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Cruise Ship Review

Adventure of the Seas - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

The third in a series of five Voyager-class vessels, Royal Caribbean unveiled no new surprises on Adventure of the Seas. No surprises, that is, if you are already accustomed to sailing on what is among the world's largest ships, with a range of the most uncruise-like activities at sea, such as a roller blading track, ice skating rink and rock climbing wall -- not to mention the bustling hub that is Royal Promenade, a main street-esque boulevard of shops, bars and cafes, or Johnny Rocket's, the retro-inspired burger joint, with its distinction of being cruisedom's only chain restaurant.

Sure, there have been some superficial changes from Voyager and Explorer, the first two vessels in the class. The Lyric Theater has a nifty Art Nouveau interior; the solarium pool evokes the glories of Venice; and the Casino Royal centers on a Hollywood theme. But besides these minor alterations, Royal Caribbean has not tinkered with the evident success of the Voyager-class concept.

This ship is so well designed -- with lots of very distinctly themed rooms and with even the larger venues like the Lyric Theater and Imperial Lounge feeling unexpectedly cozy -- that Adventure of the Seas has the potential to spoil first-timers and even seduce some of us crusty ol' cruise traditionalists.

Dining

From the meals in the dining room to the buffet choices in the Windjammer Cafe to the options availabe at the 24-hour Cafe Promenade, the food was amazingly consistent and well prepared, and especially considering the capacity of the ship. And options are pretty plentiful.

Three main dining rooms (which are actually all part of one) offer Royal Caribbean's flexible My Time Dining program at dinnertime. Passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for flexible dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis. Cuisine is generally well prepared, if not innovative; Royal Caribbean doesn't pretend to be a gourmet-dining cruise line. Each menu includes healthy fare options, vegetarian dishes (at least one, like vegetarian chili, but sometimes there's an Indian vegetarian dish in addition) and a standard in-case-nothing-else-appeals selection of entrees (rigatoni with marinara sauce, Atlantic cod, chicken breast and black angus top sirloin). Breakfast and lunch are open-seating, though you shouldn't take that to mean that you can always snare a quiet little table for two.

The Windjammer, Adventure of the Seas' buffet restaurant, is open for breakfast and lunch, and it features mediocre, steam-table cuisine. Kudos must be given, however, to the egg station at breakfast (where you can request a variety of prepared-to-order dishes) and the carving station at lunch. Baked goods are consistently excellent. Vegetarians will do much better in the main dining room at lunch.

The Windjammer is also open for dinner and is an option for those nights when flexibility is preferred. The buffet features the same items as are on the main dining room menu.

Specialty eateries include Johnny Rockets, the 1950's-style burger joint; passengers can indulge in burgers, hot dogs, chili fries, apple pie and onion rings. Royal Caribbean has instituted a $4.95 per-person cover charge for both in-restaurant and take-out dining (and beverages are additionally charged).

On the Royal Promenade, the Cafe Promenade features light fare at all times (pastries in the morning, sandwiches at night); try the pizza, it's excellent.

Portofino is Adventure of the Seas' specialty restaurant. The Italian-themed restaurant, which charges a $20 per-person cover, offers a leisurely seven-course meal. The menu did not change at all on our trip, but that didn't seem to matter to a number of folks who were back for repeat dinners. Note, however, that you need to make reservations as early as possible in your cruise or you may get locked out.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, Continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service between 5 a.m. and midnight (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended); late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Public Rooms

What's nifty about this ship is there is no one recurrent theme. Feel like an Asian atmosphere? Head for the Imperial Lounge. In the mood for Gothic? Try Jester's nightclub. Feel the urge for a clubby, elegant salon? With or without the cigar smokers, the Connoisseur's Cigar Club is a peaceful hideaway. Most of the major indoor venues are located off or along the Royal Promenade, which tends to really come alive at night. There you'll find shops (the usual cruise-style boutiques that sell logo items, duty-free liquor, perfume and cruisewear) and bars like the Duck & Dog British style pub (though many of its draught beer choices are puzzlingly non-Brit), the Gravity Sports Bar (which seemed empty most of the time) and the somewhat-elegant-but-mostly-bland Champagne Bar. However, the highlight is the 24-hour Cafe at the Promenade, which is a great place to snack and people watch.

