We decided about a year and a half in advance that we would spend Thanksgiving week of 2016 on a cruise. Specifically, Royal Caribbean’s Southern Caribbean Cruise aboard the Adventure of the Seas sailing out of San Juan.
We invited all of our family and many of our friends. We figured this would be a good way to enjoy the holiday with many different branches of our family and nobody would have to cook! Or clean or figure out how to host a big group! Ultimately, it ended up just being the two of us and a couple of thousand strangers on the boat, but it was still a great cruise!
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Adventure of the Seas Refurbishment
Our cruise was actually just the second sailing after Adventure of the Seas came out of dry dock for some fairly significant refurbishments. Unfortunately, during the summer of 2016 Hurricane Matthew caused significant damage to the shipyard. Additionally, the hurricane forced several of the cargo ships carrying equipment and supplies to be rerouted. All this caused changes to the planned refurbishment.
Ultimately, dock workers were able to complete some of the scheduled refurbishment to Adventure of the Seas. Some parts of the refurbishment were pushed back, some will be in process for a few months and, sadly, some of the upgrades were cut altogether.
We do want to note that Royal Caribbean did offer a future cruise credit to all guests on this cruise to make up for the change to the refurbishment schedule. We do have a certificate for a credit towards a future cruise, to be used within the next year. Unfortunately, we are not sure that we will be able to use it, but we do appreciate the gesture by Royal Caribbean.
The vast majority of the ship was exactly what we expected…up-to-date furnishings, a variety of lounges, bars and lots of entertainment. The biggest disappointment for us, in terms of the refurbishment, was the restaurants. Chops Grille was not yet open and plans to install Izumi Japanese Cuisine were axed. Thus, we only had one specialty restaurant. We do consider ourselves minor foodies, so losing two restaurants was tough for us.
Dining on Adventure of the Seas
Breakfast, most days, was in the main dining room. We had an option of a buffet or a cooked-to-order meal, along with fresh breads and pastries. We ordered room service for breakfast once, but it arrived sooner than we expected, which was somewhat inconvenient. While the food was good, we decided we would rather just go to the restaurant or buffet when the time was right for us.
Our favorite lunch was in the main dining room, where we were able to get a custom salad along with an entrée. That was a real treat after having the buffet and pizza for several days!
The main dining room always has a fabulous dinner menu with mainstays and rotating specials. We enjoyed every meal we had in the main dining room. We also enjoyed getting to know our wait staff, as it was the same every night, even with My Time Dining.
The Windjammer Cafe, a buffet, is another good option, especially for breakfast and lunch. They have a wide variety to choose from, which should please most travelers. The Cafe Promenade also serves a light breakfast (pastries) and lunch (sandwiches and pizza). We enjoyed the cafe but ultimately is just wasn’t enough food for a full meal most days.
Specialty Restaurants on Adventure of the Seas
While the main dining room was great, there is a reason that cruise lines have specialty restaurants. Even with a changing menu, it can get boring to eat in the same place every single day/night. This is why we are willing to splurge a little on the restaurants.
While we are willing to pay a little extra for something different, we also always have our budget in mind. The cruise line offered a dinner special a few weeks before the sailing, which we took advantage of. We booked a package of two meals for the price of one (on the first two nights). We planned to dine at Portofino (Italian) one night and Chops (steakhouse) the other night. However, since Chops wasn’t open yet, that left us with just one option for both nights.
Portofino was excellent! We really enjoyed the food, drinks, service and ambiance. The antipasti (meat and cheese platter) was a great start to the meal. The pasta was delicious, the steak was well seasoned and cooked as ordered and the dessert was amazing! It really took us back to Italy and was a great way to start our dining experience onboard The Adventure of the Seas.
Portofino did offer a couple of dishes from the Chops menu, which was nice. But it was certainly not the same as having a second restaurant to dine at.
While Portofino was the only specialty restaurant, there is also a Johnny Rockets on board, which I think is fairly standard for Royal Caribbean ships. Johnny Rockets may not be a first-class dining experience, but it is a great alternative to a fancy dinner every night. Burgers and a milkshake is always a yummy treat!
While we were mildly disappointed that we did not have all the restaurant options that we expected, we really enjoyed our dining experience onboard Adventure of the Seas. All of the food was delicious and the service was great all week!
