July 1st, 2007, was a day I couldn’t wait for. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. My brother and I were about to sail on board Royal Caribbean for our very first time. The ship we were about to sail on was the magnificent Adventure of The Seas, a Voyager class vessel. Three and a half hours later, we touched down in hazy and humid San Juan. The humidity was about seventy-five percent. After getting our bags from the luggage carousel, we were greeted by the Royal Caribbean meet and greet staff. We were instructed to place our luggage tags on our bags and bring them out to the box truck waiting curbside. After handing the bags to the driver, we boarded our shuttle bus to the San Juan cruise terminal. The adventure was about to begin.
The San Juan cruise terminal area is located in Old San Juan, in close proximity to El Castel Del Morro. We pulled into the terminal area, and the ship was right ahead of us. I had never seen a vessel so massive. I had sailed on the Queen Mary 2 on two previous occasions, but I had never seen a cruise ship with so many bells and whistles. We checked in with no problem, and we were on board in less than ten minutes. Our rooms weren’t ready yet, so we went upstairs to have lunch in the Windjammer Café. If I could say one thing about the food, it was absolutely awesome. Did I say it was awesome? Correct me if you will. The food was sinful. Meanwhile, our luggage was still yet to arrive at our cabin. Our bags didn’t arrive at our cabin until seven o’clock at night. I was wearing my black buttoned flowered shirt with my jeans, and my brother was wearing very much the same. The heat and the humidity outside on the pool deck was unreal. We did whatever we could to stay inside. At least the air conditioning helped us out. Later, we had dinner in the main dining room. We met our table mates. We met a married couple from California, a dating couple from Pennsylvania, and there two other couples from Colorado. The evening started off without a hitch.
At 11pm, we finally pulled out of port. Our cruise had begun. Our cruise was taking us to Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. The following day, we were at sea. What was to happen during the afternoon blew my mind. Near the Windjammer Café, I was in line purchasing “Win A Cruise Bingo” cards. Outside the window, I noticed a monster crowd gathered by the pool. I was thinking it was only the band playing and everyone was just checking them out. I asked a member of the cruise staff what was going on. That’s when he told me what was happening. He told me, “Oh, that’s the belly flop competition!”. I missed the belly flop competition over bingo cards?? I guess I did. “Until next time!” I said to a few guests standing in line behind me. Eventually, next time did come. Three years later onboard the Adventure, I managed to nail down third place in the belly flop competition. I wore my bronze medal all the way home. So, how did my game of bingo turn out? In the third and final game, I was two numbers away from winning a free cruise. The afternoon pressed on. We used the Solarium pool, chilled out at the pool bar, and chugged down a few cups of tea downstairs at Café Promenade on the Royal Promenade. A pleasant day it sure was, despite missing out on the belly flop competition.
The next day, we arrived at our first port-of-call, Bridgetown, Barbados. It was a lovely morning. Dear friends of my family’s picked us up at the pier and drove us to their house. They drove us around the island, showing us what had changed, and told us about what was new with their family. We had traveled to Barbados many times when we were little. It was sure a fun place to visit. Our friends showed us the hotels we once stayed at. My, did things change! Even our favorite pizza place, Chefette, at Rockeigh Beach tripled in size. It was a tiny little place the last time we ate there. Wow, were things different! Before heading back to the ship, we met our friends’ daughter. She and her brother used to hang out with my brother and I when we used to visit many years ago. Time sure flies when having fun! We returned to Barbados on the Adventure of the Seas three years later on New Year’s Eve. That time, it was my parents, my brother, and myself all together. Now that was a reunion!
Back on board the Adventure, we went upstairs for drinks. While enjoying a few drinks, we pulled out of Bridgetown. The following day, we tied up in St. Lucia. We had excursion tickets for the Brig Unicorn. The Brig Unicorn was the sailing ship used in “Pirates of The Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl”. It sure felt like I was on a movie set. It looked a bit different. Of course it looks different when you have a cooler on board with the skipper passing around the rum punch, soda, and beer. What a fun day that was! We arrived back at the ship, and we boarded once again. We spent the rest of the afternoon on board. I must have sat in the Jacuzzi with the ladies for over an hour. Just as we were having a good time, we pulled out once again. Next stop, Antigua! Antigua was a very quiet place. Oh my, was it raining cats and dogs. The rain was coming down hard. We had tickets for the 4×4 jeep tour. Our driver was a real piece of work. Every ten minutes or so, he would drive the jeep into an open field near the road. There he would drive the jeep around in circles, saying over his microphone, “Once around, twice is nice, three times a charm, oh my goodness!”. It was one fun day, to say the least. Once the tour was over, we headed back to the pier. We boarded the ship once again, and it was time to move on to St. Maarten. We had dinner at Portofino’s, the Italian specialty restaurant onboard. The food was absolutely fantastic. From the window, we watched the sun set as Antigua disappeared into the twilight. It was definitely the perfect ending to an exciting day.