Off the main promenade, in various directions, are the Imperial Lounge (the ship's secondary theater with entertainment ranging from line-dancing classes to cooking workshops) and the Connoisseur Club (a very elegant, cozy cigar bar). Connected to the Promenade, via various stairways, are additional entertainment arenas, including Casino Royale, the Schooner Bar, the Aquarium Bar (with its huge fish tanks), the Lyric Theatre and the Jester's nightclub. Tucked away on Deck 2 -- easy to miss -- are the ship's intimate cinema and conference facilities. Each of the performance venues -- Lyric Theatre and Imperial Lounge, for instance -- has its own bar as does Studio B, the phenomenal ice-skating rink/show lounge on deck three.

Overlooking the Royal Promenade is the Library, with an adequate collection of books and comfy leather chairs, and an area for future cruise bookings. The ship has an Internet cafe and cabins are wired for Internet usage. The cost for Internet access, via Wi-Fi or at a work station, is 55 cents a minute, or you can buy packages of 60, 90 or 150 minutes for $28, $38 or $55, respectively.

The Photo Gallery on Deck 3 is the place to giggle over silly photos of your shipmates and buy your own for outlandish prices ($19.95 for 8x10's, often a smaller photo of you surrounded by generic ship images).

Blue Moon Jazz Club, the name on this ship for the traditionally styled Viking Crown Lounge, has the usual fabulous vistas. On the same deck you'll find Seven Hearts Card Room, 19th Hole Golf Bar and Cloud Nine. Adventure of the Seas has a nondenominational chapel called the Skylight Wedding Chapel.

Cabins

Out of 1,557 staterooms, 939 of these have an ocean view (765 have balconies). A hallmark on this ship's class is the Royal Promenade-facing staterooms that overlook that engaging thoroughfare -- these are a step up from the usual inside cabin. A warning however: Privacy is at a premium with these cabins because they do not have privacy glass windows. Also, due to the late-night reveling that goes on, all but night owls may find them noisy.

All staterooms come with a twin-that-can-be-converted-to-queen bed, private bathroom, phone, closed-circuit television, mini bar and hair dryers. They're decorated in festive Caribbean-esque colors, from mist-green to buoyant oranges and yellows.

Moving up a notch is the Junior Suite. It's the smallest, coming in at 293 square ft. with a 66 square ft. balcony. Just a bit bigger than the standard balcony, the extra perks (beyond space) that come with the Junior Suite include a bathroom with tub and a bigger living room area.

For those wanting concierge access, the remaining suites, definitely moving into the higher-ticket arena, start with the Royal Family Suite. At 533 - 586 square ft., its grand claim is two bedrooms plus a sitting room; the second bedroom has the usual twin to queen bed configuration plus two Pullmans that come down from the ceiling. Balconies are bigger, too. In this suite they range from 139 - 193 square ft.

The Grand Suite is just a larger "junior," but it's quite a bit larger at 358 - 384 square ft. and features a bathroom with tub. The Owner's Suite offers more amenities and features even beyond increased squared footage; passengers booking this category of accommodations get a bathroom with whirlpool, bidet and separate shower, along with a bedroom and separate living areas (with queen-sized sofa bed). Measurements are 512 square ft. for the cabin and 57 square ft. for the verandah. And finally? The piece d'resistance is the Royal Suite, which comes with all the Owner's Suite amenities plus a baby grand piano, a balcony that measures 215 square ft. (outfitted with better-than-standard furnishings, including a dining table); the stateroom itself is 1,001 square ft.

Tip: Families should book as far in advance as possible -- a year ahead of time if you can -- to have the best choice of family-friendly staterooms (including connecting cabins), particularly if you are traveling during school vacation periods.

Entertainment

Where do you even begin? It can be very hard to relax on Adventure of the Seas -- even on sea days -- because of the head-spinning array of activities that run from dawn to dusk and beyond! The ship's entertainment staff offers an intriguing blend of options, and everyone, from the most traditional passenger to the completely contemporary traveler, will find something to do.

Highlights? During the day, you'll find plenty of traditional cruise activities, such as bingo, dance lessons (line-dancing), rock-climbing wall competitions, horse racing, art auctions, seminars (on everything from healthy eating to gemstones), Mr. Sexy Legs contests, bridge pairing, art and craft workshops and films in the tiny cinema. Poolside, throughout the day, a live band plays a blend of Caribbean and American songs. Royal Caribbean does not offer much in the way of onboard enrichment.

