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Live-ish + RECAP. Thanksgiving Adventure on Adventure OTS, 23 Nov to 1 Dec 2019


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Day 8 (final day, no, no, no!) - 30 November - At Sea

Cruise Compass:

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Departure information:

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We definitely enjoy having two seas days at the end of a cruise as we find it to be more relaxing than having a port call.

We went to the Captain's Corner, which was interesting as usual, and to the Promenade to purchase the obligatory t-shirts, and then to the photo gallery to order our photos. We only ordered the two free ones we were entitled to as Diamond perks. Great perk, that one, saved us some pennies! :5_smiley:

At lunch in the WJ they had a big chocolate section and for once I was able to get a pic without anybody in front of it. Don't these apples look yummy? I didn't try them though because there had also been a very big cake display and I sampled several...

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There was some interesting artwork around the ship that I would have liked to photograph but just never got round to; either I didn't have my phone with me at the time or there would be lots of people around, but I did manage to snap this one thanks to a really sweet little boy telling his mum to "wait a bit, the lady's taking a photo". Awwww. :17_heart_eyes:

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The weather was actually a good bit cooler today and the ship had been rocking quite noticeably since dinner time the previous night. This was apparently due to the massive weather system 200 miles to the north, but it did calm down enough that we managed to get a last couple of hours of sunbathing in and watch folks falling in on the flowrider.

Dinner was again in the MDR and it was one of my favourite menus:

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We skipped the actual starters and had the tiger shrimp as a starter instead:

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I followed that with the rack of lamb, which was very good:

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And rounded it all off with the brownie from the kids' menu:

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Then I had to go and pack, since I had staunchly refused to do it during the day. But let's face it, how long do you need to just throw everything into your suitcase? 

We also had to go and get the correct tags for our bags. We had been given tag number 8 but actually needed number 1 according to the departure information.

And since we had set up a cash account the last thing that had to be done before turning in for the night was settle up. This is where our new Diamond status really came into its own. Not counting gratuities, our onboard spend was under $200 and most of that was down to the post-cruise excursion we booked. Definitely a worthwhile status.

We were thankful for the fact that they gave us our hour back on the last night since we were having to get up very early the next morning. The meeting time for our post-cruise excursion to the Everglades was 7.30 am! :44_frowning2:

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On 12/10/2019 at 5:13 PM, FionaMG said:

I nodded off practically the moment I sat down in Studio B and when I wakened up again they were wrapping it all up! I

On our first cruise, we went to the ice show on the first night, and my wife promptly fell asleep.  

I haven't let her forget.  😄 

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9 hours ago, Srp431 said:

Thanks for the photos and the cruise compass photos , and the MDR menus

My pleasure. Thanks for following along. :14_relaxed:

I also have this MDR menu, which I think is from night 3, one of the nights when we did speciality dining. I went up to the Diamond Lounge to get a photo of it, so disregard the date stamp as it's not relevant.

I did also take a pic of the night 5 (?) menu at the same time but it was too blurred to be of any use. In any event, if you have the app, the menus in that were spot on for the whole cruise except Thanksgiving which was obviously and exception.

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Eviction day - 1 December - Post-cruise excursion to the Everglades with Miami Airport drop-off

We were up bright and early at 6 am this morning to ensure we had time for one last WJ breakfast before they made us get off the ship. We timed it very nicely; they had just opened up the second side of the WJ so there were plenty of seats available and it was a far cry from the pandemonium we were expecting.

We arrived at the meeting point in the Imperial Lounge a couple of minutes early and I was expecting us to be held captive there for a good half hour before being led of the ship, as this has been our experience in the past. But, no. After a mere 10 minutes they called us for our final "ding".

When we first booked our cruise I knew we would be doing a post-cruise tour with airport drop-off because of the fact that the sailing was from Fort Lauderdale. For ease and convenience it's hard to beat, but I wasn't thrilled with the prices on the cruise planner, and however obsessively I checked them (at least once a day) the price on those excursions never budged an inch.

