without salt and
held until served. These simple changes could result in a truly exceptional restaurant, as exceptional as their desserts, such as the Tiramisù
and Zabaione with wild berries. Our expectation for
Italian food is quite high, since as Italians we have traveled
throughout Italy from top to bottom and know the various regional
cuisines; there is no surprise that we were disappointed again
at the Portofino as we were a year ago on the Explorer.
We found Johnny Rockets to be a great
trip down memory lane. The 50's atmosphere was created by red
vinyl booths and stainless steel everywhere: juke box music, peppy
service and line dancing by the servers ("YMCA" and
"Staying Alive") added a fun atmosphere. They serve
the best hamburgers on board (try the St. Louis with bacon, Swiss cheese, sautéed onions and pickles, or a mega caloric "Shake of
the Day" like the "Elvis" made with peanut butter,
bananas, vanilla ice cream, soda and a cup of whipped cream on top,
"Don't Be Cruel!"). The Asst. Manager Stefania Murariu
(Romania) keeps the staff hopping and our waiter Pablo Antunez (Spain
via Uruguay) made our three visits there fun. Thanks!
We found Room Service excellent.
We ordered a full breakfast every morning with omelets, bacon, hash
browns, rolls, juice and coffee. It was always on time and
hot. There is good food all over this ship and ice cream
machines on the Royal Promenade and at the Windjammer.
Our most memorable meal was at
Captain Remo's table with his lovely wife Tove and their son Fredrik
and friends; the company was great and the food delizioso.
We booked Cabin #7600 wheelchair access with balcony and it was spacious and airy, but we were only in it for an hour or so when Chief
Purser Gary Davies called to welcome us aboard. He gave us an
upgrade to an owner's suite, "The Himalayan," on Deck 10
(these suites are all named after famous mountains). This was
the first upgrade we ever had in 22 cruises; thanks to Gary we spent a
This suite has a separate bedroom
with a king size bed, five mirrored armoires and a vanity/desk.
The full living room has a gold sectional sofa, two chairs and
oversized coffee table, a dining area with a glass table and a full
bar with refrigerator, not to mention the 48" flat screen swivel
TV; the balcony has a mosaic table, two chairs and chaise lounge.
The bathroom had green granite counters (as did the rest of the
suite), two sinks, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, bidet and mosaics on
the wall and floor. The color scheme is maroon, beige and gold
with oak wood all around. If this is how the other half lives,
then there is no problem in acclimating.
Our cabin stewardess was Amelia and
she was stupendous. Needless to say this became one of our best
Cruise Director Ken Rush was a welcome sight, we had cruised with him
before and enjoy his friendliness and natural warmth. The
Director sets the tone for the passengers and he made us want to
experience every show aboard.
We felt the highlight of the cruise
was Studio B's "Cool Art, Hot Ice" show. The
international skating cast was "Olympic Class" and
Emmanuelle Balmori (Canada) did breathtaking aerial routines to
The shows in the Lyric Theatre were
entertaining and we especially enjoyed Tressa Thomas; she has a
beautiful voice and wowed the audience. If you get a chance, sit
in the Duck and Dog Pub and listen to Pete Wickersham (guitar and
vocal). You'll enjoy him. There are plenty of activities aboard
from Bingo to Art Auctions and many different levels of entertainment
for the young: Aquanauts Ages 3 to 5; Explorers ages 6 to 8;
Voyagers ages 9 to 11; Navigators ages 12 to 14 and Guests ages 15 to
17 (movies, talent shows, special dinners, tournaments, dances, relay
ACTIVITIES AND PORTS
Depart San Juan, Puerto Rico Sunday 10:30 pm.
ORANJESTAD, ARUBA, Tuesday arrive 8
am, depart 6 pm.
We took the Town and Country Tour ($32) which is a bus drive through
the capital with stops at the Casibari Rock Formations, The Natural
Bridge etc., very nice. Also available are Snorkeling Tours
($37), Atlantis Submarine ($79), and Sea and Island ($48).
WILLIAMSTAD, CURACAO, Wednesday
arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm.
There is a Williamstad Trolley Tour ($28) which is a nice way to see
this new, for us, port. There is also a Discover Curacao Hato
Caves ($36) with stalagmites, etc. and a Canoe Safari ($60).
PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN, Friday
arrive 8 am, depart 6 pm.
There is an Island Tour ($21) an America's Cup Regatta ($78), a
Snorkel Tour ($35), and other physical activities like biking.
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS, USVI,
Saturday arrive 8am, depart 6pm
We have been here so many times that we do it on our own; however,
there are good tours like the Sail and Snorkel ($46) and the Kon Tiki
Party Raft ($34). Don't forget Mr. Tablecloth, Mary's favorite
store with great bargains.
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, Sunday arrive
We took the Old and New San Juan Tour ($23). We started from the
port and our luggage was brought with us and we were left off at the
airport at noon. We had a nice guide, Alex, who was informative.
We spent time at Fort San Cristobal (by wheelchair). There is a
steep entrance going up to the fort, but it was all down hill from
there. Interesting. We had booked the El Yunque Rain
Forest Tour ($28) but had to cancel it due to a change in the airline
schedule... next time!
Although we had a great cruise on this beautiful vessel, we can think
of a few suggestions to further improve it, aiming for perfection.
- A strong chlorine odor is present
in the water and ice cubes in the dining rooms and cabins.
It is recommended that purifying filters be used at the serving
stations for drinking water and ice makers. There are very
effective and inexpensive filtering systems which can be utilized
- If RCI wants to maintain the
Portofino as an Italian style restaurant on some of its ships, it
should redesign the recipes on the menu to better reflect true
Italian taste. Now that RCI may merge with Princess, it will
be possible to share information between the two lines, and RCI
may learn from Princess something good about Italian cuisine.
Princess has some great Italian chefs. We know Executive
Chef Antonio Cereda, who does marvels with Italian dishes and
bread. We had the fortune of meeting him on the Grand
Princess and the Golden Princess and we loved his pasta sauces.
- RCI should try to arrange with
American Airlines a better direct transfer of luggage from San
Juan Airport to the ship without involving passengers. At
the airport the RCI staff gave us contradicting information
regarding the retrieval of the luggage and inadequate wheelchair
assistance. There is a definite need for improvement in
airport transfer assistance.
Overall, this was a great cruise on a new ship. We enjoy sailing
with RCI and seeing old friends while making new ones! In fact
we enjoy new ships so much that we are sailing on Carnival Pride's
inaugural cruise, December 30, 2001. Look for our next review!
courtesy of Kvaerner
to Royal Caribbean Reviews