Throughout the day and night, there's often some type of performance along the Promenade, either a parade or jugglers and comics who wander through the giant mall-like space and perform with the crowd.

At night, there are two kinds of entertainment -- the traditional-style cruise productions -- singing and dancing shows in The Lyric, such as "Velvet Rope"-- and goofy passenger-inspired episodes like "Love and Marriage" (a tired idea, perhaps, but still, on our cruise it was screamingly funny). Bar venues, of course, offer a variety of musical performances that are aimed to please just about everybody at any time -- classical guitar, country/western, jazz.

Beyond the usual, where this ship excels is the unique. Studio B (the ice rink) hosts "Cool Art -- Hot Ice," which is phenomenal and worth the effort to get a ticket. (There is no charge but the venue is small that tickets are limited. They make announcements about when you can pick them up.)

Fitness and Recreation

Even on sea days, everyone has plenty of room around the two pools -- an admirable feat. One interesting feature about the hot tubs is some are double-sized, which again makes room for more folks. Tiered decks surround an outdoor theater, where everything from "men's sexiest legs" contests to live dance band performances take place. There are two bars by the main pool. The Solarium pool, whirlpools and bay are situated in a quieter, more laid-back setting; the area is adults-only.

All of the major (outdoor) athletic activities -- the nine-hole miniature golf course, rollerblading rink, full-size basketball/volleyball court, golf simulator and rock climbing wall -- are tucked into a "sports center" that lies aft. The pocket-sized ice skating rink is tucked well below, into the bowels of the ship. Note that some of the more specialized activities -- rock climbing, rollerblading and ice skating -- are offered only at specified times so check your daily compass for available hours. The ship's jogging/power walking track winds around the main pool area.

One nice touch: Royal Caribbean does not layer on a lot of extra fees for equipment "rental" -- there is no charge for using everything from ice skates (you can choose between hockey and figure models) to rollerblades.

The 15,000-square-foot spa -- the usual Steiner, Ltd., production -- spans two levels. One houses the quite ample fitness facility (no overcrowding here) and a workout room where classes are offered. Upstairs in the spa and salon facility, a wide range of treatment programs are offered, such as facials, massages, manicures and hair-styling.

A couple of caveats: The prices for treatments have risen to breathtaking levels, with a basic 50-minute massage now costing $120 or more. (The industry average is $99.) A manicure is $45; a pedicure is $65. The spa did offer "discounts" on port-of-call days (and as the cruise wound down), but that just brought the prices down to industry-normal levels. In addition, treatment employees will engage, way too aggressively, in the much-loathed "Steiner Product Pitch" at the end of your appointment. The products are also over-priced. Just say no.

Family

Adventure Ocean is Royal Caribbean's kids' program. This is by far one of the best kids' programs at sea, and our 7 and 11 year olds have always had a great time. Their only complaint? When we try to check them out for bedtime!

Royal Caribbean divides kids into age-appropriate groups. For instance, Aquanauts (the program for ages 3 to 5) may feature activities like "Alphabet Scavenger Hunt," story time and Adventure Theater acting classes by Camp Broadway. Explorers (ages 6 to 8) play backwards bingo, make their own surfboards and engage in basic science activities. Voyagers (ages 9 to 11) play foosball and capture the flag, as well as engage in science experiments that range from earthquakes to hailstorms. Even the teens are divided into two groups. Navigators (ages 12 to 14) have "open-mic" karaoke contests and a rock-wall challenge. And, the coolest group (ages 15 to 17) -- so cool, they don't have a kitschy name -- has its own dance parties in the Optix nightclub and video game competitions in the Challenger Arcade. In addition, Royal Caribbean has partnered with Fisher Price, Mattel and Crayola to offer a variety of kid- and family-friendly games and activities for all ages.

Generally, activities at Adventure Ocean cease during lunch and dinner times, but there is the occasional organized meal outing (to Johnny Rocket's, for instance). There were three kids' dinners on our seven night Southern Caribbean cruise. On sea days, you can leave your kids (ages 3 to 11) at Adventure Ocean for a noon to 2 p.m. lunch-and-play for a cost of $7.95. Plus, new My Family Time Dining (rolling out, fleetwide, by July 2009) offers an option that lets kids finish dinner in the main dining room in 45 minutes, then get escorted by Adventure Ocean counselors back to the kids' club to play (letting Mom and Dad enjoy a more leisurely meal).