We tied up in Philipsburg, St. Maarten the following morning. It was absolutely gorgeous out. We had tickets for the island highlights tour. The tour took us to the town of Marigot, the Maho Bay area, all along the island’s shoreline, and back. The tour guide pointed out Orient Bay to us, which is the most famous and busiest beach in the Caribbean. It’s part regular beach and part clothing optional. As soon as we finished the tour, we got into a taxi cab and headed to Maho Bay. Maho Bay is located fifty feet from the Princess Juliana International Airport. The jetliners are just fifty feet above you before they finally touch down. The noise was one thing, but watching the jets kick up sand while taking off was another. That is definitely a beach I want to visit again soon. Of all the Caribbean beaches on my list, Maho Bay is among the musts. Once all of the jet action died down, we headed back to the ship. We boarded the ship, put down all of our souvenirs, and went upstairs for drinks. After drinks, we got ready for dinner. Before we knew it, we began pulling away from the pier. The next and final port-of-call was St. Thomas, USVI.
Our departure from St. Maarten couldn’t have featured a bigger drama than anyone would imagine. As we were steaming away from the Philipsburg pier, the pilot was picked up and his boat pulled away. We were on our way once again, or so I thought. Less than five minutes later, the pilot boat came racing back to the ship. Everyone on the starboard side of the ship (the right side of the ship), were looking on. As the pilot boat pulled up alongside the ship, no one could believe what had happened. A nine year old child had been left behind in St. Maarten. When the child was lifted on board, everyone on the starboard side started cheering. The big question which blew everyone’s mind was “What kind of parents leave their kid behind?” Does anyone know? The story was all over the dining room that night. Despite all the drama, dinner was a fun experience. Everyone shared what they did on island. That’s the fun part of sitting at a table for ten. The stories and poking fun at each other was endless.
The next morning, we tied up at the Havensight pier in St. Thomas, USVI. My brother and I had a few errands to do on island. We first took the cable tram up to Paradise Point. At Paradise Point, we took pictures and had a few drinks. When we were done, we headed back down the hill into the Havensight Mall near the pier to shop for booze. After buying two boxes of vodka and gin, we headed into downtown Charlotte Amalie to browse through the shops. We stopped by the camera store to look at some new camera models, made a traditional stop at the Little Switzerland store, and looked through every little trinket store along the way. Two of my favorite selections in the Little Switzerland store were Lladro and Lalique. They include human figurines, to porcelain animals. Lladro featured the largest porcelain train I have ever seen in my life. Is it ok to say that it cost thirty-five thousand dollars? It’s a store I cannot get enough of. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the ship. Back onboard, we went back to our cabin. We put our souvenirs and stuff away. We also started packing our bags for disembarkation. Shortly later, we went upstairs to the pool deck for drinks. We even brought our cameras with us. While having our drinks, we noticed more drama brewing on the starboard side of the ship. It was four o’clock, castoff time. Just as the lines were being loosened, a couple was seen running down the Havensight pier towards the gangway. Luckily, the ship’s security staff let them onboard. The cruise just couldn’t get any more dramatic than we had imagined.
My least favorite part of any cruise is when it’s over. The final night of the cruise, the waiting staff did its parade around the dining room. The head waiter wished everyone a pleasant journey home. At our dining room table, we were passing around our address books. Everyone was writing down their phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses. Later on in the evening, we all attended the farewell show in the Lyric Theater. The comedian for the night put on a hysterical performance, followed by a performance by the ship’s singers and dancers. When the show was over, streamers and confetti dropped from the rafters. It was quite the perfect ending to a cruise so packed with fun, adventure, and a bit of drama to along with it. The next day, everyone was saying their good-byes before swiping their Sea Pass cards of the final time. When my brother and I left the ship, I couldn’t say enough. For our first time on board Royal Caribbean, it wasn’t just a cruise, it was an adventure. That’s why the ship is named Adventure of The Seas.