There were only two that fitted our timing needs, the hoho bus tour and the Everglades one, and we were not particularly enamoured of either, especially at the prices they were charging. However, the alternative would have been to book the shuttles (no internet access to order a Lyft) and then spend hours at Miami Airport. I did momentarily consider the possibility of storing our luggage at Miami Airport and using the metro-mover rail thingy to go to Bayside but bearing in mind it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving I was concerned we might get ourselves in a pickle trying to do that.

Then when we went to the excursions desk to book they told us that the only tour at all that was operating was the Everglades ones. Well, that at least saved us tossing a coin. 

The whole "get off our ship" process was the easiest and quickest ever and the tour bus was loaded up and ready to go within about 20 minutes of the final ding.

We did this "same" tour 17 years ago but there were some significant differences this time round.

First off, the last time we did it there was a dedicated Miami bus and a dedicated FLL bus. Not so this time. Everyone was piled on to the same bus, meaning that at the end of the tour we had three drop-off stops at FLL, a traffic-jammed side trip back to the port to drop the tour guide off, and two stops at Miami. It also turned out that there were folks on our bus from the Allure of the Seas as well. Sales clearly were very poor.

The tour guide, Yvonne, was outstanding and I do not give that praise lightly. I was a tour guide myself in my younger days and I have absolutely zero tolerance for sub-par guiding. I particularly liked that she politely but firmly told the chatterboxes on board to shut up and let those who wanted to hear her commentary do so! Tops marks for that.

The facility with the airboat ride that we visited was very different from the one 17 years ago. This was a rescue facility as opposed to one where the animals are largely kept for human entertainment and I liked that about it. We were the first bus to arrive so we did the airboat ride straight away. We saw several alligators and a soft-backed turtle that swam past the boat within touching distance of where I was sitting.

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There were also two talks/demonstrations about the animals that were sheltered here.

Some of the cages had a plaque telling the resident's story, although not all because they were in the process of renewing them.

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After we had finished our visit to the facility we went to another - unscheduled - stop at a nature park, which I felt was largely pointless but was still better than sitting around in the airport. I overheard a guide from another company commenting that on her tour it was actually a scheduled stop but that most of the time they never made it there because of delays at the airboat facility.

From here it was time to head back to the airportS. I was less than impressed with this part and made a point of commenting about it on my post-cruise questionnaire. First off we went to FLL, where we made three stops, one at each of the two end terminals and a single stop at the V-shaped intersection of the two middle terminals. This was also where passengers with "hotel drop-off" were dropped off.

After this, we had to go back to the port to drop the guide off since that was where she had started her day. This was very frustrating and annoying and, to my mind, not acceptable. Separate arrangements should have been made to get the guide back to the port. We got stuck in a monumental traffic jam and it took us 30 minutes to get from FLL to Port Everglades. Once we did finally manage to drop her off it was the driver's responsibility to get us to Miami, which he did in timely fashion. There were two drop-offs at Miami, one at the North Terminal and the other at the South Terminal.

Once we had figured out where we needed to go from the drop-off point we pretty much breezed through the bag drop for our TAP flight and the security check. I did see a notice saying that were no TSA pre-check lines at that security check (area F) so that's something worth bearing in mind if it's something you would normally expect to use.

While we were waiting in the departure lounge we had some lunch - pizzas from the pizza hut, which were ok - before boarding our flight. The flight was actually on time, something of an achievement for TAP whose punctuality record leaves a considerable amount to be desired.

In similar fashion to our outbound flight, we had paid extra for the exit row seats, and again this made a huge difference, especially on an overnight flight.

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The in-flight meals were passable.

Dinner:

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And breakfast:

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The breakfast could have done with an extra bread roll, though.

On arrival in Lisbon we had an almost four-hour layover before our connecting flight to our local airport. As usual, TAP had ground staff on hand to usher folks through who had tight connections. They do handle this very well and it's important because you actually have to go through another security check to get into the main part of the terminal where the connecting flights depart from.