Late-night group babysitting in the kids' areas (for ages 3 to 11) is available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $5 per hour, per child. Children must be at least three years old and fully toilet trained (no diapers or pull-ups). In-room babysitting for kids over the age of 1 costs $10 to $15 per hour and requires a 24-hour advance reservation.

Fellow Passengers

Passengers range in age from 35 - 55-plus with a large number of families onboard. Adventure of the Seas is a great option for couples and families -- particularly multi-generational groups. Speaking of groups, this a terrific cruise choice for them, whether it's a business group (there's a fully equipped conference center along with meeting space) or an extended family because there's lots to do for all age groups.

We offer the recommendation with one caveat: The sprawling ship and its plethora of options may be bewildering to folks who prefer more traditional styles of cruises.

Speaking of a mix of people, one of the more interesting facets of passenger demographics on this ship is international diversity (the daily Compass is printed in six languages). Adventure of the Seas, which is based in San Juan, also attracts a strong contingent from Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands beyond, which can make for a more unusual blend.

Dress Code

Dress is quite casual as befits the Caribbean itinerary. There are two formal nights where most men wore suits and women wore dressy (but not long) cocktail gowns. Otherwise, people dressed in "smart casual" which varied from country club wear to dressy. You saw all types. A couple of nights were themed and you could wear, say, country-western garb or 50's styles.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.50 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $3.50 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $5.75 if you're in a suite); and $2 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. Royal Caribbean also recommends $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter, but we don't necessarily tip him or her unless the service was special. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance, added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.



--Updated by Kathleen Tucker

Dining

From the meals in the dining room to the buffet choices in the Windjammer Cafe to the options availabe at the 24-hour Cafe Promenade, the food was amazingly consistent and well prepared, and especially considering the capacity of the ship. And options are pretty plentiful.

Three main dining rooms (which are actually all part of one) offer Royal Caribbean's flexible My Time Dining program at dinnertime. Passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for flexible dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis or walk in when you're hungry. (Note: Those choosing My Time Dining must pre-pay gratuities -- Royal Caribbean does not automatically add gratuities to your final bill if you've elected set-seating.) Cuisine is generally well prepared, if not innovative; Royal Caribbean doesn't pretend to be a gourmet-dining cruise line. Each menu includes healthy fare options, vegetarian dishes (at least one, like vegetarian chili, but sometimes there's an Indian vegetarian dish in addition) and a standard in-case-nothing-else-appeals selection of entrees (rigatoni with marinara sauce, Atlantic cod, chicken breast and black angus top sirloin). Breakfast and lunch are open-seating, though you shouldn't take that to mean that you can always snare a quiet little table for two.

The Windjammer, Adventure of the Seas' buffet restaurant, is open for breakfast and lunch, and it features mediocre, steam-table cuisine. Kudos must be given, however, to the egg station at breakfast (where you can request a variety of prepared-to-order dishes) and the carving station at lunch. Baked goods are consistently excellent. Vegetarians will do much better in the main dining room at lunch.

The Windjammer is also open for dinner and is an option for those nights when flexibility is preferred. The buffet features the same items as are on the main dining room menu.

Specialty eateries include Johnny Rockets, the 1950's-style burger joint; passengers can indulge in burgers, hot dogs, chili fries, apple pie and onion rings. Royal Caribbean has instituted a $4.95 per-person cover charge for both in-restaurant and take-out dining (and beverages are additionally charged).

On the Royal Promenade, the Cafe Promenade features light fare at all times (pastries in the morning, sandwiches at night); try the pizza, it's excellent.

Portofino is Adventure of the Seas' specialty restaurant. The Italian-themed restaurant, which charges a $20 per-person cover, offers a leisurely seven-course meal. The menu did not change at all on our trip, but that didn't seem to matter to a number of folks who were back for repeat dinners. Note, however, that you need to make reservations as early as possible in your cruise or you may get locked out.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, Continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service between 5 a.m. and midnight (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended); late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.50 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $3.50 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $5.75 if you're in a suite); and $2 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. Royal Caribbean also recommends $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter, but we don't necessarily tip him or her unless the service was special. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

--Updated by Kathleen Tucker

Dining

From the meals in the dining room to the buffet choices in the Windjammer Cafe to the options availabe at the 24-hour Cafe Promenade, the food was amazingly consistent and well prepared, and especially considering the capacity of the ship. And options are pretty plentiful.

