Princess cruiser tries Royal AOS 6/14-6/21
Our cruise on the Adventure of the Seas started on Sunday, June 14th in San Juan and we returned on Sunday, June 21th in San Juan. The itinerary was: San Juan, Sea Day, Aruba, Curacao, Sea Day, Dominica, and St. Thomas. There were 4 of us – 2 in our 50’s and my daughter 23 and her husband of 25. The purpose of going on a cruise at this time of the year was to celebrate my daughter’s college graduation that happened on June 13th. We have all gone on Carnival and Princess with my sister and I using Princess the most. My sister and I have also been on NCL but that is not one of our choices when choosing since cruising on NCL. This is our first time on Royal.
I will be comparing Royal’s Adventure of the Seas with the Caribbean Princess and the Carnival Miracle. We have taken the Crown Princess also but it is just like Caribbean Princess. I will give my ratings of each area at the end of each area in this review. Please do not hesitate to ask questions. We do consider Royal as one of our choices when booking a cruise.
Embarkation: The ship leaves from the Pan American pier which is not the same pier as in Old San Juan. Taxi ride is another 10 minutes to get to the Old San Juan pier where the fort is and the old San Juan town. The Old San Juan pier was nice due to the fact you can get off the ship and walk to the town and see the fort whereas the Pan American Pier looks at the Carnival ship and close to swim it but not to travel to it and there is no point in getting off to walk as it is too far in from the main road and all aboard time is 5:30.
We arrived at San Juan airport at 11:45 off of Jet Blue, which was very nice and had traveled all night from the Pacific Northwest. My sister traveled on Jet Blue from Florida the same day and we met in baggage claim at the same time. Catching a taxi is easy and set prices are made and the taxi stand will give you a paper invoice with the price so you know beforehand how much. The rates are online and were $19 per taxi with $1 per piece of luggage. It was a van and they do not wait for others to fill it up. Vice nice setup.
There was a long line outside of the terminal when we arrived at 12:30, however it was covered. When getting out of the taxi, you need to stand in the line closest to the pavement to drop off your luggage first and then get in the line for entrance to the building. The porters do expect tips even though all they do is lift your luggage and place it behind them. You have already done all the hard work of lugging it thru the line loops. While in that line they will pass out luggage tags but if you printed out and used the one that came with your e-docs they claim you don’t need to change it.
After moving into the line for the building a Royal Caribbean representative began handing out the H1N1 flu paper work that you fill out and sign. This is per person and you will need to bring your own pen and plan on writing on whatever you can find because the line starts moving fast. You don’t need to sign your sail and sea pass that you printed out until you get to the lobby to get your sea card. Make sure you have your passport out until you board the ship because it does not end after getting your seapass card as we were told. There was heavy security right before the entrance of the ship where it was thoroughly looked at again. When entering the building you go through the security machines and then coming out with loops of lines where there were about 20 reps at the computers ready to check your passports and give you your seapass cards after signing your documents that you printed online. After the seapass card, go up the escalator and if you can bypass the welcome aboard picture but there was another passport check just yards from the door of the ship. All total of presenting passport to get on this cruise was 3 times. You will again go thru another security machine and x-ray check of yourself and then finally aboard the ship. You could not enter your cabin until 2 pm.
Princess and Carnival Embarkations: We took the Crown Princess from San Juan in April of 2008 and it was right across from old town San Juan and was very easy to get on after it opened the line moved off the street that was uncovered. All of the ports are different but the AOS was the hardest ship to get on. We do like Princess having the welcoming white gloves personnel welcoming you all along the entry ways showing new people which way to go to their rooms which we can always go to right away. Carnival did not offer white gloves but we could always get into the cabin right away. On RCI, cabins were not ready until 2 pm.
Embarkation stars: Princess 5 stars; Carnival 4 stars, and Royal 3 stars.