Lisbon is a very easy airport to connect in, and TAP have some very competitive pricing with a free stop-over option, so if anybody is looking at travelling to Europe in the near future, this is worth consideration. TAP fly non-stop to Lisbon from the following US airports: Miami, Boston, Chicago O'Hare, Newark, JFK, Washington and San Francisco.

And suddenly our trip was over. It took us almost 24 hours straight from the wake-up call at 6 am on the last morning on board till the moment we put our key in the front door. We were exhausted and Kitty, our cat, was ecstatic to have her "hoomans" back. She was meowing and purring and rubbing and head-butting us all at once! What a welcome! 

Here she is supervising our packing the day before we left. :17_heart_eyes:

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And that pretty much concludes the trip report per se but I have another couple of posts still to add with miscellaneous musings about dining, our experience as newbie Diamonds and the gym.

Thanks again to everyone who's stuck with me for this long. I truly appreciate it. :14_relaxed:

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5 hours ago, JLMoran said:

Thanks for a great trip report and live(-ish) blog, @FionaMG!

My pleasure. Thanks for following. 😊

The next one is going to to be from your end of the world, but not till spring 2021. We have to save up first because we want to spend a few days doing touristy stuff in New York before cruising.

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First off, apologies for the out-of-sequence photo in my previous post. By the time I realised it wasn't where it was supposed to be it was too late to edit it. :11_blush:

On now to Miscellaneous Musings #1 - the Gym

Many years ago I did athletics at international level and I still compete in the veterans' age groups, so keeping fit while cruising is very important to me.

One of the things I particularly like about cruise ships is they tend to have fantastic keep fit facilities and Adventure did not disappoint in this respect. However, having sailed on her before, some years ago now, I immediately noticed a difference. Because of the addition of extra cabins during her last makeover, the aerobics room at the gym was swallowed up. To replace it, they did away with the big hot tub that used to be at the entrance of the gym.

This is the current aerobics area:

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The gym per se remains intact with a decent weight-training area and lots of cardio equipment, although now that I think about it, I don't remember seeing a rowing machine.

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I particularly liked the Life Fitness cardio equipment (I used a cross trainer and a treadmill), which were extremely simple and intuitive to use (just as well, given the lack of instructors to assist - soap box moment coming up). For me, it was a great plus that if you entered your weight in kilogrammes the machines automatically switched distance and speed to kilometres.

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For the time being, Adventure's gym also still has locker rooms with showers. Unfortunately, as I understand it, there is a good chance that this nice gym is due for the chop when the ship is amped in 2021. I have heard that it could be downsized and shifted to the same place where the gym is now on Navigator.

Various organised activities were on offer, some of them at a cost, but I can't say whether or not they actually happened. One evening when I was training in the aerobics area another guest came in looking for the evening stretch class which was due to take place, but there was nobody else about and it still had not started when I left. In any case here is the list of activities:

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As for my soap box moment (I'll keep it short) this is to do with the dire lack of assistance in the gym. For some years now, staff cuts and/or sales drives have resulted in the gym instructors being largely unavailable simply to supervise the gym, assist people with the machines and look out for safety issues. Nowadays, they are mostly invisible because they have to do paid activities such as foot analyses and weight-loss consultations. This is an accident waiting to happen. One day, a cruiser in flip-flops or a long floaty dress is going to get seriously hurt as they try using equipment they would never dream of even approaching at home (and, yes, I have witnessed both of these situations, although admittedly not on this sailing). I did mention it on my questionnaire but I have mentioned it on my questionnaire for the last three cruises and the situation remains unchanged. I find it hard to understand how a cruise line which puts so much emphasis on safety in practically every other area seems completely blinkered as regards the hazards of inappropriate gym use...:35_thinking:

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Post-cruise Miscellaneous Musings #2 - Our experience as newbie Diamonds 

We definitely enjoyed the benefits of our newly acquired Diamond status. 