Three main dining rooms (which are actually all part of one) offer Royal Caribbean's flexible My Time Dining program at dinnertime. Passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for flexible dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis. Cuisine is generally well prepared, if not innovative; Royal Caribbean doesn't pretend to be a gourmet-dining cruise line. Each menu includes healthy fare options, vegetarian dishes (at least one, like vegetarian chili, but sometimes there's an Indian vegetarian dish in addition) and a standard in-case-nothing-else-appeals selection of entrees (rigatoni with marinara sauce, Atlantic cod, chicken breast and black angus top sirloin). Breakfast and lunch are open-seating, though you shouldn't take that to mean that you can always snare a quiet little table for two.

The Windjammer, Adventure of the Seas' buffet restaurant, is open for breakfast and lunch, and it features mediocre, steam-table cuisine. Kudos must be given, however, to the egg station at breakfast (where you can request a variety of prepared-to-order dishes) and the carving station at lunch. Baked goods are consistently excellent. Vegetarians will do much better in the main dining room at lunch.

The Windjammer is also open for dinner and is an option for those nights when flexibility is preferred. The buffet features the same items as are on the main dining room menu.

Specialty eateries include Johnny Rockets, the 1950's-style burger joint; passengers can indulge in burgers, hot dogs, chili fries, apple pie and onion rings. Royal Caribbean has instituted a $4.95 per-person cover charge for both in-restaurant and take-out dining (and beverages are additionally charged).

On the Royal Promenade, the Cafe Promenade features light fare at all times (pastries in the morning, sandwiches at night); try the pizza, it's excellent.

Portofino is Adventure of the Seas' specialty restaurant. The Italian-themed restaurant, which charges a $20 per-person cover, offers a leisurely seven-course meal. The menu did not change at all on our trip, but that didn't seem to matter to a number of folks who were back for repeat dinners. Note, however, that you need to make reservations as early as possible in your cruise or you may get locked out.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, Continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service between 5 a.m. and midnight (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended); late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.50 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $3.50 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $5.75 if you're in a suite); and $2 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. Royal Caribbean also recommends $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter, but we don't necessarily tip him or her unless the service was special. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance, added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.



--Updated by Kathleen TuckerAdventure of the Seas debuted in 2001 as the third in the series of Royal Caribbean's game-changing Voyager-class vessels. Though Adventure has been bypassed in size and amenities by the Freedom-class trio and the massive Oasis-class twins, it's still among the world's larger ships, with a range of the most uncruise-like venues at sea, such as a rollerblading track, ice-skating rink and rock-climbing wall -- not to mention the bustling hub that is Royal Promenade, a shopping mall-esque boulevard of retail stores, bars and cafes.

Ambience variety is key. The Lyric Theater has a nifty Art Nouveau interior; the solarium pool evokes the glories of Venice; and the Casino Royal centers on a Hollywood theme.The Duck and Dog Pub is perfect for Anglo-philes, Champagne Bar is elegant and Jester's Nightclub resonates with a Gothic vibe.

This ship is so well designed -- with lots of very distinctly themed rooms and with even the larger venues like the Lyric Theater and Imperial Lounge feeling unexpectedly cozy -- that Adventure of the Seas has the potential to spoil first-timers and even seduce some of us crusty ol' cruise traditionalists.

Dining

From the meals in the dining room to the buffet choices in the Windjammer Cafe to the options available at the 24-hour Cafe Promenade, the food is consistent and well prepared, especially considering the capacity of the ship. And options are pretty plentiful.

Three main dining rooms offer Royal Caribbean's flexible My Time Dining program during dinner. Passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for flexible dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis or walk in when you're hungry. (Note: Those choosing My Time Dining must pre-pay gratuities -- Royal Caribbean does not automatically add gratuities to your final bill if you've elected set-seating.) Cuisine is generally well prepared, if not innovative; Royal Caribbean doesn't pretend to be a gourmet-dining cruise line. Each menu includes healthy fare options, vegetarian dishes (at least one, like vegetarian chili, but sometimes there's an Indian vegetarian dish in addition) and a standard in-case-nothing-else-appeals selection of entrees (rigatoni with marinara sauce, Atlantic cod, chicken breast and black angus top sirloin). Breakfast and lunch are open-seating, though you shouldn't take that to mean that you can always snare a quiet little table for two.