After boarding before departure: We had linked reservations with my sister and I having a cabin and my daughter and her husband having a cabin, however we had been given 2 separate dining tables and in different dining rooms so we had to immediately go to the maitre’d to get the problem resolved. This has never happened before especially when online it showed linked reservations and a table for 4 early seating. The line for this was 45 minutes and then we could go get something to eat at the Windjammer. After eating and trying some of the famous Honey stung chicken which was good, cabins were opened and we went to lay down after our 17 hour flight. Upon opening our door, we immediately saw our beds were together after we were promised they were to be apart and Royal always places 2 women sharing a cabin with beds apart. After finally meeting our room steward we had to wait until 4:30 to get it changed.
Comparisons Carnival: Rooms ready when boarded or you can at least put carryon’s in your cabin and no problems with dining. Rooms are ready at latest by 1.
Princess: Rooms ready when boarded or you can at least put your carryon’s in your cabin and never a problem with dining. The room steward immediately came to your room to introduce their self and ask about any special preferences. That adds a nice touch.
After boarding stars: Princess 5 stars; Carnival 4 stars; Royal 2 stars.
Muster Drill: All aboard was 5:30 and the ship left at 8 pm. We had just walked into Café Promenade to check out the drinks and see if they had ice tea however, even though it was 5:30, we were told to go to our cabin and retrieve our life jackets and proceed to the drill now and my question was never answered about ice tea at the Café Promenade at that time. I had not been told to go to my room since I was a child. I am sure he could have worded it better or just say no it didn’t have ice tea and the drill is in 30 minutes.
The muster drill was held outside at 6 pm and you immediately had to put on your life jacket. They proceeded with roll call. You were not allowed to leave until all languages were instructed after English. Since we were told to go to our cabin and retrieve our life jackets we were the first at the drill.
Carnival Muster Drill: Held outside and put lifejackets on at end. One language spoken.
Princess Muster Drill: All held inside in the air-conditioning such as casino, dining room, theater, club rooms. Princess says they do it like this because in case of an emergency it is rarely to abandon ship and this way passengers can have access to beverages and restrooms while the emergency is taken care of.
Muster Drill is 5 stars Princess, 4 stars Carnival, 2 stars Royal.
The Cabin: We had a balcony cabin right on the middle of the hump on deck six. I do not like the metal bottom as you could not see out when sitted and the chairs were very cheap vinyl straps like you pick up at the discount department stores. We had 2 upright vinyl strap chairs and 1 small table. One side of our balcony had a metal wall and the other had a partition that was glass or heavy plastic.
The bathroom had a nice shower with 2 racks for your amenities, a removable showerhead and doors. The sink had racks for storage behind one mirror that were triangle in shape. There was a container of shampoo in the shower.
We thought the balcony cabins had a sofa but this was a love seat only room for 2 people and the curtain that shows in the picture does not move to separate the loveseat and the other bed area so it only partially covers the head area if one was to sit on the loveseat. We truly thought from pictures the drape closed all the way so if one wanted to watch TV it would not interfere with the other person. Wrong. There was a small glass top table in front of the loveseat.
Even though the room was much smaller than on Princess and Carnival, it did offer a lot of storage and had 6 drawers at the desk and a cabinet above the safe as well as small storage on each side of the desk mirror as well as wire shelves in the closet. It had one closet that was good for 2 people. The width of the room was smaller than what we were use to and it was tight to maneuver between the end of the bed and the desk area where the TV sat.
The balcony door is a slider and really hard to open but easy to step out.
Royal does not allow coffee makers or steamers to be brought on board. About mid-week we were offered a small plastic bag with all you could stuff in it with no pants or shirts allowed for $25. They only allowed under garments, socks and night wear.
Carnival balcony room: Offers a 3-person sofa with a larger table in front of it. Lots of storage in desk drawers and after the desk for larger items. Carnival has 2 closets for clothes and 1 for shelves. Carnival’s bathroom had 2 storage shelving on each side of the mirror and a large shower stall with a removable showerhead and racks for amenities. Carnival has a curtain though. Carnival has body wash in one container and shampoo in another container in the shower. Carnival also offered a bowl of goodies such as razors, toothpaste, toothbrush and other items. Balcony door is generally a regular door that needs a bungee cord to keep open and a step up out. No hitting of the legs when maneuvering in the cabin as the room is large. Carnival offers a self-service laundry room generally on each deck on the newer ships complete with irons and ironing boards. There is a line-up for the irons on formal nights and people are always using the machines so apparently this is important to a lot of cruisers.
