For the second time in 14 months I went on a cruise with a family group and friends. We chose Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas based on our experience of the first cruise on Navigator of the Seas. While the overall ship's experience was not as stellar as on Navigator, it was still a fantastic trip and the ports of call were much better than those we visited on the first cruise. We visited St. Croix, Sint Maarten, Antigua, Saint Lucia and Barbados. The beaches were what we expected: blue, green colors, white sand, and warm/hot weather.
Cruise with your friends and family (or with your friends, if your family is not as closed knit as mine).
What made both the cruise on the Navigator and cruise on the Adventure a lot of fun was our group. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy everything these ships have to offer is to travel in a fun group. This doesn't mean you all have to stick together every day, all the time. We were 21 people in our group ranging from age 19 to age 80, and everyone had a great time. During the day, we split up in smaller groups so we would all do what we wanted to do. Some in our group wanted to tour the islands and see as much as they could. But some of us just wanted to find a beautiful beach and enjoy the relaxation, the swimming and the sun. In the evenings we would reconvene on the ship and spend some time chatting by the pool before getting ready for dinner, the only time we would all get together (2 large tables). After dinner we would againg split into sub groups - those who wanted to go to the Latin music bar, those who wanted to catch a show, those who went to the disco (Jesters) and those who turned in early.
As for the ship's experience, as I mentioned above, it wasn't as stellar as our cruise on the Navigator of the Seas. The glitches revolved mostly around the food at dinner. On the Adventure of the Seas, it just wasn't as good as on the Navigator. The service was very good, but our waiter wasn't as fun as the waiter on the previous cruise (must be one of the biggest challenges for RCI - to attract and keep the right people for the various functions). Another issue was communication. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate my Mother's 80th Birthday, but it just so happened that on the same cruise, it was my Stepfather in Law's birthday. My Mother in Law and him were taking their first cruise with our group. My wife arranged for a bottle of champagne to be delivered to their cabin on the day we arrived. It never got there. The ship sent it to the wrong cabin. On my Mother's Bday, we had a special, private party on the 14th deck of the ship. It was supposed to be a surprise for our Mom, but somehow communication broke down and the ship delivered a letter to my Mom's cabin telling her about the special occasion. Not a big deal, but it ruined the surprise. I mention all this because in any company, it is not what you do when things go great and your customers are happy. It's about what you do when something goes wrong and your customers are not happy.
Feedback is gold.
About the food. We spoke to the head waiter about it and he told the chef who personally came over to our table and apologized profusely, but also thanked us for the feedback. Hopefully, he will follow through with improvements.
About communication issues. We spoke to the front desk manager on board, Duygu Tanel (or DD). She was very attentive and did everything she could to find out what went wrong and also apologized for the glitches. She left us messages to update us and also offered a 10% discount on a potential next cruise to all our cabins. Unfortunately the offer is only valid for a year which feels a bit more like a marketing offer than a gesture of good will (it would have been much better if the expiration was, say, 3 years). In any case, it was refreshing to see a company trying to do their best to address the customers concerns and their own mistakes. Overall, we were all very pleased with the experience and again made an open deposit on board for a future cruise. Europe next time? Or should we wait for RCI's new ships, Anthem and Quantum, to be finished.