The Windjammer, Adventure of the Seas' buffet restaurant, is open for breakfast and lunch, and it features mediocre, steam-table cuisine. Kudos must be given, however, to the egg station at breakfast (where you can request a variety of prepared-to-order dishes) and the carving station at lunch. Baked goods are consistently excellent. Vegetarians will do much better in the main dining room at lunch.

The Windjammer is also open for dinner and is an option for those nights when flexibility is preferred. The buffet features the same items as are on the main dining room menu. Another complimentary option is Jade Sushi and Asian-Fusion, with self-explanatory cuisine.

Specialty eateries include Johnny Rockets, the 1950's-style burger joint; passengers can indulge in burgers, hot dogs, chili fries, apple pie and onion rings. Royal Caribbean has instituted a $4.95 per-person cover charge for both in-restaurant and take-out dining (and beverages are additionally charged).

On the Royal Promenade, the Cafe Promenade features light fare at all times (pastries in the morning, sandwiches at night); try the pizza, it's excellent.

Portofino is Adventure of the Seas' specialty restaurant. The Italian-themed restaurant, which charges a $20 per-person cover (specialty beverages, beer, wine and soda are sold separately), offers a leisurely multi-course meal. The menu did not change at all on our trip, but that didn't seem to matter to a number of folks who were back for repeat dinners. Note, however, that you need to make reservations as early as possible in your cruise or you may get locked out.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, Continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service between 5 a.m. and midnight (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended); orders made between midnight and 5 a.m. incur a $3.95 fee.

Public Rooms

What's nifty about this ship is there is no one recurrent theme. Feel like an Asian atmosphere? Head for the Imperial Lounge. In the mood for Gothic? Try Jester's nightclub. Feel the urge for a clubby, elegant salon? With or without the cigar smokers, the Connoisseur's Cigar Club is a peaceful hideaway. Most of the major indoor venues are located off or along the Royal Promenade, which tends to really come alive at night. There you'll find shops (the usual cruise-style boutiques that sell logo items, duty-free liquor, perfume and cruisewear) and bars like the Duck & Dog British style pub (though many of its draught beer choices are puzzlingly non-Brit), the Gravity Sports Bar (which seemed empty most of the time) and the somewhat-elegant-but-mostly-bland Champagne Bar. However, the highlight is the 24-hour Cafe at the Promenade, which is a great place to snack and people watch.

Off the main promenade, in various directions, are the Imperial Lounge (the ship's secondary theater with entertainment ranging from line-dancing classes to cooking workshops) and the Connoisseur Club (a very elegant, cozy cigar bar). Connected to the Promenade, via various stairways, are additional entertainment arenas, including Casino Royale, the Schooner Bar, the Aquarium Bar (with its huge fish tanks), the Lyric Theatre and the Jester's nightclub. Tucked away on Deck 2 -- easy to miss -- are the ship's intimate cinema and conference facilities. Each of the performance venues -- Lyric Theatre and Imperial Lounge, for instance -- has its own bar as does Studio B, the phenomenal ice-skating rink/show lounge on deck three.

Overlooking the Royal Promenade is the Library, with an adequate collection of books and comfy leather chairs, and an area for future cruise bookings. The ship has an Internet cafe and cabins are wired for Internet usage. The cost for Internet access, via Wi-Fi or at a work station, is 55 cents a minute, or you can buy packages of 60, 90 or 150 minutes for $28, $38 or $55, respectively.

The Photo Gallery on Deck 3 is the place to giggle over silly photos of your shipmates and buy your own for outlandish prices ($19.95 for 8x10's, often a smaller photo of you surrounded by generic ship images).

Blue Moon Jazz Club, the name on this ship for the traditionally styled Viking Crown Lounge, has the usual fabulous vistas. On the same deck you'll find Seven Hearts Card Room, 19th Hole Golf Bar and Cloud Nine. Adventure of the Seas has a nondenominational chapel called the Skylight Wedding Chapel.