Princess balcony room: No sofa in a regular balcony room so one must move to a mini-suite if you want a sofa. Otherwise you get a club chair. Princess has one large closet that runs the length of a bed outside of the bathroom with plenty of storage for your suitcases even. It makes it a nice private changing area. Also in this area is a closet of shelves with the safe on one shelf. The bathroom is the downfall for Princess as the shower is small and it has a clinging shower curtain with no removable showerhead or shelves. This has been a gripe with us. Princess has open shelves by the bathroom mirror. Balcony door is a slider. Princess allows coffeemakers and offers self-serve laundries on each deck complete with irons and ironing boards which really cuts down on pounds of luggage which is extremely important now that the airlines have a charge for excess pounds over 50 and some are free for the 1st bag and others charge for the first bag $15 and the 2nd bag $25 and up. Love that laundry room for less packing. If you are thinking of a balcony room on Princess, get one on Caribe deck if balcony size is important. It is half sun and half shade and is large.
Cabin stars in size are Carnival 5 stars, Princess 4 stars, and Royal 3 stars.
Cabin bathrooms are Carnival 5 stars, Royal 4 stars, and Princess 3 stars.
Dining and Around the clock eating and refreshments: Royal offers the dining rooms both traditional and My Time Dining served in the same dining area but on deck 5 on this ship. The traditional times were on decks 3 and 4. There was also the buffet that served breakfast in the morning generally until 11:30 a.m. Orange juice, apple juice, and coffee is served as well as ice tea if you ask for it. The made to order omelet station is hard to find and we never had one as it was either on the wrong side or the wrong time. Lunch is served at 11:30 am until 3 pm. with cold beverages of water, ice tea, and lemonade. From 3 pm until 5 pm, the Windjammer served snacks such as hamburgers, hotdogs, little sandwiches and some hot foods like fried chicken. The Windjammer opened again at 6:30 for dinner and closed at 9 for the night. The dining rooms had seating at 6 and 8:30 pm for traditional and we had the 6 pm seating on deck 3. Other than the dining room and Windjammer, the Cafe Promenade is located on the Promenade and is opened 24 hours but as far as beverages it only serves coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate and water with no ice since the water is cold. Since I am an ice tea lover I had to bring Crystal Lite and make my own ice tea in my cabin for the times ice tea was not offered. I tried making my own at the Cafe Promenade but the hot tea took too much ice and you had to get the ice from the bar. There were no eating-places outside by the pool area except for the free yogurt served from 12 pm to 6 pm outside of Windjammer on one side.
Choices of food in the dining room were good on 5 nights out of 7. We had to get use to the set up that it was not divided like with soaps and salads in one group and appetizers as another group. There were 2 nights that a large salad was placed at the table as family style. Bread was constantly being offered to you from your serving staff.
The quality of the food started off to be good but went downhill. There was only one night in which I ate everything. After arriving home I found I had lost 3 pounds when I normally gain a few but I am not complaining about that. Service was very good and the waiters did call you by name and learned quickly what we liked and had my ice tea ready for me when we arrived.
The formal nights were on Monday and Thursday, which were both sea days. Lobster was served on Friday, which was casual night and is now served with shrimp since there are about 4 bites of lobster. They had 3 nights of the staff singing with one being the last night, which is the night tips are given.
The Cafe Promenade served pizza, sandwiches and desserts and was opened 24 hours with limited menu between 3:30 am to 6 am. Sandwiches were ham and cheese croissants, tuna salad on baguette and roasted vegetable on baguette. They normally had 2 meat sandwiches and a vegetarian selection. Desserts were like you would find at windjammer. Coffee at the promenade was Seattle’s Best.[/font]
Bar drinks were spendy generally being $7 - $10 and then 15 percent tip is added on.