Bars on Adventure of the Seas
Let’s be honest, one thing that everyone likes about cruising is the ability to drink and not have to worry about driving or even navigating through car-filled streets! While we rarely drink excessively, we do enjoy adult beverages and did purchase the drink package.
While we may not always get our money’s worth out of the drink package (especially Bonnie), it is much better than counting every dollar spent on every drink and worrying about what it will add up to. I would much rather pre-pay and just be able to get a drink when I want to and not worry about it!
Our favorite bar on Adventure of the Seas is definitely the Viking Crown Lounge. Located on deck 14, this lounge overlooks the pool area and offers a great view of the ship and your surroundings. We especially like this bar at sunset! It also is usually fairly quiet, so it can be a great place to unwind and actually have a conversation.
Other bars include Boleros Latin Lounge (a new addition with the refurbishment), Schooner Bar, Duck & Dog Pub, the Champagne Bar and Gravity Sports Bar. Boleros and Schooner Bar often offer live music in the evening. The Duck & Dog Pub has a wide range of craft beer and whiskey. The Champagne Bar has champagne, of course, but also other high-end liquors, such as Johnny Walker Blue. Gravity Sports Bar is exactly that: a sports bar with lots of TVs. Don’t get too excited, though, as they only got ESPN Caribbean. Thus, no watching college football on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
We enjoyed all the different bars. They each offer their own atmosphere, so there is something for just about everyone.
Things to Do on Adventure of the Seas
This ship had the usual shopping, pool, spa and gym that you would find on most any cruise ship. There is a separate pool area for adults, but it was usually just as noisy and crowded as the general pool. We are not big pool people though, so we really didn’t spend much time at any of the pools.
There is also a track, an arcade, a rock-climbing wall and various sports courts. New additions include a two-story mini-golf course, FlowRider surfing simulator and dual racer water slides. Unfortunately, the water slides were not quite operational yet. The FlowRider was a big success, though, with lines usually fairly long. Surfing is not our thing, so we enjoyed the small stadium seating for watching!
There also were lots of scheduled activities going on throughout the ship such as trivia, dance contests, poker tournaments and wine tastings. These vary from day to day, but there is always a long list of activities to keep folks busy on both port days and at-sea days.
Nightlife on Adventure of the Seas
We typically are not late-night partiers, at home or when traveling. In fact, we often have to force ourselves to stay out after dinner when traveling so that we can experience some of the nightlife!
When cruising, our favorite evening activity, by far, is gambling. I suppose that is because we don’t have the opportunity to visit casinos at home! We are very conservative gamblers, though. We determine how much we are willing to lose and that’s all we take with us to the casino. The amount typically equates to what we would be comfortable spending on a night out at a restaurant and/or movie. We figure that way if we lose it all, we’ve spent a comfortable amount of money on our entertainment for the night.
The Casino Royale offers our favorite, blackjack, along with roulette, poker, craps and, of course, slot machines. You can order drinks at the casino bar or wait for a server to come to the table to take orders.
Additionally, Adventure of the Seas generally offers at least one show per night. It typically is not the Broadway-level show available on some of the other (bigger) cruise ships, but good entertainment nonetheless. The nightly show could be a variety show, a comedian, a dance revue or an ice skating show.
We saw two comedians, including the ventriloquist, Ronn Lucas. Both shows were fairly short but entertaining. Sadly, we did not make it to any of the song or dance shows. This is the problem with a cruise that stops in a different port for five days in a row – you are just too tired at the end of the day to enjoy all of the entertainment on the ship!
Overall Impressions of Adventure of the Seas
The Adventure of the Seas is a good mid-level ship. It is not one of the newest, biggest ships with the most extravagant furnishings or attractions. It also is not so small that you have nothing to do.
You will get quality food, drink, entertainment and service at a reasonable price. This was a great ship for us, especially since it was just the two of us. The ship does have plenty of family-friendly entertainment and activities for kids. There is also enough fun stuff for adult couples traveling without kids.
Overall, we recommend this ship for any cruise. We recommend this Southern Caribbean Cruise itinerary. And we recommend Royal Caribbean as a cruise line.
For more from our 2016 southern Caribbean cruise, be sure to read our overview, tips on staying healthy on a cruise, pros and cons of staying in an aft cabin, as well as our port reports from Saint Martin, Saint Kitts, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Barbados, and San Juan.