Mark and I decided that since we were going to be just an hour from Galveston this winter, we’d take advantage of going on a cruise as part of our 25th anniversary celebration (March was our anniversary month). From the advice of a few friends and family, we booked a basic cruise with Royal Caribbean (RC) on their Adventure of the Seas.
We have never been interested in taking a cruise, so this would be an experience we were nervous about, yet excited to experience together.
As the day approached, our excitement grew. We found an awesome kennel for Pica and put our RV to bed for a week. The customs process was amazing! Our pre-checklist created a time for a set amount of visitors so the terminal wasn’t bombarded with hundreds of people at a time. We waited for maybe 10, but walked through most lines and check points. Before too long, we were on the ship and on our mission to explore!
Setting Sail - -
Our stateroom was on the 11th deck. We were in a hallway of just 6 rooms, and we were on the same floor as all the pools, 2-4 bars, slides, and main buffet restaurant. Because the rooms were in the front of the ship beyond the adult only area, it was not in a main walkway or busy location, so it was extremely quiet! For breakfast, it was a short walk from our room down to the other side of the ship to the buffet. In the evening, the jacuzzi was about 100 feet through the doors and around the corner. VERY cool!
* Note: If we go on future cruises, we will always look for this type/location of room.
We had 2 days at sea, going to Costa Maya and returning to Galveston. On these days, we booked all the events and shows we could manage. We ended up seeing ALL the shows they had to offer; joined in with many trivia get-togethers, and enjoyed watching all the crazy/fun events that other people were taking part of. For instance; 'Friendly Feud', 'Speed wall climbing', and the 'sexiest man competition'.. Ha! I ended up leaving early on that! Most of these events we just watched a little of. Was never interested in the shopping on the main Promenade, nor the unlimited ice cream or pizza.. What we enjoyed the most was walking outside around the decks and watching other boats, the sea, and the stars. Sitting outside in that sea breeze together was priceless!
~ Click on photos to enlarge... ~
Costa Maya - -
Costa Maya was our first experience of an excursion. We booked through a 3rd party company, and could not take advantage of our entire tour because there wasn’t enough time. However, they did move us around a little to make it work, and we were still able to see the Mayan Temple. We had a small group, and a great tour guide, so I consider that a LOT better than the large groups booked by the RC excursions.
When departing the ship, we walked through a mall of shops geared toward travelers. Everyone was ‘in your face’ about buying their items, and we did not like the pushy sales people. We quickly had fear of going into any store, knowing that they would somehow convince us into buying something we didn’t want.
Otherwise, Costa Maya has a LOT to do away from specific excursions. Bike Rental tours, 4-wheeler tours, Lagoon swimming, beach, and just take a taxi to a great location. There is a LOT more to explore here, so don't be afraid to get online and read the reviews. :-)
Cozumel - -
Cozumel was a lot nicer, but the Dolphin Encounter excursion was still quite the experience. Once again, we had to walk through a mall where all the sales reps met us in the streets and begged us to buy their product. There was no way around this, so we just kept walking. We were eventually whisked away by one of RC’s vans, to our mini lagoon where they had 16 dolphins and enclosed locations for snorkeling and kayaking.
Now, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting our dolphin ‘Achilles’, touching him, and seeing all the dolphin tricks up close! This was probably the highlight of my trip at least.. however, we really expected more and hoped to be in a beautiful, calm logoon. Instead, we were at the edge of the sea, and the choppy waves made kayaking scary. Only Mark went snorkeling, and it was just like being in a basic aquarium. The area was stocked with fish, and even though it was a neat experience, the choppy waters reduced clarity and it just wasn't as brilliant as we thought.
After speaking with others that have been on many cruises, they suggested NOT getting any excursions, yet walking into town (past all the piranha salespeople, and asking the local people what’s good to do if you only have a few hours. Then, you’d be supporting the real local people, and going to some pretty and less populated areas (the diamonds in the rough).
Note: IF we do this and we don’t make it back to the ship, the ship WILL leave, and returning home is on our dime. If we take the ships excursions and we’re late to the ship, the company will get us back on their dime no matter what happens.
Before leaving Cozumel, we swam in the cove near the ships. It was a beautiful 85 degree day, and the crystal clear waters were 82 degrees. We really enjoyed playing around in this little cove.
Sunsets - -
You know, God makes a LOT of beautiful sunsets.. But for some reason, the ones at sea just seem to be extra special.
Cruise Highlights - -
Highlights of the Cruise: Being our first cruise, we had no real expectations. We were ‘wowwed’ by everything, specifically the size, grandeur, and the professional atmosphere of the entire staff.
The dining experience itself was spectacular. We chose traditional late dining, so we ate near the same people every evening at 7:30. I really believe the Lord puts us by people we can connect with, and this time was no different. We made some wonderful friends, and connected with them on several levels. We ended up exchanging contact information and will hopefully stay in touch with them.
A really cool experience was an afternoon at the jacuzzi. I met a deaf individual with his hearing friend. Since I’m in the middle of sign language classes, I was able to sign/speak with them a little and they were more than eager to interact with me, teach me a few things and give me some tips. That was the highlight of that day!
Here's a few more pictures detailing the ship itself...
Final Thoughts - -
We really loved how there was something for everyone on the ship. Those who like to party, gamble, shop, arcade and sports, can do those things. For us, it was the shows, the jacuzzi, the ambiance, and the spectacular dining experience. It was really nice that no matter what you like to do, there is something for you on a cruise.
We were amazed by the location of our room, and wouldn’t change a thing! It was quiet and comfortable. We had a wonderful stateroom attendant, that made everything perfect for us, including making a new towel animal for us each night. LOVED it!
There were many dining options included for cruisers, and the buffet at the Windjammer was the most popular. It had perfect seating, good food, and awesome servers. It was open from 6:30am-11pm for non-stop dining possibilities.
Will we go on another cruise? We are not sure yet. We're more apt to fly to a location and enjoy a week, instead of cruising there. However, for anybody that loves the pools, the arcade, casino, slides, and all that cruises have to offer,,, cruising is definitely a great option for them.
Thank you for letting us share.. Feel free to leave us comments. :-)