We had planned to eat at Johnny Rockets but we found out that the cover charge of $4.95 did not include any drinks and we had looked forward to getting a milkshake but $14.95 for hamburger and milkshake did not sit well with us.
Carnival comparison: 24 hours buffet, hamburgers, hotdogs, grill, breakfast line all served outside for those who love to sit outside or for those who do not want to dress by the pool. One can always get included in the price cold refreshments such as ice tea and lemonade as well as coffee and hot chocolate. Carnival had free ice crème served 24 hours or almost 24 hours near the buffet. Carnival has entertainment in their dining rooms every night and the service was very good. The entertainment involved the passengers and generally teams were set up on the first day of the cruise with scores announced each night on a 7-night cruise. Carnival offered cut up fruit, which my husband was always getting. Very good selection of menus and teens would always get more than 1 entrée. Carnival offered Cappuccino and Mocha drinks after dinner that was included in your cruise ticket.
Princess comparison: 24 hours buffet and bistro (by menu on Lido deck after 11 pm) and generally 2 dining rooms with one as anytime dining and one as traditional dining. Some ships have 3 dining rooms. One can always get included in the price, cold refreshments such as ice tea and lemonade as well as coffee and hot chocolate. Princess does not have any entertainment in their dining rooms and the service has always been good. Princess had themed nights that were offered in both dining rooms and the Lido deck. The themed styles were for example: Italian night, German night, and Mexican night. They also offered non-themed food on these nights as well. Princess fruit was rarely cut up in pieces – hopefully they will change this aspect. Very good selection on menus and teens would always get more than 1 entre. The Princess chocolate love boat was always offered and a favorite with most passengers including myself.
Comparison stars are: Princess 5 stars, Carnival 5 stars, and Royal 3 stars. I gave Royal 3 stars due to lack of cold beverages after 9 pm, which is in prime time to us, and the quality of the food was lacking. If you go to bed early then this would not bother you.
Service Comparisons: We do not have any complaints regarding service as the Guest Relations desk was always very pleasant, our room attendant although not as good as others we have had did her job and our wait staff met our expectations. Most of the staff was very pleasant except for the one I encountered on our first day in the Café Promenade ordering me to my room 30 minutes before the muster drill to retrieve our life jackets.
We did love that the account folio was on the TV so lines were small at the guest relations since I have seen long lines on ships that do not offer the information on the TV.
Bar personnel were also pleasant.
Elevators were very hard to catch on this ship and with my sister’s bad knee we could not use the stairs so the typical waiting time was 5 to 10 minutes each time for an elevator that could hold 2 of us. There were only the front and rear elevators. According to people we talked to one elevator was broken all week.
Princess has 3 sections of elevators with front, mid-ship and rear where there were 5-6 at each area and waiting time for one was 1-2 minutes.
Carnival had 3 sections of elevators with front, mid-ship and rear and 4 at each area. Waiting time was generally 3-4 minutes.
Star comparisons for service: Princess 5 stars; Carnival 4 ½ stars; Royal 3 stars.
Teen Patrol and Security: We only saw 1 security officer the whole trip that was the last night. This was very unusual as we generally saw them everywhere on the other ships controlling unruly folks or kids running around without their parent’s supervision. This ship could use a lot more teen patrol as the teens were loud and running the halls and stairs late at night. We were playing cards in the game room on the last night and there were a lot of teens that came in one time to bang on the piano and the next time a different set to hang out and talk and laugh loud. This was not a teen room we were in but the 9 clouds card and game room for those seeking a nice area to talk and play a game together.
We never encountered a problem with Princess or Carnival with teens becoming out of control or taking over so my stars are:
Princess 5 stars; Carnival 4 ½ stars; Royal 2 stars.
Entertainment: This ship had the ice rink and rock wall as well as the Royal Promenade that Carnival and Princess does not have. The cruise director was Chris Northey and was very good and funny.
On the 2nd day of our cruise we had to stand in a long line that was opened from 10 a.m. to noon to get tickets for the ice show which was set up on deck 3 outside of Studio B. There were 4 offerings. Our choices were Tuesday, Aruba 6:45 pm and 9:00 pm, Thursday Formal Night Sea Day 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. We choose the ice show on Tuesday at 9 pm so that it did not interfere with dinner or port times.