Cabins

Out of 1,557 staterooms, 939 of these have an ocean view (765 have balconies). A hallmark on this ship's class is the Royal Promenade-facing staterooms that overlook that engaging thoroughfare -- these are a step up from the usual inside cabin. A warning however: Privacy is at a premium with these cabins because they do not have privacy glass windows. Also, due to the late-night reveling that goes on, all but night owls may find them noisy.

All staterooms come with a twin-that-can-be-converted-to-queen bed, private bathroom, phone, closed-circuit television, mini bar and hair dryers. They're decorated in festive Caribbean-esque colors, from mist-green to buoyant oranges and yellows.

Moving up a notch is the Junior Suite. It's the smallest, coming in at 293 square feet with a 66-square-foot balcony. Just a bit bigger than the standard balcony, the extra perks (beyond space) that come with the Junior Suite include a bathroom with tub and a bigger living room area.

For those wanting concierge access, the remaining suites, definitely moving into the higher-ticket arena, start with the Royal Family Suite. At 533 - 586 square feet, its grand claim is two bedrooms plus a sitting room; the second bedroom has the usual twin to queen bed configuration plus two Pullmans that come down from the ceiling. Balconies are bigger, too. In this suite they range from 139 - 193 square feet.

The Grand Suite is just a larger "junior," but it's quite a bit larger at 358 - 384 square feet, and features a bathroom with tub. The Owner's Suite offers more amenities and features even beyond increased squared footage; passengers booking this category of accommodations get a bathroom with whirlpool, bidet and separate shower, along with a bedroom and separate living areas (with queen-sized sofa bed). Measurements are 512 square feet for the cabin and 57 square feet for the verandah. And finally? The piece d'resistance is the Royal Suite, which comes with all the Owner's Suite amenities plus a baby grand piano, a balcony that measures 215 square feet (outfitted with better-than-standard furnishings, including a dining table); the stateroom itself is 1,001 square feet.

Tip: Families should book as far in advance as possible -- a year ahead of time if you can -- to have the best choice of family-friendly staterooms (including connecting cabins), particularly if you are traveling during school vacation periods.

Entertainment

Where do you even begin? It can be very hard to relax on Adventure of the Seas -- even on sea days -- because of the head-spinning array of activities that run from dawn to dusk and beyond! The ship's entertainment staff offers an intriguing blend of options, and everyone, from the most traditional passenger to the completely contemporary traveler, will find something to do.

Highlights? During the day, you'll find plenty of traditional cruise activities, such as bingo, dance lessons (line-dancing), rock-climbing wall competitions, horse racing, art auctions, seminars (on everything from healthy eating to gemstones), Mr. Sexy Legs contests, bridge pairing, art and craft workshops and films in the tiny cinema. Poolside, throughout the day, a live band plays a blend of Caribbean and American songs. Royal Caribbean does not offer much in the way of onboard enrichment.

Throughout the day and night, there's often some type of performance along the Promenade, either a parade or jugglers and comics who wander through the giant mall-like space and perform with the crowd.

At night, there are two kinds of entertainment -- the traditional-style cruise productions -- singing and dancing shows in The Lyric, such as "Velvet Rope"-- and goofy passenger-inspired episodes like "Love and Marriage" (a tired idea, perhaps, but still, on our cruise it was screamingly funny). Bar venues, of course, offer a variety of musical performances that are aimed to please just about everybody at any time -- classical guitar, country/western, jazz.

Beyond the usual, where this ship excels is the unique. Studio B (the ice rink) hosts "Cool Art -- Hot Ice," which is phenomenal and worth the effort to get a ticket. (There is no charge but the venue is small so tickets are limited. They make announcements about when you can pick them up.)

Fitness and Recreation

Even on sea days, everyone has plenty of room around the two pools -- an admirable feat. One interesting feature about the hot tubs is some are double-sized, which again makes room for more folks. Tiered decks surround an outdoor theater, where everything from "men's sexiest legs" contests to live dance band performances take place. There are two bars by the main pool. The Solarium pool and whirlpools are situated in a quieter, more laid-back setting; the area is adults-only.

All of the major (outdoor) athletic activities -- the nine-hole miniature golf course, rollerblading rink, full-size basketball/volleyball court, golf simulator and rock-climbing wall -- are tucked into a "sports center" that lies aft. The pocket-sized ice skating rink is tucked well below, into the bowels of the ship. Note that some of the more specialized activities -- rock climbing, rollerblading and ice skating -- are offered only at specified times so check your daily compass for available hours. The ship's jogging/power walking track winds around the main pool area.