We thought the concierge was courteous and attentive and the lounge itself was lovely. We had breakfast there on the first morning due to the early timing of the M&M and it was adequate for our needs, although unfortunately the coffee machine ran out of milk so we only managed to get tiny coffees and the people after us had to wait for it to be replenished. The coffee machine had been one of the perks we were most looking forward to and, unfortunately, it was a little disappointing. Whatever coffee beans they were using were fine for drinks with milk in them but very harsh and bitter if you just wanted espresso. As espresso drinkers at home, we do feel qualified to comment.

We also used the lounge on several occasions to get drinks in the evening just before our late seating dinner at 8 pm. When I say "drinks" I actually mean a can of soda and a bottle of water each, since we don't drink alcohol. Perhaps we did not get as much "benefit" out of this perk as others who do drink alcohol, but it saved us the cost of the sodas throughout the cruise. On other occasions, we simply stopped at one of the bars to get the sodas. Interestingly, at two of them - the pub and the Champagne bar - they insisted they had to open the cans before giving them to us, whereas this did not happen at the café promenade. Also interestingly, none of the bars we visited had the happy hour menu on display.

We also took advantage of the free photo perk. Usually we would buy one photo each, so this again saved us some money, since we were able to choose one each at no cost.

And we also made use of the Diamond section in the MDR at breakfast on two occasions. We did not use it more often partly because the MDR finishes serving breakfast quite early and partly because we found the service to be excruciatingly slow.

All in all though we were happy with our new status. 


And that brings me on to Post-cruise Miscellaneous Musings #3 - Dining

Dining is obviously highly subjective so our opinions may well be different from yours, but here goes.

Over the course of our cruise we had breakfast once in the DL, twice in the MDR and the rest in the WJ. I think I have already mentioned my dislike of the layout of the WJ on this class of ship but one thing that I did like was the toast station right at the entrance. This was the area where we usually sat and it meant we were able to have hot toast when we wanted it, rather than the cold version we received on both occasions in the MDR.

All of our lunches were in the WJ and again that area at the entrance was our go-to spot. They had the makings for some tasty salads there, with several types of salad leaves, beans, corn, chickpeas, tuna and more. All in all the quality and variety were very acceptable.

We did not eat dinner in the WJ so I can't comment on that aspect.

On this cruise we had the three-night dining package and there was a specific reason for this, harking back to our cruise last year on Navigator. That was our first encounter with the new menus, which we found to be very limited in terms of choices. On that 9-night cruise there were three or four nights when we struggled to find something to our liking. Also on that cruise, by mere coincidence, we tried our first ever specialty dining because I got a cracking deal on the now demised BOGO.

With this in mind, when I saw in the app that the menus for our Adventure cruise were the same as those last year on Navigator, I thought we would be best with a three-night dining package. That way, we would only have to eat the NY strip steak once!

That said, on the nights we ate there we found the quality of the food in the MDR to be very good and, in fact, I think our most disappointing meal was probably the one in Chops. However, what we did notice in the MDR was the distinct downturn in the level of service and this was certainly not due to the staff themselves but to the fact that they (serving and kitchen staff) were clearly insufficient in number. I remember in our early years of cruising that dinner in the MDR used to be a fancy affair and one of the highlights of our cruise experience. That unfortunately can no longer be said to be the case but times change and since we're not really paying a great deal more for our cruises than when we first started back in 2001, I think we can probably bear to put up with it. :8_laughing:


To the extent that we're already planning our next one. Unfortunately it's not going to be until spring 2021 because we want to spend a few days doing touristy stuff in the Big Apple and then cruise from there, which means some serious saving up will have to be done beforehand.

In the meantime, and since that really does wrap up my rather long "not-very-live-at-all-and-actually-mostly-recap" review, a huge thank-you to all of you who have indulged me by following along. :17_heart_eyes:

Until our next Adventure, from us to you - Happy Cruising!

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