The Ice Show: We were surprised that no one took our ticket at the show so at least on this cruise at this time it was a wasted effort of our precious time to wait in that long line. During our showing of the ice show, 3 skaters fell at different times and the seas were smooth. We have seen shows on Carnival and Princess with the ship rocking hard and they never missed a step coming down on small stairs or juggling or leaping and catching so this took away from the show and I’m sure the skaters were embarrassed. The show was different but not one I need to see again.
The Love & Marriage Game Show was on Tuesday night, Aruba at 10:30 pm. with the cruise director being in charge. This was held in the Lyric Theater and had a large turnout. If you have seen others on other ships it was the same questions with the contestants being the newest newlyweds, the middle married people, and the longest married people that would dare to go on stage. Chris handled this show well and held our attention with laughter.
The Quest was on Wednesday Curacao day in Studio B. The ice was gone and in its place was a wood floor. Doors opened at 10:45 pm and the game started at 11:15 pm. There were still plenty of seats left and this was the most popular night. This is suppose to be an adult scavenger hunt, however children were allowed and in our showing even participated. It was very obvious that most of the teamleaders with the exception of one, had been on RCI’s show since they were prepared for every item that could be asked for. Chris, the cruise director was also in charge of this and did an excellent job. It appeared only a few people participated in each team since the team leaders had all the items so it was more of a watch show than participate.
Deck Parties: Deck Parties were held at sail away with dancing under the stars on Tuesday night.
Lyric Theater Night Shows: Sunday: Welcome Aboard starring Adam Ace Comedian, Monday: Greg Bonham, Australian musical entertainer, Tuesday: Ice Show Cool Art Hot Ice, Wednesday: Production Show Can't Stop the Rock Thursday: Finis Henderson, musical entertainer, Friday: Invitation to Dance (ballroom dance couple with Latin flair), Saturday: Farewell Showtime starring action comedy of Michael James.
The Promenade Entertainment: Sunday Promenade Parade 11:45 pm; Wednesday, 70's disco party; Thursday 10:15 pm parade
TV: 2 movie channels with the same movie playing for instance at 8 am and 8 pm, 10 am and 10 pm. CNN, ESPN, TNT, CBS, Fox News, Music video, Cartoon Network, Apple Pie TV, several in Spanish, RCI stations such as shows that you missed and a camera showing the promenade deck as well as a chart where you were at at sea. Pay per view movies were also offered. Movies showed on the 2 free channels during our cruise were: House Bunny, Swing Vote, The Women, Ghost Town, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Skulls, Iron Man, Hancock, Baby Mama, Night in Rodanette, Batman “the Dark Knight”, The Duchess, and Get Smart. These were also the same ones shown at various times in the Screening room on Deck 2.
Game style activities: morning trivia, Name that Tune, Name that TV show, Majority Rules, Bingo, Friendly Feud Game show, Name that 70’s Disco Tune, Name that 50’s and 60’s Tune, The Liar’s Club, pool games and dodgeball. Most of the games were held in the evening hours except trivia.
Movies : House Bunny, The Women, Ghost Town, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skulls, Iron Man, Hancock, Baby Mama, Night in Rodantte, Batman "The Dark Knight", The Dutches, Mama Mia, Get Smart. These were all the movies played in the screening room. Most of these were also played on room televisions as well.
The rock wall times were: Sunday: 4 pm to 5 pm, Monday: 9 am, 10 am, and 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm , 3 pm, 4 pm, Tuesday: 9 am – 10:30 a.m; 8 pm – 10 pm; Wednesday: 9 am – 10 am; 4:30 pm – 7 pm; Thursday: 9 am, 10 am, and 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm , 3 pm, 4 pm, Friday: 9 am – 10 am, 4:30 – 7 pm., Saturday: 9 am – 10 am, 4 pm – 6:30 pm.