One nice touch: Royal Caribbean does not layer on a lot of extra fees for equipment "rental" -- there is no charge for using everything from ice skates (you can choose between hockey and figure models) to rollerblades.

The 15,000-square-foot spa -- the usual Steiner, Ltd., production -- spans two levels. One houses the quite ample fitness facility (no overcrowding here) and a workout room where classes are offered. Upstairs in the spa and salon facility, a wide range of treatment programs are offered, such as facials, massages, manicures and hair-styling.

A couple of caveats: The prices for treatments have risen to breathtaking levels, with a basic 50-minute massage now costing $119 or more. (The industry average is $99.) A manicure starts from $29, a pedicure from $45. The spa did offer "discounts" on port-of-call days (and as the cruise wound down), but that just brought the prices down to industry-normal levels. In addition, treatment employees will engage, way too aggressively, in the much-loathed "Steiner Product Pitch" at the end of your appointment. The products are also over-priced. Just say no.

Family

Adventure Ocean is Royal Caribbean's kids' program, which is one of the best at sea. Parents' only complaint? Trying to check kids out for bedtime!

Royal Caribbean divides kids into age-appropriate groups. For instance, Aquanauts (the program for ages 3 to 5) may feature activities like "Alphabet Scavenger Hunt," story time and Adventure Theater acting classes by Camp Broadway. Explorers (ages 6 to 8) play backwards bingo, make their own surfboards and engage in basic science activities. Voyagers (ages 9 to 11) play foosball and capture the flag, as well as engage in science experiments that range from earthquakes to hailstorms. Even the teens are divided into two groups. Navigators (ages 12 to 14) have "open-mic" karaoke contests and a rock-wall challenge. And, the coolest group (ages 15 to 17) -- so cool, they don't have a kitschy name -- has its own dance parties in the Optix nightclub and video game competitions in the Challenger Arcade. In addition, Royal Caribbean has partnered with Fisher Price, Mattel and Crayola to offer a variety of kid- and family-friendly games and activities for all ages.

Generally, activities at Adventure Ocean cease during lunch and dinner times, but there is the occasional organized meal outing (to Johnny Rocket's, for instance). There were three kids' dinners on our seven night Southern Caribbean cruise. On sea days, you can leave your kids (ages 3 to 11) at Adventure Ocean for a noon to 2 p.m. lunch-and-play for a cost of $7.95. Plus, My Family Time Dining offers an option that lets kids finish dinner in the main dining room in 45 minutes, then get escorted by Adventure Ocean counselors back to the kids' club to play (letting Mom and Dad enjoy a more leisurely meal).

Late-night group babysitting in the kids' areas (for ages 3 to 11) is available from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for $6 per hour, per child. Children must be at least three years old and fully toilet trained (no diapers or pull-ups). In-room babysitting for kids over the age of 1 costs $19 per hour for up to three children within the same family and requires a 24-hour advance reservation.

Fellow Passengers

Passengers range in age from 35 - 55-plus with a large number of families onboard. Adventure of the Seas is a great option for couples and families -- particularly multi-generational groups. Speaking of groups, this a terrific cruise choice for them, whether it's a business group (there's a fully equipped conference center along with meeting space) or an extended family because there's lots to do for all age groups.

We offer the recommendation with one caveat: The sprawling ship and its plethora of options may be bewildering to folks who prefer more traditional styles of cruises.

Speaking of a mix of people, one of the more interesting facets of passenger demographics on this ship is international diversity (the daily Compass is printed in six languages). Adventure of the Seas, which is based in San Juan, also attracts a strong contingent from Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands beyond, which can make for a more varied blend.

Dress Code

Dress is quite casual as befits the Caribbean itinerary. There are two formal nights where most men wore suits and women wore dressy (but not long) cocktail gowns. Otherwise, people dressed in "smart casual" which varied from country club wear to dressy. We saw all types. A couple of nights were themed and you could wear, say, country-western garb or '50's styles.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.75 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $5 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $7.25 if you're in a suite); $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter; and $2.15 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. This totals $11.65 for those in standard cabins and $13.90 for those in suites. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.75 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $5 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $7.25 if you're in a suite); $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter; and $2.15 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. This totals $11.65 for those in standard cabins and $13.90 for those in suites. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Effective March 1, Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

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