Wednesday, 27 June 2012

"Adventure of Seas" Day 1

We just got home from our first cruise vacation with "Adventure of the Seas" - Royal Caribbean. I was so mesmerized by the whole trip that I decided to jot down the experience in here. There will be more stories to come, but I guess the day-to-day itinerary could help for now.
In front of the ship!
We arrived in Malaga Airport at around 11. 15 – 15 minutes late from schedule. The conveyor belt took quite long to return our baggage hence we only finished with everything by 11. 45ish. We were a bit nervous as we have no information in our booklet about which counter to approach outside Malaga airport for Royal Caribbean Passengers. However, turned out that our worry was unnecessary; once out from the airport glass gate, we found a lady with the Royal Caribbean sign bearing the ship’s name “Adventure of the Seas.” We were asked of our names and then were told to find another employee with the same uniform just a bit further. We found this second employee and the process was done again, we were asked for our names and were told to find another employee a bit further. There were around 3-4 employees standing in several points, guiding and pointing people to the correct bus. Before boarding the bus, our luggage, which were already tagged with the luggage tags provided, bearing our name and cabin number, were stowed under the side of the bus and once arrived at the Pier, we did not have to carry  them up to the check in counter. The drive from the airport to Malaga was around 20 minutes, and we managed to catch a glimpse of the city and the beautiful beach. The Malagans are very lucky people indeed, living in Paradise! Around 12ish we arrived at the pier and our tummy was completely unfilled – we need food! We needed to show our booking paper and our passport at the gate and had our hand bags scanned. No outside drinks and food were allowed, except for baby food and crackers.

Then, we had to queue for checking in; the queue was only 2-5 minutes as there were like 20-40 check in counters available.  The person who handled our check in was a very friendly young Spaniard guy who spoke only limited English. The check in took quite some time as we were not EU citizen and we did not have a stamped visa in our passport, which confused the staff. Somehow, because of that reason, ‘they’ – whoever they are- decided that they needed to have our passport AND our EU (German) ID card kept in the ship’s safe deposit box and we were only given copies of our passports and ID and a coupon to retrieve them after the trip ended. At the end of the check in process, we were given our Sea Pass card, as our ID card on the ship. The card had our name, room number (without the deck level), our dining room designation with the dining time and most importantly our muster station, printed on it. The card also acts as a form of payment – whenever we purchased a service at the ship- be it a glass of champagne or a cup of ben & jerry’s ice cream, we simply gave the staff the card and the charge will goes automatically into our stateroom bill. We used also the card as a boarding pass to get off and on the ship on every port of calls.
Once we were done with the check in process, it was almost 1 PM. An employee checked passport details – in our case, our passport copies -and the Sea Pass card at the final gate before boarding and after passing that final checking on ground, we were greeted by a group of photographers from the cruise. We were escorted to a mini studio where our embarkation photos were taken. Our first photo of the holiday! From there we were lead to the gangway of the ship. The gangway or the entrance of the ship at that time was on the 4th deck. After handing in our sea pass card to the security officers and had our pictures taken at the entrance of the ship - this time for security purposes, we were finally inside the ship!
As we were completely hungry, from deck 4 we went straight to the Windjammer Cafe on deck 11. Our first glimpse of the ship showed that the ship although was already 10 years old, showed no sign of rusting. I simply find the ship to exuded cheerful aura, judging from the thousands of lamps found inside the ship.

View of the royal promenade. 

 When we arrived around 1.15ish, the Windjammer Cafe was only half full. The cafe boasted a buffet kind of diner with 3 rounds of buffet area and a sole buffet area for dessert and appetizer. The glass windows surrounded the seating area from bottom to ceiling. I loved it! Staff were everywhere and always greeted us cheerfully. All staff wore name tags with their nationalities printed on it. Most of the staff that we met were Filipinas – they were always nice to us and 90 percent of the time always thought that we were Filipinas too. We also met some Indonesian waiters who spoke quite good English and Spanish too.

Having our tummies filled, we then went to our room. It was ready but without our luggage in sight. As this was our first cruise trip, we splurged a bit hence we booked a Balcony room – a slightly less expensive than a Suite stateroom. The room itself was clean, not something extremely spacious but roomy enough for 2 adults and a kid. The balcony was clean with 2 chairs and a small table.

Our room (right photo), the little monkey at the top right hanging from the hanger was a " towelgami" made by Jerome, our stateroom attendant. 
Our view each evening from the balcony

At around 4 PM, we went down to our muster station – that is the meeting point on the ship near the lifeboat where we must go if there is any emergency event. The drill lasted for around 30 minutes and after that we went for to the room again to check if our luggage had arrived. Unpacking was easy as the room had hidden drawers here and there and the bed was high enough to conceal two big suitcases. Bravo! By the time we finished packing the ship had sailed – we hardly felt any humps and bums as the sail was smooth all the way.
The ship was huge and had 14 decks: there were two medium size swimming pools, three Jacuzzis and one splash pool for small children, a rock climbing wall, a mini golf course and a golf simulator; a basketball field, an in-line skate track and a jogging track, two studios and an ice skating ring. Not to mention the many shops and cafes on the royal promenades. There were also an arcade and discos, and some kids club. 

The jacuzzi and pools!

By 7-ish we went to our dining table. Hoping to find a nice couple to chat with... we found that other couple on the table to be two Germans who hardly speak to us, ha ha ha. As for the food, same as in the windjammer, they were okay and slightly tastier than your average family restaurant. It was a 3 course dinner and we were given a menu with a note on the chef’s special for the night.
There was a show and parade for the night but we were too sleepy to attend them as we woke around 5-30 ish that day for the trip. Having our tummies full, we went straight off to our bed from the dining room and dozing off instantly.

This is the Main dining rooom

Hubby's fave time : dinner time!