Ice skating rink opened for public use: Sunday: not opened, Monday: noon – 12:45 pm; Tuesday: not opened; Wednesday: not opened; Thursday: 11:15 am – noon; Friday: not opened; Saturday: not opened
There was only 1 Port and shopping talk held and that was only for the ports of Aruba and Curacao so Dominica and St. Thomas was not covered except if you caught some highlights on TV.
Comparison with Princess: lots of daily activities that were done on Royal at night. Two shows were held at night, one in the big theater and one in the smaller theater. There is also a Club Fusion where more activities are held as well as Princess Idol where the audience is the judge and the finale is on the last evening. This is very popular. The casino is at least twice the size as on Royal with lots of 1 cent machines offered whereas Royal had a handful of 1 cent machines. Princess always had some type of activity going on that was interesting for the non pool crowd so there was never a dull moment. Princess shows just released or almost released movies in the movie theater, in your cabin and around one pool called Movies Under the Stars where popcorn is served with blankets and covers on the pool loungers. Football games are also shown on the big outdoor screen. The Rocky Horror show is shown on every cruise we have taken. Port and shopping talks give away a lot more goodies than Royal’s did and Princess holds an debarkation talk as well.
Comparison with Carnival: Main drawback is no movies shown in the theater when the equipment is there since they show their DVD advertising. Just released and almost to be released movies are shown in your cabin. We have not been on a Carnival ship that has the outdoor movie around the pool yet. Carnival has a lot of pool activities but the indoor activities are not as plentiful as Princess. Carnival covered the Port and shopping talks and debarkation talks excellent.
Star Comparisons: Princess 5 stars; Royal 4 ½ stars; Carnival 4 stars
Spa/Fitness Center: Royal offered on the first night a traveler’s special of a back and foot massage for $89 and we took it. It was wonderful. Of course they tried to sell you spendy products but after you said you will think about it, you were not bothered. We never tried the Spa on Princess or Carnival.
The Fitness Center was a lot smaller on Royal and did not offer TV’s at each treadmill and elliptical’s like Princess does. We did not use Carnival’s fitness center however I do remember looking down into it from the high deck and saw a small pool in the middle of the machines.
So Princess wins here due to the size and the TV’s at each machine.
Miscellaneous: The Royal AOS has a solarium with a small adult pool and hot tubs that appeared to be free to use. Princess has a sanctuary but there is a charge per day or per cruise. The Carnival ships we were on did not have this.
The voyager class and the Freedom class ships of Royal offers 3 pools which I am not sure are fresh or salt water. Princess ships are fresh water while Carnival is salt water and the newer ships offers 4 pools on Carnival. There are 4 fresh pools on the Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, Ruby Princess. Grand Princess, Diamond Princess, Golden Princess, Sapphire Princess, and Star Princess.
The layout of the Voyager class made you feel like you were not walking a lot while Princess and Carnival felt very long. The only disadvantage to the Voyager layout is the elevators and the longer wait time.
The atrium is definitely beautiful on the voyager ships and the atrium elevators views are a definite plus having a view from deck 5 to the pool deck. Princess atrium is 3 decks high having elegance around it. Carnival’s atrium elevators were beautiful also and did go up to the pool deck like the Voyager class ships of Royal.
Icecreme is served 24 hours a day on Carnival while Princess is a few hours in the afternoon for free while Royal serves frozen yogurt from noon to 6 pm.
Royal’s announcements are made in English first then several other languages probably depending upon the passengers on board that week. The Compass is also printed in other languages as well. Carnival’s and Princess announcements were made in English only on the cruises we went on. Carnival and Princess decorate your door with balloons for your special occasion for free as well as celebrating at dinner while Royal has a package for $31 to buy for it however they will serve a slice of cake and sing to you at dinner for your special occasion.
Carnival’s beds are wonderful while Princess beds to me need the topper and Royal’s were hard on my back as you could feel the metal bars through the mattress. Carnival offers the extra amenities in the bathroom as well as shampoo and body wash while Royal offers shampoo and Princess offers shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in containers with bar soap for the sink.
One thing that was strange was when the all aboard time at port says 4:30 that is exactly what they mean and not 4:32 as they will be pulling up the ropes and the rest of the equipment and they are out to sea within 15 minutes of all aboard time. So, we never left at the time the itinerary said for instance instead of 5 pm we would leave at 4:45. We never heard any announcements at the 4 ports of call of passengers that were missing. We were well aware on both Princess, Carnival and NCL ships that they started announcing at all aboard time, passengers names to call to customer relations desk. It is hard to believe that only on Royal that everyone makes the ship before all aboard time while Princess, Carnival and NCL had late ones. Very baffling to us.
Aruba – We took the bus to the Radisson at Palm Beach for $2.30 round trip per person. The bus terminal is right across the street, past the car rental agencies from the port and is bus #10. The buses run every 15 minutes so it works great. You can look online for the Aruba bus schedule as you can use a bus to get anywhere around the island.
Ask the bus driver for a round trip ticket and you will get a ticket in return. You can pay in U.S. dollars and coins, but you will receive back Aruba coins in change if not exact. For the return you just wait by the street and either a bus or city bus van will pick you back up for your return trip to the pier. Cheap and painless.
The Radisson offers daypasses for use of their pool, chairs, towels, and beach for $16 per person. I checked with most of the resorts and the only other one that offered daypasses was the Renaissance for $75 per person per day. The Radisson was beautiful and while the younger adults enjoyed snorkeling for equipment rental of $10, my sister and I checked out the casinos in the area. All of the high rise resorts had them and we checked out 4 of them. After we returned to town we checked out the stores and flea market stands and could not go to Senor Frogs as planned because their escalator was not working and my sister could not walk up it due to her bad knee. We were all tired anyway.
Curacao: We walked to town over the floating bridge and snapped some pictures and luckily was warned by walking pedestrians to keep an eye on the bridge as a blue flag means it will be down for at least one hour and some cruise passengers have missed the ship not knowing this. Royal did not tell us this and really should warn their guests. There is a free ferry that runs so we took the ferry back and it was packed liked sardines and it had been 90 minutes and the bridge was still blue flagged for passing freighters.
There is a casino right by the port so we went into there after shopping and checked it out. The flea market tents do not barter at this port at least not from us or the others that tried that we overheard.
The young adults took a snorkeling excursion with Actief Curacao and snorkeled the tugboat. They were treated well and really liked it. Actief Curacao picks you up and returns you to the ship.
Dominica: My sister and I just checked out the shopping which was mostly flea market tents but they did have a lot of unusual items while the young adults took the tube river rafting excursion through Antours for $40. They had a blast and learned about the countryside also. Antours picks you up and returns you to the ship. The flea market tents bartered a little bit but not much.
St. Thomas: Since we have been there so much, we finally took the ferry to St. Johns and the kids spent several hours at Trunk Bay snorkeling while my sister and I checked out the town and finally found an air-conditioned casino bar with video poker. It was miserably hot and there was not much shopping in St. John. The ride on the ferry was beautiful but beware of the St. Thomas cab drivers as they are very rude. One taxi stopped on the way to St. Thomas from the ship and collected the money or else you go back to the ship and another taxi driver picked us up in town but we were his first passengers and we were not aware that he was going to keep going through the town and round and round until he filled it up. Had we known we would have taken another taxi that was almost full as there were plenty of them and they are large open air vans. This same taxi driver thought his tip was $5.00 for one person when the tab was $4.00 per person and did not give the change back to my sister and walked away when she asked for it. If you see the stupid tram that some of them insist you take to the taxis from the pier, forget it. You can walk it faster than waiting for it to be filled up and it only went a little ways. You should have heard the comments that the guests were saying when we stopped and the tip jar remained empty.
Debark: We chose the luggage valet to avoid the long lines at San Juan airport for the agriculture line and the suitcase security line. It was $20 per person. We picked up the form from guest relations. You will need to provide your record locator #, flight # and carrier and how many bags you will be checking. Then after dinner on the final night you will receive in your room luggage tags. Just put the tags on and set them outside your door by 11 pm. Your seapass account bill will also be on your door in the morning.
Our time to get off the ship was only 90 minutes before our flight time so we went to guest relations and they exchanged it for a time of 8:50 – 9:05. You may wait in your room until its time for you to meet at your designated meeting area and ours left right on time. After getting off the ship, you will go to the baggage holding area and locate your bags. You will take them through the customs check area and then immediately past that is the area labeled luggage valet. Each airline representative was there. Then you find your transportation.
Although we do like Royal, we are making it our 3rd choice with Princess first, Carnival second and Royal 3rd. This decision is based on the quality of food, choices of food and beverage hours and the fact that pricing is way above Carnival and Princess and we just do not want to try and pack 8 days of clothes as well as formal clothes into one suitcase and taking 2 is out of the picture as I did take a 21” rolling carryon and found it was too heavy for me to lift into the bulkhead of the airline and take it upstairs on the airport so unless Princess or Carnival does not offer where we want to go we will take Royal.
As far as pricing, you can’t try to go look at Princess or Carnival site to see what the price is for your cruise coming up in a few months on Royal unless you just booked it on Royal. Look about 5-6 months out. Princess allows travel agencies to price under them while Carnival and Royal does not.
I hope this review has helped you and please ask questions but keep in mind we did not frequent dancing or the pool area. Happy cruising!
wonderful review......and we totally agree.......Princess is our line of choice.......and just to add to your thoughts, we do dance and Princess is far above the others in this area.
Thanks for taking the time to give your comparisons on the different cruiselines. Very informative.
Thank you for all the effort and details!
What a great review and the detailed comparisons were awesome! We also totally agree! RCI has provided us with wonderful cruise experiences but for the reasons and ratings you've offered, we prefer Princess (1st) and Carnival (close 2nd).
What great comparsions thanks for taking the time to post your findings.
Lot of helpful comparative notes.
Thank you for your review! Great idea with the comparisons:)
Thanks for the great (and comprehensive) review.:)
I was especially interested in the review of your excursion in Aruba.
Is it something you would do again, or perhaps heard of others from fellow cruisers that may be enjoyable.:)
Awesome detailed review! Thank you:D
Thanks for the review and comparison..
Thank you for the review. It took time and effort. Iwas a bit surprised to see how you ranked the AOS. We took it ofr the 1st time about one yr. ago out of SJ for a so. Caribbean cruise and were awed by the ship. We arrived a bit early for embarkation (we arrived in SJ one day B4) and were on in about 10-15 mins. Its true the cabins weren't open yet but the lunch room was and after dining and exploring the ship a little we got to our cabin. We had a JS and were fine with it, even though there were three of us in it. As for they muster drill they were strict and oncompromising but really its for our own good so I respected that. Conversely last feb. on the Island Princess there were some crewmen in our cabin inre to a bedding issue when the drill was announced and I must say the attitude was a bit lax. They sort of let us blow it off. As for food and this is always subjective, I find the dinner selections for RCI and Princess to be roughly on a par. I give the edge to Princess for the luncheon buffets. RCI had too little variety for our week I think. Also there was one episode of rowdy teens on RCI whereas so far I've seen nothing like that on Princess. I did report them and saw no futher problems thereafter. In all fairness our cruise had alot of teens as it was loaded with many for a 15th BD (girls) celebration which in Hispanic culture is a major event. Lots of young gals in formal ware too. They looked very nice. For us service was on a par and I always hve to give a big shout out to Princess for accomodating our special food (Indian food) requests. RCI has an email address to request Indian food which I used but on the 1st night the waiter and head waiter acted like we had asked for macrobiotis! Well after going up the ladder to the restaurant manager we got what we were promised, no questions asked. The head waiter was frankly full of it and it showed. And he got no tip either. His tip went to the restaurant manager who DID help.
We will be on CCL in Oct. for the 2nd time so we'll see how this compares. Thanks again for you input. Larry :)
thanks for sharing all of that!
Wow!! Very interesting and helpful! Confirms my decision to stick with Princess!!
Thank you for the great review and comparison. Just confirms the way I feel.
One question about the express luggage service: how do the airlines charge for checked baggage when you use this service? :p
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